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Bye-Law of exclusion, is arbitrary, and illegal; it also appears that it is only of a very modern date. The extraordinary Bye.Law, restricting the right of Fellowship to the graduares of Oxford and Cambridge, as if learning, to use the words of Lord Ellenborough, was only to be acquired within a square mile of the banks of the Cam and the Isis, was, under the pretence of explaininganother ByeLaw, for the first time formally enacted in 1759.*. Their spirit of encroachment, however, was of a much earlier date; for we find that in 1688, they incurred the censure of Lord Chancellor Jefferies, on account of their oppressive conduct; and a few years afterwards a complaint was made to Lord Chancellor Somers and the judges, by several Fellows of the College, "that a prevailing parti/ of the "College had combined together, in a fraudulent "and surreptitious manner, and made illegal Statutes and Bye-Laws." To the influence of the same spirit constantly operating, may be attributed the frequent litigations of which Lord Kenyon thus complains , " By what fatality it is, that almost ever since this Charter has been granted, this learned body has somehow or other lived in a course of litigation, I know not," &e.
On some recent occasions, that disgraceful spirit appears to have broken out with fresh fury
* See Stanger's Justification, &c. p. 85.
against practitioners of London, who are not of their body. Several, I understand, have lately been obliged to go down to Scotland, to prove residence; as if that could make them in any: re-i spect more fit for the practice of physic. It will be recollected that, by the Charter, and the StaJ tutes which confirm it, no other qualities are required to constitute fitness, than being profound, grave, discreet, groundly learned and deeply studied in physic, without any reference whatever to the mode, or place of education, considerations too absurd to have entered for a moment into the contemplation of legislators. I shall afterwards have occasion to inquire how far this body have in any respect fulfilled the objects of their institution. At present I shall only advert to two of them, one to repress quackery, and the other to encourage genius. The state of Loudon, and the state of the College, will showhowfar their grand objects have been accomplished, or whether the selfish policy of that body has not in effect cherished what it ought to have repressed, and repressed what it ought to have cherished. When we see men of merit and science persecuted* and defamed, while the alarming devastations of the empiric are regarded with complacency, it is not necessary to inquire into motives. We shall suppose every member of the College individually a saint. The notoriety of the facts, and the perniciousrless of their consequences, will still be sufj ficiently striking to demand the speedy and the most serious attention of the legislature. Meri of regular education, as I have said, have been obliged to quit their business, and go down to Scotland, in order to prove residence; a farce acted under the arbitrary Bye-Laws of the College. An unfortunate graduate of one of the Scotch Universities,has been obliged to abandon his practice entirely, because he could not repel an allegation brought against him of being a quack, not having the professors, who signed his degree, in his pocket, to prove their hand writing. This decision was unavoidable. The judge was obliged to decide according to law. But it was a most cruel hardship, and we know where to trace its source. You have, in your last number, noticed, Gentlemen, a most egregious instance of the operation of this spirit, in the case of Dr. Campbell, a gentleman whom, in point of talents,'and edu* cation, I venture to say will not be found second to the proudest Fellow in the College. Whatever may be the reasons that, after permitting Dr. Camp* bell to practise for so many ) ears, the spirit has all at once moved this body to interdiction and prosecution, medicine and the public will, I trust, have reason to thank both parties, for the inquiry which they have provoked. Persons more inclined than I am to attribute illiberal motives to the Fellows of the College, might allege that, judging only from the name, and following too common a mode of medical induction, they had drawn the hasty conclusion, that Dr. Campbell was born beyond the Tweed. I am rather persuaded that their proceedings, in this case, must have arisen from an ill judged desire, a blind impulse, to retain their monopoly in full vigour, not recollecting that to drag themselves before the public, is to expose the deformity and to display the pernicious consequences of their institution. If they had more members of the Scotch Universities among: them, they would not probably have committed so egregious an error. If their body had contained the sum of experience and wisdom, that is to be found among the licentiates, the junior Fellows would have been taught to pursue a better policy. The injudicious course, which they have chosen to follow, it is not impossible, may present us with a new instance of corporate bodies, in attempting, contrary to the very spirit of the times, to preserve in full force all their obsolete pretensions, having endangered or lost the whole. They will perhaps learn, when it is too late, that, if even the powers they assume had been sanctioned by some ancient law, against the spirit of the times an act of parliament cannot do every thing. They have, indeed, in the case of Dr. Campbell, already seen, and by implication confessed, their own weakness;
for, instead of persisting boldly in their right of fine and interdiction they have changed their ground, and brought a pitiful action for contempt of their body, as a court of record! a measure which, however it may evince a vindictive spirit, will neither tend to re-establish their character, or restore their power. Laws have frequently remained unrepealed, after change of circumstances, or of public opinion, have rendered them nugatory or hurtful; and in such cases there may arise perplexity, and doubt. But the College have not even this foundation to stand upon. Their assumed powers are founded on their own Bye-Laws, in palpable contradiction to the intent, and meaning, of the Charter, and the act of parliament by which it was confirmed. It is an usurpation, which admits of no palliation or excuse. To oppose their unscientific pretensions, therefore, is not simply to espouse the cause of Dr. Campbell; it is to espouse the cause of science itself. And if they should obtain the miserable gratification of procuring a verdict against this gentleman, on the score of disrespect, their triumph, I trust, will not be of long duration. From this cause, vindicators of science against monopoly will arise, as men did formerly from the teeth of Cadmus. If there be a particle of the ancient spirit of Caledonia left, the sons of her Universities will rally, and return to the charge, until they have enforced a restoration of rights, which have been so long unjustly