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The charge was indeed a weighty one,
both externally and internally ; for in
spite of general respect, the medical
corporation, like most privileged bodies,
had active enemies. Every two years
a fresh election took place on the first
Saturday after All Saints'. The dean
deposed the insignia of his dignity and
gave a report of the state of affitirs to

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2%0 Jncieni Facul^ of Paru.

the assembled doctors, who, as usual
on all solemn occasions, had previously
attended mass. All their names were
then placed in two urns ; one contain-
ing those of the ancients, the other
those of the juniors. The dean shook
the urns, and drawing three names
from the first and two from the second,
proclaimed them aloud. The five doc-
tors thus chosen bj lot as electors, and,
as such, themselves ineligible, swore
to nominate the worthiest, and retired
to the chapel to implore the divine aid.
Thej then elected by a majority of
their number three doctors, two an-
cients and one junior. Amidst solemn
silence, the dean once more drew the
lot, and the name which came forth
was proclaimed dean for the next two
years. The professors, who for long
years were but two in number, were
also chosen biennially, and by a simi-
lar combination of lot and election.
Some good must have arisen from the
liability under which every practition-
er of the medical art lay of being caUed
on to teach it« Another not unwise
regulation was that which, reversing
the order observed in the case of the
dean, placed in the professional urn
two junior names against one ancient.
Long practice of teaching is apt to
wear out the powers of the most able.
Considering the times, the elements of
instruction were abundantly supplied.
The bachelors were not permitted to do
more than comment upon and expound
the ancients, and their programme was
furnished to them. The professors
took the higher and more original
branches ; they alone could dogmatize
from the great pulpit of the amphithe-
atre (ex superiore ccUhedrd). The
teaching embraced, according to the
quaint phraseology of the day : 1. nat-
tnral tlungs, viz., anatomy and physiol-
ogy; 2. non-natural things — hygiene
and dietetics ; 3. things contrary to na-
ture — ^pathology and therapeutics. In
the year 1634 a course of lectures on
surgery, delivered in Latin, and exclu-
sively for the medical students, was
added — a practical course of surgery
in French already existed for the bar-

ber apprentices ; and the faculty begaa
to perceive that if they would keep their
supremacy over the barber-surgeons,
it would be as well to know as much
as their disciples.

The oath taken by the professors is
remarkable, especially the exordium :
" We swear and solemnly promise to
give our lessons^ in long gowns with
wide sleeves, having the square cap (m
our heads, and the scarlet scarf on our
shoulders." This we see' was their
first duty. Their second engagement
was to give their lessons uninterrupt-
edly, and never by deputy, save in case
of urgent necessity; each lecture to
last an hour at least, and to be deliver-
ed daily, except in vacation time, which
extended from the vigil of St. Peter
and St. Paul, the 28th of June, to that
of the exaltation of the cross, the 13th
of September, and on festival days,
which were pretty numerous, including
also certain other solemnities, as well
as the. vigils of the greater feasts, when
the schools were closed, causa canfes-
noniSf as the statutes have it

Practical instruction was much more
meagre than the oral, but this is hard-
ly to be imputed as a fault Anatomy
cannot be learned except by dissection,
and no bodies but those of crimmaLs
were procurable. The faculty had to
look to crime to help on its progress
in this study. When an execution
took place, the dean received formal
notice, and convoked the doctors and
students on the occasion " to make an
anatomy," as it was called. When
the faculty was at peace with the sur-
geons, the latter were favored with an
invitation. By a strange prejudice,
theory and practice, as we have noticed,
were kept distinct The learned pro-
fessor would have demeaned himself
by becommg an operator, while the
acting surgeon was condemned to be a
mere intelligent machine, and was for-
mally interdicted from being initiated
in the higher mysteries of i^e profes-
sion. It was a barber who generally
filled this inferior office, and he not
unfrequently would display more know-
lodge than his masters ; for which of-

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Tie Ancienl Faeuky of Paris.


