Page images
[ocr errors]


deavoured to “nothing extenuate nor set down aught in malice ;” I have sought faithfully to portray the office of the ancient physician in all its purity, unity, and fulness—as contrasted with that of the modern physician in England and Wales, with some of its corruptions, divisions, and contractions. If such be a true statement, I need not ask, has the College of Physicians fulfilled its functions for the correction of mediæval abuses ? has it made of “ one body” all who exercise the faculty of medicine in England and Wales ? has it suppressed quackery and division, as well by example as by precept?

I think every unprejudiced mind must ere this have assented to my first assertion, that as community we a degenerate hybrid race, each bearing about with him traces of these three great corruptions, introduced respectively in the seventh, the twelfth, and the seventeenth centuries. We are NOT the followers of Hippocrates, Celsus, Galen, and Paulus, but the illegitimate offspring of an alliance that should never have existed with the priest, the barber, and the apothecary. Let each individual survey his history-as regards his mode of practice and remuneration and where shall he find his prototype, his compulsory and prescribed limits, but in the three corruptions and consequent divisions I have depicted, whose monuments are severally erected at Pall Mall, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Blackfriars ? Jf at the present day the last corrup


tion is less evident to some-or less acknowledged by others from interested motives—it is not the less real ; and in proportion as the statistical returns of foreign states are more and more compared with our own, it becomes every day apparent, that, whilst the first two corruptions, with their divisions, have been as world-wide as is the Romish church which caused them, the last—that of the apothecary-is but too peculiar to our own native land.

It is not an enviable task thus to depict the errors of our craft; but, as our daily duty is—in bodies human--first to detect disease, wherever present or however hideous, then rightly to define the causes and effects of “ all the ills that flesh is heir to," ere we may find a fitting remedy, so is it our present duty -in bodies corporate—to do the same.

I have not sought by too minute analysis, or pierced with microscopic eye, to magnify the morbid state of our profession, but in broad bold lines, so to depict disease, as shall arouse all honest minds, and able pens, to enter this neglected field.

It is not to harm, but save a patient, we fly to remedies, nauseous or even painful,* but radical and curative in their intention; and thus would I defend my present position. It is not with individuals, or with sections I would contend, but, with a system so fatal to the safety of the public, and honour of the

* “Tunc coacta ad sectionem, vel ultimo ad ustionem devenit.” Scrib. Larg.--See antè, p. 18.




profession, I would obey the College charter, and wage a war of extermination by a ONE FACULTY," — a "unum corpus in re et nomine.”

That the means provided by the College have ever been inadequate to the end proposed is evident, and the evil effects are shown of attempting the task with such an inefficient staff, and such an imperfect

If men had issued in sufficient numbers from the College of Physicians even in the seventeenth century, supplied with all the means of cure which reason and experience had approved, (which the names of Dr. Caldwell, Lord Lumley, Dr. Forster, the immortal Harvey, and many others had encouraged them to cultivate,) they might have hoped for success; but the eyes of the few who monopolised the name of physician were blinded by their own self-aggrandisement, or they would have acknowledged the too evident truth-that a supply so unequal to the demand, must of necessity have induced the last great invasion of their ranks, or some analogous substitute for their neglected functions.





Galenus, Hippocratem se sequi in omnibus, quæ ad medicinam pertineant, adfirmans, hinc nulli sectæ addictus videri volens, etsi dogmatici medici speciem in omnibus libris præ se ferebat, enisus id maxime est, ut singulas medicinæ disciplinas exactius digereret, absurda, a sectarum studio profecta, rejiceret, vera quæ ipsi viderentur et probata in systematis formam redigeret, dictisque his a prioribus medicis sua cogitata, sua inventa adderet. Quod non solum in singulis medicina disciplinis effecit, sed etiam ex singulis systemate medicinæ composito, omnium, quæ ætas ante eum tulerat, temporaque post eum latura, perfectissimo, plenissimo, cohærentissimo.”Galen's Works, Kühn edition: Life by J. C. G. Ackermann.

If the foregoing statements are correct, if the causes and effects of the corruptions and divisions traceable in medicine since the seventh century have been truly depicted, no impartial observer will have failed ere this clearly to discern the remedy. But, in order more surely to arrive at a right conclusion on this important point, it will be well to glean what precedents we are able as to the course pursued in this country, as well as in foreign states, under circumstances analogous to those in which we are now situated.

In reviewing our own history, we have already ascertained that when the revival of learning had taught our ancestors that the physician's office was corrupted by its connection with a superstitious church, the first and great remedy to be applied was a separation from this its first corruption (1518). Again, when that portion of the physician's office which consisted in the use of chirurgics for the treatment of external wounds, injuries, and diseases, was allowed to be corrupted and degraded by its alliance with the barber, that also was finally separated from this its second great corruption (1745). * So at the present time, if the physician's office is now corrupted and impeded by its union with the apothecary--if the effects are such as I have attempted to portray—the only remedy that can be effectual is such as in former precedents has been adopted, an entire separation from that which has corrupted and hindered the faithful and efficient fulfilment of the physician's office.

Moreover, in other civilised parts of the world, as well in America as the European states, the divisions which alone appertained to them equally with ourselves—those of the priest and the barber—have

* See Chart for date of separation from these corruptions in Ireland and Scotland. Also Appendix, 2 and 3.

« PreviousContinue »