Letter from Harry Rainy, 4 Chapel Street, Bedford Row, London

Scope and Content

To W. Mackenzie, Royal Infirmary.

Rainy has decided to stay in London rather than going to Paris in order to see the Lock Hospital and Eye Infirmary. The hospitals are “not upon the whole conducted on the best plan, either for the Patients or the Pupils. There are about150 to 200 cases at the Eye Infirmary. The medical attendants are Dr Farre, Travers and Laurence. Farre is “unquestionably the best occulist. His manner is at first rather disagreeable, but he is ready to give any information, when he is asked…..The students are here treated wt much greater respect, than in Scotland. They converse wt the medical attendants, - with the patients & with one another, without the least restraint……At present Travers extracts all cataracts.”

The Lock Hospital, containing about 90 patients, is “Horridly dirty & ill managed. The Practitioners are Pearson, Blair & Macgregor. The latter is a kind of assistant to Pearson, but he is the only one that attends regularly….Blair’s patients are almost entirely under the direction of the House Surgeon, who is a self-sufficient ignorant coxcomb.” Pearson is “rather pondrous, but very candid & cautious in stating his ipinions. His practical knowledge is certainly great, but I should doubt, that he is a man of science.” Macgregor is a “good natured, pleasant, good for nothing sort of fish.” Mercury is used for treatment which renders many almost incurable. Rainy occasionally goes to St. Bartholomew’s. The house surgeon, Mr Ashburner, studied at Glasgow “He is a very intelligent, pleasant young man; & thro’ him I have access to see all the interesting cases, whenever I like. I was astonished to find the number of Patients at St Bartholomew’s only 400.”

Rainy is disappointed in the standard of the theatres. He has seen “all the great people repeatedly. Blucher - Alexander & Wellington completely eclipsed all the rest. There is to be a ridiculous exhibition in the parks…..I suppose for the amusement of the Prince Regent.” Twenty vessels “are to be blown up to gratify his Royal Highness.”