James Robert Wallace (?-1903)

My last blog post looked at the Indian Medical Record, a journal aimed at independent practitioners in British India. It was founded and edited by James Robert Wallace, a Calcutta-based doctor who campaigned vigorously for medical and social reform.

IMR cover

The IMR‘s cover proudly proclaims Wallace’s editorship.

Little is known of Wallace’s early life and training, though his post-nominal letters reveal that he gained an MD from Brussels and that he was a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Society of Apothecaries in London.

It was not until the 1890s – when he launched the Record – that his name began to feature regularly in the medical press. He became known not only for his editorship of the journal but for his involvement in a series of energetic and high-profile campaigns.

Wallace lobbied for a system of medical registration to be introduced in India. In the absence of an official register (as in Britain), he produced The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire from 1892. This ambitious compendium aimed to ‘clear the way for systematic regulation of medical practice in India’. By providing a list of regular or orthodox practitioners, it hoped to afford ‘the scattered members of the profession […] definite knowledge of one another’s existence’.[1] Reviewing the work, the BMJ wrote that it was ‘on the whole very creditable to [the author’s] enterprise and industry’.[2] Wallace brought his proposal for a system of registration to the attention of professional networks in England, including the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Physicians.[3] Though his efforts were usually well-received, medical registration was not introduced into India until 1912, almost a decade after his death.[4]

Wallace also agitated for an Indian Medical Association (IMA), which was established in 1895 along similar lines to the British Medical Association. At its first Annual General Meeting, the IMA stated that it was intended for ‘every section of our profession recognised as “qualified”’,[5] a term designed to compensate for the lack of an official Medical Register. Wallace later became the IMA’s Secretary and the Record became the Association’s mouthpiece.

In both medical and social affairs, Wallace campaigned for the rights of Anglo-Indians. This term typically referred to those of British descent born and raised or long-domiciled in India, and sometimes to those of mixed racial heritage. In 1897, Wallace visited England to agitate for greater rights for this community on behalf of the Anglo-Indian Associations. He spoke to MPs and members of Government at the India Office and War Office. In particular, he highlighted the way in which Anglo-Indians were excluded from imperial appointments and called for them to be treated as British. (Issues that were also covered in the Record.) After a six-month campaigning stint, Wallace’s return was celebrated with a gathering of the local European and Anglo-Indian community at the Bombay Town Hall.[6] The BMJ commended Wallace’s ‘laudable ambition’ and ‘attitude of energy and self-help’.[7] As explored in my previous post, however, while Wallace called for greater recognition for Anglo-Indians and Eurasians, his attitude towards ‘natives’ was vexed and deeply problematic.

Alongside his campaigns, Wallace also pursued his medical practice and recorded his clinical observations. These were often printed in the Record and also circulated via British medical journals.[8]

News of Wallace’s difficult personal life also appeared in the medical press. In 1893, the BMJ reported that his wife had given birth to a son,[9] while in 1896 and 1899, the Lancet noted the births of his daughters.[10] However, less than two months after this second announcement, tragedy had struck. The BMJ reported that Wallace’s ‘much-loved daughters’ – Ruth Elizabeth (aged 9) and Phoebe (aged 3) – had been killed by a landslip during ‘the disastrous cyclone and floods’ in Darjeeling, Bengal.[11] In all these instances, the news was reported in the journals’ ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’ columns, which charged a fee for inserting items. One wonders whether it was Wallace himself who sought to share both his personal joys and sorrows with his professional peers in Britain.

Births, Marriages and Deaths

The Lancet reports the deaths of Wallace’s daughters.

It is possible to reconstruct aspects of Wallace’s professional and personal life through a patchwork of sources across the medical press. He seems to have been a tireless and zealous campaigner, much like Thomas Wakeley, editor of the Lancet. Similarly, Wallace’s passionate and sometimes vituperative tone attracted criticism. In 1891, the Lancet printed a letter from Wallace on debates about how best to monitor a patient’s progress under anaesthesia (Wallace favoured checking respiration over the pulse). An editorial note inserted afterwards suggested that a certain portion of Wallace’s letter had been ‘omitted’ since it was ‘couched in language more vigorous than polite’.[12]

Wallace’s close involvement in medical journalism and professional societies, and his active campaigns for medical and social reform show his interest in building networks and promoting opportunities for his fellow Anglo-Indians. When Wallace died in 1903, a large group gathered under the auspices of the Imperial Anglo-Indian Association to celebrate his humble beginnings, his ‘untiring zeal and energy’, and his ‘constant and abiding interest in the welfare of the domiciled Anglo-Indian community’.[13]

[1] ‘Reviews and Notices of Books: Our Library Table’, Lancet, 19 March 1892, p. 64.

[2] ‘Reviews: The Medical Register and Directory of the Indian Empire’, BMJ, 18 February 1899, p. 415.

[3] ‘Royal College of Physicians of London’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, pp. 1212-13 (p. 1212).

[4] It was instituted first in Bengal before being extended to other Presidencies in 1914.

[5] ‘The First Annual General Meeting of the Indian Medical Association’, IMR, 16 January 1895, pp. 52-4 (p. 52).

[6] ‘Medical News: The Anglo-Indian Associations’, Lancet, 6 November 1897, p. 1226.

[7] ‘The Anglo-Indian’, BMJ, 5 March 1898, p. 645.

[8] See, for example, ‘Retention of an Almost Full-Term Placenta for Two Months’, Lancet, 4 July 1891, p. 30.

[9] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, BMJ, 28 October 1893, p. 978.

[10] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 1 August 1896, p. 357 and 23 September 1899, p. 868.

[11] ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’, Lancet, 21 October 1899, p. 1140.

[12] James R. Wallace, ‘Correspondence: The Use of Chloroform’, Lancet, 13 June 1891, p. 1139.

[13] ‘The Late Dr. James Robert Wallace, M.D., F.R.C.S.’, IMR, 4 November 1903, pp. 1144-6.

