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Fathers in New England 402 Wit made Easy, or a Hint to
The Deep Thinker: A sketch
Defence of the English Alpha-
BY T. CAMPBELL.
(Continued from Vol. IX. p. 419.) In compliance with the wishes of several persons, whose favour towards the proposed new establishment for education in London it was thought expedient to conciliate, the projectors of a Metropolitan University agreed to alter its title to that of a College.
It is expressly understood, however, that not the slightest intention of altering the nature or extent of the establishment is inplied in this change of name. It is still intended to be a place of as universal education, as means can be found to make it.
Io two papers which I have published on this subject, I have endeavoured to shew the desirableness of the scheme, and to answer the principal objections that have been urged against it. The arguments at first mainly adduced by its opposers were, the alleged unhealthiness and immorality of London. But on the first of those points I am ready to shew that the salubrity of London, which has doubled within these last hundred years, is superior to that of most of the large English towns; and I quoted the decided opinion of a secretary to one of the life-insurance offices, whose opinion would be admitted by any impartial person, to be decisive on the subject, that on the score of healthiness, there can be no objection to London being a place of universal education for youth.
As to the arguments about London immorality, I repeat my challenge to any man, to shew that the virtue of youth can be reckoned safer, when they congregate in large numbers, removed from home, in places where they must necessarily have opportunities of unchecked conviviality and conversation, than when they live under domestic influence and parental authority. I will not, however, repeat my argųments on this subject ; for as far as I can judge of general belief, it is by no means averse to London being the place of a college. The manifestations of popular favour for our scheme are distinct and numerous ; and if the great experiment of its practicability should even fail for the present, we may safely predict that it will be resumed by another generation. In the mean time, I am at a loss to perceive, in all that bas been thrown out against us, any thing more than harmless and contemptible personalities, or reasonings that may be easily answered. One objection has been recently renewed, which was formerly put, and formerly refuted, namely, that there is no necessity for a new place of education, because the learned professions are already sufficiently well taught
. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that this were the case, is there not still a large mass of the middling ranks of society, whó Vol. X. No. 55.1925.
liave nothing to do with the learned professions, except to pay or employ them, and yet who would wish to give their sons a liberal education ? And let this class of persons answer for themselves, whether they possess in London any cheap, convenient, and multifarious place of liberal instruction. Instruction is palpably never efficient wiihout examination ; so that, in spite of all its literary institutions, the metropolis is without a proper place of general education; and its inhabitants, even including his majesty's ministers, exchange expressions of surprise that this should be the case in the wealthiest city of the world.
Without reference, therefore, to the learned professions, London requires a place of combined and liberal instruction. But the alleged tact, that the learned professions are so well taught in London as to supersede all ideas of improving professional education, is rather gratuitously assumed. How happens it that so many London physicians go to Edinburgh and other places for instruction in the healing art? I have been assured by London physicians of the first authority, that while surgery is superlatively taught in London, medical knowledge is, with some few exceptious, taught with no such success and celebrity. Yet the London physicians are confessedly famous, and the hospitals afford a wider field of experience than is any where else to be found. The medical lectures in the metropolis are inferior to the surgical, I think, on this account : that a London şurgeon in first-rate employment gains considerable sums, at once, by important operations, and can, therefore, spare some time to lecture, though his practice be extensive. But a London physician has to travel considerable distances for single fees, and it is not worth his while to retain a lectureship after he is fully employed in practice. Thus, it is only whilst he is comparatively young, and before he has acquired bis highest experience, that a physician, here, condescends to be a teacher of medicine. This is not the case at Edinburgh, where it, is so much more difficult to make large incomes by medical practice, that the best physician finds it worth his while to continue in a lecturing professorship, though it should yield him but some hundreds a-year. In London it would require some thousands to renunerate a man of high medical fame, for continuing to teach medicine. Who can wonder, then, that the number of superior teachers in medicine is so few, and so utterly disproportioned to the magnitude of London, and to its demand for medical instruction ? The matter of astonishment is, that we have even a few distinguished medical lecturers.
Now, if first-rate London physicians were so remunerated for teaching, as to make it worth their while to sacrifice a portion of their practice, there would instantly arise a school of medicine in the metropolis, that would annihilate the rivalship of all other medical schools. It might be hazardous to assert, that the incorporating medical chairs in the proposed College would immediately accomplish so desirable an event. But it would certainly tend to do so. It is evident that the establishment of new medical professorships would increase competition in that species of teaching, and that the very novelty of their appointment would give an ictus to public attention likely to be favourable to the cause of science. It is proper on this subject that the projectors of the College scheme should give a clear assurance to the public of their having no idea of introducing medical
instruction, for the purpose of reducing its price to students. Their main object is to make it better, and not cheaper. When we spoke of thirty pounds a year, as likely to cover all the expenses (exclusive of his maintenance) of a student at the proposed College, the calculation had no intended reference to the expenses of medical education, which could by no possibility be reduced to so small a sum. It could not well enter into our plan to make the medical chairs vie in cheapness of instruction with the terms of existing lecturers ; for we should do nothing without eminent men, and consequently without men who would require to be highly paid. But if the ne:v establishment could be so contrived as to attract multitudes of students by its combined facilities of instruction, the same fees which are at present paid by medical and surgical students would create very large incomes to professors—and many scientific men, whose lecturing is now a speculation at their own hazard, and attended with many drawbacks of expense, would derive very serious advantages by being transferred to chairs where their lecture-rooms and apparatus would cost them nothing.
