Jubilee celebrations 1902
Professor Anderson Stuart's address, 2 October 1902
On the morning of Thursday, 2 October 1902, Professor Anderson Stuart, head of the medical school, addressed a large audience in the Harveian theatre at the Medical School, entitled 'The Majority of the Medical School.”
Summary of the Address
Professor Anderson Stuart traced the history of the struggles attending the establishment of the medical school, and the changes which had taken place in the personnel of the staff since the school entered upon its career in a modest four-roomed cottage in a paddock at the rear of the present palatial structure. He stated that the museum of anatomy now possessed 24,000 specimens. Of the 218 graduates who had passed through the medical school 184 had held office as residential medical officers. The lately established dental school was already a pronounced success, there being 31 students in the first and second years. Originally the medical school had only four students. The number had been increased every year, and this year the attendance stood at 204. Altogether the names of 522 students had appeared upon the roll. Of these 207 men and 11 women had graduated, one in every three failing to complete the curriculum. As only 133 out of the 793 practitioners in Sydney were Sydney graduates, there was plenty of room in the profession for locally-trained medical men.
Address in full
To find the origin of the Medical School we must go back to that of the University itself, for, as we shall see, the eventual establishment of a Faculty of Medicine was always contemplated by the founders of the University, and it appears to me impossible that Dr. Henry Orattan Douglass, whose share in founding the University will presently be explained, could have worked so faithfully for the establishment of the University without thinking of his own faculty, as something necessary to its full development and usefulness, and he is the first person of whom it is recorded that he took a step ultimately leading to the foundation of the University.
We learn in a letter, printed for private circulation, written by Mr. Francis Merewether, Chancellor of the University in 1865, that Dr. Douglass had been a resident and an official in the colony, and that he was a physician of long standing, who had practised his profession in France, in which country Mr. Merewether had known him. The Doctor had left the colony for a time, but returned in charge of an immigrant ship, and from that time, Mr. Merewether says, the foundation of a university became apparently the chief object of his thought, and he discoursed on it frequently and earnestly. He says: " Partly because of our former acquaintance, and partly, perhaps, because he found me more sympathetic than most of his hearers, I came in for much of this discourse. He knew that I was in the confidence of the Governor and the Colonial Secretary, and on one occasion he formally asked me to endeavour so far to interest them in the project as to induce them to take action at once. I declined, because I knew well that, though they would both feel great interest in the object, they would, in that stage of the colony's existence, regard any movement in the matter as premature. But I added that if he was in earnest in his desire for immediate action, his best course would be to interest his friend Mr. Wentworth; and I ventured to add, that if Mr. Wentworth could be induced to take the matter up, and gain the necessary support of the Legislature, he would have the support of the Government. Mr. Wentworth did take the matter up warmly, and through his active exertions an Act to Incorporate and Endow the University of Sydney was passed."
The first Senate consisted of 16 Fellows-, nominated by the Governor in 1850. A vacancy having occurred in 1853, Dr. Douglass was elected by the remaining members of the Senate. Why Dr. Douglass was not nominated to the original Senate I have not discovered, but when one reads the account of the quarrel between him and Marsden, as given in Rusdlen's History, and when one learns that the Governor had so much trouble in making up the list of the original Senate, that the passing of the Act of Incorporation was actually, on that account, delayed for a whole year, it is not difficult to imagine that there may have been political motives for the omission of his name; but it is significant that the newly-appointed Senate should have taken the first opportunity of co-opting him. In the same way he was omitted from the first Legislative Council, although the part he had taken in public life justified him in expecting to be included. This omission he felt - though he afterwards did become a member of the Council.
He appears to have been a man of great activity of mind and body, and there were few things of public concern that happened under Governors Brisbane, Darling, and Gipps in which he had not a share. As a young man he was in charge of a regiment in the Peninsular War. Then he saw service in the West Indies until 1812, when he returned to his native Ireland. He now joined a band of philanthropists who sought to ameliorate the condition of prisoners, and was a personal friend of men whose names are well-known in the annals of philanthropy - Fry, Hoare, Gurney, and Allen.
It was this association which brought him to Sydney, where he probably thought he might find an ample field for his zeal and plans. It was he who introduced into the colony the law of limited liability in commercial partnerships, and that which abolished public executions, long before these measures were adopted in the old country. He took a prominent part in the organisation of most of the charitable and educational Institutions of the colony, and his last effort was a project for taking better care of the blind. He was a member of that Building Committee of the Senate which settled the plans of the University and rejected the first design, which was for a brick building with stone facings; and in this connection it is interesting to record, what is known to few, that one of the two coats-of-arms carved on the south side of the Great Hall is that of Dr. Douglass (the usual Douglass arms, man's heart, etc., with motto "Forward"), and on a boss in the stringcourse over it, and on the end of the label mould, are carved his initials, H.G.D. (The other coat-of-arms is that of Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson.) His obituary notice in the Sydney Morning Herald says not a word as to his connection with the University; for that we had to wait 33 years, since Mr. Merewether wrote in 1898. This obituary notice concludes -
To have lived a long and useful life, with no great faults ; to have maintained the reputation of benevolence for half a century, by numberless acts of kindness, daily repeated; to have added something, by cheerfulness of temper, to the pleasures of society; to have enjoyed the confidence of some of the best beings that ever lived on earth, is to have given and enjoyed much compensation whether for good or evil. This was, indeed, the lot of Dr. Douglass, whose cheerful voice and kindly humour and instructive conversation many among us will regret that they will hear no more.
Could that have been written of anything but an uncommon man?
