The Medical School of the Melbourne University: an address delivered on the twenty fifth anniversary of the opening of the Medical School, in the Wilson Hall, March 23, 1887
THE MEDICAL SCHOOL OF THE
Delivered on the Twenty fifth Anniversary of the Opening of the
Medical School, in the Wilson Hall, March 23, 1887.
JAMES EDWARD NEILD, M.D.
LECTURER ON FORENSIC MEDICINE.
Melbourne: STILLWELL AND CO., PRINTERS,
78 COLLINS STREET EAST.
THE MEDICAL SCHOOL OF THE MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY.
By James Edward Neild, M.D.
Lecturer on Forensic Medicine.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen,—
The Medical School of the University is now entering upon the twenty-sixth year of its existence, and the Faculty of Medicine have thought it well that the occasion of beginning the session for this year, should be marked by the delivery of an Address, and they have clone me the honour to request me to undertake that duty. While conscious of the distinction thus accorded me, it would be only affectation if I did not believe that the Faculty, in making the request to me, knew that from my long connexion with the School, I possessed a good deal of personal knowledge, both of the University generally, and of the School as the most important section of it; and that, therefore, I was not ill qualified to note, and briefly comment, upon the progress which has so happily marked its career.
Looking back upon the long procession of events that have happened since the project of a Medical School took definite shape, I cannot but regard with a perplexed interest, but nevertheless, with a large measure of satisfaction, many of the occurrences which have served to indicate its movement. As a, long chapter in the social and educational history of this new country, the past quarter of a century just closed is curiously engrossing.
The scheme of the University itself, as everybody knows, owed its inception to the late Sir Redmond Barry, who, with eyes farseeing beyond those of his contemporaries, perceived, even in the early era of this country, the desirability of an educational institution to which all others should look up as their head, and their authority; and although he was counselled to dismiss from his mind such a project as premature, if not visionary, he persisted in regarding it as not only possible, but imperative, and he lived long enough to see much of the fruition of his hopes, and a great deal more than even he, with all his sanguine belief in the truth of his predictions, ever dreamed would come to pass.
The Act of Incorporation of the University of Melbourne became law on the 22nd of January, 1853, and the Council were appointed almost immediately after. On the 3rd of July, 1854, the first stone of the original University buildings, now, unhappily, in premature ruin, was laid by the just-arrived Governor, Sir Charles Hotham. On the 13th of April, 1855, the University was formally opened by the Chancellor, Mr. Justice Barry, there being present sixteen students and four professors, and the place was the old Exhibition Building, now, and for some time, a thing of the past, the site being occupied by the Mint. For several months after the opening, the lectures were delivered in the Exhibition Building.
Although the Act of Incorporation provided for the granting of medical degrees, there was no mention made of medical teaching, and, in fact, although a Medical School was sometimes spoken of, it was generally regarded as something altogether anticipatory, and not, for many years, to be seriously thought of. But in that same year, viz. 1855, Dr. Brownless was appointed a member of the Council, and, from the day of his first attendance at its meetings, he resolved there should be a Medical School, and he never wavered in his determination to carry out this project. He, therefore, is the actual founder of the School. As a matter of course, he was met with great opposition, and there were not wanting those who ungraciously explained his enthusiasm, by attributing to him unworthy motives. But he was not a man to be deterred from a good purpose, either by argument or abuse; and so he went steadily on, maturing his scheme, which, in 1857, he presented formally to the Council; but it was five years later before it grew into a veritable embodiment. In the mean time, two gentlemen, who were entirely with Dr. Brownless in the belief that a Medical School was an integral part of the University, had made an informal beginning. These were Dr. Eades and Dr. Macadam, who lectured in the laboratory of the latter, behind the Public Library, severally on Materia Medica and Chemistry. On the 10th of December, 1861, Dr. Brownless, who in 1858 had been elected Vice-Chancellor, an office he has ever since most worthily filled, succeeded in inducing the Council to pass the regulations for the School, and somewhat later he obtained from the Government permission to erect the Medical School buildings where now they stand. I believe his own wish was to make them part of the original structure of the University, but several of the Council were shocked at the proposal to allow a dissecting-room to come betwixt the wind and their corporate nobility, so that it was put as far off as possible; and still further to mark the objection of the Council to a Medical School at all, it was built in as economic a manner as might be, the materials being brick and stucco, instead of smoothed freestone like the main building. The building, however, was not ready for use until about April 1864.
