Medical Practitioners, Status, Class, Societies, Dissection
The novel begins with several characters reflecting on the ambiguous social status of medical doctors. Dr Brand Firmin, who is 'Physician to the Plethoric Hospital, Physician to the Grand Duke of Groningen, and [...] member of many learned societies', provokes the jealousy of 'other doctor-fellows [...] because he lives in the best society' (4). Firmin's house in Old Parr Street was once owned by 'a celebrated surgeon' and contains a concealed door that 'was very convenient for having the bodies in and out' (16).
Claims that the 'light-vessel is a thing characteristic of England' (33). Gives a technical account of the problems of maintaining the visibility of 'argand-lamps, balanced and gimbled to get the vertical position in which alone they can remain alight' (34), but concludes that light-vessels have 'kept advancing abreast of the best practical science of the day'. Also relates how on one ship 'as many as a thousand birds', attracted by the lights, were shot in a single night in order to make 'an enormous sea-pie'. (40)
Miss Dunstable likens her position as a wealthy unmarried woman to that of a 'two-headed sheep' whose abnormality is the 'only thing which the world regards in that sheep'. She reflects, 'All this money which my father put together [...] has turned me in to an abortion. I am not the giantess eight feet high, or the dwarf that stands in the man's hand— [...] But I am the unmarried woman with—half a dozen millions of money—as I believe some people think'. (58)
Decries the tendency of the 'anti-parochial mind' which considers that men must 'exhaust a science before breakfast; another science before dinner', and be an authority on a huge range of subjects including 'the distribution of races, [and] the wave theory in shipbuilding' (114). Instead praises books such as Gilbert White'sWhite, Gilbert
DSB CloseView the register entry >>The Natural History of SelbourneWhite, Gilbert
1789. The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, in the County of
Southampton, London: B. White and Son
CloseView the register entry >>, which are produced by 'the labour of earnest, patient men, who despise not the humblest pebble by the roadside' (115). The tendencies of the 'universal mind' are seen most clearly in the organisation of modern museums, which boast 'a motley collection' of disparate 'anatomical wonder[s]' such as 'the tooth of a whale or an elephant, and the skeleton of a crocodile', but do nothing to represent the real experiences of local people (117).
Steamships, Military Technology, National Efficiency, Dynamics
Warns that with regard to 'iron-cased frigates, we have suddenly discovered the French to be far in advance of us' (120). It is a matter of national urgency that England be 'provided with a sufficiency of iron-clad vessels of the best construction science can devise' so that 'our navy will be rendered fit to cope with that of any enemy upon the seas'. In particular, these ships should be made of iron plates 'fixed sloping inwards obliquely, in order that the shot striking them may glance'. (122)
Steamships, Military Technology, Natural Law, National Efficiency, Engineering, Nationalism, Status, Government, Professionalization
Comparison of the latest British and French battleships, aimed at even the 'least scientific reader of the CORNHILL MAGAZINE' (202). Asserts the superiority of the British ship HMS Warrior, especially with regard to its speed. Although French newspapers boast that La Gloire can in fact reach the greatest speed, proclaims that 'in the waters of the sea—where laws of nature prevail—the deductions which we have drawn from science and experience will not be falsified' (196). The urgent necessity for the complete '"reconstruction" of the navy', the author claims, 'is a scientific question'. Indeed, this 'great crisis in our naval history [...] will need all our national good sense, and all our scientific skill, to carry us securely past it'. (198) Concludes that the Warrior is 'the embodiment of great naval architectural skill, and of no small amount of general scientific knowledge'. Its having been designed in Whitehall, moreover, shows that 'under the guise of "assistants" [...] the AdmiraltyAdmiralty
CloseView the register entry >> conceal a highly accomplished staff of naval architects'. Why, the author asks, in 'a country like this, and when we require such vital tasks performed, [...] are men of science thus masked?'. (204)
Although he is dull and ponderous as a child, Horace Saltoun grows to become 'one of our most rising analytical chemists, and had distinguished himself in microscopic investigations [...] the result of which had been to bring him under the favourable notice of some of the leading scientific men of the day' (230). He becomes both 'an active surgeon' and 'a popular lecturer' (243), turning down a professorial chair and instead lecturing to a motley collection of rejects from established medical schools, because, as he declares, 'I don't like binding myself down to any particular views' (246). Saltoun, however, suffers from an inherited 'morbid propensity to drink anything', which has previously proved fatal to his grandfather, and forces him to abjure alcohol (233). His sister's 'attack of delirium tremens' (239–40) is treated by the narrator, Saltoun's closest friend, who is the superintendent of an 'establishment for the insane' and has devoted himself 'entirely to the psychological branch of [his] profession' (234).
