Medicine, A Divine Profession
John Coakley Lettsom (1744-1815) was a famous English physician, philanthropist and chronicler of the human condition. On this date in 1791, he wrote in a letter that medicine is not a lucrative profession. It is a divine one. Born in the British Virgin Islands on a cotton plantation, Lettsom attended school in Great Britain and returned to the Virgin Islands in 1776 to provide medical treatment to the inhabitants there. His Quaker beliefs spurred him to free the slaves on his familys plantation. Upon returning to England, Lettsom started both the Medical Society of London and the Royal Humane Society. Conscious of the social context of disease, Lettsom commented about a down-on-her-luck patient, Money, not physic, will cure her.
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