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22 00

i-i —

. I The Editor hopes the event will prove, that he
was not wrong in supposing the public would

'" view with favour the reappearance of these

t; Passages " in their present form. He was led

- r to indulge such hopes, by seeing the flattering

_,■ terms in which this Diary was mentioned, from

* time to time, by many respectable journals in
London and elsewhere, during its successive


appearance in Blackwood's Magazine; by
f^the circumstance of its translation into the
V"?rench language at Paris ; and by its republi-
cation separately in America, where the sale
has been so extensive, that the work is now

Several additional sketches were intended to
have been inserted ; but this was found imprac-
ticable, without extending the work to a third


volume. Much new matter, however, will be
found introduced in the notes, and the whole
has been very carefully revised — although some
errors have crept in after all, owing chiefly to
the work's being printed in Edinburgh, while
the Editor resided in London.

In conclusion, the Editor hopes these sketches
may not ^infrequently have succeeded in reaching
the reader's heart, and pointing public attention
to those pregnant scenes of interest and instruc-
tion which fall under the constant observation
of the medical profession.

London, February 3, 1832.








IV. a scholar's death-bed ... 59
V. preparing for the house, ... 86

VI. DUELLING, ...... 96








XI. THE FORGER, ...... 214


(.11 Ai>. Pag







NOTE, 366



It is somewhat strange, that a class of men who
can command such interesting, extensive, and
instructive materials, as the experience of most
members of the medical profession teems with,
should have hitherto made so few contributions
to the stock of polite and popular literature. The
Bar, the Church, the Army, the Navy, and the
Stage, have all of them spread the volumes of
their secret history before the prying gaze of the
public ; while that of the Medical Profession
has remained hitherto, with scarcely an exception,
a sealed book. And yet there are no members of
society whose pursuits lead them to listen more
frequently to what has been exquisitely termed,

The still, sad music of humanity.

What instances of noble, though unostentatious,
heroism — of calm and patient fortitude, under the


most intolerable anguish that can wring and torture
these poor bodies of ours ; what appalling combi-
nations of moral and physical wretchedness, laying
prostrate the proudest energies of humanity ;
what diversified manifestations of character ; what
singular and touching passages of domestic history,
must have come under the notice of the intelligent
practitioner of physic! — And are none of these
calculated to furnish both instruction and enter-
tainment to the public ? Why are we to be for ever
shut out from these avenues to the most secret and
profound knowledge of human nature ? Till the
attempt was made, in the publication of this Diary,
who has sunk a shaft into so rich a mine of incident
and sentiment?

Considerations such as these have led to the
publication of this work, reprinted from the pages
of Blackwood's Magazine — a periodical which
was the first to present similar papers to the public.
Whether the writer or subject of them is dead or
alive can be a matter of very little consequence,
it is apprehended, to the reader; and no informa-
tion, therefore, on that point, is requisite. It can
scarcely be necessary to say, that the various names
which have been pitched upon, in the papers, as
those of the writer of this Diary, are all of them


totally erroneous, and that it has, in particular,
no claim whatever to the honourable names of
" Dr Gooch, Dr Armstrong, or Dr Baillie." It
is respectfully suggested, that if the ensuing
pages have no intrinsic claims to attention, the
deficiency cannot be supplied by the most glittering
appendages of name or title.*

In selecting from a copious store of sketches, in
every instance drawn from nature — warm and
vivid with the colouring of reality, all possible care

* I have not often known of a piece of easier assurance
than that of the French translator of these papers, who,
not content with rendering them into French, has so para-
phrased and misrepresented many of them, and especially
the first, that I scarce knew them myself. He calls " Early
Struggles" Le Jeune Docteur ; and I am made to say at the
commencement, —

" Un Docteur cPEdimbourg (!) mort recemment, et dont
je dois taire le nom, bien que cette precaution necessaire
puisse engager mes lecteurs a le confondre avec ces per-
sonnages fictifs dont les romanciers sont les, createurs, — ce
Docteur, dont l'education avait ete faite a Edimbourg, ville
tout studieuse, et dont le talent s'etait developpe a Londres,
a consigne, dans une serie de memoranda, qui se trouvent
entre mes mains, les observations morales, les incidens, les
caracteres, les tableaux domestiques, dont sa longue pratique
lui a fourni les materiaux. Tout est reel dans ces souvenirs :
ils ont les inconveniens et les merites que cette realite
entraine," &c. — Souvenir d'un Medicin, I.

