S. Weir (Silas Weir) Mitchell.

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-/ " There is the puzzle," said Vincent. " You can't
separate the form-power from the informing intellect-
ual capacity in poetry. The greatest poets are always
the greatest masters of verse ; the lesser ones may be
melodious, but are never capable of the higher music
of verse. The architects of thought are the master
builders. Then, too, it is a curiously dominative tem-
perament. I never shall believe there was ever a


' mute Milton.' Perhaps great creative musical power
is as despotic in its order to the man to utter himself.
What I envy either is the creative act. They must
enjoy the making of a poem or a sonata with an in-
tensity past our conception."

" And now I am out of my depth," said Clayborne.

" I think," said I, " that the pleasure of some revolu-
tionizing discovery must be the equal of any joy which
either poetic or musical creativeness affords. To know
of a sudden some far-reaching law, some fact hidden
in solar space, or time-buried; to come on its con-
ception abruptly, as between two breaths well, I
would as gladly experience that as to have written

"Not I," said St. Clair.

Nor I," said Vincent ; " but, like Clayborne, I have
not imagination enough to enable me to conceive of
either as possible. I am quite sure that as yet the
psychical share of imagination in great material dis-
covery has not been fully appreciated. In Goethe's
scientific work it shows remarkably. The other side
is seen in his poetry, and in Dante."

"How? "cried St. Clair.

"You, at least, ought to know. Talk about glory
and rewards for these men of many crystalline facets,
each with its light and colors. They must needs be
glory and joy enough to themselves."

" It is an awfully human fact," I observed, " that
they all craved recognition."

" And when," returned Clayborne, " we see how little
most men can do, the absence of limitations in some
men of genius appears incredible. I suppose none of


them equaled Da Vinci in the wonderful variety of
gifts painter, sculptor, poet, architect, hydraulic en-
gineer, anatomist, physiologist. What a life! One
marvels most at the memory of a man like that. It
must have been perfect."

We all laughed; the speaker was a wonder of
memorial strength. He went on, "Oh, I remember
well enough; but my last word makes me ask if
there ever was a man with an absolutely perfect

" That is rather droll," said I, " because I was con-
sulted yesterday by a queer fellow who says that his
memory is too good. In a day or two he is to bring
me a written statement of his case. If you like I will
read it to you the first time chance brings us to-

" I should like to hear it," returned Vincent. " Noth-
ing seems to me more improbable."

As they went away, he lingered. " I wish," he said,
" you would do for me as you some time ago said you
would, and let me see the inside of a doctor's life. I
mean as much of it as one can see. We have talked
it over so often."

" That is in part possible," I returned. " Meet me
to-morrow. It is Sunday. I am due at St. Ann's
Hospital at eleven."

" Agreed," he said, and left me.


ICENT was waiting for me next day
in the manager's room of the hos-
pital. I said to him, " If you are to
excite no remark, look as wise as
nature allows, and let me call you

He nodded, and followed me. At the head of the
stairs a young resident physician met us. He carried
my case-book, a stethoscope, and a percussion-ham-
mer. The walls, like the floors, were of exquisite
cleanliness, and unornamented save by portraits of
physicians who had gone their rounds for years in
these wards, and at last followed their many patients
out of the world.

The young doctor, a favorite of mine, opened a door,
pausing a moment to say, " Joe is worse, sir."
" And Johnson ? "
"Oh, better; much better."

I said to Vincent : " My young friend and I differed
a little as to a case. It looks now as though he were
right." The young man glanced up flushed and glad,
and we went into the ward.

Here were some twenty beds, all full. Beside each
was a little table, and, now, neatly tucked back, clean
fly-nets, it being near to summer. The floor was of


spotless boards; the walls were of a pleasant gray
tone, and there was ample light, and, of course,
abundant air, so that the atmosphere was without
odor. Four neat, white-capped, white-aproned young
women, their arms covered with protecting white
over-sleeves, moved to and fro noiselessly. An older
woman came up to us, smiling. I presented her to
my doctor.

" I like my head nurse to make the round with me,''
said I. " Come, and ask what questions you please,
doctor. I hope not to tire you; my Sunday visits
here are long ones. Here is a case not clear to me ;
perhaps you can help us." Vincent preserved a per-
fect gravity.

