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College in their charter, and further affiliated to them in the subsequent Acts of Parliament, especially that of 32 Hen. VIII, c. 40, which expresses its relation to medicine, and to the physician's office in the following manner :
“ And forasmuch as the science of physic doth comprehend, include, and contain the knowledge of surgery as a special member and part of the same; therefore be it enacted, that any of the same company or fellowship of physicians, being able, chosen, and admitted by the said president and fellowship of physicians, may, from time to time, as well within the city of London as elsewhere within this realm, practise and exercise the said science of physic in all and every his (sic) members and parts, any act, statute, or provision made to the contrary notwithstanding."
Thus is admitted by the charter, and its confirmatory Acts of Parliament, that which all foregoing authorities—excepting the Romish church—had made evident: viz., that chirurgics were an important part of the physician's office.
It has been, and, like other branches of medicine, ever will be, made an especial study, and chiefly exercised by some individuals, whose talent, taste, or opportunities have given them peculiar advantages or inclination for pursuing, extending, and perfecting it.
These, however, are exceptions. It is the har
monious use of all acknowledged means of cure that should constitute the worth of the ordinary family physician, rather than the exaltation or rejection of any individual part of his office. In this manner surgery was combined and used with all other means by the most renowned physicians of antiquity. During the period of its transition from the Priest to the Barber—that is, between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries-we have seen the division testified against,* more or less, in the various schools of the more enlightened portions of Europe, commencing with those of Salernum in the twelfth up to and including that of the Royal College of Physicians of England in the sixteenth century.
If such is the history of Chirurgics as nected with the other branches of medicine since the time of Hippocrates, and such the cause of its separation and degradation during the interval referred to; we may now ask, in what manner, and for what reasons, has this division continued throughout modern times, so that not only the most eminent in that branch of medicine is denied the time-honoured name of physician, but, if possessed of a surgical diploma, he must abjure its use, (and until recently be disfranchised from the College of Surgeons) ere he
* The names of Roger, Roland, Brunus, Theodoricus, Guido de Cauliaco, Vesalius, and many others, suffer not the truth to perish, that “diæta, potio, et chirurgia” together constituted the physician's
See Appendix, 25a to 251.
can aspire to this spurious test of a “ pure” physician.*
It is not surprising that men of the highest talent, education, and position should have shrunk from the disgusting and degrading fraternity who were, in the sixteenth century, for the most part practitioners in this branch of the physician's office; yet, if there had been moral courage equal to the talents of those who obtained the charter of the College of Physicians -if the translations of Galen effected by Linacre had been their guide—if the bright examples of antiquity above recorded rather than their mediæval predecessors, the priest-physicians, had been followed—if with the suppression of monasteries there had been an entire abolition of the corruptions and divisions of medicine originated in and so long fostered by them, then those powers and privileges would have been exercised over and extended to all and every branch of medicine, then should we have heard for three centuries within the college walls the voices of Hippocrates, Celsus, Galen, Paulus, and Avicenna, not in name only, but in all their fulness and purity. There would have been the depositary of all the weapons wherewith the battles of health and life
* The bye-law still exists, although its stringency is somewhat relaxed : “ Antequàm quispiam in numerum permissorum admittatur, si fortè chirurgorum aut pharmacopolarum sodalitio olim donatus fuerit, sodalitii istius privilegiis omnibus renunciet, nec non emancipationis suæ literas firmâ auctoritate comprobatas registrario proferat.”
could have been fought against disease and death, so that every member of that one body might have selected any or all of the acknowledged means of cure, as talent or opportunity had enabled him to wield them. Better results might have indeed ensued if such had been the course; then would quackery have been supplanted, and unity reestablished; we should never then have possessed those laws that disgrace our statute books, and degrade that “unum corpus” which the college was commissioned to support and protect—those laws that affixed their seal to the division and corruption previously pursued with no other sanction than the edicts of the Romish Church. But, alas ! these precedents were echoed and confirmed, and that body even further subdivided by the laws of this land in the nineteenth century.
It is easy to divine what might have been our present condition under other circumstances; but it is our sorry task to inquire what are the factswherefore, and in what manner, has this division been continued ?
During the first half century after the establishment of the College of Physicians, we are not only left with few examples in its members, but without a single attempt in any way to carry out its powers and privileges as far as surgery was concerned ; on the contrary, it was during this period that the division which had been so strongly protested against was restored and perpetuated by two several Acts of Parliament.* The practice of surgery, having been separated from that of the other branches of medicine, as before described, was confided in this country, by Royal Charter, 1 Edward IV, to the “Company of Barbers;" but, besides this company, there existed prior to the establishment of the College of Physicians another body of men practising surgery, called the “ Surgeons of London."
The first Act confirmatory of such unworthy precedents subsequent to and subversive of the College Charter, was the 32 Henry VIII, c. 42, which incorporated and made one“ Company of Barber Surgeons,”+ of these “two several and distinct companies of surgeons occupying and exercising the said science and faculty of surgery,
the one company being called the Barbers of London, and the other company called the Surgeons of London, which company of barbers be incorporated,” &c.
“and the other company, called the surgeons, be not incorporate, nor have any manner of incorporation,” &c.
This re-erection of the barrier between medicine and surgery—this re-establishment of the priest's and barber's division--was further effected by the
* 32 Hen. VIII, c. 42; 34 & 35 Hen. VIII, c. 8.
of Hans Holbein's celebrated painting represents Dr. Allsop, Dr. Butts, and Dr. Chambre transferring surgery to this Company.