The French reader is farther informed, that this paper
appeared in The Literary Gazette.


has been taken to avoid undue disclosures, as far
as that end could be obtained by the most scrupulous
concealment of names, dates, and places. I cannot
close these introductory remarks better, than in
the words of the American Editor's Preface to the
stereotyped edition: —

" These scenes, so well calculated to furnish
both instruction and amusement, have been hitherto
kept from public observation, as carefully as the
Eleusinian mysteries were kept from the eyes of the
vulgar. Access is occasionally given to the death-
bed of some distinguished character, — Addison is
seen instructing a profligate how a Christian can
meet death ; and Dr Young, in his Deathbed of
Altamont, has painted, in strong and lasting colours,
the closing scene of one whose career too nearly
resembled the profligate Warwick's. But those in
the humbler walks of life have been overlooked, as
if men could be taught only by great examples."






* * * Can any thing be conceived more
dreary and disheartening, than the prospect before
a young London physician, who, without friends or
fortune, yet with high aspirations after professional
eminence, is striving to weave around him what is
technically called " a connection ? " Such was my
case. After having exhausted the slender finances
allotted me from the funds of a poor but somewhat
ambitious family, in passing through the usual
routine of a college and medical education, 1 found
myself, about my twenty-sixth year, in London —
possessed of about £100 in cash, a few books, a
tolerable wardrobe, an inexhaustible fund of animal
spirits, and a wife, — a lovely young creature whom
I had been absurd enough, some few weeks before,
to marry, merely because we loved each other.



She was the only daughter of a very worthy
fellow townsman of mine, a widower ; whose
fortunes, alas ! had decayed long before their
possessor. Emily was the glory of his age, and,
need I add, the pride of my youth ; and after
having assiduously attended her father through
his last illness, the sole and rich return was his
daughter's heart.

I must own, that, when we found ourselves fairly
housed in the mighty metropolis, with so poor an
exchequer, and the means of replenishing it so
remote and contingent, we were somewhat startled
at the boldness of the step we had taken. " Nothing
venture, nothing have," however, was my maxim;
and I felt supported by that unaccountable convic-
tion which clings to all in such circumstances as
mine, up to the very pinching moment, but no
longer, that there must be thousands of ways of
getting a livelihood, to which one can turn at a
moment's warning. And then the swelling thought
of being the architect of one's own fortune ! As,
however, daily drafts began to diminish my £ 100,
my spirits faltered a little. I discovered that I
might indeed as well

Lie pack'd in mine own grave,

as continue in London without money, or the means
of getting it ; and after revolving endless schemes,
the only conceivable mode of doing so seemed
calling in the generous assistance of the Jews. My
father had fortunately effected a policy on my life


for £5000, at an early period, on which some
fourteen premiums had been paid; and this avail-
able security, added to the powerful influence of a
young nobleman to whom I had rendered some
service at college, enabled me to succeed in

wringing a loan, from old Amos L , of £3000,

at the trifling interest of fifteen per cent, payable
by way of redeemable annuity. It was with fear
and trembling that I called myself master of this
large sum, and with the utmost diffidence that I
could bring myself to exercise what the lawyers
would call acts of ownership on it. As, however,
there was no time to lose, I took a respectable

house in C Street, West* — furnished it

neatly and respectably — fortunately enough let
the first floor to a rich old East India bachelor

— beheld " Dr " glisten conspicuously on

mydoorf — and then dropped my little line into
the great water of London, resolved to abide the
issue with patience.

