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ABOUT DEGREES.

A SKETCH OF THEIR HISTORY AND OF SOME MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH.

[lk Henry Beicheu.]

No. IV. ABOUT BOGUS DEGREES (MEDICAL),

A bogus medical degree our American cousin calls- by a very straight name, as thua:

License to murdar are vcn led like a tides of cheap manufacture—at exceedingly cheap rati s, and tuned out with a rapidity not i«t all icuiurkiiMe under the circumstances, but certainly very a.'pilU. g in view of the probable to s ci :ty. It is aatonishinjir with whit ficility medic .1 diplomas can be procure! by any unscrupulous rascal wrmvi.hes to murder his fellow-man uuder the vruiss of a physici <n.

The methods ci modern journalism demand that every notable,, person should be interviewed ; accordingly, the president of a college from which these licenses to murder have issued was interviewed. The special correspondent told oil for the work thought it advisable to assume a disguise. He found the president taking the morning air at the college door and pensively torating. About him on tae pavement was outlined a handsome semicircle indicating the success of his efforts. The special correspondent approaches tbn president, and the dialogue ensuing, thrown into ■>. dramatic form, is as follows : DaAMiTis Trhsos.!'; The President (he wears a piper col'nr) The Correspondent (.is u Pennsylvania. Dutchman). Tha President: Wal, sir, what can Ido for you? The Corri I'poudent: I have Iwn rie-mmiendid to you by Dr I'fWter, and am desirous of taking a short course- of medicine. The President: By whom did you soy you wcro recommended ? Too Correspondent: Dr ffhstcr. The President: I don't know the name; however, that makes no diflcrenc. You hev c me to the rifiht shop fir a down ight fust-oass melic.il education, you bet. The Correspondent: Wul', doctor, I a'n nthe' peculiarly sltuited. lam short fjr time, and wane to get through soon The President: Oh, wtl, a'l you have to <>o to buy your scholarship, attend lectures here for three mo.iths, md you get your diploma, The Corespondent: Bat three montln is more time than I can fpirc. I undorstaad you irraduit•> every three months; have you no class graduating now that you cnuld jrr&duate me with ? Tho Prebidont: No, sir, wo hev not. It's too p'nguy worm. WV don't hev ion in the summer. But that makes no difference; you buy y. ur scholarship, pasj your examination, and Ret your dipiomn. The Uonespondeut: I don't s?c how I s*vc timo in that way ; your cxansiiation must be very severe

ThoPresident: No sir, they air not severe; but I guess we had better irrigate. Whit is your particular ?

The correspondent mentions his particular, and they irrigate—on which the dialogue resumes:—

The Correspondent: If convenient, I should like to sret b-ck in about a fortnight, and hegin pricticj. The President: No sir, you ken-not. You nmat wait until after fall. We sh&U hev a Urgo okss as soon as the fellows set their cables stowed, their grain ihrashed, and their p itatocs in. A lot of Vm will ba here far a oupla ot month?, and then go back to practice medicine in the spring. The Correspondent: Are the students expected to attend lectures regularly? The P/rsident: It's none of my business whether they do or not. Icm't he fooling round after'em. But what you dj is this: You hand me a hundred dollars, stay here a couple of weeks, and your diploma will come easy enough.

Tho Corro'pondent: But I can't pass an exsmina' tion after two w ekp.

The President (displaying soino signs cf irritation): Who in th>; nsmj of thunder wants you to? The practice cf medicine only requires good sense,and all the rust c imfls by cxporiei cc. The Correspondent: Well, good-bye lam much obliged. You may expect ma round ntxt I 'll. Goodbye. The President: Good-bye. Oh! you hovn't said what your name is. The C'trreapniident: Ab, yes, to be sure! My name U John C. Prevost. The correspondent also gives an address, and takes his leave. A few days elapse, after which a letter something like this readies him : Annabellaton, Va. Dr John C Prevost. Dear Sir,-1 fill the Chair cf Chemistry in the Electric College i f this city, where you see me last week, and was going to graduate. Having understood you aro an energetic young gentleman with a largo shire < f influence in >oar neighborhood, if jou wou'd hi si kind as to exert ycursalf in tending ice students I will for« ard you 30drl for eich ore as eoon as he pays his fits, which a:e IfiO-iol entire and in advance, which is cheap fir a first-cUss college like ours of tweuty-vno youth 1 slauding. We g actuate every nine motithp, and Keep open j.ine months rut of the twelve Please refer them direct to nii, ?ud all that you send ine shali go through under flying c.-.lors at th; expiration of three mtntbß. We have a large class 'his winter, and sha:l p ruinate quite a number on the first (f tha year. Your men thill g aduate, too. Please remember 150Jol cash, vou to have 30d01. Ynurs truly, Hiram K. Pii-hbodv, M.D., 434 Ninth Eist street, f jur doors abovo Elm West tide.