In January 1862, Dr. Macadam was appointed Lecturer on Chemistry, and on March 3rd the School was informally opened; in September of the same year Dr. Eades was chosen Lecturer on Materia Medica, and the two appointments of Dr. Macadam and Dr. Eades may be regarded as the actual beginning of the School. In the latter part of the same year, Professor Halford arrived from England, and on the 1st of May, 1863, he delivered his introductory address in the Mathematical Theatre. From that time the work of the School went steadily on, and the first class consisted of but three students, viz., Patrick Moloney, William Carey Rees, and Alexander Mackie. Of these, Mr. Mackie fell away from his allegiance to medicine, and entered the Presbyterian ministry; yet, curious to relate, a few months ago he made his appearance in my lecture-room, and said that, after a quarter of a century's vacation, he was going on with his medical studies. And now Mr. Mackie has just passed his third year. Dr. Rees died in 1879, after giving promise of attaining a very high position; and Dr. Moloney is at this moment one of the best known and best liked members of the profession in the colony.
The School having been fairly started, the Council proceeded to appoint the rest of the Lecturers as they were required. I was the last of those so appointed, and the date of my election was the 27th of March, 1865. The list of the original teaching staff was as follows:—Professor Halford, in Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology; Dr. Macadam, in Chemistry and Practical Chemistry; Dr. Eades, in Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Medical Botany; Dr. James Robertson, in the Theory and Practice of Medicine; Dr. Edward Barker, in Surgery; Dr. Richard Thomas Tracy, in Obstetric Medicine and Diseases of Women and Children; and Dr. James Edward Neild, in Forensic Medicine.
In connection with this slight historical record of the School, I shall be pardoned, I am sure, if I speak, but all too briefly, of those of my colleagues whom I knew so well and liked so cordially, but who are gone from us for ever. I am proud to think they were my friends, and that I was associated with them in the work of building up this Medical School of ours.
Dr. Eades was one of the most genial, most kind-hearted of men. As a lecturer he had already won a reputation in the old country. He had that easy conversational manner which makes listening to a speaker not an effort, but an enjoyment. A man of more varied information it would hardly be possible to find, and the subject he taught in the School, perhaps of all the subjects comprehended in our composite science the least capable of being made attractive, he dealt with so as to ensure, not only attention, but pleasurable interest. He was an accomplished conversationalist, and a talk with him was always calculated to put even a melancholy man into good humour. His social qualities were admirable. He was one of the best of after-dinner speakers, and at those convivial meetings, when we used to forget that there were ever such things as professional differences, he would sing, in a fine rich baritone voice, some of those racy Irish songs with rolling choruses, in which it was impossible for the least unmusical not to take part. It is nearly twenty years since he died, but his bright, good-humoured face and portly figure, are distinctly present to my mind's eye as I record this brief memoir of him.
Dr. Macadam was an active-minded man, and, besides his duties as Lecturer on Chemistry, City Health Officer, and Government Analyst, he undertook many other public functions. He was a clear and fluent speaker, and the public lectures, in which he presented scientific subjects in an attractive form, were attended by thronged audiences. He, however, committed the error of going into political life, and he found, too late, that politics and science do not go well together.
Dr. Barker was one of the pioneers among old colonists, and for some time after he came to this new country he quitted medicine for squatting, but, when he returned to his allegiance, he soon found himself engaged in active work. He was officially connected with the Melbourne Hospital where he won deserved credit as a sound practical surgeon, so that his appointment in the Medical School was but a fitting tribute to his capabilities. Everybody who knew him regretted that his latter days were not marked by the prosperity which he enjoyed in his earlier experiences.