Cornhill Magazine, 3 (1861), 250–56.
Roundabout Papers.—No. X. Round About the Christmas Tree
Recounts that during Christmas week 'A great philosopher was giving a lecture to young folks at the British InstitutionRoyal Institution of Great Britain
CloseView the register entry >>. But when this diversion was proposed to our young friend Bob, he said, "Lecture? No, thank you. Not as I knows on", and made sarcastic signals on his nose'. Also notes that 'a brougham, with a famous horse' travelled 'more quickly and briskly than any of your vulgar railways'. (254)
Responding to the 'overweening and contemptuous' attitude of 'social and intellectual superiority' exhibited by an assistant-master at EtonEton College, Berkshire CloseView the register entry >> (269), the author defends his earlier comments on 'the neglect of mathematics' at the school [see Matthew J Higgins, 'A Second Letter to the Editor of the "Cornhill Magazine" from Paterfamilias', Cornhill Magazine, 2 (1860), 641–49] by quoting from a 'printed paper' describing certain new arrangements, which was 'given to [him] by the father of a boy now at Eton' (265). Even in this new scheme 'the maximum of the regular instruction at Eton appears [...] not to go beyond one book of EuclidEuclid
(fl. 295 BC)
DSB CloseView the register entry >>', while in 'all the civil service examinations in which mathematics are required, and at the examinations before the Board of Military Education, two books of Euclid are about the minimum accepted'. Also alleges that the pay structure at Eton gives mathematics masters 'a direct interest in keeping the regular standard of instruction as low as possible, in order that they may increase their fixed salaries by numerous extra payments for private tuition'. (266) The present system results in 'extensive public school "crétinism"' (268).
After Brand Firmin has given a speech at a riotous drinking party, the narrator, Arthur Pendennis, observes, 'As though spirits (of whom, perhaps, you have read in the [Robert Bell], 'Stranger than Fiction', Cornhill Magazine, 2 (1860), 211–24) approved of his invocation, immense thumps came from above [...]. But the upper thumps were derisory, and came from Mr. Buffers, of the third floor' (284). Fearing that his father was once involved in a secret conspiracy, Philip Firmin asks, 'does wickedness run in the blood?' (292) and reflects, 'Suppose there's no escape for me, and I inherit my doom, as another man does gout or consumption?' (293).
Medical Practitioners, Status, Heredity, Temperance, Ancient Authorities, Mental Illness, Surgery
While searching for the intoxicated Saltoun among the slums of Seven Dials, the narrator asserts, 'hardly any door is closed to the medical student, and the words, "It's only the doctor", give us the entrée into places where policemen are rarely seen' (306). Having been rejected by his fiancée, Saltoun turns to drink and even performs a 'dangerous' operation whilst 'completely intoxicated' (310). He is diagnosed as suffering from the 'periodic [...] depression of the mind' first delineated by Aretæus of CappadociaAretæus of Cappadocia
DSB CloseView the register entry >> (312), which he believes was 'bequeathed [...] by direct descent' (315). Despite these bouts of 'the insanity which is known as Dipsomania' (316), Saltoun retains his 'reputation of being the most successful private tutor ("coach" or "grinder" is the term) that ever defied the College of SurgeonsRoyal College of Surgeons
CloseView the register entry >>' (317).
Notes that 'Statistics are very much the fashion now-a-days, and we cannot take up a newspaper or a pamphlet without seeing in round numbers that so many people will do so and so in the course of the year' (321–22).
