London: volume 2

Knight, Charles.


XXVII.-The College of Physicians.

XXVII.-The College of Physicians.



If the skill of our ancient physicians bore any proportion to the lofty pretensions of their studies, great indeed must have been their success. We are apt to fancy that no inconsiderable number of the members of the profession in modern times are distinguished for learning; but what are their attainments to those of Chaucer's

Doctor of Physic

in the century? Are they, like him,

grounded in astronomy

(or astrology--the words were at that time almost synonymous)? Can they, as he is represented to have done, during

all maladies,

Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms

Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,

Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,

Intestine stone, and ulcer, colic pangs,

can they, we ask, keep the patient

in houres

by their

magic natural;

or, in other words, so regulate the crisis of the disease that it shall only happen when the favourable house is in the


We verily believe that not of them would ever know the decisive aspect of the heavens when it had arrived. Perhaps, to use Wallenstein's astrological phraseology,


That lustrous god, was setting at their birth-

Their visual power subdues no mysteries.

Certainly they have no faith in these lofty matters. They will not even credit Roger Bacon when he says

astronomy is the better part of medicine;

and were John of Gatisden (the English court physician) himself to revive, we make no doubt they would laugh to scorn his skill in physiognomy; his projected treatise on chiromancy, or fortune-telling; his sovereign remedies of the blood of


a weasel, and dove's dung; and his precaution (observed with the son of Edward I. or II. during the small-pox) of wrapping the patient in scarlet, and decorating the room throughout with the like colour (the whole being done in a very solemn and imposing manner), which safe prescription recovered him so that no mark was left on his face. And yet it was something in the hours of anguish to look on the

blessed luminaries

above, and connect their movements with the ebbings and flowings of health in our own veins: the very elevation and serenity of thought and feeling thus produced not unfrequently perhaps working a cure,that might otherwise, we fear, have been vainly sought for from the heavenly conjunctions. But inconvenience appears to have attended the belief in the medicinal efficacy of these mysterious agencies-astrology, necromancy, sorcery, &c. As it was tolerably evident that no amount of learning could sound their unfathomable depths, the unlearned made no scruple to plunge into them; and the consequence was, that the people placed the attainments of both classes on a common level; in which they were quite right as far as the supernatural was concerned, but quite wrong unfortunately when it led them to overlook the difference between the supernatural with medical knowledge and experience, and the supernatural without it. It was to remedy this state of things that the operative act of Parliament concerning physicians was framed--the act of the of Henry VIII., . The preamble gives us a valuable idea of the state of medicine at that period. It says--

the science and cunning of physic and surgery

was daily exercised by

a great multitude of ignorant persons, of whom the greater part have no insight in the same, nor in other kind of learning (some also can read no letters on the book); so far forth, that common artificers, as smiths, weavers, and women, boldly and accustomably took upon them great cures, and things of great difficulty, in which they partly used sorceries and witchcraft, and partly applied such medicines unto the diseased as are very noisome and nothing meet therefore; to the high displeasure of God, &c., and destruction of many of the King's liege people.

It was then in consequence provided

that no person within the city of London, nor within


miles of the same, take upon him to exercise or occupy as a physician, except he be


examined, approved, and admitted by the Bishop of London, or by the Dean of

St. Paul's


The other bishops in their several dioceses throughout the country had a similar power conferred on them; a custom, we may observe by the way, that existed down to at least the middle of the eighteenth century. Monks, at that time, formed the greater portion of the body of physicians. What sort of persons were appointed under the provisions of this act, we may judge from a perusal of the minutes of the respecting its proceedings against empirics, where we find half the illiterate quacks and impostors with whom it had to deal, supported by the great ones of the land, from the sovereign downwards. No wonder, then, that enlightened minds beheld the necessity of a better system. Foremost among these was Henry's physician, Thomas Linacre, who had also previously held the same office in the court of Henry VII., and continued to hold it afterwards through the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary. He was born at Canterbury, about . He studied at Oxford, at Bologna, at Florence (where Lorenzo de Medici allowed him the privilege of attending the same professors with his own sons), and at Rome. He is said to have been the Englishman who made himself master of


Aristotle and Galen in their original tongue. He translated parts of both writers into the Latin, and in a style remarkable for its purity and elegance. Erasmus, sending a copy of of the translations to a friend, says,

I present you with the works of Galen, now, by the help of Linacre, speaking better Latin than they even before spoke Greek.

On his return to Oxford he received the degree of M.D. He there read temporary lectures in medicine, and taught the Greek language. His reputation soon attracted the attention of Henry VII., who called him to court, and confided to his care both the health and education of his son, Prince Arthur, A striking evidence of his medical skill is preserved in the well-known fact of his warning to his friend Lilly, the eminent grammarian, that if he allowed an operation to be performed on him according to the advice he had received, it would be fatal. The warning was not taken, and Lilly died. We must not omit to add to this brief account of a remarkable and highly estimable man, that he was of the to give England the benefit of the general European revival of classical learning.