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The Entomologist (1840-42, 1864-1973)

The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine was not the only periodical launched in 1864 that catered exclusively to those who collected and studied insects. Unbeknownst to Henry Tibbats Stainton, Thomas Blackburn, and their fellow editors of the Monthly Magazine, others were plotting to fill the gap in the market left by the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61). In fact, it was someone very well known to them who would beat them to it, when Edward Newman (1801-1876) commenced the Entomologist in May, a whole month before his unwitting rivals. Newman, the head of a printing company that specialised in natural history publications, was proprietor and editor of the Zoologist (1843-1916). As a friend of Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-1893), Newman had also printed the Intelligencer, although their relationship had since become less close. According to Newman, many saw him as the man to remedy the lack of an entomological periodical, as he claimed that ‘between the demise of the Intelligencer and the birth of the short-lived Weekly Entomologist I had no less than ninety-seven pressing solicitations to commence an entomological periodical’.

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Title page of the Entomologist‘s second volume

The Entomologist of 1864 was not a new periodical, but a revival of the same journal Newman had originally published from 1840 to 1842. At the end of this first volume, he decided to merge the Entomologist with the Zoologist, a decision that was likely to have been at least partly informed by financial considerations, as unlike his friend Stainton, Newman had no independent wealth with which to fund his periodicals. A specialised magazine such as the Entomologist was not a commercially viable option in the 1840s, while the Zoologist appealed to a wider readership and thereby turned a profit. However, by the 1860s, and in the wake of the Intelligencer‘s success, it seems there was a much more considerable demand for an exclusively entomological periodical. The second volume of the Entomologist therefore commenced in 1864, over twenty years after the end of the first, with this hiatus possibly being the longest lapse of time between consecutively numbered volumes in periodical history.

In terms of contents, the Entomologist was a mix of the shorter notices and observations common to almost all natural history periodicals of the period. Following in the populist spirit of all Newman’s publications, it admitted a wide variety of contributors and was far less exclusive than the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine. A noteworthy contributor to the magazine during 1877 was Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901), who published a series of articles on the subject of injurious insects including the turnip weevil and the Colorado beetle. That same year, Ormerod issued the first of her Notes for Observations of Injurious Insects, a questionnaire through which she collated information regarding species that posed a threat to crops, and would go on to be appointed as consulting entomologist to the Royal Agricultural Society in 1882. As the name of the Colorado beetle suggests, it originated in the United States, where it had become a major pest to potatoes. In 1877, reports of its arrival in Europe – aided by unwitting human transportation – raised considerable alarm. As Ormerod noted, beetles had been found in Liverpool, presumably brought by the ships coming to dock there. She gave a brief account of their lifecycle and appearance, and warned ‘at present we have only to do with stragglers; it is of the greatest importance to spread knowledge of their appearance over the country as rapidly as possible, that none of these may escape’.

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Eleanor Ormerod’s article on the Colorado Beetle, given prime position at the start of the issue for September 1877

At Edward Newman’s death in 1876, the Entomologist remained under the ownership of his son, Thomas Prichard Newman. The editorship was given over to John Thomas Carrington (1846-1908), a naturalist and journalist who would later purchase the popular natural history periodical Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip. In 1890, the Entomologist was acquired by the wealthy lepidoperist John Henry Leech (1862-1900). Although Leech did not travel himself, he had amassed a vast number of butterflies from China, Japan, and Korea through the efforts of collectors working on his behalf. Leech intended to use the Entomologist as a medium through which to publish the research upon these specimens, and accordingly appointed the curator of his collection, Richard South (1846-1932), as editor of the periodical. Subsequently, under various different editors and owners, the Entomologist would be published continuously until 1973.

Newman grave

A small woodcut memorialising Edward Newman in the Entomologist following his death in 1876

 

 

 

Programme and Registration for Workshop: Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century

University of Leicester, 15th June 2018, Charles Wilson Building 408

09:30-18:30

Keynote: Dr Patricia Fara, University of Cambridge

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no such thing as a scientist. While professional careers in science were gradually formalised, many scientific practitioners aspired to none at all. Lacking blueprints to guide their behaviour, practitioners of all descriptions had to carve out their own identities to demonstrate expertise, prestige, taste, authority.

Scholars of nineteenth-century science and culture have revealed diverse scientific identities, including romantic geologists, chemical-wielding showmen, and poetic physicists, alongside artisan botanists, unpaid draughtswomen, and husband-and-wife collaborations. Recent scholarship complicates rigid distinctions between amateur and professional, populariser and primary researcher, and scientific writing and imaginative prose, producing increasingly nuanced studies of the ways in which scientific practitioners sought to shape their own identities.

Stephen Greenblatt’s now-classic study of ‘self-fashioning’ demonstrated how one might carve out for oneself ‘a distinctive personality, a characteristic address to the world, a consistent mode of perceiving and behaving’. The speakers at this one-day workshop will examine how complex changes in scientific culture can be considered through the lens of self-fashioning. Their papers cover an array of topics that include discussions of disciplinarity, life writing, authority, and the popularisation of science.

Please see the programme below. Those interested in attending should email sciself2018@gmail.com with any dietary or access requirements. The workshop is free and the deadline for registration is May 23rd.

Funding for this day has been provided by the generous support of the Constructing Scientific Communities project.

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Indian Medical Record (1890-1903; revived thereafter)

My last blog post profiled the Indian Medical Gazette, a long-running journal affiliated with the Indian Medical Service (IMS). This week I’m looking at one of its major rivals, the Indian Medical Record, which proudly proclaimed its independence from the imperial administration.

IMR cover

The cover of the first volume of the Record (1890).

Like the Gazette, the Record was produced in Calcutta and replicated the format of successful journals such as the Lancet and British Medical Journal. It contained a similar mix of editorials, clinical observations, news items, and correspondence. It began as a monthly, later moving to fortnightly and then weekly publication. While the Gazette had a direct succession of editors, the Record was initially the brainchild of its founder and editor, James R. Wallace, a medical practitioner whom I’ll explore in a future blog post.

Upon its launch, the Record acknowledged the challenges of the periodical marketplace in British India. Its opening editorial noted that many medical journals ‘have come into existence, have served a useful purpose, and become extinct’. It identified the Gazette as one title which had ‘braved the storm’, before claiming that it intended to fulfil a different role.[1]

Wallace suggested that there was an opening in the market for his new journal since, ‘[w]hether rightly or wrongly, [the Gazette] is viewed by the large and ever-increasing body of independent physicians as an officially subsidised organ, almost exclusively devoted to the sectarian interests of the official classes’. While crediting the Gazette as an ‘able expositor of medical truths’, Wallace argued that the ‘conception of its official character’ had ‘hedg[ed] and handicapp[ed] its popular acceptance and its extended influence for the good of the profession and the public’.[2] The Record suggested that the Gazette’s reputation as the organ of the IMS had curtailed its impact.

First page

The first issue of the Record announces its objectives.

Wallace questioned the Gazette’s ability to represent the whole profession and fashioned the Record as an alternative, one aimed at ‘independent’ or ‘private’ practitioners, ‘the general body of practising physicians’.[3] In British India, terms such as ‘non-official’ or ‘independent’ were used to distinguish those who were not employed by the IMS or Army Medical Corps. The Record called for greater recognition for these private practitioners. Like other commentators, it alleged that the IMS’s monopoly on civil appointments restricted opportunities for independent medical men. Wallace also agitated for the establishment of an Indian Medical Association, and after its inception in 1895, the Record came to be regarded as its official publication.

Over the 1890s, the Record’s attacks on the Gazette became increasingly incendiary and politicised. An article entitled ‘A Bid for Popularity’ (1893) claimed that the rival journal was in receipt of the ‘misapplied support of a subsidising Government’. Wallace called for ‘honest and manly competition’ in the periodical marketplace.[4] He suggested that he had made enquiries to the Government and Provincial Government to determine the level of support the Gazette received, but that he was met with evasions.[5] He presented his attempts to expose the subsidy as a professional and public duty. This hostility towards the Gazette stemmed partly from resentment towards the comparatively high status enjoyed by IMS practitioners and partly from fears about the supposedly stagnant condition of periodical culture in India.

Wallace suggested that the Government’s support for the Gazette resulted in ‘crooked policies’ which helped perpetuate ‘monopolies that crush out every effort at honest, independent enterprise’. He denied that state support was needed to sustain medical journalism in India. He insisted that, through his own ‘private proprietary’, he had ‘placed within the reach of the local profession, a cheap and thoroughly approved fortnightly medical journal, serving all and more than the purposes of [the Gazette]’.[6] Wallace championed a free market, suggesting that the profession should be able to support its own active, independent, and commercially viable medical press.

Despite these attacks on its rival, the Record generally called for greater cooperation between medical practitioners in India. It claimed that its aim was to ‘establish a feeling of brotherhood, such as has been never known to exist in India’.[7] Its cover page shows that the editorial team comprised a range of practitioners, including those with ‘official’ titles. Further, its list of contributors indicates that it attracted a mixed readership. It received contributions not only from independent practitioners, but also those in the IMS, the Civil Medical Service, the Army Medical Corps, and the Subordinate Medical Service (SMS), which was comprised of native medical men. The Record explicitly called for contributions from men and women, and those of Indian descent.[8]

The journal even established different subscription rates to attract a diverse readership. Initially, the annual subscription cost was halved for medical missionaries, assistant surgeons, and army apothecaries. In 1895, the fee for army medical officers, civil and non-official surgeons and physicians was 18 rupees, medical missionaries and assistant surgeons paid half this price, and hospital assistants just six rupees.[9] Nevertheless, the Record apparently struggled to attract subscribers from among the SMS. In 1900, it warned that the current subscription list could not cover the cost of publication. It accused Military Assistant Surgeons of distributing the journal among themselves rather than subscribing individually. The Record suggested that this was neither ‘fair’ nor ‘patriotic’, and it called on readers who had been ‘remiss in their duty’ to turn over ‘a new leaf’.[10] This tactic exploited native readers’ anxieties, suggesting that they had erred in their patriotic duty and neglected professional etiquette.

Like the Gazette, the Record demonstrated conflicting attitudes towards race and its native readership. It often deployed crude and unashamed imperialist rhetoric and stereotypes. In 1890, it remarked that ‘[t]he turbulent, suspicious, caste-ridden Hindu or Mahommedan is now the able and willing colleague […] of the western surgeon whose predecessors taught him the science and art of western medicine’.[11] The Record celebrated the contributions of native medical men while querying how far they should participate in colonial practice. An 1896 article argued that European patients should have access to European medical attendance. It described how British troops had long been ‘doctored entirely by men of their own race’ for ‘socio-political reasons’ and claimed that non-military personnel should be entitled to similar treatment: ‘European officials naturally expect medical attendance from members of their own race’.[12]

At the same time, the Record accused the imperial administration of racism. In an article on ‘The Anglo-Indian Problem’, Wallace indicted the inaccessibility of the upper echelons of colonial medicine as ‘the progeny of official prejudice’.[13] He suggested that Anglo-Indian and Eurasian men (i.e. those born to British parents who were domiciled in India or those who were mixed-race) were disadvantaged since many were unable to travel to London for the qualifying exams. A 1901 editorial claimed that ‘in no branch of the public service in India’ – for which ‘long and laborious study and practical training’ were required – were ‘the children of the soil […] worse treated than in the medical’. It alleged that the IMS contained ‘a good proportion of men who are distinctly below the average’.[14] Wallace implied that many medical men who practised independently did so because they did not have the means to join the IMS.

The Record provides a fascinating insight into colonial medical rivalries and the interaction between professional and ethnic identities in late nineteenth-century India. Yet it has received little attention from scholars, who typically concentrate on the Gazette. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Record is less widely available (with incomplete runs in the British Library, Wellcome Library and the Royal College of Surgeons). It was also comparatively short-lived, initially folding with the death of Wallace in 1903. The Wellcome’s bound volume for that year contains a note which announces that Wallace’s executors had found it ‘necessary’ to cease publication of the Record. Yet the journal was periodically revived thereafter. Indeed, editions appeared later that year – while earlier issues bore Wallace’s name, these later versions referred only to an anonymous ‘Editor’.

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A note in the Wellcome Library’s bound volume for 1903 announces the cessation of the Record.

In 1930 the BMJ celebrated the Record reaching its ‘Jubilee’ issue, which was published under the auspices of the then-editor, S.K. Mukherji. The BMJ acknowledged the journal’s ‘chequered history’ over the previous 50 years, while commending its past campaigns against epidemic disease.[15] Significantly, a journal which began primarily as a one-man project had been resurrected, thus giving a new generation of medical writers and readers a voice. This versatility was arguably key to its survival in a struggling periodical marketplace.

[1] ‘Ourselves’, IMR, 1 January 1890, pp. 1-2 (p.1).

[2] ‘Ourselves’, p. 1.

[3] ‘Ourselves’, p. 1.

[4] ‘A Bid for Popularity’, IMR, 16 October 1893, p. 261.

[5] ‘Government Support to Indian Medical Journals’, IMR, 1 November 1893, pp. 284-7 (p. 287).

[6] ‘Government Support to Indian Medical Journals’, p. 284.

[7] ‘Ourselves’, pp. 1-2.

[8] ‘Clinical Reports in India’, IMR, 16 October 1897, p. 292.

[9] ‘Business Notices’, IMR, 1 January 1895, p. li.

[10]  ‘Comments and News: The “Indian Medical Record” is Ten Years Old’, IMR, 3 January 1900, p. 18.

[11] ‘The Indian Medical Service’, IMR, 1 February 1890, pp. 11-12.

[12] ‘European Interests in the Medical Reform Question in India’, IMR, 16 January 1896, pp. 44-5.

[13] James R. Wallace, ‘Correspondence: The Anglo-Indian Problem’, IMR, 13 June 1900, pp. 585-6 (p. 585).

[14] ‘Comments and News: Indians and the IMS’, IMR, 12 June 1901, pp. 638-9.

[15] ‘India: Jubilee of the “Indian Medical Record”’, BMJ, 26 July 1930, pp. 158-9.

Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine (1864-)

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The teenage entomologist Thomas Blackburn (1844-1912) was not easily discouraged. His first effort to replace the discontinued Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer (1856-61) with his own periodical, the Weekly Entomologist (1862-63), ended in commercial failure. However, in 1864, before he had even turned twenty, he was formulating plans for a second attempt. Blackburn had since moved from his native Cheshire to London, taking up employment as a civil servant. His correspondence from this period is written upon official stationery, stamped with ‘Somerset House’, and it must be assumed that his superiors would not have approved of this entomological use of government property. Relocating to the capital also allowed Blackburn to make acquaintance with the Intelligencer‘s erstwhile editor, Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-92), along with other leading men of the Entomological Society of London. Among these entomologists was Henry Guard Knaggs (1832-1908), who encouraged the young Blackburn in his plans for a new periodical. The result of these discussions was a letter Blackburn wrote to Stainton in which he laid out a proposal for what would become the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine.

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Thomas Blackburn in much later life

Among Blackburn’s suggestions for the periodical, to which Stainton agreed, was a plan to share the considerable labour of producing such a publication. Rather than a single editor, the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine was managed by a committee. This group initially consisted of Blackburn, Stainton, and Knaggs, along with Robert McLachlan (1837-1904) and Edward Caldwell Rye (1832-85). Stainton and McLachlan were men of independent wealth, while Knaggs was a well-to-do general practitioner. Rye, meanwhile, was a relatively humble clerk with a genius for entomological illustration. They divided the work of editing amongst themselves according to their respective specialisms (with the exception of Blackburn): Stainton was responsible for microlepidoptera (small moths), Knaggs for macrolepidoptera (large moths and butterflies), Mclachlan was a world-renowned expert on Neuroptera (net-winged insects), and Rye worked on Coleoptera (beetles).  All these men were good friends, with committee meetings held at each of their homes in turn. Less formal discussions took place during gatherings of the Entomological Society and other scientific coteries, and they were incessant correspondents. 

From the outset, the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine (or the ‘E. M. M.’, as it became fondly known among entomologists) was intended as a very different publication to the Intelligencer. The most obvious dissimilarity is signified by the title, with the periodical being a monthly rather than a weekly. Blackburn argued that this would reduce the workload of the editors, but it necessarily had a significant impact upon the kind of information the magazine contained. Whilst the raison d’être of the Intelligencer had been to rapidly circulate short notices regarding the capture of insects and other time-sensitive news relating to the fieldwork of entomologists, the Monthly Magazine published longer pieces, mostly devoted to works of taxonomic classification. The opening article of the first issue was written by Henry Walter Bates, describing ‘new species of butterflies from Guatemala and Panama’. Although the magazine prided itself on its ‘amateur character’, the shift in content led to a far more selective readership, precluding many of the collectors and beginners who were welcomed by the Intelligencer. Correspondence between the editors reveals that this was a deliberate decision to distance the new magazine from Stainton’s previous publication, as they consciously chose to exclude shorter, gossipy notices of the kind printed in the Intelligencer in favour of more dense, scientific content.  As a result, the number of contributors was considerably more limited, and mostly those who were already members of the Entomological Society.  These were not professionals, but rather represented the metropolitan scientific elite from which Stainton and his co-editors were drawn.

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Title page of the E. M. M.‘s first volume

Despite Blackburn’s instigation of the periodical, the older, more eminent men of the editorial committee came to dominate it. Within a few years of commencing the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, he gave up his position to take holy orders and embarked on an ecclesiastical career that would lead him to emigrate, first to Hawaii and then to Australia. Stainton, on the other hand, would continue to edit the periodical until his death, and was still busy correcting proofs the day before he died in 1892. The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine continues to be published, and although it is only issued three times a year, it retains its title and sense of history. Much of its content is now the work of professional entomologists, but it continues to use the epigraph from the very first volume, a quote from the French entomologist Joseph Alexandre Laboulbène (1825-98): ‘I therefore exhort everybody to avoid anything personal in their writing or any allusions that exceed the boundaries of sincere and courteous debate’. It therefore seems that over 150 years later, entomologists still need occasionally to be reminded that any disagreements should be conducted in an amicable manner.

