The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Funny Side of Physic, by A. D. Crabtre

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Title: The Funny Side of Physic

Author: A. D. Crabtre

Release Date: December 10, 2012 [EBook #41595]

Language: English

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Humorous and Serious Sides of Medical Practice.








Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



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The books which most please while instructing the reader, are those which mingle the lively and gay with the sedate spirit in the narration of important facts. The verdict of the reader of this work must be (it is modestly suggested), that the author has luckily hit the happy vein in its construction.

Of all facts which bear upon human happiness or sorrow, those which serve to increase the former, and alleviate or banish the latter, are most desirable for everybody to know; and of all professions which most intimately concern the personal well-being of the public at large, that of the physician is most important. The author of this book has spared no pains of research to collect the facts of which he discourses, and has endeavored to cover the whole ground embraced by his subject with pertinent and important suggestions, statements, scientific discoveries, incidents in the career of great physicians, etc., and to fix them in the reader’s mind by apt anecdotes, which will be found in abundance throughout the work.

There is no better man in the world than the true physician, and no more base wretch than the ordinary “Quack,” or medical charlatan. If the author has spared no pains of study to make his book acceptable, he may be said, also, to have as unsparingly visited his indignation upon the quacks who have all along the line of historic medicine disgraced the physician’s and the surgeon’s profession.

The general public but little understand what a vast amount of ignorance has at times been cunningly concealed by medical practitioners, and how grossly the people of every city and village are even nowadays trifled with by some who arrogate to themselves the honorable title of Doctor of Medicine.

Herein not only the base and the good physician, but the honorable and the trifling apothecary, receive their due reward, or well-merited punishment, so far as the pen can give them. The reader will be utterly surprised when he comes to learn how the[Pg 4] quacks of the past and the present have brought themselves into note by tricks and schemes very similar and equally infamous. The wanton trifling with the health and life of their patients, the greed of gain, and the perfect destitution of all moral nature, which some of these men have exhibited in their career, are astounding.

The apothecaries, as well as physicians, are descanted on, and the miserable tricks to which the large majority of them resort, exposed. The public will be astonished to find what trash in the matter of drugs it pays for; how filthy, vile, and often poisonous and hurtful materials people buy for medicines at extortionate prices; how even the syrups which they drink in soda drawn from costly and splendid fountains are often made from the most filthy materials, and are not fit for the lower animals, not to say human beings, to drink. And this fact is only illustrative of hundreds of others set forth in this work.

This work not only exposes the multifold frauds of quacks, apothecaries, travelling doctors, soothsayers, fortune-tellers, certain clairvoyants, and “spiritual mediums,” and the like, who “practise medicine” to a more or less extent, or profess to discover and heal diseases,—but it points out to the reader the most approved rules for protecting the health, and recovering it when lost. In short, it is a work embodying the most sound advice, founded upon the judgment of the best physicians of the past and present, as tested in the Author’s experience for a period of twenty years’ active practice. In other words, it is a compendium of sound medical advice, as well as a racy, lively, and incisive dissection and exposure of the villanies of quacks and other medical empirics, etc.

Persons of all ages will find the work not only interesting to read, but most valuable in a practical sense. To the young who would shun the crafts and villanies to which they must be exposed as they grow up,—for all are liable to be more or less ill at times,—it will prove invaluable, enabling them to detect the spurious from the reliable in medicine, and how to judge between the pretentious charlatan (even enjoying a large ride) and the true physician. And none are so old that they may not reap great advantages from the work.



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1. A. D. CRABTRE, M. D., Frontispiece.
14. “IT’S ALL A HUMBUG,” 82
25. “POH! YOU’RE A GIRL,” 141
26. “HERE WE GO UP-UP-UPPY,” 148
33. TOO MUCH HAT, 179
[Pg 15]47. GRAPES AND WINE, 226
62. A GHOST IN CAMP, 285
63. OLD NAGLES, 286
75. SUN-SUNDAY, 310
76. MOON-MONDAY, 313
85. “WHO-A’-YOO?” 333
98. ALL WOOL, 361
100. THE BEGGAR BOY, 366
101. REMORSE, 368
102. THE LOST HEIR, 373
[Pg 16]103. A MORNING CALLER, 375
104. “WHY DID I TAZE YE?” 376
106. THE BETRAYED, 382
108. A SAN BENITO PIG, 388
111. A SLIPPER-Y FEE, 397
112. A LIVING FEE, 399
113. STUFFED PETS, 400
120. A WOMAN’S REBUKE, 417
129. DEATH’S FEE, 436
131. MY FIRST LOVE, 439
136. AN AGED PUPIL, 453
139. LOVE’S LINKS, 460
141. A HARD SUBJECT, 467
144. “A BOTTLE, A HEN, OR A WOMAN,” 477
151. NO TIME TO LOSE, 500
[Pg 17]159. PUMPING AN OLD LADY, 537
163. STUCK! 547
164. COMMERCE, 549
165. A GOOD LIVER, 551
169. “THE DOCTOR ON A SOW!” 565
171. “ONLY IRISH BEER,” 568
180. FOUNTAIN, 598
185. “WHAT’S IN THE MILK?” 606
202. THE SMOKER, 647
203. THE CHEWER, 648
209. THE NEWSBOY, 658
[Pg 18]215. THE UNDERTAKERS’ ARMS, 671
217. A WIG MOUSE, 674
223. THE ITCH MITE, 689
225. HARVESTED, 694
229. “BLEED HIM,” 704
231. JOB’S DECISION, 708
233. “WILL YE TAK’ A BLAST, NOO?” 720
235. “IT ISN’T CATCHIN’,” 724
243. VIRTUE, 747
245. “IT COSTS NOTHING,” 766



[Pg 19]



Marina. ... Should I tell my history,
’Twould seem like lies disdained in the reporting.
Pericles. Pray thee, speak.—Shakspeare.



Medical humbugs began to exist with the first pretenders to the science of healing. Quacks originated at a much later period. So materially different are the two classes, that I am compelled to treat of them separately.

The word humbug is a corruption of Hamburg, Germany, and seems to have originated in London. The following episode is in illustration of both its origin and meaning:—

“O, Bridget, Bridget!” exclaimed the fashionable mistress of a brown stone front in Fifth Avenue, New York, to her surprised servant girl, “what have you been doing at the front door?”

“Och, murther! Nothin’, ma’am.”

“Nothing!” repeated the mistress.

“Yes’m—that is—” stammered Bridget, greatly embarrassed.

[Pg 20]“What were you doing at the front door but a moment since?”

“Nothin’, ma’am, but spakin’ to me cousin; he’s a p’leeceman, ma’am, if ye plaze, ma’am,” replied Bridget, dropping a low courtesy to the mistress.

“No, no; I did not mean that. But haven’t you been cleaning the door-knob and the bell-pull?”

“Yes’m,” replied Bridget, changing from embarrassment to surprise.

“Why, Bridget, didn’t I tell you never to polish the front door-knobs during the warm season? Now my friends will think that I have returned from Saratoga—”

“And is it to Saratogy ye’ve been, ma’am?” exclaimed Bridget.

“No, you dunce; but was not the front of the house closed, and the servants forbidden to polish the plates and glass, that my friends might be led to believe we had all gone to the watering-place?”

That was true humbug. Double humbuggery! for the servant girl was humbugging her mistress by pretending to polish the door-knobs, while she was really coqueting with a policeman; and the mistress was humbugging her friends into the belief that the house was closed, and the family gone to Saratoga.

So, Hamburg, on the Elbe, being a fashionable resort of the upper-ten-dom of London, those who would ape aristocracy, yet being unable to bear the expense of a trip to the Continent, closed the front of their dwellings, moved into the rear, giving out word that they had gone to Hamburg.

When a house was observed so closed, with a notice on the door, the passers by would wag their heads, and exclaim, questionably, “Ah, gone to Hamburg!” or, “All gone to Hamburg!” “It’s all Hamburg!” and so on. And, like a thousand other words in the English language, this became corrupted, and “humbug” followed. Hence, taking[Pg 21] the sense from the derivation of the word, humbug means “an imposition, under fair pretences;” cheat; hoax; a deception without malicious intent. Webster says it is “a low word.”

The humbugs in medicine, we assert, began to exist with the first persons of whom we have any account in the history of the healing art. Among the early Egyptian physicians, Æsculapius was esteemed as the most celebrated. He was the first humbug in his line. However, nearly all the accounts we have of him are mythological. If we are to credit the early writers, this great healer restored so many to life, that he greatly interfered with undertaker Pluto’s occupation, who picked a quarrel with Æsculapius, and the two referred the matter to Jupiter for adjudication.

But we may go back of this “god of medicine.” If he was physician to the Argonauts, we must fix the date of his great exploits at about the year B. C. 1263. It is claimed by good authority that the Book of Job dates back to B. C. 1520, and is the oldest book extant. Herein we find Job saying, “Ye are forgers of lies; ye are all physicians of no value.” Since his friends were trying their best to humbug him, Job certainly intimates that physicians—some of them, at least—were looked upon as humbugs. But, then, Job was only an Arab prince; not an Israelite, at all; nor does he condescend to mention that “peculiar people” in his book. And besides, what reliance can be based upon the opinion of a man respecting physicians, whose only surgical instrument consisted of a “piece or fragment of a broken pot”?

Therefore, leaving the “Arab prince,” we will turn for a moment to the early Jewish physicians. Josephus does not enlighten us much respecting them. The Old Testament makes mention of physicians in three instances,—the last figuratively.

The first instance—a rather amusing one—where [Pg 22]physicians are mentioned in the sacred writings, is in 2 Chron. xvi. 12: “And Asa, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, was diseased in his feet, until the disease was exceeding great; yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.” The compiler adds, very coolly, as though a natural consequence, “And Asa slept with his fathers!” This reminds us of an anecdote by the late Dr. Waterhouse. An Irishman obtained twenty grains of morphine, which, instead of quinine, he took at one dose, to cure the chills. The doctor, in relating it long afterwards, added, laconically, “He being a good Catholic, his funeral was numerously attended.”

For generations nearly all the pretensions to healing were made by the priests and magicians, who humbugged and “bamboozled” the ignorant and superstitious rabble to their hearts’ content. Kings and subjects were alike believers in the Magi. Saul believed in the magic powers of the “witch of Endor.” The wicked king Nebuchadnezzar classed Daniel and his three companions with the magicians, although Daniel (chap. xi. 10) denied the imputation. Joseph laid claim to the power of divination; for, having caused the silver cup to be placed in the sack of corn, and after having sent and brought his brother back, he said (Gen. xliv. 15), “What deed is this that ye have done? Wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?” It seemed necessary to deal with the people according to their belief. It was useless to dispute with them. As late as the preaching of Paul and Barnabas, the whole nations of Jews and Greeks were so tinctured with belief in magic and enchantment in healing, taught and promulgated by the priesthood, that when the apostles healed the cripple of Lystra, the rabble, headed by the priests, cried out, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” And they called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercurius.

The town clerk in the theatre said to the excited crowd,[Pg 23] “These men are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”

Diana was appealed to for women in childbirth; Mercurius for the healing of cutaneous diseases (herpes), probably because he carried a herpe, or short sword, also, at times, the caduceus; and Jupiter for various diseases. But to return to the times of Saul and David.

It seems that the business became overcrowded, and the vilest and most degraded of both sexes swelled the ranks of sorcerers, astrologers, and spiritualists, until every class and condition of people became impregnated with these beliefs, from kings to the lowest subject. Finally, the strong arm of the law laid hold of them, and the edict went forth that “a witch shall not live,” that “a wizard shall be put to death,” and that “the soothsayer be stoned.”

Nevertheless, the wretches continued to practise their deceptions, but less openly for a time, and they are made mention of throughout the sacred writings, until “the closing of the canon.”

But the Scriptures are almost totally silent on surgery, and the remedies resorted to by those pretending to the science—as also by physicians and priests—were such as to lead us to believe that their materia medica was very limited. Under the head of Ridiculous Prescriptions, we shall mention these remedies:—

The earliest record we find of surgical operations in the Old Testament is in Judges xix. 29,—a “capital operation,” we may judge, for the account informs us that the patient, a woman, “was divided into twelve pieces.”

Turning to the profane writers for information, we plunge into an abyss of uncertainty, with this exception; that the practice of medicine—it could not be called a science—was still in the hands of the priesthood, and partook largely of the fabulous notions of the age, being connected almost entirely with idolatries and humbuggeries. The cunning[Pg 24] priests caused the rabble, from first to last, to believe that all disease was inflicted, not from the violation of the laws of nature, but by some angry and outraged divinity, whose wrath must be appeased by bribes (paid to the priests), by incantations, and absurd ceremonies, or else the afflicted victim must die a painful death, and forever after suffer a more horrible eternity. The priests’ receiving the pay reminds us of the following little anecdote.

A very pious man, recently congratulating a convalescing patient upon his recovery, asked his friend who had been his physician.

“Dr. Blank brought me safely through,” was his reply.

“No, no,” said the friend, “God brought you out of this affliction, and healed you,—not the doctor.”

“Well,” replied the man, “may be he did; but I am sure that the doctor will charge me for it.”

The offices of priest and physician were united among the Jews, Heathens, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. The Druids (from draoi, magician) ruled and ruined the ancient Celts, Gauls, Britons, and Germans. The people of these nations looked up to the priests as though life and death and immortality hung only upon their lips. Among our aborigines we have also examples of the double office of priest and “medicine man.” And it is an astonishing fact, that notwithstanding the ignorance of the pretenders to healing, or the ridiculousness of the prescriptions, or the exorbitant fees, the rabble of the age relied upon them with the most implicit confidence. If the patient recovered, the priests—embodying the gods—had restored them by their great skill and the favor of some particular divinity, and so were worshipped, and again rewarded with other fees to offer sacrifices to the individual god who was supposed to favor the priest or wizard. If he died it was the will of the gods that it should so be, and the friends lost none of their faith in the abilities of their medical and spiritual advisers.

[Pg 25]The priests could not be disposed of so easily as the witches and wizards were supposed to have been, for they kept the people under greater fear, and held the balance of power in their own hands. The only difference between the priests and wizards was, that the former claimed to exercise their arts by the power of the gods, while the latter were said to be assisted by the evil spirits. The priests claimed this in the times of Christ, and tried to persuade the rabble that he was assisted by Beelzebub. While the grasping priesthood professed poverty and self-denial, they were continually enriching themselves by robberies and extortions upon the ignorant and superstitious common people.

A mirth-provoking anecdote is told of Robin Hood and two friars, which we cannot forbear relating here as illustrative of the above assertion. If our readers regard stories from such a source as very uncertain, we have only to reply that we are now dealing with “uncertainties.”

“One day, Robin disguised himself as a friar, and went out on the highway. Very soon he met two priests, to whom he appealed for charity in the blessed Virgin’s name.

“‘That we would do, were it in our power,’ they replied.

“‘I fear you are so addicted to falsehood, I cannot believe that you have no money, as you say. However, let us all down on our marrow bones, and pray the Virgin to send us some money.’

“‘No, no,’ replied the priests; ‘it is of no use.’

“‘What! have you no faith in your patron saint? Down, I say, and pray.’

“In fear, down fell the two priests, and Robin by their side, and all prayed most lustily.

“‘Now feel in your pockets,’ said Robin, rising.

“‘There is nothing,’ they replied, plunging their hands deep into their cloaks.

“‘Down again, and pray harder,’ shouted Robin, drawing his sword.

[Pg 26]“Down they fell, and mumbled over their Latin, but declared the gods had sent them nothing.

“‘I do not believe you,’ said Robin; ‘you ever were a pack of liars. Let each stand a search, that we deceive not each other.’ So Robin turned his own empty pockets wrong side out, then compelled the friars to follow suit, when lo! out fell five hundred pieces of gold.

“When Robin saw this glorious sight, he berated the priests soundly, and taking the gold, went away to Sherwood, and made merry at the expense of the church.”

About 1185 B. C. we find among the Grecians some traces of what was termed the healing art. But fact and fable, history and mythology, are so mixed and blended, that it is impossible to gain any reliable information so far back.

Chiron is made mention of as having acquired much celebrity as a physician. It is claimed that he was learned in the arts and sciences, that he taught astronomy to Hercules, music to Apollo, and medicine to Æsculapius, who came from Egypt. From what can be gleaned, of reliability, it seems that he employed simple medicines, and possessed some knowledge of dressing wounds and reducing fractures and dislocations; but no doubt he pretended to greater things than the times would warrant, for, when shot by an arrow from the bow of Hercules, his former pupil, he was unable to heal the wound, and begged Jupiter to “set him up” among the stars, which request was complied with, and Chiron was translated to the heavens, where he still shines in the constellation Sagittarius, represented as a centaur, with drawn bow, driving before him the other eleven signs of the zodiac.

We have alluded to Æsculapius, and, passing over all others of his class, we come to the times of Hippocrates.

Hippocrates is rightly called the “Father of Medicine,” for he was the first to raise medicine to a science. We mention him without classing him with humbugs; but[Pg 27] Menecrates, who flourished about the same time, arrived at great notoriety by ruse and deception. He was “famous for vanity and arrogance.” He went about accompanied by some patients, whom he claimed to have cured, as proofs of his great ability. One he disguised as Apollo, another he arrayed in the habit of Æsculapius, and sent them abroad to sound his praise, while he took upon himself the garb, and assumed the character, of Jupiter.

Pliny says that medicine was the last of the sciences introduced into Rome, and that the Septimont City was six hundred years without a regular physician. Archagathus, a Grecian, settled in Rome about 300 B. C., and if he was a fair sample of those who followed him, it had been better for Rome that it had remained another six hundred years “without a regular physician.” He introduced cruel and painful escharotics, and made free use of the knife and the lancet. He was a humbug of the first water, and a quack besides, and as such he was banished in a few years.

The Christian era introduced some light into the medical, as well as the religious world; yet we learn, by both sacred and profane writers, that truth and knowledge were the exceptions, and ignorance and humbug were the rule by which medicine was practised by those who pretended to the art. Names changed, characters remained the same.

The priests still held their own, and were not, as already shown, to be gotten rid of, as the witches and wizards, their rivals and imitators, by litigation, nor was their power broken until the Decree of the Council of Tours in 1163 A. D., which prohibited priests and deacons from performing certain surgical operations.

After the Reformation the vocations of spiritual and medical adviser diverged wider and wider, until now a priest or minister is seldom consulted for bodily infirmities, and only by persons of the most ignorant and superstitious denominations.

[Pg 28]Setting the priesthood aside did not suppress humbugs in medicine. In fact the profession went into disrepute, which the priests hastened, and a lower order of people took upon themselves the practice of deceiving the sick and afflicted. Now and then a greater humbug than common would spring up, and for a time draw the rabble after him, till the next arose to eclipse him.

From the discovery of America to about 1600, ambitious upstarts, humbugs, and seekers of fame and fortune were drawn away from the old world, and either for this reason, or because the biographers were attracted to a more interesting field, accounts of medical celebrities are very meagre; but from the latter period to the present day there has been no lack of records from which to draw our material.

During the 17th and 18th centuries medical impostors had things all their own way. Ignorance was no hinderance to advancement, socially or pecuniarily. Some men published, in their own names, voluminous works, in both English and Latin, which they themselves could not read. By soft words and cunning arts others gained high positions, and, without knowledge of the first branch of medical science, became “court physicians.”

From the lowest walks, they rose up on every side: from the cobbler’s bench, and the tailor’s board; from cutting up meat in the butcher’s shop, to “cutting up” naughty boys in a pedagogue’s capacity; from shaving the unwashed rabble behind the striped barber’s pole, to shaving their wives behind counters, where they measured the cloth of the weaver, they became cobblers of poor healths, butchers of men, and shavers of the invalided public. But these will be discoursed of under another head.

We here offer one proof of this state of affairs by a quotation from the original charter of the first College of Physicians, granted by Henry VIII., which reads, “Before this period a great multitude of ignorant persons, of which the[Pg 29] greater part had no insight into physic, nor into any other kind of learning,—some could not even read the Book,—so far forth that common artificers, as smiths, weavers, and women boldly and accustomedly took upon themselves great cures, to the high displeasure of God, great infamy of the faculty, and the grievous hurt, damage, and destruction of many of the king’s liege people.”

The meetings of this august body (College of Physicians) were held at the house of Dr. Linacre. “He was a gentleman of distinction, both as a physician and scholar.” He became disgusted with physic, and took “holy orders” five years before his death. He was one of the original petitioners of the charter, which complained that the above rabble of doctors could not read the Book (Bible). Now see the ignorance—the hypocrisy of the man!

Dr. Caius, who wrote his epitaph, says of Linacre, “He certainly was not a very profound theologian, for a short time before his death he read the New Testament for the first time, when, so greatly was he astonished at finding the rules of Christianity so widely at variance with their practice, that he threw down the sacred volume in a passion, saying, ‘Either this is not gospel, or we are not Christians.’” This was just prior to 1600.

This Dr. Caius is supposed to be the same character whom Shakspeare introduced in his “Merry Wives of Windsor;” and as it is a fact patent to all that the great poet had no very exalted opinion of doctors, and would “throw physic to the dogs,” it has been suggested that Caius was produced by him on that ground.

There are others of this and a later period, whom, though ranking amongst the greatest of humbugs, we defer mentioning here, but will notice in our chapter on quacks.

Mr. Jeaffreson, in his excellent work, “Book About Doctors,” to which work I am indebted for several anecdotes, says,—

[Pg 30]“The lives of three physicians—Sydenham, Sir Hans Sloane, and Heberden—completely bridge over the uncertain period between old empiricism and modern science.”

The former, Dr. Thomas Sydenham, was born at Windford Eagle, Dorsetshire, England, in 1624, and was esteemed as an excellent physician and profound scholar of his day. Nothing is known of his boyhood. For a time he was a soldier. He was about forty years old when admitted a member of the College of Physicians. Dr. Richard Blackmore, his contemporary, who was but a pedagogue at the outstart himself, but afterwards knighted as Sir Richard, says of Dr. Sydenham, “He was only a disbanded officer, who entered upon the practice of medicine for a maintenance, without any preparatory learning.” The fact of his possessing a diploma went for nothing, since Dr. Meyersbach obtained his about this time for a few shillings, and without the rudiments of an education, made a splendid living out of the credulity even of the most learned and fashionable classes of English society, and arrived at the height of honor and distinction.

The reader must admit that diplomas were cheap honors, when one was granted to a dog! A young English gentleman, for the sport of the thing, paid the price of a medical diploma soon after Dr. Meyersbach’s was granted, and had it duly recorded in the archives of the college (Erfurth) as having been awarded to Anglicus Ponto.

“And who was Anglicus Ponto?”

“None other than the gentleman’s dog—a fine mastiff.”

But this question was not asked till too late to prevent the joke. It had the good effect, however, to raise at once the price of degrees.

Dr. Sydenham published several medical works, copies of which are now extant, but his pretensions to skill availed him but little in time of need. His prescriptions—some of them, at least—were very absurd, and during his latter years, while enjoying a lucrative practice, and possessing[Pg 31] the utmost confidence of the bon ton, he suffered excruciating pains from the gout, which, with other complications, ended his days. “Physician, heal thyself.”




Dr. Blackmore, an aspirant to medical fame, applied to Dr. Sydenham, while residing in Pall Mall, with the following inquiry:—

“What is the best course of study for a medical student?”

“Read Don Quixote,” was Sydenham’s reply. “It is a very good book. I read it yet.” I find this in a biographical dictionary of 1779. While some biographers endeavor to pass this off as a joke, it is a well-known fact that the doctor was a sceptic in medicine, and those who knew him best believe that he meant just what he said.

On the arrival of Dr. Sloane in London, he waited on Dr. Sydenham, as being the great gun of the town at that time, and presented a letter of introduction, in which an enthusiastic friend had set forth Sloane’s qualifications in glowing language, as being perfected in anatomy, botany, and the[Pg 32] various branches of medicine. Sydenham finished the letter, threw it on the table, eyed the young man very sharply, and said,—

“Sir, this is all very fine, on paper—very fine; but it won’t do. Anatomy! botany! Nonsense. Why, sir, I know an old woman in Covent Garden who better understands botany; and as for anatomy, no doubt my butcher can dissect a joint quite as well. No, no, young man; this is all stuff. You must go to the bedside; it is only there that you can learn disease.”

In spite of this mortifying reception, however, Sydenham afterwards took the greatest interest in Dr. Sloane, frequently taking the young man with him in his chariot on going his rounds.

In “Lives of English Physicians,” the author, in writing of Dr. Sydenham, says, “At the commencement of his practice, it is handed down to us, that it was his ordinary custom, when consulted by patients for the first time, to hear attentively their story, and then reply, “Well, I will consider your case, and in a few days will prescribe something for you;” thereby gaining time to look up such a case. He soon learned that this deliberation would not do, as some forgot to return after “a few days,” and to save his fees he was obliged, nolens volens, to prescribe on the spot.

A further proof of his contemptible opinion of deriving knowledge from books, as expressed above to Dr. Blackmore, is exemplified and corroborated in an address to Dr. Mapletoft (1675).

“The medical art could not be learned so well and surely as by use and experience, and that he who would pay the nicest and most accurate attention to the symptoms of distempers, would succeed best in finding out the true means of cure.”

“Riding on horseback,” he says, in one of his books, “will cure all diseases except confirmed consumption.” How about curing gout?

[Pg 33]A very amusing, though painful picture, is drawn by Dr. Winslow, a reliable author of the seventeenth century, in his book, “Physic and Physicians:”—

“Dr. Sydenham suffered extremely from the gout. One day, during the latter part of his life, he was sitting near an open window, on the ground floor of his residence in St. James Square, inspiring the cool breeze on a summer’s afternoon, and reflecting, with a serene countenance and great complacency on the alleviation of human misery that his skill enabled him to give. Whilst this divine man was enjoying this delicious reverie, and occasionally sipping his favorite beverage from a silver tankard, in which was immersed a sprig of rosemary, a sneak thief approached, and seeing the helpless condition of the old doctor, stole the cup, right before his eyes, and ran away with it. The doctor was too lame to run after him, and before he could stir to ring and give alarm the thief was well off.”




This reminds one of a story of an old man who stood in a highway, leaning on his staff, and crying, in a feeble, croaking voice, “Stop thief! stop thief!”

[Pg 34]“What is the matter, sir?” inquired a fellow, approaching.

“O, a villain has stolen my hat from my head, and run away.”

“Your hat!” looking at the bare head; “why didn’t you run after him?”

“O, my dear sir, I can’t run a step. I am very lame.”

“Can’t run! then here goes your wig.” And so saying, the fellow caught the poor old man’s wig, and scampered away at the top of his speed.

Dr. Sydenham died December 29, 1689. He could not be termed a quack, but certainly he was a consummate humbug.

An author, before quoted, after copying a description of the “poor physician” of the age, adds,—

“How it calls to mind the image of Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, when, with a smattering of medical knowledge and a German diploma, he tried to pick out of the miseries and ignorance of his fellow-creatures the means of keeping soul and body together! He, too, poet and doctor, would have sold a pot of rouge to a faded beauty, or a bottle of hair dye, or a nostrum warranted to cure the bite of a mad dog.”

“Set a rogue to catch a rogue.” And to this principle we are indebted for the exposition of many fallacies and humbugs pursued by early physicians in order to gain practice.

“Dr. Radcliffe,” says Dr. Hannes, “on his arrival in London, employed half of the porters in town to call for him at the coffee-houses (a famous resort of physicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) and places of public resort, so that his name might become known.”

On the other hand, Radcliffe accused Dr. Hannes of the same trick a few years later. Doctors were doctors’ own worst enemies. Instead of standing by each other of the same school, in lip service, or passing by each other’s errors and imperfections in silence, as they do nowadays, they quarrelled continually, accusing each other of the very tricks they practised themselves.

[Pg 35]Of Dr. Meade it was confidently asserted, that without practice at first, he opened extensive correspondence with all the nurses and midwives in his vicinity, associated and conversed with apothecaries and gossips, who, hoping for his trade, would recommend him as a skilful practitioner. The ruse worked, and soon the doctor found his calls were bona fide. This is a trick that some American physicians we know of may have learned from Dr. Meade. Certainly they know and practise the deception.

When Dr. Hannes went to London, he opened the campaign with a coach and four. The carriage was of the most imposing appearance, the horses were the best bloods, sleek and high-spirited, the harnesses and caparisons of the richest mountings of silver and gold, with the most elegant trimmings.

“By Jove, Radcliffe!” exclaimed Meade, “Dr. Hannes’ horses are the finest I have ever seen.”

“Umph,” growled Radcliffe, “then he will be able to sell them for all the more.” But Dr. Radcliffe’s prognosis was at fault for once; and notwithstanding all the prejudice that Radcliffe and his friends could bring to bear against Hannes, and the lampooning verses spread broadcast against him, he kept his “fine horses,” and rode into a flourishing business.

To make his name known, Dr. Hannes used to send liveried footmen running about the streets, with directions to poke their heads into every coach they met, and inquire anxiously, “Is Dr. Hannes here?” “Is this Dr. Hannes’ carriage?” etc.

Acting upon these orders, one of these fellows, after looking into every carriage from Whitehall to Royal Exchange, ran into a coffee-house, which was one of the great places of meeting for members of the medical profession. Several physicians were present, among whom was Radcliffe.

“Gentlemen,” said the liveried servant, hat in hand, “can your honors tell me if Dr. Hannes is present?”

[Pg 36]“Who wants Dr. Hannes, fellow?” demanded Radcliffe.

“Lord A. and Lord B., your honor,” replied the man.

“No, no, friend,” responded the doctor, with pleasant irony; “those lords don’t want your master; ’tis he who wants them.”

The humbug exploded, but Hannes had got the start before this occurred.

A worthy biographer begins thus, in writing of Dr. Radcliffe: “The Jacobite partisan, the physician without learning, the luxurious bon vivant, Radcliffe, who grudged the odd sixpence of his tavern score,” etc., “was born in Yorkshire, in the year 1650.”

But notwithstanding Radcliffe’s plebeian birth, he died rich, therefore respected—a fact which hides many sins and imperfections. He not only humbugged the people of his day into the belief that he was a learned and eminent physician, but by his shrewdness in disposing of his gains, in bestowing wealth where it would tell in after years, when his body had returned to the dust from whence it came,—such as giving fifty thousand dollars to the Oxford University as a fund for the establishment of the great “Radcliffe Library,” etc.,—he succeeded in humbugging subsequent generations into the same belief.

Certainly there is room for a few more such humbugs.

Dr. Barnard de Mandeville, in “Essays on Charity and Charity Schools,” says of Radcliffe, “That a man with small skill in physic, and hardly any learning, should by vile arts get into practice, and lay up wealth, is no mighty wonder; but that he should so deeply work himself into the good opinion of the world as to gain the general esteem of a nation, and establish a reputation beyond all contemporaries, with no other qualities but a perfect knowledge of mankind, and a capacity of making the most of it, is something extraordinary.”

Mandeville further accuses him of “an insatiable [Pg 37]greediness after wealth, no regard for religion, or affection for kindred, no compassion for the poor, and hardly any humanity to his fellow-creatures; gave no proofs that he loved his country, had a public spirit, or love of the arts, books, or literature;” and asks, in summing up all this, “What must we judge of his motives, the principle he acted from, when after his death we find that he left but a mere trifle among his (poor) relatives who stood in need, and left an immense treasure to a university that did not want it?”

“Radcliffe was not endowed with a kindly nature,” says another writer. “Meade, I love you,” he is represented as saying to his fascinating adulator, “and I will tell you a secret to make your fortune. Use all mankind ill.”

Radcliffe had practised what he preached. Though mean and penurious, he could not brook meanness in others.

The rich miser, John Tyson, approximating his end, magnanimously resolved to pay two of his three million guineas to Dr. Radcliffe for medical advice. The miserable old man, accompanied by his wife, came up to London, and tottered into the doctor’s office at Bloomsbury Square.

“I wish to consult you, sir; here are two guineas.”

“You may go, sir,” exclaimed Radcliffe.

The old miser had trusted that he was unknown, and he might pass for a poor wretch, unable to pay the five guineas expected from the wealthy, as a single consultation fee.

“You may go home and die, and be d——d; for the grave and the devil are ready for Jack Tyson of Hackney, who has amassed riches out of the public and the tears of orphans and widows.”

As the miserable old man turned away, Radcliffe exclaimed, “You’ll be a dead man in less than ten days.”

It required little medical skill, in the feeble condition of the old man, in order to give this correct prognosis.

Radcliffe was the Barnum of doctors. “Omnia mutantur, et nos mutamus in illis,” exclaimed Lotharius the First. But[Pg 38] that “all things are changed, and we change with them,” did not apply to medical humbugs during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—no, nor in the nineteenth century, as we will show, particularly in our articles on Quacks and Patent Medicines.




The requisites essential to success are amusingly described by a writer of the former time, as follows:—

First. A decent black suit, and (if your credit will stretch so far), a plush jacket, not a pin the worse if threadbare as a tailor’s cloak—it shows the more reverend antiquity.

Second. You must carry a caduceus, or cane, like Mercury, capped with a civet-box (or snuff-box like Sir Richard’s), and must walk with becoming gravity, as if in deep contemplation upon an arbitrament between life and death.

Third. You must hire convenient lodgings in a respectable neighborhood, with a hatch[1] at the door; have your[Pg 39] reception-room hung with pictures of some celebrated physicians, ancient historical scenes, and anatomical plates, and the floor belittered with gallipots and half-empty bottles. Any sexton will furnish your window with a skull, in hope of your custom.

Fourth. Let your desk never be without some old musty Greek and Arabic authors, and on your table some work on anatomy, open at a picture page, to amuse, if not astonish spectators, and carelessly thrown on the same a few gilt shillings, to represent so many guineas received that morning as fees.

Fifth. Fail not to patronize neighboring alehouses, which may, in turn, recommend you to inquirers; and hold correspondence with all the nurses and midwives whose address you may obtain, to applaud your skill at gossiping.

Sixth. Be not over modest in airy pretensions, not forgetting that loquaciousness and impudence are essentials to gaining a fool’s confidence. In case you are naturally backward in language, or have an impediment of speech, you are recommended to persevere in a habit of mysterious and profound silence before patients, rendered impressive by grave nods and ahems.


Early French Physicians.

From what meagre biographies we have of French doctors of the past, we are led to believe that, as at the present time, the humbugs outnumbered the honest medical practitioners. In the days of Clovis and the great Charlemagne, before the power of Rome was broken, before Russia was a nation, and when England was subject to the caprices of many masters, there were many surgeons employed in the armies of these kings, but the priests and wizards were the physicians to the great public. The surgeons possessed all the knowledge there was to be attained at that distant day; yet they made the heart, not the brain, the centre of[Pg 40] thought, and “the palace of the soul,” knew little of anatomy, and nothing of the circulation of the blood.

The physicians of later periods held court positions by flattery, not by merit. This was particularly true up to and inclusive of the reign of “Louis le Grand.” Those who attended as physicians upon the court of this remarkable monarch of France for seventy-two years, received no stipend whatever, except the honor of holding so exalted a position as court physician to such a mighty ruler; and, notwithstanding the outside practice that this elevated station necessarily brought them, but few physicians could long bear the enormous expense attending that position.

Louis resided at a distance from his capital. His changes of residence were continual, and not without a design, and chiefly made for the purpose of creating and maintaining a number of artificial distinctions. By these he kept the court in a state of constant anxiety, expense, and expectation. When the next proposed change was announced, he had made it the fashion for courtiers to accompany him,—to Versailles, to St. Germain, or Marly,—and to occupy apartments near him, and the extravagance and magnificence in which he made it incumbent upon his followers to appear, with the frequent prescribed changes, rendered it too expensive a position for a man to sustain, unless possessed of a previous ample fortune. The surgeons of the armies were paid for their services.

Both Drs. O’Meara and Antommarchi have testified to Napoleon’s scepticism in medicine and distrust of physicians. But “surgeons are godlike,” he is represented as saying, and upon all worthy he bestowed the “Legion of Honor.”

At St. Helena, Dr. Antommarchi was endeavoring to persuade the emperor to take a simple remedy which he had prepared for him.

“Bah!” exclaimed Napoleon, “I cannot; it is beyond my power to take medicine.”

[Pg 41]“I pray your majesty to try,” entreated the doctor.

“The aversion I have for the slightest preparation is inconceivable. I have exposed myself to the dangers of the battle-field with indifference; I have seen death without betraying emotion; but to take medicine, I cannot,” was his reply.

Madame Bertrand, who was present, tried also to persuade the emperor to take the physician’s prescription.

“How do you manage to take all those abominable pills and drugs, Madame Bertrand, which the doctor is continually prescribing for you?” asked the emperor.

“O, I take them without stopping to think about it,” was her reply; “and I beg your majesty will do the same.”

Still the dying man shook his head, and appealed to General Montholon, who gave a similar answer.

“Do you think it will relieve me from this oppression, doctor?” he finally asked of Dr. Antommarchi.

“I do, my dear sire; and I entreat your majesty to drink it.”

“What is it?” asked Napoleon, eying the glass suspiciously.

“Merely some orange water,” was the reply.

“Give it me, then;” and the emperor seized the cup and drank the contents at one draught.

“The emperor has no faith in medicine, and never takes any,” said Las Cases, in his memoirs.

About the year 1723, a man sprang into notice in Paris, styling himself Dr. Villars. He claimed relationship to the Duke Louis Hector Villars, and the Abbe Pons is represented as saying that “Dr. Villars is superior to the great marshal, Louis Hector. The duke kills men,—the doctor prolongs their existence.”

Villars declared that his uncle, who had been killed at the age of one hundred years, and who might, but for his accidental death, have lived another half century, had confided to[Pg 42] him the secret of his longevity. It consisted of a medicine, which, if taken according to directions accompanying each bottle, would prolong the life of the fortunate possessor ad infinitum.

Villars employed several assistants to stand on the corners of the streets, and who, when a funeral was seen passing, would exclaim,—

“Ah! if the unfortunate deceased had but taken Dr. Villars’ nostrum, he might now be riding in his own carriage, instead of in a hearse.”

“Of course,” says our authority, “the rabble believed the testimony of such respectable and disinterested appearing witnesses, and made haste to obtain the doctor’s nostrum—and instructions.” And here is where the laugh comes in.

The patient received positive instructions to live temperately, to eat moderately, bathe daily, to avoid all excesses, to take steady and moderate exercise, to rise early, and, in fact, to obey all the laws of nature. Of course those who persevered in these instructions were greatly benefited thereby, and the dupes, attributing their recovery to the use of the nostrum, lauded the doctor.

The medicine, put up in a small bottle, carefully labelled, and sold for the modest sum of five francs, consisted of water from the River Seine, tinctured with a quantity of spirits of nitre. A few were wise enough to see the trick, but most people believed in the efficacy of the nostrum.

Unfortunately for Villars, he intrusted his secret to another, the humbug leaked out, and Othello’s occupation was gone; but not, however, until Villars had amassed a large fortune from the credulity of the public.

This brings to mind a story, the truth of which can be vouched for, respecting a New England doctor. His labels contained the following instructions:—

“The doctor charges you to take care of the health God has given you. In eating and exercise be moderate. Avoid[Pg 43] bad habits and excesses that sap the life from you. Use no salt pork, newly-baked fine bread, vinegar, coffee, strong tea, or spirits while taking this medicine. ’Tis not in the power of man to restore you to health unless you regard these directions.”

“What do you think of this?” asked the editor of a journal of Dr. P., former professor of H—— College, presenting a vial of the high dilution, as the medicine was, labelled as above.

“All very well,” the doctor replied, after having read the label; “for if the vial contains nothing but water, with just sufficient alcohol to keep it, a strict observance of these directions might restore you to health.”

“You have treated my case for a long time, doctor, and have never given me such instructions. Pray why don’t you get up something similar?”

“Well, what was his reply?” I asked, as the editor hesitated.

“O, he has not yet informed me.”


American Humbugs.

Humbug is not necessarily synonymous with ignorance. So far from it, that doubtless a very perfect and successful man in the art of humbugging must be educated to his business.

The following true statement is a case in point: A physician of New York, now in excellent standing, who “rolls in riches,” and whose own carriage is drawn by a span of horses that Bonner once might have envied, was but a few years ago as poor as a church mouse, and as unknown as Scripture. He had graduated with honors in Transylvania University, opened an office in a country town, where his knowledge and talents were unappreciated, and which place he abandoned after a twelve months’ patient waiting for a practice which did not come. He had become poorer every month, and but[Pg 44] for the kind assistance of early friends, must have perished of want.

“Either it is distressingly healthy here, or the good people are afraid to trust their lives and healths in the hands of an inexperienced physician,” he remarked to a friend to whom he applied for means for a new start elsewhere.

“And where will you try your luck next?” inquired his friend.

“In New York city.”

“In New York city?”

“Yes, and I shall there succeed,” he exclaimed, with great determination.

“Well, I hope in my heart of hearts you will,” was his friend’s reply, as he kindly loaned him the required sum of money.

Had his friend asked the advice of a third party before making the loan, doubtless the answer would have been something like the following, though it was respecting another case:—

“Dr. J. wants me to loan him some money for thirty days; do you suppose he will refund it?”

“What! lend him money?” was the reply. “He return it? No, sir; if you lend that man an emetic he would never return it.”

On his borrowed funds,—neither principal nor interest of which his kind friend ever expected him to be able to return,—the doctor entered the great metropolis. He hired a house in a respectable locality, and hung out his sign. During his long quiet days in the country village he had read a great deal, and was “up to the tricks” of his predecessors. He had particularly posted himself on the ways and means resorted to by some of those physicians, of whom we have already made brief mention, for getting into practice.

 [Pg 45]


[Pg 46] 

[Pg 47]“What avails it that I know as much as other physicians who have entered upon a practice? What does my diploma amount to if I have no patients?” he asked himself over and again. Practice was now his want, and this is the way he obtained it. Having read of a celebrated physician, who kept his few patients a long time in waiting, under pretence that he was preoccupied by the many who fortunately had preceded, our young physician adopted that great man’s tactics. For want of patients to keep in waiting, he hired some decently dressed lackeys to apply regularly at his front door, at specified times, and wait till the colored servant admitted them, one at a time. Each was passed out after a half hour’s supposed consultation, and the next admitted. The neighbors and others passing, seeing patients continually in waiting, some with a hand, a foot, face, or other parts bound up, were led to read his sign, and soon a bona fide patient applied, who, in turn, was kept waiting a long time, notwithstanding the young doctor’s anxiety to finger a real medical fee from his first New York patient. Others followed, the lackeys were dismissed, and the physician’s practice was established. His merit kept what his shrewdness had obtained.

Cannot the reader avouch for the reputed extensive rides of some country doctor, who, without a known patient, harnessed his bare-ribbed old horse to his crazy gig, and drove furiously about the country, returning by a roundabout way, without having made a single professional visit, thereby humbugging the honest country people into a belief that he had innumerable patients in his route?

To quite another class of humbugs belongs the subject of the following sketch. I have had the pleasure of meeting him but twice—may I never meet him again. The first interview was at the board of a country hotel.




I had arrived late at evening by rail, and ordered a light supper. When the tea-bell had summoned me, I found a large, phlegmatic individual seated opposite at the table, who possibly had arrived by the same conveyance as myself.[Pg 48] His person was quite repulsive. He was probably fifty years of age, his eyes watery and restless, his thin stock of hair—indicating a corresponding poverty of brain—black, streaked by gray, was stuck back professionally (!) over a low bump of veneration, and high organs of firmness and self-esteem, which, with a Roman nose, large, protruding under jaw, and wide, open mouth, gave him a striking appearance, at least. But what was most observable was his thin, uneven, scraggy whiskers, uncombed, and besmeared by tobacco juice and bits of the weed, drooling down over their uncertain length, over waistcoat, and so out of sight below the table. His coat sleeves had evidently been substituted for a handkerchief when too great a surplus of tobacco juice obstructed his face. He bent his great, watery eyes over towards me, and opened the ball by suggesting that I ask a blessing over the food so bountifully and temptingly laid before us. Having too much compassion on the present exhausted state of my stomach to disregard its immediate[Pg 49] demands, and too little confidence in the veneration of my vis-a-vis to return the request, I went to eating, while he closed one eye, keeping the other on a plate of hot steak just placed before him by the table girl. I have since been strongly reminded of him by the character “Bishopriggs,” in Wilkie Collins’s book, “Man and Wife.” I think, however, for hypocrisy, the present subject exceeded Bishopriggs. Having wagged his enormous jaw a few times, by way of grace, he began eating and conversing alternately.

“I take it, friend, you’re a railroad conductor, coming in so late,” he suggested, between mouthfuls.

“No,” was my brief reply.

“Perhaps, cap’n, you’re a drummer. Sell dry or wet goods?”


“A newspaper man?”

I merely shook my head.

“Then a patent medicine vender?”

“No!” emphatically.

“Not a minister,” he asserted. “Perhaps a doctor,” he perseveringly continued.

“Yes, sir; I am a physician.”

“O! ah! indeed! I am rejoiced to learn it. Give me your hand, sir,” he exclaimed, rising and reaching his enormous palm across the table. “I am rejoiced, as I said before, to meet a brother.”

“A brother!” I repeated, with unfeigned surprise and disgust.

“Yes, a brother! I, too, am a doctor. I have the honor,” etc., for the next ten minutes, while I hastened to finish my supper.

His last interrogation was what a college boy would call a “stunner.”

Do you think, sir, that the Fillopian ducks are the same in a male as they are in a female?

[Pg 50][Dr. S., a quack living in Winsted, Conn., once said to an educated physician, that he sometimes found difficulty in introducing a female catheter on account of the “prostrate” (meaning prostate) gland,—which exists only in the male!]

I saw him once after the above interesting interview. He entered the drug house of Rust, Bird, & Brother, Boston, just as I was about to go out. I could not refrain from turning my attention towards him, as I recognized his stentorian voice.

“Have you got any Bonyset arbs?” was all I waited to hear. I subsequently learned that he was known in Vermont and part of New York State by the sobriquet of “Dr. Pusbelly.”

The following story respecting “Dr. Pusbelly,” related in my hearing by a stage-driver, is in perfect keeping with the character of the man, as he impressed me in my first interview at the country hotel.


Dr. Pusbelly.

One sunny day in autumn I had occasion to take a long journey “away down in Maine,” when and where there was no railroad. I was seated on the outside of a four-horse stage-coach, with three or four other passengers, one of whom was a lady, who preferred riding in that elevated station to being cramped up inside the coach with eight persons, besides sundry babies, a poodle dog, and a parrot.

“Sam,” our driver, was a sociable fellow, full of pleasant stories,—and Medford rum, though he was considered a perfectly safe Jehu. The greatest drawback to his otherwise agreeable yarns was his habit of swearing. Notwithstanding the presence of the lady, he would occasionally round his periods and emphasize his sentences with an expletive which had better have been omitted.

“Can’t you tell a story just as well without swearing, Sam?” I inquired.

[Pg 51]“O, no; it comes second natur. Why, cap’n, everybody swears sometimes. And that reminds me—Git up, Jerry” (to the horse). “There was an old doctor, Pill—Pilgarlic, I called him, on account of his pills, and the strong effluvia from his cataract mouth. He was up round Champlain, where I drove before the d—d railroads ruined the great stage business. Well, he was as religious as a cuss,—that ain’t swearin’, is it, cap’n? Well, he came round there pill-peddling, you see, and in order to make the old women believe in his (expletive) medicines—”

“Don’t swear, Sam. You can tell the story better without. Come, try,” interrupted a passenger, with a twinkle of fun in his expressive eyes.

“Who’s telling this story,—you or me?” exclaimed Sam, with a wink.

“Yes, he talked pills by Bible doctrine, swore his essences by the blood of the Lamb, the —— old hypocrite. I knowed he was a blamed old hypocrite, for I had to drive him round every onct in a while, and he never failed, in season and out of place, to exhort me to seek salvation, and a new heart, and pure understanding, while, all the time, the filthy tobacco juice slobbered all over his filthier mug, and down his scattering whiskers;—now and then one, like the scattering trees in yonder field,—all over his vest; and his coat sleeves were as bad, from frequent drawing across his face. Yes, he said, ‘Jesus,’ but he meant pills. He said, ‘Get wine and milk, without money and without price,’ but he meant, buy his essences, with money. The old gals went crazy over him, and the pill market was lively. The louder he prayed and exhorted, the faster he sold his medicines.

“One Sunday afternoon he wanted me to shy him over the lake; so, taking his Hem-book and Bible in his coat pockets, and his two tin trunks of medicine, he followed me to the shore. He seated his great carcass in the starn of the boat, while I rowed him over the lake. All the way he[Pg 52] slobbered tobacco juice; and gabbled his religion at me, while occasionally I swore mine back at him.

“When we got over, I jumped out, and told him to set steady till I hauled the boat up further; but he didn’t mind, and rose up in the starn with his kit, a tin trunk in each hand, just as I gave the craft a yerk, when over backwards he went kerflounce into the water,—carcass, trunks, Bible, pills, and essences, all into the lake. O, the d——! You ought to have seen him. Up he came, puffin’ and blowin’ like a big whale! Then I fished him out with the boat-hook, and went for his trunks. No sooner had he reached terror firmer than, blowin’ the surplus water and tobacco out of his throat, he commenced swearin’ at me. Religion went by the board! O, Jerusalem! Such a blessing as he gave me I never before heard. I knowed it was pent up in him, the —— old sinner, and he only wanted the occasion to let it out. The bath done it! It was the cussidest baptism I ever witnessed in the hull course of my life.”

“Was he called Dr. Pusbelly?” I suggested, at the close of the narrative.

“Yes, that was his name; but I called him Old Pilgarlic, blame him.”


Professor Brewster.

When I lived in Hartford, Conn., some years ago, there resided in that city a black man, then somewhat noted as a “seer” among various classes of whites, as well as blacks, and who resides there still, and has since become quite famous. In what category to place this man,—Professor Brewster, so called,—it is perhaps a little difficult to determine; whether among “clairvoyants,” “animal magnetizers,” “natural doctors,” “fortune-tellers,” or what, or all, it must be admitted that he is a “character,” and wields great influence among certain classes. Nature made him a superior man of his race, and what thorough, early education might have done for him, we are left to conjecture. So noted is Professor Brewster, that I have thought him a proper subject for comment here, as a living illustration of what a man of subtle genius may accomplish, though wholly without “book learning,” or other approved instruction, in the field of medicine.

 [Pg 53]


[Pg 54] 

[Pg 55]A reliable friend of mine has gathered the following facts and statements in regard to Professor Brewster, and taken pains to secure the accompanying engraving of the veritable professor, as he appears in the year 1872.




“The full name of this remarkable man, now residing in Hartford, Conn., is Worthington Hooker Erasmus Brewster, commonly called, by those who venture on familiarity, ‘Worthy’ Brewster, for short. Worthy is of full medium height, powerfully built, and well knitted together. His head is very well moulded, and also extremely large, but not disproportionally large for his massive shoulders. He was born of ‘poor but honest’ (though undoubtedly black)[Pg 56] parents, in the town of Granby, Conn., on the 21st day of January, 1812.

“The boy Worthy, at the age of six years, went with his mother (his father having died) and her new husband to the hills of Litchfield County to live, and was there brought up to youth’s estate, enjoying the opportunities of education at the district school in what is now West Winsted. The places of the birth and early rearing of Professor Brewster are fixed beyond question, which fact will, it is hoped, forbid the contention of other towns, and of ‘seven cities,’ or more, over the question, after he shall have passed away. Worthy was not attracted to literature and science, however. He seemed to spurn these, as unworthy of his natural gifts to waste their time upon. But he learned to read, and can write a ‘fair hand.’ Seeing no special need of being cramped and confined by the narrow rules of spelling, Worthy has invented a style of orthography for himself, and writes a compact, forcible, and even masterly letter.

“But we must not linger on the details of his youth. Suffice it that Worthy grew up a powerful lad, and became the conquering athlete of all the region about his home. No man, of hundreds who tried, was able to successfully wrestle with him. The strongest men were no match for him. He was as agile as he was powerful, and to this day retains great elasticity of foot and limb. He was a mysterious fellow also, and, before he was sixteen years old, was regarded by his friends and acquaintances, of African descent, especially, as a sort of prophet, while many whites considered him a necromancer, and people all about declared he ‘had the devil in him’ to no ordinary extent. Worthy claimed, in those days, to ‘see visions,’ and many stories are current among his contemporaries regarding his then being able to ‘charm snakes,’ and do other miraculous things. Abundant witnesses, such as they are, can now be found ready to take their oaths that they have seen Worthy, ‘with their[Pg 57] own eyes,’ perform his miracles. It is certain that these believe in him.

“At the age of twenty Worthy went to New York city, where (in Lawrence Street) he lived for the period of a year, successfully practising the art of fortune-telling. While there Worthy first discovered his powers as a ‘mesmerizer,’ or magnetic physician. A school-girl, knowing that Worthy ‘practised the healing art’ somewhat, and suffering intensely with a toothache, jeeringly asked him, ‘Why can’t you think of something to cure my toothache?’ Whereupon Worthy clapped his hands to her head, and vigorously drew them down her cheeks, half in fun, half seriously, when, to his astonishment, he found that all his (sound) teeth ached terribly, while she declared that the pain had left hers. Such is his story; and it is by no means an improbable one; for animal magnetism is a fixed fact (however it may be analyzed or defined), and diseases are often ‘magnetically’ alleviated; and Worthy, with his powerful body and superb health, as well as native force of intellect, may be as naturally gifted, as a magnetic operator, as even Mesmer himself. Indeed, the writer is inclined to believe that Worthy’s great power over many people is largely due to his superior vital forces.

“Worthy now turned his attention considerably to diseases, but returned to Litchfield County for a while. At the age of twenty-six, he resolved ‘to see more of the world,’ and in the capacity of steward embarked at New Haven on board the brig Marshal, Captain Brison, freighted with horses, and bound for a long trading voyage to the Island of Demarara, and to South America, where they coasted during the winters, and took in coffee, etc., in exchange for their cargo. Worthy was gone from home on this voyage two years and two months, during which time he learned many mysteries. He was a foreign traveller now, and his polite and [Pg 58]professional education may be said to have at that time become ‘finished.’

“Since then Worthy has practised medicine to considerable extent, told fortunes, ‘looked’ (in a crystal) for stolen property, and, if we are to believe half of what is attested by many astute people (such as police detectives, etc.), has, by force of his great sagacity, or in some way (he would say, through clairvoyance), managed to achieve great success in ferreting out lost or stolen treasures, and bringing thieves to grief.

“People of all classes in society visit him with their troubles of mind and body. But the major part of his clientage is females. The wives and accomplished daughters of wealthy men, as well as poor and ignorant women, come from distant parts of the country to consult him, and a great number of the first ladies of Hartford also consult him. Worthy carries on the business of a ‘chair-seater,’ partly to occupy his time during the intervals of his divinations, and partly to provide an excuse for cautious persons to call on him for consultations. Those who consult him do so mostly regarding secret matters, and they pretend to visit him to engage him to seat chairs!

“He is consulted in respect to all sorts of diseases, and by unsuccessful, perplexed, or doubting lovers; by husbands whose wives have absconded, and who are anxious to call them back; by wives in regard to their wandering husbands; by hosts of superstitious people (and these are found in all classes), who believe themselves ‘possessed by devils,’ or demons. He is expected to cast out the devils (and he does so as surely as most doctors cure imaginary diseases). People who have lost property, and officers of the law in search of stolen goods, consult him; and bachelors and widowers in want of wives, and countless maids (both old and young), anxious to get married, visit him and receive his sweet consolations, or mourn over the ill luck which he prognosticates[Pg 59] for them. His correspondence is large. A hasty glance through several hundred letters in ‘Professor Brewster’s’ possession convinced the writer that the amount and character of the superstition and ignorance which exist in these days, in our very midst, are probably but little conjectured by the more cultivated classes. They are indeed astounding, but are not confined, as we have before intimated, to the wholly illiterate classes. People competent to write letters with grammatical precision, and observing what would ordinarily be called an ‘excellent business style,’ at least, in their composition, consult the professor; and so successful is Worthy in his diagnoses of and prescriptions for various diseases, that many of his patients write him letters overflowing with gratitude, while others voluntarily and admiringly attest his skill as a ‘seer.’ To what talent, ‘gift,’ or what secret of good luck, ‘Professor Brewster’ owes the many successes he wins (even though he may fail ten times more often than he succeeds), we cannot, of course, decide. But certain it is that he, with all his claims to a knowledge of the ‘occult,’ exists, practises his arts, and through a period of years has retained his old patients, and the postulants before his supposed demigodship, while adding constantly to their number. In this he is a remarkable man. He has accumulated quite a respectable property, and is decidedly one of the ‘institutions’ of the enlightened and cultivated city of Hartford.

“It should be remarked here that Worthy was, during the late civil war, a true patriot. He was attached to the twenty-ninth regiment Connecticut Volunteers, under Colonel Wooster (a ‘colored’ regiment), and was ‘gone to the war’ over two years. His powers as a ‘clairvoyant,’ or ‘fore-seer,’ served him in the war, and he ‘always knew what was coming,’ he says. As a part of the curious history of the war, serving to show how little the people of the North understood, in the first years of the contest, that they[Pg 60] were fighting for a great humanitary end,—the abolition of chattel slavery,—it may be noted here, that Worthy wrote to Governor Buckingham, in August, 1862, proposing to raise a black regiment, and the governor, by his secretary, replied to Worthy’s proposition, that he then did ‘not deem it expedient,’—which fact institutes a comparison between the judgments of the governor and Worthy, not uncomplimentary to the latter.”




[Pg 61]





There are few occupations wherein Old Time has wrought so few changes as in that of the apothecary’s. What it was four hundred years ago it is to-day! Who first invented its weights, measures, and symbols, I am unable to say; but it is a fact that they remain the same as when first made mention of by the earliest writers on the subject.

Drop into the “corner drug store,”—and what corner has none!—examine the balances, the tables of weights and measures, the graduating glass, the signs for grains, scruples, ounces, and pounds, and you will find them the same as those used by the earliest known medical apothecaries, by those of the Elizabethan period, or when King Lear (Lyr) said, “Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination; there’s money for thee.”

The money has changed; names of drugs are somewhat altered; some new ones have taken the place of old ones; prescriptions changed in quality; but quantities, and modes of expressing them, are unchanged.

“In the middle ages an apothecary was the keeper of any shop or warehouse, and an officer appointed to take charge of a magazine.”—Webster.

[Pg 62]We have good grounds for supposing this to have been the case in the time of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, more that two thousand years ago. Nehemiah informs us that the son of an apothecary assisted in “fortifying Jerusalem unto the broad wall.” Was not this the office of an overseer, or “keeper of a magazine”? Various artisans were employed to perform certain portions of the work, and who more appropriate or better qualified to oversee the rebuilding of the fortifications than “an officer appointed to take charge of the magazines”?

One more reference we draw from Scripture,[2] viz., in Exodus xxxvii. 29, where “the holy anointing oil” (not for medicine, but for the tabernacle), “and the pure incense of sweet spices” (not medical), “were made according to the work [book?] of the apothecary.” This, however, no more implies that the said “apothecary” was a medical man, a dispenser of physic, or versed in medical lore, than that the maker of shewbread (Lev. xxiv. 5) was necessarily a pharmacist.

In fact, there seems to have been no need of an apothecary, as medicine dispenser, until about the latter part of the thirteenth century.

The oldest known work on compounding medicines was written by Nicolaus Mynepsus, who died in the commencement of the fourteenth century.

The first apothecaries were merely growers and dispensers of herbs, and were but a poor and beggarly set.

Shakspeare’s delineation of the “poor apothecary of Mantua,” in Romeo and Juliet, so completely answers the description of the whole “kit” of druggists of the times, that we may be pardoned in quoting him.

[Pg 63]Romeo says,—

“I do remember an apothecary,—
And hereabouts he dwells,—whom late I noted
In tattered weeds, with overwhelming brows,
Culling of simples (herbs). Meagre were his looks;
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuffed, and other skins
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds;
Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scattered to make up a show.
Noting this penury, to myself I said,—
‘An’ if a man did need a poison now,
Whose sale is present death in Mantua,
Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.’
What, ho! apothecary!
Apothecary. Who calls so loud?
Romeo. Come hither, man! I see that thou art poor.
Hold! There is forty ducats! [$80.] Let me have
A dram of poison.
Apoth. Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law
Is death to any he that utters them.
Rom. Art thou so bare, and full of wretchedness,
And fear’st to die? Famine is on thy cheeks;
Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes;
Upon thy back hangs ragged misery;
The world is not thy friend, nor the world’s law;
The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.
Apoth. My poverty, but not my will, consents.”

When we behold the opulent druggists of the present day, we can hardly credit the fact that for nearly two hundred years the apothecary of Mantua was a fair specimen of the wretches who represented that now important branch of business.

The physician was the master, the apothecary the slave!

The following were among the rules prescribed by Dr.[Pg 64] Bullyn for the “apothecary’s life and conduct” during the Elizabethan era:—

“1. He must serve God, be clenly, pity the poore.

2. Must not be suborned for money to hurt mankind.

4. His garden must be at hand, with plenty of herbes, seedes, and rootes.

5. To sow, set, plant, gather, preserve, and keepe them in due time.

6. To read Dioscorides, to learn ye nature of plants and herbes. (Dioscorides published a work on vegetable remedies about 1499, in Greek. The translation was referred to.)

8. To have his morters, stilles, pottes, filters, glasses, and boxes cleane and sweete.

12. That he neither increase nor diminish the physician’s bill (prescription), nor keepe it for his own use.

14. That he peruse often his wares, that they corrupt not.

15. That he put not in quid pro quo (i. e., substitute one drug for another.) (Would not this be excellent advice to some of the apothecaries of the present day?)

16. That he meddle only in his vocation.

18. That he delight to reade Nicolaus Mynepsus, and a few other ancient authors.

19. That he remember his office is only ye physician’s cooke.

20. That he use true waights and measures.

21. That he be not covetous or crafty, seeking his own lucre before other men’s help and comfort.”

We may see the wisdom evinced by the author of the above advice, especially in articles Nos. 2, 12, and 21, when we know of a druggist’s clerk of modern times, who, having stolen the physician’s prescriptions intrusted to his care, started out on borrowed capital, and, putting them up as his own wonderful discoveries, advertised them extensively, until his remedies, for all diseases which flesh is heir to, are now sold throughout the entire universe!

[Pg 65]As the doctors were accustomed to retain their most valuable recipes, and put up the medicines themselves, selling them as nostrums, and because of the heavy percentage demanded by them for those intrusted to the apothecaries, and the small profit accruing from the sale of medicines at the time, the poor wretched “cookes” were necessarily kept in extreme poverty. So, in order to eke out a living, the apothecaries were also grocers and small tradesmen. As at the present day, they were not required to possess any knowledge of medical science beyond the reading of a few books “relating to the nature of plants,” hence very little honor or profit could accrue from the business alone.

Grocers kept a small stock of drugs, sometimes in a corner by themselves, but not unusually thrown about and jumbled amongst the articles kept for culinary and other purposes. As mineral medicines became more generally used, these were also added to the little stock, and not unfrequently was some poisonous substance dealt out by a green clerk (as is often the case nowadays) to the little errand girl, sent in haste for some culinary article.

Allspice and aloes, sugar and tartar emetic, lemon essence and laudanum, were thrown promiscuously together into drawers, or upon the most convenient shelves, and you need not go far into the country to witness the same lamentable spectacle in the enlightened nineteenth century. The apothecary gave the most attention, as now, to the exposition and sale of those articles which sold the most readily, and returned the greatest profit. All druggists at present sell cigars and tobacco, at the same time not unusually posting up a conspicuous sign—


The following is a case in point:—

Druggist. Smoking not allowed here, sir.