But a still more important claim to the gratitude of his countrymen was to signalize the latter years of Linacre than any we have yet mentioned. Circumstances, of a terrible nature at the time, forwarded the developement of the great physician's plan. The sweating sickness raged with fearful violence in London prior to the year . The infected died within hours after the appearance of the disease; half the population in many places were swept away; the administration of justice was suspended; the Court itself shifted about from part to another, in undisguised alarm. Linacre now appears to have opened to Cardinal Wolsey his scheme of a , to exercise a superintendence over the education and general fitness of all medical practitioners. The great Cardinal was favourable, and recommended it to his royal master; and on the , letters patent were granted, incorporating Linacre and others in a

perpetual Commonalty, or Fellowship, of the Faculty of Physic.

The meeting of the new society took place at Linacre's house, No. , Knight Rider Street, a building known as the Stonehouse, which he gave to the College, and which still belongs to it. In about the King's charter was confirmed by Parliament, and the power of licensing practitioners transferred from the Church to the College. Various acts have been subsequently passed, regulating its constitution and rights, which we pass over as being interesting rather to the medical than to the general reader. At present the College consists of orders-Fellows and Licentiates; the latter consisting of all those persons who have received the College to practise, and the former chosen, from the Licentiates, to form the governing body of the Society. From the latter of course are elected the President, the Censors, and other officers of the College. In the


issued , it is stated that

Every candidate for a diploma in medicine, upon presenting himself for examination, shall produce satisfactory evidence--


. Of unimpeached moral character;


. Of having completed the


year of his age; and,


. Of having devoted himself for


years at least to the study of medicine,

both in theory and practice, and in all its branches. A

competent knowledge of Greek

is desired, but not indispensable; the College

cannot, however, on any account dispense with a familiar knowledge of the Latin language, as constituting an essential part of a liberal


The examinations, conducted at certain periods before the board of Censors, are equally open to foreigners and natives; and the College is

prepared to regard in the same light, and address by the same appellation, all who have obtained its diploma, whether they have graduated elsewhere or not.

About the period of the accession of Charles I., the College removed from Knight Rider Street to the bottom of , where they took a house from the dean and chapter of , of which they purchased the leasehold. Here the most illustrious of English medical discoverers, Harvey, erected an elegantly furnished convocation-room, and a museum in the garden, filled with choice books from his own library, and furnished with surgical instruments. In this very convocation-room were most probably delivered the Lumleian lectures; in of which, about , he is supposed to have promulgated the great theory of the circulation of the blood, which completely revolutionized the art of medicine, but which he did not fully demonstrate till . To their honour be it spoken, the members of the College appear to have supported Harvey throughout all the trials which this new heresy in physic brought upon its author. His practice fell off considerably; the popular feeling was greatly excited against him; and altogether he suffered so much, that he determined in the bitterness of his spirit to publish no more; and it was only by great persuasion that of his friends, Sir George Ent, obtained the manuscript of his

Exercitations on the Generation of Animals,

for publication, after it had lain for many years. useless. No wonder, therefore, that the illustrious physician was gratified when the College placed his statue in their hall during his lifetime. The , was also a proud day to Harvey, for it exhibited the depth of his gratitude. On that day he invited all the members to a splendid entertainment; and then placed before them a deed of gift of the entire premises he had built and furnished-convocation-room, museum, and library. He subsequently (in , or the year before his death) increased these donations by the assignment of a farm, of the then value of per annum, his paternal estate, to defray the expenses of an anniversary feast, and for the establishment of an annual Latin oration. During the long period that Harvey was connected with the College, he appears to have taken an active part in their proceedings, some of which, in connexion with the examination of


present a very curious insight into the delusions practised upon the people. Our notice of the more interesting cases on record cannot perhaps be better introduced than by a curious extract we have chanced upon in a tract in the , published during Harvey's life, and which describes with remarkable minuteness the many varieties of character that constituted the great host of pretenders with which the College had then to deal. It is long, but we cannot persuade ourselves to injure its completeness by mutilation :--



that we meet with, who will needs be physicians, are those who truly are not educated and instructed to this, but prompt of nature; whose genius leads them into it, say they, and are cut out and configurated for it; whose base inclination and the tickling itch of gain is the


; daring anything, which they have heard to have profited others, without any disquisition, cognition, and discrimination of causes.

