the fourteenth international congress of medicine
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1188 THE FOURTEENTH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF MEDICINE.
health in the Catholic University Medical School, Dublin,and examiner in sanitary science in the Royal University,as delegate to attend the International Health Congress tobe held at Brussels in September.
THE annual dinner of the Pharmaceutical Society of GreatBritain will take place in the Whitehall Rooms of the H6telMctropole, London, on Tuesday, May 19th next, at 7 P. M.
THE Paris Societe de Pharmacie has elected Dr. D.MacAlister of the University of Cambridge a correspondingmember of the Society.
THE FOURTEENTH INTERNATIONALCONGRESS OF MEDICINE.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
Madrid, April 17th.STARTING from England, Paris is naturally the first stage
on the road to Madrid, and here it must be confessed theCongress news was not encouraging. First of all, theFrench railway companies had never so much as heard ofthe International Congress of the Medical Press, but werequite ready for the influx of travellers desirous to attend theFourteenth International Congress of Medicine. A reductionof 50 per cent. has been promised on the railway fares and isgranted, but no congress should ever be satisfied with suchan assertion, however correct in the literal sense. It isalways necessary to go into details. In this instance thedetails are numerous and have in some instances provedfatal, for instead of reducing they have considerablyincreased the expenses incurred. The reduction undoubtedlyis granted, but the intending traveller must not only possessall his papers in perfect order but when he presents themat the railway station he is told that they must be counter-signed by the secretary of the Orleans Railway Company,not at the railway station, but at the head offices in thecentre of the town, and that this will only cover the journeyfrom Paris to Bordeaux. For the rest, from Bordeaux to theSpanish frontier he must obtain the signature of the Midior Southern Railway Company, which is quite a differentcompany and its offices are in another street. Further, ifthe intending traveller happened to be a French medicalpractitioner he was informed that the railway companysecretaries would not give their signatures unless his paperswere signed by Dr. Brouardel who until recently was deanof the Faculty of Medicine and is going to Madrid where hewill preside over the French delegation. As might well beexpected, Dr. Brouardel protested vehemently. He was nota clerk that he should be called upon to sign railway passes.It was no concern of his ; why should he be expected tocertify to the bona fides of every French medical prac-titioner ? 7 Such a work would require time and as a resultthe applications that were made to him involved a delayof at least 24 hours. So many were the complaints thusoccasioned that one of the railway officials suggested that itmight be avoided by the French practitioners professing tocome from the French-speaking provinces of Belgium. It isin consequence of this suggested stratagem that an extra-ordinary number of members will appear to have arrivedfrom Mons in Belgium. However, and in spite of everyeffort, it took at least four days to obtain all the necessarysignatures. It is true that for the modest charge of onefranc an agency undertook to attend to these formalities, butmany do not care to trouble an agency from which they arenot obtaining hotel and other tickets, and the agency itselfwas complaining about the amount of unrequited work thusentailed.
Dr. Blondel, as general secretary of the InternationalAssociation of the Medical Press, has been striving to facilitatematters and has suggested that a special office should beopened at the Orleans station where all the formalitiescould be gone through at once and on the spot and thusthe delay be saved of some four days in Paris. One ofthe two companies had assented to this when I leftParis. If the other company also agrees then the troublesdescribed will cease to exist. In the meanwhile I had fortravelling neighbour on the way southwards from Paris a
member of the Congress who had come with his wife fromPoland. He entered France at the frontier between Metzand Nancy. There no one knew anything about the Congressand any reduction on the fare was refused, but he didobtain a statement that he had paid full single fare andtherefore vaguely hoped that somehow or other he would be
, allowed to return for nothing. In Paris he was treated mostpolitely, but it took him the full four days to obtain thenecessary signatures. During this time he calculates thathe spent 250 francs and that the value of the reduction inrailway fares that he obtained will amount to 120 francs, sothat he is distinctly a loser by the transaction. Further,having thus lost four days he is no longer able to carry outan intended trip to Andalusia before the Congress meets.