fcooe he was sore to be seyerelj repri-
manded* ^ Doctor non $inat dUtecto*
rem diva^ari^ sed conHneat in officio
dissecandi** — ^"Let not the doctor suf-
fer the dLssector to straj beyond his
province, but keep him to his dutj of
diBBecting.'* This is one of the rules
lud down in the statutes. He was to
work on and hold his tongue. But
not only was the barber condemned to
silenoe— abard sentence, some will say,
on one of his loquacioub profession —
but he was to receire no pay. For
remuneration he was to look to his
brethren of the ra2sor. There were
more facilities for the study of botany
than for any other practical branch of
the medical science. Beside the gar-
den m the Bue de la B^cherie, the doc-
ton had afterward the use of the Jar-
din Royal founded by Richelieu ; and
these advantages do not seem to have
been by any means neglected. Clini-
eal instruction was peculiarly defective.
Absorbed by erudition, philosophy, and
the Intenninable disquisitions of the
schools, our medical forefathers seem
to have forgotten that experimental
knowledge can be obtained only by the
bedside of the sick. Most of the stu-
dents had never seen a single patient
before they reached the honors of the
bapifalaureat. After this they attached
themselves to some doctor, whom they
followed on his rounds, in order to
learn the application of what they had
theoretically mastered, and were by him
introduced to his clients, much as was
the practice in the days of ancient
Rome. The poor sufferer's room was
thos not unfrequently turned into a
pedantic lecture-halL We instinctively
recall to mind Molifere's two Diafoiru-
M8y father and son, stationing them-
selves each on one side of the unhappy
patient, and discoursing in pompous
medical phraseology of the character of
faui pulse and of the humors of his body.*
The practical and, as such, the most
importantdeportmentof m^ical science
received, it must be confessed, the least

Ihirhiiculs^ repouasarU, €t mime ten jm»

^nniy »* VintemperU de eon parenehyme

et PHat <fo see mkUe eMidoquee.**

attention. All the prises, whether of
honor or emolument, which the future
held out, tended to concentrate zeal and
emulation qn dialectics. It seemed as
if the medical art were designed for the
benefit of the doctors rather than the
doctored, and that it was of more im-
portance to be able to descant learnedly
upon a malady than to cure it. To
figure advantageously at one of those
solemn public sittings of the medical
body, which were often graced with the
presence of members of the high aris-
tocracy and of the magisterial body ;
to be able to deliver a briUiant harangue,
and confound an opponent by a well-
timed and well-chosen quotation— *
such was the highest ambition of the
student To preside with distinction
over the discussion of a thesis — such
was the battle-field on which the doc-
tof hoped to win his laurels. If he ac-
quitted himself with applause, he had
gained a victory which raised him high-
er in his own esteem, and in that of
the world at large, than the most suc-
cessful practice of his profession could
possibly do. The first two articles of
the statutes contain this spirit in a con-
densed form, and may be regarded as
the abridged decalogue of the faculty,
summing up their duty toward God
and toward man : 1. the divine offices
shall be celebrated with the customary
forms, and in the usual places, at the
same hours and on the same days as
heretofore; 2. the medical students
shall frequently attend pubHo disputa-'
tions and dissertations.

The process through which the stu-
dent had to pass in order to make his
way to his degree of licentiate was a
trying ordeal. The examination for
the bachelor's degree, after a few pre-
vious solemnities, including the usual
attention first to religion, next to dress
and formal state, lasted a week, during
which the candidate might be question-
ed not only by the regular examiners
on the usual round of the natural, the
non-natural, and the unnatural, but by
any doctor present, each having the
right to propose a certain number of
questions. In conclusion, the aspirant

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I%e Ancient Faculty of Paris.

bad to comment on some aphorism of
Hippocrates. When the examiners
gave in their report, votes were taken,
and a favorable majority, secured to
the aspirant his degree. The new
bachelors swore to keep the honorable
secrets, and observe ail the practices,
customs, and statutes of the tacultj ; to
pay homage to the dean ani to all the
masters ; to aid the faculty against all
opponents and all illicit practitioners,
and to submit to the punishments
which it might inflict; to assist in
gown at all the masses ordered by the
fiiculty, coming in at least before the
epistle, and remaining till the end;
and, finally, to assist at all the aca-
demic exercises and disputations of the
schools during two years, where they
were to maintain some theses on medi-
cme or hygiene, observing good order
and decorum in conducting their argu-

Their great ordeal was now to come.
One is amazed to read of the succes-
sion of tilts they had to run in the in-
tellectual tourney of these two proba-
tionary years ; how from St. Martin
to the Carnival they had to maintain,
always in fall dress and before a lar^e
assembly, their gtiodlibetary* theses of
physiology or medicine ; how from
Ash- Wednesday to vacation time it
was the turn of the Cardinal theses,
so called firom their institution by
Cardinal d'Estoutteville. These chiefly
related to hygienic questions. It is
from among these latter that most of
those puerile and absurd queries have
been extracted which have drawn
down so much ridicule on the faculty.
It is scarcely possible to imagine that
snch questions as the following can have
been intended for serious discussion:
Are heroes the children of heroes?
Are they bilious ? Is it good to get
drunk once a month ? Is woman an im-
perfect work of nature ? Is sneezing
a natural act ? It is only fair, how-
ever, to remember that by far the
greater number of the subjects pro-
posed were of a very different chsirac*
ter, and such as might profitably be
* Bo called becanse selected at pleatnre.

considered at the present day. Bat if
the frequent occurrence of these intel-
lectual jousts was trying to the com-
batant^ their interminable length was
perfectly appalling. From six o'clock
to eight he had to stand a preliminary
skirmish with the bachelors. For the
next three hours he had to encounter
nine doctors, who successively entered
the lists, each bringing his fresh vigor
to bear on the exhausted candidate.
The sitting ended with a general as-
sault, in which all present had liberty
to take a share and overwhelm the
poor bachelor with a very hail-storm
of interrogatories, to which he had to
reply smgle-handed. During the
Cardinal tibeses the debate was still
hotter and more prolonged. From
five in the morning till midday, the
candidate was plied with questions by
the bachelors, all ready to pounce upon
him at the slightest flaw in his argu-
ment or the merest slip of his tongue.
As a climax of cruelty, during the
quodlibetary examinations he was bound
to furnLsh his persecutors with refresh-
ment in an adjoining apartment, of
which he alone was forbidden to par-
take. The sound of the great clock
strikmg twelve mast have been a joy-
ful reprieve to the athlete in the ring ;
the wonder is that any constitutioii
could stand the probationary two years
during which this process was ener-^
getically kept up.

At the close of this period the can-
didates were subjected to private ex-
amination before the doctors, in order
to ascertain their practical capacity
and personal qualifications for exer-
cising the medical art. Great strict-
ness prevailed on all pomts which
nearly concerned the honor and inters
ests of the faculty ; and if the candi-
date had ever practiced any mannal
art, including surgery, he was bound
on oath to renounce it for tlte future.
Then followed a separate private ex-
amination by each individual doctor as
to a thousand personal details affecting
the competence of the applicant. A
secret scrutiny then decided on the ad-
missibility, not as yet the admissioni of

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7^ Ancient Faadty of Paris.


the candidates to the honors and priv-
ileges of actual members of the faculty.
The spirit of the old days was preserv-
ed even in the seventeenth century,
and the licentiates had to receive
ecclesiastical sanction and a quasi-or-
dination. They proceeded accordingly
in procession to the house of the chan-
cellor of the academy, to whom they
were presented by the dean, who, on
their request, fixed a day for their re-
ception. This form was one of the
most cherished traditions of the uni-
versity. Gallican as was the spirit of
that body, it gloried in. tracing its priv-
ileges and constitution to the Holy
See ; a cheap homage, which entailed
DO inconvenience, and of which at
times it knew how to avail itself in its
contests with the king and the parlia-
ment The chancellor, who was a
canon of the metropolitan see of Paris,
bad long enjoyed sovereign jurisdiction
over the schoDk ; and although in the
seventeenth century his power was
purely nominal, no one disputed his
right upon this occasion to represent
the sovereign Pontiff, the supreme
teacher of the Catholic world. Other
curious ceremonies attended the solemn
admittal to the licentiate. All the
high functionaries of state, and other
important personages, were invited to
attend the schools on an appointed day,
in order to learn from the paranymph
the names and titles of the medical
practitioners whom the faculty were
about to present to the city — ^nay, to
the whole world: *^ Quos^ qucdes, et
quat medicos urin, cUqus adeo unioeno
oMy medtcorum coUegium isto hiennio
sit suppedilaturum." The paranymph,
as is well known, was, among the
Greeks, the friend of the bride^^om,
who accompanied him in his chariot
when he went to fetch home the bride.
Now it was held that the new licentiate
was about to espouse the faculty, much
as the Doge of Venice married the
sea. The friend of the spouse, the
paranymph, was in fact the dean, who
presented the young spouses to the
chancellor with a complimentary ad-
dress. That dignitary invited the

