MR. WARDEN AND GENTLEMEN,
It has been considered desirable by those who have the direction and management of this College, that a certain amount of medical instruction should be given to its pupils, in addition to the ordinary course of teaching pursued in its schools; and the duty of imparting that instruction having been committed to me, I now crave your indulgence whilst I occupy a little of your time, in speaking of the things which seem to belong to the proper performance of it.
It is customary for those who are about to direct the minds of learners towards the attainment of any branch of knowledge, to present them, at the outset, with a history of its origin, progress, and characteristics, in order that they who listen may have at least an outline of what they have to learn, before it be attempted to shew them how they may learn it. This method of glancing over the subject generally before entering into details, is manifestly a good one; for to start upon such a principle is as though we displayed to a traveller, about to visit an unknown country, a map of the same, and bade him remark the number, extent, and situation, of the rivers, forests, and cities, which he would have to traverse, or to touch at: by which means he would acquire a general idea of the features of the country, and by being prepared for some of the difficulties of the way, and armed against a few of its dangers, he would be the better enabled to surmount the one, and to avoid the other.
If then this preliminary kind of information constitute so desirable an introduction to the study of any branch of science, it [3/4] has always been held to be peculiarly so, with regard to that of Medicine, especially when taught through the medium of oral lectures. It is, nevertheless, my intention to depart in some degree, from the prescribed rule on the present occasion; and so to shew you at the very outset of our labours, that they must be conducted on a principle of their own, adapted to the peculiar circumstances which have called for them.
If indeed I were now commencing a series of lectures to a strictly medical class, one composed of gentlemen specially intended for the medical profession, and for that only, I should not feel myself at liberty to go out of the beaten track, or be warranted in omitting, in this introductory discourse, any of those initiatory details and observations, which experience has proved to be capable of smoothing the way for their after studies; but you, Gentlemen, whom I am to have the pleasure of addressing in this place, do not belong to such a class; you are not intended to take your stand among the regular practitioners of medicine, and are, therefore not obliged, as they are, to acquire a knowledge of all that the learned industry of ages has accumulated for its elucidation; you may accordingly well be spared from many of those details, which however necessary for them in their future course, would only lead you into a maze of profitless inquiry, from which it would be difficult and tedious to extricate you. The amount of information we are to convey to you, must in fact be measured by your own powers of receiving it; recollecting always, that it is to be gathered up by you more as a means to an end, than for its own sake, and that it is to serve you hereafter, merely as one of those educational weapons, by the employment of which, with God's help, that end is to be obtained. You are not expected to become learned physicians, or expert surgeons, though it is to be hoped that you may acquire a sufficient amount of knowledge to enable you to act under the peculiar circumstances in which you will be placed, with safety and advantage in either capacity: and I entirely believe that this power may be assured to you, by fixing in your minds a few sound elementary principles of practice; by making you [4/5] understand when, and in what manner to apply them, and by bringing you practically acquainted with the properties of those substances and means which constitute our "materia medica." Hence you see, that with respect to your knowledge of medicine, you will occupy some middle point between the deeply learned and the entirely ignorant; and as this estimate of your position must never be lost sight of in the course of our future association, so it is quite proper for me to declare it to you at the very beginning of it.
It will therefore be worse than unnecessary for me to ask your attention either to the ancient subtleties or the modern refinements of an art, which men in all ages have been only too ready to treat of as a mystery, or to burden you with the perplexing history of medicine as a progressive science--or with the conflicting theories, which by the over-weaning confidence of speculative and ambitious minds have ever characterised it. Let me rather shew you, (as most in accordance with your wants, and as I venture to think with your feelings also,) the art of medicine in her simplest, purest form; such as she was when first she came to man as a gift from Heaven: the harbinger of peace to those who suffer, and having no other object on earth than to dwell there for the glory of God, and the benefit of his creatures.
What you will require to learn of this art is simply how you may detect the existence of a malady, and what remedies experience has shown to be most suitable for its alleviation. You will soon become convinced that such an inquiry, and the labours resulting from it are worthy to be associated even with those of a Christian teacher; and that they can be pursued together with advantage to mankind, even though the learning of the schools and the profound experience of the practised physician, may in a great measure, not belong to you.