The most remarkable of the institutions connected with the trade in degrees used to exist in the city of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has always been proud of her medical schools, and their deserved reputation won for them a large number of medical students. The University of Pennsylvania and the Jefferson Medical College are highly esteemed academical bodies, which send out to all parts of the world useful and trustworthy physicians. Under the shadow of these schools there sprang up a duly incorporated college which immediately entered upon a career abusive of its trust. Diplomas were sold at prices varying according to the means of the purchasers. The institution had applied for a charter early in the fifties, and succeeded by one of the moves which are said to be common in the local Legislatures in America, It is said that on this occasion there was a Bill brought forward comprising such varied matters as provision for a local gasworks, the building of a schoolhouse, tho mode of election to be sanctioned for a particular township, and the cliarter of a new medical college ! The medical college seems to have escaped attention, and accordingly a charter was issued in the terms of the petitioi). Subjoined comes a portion of a diploma sold for lOOdol, and brought forward by a young aspirant for a hospital appointment in England. The candidate in this case seems to have acted in good faith, although the document states that the owner had actually been examined in Philadelphia, whereas the young man had not been outside of that part of the United States known as tho County of Cork. Around the parchment in scroll work are read the words " Chrono-Thermal, Electropathy, Hydropathy, Botanic, Thomsonism, Allopathy, Homoeopathy." The mysterious allusion in the word Thomsonism is not cleared up in the body of the testamur, which avers that— We do hereby tes'ity that , having made eui f ablo proficiency in the preliminary branches of educitlon as prep<r.»tory to tho study of the medioil p'nfa-sion ana ddvottd the term of th'ee years to the gtuly of the several departments ef medical science, under tho tuition of a competent medical preceptor, and having attended two full courees of medical 1 ctures and pissed a successful examination in each department before us, the professors of the colle?e ; therefore, in consideration of hi« qualifications for th: duties and responsibilities of the profession, and by tho virtue of tho power invested in us by the Commonwealth, we do hereby oonfer on the the deg 03 of Doctor of Medicine, thoreby granting and cmcedirg unto him all the rights, privileges, and immunities bolonging to that degree here and else where.

In witness whereof we bava oau,ed to be affixed cw corporate seal to this diploma, and subscribed our names to thp same.

This valued testimony to the merits of the purchaser was impounded by the authorities to whom it was submitted.

That the traffic did eventually nring the University of Pennsylvania into most unmerited disrepute is proved by the very strenuous efforts to check the traffic. The promoters of the trade managed, by the continued shifting of titles, to completely mystify the public. We have here, in this City, for instance, an institution called the University of Olago. Let us suppose, for sake of illustration, that it has conferred degrees for half a century, and that its medical degrees have risen into considerable repute. Then we may figure to ourselves that a second institution arises which calls itself the Universityof Dunedin, the Otago University, the New Zealand University of Dunedin, the Medical Dunedin University, the Otago University of Medicine and Surgery, the Eclectic Medical College of Otago (perhaps this ringing of changes will suffice), what would be the effect upon the public mind ? Clearly, busy men would make a blend of all the titles, and, according to our amiable custom, judge both concerns by the lowest observable standard. Suppose this multinominous institution (multinominous is a good word, mm ipsius juncturd; may it pass muster!) embarks upon a new line of business, sells degrees, and continues the nefarious traffic for a quarter of a century unchecked, what result affecting the original University of Olsj'o should we expect? Clearly, apain, busy men, vith the lack of discrimination usual in euoh cases, would fail to distinguish between the genuine corporation and the

