The College of Physicians in 1731
The following information is taken from London in 1731 by Don Manoel Gonzales. The complete text of this work is available at Project Gutenburg.
Don Manoel's Account
The College of Physicians is situated on the west side of Warwick Lane. It is a beautiful and magnificent edifice, built by the society anno 1682, their former college in Amen Corner having been destroyed by the Fire. It is built of brick and stone, having a fine frontispiece, with a handsome doorcase, within which is a lofty cupola erected on strong pillars, on the top whereof is a large pyramid, and on its vertex a crown and gilded ball. Passing under the cupola we come into a quadrangular court, the opposite side whereof is adorned with eight pilasters below and eight above, with their entablature and a triangular pediment; over the doorcase is the figure of King Charles II. placed in a niche and between the door and the lower architrave the following inscription, viz.:-
VTRIVSQVE FORTVNAE EXEMPLAR INGENS ADVERSIS REBVS DEVM PROBAVIT PROSPERIS SEIPSVM COLLEGIJ HVJUSCE, 1682.
The apartments within consist of a hall, where advice is given to the poor gratis; a committee-room, a library, another great hall, where the doctors meet once a quarter, which is beautifully wainscoted, carved, and adorned with fretwork. Here are the pictures of Dr. Harvey, who first discovered the circulation of the blood, and other benefactors, and northward from this, over the library, is the censor's room.
The theatre under the cupola at the entrance is furnished with six degrees of circular wainscot seats, one above the other, and in the pit is a table and three seats, one for the president, a second for the operator, and a third for the lecturer; and here the anatomy lectures are performed. In the preparing room are thirteen tables of the muscles in a human body, each muscle in its proper position.
This society is a body-corporate for the practice of physic within London, and several miles about it. The president and censors are chosen annually at Michaelmas. None can practise physic, though they have taken their degrees, without their license, within the limits aforesaid; and they have a power to search all apothecaries' shops, and to destroy unwholesome medicines.
By the charter of King Charles II. this college was to consist of a president, four censors, ten elects, and twenty-six fellows; the censors to be chosen out of the fellows, and the president out of the elects.
By the charter granted by King James II., the number of fellows was enlarged, but not to exceed eighty, and none but those who had taken the degree of doctors in the British or foreign universities were qualified to be admitted members of this college.
The fellows meet four times every year, viz., on the Monday after every quarter-day, and two of them meet twice a week, to give advice to the poor gratis. Here are also prepared medicines for the poor at moderate rates.
The president and four censors meet the first Friday in every month. The Lord Chancellor, chief justices, and chief baron, are constituted visitors of this corporation, whose privileges are established by several Acts of Parliament.