• No results found

HERBERT DAVIES, Elizabeth Street.

THE SPECULUM.. September, 19x8..

scriptions of Gally-Pots in his Apothecariers Shoppe, which are rank't in his shelves, and the doctor's memory. Hee is indeed onely languag'd in diseases and speakes Greeke many times when he knows not. If hee have beene but a by- stander at some desperate recovery,. hee is slandered with it, though he be guiltlesse, and this breeds his reputation, and that his practice, for his skill is meerly opinion."

Earle's reference to the doctor's Greeke seems somewhat unjust as regards Oxford and Cambridge medical graduates, for at these universities, poor though the medical curricu- lum was, it was necessary to take the degree of M.A.

before proceeding to' Medicine, and the medical examina- tions were held in Latin, the whole course for M.B. taking ten years, and for M.D. fourteen years. Earle may refer to some of the practitioners licensed by the Bishops, for the Bishops of England had the right of granting licenses to those desirous of practising medicine, a right which they continued to exercise till 1687.

Earle, like Ithuriel, could touch lightly with his spear of sarcasm. He says: "The physician's most unfaithful act is, that hee leaves a man gasping (i.e., at his last gasp), and his pretence is, death and he have a quarrel and must not meete, but his feare is lest the carkasse should bleed."

The mordicancy of this remark will be appreciated when it is recollected that it was a popular belief in his day that the blood gushed out from the body of a murdered man on the approach of the murderer. In this connection, many will remember that Burton, in spite of all his shrewd common sense, remarks in his "Anatomy of Melancholy":

" Why does a carkass bleed when the murderer is brought before it, some weeks after the murder hath been done?"

For the surgeon Earle has but scant praise. "He differs from the physician as a sore does from a disease, or the sicke from those that are not whole—the one INS- tempers you within, the other . blisters you without The rarenesse of his custome makes him pittilesse when it conies, and he holds a patient longer than our Courts a Cause." In spite of his scant love, one is forced to smile on reading that on his arrival, "hee tells you what danger you had beene in, if lie had staid but a minute longer ; and though it bee but a prickt finger, he makes of, it much matter." This type seems to have survived to the present day.

The lack of asepsis seventy and eighty years ago is well known. It is related that the famous American sur-

September. 1918. THE SPECULUM. 65 geon, Gross, was accustomed to "give a last fine touch to his knife on his boot—even on the sole, and then at once use it from the first cut to the last." When threading a needle, all pointed the silk by wetting it with germ-laden saliva, and rolling it between germ-laden fingers. Prac- tically every serious wound suppurated. Knowing this, we cannot but think that these surgeons must have for- gotten the example of their professional progenitors, for centuries ago skull trephining was a common practice with a comparatively low mortality rate, and even Earle is forced to admit that the surgeon "is a reasonable cleanely man, considering the scabs hee has to deale with."

Among many mediaeval documents which give us in- teresting glimpses of the age may be mentioned a number of household accounts, books of various dates, ranging from 1522 to 1700, belonging to the Duke of Rutland, and preserved in Belvoir Castle. They throw light on me- diaeval fees, etc. Incidentally, they show that the worker of that period did not run much risk of tobacco amblyopia, for one entry reads:

"1606.—Item a pounde of tobacco sent to Belvoyre ix.

,tobacco pipes vs." Remembering the value of a shilling in those days, we must sympathise with the poor mediaeval med. student burning the midnight grease wick over his mediaeval Osler without a mediaeval "Flora de Cap."

These account books show that women physicians are not a modern development. They were practising at the time Sir Thomas More was writing his "Utopia," as the fol- lowing entry witnesses:

"1533.—Item to a woman physician at Bingeman in the Vale iii. s. vi . d." One is quite delighted to find here a familiar friend in more blunt phraseology. We have often seen sentences such as these :—"The operation was entirely successful, but unfortunately the patient died." Let us ex- . amine these entries :—

"I543.—To the siftgion for his penes, as apperithe by Thomas Disney's booke xiii. s; to the plumoner for puttyng the corps in lead iiii. s iii. d."

"T6r2.—Item to Mr. Frederick and Mr. Guillian, chirur- gians, for their attendance upon my Lord (Roger, Earl of Rutland) at Cambridge from the tyme of Mr. Guillian's comying to Cambridge and for the incision made i li, and for embalmying the corps xx. li."

Incidentally, the payment "to the surgion for his penes"

must have been made on results, as the amount is small; if

THE SPECULUM. September, 1918.

we remember that Henry VIII. at this time was very effec- tively debasing the coinage.

Apparently the family faith in surgeons was a little shaken by the above experiences, for further on we meet with this interesting entry :—

"1640, August uth.—Item, paid to Sir Daniell Delyne for two gree stones, whose virtue is good to cure the stone in the bladder or kydneyes, for which I (Earl of Rutland) have paid 3 li. 5 s." The Earl evidently had a Scotch an- cestor, for the entry continues :—"And am to have a twelv moneths tryall and yf I do not like them, I shall have 4o s.

for them againe."

This entry brings to mind Chaucer's Pardoner, with his collection of relics such as the glass of "pigge's bones."

An entry of passing note is :-

"16o5.—Item to Mr. Perk for letting his Lordship's blood xxx. s." A fairly remunerative procedure, but on which the said Mr. Perk almost lost, as a gentleman yclept, Mr. G. Fawkes, was at this date making preparations for blood letting on more extensive lines.

Towards the end of the 17th century great honour was conferred on the profession, though the fact has been in- explicably permitted to fall into oblivion. The reigning monarch, James II., joined the ranks of the obstetricians.

Evidence of this can be obtained from a report in the "News- letter" dated "Whitehall, October 23rd. 1688," relating to the birth of James Francis Edward. Prince of Wales. The report concludes :-

• "The King himself was pleased to declare that. . . . His Majesty, as he had usually done at the birth of his other children', had laid his hand upon the Queen's stomach, dur- ing her being in labour, to keep the child from coming back, and that he followed the child down with his hand till lie could tell them that it was coming into the world.

The royal obstetrician, rather unfortunately for him- self, lost his crown, and his successor, William III., did not grace the profession. William's successor, Anne, daughter of James II., followed in her father's footsteps so far as to give her spouse, Prince George of Denmark, every oppor- tunity of emulating his father-in-law, for Her Gracious Majesty bore him nineteen children. George is recorded as being a good-natured, placid, sympathetic spouse, of whom the shrewd Charles II. once remarked : "I have tried him drunk and I have tried him sober, and there is nothing

September, 1918. THE SPECULUM. 67


Related documents