Friday, January 01, 2010

Quis Editet Ipsos Editores?

The Times newspaper is 225 years old today. To mark this event today's issue came with a facsimile of the very first. The front page has 4 columns, of which the left hand two are for advertisements. These include notices of warships soon to sail for Mediterranean ports, able to take cargo and maybe passengers. Each notice lists the coffee houses or walks where the commander may be found every morning, and the address of William Elyard, the agent I suppose. It appears the ships' commanders had a nice little earner on the side.

One advertisement caught my eye. let me quote it in full.

To the Readers of the London Medical Journal.
This day is first published, price 1s.
MEDICAL CRITICISM in London; written to
improve the Principles and Manners of the Editor of the
London Medical journal: To which are added the Con-
tents of the Treatise on Medical Sympathy, and a Post-
script, on account of a premature Review in a late Num-
ber of the London Medical Journal.
By a Society of Faculties;
Friends to the Public and Enemies to Imposition.
"Cum tua non edras, carpis mea carmina, Laeli,
"Carp re vel noli nostra, ede tua." 
                                                         MART. Epig.
This pamphlet has hitherto distributed gratuitously.
The repeated applications for them, particularly from the
country, have become so numerous, that the Society feel
themselves under the necessity of putting them into the
hands of a publisher.
Sold by J. Murray, Bookseller, Fleet-street.

I wonder what that was about. The London Medical Journal sounds like a professional publication. A Society of Faculties might be an association of apothecaries, barber-surgeons, snake-oil peddlers and the like. But I can only speculate.

No advertisements in The Times today carry classical epigrams, perhaps fortunately: Martial is misquoted here. The correct version follows. The Latin is lapidary, not easy to interpret, but I've done the best I could.

Cum tua non edas, carpis mea carmina, Laeli.
Carpere uel noli nostra uel ede tua.
[You do not publish yourself, yet you criticise my poems, Laelius.
Either stop carping at mine, or publish your own.]

Maybe I'll try to research this intriguing notice, to establish what occasioned it. It is rare indeed that a pamphlet is published to improve the principles and manners of the editor of a modern medical journal. No doubt many medical writers would relish the opportunity to do so.