Imágenes de páginas

state alliance, fostered by Laud, and ever since lauded by reverend heads of houses, doctors, masters, and others, engrossing as they do every proir fession where degrees are requisite,

Huadi What, for instance, can exceed the injustice which such a system enables the College of Physicians of London successfully to practise against Dissenters; by excluding all from the honours of the fellowship who have not graduated at an English University, where it is now generally admitted that the science is worst taught, and where the fewest opportunities of improvement in the practical part of the profession are possessed. This grievance has been long felt by men eminent' for erudition and skill in the profession; and their sentiments have been recently expressed in a petition to the House of Commons, signed by thirty-nine licenciates of the college. The precluding from honours such of the profession as have studied successfully in the more celebrated medical schools of Scotland, or of the Continent, is powerfully reprobated by these peti tioners, d. If the universities were intended for divinity alone, some pallia-, tive might be offered in extenuation of systematic exclusion from honours and emoluments in those seats of learning; especially when it is consis, dered that gentlemen desirous of obtaining degrees, but not intended for any civil profession, or for physicians, must swallow the said oath, and subscribe the thirty-nine articles, and the Common Prayer Book, ex animo. is not the cloven foot of legalized sectarianism glaringly exhibited ? And

nay it not be asked, what has the assent or consent to the thirty-nine articles, &c. to do with Blackstone's Commentaries, and other studies of the Philoi of law ? or with surgical elucidations of a Hunter,' 4 and other distinguished writers on the healing art? or even with the more recent discoveries of a “Humphrey Davy? Is it not with astonishment and disa gust that honours and degrees for these legal and scientific acquirements can be obtained at the two English universities only through the gates of divinity assents and consents? And as to the study of divinity, or of

Church-of-Englandism,' when he is about to take a degree, or to hold church preferment, he must of necessity either so temper his mind to receive the impression of the thirty-nine university seals, &c., or harden it by the binding force of interest; or otherwise bring his conscience to the seared or case-hardened condition of total indifference.'

The established clergy are not, themselves, without just cause of complaint, regarding the multiplicity and reduplicates of their oaths. Mr. Hurn has placed the condition of that body in a strong light before the public. In the essay before us it is remarked, that

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* It seems somewhat surprising that the clergy-a body, we might suppose, least to be suspected of disloyalty—should be heavily loaded with

and that, as if only once taking them did not inspire sufficient confidence in their attachment to the state, they are required to bear the useless and unholy weight of oaths, at almost every clerical advancement; so that oaths and promotions are necessary (although, in our opinion, very discordant) accompaniments. The Rev. J. Mattheson, in his pamphlet on Clerical Oaths and Subscriptions, accounts for this :- but as they (the clergy) have fearfully loosened the general obligations of an oath by their casuistry, we must not wonder that the State cannot easily trust them.' viny

gaths ;

In treating on the oath administered to Roman catholics, we are told, that

• Roman catholics have now the best of the oath system, inasmuch as they have only one oath to take, instead of three, and they have no occasion to swear against the ghost of the Stuarts. That protestants shall now anathematize obsolete catholic doctrines, which Roman catholics themselves disown, is somewhat absurd. Did Sir Robert Peel or the Duke of Wellington think that fulminating oaths were beneficial to the morality of the British nation, and acceptable to their protestant or Roman catholic fellow-subjects ; or did attachment to old statutes, or fear of innovation, however inconsistent with modern opinions, induce them to leave protestants taxed with these ancient maledictory oaths, which produce no other effect than to kindle the mutual enmity of opposing sects without even an argument of expediency to urge in favour of such anomalous and uncharitable legislation.'

Municipal corporations have not been lax in attachment to the “ oath system;" accordingly,

• The city companies all have their oaths on admission to freedom, or to the livery; and many of them, like those of Oxford University, of an impractical nature. The corporation of the city of London formerly evinced an inviolable attachment to the oath system. This body has, however, within the last few years, twice petitioned Parliament for the repeal of unnecessary oaths. The town-clerk has in his official custody a book containing no less than 109 oaths, chiefly of office, from the Right Honourable. Lord. Mayor, and other important municipal or legal functionaries, down to the humble waterman that plies on the river Thames.'