I have no fear however, Gentlemen, that the study to which it is my pleasing duty to invite you; will be lacking in interest, (for it has charms peculiarly its own which you will not fail to discover for yourselves how imperfectly soever I may display them) [5/6]--or that it will be even difficult to shew how intimately and naturally its practical results are connected with the more immediate labours of your calling: but as your own assent to the truth of this is essential to the future success of our association in the characters of teacher and learners, I am proportionably desirous of laying the proofs of it before you:--I propose therefore as the principal aim of this address to explain to you why I believe that even a moderate knowledge of medicine, based upon sound principles, must materially assist the glorious cause for the advancement of which you are being trained here; as well as to declare to you unreservedly, in what spirit, by what means, and to what extent that knowledge will be conveyed.
We may gather from nearly every page of the religious history of former days, how intimate a union existed between the teachers of the Christian religion and the professors of the medical art. I do not remind you of this because I wish to advocate a general return to a state of things, the necessity for which has long passed away with the changes which the march of time has made in our social and intellectual condition: but, because it is advisable for you to bear in mind, that in attempting to bring about this union now in the persons of yourselves, we are doing no new thing, but are merely acting upon the experience of the past, which has taught us that the union referred to has always been attended with beneficial results in such labours and trials as you will hereafter be called upon to encounter. If time permitted, I could very agreeably to myself, and, perhaps, also not altogether unprofitably to you, dilate upon the nature and advantages of that connexion which in former days existed between the priestly office and the exercise of the healing art; but having thus alluded to, it as related in an interesting manner to our present inquiry and purposes, it will be sufficient to declare that the value of this connexion has never ceased to be acknowledged by those whose past career is to be the pattern of your own--and that, accordingly, all of the first great missionaries, to whatever branch of the "Universal Church" they may have belonged, were thoroughly conversant with the practice of [6/7] medicine; and to such an extent as often to have appeared to the ignorant and credulous persons among whom they ministered, to be endowed with even miraculous gifts of healing.
The proof of its utility is not only to be found however in the records of ancient days, or in the history of those illustrious men, who in different ages have acted as your pioneers in the work before you; for even at the present period the principle is so fully recognised and acted upon, that missionaries with a medical education at least, are already to be found in India, Africa, China, Syria, and the Islands of the Southern Seas. Every recent attempt indeed for the conversion of the heathen has been more or less governed by the feeling, that if any vigorous and systematic effort for that purpose is to be made, missionaries need to be equipped with all the appliances of European skill--and inasmuch as our superiority in the arts and sciences affords a very powerful means for assisting that object, we should throw away an advantage in not employing them.
In the first proposal for the establishment of this very College, the necessity for such kind of training to be carried on within its walls, was plainly declared, whilst with respect to the particular knowledge now under our consideration, it expressed an opinion that some acquaintance with "the science and practice of medicine and of the ordinary operations of surgery" was a "necessary qualification for Missionary success." The students of Codrington College in Barbadoes are bound by the terms of the will of its founder, to "study and to practice Physic and Chirurgery as well as Divinity": and I earnestly hope that the letter which the principal of the College addressed to the Lord Bishop upon the subject a few years ago, has had the desired effect, and that to quote his own words--"The Codrington Clergy, may be men of a distinctive character, bearing the features of the founder's wisdom upon them, and trained admirably to seek the spiritual welfare of the people, and to be tender of their bodily ailments."
There is also at Edinburgh, a "medical Missionary Society," which seems to have been established according to the wording of [7/8] a recent circular "to rouse the members of the medical profession in Great Britain, to consider their own duties and responsibilities in connexion with the great object of Christian Missions to the heathen: and in fact to raise up a new order of missionaries, who shall combine as of old in their own persons, the power of teaching religious truth, and of curing bodily ailments."* [* Brit, and For. Med. Chir. Rev--July, 1848]
You are doubtless aware that the success of Dr. Asahel Grant in his long journey to find out the Nestorian Christians, was mainly attributable to his medical knowledge, and so much so that he declares "the most ready way of obtaining access to the heart, is by relieving the sufferings of the body": whilst abundant is the testimony to the same effect to be found in the reports of those zealous men, who are now preaching the truth as "living witnesses" of it, in many a distant land.