Blessed with buoyant and sanguine spirits, I did
not lay it much to heart, that my only occupation
during the first six months, was — abroad, to prac-
tise the pardonable solecism of hurrying haud pas-
sibus ccquis through the streets, as if in attendance
on numerous patients ; and at home, to ponder

* " On sait que la partie Est de Londres est reservee aux
gens de commerce; et que l'Ouest de la meme ville est
habite par l'aristocratie." — Note of the French Translator.

f " Ces plaques de cuivre, portant le nom du proprietuire ou
du principal lucataire, se trouvent sur toutes les portes." — lb.


pleasantly over my books, and enjoy the company
of my cheerful and affectionate wife. But when I
had numbered twelve months, almost without feel-
ing a pulse or receiving a fee, and was reminded
by old L , that the second half-yearly instal-
ment of £225 was due, I began to look forward
with some apprehension to the overcast future.
Of the £3000, for the use of which I was paying
so cruel and exorbitant a premium, little more than
half remained — and this, notwithstanding we had
practised the most rigid economy in our household
expenditure, and devoted as little to dress as was
compatible with maintaining a respectable exterior.
To my sorrow, I found myself unavoidably con-
tracting debts, which, with the interest due to old

L , I found it would be impossible to discharge.

If matters went on as they seemed to threaten,
what was to become of me in a year or two ?
Putting every thing else out of the question, where

was I to find funds to meet old L 's annual

demand of £450? Relying on my prospects of
professional success, I had bound myself to return
the £3000 within five years of the time of borrow-
ing it ; and now I thought I must have been mad
to do so. If my profession failed me, I had nothing
else to look to. I had no family resources — for
my father had died since I came to London, very
much embarrassed in his circumstances ; and my
mother, who was aged and infirm, had gone to
reside with some relatives, who were few and poor.
My wife, as I have stated, was in like plight. I do


not think she had a relative in England, (for her
father and all his family were Germans,) except

him, whose brightest joy

Was, that he called her — wife.

Lord , the nobleman before mentioned, who

I am sure would have rejoiced in assisting me,
either by pecuniary advances or professional intro-
ductions, had been on the Continent ever since I
commenced practice. Being of studious habits,
and a very bashful and reserved disposition while
at Cambridge, I could number but few college
friends, none of whom I knew where to find in
London. Neither my wife nor I knew more than
five people, besides our India lodger ; for, to tell
the truth, we were, like many a fond and foolish
couple before us, all the world to one another,
and cared little for scraping together promiscuous
acquaintance. If we had even been inclined to
visiting, our straitened circumstances would have
forbid our incurring the expenses attached to it.
What then was to be done ? My wife would say,
«* Pho, love, we shall contrive to get on as well as
our neighbours ;" but the simple fact was, we were
not getting on like our neighbours, nor did I see
any prospect of our ever doing so. I began, there-
fore, to pass sleepless nights and days of despon-
dency, casting about in every direction for any
employment consistent with my profession, and
redoubling my fruitless efforts to obtain practice.

It is almost laughable to say, that our only


receipts were a few paltry guineas, sent at long
intervals from old Mr Asperne, the proprietor of
the European Magazine, as remuneration for a sort
of monthly medical summary, and a trifle or two
from Mr Nicholls of the Gentleman's Magazine, as
an acknowledgment for several sweet sonnets sent
by my wife.

