Anti-Establishment Early Doctor: Ambrose George Campbell

Early hinterland medics were a curious collection of men.  In Frontier Flames, F C Metrowich tells of Ambrose George Campbell, a cantankerous doctor who arrived with the 1820 settlers. The son of Major-General Campbell, he was a clever surgeon, good general practitioner and witty writer.  However, in those robust days of freedom of speech and writing he often dipped his pen in bile, to point out the weaknesses and foibles of his contemporaries and to attack the government. He for instance once asked “Why is Colonel Somerset like a harp struck by lightning?” and answered himself stating: “because he is a blasted lyre”! By 1840 he was publishing a scurrilous, virulent fortnightly newspaper called The Echo. This newspaper, which had a short, but merry existence, had a clearly defined policy: it was anti-government, anti-colonist, anti-Wesleyan, anti-Grahamstown Journal, in fact anti-everything and everyone. Despite the fact that he was involved in numerous lawsuits, the quarrelsome, vindictive, Dr Campbell was quite irrepressible.


© Rose’s Roundup, Nov. 2012 (No 226)

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