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pestle is still; and rhubarb and opium sleep undisturbed in the shop of the apothecary. Two rival colleges rear their opposing fronts, while the scattered fragments of a third, which has been overthrown in this wreck and crash of the materia medica, are again coalescing, and its forces rallying to the charge under the guidance of their Ajax leader, a chief “ with atlantean shoulders, fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies.” Head of Galen! Shade of Boerhaave!
What senna, rhubarb, or purgative drug,
Can scour these factions hence? The future historian of these civil broils in the republic of medicine, will find in the little volume before us, a most valuable document. Like Xenophon's Retreat of the Ten Thousand, or the Commentaries of Cæsar, it is a simple un varnished parrative, related by those who were not only spectators, but themselves actors and leaders in the great events which they describe. Like too to those admired relics of classical antiquity, it adds to the interest of the story, all the charms of style—a style origi. nal and inimitable, without model and without parallel. With a grace peculiar to itself, half creeping and half flying, it moves along in a gait curiously compounded of the slouch of colloquial negligence, and the tragedy strut of holiday declamation. These various excellencies are not assumed by turns, but are skilfully mixed up in every sentence. Thus, we have continually some such beautiful idiomatic phrase as “ agreeably to what was considered correct," "agreeable to what was proper," “ the president was correct, and in the line of his duty, to inform the chancellor, &c. &c.;" and in the very same breath we are treated with as many brave sounding words about the « construction of the human mind,” and “ the dearest interests of humanity" as ever rounded the periods and swelled the thunders of a sophomore harangue. Occasionally, however, these fights of eloquence are longer and more sustained. As some ambitious gosling or aspiring duck, tired of waddling over the surface of the villanous earth, raises himself with might and main, some three feet from the ground, and with quick-beating wing, outstretched neck, and noisy gabble, struggles and flutters across a
farm-yard, even so our ponderous committee sometinies become suddenly inflated with inflammable gas, and balloon-like soar aloft into the regions of rhetoric and declamation, through half a page. Take for example the following choice specimen:
“ The form of a medical diploma was approved and registered by the regents, making the college a party in conferring medical degrees, by their ap. proving the character, conduct, and learning of the candidate to whose care and professional knowledge might be intrusted the dearest interests of humanity; the lives of fathers and mothers, of children and infants, and of persons variously related by the ties of nature, friendship and usefulness in the bonds of society.”
“ In every age and country which has cherished the principles of humanity, a solemn respect has been entertained for collegiate institutions, appropriated to the purposes of education, and the promotion of science; nor has this propensity of the human mind been exceeded by any other, excepting that of reverence for religious establishments.
“ This disposition among men to respect the repositories of science and seats of education, has not only been manifested in patronizing and cherishing public instructers, who are among the greatest benefactors of human kind, but has been strongly proclaimed by the odium and horror that have ever been entertained against those who, from barbarous inclinations or sinister motives, have endeavoured to retard the progress of instruction, disturb the repose, or stain the reputation of seminaries of learning.
These generous feelings of the public towards their scientific establishments, have at all times animated the votaries of science, and teachers of truth, a to further the progress and diffusion of knowledge, and display those virtues and excellencies, which, in so many seminarics of learning, have attracted the affection and respect of mankind.