[Pg 66]Customer. Why! I just bought this cigar from you.

Druggist. Well, we also sell emetics and cathartics. That does not license customers to sit down and enjoy them on the premises.

In the thirteenth year of the reign of James I. of England (and James VI. of Scotland) the apothecaries and grocers were disunited. The charter, however, placed the former under the control of the College of Physicians, who were endowed with the arbitrary powers of inspecting their shops and wares, and inflicting punishments for alleged neglects, deficiencies, and malpractices.

The physicians knew so little, that the apothecaries soon were enabled to cope with them; “and before a generation had passed away the apothecaries had gained so much, socially and pecuniarily, that the more prosperous of them could afford to laugh in the face of the faculty, and by the commencement of the next century they were fawned upon by the younger physicians, and were in a position to quarrel with the old, which they soon improved.”

As it was a common occurrence for patients to apply at the apothecary’s for a physician, the former either recommended the applicant to one who favored him, or else prescribed for the patient himself. The promulgation of this fact was the declaration of war with the old physicians, who heretofore had done their best to keep down the apothecaries. The former threatened punishment, as provided by law; the latter retaliated, by refusing to call them in to consult on difficult cases. “Starving graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, with the certificate of the college in their pockets, were imbittered by having to trudge along on foot and see the mean ‘medicine mixers,’ who had scarce scholarship enough to construe a prescription, dashing by in their carriages.”

The war progressed,—Physician vs. Apothecary,—and the rabble joined. Education sided with the physicians, interest sided with the apothecaries.

[Pg 67] “So modern ’pothecaries taught the art,
By doctors’ bills, to play the doctors’ part;
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools.”

To circumvent the apothecaries, a dispensary was established in the College of Physicians, where prescriptions were dispensed at cost. While this proceeding served to lessen the apothecary’s income for a time, it could not greatly benefit the prescribing physician. The former might parallel his case with Iago, and say of the physician, he

“Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.”

Physicians were divided into two classes,—Dispensarians and Anti-dispensarians. Charges of ignorance, extortion, and of double-dealing were preferred on both sides. The dispensary doctors charged their opponents with playing into the hands of the apothecaries by prescribing enormous doses, often changing their prescriptions uselessly to increase the druggists’ revenues and their own percentage! On the other hand, the dispensarians were accused of charging a double profit on prescriptions whenever the ignorance of the patient, respecting the value of drugs, would admit of the extortion.

Had the physicians been united, the apothecaries would have had to succumb; but a divided house must fall, and the apothecaries won the day.

A London apothecary, having been prosecuted by the college for prescribing for a patient without a regular physician’s advice, carried the case up to the House of Lords, where he obtained a verdict in his favor; and another apothecary, Mr. Goodwin, whose goods had been seized by some dispensary doctors, having obtained a large sum for damages, which being considered test cases, the doctors from this time (about 1725) discontinued the exercise of their authority over the apothecaries.

[Pg 68]Thus emancipated from the supervision of the physicians, the apothecaries began to feel their own importance, and most of them prescribed boldly for patients, without consulting a doctor. The ignorance of many of them was only equalled by their impudence. It is not unusual, at the present day, for not only apothecaries, but their most ignorant clerks, to prescribe for persons, strangers perhaps, who call to inquire for a physician; and cases, too, where the utmost skill and experience are required.

The following amusing anecdote is sufficiently in accordance with facts within our own knowledge to be true, notwithstanding its seeming improbability:—


Anecdote of Macready, the Actor.

The handwriting of Macready, the actor, was curiously illegible, and especially when writing a pass to the theatre. One day, at New Orleans, Mr. Brougham obtained one of these orders for a friend. On handing it to the latter gentleman, he asked,—

“What is this, Brougham?”

“A pass to see Macready.”

“Why, I thought it was a physician’s prescription, which it most resembles.”

“So it does,” acquiesced Mr. Brougham, again looking over the queer hieroglyphics. “Let us go to an apothecary’s and have it made up.”

Turning to the nearest druggist’s, the paper was given to the clerk, who gave it a careless glance, and proceeded to get a vial ready.

With a second look at the paper, down came a tincture bottle, and the vial was half filled. Then there was a pause.

Brougham and his friend pretended not to notice the proceedings. The clerk was evidently puzzled, and finally broke down, and rang for the proprietor, an elderly and pompous looking individual, who issued from the inner sanctum. The[Pg 69] clerk presented the paper, the old dispenser adjusted his eye-glasses, examined the document for a few seconds, and then, with a depreciating expression,—a compound of pity and contempt for the ignorance of the subordinate,—he proceeded to fill the vial with some apocryphal fluid, and, giving it a professional “shake up,” duly corked and labelled it.




“A cough mixture, gentlemen,” he said, with a bland smile, as he handed it to the gentleman in waiting, “and a very excellent one, too. Fifty cents, if you please.”

In a copy of the London Lancet, 1844, is reported Dr. Graham’s bill. In the same number of which is a reply by an apothecary, who asks if “the old and respectable class of[Pg 70] apothecaries are to be forever abolished;” and he quotes the assertion from one of the articles in the bill: “Is it not a notorious fact that the masses of chemists and druggists know nothing of the business in which they are engaged?” Dr. Graham certainly ought to have known.

Druggists are liable to make mistakes,—as are all men; but carelesness and ignorance, one or both, are usually to be found at the bottom of the fatalities so common in the dispensing of prescriptions. I know an old and experienced druggist who sold a pot of extract belladonna for extract dandelion. In the same city, on the same street, I know another who was prosecuted for dispensing opium for taraxicum, which carelesness caused the death of two children. The following mistake was less fatal, but only think of the poor lady’s feelings!

A servant girl was sent to a certain drug store we know of, who, in a “rich brogue,” which might have caused General Scott’s eyes to water with satisfaction, and his ears to lop like Bottom’s after his transformation by the mischievous fairy, she asked for some “caster ile,” which she wished effectually disguised.

“Do you like soda water?” asked the druggist.

“O, yis, thank ye, sir,” was the prompt reply; “an’ limmun, sir, if ye plaze; long life to yeze.”

The man then proceeded to draw a glass, strongly flavored with lemon, with a dose of oil cast upon its troubled waters.

“Drink it at one swallow,” said he, presenting it to the smiling Bridget. This she did, again thanking the gentlemanly clerk.

“What are you waiting for?” he inquired, seeing that she still lingered.

“I’m waitin’ for the caster ile, sir,” said the girl.

“O! Why you have just taken it,” replied the soda-drug man.

“Och! Murther! It was for a sick man I wanted it, an’ not meself at all.”

 [Pg 71]



While there have been great changes in the drug trade during the last fifty years, necessary to the increasing demand for drugs, the establishment of wholesale houses and some specialties, and in cities, the substitution of cigars, soda water, patent medicines, etc., for groceries and provisions, the dispensing apothecary is nearer to what he was hundreds of years ago, as we asserted at the commencement of this chapter, than any other professional we know of. The paraphernalia of the shop is nearly the same. There is no improvement in pot, in jar, in tables, in spatula; the old, ungainly mortar is not substituted by a mill; the signs of ounces and drachms remain the same, though so near alike that they are easily and often mistaken one for the other, and the prescription before the dispenser is prefixed by a relic of the astrological symbol of Jupiter,—“the god of medicine to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians,”—as a species of superstitious invocation. In our largest cities even, in the shop windows, the mammoth flashing blue bottles, “a relic of empiric charlatanry,” still brighten our street corners, and frighten our horses at night, as in the days of our forefathers.

[Pg 72]We intimated that “patent medicines” had added greatly to the trade. This we shall treat of under its proper head. Many have arisen from penury to affluence, from obscurity to renown, in the drug trade of later years; but take away the tobacco trade, the soda fountain, and the outside patent nostrums, and wherein would the apothecary now differ from his predecessors?

“The Yankees bate the divil for swallowing drugs,” said an Irishman.

“A paddy will take nothing but castor oil,” replied the Yankee.

Yankee or Irish, English or Scotch, French or German, they all rush to the drug store for pills, for powder, for whiskey (?), for tobacco, for patent medicines, and the druggists flourish.

From the window near which I write this, I overlook a wholesale drug store on a “retail street.” The front windows contain only patent medicines, and the flashy signs that announce their virtues. Few prescriptions are dispensed within. Before the door, piled nearly a story high, I have just counted ninety-eight boxes, and some barrels. There are hundreds of these drug houses scattered over this city; and every other city of America has its quota.

Yes, the Irishman had the right of it; “the Yankees do bate the divil for swallowing drugs.” Further, it is my positive opinion that his infernal majesty beats a good many of them by the encouragement of their purchase; and, kind reader, if you have the ghost of a doubt of the truth of our intimation, don’t, I pray, promulgate it, but, like a wise judge, withhold your decision until the evidence is in; until you hear our exposition of “patent medicines.”

A patient comes to the city for the purpose of consulting some experienced physician for a certain complaint. Probably he gets a prescription, with instructions to go to a certain respectable druggist or apothecary in town to have the[Pg 73] necessary medicines put up. Of course a respectable physician knows of a reliable apothecary. The patient, in nine cases out of ten, desires to retain the prescription, and often does so. He goes to another drug store, more convenient, for a second quantity of the same; and now let me ask the patient,—no matter who or where he is,—did you ever get the same kind of medicine, in look, color, quantity, and taste,—all,—the second time, from the same prescription? I have often heard the patient complain that he could not get the same put up at the very store where he got the original prescription compounded.

I once was called to visit a lady who was laboring under great prostration; “sickness at the stomach,” with constipation.

“What is the disease?” inquired the anxious husband, who had previously employed two regular physicians for the case, and discharged them both.

“Nux vomica,” was the reply.

I gathered up three of the vials on the table, and, taking them to the designated apothecary’s, I demanded the prescriptions corresponding with the numbers on the vials. These were duplicates.

He had made a mistake! that’s all. He had compounded an ounce of tincture of nux instead of a drachm! Not that a drachm could be taken at a dose with impunity; but whatever the dose was, the patient was continually taking eight times as much as the physician intended to prescribe.

Another reason of the failure of the prescribing physician meeting the expectation anticipated, is the use of old and inert medicines.

Where a man’s treasure is, his heart is also. An apothecary’s interest is more in nostrums, tobacco, soda, etc., than in medicines; how, then, can he follow the excellent advice of Dr. Bullyn, in article “14, that he peruse often his wares, that they corrupt not.”

[Pg 74]But the greatest cheat is in the “substituting” business; the “quid pro quo.” Horse aloes may be bought for ten cents a pound. Podophyllin costs seventy-five cents an ounce. They each act as cathartic, and I have detected the former put in place of the latter. How is the physician to know the cheat? How is the patient to detect it? Perhaps the former stuff—aloes—may have given the victim the hemorrhoids. One dose may be quite sufficient to produce that distressing disease. This only calls for another prescription! So it looks a deal like a “you tickle me, and I’ll tickle you” profession, at best. Thus the patient becomes disgusted, and resorts to our next—“Patent Medicines.”

In closing this chapter on Apothecaries, I must relate a little scene to which I was an eye-witness. Meantime, let me say to the “respectable druggist,” Don’t be offended if I have slighted you by leaving you out, in my description of the various kinds of apothecaries enumerated above. There is a respectable class of druggists whom I have not mentioned, and doubtless you belong to that order.

On going home one evening, not long since, I observed several boys, loud and boisterous, surrounding a lamp post. As I approached, I heard, among the cries and vociferations,—

“Howld to it, Jimmy; it’ll be the makin’ of ye.”

I drew nearer, and discovered a sickly-looking lad leaning up against the lamp post, with the stump of a cigar in his mouth, and a taller boy endeavoring to hold him up by his jacket collar, while a short-set urchin was stooping behind to assist in the task. They were evidently endeavoring to teach “Jimmy” to smoke. The poor fellow was deathly sick, and faintly begged to be let off.

“O, no, no. Stick to it, Jimmy; it’ll be the makin’ of yese,” was repeated.

“Sure, ye’ll niver do for a sample clark in a potecary shop,” said another, as he blew a cloud of smoke from his own cigar stump into the pale face of the victim to modern accomplishments.

 [Pg 75]


[Pg 76] 

[Pg 77]“General Grant smokes, Jimmy, and you’ll never be a man if you don’t learn,” added a voice minus the brogue.

A policeman here interfered, and rescued the wretched “Jimmy.”

“What is a sample clerk, my lad?” I asked of the boy who had used the above expression.

“O, sir, he’s the divil o’ the ’potecary shop; the lean, pimply-faced urchin what tastes all the pizen drugs for the boss. If his constitution is tough enough to stand it the first year, then they makes a clark of him the nixt.”




[Pg 78]



“Expunge the whole.”—Pope.
“These are terrible alarms to persons grown fat and wealthy.”—South.



In the former chapters are shown some of the causes which led to the present immense demand for proprietary nostrums, or patent medicines. The conflicting “isms” and “opathies” of the medical fraternity, their quarrels and depreciations of one and another, their expositions of each other’s weaknesses, frauds, and duplicities, disgusted the common people, who finally resorted to the irregulars, to astrologers, and humbugs of various pretensions, and to the few advertised nostrums of those earlier periods.

“While there is life there is hope,v and invalids would, and still continue to seize upon almost any promised relief from present pain and anticipated death. Speculative and unprincipled men have seldom been wanting, at any period, to profit by this misfortune of their fellow-creatures, and to play upon the credulity of the afflicted, by offering various compounds warranted to restore them to perfect health. At first such medicines were introduced by the owner going[Pg 79] about personally and introducing them; subsequently, by employing equally unprincipled parties, of either sex, to go in advance, and tell of the wonderful cures that this particular nostrum had wrought upon them. And to listen to these lauders, one would be led to suppose that they had been afflicted with all the ills nameable, adapting themselves to the parties addressed,—yesterday, the gout; to-day, consumption, etc.,—regardless of truth or circumstance. The physician created the apothecary. The two opened the way for the less principled patent medicine vender.

“Are not physicians and apothecaries sometimes owners of patent medicines?” is the inquiry raised. Yes, certainly; but the true physician, or honorable apothecary, is then sunk in the nostrum manufacturer. Next we have the mountebanks. These were attendant upon fairs and in the marketplaces, who, mounted upon a bench,—hence the name,—cried the marvellous virtues of the medicine, and, by the assistance of a decoy in the crowd, often drove a lucrative business.

Finally, upon the general introduction of printing, physician, apothecary, mountebank, speculator, all seized upon the “power of the press,” to more extensively introduce their “wonderful discoveries.”

When you notice the name—and, O, ye gods, such names as are patched up to attract your attention!—to a new medicine, systematically and extensively advertised in every paper you chance to pick up, you wonder how any profit can accrue to the manufacturer of the compound after paying such enormous prices as column upon column in a thousand newspapers must necessarily cost. “If the articles cost anything at the outset,” you go on to philosophize, “how can the manufacturers or proprietors make enough profit to pay for this colossal advertising?” The solution of the problem is embodied in your inquiry. They cost nothing, or as near to nothing as possible for worthless trash to cost.[Pg 80] This is the secret of the fortunes made in advertised medicines.

When we know the complete worthlessness of the majority of the articles that are placed before the public,—yea, their more than worthlessness, for they are, many of them, highly injurious to the user,—the fact of their enormous consumption is truly astonishing. The drug-swallowing public has grown lean and poor in proportion as the manufacturers and venders of these villanous compounds have grown fat and wealthy.

Said the proprietor of “Coe’s Cough Balsam” and “Dyspepsia Cure” to the author, “If you have got a good medicine, one of value, don’t put it before the public. I can advertise dish water, and sell it, just as well as an article of merit. It is all in the advertising.” As the above preparations were advertised on every board fence, and in every newspaper in New England at least, did his assertion imply that those articles were mere “dish water”?


Spalding’s Glue.

I was informed by a Mr. Johnston, who engineered the advertising of the preparation, that it cost but one eighth of a cent per bottle. If you want to make a liquid glue, dissolve a quantity of common glue in water at nearly boiling point, say one pound of glue to a gallon of water; add an ounce or less of nitric acid to hold it in solution, and bottle. The more glue, the stronger the preparation.

The pain-killers and liniments are the most costly, on account of the alcohol necessary to their manufacture; and, in fact, the principal item of expense in all liquid medical articles put up for public sale, is in the alcohol essential to their preservation against the extremes of heat and cold to which they may be subjected.

 [Pg 81]

Soured Swill.

There is an article which “smells to heaven,” the acidiferous title of which glares in mammoth letters from every road-side, wherein the audacious proprietor obviates the necessity of alcohol for its preparation or preservation. It is merely fermented slops—“dish water,” minus the alcohol. Take a few handfuls of any bitter herbs, saturate them in any dirty pond water,—say a barrel full,—add some nitric acid, and bottle, without straining! Here you have Vinegared Bitters! The cheeky proprietor informs the “ignorant public” that, “if the medicine becomes sour (ferments), as it sometimes will, being its ‘nature so to do,’ it does not detract from its medical virtues.” True, true! for it never possessed “medical virtues.”

The cost of this villanous decoction is scarcely half a cent a bottle! Soured swill! It is recommended to cure fifty different complaints! It sells to fools for “one dollar a bottle,” and will go through one like so much quicksilver. “Try a bottle,” if you doubt it. The “dodge” is in advertising it as a temperance bitter. Having no alcoholic properties, it in no wise endangers the user in becoming addicted to stimulants.

Sarsaparilla humbugs are only second to the above. But a few years since an immense fortune was realized by a New York speculator in human flesh on a “Sarsaparilla” which contained not one drop of that all but useless medicine; nor did it possess any real medical properties whatever.


The Down East Farmer’s Story.

To illustrate this point, we introduce the following conversation between the author and a “down east” farmer, in 1852:—

“It’s all a humbug, is saxferilla!” exclaimed the old farmer, rapping his fist “hard down on the old oaken table.”

[Pg 82]“Why, no; not all sarsaparilla; you must admit—”

“No difference. I tell you it’s a pesky humbug, all of it.”




Withdrawing his tobacco pipe from his mouth, he laid it on the table, and standing his thumb end on the board, as a “point of departure,” he turned to me, and said,—

“Why, in the medical books it has been analyzed, and they say it’s nothin’ but sugar-house molasses, cheap whiskey, and a sprinkling of essence of wintergreen and saxafras. Git the book, and see ‘Townsend’s Saxferilla,’ and that is the article! But they are all alike. Let me tell you about the great New York saxferilla speculation. One man, S. P. Townsend, started a compound like this here—nothin’ but molasses and whiskey, and essence to scent it nicely. When he had got it advertised from Texas to the Gut of Canser (Canso, Provinces), from the Atlantic to the Specific, and was about to make his fortune off on it, some[Pg 83] speculators see he was doin’ a good thing, and, by zounds! they put their heads together, and their dollars, to have a finger in the pie; and they done it. This is the way they circumscribed him. They hired an old fellow,—I believe he was a porter in a store when they found him,—named Jacob Townsend, and a right rough old customer he was, all rags and dirt, hadn’t but one reliable eye, and a regular old rumsucker.

“Well, they fixed him up with a fine suit of clothes, and, by zounds! they palmed him off for the original, Simon Pure saxferilla man. So they advertised him as the real ginuine Townsend, and started a ‘saxferilla,’ with his ugly old face on the bottles, and said that the other was counterfeit, you see; and there he sat, with his one eye cocked on the crowd of customers that crowded round to see the ginuine thing, you know. So they blowed the other saxferilla as counterfeit, and finding in a store a bottle or two that had fomented, they made a great noise about the bogus saxferilla, ‘busting the bottles,’ and all that, and again asserting that the Jacob Townsend was the true blue, Simon Pure; and it took, by zounds! Yes, the public swallowed the lie, the saxferilla, old Jacob, and all. I hearn that both the parties made a fortune on it.”

Stopping to take a whiff at his neglected pipe, he resumed:—

“Saxferilla is all a humbug!”

S. P. Townsend, as is well known, amassed a fortune, at one time, on the profits of the “sarsaparilla,” put up, as the reader may remember, in huge, square, black bottles. The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. XL. p. 237, says, “Townsend’s Sarsaparilla, Albany, N. Y., in nearly black bottles,” is “composed of molasses, extract of roots or barks (sassafras bark is better than essence, because of body and color), and probably senna and sarsaparilla. A. A. Hayes, State Assayer.”

The medical properties are all a supposition, even though[Pg 84] Dr. Hayes was hired to give the analysis of it to the public, in the interest of the proprietor, and consequently he would not detract from its supposed merits.

Pectorals, wild cherry preparations, etc., are cheaply made. Oil of almonds produces the cherry flavor, hydrocyanic acid (prussic acid, a virulent poison) and morphine, or opium, constitute the medical properties. I have not examined the exception to the above.

Pills. The bitter and cathartic properties of nearly every pill in the market,—advertised preparation,—whether “mandrake,” “liver,” “vegetable,” or what else, are made up from aloes, the coarsest and cheapest of all bitter cathartics. One is as good as another. You pay your money, however; you can take your choice.

One holds the ascendency in proportion to the money or cheek invested by the owner in its introduction. A great Philadelphia pill, now sold in all the drug stores of America, was introduced by the following “dodge”: The owner began small. He took his pills to the druggists, and, as he could not sell an unknown and unadvertised patent pill, he left a few boxes on commission. He then sent round and bought them up. Their ready sale induced the druggists to purchase again, for cash. The proprietor invested the surplus cash in advertising their “rapid sale,” as well as their “rare virtues,” and by puffing, and a little more buying up, he got them started. He necessarily must keep them advertised, or they would become a drug in market.

Wilkie Collins, Esq., in “No Name,” has the best written description of the modus operandi of keeping a “pill before the people,” and I cannot refrain from quoting Captain Wragge to Magdalen in this connection.

“My dear girl, I have been occupied, since we last saw each other, in slightly modifying my old professional habits. I have shifted from moral agriculture to medical agriculture. Formerly I preyed on the public sympathy; now I prey on[Pg 85] the public’s stomach. Stomach and sympathy, sympathy and stomach. The founders of my fortune are three in number: their names are Aloes, Scammony, and Gamboge. In plainer words, I am now living—on a pill! I made a little money, if you remember, by my friendly connection with you. I made a little more by the happy decease (Requiescat in pace) of that female relative of Mrs. Wragge’s. Very good! What do you think I did? I invested the whole of my capital, at one fell swoop, in advertising a pill, and purchased my drugs and pill boxes on credit. The result is before you. Here I am, a grand financial fact, with my clothes positively paid for, and a balance at my banker’s; with my servant in livery, and my gig at the door; solvent, popular, and all on a pill!”

Magdalen smiled.

“It’s no laughing matter for the public, my dear; they can’t get rid of me and my pill; they must take us. There is not a single form of appeal in the whole range of human advertisement which I am not making to the unfortunate public at this moment. Hire the last novel—there I am inside the covers of the book; send for the last song—the instant you open the leaves I drop out of it; take a cab—I fly in at the windows in red; buy a box of tooth-powders at the chemists—I wrap it up in blue; show yourself at the theatre—I flutter down from the galleries in yellow. The mere titles of my advertisements are quite irresistible. Let me quote a few from last week’s issue. Proverbial title: ‘A pill in time saves nine.’ Familiar title: ‘Excuse me, how is your stomach?’ Patriotic title: ‘What are the three characteristics of a true-born Englishman?—his hearth, his home, and his pill;’ etc.

“The place in which I make my pill is an advertisement in itself. I have one of the largest shops in London. Behind the counter, visible to the public through the lucid medium of plate glass, are four and twenty young men, in white aprons, making the pill. Behind another, four and[Pg 86] twenty making the boxes. At the bottom of the shop are three elderly accountants, posting the vast financial transactions accruing from the pill, in three enormous ledgers. Over the door are my name, portrait, and autograph, expanded to colossal proportions, and surrounded, in flowing letters, the motto of the establishment: ‘Down with the Doctors.’ Mrs. Wragge contributes her quota to this prodigious enterprise. She is the celebrated woman whom I have cured of indescribable agonies, from every complaint under the sun. Her portrait is engraved on all the wrappers, with the following inscription: ‘Before she took the pill,’ etc.”

[In this country we are familiar with the ghostly looking picture of a man, the said proprietor of a medicine, “before he took the pill” (aloes), and “after;” the “after” being represented by a ridiculous extreme of muscular and adipose tissue.]

“Captain Wragge’s” is the style in which most medicines are placed before the public. We take up our morning journal: its columns are crowded by patent medicine advertisements. We turn in disgust from their glaring statements, and attempt to read a news item. We get half through, and find we are sold into reading a puff for the same trashy article. We take a horse-car for up or down town, and opposite, in bold and variegated letters, the persistent remedy (?) stares you continually in the face. We enter the post office: the lobbies are employed for the exposition, perhaps sale, of the patent medicines. We open our box: “O, we’ve a large mail to-day!” we exclaim; when, lo! half of the envelopes contain patent medicine advertisements, which have been run through the post office into every man’s box in the department. And so it goes all day. We breakfast on aloes, dine on quassia, sup on logwood and myrrh, and sleep on morphine and prussic acid!

“The humors of the press” sometimes inadvertently tell you the truth respecting this or that remedy advertised in their columns.

[Pg 87]A religious newspaper before me says of a proprietary medicine, “Advertised in another column of our paper: It is a hell-deserving article.” Probably the copy read, “Well-deserving article.”

Said a certain paper, “A correspondent, whose duty it was to ‘read up’ the religious weeklies, has concluded that the reason of those journals devoting so much space to patent medicine announcements is, ‘that the object of religion and quackery are similar—both prepare us for another and better world.’”

The proprietor of a pill,—not Captain Wragge,—threatened recently to prosecute a New Hampshire newspaper publisher for a puff of his “Gripe Pills.”

As every fool, as well as some wise people, read the “personals” in the papers, an occasional notice of a tooth-paste, bitter, or tonic is inserted therein, thus:—

Augustus Apolphus: I will deceive you no longer. My conscience upbraids me. Those pearly white teeth you so much admire are false! false! They were made by Dr. Grinder, dentist. I use Dr. Scourer’s tooth-paste, which keeps them clean and white. ‘O, how sharper than a serpent’s thanks it is to have a toothless child.’

Susan Jane.

Great and public men are sometimes induced or inveigled into recommending a patent medicine. In London, one Joshua Ward, a drysalter, of Thames Street, about the year 1780, introduced a pill, composed of the usual ingredients,—aloes and senna,—which, owing to some benefit he was supposed to have derived from their use, Lord Chief Baron Reynolds was led to praise in the highest terms. The result of this high dignitary’s patronage was to give prominence to Ward and his pills, which subsequently sold for the fabulous price of 2s. 6d. a pill! General Churchill added his praise, and Ward was called as a physician to prescribe for the king. Either in consequence, or in spite of the treatment, the royal malady disappeared, and Ward was rewarded with a solemn vote of the House of Commons protecting him from[Pg 88] the interdiction of the College of Physicians. In addition to the liberal fee, he asked for and obtained the privilege of driving his carriage through St. James Park! Notwithstanding the pill, Reynolds died of his disease not long afterwards.

Henry Fielding subscribed to the wonderful efficacy of “Tar Water,” a nostrum of his day, but died of the disease for which it was recommended.

Some time prior to 1780 there was published in the newspapers a list of the patent nostrums, or advertised remedies, in London, which numbered upwards of two hundred.

Now there are known, in the United States alone, to be upwards of three hundred differently named hair preparations.

Dr. Head, of whom we have made mention, “realized large sums from worthless quack nostrums,” while at the same time another popular physician, with a Cambridge (England) diploma in his office, was proprietor of a “gout mixture,” which sold at the shops for two shillings a bottle.

Some of these shameless scoundrels, owners of advertised nostrums, with little or no sense of honor, have published the recommendations of great men, without the knowledge or permission of the parties whose names were so falsely affixed to their worthless stuff. A New York quack recently used the name of Henry Ward Beecher in this manner. Mr. Beecher published him as a thief and forger of his name, which only served to bring the doctor (?) into universal notice. Only to-day I read his impudent advertisement in a newspaper, with Mr. Beecher’s name affixed as reference. If you prosecute one of the villains for issuing false certificates, even for forging your own name, it does him no great injury, you get no satisfaction, and in the end it only serves to call public attention to a worthless article, thereby increasing its sale.

In the London Medical Journal of 1806, Dr. Lettsom attacked and exposed a “nervous cordial,” stating that it was a deleterious article; “that it had killed its thousands;”[Pg 89] and further asserted that Brodum, its proprietor, was a Jewish knave, having been a bootblack in Copenhagen, and a wholesale murderer. Brodum at once brought an action against the proprietor of the Journal, laying the damages at twenty-five thousand dollars. Brodum held the advantage, and the Journal proprietor asked for terms of settlement. Brodum’s terms were not modest. He, through his attorney, agreed to withdraw the action provided the name of the author was revealed, and that he should whitewash the quack in the next number of the Journal, over the same signature! Dr. Lettsom consented to these terms, paid the lawyers’ bills and costs, amounting to three hundred and ninety pounds, and wrote the required puff of Brodum and his nostrum.

Soothing Syrups, nervous cordials, etc., owe their soothing properties to opium, or its salt—morphine.

From “Opium and the Opium Appetite,” by Alonzo Calkins, M. D., we are informed that an article sold as “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,” for children teething, contains nearly one grain of the alkaloid (morphine) to each ounce of the syrup! Taking one teaspoonful as the dose (that is, one drachm), and there being eight drachms to the ounce, consequently about one eighth of a grain of morphine is given to an infant at a dose! Do you wonder it gives him a quietus? Do you wonder that the mortality among children is greatly on the increase? that so many of the darling, helpless little innocents die from dropsy, brain fever, epileptic fits, and the like?


Fruit Syrups for Soda Water.

Perhaps you take yours “plain.” No! Then you may want to know how the pure fruit syrup, which sweetens and flavors the soda, is made. The “soda” itself is a very harmless article.

Butyric Ether is usually taken for a basis. Butyric ether is manufactured from rancid butter, old rotten cheese, or[Pg 90] Limburger cheese. The latter is the “loudest,” and affords the best flavor to the ether. The cheese is treated with sulphuric acid. Old leather is known to give it a particularly fine flavor. Any old boots and shoes will answer.

Pineapple Syrup is made from butyric and formic ether. The latter is manufactured from soap or glycerine. Sulphuric acid and red ants will do as well.

Strawberry is made of twelve parts of butyric ether and one of acetic ether, alcohol, and water. Color with cochineal—a bug of the tick species, from Mexico. Sometimes a little real strawberry is added, but it is not deemed essential.

Raspberry is made from the same articles. If convenient, the druggist adds a little raspberry jam or syrup. If not, color a little deeper, add some strawberry, and change the label to raspberry.

Vanilla Syrup is made of Tonqua beans, such as boys sell on the street.

Peach is made from bitter almonds. Wild Cherry the same.

Nectar is formed by a compound of various syrups and Madeira wine. You can easily make the Madeira of neutral spirits, sugar, raisins, and logwood to color it.

Sarsaparilla. Take the cheapest and nastiest molasses obtainable. Strain it to remove dead bees, sticks, cockroaches, etc. Flavor with essence sassafras and wintergreen. Little extract sarsaparilla will do no harm if added to the mixture. It is very harmless.

Lemon is made of citric acid and sugar.

Coffee is made mostly of chiccory, burnt livers, sometimes a little coffee bean. Horses’ livers are said to be the best, giving it a racy flavor, and more body.

“They are all very good,” the vender tells you; he takes his plain, however. You see how much cheaper these are than the real fruit syrup itself; and as neither you nor I can tell the difference by taste, what inducement has the dealer in soda water to use the costlier articles?

[Pg 91]I have a friend who sells the “pure syrups,” and I presume the reader has also; but I respectfully decline drinking soda water with “pure fruit syrups.”


Extract from the report of Professor C. F. Chandler, Ph. D., chemist to the Metropolitan Board of Health. This report, which presents the results of the examination of a few of the articles in general use, was printed in full in the Chemical News (American reprint) for May, 1870. We present the following list of dangerous preparations, which gives the number of grains of lead, etc., in one fluid ounce.

I. Hair Tonics, Washes, and Restoratives.

      Grains of lead in
one fluid ounce.
1. Clark’s Distilled Restorative for the Hair,   0.11
2. Chevalier’s Life for the Hair,   1.02
3. Circassian Hair Rejuvenator,   2.71
4. Ayer’s Hair Vigor,   2.89
5. Professor Wood’s Hair Restorative,   3.08
6. Dr. J. J. O’Brien’s Hair Restorer, America,   3.28
7. Gray’s Celebrated Hair Restorative,   3.39
8. Phalon’s Vitalia,   4.69
9. Ring’s Vegetable Ambrosia,   5.00
10. Mrs. S. A. Allen’s World’s Hair Restorer,   5.57
11. L. Knittel’s Indian Hair Tonique,   6.29
12. Hall’s Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer,   7.13
13. Dr. Tebbet’s Physiological Hair Regenerator,   7.44
14. Martha Washington Hair Restorative,   9.80
15. Singer’s Hair Restorative,   16.39

II. Lotions or Washes for the Complexion.

Perry’s Moth and Freckle Lotion.

Mercury in solution, 2.67 gr. } equiv. to { Corrosive Sub., 3.61 gr.
Zinc in solution, 0.99 " Sulphate of Zinc, 4.25 "

The sediment contains mercury, lead, and bismuth.

III. Enamels for the Skin.

    Grains of lead in one fluid
ounce, after shaking.
Eugenie’s Favorite,   108.94 grains.
Phalon’s Snow-white Enamel,   146.28 "
Phalon’s Snow-white Oriental Cream,   190.99 "

Conclusion.—It appears from the foregoing,—

1. The Hair Tonics, Washes, and Restoratives contain lead in considerable quantities; that they owe their action to this metal, and that they are consequently highly dangerous to the health of persons using them.

2. With a single exception, Perry’s Moth and Freckle Lotion, the Lotions for the skin are free from lead and other injurious metals.

3. That the Enamels are composed of either carbonate of lime, oxide of zinc, or carbonate of lead, suspended in water. The first two classes of enamels are comparatively harmless; as harmless as any other white dirt, when plastered over the skin to close the pores and prevent its healthy action. On the other hand, the enamels composed of carbonate of lead are highly dangerous, and their use is very certain to produce disastrous results to those who patronize them.

 [Pg 92]

Hair Restoratives: A Bald Bachelor’s Experience.

A gentleman of perhaps thirty-five years of age once called upon the writer for advice relative to baldness, when he related the following experience, permitting me to make a note of it at leisure.

“In 1865 my friends intimated to me that my hair was getting slightly thin on the crown of my head. I have always had a mortal terror of being bald, and daily examinations convinced me that my fears were about to be realized. My first inquiry was for a remedy.

“‘What shall I do to prevent its falling out?’ I nervously inquired.

“‘Get a bottle of Dr. ——’s Hair Restorative,’ one advised; another, some different preparation,—all advertised remedies,—till I had a list a yard long of various washes, preventives, restorers, etc., ad infinitum.

“I obtained one of the very best. I used it as directed. It stuck as though its virtue consisted in sticking the loose hairs firmly to the firmer-rooted ones. But alas! after a month’s trial, sufficient hair had come out of my head to make a respectable chignon!

“I next got some of Mrs. A. S. S. Allon’s—or All—something; I forget the rest of the name; I’m sure of the A. S. S., however,—and that was worse than the gum-stick-’em kind, for the hair came out faster than before.

“In despair, I applied to a ‘respectable apothecary,’ who keeps the next corner drug store. ‘For God’s sake, Mr. Bilious, have you got any good preventive for falling of the hair?’ I exclaimed.

“‘O, yes, just the article,’ he replied, rubbing his palms vigorously. He then showed me his stock, consisting of thirty-nine different kinds!

“‘All very good—highly recommended,’ he remarked, with commendable impartiality.

[Pg 93]“I selected one—with rather an ominous name, I admit:—Kat-hair-on!—preferring cat’s hair to none.

“I used the Kathairon according to directions.”

“‘Did the cat’s hair grow?’ I anxiously inquired.

“‘Neither cat’s hair nor human hair.’ No. Worse and worse. I was about to abandon all effort, when, stopping on a corner to get a young boot-black to shine my boots, preparatory to making a call on a lady acquaintance, before whom I was desirous of making a genteel appearance, a dirty, ragged little urchin peered around the block, and exclaimed, ‘O, mister, you’re barefooted on top o’ yer head!’ I had inadvertently removed my hat, to wipe my forehead.




“This was the last feather. Though coming from but a dirty boot-black, it stung me to the marrow. I kicked over the boy, box, blacking, and all, and rushed into the nearest drug shop. I bought another new hair preparation. Another ominous name—‘Bare-it!’

“This I also used, as directed on the label, for a month.[Pg 94] ‘I think,’ I said, ‘if I use it a second month, it will entirely bare it!’

“I bought a wig, and had my head shaved. I didn’t lock myself up in a coal-cellar, or hide under a tub, like Diogenes, but I felt that I would have gladly done either, to hide myself from the eyes of the world. The girls all cast shy glances at me as they passed; as though the majority of them did not wear false hair!

“In utter desperation, I visited a dermatologist. What a name to make hair grow! Well, he examined my scalp with a microscope, and said the hair could be made to grow anew. ‘I discover myriads of germs, which only require the right treatment in order to spring up in an exuberant crop of wavy tresses.’ I bought his preparations. Bill, thirty-eight dollars. They were worthless.

“Soon after this failure, I heard of a new remedy—‘a sure cure.’ The proprietor possessed a world-wide reputation, from the manufacture of various other remedies for nearly all diseases to which we poor mortals are subject, and there might be something in this. It was recommended to cure baldness, and restore gray hair to its natural color. I would go and see the proprietor of this excellent hair restorer. I hastened to Lowell. I was ushered into the doctor’s sanctum—into the very presence of this Napoleon of medicine-makers, the Alexander of conquered worlds—of medical prejudices!

“With hat in hand, I bowed low to the great Doctor Hair—or hair doctor. He beheld my veneration for himself. With a practised eye, he noted my genteel apparel. Flattered by my obeisance, and not to be outdone in politeness, he arose, removed his tile, and bowed equally low in return to my profound salutation, when lo! O tempora! O mores! he was both bald and gray! I retired without specifying the object of my visit.”

 [Pg 95]

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

When a man tells you, point blank, that he is selling an article for the profit of it, believe him; but when he asserts that he is advertising and offering a remedy solely for the public good, for the benefit of suffering humanity, he is a liar. Beware of such.

Furthermore, when he publishes an advertisement in every paper in the land, announcing that himself having been miraculously or “providentially” cured of a variety of diseases by a certain compound, the prescription for which he will send free to any address, you should hesitate, until satisfied of the disinterestedness of the party, and meantime ask yourself the following question: “Provided this be true, why don’t the unparalleled benevolent gentleman publish the recipe, which would cost so much less than this persistent advertising ‘that he will send it to any requiring it’? And you are next led to ask,—

“Where is the ‘dodge’? For money is what he is after.”

A reverend (?), a scoundrel, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” advertises in nearly every paper you chance to notice, especially religious newspapers, a remedy he discovered while a missionary to some foreign country, that cured him of a variety of diseases, the recipe for which medicine he will send to any address, free of charge.

“Here is the ‘Old Sands of Life’ dodge,” I said, “which I had the satisfaction of exposing fourteen years ago.”

The reader may recollect the advertisement of “A Retired Physician, seventy-five years of age, whose sands of life had nearly run out,” who advertised so extensively a remedy which cured his daughter, etc., which remedy he would send free, to the afflicted, on application.

I investigated his “little fraud.” I found, instead of an old man “seventy-five years of age,” a young man of about twenty-eight or thirty. He was no reverend. He had no[Pg 96] daughter. He was a tall, gaunt, profane, tobacco-chewing, foul-mouthed fellow, with a bad impediment in his speech from loss of palate, whose name was Oliver Phipps Brown, a printer by trade, who formerly worked as journeyman in the Courant office, Hartford, Conn. The police finally got hold of him, and broke up the swindle.




Here is now a parallel case. The above reverend says he will send the recipe free. I directed my student to write for it. The recipe came, with various articles named therein, supposed to be the Latin names of plants. I assert that there are no such medicines in the Materia Medica, or the world. The reverend don’t want that there should be. Why? Because you would not then send to him for his “Compound.”

He sends with his recipe a circular, in which he gives you the history of his marvellous discovery. Further along, by some oversight, he says it was made known to him through a physician!

The names are bogus. The whole remedy is a humbug. There are names in it as species which sound something like some medical term; and the druggist may be deceived thereby. The reverend quack, foreseeing “the difficulty in obtaining the articles in their purity at any druggist’s,” advises you to send to him for them. Do you begin to see the dodge? He “will furnish it at cost.” Only think! How benevolent! “My means[Pg 97] make me independent.” Think again. An invalid from boyhood, his time and means exhausted in travelling “in Europe two years,” and was only “sent a missionary (?) through the kindness of friends,” he assures us in his circular. Here he discovered through an old physician—surely a new mode of discovery—this wonderful compound, which cured him in “six weeks,” and forthwith, in gratitude, he proceeded to New York, and began putting up this marvellous remedy “at cost.”

Let us examine the article sold for three dollars and a half a small package. Dr. Hall, of the “Journal of Health,” examined the article which “Old Sands of Life” sold as Canabis Indica, and found the cost “but sixteen cents, bottle and all.” Nevertheless, “The Retired Physician” sold it to his dupes for two dollars. I do not hesitate to say that the above compound cost even less than sixteen cents a package.

“But,” said a gentleman to me, “he is connected with the Bible House. Here is his address: ‘Station D, Bible House, New York.’”

“There is a post-station by that name. Suppose I should give an address, ‘34 Museum Building.’ Would that imply that I was a play-actor, or owner of the Museum?” I replied.

“Then it is only another ‘Reverend’ dodge—is it?” he asked.

“Precisely; it is to give character to his characterless address.”

“Don’t the newspaper publishers know it is a swindle?” he suggested.

“There’s not the least doubt that they know it.”

“Then hereafter I shall have little faith in the religion or honesty of the newspaper that publishes such swindling advertisements.”

“Admitting that they know the dishonesty of the thing,—and how can any man endowed with common sense but see[Pg 98] that there is swindle on the face of it?—the publisher of that advertisement is a particeps criminis in the transaction.”

“Why don’t some of the thousand victims who have been swindled into buying this worthless stuff expose him?”

“In exposing the reverend wolf, don’t you see they would expose their own weakness? This is the reason of the fellow’s selecting the peculiar class of diseases as curable by his great discovery. The poor sufferer does not wish the community to know that he is afflicted by such a disease.”

“It is truly a great dodge; and no doubt the knave has found fools enough to make him ‘independent.’”

Rules. 1. Take no patent or advertised medicines at all. They are of no earthly use! You never require them, as they are not conducive to your health, happiness, or longevity.

There are physicians who can cure every disease that flesh is heir to—excepting one.

2. Apply in your need only to a respectable physician.

3. Give your preference to such as administer the smallest quantities of medicine—and are successful in their practice.

I have barely begun to exhaust the material I have been years collecting for this chapter; but I must desist, to give room for other important expositions.




[Pg 99]



“One says, ‘I’m not of any school;
No living master gives me rule;
Nor do I in the old tracks tread;
I scorn to learn aught from the dead.’
Which means, if I am not mistook,
‘I am an ass on my own hook.’”



“Every man is either a physician or a fool at forty,” says the old proverb.

“May not a man be both?” suggested Canning, in the presence of a circle of friends, before whom Sir Henry Halford happened to quote the old saying.

“There is generally a fool in every family, whom the parents select at once for a priest or a physician,” said Peter Pindar. He was good authority.

I am of the opinion that there are many whose mental capacity has been overrated, who have made doctors of themselves; but we are not to treat of fools in this chapter, but of men whom circumstances have created physicians, and of men who, in spite of circumstances of birth or education, have made themselves doctors.

[Pg 100]In the choice of a trade or profession, every young man should weigh carefully his natural capacity to the pursuit selected. His parents or guardians should consult the youth’s adaptability rather than their own convenience. How many have dragged out a miserable existence by ill choice of a calling! Men who were destined by nature to be wood-sawyers and diggers of trenches, are found daily taking upon themselves the immense responsibility of teaching those whose mental calibre is far above their own, or assuming the greater responsibility of administering to the afflicted.

If a man finds himself adapted to a higher calling than that originally selected for him by his friends, by all means let him “come up higher;” but too many by far have changed from a trade to a profession to which they had no adaptability.

So we find men in the medical profession who were better as they were,—bakers, barbers, butchers, tailors, tinkers, pedagogues, cobblers, horse doctors, etc., etc.

There used to be a fish-peddler going about Boston, blowing a fish-horn, and crying his “fresh cod an’ haddock,” who, getting tired of that loud crying and loud smelling occupation, took to blowing his horn for his “wonderful discovery” of a “pasture weed,” which cured every humor but a thundering humor (one can see the humor of the joke), and every eruption since the eruption of Hecla in 1783,—which is a pity that he had not made his discovery in time to have tried it on old Hecla’s back when it was up.


Barbers as Doctors.

A barber of Boston, accidentally overhearing a gentleman mention a certain remedy for the “barber’s itch,” seized upon the idea of speculating upon it, and at once sold out his shop, made up the ointment, clapped M. D. to his name, put out his circulars, and is now seeking whom he may devour, as a physician.

[Pg 101]With the looseness of morals and the laxity of our laws, one of these fellows “can make a doctor as quick as a tinker can make a tin kettle.”

Probably more barbers have become doctors than any other artisans, for the reason that barbers were formerly nearly the only acknowledged “blood-letters.” In the earlier days of Abernethy, barber surgeons were recognized, and the great doctor said of himself, “I have often doffed my hat to those fellows, with a razor between their teeth and a lancet in their hands.” Doubtless some of them arrived to usefulness in the profession. Dr. Ambrose Paré, a French barber surgeon, was called the father of French surgery, and enjoyed the confidence of Charles IX. An eminent surgeon of London was Mr. Pott. He was contemporary with Dr. Hunter, and gave lectures at St. Bartholomew Hospital in Hunter’s presence. Some person asking a wag one day where Dr. Hunter was, he replied that, “with barber surgeons he had gone to pot.”

This alliance of surgery and shaving, to say nothing of other qualifications with which they were sometimes associated, conceivably enough furnished some pretext for apprenticeships, since Dickey Gossip’s definition of

“Shaving and tooth-drawing,
Bleeding, cabbaging, and sawing,”

was by no means always sufficiently comprehensive to include the multifarious accomplishments of “the doctor.” “I have seen,” says Dr. Macillwain, of England, “within twenty-five years, chemist, druggist, surgeon, apothecary, and the significant, ‘&c.,’ followed by hatter, hosier, and linen draper, all in one establishment.”

I saw in New Hampshire, in 1864, doctor, barber, and apothecary represented by one man.

William Butts, another barber surgeon of London, was called to attend Henry VIII., and was rewarded for his [Pg 102]professional services with the honor of knighthood in 1512. Another, who was knighted by Henry VIII., was John Ayliffe, a sheriff, formerly a merchant of Blackwell Hall.

Royalty had a chronic habit of knighting quacks. Queen Anne became so charmed by a tailor, who had turned doctor, and who, by some hook or crook, was called to prescribe for the queen’s weak eyes, that she had him sworn in, with another knave, as her own oculist. “This lucky gentleman,” says a reliable author, “was William Reade, a botching tailor of Grub Street, London. To the very last he was a great ignoramus, as a work entitled ‘A Short and Exact Account of all Diseases Incident to the Eyes,’ attests; yet he rose to knighthood, and the most lucrative and fashionable practice of the period.” Reade (Sir William) was unable to read the book he had published (written by an amanuensis); nevertheless, aristocracy, and wise and worthy people at that, who listened to his dignified voice, viewed his pompous person, encased in rich garments, and adorned with jewelry and lace ruffles, cap-a-pie, resting his chin upon his enormous gold-headed cane, as, reclining in his splendid coach, drawn by a span of superb blood horses, up to St. James, considered him the most learned and eminent physician of that generation.

In the British Museum is deposited a copy of a poem to the great oculist. This poem Reade himself had written, at the hand of a penny-a-liner, a “poet of Grub Street,” immediately after he was knighted, which has been mainly instrumental in handing his name down to posterity.


Tinker as Doctor.

About the year 1705, one Roger Grant rose into public notice in London, by his publication of his own “marvellous cures.” This fellow was no fool, though a great knave. He was formerly a travelling tinker, subsequently a cobbler, and Anabaptist preacher. From tinkering of pots, he became[Pg 103] mender of soles of men’s boots and shoes; thence saver of souls from perdition, a tinkerer of sore eyes, and lightener of the body. The following bit of poetry was written in 1708 for his benefit, the “picture” being one which Grant, who was a very vain man, had gotten up from a copperplate likeness of himself, to distribute among his friends. The picture was found posted up conspicuously with the lines:—

“A tinker first, his scene of life began;
That failing, he set up for a cunning man;
But, wanting luck, puts on a new disguise,
And now pretends that he can cure your eyes.
But this expect, that, like a tinker true,
Where he repairs one eye, he puts out two.”




He worked himself into notoriety by the publication, in pamphlet form, of his cures,—a mixture of truth strongly spiced with falsehood,—and scattering it over the community. “His plan was to get hold of some poor, ignorant person, of imperfect vision, and, after treating him with medicine and[Pg 104] half-crowns for a few weeks, induce him to sign a testimonial, which he probably had never read, that he was born blind, and by the providential intervention of Dr. Grant, he had been entirely restored. To this certificate the clergyman and church-wardens of the parish, in which the patient had been known to wander in mendicancy, were asked to attest; and if they proved impregnable to the cunning representations of the importunate solicitors, and declined to sign the certificate, the doctor did not scruple to save them that trouble by signing their names himself.”

More than once was the charge of being a tinker preferred against him. The following satire was written and published for his benefit—with Dr. Reade’s—after Queen Anne had Dr. Grant sworn in as her “oculist in ordinary”:—

“Her majesty sure was in a surprise,
Or else was very short-sighted,
When a tinker was sworn to look to her eyes,
And the mountebank Reade was knighted.”


The Little Carver Davy.

The distinguished chemical philosopher and physician of Penzance, Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., was the son of a poor wood-carver, at which trade Humphry worked in his earlier days, and was named by his familiar associates, the “Little Carver Davy.” On the death of his father, the widow established herself as a milliner at Penzance, where she apprenticed her son to an apothecary. His mother was a woman of talent and great moral sense. When, as Sir Humphry, he had reached the summit of his fame, he looked back upon the facts of his humble origin, his father’s plebeian occupation and associates, and his mother’s mean pursuit, followed for his benefit, with mortification instead of regarding them as sources of pride.

 [Pg 105]

A Butcher Boy escapes the Cleaver and becomes a Great Physician and Poet.

In a rickety old three story house, the lower part of which was occupied as a butcher’s shop and trader’s room, and the upper stories as a dwelling-house, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1721, was born Mark Akenside. His father was a butcher, and one day, as the boy Mark was assisting at the menial occupation of cutting up a calf, a cleaver fell from the shop block upon another “calf,”—that of young Akenside’s leg,—which lamed him for life.




Akenside was a Nonconformist, and by the aid of the Dissenters’ Society young Mark was sent to Edinburgh to study theology. From theology he went to physic, his honest parent refunding the money to the society paid for his studies under their patronage, and he subsequently obtained his degree at Cambridge, and became a fellow of the R. S.

Like Davy, Akenside became ashamed of his plebeian origin. His lameness, like Lord Byron’s, was a continual source of mortification to him.

[Pg 106]He became a physician to St. Thomas; and, as he went with the students the rounds of the hospital, the fastidiousness of the little bunch of dignity at having come so closely in contact with the vulgar rabble, induced him, at times, to make the strongest patients precede him with brooms, to clear a way for him through the crowd of diseased wretches, who, nevertheless, had wonderful faith in his wisdom, and would cry out, “Bravo for the butcher boy with a game leg!” as they fell back before the fearful charge of corn brooms.

By the assistance of friends, and his ever extensive practice, Akenside was enabled, to the day of his death, in 1770, to keep his carriage, wear his gold-hilted sword, and his huge well-powdered wig.


How One Hop-ped from Obscurity.

“Dr. Messenger Monsey, in the heyday of his prosperity, used to assert to his friends that the first of his known ancestors was a baker and a retailer of hops. At a critical point of this worthy man’s career, when hops were ‘down,’ and feathers ‘up,’ in order to raise the needful for present emergencies he ripped up his beds, sold the feathers, and refilled the ticks with hops. When a change occurred in the market soon afterwards the process was reversed; even the children’s beds were reopened, and the hops sold for a large profit over the cost of replacing the feathers!”

“That’s the way, sirs, that my family hop-ped from obscurity,” the doctor would conclude, with great gusto.

The Duke of Leeds used, in the same manner, to delight in boasting of his lucky progenitor, Jack Osborn, the shop lad, who rescued his master’s beautiful daughter from a watery grave at the bottom of the Thames, and won her hand away from a score of noble suitors, who wanted, literally, the young lady’s pin-money as much as herself. Her father was a pin manufacturer, and had in his shop on London Bridge amassed a considerable wealth in the business.[Pg 107] The jolly old man, instead of disdaining to bestow the lovely and wealthy maid—his only child—on an apprentice, exclaimed,—

“Jack Osborn won her, and Jack shall wear her.”

When Lord Bath vainly endeavored to effect a reconciliation between the doctor and Garrick, who had fallen out, Monsey said,—

“Why will your lordship trouble yourself with the squabbles of a merry-andrew and a quack doctor?”

Monsey continued his quarrel with Garrick up to the day of the death of the great tragedian. The latter seldom retaliated, but when he did his sarcasm cut to the bone.

Garrick’s style of satire may be inferred from his epigram on James Quin, the celebrated actor, and illegitimate son of an Irishman, “whose wife turned out a bigamist.” When Garrick make his debut on the London stage, at Godman’s Fields playhouse, October 19, 1741, as “Richard the Third,” Quin objected to Garrick’s original style, saying,—

“If this young fellow is right, myself and all the other actors are wrong.”

Being told that the theatre was crowded to the dome nightly to hear the new actor, Quin replied that “Garrick was a new religion; Whitefield was followed for a time, but they would all come to church again.” Hence Garrick wrote the following epigram:—

“Pope Quin, who damns all churches but his own,
Complains that heresy infects the town;
That Whitefield-Garrick has misled the age,
And taints the sound religion of the stage.
‘Schism,’ he cries, ‘has turned the nation’s brain,
But eyes will open, and to church again!’
Thou great Infallible, forbear to roar;
Thy bulls and errors are revered no more.
When doctrines meet with general approbation,
It is not heresy, but reformation.”

[Pg 108]When confined to his bed in his last sickness, Garrick had the advice of several of the best physicians, summoned to his villa near Hampton, and Monsey, in bad taste and worse temper, wrote a satire on the occurrence. He accused the actor of parsimony, among other mean qualities, and though, after the death of Garrick, January 22, 1779, he destroyed the verses, some portions of them got into print, of which the following is a sample:—

“Seven wise doctors lately met
To save a wretched sinner.
‘Come, Tom,’ said Jack, ‘pray let’s be quick,
Or we shall lose our dinner.’

“Some roared for rhubarb, jalap some,
And others cried for Dover;[3]
‘Let’s give him something,’ each one said,
‘And then let’s give him over.’”

At last, after much learned wrangling, one more learned than the others proposed to arouse the energies of the dying man by jingling a purse of gold in his ear. This suggestion was acted upon, and

“Soon as the favorite sound he heard,
One faint effort he tried;
He oped his eyes, he scratched his head,
He gave one grasp—and died.”

Riding on horseback through Hyde Park, Monsey was accompanied by a Mr. Robinson, a Trinitarian preacher, who knew that the doctor’s religion was of the Unitarian stamp. After deploring, in solemn tones, the corrupt state of morals, etc., the minister turned to Monsey, and said,—

“And, doctor, I am addressing one who believes there is no God.”

“And I,” replied Monsey, “one who believes there are three.”

 [Pg 109]


[Pg 110] 

[Pg 111]The good man, greatly shocked, put spurs to his horse, and, without vouchsafing a “good day,” rode away at a high gallop.


Pedagogues turned out as Doctors.

Some of the hundreds of respectable medical practitioners of this democratic country, who, between commencement and the following term, used to lengthen out their scanty means by “teaching the young idea how to shoot” in some far-off country village, will scarcely thank me for introducing the above-named subject to their present notice. However, it will depend somewhat upon the way they take it; whether, like Sir Davy, they are ashamed of their “small beginnings,” or, like Dr. Monsey, they may independently snap their fingers in the face of their plebeian origin, and boast of their earlier common efforts for a better foothold among the great men of their generation.

Among English physicians, with whom it was, and still is, counted a disgrace to have been previously known in a more humble calling, we may find a long list of “doctors pedagogic,” beginning with Dr. John Bond, who taught school until the age of forty, when he turned doctor. He was a man of great learning, however, and became a successful physician. Even among the good people of Taunton, where he had resided and labored as a pedagogue in former years, he was esteemed as a “wise physician.”

John Arbuthnot was a “Scotch pedagogue.” He was distinguished as a man of letters and of wit; the associate of Pope and Swift, and of Bolingbroke; a companion at the court of Queen Anne.

Arbuthnot owed his social elevation to his quick wit, rare conversational powers, and fascinating address, rather than to his family influence, professional knowledge, or medical success.

“Dorchester, where, as a young practitioner, he endeavored[Pg 112] to establish himself, utterly refused to give him a living; but it doubtless,” says Jeaffreson, “maintained more than one dull empiric in opulence. Failing to get a living among the rustic boors, who could appreciate no effort of the human voice but a fox-hunter’s whoop, Arbuthnot packed up and went to London.”

Poverty for a while haunted his door in London, and to keep the wolf away he was compelled to resort to “the most hateful of all occupations—the personal instruction of the ignorant.”

Arbuthnot was a brilliant writer as well as fluent talker, and by his literary hit, “Examination of Dr. Woodward’s Account of the Deluge,” he was soon brought into notice. By the merest accident and the greatest fortune he was called to Prince George of Denmark, when his royal highness was suddenly taken sick, and, as all who fell within the circle of his magical private acquaintance were led to respect and love him, the doctor was retained in the good graces of the prince. On the death of Dr. Hannes, Arbuthnot received the appointment of physician-in-ordinary to the queen.

The polished manner of the fortunate doctor, his handsome person, and flattering, cordial seeming address, especially to ladies, made him a court favorite. To retain the good graces of his royal patient, the queen, “he adopted a tone of affection for her as an individual, as well as a loyal devotion to her as a queen.” His conversation, while it had the semblance of the utmost frankness, was foaming over with flattery.

“If the queen won’t swallow my pills she will my flattery,” he is said to have whispered to his friend Swift; but this report is doubtful, as he stood in fear of the displeasure of the querulous, crotchety, weak-minded queen, who had but recently discharged Dr. Radcliffe for a slip of the tongue, when at the coffee-house he had said she had the “vapors.”

“What is the hour?” asked the queen of Arbuthnot.

[Pg 113]“Whatever hour it may please your majesty,” was his characteristic reply, with his most winning smile and graceful obeisance.

By this sort of flattery he retained his hold in the queen’s favor till her death.

By these facts one is reminded of the saying of Oxenstierna, when, on concluding the peace of Westphalia in 1648, he sent his young son John as plenipotentiary to the powers on that occasion, remarking, in presence of those who expressed their surprise thereat,—

“You do not know with how little wisdom men are governed.”

With the loss of the queen’s patronage at her death, and his wine-loving proclivities, Dr. Arbuthnot became sick and poor, and died in straitened circumstances.


Another Poor Pedagogue,

Who reached the acme of medical fame, and became court physician, was Sir Richard Blackmer. He surely ought not to have been called an ignoramus (by Dr. Johnson), for he resided thirteen years in the University of Oxford. After leaving Oxford, his extreme poverty compelled him to adopt the profession of a schoolmaster. In the year 1700 there were collected upwards of forty sets of ribald verses, under the title of “Commendary Verses, or the Author of Two Arthurs, and Satyr against Wit;” in which Sir Richard was taunted with his earlier poverty, and of having been a pedagogue!

Every man has his advertisement and his advertisers. The poets and lampooners were Blackmer’s. They assisted in bringing him into notoriety. Among them were Pope, Steele, and the obscene Dr. Garth. While the authors of those filthy, licentious productions (which no bar-maid or kitchen-scullion at this day could read without blushing behind her pots and kettles) were flattering themselves that[Pg 114] they were injuring the honest doctor, they were bringing him daily into the notice of better men than themselves, and heaping ignominy upon the authors of such vile lampoons.

One satire opened thus:—

“By nature meant, by want a pedant made,
Blackmer at first professed the whipping trade.
In vain his pills as well as birch he tried;
His boys grew blockheads, and his patients died.”

Mr. Jeaffreson says, “the same dull sarcasms about killing patients and whipping boys into blockheads are repeated over and again; and as if to show, with the greatest possible force, the pitch to which the evil of the times had risen, the coarsest and most disgusting of all these lampoon writers was a lady of rank,—the Countess of Sandwich!”

Wouldn’t a young Harvard or Yale medical graduate, without money, friends, or a practice, leap for joy with the knowledge that he had two-score disinterested writers advertising him into universal notice, since it is considered a burning disgrace for an honorable, upright, and educated physician to advertise himself!

Of course Sir Richard rose, in spite of his foes, to whom he seldom replied. He says, in one of his own works, “I am but a hard-working doctor, spending my days in coffee-houses (where physicians were wont to receive apothecaries, and, hearing the cases of their patients, prescribe for them without seeing them, at half price), receiving apothecaries, or driving over the stones in my carriage, visiting my patients.”

The honest, upright man who rises from nothing, and continues to ascend right in the teeth of immense opposition from his enemies, seldom relapses into obscurity in after life. Though Dr. Blackmer failed as a poet, he died esteemed as an honest man, a consistent Christian, and an excellent physician.

 [Pg 115]

A Weaver and a Quaker Boy.

Many cases might be instanced of weavers becoming physicians, but let one suffice. John Sutcliffe, a Yorkshire weaver, with no early educational advantages, and with the broadest provincial dialect, became a respectable apothecary, and subsequently a first-class medical practitioner. He rose entirely by his own integrity, frugality, industry, and intelligence.

Amongst his apprentices was Dr. John Coakley Lettsom, whose name must ever rank high as a literary man, and a benevolent and successful physician. Lettsom was born in the West Indies, and was a Quaker. The place under the Yorkshire apothecary was secured for the boy by Mr. Fothergill, a Quaker minister of Warrington, England.

A senior drug clerk informed the rustic inhabitants of the arrival of a Quaker from a far off county, where the people were antipodes,—whose feet were in a position exactly opposite to those of the English. Having well circulated this startling information, the merry clerk and fellow-apprentices laid back to enjoy the joke all by themselves.

The very day the new apprentice entered upon his duties, the apothecary shop became haunted by an immense and curious crowd of gaping rustics, old and young, male and female, to see the wonderful Quaker who was accustomed to walking on his head!

Day after day the curious peasants came and went, and if the astonished Sutcliffe closed his doors against the unprofitable rabble, they peered in at his windows, or hung about the entrances, hoping to see the remarkable phenomenon issue forth. But as the day of “walking off on his ear” had not then arrived, they were doomed to disappointment and lost faith in his ability to do what they had expected of him.

 [Pg 116]

John Radcliffe.