How often too has the traveller been indebted to his medical skill, for the favour be has met with, and for his own exemption from serious illness!--let me recall to your minds how remarkably this was the case with the illustrious Bruce. He arrived in the Abyssynian Capital at a time when it was the focus of one of the most cruel wars, with which even that unhappy country had ever been visited: and yet his scientific attainments, and more particularly his practical acquaintance with medicine, enabled him to pursue his objects even under these unfavourable circumstances. The royal family were stricken with the small pox, which disease was making more havoc among the people also than the desolating war to which they were at the same time exposed. The Queen, with her mother and several of the royal children, all under Providence, owed their recovery from this fatal malady to the skill and boldness of our illustrious traveller--the king conceived a great partiality for him, and he was thereby enabled to obtain all that was necessary for the accomplishment of the great objects of his journey. The enterprizing and ill-fated Mungo Park would have sank under the difficulties of his first expedition, if it had not been for his knowledge of medicine, which as you probably know he [8/9] had before studied and practised as his regular profession: whilst the talented though eccentric Mr. Waterton seems to have escaped death many times during his solitary wanderings in the Indian forests, from similiar qualifications.
In many of the cases to which I have alluded you will not fail to see, that how much soever a knowledge of medicine was able to effect for those who possessed it, there was still something wanting to render them fully efficient for the work you will have in view: and that something you will be in possession of, as ordained priests in Christ's Church. Yes, gentlemen, it is this combination of the sacred office, with the temporal acquirements which I delight to consider of in you--for it is to the joint efforts of these that we as churchmen are to look, under Providence, for your success. How truly it has been said, by one who was then explaining "the past and prospective extension of the gospel, by missions to the heathen," that "we cannot expect God's blessing in so great a work, to rest upon desultory and unauthorised methods, to which the promise neither of success nor perpetuity is engaged." Again, "The Church, as the visible institution of Christ, is the divinely ordained instrument for the conversion of the world;" and again--"it belongs to commissioned teachers to preach the word of life to the heathen, and the authority to send is derived from the Lord himself, to those who bear apostolic rule in his church."* [* Grant's Bampton Lectures.]
Therefore it is, that all who have watched the progress of this College with earnest thankfulness to HIM, who put it into the heart of its founder to see and to exercise the highest privilege of wealth, do rest their hopes upon you, who will go forth from it approved, as well as armed for the struggle; and therefore it is that as our first great missionaries, who must ever be to you as examplars, were so signally aided in their work, by having combined with a learned education, a knowledge of the physical sciences, the same may be anticipated for you. Your path is to be the same as theirs, your goal the same: like them, you will [9/10] have to seek out and to sojourn among men, whose minds have never been illumined with the slightest ray of spiritual light, and to whom the arts and obligations of civilised life, are equally unknown. Far removed from the sympathy and support of your fellows, opposed to ignorance, superstition, and intolerance, you will have to stand alone in the strength of your high calling, among the barbarians of modern times, as they did, who first preached the truth in days of yore--and like them, you must become the instructors of the young, the comforters of the old, the friends and counsellors of all.
With such a task before you, should we not deserve that you should fail in it, if we omitted to supply you with every means in our power, which can make its accomplishment easier and more sure?
Now among these means, the power of removing or alleviating bodily suffering may well be looked upon as one of the greatest. All persons (the ignorant of course, in a higher degree than the educated, though still only in a degree) are more or less captivated by a successful exhibition of the powers of the healing art, and hence comes its first hold upon them as a matter of feeling. We know too, how much more impressionable is the human heart to the softer emotions, when the hand of sickness has laid low the powers of life, than when in a state of health, pain and danger seem far removed from us; and hence it will happen that the moments when your medical acquirements will be most acceptable, will be also they which are the most favorable to the exercise of your priestly functions. And what a noble responsibility is there in such a position, with religion for your guide, and charity for your object! The ancient appreciation of the art, when men looked upon it as a heavenly gift, only to be dispensed at the hands of a favoured few, may be again realised by you: the power of practising it thus will bring you at once into the closest intimacy and confidence with those whom you wish to instruct: it will afford opportunities for private intercourse, which might hardly be obtained by any other means--it will excite admiration, [10/11] gratitude, and hope, on the part of those who are solaced by it; whilst all distrust as to the motives of those who are so plainly bringing good instead of evil, will be for ever removed: and so the kindliest feelings of the heart, being aroused in the breasts of those who are brought to acknowledge this good, they will be in some degree prepared, and may it not even be said, on this account fitted, to receive the first elements of that sublime instruction, which is to raise them out of heathen darkness, to the light of Christianity.
