A Positive Admission of Weakness.
Selected writings of John King.
Dr. King takes it for granted that the continued application for legislative protection on the part of some old school practitioners is "a positive admission of weakness." A business or a profession ought to possess merit enough to make it self-sustaining and self-protecting. Perhaps those who have in the past persistently clamored for restrictive legislation little dreamed of the danger that now confronts them, for the tendency even in the camps of those who have been so ready to saddle restriction upon others is there now a mighty commotion. The reports on medical education, submitted by those whose whole energies are bent upon the consolidation of all medical teaching in the large and opulent universities, have acted as a boomerang which strikes where danger was never suspected. Retribution seems to follow those who would impose unjust burdens upon others, and now we may expect to find these same men opposing medical legislation. It makes a difference, sometimes, whose ox is gored.—Ed. Gleaner.
A POSITIVE ADMISSION OF WEAKNESS.— "We believe in freedom of institutions, as few statutes as possible, some reliance on integrity in human nature, and an endeavor to make men free by granting them all means and sources to render them intelligent. Arbitrary legislation is no better than ukases, firmans, or other devices of tyrants. A king is one sort of man—a tyrant is an uncultivated peasant in lawless power.
"The good and celebrated Dr. Benjamin Rush, in course of his introductory to the medical class of the University of Pennsylvania, November 3, 1801, remarked: 'Conferring exclusive privileges upon bodies of physicians, and forbidding men of equal talents and knowledge under severe penalties from practicing medicine within certain districts of cities and countries, are inquisitions, however sanctioned by ancient charters and names, serving as the Bastiles of our science.'
"We would have every medical statute in existence repealed, leaving every man responsible for the mischief he did. There is no republican liberty, no civil liberty, no rights of persons except this. All else is usurpation. Old School physicians have appeared to think and act as if Heaven, which in general distributes its favors impartially, has bestowed upon them all knowledge in medical matters to the exclusion of every one else. Finding, however, that other parties have dared to think and act for themselves in medicine, they ask for special legislation—thus undoubtedly placing themselves in the attitude of fearing a comparison between the results of their practice and that of these other parties. And the special legislation they have for years past annually urged upon our Legislatures appears to be the result of an extensive conspiracy among them against the constitutional rights of man; it is undoubtedly designed as the first step towards crushing out all other schools of medicine—is a disgrace to that profession which should stand or fall upon its own merits, without requiring legislative apron-strings to sustain it—is an insult to our legislators, and is a positive admission of weakness."—KING, Address on Special Medical Legislation, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.