A PARTICULAR NARRATIVE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED Relative to a Paper published in the 51st Vol. of the PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS, ENTITLED, An Account of a Remarkable Ope­ration on a broken Arm, &c.


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A PARTICULAR NARRATIVE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED Relative to a Paper published in the 51st Vol. of the PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS, ENTITLED, An Account of a Remarkable Ope­ration on a broken Arm, &c.

In which the Principal Facts are proved by Evidence.


Member of the Corporation of Surgeons in London, And Surgeon to the MANCHESTER INFIRMARY.

LONDON: Printed for and sold by Mess. HITCH and HAWES, Booksellers in Pater-noster-Row: And T. ANDERTON, Bookseller and Printer, in Manchester.



THAT this dispute may be the better understood, the reader will find prefixed the case of Ro­bert Elliot, as it was published in the 51st vol. of the Philosophical Transactions; Mr. J. F's Letter, inclosing Mr. Burchall's first printed account of this affair, extracted from the British Chronicle of Sept. 7, 1761; my reply, taken from the same paper of the 25th of that month; and his rejoinder, dated October 24, 1761, but not in­serted in the Chronicle till the 10th of March 1762.


—Tulit alter honorem.

IN your Evening Chronicle of the the 5th of August last, you have republished from the Philosophical Transactions, vol. 51.

Account of a remarkable operation on a broken arm, by Charles White, surgeon at Manchester, communicated by G. Lloyd, Esq; F. R. S. Read before the Royal Society.

On seeing this title of the case, could any man doubt, but that Mr. Charles White, surgeon, had performed the operation?—whereas the contrary is well known here, and I would have the truth publickly known, that the said operation and cure were performed and perfected, only, by James Burchall, surgeon to the Manchester Infirmary, and, that Mr. White had no more to do in it, than any other of the surgeons, who attended, as is usual, at such operations.

It is true, Mr. White does acknowledge the opera­tion was not performed by himself, but in a manner no less assuming to himself all the merit. Had his narration been continued in the style of the first pa­ragraph, [Page 11]I should not have taken the least notice; but in his following paragraphs there is so much of the Egotism, and his proposals, objections, and his an­swers, &c. that I could not forbear to request my friend Mr. Burchall to send me his account of the case; and to desire your impartial favour in giving it a place in your Chronicle, which will oblige

Your constant Reader, J. F.

AS the case of Robert Elliot, so artfully written by Mr. Charles White, and sent to George Lloyd, Esq; without my knowledge or consent, to be communicated to the Royal Society, hath met with a place in the Philosophical Transactions, and since been published in the Monthly and Critical Reviews, and in Lloyd's Chronicle, wherein Mr. White has taken the sole merit of the cure to himself, I think, without apology, I may be allowed to declare the truth, that Robert El­liot was my patient, and was admitted as such into the Infirmary at Manchester on the 24th of December, 1759, when, after a previous consultation (agreeable to the printed rules) it was agreed to try the method, as related by Mr. White in his paper; and accordingly I performed the operation on the 3d of January, 1760, in presence of him and several of the faculty (who, as is usual in capital operations, give their assistance) by making an incision through the integuments, in the In­terstice of the muscles on the external part of the hu­merus, and sorcing the extremities of the fractured bone, out of the wound, which were afterwards cut off with the cutting forceps: I then reduced the bones as near as could be in point of contact, and placed the arm in a fracture-box, afterwards I treated it as a compound fracture. I duly attended him till the cure was com­pleated, which was about the beginning of April; but for fear of any accident affecting the arm, as the boy was of a very lively and heedless disposition, and at a considerable distance from the place of his abode, he was not discharged from the Infirmary till the 5th of May, 1760.




A Letter from Mr. James Burchall, introduced by an­other, pretended to be written by a friend of his (both of them published in your Chronicle of the 7th of this month) oblige me, in common justice to myself, to give you this trouble. The intention of them was to insinuate to the publick, that I had misrepresented a case, published in the 51st vol. of the Philosophical Transac­tions, entitled,

An account of a remarkable operation on a broken arm; by Mr. CHARLES WHITE, Surgeon, at Manchester: Communicated by GEORGE LLOYD, Esq; F. R. S.