My own attention was directed to Dr. Douglass' name (which is perpetuated by that of Douglass Park, where he resided) by a mere chance conversation with a lady who, in answer to my recent enquiries, writes: "My grievance, and that of Mr. Arthur a'Beckett, and also that of good old John Hubert Plunkett, was that Dr. Douglass was so utterly ignored in all record of the establishment, founding and inauguration of the University, and it was frequently said how much of the burden and heat of Wentworth's day of fame and work concerning the University was borne by Dr. Douglass. It seems to me appropriate that a word or two for one of your own profession should come from you." This word I have now spoken, and these circumstances, with other evidence, seem to show that Dr. Douglass had a great deal to do with the founding of the University, and that it was he who moved Mr. Wentworth to effectual action.
What I have said about Dr. Douglass does not detract from the merit of Mr. Wentworth, who, beyond all question, was the man by whose eloquence the Legislature was moved. But how far Mr. Wentworth was the mouth-piece of public opinion, let him tell in his own words, when moving the second reading of the University Bill. "It is not I, it is not you, who are the originators of this measure: It has origin without these walls - in the depth of public opinion - and we are only the active agents to give that opinion force and effect."
Three other members of the Profession of Medicine had to do with the actual founding and organisation of the new University. One is Sir Charles Nicholson, Bart.; the others were Professor John Smith and the first Registrar, Dr. Richard Greenup.
Sir Charles Nicholson, now almost in his 96th year, arrived in Australia as far back as 1834, and, a Doctor of Medicine of my own university, the University of Edinburgh, he practised his profession in Sydney more or less continuously until 1862, when, having also successfully engaged in the pastoral industry, he returned to England. He was three times Speaker of New South Wales, and was the first Speaker of Queensland. He was not only a member of the original Senate, of which he is the only living member left, but he was also one of the Select Committee of the Legislature appointed to consider the best means of instituting a university, so that he has been connected with the institution from the very commencement of the enterprise.
In the absence of the Provost it fell to him, as Vice-Provost, to deliver the first "annual address" at the opening of the University, in what is now the Grammar School, in Hyde Park, and a great and eloquent speech it was. Soon after this Sir Charles became Provost in name, as he had been in fact, and the Amendment Act, which changed the title of Provost to that of Chancellor, having been passed in 1861, Sir Charles was the first to bear the title of Chancellor, as he had been the first officer of the University, because he as Vice-Provost had been elected to that office a fortnight earlier than the first Provost had been elected to his office. He was one of the committee by which the plan of the buildings was considered, and of the committee which selected the first books placed in the Library at a cost of £500. It was he who, by his own munificence, and that of friends moved by his exertions, secured the stained glass windows and the carvings in the Great Hall and the staircase, and his was the gift of the noble Collection of Antiquities which bears his name. During a visit to England in 1858 he succeeded in obtaining a Charter for the University from Queen Victoria. He presided as Provost at the opening of the Great Hall in July, 1859.
He appears, in fact, to have been everything and everywhere in the founding of the Institution, and we are not to suppose that it was all done without the usual difficulties. In his own words, before the 1859 Committee, to be afterwards referred to: " I can assure the Committee that, having taken no inconsiderable share in the initiation and subsequent management of the Institution, I have had practical and painful experience of the difficulties and disappointments attendant upon such a task." How very true all that is I can testify from experience in similar undertakings.
Though absent from the colony for 40 years, his interest in the University has continued unabated to this day, and our hearts went out to him when we learned, three years ago, that one winter's night, when the ground was deep in snow, the old man was aroused from his sleep by the cry of " Fire !"' The house was quickly burnt to the ground, but Sir Charles has lived to build a new mansion, with the old name, on the old site. He has lived to see even the majority of the Medical School, which, as we shall see, he strove so hard to establish. Full of years and of honours, a Doctor of the Civil Law of Oxford, Doctor of Laws of Cambridge, and a Baronet of the United Kingdom, may he enjoy life to the end, in his own way, amid his books and his pictures!
Professor John Smith, a Doctor of Medicine of the University of Aberdeen, was the first Professor of Chemistry and Physics, and was one of the first group of three professors, the other two being Professors Woolley and Pell. He took a great part in the superintendence of the building operations of the University, and during the whole 33 years of his professorship he was a zealous, though cautious, promoter of public education, and of the public good.
Dr. Richard Greenup, M.D. (Cantab), the son of a surgeon, and whose wife was a niece of Sir Benjamin Brodie (the great surgeon whose picture is in the Sydney Jones window), was the first Registrar, and rendered valuable services in the administrative arrangements of the young University. On resigning his office, after two years only, he took charge of the lunatic asylum at Parramatta, where he was killed by one of the inmates in 1866.
The connection of the Profession of Medicine with the earliest days of the University is thus seen to have been most intimate indeed. As I have shown, Dr. Douglass moved Mr. Wentworth, who himself was the son of the surgeon at Norfolk Island, and was born there; Mr. Wentworth moved the Legislature, and Dr. Nicholson moved heaven and earth, for, to quote from Mr. Barff's book, "while Wentworth is recognised as the University's founder, it was the untiring energy of Nicholson which placed it upon its firm base." Add now Dr. Smith, who superintended the building operations, and Dr. Greenup, who helped so much in the first administrative arrangements, and all the men most intimately associated with the founding of the University were also connected with the Profession of Medicine.
If one seeks to apportion the credit, my study of the circumstances leads me to the following conclusions: - Sir Charles Nicholson and Dr. Douglass were probably foremost in fostering that public opinion to which Mr. Wentworth refers, but neither of these men appears very much on the surface: Nicholson because of his official position as Speaker, and Douglass because he appears to have been a man of strong individuality, and, therefore, with a good many enemies as well as many friends, and somehow or other the inimical and official element seems to have predominated against him in his relation to the University. So soon as the Senate could bring him forward, they did so by electing him as a member of their body. When the Legislature had done its share of the work, and its chairman (the Speaker, Nicholson) was free to act, we see that he does act publicly, as he had probably been doing on the quiet all the time. Mr. Wentworth had apparently, quite independently, ideas of a University, yet he was not the active man who kept the ball rolling for its establishment; he was the Legislator who intervened, as a Barrister might intervene in a case before a Court of Law, but that he did his portion of the work magnificently well we must all admit. It is really not very easy to differentiate the shares which these three men had in the founding of our University; Douglass appears to have been first in time, Nicholson in work, Wentworth in public advocacy. Let us not seek to separate them further, but be grateful for what they did together.
