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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

'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.

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