 

The Contagion Cabaret at the Science Museum, London

Last night The Contagion Cabaret brought its infectious entertainment to audiences at the Science Museum’s ‘Superbugs’ Late.

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The museum Lates are free, after-hours events, aimed at adult audiences, which take place on the last Wednesday of every month. Each event is themed and last night’s focused on how bacteria develop into superbugs, and the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The museum was filled with hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, and live performances. Visitors joined a barbershop quartet singing about microbial resistance and made their own comic strips about a dystopian, superbug-ridden future. Attendees played the ‘Ultimate Superbugs Race’, emulating bacteria to find out how they evolve to fight antibiotics. Meanwhile, a stall called ‘How Clean is Your Phone?’ offered the daunting prospect of testing the dirtiness of attendees’ personal belongings. Throughout the evening, visitors interacted with scientists, historians, healthcare practitioners, and museum staff, among others.

The Contagion Cabaret was performed three times, in the museum’s intimate Wonderlab Showspace. The Cabaret is the result of a  collaboration between researchers on  the ‘Constructing Scientific Communities’ and ‘Diseases of Modern Life’ projects, together with Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, at the University of Oxford, and the Chipping Norton Theatre, led by Director John Terry. The Cabaret features extracts from plays and music, past and present, which touch on the themes of infection, contamination and contagion.

Last night’s performance included a scene from Eugène Brieux’s play Damaged Goods (1913) which looked at venereal disease and marriage, while readings from twenty-first century newspapers showed how images of contagion have featured in discussions of immigration. The Cabaret combines serious, thought-provoking pieces with plenty of comedic material as well. There were crowd-pleasing performances of ‘The Herpes Tango’ from Fascinating Aida (1999) and ‘Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir’ from Sweeney Todd (1979).

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The Cabaret has already had several previous outings, at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and The Theatre Chipping Norton. Last night’s was a truncated performance, tailored to the informal atmosphere of the Late.

If you missed previous performances of The Contagion Cabaret, you can catch it* at the British Academy on 24th May. (*Pun intended.) This will be the full-length, two-hour version. To book your free ticket visit: https://www.britac.ac.uk/events/contagion-cabaret.

Indian Medical Gazette (1866-1955)

In 1941, the British Medical Journal celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Indian Medical Gazette. Launched in 1866, the Gazette was by this point the longest-running medical journal on the subcontinent. Reflecting on the state of periodical literature in British India, the BMJ remarked that, ‘[d]uring the past century dozens of medical journals have sprung up […] and had their brief day, usually petering out after a few years and now forgotten’.[1] The Gazette was an important exception, a journal which gained a firmer foothold, running until 1955.

Indian Medical Gazette

The first issue of the IMG in January 1866.

The Gazette was a medical monthly produced in Calcutta, the capital of British India until 1911. Its content and format resembled that of its British contemporaries. It included original communications and notes from hospital practice, as well as editorials, news items, and correspondence columns. However, it was also shaped by a specifically imperialist agenda. The Gazette conceived its aim as ‘the ennobling, by every possible means, of the Medical Profession in India’ and announced its commitment to rendering ‘good [to] suffering humanity’. It drew on common tropes, portraying the Indian population as backward and debased, in need of the supposedly civilising influence of Western medicine. At the same time, it was concerned about the lack of status and prestige attached to colonial medical service.[2]  The Gazette also addressed the perceived challenges facing medical journalism in India, questioning whether the stagnation of periodical literature was due to the ‘enervating’ climate.[3]

According to the BMJ, the Gazette’s ultimate success was attributable to its longest-running editor Kenneth McLeod (1871-1892) and one of his successors, Walter Buchanan (1899-1918). Both held senior appointments in the Indian Medical Service (IMS), an institution which had its antecedents in the East India Company and which continued under Crown rule after 1858. The IMS provided both military and some civilian medical services. While the Gazette did not explicitly identify itself as an IMS publication, it was widely regarded as official in character. When the BMJ reviewed the journal in 1874, it noted that the Gazette’s editors were IMS officials and that its contributors ‘belong[ed] chiefly, although far from exclusively, to the Indian service’.[4] In a future blog post, I will examine one of the Gazette’s rivals: the Indian Medical Record. The Record accused the Gazette of receiving state subsidies and presented itself as a staunchly independent alternative.

The Gazette often imagined its readers as British-born men employed in colonial medical service. Its first issue featured an article on ‘Professional Co-operation’ which looked at the challenges facing the young medical officer upon his arrival in India. It described how he ‘may be sent at once to do battle with disease as it occurs among men whose constitutions, customs, diet, and prejudices are new and foreign to him’.[5] Like British journals, the Gazette portrayed India as a strange, unfamiliar and alien space. Many practitioners employed in the IMS and Army Medical Corps were British men who arrived in India after being trained and examined on their home soil.

This article emphasised the Gazette’s commitment to promoting sympathy between medical men and encouraging the exchange of clinical and sanitary information so that ‘[t]he service we owe to Government and India may thereby also be amplified and rendered more useful while, as a consequence, our influence in the country will be more readily acknowledged and respected’. The article noted the ‘difficulties and discouragements to professional zeal and advancement’ that were thought to characterise colonial medicine.[6] Practitioners in India were often accused of apathy and as being less industrious than their British counterparts.

The production of high-quality clinical research was seen as one way of overcoming this prejudice towards colonial medicine. Anne M. Crowther and Marguerite Dupree suggest that, from the outset, the Gazette sought to ‘prove that the IMS could contribute significantly to medical knowledge’.[7] When the BMJ reviewed the Gazette, it judged the journal chiefly in terms of its clinical content. It reassured its readers that the periodical would ‘bear a favourable comparison with contemporary journals, not only in England, but in Europe’.[8] There is a sense that Indian periodicals had to prove their worth by asserting their equality with their European counterparts.