To diffuse medical instruction, and to excite the warmest possible zeal for its cultivation, is an object of peculiar importance in this metropolis. For though it be true that surgeons and physicians contrive to get themselves well educated for London practice, it is a certain and serious fact, if I may rely on the information of many men eminent in the vocation to which I allude, that the education of surgeon-apothecaries is in general still destitute of many advantages which it ought to possess. The surgeon-apothecary begins his course with an apprenticeship of five years, during the greater part of which his time is spent in pharmaceutical manipulations, such as the boiling of salves, the shaking of bottles, and the rolling of pills, which he generally finds himself able to perform in six months, as neatly and expeditiously as at the end of six years. At all events, a year is noloriously sufficient to accomplish any pupil in the manual part of his business. That he spends the other four years of his apprenticeship so much more generally in drudgery than in making scientific acquirements, is certainly owing, in the first instance, to the system of apprenticeship itself, which makes it the master's interest rather to employ him servilely, than to give him leisure for scientific pursuits. But supposing apprenticeships to be put upon a better footing, the facilities of medical education would still require to be extended.
I understand that more liberal and creditable wishies, with regard to the education of their apprentices, now begin to prevail among the surgeon-apothecaries. It must be noticed, that liberal views on this subject cannot justly be expected from masters, unless they be indemnified, by high apprenticeship premiums, and by a full payment of the board of their apprentices, for giving them time and means to study whilst they are under indentures. If pupils are bound under illiberal terms, it is perfectly natural that masters should try to make the inost of their services, and keep them at manual drudgery. But people are now opening their eyes to the serious importance of those popular practitioners being well educated, and their education must come in time to be put on a better footing. It will be stipulated, if apprenticeships be necessary, that the apprentice shall have leisure to study
after he has learnt the art of bolus and pill-making; the masters will get higher premiums, and the pupils will be earlier initiated in science,--so that both parties will be gainers.
When the intended surgeon-apothecary has finished his apprenticeship, he generally walks the hospitals; and these furnish a field of pathological observation, which has no parallel in the world for instructive variety. But it stands to reason, that if his education has been hitherto more mechanical than mental, the student can derive but comparatively little advantage from his new place of study; nay, I am informed, that the fashionable rage for surgical, in preference to medical instruction, makes the hospital itself of less use to the noviciate than it ought to be. He appears at the hospital, he mingles with the students, hears their talk, learns their opinions, and imbibes their spirit; he finds that practical anatomy and operative surgery, that dissections on the living and the dead, are the favourite topics of discourse, and that the opportunities for witnessing and performing them are constantly desired and sought. As a natural consequence, he determines to cultivate anatomy and surgery, not indeed to ihe exclusion of other studies, but more diligently, in a tenfold degree ; and accordingly, without one thought of the physicians who attend the hospital, and of what they may be doing there, he enters himself a pupil of the more popular surgeon. That a very large majority of the students in the London hospitals are surgeons' pupils, and that very few are physicians' pupils, is a fact which cannot be controverted, and may be easily confirmed.
Now the business of a sırgeon-apothecary is to be either a surgeon or physician, as occasion may require ; but, in point of fact, he is much more frequently called upon to act as a physician. In London, the general practitioner is very rarely indeed called upon to act as a surgeon, aud both in town and country the great majority of practice ought to be medical more than surgical. A surgical operation is, after all, but too often a confession of the blindness and weakness of the healing science, the highest exaltation of which is to prevent the necessity of operations, and to save man without appeasing the demon disease by the sacrifice of blood. Here we have proof positive, however, that the majority who frequent the London hospitals, including all the intended general practitioners, are trained rather to be surgeons than physicians, although it is as physicians that their services are mostly to be required.
Physiology and the practice of medicine are confessedly less diligently and perfectly taught in London than surgery. This fact is a disadvantage to London, but, if properly explained, is not the slightest reproach to its physicians. Nobody can doubt how well the most experienced of them would teach, if they had a temptation to be teachers ; but in this respect they are not like the great surgeons, and have no motive to sacrifice any portion of their lucrative practice.
I have letters before me from several medical men, of whose ability, and intention to give me sound opinions on this subject, it is not easy for me to doubt, who concurin recommending that a medical school should form a part of the new College. It is an error to suppose that the opening of such a school would be detrimental to lecturers, who al present make teaching a private speculation ; for it it is obvious that the most popular of these would be immediately invited to the College