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often wins our friendship. He never
comes as a judge or a censor. We
feel at our ease with him. Our esteem
for him is personal, and independent of
all considerations of rank or fortune.
He is a stranger to all the conflicting
interests which divide parties from
each other, and can visit persons of
all shades of opinion and of views the
most oppo^te, whether of religion or
politics, without causing the shadow
of an ofience. From all this it results
that the doctor is often admitted to the
closest intimacy by men oocnpying
the highest positiDns. Hence the foot-
ing of quasi-equality accorded, often to



the obscure son of .^Iseulapius, raised
by his profession to a post of dignity
and benevolent authority, which, while
it obtains for him consideration and
respect, clashes in nothing with the so-
cial importance of the patient. It was
so, in a certain degree, in the seven*
teenth century, when classes were di-
vided much more widely than at pres-
ent, and reverence for birth and rank
much stronger ; and we have numer-
ous instances of the friendship subsist-
ing between doctors and the highest in
the land«

It is true that the medical faculty
did actually number amongst its mem-
bers men who had undoubted claims
to nobility ; and we find from Lar-
roque's Traite de la Noblesse that doc-
tors, as distinguished from apotheca-
ries and surgeons, were held not to
derogate from their rank by the prac-
tice of medicine. But further, the
medical profession was held to confer
a species of nobility ; for of nobility
there were reckoned to be three sorts
— ^nobility of race, nobility of royal
concession, and personal nobility, such
as in peculiar cases we find conferred
on the whole bourgeoisie of certain
towns. This distinction ofiended no
one, as it expired with its recipient,
on whom while living it conferred
many practical advantages, such as
exemption from taxation. In Paris
this circumstance was of small mo-
ment, because, as members of the
university, the doctors enjoyed all
manner of imraunlLies. But in the
provinces it was difierent. In the
south of France, in particular, these
privileges were energetically claimed
on the ground of the honoi^ of the pro-
fession, and they were traditionally re-
ferred to Roman times. Mofitpellier



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was full of these reminiscences of the
past, and in Dauphine the nobilitj of
the doctors was even transmitted from
&ther to son. At Ljons it was re-
membered that Antonius Musa had
cured the Emperor Augustus, and had
received a gold ring for himself and
his successors in the art. ^Accipe
annulum aureum, in signum nobilitat-
is ab Augusto et Senatn Romano med«
ids ooncessae," were the words used in
the aggregation of a doctor hj the
college of that city.

The misfortune was that there must
of necessity be some contrast between
this theoretical nobility and the prac-
tical life of the physician. He must,
if he would gain his living, go from
house to house indiscriminately, and
receive his pay from all classes, like
the butcher or the baker. The doc-
tors endeavored to smooth over this'
anomaly by affecting considerable
state. They might be seen threading
the streets of Paris mounted on mules,
in large wigs and with ample beards.
The mule gave an almost episcopal
air. ^The beard is more than half
the doctor," says Toinette, in the Ma-
lade Jmagtnaire, When the fashion-
able 6u6naut took to a horse, it raised
quite a scandal, which Boileau has
commemorated :

''Ga6naat, snr son cheral, en pasunt m^'^dft-
bouse."

Many, not satisfied with this degree of
state, paid their visits in the long ma-
gisterial robe, with scarlet hose and
band, the famous rabtxt, to which Pas-
cal wittily alludes when he says,
^ Who could place any confidence in
a doctor without a rc^ T' Not only
were the doctors careful to uphold
their dignity by these forms, but the
Paris Faculty was extremely jealous
in maintaining its exclusive position.
Its members not merely refused, as
was natural, to meet in consultation
any of the host of quacks with which
the capital swarmed, and who found
frequent access to the houses of the
great lords and ladies, often as scep-
tical in regard to orthodox practition-
ers as they were credulous in the ex«



treme of the pretensions of these heret-
ical interlopers, but they likewise
stood aloof from men as respectable
as themselves — the honorable doctors
of Montpellier, of whom perhaps a few
words anon. In the meantime we
will take a hasty glance at the members
of the Paris Faculty apart from their
official life ; for they were men after
all, and did not always figure in wig
and gown. They nui^t have had their
private as well as public existence;
but it is a more difficult task to obtain
a sight of them en deshabiUe.