But a knowledge of the art of medicine will be also as directly serviceable to yourselves as to the cause in which you will be engaged. I do not mean because that by it you will be able to apply to your own necessities that skill which you direct to the relief of others, (although in your peculiar position, this of itself will be no mean advantage since without health, or the power of renewing it when impaired, what can the most exalted zeal effect?) but I mean that it will be directly profitable to yourselves in a far higher way: for when exercised in a proper spirit, the practice of medicine, "conversant as it is with objects that tend to elevate the thoughts, to chastise the feelings and to touch the heart," constitutes perhaps, the best discipline, which either the heart or the mind of man can be subjected to. Bear with me, whilst I endeavour to show how this may be.
No avocation in life is so full of anxieties as the practice of' medicine: this arises from the fact, that it concerns nothing less than the lives of our fellow creatures! a consideration which though it add to the dignity and importance of the pursuit, by reason of its high responsibilities, fills the mind with cares from the very greatness of them. These cares however are not without their attendant advantages, since they constitute a very important element in the formation of the medical character, giving to it that peculiar strength, which depends upon habitual calmness and meditation. To feel the full force of the responsibility which attaches to him, and yet, from a firm reliance in the truth of great principles, to be able to act under it with cheerfulness [11/12] and steadiness of purpose: to be keenly alive to the sufferings of others without being himself subdued by the exhibition of them: to have a rational confidence in the resources of his art, whilst at the same time he is mindful that he can never employ them to any result but as the instrument of a higher power; seem to be the great moral qualifications of the medical practitioner. The possession of such qualifications may, indeed well be coveted by all who have to steer their course along the rugged paths of life in whatever sphere of action it may be their lot to move: but if, as regards the practitioner of medicine such qualifications are not merely desirable but are even actually essential to his own peace, and to the safety of those who confide in him, so does it happily seem to be ordered, that they should come to him without any special effort of his own, apparently as the natural result of the due performance of the peculiar duties of his calling: or as though the practice of medicine when exercised in its primitive purity, as a "labour of love," was capable of imparting to those who faithfully follow it, the very qualities which they most need. In a word--what it requires its disciples to be, that it makes them: the lessons it teaches being essentially they which are best adapted for their requirements, and the feelings it excites being exactly they which are most profitable for them to cherish. Thus, the pain and suffering of which as attendants upon the sick they must be continually the witnesses, as well as of the ineffable anxieties of those who pale with fear and watching await their doubtful recovery, must excite their tenderest feelings, and keep alive in their hearts that sympathy for the woes of others which is the most enduring bond of social life. The fortitude and resignation which they will be so often called upon to admire, they will be necessarily induced to emulate: or on the other hand, should poor human nature exhibit any of its infirmities in the trying hour of suffering, they may be taught to measure what is their own amount of patience or forbearance and be induced to ask themselves how far their own powers of endurance would be likely to serve them better under a similiar trial. [12/13] Such an occupation must also be continually suggestive of serious thoughts: the uncertainty of human life made apparent to them daily by seeing how suddenly, or from what apparently trifling causes it may be brought to an end, must lead them to remember upon what a feeble tenure they hold their own, and so to urge them to make a profitable use of the time which remains to them.
It is from a sincere belief in the value of the lessons derivable from scenes like these, and that by their chastening influence on your hearts, you may be made better and happier, that I have ventured to declare them as among the practical advantages of a medical education. In doing so, I speak with an earnest conviction of the truth of what I say. I am of course aware that men have imputed far different sentiments, to those who actively engage in the study and practice of medicine; and as men's minds are variously constituted, and therefore receive very different impressions from the contemplation even of the self-same objects, some examples of the particular opinions alluded to, may doubtless be found among them; yet be you well assured that these are only exceptions to the rule, and have no true relation to it as cause and effect. The "Sacred Art" has nothing in common with the vulgar or irreligious inquirer, who if he do approach the threshold rarely if ever passes it: whilst its real votaries, students who in the words of a highly gifted teacher in our Church* [* Archdeacon Manning.] desire to receive "not only the discipline and instruction of science, but also the higher and nobler discipline of Divine Truth," pass through its portals with ease, and show by their after course, that they only who have studied their art upon this foundation are enabled to practice it well.
