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Title: St. Bernard's: The Romance of a Medical Student

Author: Edward Berdoe

Release date: July 27, 2014 [eBook #46431]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Edwards, Fred Salzer and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at from
images generously made available by The Internet Archive



The cover image was created by the transcriber and is dedicated without reservation to the public domain.


Ars Longa Vita Brevis.
Parolles: Right; as ’twere a man assured of an——
Lafeu: Uncertain life, and sure death!
All’s Well that Ends Well.

S Cowan & Co., General Printers, Perth.

The First of October 1
The School of Anatomy 5
In Students’ Lodgings 15
His ’Prentice Hand 20
The Beadle and the Theatre 26
Jack Murphy’s Party 34
Nurse Podger 48
Amongst the Out-patients 55
Walking the Hospital 60
The New Morality 68
Tea and Anarchy 73
Send for Father O’Grady 88
The Soothing Idea of God 94
The Sacred Whole of Man 97
Science and Fashion 104
Sowing Wild Oats 108
The Lost Leader 113
An Epicure of Pain 116
An Apt Pupil 123
The Professor at his Work 128
Taken In 132
How Elsworth Came to Himself 138
In Exile 147
The School of Humanity 152
What’s Become of Waring? 157
Sister Agnes Revolts 164
Another Patient, Sister! 167
Dr. Stanford with His Pupils 172
An Ideal Physician 176
Sister Agnes Leaves St. Bernard’s 185
The Gospel at Work 188
The Rise of Nightingale Hospital 198
Mrs. Podger becomes a Sybil 201
Mr. Crowe Parleys with the Evil One 206
The Hobby of Dr. Sones 214
Mr. Crowe at Granada 220
Mildred Lee 230
Unearthed 239
Mildred Finds Her Work 253
Shod with Wool! 260
The Triumph of Mr. Mole 264
The Bacillus of Love 272
Dr. Sones Succeeds 277
An Infant River 284
L’Envoi 286



“Homines ad deos nullâ re proprius accedunt quàm salutem hominibus dando.”

Having selected medicine as a profession, the usual day for a man to enter on a course of study at one of our great medical schools is the first of October. The almanack tells us this is the feast of St. Remigius, the day on which Cambridge term begins and pheasant shooting commences. Neither of these interesting facts, however, explains the opening of the medical schools on the day in question; nor is it explained by the circumstance that this period is the anniversary of the institution of the order of merit for Folly, created at Cleves in the year of our Lord 1381; nor by what good old Thomas Fuller tells us of the holding of Lawless Courts, or Curia de Domino Rege Dicta sine Lege on Kingshill at Rochford in Essex; though some non-medical antiquaries, holding the learned profession of medicine in low esteem, have pretended that a day sacred to folly and lawlessness is peculiarly appropriate for the commencement of the curriculum of a medical student. We will not, like the ancient philosopher of whom Montaigne speaks, seek for learned and obscure explanations when our serving maid can offer us a simple one, but will state at once that the medical schools open at this season of the year because the weather being now cool, corpses set apart for dissection keep 2 well! Thus did scholastic speculation vanish before the timely discovery of the legend, Bill Stumps, his X mark. This day of high festival at all the hospitals to which medical schools are attached is celebrated in various ways. An inaugural address, given by one of the staff, has long been the custom at the most famous of these; and on such occasions the freshman is usually staggered by the picture of the awful responsibilities he has undertaken, and made aware that he has devoted his life and energies to the loftiest, noblest, and worst paid calling he could have possibly selected. He is assured that he will be a benefactor to humanity of the highest type, but must expect neither gratitude, wealth, nor elevation to the peerage; that although

“The learn’d physician, skilled our wounds to heal,
Is more than armies to the public weal,”

he will, if he join the Army Medical Service, be looked down upon as only a superior kind of camp follower; that, as Dr. Abernethy used to say, if he does not claim his fees “while the tears are about,” he stands a good chance of losing them—so prone is an ungrateful country and a forgetful client to ignore the doctor when the danger is over. Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, however, he is assured he will find in the commendation of his own conscience an ever-sufficient reward for his devotion to suffering humanity. All successful professional men talk more or less of this pessimistic cant, like the Chancery judge who addressed a batch of newly admitted barristers-at-law in these terms: “Gentlemen, I cannot congratulate you on the profession which you have chosen. It is one in which very few succeed, and most of those who succeed wish they had failed.” The fact is, with professions and business, as with wives, men get just as much success as they deserve. These sentiments produce on the newly entered pupils their profoundest effect, but they are totally lost on the older ones, who declare them all humbug, and only intended to gull the public who will read them in the daily papers. 3 Many of the seats are always filled by medical men who were educated in the hospital and school attached, who like to hear these time-honoured sentiments, reminding them of the happy period when they entered their Alma Mater with an enthusiasm long since damped by contact with the harsh world without. After the address, the prizes won by the successful students are usually distributed, and the teaching staff dine together, and the students go off to make a night of it, and show their new companions a little life about town.

On this particular first of October with which the present history is concerned, Harrowby Elsworth affiliated himself to the old and honoured medical school attached to St. Bernard’s Hospital, London—an hospital of high reputation, with a great and renowned school of medicine. He had distinguished himself at Oxford, and had selected his profession with the determination to do well in it, as he had done with all he had hitherto put his hand to.

He was a tall, slim fellow, standing six feet one in his stockings, so dark in the complexion that he might have passed for a native of Southern Europe. Although rather an Apollo amongst men, his graceful bearing and manly carriage were not the characteristics that gave him a passport at first hand to every one he met. It was the full, deep, earnest, clear, and honest eye, by which you could look into his soul. At a glance you took this in; there was no mistaking that, in the handsome young fellow who confronted you, there dwelt a spirit as brave, strong, and well braced as the frame that held it.

He had long since lost his mother—so long ago that he could but just recall her image as that of a tall, fair, delicate, blue-eyed woman, who had left her heart on his lips on the day she died.

His father was a retired Indian officer, who had seen much service, and had greatly distinguished himself in the Indian Mutiny. He had been severely wounded, and returned to England. Having recruited his health after several years’ stay 4 in Cheltenham, he went back to the scenes of his former victories to occupy himself with investigations concerning the ancient literature of the Hindoos. He soon became so completely engrossed in this work, in which he hoped to cover himself with no less glory than in his campaigns, that he determined not to trouble himself with his native country or its affairs till he was able to announce to the learned societies of Europe the full fruition of his labours. He was a good man, and had been a kind and generous father, but became so enwrapped in his musty literature as to be practically dead to his duties to his only son, who, with all his kinsmen and friends of his fatherland, had become of very much less importance to him than the Sanskrit poem he had just discovered hidden in an image of a cross-legged Buddha serenely contemplating his epigastrium. So it having been finally settled that Harrowby was to be made a doctor, Major Elsworth arranged with his agents in England to pay the necessary fees, and settled on his son a sum of £300 a year for life, so that he might be free to pursue his own calling untroubled by the smaller anxieties of life till his profession should afford him a more ample subsistence. All these matters having been finally concluded, at the expense of much distraction from the Mahâbhârata research, the old gentleman felt disburdened of a long-standing load which had often impeded the even tenor of his work, and once more settled down to the classic heroes of Indian song and the legends of his mythic age. He felt that Harrowby was off his hands, and gave him very plainly to understand that, pending the completion of his great work on the Origin of the Mahâbhârata Poems, he must have no disturbing communications requiring any reply from him. Acting upon these hints, Harrowby very rarely troubled his father with any letters, and still more rarely had any replies to them. He made up his mind that when he had done all the work at the hospital he wanted to do, he would go out to his father, and spend a year or two with him before finally settling down to practice.



Foremost in the regal class
Nature has broadly severed from her mass
Of men....—Browning.

Elsworth entered the profession of medicine with a large stock of a commodity just now rather out of fashion with our young men. This limp and degenerate age seems unable to supply our youth with backbone enough to make them enthusiasts about anything beyond dress, the Opera Comique, and the quality of their tobacco. They adopt a profession without at all intending it shall absorb them; they consider it a sign of weakness to show a consuming interest in great subjects, and their energies are frittered away on the most trivial concerns. How many men enter the Church, not as though Heaven-sent messengers, but as affording them a pleasant way of getting on in life! As for a message to mankind or a call from God, it would be too much in the way of the Methodists and Salvation Army people to be consistent with their notions of propriety. What they have to offer the world may be taken or left without interfering in the least with their peace of mind. Hence so many empty churches, while our courts and alleys are full of folk perishing for lack of knowledge which nobody is sufficiently interested to impart, except in a perfunctory manner. It may be all very well for good Mr. Spurgeon to be consumed with desire to save souls; that sort of thing may be consistent with life in the “region of the three D’s” (Dirt, Dissent, and 6 Dulness), over the water. But fancy anybody in Pall Mall or the Row being “so dreadfully in earnest, don’t you know!”

Such being too commonly the case with the Church, what can be expected of medicine? Inaugural addresses and the classic poets notwithstanding, it is rather too much, they say, to expect fellows in the nineteenth century to live up to an ideal guild of St. Luke. Now, by a beautiful instance of the law of compensation ever active in Nature, just as men are voting enthusiasm bad form, women are taking up the work men are too limp and too selfish to perform, and the spectacle is presented to the eye of hundreds of noble, clever, earnest, indefatigable women coming forward to fill the places which men decline, and leaving work more congenial to their habits and tastes, because men lack the energy and sympathy required to effect the necessary reforms. The salt of the earth is now fast becoming a feminine compound.

But the man of our story was a true man, not a nineteenth century sham; he had his enthusiasms and was not ashamed of them, was a sentimentalist if you will, and was proud of the title. He had an idea that no good had ever been wrought in this world except by enthusiasts and sentimentalists. He felt that sentiment was thought sublimed, and enthusiasm the holy fire that exalted it; his prayer was to be classed with the band of workers who had helped their world; and when he decided to enter the portals of a great hospital, it was not to make his account with fame, to exploit the poor and suffering for his own advancement, but just simply to have the satisfaction day by day of having, by even ever so little, diminished the awful sum of human misery. It was a perfectly contemptible ideal, an absurdly insufficient goal to nineteen-twentieths of the men who that day had enrolled their names in the books of the hospitals of the kingdom; but it was just simply his ideal and his goal, and he thought no other profession would help him to attain these like medicine. “The parson,” he used to say, “sees men at their best, the lawyer at their 7 worst, but the doctor as they are. I will be a doctor.” Now of all things which Elsworth was not, least was he a prig; so that he had no idea of the very unusual nature of the impetus that was driving him on a medical career. He thought, in his ingenuous way, that such impulses moved his fellow-aspirants. This sentiment was to be modified.

In what a world he found himself! He had several friends on the staff, and some half-dozen of his fellow-students were more or less known to him; but to what others was he introduced! In a couple of hundred young men one looks for variety, one expects that some will be heedless, vain, indolent, or vicious, while others are earnest, industrious, and true. But who were these men he saw to-day, and how came they to adopt the sacred ministry of healing, the work of the great Physician Himself?

Rough, rowdy, vulgar, and decidedly unintellectual as many of them appeared, with all the characteristics of the fast man about town, the profession they had chosen to follow seemed likely to suffer at their hands, if these men were fair samples. It has long been the habit of society to view with great leniency the peculiarly Bohemian manners and customs of medical students. The very term has become the symbol for rollicking rowdyism that would be tolerated in no other class. Their boisterous mirth, rude violence, and disregard of the ordinary proprieties of civilized existence have become recognised as their appropriate conduct, partly no doubt because their lugubrious occupation at the schools needs relaxation of a pronounced kind, and especially perhaps that as they must when in actual practice become the gravest and most “respectable” of men, it must be permitted to them to compress into their student life the follies, the riotousness, and the highly flavoured pleasures that must suffice for the rest of their mundane existence.

Be this as it may, it is certain that from the patient in the hospital ward to the magistrate on the bench, conduct that would be considered in other men as intolerable and worthy of 8 the severest punishment is in their case lightly passed over. On the part of the public at large, and on behalf of the men themselves, this is a great error, and has its foundation in a wrong conception, both of the work the students have to do and the sort of relaxation it requires. On behalf of the suffering humanity soon to become dependant upon such men for their help in sickness, a revolution in such a false system of education is no less urgently demanded. Unpleasant as the work of the dissecting, post-mortem rooms, and hospital wards, may seem to the outside world, its daily recurrence makes it so familiar to all engaged in it that it very soon ceases to be any more unpleasant than many other occupations. The men who take real interest in their work very speedily forget or do not recognise any of its disagreeables, while those who do not acquire this real interest in their occupation become mere hangers-on at the schools, and grow rowdy for want of better employment. The real students, with their hearts in business, do not seek or take such methods of unbending the bow; for the rest it should not be permitted them to insult their noble calling by behaviour that would disgrace savages in unexplored tracts of equatorial Africa.

The sooner a more common-sense theory of medical student life is adopted by the public, the better for the world and the men themselves.

Young Elsworth, then, was not altogether pleased with what he saw of his future companions, and it took him but a short time after his entry at the schools to see that not more than half of the men by whom he was surrounded would be for him even tolerable class mates.

The opening festival was over, and early in the following week he began the work of dissecting. He had previously bespoke of the College beadle what is known as “a part,” for be it known to the outside world that a well conditioned corpse having no friends to claim it after death in the hospital or workhouse which saw its owner’s last moments, is by the 9 Anatomy Act permitted, under certain legal restrictions, to be used for dissection. To preserve it for the length of time it will require for some six or eight men daily working at it to unravel all its mysteries of muscle, nerve, artery, and vital organs, its blood vessels are injected by an ingenious process by the dissecting room porters with a preservative fluid which, permeating every part of the body, keeps it fairly fresh and arrests decay till the scalpel of the young anatomist has revealed all it has to teach.

Let us enter into the dissecting room of St. Bernard’s, and see how our future doctors learn to deal with the ailments our flesh is heir to. It is a spacious chamber, some fifty feet long by thirty feet wide; its floor is slate, cold, and non-absorbent; its walls half-way up of the same impervious material; it has no windows, but is lighted by a glass roof and many gas jets for dark days. On either side are eight strong tables, on each of which lies a corpse. Round each table are several heavy, well-made stools; they need be heavy. They are often subject to rough usage at the hands of their occupants when not engaged in more scientific work.

On this first of October, all the “subjects,” as they are technically called, are untouched by the knife; in a few days they will scarcely be recognisable as having ever been our brothers and sisters of the mortal life. The busy scalpel of the anatomy student will be engaged on every limb and feature in “getting out,” as it is termed, his “part.” Then the observant eye of a man of science would see how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. The Psalmist could have had but a faint idea how much his beautiful phrase conveyed. Here are displayed for us the exquisite sets of muscles and tendons that enable us to move our hands and arms. This part shows the nerve and blood supply of the leg, and that one the machinery by which we smile, laugh, or express our wonder and surprise. Here is a man at work seeking to unfold the marvellous convolutions of the brain, while at another table one has 10 got down to the articulations of the foot, and is showing the pulleys and joints that enable us to walk. The art of anatomical dissection consists in freeing the muscles, tendons, arteries, veins, and nerves from the surrounding fat and connective tissue which in the living body preserves and covers them.

It is absolutely necessary that the student should not only know from books, but actually see with his own eyes, and for a long period attentively observe the origin and course of every nerve, artery, and vein which in the whole body is capable of being dissected out. He must know the exact position of all the muscles, how they move the bones, how they extend or flex the limbs, what nerves supply them with motive power, and how that nerve takes its course from the brain or spinal cord. The number of complications is so great that nothing but patient tracing out with forceps and scalpel for himself will ever teach a man anatomy.

As an accurate knowledge of this science is the foundation of all medical learning, it is not to be wondered at that the medical schools and examining bodies insist on a very long and careful training in the practical part of this study. So indispensable is it that the schools have never scrupled to obtain subjects for dissection when popular prejudice stinted the supply, by foul means when fair did not avail. No questions were asked in the old days, before the passing of the Anatomy Act, how the “subject” was procured; enough that it was on the table for the uses of science. Whether murder had brought it there, or the visitation of the graveyard by the body-snatcher, nobody concerned in teaching or learning anatomy cared a jot.

In one famous school there was a private trap through which the corpse was pushed into the porter’s room, he passing the money out to the persons who delivered the body, and holding no communication with the body-snatcher, or even seeing his face. Things, however, are different now, and the workhouses are permitted to send the bodies of friendless and unclaimed 11 paupers, whom nobody owns or cares to bury, for the purposes of dissection.

Dissection and the making of a post-mortem examination, though often confounded in the public mind, differ materially. Dissection consists in minutely tracing out all the important structures of the limbs, body, and vital organs, and thus it takes several weeks’ hard work to get through a whole subject; while a post-mortem examination is the labour of an hour or two, and consists in examining and noting the pathological conditions of the internal organs, with a view merely to discovering the cause of death. An adult subject is worth about £5 when properly prepared for research. Each arm and leg, the half of the head, the chest, and the rest of the trunk, was charged to the student requiring it at St. Bernard’s, 12s. 6d., and he was expected to make good use of his opportunity. Every portion removed by his scalpel was carefully gathered up by a porter, and every night and morning placed in a coffin in the vaults below. When a coffin is filled with this minutely divided humanity, it is sent to a cemetery and buried as “our brethren and sisters departed.” The provisions of the Anatomy Act forbid the taking of any portion of the subjects out of the schools; nevertheless more than one ardent student whom we see in the room will finish his work on the hand or the foot at his own lodgings, to the horror and disgust of his landlady if she catches him at it.

Some men never make good dissectors; they can cram up what they want for their examinations without the infinite pains required for a beautiful “preparation” such as is being made at this table on our right for the college museum. It is an arm, and every muscle stands out clean and clear, every artery is seen with its vermilion wax injection running its sharply defined course, and anastomosing with its neighbouring vessels. Here are the nerves like silver threads, becoming, like the blood supply, smaller as they reach the fingers, till they are lost in their terminations at the tips. It requires a man with 12 a special genius, and the gift of an infinite capacity for taking pains, to do work like this, and many take a pride in doing it.

Round this table on the left is a group of junior students, listening to the demonstrator, who is lecturing on the muscles of the chest, or thorax as it is called, and asking each of his auditors in turn some question to test his knowledge, and explain his difficulties if he have any.

The coloured diagrams round the walls, and the illustrations in the text-books used, serve to complete our acquaintance with the matter in hand, and its daily repetition fixes it in the memory. The men do their work in great linen blouses or aprons with sleeves. Most of them smoke, and the dissecting-room certainly is one place from which the most violent anti-tobacco agitator would hardly wish to banish it, if he knew how it mitigates its awful odours. When the morning is over, and the men have taken their lunch (they eat sandwiches at their work without the least fastidiousness), few of them return for any more work in that place unless they chance to be very industrious. There are some few men who, in their first and second year, dissect on every available opportunity; for anatomy cannot be crammed, and can only be mastered by this persistent business of the scalpel. Occasionally a visitor will drop in to look round at the work going on; some general practitioner who has been at the school in his early days, to refresh his memory on some point, or to rekindle for a few moments the lost enthusiasm in such studies. Often they tell good stories of the difficulties they had in the olden time of procuring bodies. One old fellow who had been a demonstrator in that room, told one day how, on one occasion some fifty years before, he had been urging the beadle to provide more subjects.

“Can’t get you a fresh ’un before this day week, sir,” replied the man. “You see, sir, it is my mother-in-law. She only died last night. She will be buried on Thursday. We’ll have her up the same night, and she’ll be ready next morning for you.”

13 And then he related how the body-snatchers went to Bow Cemetery, then almost out in the country, and “resurrected” the poor woman, stripped her of her shroud (to take which was felony), put her in a light cart, and drove off with her. On either side of the Bow road at that time were fields; it was very dark and lonely. When half-way towards their destination they feared they were closely pursued, and to avoid a capture they cast the body out into the ditch, and made off with all haste. Next morning there was a report of a horrible murder. An inquest followed, and an open verdict was returned, name and cause of death unknown.

Close by the hospital there dwelt an aged man with his daughter in genteel poverty, a learned and serious person, who seemed to have known better days. His conversation was charming, and his society was much sought after, but seldom accorded. He kept himself apart from his neighbours, and held no more intercourse with them than was necessary for the amenities of life. But he was on good terms with the St. Bernard’s staff, often strolled through the dissecting-room and the museum, and was generally present in the operating theatre when anything of special interest was “on the table.”

There was considerable mystery about this man, Dr. Robert Day by name; but the hospital people knew his antecedents, and thought much the more of him on account of them. Indeed, most medical folk considered him a hero and a martyr of science, though nobody took the least trouble to help him in any more substantial way. Many years ago Dr. Robert Day had been professor of anatomy at a great school of medicine. He was an author of celebrity, and his works were text books in the hands of all the students. He had been implicated in the Burke and Hare scandal, had been proved to have availed himself of the services of these murderers to procure him subjects for dissection at his school of anatomy. The murderers having been detected in their horrible business, and having met their fate, the attention of the populace was forcibly directed to Dr. 14 Robert Day and his dealings with the criminals. Had he been caught when the attack was made on his residence, he would have speedily been lynched. As it was, his house was wrecked, his furniture destroyed, his costly library set on fire, and he had to fly the town to escape personal violence. He was long in hiding, a ruined man, subsisting as a medical coach under an assumed name, till after some years, when the storm had passed over, and the new Anatomy Act had set the popular mind at rest, he was able to declare himself amongst his professional brethren, but they were always shy of him, and, though in private they let him see they thought none the worse of him for his complicity in “subject” getting, it was impossible to put him forward, or do him any very material service. They could not be hard on him. They had all profited by his research; all had learned their anatomy more or less from his books. It was little to them how he came by his knowledge. His more fortunate brethren in the kindred sciences now do not scruple to use methods to obtain their objects which, if fully laid bare to the inspection of the lay and ignorant public, would perhaps be considered only slightly less objectionable. But then the lay public is so unreasonable. They demand to be cured instantly of all the ailments that afflict them, and object to give up their mothers, their children, or their friends, and indeed even their cats and dogs, on whose living bodies the necessary experiments can be duly tried. This is naturally irritating to the scientific mind; it feels it is expected to make bricks without straw; and the straw, in the shape of clinical and physiological material, must be had somehow, so they protest.



Heroes mischievously gay,
Lords of the street, and terrors of the way,
Flush’d as they are with folly, youth, and wine.
Throw physic to the dogs! A pipe—cheroot—
Pilot—and life-preserver—voila tout!
A little lecture now and then to boot,
A school or hospital to bustle thro’,
A few hard terms—on easy terms—to keep,
Then brown stout, billiards, half-slew’d and sleep!
Cruikshank’s Almanack.

Lindsay Street, where Elsworth took lodgings, was an old thoroughfare at the back of the hospital grounds, and was largely occupied by lodging-houses, in which those students boarded who desired to be handy for their work, and have their fellow-students near neighbours. It was a dull and a grimy old place, but it had many conveniences, and was quite historic as a residence for young medicos,—indeed, it was always held to be a kind of precinct of the hospital. The landladies were for the most part elderly widows with no encumbrances; those who had husbands kept them out of the way, and the students, if they paid up promptly, did pretty much as they liked in their diggings. It has often been a subject of wonder what becomes of the husbands of lodging-house-keeping ladies in the daytime, so seldom do they show their faces to the lodgers. Perhaps the most plausible suggestion is that they spend their time hearing the trials in 16 the law courts, or the police cases. It must be some such persons who are able to devote so much leisure to these matters.

Mrs. Harper occupied Number 15 in this street of students’ lodgings, and was one of the oldest and best-known inhabitants. She was a widow, her late husband having been for twenty years night porter at St. Bernard’s; and she was sister to the famous Podger. A sharp woman of business, with a keen eye to the pence, she did well at her business, and made an excellent income out of the rooms. Her life had been spent amongst medical men, and not even Podger herself was happier at her work than Mrs. Harper “doing for her gents,” as she always called it. Her rooms were decidedly frowzy, and her furniture, which had been picked up at auctions, and was very mixed, was rather dilapidated. What wonder, considering the treatment it received from those who used it! The front parlour, with bedroom at the back, was just now occupied by Jack Mahoney, a merry little fellow, full of good nature, witty, smart at learning, and mad for sprees. “He was always up to his tricks,” his landlady said, but she didn’t mind ’em, not she, not even when he brought home that steak for his tea, and bade her cook it, and then laughed till his sides must have split, as he told her what it was, and where it came from. “And my new frying-pan spoiled as cost me two-and-ninepence in the Row last week; and as for the plates, and the knives and forks, I sha’n’t use ’em agen, you may keep ’em, and I shall put ’em all down in the bill. I wonder when you’ll ever leave off your tricks; a nice sort of doctor you’ll make! I call it sickening—I do.” But Harper, like her sister Podger at the hospital, could be settled. “Hang it all!” cried Mahoney, as he put his feet on the mantel-board, and roared again, “it’s worth a whole shopful of crockery to have sold Harper like that. O Jane, sister of the immortal Podger, and you to be had by a latissimus dorsi; you, who declared you knew your anatomy as well as we did. O Jane! O Jane! you’ll never pass your ‘final,’ not even in your winding sheet!”

17 “Go on with your impidence, Mr. Mahoney; it was the new girl as was had, not me; I am too old a bird to be caught a second time. Mr. Redway served me that trick once, and I never forgave him-well, at least, not for some time after.”

All this was great fun for Mahoney and his pal Murphy on the other side of the fireplace, and they laughed consumedly, for they knew the worthy dame had been sold that time. But a glass of whisky, which she would not drink before them, but declared she would take the last thing at night, as a precaution against spasms, soothed her down, and a promise of a brace of pheasants out of the next hamper of game from home, sent her to the kitchen in a good humour. She could not be angry with the boy long together. He paid well, and her sister Podger loved him as her own son. Her first floor was occupied by two students, Rice and Higgins. They were both of Mahoney’s set, lively boys all. Sons of wealthy parents, they had usually money enough to squander; but there were times when funds sank low, and they were reduced to amazing shifts to extract the needful amusement which every succeeding night demanded. The ups and downs of the life they led might serve to prepare them for the vicissitudes of the future, and to accustom them to the readiness of resource which is so characteristic of all medical men. To-night they would be feasting at a West-end restaurant, and drinking costly brands of champagne; to-morrow, as likely as not, would find them supping on a few pennyworth of fried fish, and drinking porter out of a pewter pot. It was all the same to them, even if it were not more congenial to be associated with rowdies in a Whitechapel bar-room, than to be dining with their equals in civilised society.

Mrs. Harper, as we said, was not at all particular in the matter of larks, though she was rather annoyed when she went into Mr. Murphy’s sitting-room one morning to lay the breakfast, and saw, over the fireplace in front of her new looking-glass, a great black board, painted in large white letters, “To be Let 18 or Sold, this desirable semi-detached Villa Residence. For cards to view, apply Buggins & Son, 113 Great Mowbray Street, E.C.”

She knew at once this was one of the trophies of last night’s spree. Knockers and bell-handles, brass plates of moderate size, stolen from milliners’ and dressmakers’ doors—to these there could be no objection; but sign-boards, barbers’ poles, doctors’ lamps (for even the profession was not sacred from the attacks of “the boys”), were “dead agen her rules,” as she was always insisting, because, being so big, they could hardly be got into the house without exciting observation, and perhaps might bring discredit on the hospital.

“Look here, Mr. Murphy, I have told you over and over again, I can’t have them things in my house. You will be caught like Mr. Hodder was when he stole the big gold coffee pot from over the grocer’s door, and a bobby as didn’t know him, and wouldn’t take no bribe, run him into Bow Street, and if he hadn’t been the son of a member of Parliament, and known to the beak, he’d ’a had to ’a gone to jail, he would; for the grocer was mortal angry, as he had had two coffee pots and a bell handle stole the winter before, and he always suspected the students. No! I draws the line at things like this. I have too much respect for you, and the character of my house, to harbour the likes of ’em, so don’t do it.” Not even “a toothful of summat short,” as Murphy phrased it, could appease the good woman. “No, bell-handles and sich is good enough sport,” she persisted, “for anybody. I have nothing to say agen them; you gents must have your larks, and bell-handles and knockers goes in your pockets, but I draws the line at these here; take it away. Stay, I’ll put it in the cellar. Why, the taxes, or the gas, or the water rate might see it, and give information. They’re none of ’em any too fond of you boys, and they are quite equal to it.” And so with much regret, Murphy gave up his “Desirable Villa Residence,” merely extorting a promise that it might appear 19 on the mantel for one night only—the “trophy supper” he was to give at the end of the winter session, when he was to exhibit his museum of stolen curiosities to his companions in the midnight revels.

Murphy was very proud of his museum. He had twenty-nine brass and iron knockers, fifty-seven bell-handles, fourteen brass door-plates, three small and very neat Royal Arms, gilt and coloured, one pretty figure of a Scotchman in Highland costume taking a pinch of snuff, several gilt carved wood letters, which once formed parts of names over shop doors, and this latest acquisition, the “Villa Residence” board. Everything was neatly labelled and numbered, and a register kept, recording in the most methodical manner the story of its capture. Many hair-breadth escapes were recalled by a glance at some of these treasures; and to hear little Jack Murphy tell some of the stories connected with them was a treat that many a freshman yearned for with all his heart. Most of the men would rather have had the honour of which this stolen hardware was the symbol than all the medals and certificates of honour the hospital could bestow. Their friends sent them to earn these latter—that was task-work; their own inclination and Bohemian instincts urged the acquisition of bell-handles and door-knockers—in this was danger, and their love of surmounting it was gratified. They had yet to learn the nobler outlets for sentiments that have made the name of Englishman a proud distinction, especially in the practice of a profession on which they have shed so much glory.



Knowledge after all, is not the greatest thing in life; it is not the “be-all and the end-all” here. Life is not science. The moral nature of man is more sacred in my eyes than his intellectual nature. Goodness, lovingness, and quiet self-sacrifice are worth all the talents in the world.—G. H. Lewes.

The comfort or the misery of many families may probably hang upon the notions that each of you will carry from this place.—Sir Thomas Watson.

But Lindsay Street was not wholly inhabited by the idlers. There were many men who led solitary lives at their lodgings, and worked night and day at books or bed side. Some took portions of their subjects home to dissect, and the back gardens at their lodgings were often used as places of sepulture for brains, hands, or as Tom Hood sings,—

“Those little feet that used to look so pretty.
There’s one I know in Bunhill Row, the other’s in the City.”

Maternity cases were attended by the junior students at the homes of the patients within a radius of two miles of the hospital. This served to bring them into direct contact with the poor, and familiarized them with scenes of the most horrible destitution in the filthiest and lowest slums of the metropolis. The young men were usually favourites with the people, who are always taken with the free and easy, the good-humoured and generous behaviour of medical students, anxious to improve their own knowledge of work which will be of the greatest 21 importance to them in their future career, and glad to render their—sometimes very far from skilled—services to uncomplaining poverty, with a view to getting their papers signed for the colleges, which demand a definite amount of this work to be performed while in connection with their medical school. It was hourly enforced upon them that such was their only chance of the free and unrestricted use of human “material” for acquiring this sort of information. Their blunders, their negligences, would not count against them whilst in a state of pupilage. A great city, a poverty-stricken population, a benevolent public, and the custom of their profession, had placed at their disposal an immense amount of raw material, unbounded facilities for picking up knowledge, and the deft use of mysterious and complicated instruments. This skill, this dexterous use of the tools of their art, would shortly enable them to earn a handsome living. Let, then, every moment be devoted to obtaining that knowledge at the cost of ignorant and uncomplaining patients who would only see in their attentions the desire of a charitable young gentleman to help them, just as the visiting lady and the clergyman helped them efficiently. Let, then, every day and every case enable them to use more skilfully, under such clinical conditions, those tools the awkward use of which would inevitably be detected in the higher walks of their art to which they are progressing. Such is the admirable way in which the highest skill and wisdom of medicine is combined with the attempts of the novices to attain it in the practice of the hospitals, that the shortcomings and feeble efforts of the learners are glorified and ennobled by the brilliant successes of the teachers, till the mistakes are lost sight of in the dazzling triumphs of their achievements. It is like the Catholic doctrine of works of supererogation. St. Francis Xavier was so much better than he had any occasion to be, that he had a fund of merit at his disposal for helping the deficiencies of those who fell short in their good works.

22 A great surgeon achieves a brilliant success in an operation which sends a man away from the wards to his own home restored in health and limbs to his family and his work. It is the hospital which gets the credit, and the credit is sufficient to atone for many of the maimings and other unfortunate terminations of a score of cases, which are looked upon as failures, not of much greater consequence than Beau Brummel’s cravats cast aside on his dressing-table. It will not do to be too hard on the failures. Even Professor Holloway did not publish them. The advertisements of quack and royal surgeon are alike in this respect at least, that they do not go into any such unnecessary details!

But oh, the spoiled cravats! condemned to drag out a wretched existence because they had the misfortune to be not only ignorant, and poor, and powerless, but waste material used by St. Bernard’s in the attempt to make of any person able to pay its fees a competent healer of diseases. Not enough was it that they were born into a hard and cruel world, heavily handicapped by feeble frames and badly developed brains, without education or any of the means of lifting themselves from the slough of their environments, but it was also required of them by our advanced civilization that they should yield up their poor bodies, which were enough like better people’s frames for the purpose, to become “teaching stuff” for classes at a medical school.

It was in Lindsay Street, and with Mrs. Jemima White, that Elsworth went to lodge. He had abundant strength of mind, and it was little to him that his fellow-boarders were a rather noisy set. He had full control of himself, and did not permit them to influence him unduly in the matter of sprees. He settled down steadily to his work, and did not find his friends interfere with him much when they saw his tastes were not quite their own; on the contrary, they rather respected him for his diligence, in which there was not the least element of the prig. As for his religion,—for Elsworth came to St. 23 Bernard’s deeply imbued with the religious spirit,—they smiled at him when he talked of it, which was but seldom, as who should say, “Poor innocent! you will outgrow all that quickly here, and find faith and the scalpel, dogma and the microscope, go ill together!”

Yet they knew very well that several of their best men were earnest, faithful Christian souls, who found high scholarship and the deepest devotion to their profession accord extremely well with the doctrines they professed. Still, the prevailing tone of the place, of students and of teachers alike, was not in accord with religious feeling. The school atmosphere was prejudicial to the cultivation of the Christian sentiment; and whatever godliness was taken in by the first-year’s man had usually left him long before he left St. Bernard’s; for there was a new goddess, whose culture was daily in the ascendant, and St. Bernard’s was one of her sacred places. Here she was wont to be honoured, and the supreme God in the newer worship was forgotten. Her glory so far outshone His that the men never named Him, except in their expletives, nor was He in any of their thoughts. It was not held so much an error to believe in the God of the Bible and the Creator and Sustainer of the world, as an amiable weakness, a mark of defective education, a lay feebleness of mind, excellent in subscribers to and governors of hospitals, good also for patients as helping to teach them submission, not bad at all for sisters and nurses for a similar reason; but for medical men, the true high priests of science, utterly inconsistent with their training and their mental attitude, which was the demand for—facts! ever facts! and still more facts! Christianity in a medical man meant an imperfect medical man; one who had been arrested in his development,—a sort of spina bifida case, or a microcephalic idiot; want of lime in the bones, defective iron and phosphorus; excellent condition for a subscriber, wofully defective in a user. For it was discovered that the completely developed, the men full of lime, iron, and phosphorus, the men of robust 24 intellect and of the full standard, did not, as a rule, subscribe anything to anything, least of all to hospitals. Hospital contributors all went to church, and read their Bibles, and then wrote cheques Q.E.D.; whereas they, the persons for whose benefit chiefly all these cheques were signed, did neither, because they were above such weaknesses, as became Fellows of Royal Colleges and Bachelors of Science.

It required, therefore, no small amount of courage for a St. Bernard’s man to profess Christianity there. He might don a philosophical religion of Humanity, profess an eclectic faith compounded of Buddhism and George Eliot, with a dash at Renan, because downright Bradlaugh and Besantism was vulgar and slightly fusty; but he must denounce priestcraft and other worldism, as became all true followers of medicine, and emancipated souls baptized into the spirit of the age.

Elsworth took lodgings in Lindsay Street, just opposite Mrs. Harper’s house. He soon became attached to little Murphy for his genial disposition and cheerful heart, and it was not long before he found some attraction in the lively company surrounding him. His own landlady was serious and prim, and rigorously excluded the fast set of men at the hospital. “What suited Mrs. Harper wouldn’t suit her,” she used to say; “and if medical students couldn’t behave themselves like other folk, she wouldn’t have anything to do with ’em.” So it was only quiet men who went to live at Mrs. White’s—men who kept good hours, and didn’t kick up rows in their rooms; “she wouldn’t have it at no price.” She went to the little Baptist chapel in Bethesda Court, hard by, and was a good, worthy woman, who made all about her the better for the faith she professed; and though her grammar was defective, and her notions crude, her religion made, as Rowland Hill remarked, “even her cat the better for it,” for her feline companion never drank her lodgers’ brandy, nor smoked their cigars, “nor took aught that wasn’t his’n.” She kept her rooms, as became a good Baptist, beautifully clean; and a man who wanted to read 25 hard, and be quiet at his work, found it a privilege to be cared for by Mrs. White. Here, when not at the schools, Elsworth was almost always to be found; and human bones were scattered grimly about the room. A valuable microscope, with a large cabinet of preparations and sections, and a well-stocked bookcase of works of anatomy and physiology, gave the sitting-room a learned aspect, which of itself seemed to repress the rising desire of any young visitor to invite the occupant to “a shindy.”



’Tis part of my proud fate
To lecture to as many thick-skulled youths
As please, each day, to throng the theatre.
Browning (“Paracelsus”).
O Youth and Joy, your airy tread
Too lightly springs by Sorrow’s bed;
Your keen eye-glances are too bright,
Too restless for a sick man’s sight.

Old Jeremiah Horne was the beadle of the medical school at St. Bernard’s. He had held the post now for nearly thirty years, and his father held it before him. He and his family lived on the premises, and the post was generally understood to be a lucrative one. His motto was, “Nothing for nothing, and very little for a halfpenny.” He was a portly man, very dignified in his manner towards the younger students, who were kept at arm’s-length by him for purposes they well understood. He was not hard on them for their mischief, their breach of rules, their neglect of work, or any of their shortcomings, only they had to understand, if they wanted his aid, they must tip him well and tip him often. And this they did, and so Jerry Horne “waxed fat and kicked;” and even the professors themselves somehow came to recognise that the beadle was a not less important factor in the school than one of themselves. He could restore order when they individually or collectively repeatedly 27 failed. A word from him would reduce the most refractory to his senses, when the threats and the preaching of the teachers fell on deaf ears. His business was to see that the theatres and class-rooms were duly arranged for lectures. He had to provide a proper supply of subjects for dissection, to prepare them and allot them in due order. But his most important duty, and the one which gave him the whip hand over all the men, was to register their attendance at lectures, and so make or mar their prospects of being duly “signed up” at the end of the session. By the rules of the examining bodies at “the Hall” or the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, a student must attend a certain proportion of all the lectures delivered in his school before his papers can be received and himself duly entered as a candidate for the necessary legal examinations which he must pass before he can get his diploma or certificate to practice. Mr. Horne’s conscience was elastic; and if a sufficient number of half-crowns and shillings were flying about, he could always see and register the presence of a man in the theatre at lecture who was probably at home in bed half a mile away. As everybody voted lectures a great bore, especially those which began at 8 or 9 o’clock on a winter’s morning, this was a great convenience. The lecturers poured forth their wisdom to a scant attendance at such times, and Mr. Horne’s half-crowns grew and multiplied.

At all the lectures it was the duty of the beadle and his assistant to occupy a convenient post, in view of the whole auditory, so that he could mark the individual attendance and detect those engaged in larking during the progress of the lecture. Under such circumstances it was a task to the ingenuity of the boys to let off crackers without detection, or shy potatoes and cabbages at the botany lecturer for purposes of classification. The pundits themselves usually took the interruptions in a good-humoured way, doubtless reflecting that medical science has, from immemorial time, been imparted—in the British Isles, at least—under similar difficult conditions; 28 so these being recognised as conditions, they had to yield to the inevitable with the best grace they might. But as they looked to the beadle to keep order by means they knew him to possess, it was incumbent on Mr. Horne, now and then, to “espy” somebody, usually one out of favour with him temporarily, either from being deep in his debt or from having wounded his dignity. When a scape-goat or two had been thus caught, they had to pass an unpleasant quarter of an hour in the private room of the warden, and give assurances of better behaviour under threats of expulsion or suspension of schedules. The patience of the lecturers was admirable; they bore most interruptions with exemplary meekness, but they always resented pea-shooting as disturbing to the exact thinking and speaking necessary in treating scientific subjects. The botany lecturer, indeed, was a pattern of amiability. Not even a potato plump against his snowy shirt front, or a cabbage flop on his manuscript, disturbed him much or drove him into strong language. “Ah, thanks! yes, my young friend, that tuber is the Solanum tuberosum; it is a good specimen, but a little out of order. We have not yet reached the Solanaceæ. Will the young gentleman who has thus rather roughly drawn my attention to his specimen kindly tell me the characteristics of that order, and name the principal medicinal plants belonging to it? You, sir, I think it was, who forwarded me the example; Mr.——, Mr.——, your name escapes me for the moment. I mean the gentleman with an ecchymosis under his left eye.” The gentleman with the ecchymosis knew as much about the order in question as his bull terrier knew of astronomy; and amid the uproarious laughter of his class-mates, ever ready for a diversion of interest, on being pressed by the lecturer to exhibit his knowledge of the potato tribe, was fain to confess that he knew little more about the species than he saw of them on the dinner-table. He began to wish he had not thrown that tuber, and the laugh was well turned against him as the lecturer scored several neat points in dealing with him. This was one of the 29 recognised and old-established methods of defence adopted by the persecuted teachers, and a good example of the survival of the fittest theory. The chair could really only be held by development of such defence, and the ingenuity of the students in organizing new systems of attack had to be met by improvement in their repulse. It was armour-plating versus guns, and the armour-plating generally saved the ship. Professor Letts would have been a lost man one morning at the chemistry lecture had he not caught the man who threw the lighted squib on the lecture table, where it fizzed and bobbed amongst his neatly fixed-up apparatus for an hour with the gases. “You, sir!” he cried, in his determined, assertive manner that always commanded and secured respect; “you, sir, you squib-thrower, come forward to the black-board! You are going up for your preliminary science; give me the chemical formula for that explosive. We are considering nitrogen this morning; you shall give the audience the benefit of your, doubtless, complete knowledge of your favourite gas. Nitrogen is your favourite gas, is it not, Mr. Albery?” Now poor Albery had to maintain a reputation for chemistry on a very slender basis, and withal was a nervous man; and being all the while unmercifully twitted by Mr. Letts, his symbols got mixed, and he returned to his seat feeling that the squib itself was not more completely “bust up” than he. One of the best retorts was made by the professor of anatomy, who, entering the theatre for lecture one afternoon, found that the skeleton, which always hung on a stand near the lecturer’s table, had been removed from its frame and placed on one of the benches in the auditorium, and was seated in a free and easy manner, with a long clay pipe in its ghastly jaws, and a pewter pot in its left hand. Dr. Hawkes took in the situation at a glance, and said, “Gentlemen, I miss our old friend the skeleton from its accustomed place, and perceive it in a new character seated amongst you. We shall, this afternoon, go on with our remarks on the vertebral column, and I have no doubt my 30 address will be as useful to its empty cranium as it will be to those by which it is surrounded.”

It was many a long day before that trick was played again.

The worst attacks were always made on poor young Dr. Harburne, who held the chair of Materia Medica. He was not equal to dealing with them, and took the matter to heart so much that he soon retired. He was a most able physician, and the more studious of the men did their utmost to repress the disturbances, which were so frequent as to make it impossible for anybody to learn anything or to gain the least benefit from the very valuable course of lectures on this important subject. He often left the theatre, finding it impossible with his meek and gentle manner, and his lack of any power of retort or ability to make reprisals, to continue his address. “Come back, papa,” they would cry; “we are good now!” He knew the ringleaders, but he was too amiable and patient to expose them. “Ah, gentlemen,” he said one day in the lull of a storm of interruption, “the day will come when you will be standing helpless by the bedside of some loved one whom you would give your own lives perhaps to save, and will be powerless by reason of opportunities you are wasting now! I do not envy your reflections then. I pardon you now; your punishment will come later!” Poor fellow! he died in harness, a victim to his long years of hard work in toxicology. In a fit of depression he swallowed prussic acid, just after leaving the profession an exhaustive treatise on its uses!

Such were the lectures at St. Bernard’s, and so passed the time which should have been spent in acquiring information for which the prescribed four years’ course was all too short to gather. No wonder that so many men hold hospital lectures to be almost useless, and attend them no more frequently than they are obliged, when they are generally only occasions of childish amusement. It was not the idle and dissipated who neglected these opportunities—too often these mustered in force for the sake of the fun. It was the best men, who felt 31 that their own rooms and their books could better assist their progress.

Jerry Horne was an accomplished photographer, and used to do many strange and interesting things with his camera. He would get a collection of skeletons from the museum, and arrange them in novel and curious attitudes. One scene was a ball-room, all the dancers being skeletons; another was an inquest, with coroner, witnesses, and jurymen, all skeletons; another an operating theatre, with a skeleton surgeon and assistants, a skeleton patient and spectators. But the favourite subject with the students was the skeleton lecturer, with a skeleton audience larking and otherwise neglecting the business for which they had assembled. The boys bought all these drolleries, and horrified and even appalled their mammas and sisters when they went home, by exhibiting them in a gay and easy manner, thus manifesting their indifference to and contempt of death and the ultimate destiny of man.

Elsworth often thought of the lines Louis XIV. was fond of quoting from Racine:—

“Mon Dieu, quelle guerre cruelle!
Je trouve deux hommes en moi.”

One of these two men within him was doomed to perish, which should it be? The wild follies of his companions had a strange fascination for him, and daily he seemed getting spiritually harder and more engrossed with unworthy pursuits. He was full of fun, and there seemed such drollery to be got out of upsetting policemen, leaping closed toll-gates without paying, and such-like pranks, that the lofty purposes with which he entered seemed like the blossoms in spring, which yield to the first frosty night after their appearance. Of course he could have held on his way had he been firmer, but the majority of the better-hearted men were so given to these sprees that he seemed to be merely finding his natural level in joining with them.

32 Dr. Day often invited Elsworth to spend an evening with him at his lodgings. The great anatomist was not a man of one book, but of world-wide reading and information. Nothing was too small for him to notice, no subject too deep for him to study: he lived to know. There was a charm about the old man, and the calm philosophic way he bore his reverses commanded the respect of all who knew his story. There was one subject on which he was impervious to argument: he would never admit that it concerned him in the least how the subjects for dissection had come into his hands. “If people like to use dynamite and the knife to advance their political projects, what has that to do with the leaders of the party who profit by their actions? Is it not an infamous calumny to accuse them of being the associates of murderers? My work was to teach anatomy. I did not kill people, I did not employ those who did. If the greed of money prompted men to do improper things, how could I be held responsible for them simply because I paid liberally and asked no questions?”

He cared nothing for the healing art; his speciality was the dead subject. The only true use in living, he seemed to think, was to provide the anatomist with good subjects for his table. The man had not lived in vain who had served Robert Day with his frame. He was an atheist, a dogmatic atheist, interested not merely in denying the God of the Bible, but in proving the impossibility of the existence of any Supreme Being at all. Hence the melancholy of the man. His daughter shared his views, for she worshipped her father, and he had taken care she should learn nothing of religion from her infancy. They took pains to imbue Elsworth with their opinions; not that they vulgarly scoffed at his faith, but as propagandists of “the religion of Man” they declared it their duty to wage war against that of God. The learning of the old man and his daughter tempted our student to many a discussion with them; he thought if his faith would not stand a little argument 33 it was not worth much. An orange tree grows and bears fruit in the open air in the South, but soon sickens and dies in an English garden. It was rash of Elsworth to subject his faith to such a test. He was doing what has proved fatal to many a youthful mind.



Wine and youth are fire upon fire.—Fielding.
Idleness, the cushion upon which the devil chiefly reposes.—Burton.
Firmly screwed upon the door
Doth the lion-knocker frown.
To-night its reign of noise is o’er;
Courage, boys, we’ll have it down!
Long its strength defied
Every dodge we tried;
But its nuts no more shall bear it,
From the hinge to-night we’ll tear it.
Cruikshank’s Almanack.

