Dr. Whitworth to Dr. Thomas Young: Not Under the Least Obligation to Attend to Your Childish Ostentatious Challenge

in about Warren

Date: May 11, 1767

“Messieurs Edes and Gill, Please to insert the following.

It was not my design when I last wrote to take any further notice of Young, or any thing he might publish; but as he has called upon me to appoint time and place to meet him, and fairly discuss those points in debate between us – I cannot help taking notice there has been a time when he very carefully avoided meeting me: particularly in the case of Mrs. D—s, he enquired of the family to know at what time I visited her, they told him I commonly visited in the morning; he immediately said, that to prevent my seeing him, he would always visit in the evening, which he accordingly did. – But as he did not then chuse to see me, I do not think myself under the least obligation to attend to his childish ostentatious challenge.  I will only inform him, that if he has an inclination to bring matters to a public examen, I am fully prepared for him, and have designedly given him so fair an opening, that none can be at a loss to determine who it is that meanly endeavors to conceal his ignorance beneath the mask of superior knowledge; but if he does not embrace this opportunity – let him remember, that he will one day be bro’t to a trial where the ghosts of Hodsdon, P—el, D—p—r and D—s, and may others will also be summoned to appear.

[- Dr.]M[iles]. Whitworth.

Source: Boston Gazette, May 11, 1767, issue 632, p. 1

Commentary: Dr. Miles Whitworth ups the ante in his very public accusations of Dr. Thomas Young’s alleged malpractice. He dismisses Young’s invitation to a public debate of the medical issues and names dead patients whom Whitworth believes Young had killed with ill-informed, dangerous, and inappropriate ministrations.

Whitworth writes in a sarcastic tone, characterizing Young’s behavior as skulking and devious in avoiding him in the course of care of Mrs. Davis, and inviting readers to guess at the names of patients he says Young has wronged. D—s is Mrs. Davis, as previously identified in one of Dr. Young’s letters, Hodsdon’s name is spelled out, while P—el and D—p—r are coyly hinted with missing letters. In a town of 15,000 souls, precise “Hodsdon, P—el, D—p—r, and D[avi]s” identities would all have been suspected , known personally, or heard at church funeral services.

Will the university and apprentice trained physicians of Boston, in the absence of any medical society and legal recourse to malpractice actions, close ranks to shame and destroy Dr. Young’s two year old medical practice in the town? Tune in next week for another installment. The fireworks are just beginning as Dr. Joseph Warren enters the fray.

Previous post:

Next post: