A Chat About the Netley Monument
Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Heroism, War, Surgery, Class
Set in a 'First Class Carriage', this is a conversation between a 'Swell' and a 'Surgeon' on the monument erected at Netley to commemorate the 'fifty-four medical officers who fell in the Crimea'. They break into conversation when the surgeon extracts a piece of cinder from eye of the swell, an act which prompts the swell to urge the need for every train to carry a surgeon and to praise the Netley monument. The surgeon warns, however, that the monument will not encourage more 'fellows' to enter the army, and goes on to explain that army surgeons require better pay, better treatment, and 'Fraternity and equality' with fellow officers. The swell reminds the surgeon that 'combatant officers' would not accept these terms, while the surgeon insists that 'a fellow who may have to take up an artery in a shower of bullets' is as much a 'combatant officer' as a 'General who as often as not directs strategic operations at a safe distance' from the field of battle. The swell and the surgeon agree that the army still regards surgeons as snobs (i.e. people of inferior social rank), and the surgeon explains that this has prompted the army to advertise for 'Acting Assistant Surgeons'. Replying to the swell's suggestion that the army should explicitly advertise for 'Snobs for Surgeons', the surgeon warns that applicants will be snobs rather than educated men. (78) The surgeon concludes that either 'Surgeons in the Army must have their claims conceded, or the Army will have to do without Surgeons', a problem which the swell thinks will be solved by placing the 'medical profession on a level with the military' and raising a 'distinguished Surgeon' to the peerage (79).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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