Jack Murphy gave his party. The winter session was nearly over, and in a few days the students would be all dispersed to the bosoms of their families. For several days past their spirits had been rising, and their fun even at lecture and in the wards was scarcely restrained within moderate bounds. Work was kept up with difficulty, and many of the men were leaving daily. Eight of the choicest spirits of the school turned up on the appointed night. There was not one of them who had not borne the brunt of battle, and won his spurs on a contested field. There was big, heavy Tom Lennard. He was the hero of the smash-up at the Chelsea Alcazar, a not very reputable, but much patronized, place of entertainment, with an open-air dancing platform. There was a fête one summer night there, and an attack on the place was organized by the 35 young medicos of the hospital. The police knew nothing of the proposed attempt, and their numbers were too few to interfere much with their destructive sport. After satisfying their vengeance for some affront they had previously suffered at the hands of the proprietors, they marched through the town in the small hours of the morning, shouting, bellowing, and singing at the top of their alcoholized voices, and upsetting everybody and everything that came in their way. At the houses on either side of their path they threw stones, half bricks, and other missiles, to the terror and alarm of the peaceful inhabitants, and the danger of any sick person who might be in them. A large brickbat, hurled by the powerful hand of Tom Lennard, fell plump on the bed of an old gentleman who lay dying, and his friends were naturally very angry with the perpetrators of such dastardly violence. The destroying army of young gentlemen roughs passed on, leaving behind them very distinct traces of the wreck they had wrought. There were loud outcries against the police, and the whole business made a great stir in the press. Somehow, Tom Lennard’s conduct was discovered by the authorities of his hospital; he was then at St. Luke’s, but was expelled with the loss of all his fees. It was felt that he had somewhat exceeded the natural hilarity of an embryo surgeon, and he was advised to migrate. He migrated to St. Bernard’s, where he had reason to hope the tone of the governing body was less severe. This exploit, and the fact that he was at least a confessor, if not a martyr, in the cause of student life, made him immensely popular with his fellows, and he was always in request when anything was “on.” Tom was a splendid specimen of the muscular student, if student it were correct to term him. He was never known to study anything, con amore, but practical jokes, billiards, football, and midnight revelry. He did fairly well at the examinations by coaches and hard cramming. He was magnificent at “tips” for remembering needful points. All the nerves, arteries, origin and insertion of muscles; infectious 36 diseases, their symptoms and treatment; everything medical and surgical that any examiner had been ever known to ask a question about was by this ingenious fellow reduced to a simple formula of catch words, constituting an original system of artificial memory. Everybody who wanted a good tip for anatomical or other difficulties went to Lennard, and came away with a cabalistic arrangement of ludicrous words, that to most men were more difficult to remember than the facts they were intended to represent. To himself, however, they must have been amazingly useful, as he certainly did pass his exams, and it is no less certain that he seldom did any work, and never really understood what he did manage to get through. He was full of good nature, and always ready to “help any lame dog over a stile,” as he called it; so the needy men went to him when they wanted to borrow; and the helpless idiots who could not learn in the ordinary way, but resorted to royal roads and short cuts, got his tips, and made so mixed and bungling a use of them, that this patent method frequently completed the downfall of those who essayed to bend Ulysses’ bow.

There was Tim Finnigan, “a broth of a bhoy,” from the wilds of Galway, all fun and frolic, but good at learning, and witty as ever trod a bog or broke a head. It was he who led the raid on the Statuary Exhibition near Queen’s College one Saturday night, and carried the great nude gods and goddesses into the adjoining churchyard; so that when the good folk went to early mass, they were confronted by Venuses and Apollos, impudently airing themselves under the trees by the pathway, “mit nodings on.” The maiden lady, whose parlour window overlooked the churchyard, was horrified when she came down to breakfast that Sunday morning, to see a dreadful great plaster man unblushingly staring at her in the undraped similitude of a Greek athlete. The church was served by an order of French religious, and the agony of the poor fathers at the shocking display, rivalling the groves of Blarney, outside 37 their monastic church was painful to behold. Tim Finnigan was present when they discovered the exhibition on their premises, and he declared he never afterwards could believe that a Frenchman had any sense of humour. Poor Tim was discovered to have been the hero of this freak, and that was why he left Queen’s College and turned up at St. Bernard’s. The maiden lady who had caught the vision of the athlete thought expulsion a punishment all too light for him.

There was “Darkey” Dobbs; he was not christened Darkey, his swarthy complexion was the cause of his nickname. He had great mechanical ability, which he brought to bear on his practical jokes. His rapid knack of getting brass plates off doors and railings, his skill at wrenching knockers and bell-handles without alarming the owners, made him an indispensable companion of a night’s fun. It was Darkey who invented the celebrated coffee-stall joke. Four fellows hired a “growler” early one winter’s morning in the main road by the hospital. Three of them got out of the cab and called for coffee, and treated cabby; and while the attention of the stall-keeper was arrested in serving his new customers, the fourth occupant of the vehicle quietly got out, and, unperceived by anybody, tied a long cord to one of the posts of the stall and connected it with the shafts. Cabby remounted, his fares discharged him and decamped, and he drove off dragging the stall behind the vehicle, upsetting all the cups and platters, and wrecking the whole concern. It was said that the stall-keeper’s language was “not of a kind to adorn any Sunday-school book;” when the rope was cut, and the damage calculated, he found to his great grief that a pound would not cover it. It was a good deal for the poor fellow to lose, but the amusement to the perpetrators of the joke was immense, and “the greatest good of the greatest number” was one of the articles of a creed they firmly held.

Then there was “Camel” Campbell, called “Camel” on account of his humpy shoulders, though he was christened 38 Horace. He was the hero of a droll adventure in Great Titchfield Street. Passing through that thoroughfare early one Sunday morning with four or five stalwart fellows of the same kidney, they found a groggy old gentleman who could not gain admittance to his house because his wife had bolted the door, and his latch-key did not avail him. What did Camel and his mates do but in a moment pick him up, and, swinging him backwards and forwards two or three times to get a good impetus, shoot him feet foremost like a bolt from a catapult, smash through the parlour window, where he landed on the table amidst the crash of broken glass, and the disintegrated bust of Psyche that erstwhile beamed upon the street from under a handsome shade. Not one of them was caught; they dispersed by different routes, and got clear away before the leaden feet of the policeman had brought him on the scene.

It must not for a moment be supposed that all, or even the majority, of the men were as much devoted to boisterous amusements as those we have been describing. The quiet, hard workers found means to keep themselves aloof from such revelling, though even they, under the charm of the influence the leading spirits exercised over the generous, light-hearted youths who compose the majority of medical students, sometimes abandoned themselves to the spirit of devilry which often broke loose when the day’s work was over.

Very hard workers, who went in for the greater prizes and scholarships, were obliged to live at a distance from the place, that they might be under the less temptation to this sort of thing.

The assembled guests were in high spirits to-night. Though they had done very little of the work they were supposed to have got through, and had attended scarcely half of the lectures they ought to have heard, they had succeeded in getting their papers signed; and, with but two exceptions, they had as much credit given them on their schedules for honest work as if they had been the most assiduous and 39 conscientious of students. So they sang their songs and retold their stories, drank their beer, smoked their tobacco, played nap, and laughed and talked as only youngsters full of life and spirits can who lead the Bohemian life of a medico.

Lennard was inclined to be sentimental and romantic. “What adventures,” said he, “we should hear if the corpses in that dissecting-room over yonder could tell their histories! Unclaimed all of them! Think what that means. How low one must sink when nobody comes forward to ask the parish to bury you at its own expense! Let me conjure up a history for you of the seven subjects on the tables where we have been at work to-day. I will begin at my own, where I am ‘doing my leg.’”

“Ah! I am glad you said ‘doing.’ I should have demurred to ‘dissecting,’ had you said that,” threw in Murphy.

Disregarding the interruption, Lennard went on: “This old man—not so very old, about sixty I should say—has good features and toil-worn hands; was, let us say, an unfrocked parson: fell into bad ways, family disowned him; left his old associates, or they left him; gradually sank lower and lower; sold little things in the street; lived at threepenny lodging-houses; got ill; taken into the parish infirmary; died, and came here. Think of all he must have gone through! How he would remember his happy youth at school, at Oxford, his ordination, his good aspirations, the society he mixed in, and the remorse that embittered his life. This sort of thing is common enough. That woman on the next table, with the spinal fracture, a tight-rope dancer in her early days; used to delight the habitués of Old Vauxhall; one night fell and broke her back. Folk soon got tired of helping her. Her husband made her happy, and was good to her; till, in old age, he died, and she was left bedridden and without means. Even the church folk got tired of the case. She went into the workhouse, died, and so came here. All this as likely as not. Think of those long years of suffering! From the last dazzling 40 lights and gaiety of Vauxhall, to the gradually beworsening room where she lay a cripple for so many years, while her husband did his best to cheer her, and make her as easy as he could. Behind her is a coloured woman not more than forty. How came she here? A stranger from beyond the seas, knowing nothing of our language, brought here by friends who held out hopes of gain and pleasure, and then left her sick and dying in St. George’s Workhouse, down by the London Docks.”

“Oh! hang it all, Lennard!” cried Mahoney; “you are preaching like a teetotal orator. Confound it, we can’t stand the whole seven of ’em. That’s enough! Why, what could the old parson want more than to give a medical school like ours his ‘body of divinity’? He has preached a better sermon in the hands of Professor Sturge than he ever did at church, and his illustrations are much more telling, I dare say; and he makes no reservations now. I can imagine nothing more honourable than to devote one’s body to a dissecting-room out of mere gratitude to a science that has helped us in life. But this is a dismal strain we are in. Give us your song, Williams; dear old Albert Smith’s ‘Student’s Alphabet.’”

Williams laid aside his pipe, and took a pull at the tankard of ale on the mantel board, and began:—

Oh, A was an Artery, filled with injection;
And B was a Brick, never caught at dissection.
C were some Chemicals—Lithium and Borax;
And D was the Diaphragm, flooring the thorax.
Fol de rol lol,
Fol de rol lay,
Fol de rol, tol de rol, tol de rol lay.
E was an Embryo in a glass case;
And F a Foramen that pierced the skull’s base.
41 G was a Grinder who sharpen’d the tools;
And H means the Half-and-half drunk at the schools.
Fol de rol lol, etc.
I was some Iodine, made of sea-weed;
J was a Jolly Cock, not used to read.
K was some Kreosote, much over-rated;
And L were the Lies which about it were stated.
Fol de rol lol, etc.
M was a Muscle—cold, flabby, and red;
And N was a Nerve, like a bit of white thread.
O was some Opium a fool chose to take;
And P were the Pins used to keep him awake.
Fol de rol lol, etc.
Q were the Quacks, who cure stammer and squint;
R was a Raw from a burn, wrapped in lint.
S was a Scalpel, to eat bread and cheese;
And T was a Tourniquet, vessels to squeeze.
Fol de rol lol, etc.
U was the Unciform bone of the wrist;
V was the Vein which a blunt lancet missed.
W was Wax, from a syringe that flowed;
X was the ’Xaminers, who may be blowed!
Fol de rol lol, etc.
Y stands for You all, with best wishes sincere;
And Z for the Zanies who never touch beer.
So we’ve got to the end, not forgetting a letter;
And those who don’t like it may grind up a better.
Fol de rol lol, etc.

One of the party, a Mr. Randall, a second year’s man, was very groggy, and it was rather unlucky that he was called out to a maternity case in the midst of all this enjoyment. Not that he took it to heart much, indeed he went with alacrity. He had to prove attendance on fifty cases before he could compete for the Obstetric prize, and as this would bring his 42 number up to forty-three, it was important not to miss it; so he left the company with many ribald jokes aimed at him, and was soon in attendance on the unfortunate woman whose life, and that of her babe, were entrusted to his care. The young man meant well, but he would have been less scandalous to the assembled matrons had he been sober. It seemed, however, so natural for a hospital student to be slightly elevated, and the class of medical men who sent their boozy unqualified assistants to look after their poorer clients had so familiarized them with vinous doctors, that he got a better reception than he deserved. Sometimes very terrible accidents arose in this way, but nothing ever came of the investigations that followed. The staff of the hospital, with their great names and solemn opinions, were always at the service of the students to extricate them from a difficulty; and had they amputated a patient’s head while serving their hospital, there were plenty of good men with a string of letters to their names, who would have been found to swear at the inquest that the treatment was justified on high medical authority under the circumstances. This is called medical esprit de corps, and it is born, bred, and educated in our great medical schools.

Under the ægis of this protection there is very little that a student cannot do with a live or a dead human subject. Nice for the subject, especially if a live one! The interesting object of Mr. Randall’s attendance on the evening in question recovered her health, and ultimately died a natural death.

After Randall had started, Dobbs was called upon to tell a story. He was good at this sort of thing; had written several capital tales for the press, and was generally suspected of being engaged upon a medical novel.

“Well, lads,” said he, after mixing himself a whisky and soda, “I will tell you a true story to-night. I don’t think any of you know it, save perhaps one or two. I don’t always feel in the vein for telling it, but to-night I do. So here goes.

“It was one day towards the end of November, four years 43 ago, when the great fog lasted three whole days and nights without lifting. London was in total darkness, save for the feeble ghostly glimmer the gaslights gave here and there. There were few men about the place, but I was working hard for a prize and could not leave town—every spare moment was passed in the dissecting-room. On the afternoon of the day I refer to, two or three fellows came bothering me to go and play billiards with them. They were half screwed, and I was occupied with my work and didn’t want their company. So as soon as I got rid of them I took my ‘part’ down to the vaults below, where the coffins are kept waiting for the weekly visit of the undertaker. I lit the gas, and soon got absorbed in my work. It must have been about four o’clock when I went below, because the fellows who had been bothering me had just left the Anatomy Lecture, and nobody knew of my having done so at all. When one gets interested in the brachial plexus, the flight of the hours isn’t noticed, and I was first recalled to the fact that it was closing time at the schools by hearing the heavy slam of the great iron door at the top of the steps leading down to the vaults. Dropping my scalpel with a rush, I made for the staircase, and in real terror of being locked in for the night, shouted to be let out. No answer came; all I could hear was the banging of more doors, fainter and fainter, as they were more distant; and then, hearing the thud of the great outer door, knew I was imprisoned for the night, with no chance of escape. When I returned to my vault, of course the gas was turned off—the porters had seen to that—and I was in total darkness. I had a box of vestas in my pocket I had fortunately bought of an urchin as I came in, and luckily had plenty of tobacco. Lighting a match, I began to explore the place more carefully than I had done. I did not look for any means of getting out, as I knew there were none; but I was very anxious not to spend the night in darkness. On a shelf over the door there were a lot of bottles and jars, containing the various fluids used in preserving the subjects. To my 44 great delight there was a big bottle of oil, and then I knew I was all right for a light. This was something, at all events. Knocking a large glass bottle to bits, I managed to make the bottom of it into a fairish sort of lamp; and then, with a few slices of cork and some of my wax matches, I rigged up two very decent floating wicks, and set them alight. The glimmer was faint, and served rather to increase the gloominess of the place, and exhibited my sleeping apartment in a rather unpleasant aspect.”

“Why didn’t you burn the door?” asked Elsworth. “They always did that in Dumas’ tales.”

“How could he when it’s iron, you donkey? Shut up; it seems you never do any quiet dissections,” said a young house surgeon.

“There was the body of a newly imported subject, that had just been got ready for use upstairs, lying in ghastly whiteness on a coffin lid in the middle of the place. I noticed that its right arm was attached to a rope and pulley in the ceiling, and had been left in that position when the beadle had injected his preservative fluid into the arteries. The weight which acted as counterpoise was lying on a heap of old rags on the edge of the table. I did not like the look of the raised arm; it seemed pointing at me in a nasty ghostly sort of way, and I pulled it down. Then exploring further, I came upon a great store of tow and old sacking, and with these I made up a tidy sort of bed on a wide shelf, and determined when bedtime came to try and get some sleep. I was downright mad when I thought of my jolly little fire at my diggings, and the kidneys and stout I had ordered for supper. I wasn’t in much of a humour for reading, and had nothing to read with me except my Gray’s Anatomy. I hadn’t light enough to dissect, or would have kept at it all night. I could hear the clock of St. Andrew’s tolling out the lazy hours—how long they seemed! At nine I couldn’t stand it any more, and lay down on my shelf, and covering myself with the sacks tried to go to sleep. It was 45 past ten before I dropped off; my bed was most uncomfortable, and my pillow too low—a low pillow always makes me dream so. I rested badly, and soon awoke. As I lay thinking and praying for morning, I became aware of a peculiar low moaning noise, as of some creature in great pain in a distant corner, as it seemed. Listening with the intensified sense that such circumstances arouse, I heard, in addition to the moans, a regular clank of some machine working like a bellows, and then I remembered that on the day before I had been trying some experiments on two dogs in the next vault. To one I had given curare, and had to keep his respiration going by Paul Bert’s beautiful little machine, invented for the purpose; the other dog had been horribly mangled by Crowe, and ought to have been killed, but there was a question of the bile duct on which I hadn’t completely satisfied myself, and he told me to take the animal below, and I am ashamed to say I had forgotten the poor little beggar.”

“Was that the rough little terrier which followed Dr. Arnold in the Laboratory when he was starving? I have heard him laugh at the misplaced confidence of the brute,” said Elsworth.

“The very animal,” replied the story-teller.

“But, I say, you had no licence, you know!” said Wilks, a shy, curate-looking freshman, who belonged to several humanitarian societies, and thought all this very dreadful.

The roar of laughter with which the delicious joke was received made poor Wilks blush to the roots of his hair, as one of the audience cried:

“Licence be hanged! Do you think we care for the fanatics who impede our work? Let them show themselves at St. Bernard’s! Crowe has one, because it looks well to the public; but don’t you preach, Wilks, or you’ll do for yourself. Go on.”

“Now when I was at work on the physiology part of the business, I never thought of the cruelty, but now it all came upon me horribly. My position was bad enough, but these 46 poor dogs—animals, like ourselves—they were in cruel agony without food or water. I was only not on a feather bed, that was all; they were dying in awful torment. I thought my imprisonment was all arranged by a higher Power, to let me know what I was doing; and God knows I suffered shame and mental distress that night. I fell asleep at last, though the moans and the clockwork worked themselves into my dreams. All at once a loud noise aroused me. I started up, and to my unutterable horror, saw the arm of the corpse on the coffin lid slowly rising, and pointing its rigid hand at me in the dim light. I am no coward, as you know; but my heart was in my mouth as I stared with starting eyeballs at the ghastly object, and then I saw what had happened. The counterpoise of the pulley had slipped down, and dragged up the right arm of the corpse. It was the falling of the weight on the floor of the vault that awoke me. Just then the clock struck three, and I left the arm pointing its stiff fingers at me and went to sleep again—‘to sleep, to dream.’ I dreamt that two awful-looking burkers had brought a subject in, had taken their gold from the place where it lay ready for them, and had caught sight of me. ‘Why, Bill,’ said one, ‘here’s a chance; let us smother this bloke, and he’ll be worth another five-pun-note to us!’ ‘Right you are, Tom!’ said the other. And they proceeded to carry out their diabolical plans, when I awoke. Horrible night-mare! I shudder now when I think of it.”

“Rather creepy, I must say,” said little Murphy.

“Well, I could not sleep any more after that, and lay a-meditating. After all, I thought, why shouldn’t I have been murdered and given up to science, as I had done with those wretched dogs in the next room? Did not the same Power frame their bodies as mine? Were not the processes Nature so lovingly and carefully carried on in their sensitive little frames just as beautiful and well adapted as those which went on in me? I repented, my lads, that night, and I have never spoken to Crowe since, and have done with that sort of work.”

47 “Ah! you are a sentimentalist,” they cried; “but tell us how you got out.”

“Oh, I got through the night somehow—an end comes to everything sooner or later; but the scoundrelly porters were later than usual that morning before they opened the place. Jim, the sweeper, was in a beastly funk, and implored me not to tell anybody, because it was his place to look round the vaults before closing; but he says the fog had got into him, and the other porter had asked him to go and have some hot spiced ale with him, and he was anxious he should not change his mind.”

It was getting late, and Mrs. Harper knocked at the door with “Time! gentlemen; time!” Of course she was asked in and invited to have a toothful.

“As my spasms was just a-comin’ on, strange to say, gentlemen, as up the stairs I came, I don’t mind if I do. Just a thimbleful; no, Mr. Murphy! not a drop beyond the pretty part, and cold I’ll have it to-night. It does me most good when the liquor is strong. Here’s your very good ’ealth, gentlemen, and may you all have lots of practice when you’ve done with the ’orspital; and what’s more, lots of fees, and good ’uns.”

“Well done, missus,” said all the men; “you could not have wished us anything better.”

“And now, gentlemen, I thank you for your kindness, but shut up my house I must; so I hope you will pardon me if I ask you to clear out. Oh! lawks, Mr. Murphy; I ’opes to goodness the perlice won’t see this blessed board, nor these knockers and things. I chops up that there ‘Similar—attached Willa Residence’ to-morrow for the fires. I said you should have it for your party, but no more of it—not if I knows it. Now, gents! Good-night! good-night!” And she got rid of them, and they went rollicking home.



A gentleman who in a duel was rather scratched than wounded, sent for a chirurgeon, who, having opened the wound, charged his man with all speed to fetch such a salve from such a place in his study.

“Why?” said the gentleman, “is the hurt so dangerous?”

“Oh, yes,” answered the chirurgeon; “if he returns not in poste haste, the wound will cure itself.”—Thos. Fuller.

Now being from Paris but recently,
This fine young man would show his skill;
And so they gave him, his hand to try,
A hospital patient extremely ill.
Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Mrs. Sarah Podger was receiving-room nurse at St. Bernard’s, and one of the most important officials of the charity. The receiving-room is immediately within the main door of the hospital, and when an accident or other case of emergency is brought in, the patient is taken straight to this waiting hall. He first encounters Mrs. Podger, who is on the alert, having been summoned by the bell the gate porter rings when the case passes his lodge.

Mrs. Podger is at least fifty years old, is short, stout, and good-tempered. Her face is florid; she is not a convert to Blue Ribbonism; to use her own expression, she “leaves all that there rot to the sisters and fine ladies who play at nussin’.” She is of the good old school, “before all these fads and fooleries was got up;” she “don’t hold with none of ’em” 49 “and don’t you go for to tell me,” she used to say, when questioned, “as nussin’ can be properly done on milk and water. Milk-and-water nussin’ is all very well for them as ain’t got nothin’ the matter with ’em, but folks as has to be treated at St. Bernard’s is too serious bad to get on with teetotal notions. Teetotal is all very well for the mumps; but lor’ bless yer, my dear, how are yer goin’ to nuss a capital hoperation on tea, leastways not without a drop of somethin’ in it?”

Mrs. Podger is first of all the obsequious and humble servant of the house governor, the resident staff, and the doctors attached to the charity. To these she is a very dragon of virtue and propriety. To them she protests against all larks on the part of the young students, and is never seen to smile at them in their presence. The hospital and the good of the patients is her sole love and desire. Not Jerusalem was holier to the Jew than St. Bernard’s to Mrs. Podger, when any of these were in her presence. But her heart was with the boys, and her pockets in that lavender print gown found its account in keeping well in with them. “The boys,” as she used to call the students, who were always lounging about the receiving-room, waiting for somebody to fall off a scaffold, or get run over, boasted that Podger could teach them more than all the staff put together. Where was the man who had not learned his practical surgery at Podger’s hands? Did he shine in his bandaging, it was Podger who had taught him to make those neat, smooth turns. How would that “foreign body in the eye,” as was designated the bit of coke dust in the governor’s organ of vision, have been extracted just now by the house surgeon of the day, if Podger had not given him that gentle nudge and that knowing look and told him exactly what to do, and let him have all the credit of doing it? If Podger liked the students, they on their part found Podger indispensable to them. Without her the receiving-room was the house without the mistress—the whole business went wrong. Now Podger was capital for the students, and well deserved all her 50 tips and all her drops of gin and whisky; but you would not have appreciated Podger at her proper value had you tumbled off an omnibus, and been carried to her place of business, say at five o’clock, when the staff was dining, or at ten, when the house surgeon of the week had his little card party in his rooms. Well, yes, it would have been all right if the friend who went with you had “exhibited,” say, half an ounce of silver coinage for application to the palm of Podger’s hand, right or left; otherwise you would have been placed on that black leather couch in the corner there under the shelf of lint and tow, and you would have been weary waiting in that receiving-room, counting the various form of splints hanging round it, and listening to the groans of other sufferers waiting till dinner was over, or the game of cribbage finished, for your wounds and bruises to be attended to.

At a card-party, say, in the house surgeon’s room, her manner was much appreciated. A knock. “Come in!” “Accident sir!” “Oh, bother, Podger, what a fidget you are!” “Well, sir, it wasn’t me as caused it; there’s three of ’em, for the matter of that, and they have been here about half-an-hour, and I thought as you’d like to know.” “Fifteen two, and a pair’s four, and his nob! Now, Podger, wet your whistle, old girl; here, have a toothful, and tell them you have called the doctors, and they are all in the wards over a bad case, but are coming to see them directly.” “Bless you, sir,” says Podger, having bobbed a curtsey, “I told ’em that when they came in. Here’s your very good ’ealth, gentlemen, and long life and plenty of practice for you all.” And she returns to the receiving-room refreshed in spirit and better able to contend with the grumbling of the unhappy victims it contained. She would have dressed their wounds, and sent them all off packing about their business, but it was against the rules, grave scandals having arisen from this “unqualified treatment.” Not but that the work would have been often done quite as well as if the students, to the number of say eight or nine, had all had 51 “a go” at it, and with infinitely less discomfort and even agony to the patient; but it was “agin’ the rules,” as she declared “’cos why? it didn’t seem proper for ‘a nuss’ to set broken limbs; besides, it pervented the boys from gettin’ ‘the experience’ they paid for.” She was very anxious they should avail themselves of every opportunity that arose to improve themselves. No member of the staff was more interested than she in the pass list of the College of Surgeons; she felt it as a reproach against her teaching when any of them failed, and on the eve of a “Pass Exam.” or a “Final College,” she spared the patients in the receiving-room no agony as long as any one of the men “going up,” could extract useful information about fracture, dislocation, or the adjustment of a splint.

“Now, stop that there row, young man; it’s all for your good! The doctors is a-settin’ of your leg, and if you ’oller like that, you’ll make ’em nervous. You may thank yer stars there’s ’orspitals for poor sufferers like yourself to come to, and have so many kind gents to make yer all right agen.” And the old girl would wink at the boys, give them all a good chance with the case, and when everybody had quite done, and had got all their points, the poor suffering wretch was sent into the wards, there to undergo as many further examinations as the pursuit of knowledge demanded. Did he scream, she bade him desist; did he struggle, she called another and a stronger nurse to her assistance; did he rebel yet, a porter or two came in to reduce him to order. Chloroform was not often resorted to, it had an element of risk; and ether was too troublesome to be given unnecessarily. The house surgeons always prided themselves on an air of nonchalance and dignity; they were never in a hurry; it was undignified and unprofessional to be anything but perfectly calm under any circumstances. To speak loftily, in measured tones, and with studied stand-offishness, was no less necessary than the binaural stethoscope they never appeared without, the gold spectacles or eye-glass they usually affected, and the patronising manner they adopted towards 52 the men with whom they had been fellow-students, whose larks and escapades they had shared in with equal relish, but who, not having yet attained the dignity of membership of the College of Surgeons, and the still greater honour of house surgeon to St. Bernard’s, were no longer their companions, nor participants in their enjoyments.

They all comported themselves as became members of the staff of a great hospital; they would not have been of much use in any of the ordinary sicknesses that require the aid of the experienced general practitioner or family doctor, who is so serviceable in our every-day troubles and infirmities: they paid no attention to colds, measles, and the mumps; they aspired to greater things, and occupied themselves with eye diseases, maladies of the brain, or the higher surgery. Attend you in your attack of the gout? Oh, dear no! any fool of a G.P. (slang for general practitioner) could do that, or your nurse might manage the case. But trephine you, resect your knee-joint, or do a gastrotomy upon you,—they were burning with enthusiasm for nothing less. So they all told each other they meant to be operating surgeons, speciality men, consulting physicians; they would all go to live and practise in Saville Row, or the neighbourhood of Cavendish Square. “Work for half-crowns like the miserable family doctors in the high-road outside? Not if they knew it!” They were born to send cases to the Lancet, to read papers at Congresses, to edit the Journal of Psychopathy, or arouse the medical world by their work on “Diseases of the Upper Eyelid.” Poor beggars; in ten years’ time seven-tenths of them would be toiling up rotten staircases, or groping in coal mines, visiting patients at an average of nine-pence-halfpenny a head, or holding parish appointments, and doing Friendly Societies’ work at half that rate; while of the other three-tenths, one would be starving in two gloomy rooms in a West End square, the second might make his fortune by marrying a rich wife, and the other work his way to distinction late in life by an ultimate succession to the permanent staff of his own hospital. 53 Now and then he might be luckier still; he might start a special Hospital for Diseases of the Upper Eyelid, and so work his way to eminence and emolument. Of course all these men were supremely scientific. What was pain (in other people), if science could be advanced? What was suffering (in patients), if anything could be added to the sum of our knowledge as to the causes of their suffering? To cure the disease, to cut short the malady—ah, no, too often that was to extinguish alike the discomfort and the interesting course of phenomena that accompanied it. The true patient, the typical client, was he who—devoured by fever or disfigured by disease—asked for nothing better than to be well watched by observant medical eyes, while the “expectant treatment” (i.e., the letting the disease severely alone) did its work. To the objection that a man may die while the expected cure does not arrive, what more obvious than the answer, “But see what a brilliant paper for the Journal is the outcome of it all?” Somehow, Podger vaguely saw all this. Podger recognised that all the “cases” were but “cases.” She knew that Mr. Graves was getting up statistics on broken legs, and was well aware that Mr. Brand was hard at work on a treatise on “Burns and the Cayenne Pepper Treatment.” Now this was in no way objectionable to Podger; she, indeed, could cure burns beautifully with her lint and cotton wool, and soothing unguents; “But, lor bless you! my dear sir,” she would say, “if you likes to pepper ’em on the chance of making a discovery, I ain’t the nuss as ’ud stand in your way of your doing something singular to get yerself a name. So pepper ’em, I say. Thank the Lord it ain’t me nor mine as you are a-operatin’ on. What makes ’em come to the ’orspital at all, I says, if they are a-goin’ to find fault with the treatment?” So Podger co-operated bravely with all the science of the day; she would have flayed the broken-backed bricklayer alive if the staff had ordered it, and said it was scientific treatment. She knew very well the chief object of St. Bernard’s existence, and above all, she knew her place. Oh, but she was 54 an artful and motherly old woman! the true daughter of the receiving-room; the inheritor of all its traditions, and the heiress of a large legacy of hospital tricks. She had such wheedling ways. “You! only an ignorant carpenter, good enough, perhaps, at joists, and flooring, and staircases, what was your opinion against the learned, clever, charitable young surgeon, who wanted to take your leg off, and all for nothing? Shame on you, sir, to suggest ‘practice, practice, all for practice, like making me plane up deals when I was a ’prentice.’ Have it off like a brave Englishman, and don’t make a fuss about a paltry broken leg.” What could a man say under the circumstances? What Podger said to the house surgeon of the day, who had bribed her to get him the operation, was: “It’s all right, Mr. Esmarch; he’s a-goin’ to have it done, so take him while he is in the humour;” and Mr. Esmarch did; and the theatre bell rang to assemble the men for the operation, and Mr. Esmarch rushed off to his books to read up “legs,” and take notes for his first “flap operation.” Oh, Podger could manage it when she gave her mind to it. Was it not truly an invaluable Podger?



Some persons will tell you, with an air of the miraculous, that they recovered although they were given over; whereas they might with more reason have said, they recovered because they were given over.—Lacon.

Mosca. And then, they do it by experiment,
For which the law not only doth absolve them,
But gives them great reward, and he is loath
To hire his death so.
Corbaccio. It is true, they kill
With as much license as a judge.
Ben Jonson.

While engaged during their first year at the medical school dissecting, learning their bones, and listening to lectures on physiology, the students were encouraged to attend the out-patient department of the hospital. Hundreds of poor suffering folk attend at noon daily to consult the physicians and surgeons on the staff. Very arduous is the work these gentlemen perform. Many hours a week are given by them gratuitously for this purpose, and half their lives may be said to be passed here or in the wards. Such of them as in addition are lecturers at the school receive fair but not very liberal fees, but the purely hospital work is without monetary reward. Yet the appointments are eagerly sought for by medical men, because of the publicity and private practice which are sure to follow a successful hospital practitioner; and above all, on account of the great number of rare and interesting cases which occur in 56 hospitals, giving great scope for the trying of new remedies, new apparatus and modes of treatment, new operations and new methods of dealing with obscure forms of disease. Every inducement is held out for sick folk to attend the out-patient department of a large hospital. The great majority of the cases may present no new feature, but there will certainly be a fair proportion of strange and curious maladies, inviting the attention of the penetrative skill of some member of the staff. You see, you are sick of some grievous disorder which your family doctor fails to cure. You demand to see some specialist who has had larger experience of your class of case. He sends for such a one who has passed half his life hunting up this malady in its every phase; it is reasonable he should know more about it than the man who has to attend to everything that comes in his way. It is, therefore, very well worth the while of the aspirant to “consulting practice” to spend every spare moment where he can see most cases. This is the way the hospital pays him for his services. He attends a hundred cases which cannot interest him, because of their frequency; the hundred and first is a variant of the peculiar complaint on which he is writing his great monograph. And there are ways by which every one of the hundred others may be made to contribute their quota of information. If you have not suffered from the complaint forming the subject of the monograph, you will be lucky if you escape exhibiting the genesis of the disease or one of its stages for clinical purposes.

The out-patient departments of the great general hospitals stand more in need of reform than perhaps any of the charitable institutions of our time. To the contributors and subscribers they appear, doubtless, to be the one great means of affording poor persons the highest medical and surgical advice, and the best medicines and appliances free of charge. The poor believe this, the well-to-do middle classes, and even the rich believe it. The out-patient department day after day is thronged by several hundreds of men, women, and children, who go there at noon 57 and wait hour after hour, often till five o’clock in the evening, for an interview with the physician or surgeon who, between the hours of two and four, will probably see one hundred cases. Well-dressed women and men, whose aspect proves them to be at least above the necessity of obtaining medical assistance gratuitously, occupy the time of the staff, and deplete the resources of the hospital in respect of valuable drugs to the extent of many thousands of pounds’ worth annually in London alone. Vast numbers of patients attend who are suffering from trifling ailments which need but the simplest home remedies for their cure. On the other hand, children and adults of both sexes go week after week to the out-patient department, when every time they leave their room for the purpose, the exposure, the necessary fatigue, the long waiting in draughty and over ventilated rooms, does them more harm than any medical treatment they can receive, under such circumstance, can do good. All this happens within the perfect knowledge of the staff, who, so far from discountenancing the system, encourage the patients to attend regularly, and seldom dissuade them till the last days of the poor creatures’ existence. The reasons for such policy, held to be paramount are these:

First; the greater the number of patients who seek the aid of the charity, the greater claim the committee can make on the purses of the charitable.

Again; the greater the number of the cases in hand day after day, the more chance there is of getting hold of rare and interesting complaints for their own notes and statistics; and for clinical teaching for their students, who attend the out-patient department with great assiduity. But even the simplest and least complicated case has its uses for demonstration to the students. Here is a case of commencing phthisis; there is one still more advanced; another is in the last stage; and all afford good opportunities for demonstrating a multitude of points useful for the tyros in medicine to know. A half-dead woman, with lungs far advanced in the destructive changes of 58 pulmonary consumption, applies for treatment. She is examined with care and kindness by the physician, who, having satisfied himself as to the nature and progress of the disease, makes the requisite notes of her case, and hands her over to his class for perhaps a dozen more fatiguing examinations. She has been waiting probably two or three hours for the interview, for another hour or more she must be stethoscoped, percussed, pounded and pummelled, while the students are picking up from her emaciated and wasting frame the elements of their profession. Nobody at the hospital supposes for a moment they can do her any good, but she offers herself in her ignorance, day after day, a sacrifice on the altar of science, that her abnormal breathing sounds, and other phenomena of disease may teach young men how to earn a respectable living. Then, again, there are a vast number of minor operations, for the performance of which, by novices, the out-patient departments afford peculiar facilities. How much it adds to the terror, nervous apprehension, shame and mental distress of the patients, who cannot but feel often how greatly their trouble and risks are increased by their performances as school experiments, can be readily imagined. No doubt medical men do as much work for nothing as other professional men, but certainly not more—not nearly so much as clergymen, for instance. Yet, the hospitals do not pay their staff for all the time and labour devoted to its work. How, then, are they paid? In the first place, their students are constantly going into practice on their own account; they will require well-known and trusted consultants and operators to assist them in difficult cases occurring in well-to-do and affluent families; they will introduce them in this way to lucrative practice, ever increasing if they are skilful men. Every one of their students, therefore, becomes an agent for their success. Even the patients who have received benefit will often be able to recommend to richer relatives or friends, masters or mistresses—as in the case of workpeople or servants—the doctor who has helped them to a 59 cure. It is in this way the great practices of the greatest men attached to the hospitals have all been founded and maintained. That they should devote themselves to the interests of their pupils is, then, of the first importance, as, in a few years, the kindnesses shown to them will be coming back in a steady flow of guineas.

At the close of the second winter session, the men are expected to be ready for the first professional examination at the College of Surgeons, in anatomy and physiology. It is the desire of both teachers and the hospital itself, that as large a proportion as possible of the students shall present themselves for examination at the regular time, as the credit of the school depends on the proportion of passes. Every effort is made to urge the men on, and the teaching staff take the utmost pains to perfect the knowledge of their pupils, and thoroughly instruct them in the subjects they will be required to know. They hold test examinations, and send the men up in batches; those of most promise go up first, while the backward ones are detained till the last efforts have been put forth to fit them for the day of trial. Elsworth was sent up in the first batch, and passed creditably. Having thus proved that he had a sufficient knowledge of the rudiments of his work, he was at once permitted to act as a dresser or surgeon’s assistant in the wards of the hospital proper. This is the first bit of promotion which the successful student obtains. The nurses could do pretty well all the work he has to do, as far as the dressing goes; but this is purposely left to him, that he may pick up instruction and experience.



We easily forget our faults when they are known only to ourselves.—La Rochefoucauld.

Doctor. Is it not natural to die? Then if a dozen or two of my patients have died under my hands, is not that natural?

Lisette. Very natural, indeed.—Mrs. Inchbald.

And if you die,
Why then you lie
Stretched on the bed of honour.—Dibdin.

Early the following morning, Elsworth presented himself to young Dr. Wilson, the house surgeon in charge of the wards under the chief care of the surgeons, to whom he was appointed dresser.

Hitherto he had done no practical work in the wards at all. It was against the regulations for any student to be a dresser in the surgical wards till he had passed his primary or first professional examination, at the end of his second winter session.

He had opportunities of learning the countless little details of minor surgery in the out-patient departments day by day, but now he was to be introduced to a very different kind of work. He would have some forty or fifty patients to study and report upon, to watch the progress of their maladies, or the processes of their cure, to dress the wounds, bandage, apply the remedies ordered by the house surgeon, or the surgeon-in-chief, and himself perform such operations as in their discretion he might be entrusted with. Everybody must have a beginning, and upon whom can one begin surgery so well as an hospital 61 patient? Your dentist began upon somebody; he did not acquire without practice that nice skill, that rapidity, almost amounting to sleight of hand, by which he jerks out your offending molar, before you are half aware he has begun. To be sure, he had a long course on sheeps’ heads from the butchers, and then at the hospital or dispensary, he tugged away at the mouths of poor children, or men and women of low degree, who could not afford the chemist’s shilling, or the still cheaper barber’s fee, and who, getting the job done for nothing, could not reasonably complain of the several bungling attempts with the wrong instruments applied in the wrong way, and often to the wrong tooth.

“I say, young man,” said a poor carpenter to an hospital novice, after the fifth attempt to lug out his grinder had been fruitlessly made. “Do they pay you here by time or by the job?”

Even your hair-dresser must have cut somebody’s hair for the first time. You may be sure it was not a duke’s. “We allus begins on children’s at the Workhus schools,” was the answer of a master barber to an inquiry as to the method of learning the art. Here, then, were fifty live subjects, all human, at the mercy of our new dresser. That young blacksmith with the broken rib thinks he is here simply to get it mended. He will think so in a fortnight’s time, but the officials know better; the mended rib is a mere contingency. The butcher lad in the corner bed has compression of the brain. He shall be cured, if possible. Meanwhile, he shall make himself useful to those who want to investigate the latest theory of “localisation of brain functions.”

He shall be trephined—that is to say, a round hole shall be neatly cut in his cranium, and the brain exposed at the injured part; and while the organ of the mind is open to the view, are there not many pretty ideas to be discoursed of, and various experiments awaiting trial? Are there not galvanic batteries at hand? Is not the man at their mercy? He has ether or 62 chloroform, and able men of science about him; and, if they don’t cure him, they will doubtless get information that will enable them to cure some much more important personage! It is not enough to have done all this on a monkey; it needs a man before you can be quite sure. Ultimately they will do it with safety to a gentleman, a duke, a royal prince, and the successful operation will make somebody’s fortune. So as every rising surgeon carries a royal surgeon’s baton in his instrument bag, have at the butcher!

The house surgeon “went round” with our new dresser, and explained the nature of each case in very brief terms, and in a perfunctory manner. It was his duty to instruct his dressers, and he did it after a fashion; but he was not paid to do anything of the sort, and, with the young and partially-educated, there is often a sort of contempt for those who know just a little less than they do. The scorn felt and expressed by the Board School child who knows decimals, for his companion just beginning vulgar fractions, is nothing to the sense of superiority assumed by a house surgeon appointed a few weeks since, and aged twenty-three, towards his unqualified dressers, who cannot go up for examination for another six months. And the dresser, in his turn, looks down from his exalted post on those late companions of his who failed at the primary, and have not yet achieved the right to handle cases in the wards.

Elsworth was shown a number of beds, of the occupants of which he was required to write complete family histories, going into the minutest details, as practice in note-taking. He was called on to carry out, with the assistance of the nurses, daily, all the directions as to the dressings and bandaging required by the nature of the case; and was encouraged to avail himself, while doing so, of any and every means that would assist him in the acquisition of his art, so far as it was consistent with the regular treatment of the patient, and was not calculated to alarm him or make him think it was not actually connected with his cure. Our house surgeon was 63 going in for ophthalmology, and he never missed an opportunity of dropping belladonna into every patient’s eyes, and taking stock of his retina with the ophthalmoscope. Whether you had cracked your skull or broken your leg, fractured a rib or sprained your ankle, your eyes must be examined minutely, on the chance of something pretty turning up to show the professor of ophthalmology. Dr. Wilson was such an enthusiast on eyes that one day, happening to pass through one of the out-patient wards, he caught sight of a working man in whose visual organs he instantly detected something of interest. Immediately he had him under a lamp, and set to work making sketches of the morbid appearances in the retina, explaining to the other students the beautiful things to be seen therein. Now the patient had not come about his eyes, but being troubled with indigestion, wanted a bottle of medicine to cure it; and he was naturally surprised that for three mortal hours eighteen young gentlemen should be examining his eyes, which wanted no treatment but the sight of a little more weekly pay; and marvelled that no questions should be asked him about the ailment which caused him discomfort. He was still more amazed when, as evening drew on, one after another went away, and nobody prescribed anything for him at all! However, one of the resident staff saw him before the place was closed, and he had a bottle of “house mixture,” and went away more satisfied; but still wondering at the singular ways of doctors.

Let us go round the wards with Dr. Wilson and our hero, his new assistant.

Here is a middle-aged woman, evidently having but a short time to live, yet this afternoon Dr. Wilson says his chief proposes to perform upon her a capital operation. He has not the least hope it can save her life, but the chance of performing such an operation arises but seldom; and it is but just and kind to the house surgeon, who wants all the practical work he can get, to let him assist. So the woman and her friends 64 are duly pressed to consent that this—“the only means of saving her life”—shall forthwith be done. To this end all the nurses are instructed to urge her. At last she submits. She will be carried to the operating theatre, and this chance of instruction will fall to Dr. Wilson’s hands; for, as soon as the chloroform has effected its work, he will take the place of the chief, and “do his first strangulated hernia.” Dr. Wilson is jubilant—slightly nervous, for it is very grave work. It is utterly unjustifiable work, Elsworth thinks, but dare hardly express his thoughts except by a timid question or two. He knows he must steel himself to plenty of such matters, that his turn will come and that he would not like to leave St. Bernard’s without doing just as much himself. But his heart, for all that, misgives him.

“Might he warn the patient of her imminent danger?”

“On no account! It might cause her to revoke her consent; might, at any rate, depress her, and hasten the catastrophe.”

In the next bed is an elderly woman with a contused side. That is a slight matter. It was not for that she was taken in, but in her examination in the out-patients’ department it was discovered that she had a peculiarly interesting bony growth on her leg that would make a very neat and pretty operation. So a bed was found for her, and daily and increasing pressure put upon her to have this queer growth removed. It was no inconvenience or annoyance to her at all. She was past middle life, and she had been told by her family doctor there was not the slightest occasion for operative interference; but everybody at St. Bernard’s wanted just such a case to try a new method of treatment recently invented in Vienna, and the chief surgeon was eager to do the operation, and all concerned were charged, as they loved him, not to let it slip. That also was to come off this afternoon.

The next bed is occupied by a girl, the subject of a rare and very interesting skin affection. No active treatment has yet 65 been suggested, as it is much too pretty to spoil by any attempt at cure just yet. Several surgeons are expected from other hospitals to see it, so she has an ounce of peppermint water three times a day and full diet, and the cure is postponed till a sufficient number of interested people have seen it. Drawings must be made; the artist to the hospital could not attend for a week to come; then there were photographs to be taken, and it would never do to spoil anything so effective by commencing a cure. So “repeat the mixture,” till science has done with the first part of the case, and therapeutics can step in.

“That woman, you will perceive,” said the surgeon, “has a squint. She came in with a fracture of the arm, but with a little more pressure she will let us operate on the ocular deformity. I like doing squints. By the way, there is a woman dying in the next ward who has a perfectly charming optic neuritis. You ought to see that. Don’t examine it very often, as it hurts her dreadfully, and she can’t live much longer; but the case is perfectly typical. I am going to sketch it this evening. One don’t like to hurt folks if it can be avoided, but this is much too good to miss. She grumbles a bit at being disturbed, and I fear suspects all this is no part of her treatment; but I order her a glass of wine before I begin, and she likes that.”

They next enter one of the male wards, and Dr. Wilson draws Elsworth’s attention to a man in articulo mortis. “He can scarcely live till the next morning,” says he; “but if you are interested in phthisis, take your stethoscope and have a quarter of an hour overhauling his posterior thorax. There are some sounds to be heard that with careful auscultation are quite typical, and one very rarely gets them so distinct. Don’t be too long at him, as turning him over on his face exhausts him so much, and we have examined him a good deal lately, poor devil!” Elsworth was obliged to assume a look of eager interest in the proposed investigation, for the sake of pleasing 66 his instructor, but he resolved that the auscultation, as far as he was concerned, should at least not distress the poor sufferer. How any human being could find it in his heart to disturb the last moments of his patient with investigations of “cavernous breathing,” “râles,” and “pectoriloquy” puzzled our hero;—but then, this was his first day in his new office; he had much to learn yet.

“Come into this room, Elsworth. See here is a case on which I am trying a rather singular experiment. I have kept this man for the past seventy hours sitting up to his waist in a bath of cold water, as you see. He has all his meals in this position, and sleeps and reads without removal from his tub.”

“Does he like it?”

“Well, I can’t say he does; but the experiment is a very interesting one, and I am getting up a good paper on it. I shall not keep him in much longer, for I have nearly completed my investigations. This is the best case on which I have tried the treatment. I have lost three others, but I think this one will do well.”

And thus the days went by. To a man who loved his work as our hero loved it, there was hourly something fresh to interest and excite speculation. But the atmosphere of the place was beginning to tell upon him. The utterly reckless, matter-of-course way in which experiments were tried upon the occupants of the beds; tried by everybody concerned, from the chief to the dresser; tried by the performance of operations of terrible gravity on those who, at longest, had but a few weeks to live; down to the snipping off little mites of skin from the arms of one person to “graft” on the wounds of another, had tended to blunt Elsworth’s fine sense of humanity and lower his ideal. Not that anybody about the place ever suggested that all this was wrong; nobody, except now and then a patient or his friends, expressed any objection to a course so fraught with information and dexterity of hand. It all seemed the most natural thing possible, and the hospital 67 system as perfect as could be imagined. Outside “some sentimentalists, weak-brained lords and hysterical women,” as they were termed by the men of science, were making a noise over these very things—were threatening to withdraw their subscriptions, indeed; but nothing ever came of their agitation, and the greater public was too well convinced of the perfection of the system to interfere with it.