"How are you, John?" I said. A great stalwart
lumberman lay stretched out in bed his full six feet

" Look at his face," I said in an undertone.

" I am no better, sir, and I won't never be."

" A case of pneumonia, doctor, and not a bad one.
He is on the way to health : no pain ; no cough ; pulse
good; won't eat; thinks he will die. What would
you do for him, Doctor Vincent ? "

He replied without hesitation, and to my surprise,
" Pitch a tent ; put him out in the sun ; give him a
penknife and a shingle." The man looked up, a quick
response in his face.

" Couldn't we manage it ? " I said to my young aid.
" I will speak to the steward."

"I hate," said I aside to Vincent, "to see a man
bent on dying. They sometimes go unaccountably to
death. I once saw in Paris a man from whom Roux


had removed a small tumor of no moment. The man
said that he would die, and the old surgeon remarked
to us that he did not like that. The patient was dead
in two days, and no man could tell then, or on exami-
nation, what killed him."

"Did you ever," said Vincent, "see a man die be-
cause he willed to ! "

" No," I replied ; " nor escape death by mere decis-
ion not to die. The resolution to do whatever is need-
ful to get well, the belief in its possibility, help men ;
that is all. I once heard a man with cholera a sturdy
mechanic declare that he did not mean to die, and
would not. He tried to make himself think he must
get well. The thing was most painful."

" And he died ? " said the nurse.

"Yes; he died."

In the next bed a young carpenter lay ill. He had
the clearly cut American features, neat mustache, and
Vandyke beard so much worn by his class.

" How are you, Joe ? " I said.

" Oh, better ; a lot better."

I went over his case with care. " Listen here," I
said to Vincent. My friend bent down awkwardly,
listened a moment, and then followed me away.

" What was that I heard like a rattle ? "

"Yes, a death-rattle a sentence of death in clear
language," I answered.

" It is strange to have a man's lungs talk to one. It
is a language. Shall you tell him ? "

" Not unless he asks me. I have told his relatives."

"And will he ask?"

" Probably. A hundred years hence or sooner we


will cure such cases. I hate these inevitables in medi-
cine cancer, consumption. Come, here is something

" Good morning," I said to a pale, sallow creature in
the next bed but one. He shook his head. I took a
slate off his bed, and wrote, " How are you ? "

" Oh, better," he said. " I understood twice yester-
day. Then it went."

"Back better too? Have you books enough?" I

Vincent lifted one from his table ; it was a harrow-
ing tale of piracy poor trash.

" I will send him ' The Three Musketeers/ if you will
let me," said my friend.

I went on : " He is word-deaf. He hears but can-
not interpret. The connecting nerve-threads between
word-memory (I mean ideas gotten by hearing) and
his receptive organs are broken, but he has word-vis-
ion ; words which he reads are still usefully dealt with
by the mind. He fell a hundred feet from a scaffold
and broke his back. He is going to recover. It is
curious that he has no memory of the events which
preceded his fall for two hours. It seems as if time
V were needed to fix the records of memory. I have
seen this often. Some physical shock interferes with
the permanence of the delicate impression made on the
brain-cells. It is like interrupting the fixation of a
photo picture. It is so in battle. The hurry of emo-
tions, the swiftness of the march of events, the mad
fury of fight, have a like effect, and hence with the
coolest the memory of the details of a battle are apt to
be imperfect. But let one of these men be wounded


so as to make him a passive spectator, and thencefor-
ward he remembers all that goes on."

"I wonder," said Vincent, "if death, too, is like the
shock of a fall, and crushes out all remembrance of the

My young resident doctor looked up at him with a
quick glance of curiosity, and said, "Do you recall, Dr-
North, that girl we had here last year who forgot only
people, and ceased to know even her lover?"

"Yes; and everything else remained as before."

"Too much memory, or too little," said Vincent.
"Who could choose?"

"I would take too much," said the resident.

"Wait till you are forty," said Vincent.

"Come, doctor," I said, "it is not the curiosities we
came to see ; you will find them in every ward. They
have their own value to us ; but now we can't talk of
them." So saying, I turned to a bed near by. On the
table were several books a volume of Shakspere, and
a novel or two from the hospital library, the Bible (as
on all the tables), and some magazines. The sick man
was about thirty-five years old, clean-shaven, large of
feature, but very pale, and huge of limb and hand. As
we came near a smile of singular sweetness welcomed
me. "My friend Dr. Vincent," said I.