Others, that are vulgar physicians, had rather heal vulgar only, and to these they give their counsels: some also of favour only, and being asked; but the most

part for the ambition of honour, that they might be esteemed of wise men, possess this innate kind of vice. Of the same sort are those deceivers who would seem to be rich, and therefore give all their ministrations gratis, to the destruction or casual health of the people. To these succeed they who covet not monies, but gifts, lest they should seem below the condition of great and noble men, and deserve nothing, they say, but do it for a common good. The like to these are they who confess truly they are not physicians, but have great skill in physic, and have their secrets and receipts from kings, emperors, queens, and great ladies: for these are wont to suborn the middle sort of people, which do extol the price of the medicine. Others there are who turn themselves into physicians, who have been old soldiers, and now left the wars; (these) brag of and show their wounds, and thereby think and persuade themselves they have got great experience. Some of the clergy also, priests, and poor scholars, that have nothing else to do, must needs turn physicians. Some, silenced ministers, and ousted of their benefices, lay hold on Physic, and commit force and violence to her body; that if


fails, t'other may hold; and think their Latin, and their coat, the grand charter to entitle them to the practice in physic. There are a generation also who pretend to Astrology, Chiromancy, (and why not to Coscinomancy?) to Physiognomy too; (and who) dare tamper with physic, and by schemes, angles, and configurations, predict not only diseases, but the cure also, and do think themselves able physicians; and the rather, because they are now masters of art in, and instituted by, the heavenly Academy and College of Stars. Others scribble upon paper, (not the innoxious words of Salomon) but characters, charms as they call them, whereby diseases as well as devils are chased away, and cross themselves before and behind, lest the devil should take them away, writing powerful words. There are also who are well known in divers idioms, and pretend to speak Chaldaic, Arabic, or Dalmatiac, and are loaden with many arts .... Many of these know nothing less than to make the philosopher's stone, and carry about them propagable mines, with a perpetual ferment. There are they again who pretend to be baptized Jews (more wicked than the not baptized), who have learned from the Cabala to mortify Mercury diverse ways, and also to prepare poisons variously, which are good against all diseases, and many more. They brag of the Hebrew tongue to contain the fundaments of all sciences and the grand secrets of states and commonwealths, and are big with the pre-knowledge of futures. They often cite their Rabbines, the book of Nebolohu, with the little Key of Salomon, from whence they can read things past as well as to come. Others assert the medical art to be hereditary, and to run in the line of their own progeny, although they be all fools or knaves. And then at last, if these cannot be accounted of among men, they have a sure card they think to play, and to be sure they will be received among women; and to that end brag of the cosmetic faculty, of sweet ointments, oils, and perfumes, and the art to preserve their beauty, or repair it if ruined; and a




if they have not a fling at the celestial stone, too, of Armenia, whereby they can cure a large catalogue of diseases; for these are cut out of the same hide with Greeks and Jews; anything will serve to cheat the credulous vulgar of their money.

[n.21.1]  Alas! how true the aphorism remains to this day! The proceedings


against these and earlier empirics were collected by Dr. Goodall in , and added to his work entitled

The Royal

College of Physicians


It commences soon after the foundation of the society, and continues till some few years after Harvey's death. A great number of persons were examined during this period; the examination generally ending in a fine, and in an order to practise no more. Contumacious individuals were not unfrequently imprisoned. We extract a few of the cases:

In the


year of this King's (Edward VI.) reign,


Grig, a poulterer of Surrey, taken among the people for a prophet, in curing of divers diseases by word and prayer, and saying he would not take money, &c., was, by command of the Earl of Warwick and other of the council, set on a scaffold in the town of Croydon, in Surrey, with a paper on his breast, whereon was written his deceitful and hypocritical dealings; and after that, on the

8th of September

, set on a pillory in



Of the like counterfeit physician,

says Stow,

have I noted (in the Summary of my Chronicles, anno


) to be set on horseback, his face to the horse's tail, the same tail in his hand as a bridle, a collar

(not of SS)

about his neck, a whetstone on his breast, and so led through the City of London with ringing of basons, and banished.

In Queen Elizabeth's reign,

Paul Buck, a very impudent and ignorant empiric,

was sent to the Compter in ; upon which no less a personage than Sir Francis Walsingham wrote to request his discharge. Other noble persons also interfered in his favour, but without effect. Sir Francis frequently appears in the light of a petitioner for oppressed


in behalf too of her Majesty. He thus writes to Dr. Gifford concerning Margaret Kennix:--

Whereas heretofore by her Majesty's commandment upon the pitiful complaint of Margaret Kennix I wrote unto Dr. Symonds, the president of your college and fellowship of physicians within the City, signifying how that it was her Highness's pleasure that the poor woman should be permitted by you quietly to practise and minister to the curing of diseases and wounds, by the means of certain simples, in the application whereof it seemeth God hath given her an especial knowledge, to the benefit of the poorer sort, and chiefly for the better maintenance of her impotent husband and charge of family, who wholly depend of the exercise of her skill. Forasmuch as I am now informed she is restrained either by you, or some other of your college, contrary to her Majesty's pleasure, to practise any longer her said manner of ministering of simples, as she hath done, whereby her undoing is likely to ensue, unless she may be permitted to continue the use of her knowledge on that behalf; I shall therefore desire you forthwith to take order amongst yourselves for the re-admitting her into the quiet exercise of her small talent, lest by the renewing of her complaint to her Majesty through your hard dealing towards her, you procure further inconvenience thereby to yourself than perhaps you should be willing to fall out.