“How is a medical man to learn his business if he does not pick it up at the hospital?” asked a noble lord of a friend the other day. The reply was a sensible one. “I don’t know, but I fancy these confounded Socialist fellows will put a stop to all this sort of thing before the world is much older.”

Quite so. The mob did not like Marie Antoinette’s carriages to run over them in the streets of Paris just because they were only canaille. Our Radical friends have not found out just yet how we run over them scientifically. When they do, be sure they will find their remedy.



Our mistress is a little given to philosophy: what disputations shall we have here by-and-by!—Gil Blas.

They add up nature to a nought of God
And cross the quotient.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Voilà de l’erudition.—Les Femmes Savantes.

Dr. Day had introduced Elsworth to a rather singular society, founded by himself and daughter, in the West End of town, and much frequented by medical, literary, musical, and artistic young folk of “advanced” views. One of its members, Arthur Devaux, was a rising physician at the hospital, and his sister Linda soon became impressed with the attentions of young Elsworth, and they met frequently and studied many things together. Both were addicted to philological research; Linda worked at Anglo-Saxon in the library of the British Museum, and, as Elsworth had pronounced tastes in that direction, they were much thrown together. Her father was an artist of French extraction, and, sharing his daughter’s tastes for comparative languages and dialects, they found the young doctor a welcome addition to their family circle. Basque, and Caló, the dialect of the gipsies of Spain, were just now occupying some of their attention, and the whole history and customs of the latter interesting people had taken hold of 69 young Elsworth to the extent of making him desirous to visit them as soon as his hospital work would permit. Such studies had by no means interfered with his professional duties, but had assisted them by relaxing the mind when wearied with the strain of long-continued effort in one direction. Philology was one of his modes of unbending the bow, and a latent Bohemianism gave him a strange sympathy with a gipsy’s life. Have not a large proportion of the solemn and respectable folk dwellers in our great cities a taint of this same disorder? Would not that calm, awe-inspiring judge upon the bench, when the fit is on him, like to pitch off his wig and crimson robe, and betake him to a Bedouin’s life, if it were possible? Is it too much to imagine there may possibly be a bishop or two who now and again have to smother a temptation, just the least spice of a desire, say, to doff apron and shovel hat, and have a season or two in a quiet, well-ordered sort of way, where Mrs. Grundy could not find them? Certes, we have known more than a dozen doctors who have neat broughams, and whose manner of entering them is dignified and becoming; who wear well-cut clothes, spotless linen, and the shiniest of hats; who speak in measured tones, and look the very impersonations of propriety; who yet are so heartily sick of your tongues and pulses, your livers and your hearts, your pills and potions, and your horrible stair-climbing, that were it not for the overpowering sense of duty to Mrs. Leech and the little Leeches, they would long ere now have been off out of walled cities, and away from the galling proprieties of civilisation, and betaken themselves to the forest, the moor, and the mountain.

Our Society met every Sunday evening for social intercourse and amusement; combined with the propagation of their advanced ideas. They were all free men and women, that is to say, they had got rid of old-world superstitions, and had dethroned God, setting up Science and the Nineteenth Century in His place. They were a perfectly proper and well-conducted 70 set of people, who, though very revolutionary over tea and biscuits, defending Nihilism, dynamite mission work, and the loosening of mental fetters and actual bricks and mortar generally, would not have rashly upset even a box of crackers, or exploded a match in an unguarded manner. They were well dressed, spoke in subdued society tones, and conducted themselves exactly as other people, only they persisted in letting everybody know how extremely they disapproved of God.

The young ladies were for the most part accompanied by their highly respectable mammas or papas, who did not seem in the least alarmed at their daughters’ sympathy with the violent doings of “men struggling for freedom;” or at the indifference to continued existence on this ill-conducted planet manifested by the young creatures in bewitching evening toilettes who were under their tutelage. The mammas and papas had heard it all before, and knew just what it meant; it made them rather proud, perhaps, when they saw a blushing young curate confronted for the first time with such advanced sentiments, but even the curate got over his alarm when he found how very harmless it all was, and how when the girls married they became just as reactionary as such people usually are when they realize that they have any responsibilities. For the most part the mammas seemed to act on the suggestion of one of the lights of their school of thought, who maintained that it was “the duty of parents to obey their children in all things;” reversing the Mosaic command, as being suitable for the governance of a nomadic tribe of Eastern people who had little or no science, but not a fit code of behaviour for the highly educated and well-convoluted brains of nineteenth-century children. Their mammas looked up to their offspring with a touching pride and awe—they had, from their superior height, been able to overlook and despise the lower ground on which their parents stood. The parents, indeed, still felt in their nerves—however much they might affect to disregard—the 71 potent influence of the old creeds—they could not relegate to the limbo of discarded stage properties all the articles of the Christian faith in which they had been nurtured, but this their sons and daughters could and did; and they admired their superior attainments and often wished they had at their tongues’ ends those caustic and supercilious answers to the objections of the orthodox which came so readily from the lips of their children. It was they who would set the world right on all those points; it was they who would be able to forego prayer without that constantly recurring sense of desolation and orphanhood. It was they who would let the world see how Christ was to be estimated at perhaps a lower standard than Confucius, and certainly as the inferior of Buddha. It was they who would one day explode the Sermon on the Mount, and substitute for it the New Morality, summed up in the motto, “Every one for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.” It had not been quite decided what word to substitute for devil, but it would be something like “reversion to original type,” “degradation of species,” “retrogression,” or some such scientific term. Meanwhile the word devil was used not as implying any theological assent to the personality of unpleasantness, but as a mere phrase like “Good-bye,” which originally, of course, was “God be with ye,” now cut short, or topped and tailed, as cooks prepare radishes. The inner schools of this society were at the time we write of engaged in preparing a list of phrases which advanced people should not be permitted to use,—an index expurgatorius, in which were already placed “Good-bye!” “Adieu!” “Good gracious!” “Bless me!” “Mercy on us!” “Faith!” “Oh law!” (though some were for retaining this), “Heaven send us,” “Providential escape!” and all ejaculations and expressions having their rise in “fables and lying deceits.”

The use of the “big, big D.” and similar exclamations, was inhibited for gentlemen, not merely on account of vulgarity, but because such words implied some latent belief in superstitious 72 dogmas, as Dr. Newman argues that the terrible language used by the Tuscans and Neapolitans is an evidence of the complete orthodoxy of their faith,—just as “By our Ladye,” subjected to an abbreviating process, is in the modern vernacular of the vulgar, a relic of Mariolatry, of which even our enfranchised and much voting mechanics have not yet divested themselves.



Opinions, like showers, are generated in high places, but they invariably descend into low ones.—Lacon.

Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best,
Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest.—Pope.
You share not with us, and exceed us so,
Perhaps, by what you’re mulcted in, your hearts
Being starved to make your heads.
Elizabeth B. Browning.

It was Elsworth’s third year at the hospital. He had taken several gold medals and scholarships; and so, to outward appearance, had done well. But he was not as he was when he entered. He was sowing what he called his “wild oats,” forgetting the reaping of the crop that one day would have to be considered. He had not abandoned his faith, but it had ceased to influence his life. The thing he came for he had not won. He defended Christianity still when he heard it attacked; but this was because he thought it honourable to take the side of the weakest in every argument, and partly because the set who were so severe upon it were a perky, superficial, insincere lot of folk, that, above all things, wanted taking down. Christianity might be false, he argued, but it could not be such a tissue of absurdities as these people maintained.

One summer’s night, about this time, the society was assembled to hear an address by a well known atheist propagandist, on marriage. Mr. Edgar Adams he was called. He was a singular-looking man; he was tall, lean, and hungry-looking, with long, dank, black hair, and a complexion such as 74 poor people get who work in lead factories, and let it impregnate their systems. His dress was untidy, not to say greasy; his vast display of shirt front looked as if it had done duty in gas-light more than once before. Altogether, he was an unwholesome looking object, and, as a seafaring youth present declared, “it seemed as if a good holystoning down was what he wanted.” It did not surprise you the least when he advocated the destruction of Czars and despots generally, and talked with enthusiasm of the great French Revolution, with his starting eye-balls, and his thin, claw-like hands nervously twitching, expressing his eagerness to assist in the work of another Robespierre. He declared he would “abolish all property, especially that in a wife. The origin of the marriage superstition was pagan and suicidal, for marriage is the suicide of love. When the law no longer supplies husband or wife with a cage, each will take care of holding what has been won. Chastity and modesty are merely conventional ideas, having their origin in utility.” He declared that till Christianity was finally abolished, the real progress of the world could not be continued. “What is called the virtue of humility was never known—not even the word for it—by the Greeks and Romans; that is the great barrier in the path of modern man. Humility was invented by priests to hold man in slavery.” He ended by reciting a poem of Shelley’s denouncing tyrants and despots, and was much applauded.

The rooms of the society are well-filled to-night, and all the chief attractions in force. The people who could lead conversation, and who had strong opinions, and were able to put them cleverly, had assembled. The habitués had all some distinguishing trait, some particular socialistic or anti-religious fad; no two exactly agreed on anything, except that it was of the first importance to smash up existing beliefs. Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism, Buddhism, were all held to be much better than Christianity as systems of religious thought, but that was because they were all impossible for our age; the one 75 thing that was possible, that had established itself by renovating society and redeeming the world, must be crushed and cast out, because it was not the outcome of the age of steam and the electric light. There was scarcely anybody in the room who did not owe his or her character and virtuous environment entirely to a Christian training, which had made them decent members of society, and which they were anxious to requite by proving its incapacity to be any longer a suitable moral system for our age. A curious and a priggish set of imperfectly educated and vain people; mostly young, impracticable, and unversed in the wants and remedies of a work-a-day world. It is worth while to be introduced to these typical folk, who are bent on substituting some of their nostrums to take the place of the old religion when it dies of age.

There was a tall, dark-eyed girl on the lounge in the corner—Miss Mardall. She was a designer of high art tapestry; was lean, sallow, handsome in the æsthetic sense, not more than twenty-five, and a disciple of Schopenhauer and Hartmann. She grouped her wild flowers to make the most delightfully artistic patterns for her fabrics; but in their forms, their colours, their odours, she recognised nothing but the grossest and most material adaptation to the necessities of their existence and diffusion. Their colours meant nothing but distinguishing characteristics to aid in their fertilisation; their odours served to attract insects to brush so much pollen from their stamens and their pistils; their exquisite forms and intricacies of structure meant so many difficult passages the bees would have to knock against, and so disseminate so much fructifying material. And thus all the floral gems of the fields and woods were, in this nineteenth-century girl’s eyes, so many machines for making so much vegetable material for the furtherance of the animal world; and if they had any of the qualities one chose to term beauty, it was simply the beauty of adaptation of means to end. She was much too clever to be a poet, and was utilitarian and material to the last degree. Adelaide 76 Rowland, her friend, sitting next to her, under the picture of the storming of the Bastille, went even further. Her pessimism was so pronounced that she thought it a mistake to continue to exist. She had no desire that the human or any other race should continue to exist; did not in the least see anything in the world worth working for, except to get food, lodging, and warmth; and declared that at the very first great reverse in her life she would decline to exist any more. As she immediately, however, demanded some tea, and took a wedge of very substantial cake, it was evident the great reverse had not as yet overtaken her. She was but nineteen, and was as proud of her pessimism (in an elegant robe just from Paris) as she recently was of her last new doll, with practicable eyes, and power to say “mamma.” Her talk of “declining to exist” was only alarming to one at the first introduction to her; “when you came to know her well, and love her,” you knew how to discount this sort of talk, and you simply asked her to have a little more cake and another cup of tea. That gentleman on her left in a brown velvet coat, with long hair, is a poet. He admires Nihilism, and thinks all authority wants dynamiting. Sounds dreadful to hear him, but he is really extremely harmless. His father is high in the General Post Office, and this young man is reading for the Bar. He will be all right when he is called; at present he is a supporter of Mr. Parnell. By-and-bye he will come into a row of little weekly properties in the suburb of Stratford-by-Bow, and he will collect the rents and neglect the sanitary arrangements with most landlord-like regularity. His sister is that pretty little fair girl in the corner by the grand piano. She writes stories about despotism and the dawn of freedom’s day. She looks kind, but is a terror to her younger sisters and her sick brother, who often wish that freedom’s day was really just going to begin, and who know a great deal more about the practical working of despotism in an eight-roomed villa than she does, despite the strongly flavoured literature she devours.

77 That tall, grave, reverend-looking party who has just entered is the socialist leader, James D’Arcy. Humanity in the abstract is all he lives and works for. No concrete embodiment of the mammal, genus Homo, was ever the better in the smallest degree for knowing him, many specimens were very much the worse; but that is neither here nor there. He never wrote “humanity” with a little h, and always spelled “man” with a big M. What more could be expected of him? His was the work of a reformer, a leader of progress; petty details were for petty men. James D’Arcy had to live for the age, and live well too. It was such an unworthy, priest-ridden age withal, and “so dressed up in the tattered shreds of creeds outworn” (as he loved to express it at a Sunday morning Progress Club Lecture to “boot finishers” down Hoxton way), that the age ought to consider itself honoured by giving its best to support him in his journey through it right comfortably, or it would not even be worthy to be spelled by him with a capital A. And, as the age did want to be so distinguished from still more besotted and priest-ridden times, it rose to the occasion, and Mr. D’Arcy lived in clover. He entered the room accompanied by a little, unwholesome, saturnine, beetle-browed friend, Professor Melton. Tho professor looked as if he agreed with Isabella the Catholic, who set a penalty on bathing after the conquest of the Moors in Spain. Mr. Melton was lecturer on physiology at the Institute of Natural Science, and his laboratory was close by. It was seldom he permitted himself much relaxation, but felt it incumbent on him to aid in every scheme for liberating the minds of young people from reverence for the sacredness of days or devotion to religious exercises. So he had consented to promote the interests of this little society by his occasional presence. He was soon the centre of a group of talkers, and his talk was on the extinction of pauperism.

“In a renovated society,” he said, “it will be recognised that there is no greater sin than almsgiving. By relieving distressed 78 persons, by giving bread to the hungry, you defeat Nature, thwart her efforts to limit the too great increase of the race, and allow the recipient to make the fatal error that he can live without work.”

“Would you deny assistance to the aged and the sick?” asked a lady.

“I would abolish the Poor Laws, which establish the right of an asylum to old and infirm people, who actually often live for twenty years in the union at an expense to the country of say £250.”

“Would you refuse to help them altogether?”

“I would. By that means people would be made more provident, and would invest their savings when young to keep them when old.”

“Then you would leave them to starve?”

“Not at all. I would simply stimulate them to work; if they were unfit to work, they must die. I would not prevent anybody giving them food and shelter, though I would teach people that by so doing they were hindering the great law of Nature—the survival of the fittest.”

“What about hospitals for consumptives, asylums for idiots and other shelters for hopeless cases?”

“Oh! while there was a reasonable chance of restoring a consumptive person to health, and enabling him to work, I would do what I could for him. If his case became quite hopeless, I would have him mercifully despatched, that he might not burden the State. As for idiots, the subjects of incurable mental disease, cripples that could do nothing useful, and all other maimed and useless people, I would get rid of them in the same way—of course under the most careful restrictions against abuse.”

“Don’t you think the State should refuse permission to marry to people who cannot produce a certificate of perfect health from a physician employed by the Government, with a view of checking the multiplication of consumptive and ill-developed folk?”

79 “Certainly; that is in my scheme for an ideal republic.”

“I think I know,” said Elsworth, “many beautiful souls whose work in the world is of the highest value to our day and generation, who would not have been here had any such regulation been in force.”

“That may be,” replied the advanced one; “but there would be no room for their energies in my ideal world. Where all were strong and healthful, all mentally well developed, there would be no weakness, disease, or sorrow to assist.”

“And the highest perfection of man would be extinct in a selfish, unfeeling strength;” said Elsworth, turning to a pretty little girl at a table, who was bending over a dish of wild flowers. “Are you botanising, Miss Gordon?”

“No; I was listening to your conversation, and thinking how unlovely a place all these new ideas will make the world when they come to predominate. Beauty will be eliminated. Don’t you think flowers were meant to delight us as well as the insects?”

“Of course; and I agree with Emerson that ‘flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.’”

“This is such a dreadfully utilitarian age that one has almost to apologise for holding such sentiments,” said she.

“Not at all, if we hold with Ruskin that the most perfectly useful is always the most perfectly beautiful thing—there is direct relation between the two. It is ever these half-statements which are the greatest lies. Truth is full-orbed; it is the broken arcs that are half in shadow.”

He is not very wise who has never erred; and, if the truth must be told, our hero was, to say the least, wasting his time in a society composed of vain and unreal people, who could teach him nothing but that we are “only cunning casts in clay.”

As Arthur Devaux and Elsworth walked home with Linda, they discussed the reasonableness of the old and new beliefs about God. Both the doctor and his clever sister were declared atheists, and, 80 as Bacon says, proved the unsatisfying nature of their negation of God by trying to make converts to their theory. The constant association with these friends, and others of the same opinions, had, little by little, sapped our hero’s faith.

“How do you like the tone of our meetings, Mr. Elsworth?” asked Linda.

“I was thinking,” said he,“how much they resemble the society of which Lady Wortley Montague once spoke, established for taking the word ‘not’ out of the commandments and putting it into the Creed. She rather approved of the idea, as she thought so many people loved to be disobedient, it might bring about a reformation in morals.”

“Oh, but we are not immoral,” said her brother; “it is a higher morality, a higher basis we wish to introduce. We want first to be rid of the idea of God; the mechanic Thor with the hammer and workman’s tools. The design argument is played out, don’t you think?”

“It is hard to have to believe, and still harder to maintain before one’s unlearned friends, that this complicated machinery, so compact, so admirably adapted to its purpose, had no designer,” said Elsworth, with a sigh he could not repress.

“Oh, but it had!” said the young physician. “You must claim all for development that the theist claims for God the mechanic; you must claim that every articulation, every tendon and muscle assumed its form after long ages of necessity for its appearance had gradually evolved it in its present perfection.”

“In a measure I grant this. I know how faculties come to us by reaching after them—know that the craftsman’s deftness is the result of long practice and education of sense and muscle; but I cannot find in the highest craftsman’s hand a single extra nerve or tendon, or a better articulation, than I find in the clumsiest day-labourer’s fist which never knew the use of a more delicate instrument than a spade.”

“Of course not,” said Devaux; “it is not the individual, it is the type which is developed into a higher 81 grade by slow stages, and so gradually that it is usually impossible to mark the precise advent of a distinct advance. Still, as Haeckel points out in the case of the axolotl in the Jardin des Plantes, some few advanced beyond the grade of development hitherto known in them; they lost their gills, changed the shape of their bodies, and, from aquatic animals, became lung-breathers and terrestrial animals. What do you say to that?”

“I would like to know more precise particulars than Haeckel gives of the anatomical characteristics of the axolotl in its natural condition in Mexico; whether it may or may not be the fact that all axolotls, after having propagated themselves in their larval state, undergo the metamorphosis into salamander like animals (Amblystoma).”[1]

“But surely you cannot be blind to the enormous number of facts adduced by entomologists and botanists to show how the organs of insects and plants have a direct correlation to each other; how each organ and the whole form of the insect is the outcome of its effort to obtain food from particular species of plants, and the form of the plant the outcome of its resistance to giving food supply without payment in the shape of pollen dissemination. The ingenuity of the insect in its endeavour to get nectar easily, is met by the cleverness, so to speak, of the plant in providing the food only in such situations where it cannot be reached without efficient pollen dusting. Where is the room for your heavenly Mechanic here?”

“I fail to see that you in the least disturb my theism. ‘These are only parts of His ways.’ I expect that a Creator of all things would operate by means, by just such natural laws and the power of such environment as you have instanced, to modify and develop organs. All these things serve but to make me admire the power of His inflexible laws, and the infinite wisdom which set them going. I see nothing in these 82 things to make disbelieve in an almighty Creator. The creating influence is only set a little farther back, not excluded. That these wonderful adaptations exist potentially in the original protoplasm of the creature, is to me quite as much a proof of an all-wise Creator as if I believed in a separate interference for the production of each organ, or adaptation as its necessity arose. It is the potentiality in the cell and the atom that transcends all men’s materialist explanations, that is so wonderful to me. This is where you see Force and Nature, and the Christian sees God, as Browning says:—

“‘We find great things are made of little things,
And little things go lessening, till at last
Comes God behind them.
The name comes close behind a stomach cyst,
The simplest of creations.’”

“Yes,” said Linda, who had not taken part in the argument till now, “you set up your idea of God as a great First Cause to shield yourself from awkward questions and the confession of your ignorance.”

“Questions that you, at least, cannot answer, and ignorance that none of our materialist philosophers can enlighten,” replied Elsworth, with a little warmth.

“Precisely; only we are honest enough to say we don’t know and cannot explain; while you shelter yourself behind a mere idea, which is a barrier to investigation and an obstacle to all freedom of research.”

“I protest. Nothing of the sort. Darwin was a theist; Newton was a theist. Surely neither of these men found their conception of God an obstacle to their freedom of research?”

“I don’t mean that,” rejoined the physician. “What I mean is, that to the great mass of mankind the habit of attributing to a Creator, of whom they know nothing, the formation of things they cannot understand, prevents their desire to enlarge the boundaries of their knowledge. Dog fanciers know 83 perfectly well that the English bull-dog is the creation of the breeders; they understand just how the bull dog has acquired his peculiar characteristics. They attribute animals in general, perhaps, to God; they take the credit of the bull-dog to themselves. The gardener knows just how to develop the particular dahlia he wants; he knows all the tricks and interferences of art required to produce the flower of a certain form and colour. He attributes the creation of plants in general to God; the dahlia you ask for, and which is in his particular line, he places to his own account. As men enlarge the bounds of their knowledge, there will become less and less room for God. I know a man who has a brown mark on his arm, which he calls a mushroom; he is particularly fond of ketchup; he attributes this taste to the fact that he is marked with a mushroom. He declares that during the mushroom season this brown mark (not a bit like a mushroom, by the way) comes to greater perfection; as the season passes it diminishes, till at last there is, he declares, very little to be seen.

“Now, at present, maternal impressions and birth marks are very little understood by scientific men; the whole question is still under investigation. By-and-bye the whole mystery will be solved, and we shall have an answer to the difficulty. Meanwhile the common folk will persist in their fanciful theories, while the more intelligent will suspend their judgment till we can influence it by science. This is my attitude about creation, as you call it. Yours is the attitude of Mrs. Gamp towards the strawberry marks. She persists in explaining, Voilà tout!

“In this instance Mrs. Gamp has a good deal of reason on her side, and it is not unlikely that her explanation may have its foundation in fact. The uneducated mind has often made discoveries by observing and comparing this sort of facts which scientific men have after much scoffing been compelled to admit are correct statements of natural phenomena.

“For instance, in the case of the stigmata of St. Francis of 84 Assisi, all the scientific men for many years put the whole business down to imposture, if they took the trouble to consider it seriously at all. Now they are compelled to recognise that it is a fact that in highly nervous temperaments the concentration of the mind for a length of time on one engrossing idea, such as the wounds of Christ in the hands and feet, will produce just such a condition of the parts in question on the body of the absorbed individual, as is recorded of St. Francis. The influence of the mind upon the body is even yet only very partially understood. Mrs. Gamp, in the case you allude to, has my sympathy. Pray remember that our great Paracelsus, the father of our modern scientific medicine, derived much of his valuable information on treatment from the unlettered peasantry of the countries in which he travelled, and of whom he was not too proud to learn.”

“That is true, and I saw the other day that a layman of Vienna has discovered a method of treatment for the cure of that puzzling and intractable disease, writer’s cramp, which has been recognised by the physicians of Vienna as affording the only really good results they know of. But you are wandering rather wide of our argument. We started from the evidences of design as shown in the human hand, and went on to consider the question of a great First Cause. Paley’s argument from the watch might have been all very well for his time, but is of little force now, because you see where it lands you; it makes your designer—your watchmaker—responsible for all the imperfections as well as the excellencies. I see a watch lying by the road-side, and at once say it must have had a maker. Very well; it is a bad time-keeper—gains one day, loses the next, and is a generally shabby bit of workmanship. So much the worse for the watchmaker. Now, take the human eye. Helmholtz said, as an optical instrument it was so defective, that had such a piece of workmanship been sent to him by any optician, he should have forthwith forfeited his custom. If you persist in using the design argument after 85 Paley, you make your Omnipotent Designer responsible for all the evil, the disease, the misery that is in the world. Here is the hand with all its wonders. ‘Behold the all-wise, all-powerful Creator,’ say you. Good. But there are scarlet fever, lunacy, cancer. How about your all-wise, all-powerful Creator now?

“Oh, if you would but read your Browning! Hear what he says:—

“‘I can believe this dread machinery
Of sin and sorrow, would confound me else,
Devised,—all pain, at most expenditure
Of pain by Who devised pain,—to evolve,
By new machinery in counterpart,
The moral qualities of man—how else?—
To make him love in turn and be beloved,
Creative and self-sacrificing too,
And thus eventually God-like,
  *       *       *       *       *
Enable man to wring, from out all pain,
All pleasure, for a common heritage,
To all eternity.’[2]

“I am surprised you think the existence of evil militates against the existence of a perfect Creator. A ribald controversialist was once asked how he would have improved the world had he had the making of it. He replied; ‘For one thing I would have made health catching instead of disease. Yours is a similar ad captandum style of argument. You must know as well as I do that our fevers are the result of dirt and neglect of the most elementary sanitary precautions; it is not nature that afflicts us so much as our artificial living and our vicious habits. As for lunacy, it is largely the product of vice, drink, and the race for wealth. With regard to pain, it is frequently conservative. As Theodore Parker points out, if 86 we could put our fingers into the fire without pain, they would soon be destroyed; if dust did not make our eyes smart, their utility would soon be destroyed by rough usage; if we could eat improper food without unpleasant consequences, our digestive functions would soon be unfit for their work, and so forth.”

Linda laughed at the idea of health being catching, and thought the advocate of design was cornered.

“For my part,” said Elsworth, “I think the man was a great fool. Love is catching, as Coventry Patmore says, ‘love that grows from one to all, and love is better than health, isn’t it?’”

“I don’t see,” said the doctor, “that you have in the least affected my argument that evil could never have been permitted by an all-wise, omnipotent, and good Creator. Its existence proves the Creator not to have been all these, at any rate.”

“A great deal of man’s ill may be removed,” said Elsworth; “indeed, amelioration is the dominant note of nature. If you will forgive me quoting my favourite poet Browning again—

“‘Dragons were, and serpents are, and blindworms will be,
Ne’er emerged
And new created python for man’s plague
Since earth was purged,’

you will see what I mean. There is a general onward movement; the prospect brightens for mankind. But there will always be evil, because without it there can be no good. Where would be patience without trials; where sympathy and charity without suffering? Do you think the virtues and nobility of Gordon, of Sakya Muni, of St. Francis, would have been evolved had there been no evil and suffering in the world?”

“In a perfect world there would have been no occasion for them,” said Linda.

87 “I cannot conceive,” Elsworth replied,“ of a perfect world without love for one’s neighbour, sacrifice of self, devotion to high and noble efforts for the good of others. Fancy the hideous selfishness of a world of wealthy, luxurious aristocrats, such as helped to precipitate the French Revolution; the gratification of their own pleasures and passions the sole object of their existence! Contrast this state of things in your ideal perfect world—where every one would have all he wanted, and would have no occasion to think of others,—no opportunity to exercise charity, pity, long-suffering, or altruism in any form—with the burning love of a St. Paul, who was willing himself to be accursed if he could thereby save others; with Christian heroes who have sold themselves into slavery; have entered lazar-houses from which they could never return; have cheerfully embraced martyrdom, and undertaken every form of danger and suffering, to help their brother men. Or to come to every-day affairs, contrast the selfishness of the rich, and those who are elevated above the grosser cares and difficulties of life, with the charity and devotedness practised by the poor of our great cities towards each other; and say if the existence of pain, sorrow, and suffering is not actually necessary for the evolution of the highest man? And so ‘upon men’s own account must evil stay.’”

“But here we are at your diggings, Elsworth. You will get rid of these cobwebs of the brain before you have done with St. Bernard’s,” laughed Devaux.

And so the friends went home to bed, to dream of a regenerated world, fit for an age of steam, telephones, and physiological research not contemplated by the Apostles, and therefore requiring a new religion of its own.



“What! do they study?”
“No, father, but they feel!”
“Feel! I comprehend thee not!”
Sir. E. B. Lytton.

Such men, in other men’s calamities, are, as it were, in season, and are ever on the loading part; not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus’ sores, but like flies that are still buzzing upon anything that is raw.—Bacon.

As a resident dresser, it often devolved upon our hero to reason with troublesome patients who offered opposition to the methods of treatment proposed to be adopted in their particular case.

One day an ambulance deposited at the door of the hospital, an Irishman, who had just fallen from a high scaffold, and had been carried thither by the police.

Dr. Wilson had carefully examined the poor man, and had determined to amputate one of his legs. Dr. Wilson had what has been aptly termed the “furor operativus” the operative madness. He had a burning desire to do everything that anybody had ever been known to do on the human subject in the way of surgery. He did not want his period of office to expire till he had had an opportunity of adding to his list of cases the most difficult and dangerous operations set down in books. Now the Hibernian subject just brought in would do very well for a trial of a new method of amputating the leg at the thigh; and as the man objected to any such interference with the 89 integrity of his ambulatory apparatus, the strongest pressure was brought to bear upon his obstinacy.

“Send for Father O’Grady, he’ll manage it. I won’t lose my chance if I can help it!” And the newly appointed house-surgeon looked defiantly round on his little band of dressers, who shared his anxiety that so good an operation should not slip through his fingers without a final effort. Pat was determined he would not have his leg off. “What would he be good for with a wooden leg? How would the wife and childher go on if he were maimed like that? Let me be out of this! By the mercy o’ God and His blessed Mother I’ll get well again and kape me leg. Just boind it up, mates, and let me go. God bless ye all, I know ye mane it for me good. Don’t be thinkin’ me a coward: it isn’t that at all. Ye might cut me in little paices, if it wasn’t for the missis and the bits of childher.” And poor Pat began to cry bitterly, not for his pain, which was bad enough, but at the recollection of his dear ones at home, for whom he could do no more work for many a week, perhaps might never climb a ladder again.

The dressers were rough but warm-hearted, and some had difficulty in restraining tears that were undresser-like and derogatory to their authority.

The house surgeon had long ago got over that nonsense. He was there in the interests of science. Sympathy was for women and clergymen. What had he to do with a patient’s calling and his home concerns? He walked up and down the receiving room with his hands in his pockets, musing thus: “Conservative surgery is all very well, but it isn’t brilliant. When a fellow has taken off a dozen or two lower extremities, he can afford to be conservative; but if I let this go, I may complete my term of office without another chance of doing anything half so good. That conceited ass Gayworth, is crowing over me already. He did a better hernia than I ever had the chance to do; but I shall beat him if I get this. Perhaps I could save the poor devil’s leg—at any rate, Laxton thinks 90 so; but, hang it, what’s a fellow to do? I go off next week, and I shall never have anything like this again! Here comes the priest; he will bring him to reason.”

Cheery, bustling, kindly Father O’Grady runs up the hospital steps, and is met in the entrance hall by our ardent young operator. “Sorry to bother you, father, but one of your people here who has a compound fracture of the thigh refuses to undergo the necessary operation to save his life.”

“Won’t have his leg off, I suppose?” said the priest.

“Just so.”

“Is it really necessary, doctor dear?”

“Decidedly, and I wouldn’t answer for his living the week out if it isn’t done at once.”

And the surgeon looked as dogmatic and authoritative as though he were the President of the College of Surgeons himself. The good priest looked at this youth, only just turned twenty-two, and wondered, if he were older and wiser, with the knowledge that comes not from books and lectures, but from experience and meditation, the true correctives for so many medical theories—wondered if he would be as positive as he was now.

“You are sure you couldn’t save his leg anyhow?”

“Quite sure.”

It was not for the good clergyman to argue the case, so he went to the couch on which lay the crushed form of his suffering countryman and co-religionist, bent over him and whispered loving words in his ear, and commanded him in the name of the Church to submit to lose his limb that his life might be saved, as the doctors desired.

Without another word of resistance the man obeyed, and gave the surgeon permission to do as he would with him. The good priest blessed the man, and, with tears in his eyes, turning to the grateful young doctor, said in a whisper,—

“But I hope it is really necessary.”

“Oh, certainly, father, or I wouldn’t think of it.”

91 His reverence did not seem quite so convinced on that score as he might have been, and left the place with a sigh. A message was immediately sent to the visiting surgeon of the week, who lived close by and who had long promised the young doctor “something good before he went off.” He soon arrived, approved of Wilson’s suggestion, and congratulated him on his “opportunity,” for he was an amiable and benevolent teacher, who liked his pupils “to feel their feet” as he used to say.

Of course it was given out that the great man was to operate (that was a precaution always taken) the teachers never shirked any responsibility, their backs were broad enough for everything, and when the anæsthetic had done its work,“who was to know? That’s the beauty of chloroform,” said Wilson. “Qui facit per alium, facit per se,” added the professor,“that is an axiom in law and that must be right!” So the bell was rung that called the students to assemble in the theatre where the operations took place, and all was ready. Mr. Wilson was not quite easy in his mind; his conscience told him he was sacrificing this Irish labourer’s chance of preserving his injured limb (and that limb meant so much more to him and his than to a rich man) to his own advancement in the surgeon’s art. But that conscience was soon silenced. He had learned how to crush out all feelings of pity that interfered with his “work” long ago in the physiological room. He was tender, kind, and a lover of the lower animals when he began his course there, when he first obeyed the order of his teacher to slice off a piece of a living frog’s eye and rub lunar caustic on the injured organ. He shuddered when the professor said: “It won’t be nice for the frog, but it will be useful to you!” But he shuddered less next time, and when he had conquered his aversion to the torture of living dogs which licked his hands before he began, it was not difficult to do any work in the operating theatre on human beings which science might demand.

92 “So patients must suffer that surgeons may learn,
And women must weep when their husbands return
With their limbs left behind at St. Bernard’s.”

And he whistled merrily to think how his capital operation had come in the nick of time.

*       *       *       *       *

Poor Pat was quite resigned; he had obeyed the voice of the Church; and Faith bade him reflect that God would look after his family when he went out with a wooden leg and his calling gone in this life. It is not absolutely certain that this mediæval attitude of mind is so very inferior to that of the free and independent Protestant way of looking at things, after all. Patrick Flynn’s day-book and ledger would not make a bad figure when the auditing angel came along, notwithstanding his complete ignorance of any learning save his rosary and the non-possession of the key of his own conscience.

“I could have saved that leg if it had been my case,” said Senior Surgeon Bishop after the operation; “but it would have been hard on Wilson to make him lose his chance.”

It was this same Wilson who so horrified Elsworth by compelling him to tear off the thumb-nail of a patient for whom such an operation was necessary, without the use of any anæsthetic. “If we gave chloroform for every trifling job like that,” he said, “we should have enough to do.” He had become so case-hardened against feeling pain in others that he could only attribute to weakness and incompetence that hesitation to cause a single unnecessary pang in any sentient being which is the unvarying qualification of all the greatest and noblest men and women of whom we know anything. The blood-madness of some of the Dukes of Milan no doubt began early with unrestricted torture of animals. Not all at once do men bring themselves to hunt their prisoners with dogs fed on human flesh. Ecelin had to learn his cruelty as men learn any other business, slowly and by degrees qualifying for the title 93 of “The Cruel” which men gave him. It would doubtless be some satisfaction to flies and other insects tortured by ill-trained children, if they could know that their tormentors would soon exercise their skill on their fellows, and so avenge the innocent world below them. Elsworth had done his best to get the man to consent to his mutilation, but his conscience troubled him for many days afterwards.



How dear, how soothing to man, arises the idea of God, peopling the lonely place, effacing the scars of our mistakes and disappointments.—Emerson.

That grand sin of atheism or impiety, Melancthon calls it monstrosam melancholiam, monstrous melancholy; or venenatam melancholiam, poisoned melancholy.—Burton.

It would be very far from the truth to say that when people cast off their orthodox creeds they turn their morals out of doors. Some of the noblest and most beautiful souls maintain their pure and lovely lives in spite of their having long ceased to be Christians—that is, as far as they can tell—for sure it is that many such follow Christ and know it not, perhaps follow Him very much closer than more orthodox believers. Still, it must be confessed from an impartial view of the question, that these cases are quite exceptional, that they cannot be claimed as the fruits of atheism. For one such opponent of Christian teaching who lives an exemplary life in spite of his want of faith, a thousand quiet, self-sacrificing men and women could be found. Of course, philosophy and high culture will do something for mankind. It did something for the pagan world, it does much for the Buddhist and Confucian peoples. But the note of all these philosophers is Melancholy, and the note of all true Christian folk is Cheerfulness. “Christianity alone stands between the human intellect and madness.”

95 Elsworth could not but notice the despair which at times and in moments of confidence was so manifest in Dr. Day and his daughter, and Linda and her brother; they were “without hope and without God in the world.” They often lamented that they could not believe, and enjoy the peace of God that passes all understanding. How often in the wards of the hospital or at the bedsides of out-door patients had he been moved by the contrast offered by the simple, sublime faith of some poor suffering Christian man or woman, whose sick-room was illumined by a light that never sprang from the human intellect, but rayed forth from the face of God Himself. Peace that yet was not indifference, cheerfulness that was not stoicism, made the chambers and the couches of these men and women unspeakably different from those of their unbelieving neighbours. Prayer, “the window that opens towards the infinite,” as a great writer has beautifully expressed it, brought light and warmth and joy to these poor souls; and his atheist friends would not have made proselytes of them on any account. They said that for these folk their religion was philosophy made easy, and thought this accounted for the matter satisfactorily.

The chaplain of a general hospital should be a man of liberal ideas and wide sympathies; he should be capable of taking an interest in the daily life of his charges, and try to see the things that interest them as much as possible from their own points of view. Here he will meet with people who have perhaps had no instruction in religion whatever, and whose sole knowledge of its working has been gathered from the misrepresentations of a street infidel orator or the ignorant distortions of an atheist journal. To such he cannot be too human and unecclesiastical. He must not talk “Church” to them, but the simplest, most loving human words. One of the St. Bernard chaplains made a great mistake when he asked everybody “if they had said their prayers.” He never got to their hearts, and no wonder. The new chaplain, Mr. Anderson, was a man 96 of very different stamp; he was of Charles Kingsley’s school, and seemed familiar with every calling and phase of the life of his people. He was a devoted son of the Church, but you did not find it out by any symbols or tone. The fact that no patient, whether heathen, Christian, or “unattached,” left the hospital without being the better for knowing him, proved his fitness for his work.

He taught many an indifferent one the true spirit and method of prayer, and many thanked God for the accident or malady which had brought them under his happy influence. In him they had secured at least one friend for life, for discharge from the wards was not the usual termination of the friendship of Mr. Anderson. Before he came the chapel was seldom attended by the resident students; their pews were conspicuous by their emptiness, but he won even them, and helped many out of difficulties with the authorities. Mr. Horsley, the late chaplain of Clerkenwell prison, tells us he learned thieves’ slang, the better to acquaint himself with his flock. Mr. Anderson had some very curious specimens of humanity to deal with who required almost as much skill on his part, for many men injured in unlawful proceedings are taken to hospitals and watched by the police till their recovery permits their removal. He neglected not even these.



So ignorant of man’s whole,
Of bodily organs plain to see—
So sage and certain, frank and free,
About what’s under lock and key—
Man’s soul!—Browning.

He alone is an acute observer who can observe minutely without being observed.—Lavater.

When the students enter the wards of the hospitals for regular work with the staff, they have to devote a considerable portion of their time to the business of minutely recording the family history, physical signs and symptoms, and the treatment of each patient allotted to them. These records are valuable for reference, and still more so for the education of the pupils. They accustom the student to habits of careful observation; and as clinical work is by far the most important factor in his training, the man who does most of this stands the best chance of thoroughly learning his business. Elsworth found his account in sticking to the bedside, and often learned from conversing with his patients many things which helped him to understand how they came to be patients at all. Indeed, he found so much imprudence and ignorance in the habits of the people, that he wondered how it was they were ever free from disease. All the industrious men were great note-takers in the wards; they found that to understand the disease one must understand the subject of it. The practice introduced them to the habits of the working classes as nothing else could have 98 done so perfectly. The expert note-taker learned more of human nature in thus recording these histories than he could have acquired from reading any number of books. Some startling revelations as to the amount of drink the British workman can absorb were often made in this way. There were several great breweries in the neighbourhood, and the men employed assured the doctors they usually drank about two gallons of beer a day. These men were always awkward persons to treat; their flesh healed badly, and they were liable to many complications which abstemious persons would escape. Many artisans, whose weekly wages would average twenty-eight to thirty shillings, owned to spending ten shillings on their own liquor—a sum which, given to their wives, would have often made all the difference between poverty and decent comfort. Many of the accidents that were brought in could be traced to unsteadiness of brain caused by alcohol. When men are working in dangerous situations, it is perilous in the extreme for them to indulge in stimulants. It was not surprising that men who drank two gallons of strong beer a day should fall into the vats or down trap-doors; the wonder was they could walk at all.

One man confessed to having taken on an average forty two-pennyworths of rum a day. He was a Jew dealer in metals, and made a good deal of money at times; but his liver could not stand the alcohol, and he was the subject of a good pathological address on cirrhosis when he died.

This drink-madness was often found to be hereditary, as were many other maladies. Very often the taking of the family history involved the collection of very curious facts from the patients’ relatives when they came to visit their sick friends. Idiosyncrasies were often traced several generations back, odd deformities and bodily peculiarities persisted in families as explained by Darwin, and illustrated the fact that a man thinks and reasons in certain grooves wherein have run the wheels of thought of hosts of his ancestors. A descendant of a Huguenot 99 refugee remarked lately that his nerves had not yet got rid of the terror infused into them by the hair-breadth escapes his progenitors endured hundreds of years ago. It is said the whole world feels the effect of the stamp of one’s foot on the ground; not less is it true that our habits and work will influence the minds of untold generations of our successors.

True psychological medicine is less understood in the present age of science by our doctors than it was in the East thousands of years since. It will scarcely be credited that the great, the overwhelming majority of medical men can and do obtain their diplomas to practise, and attain to all the honours of their profession, without ever having heard a lecture on mental diseases, seen the inside of a lunatic asylum, or examined a person of unsound mind, except in connection with some physical signs indicating bodily disease, as in the delirium of fevers. In connection with some medical schools facilities are offered to the students to visit a neighbouring asylum for clinical observation, but it is extremely rare for them to avail themselves of the privilege. One may pass half a score of examinations at the various boards which have the power of licensing the practitioner who is to be charged with the duty of aiding by his counsel the families amongst which he will practise in a hundred forms of mental affliction, without having ever been asked a single question bearing upon psychological medicine. The student will be required to state with the minutest accuracy the stages of great operations which there are ten thousand chances to one he will never have the chance of performing, and a still remoter probability that he would have either the knowledge or the nerve to perform if he had the opportunity. He will be minutely cross-examined over obscure and rare complaints which it is extremely likely he will never see in his own practice if he live to Methuselah’s age; yet he will not be required to diagnose the difference between melancholia and hysteria. At the same time it is quite true, if he be an industrious man, he may learn a good 100 deal about these mental maladies if he attend the lectures of the physicians who make them their speciality, but this is optional; he does not get any credit for it in his schedules; he will not be advancing his chances of a “pass” by so doing, and there is much temptation if, amongst so many things which a student of medicine must know, he holds in light esteem some things about which he may or may not trouble himself at his discretion. The study of mental phenomena occupies the attention, then, of but few, and those only the most cultivated and thoughtful of the students. To the Sawbones it is like cuneiform inscriptions or the domestic economy of the Hittites. Is not this a scandalous blot on our system of medical education? Yet every half-educated, idle, and beer-boozing young man who can get one foot on the medical register, and write L.S.A. after his name (implying that he has the licence of the Apothecaries’ Society, Blackfriars), has the legal power to sign a lunacy certificate which may consign anyone of us to the walls of a mad-house! Would this be tolerated were it understood? It is recorded of Garibaldi that in the war against the Austrians in Lombardy, he was seized with the marsh fever in the midst of one of his campaigns. The malady soon turned to typhus, and he was given over by his physicians. Lying at Lerino at the point of death, he heard the wild shout—“The Austrians!” The enemy had suddenly come down upon the little town, and the slaughter of his followers had begun. Springing from his bed with an infusion of new life in his veins, he buckled on his sword, and led his troops, inspired by his own wonderful personality, to conflict and victory. What was the influence of the mind in effecting this cure? Ah! that is no part of a medical curriculum. Mesmerists, spiritualists, theologians may deal with that as best they may—it is beneath the notice of the colleges.

A fact like this is surprising only to those medical men who have never studied psychological medicine.

101 The miracles of Lourdes and of hundreds of other Catholic shrines need not be denied altogether as unworthy of credence. There is abundant evidence that some cases of cure do really occur in connection with faith healing. Those who have made a study of mesmerism have adduced instances of healing by its means which it would be foolish to deny. So much charlatanism and fraud have always been mixed up with these things that it is not perhaps matter of much surprise that they are held in low esteem by men of science. Still, as there are undoubted phenomena in connection with them worthy of patient examination, it is surprising that so prominent a field of inquiry should be so completely neglected by our doctors, while it is considered necessary to know precisely how long a dog covered with varnish would live, and how many degrees of heat a rabbit can tolerate before succumbing to its agony. A young lady of hysterical temperament, who had been humoured to the top of her bent by her medical man, had, after a few months of gynæcological treatment, become so enfeebled in mind that she imagined she had lost the use of her lower extremities, and even succeeded in inducing her doctor to believe that she really was unable to walk. She was advised to consult a well-known hospital physician, who was chiefly celebrated as a true mind doctor. When he took his seat by the couch of the invalid he soon diagnosed her malady, and, finding she was of high intellectual culture, asked permission to read to her. The doctor was an admirable reader, and his rendering of a long and soul-stirring passage from one of the great poets made the girl forget her ailment so completely that she sprang from her couch with energy as he paced the room declaiming the poem, and exclaimed, “Is not that magnificent?” At that moment the deluded woman found the complete use of her limbs, and a few more readings cured her without other medicine. They don’t teach this sort of things in hospitals,—not the curative part, at least. Examiners at the colleges would “plough” the man who ventured to propose readings from Shakespeare three times 102 a week with dramatic action as a remedy for hysteria. What they want is—

R. Tinct. Valer. Am. dr. j; Potass. Brom. gr. x.
Aq. Dest. oz. j; ter die sumend.

You see, it has been discovered by physiologists that if a solution of the bromide of potassium is applied locally to a rabbit’s heart, it produces instantly marked lessening of its action,[3] and if applied to the muscle of the frog it throws it into tetanic spasm.[4] On the nerve trunks it acts as a paralyzing poison;[5] in fact, if you inject it in the vicinity of a living dog’s heart, “cardiac arrest always occurs.” So that you see how easily the physiologist can demonstrate how bromide of potassium quiets the excited nervous system of the hysterical ladies. You do not quite follow the reasoning? Well, do not tell the examiners that, because they declare it is quite plain to them, and helps to prove the value of experiment. Now, as there are no instances given in any books of physiology known to us, detailing any effects produced on the hearts or brains of any mammals by the dramatic reading of poetry, it would be manifestly unscientific to treat lady patients by any such method. Moreover, as it is of no use to cure anybody if you cannot demonstrate precisely how you cure him, it is better to let him alone.

The mind specialist who effected these remarkable results was answered by his colleagues who went in for the rabbit and dog theories that in the first place the patient wasn’t ill at all; secondly, that consequently she was not cured; and thirdly, that she was still as ill as ever. But the good physician still holds on his course, speaks with growing disrespect of the 103 Pharmacopœia, studies Nature, but does not “put her to the question,” and takes hints from old women, birds, trees and flowers; and like another Paracelsus, is ridiculed by his professional brethren in proportion to his success in unorthodox methods.



Full ready had he his apothecaries,
To send him drugs and his electuaries;
For each of them made other for to win!
Their friendship was not newè to begin.
He was a very perfect practisoùr,
 *       *       *       *       *
His study was but little in the Bible.

Nothing in his curriculum puzzled our embryo physician so much as the different methods of treatment advocated by his teachers. With many of them, it is only fair to say, the only treatment they advocated was the extension of the palmaris muscle in the hand, known to anatomists as the guinea muscle, for the purpose of receiving the fee. Men of the new school declared the only treatment necessary for any medical, as distinct from surgical disease, was a good warm bed, and discarded all drugs. As, however, these gentlemen lived by the practice of their profession, it was a question if they were not liable to be charged with obtaining money by false pretences, as they did nothing whatever to assist their client’s recovery.