This truly original specimen of medical literature is characterized by another remarkable peculiarity of stylema peculiarity doubtless the fruit of much art and study, and certainly of most admirable utility in controversial writing. We mean a certain misty vagueness of expression, which does not indeed altogether darken and overshadow the meaning, but presents it to us as objects are seen through a fog, faint and undefined, sometimes swollen above its natural dimensions, and sometimes melting away into shadowy indistinctness. The principal and leading
idea is never brought forward and made to stare you rudely in the face, at the first view; but we are led rambling about it backwards and forwards in all directions. This, as we have just observed, cannot well fail to be of most special use in polemical discussion: for you might as well attempt to catch one of those dancing jack-o-lantern reflections of the sun, in a bright summer's day, from water in motion, or a bit of looking-glass in the hands of a roguish boy, which now seems to lie at your feet, and the next moment is half way up to the top of the steepke, as to lay hold of the precise meaning of our authors, and to pin them down to any series of downright plain, positive, matter of fact assertions. •
There is an ancient doctrine of the common law, that corporations have no souls; to which common opinion has added as a corollary, that they have no consciences; a doctrine which we think is abundantly proved by the present instance to be a most gross and pernicious error, as well by the apparition of the deceased college long after its political demise, (a circumstance we should conceive, which could only take place in a body in some degree spiritual), as also by the whole course and tenor of its life as here related; throughout the whole of which it appears to have acted as a conscientious moral agent. The four brief years of frail and feverish being which this chubby infant spent in “ this mortal coil” were spent in manfully resisting a series of temptations, and plots of seduction, laid by the regents of the University (Heaven only knows why or wherefore) against the virtue and honour of this well-behaved amiable little college. Experienced in all the wiles of intrigue, they determined, like Satan in his plan of undermining the morals of good sir Balaam, to tempt “ by making rich, not making poor." First of all they craftily began by “ insisting that the professors should receive liberal sums from such students as should attend their lectures," “Because," added they, very plausibly, “ experience has proved that the advancement of the highest seminaries of learning depends not on the reduced price of education, but on the talents, the industry, and the reputation of the professors; and without sufficient encouragement to insure these, no medical school can become respectable." “ This is the language of delusion," stoutly
rejoins the college, ' sixty dollars a year is enough; and we can suit our lectures to our prices.” The next year, the persevering regents renewed their attempt upon the purity of this virtuous institution, by procuring the purchase of Dr. Hosack's botanical garden, at the expense of eighty thousand dollars, and presenting it to the college.“ Away with it, filthy thing,” roared out the college, “ we won't have it; we would not touch it for the universe,
-we can go and botanize on the battery, or among the greenwomen in the markets, if we choose it. Why did you not lay out the money in books or skeletons, or in purchasing for us Dr. Akerly's beautiful cabinet of conchology;* we've there two species of the ostrea or oyster, and specimens innumerable of the venus, or common eatable clam."
Finally, the regents foiled in all these schemes, determined to make one last effort, to melt this hard-hearted, stubborn body corporate into kindness, by enlarging its establishment, decorating it with “ a splendid collection of medical and surgical talents,” and forming it into a grand college. Now as our magnanimous little college was firmly of opinion (as it declares in this its posthumous death-bed confession, p. 36,) that “ great colleges were injurious to learning," it took this last offer so much to heart, that rather than submit to it, like the virgin martyrs of old, it resolutely lay down and gave up the ghost.
In perfect unison with this spirit of magnanimity are the lessons of high-toned morality, wisdom and good-breeding, which are scattered throughout the book. Thus we are told, p. 17, " that indelicate and improper conduct is at all times reprehensible,” especially in the opinion of a gentleman and a man of science. In p. 11, we learn the important truth, that “ agreeably to long usage, the interests of students, ought to be of primary importance in a public seminary." In p. 23, we are informed that the committee is decidedly of opinion that “it is injurious to ask for legislative patronage at unseasonable times and on improper occasions." As lord Chesterfield, in his invaluable manual of politeness, had neglected to lay down any rules for the behaviour of public bodies towards one another, our com
* Sce a description of this very valuable collection in the Medical Repository
mittee take care to supply the deficiency by assuring us, p. 26, that “one community of gentlemen ought to observe the principles of urbanity towards another.” In every page the college 1 takes care to repeat that its behaviour was guided by delicacy and honour; that all its professors have conducted themselves properly.“ with order and decency," and that it “had inflexibly adhered to the cause of virtue, and in all its proceedings been governed by the principles of moderation and justice.” Moreover, every possible occasion is taken to show its marked disapproba. tion of all impoliteness and indelicate behaviour, as is particularly observable in the remarks on “ certain indelicate proceedings respecting the hospital.”
That our readers may be better enabled to judge of the immense loss which the public has sustained in this unnatural drying up of this fountain of medical science,-a fountain of more value to the country than all the waters of Ballston or Saratoga, we shall insert at length a letter of the learned professor of botany and natural history, giving an account of one of his courses of lectures upon those interesting and important departments of knowledge. To do the professor justice, it is written with all the naiveté and good-nature of Goldsmith and La Fontaine.
Copy of a letter from the hon. Samuel L. Mitchill, M. D. professor of natural
history and botany, to Dr. Romayne, president of the college of physicians
and surgeons: and afterwards transmitted by him to chancellor Tompkins. SIR,
I do myself the justice to report to you, for the information of the college and university, the failure of an effort which I lately made to give the usual course of instruction on natural history and bolany. Pursuant to the duties attached to the professorship, it was announced verbally to such persons as spoke to me on the subject, that lectures would be delivered. And to give the more publicity, an advertisement was inserted in several of the newspapers, and among others in the Public Advertiser, Evening Post and American Citi: zen, that the summer sessions would be opened at the buildings in Magazinestreet, in June.
Such uncommon and pressing recommendations had been made by the corporation of the city, the governors of the hospital, the students of physic, the medical society of the county, and the inhabitants at large, for the pur