assembly to repair on a fixed day to
the great archieplscopal hall, which
upon this occasion was thrown open to
all the notabilities of the capital, who
attended to add honor to the solemnity.
Then the list of the candidates was
read out in their order of merit, as pre-
viously decided after a strict inquiry
by the doctors. They immediately
fell on their knees, bareheaded, in an
attitude of deep recollection, to receive
the apostolic benediction given by the
chancellor in these terms: ^ Auctori*
tote Sctnetm Sedis Apos'olicce, qud
fwngoT in hoc parte, do tibi licentium
legendi, interpretandi, et faciendi med-
icinam hie et uhique terrarunij in
nomine PatriSy et Filiij et Spiritus
SanctiJ* A question was then pro-
posed by this dignitary to the licenti-
ate first in the order of merit, who was
bound to give proof of his competency
fcy solving it on the spot. As the
chancellor was not a doctor, and as the
assembly was miscellaneous, this query
was usually religious or literary, and,
to judge from the recorded questions,
rather curious and subtle than profit-
able. The whole assembly forthwith
repaired in a body to the cathedral to
tliank our Blessed Lady for the happy
conclusion of a work begun under her
auspices. With his hand stretched
over the altar of the martyrs, the
chancellor murmured a short prayer,
the purport of which was calculated to
remind the newly-elected that, belong*
ing henceforth as they did specially to
the Church, they ought to be prepared to
sacrifice themselves in all thln<;s, even
to their very life : tuque ad effusionem
sanguinis. It depended entirely upon
the licentiates themselves whether or
no they were ultimately decorated with
the doctor's cap, which conferred the
full privileges at once of the medical
corporation and of the university to
which it belonged ; and although a
few, from modesty or other causes, de-
clined to aim at this honor, with by far
the greater number it was the conse-
quence and complement of the licenti-
ate. The degree of licentiate intro-
duced the recipient to the public ; t|iat

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The Ancient FacuJlXy of Parie.

of doctor admitted him into the very
sanctuary of the faculty. Accordingly
it was conferred, not less ceremoni-
ously, but more privately. It was, so
to say, a family affair. Although, as
we have said, there was no further ex-
amination respecting medical compe-
tency, another minute inquiry was
made into the life and morals of the
applicant, which was followed, if the
scrutiny proved satisfactory, by a pre-
paratory act called the Vesperie, be-
cause it took place in the afternoon.
At this sitting, the president addressed
the candidate in a solemn discourse,
intended to impress him with a high
tiense of the dignity of the healing art,
and of the maxims of honor and prob-
ity which ought to guide its professors.
The ordeal of questions was not alto-
gether closed ; for we find the president
proposing a query, and entering into a
discussion with the candidate, who had
tihus still something to undergo before
he passed on from the class of the
questioned to the more enviable rank
of the questioners.

Upon the great day, the doctor in
posse, precededby the mace-bearers and
bachelors, with the president on his left,
and followed by the doctors in esse se-
lected to argue with him, proceeded to
the hall of the great school. The grand
apparitor then addressed him thus:
** Sir candidate for the doctorate, be-
fore you are initiated, you have to
take three oaths,'* — ^^Domine dodo-
rcmde, antequam incipieis, kahes tria
furamerUa/' The three oaths were:

1. to observe the rights, statutes, laws,
and venerable customs df the faculty ;

2. to assist the day following the feast
of St Luke at the mass for deceased
doctors ; 8. to combat with all his
strength against the illicit pmctition-
ers of medicine, whatever might be
their rank or their condition in life.
**Will you swear to observe these
things ?•• — ^ Vis ista jurare V — asked
the grand apparitor; and the candi-
date replied with that memorable
Juro ("I sweai") which was Mo-
Ii^re*8 last word.* The president,