The sick man put out his thin hand and greeted us
in turn, saying, " I 'm what they call an interesting
case, sir." I sat down beside him.

"Mason, doctor, is a workman in iron. He made
the beautiful hammered-iron fire-screen in my study."

"I was a good workman," he said, "but I shall
never strike iron again, sir will I, doctor? Oh, I


have asked that so often, and I ought not to. I beg
pardon." There was fitness, almost grace of manner,
in the apologetic checking of himself.

"Mason was hurt in the back, doctor, by the fall of
a bar of iron. He knows how much I want to help
him, and I am not without hope ; but it may be long."

"Oh, I could wait, but I am that savage and irrita-

"His wife was here yesterday," said my aid in an

"Books enough, Mason?" I said.

"Yes; and to spare, sir, and flowers too. Mrs.
L takes care of that."

"Sit down," I said to Vincent, "and talk to him
while I see a case or two. He has made friends with
books since he has been in bed."

"That ; s true, sir. It seems to me so queer now that
I never heard of Scott before ; and Hamlet, I know a
man just like him. Ever read Hamlet, sir?"

Vincent sat down as I moved away, and while I ex-
amined two new cases I noticed that he was deep in
interested talk with Mason. By and by I saw him
shake hands with the sick man and heard him say,
"Yes ; I will come again," and then he joined me as I
sat down by the bed of a lad of twenty.

"Is this a new case!" he said.


"Then let me hear how you go to work."

"I will try to tell you ; it is not very easy without
too much talk. Give me the bed-card," I said to my
resident doctor. " Here. This lad came in yesterday ;
on his card you see his name, date of admission, a


place for the diagnosis, and, below, lines left for diet
and change of treatment ; also here is a chart of the
heat-curves. In this ward-book the resident has written
out every detail as to his habits, inheritance, illness.
Take this card and run your eye over it. It will save
time. It is a guide to the note-takers so that a certain
order may prevail in our histories of cases."

"I see, I see. No organ is left unexamined. But
how can you get the time? And you must have a
whole arsenal of tools, if I may judge by the recent
survey made of my own throat and eyes."

I laughed, and my resident doctor regarded this
other physician with suppressed amusement, being
himself a youngster who, by habit, eased the frictions
of lif e with the precious ointment of mirth.

"Yes," I said; "I can, of course, make personally
the whole study of a case. As a rule, here, where
there is so much to be done that has to be done
thoroughly and rapidly, one man goes over the eyes
and other sense-organs, and one over the secretions,
which may exact hours of work."

"And," added Vincent, "there are electric testings,
I see. And reflexes ! What on earth are they?"

This doctor who asked what a "reflex" meant was
fast becoming too much for my resident, whose eyes
were flashing with mirth, and narrowing to imminence
of laughter. I touched his arm, as a warning, and
went on : " Reflexes ? Oh, reflex acts. I strike on a
spot, say, below the knee, and a certain muscle in-
stantly and in health always replies by a movement.
There are many such. I might call them muscle-in-
stinct acts."


"I see," returned Vincent. "It becomes clearer to
me if I think of some of our instinctive acts as intel-
lectual reflexes. There ought to be a new word in-

And now my resident cast a look of solemn wonder
at this reasoning ignoramus.

"Let us put that to Clayborne," I said. "I want to
show you how complete, how painstaking is our work ;
how efficient it is. If that sick boy were lord of a
guinea a minute no more could be known of his case,
no more could be done for it. Let us talk about this
again when we meet. A hospital is a fertile text.
We are at our best here. Illness in a private dwelling
loads one at times with needless perplexities."

"One word more, North. I had an idea that you
often made well made what people call a diagnosis
by intuition j at least one reads of such things."

"Rather by tuition so complete that the intellectual
act for the moment escapes analysis. Your idea be-
longs to the medicine of fiction. "We do something
like that, of course. A man walks in, and we guess at
a look by his walk that he has disease of certain
columns of the spine. It appears like magic to a lay-
man, but after that comes the real and careful work.
What is the cause, the man's history, his general state
of health these are the valuable things at which
one cannot merely guess and rest tranquil. It is true
that often we reason from dubious premises to con-
clusions as doubtful, and that requires a mind of very
peculiar type. It is quite remote from the mathematic

"Yes j I do not well understand how a great mathe-


matician could ever be a physician of force. Galileo
gave up medicine, I believe."