In history, of course, it were vain
to seek anything bey^jnd the record of
public events ; and even the contem-
porary memoirs of the ageof the Grand
Monarque tell us more about the court
and its festivities, the rSunione of the
wits of the day, and the current gos-
sip and scandal of the hour, than about
the ordinary domestic life of any class,
particularly of such as ranged below
the aristocratic level. We are too apt
to believe, from the revelations that
are made in the light literature of the
time, that the brilliant surface of the
Augustan age of France concealed a
general mass of corruption in Uie
higher classes, and of misery in the
lower. But this would be a false con-
clusion. The bourgeoieief as a body,
were complete strangers to the fer-
ment of ambition and intrigue so rife
in the upper strata of society. They
had their own interests, their own pur-
suits, and were in the main an indus-
trious and worthy class, sufficiently in-
dependent to be able often to regard
those above them with a secret, and
npt always undeserved, contempt. To
confine ourselves, however, to the doo-
tors. Two courses were open to them.
They might shut themselves up within
the round of their own immediate occu-
pations and studies, andlimit themselves
to the social circle of thei» coUeaguea
and compeers. Tiie faculty, as we
have seen, was a little community in
itself, with its own traditions, laws, dis-
tinctions, glories. Here, satisfied with
their moderate gains, the doctors
might preserve Sieir independence



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and live in all secoritj and honor ; or,
on the other hand, thej might try
their fortune in the world and seek the
favor of the great The enterprise in-
volved a certain loss of liberty and a
corresponding detriment to that nice
delicacy of feeling which is the guar-
dian of severe probity. There were
doctors of both kinds ; those of the first
class were by far the most namerous.
The others were the richest ; but the
esteem in which they were held by
their brethren was in the inverse ra-
tio to the wealth acquired by this com-
promise of dignified independence.

The illustrious dean, Guy Patin,
who enjoyed an immense reputation
in his day, furnishes an example of
the life of voluntary isolation and of
practical activity systematically con-
fined to professional or scientific sub-
jects. He is now remembered chiefly
for that on which he probably least
valued himself — ^his epistolary corre-
spondence, never designed for publica-
tion, but which is extremely interest-
ing, not only as a record of events
great and small, the memory of which
has long passed away, but for the
freshness both of ideas and style for
which it is remarkable. These letters
exhibit Guy Patin as an apparent
compendium of contradictions^ — a be-
liever in medicine, a sceptic in almost
all else ; obstinately tenacious of the
privileges of the faculty, but full of
liberal, and even republican, aspira-
tions ; confident in the steady advance
of science, but always railing at mod-
em times and extoUing the past Yet
there is a clue to many of these seem-*
ing contradictions; Giiy Patin was a
dean. Before he was dean, you felt
that he would be dean ; later, he has
been dean. He has studied minutely
all the details of the organized institu-
tion to which he is indebted for all
that he is — he has made its spirit and
doctrine his own ; for the faculty has
a doctrine. The experimental method
is newer in medicine than in the other
sciences. In the seventeenth century
we find in its place simple observa-
tion guided by ^eory ; w^ch theory



was no other than that of the fiither
of medicine, Hippocrates — ^viz., that
nature tends to a cure, and that dis-
ease is but an outward manifestation
of a salutary efibrt of the vital organi-
zation to counteract the destructive
causes at work. The physician's part
waa to aid this process rather than to
interfere with it This view, we may
observe, is finding iavor anew in cer-
tain quarters in our own day ; and we
may perhaps be allowed humbly to ex-
press an instinctive leaning toward any
theory of which the practical result
might be a system of comparative non-
intervention. But this by the way.
Certaioly Hippocrates's fimdameptal
principle did not deter medical practi-
tioners of the olden time from much
painful interference with the workings
of nature under the plea of assistance ;
a course to which their elaborate doc-
trine concerning the humors of the
body — which, however, they did not
derive from Hippocrates, but of which
the germ exists in the other great au-
thority, Gralen — ^much contributed.