* The great eomlc dnmaUit played the part of

after a brief address, turned to-
ward him with the doctorial square
cap in his hand, and making with it
the sign of the cross in the air, placed
it ' on the head of the candidate, to
which he then administered a slight
blow with two of his fingers, and forth-
with bestowed upon him the accolade.
The recipient was now duly dubbed
doctor. He made immediate use of
his new powers by asking a question
of one of the doctors present. The
president had then a tilt with the doc-
tor who had presided at the Vesperie,
and the sitting was closed by the new
doctor's delivering a discourse of
thanksgiving to God, to the faculty^
and to his friends and relations pres-
ent. The statutes enjoin that this
speech should be elegant. We may
conceive that the notion of elegance
entertained by the faculty differed con-
siderably from that which the word
suggests to^ our minds. On the St.
Martin's Day following the recently-
chosen doctor did the honors of his
new grade by' presiding over a quod"
Uhetary thesis. This was a sort of
bye-day, being out of course. It was
called the " acte pastlUaire,** in allu-
sion probably to the sugary wafers
presented to the dean stamped with
his likeness, or to the homhons^ of
which there was a general distribution
on the occasion. The next day the
new doctor was entered on the regis-
ters, and took his place on the junior
bench for ten years.

Every one must be struck with the
dose resemblance which the famous
ceremony in Moli^re's Malade Bnagi"
noire bears to those scholastic solem-
nities. Who, indeed, would now re-
member these antiquated customs of
an age ft^m which we are drifting
more rapidly in habits of thought and

Argan on the flrvt repreaentatlon of his plaj of
the MalwU Imaginaire^ now always pernMineA
on the anniversary of his death. He Bad prob-
ably long had within him the seeds of a mortal
complaiut; and after prononnclng the void
JvTO in his character of Bachelor of Medicine
taking his degree, which Is the sobjecl of th»
fitmons ceremonial ballet soeceeding the coae-
dy, he was seised with a sajfocatlng atUck, and
left the playhooae only to explro ahortly after-

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T%s Ancient Faeulip of Parts*


in manners than even the stream of
time is carrying as, if the comic
dramatist had not conferred upon
tbem the immortality of ridicule?
Yet it maj well be questioned if it were
not for Moli^re's ludicrous picture,
from which we have formed our no-
tions and judgment of the old faculty,
whether, did we now for the first time
discover in some old forgotten docu-*
ment the record of these proceedings,
our impression might not beVidely
different ; whether we m%ht not see as
much in them to command our respect
as to provoke us to laughter. Old-
fashioned ways — that is, ways which
no longer reflect the ideas and feelings
of the day — always lend themselves
specially to ridicule. In MoU^re's
time society was beginning to divest
itself of its medisBval garb, and men's
minds were being formed, not always
to their advantage, on a new type.
The old type, however, was so strong-
ly impressed on the medical corpora-
tion—in which the traditionary spirit
was peculiarly powerful — that the garb,
which^ as we know, follows rather than
precedes a change, still sat naturally
on the venerable body of doctors. So
entirely was this the case, that where,
as individuals, they were more or less
under the influence of the Spirit of
the day, in their professional capacity
they had as it were a second self,
dinging tenaciously in all that con-
cerned the faculty to ancient ideas
and forms. Of this combination the
well-known Guy Patin, to whom we
may hereafter have occasion to allude,
was a curious example. It is difficult
to look upon men performing acts, to
^em most serious, however absurd in
oar eyes, as purely ridiculous. As-
suredly they have their respectable
side. Neither ia it easy to believe
tiiat aU these good doctors, indefatig-
. able as we have seen them, and en-
thusiastically devoted as they were to
their calling, were all such pedantic
idiots as Moli^re has painted them.
It is a well-known fact that the inim-
itable piece of buffoonery to which
we have alluded was c(mcocted in the

salon of Madame de la Sabli^re, a
noted rendezvous of the *^ beaux es-
prM* of the day. Moli^re furnished
the canvas and laid-in the colors of
the first painting; but his witty
friends had each some lively touch to
contribute. It is probable that two
or three of the medical' profession —
men who were more or less sceptical
as to the perfection of every saying
and d6ing of the faculty, and with
whom Moli^re is known to have lived
in habits of intimacy — were present
at these meetings, and supplied many
of the technical expressions. It does
not follow thafr these physicians were
actuated by any spite against their
order, any more than Cervantes hated
chivalry, to which, while quizzing its
eccentricities and exaggerations, he
unwittingly gave a fatal blow.

One remark forcibly suggests itself,
when we consider the hyperbolical
praise which the medical body so lib-
erally administered to itself, and with
which Molidre has made us familiar
in passages of his comedies which can
scarcely be considered as caricatures.
We are apt severely to censure as
grossly servile and almost idolatrous

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