Dr. Tracy was a typical illustration of a successful man. As a general practitioner, he would always have held his ground, but in his gynaecological specialty he took first rank, and he would equally have ranked first if he had chosen to win his successes in the old country. His early death from intestinal cancer in 1874, caused universal regret, both in the public and in the profession. ISTo man ever more completely enjoyed the confidence of his patients, and no teacher ever secured more certainly the regard of his pupils.
The changes which have happened in the various professorships and lectureships, since the commencement of the School have been as follows: Professor Halford who was originally appointed to teach Descriptive and Surgical Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology now devotes himself exclusively to General Anatomy, Physiology and Histology, the subjects of Descriptive and Surgical Anatomy and Pathology being undertaken by Professor Allen, whose appointment was made in 1882. To Dr. Macadam, as Lecturer in Chemistry, succeeded Mr. Kirkland, who, in 1882 was created Professor of Chemistry, and who, dying in 1885, has been succeeded by Professor Masson, who arrived from England last year. Dr. Eades as Lecturer on Materia Medica and Therapeutics was succeeded by Dr. Sturt, who resigned after a brief occupancy of the office, and was followed by Dr. S. D. Bird, who on accepting the lectureship on Medicine made vacant by the resignation of Dr. James Robertson, was followed by Dr. Williams, and, he resigning, has been followed by Dr. D. Grant. This lectureship has undergone the further change of abscission, a new lectureship having been formed of Therapeutics and Hygiene, to which Dr. Springthorpe has been elected. In Surgery, Dr. Barker was followed by Mr. Girdlestone, who still retains the office. When Dr. Robertson resigned the lectureship in Medicine, he was succeeded by Dr. S. D. Bird, who continues to hold the appointment. Dr. Tracy's death made a vacancy in Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children, and he was followed by Dr. Martin, who, dying at Cannes in January 1879, was succeeded by Dr. Jamieson. My own department is the only one which has undergone no change, and only I and Professor Halford remain of those originally appointed. The latest addition to the staff is that of Professor Spencer, who has just arrived from England, to take the newly created chair of Biology.
It is meet that, in speaking of those others who have died, I should say something of Dr. Martin and Professor Kirkland, who, although not on the first list of those appointed as teachers in the School, took their places as vacancies were made by the death of those already mentioned.
Dr. Martin, the second of the Lecturers on Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children, had earned a good place in the profession in this colony, by some years of the hardest of hard work, namely, that of a "Club Doctor." In this way, he had acquired a very large midwifery practice, and, unlike not a few who content themselves with practical knowledge only, he had kept good pace with the progress continually made in gynaecological science, so that when, on the death of Dr. Turnbull, he was elected a member of the honorary staff of the Lying-in Hospital, it was confessed that the choice had been a judicious one. Somewhat later, when Dr. Tracy went to Europe, in 1873, to seek for that restoration to health he was destined never to find, Dr. Martin was properly considered the best man temporarily to take the vacant place, and it was a thing of course, therefore, that, when Dr. Tracy died in November 1874, Dr. Martin should be confirmed in the appointment. He made an excellent teacher, for he was full of information, and had a felicitous way of communicating to others what he himself knew. His own death, on the 19th of January, 1879, at Cannes, whither he had gone in the hope of recruiting the powers which a too laborious occupation had permanently undermined, was a source of regret to the whole profession, who, very properly, regarded the event as a deplorable calamity.
Professor Kirkland's career in the University was a somewhat remarkable one. He was for some years the assistant of Dr. Macadam, and when, on the death of this latter gentleman, he was appointed his successor, he felt the disadvantage of being unpossessed of any medical qualification. It is to his infinite credit, therefore, that, while doing the arduous work of a teacher in the School, he attended the lectures and hospital practice necessary for the obtainment of degrees in medicine and surgery, and these he secured. His promotion to the distinction of professor was, therefore, both a recognition of his fitness for the office, and an acknowledgement of the perseverance with which he had added to his qualification for it. He was a thorough chemist, an unquestionably good teacher, and a genial warm-hearted man.