Historical facts illustrate too well the inefficacy of official oaths:

• Gibbon abjured the Roman catholic religion, and renounced Christianity at the same time. He however took the necessary oaths, upon the true faith of a Christian, to entitle him to sit in the House of Commons. He abjured transubstantiation and the pretender on the true faith of a Christian,' and held the office of a Lord of Trade just as orthodoxly as others. Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, whose eloquence and powers of mind were of a superior order, had, during the whole course of his life, been a scoffer at the Christian religion; nevertheless, he abjured the accustomed number of dogmas, made the requisite number of promises, and took his seat in the House of Commons ! The openly profane have found an easy road to preferment through oaths, while the religious and conscientious, differing materially, or it may be but a few shades, on the sentiment or form of the oath, are excluded from honourable employment and from civil rights. The celebrated John Wilkes, although sentenced in a court of justice for blasphemy, was again returned by his constituents to Parliament, and once more swallowed the various oaths upon the true faith of a Christian,' while hundreds of serious dissenters, and even catholics, were excluded from corporation and parliamentary honours, solely by their respect to an oath, or their detestation of making the desecration of the holy sacrament a stepping-stone to civil or official preferment.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Though somewhat out of its connexion, the following, particulars are, like the preceding, matters of history:

, Richard Baxter, in his Autobiography, says, “ In the time of the Long Parliament, men played fast and loose with dreadful oaths, as if these bonds were as easily shaken off as Sampson's cords. The church-ofEngland divines gulped down oaths like water. They pleaded the irresistibility of the imposers; they found startling holes in the terms-viz. That by the commonwealth they will mean the present commonwealth, .. in genere ;' and by the established, they will mean only . de facto,' and not de jure;' and by without a King, they mean not quatenus,' but

etsi ;' and that only . de facto' and pro tempore'-that is, I will be true to the government of England, though at the present the King and the Lords are put out of their power, &c." It was no wonder that. Louis XIV. declared that the English of his day were utterly regardless of oaths, and the clergy the worst of all, as they furnished the people with arguments in favour of perjury.”'

The several oaths are given at length-namely, the oath of allegiance, of supremacy, the long oath or oaths of abjuration, the common-councilman's oath, the church-warden's; and, besides these,

There are so many oaths, particularly in the ecclesiastical courts, that it would far exceed the limits of this essay to make any comments on them, such as the oath of calumny, the voluntary or decisive oath, oath of truth, oath of malice, suppletory oath, oath in . animam domini,' where a proctor, having a special proxy, may swear upon the soul of his client; oath of damages, oath of costs, oath of purgation, which allowed a defendant to prove his innocence by bringing honest men for his compurgators; for if he could not bring such compurgators to swear that they believed him innocent, he was esteemed as convicted of such crime. This assumption of conscience-binding security has, no doubt, fallen into merited decay and oblivion; and it is devoutly to be wished, that the following ecclesiastical law, bearing upon this subject, might meet with the same unpitied fate—That none shall bring into dispute the determinations of the church concerning oaths to be taken in the ecclesiastical or in the temporal courts, on pain of being declared a heretic. We therefore, warn good Bishop Blomfield, of London, to beware of the punishment which awaits him, should he put into execution the pledge he recently gave in the House of Lords, to bring in a bill next session for the abolition of useless oaths. Yet we sincerely hope he may succeed in his praiseworthy and liberal attempt, notwithstanding this bigoted law.'

In concluding, the question is asked,

• Whether this artificial system ought not to be tried by the usual test, 'cui bono'? And if the balance of experience and evidence be against it, why not relieve the Státute Book from its oppressive incumbrance, and, in lieu of it, enact penalties for prevarication or falsehood, proportionable to the quantuin of injury inflicted by falsehood upon individuals or the community ? Disseminate, we say, useful, moral, and religious instruction, and obliterate the hitherto national sin of perjury, which has greatly,

vol. IV. (1833) NO. 11.

[ocr errors]


contributed to weaken a proper sense of moral and religious obligation. And let the State no longer hold up a boon to a favoured party, thereby putting an end to civil dissension, and strengthening itself by granting equal rights and protection to all parties.'

