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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX AND TIL DEN FOUNDATIONS

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LONDON SCENES AND LONDON PEOPLE.

A VISIT TO

BARBER-SURGEONS' HALL

In Aldersgate-street, the nobles of the Plantagenets and Tudors often had palaces; we frequently stumble on the remains of such in odd nooks and corners; and in this vulgar neighbourhood, Milton, one of the mightiest pillars of our country's glory, kept a boarding-school, for the pupils of which his tractate on Education was doubtless written. Turn to the left, into Falcon-square, and you will come to Monkwell-street, a narrow, dull, and primitivelooking spot, where, at the first glance, the houses and their inmates seem in a deep sleep, all is so quiet. About the centre, still to the left, you will find a curious heavy wooden doorway, surmounted by a strange grotesque head, with opening mouth and staring eyes, and the protruding face of some nondescript creature on each side. Over these queer masks there is a rude coat-of-arms, with a crest; in one of the quarterings three razors appear, and the motto recommends "Trust in God.” Well, this is the entrance to Barber-Surgeons' Hall. The present building was erected

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by Inigo Jones, in 1671, but there had been a former hall on the same spot, which claimed to have been coeval with Edward IV. A wide gulf now separates barbers and surgeons, but originally all medical skill was confined to the clergy, and as they required lay assistants for manual operations, they naturally enough employed the barbers, who were trusted by them in their own work, and readily gained sufficient knowledge to carry out the directions they received. The pole, which even now, in country places, projects over the shaver's shop-door, indicated at first that persons might be bled there, as the patient, when phlebotomy was performed, grasped a tall rod, to keep the arm steady. Of course clever men soon appeared amongst the barbers, and in no long time they began to practise as medical men-on the whole no doubt with advantage to the humbler classes ; their right to do so was quickly recognized by custum, and Henry VIII. granted them a charter of incorporation, which for several centuries was, the sole document which made their occupation legal. On entering from Monkwell-street, the building shows signs of neglect and disrepair; and first you come into a rather spacious hall, which is not often used, and, though elegant in its proportions, is bare and dirty. Quitting this, you enter an inner hall, probably sixty feet long by thirty wide, full of objects of the highest interest. There are several windows at the back, but the light is principally derived from a circular lantern in the centre, and this is a singularly beautiful specimen of the architect's talent. It is very lofty, and is encrusted at every point with exquisitely delicate carvings of fruit and flowers in every possible variety, “not done in plaster,” said our cicerone, “but cut out of the solid wood.” The walls are covered with extremely fine original paintings, and they look wonderfully fresh and well preserved, scarcely any of them showing the slightest appearance of decay. The work which instantly

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arrests the attention is Holbein's marvellous picture of Henry VIII. presenting a charter to the Company of Barber-Surgeons. There is a very admirable engraving from it, executed more than a century since, at the expense of the Corporation ; but it by no means gives a sufficient idea of the great merit of the piece. In length ten or eleven feet, in height five or six-a sheet of oak panel, hardly at all cracked, and the colours as fresh and brilliant as if but recently laid on-it gives a most vivid presentment of eighteen kneeling figures, all in their faculty robes and bareheaded, except five, who wear close velvet caps; thirteen of the number are without beards. All these heads are portraits, and on the shoulder of each individual is his name in full.' The features are amazingly various, and in the majority exceedingly intellectual; it would not be easy to find eighteen better specimens in our present College of Physicians. They must have been men of mark. One of them, Dr. Butts, is introduced in Shakspere's play of Henry VIII. ; another, Dr. Chambers (we think), is known to have attended Queen Anne Boleyn in her confinement with Elizabeth; and the names of most of them may be met with in old medical writings. The portrait of Dr. Penn was greatly admired by the late Sir Robert Peel, who, we were assured by the attendants, used to come to the Hall every month or two to look at it, and once offered the company £2,000 for this portrait, if they would permit him to cut it from the picture, he undertaking also to make good the damage, and supply its loss. At one of his visits he said (so asserts the man who does the talk here) that he should like to sleep on the table in the Hall, that he might have the pleasure of looking at the picture on waking in the morning. In the centre, on a chair of state, somewhat raised, sits the terrible Tudor, grand and grim, covered with his royal robes, holding the charter in one hand, and a drawn sword in the other; he

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