Looking down the long list of those who have worked in the School, it is impossible to feel other than saddened to think that so many have passed into the land of shadows and are now known only as memories. That both they and those who followed them have all been earnest in their work I am quite sure, and I quote the prosperity of the School in proof. In addition to the lecturers and professors, it has been found necessary (from time to time) to appoint, in several of the departments, skilled assistants, and at the present time these are represented by Dr. Moore and Dr. Syme, as Demonstrators in the Dissecting Room; Dr. Barrett, as assistant to Professor Halford in the Physiological Laboratory; and Mr. Kirkland, a son of the late Professor Kirkland, as Professor Masson's assistant in the Chemical Laboratory.
The Medical School buildings, some years ago, were found inadequate to the requirements of the students. When they were built, they were declared to be unnecessarily large, although, as I have said, architecturally mean, and for some time they were more spacious than appeared to be necessary, so that, for several academic years, I and some of the other lecturers used to meet our classes in the library, and sit comfortably by the fire, so small was the party. This was not perhaps very dignified, but then it does not seem easy, and indeed it is, in its way, absurd, to insist upon dignity when you are talking to only three or four persons. But when the class mounts up to thirty or forty, it is different. Dignity and deportment are then unavoidable. But it was not alone the maintenance of dignity and deportment that was necessary. The dissecting room was found to be altogether too small, the chemical laboratory had out-lasted its suitability, and the physiological laboratory would hold only a percentage of those who desired to work there. So, on the 23rd of May, 1883, a deputation from the Council waited upon the then head of the Government, Mr. Service, asking for a special Government-grant for enlarging the buildings of the School. And I am pleased to record that the Premier met the deputation in an encouraging manner, nor did he limit himself to the manner of dealing with the application, but promised, and subsequently performed his promise, to get £10,000 voted for the proposed new buildings. To this sum other amounts have since been added, and it is believed that more will be forthcoming when asked for. As a result of this liberal recognition of the needs of the School, very large additions have been made to our buildings. The style of architecture is wholly different from that of the original structure, for while this latter is of the spurious classic order, and as I have already said, in brick and stucco, the new portion is of respectable Elizabethan Gothic, and the material is good honest freestone. The inside arrangements are not less satisfactory. There is a dissecting room, with ancillary offices that could not be bettered in any school in the world. There are large museums for anatomical and pathological specimens, a commodious new theatre, and several other apartments, each one having its own particular use; but the building is by no means finished. It shows an architectural raw stump on its eastern side, and the western façade has yet to be blended with the original building, whose poverty-stricken stucco wall ought to be effaced. The old building has also undergone some modifications. A few years ago a chemical laboratory for the students was added, and now the dissecting room has been transformed into a physiological laboratory; the chemical theatre is being enlarged, the old museum is shortly to be turned into a library, and the room hitherto used as a library is to be allotted to the students as a common room. This room, I may say, is all too small for this purpose, but as, up to the present, the medical students have had no room at all—a grave neglect, I take it—they will be, at least, a little better off than they have been. And concerning the library of the Medical School, something has to be said. It was brought out by Professor Halford nearly twenty-five years ago, and it remains numerically very much as it was then. Very few additions have been made to it, the Council having, until recently, displayed a persistent parsimony towards both it and everything else connected with the Medical School. But now, the library is to make a new departure. The books are to be decently shelved, the room is to be reasonably well furnished, and the sum of £150 a year is to be devoted to its maintenance. It is not a large sum, but it is hoped that the Council will, after a while, melt into a modified tenderness, and that the allowance of £150 will expand accordingly.
