THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS, THE APOTHECARIES' COMPANY, AND ST. JOHN
LONG. TO THE EDITOR OP THE SPECTATOR. , • 1st December IMO.
SIR—Allow me, through the medium of your Journal, to make a few remarks on the medical corporate bodies, whose existence is for the public safety, and whose duty it is to scrutinize severely the qualifications
of those desirous of practising the medical profession. For a series of years, the health and lives of the people had been trifled with and destroyed, by persons professing the healing art, but possess- ing no medical knowledge whatever, nor in fact any art but that of duping the weak-minded into a belief of their pretended miraculous abilities. The public long complained in vain to the Legislature ; and Henry the Eighth, one of the first to expose priestcraft and jesuitical deceit, gave to the College of Physicians of London a charter,, of which the following are extracts.
4. Henry, by the grace of God, King, &e. Seeing that we deem it consistent with our kingly authority to consult the welfare of mankind In every reasonable respect and as this object would be most effectually attained by putting a seasonable chece to the practices of the wicked, we have judged it eminently essential to repress th audacity of certain bad men, who practise medicine more from avarice than from conscientious and laudable motives, whereby many evils are inflicted on ignorant and credulous people • We, &c. &c. do will and ordain that there be instituted a perpetual College of Doctors aod grave men, who may practise physic in and about, and within seven miles round Our city of London, in whatever direction. "We have also granted, &c. that no one shall practise the said faculty within the said city, or within seven miles round the same, unless admitted by the President or commonalty, or their successors for the time being, by letters sealed with the common seal of the same President and College, under the penalty of one hundred shillings for every mouth in which he shall have practised the same faculty without such admission.
"That they shall have the superintendence and scrutiny, correction and govern- ment, of all and singular the physicians practising the faculty of physic, In the same city, and other physicians whatsoever, residing without the same, using or exercis- ing the said faculty of medicine, In any manner ; and also the punishment of them for their faults in the improper exercise and practice of the said faculty."
Now, Sir, will any one pretend to say that the College of Physicians of London, incorporated for "the welfare of mankind, to put a season- able check to the practices of the wicked," has not been flagrantly negli- gent in its duties to the community? Has not Mr. O'Daiscott, cities Sr. Joni,/ tow°, not only bearded their laws but the common law of the land ? What protection, then, is this College to the public ? Its affairs are managed by the corporate fraternity, or Fellows ; but three- fourths of our physicians are licentitues—licensed to practise on paying each their 601., but excluded from having any voice' or influence what- ever in the administration of its laws. So account' is rendered of the
funds arising from the licence-money,:svhich amounts annually to acon-
siderahle sum. Hence, Ma not . evideet that the Fellows of the Gelle4e of Physitittes deserve thriSveregt animadversion of the-Publigai'thev: have already received, iii-varialiS ways,..unlimited celfifirer from Xeine-
dical profession at large. The Apothecaries' Company were incorporated for :nearly. the same purposes as the College of Physicians, and they were endued with powers by Royal Charter, confirmed by recent Acts of Parliament. The follow- ing are extracts.
"And whereas much mischief and Inconvenience has arisen from great numbers of persons In many parts of England and Wales exercising the functions of an apothecary, who are wholly ignorant, and utterly incompetent to the exercise of such functions, whereby the health and lives of the community are greatly endangered, and it Is become, necessary that provision should be made for remedying such evils, ffm. &c." (Company to grant certificate on examination.) "And be it further enacted, that if any person (except such as are then actually practising as such) shall, after the 1st day of August 1815, act or .practise as an apothecary in any part of England or Wales without having obtained such certificate as aforesaid, every person so offending ;hall, for every such offence, forfeit and paythesum of 201. &c."
The Apothecaries' Company receive 61.6s. from every couutry licen- tiate, and 10/. 10s. from every one obtaining a licence to practise in Lon- don, or within ten miles of it. The number admitted annually, averages
Here, then, is another instance of evident neglect of the duties due to
the public. Will it be said that evidence was wanting, after the pal.. pable disclosures in the case alluded to ? Will it be urged, that to pro- secute offenders, funds were wanting, after a perusal of the above state- anent? It has been argued that it was the duty of the Legislature to interfere and check the audacious malpractices of such men as Sr. Jour( LONG; whereas it must be evident to the reader, that, had the medical corporate bodies discharged their duties, as the Legislature had already done, there would be no cause of complaint either on the part of the public or of the profession. That the evil has existed, and does exist to
such an extent as to demand the wholesome interferetice of the penal laws of the country, is grossly apparent, to the shame of those corpora-
tions whose duty it was to have prevented it. The College of Surgeons has not the power to admit persons to, or exclude them from medical or surgical practice.
Sr. JOHN LONG has had no medical education nor licence of any kind. About four years ago he followed the business of a painter; in which he was unsuccessful, notwithstanding the highly-coloured puffs of a certain editor, whose daughter's portrait he had essayed to paint. Since he began to apply the brush to the living figure instead of the canvass, he has been more successful—counting among his subjects several of the Irish nobility, a bishop, and Westminster's Pride indeed, it is pretty well known that, on his trial for the manslaughter of Miss CASEIN, he was much pleased at recognizing an old friend in the person of the presiding Judge, with whom he had rubbed an acquaintanceship some time previous.
In 'the hope that we shall never again see the lives of our fellow.beings So trifled with, and the wholesome enactments of the Legislature so