John Radcliffe, the humbug, “the physician without learning,” was the son of a Yorkshire yeoman. When he had risen to intimacy with the leading nobility of London,—as he did by his “shrewdness, arrogant simplicity, and immeasurable insolence,”—he laid claim to aristocratic origin. The Earl of Derwenter recognized Sir John as a kinsman; but the heralds interfered with the little “corner” of the doctor and earl, after Radcliffe’s decease, by admonishing the University of Oxford not to erect any escutcheon over his plebeian monument.

Of Radcliffe’s success in getting patronage we have spoken in another chapter. Doubtless he, Dr. Hannes, and Dr. Mead all resorted to the same sharp tricks, of which they accused each other by turns, in order to gain notoriety and practice.

Dr. Edward Hannes was reputed a “basket-maker.” At least, his father followed that humble calling. Of the son’s earlier life little is known. About the year 168-, he burst upon the London aristocracy with a magnificent equipage, consisting of coach and four, and handsome liveried servants and coachmen.

These were his advertisements, and he soon rode into a splendid practice, notwithstanding Radcliffe’s contrary prognostication.

Dr. Hannes and Dr. Blackmer, being called to attend upon the young Duke of Gloucester, and the disease taking a fatal turn, Sir John Radcliffe was also called to examine into the case. Radcliffe could not forego the opportunity here offered to lash his rivals, and turning to them in the presence of the royal household, he said,—

“It would have been happy for the nation had you, sir (to Hannes), been bred a basket-maker, and you, sir (to Blackmer), remained a country schoolmaster, rather than[Pg 117] have ventured out of your reach in the practice of an art to which you are an utter stranger, and for your blunders in which you ought to be whipped with one of your own rods.”

As the case was simply one of rash, none of them had much to boast of.


A Horse Doctor.

There have been, and still are, thousands in the various walks of life, who, at some period, have attempted the practice of medicine. Among the hundreds whom our colleges “grind out” annually, not more than one in twenty succeeds in medical practice so far as to gain any eminence, or the competence of a common laborer.

Marat was a horse doctor.

The most remarkable thing respecting this noted man occurred at his birth. He was born triplets!

Yes, though “born of parents entirely unknown to history,” three different places have claimed themselves, or been claimed, as his birthplace.

Before his energies became perverted to political aims, he had endeavored to rise, by his own talent and energies, through the sciences.

The year 1789 found him in the position of veterinary surgeon to the Count d’Artois, thoroughly disgusted with his failure to rise in society with the “quacks,” as he termed them, “of the Corps Scientifique.”

Miss Mühlbach, in her “Maria Antoinette and her Son,” presents Marat in conversation with the cobbler, Simon, as follows:—

“The cobbler quickly turned round to confront the questioner. He saw, standing by his side, a little, remarkably crooked and dwarfed young man, whose unnaturally large head was set upon narrow, depressed shoulders, and whose whole (ludicrous) appearance made such an impression upon the cobbler that he laughed outright.

[Pg 118]“‘Not beautiful, am I?’ asked the stranger, who tried to join in the laugh with the cobbler, but the result was a mere grimace; which made his unnaturally large mouth extend from ear to ear, displaying two fearful rows of long, greenish teeth. ‘Not beautiful at all, am I? Dreadful ugly!’

“‘You are somewhat remarkable, at least,’ replied the cobbler. ‘If I did not hear you speak French, and see you standing upright, I should think you the monstrous toad in the fable.’

“‘I am the monstrous toad of the fable. I have merely disguised myself to-day as a man, in order to look at this Austrian woman and her brood.’

“‘Where do you live, and what is your name, sir?’ asked the cobbler, with glowing curiosity.

“‘I live in the stables of the Count d’Artois, and my name is Jean Paul Marat.’

“‘In the stable!’ cried the cobbler. ‘My faith, I had not supposed you a hostler or a coachman. It must be a funny sight, M. Marat, to see you mounted upon a horse.’

“‘You think that such a big toad does not belong there exactly. Well, you are right, brother Simon. My real business is not at all with the horses, but with the men of the stable. I am the horse doctor of the Count d’Artois, and I can assure you that I am a tolerably skilful doctor.’”

We do not quote the above author as reliable authority in personal descriptions, beyond the “shrugging of shoulders,” which habit she attributes to all of her characters (vide “Napoleon and Queen Louisa,” where she uses the phrase some twenty-three times).

At the time of his assuming the dictatorship, he resided in most squalid apartments, situated in one of the lowest back streets of Paris, in criminal intimacy with the wife of his printer.... He sold their bed to get money to bring out the first number of his journal, and lived in extreme poverty at a time when he could have become immensely rich by selling his silence.

[Pg 119]The death of this wretch was hastened only a few days by his assassination, for he was already consumed by a disgusting disease, and it is melancholy to add that he was adored after his death, and his remains deposited in the Pantheon with national honors, and an altar erected to his memory in the club of the Cordeliers.

“I killed one man to save a hundred thousand!” exclaimed the magnificent Charlotte Corday to her judges; “a villain to save innocents, a furious wild beast, to give repose to my country!” Thus the “horse doctor” ignominiously perished at the hands of a woman,—a woman who immortalized herself by killing a “villain.”


Peter Pindar, the Preacher.

We find many cases where ministers have turned doctors, and vice versa.

Peter Pindar” is here worthy of a passing notice. His true name was Wolcot. Descended from a family of doctors for several generations, he nevertheless himself failed to gain a living practice.

When King George III. sent Sir William Trelawney out as governor of Jamaica, about 1760, he took young Dr. Wolcot with him, who acted in the treble capacity of physician, private secretary, and chaplain to the governor’s household. Dr. Wolcot’s professional knowledge had been acquired somewhat “irregularly,” and it is very doubtful whether he ever received ordination at the hands of the bishops.

It is true, however, that he acted as rector for the colony, reading prayers and preaching whenever a congregation of ten presented itself, which occurred only semi-occasionally.

The doctor was fond of shooting, and ’tis gravely reported that he and his clerk used to amuse themselves on the way to church by shooting pigeons and other wild game, with which the wood abounded. Having shot their way to the[Pg 120] sacred edifice, the merry parson and jolly clerk would wait ten minutes for the congregation to convene, and if, at the expiration of that time, the quota had not arrived, the few were dismissed with a blessing, and the pair shot their way back home. If but a few negroes presented themselves, the rector ordered his clerk to give them a bit of silver, with which to buy them off.




One old negro, more cunning than the rest, and who discovered that the parson’s interest was rather in the discharge of his fowling-piece than the discharge of his priestly duties, used to present himself punctually every Sunday at church.

“What brings you here, blackie?” asked the parson.

“To hear de prayer for sinners, and de sarmon, masser.”

[Pg 121]“Wouldn’t a bit or two serve you as well?” asked the rector, with a wink.

“Well, masser, dis chile lub de good sarmon ob yer rev’rence, but dis time de money might do,” was the reply, with a significant scratch of his woolly head.

The parson would then pay the price, the negro would grin his thanks, and, chuckling to himself, retire; and for a year or more this sort of black-mailing was continued.

Tiring of acting as priest, Wolcot returned to London, and vainly endeavored to establish himself in practice. Neither preaching nor practising physic was his forte, and he resorted to the pen. Here he discovered his genius. Adopting the nom de plume of “Peter Pindar,” he became famous as a political satirist, and the author of numerous popular works. He died in London in 1819. Wolcot possessed a kindly heart, and a benevolence deeper than his pockets.


Policemen as Doctors and Surgeons.

Some very laughable scenes, as well as very touching and painful ones, might be recorded, had we space, where policemen have necessarily been unceremoniously summoned to act as physician or surgeon in absence of a “regular.”

In Portland, the police have to turn their hand to most everything. Circumstances beyond his control compelled one Mr. J. S. to act the part of midwife to a strapping Irish woman at the station-house, one evening, he being the sole “committee of reception” to a bouncing baby that came along somewhat precipitately. The account, which is well authenticated, closes by saying,—

“Mother, baby, and officer are doing as well as can be expected!”

We have seen the “officer.” He did better than was “expected.”

The writer was on a Fulton ferry boat in the winter of[Pg 122] 1857, when a similar scene occurred. A German woman was taken in pain. A whisper was passed to a female passenger; a policeman was summoned from outside the ladies’ (?) cabin; the male occupants were ejected,—even myself and another medical student, and the husband of the patient. The latter remonstrated, and demonstrated his objection to the momentary separation by beating and shouting at the saloon door.

“Katharina! Katharina!” he shouted, “keep up a steef upper lips!”

This roaring attracted nearly all the men from the opposite side of the boat, who crowded around him and the door, to learn the cause of the Teutonic demonstrations of alternate fear, anger, and encouragement.

“Got in himmel! Vere you leefs ven you’s t’ home? Vich a man can’t come mit his vife, altogedder? Hopen de door, unt I preaks him mit mine feest; don’t it?” So he kept on, alternately cursing the policeman and encouraging “Katharina,” till we reached the Brooklyn side, and left the ferry boat.




[Pg 123]



“Angel of Patience! sent to calm
Our feverish brow with cooling palm;
To lay the storm of hope and fears,
And reconcile life’s smile and tears;
The throb of wounded pride to still,
And make our own our Father’s will.”—Whittier.



“From the earliest ages the care of the sick has devolved on woman. A group by one of our sculptors, representing Eve with the body of Abel stretched upon her lap, bending over him in bewildered grief, and striving to restore the vital spirit which she can hardly believe to have departed, is a type of the province of the sex ever since pain and death entered the world.

“To be first the vehicle for human life, and then its devoted guardian; to remove or alleviate the physical evils which afflict the race, or to watch their wasting, and tenderly care for all that remains when they have wrought their result—this is her divinely appointed and universally conceded mission.

[Pg 124]“Were she to refuse it, to forsake her station beside the suffering, the office of medicine and the efforts of the physician would be more than half baffled. And yet, where her post is avowedly so important, she has generally been denied the liberty of understanding much that is involved in its intelligent occupancy. With the human body so largely in her charge from birth to death, she is not allowed to inquire into its marvellous mechanism. With the administering of remedies intrusted to her vigilance and faithfulness, she has not been allowed to investigate the qualities, or even know the names or the operations of those substances committed to her use. To be a student with scientific thoroughness, and to practise independently with what she has thus acquired, has been regarded as unseemly, or as beyond her capacity, or as an invasion of prerogatives claimed exclusively for men.

“Indeed, the whole domain of medicine has been ‘pre-empted’ by men, and in their ‘squatter sovereignty’ they have sturdily warned off the gentler sex.”—Rev. H. B. Elliot, in “Eminent Women of the Age.”

It seems to my mind, and ought to every thinking mind, to be ridiculously absurd that “man born of woman” should set up his authority against woman understanding “herself.” “Man, know thyself,” is stereotyped, but if it ever was put in type form for “woman to know herself,” it has long since been “pied.”

“Search the Scriptures,” and you would never mistrust that “eternal life,” or any other life, came, or existed a day, through woman. Mythological writers, who come next to scriptural, give woman no credit in medical science. We will except Hygeia, the goddess of health, the fabled daughter of Æsculapius. In the medical history of no country does she occupy any prominence. There were “Witches,” “Enchantresses,” “Wise Women,” “Fortune-tellers,” who in every age have existed to no small extent, and under various names have figured in the histories of all nations,[Pg 125] receiving the countenance of prince and beggar—but females as physicians, as a class, have never been recognized by nations or governments, or scarcely by communities or individuals.

In searching the memorials of English authors for two hundred years past, we can find but little to disprove the above assertions. In Mr. Jeaffreson’s “Book of Doctors,” the author fails to find memorials of their actions, as female physicians, sufficient to fill a single chapter; and those of whom he has made mention, he discourses of mostly in a ridiculous light, as though entirely out of their sphere, or as being of the coarser sort, and questions “if two score could be rescued from oblivion whom our ancestors intrusted with the care of their invalid wives and children.”

In this connection, let us briefly mention such as are better known in English literature, as doctresses especially as mentioned by Mr. Jeaffreson.

Two ladies, who are immortalized in “Philosophical Transactions for 1694,” were Sarah Hastings and Mrs. French. Another, who received the support of bishops, dukes, lords, countesses, etc., in 1738-9, was Mrs. Joanna Stephens, “an ignorant and vulgar creature.” After enriching herself by her specifics, consisting of a “pill, a powder and a decoction,” she bamboozled the English Parliament into purchasing the secret, for the (then) enormous sum of £5000. “The Powder consists of eggshells and snails, both calcined.”

“The decoction is made by boiling together Alicant soap, swine’s-cresses burnt to a blackness, honey, camomile, fennel, parsley, and burdock leaves.” “The pill consists of snails, wild carrot and burdock seeds, ashen keys, hips, and haws, all burnt to a blackness; soap and honey.”

When we take into consideration the fact that there were no “medical schools for females,” at that day, nor until within the last ten or twelve years, that every female applicant was rejected by the medical colleges of England,[Pg 126] and that all female practitioners were held in disrepute by both physician and the public, the above repulsive remedies may not so greatly excite our surprise.


Crazy Sally.

The most remarkable woman doctor made mention of in English literature, was Mrs. Mapp, née Sally Wallin. We have collected these facts respecting her origin, character, and career, from Chambers’ Miscellany and the Gentlemen’s Magazine, 1736-7. Hogarth has immortalized her in his “Undertaker’s arms.” She is placed at the top of that picture, between Josh Ward, the Pill doctor, and Chevalier Taylor, the quack oculist. (See page 668.)

She was born in Weltshire, in 169-. Her father was a “bone-setter,” which occupation “run in the family,” like that of the Sweets, of Connecticut, or like the marine whom Mrs. Mapp saw one day, as she, in her carriage, was driving “along the Strand, O.”

Said sailor having a wooden leg, the doctress asked, “How does it happen, fellow, that you’ve a wooden leg.”

“O, easy enough, madam; my father had one before me. It sort o’ runs in the family, marm,” was the laconic reply. From a barefooted school-girl at Weltshire, where Sally obtained barely the rudiments of a common education, she became her father’s assistant in bone-setting and manipulating.

The next we hear of Miss Wallin, is at Epsom, where she became known as “Crazy Sally.” She has been described as a “very coarse, large, vulgar, illiterate, drunken, bawling woman,” “known as a haunter of fairs, about which she loved to reel, screaming and abusive, in a state of roaring intoxication.”

It is astonishing as true, that this unattractive specimen of the female sex became so esteemed in Epsom, where she set up as a physician, that the town offered her £100 to[Pg 127] remain there a year! The newspapers sounded her praise, the gentry, even, lauded her skill, and physicians witnessed her operations.

“Crazy Sally” awoke one morning and found herself famous. Patients of rank and wealth flocked from every quarter. Attracted by her success and her accumulating wealth, rather than by her beauty or amiable disposition, an Epsom swain made her an offer of marriage, which she, like a woman, accepted. This fellow’s name was Mapp, who lived with her but for a fortnight, during which time he “thrashed her” (or she him, it is not just clear which) “three times,” and appropriating all of her spare change, amounting to five hundred dollars, he took to himself one half of the world, and quietly left her the other. Our informant adds, “She found consolation for her wounded affections in the homage of the world. She became a notoriety of the first water; every day the public journals gave some interesting account of her, and her remarkable operations.”

The Grub Street Journal of that period said, “The remarkable cures of the woman bone-setter, Mrs. Mapp, are too numerous to enumerate. Her bandages are extraordinarily neat, and her dexterity in reducing dislocations and fractures most wonderful. She has cured persons who have been twenty years disabled.” Her patients were both male and female. Some of her most difficult operations were performed before physicians of eminence.

Her carriage was splendid, on the panels of which were emblazoned her coat of arms. Regularly every week she visited London in this magnificent chariot drawn by four superb, cream-white horses, attended by servants, arrayed in gorgeous liveries. She put up at the Grecian Coffee-House, and forthwith her rooms would be thronged by invalids.

Notices of her were not always of the most complimentary sort. Being one day detained by a cart of coal that was [Pg 128]unloading in a narrow street of the metropolis, on which occasion she was arrayed in a loosely fitting robe-de-chambre, with large flowing sleeves, which set off her massive proportion most conspicuously, she let down the windows of her carriage, and leaning her bare arms upon the door, she impatiently exclaimed,—

“Fellow, how dare you detain a lady of rank thus?”

“A lady of rank!” sneered the coal-man.

“Yes, you villain!” screamed the enraged doctress. “Don’t you observe the arms of Mrs. Mapp on the carriage?”




“Yes—I do see the arms,” replied the impudent fellow, “and a pair of durned coarse ones they are, to be sure.”

On another occasion she was riding up Old Kent Road, dressed as above described. “Her obesity, immodest attire, intoxication, and dazzling equipage were, in the eyes of the mob, so sure signs of royalty, that she was taken for a court lady, of German origin, and of unpopular repute. The crowd gathered about her carriage, and with oaths and yells were about to demolish the windows with clubs and stones, when the nowise alarmed occupant, like Nellie Gwynn, on a[Pg 129] similar occasion, rose in her seat, and, with imprecations more emphatic than polite, exclaimed,—

“—— you! Don’t you know who I am? I am Mrs. Sally Mapp, the celebrated bone-setter of Epsom!”

“This brief address so tickled the humor of the rabble that the lady was permitted to proceed on her way, amid deafening acclamations and laughter.”

This famous woman’s career may be likened to a rocket. She flashed before the people as suddenly, ascended as brilliantly to the zenith of fame, and fell like the burned, blackened stick.

Mrs. Mapp spent her last days in poverty, wretchedness, and obscurity, at “Seven Dials,” where she died almost unattended, on the night of December 22, 1737. Her demise was thus briefly announced in the journals:—

“Died at her lodgings, near Seven Dials, last week, Mrs. Mapp, the once much-talked-of bone-setter of Epsom, so wretchedly poor that the parish was obliged to bury her.”

Mr. Jeaffreson makes mention of two more “female doctors;” one an honest widow, mother of “Chevalier Taylor,” who, at Norwich, carried on a respectable business as an apothecary and doctress, and Mrs. Colonel Blood, who, at Romford, supported herself and son by keeping an apothecary shop.


American Female Physicians.

Perhaps English authors and English readers may be satisfied to allow the above meagre and unenviable array of pretenders to stand on record as the representatives of “female doctors” in their liberal and enlightened country! Americans can boast of a better representative.

While England claims a “Female Medical Society,” and one “Female Medical College,” the United States has several of the former, and three regularly chartered “Female Medical Colleges.” In a recent announcement of the English college,[Pg 130] it claims fifty students, “but the aim of the whole movement is at present only to furnish competent midwives.”

The “Maternity Hospital,” of Paris (which existed long before the late Franco-Prussian war, but which we can learn nothing of since the fall of that once beautiful city), “afforded some opportunity for observation, receiving females nominally as students, but they were not allowed to prescribe in the wards, nor were they instructed in regard to the use and properties of the remedies there prescribed. Indeed, they can hardly rise above the position of proficient nurses,” says our informant.

Some few medical colleges of the United States are admitting females on the same footing as the heretofore more favored “lords of creation.”

A female college has been in existence in Philadelphia for above twenty years. The “New England Female Medical College” was chartered in 1856; but the “regular” colleges, as Yale, Harvard, etc., refuse all female applicants.

New York has been more liberal towards the gentler sex. At Geneva, Rochester, Syracuse, and elsewhere, as early as 1849-50, medical schools of the more liberal sort, but of undoubted respectability and legal charters, opened their doors to female students. In 1869 the New York Female Medical College was chartered, since which time more than two hundred ladies have therein received medical instruction.

In all the principal cities of the Union may be found from one to a dozen respectably educated and successful female practitioners, who have attained to some eminence in spite of the opposition of the “faculty,” and the ignorant prejudices of the common people.

It is surprising how early and persistently some men forget that they were “born of woman!” Their contempt of the capabilities of womankind would lead one to suppose them to be ashamed of their own mothers. Mark Twain’s facetious but instructive speech, once delivered before an editorial[Pg 131] gathering in Boston, ought to be rehearsed to them daily; yes, and enforced by petticoat government upon their notice till it became stereotyped into their stupid brains. Mark says,

“What, sir, would the peoples of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir,—almighty scarce! (Laughter.) Then let us cherish her; let us protect her; let us give her our support, our encouragement, our sympathy,—our—selves, if we get a chance.

“But, jesting aside, Mr. President, woman is gracious, lovable, kind of heart, beautiful, worthy of all respect, of all esteem, of all deference. Not any here will refuse to drink her health right cordially, for each and every one of us has personally known, and loved, and honored the very best of them all,—his own mother!”

Sarah B. Chase, M. D., a respectable and successful female physician of Ohio, gives the following excellent advice:—

“I would not encourage any woman to study medicine, with the expectation of practising, who is not ready and willing—ay, anxious and determined—to go through the same severe drill of preparation, the same thorough discipline, as is required of man before he is crowned with the honors of an M. D.”


A Female Pioneer.

Among the first successful female physicians of Boston, where she was born in 1805, is Harriot K. Hunt, M. D. Her father was a shipping merchant, who, by honesty and uprightness died comparatively poor, for riches are not always to the upright. Her mother is described by Rev. H. B. Elliot, “as one possessing a mind of remarkable qualities, argumentative, practical, independent, and, withal, abounding in tenderness and genial brightness.” In 1830 we find Miss Hunt not only thrown upon her resources for her own livelihood (her father having left but barely the house that[Pg 132] gave them shelter to be called their own), but the support and care of an only and invalid sister, somewhat her junior, were also entirely dependent upon her labors. As a school teacher she met the former, as a student and nurse she finally surmounted the latter. “What! more pedagogues turned doctors?”

After nearly three years’ employment of various physicians on the part of the elder sister, and the extreme suffering from the “distressing and complicated disease,” and, what was worse, the “severest forms of prescriptions of the old school of physic” for the same time by the younger sister, the Misses Hunt were led to investigate for themselves. They purchased medical works, which they read early and late.

In 1833 Harriot leased her house, and entered the office of a doctress, Mrs. Mott by name, in the double capacity of secretary and student. The younger sister became a patient of Mrs. Mott’s. The husband of Mrs. Mott was an English physician, who, with his wife to attend the female portion of his patients, had established himself in Boston. Mrs. Mott was without a thorough medical education. “She made extravagant claims to medical skill in the treatment of cases regarded as hopeless.” In 1835 Dr. Mott died, and Mrs. Mott returned to England. Under the treatment of the latter the invalid sister had so much improved in health as to be able to “walk the streets for the first time in three years;” yet where is the “old school doctor,” or the veriest charlatan, that would give her the credit she so seemingly deserved in this case. Both were her opponents. Even the students of the neighboring medical school were “pitted against her.” The old adage respecting his Satanic majesty having the credit due him, did not seem to apply to her case. But Mrs. Mott was more than a match for their cunning, if not for their scientific theorizings, as the following anecdote will show.

“Three wise men of Gotham,” that amiable lady, Mrs.[Pg 133] Goose, tells us, “went to sea in a bowl; and had the bowl been stronger, my song would have been longer.” This has its parallel in the three wise students of H——, who laid their wise heads together, and went to see—Mrs. Mott, the doctress, of Hanover Street. One was to pretend that he had some peculiar disease, for which he, with his anxious friends, wished to consult the “wise woman.” They entered the doctor’s office, and demanded to see the doctress. This was an open insult to the woman, as she only gave her attention to females and children. Nevertheless, Mrs. Mott, whose olfactory nerves were not so obtuse as to prevent her from distinguishing the aroma of that peculiar little animal quadruped of the genus Mus, obeyed the summons, and entered the presence of the three wise Æsculapians.

Now the fun began. Not the fun that was to be at the expense of the “ignorant old female quack,” however.

One of the gentlemen arose, and after a profound bow, began, with some embarrassment, to state his case.

“But wait just a moment,” the doctress interrupted. “You intimate that it is a peculiar case. My fee for consultation in such cases is three dollars. Please hand over the money, and proceed.”

This was an unexpected demand. They had thought to have a little fun, expose the woman’s ignorance, and have a “huge thing” to tell to their class-fellows, and not pay for it! Mrs. Mott was a woman, but she possessed powerful magnetic influence, and held fast to the point, viz., her fee for consultation; and to the chagrin of the patient (?), and the astonishment of his chums, the three dollars were paid over to the doctress.

“Now, sir, you will please state your case,” said the lady, pocketing the fee, adjusting her eye-glasses, and seating herself for a consultation.

“Yes. Well—it is a—a peculiar case,” stammered the patient.

[Pg 134]“You have informed me of that point before. Please proceed,” remarked the doctress with great complacency to the embarrassed fellow.

“It’s a delicate case,” he blushingly replied.

“O, indeed; then step into this private consulting room;” and arising, she led the way to an inner office, where the young man involuntarily followed, greatly to the amusement of the two remaining students, who remarked, “It is getting blamed hot for us here.”




In a moment, the invalid—greatly improved, one might judge, from his agility,—rushed from the private sanctum with a bound, grasped his hat from the table, exclaiming, “Come on, for God’s sake!” and rushed from the house, followed by his now thoroughly affrighted companions.

“What’s the matter? What did the old tarantula say to you?” demanded the young man’s chums, when well outside of the web into which they had so impudently intruded themselves.

[Pg 135]“Don’t you ever ask me,” he vociferated. “A —— pretty mess you got me into. But if either of you ever again mistake that old woman for a fool, I hope to God she’ll take you into her private consulting room.”

But to return to Miss Hunt and her sister. In 1855 or ’56 the sisters opened an office in Boston. As with all young physicians without “dead men’s shoes,” professional support, or wealthy and influential friends to back them, patients gathered slowly at first, but with a steady increase, the care of whom soon devolved entirely upon Harriot, as her sister married, and retired from practice.

In 1847 she had an extensive practice among a wealthy and influential class of people, which many an older physician of the sterner sex might envy. With a large practical knowledge, acquired in twelve years’ experience, she applied to Harvard College for permission to attend a course of medical lectures. She was refused admission. In 1850 she again applied. The officers consented this time, but the students offered such objections to the admission of females into their presence, that Miss Hunt generously declined to avail herself of the long-coveted opportunity.

“The Female Medical College,” at Philadelphia, in 1853, granted Miss Hunt an honorary degree.... She is now in the midst of an extensive practice. Miss Hunt has lived a glorious, self-denying life, upholding her sister co-laborers, and the “dignity of the profession,” never demeaning herself by stooping to sell her knowledge, by any of those disreputable practices that mark the avaricious M. D., the charlatan, the parasites, and the leeches of the profession, both male and female.

Among eighty-five “female physicians” (?) of Boston, eighteen claim to be graduates of some college. We know of several who deserve a favorable mention here, but present limits will not admit.

 [Pg 136]

New York Female Doctors.

In New York city there are upwards of two hundred so-called “female physicians,” about eighty per cent. of whom, according to the best authority,—police reports, etc.,—subsist by vampirism! Here, in this chapter, I shall mention a few of the really meritorious ones, reserving the large majority to be “shown up” under the various chapters as “fortune-tellers,” “clairvoyants,” and “astrologers.”

The subject of the following imperfect, because brief, sketch,—Mrs. C. S. Lozier, M. D.,—late of New York city, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, in 1813. Her maiden name was Clemence S. Harned. Her father was a farmer by occupation, and a member of the Methodist church. Her amiable and excellent mother was a Quakeress. “Why should Mrs. Lozier, a gentle, modest, unambitious, home-loving woman, have chosen the calling of a physician?” asks her biographer. My answer would be, “She was a creature of circumstances.” Another, in view of the facts to be related, would say, “It was her destiny.”

The valuable information which Mrs. Lozier gained, as a Quakeress, amongst that herbalistic people with which she was early associated, with study and practical observation enabled her to “act efficiently as a nurse and attendant upon the sick and afflicted of the neighborhood.”

The elder brother of Miss Clemence, William Harned, was a physician, as also were two of her cousins. In 1830 she was married to Mr. Lozier, and removed to New York. Her husband’s health failing, and having no other support, Mrs. Lozier opened a select school, which she kept successfully till after the death of Mr. Lozier, in 1837.

“During this period she read medicine with her brother. When her pupils were sick, she would generally be called in before a physician. She also was connected with the ‘Moral Reform Society,’ with Mrs. Margaret Pryor, and visited[Pg 137] the sick and abandoned, often prescribing for them in sickness.”

Mrs. Lozier graduated at the Eclectic College, of Syracuse, in 1853, having attended her first course of lectures at the Central College, Rochester. From that time until her death, in 1870, she continued to minister to the sick and afflicted in the city of New York.

At the commencement of this article we stated that Mrs. Lozier was a modest woman. This she continued to be to the end. Those leading physicians who often met her in consultation, with the thousands of patients who from time to time have been under her treatment, the students before whom she lectured during several years, the numerous friends who thronged her parlors, and the Christian professors with whom she mingled,—all, all testify to this fact. “She denied both the expediency and practicability of mingling the sexes” in deriving a medical education. “Woman physician for women,” was her motto. It was not always possible for her to refuse to prescribe for male patients, as many can testify. The efforts of some, far down in the scale of life, to connect the name of Mrs. Lozier with those disreputable practices by which the majority of female physicians—the parasites of the profession—subsist, yea, even gain a competence, in this city, and, consequently, respectability,—“for gold buys friends,”—have utterly failed, and her name to-day, as it ever will, stands out boldly as belonging to one who was a self-denying, God-fearing, honorable, and successful female practitioner.

Mrs. Lozier is said to have been a skilful surgeon, “having performed upwards of one hundred and twenty capital operations.” In 1867-8 Mrs. L. visited Europe, where she was received with great marks of esteem by eminent men, and admitted to the hospitals.

Her son, Dr. A. W. Lozier, is in practice in New York city.

 [Pg 138]

Doctors Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell.

The first female who received a medical diploma from any college in the United States was Miss Elizabeth Blackwell.

This lady, who now stands only second in years of experience to Miss Hunt, of Boston, and second to no female in medical knowledge and usefulness, came to this country from England in 1831, when she was ten years of age. [A lady, of whom I made some inquiries respecting the above, assured me “it was only those females who were eligible as nurses, or prospective widowhood, which would make them eligible, were desirous of concealing their true age.”]

Being persuaded that her “mission” was to heal the sick, Miss Elizabeth applied, by writing, to six different physicians for advice as to the best means to obtain an education, and received from all the reply that it was “impracticable,” utterly impossible, for a female to obtain a medical education; “the proposition eccentric,” “Utopian,” etc.

It required just this sort of opposition to draw out the true character, and arouse the hidden abilities of such women as the Misses Blackwell.

Elizabeth, while supporting herself by giving music lessons in Charleston, S. C., received regular medical instruction from S. H. Dixon, M. D., a gentleman and scholar, well known to the entire profession of two continents; also from Drs. John Dixon, Allen, and Warrington, the two latter in Philadelphia. Being considered by these gentlemen competent, Miss Blackwell applied to the medical schools of Philadelphia and New York for admission as a medical student, by all of which she was rejected “because she was a female.” Finally she gained admission to the College at Geneva, N. Y., and graduated in 1848. Are the males the only “oppressors” of the gentler sex? No, no; woman is woman’s own worst enemy.

Miss Blackwell was two years in Geneva, and so violent[Pg 139] was the opposition of her own sex, that no lady in Geneva would make her acquaintance while there. “Common civilities at the table, even, were denied me.” Entirely different was the treatment which she received at the hands of the students and professors of the college. “Here she found nothing but friendliness and decorum, and, on the eve of her graduation, the cordiality of the students in making way for her to receive her diploma, and pleasantly indicating their congratulations, was marked and respectful.”

The following morning her parlor was thronged with ladies.

Miss Elizabeth Blackwell visited London and Paris, and was entered as student at St. Bartholomew’s, and also at “La Maternité” (The Maternity).

She returned to New York, and, notwithstanding “she found a blank wall of social and professional antagonism facing the woman physician, which formed a situation of singular loneliness, leaving her without support, respect, or counsel,” she gained a foothold, and a respectable and living practice soon began to flow in and crown her persistent efforts.

Now her sister Emily commenced the study of medicine, first with Elizabeth, subsequently with Dr. Davis, of Cincinnati Medical College. In 1852 she and her sister were permitted to attend upon some of the wards (female, we presume) of Bellevue Hospital. In 1854 Emily graduated at Cleveland College (Eclectic, I think).

Through their united efforts the “New York Infirmary for Women and Children” was established. “Up to the present time over fifty thousand patients have received prescriptions and personal care by this means.” Contrary to Mrs. Lozier, “they are firm in their conviction of the expediency of mingling the sexes in all scholastic training. In their mode of practice they adopt the main features of the ‘regular’ system.” Nearly all other physicians are rather of the Eclectic system. Like Miss Hunt, “she was bound by no regular school, as none had indorsed her.”

[Pg 140]There are many contemporaries of Miss Hunt and the sisters Blackwell whom we might mention, but the history of one is the history of the whole, so far as early struggles, opposition of the profession, and neglect and disrespect of their own sex, is concerned.

Frances S. Cooke, M. D., of the “Female Medical College,” East Concord Street, Boston, Mrs. Jackson, Lucy Sewall, M. D., recently returned from Europe, and a half-score others of Boston, much deserve more than a passing notice, but our limited space will not permit. Also, Hannah E. Longshore, M. E. Zakezewska, of New York, Miss Jane E. Myers, M. D., Mrs. Mary F. Thomas, M. D. (Camden, Ind.), Miss Ann Preston, M. D., of Philadelphia, Mrs. Annie Bowen, of Chicago, and others, “too numerous to mention,” who, in spite of the opposition from their own sex, from the profession, and the public in general, have gained a name and a competency through their professional efforts.

“A woman’s intellectual incapacity and her physical weakness will ever disqualify her for the duties of the medical profession,” wrote Dr. ——, of Pennsylvania.

Edward H. Dixon, M. D., of New York, in an article published in the “Scalpel” shows, by uncontroverted arguments and facts, that the male child, at birth, “in original organic strength,” holds only an equal chance with the female; that “the chances of health for the two sexes at the outset are equal, and so continue till the period when they first attain the full use of their legs.”

Ask the mother of a family if the labor pains show any respect of sex.

Does not the female show as strong lungs as the male in its earliest disapprobation of this unceremonious world? How about the comparative strength exhibited in the demonstrations of each when the lacteal fluid is not forthcoming in proportion to the appetite?

Let us consult Dr. Dixon further,—and charge it to the females!

[Pg 141]“We give the girl two years’ start of the boy,—we shall see why as we proceed. Both have endured the torture of bandaging, pinning (pricking), and tight dressing; both have been rocked, jounced on the knee, papped, laudanumed, paregoricked, castor oiled, suffocated with blankets over the head, sweltered with cap and feather bed, roasted at a fire of anthracite, dosed according to the formula of some superannuated doctor or ‘experienced nurse,’ or both, for these people usually hunt in couples, and are very gracious to each other. We give the girl the start to make up for the benefit the boy has derived from chasing the cat, rolling on the floor, or sliding down the balustrade, and the torture she had endured from her sampler, and being compelled to ‘sit up straight, and not be hoidenish.’”




“Well, they are off to school. Observe how circumspectly our little miss must walk, chiding her brother for being ‘too rude.’ He, nothing daunted, (with a ‘Poh! you’re a girl’), starts full tilt after an unlucky pig or a stray dog. If he tumbles into the mud and soils his clothes the result is soon visible in increase of lungs and ruddy cheeks.”

[Pg 142]“In school the boy has the advantage. The girl ‘mustn’t loll,’ must sit up erect, the limbs hanging down, her feet probably not reaching the floor, and the spinal column must bear the main support for three to six hours! The boy gets relief in ‘shying’ an occasional paper ball across the room, hitching about, and drawing his legs up on the seat, or sticking a pin in his neighbor, and a good run and jump at recess, changing the monotony of the recreation by an occasional fight after school. At dinner the girl has had no exercise to create an appetite, and her meal is made up of pastry and dessert. ‘Remember that her muscles move the limbs, and are composed chiefly of azote, and it is the red meat, or muscle of beef or mutton, that she would eat if she had any appetite for it, that is to say, if her stomach and blood-vessels would endure it. The fact is, the child has fever and loathes meat.’”

While the boy, hat in hand, rushes to the common or rear yard to roll hoop, fly his kite, or, in winter, to skate or coast down hill, the girl is reminded that she has “one whole hour to practise at the piano,” either in a darkened room, from whence all God’s sunshine is excluded, cold and cheerless, or the other extreme—seated near a heated register, from which the dry, poisonous fumes belch forth, destroying the pure oxygen she requires to inflate her narrowing lungs, and increase the fibrine, the muscle, and strength necessary to the exhausting exercise. She closes the day by eating a bit of cake and a plate of preserves.

The hungry, “neglected” boy has returned, and, with swift coursing blood, strength of muscle and brain, catches a glance at his neglected lesson, comprehending it all the quicker by the change he has enjoyed, bawls boisterously for some cold meat, or something hearty, and tumbles into his bed, forgetting to close the door or window; whereas the girl must be attended to her room, “she is so delicate,” and, being tucked well in on a sweltering feather bed, and bound[Pg 143] down by heavy blankets, the doors and windows are carefully secured, and, committed to the “care of Providence,” she is left to swelter till to-morrow.

The period for a great change arrives, often catching the poor, uninformed girl completely by surprise. Furthermore, the constant deprivation of her natural requirements—pure air, wholesome, nutritious food, unrestrained limbs and lungs—now become more apparent. In spite of the constant drilling which she has received, she feels exceedingly gauche. Her face is alternately pale and flushed; she suffers from headache,—“a rush of blood to the head.” Stays and tight-lacing have weakened the action of the heart, cut off the circulation to the extremities, and deprived those parts of blood which now require the nutriment necessary to their strength and support in the time of their greatest need.

The ignorant mother sends for a physician, perhaps almost as ignorant as herself; or, what is still worse, being a miserable time-server, seeing the admirable opportunity for making a bill, straightway commences a course of deception and quackery that, if it do not result in the death of the unfortunate patient, leaves her a miserable creature for life, with spinal curvature or consumption; or worse, by confinement and medication destroy her chance of restoration; and should some unlucky and ignorant young man take her as wife, and she become a mother, she surely will drag out a wretched existence as a victim to uterine displacement and its concomitant results.

Physically, morally, and intellectually woman is not born inferior to man. We have briefly shown where and how she has fallen behind in the race of life in a physical view of the matter. The intellectual sense has kept pace only with the physical. Morally woman stands alone; by her own strength or weakness she stands or falls. Man scarcely upholds or encourages her. Her own sex, we have herein-before[Pg 144] stated, is woman’s own worst enemy! “Be thou as chaste as ice, or pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny,” and if she fall, who shall restore her? The whole world is against her; one half makes her what she is, the other’s scorn and neglect keeps her thus! The “ballot” will not keep woman from falling, nor raise her when fallen. The “church” does not exempt woman from the wiles of men, nor its adherents raise the fallen to their pristine strength, beauty, and respectability! Though Christ, the lowly, the magnanimous, said, “Neither do I condemn thee,” his followers (?) cannot lay their hands upon their hearts and repeat his gracious words. Where is the fallen woman whom the church (not Roman Catholic) ever took in with that good faith and spirit of sisterly love or brotherly affection, with which a fallen man can, and is, often received into the church and into society?

Echo answers, “Where?”

O, deny this who will! It is no “attack upon the church;” merely a lamentably truthful statement.

The church, like society, withdraws her skirts from contact with the fallen sister. “She is a wreck, drifted upon our shore, for which God holds some one accountable. Not a wreck that can be restored—not a wreck that money or repentance can atone for.” (What! not money? Then surely she is lost, and forever!) “The damage is beyond earthly knowledge to estimate, beyond human power of indemnification. If ever the erring soul shall retrace her steps, it will be Christ himself who shall lead her; if ever peace shall brood again over her spirit, it will be the Comforter who shall send the white-winged dove.

“But the merest lad detects the lost woman. She carries the evidences of her guilt (or misfortune?) in the very clothes she wears, whether she is the richly dressed courtesan of the Bowery, or the beggarly street-walker of the village. There is a delicacy in, and a fine bloom on the nature[Pg 145] of woman, which impurity smites with its first breath, and she cannot conceal the loss nor cover the shame!”

“If there be but one spot upon thy name,
One eye thou fearest to meet, one human voice
Whose tones thou shrinkest from, Woman! veil thy face,
And bow thy head and die!”

Then is there no help for woman’s condition in this cold, uncharitable world? you ask, in view of these facts related above. Yes; but it rests with woman. It must begin with the first breath the female infant draws. Educate her from the cradle. Give her the freedom of the boy, the pure air that the boy breathes; not the romping, rude, boisterous plays, perhaps (?), of the boy, but plenty of outdoor exercise, runs, slides, skates, rides; let her laugh, yea shout, if it be in a country place, till the woods ring again with the merry echoes, and the puzzled forest nymphs issue from their invaded retreats, endeavoring to solve the riddle by ocular demonstration which their ears have failed to unravel, viz., the sex, as revealed in the strength of voice and buoyancy of spirits, or expressed in unrestrained laughter!

“O, shocking! How hoidenish!”

Who says to laugh is “hoidenish?” A female invariably! And this is just what we are explaining: women must change tactics as teachers. There is time enough to instruct the young lady, after the girl or the miss has developed muscle, vitalized her blood, and capacitated her brain for the sterner realities of life.

Let women learn to be true teachers of women.

Begin at the beginning. This is the only way. Stand by one another in the reform. Never mind the ballot; don’t try to wear the breeches. No—the male attire I mean.

The superfluous boarding-school education must give place to something more substantial. Mrs. Dashaway is to the point:—

[Pg 146]“No, Pauline; home eddycation is perferable. If there is a requestred spot on this toad-stool I detest more’n another it is a female cemetery, where bread-and-butter girls are sent and quartered for a finished eddycation; and it does finish most of em.”

“O, no, no, aunty. You mean sequestered spot, and sent quarterly to a seminary.”

“Well, well; you’ve got too many oceans in your head already of Greek and zebra, of itchiology, and other humerous works; as for me, give me pure blood, sound teeth, and a good constitution, and let them what’s got them sort of diseases see the good Samaritan, and ten to eleven if he don’t cure them in less than no time. Land! if Pauline ain’t drummin’ the piany!”

Shall women remain passively resigned to the lamentable physical condition of her sex? or will she see where lies the main difficulty, viz., in a wrong start,—in the superfluous, debilitating, namby-pamby education of the female infant, miss, young lady?

Thoreau wrote that he believed resignation a virtue, but he “rather not practise it unless it became absolutely necessary.”

“Resignation” is unnecessary in this case. Only let every woman arouse her energies, and stand firmly in claiming her “rights” to rightly educate her children, girls as well as boys, showing no respect of sex in their early training, thereby “commencing at the beginning.” What is a house without a good foundation? You may build, and rebuild, and finally it will all topple over, overwhelming you in its ruins.

There is no “right” that woman may claim for herself and sex in general but men must and will concede. Man is not your master. “Habit,” “fashion,” “opinion,” these are your only masters. These shackle woman.

Do women dress for men? to please the opposite sex? or for each other’s eye? “You know just how it is yourself.”[Pg 147] Poh! What do men, generally speaking, know of woman’s dress? Absolutely nothing! I boldly assert that not one man in twenty, going out to a call, party, or even a concert or opera, knows the cut and color of the dress of his wife accompanying him. Woman dresses for women’s inspection. Whatever she does for fear or favor of man else, woman dresses for her own sex.

“What will Mrs. Codfish say when she sees this turned dress?”

“Old Codfish,” her husband, is worth at least fifty thousand dollars, and here is Mrs. Copyman, whose husband is as poor as “Job’s turkey,” standing in dread of that woman’s criticism!

Not one male in a thousand can detect a well turned dress, but I defy the most cunning dressmaker to alter, retrim, frill, and “furbelow” a dress that the female eye won’t detect at a glance!

“I rather pay the butcher’s bill than the doctor’s,” says the father.

“O, horrors! Just see that girl swallow the meat! Why, it will make your skin as rough as a grater and as greasy as an Indian’s!” exclaims the mother.

Miss Primrose keeps our village school; she who wears the trailing skirts, and was seen to cut a cherry in two parts before eating it, at the party last week. She almost went into convulsions—not of laughter, as I did—to see Kitty Clover astride a plank, with her brother on the opposite end, playing at “See-saw.”

“Here we go up—up—uppy; and here we go down—down—downy,” they were singing in unison, when “ding, ding, ding!” went the school-bell, followed by a scream from Miss Primrose.

With glowing cheeks—that’s from the exercise—and downcast eye, from fear of Miss Primrose’s anger, Kitty came demurely into the school-room before recess was half over.

[Pg 148]After a long lecture about her “masculine behavior,” “horrid red countenance,” and “rumpled dress,” and “dishevelled hair,” poor Kitty is sent to her form to “sit up straight, and not forget that she is a young lady hereafter.”




And what of her brother who was on the other end of the plank? O, he is a boy! “That’s what’s the difference!”


Love and Thoroughwort.

“He’ll never die for love, I know,
He’ll never die for love, nor wear
Upon his brow the marks of care.”

This is a true story, written for this work, but published, by permission of the author, in the “American Union.”

[Pg 149]“So you believe me totally incapable of truly loving any girl, do you?”

“I most assuredly do,” was my positive answer.

My friend, George Brown, turned and walked away a few paces, looking thoughtfully to the ground. He was a splendid looking man, about twenty years of age; my late school-fellow, my present friend and confidant. He was, what I did not flatter myself as being, a great favorite with the ladies. Handsome, tall, manly, of easy address, a fine singer and dancer, the only impediment to his physical perfection was, when the least excited, a hesitancy of speech—almost a stammer. Finally he turned and walked back to me, saying,—

“Now, Ad, if you will agree to a proposition I have to offer, I will disprove your assertion, so oft repeated, that I never loved—not even that dear girl, Jenny Kingsbury.”

“First let me hear your proposition.”

“You have long desired to visit Bangor?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Let us harness ‘Simon’ early some fine morning for that delightful city; go by the way of B. and O., stop and see Jenny, who I have learned by roundabout inquiry resides with her aunt in the latter place. And,” he added, triumphantly, “see for yourself if she isn’t a girl to be loved.”

“O, no doubt Jenny Kingsbury ‘is a girl to be loved;’ so was Addie, and so was ’Ria, and a dozen others, whom you have sworn you loved so devotedly. O George, out upon your affections.”

“Will—will—you go? That’s the question.”

“Yes—I will go—because I wish to visit Bangor very much,” was my reply; and the time was at once set for the journey, which was to occupy two days.

Mrs. Brown, the mother of my friend George, was a devout Christian. She believed in her Bible. Moreover, she was an excellent nurse, and next to her Bible, believed in[Pg 150] thoroughwort. Thoroughwort tea, or thoroughwort syrup, was her panacea for all the ills, physical or moral, that ever was, or could be, detailed upon poor humanity.

“Before you start, boys—”

“Boys! Where are your men?” interrupted George.

“Hear me!” continued Mrs. Brown. “Before you start for Bangor to-morrow morning, do you take a good drink of that thoroughwort syrup in the large jar on the first shelf in the pantry. It’ll keep out the cold; for there’ll be frost to-night, I think, and at five o’clock in the morning the air will be sharp. O, there is nothing equal to thoroughwort for keeping out the cold.”

“Anything to eat in that pantry?” asked George, with a wink tipped to me. You see I was to sleep with him that night, preparatory to an early start for Bangor.

“Yes, some cold meat, bread, and a pie. But don’t forget to first take a dose of the thoroughwort syrup. Addison, you bear it in mind, for George is awful forgetful, especially about taking his thoroughwort.” And Mrs. Brown detained us fully fifteen minutes, as she rehearsed the remarkable qualities of her favorite remedy,—“particularly for keeping out cold.”

“Mother thinks that condemnable stuff is meat, drink, and clothing,” remarked George, as we sought the pantry at an early hour on the following morning, not for the thoroughwort, but for sandwiches, pies, and the like.

“Let me take a taste of the ‘stuff,’” I said, as I noticed the jar so conveniently at hand.

“O, no; not on an empty stomach. It will make you throw up Jonah if you do,” exclaimed George, with an expression of disgust distorting his features. “Eat something first, and then, if you want to taste the condemned ‘stuff,’ do so, and the Lord be with you,” he added, pitching into the eatables.

Having made away with the pie, and much of the [Pg 151]sandwiches, we turned our attention for a moment to the thoroughwort syrup. I took a taste, and George spilled a quantity on the shelf, “that mother may know we have been to the jar,” he remarked, as we left the pantry.

It was not yet five o’clock when we drove noiselessly away from the door. If I remember rightly, we were not noiseless after that. The morning was delightful, slightly cool,—but that was no impediment to our warm blood, owing to the thoroughwort,—and we sped on in an exuberant flow of spirits. “Simon” was in excellent travelling order, and went without whip or spur. We should have reached the village of B., where we were to breakfast, and bait Simon, by eight o’clock, but George would insist on making the acquaintance, nolens volens, of half the farmers on the road, ostensibly to inquire the way to B.

“Hallo!” he shouted, reining up Simon before a small farm-house. Up flew a window, and out popped a nightcapped head.

“What d’ye want?” called a feminine voice. It was now hardly daylight, and the person could not distinguish us.

“Excuse me, madam, for disturbing your slumbers; but can you inform a stranger if this is the right road to B.?” asked George, in his most pleasing manner.

“O, yes; keep right on; take the first left hand road to the top o’ the hill; then go on till yer—”

We drove away, not waiting for the rest.

“Do you suppose that old woman is talking there now, with her nightcapped head poked out of the window?” asked George, as we reached the hotel at B.

“For shame!” said I. “Waking up all the people on the road, to inquire the way, with which you were perfectly familiar!”

From B. our route lay along the western bank of the beautiful Penobscot. I need not detain you while I rehearse the delightful scenery en route to Bangor; the variegated[Pg 152] and gorgeous splendors of the autumnal leaves; the bending boughs, from the abundant ripened fruit, in colors of red, orange, and yellow on one hand, and on the other the bright, glassy waters of the broad river, dotted here and there by the white sails of boats and vessels lying becalmed in the morning sunshine.

We reached the village of O., and George made inquiry for the residence of Mr. Kingsbury.

“The large white house just across the bridge.”

“Thank you.” And we drove up to the front yard.

“Ne-ne-now, Ad, you go up and knock, and call for Miss Kingsbury; ye-ye-you know I st-stutter when I get ex-ex-cited,” said George, hitching Simon to the horse-post.

“What shall I say to her? and how shall I know Miss Kingsbury from any other lady?”

“O, ask for her. I’ll compose myself, and follow ri-right up. You’ll know her from the description I have given you. Black eyes and hair, full form—O, there is nobody else like her. Come, go up and call for her.”

“Well, I’ll go; and if I get stuck, come quickly to my rescue,” I said, turning to the house. “Is Miss Kingsbury at home?” I asked of the young lady who answered my knock. “This person is surely not Miss Jenny,” I said to myself; “cross-eyed, blue at that, and light, almost red hair.” She smiled, took a second look at me, and said,—


“Miss Jenny Kingsbury,” I repeated.

“Well—yes—I guess she is. Will you walk in?”

“No, thank you. Will you please call her out?” And so saying, I beckoned to George.

The girl closed the door, and I called to George “to make haste and change places with me.” He came up just as the door reopened, and a beautiful dark-eyed woman appeared, whom he greeted as Miss Kingsbury.

“I’ll see to the horse,” I said; and having taken a hurried[Pg 153] glance at the young lady, I withdrew. For a full half hour I walked up and down beneath the maples in front of the house, watched the steamer Penobscot, as she came up the river, and from thence turned my attention to a schooner that was endeavoring to enter the cove, not far from the house. A light breeze had sprung up from the westward, and the channel being narrow, there seemed much difficulty in gaining the harbor.

Finally George came to the door and beckoned me. I went in, and received an introduction to Mrs. Kingsbury and to Jenny.

“O, but she is beautiful,” I whispered to George.

He was flushed and excited, consequently stammered some, and I was compelled to keep up a conversation, but I did not feel easy. Something was wrong. I detected more than one sly wink between aunt and niece, and when the cross-eyed miss came into the room, I could not tell whom she was glancing at, as her eyes “looked forty ways for Sunday,” but she leered perceptibly towards first one, then the other of the ladies. I hinted to George that we must not delay longer. Still he tarried. Mrs. Kingsbury seemed interested in the movements of the schooner in the mouth of the cove. Miss Jenny was interested in George. I was interested in getting away from them all. Finally the schooner was moored to the wharf, and, standing at the window, I noticed a sailor, with a bundle on a stick over his shoulder, approaching the house. A whisper passed between aunt and niece, and the latter asked George to accompany her into an adjoining room.

It was now past noon. A pleasant, savory smell came up from the kitchen, but no one asked me to put up the horse, and stay to dinner.

The man with the bundle came familiarly into the yard. Soon George returned alone to the room, and seizing his hat, he stammered, “C-c-come, Ad,” and rushed from the house.

[Pg 154]Mrs. Kingsbury attended me to the door, and wished me a pleasant ride to Bangor. George jumped into the buggy, seized the reins, and giving a cut upon the horse, bawled, “Go on, Simon.”

“Hold on. First let me unhitch him,” I cried, seizing the spirited beast by the bridle. I unfastened the halter, and jumped into the carriage; and away flew Simon, snorting and irritated under the unnecessary cuts he had received from the whip. At the first corner George took the back road towards B.

“Not that way! Hold on, and turn about,” I exclaimed, catching at the reins. “Now stop and tell me all about it. Did you propose to Jenny? Has she accepted, and are you beside yourself with ecstatic joy? Come, tell me.”

“Ho! Simon.” And laying down the reins, George drew out his wallet, and taking therefrom a bit of silk goods, he turned upon my astonished gaze a woe-begone look, and said,—

“Ad, she’s mum-mum-married—”


“Yes, married; and there’s a piece of her wedding gown. The fellow you saw come in while there, with the bundle on a stick,—the land-lubberish-looking fellow,—was her husband. O my God! Did you ever?” And so relieving his mind, he caught the reins and whip, and away darted Simon at a fearful rate of speed.

At Bangor I said to George,—

“Well, there probably is no love lost on either side. She sold out at the first bid, and you never had the least hold on her affections.”

“Ah, I have had her confidence in too many moonlight walks to believe that,” was his reply.

“And it was all moonshine,—that’s evident,” I said.

“No, no; I wish it was. I never shall love again,” said George, with a deep sigh, and a sorry-looking cast of countenance.

[Pg 155]“No, I suppose not,” was my non-consoling reply.

“Still, do you believe I never loved that darling girl?” he asked, almost in a rage. “If that man—that fellow—should die with the autumn leaves, I would at once marry Jenny, who loves me still,” he exclaimed, pacing the room like an enraged lion.

“He won’t die, however. He looks healthy and robust, and will outlive you and your affection for his wife,” I replied, with a derisive laugh.

It rained the next afternoon, as we returned home by a shorter route than via O. and B. George talked a great deal of Jenny on the way back, and said he never should get over this fearful disappointment.

“Only think of the lovely Jenny Kingsbury marrying that fellow with the bundle and the stick! O, I shall be sick over it; I know I shall.”

“Especially if you take a bad cold riding in this storm,” I added, by way of consolation. “However, you can take some of your mother’s good thoroughwort—”

“Confound the thoroughwort,” he interrupted.

“Did you know that George is sick?” asked his little brother of me the following day.

“No. Is he much sick?” I inquired, in alarm.

“O, yes; he’s awful sick—or was last night; and mother fooled him on a dose of fresh thererwort tea, which only made him sicker,” replied the little chap, turning up his nose in disgust.

“Is he better now?” I inquired.

“O, yes; ever so much now. I don’t know what ma called the disease he’s got; but howsomever she said thererwort was good for it, and I guess it is, ’cause he’s better.”

I was called away, and did not see my friend George till a week after our return from the little trip to B. He never mentioned Jenny afterwards, nor said a word about the[Pg 156] thoroughwort tea. He took to horses after that, and eventually married a poor, unpretending girl, quite unlike the dark-eyed, beautiful, and wealthy Miss Jenny Kingsbury.

Mrs. Brown still recommends her favorite panacea for all ails, physical or moral; but whenever she mentions it in George’s presence, he exclaims, with a look of disgust,—

“O, confound the thoroughwort!”




[Pg 157]



I swear, ’tis better to be lowly born,
And range with humble livers in content,
Than to be perked up in a glistening grief
And wear a golden sorrow.”—King Henry VIII.



On looking over my “collection” on quacks and charlatans, I am so strongly reminded of a little anecdote which you may have already seen in print, but which so well illustrates painfully the facts to be adduced in this chapter, that I must appropriate the story, which story a western engineer tells of himself.

“One day our train stopped at a new watering-place, being a small station in Indiana, where I observed two green-looking countrymen in ‘homespun’ curiously inspecting the locomotive, occasionally giving vent to expressions of astonishment.

“Finally one of them approached and said,—

“‘Stranger, are this ’ere a injine?’

“‘Certainly. Did you ever see one before?’

[Pg 158]“‘No, never seen one o’ the critters afore. Me an’ Bill here comed down t’ the station purpose to see one. Them’s the biler—ain’t it?’

“‘Yes, that is the boiler,’ I answered.

“‘What you call that place you’re in?’

“‘This we call a cab.’

“‘An’ this big wheel, what’s this fur?’

“‘That’s the driving wheel.’

“‘That big, black thing on top I s’pose is the chimley.’


“‘Be you the engineer what runs the machine?’

“‘I am,’ I replied, with the least bit of self-complacency.

“He eyed me closely for a moment; then, turning to his companion, he remarked,—

“‘Bill, it don’t take much of a man to be a engineer—do it?’”

The reader will perceive the distinction which we make between humbugs, quacks, and charlatans, though one individual may comprehend the whole.

“Quacks comprehend not only those who enact the absurd impositions of ignorant pretenders, but also of unbecoming acts of professional men themselves.”—Thomas’ Medical Dictionary.

This is the view we propose to take of it in this chapter, in connection with the derivation of the word.

The word quack is derived from the German “quack salber,” or mercury, which metal was introduced into the Materia Medica by Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Paracelsus Bombast ab Hohenhein!

“So extensively was quicksilver used by Paracelsus and his followers that they received the stigma of ‘quacks.’”—See Parr’s Medical Dictionary.

There is some controversy respecting the date of birth of Paracelsus, but probably it was in the year 1493. He was born in Switzerland.

 [Pg 159]


[Pg 160] 

[Pg 161]Professor Waterhouse (1835) says, “He was learned in Greek, Latin, and several other languages. That he introduced quicksilver,” etc., “and was a vain, arrogant profligate, and died a confirmed sot.”

“Paracelsus was a man of most dissolute habits and unprincipled character, and his works are filled with the highest flights of unintelligible bombastic jargon, unworthy of perusal, but such as might be expected from one who united in his person the qualities of a fanatic and a drunkard.”—R. D. T.

Mercury was known to the early Greek and Roman physicians, who regarded it as a dangerous poison. They, however, used it externally in curing the itch, and John de Vigo employed it to cure the plague. Paracelsus used it internally first for lues venerea, which appeared in Naples the year of his birth, though doubtless that disease reached far back, even into the camp of Israel. The heroic doses of Paracelsus either destroyed the disease at once, or the patient. Paracelsus proclaimed to the world that there was no further need of the Materia Medica, especially the writings of Galen, and burned them in public; his “Elixir Vitæ” would cure all diseases. But in spite of his wonderful knowledge and his life-saving elixir, he died of the diseases he professed to cure, at the early age of forty-eight, while Galen lived to the age of seventy.

So much for the “father of quacks.”

For nearly four centuries mercury has been exhibited in the Materia Medica to a greater extent than any other remedy. Doubtless it possesses great medicinal virtues, but its abuse—the “heroic doses” used by the ignorant and brainless quacks, both graduates of some medical college, and soi-disant physicians—has made its name a terror to the people and a reproach to the profession. To assail it is to tread on dangerous ground; to invade the “rights” of a numerous host of worshippers; to uncover an ulcer, whose [Pg 162]rottenness, though smelling to heaven, is protracted for the pecuniary advantage of the prescriber.

Eminent physicians in every age since its introduction, and in every enlightened country, have protested against its abuse; yea, even its use! They have called its users “quacks,” the most contemptible epithet ever introduced into medical nomenclature,—the “Samson” of the profession, because through the instrumentality of an ass and his adherents, “it has slain its thousands.”

I need not quote those distinguished practitioners who have recorded their testimony against its general and indiscriminate use. Their name is legion, and every well-informed physician is aware of the fact.

Do not “well-informed physicians” prescribe calomel?

Certainly; but cautiously, and often under protest.

It is recorded of Sir Astley Cooper that he made serious objections to its free use in the wards of the Borough Hospitals, and forthwith the “smaller fry” made such a breeze about his ears that he seemed called upon to defend, and even palliate, his offence. Dr. Macilwain says that Sir Astley is reported to have said in reply to those who demurred,—

“Why, gentlemen, was it likely that I should say anything unkind towards those gentlemen? Is not Mr. Green (surgeon of St. Thomas) my godson, Mr. Tusell my nephew, Mr. Travers my apprentice (surgeon of St. Thomas), Mr. Key and Mr. Cooper (surgeons of Guy’s Hospital) my nephews?”

This was very naïve, and as good illustration of the value of evidence in relation to one thing (his provision for his relatives) which is stated in relation to another.

Herein Sir Astley exposed a weakness with which the democratic opponents of President Grant have accused him, viz., of furnishing comfortable positions for his relatives.

Sir John Forbes, when at the head of the medical profession of England in 1846, wrote an earnest appeal to his brethren to rescue their art from the ruin into which it was falling,[Pg 163] saying in relation to modes of curing diseases, “Things have become so bad that they must mend or end.” This was “dangerous ground,” and some physicians of the day feared Dr. Forbes had done an immense mischief. After his death, be it remembered, some of the “medical magnates” of this country virtuously refused to subscribe to his monument fund, saying, “it was a misfortune to mankind (?) that he had ever lived.”

Dr. W. A. Hammond, surgeon general of the United States, also blundered when, by an order dated at Washington, May 4, 1863, he struck calomel from the supply table of the army. This proscription was on the ground that “it has so frequently been pushed to excess by military surgeons, as to call for prompt steps to correct its abuse.... This is done with the more confidence, as modern pathology has proved the impropriety of the use of mercury in very many of those diseases in which it was formerly unfailingly administered.

The American Medical Times (regular) said, “The order appeared not only expedient, but judicious and necessary, under the circumstances.” What circumstances? Read on further, and the Times editor explains: “No evil can result to the sick soldier from the absence of calomel, however much he may need mercurialization, when such preparations as blue pill, bichloride and iodide of mercury, etc., remain. But, in prescribing these latter remedies, the practitioner generally has a very definite idea of the object he wishes to attain, which is not always the case in the use of calomel.”

By this timely order it was estimated that ten thousand soldiers were released from a morning dose of calomel!

Was this a blow aimed at “quackery”? Was Dr. Hammond, “a member of the medical profession highly esteemed for scientific attainments,” attempting a reform in medicine? Any way, Dr. Hammond shared the fate of all medical reformers. He was suspended. He was disgraced.

[Pg 164]The American Medical Association met at Chicago, and set up a strong opposition to the “order.” Certain persons brought charges against the surgeon general. A commission was appointed. The Times said, “The whole affair has the appearance of a secret and deliberate conspiracy against the surgeon general.... The commission is, in the first place, headed by a person known to be hostile to the surgeon general. This fact throws suspicion upon the object of the investigation.” Just so. The “object” was to appoint some one instead of Dr. Hammond, who would repeal the obnoxious order. No matter what pretence was set up beside, this is the fact of the case, and the people and the profession know this to be true.