I shall make no remarks upon the inaccuracy with which Mr. J. F. has caused you to print this title, in which, by the alteration of a point, the sense was en­tirely subverted. I am ready to attribute it rather to his heedlessness, than to any wilful design of misrepresenta­tion. In these letters I am charged with assuming to my­self the sole merit of the cure. How far I did this, must be left to every impartial reader of the transaction. The merit I assumed to myself was only that of the inven­tion; and, if the invention be of any service to the pub­lick, that merit I believe neither Mr. Burchall nor his friend will deny me. The operation I no where called my own; I only asserted, that "I assisted in it;" and I said, that it "was performed by a gentleman of great "abilities in his profession." Had I thought that the share which Mr. Burchall had in the operation could possibly have redounded to his credit, I should have had no objection to entring into particulars and to the inser­tion of his name, especially as I have always looked upon him as a man of honour and knowledge in his pro­fession, and have constantly entertained a great regard for him; but I am now publickly called upon, and I think myself enjoined to an explanation of the account I have given, lest the publick should imagine that I have any way misled a society, which has for a long time been one of the principal ornaments of this nation.

Previous to any consultation, I proposed to Dr. Main­waring and Dr. Brown, at their own houses, the mode of operation which was afterwards pursued: And I must here do them the justice to declare, that I verily be­lieve it never would have taken place, if they had not seconded me in my proposal. Mr. Burchall was for am­putation. It was he that principally made the objec­tions mentioned in the Transaction; and though my me­thod was agreed upon, he declared both before, during the time of, and for some weeks after the operation, that he was very apprehensive it could never answer. The patient was Mr. Burchall's. He made the incision in the place which I had pointed out. I brought out one of the ends of the bone, which he attempted to saw off, but hesitated upon finding it to be attended with some difficulty, the incision having been made too small. Upon this, I cut off the end with the forceps, replaced it, and brought out the other end, which I also cut off. The dressings and bandage were applied by Mr. Bur­chall. It was I that contrived the fracture-box; and the first being made too large, a second, which was made under my direction, was used as long as the patient was confined to his bed. I very frequently attended at the dressings; for though the patient did not fall under my immediate care, I was anxious for the success of my proposal, and knew that if it did not succeed, I was to bear the blame, as the inventor of the operation.

For the truth of these particulars I appeal to every disinterested gentleman present at the consultation and operation, and (if I have represented any thing wrong) I publickly call upon them to a denial of any of the facts I have related.

I am, sir, yours, &c. CHARLES WHITE.



THAT the publick may be better able to judge of the dispute betwixt Mr. Charles White and myself, concerning the invention, method of ope­ration, and cure, performed on the arm of Robert El­liott, [Page 14]late a patient of mine in the Infirmary at Man­chester; I think it necessary to send you the following history of the case, which I hope you will be kind enough to publish in your next evening paper, with my observations and remarks on Mr. Charles White's disin­genuous Letter, published in your Chronicle of the 25th of September last. About the latter end of the year 1759, I received a letter from John Wright, Esq; of Eyam, in Derbyshire, acquainting me with the unhappy circumstance of a poor boy, in the said town, who had the misfortune to break his arm several months before (which, notwithstanding all the endeavours that had been used to unite the bone, still remained as loose as on the first day of the accident) and desiring my opinion, that, if I thought any thing could be done to save his arm, he should be glad to send him to Manchester to be ad­mitted under my care in the Infirmary; in answer to which, I told his son-in-law, Mr. Ashwood, who then lived here, in what manner I thought his arm might be cured, but that, till I saw the boy, I could not so pro­perly judge of it; accordingly he was brought to Man­chester on the 23d of December, 1759, and the same evening I examined his arm at Mr. Ashwood's, when I gave my opinion that it might be cured without ampu­tation. The day following he was admitted my patient in the Infirmary, where I again examined his arm, and called on the gentlemen then present to do the same, who gave their opinions for amputation only; to this I did not assent, and the boy's master strongly remonstrated against it, saying, he could have had that done at home, and desired I would try all possible means, rather than cut it off; upon which I told him to leave the boy, and I would consider further of the method I had before pro­posed, which was the same that was afterwards put in execution; to corroborate the truth of which, I beg leave to appeal to two certificates, of which I have given copies at the end of this letter, which are dated the 21st of October instant, and are signed by John Wright, Esq; and the said Mr. Thomas Ashwood. Whether or no Mr. White might have heard of my design I cannot posi­tively determine, but I am the more inclined to believe that was the case, from his asking, upon first seeing the [Page 15]boy, which was the day after his admission, what method had been proposed for his relief; on being told none bat amputation, only that I had said I would take him in and consider of it; he, upon examining the arm a little, immediately replied, that he thought there was a method by which it might be saved without amputation, and then described the method which I had before spoke of to Mr. Ashwood, which was afterwards pursued. Mr. White, in his account published in the 51st volume of the Philosophical Transactions, allows the operation to be performed by a gentleman of great abilities in his profession, but at the fame time assumes to himself the sole merit of the invention, and mode of operation; and, in his letter of the 25th ult. in an explanation (as he calls it) of his former account, he not only lays claim to the invention, but likewise to the operation and cure, by telling you that I was for amputation, and that ‘"I principally made the objections mentioned in the Transactions;"’ that I was not for amputation, I think I have sufficiently proved, besides, in the present case, that could only be the dernier resource. The only objec­tion which I made was that of lacerating the humeral artery, by forcing out the ends of the bone, and, as I was to perform the operation, the starting any objection at the consultation could not be construed otherwise than a desire to have their opinions on such operations. He further asserts, that though his method was agreed on, ‘"I declared, both before, during the time, and for some weeks after the operation, that I was apprehen­sive it would never answer;"’ in contradiction to this, I can prove, that I frequently declared it was the only method, both before and after the operation was con­cluded on, and the method I had proposed on the re­ceipt of Mr. Wright's letter. He next says, ‘"I made the incision in the place he had pointed out;"’ Pray what occasion for his pointing out? when, several days before the operation, he cannot but remember, that as I was shewing a young gentleman where I intended to make the incision, upon his coming into the room I re­peated the same to him. He then says, ‘"he brought out one of the ends of the bone, which I attempted to saw off, but hesitated, upon finding it to be at­tended [Page 16]with some difficulty, the incision having been made too small;"’ I allow that he turned out one of the ends of the bone, but not both, as he hath asserted; that upon my attempting to saw off one end, which was his proposal, on finding it impracticable, I immediately called for the cutting forceps, which he very officiously laid hold of, and cut off a small portion of the bone; I then took the forceps from him, and cut off some more from that end, and afterwards cut off the other end, &c. As the incision was found large enough to answer my intention in performing the operation, and was not then or afterwards enlarged, how comes he now to say, it was too small? Upon opening the arm I proposed its being placed in a fracture-box, which I thought necessary, for the more immediate conveniency of dressing, &c. and Mr. White, with his usual offici­ousness (whilst I was otherwise employ'd) said, on his going out of the room, if I pleased, he would give orders for one: I thinking this a matter of small con­sequence, told him he might; accordingly one was brought, which proving considerably too large, a second was made less, and that not answering the purpose so well as I could wish, was altered by my direction, and used as long as I thought necessary.