I think it will be seen, therefore, that a good deal has been done to make the School an efficient means of teaching the science of Medicine, and that there is no need for our young men to go to Europe to learn their profession. I do not forget that the disposition -to undervalue everything Australian has not seldom found its expression in a sneer, both at our University generally and our Medical School especially. Even the Council itself has not been entirely free from this kind of prejudice, seeing that two of its members have sent their sons to Europe to be medically educated. But I do not think the prejudice is increasing, and I feel confident that every year will tend to diminish it. My belief on this point is the more assured, when I remember how more than creditably our medical graduates have acquitted themselves, both as practitioners in the ordinary work of their profession, and as the occupants of offices in which exceptional medical knowledge is necessary. I might mention many names of gentlemen, whose medical training has been wholly obtained in this University, who are properly regarded with respectful consideration by those most competent to judge of them. It may suffice, however, to speak of one, who, being most nearly under my own observation, has supplied me with larger and more frequent opportunities of judging of him. Need I say that I refer to Professor Allen? This gentleman, a native of Victoria, educated entirely within the colony, and never having had the opportunity of studying in those larger spheres of observation, supplied in the great capitals of Europe, has, nevertheless, completely mastered the several sciences which make up the great collective science of Medicine. I do not think that, of any branch of that science, Professor Allen is not an expert. I have watched his career from the time he entered as a matriculated student of this University; I have observed every step he has taken, and I can assert, with truth and emphasis, that he has never taken a retrograde step. His watchword seems always to have been "Onward!" and he has consequently secured the leading position it was, I make no doubt, always his object to arrive at. Nor has he obtained this end in any circuitous or fortuitous fashion. He has tried to deserve his success, and he has gained his success because he has deserved it, and for no other reason. As one of his teachers, I am very proud to have taken part in his education. T regard it as a distinction to have had a share in instructing a man who does such credit to his profession and to his Alma Mater, and I know that my feeling towards him is shared, not only by every other member of the teaching staff of this School, but by the whole brotherhood of Medicine throughout the colony. I point to him as an example to all the other students, past, present, and to come.
In speaking of Professor Allen I cannot forbear expressing myself strongly in deprecation of the treatment he has received at the hands of the Council in connection with the Pathological Museum. This collection had been accumulating for several years at the Melbourne Hospital under his especial direction, for which work he was paid a salary by the Hospital Committee. Believing that its usefulness, and therefore its value, would be increased by its removal to the Medical School of the University, and the Council having expressed a wish that it should be so removed, he, having procured the consent of the Hospital Committee, had it taken thither. The Committee, of course, having no longer any museum to take care of, could not pay a curator, and Professor Allen naturally looked to the Council to continue the salary he had been receiving. But the Council, having got the collection, declined to pay for its superintendence, insisting that Professor Allen's salary, as Professor of Anatomy and Pathology, included any remuneration he might look for as custodian of the museum. After much discussion, they have consented to pay him a douceur, with an understanding that they disavow all obligation for the future, and that the reward of the trouble Professor Allen has taken to benefit the University must be of the mens conscia recti kind. I think there will be no difficulty, in any honourable man's mind, how to define this remarkable proceeding.
In like manner, perhaps, are to be explained the occasional rebuffs administered to the Faculty of Medicine by the Council. The Faculty of Medicine is a body of comparatively recent creation, that is to say, it is only eleven years old; and it is regarded by the Council, therefore, as a rather presumptuous department of the University. It is true that the fourth section of the statute, setting forth the functions of the Faculty, defines its duty to be "the considering, reporting to, and advising the Council upon all questions relating to the studies, lectures, and examinations for degrees in Medicine, and for selecting persons to be reccommended by the Faculty to the Council as qualified for appointment," and so on. Now the Faculty, in their official innocence, have regarded the instructions contained in this statute, as the guide of their conduct, and have, from time to time, "advised" the Council on matters connected with the School. But the Council have sometimes not taken the advice kindly. They have apparently regarded the advice as irreverent, and, to mark their sense of the liberty taken, they have, now and then, adopted a course, as it would seem, opposite to that pointed out to them, and I am not quite sure if the Faculty have fully recognised the salutariness of these inferential rebukes. Indeed, judging from the manner in which the rebukes have been received at the meetings of the Faculty, I am disposed to think that contrition under reproof is not a leading attribute in the corporate mind of the Faculty. Nevertheless, I discover no falling off in the Council's practice of asking for advice, and there are one or two very sanguine members of the Faculty who seriously believe that, some day, the Council will act upon it. With the utmost deference, not to say awe, when speaking to so potential a body as the Council of the University of Melbourne, I would venture to suggest that it would be more convenient, and certainly easier, to remit most medical questions to the Faculty, instead of appointing medical committees in the Council, which committees, for various reasons, may not deal with the matters so exhaustively as the Faculty would.