Some, on the other hand, wrote great books on therapeutics, and gave you a list of some score or so of drugs, more or less deadly, for the cure of every complaint, real or imaginary, leaving the selection to the practitioner, as he, when he combined 105 them, left Nature to take what she thought would best answer her purpose.

King James the First declared that the perusal of Hooker’s “Ecclesiastical Polity” (written as an apology for the Church of England) made him a Roman Catholic. How many students having heard at the hospitals the defence its professors have to make for it, and seen its practice in the wards, have retained any faith at all in the science of medicine? King James found that the arguments of Hooker did not go far enough. The student of medicine finds his teachers go a great deal too far; and becoming a medical sceptic when he has obtained his diploma, he generally adopts “the expectant treatment,” and leaves everything to the vis medicatrix naturæ—in other words, he leaves his case exactly where he found it, and takes much scientific credit to himself for his non-interference.

You could always, if you liked, have the expectant treatment exhibited at St. Bernard’s; it was rather a favourite experiment. You got two cases as nearly as possible of the same type of the same disease, say typhoid fever, in exactly the same stage of development. You put the cases side by side in the same ward. With the one you adopted all the therapeutic routine which might just then be the fashion—for fashion in medicine is as variable as in ladies’ dress—and in the neighbouring case you gave no drugs at all, but water simply coloured with burnt sugar as a placebo, lest the patient should think himself neglected. You watched the progress of the malady, you adopted in each case the same diet, and at the end of three weeks or a month, both cases terminated by recovery as nearly as possible at the same time. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes said,“if all drugs were cast into the sea, it would be so much the better for men, and so much the worse for the fish.” They quite went in for this idea at St. Bernard’s, with an exception in favour of newly discovered drugs whose physiological actions were yet to be investigated, and till all was known of them which could be learned, they compelled 106 their patients to swallow them. This was part of the expectant treatment. Mr. Micawber, it will be remembered, was somewhat of a disciple of this school. It is most unfair to argue that nobody got any good from this method, because many papers were produced for the medical journals on these new preparations; though, as an inquisitive lady reader once remarked, the cases all seemed to end with an autopsy.

But then, you see, a “P.M.” is like a lady’s P.S., quite the most important part of the whole concern. The drug bill at our hospital was a very heavy one, because all these new remedies at their first introduction are necessarily costly from their limited demand. Then all sorts of worthless articles of diet, much belauded by the journals which received large sums from the proprietors who advertised their wares in their columns, had to be tried. Poor wines, with high-sounding titles, at prices to match, were for mysterious reasons certified by the physicians of the place to be particularly “rich in phosphorus, and peculiarly suitable to invalids suffering from dyspepsia and want of nervous tone;” and were used in the hospital generally, in proof of the favour in which they were held, by Dr. Octavius Puffemup, M.R.C.P. (Lond.), Lecturer on Diseases of the Supra-Orbital Nerve at St. Bernard’s Hospital, London, Fellow of the Royal Society of Diana Lucina, and Member of the Royal Institution of Cynegetics, etc., etc., etc. All these much-belauded nostrums, like our little systems, “had their day and ceased to be;” they cost the charity a great deal of money, and served merely to advertise the members of the staff who demeaned themselves by praising them.

Did a member of the staff invent a new bed, a new inhaler, a new instrument, or a new kind of invalid’s clothing, it must be purchased, no matter what the cost, as often as he chose to order it for his patients. It served to keep his name before the public; it was one of the many ways in which the charity could recompense him for the time he devoted to its work.

107 A bookseller once declared, if his customers only purchased the books they were likely to read, he would not get bread and cheese. If only the pharmaceutical preparations were purchased which the patients really required, the makers of them would be in the same predicament. It is so easy to be liberal when you don’t have to pay. With proper conscientious management, directed for the patient’s benefit alone, the expenses of our great hospitals might easily be reduced one-half. But then there must be a good deal of self-sacrifice.



The acquirements of science may be termed the armour of the mind; but that armour would be worse than useless that cost us all we had, and left us nothing to defend.—Lacon.

We go our ways
With something you o’erlooked, forgot, or chose to sweep
Clean out of door; our pearl picked from your rubbish-heap.
You care not for your loss; we calculate our gain.

Our doctor was now given wholly to the material side of his work. Young men are an imitative order of beings, loving smartness, and desiring to be in the foremost rank, whether in sports or study. The men of the hospital found there was no road to distinction at St. Bernard’s except that of novelty. There was nothing to be done on the old lines; to stay there was to be content with the dead level of mediocrity. This section of the school scoffed at religion, held faith to be a mark of imperfect development; and in proportion as they grew more in the sort of knowledge they thought it the proper thing to acquire, learned to despise everything which of old had served to make the world wise and good. Elsworth, for some time, kept himself aloof from this set, but his abilities and his rising ambition made him a man to be competed for and flattered. Gradually he became puffed up with a sense of the importance of the things he had acquired. So far from thinking himself, with Newton, a child on the sea-shore picking up shells of truth, he fancied he was doing business in the deep waters, though he 109 was only stumbling amongst rocks. When this state of mind is reached, the man becomes selfish and indifferent to the condition of his fellow-men, and as God becomes a vanishing point Self looms large. All the virtues were to these men mere conventionalities, and it was as absurd not to live for one’s own advancement as for a giraffe to contravene the law of his nature pressing him to crop the highest branches he could reach with an increasing length of neck. So they craved after the best within their reach, regardless of the poor wretches below them who had not learned how to put forth their powers.

A purely scientific education has a tendency in the minds of the young to produce this selfishness, and the wisdom of our forefathers is shown in their having made the masterpieces of ancient literature the great pièces de résistance of the mental provender which they provided for their alumni, because Literature ennobles and subdues Self, and inspires with great and generous thoughts as does no other human learning.

The hospital education of the present day is mere craftsmanship, and should only be permitted in conjunction with a liberal university training. The man who knows medicine and surgery only, however well he may know both, has only half learned the business of a doctor.

The old custom of serving an apprenticeship to a general practitioner had many advantages. Hospital work is so different from that in the outer world in which the student will have to practise, that he is only half educated when his curriculum is finished, and his diploma obtained. One acquires a certain wholesale business air in dealing with patients while attending the hospitals which is particularly objectionable to patients in general; and till a man has had considerable contact with private patients, he is far too rough and ready in the sick-room to be very welcome there. Our every-day complaints, it is evident, do not particularly interest him. He has been dealing with “cases as is cases; none of your trumpery family doctor business,” as Podger said. He has no respect for the 110 miserable creature who has only bruised himself, not fractured anything; or whose mind is disturbed by family troubles and so misses his sleep, instead of being the subject of the vastly more interesting cerebral disease. In the latter case there is something pretty for his ophthalmoscope; in the former your eyes are not worth looking at. He has got hold of the notion that there can be nothing at all the matter with you if you have no “physical signs.” For your true scientist rejects the imagination. He wants facts he can handle and see. At heart he is a mere mechanic; he must open the frog’s thorax, and actually see the heart beating; must see with his own eyes the way carbonic acid acts on the living blood corpuscle. When completely imbued with this spirit, as the human mind can only entertain one great idea at a time, he acquires a sovereign contempt for the men who imagine merely, and do not see, taste, handle, and feel.

Linda had given herself up to the Socialist propaganda, and had quite resolved to waste no part of her life in love affairs. “It was quite time,” she declared, “that women should begin the work of setting to rights a world that men had so grievously muddled up.” She had often said more unwise things than this. She was, moreover, quite sincere, and had refused several very eligible offers for her hand. A bright-eyed, graceful woman like Linda, with her undoubted intellectual powers and her nice little fortune, would naturally have had offers before she reached her twenty-eighth year; but she loved the new gospel, and honestly thought it her duty “to war against the Jahveh worship introduced by a tribe of wandering Semites, and to substitute the evangel of Humanity for the code of Sinai.” There are plenty of such people about. It is not only the followers of Christ who sacrifice their lives and substance for their faith; His enemies do that, and do it honestly enough in their way. Were these people enemies of Christ? They did not think so. They maintained that the greatest Socialist who ever lived was Jesus of Nazareth, that He 111 would have really conquered the world had not the Church conquered Him.

Elsworth was not in love with Linda in any true sense. He was attracted towards her by her brilliancy, wit, and mental powers. She was not beautiful if you analysed her form and features,—not one of the latter would have passed muster with an artist; yet, taken altogether, with intellect and grace beaming from her eyes, and influencing every movement, she was just the woman a clever man would fall in love with while in her presence. But this love would not last long. Clever men are usually held in bondage by coarser fetters than those of intellect. Girton or Newham are not at all the places one would go to for the purpose of seeking a wife: they can want no very high walls at either to keep Romeo out. As this is not a love story, we do not propose to analyse very minutely the sentiments that drew these young people towards each other. Perhaps it is quite enough to say that Elsworth was attracted by the very efforts she used to demolish the principles he had brought to his hospital career. He felt that Christianity was not intellectual enough for Western notions, however, it might include the highest modern ideas of philanthropy. In face of that young girl and her brother, he lacked the courage to take upon him the offence of the Cross. Peter denied his master at a maid-servant’s question. Linda had vanquished our young surgeon’s faith.

The athlete glories in his strength, the boisterous health of a well-knit frame requires an outlet; hence the periodical rowdyism which attacks students everywhere, especially those in training for callings that will repress their ardents spirits all too soon. With Tom Lennard and little Murphy, Elsworth was now almost nightly engaged in some wild frolic or other. A curious mixture was in him—half hero, half imp; at times he was given to periods of deep meditation on the highest matters that can interest mankind, to speculation on questions which have agitated the minds of philosophers, with a deep 112 under-current of poetry running through his soul. Yet with all this there was a surface hot-headed foolishness which he neglected to restrain, leading him, at the suggestion of the moment, into outrageous acts of purposeless folly, if fun could be extracted from it. He wanted one thing—

“Discrimination—nicer power man needs
To rule him than is bred of bone and thew.”

Ever some new madness was attempted, some scandal enacted. The favourite amusement just then was disturbing music-halls and theatres, bar-rooms, and supper places in the West. The public seemed rather to like the students’ riots, and the proprietors condoned for money compensation what the police were only too anxious to punish.

One proprietor of a large and popular place of amusement did not see these disturbances in just this amiable light, and had recently caught and punished several young medicos who had made themselves obnoxious to him. It was determined very secretly to combine the fighting men of several hospitals into one grand attack on this man’s property.



Well, he is gone, and with him go these thoughts.—Shakespeare.

Meantime, how much I loved him,
I find out now I’ve lost him.—Browning.

It was the 9th of November, and Lord Mayor’s Show day—a festival of the first class at all the medical schools of the metropolis. On great occasions like this, the spirits of all medicos run high. They drink deeply, sally forth with knobby sticks, and prepare for multiform scrimmages. On this particular day word had been sent round to all the medical schools that a raid was to be made on the “Frivolity” Music Hall, Oxford Street, and Medicine expected every hospital man to do his duty. The rendezvous was at Piccadilly Circus, the time ten o’clock. At the appointed hour the locality was crowded with active, healthy young fellows, armed with their characteristic bludgeons; and the word was quickly passed to link arms and rush up Regent Street, driving everybody before them. No sooner suggested than done; right across the street they formed, from house-front to house-front, in triple rows. Of course everybody got out of their way, and gave a wide berth to them, and the young clerks and shopmen, who were delighted to join in the spree, and willing to undergo the indignity of being arrested for the pleasure of being suspected and perhaps described in the papers as medical students. As it is not the cowl that makes the monk, these vain persons do not always deceive either the public or the 114 magistrates before whom they appear. The music hall was quickly reached, with little interference on the part of the police who had not previously got notice of the raid. The turnstiles were upset or broken down, the money-takers roughly handled, and the spacious “hall of splendour and realm of dazzling light,” as one of the fellows called it, was taken by storm; the glasses and crockery at the refreshment bars were smashed, the looking-glass on the walls demolished, the marble tables overthrown, and the unfortunate portion of the audience, which did not succeed in escaping, soon had cause to regret the excessive demonstrativeness of the followers of medicine. Of course, when the place was half wrecked, the police came in force, and restored order. Some half-dozen of the rioters were arrested, and duly appeared before the magistrate, received their lecture on the manner they disgraced their noble calling, and were let off with fines. But the event of the night was the disappearance of Elsworth. No one knew what had become of him; he was not among the arrested, nor had he turned up at the hospital or his lodgings. No one had seen him after the row at the “Frivolity,” and all sorts of alarming rumours began to circulate as to his absence. He was last remembered in the heat of battle in the music hall, rallying his forces, crying, “St. Bernard’s to the rescue!” when the police had captured one of his heroes. After that no one saw him more. Had he met with an accident? Had he been attacked and robbed, and then killed by some of the bad characters in Seven Dials close by? No one could say. A week passed, and though inquiries had been made at every possible place, and all his friends communicated with, nothing whatever could be heard of him. The fellows began to rake up every bit of his conversation they could recollect. As we have already narrated, at Oxford he was deeply religious, but his medical studies had imbued him with serious doubts on all the distinctive dogmas of Christianity, till at last the atmosphere of the dissecting-room and the physiological laboratory seemed 115 to have weakened his faith in God, the soul, and the future life. It was the fact that this state of things often obtained at St Bernard’s. All its professors but one or two were agnostics, or even atheists. Some were serious, thoughtful men, who grieved they could not believe; while others, as far as they dared, made a jest of the most sacred themes. Young men—and especially young medical men—are prone to copy very closely the speech and the modes of thought of those who are in authority over them, and the school took its tone from the many brilliant men of science on its teaching staff. The microscope, the test-tube, and the scalpel had dissipated much of young Elsworth’s faith, and he had not cared to conceal it. Had he committed suicide? Why should he? He was not embarrassed; he had ample means and wealthy friends. Nor was he involved in any intrigues, as far as could be known; and as he was of the liveliest and most optimistic turn of mind, the idea was scouted by those who knew him best.



I pity the unfortunate who, in their necessities, find only the succour of the civil authorities, without the intervention of Christian charity. In reports presented to the public, philanthropy may and will exaggerate the care which it lavishes on the unfortunate, but things will not be so in reality.—Balmez.

He loves not to be prodigal of men’s lives, but thriftily improves the objects of his cruelty, spending them by degrees, and epicurizing on their pain.—Thos. Fuller.

The institution and maintenance of such public charities as hospitals for the gratuitous relief of sickness all over Europe are directly due to Christianity; no other religion or policy, except Buddhism in its prime, ever blessed the world with such a form of charity. It has become a recognised idea in our day that a poor sick man has a right to be restored to health at the hands of a Christian people. That there are misuses of it is well known, many persons seeking to participate in this benevolence who could afford to obtain medical aid at their own expense; yet the public is so convinced that at any cost it is bound to remove the burden of illness from the shoulders of the poor, that it is ready to wink at the abuse of its kindness in this way. The physicians and surgeons attached to the greater hospitals are much sought after by very well-to-do, not to say opulent, persons, who use every mean device to obtain consultations gratuitously. Many such persons have been known to attire themselves in the clothes of their servants, and 117 to send their children in charge of their cooks, to obtain advice and medicine which would have entailed expense if obtained privately. This is one of the ways in which such institutions are robbed.

It is possible that the treatment of the ills to which humanity is subject may in course of time be considerably improved, in consequence of the patient investigation that has long been carried out on every form of disease at our hospitals. At present physiology and pathology so entirely occupy the attention of the doctors, that treatment is relegated to the distant future. A French physician spoke the truth when he said, “The object of the scientific practitioner is to make a good diagnosis in life, and then verify it on the post-mortem table.” It is not to be denied that the art of making a good diagnosis has been brought to considerable perfection of late; but whether we are more successful than the doctors of former times in curing these well-diagnosed diseases is very doubtful. Now a general hospital, frequented by thousands of “cases,” is to the inquiring physician what an Alpine valley is to the botanist, or a Brazilian forest to an entomologist. It is there that orders, genera, and species are to be found. Diseases for classification in all their variations are met with amongst the crowds applying for treatment. The great object is to get the crowds; they come for one thing, the doctors for another. Very good and kind and clever at curing folk, no doubt they often are, but primarily the object of calling the crowd together is precisely that which the herbarium supplies to the botanist, and the nest of drawers to the entomologist.

The hospital professor is like Linnæus, who so curiously expressed himself when he had achieved success:—

“God hath so led me, that what I desired and could not attain has been my greatest blessing;

“God hath given me interesting and honourable service, yea! that which in all the world I most desired;

“He hath lifted me up among the mæcenates scientiarum, 118 yea! among the princes of the kingdom, and into the King’s house;

“He hath lent me the largest herbarium in the world, my best delight.

“He hath honoured me with the honorary title of arkiater, with the star of a knight, with the shield of a nobleman, and with a name in the world of letters, etc.”

The only difference being that the great botanist thanked God for his herbarium, while our hospital man of science has generally little thought of God when making up his case book, unless it be to think, with Helmholtz, how much more perfect organs he could have devised had he been consulted at creation.

Elsworth often thought that all their diagnosis and classification did little for the cure of disease; and that, as the labourer said of his landlord’s claret, “You didn’t get any forrarder with it all!”

“Some day we shall arrive at the treatment stage,” they said; “at present all is chaos in that direction. We have not diagnosed enough,” they urge. “We must diagnose a good deal more in every part of the world; then meet in congress, then keep up discussion in a hundred societies, and, in the course of a century or so, we may begin to try to cure people; but it is too early yet. Meanwhile, we can diagnose. And take our fees? Why, certainly!”

Mr. Crowe was lecturer on physiology and pathology; that is to say, he taught the students what the human body is in its normal state, and what happened to it when subject to disease. He claimed that the only gate to the true knowledge of a doctor’s work was the branch of science which formed his speciality; and, as the examiners seemed to take the same view, Mr. Crowe occupied a considerable share of the students’ time and attention. St. Bernard’s made a great fuss with Mr. Crowe, and grudged no expenditure on his department. He could have all sorts of costly and curious apparatus on application, because, in the present rage for experiment, it was found 119 to pay. He had a beautiful laboratory for his work in the medical school, and in the hospital, fine new chambers attached to the post-mortem room, where he kept his microscopes, and made sections with the utmost patience and skill. Here he often spent whole nights alone; here it was more than rumoured the most gruesome things went on in secret, for, in the vaults below, there was a small menagerie. No one was supposed to have access to this inquisition-chamber, except he was either in Mr. Crowe’s employ, or in his completest confidence, for of late unpleasant discussions had taken place, and the subscribing public had made it pretty well known that they did not support St. Bernard’s for this sort of work. Thus, great care had to be exercised, and all Mr. Crowe’s familiars were cautioned to mind what they were about. The tabbies and the lap-dogs of the neighbourhood could venture abroad with less danger of being pressed for service at St. Bernard’s, and the porters had to go to Seven Dials for their purchases. These porters were characters in their way. Long service in this line of business had left its marks upon them. They were scarred and furrowed about the hands and arms with bites, cuts, and scratches, which had healed badly, and, to the skilled observer, sufficiently stamped them with the trade mark of the hospital. They were brutalized by their ghoul-like work, and, if given the opportunity of doing a stroke of business, would stick at nothing in the way of subjects, which did not actually jeopardize their necks.

Mr. Crowe was forty-two years old, of middle height, dark, and inclined to leanness. He had a decidedly malevolent aspect. His face was not that of the libertine, the schemer, or the man of pleasure; but a perfect pitilessness, an utter dissociation from any genial or loving characteristics, was boldly recorded on the lines of his face, and the very carriage of his body. Hard was not the word for it, cruel was not wide enough to comprehend his character. Disregard of all pain in others, contempt for those who professed to care for what troubled others; these were the distinguishing traits of Mr. Malthus 120 Crowe’s moral character, and his face advertised it. Mr Crowe was rapidly becoming an authority in his branches of science, and accordingly brought much kudos to St. Bernard’s. Had not physiology been invented in these latter days, it is difficult to imagine what the world could have done for Mr. Crowe. He loved pain; he reverenced and esteemed it (in others, of course). He had inflicted it in every form, and watched its effects learnedly without flinching, both in animals and man. He always described it as a tonic—Nature’s great nerve bracer—but he never took it himself if he could help it. He declared the world could not get on without it.

He had married in early life the daughter of an Italian engineer, who lived at Cernobbio, on Lake Como. Having been in the habit of taking his long vacation tour in Switzerland and Italy, he had formed the acquaintance of several hospital surgeons of kindred tastes to his own, and had frequently visited them at Milan and Genoa, and compared notes on matters of mutual interest. One of these confrères had introduced him to his family, and so he met Olympia Casatelli, and, having some reason to think her prospects good, had married her, notwithstanding she was a Catholic, though her pronounced Garibaldian sentiments had left her without any very ardent attachment to the religion of her baptism.

Olympia was deeply imbued with the new Italian patriotism, and cordially detested the “rule of the monk.” Passionate in her love for her country, she eagerly caught at Mr. Crowe’s atheistic and revolutionary notions, and, repellent as he appeared to most women, he succeeded in winning her love, more by his professed sympathy with the cause of Italian independence, and his hatred of the Bourbon and Austrian, than by his own personal attractions. Downright ugliness in a clever man is often an additional attraction, even to a handsome woman; and Mr. Crowe’s science and revolutionary sympathies found their way to Olympia’s heart, during an autumn holiday he passed at the lakes. She must have loved him very much, or 121 thought she did, or she could never have torn herself away from the beloved mountains and the blissful lake to bury herself in a wilderness of brick in the heart of London. However, she had not been married a year ere she began to pine for her picturesque home by the waterfall in the midst of the vineyard at Cernobbio.

She soon found that her husband’s interest in Italy was merely that of a destroyer—he cared only to upset the old order of things everywhere, loved anarchy for the sake of pulling down something venerated by Christian folk, and was insusceptible of sympathy with patriotism. Soon poor Olympia was disillusioned; her husband was absorbed so completely in his unpleasant branch of science, that she had little of his company, and gradually was entirely neglected. She had few friends in London, and none of the resources that would have helped an Englishwoman similarly situated. It was not long before Mr. Crowe threw off his mask. He cared for her less even than he cared for her country: it was plain that he had married for money, and had not realized his expectations. Working as he was doing for European fame, engaged in researches which could only indirectly bring him reward, it was irksome in the extreme for him to have to devote valuable time to patients and pupils, for the sake of earning a living. He had trusted to a good marriage to liberate him from these necessities. Never a very ardent lover, he showed disgust when his neglected wife sought a miserable refuge from her grief in narcotics. She gradually neglected her personal appearance, and declined her food, occupying herself with painting and music, but not sufficiently to absorb herself in these pursuits; she slowly wasted, and ultimately lost her health completely. Then her sleep forsook her, and she took chloral by her husband’s suggestion. Its fascination held her in a bondage, from which she had no sufficient energy to escape, and in mind and body the beautiful Olympia, so recently the flower of her mountain home, became a wreck, 122 Her very presence soon became an annoyance to her husband, and for days together he would absent himself from the house. She was so irksome to him, that had he any deity in his pantheon who could have assisted him, he would have prayed for her death. The sole deity he acknowledged was the one who only helps those who help themselves; and at times a dark thought occurred to him that some day he should be compelled to come to his own assistance—the methods of carrying out such an idea were all too easy and too safe for a man with his knowledge and in his position.



Gentle friends,
Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Now hew him as a carcass fit for hounds.

I hold that we should only affect compassion, and carefully avoid having any; it is a passion that is perfectly useless in a well-constituted mind, serving but to weaken the heart, and being only fit for common people, who, never acting by the rules of reason, are in want of passions to stimulate them to action.—La Rochefoucauld.

Walter Mole was assistant to Mr. Crowe in his laboratory. He was twenty two years of age when he entered St. Bernard’s. He was the youngest son of a speculative builder in the West of England, who having made a fortune by erecting many streets of stucco-fronted villa residences (built on ground the gravel of which he had dug out and sold and replaced with the contents of the dust-bins of the town), was ambitious to settle his sons in life in the learned professions. He tried hard to make his eldest a clergyman, but as he lacked the ability even to conceal his evil habits, he sank back to the gutter from which it was impossible to raise him, and followed the entirely congenial calling of a billiard marker. The aspiring parent still determining to make capital out of evil and unpleasant things, sent his smart, pushing little cad of a son Walter to St. Bernard’s, to bring honour to the family name as a surgeon. Mr. Walter Mole was a very diminutive specimen of humanity, 124 making up however in conceit, as is often the case, what he lacked in inches. Mr. Mole was a young man of aspirations. Sharp at his books, he had done so well at the cheap boarding school where he had got his education, that he had no difficulty in passing the examination in arts required by the very moderate ideas of the Apothecaries’ Society of London. By industry and a plodding perseverance, combined with an intense desire to elevate himself in the social ladder, he ingratiated himself in the favour of the Professor of Anatomy, who made him a “demonstrator,” a kind of anatomical pupil teacher. He won the scholarship in anatomy and physiology; by constant practice he acquired a nice dexterity with his fingers, and his dissections were so accurate and careful that many of them were honoured with places in the college museum. Now Mr. Mole, although popular with the lecturers, was detested by the men. He was, in the first place, not a gentleman; everything he said or did proclaimed him “Cad.” His oily hair, and still more oily tongue; his dirty finger-nails and dirtier ideas; his paper collars and imitation jewellery; his low money-grubbing propensities; his scheming cunning to win the favour of those who could help him, and his insolent contempt of those whom he considered to be beneath him in position, made him detested by the men of the school who were unfortunate enough to have to associate with him. To thrash him was of no use. Who could fight such a contemptible object? So all sorts of tricks were played upon him, which he resented in his own way; and as he had much influence with the authorities, his resentment was not always to be despised. As he did a good deal of money-lending at exorbitant interest, he was always able to secure the favour of the very considerable section of the men who were in his debt. Such a man can always hold his own, and Mr. Mole held his at St. Bernard’s, and was not to be put down. If popular dislike could exterminate—say—toads, how few would be left! And as toads must have some use in the economy of nature, there 125 is no knowing what disarrangements of her plans their disappearance might effect. There was possibly some use for Mr. Mole, or “Molly Cular,” as he was usually called. He acquired this epithet from a mispronunciation in his early days at the hospital of the term “molecular,” and the nickname stuck to him even when he became house surgeon. His eye was as quick as his hands were dexterous, and as Jack Murphy used to say, “Mole was cut out for a pick-pocket, but spoiled in the making.” When assisting the lecturers he never failed to detect the larking student who was causing all the uproar, and many were the men who lost marks and favour by the watchful supervision of Demonstrator Mole. His sensitiveness to ridicule served to improve his taste, and he gradually acquired correctness of pronunciation and much general knowledge from sheer dread of the suffering he would have to undergo if caught in the slightest mistake. He had endured so much for dropping his h’s that he fell into the opposite error of a too liberal use of the aspirate. He so economized the truth that he never used it unnecessarily, and was as sparing of it as of his money, though probably not for the same reasons. Of course he scoffed at religion as something beneath the notice of an advanced scientist, and was never more in his element than when shocking some pious pupil by a coarse joke twisted out of Biblical language, or a metaphor which was perverted from a sacred subject. His familiarity with Holy Writ enabled him to shock a great many good people, and amuse some evil ones; but even they were few, as it is rightly considered the mark of a vulgar mind to make fun of any man’s faith. This habit ultimately caused complaints to be made of him to the college board, and he was cautioned that he must abandon it if he expected advancement. Hating religion, which was a constant rebuke to all he loved best, he threw himself with renewed zest into the pursuit of science, which was too cold to reproach him with anything, and he determined to win respect for services rendered to physiology 126 which he could scarcely hope could be conceded for anything else within his reach. He was not loved; he determined to be respected. Soon he found his opportunity. A skilful and patient worker at the microscope, he earned much favour and profit from Mr. Crowe by his admirable pathological work. Many thousands of beautiful sections and other objects in the microscope room were the result of Mr. Mole’s deft labours in this direction. He became indispensable in the physiological room, and the constant attendant on the researches of his master. There was a common sentiment which drew these men together. Both feeling that the world did not love them for themselves sought to compel admiration for their achievements. Both were essentially cruel at heart; both would not only have gladly botanized on their mother’s graves to discover anything to win them credit, but would have learned with pleasure anything they could from the sufferings of their dearest relations. Mr. Mole took care that his chief never ran short of dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, or frogs, for use at the tables and troughs. To show his devotion to this work he even gave up a worn-out retriever which had saved his life a few years before by arousing him from sleep when his chamber was on fire. What greater proof of devotion to one’s work could be demanded than this? But he would have done even more to win favour with Mr. Crowe. Had he not been introduced by him with high encomiums to several learned medical societies, and had not his early attempts at writing for the scientific journals been aided by his counsel? Such a friend was worth a dog or two. He laboured at first, above all things, to win Mr. Crowe’s favour; then, as the work began to be familiar, he embraced it with an ever-increasing love. It did not give Mr. Mole much difficulty to rid himself of the outside prejudice against causing needless suffering to sentient beings, though when he first began, it was not with the “true spirit of the artist” that he approached his work. But this came in time, and now not alone on Mr. Crowe’s account, but for its own sake, this 127 laboratory business took hold of every fibre of his being. He revelled in it; he spent in it his nights as well as his days. His Sundays were specially devoted to the more private, revolting, and awful exercises which Mr. Crowe would only share with priests of the inner temple of science. Here one vied with another who could do the most startling things, who could invent newer forms of torture.



Doctrines and maxims, good or bad, flow abroad from a public teacher as from a fountain, and his faulty lessons may become the indirect source of incalculable mischief and suffering to hundreds who have never even heard his name.—Sir Thomas Watson.

Physicians vary their prescriptions to give the disorder an opportunity of choosing for itself.—Lacon.

As Mr. Crowe was surgeon to the hospital, every new experiment and each fresh result was religiously tried upon a human subject. Being a man grateful for any little services his assistant rendered him, he repaid him in various ways, one of the most valued rewards being the privilege of trying “any new drug you may take a fancy to upon any of my patients, Mr. Mole.” None of Mr. Mole’s services went unrecognised, and the acknowledgment was not costly to the professor. The sufferers in the wards where his beds were located would not have seen the matter in precisely the same light had it been explained to them, but Mr. Crowe was really generous—with other people’s pain!

“I wish to investigate,” said one of his dressers, “the presence of lithic acid in the blood of rheumatic patients. May I blister one or two of your patients, Mr. Crowe?”

“Oh, certainly,” said the obliging physiologist; “only you must take precautions to let the patient imagine you are doing it for his benefit, and be careful the nurses don’t see what you are about—nurses are getting so ’cute now-a-days. 129 With these provisos, you are free to roam at large, my friend, over the bodies of any of my clinics.”

Several poor men and women broke out in great blisters the following morning, the serum from which was carefully collected and evaporated in the laboratory for pretty crystals of lithic acid. “They look very nice if carefully mounted; but mind you place a black circle round the covering glass, it shows ’em up better. Grumbled a bit, did she? She must have the battery again if she is intractable.”

Jack Murphy, a merry, reckless little dog as we know, used to tell a droll story of his first bit of skin-grafting in the wards.

“Graft him,” said Mr. Mole. “Don’t know how? Oh, you just snip bits of skin off his arm and pop ’em on the raw surface of the burnt leg, and in a few days you’ll find ’em growing like watercress all over the shop. Perfectly simple. One of the grandest discoveries of modern surgery.”

Now these directions, although satisfactory to the adept, were wanting in lucidity to the pupil; and Mr. Murphy, who never liked to admit even to himself that there was anything in his profession too hard for him, went down into the erysipelas ward and set to work upon his wretched victim with a light heart.

“Going to heal up your leg, old chap, in a brace of shakes. Splendid invention for putting a new skin on your leg. Sha’n’t hurt you a bit. Don’t squeal. I’m just going to snip off a tiny bit or two from your arm, and transplant ’em on to your leg.” And having cheered up the patient with a stiff glass of grog which the nurse had at command, the vigorous young dresser took off a dozen or more pieces of skin the size of a threepenny-piece, from the arms, and scattered them in likely places on the badly healing burn.

When Mr. Murphy entered the dining-room that night, he was received with a perfect roar of laughter from the house surgeons, who had become aware of the ignorant barbarity the 130 burnt man had suffered; and Mr. Murphy was made to know that his idea of a snip of skin for grafting was at least a hundred times in excess of what it ought to be, and that for the future he must be less generous with his pound of flesh. Even the patient found out the error, and Murphy, who was a good-hearted fellow, wished he had known more about skin-grafting before he had punished him so. It was some weeks ere the victims arms healed, and the scars remain now, and even the operator is still sore when the subject is referred to.

It was wonderful how they managed to get the patients to take all the new remedies that were tested upon them. Folks are usually very careful as to the physic they swallow. Your poor folk do not mind it being nasty, they rather like it thick, with a good rich, nourishing sediment and an awakening odour; but they are very suspicious of anything that gives them queer sensations. They often return to their doctor with a bottle of stuff which he has prescribed them, and declare that they “cannot take any more of it, because the first dose made them feel as if all their senses was a-running away from them down their right arm, making them feel that strange in their toes as they seemed as if they wore going to die.” And this when the poor practitioner has merely given them perhaps a little quinine, or some simple diffusible stimulant! Their confidence seems to come with the increase in the number of their medical attendants; and when the chief surgeon, with his dozen of satellites, supported by several capable-looking nurses, has ordered them to take a decoction that works in their systems as if scorpions and tarantella spiders were careering through their veins, they submit with meekest resignation, and admire the regularity with which their doses are timed. You can do things in hospital it would be as much as your life were worth to attempt outside. A hospital doctor may steal the horse where a general practitioner dare not look over the hedge. “It’s the confidence as does it,” Mrs. Podger used to say. But not always. Some do resent. The spread of Socialism, the 131 tracts of the various societies which dare to question some of the cherished privileges of the profession, and the general uprising against all authority that characterizes the present age, have produced a class of patients who provokingly assert their right “to know what you are about with them.” Such are awkward people of whom to make use.

These persons are not liked in the wards, and are frequently cured right away and sent about their business with indecent haste. A sort of ungrateful folk that want to get all they can out of the hospitals, and then be off. A most unappreciative class, which seems a growing one too. “Like to know what they thinks ’ospitals is for?” said Podger. “Seems to me they think ’em ’otels!”

Latimer complained in his day, that “physick was a remedy prepared only for rich folks, and not for poor, for the poor man is not able to wage the physician.” He could not fairly say that now. It is possible, if good Master Latimer were preaching one of his plain sermons at Paul’s Cross, he would complain for quite an opposite reason.



Although hospitals have been intended as a blessing and benefit to the poor, they have too often proved the reverse, on account of the ignorance on the part of their administrators of the true principles of health.—Encyclopædia Britannica.

There are diviner, truer laws,
That teach a nobler lesson still.

One of the greatest blots upon hospital management of the present day is the abuse of alcoholic drinks. The immense amount of spirits needlessly, and often not harmlessly, given to the patients is a serious tax on the resources of the charities, and a fertile cause of dram-drinking in the people at large. As you pass along the wards and read the cards over the beds, indicating the diet and amount of drink ordered by the medical officers, it is startling to see how many sick or convalescent patients are ordered six ounces of whisky or brandy a day. Now six ounces represent three wineglassfuls of good average size, or say nearly two bottles a week. This is expensive, to say the least—of very questionable service in most cases to say nothing more. That the custom has its advantages in an hospital like the one we were describing is indisputable—to the medical staff. Where a system obtains by constant worrying and painful, or at least unpleasant physical examinations, it is of great assistance to doctors and nurses to have at hand an unfailing means of putting and keeping the patient in good 133 humour and benevolent docility. Does he object to be “mauled about,” as he sometimes inelegantly calls his dose of “palpation and stethoscopy,” his equanimity is at once restored by the comfortable words of the doctor, “An ounce of brandy, sister!” Should he object to his treatment, and rebel against the hallowed customs of the place, considering he has a right to the orderly arrangement and general integrity of his own limbs, he is a lucky fellow if upon an early date his spirit card is not reduced, or even taken away altogether. You could not manage St. Bernard’s on its present lines without alcohol. The medical school would not have a chance with it. Let us follow, say, Thomas Smith from St. Giles to the hospital. He has inflammation of the lungs, is very weak and ill, has been badly fed and cannot in his own home obtain proper care and nursing. His clergyman kindly gives him a letter for the hospital. He is advised to be at the out-patient department at one o’clock. To make sure, the poor fellow’s cab is there by half-past twelve; the great waiting-hall is already filling. The physician of the day arrives a little after two. About three, if he is lucky, Smith’s turn will come. He is not sorry. It was weary waiting, sitting upright on a hard bench in a great noisy, draughty room, with many distressing and painful sights around him; and when the kind, gently speaking physician tells his wife to strip him to the waist, he begins to think he is going to be cured straight off by some of the superabundant medical force surrounding him.

There are many interesting clinical features in Tom Smith’s case, and the doctor lectures long and learnedly to the score of good-natured, athletic young gentlemen whom he has just been informed are “sucking doctors.” They have all come provided with stethoscopes, and after the examining physician has thoroughly thumped, pummelled, and “auscultated” poor Smith’s chest, back and front, as many of the aforesaid young men who are invited, or who can be induced to interest themselves, “have their go” at the patient, and are very kindly 134 and patiently shown precisely where the mischief is, and what is the exact stage of its progress; but all this could not be got through without an ounce or two of brandy in a drop of water, in a measure glass that stands handy. And everybody having quite done, with many remarks, such as, “You see the point I was driving at, Mr. Dobbs?” or, “You are quite convinced my theory of pneumonia is correct, Mr. Murphy?” poor, shivering, sick and faint Tom Smith is sent up to the wards to bed, under the care of an entirely fresh physician, physician’s assistant, clinical clerks, and students of the in patient department.

None of those men who have spent so much time over the case, will probably ever see it again. Smith’s cards, papers, and books having all been duly made out, signed and registered, he is conducted, say, to Magdalen ward, where he is put to bed and made comfortable. If he has brought any tea and sugar with him, he can have a cup; but these things are luxuries not provided by the charity.

When the staff has dined, the house physicians and surgeons, accompanied by their clinical clerks, dressers, and nurses, go their rounds. All the fresh cases that have come in during the day have to be examined. All that Tom Smith has undergone in the out-patient department goes for nothing, and the process is now still more carefully repeated. A minutely exact record of the “physical signs” is made; all that drumming of the fingers on the poor tender chest, that long stethoscoping at the panting lungs, whose every movement causes acute distress, has to be undergone; the heart sounds are scrupulously noted; its size and the line of demarcation of the liver and other organs recorded, not by the qualified doctor temporarily in charge of the case alone, but, by his kind permission, his assistant clerks also, for their education, verify all the recorded facts for themselves. “An ounce of brandy, sister!” and the man suppresses his growing discontent. His night temperature is recorded on the card above his bed, and 135 now, if so disposed, he may say his prayers and compose himself to sleep. At six in the morning he will have to get his breakfast, for work in a hospital must begin early, or the wards will not be scrubbed and tidied up by ten o’clock, when the doctors go their morning rounds.

If the gentlemen who examined him overnight have been duly interested in their cases, they will have read them up from the approved text-books; and it will be strange if that reading has not raised questions and points that will necessitate a fresh examination. So the man gets another ounce of brandy, and another knocking about. At three in the afternoon the head physician—a fashionable West-End speciality man for diseases of the chest—goes his rounds, followed by a crowd of students. He makes himself responsible for each of the cases in the beds allotted to him, and naturally wants to know all about them, especially if any of them are likely to make good subjects for elaborate clinical demonstration. So with tenderest grace and the most honied phrases, with every courtly apology to the patient for disturbing him, the great man proceeds secundem artem to teach the young idea how to shoot. The junior in charge of the case, reads his report of the physical signs, family history, diagnosis and prognosis of the case, with the treatment proposed, while the lecturer verifies or objects to the statements of the record. He is so thoughtful, so kind and sympathising with the poor fellow on whom he is going to discourse for the next half-hour, that having noticed he is distressed by the process before it is fairly begun, he, in his most mellifluous tones, asks, “Would you like a little wine or brandy, my friend?” And the poor man thinks he would. Then have at him, lads! for here is a pretty case, a typical text-book case, and all you who are going up for examination had better get all you can out of Tom Smith, for here are “minute crepitations,” “vesicular murmurs,” “obscured resonance,” and if you watch the progress of the disease you may get “tubular breathing,” “bronchophony” 136 “increased vocal vibration,” and no end of good things. Tom Smith remains in the hospital six weeks before he is “discharged cured.” He has suffered many things at the hands of his physicians; he has cost St. Bernard’s say about a pound a week, besides his medical attendance. Who says he has gone out without paying his bill? It has occurred to no one concerned, least of all to the patient, that there is anything wrong in all this treatment. In their passionate eagerness to acquire information that can only be obtained at the bedside, the assiduous students are of course delighted to have Mr. Smith amongst them. The house physician is soon going into private practice, and he wants to consolidate and confirm all his knowledge of the various forms of disease; the lecturer loves nothing better than to exhibit his really admirable powers of clinical observation to a body of rising men, who can send him many patients and more guineas. The patient is usually delighted that so much interest is taken in his case, and contrasts the hurried “Put out your tongue; give me your hand; take this medicine, and I will see you again in two or three days;” all in a hop, skip, and jump style, of the club doctor, with this elaborate marshalling of great medical forces for the purposes of his cure, sadly to the discredit of the club doctor’s hasty method.

Nobody sees through it all;—yes, the sisters and the nurses do. The former do their very utmost to soften by their kind assiduity evils which they think are inseparable from the work of a public hospital. The nurses do what they have to do; it is their business to execute orders, and they usually say little, whatever they may think. Then says the reader, “Who is aggrieved? What is there wrong in the system?” What is wrong? Everything! From the long waiting in the out-patients’ ward; the exposure of such a case while the preliminary examination is made; to the long and dangerous examinations of the stripped sufferer in the ward upstairs: with their constant repetition by so many persons; so that it 137 is probable he would have made a better and speedier recovery under the care of the club doctor, who seemed hasty because full of business, but who thoroughly knew what he was about, and only did not waste time over matters his quick eye took in at a glance, and whose large experience was an additional sense. All that auscultation had nothing to do with the man’s cure, but a great deal to do with the education of those concerned in it; and as the treatment consisted in salines, tonics, poultices and rest, with suitable food at suitable times combined with good ventilation and cleanliness, the elaborate exhibition of therapeutic force was very much like cracking a nut with a Nasmyth hammer, only the cracking of the nut was but a detail!

It is possible that if all this could be knocked into Tom Smith’s uneducated head, he might not again lend himself so readily to the business; still less is it probable that all those cheques would be drawn in favour of St. Bernard’s, if the subscribers knew just how the case stood. They might ask with much cogency, “Cannot we get our nuts cracked without the use of those costly steam hammers?” And, after all, that is a very important factor in the case. For consider! It is only by much begging and by resorting to many stratagems that the governors can keep these charities going. Now if the charitable Christian public chooses to crack its nuts with steam hammers, we cannot offer any objection. It seems costly, but that is their business; but if they think their nuts can be cracked by no other and less costly method, they are very much in the dark. Let alone the fact of so much unconscious cruelty, wrought in the name of charity and mercy. Of that we have said enough. The fees for a complete hospital curriculum average a hundred guineas for the four years’ course, an absurdly small sum for such an education. In what other learned profession could such advantages be obtained for twenty-five guineas a year? But then the charitable public does not assist other professions so liberally as that of medicine.



Oh, then, if Reason waver at thy side,
Let humbler Memory be thy gentle guide;
Go to thy birthplace, and, if Faith was there,
Repeat thy father’s creed, thy mother’s prayer.
Oliver Wendell Holmes.
A dream is o’er,
And the suspended life begins anew;
Quiet those throbbing temples, then, subdue
That cheek’s distortion!
His forehead pressed the moonlit shelf
Beside the youngest marble maid awhile;
Then, raising it, he thought, with a long smile,
“I shall be king again!” as he withdrew
The envied scarf; into the font he threw
His crown.
Browning (“Sordello”).

When the scrimmage and riot was at the highest point, Elsworth suddenly found himself separated from his companions, and involved in a rush of people who were making for the street. These persons were anxious to escape from the violence that had suddenly come upon them, and taking rapid stock of affairs, thought it best to be outside. So, in a very few moments, Elsworth was in Oxford Street, with no chance of getting back to the scenes which he had just so unwillingly left. He turned down the Seven Dials, and as he walked towards the Strand had time to feel heartily ashamed of himself and that night’s 139 work. Had he not had nearly enough of this sort of thing? Was it for this he had read and worked, earned honours, learned many and great things, profited by the labours of the past, which surely could not have come to him through such channels as he was likely to prove? For several days past he had been immersed in the study of Browning’s “Paracelsus.” He had seen how that hero of medicine had torn himself away from home and friends, and all his loved surroundings, to go far into the distant world to gather, with enormous difficulty, hints and scraps of medical learning which were but the veriest crumbs compared to the loaded tables now set before the student of the healing art; how, with poor means, great hardships, and the scantiest help, in opposition to the teaching of its appointed professors, doing violence to the received notions of his time, he had struck out a path for himself, through the trackless forest to the unexplored country where lay, he felt and knew by the inner light that guided him, the key to the true treatment of the hurts and troubles of men’s bodies—all this against tears and entreaties such as often hold a man back from attempting new and great things. And how, after many wanderings and contentions, much violence, and opposition, he had seized, Prometheus like, Divine gifts for men, all by his own great soul, fortified by faith in God and love to man: and had dowered the human race with gifts greater than kings and captains ever won for it, and blessings for which the art of medicine yet sings his praises. While he, Elsworth, standing as it were high on the shoulders of the discoverers of the past, had been using his time at best to acquire a mere means of livelihood, his predecessors, who had helped him to all this knowledge, had been glad to win from nature, by years of work, one by one those secrets he was using so lightly. He was overcome by shame and the sense of his unfitness for such a work as he had dared to undertake.

Paracelsus,—the Paracelsus made known to this age, not by the false portraits limned by his contemporaries and enemies 140 but as drawn by the master hand of Browning,—seemed to step out from the dark past and forbid his progress on a path he had traversed. A horrible sense of degradation took possession of him. He had once held a lofty ideal. When at Oxford, when his faith in God was a real working faith, he had often vowed himself to the service of humanity. That the saints of the Church, the fathers of the faith, the apostles, the prophets, the teachers of the past should have all worked to hand down to him—Elsworth—this noble, Divine light of Christian faith, which alike impelled his adhesion and claimed his co-operation; and for him to receive all, and then hesitate to give in his turn his best years and his whole heart to the world’s needs, was surely but to be repelled on its suggestion. But faith was gone, intellect had usurped the place of will, the will was unsanctified, and the man in brain and heart a chariot whose steeds rushed uncontrolled along the beaten track of habit, and were carrying him—whither? If there were no hereafter—nothing beyond this life—was it worth while to go on with this devilry, this riot, this attempt to drag the better part, the reason, into the mire, with the swine? Why not forsake it all, and now while there was time for repentance? The man was pulled up short: thrown back like a horse on his haunches. A great gulf in these few minutes was opened between him and the past; and not Paul when smitten down on Damascus road was blinder as to the future than Elsworth on this night in Seven Dials, amongst the suspicious men and bedraggled women, who passed him as he moved listlessly along, arrested by the scream of a conscience that would be heard at least once more, and whose voice had unspeakable terrors for him. For he was made for better things—that he always had felt; he was not vile, debauched, debased, as some of his companions were. He had fought against light; he had struggled not to believe, not that he might give the reins to his passions, but that he might deify intellect. He thought it was cowardly to leave those poor lads in the fight, but it was useless 141 to go back; and even if he could have saved them from arrest, he dare not engage in any more of that work—away with that at least; it was too horrible to think of any more. So on he went, scolding himself, calling himself by every opprobrious epithet, and berating himself back into manhood again. He had reached Chelsea; it was almost too late to get a lodging, but he would try; for the conviction began to dawn upon him that he should not go back one single step into the past, but there and then break with it all, and be a man, and live a man’s life. He prayed—once more repeated, “Our Father, which art in heaven;” it seemed very unphilosophical, very unscientific. He had often sent out aspirations to “the Power not ourselves which makes for righteousness,” to “the one Consensus of the whole,” to “the Eternal Verity,” but it was long since Elsworth had said “Our Father;” he felt that in doing so he had reopened that long closed “window towards the Infinite,” and had once more let in the light of the Divine and supernatural wisdom without which he had been groping along. He found a clean, but mean lodging in a little eating-house down by the river, and went to bed. Surely a voice out of heaven had called him that night. Not clearer was Paul’s arrest—not plainer Loyola’s, “Hitherto, but no farther”—than this to him to-night. So, ever, when there is a work for a man that he must do, that he is sealed and set apart for, when the full time comes he shall hear the call; if not in the still small voice and the whispering wind, then in the fire and thunders of Sinai.

