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known fact, that no medical student considers his education complete, without finishing his studies elsewhere than at either of the English universities.—In respect to the last, London is now the metropolis of an extensive empire, which has to boast many universities, the graduates of which have equal claims to participate in the advantages of the metropolis, as those bred at Oxford and Cambridge. By the union of Scotland, and the union of Ireland, the medical characters of both kingdoms have an equal right to look to the general metropolis of the empire, and for this they can certainly call upon the legislature to do away any obstacles that may prevent their appearance in the field of practice.
"Would the Scotch or Irish members of the Imperial Parliament, allow such a distinction to continue if brought before them ? If a party were to join, and petition for an alteration of the Charter of the College, were they so inclined, is it to be supposed, the College could oppose them with success? Nay, to show its illiberality, are the graduates of Oxford and Cambridge excluded from the Colleges of Edinburgh and Dublin in the same manner? It is true, that the College some years ago, touched with a sense of shame, which public bodies are not very much troubled with, and feeling that their monopoly was repugnant to every liberal idea of science, endeavoured, by an tct of their own, to extend their licenses to the graduates of other universities, under the ex-; press condition of their possessing a resident degree, or their having studied three years where they obtained their honour. This concession, granted with reluctance, still savours too much of that monopoly on which their constitution is founded.
Would it not have been more to the honour of the College,that theperiod of study should be limited to no time; and would it not also have shown more acquaintance with the capacity of the human mind ? They must know well, that one person will often learn as much in a twelvemonth, as another in seven years ; and, that the proper examination, touching the merits of the individual as a candidate, is the only proper test to be looked for, where the public good, and the lives of the community are at stake. In an application for a license at present, a young man bred at a university, without the smallest professional experience, can solicit and obtain an honour, which a man of the most approved abilities, learning, and skill, is not permitted to obtain, because, forsooth, he has not enjoyed the benefit of an academical . residence. Too often this residence, with young students, is the scene of dissipation and profligacy, rather than the seat of observation and study. Besides this, the examination is also limited to be conducted in the dead languages. This restriction argues very little acquaintance with the history of medical science. Is the practice of Hippocrates or Celsus any rule of conduct at the present day? So far as they went, it is proper to be acquainted with them, but by no means to make their language and phraseology the medium for conveying modern information.
Look to the discoveries in anatomy, in chemistry, and in medicine, since that time. Has not chemistry been almost anew creation? and has the language of either Greece or Rome provided a dress for conveying the modern ideas on the subject? It can only be done even by you, Sir, learned as you are, in a circuitous and awkward manner, which even the best classical scholars of the College feel when they make the attempt—much less a candidate who has been unaccustomed to the routine of examination.
Such are the observations I am ledHo make on this part of the Charter, which, like every other monopoly, is as much against the public welfare at large, as against the particular interest of the profession. To remove it—is not the Imperial Legislature bound, as much as to the observance of any part of the union of the two Sister Kingdoms? a free participation of rights and privileges, being certainly the - foundation of the imperial connexion of the whole divisions of the empire.
But, distinct from monopoly altogether, I come now to examine a part which militates more against the public welfare, than any part I have complained of. This is the fine or mulct for practising without a license from the College.
If there was no other mark, that the Charter was framed by churchmen, this would prove it: like the other parts of the policy of the church of Rome, ready to compound crimes of the deepest dye, and give absolution for a stipulated sum, here in the same manner, health and the lives of the community, would be compromised by a monthly payment in the way of indulgence. Any person however ignorant and daring, is thus let loose to practise physic, and commit his depredations on the health of society, if able to pay this sum. In the real spirit and practice of the holy inquisition, this fine is to be levied by information against the individual, and the. court moved accordingly. The offender is first brought before the College to answer. He is brought as a culprit before his judges. AW eyes are upon him at his entrance. The fastidious forms of rigid monastic severity are kept up. The doors are well closed and watched after his admission—a thing unknown in any British court of law—If he is not in the most pleasant frame of mind when he enters this hallowed seat of science, he will be still less so, when teased by interrogatories without number, before
the business is finished. If the culprit applies for directions to regulate his conduct, and acknowledges his fault, he is told, as already noticed, “none will be given him, but the College will take care to punish if found offending; and if on this he fully speak his sentiments, and call in question the power of the College, or be hurried into intemperance by such proceedings, he is then in danger of having an information filed against him, for disrespect to the College, as a court constituted like a relique of the Star Chamber, by Royal Charter. The last part of this constitution that remains to be examined, is what regards mal-practice—and by this is meant, the death of any patient by improper treatment, or in plain language, murder, secundum artem. Mal-practice is certainly a point with regular practitioners difficult to be established, and it would require a close attendance in any case, to judge of the demerits of any medical attendant. If the term applies to quackery, then it is understood; but at any rate, mal-practice, whenever committed, is plain murder, and if the College are able to prove this, would it not be more consonant to the principles of justice and humanity, that the offender should be turned over to the civil power, and meet the fate he deserves, than that the College should have the power to compromise the crime by a fine ofcol? Can the pre