In these last lines, the wilful daughter of Henry VIII. speaks as plainly as if she had herself written and signed them. The College, however, while highly respectful, was exceedingly firm, pleading its rights, and the utility of their preservation for the general good. In this, as in similar cases, they gained the day.

Simon Forman, a pretended astrologer and great impostor, appearing before the president and censors, confessed that he had practised physic in England


years, and


years in London.

He boasted that he made use of no other help for the discovery of distemper but his Ephemerides, and that by the heavenly signs, aspects and constellations of the planets, he could presently know every disease. Being examined in the principles of


as well as in the elements of physic, he answered so absurdly and ridiculously, that it caused great sport and mirth amongst the auditors.

He was fined and reprimanded, but, continuing to practise, the College committed him to prison or years afterwards, when he was discharged by the Lord Keeper (Burghley). In a few months he was again imprisoned, and when he left the gaol,

he fled to


as a place of protection against the College officers;

and on his refusing once more to appear before the College, he was prosecuted at law.

Among the other cases brought before the Council in the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles I., was that of Francis Anthony, who killed patients with an

aurum potabile ;

Mrs. Woodhouse, a famous empiric living at Kingsland, who being

examined of the virtues of medicines, and asked


her opinion of pepper, she said it was cold: violets and strawberries, cold and dry,

and who cured people

bewitched and planet-struck;

George Butler, who, being a

king's servant, refused to come till twice cited, and then showed a licence from his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury;

(his charges and mode of obtaining payment seem to have been as peculiar as his practice : to woman

he gave


pills, for which he expected


a-piece; to another he gave


purges, and had her petticoat in pawn;

) and Dr. Leighton, a Scotch puritan preacher, who, for the publication of a book reflecting upon the Queen and the bishops, had been so infamously treated by the Star Chamber of Laud and Charles I.

He said he practised under his doctor's degree taken at Leyden; but giving no satisfaction, and being perverse as to ecclesiastical affairs,

was interdicted. He then endeavoured to procure a licence, which was refused on account of his being in holy orders.

But he still persisting to practise in London or within


miles, he was arrested, and afterwards censured,

tamquam intimis

, he having been censured in the Star Chamber, and lost his ears.

We conclude with of not the least curious cases of the whole. In the examination of John Lamb occurs the following passage :--

Being asked in astrology what house he looketh unto to know a disease, or the event of it, and how the Lord Ascendant should stand thereto-he answereth, he looks for the


house: which being


, he saith he understands nothing therein.

It is evident from this as well as from Forman's examination that the censors of the College themselves dabbled occasionally in astrological learning. The last case is thus recorded :

In the


year of the King's (Charles I.) reign, an order was sent to the College from the Star Chamber to examine the pretended cures of


Leverett, who said that he was a


son, and undertook the curing of several diseases by stroaking.

Accordingly various examinations took place, and very amusing it is to read the account of the experiments performed in them before the grave censors, and other learned fellows of the College, who watched from day to day the results of the


process on the patients brought to be submitted to it. On more than occasion we find the name of among the examiners. Of course the imposture or delusion was exposed; but it sounds somewhat strangely when we hear it stated in aggravation of his offence by

W. Clowes, Serjeant-Surgeon to his Majesty,


that he, Leverett,

scornfully slighteth his Majesty's sacred gift of healing (by his blessed hand) that disease commonly called the King's evil, in comparison to


cure; to the dishonour of his Majesty amongst his subjects.

It would be difficult now to discover why


should not be as good as


With all its triumphs, learning has much to look back upon in its annals, from which it should derive lessons of toleration and humility.

We have neither space nor desire to enter into the question of the disputes in which the College has been engaged; it would be much better to let them be forgotten in the oblivion towards which they are tending. How fiercely these controversies have raged may be judged from the fact that between and above pamphlets are known to have been published. Many amusing passages might be culled from this overwhelming mass of disputation. From the

Elegy on the Death of Thomas Saffold

it appears that the Physicians attacked the empirics with their pen as well as with their Acts of Parliament.