But how shall we judge of the motives of Dr. Hammond but by appearances? Who so well knew the value, or injury, of calomel, as he who had used it for twenty odd years? Admitting Professor Chapman, of Philadelphia, was within twenty years of right when he said, “He who resigns the fate of his patient to calomel, ... if he has a tolerable practice, will, in a single season, lay the foundation of a good business for life,” did not Dr. H. exhibit a little selfishness in attempting to deprive young practitioners of the opportunity of laying for themselves a foundation for a prosperous future?

“Doubtless,” said a medical journal of the day, “all quacks and irregulars are congratulating themselves upon the appearance of this ‘order.’” This leads us to ask, “Who are the quacks?”

The governor of Ohio, in 1861, made inquiry of the United States surgeon general, to know if the regiments of that state could be allowed to choose between allopathic and homeopathic surgeons.

No: I’ll see them damned to hell first,” was the gracious reply.

The resolutions drawn up and adopted by the New York[Pg 165] Academy of Medicine as an offset against the appeal for admission of homeopathic surgeons into the army (1862), contained the following:—

“3d. That it (homeopathy) is no more worthy of such introduction than other kindred methods of practice as closely allied to quackery.”

There were then some thirty-five hundred of that sort of “quacks” practising under diplomas—mostly obtained from regular colleges—in the United States. Shame!

The Royal College, Dublin, the same year, in a resolution passed, called Mesmerism and homeopathy quackery.

In an article in the “Scalpel,” from the able pen of Dr. Richmond,—about the time that the “swarm of vampires that was the first fruits of the tribe of rooters that swarmed the State of New York under the teachings of T. and B.” (Thompson and Beach),—he calls botanics and eclectics quacks and Paracelsuses! Clear as—mud!

So! The calomel practitioners are quacks. The homeopathics are quacks. The eclectics, and botanics, and Mesmerics, are all quacks! Any more, gentlemen? This is getting things somewhat mixed, and I rush to Dunglison’s Medical Dictionary for explanation. Why, a quack is a charlatan! I turn to “Charlatan.” Lo, it is quack! Clear as mud, again.

In my perplexity I consult Webster. He refers me to a goose! So I rush to Worcester, and he implies it is a duck! Perhaps the bill has something to do with the name; especially as I am reminded of a suit brought by a Boston M. D. to recover the exorbitant sum of three hundred dollars for reducing a dislocation.

Therefore, summing up this “uncertainty,” it seems to be a convenient word, expressive of contempt, which any professional man may hurl at any other whom he dislikes, or with whom he is not in fellowship.

In its general use it is the thief calling, “Stop thief.”

[Pg 166]It was no unusual practice for physicians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to use calomel in scruple, and even drachm doses. Mazerne “habitually administered calomel in scruple doses.” Yandal gave it by the table-spoonful. I knew a physician in Maine who usually administered it by the tea-spoonful, and I saw a woman at Deer Isle, Me., suffering from true anchylosis of the jaw, in consequence of thus taking his prescription. In the same town was a man who was made completely imbecile by overdoses of mercury. In the town of B——l, same county and state, once lived an old quack, for convenience sake, near a large graveyard. He “owned” it. That is, he is said to have more victims laid away therein than all the other doctors who ever practised in town. “I knew him well.” Once he sent to Boston for two ounces of calomel. There was no steam conveyance in those days, and a sea captain took the order. By some mistake, two pounds were sent. It was not returned. “O, never mind,” said the doctor; “I shall use it all some time.”

Every state, county, yes, every town, in the Union has its victims to this quackery. In Rochelle, Ill., is a remarkable case, a merchant. Almost every joint in his frame is rendered useless. He can speak, and his brain is active. He has a large store, and he is carried to it every day, and there, stretched upon a counter, he gives directions to his employés. Though comparatively young, his hair is blanched like the snow-drift, falling upon his shoulders, and he is hopelessly crippled for life. “He does not speak in very flattering terms of the calomel doctors,” said my informant. Neither do the thousands of diseased and mutilated soldiers, the victims to quackery while in the army.

Speaking Facts.—A little boy, ten years of age, and having a paralyzed right leg, may be seen occasionally among his more able-bodied companions, the newsboys, unsuccessfully striving to ‘hoe his row’ with his rougher and more vigorous fellows. The limb is wholly dead, so far as[Pg 167] its usefulness is concerned and it was caused by giving the little fellow overdoses of calomel, when he was an infant.

“Another victim to calomel lives in the city of Hartford, in the person of a young lady of sixteen, who would be handsome but for deformities of face and mouth, occasioned by calomel given to her when a little child. She cannot open her mouth, and her food is always gruel, etc., introduced through the teeth. But the doctors stick to calomel as the sheet anchor of their faith.”

Behold Washington, who had passed through the battles of his country unharmed, and who in his last illness had, in the brief space of twelve hours, ninety ounces of blood drawn from his veins, and in the same space of time taken sixty grains of calomel!

Who wonders that he should request his physician to allow him to “die in peace”?

Andrew Jackson was another victim to calomel, as well as to the lancet, as the following letter shows:—

Hermitage, October 24, 1844.

My dear Mr. Blair: On the 12th inst., I had a return of hemorrhage, and two days after, a chill. With a lancet to correct the first, and calomel to check the second, I am greatly debilitated.

Andrew Jackson.

Was not this double quackery? First, it was the Similia similibus curantur (like cures like), of the homeopathists, which the Academy of Medicine has termed quackery. Second, it was exhibiting calomel to the injury (debilitating) of the patient.

President Harrison was another victim.

Are not these historical facts? Nevertheless, it is treason to mention them. “And why should any truth be counted as treasonable?” the honest and intelligent reader is led to inquire. “For truth is mighty, and must prevail,” eventually.

[Pg 168]Yes, yes, truth will prevail. When bigotry and old-fogy notions are uprooted from the profession, and all educated and benevolent physicians strike hands and join fortunes to eradicate and discountenance all forms of quackery amongst themselves, they will then possess the power to suppress outside quackery. Far too many make a trade of the profession; and just so long as educated physicians countenance or practise any one form of quackery, so long will they be powerless to check the abominations of charlatans and impostors outside of the profession.

We have not introduced the foregoing facts in the interest of any persuasion. With the bickerings of the various schools of medicine we propose to have nothing to do, except to seize upon such truths as those otherwise useless quarrels are continually revealing. Opposition will not weaken a truth, nor strengthen a falsehood. You who are in the right need, therefore, have no fear as to final results.

It is hard to kick against the pricks of custom, and custom has perverted the word which is the text of this chapter, and it is now more commonly applied to the ignorant, boastful pretender to the science of medicine.

Now we will introduce a few facts obtained from without the profession.


The Country Quack.

In the town of P——, Conn., there resided two doctors. One, old Dr. B., a regular, and the other, Dr. S—h, an irregular. It was in the autumn, and a fever was prevailing at this time, of a very malignant character. From over-exertion and exposure Dr. B. was taken sick, and in a few days fever supervened. This news spread terror over the immediate community, and the old doctor becoming delirious, his wife and family soon partook of the terror. A neighboring physician was sent for, but being absent, he did not at once respond; and the invalid becoming, as they[Pg 169] feared, rapidly worse, Dr. S. was reluctantly called. He was known to be an ignoramus, formerly a peddler, a farmer, horse-jockey, a fifth-rate country lawyer, and, lastly, a doctor. Had Dr. B. retained his senses, he would have sooner died than have admitted his enemy, this “rooter,” into his house. He came, however, with great pomposity, examined the patient, whose delirium prevented resistance, and ordered an immediate application of the juice of poke-berries rubbed over the entire skin of the old doctor, as a febrifuge.

“But,” inquired the wife, timidly, “is not this an unusual prescription, Dr. S.?” The doctor replied that it was a new remedy, but very efficacious. “You see,” he added, with many a hem and haw, “it will out-herod the blush of the skin, put to shame the fever, which retires in disgust, and so relieves the patient.”

“And won’t he die, if we follow this strange prescription?” asked a friend, while the doctor was proceeding to deal out a large powder.

“No, no; ahem! You do the dyeing, to prevent the dying. Haw, haw!” roared the vulgar old wretch, convulsed by his own pun, and the anticipation of the ludicrous corpse that he expected to see within a few days.

There was no alternative. The prescription must be followed, and the children were sent to the woods to gather the ripe berries. The quack next proceeded to deal out a dose of lobelia and blood-root, which he left on the desk where Dr. B. prepared medicines when in health, giving directions for its administration, and in high glee took his departure. The inspissated juice of the highly-colored berries was applied over the face, arms, and body of the unconscious doctor, the remarkable appearance of whom we leave the reader to imagine.

By mistake, a large dose of camphorated dover’s powders which lay on the table was substituted for the lobelia of Dr. S., which with the warm liquid applied to the skin, checked[Pg 170] the fever, and, contrary to the hope and expectation of Dr. S., the following morning found his patient in a fine perspiration, and the neighboring physician arriving, he was soon placed in a condition of safety.

Notwithstanding Dr. S. told some friends of the joke,—for the worst have their friends, you know,—he was known to have prescribed for Dr. B., his sworn enemy; and as the patient was pronounced convalescent, S. received all the credit, and forthwith his services were in great demand. Day and night he rode, till, by the time Dr. B. got out, he was completely exhausted! He became alarmed lest he should take the fever. Such fellows are ever cowards when anything ails their precious selves. He actually became feverish with fear and excitement, and took his bed—and his emetic. He took either an overdose, or not enough, and for hours remained in the greatest distress. Finally, as a dernier resort, his wife sent for Dr. B.! Now came his turn to avenge the insult of the painting by poke-berries, which stain was yet scarcely removed from the skin of the old doctor.

“I’ll give him a dose; I’ll put my mark on him—one that milk and water, or soap, cannot remove. O, I’ll be avenged!” exclaimed Dr. B., as he mounted his gig, and drove to Dr. S.

“O doctor, doctor! I am in fearful distress. Can you help me? Will I die?” whined S., on beholding his opponent.

“No; not such good news. Those born to hang don’t die in their beds. But you are very sick, and must abide my directions.”

“Yes, yes. Thanks, doctor. This blamed lobelia is killing me, though.”

“Then take this.” And Dr. B. administered a half tea-spoonful of ipecac, to bring up the lobelia. So far was good.

“Now a basin of water and a sponge,” said Dr. B., which being procured, he seemed to examine for a moment very[Pg 171] curiously; then ordered the face, neck, arms, and hands of the patient bathed well with the fluid.

On the following morning Dr. B. was sent for, post haste, with the cheering message that “mortification had set in, and his patient was dying.”

Off posted the doctor, calling several neighbors, en route, who thronged the apartment of the invalid doctor in speechless astonishment.




“I’m dying, Dr. B.; O, I’m dying,” groaned S., rolling to and fro on his bed.

“No, you are not. I told you before, no such good news. Your fever is all gone. You are scared—that’s what’s the matter,” replied Dr. B.

“But look, just look at the color of my skin,—all mortifying,” said S.

“O, no; that is merely dyed with nitrate of silver. It’s much better than poke-berries—much better,” repeated Dr. B.

[Pg 172]The recovered patient leaped from his bed, and, with an oath, made straight for the doctor; but the bystanders, though convulsed with laughter, caught the enraged victim, while, amid the cheers and laughter of the crowd, Dr. B. made his escape, saying to himself,—

“The nitrate of silver I put in the basin worked like a charm.”

The story soon circulated, and Dr. S., being unable to remove the deep stain from his skin, and the curious rabble from his door, left for parts unknown. Dr. B., on revisiting his patients, who now rejoiced in his recovery, found that S. had not only dispensed lobelia and blood-root, but had bled and mercurialized several.


Remarkable Dropsy.

The writer was acquainted with a young physician who was unceremoniously discharged by the family of a beautiful young lady to whom he had been called to prescribe, in a country village, his offence being the discovery of the true source of the patient’s (?) indisposition, which fact he dared to intimate to the mother. “An older and more experienced physician” succeeded him, who reversed the diagnosis, and pronounced it “a clear case of dropsy,” and the young M. D. went into disrepute. During the entire winter the old doctor made daily visits to his patient. Daily had the old ladies of the neighborhood adjusted their “specs,” smoothed down their aprons, and, watching the doctor’s return, run out to the gate to inquire after the health of the lady, the belle of the town.

“O, she’s convalescent,” was his usual reply, with due professional dignity; and thus the matter stood till a crisis came.




There was a ball in the village one night. About eleven o’clock a messenger appeared in the room, who hastily summoned a certain young gentleman, a scion of one of the[Pg 173] “first families” in town. At the same time the minister was called, and the young man, standing by the bed, holding the invalid lady by the right hand, while on his left arm he supported a beautiful babe but an hour old, was married to the “convalescent” patient. The old doctor had run a beautiful “bill,” but it was his last in that village.


A Country Consultation.

The difficulty of obtaining competent counsel in the country can only be fully comprehended by the intelligent physician who has had experience therein.

From Dr. Richmond’s “Scenes in Western Practice,” I have selected the following lamentable incidents, which I have abbreviated as much as is consistent with the facts, related by the doctor, who in this case was called to a wealthy and influential family, two of whom, wife and child, were prostrated by epidemic dysentery.

“As my credit was at stake, an old and very grave man[Pg 174] was, at my suggestion, added to the consultation, to guard our reputation from the usual visitation of gossiping slander that always follows a fatal result in the country. He examined the child, and gave his opinion that the symptoms resembled those of ipecac!... But death was ahead of the doctors, and the little sufferer passed quickly away to a better world.

“Another child had died in the vicinity, and the neighbors decided on a change of doctors for the lady. By my consent the inventor of the ‘Chingvang Pill’ was called, as I assured my friend his wife would now recover without either of us!

“He came, and readily detected the fact that he was in luck. His patient and fees were both safe, and I was floored.

“‘Of course, Dr. R., you will call when convenient,’ was a polite way of ‘letting me down easily,’ and I did call.

“Everything went on swimmingly for two days, when suddenly the scale turned; two other children were taken vomiting bile and blood. The doctor was in trouble, and on my friendly call his eye caught mine, and spoke plainly, ‘My credit, too, is gone,—the children will both die.’

“The children grew rapidly worse; the council of the neighborhood decided to call further aid. Another regular was called, and, being one of the heroes, he advised (it is solemn truth, dear reader) one hundred grains of calomel at a dose! His reason was, that he had given it to a child, and the patient recovered. His medical brother thought it a little too steep, and they compromised the matter by giving fifty grains! Copious quantities of fresh blood followed the operation, and the little victim of disease and quackery slipped from his suffering into the peaceful and quiet grave!

“One patient remained, and it was decided to call further counsel.

“A simple but shrewd old quack was curing cancers in the neighborhood, who sent word to the afflicted family that he ‘could cure the remaining child by cleansing the bowels[Pg 175] with pills of butternut bark, aloes, camphor, and Cayenne pepper;’ he would feed the little fellow on twist-root tea that would at once stop the discharges. Strange as it may seem, the wily old fool was called into the august presence of three M. D.’s, and a score of other counsellors. He gave his pills; fresh blood followed the raking over the inflamed and sensitive membrane; the child screamed with torture, and was only relieved from its horrible agony by enemas of morphine. The celebrated ‘twist-root’ (an Indian remedy, whose virtues could not be appreciated by the educated physician) followed, and death closed the scene.

“The old cancer-killer escaped by saying the morphine given in his absence killed the child.”




The following brief consultation occurred in Fulton, N. Y., recently:—

[Pg 176]Two physicians were called, of opposite schools. After shaking hands over the sick man’s bed, one said to the other,—

“I believe you are an —’opathist.”

“Yes, I am; and you are a —’pathist; are you not?”

“Yes; and I can’t break over the rules of my society by aiding or counselling with you —— for the sake of one patient. Good day!”

“Sir, I mistook you for a Christian, not a barbarian! Good day!”


A Jolly Trio of Doctors.

Before entering upon an exposition of the viler and more reprehensible sort of quacks,—the city charlatans and impostors,—I must relate a diverting scene, also from a country consultation that occurred in New York State some years since, from the perusal of which, if the reader cannot deduce a “moral,” he may derive some amusement.

Mr. H. was an invalid; he was the worst kind of an invalid—a hypochondriac. The visiting physician had made a pretty good thing of it, the neighbors affirmed, for “H. was in easy circumstances.” Finally he took to his bed, and declared he was about to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Two eminent physicians were summoned from a distance to consult with the attending physician. They arrived by rail, examined the patient, looked wise, and the learned trio withdrew to consult upon so “complicated and important a case.” A tea-table had been set in an adjoining room, and to the abundance of eatables wherewith to refresh the distinguished professionals who were there to enter upon an “arbitrament of life or death,” were added sundry bottles yet uncorked.

A little son and daughter of Mr. H. were amusing themselves, meantime, by a game at “hide-and-seek,” and the former, having “played out” all the legitimate hiding-places, bethought himself of the top of a high secretary in the [Pg 177]“banqueting-room.” Action followed thought, and, climbing upon a chair-back, he gained the dusty elevation, where he quietly seated himself just as the three wise Æsculapians entered the apartment. His only safety from discovery was to keep quiet.

Corks were drawn, supper was discussed, and conversation flowed merrily along. The weather, the news of the day, and the political crisis were discoursed, and the little fellow perched high on the secretary wondered when and what they would decide on his father’s case. Nearly an hour had passed, the doctors were merry, and the boy was tired; but still the little urchin kept his position.

“Well, Dr. A., how is practice here, in general?” inquired one of the counsel.

“Dull; distressingly healthy. Why, if there don’t come a windfall in shape of an epidemic this fall, I shall fall short for provender for my horse and bread for my family. How is it with you?”

“O, quite the reverse from you. I have alive twenty daily patients now.”

“Very sick, any of them?” asked the local physician.

“No, no,—a little more wine, doctor,—some old women, whom any smart man can make think they are sick; some stout men, whom medicine will keep as patients when once under the weather; and silly girls, whom flattery will always bring again,—ha! ha!” and so saying he gulped down the wine.

“Why, there goes nine o’clock.”

“What, so late!” exclaimed one counsellor, looking at his gold repeater.

“We must go or we’ll miss the return train,” remarked the other; “the doctor here will manage the patient H., who’s only got the hypo badly,” he added.

“Is that a bust of Pallas he has over his secretary yonder?” asked the first, discovering the boy for the first time.

“I’m afraid Dr. —— has got a little muddled over this [Pg 178]excellent ‘Old Port,’ that he can’t see clearly. Why, that’s a bust of Cupid.”

“Well,” exclaimed the local physician, “I have been here a hundred times, and never before observed that statue; but,” eying the statue fixedly, he continued, “it looks neither like Pallas nor Cupid, but rather favors H., and I guess it is a cast he has had recently made of himself.”

Through all this comment and inspection the boy sat as mute as a post; but the moment the door closed on the retiring doctors, he clambered down and ran into the sick room.




The old doctor had slipped the customary fee into the hands of his brethren as he bade them good night, and entered the room of his patient. The latter instantly inquired as to the result of the consultation. The doctor entered into an elaborate account of the “diagnosis” and “prognosis” of the case, which was suddenly brought to a close by the little boy, who, climbing into a chair on the opposite side of the bed, asked his father what a “hypo” was.

[Pg 179]“You must ask the doctor, my son,” replied the father in a feeble voice.

“Hypo,” said the unsuspecting doctor, “is an imaginary disease,—the hypochondria, vapors, spleen; ha, ha, ha!”

“Well, papa, that’s what the doctors said you’ve got, ’cause I was on top of the book-case an’ heard all they said, an’ that’s all.”

The doctor looked blank. H. arose in his bed, trembling with rage.

“By the heavens above us, I do believe you, my son; and this fellow, this quack, has never had the manliness to tell me so;” and leaping to the floor in his brief single garment, he caught the dumb and astonished “M. D.” by the coat collar and another convenient portion of his wardrobe, and running him to the open door, through the hall, he pitched him out into the midnight darkness, saying, “There! I have demonstrated the truth of the assertion by pitching the doctor out of doors.” H. recovered his health. The doctor recovered damages for assault and battery.




[Pg 180]



“Every absurdity has a chance to defend itself, for error is always talkative.”—Goldsmith.



The City Charlatan.

A charlatan is necessarily an impostor. He is “one who prates much in his own favor, and makes unwarrantable pretensions to skill.” He is “one who imposes on others; a person who assumes a character for the sole purpose of deception.”

Originally the charlatan was one who circulated about the country, making false pretensions to extraordinary ability and miraculous cures; but he is now located in the larger cities, and is the most dangerous and insinuating of all medical impostors. You will find his name in the cheapest daily papers.

Name, did I say? No, never.

Of all the charlatans advertising in the papers of this city there is but one who has not advertised under an assumed name. This is prima facie evidence of imposition. Take up the daily paper,—the cheapest print is the one that the[Pg 181] rabble patronize, a curse to any city,—and run your eye over the “Medical Column.” Of the scores of this class advertising therein none dare publish his real name. There is one impudent fellow, who, while he assumes respectability, and under his true name, has an up-town office, and obtains something bordering on an honorable practice, runs the vilest sort of business, under an assumed name, on a public thoroughfare down town.

These fellows usually advertise, “Advice Free.” This is not on the modest principle, that, having no brains, they are scrupulous in not charging for what they cannot give, however; but this is to get the unsuspecting into their dens, for they are shrewd enough to perceive that whatever is “free” the rabble will run after.




When once the victim is within the web, flattering, intimidations, and extravagant promises, one or all, generally will accomplish their aim. As they never expect to see a special victim again, they squeeze the last dollar from the unfortunate wretch, giving therefor nothing—worse than nothing! I sent a pretended patient to one of these charlatans not long since, and, with crocodile tears in his eyes, he related his[Pg 182] case to the soi-disant doctor, who with great sympathy heard his case, and assured him it was “heart-rending, and, though very dangerous, he could cure him;” but the knave compelled the patient (!) to turn his pockets inside out to assure him they contained but the proffered dollar. A small vial of diluted spirits nitre was the prescription, for which the doctor assured the patient he usually received twenty to forty dollars!

I have visited several of these places in disguise, including those of female doctors, and those advertising as “midwives,” every one of whom agreed to perform a criminal operation upon the mythical lady for whom I was pretending to intercede. Their prices ranged from five to two hundred dollars.

The following painfully ludicrous scene I copy from manuscript notes which I made some years ago, respecting a visit to one of these impostors. I vouch for its truthfulness.

“I next bought a penny paper of a loud-mouthed urchin on the street corner, and, reading it that evening, the words ‘Medical Notice’ attracted my attention. It was all news to me, and I resolved to visit this ‘very celebrated’ doctor on the following day, ‘advice free.’

“Accordingly I repaired to his office, as designated in the advertisement. There were several doors wonderfully near each other, about which were several doctors’ signs conspicuously displayed; and, since I had heard that ‘two of a trade seldom agree,’ I thought it remarkable that three or four of a profession should here be huddled together.

“‘Step in the Entry and Ring the Bell,’ I read on a sign, in big yellow letters. I did so, when a big burly Irishman answered the summons.

“‘An’ who’ll yeze like to see, sure?’ he inquired, with a broad grin.

“‘Dr. A.,’ I replied, eying this Cerberus with awakening suspicion.

“‘He’s just in, sure. Come, follow me.’

[Pg 183]“He led the way across a small room, and through a darkened hall, around which I cast a suspicious glance, noticing, among other things unusual, that the partitions did not reach the ceiling. Thence we entered another room, which, from the roundabout way we had approached, I thought must be opposite the outer door of Dr. B.’s or Dr. C.’s office.

“Here Pat left me, saying, ‘The ixcillint doctor will be to see yeze ferninst he gits through wid the gintleman who was before your honor.’




“I took a look about the room. The partitions on two sides were temporary. On one side of the apartment stood an old mahogany secretary. Through the dingy glass doors I took a peep. The shelves contained several volumes of ‘Patent Office Reports,’ odd numbers of an old London magazine, and such like useless works. On the walls were a few soiled cheap anatomical plates, such as you will see in ‘galleries’[Pg 184] or ‘museums’ fitted up by quack doctors, to intimidate the beholder. I could look no farther, as the door opened, and a man entered, who, looking nervously around, at once asked my business.

“‘Are you Dr. A.?’ I asked.

“‘I am. Please be seated. You are sick—very sick,’ he said hurriedly, and in a manner intended to frighten me.

“Five minutes’ conversation satisfied us both—him that I had no money, and me that he had no skill. After vainly endeavoring to extort from me my present address, he unceremoniously showed me out.

“As I closed the door I looked to the name and number, and, as I had anticipated, found myself at Dr. B.’s entrance.

“Turning up my coat collar, and tying a large colored silk handkerchief over the lower part of my face, I knocked at the third door, Dr C.’s.

“The same Irishman thrust out his uncombed head and unwashed face; the same words in the same vernacular language followed.

“‘I wish to see Dr. C.,’ I replied, changing my voice slightly.

“‘He’s in, jist. It never rains but it pours. Himself it is that has a bully crowd of patients the day; but coome in.’

“He did not recognize me—that was certain; so I followed, and was led through a labyrinth of rooms and halls, as before, and ushered into a small room, where the polite and loquacious Pat offered me a chair, and giving the right earlock a pull and his left foot a slip back, he said, with his broadest grin and most murderous English,—

“‘I’ll be shpaking the doctor to come to yeze at once intirely.’

“‘But he has others with whom he is engaged, you said but a moment ago.’

“‘Ah, yeze niver mind. Theyze ben’t gintlemen like yerself, if yeze do come disguised;’ and with a ‘whist’ he tip-toed across the room, applied his ear to the keyhole of the door a moment, and returned in the same manner.

[Pg 185]“‘It’s all right; now I’ll go for the doctor;’ but still he lingered.

“‘Well, why the d——l don’t you go?’ I said, impatiently.

“‘Ah, gintlemen always come disguised to see Dr. A.—no—Dr. B., I mean.’

“‘’Tis Dr. C. I asked for,’ I interrupted.

“‘Yis, yis,’ he replied, collecting his muddled senses. ‘Yis, sure, you did, an’ gintlemen always swear—two signs yeze a gintleman. Could yeze spare a quarter for a poor divil? By the howly mither, I git narry a cint, bating what sich gintlemen as yeze gives me. I have a big family to ate at home. There’s Bridget’ (counting his fingers by the way of a reminder), ‘she’s sick with the baby; then there’s the twins,—two of thim, as I’m a sinner,—and little lame Mike, what’s got the rackabites, the doctor says—’

“‘Got the what?’ I interrupted.

“‘The rackabites, or some sich dumbed disease,’ he replied, scratching his head.

“‘O, you mean rickets. But how old are the twins, and Mike, and the baby?’

“‘Will, let me see. The baby is tin days, and not christened yit, for we’ve not got the money for Father Prince, and there’s Mike is siven, and Mary is four, and Bridget junior is five.’

“‘And the twins?’ I asked, not a little amused.

“‘Yis, them’s Mary and Bridget junior,—four and five.’

“I interrupted him by a laugh, gave him the desired quarter, and told him to hasten the doctor, which request he proceeded to execute.

“On the heels of retiring Pat the door opened, and the same doctor I had before seen entered.

“‘I want to consult Dr. C.,’ I drawled out.

“‘I am Dr. C.,’ he replied, measuring me from head to foot sharply.

“Fearing he would penetrate my disguise, I hastened my[Pg 186] errand. ‘Having an ulcerated and painful tooth I wish removed, or—’

“‘This ain’t a dentist’s office; but if you have any peculiar disease, I am the physician of all others to relieve you.’

“I being sure now of my man, that this same villain was running three offices under as many different aliases, my next object was to get safely out of his den.

“‘I have no need of any such services as you intimate. ’Tis only the tooth—’

“Here he interrupted me by an impatient gesture, intimating that only a descendant of the monosyllable animal once chastised by one Balaam would have entered his office to have a tooth drawn. Admitting the truth of his assertion, and offering my humblest apology, I hurriedly withdrew from this triplet doctor.

“Safely away, I reflected as follows: Here, now, is this scoundrel, by the assistance of an equally ignorant Irishman, conducting at least three offices on a public thoroughfare, under as many assumed names.

“‘Why, the fellow is a perfect chameleon!’ I exclaimed, walking away. ‘He changes his name to suit the applicants to the various rooms. You want Dr. A.,—he is that individual. You desire to see Dr. B.,—when, presto! he is at once the identical man. And so it goes, while his amiable assistant seems to be making a nice little thing of it on his own account. Why all these intricate passages? and why was I each time taken around through them, and out through a different door from that which I entered? Did a legitimate business require such mazy windings as I had just passed through? Did Dr. A., B., or C., or whatever his name might be, rob his patients in one place and thrust them out at another, that they might not be able to testify where and by whom they had been victimized? Was not the newspaper proprietor who advertised these several offices a particeps criminis in the transaction? And with these facts and[Pg 187] suggestions I leave the fellow, who by no means is a solitary example of this sort of fraud.’”

On another street in this city is another branch from the Upas tree. I do not wish to advertise for him, hence omit his names, which are legion. Two of them begin with the letter D. The true name of this impostor commences with an M. He is old enough to be better. I know of patients who have been fleeced by him without receiving the least benefit, when the knowledge necessary to prescribe for their recovery, or of so simple a case, might be possessed by even the office boy.

You go to his first office and inquire for the first alias. The usher, a boy sometimes, takes you in, and, slipping out the back door, he calls the old doctor from the next office. They are not connected. Through a glass door he takes a survey of you, to assure himself that you have not been victimized by him already under his other aliases.

If he so recognizes you, he summons a convenient “assistant” to personate the doctor, and thus you are robbed a second time.


History of a Knave.

The following is a brief and true history of one of the vilest charlatans and impostors now practising in Boston. He has amassed a fortune within a few years by the most barefaced villanies ever resorted to by man. He is one of the most abominable charlatans, who, for the almighty dollar, would willingly sacrifice the lives of his unfortunate victims, who, by glowing newspaper statements and seductive promises, have been drawn into his murderous den. By the side of such unprincipled villains, the highwaymen, the Dick Turpins, with their “Stand and deliver!” or “Your money or your life!” are angels of mercy, for the former rob you of your last dollar, and either endanger your life by giving you useless drugs that check not the disease, or hasten your[Pg 188] demise by poisonous compounds given at random, the virulent properties of which the vampires know but little and care less.

Their boast that their remedies are “purely vegetable,” “hence uninjurious”, is as false as their pretensions to skill, and is counted for nothing when we know that vegetable poisons are more numerous, and often more rapid and violent in their action, than minerals. Both calomel and other minerals are often given by these charlatans. I say given, for few of them know enough to write a legible prescription, much less to write the voluminous works which they put forth on “manhood,” “physiology of woman,” etc., which are but so many advertisements for their vile trade and criminal practices, and are intended to alarm and corrupt the young and unwary into whose hands they may unfortunately fall.

This fellow, whom I am now to describe, who sometimes prefixes “professor” to his name, was born in the State of New Hampshire, and when a young man came to this city to seek his fortune. After various ups and downs, he became boot-black, porter, and general lackey in the Pearl Street House, then in full blast. He was said to be a youth of rather prepossessing, though insinuating address, and being constantly on the alert for odd pennies and “dimes,” succeeded in keeping himself in pocket-money without committing theft, or otherwise compromising his liberty. But the odd change, and his meagre salary, did not long remain in pocket, for the courtesans, who are ever on the alert for unsophisticated youth who throng to the cities, managed to obtain the lion’s share from this embryo doctor, whose future greatness he himself never half suspected. Disease, the usual result of intercourse with such creatures, was the consequent inheritance of this young man.

“What, in the name of Heaven, shall I now do?” he asked himself, in his distress and despair. “Money I have none. O God! what shall I do?”

[Pg 189]“Drown yourself,” replied the tempter.

Such fellows seldom drown. Females, their victims, drown; but who ever heard of a natural-born villain committing suicide, unless to escape the threatening halter?

No, he did not drown, though it had been better for humanity if he had. He went to an old advertising charlatan, who then kept an office in a lower street of this city, a mercenary old vampire, named Stevens. Into the august presence of the charlatan young M. entered, and, trembling and weeping, told his history.




“Have you got any money, young man?” growled the old doctor, wheeling around, and for the first time condescending to notice the poor wretch.

“No,” he sobbed in a pitiful voice.

“Then what do you come here for, sir?” roared the [Pg 190]doctor, whose pity was a thing of the past. His soul was impenetrable to the appeal of suffering as the hide of the rhinoceros to a leaden bullet.

The young man, fortunately, did not know this fact, and persevered.

“I thought I might work for you to pay for treatment. O, I’ll do anything—sweep your office, wash up the floors and bottles, black your boots, do anything and everything, if you’ll only cure me. O, do! Say you will, sir!” and the young man writhed in agony of suspense.

“Humph!” grunted the old doctor, contemplatingly.

Doubtless he was considering the advantages which might accrue from accepting the proposition of this earnest applicant, for, after eying him sharply, and beating the devil’s tattoo for a few moments upon his table, the doctor condescended to “look into his case,” and finally to treat the young man’s disease upon the proposed terms.

M. began his apprenticeship by sweeping the office, and the old doctor held him to the very letter of the agreement, keeping him at the most menial service,—boot-blacking, bottle-washing, door-tending, etc.,—protracting his disease as he found the young man useful, till the old knave dared no longer delay the cure, for thereby the victim might go elsewhere for help. When cured, M. engaged to continue work for the small compensation that the doctor offered, especially since he and the old man had begun to understand each other pretty well, and each was equally unscrupulous as to the sponging of the unfortunate victims who fell into their hands.

When the doctor was observed to prescribe from any particular bottle, M. took a mental memorandum thereof till such time as he could take a look at the label, thereby learning the prescription for such disease; and the result was a decision that if this was the science of healing, “it didn’t take much of a man to be a”—doctor.

[Pg 191]When the old doctor was absent, M. would prescribe on his own account, charge an extra dollar or two as perquisites, and deposit the balance in the doctor’s till.

In course of time, by this process of extortion, solicitations, and the increasing perquisites, M. was enabled to set up doctoring on his own account. The old doctor died, and M. had it all his own way.

The young self-styled doctor saw no particular need of making effort to acquire medical knowledge, but a diploma to hang upon his office walls, with the few disgusting anatomical plates (appropriated from Dr. S.), which were admirably adapted to intimidate his simple-minded dupes,—a diploma from some medical society would give character to the “institution,” and such he would obtain.

Being cited to court as defendant in a certain case, this soi-disant “M. D.” was compelled to retract a former statement that he had attended medical lectures in Pennsylvania College, where he graduated with honors, and come down to the truthful statement, for once in his life, and swear that he had obtained his diploma by purchase.

His present rooms—house and office—are located in the heart of the city, and are not exceeded for convenience and neatness by those of the respectable practitioner. Having amassed a great fortune out of the credulity, misfortunes, and passions of the unfortunate, he has settled down to the plane of the more respectable advertising doctors, and the terrifying plates no longer cover the walls of the best reception-room; but a few valuable pictures and the Philadelphia diploma are conspicuously displayed above the elegant furniture and valuable articles of virtu.

The same extortions and reprehensible practices are still resorted to in order to keep up this “institution.” His earlier history is gathered from his own statements, by piecemeal, by a confidential “student,” the latter portion by personal investigation of the writer.

[Pg 192]Respecting the matter of purchasing diplomas, I will state that I have seen a “Regular Medical Diploma” advertised in the New York Herald for one hundred dollars. The name originally written therein is extracted by oxalic acid, or other chemicals. I knew a physician who parted with his Latin diploma for fifty dollars.

I here warn the youth, and the public in general, against those advertised “institutes,” though the name may be selected from that of some benevolent individual,—to give it a look of a benevolent character,—even though it be a “Nightengale,” or a “Peabody,” or a “St. Mary,” and managed, ostensibly, under the sanction of the church or state—beware of it. Without, it is the whited sepulchre, within, the blood, flesh, and bones of dead men, women, and children.

Some years since there was found, after the flight of one Dr. Jaques (?), in a vault in the city of Boston, the bones of some half score infants. The murderous charlatan escaped the halter he so richly deserved, and was practising in a New England village not above six years since.

Another impostor, who has been extensively advertised in this city under an assumed name—selected to correspond with the familiar name of a celebrated New York (also a late Boston) physician and surgeon—who not only cheekily claims to be an “M. D.,” but assumes the titles of F. R. S., etc., was but a short time before a dry goods seller on Hanover Street. He never read a standard medical work in his life. Although the villain has gone to parts unknown to the writer, the concern he recently represented as “consulting physician” is in full blast, and the same name and titles are blazoned forth daily in the public prints.

Men get rich in these “institutes,” take in an “assistant” for a few weeks, then sell out to the novus homo, and the thing goes on under the old name until the new man gains strength and confidence sufficient to carry it along under his own or his assumed title.

 [Pg 193]

Female Harpies.

Under the name of “female physician,” “midwife,” etc., the most illicit and nefarious atrocities are daily practised by the numerous harpies who infest all our principal cities. The mythological harpies were represented as having the faces of women, heartless, with filthy bodies, and claws sharp and strong for fingers, which, once fastened upon human flesh, never relaxed till the last drop of life’s blood was wrung from their unfortunate victim.

Virgil thus expressively described them in the third book of the Æneid:—

“When from the mountain-tops, with hideous cry
And clattering wings, the filthy harpies fly;
Monsters more fierce offending Heaven ne’er sent
From hell’s abyss for human punishment;
With virgin faces, but with —— obscene,
With claws for hands, and looks forever lean!”

I will describe but one of the modern harpies of Boston, appealing to the reader if our text above is too severe.

More than forty years ago, a young, fair, and promising girl came to this city from the White Mountains of New Hampshire. From her maiden home, near Meredith Village, from under the humble roof of Christian parents, she wandered into the haunts of vice and the abodes of wretchedness and disease in the lower part of Boston.

Her maiden name was Elizabeth Leach. You will find her name in the City Directory (1871) “Madam Ester, midwife.”

We have not space to write out her whole history, nor inclination to spread before the refined reader the first years of the gay life of this attractive damsel, the seductive and sinful debaucheries of the fascinating, unprincipled woman, nor the more repulsive declination of the diseased and malevolent bawd!

[Pg 194]The writer has seen a picture of her home in New Hampshire, a daguerreotype of her in her virginity, and a painting, taken from her sittings, in middle life. In stature, she is tall and stout; in manner, coarse and repulsive. If ever I saw a woman carrying, stamped in every lineament of her countenance, a hard, heartless, soulless, murderous expression, that woman is Madam Ester. Neither the tears, the heart-anguishes, nor the life’s blood of the fatherless infant, the husbandless mother, the orphaned or friendless maiden, could draw a sympathizing look or expression from the hardened features of that wretched woman. She is the John Allen of Boston.

For years she has carried on, under the cloak of a “midwife,” the most cruel and reprehensible occupation which ever disgraced an outraged community. By extortionate prices she has gained no inconsiderable wealth, and her house, though located in a narrow, darkened alley, or court, is fitted up with an elegance equalling that of some of our best and wealthiest merchants. From parlor to attic, it is splendidly furnished.

She assured me she hated mankind with inexpressible hatred; that man had been her ruin, the instrument of her disease, and would eventually be the cause of her death. She cursed both man and her Maker!

Last spring there appeared an advertisement in a city paper of a young girl who was lost, or abducted from the home of her parents, in which the young lady was described as being but sixteen to seventeen years of age, of light complexion, blue eyes, of but medium height, named Mary ——; and as she took no clothes but those she had on, never before went from home without her parents’ consent, and had no trouble at home, her absence could not be accounted for. Any information respecting her would be gratefully received by her distressed parents.

She was all this time at the home of Madam Ester.

[Pg 195]The young man who completed her ruin, like the contemptible cur he was, deserted her in her distress, leaving her in the hands of the miserable wretch above described. The girl had one hundred and twenty dollars. A part of it was her own money; some she borrowed, having some influential friends, and the balance her father gave her, ostensibly for the purchase of clothing.

The old vampire appropriated every cent of the sum, and in fourteen days turned the weak and wretched girl into the street, without sufficient money to pay her coach fare to her father’s house. A young girl then in the employ of the unfeeling old wretch gave her five dollars, and she informed her kind benefactress that she should go home and say that she had been at service in a family on Beacon Street, but being sick, could earn no greater wages than the sum then in her possession. “The pale and sickly countenance of the poor girl, after the abuse and torture she had undergone,” said my informant, “certainly would seem to corroborate her story.”

Since the above was written the wicked old wretch has died—died a natural death, sitting in her chair!

On the last day of July, 1871, she sent a girl, a well-dressed and very lady-like appearing young woman, to my office, to know if I could be at liberty to give her a consultation that afternoon. She sent no address; merely a “woman with a cancer of the breast.” She came. She introduced her business, not her name. I pronounced her case hopeless, advised her to “close up her worldly affairs, and make her peace with God and mankind, as she could live but a short time.” This was given the more plainly, since she “demanded to know the worst,” and because of her bold attempt to browbeat me into treating her hopeless case. The cancer was immense, had been cut once by Dr. ——, of this city. Her attendant told me that the old woman never ceased to berate me for my truthful prognosis, and that from[Pg 196] that time she gave up all hope of recovery, and soon closed her nefarious practice. I have since gathered all the information respecting her that was possible. I knew at sight that I had a remarkable woman to deal with, and, agreeably to her invitation, I took another physician, a graduate of Harvard College, and went to her house, ostensibly to consult over her case....

A woman who has known madam for many years told me that the old woman was familiar with chemicals, and by the use of acids and alkalies could completely destroy the flesh and bones of infants. She had never seen her do it, but had seen the chemicals, and referred me to persons who had seen the dead body of a female brought out from the house at midnight, and taken away in a wagon. She said she practised great cruelty upon the unfortunate victims who had been placed under her hands, and that their cries had often been heard by the neighbors living in the court.

She said that madam claimed to have been the wife of a policeman who was killed at Fort Hill, and that she was also since married to a Captain ——. The latter was untrue. Madam told me she once thought she was married, but it was a deception on her—a mock marriage. She possessed great quantities of magnificent clothing,—rich dresses of silk, satin, velvet, etc.,—and a beautiful wedding trousseau, which, but a short time before her death, she caused to be brought out and displayed before her.

“O, take them away; I never shall wear them,” she said. And she never did.

There is another female physician now residing in this city, who I know has accumulated a considerable property as midwife; but if report, and assertions of victims, are true, she has gained it by threats and extortions. She is now out of practice, or nearly. Her modus operandi was to take the unfortunate female, treat her very tenderly, get hold of her secret, learn the gentleman’s name, business, and wealth,[Pg 197] and then—especially if he was a family man before—make him “come down,” through fear of exposure. Men have “come down” with thousands, little by little, till they were ruined pecuniarily under this fearful blackmailing. I doubt if money could hire her to perform a criminal operation. She can make more money by keeping the unfortunate girl, and blackmailing the seducer, or any other individual who can be scared into the trap, provided the guilty one has no money. “Blessed be nothing,” said the Arab.

These people carry on their trade very quietly. Their very next door neighbors may know nothing of the unlawful acts committed right under their noses. It is for the interest of all concerned to keep everything quiet. Their customers, and even their victims, come and go after nightfall.

There is still another class, mostly males, practising in this city, who, under fair pretences and great promises, get the patients’ money, and give them no equivalent therefor. Beyond the robbery,—for that is what it is; no more nor less,—and the protracting of a disease (or giving nature more time, as the case may be),—they do the applicant no injury. They receive a fee, calculating it to a nicety, according to the depth of your pocket, give some simple mixture, and bow you out.

Many an honest patient, seeing their high-flown advertisements in the dailies, weeklies, even religious (!) papers, from month to month, is induced to visit these impostors. Their offices may be in a less public street, in a private residence, and have every outward appearance of respectability.

There is a class of male practitioners, not unusually having a Latin diploma, who never appear in the prints. They are the “Nurse Gibbon” class, who employ one or more females to drum patients for them. The following is a truthful statement respecting a visit to one in 1850:—

“On my arrival on the steamer Penobscot at Boston, the lady met me, and, according to arrangement, took me to see[Pg 198] ‘her physician.’ His office was on Chambers Street, left side, a few doors from Cambridge Street, Boston. The doctor was an elderly, pompous individual, who wore gold spectacles, an immense fob chain, and chewed Burgundy pitch. Let this suffice for his description. Poor man! for if his own theology is true, he has gone where Burgundy pitch will be very likely to melt. Excuse this passing tribute to his memory, my dear reader.

“Notwithstanding my friend’s lavish praise of her doctor, the first sight of him failed to inspire me with confidence. I was introduced, and the doctor swelled up with his own importance, and said, impressively,—

“Those physicians—amiable men, no doubt—who have treated your case-ah have been all wrong in their diagnosis-ah.” This was his prelude, as he counted my pulse by a large gold watch, which he held conspicuously before me.

“Your kind friend and benefactress has saved your life-ah, by conducting you to me before too late-ah.” He stopped to watch the effect of this bid for a high fee before proceeding.

“Ah, sir, had you but come to me first-ah, you would now be rejoicing in perfect health-ah; whereas you have narrowly escaped death and eternal torments-ah.”

He again took breath, looking very solemn.

“But, sir, I never heard of you before this lady wrote to me,” I said.

“True-ah. I do not advertise myself. The veriest quack may advertise-ah. Your case is very dangerous. Hepatitis, cum nephritis-ah,” he soliloquized, shaking his head very wisely, while my friend nodded, as if to say, “There! I told you so. He knows all about it.”

“Yes, very dangerous-ah. But take my medicines; my pills—hepatica-lobus, and my neuropathicum-ah, and they will restore you to health and happiness-ah, in a few weeks-ah;” and he rubbed his palms complacently, as if in anticipation of a good fat fee for his prescription.

[Pg 199]“Will they cure this?” I asked, turning my head, and placing a finger upon a tumor on the right hand side of my neck.

“O-ah, let me see.” And so saying, he took a brief survey of the protuberance, and coolly remarked that it was of no material importance. As that was, to my mind, of great consequence, I was dumbfounded by his indifference to its importance.

Selecting a box of pills, and a vial of transparent liquid, the doctor presented them to me with a flourish, saying, in his blandest manner,—

“All there; directions inside-ah; ten dollars-ah.”

“What!” And I arose in astonishment, gazing alternately at the doctor and my friend, but could not utter another word. I was but a country greenhorn, you know, and quite unused to city prices.

My friend took the doctor aside, when, after a moment’s conversation between them, he returned, and said that “in consideration of the recommendation of the lady, he would take but five dollars-ah.”

I paid the bill, and, quite disgusted, took my departure.

That evening I carried the medicines to a druggist, requesting him to inform me what they were. After examining them, he replied,—

“The liquid is simply sweet spirits of nitre, diluted,” looking over his glasses at me suspiciously, I thought. “These, I should say, are blue pills, a mild preparation of mercury,” returning me the pills. A second druggist, to whom I applied, told me the same, and, knowing they were not what I required for a scrofulous tumor, I threw them into the gutter. Ah!




[Pg 200]



“I find, Dick, that you are in the habit of taking my best jokes, and passing them off as your own. Do you call that the conduct of a gentleman?”

“To be sure, Tom. Why, a true gentleman will always take a joke from a friend.”



“There would be no difficulty in multiplying anecdotes attributed to Abernethy (or other celebrated physicians) ad libitum, but there are three objections to such a course. First, there are many told of him which never happened; others, which may possibly have occurred, you find it impossible to authenticate; and lastly, there is a class which, if they happened to Dr. Abernethy, certainly happened to others before he was born. In fact, when a man once gets a reputation of doing or saying odd things, every story in which the chief person is unknown or unremembered, is given to the next man whose reputation for such is remarkable.”—Memoirs of Dr. Abernethy, by George Macilwain, F. R. C. S., etc., etc.

Notwithstanding the great number of authentic anecdotes of physicians which might be collected together, Mr. Campbell, the experienced antiquarian bookseller, of Boston,[Pg 201] assures me there is no such book in print. I have been many years collecting such, and for this chapter I have selected therefrom those most chaste, amusing, instructive, and authentic.

The following original anecdote of the great English surgeon I obtained verbally from Mr. Sladden, of Chicago:—

“My grandmother once visited Dr. Abernethy, with her eldest son, my uncle, living in London, to consult the great physician respecting an inveterate humor of the scalp, with which the child was afflicted.

“There were a great many patients in waiting, and when it came my grandmother’s turn, she walked up to the great man, and removing the boy’s cap, presented the case for his inspection in silence. He took a quick glance at the humory head, turned to the old lady, and said,—

“‘Madam, the best thing I can recommend for that disease is a plenty of warm water and soap. And, by the way, if that don’t remove it, the next best thing is to apply freely soap and warm water. Five guineas, if you please, ma’am.’

“As my grandmother was the embodiment of neatness, she never forgave the doctor for this broad intimation of the questionableness of her neatness.”

Dr. Stowe told the following story of Dr. Abernethy and a live Irishman:—

“It occurred at Bath. A crowd of pupils, myself one of them, were following Mr. Abernethy through the crowded wards of the hospital, when the apparition of a poor Irishman, with the scantiest shirt I ever saw, jumped from a bed, and literally throwing himself on his knees at the doctor’s feet, presented itself. We were startled for a moment, but the poor fellow, with all his country’s eloquence, poured out such a torrent of praise, prayers, and blessings, and illustrated it with such ludicrous pantomimic displays of his leg, all splintered and bandaged, that we were not long left in doubt.

[Pg 202]“‘That’s the leg, your hon-nor. Glory be to God. Yer honnor’s the buy what saved it. May the heavens be yer bed. Long life to yer honnor. To the divil with the spalpeens that wanted to cut it off!’ etc.

“With some difficulty the patient was replaced in bed, and the doctor said,—

“‘I am glad your leg is doing well, but never kneel again, except to your Maker.’

“The doctor took the opportunity of giving us a clinical lecture about diseases and their constitutional treatment. Every sentence Abernethy uttered, Pat confirmed.




“‘Thrue for yer honnor; divil a lie at all, at all. His honnor’s the grathe doctor, entirely,’ etc.

“At the slightest allusion to his case, off went the bed-clothes, and up went the leg, as if taking aim at the ceiling. ‘That’s it, be gorra! and a betther leg than the villain’s that wanted to slice it off, entirely.’

“The students actually roared with laughter, but Abernethy[Pg 203] retained his usual gravity throughout the whole of the ludicrous scene.”

Madam Rothschild, mother of the mighty capitalists, attained the great age of ninety-eight. Her wits, which were of no common order, were preserved to the end. During her last illness, when surrounded by her family and some friends, she turned to her physician, and said, in a suppliant tone,—

“My dear doctor, I pray you try to do something for me.”

“Madam, what can I do? I cannot make you young again.”

“No, doctor; nor do I want to be young again. But I want to continue to grow old.”


Large Feet.

Dr. Wood was a man of large “understanding.” One day at a presidential reception he was standing in a large crowd, when he felt two feet pressing on his patent leathers. Looking down, he discovered that the said feet belonged to a female. Wood was a bachelor, and at first the sensation was delightful. It made inexpressibly delicious thrills run all up and down his body. But as the impression was all on the lady’s side, the above sensations became gradually superseded by those not quite so delightful, and finally the pressure became very uncomfortable. Mustering courage, he said, very gently,—

“Madam, if you please, you are standing on my feet—”

“Your feet, sir, did you say?” For the crowd was so dense that she could not possibly see to the ground.

“Yes, madam, on my feet—this last half hour,” very politely.

“O, I beg a thousand pardons, sir; I thought I was standing on a block. They are quite large, sir,” trying to remove.

“Yes, ma’am, quite large; but yours covered ’em, madam.”

 [Pg 204]

A Shanghai Rooster.

Many people suffer more from the anticipation of trouble than by the actual infliction. The world is full of “trouble-borrowers.” They generally keep a stock on hand to lend to those who unfortunately are compelled to listen to them. The following is a mitigated case:—

“Sir,” said a physician visiting a patient in the suburbs of this city, to a neighbor, “your Shanghai greatly disturbs my patient.”

“Is it possible?” asked the neighbor, expressing surprise.

“Yes, the bird is a terrible nuisance, giving the patient no peace, day or night, he informs me; but he did not want to complain.”

“But,” replied the sceptical owner, “I don’t see how he can annoy neighbor B. Why, he only crows twice in the night, and only two or three times at regular intervals during the day.”

“Yes; but you don’t take into consideration all the times the patient is expecting him to crow.”


Spreading Herself.

In a country town in Maine the writer knew an elderly physician, who had married a wife much younger than himself, whose aristocratic notions hardly coincided with those of this democratic people, though she had now lived here several years. Finally a young physician came into the place and commenced practice. Among the patients that he obtained from the old doctor’s former practice was one named Higgins.

Mrs. Higgins, whose daughter had just recovered from a fever, gave a party, to which the families of both doctors, with the two ministers, and others, were invited.

“Will you go to Mrs. Higgins’s party?” asked a neighbor of the old doctor’s wife.

[Pg 205]“Yes, I intend to go, by all means, for I want to see old Mother Higgins and her new doctor spread themselves.”

This reminds me of the following story, which is too good to be lost:—

“‘Once upon a time,’ an old lady sent her grandson to set a turkey,—not the gobbler, as did the parson in Mrs. Stowe’s ‘Minister’s Wooing.’ On his return, the following dialogue occurred:—

“‘Sammy, my dear, have you set her?’

“‘Yes, grandma,’ replied Hopeful.




“‘Fixed the nest up all nice, Sammy?’

“‘O, mighty fine, grandma.’

“‘Did you count the eggs, Sammy, and get an odd number?’

“‘Yes, grandma.’

“‘How many eggs did you set her on, Sammy, dear?’

“‘One hundred and twenty-one, grandma.’

“‘O, goodness gracious! Why did you put so many eggs under her, Sammy?’

“‘Why, grandma, I wanted to see the old thing spread herself.’”

 [Pg 206]


Some editors are continually making themselves ridiculous, as well as endangering the life of some person as ignorant in the matter as themselves, by publishing at random “remedies” for certain complaints, of both of which—remedy and disease—they knew nothing. The following I cut from a paper:—

“One thing I will mention which may be useful to some one. Kerosene oil has been found effective as a vermifuge. It is given by the mouth for round stomach worms, and as an enema for pin worms. It is free from the irritation which follows the use of spirits turpentine, and is equally as effective.” (No directions as to quantity at a dose.)

An Irishwoman in Hartford, Conn., spelling out the above in a newspaper, concluded to give her child, a boy of ten, a dose, under the belief that “wurrums ailed the child,” and as it was harmless (?), she would give him the benefit of its harmlessness, and her ignorance, and administered accordingly a tea-cup full!

Frightful symptoms supervened,—colic, vomiting, etc.,—when a doctor was sent for, who being absent, his student—who hardly understood the danger of the case, and was a bit of a wag, by the way—sent the following prescription:—

“℞. Run a wick down the child’s throat; any lamp or candle wick will do, provided it is long enough; set fire to the end left outside, and use him for a lamp till the doctor arrives.” Selah.

This may seem too ridiculous to believe, but it is the truth, nevertheless.


Saleratus vs. Sugar.

Early one summer morning, while practising in Plymouth, Conn., the writer was startled by a loud knock at the front[Pg 207] door, which I hastened to answer. There stood an Irishman, well known as living in a little hut, down on the “Meadows,” whose name was Fitzgibbon. He was all out of breath, and the great drops of sweat were rolling all down his rough face, which he was endeavoring to mop up with a huge bandanna handkerchief. As soon as he could possibly articulate, he exclaimed,—

“O, docther, docther! take yourself—down to that sha-anty as quick as ye conva-niantly can, plaze.”




“Why, what’s the matter at the shanty, Fitzgibbon?”

“O, docther, dear, I’ve pizened my boy; what will I do intirely?”

[Pg 208]“How did it happen? Don’t be alarmed, Fitzgibbon.” For his manner was frightful.

“Will, I’ll till yeze. He’s been sick wid the masles. Will, he’s ate nothin’ for a hole wake, and in the night he wanted some bread an’ sugar, do ye see? an’ I had no candle, an’ I wint in the dark, an’ spread him some bread, an’ he ate it intirely, an’ it was saleratus I put on it, instead of sugar; an’ it’s now atin’ him intirely! O, dear, dear, that I should iver give him saleratus instead o’ sugar!”

“Well, Fitzgibbon, if the boy is so big a fool that he don’t know the difference between saleratus and sugar, let him die.”

“O, docther, don’t say so!” exclaimed the poor fellow, in agony.

Then I suddenly recollected that the sense of taste was always vitiated in measles, and thus excused the matter, adding,—

“Now, run home, ’Gibbon, and give the little fellow a tea-spoonful of vinegar in a little sugar and water,—not saleratus and water, mind you.”

“No, by the great St. Patrick, I’ll niver mistake the likes again,” he earnestly interrupted, when I went on, saying,—

“Then in half an hour give him another tea-spoonful, and that will relieve the ‘gnawing at his stomach,’ and by an hour I’ll drive round there and see him, on my way to Watertown.”

“I’ll trust to yeze to git it out of him. God bless yeze;” and away he darted, saying, “O, howly mother! that I should give him saleratus for sugar!”


His last Joke.

A celebrated English physician, who was also a distinguished humorist, when about to die, requested that none of his friends be invited to his funeral.

[Pg 209]A friend inquired the reason of this remarkable request.

“Because,” sighed the dying but polite humorist, “it is a courtesy which can never be returned.”

Charles Matthews, the celebrated comedian, who died in 1837, put the above entirely in the shade by his last joke.

The attending physician had left Mr. Matthews some medicine in a vial, which a friend was to administer during the night. By mistake, he gave the patient some ink from a vial which stood near. On discovering the error, his friend exclaimed, “O, gracious Heavens, Matthews, I have given you ink, instead of medicine.”

“Never—never mind, my dear boy,” said the dying man faintly; “I will swallow a piece of blotting paper.”


An astonished Negro.

Dr. Robertson, of Charleston, S. C., who attended the writer in 1852, with the yellow fever, was as competent, benevolent, and faithful a physician as I ever had the pleasure of meeting. His services were in great demand during the raging of the “yellow Jack,” and on one occasion he was absent from his house and office two whole days and a night. His family became alarmed, and a faithful old negro was sent in search of his master. It was no uncommon occurrence to see a black man traversing the streets, ringing a bell, and crying a “lost child;” but to see a slave searching for his lost master, was almost a phenomenon.




[Pg 210]It was quite dark, and the old negro was shuffling along King Street, crying, “Masser Rob’son lost, Masser Rob’son lost,” when suddenly he was brought to a halt, and silenced by some one saying,—

“What’s that you are crying, Neb?” His name was Nebuchadnezzar.

“O, de Lord! if Masser Dr. Rob’son hain’t been an’ loss hisself!”

“You old fool, Neb, I am your master—Dr. Robertson. Don’t you know me now?” exclaimed a familiar voice.

Sure enough, it was the doctor, returning from his numerous visits, tired and dust-covered.

The whole thing solemnly impressed the old darky, who, a day or two later, was met by a ranting Methodist, vulgarly termed a “carpet-bagger,” who, in a solemn voice, said,—

“My colored friend, have you yet found the Lord Jesus?”

“O, golly, masser!” exclaimed the old negro in astonishment; “hab de Lord done gone an’ loss hisself?”

(I have seen the last part of this anecdote floating about the newspapers; but did ever any one see the former connection, or even the latter before 1852?)

The writer was but a poor medical student, and an invalid, seeking here a more salubrious climate, away from the frosts and snows of his northern home, and though twenty years have since flown, I have not forgotten, and never shall, the kindness and attention received at the hands of the benevolent Dr. Robertson. While many who went out with me that fall fell victims to the fearful endemic before Jack Frost put a stop to its ravages, I escaped the grim monster Death; and to the superior knowledge and efficient treatment of Dr. R., with the excellent care of the benevolent landlady, Mrs. Butterfield, I owe my life.

Morning and evening the doctor’s patter-patter was heard on the stairs,—three flights to climb. The whole case was gone over, and then, if the good old doctor had a moment to[Pg 211] spare, he would retail some little anecdote “with which to leave me in good spirits.”

The following is one:—

“Mr. Bacon, of Edgefield, was once courting a lady who had frequently refused him; but he, with commendable perseverance, had as often renewed the suit, until at last she became so exceedingly annoyed at his importunities that she told him that she could never marry a man whose tastes, opinions, likes and dislikes were so completely in opposition to her own as were his.

“‘In fact, Mr. Bacon,’ she is represented as having said, ‘I do not think there is one subject on earth upon which we could agree.’

“‘I assure you, dear madam, that you are mistaken, which I can prove.’

“‘If you will mention one, I will agree to marry you,’ replied the lady.

“‘Well, I will do it,’ replied Mr. Bacon. ‘Suppose now you and I were travelling together; we arrive at a hotel which is crowded; there are only two rooms not entirely occupied, in one of which there is a man, in the other a woman: with which would you prefer to sleep?’

“The lady arose indignantly, and replied, ‘With the woman, of course, sir.’

“‘So would I,’ replied Mr. Bacon, triumphantly.”

(My room had two beds in it, which suggested the above story.)


Dr. K.’s Mare.

The outline of the following ludicrous “situation” was given me by a gentleman of Framingham:—

Old Dr. K., of F., was represented as a rough and off-handed specimen of the genus homo, who liked a horse even better than a woman,—not that he was by any means unmindful of the charms and claims of the beautiful,—better[Pg 212] than he loved money, though the latter passion bordered on avariciousness.

An over-nice and sensitive spinster once was visiting the family of Mr. T., in town, which employed a younger and more refined physician than Dr. K.; and the spinster, being somewhat indisposed, requested Mr. T. to call a physician. His own family doctor was suggested; but on close inquiry, she concluded to have “the oldest and most experienced physician that the town afforded,” and old Dr. K. was called.

Mr. T. had just purchased a beautiful mare, which the doctor was desirous of possessing; and the animal was the subject of conversation as the two entered the house, even to the parlor, where the spinster reclined upon a sofa. The old doctor examined the lady for a moment in silence, but his mind was all absorbed in the reputed qualities of the mare, as he timed the lady’s pulse.

“Slightly nervous,” he said to the spinster. “Tongue? Ah! coated. Throat sore?” and turning towards T., he resumed the horse discussion, still holding the lady’s wrist. “Good wind, Mr. T.? No spavins? Nothing the matter? Suppose you trot her out this afternoon.”

The spinster, supposing the conversation alluded to her, went into the most extreme kind of hysterics.


A Scared Customer.

We give this incident for what it is worth.

A man recently entered a restaurant in Utica, N. Y., and ordered a very elaborate dinner. He lingered long at the table, and finally wound up with a bottle of wine. Then lighting a cigar, he sauntered up to the bar, and remarked to the proprietor,—

“Very fine dinner, landlord. Just charge it, for I haven’t a cent.”

“But I don’t know you,” replied the proprietor, indignantly.

[Pg 213]“No, of course you don’t, or you never would have let me have the dinner.”

“Pay me for the dinner, I say,” shouted the landlord.

“And I say I can’t,” vociferated the customer.

“Then I’ll see about it,” exclaimed the proprietor, who snatched something from a drawer, leaped over the counter, and grasping the man by the collar, pointed something at his throat. “I’ll see if you get away with that dinner without paying for it, you scoundrel.”

“What is that you hold in your hand?” demanded the now affrighted customer, trying to get a sight at the article.

“That, sir, is a revolver; loaded, sir.”




“O, d—— that; I don’t care a continental for a revolver; I’ve got one myself. I was afraid it was a stomach-pump!

 [Pg 214]

What’s Trumps?

Mrs. Bray, in her book of Anecdotes, relates a story illustrative of the power of the ruling passion.

