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pharmacy and its assignment to chemists and druggists, they too have pursued an onward course, refusing either of such alliances with that branch of medicine of which they were the especial champions, rather than follow the example of England, who, we have seen, throughout this same period was inviting and cherishing a more extensive corruption of a similar character, which (that of the apothecary with the physician) reached its culminating point in the Act of 1815. The one an exotic, dying out with the ignorance on which it was engrafted—the other of endogenous growth, springing from, and continued for, selfish and interested motives.
Thus we may understand both Ireland and Scotland justly disclaiming a part in this third great corruption of medicine.
“ The profession of apothecary in Ireland is a restricted one ; it is open only to men whose knowledge has been tested by examination, after they have passed a sufficient time in practically learning their art. Their
proper business is to prepare and compound drugs in accordance with an authoritative standard, and they enjoy a monopoly of the retail trade in the compounding of drugs for medical use. They are responsible for the due discharge of this duty; and being for the most part respectable men, they perform it conscientiously and satisfactorily. Hence it is a rare thing to hear of misadventures with drugs or of spurious medicine in Ireland. In England, on the other hand, the name of apothecary only exists. The word has lost its original, proper, and we rejoice to be able to add, its Irish signification. Any man who pleases may undertake to do apothecaries' work; he may open a shop, call himself chemist and druggist, and poison her majesty's subjects, or frustrate the skill of the physician, as chance may direct.”*
In Scotland a different state of things has prevailed. “ There they have druggists, surgeons, and physicians, but no apothecaries. The surgeons sometimes supply their own medicines, charging a low price for them, but more frequently they only prescribe. The duties of the 'general practitioner? are performed by surgeons; often by physicians, who in that case charge only a small fee; and very commonly by gentlemen possessing at the same time a surgeon's diploma and a physician's degree. Most of the leading physicians in Scotland are family physicians' in a great number of families—that is to say, they are the only medical attendants; at the same time being the most eminent men of their body, they are applied to as 'consulting practitioners' in cases of greater difficulty or danger. The physician in Scotland retains the place which he has always held, whereas in England he has been almost superseded as a family physician' by the advancement of the apothecary, and he is too often regarded as a consulting practitioner only. It will be at once seen that the temptation to give unnecessary quantities of medicine has been much less in Scotland than in England, and that this fact will explain the corresponding difference in the habits of the profession and of the public in the two countries."*
* Dublin University Magazine,' vol. xlviii, p. 89.
How vast then is the difference, if all or any of the nations of the earth be compared with this boasted metropolis of the world!
At the present day, there is nothing to prevent any man-or woman eithert-in England and Wales, however ignorant or dishonest, from opening a shop and proclaiming himself, or herself, equal to undertake the important and responsible duties of a pure apothecary, which in all other states demand such careful education, searching examination, and strict surveillance.
Before the voluntary establishment of the Pharmaceutical Society in 1840, the best men who were pursuing this vocation in England and Wales, had no opportunity even to pass through a prescribed course of education and examination; whilst in all other countries, the apothecary as well as the physician has a high standard of attainments set before him which he is bound to reach, and whereby it happens that instead of rivals, each becomes the
* Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, May 5th, 1849.
† In the census of 1851, there are 268 “ Female Druggists,” besides 236 others described as “ dealing in drugs."
earnest, efficient, zealous co-operator of the other, in his separate and defined department.
Prior to this last invasion of the physician's office in England and Wales, and its legalization in 1815, the duties of physician and apothecary, although imperfectly fulfilled, were as distinct here as elsewhere.* They were relatively as the artist and the artist's colourman, the army and the army accoutrement maker.
Each of the divisions of therapeutics had its separate and valuable adjuvant, the apothecary bearing the same relation to pharmaceutics as the cook to dietetics, and the surgical instrument maker to chirurgics; each the preparer of those several weapons, wherewith the “pure” and well-equipped physician of ancient times went forth to battle, avoiding no foe, and refusing no means wherewith to combat him.
The foregoing facts will, I trust, render evident that the three great corruptions of the physician's office, and their consequent divisions now perpetuated in England and Wales, have arisen under similar circumstances, and are due to the same causes, viz., the failure of those who were the depositories of power for the time being to send forth an adequate supply of well-equipped physicians; whereby it followed that the office was invaded by some ignorant and uneducated usurper.
* See antè,
If light and truth had not been extinguished—if the ancient schools of medicine had not been annihilated in the seventh century,—the priest and the monk had never usurped the office of physician ; if the exercise of chirurgics had not been denounced by the church in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and, in spite of the Arabic and Revival schools, consigned to the barber, -he had never succeeded to that office; so, alas ! if the College of Physicians had fulfilled her mission,* if the number and functions of her fellows had not been restricted within such narrow limits, the barber-surgeon had never been re-established in this kingdom, 1540 ; the apothecary-physician, with his exclusive exercise of pharmaceutics, would never have been installed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or legalised in the nineteenth ; neither should we, at the present day, have seen a fourth impending corruption and division, in the exclusive exercise of dietetics, by homeopaths, hydropaths, and others; thus completing the circle of corruptions of the physician's office :
1st. In the invasion of medicine by Priests and Monks, and their exclusive exercise of Miraculous powers.
2nd. In the invasion of medicine by Barbers, and their exclusive exercise of Chirurgics.
* “Pro salubri gubernatione, supervisu, et correctione collegii seu communitatis prædictæ, et omnium hominum eandem facultatem exercentiuin.”-Charter, 10 Hen. VIII.