From what has been said, I think it appears clearly, that the assistance which Mr. White boasts to have given in the operation, was an act of over-officiousness, as the patient was mine, and under my directions. It would be tedious to analize the whole of his letter, and I should not have mentioned these particulars, but to shew that the manner of representing facts is very different, for different purposes: I must remark, that if Mr. White's opinion of my abilities, or his esteem of me as a man of honour and knowledge in my profession, was consistent with his declarations, that he would have conferred with me upon, or at least have informed me of his de­sign of communicating that remarkable operation; in which case, if I had acquiesced in his relation, he would have been justly entitled to the merit he has assumed; but as he did not, I, surely, cannot be condemned in saying, that be has been endeavouring to raise a charac­ter and reputation to himself, on account of that ope­rations, [Page 17]without acknowledging that I was the person who had the conduct and management of it.

I am, sir, your's, &c. JAMES BURCHALL.

I REMEMBER very well, upon the return of Edmund Marsden, from Manchester (the master of Robert El­liott) to Eyam, he told me, that Mr. Burchall was the only one who was against amputation.


I WAS present when Robert Elliott was admitted into the Infirmary, and remember that amputation was the only method proposed by the gentlemen there, ex­cept Mr. Burchall, who said he could propose a method to save the arm, which he had before told me of more than once at my house.


A Particular Narrative, &c.

A Publick dispute is a task of so dis­agreeable a nature, that nothing but the vindication of my character from the undeserved assaults it has received, could have induced me to appear in the light of a paper warriour.

When an invention has been crowned with success, it has been no uncommon thing to see others attempting to bear away the honour from it's author. But in the case of Robert Elliot, Mr. Bur­chall did not only defer his claim till the success of the method proposed was evi­dent, but even till the operation had, by repeated publications, received the ap­probation of the publick. The follow­ing narrative will make it evident, that I have done every thing I could, consist­ently [Page 2]with truth, to prevent a quarrel. That the proposal of the mode pursued was entirely my own, and that no one particular has been by me injuriously misrepresented. Mr. Burchall himself confesses, that I performed a part, and that a principal part too, of the opera­tion, by bringing out, and cutting off, that end of the bone which was first at­tempted. Had I performed even the whole, I should not have assumed to myself any merit upon that account; the practise was so easy after the method had been laid down, that any Pupil might have readily succeeded. I have frequent­ly seen Mr. Burchall successfully perform much more difficult operations, and can­not therefore help attributing his hesita­tion in the midst of this, to his having no good opinion of the contrivance, and to his going about it therefore with a less degree of confidence than if he himself had been the inventor.