Abundant evidence of this is to be found both in the histories of those who have long disappeared from the scene of their honourable exertions, as in the lives of those who now so worthily fill their places upon it: a long list of time-honoured names recalling the memory of men as eminent for their virtues as their talents might readily be given you; men, whose words of wisdom are jealously [13/14] preserved among us, and whose maxims of moral rectitude, as well as of professional skill, have been deservedly added to that great store house of medical ethics upon which all future generations may draw for their own guidance and support. Let me quote to you as an example, the language of one only among them. "Remember"--writes the venerable Hufeland, when addressing the members of his profession individually, "Remember what thou art, and what thou shalt be. Thou hast been appointed by God a priest of the holy flame of life, a curator and dispenser of his highest gifts, health and life, and of the hidden powers which he has laid up in nature for the welfare of man: a high and holy vocation! exercise it aright, not for thy own profit, nor for thy own praise, but for the glory of God, and for the benefit of thy neighbour. Hereafter thou must render an account of thy mission."
Vain indeed would be any attempt of mine to add force to such words as these. Such an exhortation must of itself suffice to shew the spirit with which those whose office it has been to instruct others in the art they have themselves adorned, have addressed themselves to the task--and in such a spirit at least--though neccessarily at a very humble distance, as regards the power--will my own instructions here be offered to you.
Having thus demonstrated why I believe a knowledge of medicine, together with the ability to apply it as a practical art, will be alike beneficial to yourselves, as to the cause in which you will be engaged, I will now proceed to explain to you upon what system, and with what agents I propose to convey that knowledge to you; and here it will be necessary again to remind you, that as you are not expected to arrive at excellence in this art, so the instructions you are to receive in it will neither be so extensive nor of so methodical a character, as if you were being trained strictly for the practice of it. It will be impossible with the means at our disposal, to make you acquainted with all that is to be known about the practice of medicine, so that we shall be obliged to select certain portions of it only for your consideration, and to treat even of them in such a manner, as to render [14/15] a previous knowledge of certain collateral things, not altogether essential to their right understanding. Under such circumstances, it may not prove easy for us to do what seems to be required, without attempting more than we may be able to accomplish: I confess this to be a difficulty--so rnuch so, that I should have been quite incompetent to deal with it at all, had I chanced to have overlooked it; but still it is very far from being an insuperable one, and after mature reflection upon the subject, I have at least convinced myself, that very much of what will prove useful to yourselves and others, may be readily acquired by the plan I propose to adopt, not only without laying ourselves open to the reproach of aiming at matters beyond our reach, but even without offending the prejudices of those who quote for our edification, the startling proverb, about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing; whilst at any rate we shall possess the comfortable assurance, that an accomplishment, the more (however small) can never justly be esteemed an honour the less.
The most convenient way of conveying instruction to several persons at once, is that which is commonly adopted, viz., by an oral explanation of the subject, or in other words, through the medium of lectures, delivered by word of mouth: and this is the mode I propose to myself, for performing a principal portion of my duties here. These lectures will be delivered to you at stated times, and by choosing an early hour in the morning for them, I hope to be sufficiently free from my ordinary professional avocations, as to meet you with perfect regularity.
One of the most sagacious physicians and accomplished teachers of the present day (one also to whose friendship and counsels I am indebted for most of the advantages of my own position) was wont to say to his pupils, when first addressing them, " I cannot teach you the practice of medicine, I can only teach you its principles;"* [* Watson's Lectures on the Practice of Physic.] and so it must be with me. At these lectures I shall endeavour to impress on your minds the leading principles of the art of medicine,--they which are to guide you to its [15/16] successful practice, by serving you as general rules, from being more or less universally applicable, both to the detection and treatment of diseases.