Over and above these difficulties the most alarmingrumours have been in circulation a.s to the exorbitant pricesof the hotel accommodation in Madrid. My Russian fellowtraveller had sent 50 francs to Madrid so that a room mightbe secured for him ; the receipt of the money had never beenacknowledged and he had not any idea whether any effortshad been made on his behalf. On arriving in the earlymorning at Madrid I found the agents at the station talkingglibly of 60 and 70 pesetas per day for a room, that 6000 or
i 8000 members of the Congress were expected, and that there
were only 3000 rooms available. In Paris I had been assuredthat out of 400 French medical practitioners who had enrolled
themselves as members of the Medical Congress and hadpaid their subscriptions, only 160 were really going, the
! others being deterred by the fear of exorbitant charges and, formalities and difficulties. All these rumours have a founda.
tion of truth. There certainly have been difficulties and lossof time incurred with the companies, though this has beenobviated by the travelling agencies when employed forthat purpose. On the other hand, it is some of these
i travelling agencies that are, I was assured, responsible forthe alarming rumours concerning the prohibitive chargesmade at the hotels. There are some six hotels at Madrid
r that are known to the travelling public all over the world.r They are cosmopolitan hotels, such as may be found in any
large town and where the traveller who, though abroad,wants to change his immediate surroundings as little aspossible, will find much the same accommodation as exists inmost other parts of Europe. Some agents made a descentupon these hotels and themselves hired the greater part oftheir rooms. Having thus secured a monopoly and made a" corner in rooms they ran up the price to fancy figures.At the offices of the Congress I was told that Dr. Brouardelhad been asked 200 pesetas per day for a room in one of thewell-known hotels. Another delegate, an Englishman Ibelieve, is actually paying 150 pesetas per day for one largeroom on the second floor in another of these hotels. Had themembers of the Congress been able to deal directly with theproprietors or managers of the hotels they would have hadto pay more than the usual prices but nothing like suchextravagant charges.
All this is the more regrettable as after all there is nodifficulty whatsoever in getting rooms and at reasonablerates. The organisers of the Congress appointed a longtime ago a special committee to look after this matterunder the management of M. Ulrich Frei. Any numberof inhabitants of Madrid have been to this committee andoffered one or two rooms in their own private houses, andthese, together with the hotels and boarding houses that arenot known internationally, suffice for all purposes. If it werenecessary sleeping accommodation could be found for 10,000visitors, and even according to the most sanguine expecta-tions there will not be more than about 5000 Spanish andforeign members of the Congress. At the offices on theevening of April 16th the names of 2180 foreign members,who are to be accompanied by 630 ladies, had been inscribed.But it is quite certain that many persons who have paidtheir subscription will at the last moment alter their mindsand not come. On the other hand, there are many otherswho never intended to come and will join only at thelatest hour. According to one of the committee men incharge of the correspondence, &c., the number of membersactually present at the Congress, counting both Spanishand foreign members, will not amount to 3000. As alreadystated the most sanguine scarcely count on more than 5000.Therefore there should be no difficulty about securing roomsand any extortion that has been practised has been due to"rigging the market " and not to any paucity of accommoda-tion. This is a somewhat serious matter. If the repre-sentatives of the medical profession cannot meet withoutgiving rise to a sort of conspiracy to extort from them
1189THE FOURTEENTH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF MEDICINE.
1190 THE FOURTEENTH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF MEDICINE.
extravagant payments some measure must be taken to checksuch practices. Combination must be met by combination,and this to some extent is what has actually been done by thecreation of the Service des Logements. I was pleased tofind on arriving at Madrid that what was stated in THELANCET on this subject in the issue of Feb. 14th (p. 456)has proved to be correct. Nor is this all. This Servicewill have its agents now at the railway stations to await thepassengers and give them every help the moment theyarrive and thus, if possible, prevent their falling into thehands of the harpies who are seeking unduly to exploit thesituation. It only remains for the medical men to supportthe organisation formed by their fellow medical men of thereception committee and not be led into the toils of thosewho have sought to create a monopoly and then to practiseextorti