From the days of Sir Charles Nicholson no medical man occupied the position of Chancellor until 1896, when the present distinguished occupant of the office, the Honourable Sir Normand MacLaurin was elected to the chair. Long may he live to fill it! So long will the University prosper.
The first scheme for the establishment of the University came absolutely to grief. The Military Barracks were in the first half of the last century situated where Wynyard Square is now, hence the name Barrack Street. The Government decided to remove them to Paddington, where they now are, and to sell the site of the old barracks. The proceeds of this sale Mr. Wentworth urged the Government to devote to the foundation of a university, but his efforts were unsuccessful, and the scheme lapsed.
At a later date, after a passing occupation of what was the Sydney College, and is now the Grammar School building, Barrack-square was considered as a site for the University buildings, but the Domain was preferred by Sir Charles Nicholson. Grose Farm, where we now are, was accepted by the promoters as the only place they could get; but Nicholson wisely remarked, in 1859: "Admitting that it is now somewhat remote from the populous parte of the town, I think, looking to the future, the site is most admirably chosen."' Have not his words come true?
There was a great deal of public discussion, and even commotion, as to whether the University should be a teaching or merely an examining body in Arts, Law and Medicine, like the then rewly-established University of London; whether or not it should in any way be connected with religious teaching and examination; whether or not Clerics should be eligible for a seat on its governing body, or for appointment as Professors. But in the end the Legislature appointed a Select Committee in 1849, to consider and report on " The best means of instituting a University for the promotion of Literature and Science, to be endowed at the public expense." This committee recommended the institution of the University, and five Chairs to commence with. Of these one was " Anatomy, Physiology and Medicine." Another chair which had been contemplated was that of Natural History, and it is a thousand pities, so far as we are concerned, that this chair was not established then, for, if it had, Thomas Henry Huxley would have been one of our first Professors. In Huxley's Life, published by his son, we read in a letter to W. Macleay, "you won't have a Professor of Natural History - to my great sorrow." "Had the Sydney University been carried out as originally proposed, I should certainly have become a candidate for the Natural History Chair. I know no finer field of exertion for any naturalist than Sydney Harbour itself. Should such a Professorship be hereafter established I trust you will jog the memory of my Australian friends in my behalf." Our certain gain, however, would probably have been the world's loss, for I much doubt if the environment in Sydney would have served to develop the Huxley that he eventually became. The chair was actually established in 1882.
The Act of Incorporation received the Royal assent on October 1st, 1850, and we can but admire the greatness of the little band of gifted men, who had thus successfully struggled for the University, and who at that time were leading spirits of the colony, which numbered only 189,341 souls, scattered over an area eight times the size of the British Islands, and of which the capital city of Sydney contained only 54,000 inhabitants.
The devotedness of the founders stands out in high relief when we read the Report and Evidence of the '59 Committee. This was a Select Committee of the Legislature, which sat in 1859-60, and which was appointed with hostile intent towards the young University. It had no less than 26 sittings, and this alone shows how serious the position was. A member of the Committee was that vigorous, masterful man, the Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang, who had already publicly referred to the University as a "notable abortion"; and since the animus displayed by some members of the Committee against the University was so marked that Sir Charles Nicholson complained of it to the Committee's face, we need not be surprised by an adverse finding of the Committee. Adverse it truly was. It says - "That the University has not yet realised the expectations of the public seems clear, and it is also evident that great mistakes have been made with respect to it. A large amount of unnecessary expenditure has been incurred in an attempt to raise here, all at once, buildings not at present required, on a scale of magnitude which, in other parts of the world, has almost invariably been the growth of ages. Your committee cannot recognise the correctness of the principle on which the Senate originally acted in projecting such a structure. If architectural display is calculated to cultivate and improve the youthful taste, the greatest care should be taken to exhibit it in its purest form. But amid diversities of taste, style, beautiful in the estimation of some, may be regarded as barbaric by others. And perhaps it may be well asked how the griffins, unicorns and other monstrous shapes, which have been selected as decorations for the University, can serve to develop a high type of architectural taste." These words from the Report I read aloud yesterday to the said monstrous shapes. They received the words in silence, but not without evident emotion: some smiled, some grinned, and some were manifestly disgusted. The Report goes on to condemn the Affiliated Colleges, and recommends their entire and immediate abolition, lock, stock, and barrel. Everything that had been done was attacked in spite cf almost unanimous evidence to the contrary. The Report was based upon the prejudices of the members of the Committee rather than upon the evidence given before it. It is interesting reading that Report, read in the light of subsequent events. The Chairman spoke of the building being sufficient for "a couple of hundred years!"
Sir Charles Nicholson was asked if the University, owing to the small number of students in attendance, had not failed to realise expectations, and if it was not premature. He replied: "I think the reflection is upon the colony rather than upon the Institution. I think if you had waited longer you would have had greater difficulty in establishing it. I think the colony would have sunk into a still greater degree of apathetic indifference and want of appreciation as to the advantages of such an institution."
The real answer to that Report is the "day we celebrate," but since, when the same architectural style was under consideration for the Medical School, I was met, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, with precisely the same sort of criticism, even yet occasionally heard, I might be permitted to refer to the matter somewhat fully, generally in the words of Sir Charles Nicholson and specially in those of Sir William Windeyer, when they were being examined before the Committee. Sir Charles said: "If you determine to erect a public edifice according to the style of any given epoch or country, you must carry out that style in all its appropriate details ... although they may be regarded, in point of utility, as altogether supererogatory .... unless you determine to erect something like a Quaker Meeting-house or a Factory, in which you discard all ornamentation whatever. But I do not apprehend such a design would have met the approval of the colony at large." Then specially when Mr. Black - ominous name - asked Sir William Windeyer, "Do you not think students might derive quite as much inspiration from the calm perusal of the works of men of genius as from the contemplation of those figures on the walls of the University?" Sir William Windeyer: "I think that the student would study with a great deal more enthusiasm, and more abstract attention or devotion to his studies, if surrounded by buildings of fine architectural appearance than he would if reading in a barn." The Chairman asked: "Do you think Homer was inspired by the buildings of Greece?" " No; but I think that the Greeks were in a great measure inspired with a love of their country from the love of the fine buildings around them. We read it in Thucydides. I am speaking of the most glorious period of Grecian history, when Pericles himself, pointing to those buildings, reminded them that their existence was one of the causes of the love of their country." By Dr. Lang: "There were no such buildings in Homer's time?" Windeyer: "No." The Chairman: " Then Homer's divine genius was not at all inspired by the buildings of Greece?" Now was Sir William's chance, and he took it. " Perhaps so; but the poetry of Homer may have inspired the Greeks to build those buildings!"
It is quite clear that, from the continual mention of teaching and degrees in Medicine, a Medical School was in contemplation from the very beginning, and the Act of Incorporation and the Charter empowered the University to grant medical degrees. These degrees were granted by the Senate upon the report of a board of eight Examiners, the first members of which were Dr. Charles Nathan; Dr. a'Beckett, who had been staff-surgeon to the British Legion in Spain; Dr. George Bennett, our benefactor, the well-known author of "Gatherings of a Naturalist"; Dr. Greenup, of whom I have already spoken ; Dr. James Macfarlane, to whom I shall again refer; Dr. James Robertson, Professor Smith, and Dr. George West. On the establishment of the present Medical School the granting of such degrees was discontinued.
One of the very first steps the newly-appointed Senate took was to appoint a Committee to arrange for the commencement of teaching in the University, and in their Report they say: " The Faculty of Arts has received the preference for first selection, not because other branches of knowledge are understood or considered unimportant in education, but because it appears to your Committee to form the foundation of any complete system."
In 1859 Sir Charles Nicholson says in his commemoration address: " It is also hoped - and measures are now indeed being actually taken to effect the object - that professorships in medical science may be speedily established, and that systematic instruction may be communicated in a manner and with a completeness essential to the proper training of those desirous of obtaining a degree in either of the Faculties of Law and Medicine".
The Registrar gave evidence before the 1859 Committee that these steps had been taken, but Professor Smith complains to the Committee that the Senate in his absence, without his knowledge and against his will, had made him Dean of the Faculty of Medicine - the Senate apparently expecting that he would lend a hand in organising the School of Medicine, upon which it had set its heart. But in this they were woefully disappointed, for he joined the other two professors in a protest against the establishment of the school, and gave evidence before the Committee, directly against the testimony of Sir Charles Nicholson, as representing the Senate, and of Dr. Macfarlane as representing the Profession in Sydney.
Dr. Macfarlane, in his evidence before the Committee, said that the School of Medicine was "not only desirable but imperative," and said that this was the view of the profession in Sydney. It is, indeed, a glimpse of the dark ages of Medicine when, in the course of his evidence, he says: " I remember when I began the study of Medicine in 1828 I had to pay £20 for a body which had been underground for weeks." But all that has been changed by Anatomy Acts, a local Act having been introduced into the Colony by the Hon. Sir Arthur Renwick.
The Senate was so anxious to give effect to its views at this time that it instructed the architect to prepare plans for an Anatomical School, and appointed a committee to confer with the management of the Sydney Infirmary with regard to arrangements for clinical teaching.
The entire scheme, however, owing to the vigorous opposition of the Professors, fell through, but it was the cause of extremely strained relations between the Professors and the Senate, which formally "regrets that the Professors should have considered themselves justified in adopting so extreme a step as that of entering a protest against proceedings which the Senate, in the unquestionable exercise of its prerogative, had thought fit to take with reference to the initiation of the necessary measures for the erection of a Medical School in connection with the University, as expressly contemplated by the 12th section of the Incorporation Act' and which declares that "it was unable to depart from its resolution to establish a Medical School". The unwilling Dean nevertheless retained his office right on to 1883, when he was succeeded by myself.
In 1860 the Chancellor, Sir Charles Nicholson, in his commemoration address, says: "The Senate cannot ignore the obligations which will rest upon them and upon their successors, to call into existence, at the earliest possible period, those special appliances for the inculcation of professional knowledge, the appropriate sequel of a training in the Faculty of Arts. The great purpose for which the University was established will then, but not till then, be consummated." And before the '59 Committee he says "What is all this preliminary training for, unless it is to subserve some purpose in professional life?"
In 1866 a further scheme was prepared to give instruction only in the first two years of the medical curriculum. This, too, came to nothing.
Between that time and 1873 various proposals kept the matter alive, and then the establishment of the Prince Alfred Hospital really brought the School into existence, for the first definite step towards the establishment of the school was the power given to the Directors in the Hospital's Act of Incorporation to provide for the School. It was, indeed, the inauguration of this School at the Hospital and in connection with the University which justified the University in giving a site, over 12 acres in area, to the Hospita, for the land had been granted to the University exclusively for educational purposes. The establishment of the School was, therefore, cardinal to the existence of the Hospital. In return for the site, the University stipulated for a share in the management of the Hospital and in the appointment of its medical officers. These negotiations took place in 1872, and in 1873 the Acts were passed which gave legal effect to the bargain. By the Act an area of between two and three acres is reserved out of the site for the school building, and in early plans of the Hospital two different, but both most inadequate plans of a school building are shown. Fortunately these intentions never got any farther, for in 1876 the Chancellor, Sir Edward Deas Thomson, in his commemoration address, speaks as if it were now intended that the University, not the Hospital, should provide for the School; and in 1879 the new Chancellor, Sir William Montagu Manning, in his commemoration address, admits that the land would be more usefully applied for gardens or recreation grounds for the patients, and he states that the Senate was prepared to give it up and provide another site for the Medical School. And this is just what has happened - the Medical School is most conveniently placed near the rest of the University.
On July 3rd, 1878, Sir William Manning invited the Senate to consider whether there should be established at first a complete course, or a preliminary two year course only. The Senate, on the motion of the Hon. Sir Arthur Renwick, passed a unanimous resolution in favour of the complete course, and now, therefore, it was only a question of ways and means. In 1880 Mr. Challis died, and his great bequest was announced as a complete surprise to the authorities in Sydney. It waa, however, to come in only after the death of the beneficiaries. By this time no less than five deputations had waited upon the Government to urge the necessity of increased support to the University; but, in view of the certainty of the bequest being available some day, the Government was again approached to secure the increased endowment, and now the establishment of a Medical School was spoken of as urgent owing to the approaching opening of the Prince Alfred Hospital. The opening of the Hospital actually did take place on September 25th, 1882.
In 1882, rather unexpectedly at the last, the increased endowment so long craved, so frequently asked for, was voted by the Legislature, and steps were immediately taken to make the necessary appointments.
I was appointed to the combined Chair of Anatomy and Physiology in '82, and it has always appeared to me an interesting circumstance that, some little time before this, I had been recommended for the task of organising a new school, which a number of members of the Profession, who were in some way or other dissatisfied with the Owen's College Medical School, were proposing to start in Manchester. I visited that city and saw the promoters, but the scheme came to nothing. Nevertheless, I was to do this kind of work after all - in the Antipodes! In the beginning of '83 the work of the School began. We may thus fairly assume that the School has now about reached its majority, and the coincidence of this period with the jubilee of the University seems to render the occasion appropriate for a brief review of our short life.
It had been intended that the new School should be located temporarily in a portion of the Exhibition Building in the Outer Domain, but that building was destroyed by fire. No steps were taken to provide accommodation for the Medical School until just before I landed, and I well remember the dismay with which, on my arrival, I saw the foundations of the modest, unpretentious four-roomed cottage, out behind in the paddock, which I was told was, when finished, to comprise two rooms for the Medical School, and two for Professor Stephens and his Department of Biology. I first saw it in company with Dr. Badham, who informed me that the " stinks " were all to go out at the back.
These branches of science were also dubbed "Brodstudien," "Bread Studies" by some, who sought to convey thereby that such subjects stood apart from and. outside what was by them understood to be "Culture," and were not welcome at the University. When the battle has been fought and won, we can afford to look back with equanimity upon our struggles; but while struggling, as I well remember, we were anything but equanimous on either side.
The day has passed when it can seriously be contended that the Universities ought to confine their attention to general mental culture. The Universities grew out of the needs of the people, and were founded originally as technical schools - the oldest University of all,, that of Salerno, was a school of medicine - and as they began, so they have continued to this day. Happily it is possible to train the mind by technical learning, as well as by learning for which there is no immediate use, and this is why a University can give a degree after a training solely in a professional school, for it is not what is known that makes a man cultured : it is how he knows it, the method by which he approaches knowledge, the attitude of his mind to it. Culture and knowledge, or rather, perhaps I should say, information, have no necessary relationship to each other.
Within some ten days after my arrival the walls of the cottage were up, though there was no roof, nor any windows nor doors, and in such curious surroundings, with the much-interested workmen lolling over the window-sills, wondering what it was all about, the actual commencement of the School took place, on the day appointed in the Calendar, for it is a good thing to be up to time as well as up to date. Of this cottage, the original Medical School, no vestige remains to-day, all having beon removed to make way for the Department of Geology.
The first step in advance was to add three rooms behind this cottage, and the next was to absorb the two rooms which Professor Stephens occupied, he being also anxious to get away to less " fragrant " quarters. The first difficulty as to personnel was to find a man who would consent, for any reasonable wage, to come as Attendant; but soon there arrived Mr. John Shewen, who had served with me in Professor Rutherford's laboratory, and then my difficulties in this respect were at an end. By the same ship, but, as it happened, quite by chance came Dr. A. MacCormick, as Demonstrator; he also, had been with Professor Rutherford's Department. From that day forward the teaching arrangements have never gone backward. Dr. MacCormick held office as Demonstrator until he was appointed Lecturer in Surgery. He was succeeded by Dr. A. E. Wright, now Professor of Pathology at Netley, and Dr. Wright by Dr. C. J. Martin, now Professor of Physiology in Melbourne. Professor Wilson arrived as Demonstrator of Anatomy in 1887; and in 1890 he became Professor of Anatomy.
It was while here, in the old school, that we founded in 1885 the Medical Society, on the model of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh, of which I had been a President. The value of this Edinburgh Society is attested by many generations of Edinburgh students, and in spite of predictions to the contrary, the Sydney Society has nourished exceedingly - temper sit in lore!
These events lead us up to the time when the new School Building was ready, and the School was, therefore, to leave its old home, the memory of which is still green with me, who spent there seven most strenuous years, for I had to teach both Anatomy and Physiology, and at the same time carry on the work of organisation of the growing school, and superintend the planning and erection of this building.