As indicated, the Gazette was shaped by the colonial context, which included an ethnically diverse readership. The IMS had long employed indigenous peoples, chiefly (though not exclusively) in low-status positions. In 1876, the journal published a leading article reflecting on its first decade of existence. It claimed that one of its original intentions was to cement ‘a bond of union by means of which medical men working in India of whatever service or creed or race [….] should be brought together for mutual edification and improvement’.[9] This implied that both British and ‘native’ readers would be enriched in tandem and united through their shared readership of the journal.

The Gazette remarked that it received contributions from native practitioners – working in the IMS as Assistant Surgeons, Apothecaries, and Hospitals Assistants, and as private doctors – with ‘pleasure’. Bound volumes of the Gazette typically open with a list of contributors for the year, and from this it is possible to conclude that native practitioners actively supplied clinical material. The Gazette designated their communications evidence of ‘laudable ambition’ and expressed its hope that publishing such material would dispel prejudices that these men were ‘incapable of original research’ or that they were content with a ‘life of stagnation and inertness’.[10] Even more so than British men in IMS employment, practitioners of Indian, Eurasian and Anglo-Indian descent were charged with apathy.

The Gazette framed itself as the champion and supporter of men from different ethnic backgrounds but it also adopted a paternalistic approach and was often deeply patronising. The journal commended itself on ‘develop[ing] the literary industry’ of native practitioners and suggested that their contributions showed ‘the soundness of the education which they receive’. This reduced the men to passive recipients of Western medicine’s supposedly enlightening influence. Although the Gazette welcomed the way in which it could help challenge negative stereotypes, it also urged its ‘native brethren’ to ‘quicken their will and effort’ so that they could ‘entirely obliterate the stain’ against their name.[11] This loaded language hints at the prejudice faced by these readers.

The journal’s diverse readership also encompassed female practitioners. In 1882, the Gazette published an article on ‘Women Doctors for India’, which criticised the movement for medical women. The writer denied that there was any appetite for them among female patients who observed veiling or segregation. It claimed that ‘the picture of excessive obstetric and uterine suffering [in the zenanas] has been overdrawn’.[12] However, the journal’s stance softened in following years, particularly after the establishment of the National Association for Supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India (commonly known as the Dufferin Fund) in 1885. This formalised women’s involvement in the provision of colonial medicine. The Gazette soon overturned its objections and enthusiastically reported the achievements of medical women, as well as printing their clinical contributions.[13]

Florence Dissent article

A clinical report from Florence Dissent (December 1891).

Ultimately, the Gazette suggested that medical men and women, of both British and Indian descent, had complementary roles to play in imperial medicine’s mission. As indicated, it believed that greater professional co-operation would help to elevate the status of colonial practice. Nevertheless, the journal’s dominant editorial voice reinforced hierarchies, largely foregrounding the experiences of white men while representing non-white and female practitioners as occupying subordinate or separate roles. Thus the journal reveals both the ambitions and tensions of the colonial medical profession.

[1] ‘Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 3 May 1941, p. 679.

[2] Mark Harrison, Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine, 1859-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

[3] [Editorial], IMG, 1 January 1866, p. 1.

[4] ‘Review: The Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 20 June 1874, pp. 808-9 (p. 808).

[5] ‘Professional Co-operation’, IMG, 1 January 1866, pp. 6-7 (p. 6).

[6] ‘Professional Co-operation’, p. 6.

[7] M. Anne Crowther and Marguerite W. Dupree, Medical Lives in the Age of Surgical Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 304.

[8] ‘Review: The Indian Medical Gazette’, BMJ, 20 June 1874, pp. 808-9 (p. 808).

[9] ‘1875’, IMG, 1 January 1876, pp. 12-23 (p. 19).

[10] ‘1875’, p. 20.

[11] ‘1875’, p. 20.

[12] ‘Women Doctors for India’, IMG, 1 July 1882, pp. 184-5 (p. 184).

[13] See, for example, Florence Dissent, ‘Mirror of Medicine: Two Cases of Large Uterine Polypus’, IMG, December 1891, p. 334.

Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century Seminars in Trinity Term 2018

tringquaggaMonday 7 May 2018 (Week 3)

Professor Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gone but not Forgotten:  Coming to Grips with Extinction

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Extinction is a timely and controversial topic now, as it has been for centuries.  That is not, of course, to say that the focus of contention has remained constant.  At first the main question, couched at least as much in theological as in scientific terms (that is, in terms resonant with later debates about evolution), was whether it could happen.   Localized anthropogenic extinctions, most famously that of the dodo, were noticed by European travelers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (the intentional extermination of undesirable animals like wolves at home did not figure in such debates).  The dwindling and disappearance of more populous and widespread species, including the passenger pigeon, the quagga, and (nearly) the American bison, in the nineteenth century sparked a different kind of concern among the overlapping communities of hunters, naturalists, and conservationists, which helped to inspire the earliest national parks and wildlife reserves.

Tuesday 22 May 2018 (Week 5)

Dr Carolyn Burdett, Birkbeck, University of London

Sympathy limits in Daniel Deronda

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

From the 1860s sympathy emerged as a key term in naturalistic dispute about mechanisms of evolution and the relation of human to animal life. This paper argues that we need to look closely at these debates in order to have a fuller account of the role sympathy played in the ethical and artistic changes of the ‘end’ of Victorianism. Sympathy’s part in its own vanishing conditions during the final three decades of the nineteenth century has not yet been fully explained. As literary historians invariably turn to George Eliot to help grasp the scope and power of secular modern sympathy, I go to her final novel, Daniel Deronda, to find insight about its waning. While sympathy is explicitly referenced on more occasions in Daniel Deronda than in any other of Eliot’s fictions, many readers have noted profound changes that propel the narrative simultaneously beyond both sympathy and realism. Might sympathy, paradoxically, be a key to grasping why Eliot’s last novel is full of terror and dread, magic and divination, Gothicism and melodrama? I conclude by briefly suggesting that sympathy in the final decades of the nineteenth century is part of the same nexus of concepts that produce a new term, empathy, seen by some in the twenty-first century to have largely replaced sympathy in referencing affective and ethical capacity.