“A Devonshire physician, boasting the not untradesman-like name of Vial, was a desperate lover of the game of whist. One evening, during his opponent’s deal, he fell to the floor in a fit. Consternation seized on the company, who knew not if the doctor was dead or alive. Finally he showed signs of returning life, and retaining the last cherished idea that had possessed him on falling into the fit, he resumed his chair, exclaiming, ‘What’s trumps, boys?’”

The writer was present at a similar occurrence. There were a half score of boys seated upon some logs near the country school-house, during recess, listening to a story, something about “an old woman who had just reached a well, with a pitcher to obtain some water, when the old lady tripped her toe, and fell into the well head foremost.”

At this juncture one of the listeners fell forward from the log in a fit. We were greatly frightened, but mustered sufficient courage to throw some water in the boy’s face, when he gradually came to his senses, exclaiming,—

Did she break the pitcher, Johnny?

To Mrs. Bray’s book we are again indebted for the following:—

“A bon-vivant, brought to his death-bed by an immoderate use of wine, was one day informed by his physician that he could not, in all human probability, survive many hours, and that he would die before eight o’clock the following morning, summoned all his remaining strength to call the doctor back, and, when the physician had returned, made an ineffectual attempt to rise in bed, saying, with the true recklessness of an innate gambler,—

“‘Doctor, I’ll bet you some bottles that I live till nine!’”

 [Pg 215]

Let go the Halliards.

A sailor was taken with the pleurisy on board a vessel that was hauling through the “seven bridges” that span the Charles River from the Navy Yard to Cambridgeport, and a well-known physician, rather of the Falstaffian make-up, whom I may as well call Dr. Jones,—because that is not his name,—was summoned. He prescribed for the patient, and when the schooner touched the pier of the bridge, he stepped ashore, as was supposed by the captain and crew, whose whole attention was required to keep the vessel from driving against the drawer; but “there’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip,” and the old doctor had taken the “slip,” and went plump overboard, unseen by any.

In his descent he grasped at a rope, which happened to be the jib halliards, and as he came up, puffing and blowing the salt water from his mouth and nose, he began to haul “hand-over-hand” at the halliards. His corpulency overbalanced the jib, and gradually the sail began to ascend, to the astonishment of the cook, who stood near by, and to the wrath of the captain on the quarter-deck.

“Let go the jib halliards, there, you confounded slush,” roared the captain.

“I ain’t h’isting the jib,” replied the terrified cook, believing that the sail was bewitched, for sailors are quite superstitious, you know.

“Let go the halliards,” shouted the mate. “We shall be across the draw, and all go to Davy Jones’ locker. Hear, d—— you, Slush-bucket?”

Still the old doctor pulled for dear life, and still rose the ghost-like sail, while the affrighted cook and all hands ran aft, looking as pale as death. Still the sail went up, up, and the captain and mate began to be astonished, when by this time—less time than it requires to tell it—the old doctor had reached the rail of the vessel, and shouted lustily for help.

[Pg 216]All ran forward to help the corpulent old doctor on deck, and by means of a man at each arm, and a boat-hook fast into the doctor’s unmentionables, he was hauled safely on board, a wetter and a wiser man.

If you want to get kicked out of his office, just say in his hearing, “Let go them ’ere halliards,” and it is done.

“O, mermaids, is it cold and wet
Adown beneath the sea?
It seems to me that rather chill
Must Davy’s locker be.”


Medical Titbits.

More Mustard than Meat.—A poor, emaciated Irishman having called in a physician as a forlorn hope, the latter spread a large mustard plaster and applied it to the poor fellow’s lean chest.

“Ah, docthor,” said Pat, looking down upon the huge plaster with tearful eyes, “it sames to me it’s a dale of mustard for so little mate.”

Don’t want to be an Angel.”—“I want to be an angel,” which has been so long shouted by millions of darling little Sunday school children, who hadn’t the remotest idea for what they had been wishing (?), and whose parents would not voluntarily consent to the premature transformation, if the children did, has received a check in the following:—

A little sprite, who had been so very sick that her life was despaired of, was told one morning by the doctor that she would now get well.

“O, I’m so glad, doctor!” she replied; “for I don’t want to die and go to heaben, and be an angel, and wear fedders, like a hen.”


Tooth Drawing.

A snobbish-appearing individual accosted a countryman in homespun with the following interrogation:—

[Pg 217]“I say, ah, my fraand, are you sufficiently conversant with the topography of this neighborhood to direct me to the nearest disciple of Æsculapius, eh?”

“What?” exclaimed the astonished rustic.

“Can you familiarize me with the most direct course to a physician?”


“Can you tell me where a doctor lives?”

“O, a doctor’s house. Why didn’t you say so before?”

The next is after the same sort.

A sailor chap entered a dentist’s office to have a tooth extracted.




Doctor (with great professional dignity, speaking very slowly). “Well, mariner, what tooth do you require extracted? Is it an incisor, bicuspid, or a molar?”

Jack (brusque and loud). “It’s here in the lower tier,[Pg 218] larboard side. Bear a hand, lively, you dumb’d swab, for it’s nippin’ my jaw like a lobster.”

The most astonished boy I ever beheld was a little country lad who came to have a tooth drawn. “He thought it must be fun,” his mother said; “but he never had one drawn, and knows nothing of it.”

“O!” with a great, round mouth, was all he had time to say, but the expression of astonishment depicted on that striking countenance, glaring eyes, and by the expressive, spasmodic “O!” I never can forget or describe; and he caught his hat and ran home, a distance of two miles, without stopping, while his mother followed in the carriage by which they came. The boy’s idea was summed up as follows:—

“The doctor hitched tight onto the tooth with his pinchers, then he pulled his first best, and just before it killed me, the tooth came out, and so I run home.”

Taking it out in trade” is all very well when the arrangement is mutual; but there are occasions when the advantages are imperceptible, at least to one party, as thus:—

“What’s the matter, Jerry?” asked old Mr. ——, as Jeremiah was jogging by, growling most furiously.

“Matter ’nough,” replied old Jerry. “There I’ve been luggin’ water all the morning for the doctor’s wife to wash with, and what do you s’pose she give me for it?”

“About ninepence.”

“Ninepence? No! She told me the doctor would pull a tooth for me some time, when he got leisure.”

Apothecaries sometimes “come down” from the dignity of the professional man, and crack a joke. For instance,—

A humorous druggist on Washington Street recently exposed some cakes of soap in his window with the pertinent inscription, “Cheaper than dirt.”

[Pg 219]In the country, you know, they keep almost everything in the apothecaries’ shops. We mentioned the fact in our chapter on Apothecaries. A wag once entered one of these apotheco-groco-dry-goods-meat-and-fish-market-stores, and asked the keeper,—

“Do you keep matches, sir?”

“O, yes, all kinds,” was the reply.

“Well, I’ll take a trotting match,” said the wag.

The equally humorous druggist handed down a box of pills, saying,—

“Here, take ’em and trot.”

A sure Cure.—Henry Ward Beecher is currently reported as having once written to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes as to the knowledge of the latter respecting a certain difficulty. The reply was characteristic, and encouraging.

“Gravel,” wrote the doctor, “gravel is an effectual cure. It should be taken about four feet deep.”

The “remedy” was not, however, so remarkable as the following:—

Time and Cure.”—A good-looking and gentlemanly-dressed fellow was arraigned on the charge of stealing a watch, which watch was found on his person. It was his first offence, and he pleaded, “Guilty.” The magistrate was struck with the calm deportment of the prisoner, and asked him what had induced him to take the watch.

“Having been out of health for some time,” replied the young man, sorrowfully, “the doctor advised me to take something, which I accordingly did.”

The magistrate was rather amused with the humor of the explanation, and further inquired why he had been led to select so remarkable a remedy as a watch.

“Why,” replied the prisoner, “I thought if I only had the time, Nature might work the cure.”

[Pg 220]Dye-stuff.—During the cholera time of 1864, in Hartford, Conn., a little girl was sent to a drug store to purchase some dye-stuff, and forgetting the name of the article, she said to the clerk, “John, what do folks dye with?”

“Die with? Why, the cholera, mostly, nowadays.”

“Well, I guess that’s the name of what I want. I’ll take three cents’ worth.”

The Hartford Courant told this story in 1869:—

Cholera fenced in.—You have noticed the flaming handbills setting forth the virtues of a cholera remedy, that are posted by the hundreds on the board fence enclosing the ground on Main Street, where Roberts’ opera house is being erected. Well, there was a timid countryman, the other day, who had so far recovered from the ‘cholera scare’ as to venture into the city with a horse and wagon load of vegetables; and thereby hangs a tale. He drove moderately along the street, when he suddenly spied the word ‘Cholera,’ in big letters on the new fence, and he staid to see no more. Laying the lash on to his quadruped, he went past the handbills like a streak of lightning, went—‘nor stood on the order of his going’—up past the tunnel, planting the vegetables along the entire route,—for the tail-board had loosened,—hardly taking breath, or allowing his beast to breathe, till he reached home at W.

“Safely there, he rushed wildly into the midst of his household, exclaiming,—

“‘O, wife, wife, they have got the cholera in Hartford, and have fenced it in.’”

A Joke that’s not a Joke.—A funny limb of the law had an office, a few years since, on —— Street, next door to a doctor’s shop. One day, an elderly gentleman, of the fogy school, blundered into the lawyer’s office, and asked,—

“Is the doctor in?”

 [Pg 221]


[Pg 222] 

[Pg 223]“Don’t live here,” replied the lawyer, scribbling over some legal documents.

“O, I thought this was the doctor’s office.”

“Next door, sir;” short, and still writing.

“I beg pardon, but can you tell me if the doctor has many patients?”

Not living,” was the brief reply.

The old gentleman repeated the story in the vicinity, and the doctor threatened the lawyer with a libel. The latter apologized, saying, “it was only a joke, and that no man could sustain a libel against a lawyer,” when the doctor acknowledged the joke, and satisfaction, saying he would send up a bottle of wine, in token of reconciliation.

The wine came, and the lawyer invited in a few friends to laugh over the joke, and smile over the doctor’s wine. The seal was broken, the dust and cobwebs being removed, and the doctor’s health drunk right cordially. The excellence of the doctor’s wine was but half discussed, when the lawyer begged to be excused a moment, caught his hat, and rushed from the room. Soon one of the guests repeated the request, and followed; then another, and another, till they had all gone out.

The wine had been nicely “doctored” with tartar emetic, the seal replaced and well dusted over, before being sent to the lawyer. The doctor was now threatened with prosecution; but after some consideration, the following brief correspondence passed between the belligerents:—

“Nolle prosequi.” Lawyer to doctor.

“Quits.” Doctor to lawyer.

Parboiling an Old Lady.—In Rockland, Me., then called East Thomaston, several years ago, there resided an old Thomsonian doctor, who had erected in one room of his dwelling a new steam bath. An old lady from the “Meadows,” concluding to try the virtues of the medicated steam,[Pg 224] went down, was duly arrayed in a loose robe by the doctor’s wife, and with much trepidation and many warnings not to keep her too long, she entered the bath—a sort of closet, with a door buttoned outside. The steam was kept up by a large boiler, fixed in the fireplace which the doctor was to regulate. The old lady took a book into the bath, “to occupy her mind, and keep her from getting too nervous.”

“Now it’s going all right,” said the doctor, when ding, ding, ding! went the front door bell. The doctor stepped noiselessly out, and learned that a woman required his immediate attention at South Thomaston, three miles away. He forgot all about the old lady fastened into the bath, and leaping into the carriage in waiting, he was whisked off to South Thomaston.

Meantime the steam increased, and the old lady began to get anxious. The moisture gathered on her book; the leaves began to wilt. The dampness increased, and soon the book fell to pieces in her lap. Great drops of sweat and steam rolled down over her face and body, and she arose, and tapping very gently at the door, said,—

“Hadn’t I better come out now, doctor?”




No reply. She waited a moment longer, and repeated the knock louder.

[Pg 225]“Let me come out, doctor. I am just melting in here.”

Still the doctor, to her astonishment, did not reply, or open the door.

“For God’s sake, doctor, let me out.” Listening a few seconds, she screamed, “O, I believe he’s gone, and left me here to parboil! Open, open!” And she knocked louder and louder at the door, while the now almost scalding waters literally poured from her body. “O, I shall suffocate here.” And giving a desperate kick, she set her foot through the panelled door, and, getting down on all fours, she crawled through the opening. Just then the doctor’s wife, hearing the thumping, hastened to the room, and with many apologies and excuses, rubbed down and dried the old lady, and begged her not to mention the affair.

But never, to the day of her death, did the old lady again enter a “steam bath,” or cease to tell how “the doctor went off to attend a ‘birth’ leaving her in the bath to parboil!”

A Dry Shower Bath.—When shower baths were all the rage, a few years ago, all sorts of plans were suggested to avoid getting wet. The following is to the point:—

Doctor. Well, deacon, how did your wife manage her new shower bath?




Deacon. O, she had real good luck. Madam Mooney told how she managed with hern. She had made a large oiled silk hood, with a large[Pg 226] cape to it, like a fisherman’s in a storm, that came all down over her shoulders.

Doctor (impatiently). She’s a fool for her pains. That’s not the way.

Deacon. So my wife thought.

Doctor. And your wife did nothing of the kind, I hope.

Deacon. O, no, no. My wife, she used an umbrilly.




[Pg 227]



1st Witch. By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Macbeth. How now, you secret, black and midnight hags,
What is’t ye do?
All. A deed without a name.—Macbeth, Act IV. Sc. 1.



Under the guise of fortune-telling and clairvoyance the most nefarious atrocities are daily enacted, not only in the larger cities, but in the villages and towns even, throughout the country. In this chapter I propose to ventilate them in a manner never before attempted, and the exposé may be relied upon as correct in every particular.

“Why,” exclaimed a friend, “I thought fortune-telling one of the follies of the past, and that there was little or none of it practised at the present.”

Far from it. Very few, comparatively, who practise the black art come out under the ancient name of fortune-tellers; but there are thousands of ignorant, characterless wretches, in our enlightened day and generation, who pretend to tell fortunes, if not under the open title above, as astrologers,[Pg 228] seers, clairvoyants, or spiritualists, etc. There are some clairvoyants of whom we shall treat under the head of “Mind and Matter.”

The Bible fortune-tellers practised their lesser deceptions under the various titles of “wise men,” “soothsayers,” the former being acknowledged as the more legitimate by the Jews, and the latter mere heathenish prognosticators, without divine authority, as thus: Is. ii. 6. “Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers, like the Philistines.”

8. “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.”

There were also wizards, astrologers, “star-gazers” (Is. xlvii. 13), spiritualists (1 Sam. xxviii. 3), magicians, sorcerers, and “the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.” Nahum iii. 4.

All of these exist at the present day, carrying on the same sort of vile deceptions and heinous crimes, to the “selling of families and nations,” and souls, in spite of law or gospel. Even as those of nearly six thousand years ago were patronized by the great, the kings, and queens, and nobles of the earth, so are the fortune-tellers, under the more refined titles, visited by governors, representatives, and ladies and gentlemen of rank, of modern times.

In visiting these pretenders, in order “to worm out the secrets of their trade,” the writer has not only been assured by them in confidence that the above is true, but he has met distinguished characters there, face to face,—the minister of the gospel, the lawyer, the judge, the doctor, and what ought to have been the representative intelligence of the land,—consulting and fellowshiping with ignorant fortune-tellers. “Ignorant?” Yes, out of the scores whom I have seen, there has not been one, male or female, possessing an [Pg 229]intelligence above ordinary people in the unprofessional walks of life, while the majority of them were in comparison far below the mediocrity.

If ignorance alone patronized ignorance, like a family intermarrying, the stock would eventually dwindle into nothingness, and entirely die out.

Before the “captivity” the Jews had their wise men, and on their exodus they reported the existence of the magicians or magi of Egypt.

It seems that nearly everybody, and particularly the Egyptians, regarded Moses and Aaron as but magicians in those days; and the magi of Pharaoh’s household—for all kings and rulers of ancient times and countries had their fortune-tellers about them—had a little “tilt” with Moses and Aaron, commencing with the changing of the rods into snakes. The Egyptian magicians did very well at the snake “trick,” as the modern magician calls it, also at producing frogs, and such like reptiles; but they were puzzled in the vermin business, and the boils troubled them, and they then gave up, and acknowledged that there was a power beyond theirs, and that power was with God.

Well, that is not fortune-telling; but this was the class who professed the power of foretelling; and we find them, with women of the familiar spirits, made mention of all through the scriptural writing. Isaiah testifies (chapter xix.) that the charmers, familiar spirits, and wizards ruined Egypt as a nation. What advantage were they ever to King Saul, the grass-eating king with the long name, or any other individuals, in their perplexities?

They rather stood in the light of individuals, nations, and the cause of Heaven. Then Jesus and the apostles had them to meet and overcome—for their power had become very great, even to the publication of books to promulgate their doctrines; for we read in Acts xix. 19, that there were brought forth at Ephesus, at one time, these books, to the[Pg 230] amount of fifty thousand pieces of silver, or about twenty-six thousand five hundred dollars’ worth, and burned in the public square or synagogue.

There are some instances recorded in the Bible, and by Josephus, where the Jews professed to foretell events. The curious case of Barjesus, at Paphos, who, for a time, hindered Sergius, the deputy of the country, from embracing Christianity, is cited in illustration of the injury that false prophets are to all advancement. Paul testifies to that fact in the following words: “O, full of all subtlety, and all mischief, child of the devil, enemy to all righteousness,” etc.


Arabian Fortune-teller.

The Arabians, from time immemorial, have been implicit believers in fortune-telling, as well as believers in the efficacy of charms and all other mystic arts. “No species of knowledge is more highly venerated by them than that of the occult sciences, which affords maintenance to a vast number of quacks and impudent pretenders.” The science of “Isen Allah” enables the possessor to discern what is passing in his absence, to expel evil spirits, and cure malignant diseases. Others claim to control the winds and the weather, calm tempests, and to say their prayers in person at Mecca, without stirring from their own abodes hundreds of miles away!

The “Sinia” is what is better known to us as jugglery and feats of illusion.

The “Ramle” is the more proper fortune-telling, and is believed in and practised by people of all ranks, male and female, and by the physicians.


The Eastern Prince.

Fortune-telling is practised in all Eastern countries, to a great extent, to the present day. Some pretend to foretell[Pg 231] events by the stars and planets, some by charms, cards, the palm of the hand, or a lock of hair; the latter is the most vulgar mode, and commonly followed by the gypsies.

When the fortress of Ismail was besieged, in 1790, by the Russians, Prince Potemkin, the commanding officer, began to grow impatient, after nearly two months’ resistance, though he was surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries of an Eastern prince—by courtiers and beautiful women, who employed the most exciting and voluptuous means to engage his attention. Madame De Witt, one of the females, pretended to read the decrees of fate by cards, and foretold that the prince would only take the place at the expiration of three more weeks.

“Ah,” exclaimed the prince, with a smile, “I have a method of divination far more infallible, as you shall see;” and he immediately despatched orders to Suwarof to take Ismail within three days. The brave but barbarous hero obeyed the order to the very letter.


The Seer’s Wife.

When Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., landed at Milford-Haven, on his memorable march to his successful encounter with Richard III., then at Bosworth Field, he consulted a celebrated Welsh seer, who dwelt in magnificent style at a place called Matha Farm. To the duke’s question as to whether he should succeed or not, the wily seer, whose name was Davyd Lloyd, requested a little time in which to consider so important a query.

As Richmond lodged that night with his friend Davyd, he gave him till the following morning to make up his decision, when the seer assured Richmond that he “would succeed gloriously.”

For this wonderful and timely information Lloyd received immense rewards at the hand of his grateful prince when he became King Henry VII.

[Pg 232]Now for the secret of his success: During the time granted for the answer, Davyd, in great perplexity and trepidation, consulted his wife, instead of the heavens, for an answer. See the wisdom of the reply.

“There can be no difficulty about an answer. Tell him he will certainly succeed. Then, if he does, you will receive honors and rewards; and if he fails, depend on’t he will never come here to punish you.”


Dee, the Astrologer.

One of the most remarkable and successful fortune-tellers known to English history was John Dee, who was born in London, 1527, and died in 1608. A biographer says, “He was an English divine and astrologer of great learning, celebrated in the history and science of necromancy, chancellor of St. Paul’s, and warden of Manchester College, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was also author of several published works on the subject of astrology, revelations of spirits, etc., which books are preserved in the Cottonian library and elsewhere.”

Dee enjoyed for a long time the confidence and patronage of Elizabeth. He then resided in an elegant house at Mortlake, which was still standing in 1830, and was used for a female boarding school. “In two hundred years it necessarily had undergone some repairs and alterations; yet portions of it still exhibited the architecture of the sixteenth century.

“From the front windows might be seen the doctor’s garden, still attached to the house, down the central path of which the queen used to walk from her carriage from the Shan road to consult the wily conjurer on affairs of love and war.

“He was one of the few men of science who made use of his knowledge to induce the vulgar to believe him a conjurer, and one possessing the power to converse with spirits. Lilly’s memoirs recorded many of his impostures, and at one[Pg 233] time the public mind was much agitated by his extravagances. The mob more than once destroyed his house (before residing at Mortlake) for being too familiar with their devil. He pretended to see spirits in a stone, which is still preserved with his books and papers.... In his spiritual visions Dee had a confederate in one Kelley, who, of course, confirmed all his master’s oracles. Both, however, in spite of their spiritual friends, died miserably—Kelley by leaping from a window and breaking his neck, and Dee in great poverty and wretchedness. The remains of the impostor lie in Mortlake Church, without any memorial.”

He unfortunately had survived his royal patroness.

Queen Mary had had Dee imprisoned for practising by enchantment against her life; but her successor released him, and required him to name a lucky day for her coronation.

“In view of this fact,” asks the author of ‘A Morning’s Walk from London to Kew,’ “is it to be wondered at that a mere man, like tens of thousands of other fanatics, persuaded himself that he was possessed of supernatural powers?”


Another Impostor.—The Great Fire.

William Lilly followed in the wake of, and was even a more successful impostor than the Reverend Dee. He was first known in London as a book-keeper, whose master, dying, gave him the opportunity of marrying his widow and her snug little fortune of one thousand pounds. The wife died in a few years, and Lilly set up as an astrologer and fortune-teller.

His first great attempt at a public demonstration of his art was about 1630, which was to discover certain treasures which he claimed were buried in the cloister of Westminster Abbey. Lilly had studied astronomy with a Welsh clergyman, and doubtless may have been sufficiently “weather-wise” to anticipate a storm; but however that might have been, on the night of the attempt, there came up a most terrific[Pg 234] storm of wind, rain, thunder and lightning, which threatened to bury the actors beneath the ruins of the abbey, and his companions fled, leaving Lilly master of the situation. He unblushingly declared that he himself allayed the “storm spirit,” and “attributed the failure to the lack of faith and want of better knowledge in his companions.”

“In 1634 Lilly ventured a second marriage, with another woman of property, which was unfortunate as a commercial speculation, for the bride proved extravagant beyond her dowry and Lilly’s income. In 1644 he published his first almanac, which he continued thirty-six years. In 1648 he therein predicted the “great fire” of London, which immortalized his name. While Lilly was known as a cheat, and was ridiculed for his absurdities, he received the credit for as lucky a guess as ever blessed the fortunes of a cunning rogue.

“In the year 1656,” said his prediction, “the aphelium of Mars, the signification of England, will be in Virgo, which is assuredly the ascendant of the English monarchy, but Aries of the kingdom. When this absis, therefore, of Mars shall appear in Virgo, who shall expect less than a strange catastrophe of human affairs in the commonwealth, monarchy, and kingdom of England?”

He then further stated that it would be “ominous to London, unto her merchants at sea, to her traffique at land, to her poor, to her rich, to all sorts of people inhabiting her or her liberties, by reason of fire and plague!” These he predicted would occur within ten years of that time.

The great plague did occur in London in 1665, and the great fire in 1666! The fire originated by incendiarism in a bakery on Pudding Lane, near the Tower, in a section of the city where the buildings were all constructed of wood with pitched roofs, and also a section near the storehouses for shipping materials, and those of a highly combustible nature. It occurred also at a time when the water-pipes were empty.

[Pg 235]This fearful visitation destroyed nearly two thirds of the metropolis. Four hundred and thirty-three acres were burned over. Thirteen thousand houses, eighty-nine churches, and scores of public buildings were laid in ashes and ruins. There was no estimating the amount of property destroyed, nor the many souls who perished in the relentless, devouring flames.

If this great fire originated at the instigation of Lilly, in order to demonstrate his claims as a foreteller of events, as is believed to be the case by nearly all who were not themselves believers in the occult science, what punishment could be meted out to such a villain commensurate to his heinous crime? Curran says, “There are two kinds of prophets, those who are inspired, and those who prophesy events which they themselves intend to bring about. Upon this occasion, Lilly had the ill luck to be deemed of the latter class.” Elihu Rich says in his biography of Lilly, “It is certain that he was a man of no character. He was a double-dealer and a liar, by his own showing, ... and perhaps as decent a man as a trading prophet could well be, under the circumstances.” Lilly was cited before a committee of the House of Commons, not, as was supposed by many, “that he might discover by the same planetary signs who were the authors of the great fire,” but because of the suspicion that he was already acquainted with them, and privy to the supposed machinations which brought about the catastrophe. At one time, 1648-9, Parliament gave him one hundred pounds a year, and he was courted by royalty and nobility, at home and abroad, from whom he received an immense revenue. He died a natural death, in 1681, “leaving some works of interest in the history of astrology,” which, in connection with the important personages with whom he was associated, and the remarkable events above recorded, have immortalized his name.

Respecting the prediction of the plague, I presume that if[Pg 236] any prominent personage should, at any time, predict a great calamity to a great metropolis, to take place “within ten years, more or less,” there necessarily would be something during that time, of a calamitous nature, that might seem to verify their prediction. Besides, we should take into consideration how many predictions are never verified. Dr. Lamb, Dee, Bell, and others prophesied earthquakes to shake up London at various times in 1203, 1598, 1760, etc., which never occurred, to any great extent.

Supposing a great tidal wave should devastate our coast, within ten years even, would not Professor Agassiz be immortalized thereby, although he never predicted it, except in the imaginative and mulish brains of certain individuals, who will have it that he did so predict?


A Raid on Fortune-tellers.

In London, at the present day, it is estimated that nearly two thousand persons, male and female, gain a livelihood under the guise of fortune-telling. Some of them are “seers,” or “astrologers,” “seventh sons,” clairvoyants, etc.

From the London Telegraph of the year 1871 we gather the following description of a few of the most prominent of these, with their arrest and trial, as fortune-telling is there, as elsewhere, proscribed by law:—

“First was arraigned ‘Professor Zendavesta,’ otherwise John Dean Bryant, aged fifty, and described as a ‘botanist.’ He was charged with having told a woman’s fortune, for the not very extravagant sum of thirteen cents. Two married women, it seems, instructed by the police, went to No. 3 Homer Street, Marylebone, and paid sixpence each to a woman, who gave them a bone ticket in return. One might have imagined that it was a spiritualist’s seance, but for the fact that the fee for admittance was sixpence, and not one guinea. Professor Zendavesta shook hands with one of the women, and warmly inquired after her health. She told[Pg 237] him she was in trouble about her husband, which was false, and he bade her be of good cheer, and made an appointment to meet her on another day. Subsequently, two constables went to Bryant’s house, and on going into a room on the ground floor, found thirty or forty young women seated there. The ladies began to scream, and there was a rush for the door; while the police, who seemed to labor under the impression that to attend an astrological lecture was as illegal an act as that of being present at a cock-fight or a common gambling-house, stopped several of the women, and made them give their names and addresses. The walls of the apartment were covered with pictures of Life and Death, with the ‘nativities of several royal and illustrious personages, and of Constance Kent.’ It is a wonder that the horoscopes of Heliogabalus and Jack the Painter should have been lacking. Then there was a medicine chest containing bottles and memoranda of nativities; also a ‘magic mirror, with a revolving cylinder,’ showing the figures of men and women, old and young. Of course the collection included a ‘book of fate.’ This was the case against Bryant.

“One Shepherd, alias ‘Professor Cicero,’ was next charged, and it was shown that the same ‘instructed’ women went to his house, paying sixpence for the usual bone ticket. They saw Shepherd separately. When one of them said that she wanted her fortune told, ‘Professor Cicero’ took a yard tape and measured her hand. He gabbled the usual nonsense to her about love, marriage, and good luck, hinting that the price of a complete nativity would be half a crown, and before they left the place he gave them a circular, with their phrenological organs marked. Indeed, the man’s defence was, that he was a professor of phrenology, and not of the black art. A ‘magic mirror’ and a ‘lawyer’s gown’ were, however, found at his house, and the last named item has certainly a very black look. The evidence against the next defendant, William Henry, alias ‘Professor Thalaby,’ and[Pg 238] against the fourth and last, Frederick Shipton, alias ‘Professor Baretta,’ did not differ to any great extent from the testimony given against Zendavesta. The solicitor retained for this sage contended that if he had infringed the law, it was likewise violated at the Crystal Palace, where the ‘magic mirror’ was to be seen every day. Mr. Mansfield, however, had only to deal with the case and the culprits before him, and, convicting all the four fortune-tellers, he sent them to the house of correction, there to be kept, each and every one of them, to hard labor for three months.”


The Fortune-tellers of To-day.

Before entering upon the exposé of the viler practices of this vile art,—the “selling of families,” and of virginity, and the abominable practices of the procuresses, who carry on their damnable treacheries, particularly in our large cities, at the present day,—I wish to enliven this chapter by one or more amusing instances relative to country fortune-tellers.

Filliky Milliky.—During the summer of 185-, the writer was one of a large party of excursionists to Weymouth’s Point, in Union Bay. There was a large barge full of people, old and young, male and female, besides several sailboat loads, who, on the return in the afternoon, decided to stop at the hut of a fortune-teller called “Filliky Milliky.” This old man, with his equally ignorant wife, professed to tell fortunes by means of a tea-cup. He claimed that he knew of our intended visit, and had set his house in order; but if that house was “in order” that day, deliver us from seeing it when out of order.

There were some one hundred or more of us, and whilst but two could occupy the attention of the “Millikies” at once, we sought other means of whiling away the time. The old man lived near the river side, and at his leisure had picked up a large pile of lath edgings which had floated down from a lath mill on the river.

[Pg 239]One Captain Joy took it upon himself to form “all the gentlemen who would enlist in so noble a cause” into a “home guard,” and forthwith arming themselves with the aforesaid lath edgings, a company of volunteers was quickly raised, and drawn up in battle array.

I do not recollect the glorious and patriotic speech by which our noble captain fired our “sluggish souls with due enthusiasm for the great cause in which we were about to embark,” but we were put through a course of military tactics, “according to Hardee,” and took up our line of march.




There was no Bunker Hill on which to display our valor, but there was another hill, just in rear of the barn nearly, which had not been used in farming purposes that spring, and for this hill we charged at “double-quick.” In this charge—the danger lay in the swamping part of the hill—we unambushed a large flock of hens, chickens, and ducks, from the opposite side.

[Pg 240]Charge bayonet!” shouted our noble captain, with great presence of mind.

We charged! The ducks quacked and fled. The hens cackled and ran. The noise was deafening, the chase enthusiastic, and above the dust and din of battle arose the stentorian cry, “Charge bayonet!” The Donnybrook Fair advice of “Wherever there’s a head, hit it,” was followed to the letter, until the last enemy lay dead on the gory field, or had hid so far under the barn that the small boys could not bring them forth. Then orders came to withdraw, and gather up the dead and wounded.




There was an interesting string of hens, chickens, and ducks brought in and laid at the feet of our great commander, to represent the fowl products of that campaign. The captain’s congratulatory speech was characteristic also of the fowl proceedings, at the close of which harangue he[Pg 241] appointed the “orderly a committee of three to wait on the fortune-teller, and present him with the spoils of war,” of which his “cups” had given him no previous intimation.

What next? The captain informed us that “as the company was ‘mutual,’ it became necessary, in consideration of the losses, to draw on the stock-holders (gun-stock), as he could see no other ‘policy’ under which to assess those ‘damages.’”

“Filliky Milliky” never carried fowl to a better market.

The “fortunate” ones entertained us, on the barge, with the marvellous revelations that had transpired within the hut. One married lady was assured that she was yet single, but would marry in a six-month. A double-and-twisted old maid was told that her husband was in California. But the most absurd revelation was to a well-known respectable middle-aged lady, who was inclined to believe in the foreseeing powers of old Mother Milliky until now, who was told that she was “soon to receive a letter from her absent husband, also in California for the last five years; that he had become rich, and was soon to return; but that her youngest child, a year old, was inclined to worms, and might not live to see its father return!” All this wonderful information for a ninepence.

Secret of finding lost Property.—In Hopkinton, Mass., there lived a man named Sheffield, who professed to tell fortunes. The postmaster of that town told my informant that old Sheffield received from seven to ten letters per day from the fools who believed in his foreseeing powers. Once the surveyor, with a large gang of men, was working on the highway, and while they were at dinner an ox chain was stolen. The overseer, happening along before the rest of the men, saw some one unhook the chain, and steal away to a field adjoining, pull up a fence post, and deposit the chain in the hole, replace the post, and return. He “lay low,”[Pg 242] and as the thief passed he discovered him to be old Sheffield, the fortune-teller. He kept his own counsel, and, the chain being missed, a committee of three was appointed to visit the seer, to discover by his art where the stolen property was secreted.

Mr. ——, the overseer, and others, called on Sheffield, who got out his mysterious book, and figured away in an impressive manner, and finally chalked out a rough plan of the ground on the floor, and again consulting his book, he solemnly declared that he had discovered the property.

“You follow this line from the spot where the chain was unhooked from the plough, so many rods to this line fence, go along the fence to the seventh post, draw it up, and the chain will be found beneath, in the post-hole.”

The two men were struck dumb with astonishment, for they believed in the mysterious powers of old Sheffield; but the overseer exclaimed, in words more impressive than elegant,—

“Yes, you infernal scoundrel, and you put it there, for I saw you with my own eyes.”


The Magic Mirror Expose.

Not long ago the body of a once beautiful young woman was taken from the Merrimack River, below the factories at L——. She was unknown at the time, and this was all there was given to the public. To the world she was merely—

“One more unfortunate,
Weary of breath,
Rashly importunate,
Gone to her death.”

Now, these are the whole facts of the case. She was the daughter of respectable, Christian parents, in a New England village, where she was highly esteemed as an amiable and virtuous young lady. But the tempter came. Not in the[Pg 243] form of a “serpent”—very harmless animals, comparatively!—nor that other old fellow, commonly descried as having clattering hoofs and forked tail, etc.—but in the flesh and semblance of a handsome young man! I think preachers and book-makers paint their devils too hideous and too far off! Leave off the d, and look for your evils nearer home, and rather pleasant to look at, on the sly, and not (at first) very unpleasant to the senses in general. These are the dangerous (d)evils; escape them, and you avoid all!

In the village there were two young men, rivals for the affections of this amiable young lady, and I know not but there were a dozen besides. One held the only advantage over the other of having been a native of the town, while the other was, comparatively, but little known.

Both were sober, industrious, and moral young men.

One day Miss —— was going to the great city, and, for the “sport of the thing,” agreed to visit a celebrated fortune-teller—a clairvoyant!—at the instigation of the young man, who, though least known to her, had recently distanced his rival by his assiduity in pressing his suit before the young lady.

He assured her there could be no impropriety in a young lady’s visiting a fortune-teller. It was only for fun; nobody believed in them, and she could keep her own secret if she chose!

She went in broad daylight. The lady clairvoyant greeted her cordially, begged her to feel quite at her ease, as there was great fortune in store for her. She described her two lovers very minutely, and informed the girl that the one who was to marry her would come to her in a vision, if she would but look into a mirror hanging on the wall before her.

“I see nothing but my own face,” replied the young lady, when she had arisen and looked into the glass.

The woman then turned it half around on the hinges, swung out the frame upon which the mirror was also hung,[Pg 244] and, disclosing a plain black glass behind, fastened to the wall, said,—

“Now, if you will step behind the glass, back to the wall, and again look into the mirror, you may possibly see one of the two gentlemen—I cannot say which.”

More amused than alarmed, the lady complied.




“Still I see nothing but myself and a dark glass behind me,” she said.

“Look steadfastly into the glass. Now!” exclaimed the woman.

“O, what—what do I see?” cried the girl. “’Tis he! ’tis Mr. ——”

“Don’t be alarmed; ’tis your future husband. No power can prevent it. It is fate—fate! But it will be a happy consummation,” said the woman, closing the mirror.

[Pg 245]“Why, I left him at home, surely; and I came by steam. That is a solid wall! Ah, my fate is decreed, I believe!”

Can the reader suppose any sensible person would believe this to be magic? There are thousands who believe it. Miss —— was one. She had seen the spiritual representation of her future husband, and, finding him at home on her return, the same afternoon, she accepted him as her betrothed, and the other was dismissed.

Her ruin followed. In the flight of her lover, her hopes were forever blasted. To hide her shame, she went secretly from home; and to earn her daily bread, she labored in a cotton factory. When she could no longer cover her shame in the world, she went without—into outer darkness! Her parents went down in sorrow to their untimely graves.

Now about the magic mirror. The young man went to the city by the same train with the girl he proposed to ruin. He had previously arranged with the fortune-teller—no unusual thing—to appear in person behind the darkened glass in the next room, and had returned in disguise by the same train with his victim.

The fortune-teller died miserably, and was buried in the Potter’s Field at the expense of the city of Hartford, Conn.

“The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree
I planted; they have torn me,—and I bleed:
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.”

Such is one of the results of patronizing fortune-tellers. I have seen this kind of mirror, and the first effect, even on a strong-minded person, seeing but faintly through the darkened glass, over your shoulder, the outlines of a face, and finally, as your eyes get familiar with the darkness, the very features of a person reflected therein, is truly impressive, if not startling.

Young ladies, for your own sakes, for the sake of your friends, and more for Heaven’s sake, keep away from [Pg 246]fortune-tellers! You cannot possibly see into futurity, neither can any one, much less the ignorant wretches who profess the dark mysteries, tell for you what joys or sorrows are in store for the future!


Fortune-tellers as Procuresses.

An able reporter to the Boston Daily Post, who devoted a considerable time in May, 1869, to visiting and writing up the fortune-tellers of Boston, which he reported in full in the above paper, and from which I shall copy more fully hereafter, says in conclusion,—

“From what we are able to learn in this direction, we have arrived at the conclusion that there are not less than two hundred men and women in Boston and vicinity who get a good livelihood by this profession, while many do a large and profitable business.

“One lady, who has reduced her charges to the very lowest figure (fifty cents for an interview), candidly informed us that her receipts for the past year had not been less than twelve hundred dollars. Another reported her receipts from ten to fifty dollars a day.

“Of course no reliable estimate, without better statistics, can be made of the magnitude of the business; but it seems not extravagant to estimate their receipts, on an average, at fifteen hundred dollars per annum! or an annual cost to the people of Boston (and vicinity?) for fortune-telling, of the snug little sum of three hundred thousand dollars!”

The price advertised for a sitting in 1870 was from twenty-five cents to one dollar. The Post reporter says of “Mrs. Nellie Richards” (alias Mrs. Nelson), “Not unfrequently her receipts are fifty dollars per day.” Again of one, “She has received fifty dollars for one sitting.” The writer has visited the most celebrated fortune-tellers here, and been told by them that they have received five, ten, and twenty dollars for one sitting. What for? What was the value[Pg 247] received? Not from females do they receive these liberal sums; but from middle-aged or old gentlemen and “married men,” as one assured me. It is quite possible for a few sharp fortune-tellers to make fifteen hundred dollars per year at merely telling fools what they may expect from the future. “Middle-aged, old, and married men” do not consult them, as a general rule, for that purpose.

Here is a true history illustrative of my meaning. I gathered the facts from the lady.

On Saturday, the 9th of December, 1871, a young woman, residing with her parents on —— Street, went to the afternoon performance at the Boston Museum. A young man made three unsuccessful attempts to “flirt” with her. The third time she slightly shook her head. Some one, seated immediately behind her, touched her on the shoulder, and said, “Right, young lady; you did right not to notice him.”

“I turned my head,” said my informant, “and just made the least bit of acknowledgment to a fine-looking, elderly gentleman, who, perhaps, was rising fifty. He was an utter stranger to me, and I did not observe him afterwards. On the following week I received a note—a very pretty, delicate letter—from the very gentleman. He explained that he saw me at the performance of “Elfie,” and was much struck by my lady-like appearance, and the rest, begging the privilege of calling on me privately. Now, how could he have obtained my address?”

“Did the other party, the young ‘flirt,’ know it?” I asked.

“No—not probable. I was not so astonished in receiving a letter from a stranger, as I was on learning that the nice-looking old gent at the theatre should have sent it, and that he possessed my address.”

“Why not surprised by receiving the letter from a stranger?” I asked.

[Pg 248]“Because I visited a fortune-teller, a day or two before, who told me I should receive a letter from a middle-aged man, and that it would be to my interest to cultivate his friendship, as he was a nice old covey, and was rich and liberal.”

“The secret is out! Did the fortune-teller know your address?”

“O, yes; she was an old friend of my mother’s, and asked me nothing for a sitting. And would she possibly betray the daughter of her old friend?”

I have since learned that the young woman was married at the time, which fact the fortune-teller must have known when she advised her to “cultivate the friendship” of an old roué, “as he was rich and liberal.”

Rich and liberal! No doubt! The light was astounding which broke in upon the young lady’s mind from my intimating that the old viper, the fortune-teller (clairvoyant she calls herself), had betrayed her, and doubtless had received ocular demonstration of the “nice old gentleman’s” liberality. Doubtless there was a five, ten, or twenty dollar sitting! and the “friend of her mother” could well afford to give her sittings free!

Reader, if you doubt that such villanies are daily practised in this city, such “betrayals of confidence,” and “selling of families,” put up “five or ten dollars for a sitting,” almost anywhere, and you can have proof. None of your fifty cents or dollar affairs—those are for the females; but “come down” with the V.’s and X.’s; those bring the “great information.”

Let us “parable” a case.

“A nice, middle-aged gentleman” calls on Madam Blank.

“Here, now, my good woman, take this fee. Tell me a good future. Let her have dark hair and eyes. If it is satisfactory, I double the fee.”

“Call again next week, or in three or four days,” is all the conversation necessary to pass for the first “sitting.”

[Pg 249]Before the expiration of the time, just such a young lady calls. The wily old fortune-teller—too old to sell herself any longer—sells out this, perhaps, unsuspecting lady with black hair and eyes, by mysteriously informing her of a certain nice gentleman whom she will meet at a designated place, at a specified hour, on a particular day! She is very courteous to the girl, asks her nothing for a sitting, has taken a liking to her, worms from her the secrets of her birth, poverty, weaknesses, etc., and, with many smiles and fair promises, bows her out.

She next proceeds to inform the “nice gentleman” that the job is cooked, and the victim is unsuspecting, states where he is to meet her, the signal by which he is to know her; takes the “double fee,” and leaves the rest to the “nice middle-aged (and shrewd) gentleman” to manage for himself.

How many young women in Boston can avouch for the truth of this statement? I doubt not there are very many.

Cui Bono? While I know and confess that there are a few ladies who profess to tell fortunes, find lost property, etc., and who do no greater deception, still, what positive advantage has ever been derived therefrom?


Love Powders and Drops.—French Secret, etc.

I have, by purchase and otherwise, obtained the secret of the compounds of the celebrated “Spanish,” alias “Turkish, Love Powders.” I had previously considered them very harmless preparations. They are quite the reverse. The powder and drops are Spanish flies and blood-root! Sometimes the former are mixed (pulverized) with fine sugar; but the Spanish flies (cantharides), either in powder or liquid, is a very dangerous irritant, a very small dose sometimes producing painful and dangerous strangury. It is far more certain to produce this distressing complaint than to cause any sexual excitement. There may be some harmless powders sold as “love powders,” but I have never seen any.[Pg 250] I have a quantity of the former. Any physician or chemist may see it, who is interested. A few drops of it will produce burning and excoriation of the mouth and stomach, and inflammation of the stomach, liver, and kidneys. And this dangerous stuff is sold by ignorant fortune-tellers to any equally ignorant, credulous creature who may send fifty cents therefor.

The French Secret is only for fools. Reader, you have no occasion for it. It would be of no positive earthly benefit, provided I could so construe language as to explain to you what it is, in this connection. Be assured that you cannot circumvent Nature, except at the expense of health. Qui n’a sante n’a rien.

Druggists’ clerks sometimes sell to boys tincture cantharis for evil purposes.

Hasheesh is another dangerous article, sometimes sold at random, and purchased for no good purpose. A few years since, a great excitement was produced by the young ladies of P—— Female Seminary obtaining and using a quantity of hasheesh. “One girl took five grains, another ten grains. The latter was rendered insensible, and with difficulty restored to consciousness, while the former was rushing around under the peculiar hallucinating effect of the drug, and in a manner bordering on indecency.” I obtained this statement, with more that I cannot publish, from a physician who witnessed the scene.


Does he love me?

Young girls and children are seduced into visiting fortune-tellers. A Boston fortune-teller, in 1871, took a summer tour through Eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. At Manchester, one evening, some one knocked lightly at her reception-room door, when, on her answering the summons, there stood three little girls, of ten or twelve summers.

“Well,” said the lady, “what do you children want?”

[Pg 251]“We came to have our fortunes told,” replied the youngest, drawing her little form up to represent every half inch of her diminutive dimensions. With a smile of incredulity, the lady said, “It costs fifty cents. Besides, you are too small to have a fortune told.”

“We’ve got the money,” replied the little speaker; “and we’re not too little. Why, I am ten, and Jenny, here, is twelve.”




“Well, come in,” replied the fortune-teller. There was a lady present, who also asked what those children came there for.

The girls sat up in some chairs proffered. The younger one was so small that her little feet could not reach the floor, and sitting back in her chair, her little limbs stuck out straight, as such awkward little folks’ will.

[Pg 252]The woman told them something, to seem to cover the money paid. It was not satisfactory, however, and the ten-year-old one put the following questions:—

“Do you think, ma’am, that the young man who is keeping company with me loves me?”

This was a poser, and the woman laughed outright.

“What did she reply?” I asked, shocked, though amused, by the ridiculousness of the whole affair.

“O, Gad, if I know! I was too busy then to listen.”

The next question was more strange than the first:—

“Will the young gentleman marry me, eventually?”

“Doubtless he will when you become older,” was the reply; “and I advise you to think no more about it till you are much older.”

I obtained this item from the third party present, the husband of the fortune-teller.




[Pg 253]



Lord Say. Why, Heaven ne’er made the universe a level.
Some trees are loftier than the rest, some mountains
O’erpeak their fellows, and some planets shine
With brighter ray above the skyey route
Than others. Nay, even at our feet, the rose
Outscents the lily; and the humblest flower
Is noble still o’er meaner plants. And thus
Some men are nobler than the mass, and should,
By nature’s order, shine above their brethren.
Lord Clifford. ’Tis true the noble should; but who is noble?
Heaven, and not heraldry, makes noble men.



It is amusing, as well as instructive, to compare notes on the various circumstances which have led different young men to adopt the science of medicine as their profession.

The advantages of birth and “noble blood” weigh lightly, when thrown into the balance, against circumstances of after life, and its necessities, in ourselves or fellow-creatures. In searching through biographies of famous people, of all ages and countries (to collect a chapter on “Origin of Great[Pg 254] Men”), I am peculiarly convinced of the correctness of this conclusion.

The earlier histories and traits of character—no matter which way they point—of all great men are interesting to review; and yet it is a lamentable fact that the accounts of boyhood days, aspirations, hopes, and struggles, with the many little interesting items and episodes of the youth of most great men are very meagre, and, in many cases, entirely lost to the world.

In the published biographies of physicians this is particularly the case. You read the biography of one, and it will suffice for the whole. It begins something like this:—

“Dr. A. was born in Blanktown, about the year 18—; entered the office of Dr. Bolus, where he studied physic; attended college at Spoon Haven, where he graduated with honors; arrived at eminence in his profession;” and, if defunct, ends, “he died at Mortgrass, and sleeps with his fathers. Requiescat in pace.

In presenting to the public the following little sketches of physicians, I may only say that doctors, of all men, are considered public property, and have suffered more of the public’s kicks and cuffs than any other class of men, from the time when Hercules amused himself by setting up old Dr. Chiron, and shooting poisoned arrows at his vulnerable heel, to the little divertisement of the lovely St. Calvin and his consistory in cooking Michael Servetus, the Spanish physician; to the imprisonment of our army surgeons by their “brethren” of the South, that they might not be instrumental in restoring Union soldiers to the ranks; or the more recent imprisonment of a physician without cause, and the wholesale slaughter of students, in the Isle of Cuba.


The Quaker Surgeon.

Dr. Valentine Mott gave no intimation, in his boyhood days, of the great ability that for a time seemed to lie [Pg 255]dormant within the after-developed, massive, and well-balanced brain of the celebrated surgeon. Except from the fact of his being the son of a country doctor, his schoolmates would as soon have expected to see him turn out a second-rate oyster-man,—suggested by the ominous name of the Bay, at Glen Cove, where Valentine was born,—as to believe that a boy of no more promise would develop into the greatest physician and surgeon of the age! He was reared amongst doctors,—his father, and Dr. Valentine Searnen, and others.

A “plough-boy” is as likely to become an eminent surgeon as is the son of a practising physician. Dr. Willard Parker, one of the most prominent physicians and surgeons of New York city, was born in New Hampshire, in 1802, of humble though most respectable parents. When Willard was but a few years old, his family removed to Middlesex County, Mass., evidently with a hope of bettering their circumstances. Here Mr. Parker entered more fully upon the practical duties of an agricultural life, instructing his son Willard, when not attending the village school, in the mysteries of “Haw, Buck, and gee up, Dobbin.”

Until he was sixteen years old, young Parker was brought up a “plough-boy” and a tiller of the soil. From a “plough-boy” he became the “master” of a village school, “teaching the young idea how to shoot,” which honest pursuit he continued for several years, until he had accumulated sufficient means to enter Harvard. He was a hard-working student, and his books were not thrown aside when he had obtained a diploma, in 1830.... As a lecturer and operator, Dr. Parker has been most successful.... Since the death of Dr. Valentine Mott, in April, 1865, Professor Parker has been elected president of the New York Inebriate Asylum (Binghamton).

 [Pg 256]

An Onondaga Farmer Boy.

Imagine, dear reader, looking back over the space of nearly forty years, that you see an uncouth young man, twenty years of age, clad in the coarse clothes and cowhide boots of an Onondaga farmer, who, straightening up from his laborious task of potato hoeing, stops for a moment, leaning with one hand upon his hoe, while he wipes the sweat from his handsome, intelligent, though sun-burned brow with a cotton handkerchief in the other. Here is a picture for a painter! Now he seems studiously observing the old village doctor, who, seated in his crazy old gig, drawn by his ancient sorrel mare, is leisurely jogging by on the main turnpike.




“Good evening, Stephen; p’taters doin’ well?” says the doctor.

Receiving an affirmative answer, the doctor drives past, and is gone from the sight, but not from the memory, of the young farmer.

“And that is a representative of the science of medicine!”

So saying, the young man “hoed out his row,”—which was his last,—picked up his coat, and returned to the parental mansion, but a few rods distant. This was the turning-point in his life.

[Pg 257]We pass over twenty years or more.

It is operating-day at Bellevue Hospital, in New York city. A very serious and important operation is about to be performed. Three hundred students and physicians are seated in a semicircle under the great dome of the hospital, in profound silence and intense interest, while the professor and attending surgeon is delivering a brief but comprehensive lecture relative to the forthcoming operation.

The speaker is a man of middle age, medium height, deep, expressive eyes, well-developed brow, with that excellent quality of muscle and nerve that is only the result of earlier out-door exercise and development, with calm deportment and modest speech. “His conciseness of expression and quiet self-possession are evident to every beholder, and comprehensive and congenial to every listener.”

Who is this splendid man before whom students and physicians bow in such profound respect and veneration, and to whom even Professors Mott, Parker, Elliott, Clark, etc., give especial attention?

It is Stephen Smith, M. D., once the Onondaga farmer boy!

Says Dr. Francis, of New York, “When a youthful farmer is seen studying the works of learned authors during that portion of the day which is generally set aside for relaxation and pleasing pastime, one may easily predict for him ultimate success in the branch of life that he may choose, provided he follows out the higher instincts of his nature. The same zeal that caused Stephen Smith, farmer, to study at the risk of ease, and meet the fatigue of body with the energies of mind, has ever marked his course in after years.”


Commencing Practice.

From that excellent work, “Scenes in the Practice of a New York Surgeon,” by Dr. E. H. Dixon, I copy, with[Pg 258] some abbreviation, the following, which the author terms “Leaves from the Log-book of an Unfledged Æsculapian:”—

“In the year 1830 I was sent forth, like our long-suffering and much-abused prototype,—old father Noah’s crow,—from the ark of safety, the old St. Duane Street College. I pitched my tent, and set up my trap, in what was then a fashionable up-town street.

“I hired a modest house, and had my arm-chair, my midnight couch, and my few books in my melancholy little office, and I confess that I now and then left an amputating-knife, or some other awful-looking instrument, on the table, to impress the poor women who came to me for advice.

“These little matters, although the ‘Academy’ would frown upon them, I considered quite pardonable. God knows I would willingly have adopted their most approved method of a splendid residence, and silver-mounted harnesses for my bays; but they were yet in dream-land, eating moonbeams, and my vicious little nag had nearly all this time to eat his oats and nurse his bad temper in his comfortable stable.

“In this miserable way I read over my old books, watered my rose-bushes,—sometimes with tears,—drank my tea and ate my toast, and occasionally listened to the complaint of an unfortunate Irish damsel, with her customary account of ‘a pain in me side an’ a flutterin’ about me heart.’ At rare intervals I ministered to some of her countrywomen in their fulfilment of the great command when placed in the Garden of Eden. (What a dirty place it would have been if inhabited by Irish women!)

“And thus I spent nearly a year without a single call to any person of character. I think I should have left in despair if it had not been for a lovely creature up the street. She was the wife of a distinguished fish merchant down town.

“This lovely woman was Mrs. Mackerel. I will explain[Pg 259] how it was that I was summoned to her ladyship’s mansion, and had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Mackerel, of the firm of ‘Mackerel, Haddock & Dun.’

“One bitter cold night in January, just as I was about to retire, a furious ring at the front door made me feel particularly amiable! A servant announced the sudden and alarming illness of Mrs. Mackerel, with the assurance that as the family physician was out of town, Mrs. M. would be obliged if I would immediately visit her. Accordingly, I soon found myself in the presence of the accomplished lady, having—I confess it—given my hair an extra touch as I entered the beautiful chamber.

“Mrs. Mackerel was not a bad-tempered lady; she was only a beautiful fool—nothing less, dear reader, or she would have never married old Mackerel. Her charms would have procured her a husband of at least a tolerable exterior. His physiognomy presented a remarkable resemblance to his namesake. Besides, he chewed and smoked, and the combination of the aroma of his favorite luxuries with the articles of his merchandise must have been most uncongenial to the curve of such lips and such nostrils as Mrs. Mackerel’s.

“I was received by Mr. Mackerel in a manner that increased observation has since taught me is sufficiently indicative of the hysterical finale of a domestic dialogue. He was not so obtuse as to let me directly into the true cause of his wife’s nervous attack and his own collectedness, and yet he felt it would not answer to make too light of it before me.

“Mr. and Mrs. M. had just returned from a party. (The party must be the ‘scape-goat’!) He assured me that as the lady was in the full enjoyment of health previously, he felt obliged to attribute the cause of her attack and speechless condition—for she spoke not one word, or gave a sign—to the dancing, heated room, and the supper.

“I was fully prepared to realize the powers of ice-cream,[Pg 260] cake, oranges, chicken-salad, oysters, sugar-plums, punch, and champagne, and at one moment almost concluded to despatch a servant for an emetic of ipecac; but—I prudently avoided it. Aside from the improbability of excess of appetite through the portal of such a mouth, the lovely color of the cheeks and lips utterly forbade a conclusion favorable to Mr. Mackerel’s solution of the cause.

“I placed my finger on her delicate and jewelled wrist. All seemed calm as the thought of an angel’s breast!

“I was nonplussed. ‘Could any tumultuous passion ever have agitated that bosom so gently swelling in repose?’

“Mackerel’s curious questions touching my sagacity as to his wife’s condition received about as satisfactory a solution as do most questions put to me on the cause and treatment of diseases; and having tolerably befogged him with opinions, and lulled his suspicions to rest, by the apparent innocent answers to his leading questions, he arrived at the conclusion most desirable to him, viz., that I was a fool—a conviction quite necessary in some nervous cases....

“So pleased was Mr. M. with the soothing influences of my brief visit that he very courteously waited on me to the outside door, instead of ordering a servant to show me out, and astonished me by desiring me to call on the patient again in the morning.

“After my usual diversion of investigating ‘a pain an’ a flutterin’ about me heart,’ and an ‘O, I’m kilt intirely,’ I visited Mrs. Mackerel, and had the extreme pleasure of finding her quite composed, and in conversation with her fashionable friend, Mrs. Tiptape. The latter was the daughter of a ‘retired milliner,’ and had formed a desirable union with Tiptape, the eminent dry goods merchant. Fortunately—for she was a woman of influence—I passed the critical examination of Mrs. T. unscathed by her sharp black eyes, and, as the sequel will show, was considered by her ‘quite an agreeable person.’

[Pg 261]“Poor Mrs. Mackerel, notwithstanding her efforts to conceal it, had evidently received some cruel and stunning communication from her husband on the night of my summons; her agitated circulation during the fortnight of my attendance showed to my conviction some persistent and secret cause for her nervousness.

“One evening she assured me that she felt she should now rapidly recover, as Mr. Mackerel had concluded to take her to Saratoga. I, of course, acquiesced in the decision, though my previous opinion had not been asked. I took a final leave of the lovely woman, and the poor child soon departed for Saratoga.

“The ensuing week there was a sheriff’s sale at Mackerel’s residence. The day following the Mackerels’ departure, Mr. Tiptape did me the honor to inquire after the health of my family; and a week later, Master Tiptape having fallen and bumped his dear nose on the floor, I had the felicity of soothing the anguish of his mamma in her magnificent boudoir, and holding to her lovely nose the smelling salts, and offering such consolation as her trying position required!”

Thus was commenced the practice of one of the first physicians of New York. The facts are avouched for. The names, of course, are manufactured, to cover the occupation of the parties. The doctor still lives, in the enjoyment of a lucrative and respectable practice, and the love and confidence of his numerous friends and patrons.

Quite as ludicrous scenes could be revealed by most physicians, if they would but take the time to think over their earlier efforts, and the various circumstances which were mainly instrumental in getting them into a respectable practice.


How Professor Eberle started.

The young man who has just squeezed through a medical college, and come out with his “sheepskin,” who thinks all[Pg 262] he then has to do is to put up his sign, and forthwith he will have a crowd of respectable patients, is to be pitied for his verdancy. The great Professor John Eberle “blessed his stars” when, after graduating as “Doctor of Medicine” in the University of Pennsylvania, and making several unsuccessful attempts at practice in Lancaster County, he received the appointment as physician of the “out-door poor” of Philadelphia. After that, his writings, attracting public attention, were mostly contributive to his success and advancement.

Energy and determination are better property than even scholastic lore and a medical diploma, for unless you possess the former, talent and education fall to the earth.

Dr. William P. Dewees, formerly Professor of Obstetrics in the University of Pennsylvania, the celebrated author, physician, and surgeon, practised seventeen years before he obtained a diploma. He was of Swedish descent on his father’s side, and Irish on his mother’s. His father died in very limited circumstances, when William was a boy; hence he received no collegiate education until such time as he could earn means, by his own efforts, to pay for that coveted desideratum. We find him, with an ordinary school education, serving as an apothecary’s clerk, a student of medicine, and at the early age of twenty-one years trying to practise medicine in a country town fourteen miles from Philadelphia. Young Dewees possessed great talent and energy, but his personal appearance was scarcely such, at that early age, as to inspire the stoical country folks with the requisite confidence to speedily intrust him with their precious lives and more cherished coppers!

“He was scarcely of medium stature, florid complexion, brown hair, and was remarkably youthful in his appearance,” says Professor Hodge, M. D.

I have before me an excellent likeness “of the embryo professor,” which admirably corresponds with the description[Pg 263] given above; but though “youthful,” yea, bordering on “greenness,” I can read in that frank, intelligent countenance the lines of deep thought, and a soul burning with desire for greater knowledge. The too florid countenance and narrow nostrils are sure indications of a consumptive predisposition. Dr. Dewees died May 30, 1841. He was well read in French and Latin, and also various sciences.


A hard Starting.

Sketch of Western Practice.—The following interesting sketch is from the able pen of Dr. Richmond, of Ohio, now a wealthy and eminent M. D. It was originally contributed, if I mistake not, to the “Scalpel.”

“I set myself down with my household goods in a land of strangers. How I was to procure bread, or what I was to do, were shrouded in the mysterious future. Memory came to my consolation; for, in spite of myself, the ‘Diary of a London Physician,’ read in other days, came, with its racy pictures, flitting before my mind’s eye; and I knew not but I, too, might yet wish myself, my Mary, and my child sleeping in the cold grave, to hide me from the persecution that seemed to follow me with such sleepless vigilance....

“My store of old watches now came into play. A gentleman wishing to sell out his land, I invested all the wealth I possessed in the purchase of a ten-acre lot, shouldered my axe, and by the aid of a brother I soon prepared logs for the mill sufficient to erect me a small dwelling. I never was happier than when preparing the ground and splitting the blocks of sandstone for the foundation of my house. One customer, whose wife I had carried through a lingering fever, furnished me a frame for a dwelling, and I fell in his debt for a pair of boots. Another furnished nails and glass, and in the course of eight months I moved into my new house.

“For two years I fed my cow, and raised my own provender to feed my gallant nag, which shared my toil and its[Pg 264] profits. My first two years’ labor barely returned sufficient profit to pay for my home and feed my little family.

“My nag had died, and the terrible drought of 1846 forced me to relinquish the horse I had hired, and for five months I performed all my visits on foot, often travelling from six to ten miles to see one patient....

“These were trying times; but what if the elements were unpropitious? I had food and shelter for myself and family,—blessings about which I had often been in doubt,—and I was fully prepared to let ‘the heathen rage, and the people imagine’ what they chose!... The first winter was one of great severity; the weather was very changeable, and the most awful snow-storms were often succeeded by heavy rains, and the roads so horrid as to be impassable on horseback or in carriages. I had a patient five miles distant, sick with lung fever, and, in an attendance of forty days I made thirty journeys on foot (three hundred miles to attend one patient!) His recovery added much to my reputation, and I received for my services a new cloak and coat, which I much needed, and a hive of honey bees!...

“An old horse which I again hired of a friend had a polite way of limping, and was a source of much merriment among my patrons. I persistently attributed what they deemed a fault entirely to the politeness of the quadruped; and this nag, with my plain and rustic appearance, endeared me to the laboring population, and thus my calamities became my greatest friends. My fortune changed, and the experience and name I had acquired now came in as capital in trade, and a flood of ‘luck’ soon followed.”


Abernethy’s Boyhood.

Seated upon the outside of an ancient London stage-coach, to which were attached four raw-boned, old horses, just ready to start for Wolverhaven one pleasant afternoon, you may easily imagine, kind reader,—for it is a fact,—a[Pg 265] chubby-faced, commonplace little boy, some ten years old, with another like youthful companion,—“two Londoners,”—while comfortably ensconced within, in one corner of the vehicle, is a large, stern-looking old gentleman, in “immense wig and ruffled shirt.”