Elsworth felt that night, as he lay restlessly tossing on the rough bed, that he had gone about his whole work at the hospital the wrong way. Thus had not Paracelsus done! How he cried at the outset of his career:

“I can abjure so well the idle arts
These pedants strive to learn and teach; black arts,
Great works, the secret and sublime, forsooth—
Let others prize; too intimate a tie
142 Connects me with our God! A sullen fiend
To do my bidding, fallen and hateful sprites
To help me—what are these, at best, beside
God helping, God directing everwhere,
So that the earth shall yield her secrets up,
And every object there be charged to strike,
Teach, gratify, her master God appoints?”

His black arts were neither secret nor sublime, but the openly belauded methods of investigation, involving the tortures of sentient beings for the sake of learning the idle arts these pedants taught at the schools. He, too, had invoked the aid of the sullen forces of Nature, from which he had thrust Nature’s God, and they had done his bidding in a way—and the way was hopeless and dark. He had long felt this reckoning-day with himself must come; he was too honest to go on much longer leaving the question of his responsibility unsettled; he was too healthy-brained to give way to despair, till he had found a modus vivendi with his better nature impossible. Early bereft of a mother’s care, his father, wholly absorbed in his literary pursuits, and keeping up merely the slightest correspondence with his son, whom he had apparently almost forgotten, Elsworth had very few family ties, and was perfectly master of his own position. He had no fear of his father’s withdrawing his allowance of £300 a year. As it happened, he had the day before been paid a sum of rather over £100 by his agents; he was not in debt, save in a small sum to his landlady, and the hospital beadle, with some trifling amounts in the neighbourhood of St. Bernard’s which his man of business would pay. Why not cut the old familiar scenes? The wilderness period has to be gone through by every man with a work to do; the retreat is salutary for the stricken soul. Why not enter into it at once? He was a man of resolute will, possessed by a strong determination when the right and proper thing to be done confronted him. He had true stuff in his composition; originality, firm purpose. Boldness to do and 143 dare came to him from his father, who had won his promotion in Indian warfare through a grandly conceived and brilliantly original movement, which had insured the enemy’s defeat at the moment his own seemed imminent. It should be done; he would go away early in the morning light. “Let him that is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of the house.” And he went not down, nor took anything of his old life, but made straight for Paris that same day, for, like his father when he made his brilliant move, he had formed a plan and carried it out.

He gave directions to his lawyer to discharge all claims upon him, to say that he had gone abroad, and would not return for some time, but begged him not to disclose his whereabouts to any one without first communicating with him at the address he should forward, when he had chosen his headquarters.

Now he began to enter into himself. He must seek some hallowed place of prayer to consecrate his remaining years to God, and renew his baptismal vows, to drink a deep draught of the Divine Spirit as he entered on his new work.

He turned into Notre Dame, to see the place again, and investigate some details of the architecture. He sat down on a bench before the high altar; they were singing the vesper service. A sense of heavenly calm pervaded his soul, his turbulent thoughts were quelled; his disquiet, his vague apprehensions, his disgust with life, all seemed to melt away as the influence of prayer lulled his troubled soul on the breast of God. The organ ceased to peal, the monotone of the priests and the clear young voices of the choir had died away. He peacefully slept in the house of prayer, and angels seemed to whisper sweet words to him, and glorified saints from out the storied panes to counsel him. He was aroused by a Suisse, who, noting him as a tourist, and having an eye to a douceur, invited him to come and see the relics, and the treasures in the sacristy and chapels. He declined, and moved away—moved to a less conspicuous place, and again sat down to muse on the 144 great things the sacred fane had witnessed in the past. How many and great events of human history had been enacted under its shadow and beneath its roof! Here, and on that very altar, had been enthroned a vile woman to be worshipped as Goddess of Reason, a visible presentment of what a nation or a single human soul meant when it had cast out God. Could anything, had anything kept the intellect of man from madness when bereft of the idea of essential goodness outside the mean world of man? All history, he must confess, answered “No.” And “No” was thunder-pealed from that desecrated altar, where the idea of God had been openly crucified amid the highest civilization of modern Europe, by the lusts and madness of the age of science. Dethroned and cast out for what? When all was gone, and the last traces of the faith stamped out, as far as might be, what was to come in its place? What for that market woman kneeling by his side rapt by devotion at least to an idea more exalted than her business or her pleasures could have suggested? Surely something ennobling her small surroundings, if only by its poetry and sentiment. And that workman there under the sculpture of the Cross-bearer? Not altogether waste of time for him to meditate a few moments on sacrifice of self for good of other men. It might help him perhaps to bear a hand at a neighbour’s overpressing burden. And those little children before the picture of the Infant Saviour? At least for them such idealism must be a factor in their mental development which could ill be spared. Philosophy was good for men, the wisdom of the sages had often balanced a wavering mind, and strengthened the fibre of men to dare and do great things; but it was not possible for the masses of mankind to be so sustained any more than it was possible they could be all fed and housed like princes. Was not this contemned Christian religion which he had been helping to push aside, philosophy made easy for simple folk, unlearned and without culture? Would it not still further belittle their poor lives to take their faith from 145 them? For them Plato, Dante, and Shakespeare were not horn-books. Was it so very wise to take away their gospels, and their psalms, and leave them nothing to elevate the daily round of life’s task above the muddy floor of their miserable dwellings?

And so he mused on all these things, and the worshippers came and went, knelt in prayer, and laid their poor burdens at the feet of God; took in from the infinite a draught of the water of life, wept their tears, sighed up to the throne of the Heavenly their anxieties; asked direction from the Wisest they knew of, wandered a little out of themselves a while; felt that bread and meat were not alone the sustenance of man, and went on their way. And as he thought and pondered in his heart, the sinking sun gloaming through the great west window scattered a thousand jewels over the floor around him, and he rose and knew that religion brightens life, and colours with rose and gold the dark shadow brooding over the soul of man. Not altogether was it a fact that man had been wholly wrong in his faith, and had done nothing but “build him fanes of fruitless prayer,” or had reaped from them nothing but the opportunities to “roll the psalm to wintry skies.”

As he rose from his long meditation, and went into the gay, busy world without, he felt how inconsistent with his previous mental attitude were the thoughts he had entertained. How often had he not dedicated himself to the overthrow of superstition, and pledged his energies to do what he could to erase its traces from the minds of his friends! It was but a few weeks since he had angrily tossed a crucifix from a patient’s couch, who he had directed should not be bothered by religion or priests. Had he not scoffed openly at a poor old woman’s simple assurance that God was helping her in her sickness, and that to her ears came often “songs in the night season?” At St. Bernard’s how many times had he not endeavoured to laugh or reason young freshmen out of the religion of their mothers, unworthy of belief now that facts, and facts only, 146 were to be the study of their lives! There was a little band of true Christian men at the hospital, who met for prayer and Bible reading from time to time. He could not deny that they did their work in the wards conscientiously—did it more faithfully than the ardent young Comtists and Secularists, who made so much noise about Humanity and its claims. They were so cheerful, too, and helpful in their attitude towards the afflicted and poor who sought their aid, that they were a constant reproach to him for not living up to the faith with which, in his secret thoughts, he had never really broken.



And Wisdom’s self
Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,
Where with her best nurse Contemplation,
She plumes her feathers and lets grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impaired.
No star is ever lost we once have seen:
We always may be what we might have been.

Elsworth spent a few days in Paris, and then determined he would go on to Spain. He dreaded discovery, for ridicule was more terrible to him than any bodily danger. He had been only two days in Paris when he passed a London friend, who, however, did not notice him. He neither wanted to be chaffed by old companions, nor urged back to a life with which he had resolved to break. He was not strong enough to fight—the highest bravery is sometimes to fly. He felt that, though the world is so small, he would be less likely to meet acquaintances in Spain, especially if he did not stay in the capital.

As he entered the night express for Madrid, and settled himself in a corner of the carriage for sleep, he felt some sinking at heart, a sense of his isolation and a misgiving of the adequacy of his motive which had driven him into his solitude. This age of ours, he thought, is not the time for sacrifice to principle. Retreats for clergymen and devotees might be right because 148 customary; but, whoever heard of a medical man, scarcely emerged from his hospital, giving up all his professional prospects, abandoning friends and position, country and habits, because a great sense of non-response to the higher call of duty, had suddenly come upon him? Yet history was full of such precedents. Men had done all this and more to seek an island in unknown seas, to trace the sources of a river, to get gold, to seek for novelty, to gratify small ambitions, to chase the merest butterfly of a pleasure. He had seen, as a lightning flash in an instant reveals a yawning precipice or some great danger in time to be averted, that he was descending from his higher self, and leading a life which could not be worth living for any man who had once known a better and followed nobler things. Could it be wrong to break with the past like this? Was it not just this that the Great Teacher meant when He said, “If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off?” Was it not good for him to go out into the desert for awhile, and let God speak to him in the silence? He had said to himself that he would live to make the world better for his living. He had vowed himself to the order of those who smooth away some of the roughnesses of this life for weaker brethren; not a very wonderful thing after all, to do, in face of what had been done for him by others. True, this is the age of “doing nothing without a quid pro quo” paid down in hard cash. A cruel and a soul-benumbing maxim, which, if acted upon universally would turn the brightness of the world into the grimness and noisy whirl of a mere factory. Let him for awhile, at least, see if it were possible to live the life of an early Christian; such a life as was common enough in the dawn of the new civilization which had love and self-abnegation for its motive power. And so musing, with heart-aspirations going up to God for help and His sustaining power in following this better ideal, he fell asleep.

*       *       *       *       *

The morning broke struggling through the mists that hung 149 over the strange, weird country of the Landes. The train ran through miles of fir-trees—nothing but fir-trees, grown for the sake of their resin. Every tree had its cup slowly but steadily filling with the fragrant exudation. Every tree, as he saw, gave up its blood to help mankind; not one refused to fill with resin the cup affixed to it. Was not all Nature at work to keep the world a-going, and to better its life? And then he rebuked himself in George Herbert’s lines:—

“All things are busy; only I
Neither bring honey with the bees,
Nor flowers to make that, nor the husbandry
To water these.
“I am no link of Thy great chain,
But all my company is as a weed.
Lord! place me in Thy concert, give one strain
To my poor reed.”

Soon Bordeaux was reached; then, as the afternoon drew on, the Pyrenees were passed, and at midnight he alighted at Burgos, to rest a day or two before going on. An old-world place, where the railway was a gross anomaly, and the telegraph poles a violation of the fitness of things. At least two hundred years behind the times, the great offence to the eye being smart French-looking soldiers where one looked for mailed knights with their esquires. Here was a market-place with its traffic much as it had been conducted any day this five hundred years. True, by ferreting amongst the stalls you could find some nineteenth-century novelties in the shape of wax matches and paper collars; there were books, too, in secluded corners, “printed on scrofulous grey paper with blunt type,” which evidenced some demand for modern literature; but, these indications of our advanced civilization excepted, the rest of the dealing was in things which cannot have much changed their form or their use for many generations. A sleepy, quiet, leisurely place, with plenty of time to be wicked in, but also with much opportunity to be good. In such a place, indeed 150 in the whole peninsula, there is every inducement to lead the devout life; there is so little else to do. One’s activities have small outlets, except towards the other world. Yet for a busy Londoner, a blasé Parisian, what a blessed sense of peace comes over the soul resting in such a becalmed water-way on one’s voyage!

But a terrible sense of loneliness possessed Elsworth. The day after his arrival here it was Sunday. The wind was bitterly cold. His Spanish was not quite Castilian in its perfection, though he could make himself understood; and when he had spent some hours in the cathedral, visited what a young fruit-seller called the Mercado de la Llendre, which is not quite literally rendered as Rag Fair, and wandered round and round the quaint old market-place half a dozen times, his questioning spirit disturbed him as to why he had ever left London, and how was a nineteenth-century life to be supported long under such conditions? St. Simeon Stylites, on the top of his pillar, must have had some such misgivings for the first few days at least, and St. Francis could not have found all at once the birds and the fishes supply the place of familiar friends, nor their sentiments, if they expressed any, a sufficient substitute for his human interests of former days. The dinner table did not mend matters. The company at the hotel consisted of some half a dozen priests, as many young officers of the army from the barracks opposite, and some of the towns-people, who evidently were quite at home in their surroundings and particularly provincial in their breeding. No one took the least notice of him, and his attempts at conversation, like sparks of damp wood, went out dismally. The truth was, the Castilians had paid for a good Sunday dinner, and the matter of making the most of it was of too serious importance to every one of them to permit of their being beguiled in their work by any such trivial considerations as the young Englishman’s conversation could offer. So everybody ate as became 151 good hearty Burgolese, and poor Elsworth was left to his meditations.

He knew the only remedy for this depression was to get out of cities into the country. There is no such loneliness as that experienced in a crowd where one knows nobody; so he determined henceforth to live chiefly in villages, roadside inns, and places where he might hope to make friends with the less sophisticated of the people. Sending therefore, his luggage on to Madrid, he packed a small knapsack, took his stout walking-stick, and set off for a good spell of pedestrian work. He resolved to purchase a bicycle when he reached the capital. He was an ardent cyclist, but had not brought his machine with him, and now missed it sadly. He loved his steel roadster as men love a favourite horse, and felt shorn of his strength without it. His Spanish stood him in good stead, not only at the posadas, but with the people he met on the roads. Spain is so little known from the play-ground point of view, that he felt sure of the retirement he sought, and had been but a few days on the tramp ere he found his healthy life invite healthy thoughts; and as the London smoke got out of his lungs, a clearer spirit entered him in its place. The smoke of the great city had penetrated deeper even than his lungs: it had begun to pollute his mind. It was time he broke with it. Thank God, he was not out of tune for Nature altogether, and as he sat beside a mountain stream could lift up his heart and meditate, and say with old Isaac Walton:—

“Here we may think and pray, before death stop our breath.
Other joys are but toys, and to be lamented.”


For those that fly may fight again,
Which he can never do that’s slain;
Hence timely running’s no mean part
Of conduct in the martial art.—Butler.

The Divine origin of Christianity is manifested in nothing more powerfully than by the progress it rapidly made among the Latin races. Tho soft, voluptuous climates of Southern Europe would have bred, one would have thought, nations whose chief characteristics would have been gentleness and tenderness. But it is not so, and the cruelty that was deeply ingrained in the Roman nature lives on in Christian Italy and Spain, uninfluenced by some sixteen centuries of Christianity, so far as regards the treatment of the lower animals. To have softened towards their neighbours and dependents, the cruel patricians of Nero’s reign needed the greatest miracle of the Christian religion. The actual reception of the code of Christ by the men of old Rome is evidence enough that there was no mere human agency at work. We may estimate the magnitude of the task Christianity had to accomplish by marking the condition of the shores which its tide has failed to overflow. Up to the present it would seem, in Spain and Italy at least, the high-water mark of mercy stops short of the animals which serve us. “To them Christianity has no duties,” they say. The women and children of Italy do not think for a moment that they are not justified in torturing the trapped wolves and 153 foxes the shepherds have taken, just as our sailors used to torment sharks. “What rights have such naughty beasts?” say they.

The long, stern contention of the men of the North against the rigour of the elements, or some other profound cause, has produced in the Teutonic races a tenderness of heart, and a sympathy with every phase of wrong, which have made the Anglo-Saxon race the pioneers of mercy throughout the whole world.

The progress of Christianity was assured when the men of the North were converted; and if they owe to warmer climates the message of the Friend of man, they have in their turn blessed the birth lands of the Gospel with the broader humanity which has help for everything that lives and suffers.

Elsworth was amazed to find how the bull-fight cultus had permeated and moulded every Spanish mind. That it was a pastime, he knew; that it was a religion, he did not imagine till he had lived in Spain. The very landscapes were cruel; the mountains and rocks had no softness, they were all angles, with stern, hard outlines that seemed reflected in the Spanish nature. Man, modified by his surroundings, often formed the subject of his meditations. Here, if anywhere, cruelty would be apotheosized! The railway journey to Madrid, and the landscape of the Escorial threw a light on many chapters of Spanish history which had often seemed hard to understand.

Having reached Madrid in due course he made some necessary purchases. First of all he bought a bicycle from Singer’s agents in the Puerta del Sol, also some good road maps and all the necessary tools and materials for repairing any accident that might happen to his machine. Then a good medicine chest and some well-selected medical appliances to enable him to be useful to any sick folk he might fall in with. A few books, dictionaries, grammars, and guides were added to his slender baggage and sent forward to Granada to the Hotel Washington Irving, where he determined to remain till he 154 should decide his future course of life. He knew the cholera was raging at this city, and without rashness, yet with confidence in God and the wisdom of sanitary precautions which he should adopt, he decided to do what he could to help the dreadful misery that hung over the unfortunate city. His work at St. Bernard’s had familiarized him with the terrible disease on its last visitation of London, and he trusted to the measures which had been followed there to keep him from danger in Spain. At Madrid he wrote to his father, telling him the exact state of affairs, and assuring him that he had fled from temptation that could not be safely parreyed with, but was better conquered by flight.

A few months later he received a reply from the Major, who so far from being annoyed at his son’s conduct, praised him for it.

“You have done what the Lord Gautama Buddha felt compelled to do. When he left his royal home, and in the night passing through the dimly lighted pavilions where the sleeping Nātch girls lay, conceived an overpowering loathing for worldly pleasure, and was assailed in vain at the outset of his great renunciation by the voice of the tempter Māra urging him to cling to all the good things he was giving up, he set an example which I rejoice to know my son has followed. You are seeking the Nirvana. Do not think yourself singular in this step; one cannot be saved without a renunciation.”

Elsworth thought of a higher example and a nobler Prince, who left His throne to teach us the way of salvation; but was glad he had the approbation of his father. No one else except his lawyers, knew of his whereabouts; and he asked his father and agents not to give the curious inquirer any clue to his place of retreat.

Ever since as a boy he had read “Washington Irving” and Mr. Prescott’s “Conquest of Granada,” he had longed to see that celebrated city of which one Spanish proverb declares, “He is loved of God who lives in Granada,” and 155 another, that “He who has not seen Granada has seen nothing.”

George Borrow’s books on the Spanish gipsies, their customs, and their curious language had fascinated him, and made him anxious some day to see these strange people for whom he had acquired a singular liking. The Spanish character has in it something strangely akin to the Puritan severity, honesty, and fibre of the English race, and no true Englishman can read the history of the conquests of Peru and Mexico without feeling his heart go forth towards those brave followers of Pizarro and Cortez, who seemed possessed of a character so much like our own in their invincible courage, daring, and hardihood in dealing with difficulties.

Elsworth had Puritan blood in him, inherited from his mother, more than one of whose ancestors had fought for England’s liberties under the great Protector. Good blood has the peculiarity of helping its possessor at a critical turn in life; and at this juncture in Elsworth’s history it served to stimulate him with something of the nerve force that enabled his forefathers to cast off the trammels of a licentious and drunken age, and go forth to a purer atmosphere for their souls’ salvation. He knew from many an old book treasured at home, the story of the Pilgrim Fathers, and what they had done for what the world called a mere idea. His favourite book, the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” came to his aid. Was he not, like Christian, setting forth from the City of Destruction? And so one bright autumn day he found himself in the famous city, the Queen of Cities, as Ibn-Batuta calls it.

The Arab writers used to say it was a fragment of heaven that had fallen to the earth. Elsworth had not gone forth into a waste, howling wilderness; he did not see there was any use in making himself wretched. He wanted, if possible, to do some good; and as he knew the language of the Gitanos, he thought if he could devote himself to their interests for a while in a missionary way, he would be the happier for being 156 useful in his retirement. For he had great faith in the eternal freshness of the New Testament, and he concluded that its doctrines were as potent, as life-giving now as when they first shed their beams on a benighted world; he was determined that now religious liberty was permitted in Spain he would circulate the Caló New Testament amongst the gipsies, and do what he could to bring them to its teaching.

He took a couple of charmingly situated rooms in a venerable house on the banks of the Darro, looking down upon an old bridge which spanned the golden stream that comes down from the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra Hill was close by, and the old city, rich with historic memories, in the plain below. He had little difficulty in ingratiating himself with the Gitanos. Knowing their language so well, they insisted that he must be of their race; and his dark complexion, fine eyes, and jet-black hair made it almost useless for him to deny that he was of gipsy stock. They argued that he must have their blood in his veins, even though he might not know it.

He soon became very popular, and having no prejudice, but being of a thoroughly cosmopolitan mind, it was not long before he was looked upon as one of themselves. His hospital life helped him, and he soon became at home in the Sacro Monte.

The gipsy quarter of Granada is one of the great sights of the place, and is the most romantic spot one can imagine. The pencil of a Doré and the pen of a Théophile Gautier have made it familiar enough to students of Spain and its people.



Oh, never star
Was lost here but it rose afar!
Look east, where whole new thousands are!
In Vishnu-land what Avatar!

Two years had passed away since Elsworth’s disappearance, and a little party of house physicians and surgeons—all young men and recently qualified—were sitting round the roaring fire in the snug quarters of the senior house surgeon at our hospital, discussing the sad fate of their old comrade. Young Harvey Bingley—a thoughtful and cultivated man, who, besides passing his exams, with credit, found time and inclination for literary pursuits, and especially loved to dig into Robert Browning’s poetry and extract a nugget from time to time—propounded the theory that perhaps Elsworth had gone off like Waring in Browning’s poem. Nobody saw the allusion, because nobody there knew anything of Browning; but Bingley was always worth listening to when he got on his hobby, so he was required to explain.

“Well, you see, the poem opens with the question,—

‘What’s become of Waring
Since he gave us all the slip,
Chose land-travel or seafaring,
Boots and chest, or staff and scrip,
Rather than pace up and down
Any longer London town?’

158 “He is described in the poem as walking with two or three friends one snowy night in December, when suddenly he was missed from the little company of students, who were returning home from a supper party, and none of them saw him again, nor could anything be learned of his whereabouts till years after, when one of his friends, sailing by Trieste, caught a glimpse of the lost Waring’s face under a great grass hat, in a fruit-boat, offering to trade with the English brig: caught that glimpse, and nothing more, as the boat which bore him went off—

‘Into the rosy and golden half o’ the sky to overtake the sun.’”

“How romantic!” exclaimed several of the party.

“Yes,” said the junior house physician; “very like young Sapsford; he disappeared just that way, after a supper party, and was not heard of till several days after, and then he was found in a boat off Margate jetty, with his landlady’s daughter!”

“Shut up!” cried Dr. Aubrey; “you’ve no poetry or sentiment in you—not a bit. You are saturated with ‘Mark Twain,’ and it’s blasphemy to quote Browning in your ribald hearing!”

“Do you think Elsworth has gone into the fruit business ‘in the rosy half of the sky?’” meekly asked Maberley the dresser.

“I’ve no idea,” said Bingley; “but I have known things quite as strange as that. By the way, you were all so anxious to laugh at my poetry that you didn’t wait to hear the dénouement.”

“Oh, isn’t it over?” asked a groggy individual on the sofa, smoking a churchwarden. “How could he get back out of the rosy sky?”

“That I can’t say; but he did, and is now living in a pretty villa on Hampstead Heath, is very fat and jolly, and sketches in fine weather ‘bits’ which he exhibits at the Academy.”

“Then I say it’s a beastly shame,” cried Ryder, the “Resident Acc.,” “to come to a public place like Hampstead and 159 dissipate all that beautiful poetry and rend asunder those rosy skies and appear as a fat sketcher amongst donkey boys and nursemaids, to say nothing of girls’ schools. It’s indecent, and Robert Browning ought to go at him for damages. I would! ‘Avatar’ indeed.”

“Now, joking apart,” said Dr. Aubrey, “don’t you think poor Elsworth got a sudden sense of disgust with his rackety life, which was always, I thought, rather assumed—never sat upon him quite naturally—and in a moment resolved to cut it all? I shouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear that he had settled down in some quiet nook abroad, and was leading a philosophical life. Do you remember Bartley Coleman? You do, don’t you, Fourneaux?—he was of your year. You remember how promising he was? We all made sure he would take the medical scholarship. One fine morning he was missed, and nobody heard of him here till Dr. Sales went into a little grocer’s shop in a Scotch village for some fish-hooks, and was served by the missing Coleman. His father had become bankrupt while he was a student, had a fit of apoplexy soon after, and died, leaving a widow and five girls unprovided for. Poor Coleman heard the call of duty, laid down the scalpel and took up the cheese-cutter, and so supported his mother and his sisters. Noble wasn’t it?”

“Oh, I say, Aubrey,” said Maberley, “you don’t mean to imply that Elsworth is keeping a chandler’s shop?”

“I imply nothing. I say we know very little of the under-currents of half the men’s lives we are familiar with; we see the surface-water and what floats on it; that is all. The wonder to me is how we keep between the banks as well as we do. Some from inclination, others from duty, more from defective control, get away from the old course, wander off down the rapids, under the rocks, and disappear. Is it any marvel? For my own part, there are times when I long to cast off the restrictions of your so-called civilized existence, and go with a gun or a lasso to the Pampas and the virgin forests.”

160 “Yes, all very fine, and make the welkin ring with cries for your slippers and your grog when tired and heated with the chase. After a very few months of that sort of work, the fit would cool down; and the next thing that the world would see of you, you would be dining with your father at the Fishmongers’ banquet, eating your turtle and drinking your très sec like the rest of the ‘domine diriges.’”

“I believe he has gone off with some girl,” said ugly little beetle-browed Mills, the clinical clerk; “or somebody’s wife more likely still.”

“Well, you may comfort yourself, Mills, that that indiscretion will never happen to you. I could believe it of a cash-box, but there isn’t a woman living who would elope with you—married or single. You will never create that scandal.”

At this moment a knock was heard at the door, and a nurse put her head into the room and, addressing one of the house surgeons, told him the patient Green, in Isabella ward, had consented to undergo the operation which he had suggested, and then added: “Sister says she thinks he is dying fast, and are you going to operate?”

“Going to operate! Rather think I was. Don’t you know, Nurse, this is my first capital operation? Do you think I am going to lose the chance?”

“Then, sir, Sister told me to ask you if I had better let the chaplain know?”

“Chaplain be hanged!” he cried. “Certainly not! It would only depress the poor devil. No! no! Plenty of brandy! Keep him up! Cheer him all you can; tell him it is only a trifling, every-day sort of affair, and he will be well in a jiffy. You may send for his wife.”

“Oh, sir, she has been waiting about the hospital all day.”

“All right, then! Now, gentlemen, to business. You shall see me do something pretty. Bishop says I may do it all myself as soon as the ether is given. Is Bishop in the wards?”

“No, I saw him in the pathologist’s room with Crowe an 161 hour ago, and he said he should be here but part of the day. I’ll tell him, shall I?” asked a dresser.


The bell rang for the operation, to assemble the students, some of whom said “It was a beastly shame to torture a poor wretch who hadn’t a chance of getting over it.”

“Ah, you won’t talk like that when you are house surgeon (H.S. they always termed it) yourself. You will be glad to operate on your own father if you can’t get anybody else. Besides, what are hospitals for, if not to qualify us for our work? If people don’t want us to learn all we can from them, why don’t they stay at home and die? The parish doctor won’t disturb their latter moments with operations.”

And so, while the case was being discussed by the novelty-hunting lads, and the grim tools of the surgeons were being selected and placed on a pretty little table by the side of the couch in the theatre, and covered with a white napkin;—while the nurses were assembling who had to assist, and the surgeon refreshing his memory by a last peep at the text-book directing the steps of the operation;—while the poor patient, who, after much worrying, had at last consented to undergo what he was told was a trifling affair that would be certain to cure him—an agonised young woman, with a baby at her breast, was pacing up and down the courtyard of the “cathedral of surgery,” as the Sunday papers called it, feeling that her poor husband was fast leaving her and his little home, and much doubting if she should have given that young doctor her consent to cut and hack the sinking frame of the father of her babe. But what was she to do? Had not five well speaking, kind-looking gentlemen told her that very morning it was the only chance of saving him? Did not the pretty nurse and the ladylike sister urge her to do just whatever the doctor in charge of the case advised? There was only her own heart, her sad misgivings, standing between her and the operation that they said was to give her Jimmy back to health. She had yielded; it 162 was to be done. She had seen him, and kissed him; but her heart told her she would see him and hear his voice no more in life.

A kind porter in the place let her sit down in his room and await the result. Before nightfall, she was a widow. The announcement was made to her by one of the dressers, who coupled his bad news with a request from the authorities for leave to make a post-mortem examination. For James Green had yet something to contribute to science and St. Bernard’s; he had given his life; had presented a rising young surgeon with his first opportunity for a great and interesting operation. He had still something more to bestow—his dead body. It was considered a grievous oversight, and a wrong to the institution, if a patient who had died there failed to make his or her appearance on the post-mortem table at four o’clock the next day, not only that it might be seen and demonstrated by skilled pathologists just where and how the operation had gone wrong, but for the sake of all the beautiful and instructive things that might be shown in brain, or heart, or lungs. For statistical purposes, for treatises being written, for papers for learned societies on all and every of the ailments of humanity, it was ill fortune to let a sectio cadaveris slip, as one never knew what one might be losing. They had an euphemistic way of asking the relatives’ permission for what they termed a “P.M.”

“You don’t object to a slight examination, do you, just to find out the real cause of death, so as to make the death certificate all right?”

Who could object? Few understood what it all meant, fewer thought they had any power to object; so the cases were rare where the ruse failed.

There is a widespread feeling amongst the people against post-mortem examinations. There is a vague apprehension that portions of their deceased friend’s anatomy may appear “in spirits in a vial,” in some museum or other. When the remains of the relative come back from the hospital, it is 163 unpleasant to feel doubts as to their integrity. Visions of important portions of their internal economy lying perdu in back gardens of students’ lodgings, the prey of the too inquisitive cat or investigating terrier, are not altogether baseless. Hundreds of back gardens in London doubtless do contain such material, as we have frequent proof. Many thousands of museum shelves are loaded with preparations of such departed friends. It is doubtless, in the abstract, absurd to object to these common practices; but when it comes home to a mother to ask how she would like her dead child’s remains disposed of, it is perfectly natural, and not at all absurd, to suppose that with her whole heart, she would earnestly demand that they should be reverently interred in Christian ground, and be as little mutilated as possible.

The Jews are very reluctant to allow post-mortem examinations on their relatives; and, when such a thing is unavoidable, as by coroner’s order, an official from the synagogue is present to see that nothing is abstracted. It has often happened that the friends have discovered that portions of the corpse have been withheld or lost; and, as such detention of human remains is forbidden by law, the authorities have had to compensate the relatives by handsome sums towards the funeral expenses. Nevertheless, one shilling will still purchase a healthy, adult human brain to dissect quietly at home; and the emptiness of the dead person’s head is not always a cause of surprise. A judicious porter in the P.M. room has often found the cranial cavity a good receptacle for the liver, thus balancing matters comfortably.



The world’s male chivalry has perished out,
But women are knights-errant to the last;
And if Cervantes had been Shakespeare too,
He had made his Don a Donna.
Elizabeth B. Browning.

When it was found that Elsworth had quite disappeared, and nothing more was heard of him, many of the good sisters and kind-hearted nurses were really sorry to have lost him. None more so than Sister Agnes. Sister Agnes was the brightest, cleverest, and most devoted nurse that could be imagined. She never wearied of her work, never grew snappy and huffy, as the best of women will when worn and weary with hard work and watching. She never seemed to need rest; that is to say, she never exhibited in her perfect temper the strain upon her system which her heavy duties entailed. She was not only the intimate personal friend of all the nurses under her, but she made it her business to aid in a thousand ways all her patients and smooth their pillows by the many sweet attentions such a loving woman could bestow. She was the widow of a clergyman who had died two years after his marriage, and having no family she was free to follow a long cherished desire, and so devoted herself and her admirable talents to the sacred office of nursing. She was tall and dark, with charming wavy hair and a healthy, not to say ruddy, complexion, which bespoke more than the usual health of a London woman. Deeply religious, 165 of High Church principles, she was yet entirely free from those prejudices against other forms of belief which often detract from the usefulness of a hospital sister. It was enough for her to know that a patient loved her Master, in whatever outward form that love was expressed, to make Sister Agnes at once a friend. In many a way she contrived to instil even into the hearts of the most indifferent some thought of better things, some hope of a life beyond. Most of her patients left her wards the better for having come into contact with her. Sister Agnes often said she had observed in Elsworth traits that promised a great and useful man, and she was always unwilling to believe that he had gone wrong in any way. For many months past she had found difficulties in her work at St. Bernard’s in consequence of the growing dissatisfaction she felt at the conduct of most of the doctors who attended her patients. It pained her and roused her indignation that needless and dangerous things were constantly done to patients who had no idea of their import, and who would have protested with all their might if the opportunity had been given them. Valuable lives of patients who had become her friends had been sacrificed to the growing taste for novelty in methods and instruments, daily introduced from all parts of the world. What one man had done in Berlin must be imitated here, and what had proved fatal in New York was tried at St. Bernard’s in the hope of better success and the increased reputation of the operator. One man extirpated one organ and one another; one resected this and another that, till poor Sister Agnes began to wonder what, and if any, part of the frame would ultimately claim exemption from the rage for taking it away. And she was expected to do her part in paving the road for all these mutilations. The wiser she grew, and the more she learned of her business, the more she saw that much, if not most, of all this was not for the patient’s good; and no wonder she began to rebel. She was brought principally in contact with Dr. Stanforth, who was the chief physician of the women’s wards. 166 Not alone did she object to his professional methods, but the manner he used in the wards. It was neither useful nor expedient for Dr. Stanforth to regale his class, in the presence of herself and nurses, with his most salacious anecdotes, his coarse allusions and indecent jokes. Some patients no doubt enjoyed them, but these were a minority which should have been made better instead of worse by living in the hospital. To most, however, these things were painful in the extreme. It required better health and stronger nerves than the women generally possessed to cope with Dr. Stanforth and his rollicking lads. The valley of the shadow of death is an ill place for satyric abominations. The sympathetic nerves of the poor sister’s face were too habituated to Dr. Stanforth’s little ways to cause her cheeks to flush at all of their manifestations, but there were times when her indignation would make her turn away with her note-book and inkstand, and remove out of earshot. At such times the funny man would apologise in a way which only made matters worse, and she would often wonder in her own mind how much longer she could or ought to be a party to these improprieties.



He was happier using the knife than in trying to save the limb.—Tennyson.

And whom have ye knowen die honestly
Without help of the Poticary?—Heywood.

Dr. Stanforth was considered a model hospital physician—for the students. They were ever the first in his thoughts; to touch one of them was to touch the apple of his eye. He lived for them (and by them), yet he never allowed any of his patients to suspect anything of the kind. There was nothing he grudged his pupils, and they consequently worshipped him. To serve any of his boys he would sacrifice the feelings of any interesting bit of “clinical material” that came in his way, and he boasted that he turned out more proficient practitioners than any one of his colleagues. His methods were startling even to them, and many were the wrinkles he put them up to. His fame in his speciality—gynæcology, was so great, and his really remarkable abilities so well recognised, that nothing he did, startling though it was to the outside world, diminished the crowds of patients who flocked to his consulting rooms. Of course he had the bonhomie and social tact that are needful in attaching young men to a teacher; he was, in addition, able to prove to them that by attending his practice they were acquiring a practical knowledge of their work which they could obtain in no other way.

Dr. Stanforth held all his patients at the disposal of any pupil of his who desired to do or see something new. “Do 168 what you like, my lad,” he used to say to a favourite assistant. “You are in these wards to learn all you can, and all my beds are at your service. Would you like to do a gastrotomy? You ought to do one or two before you leave; it’s a very pretty operation. I never knew a case survive more than a week; but there’s nothing like trying, and if you pick out a case that must die any way, you are welcome to use any of my cases that we can get to consent: and with Sister Agnes’ help—Sister is capital at getting consent to anything, aren’t you Sister?—it can generally be managed. Yes, you had better do one or two; it will be a fashionable operation before long. Rabbits do very well with it, better than dogs in my hands; but humans don’t take nicely to it at all. Now, don’t scruple to let me know anything you’d like to do. I owe you something good for keeping that pretty Pemphigus going so nicely while I was on my holiday—very good of you, very good indeed—I sha’n’t forget you; bye-bye.”

At what awful cost all this was to the “material” he never troubled to estimate. The scandal at last got too strong for St. Bernard’s, and he was soon promoted “out of the opportunities of his art”—as he complained.

“Sister, let us have another patient!” said Dr. Stanforth, on one occasion, just as one might say, “Hand me another chair,” or “Bring me another book.” It was in the private operating room at St. Bernard’s, screened off from the ward specially set apart for women. The assistant physician of this important department had invented a new apparatus for administering anæsthetics, and it was tried that day for the first time—tried on hospital patients first, of course. It promised materially to assist in bringing the patient under the influence of the anæsthetic with rapidity and comfort. Being a complicated machine, with various ingeniously constructed valves, it was not by any means an easy thing to manage, and the least error might have fatal consequences; it would never do, therefore, to use such a thing out of doors till all its bearings 169 had been taken at the hospital, where any mishap could be adroitly attributed to some other cause. Long before one dare use such a thing on Lady Millefleurs, its capabilities and little eccentricities must be exhibited on the unimportant carcass of Eliza Smith; and so it fell out that day that a little knot of students, interested in giving chloroform or ether, with due address, were assembled to see the working of this pretty bit of mechanism.

Dr. Stanforth was an amiable creature, who lived and worked for, and devoted all his energies to his “boys,” as he called his students; for them he spared his patients neither shame nor pang; for them his beds were occupied by so much “teaching stuff.” He was skilful to cure, but at St. Bernard’s he often forebore to cure too rapidly, lest the “pretty case” might get well before all his boys had had their fill of it. It was far better, he used to say, that a patient should “bide a wee,” if any interest attached to her case, than that any budding obstetrician should leave the hospital imperfectly equipped with all the weapons he required. “Have as many patients as you want, my lad,” he said; “let us get the thing right while we are about it.” “The thing” was the new apparatus, and on its first trial on patient number one, had narrowly escaped sending her to kingdom come by suffocation. She appeared to be “going off lovely,” as funny Mr. Philips said, till Dr. Stanforth, suddenly turning round in the middle of a droll story about his friend “Wales and the actress,” seized the patient’s hand, and declared she was “going” in quite another sense. Artificial respiration was performed, and the woman restored to life and consciousness. It was generous not to subject her to any further experiment that day, and she was sent back to her bed, which she had not left for any benefit likely, under any circumstances, to accrue to herself, while the instrument which had so terribly failed was carefully examined for the cause of the mishap. On taking it to pieces, a mechanical genius amongst the students found that a valve had 170 got fixed, and as it was speedily put to rights, the operator was encouraged by Dr. Stanforth with “Better luck next time my boy. Sister, let us have another patient!” How the sister managed to induce a second woman to undergo a mysterious ordeal, the purport of which she was not permitted to question, and after the experiences of the first victim, which did not appear to the curious ward as having been altogether pleasant, we do not pretend to understand; but hospital sisters who know their business have clever little ways whereby they aid and abet the doctors in their search for wisdom. Sister Agnes had long felt that her conscience was being overstrained at St. Bernard’s. Her work was developing itself as quite other than she had expected when she gave herself up to the life of a nurse. These good women, at any rate, had a lofty ideal, and followed it with no hope of other than its own reward. They were not seeking fame, or money, or any worldly reward; it was no wonder therefore that a noble-minded woman like Sister Agnes should see that unless the great work of her life, for which she had given up all else, were undeviatingly followed, she at any rate had failed in attaining her mission. It was not to help doctors to get knowledge; it was not by trickery and “white lies,” used to induce defenceless sufferers to submit to horrible ordeals, and indescribably painful examinations for no benefit to themselves, but simply to teach their business to young men, that she had devoted herself to work in the wards of a general hospital. And daily the conduct of Dr. Stanforth and his assistants clearly showed that the patient’s benefit was quite a secondary object, and the chief end of his or her residence in the wards of St. Bernard’s was precisely that of an artist’s model visiting a studio. Very good, doubtless, in its way, but not what the main body of hospital subscribers intend; still less what the patients come for, and only partially, surely, what such as she had left the world to aid. In a word, she saw plainly that the whole system of the modern hospital in great cities was a gigantic sham, a cruel 171 fraud on the subscribers, and an atrocious delusion and a snare to the patients themselves.

How difficult a task it would be to convince the world of all this! What an Augean stable for a weak woman to cleanse! Then again nothing annoys the public more than to open the doors of its whited sepulchres. Of course, it was no use to condemn the present system without putting something better in its place. The workhouse infirmary was far better in one sense; there, the object was to help the patient to get well as speedily as possible, and take himself off the books; but there attaches a stigma to the infirmary from which the hospital is free, yet the hospital must be reformed on the model, in some respects, of the infirmaries.

The sister was a clever woman, a woman of ample means, and with great influence; why should not this be her life-work to found a new order of charity? It had been the work of many a noble woman to do greater things than this, and with apparently less foothold; and that night, before she went to rest, she prayed that strength and wisdom might be given to her to carry out the scheme which was taking hold upon her heart. “I shall want half a million of money to make a beginning. What is that? A man dies, and leaves a quarter of a million to a college of anatomy and surgery, to be spent in skeletons and pickled specimens of curious fish and odd deformities. Many a man’s picture gallery has had that spent upon it; it might buy a moderately good ironclad; would make a mile or two of suburban railway, and execute a few hundred yards of submarine tunnel. Somebody will come along who will see with me that humanity and cruelty, whom God hath disjoined eternally, shall not be forced into unholy union. Let me be the Joan of Arc to fight this out.”

But not yet. She must arrange her plan of campaign, collect her forces. So enormous a task must demand an adequate inception, and though she shrank from nothing, she ventured nothing rashly.



His story would not have been worth one farthing if He had made the hat of him whom he represented one inch narrower.—Steele.

Natural ferocity makes fewer cruel people than self love.—La Rochefoucauld.

Dr. Stanforth knew everybody, from “a very exalted personage,” with whom he led the students to believe he was on terms of close intimacy, down to the most insignificant disciple of Galen who had ever been connected with the hospital. He never permitted a patient to baffle him; he always pretended that he knew all about him or her, and had his or her medical history at his fingers’ ends. His days in the out-patients’ rooms were looked forward to by the students with delight. He was so droll; he teased the pert and knowing patients worse than any Old Bailey barrister. “There was no getting over Stanforth,” they declared; “he was too much for the artfullest of ’em.” His bete noir was the over-dressed, robust, viragoish lady patient, who could well afford to pay for medical advice, but wanted it for nothing.

“Put out your tongue, madam.”

The lady complied. Carefully adjusting his gold eye-glasses, he would minutely inspect it.

“Did I understand you to say you were a strict teetotaler?”

“No, sir, I am not exactly that: but it’s little I ever touch except a glass of beer with my dinner.”

No spirits, madam?”

173 “Very seldom, sir.”

Dr. Stanforth would take off his glasses, carefully wipe them with his handkerchief, and readjust them.

“Permit me to see your tongue again, madam. Um—ah—h—h.” Then, after looking at the organ closely for some moments, he would ask, incredulously—

“You never take spirits, madam?”

“I said very seldom, doctor—never more than a teaspoonful of brandy in a little water the last thing at night. You know you told I might do that last time I was here.”

“One teaspoonful, madam?” with another scrutiny of the tongue; “only one teaspoonful of brandy?”

“That is all, sir,” said the patient, bridling up and getting restive.

Dr. Stanforth took off his glasses, folded them, and leaning back in his chair, asked in his blandest tones, “Pray, where do you procure your brandy? It must be very strong. I can get none so good!”

The woman would bear no more roasting that day, and having taken her prescription, left the room, the assembled students heartily enjoying her discomfiture.

The way to annoy him and put him on his mettle was for a lady patient to object to an examination in the presence of his very large class of students.

“Can’t I see you privately, doctor?”


“Well, sir, I do not like to undergo all this before these young gentlemen.”

“You are married, I believe?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you any boys?”

“Two, doctor.”

“Would you like your eldest to be a great physician when he grows up?”

“Oh, yes, indeed I should, if he were clever enough!”

174 “I thought so. Now all these young gentlemen’s mammas have the same desire, and have sent them to me for that purpose. If you don’t help them, they can’t learn to be doctors. Now, nurse, assist this lady to undress.” And, without sparing the poor creature a pang of shame, he would submit her to a degrading ordeal, so that every one of his boys might have the chance of learning that for which, as he said, “they have paid large sums of money.”

To amuse them and impress them with the idea of his wit, he would, in the presence of patient and nurses, often tell shady stories as broad as they were long. Such droll scenes, such lively contests between one weak, suffering woman (for he would never permit a patient to bring mother or friend into his room), and this brilliant physician and his admiring, tittering pupils, made the gynæcological out-patients’ days the great fun of the place. “Beats Punch into fits!” said Murphy. “Never half as much spree at the play!” vowed Robins. But it was poor spree and very mitigated fun to the hundreds of afflicted creatures who sought this great doctor’s aid; for great he was and very skilful, and had saved many thousands of sufferers from pain and discomfort. He was a generous, patient, useful man, and in his private practice was everything that could be desired in a doctor; but he thought, and that thoroughly, that he was at St. Bernard’s first to interest and teach in the completest manner all the men who attended his classes. If in this doctor-factory any sick woman could avail herself of the by-product or waste for her cure or relief, she was heartily welcome. In any case, her attendance served his purpose very well indeed—unless she became troublesome, and refused to comply with some of his too outrageous demands, and then her letter would be taken from her, and marked by the doctor “Refuses treatment,” and she would be escorted out of the hospital by one of the nurses.

Sometimes “a very pretty case,” as they called good clinical subjects, would be taken into the wards, with the assurance 175 that it could only be effectually treated there, but really that it might be daily examined and watched by the students, although it would have done as well or even better at home. Thus he used a bed—at say a cost of a pound a week for two months,—a bed which in another case, far worse but not so interesting, would have been much better engaged. Of course the pupils were not unmindful of all these efforts for their advancement when they got into practice; and as they were daily qualifying, Dr. Stanforth was daily making a number of valuable friends.



The Christ Himself had been no Lawgiver,
Unless He had given the life, too, with the law.
Elizabeth B. Browning.

He hansels not his new experiments on the bodies of his patients, letting loose mad receipts into the sick man’s body, to try how well nature in him will fight against them, whilst himself stands by and sees the battle.—Thomas Fuller.

Darwin spending whole nights watching pots of earth-worms, and studying minutely the habits of these creatures—Thoreau exiling himself from civilization that he might learn how to live cheerfully and healthily, in company with the animals of the forest, are examples of the true method of learning from Nature. There can be no real sympathy with those with whom we have to deal apart from an intense desire to know them intimately. Can we expect to reach the heart of Nature except by the royal road of love?

Elsworth learned this in his voluntary exile,—learned that he could interrogate Nature, get at her secrets and apply them to the healing of mankind, when he had reverently put off the shoes from his feet and entered her temple as a worshipper, rather than as the devastator placing the abomination of desolation in the holy place. The secret of Nature, as of the Lord, is with them that fear her.

To analyse a rose is a poor way of learning the sweetness of 177 its perfume; to master the language of a country is of the first necessity to knowing anything about its people.

The Monte Sagrado is reached by a road made through the hill of the Albayzin, which overhangs it on one side. Everywhere we see masses of enormous Indian figs, or prickly pear, the fruit which for months together forms the chief diet of the gipsy population. They live in a quarter by themselves, outside the city, as did the Jews in their ghettos in Italy. In Granada they are more settled in their habits than in other places, with the exception of Seville. Their dwellings are caves dug out of the hill-side, and it is very curious to see the smoke from their fires issuing from holes in the ground amongst the Indian fig plants. Very dirty and smoky are these grottoes; the only daylight which can enter them comes through the doorway. As a rule, the furniture is of the most wretched description, though some of the burrows are better off in this respect than the rest. These poor folk are much looked down upon by their Spanish rulers, to conciliate whom they pretend to be good Catholics—in the old days of the Inquisition a not unnecessary affectation. They excel in many ingenious trades, best of all in horse dealing and thieving, professions nearly allied in most countries. Social pariahs as they have ever been, it need not excite any surprise that they are depraved and ignorant, though, as they have some noble qualities, they must be capable of great improvement when an age of wider sympathy and diminished race prejudice shall enable their neighbours to do justice to them.

They are at war with mankind because they have always been cruelly oppressed and ill-treated; but as in our own country a George Smith of Coalville and a George Borrow in Spain have found the gipsy character well repay the efforts made to improve it, we may fairly hope Christianity will ultimately conquer even this stubborn race. They are light-hearted, clever, courteous, and forgiving, generous, and kind even, to strangers in distress; great lovers of Nature, and full 178 of affection for dumb creatures; surely in such a race there must be the material for improvement!