Lament, ye damsels of our London city,

Poor unprovided girls, though fair and witty;

Who masked would to his house in couples come

To understand your matrimonial doom;

To know what kind of men you were to marry,

And how long time, poor things, you were to tarry.

Your oracle is silent: none can tell

On whom his astrologic mantle fell.

For he when sick refused the Doctor's aid,

And only to his pills devotion paid;

Yet it was surely a most sad disaster,

The saucy pills at last should kill their master.


Reasons humbly offered by the Company exercising the trade and mystery of Upholder (or Undertaker), against part of the Bill for the better viewing, searching, and examining Drugs and Medicines

(in ), humorously ridicules the opposition made to the passing of the act in question. We have only space for the following extract:--

As the Company have an undisputed right in, and upon, the bodies of all and every the subjects of this kingdom, we conceive the passing of this bill, though not absolutely depriving them of their said right, might keep them out of possession by unreasonable delay, to the great detriment of that Company and their numerous families. We hope it will be considered, that there are multitudes of necessitous heirs and penurious parents, persons in pinching circumstances with numerous families of children, wives that have lived long, many robust aged women with great jointures, elder brothers with bad understandings, single heirs of great estates, whereby the collateral line is for ever excluded, reversionary patents and reversionary promises of preferment, leases upon single lives, and play debts upon joint lives; and that the persons so aggrieved have no hope of being speedily relieved any other way than by the dispensing of drugs and medicines in the manner they now are; burying alive being judged repugnant to the known laws of the kingdom.

There is also interesting feature of these squabbles which may be noticed without breaking the rule we have set down for our guidance; we refer to the dispute between the College and the Apothecaries' Company. Towards the close of the century the apothecaries of London began generally to prescribe as


well as dispense medicines. The College resisted this inroad on their domain; and established, by way of retaliation it is said, a Dispensary at their hall for the sale of medicines to the poor at prime cost. An animated literary war now broke out; and amongst the other productions of the occasion was Garth's satirical poem of

The Dispensary.

We cannot better commence our description of the edifice in than with a brief extract from the witty physician's verses:--

Not far from that most celebrated place

Where angry Justice shows her awful face,

Where little villains must submit to fate,

That great ones may enjoy the world in state,

There stands a dome, majestic to the sight,

And sumptuous arches bear its awful height;

A golden globe, placed high with artful skill,

Seems to the distant sight a gilded pill.

The removal of the College from was owing to the fire of London, which entirely destroyed the buildings, including those erected by Harvey, the statue of the latter, and the library, with the exception of about folio volumes. For the next few years the members met at the house of the President.

In a piece of ground was purchased in , and in the edifice was begun, from a design by Sir Christopher Wren. It was opened in


, under the presidency of Sir George Ent. We need not describe the front of this building; Garth's verses and the engraving convey a sufficient idea. The general style of the architecture, we may observe, can scarcely be said to be worthy of the genius that produced . It was, however, a sumptuously decorated building in the interior, as, fortunately, we may yet see; though our local historians generally pass it without particular notice. Since the last removal of the society, this their once favourite and splendid hall has been sadly desecrated. The octangular porch of entrance, feet in diameter, no longer exhibits on its floor

the dust, brushed off from learned feet;

--no longer now, as of old, does the costermonger of the neighbouring market peep into that mysterious place, and wonder whether its owners, who worked such miracles upon every body else, ever allowed themselves to die;--no longer does the young of the gaze his soul away in admiration as of the very men themselves (gods, rather, to his credulous fancy)

his entry made,

Beneath the immense full bottom's shade,

While the gilt cane with solemn pride

To each sagacious nose applied,

Seemed but a necessary prop

To bear that weight of wig at top.

Butchers and meat fill the outer porch, butchers and meat fill the quadrangle within, now so divided off and covered over for their purposes, that it is some time before can distinguish the outline of the court, or the principal buildings of the College which still surround it. The interior of the octangular pile above the porch formed the lecture-room, which is light and very lofty, being open upwards to the top of the edifice. The general shape and character of this building are preserved throughout; the porch is octangular; there are exterior faces to the part above, with windows, and the same with the lantern over the dome. The room is now unused. Crossing the corner of the market or court to the left, we find the way to the more important part of the old College, now used in the business[n.26.1]  of the gentlemen to whom the entire premises belong. We are now in the entrance-hall of the building. As we look around and above at the great size and noble proportions of this place, we begin to have a consciousness of the presence of its illustrious architect. The hall is probably feet high from floor to ceiling, and perhaps about feet by square. A truly magnificent staircase runs upwards through it, the balusters most elaborately carved. The ceiling is elegantly decorated in panels. Right up the centre of the place extends a round shaft containing a geometrical staircase within, erected by the present proprietors, as the mode of communication to the rooms at the top of the building. From the staircase we pass into the dining-room, about feet long by wide, which has a ceiling that must at once excite the admiration of every visitor. It is divided into parts; a great circle in the centre and a large oval on each side, the whole formed by very deep and elaborate stucco ornaments of foliage, flowers, &c., on a beautiful lightblue ground. Each of the figures is set in a rich border, filling up all the remaining space of the ceiling. A very broad cornice of similar character extends