The period we are considering was
one of transition. Men felt the need
of progress ; and this feeling evoked
a number of medical adventurers — the
revolutionists, as we may call them, of
medicine. Placed between two oppo-
site systems — ^the one resting on tra-
dition and on principles, at any rate,
in great measure sound; the other
calling itself progress, but having
nothing to allege save a number of
vague aspirations and anticipations,
some genuine discoveries mingled with
much baser metal, and half-truths ob-
scured by palpable error — can we
wonder that the faculty should be
tempted to confound all novelties in
one sweeping act of reprobation, and
intrench itself in a state of obstinate
opposition? Guy Patin shared this
feeling, though not to excess. He
was no enemy, as we have said, to a
wise and safe progress ; but he had
the shallowness and narrowness which
bel(Higs to a certain range of clever-
ness. He was not the man to accept
anything new which it required



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breadtb, elevation, and compTOhen-
siTeneas of mind to discern. He had
also his £&vorite theory of simplicitj ;
and this made him suspidoos of aught
which seemed at yariance therewith*
He looked askance, for instance, at
Harvej and the circulation of the
blood. We have said that Guy Pa-
tin was a sceptic, yet he was not an
unbeliever. His language certainly is
often extremely irreverent ; but just as
he sometimes speaks in terms bonLering
on modem liberalism, while all the
time, by his attachment to medical
traditions, to the faculty, and to mon-
archy, he is securely anchored in re-
spect for antiquity and authority, so is
it as regards religion, and we must
not conclude iirom his free expressions
that he is a decided freethinker. Nev-
ertheless it must be confessed that he
betrays a very uncatholic mind and
temper ; and as we cannot believe
that he stood alone in this respect, it
may serve as an indication of the
spirit of many of his order, and of the
prevalence of opinions which were
later to bear such bitter fruit.

Guj\ Patin was content with his
sphere ; he had no desire to overstep it.
His friends and intimates were from
amongst lus own medical brethren, or
they were members of the legal and
magisterial body* By marriage he
was connected with the latter class ;
and moreover there was always a
dose analogy of manners and senti-
ments betwixt the medical body and
the nohUsse de rohe. To his friend-
ship with the President de Thou,
brother to Cinq Mars' unfortunate ac-
complice, we may attribute much of
his animosity to the minister Riche-
lieu. Guy Patin is, in short, a system-
atic grumbler, a regular frondeur ;
but it is chiefly in talk and specula-
tion. He is in reality no revolution-
ist. Speaking of his frequent social
meetings with two lawyer friends, he
observes: ''Our conversation is al-
ways gay. If we talk of religion or
of state afiairs, it is always histor-
ically, without dreaming of either re-
formation or sedition* We converse



chiefly on Kteraiy sabjects* With a
mind thus recreated, I return home^
where, after some little converse with
my books, or with the recoid of some
past consultation, I retire to rest."

Such was the honoxabie position of
an independent member of the fiicnl'-
ty. But what was the oonditioD' and
social estimate of those who sought
the favor of the nobility? Undoubt-
edly their standmg was much infeiior
to that which they came to occupy a
hundred years latere— thanks to die
spread of the utilitarian spirit, whidi
raised all the positive sdencea into
high esteem. In the dghteenth cen-
tury fine ladies had their pet phyai*
dan, as they had their philosophic or
poetic protigi ; but in the seventeentii
a great personage thought he conferred
much honor on a doctor by seeking a
cure at his hands. The nobles were
glad, it is true, to have their familiar
physician ; though the physcian, if he
had any self-respect, must have felt
that he paid rather dear iw admissioa
to this familiarity, not to speak of tlie
actual large sums by which, in the
case at least of princes of the blood-
royal, they had to buy their offices.
But we are here chiefly speaking of a
less aspiring class, who angled for the
casual good graces of the aristocratic
order. See how Madame de Sevign^
speaks of the doctors, whom she is
always consulting and always unmerw
cifully quizzing. See her matidoos
pleasure when she can g(^ four or
five together to discuss her bile, her
.spleen, her humors, when she would
ply them with questions and contrive
to make them contradict eadi other.
She talks of the profession as a hum*
bug, yet she never passes through a
town without consulting what sbd
calls ^the chief ignoramuses of the
place.'' She consults them, and theo
turns them into ridicule. They know
this, and take their legitimate reraage
in high charges. But strange to say,
although so contemptoous toward the
privileged doctors, Madame de 8»-
vign^ has quite a weakness for ail
quads or xmliceased dabbieia ia tbQ