Mr. Lloyd went to London in the be­ginning of the year 1760; before he set [Page 3]out upon his journey I had shewn him (in the infirmary) Robert Elliot's arm, and described to him the mode of opera­tion which had been pursued. Mr. Lloyd was pleased with the invention; and, af­ter his arrival in town, accidentally men­tioned it, at one of the meetings of the Royal Society, to some of the members, who begg'd he would write down into the country for a more particular rela­tion. He accordingly wrote to his son, Dr. John Lloyd, to get him an account of the case from me; and, as he was then upon the point of leaving London, he de­sired it might be sent by the return of the post, that he might have an oppor­tunity of shewing it to his friends at the next meeting of the Society.

Dr. John Lloyd called upon me with his father's message on Sunday the 16th of March, 1760, about noon. I was that day so much engaged, that I could not begin to write out the case till eleven o'clock at night, but finished it, before I went to bed, from notes which I had [Page 4]kept by me since the time of the opera­tion. The doctor came to me for it as soon as I was up the next morning: As I had wrote in haste, I desired he would read it over, and correct any grammati­cal mistakes, if any such had escaped me. It was then dated; he enclosed it in a letter (which he had brought along with him) to his father; and, as it was near the time of the post's going out, it was dispatched to the office immediately; I had no opportunity of shewing it to any person out of my own house, not even to my father, who was then at home, but three doors from me, and who never saw it (as I had not time to take a copy) till it was honoured with a publi­cation in the Philosophical Transactions. Mr. Lloyd gave it to Dr. Birch, one of the secretaries, upon the 20th of March, who read it before the society upon the 27th of the same month, but not till af­ter Mr. Lloyd had left London.

I now mentioned to some few persons what had been done, and, amongst the [Page 5]rest, to Mr. Burchall in the surgeon's room in the Infirmary. I did not, however, tell it him in the manner of asking his leave; for I did not think it necessary to ask any man for liberty to publish my own inventions. As to my letting him know the case would be published, it was not in my power; I did not know it would, till I saw it had received a place in the Transactions: Every paper carried to the society is not favoured with a reading, nor is every reading followed by a publication. In the year 1752 an order, which is still in force, was made, that a committee of the members should be appointed to re-consider the papers read before them, and select out of them such, as they should think most proper for their future publications. The vo­lume of the Transactions, which contains the case of Robert Elliot was published in May 1761. It was immediately sent down, not only to the Publick Library, but to several gentlemen in Manchester, and an abstract of the case was printed [Page 6]in the Critical Review for the Month of June, and in the Monthly Review for July, and the whole case was re-pub­lished in the Universal Magazine for the month of July, and in the British Chro­nicle of the 5th of August; yet Mr. Bur­chall never so much as hinted (though I saw him every week in the Infirmary) nor had I any reason to imagine, that the publication had given him umbrage, till we accidentally met in the passage lead­ing to the Old Coffee-House in the last week of August. I then told him, I was extremely sorry he had taken any thing I had done amiss, but that I thought I had mentioned him with as much respect as possible. He reply'd, his name was no where mentioned. I answered, if I had either seen him to have asked his leave, or had known that the mention of his name would have been agree­able, I should willingly have inserted it. I represented the hasty manner in which the paper went out of my hands, that the omission of his name was only owing to [Page 7]my over caution not to disoblige; that I had given away the merit of the opera­tion from myself, and was desirous he should retain it; that the case was gene­rally known in Manchester, and that I had taken every opportunity, wherever I had heard it mentioned, of declaring him to be the operator. He then asked me, if I was willing to do the same in any of the publick papers? I told him, I was willing to do it in any, in which the case had appeared. He said, he should be satisfied, if I would do it in Lloyd's Evening Chronicle; desired that I would draw up a paper in a proper form for in­sertion, and told me, he would call upon me for it, to send it to the Printer: Im­mediately, upon leaving him, I wrote what follows.



‘"THE Royal Society did me the honour to publish, in the 51st vol. part II. of the Philosophical Transactions, An Account of a re­markable Operation on a broken Arm, (which account you have copied in your Chronicle of the 5th of this month.) In it, it is said, that I as­sisted in the operation, which was performed by a gentleman of great abi­lities in his profession. I take the li­berty of declaring, by the channel of your paper, that the gentleman there meant was Mr. James Burchall."’

Yours, &c. C. WHITE.

About three days afterwards I acci­dentally met him in the Smithy-Door*; [Page 9]I told him, I had done what he desired; hoped I had put the paper into such a form as would be agreeable; had left it upon the desk in my study, to be ready when he should call, and that, whenever he pleased, he might insert it according to his proposal. I understood him that he would call, and left him, as I thought, in perfect friendship. Notwithstanding this, he never called, never sent any message, nor made any apology for his omission; but, without acquainting me, wrote the letter of the 2d of September; which, along with one subscribed J. F. was printed in Lloyd's paper of the 7th of the same month. I must here appeal to the publick, whether my behaviour to Mr. Burchall, whom I had been stri­ving to oblige to the utmost of my power, was such as merited the return it met with.

Notwithstanding this treatment, I was still so averse to an open rupture, that af­ter I had drawn up my answer to his and his friend's letter, I desired Dr. Brown [Page 10]would shew it to him before I dispatched it to the printer. I told the Doctor I was so far from having any design of distres­sing Mr. Burchall, that I should be glad to do him any service I could, consistently with my own reputation; that I did not wish him either to contradict himself, or submit to any meanness; but that my veracity had been called in question by his anonymous friend; and, as his own letter had been printed with his friend's, I could not help thinking him in some measure accountable for it; that therefore, except he chose to publish something to clear up my character, I should be obliged to print the answer which I had sent him; and that, as his friend's name was no where mentioned, I thought he might with honour subscribe the following.


‘NOtwithstanding what has been said by my friend J. F. in your Chronicle of the 7th of this month, this is to satisfy the publick, that a Case entitled, An Account of a re­markable Operation on a broken Arm; by Mr. Charles White, Surgeon, at Manchester; communicated by George Lloyd, Esq; F. R. S. read before the Royal Society March 27th, 1760, and published in the Philosophical Trans­actions, vol. 51. part 2d, is a true account, Mr. Charles White being the sole inventor and proposer of that operation."’

Dr. Brown shewed my answer to Mr. Burchall in die Infirmary, and at the same time told him the publication of it [Page 12]would be dropt, if it was either agree­able to him to sign the above paper, which I had sent, or any thing else to the same purpose. Mr. Burchall made two objections; one was, that it con­tained an accusation of his friend, and the other, that I had laid claim to the sole invention; for he added, that though I had had the fortune to make the first mention of it, yet that he himself had thought of it as well as I. After this, Dr. Brown told me, that if I would erase the words—His Friend, and the sole Inventor, he was in hopes he could prevail with him to sign the paper, and that he had promised to see him again the next morning. I replied, I should be glad to comply with anything the Doc­tor thought proper, and made the pro­posed alterations; but, upon Dr. Brown's offering the paper again to Mr. Burchall, the latter absolutely refused to sign it.

The reasons why I gave Dr. Brown this trouble were these; I knew he was per­fectly agreeable to Mr. Burchall; that he [Page 13]was thoroughly acquainted with the case upon his own knowledge; and that, from his known humanity, I did not doubt but he would do his utmost to bring about a reconciliation.

Upon Mr. Burchall's refusal, my answer was published in the British Chro­nicle of the 25th of September, 1761. On its arrival at Manchester, I was sharply attacked by him at the weekly board of the Infirmary, and there pub­lickly charged with having asserted fal­sities. I told him, I was certain I had strictly adhered to truth, but that, if he thought otherwise, I was willing to abide by the following proposal.

That he and I should join in a peti­tion to all the gentlemen present at the consultation and operation, to desire them to depose, before a magistrate, whatever they knew concerning the affair; that if he would consent to this, the depositions should be put into his own hands, he should be at liberty to publish, or suppress them, as he thought most conducive to his own [Page 14]interest, and that this should terminate the dispute betwixt us. I repeated this proposal to him three several times before the board, but he did not accept my of­fer. There does but one reason occur to me why Mr. Burchall should decline this offer, the persons present, both at the consultation and operation, are gentlemen of probity, and I have good reason to believe would at that time have complied with our request, if Mr. Burchall had ac­cepted of my proposal, as they all of them seemed to shew a disposition to re­pair the breach between us.

Mr. Burchall's reply to mine of the 25th of September, dated October 24th, 1761, was published in the Chronicle of the 10th of March, 1762: In it he seems much disposed to play with words; and, indeed, the whole performance must appear of a very extraordinary nature to those, who, by their attendance at the Infirmary, can be the only evidences in regard to the case, from which the pre­sent dispute has arisen; and, to use his [Page 15]own words, must have effectually con­vinced them, that "The manner of repre­senting Facts, is very different for dif­ferent purposes."