Art. VIII.- Thoughts on Medical Reform, by a retired Practi

tioner. London: B. Fellows. 1833. In the reform of no profession, or corporate institution, do the public appear to take less interest than in that of the medical; yet in none perhaps are they more interested. They can both feel and express their indignation at the evils attendant on the education of our clergy, at the expensive and tardy administration of justice, or at the exclusive spirit of certain municipal bodies; but the economy of the laboratory, or the dissecting-room, the chartered privileges of a Scotch University or London College in the granting of medical and surgical degrees, are points that come but little within the scope of public observation. But, as medical men are the conservators of the public health, it is of much public importance that the education of its members should be wisely directed, an object which will be best attained by reforming and purifying their institutions. On the necessity of some change the profession generally are unanimous, and from one of their number the pamphlet before us has emanated. A cursory examination of its pages will show that its author is a gentleman of liberal sentiment and comprehensive understanding: but it appears to us that he has greatly mistaken the way by which his object could most easily be obtained. After some general remarks, written in a spirit which we heartily admire, he expresses his conviction of the necessity of distinctions of rank among medical men, and straightway proceeds to embody them all under three classes:

1. The highest class, qualified not only to practice but to teach the different parts of medicine required in examinations for medical diplomas.

2. The second and most numerous class, usually térmed general practitioners, qualified to practise medicine in all its branches, but not authorized to give lectures that entitle to examination for degrees.

3. Approved druggists, who have received an education and obtained a diploma, testifying their knowledge of Pharmacy and Materia Medica, and their fitness to compound and prepare medicine and sell them in retail.

The preliminary education of the first class would consist in a competent knowledge of the Greek and Latin, and of the French and German languages, with such proficiency in Geometry and Algebra as to enable the student to follow the fundamental demonstrations of mechanical philosophy. Under the head of “ Collateral,” is

[ocr errors]

embraced an acquaintance with the elements at least of mechanics, hydrostatics, hydraulics, and pneumatics, as necessary to understand the combined action of the muscles, and the vital functions of the body. In relation to the eye would be required a knowledge of optics, and to mental aberrations an acquaintance with the moral and intellectual nature of man. In order to the understanding and advancement of physiology and pathology, would be required a knowledge of zoology and comparative anatomy; and, under « Collateral” are likewise placed chemistry and botany. . Here the " professional” education of the student must commence, provided he be eighteen years of age, and he must devote five years to medical studies. · The author favours the division of the profession into physicians and surgeons, but contends that their education should be the same, with the addition, perhaps, of a course of physic and clinical medicine to the former, and an extra course of surgery to the latter, together with operations on the dead body. For the second class the author would adopt the present scale of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and, for the third class, one year's attendance at lectures on Materia Medica, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, and one year’s application to the art of compounding and preparing medicines, might be a sufficient qualification. A practitioner of the second class may be admitted into the first class, by passing an examination, even though he has not followed the regular course prescribed to a student. Physicians and surgeons of the first class would be distinguished by some appropriate name, “let it be, Fellow of the Royal College of Medicine, or of Surgeons, adding of London, Edinburgh, or Dublin, as the case may be.” All this, it will appear, applies only to those who may yet enter the profession, and

may be all very good ;: but the more difficult matter will be to deal with the present colleges and their numerous . family of licentiates. Of existing colleges, companies, and corporations, our author makes short work; he would destroy their power of monopoly, and, as new ranks and privileges would be established, further interference with them would be of secondary importance. Their licentiates, if they did licence, would have to conform to the new code; and a board of examiners, he thinks, should be appointed in every town of the United Kingdom, where all the branches of medicine are taught; and, for the discharge of these public duties, adequate remuneration should be granted.

The author thinks it premature at present, to discuss in what manner the existing members of the profession should be classified, what persons should be left in the second class, and what number elevated at once to the highest rank. These are the leading features of the plan of reform proposed in this very ingenuously written pamphlet. The first objection we shall urge against it is, that it is impracticable. The plan it will be seen embraces the classification of the present members of the profession, amounting to about 20,000 in number. This difficulty the author passes over by saying, its

« AnteriorContinuar »