HECTOR CAMPBELL, ESQ.
Fined and imprisoned, in the Year 1808, for acting as a Physician without a Licence
MR CAMPBELL, though convicted of practising without the leave of the College of Physicians, had been a surgeon in the navy, was a man of science and skill, and, but for a misplaced pride, might have readily passed his examination and obtained his diploma.
He was indicted by the Royal College of Physicians, in Warwick Lane, for unlawfully prescribing and practising physic, etc., in London, and within seven miles round the same, he not having been examined by the College with regard to his skill, or being licensed by them to practise these arts. In order to bottom the indictment, the charter constituting the Royal College of Physicians by Charles II was produced and read, and various details of the laws and by-laws of the college were stated and proved. By one of these by-laws, confirmed by the charter, as also by an Act of the legislature, any person who presumed to exercise the calling of a physician, etc., he not being licensed so as to exercise that vocation, was to be summoned by a summons and monition to appear before the College. The defendant, having carried on these arts for some time, was at length summoned to appear before the censor of the College, on the 6th of March. This summons was issued by Dr Harvey, the registrar, by authority of the censors; but the defendant did not appear.
Dr Harvey deposed that on the 3rd of April he prepared an interdiction against Dr Campbell, by authority of the Board, which was signed by all its members on that day. He was a witness to the signature of the interdiction, and delivered it to Miller, the beadle. The whole Board, he said, did not sign in cases of summonses, but in those of interdictions they did.
Dr Pitcairn, one of the censors, was present when the defendant appeared before the College. The defendant seemed to plume himself on the eminence to which he said he had attained in the profession. He called himself Dr Campbell, and wrote prescriptions in the style in which physicians generally do. Campbell said the College had not acted impartially towards him, and had been impelled to resist him by unworthy motives; he added that two very eminent physicians had forced themselves into the profession by paying sums of money. On this the president desired Mr Campbell to be silent, and to withdraw, which the defendant refused to do, stating he had not come before the College unadvisedly, as he had consulted his lawyer on what conduct he ought to pursue. The defendant clapped his hand in his pocket and asked what was to pay; and, just before leaving the room, he was asked by the president whether he felt inclined to relinquish the practice of surgery and medicine he then carried on. The defendant replied in the negative; when he was told by the president that legal measures would, to a certainty, be resorted to in order to compel him so to do. The defendant made a most gross reply, distinguishing the Board as a set of scoundrels.
Dr Lambe proved that he had received a letter from the defendant after the above transaction, and Sir Lucas Pepys deposed that the letter had been handed over to him by Dr Lambe. The letter was expressive of the sorrow and contrition of the defendant for the intemperate expressions he had made use of to the College, and concluded with offering a most humble apology for his error.
Mr Nolan addressed the jury on the part of the defendant. He observed that if Dr Campbell had got the advice of a counsel, the advice he had used was false, erroneous and unwise. The defendant, it was his duty to state, had practised from the age of eighteen as a surgeon, with great credit and fame to himself and universal benefit to the public. This was in the country; and the defendant's anxiety for science and for extended knowledge in his profession induced him to take up his residence in the metropolis as a medical practitioner. He was summoned before the Royal College of Physicians, and in answer to these summonses he wrote a letter to Dr Harvey, civil and respectful in the extreme. He received an answer from the doctor in his capacity as an individual, not in his official character; but upon that it was unnecessary for him to enlarge. It was his object here to state the feelings of Dr Campbell, when he received a letter which irritated his mind, as a man and a gentleman. To this irritability in the defendant's temper was attributable all that followed. His mind had been broken by what he conceived to be asperity on the part of the College, and he so far forgot himself as to utter the offensive words described by Dr Pitcairn. The letter, however, which had been sent by Dr Campbell as an expiation of his offence was couched in such terms that pity came to his aid, and he understood that learned body did not mean to press for judgment before the Court should the defendant be convicted. Dr Campbell had done all that frail man could do. He had confessed his error, and had made a most befitting and becoming apology.
Lord Ellenborough, in his address to the jury, said it was impossible for him to anticipate what might be the effect of an appeal to the Court by the Royal College of Physicians, when the defendant might be brought up for judgment, in his behalf. That was not the point at issue: the jury had to consider whether, under all the circumstances of the case, they were convinced that the general counts and allegations in the indictment were made out. Were they convinced of that, they would find the defendant guilty; if, on the contrary, they entertained any reasonable doubt, they would give the defendant all the benefit of those doubts. The jury found the defendant guilty, and he was ordered to be imprisoned, and to pay a fine.