He says, ‘"Whether or no Mr. White might have heard of my design, I can­not positively determine, but I am the more inclined to believe that was the case, from his asking, upon first see­ing the lad, which was the day af­ter his admission, what method had been proposed for his relief, &c."’ an inference as absurd as it is false, and such a one as was perhaps never drawn from such a question! He goes on with pretty round assertions, and appeals, for the truth of them, to two certificates, which by no means come up to the point in dis­pute: The first is from Mr. Wright, of Eyam, containing no more than a remembrance of what he had heard from Mr. Edmund Marsden; but as Mr. Marsden has favoured me with his own evidence, this testimony of Mr. Wright's will, I imagine, be esteemed of little [Page 16]consequence. The second is from Mr. Ashwood, who recollects that amputa­tion was the only method proposed by any of the gentlemen of the Infirmary, except by Mr. Burchall, who said, he could propose a method to save the arm. The minutes of the board will testify I did not attend it upon the day Mr. Ash­wood mentions, and therefore he cannot include me amongst the number of those who were for amputation; and I shall be able to prove, that if Mr. Burchall did not propose amputation in Mr. Ashwood's hearing, he did it, however, at another time. Mr. Ashwood does not say what was Mr. Burchall's method; and cer­tainly, if he ever had any method except amputation to propose, he must himself, upon reflection, have been convinced of its insufficiency; else why did not he mention it to the boy's master, Mr. Mars­den, when he was pressed to think of some method to save the arm, and told, that if it had been imagined amputation must have taken place, the operation [Page 17]might have been performed without the trouble of so long a journey? Why did not he propose it to some of the faculty, rather than to Mr. Ashwood, who could not be supposed to be a competent judge in surgical cases? Why did not he pro­pose it at the consultation held in the In­firmary upon the Thursday after the boy's admission? (the only one in reality held upon this occasion:) there it was absolutely necessary* Had not I at that time pro­posed, and been powerfully seconded in, the method which was afterwards pursued, there is the greatest reason to imagine amputation would have taken place, as Mr. Burchall then proposed that method alone. And I never heard, except from Mr. [Page 18]Ashwood, that Mr. Burchall ever pro­posed any other method.

What danger might be apprehended from the operation I cannot pretend to say; I was always clear in my opinion, and often asserted, that if the plan which I had laid down was strictly adhered to, there was no more danger to be feared from this, than from any other capital operation in surgery.

In my letter of the 18 th of September, 1761, it is said, that I brought out one of the ends of the bone, which he (Mr. Burchall) attempted to saw off, but hesitated upon finding it to be attended with some difficulty, the incision having been made too small. The following is Mr. Burchall's remark, ‘"As the inci­sion was found large enough to answer my intention in performing the opera­tion, and was not then, or afterwards, enlarged, how comes he now to say it was too small?"’

When I asserted that the incision had been made too small, I did not do it in [Page 19]order to throw dirt; for I should be sorry to have said any thing in this dispute, to which the case did not necessarily lead me; I thought my meaning had been sufficiently clear, but, as it does not seem to have been understood by Mr. Burchall, I shall endeavour to explain myself in a more ample manner.

My meaning was, that if the incision had been made larger, Mr. Burchall would have had no occasion to have hesitated when he attempted to saw off the end of the bone; and here he allows (though he denies me the rest of the invention) that the proposal for sawing off the end was my own, apparently because this proposal did not meet with success.

To law off the end of a bone is no new practice in compound fractures; it has been performed by others as well as by myself; and I believe it will be al­lowed by every intelligent surgeon, that the saw, where it can be used, is for many, and very obvious reasons, superior to any other instrument.

The* warmth of some of the expres­sions made use of by Mr. Burchall, in his last letter, will not, I hope, ever tempt me to retaliation.

I have, in a great measure, confined myself to facts; and, as Mr. Burchall has friends in the Infirmary, if I have misrepresented any thing, there can be no doubt made but I shall be sufficiently refuted.

In the beginning of October 1761, Mr. Bent, who resides in the Infirmary, gave Mr. Burchall and me each of us a copy of his account, with leave to publish it; Mr. Burchall asked Mr. Bent for liberty to print a part of it, which Mr. Bent re­fused, but again repeated, that he was welcome to publish the whole.

As Mr. Burchall did not think proper to annex this account to his last letter, I shall now myself give it to the publick. Whoever carefully considers his relation will, I imagine, easily perceive what part [Page 21]of it Mr. Burchall has been pleased to borrow, and at the same time too dis­cern, that he has wrested the facts he has thought proper to give in such a manner as to make them suitable to his purpose. I am the more induced to believe that this was the real case, because Mr. Bur­chall himself told me, he had not kept any minutes of the affair*. Mr. Bent confirms many things I have advanced, and does not contradict me in a single ar­ticle. He says, indeed, that Mr. Bur­chall one morning marked out the place he thought the most eligible for the inci­sion, but at the same time tells you, that this was in the interim betwixt the con­sultation and operation. I had proposed the mode, and pointed out the place, at the consultation held upon the Thursday.