The stage-horn is sounded, the driver cracks his whip, the sleepy old nags wake up, the coach rocks from side to side, and in a moment more the team is off for its destination.

Why! the reader is readily reminded of the scene of “Old Squeers,” taking the wretched little boys down to his “Academy,” in Yorkshire, “where youth were boarded, clothed, furnished with pocket-money,” and taught everything, from “writing to trigonometry,” “arithmetic to astronomy,”[Pg 266] languages of the “living and dead” and “diet unparalleled!” Nevertheless it is another case, far before “Old Squeers” time.

The elderly gentleman, in top-wig and immense ruffles, was Dr. Robertson, teacher of Wolverhampton Grammar School, and the chubby little boy was Master John Abernethy. Who the “other boy” was is not known, as he never made his mark in after life. Says Dr. Macilwain,—

“We can quite imagine a little boy, careless in his dress, not slovenly, however, with both hands in his trousers pockets, some morning about the year 1774, standing under the sunny side of the wall at Wolverhampton School; his pockets containing, perhaps, a few shillings, some ha’pence, a knife with the point broken, a pencil, together with a tolerably accurate sketch of ‘Old Robertson’s wig,’—which article, shown in an accredited portrait now before us, was one of those enormous by-gone bushes, which represented a sort of impenetrable fence around the cranium, as if to guard the precious material within; the said boy just finishing a story to his laughing companions, though no sign of mirth appeared in him, save the least curl of the lip, and a smile that would creep out of the corner of his eye in spite of himself.”




“The doctor” was represented as being a passionate man.[Pg 267] Squeers again! One day young Abernethy had to do some Greek Testament, when his glib translation aroused the suspicion of the watchful old doctor, who discovered the ‘crib’ in a Greek-Latin version, partially secreted under the boy’s desk. No sooner did the doctor make this discovery than with his doubled fist he felled the culprit with one blow to the earth. Squeers again!

“‘Why, what an old plagiarist Mr. Dickens must have been!’ you exclaim.

“But the case in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ is worse, far worse, for ‘the little boy sitting on the trunk only sneezed.’

“‘Hallo, sir,’ growled the schoolmaster (Squeers), ‘what’s that?’

“‘Nothing, sir,’ replied the little boy.

“‘Nothing, sir!’ exclaimed Squeers.

“‘Please, sir, I sneezed!’ rejoined the boy, trembling till the little trunk shook under him.

“‘O, sneezed, did you?’ retorted Mr. Squeers. ‘Then what did you say “Nothing” for, sir?’

“In default of a better answer to this question, the little boy screwed a couple of knuckles into his eyes, and began to cry; wherefore Mr. Squeers knocked him off the trunk with a blow on one side of the head, and knocked him on again with a blow on the other.”

Robertson was a fact; Squeers was a fable. That’s the difference.

As Dr. Robertson taught neither arithmetic nor writing in his school, the pupils went to King Street, to a Miss Ready, to receive instruction in those branches. This lady, if report is true, wielded the quill and cowhide with equal grace and mercy, and when the case came to hand, did not accept the modern advice, to “spare the boy and spoil the rod.”

When the great surgeon was at the height of his fame, in London, many years afterwards, Miss Ready, still rejoicing[Pg 268] in “single blessedness,” called on her former pupil. In introducing his respected and venerable teacher to his wife, Abernethy laconically remarked, “I beg to introduce you to a lady who has boxed my ears many a time.”

An old schoolmate, when eighty-five years old, wrote to the author of “Memoirs of Abernethy,” saying, among other things, “In sports he took the first place, and usually made a strong side; was quick and active, and soon learned a new game.”

It was contrary to his own desire that John Abernethy became a physician. “Had my father let me be a lawyer, I should have known by heart every act of Parliament,” he repeatedly affirmed.

This was not bragging, as the following anecdote will illustrate:—

On a birthday anniversary of Mrs. Abernethy, mother of John, a gentleman recited a long copy of verses, which he had composed for the occasion.

“Ah,” said young Abernethy, “that is a good joke, pretending you have written these verses in honor of my mother. Why, sir, I know those lines well, and can say them by heart.”

“It is quite impossible, as no one has seen the copy but myself,” rejoined the gentleman, the least annoyed by the accusation of plagiarism.

Upon this Abernethy arose, and repeated them throughout, correctly, to the no small discomfiture of the author. Abernethy had remembered them by hearing the gentleman recite them but once!

“A boy thwarted in his choice of a profession is generally somewhat indifferent as to the course next presented to him.” Residing next door neighbor to Abernethy’s father was Dr. Charles Blicke, a surgeon in extensive practice. This was very convenient. Sir Charles is represented as having been quick-sighted enough to discover that “the Abernethy boy”[Pg 269] was clever, a good scholar, and withal a “sharp fellow.” Thus, between the indifference of the parent, and the selfishness of the surgeon, the would-be lawyer, John Abernethy, was apprenticed to the “barber-surgeon” for five years. He was then but fifteen years of age.

“All that young Abernethy probably knew of Sir Charles was, that he rode about in a fine carriage, saw a great many people, and took a great many fees; all of which, though presenting no further attractions for Abernethy, made a prima facie case not altogether repulsive.”

We must not forget to mention that young Abernethy was of a very inquiring mind. “When I was a boy,” he said in after years, “I half ruined myself in buying oranges and sweetmeats, in order to ascertain the effects of different kinds of diet on diseases.”

Whether he tried said “oranges and other things” on himself or some unfortunate victim, my informant saith not; but I leave the reader to decide by his own earlier appetites and experiences. “When I was a boy,” I think is significant of the probabilities that it was his own digestive organs that were “half ruined.”

Be it as it may, it reminds me of the case of a little country boy, who, on his first advent to the city on a holiday, was chaperoned by his somewhat older and sharper city cousin,—“one of the b’hoy’s,”—who exercised a sort of vigilance over the uninitiated rustic, that the little fellow might not surfeit himself by too great a rapacity for peanuts, gingerbread, candies, and oranges, often generously sharing the danger by partaking largely of the small boy’s purchases in order to spare his more delicate stomach.

Finding the ignorant little rustic about to devour a nice-looking orange, his cousin pounced upon him just in time to prevent the rash act.

“Here, Sammy; don’t you know that is one of the nastiest and most indigestiblest things you could put into your stomach? Give it here!”

[Pg 270]Rustic, whose faith in the wisdom of his maturer cousin, though very great, was yet quite counterbalanced by the sweets in the orange, slightly held back, when the other continued,—

“Leastwise, Sammy, let’s have a hold of it, and suck the abominable juice out for you.”

(For this digression I beg the pardon of the reader; for the idea I thank Frank Leslie.)

George Macilwain, M. D., F. R. C. S., etc., in prefacing the life of the great London surgeon, gives a brief and interesting sketch of his own boyhood, also his early impressions of Abernethy, and his first attendance on his lectures.

“My father practised on the border of a forest, and when he was called at night to visit a distant patient, it was the greatest treat to me, when a little boy, to be allowed to saddle my pony and accompany him. I used to wonder what he could find so ‘disagreeable’ in that which was to me the greatest possible pleasure; for whether we were skirting a bog on the darkest night, or cantering over the heather by moonlight, I certainly thought there could be nobody happier than I and my pony. It was on one of these occasions that I first heard the name of ‘Abernethy.’ The next distinct impression I have of him was derived from hearing father say that a lady patient of his had gone up to London to have an operation performed by Dr. Abernethy, though my father did not think the operation necessary to a cure, and that Abernethy entirely agreed with him; that the operation was not performed; that he sent the lady back, and she was recovering. This gave me a notion that Dr. Abernethy must be a good man, as well as a great physician.

“As long as surgery meant riding across the forest with my father, holding his horse, or, if he stopped in too long, seeing if his horse rode as well as my pony, I thought it a very agreeable occupation; but when I found that it included many other things not so agreeable, I soon discovered that there was a profession I liked much better....

[Pg 271]“Disappointed in being allowed to follow the pursuit I had chosen, I looked on the one I was about to adopt with something approximating to repulsion; and thus one afternoon, about the year 1816, and somewhat to my own surprise, I found myself walking down Holborn Hill on my way to Dr. Abernethy’s lecture at St. Bartholomew’s.

“When Dr. Abernethy entered, I was pleased with the expression of his countenance. I almost fancied he sympathized with the melancholy with which I felt oppressed. At first I listened with some attention; as he proceeded, I began even to feel pleasure; as he progressed, I found myself entertained; and before he concluded, I was delighted. What an agreeable, happy man he seems! What a fine profession! What wouldn’t I give to know as much as he does! Well, I will see what I can do. In short, I was converted.”

All who ever heard him lecture agree that Dr. Abernethy had a most happy way of addressing students. Notwithstanding he has often been represented as rough in his every-day intercourse with men, he was easy, mild, and agreeable in the lecture-hall, and kind and compassionate in the operating-room.

After having carefully studied all that has been written respecting his style and manner as a lecturer and delineator, and also studiously listened to and watched the ways and peculiarities of our most excellent lecturer on anatomy at Harvard, I find many striking resemblances between Dr. Abernethy and Professor Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“The position of Abernethy was always easy and natural, sometimes almost homely. In the anatomical lecture he always stood, and either leaned against the wall, with his arms folded before him, or rested one hand on the table; sometimes one hand in his pocket. In his surgical lecture he usually sat. He was particularly happy in a kind of cosiness, or friendliness of manner, which seemed to identify him with his audience, as if we were about to investigate[Pg 272] something interesting together, and not as though we were going to be ‘lectured at,’ at all. His voice seldom rose above what we term the conversational, and was always pleasing in quality, and enlivened by a sort of archness of expression.”

He always kept his eye on the audience, except slightly turning to one side to explain a diagram or subject, “turning his back on no man.”

“He had no offensive habits. We have known lecturers who never began without making faces;” we might add, “and with many a hem and haw, or nose-blowing.”

“Not long ago we heard a very sensible lecturer, and a very estimable man, produce a most ludicrous effect by the above. He had been stating very clearly some important facts, and he then observed,—

“‘The great importance of these I will now proceed to show—’ when he immediately began to apply his pocket-handkerchief most vigorously to his nose, still facing his audience.”

The ludicrousness of this “illustration” may well be imagined. Of course the students lost their gravity, and laughed and cheered vigorously.

Going in to hear Dr. Holmes lecture, at one o’clock one afternoon, recently, the writer was both shocked and astonished, on the occasion of the professor slipping in a pleasing innuendo, by hearing the students cheer with their hands, and stamp with their thick boots on the seats.

I shall have occasion to refer to this splendid man, the pleasing lecturer, the skilful operator, the able author, the ripe scholar, the pride of Harvard and the state,—Dr. O. W. Holmes,—in another chapter.

 [Pg 273]

The homeless Student.

(Scene from the Early Life of a Boston Physician. By permission.)

Standing on the steps of the Astor House, New York, one cheerless forenoon in early June, with my carpet-bag in one hand and my fresh medical diploma in the other, with a heavy weight of sorrow at my heart, and only sixteen cents in my pocket, I presented, to myself at least, a picture of such utter despair as words are inadequate to express.[4]

My home—no; I had none—the home, rather, of my kind old father-in-law, where dwelt, for the time being, my wife and child, was many hundred miles away. And how was I to reach it? I could not walk that distance, and sixteen cents would not carry me there. I looked up Broadway, and I looked down towards the Battery. I was alone amid an immense sea of humans, which ebbed and flowed continually past me. O, how wistfully I looked to see if there might be one face amongst the throng which I might recognize! but there was none. Strange, passing strange, not one of that host did I ever gaze upon before! Where—how—should I raise the money necessary to take me from this land of strangers?

“Pinny, sir? Just one pinny. Me father is broken up, and me mither is sick at home. For God’s sake give me jist one pinny to buy me some bread.”

I turned my gaze upon the picture of squalor and wretchedness just by my side. I need not describe her; she was just like a thousand others in that great Babel.

“Here is doubtless a case of distress, but it is not of the heart, like mine. Such poor have no heart. Skin, muscle, head, stomach! heart, none!”

“Where is your father, did you say?” I asked, mechanically.

“In the Slarter-house; broken up from a fall from a[Pg 274] stagin’ in Twenty-sixth Street, sir,” replied the beggar-girl, still extending her hand for a penny.

“What is he doing in a slaughter-house, sis?” I inquired.

“The Slarter-house is Bellyvew horse-pittle, sir; that’s what we Irish call it, sir. Will ye give me the pinny, sir?”




“O, yes, to be sure. Here are pennies for you. Go!”

I knew of a poor Irishman who was brought in there at the hospital a few days before badly “broken up” from a fall on Twenty-sixth Street. His name was John Murphy; they are all named Murphy, or something similar; so it was useless to ask the child her father’s name—probably it would have been Murphy.

The conversation had the good effect of arousing me from my lethargy to action. I must not stay in this metropolis[Pg 275] and starve. I could not remain and beg, like the Irish girl.

I went to Professor ——, the dean, and requested him to take back my diploma, and let me have sufficient money to carry me home. He complied—God bless him!—and I took the Sound steamer that afternoon for the land of my nativity. What cared I if I was a second-class passenger; I would in two days see my wife and my child!


I had reached home, and was in the bosom of my family once more, and amongst my friends, in a Christian land; for which I “thanked God, and took courage.”

“Then pledged me the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
Ne’er from my home and my weeping friends to part;
My children kissed me a thousand times o’er;
My wife sobbed aloud in her fullness of heart.”

I had a “call” to practise in a country town twenty-five miles from E——, where my family was to remain a few days till I had secured a house to cover their heads amongst the good friends who were to become my future patrons, as a few of them had been previous to my going to college. The stage, a one-horse affair, called for my trunk, medicine-case, etc., and, having no money with which to pay my fare, I told the driver that “I would walk along,” while he picked up another passenger in an opposite direction, “and if he overtook me on the road before I got a ride with some one going to S——, he could take me in.”

I walked bravely along a mile or more, and, hearing the stage coming, I stepped from the road-side, secreting myself beneath a friendly tree till he drove past. Issuing from my hiding-place, I trudged along till noon. My darling little wife had taken the precaution to place in my oversack pocket some doughnuts and cheese, and, when I had reached a clear, running brook, I sat myself down upon a log, under the shade[Pg 276] of the woods, and partook of my very frugal meal, quenching my thirst from the waters of the brook, which, like Diogenes, I raised in the hollow of my hand.

Thus refreshed, I picked up my overcoat, and again walked along. Before dark I reached S——, pretty tired and foot-sore from such a long walk.




The people, who were expecting me, were much surprised at my non-arrival in the mail; but the unsophisticated driver assured them I had probably secured a ride ahead of him, and I would put in an appearance before nightfall.

About midnight the door-bell rang,—I stopped at the hotel that night,—and a young gentleman asked for Dr. C. I answered the call at once, which was to the daughter of one of the most influential citizens of the place. The young man who called me was her intended. They had been to a party, and she had partaken freely of oysters, milk, and pickles.

Never did fifteen grains of ipecac prove a greater friend to[Pg 277] me than it did on that occasion; and in an hour I was back to bed again.

The news of the new doctor’s arrival, fresh from a New York college, and his first “remarkable cure of the post-master’s daughter” that same night, spread like wildfire, and my reputation was nearly established.




[Pg 278]



“Save and defend us from our ghostly enemies.”—Common Prayer.



Is it not quite time—I appeal to the sensible reader—that such folly was expunged from our literature? What is a ghost? Who ever saw, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled one? Must a person possess some miraculous quality of perception beyond the five senses commonly allotted to man in order to become cognizant of a ghostly presence?




What stupid folly is ghost belief! Yet there are very many individuals in this enlightened day and generation, who, from perverted spirituality, or great credulousness, will accept a ghost story, or a “spiritual revelation,” without wincing.

It would seem that many great men of the past, as Calvin,[Pg 279] Bacon, Milton, Dante, Lords Byron and Nelson, Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth, and others, believed in the existence of ghosts and spirits on this mundane sphere.

There are but two classes who believe in ghosts, viz., the ignorant as one class, and persons with large or perverted spirituality—phrenologically speaking—as the other. These are the believers in dreams, in ghosts, in spirits, and fortune-telling. These, too, are the religious (?) fanatics, etc.


The Origin of the word Ghost

is curious.

“The first significance of the word, as well as ‘spirit,’ is breath, or wind.” It is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from gust, the wind. Hence, a gust of wind. The Irish word goath, wind, comes nearer to the modern English pronunciation, and shows how easily it could have been corrupted to ghost.

It is easy to imagine the good old Saxon ladies, sitting around the evening fireside, and just as one of them has finished some marvellous story of that superstitious age, they are startled by a sudden blast of wind, sweeping around the gabled cottage, and her listeners exclaim, in suppressed breath,—

“Hark! There’s a fearful gust!”

The transit from gust to ghost is easily done. The clothes spread upon the bushes without, or pinned to the lines, flapping in the night air, are seen through the shutterless windows, and they become the object of attraction. The effect supersedes the cause, and the clothes become the gust, goath, or ghost! The clothes, necessarily, must be white, or they could not be seen in the night time! Hence a ghost is always clothed in white. Therefore the wind (gust) is no longer the ghost, but any white object seen moving in the night air.

 [Pg 280]



“But I am a wandering ghost—
I am an idle breath,
That the sweets of the things now lost
Are haunting unto death.
Pity me out in the cold,
Never to rest any more,
Because of my share in the purple and gold,
Lost from the world’s great store.

“I whirl through empty space,
A hapless, hurried ghost;
For me there is no place—
I’m weary, wandering, lost.
Safe from the night and cold,
All else is sheltered—all,
From the sheep at rest in the fold,
To the black wasp on the wall.”

Moffat says that a tribe of Caffres formerly employed the word Morino to designate the Supreme Being; but as they[Pg 281] sank into savagery, losing the idea of God, it came to mean only a fabulous ghost, of which they had great terror.

Having briefly shown the folly of the existence of the word in our vocabulary, I will proceed to explode a few of the best authenticated—so called—“ghost stories;” and if I leave anything unexplained in ghostology, let the reader attribute it to either my want of space in which to write so much, or the neglect of my early education in the dead languages.


The Ghost of the Camp.

I obtained the following story from one of the sentries:—

At Portsmouth, R. I., there was a camp established during the late war, 186-. There was a graveyard in one corner of the enclosed grounds, where several soldier-boys had been buried from the hospital, and here a guard was nightly stationed.

Of course there were many stories told around the campfires, of ghosts and spirits that flitted about the mounds at the dead hours of the night, circulated particularly to frighten those stationed at that point on picket duty.

The body of a soldier had recently been exhumed and placed in a new and more respectable coffin than the pine box coffin furnished by Uncle Sam, in which he had been buried, and the old one was left on the ground.

Partly to protect himself from the inclemency of the weather, and quite as much to show his utter disregard of all ghostly visitors, my informant secured the old pine coffin, “washed it out, though it was impossible to remove all the stains,” and, driving a stake firmly into the ground, he stood the coffin on one end, and, removing the lid, used to stand therein on rainy nights.

“When it did not rain, I turned it down, and my companion and myself used to sit on the bottom.

“One day a soldier-boy had died in the hospital, and his[Pg 282] friends came to take the body home for Christian burial. It was necessary to remove him in a sheet to the place where they had an elegant casket, bought by his wealthy friends, to receive the remains.

“That very night I was on duty with my friend Charley S., when, near midnight, seated upon the empty coffin, with my gun resting against the side, and my head resting in the palms of my hands, I fell into a drowse.




“Waking up suddenly, I saw something white through the darkness before me; for it was a fearfully dark night, I assure you. I rubbed my sleepy eyes to make sure of my sight, and took another look. I discerned a form, higher than a man, moving about over the mounds but a few yards distant. It had wide side-wings, but they did not seem to assist in the motion of the body part, which did not reach to the ground. I thought I must be asleep, and actually pinched my legs to awake myself before I took a final look at his ghostship. There he stood, stock still. I listened for my companion, without removing my eyes from the white object before me. Still I was not scared, but meant to see it out. I knew I could not see a man far through that impenetrable darkness, for there were no stars nor moon to reveal him. I would not call for help, for if it was a farce to scare me, I should become the laughing-stock of the whole camp.

 [Pg 283]


[Pg 284] 

[Pg 285]“Just then I heard the grass crackle, and I knew Charley was approaching in the rear. Still there hung the apparition. I arose from the coffin, my eyes fixed on the object before me, picked up my musket, took deliberate aim at the centre of the thing, and just as I cocked my rifle, I heard Charley set back the hammer of his ‘death-dealer.’ He, too, had discovered the very remarkable appearance, whatever it was; and now the guns of two ‘unfailing shots’ covered the object. In another second it had suddenly disappeared! I then spoke, and we ran forward, but found nothing! Where had it gone so very suddenly? It had vanished without sight or sound. We gave up the search; but still I did not believe we had seen anything supernatural.

“There was no little discussion in camp on the following day on the subject. Charley said but little. I could not explain the remarkable phenomenon, and a splendid ghost story was about established, in spite of me, before the mystery became unravelled.

“A tall fellow, who worked about the hospital, and who assisted in taking away the corpse, was returning with the sheet, when he thought he would give the sentry a scare from his coffin by throwing the sheet over his head and stretching out his arms like wings. His clothes being black, his legs did not show; hence the appearance of a white object floating in the air. Hearing the guns cocked, he instantly jerked the sheet from his head; winding it up, he turned and ran away. This accounted for it becoming so instantaneously invisible.

“‘Yes,’ said the sentry, ‘and in a second more you would have been made a ghost!’”

 [Pg 286]

Raising the Dead.

The Nagles Family.—The following remarkable and ridiculous affair transpired in a village where the writer once resided. The Nagleses were Irish. The family consisted of old Nagles, his wife,—who did washing for my mother,—John Tom and Tom John, besides Mary. The reason of having the boys named as above was, that in case either died, the sainted names would still be in the family. This was old Mrs. Nagles’ explanation of the matter.

The old man worked about the wharves, wheeled wood and carried coal, and did such like jobs during summer, and chopped wood in the winter. I well remember of hearing stories of his greenness when he first came to town. He was early employed to wheel wood on board a coaster lying at the dock. The captain told him to wheel a load down the plank, cry “Under!” to the men in the hold, and tip down the barrow of wood. All went well till old Nagles got to the stopping-place, over the hold, when he dumped down the load, and cried out, “Stand ferninst, there, down cellar!” to the imminent peril of breaking the heads of the wood-stevedores below.




I well remember also the first appearance of the two boys at the village school one winter.

“What is your name?” inquired the master of the eldest.

“Me name, is it? John Tom Nagles, sir, is me name, and who comes after is the same.”

He always was called by us boys “John Tom Nagles, sir,” thenceforward. He certainly was the rawest specimen I ever met.

[Pg 287]One day the old man was wheeling wood on board a vessel. It was at low water, and there was a distance of sixteen feet from the plank to the bottom of the vessel’s hold. The poor old fellow, by some mishap or neglect, let go the barrow, when he called, “Stand ferninst, there, below!” when wood, barrow, and old Mr. Nagles, all went down together. By the fall he broke his neck. I never shall forget the awful lamentation set up by the combined voices of the poor old woman, John Tom, Tom John, and Mary, as they followed the corpse, borne on a wagon, past our house, on the way from the vessel to the Nagles’ residence.




On the following day great preparations were made to “wake” the old gentleman according to the most approved fashion in the old country. There were many Irish living—staying, at least—in that town, and large quantities of pipes, tobacco, and whiskey were bought up, and the whole[Pg 288] town knew that a “powerful time” was anticipated by the Irish who were invited to old Nagles’ wake. It was an unusual occurrence, and several boys and young men of the village went to the locality of the Nagles’ house to get a look upon the scene when it got under full pressure. I certainly should have been there had not my parents forbidden me to go, and I regret the inability to give my personal testimony to the truth of the statement of what followed, as I do to what preceded, as related above.




“When the wake was at its height, the room full of tobacco smoke, and the jovial mourners full of Irish whiskey,—strychnine and fusel oil,—there was an alarm of fire in the[Pg 289] neighborhood. There was a grand rush from the room, as well as from the windows where stood the listeners, and only one old and drunken woman remained to watch the corpse. The door was left open, and some of the young men outside, thinking it a good opportunity to play a joke on the drunken party, ran into the room, and, seeing only the old woman, who was too drunk to offer any objections, they removed the body from the board, depositing it behind the boxes on which the board was laid, and one of their number took the place of the corpse, barely having time to draw the sheet over his face, when the ‘wakers’ returned.

“The candles burned dimly through the hazy atmosphere of the old room, and no one noticed the change. The pipes were relighted, the whiskey freely passed, and finally one fellow proposed to offer the corpse a lighted pipe and a glass of whiskey, ‘for company’s sake, through purgatory.’

“Suiting the action to the word, he approached, attempted to raise the head of the ‘lively corpse,’ and thrust the nasty pipe between his teeth.

“The young man ‘playing corpse’ was no smoker, and in infinite disgust he motioned the fellow away, who, too drunk to notice it, stuck the pipe in his face, saying, ‘Here, ould man, take a shmoke for your ghost’s sake.’

“‘Bah! Git away wid the div’lish nasty thing,’ exclaimed the young man, rising and sitting up in the coffin.

“There was an instantaneous stampede from the room of every waker who was capable of rising to his legs, followed by the fellow in the sheet, who, dropping the ghostly covering at the door, mingled with the rabble, and was not recognized. The priest and the doctor were speedily summoned. The former arrived, heard, outside the house, the wonderful story, and then proceeded to lay the spirit by sprinkling holy water on the door-stone, thence into the room. By this time the smoke had sufficiently subsided to allow a view of the room, when the stiff, frigid body of old[Pg 290] Nagles was discovered on the floor, where ‘it had fallen,’ as they supposed, ‘in attempting to walk.’ Of course the doctor ridiculed the idea of a stark, cold body rising and speaking; but the Irish, to this day, believe old Nagles, for that once, refused a pipe and a glass of whiskey. The few young men dared not divulge the secret, and it never leaked out till the entire family of Nagles had gone to parts unknown.”




I find a great many ghost stories in books, which are not explained; but since the writer knows nothing of their authenticity, nor the persons with whom they were connected, they are unworthy of notice here.

 [Pg 291]

The Ghost of Cæsar at Philippi.

Dr. Robert Macnish, of Glasgow, in his “Philosophy of Sleep,” says, “No doubt the apparition of Cæsar which appeared to Brutus, and declared it would meet him at Philippi, was either a dream or a spectral illusion—probably the latter. Brutus, in all likelihood, had some idea that the great battle which was to decide his fate would be fought at Philippi. Probably it was a good military position, which he had in his mind fixed upon as a fit place to make a final stand; and he had done enough to Cæsar to account for his mind being painfully and constantly engrossed with the image of the assassinated dictator. Hence the verification of this supposed warning; hence the easy explanation of a supposed supernatural event.”

“The ghost of Byron” may help to verify the above. Sir Walter Scott was engaged in his study at Abbotsford, not long after the death of Lord Byron, at about the twilight hour, in reading a sketch of the deceased poet. The room was quiet, his thoughts were intensely centred upon the person of his departed friend, when, as he laid down the volume, as he could see to read no longer, and passed into the hall, he saw before him the eidolon of the deceased poet. He remained for some time impressed by the intensity of the illusion, which had thus created a phantom out of some clothes hanging on a screen at the farther end of the hall.

This is not the first time that Byron had appeared to his friends, as the following, from his own pen, will show:—

Byron wrote to his friend, Alexander Murray, less than two years before the death of the latter, as follows:—

“In 1811, my old schoolmate and form-fellow, Robert Peel, the Irish secretary, told me that he saw me in St. James Street. I was then in Turkey. A day or two afterwards, he pointed out to his brother a person across the[Pg 292] street, and said, ‘There is the man I took for Byron.’ His brother answered, ‘Why, it is Byron, and no one else.’ I was at this time seen (by them?) to write my name in the Palace Book! I was then ill of a malaria fever. If I had died,” adds Byron, “here would have been a ghost story established.”

Dr. Johnson says, “An honest old printer named Edward Cave had seen a ghost at St. John’s Gate.” Of course, the old man succumbed to the apparition.


The Ghost of Conscience.

I have yet to find the record of a good man seeing what he believed to be a ghostly manifestation. It is only the guilty in conscience who conjure up “horrible shadows,” as pictured in Shakspeare’s ghost of Banquo, as it appeared to Macbeth. What deserving scorn, what scathing contempt, were conveyed in the language of Lady Macbeth to her cowardly, conscience-stricken lord, as she thus rebuked him!—

“O, proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear;
This is the air-drawn dagger which you said
Led you to Duncan! O, these flaws and starts
(Impostors to true fear) would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,[5]
Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
... When all’s done,
You look but on a stool!”

There is a great truth embodied in a portion of the king’s reply, that—

“If charnel-houses and our graves must send
Those that we bury, back, our monuments
Shall be the maws of kites.”

The gay and dissipated Thomas Lyttleton, son of Lord George Lyttleton, and his successor in the peerage, has been[Pg 293] the subject of “a well-authenticated ghost story, which relates that he was warned of his death three days before it happened, in 1779, while he was in a state of perfect health, and only thirty-five years of age.” This is what says a biographer. Now let us present the truth of the matter.

He was a dissipated man. He was subject to fits. A gentleman present at the time of his seeing a vision, says “that he had been attacked several times by suffocative fits the month before.” Here, then, was a body diseased. The same authority says, “It happened that he dreamed, three days before his death, that he saw a fluttering bird; and afterwards, that he saw (dreamed) a woman in white apparel, who said to him, ‘Prepare to die; you will not exist three days.’




“His lordship was much alarmed, and called his servant, who slept in an adjoining closet, who found his master in a state of great agitation, and in a profuse perspiration.”

Fear blanches the cheek; perspiration is rather a symptom of bodily weakness, and the result of a laborious dream, or even a fit. He had no fear, for, on the third day, while his lordship was at breakfast with “the two Misses Amphlett, Lord Fortescue,” and the narrator, he said, lightly,—

“‘If I live over to-night, I shall have jockeyed the ghost,[Pg 294] for this is the third day.’ That day he had another fit. He dined at five, and retired at eleven, when his servant was about to give him some prescribed rhubarb and mint-water, but his lordship, seeing him about to stir the mixture with a toothpick, exclaimed,—

“‘You slovenly dog, go and fetch a teaspoon.’

“On the servant’s return, he found his master in another fit, and, the pillow being high, his chin bore on his windpipe, when the servant, instead of relieving his lordship from his perilous position, ran away for help; but on his return, found his master dead.”

He had strangled. Is it anything strange that a dissipated, weakened man should die after having a score of suffocative fits? It had been more surprising if he had survived them. Then, as respecting the dream, it was the result of a “mind diseased.”

There was evidence that his lordship had seduced the Misses Amphlett, and prevailed upon them to leave their mother; and he is said to have admitted, before his death, that the woman seen in his dream was the mother of the unfortunate girls, and that she died of grief, through the disgrace and desertion of her children, about the time that the guilty seducer saw her in the vision. How could his dreams but have been disturbed, with the load of guilt and remorse that he ought to have had resting upon his conscience? The “fluttering bird” was the first form that the wretched mother assumed in his vision, as a bird might flutter about the prison bars that confined her darling offspring. The more natural form of the mother finally appeared to the guilty seducer, and to dream that he heard a voice is no unusual occurrence in the life of any person. The peculiar words amount to nothing. Lyttleton gave them no serious thoughts, and it was an accident of bodily position that caused his sudden death. The whole thing seems to be too flimsy for even a respectable “ghost story.”

 [Pg 295]

The Bishop sees a Ghost!

An amusing as well as instructive ghost story is related by Horace Walpole, the indolent, luxurious satirist of fashionable and political contemporaries, whose twenty thousand a year enabled him to live at his ease, “coquetting haughtily with literature and literary men, at his tasty Gothic toy-house at Strawberry Hill.”




He relates that the good old Bishop of Chichester was awakened in his palace at an early hour in the morning by his chamber door opening, when a female figure, clothed in white, softly entered the apartment, and quietly took a seat near him. The prelate, who, with “his household, was a disbeliever in ghosts” and spirits, said he was not at all frightened, but, rising in his bed, said, in a tone of authority,—

“Who are you?”

“The presence in the room” made no reply. The bishop repeated the question,—

[Pg 296]“Who are you?”

The ghost only heaved a deep sigh, and, while the bishop rang the bell, to call his slumbering servant, her ghostship quietly drew some old “papers from its ghost of a pocket,” and commenced reading them to herself.

After the bishop had kept on ringing for the stupid servant, the form arose, thrust the papers out of sight, and left as noiselessly and sedately as she had arrived.

“Well, what have you seen?” asked the bishop, when the servants were aroused.

“Seen, my lord?”

“Ay, seen! or who—what was the woman who has been here?”

“Woman, my lord?”

(It is said one of the fellows smiled, that a woman should have been in the aged bishop’s bed-chamber in the night.)

When the bishop had related what he had seen, the domestics apprehended that his lordship had been dreaming, against which the good man protested, and only told what his eyes had beheld. The story that the bishop had been visited by a ghost soon got well circulated, which greatly “diverted the ungodly, at the good prelate’s expense, till finally it reached the ears of the keeper of a mad-house in the diocese, who came and deposed that a female lunatic had escaped from his custody on that night” (in light apparel), who, finding the gates and doors of the palace open, had marched directly to his lordship’s chamber. The deponent further stated that the lunatic was always reading a bundle of papers.

“There are known,” says Walpole, “stories of ghosts, solemnly authenticated, less credible; and I hope you will believe this, attested by the father of our own church.”


Musical Ghosts.

We occasionally hear of this kind, but seldom, if ever, see them. An old lady of Adams, Mass., came to the writer in[Pg 297] a state bordering on monomania. She stated that at about three o’clock in the night she would awake and distinctly hear bells ringing at a distance. She would awake her husband, and often compel him to arise and listen “till the poor man was almost out of patience with the annoyance;” not of the bells, for he heard none, but of being continually “wakened because of her whim,” as he stated. A brief medical treatment for the disease which caused the vibration of the tympanum dispelled the illusion of bells.


The Piano-forte Ghost.

A family residing, three years since, but a few miles out of Boston, used to occasionally, during summer only, hear a note or two of the piano strike at the dead hour of the night. A Catholic servant girl and an excellent cook left their situations in consequence of the ghostly music. In vain the family removed the instrument to another position in the room. The musical sounds would startle them from their midnight slumbers.

One thing very remarkable occurred after changing the piano: the sound, which only transpired occasionally, with no regularity as to time, would always begin with the high notes, and end with the lower. Finally, the family—I cannot say why—removed to the city, and the house was sold. The deed of conveyance did not include the ghost, but he remained with the premises, nevertheless. The writer has seen him!

“O, what a pretty cat!” exclaimed a child of the new occupant of the haunted house, on discovering the domestic animal which the late possessor had left.

“Yes; and she looks so very domestic and knowing, she may stay, if no one comes for her, and you’ll have her for a playfellow,” replied the mother.

A few nights after their settlement, the new family were startled by hearing the piano sound! No particular tune, but[Pg 298] it was surely the piano notes that had been distinctly and repeatedly heard. A search revealed nothing. The piano was kept closed thereafter, and no further annoyance occurred, until one night when the company had lingered till nearly midnight, and the instrument had been left open, the sound again occurred. The gentleman quickly lighted a lamp, ran down stairs, and closing the door leading to the connecting room, he found the cat secreted beneath the piano. The instrument was purposely left open the following night, and a watch set, when, no sooner was all quiet, than the cat entered, and leaped upon the piano keys. After touching them a few times with her fore paws, she jumped down, and hid beneath the instrument. “The cat was out.” Only one thing remained for explanation, viz., why the change of sound occurred after removing the piano by the first occupants of the house. It occurred in summer. They removed the piano so that the cat, entering a side window, usually left a little raised, had necessarily jumped upon the high keys.

If anybody has got a good ghost, spirit, or witch about his premises, the writer would like to investigate it.

The following silly item is just going the rounds of the press:—


A haunted House.

“The first floor of Mrs. Roundy’s house, at Lynn, in which the recent murder occurred, is occupied by an apparently intelligent family bearing the name of Conway, who assert that they have heard supernatural noises every night since the tragedy; and they are so sincere in their belief that they are preparing to vacate in favor of their ‘uncanny’ visitors.”

There’s nothing to it to investigate.


A few Words about Witches.

My colored boy, Dennis, assures me that an old woman in Norfolk, Va., having some spite against him, “did [Pg 299]something to him that sort o’ bewitched him; got some animal into him, like.” The symptoms are those of ascarides, but I could not persuade him to take medicine therefor.

“’Tain’t no use, sir,” he replied, solemnly; “I knowed she done it; I feels it kinder workin’ in yer (placing his hand on his stomach); what med’cine neber’ll reach.”

Neither reason nor ridicule will “budge” him. He knows he’s bewitched!

 [Pg 300]




 [Pg 301]

Witches in the Cream.

Through all the long, long winter’s day,
And half the dreary night,
We churned, and yet no butter came:
The cream looked thin and white.

Next morning, with our hopes renewed,
The task began again;
We churned, and churned, till back and arms
And head did ache with pain.

The cream rose up, then sulking fell,
Grew thick, and then grew thin;
It splashed and spattered in our eyes,
On clothes, and nose, and chin.

We churned it fast, and churned it slow,
And stirred it round and round;
Yet all the livelong, weary day,
Was heard the dasher’s sound.

The sun sank in the gloomy west,
The moon rose ghastly pale;
And still we churned, with courage low,
And hopes about to fail,—

When in walked Granny Dean, who heard,
[Pg 302]With wonder and amaze,
Our troubles, as she crossed herself,
And in the fire did gaze.

“Lord, help us all!” she quickly said,
And covered up her face;
“Lord, help us all! for, as you live,
There’s witches in the place!

“There’s witches here within this churn,
That have possessed the cream.
Go, bring the horse-shoe that I saw
Hang on the cellar-beam.”

The shoe was brought, when, round and round,
She twirled it o’er her head;
“Go, drive the witches from that cream!”
In solemn voice she said;—

Then tossed it in the fire, till red
With heat it soon did turn,
And dropped among the witches dread,
That hid within the churn.

Once more the dasher’s sound was heard,—
Have patience with my rhyme,—
For, sure enough, the butter came
In twenty minutes’ time.

Some say the temperature was changed
With horse-shoe glowing red;
But when we ask old Granny Dean,
She only shakes her head.—Hearth and Home.



One would suppose the folly of putting horse-shoes into cream, “fish-skins into coffee, to settle it,” and forcing filthy molasses and water down the throats of new-born babes, were amongst the follies of the past; but they are not yet,[Pg 303] with many other superstitious, and even cruel and dangerous notions, done away with. For some prominent instances of this course of proceedings the reader may consult next chapter.

Riding through the rural districts of almost any portion of the Union, one will sometimes find the horse-shoe nailed over the stable, porch, or even house front door, to keep away the witches. As in Gay’s fable of “The Old Woman and her Cats:”—

“Straws laid across my path retard,
The horse-shoes nailed each threshold guard,”

In Aubrey’s time, he tells us that “most houses of the west end of London have the horse-shoe at the threshold.”

The nice little old gentleman who keeps the depot at Boylston Station is a dry joker, in his way. Over each door of the station he has an old horse-shoe nailed.

“What have you got these nailed up over the door for?” a stranger asks.




“To keep away witches. I sleep here nights,” solemnly replies the station-master; and one must be familiar with that ever agreeable face to detect the sly, enjoyable humor with which he is so often led to repeat this assertion.

In numerous towns within more than half of the states,—I state from personal inquiry,—there are at this day old women, who children, at least, are taught to believe have the power of bewitching! My first fright, when a little boy on my way to school, was from being told that an old woman, whose house we were passing, was a witch.

[Pg 304]These modern witches may not have arrived at the dignity of floating through the air on a broomstick, or crossing the water in a cockle-shell, as they were said to in ancient times; but the belief in their existence at this enlightened period of the world is more disgraceful than in the darker ages, and the frightening of children and the naturally superstitious is far more reprehensible.

There is no such thing as a ghost. There are no witches.

“The Bible teaches that there were witches,” has often been wrongly asserted. That “choice young man and goodly,” whose abilities his doting parent over-estimated when he sent him out in search of the three stray asses, and whose idleness prompted him to consult the seer Samuel, and by whose indolence and procrastination the asses got home first, was a very suitable personage to consult a “woman of a familiar spirit” (or any other woman, save his own wife), from which arose the great modern misnomer of the “Witch of Endor.”

“To the Jewish writers, trained to seek counsel only of Jehovah (not even from Christ), the ‘Woman of Endor’ was a dealer with spirits of evil. With us, who have imbibed truth through a thousand channels made turbid by prejudice and error, she is become a distorted being, allied to the hags of a wild and fatal delusion. We confound her with the (fabled) witches of Macbeth, the victims of Salem, and the modern Moll Pitchers.

“The Woman of Endor! That is a strange perversion of taste that would represent her in hideous aspect. To me she seemeth all that is genial and lovely in womanhood.”

“Hearken thou unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee, and eat, that thou mayest have strength when thou goest on thy way.”

Then she made and baked the bread, killed and cooked the meat,—all she had in the house,—and Saul did eat, and his servants.

[Pg 305]I see nought in this but an exhibition of rare domestic ability and commendable hospitality; in the previous act (revelation), nothing more than a manifestation of the power of mind over mind (possibly the power of God, manifested through her mind?), wherein she divined the object of Saul’s visit, and, through the same channel, surmised who he was that consulted her.




Witches are said to be “light weight.” But a little above[Pg 306] a hundred years ago, a woman was accused in Wingrove, England, by another, of “bewitching her spinning-wheel, so it would turn neither the one way nor the other.” To this she took oath, and the magistrate, with pomp and dignity, “followed by a great concourse of people, took the woman to the parish church, her husband also being present, and having stripped the accused to her nether garment, put her into the great scales brought for that purpose, with the Bible in the opposite balance, which was the lawful test of a witch, when, to the no small astonishment and mortification of her maligner, she actually outweighed the book, and was honorably acquitted of the charge!”

Just imagine the picture. In an enlightened age, a Christian people, in possession of the Bible, that gives no intimation of such things as witches, stripping and weighing a female in public, to ascertain if she really was heavier than a common Bible!




[Pg 307]



“When cats run home, and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirling sail goes round,
And the whirling sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits
The white owl in the belfry sits.”—Tennyson.



Medicine, above all the other sciences, was founded upon superstition. Medicine, more than all the other arts, has been practised by superstitions. Stretching far back through the vista of time to the remotest antiquity, reaching forward into the more enlightened present, it has partaken of all that was superstitious in barbarism, in heathenism, in mythology, and in religion.

In showing the Alpha I am compelled to reveal the Omega.

Let us begin with Jupiter. I know that some wise Æsculapian—no Jupiterite—will turn up his nose at this page, while to-morrow, if he gets a patient, he will demonstrate[Pg 308] what I am saying, and further, help to perpetuate the ignorant absurdities which originated with the old mythologists, by placing “℞”—the ill-drawn sign of Jupiter—before his recipe.




De Paris tells us that the physician of the present day continues to prefix to his prescriptions the letter “℞,” which is generally supposed to mean “recipe,” but which is, in truth, a relic of the astrological symbol of Jupiter, formerly used as a species of superstitious invocation, or to propitiate the king of the gods that the compound might act favorably.

There are still in use many other things which present prima facie evidence of having been introduced when the users placed more faith in mythological or planetary influence than in any innate virtue of the article itself. For instance, at a very early period all diseases were regarded as the effects of certain planetary actions; and not only diseases, but our lives, fortunes, conduct, and the various qualities that constitute one’s character, were the consequences of certain planetary control under which we existed. Are there not many who now believe this?

“In ancient medicine pharmacy was at one period only the application of the dreams of astrology to the vegetable world. The herb which put an ague or madness to flight did so by reason of a mystic power imparted to it by a particular constellation, the outward signs of which quality were to be found in its color or shape.” Red objects had a mysterious influence on inflammatory diseases, and yellow ones on persons discolored by jaundice. Corals were introduced as a medicine, also to wear about the neck on the same principle.

These notions are not yet obsolete. Certain diseases are still attributed to the action of the moon. Certain yellow[Pg 309] herbs are used for the jaundice and other diseases. The hepatica triloba (three-lobed) is recommended for diseases of the lungs as well as liver (as its first name, hepatica, indicates), and some other medicines for other complaints, without the least regard to their innate qualities. Corals are still worn for nose-bleed, red articles kept about the bed and apartments of the small-pox patient, and the red flag hung out at the door of the house, though few may know why a red flag is so hung, or that it originated in superstition.

The announcement of an approaching comet strikes terror to the hearts of thousands; the invalid has the sash raised that he may avoid first seeing the new moon through the glass, and the traveller is rejoiced to catch his first glimpse of the young queen of the night over his right shoulder, “for there is misfortune in seeing it over the left.”

But we are not yet done with ancient symbols.

“The stick came down from heaven,” says the Egyptian proverb.

“The physician’s cane is a very ancient part of his insignia. It has nearly gone into disuse; but until very recently no doctor of medicine would have presumed to pay a visit, or even be seen in public, without this mystic wand. Long as a footman’s stick, smooth, and varnished, with a heavy gold head, or a cross-bar, it was an instrument with which, down to the present century, every prudent aspirant to medical practice was provided. The celebrated gold-headed cane which Radcliffe, Mead, Askew, Pitcairn, and Baillie successively bore, is preserved in the College of Physicians, London. It has a cross-bar, almost like a crook, in place of a knob. The knob in olden times was hollow, and contained a vinaigrette, which the man of science held to his nose when he approached a sick person, so that its fumes might protect him from the disease.”

The cane, doubtless, came from the wand or caduceus of Mercurius, and was a “relic of the conjuring paraphernalia[Pg 310] with which the healer, in ignorant and superstitious times, always worked upon the imagination of the credulous.” The present barber’s pole originated with surgeons. The red stripe represented the arterial blood; the blue, the venous blood; the white, the bandages.

The superstitious ancients showed more wisdom in their selections of names, as well as in emblems, than we do in retaining them. Heathen worship and mythological signs are mixed and interwoven with all our arts, sciences, and literature. Our days of the week were named by the old Saxons, who worshipped idols—the sun, moon, stars, earth, etc., and to their god’s, perpetual honor gave to each day a name from some principal deity. Thus we are idolaters, daily, though unconsciously.

I think not one person in a thousand is aware of this fact; therefore I give a sketch of each.



The name of our first day of the week, Sunday, is derived from the Saxon Sunna-dæg, which they named for the sun. It was also called Sun’s-dæg.




As the glorious sunlight brought day and warmth, and caused vegetation to spring forth in its season, warmed the blood, and made the heart of man to rejoice, they made that dazzling orb the primary object of their worship. When its absence brought night and [Pg 311]darkness, and the storm-clouds shrouded its face in gloom, or the occasional eclipse suddenly cut off its shining, which they superstitiously attributed to the wrath of their chief deity, it then became the object of their supplication. With them, and all superstitious people, all passions, themes, and worships must be embodied—must assume form and dimensions, and as they could not gaze upon the dazzling sun, they personified it in the figure of a man—as being superior to woman with them—arrayed in a primitive garment, holding in his hand a flaming wheel. One day was specially devoted to sun worship.

The modern Sunday is the day, according to historical accounts of the early Christians, on which Christ rose from the dead. It does not appear to have been the same day as, or to have superseded, the Jewish Sabbath, although the Christians early celebrated the day, devoting it to religious services. With the Christians, labor was suspended on this “first day of the week,” and Constantine, about the year 320, established an edict which suspended all labor, except agricultural, and forbade also all court proceedings. In 538 A. D. the third Council of Orleans published a decree forbidding all labor on Sunday.

The Sabbath (Hebrew Shabbath) of the Jews, meaning a day of rest, originated as far back as Moses—probably farther. It was merely a day of rest, which was commanded by Jehovah; and if considered only on physiological grounds, it evinces the wisdom and economy of God in setting apart one day in seven to be observed by man as a season of rest and recuperation. As such it only seems to have been regarded till after the forty years of exile, when it changed to a day of religious rites and ceremonies, which is continued till the present day by “that peculiar people.” That particular day, given in the “law of Moses,” corresponds—it is believed by the Jews—to our Saturday. Christ seemed to teach that the Jewish Sabbath was no more[Pg 312] sacred than any other day, and he accused the Pharisees with hypocrisy in their too formal observance thereof. He attended their service on the Sabbath, on the seeming principle that he did other meetings, and as he paid the accustomed tax, because it was best to adapt one’s self to the laws and customs of the country.

We do not purpose to enter into any theological discussion as to which of the two days should be observed for rest and religious observances; for who shall decide? Physiologically considered, it makes no difference. There should be one day set apart for rest in seven at the most, and all men should respect it.

Without a Sabbath (day of rest) we should soon relapse into a state of barbarism, and also wear out before our allotted time. “In the hurry and bustle of every-day life and labor, we allow ourselves too little relaxation, too little scope for moral, social, and religious sentiments; therefore it is well to set apart times and seasons when all cares and labors may be laid aside, and communion held with nature and nature’s God.” And it were better if we all could agree upon one day for our Sabbath; and let us call it “Sabbath,” and not help to perpetuate any heathen dogmas and worship by calling God’s holy day after the idolatrous customs of the ancient Saxons.



The second day of the week the Saxons called Monandæg, or Moon’s day; hence our Monday.

This day was set apart by that idolatrous people for the worship of their second god in power. In their business pursuits, as well as devotional exercises, they devoted themselves to the moon worship. The name Monandæg was written at the top of all communications, and remembrance had to their god in all transactions of the day. Each monath (new moon or month) religious (?) exercises were celebrated.

[Pg 313]The idol Monandæg had the semblance of a female, crowned or capped with a hood-like covering, surmounted by two horns, while a basque and long robe covered the remainder of her person. In her right hand she held the image of the moon.


MOON—Monday.  TUISCO—Tuesday.



The third object of their worship was Tuisco—corresponding with German Tuisto—the son of Terra (earth),[Pg 314] the deified founder of the Teutonic race. He seems to have been the deity who presided over combats and litigations; “hence Tuesday is now, as then, court-day, or the day for commencing litigations.” In some dialects it was called Dings-dag, or Things-day—to plead, attempt, cheapen: hence it is often selected as market-day, as well as a time for opening assizes. Hence the god Tuisco was worshipped in the semblance of a venerable sage, with uncovered head, clothed in skins of fierce animals, touching the earth, while he held in his right hand a sceptre, the appropriate ensign of his authority.

Thus originated the name of our third day of the week, and some of its customs.





This day was named for Woden,—the same as Odin,—and was sacred to the divinity of the Northern and Eastern nations. He was the Anglo-Saxons’ god of war, “who came to them from the East in a very mysterious manner, and enacted more wonderful and brilliant exploits of prowess and valor than the Greek mythologists ascribed to their powerful god Hercules.” As Odin, this deity was said to have been a monarch (in the flesh) of ancient[Pg 315] Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia, etc., and a mighty conqueror. All those tribes, in going into battle, invoked his aid and blessing upon their arms. He was idolized as a fierce and powerful man, with helmet, shield, a drawn sword, a gyrdan about his loins, and feet and legs protected by sandals and knee-high fastenings of iron, ornamented with a death’s head.


THOR—Thursday.  FRIGA—Friday.

 [Pg 316]


From the deity Thor our Thursday is derived. This Saxon god was the son of Woden, or Odin, and his wife Friga. He was the god of thunder, the bravest and most powerful, after his father, of the Danish and Saxon deities.

Thor is represented as sitting in majestic grandeur upon a golden throne, his head surmounted by a golden crown, richly ornamented by a circle in front, in which were set twelve brilliant stars. In his right hand he grasped the regal sceptre.



The sixth day of the week was named in honor of Friga, or Frigga, the wife of Woden and the mother of Thor. In most ancient times she was the same as Venus, the goddess of Hertha, or Earth. She was the most revered of the female divinities of the Danes and Saxons. Friga is represented draped in a light robe suspended from the shoulder, low neck and bare arms. She held in her right hand a drawn sword, and a long bow in the left. Her hair is long and flowing, while a golden band, adorned by ostrich feathers, encircle her snowy brow.

There is nothing in the name or attributes to indicate the ill luck which superstition has attached to the day.



 [Pg 317]


The god Seater, for whom the last day of the week is named, is the same as Saturn, which is from Greek—Time.

He is pictured, unlike Saturn, with long, flowing hair and beard, thin features, clothed in person with one entire garment to his ankles and wrists, with his waist girded by a linen scarf. In his right hand he carries a wheel, to represent rolling time. In his left hand he holds a pail of fruit and flowers, to indicate young time as well as old. The fish which is his pedestal represents his power over the abundance of even the sea.


Christmas Festivals.

Amongst the very pleasant and harmless customs which have been handed down to us from the idolatrous rites and superstitions of the ancient Saxons, Scandinavians, etc., are those connected with our Christmas festivities. The whole observance and connections form a strange mixture of Christian and heathen ceremonies, illustrative of the unwillingness with which a people abandon pagan rites to the adoption of those more consistent with the spirit of a Christianized and enlightened faith.

Now, little folks and big, I am not going to ridicule or deny your right to Christmas and St. Nicholas enjoyments; I will merely hint at their origin, for your own benefit. The day brings more happiness—and folks—to the homes and firesides of the people of the whole world than any other holiday we celebrate.[6] Thanksgiving, you know, is mostly a New England custom. The 25th of December is just as good as any other day on which to have a good time. Ancient people used to celebrate the first and[Pg 318] sixth of January. The first three months of the year are named after heathen gods.

The name of the day we celebrate is derived from a Christian source: the rest from pagan. A good feeling was always engendered amongst the most ancient people at the commencement of the lengthening of days in winter, and the approach of a new year. The hanging up of the mistletoe, with the ceremony of gathering it, the kindling of the Yule log, and giving of presents, we trace to the Druids, who were the priests, doctors, and judges of the ancient Celts, Gauls, Britons, and Germans. Our modern stoves and furnaces have shut out the pleasant old log fires, and the candles only remain. The gifts originated in the giving away of pieces of the mistletoe by the grizzly old priests.

Who St. Nicholas was, is only conjectured, not known, any more than who St. Patrick was. It makes no difference where he sprang from; he is a good, jolly, benevolent fellow, who brings lots of presents, and, with the little folks, we are bound to defend him.

It is supposed that the original St. Nicholas lived in Lycia, in Asia Minor, during the fourth century, and was early adopted as a saint of the Catholic church, and also by the Russians and ancient Germans, Celts, and others.

“He has ever been regarded as a very charitable personage, and as the particular guardian of children. Great stories are told of his charity and benevolence. One of these, and that, perhaps, which attaches him to the peculiar festivities of Christmas, is to the effect that a certain nobleman had three lovely daughters, but was so reduced to poverty that he was unable to give them a marriage portion, as was the indispensable custom, and was about to give them over to a life of shame. St. Nicholas was aware of this, and determined in a secret way to assist the nobleman.

“He wended his way towards the nobleman’s house, thinking how he could best do this, when he espied an open [Pg 319]window, into which he threw a purse of gold, which dropped at the nobleman’s feet, and he was enabled to give his daughter a marriage portion. This was repeated upon the second daughter and the third daughter; but the nobleman, being upon the watch, detected his generous benefactor, and thus the affair was made public. From this rose the custom upon St. Nicholas Day, December 6, for parents and friends to secretly put little presents into the stockings of the children. Doubtless this custom, so near the festivities of Christmas, gradually approximated to that day, and become identical with Christmas festivities throughout the world. St. Nicholas is often represented bearing three purses, or golden balls, and these form the pawn-broker’s well-known sign, which is traced to this source as its origin—not, we should judge, from their resemblance to the charity of St. Nicholas, but emblematic of his lending in time of need.”


Popular Notions and Whims.

There was a superstition in Scotland against spinning or ploughing on Christmas; but the Calvinistic clergy, in contempt for all such superstitions, compelled their wives and daughters to spin, and their tenants to plough, on that day.

It is a popular notion to the present time in Devonshire that if the sun shines bright at noon on Christmas day, there will be a plentiful crop of apples the following year.

Bees were thought to sing in their hives on Christmas eve, and it was believed that bread baked then would never mould.

So prevalent was the idea that all nature unites in celebrating the great event of Christ’s birth, that it was a well received opinion in some sections of the old world that the cattle fell on their knees at midnight on Christmas eve.

 [Pg 320]

Ridiculous Superstitions.

“Merlin! Merlin! turn again;
Leave the oak-branch where it grew.
Seek no more the cress to gain,
Nor the herb of golden hue.”

Merlin, the reputed great enchanter, flourished in Britain about the fifth century. He is said to have resided in great pomp at the court of “Good King Arthur.” You all know the beautiful rhyme about the latter, if not about “Merlin! Merlin!” etc.

“When good King Arthur ruled the land,—
He was a goodly king,—
He stole three pecks of barley-meal
To make a bag pudding.”

Sublime poetry! Easy mode of obtaining the barley-meal (or Scotch territory). Merlin attached many superstitious beliefs to some of our medicinal plants. The “cress” is supposed to be the mistletoe. “The herb of gold”—golden herb—was a rare plant, held in great esteem by the peasant women of Brittany, who affirmed that it shone like gold at a distance. It must be gathered by or before daybreak.

The most ridiculous part of the affair was in the searching for the “herb of golden hue.” None but devout females, blessed by the priests for the occasion, were permitted the great privilege of gathering it. In order to be successful in the search, the privileged person started before daylight, barefooted, bareheaded, and en chemise. (Of course the priest knew the individual, and when she was going.) The root must not be cut or broken, but pulled up entire. If any one trod upon the plant, he or she would fall into a trance, when they could understand the language of fowls and animals—a belief not half as ridiculous as that of the present day, that a person may fall into a trance, and understand the language of the dead; yes, dead and decayed, the[Pg 321] organs of speech gone! Yet thousands believe such stuff to-day.

The Mandrake.—Great superstition was formerly attached to this root, and even now is, in some rural districts. The root often resembles the lower half of a human being, and it was credulously believed it would shriek and groan when pulled from its mother earth. This notion is expressed in Romeo and Juliet:—

“Mandrakes, torn out of the earth,
That mortals, hearing them, run mad.”

Again, in Henry VI.:—

“Would curses kill, as doth the bitter mandrake’s groans.”




A favorite mode of uprooting this coveted plant—because of its defensive properties, when once gained—was to fasten cords to a dog’s neck, thence to the base of the[Pg 322] stem of the plant, and sealing their own ears with wax to prevent hearing the groans, which was death or madness, they whipped the unfortunate dog till he drew out the roots, or was killed in the attempt; for the dog usually died then or soon after the cruel beating, and the shrieks of the mandrake were supposed to have caused his death.

The Scabious, or “Devil’s bit,” was regarded with great superstition. “The old fantastic charmers,” said the quaint Gerarde, “say that the Devil bit away the greater part of this root for envy, because of its many virtues and benefits to mankind.” Dr. James Smith (1799) as quaintly observes, “The malice of the Devil has unfortunately been so successful, that no virtue can now be found in the remainder of the root or herb.”

House Crickets.—The superstition respecting these cheerful and harmless little chirpers is remarkable. Some consider their presence a lucky sign, others their absence more fortunate. To kill one, with some persons, is a sign of death in the house. Very strange! They, blind fools, do not see that the saying originated in the death of the poor little cricket.

The following very remarkable occurrence was related to the writer, as having actually taken place at Providence, R. I., a few years since. Mrs. D., a respectable lady, residing in the city, was reported to have been followed about the house and up stairs by a “cricket,”—a wooden one, used for a foot-stool. People called at her residence to inquire into the truth of the matter; others even requested to see the remarkable phenomenon of a cricket or stool walking off on all fours, until the lady became so annoyed by the continual stream of credulous callers, that she inserted a notice in the city journals denying the truth of the strange rumor. It was supposed to have started from some neighbor’s seeing or hearing a house cricket when on a visit at the lady’s house.

[Pg 323]The Bowing Images.—A still more amusing story is related respecting the two images surmounting the wall each side of the gate at the residence of Professor Gammel, of Providence. A report became current among the school-boys of the city, that when the images heard the clock strike nine in the forenoon they bowed their heads. My informant said it was no unusual thing to see a dozen boys waiting, with books and slates, in front of the professor’s gate, to see the images bow at nine. Being late at school, the teacher would inquire,—

“Where have you been lingering, that you are behind time at school?”




“Been down to Professor Gammel’s, waitin’ to see the images bow.”

Then the teacher drew his ferule or rod, and made them “bow” in submission to a smart whipping—a sequel anticipated by the older scholars who instituted the story.

[Pg 324]House Spiders.—Was there ever a child who was not taught, directly or indirectly, that house spiders were poisonous,—that their bite was instantaneous death? Was there ever a greater mistake? Many people have a superstitious terror of these harmless creatures. The bite of spiders is only poisonous to those insects which the divine economy seems to have created for them to destroy. It is possible, as by a fly, sometimes for a slight skin inflammation, less than a mosquito’s bite, to follow the sting of a spider on a very small child.

Let me hereby disabuse the public mind of the repugnance or horror with which these little creatures are regarded. The Creator has evidently placed them here for the destruction of flies and other insects, which otherwise would completely overrun us. The fly is such a domestic creature, that he soon deserts a house where the family is long absent. The spider then removes also. (I have watched this proceeding, with no little interest, in the absence of my own family.) Therefore the spider was created to suppress a superabundance of insect life. When I have before stated this fact, the listener has been led to inquire why the flies were then made. We will not answer the suggestion of this “riddle” as the Irishman did (you know that he said, “To feed the spiders, to be sure”), but reply, that if this question is to arise in this connection, we may as well keep on our inquiry till we arrive at the greater riddle, “Why are we created?”—to which we have no space for reply.

It is said that manufacturers of quill pens in London, being greatly annoyed by a species of moth which infests their quills and devours the feathers, and the common spider being endowed with an inordinate appetite for those same moths, the penmakers and spiders are on the best of terms, and an army of these much-maligned and persecuted insects encamp in each pen factory, and do good service to the cause of literature as well as trade, by protecting the quills.[Pg 325] We may yet find that even mosquitos and bedbugs have their uses in the wise economy of nature.

Now, when tidy housewifery requires that brush and broom should ruthlessly demolish the webs,—the wonderful work and mechanism of the one species of house spider,—let it be done as a necessity, not with a feeling of repugnance to the harmless little insect; and let children be taught the truthful lesson that nothing is made in vain.

The House Cat, with many, is regarded with unaccountable superstition. It goes with the witch, particularly the black cat. No witch ever could exist without one. This is usually the species that haunts naughty boys in their dreams after they have eaten too heartily of cake, and other indigestible stuff, at evening.

Cats are as old as time. At least their existence dates back as far as man’s in history, and they were formerly regarded as a sacred animal.

In ancient Egypt we find that Master Tomas, with his round face and rugged whiskers, symbolized the sun. Preserved in the British Museum are abundant proofs of the reverence and superstition with which the feline race was regarded by the Egyptians. Here several of these revered Grimalkins are mummied in spices, and perfumes, and balsams, in which they have survived the unknown centuries of the past, “to contrast the value of a dead cat in the land of the Pharaohs with the fate of such relics in modern times, ignominiously consigned to the scavenger’s cart, or feloniously hanging upon a tree, the scarecrow of the orchard.”

Diodorus, the Greek writer, 1st century B. C., informs us that such was the superstitious veneration with which the Egyptians regarded cats, that no one could ruffle the fur of Tom or Tabby with impunity, and that any man killing a cat was put to death. (O, what a country it must have been to sleep in!) In Ptolemy’s time, while the Roman army was established in Egypt, one of the Romans killed a[Pg 326] cat, when the people flew to his house, and dragged him forth, and neither the fear of the soldiers nor the influence of the prince could deliver the unfortunate cat-slayer from the wrath of the infuriated mob.

