Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Doctors and the dictator

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 19 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3306
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    In his review of Rengger and Longchamp’s Historical Essay on the Paraguayan Revolution and the Dictatorship of Doctor Francia, Thomas Carlyle, who from the safety of Cheyne Row, Chelsea, was much in favour of the said dictator, whom he greatly admired, wrote: “The Messrs Rengger and Longchamp were, and we hope still are, two Swiss surgeons; who in the year 1819 resolved on carrying their talents into South America, into Paraguay, with views towards ‘natural history,’ among other things.”

    The heavy sarcasm disguises an inaccuracy. The Swiss surgeons said in their book (actually written by Rengger alone) that they were primarily interested in natural history and hoped to keep themselves by practising medicine. They were not interested …

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