Because the 'conditions of modern life' increasingly 'interfere with the conditions necessary to health', it is important that 'the principles of health' are widely known (333). Firstly, although not 'going so far as the physician who maintained that a man's theological opinions depended on the state of his liver', Hinton insists that, as 'our feelings vary with our bodily condition', happiness is an important component of health (332). Secondly, he defines health as a condition in which the 'body is in harmony with the ceaseless activities of nature [...] in ceaseless adaptation to all the infinite variety of nature—ever the same, yet ever new' (333). Unravelling this 'close-woven web of life', Hinton shows how the animal body is 'a machine' which will constantly 'employ forces from without' even while 'we seem to act by the mere exertion of our will'. As such, the 'laws of health [...] are simply the laws of nature' and are subject 'to the same conditions which pervade the rest of the world'. (334) The animal body is 'essentially a state of action—of chemical change—in particles of matter' (339), and our health therefore depends upon maintaining the series of 'chemical changes on which the activity of the body depends' (335). This can best be done simply by providing a ready supply of the materials necessary for chemical changes, such as the union of particles of matter with oxygen. These are principally organic food and a continuous supply of clean air. From the perspective of the body's ceaseless chemical change, life can be characterized accurately as 'a flame' in a continual 'state of burning' (337).
Despite the Englishman's 'boastful' conviction that his 'physical condition' is 'superior to that of any other two-legged creature in the world' (375), the author proselytizes on behalf of the 'primeval institution' of the Turkish hot-air bath. The 'true thermal principle of the Turkish bath', he claims, has contributed to the health and cleanliness of numerous peoples throughout recorded history. (376) Even the 'peculiar' process of shampooing during the act of bathing is 'an art of no mean attainment, and proves, as has been well remarked, that animal magnetism has been practised in the East for centuries, and rendered so practically manageable as to be fairly designated the handmaiden of health' (380). While an 'inextricable web of scientific yet conflicting theories, have all, as so many blind guides, led us away from the certain instincts which are the common heritage of a natural and self-grown humanity', the simple pleasures of Turkish bathing can help impart a new 'immaterialized' sense of health and well-being (382). The 'human body can [...] be designated as air carnalized' and the experience of thermal bathing can 'thoroughly harmonize the flesh and skin with the atmosphere' and thereby 'promote [...] spiritual nobility' (382–83). Also comments that the 'skin of birds presents a nearer affinity to that of man, as any one may see by looking in at the window of a poulterer's shop (there is no science like that of your own eyes)'. Concludes that Britain requires 'the full and scientific development of the thermal system, which will be found alike beneficial to the rich and the poor'. (384)
Race, Ethnology, Medical Practitioners, Status, Class, Mental Illness, Gender
The narrator, Arthur Pendennis, comments that the 'stingy black Prince' Grenville Woolcomb has 'a dark complexion, and hair so very black and curly, that I really almost think in some of the Southern States of America he would be likely to meet with rudeness in a railway car. But in England we know better. In England Grenville Woolcomb is a man and a brother' (389). However, Philip Firmin soon compares his facial characteristics with those of 'baboons' and 'chimpanzee[s]' (392). Also remarks that 'A young doctor's son, with a thousand a year for a fortune, may be considered a catch in some circles, but not, vous concevez, in the upper regions of society' (390). Describes Caroline Gann's grief for her dead child as 'insanity, and fever, and struggle—ah! who knows how dreadful?', although 'George Brand Firmin, Esq., M.D.' suggests that in 'such cases of mania [...] women [...] will often cherish them for years after they appear to have passed away' (401).
Complains that 'Statistical figures [...] never suffice to show us the true substance and nature of any two things compared; they do not indicate the actual distinction, they only mete it' (410). In the Irish penal system new inmates have their 'identity [...] at once registered in the prison books in the shape of a photographic portrait'. These photographs allow the easy identification of former prisoners who later return to crime, as well as making clear the different physiognomies of the various criminal classes. While most inmates exhibit merely 'weariness and indifference', some criminal countenances show 'cunning enough to satisfy the preconceptions of the most self-satisfied scientific physiognomist'. (414) The Irish system also makes a 'judicious use of lectures' and allows prisoners to attend talks on subjects such as 'the composition of the air; [...] the ocean, its description and natural history; [and] the structure and distribution of plants' (417).
Horace Saltoun's career as a popular lecturer is ruined after a lecture on 'the anatomy of the cerebrum', in which he declares, 'Is the mind that which we can crush between our fingers, or resolve into phosphates or carbonates? No, this is not the mind: this is not life' in a hectoring manner which is 'so unlike his usual style of lecture, curt, witty, and practical'. As he moves on to 'the anatomy of the heart' his memory fails him and he leaves the lecture-room broken and utterly humiliated. (439) Although now happily married, Horace once more returns to drinking on hearing of the death of his sister, and the novel concludes with him in a state of complete insanity, uttering 'long dissertations without point or sequence, in which scraps of anatomy are curiously mingled' (446).
Begins by avowing that 'Whatever part Mr. Darwin'sDarwin, Charles Robert
DSB CloseView the register entry >>Struggle for Existence may have played in the development of the animal creation, it has certainly had no mean place in the development of man', whose 'energetic efforts' to 'advance from ignorance to knowledge' have been prompted by the 'unfailing stimulus which the stomach supplies'. By proffering various food stuffs, 'Nature lends us her forces to expend' and 'folds us in her arms'. (460) Our food, which is primarily made up of albuminous material, consists of two distinct but equally necessary elements, 'one designed to furnish the materials of the body, the other designed to furnish force' (462). In the compatibility of the chemical make up of most foods with the needs of the body, Hinton suggests, 'we have glimpses of a profound harmony and a far-reaching adaptation, the full recognition of which might raise to a worthier level our conception of creative wisdom' (463). In the processes of 'the casting forth of nitrogen, and uniting with oxygen [...] consists emphatically the animal life' (463), and plant life, which performs the exactly opposite operation, 'provides a store of force-containing materials for the animal's use' (464). It is by this 'appropriation' of the 'store of force' held in plants that 'the main current of our life flows on' (464–65). The article has been written, Hinton comments, in order to dispel the 'truly unscientific' notions concerning diet that are commonly held (470), and he suggests that the key to 'healthy nutrition' is through the judicious 'combination' of different sorts of food (472).
Medical Practitioners, Status, Quackery, Boundary Formation, Gender
Responding to the proposed marriage of Miss Dunstable and 'the "Greshambury apothecary"' Dr. Thorne, Dr. Filligrave, the 'eminent physician of Barchester', comments bitterly, 'He has been little better than a quack all his life [...] and now he is going to marry a quack's daughter'. Miss Dunstable's patronage of Mr. Sowerby in the electoral contest for West Barchester prompts considerations among the populace as to 'whether the county would not be indelibly disgraced if it were not only handed over to a woman, but handed over to a woman who sold the oil of Lebanon'. (486)
Recalls the circumstances of 'an illness which, but for a certain doctor, who was brought to me by a certain friend I had in those days [John ForsterForster, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>], would, I think, have prevented the possibility of my telling this interesting anecdote now a dozen years later'. Thackeray's drunken old servant, however, administered the doses of medicine 'not the way in which Dr. ElliotsonElliotson, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> had intended his prescription should be taken'. (509)
Medical Practitioners, Status, Professionalization, Ethics, Boundary Formation
Declares that the 'apothecary is constantly thrown, by the course of his profession, into relations in which it requires tact and delicacy to estimate the rights and duties which arise. If he forgets the nature of his duties to those who consult him, he has almost unlimited opportunities of gossip and scandal' (585). The apothecary must remember that 'he is admitted into the houses of his patients for professional purposes only, and that he ought to have neither eyes nor ears for anything else'. Although the 'most wretched gossip and sycophant might pull out a tooth or prescribe for an indigestion as successfully as the most honourable member of his profession [...] the first would learn from his calling nothing which was not degrading except technical skill, whilst the second might draw from it endless instruction and improvement'. (586)
Gives advice to 'a town audience' (614) on buying the right horse, and suggests that although a 'veterinary surgeon's opinion [...] is a capital thing' he cannot be expected to detect all the problems that may later arise with a horse (620).
