Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Trollope on a "learned profession"

From the third of his Barsetshire Novels, "Dr. Thorne." Of possible use in Professional Responsibility when the subject of "professionalism" and its many senses arises.

Then also, Dr. Thorne, though a graduated physician, though entitled beyond all dispute to call himself a doctor, according to all the laws of the colleges, made it known to the East Barsetshire world, very soon after he had seated himself at Greshamsbury, that his rate of pay was to be seven-and-sixpence a visit within a circuit of five miles, with a proportionately increased charge at proportionately increased distances. Now there was something so low, mean, unprofessional, and democratic in this; so, at least, said the children of Aesculapius gathered together in conclave at Barchester. In the first place, it showed that this Thorne was always thinking of his money, like an apothecary, as he was; whereas it would have behoved him, as a physician, had he had the feelings of a physician under his hat, to have regarded his own pursuits in a purely philosophical spirit, and to have taken any gain which might have accrued as an accidental adjunct to his station in life. A physician should take his fee without letting his left hand know what his right hand was doing; it should be taken without a thought, without a look, without a move of the facial muscles; the true physician should hardly be aware that the last friendly grasp of the hand had been made more precious by the touch of gold. Whereas, that fellow Thorne would lug out half a crown from his breeches pocket and give it in change for a ten-shilling piece. And then it was clear that this man had no appreciation of the dignity of a learned profession. He might constantly be seen compounding medicines in the shop, at the left hand of his front door; not making experiments philosophically in materia medica for the benefit of coming ages – which, if he did, he would have done in the seclusion of his study, far from profane eyes – but positively putting together common powders for rural bowels, or spreading vulgar ointments for agricultural ailments.

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DeGirolami, Marc | Permalink