Knowing the success which often attended
professional authorship, as tending to acquire for
the writer a reputation for skill on the subject of
which he treated, and introduce him to the notice
of the higher members of his own profession, I
determined to turn my attention that way. For
several months I was up early and late, at a work
on Diseases of the Lungs. I bestowed incredible
pains on it ; and my toil was sweetened by my
wife, who would sit by me in the long summer
evenings like an angel, consoling and encouraging
me with predictions of success. She lightened
my labour by undertaking the transcription of the
manuscript ; and I thought that two or three hun-
dred sheets of fair and regular handwriting were
heavily purchased by the impaired eyesight of the
beloved amanuensis. When at length it was com-
pleted, having been read and revised twenty times,
so that there was not a comma wanting, I hurried,
full of fluttering hopes and fears, to a well-known
medical bookseller, expecting he would at once
purchase the copyright. Fifty pounds I had fixed
in my own mind as the minimum of what I would
accept ; and I had already appropriated part of it


towards buying a handsome silk dress for my wife.
Alas ! even in this branch of my profession, my
hopes were doomed to meet with disappointment.
The bookseller received me with great civility;
listened to every word I had to say, seemed to take
some interest in the new views of the disease
treated of, which I explained to him, and repeated
— and ventured to assure him that they would
certainly attract public attention. My heart leaped
for joy as I saw his business-like eye settled upon
me with an expression of attentive interest. After
having almost talked myself hoarse, and flushed
myself all over with excitement, he removed his
spectacles, and politely assured me of his approba-
tion of the work; but that he had determined
never to publish any more medical works on his
own account. I have the most vivid recollection
of my almost turning sick with chagrin. With a
faltering voice I asked him if that was his unalter-
able determination? He replied, it was; for he
had " lost too much by speculations of that sort."
I tied up the manuscript, and withdrew. As soon
as I left his shop, I let fall a scorching tear of
mingled sorrow and mortification. I could almost
have wept aloud. At that moment, whom should
I meet but my dear wife ; for we had both been
talking all night long, and all breakfast time, about
the probable result of my interview with the book-
seller ; and her anxious affection would not permit
her to wait my return. She had been pacing to and
fro on the other side of the street, and flew to me


on my leaving the shop. I could not speak to her ; I
felt almost choked. At last her continued expres-
sions of tenderness and sympathy soothed me into
a more equable frame of mind, and we returned to
dinner. In the afternoon, I offered it to another
bookseller, who, John Trot like, told me at once
he never did that sort of thing. I offered it subse-
quently to every medical bookseller I could find —
with like success. One fat fellow actually whiffled
out, " If he might make so bold," he would advise
me to leave off book-making, and stick to my
practice ; another assured me he had got two similar
works then in the press ; and the last I consulted,
told me I was too young, he thought, to have seen
enough of practice for writing " a book of that
nature," as his words were. " Publish it on your
own account, love," said my wife. That, however,
was out of the question, whatever might be the
merits of the work — for I had no friends; and a
kind-hearted bookseller, to whom I mentioned the
project, assured me that if I went to press, my
work would fall from it still-born. When I returned
home from making this last attempt, I flung myself
into a chair by the fireside, opposite my wife, with-
out speaking. There was an anxious smile of sweet
solicitude in her face. My agitated and mortified
air convinced her that I was finally disappointed,
and that six months' hard labour were thrown away.
In a fit of uncontrollable pique and passion, I flung
the manuscript on the fire, but Emily suddenly
snatched it from the flames, gazed on me with a


look such as none but a fond and devoted wife
could give — threw her arms round my neck, and
kissed me back to calmness, if not happiness. I
laid the manuscript in question on a shelf in my
study ; and it w T as my first and last attempt at
medical book-making.