lying imposition that had succeeded in parodying its name. Jtf r G. J. Yellowplusb, in a well-known passage, .iiscusses the following lines in the ' Sea Capting' : Girl, beware! The love that trifles round the ctiarmS it ei 08 Oft luins while it shines. " Igaplane this, men aud angels .'' cries Mr 0. J, Y.; "I've tried it every way—backards, forards, and in all sorta ot trancepositions, ,13 thus : The love that ruins round the charms it shines Qilds while it trifles oft. Or. The c>i >rrn tint sril 18 around the lore it ruics Olttfifi.-SH'W!. it shines. Or, To-- ruins that love gilds and eh'.cua around 0:t t.iiks wiiere it cnanns. Ot, fjcvr, M-hile it chum', shines roind, aud ruins oft Tac tf.fhs thitit (»i!d«. Or, Th> lovij th-it trifles jfilds and ruins oft

While iouud the unarms it shines All which," says Mr C. J. Y., "arc as sensable as the fust passidge." A similar diversion may, I think, be got out of the line

The ploughman homeward plods his weary way with the added result that the transposer will not know in the end which of the versions is the correct reading. Americans similarly have said themselves that they have iouud the confusion of names an almost insuperable obstacle to a clear apprehension of the position of the University of Pennsyl vania. However, in course of time the Legislature hi* interfered, and within the State of Pennsylvania has made the sale ff degrees an offence pnuiahable by u fine ef | UOO and six mouths' imprisonment. The effect of this measure has beeu merely Ito transfer the locality of the business. No measures can succeed in checking a trade which lives on the indulgence of a sentiment that lurks somewhere in every breast. We all. except a few choice Stoics, adore titles, and to get them some will resort to reprehensible practices. English and American folk have a leaning to academical titles; our British aristocracy being of such a. superlative kind, and so jealously hedged about, that noble titles are out of the reach of the common herd. In France they go for the red button of official decoration, and, aa recent sciudals have disclosed, there are bogus chevaliers and grand crosses, just as there, are bogus doctors. Every second man on the Parisian boulevards is decorated; while the realm of Hawaii has its orders of chivalry. Have I not seen some of my own dear fellow-countrymen wearing them? King Milan, of Fervia, bestowed a very fixe collar and button on a friend of mine, who no doubt values very highly decorations coming from so augustly respectable tt quarter. The funniest sight I can recall to memory is the image of a man sitting in University convocation wearing three hoods; while in Suffolk there used to be a well-known pig-master who on occasion would wear the medals won by his piize porkeis. Who has not seen tte martial bearing of a man whose padded breast lay almost hidden beneath medals gained at some peaceful Tir National, Surely the passion springs eternal in the human breast. Wise are the legislators and statesmen who take notice thereof, and provide for its reasonable indulgence. In Belaud there seems to be no law about letters attached to one's name. You may call yourself what you please, if others will use your self-bestowed appellation. The Salvation Army, for instance, has appropriated the whole of the Army namesystem. In cautious and conservative quarters the titles of general, colonel, major, staff commander, and so on, in speaking of Salntists, are guarded in print by a little peppering of inverted commas ; but in the customary reference of newspapers the names of General Booth*and his colleagues are given without any snch literary restrictions. Bogus degrees, with their array ef letters, were some years ago scotched severely ; but Bothing conceivable will kill them. Not ridicule, not complaint, not argument nothing short of a general seisachtheia or disburdening ordinance in respect to all titles. The simplicity of Democracy, it was hoped, might do away with th-se matters. The counter operation seems to me to be going on. I quote in evidence that the sale of fraudulent degrees flourishes ytt the groan of the editor of ' WhitaUer'a Almanac' for this current year of grace (ISB9, p 272). Speaking cf Societies and Institutions, he says:-—" This list is not by any means complete. Fellows and members of societies incorporated by Royal Charter are entitled to add certain letters after their names, but there is no law on the subject; members of any society or association, or even private individuals, are permitted to adopt any letters they please. A cat's-meat man at one of the universities styled himself P.F.D.A. (Purveyor of Food for Domestic Animals}, This conduct, however, is less reprehensible than that of many persons of higher social position, who append the initial* of purchased or bogus degrees." ( To be continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890511.2.39.6

Bibliographic details

ABOUT DEGREES., Evening Star, Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

Word Count
2,412

ABOUT DEGREES. Evening Star, Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

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