Avast, a post! My first in over a year – Ben has been putting me to shame of late. I was in Dublin this past week visiting my Grandparents. I had a day in town to “see the sights”, but as I’ve been to Dublin several times I wasn’t interested in hitting the standard tourist attractions (Guinness Brewery, Book of Kells, Grafton St. etc) which I have already seen. I did a quick Google search for more obscure Dublin attractions, and happened upon Marsh’s Library, the first public library in Ireland, opened in 1701 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and “one of the very few 18th century buildings left in Dublin that is still being used for its original purpose”.

The library is quite a treasure – All of the original shelves and books are on display, dating back to the 18th century. Also on display are the wrought-iron cages in which scholars would be locked with certain valuable tomes. The whole thing reminded me of The Archives at The University of Imre. Most astonishing, the library is still a working library – the majority of the books are still available for perusal by scholars or interested members of the public.

In addition, they had two exhibitions (on The Bible, and on Medicine), with display cases showing books and passages relating to the subject. One piece in the Medical exhibition caught my eye in particular – a glorious Satyre entitled “Solid Reasons Humbly Offer’d to the Consideration of the Publick for Castrating Physicians, Quack-Doctors, &c.” published in 1725.  I have posted this below, with the kind permission of the Marsh’s Library Keepers. What is remarkable is how relevant this piece remains in our era of dishonest “Alternative Medicine” practitioners on the one hand, and iniquitous Medicine-for-Profit on the other (so long as you can look past the distasteful reference to violent colonialism in the first paragraph).

(click to further embiggen)

I think the author makes some good points. Afterall, should not the CEOs of big pharmaceutical companies who put profit ahead of the provision of (easily manufactured) drugs to those who desperately need them “be deem’d guilty of Manslaughter, at least, and suffer Castration as aforsaid?” And should not Alternative Medicine practicioners who, ignoring the lack of evidence for their ministrations and who “thro’ Ignorance, Envy or Neglect, destroys the Patient [they] might otherwise have sav’d” be found “guilty of a Breach of Trust, and that of the highest Nature?” I certainly think so.

What most fascinates me about pieces of this kind, however, is that despite the wide advances in technology we humans have to show for ourselves, nothing ever really seems to change.

Marsh’s Library: http://www.marshlibrary.ie