From what cause, or combination of causes, I
know not, but I seemed marked out for failure in
my profession. Though my name shone on my
door, and the respectable neighbourhood could not
but have noticed the regularity and decorum of
my habits and manners, yet none ever thought of
calling me in ! Kad I been able to exhibit a line
of carriages at my door, or open my house for the
reception of company, or dash about town in an
elegant equipage, or be seen at the opera and
theatres, — had I been able to do this, the case
might have been different. In candour I must
acknowledge, that another probable cause of my
ill success was a somewhat insignificant person,
and unprepossessing countenance. I could not wear
such an eternal smirk of conceited complacency,
or keep my head perpetually bowing, mandarin like,
as many of my professional brothers. Still there
were thousands to whom these deficiencies proved
no serious obstacles. The great misfortune in my
case was, undoubtedly, the want of introductions.
There was a man of considerable rank and great
wealth, who was a sort of fiftieth cousin of mine,
resided in one of the fashionable squares not far
from me, and on whom I had called to claim


kindred, and solicit bis patronage ; but after having
sent up my name and address, I was suffered to wait
so long in an ante-room, that, what with the noise
of servants bustling past with insolent familiarity,
I quite forgot the relationship, and left the house,
wondering what had brought me there. I never
felt inclined to go near it again ; so there was an
end of all prospects of introduction from that
quarter. I was left, therefore, to rel} r exclusively
on my own efforts, and trust to chance for patients.
It is true, that in the time I have mentioned, I was
twice called in at an instant's warning ; but in both
cases, the objects of my visits had expired before
my arrival, probably before a messenger could be
despatched for me ; and the manner in which my
fees were proffered, convinced me that I should be
cursed for a mercenary wretch if I accepted them.
I was, therefore, induced in each case to decline
the guinea, though it would have purchased me a
week's happiness ! I was, also, on several occasions,
called on to visit the inferior members of families
in the neighbourhood — servants, housekeepers,
porters, &c. ; and of all the trying, the mortifying
occurrences in the life of a young physician, such
occasions as these are the most irritating. You
go to the house — a large one probably — and are
instructed not to knock at the front door, but to
go down by the area to your patient !

r[ think it was about this time that I was sum-
moned in haste to young Sir Charles F , who

resided near Mayfair. Delighted at the prospect


of securing so distinguished a patient, I hurried to
his house, resolved to do my utmost to give satis-
faction. When I entered the room, I found the
sprig of fashion enveloped in a crimson silk dressing-
gown, sitting conceitedly on the sofa, and sipping
a cup of coffee, from which he desisted a moment
to examine me through his eyeglass, and then
direct me to inspect the swelled foot of a favourite
pointer ! Darting a look of anger at the insulting
coxcomb, I instantly withdrew without uttering a
word. Five years afterwards, did that young man
make use of the most strenuous efforts to oust me
from the confidence of a family of distinction, to
which he was distantly related.*

A more mortifying incident occurred shortly
afterwards. I had the misfortune to be called on
a sudden emergency into consultation with the late

celebrated Dr . It was the first consultational

visit that I had ever paid ; and I was, of course, very

* This anecdote calls to my mind one told me by the late
Dr James Hamilton. He was sent for once in great baste

by Lady P , to see — absolutely a little favourite monkey,

which was almost suffocated with its morning feed. When
the doctor entered the room, be saw only her ladyship, her
young son, (a lad of ten years old, who was most absurdly
dressed,) and his patient. Looking at each of the two

latter, he said coolly to Lady P , " My Lady, which is

the monkey?" — [lam made to say, in French, "' Madame,'
dit-il, ' Messieurs vos fils n'ont qu'a faire diete et a boire
du the.' II s'en alia aussitot." And farther, the name of
Abernethj is coolly substituted for that of Dr Hamilton !]


anxious to acquit myself creditably. Shall I ever
forget the air of insolent condescension with which
he received me ; or the remark he made in the
presence of several individuals, professional as well

as unprofessional — " I assure you, Dr , there

is really some difference between apoplexy and
epilepsy, at least there was when I was a young
man ! " He accompanied these words with a look
of supercilious commiseration, directed to the lady,
whose husband was our patient ; and I need not
add, that my future services were dispensed with !
My heart ached to think, that such a fellow as
this should have it in his power, to take, as it were,
the bread out of the mouth of an unpretending, and
almost spirit-broken, professional brother; but I

Online LibrarySamuel WarrenPassages from the diary of a late physician (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)