Rico, the gipsy king, soon became warmly attached to Elsworth, who spent many a pleasant hour in his sooty hut; pigs, fowls, and children wallowed and grovelled together in the mud-floored cabin, which was more suggestive of the Green Isle than of lordly Spain.

It was worth a journey to Granada to hear and see Rico play the guitar. The instrument only really lives in Spain, elsewhere it is but a feeble, voiceless toy; here it speaks, declaims, rouses and fires the brain, but then that is because the performer and the instrument become one. Rico’s guitar was part of himself, not only the strings but the body of the thing.

Often he would gather round him some of the young men and women of the colony, who would accompany his playing with plantive, weird singing and hand-clapping, in perfect tune, strange Eastern dances, with wild gesticulation and choruses which seemed reminiscences of ancient Greece. In return Elsworth, with hearty, manly sympathy, would recite some sweet narrative from the Gospels, and win his way to the hearts of these poor people by stories of the Saviour’s love.

Amulets, charms, fetishes, all these they knew. How the King of Heaven loved the despised Romany people, this was a strange thing to them which the Englishmen had come to teach. But it touched their hearts, poor outcasts!

When he had completed the translation of the Gospel of St. Luke into their language, they would listen with apparent interest to his reading by hours together. This was not the sort of Christianity that had before been presented to them. In its grand simplicity and manifest adaptation to the wants of these wandering children of Nature, surely here if anywhere, was the ideal religion for them; and as for their teacher, who lived their life and proved in a hundred ways his devotion to their interests, who showed that he loved these 179 people, outcast and despised as they were, because of his honour to them as children of the same Father whom he loved, surely they were bound to treat his mission with respect.

And so four years had gone by. He had journeyed with the gipsies into many parts of Spain, but had always returned to Granada as his home, as the centre for his work and life interest.

How real and earnest a life he was living now! On this lofty height overlooking the historic scenes which had occupied so large a space in the annals of the past, what wonder if to an ardent poetic mind, romantic yet intensely practical, there often came, in moments of deep sympathy with mankind born of the love of God, high aspirations after noble deeds, and the determination, when his hour came, to go down into the arena and bear his part manfully in the fight! No, Elsworth was not skulking in idle retirement; not shirking his share of work; but because of a deep conviction that there was work for him to do which required his retirement to fit him for it he stayed, and did what lay to his hand, and waited for the summons.

The life of the hermits of the Theban Desert was a violation of common sense and true religion, inasmuch as it was all preface and no book; all preparation and girding on of armour, and no work; all tuning of instruments, and no music. The great wonder is, how the fanatics could have stood it so long.

Elsworth found that doctors were not held in nearly such high esteem in Spain as in England. They pursued the barbaric methods of treatment which were in vogue here at the beginning of this century, and which, if followed now, would subject the practitioner to a trial for manslaughter. Spain is so far behind the rest of Europe in everything, that it can easily be imagined how perilous it is for an invalid to fall into the hands of the sangrados even of the present day. The Spaniards are celebrated for their proverbs, not a few of which 180 are aimed at the doctors. A popular rhyme goes like this:—

“And, doctor, do you really think
That asses’ milk I ought to drink?
It cured yourself, I grant it true;
But then ’twas mother’s milk to you!”

His fourth autumn had been passed in Spain, when another terrible epidemic of cholera broke out in Granada and other cities of Andalusia. Now he seemed to learn why he had been sent, hither. Now he could test the reality of his conversion. Now he would realise the dignity of his calling and the strength of his humanity. And he did not flinch.

His skill in sanitary matters and his surgical knowledge stood him in good stead. A good head for mechanics, much common sense, and a readiness of resource had already enabled him to save many of his Gitano friends from the hospitals they so much dreaded. He could mend their broken limbs with extemporised splints, reduce dislocations, and dress wounds antiseptically; and by cheering them by the infusion of his own light-heartedness, shorten their period of convalescence. To be sure, they had their own well-tried methods of cure, which were not so contemptible, though unrecognised in the schools. Having small faith in drugs, and smaller still in their wholesale administration by ignorant and unthinking practitioners, his medicine chest seldom needed replenishing. He valued his opium (Mash Allah, the gift of God, the Turks call it), but administered it with scrupulous care. Quinine was indispensable, and a dozen other well-tried remedies enabled him to work many a cure. But cold water and fresh air, wholesome food and temperance, want few aids from medicine for the ills of man. The wiser the physician the fewer the drugs, and by the length of your doctor’s prescription you may estimate the shallowness of his pretence to wisdom.

Sanitary engineers have done so much for the improvement of the health of towns, that the low death-rate in London and 181 other English cities is more to be attributed to their agency than to improved methods of medical treatment. The wonder is that Spain and Italy are not continually decimated by pestilence. We may see what was the state of England in the time of the Black Death and the Great Plague by the condition of Naples and Granada under recent cholera visitations; the most elementary sanitary precautions being not only neglected but apparently impossible of comprehension by the people generally, so that the soil is always ready for the seeds of disease.

Elsworth was in robust health and vigour while he lived at Granada. Every morning he took two hours’ exercise on his bicycle into the open country of the Vega. His daily bath, the simplicity of his diet, his entire abstention from alcohol, and his scrupulous care to drink no water which he had not himself carefully boiled and filtered, with his cheerful, well-occupied mind, prevented him from taking any complaint during his work amongst the sick. He was well received by the poor folk he visited; and though the local doctors and priests looked coldly on his work, he had no difficulty in finding cases neglected by both, where his services were eagerly welcomed. Ho found amongst the very poor a strange prejudice against the doctors, who were ignorantly accused of giving the disease to the people to lessen the population. This seems to have had its origin in the inoculations practised by a disciple of Pasteur, and which undoubtedly did cause many deaths. There is such a widespread dislike of the priests among Spanish men, not altogether to be marvelled at by those who know the country, that the religious ministrations of this young English surgeon were often acceptable where the public functionary would have had scant courtesy. The authorities of the town recognised his work, and gave him permission to act as a medical man when they had satisfied themselves as to his qualifications. He attempted no concealment. Why should he? The British vice-consul of the city, a wealthy 182 old Scotchman, the head of a firm of mining engineers, soon became a good friend to him. He was a Presbyterian of the good old school, with convictions about the Man of Sin and the Scarlet Lady, and loved Spain chiefly for the lead his firm extracted from the bowels of her mountains. Being a man of considerable standing in the city, and withal highly respected for his probity and charity, he had no difficulty in making easy the sort of work Elsworth aspired to do in the public service.

Naturally the authorities did not at first relish suggestions from a foreigner about improved drainage and water supply, though when they came to know the clever young surgeon, and had listened to his sensible proposals anent accumulations of refuse and dust, they gradually adopted many of his suggestions. Daily he spent many hours visiting amongst the most poverty stricken and dirty inhabitants. He spent the greater part of his income in helping his patients with suitable food and clothing. His missionary work was done by a few kind words here and there; with loving counsels and the sympathy which comes with a sense of the higher relationship of man to man through the All-Father, he won his way to the hearts of all. Virtue went out of him, and health and peace seemed to follow his steps. He was as much at home with the Catholic people of Granada as he would have been in the courts and alleys of London; he was as welcome in the homes of the atheist and gipsy, the red Republican and anarchist, as with the family of the Presbyterian vice-consul; and all because the pervading sense of God’s love for man had taken possession of his life. His sympathies were too wide for the influence of bigotry; he was as a traveller from a far country, who has long been homeless and a wanderer, not at all in the humour to trouble himself with the squabbles of his vestry, or the quarrels of the political clubs of the town he has come back to rest in.

Elsworth had recovered the lost idea of a loving God and Saviour of men. What to him did it matter, all these hair-splitting dogmas and wranglings of theologians? the recovered 183 treasure was too precious to neglect for the ornaments of the casket in which it was contained.

So he daily went about doing good. By his constant visitation of the people he was able to detect the earliest stages of the pestilence which was destroying so many; then by prompt and judicious treatment he was often successful in arresting its progress. His fame spread, and he was often called in to attend rich sufferers, from whom he refused to take any fees, as he considered himself the servant of the poor. If they chose to make him presents, as they often did, he took them with the understanding that their gifts should be devoted to charitable purposes.

He often went to Mr. MacAlister’s home, at the Vice-Consulate, close by the cathedral. The old gentleman was rather afraid of infection; but as the doctor always changed his clothing before paying visits to his friends, he took his word for it that there was no cause for alarm.

He rented at a very low rate, through the kindness of a member of the municipal council, an old monastery which had been taken by the Government on the expulsion of the monks, and was now let to a furniture dealer; and turned it into a small but serviceable hospital for cholera patients. Funds were readily provided for its support, and there was no difficulty in inducing sufferers to avail themselves of it, as was the case with the great hospitals of the place, which they dreaded to enter. They knew they would be safe in Doctor Elsworth’s hands; he wanted to try no experiments upon them, and was not (as they foolishly thought the other doctors were) in league with the Government for getting rid of them.

Mr. MacAlister’s daughters nobly came forward and helped in the nursing. They found amongst their English and American friends resident in the town abundant means for carrying on the plan, without any Spanish assistance in this branch of the work. Spanish ladies, even if available, would have been of little service. Even Spanish nuns are not very 184 valuable as nurses, and the best Catholic charities are recruited from France. Spanish women can do the devotional part of the work, they say; but that is about all they are good for. The bringing up of a Spanish woman tends to make her ornamental merely, and surely she is of the loveliest of her sex. She spends the greater part of her day in bed, rises and adorns herself for dinner; then the tertulia, with its music and dancing winds up her waking hours, and by midnight she is again in bed. This is poor material for making sick nurses or sisters of mercy.

They had only twenty beds in Elsworth’s hospital. Their principal disinfectant was fresh air, for our surgeon was not greatly in love with carbolic acid and the other disinfecting fetishes, which are probably about as powerful for evil and powerless for good as any which the African venerates.



So all the more we need be strong
Against this false and seeming right;
Which none the less is deadly wrong
Because it glitters, clothed in light.

The prince who asked, “Who is she?” when anything went wrong in his kingdom, was not far out in his estimate of the power of woman for mischief; but he would have been wiser had he asked the same question when he heard of any new movement for good. The fact is that, as Coventry Patmore says, women have the power, would they but use it, to make “brutes men, and men divine.” When the selfishness, the thoughtless cruelty, and the greed of men have culminated in some deep-seated, persistent social wrong, it may be taken for granted that the evil will not be uprooted till a woman’s whole-hearted, unselfish courage has taken it in hand. Mr. Ruskin somewhere complains that “no one pays the least attention to what he says on social topics, except a few nice girls, and they can do nothing.” He should not have said that, because he knows better—no one more certainly than he—that his “few nice girls” will bring to pass all that is good in his teaching sooner or later.

Women mend what men mar;—everything, from our linen to our laws.

Sister Agnes knew all this—knew that it was just as certainly some woman’s place to set to work and remedy this shameful abuse of Charity’s holiest work, as it would be her 186 work to restore peace and order to a home wrecked by a man’s selfishness and violence. The more she thought of the matter, the more indignant she felt that no man could be brought to see the awful wrong of exploiting the miseries and diseases of the poor for the purpose of adorning the brows of men with academic laurels. Surely never in the history of this world was so cruel a mockery of charity! Asked for bread, to give a stone! What was this but to give disease for health, maiming for cure, torture for ease, and death for life? And then to go round to those who, in the name of the Healer, were ever ready to sacrifice their substance and give alms out of their penury, for the means to bring more victims to the altar of their Kali! Did not every sister and nurse in the place, with feminine penetration, see through all these shams? Did they not revolt in their souls, day by day and hour by hour, at this mockery of mercy, till, by long use, they forgot to feel the wrong? She had mentioned her misgivings to many men, clergymen chiefly, who saw it all—saw just where the mischief lay, but thought it inseparable from the work that had to be done; knew of its existence, but could see no remedy for it. They declared that every good thing in this world must be bought with a price. But was not this price too high to pay? They did not know, they did not think anybody could even set about estimating that. They did not like to encourage thought or discussion of the question—money was hard enough to get for the hospitals as it was. Breathe but the least on the idea of their utility, and the charitable public, all too ready to withhold its gifts, would cease to subscribe. Hospitals were costly things to establish, still costlier to maintain efficiently. “Let be,” they said; “we can do nothing.” Men always do talk like that in face of such difficulties, but, fortunately, their arguments never yet held back a woman who had set her heart on a great work of love.

Sister Agnes gradually evolved an idea of a great hospital richly endowed and well officered, ruled by a competent 187 governing body, and animated throughout by one idea—to heal by the shortest and most effectual methods, the sufferers who sought its portals; to take as the guiding principle of all the work done there, not possibly better methods for better patients, but the best existing methods for the present occupants of its beds. The motto of the place to be, “Honour all men.” A revolution indeed! A work of such magnitude that its inception seemed Quixotic!

Things, however, had come to this pass that she could no longer retain her position at St. Bernard’s; and feeling that she could do nothing there to elaborate her scheme, she left the hospital, and took time to consider what her next step should be. She did not leave a bit too soon; things had been rather unpleasant of late. There were several patients who, at a hint from her, had taken themselves off from St. Bernard’s with all their limbs about them, who would have gone out minus one or other of these useful appendages had they remained much longer, and the loss of these valuable opportunities had very properly been charged to Sister Agnes’s account. She was accused of not showing sufficient interest in the welfare of the place.



God says, “Sweat
For foreheads;” men say, “Crowns:” and so we are crowned;
Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel,
Which snaps with a secret spring.
Elizabeth B. Browning.
If to the city sped—what waits him there?
To see profusion that he must not share;
To see ten thousand baneful arts combined,
To pamper luxury and thin mankind.
Goldsmith (“Deserted Village”).

What is the perfect life for a Christian man or woman? It was settled once for all by our Lord. “Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor”—and live in a cave, on the top of a column, in a monastic cell, or beg for daily bread from door to door? Would that fulfil the command? The nineteenth century has no place for St. Simeon’s Pillar; the cells of the monks are turned to other uses than that of contemplation, which is not quite in the way of the age of steam and the telegraph; and begging and alms-giving are denounced by students of social economy. What is the precise application, then, of our Saviour’s teaching to the present day? Though deaths from starvation and terrible tales of privation are not uncommon in our great cities, and the condition of the unskilled working classes is particularly unsatisfactory, there is no question that our poor even at their worst are better off by far than those of our Lord’s time. Admitting the work that remains 189 to be done in helping to raise the lower sections of society, it is in a moral rather than a material direction that our efforts must be exerted; and though our Lord’s command to sell all and feed the poor is not perhaps to be interpreted literally, because the literal is not now the highest interpretation of the injunction, yet never was there a time when it was more the duty of Christian people to make great, ay, the greatest sacrifices for their fellow-men than the present. The law provides against the starvation of any human being dwelling in our midst; but it is souls rather than bodies which languish for food, and are fain to be filled with carrion. The separation which many years has been going on between class and class; the locating the workers in quarters given over to dirt, squalor, and dullness; the exodus of the cultivated minds to more congenial sections of our greater towns, where the signs of labour and the noise of work cannot disturb or annoy them; the drawing off the classes from the masses, depriving the poor man of the society, the encouragement, the teaching, the example, the brightness, the wealth, and the culture of the more leisured—it is this which is slowly but surely working, not alone the degradation of the deserted people, but a terrible punishment for the deserters. There is not a work of art, not a lofty aspiration, not a burst of song, not a beautiful face, nor a well-stored intellect, but is part of the heritage of the poor. We have as much right to cut off the poor man’s oxygen or his nitrogen as to deprive him of any of the elements needful for the nourishment of his soul.

Walk through the unlovely streets where the worker dwells in London. Note the changes that have taken place in them during the past fifty years. Once there were mansions in them, where their employers dwelt. Now these deserted places are let off in tenements, since their former occupants have long ago left them for brighter and wealthier parts of the town. Grim, dirty, and neglected parish churches stand in the midst of graveyards filled with the tumble-down monuments of rich 190 residents whose descendants never visit them, scorning to go east of Temple Bar, even to pay their respects to the tombs of their ancestors. Within these temples of prayer the monuments round the walls tell sadly of better days and a prosperity that contrasts oddly with the decadence of the present. Hard work here for the clergy, with much begging from distant and richer parishes to maintain the services and ministrations of the Church, even in their crippled form. True, money is sent from the West, but where are the workers? The men and women who could help the clergy in a hundred ways to mitigate the evil surroundings? And Lady Millefleurs will have to know, sooner or later, that she has not charity, though she sell all her goods to feed the poor, and give her body to be burned, while she will not give herself a living sacrifice to humanity. How is she to do this? How is she to fulfil the command to sell all she has and give to the poor? Simple enough. Give up Belgrave Square and settle in Bethnal Green! Forsake Tyburnia and dwell in Whitechapel! Then, and not till then, will she follow her Master’s commands. Very unpleasant, doubtless; but consider what she would learn. At a great cost she has acquired much human knowledge of a kind, not enough to keep her, perhaps, from falling into the error of the often-quoted lady, who wondered why the poor who could not get bread did not live on those nice twopenny cakes to be had in Bond Street. What good would be done by this retrogression from progress? Just think of a few ways of helping the poor. Look at the East End and suburban vestries, boards of guardians, and public bodies generally. Why are they so corrupt, so hard to move, so gluttonous and backward? That is not far to seek. Consider the mental calibre, the social status, the education and tastes of the men who compose them too generally. The gentry are far away, where they only see the poor as rare and interesting objects on which to bestow Bibles, blankets, soup, and occasional recitations and songs. They spend their days in places where the clergy are compelled 191 to preserve with care a few exotic paupers as specimens, that it may be demonstrated now and then that “the poor ye have always with you.” Granny, in her clean cap, white apron, and neat gown, sitting in a well-scrubbed room, reading the Bible with the help of a pair of horn spectacles, by the side of a not depressingly low fire, is all the idea of poverty with which many a high-born lady has any acquaintance. How about “slumming” which Mr. Punch declared recently was so fashionable? There never was very much of it; there is less now, and that doesn’t count. It never did the least good, nor was it likely it should. The great wrong done to the poor by the complete alienation of the rich cannot be condoned by spasmodic visits to their wretched homes by ladies and gentlemen, who go to see them as they go to the Zoo; by their occasional presence at the opening of a bazaar for a poor church; nor by the exhibition of their well-appointed equipages to the admiring gaze of the denizens of Tourniquet’s Rents. This wrong cannot be remedied by gifts of money, nor by loans of pictures and objets d’art.

It happened that just as Sister Agnes left St. Bernard’s, a number of ladies of wealth and position had formed themselves into a community, without any distinctly religious badge or dogmas, for the purpose of residing together in an East London district. They took a large, old-fashioned house in the Commercial Road, called in a skilful architect and a builder, had it put in thorough repair and properly adapted to the purposes of colonization by the well-to-do. They were women of ample leisure, intelligence, and business capacity, and were impressed by the idea that if one would help the poor and ignorant, it could only be done effectually by teaching them how to help themselves. They did not propose to inculcate the religious opinions of any particular section of the Christian Church; they wore no distinctive dress, had no politics in particular, and were only actuated by a desire to see for themselves what was the real life and what were the real needs of the working people with whom 192 they went to reside. They knew that in a great measure the deplorable unloveliness of East London was due to the fact that it was deserted by people of wealth and capacity for helping their neighbours, and that the best way of doing good in the locality was work and residence there. “The problem was how to make the working people realize their spiritual and social solidarity with the rest of the capital and the kingdom; how to revive their sense of citizenship, with its privileges which they have lost, and its responsibilities which they have forgotten. Among these privileges should be education, rational amusement, and social intercourse, best supplied by local clubs, with their various guilds, classes, and societies. Among the duties, on the other hand, which require to be revived, thrift and prudence stand pre-eminent; and thrift and prudence can only be taught by those who will associate with the people and thus induce them to face the elementary laws of economy. This is especially the case with regard to that population question to which all the other problems are subordinate. The levity with which lads and girls enter upon matrimony without any adequate provision (a levity which would be criminal if it were not so unconscious), can only be met by convincing them that prudence in this matter is a duty which is as fully recognized in other grades of society as it is ignored by themselves. The sympathy and example of educated people living in their midst does more good in all these ways than the foundation of any number of new charitable institutions. Destitute London requires their personal help as well as their subscriptions.”

Such was the plan which had worked so admirably at Oxford House, Bethnal Green, established by a number of Oxford men for just this work; and these good women rightly argued: If such an institution worked by men has been found so useful, how much more effectual would be something on similar, but less ambitious lines, if worked by women! Reform the women, you reform the men and the next generation. Make the home 193 life what it should be, and you have made virtue and decency, not only possible, but easy and pleasant.

It was brave of these good Oxford men to go and live in the gloomiest part of surely the gloomiest and poorest parish of East London; but though they might stimulate the brains of the people amongst whom they laboured, and do good in a thousand ways, it was impossible for them to hope to achieve the influence of women in the home. The men could capture the outworks; women were required to secure the citadel. So they spent their money liberally, and went to work at the courts and alleys that run off right and left of this great thoroughfare from the Docks to the City. One of their great ideas was an hospital for Women and Children—not a place for teaching doctors their business, or giving them scope for their fads,—not “happy hunting grounds” for “cases,” but wards for the restoration to health with all possible speed of sick folk of the neighbourhood who could not effectually be tended at home. It was an axiom with the Lady Head of the Home, which was called Nightingale House, that no sick person should be removed to the hospitals who could be effectually and comfortably treated at home. She argued that we do great harm by making hospitals the universal resource of the lower classes, even of those who have sufficiently comfortable homes. She maintained with great force that much of the tenderness of family life is fostered, nay, created, by the mutual care of parent and child, husband and wife, brother and sister, in seasons of illness and in the hour of death; and held that if we deduct from our feelings all which we owe to sources of this kind, the residue would represent all that we can expect from the working classes under the present system. Thus if the home were not over-crowded and the disease not infectious, she held that it should be nursed and doctored in the family. As much kindly aid and sympathy, as much attention and skill as possible these ladies lent, but there was no removal from home unless absolutely necessary. Sister Agnes was just the woman 194 to be matron of this hospital for women and children; and as the plan was completely to her mind, she was soon installed in her new office.

Sister Agnes had made many friends amongst her patients at St Bernard’s, and many of them and their relatives came to see her at her new home, and sought her advice in their troubles and difficulties. Her great experience and ability enabled her to penetrate to the bottom of many a little mystery. She often wondered how she could so long have been cognisant of the things that took place and had not sooner rebelled. Often a husband or wife who was a patient at the old place would write home, and the letters would be brought to her for her opinion. A poor carman at the docks one day brought her a letter which his wife had sent him the previous day. The poor man did not know what to make of it. His wife had gone to the hospital merely on account of loss of appetite and strength, and the doctors, after “overhauling her like a barge as was in dry dock,” as he expressed it, had come to the conclusion that she had a tumour “somewhere internal,” and if she did not have it taken out she would soon die.

“In course, Mum,” said he, “the doctors ought to know best; but my belief all along is they be nothing but practisin’ on her.”

Then he gave the Sister the letter his wife had sent him; which was expressed in Mrs. Stubbins’ forcible vernacular. The dialect of a denizen of the London slums abounds in idioms, which were intelligible enough to Sister Agnes from long acquaintance, but she could not help smiling as she read the poor woman’s epistle.

St Bernard’s Hospital, 16th July.

Dear Jack,—

“I write these few lines for to let you now how I am gettin along in this plaice. I have bean hear six weaks to-morrer, which is little Jemmie’s birfday. I ain’t undergond the hoperation 195 as I cum for yet, bekos the doctor says my sistem ain’t reddy fur to stand it yet. My patients is allmost gon, Jack, with waitin in suspends so long. Sumtimes I begin to think as the doctors ain’t acting straight with me. They makes a dredful hurtin examinashun everry morning with more’n a dozzun yung stoodents a-lookin on, which ain’t proper in my opinyun, and they talks a lot of Latin and says it is a verry pretty case. One feller sed it was you-neek or somethin of that sort, and Doctor Stanforth would be back in a fortnit and must see it. As for phizzik I swer I ain’t had a drop of anythink but pepermint water sins in this plaice I’ve bin; but I’ve bin pulld about shameful, as ain’t fit for no respectful marrid woman, for what objek I can’t for the life on me see. Now, Jack, do mind and keep Lizzie at her scholin, and don’t let Billy and Polly run wild in the streets. I don’t like meself at all in this plaice, and ef the tumour aint sune tuk out I shall bunk it, so I tell yer strayt. I wish you’d ask Dr. Phelps what thear littel gaim is hear. I beleaf I am only kep as a speciment, bekos my cais is curous; anyhow, I ain’t a-bein dun no good to, and they’ll find I’m sloped afore long. 2 on em in saim ward as me bunked it last week.

“Your lovin wife,
Matilda Stubbins.”

“Now, Mum,” said the man, “what I wanted to ask you was this. Mrs. Foster, our relieving officer’s wife, I have heerd tell had a tumour in her inside, asking your pardon for speaking like that afore a lady; but you don’t mind me, I hopes, and she went to a ladies’ ’orspital in the West End, and they was a-going to take her pretty nigh all to bits, as the sayin’ is, tellin’ her she’d be a dead woman in no time if it warn’t done; and while the poor thing was a-prayin’ and a-screwin’ of her courage up for to have it done, a lady told her how she had bin cured of the same thing by drinkin’ of gallons and gallons of still water, think they called it.”

196 “Distilled water,” said the Sister.

“Maybe your right, lady; anyways, she drunk pretty nigh a hogshead of it, besides wearing a tin bottle full of it hot round her innards, savin’ your presence, and she got well in three months and the tumour went right away. I have heerd Mr. Foster say so hisself. Now I wants to ask you if so be as you thinks as my poor Tilly could be cured with these ’ere waters like that?”

“Well, I can’t tell you that, Stubbins, but if you like I will get a clever doctor I know to see her, and tell us all about the case; but my advice to you, from what I know of St. Bernard’s, is to get her away at once. If the operation must be done, we will find some other hospital, after we have tried what we can do with less severe means.”

Visions of similar cases crowded in upon the good Sister’s recollection—of eviscerated creatures in whom no tumour was discovered to remove; of cases where, on the post-mortem table, sponges, and even instruments, had been discovered carelessly sown up in the patients after operation, and had caused their deaths. Had not Dr. Stanforth ever after said, with a look full of meaning, when about to perform this operation, “Count your sponges, sister!”

Mrs. Stubbins discharged herself from St. Bernard’s without waiting for further treatment, and actually recovered her health perfectly, unassisted even by “still waters.” She always declares that her doctors were like “Helen’s Babies,” who wanted to see the “wheels go round,” and was glad they had not gratified their curiosity on her “works.” Poor woman! she forgave them the wrong they had intended to do her, for in common with her class she believed it was somehow meant for her good, only “they are so fond of hacking folks about at them places.” Good-natured creatures, they sacrifice their poor skins, organs, and limbs, usually with generosity, when a great institution requires it, though the general practitioner cannot touch them with a lancet without protest. It is the éclat does the business.

197 One day an old pavior smashed his hand. The surgeons at St. Bernard’s wanted to remove three fingers. Not before he had been to see Sister Agnes, he thought. Sister Agnes went in for conservative surgery, and told him to refuse his consent. How often had she known a simple method of dressing save the digits in such a case. In three months the man had the complete use of his hand as before the accident, but that didn’t console the house surgeon, whose fingers had itched “to make a neat little job of it.” The pavior was so grateful to the Sister for her advice that he begged her acceptance of his favourite linnet in a nice cage.



Heaven must be won, not dreamed; thy task is set,
Peace was not made for earth, nor rest for thee.
Lyra Apostolica.

And so the medical staff of the Nightingale Hospital of fifty beds consisted of a resident doctor, duly qualified both by nature and the colleges—the only true “double qualification” in this world—with a consulting physician and surgeon of eminence who attended twice a week for a proper fee. This last was not at all an honorary appointment, because doctors never do work for nothing if they can help it, any more than bishops, or even kings; and as they were prevented by the constitution of the place from paying themselves in any of the accustomed ways, substantial cheques had very properly to be drawn. No new operations, no new drugs, no treatment of any kind not well established elsewhere were permitted by the governing body (which had several medical men on its board beside the lay members), because it was held that, however desirable it might be to keep abreast of the science of the day, it was first much more important then and there to get the poor women and children of Commercial Road healed of their diseases as soon as conveniently might be done. Science, as far as Commercial Road folk went, was thus baulked of its prey—no great hindrance probably to the human race. The ladies of Nightingale House had not settled in that locality precisely on scientific grounds: they felt they could safely 199 leave Science in the hands of its devotees, these being probably people so ardently in love with it, that they would sacrifice themselves, their bodies and their feelings on its behalf. The laws of supply and demand would doubtless meet that case as they meet others. This scheme was for quite other and (as the originators thought) better purposes; and the patients took kindly to the idea. They did not mind getting well on empiric methods if the doctors did not object to curing them without knowing why. For their part it was a great deal better to go out whole and sound, unscientifically, than to die according to the highest dictates of science, or hobble away maimed for similar reasons. So it worked well all round. The subscribers secured what they paid for; the patients did not complain of getting well on such terms; the doctors had no cause to grumble. It was only the medical journals which declared that the hospital was not up to the standard demanded by an age like the present.

Two large and well-conducted Convalescent Homes were part of the plan—one situated at Hastings, and the other at Godalming; and these contributed at least as much as the hospital itself to the improved health of the parish.

Now it was objected by those who were not friendly to this place that medical knowledge could never be advanced by such a system, and would stagnate and die, if all hospitals were conducted so selfishly. It was answered that medical science could scarcely be in worse plight than it already was, after all its great opportunities and hecatombs of murdered victims, as admitted by the most eminent medical writers.

No objector to the methods of treatment in our great general hospitals could express himself with more force than Sir Astley Cooper, lecturing to the students of Guy’s Hospital, when he said: “Look, gentlemen, at one hundred patients who come into the hospital. What is the miserable treatment of these patients? You are aware that I scarcely ever enter these wards (the medical wards) of the hospital. I will tell you 200 why I do not enter them. I abstain from entering them because patients are compelled to undergo so infamous a system of treatment that I cannot bear to witness it.... No consideration shall induce me to repress my feelings, and I do say that the present treatment of patients is infamous and disgraceful, for their health is irremediably destroyed.” On another occasion this great surgeon said: “The art of medicine is founded on conjecture and improved by murder.”

Nightingale Hospital could not do worse than this anyway!



There’s a real love of a lie,
Liars find ready-made for lies they make,
As hand for glove, or tongue for sugar-plum.

In nothing have hospitals improved more of late years than in their nursing arrangements. This seems coincident with the High Church movement which has given the sick poor the inestimable boon of being nursed by gentlewomen who have adopted the noble profession of nursing from the love of God and their neighbour—ousting the Gamp and Harris sisterhood to the great advantage of their patients. Previous to the reform of this branch of charity, great scandals were always arising from the ignorance, incompetence, indolence, and drunkenness of the women employed to attend upon the sick. Very often, too, the poor invalids were robbed by these persons; and when their little possessions were not actually filched, it was necessary to bribe their attendants to do their duty, or to omit it, as the case might be. Many blots on the management of St. Bernard’s were traced to this source by the governing body; and when Miss Rackworth, the matron, died, it was determined to thoroughly reorganize the nursing staff on the new system, which had been proved successful in other hospitals.

The first thing which the new matron did after her installation was to make a clearance of the Mrs. Gamp order of nurse. 202 And it was time! The age has outgrown “Sairey” and her set. The old hussies made it their business to “keep in” with the students, as they could help them in many ways, but the patients who did not “tip” them got scant courtesy. The newer order of skilled and educated nurses kept the students within due bounds; and, feeling that their first duty was to the patients, never, if they could prevent it, permitted their interests to be sacrificed to medical education. Podger’s days were numbered when Miss Kemp took up the reins of government.

Podger had of late presumed to send away several minor cases of casualty, with wet bandages of her own application, when she was in her cups; and the matron demanded her dismissal. It was a sad day for poor Podger when she turned her back on the hospital she loved. She had saved a little money, not so much as she ought, but still something for a rainy day. So she took a small house in Chillingworth Street, near Seven Dials, and set up in the “ointment” line. Filling her parlour window with a few gross of willow boxes, such as doctors use for their stuff, she announced, “Mrs. Podger’s Old Nurses’ Salve for Bad Legs, Boils, etc.,” and published some remarkable cases, which soon brought a little grist to her mill. But she had also furnished apartments to let, and these were taken by a middle-aged lady in the “medium” line of business—Mrs. Sabina Allen she was called. She was of more than middle stature, with jet-black hair, good features, and a general cheap tragedy-queen aspect. She converted Podger in a month, and with the assistance of her little stone jar of “Old Tom,” made her see the ghosts of her deceased relatives floating about the house in the “most permiscuous manner.” Podger was no sooner a disciple of advanced spiritualism, than she entered into partnership with her lodger, and inserted advertisements in The Medium Light and Daybreak, announcing that public séances were held at 15 Chillingworth Street, every Sunday evening, at eight o’clock.

203 The first Sunday, some seventeen persons attended, and the collection was a great success, as it amounted to no less a sum than eight shillings and sixpence. Dreams of wealth began to float through the brains of the sibyls. Podger did not admit all comers; they had to pass a “preliminary” in the passage before they went upstairs. Podger was the examiner. When the bell rang, she answered it. The applicant would request admission to the séance.

“Are you a spiritualist?”


“What journal do you read?”


“Do you know any of our friends?”

“Yes; a Mr. Lapworth and a Miss Clegg who attend here.”

“All right, you can come up.”

Then you were led by Podger into a first-floor front room, very frowsy, dark, and stuffy, in which the chairs were arranged in a semi-circle, facing a big chintz-covered sofa. There was a cabinet or screen in front of a cupboard on the left of the fireplace, covered with black cloth, which material also closely draped the windows, and excluded the light from the street lamps and the public-house opposite. The room was already nearly filled, and, in a few minutes, the medium entered, and took her seat on the sofa, with Podger on her left, by the cabinet. When she had seated herself, you saw that the long greasy mark on the wall-paper behind the couch was caused by the contact of the medium’s head as she leaned back fanning herself, and looking pale and weary. The company, on the occasion we describe, consisted of eleven women, more or less young, evidently work-women, and six men. Eight o’clock having struck, Podger put out the gas, and left the room in total darkness, and then struck up a hymn,—

“Shall we gather at the river?”

which was very well sung by the little congregation. By the 204 time the hymn was finished, the medium had begun to breathe heavily, and occasionally draw deep sighs. When all was silent she began to speak in a queer tone, and Podger announced that it was the spirit of an ancient Egyptian who had entered into the medium temporarily, and who was about to describe what he saw round the heads of the visitors, amongst whom to-night was Janet Spriggs, niece of Mrs. Podger. She was Mrs. Crowe’s maid, and had recently made the acquaintance of Mr. Mole, who had frequent occasion to visit the house on business connected with the Laboratory. The ancient Egyptian declared he saw a vision of a field of waving corn behind Janet’s head, which her aunt interpreted to mean coming prosperity of extraordinary extent; he also saw her seated in a chariot, drawn by horses like those of Pharaoh, and waited upon by slaves of the desert (this was declared to mean she would ride in her own carriage, and have servants of her own); that he also saw Imhotep, the son of Ptah and Pakht, bringing one of his disciples to marry her (Mrs. Podger interpreted this to mean she should wed a young doctor); that an evil spirit was in the house where she lived who meant mischief, and indicated perhaps a speedy visit to the spirit world for a lady who abode there (this was not further explained, as Jenny seemed to know all about it).

As each visitor was permitted to ask any question he liked of the Egyptian gentleman, the fortune-telling business went briskly on till closing time, when everybody felt that they had had a very fair sixpennyworth, and went home to dream of the things in store for them.

“Spirit lights” had floated all about the room, accompanied by handbells, daubed with luminous paint, and agitated by unseen hands. The entertainment was altogether a very eerie affair, and no doubt contributed its quota towards manufacturing mental disorders for the neighbouring asylum.

It was very droll to see the old nurse in her new character. She had, in a few months, cast off most of her hospital peculiarities, 205 and had picked up from the medium an ample vocabulary of spiritualist terms.

They worked together in harness very well. Podger was the jackal who provided the material for the medium to work upon; she got to know all the secrets of the folks who came to the séances, and by her wide acquaintance and powers of ferreting out all about people, kept Mrs. Allen well supplied with provender for the Egyptian and other familiar spirits who hovered about Chillingworth Street.

Mr. Mole never attended the séances, but he frequently saw the ex-nurse, and, by judicious hints, secured to himself the benefits of her niece’s co-operation.



He needed her no longer,
Each day it grew more plain;
First with a startled wonder,
Then with a wondering pain.
“You are sick, that’s sure”—they say;
“Sick of what?”—they disagree.
“’Tis the brain”—thinks Doctor A;
“’Tis the heart”—holds Doctor B;
“The liver—my life I’d lay!”
“The lungs!” “The lights!”
Ah me!

Mr. Crowe was an intensely selfish man, but he had never found his favourite vice a profitable one. Regardless of the feelings of others, he found all the world against him; and his heart, entertaining no good company, was occupied by the evil tenants always on the look-out for such lodgings.

His marriage had brought him nothing but disappointment; his wife, finding him at first indifferent to her society, became at last herself unfit to entertain any one. Her life was no less a burden to herself than to him.

Neglected, and all but ignored, her temper became daily more intolerable; and soon, from a bright, happy woman, she became a morose and shrewish invalid, occupied only with the thoughts of her wrongs.

207 Because she no longer pleased her husband, she soon grew to be troublesome; and when such a man as Mr. Crowe realizes that state of things, the wish to be rid of it is never far distant from his thoughts. At first a scarcely defined, but soon a clearer shape of deadly intention formed itself before him, and found entertainment in his heart.

What wonder? He had been a murderer half his life in a licensed and acknowledged sense. What pain had he ever spared to secure his ends? What thought for others had ever interfered with his pursuits?

To abstain from putting out of the way of his pleasure and advancement a troublesome wife might be a concession to the prejudices of society. It was certainly only because such a process was condemned by law that he forbore at present to adopt it. He had reasons in abundance to satisfy his own mind that such a method of ridding himself of annoyance was justifiable. It is to be feared that if the murder spirit were to write his reminiscences he could tell some ugly stories of very respectable houses which had exhibited invitations to him to call when on his rounds. Sick people, when their illness lasts an inordinate length of time, must be often wished out of the way, else doctors would not be so frequently asked by over-anxious relatives and friends, “Don’t you think it would be a blessing if the Lord would take him, sir?”

It was a favourite reply of Dr. Stanforth’s to this question, “Very likely, but I am not the Lord.”

How very fortunate it is that our thoughts cannot all be read, and that we can obscure the windows in our breasts from too inquisitive observation!

It must have been very trying to such an experimenter to have to adopt a roundabout method to release himself from his bonds, when he knew of so many pleasant and simple processes of hastening the departure of lingering mortals on the banks of Jordan. There were, however, two perfectly legal, not to say most fashionable, means of facilitating the descent into 208 Hades which he was free to adopt; certain enough, though perhaps a little tedious-viz., Brandy and Chloral; and both quite to the victim’s taste. You could not call Mr. Crowe a generous man, yet he never stinted his wife’s brandy. It was everywhere convenient, and its supply always replenished. There is no law against liberal housekeeping arrangements. Some people, however, take a great deal of killing by alcohol, and Mrs. Crowe seemed obstinately to live for the purpose of confuting the highest medical opinions as to the prognosis of her case. Clearly the cirrhosis was shortening her life in a very languid manner. But the doses of chloral, to which she took very kindly, could be increased, and this was done with better prospects of success. Of course Mr. Crowe took care to let her have the advice of the most eminent of his colleagues, who each diagnosed the disorder from which she suffered according to his own speciality. The eminent heart-specialist considered it the most curious “presystolic” case he had seen for some time. But then the liver and stomach man smiled incredulously when his turn came, and found plenty to interest him also, while he made no account at all of his colleague’s discovery. Then the brain man came along, and said the liver was to ordinary doctors what the devil was to theologians, a very ill-used personality indeed, and generally a mere cover for a diagnosis which puzzled them. For his part, he had decided the mischief to be in the grey matter of one of the frontal convolutions of the brain. The gynæcologist laughed at all the others, and declared that if his delightful branch of science received more attention in the medical world, the profession would make the healing art worthy of the age, which at present it was very far from being.

As they stepped into their carriages after these examinations, each sighed deeply to think how ignorant the other was of the science of medicine, and heartily thanked Providence that they had devoted themselves to their particular speciality.

They ordered that neither stimulants nor chloral should be 209 allowed, and ostensibly both were banished; but as Mrs. Crowe’s servants found little difficulty and no danger in keeping up the supplies, things went on as usual. Her own maid, it will be remembered, was Janet Spriggs, a niece of Nurse Podger. Janet’s private opinion was that, as missus couldn’t eat, she must be kept alive by stimulants; she considered them nourishing and good for ladies in low spirits. Then, as she couldn’t sleep without her draughts, how cruel it would be to deprive her of this means of repose! With the assistance therefore of a neighbouring chemist, the chloral was nightly administered. The chemist had his authority in a prescription of Mr. Crowe’s, which he had repeatedly dispensed without demanding fresh instructions. The worthy pharmacist would not have objected had the paper been brought daily for fifty years. Mr. Crowe never appeared to scrutinise his accounts very closely. Certainly he took no exception whatever to the amount of drugs swallowed by his wife. And so Olympia became a hopeless imbecile.

How she lived was a mystery. A little jelly, a custard, a few spoonfuls of beef tea, a morsel of Brand’s Essence, and her alcohol, helped her to drag on her existence from day to day. Yet for the past two years she had not appeared to be getting much weaker. She had no real kindness from any one about her. Her maid paid her all the attention which could be expected from a servant who did not really love her mistress. But this did not interfere with her “day out,” her “weekly evening,” or her love-making; for Janet was in love, and the object of her heart’s adoration was Mr. Walter Mole. Janet “looked high,” as cook said. Spriggs was a pretty, well-built girl, and it was prophesied in the kitchen that she would “ride in her carriage” some day. Mr. Mole often came to the house on professional business with Mr. Crowe, and though he was extremely discreet in the company of his superiors, was not above a little diversion with the servants when favourable occasions arose. Often of a night when he left Mr. Crowe’s study by the front door he would run down the area steps to 210 have a chat with “pretty little Spriggie,” as he called her, and had frequently met her by appointment on the occasions when her holidays came round; but all this, on both sides, was with the greatest circumspection. Of course her fellow-servants were in the secret; but as no man was kept at Mr. Crowe’s, and as poor Mrs. Crowe was not in a condition to receive confidences, there was no fear of gossip reaching the dining-room, for the unapproachable master would have snapped the head off any domestic who had attempted disclosures with him. Mr. Mole’s little flirtation was not likely to get abroad, and poor Janet went on losing her silly little heart, and dreaming of being one day mistress of an establishment of her own, when her Walter should place her in the position she felt she was born to fill.

Now Mr. Mole’s attentions were not wholly caused by the tender passion. He had long had dark and deep suspicion of his chief. Scientific secrets were concealed from him, of that he was sure. He was carrying out a long course of physiological experiment, the object of which Mr. Mole was unable to fathom, and he was not the sort of man to be kept out of a good thing willingly. A great number of animals had been used up for some unexplained reasons, and always at night; some at the hospital laboratory, and others, as he had reason to suspect, at Crowe’s own home. Numerous square cases had from time to time been sent in from Odessa and other Russian towns. These were never opened in Mr. Mole’s presence, but were always reserved till the nights when Mr. Crowe worked alone. Never had he succeeded in finding even one of the empty cases. What could Mr. Crowe want from Russia which must be kept so very secret?

For months this question had agitated the breast of our inquisitive little physiologist, and he seemed no nearer its solution than when he first set his brains to work upon it. One day, however, he picked up under his employer’s desk a small pamphlet printed in characters of a language with which he 211 was quite unfamiliar. It was something like Greek, but he knew it was not that. However, he thought it was good enough to take pains about, so he went to an office in Fleet Street which advertised itself as willing to translate anything into anything in the world of human speech. He found that the pamphlet in question was in the Russian language, and was a treatise on the poison of mushrooms written by a professor of toxicology at Moscow. It gave a very curious account of the symptoms produced in various mammals by the administration of the active principles of several poisonous fungi, and urged that they should be tried by some doctor, having proper convenience for doing so, on hospital patients, with a view to the investigation of the symptoms produced by them on human beings. Mr. Mole paid his translation fee and preserved his notes for future use, restoring the Russian pamphlet to the laboratory from which he had taken it.

He was still puzzled at the secrecy shown by Mr. Crowe, having often before assisted him in the investigation of the action of the most deadly and obscure vegetable poisons, which were always tried on some of the unfortunate patients with more or less valuable results.

One day, when visiting Janet at her aunt’s home by appointment, Mr. Mole confided to her his desire to know what those foreign boxes contained which he had discovered at the laboratory, and asked her if she had ever observed such things in her master’s rooms? Spriggs said she had not noticed them, but would oblige him by keeping a sharp look-out; and shortly after, to his great delight, she handed him one which she had abstracted from a cupboard in the study. It was empty, but Mr. Mole took it home with a view to closer scrutiny. In the corner of the box, which was of thin deal, he found a brown powder, which he subjected to careful microscopical examination, and was not long in proving to his complete satisfaction that it consisted of the spores of some mushroom, of a species which he was not precisely able to determine. However, he 212 had satisfied himself that certain kinds of Russian fungi were imported by Mr. Crowe for some mysterious purpose. Some months after this he was on a visit to the kitchen when the other servants were absent temporarily, and Spriggs was preparing for her mistress a small dish of stewed mushrooms, of which she was able to partake with more relish than she showed for her other food. Spriggs told him that her master had ordered her to let her mistress have them as often as she liked, as they were very good for her complaint. He did not at the time attach any importance to this discovery; but when a few days after a case of mushroom poisoning of a whole family was reported at the hospital, he remembered the circumstance, and took copious notes of the cases. In the college Library he turned up from the files of the Lancet all the cases he could find of poisoning by fungi, and soon had a very clear idea of the peculiar symptoms of such cases, after which he began a course of experiments for himself. At first he thought Mr. Crowe was engaged on some monograph on the subject that was to bring him distinction, especially as he noticed in the wards set apart to his principal’s cases, symptoms more or less severe, which he had no doubt were due to small doses of some such agent as Muscarin, Lorchelin, or Bulbosin, the active principles of poisonous mushrooms. On examining the prescriptions for the medicines which these patients were taking, he found that his ideas were correct, and that Mr. Crowe had been exhibiting these poisons in minute doses to all of them. He made no remark, but obtaining a supply from the dispenser, tried their effect in various doses on a number of animals which he kept for such purposes in one of the subterranean chambers under the pathological rooms. It was not long before Mr. Mole was in possession of quite a fund of information relating to the use of these potent drugs.

He found, to his horror, that in none of the papers or books which he could find bearing on the subject was there a record of any re-agent or test that could be relied upon for the detection 213 of the poison after it had been taken internally. Other poisons had their respective tests, but these deadly principles existing in fungi could be administered criminally with little chance of detection, and no chemist would be able to prove their presence in food or drink to the satisfaction of any jury.



Let me be sick myself if sometimes the malady of my patient be not a disease to me. I desire rather to cure his infirmities than my own necessities.—Sir Thomas Browne.

We own that numbers join with care and skill,
A temperate judgment, a devoted will;
Men who suppress their feelings, but who feel
The painful symptoms they delight to heal.—Crabbe.

As Mr. Crowe had evidently been for many months engaged in this particular branch of research, it occurred to his assistant that it would be a good idea to take up the same line himself. He was piqued that any new discoveries should be kept from him; and as he had devoted himself heartily to the interests of his chief, he felt he should have been permitted to share in so interesting a study as this promised to be. He had done much valuable microscopical work for the school and the curator of the museum, and here was an opportunity of still further glory. He got his firm of translators to write him an order to the Russian agents for the drugs and the fungi from which they were manufactured, and had the journals and books which recorded Professor Oppenheim’s discoveries sent to his private address. He went further than this. He had often rendered services to one Dr. Newberry Sones, an analyst and specialist in toxicology, who lived in a turning out of Wardour Street, and he determined to enlist him as a partner in the chemical part of his work.

