Reasons: why the apothecary may be suppos'd to understand the administration of medicines in the cure of diseases, as well as the physician. In a letter from an apothecary to a physician


REASONS: WHY THE APOTHECARY May be ſuppos'd to Underſtand the Adminiſtration of Medicines In the CURE of DISEASES, As well as the PHYSICIAN.

In a Letter from an APOTHECARY to a PHYSICIAN.

Et herbarum ſubjecta eſt Potentia nobis.

Ovid. Metam. Lib. 1.

LONDON: Printed for Luke Stokoe, at the Golden-Key and Bible at Charing-Croſs, 1704.

1. Reaſons, why the Apothecary may be ſuppoſed to underſtand the Adminiſtration of Medicines in the Cure of Diſeaſes, as well as the Phyſician.

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YOU have at length found the moſt effectual means to prevail with me, to break thro' the reſolution I had taken, of having no ſhare in the preſent Controverſie between the Phyſicians and the Apothecarys, by imputing my Silence to the badneſs of my Cauſe: In the Vindication of which, you are pleas'd [Page 4] to ſay, no Sober or Ingenious Perſon will offer to draw his Pen.

I muſt confeſs, I have hitherto been of the Opinion of the Major part of our Profeſſion; that what has yet appear'd in publick againſt us, has not deſerv'd a ſerious Anſwer, moſt of it being taken up on Prejudice, the reſt a Scandalous Aſperſion, invented by a peeviſh Set of Men, who were angry that any body thriv'd beſide themſelves.

Thus then have you unwillingly forced me into a ſpacious Field, where on each ſide I may extend and dilate my ſelf; and which way ſoever I turn, may find at leaſt quantum ſufficit of Matter to Work upon.

But ſince you keep a more than ordinary pother with the high Advantages which the Phyſicians have [Page 5] over us, I ſhall chuſe to examine the truth of that Aſſertion, and endeavour to ſet thoſe High Advantages, (as you call 'em) in a true light; and then leave the Impartial World to Judge, whether all be Goſpel which proceeds from the Pen of a Diſpenſary Phyſician.

And firſt it is pretended, That the Phſician, by his liberal Education, (that is, by being bred at an Academy) has greater and more frequent opportunities of being inſtructed in the Practice of Phyſick, than the Apothecary can have; and that not only from his own private Reading and Obſervation, the Care and Direction of his Tutor, but alſo from the publick Lectures of the Phyſick Profeſſor.

Now if it be expected that this Argument ſhould have any force againſt us, it muſt firſt be prov'd [Page 6] what extraordinary Benefits thoſe are which Young Students receive from Tutors and Phyſick Profeſſors; and not think that we ſhall barely aſſent to them, or believe them to be ſuch mighty things upon their ſingle Affirmation. I fear when theſe wonderful Lectures come to be examin'd, they will appear little better than Barren Animadverſions on Galen, Hippocrates, or ſome other of the old Phyſical Authours; which every Man is capable of doing, who is able to read and underſtand them. And I believe we may venture to add, that the Auditors of theſe Lectures generally return with the ſame degree of Knowledge and Satisfaction, as a late Aſſembly did from a Lecture at Exeter-Exchange, againſt the Circulation of the Blood.

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It is again Objected againſt us, That the Opportunities of being Advanc'd in the Knowledge of Anatomy and Chymiſtry, ſo eſſential to the Qualification of a Perſon who is to Adminiſter Phyſick, are greater in the Academy than in any other place; and from whence the Apothecary is totally excluded.

It muſt be allow'd, that the underſtanding the wonderful Contrivance and Texture of ſo admirable a Machine, as is that of the Humane Body, is no ordinary part of Science, and what undoubtedly the Perſon who Adminiſters Phyſick ought to be acquainted withal. From which notwithſtanding, I cannot ſee how the Apothecary is totally excluded, ſince there are conſtant Anatomical Diſſections at the Surgeon's Hall, which is open to Apothecarys as well as [Page 8] Phyſicians; and where I preſume there is more to be ſeen in one Year, than the Young Phyſician meets withal in ſix at his Academy.

The pretended Advantages they have over us in Chymiſtry, are of a-piece with thoſe before mention'd: For not to Inſtance our own private Elaboratorys, the publick Elaboratory at the Hall, where all Chymical Preparations are made in the higheſt Perfection, is a ſufficient Confutation of that groundleſs Aſſertion.

Theſe, Sir, Being the principal Reaſons on which You build your Hypotheſis, namely, the Advantages which the Phyſician has over the Apothecary, I ſhall not content my ſelf with this general Reflection on them, but ſhall proceed to examine them more cloſely, [Page 9] and particularly that of Studying at the Ʋniverſity, by which is meant a liberal Education, as if the Streams of Polite Literature and Knowledge were not alike diffus'd throughout the Globe, but were ſcantily confin'd to the Banks of Cham or Iſis.