"The present case seems clear to me," I said, and, as
we moved away, "I wish it were not. He has an
aneurism of the arch of the aorta, the great artery.
It compresses nerves that give motor activity to the
muscles of speech."

"Then death is certain?"

"No; not quite. There is a chance, a small one;
and he is young. That will help, except that it will
make him impatient, and he must have six months of
absolute rest in bed, and heroic doses of certain saline

"I see. And, pray tell me, do the young or the old
bear sickness, long sickness, best?"

"Oh, that is a matter of temperament, of moral
construction. Children well, I think; women too

"Too well?"

"Yes ; to get a man into bed and a woman out of
bed is almost equally difficult. But come; I am
through. What about Mason, Vincent?"

"Oh, that poor fellow. You know people talk to
me about themselves. It is a doubtful privilege."

"Yes ; and he is as reserved and self-contained as a
well-bred lady," I said.

"He told me of the wife, who is weak and giddy-
minded ; of his six children, like to starve or to go to
the poorhouse. I shall see them to-morrow. Who is
this Mrs. L he talks about?"

"Oh, an angel, a heart of gold. I wish we had a
hundred like her."


"It is awful, isn't it, to see these many cases which
only money can help ? A mere question of money."

"Not altogether, but largely j yes, very largely.
Look down this ward. I could point you. out a dozen
whose cases could be helped by money. This man
needs a few weeks in the country to complete his cure,
that man a month of salt air. Here is one so troubled
because he will lose his place that cure becomes diffi-
cult. Here we are like to fail with another because
he does not know how to feed his children while he is
ill. The beneficiary associations help. Women like

Mrs. L , or as like as God allows, come between

these people and their wants wants which in illness
you and I do not know. These wrecks of sturdy men
talk to such women as they rarely talk to us. Women
are the natural confessors of men ; but, after all, there
is always the lack of money. If I could do it, I would
give every hospital a contingent fund some thousands
a year for just such wants. And the people you see
here are mostly mechanics rarely mere laborers
proud as only the American is, loathing charity, and
having to be taken with tact. And now good-by ; I
must have talked you tired, and said but half."

"No ; you have brought me close to many things of
which I had no clear conception. But it does seem to
me that yours, my dear Owen, must be of all modes
of usefulness the saddest."

"No ; we were not sad in war, or we were rarely so,
with comrades f ailing around us every month, and this
seems to me much like it. One gets used to it. Who
is permanently saddened by the ever-repeated inevita-
ble ? None but the morbid, I fancy. What I person-


ally hate is defeat, by death, by incurable ailments. I
have the feeling, which all physicians ought to have,
that every one should get well; that all disease is
curable somehow. It is, I suspect, the intellectual
defeat I so dislike ; but there is a host of compensa-

"Thank you. You have really opened to me a
vista of the physician's life which is worth a good


WEEK later I met Vincent one
evening in the street. "Come," lie
said; "I am going to see Clayborne.
I fancy we shall find St. Clair also.
Have you seen our iron-worker to-

"Yes; and he is really better; your talk did him
good. What a tonic is hope. I fancy you helped
him more than you know. He tells me you are about
to secure a patent for him. Is it worth while ?"

"Yes; I have submitted his model to S . He

tells me it is a very novel invention, and will bring
him a good deal of money. It has been a pleasant
task for me. The American of his class is so interest-
ing, so self-respecting, and so just; I may add, so
well-mannered. But here we are."

Clayborne was a bachelor, older than the rest of us,
and a man of large fortune. We were shown up-stairs
to the top of the house, the whole area of which (and
it was large) was occupied by his library. From floor
to ceiling, all around, were books. They overflowed
on to the floor, the chairs, the many tables. Although
he was as to his writings a historian, his tastes in liter-
ature were nearly limitless, and it seemed to me that
he read everything save modern verse. The last novel,


the last magazine, the newest work of travel, even
science, seemed to interest him. For modern poetry
alone he had no strong liking. A slow thinker, he was
also defective as to his power to enjoy wit or humor,
and was apt laboriously to analyze a jest. I should
prefer to say that he enjoyed mere rollicking fun, ex-
amined wit with a kind of scornful indifference, and
was simply inaccessible to humor. Although a kindly
man, he lived too much alone with his own very keen
intelligence. He was apt to reason himself out of all
beliefs in the need of attending to the duties of social
and public affairs with an ease favored by his liking
for books and a lonely contemplative existence. He
had had fancies for several women, but, as Vincent
once remarked, he was apt to set his cool brain to
hatch the eggs of a warm heart, and then was sur-
prised to find his eggs addled.