round the room. The oak carvings also deserve minute attention. They consist of the framework in which the rich marble of the chimney-pieces is set, the bold ornamental wreaths, &c., above, and of a gallery fixed against the wall near the ceiling, which stood formerly in the library beneath, now lost in the alterations of the College. The body of the gallery is supported by brackets carved all over, and of a very handsome massive character; and the upper rail by figures of children (instead of balusters), their lower parts merged into pedestals. The hall is lighted by arched windows. Beyond this room is a smaller as to length, but decorated in the same rich style. So completely is the view of the principal buildings of the college shut out from the court below by the roof with its numerous skylights thrown over the court, that but for the courtesy of the proprietors we should be unable to notice either that or the statues of Charles II. and Sir John Cutler still existing there, and to the last of which a curious story is annexed. Passing through a window of the counting-house, however, we get on to the roof of which we have spoken, and there, walking about among the skylights projecting upwards breast high, look around us at our leisure. On the north and south are the buildings which enclose sides of the quadrangle, formerly used as places of residence by the college officers. On the west is the principal front of the College, consisting of chief stories, the lower decorated with Ionic pillars, the capitals of which just appear above our feet, the higher by Corinthian, and by a pediment in the centre at the top. Immediately beneath the pediment is the statue of Charles II., with a Latin inscription. Some of the stones in which it is inscribed have been removed for the formation of a window; they are preserved, however, with that care which has evidently characterized all the alterations of the proprietors, who certainly have injured the original building and its decorations as little as possible. On the east is the octangular pile, and its somewhat mean-looking dome; with the gilt ball or


above, and the statue of Sir John Cutler below.

I was greatly at a loss,

says Pennant,

to learn how so much respect was shown to a character so stigmatized for avarice. I think myself much indebted to Dr. Warren for the extraordinary history. It appears by the annals of the College, that in the year 1671 a considerable sum of money had been subscribed by the fellows for the erection of a new college, the old one having been consumed in the great fire eight years before. It also appears that Sir John Cutler, a near relation of Dr. Whistler, the president, was desirous of becoming a benefactor. A committee was appointed to wait upon Sir John to thank him for his kind intentions. He accepted their thanks, renewed his promise, and specified the part of the building of which he intended to bear the expense. In the year 1680 statues in honour of the king and Sir John were voted by the members; and nine years afterwards, the College being then completed, it was resolved to borrow money of Sir John Cutler to discharge the College debt; but the sum is not specified. It appears, however, that in 1699 Sir John's executors made a demand on the College of seven thousand pounds, which sum was supposed to include the money actually lent--the money pretended to be given, but set down as a debt in Sir John's books-and the interest on both. Lord Radnor, however, and Mr. Boulter, Sir John Cutler's executors, were prevailed on to accept two thousand pounds from the College, and actually remitted the other five. So that Sir John's promise, which he never performed, obtained him the statue, and the liberality of his executors has kept it in its place ever since. But the College wisely have obliterated the inscription which, in the warmth of its gratitude, it had placed beneath the figure- Omnis Cutleri cedat labor amphitheatro.

In this building the fellows of the College continued to hold their meetings till , when, as Dr. Macmichael observes in his interesting little volume,

The Gold-headed Cane,


The change of fashion having overcome the

genius loci


they removed to their present building at the corner of and . Thither let us follow them.

This elegant building, erected by Sir R. Smirke, was opened on the , with a Latin oration delivered by the President, Sir Henry Halford. The style, as will be perceived from a glance at our engraving, is the Grecian Ionic; the portico, though not remarkable for originality, is beautiful. The interior very happily confirms the promise of the exterior. An air of sumptuous elegance reigns throughout, made only the more impressive by the sense of repose and dignity conveyed by the general solitude of the apartments, and by their airy and noble proportions. A door on the left of the entrance-hall leads into the dining-room, lighted by a range of windows overlooking , and having a chastely beautiful ceiling. Pillars of green and white marble (imitation) decorate the northern end of the room. Over the fireplace is a fine portrait of a fine face, that of Hamey,the eminent physician of the period of the Commonwealth, of whom it has been said,

He was a consummate scholar without pedantry, a complete philosopher without any taint of infidelity, learned without vanity, grave without moroseness, solemn without preciseness, pleasant without levity, regular without formality, nice without effeminacy, generous without prodigality, and religious without hypocrisy.