As may readily be supposed, the course of study pursued in the School, although originally framed with great care, has been, from time to time, modified as circumstances have made necessary. During last year, the curriculum underwent a complete revision, after experiencing close criticism. When, at last, it became the law of the University, it was acknowledged to be a complete scheme, for it included every branch of study, general and special, required to confer a thorough knowledge of Medicine. By some it might be pronounced to be too exacting, by others too exhausting. The object of the framers was to provide a mode of testing, but not of perplexing the candidate. It is said to be too technical, but it is hard to see how such a course of study can be too technical. One special requirement, however, is now insisted upon, namely, clinical knowledge. The candidate must have learnt in a hospital how to recognise and how to treat disease, and, therefore, there is now more adequate provision made for bedside instruction. For many years the reproach has been flung at the School that it did not include instruction of this kind, and that the student only learnt the art of diagnosis in a desultory manner. This is true to some extent. The University has no control over the Hospital, and even the Hospital Committee has shown no disposition to further the interest of the University, but has manifested a positive antagonism and dislike to it. The medical staff for the most part have not been unwilling to teach students, but the clinical teaching has been given as it suited their convenience, and it is only by giving himself up to that part of his instruction, that a student can hope to secure it. Now, however, this is to be altered; but the system can never be complete till the University has the power, not only to appoint its own clinical teachers, but also of electing them to the medical staff of the Hospital. No doubt the absolute separateness of the Hospital and the University has helped, not a little, to promote the antagonism between the two institutions. When, thirty years ago, the scheme of the Medical School was first mooted, it was urged by some that it ought to be a part of the Hospital, that, in fact, like the schools in the old country, it should grow out of the Hospital, and be identified with it. This plan not being adopted, it was then hoped that as the School was not blended with the Hospital, a Hospital might be added to the School; and when the Alfred Hospital was first contemplated, it was proposed to build it on the ten acres south of the School, facing Madeline-street. In my opinion, there is no reason why this should not have been done, and despite the opposition of the City Council, a section of the Hospital Committee, and the Government, I am satisfied that this would be a suitable site for the new Melbourne Hospital.
It will be expected, and very properly, that I should say something about the admission of young women to the medical classes of this school. Six applications from young women have been made to be so admitted, and the Council have resolved that the applications shall be allowed. I do not propose, therefore, at this moment to discuss, at any length, the principle of women engaging in medical practice. It has for many years been a debatable question, and it is by no means settled yet, for all that some women in Europe and America have graduated in Medicine, and are understood to be engaged in the successful practice of it. On the expediency of women studying Medicine, there are, as I need hardly say, very diverse opinions, and these opinions have, from time to time, been expressed with much unnecessary warmth on both sides. Nobody in these days of social change will deny the perfect right of a young woman to study anything she pleases, but when we are told by the strong advocates of this right, that medical women are an absolute necessity, I take leave to enter my dissent from such an assumption. It is contended that a certain class of diseases to which women are liable, can be properly dealt with only by women, and that women so suffering will prefer to suffer rather than consult a medical man. Against this assertion I offer the replies I have received to questions I have put to women, as to their preference of their own sex or otherwise, and they have all told me that they have more confidence in a medical man than a medical woman. I am aware of the possible objection to this statement, that my own experience may represent only a small proportion of the general preference. I give it, however, for what it is worth, but with a strong belief, nevertheless, that it samples the average feminine opinion on the subject. It is not, however, to this part of the question that I am now addressing myself. I will assume it as proved, that there exists a necessity for medical women, and that, therefore, the demand necessitates a supply. It has then to be considered in what way the education of medical women is to be conducted, and, at once, I insist that, if we are to regard women as equal in intelligence and intellectual capacity to men—and I for one do so regard them—then there is no escape from the necessity of their going through exactly the same educational process as men do. Any attempt to admit women to the medical profession by the side-door of less exacting conditions, could result only in procuring for them a position of inferiority, which would be unjust to themselves, and dangerous to those whom they might have to treat. I