Mohammed had a superstition for cats, and was said to have been constantly attended by one. A cat hospital was founded at Damascus in respect to the prophet’s predilection, which Baumgarten, the German professor (1714 to 1762) found filled with feline inmates. Turkey maintained several public establishments of this kind.

Howell the Good, king of Wales, 10th century, legislated for the cat propagation, and it would seem that the race was limited, since a week old kitten sold for a penny,—a great deal of money in those days,—and fourpence for one old enough to catch a mouse. The following ludicrous penalty was attached to a cat-stealer:—

“If any person stole a cat that guarded the prince’s granaries he was to forfeit a milch ewe, fleece, and lamb; or, in lieu of these, as much wheat as, when poured upon the cat, suspended by the tail, her head touching the floor, would form a heap high enough to bury her to the tail tip.”

This would seem rather hard on poor pussy, even to threatening her suffocation.

Huc, in his “Chinese Empire,” tells us that the Chinese peasantry are accustomed to tell the noon hour from the narrowing and dilation of the pupils of pussy’s eyes; they are said to be drawn down to a hair’s-breadth precisely at twelve o’clock. This horological utility, however, by no means gives her a fixed tenure in a Chinese home. There she enters into the category of edible animals, and, having served the purpose of a cat-clock, is seen hanging side by side with the carcasses of dogs, rats, and mice in the shambles of every city and town of the celestial empire.

Descending to the middle ages, a mal-odor of magic taints the fair fame of our protégés, more especially attaching[Pg 327] itself to black or brindled cats, which were commonly found to be the “familiars” of witches; or, rather, their “familiars” were supposed to take the form of these animals; and hence, in nearly all judicial records of these unhappy delusionists, demons in the shape of cats are sure to figure. The witches in “Macbeth” (for what impression of the times he lived in has Shakspeare lost?) awaited the triple mewing of the brindled cat to begin their incantations; and more scientific pretenders to a knowledge of the occult arts are usually represented as attended in their laboratories by a feline companion.

Fragments of a superstitious faith in the magical, or what was till comparatively recent times so nearly allied with it, the medicinal attributes of the animal, still surviving in certain rustic and remote districts of England, where the brains of a cat of the proper color (black, of course) are esteemed a cure for epilepsy; and where, within our memory, such a faith induced a wretched being, in the shape of woman, mad with despair and rage, to tear the living heart from one of these animals, that, by sticking it full of pins and roasting it, she might bring back the regard of a man, brutal and perfidious as herself. Such formulæ are frequently to be met with in the works of ancient naturalists and physicians, and were, doubtlessly, handed down from generation to generation, and locally acted upon in desperate cases.

It is on evidence that more than one old woman has been condemned by our wise ancestors to pay the penalty of her presumed league with Satan in a fiery death, upon no better testimony than the fact that Harper, Rutterkin, or Robin had been seen entering her dwelling in the shape of a black cat. But if, in ancient times, old women, and young ones, too, have been brought to grief through the cats they fostered, certain it is that these creatures have suffered horrible reprisal at the hands of certain vagrants of the sex in our own.

[Pg 328]Our Felis domestica has, for a long time, labored under the serious disadvantage of a traditional character. Buffon sums her up as a “faithless friend, brought in to oppose a still more insidious enemy;” and Goldsmith—who, it is well known, became a writer of natural history “upon compulsion,” and had neither time nor opportunity for personal observation of the habits and instincts of the creatures he so charmingly describes—followed in the track of the great naturalist, and echoes this ungracious definition.

Boys have a natural contempt for cats, and picking them up by the tail, tossing them over the wall, or tying old tin pots to their caudal end, to see how fast they can run, are among their most trifling sports at the expense of Tom and Tabby. I have known a cruel boy to roll a cat in turpentine, and set fire to her. Few men have any feeling but repugnance towards the feline race. The exceptions are in the past.

Cardinal Wolsey’s cat sat on the arm of his chair of state, or took up her position at the back of his throne when he held audiences; and the cat of the poet Petrarch, after death, occupied, embalmed, a niche in his studio; indeed, poets appear to be more susceptible of pussy’s virtues and graces than other persons; and she has, on many occasions, been made the subject of their verse, the sentiment of which fully expresses a sense of the maligned animal’s faithfulness and affection.

Tasso, reduced to such a strait of poverty as to be obliged to borrow a crown from a friend to subsist on through a week, turns for mute sympathy to his faithful cat, and disburdens his case in a charming sonnet, in which he entreats her to assist him through the night with the lustre of her moon-like eyes, having no candles by which he could see to write his verses.

 [Pg 329]


[Pg 330] 

[Pg 331]An editor facetiously says, “We have here among us at this time an addition to the M. D.’s in the shape of two cat doctors, who have the terrible idea that they were put upon this earth for the sole object of doctoring cats, and now the mortality list shows, at the least calculation, that no less than eighteen cats and two kittens have travelled to that bourn from which no passengers have ever yet returned, and all because they were the unlucky sons and daughters of ye night prowlers who had been sacrificed for the good of the future cat generation.”


Present Errors.

I think some reason for the present errors and superstitions attached to cats, may be attributed to the cat-adioptric qualities of their eyes and fur. At night their eyes often shine with phosphoric light, and rubbing their fur with the human hand causes it to emit electric sparks, particularly in very cold weather. They are supposed to partake of ghostly, or witch-like qualities, because they can see in the night time. Fish scales, as well as the flesh of fish, contain a phosphoric principle—there is no witchery about such—which can be seen best through the dark. The fur of other animals besides the cat contain electric qualities. Humans possess it to a greater or lesser extent. The eye of the cat—as also the owl—is made, in the divine economy, expressly for night prowling. The back, or reflecting coat (retina), is white, or light, that it may reflect dark objects. In man, and most animals, it is dark. A light-complexioned person can (cæteris paribus) see better at night than one who is dark. In a strong light, it is reversed. So much for cat-optrics.

Our cat-alogue would be incomplete without this cat-agraph, and we should “cat-ch it,” hereafter, from some cat-echist, if we here discontinued our cat-enary cat-egory, without some little cat-ch relative to the domestic and redeeming qualities of this unappreciated cat-tle (excuse the cat-achresis).

[Pg 332]Webster says the cat is a deceitful animal. Webster don’t know. She certainly has large cautiousness and secretiveness. Man, with the same secretiveness, with the same neglect and abuse that Tom receives, will become doubly deceitful. Treat him kindly and affectionately, and he will return it. Subject to everybody’s kicks, cuffs, and suspicion, the cat necessarily becomes shy, ugly, and appears deceitful. So does a child. The cat is fond of sweet scents, and pries into drawers and cupboards, oftener to gratify her sense of smell than taste. Cats are very fond of music, and occasionally go upon the piano keys to make the strings vibrate. Depending upon their own exertions for a livelihood, they become thieves. They may, by kind instruction, soon be taught to know and keep their own places.

The healthy cat is neat and systematic. Children may be taught a useful lesson by noticing that the tabby washes her face and hands after meals, and never comes to her repast with them dirty.

Cats are sometimes good fish-catchers, as well as mousers and bird-catchers, often plunging into water to secure their favorite aliment. Their love of praise is exhibited in their general tendency to bring in their prey, and place it at your feet for your approbation. Give them the notice due them, and they will redouble their efforts.

It is a vulgar error to suppose their washing over the head is a sign of rain, or that you can tell the time of tide by their eye-pupils, or that they can go through a solid wall, have nine lives, or suck away a child’s breath.

The cat, as a sanitary means, should be domesticated, especially with scrofulous children and females. Either by their absorbent or repelling powers they assist nature in eradicating that almost universal disease—scrofula.

Teach children that “God has created nothing in vain,” and nothing which will harm them if rightly used.

Here we bid good by to Tom and Tabby.

[Pg 333]The Owl.—The superstition which has hung about this very harmless bird is liable to soon cease in the extermination of the creature itself.

“Was you born in the woods to be scared by an owl?” my grandmother once sarcastically inquired when I was frightened from the barn by an old owl inquiring,—





I acknowledge I was a great coward; but I had heard the old women affirm more than once that it was a sign of ill luck or death to hear one of these cat-faced, cat-seeing, mousing creatures cry by day; so I fled from the barn, while the old owl turned his head sidewise, as he sat on a beam, trying to penetrate the light, repeating, “Who—a’—yoo?” It was a sign of death, for my uncle shot the owl.

Magpies are made the subject of superstition. To see a single one strutting across your path is a sad mishap. There is luck in three, or more, however.

Holy Water.—Church superstitions and rites are not[Pg 334] within our province, unless they are objectionable in a sanitary point of view. If the holy water is clean, it is just as good as any other pure water; but I have seen it poured upon my Irish patients—years ago in Hartford and elsewhere—when there were “wrigglers” in it from long exposure in an unstopped bottle or tea-cup. I approve of holy water, therefore, in large quantities, with other rites, tending to a sanitary object. Have plenty of water—with soap.




Bells.—Few useful articles have been held in greater reverence and superstition. Their origin is of great antiquity. The first Jewish priests adorned their blue tunics with golden bells, as also did the Persian kings. The Greeks put bells upon criminals going to execution, as a warning, as it was an ill omen to see a criminal and his executioner walking. The superstition respecting bells began more particularly with the tenth century, when the priests exorcised and blessed them, giving them the names of saints, making the rabble believe that when they were rung for those ceremonies they had the power to drive devils out of the air, making them quake and tremble; also to restrain the power of the devil over a corpse; hence bell-ringing at funerals.

There are many legends wherein the evil spirits’ dislike to bells is promulgated.

As “the devil hates holy water,” so he does bell-ringing.

Dr. Warner, a clergyman of the Church of England, in his “Hampshire,” enumerates the virtues of a bell, by translating some lines from the “Helpe to Discourse.”

[Pg 335] “Men’s deaths I tell by doleful knell;
Lightning and thunder I break asunder;
On Sabbath all to church I call;
The sleepy head I raise from bed;
The winds so fierce I doe disperse;
Men’s cruel rage I do asswage.”

I think the beautiful music discoursed by a chime of bells would be more effectual “men’s cruel rage” to tranquillize, than a battery of seven cannons. Aside from all superstitious notions, there is an irresistible charm about the music of bells, and I rejoice that they are gradually being redeemed from the superstition and monopoly of one ignorant denomination, as the sacred cross may be, to the use and blessing of all mankind.

Fear of Thunder and Lightning.—These have ever been sources of superstitious terror. The ancients considered thunder and lightning as direct manifestations of divine wrath; hence whatever the lightning struck was accursed. The corpses of persons so killed were allowed to remain where they fell, to the great inconvenience, often, of the living.

The electricity which plays about high poles and spires was formerly attributed to spirits. “Fiery spirits or devils,” says old Burton, “are such as commonly work by blazing stars, fire-drakes,” etc. “Likewise they counterfeit suns and moons ofttimes, and sit on ships’ masts.” The electric sparks upon the metal points of soldiers’ spears were regarded as omens of no small importance.

In some parts of Europe, up to the last century, it was a custom to ring bells during a thunder-storm, to drive away evil spirits; but this act often was the cause of death, by the exposure of persons to the points of attraction, and the conducting power of moist ropes and metallic wires. On the night of April 15, 1718, the lightning struck twenty-four steeples while the bells were ringing. In July of the following year, while the bells were tolling at a funeral celebration[Pg 336] in the Chateau Vieux, lightning struck the steeple, killing nine persons and injuring twenty-two. Statistics show that numerous deaths were caused by bell-ringing in England and France, during the last century, to drive away imaginary spirits.

The saint usually invoked on these occasions was St. Barnabas.

The houseleek and bay tree were supposed to afford protection from lightning.

“The thunder has soured the beer,” or the milk, is a common saying; and I once saw a piece of iron lying across the beer-barrel to keep away thunder. A heavy atmosphere may suddenly sour beer or milk.

Creeping three times under the communion table while the chimes were striking, at midnight, was believed to cure fits, as late as 1835.

Glass, stone, and feathers are non-conductors to electricity. Persons very susceptible to electric currents need give themselves no fear, and no more caution need be taken than we take to protect ourselves against other objects of danger. Lightning will not strike one out of doors, unless he is near a point of high attraction,—under a tree, or pole,—or has about him, exposed, some metallic substance, or some very wet article. Houses under or near tall trees, or with suitable lightning-rods, are safe enough. A feather bed, particularly one insulated by glass-rollers, or plates, under the posts, and not touching the wall, is a perfectly safe place for invalids and nervous people who are susceptible to electricity. The pulse of such is often increased in frequency before a thunder-storm. Let such first have no fear. See God in the storm and lightning as only a saving power. I know a girl who “tears around like mad” for a man at the approach of a thunder-storm. When finding one, she feels perfectly safe. If not, she hides in the cellar till the storm abates.

[Pg 337]Unlucky Days.—The superstition respecting unlucky Friday is well known. Some cynical bachelors say it is unlucky because named for a woman. Monday was also so named. I can find no account of this superstition until after the first century A. D. It is said that our Saviour was crucified on Friday—a day of fear and trembling, of earthquakes and divers remarkable phenomena; but that day is now as uncertain as the day of his birth, in the various changes of the calendar, heathen naming of the days to suit their notions, and the great uncertainty of chronology. No doubt Christ arose from the dead on the then first day of the week, and was crucified the third day before the resurrection; but what day of our present week who can tell? If on Friday, it should be counted far from an unlucky day. Sailors are particularly superstitious as to sailing on Friday, notwithstanding Columbus sailed on Friday, and discovered America on that day.

The French believe in unlucky Friday. Lord Byron, Dr. Johnson, and other authors and poets, are said to have so believed. Shakspeare, Scott, Goldsmith, Bacon, Sir Francis Drake, Napoleon, and many other great men, were pretty thoroughly tinged with superstition; the latter, it is said, believed in “luck,” or destiny.

The future of children is yet believed to depend much upon the day of the week on which they are born.

“Monday’s child is fair in face;
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe;
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child works hard for its living;
Saturday’s child is loving and giving;
And a child that’s born on Christmas day
Is fair, and wise, and good, and gay.”[7]

[Pg 338]This, of course, is all nonsense—or rather the belief in such signs—and one day is equally as good as another for nature’s work, or in which to fulfil the requirements of God and nature. Let no mother, or her who is about to become a mother, put faith in old nurses’ whims. Their brains are full of all such fantastic notions, which are too often revealed in the sick room, and the effect is often detrimental to the peace and happiness of the mother, and at times dangerous to the life of the invalid.


Superstition of a Kiss.

The monks of the middle ages—great theorists—divided the kiss into fifteen distinct and separate orders.

1. The decorous or modest kiss.

2. The diplomatic, or kiss of policy.

3. The spying kiss, to ascertain if a woman had drank wine.

4. The slave kiss.

5. The kiss infamous—a church penance.

6. The slipper kiss, practised towards tyrants.

7. The judicial kiss.

8. The feudal kiss.

9. The religious kiss (kissing the cross).

10. The academical kiss (on joining a solemn brotherhood).

11. The hand kiss.

12. The Judas kiss.

13. The medical kiss—for the purpose of healing some sickness.

14. The kiss of etiquette.

15. The kiss of love—the only real kiss. But this was also to be variously considered; viz., given by ardent enthusiasm, as by lovers; by matrimonial affection; or, lastly, between two men—an awful kiss, tasting like sandwiches without butter or meat.

 [Pg 339]



The End is not yet.

The reign of superstition is not yet ended.

It is impossible for any great catastrophe, involving loss of property or life, to occur without a certain superstitious class harping upon the event as a judgment of God upon the wickedness of the victims. If a great city is swept away by the devouring elements, we hear the cry that “an offended Deity has visited the ‘Babylon of the West’ with his vengeance for her wickedness.” Some penurious wretch takes it up, and says, “I’ll give nothing, then, to the victims of the fire. It is God’s judgment; I won’t interfere.” A rich man is murdered in cold blood, and the same howl goes up, “It is the judgment of God upon him for heaping up riches.” The fact of his riches going to thousands of poor artisans, actors, musicians, widows, orphans, and “western Babylonian sufferers,” goes for nothing with such people. These[Pg 340] same superstitious wretches have not yet done asserting that the assassination of President Lincoln was in judgment for his attending a theatre.

Twenty-five persons were killed in a church at Bologna, recently, while kneeling in prayer. Was this an expression of God’s wrath upon church-goers?

“The laws by which God governs the universe are inexorable. The frost will blight, the fire destroy, the storms will ravage, disease and death will do their appointed work, though narrow-mindedness and bigotry misconstrue their intent. All things are for good. If natural laws are violated, the known and inevitable result follows.”

I have already exceeded the space to which this chapter was limited, and there are a thousand superstitious beliefs and practices which are not herein enumerated nor explained. But rest assured that nothing exists without its uses, without the knowledge of the divine Author, and nothing supernatural does or ever did exist amongst natural beings. There is nothing within this world but what God has placed for man’s good. There is nothing here past man’s ability to fathom. God is love.

What there is beyond this world, we shall find out quite soon enough.




[Pg 341]



“His fancy lay to travelling.”—L’Estrange.



One might say, with some propriety, that these characters—travelling doctors—should have been classed under the heading of our first chapter, as “humbugs;” but if we should put all under that head that belong there, O, where would the chapter end? As “all is not gold that glitters,” so neither, on the other hand, is there anything so bad that no virtue can be found in it. No heart is so utterly depraved as to prevent any good thought or deed from emanating therefrom, though sometimes the good is quite imperceptible to us short-sighted mortals.

As the majority of physicians “turned” out of our medical colleges, or of those in practice in our cities, are unfit to have intrusted to their care the health and lives of our families, friends, or ourselves, so the majority of travelling doctors are to be reckoned equally untrustworthy; no more so.

If the blessed Saviour should return to earth, and travel from town to city, as he did eighteen hundred years ago, healing the sick, I really think there would be a less number believing in him now than then. Less gratitude for[Pg 342] his marvellous cures there could not be; for then some of the miserable wretches, whom he healed free of charge, did not so much as return him thanks. This may be said of some of our patients at this day.

Let a medical man of ever so great reputation travel, and he is lost. A band of angels, on a healing mission, would stand no chance with a people who only expect humbugs to visit them. The Shakspearian inquiry would at once and repeatedly be put,—

“How chance it they travel? Their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways!”

Let us view a few travelling doctors through the public eye:—

“So shall I dare to give him shape and hue,
And bring his mazy-running tricks to view;
From humbug’s minions catch the scattered rays,
That in one focus they may brightly blaze.

“I’d give our (nameless) knight, before he starts,
A tireless mind, where never Conscience smarts;
An oily tongue, which word should never speak
To call a blush to Satan’s brazen cheek;
With, yet, a power of lungs the weak to move,
Which lung-quiescent ... might approve;
A changing face, which e’en might Homer feign,
A ton of brass for every ounce of brain.

“Then launch him forth, right cunningly to rage
Through the thin shams of this enlightened age;
To tell the people they are lords of earth,
And pick their pockets while he lauds their worth;
Drug men with folly, which no clime engrosses,
And sense deal out in homeopathic doses;
And making goodness to his projects bend,
With all right aims an ultra spirit blend.
“He leagues with those who number in their trade
A falsehood told for every sixpence made;
To Mammon mortgage all they have of heart,
To keep their wealth, with priceless honor part.
The fear of God the smallest of their fears,
Rolling in wealth, but bankrupt in ideas;
To save their purse, their souls contented lose,
And count all right, if worldly gain accrues;
Who, when they die, no memory leave behind,
But in the curses of their cheated kind!

“With these Sir Humbug riches seeks to gain,
And feels his way through lab’rinths of chicane;
Embezzles, swindles, lies, until at last
The eye of Justice on his crime is cast,
When, drugged with wealth, he quits our plundered shore,
And Texas boasts one fiery hero more.”

 [Pg 343]


[Pg 344] 

[Pg 345]The worst specimen of a travelling doctor I ever knew first appeared at R., one of the principal towns of Vermont, a few years ago. His name was Mariam; or that was what he called himself. He was a Canadian by birth, about twenty-five years of age, short, dark-complexioned, and claimed to be the seventh son of somebody. He was very illiterate, not being able to write a prescription, or his name, for that matter, when he came to R.




I visited his rooms at the hotel, after he had been in town some weeks, and noticed, among other things, that his table was strewn with sheets of paper, upon which he had been practising writing his signature. He opened here boldly. He sent out thousands of circulars in the various trains of cars running from R., distributing[Pg 346] them in person, on the Poor Richard’s principle, that “if you want your work done, do it; if not, send.” He inserted cards in the two village papers, containing the most illiterate and preposterous statements, and hundreds flocked to see him. Imagine his knowledge, for he assured me, to whom he opened his heart in confidence, that he never read a page of a medical work in his life.

He first claimed to cure by the laying on of hands; but as he possessed no magnetic powers, he gradually abandoned that deception. As he could not write a prescription, and knew nothing of compounding medicines, he would go with a patient to a druggist’s, and looking over the names of drugs on the bottles exposed on the shelves, order two or three articles at random, and, as one druggist assured me, of the most opposite properties; such as tincture of iron and iodide of potash, etc. (Note. The acid in the M. Tinct. iron sets the iodine free.)

His clothes were very seedy, “and the crown of his hat went flip flap,” and his toes were healthy, “being able to get out to the air,” when he came to R. Soon he was “in luck,” and a nice suit of clothes, a new silk hat, and boots, speedily graced his not inelegant person. I saw him both before and after the transformation.

The following is a true copy of one of his certificates, taken from his circular:—

A Great Cure of an Ovarian Tumor!

“This is to certify that Dr. Mariam cured me of an immense ovarian tumor of the left shoulder, weighing five pounds and a half, from which I suffered,” etc., etc.

(Signed) Mrs. —— ——.

Malone, N. Y.

On this item being ridiculed in the papers of R., Mariam changed it to a “rose cancer,” and continued the certificate.

Mariam had been practising in Malone, N. Y., also at Whitehall, where, I was informed by a newspaper man, he[Pg 347] was arrested for obtaining money under false pretences. He, however, escaped and fled, to practise his deceptions elsewhere. It was reported that he shuffled off his mortal coil by finally taking two ounces of laudanum, after the civil authorities had placed him comfortably in the county jail, where he had the pleasure of passing many days in viewing the world through an iron-barred window, and reflecting on his eventful career.


The Singing Doctor.

In remarkable contrast with the above described ignoramus, we present the following description, from two contributors, of an extraordinary personage, known for a time as “The Singing Doctor.”

The “Hoosac Valley News” tells this story:—

“One day late in the autumn of 1860, while the rain poured in torrents, and the wind howled fearfully along the hills of old Plymouth, I was obliged to drive to Watertown. The ‘Branch’ was swollen to the river’s size, and foamed madly down over the sombre rocks, while above my head, on the other side of the road, the trees rocked and swayed, as though about to fall into the seething, roaring waters below.

“Above, or mingled with the clashing of the elements, I heard some voice, as if singing. It struck me with wonder. I stopped to listen. It became more distinct, as if approaching. What was it? Who could it be, singing amid the fearful tempest?

“In the midst of my surmising, the object of my wonder came in sight, around a turn in the road just ahead of me.

“It was the Singing Doctor, whom I instantly recognized by his little old white horse, as well as by his own voice, to which I had before listened. The little animal was drenched like a ‘drowned rat.’ The doctor, in his open buggy, with no umbrella,—for the sweeping wind precluded the [Pg 348]possibility of holding one,—and the driving rain pelting mercilessly upon his face and head, was singing.

“‘You must be a happy man,’ I exclaimed, ‘to be singing amid this awful storm.’

“‘Why not?’ he replied. ‘It is always better to be singing than sighing;’ and we passed on through the dangerous defile, and separated....

“Last summer, as I journeyed through the Green Mountain State on a pleasure excursion, I met, on a romantic mountain pass, a magnificent turnout,—a splendid top carriage, drawn by four beautiful, jet black Morgan mares,—which did not attract my attention so much, however, as the music within the carriage. It was the Singing Doctor again, with his two little daughters, singing.

“The handsome and good-natured driver offered me the best half of the road; but still I lingered till the last notes of the song died away, when I drove past the ‘Sanatorian,’ wondering to myself what singing had to do with his increasing prosperity.”

The remainder of the sketch is from the pen of a lady in Vermont:—

“I think it was during the spring of 1867 that our little ‘city on the lake’ was visited by the above remarkable character. We are often visited by migratory physicians, who are usually of the ‘come-and-go’ order; but this one burst upon us like a comet, with dazzling splendor, briefly announced, but at once proclaimed his determination of returning with the regularity of the full moon—repeating his visits every month. Few believed his last arrangement could be carried out, as his predecessors had generally fleeced the invalid public to their utmost at one visit, and if they ever again appeared, it would be under another name and phase. It soon became evident that one visit could not repay the outlay, for no ready posting-board was large enough to hold the agent’s posters, which were printed in strips some twenty-five feet in length, and his advertisements occupied one, two, or more columns of the public journals, while he flooded the houses with his pictorial circulars.

 [Pg 349]


[Pg 350] 

[Pg 351]“He was merely announced as ‘The Sanatorian,’ but was indorsed (true or false?) by some of New England’s most respectable people. He came in grand style, as the papers briefly announced, thus:—

“‘The Sanatorian. This distinguished physician proposes visiting us on the 18th inst.... The doctor comes in great style.... He has the finest carriage, and the gayest four black Morgan horses we have ever had the pleasure of riding after.’




“The driver, a handsome fellow, with full brown whiskers, curling hair, and a ‘heavenly blue eye,’ had taken the editor and writer of this last paragraph out to an airing. The team was photographed by the artists, and many of the best citizens had the pleasure of a ride in the easy carriage, and behind the swift ponies.

“The doctor usually remained incog. to the public. If they wished to see him, they must go to his ‘parlors’ at the best hotels. They did go. And now the most remarkable part of the affair remains to be recorded. An editor who[Pg 352] interviewed him reports thus: ‘The doctor rocks in a rocking-chair,—in fact, never sits in anything else,—or arises and walks the floor, and instantly, at a glance, tells every patient each pain and ache better than the patient could describe them himself. ‘Are you a clairvoyant?’ the editor asked.

“‘Faugh! No, sir. Clairvoyancy is a humbug; merely power of mind over mind. A clairvoyant can go no farther than your own knowledge leads him, unless he guesses the rest,’ was his emphatic reply.

“The same patients, disguised, visited him twice, but he would tell the same story to them as before. His diagnosis was truly wonderful.

“‘What is your mode of treatment, or what school do you represent?’

“‘There hangs my “school,”’ he would reply, pointing to a New York college diploma. ‘That, however, cures nobody. What cures one patient kills another. My opathy is to cure my patient by any means, regardless of “schools.”’

“To some he gave ‘nothing but water,’ the patients affirmed; to others, pills, powders, syrups, or prescriptions. Well, he came the next month, to our surprise, and to the joy of most of his patients. He did the greatest amount of advertising on the first visit, doing less and less puffing each time. The rich, as well as the poor, visited him. He charged all one dollar. Then, if they declined treatment, he was satisfied; but if they doubted, or were sceptical, he refused all prescription. He advertised quite as much by telling one man he was past all help, and would die in eight weeks, which he did, as by curing the mayor of the city of a cough that jeoparded his life. If a poor woman had no money, he treated her just as cheerfully. Men he would not. His cures are said to have been remarkable. He made some eleven visits, and his patrons increased at each visit; but the novelty wore off before he disappeared. He[Pg 353] was said to be an excellent musician, an author and composer, a man who was well read (a physician here who often conversed with him so informed the writer), could translate Latin and French, and converse with the mutes. When the day closed, he would see no more patients, but devoted his time to friends, to writing, or to music. Often the hotel parlor would be thronged at evening with the musical portion of the community. In personal appearance he was nothing remarkable,—medium size, wore full beard, had a sharp black eye, a quick, nervous movement, and his voice was not unpleasing to the ear.

“Why he—such a man—should travel, no one knew. He had an object, doubtless, to accomplish, realized it, and retired upon his true name, and from whence he came.”


Youran, the Spanker.

The writer has many times seen a fellow who travelled the country, nicknamed “the Spanker.” He was a tall, lean, lank-looking Yankee, with red hair and whiskers, a light gray eye, and claimed to cure all diseases by “spatting” the patient, or the diseased part thereof, with cold water on his bare palm, the use of a battery, and a pill. He had served as door-keeper to a famous doctor, who created a furore, a few years since, by the exercise of his magnetic powers, making cripples to throw down their crutches, and walk off; the deaf to hear, the blind to see; or, at least, many of them thought they did, for the time being, which answered the doctor’s immediate purpose. But one fine morning the magnetic doctor found his door-keeper was among the “missing.” He had learned the trade, and set up on his own account.

This fellow was as ignorant of physic as Jack Reynolds was of Scripture. Reynolds, who killed Townsend in 1870, when under sentence of death, listened attentively for the first time to the story of the Saviour’s crucifixion in atonement[Pg 354] for our sins, when he rather startled the visitors, as well as the eminent divine, with the inquiry, “Did that affair happen lately?”

He was not, it is evident, conversant with Scripture. “The Spanker” was not read in medicine. His treatment was the most ridiculous and repulsive of the absurdities of the nineteenth century. The patient was stripped of his clothes, and often so severely spanked as to compel him, or her, to cry out with pain.




The beautiful young wife of the Rev. Mr. F., of Vermont, was brought to the writer for medical advice. The patient was carefully examined, and the minister taken aside, and assured that the lady was past all help; she was in the last stages of consumption; that she would, in all probability, die with the falling of the autumn leaves, or within two months.

The following day the minister carried the patient to the spanker doctor, who declared her case quite curable. The minister employed him to treat the patient.

A few weeks later I saw the minister, seated on the doorstep[Pg 355] of his house, bowed in grief. He was on the lookout for me, as I was expected that way. He called to me, and asked if I would view the corpse of his once beautiful wife. I dismounted, and entered the house of mourning. There lay the poor, fair young face, within the narrow confines of the coffin. The cheeks were hollow, the eyes sunken, and the nostrils closed, and I doubt if any air had passed through the left one for weeks—pathognomonic indications of that fell disease, consumption.

“She did not live as long, doctor, as you thought she would, in August,” said Mr. F.

“No, sir: I did not then make allowance for the harsh treatment of Dr. ——, that, I am advised, soon followed.”




“O, sir,” he exclaimed, in agony of soul, while the tears coursed freely down his cheeks, and fell upon the coffin,—“O, sir, God only knows what the poor thing suffered.[Pg 356] Dr. Youran said the spatting and cold water treatment would save her, and I was anxious to try it, and did, till the poor, dear soul begged us, with tearful eyes, not to punish her further, but to let her die in peace.”

The ignorant scoundrel is still at large, preying upon the invalid public. It is a burning shame that the laxity of our laws permits such ignorant, heartless wretches to go about the country, imposing upon the credulity of invalidity.

The invalids, as we said in our opening, expect to be humbugged, and will believe no honest statement of a case and its probabilities, but will too often swallow the lies and braggadocio, and finally the prescriptions, of ignorant charlatans and impostors.




Mr. Jeaffreson, in the “Book about Doctors,” before often quoted, says of the English travelling doctor of the last century,—

“When Dr. Pulsfeel was tired of London, or felt the want of country air, he adopted the pleasant occupation of fleecing rustic simplicity. For his journeys he provided himself with a stout and fast-trotting hack—stout, that it might bear weighty parcels of medical composition; fast, that in case the ungrateful rabble should commit the indecorum of stoning their benefactor as an impostor,—a mishap that would occasionally occur,—escape might be effected.

[Pg 357]“In his circuit the doctor took in all the fairs, markets, wakes, and public festivals, not disdaining to stop an entire week, or even month, at an assize town, where he found the sick anxious to benefit by his marvellous wisdom.

“His manner of making himself known in a new place was to ride boldly into the thickest crowd of a town, and inform his listeners that he had come straight from the Duke of So-and-so, or the Emperor of Wallachia, out of an innate desire to do good to his fellow-creatures. He was born in that very town. He had left it when an orphan boy, to seek his fortune in the great world. His adventures had been wonderful. He had visited the Sultan and the Great Mogul; and the King of Mesopotamia had tried to persuade him to tarry and keep the Mesopotamians out of the devil’s clutches by the offer of a thousand pieces of gold a month. He had cured thousands of emperors, kings, queens, princes, grand duchesses, and generalissimos. He sold all kinds of medicaments—dyes for the hair, washes for the complexion, lotions, rings, and love charms, powders to stay the palsy, fevers, croup, and jaundice. His powder was expensive; he couldn’t help that; it was made of pearl-dust and dried violet leaves from the middle of Tartary. Still, he would sell his friends a package at bare cost,—one crown,—as he did not want to make money out of them.

“Nothing could surpass the impudence of the fellow’s lies, save the admiration with which his credulous auditors swallowed his assertions. There they stood—stout yeomen, drunken squires, gay peasant girls, gawky hinds and gabbling crones, deeming themselves in luck to have lived to behold such a miracle of wisdom. Possibly a young student, home from Oxford, with the rashness of inexperience, would smile scornfully, and cry out, ‘Quack!’ (quack-salver, from the article he used to cure wens); but such interruption was usually frowned down by the orthodox friends of the student, and he was warned that he would come to[Pg 358] no good end, if he went on as he had begun, a contemptuous unbeliever, and a mocker of wise men.”


A Musical Doctor.

Mr. Dayton, vocalist, told me of a fellow who cut a swell in various capacities a few years ago. He first knew him as a fiddler at fairs. The next time he turned up was under the following circumstances:—

“With Madam L. and some other renowned vocalist, he was giving concerts, when one day their pianist was taken suddenly sick. Madam was in great trepidation.




“‘What shall I do? The concert cannot be postponed, and we cannot sing unless we have an accompaniment,’ exclaimed the lady.

“I looked about, made some inquiry,—it was in a small town,—but no competent piano player could be found.

“‘We must abandon the concert,’ I said, which seemed inevitable, when there came a sharp knock at the door.

“‘Come in,’ I called.

“The door opened, and instead of a servant, as I had expected, there appeared a tall, stout specimen of the genus homo, with large black eyes, and long, dark hair flowing down on to his shoulders, making his best bow, and what he doubtless intended as his sweetest smile.

“I offered him a chair, and inquired how I could serve him.

[Pg 359]“‘You want a piano player?’


“‘Well, I will undertake to assist you in your strait. Allow me to see your programme,’ he continued, very patronizingly, waiting for us to make no reply whatever.

“‘Are you—that is, do you play rapidly, and at sight?’ asked madam.

“He replied only by a gesture, a sort of pitiful contempt for the ignorance of any person who should ask him such a question....

“Half past seven came, and we went on the stage. I do not know what the fellow’s prelude was; I was otherwise engaged; but his accompaniments were made up, and after he had heard the note sung to which he should have accompanied,—O, it was a horrid jargon, a consecutive blast of discords, a tempest of incomprehensibleness.




“Madam caught her breath at the first pausing-place, and signalled him to stop. He took a side glance at her, misinterpreted her, and played on the louder. It became ludicrous in the extreme. He played the minor strains, or what should have been minor, in the major key. He only stopped when he saw us leave the stage. The audience cheered. He took it all as a compliment to himself as a pianist, stopped, and made his most profound obeisance to the house. They laughed and cheered the harder. He mistook it for an encore, bowed again, and returned to the piano. Then the house came down. They stamped,[Pg 360] they laughed, they shouted. The boys in the gallery cat-called; the building fairly shook. I ran back to see what it was all about, and there was the pianist (?) beating furiously at the keys, the perspiration pouring in streams from his face. But his playing could only be seen to be appreciated; it could not be heard for the stamping of the audience. He finally desisted, and with repeated halts and smiles, he bowed himself off the stage.

“His grand debut and retirement upon the stage occurred the same night. Madam would not permit him to go on again, and we sang the duets from —— without accompaniment. I think the fellow knew nothing of music; he had ‘cheeked’ it right through.

“Perhaps it was two years afterwards—I was staying at the B. Hotel, Maine—when I heard a deal of talk about a great doctor then in town. After dinner the first day, I noticed a man sauntering leisurely from the dining-hall in embroidered slippers, white silk stockings, black pants, gaudy dressing-gown, with long hair falling down over his shoulders. I thought I recognized that face. I approached him after a while, and called him by name.

“‘What? Why, I think you are mistaken. I do not know you, sir,’ he stammered; and then I knew he had recognized me.

“‘O, yes; I am Dayton. You remember you were our pianist once in a strait, in S.’

“‘O, ah! Come up to my room,’ he said, leading the way.

“I followed, when he told me he was doing a good thing at the practice of medicine about the principal towns of the state, and begged I would say nothing about his former occupation. He stated to me that he had been to Europe, and had been studying medicine meantime, which I have since ascertained was entirely untrue.”

And this was the fellow over whom the town was running wild.

[Pg 361]The idea of some men trying to become good physicians is as ridiculously absurd as Horace Greeley’s farming, or trying to ascertain if “cundurango is explosive.” The requisite qualities are not in them. They may keep along a few years, or possibly, in communities where there is no competition, succeed in making the people believe they are as good as the common run, and thus succeed on brass instead of brains.

Some of these brainless travelling impostors employ a female or two to precede them from place to place, and make diligent inquiry when the great doctor who performed such marvellous cures in some adjoining town mentioned was coming there. Thus putting it in the shape of an inquiry, it was less likely to excite suspicion.

Two females—one an elderly, lady-like looking woman, the other younger, and anything but lady-like—travelled for a doctor, on a salary, during the summer and autumn of 1868. A lady whose occupation took her from town to town, seeing the two females at various hotels where the doctor was advertised, inveigled the younger one into the confession, in her bad temper, and thus I got my evidence. Another travels on his hair; another on his face; and a fourth on his free advice and treatment; while a fifth succeeds by absurdity of dress.




[Pg 362]



“History, so warm on meaner themes,
Is cold on this.”—Cowper’s Task.

“Let no one say that his task is o’er,
That bonds of earth are for him no more,
Until by some kind or holy deed
His name from forgetfulness is freed;
Until by words from his lips or pen,
Dying, he’s ‘missed’ from the ranks of men.”
Alice Lee.



Ill-clad poverty, benumbed with cold, was abroad alone, exposed to that winter’s night, as the white snow fleeced the frost-hardened ground. But never mind earth’s cold bosom. The rich man’s heart warms him, making him merry, however blows the wind or rages the storm. Shiver, shiver on, beggar poor! Starvation and sense-dulling cold alone belong to you.

Through the crunching snow-drifts trudged a weary boy, with alms-basket on his shivering arm. From his figure, he seemed not over ten years old; but his face was so wan and[Pg 363] melancholy, that it was difficult to tell how many year-blights the beggar child had experienced. Summer clothes were still clinging to him; a tattered comforter was the only winter article he wore.




A gay carriage rolled noiselessly by, with a beautiful girl within, well wrapped in fur and cloak, whilst the snow was dashed from the rapid wheels like white dust. She saw, through the dim light, the weary, thin-clad boy, as he stopped, with face bent aside to the flake-burdened blast, to gaze at the smoking horses, as they plunged through the fast-deepening sheet. She dropped the sash, and threw the boy a coin. It sank from her warm hand deep into the drifted snow. It might have brought him bread and a[Pg 364] cheering fagot, but the smitten child never found it. The snow closed over the coveted prize, while the blast grew keener.

On, on toiled the beggar boy, through drift and darkness, more weary as night gathered on. Thus is it ever with the humble poor; their load grows heavier as life lessens. No light or warming hearth is there—things that make house a home—to welcome the wandering boy.

The clock had just struck two as I was summoned to the house of Mrs. T. The same carriage that, in the evening, had borne the beautiful young girl, awaited at my door, with its impatient horses snorting against the frosted air. A few minutes later I entered the house. Mrs. T. met me in the hall, with her face deadly pale, and manner much excited. Her singular nervousness had before struck me on my visits, whenever her daughter ailed. She informed me that her “darling Emily” was very ill with a high fever.

We entered the chamber. The young girl lay with her head turned aside upon the pillow, her golden-brown hair scattered in wild profusion upon its white cover, while the nurse was gently moistening the fevered palm of her outstretched hand. The pulse was beating wildly at the wrist and temples, and fever heat glowed from her lustrous eyes. Whilst the nurse held the light to her face, the traces of dried tears were revealed upon her suffused cheeks.

“Heartache surely is here,” I said to myself.

There was something in the whole appearance of my patient that excited my curiosity and surprise. Only eight or ten hours had passed since she, from her carriage, had thrown the snow-claimed alms to the beggar boy, and now a high fever was running hot through every artery of her body.

Silently seated by the bedside, after administering a cooling draught I awaited and watched for the changes that might ensue. Her mother sat near the fire, its blaze lighting[Pg 365] up every feature of her once beautiful face, which still remained very pale. In all my intercourse with Mrs. T., I never before had so prolonged an opportunity of examining in detail the expression of her countenance. The longer I gazed on her, the more satisfied I became that she had not passed through life without a fearful history.

It was this sensation which struck me when I first became acquainted with her. A few vague rumors had floated about relative to her history; that a strange desertion of her husband had taken place, and that he afterwards was found drowned in the river, near his residence, and that by his death Mrs. T. had become possessed of an immense estate. These stories had, however, soon subsided; and as her means were ample, and her charities liberal, the gossips of the town quietly dropped the past, and speculated upon the future, as should all respectable gossips.

The voice of the patient diverted my thoughts; a few words were murmured, and then the lips pressed tremblingly together, and the tear-drops again started to her cheeks. Suddenly springing up in bed, and threading her long, curling hair through her slender fingers, she exclaimed, in a thrilling, delirious tone,—

“It cannot be true! O, mother—tell me, mother!”

Mrs. T. fairly leaped to the bedside, and placing her hand over the daughter’s mouth, with affrighted gestures, she exclaimed,—

“What is it? What does she mean? My God, doctor, she raves!”

The girl fell back on her pillow; the mother stood, pale and trembling, by the bedside, with a nameless terror depicted on every feature. Turning to me, in a quick, restless voice, she bade me hasten to give her child a quieting draught.

“O, anything that will keep her from raving!”

The room was not over warm for such a bitter night,[Pg 366] yet the perspiration stood upon the brow of the excited mother like the fallen dew.

“Conscience must lie here,” I thought to myself.

In the course of an hour the sufferer slumbered heavily; her breathing was hurried and oppressed, the fever had increased, and her moanings were constant.

Day was breaking, as I left my young patient to return home through the falling snow. As I looked out of the carriage window, I saw a little boy sitting on the cold walk. It was the poor beggar boy of yesterday, as thinly clad, with his pale cheek as white as the snowdrifts through which he had toiled. I ordered the coachman to stop.




“What brought you out, and where are you going, on this cold winter morning, my poor boy?” I exclaimed.

[Pg 367]He raised his beautiful dark eyes to my face, and my heart grieved at their look of utter hopelessness, as he faintly answered, “To beg for me and old grandma.”

“Are you not very cold, in those thin clothes?” I asked.

His little teeth chattered, as he replied, “O, I am very—cold—sir.”

The impatient horses plunged violently in the traces, and the coachman asked to be allowed to drive on. I gave the poor boy the few silver coins that were in my pocket, and we passed on.

I never saw that boy but once again; his look haunts me to this day.

As I rode on, memory was busy tracing where I had ever seen features like his. The dark hair, that lay in uncombed curls upon his forehead, and clustered warmly about his neck, as though in protection against the bitter cold; his large, black eyes, with their long lashes; the finely-chiselled outlines of his mouth and nose,—these all impressed me that I had somewhere seen a face which strikingly resembled his. Poor boy! beauty was his only possession.

At breakfast a letter was handed me, summoning me immediately to one of my own children, who lay sick in a distant town. Before leaving I wrote a hurried note to Mrs. T., stating the cause of my sudden departure, desiring her to call another physician, during my absence. The young girl’s fate and the poor beggar boy’s face were almost forgotten in my own cares.

On the sixth day following, I again found myself at home. My first thought was for poor Emily. I dreaded to ask; there was something whispering to my heart that all was not well.

My suspense was not long; a messenger had just left, stating that the dear girl was fast failing; that her physician had pronounced her laboring under typhus fever. My[Pg 368] God, how my heart sank under these words! I had dreaded this mistake after I left. Alas! how many have fallen by the name of a disease, and not by the disease itself!

After a hurried meal, I drove rapidly to Mr. T.’s residence. The house door was quietly opened by a servant, and in another minute I stood in the chamber of the invalid. The mantel was crowded with numerous vials. The close atmosphere of the sick-room was sickening. By the bedside, with her face bowed over one of the pale hands of the daughter, which she held in both of her own, sat the wretched mother. It seemed to me as though ten years had passed over her faded and care-worn countenance, since I last gazed upon it. I could not stir; my heart stood still. Her hair had become entirely gray.




I gained heart to approach; the desolate mother heard me, and turning quickly she sprang from her chair, and[Pg 369] placing her hands on my shoulders, she bowed her head: she sobbed wildly, as though her heart would break.

“Look, look, doctor! Would you have known her? O, my God, she is leaving me! Save her—O, save her!” and the wretched mother fell fainting to the floor. We gently raised and bore her to her own chamber. In a few moments I returned to Emily. She turned her head languidly towards me, while her right hand moved as if to take mine. How dry was the palm! Her color had faded away; the once rounded cheeks were sunken. O, I will not describe her!

The physician who had been called, after my departure, had found her with high fever and delirium. He mistook the excitement of the brain for its inflammation. O, fatal error! A consultation was called. The second comer was notedly a man who viewed every excitement as caused by “an over-action of the vessels,” and bleeding was its only relief. The nervous system he entirely ignored. From his theory, man was a mere combination of blood, blood-vessels, and biliary secretions, more or less deranged. Calomel, salts, and the lancet were his Hercules. The grand causa mortis amongst the human family was “serosity.” Hence some evil-minded wag amongst his brethren had named him “Old Serosity.”

The poor child had been bled, cupped, and purged, in order to subdue this “over-action of the blood-vessels.” Verily it may cure the vessels, but it certainly kills the patient.

The life current was nigh exhausted; there was no blood left for renewal of brain, nerve, or vital tissue. My heart was bitter against this murderous adherence to a false principle. Here a human life, that of a young and spotless girl, was the forfeit.

But to return to the thread of the narrative.

“O, I am glad you have come back to me. Do try to save me, doctor,” she said, with great effort. Sending the[Pg 370] nurse from the room, I quickly pressed the young girl’s hand within my own, and said to her,—

“Do you really wish to live, Emily?”

“Yes, yes,” she murmured; “I am very young to die.”

“Then, my dear, tell me truly what has so terribly shocked your nervous system; tell me.” With a strength that startled me, she searched under the mattress side, and drew forth a small note, which she silently placed in my hand. It was discolored by time. I opened it; the date was above twelve years back. It ran thus:—

“When you receive this, Mira (Mrs. T.’s given name), my career will have ended. By my death you will inherit all. Let my unborn child have its just, legal claim. Your child, Emily, take to your home as though she were an adopted orphan. Let not her youth be blighted by the knowledge of her unblest birth. I forgive you. Adieu, forever. H. T.”

“O my God, the doomed child is illegitimate,” I said. I stooped down and kissed the sufferer’s forehead, and promised that I would be a father to her. “Come, cheer up,” I whispered, “for your mother’s sake. If she has sinned she has suffered much for your sake; forgive her.”

“I do forgive her,” she whispered, “but can I forget myself, unblessed as I am? But I must know the whole truth. O, where is the right heir of all this wealth? My memory returns now, indistinctly, to my earlier days. A cloud intervenes. I remember but a small cottage, in a deep wood, where mother often came to see me, and a tall woman took care of me. Then came a gay carriage, and took me to a large house; but I never again returned to the cottage in the wood. There, at the large house, mother left me a long time; and when she came back—O, doctor, I can speak no longer. Do give me something to strengthen me, and I will try yet to live.”

A cordial was administered by my own hands, and in a[Pg 371] short time sleep overcame her. Night again closed in; the wind had sunk to rest with the setting sun. Another night of bitter cold was ushered in. Woe to the poor! Woe to the hungry and the fireless.


As I entered the mother’s apartments I found her sitting by a private secretary, which had been brought from the library. Its lid was open, and as I seated myself she took from a package of tied letters a sealed paper, and placing it in my hands, said,—

“Read this at your leisure, doctor. My pilgrimage of life is nigh ended. You will judge how great my sin, and how severe has been my punishment. I ask no forgiveness, for there will be none left to forgive me.”

Well, I knew her heart was nigh crushed!

I sought the daughter’s chamber. How still was everything! The very candle, with its long flame, parted by the thickened wick-char, seemed not to flicker, as it burned dimly on. I looked at the bed; the sweet girl lay with both hands crossed upon her bosom, as though in prayer. An orange-blossom had dropped from her grasp, and lay neglected by her side; her life-hand never touched it more! Death had claimed his bride!

A wild shriek sounded through the house. The erring mother now knew that she was alone in the great world.

Whilst the shrouding of the dead took place I retired and opened the sealed package. It briefly told its tale of sin and sorrow.

It told how from the first love Emily was the fruit, and how, unknown to all, the child had been secreted; how, about three years after Emily’s birth, the mother was married to Harold T., whom she never loved; and how, by a singular accident, the knowledge of her transgression became known to her husband; that, after violently cursing her for her sin and deception, he left her, and shortly afterwards [Pg 372]committed suicide; that the letter (written by him just before his death), which was so fatal to the peace and life of Emily, had accidentally dropped from the secretary, and was picked up by her (that night after her return in the carriage), unknown to the mother until the sixth day after my return, when she missed it.

The narrative went on to state that a male child was born after T.’s death, and that, seized with an insane fury, she resolved that he never should inherit its father’s name and wealth; and that, through the assistance of a nurse, it was placed with a sum of money at a beggar’s door, and a dead child laid beside the mother instead; that before sending the infant away, the nurse tattooed its father’s initials on its left arm. The beggar had died, and all traces of the child had been lost. At length her guilty conscience so reproached her that the mother had instituted search for the child, but all in vain.

As I read this tale of crime and repentance, busy memory traced out the features of the beggar boy! Like a sudden light it burst upon me—those features that had so tormented my memory to recall were those of the unhappy mother.

Quickly I went to her room. She was not there. I hastened to Emily’s. The mother was wildly clasping the enshrouded form of her daughter, and weeping as though her heart would break asunder. Gently removing her to her own chamber, I intimated that another child, long lost, might yet be restored to her.

She listened as one bewildered. I then informed her of my adventure with the beggar boy.

It was hardly day-dawn as I entered the carriage. My breath froze against the window panes. After a short ride the horses stopped before the wretched snow-covered hovel (where he had seen the beggar child once enter). I opened the carriage door, leaped out, and placed my hand on the latch. The door opened. It was neither bolted nor locked;[Pg 373] for no thief would enter there. In the corner of the room lay a bundle of rugs, with some straw, but it was unoccupied. Near the fireplace, where nought but a little well-charred bark remained upon the cold ashes, half reclining in a large wooden chair, lay the beggar boy.




His cap had fallen on the ground, and his dark, curling hair fell clustering over his extended arm, as his head rested upon it. He had seemingly fallen asleep the night before, for his thin summer clothes were on his person, and his basket, yet filled with the fragments of broken feasts, remained [Pg 374]untouched at his feet. I placed my hand upon his beautiful head; it was icy cold. Quickly brushing back the fallen ringlets from his face, the unmistakable evidence of death met my gaze.

He had apparently fallen asleep weeping, for a tear-drop lay frozen between the long lashes that fringed the eyelids.

I raised the stiffened body of the ill-fated youth, and tearing away the thin sleeve from his left arm, I distinctly discovered the letters ‘H. T.’ thereon.

Deserted, famished, and frozen, death had claimed the darling, lone boy before he knew a mother’s love!

This sad tale is taken from “Scenes in Northern Practice by Dr. Dewees, N. Y.”—Scalpel, 1855. (And like all the stories herein, it has the merit of being true to the letter.)


The Terrible Caller.

It was about half past nine in the morning.

My office door suddenly opened, and looking up from my writing, I saw, standing in the passage-way, a very tall man, in a long white frock, reaching to his knees, sleeves rolled to his elbows, a slouched hat set back on his head, his face painted or bedaubed with some white substance, and his eyes gleaming upon me most intensely!

There he stood, looking almost fiercely upon me, while he held the door-knob with his left hand, and grasped with his right a long carving-knife, which was thrust through his belt.

“Are you the doctor?” he shouted with excitement.

“I am the doctor,” I replied, calmly awaiting my fate.

He instantly stepped inside the room, when close behind him was revealed the form of a very short man, who held a Kossuth hat in one hand, while with a handkerchief in the other, he stanched the blood that had evidently been flowing pretty freely from his head.

“This man has cut himself very bad on the head; big[Pg 375] iron wheel come down on him: can you fix him up?” asked the first. This accounted for his excited manner. But how about the bedaubed face and the huge knife?




I examined the wound, only through the scalp, less than three inches in length; and washing away the surplus clotted blood, I clipped off the hair, and soon secured the edges of the gaping wound by taking a stitch or two through the scalp.

While so doing, the young man rolled his eyes up to his tall companion,—who had explained that they were cooks at[Pg 376] Young’s Hotel, and that the spit wheel and shaft used for turning meat had fallen eight feet; by which the assistant had barely escaped being killed,—and with a commendable show of thought for his employer’s interest, rather than his own comfort or safety, he anxiously exclaimed,—

“Jim, do you think that gentleman’s ‘order,’ what I had in the spit, is overdone yet?”


An Irish Scene.

A young Irish girl, with a wild shriek, an “Och, hone!” and “Ah, murther!” and “Hulla-boo—a—hulla-boo, poor Terry! Ah, why did I taze ye?” burst into my office one evening, upsetting the servant, and actually laying hold on me with her hands, as she exclaimed,—

“Ah, docther, docther, come now, for the love o’ the moother that bore ye; come this blessed minute. I’ve killed poor Terry, an’ niver shall see him again. Ah, murther, murther! Why did I taze ye?”




Trying in vain to calm her, I hastily drew on my boots, and almost ran after her to a wretched tenement, some quarter[Pg 377] of a mile off, and found the object of the girl’s solicitude alive and kicking, with his lungs in the best of order, standing on the stairs that led to his miserable chamber, with a broken scissors in his hand, stirring busily the contents of a tea-cup.

It seems that he had been courting my fair guide, and after the period she had fixed for her final answer to his declaration, she had bantered him with a refusal, which her solicitude for his life plainly showed was far enough from her real intentions.

In his despair he had swallowed an ounce of laudanum, which he had procured from some injudicious druggist, which act had sent Biddy off after me in such terror. He was now mixing a powder which he had obtained from another druggist, who, knowing of his love affair, it will be seen acted with more wisdom than the first, as Terry let slip enough in his hearing to show what he wanted to do with the “ratsbane” for which he inquired; and Biddy, like a true daughter of Eve, had made no secret in the neighborhood that she valued her charms beyond the poor fellow’s bid.

As soon as she approached, he, by some inopportune remark, re-excited her wrath, and she again declared she wouldn’t have him, “if he wint to the divil.”

Poor Terry, in his red shirt and blue stockings, and an attitude of the grandest kind, but covering, as we soon found, a desperate purpose, flourished his tea-cup, and stirred its contents with the scissors, constantly exclaiming,—

“Ah, Biddy, will ye have me? Ye’ll have me now—will ye not?”

Still Biddy refused.

“Divil a bit will I let the docther come near me till ye say yis! Sure, weren’t we children together in the ould counthry? and didn’t we take our potaties and butthermilk out o’ the same bowl? And yer mother, that’s now dead,[Pg 378] always said ye were to be me wife; and now ye’re kapin’ coompany with that dirty blackguard, Jim O’Connor,—divil take him for a spalpeen. Ah, Biddy, will ye have me?”

And he flourished the cup, and stirred away vigorously with the scissors.

Biddy’s blood was up at the disrespectful mention made of Jimmy’s name, for “he had a winnin’ way wid him,” and she shouted at the top of her voice,—

“No, be the St. Patrick, I’ll niver have ye.”

With an awful gulp, Terry drained the cup, rolled up his eyes, and with one most impassioned yet ludicrous look at her, he fell upon his knees on the step.

Biddy followed, in strong hysterics.

The whole affair was so irresistibly ludicrous that I scarce could keep from laughing; but on observing the bottle, labelled “laudanum,” and looking into the bottom of the tea-cup, and discovering a white powder, I changed my prognosis, and hastened to the druggist’s near, to see what it was, and procure an antidote, should it really prove “ratsbane.”

To my great relief, the man of drugs informed me, laughingly, that he had given Terry a quantity of chalk and eight grains of tartar emetic, as he learned that Terry was already in possession of the ounce of laudanum, and all the neighbors knew that Biddy had driven him to desperation by flirting with his rival, Jim O’Connor. The young man had judiciously told Terry that the powder would make the laudanum sure to operate more effectually.

“How long will it take?” he asked, and bagged all for use when the refusal should come.

My course was now clear. I was in for sport. Sending the druggist’s clerk for my stomach-pump, to be in readiness in case the emetic should not operate,—which was scarcely impossible, for eight grains of tartar emetic, taken at a dose, would almost vomit the potatoes out of a bag,—I waited the result.

[Pg 379]As for Biddy, I let her lie; for I thought she deserved her punishment. My heart was always tender towards the sex, and I generally expected a “fellow-feeling.”




In a short time it became evident that Terry’s stomach was not so tough as his will, and he began to intermingle long and portentous sighs with his prayers, and to perspire freely. I gave him a wide berth, in anticipation of the Jonah that was to come up shortly. I was anxious now that Biddy should revive in time to witness his grand effort. Terry was tough, and held out. Shortly she revived, and[Pg 380] suddenly starting up, and recollecting the situation, she made one bound for Terry, crying,—

“Ah, Terry, Terry, dear Terry! I’ll have ye now. Yis, I will; and I don’t care who hears me. I always loved ye, but that divil’s baby, Mag, always kept tellin’ me ye’d love me the betther if I didn’t give in to ye too soon. Ah, Terry, dear, only live, and I’ll go to the ends of the world for ye. Ah, an’ what would me poor mother say, if she was here? Och, hone! Och, hone! Docther, now what are ye doin’? A purty docther ye are; an’ ye pumped out yer own counthryman, that didn’t die, sure, an’ he tuk twice as much as poor Terry.”

Meantime the boy had arrived with the pump.

“Up wid ye now, and use the black pipe ye put down the poor fellow’s throat over the way last summer. I’d take it mesilf, if it would do; but God knows whether I’d be worth the throuble.”

As Terry had not yet cast up his accounts, and the stomach-pump was at hand, I determined to make a little more capital out of the case, and thrusting the long, flexible India rubber tube down poor Terry’s throat, having separated his teeth by means of a stick, and holding his head between my knees, I soon had the satisfaction of depositing the laudanum and tartar emetic in a swill pail, the only article of the toilet the place afforded.

After years proved Terry and Biddy most loving companions. He never, even when drunk, more than threatened her “wid a batin’, which she was desarvin’,” and she never forgave “that divil’s baby, Mag,” for her cruel experiment on her heroic and devoted Terry.—Practice of a New York Surgeon.

 [Pg 381]

A Life Scene.

The Situation.—I was young, but, with a wife and child dependent upon my practice for food, raiment, and shelter, I was striving manfully; with my household gods and goods I had located here, in a small village, a year before. My beginning was encouraging, my success in practice more than flattering. But an immense opposition had met and nearly overthrown me, in the form of a man, a deacon of the —— church. He was one of those “rule or ruin” men whom you will find in every one-horse village. I did not at first know my man,—he did not know me,—or I should have avoided his ill will. I did not know his tenaciousness of titles—he was an esquire also—which was my first unpardonable offence. He swore—“as deacons do”—that I should not practise in that town. I swore, as doctors will, that “so long as I could obtain a potato and a clam a day I would remain while he was my opposer.” Clams could be dug at low water, within a few rods of my house; potatoes I grew on the quarter acre of ground given me as partial inducement to settle in that town. His two drunken sons were his emissaries of evil, set on for my overthrow, in addition to the father’s voice and known opposition, which few dared to meet. My practice dwindled. A few Nicodemuses came by night, but my darling wife trembled for my very life when I had a night call. My provision was often short, my poor horse was mere skin and bones, standing, day after day, gnawing his empty manger.

“O, is there a God in Israel?” I cried, in my anguish, more than once.

Yes, the reply came to my prayers; there is a God of recompense.


The Betrayed.—My patient was a young girl, over whose golden head but seventeen summers had flown, on rosy wings.[Pg 382] Her form was sylph-like, and face as beautiful as the opening flower in the golden sunshine of early day. She was an attendant at his church, a member of his Sabbath school class, and a singer in the choir....




I was shown to her room. Sorrow, and not disease, had left its impress upon her fair young face. Rumor had already given me a hint on which to diagnose my case.

“Who has done this wicked thing?” I asked, holding her hand, and looking kindly into her eyes.

“O, my God! O, I must not tell,” she cried, springing up from her couch. I never shall forget the terror depicted on that fair young countenance, as she pronounced these words.

[Pg 383]“You must tell. You should not suffer this shame and burden alone. Tell me truly. Who has done it? I must know. There may be a chance to cover the shame and make your babe legitimate. Come,” I said.

“O, sir, dear doctor, it can never be;” and she fell back on her pillow, weeping and wringing her hands in awful anguish.

“Come, it shall be done;” and I firmly held to the point.

She arose. I gave her a bowl and napkin that were near; she bathed her inflamed and swollen eyes, then, with surprising calmness and fortitude, took a pencil and a bit of paper from the light-stand at her bedside, and wrote a name.

She then handed it to me, saying “’Tis he.” I read the name. I jumped to my feet. I forgot my tender patient. I forgot all but my own sufferings, and those of my dear little wife and darling babe, and their enemy, as I cried out,—

“O, my God in Israel! I have got him! I shall be avenged!”

“O, don’t, doctor! What is the matter?” exclaimed the affrighted girl, rising in bed. I had rushed, almost frantically across the room and back. “Forgive me,” I said, “I—I forgot myself. Pardon me.”

“O, sir, I thought you were mad.”

“I was, dear girl. It is past. Now to your case.” And I proceeded to unfold to her unsophisticated mind the true state of affairs. Here was a pure, respectable, though poor young girl, under age, who had been betrayed, locked into an office, and seduced by a son of the squire, and deserted, threatened—left to bear the burden and disgrace alone. She dared not divulge the name of her destroyer, because of the position of his family in the community. I dared. But to bring her mind up above her fears, to compel the young man to make restitution, as far as lay in his power, was a severe task. It was my duty to do this; sweeter then than duty, it was my revenge! By implicating the[Pg 384] real villain, I released several other young men from suspicion, particularly one young man with red hair.

The girl was taken away from the sight of dear sister’s sinister looks, and the influence and threats of the seducer, and secret offers of bribery of the deacon, his father.

The law took its course. No eye could see the hand that worked the machinery. The time was counted almost to a day, as the result proved. The young man was arrested, and gave bonds. It became the theme of general conversation. I was interviewed. I was dumb—deaf—blind! Threats and bribes proved equally ineffectual to induce me to give an opinion, or a pledge not to appear in the coming trial at the next term of the Superior Court. To marry the poor, unfortunate girl was beneath the dignity of the seducer and family. They would pay their last farthing first, or the young man would sooner go to prison for the crime. His two sisters carried their heads higher than ever. The two sons threatened my life. But I kept on the even tenor of my way. The girl became a mother.

