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Numerous introductory lectures were
delivered in the various hospitals of London
on the first and third days of October, at the
commencement of the winter session. I have
been reading them, and desire leave, as an
apothecary of the world, to add one more
lecture to the number. Prelections to the
student let there always be. Fill his mind
with a sense of the duties he will take upon
himself when he becomes practitioner of
physic. But I am very strongly of opinion
that there is an oration due also to the
patients upon whom he is hereafter to
practise, and I ask permission forthwith to
discharge the debt.

Ladies and gentlemen, the lecture-rooms
of the medical schools in this metropolis are
now filled with young men well or ill
prepared for study; hopeful or careless, sensible
or silly; who will by very different paths
arrive at the priyilege of bleeding, blistering
or bandaging your persons. Respectable
individuals who are hereafter to select for
themselves doctors from among these young
men, will make their choice. Every one of
them will, I have no doubt, take care to
place himself or herself in the hands of a
respectable practitioner. What does that
mean? Am I respectable, for instance?

My own secret opinion is that I am not.
I attend a great many families who keep my
purse in health while I keep them in physic.
I dress in black, wear spectacles, am rather
bald, and keep a brougham; but I am a
humbug, if my conscience is not very much
deceived. I could not help it, and I cannot
alter it. To make such a confession in my
own name would felo de se, and I have no
right to do it. Anonymously, however, I can
venture to be candid.

The truth is that I know very little indeed
about my profession. As a student, at the
opening of three successive sessions, I was
warmed a little by my teachers into good
designs of study; but I was so fond of pleasure
that I could accomplish very little indeed. I
had a youth's relish for fun, and a youth's
disrelish for labour. Not that I was
absolutely idle. I attended a very fair number of
lectures, slurred over a good many "parts"
in the dissecting room, went round with the
physicians and the surgeons to the bedsides;
but I did not fix attention properly on
anything or anybody that meant work. I was
not by any means the idlest fellow at St.
Poultice's, and I do not think that there was
any active harm in me. I was quiet enough
to be thought well of by the lecturers, and
to be considered quite respectable, and better
than an average St. Poultice man, even in those
days of initiation. It was often thought that
I could easily have taken honours in some
classes had I tried for them. When the time
came for passing my examinations at the
Hall and College, I grew rather nervous; for
I knew myself so well, as to be quite sure
that my attainments would not bear a close
investigation. My nervousness was tempered
by a spring of hope arising from two sources:
One was the knowledge that at the
College of Surgeons the examination (which
was only on two subjects) would last but for
an hour; during which I should be cut into
four quarters and divided among four sets of
examiners, each of whom would have little
civilities to say at starting, and might spend
even as much, I trusted, as five minutes
a-piece over them, in consideration of the
fact that they all knew, and would think it
polite to ask after, my father.

At the Hall, my hope lay in the fact
concerning the examining apothecaries, that
each of them was supposed to keep sets of
examinations, got up by him as an actor gets
up parts. Every such line of business was
known, and taught publicly to me and to my
fellow pupils during our hospital walking
time by certain gentlemen called grinders;
who also kept duplicates of all the drug bottles
exhibited in trays on the examination tables.
They also in those daysI do not know how it
may be noweven contrived to get from
Chelsea gardens, on the morning of examination,
duplicates of all the plants that had been
sent down to Blackfriars on the previous
evening, to be named by candidates for the
apothecaries' license. The Hall, therefore, could
be passed after grinding for a few months
without any previous study. I ground at
second-hand; borrowing the notes and
information gathered by a friend who was himself
in attendance on a grinder. Yet I passed; I
went through the Surgeons' with a flourish.
In justice to the Apothecaries I should say