When we entered the great, airy room, with its busts
of philosophers and its legions of books, St. Clair was
seated at an open window, and the stalwart owner was
walking to and fro with his hands behind his back.
He was discoursing volubly to the sculptor on Greek
and medieval art. Now and then he paused to turn
up a gas-jet; for he enjoyed a superabundance of
light, and even on a hot night in July, despite our en-
treaties, delighted to illuminate his study as if for a
winter ball.

Both men greeted us with the conventional "How
are you?" Vincent had a mental habit which in
some men would have looked like affectation. He
was apt to pick up for examination any usual word or
phrase, and say about it something most unusual. It


made him as a talker very suggestive to quick-witted
people ; but to others this habit was apt to bring em-
barrassment, silent dismay, or one of those acquiescent
phrases which kill conversation.

He said now, "Why does every one say, 'How are
you? How do you do!'"

"Why not?" said St. Clair.

"Why not?" cried Vincent, dropping into a chair.
"Am I always to be reminded that I am mortal? that
I may be ill any day ? It is a bit of universal bad

"Of good, I should say," returned Clayborne.

"I do not agree with you," cried Vincent. " It is my
friend's business to say how well I look ; certainly it
is an impertinence in a mere acquaintance to enter
into the question of my health. I wonder how it be-
gan ? I should like to know if an Indian or a Hotten-
tot asks how his savage neighbor is."

"The mass of humanity must like it, or the custom
would die," said our host, reflectively.

"Bad manners never die," returned Vincent, smiling.

"And what is the best test of good manners?" I

"Capacity to listen agreeably/ said Clayborne. We
all laughed, for the speaker was at times given to dis-

"I don't see why you laugh," he continued. This
provoked a new outbreak.

"The hardest test of manners is the capacity to
submit to an obligation with graciousness," I ventured.

"I should say," said St. Clair, "the power to oblige
with grace."


"I can do neither," cried Clayborne. "I hate being
obliged, and I hate to oblige, because there is no end
to it. The man who obliges gets in debt. There is
nothing obliges like obligation."

"Oh!" ejaculated Vincent.

"Yes; both embarrass me to oblige and to be

Said Vincent: "It is the complexities of life which
annoy us. The man who gives with joyous simplicity
gives, as we all should give, for his own sake. The
simply imaginative, kindly man expects to do his own
thankfulness. 'The Lord assisteth the simple.' It is
self -analysis which breeds annoyance. I was walking
in the Tyrol years ago, and found a charming wayside
fountain over which the giver had set the words I
can translate them roughly

'Ye who drink,
Pause and think.'

An old Englishman who came up as I contemplated the
inscription said to me, 'That man had bad manners.'"

"The point is too fine for my use," growled Clay-

Said St. Clair : "There is an equally odd inscription
on the marble floor of a lovely spring in an English
wood I know. It puzzled me."

"And now the talk has gone astray," said Clayborne,

"And so it should," I replied.

" But St. Clair always gets adrift."

"He 's a poet," laughed Vincent. "I should define a
poet as a man with buttons to his mental garments


and no buttonholes. He is always fumbling at the

"Now, wait a little," cried the poet, mildly wrathful
"Who's adrift now?"

' ' Oh, your fountain," said I. " What was the inscrip-
tion ? Never mind these fellows."

"It is not worth quoting," said St. Clair.

Clayborne had, without intention, a special power
to annoy him. Looking up, however, St. Clair caught
Vincent's appearance of utmost interest. It seemed
to say, "You are just now the only person in the world
worth hearing." It was an inherited trait of manners
a family jewel.

St. Clair went on: "I make too much of a trifle.
On the marble-floored spring, in letters of red stone,
were the words, 'Tell us your secrets.' At each side
the spring rolled forth a bountiful volume of water,

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