Our passage from "Log Cabin to White House" was gradual, as portion after portion of White House was completed, but it was in and about 1890. As to the architectural style of this building, that of the already existing University building was fortunately followed, and for this we owe much to Mr. James Barnett, at that time Colonial Architect. As a young man Mr. Barnett worked at the building of the Great Hall, and it is to him that I am indebted for pointing out Dr. Douglass' coat of arms.
As to the internal arrangements, I had already served a sort of apprenticeship, for it was while I was Assistant to Professor Rutherford that we "flitted" from the old Edinburgh University building in Nicholson-street to the new Medical School on the Meadows, and I had taken a good hand with the Professor in planning the fittings of our Department in the new school. I may add that I was also at the "flitting" from the old to the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
In regard to the size of the building, it was not the small number of students at that time in attendance for which we provided, but for our future greatness. Nor was it only the number of students we had to think of; we had also to consider the possible development of subjects of instruction. And has not the University's foresight already been amply justified?
The preliminary scientific subjects are each housed in its own building, so that this building accommodates only the purely medical subjects. The clinical subjects are provided for at the Prince Alfred Hospital.
The Museum of Anatomy now possesses 24,000 specimens, and is well worthy of a visit. It is housed in this building, several rooms having been thrown together for that purpose, but the intention was to occupy these rooms only until they should be required for other purposes, when the University might be enabled in some way to build a separate and properly adapted Museum building in the space reserved for it, between the Medical School and the main University building. This period is undoubtedly within measurable distance, for, on the one hand, the collection very nearly fills the available space, and will one of these days overflow, and, on the other hand, the demands for increased accommodation can be satisfied only when the Museum has found another home.
At first one often heard remarks as to the folly of building so great and costly a mansion, and Sir Arthur Renwick, who was Minister of Public Instruction at the time, informs me that there was much opposition to the vote in Parliament, the first cost being about £80,000; but was it not a good investment for the State? Let us see what is the money value to the State of the Medical School. Suppose, for instance, that there were no Medical School here. The community would still need medical advisers, and it is fair to assume that at least one-half, say 100, of the students would go to Europe for their medical education. The average expenditure of each would not be less than £200 per annum, and the average time would not be less than six years for the curriculum is five years, to which must be added the time of travelling to and fro, and the time inevitably lost in various ways. This would be in all at least £1200 per student, or at the rate of £20,000 a year, actually taken out of the State and spent elsewhere. This is now kept in the State, and, since what is paid in salaries is spent in the State, 25 per cent, is a fair return, is it not ?
To this magnificent building as it stands we undoubtedly owe much of the success of the Medical School as an institution. Student and graduate and teacher alike feel proud to belong to it, and its influence in creating an esprit de corps and good traditions cannot be overestimated. The pride we all take in the Great Hall is paralleled by the pride which the medical takes in the Medical School building, and it all makes for good.
As we have seen there have been three successive schemes for the permanent location of the Medical School. 1st. That it should be connected with the Sydney Hospital. 2nd. That it should be at the Prince Alfred Hospital, but connected with the University. 3rd. At the University, but connected with Prince Alfred Hospital and recognising certain other hospitals as places where study may be carried on. This last, the existing scheme, is undoubtedly far and away the best; so that if the Medical School did take so many years to incubate, when it was hatched it came forth under most favourable conditions.
This intimate connection of the Prince Alfred Hospital with the University is an advantage to both institutions. The University has a hospital convenient of access for the clinical instruction of students; the Hospital gains, in various ways. For instance, we may fairly assume that upon the whole the best men of the Medical Profession will always desire to be connected with the University, and, therefore, also with the Hospital. Further, the senior students do a considerable amount of work in the Hospital, and in time the pick of the students when graduates become the Resident Medical Officers at a salary which is practically nominal, for the real remuneration is the experience they gain.
It is so arranged that each Resident in his 12 months' term of office takes charge in turn of the different departments of the Hospital. He is attached to the Hospital, and his experience is general, and as complete as the time allows. He is not merely attached to the ward of some particular Physician or Surgeon by whom he has been selected, and practically appointed, and whose practice alone he sees, as is so commonly the case elsewhere.
It is, indeed, simply astounding what the 12 months' Service does for the Resident. His association with the visiting Medical Men, with his fellow Resident Medical Officers, with the Nurses, and with the Patients, has brought him experience beyond price, and has made a man of him. When he leaves he is - "A wise physician, skill'd, our wounds to heal."
I find that out of the 218 graduates no less than 184 have held office as Resident Medical Officers, in some hospital or other, and this extraordinary proportion must have very largely contributed to that success of the graduates in practice to which I shall presently refer. When the extensions of the Hospital now in course of erection are completed, the number of beds will be raised from 236 to 456, and the number of Resident Officers required will be correspondingly increased.
Again, a body such as the Conjoint Board, composed of the University Senate and of the Hospital Board sitting together, should succeed in selecting the most competent Medical Officers to begin with, and then we may rely a good deal on the students for stimulating them to do their best. The students, who follow the work of the Hospital Physicians and Surgeons in the wards or operation theatres, are valuable critics, and though their criticism is that of young men, nevertheless, in the multitude of them there is safety. As a matter of fact, it is admitted that the best and most intelligent work is, as a rule, done in Hospitals which are attached to Medical Schools, so that it is the patients who gain most by all these arrangements, the tendency of which is to secure and maintain efficiency on the part of the Medical Officers.
Certain other Hospitals have been recognised as places where study may be carried on, viz., Sydney Hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital, Benevolent Asylum, Women's Hospital, Hospital for Sick Children, Gladesville and Callan Park Hospitals for the Insane. At some of these places a considerable amount of work is done; and, doubtless, more will be done as the advantages of the University connection are more fully appreciated.