We will ſuppoſe then, An Apothecary, who is Maſter of the Latin and Greek Tongues, (as there are few of them but are) to be as duly Qualified for the Reading, Comparing and Animadverting on Phyſical Authours, as the Academic Phyſician, which I think no ſober Intelligent Perſon will de [...]y, if he allows that the Greek and Latin Tongues as Taught at Weſtminſter, Pauls, &c. to be as fit for that purpoſe, as what the Young Phyſician generally carries with him to Oxford, &c.

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Neither will it be diſputed with me, I think, that Reading, Reffection, Obſervation and Experiment, are the only known means of acquiring Humane Learning and Science: To all which, the Apothecary thus Qualified, has as fair pretences as the moſt Elevated Phyſician of 'em all; and wherein the Apothecary may as reaſonably be thought to make as great a Proficience, provided he uſes the ſame Induſtry and Application.

It may be objected, That altho' the Apothecary be thus Qualified, yet whilſt he is an Apprentice he has little or no time for theſe Studys, if he had never ſo great an Inclination; that what with the Duty to his Maſter, and the common Neceſſities and Expence of Life, which ask ſome time to be repair'd in ſpight of us, there will [Page 11] be little or none left for any thing elſe.

To this I Anſwer, That altho' for the firſt Year or two there may be little elſe done, yet by that time he begins to have a true Taſt of the Matter, and his Reaſon ſhines forth with brighter Rays: If he be a Youth of any Spirit and Emulation, he will and do's find a thouſand opportunities of advancing his Knowledge, equal, if not ſuperiour to the Academic Phyſician.

The Apothecary then thus Qualified, may very reaſonably be thought to underſtand the Study of Phyſick, the Natures of Diſeaſes and their Cures, equally with the Phyſician, tho' he cannot boaſt the High Advantages of a liberal Education and Accademic Accompliſhments.

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Whilſt the Phyſician contends with us after this manner, we ſhall never recede from theſe Principles: But if he ſhall ſay, That the Advantages of an Academic Education are a better Foundation for him to Set up for a Wit, a Poet, or Entertaining Company; then indeed we ſubmit, frankly acknowledging that we induſtriouſly ſhun thoſe Arts, which rather tend to the Subverſion and Deſtruction of the Animal Life, than its Preſervation and Emolument.

If then the equal Learning of the Apothecary ſets him upon a level with the Phyſician, notwithſtanding his boaſted Advantages over him, it can never be imagin'd that the Compoſition and Adminiſtration of Medicines by which he diſcovers their Nature and Operations, will be any hindrance [Page 13] to him in the perſecution of thoſe Studies which naturally lead him to any inquiry into the Structure and Oeconomy of the Humanedy, and the manner how theſe Medicines he prepares Operate upon it.

This certainly without Vanity we may affirm, That we underſtand the Materia Medica as well, not to ſay better than moſt Diſpenſary Phyſicians.

The World is very ſenſible what Advantages they owe to theſe Modern Reformers of Phyſick; to whoſe wonderful penetration we have not yet heard that Phyſick has been Obliged for one Addition or Diſcovery: But that is not their buſineſs, 'tis ſufficient for them if they can libel the Town in their awkard Exclamations againſt the Apothecarys, by which they vainly imagin'd to have Ingroſs'd the [Page 14] whole Art of Compounding and Vending Medicines to the Publick. But alas! fond deluded Men, This knowing Age was not to be led Hoodwink'd to their Ruin. The Town ſaw through the thin Diſguiſe, and laugh at the ſenſeleſs Contrivance: They knew the Abilitys of thoſe Perſons who undertook the Project, and that moſt of 'em ſo far from being able to Compound Medicines as they ought to be, ſcarce knew the Diſtinction between Mint and Cardus. It may be thought perhaps, that here I have a little Tranſgreſs'd, and gone beyond the limits of Truth, for that ſo ſmall a degree of Knowledge is ſufficient for that purpoſe, that it is next to impoſſible that even a Diſpenſary Phyſician ſhould be without it. Whatever may be thought of it, I have [Page 15] undeniable Proofs of this Aſſertion to produce, when ever provok'd to it.

'Tis certain, That however Angry the Diſpenſary Phyſicians may be with us at preſent, they had once a better Opinion of our Abilitys and Underſtanding; I mean, when they Compos'd that moſt Elaborate Piece, the London Diſpenſatory; where 'tis evident they did not underſtand what they were about, by the unaccountable Jumble of Alteratives and Cathartics in the ſame Compoſition: Nay, nor even the making the Compoſition it ſelf; elſe, What is the meaning that we ſo often meet with Ʋt Artis Eſt, Secundum Artum, and the like? By which at leaſt they tacitely confeſs that we are the more knowing of the Two.

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Since ſo much has been ſaid of the Diſpenſary Phyſicians, it may not be unſeaſonable to ſpeak a Word of their Mighty Captain, and to deſire the Impartial Reader to Examine that Famous Book, which has made ſo much Noiſe in the World; wherein the Ignorance of its Writer is ſo very Conſpicuous, that we need hardly point at his Miſtakes.

His Catalogue of Drugs and Simples, (notwithſtanding the whole Conſpiracy labour'd for its Birth) is a handſom Specimen of his Knowledge in the Materia Medica; wherein there is ſcarce a Paragraph which has not ſome one or more rang'd in their improper Claſſes.