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art, and is eyen credokms in their re-
gard. HoweveTy it would seem that
aeienoe with this lively lady is not the
sole requirement. ^Mj dear/' she
saysi speaking of a certain elegant
Signor Antonio, an Italian son of
.^culapius, ^' he is twenty-eight years
old, with die most beautiful and
charming face I ever saw. He has
Madame de Mazarin's eyes, and his
teeth are perfection. The rest qf his
face is what you might conceive Ri-
naldo's to have been, with large black
curls, altogether making the prettiest
head in the world. He is dressed
like a prince, and is a thorough bon
gargcn.^* We are a long way off the
wigs and rabaUy it will be seen ; but
we have got a clue to the secret. It
is the mddecin ban jargon Madame de
Sevign^ is in search of. She finds
him at the bathsr-^« eatix. He has
none of the pedantry, possibly little of
the science, of his Paris brethren of
the faculty. He is a man of the
world, and can sacrifice to the graces.
Medically, his part seems restricted
to drenching and dosing his patients
with hot water. Tired of court
amusements, they fiy to the douche
lind the vapor-bath to e^Epel those in-
ward vapors of which Frenchwomen,
and indeed our own great-grand-
mothers, complained so much. Ma-
dame de Sevign6 goes through this
ordeal perseveringly ; but she has her
alleviations. "My doctor" — ^this is
another pet bon gargon — ^\a very
good. Instead of resigning myself to
two hours' 6nntM, inseparable from la
euerie (the sweating process) I make
him read to me. He knows what
life is ; he has no trickery about him ;
he deals with medicine like a gentle-
man {en gakaU homme) ; in short, he
amuses me."

At court the doctors had more seri-
ous trials. Beside the task of pleas-
ing this or that capricious and exact-
ing patron, they had to beware of dis-
pleasing twenty others. The princes
of the blood shared with the sover-
eign the right to choose iheir own
physician from any quarter they



pleased, who became forthwith invest-
ed ipio facto with all the privileges of
the Paris faculty. Possibly, to make
a little display of authority, they
would often decline selecting him
firom the honored precincts of the Rue
de la Bdcherie, and perhaps take a
doctor of Montpellier. Hence inter-
minable jealousies. Then the doctors
would sometimes be drawn into mix*
ing themselves with party polltios,
and get into the Bastille; but this
was their own fault. To escape the
shaft of ridicule was more difficult
It appears certain that in V Amour
Midecin Moli^re ventured upon sa*
tirizing four of the court physicians
under assumed names; and this in
the presence of the king himself, be-
fore whom the piece was played.
Possibly Louis, whose docility to his
physicians stands in remari^able con-
trast with his 10% distance toward
others, might not be sorry to indulge
occasionally in a laugh at his masters^
or have a brief fling of independence^
like a truant schoolboy. Of his ha-
bitual bondage to their authority w^
have the record in a journal of the
royal health, magnificently bound in
folio and besprinkled wUhJleurs-de^iSf
which has been preserved. It was
begun in 1652 at the desire of the
boy-sovereign himself— -who thus gave
early tokens of his methodical tastes-—
and it was kept up till four years pre-
vious to his death, when it suddenly
ceases, possibly because even the pen
of flattery became unable to disguise
the approaches of inevitable death.
The whole is in the handwriting of
Louis' three successive physicians,
Valot, Daquin, and Fagon* No man,
it is said, is a hero to his vakt de
chambre ; still leas, we may imagine,
to his apothecary. That the king
should have to submit to aU those
medical appliances whidi in Moli^re's
pages are recorded in such plain terms
was perhaps a necessity — judged at
least to be so; but that etiquette
should require that the whole court
should be r^^ularly apprised of all
these details, is a litde surprismg.



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The diary is, however, interlarded
with no small amount of flattery.
Yalot inaugurates his office, for in-
stance, by a memoir on the king's
temperament, which was that of
which ''heroes are made;'' and all
is in the same adulatory and
stilted style. But the writer is
by no means unsparing of self*
laudation. It is with much evident
self-complacency that he registers for
the benefit of posterity the different
remedies with which ** heaven inspir-
ed him" to prescribe for the preserva-
tion of a health so precious. '' Plas-
ter for the king," "potion for the
king," and so on, figure in large
characters. He can also play the
prophet, and announce coming meas-
les, dysenteries, etc, from which the
king i$ tobe exempt There are tem-
porary interruptions to Yalot's abso-
lute rule; these were the seasons
when Louis was campaigning; the
monarch on these occasions despised
the care of his health, and threw
physic to the dogs. The doctor
groaned and remonstrated, but was
fain to await the close of the cam-
paign to resume his authority and
make up for lost time. He died in
his office. His nephew and succes-
sor, Daquin, was a Montpellier doc-
tor and a converted Jew. He was
a clever man of moderate science.
But he entered on his charge in
difficult days. A gouty prince, sub-
ject to melancholy, and desirous to
abate nothing of his customary at-
tention either to business or amuse-
ment, is not an easy patient to man-
age. Beside, the royal valetudinarian
met with sundry accidents while un-
der this physician's care. T>aquin
was an accomplished courtier, and
even improved upon Valot in the art
of flattery. From him we learn the
remarkable fact that ^ the king is sub-
ject, like other men, to catc^ cold.**
With all his tact, Daquin did not es-
cape disgrace. Perhaps he made too
undisguised a display of his acquisi-
tive disposition ; indeed, he was a no-
torious beggar. It is related that one