When, during the civil wars, the property of the College at was condemned, as part of the possessions of the Church, and put up to public auction, Dr. Hamey became the purchaser, and years later settled it in perpetuity on the College. A valuable MS. of Hamey's is preserved in the library-his notes and criticisms on Aristophanes. Here also are the portraits of Sir Edmund King, and Dr. Freind, the well-known historian of medicine. King was among the philosophers of his time to exhibit the experiment of the transfusion of blood. He caused, for instance, the blood of a young dog to be transfused into the veins of almost blind with age, and which could hardly move: in hours it began to leap and frisk. It was probably while exhibiting some of these experiments before Charles II., who had a taste for experimental philosophy, that the King suddenly fell on the floor as if dead. Dr. King, without waiting for the advice of the royal physicians, which must have come too late, boldly put aside the danger to himself in case of failure, and immediately bled the Monarch, who then recovered his senses. The Council ordered him a reward of a for this service, . The portrait of Dr. Freind, in his full-bottomed wig and brown velvet coat, reminds us of an anecdote creditable alike to the profession and human nature. During the ministry of Sir Robert Walpole, Freind was elected member for Launceston, and distinguished himself by some able speeches against the policy of the government. He was supposed to have


had a hand in Bishop Atterbury's plot, as it was designated, for the restoration of the Stuarts-at all events he spoke in the prelate's favour. He was consequently committed to the Tower in , the Habeas Corpus Act being at the period suspended. Here he lay for some months, during which his practice, of course, passed into other hands, but chiefly into his friend Mead's. This admirable man, however, exerted himself to the utmost to procure Freind's release, which he was at last enabled to accomplish through the minister's requiring his own medical assistance. Mead went, urged everything he could think in favour of the captive, and finally refused to prescribe till Freind was set at liberty. Scarcely had the liberated physician reached his home, when Mead presented him with guineas, being the sum he had received from Freind's patients during his imprisonment! An act like this must have made that imprisonment ever afterwards appear to Freind the brightest spot in his lifetime, whilst the world derived a considerable benefit from the same event. In the Tower Freind wrote the entertaining and valuable history we have mentioned.

Returning to the entrance hall, and ascending the stairs which turn off to the right and to the left towards the gallery or landing on the top, we cannot but pause a moment to admire the exceedingly beautiful character and proportion of this part of the building. Here are a pair of folding doors in front leading into the library, and a single door on the right opening upon the Censor's room. This apartment, with its rich oak panelling and pillared walls, is rich in pictures and busts, and in the almost interminable series of memories which invest these works of art with a higher interest than art alone can bestow.

Sydenham is here, with his fine massive face and his long and flowing silvery hair. During the civil wars he commanded a troop of horse under the King. Sydenham has the great merit of being the of his profession to discard mere theory, and apply with diligence to the study of nature and facts. His practice and writings accordingly make an era in medical history. For the same reason he obtained the names of the English Hippocrates and the Father of English medicine. Here, too, is Linacre, with his small ruddy features, hollow cheeks,


thoughtful eye, and particularly expressive mouth--a delightfully quaint-looking face in all its seriousness. Over this picture are the College arms in oak, with the shield richly emblazoned. Sir Thomas Browne is here, with his interesting and poetical face richly set off by--the dark shadow of his hair and of the background of the picture. His chin and upper lip are partially covered with moustaches of a brownish hue, and his beard is peaked. The penetrating yet absorbed expression of the eye strongly reminds you of the man whom nothing could disturb from his reveries. The sudden fall of the cannon-shot which failed to disturb the self-possession of Charles of Sweden whilst writing his despatches would most likely have been unperceived by Browne.

He had no sympathy with the great business of men. In that awful year when Charles I. went in person to seize


members of the Commons' House when the streets resounded with shouts of

Privilege of Parliament!

and the King's coach was assailed by the prophetic cry,

To your tents, 0 Israel!

in that year, in fact, when the civil war


broke out, and when most men of literary power were drawn by the excitement of the crisis into patriotic controversy on either sideappeared the calm and meditative reveries of the

Religio Medici.

The war raged on. It was a struggle between all the elements of government. England was torn by convulsions, and red with blood. But Browne was tranquilly preparing his

Pseudodoxia Epidemica ;

as if errors about basilisks and griffins were the fatal epidemic of the time; and it was published in due order in that year, when the cause which the author advocated, as far as he could advocate anything political, lay at its last gasp. The King dies on the scaffold. The Protectorate succeeds. Men are again fighting on paper the solemn cause already decided in the field. Drawn from visions more sublime-forsaking studies more intricate and vast than those of the poetical sage of Norwich-diverging from a career bounded by the most splendid goal-foremost in the ranks shines the flaming sword of Milton: Sir Thomas Browne is lost in the quincunx of the ancient gardens; and the year


beheld the death of Oliver Cromwell, and the publication of the


[n.30.1]  The pleasant, good-humoured face of Sir Samuel Garth enlivens the censor's room. wonders where the original of such a picture could have found a sufficient stock of ill nature to commence satirist. As the friend of Pope and Swift had certainly a great deal of wit, perhaps it was from a deficiency of ill nature that

The Dispensary

is not a great poem! Sufficient then for its author be the fact that he was a good man. Who will not revere the, memory of Garth, when they consider that to him Dryden was indebted for a suitable interment, when a personage of high rank forgot the duty he had sought? He caused the remains of the illustrious poet to be brought to , and there pronounced an oration over them, then set on foot a subscription to defray the expenses of the funeral, and ultimately attended the solemnity to , where it was conveyed on the , with a train of above a coaches. Among the other portraits of the room are those of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII. (which Malcolm thinks is either by or from Holbein), and Andreas Vesalius, the famous Italian anatomist, whose wild-looking aspect seems in strange harmony with his unhappy fortunes. In voyaging


from Padua to Venice in , he was shipwrecked on the isle of Zante, and there perished by hunger. marble busts in addition adorn the censor's room: those of Sir Henry Halford, Sydenham, Mead, and Baillie. With an anecdote of the latter we quit this interesting apartment. Baillie was occasionally very irritable, and indisposed to attend to the details of an uninteresting story. After listening with torture to a prosing account from a lady who ailed so little that she was going to an opera that evening, he had happily escaped from the room, when he was urgently requested to step up-stairs again; it was to ask him whether on her return from the opera she might eat some oysters:

Yes, ma'am,

said Baillie,

shells and all.

The library is a truly splendid room. It is very long, broad, and high, lighted by beautiful lanterns in the ceiling, which is of the most elegant character. The walls consist of stories, marked at intervals by flat oaken pillars below, and clusters of flat and round imitation-marble pillars above. A gallery extends along the story all round the room, and the wall is there fitted up with bookcases, hidden by crimson curtains, containing preparations; amongst others are some of the nerves and blood-vessels constructed by Harvey, and most probably used by him in the very lectures before referred to. The books, chiefly the gift of the Marquis of Dorchester, who left his library to the College, are ranged round the walls of the lower story. From the gallery a narrow staircase leads up into a small theatre, or lecture-room, where are some interesting busts and pictures, among the latter a fine portrait of Hunter. The most interesting works of art in the library are the portraits which adorn the compartments of the wall near the ends of the room. is of Dr. Radcliffe, the founder of the magnificent institution at Oxford, and whose executors gave towards the erection of this building. He looks serious, yet with a latent smile playing over his face, as though suddenly called to attend a patient, while the enjoyment of a just-uttered joke was as yet unsubsided. It is painted by Kneller, the conjunction of whose name with Radcliffe will remind many a reader of the anecdote concerning them. They lived next to each other in , Covent Garden, and the painter having beautiful pleasure grounds, a door was opened for the accommodation of his friend and neighbour. In consequence of some annoyance, Sir Godfrey threatened to close up the door; to which Radcliffe replied, he might do any thing with it if he would not paint it.

Did my very good friend, Dr. Radcliffe, say so?

cried Sir Godfrey:

go you back to him, and after presenting my service to him, tell him that I can take anything from him but physic.

How different the associations roused in the mind by a sight of the picture at the opposite end of the room--the portrait of Harvey, by Cornelius Jansen! And if ever portrait spoke the history of its subject, it is this. Beneath that wide expanse of brow, how forlorn a face appears! A few white hairs straggle over the lip which had so often quivered at some new and more piercing instance of the world's folly and ingratitude. That out-stretched hand there were few to grasp beyond his own immediate friends and connexions; yet hand, heart, and soul, lived and toiled and suffered but for the good of mankind. Harvey, however, was a man in fortitude as well as in every other respect; and the very studies which disquieted him, brought him afterwards Peace. He loved


his profession, and had high hopes of it. To have seen the change that has characterized the last years, during which the rate of mortality has decreased nearly a , and mainly by the efforts of the members of that profession, would have amply repaid him for all his sufferings. Perhaps he did foresee some such change. Perhaps he saw, in the dim and distant future, glimpses of a happier state of things than we have yet any conception of. Much is true that cannot be demonstrated. The world would not listen to demonstrations. How does it know what glorious revelations its wilfulness, blind ridicule, and injustice may not have shut up in his grave, as in the graves of others like him?


[n.21.1] The Vanity of the Craft of Physic, by Noah Briggs, Chymiatrophilos, 1651.

[n.26.1] Braziers and Brass Founders.

[n.30.1] Edinburgh Review, October, 1836.