I shall also explain to you at these lectures, the nature of "symptoms," how, and where we look for them, together with the value of the information they afford, under similar or different conditions: this in fact will, in one way or another, constitute a large share of my verbal teaching. The natural history (so to speak) of diseases will form another subject, that may be advantageously brought before you in this manner; for its consideration will comprise an inquiry into the origin and causes of diseases, as well as their geographical distribution, and the peculiar influence which difference of climate, &c., exerts upon their more general or prevailing characteristics. In this department, epidemic diseases of whatever kind, will of course be considered, especially those which pass under the general name of "Fevers;" a very important class of maladies for you to be early acquainted with, if it were only because the great fundamental principles of medical knowledge, and of medical practice, are more surely elicited by their investigation than by any other. As your knowledge advances, I may also from time to time describe to you specially, the characteristics and mode of management of some of those diseases of particular organs, which you are most likely to have to deal with; as the more ordinary inflammatory affections of the viscera, whether of the lungs, the liver, the intestines, &c. whilst your attention will be specially directed to the signs, symptoms, and treatment of those diseases, which being for the most part peculiar to foreign climes, you are not likely to see much of here; but against whose inroads, if you are to contend with any chance of success, you must still be specially armed beforehand.
Concurrently with the exposition of such matters as these, I propose to introduce into my lectures as much information with respect to Pharmacy, or the nature and properties of drugs, as may make you acquainted with their distinctive virtues, as well [16/17] as with the quantities, and most convenient form of administering them as remedial agents: whilst at the same time an opportunity will be afforded for initiating you into the art of prescribing, upon scientific principles, and prevent you from committing any signal offences against the rules of Chemistry, some of the leading principles of which I hope also from time to time, to shew you by actual experiments.
Now in the course of such demonstrations as these, it is evident that I shall often have to speak of objects and things connected with them, and of which for the most part you will have no correct idea. Thus when I speak of the pulse with its variations and indications--or of an artery as distinguished from a vein--or the force of the heart's action--or of the circulation of the blood--or the membranes of the brain--or of the air-cells of the lungs--or of the nervous centres--or the action of the muscles--or the shape of certain of the bones--or the functions of the various organs--or of the different material tissues of which the body is made up, be they cellular--or vascular--or osseous, I shall speak to you of things of which you have no previous knowledge, and which must therefore be explained to you somehow. Now these things we who are regularly trained, learn by the study of anatomy, human and comparative, and they are only to be thoroughly learned by that means
I have no doubt however that I can make even these matters sufficiently intelligible to you for all present purposes, by the aid of diagrams and casts, together with certain other modes of explanation which circumstances will allow us to avail ourselves of as we proceed: and I shall therefore include in my medical lectures such description of the structure and situation of the parts concerned in our inquiry, as may lead you to a very serviceable acquaintance with them: and in fact, as regards the bones, which in the aggregate form what is called the skeleton, I see no reason why you should not come to know them as well as I do myself.
The plan of medical teaching however which I have marked out for you in my own mind, is not limited to the delivery of [17/18] lectures, or a mere verbal description of the things to be learned, for there must be something more than this, if I am to look forward, with confidence, as I now do, to your becoming useful practitioners of medicine; and this something consists in the advantages to be derived from your future association with our neighbouring Hospital, in the character of pupils there.
A close and continual observation of the phenomena of disease, as they are presented to view in the wards of a large hospital, constitutes the means, upon which we ourselves mainly depend for the gradual acquirement of that practical knowledge which is to serve us best in the hour of need. The practice of our art is the chief end for which we study it, the object of all medical teaching being to direct the application of remedies for the relief of disease; and long experience has shown that the actual investigation of disease at the bedside of the sick can alone make a physician, how much soever of learning or of general fitness he may obtain from other sources. In fact, it may be safely declared, that no mere book study, nor any amount of knowledge of the written experience of others, will serve us, in actual practice to a hundredth part of the extent, which a calm, unbiassed, methodical observation of facts for ourselves will do: whilst the mere habit of thus continually calling our perceptive faculties into active exertion, will be more likely than anything else to earn for us that silent penetrative sagacity, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the accomplished practitioner. How important a share therefore ought this method of inquiry to have in your medical teaching, who are more particularly to depend upon plain practical knowledge, than upon a profound acquaintance with the theory of your art.
To the hospital then I look with great confidence as the place where, having been previously told some of the principles of medicine, you may gather up for yourselves something of its practice.
