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Download Disease, Medicine and Society in England, 1550–1860 by Roy Porter PDF

By Roy Porter

In his brief yet authoritative research, Roy Porter assesses the effect of sickness at the English ahead of the common availability and public provision of treatment, incorporating into the revised version new views provided by way of fresh study. He examines the scientific occupation, attitudes to medical professionals and disorder, and the improvement of kingdom involvement in public overall healthiness. Drawing jointly a lot fragmentary fabric and supplying a close bibliography, this booklet is a vital advisor to the background of medication and to English social background.

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In twenty years Thomas Sutton and his sons, common provincial surgeons, claimed to have performed a staggering 300,000 inoculations, bringing an annual income of several thousand pounds. Even luckier was Thomas Dimsdale. A country physician who had made inoculation his forte, he was invited in 1768 to St Petersburg by Catherine the Great to inoculate her and her son. His reward was £10,000, plus £2000 expenses and an annuity of £500 [76; 104). In fact, various new routes to fame and fortune were opening for the medics.

Although the nation boasted a few great medical scientists- of whom William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood, and the astute clinician, Thomas Sydenham, are amongst the most eminent - the professional elite had more enemies than friends, and was accused of being monopolistic and self-serving without being able to offer correspondingly successful medical care. Neither the College of Physicians nor the Company of Surgeons did much for medical education or research (the Royal Society, chartered in 1662, was initially somewhat more energetic, staging the first experimental blood transfusions).

The mighty can do no more, and the wise seldom do as much. [94] It is perhaps revealing that, up to the end of the seventeenth century, physicians were not routinely present at life's two greatest crises, birth and death. Traditional child-birth was a 'women only' occasion, attended by midwives and 'gossips' (that is, friends and neighbours) but not, except in emergencies, by medical practitioners [9]. Death-beds were similar. The humane doctor would tactfully tell his patients that they were dying, to give them time to put their affairs in order, and, acknowledging that there was no more for him to do, would retire, leaving the last hours to the family and perhaps a clergyman.

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