The Senſeleſs Remarks he has made on ſome of the beſt of Medicines, ſhow rather the Fertility [Page 17] of his Spleen, than his Underſtanding: The which nevertheleſs he fancies unanſwerable, by his having taken ſo much pains to bring Quotations from ſome Authours as Obſcure and Splenatick as himſelf for his Vouchers.

His Spleen and Ignorance will be the more remarkable, when we reflect on that Part of his Book, where with his wonted Aſſurance he tells his Readers, That when it ſhall pleaſe the Almighty Diſpenſer of all things, to afflict them with any Malady, that they need not be very ſollicitous concerning the means of their Cure, that they have nothing to fear but the Lethiferous Apothecary; That if it ſhould ſo happen that no Diſpenſary Phyſician be at hand, 'tis much ſafer to truſt to the uncertain Event of the Diſeaſe, and the [Page 18] Direction of Nature, or to any thing elſe, tho' it were but an Old Woman and Water-Gruel, than this Bugbear Apothecary. This is fine Jargon, and without doubt will be very grateful to a Perſon tortur'd with a Fit of the Stone, or indeed in any other violent Paroxyſm or Convulſion of Nature.

It is confeſs'd, that Nature is moſt wiſe in all her Productions; and that if we will cloſely attend to her, ſhe will never fail to Indicate to us the true way by which ſhe would be aſſiſted by us in her Labours. But this I take to be beyond the Power and Addreſs of an Old Woman, or even of our Diſpenſary Phyſician himſelf.

To ſay but one Word more of the Ingenuity of this mighty Authour; and that is, that all the Buſtle [Page 19] he has made in this Matter, aroſe from a private Quarrel between him and an Apothecary, who it ſeems was a Man of too much Honour, and of too tenacious a Temper for the Friendſhip of this worthy Phyſician. When theſe things I ſay ſhall be duly conſider'd, I make no queſtion but the World will have juſt ſuch an opinion of him and his Performance as they both deſerve.

Since then the Apothecary is not obliged to the Receipts of the Phyſician for his Knowledge in the Adminiſtration of Medicines in the Cure of Diſeaſes, as the Vulgar falſly imagine, but goes to the ſame Fountain and Drinks as large and as pure Draughts of Knowledge as himſelf: And ſince moſt of us are ready to confeſs, that their Receipts have been ſo far [Page 20] from being a Direction to us, that they have rather prov'd Ignes Fatui to miſlead us into thoſe Errours we have been guilty of, in relation to Practice.

Since the Preſent Learning and Labours of the Apothecaries are ſo abundantly evident in this Town, that it would be perfectly needleſs for me to mention them.

And ſince we do, and can give Reaſons equally with the Phyſician, of the different Operations of Medicines us'd in the Cure of Diſeaſes; Why are we thus Branded with the Opprobrious Names of Quacks, Mountebanks, Empiricks, and what not, by the Mouth of the Conſpiracy, that Mighty Champion for the Cauſe, The Renowned Dr. Pitt. O Doctiorum puicquid eſt Aſſurgite huic tam colendo Nomini.

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'Tis poſſible, It may be thought by what I have ſaid, that I intended to bring an Odium on the Manner of Education, as now Practic'd at the Univerſities, and on thoſe Learned Gentlemen who have been Educated there. I ſhall only beg leave to aſſure thoſe Honourable Foundations, for whom I have the Profoundeſt Veneration, That I Contend for nothing but the bare Priviledge which our School-Learning Intitles us to, namely, the Underſtanding Greek and Latin Authours, as well as the Phyſicians, tho' we have not had the Pleaſure of being brought up under their Benign Tuition.

And as for thoſe truly Learned and Worthy Phyſicians, who have not departed from their Integrity, We are ſo far from the thoughts of Interpoſing in their Practice, [Page 22] That We are, and always ſhall be ready, as it is our Duty, to Recommend and Introduce them, when ever it is in our Power.

Thus, Sir, Have I Anſwer'd Your Requeſt; and I hope have made it appear as much as the Brevity of this Letter will permit, that thoſe High Advantages you ſeem ſo fond of, are not ſo Unanſwerable as You imagin'd; and that in reality, They are no more than Vain, Empty, Airy Notions, the Genuine Production of the Imagination of a Diſpenſary Phyſician.

As this is barely a Specimen of what I have to bring againſt You, when Leiſure and Opportunity offer themſelves, I would deſire You, as a Friend, in the mean time, to provide your ſelf with a better Shield, to Ward off the [Page 23] Blows of Your Adverſary, than your Boaſted Advantages are like to prove: And withal, that You will Publiſh Your Next, that the World may judge fairly the Merits of the Cauſe, and give the Crown to the Conquerour.



PAge 13. l. 1. read Proſecution for Perſecution, l. 3. r. an for any, l. 5. r. Body for dy, l. ditto r. thoſe for theſe. Page 14. l. 7. r. laugh't for laugh. Page 15. l. 19. r. Artem for Artum.