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Book Reviews59 reflects this development and points the way to future thorough studies in this field. As the Way Opens makes lively and thought-provoking reading for historians, feminists, and the casually curious. Wallingford, PANancy V. Webster Curator of the Dead, Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866). By Michael Rose. London, Peter Owen, 1981. 148 pp. Illustrations, appendix, bibliography, index. £9.50. The author of this brief biography lets it be known at once in his preface that he does not consider his work definitive, and that his present aim is to take "one modest step" toward the recognition of a neglected pioneer in the medical profession who was also an active and faithful member of the Society of Friends. Within this unassuming framework the book may be said to succeed, but it leaves the inquiring reader far from satisfied. Most of us would know the name of Hodgkin only from the disease which he isolated and identified. Apparently he was kept from a more notable career by a series of unfortunate circumstances. At Guy's Hospital in London he occupied a position which bore the same strange name as the title of this book. His tenure diere was cut short by a disagreement with the all-powerful Treasurer of the Hospital, Benjamin Harrison. The disagreement had nothing to do widi medicine. Hodgkin maintained a lifelong interest in the preservation of native societies, which in the nineteenth century continued to be decimated by the incursion of imperialist and corporate profiteers. In the vanguard of these were, very often, the Christian missionaries. Harrison, in addition to his position of authority at Guy's Hospital, was also a member of the Grand Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company— later its Deputy Governor. Hodgkin had come into possession of information about what was really happening to the Indians and Eskimos of North America in the wake of the Hudson's Bay Company agents, and he felt obliged to report the situation to his superior and ask that he press for speedy reforms in the company's very profitable operations. Harrison, of course, denied that the report on which Hodgkin based his appeal was authentic, and Hodgkin eventually felt himself so out of favor with the hospital management that in 1837, at the age of thirty-nine, he resigned and all but brought his medical career to a close. The rest of his life was largely devoted to the Aborigines Protection Society which he helped to found. The APS was apparently a typically nineteenth century philanthropic organization devoted to "enlightened" colonialism. Rose judges it a failure in its efforts to stem the ruthless tide of territorial aggrandizement: "In 1909 the APS disbanded, not because its cause had finally prevailed, but because its purpose appeared to have been utterly overwhelmed." In his later years Hodgkin did considerable traveling, chiefly to learn more about native populations. His last journey was to the Holy Land, where he had gone to assist in a relief mission. He died therein 1866. To the other tragedies in Hodgkin's life must be added a personal one. He and his first cousin, Sarah Godlee, were childhood sweethearts, and 60Quaker History remained in love with each other throughout their lifetimes. But the Society of Friends forbade first-cousin marriages, and Hodgkin remained reluctantly obedient to Quaker instruction. Even after Sarah had married another and become widowed, Hodgkin, still a bachelor, took his case to Yearly Meeting and was turned down. Rather than be expelled from the Society he accepted the disappointment philosophically, and, at die age of fifty, married another widow with two grown sons after the elders of Nottingham Meeting were persuaded to admit her into membership. The picture of Thomas Hodgkin that emerges from Rose's book is that of an intelligent, idealistic, but pathetically ineffectual reformer whose failures appear to the reader to be the result not of the villainy of his antagonists (principally Harrison), but of some lack in his own personality. Tantalizingly incomplete as this picture is, there is still too much material here compressed into too small a space to make for easy reading. We may hope that with this beginning someone will undertake a more exhaustive...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 59-60
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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