In my visits to those patients who are there under my charge you will accompany me: I shall call your attention to the facts [18/19] and indications by which I am myself enabled to recognise the presence, and determine the nature of their respective maladies--the treatment adopted, whether for their cure or relief will be explained to you, whilst the results you will be able to see for yourselves. There also you may witness many of those injuries to which the human frame is liable from accidents, and learn the contrivances which surgical skill and ingenuity adopt for their reparation, whether it be in the setting of a broken limb, or in the dressing of wounds, in such a manner, as to give the curative powers of nature the most efficient aid to the healing them: or if you please, and as a wholesome lesson to your nerves which you will do well to receive as occasions offer, you may watch the dexterous hardihood of the surgeon's hand as he relieves the body of a suffering part, for the benefit and preservation of the whole.
Thus you will have a wide field of instruction open to you, in which you can hardly go far astray; and though much that others gather in it, must for various reasons escape your notice, you cannot fail to pick up much that is good: and indeed it would. be something gained, if you only learned there the aspects and humours of sick persons, or became habituated to their wants and their manner of expressing them; or learned, that whilst it was your duty to sympathise with their sufferings, it was no less your duty not to allow your feelings to prevent you from calmly and carefully ministering to their necessities.
To afford in this manner the menus of instruction in physic and surgery to those who will be called upon to practice them, has always been one of the principal objects of public hospitals. They deservedly commend themselves to the support of the community at large, on this account, as well as because they furnish a place of refuge for the poor when sickness has rendered them unable to labour: we therefore, are only turning our hospital to one of its legitimate uses, in calling upon it to provide one of the means of instruction for you.
Such gentlemen are the engines with which I propose to work, [19/20] and such is the task before us. My own part in it will be performed cheerfully and earnestly; and if a warm interest in the reputation of this College, in the welfare of yourselves, and in the sacred cause for which you are to labour, may compensate in any degree for slender ability and want of experience in the difficult art of teaching, that at least I promise you will not be wanting.
For yourselves you need only to remember, that no knowledge which is worth having, is attainable without a proper amount of exertion: patient and attentive observation of the facts and inferences presented to your notice will be at least as rigidly required for your due apprehension of them in this, as in any other inquiry; but with this, and aided by your already matured education, and the anxiety which you must naturally feel to be well equipped for the duties of your calling, I can have no doubt that an abundant measure of success will reward your efforts.
If this be so, what a noble career is before you in your twofold capacity of Divines and Physicians! It will be your enviable privilege to exercise the sacred art of medicine really as a "labour of love;" and though in the recognised practice of it the labourer is indeed, and indeed "worthy of his hire," yet he may well wish that he could do, as you will do, and give always of its best "without money and without price," to all who need it.
No disturbing influences whether of rivalry or ambition will distract you from the even tenor of your way! you will have no conflicting interests to reconcile, no prejudices to consult, no assumption of knowledge to contend with, no concessions at the shrine of expediency to make: but in the strength of motives, which no one can impugn, and with nothing of worldly considerations to unsettle or perplex your judgments, you may bring the whole powers of your mind to the work before you.
Neither will you have to contend against the erring or perverse judgment of men, which as frequently awards praise where it is not due, as blame where it is not deserved: for inasmuch as the reward you look for is not to be found amid the changing scenes [20/21] of life, where caprice or accident may deprive you of it at any moment--so will the actions which are to earn it be nor weighed, nor valued by the weak and fallible tribunal of popular opinion but before one whose attribute it is to "judge righteously:"
Under such favourable conditions you will daily feel that you are practising a glorious art, with signal advantages; the joyful conviction will come home to you more and more as you proceed with all humility, that you are using it, really as the handmaid of religion for the purest and holiest objects: and that with "Faith--Hope--Charity--these three," for your guides, you are doing your master's bidding, after his own manner.
May we not humbly trust, that labours such as these, pursued in such a spirit, will carry with them a blessing, which will not only amply compensate you for any deficiency in worldly skill, but will even raise you unspeakably above its utmost achievements?
If this be so, what greater reward was ever vouchsafed to human exertions? But that this may indeed be yours, you are ever to "Remember what thou art and what thou shalt be," and that the knowledge with which you have been entrusted is to be used--"not for thy own profit, nor for thy own praise, but for the Glory of God and the benefit of thy neighbour."
HENRY WARD, PRINTER, CANTERBURY.