day Louis, being informed of the
death of an old officer, expressed re-
gret, saying that the man had been to
him a &ithful servant, with the merit,
rare in a courtier, of never having
asked for anything. While making
this observation, he- fixed his eyea
pointedly on Daquin. The physician,
no way disconcerted, naively said,
''May one venture to inquire, sire,
what your majesty gave him ?" The
king was silenced, for the bashful
courtier in question had never received
any royal favor whatsoever. Daquin
was dismissed in 1693. He had ask-
ed for the archbishopric of Tours for
his son. He had so often offended, if
offence it were considered, in making
bold requests, that it is hardly likely
that this application was the real
cause of his disgrace. It was proba-
bly rather the consequence of the
kmg's rupture with Mme. de Montes-
pen, to whom Daquin owed his eleva-
tion. It appears that ever since the
king's marriage he had found some
difficulty in maintaining his position,
from which it is natural to infer that
adverse influences were at work ; in-
deed, it was a proUgiy or rather a
friend, of Mme. de Maintenon who
was promoted to fill his place— a
circumstance corroborative of this
supposition. Fagon appears to have
been a very estimable man, and the
attachment and mutual esteem sub-
sisting between him and his patron-
ess, with whom he had first become
acquainted in his capacity of physician
to the Due de Maine, never abated.*
He won the confidence also of Louis,
and the favor he enjoyed while still in
his position of secondary physician
was much increased at the period of
the king's great illness by a trifling
circumstance which made a strong im-
pression on the monarch's mind. One
night all the surgeons and doctors,



♦ Figon WKS the nephew of Quy de la Broese,
the foander of the JondiAtftf JM, now deTeloped
into the maffniflcentMaseam of Nataral Sctenee,
and bimseiralso an eminent botanist He wan
named proreeeor of bouny at thlseetabliahment
by Valot, who, as flrat phyaiolaa to the king, was
iti tnperintendent.



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687



Daqcim included, had ventured to go
to bed. The king liad taken a bouiUon^
and the fever seemed to be subdued.
But Fagon, unobservod by the rest,
sfipped back and took his post in an
arm-chair in the ante-room. He was
thus at hand to comfort and adminis*
ter a iisctne to the sick monarch, whose
fever shortlj returned, and who, al-
beit with the fear of Daquin greatly
before his eyes, ventured to accept the
services of the attentive subaltern.
The tisane sent Louis to sleep, and
made Fagon's fortune. Three months
afterward he was first in command.
He deserved his elevation to an of-
fice which was a post of no slight
honor and profit** He bore his hon-
ors meekly, and was remarkable for
a spirit of disinterestedness as rare
as it was creditable to him. Fagon
closes the list of the court physi-
cians of the seventeenth century, and
indeed carries us on into the eight-
eenth. All reserve being made in his
fikvor, it must be confessed that the
great dramatist's satire was richly de-
served by those doctors of royalty,
whose ambitious manoeuvres, intrigues,
and paltry rivalries were enough to
excite the indignation of any honest
man.

We have seen that the independent
physician, who stood aloof from court-
ing the great, could lead an honorable
and tranquil life ; but it would be a
mistake to conclude that profound
peace reigned within the medical cor-
poration itself. On the contrary, it
was the scene of a bitter internecine
war between the men of the new
id^as, the men of progress, and the
adherents to tradition and the receiv-
ed system. But to excite men's pas-



* The lcing*B physician ranked with the great
officers of the crown, and received orders Trom



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