Describes the deep soundings of the North Atlantic made in 1860 by George C WallichWallich, George Charles
DSB CloseView the register entry >> as the naturalist on board HMS BulldogHMS Bulldog CloseView the register entry >>. During these soundings 'a curious and most unexpected [...] accident' revealed the depths at which animals such as star-fish can survive (1,250 fathoms instead of the 500 fathoms previously considered the maximum), and provided a great deal of information on the natural history of the bottom of the ocean (629). The ocean floor is covered with 'a stiff mud, made up of minute shells, which we now know must include the débris of innumerable animals who have permanently resided there', and is inhabited by 'star-fishes, [...] small microscopic animals, [...] industrious worms, [and] small crustaceans' (632). Insists on the 'importance and paramount necessity' of combining 'inquiries into pure natural history' with 'more directly practical investigations', and maintains that 'a sound, practical result is sure to follow from labours so conducted' (635). In particular, natural history can contribute to our knowledge of 'the particulars of that solid floor on which our telegraph cables must be laid' (634). Deep sea ship-worms, for instance, can bore 'through a coating of guttapercha intended to preserve the wire from such contact as would destroy electrical insulation', and constitute 'an enemy more dangerous, and causing a difficulty more serious, than any that has yet presented itself' to 'the permanent preservation of a submarine telegraph cable laid across the bottom of the Atlantic' (632).
In imagining 'everybody who does wrong being found out, and punished accordingly', the narrator comments, 'After the young gentlemen have had their turn [at being whipped] for their faulty exercises, fancy Dr. Lincolnsinn being taken up for certain faults in hisEssay and Review[Temple, Frederick
et al.] 1860. Essays and Reviews, London: J. W. Parker
CloseView the register entry >>' (637).
Considering the current controversy over 'whether history is or is not capable of being studied as a science' (666), Stephen argues forcefully against 'the popular notion that physical science is founded upon the existence of brute matter, moved according to necessary laws' (667). Scientific laws, unlike those of jurisprudence, are metaphorical constructs that are 'mere records of facts' such as the regularity which we observe in the motion of the planets, but the 'mind is almost inevitably infected with the notion that they have not only an existence of their own apart from facts, but an energy of their own by which they control them' (668). Only if it is first 'assumed that there is an intelligent Author of Nature' can 'the laws of motion be described as laws in the proper sense of the word. Upon any other supposition, the use of the word is more or less improper' and should be replaced by 'either "rule" or "formula"'. The scientific standard of proof relies on there being 'no evidence to the contrary' of a proposition, but at the same time it cannot provide positive confirmation that any hypothesis is either true or false. (669) Indeed, 'It would be impossible to disprove on scientific grounds the assertion that a chair or a table has a soul, though it would be easy to show that we have not the smallest reason to think so' (670). It is the 'metaphorical language in which the results of physical science are expressed' that has led to so many 'delusions' like 'that most pernicious notion that it establishes the proposition that the material universe is affirmatively known to be a collection of inanimate agents governed by necessary laws' (675).
A recently deceased thirteen-year-old child considers her grieving mother with the 'Grand contempt / Of the spirits risen awhile, / Who look back with such a smile'. The 'dear child we used to scold' now 'Rise[s] up suddenly full-grown'. (737)
Cornhill Magazine, 3 (1861), 755–60.
Roundabout Papers.—No. XIII. On a Hundred Years Hence
After complaining of the prevalence in society of petty personal gossip spread by mendacious 'anecdote-mongers', the narrator proposes that instead 'We will range the fields of science, dear madam, and communicate to each other the pleasing results of our studies. We will, if you please, examine the infinitesimal wonders of nature through the microscope. We will cultivate entomology. We will sit with our arms round each other's waists on the pons asinorum, and see the stream of mathematics flow beneath. [...] We will go to the Zoological GardensZoological Society of London —Gardens
CloseView the register entry >> and talk freely about the gorilla and his kindred, but not talk about people who can talk in their turn'. Concludes, however, that 'People will go on talking about their neighbours, and won't have their mouths stopped by cards, or ever so much microscopes and aquariums'. (760)