Tuesday 5 June 2018 (Week 7)

Dr Manon Mathias, University of Glasgow

 ‘What is health? It is chocolate!’: Chocolate, medicine, and writing

in nineteenth-century France

5.30—7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Although France’s role in the development of chocolate from an Early Modern luxury to a popular product has been noted, nowhere has the French engagement with chocolate as medicine been examined in any depth. Moreover, the numerous literary engagements with this product in nineteenth-century novels remain unexplored. Taking up the call issued by the Chocolate History Project (UC Davis) for more research on chocolate in literature and in cookbooks, this paper will examine references to chocolate in scientific and medical texts from the period but also in gastronomic texts and novels to see to what extent principles regarding chocolate reached beyond the medical field, and also to reveal the rich and complex relations between chocolate and language.

Drinks will be served after each seminar. All welcome, no booking required.

The Weekly Entomologist (1862-63)

After five years of publication, the Entomologist’s Weekly Intelligencer was discontinued in 1861. The editor, Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822-92), seems to have lost patience with the considerable workload of producing a new issue each week, and took this unpopular decision at the conclusion of the tenth volume. Insect collectors who had grown accustomed to their ‘newspaper’ were understandably bereft, and there was much discussion as to whom could step in to fill the void. In 1862, a new periodical was announced, entitled the Weekly Entomologist. This journal was printed on behalf of the Altrincham and Bowden Entomological Society, in Cheshire. The title of this group suggests a large gathering of men, but in fact, the Society consisted of three schoolboys: the brothers Thomas and John Blackburn (1844-1912 and 1845-81), and their friend Edmund Geldart (1844-85). All had been avid readers of the Intelligencer, and had sent several letters regarding their insect-hunting to Stainton in the hope of publication. When Stainton discontinued the Intelligencer, his three youthful correspondents took it upon themselves to supply a replacement.

The Weekly Entomologist was almost identical to the Intelligencer in appearance and content. The first editorial was entitled ‘Union is Strength’, and implored its readers to participate ‘in a friendly spirit’, without descending to the acrimony and in-fighting that  had plagued the Intelligencer. Many of the same correspondents who had featured in Stainton’s periodical now published in the new weekly, giving details of the insects they had captured and lists of those they wished to exchange. The focus remained predominantly on the practical aspects of collecting, rather than lengthy scientific papers of taxonomic classification. Another leading article angrily criticised the recently passed Poaching Prevention Act, as this permitted the arrest of anyone found loitering suspiciously upon land set aside for the hunting of game. Entomologists would often fall foul of gamekeepers, as the pursuit of moths in particular necessitated nocturnal visits to woods and fields, armed with nets and other equipment,  which understandably aroused suspicion among those charged with the protection of such land. The editor urged entomologists to join ‘hand in hand against our common foes’, lest they be prevented from collecting insects entirely by the action of ‘aristocrats’. He also attacked ‘the railway capitalists, the farmer, the builder, the agriculturalist’ – all those who wished to ‘do away with the existence of insects’.

weeklyentomologi1186unse_0015

Title page for the second number of the Weekly Entomologist

Lacking the independent wealth with which Stainton funded the Intelligencer, the three schoolboys applied to the erstwhile editor for financial aid, and at first he was happy to oblige. However, the Weekly Entomologist struggled from the outset, failing to attract sufficient support from those who had previously read the Intelligencer. Furthermore, the production values of the periodical were much lower, with frequent errors in printing. Edmund Geldart, who would later recall his time editing the Weekly Entomologist alongside the Blackburn brothers in his memoir, A Son of Belial (1882), asserted that the local printer deliberately inserted these ‘mistakes’ in protest against insufficient payment. In one instance, a sentence on the subject of perseverance which should have read ‘the goal is always before you’, was instead printed as ‘the gaol [jail] is always before you’, significantly altering the meaning of the sentence. Ultimately, Stainton withdrew his support for the Weekly Entomologist, and it folded. Thomas Blackburn continued to correspond with Stainton, and upon moving to London, he collaborated with a number of other leading entomologist’s in establishing and editing the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine in 1864. After a brief stint in the civil service, he took holy orders and was ordained as a priest, and ended his career as a canon in Australia. He maintained his interest in entomology, amassing a large collection of beetles that are now held by the Natural History Museum, London. John Blackburn also worked in the civil service, and continued to collect insects during the long holidays this afforded him. Geldart seems to have lost his interest in entomology, and had a varied career as a teacher, an Anglican priest, and (after undergoing a conversion) a Unitarian minister.

 

Jukes de Styrap (1815-99): medical practitioner and ethicist

I first encountered Jukes de Styrap as the author of The Young Practitioner (1890) – an advice guide for aspiring medical men – when I was researching the early struggles in practice. De Styrap has primarily gained recognition among historians of medicine as one of the major commentators on medical ethics in the nineteenth century. In this blog post, I reveal how he established himself as a spokesperson on a constellation of issues surrounding the pecuniary, social and professional aspects of medical life.

Born in 1815, de Styrap was educated at Shrewsbury School in Shropshire and later at Stourport in Worcestershire. He studied medicine at King’s College London. Like many general practitioners at the time, he was jointly licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Society of Apothecaries. He practised in Ireland during the 1830s and 40s, later becoming a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland as well. He then returned to his roots, setting up practice in Shrewsbury. Here he held appointments at the Salop Infirmary and South Salop and Montgomeryshire Infirmary. He founded the Salopian Medico-Ethical Society and acted as its secretary. The Society was subsumed into the Shropshire Branch of the British Medical Association (BMA), on which de Styrap also sat, becoming its President. In 1864, he suffered a severe illness and retired from clinical practice shortly after, standing down as Consulting Physician at the Salop Infirmary.