215 Dr. Sones was not in any way connected with St. Bernard’s, nor did he even know Mr. Crowe, except by repute.

Dr. Sones was the parish surgeon of his district, and had a large and lucrative practice amongst the poor folk of his neighbourhood. He was an energetic man, and got through an amount of work in the course of his long day which amazed less active men. He had a hobby as every one has who is good for anything, more especially every medical man. If he has none, his mind becomes unhealthy from the nature of his calling. This hobby was analytical chemistry. When his day’s work was done he retired with a sigh of relief to his well-ordered laboratory at the top of his house, where he could carry on his experiments without fear of interruption. Much good work had been done in this place, for its owner was no amateur. He had written papers for half the chemical journals of Europe, and had earned an honourable name for the accuracy and utility of his research. He always declined work of a medico-legal nature, as he detested law and police courts, which would have interfered with his pursuits, in which he was perfectly happy; and, as he knew that change of work was as good as play, he never repined when a sick call took him from an interesting bit of research to help some poor sufferer. As he grew in prosperity he could afford to keep a qualified assistant, who did his night work for him; there being one thing in life which he dreaded—the sound of the night-bell. He loved his well-earned sleep, and thought it only fair that he should be able to count upon enjoying a good night’s repose if he did an honest day’s work. The room where the speaking-tube and night-bell communicated with the outer world was occupied by a gentleman who had no objection whatever to being called up, and seemed as happy tramping about at night as his employer was miserable at the bare idea of the proceeding. Every man to his taste. It is lucky for folk who are taken ill at ungodly hours that some body can be found to attend with cheerfulness and promptitude 216 at, say, three a.m., when the snow is falling in January, or it is raining cats and dogs; or a genuine pea-soup fog makes the red lamp scarcely visible over the doctor’s door. The poorer the neighbourhood the more these night calls are the rule, because the indigent are often compelled to defer calling in medical aid till the most urgent necessity arises. In addition to this reason, they are more nervous, as they are usually unskilled nurses, and symptoms not really serious often cause the greatest alarm to ignorant persons.

Dr. Sones was beloved by his pauper patients, who knew how to secure his influence with the relieving officer when they wanted “nourishments,” which the doctor knew well were generally more efficient in effecting a cure of their little ailments than the physic he prescribed. His genial way with the poor creatures, his pleasant smile and his hopeful, cheering words were not the least effective armamentaria he bore with him in the treatment of disease. Crabbe’s well-known and admirable description of the consequential parish apothecary, “whose most tender mercy is neglect,” did not apply to Doctor Sones, who was as beloved by his poor clients as he was skilled in aiding them. He had the virtues which the poor always appreciate—sympathy and patience. No tale of impossible affections of disturbed organs in impossible situations ever caused him to speak irritably or hastily, so they poured out their troubles into his willing ears, and were always satisfied with his courtesy, if not relieved by his skill.

Of course, Sones entered with delight into the scheme as unfolded by Mr. Mole. He dearly loved a new line of research; but as he refused to have anything to do with the physiological part of the business, ridiculing the idea as unscientific that the alkaloids to be found would act in the same manner on animals as humans, Mr. Mole had to content himself with getting his chemical work done in the best way possible. And this was really all he wanted. The task was not an easy one, but Sones was just the man for it. When a matter like this took his fancy, he threw his whole soul into the work. 217 He isolated a number of active principles from the hundreds of poisonous fungi which Mr. Mole brought to him, and put them into separate glass tubes, carefully marked with signs corresponding to those which he kept in a register. Mr. Mole was so interested in his pursuit that he actually tested some of these dreadful agents upon himself, after he had tried them on some dogs which had been reserved for the purpose.

Apart from the business he had with the analyst, Mr. Mole always enjoyed his visits to Wardour Street. Those who had once met Newberry Sones and his witty, clever sister Mary, in that hospitable home of theirs in Mulberry Lane, were always glad to go again; and so in the course of a few years they had gathered round them a society of charming people, in whose company the hours flew pleasantly by with high talk of poetry, literature, and with the refining influences of art and music. Mr. Mole found plenty of food for discussion and investigation in the mushroom question, and Sones had worked at little else of late than the isolation of the alkaloids in fungi. His laboratory had long been stocked with baskets full of agarics, morels, and puff-balls; every known poisonous species which collectors could bring in was rigidly submitted to analysis. Especial attention was directed by Mr. Mole to the species which are commonly eaten in Prussia and Russia, but which are never eaten in France, and to those which, though eaten with impunity in France, are considered poisonous in England. The great questions they desired to settle were the circumstances that modify the action of fungi, e.g. cooking, idiosyncrasy, climate, weather, and seasons; all of which are known very greatly to influence the behaviour of mushrooms in the human stomach.

Dr. Sones had nothing to do with the physiological part of the question, and Mr. Mole was dependent mainly for the chemical side of the business on Sones. When Mr. Crowe started on his annual holiday, the various poisonous alkaloids in the fungi had just been isolated by our chemist, and it only awaited a series of experiments on animals to verify the facts 218 which had been discussed relative to their operation. During his absence Dr. Sones had prepared a considerable quantity of these deadly poisons for the use of his friend. The porter at St. Bernard’s had collected a sufficient number of animals of various ages and sizes for Mr. Mole, so that nothing was wanting but the remaining links in the chain of proof to settle once and for all the great question of the causes of mushroom poisoning. One terrible fact greatly impressed Dr. Sones as the result of these determinations: namely, that if the poisonous alkaloid became readily procurable, nothing would be easier than for a criminal to prepare a dish in such a manner that the eater thereof would die, without much chance of detection, owing to the bad reputation of the fungi for terminating life suddenly. He laboured, therefore, long and anxiously to find some reagent or means of detecting the presence of the different alkaloids he had discovered which were capable of causing death in the human species; but hitherto without success.

Dr. Sones had bought his practice of an aged surgeon who had occupied the house over fifty years. He often showed his friends a curious collection of old drugs and medicines that were in actual use in pharmacy in the time of his predecessor. There was a bottle labelled “Moss off a dead man’s skull,” but it was not known how or for what complaint it was administered. There was another horrible mess called “Oil of earth-worms,” besides “Oil of bricks,” and “Powdered tapeworms,” actually administered for those parasites on the similia similibus principle. “Cobwebs,” “Crabs’ eyes,” and “Crabs’ claws,” were at that time regularly used in medicine, the two latter being merely chalk, sold under those names. If one were disposed to laugh at the therapeutic folly of the past generation of doctors, Sones would remind you that quite as absurd and disgusting things have been “strongly recommended by the faculty” in the present day. A prominent medical journal only recently had several articles on the virtues of an “Essence 219 of Cockroaches” of all loathsome remedies! What is there that has not at one time been either a deity or a drug? One of these old bottles contained a preparation from some Russian fungi, which he had not hitherto noticed, and in that he found an important clue to his tests.



He that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun,
Himself is his own dungeon.
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

One lovely autumn evening, just five years after Elsworth went to Spain, two Englishmen were chatting over their wine in the dining-room of the Hotel de los Siete Suelos in the grounds of the Alhambra at Granada, under the red towers of that fairy palace of the Moors. The elder was an exceedingly handsome man of fifty or thereabouts, of commanding presence, a fine, open, honest, intelligent countenance, a voice all suavity and of soothing modulation and persuasive power, he looked every inch the sort of person he was—a fashionable West-End physician, whose clientèle was mostly composed of ladies.

Dr. Garnett Graves, lecturer on gynæcology at St. Bernard’s Hospital, was taking his holiday in Spain this year. His companion was his colleague at the same place—Mr. Malthus Crowe. They were taking their long vacation trip together, and had remained a few days longer at Granada than they had originally intended, because news had reached them that two ladies of their acquaintance were on their way home to England 221 and would take Granada en route. It was of these ladies, expected to arrive by the evening train from Malaga, that these gentlemen were speaking. The talk was of money, and the prospects of the heiress.

Mr. Crowe we know; his companion needs some introduction. He was not a very scientific man, but withal a most successful physician. He managed somehow to do his patients a great deal of good, yet as he did not always know exactly why, some of his colleagues did not see the benefit of it, though the patients certainly did not offer any objection to the cure on this account. His colleagues did not exactly go the length of saying that the patients ought to have refused to be cured on such unscientific conditions; for as their contempt for the mental powers of patients in general was immeasurable, they probably thought them capable of any unscientific meanness. So Dr. Graves was not very popular with the younger and ultra-scientific members of St. Bernard’s staff, though his out-patient waiting-rooms were always crowded with suffering human beings, whose gratitude for his kindly, and generally efficient, help was unbounded. The students liked him and valued his teaching—that is, the younger ones did; but when they had been long enough at the hospital, they, too, came to see that a cure on unscientific grounds and upon doubtful principles was no cure at all; so they pitied his ignorance and turned elsewhere for knowledge.

Mr. Crowe would not have been out of his suitable environment in this very city of Granada had he happened to have been born in Isabella the Catholic’s time. Perhaps he would have made, in some respects, an excellent Inquisitor. Certainly he would have done well for one of the doctors who had to stand in the torture-room to say exactly how much more pain the victim could bear. The days of the Inquisition being run out, Mr. Crowe, as we said, would have been a square man in a round hole if the science of physiology had not demanded an expositor.

222 They were talking, these two doctors, at the Alhambra Hotel, about the only daughter and the orphan child of the great Sir Martin Lee, late consulting physician to St. Bernard’s, who had amassed enormous wealth by the practice of his profession, and recently dying, had left no less a sum than two hundred and fifty thousand pounds to his daughter, beside great legacies to friends and public institutions, amongst which St. Bernard’s came in for its share.

Known to both of the speakers of course was Mildred Lee, who, with her aunt, was expected that night to arrive in Granada, and would then with the two doctors continue the journey homewards.

Mr. Crowe had been a constant visitor at her father’s house, for Sir Martin had great sympathy with his physiological tastes; and though certainly not an original investigator himself, having a more profitable occupation as a fashionable physician, he found it very useful, and even necessary, to keep well ahead with all the research of the day, and to have the reputation for the highest scientific method. When he cured people, he always knew exactly the reason why; but he cured the patient first, and found the reason afterwards. At least, he always maintained that he did this, and never omitted to give the happy patient a popular little lecture on the subject, which sent him, or her, away not only disburdened of the ailment, but conscious of the delightful reflection that his case was an interesting contribution to clinical medicine and its cure the outcome of the study of practical physiology. For a great deal of this Sir Martin Lee sucked the brains of Mr. Crowe, who in his turn found his profit in the transaction, as he, being a surgeon, was often recommended by his more celebrated friend where the patient’s case was not a medical one. Dr. Graves, not being so ardent a devotee of science, and finding no such necessity for assuming a virtue he did not possess, had seldom visited the house in question. A great hospital, with its large medical school, its staff of professors, its physicians, 223 surgeons, assistant physicians and assistant surgeons, its nursing sisters, nurses, dressers, and students, makes up a world in itself, of which the interests, occupations, and pursuits seem to those engaged in it to be almost the only ones of any consequence to them. They must feel this absorbing interest in all that belongs to it, or they would not be fit for their work, and could not continue it efficiently. The study of medicine demands, perhaps, a more complete sacrifice of the whole man than any other profession, except that of the Christian priesthood. To be a competent doctor at all, one must feel an overwhelming interest in the mysteries of health and disease. To be a distinguished doctor the interest must become a lifelong passion; and this, alas! too often closes in the mind of its possessor against the access of any other of the enthusiasms that lay hold of men.

Neither the Church nor the Bar demands so much of its disciples as does Medicine. They allow far more scope for the pursuit of letters than the healing art. We expect a clergyman or a barrister to be a literary man. We are surprised if the doctor, by stealing some hours from his daily avocations, attains even moderate eminence in the path of literature.

“A quarter of a million!” exclaimed Mr. Crowe, as he carved another slice of melon.

“Rather more than less,” said Dr. Graves.

“What will she do with it?”

“Ah! that is just what all the world is wondering!”

“She’ll be a fine catch for somebody!”

“I doubt it. She is not likely to be caught with any of the ordinary baits with which men fish for heiresses. She has a fine brain and ideas of her own which she will be likely to carry out, I fancy, before she is much older—expensive ideas, too, that may melt her fortune like snow before the sun.”

“Oh! but she is not extravagant?”

“No, because she has never yet discovered anything worth spending money upon. Ideas, notions, crazes, run away with 224 a good deal more money than can be spent in Bond Street or the Palais Royal, you know.”

“But she does not want to convert the dwellers on the Congo to Paris fashions and Society journalism?”

“No; but you will find, unless somebody marries her, that she will spend the money on some mad humanitarian scheme quite as ridiculous.”

It was a little remarkable, perhaps, that these gentlemen, who owed their position to the great medical charity which absorbed their daily interests, should object to money being devoted to philanthropic purposes. Probably they had left their benevolent feelings in London when they donned their unprofessional travelling suits, and started for a two-months’ Iberian trip, and put themselves under the influences of history, poetry and romance. It would have taken a great deal of either to have warmed or softened the heart of Mr. Crowe; but Dr. Graves fell speedily under their domination, and became almost a devotee in some of the more magnificent of the historic cathedrals of the peninsula.

On this night, seated at the table, and discussing the wealth and position of his accomplished young friend, the thought crossed Mr. Crowe’s mind, “Were I but free, I should not despair of winning Mildred Lee and her wealth!”

These are dangerous thoughts to enter any man’s mind who has a troublesome wife, especially when that man has no other consideration than for himself alone. He wandered out of the Alhambra grounds and strolled along the road, over the hill, past the massive old red towers which had seen so many tragedies and had heard so often the din of battle for their mastery. He was not romantic, but had read deeply in Spanish history, and knew something of the world which had once been enclosed by those mouldering walls and fortresses. The soothing melody of falling waters and the whispering of the many streams which descend through the richly-wooded slopes to fall into the Genil, down to Granada, make a night 225 under the shadow of the Alhambra a never-to-be-forgotten pleasure, like no other for kindling poetical thoughts and romantic ideas. But not poetry nor romance stirred, this autumn night, the breast of Mr. Crowe. The greed of gold, the thought of all he could achieve if he had the tenth of this woman’s wealth, was moving within him, and he went out to meditate on the matter. Past the gardens of the Generalife, up the hill, through vineyards and fields of prickly pear, by the cactus hedges and the clumps of aloes, under the soft shade of olive groves, on towards the Sierra Nevada, which lifts its sunny peaks to heaven like thrones of pearl above the Alhambra hill, till he found the road stopped by the cemetery wall. Seeking the entrance, he found himself for the first time within a Spanish place of burial. How unlike the quiet solemnity of an English churchyard! The ground was rough and untended; a few aloes were scattered here and there, but with no attempt at orderly arrangement. And where were the graves? In place of the sacred six feet of earth, planted with flowers and marked by beautiful sculpture, inscribed with the touching memorials of the dead, he saw innumerable cells, built in the thickness of the massive walls which surrounded the place, each cell hermetically sealed with a marble tablet, on which were recorded the name and titles of the departed whose remains it inclosed, together with some verses, or quotations from the Missal, in memory of the lost ones. An unpleasant, business-like way of economising space, far too suggestive of lockers in a store, and giving one a sense of insecurity against violation when the space occupied by the corpse should be required for a fresh tenant. As Mr. Crowe was an advocate of cremation, and considered land which would grow potatoes far too valuable to waste on dead people, his susceptibilities were exercised merely by the novelty of the arrangements, and not in any way by a sense of their impropriety. Any way, he considered them good enough for Spaniards, who were far too 226 conservative to have any claim on an advanced thinker like himself.

Running his eye over the long rows of marble tablets which served to seal the openings of the cells which held the coffins, he was struck by the fact that two departed wives of doctors of medicine were amongst those deposited in the west wall. Nothing extraordinary in this—nothing to excite the least remark for most observers; but in Mr. Crowe’s present condition it set him wondering how much longer it would be ere he would be relieved of the now almost intolerable burden of a sick wife. Who stood a better chance with Mildred Lee than he, the old friend of the heiress’s father, himself her tutor? Admired by her for his science he knew he was—why not admired for himself, perhaps, if only free? He had never really loved his wife; he had married her for her fortune, and had been disappointed in its amount. He was not capable of loving anything but wealth and fame. He ardently longed to make some discovery which should bring him prominently before the medical world. To upset the theory of the last German or Frenchman whose work made any noise in the literature of the day, and to establish on the ruins of his reputation a better and more consistent one of his own: this was worth his days and nights of anxious thought, and his toilsome and patient investigation.

So morbid had he become that he looked upon all mankind from a pathological point of view, and it was seldom that he could not detect abnormal processes at work in those with whom he came in contact. His work absorbed him; and when he desired to hold converse with any one, it was on those topics connected with it alone. Possessed of a small patrimony, worth to him some £250 a year, he was compelled to add to his income by taking pupils to “coach” for the higher professional examinations. In this work he was very successful, for he was a painstaking and impressive teacher. He was withal a skilful surgeon, and had made many wonderful cures. He had rooms 227 in a well-known street of doctors, but was consulted with extreme infrequency. His appointment as surgeon to St. Bernard’s did him little good in a pecuniary sense, for no patient liked him; and no man or maid-servant whose health had been restored under his care ever took the least pains to get master or mistress to call him to any case of sickness. Nobody ever thanked him for a cure; nobody ever gave him credit for curing him. A great many poor hospital patients gave him the credit for anything that went wrong with them while under his treatment; but their blame or their praise was equally a matter of indifference to him, who occupied himself only, as he said, with Man in general, especially man in the future, to the utter disregard of the man particular and the man present.

How often man with the big M has robbed and murdered the body and soul of the individual of the race! Was he happy? He had no idea of the meaning of the word; enough for him that complete mental occupation stifled and subdued the rising thoughts ever struggling in his heart to torment him.

*       *       *       *       *

He turned to leave the cemetery. The sun was sinking behind the distant mountains that bounded the western Vega. Amid scenes not to be surpassed for grandeur and beauty on this planet of ours, his thoughts were selfish and mean, and untinged by one ray of the romance or poetry which the surroundings should have imparted to the least cultured mind. He, the distinguished man of science, whose name was known in every physiological laboratory of Europe, beheld all this glory unthrilled by emotion, and scarcely troubled to think, except of the purely physical causes of what he knew were to others sources of the profoundest and most entrancing sentiment. It can be killed—the love of goodness! It can be stifled, suppressed, and destroyed—the heart’s throb of delight at loveliness and grandeur which awakens the emotions of even the untutored savage! And it can be stifled, suppressed, and 228 killed by no surer method than that of coldly formulating, analysing, and materializing, till the sentiments of wonder and worship are dissipated into their elements. To-day, as he turned to leave the cemetery, he thought of his visit, when a boy, to a little churchyard on Bantry Bay, where straying once on a walking tour, he shed tears of joy at first beholding such a wealth of loveliness as met his eyes when they took in the glorious vision.

“I was a little fool then,” he thought.

Behind him was the pearl-crowned range of Nevada; around him were the richest tropical forms of flowers and fruit; below, the towers of the Alhambra, whose every stone was moss-grown with legend and cemented with story. Still below, the grand old city, fragrant with the odour of knightly deeds; and far beyond, stretching into illimitable distance, the lovely Vega, dying away into the vapoury west, behind whose mountain cincture was sinking the sun in a glorious wealth of colour and a momentarily varying richness of shade unimaginable to those who have not watched it set from that same spot where he stood. And he thought but of the spectrum, of Frauenhofer’s lines, of refraction and the absorption of light. His curse was on him, and fructifying. To lose the sense of feeling another’s pain is, in its culmination, to lose the sense of ever feeling pleasure one’s self. As the poet says,—

“Put pain from out the world, what room were left
For thanks to God, for love to man?”

Nature, ever striving to reduce the mountain to the level of the plain by its disintegrating and destructive processes, does but bring earth to earth; while man, repressing his holiest and most exalted emotions to the level of mere physiological processes, reduces spirit to earth. Mr. Crowe had perfectly succeeded. He went to his hotel. The nightingales in Wellington’s elms were singing—not for him; the streams were answering the constant whisper of the leaves—to him it 229 was nothing but gravitation. The fire-flies danced and the moon shed her silver light over all this beauty. Bah! it was easily done in a laboratory! The whole universe was but an expansion of that. To bed, therefore, to rest, and to dream of something grander than scenery, poetry, or romance—money whereby to win a wider, a more enduring, and a more brilliant fame!

Mr. Crowe flattered himself that were he free to ask Mildred to become his wife, he would stand a good chance of being accepted. His long and close connection with her father, his acquaintance, not to say intimate friendship, with herself, the many opportunities time had afforded him of winning her esteem, his growing fame, the respect the world was beginning to show for his achievements in science,—all led him to hope that, were he but disencumbered, he might win the heiress.

Yet, at the rate his wife was sinking, she might last for many months. What was the good of her life to her? Would it not be merciful to terminate such an existence? When it became misery to live, why continue to do so?

Of course he maintained the right we all had to commit suicide. Might not such a man as himself, who had pushed many a poor wretch into Charon’s boat, scientifically hasten her removal?



Grief should be
Like joy, majestic, equable, sedate;
Confirming, cleansing, raising, making free;
Strong to consume small troubles; to commend
Great thoughts, grave thoughts, thoughts lasting to the end.
Aubrey de Vere.

Mildred Lee, at the time of our story, was twenty-eight. She early lost her mother, and now, by the recent death of her father, was left to her own devices. She was fortunate in the devoted attachment of her maiden aunt, Janet, who shared her tastes, and whose views on things in general were, with some important differences, which gave a zest to their discussion, pretty much her own.

Aunt Janet was studious and intellectual, and had exercised a great influence in the development of her niece’s mind. It was she who had formed her tastes, and in a great measure moulded her intellect, while it was yet plastic, on her own exalted pattern. Mildred’s father had been but too glad to confide his only child to her care, and the event proved his wisdom and her salvation, for the devotion of Aunt Janet’s life had found its reward in the beautiful flower of Mildred’s intellectual and moral life, which seemed a reflex of her own. Blessed with Nature’s best endowment at starting, a robust and healthy frame, which often implies a vigorous and healthy mind, Aunt Janet had the initial impetus within her from childhood which 231 kept her always aiming after the noblest and best standard of the good and true. A tendency of phthisis is not the sole cause and stimulus of the religious sentiment, and the strumous diathesis is not the only reason why children take instinctively to books instead of athletics, as some maintain. Certainly none of these things were the causes of Aunt Janet’s devotion to letters, and her constant desire to do something to advance the interests of mankind. The vigour of her thinking capacity, her rapidity in grasping the idea of a subject, her instinctive apprehension of the right way to the essence of things, was equalled by the physical capacity for continued work, and the strain which her system could bear without breaking down or depressing her industry. She was witty, and superabounding in good humour; never dull, never—like so many brilliant leaders of society—the subject of reaction after unusual efforts to amuse and enjoy; but so even, so constant in mental, as in physical health, that all her friends sought her in seasons of depression and mental discomfort, feeling that some subtle healing power for their minds would restore and reinvigorate them. Her niece could have had no better training than the mere daily contact with so normal a mind. Subject of late to fits of melancholy, musing despondently on what she called her unsatisfied longings for a higher life, she was yet daily growing, though she knew it not, into the perfect woman, nourished by all the elements necessary to build up a capacity for a great world’s-work.

Their method was to lose no more time over the small society frivolities, or even its conventional demands, than was absolutely necessary; and when these things were cut down to their lowest convenient point, they found they had time enough to devote to their philanthropic projects and their intellectual pursuits. Aunt Janet had never found time to be in love; she used to say this in a joking manner, but it was perfectly true. Books, and the study of almost everything practicable for her, occupied her whole thoughts from morning till night. Love, 232 she thought, might some day be taken up, when philosophy, botany, and the higher mathematics failed to absorb her; but it was always hidden away in the dim distance, and was as likely to be seriously entertained as a journey to the sources of the Nile. Of the two rather less likely, for distant foreign travel was quite in her line; and as she had more than once packed up and shipped herself off to Eastern climes, for better acquaintance with their history, she might be moved to undertake Central Africa in default of anything better to do. When she undertook the care of her niece, and the superintendence and development of her mind, she found abundant employment, and was busier than ever, so that love and Equatorial Africa receded still farther into distance, and she settled down perfectly contented to be an old maid for life.

Now the influence of such a preceptress on a clever, thoughtful girl like Mildred was just this. She gave herself up to her aunt to learn all she wanted to teach her, and imbibed so much of her spirit and mode of looking at things that she was ashamed to talk, or even think of love, in face of the supreme indifference, if not quite contempt, with which Aunt Janet viewed the tender passion. Her father acquiesced in this state of things. He was too unwilling to part with Mildred, and only hoped the men would keep away from his treasure as long as he wanted it all to himself. Her aunt, for her part, thought her niece much too good to be sacrificed in marriage. It was not the selfishness which animated Dr. Lee that made her wish to keep her niece single, but a real conviction that if a woman could in any way avoid it, marriage was not the best state for her, whatever the world might say to the contrary. As, therefore, she was in no want of a position, what better thing was there for her to do than keep single, be the light of her father’s home, and help her—dear, philanthropic old maid as she was!—in her humanitarian and intellectual schemes—projects which could only be successfully worked out by women, and women who had no husbands, babies, and family ties to engross them, 233 and make them callous to the wants of the great world outside a nursery? If a young woman wants to shield herself from the arrows of Cupid, there is no better defence for her than a wall of books, a science or two, some ologies, and a taste for writing. Behind these bulwarks her pretty face, her figure, her youth, her grace, and her accomplishments are comparatively safe. So Mildred seemed likely to be a second edition of her aunt; and if truth must be told the prospect did not in the least alarm her.

While this calm and uneventful life went on, unbroken by a single disturbing element, each of these happy, pure, and useful women making the world around them better and happier for her presence in it, and reaping in calm contentment the fruits of the good deeds they scattered lavishly, the sad calamity of Sir Martin Lee’s death suddenly fell upon them. Had their lives been hitherto spent in selfish enjoyment of the pleasures of the hour, the blow would have been heavier than it was; but though they were unfamiliar with great troubles of their own, their loving work amongst the poor, the friendless, and the sick had familiarized them with suffering in others, and they knew how to bow the head in meek submission when the storm passed over them, and scattered their hopes in its path. Resignation was now the virtue to be practised, and Mildred did not fail in the hour of trial. A few months after Sir Martin’s death her aunt took her for a long tour through scenes of travel which she was anxious to unfold to her. They had often talked of them, and it was soon resolved to take the St. Gothard route to Italy, and return home by Spain. From Naples they went to Sicily, and made a rather long stay at Taormina, under Etna. It was not till they reached this magnificent spot (perhaps, as has been said, the loveliest on the earth), that Mildred began to recover somewhat from her bereavement. On that lofty height, surrounded by mountain peaks, up which rock-hewn steps led to ancient cities and old-world castles and fortresses, with the great snow-covered volcano rearing its lofty 234 head above the clouds, with the Straits of Messina dividing their shores from those of Calabria, whose purple mountains melted away into the dim distance, she could read the lines which Cardinal Newman wrote amid those scenes with a sweet conviction of their truth.

“Say, hast thou tracked a traveller’s round,
Nor visions met thee there,
Thou could’st but marvel to have found
This blighted world so fair?
And feel an awe within thee rise,
That sinful man should see
Glories far worthier seraphs’ eyes
Than to be shared by thee?
Store them in heart, thou shalt not faint
’Mid coming pains and fears,
As the third heaven once nerved a saint
For fourteen trial years.”

And so from one world-famous spot to another in that panorama of Southern loveliness, they made the tour of Sicily, and at Palermo took the steamer for Malaga. It was a sight to lift up any sorrowful spirit when Mildred went on deck in the early September morning, as the steamer lay at anchor before the beautiful white city, glowing in the roseate hues of the rising sun. High above them the cathedral seemed to stand as the protector of the town, surrounded by palaces, and as its guard, still higher,

“On a lofty hill the castle of Gibralfaro
Seemed to watch the town and bay.”

The harbour, crowded with vessels of all nations, and the busy quays, gave signs of wealth and activity which the travellers had scarcely expected to find in benighted Spain. The blessed Mediterranean it is which would have given trade and wealth wherever its waves touched the shores, had man known how to preserve its gifts. It has given Malaga more 235 than wealth; for it is one of the great health resorts of the South. It must be confessed, however, that what these blissful spots gain in climate, they, by the ignorance and indolence of their inhabitants, lose by neglect of the simplest elements of sanitary science.

Aunt Janet had been a little doubtful of Spain; she feared they would have to “rough it” rather too much, having taken her impressions from Mr. Ford’s books, which, however accurate in some particulars, are too prejudiced against the cosas de España in general to deal fairly with the manners and customs of this intensely interesting land.

“Now for rancid oil, and garlic, and bull beef!” said she. “No more French cookery.”

“Well, aunt, it can’t be worse than Sicily; and we have done fairly well there.”

“I don’t know, dear. I fear we shall be devoured alive by the ‘light infantry’ of the country, unless we are poisoned straight off by their cooks. Besides, we don’t know any Spanish!”

“Why, aunt, the courier declares I speak it very well indeed, and for the rest I expect French will serve us perfectly.”

Their hotel was situated in the Alameda, and a glimpse of that pleasant resort revealed so much of the beauty of the Spanish ladies, of which they had heard with a little scepticism after their illusions had been dispelled as to the charms of the Italian fair sex, that they agreed the reports had not been exaggerated. The next day they started for Granada, which they reached two hours late, thus early making their acquaintance with the dilatoriness of Spanish railways. Mr. Crowe and Dr. Graves met them at the station, and welcomed them to their abode in the grounds of the Fairy Halls of Alhambra.

It was scarcely light when Mildred rose to visit the palace of her childhood’s dream. It seemed almost wicked to sleep with such delights awaiting her. Aunt Janet was much less in a hurry to leave her couch; still, as she was not less imbued with 236 the spirit of the enchanting place, she soon followed her niece into the grounds. When we have longed all our lives to visit some celebrated scene, the first impression, on finding our hopes at length realized, is often one of disappointment. The imagination in some minds paints in colours of such “rainbow substance” that reality can never equal; but it has often been remarked that no one has been disappointed in his expectations of the Alhambra. Here he is in the scenery of the Thousand and One Nights itself, and if he is of the least romantic order of intellect, will be filled with more poetic reflections than can be supplied by any other place in Europe. Long before the gates were opened for visitors, the ladies had walked round the venerable walls, had visited Charles V.’s incongruous palace, and drunk in some of the inspiration of the lovely scene. When they returned to the hotel to breakfast, they found the doctors awaiting them with tickets for the Generalife, which they were to visit after the Alhambra.

What a day was this to Mildred! How she wished she could have some of her English friends with her, as she imbibed such stores of beautiful recollections! Mr. Crowe was very attentive, and was full of learned lore about the builders of the place. He praised the Moors so much that he seemed to lament that they had been expelled from Spain, and it required all Dr. Graves’ chivalrous devotion to the memory of Isabella to defend the conquest.

“But you must not forget, Crowe, that your beloved Moors were in their decadence when their expulsion came; their luxury and over-refinement had drawn attendant evils in their train, and these brought about their ruin when attacked by a people like the Spaniards—then, as you must admit, in every way superior to their foes, or they could never have united all Spain under their sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella.”

But Mr. Crowe could not forgive the Spaniards for having too much religion and too little science; and maintained that 237 in both respects they were considerably the inferiors of the Moors whom they had dispossessed.

Of course Mr. Crowe and Dr. Graves thoroughly acquainted themselves with the mysteries of the Bull Ring. They wished to take the ladies to a bull fight, declaring that one could not really say he had seen Spain without a visit to the national sports. As neither of the ladies had any desire to say she had “seen Spain,” they deprived themselves of this particular item of their education, and astonished the hotel proprietor by their forbearance. He protested that all the English ladies went to the fights, though they all declared it was a disgrace to Spain to tolerate such cruelty; and he laughed at what he evidently considered our national hypocrisy. To the credit of the Spanish nation, ladies do not attend the bull fights nearly so frequently as formerly. It is beginning to be unfashionable to do so.

Did Mr. Crowe enjoy the sport? Strange to say, he strongly disapproved of it! He thought it a degrading and cruel spectacle; most demoralizing to the people, and a quite useless waste of life, which could have been devoted to the progress of humanity. So do our minds refract the light that comes from the actions of our fellow-men! Dr. Graves did not scruple to say, “a bull fight was just the grandest sight on all this planet!”

They visited the cathedral together, and descended to the vault where Isabella and her husband lie in their leaden coffins side by side.

Dr. Graves could forgive the great queen all her bigotry for having offered to pawn her jewels to send Columbus on his voyage of discovery. Nothing would satisfy him but that he must make a pilgrimage to the old bridge where the messenger overtook the heavy-hearted navigator, and brought him back to the noble queen.

“So like an impulsive, generous woman, ready to sacrifice everything for an idea!” said Dr. Graves.

238 “A very substantial idea,” replied Mr. Crowe, who detested Isabella for being a good Catholic but could not help admiring her devotion to exploration and experiment. “The acquisition of a new world to the crown of Leon and Castile was worth a few jewels.”

“Don’t you think,” asked Aunt Janet, “that she was actuated by far worthier reasons than those?”

Mildred was almost as much in love with Isabella as Dr. Graves, and declared “that she was moved in all her conquests and expeditions by a passionate desire to win souls for God and His Church.”

“By roasting their bodies at the stake,” added Mr. Crowe.

Mildred said, in her quiet, arch manner,—

“We may roast people alive in the coming age of science for much less important reasons, if physiologists have their way!”

This was a particularly nasty cut, as it was well known Mr. Crowe had often lamented to his class that criminals under sentence of death could not be used for scientific purposes.

“We should not burn people alive, I hope,” said he.

“I am not so sure of that. I have read somewhere of one of your profession boasting that he took particular delight in inflicting ‘atrocious pain’ on dogs.”

Aunt Janet interposed, as the discussion was getting rather acrid, and philosophically attempted an apology for the persecutions of the dark ages.

Having paid a visit to the Cartuja Convent, they returned to the hotel for luncheon, and afterwards wandered about the delicious gardens of the Generalife till it was time for dinner. As the night was moonlight, they obtained permission to enter the Alhambra again, and saw it with all the glamour and witchery of the midnight hour.



The circumstance of circumstance is timing and placing. When a man meets his accurate mate, society begins, and life is delicious.—Emerson.

Be not amazed at life; ’tis still
The mode of God with His elect
Their hopes exactly to fulfil
In times and ways they least expect.
Coventry Patmore.

The romance of the novelist and the startling incident of melodrama are colourless and insignificant in comparison with the events of real life. Every day things happen around us which would appear far-fetched and absurd if transferred to the pages of a novel. We go to our peaceful slumbers at night little reckoning of the letter lying at the post-office close by which at breakfast-time will have destroyed the work of our lives, and given us a heart wound no time can heal. We sit down to dinner in weariness with the common-place monotony of our existence which the telegraph boy, already on his way to us, will startle into most unseemly agitation. We wander along Cheapside, Fleet Street, and the Strand, wondering why the stream of life in the world’s chief artery so little affects our pulses, and we meet the man who with a word changes the current of our existence in an instant.

Mildred Lee went to her bed full of thought, and wondered how she was to carry out the purposes which she had often 240 pondered, with only half-opened eyes seeing the great work which lay before her, little dreaming that before another bedtime she would have had all her fluid purposes cast in the mould of fate, or rather set, by the hand of Providence, in a sharply defined form which was to make her name high and honourable amongst men. She went to rest that Granada night a purposeless dreamer of unbodied hopes. Next day was to introduce her to a higher phase of thought. Hopes to-night, dreams to-night; to-morrow an opening in the mist, as one sees from a high mountain in a rift of the fog, the panorama sun-bathed at one’s feet.

It was a bright and glorious morning when she opened her window, the birds in the elms singing to the ever-rushing streams, and the breeze rustling amongst the leaves hinted a delicious coolness inviting to a ramble. She met Mr. Crowe strolling in front of the hotel smoking his early cigarette. Throwing this away, he advanced to meet her, and, in his most gracious manner, invited her to inspect the restoration of some Moorish baths which were going on close by.

“These Moors,” said he, “value fresh air and water far more than their Christian successors. The old Eastern religions and the Professors of White Magic insisted on the most scrupulous cleanliness, while the Inquisition made the use of the bath a mark of heresy.”

Mildred thought of some new bath experiments which her father had tried to prevent at St. Bernard’s; and could not help saying, with a tinge of maliciousness, “There are some uses of the bath which I think heretical, and would punish as severely as ever did Philip the Second.”

Mr. Crowe remembered his old battle with her father on this question, but prudently declined to discuss medical treatment with any one but a doctor. Mildred, seeing he was getting huffy, did not press her point further. The physiologist was very severe on the old and cherished institutions of Catholic Spain, and did only partial justice to the authors 241 of so many mistakes, whilst he was quite blind to the horrors being perpetrated in the name of Science now, and which a more civilized age, let us hope, will brand with equal infamy.

“How long do you propose to stay here?” asked Mr. Crowe.

“Really, I find it hard to leave; but we must not extend our visit beyond another day or two. What have we still to explore?”

“You don’t want to make any ascent of the Sierra Nevada, do you?”

“Oh, no; I fear it is too fatiguing. My aunt is not equal to camping out in the snow for a night, and I should not like to leave her. But we must visit the gipsy quarter; I am told it was much more interesting than that at Seville.”

“I have not explored it, but shall be glad to do so. Shall we go to-day? I saw Rico, the gipsy king, yesterday, and he was anxious to do the honours of the colony, and make our visit pleasant.”

“Very well, then. My aunt is anxious to go, I know. Will you arrange it all for us?”

“Certainly. They say there is some risk of annoyance; but if you are not very fastidious, I dare say it is nothing very serious.”

Mildred declared that she wanted to see everything that was Spanish, and had not crossed the Pyrenees to be stopped by trifles. So an expedition to the Sacro Monte was arranged for the next day, and the party, with a trustworthy guide, took a carriage for the trip.

*       *       *       *       *

The hill of the Albayzin was steep, and the horses not being equal to their work, they made the rest of the ascent on foot, and soon reached the singular region of the Zincali. It was strangely unlike anything else in Europe, and the ladies being anxious to acquaint themselves with the mode of life peculiar to this tribe, went into many of the open grottoes, of course 242 accompanied by the guide. This being one of the show places of the city, the inhabitants are used to visitors, but they often rob and sometimes behave very badly to them. Wandering down the alleys and maze-like turnings amongst the hills, observing the curious trades followed by the bronzed cave-dwellers, they became separated from their guide, who was engaged with the gentlemen in a distant cavern, explaining some of the methods adopted by the gipsies when they want to improve the appearance of a horse they have to sell. Suddenly they were surrounded by a crowd of half-naked, vociferating children, handsome as those of Murillo’s pictures, but rather alarming in their boisterous behaviour, tugging at their dresses, cutting wild and unpleasant capers, and demanding money on every hand. Missing the turning by which they had entered the labyrinth, they were nervous and annoyed with themselves for slipping away from their friends, when suddenly the noisy rabble melted away as if by magic, as a tall young man in Spanish dress came into the lane, and called angrily to the little imps in their own lingo. The young scaramouches at once made off, and the Englishman, apologising with an easy grace for the rudeness of the children, volunteered to escort the ladies to their party. The shortest way was through a patch of garden, and the walk gave the ladies the opportunity of thanking their protector, who soon found the gentlemen and their guide.

Mildred felt certain that she had met the young man before, though it seemed very improbable; but when they reached Mr. Crowe, he at once exclaimed, “Mr. Elsworth, I declare!” As Mr. Crowe had been Elsworth’s physiological teacher at the hospital, it was natural he should easily recognise him. The ladies, of course, had not the same intimate knowledge of him, though they knew of his mysterious disappearance from London. Mildred had not seen him since the day they had first met at a picnic which her father gave to his students at their country place on the Surrey Downs. They had been 243 introduced some months previously; but on that occasion, while showing him the points of interest round the house and grounds, she had been favourably impressed by the earnestness of his interest in many things in which she delighted, and had often confessed to herself that if she should ever be weak enough to bother herself about man in the concrete, it would be somebody very much like Elsworth who would interest her. He knew all her favourite books, and her tastes in poetry coincided with his own. He was something of a Shelley and a Browning enthusiast; and held by Ruskin and Emerson, proving by his criticism of their works how deep a hold their ideas had taken of him. They had talked much that day of these things, and she recalled, as she now met him again after his long absence, the time when they had so long discussed themes congenial to them both. When he disappeared she had been painfully anxious to learn the causes which could have driven so promising a young man from his work and friends, and had speculated deeply as to what could have befallen him. She had never ceased to hope that one day he might turn up again. And here he was, and she had discovered him! Their eyes met, in an instant each recognised the other, and in that glance each told the other that the meeting was of moment to him and her.

“Mr. Elsworth, I was sure!” she exclaimed.

“And Miss Lee, of course!” said he.

Aunt Janet had met, but did not recall the handsome man who had just done them so grateful a service. She was soon enlightened however.

“Auntie dear, you remember Mr. Elsworth who used to visit us, and who alarmed us all so much by going away and leaving no address, making us all wonder what could have become of him?”

Auntie remembered all in a moment; and as quickly reflected with a woman’s instinct that perhaps their kind friend would not thank them for thus unearthing him, which 244 they had literally done by drawing him from the gipsies’ cave. “Mr. Elsworth will, I am sure, forgive us,” she said, without embarrassment, “for inadvertently trespassing upon his retirement, and he may rest assured we will not break the secret we have unwittingly discovered.”

“Oh, for that matter,” said he, as they turned into a field planted thickly with prickly pears, and shaded by olives, “you have but precipitated what would have come to pass very soon, for I had resolved to return.” He had noticed Mildred’s deep mourning, but he had no knowledge of her father’s death. He had immediately, on recognising her, remarked a great alteration in her features. True, it was six years since they had last met; but he had not forgotten, amid the hosts of beautiful faces which he had since seen, those bright eyes and the face free from all anxiety or trace of melancholy which had fixed themselves upon his memory. She was more beautiful now, but there was not the sparkling playfulness of the eye, nor the light-hearted glow in the features; she was more like our Lady of Sorrows whom he had seen above so many Spanish altars, than the merry, laughing maiden of his student days. “You are not quite the Miss Lee of the picnic, if you will forgive me saying so. Have you not passed through some great anxiety or trial?”

“Did you not know I had lost my father? Do you get no English newspapers here?”

“I do not see them often. I have so much to occupy me here that I am unpatriotic enough to confess that I have lost much of my interest in the affairs of my own country.”

“We must hear your story, Mr. Elsworth,” said Aunt Janet, “for there must be a most romantic one to tell, I am thinking. You are more Spanish now than English, and we anticipate quite a revelation of the real life of the people we mix with, but do not in the least understand.”

“Here are the carriages,” said Dr. Graves, who had walked on with Mr. Crowe a little in advance.

245 Dr. Graves and Mr. Crowe expressed their regret for neglecting the ladies. It was, in fact, a risky neighbourhood; and as they had been warned that they might suffer annoyance if they got away from their guide, they could only blame themselves.

Mr. Crowe was not very cordial in his manner towards Elsworth. Dr. Graves was courteous enough in a formal sort of way. He had known his father; and with a fashionable physician’s worldly wisdom made it a rule never to make an enemy of anybody if he could help it, but to be on his best behaviour to all the world.

“You have dropped from the clouds, Mr. Elsworth,” said he.

“Or sprung from the earth, rather,” said Mr. Crowe.

Elsworth knew Crowe did not like him. They had never quite got on together since he neglected to attend his experimental physiology class which met at church time on Sunday mornings in his own private laboratory—the chamber of horrors it was called. He could never bring himself to do so.

“Neither a fall nor a rise,” rejoined Elsworth, quietly; “nothing but a very matter-of-fact story of disgust with the noisy world of men, and a relish for a sojourn in the wilderness for study and meditation. Not quite without precedent in the history of civilisation, eh, Mr. Crowe?”

“Well, friend, I always said that a man who refused to learn practical physiology was a ‘heathen man and a publican,’ so I am surprised at nothing that has happened to you.”

“Is the evisceration of a living cat the passport to all the Beatitudes with you, Mr. Crowe?” asked Miss Lee, in a rather contemptuous manner.

“Symbolically, for a medical man, yes,” said he, “as implying the true scientific mind.”

The ladies had now re-entered their carriage, and warmly thanking Elsworth for his assistance, and expressing their delight at having discovered him, like Stanley finding Livingstone, they ended by begging that he would join them at dinner that day at their hotel. He declared his readiness to 246 do so, and bowing with all the dignity and grace of a real Spaniard, he turned and left them.

The guide who had taken the party to the gipsy quarter knew and saluted Elsworth, and when he had taken his place beside the coachman, turning to the party, said, “That gentleman is the friend of all the poor in Granada. The gipsies call him their English king; he has lived here several years. When the people are sick he attends them, for he is a clever doctor; he takes no money from anybody, but he gives away a great deal to the poor. He can go amongst the worst people unmolested. Where the priest goes, he can go—to brigands, to thieves, to all the gipsies everywhere. He can travel alone over the mountains where none of us could go safely without an escort. He is a good man—a saint I ought to have said.”

“Why does he stay so long in Granada?” asked Mildred.

“Oh, he is studying the language and the manners and customs of the gipsies; he has a printing press, and he prints books to give them. He has a school, and he teaches their children. He is writing, they say, a great work on the origin and the life of the Spanish gipsies; but we hear he is going back soon to his own country. He had a hospital down in the city for the cholera patients last year, and has been decorated by the king for his services in the epidemic. There will be many tears when he leaves us, señora.”

The exile dined with his friends at the hotel, and enlightened them all on many points of interest which a mere tourist would be certain to miss. Every one noticed the change in Elsworth. Even Mr. Crowe, with his hard, unsympathetic soul, could not help seeing that in him was a renewed man, “one who had been set apart by Nature (as he expressed it to his colleague afterwards) for some great work.” Mildred and Aunt Janet saw that here was a man called to be an apostle; called, like the men of Galilee, from their nets and money tables, to serve the highest purposes of God; and they longed to hear the story they knew he must have to tell. After dinner the ladies contrived 247 to have a chat with him, while Mr. Crowe and Dr. Graves were walking on the terrace smoking. To no one had he spoken, during these years of retirement, of the causes which had led him away from his haunts and profession; but these sweet women, with their sympathy which invited his confidence, soon heard his story; and in listening to it Mildred felt as Desdemona when Othello told his own; and listening, loved. Here, she thought, is a man with a heart and a conscience! All her life had been spent amongst selfish seekers after fame, wealth, or the amusements of life; men who cared not whom they overthrew could they but climb themselves; men of genius, who cared no more for the troubles of their fellowmen than the heartless libertines for the victims of their pleasures. She remembered Moore’s lines:—

“Out on the craft—I’d rather be
One of those hinds that round me tread,
With just enough of sense to see
The noon-day sun that’s o’er my head,—
Than thou, with high-built genius cursed,
That hath no heart for its foundation,
Be all, at once, that’s brightest, worst,
Sublimest, meanest in creation!”

Here was a man who had left all and followed his Master; not as a missionary sent out by a society, with all the prestige and protection of his Church behind him, but who went forth to save his own soul and aid his brother man. This was devotion, true self-sacrifice, of which this age seems almost to have lost the idea. One cannot give a cup of cold water now-a-days to a thirsty child unless at the bidding of a committee. Our charity is done to order and by deputy. Elsworth’s way of going to work was like that of an early Christian, and savoured of real heroism; and women love heroes, because every woman has the germ of heroism in her own heart, and self-sacrifice is of her nature.

Mildred had found her ideal man. They talked of many 248 things, but most of his hospital down in the city, and the next day they all went to see it, and many other of the charitable agencies of the town.

Of course Mr. Crowe was huffy and upset at the meeting, and at the reception which the ladies gave to the handsome young fellow whom they had discovered. He was jealous, too; for Mildred did not conceal the interest she felt in all that was shown her, and Mr. Crowe could not scoff down the good works of which he had evidence that day, though he tried hard to make game of any attempt to Christianize the gipsies, and protested it was a great pity to waste so many opportunities of investigating cholera germs and inoculations in such a favourable field.

Mildred set him down when he spoke contemptuously of Elsworth’s Gitano friends.

“Now, Mr. Crowe, you surprise me, as a deep student of natural phenomena, to hear you talk so. Don’t you know—

‘No creature’s made so mean
But that, some way, it boasts, could we investigate,
Its supreme worth’?”

Mr. Crowe did not think the game was worth the candle; besides, it would spoil the artists’ chances to civilize the gipsies.

Elsworth explained that had he attempted to experiment with the cholera patients, if he had been so inclined, he would have fared no better than the native doctors, who were suspected of propagating the disease for the Government, who wished to deplete the population.

“Yes,” said Aunt Janet, “can we wonder at the poor Neapolitans and Spaniards, in the late cholera epidemics, attacking the doctors with sticks and stones, declaring they were spreading the disease—as, in fact, they were—by these abominable vaccinations?”

249 “I hear that Pasteur’s hydrophobia cure is entirely discredited by the French experts,” said Mildred.

“It is,” replied Elsworth; “and anybody who believed that God, and not the devil, governs the world, might have predicted its failure from the infernal nature of the process for keeping up the supply of the vaccine. Just fancy, keeping in cages, a lot of dogs inoculated with the virus, to inoculate again a lot of rabbits, ready for use for any patient who might want the treatment!”

