Ancients or moderns?BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2410 (Published 30 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2410
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
It is a melancholy reflection (but also a testimony to the fact of more recent progress) that the question of whether the ancients or moderns were best was a live one in the first half of the 18th century, with regard not only to literature, where progress is perhaps rather difficult to assess or measure, but also to medicine, where progress is rather less difficult to recognise.
Francis Clifton, who had an MD from Leiden and was physician to the Prince of Wales, wrote his book The State of Physick, Ancient and Modern, Briefly Consider’d: With a Plan for the Improvement of It in 1732. He had no …