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** Tu major, tibi me est æquum parere, Menalca."
“ Fidis offendar medicis ? irascar amicis ?”
FIRST PRINTED IN 1720.
· RIGHT OF PRECEDENCE
PHYSICIANS AND CIVILIANS,
I HAVE waited hitherto with no little impatience, to see some good effect of that debate, which I thought was happily started at a late meeting of our university *, upon the subject of precedence between professors of law and physick. And, though I cannot join in opinion with the worthy gentleman who first moved in it, I must needs say, the motion was seasonable, and well became him : for, beside that he intended an honour to a faculty he was promoted above it, and was so self-denying as to wave all debates of that nature as long as he was a party concerned in the motion, he did what in him lay to put an end, by authority, tò a point in controversy, which had long divided the gentlemen of those two faculties; and I am very much místaken if the same
* Trinity College, Dublin.
+ Some eminent civilian, probably, who had recently received prefermente si sono m. in.
person does not hereafter prove as much a friend to piery and learning in his other designs, as he has been already in this, to the peace and agreement of learned men.
But, to my great disappointment, little more has been said upon the subject, since the first debate, than what has been argued in private, more for the entertainment of single gentlemen, than the use and information of mankind. I have heard that the matter is brought to a compromise; and professors in both faculties have agreed to yield precedence to one another, according to their standing and the date of their commencement.
But this to me appears no satisfactory way of deçiding a point of such importance. And, to speak freely, it is but drawing a skin over a wound, and giving it a face of a soundness ; when there lies filth and purulence within, which will another time break out with more pain and greater danger. .
The time is approaching, when it will be proper once more to bring this affair upon the carpet; and I am humbly of opinion, that the point is of such consequence, that it ought not to subside, as it has done of late ; it should neither rest upon that slight baffle it received at its first appearance in publick, nor be hushed up in silence, under the pretence of any private accommodation, which the parties concerned have since come to, for the sake of civility and good manners in company.
I am one of those who love peace upon a good foundation, and do, for that reason, no less admire truth, upon which alone a lasting peace, can be founded. And, as I am qualified to introduce this matter at the next meeting of our university, and
fully determined to do so, I thought it reasonable to give this friendly notice to all parties, that they study the point, and make themselves masters of it, and give it so thorough a canvassing in what manner they think fit, as to leave no room for exception and wrangling when the question comes to be solemnly debated in that assembly.
But, before I come to the merits of the cause it. self, you must give me leave to make one observation in the way, concerning the importance of precedence in general; which may prove of singular use to mankind, who are for the most part unapprised of it.
As I remember there fell a very rash expression from a certain gentleman (with whom it is not usualto be unguarded) who appeared an advocate for physicians, when the motion was first made to thrust them from their place. He was pleased to call it a womanish debate, if I took him right; but, as much a friend as I am to his person and cause, I will not follow him in that opinion; and will farther say, the expression was mean, and beneath the dignity of his character. There is an unkind reflection couched in it upon a sex, by which much of the decencies of life and little morals are supported ; and it does not agree with that taste of gallantry which he is thought to have, and is very consistent with his profession; and is even ungrateful in a man of that faculty, which is more in favour with the ladies than any other except divinity.
But, not to insist upon this, I cannot think as that expression implies, that the matter is at all beneath the consideration of the greatest and most learned of men. On the contrary, I think the question