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human intellect. History discovers to us but few reformers, and among
those few are the names of Bacon and Newton. We are well aware that reform, applied to all existing institutions, whether political, literary, religious, or philosophical, is the mania of the day; but we think that the maxim cannot be too often quoted, “ to innovate is not to reform."
In advocating the common law, however, let us not be understood as asserting that it is free from faults, and stands in no need of pruning. The common law has its blemishes, (and what system merely human has not?) but in innovating upon long established doctrines we ought to adopt the advice of Lord Bacon, who says, that “ it were good that men in their innova“tions would follow the example of time itself, which indeed “ innovateth greatly but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be “perceived ; and not pursue that radical system, which, for the sake of a few dilapidated parts, would destroy the whole fabric. “ Experiments in states," says the great reformer of philosophy, “are always dangerous, and ought not to be “ tried except the necessity be urgent, or the utility evident; “and we ought well to beware that it be the reformation that “ draweth on the change, and not the desire of change that “pretendeth the reformation."
The principle of codification is far from being new. However beautiful a “code of written reason” may be in theory, we are afraid that, when reduced to practice, it would be liable, in a few years, to as many commentaries and glosses as the common law is at present; and we are confirmed in this opinion, when we reflect on the variety of interpretations and commentaries which the most precisely worded and cautiously constructed statutes in our statute-book have received. Even the Napoleon code, to which reformers are so fond of alluding, although it has been in operation but a few years, has already given birth to fifty volumes of Reports.
Our limits will not permit us to enter into any farther disquisition on this important topic, and we are afraid that we have already trespassed too far upon the patience of our readers. It is not our intention to devote the
pages zine to subjects of an exclusively professional character ; but the common law is a matter of general concern; and we could not omit this opportunity of stating, that we are not prepared to give up a system under which we have flourished for more than half a century, and have enjoyed as much of happiness and prosperity as ever fell to the lot of any nation, for Quixotic notions of possible improvement, or visionary schemes of ideal perfection.
of this maga
It is not now as it has been of yore;
O quick for me the goblet fill,
Lo! as I gaze, the picture flies
O! for an hour, let me forget
Ye pastoral scenes by fancy wrought !
Ye speaking sounds, that poet's ear
Return! return! oblivion bring
Oh come ! by every classic spell,
MIDSUMMER-DAY'S DREAM OF A MEDICAL STUDENT.
I had been six months a disciple of the celebrated Doctor Langlancet, during which time I had attended a full course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I had dozed through the prozing, interminable harangues of Dr.- ; had beheld with delight the graceful flourishes and scientific sang froid, with which the Professor of Chirurgery is wont to take off the afflicted members of suffering individuals ; and had breathed the perfumes of the east, in the laboratory of the Professor of Chemistry. I had walked the hospital, and visited the different infirmaries for the eyes, the ears, the lungs, and the skin; where patients have their five wits blessed, (as poor Tom says,) for the sake of sweet charity. I had even, once or twice, in my ardour for acquiring knowledge, and seeing practice, (as it is called,) been induced to venture into the building next the soup house, where the sick poor of a population of one hundred and thirty thousand are crowded, sweated, vaccinated, bled, blistered, physicked, suffer the various operations of surgery, and are, I was going to say, cured, in an apartment rather less than 15 by 20 feet square. In addition to these delectations, I had seen a young physiologist, in his zeal for the improvement of science, tie the thoracic duct of a dog, who died shortly after the operation; and had helped a member of the Lyceum, skilled in comparative anatomy, pick the bones of a dried Kangaroo, which gained him much credit from the learned body to whom he presented it.
Hitherto I had only been the recipient of knowledge, and had never, as yet, had an opportunity of imparting my information, or practising my skill upon others. I had imbibed the waters of science at every pore, till I had be
Like a sponge,
come full even to saturation, and I now longed to swell the mighty deluge of uncertainty and contradiction, with my theories, my opinions, and my facts.