think the prospective medical woman admits this. She has too much self-respect, and too lively a consciousness of her social rights, to accept a qualification which would not be as complete as that possessed by her male compeer. We have, then, to consider how far it is practicable or desirable to teach mixed classes. Here, also, there is some difference of opinion, and in a communication addressed by the Council of this University to the Faculty of Medicine, requesting this latter body to frame regulations for the teaching of female medical students, it is apparently assumed that mixed classes of male and female students are not possible. The reply of the Faculty to that communication has not yet been made public, but as it is intended to be published, I do not think I am betraying any confidence, in saying that a majority of the Faculty have decided that no special regulations are required; but that if the Council insist upon such exceptional regulations being framed, it will involve a very large addition to the existing outlay in the Medical School. It will be seen, therefore, that this matter of details in the curriculum is not yet settled as between the Council and the Faculty. In the meantime, it is open for us to inquire, if in any subject of the medical course, separate classes are necessary 1 It is admitted, on all sides, that every subject must be learned, without any reservation, by young women equally with young men, and it is not less certain that the teachers of these subjects to women must be men, at any rate for some time to come. But when it is proposed that the class to which the subjects are taught shall consist of persons of both sexes, it is discovered that objections on the score of delicacy forbid it. I trust to be pardoned for dealing with this matter somewhat plainly; but as I could not well admit alluding to it, and as it would be only false modesty to evade the real point at issue, namely, that of the mixed classes, I therefore make this mention of it. For my own part, I cannot perceive any absolute or abstract indelicacy in male and female students listening together to a lecture upon any scientific subject, if only it be regarded, and I think it may be so regarded, in the cold light of science. It is a very old aphorism, but it contains a perpetual truth, that "to the pure all things are pure," and it is equally incontrovertible that while there is a soul of goodness in all things evil, it is possible to discover evil in things essentially good. It is not a little curious, however, that while it is insisted that women-students shall be taught in separate classes, when studying medicine in a medical school, it is never regarded as necessary to segregate them when they go to learn the duties of a nurse in hospitals. There they mix freely with the other sex, and are present at all manner of operations, without being considered to forego, in the very least, their claim to be considered pure-minded women; and it is I think at least as possible to preserve this attribute of pure-mindedness in the lecture-room as in the wards of a hospital, and the operating-theatre. And I may be permitted to say, that I have sufficient confidence in the manliness and chivalry of the young-men-students of this School, to be quite sure that they would comply with all the obligations towards their fellow female students which the most fastidious propriety might require.
In speaking of the Medical School, it is right that I should say that part of the objection of parents to send their sons to it has arisen from the belief that its degrees were not recognised in Great Britain. This objection, however, now no longer exists, as the amended Medical Act of Great Britain provides for the registration of the degrees of Colonial Universities. Our diplomas are not now under a ban of inferiority, so that the alleged reason for going to Europe to study Medicine is set aside. Federation with the old country is accomplished at least so far.
To the students now present I would offer a few words of congratulation and counsel. At the opening of the Medical School in 1863 there were three students; now there are over 200. They may congratulate themselves, therefore, upon being associated with an institution that is evidently prosperous. A further evidence of this prosperity is that, during the past year, the fees paid by medical students amounted to upwards of £4000—a sum far in excess of that received from the students of all the other departments. In addition to this sum, it is estimated that during the present year £964 will be obtained from the fees for hospital practice. In the face of these facts, it must be admitted that any parsimony of the Council in dealing with the Medical School, would be the extreme of ungraciousness.
Finally, let me express my thanks to the Faculty for having chosen me to deliver an address at this commencement of the twenty-sixth year of our academic life, and to express a hope that the vitality and vigour of the Medical School of the Melbourne University may go on increasing, year by year, until its fame is as great as that of those schools on the other side of the world, which, through centuries of thought, labour, and accumulated experience, have associated themselves with all that is good and useful in the science, which has conferred so many blessings on mankind.
- ↑ Since this address was delivered, Dr. Brownless has been chosen Chancellor, an honour he has thoroughly earned.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.