The two most important changes in the teaching arrangements since the School began have been the creation of two new Chairs - Anatomy and Pathology. Midwifery and Gynaecology have been separated as independent Lectureships, and five new Courses have been established, namely, Medical Ethics; Diseases of Children; Diseases of the Ear, Nose, and Throat; Diseases of the Skin; and Demonstrations on Psychological Medicine and Neurology. A new and important class, suitable for graduates and advanced students, is about to be established, namely, special Bacteriology. The special object of this class will be to enable the members to acquire a practical knowledge of the chief methods of dealing with microbes, for in a country like Australia each medical man must be far more independent than in more closely settled lands where specialists are always at hand.
I much wish to see established one other short course, viz., the History of Medicine. Of its value there can be no doubt whatever. As Dr. John Gregory said 100 years ago: "It may reasonably be expected that every gentleman should be acquainted with the history of the science which he professes. The History of Medicine is not a subject of mere curiosity. To a Physician it is a useful and an interesting inquiry." In older countries one lives in the midst of associations and memories, and more or less grows up with a knowledge of them, but in new lands everything of that sort has to be acquired by an effort, mostly by reading. Fully alive to this, we were careful in designing this building to see that places for stained glass windows were provided, in which the pictures of great men of the past should appear; and by the generosity of Lady Renwick, of the late Dr. George Bennett, of Dr. Sydney Jones, and of Mr. John Harris, at that time Mayor of Sydney, these window spaces have, all but one, been appropriately filled. Then, again, the five theatres have been named after - (1) Hunter, (2) Cullen, (3) Haller, (4) Harvey, (5) Vesalius. Lastly, reproductions of the busts of a great number of celebrated men adorn the walls. In this way we have striven to make the names more than mere shadows. All this, however, amounts to no more than mere dry bones of the History of Medicine. What we want is a short - there is no time for anything more - luminous account of how, as age succeeded age, the knowledge of the day gave place to that of the morrow, and how each advance rests on something that went before.
A department of Dentistry has quite recently been opened, and there are now 31 students in the first and second Years. The Dental School is already a pronounced success, and certain to be a great benefit to the community, which in the past has suffered much at many hands. In connection with this School the University has been compelled to establish a Public Dental Hospital, which is at once a Clinical School for the dental students and a boom to many poor people. It was originally intended and arranged that the clinical work should be in the dental department of the Sydney Hospital, but the Medical Staff of the Hospital pointed out that there was no room on the Hospital site for additional buildings, and the arrangement was abandoned in consequence.
Forty-four students attend in accordance with the regulations of the Board of Pharmacy, but the subject is in an unsatisfactory condition, owing to a defect in the Pharmacy Act.
Certain steps have been taken towards the establishment of a department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. In Germany and other countries, which are alive to their best interests, this is a University Department. If this University is to identify itself with the local needs of the people - and of that there can, in my opinion, be no doubt, for it can raise and ennoble them all - what is more important in Australia than the intelligent care of its flocks and herds?
A Chair of Botany would be a great acquisition to the University and to the community, for the present association of the subject with Zoology in one department is not satisfactory either to teacher or to taught. I find that as far back as 1859 Sir Charles Nicholson contemplated the establishment of a Botanic Garden at the University; but the Curator of the Botanic Gardens opposed this, saying that all the work of that kind could be done at the Gardens; and if it was so then, is it not more so now? The botanical resources of the State would abundantly repay a careful study, and the services of the Professor would, in this regard, be most valuable.
The one thing which, above and beyond all else, we need now is a well-stocked library of scientific medical books, especially serials. Complete sets of the latter are now very costly, and they become more so every day, owing to the general recognition of their necessity in the prosecution of original research. Cut off, as we are in Australia, from all converse with the older countries and centres of learning, our need is the greater; and if we are ever to take a position as centres of light and learning, this want must be supplied, cost what it may. In this connection I cannot do better than quote Sir Charles Nicholson's words in 1861 when presenting his Collection of Antiquities to the University: "In no invidious spirit would I allude to the many individuals now in Europe, and enjoying that affluence which has been the result of successful enterprise in these colonies. I would respectfully remind such persons that a graceful recognition of the claims of the land to which they have so long been attached by the ties of birth, by residence, or by honourable exertion, may in some degree be afforded by occasionally placing within the reach of those still residing in it objects of art and historical monuments". And I would add, books or the money to buy them.
As a new school, with a reputation to make, we have always had a high standard of excellence, and we have never given a degree without due attendance for the full period. There have already been three curricula, and a fourth is now under consideration. The continuous advance in knowledge, changes in the relative importance of subjects and improvement in the quality of text-books, all render a revision of the curriculum necessary every few years. The general tendency of the change is to increase the amount of practical work in Laboratory and Hospital, and to reduce the number of lectures. At the same time the method of instruction by lecture must not be undervalued, for up to a certain point it is unsurpassed and unsurpassable. In suitable subjects lecturing stands out in great contrast to the deadness of the tutorial method. No, we Lecturers are not going to be wiped out just yet!
We have not yet given a special qualification in Public Health for two reasons. In the first place, the demand has only lately arisen by the passing into law of the Public Health Act, which the Profession had advocated for many years, but which only became law when I was President of the Board of Health, and Mr. Reid took the matter tip with the determination to pass the Bill. The other reason is that the D.P.H. of Cambridge has been a convenient Qualification for our graduates to obtain while visiting Europe, and in this way 8 out of the 36 graduates who have visited Europe have obtained it. In so far as it has acted as an inducement to graduates to visit Europe, it has been a good thing, because that visit in itself, not before graduation, but after it, is of immense value, precisely as a visit to Australia is of use to the European graduate.