My worthy preceptor, Doctor Langlancet, was a great bleeder. From the full blooded apoplectic, to the feeble, exanguined victim of phthisis, all who fell into his hands were as sure of having their veins emptied as their pockets. Gout, fever, rheumatism, and dropsy; carditis, hepatitis, and diaphragmitis ; plethora, and tabes mesenterica, and whatever other deadly foe of poor humanity may swell the ranks of the most copious system of nosology, were manfully attacked by him, fleam in in hand, and like a giant-quelling knight of old, he literally waded through seas of blood to the eminence he had attained.
As a matter of course, Langlancet had many rivals, and consequently many enemies. The most prominent and deadly of these was Doctor Polypus, who manifested as great an aversion to phlebotomy as my master did a fondness for it.
But if the patients of Polypus escaped the lancet, it was at the expense of their bowels. With such loads of drugs were they drenched, with such doses, mixtures, and combinations of the various articles of the materia medica were they assailed, that the stomach of the stoutest horse would have manifested symptoms of repugnance; and the gentle Doctor Kitchener, with his peristaltic persuaders, would have stood aghast at beholding them.
Langlancet and Polypus had also espoused different sides, on the important, and much agitated question, touching the origin, and contagious nature of yellow fever. Langlancet was a firm believer, or at least, supporter, of the theory of importation. Polypus, as great a stickler for domestic origin. Langlancet used to bring forward, in euphonious order, the names of Lind, Moseley, Currie, Hunter, Haygarth, Hosack, Francis, Sir Gilbert Blane, James Hardie, and every other pestilent author, from Thucydides down to Doctor Townsend ; Polypus, would oppose to them Rush, Miller, Mitchell, the Editors of the Medical Repository, and a long list of lesser worthies, who if not a host in themselves, individually, were unquestionably so, when taken en masse. Langlancet thundered forth the names of the mighty dead; Polypus thundered out those of the still more mighty living. Langlancet fortified himself with long stories about contaminated slave ships, concentrated effluvia, infected holds of vessels, pestiferous sugar boxes, and cotton bales. Polypus made no less noise about marsh miasmata, unsavoury docks and streets, death distilling cyst pools, Vol. 1. No. I.
and plague-producing church yards. To such a height did these discussions rise, that one day, in the heat of argument, at a meeting of medical brethren, (so called from their proverbial unanimity) Langlancet made a violent application upon the most prominent feature of his opponent's face, who, in return, lent him such a facer upon the organ of vision, as produced several curious optical effects upon the Doctor's retina. A scientific set-to would have been the result, had not the bystanders interfered, and prevented the fray. The nose of Polypus was reduced to its natural size, by an emollient application; and the optic of Langlancet recovered its native lustre, by the skilful application of a few leeches; but no plaster could be found to patch up their feud, which now became more settled and deadly.
But I find I am as far from my story, as a zealous disputant from the question in point, or a prosing parson from the thread of his discourse. I have said my worthy master, whose example I longed to emulate, was an inveterate phlebotomist. I had not yet had an opportunity of performing this operation ; but never did youthful knight burn more ardently to essay his untried arms, than did I to breathe a vein, and bathe my lancet in the issuing current. After the manner of noviciate barbers, who for lack of better customers, are wont to scrape
well-lathered bladders of wind, for the sake of practice, I had, indeed, opened the veins of several large cabbages; but this, as it was attended with no risk, and followed by no profit, was at best but a dry sort of bleeding ;—something like tapping an empty beer-barrel, or drawing the cork of an exhausted bottle of champaigne.
I was sitting, one sultry morning during the dog-days, in my preceptor's office, studying the celebrated chapter of Benjamin Bell on phlebotomy, in which he sets forth, with professional technicality, the comparative merits of cross-cuts, oblique punctures, and longitudinal incisions ; and gives frightful details of thrombusses, punctured arteries, and aneurisms. I had become quite nervous, by reading these accounts, when I was on a sudden startled by an uncouth, swarthy head of a man popping in at the window, who exclaimed in an agitated, grating voice, “ Where is the Doctor? Is Doctor Langlancet in ? Recovering from the surprise into which this spectral appearance had thrown me, I recognized the features of a half cracked, simple fellow, who dwelt in the neighbourhood, known by the name of Harry Slender, who, having no particular occupation, of his own, spent his time in attending to those of his neighbours. • What do you want, Harry ?" exclaimed I, a little vexed at