From the details in the preceding chapter respecting hospitals, dispensaries, &c., it will be inferred that the practice of the surgical and medical arts is of amazingly great extent in the British metropolis ; and, what is still more economical and effective, those places are in reality the Colleges in which the students of medicine and surgery acquire their skill, or qualify themselves to practise in the great world. Early in the eighteenth century, schools of anatomy were opened in London. Pupils began to attend the practice of the hospitals, and thus scientifically to acquire a knowledge of their profession. The advantages of this, the only true method of obtaining the requisite information (as Mr. Norris truly declared in his Hunterian Oration of l817,) became apparent, and in the course of a few years, almost every hospital in London became a school, at which not only anatomy, but every other branch of medical and chirurgical science was taught. There also arose private theatres in various parts of the metropolis, unconnected with any hospital, where anatomical instruction was carried on by men of great worth and talents, by whose labours the general stock of knowledge was enlarged. And this effective system of imparting knowledge of the healing art has ever since continued in operation, with the greatest benefit to the student and with credit to the country.
The colleges, till the building of that in Lincoln's Inn Fields, had almost become merely nominal, although they were useful for examinations, the granting of the necessary diploma, &c.—the hospitals having become the great scenes of instruction, the sources of knowledge. At the head of the several hospitals are men of first-rate eminence. They visit the various patients, accompanied by pupils, &c. ; they prescribe, or ascertain the accuracy of what has been prescribed; they enlarge on the peculiarities of different afflictions; they learn the opinions of the student, correcting error and confirming truth; and besides this assistance, there are the regular series of LECTURES delivered by them to the pupils during the winter season. The lectures are mostly delivered in the theatres of the hospitals; and on these occasions, practice is combined with theory.
Pupils must "walk" the hospitals for a limited period, many of them attending as "dressers," &c.; and if at the end of one or two years, they are deemed qualified, certificates to that effect are delivered, which enable them afterwards to apply for diplomas. Some detail respecting the colleges however is necessary, and cannot fail to be gratifying.
Medicine and Surgery.
....College of Physicians
....Royal College of Surgeons
....Red Cross-street Library
....(Lectures: with names of Lecturers)
Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819