Mr. Burchall, though he was sensible at the same time there was no other method of saving the limb, did not come into my scheme till some days after: it [Page 22]was upon his giving his consent that he marked out the place, agreeable to Mr. Bent's relation, and, upon my coming into the room, he apply'd to me (if I understood his meaning) to know if we agreed in regard to the incision, to which he received my answer in the affirmative. Mr. Bent says that, ‘"Mr. White took the forceps and cut off the end, that Mr. Burchall took the forceps out of his hands, either to cut off the other, or to cut off more from that which was cut, but cannot possibly deter­mine which."’

Upon my asking Mr. Bent very parti­cularly to recollect what he could, re­lating to the cutting off the extremities of the broken bone, he told me, he per­fectly well remembered, that the first end was taken off by myself, but that he could not possibly recollect who it was that amputated the second; that he re­membered Mr. Burchall took hold of the forceps, but could not determine with what view he did it, whether it was to [Page 23]cut off the other end, or to take some­thing more from one of those upon which I had performed the operation. But I must here again repeat it; I don't pre­tend to any merit from an operation which is not a difficult one, and therefore I shall not produce any more evidences upon that head. I only mention these cir­cumstances to shew that Mr. Bent has no where contradicted any thing I have asserted.

Though Mr. Marsden does not posi­tively say Mr. Burchall declared for amputation, yet he affirms, that Mr. Burchall said, He did not know what could be done; and, when amputation was men­tioned, made no objection to the operation. Mr. Burchall, though he was pressed to think of some other method, gave him no encouragement to hope for more fa­vourable treatment, and had he had any other method to propose, is it not to be imagined that common humanity would have prompted him, either to have de­clared his method before Mr. Marsden [Page 24]had left the town, or at least to have given him reason to expect the prosecu­tion of a milder practice.

I shall not now detain my reader by any more of my own remarks, but shall lay before him the evidences I have to produce, and leave him to judge not only who has the best right to the inven­tion, but who has taken most pains to preserve that amity which I could hearti­ly have wished to have subsisted, and which ought always to be maintained be­tween gentlemen of the same profession.

"Being desired by Mr. Burchall and Mr. White to give an account of the particulars I remembered relating to the case of Robert Elliott, I have wrote the following with the greatest impartiality and strictest truth, ac­cording to the best of my remembrance."

‘"I Remember that on December 24th, 1759 (the day of Robert Elliott's admission into the Infirmary) that Mr. White was not there, and that Mr. Burchall desired Dr. Brown (who was then taking in for Dr. Kay, he being at that time ill of a fever) and Mr. Hall to see the boy; and I don't re­member that I heard any method pro­posed, besides amputation, but that Mr. Burchall said, he would take the boy in for a week or two, in order to call a consultation, and see if there might not be some other method pro­posed. That Mr. White came the next morning; and, being shewed the [Page 26]patient, he asked what method had been proposed? I answered, I had not heard any, except amputation; and that, after examining the parts a lit­tle, he said, he thought there was a method by which the boy might be relieved without cutting off [...]h [...] arm, and accordingly described that which was afterwards pursued, and desired it might be told Mr. Burchall, which was accordingly done. I don't re­member exactly the answer Mr. Bur­chall made upon his first being told this; but I well remember him often repeating, that there could be no other method for saving the limb, but that he had an objection which he thought of great weight against it, viz. the danger of lacerating the ar­tery, by turning out the ends of the bone. The consultation, I think, was held about a week before the operation was performed, but don't remember any thing particularly that [Page 27]was there said or proposed: I remem­ber in the interim betwixt the consul­tation and operation, that one morning Mr. Burchall marked out the place he thought most eligible to make the in­cision in, by pointing with his finger upon the lower edge of the deltoid muscle, on the external part of the humerus to me, and that Mr. White coming into the room immediately after, he repeated the same to him, who answered in the affirmative, that that must be the place. I don't re­member the particular parts performed by either gentlemen in the operation, but that Mr. Burchall made the in­cision, and attempted to saw off one end of the bone, but made a stand, upon finding it impracticable, in which interim Mr. White took the forceps, and cut off the end; that Mr. Bur­chall took the forceps out of his hands, either to cut off the other, or to try to cut off more from that which [Page 28]was cut, but cannot possibly deter­mine which. Mr. Burchall was the person who had the chief manage­ment of the patient; Mr. White fre­quently attended the dressings; and one morning I remember Mr. Burchall mentioned the placing the arm in a fracture-box in a direct line, but Mr. White thinking the ends of the bone did not come so well into contact in a streight line, as when the cubitus lay at a right angle with the humerus, said, he could contrive one in which it might lie in that position, and ac­cordingly gave orders for the joiner to be sent to his house, which was done, and a box brought the next morning, which proved greatly too large, upon which he ordered a second, which was likewise obliged to be altered, the board that went on the inside of the arm, from the shoulder to the elbow, being made too long, and with two hinges, one of which being took off [Page 29]and the board cut shorter, the same was used as long as the patient was confined to his bed. As witness my hand,"’


