Page images
PDF
EPUB

3rd. In the invasion of medicine by Apothecaries, and their exclusive exercise of Pharmaceutics.

4th. In the invasion of medicine by homøopaths, hydropaths, and others, and their exclusive exercise of Dietetics.

And, finally, in the several and interminable subdivisions of each of these usurpers, as seen in the “ specialities” of the present day.

CORRUPTIONS AND DIVISIONS

OF MEDICINE.

THEIR EFFECTS.

“Rixis et contentionibus partim inter sectas, partim inter medicos uni sectæ addictos, in primis dogmaticos, causa multiplex ansa dabat, verum hæc non ad certiorem et utiliorem reddendam medicinam, sed potius ad distinctionum, divisionum, hypothesium, copiam augendam, et ad rigorem quendam, quem singulæ sectæ servabant, quique vix permittebat, ut quæ utilia aliæ habebant sectæ, collecta ad unam redirent.”Galen's Works, Kühn Edition, Preface by J. C. G. Ackermann.

In ancient times, physicians were chiefly divided into the three great sects of Dogmatics, Empirics, and Methodics. Besides these, were several minor divisions, based on the hypotheses they severally held respecting the nature of disease, or the principles on which its treatment should be conducted. But, as regards the extent of disease, or the means of cure, which each might include in the exercise of his office, no limit was placed, save that which his judgment or his inclination dictated. If the contentions arising from such divisions were condemned by Galen, as rendering medicine less certain and less useful, how much more may this be affirmed of the corruptions and divisions of mediæval and modern times, the effects of which we are now to consider ?

One palpable evil arising from the three corruptions and consequent divisions of these times, has been too evident in the foregoing inquiry, namely, the comparative elevation of one, by the degrading alliance of another section of the profession, and the corresponding exaggeration or depreciation of such diseases, or such means of cure, as were exclusively adopted or rejected by each successive invader of the physician's ranks. In this manner the superstitious practices of the Priest-physician—the operations and external appliances of the Barber-surgeon—the polypharmacy of the Apothecary-physician-have each had their day; one but following the other, through the still-existing want of unity, purity, and fulness in the physician's office.

To attempt a description of all the petty strivings, despicable jealousies, and moral delinquencies, arising from these compulsory divisions in times past, would be as hopeless as useless ; it shall therefore be my aim to set forth some of the more extensive, though less acknowledged, enormities that are still existing, and especially such as are connected with the corruption and division established in England and Wales alone, and in this the nineteenth century! The evil effects engendered by each of these corruptions may be traced, not only generally amongst the public and the profession, but especially in the Hospitals and Medical Schools, as well as in the various Licensing bodies, which, originating in them, have been tributary to them, and are, even at this day, the continued sources of corruption or division. These powerful contaminating influences are too prominent in all the channels through which of necessity the medical student enters on his professional life, acquires his medical knowledge, and is at last sent forth into the world, fraught it may be with much of light and truth and learning, but fettered it must be by the prejudices and selfish interest which attaches without exception more or less to the corporate body destined henceforth to be nominally his “alma mater.” One great fact is evident in all the various Licensing bodies, the Universities and Medical Corporations of Great Britain and Ireland—that not one of these is at the present day entitled to grant to its members by a single license “ to practise and exercise the science of physic in all and every its members and parts."*

Each of these contending factions has its own exclusive power and privilege, over which the prejudices and interested motives of past ages have cast a halo of importance proportioned to the limit assigned to it.

* This power, originally possessed by the College of Physicians, and preserved to the time of Harvey, was subsequently annihilated in the bye-law " Antequam quispiam.” See Appendix, 26.

« PreviousContinue »