“Do you know, Mr. Elsworth,” said Mildred, “I am almost afraid to venture the opinion, yet it is a growing one with me, that what is called scientific medicine is a contradiction in terms. The human stomach is not a test-tube, and till we leave off treating it as a dyer treats his vats, we can’t expect to make any progress. So many things go to make up therapeutic treatment. How often have I heard my father say that he never could do any good unless the patient had full faith in him!”

“I fear you do not estimate very highly either the education you got at St. Bernard’s, or the benefits such institutions confer on the people,” said Mr. Crowe, in a rather sneering tone, when Elsworth had assented to Mildred’s remarks.

Dr. Graves maintained that the hospital education given at St. Bernard’s was second to none in Europe, and doubted if it were possible to improve on its methods, as far as they went. “What do you say, Mr. Elsworth?” he asked.

“I hold,” said Elsworth, “that all hospitals are only necessary evils in an imperfect state of society.”

“I have long held that opinion, too,” replied Mildred; “it seems to me that our poor people are far too ready to get rid of their sick and troublesome relatives.”

“Yes, nursing is rapidly becoming a lost art amongst the working people,” remarked Aunt Janet. “The instant their children, husbands, or wives get sick, they are packed off to one or other of the charities which compete for their favours 250 and they are troubled with them no more till they are cured.”

“You mean till they recover?” said Mildred, with an arch look.

“Oh, we really do make some cures, though our Spanish friends are cruel enough to say, ‘El medico lleva la plata pero Dios es que sana!’ (the doctor takes the fee, but God works the cure.”)

“I fear our noble art is not more highly esteemed here than in England,” said Dr. Graves.

“England is the very Paradise of doctors; though the art of medicine, so far from making progress even there, bids fair to be destroyed by a noisy and arrogant school,” said Elsworth emphatically.

“You mean the ultra-physiological party which goes in for these hideous inoculations?” asked Mildred.

“I do,” he replied. “While I was a student at the hospital, I often remarked the contempt with which many of the physicians spoke of drugs and of the people who believed in them; and found it difficult to reconcile all they said with their practice amongst their private patients who went to their consulting rooms and always returned armed with prescriptions which they were instructed should be dispensed only at the most eminent pharmacies. At the hospital, peppermint water was the great remedy for every complaint, except where some new thing was in hand which wanted testing; but when the guinea-paying public were to be dealt with, they received the most formidable prescriptions, resulting ultimately in rows of medicine bottles.”

Mr. Crowe looked very cross at this, and would have replied with bitterness had it not been for the ladies. To make matters worse, Aunt Janet capped it.

“Yes, I remember Dr. Lee declaring at a meeting of medical men that drugs were a delusion and a sham; and that nothing but nature and a good nurse were wanted to cure any complaint amenable to treatment.”

251 “What did the others say?” asked Elsworth.

“Oh, they objected that it was all very well for a Royal Physician, who had reached the top of the ladder to talk like that, but that it would not work well for those who were still climbing.”

Wishing to divert the conversation into another channel, Mildred asked Elsworth if he did not think with her that the great cause of sickness amongst the poor was due to drink—in England, at all events.

He agreed that it was so, but attributed the craze for alcohol partly to the climate, and partly to the gradual degradation of the social conditions of life amongst the poor. The separation between the masses and the classes was more pronounced, he thought, in England than in any other country of which he knew anything.

“I don’t wonder at the poor creatures drinking,” said he; “it is the only way they have of satisfying the natural aspiration of mankind for the ideal!”

“You mean, we are all more or less poets, and alcohol develops the latent genius within us?” said Mildred.

“I do, and I can never tolerate the argument that a man who drinks makes a beast of himself, because the beast can have no desire to minister to a sense which he does not possess.”

“Then you would say, that the universal desire for some sort of intoxication is a proof of the higher and immortal nature of man,” said Mr. Crowe.

“In a certain degree, yes; because all error is a perversion of some truth. A booze of bad beer and a glass of gin do for the lower man what Shakespeare and Keats, Bacon and Macaulay do for the cultured man—lift him for a while from his sordid surroundings, and raise him to a Monte Cristo palace of beautiful imagery. Mind, this is all the more sinful, all the more degrading at last, because it is buying of the devil at the price of your soul what God would have given you in another and a better way, if you had asked Him.”

252 “Very pretty,” said Crowe, “but I don’t believe it a bit!”

Dr. Graves said he thought that the theory was as clever, yet as improbable, as that of an American friend of his, who held that all children told lies, because by nature their dramatic faculties were in advance of their moral principles. Fibbing children were on this theory all premature poets.

And so the symposium ended, and the little party broke up.



“This is not our work,” you say, “this is the work of men.” Be it so if you like. Let them be the hands to do it: but who, if not women, are to be the hearts of the redemption of the poor from social wrong?

Stopford Brooke.
Live greatly; so shalt thou acquire
Unknown capacities of joy.
Coventry Patmore.

When the ladies reached their own room that night, Mildred began at once with something which was, evidently, uppermost in her mind.

“Aunt Janet, do you believe in special providences?”

“Do I not, dear! you know my life has been full of them.”

“Well, auntie, it seems absurd that every action of our lives should be interesting to Heaven, but I think I was sent to Granada as the great turning-point in my life.”

“Nothing very wonderful in that, if you believe that the hairs of our heads are all numbered, and that a sparrow does not fall to the ground without our Father’s knowledge. But what do you mean? Have you met your fate in the hero of Granada?”

“No, no! Nothing in the least romantic, but I have decided on my mission in life; you know I have been a long time on the look-out for it.”

254 “I always thought your mission, dear, was to make everyone the happier for having come in contact with you.”

“Ah, but you are an infatuated auntie, you know, and have always spoiled me, as papa did; but aren’t you anxious to know what I am going to be?”

“Something quixotic, Millie, to suit our surroundings. It is the couleur locale which has dazzled you; the romance of the Alhambra is too much for you. Is it a novelist or a poet? Don’t dear; the market is overstocked. Now, domestic service offers a grand field.”

“But I don’t feel it to be my vocation. I shall set to work to revolutionise the system of our great hospitals. I have seen enough to-day to convince me that, as at present constituted, they do as much harm as good.”

“Revolutionise the hospitals! Isn’t that rather ‘a large order?’”

“Weaker women than I have done greater things than this; and then remember, auntie dear, the lines—

‘And none are strong but who confess
With happy skill that they are weak.’

Besides, don’t you think the public is almost ready for a revolution on this question?”

“You know, Mildred, my opinion; but I never could see my way clear to any interference with hospitals. It is a terrible responsibility, don’t you think?”

“Poor papa has often declared to me that the public would one day wake up to the fact that the hospital was one of the great shams of the time.”

“I know, dear. But St. Bernard’s having made your papa’s fame and fortune, isn’t it rather a shame to upset the concern?”

“I have no desire to upset anything. Don’t you remember how we rebuilt our parish church at Welby, without stopping 255 the services for a single day? That is what I want to do in this case.”

“I don’t quite follow you, dear.”

“Well, of course I haven’t formed any complete scheme yet; but I have often thought that what we want in London, for instance, is a sort of Hospital University, with a great number of affiliated colleges of healing. Not a great unwieldy Cathedral of Surgery as they call it, here and there, but a ‘Chapel of Ease’ at every sufferer’s door. Fifty beds should be the limit, I think.”

“Not enough. Don’t you know the examining bodies do not recognise as a teaching hospital one with less than two hundred beds?”

“But I am concerned with healing the sick, not with teaching students.”

“Just so; but where are your future doctors to come from if you cut off their only way of learning their business?”

“Do you really believe the present system is the only way of training medical men and medical women, for I recognise the right and advantage of women students?”

“Your papa has often told me that a doctor can only be liberally educated by being enabled to draw his conclusions from a great number of facts; and, as each case has some peculiar feature, the more cases he sees, even of the same disease, the more the intelligent pupil will learn.”

“I see the force of that,” replied Mildred, “but I think my scheme would meet it. I would make use of the great pauper infirmaries, at present entirely wasted, as schools of medicine.”

“I fear they would prove very imperfect substitutes for the great hospitals. I am told, and I can readily understand it to be the fact, that the cases which gravitate to the parish infirmary are usually chronic diseases, old-standing bronchitic, asthmatic, and rheumatic troubles, with bed cases innumerable; and all of little or no use to the student.”

“But wait, aunt; you have only heard of one side of my 256 plan; it provides for a vast and efficient system of out-door treatment. I strongly object to rushing every troublesome phase of disease away from home, and placing it in a great hospital. My indoor scheme would only embrace such cases as could not wisely be treated in the family. What at present do you take to be the chief passport to a bed in a general hospital?”

“The malady which has the greatest interest for the doctor who has power to admit it.”

“Precisely. But, as it is not the doctors who support the hospitals, don’t you think the intentions of the subscribers are often defeated by this system? Is it not, in fact, getting money under false pretences to ask for funds to help sick folk, and then apply them to even so good a purpose as medical education?”

“I think you put it too strongly, Mildred. The public does understand that in supporting the hospital, they are training their doctors.”

“Then,” said Mildred, “the fraud is on the patients. Lady Ponsonby de Tompkyns gives a big cheque to the hospitals, that she may have confidence that no new remedies may first be used upon her. Like the lady of the Fly papers, who

‘Wouldn’t try ’em on her cat,
If she could try ’em on another.’

You see, the public is in this dilemma—either they are deceived as to the way patients are treated, or if not then the poor sufferers are misled to their grievous hurt.”

“I know of terrible things which Sister Agnes has told me,” said Aunt Janet; “and I am afraid more goes on than even she knows. Your father told me of a case of puerperal fever which was clearly one of licensed murder. He protested, but in vain. A poor woman recently confined was suffering from hyperpyrexia, which no drugs would abate. The physician in charge had become enamoured of the iced-water-bath treatment, 257 and the wretched woman was the first victim at St. Bernard’s to the new fad. She was kept for four hours a day in the cold water at her bedside. When she died, her relatives all protested she was murdered.”

“That must have discredited the treatment rather.”

“Not at all; they persevered in ‘giving the thing a fair trial.’ The Germans invented it, and said it was very effectual in bringing down high temperatures. At St. Bernard’s, it brought the patients down, and the doctors could not bring them up again: and, as all the cases died, the authorities stopped the experiments; but some of the physicians declare to this day, I believe, that ‘there was something in it, after all.’ Mr. Crowe was very strongly in favour of it; he said it was physiologically right, and therefore must be so medically.”

“But perhaps the patients would all have died, any way,” said Mildred.

“Very likely; but what cruel torture in your last moments to be served like that!”

“Yes, that is the horrible part of the business. At an hospital, you cannot even die in peace; you are in danger of being the subject of some ghastly medical freak while there is a gasp left in you.”

“Yet, as the doctor must necessarily be an autocrat in his treatment, I don’t see how you can interfere with him,” mused Aunt Janet.

“Oh, can’t you! Do you think they would dare do such things in a parish infirmary? What a pretty storm there would be if our Mr. Hilbourne, for instance, heard of such things at St. Mark’s Workhouse! Don’t you think the doctors content themselves with using the best of their already acquired knowledge there?” asked Mildred.

“Yet, the poor think much more highly of hospital than of infirmary treatment.”

“Naturally. It is drummed into them a hundred times a day by everybody in the place, that everything is being done 258 for their benefit. Papa told me of ‘a very pretty knee case’ which had been fourteen months in the wards, merely because it was an object of surgical interest, and was the subject of a monograph.”

“Your scheme, I fear, would not provide for monographs!”

“I fear you think I am very quixotic, aunt.”

“No, dear; you are not tilting at windmills, but at real dragons, which I am afraid are much too strong for you! But we must think it over. Dr. Graves is a good, sensible man, and though of course wrapped up in the conventionalism of his class is still open to reason. You will want more armour, and a sharper sword than Isabella’s for this fight, I am thinking.”

“Yet, I can see,” said the girl, “in my prophetic vision, our Boabdil giving me the key of the fortress, if we go to work properly. Meanwhile, let us build our Santa Fe.”

“Castles in Spain! dear—just the place for them. I can see ghosts of giant physiologists and vampire surgeons guarding the treasures of their vermilion towers, and warning you off their premises.”

“I don’t fear them, aunt. I shall visit Isabella’s tomb again for courage, though.”

“I think we had better sleep over this. Buenas noches, señorita.”

“Con dios.”

When the time came to leave Granada, Aunt Janet noticed that her niece was in rather low spirits. She guessed the cause, for it was manifest she was more than interested in the young doctor; and though it was difficult to say whether her interest was more in his work than in himself, or the contrary, she was glad that something had arisen to rouse the girl from the grief which had weighed upon her since her father’s death. That was the charm of Aunt Janet—she always accepted accomplished facts with equanimity, and perhaps was rather a fatalist. If Mildred was really in love, so much the better—she thought it would replace the lost light which had gone out 259 of her life; and if, still better, she had really found a great philanthropic object in life, why the meeting with young Elsworth was the best thing that could have happened.

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends
Rough-hew them how we will.”

Would it not be strange if it should turn out that Elsworth’s exile to Granada, and their visit, should be the centre round which the lives of two noble souls should revolve?



There is no strange handwriting on the wall,
Thro’ all the midnight hum no threatening call,
Nor on the marble floor the stealthy fall
Of fatal footsteps. All is safe. Thou fool,
The avenging deities are shod with wool!
W. Allen Butler.
But the sinner who would fain
Cover murder’s crimson stain,
Still shall find his steps pursued
By inquisitors for blood,
Due to the unavenged dead,
Our malison devotes his head.
J. Anstice, translated from Æschylus.

The last week in September usually sees all the teachers and staff of the hospitals back at their posts. Mr. Crowe and Dr. Graves were again in harness, and the patients who had been the objects of ’prentice work now came under master hands.

These long vacations are grand times for the junior staff; then they are the lords of the territory, and can try everything without fear of interference from their superiors who do not want any more information on what perhaps interests their juniors keenly.

Mr. Mole had been working away patiently and secretly. He had a vast accumulation of notes of facts, symptoms, and tests on the action of Lorchelin and Bulbosin on man and animals; and what was of equal importance, no one had apparently 261 even suspected his secret. No one except Dr. Sones, and from him he kept nothing, requesting only that outside the walls of his laboratory no word of the business was to pass.

All Dr. Sones’ efforts to find chemical tests for the poisons which could be absolutely relied upon had been fruitless. Mr. Mole was, however, so satisfied with his physiological tests that he declared himself ready to detect the deadly alkaloids under whatever circumstances they might be administered. Suspecting Mr. Crowe of entertaining a very limited amount of affection for his wife, and knowing how he must estimate the burden of her long-continued illness, he imparted his suspicions to Janet Spriggs, and bade her tell him everything fresh that happened. But there was little to tell. A caution was given to her that should her mistress suddenly die, two or three handkerchiefs were to be dropped as by accident in the remains of the last food of which she had partaken, and especially in anything that might be vomited. These handkerchiefs were then to be given to him.

The winter session had commenced about a month; the lecturers had all returned to their posts and patients, and the work at St. Bernard’s was again in full swing. In all the wards you heard little hints, jokes, and anecdotes of the holiday tours and adventures of the doctors—very impressive to the students, very suggestive of the good things in store for them when they had made their mark and could take expensive trips. The poor assistant surgeons and physicians had been compelled to stick to their work all through the vacation, and heard with rather mitigated relish the stories told by their chiefs of Norway, Switzerland, Italy, or Spain.

Mr. Crowe was full of the latter country, and the backward condition of everything there. He found nothing doing of importance for research but some Pasteur inoculations. He had visited many of the Spanish hospitals and schools of medicine, but everything was backward in comparison with France or Germany. Tho Spaniards, he thought, were unwilling 262 to embrace the new theories which were helping the world forward. He had only met three physiologists who lived up to the true ideal of a modern scientist. One at Salamanca, who, having discovered the bacillus of phthisis in the sputa of a patient, had inoculated with the germs one of his own children several times, with a view to watching the rise and progress of the disease. Another at Valladolid had carried out a long series of experiments in brain localisation on a mule-driver who had fallen over a precipice, and was taken to the hospital with a portion of his brain exposed so conveniently that it could be galvanised as readily as one of Professor Ferrier’s monkeys, and was consequently a most valuable means of confirming that gentleman’s theories. The third he met at Madrid, and he had done wonders at his hospital by ordering a number of his patients, who were either cooks or butchers, to eat daily a portion of raw beef (persons of these professions are usually quite ready to do this), for the purpose of introducing into their systems the parasite Tænia mediocanellata.

As epilepsy, hysteria, convulsions, and even insanity have been known to follow the introduction of this interesting parasite into the human body, it must be admitted that Professor Montijo was one of the heroic school, and merited all Mr. Crowe’s eulogiums. Some of the alumni who listened to these accounts of continental practice thought that the first man was the only true hero of the lot. He, Abraham-like, had been willing to sacrifice his own son “for the good of humanity.” As for the mule-driver and his exposed brain, they had done quite as good things at St. Bernard’s more than once; while in regard to the hydatid and tape-worm germs in beef and pork, that was an every-day business down in the out-patient department, and a very meek sort of experiment for a St. Bernard’s man.

Dr. Stanforth told his class a good thing from Milan, where a tremendous experiment, involving risk to the lives of several 263 women, had been tried by a friend of his at the Maternity Hospital. He admitted it was rather hard on the women, who had sought the comforts of the hospital for quite other reasons; but it was a point which needed clearing up, and the learned professor, with the unwitting assistance of eight patients (and eight other lives especially protected by the laws of God and man, he forgot to add), had settled the question on behalf of therapeutics for ever.

“This is the heroic work we need so much in England. They are not nearly so timid in other countries as we are. We must have a policy of ‘thorough,’ or we shall be left behind.” And he set his lips firmly, and looked as though henceforth his patients were going to have “a bad time.”

Mr. Mole was doing all his little best to bring about this scientific millennium, but just then was not able to produce the results of his work, as the time was not ripe for his revelations.



There came a respite to her pain;
She from her prison fled.—Wordsworth.

Those natures that are sanguinary towards beasts discover a natural propension to cruelty. After they had accustomed themselves at Rome to spectacles of the slaughter of animals, they proceeded to those of the slaughter of men the freer.—Montaigne.

One day in November Mr. Mole received a little note by the hand of a small boy, who said he had just come from Mr. Crowe’s. It was from Spriggs, and in these words:

Dear Mr. Walter,—

“Do come here at once if you anyways can, for poor missus has just expired in agonies awful for to behold. I have done just as you told me, and I will only give them into your own hands for fear of mistakes. Do pray come soon. I am in such a fluster, though I have expected it for a week or more.

“Your affectionate friend,

Janet Spriggs.”

The half pound or so of striated involuntary muscle which in Mr. Mole did duty for a heart was thrown into a state of agitation by this epistle. He must be off to Mr. Crowe’s residence at once.

Entering the house by a back door opening into an alley at the side of the residence, he was unobserved by any one except the servants. Janet soon told him the circumstances of her 265 mistress’s death. How at eleven o’clock she had given her a composing pill, the only one in the box. These pills had been ordered by Dr. Stanforth, who had seen the patient the previous day. How, an hour after, no sleep having supervened, she had given a little brandy and water, and a few mushrooms, which had been sent in by Mr. Crowe from the fruiterer’s. How, soon after partaking of this food, her poor mistress had been seized with faintness and vertigo, had become suddenly pale and pulseless. That she had immediately called her master, who was in his study, and by his orders had sent the page to Dr. Stanforth, who was not at home. That meanwhile Mrs. Crowe had got rapidly worse, had vomited several times, and died with convulsions in great agony. How she had adroitly managed to drop her handkerchief on her mistress’s pillow, and so contrived to provide her lover with the materials for an analysis. How, moreover, she had reserved in another handkerchief the remains of the dish which formed the patient’s last meal. One thing that excited the girl’s curiosity was the fact that on the previous night she was certain there were two pills in the little box on the mantel; whereas, although none had been taken during the night, only one remained when, by her master’s order, she gave the morning dose. Had the box been upset? Had the parlour maid, who arranged the room in the morning and made the fire, disturbed the box? She declared she had not touched it when Mr. Mole examined her, and he believed the girl.

The death certificate was filled up by Dr. Stanforth as follows:

Atrophic cirrhosis two years two months.
Gastritis one year three months.
Hæmatemesis four days.

This certificate was duly delivered to the registrar; and two others like it were forwarded to the assurance companies in each of which the life was insured for the sum of one thousand pounds.

266 Mr. Mole went away with his little parcel, and soon set to work in his own private room on his tests. From his observations on some mice, to which he gave an ethereal extract of the contents of the handkerchiefs, he was quite sure that muscarin or lorchelin had somehow found its way into the stomach of the deceased lady. But here was the difficulty. She had undoubtedly eaten of a dish of mushrooms previous to her death. Somehow or other a poisonous fungus might have got into that dish, by accident possibly, by intention more likely. Again, there was the mysterious incident of the pill. What was easier than to substitute a pill of bulbosin for one of the morphia pills which should have been given. Was it not strange that only one pill remained in a box which should have contained two if it had not been interfered with?

He must consult with Dr. Sones about this, and off he went to his place, taking with him all the materials for examination which he had left. Dr. Sones listened to his story with the interest of a toxicologist who was on the track of a terrible crime; for to that he agreed with Mr. Mole all the circumstances seemed to point.

“Leave everything with me for a week,” said he, “and then come again. Meanwhile, if I want you, I will write.”

Mrs. Crowe was buried in Highgate Cemetery, and the sincere condolences of all the staff were duly presented to the bereaved surgeon. Dr. Stanforth saw nothing at all peculiar in the circumstance of the death, and had not even thought of attributing it to other than a quite ordinary cause. After all, what was there to excite suspicion? There was some rather violent vomiting in a patient who was the subject of constant nausea, and the attendant symptoms of a chronically inflamed stomach. True, she died after a meal of mushrooms. Dangerous things at all times, she, of all people, should never have touched them; but they were some of the few articles of diet the poor lady ever fancied, and it was hard to deny them to her. “Had the mushrooms anything to do with her death?” 267 asked Mr. Crowe. He thought not, except in causing perhaps an attack of acute dyspepsia. The fruiterer declared that it was impossible any deleterious fungus could have got into the basket; he had sold a dozen that same morning, and no other purchaser had found any fault with them.

At the expiration of the week Mr. Mole called upon Dr. Sones.

“You have,” said the latter, “not only the alkaloid muscarin here, but an acrid volatile principle which could not have remained in the mushrooms after cooking. This must have either been added to the dish after it left the kitchen, or been administered in some other form than the food in question. Now so powerful is this principle in the vomit in the handkerchief you have brought me, that I have come to the conclusion it could only have been derived from the Russian species we investigated together last year. I know no English fungus which contains it in precisely this form. Again, in the remains of the dish in the other handkerchief, though I find lorchelin plentifully, I do not find the irritant poison I have mentioned. I should conclude, therefore, that this was administered some other way.”

“The pill!” cried Mr. Mole. “Wasn’t it in the pill? Was not the box tampered with, and was not a pill compounded of this irritant poison substituted for the harmless morphia ones the box previously contained?”

“That is quite likely, and the poison either given as medicine, or added surreptitiously to the dish after it was prepared.”

To Dr. Stanforth, Mr. Crowe’s easy-going, amiable colleague, as we have said, the case presented no peculiar features whatever. Very few cases did so to this optimistic, complacent gentleman. His was the charity that thinketh no evil, and considered everything was “for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” Perhaps, however, it was the nil admirari principle that most influenced him. He had acquired a certain distinction in his profession by having statistics ready for every 268 class of case coming under his notice in his speciality, and it would have detracted from his glory to have permitted himself to be surprised at anything which might happen to a lady patient. “Had he ever seen such a case before?” some excited general practitioner who thought he had something interesting to show him would demand, only to be coolly set down with the reply, “Oh, certainly. As near as I can tell without reference to my notes, this makes the thirteenth case of the kind that I have examined since my connection with the hospital.”

When, therefore, Dr. Stanforth had heard all the symptoms exhibited by Mrs. Crowe on the morning of her decease, he was not the least surprised; he had his theory ready for any emergency.

“Ah, my dear Crowe, this is just what I always expected would happen to your poor wife. In cases of cirrhosis like hers, find the proportion of deaths, with just such symptoms as you describe, to be one in 238-1/3.”

Dr. Stanforth prided himself in his arithmetic, in which he was always very exact. He usually went in for decimals, but to-day was satisfied with vulgar fractions. He always had a similar case to illustrate the one under notice, and was equally precise in his way of mentioning it. “I had just such another case in the year 1861. It was Easter Monday, and I remember it was snowing hard. I was called to a draper’s in St. John’s Wood. You know the shop opposite the church? Just such a case as this. The poor heart-broken husband, just like yourself, was beside himself with grief, and reproached himself for having given his wife, poor thing, some macaroni he had just got from Naples. She was seized precisely as Mrs. Crowe, and died within two hours after eating it. He would have it there were cholera germs in the macaroni. The cholera was raging in Naples just then. You remember. Don’t you remember? Ah, I do! I lost my beautiful cousin, Lady Arethusa Standoph, who was seized with it while staying at Castellamare 269 close by. One in every 625-1/4 visitors to Naples died that year of cholera, of all nationalities that is to say; of English only one in every 889-1/2.”

Dr. Stanforth was a princely, not to say kingly, liar. When he did a thing, he did it royally, and he lied without niggardliness and with the precision of an actuary. Perhaps this peculiar trait in Dr. Stanforth’s character had recommended him to Mr. Crowe’s favour. Be this as it may, the latter was well pleased to hear that mushrooms could have had no possible connection with his wife’s death. He was willing to waive his superior physiological attainments in favour of his colleague’s statistics. So far from pressing his opinion with his usual persistence, he bowed in acquiescence, and thereby flattered Dr. Stanforth immensely. Of course it would have been most unpleasant to have had an inquest, and this admirable certificate saved all that annoyance. Both the insurance companies paid the money, and Mr. Crowe seemed disposed to bear his bereavement with exemplary resignation. He went on with his work much as before, solacing himself, however, with frequent visits to Aunt Janet and Mildred. Both ladies felt it their duty to be as kind and sympathetic as possible, and he was urged to visit them as often as he conveniently could. They got up nice little dinner parties for him; and as Mildred, in her kind, consoling way, did her best to solace the widower in his affliction, he began to hope he was daily growing in her favour. He did his best to throw cold water on her hospital scheme, as he foresaw such a project would be most prejudicial to his order, and would set an example that would be surely followed by other faddists, much to the injury of scientific medicine; but he had to be guarded in his treatment of this subject, because he saw the new object was deeply set in the hearts of both ladies. When he found it was hopeless to try and hinder it, and that it was an accomplished fact, he set to work to turn the scheme to his own advantage. But to little purpose. There was no chance for him at Nightingale House. 270 His peculiarities and principles were too well known to be disguised, and nobody believed he was capable of conversion.

But gradually it came to be noticed that everybody was fighting shy of Mr. Crowe. The most unpleasant rumours about the cause of his wife’s death were in the air. Nobody spoke out, nobody seemed to know anything precisely; but all at once Mr. Crowe was blown upon.

That nobody spoke was perhaps too much to say, for Mr. Crowe had one open and bitter enemy on the staff of St. Bernard’s. Mr. Ringrose, the surgeon, had been quarrelling with him for years in a gentlemanly and polite sort of way. Each had presented the other to the council as having done something unprofessional. Crowe accused Ringrose of having killed a man through operating on him when drunk; and Ringrose, who was a popular man, had branded Crowe as an atheist who was damaging the reputation of the school by seducing the young men from the Christian faith by his blasphemous remarks and ridicule of Scripture. Mr. Ringrose did not scruple to say that, if anybody wanted to get rid of his wife, he could not do better than learn physiology. And so what with speaking out, and what with shrugging his shoulders and hinting the darkest things possible, he managed to imbue everybody in the place with dire suspicions about Mr. Crowe. Soon everybody got hold somehow of the whole circumstances connected with the death of the lady; and though there was not enough known to make a legal investigation desirable or possible, there was abundant reason for shunning Mr. Crowe’s society. The students soon caught the infection, and all sorts of graffiti were blazing openly on the walls of the college; toadstools surmounted by a death’s head and cross-bones; legends such as—

Crow’s-foot, a poisonous plant of the order Ranunculacæ;” under which a wag added—

“But not half so deadly as Crowe’s hand, order Physiologacæ.”

One day Mr. Ringrose accidentally found that he had 271 seated himself at a table in the refreshment department at the Army and Navy Stores facing Mr. Crowe, who was lunching off a dish of curried fowl, and surrounded by various little purchases which encumbered the chair next his own.

The men nodded coldly, but did not speak to each other. Mr. Ringrose, impelled by the demon of mischief, demanded of the waiter to come and attend to him.

“Have you any mushrooms?”

“No, sir. Mushrooms not in season, sir.”

“Of course not. How stupid of me!”

Mr. Crowe, under the glare of his enemy’s cruel eye, visibly winced; his face paled, and Ringrose could see that the arrow had gone home. The physiologist beckoned to a waiter, gave his number, paid his bill to the boy who came round for the money, picked up his little brown-paper parcels, and went off.

Mr. Ringrose felt sure that one murderer had lunched that day in decent company.

Now Mr. Mole had long been working to supplant his chief. He aimed at nothing less than the chair of physiology.

In a very short time things became so unpleasant for Mr. Crowe, that he was fain to resign his appointment as surgeon to the hospital, though for the present he retained his lectureship at the medical school.



Where both deliberate the love is slight.
Who ever loved that love not at first sight?
Love and joy are torches lit
From altar-fires of sacrifice.
Coventry Patmore.

Elsworth had lived all this time hitherto in Spain without falling in love;—quite a phenomenal attitude for a healthy young fellow in a land like this, where the women’s eyes, their figures, and incomparable grace, usually make havoc with the men’s hearts. But as yet he had escaped the notice of Cupid, or perhaps the little god was disgusted with his peculiar theories on the subject, and had let him alone out of contempt. Our hero held that love was a kind of zymotic disease, and, like its congeners, could only be caught where there was a predisposition or suitable nidus in the patient. He thought it was very like hydrophobia in some respects, and might be compared to small pox in others. The best way to minimise its attacks was to get vaccinated in early life. You could have a mild “cultivation” of the bacillus. He thought he had undergone this business with Linda, and attributed his immunity to that cause. Now the “protection” of the aforesaid inoculation was very severely tried when Mildred appeared on the scene. Mildred was so sweet and angelic, so kindred in every way to his ideal of what a perfect woman 273 should be, that he had to confess to himself that, impossible as it was for him to descend to the weakness of falling in love, nothing possibly could be more delightful than to have Mildred always near him. It will be seen that our young doctor had very imperfectly studied all the phases which his disorder of love could assume. Far more capable physicians in this branch of practice were his gipsy friends. The Gitanos at once detected that he was suffering from the malady in one of its acutest forms. No man should ever doctor himself; he cannot diagnose properly; it is as unwise as to be one’s own lawyer. It was remarked that he had lost his gaiety, was absorbed in his own thoughts, and spoke often abstractedly, sighed frequently, and had a “far-off look” about his eyes which showed them that his heart was not at Granada.

These acute observers knew all about the beautiful Englishwoman who had met their friend, and the guide told them a good deal of his own impressions on the matter. They all agreed that he was in love. At last our hero was fain to confess there was truth in the poet’s lines, that

“In the arithmetic of life,
The smallest unit is a pair.”

He tried hard to shake it off. Somebody says (but we do not believe him) that by a strong effort of will, a man can rid himself of hydrophobia, and even preach eloquent sermons whilst suffering from Asiatic cholera. It may be so. The martyrs have done more, if the Bollandists are to be credited. But putting all such exceptional cases on one side, there is no denying that this love business is a very subtle and insidious malady, with very pronounced and persistent symptoms. They say seeds found in ancient mummies have retained their vitality to the present day. Love germs are hard to kill also. You cannot detect them by the microscope, or destroy them by cold or heat. Cupid uses poisoned darts. Prophylaxis? There is none except, perhaps, books and hard study, though 274 even these have been known to fail. Still, in the present state of medical science, we must be thankful for small mercies.

Now, with all respect to Love “cultivations,” as Pasteur would call them, there is as much uncertainty about the business as in uglier maladies. For think what Love is—inoculation from a well-aimed bolt of Cupid. Now Cupid hits whom he wills, and you cannot hire the god by the day to go shooting with you; you cannot indicate his mark, direct his aim, or choose his weapon. He will not lend his bow and arrows, neither can he be wooed by cajolery nor coaxed by prayer. He is the most independent little deity, and cares for nothing but having his own sweet will upon us mortals. What he is chiefly to be praised for is the absence of favouritism and perfect impartiality which he always shows. None ever bribed him, none ever clad himself in panoply impervious to his darts. You may be hit before your beard has downed your chin with faintest bloom. You may go shot free till you are grey and bent, and then have to plaster up your hurt when you should be composing your epitaph, like the poor old queen in Browning’s play.

Love is like inspiration; it is not to be commanded, bought, or sold, not even given when deserved. The most unworthy are often most favoured, and the faithful suppliants at the capricious god’s gates often go empty away. You may go “far from the madding crowd,” and hide yourself in the desert. You may bury yourself in a cave in the Thebaid, as the hermits of Egypt did, and you will be hit; while you might have been unscathed in the assemblies of Beauty. Ah, the lives of the Thaumaturgists tell us nothing about all this! Like the testimonials to the quack medicines, we know all about the cures, but what about the failures? Do you think St. Simeon Stylites, atop of his pillar, was out of reach of that bow? Not he! Is he not an ungrateful archer? Does he not come creeping to our doors with wet wings and cold body, craving our warmth and food, and then transfix us? That is just his way, 275 the rogue. “All is fair in love and war,” he cries; and so he transfixed our hero, and wonderful to relate on this occasion benevolently hit our heroine too—double violence. He is not always in this humour. That is the worst of it! When maid and swain are wounded at once, Romeo and Juliet like, where is the harm, though poison and the tomb follow with winged feet? To have loved so is worth the cost. The mischief of it is, when one truly loves, and the other thinks perhaps she loves, and is not hit at all. That is just where all the misery comes, for you can’t catch love like the cholera, by frightening yourself into it. You must have the true vaccine or you won’t get the vesicle. Is not that a horrible simile? Does Cupid poison his darts, and is it a disease he produces after all, and is he a doctor? Hush! The euphemism for the Erinnyes was Eumenides, remember. Do not let us draw their attention by needless plain speaking.

So when Mildred had departed from Granada, and Elsworth was left alone and had time to examine his hurt, he found it was deep. Things were not the same to him as before that day when he rushed out to drive away the rude children who were annoying her. “Ah, blessed children,” he would often say, “you opened heaven to me!”

“O love, my love! if I no more should see
Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,—
How then should sound upon Life’s darkening slope
The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
The wind of Death’s imperishable wing?”

Here in this out-of-the-way corner of civilization, then, he had been unearthed, and it was no longer possible to shut himself from the observation of his friends and relatives; he would soon have to return to society and explain his conduct.

He was fain to confess that his energies had long demanded a wider field for their exercise. He had done a certain amount 276 of work which would last. Tho seed sown must bear fruit some day, and in the voluntary retirement he had embraced, he had found a strong internal felicity which could have come to him in no other way. A growing conviction took hold of him that he was being prepared, by an unseen Hand, for some great work which would require all that self-command, that conviction of right, that neglect of selfish ease, which had come to him during these Spanish days. He had found that in the lowest of our race, there is lying dormant that spark of the Divine essence which needs but the call of sympathy to awaken. With these poor folk he had spent some of the happiest years of his life, among them had found many real friends, and had learned in their company a thousand things to enable him to benefit mankind.



I have no title to aspire,
Yet when you sink I seem the higher.—Swift.

The greatest professor and proficient in any science loves it not so sincerely as to be fully pleased with any finer effort than he can himself produce—Lacon.

Dr. Sones had pursued his investigations till he had made the great discovery of a test for the active principle of the poisonous fungi. He clearly demonstrated that the poison of the deadly Russian fungus was identical with that absorbed by the handkerchiefs which Mrs. Crowe’s maid had given to Mr. Mole. Here then was the detection of a horrible crime! He of course lost no time in communicating these important results to Mr. Mole, whose triumph was complete. They held long deliberation as to what was to be done. In the minds of both these experts there was no doubt of the guilt of Mr. Crowe; but was it advisable to bring his guilt home to him? They decided it was not possible, nor was it expedient even were it in their power. But Mr. Mole determined to do one thing that would test the matter pretty closely. He wrote a learned and exhaustive paper for the Medical Society of the Hospital on “The Physiological and Chemical Tests of the Poisonous Principles of Fungi,” and read it. Mr. Crowe, who was the chairman of the Society, wrote, an hour or two before the meeting, that “important engagements would prevent him 278 having the extreme pleasure of being present that evening to hear Mr. Mole’s deeply interesting paper.”

Dr. Wilson occupied his place, and so highly did he and the rest of the staff and students present think of the monograph that it was ordered to be printed and circulated at the Society’s expense. Mr. Mole received the warm congratulations of the audience, and it was felt that he had conferred honour on his alma mater by his original research.

The next morning, when Mr. Crowe heard the report of the evening’s work—the nature of the long course of investigations, the Russian treatise which had fallen so strangely into his assistant’s hands, the discovery of the tests and the other points that indicated, as by the finger of an avenging angel, his guilt and downfall—he knew Mole was on his track, knew that he was in his power, and that his doom had come. He was alone with his crime; his murdered wife was avenged. He turned from his pupils, who eagerly questioned him as to his opinion on this and the other points of Mole’s paper, went into his laboratory, seized a bottle of prussic acid, drank its contents, and was a corpse before his class had left the lecture theatre. Everybody attributed the awful tragedy to jealousy of Mole’s success. Two men knew the secret, and kept it. Two women guessed it, and told their suspicions. Gradually, like a bad vapour spread by the law of diffusion of gases, all the world had an inkling of the crime. But Mole and Sones held their peace; and when the former was elected to the vacant chair of physiology at St. Bernard’s, there was only one man besides the occupier of the post who knew the steps by which it had been reached.

Mr. Mole proved a failure; his great monograph was all the original work he ever did, and he lived a poor and obscure man. He never married Janet, after all, so that her Egyptian gentleman misled her no less than the little physiologist. Dr. Sones still occupies his old quarters, and now and then gets a thrill of ecstatic delight as he makes some new discovery in his 279 favourite study; and though he does not acquire a fortune, he gets what he values more—a little fame from time to time in the chemical journals of Europe. His good sister still befriends his poor clients; and even his Board of Guardians acknowledges that, in the medical officer of the south ward of their parish and his estimable sister, they have full value for the salary they pay their doctor. This has actually been admitted at the Board, and nobody opposed it—a fact going far to prove that the officer must either be a very good or an exceedingly bad one.

*       *       *       *       *

When Mildred returned to England, she found amongst her correspondence a prospectus of the new hospital and nursing home, with a note from Sister Agnes, asking her to visit the little colony and hospital on her return. Mildred seemed to see in all this the hand of Providence pointing her future course. Was it not strange that her meeting with Elsworth, and the history of his work, should have aroused her interest in, and awakened a desire to promote a similar scheme on a large scale, and immediately on her return to find that the same idea had occurred to her good friend, Sister Agnes? The prospectus declared that the new hospital scheme had proved perfectly feasible, all that was wanting was the necessary money to develop and extend it. For this object a drawing-room meeting was to be held in Kensington Gore in a few days, and Sister Agnes earnestly besought her presence. Mildred was not long in finding her way down to the East End, and assuring her friends at Nightingale Home of her interest in the good work they had so well begun. She paid such frequent visits that at last Aunt Janet jokingly remarked that she fully expected soon to see her don the habit of a sisterhood, unless perchance anybody should come along to forbid the sacrifice.

As she said this, she held up a letter which she had received that morning from Elsworth, announcing his intention to return at once to England, inasmuch as the news had reached him 280 from his men of business, that his father, Major Elsworth, was dead, he having been seized with a fit of apoplexy while engaged at a meeting of the Theosophical Society of Benares.

When Elsworth received the news of his father’s death, he felt that he could no longer remain in Spain. Apart from the necessity of visiting England on business, he yearned to be nearer his newly found friends. Poor fellow, he felt the need of “congenial sympathy”—at least, so he said to himself. The death of his father and the thoughts of Mildred (and Aunt Janet) combined to make him think that gipsies and cholera patients did not completely fill the void in his heart. Aunt Janet had corresponded with him, and spoke in such terms of Mildred that he would have been foolish not to take encouragement from her tone and follow up his advantage. Aunt Janet was evidently developing into a match-maker. She was, in fact, so impressed with Elsworth that, highly as she valued Mildred, she did not consider her a whit too good for such a man. A girl’s women-folk usually think no man is good enough to marry her. Very likely they are right; still, there are some Elsworths yet in the world.

Six months after Mildred’s visit to Granada, Elsworth, the exile, returned to London. His first visit was to St. Bernard’s. Having entered as a perpetual student, he had the right to all the advantages of the hospital for life. He saw the warden and several of the staff, explained the reasons of his absence, and requested that his name might at once be put down for the appointments he had the right to hold. As it happened, there was a vacant house-physicianship just then at his service, and, as he was very popular at the place, he went into residence almost at once.

It was not long before he looked up Aunt Janet and Mildred. That was the arrangement on his surface mind—his deeper soul said “Mildred and Aunt Janet,” but he did not permit this to be audible to his own ears. He feared she was too high for him; her wealth had placed a barrier between her 281 and his striving. Still, he could call upon Aunt Janet, and that would be something towards keeping up the acquaintance with Mildred.

As soon as it became known that Elsworth had turned up again, he had visits from many old friends. Alas! some of his former acquaintances were dead; others had gone hopelessly to the dogs. Many were in good practice—some in London, others in the country. A few had spent the interval in going backwards and forward as surgeons in ships trading to the Antipodes: but there were at least a dozen fellows who, having failed to pass any of their examinations, were still hanging about the hospital, which was heartily ashamed of them, while they divided their time impartially between the dissecting-room and the neighbouring taverns. Of course, it was not to many of these Elsworth told the story of his going, but it soon oozed out. Was he chaffed? Not the least. The lowest mind, the most besotted intellect admires and respects the genuine conversion of a sinner, even as the angels rejoice at the fact. Not that Elsworth would now, in the strength he had imbibed from his long communion with God, have cared in the least for the jeers of these men. He was quite strong enough now to

“Take temptation by the head and hair.”

He was very popular with all the staff, but still more with the patients and the nurses; not quite so popular with the students. They might tax his energies to the utmost; he never tired of helping them to learn all they could learn honestly and fairly, but with him it was patient first and pupils next; no tricks were played upon the occupants of any beds in his wards. He had been just two months in his post as resident physician, when the secretary of the hospital sent for him to his office, to ask him if he would like to take a rather valuable appointment as resident surgeon to the Nightingale 282 Hospital. He had been told by Miss Mildred Lee that he was just the man they wanted for their new charity.

The secretary was compelled to give the invitation himself, as the staff would not even recognise the place. When the doctors heard of the new hospital, they poured their scorn and contempt upon it. “The newest fad of the faddists;” “the humanitarian craze of the shrieking sisterhood;” “the college of all the antis,” and the like complimentary epithets were bestowed upon it.

Of course none of them would give it the least of their countenance or support, and all would have dealt hardly with any friends who helped it.

Elsworth thought he would like this position above all things, and lost no time in calling upon Mildred for further particulars. He learned from Aunt Janet that her niece had absolutely made over the great bulk of her fortune to the trustees of the new buildings, and had besides interested some wealthy friends who rendered valuable assistance; and that, so convinced were they that he was the man for the post of medical superintendent, that they begged him to accept it, with the stipend of £500 a year. Elsworth did not hesitate, but accepting the offer at once, set to work to elaborate a scheme for the efficient conduct of an institution so consonant with his ideal of what a true hospital should be.

At first it was not proposed to establish a Medical School, as it would involve too great an expenditure for their present means. But such an institution would ultimately be included in the work proposed, as they considered that it was perfectly possible efficiently to educate men for the medical profession, if they were of worthy material, without entailing suffering, shame, or loss on man, woman, or child.

Of course Aunt Janet knew perfectly well that Mildred and Elsworth loved each other, though neither had given her any real cause for speaking on the subject. The great difficulty was the heiress’ wealth; to a man of Elsworth’s principle this 283 would ever prove a barrier to any avowal of his passion. He would have hidden his love to his life’s end, sooner than be suspected of designs upon her fortune. By the death of his father, he was in a position to maintain a wife in a sufficient luxury, for the Major had left him a very handsome provision, but this was far below what he considered enough for Mildred. When, however, her niece had finally disburdened herself of the greater portion of her golden encumbrance, Aunt Janet thought that as an equilibrium was more nearly approached, he might be encouraged a little; and she did not hesitate to let him know he might avow himself with some prospect of success.



Pass on, young stream, the world has need of thee;
Far hence a mighty river on its breast
Bears the deep-laden vessels to the sea;
Far hence wide waters feed the vines and corn.
Pass on, small stream, to so great purpose born,
On to the distant toil, the distant rest.
Augusta Webster.

Five years after Elsworth’s marriage a great meeting of nobility and others interested in hospital and charitable work in the metropolis, met at a ducal residence in Kensington to found a society for the purpose of establishing in every quarter of London inhabited by working people, a small hospital and nursing institute on the plan of the Nightingale institution. This was proposed to be combined with a similar scheme of civilizing work to that conducted by the Home of the same name.

It was felt and cordially expressed that so admirable were the results of the work done by this institution, that society owed it to the poorer districts of the metropolis at once to do this much towards remedying the terrible and growing evils caused by the withdrawal of the gentry from the working neighbourhoods of London; and that the growing discontent of the people could best be allayed by such a scheme carried out in its integrity.

One of the speakers said that each place would involve an 285 expenditure of not more than twelve hundred pounds a year, which sum he believed was about the cost of keeping the rhinoceros at the Zoological Gardens. It was not disputed that there were hundreds of ladies leading perfectly idle and useless lives in the West End who would gladly devote themselves to such a work if it were made practicable; and it seemed to the speakers that no missionary work could have such a claim on Christian people as this. The result of the meeting was that in a few days large sums of money were placed at the disposal of the committee, and some fifty ladies of wealth and position offered themselves for personal service in its cause.

Elsworth is now engaged in a scheme for a General Hospital of 200 beds, with a Medical School attached to it; the latter being for the purpose of educating on humane principles such young men as may desire to devote themselves to the healing art on the lines laid down by the Founder of that faith from which has sprung all the charities of modern Christendom.

It is thought that should this plan meet with the success which has attended other hospitals founded on similar principles, it will be ultimately possible to re-direct our richly endowed charities to the purposes intended by their founders and supporters. For many years it was loudly maintained by the doctors that patients could not recover from many illnesses without the liberal use of alcoholic stimulants. The success of the Temperance Hospital has upset that “idol of the schools.” The physiological mania, the drug mania, and the operative furor will all in time pass away like the craze for bleeding, and it will ultimately be found that it is perfectly possible to cure the sick and save the limbs of the injured by merciful, honourable, and rational means. But then it will want merciful, honourable, and rational Christian gentlemen to do all this. Nous verrons.



When the world has been dowered with a great truth, the boon comes usually as a germ. The world always looks for its Messiah as a crowned King, and neglects its infant Jesus in the manger. No great truth flashes on the world all at once; great forces work ever most silently. Even the Christ of God so little affected the contemporary history of His period that scarce any record is found of His work in the secular literature of the time.

The seeds of truth, placed in favourable conditions, can no more help growing than the sun can help shining; both fulfil the laws which are behind them; and it is a source of infinite solace to the noble men and women who are striving to benefit the world by their words and works that no great idea founded on the truth of God can either perish or fail of its mission. The work of Mildred and Harrowby Elsworth must ultimately succeed; its principles must in time dominate the conduct of the great medical charities of our land. When the air and light of day are let in upon the foul accumulations of scientific error which have lately been infecting their atmosphere, their antiseptic influence will kill the bacteria of a “science falsely so called.”


“The Doctrine of Descent.” Oscar Schmidt.

Browning: “Ring and Book,” vol. iv. p. 60.

Virchow’s Archiv., xli. 101.

Dublin Journal, xlvii. 325.

Bull. Therap., lxxiii. 253. 290.


This text has been preserved as in the original, including archaic and inconsistent spelling, punctuation and grammar, except as noted below.

Obvious printer’s errors have been silently corrected.

Footnotes have been renumbered and moved to the end of the text.

Contents, Chapter XXIV, page number was changed from 153 to 152 to correspond to the actual chapter beginning page number.

Contents, Chapter XXXI, title is “Gospel at Work” and chapter title is “Gospel of Work” which was retained.