‘"WHEN Mr. Barker, of Bake­well, found he could be of no service to my apprentice Robert Elliot, he desired I would get him into the Infirmary at Manchester, under Mr. Charles White's care. Mr. Ashwood, of Manchester, afterwards undertaking to get him a recommendation, con­trived to have him admitted under Mr. Burchall, saying, he was a per­son he had an opinion of. I brought him to Mr. Ashwood's house on the Sunday night; Mr. Burchall saw him there that night, and said he could [Page 30]not tell what could be done for him, but that he should have the opinion of all the other gentlemen at the In­firmary. I took him to the Infirmary the next day to be admitted, and heard the gentleman that was in the chair ask what could be done for the poor lad? And a person that I took to be one of the physicians, or surgeons, replied, that nothing could be done but taking off his arm. I never heard any other method proposed, nor had I any encouragement to hope for any thing else, though I desired that Mr. Burchall would think of some other method."’

Sign'd in my presence, and to which he said he would give his affidavit, if necessary. Witness SAMUEL BAGSHAW [...], One of his majesty's justices of the peace for the county of Derty.

‘"IN December 1759, being an ap­prentice to Mr. White, I attended at the Infirmary in Manchester at a consultation held upon the case of Robert Elliott, the Thursday aster his admission into the Infirmary, where Dr. Brown, Mr. Burchall, and Mr. White, were present. As the boy was a patient under Mr. Burchall's care, he shewed him to the other gen­tlemen, and told them what he knew concerning the accident; and, at the same time, gave it as his opinion (to the best of my recollection) that no­thing but amputation could be of ser­vice, or words to that effect. Mr. White, upon examining the arm, pro­posed that mode of operation which was afterwards pursued. Some ob­jections being started, Mr. White re­plied, that if the plan he proposed did not succeed, amputation might be had recourse to at the last. During the course of this consultation, Mr. Bur­chall [Page 32]never gave any reason to believe, nor did it appear to me that he him­self had the least thought of this me­thod of treatment, nor did he propose any other than amputation. And the week following, whilst the operation was performing, Mr. Burchall said it will never answer; which words he some days afterwards spoke again in my hearing."’


Mr. Poole, the apothecary to the In­firmary, has often said, the boy owed the preservation of his arm to me. I imagine the principal facts I have ad­vanced have been very sufficiently proved by the evidences I have produced; and I hope the reasons I have given why I did not shew the paper to Mr. Burchall pre­vious to its publication, as well as why I omitted the mention of his name, will [Page 33]be esteemed satisfactory: But if any of my readers should be of a different opi­nion, I desire they will do me the justice to remember, that so soon as Mr. Bur­chall made any remonstrances to me, I readily offered to set the affair in a clear light, either in the British Chronicle, or in any other paper in which the case had appeared. This was certainly doing as much as man could do; and he himself expressed his satisfaction at my proposal. Yet, in a few days after this, he wrote the letter printed in the British Chronicle of the 7th of September, 1761, without so much as mentioning to me that he had altered his opinion. I appeal to the pub­lick whether this was genteel treatment. If the paper I had drawn up had not been satisfactory to him, I should willingly have altered it, as far as a strict adherence to truth would have allowed me.

I had an opportunity of seeing Robert Elliott, and of examining his arm, about Michaelmas last. His master informed me, that after his discharge from the In­firmary, [Page 34]in May 1760, he went to work as usual; that he kept well the remainder of the year; but that, in the beginning of 1761, he had the misfortune, by a fall, to break his arm again at, or near, the place of the former fracture; a callus formed, and the lad returned to his business shortly after; but (for want of a due observance of the surgeon's di­rections) the boy being of a restless play­ful disposition, the arm became crooked, and consequently shorter than the other. I have only related this circumstance, that I may not be accused of concealing any thing from the publick relative to the case in question.

I am not ignorant of the arts, which some low emissaries have made use of, to depreciate me amongst my friends, of the threats which have been thrown out to deter me from publishing my defence, nor of the methods which have been made use of to prevent my getting evi­dence, in order to clear myself, and main­tain [Page 35]my right to the invention: Such ar­tifices I despise! and such menaces I defy!

A contest of this nature no way tends to the advantage of mankind, nor is the publick interested in the event. The profession hath but too often suffered by differences made publick, whilst the self-interested combatants have only afforded subject for the entertainment and ridicule of the standers-by. In cases like this, an Apology to the Publick is absolutely necessary; but my pardon I hope I shall be able to obtain, as it must be evident from this Narrative, I have done every thing in my power to prevent an open rupture.

I must likewise beg leave to make an apology to those gentlemen whose names I have taken the liberty of making pub­lick, as no other means were left me of setting matters in a proper light.


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