The original number of four students has been increased every year without exception, and in the current year stands at 204 in attendance. Altogether the names of 522 students have appeared upon the rolls. Of these 207 men and 11 women have graduated, while 100 have not graduated, although they have attended long enough to do so. Roughly, therefore, one in three has failed, from all causes, to complete the curriculum.
Of the 218 who have completed, 142 have done so in the shortest time, and 76 with delay, varying from one to six years.
Putting these figures in another way, they show that of the 318 who have attended long enough to get a degree, only 45 per cent, or less than one half, have graduated in the minimum time, a fact which indicates that candidates have not slipped through too easily.
With the kind assistance of two of our graduates, I have made an estimate as to how the graduates have fared since they took their degrees. Of the 218, 11 have died, and two have relinquished practice, so that there remain 205 at work to-day. In my estimate, those who have died, or who have given up, have been classed according to what they were apparently doing when their professional career closed. Such is the demand for their services that immediately upon their graduation the medical graduates can always earn a living; but those whose graduation has been too recent to enable one to judge what they are likely to do in after life are in number 54, and have been left unclassed, except where they have married, when they are classed as "doing well." Obviously, men of education do not usually marry unless they think they are doing well enough to support a wife and consequences. There are thus 164 who have been classed.
I have in no case set down anything about income earned, because by itself income is no criterion of success. For instance, the successful teacher or official at the head of his branch of the profession, may earn but a fraction of the income of the no more successful practitioner. I have, therefore, in every case considered the kind of career chosen and estimated the success in that line.
The number of failures is happily very small - hardly worth accounting for; and, after all, one must not expect too much from the Medical School, which can but deal with the material presenting itself. It can make men into Medicals, but not always Medicals into men.
Of the 164, 14 have been classed as doing "excellently well"; 68, "very well"; 52, "well"; and 27, "fair." Thus, 134 out of 164 are doing well, or better than well. I am fully aware of the limitations of my classification, but in the nature of the case it cannot be made exact, and I think that for all practical purposes it may be accepted. One knows quite well what is meant to be conveyed by the terms; "excellently well" implies conspicuous success, "very well" is just very well; what more is needed?
From all this it is evident that our efforts to maintain the high standard aimed at have borne good fruit, and it is not only the graduates themselves who have benefited. The public, too, have benefited directly by the competence of the medical advisers supplied to it, and indirectly by the inevitable tendency which the existence of such a School has to raise the level of efficiency of the profession generally throughout the State. For this the University deserves well of the Profession of Medicine in the State, since while it is true that the public estimate of the Practitioner depends much upon that of his Profession, it is also true that the estimation in which the Profession is held depends much upon the character of the Practitioners; they act and react upon each other.
To gauge the extent to which Sydney graduates have permeated the Profession and influenced it numerically, I analysed the (last) "Register of Medical Practitioners, 1902," and I find that, of 798 practitioners at work in the State, only 133, or 16 percent, are Sydney graduates. It is, therefore, clear that there is still plenty of room within the profession for the expansion of the Sydney graduate. As a matter of fact our graduates are absorbed as quickly as they are produced, and there is a good reason for this. The losses to the Profession in New South Wales by death, departure and retirement amount to about 40 per annum, so that the number of the graduates is annually less than one-half of the waste of the Profession in New South Wales alone, and it must not be forgotten that 10 per cent of the graduates belong to or reside in Queensland, and over 7 per cent, elsewhere.
Owing on the one hand to the tendency of monied families to leave the State, and, on the other, to the attractions of private practice in Australia, there has as yet been an almost total absence here of young medical graduates, who, as in Europe, are content to go on with their studies after graduation, staying about the School and the Hospital, occupying minor offices, and gradually winning their way forwards and upwards to fill the higher posts. As an undergraduate the man necessarily confines his attention to the common round which all must follow. As a graduate he may follow his bent and so get the most and the best out of himself. It is to such men, now free from the worries of anticipated examinations, well informed in the lore of their profession, trained to work, and, therefore, most likely to work fruitfully, that we should look for original work or research in the medical sciences. As Foster points out, if post graduate work is simply to be learning after graduation what the man ought to have learnt before itt then it is merely making up for more or less wasted opportunities, and is hardly worth taking any trouble about; but real research work will certainly educate the man and benefit his patients, and it may perchance advance the Healing Art. By and by, when the calls of practice have to be attended to, or the daily grind of teaching and administration with its endless meetings, frequent disappointments, continual pinpricks, and quite unnecessary worries of every kind and degree, has to be gone through, the chance of continuous work is sadly lessened, and even the capacity for intellectual work of any kind is altogether diminished. It is possible that when the four Macleay fellowships of £400 a year each become available, they may help in this direction, for Animal Physiology and Pathology, Anthropology and Organic Chemistry are among the specified subjects, and these are all subjects which might be worked at by the yoking medical graduate.
I have now shown the successive stages by which the University and the Medical School advanced to their present position of prosperity. That we have a great future is inevitable; about that I have never doubted, even in the earliest days, when the Philistines were upon us. To have been intimately associated with the founding of such a School we take to be a great honour, and likely to be an abiding distinction, for of all the Arts and Sciences the Study of Medicine of which this School is the handmaiden, dealing as it does with the preservation and restoration to health, the first and most indispensable condition of human activity and efficiency, and the source of life's most enduring happiness and noblest joys, has always been regarded as of the highest importance to mankind, and so it is likely to be regarded in all the coming time.
The next celebration in connection with the school will be its jubilee, in the year 1933. I trust that many of us will meet again to celebrate that event, and of those who do, the only thing quite certain is that they will be a great deal older, and the best thing I can wish for the Celebrants is that they may then have no need for the Profession of Medicine even if represented by graduates of the Medical School of the University of Sydney.