During his retirement, de Styrap remained actively involved in professional affairs. Firstly, he published The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs (1874), which supplied practitioners with a recommended fee scale for a range of cases, including those involving advice, medicines, and surgical procedures (from reducing fractures to excising tumours). The guide divided patients into three classes, suggesting that their fee should depend on the cost of their house rental. Thus the recommended price of an ‘ordinary visit’ might range from two shillings sixpence (for the poorest class) to ten shillings sixpence (for the richest). De Styrap advised that night visits (defined as those between 10pm and 7am) be charged at double the ordinary rate (at least).[1] Immediately popular, the Tariffs was translated into French and went into four editions by 1888. The BMJ branded it ‘absolutely reliable’ and suggested it was a valuable reference guide for both younger and more experienced practitioners.[2]

medical-fees.png

A table of medical fees from de Styrap’s Tariffs (1874).

Four years later, de Styrap published A Code of Medical Ethics (1878), which he originally prepared for the Shropshire Ethical Branch of the BMA. The book has since been identified as ‘the only important code of medical ethics to be published in Victorian England’.[3] It drew largely on the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics (1847), which had already circulated in Britain.[4] However, de Styrap’s reworking also included original introductory material, in which he represented medicine as a ‘sacred’ calling.[5] The AMA’s code was itself based on Thomas Percival’s landmark Medical Ethics (1803), which combined precepts about good conduct with advice on medical jurisprudence.[6]

De Styrap’s hope that the Code would be officially adopted by the BMA was never realised, but – like the Tariffs – it was well-received by the medical community. The BMJ suggested the Code would be valuable for all medical men to ‘habitually refer’ to and praised its ‘stately and old-fashioned […] diction’ which it felt bolstered its authority.[7] The Code was reproduced and enlarged in 1886, 1890 and 1895.

At the age of 75 and with his reputation already well-established, de Styrap published The Young Practitioner (1890). Once again, he drew extensively on existing sources. The book is almost a direct reproduction of Daniel Webster Cathell’s popular American manual Book on the Physician Himself (1881). De Styrap conceded that his book was largely derivative, and framed it as offering ‘modified selections from’ and ‘additions to’ Cathell’s guide.[8]  De Styrap’s major innovations were to adjust the tenets to reflect the context of British general practice and to reframe the advice into a direct address to young practitioners.

Like its ur-text, The Young Practitioner offered advice to medical men seeking to establish themselves in practice. It counselled readers on everything from their dress sense to the arrangement of their consulting-room, their bedside manner to methods for securing payment from reluctant patients. For de Styrap, medical ethics encompassed not simply moral or legal imperatives but one’s manners and behaviour in both social and professional life. Like Cathell, he approached the business side of medical with candour. De Styrap had long been interested in both pecuniary matters and medical ethics, as his earlier works testify. He saw no tension between these different facets of practice; like Cathell, he contended that the business side of medicine, if conducted fairly, was compatible with a respectable and gentlemanly profession.

Once again, de Styrap’s work was praised by contemporary medical journals. It was regarded as an important contribution to medical ethics rather than a product of plagiarism. The Edinburgh Medical Journal fleetingly mentioned de Styrap’s debt to Cathell but enthusiastically praised his emphasis on gentlemanly conduct.[9] The BMJ remarked that,

[t]he standards which [de Styrap] sets up for our conduct towards the public and towards each other is perhaps almost too high; but though it may be beyond the attainment of all men at all times, yet it is well that the standard would be put high.[10]

Following the publication of The Young Practitioner, de Styrap was increasingly confined to his home in Shrewsbury due to ill-health. He died there at the age of 84 in 1899. Announcing his death, the Lancet credited him as the ‘well-known author of “A Code of Medical Ethics”’.[11] A longer obituary in the BMJ described how this guide had ‘been of great assistance to the profession’.[12] Over the years both journals had recommended the book to correspondents who asked for a reference guide on medical ethics.[13] Meanwhile, the BMA adopted a resolution expressing ‘great regret’ at de Styrap’s death and acknowledging his ‘long connection with the Association and the interest he took in raising a high standard of professional duty’.[14] De Styrap’s career demonstrates how a medical man could develop his professional identity through his writing even after stepping back from active practice.

Questions of originality and authorship perhaps trouble us more than de Styrap’s contemporary readers, who recognised him as making an important contribution to the profession. His high-minded tone and attention to detail were well-respected and his commitment to setting and elevating standards was seen as crucial to regulating professional life. As historians have identified, de Styrap borrowed the language and recycled the tenets of earlier medical ethicists. This approach, and the enthusiastic reception of his work, reveal how ideas about good medical conduct remained remarkably stable for much of the nineteenth century.

[1] Jukes de Styrap, The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs Issued by the Shropshire Ethical Branch of the British Medical Association (Shrewsbury: William Wardle, 1874), p. 7.

[2] ‘Reviews and Notices: The Medico-Chirurgical Tariffs’, BMJ, 14 April 1888, p. 804.

[3] Peter Bartrip, ‘An Introduction to Jukes Styrap’s A Code of Medical Ethics (1878)’, in The Codification of Medical Morality: Vol. 2, ed. by Robert Baker (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1995), pp. 145-8 (p. 145).

[4] Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1849).

[5] De Styrap, A Code of Medical Ethics (London: Churchill, 1878), p. 6.

[6] Thomas Percival, Medical Ethics (Manchester: Bickerstaff, 1803).

[7] ‘Notes on Books: A Code of Medical Ethics’, BMJ, 30 January 1886, p. 213.

[8] De Styrap, The Young Practitioner (London: H.K. Lewis, 1890), p. i.

[9] ‘Reviews: The Young Practitioner’, Edinburgh Medical Journal, March 1890, p. 854.

[10] ‘Review: The Young Practitioner’, BMJ, 13 September 1890, pp. 632-3 (p. 633).

[11] [Untitled], Lancet, 15 April 1899, p. 1047.

[12] ‘Obituary: Jukes de Styrap’, BMJ, 6 May 1899, pp. 1130-1 (p. 1131).

[13] See, for example, ‘Medico-Legal and Medico-Ethical: Work on Medical Ethics’, BMJ, 26 February 1887, p. 486.

[14] [Untitled], BMJ, 15 April 1899, p. 928.