“Next Tuesday court sits,” whispered everybody, and nothing in town was discussed but the probabilities of the pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit was nothing, the fine was nothing, which the justice might impose; even imprisonment was nothing in comparison to acknowledgment of an illegitimate child by the deacon’s family, notwithstanding the child was not red-haired, but much resembled its reputed father, the deacon’s son.

There was no trial. The squire paid a sum of money to the idiotic old father of the beautiful young mother, and agreed, orally, to support the child, and the suit was withdrawn. But this virtually acknowledged the child, and the girl returned to her father’s roof for shelter, and a place wherein to weep alone over her so-called fatherless child, and hide her shame (?) from the uncharitable world.

[Pg 385]The town became too cramped for the squire and his beautiful family. He sold out, but not before he had lost his rule there, and was hanged in effigy as being “too Secesh.”

The seducer married a frail beauty, who mourns a drunken, brutish husband.

The other son became steady, and married a lovely girl—my first patient.

The daughters never wedded. Too proud to marry a poor man, too poor and destitute of real beauty or accomplishments for a wealthy or refined man to desire to wed them, they became servants and lackeys. If I desire a lunch at a certain saloon, one of them awaits my order. No matter about the other unfortunate, unloved girl. The father is an imbecile invalid. God is my witness, my judge, I long ago buried my hard feelings against them; they have only my commiseration.




[Pg 386]



“Three faces wears the doctor; when first sought,
An angel’s and a god’s, the cure half wrought;
But, when, the cure complete, he seeks his fee,
The d——l looks then less terrible than he.”
Euricus Cordus, 1530.



The great German physician who wrote the above died (as he ought, for putting so much truth into four lines) in 1538. He, of all physicians of his day, earned his fees; but it is often the case that the most deserving get the least reward, and Cordus was not an exception to the rule. A good physician, or surgeon, is seldom a sharp financier, and vice versa. “It is hard to serve two masters.”

Ancient physicians’ fees were much larger, considering the difference in the value of money, than modern.

Erasistratus, in the year 330 B. C., received from General Seleucus, of Alexander’s army, to whom the kingdom of Syria fell at the termination of the Macedonian conquest, the enormous sum of 60,000 crowns as a fee for his discovery of the disorder of the general’s son, Antiochus. The Emperor Augustus employed four physicians, viz., Albutus, Arantius, Calpetanus, and Rubrius, to each of whom he paid[Pg 387] an annual salary of 250,000 sesterces, equal to $10,000. Martialis, the Spanish epigramist, who was born in 40 A. D. says Alconius received 10,000,000 sesterces ($400,000) for a few years’ practice.


Large Fees.

French physicians were never very well paid. The surgeons of Charlemagne were tolerably well recompensed. Ambrose Pare, the great surgeon, and inventor of ligatures (for peculiar arteries),—previous to whose time the arteries were seared with a hot iron; otherwise the patient bled to death,—received 5,000 francs for ligaturing one artery. Louis XIV. gave his surgeons 75,000 crowns each for successfully performing upon him a surgical operation.

Upon the confinement of Maria Louise, second wife of the great Napoleon, four physicians—Bourdier, Corvisat, Dubois, and Ivan—received the sum of $20,000. Dubois was the principal, and received one half of the amount,—not a very extravagant remuneration; but then Napoleon held a mean opinion of physicians in general, and this fee was not to be wondered at. Dupuytren, the distinguished French surgeon, left a property of $1,580,000. Hahnemann, who, in 1785, at Dresden, abandoned physic in disgust, afterwards went to Paris, and at the time of his death was literally besieged with patients, reaping a reward for his labors of not less than $40,000 per annum. Boerhaave was a successful practitioner, born at Leyden, and left, at his death, $200,000 from private practice. John Stow, the eminent antiquarian writer, whose misfortunes compelled him to beg his daily bread at the age of eighty, informs us that “half a crown (English) was looked upon as a large fee in Holland, while in England, at that same time, a physician scorned to touch any fee but gold, and surgeons were still more exorbitant.”

In Spain, until a very remote period, the priests [Pg 388]continued to exercise the double office of priest and physician, and some of them were proficient in surgery; and though they fixed no stipulated price for their medical services, they usually managed to get two fleeces from the one shearing, and on certain occasions dispose of the carcass also, for their own pecuniary advantages, as the following will show:—

Anthony Gavin, formerly a Catholic priest of Spain, says, “I saw Fran. Alfaro, a Jew, in Lisbon, who told me that he was known to be very rich, when in Seville, where the priests finally stripped him of all his wealth, and cast him into the Inquisition, where they kept him four years, under some pretence, and finally liberated him, that he might accumulate more property. After three years’ trade, having again collected considerable wealth, he was again imprisoned and his wealth confiscated by the priest-doctors, but let off, with the order to wear the mark of San Benito (picture of a man in the midst of the fire of hell) for six months.




“But Alfaro fled from the city, and finding a pig near the gate, he slipped the San Benito over the pig’s neck, and, sending him into the town, made his escape. ‘Now I am poor,’ he added, ‘nobody wants to imprison me.’”

 [Pg 389]

English Fees and Incomes.

In no other country have physicians’ fees varied so much as in England. The Protestant divine and the physician have kept step together to the music of civilization and enlightenment. Both of these professions were held at a low estimation up to the Elizabethan era, when a young, unfledged M. D. from Oxford would gladly accept a situation in a lord’s family for five or ten pounds a year, with his board, and lodgings in the garret, while, in addition to professional services he might act as sort of wise clown, “and be a patient listener, the solver of riddles, and the butt of ridicule for the family and guests. He might save the expense of a gardener—nail up the apricots; or a groom, and sometimes curry down and harness the horses; cast up the farrier’s or butler’s accounts, or carry a parcel or message across the country.”

As was said also of the divine, “Not one living in fifty enabled the incumbent to bring up a family comfortably. As the children multiplied, the household became more beggarly. Often it was only by toiling on his glebe, by feeding swine and by loading dung-carts, that he could gain his daily bread.... His sons followed the plough, and his daughters went out to service.”

Queen Elizabeth’s physician in ordinary received one hundred pounds per annum and perquisites—“sustenance, wine, wax, and etceteras.” Morgan, her apothecary, for one quarter’s bill was paid £18 7s. 8d. A one pound fee, paid by the Earl of Cumberland to a Cambridge physician, was considered as exceptionally liberal, even for a nobleman to pay.

Edward III. granted to his apothecary, who acted in the capacity of physician in those days, a salary amounting to six pence a day, and to Ricardus Wye, his surgeon, twelve pence per day, besides eight marks. (A mark was 13s. 4d.) In the courts of the kings of Wales, the [Pg 390]physicians and surgeons were the twelfth in rank, and whose fees were fixed by law. Dr. Caius was fortunate in holding position as physician to Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth. Sir Theodore Mayerne was still more fortunate in having the honor of serving Henry IV. and Louis XIII. of France, and subsequently King James I., Charles I. and II. of England. Mayerne has been the subject of many anecdotes, of which the following is a sample:—




A parsimonious friend, consulting Mayerne, laid two broad pieces of gold (sixty shillings) on the doctor’s table, to express his generosity, as he felt safe that they would be immediately returned to him. But Mayerne quietly pocketed them, saying,—

“I made my will this morning, and if it became known that I had refused a fee, I might be deemed non compos mentis.”

 [Pg 391]


[Pg 392] 

[Pg 393]In 1700, graduated physicians’ dues were ten shillings, licensed doctors, six shillings eight pence. A surgeon’s fee was twelve pence per mile, be his journey long or short, and five shillings for setting a bone or dislocated joint, one shilling for bleeding, and five pounds for an amputation. All after attendance extra.


Anecdote of James Coythier.

This jolly doctor was employed by Louis XI., and was said to have sponged immense sums from his royal master, beyond a regular salary.

“He wrung favor upon favor from the king, and if he resisted the modest demands of his physician, the latter threatened him with speedy dissolution. On this menace, the king, succumbing to the fear of death, which weakness characterized his family, would at once surrender at discretion.”

Finally, to rid himself of such despotic demands, the king ordered the executioner to behead the physician.

The requisite officer waited on Coythier, and in a courteous and considerate manner, as became the occasion, said to him,—

“I deeply regret, my dear sir, the circumstance, but I must kill you. The king can stand you no longer, and here are my orders.”

“All right,” replied the doctor, with surprising unconcern; “I am ready whenever you are. What time would you find it most convenient to perform the little operation?”

While the officer was trying to decide, Coythier continued,—

[Pg 394]“But I am very sorry to leave his majesty only for a few days; for I have ascertained by occult science that he can’t survive me more than four days.”

The officer stood struck with amazement, but finally returned and imparted the astounding information to the king.

“O, liberate him instantly. Hurt not a hair of his head,” exclaimed the terrified monarch.

Coythier was of course speedily restored to his place in the king’s confidence—and treasury.


A Long Fee.

Here is what may be called a long fee:—

An English surgeon, named Broughton, had the good fortune to open the commerce of the East Indies to his countrymen through a medical fee. Having been sent from Surat to Agra, in the year 1636, to treat a daughter of the emperor Shah Jehan, he had the great fortune to restore the princess.

Beyond the present reward to the physician for his great services, the emperor gave him the privilege of a free commerce throughout the whole extent of his domains. Scarcely had Broughton returned than the favorite nabob of the province—Bengal—sent for the doctor to treat him for a very dangerous disease. Having fortunately restored this patient also, the nabob settled a pension upon the physician, and confirmed the privilege of the emperor, extending it to all Englishmen who should come to Bengal.

Broughton at once communicated this important treaty, as it was, to the English governor at Surat, and, by the advice of the latter, the company sent from England, in 1640, the first ship to trade at Bengal. Such was the origin of the great Indian commerce, which has been continued to the present day,—the longest continued doctor’s fee ever given.

Another long fee was that given to Dr. Th. Dinsdale, who travelled from England to St. Petersburg by order of[Pg 395] Catharine of Russia, to inoculate her son, the baron of the empire. The empress presented him with a fee of twelve thousand pounds, and a life pension of five hundred pounds. This is the largest sum ever paid to any physician since the world began, for a single operation, and I know of no physician who ever made a longer journey to attend a patient.


A Short Fee.

This is how a physician fell short of his fee. Charles II. was taken suddenly and dangerously ill with apoplexy. The court physician being out of town, Dr. King, who only being present, with one attendant, instantly bled his majesty, to which “breach of court etiquette” John Evelyn attributes his salvation for the time; for he would certainly have died, had Dr. King staid the coming of the regular physician—for which act he must have a regular pardon!

The privy council ordered a handsome fee to be paid Dr. King for his great presence of mind and prompt action, but it never was paid. Charles died soon afterwards, and poor King fell short of a fat fee.


Odd Fees.

Amongst the many funny things told about Sir Astley Cooper, the eminent English surgeon, none is better authenticated than that respecting the “night-cap fee.”

In his earlier practice, he had to pass through all the trials and tribulations, “anxious and ill-rewarded waitings,” that lesser stars have before and since, and ever will, before he became “established.” In his first year’s practice in London, his profits were but five guineas; his second reached the encouraging sum of twenty-five pounds, and increased in this ratio till the ninth year, when it was one thousand pounds. In one year he made twenty-one thousand guineas. It is said that one merchant of London paid him annually six hundred pounds. It wouldn’t require but a few such[Pg 396] lucrative patients to keep a doctor in pocket money even at this day.

A West India millionnaire, named Hyatt, had been to London, and undergone a severe and dangerous surgical operation at the hands of Sir Astley, assisted by Drs. Lettsom and Nelson. The operation proved a success, and the grateful patient only waited till he could sit up in bed a little while at a time before expressing in some measure his gratitude to the physicians. All three being present one day, Hyatt arose in bed and presented the two physicians with a fee of three hundred gold guineas, and, turning to Sir Astley, who seemed for a moment to have been slighted, the millionnaire said,—

“And as for you, Sir Astley, you shall have nothing better than that,” catching off his night-cap, and flinging it almost into Sir Astley’s handsome face—he was said to be the handsomest man in England; “there, take it, sir.”

“Sir,” exclaimed the surgeon, with a smile, “I pocket the affront.”

On reaching home, and examining the night-cap, he found it contained one thousand guineas—nearly five thousand dollars.


An Old Shoe.

Quite as odd a fee was that presented to a celebrated New York surgeon about the year 1845. An eccentric old merchant, a descendant of one of the early Dutch families of Manhattan Island, was sick at his summer residence on the Hudson, where his family physician attended him. The doctor gave him no encouragement that he ever would recover. A most celebrated surgeon, since deceased, was called as counsel, who, after careful examination of the case, and considering the merchant’s age, coincided with the opinion of the family physician, and so expressed himself to the patient.

[Pg 397]“Well, if that is all the good you can do, you may return to New York,” said the doomed man. But as the astonished surgeon was going out of the house, the invalid sent a servant after him, in haste, saying,—

“Here, throw this old shoe after him, telling him that I wish him better luck on the next patient;” and drawing off his embroidered slipper, he gave it to the servant, who, well used to his master’s whims, as well as confident of his generosity, ran after the doctor, flinging the shoe, and giving the message, as directed. The surgeon felt sure of his fee, well knowing the ability of the eccentric merchant; but he picked up the shoe, and placing it in his coat pocket, said to his brother physician, who accompanied him, “I’ll keep it, and I may get something, to boot.”




It contained, stuffed into the toe, a draft for five hundred dollars.


A Black Fee.

Dr. Robert Glynn, of Cambridge, England, who died nearly eighty years ago, was a most benevolent man, as well[Pg 398] as a successful medical practitioner, with a large revenue. Mr. Jeaffreson tells the following amusing story about him:—

“On one occasion a poor peasant woman, the widowed mother of an only son, trudged from the heart of the fens (ten miles) into Cambridge, to consult the good doctor about her boy, who was very sick with the ague. Her manner so interested the doctor that, though it was during an inclement winter, and the roads almost impassable by carriages, he ordered horses harnessed, and taking in the old lady, went to see the sick lad.

“After a tedious attendance, and the exhibition of much port wine and bark, bought at the physician’s expense, the patient recovered. A few days after the doctor had taken his discharge, without fees, the poor woman presented herself at the consulting-room, bearing in her hands a large basket.

“‘I hope, my good woman, your son is not ill again,’ said the doctor.

“‘O, no, sir; he was never better,’ replied the woman, her face beaming with gratitude; ‘but he can’t rest quiet for thinking of all the trouble you have had, and so he resolved this morning to send you this;’ and she began undoing the cover of the large wicker basket which she had set on the floor. The doctor stood overlooking the transaction in no little concern. Egress being afforded, out hopped an enormous magpie, that strutted around the room, chattering away as independent as a lord.

“‘There, doctor, it is his favorite magpie he has sent you,’ exclaimed the woman, looking proudly upon the piece of chattering ebony. It was a fee to be proud of.”


A Heart’s Offering.

The gratitude of the poor country lad for his recovery did not exceed, probably, that of a young girl, as related[Pg 399] in the Montpelier papers, from one of which I cut the following:—

“A young girl, fourteen years of age, named Celia ——, called at the hotel to-day where Dr. C., with his family, is stopping, and presenting him with a bouquet of Mayflowers, said, ‘I have no money to pay you for curing my head of scrofula, and I thought these flowers might please you.’ This was truly the offering of a grateful heart; for her head had been entirely covered by sores, from her birth, and the doctor had cured it. Another journal said, in commenting upon it, ‘This heart’s offering deeply affected the doctor, to whom it was a greater reward than any money recompense could have been.’ The doctor has the withered and blackened flowers and leaves pressed, and hung in a frame in his[Pg 400] office, but the memory of the touching scene of their presentation will remain fresh within his heart forever.”




A Stuffed Cat-skin.

An eccentric and parsimonious old lady, who died in a small village in the State of Maine, some twenty years ago, always kept a half dozen cats about the house. She was a dried-up-looking old crone, and some ill-minded people had gone so far as to call her a witch, doubtless because of her[Pg 401] oddities and her cats, “black, white, and brindled.” When one of these delightful night-prowlers departed this life, the old lady would have the skin of the animal stuffed, to adorn her mantel shelf. My informant said he had once seen them with his own eyes, arranged along on the shelf, some half score of them, looking as demure and comfortable as a stuffed cat could, while the old woman sat by the fireplace, croning over her knitting work.




The woman paid no bills that she could avoid, always pleading poverty as her excuse for the non-fulfilment of her responsibilities.

One dark and stormy night she was taken very sick, and by a preconcerted signal to a neighbor,—the placing of a light in a certain window,—help was summoned, including the village doctor, to whom she owed a fee for each visit he had ever made her. But this was fated to be the doctor’s last call to that patient.

“O, doctor, then I am dying at last—am I?”

The physician assured her such was the case.

“Then, doctor, I must tell you that you’ve been very patient with me, and have hastened day or night to see me, in my whims, as well as my real sickness, and you shall be rewarded. I have no money, but you see all my treasures arranged along on the mantel-piece there?”

“What!” exclaimed the doctor; “you don’t call those cats treasures, I hope!”

“Yes, they are my only treasures, doctor. Now, I want to be just to you, above all others, because you’ve not only served me as I said, but you’ve often sent me wood and provisions during the cold winters—”

Here she became too feeble to go on, and the doctor revived her with some cordial from his saddle-bags, when she took breath, and continued,—

“See them, doctor; eleven of them. Which will you choose?”

[Pg 402]The doctor, with as much grace as possible, declined selecting any one of the useless stuffed skins; when the old lady, by much effort, raised her head from the pillow, and said, “Well, I will select for you. Take the black one—take—the black—cat—doctor!” and died.

Her dying words so impressed him, that he took the cat home, and, on opening her,—for it was very heavy,—he found that the skin contained nearly a hundred dollars, in gold.


American Fees and Incomes.

There is a surgeon in New York city whose income from practice outside of the hospital is said to be twenty-five thousand dollars per annum. Dr. Valentine Mott, the celebrated New York surgeon, who died April 26, 1865, at the age of eighty-one years, had a very large income, but less than that enjoyed by several surgeons in the metropolis at the present time.

There are some specialists in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, who receive greater sums annually than the regular medical or surgical practitioners. There is no law particularly controlling the prices of the former. The fee for a visit, by the established usage of the medical societies in these cities, is from three to ten dollars.

A specialist sometimes receives fifty to one hundred dollars for prescribing in a case, for which another physician, in ordinary practice, would charge but an office fee of two to ten dollars. A quack specialist—and an impostor—in the latter city makes his brags that he has received twelve hundred dollars for one prescription. But then this same lying braggadocio says he has read medicine with Ricard, and had various honors conferred upon him.

Dr. Pulte, of Ohio, one of the western pioneers in homeopathy, who has often been greeted, in his earlier professional rounds, by a shower of dirt, rotten eggs, stones,[Pg 403] brickbats, and had rails and sticks thrust through his carriage wheels at night, and been otherwise insulted, until, finally, he had to carry his wife about with him, as a protective measure,—for his revilers would not insult a lady,—has since made as high as twenty thousand dollars a year, and has amassed a fortune of two hundred thousand dollars. There is a Boston homeopathist whose income from practice is not less than twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars annually. Some of the surgeons (allopathic) do better, but hardly reach the figures of Dr. Nelaton, the great French surgeon, who, in 1869, earned four hundred thousand francs, equal to about eighty thousand dollars.




Dr. Bigelow, the very celebrated surgeon of Harvard College, has probably received the largest fee for a surgical operation of any New England practitioner. He is said to be worth nearly a million.

Dr. Buckingham, the eminent medical practitioner, of Boston, who probably earns as much as any physician in the city, a few years ago stated to the graduating class of Harvard College—so I am informed by a physician then present—that he received for his first year’s practice in Boston[Pg 404] but fifty-seven dollars. He then had a little office up stairs, where he slept, dined,—often on bread and cheese, or a few crackers; sometimes he did not dine,—and received his few patients. But he was a great student, and a hard worker, and often, and usually, stuck to his post during those hours when more prosperous physicians were seeking amusement or relaxation. He was one of the “hold-fast” kind, who always win, in the end.

Catch what you can.”—There is a class of wretches in every city who have no established fee for prescribing for the sick. They go on the principle of “catch what I can.” If they cannot get a fee of twenty dollars, they will take two, provided the patient has no more. A young man who visited one of these medical shave-shops was charged a fee of thirty-five dollars in a very simple case; but the benevolent doctor concluded to accept two dollars and a half instead, since the man had no more money. The shamefulness of such Jewing reminds one of the story of a negro trading off a worn-out old mule:—

“I say, dar, what will you take for dat yer mule, Cuffy?”

“O, I axes thirty-five dollars for him, Mr. Sambo.”

“O, go way, dar. I gibs you five dollars for him,” said the first.

“Well, you can take him, Sambo. I won’t stand for thirty dollars on a mule trade, nohow.”

There is a female practitioner in St. Louis who earns above ten thousand dollars a year, and her individual fees are moderate at that.

Another doctress, Mrs. Ormsby, of Orange, N. J., accumulates some fifteen thousand a year, and is in turn outstripped by another woman practising in New York, who gets nearly twenty thousand dollars a year. Such certainly possess great business tact, with or without professional merit, and for such let all men give them credit.

Several female doctors in Boston receive from three to five thousand dollars each, yearly.

[Pg 405]It is too often the case that a physician’s success is reckoned, like a tradesman’s, by what he has gained in a pecuniary point of view. There are, however, thousands of worthy men, successful with their cases, who, from less acquisitiveness than benevolence, have failed in securing more than a bare competence, through a life devoted to their profession.




I presume nearly every physician who has experienced a dozen years in practice has some mementos of his poor patients’ gratitude, in the form, if not of an ebony bird, or a black cat-skin, of something possessing more beauty, and,[Pg 406] to the benevolent heart, which always beats within the breast of every true physician, keepsakes prized above gold and silver.

“Who has not kept some trifling thing,
More prized, more prized, than jewels rare,
A faded flower, a broken ring,
A tress of golden hair, a tress of golden hair?”

A very benevolent physician, and a sexagenarian, of New York city, wrote, twenty years ago, “I even yet enjoy a sort of melancholy satisfaction in hastening to relieve the suffering poor of my neighborhood, though I know that my reward will be very small, or, what is far more frequent, that I shall be paid with ingratitude, if not slander.

“Sometimes there are bright spots in my horizon, and I think myself more than repaid by a new shirt, or a couple of handkerchiefs—the gift of some poor, though grateful sewing girl. A few of these little treasures I prize with peculiar tenderness.”

“A tress of hair and a faded leaf
Are paltry things to a cynic’s eyes:
But to me they are keys that open the gates
Of a paradise of memories.”


Asking for a Fee.

A Boston M. D., who had been in practice fourteen years without accumulating any property, was about to abandon the profession, and, with this view, he applied to Fowler, the phrenologist, with the question, “What pursuit am I best adapted to follow?” Mr. Fowler, with whom he was unacquainted, said, “The practice of medicine;” but, at the same time, he assured the doctor that he ought to do business on a cash principle,—“accipe dum dolet,”—or employ a collector, as he would never collect his fees. Acting on this hint, the doctor returned to his practice, and in a few years was out of debt, and owned a fine residence.

[Pg 407]In the matter of collecting fees only he was deficient.

A New York student—if report is true—began earlier to be impressed with the propriety of getting his fee in advance, as the following will show.

He went before the censors for examination. One of the board was a well-known penurious, fee-loving doctor, who, looking over the list of names of the applicants, said,—

“Mr. ——, if a patient came to your office, what would you first do?”

“I would ask him for a fee, sir,” was the prompt reply.

An old navy surgeon relates the following regarding examinations:—

“I was shown into the examining-room. Large table, and a half dozen old gentlemen at it. ‘Big wigs, no doubt,’ I thought, ‘and, sure as my name is Symonds, they’ll pluck me like a pigeon.’

“‘Well, sir, what do you know about the science of medicine?’ asked the stout man in the head seat.

“‘More than he does of the practice, I’ll be bound,’ tittered a little wasp-like dandy—a West End ladies’ doctor.

“I trembled in my shoes.

“‘Well, sir,’ continued the first, ‘what would you do if during an action a man was brought to you with both arms and legs shot off? Now, sir, speak out; don’t keep the board waiting. What would you do?’

“‘By Jove, sir,’ I answered, ‘I would pitch him overboard, and go on to some one else to whom I could be of more service.’

“By thunder! every one present burst out laughing, and they passed me directly—passed me directly.”


Delicate Fees.

There are certain delicate cases, usually terminating in “good news,” in which it has long been an established custom for the physician to receive a double fee. “A father just [Pg 408]presented with an heir, or a lucky fellow just made one, is expected to bleed freely for the benefit of the faculty.” Even the Irish, who, in about all other cases, calculate on “cheating the doctor to pay the priest,” will usually lay by a little sum from their penury, or their bank hoardings, as the case may be, “to pay the doctor for the babbie.”

We insert the following poetry (!) for the fun of the thing; nevertheless, it is within the experience of more than one physician, who, after doing his duty, exhibiting his best professional ability, and saving the wife of some miserable, worthless fellow, who never deserved such a godsend for a companion, has cheated the doctor out of his fees from spite, when, if the poor woman had died, he would have liberally paid the physician. Let no man take this to himself.

“A woman who scolded one day so long
Quite suddenly lost all use of her tongue!
The doctor arrived, who, with ‘hem and haw,’
Pronounced the affection a true locked jaw.

“‘What hopes, good doctor?’ ‘Very small, I see.’
The husband (quite sad) slips a double fee.
‘No hopes, dear doctor?’ ‘Ahem! none, I fear.’
Gives another fee for an issue clear.

“The madam deceased. ‘Pray, sir, do not grieve.’
‘My friends, one comfort I surely receive—
A fatal locked jaw was the only case
From which my dear wife could have died—in peace.’”


Make the most of him.

It has been said that physicians have been known to benevolently play a fee into a brother’s hand when their own palm failed to be broad enough to hold them all. Perhaps the reader may derive amusement or instruction from the following, in which case the writer is well repaid for their insertion:—

“A wealthy tradesman, after drinking the waters of the[Pg 409] Bath Springs a long time, under advice of his physician, took a fancy to try those of Bristol. Armed with an introductory letter from his Bath doctor to a professional brother at Bristol, the old gentleman set off on his journey. On the way he said to himself,—

“‘I wonder what Dr. —— has advised the Bristol physician respecting my case;’ and giving way to his curiosity, or anxiety, he opened the letter, and read,—

“‘Dear Doctor: The bearer is a fat Wiltshire clothier; make the most of him. Yours, professionally, ——.’”

Clutterbuck, the historian, and a pleasant writer, tells the following of his uncle, who was a physician:—

“A nervous old lady, a patient of his, took it into her crotchety old head to try the Bath waters, and applied to her physician for permission.

“‘The very thing I have been thinking to recommend,’ he replied; ‘and I know an excellent physician at the wells, to whom I will give you a letter of introduction.’”

With her letter and a companion, she started for the springs. En route she took out the letter, and, after looking at the address some time, her curiosity overcame her, and she said to her friend, “So long as the doctor has treated me, he has never told me what my case is, and I have a mind to just look into this letter and see what he has told the Bath physician about it.”

In vain her friend remonstrated against such a breach of trust. The old lady opened the epistle, and read the following instructive words:—

Dear Sir: Keep the old woman three weeks, and send her back.”




[Pg 410]



“Life’s better joys spring up thus by the wayside,
And the world calls them trifles. ’Tis not so.
Heaven is not prodigal, nor pours its joys
In unregarded torrents upon man:
They fall, as fall the riches of the clouds
Upon the parched earth, gently, drop by drop.
Nothing is trifling which love consecrates.”—Aylmere.

“The art of our necessities is strange.”—King Lear.



Side by side, hand in hand, through the world, go generosity and meanness. If these could but be personified, and the individuals compelled to stand before men in broad daylight, O, what a staring would there be! Those whom we thought the very embodiment of generosity and kindness would “crop out” in their true hideousness of character—unmasked meanness and selfishness; yes, men too high in the estimation of the world, in church and in state.

On the other hand, we should be equally astonished to find amongst those in the humbler walks of life, as well as some in the more exalted, people, whom the world counted as mean and penurious, now standing forth adorned in robes[Pg 411] bleached like the snow-drift, shining bright as the golden sunrise, yet blushing to find that their hidden charities, and secret, self-denying generosities, had been suddenly brought to light.

And when the secret works of this world shall be revealed, no class of men will stand forth more blessed in deeds of generosity and self-sacrifice than the physicians. There is an occasional black sheep in the great flock.


A Rough Diamond.

There is no better authority for the truth of the many queer stories told about the rough benevolence of Dr. Abernethy, the great English surgeon, than the author of his memoirs—Sir George Macilwain.




“His manner [Dr. Abernethy’s], as we shall admit, was occasionally rough, and sometimes rather prematurely truthful. One day he was called in consultation by a physician to give an opinion in a case of a pulsating tumor, which was pretty plainly an aneurism. On proceeding to examine the tumor, he found a plaster covering it.

“‘What is this you have on it?’ asked Abernethy.

“‘O, that is only a plaster.’

“‘Pooh!’ exclaimed the doctor, pulling it off and flinging it aside.

[Pg 412]“‘The “pooh” was all well enough,’ said the attending physician, afterwards, ‘but it took several guineas out of my pocket.’”


Up Three Pair, Back.

A surgeon—pupil of the above—was requested to visit a patient in a low quarter of the suburbs of the metropolis. When he arrived, and mounted several flights of crazy stairs, he began searching for the designated number, which was so defaced by time that he was only enabled to determine it by the more legible condition of the next number.




[Pg 413]An old woman answered the shake of the dilapidated knocker.

“Does Captain Blank live here?”

“Yes, sir,”—trying to penetrate the darkness.

“Is he at home?”

“Yes, sir. Please, may I make so bold as to ask, are you the doctor?”


“O, then please to walk in, sir.”

In the ill-furnished, narrow room sat an old man, in a very shabby and variegated déshabille, who rose from his chair, and, with a grace worthy of a count, welcomed the stranger. His manner was extremely gentlemanly, his language well chosen, and the statement of his complaint particularly clear and concise.

The surgeon, who like most of us see strange things, was puzzled to make out his new patient, but concluded that he was one of the many who, having been born to better things, had become reduced by misfortune to these apparently very narrow circumstances.

Accordingly, having prescribed, the surgeon was about taking his leave, when the gentleman said,—

“Sir, I thank you very much for your attention,” at the same time offering his hand with a fee.

The benevolent surgeon declined the fee, simply saying,—

“No, I thank you, sir. I hope you will soon be better. Good morning.”

“Stay, sir!” exclaimed the old gentleman. “I shall insist on this, if you please,” in a tone which at once convinced the surgeon that it would be more painful to refuse than accept the fee; he accordingly took it.

“I am very much obliged to you, sir,” the old gentleman then said; “for had you not taken your fee I could not have again had the advantage of your advice. I sent for you because I had understood that you were a pupil of Dr. [Pg 414]Abernethy’s, for whom I could not again send, because he would not take his fee, and I was so hurt that I am afraid I was rude to the good man. I suppose he, judging from the appearances of things here, thought I could not afford it, hence refused the fee, on which I begged him not to be deceived by appearances, but take the fee. However, he kept retreating and declining, till, forgetting myself a little, and feeling vexed, I said, ‘By G——, sir, I insist on your taking it,’ when he replied as fiercely, ‘By G——, sir, I will not,’ and hastily left the room, closing the door after him.”

This gentleman lived to the age of ninety. He was really in very good circumstances, but lived in this humble manner to enable him to assist very efficiently some poor relatives. The surgeon, after a while, changed his professional visits to friendly ones, and continued them up to the old man’s death. When, however, the gentleman died, about four hundred guineas were found in his boxes.

Sometimes Dr. Abernethy would meet with a patient who would afford a useful lesson. A lady, wife of a distinguished musician, consulted him, and, finding him uncourteous, said,—

“Sir, I had heard of your rudeness before I came, but I did not expect this.”

When Dr. Abernethy gave her the prescription, she asked,—

“What am I to do with this, sir?”

“Anything you like. Put it into the fire if you choose.”

The lady laid the fee on the table, went to the grate, threw the prescription on to the fire, and hastily left the room.

The doctor followed her to the hall, earnestly pressing her to take back the fee, or permit him to write her another prescription; but the lady would not yield her vantage-ground, and so withdrew.

The foregoing is well authenticated. Mr. Stowe, the informant, knows the lady well.

 [Pg 415]


 [Pg 416]


 [Pg 417]

The Old Fox-hunter.

Sometimes, again, the ill usage was all on one side.

We know a hard-drinking old fox-hunter who abused Dr. Abernethy roundly; but all that he could say against him was this:—

“Why, sir,—will you believe me?—almost the first words he said, as he entered my room, was, ‘I perceive you drink a good deal.’

“Now,” continued the patient, very naïvely, “supposing I did, what the devil was that to him?”

Another gentleman, who had a most unfortunate appearance on his nose, exactly like that which accompanies dram-drinking, used to be exceedingly irate against Dr. A. because, when he told the doctor that his stomach was out of order, Abernethy would reply,—

“Ay, I see that by your nose.”


The Duke, or the poor Gentleman.

One day, just as Dr. Abernethy was stepping into his carriage to make a professional visit to the Duke of W., to whom he had been called in a hurry, a gentleman stopped him to say that the ——, at Somers Town (mentioning a poor gentleman whom he had visited without fee), would be glad to have him visit him again at his leisure.

“Why, I cannot go now,” Dr. Abernethy replied, “for I am going in haste to see the Duke of W.” Then, pausing a moment before stepping into his carriage, he looked up to the coachman, and quietly said, “To Somers Town.”

The fidgety irritability of his first impression at interference, and the beneficence of his second thought, were very characteristic of Dr. Abernethy.

A pupil, who wished to consult him one day, took the very inauspicious moment when the doctor (and professor) was looking over his papers, but a few moments before lecture, in the museum.

[Pg 418]“I am fearful, sir, that I have a polypus in my nose, and want you to look at it,” said the student.

The doctor made no reply; but when he had completed the sorting of his preparations, he said, looking up,—


To which the pupil repeated his request.




“Then stand on your head; don’t you see that all the light here comes from the skylight? How am I to look into your nose?”

(This was true, for there were no side-lights in the amphitheatre.)

“Where do you live?” continued the doctor.

“Bartholomew Close, sir.”

“At what time do you get up?”

“At eight.”

[Pg 419]“You can’t be at Bedford Row” (where Abernethy resided) “at nine, then?”

“Yes, sir, I can.”

“To-morrow morning, then.”

“Yes, sir; thank you.”

The pupil was punctual. Dr. Abernethy made a very careful examination of his nose, found nothing of the nature of polypus, made the pupil promise never to look into his nose again, and he, in after years, said, that there never was anything the matter.

Dr. Abernethy never took a fee from a student, brother doctor, nor full fee from a clergyman. His great labors seemed to be in the hospitals, and on his resignation as surgeon to St. Bartholomew, he presented for its use five hundred dollars. He never neglected his poor hospital patients for the richer ones outside.

One morning, on leaving his house for a visit to the hospital patients, some one wished to detain him, when he exclaimed, in terms more earnest than elegant,—

“Private patients may go to the devil” (or elsewhere, another reports), “but the poor fellows in the hospital I am bound to care for.”

To poor students whose funds were “doubtful,” he presented free tickets to his college lectures, afterwards showing them marked attention.

Everybody has heard of his rude kindness to a young fashionable miss, whom her mother took to Abernethy for treatment. It is said that the doctor ran a knife under her belt, in presence of the mother, instantly severing it, and exclaiming,—

“Why, madam, don’t you know there are upwards of thirty yards of ——” (what are more elegantly termed bowels) “squeezed under that girdle? Go home, give nature fair play, and you’ll have no need of a prescription.”

 [Pg 420]



Kindness to Clergymen.

“Cynics have been found in plenty to rail at physicians for loving their fees; and one might justly retort that the railers love nothing but their fees. Who does not love—and who is not entitled to—the sweet money earned by labor, be it labor of hand, brain, or cloth? One thing is sure—doctors are unpaid.”—A Lawyer.

The above kind-hearted physician, having attended the child of a clergyman’s widow, without knowing her situation, returned all the fees he had received from her when[Pg 421] he learned who she was, and added, in a letter, fifty pounds besides, with instructions to expend it in daily rides in the open air, for her health. To a clergyman he sent a receipt for his long services, and also enclosing ten pounds.

The generosity of Dr. Wilson, of Bath (now deceased), has before been recorded. He had been attending a clergyman, who, Wilson had learned, was in indigent circumstances, and he afterwards sent fifty pounds in gold to the minister, by a friend.

“Yes, I will take it to him to-morrow,” said the gentleman.

“O, my dear sir,” exclaimed Dr. Wilson, “take it to him to-night. Only think of the importance to an invalid of one good night’s rest.”


Rare Charity.

Another case of “three pair, back,” occurs in the memoirs of Dr. Lettsom, who is already made mention of in this work. On one of his benevolent excursions, the doctor found his way into the squalid garret of a poor old woman who had evidently seen better days. With the refined language and the easy deportment of a well-bred lady, she begged the physician to examine her case, and give her a prescription. (Alas! how often is poverty mistaken for disease, and does want foster malady!) But the kind doctor, after a careful inquiry, formed a correct diagnosis, and wrote on a slip of paper he chanced to have about him, the following brief note to the overseers of the parish:—

“A shilling per diem for Mrs. Moreton. Money, not physic, can cure her.


A shilling, in those days, was considered no mean sum per day.

“Alas for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun!
[Pg 422]O, it was pitiful!
Near a whole city full,
Home she had none.

“Sisterly, brotherly,
Fatherly, motherly
Feelings had changed;
Love, by harsh evidence,
Thrown from its eminence,
Even God’s providence
Seeming estranged.”

“Alas, doctor,” said an unfortunate old gentleman, some seventy-four years old,—a merchant ruined by the American war, bowed down by the weight of his misfortunes, and by disease,—to Dr. Lettsom, “those beautiful trees you may see out of my bedroom window I planted with these now feeble hands. I have lived to see them bear fruit; they have become as part of my family. But with my children still dearer to me, I must quit this dear old home, which was the delight of my youth and the hope of my declining years, and become a homeless, joyless wanderer in my old age.”

The benevolent Quaker doctor was deeply affected by these words, and the utter despair and hopelessness with which the weeping old man uttered them; and, speaking a few words of consolation to his unfortunate patient, he wrote a prescription, and hastily retired.

On the old gentleman’s examination of the remarkable looking recipe, he found it to be a check for a large sum of money. The benevolence of the physician did not end here. He purchased the residence and grounds of the old man’s creditors, and prescribed them to him for life. (He is our young Quaker antipode, mentioned in another chapter.)

The old apothecary, Sutcliff, was right when he said of young Lettsom, while his apprentice, “Thou may’st make a good physician, but I think not a good apothecary.” An apothecary is not expected to give away his time or medicine. (They seldom disappoint one’s expectations.) A[Pg 423] grocer is not expected to give away flour, rice, sugar, tea, to even a starving, languishing neighbor; nor the baker, nor the butcher, to give bread or meat to the perishing. Why, such demands upon them daily would be laughed to scorn. But the physician! These very same niggardly men (individually) would berate the doctor, be he ever so needy, or be his family ever so large, who would accept a fee for even cold-night services to any but the richest patients. All physicians do not have access to the “richest patients.” Many a good physician has been compelled to quit practice because of his too large “bump” of benevolence, and because of the limited amount of that article in his first few patients, while thousands of practitioners in this country struggle and labor on through a life of self-denial, wearing themselves out, dying prematurely, leaving their families penniless to the cold charities of an uncharitable world. (See Chapter XXX.)


The Old Jew.

“Ah me,” exclaimed a Jew, one day, as he reluctantly drew out his wallet to pay three dollars for his examination, prescription, and advice, “if I could only make money like the doctors of medecene! Ah me.” Then, taking two dollars from his purse, he asked, “Won’t that do?”

This Jew was a merchant, reputed rich, and penurious as he was wealthy, and I demanded the accustomed fee.

“Let me see,” said he; “how many patients have you seen to-day?”

“Nine,” I replied.

“Let me see,” counting his fingers as a tally. “At least twenty-seven dollars a day, and nothing out but a bit of paper. Ah, I wish I had been a doctor in medecene,” he added, with a sigh, and a woful look at the money, as he reluctantly handed it over.

This was casting pearls before worse than swine, prescribing[Pg 424] for such a wretch. Brains, education, anxiety, all went for nought, with him. Money was his all. A shilling before his eyes would shut out even God’s sunlight. If the shilling only shone, glistened,—sunlight enough for such a wretch.




“Let me see,” I said, after his miserable body had taken his penurious soul out of my office; “nine patients, one three miles away. Horse-tire and carriage-wear, time, advice, and medicine given, because the patient was a widow. No. 2 patient, the sick child of an invalid mother; no fee. No. 3, an Irishman. The Irish never wish to pay anything; did pay one dollar. No. 4, a merchant. “Charge it.” That was his fee. No. 5, a young sewing girl, who, in sewing on army cloth, had sewed her life’s blood into the seams. In consumption. Could I take her fee? God [Pg 425]forbid. No. 6, a “lady,” who, having so much upon her back, had nothing in her purse. I may get my fee at the end of the quarter. “You know my husband. Good morning.” It was near two o’clock then. She had occupied my time a whole hour. My dinner was cold; my wife was out of sorts, waiting so long. Nos. 7 and 8, two sick children. Visit them daily; pay uncertain. The ninth was the wealthy Jew. Nine patients; four dollars! Don’t I sometimes wish I kept an “O’ clo’” store, like the old Jew? This actually occurred when I practised medicine in Hartford.




Dr. Hunter’s Generosity.

No man cared less for the profits of the medical profession, or more for the honor thereof, than the great Dr. John Hunter. He was honest, honorable, and simple in his every day life. His works, which contributed more to the science of medicine than any other writings during a thousand years, were simply announced as by John Hunter. A plain door plate, with the same name, announced his residence. Money was a secondary consideration to him. The following shows that he desired a professional brother to so consider it:—

Dear Brother: The bearer needs your advice. He has no money, and you have plenty; so you are well met.

“Yours, John Hunter.”

To a poor tradesman from whom he had received twenty guineas for performing a surgical operation upon his wife, he returned nineteen guineas, having learned with what difficulty and extreme self-denial the husband had raised the money.

[Pg 426]“I sent back nineteen guineas, and kept the twentieth,” said he, in apology for retaining even the one, “that they might not be hurt with an idea of too great an obligation.”

Where is the other man, or class of men, who would have returned the money, honestly earned, as agreed upon beforehand, unasked?


Generous at Another’s Expense.

It is all very nice when one can exercise a benevolent spirit, and not draw upon his own pocket.

A well-authenticated story is repeated in this line of Dr. M. Monsey.

Passing through a market one day, he noticed a miserable old woman looking wistfully at a piece of meat hanging just within a stall.

“What is the price of this meat, sir?” she timidly inquired.

“A penny a pound, old woman,” replied the butcher, sneeringly, disdaining a civil answer to the wretched-looking woman, who probably had not a penny to pay for the chop.

“Just weigh that piece of meat, my friend,” said the doctor, who had been attentively watching the proceedings.

The butcher cheerfully complied with the request of so respectable-looking a customer.

“Ten pounds and a half, sir,” replied the butcher.

“There, my good woman,” said the doctor, “hold up your apron;” and he dumped the whole into it, saying, “Now make haste home and cook it for your family.”

After blessing the very eccentric but benevolent old man over and again for the timely provision, she drew up the corners of the apron, and ran speedily down the market.

“Here, my man,” said the doctor, turning to the smiling butcher, “here is ten pence ha’penny, the price of your meat.”

“What? What do you mean?” asked the butcher.

[Pg 427]“I mean, sir, that I take you at your word. You said the meat was a penny a pound. At that price I bought it for the poor old woman. It’s all I’ll pay you. Good morning, sir.”




I can imagine the “chop-fallen” butcher, standing, in his long frock, with a beaten expression of countenance, alternating his gaze between the pence in his palm and the retreating form of the wigged and laughing old doctor.

 [Pg 428]

A Report on Teeth.

Many stories are told of the eccentricities of Dr. Monsey, and

“No man could better gild a pill,
Or make a bill,
Or mix a draught, or bleed, or blister,
Or draw a tooth out of your head,
Or chatter scandal by your bed,
Or tell a twister.”

Amongst the vagaries of Dr. Monsey, says Mr. Jeaffreson, was the way in which he proceeded to extract his decaying teeth. Around the tooth sentenced to be uprooted he fastened securely a strong piece of cord, or violin string, to the other end of which he attached a bullet. He then proceeded to load a pistol with powder and the bullet. By merely pulling the trigger of the pistol, the operation was speedily and effectually performed.

It was seldom, however, that the doctor could induce his patients to adopt this original mode of extracting undesirable achers.

One gentleman, who had agreed to try this novel process upon a tooth, got so far as to allow the whole apparatus to be adjusted, when, at the very last instant, he exclaimed,—

“Stop, stop! I have changed my mind—”

“I haven’t, though; and you’re a fool and a coward, and here’s go,” which saying, the doctor pulled the trigger.

“Bang!” went the pistol, and out flew the tooth, to the delight and astonishment of the patient.

Taking this anecdote alone, it is scarcely credible; but considered in connection with what we have already selected from the life of Dr. Monsey, and what we may write of his eccentricities in our chapter under that head, this may be believed as being nearly correct.

 [Pg 429]


 [Pg 430]


 [Pg 431]

A sad Omission.

Believing, as I do, that every reader of these pages is personally cognizant of the fact of the true benevolence of our present American physicians, and because of the silence of the few biographers respecting the generosities and benevolent deeds of those “who have gone before,” I have devoted more space to anecdotes of English surgeons and physicians than I otherwise would. I have searched throughout four volumes of biographies of American physicians without being able to find a single anecdote of generosity recorded therein worthy of notice. Also in the “Lives of Surgeons ——” I have to regret this almost unpardonable neglect. I am assured from my personal knowledge of some of these latter that there are a thousand instances, which, in justice to their benevolence, ought to be put upon record, as they are engraven upon the hearts of their suffering fellow-creatures, and not for the aggrandizement of the generous bestower so much as an example for the cynical and the uncharitable world.

A physician has just left my presence who has given away more than he has ever received from his practice. The good physician is always generous. A mean-souled man cannot become a successful practitioner. His success with his patients depends as much, or more, upon the kindly influences that beam from his eye, that flow from his soul, as upon the medicine that he deals out from his “saddle-bags.”

Generosity and kindness are innate to the man. They require little cultivation.

The following amusing anecdote from “Every Saturday,” I have reason to believe, has reference to one of our best physicians, who is also a man of letters, and illustrates my assertion:—

 [Pg 432]

Innate Generosity.

“One hot August afternoon a gentleman, whose name attached to a check would be more valuable to the reader than if written here, was standing in front of the Revere House, waiting for a Washington Street car. He was a slim, venerable gentleman, with long white hair, and a certain dignity about him which we suppose comes of always having a handsome balance in the bank, for we never knew a poor man to have this particular air. It was a sultry afternoon, and the millionaire, standing on the curb-stone in the shade, had removed his hat, and was cooling his forehead with his handkerchief, like any common person, when the Cambridge horse-car stopped at the crossing at his feet. From this car hastily descended a well-known man of letters, whose pre-occupied expression showed at once that he was wrestling with an insubordinate hexameter, or laying out the points of a new lecture. Suddenly he found himself face to face with a white-haired old man, dejectedly holding a hat in one hand. As quick as thought the poet—to whom neither old age nor young appeals in vain—thrust his hand into his vest pocket, and, dropping a handful of nickel and fractional currency into the extended hat, passed on. The millionaire gazed aghast into the hat for an instant, and then inverted it spasmodically, allowing the money to drop into the gutter, much to the amusement of a gentleman and a tooth-pick on the steps of the Revere House, and very much more to the amusement of another party, who chanced to know that the supposed mendicant and the man of letters had been on terms of personal intimacy these twenty years.”


A Curb-stone Money-maniac.

A man may possess large acquisitiveness and benevolence at the same time, like Sir Astley Cooper, and succeed both pecuniarily and professionally. Such are, however, scarce.[Pg 433] Those with an excess of the grasping principle in their composition illustrate the truth that “where the treasure is the heart will be also.” Asleep or awake, drunk or sober, such men never lose sight of the almighty dollar. The annexed story, though irreverent to the doctors, is not irrelevant to the case:—

During the late “panic,” a fellow, whose prominent feature was in his Jewish nose, which presented the sign of acquisitiveness by the bridge widening on to the cheeks above the alæ,—all men noted for accumulating have this sign, hung out by nature as a warning to the unwary,—was making a great noise, as he clung to a friendly lamp-post, to which he was arguing the state of the money market. “Come, sir, you are making too much noise,” said a policeman.




“Me? No, ’tain’t me that’s—hic—making the noise; it’s[Pg 434] the bulls—the bulls, sir; them’s what’s making all the noise,” replied the fellow, skewing first one side of the post, then the other, trying to get a view of his new intruder.

“You are tight, sir—tight as a peep,” continued the watchman.

“Me tight? No, sir; it’s the money-market what’s—ti—tight,” replied the gentlemanly dressed individual, though much the worse for bad whiskey. “Go down Wall Street, and Fisk and Vanderbuilt—all of ’em—will tell you so. Everybody says money is—hic—tight. I never was more loose in my—hic—life;” and he demonstrated the assertion by swinging very loosely around the lamp-post, and falling down.

“There, you are down. Too drunk to stand up;” and the policeman helped him to his feet again, and walked him along towards the station.

“No, sir. There you are wrong again; it’s stocks that’s down. It’s the stockholders—hic—that’s staggering along; they’ve fallen and skinned their noses on the curb-stone of adversity. There! don’t you see them—crawling along?”

“O, you’ve got the tremens. Come on,” exclaimed the policeman.

“Me? No; it’s the shorts and bears what’s got the dol—hic—lar—tremens. I’ve caught the pan—hics—panics, sir; that’s all.”

The policeman thrust the money-maniac into a cell, and the last seen of him he leaned back against the wall, his feet braced out, while, hatless and the knot of his cravat round under his left ear, he stood arguing the money-market with an imaginary broker on the opposite side of his cell.


An “Eye-opener.”

“How much do you charge, sir?” asked a poor farmer, from Framingham, of a city doctor, who had just wiped a bit of dust from the eye of his son.

[Pg 435]“Twenty-five dollars, if you please,” was the modest reply.

“I cannot pay it, sir,” said the poor man. “It only took you a half minute. Our doctor was not at home; but I didn’t think you would charge me much, sir.”

So the M. D. very benevolently (?) accepted ten dollars—all the poor man had.

Can you wonder, after reading this statement, the truth of which is easily avouched for, that this doctor owns a whole block—stores, hotel—and is immensely rich?

From the English book “About Doctors,” here are three anecdotes:—

Radcliffe, the humbug, with a great effort at generosity, had refused his fees for visiting a poor friend a whole year. On making a final visit, the gentleman said, presenting a purse,—

“Doctor, here I have put aside a fee for every day’s visit. Let not your goodness get the better of your judgment. Take your money.”

The doctor took a look, resolved to carry out his attempt at benevolence, just touched the purse to restore it to his friend, when he heard “the chink of gold” within, and—put it into his pocket, saying,—

“Singly, I could have refused the fees for a twelvemonth, but collectively, they are irresistible. Good day, sir;” and the greedy doctor walked away with a heavier pocket and a lighter heart than he came with.

On visiting a nobleman, Sir Richard Jebb was paid in hand three guineas when he, by right, expected five. The doctor purposely dropped the three gold pieces on the carpet, when the nobleman directed the servant to find and restore them; but Sir Richard still continued the search after receiving the three coins.

“Are they not all found?” inquired the nobleman, looking about.

[Pg 436]“No, there must be two more on the carpet, as I have only three restored,” replied the wily doctor.

His lordship took the hint, and said, “Never mind; here are two others.”




This sticking for a fee was all cast into the shade by the act of an “eminent physician of Bristol.” The doctor, entering the bedroom immediately after the death of his patient, found the right hand clinched tightly, and, pulling open the fingers of the dead man, the doctor discovered that the hand contained a guinea.

[Pg 437]“Ah!” exclaimed the doctor to the servant and friends around him, “this was doubtless intended for me;” and so saying he pocketed the coin.

“Three hungry travellers found a bag of gold.
One ran into the town where bread was sold.
He thought, ‘I will poison the bread I buy,
And seize the treasure when my comrades die.’
But they, too, thought, when back his feet have hied,
We will destroy him, and the gold divide.
They killed him, and, partaking of the bread,
In a few moments all were lying dead.
O world, behold what ill thy goods have done!
Thy gold thus poisoned two and murdered one.”




[Pg 438]



“No task is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another.”—Johnson.

Duke. “If ever thou shalt love,
In the sweet pangs of it, remember me;
For such as I am all true lovers are;
Unstaid and skittish in all things else,
Save in the constant image of the creature
That is beloved....
My life upon it, young as thou art, thine eye
Hath stayed upon some face that it loves;
Hath it not, boy?”



An old lady once said, “I’ve hearn say that doctors either are, or are not, great experts in love affairs; I’ve forgotten which.” Just so!

“I would not be a doctor’s wife for the world,” I have heard many a lady affirm. True; for few doctors have had the misfortune (or folly) to select a jealous woman for a life companion.

Socrates, the great philosopher, and physician of the mind, seems to have had the ugliest tempered woman in the world, whose very name, Xantippe, has passed into a proverb for a scolding wife; yet she was not jealous of her[Pg 439] spouse, but was said to have sincerely loved him; and he bore her outbursts of temper only as a great philosopher could, which seemed not to have disturbed the equanimity of his living nor the humor of his dying.

“Crito,”—these were his last words,—“Crito, forget not the cock that I promised to Esculapius!”

Alas! an affecting satire on philosophy and physic.




No; we find no cases to record of the jealousies of physicians, or their wives. All the jealousies of the former are spent on their professional brethren.

It is a philosophical fact that physicians, of all men, seldom[Pg 440] are involved in disgrace, quarrels, or litigations on account of love affairs. Yet they have affections, like other men, and above all men know how to appreciate affection and virtue in woman.


First Love—Blasted Hopes.

I know of a little episode in the early life of a doctor, whose name modesty forbids me to mention. Let me briefly state it in the first person.

Ah, friend, if you and I should meet
Beneath the boughs of the bending lime,
And you in the same low voice repeat
The tender words of the old love-rhyme,
It could not bring back the same old time—
No, never.

I was young when I first fell in love,—not above six years of age; but love is without reason, blind to age. The object of my first affection was my school-mischief, as I then called her, who was about twenty. The disparagement of years never entered my innocent noddle. I used to start for school a half hour before nine, and stop on the way at the squire’s house, where Miss —— boarded. O, with what joy I always met her! In summer she gave me roses from the beautiful great white rose-bushes in the squire’s front yard; in autumn and winter, splendid red and green apples, from the orchard and cellar, and candy and kisses at all times. So I fell desperately in love with her.

I was greatly shocked, and not a little piqued, when one day she, in cold blood, bade me good by, and went away with a tall man, with shocking red whiskers. That is all I remember about him. I, however, mourned her loss for years, although my appetite remained unimpaired—my parents said.

“Like a still serpent, basking in the sun,
With subtle eyes, and back of russet gold,
Her gentle tones and quiet sweetness won
A coil upon her victims: fold on fold
[Pg 441]She wove around them with her graceful wiles,
Till, serpent-like, she stung amid her smiles.”

The next time I saw her was about ten years afterwards. O, with what pleasant anticipations I hastened to her house! I remembered her every look—her fair, intelligent face; her wavy black hair; her heavenly dark-blue eyes. O, I should know her anywhere! Her I never could forget.




With these thoughts I confidently knocked at the door. “Is Miss —— at home?” I inquired of the—servant, I supposed, who opened the door. Just then three or four dirty-looking little children ran screaming after the woman, calling out, “Marm, marm!”

[Pg 442]“Hush, children, hush!” said the female, and, turning again to me, said,—

“Whom did you inquire for?” pushing back one of the red-headed urchins.

“Miss Mary ——, ma’am,” I answered. “She once lived at Blue Hill.”

She gave a sickly-looking smile. She looked sick before; her cheeks all fallen in; her skimmed-milk colored eyes had a weary, anxious expression; and her thin, bony hands, resting on the door-latch, looked like a consumptive’s, as she said,—

“When did you know her?”

“O, but a few years ago, ma’am. Is she here? Does she live in this house?” I eagerly inquired.

“Well,” she replied, with another more sepulchral smile,

“I was once Miss Mary ——. I married Mr. —— ——, over ten years ago. My baby, here,”—presenting the second in size of the children to my view, a reddish-brown haired girl, quite unlike any one I had ever seen before, and wiping its nose with her calico apron,—“she is named for me, Mary ——. Won’t you come in, sir?”

No, I thought I would not stop. I didn’t stop till I reached the hotel, where I had begged the stage-driver to wait for me but a half hour before, while I called upon the lovely Miss Mary ——.

“O, sunny dreams of childhood,
How soon they pass away!
Like flowers within the wild wood,
They perish and decay.”


A handy Doctor.

A young physician was supposed to be “keepin’ company” with a young lady. The matronly friend of the latter, having praised the young man from all points of view, returned one day from the death-bed of a friend, at which the physician[Pg 443] had been present. She eulogized the living fully as much as the dead man, and finally turning to the girl, as if she had reached the ne plus ultra of enthusiasm, she said, “Jane, he’s the handsomest man I ever see fixin’ round a corpse.”


A Doctor’s Story.

The writer is acquainted with a young physician, who read medicine with an old doctor, named Gitchel, or Twichel, of Portland, and commenced practice in his native village,—a great mistake for any practitioner to make,—and where he met with consequences natural to even a prophet, opposition and scandal. By some mistake, or, as his opponents charged, mal-practice, he lost a patient. Being, a few days later, in a shop in the next village, he was secretly informed that the “hounds of the law were after him—even at the next door, that very moment.” Terrified beyond necessity, he caught up his medicine chest, and, climbing out of the back window, fled to the woods. In the village, at home, he had courted a lovely young girl, with whom he had exchanged vows. She knew the talk that was going on [Pg 444]respecting the young doctor, but she believed it not, or, believing, clung the firmer to her pledges.




“After night fell I left the woods, and took to the highway. To go home I was afraid. O, had I but braved the doctors, and defied the lawyers, all would have been well,” he told me afterwards. “But I had received such ill treatment, been scandalized so severely, that I was cowed to the earth. I knew not if my life, my Angie, had also turned against me, when the news was spread that I had tacitly admitted my crime by fleeing.

“I went to W., hundreds of miles away. I took a new name, and put out my shingle. I was at once patronized, and soon extensively; but I was morose and unhappy. I was offered a home and a wife. I had as good as a wife away in my far-off home; I was bound to her, and I loved her as I hated my own soul! I dared not write to her, nor go to her. ‘O, my God, what shall I do?’ I cried, in my misery. He did not hear me, and I came to believe that He was not!

“Thus a whole year wore away, and I had not heard from home. Finally, I determined to make an attempt to see my Angie. I had, after going to W., allowed my heavy beard to go uncropped, which I had never done at home. I wore no clothes that I brought away with me from home. I purchased a few knickknacks, put on a slouched hat, and appeared in my native village as a peddler. Unless my voice betrayed me, I had no fears of detection. To prevent this mishap I kept a silver coin in my mouth when talking.

“I had called at several houses, but could learn nothing of my betrothed, without fear of exciting suspicion by too close inquiries. I therefore, unable longer to stand the suspense, entered her father’s house. She and her mother only were at home. I could scarcely suppress my feelings as I beheld her, the idol of my heart. When I spoke, she started to her feet, and with staring countenance gazed fixedly upon me. Then she fell back into her chair.

 [Pg 445]




[Pg 446] 

[Pg 447]“My God, she did not know me.

“The mother noticed how pale the girl looked, and proposed to get her a drink of water from the porch.

“‘No, no, I am not faint.’

“‘Yes, yes,’ I articulated, with the coin in my mouth; ‘get her some water.’

“Away went the old lady, and, dropping my basket and spitting out the coin, I cried, ‘Angie, Angie, bless you, my darling,’ and fell kneeling at her feet.

“‘O, Charley, it is you,—the Lord be praised!—come at last.’

“I sprang to my feet. There was time to say no more. The mother returned and looked wistfully about.

“‘I thought I heard some one saying, “Charley, Charley,”’ she said, presenting the water to Angie, who was now flushed and excited. I was searching for my coin.

“‘O, the water is warm. Mother, dear, do go to the well in the yard, and get some fresh; and look to see if there is anybody outside calling.’ And away went the old lady.

“‘Now, Charley, what brought you back? And why did you stay? And—’

“‘Wait, wait. Number nine boots brought me. I’ve come for you, Angie.’

“‘You will be arrested if you are seen here, I am afraid,’ she said.

“‘Then meet me to-night at —— Crossing, and fly with me.’

“I then told her how I had lived, how I had suffered, and how much I loved her; and she consented to marry me, and secretly go away with me. But the difficulty now lay in getting a lawful man to marry us. The license could be bought; I was certain of that. So I went away and obtained it. I next hired a horse and carriage, and paid for it in advance, to go twelve miles.

“‘Aren’t you Charley ——?’ asked the stable man, eying[Pg 448] me sharply, as I was about to drive away to get Angie, that night.

“‘Take this,’—and I gave him a gold piece,—‘and ask no questions, nor answer any, till you see your horse and carriage safely back,’ was my reply.

“As we drove out of the village, I heard wagon wheels far behind us. Reaching the woods, I drove into a wood road, and the ‘hounds of the —— doctors’ rode fiercely past. Angie trembled for my safety. I reached a cross road. The moon shone quite brightly, and, jumping from the buggy, I soon found, by the fresh track, which road they had taken. I took a different. So I reached a train that night, and rode till morning; arrived at W. the next, and was married.”

It was at W. that I found him first. He was smart. He had a good memory. He was a handsome man, full six feet in his stockings. In all, his address was not excelled by any physician with whom I have ever met. He is now an excellent physician and surgeon, in a large city, in good practice. When he returned on a visit to his native village, as he did last year, the affair had blown over; for after a man is honored abroad, he may become so at home,—seldom before. I wish him happiness and prosperity.

“There is no greater rogue than he who marries only for money; no greater fool than he who marries only for love. I could marry any lady I like, if I would only take the trouble,” Dr. Macilvain heard an old fellow say. Of course, nobody but a conceited old bachelor would have said that, who needs a woman to just take some of the self-conceit out of him.


English Doctors as Beaus.

Some of the old English doctors were gay fellows amongst the ladies, according to the best authorities. Nevertheless, few men have arrived at eminence in the medical profession who were known to be afflicted with an overplus of romantic or sentimental qualities in their composition.

[Pg 449]It may be interesting, particularly to ladies, to know that the majority of those physicians who have arrived at the dignity of knighthood owe their elevation rather to the smiles of love than the rewards of professional efforts. “Considering the opportunities that medical men have for pressing a suit in love, and the many temptations to gentle emotion that they experience in the aspect of female suffering, and the confiding gratitude of their fair patients, it is to be wondered at that only one medical duke is to be found in the annals of the peerage.” But the physician usually has quite sufficient self-control and honor about him, not only to keep his own tender sensibilities in subjection, but often to check those of his grateful and emotional female patient.

Thackeray has said that “girls of rank make love in the nursery, and practise the arts of coquetry upon the page boy who brings up the coals and kindlings.”

In this connection Mr. Jeaffreson, whose narratives have the virtue of being true as well as interesting, says, “I could point to a fair matron who now enjoys rank and wealth among the highest, who not only aimed tender glances, and sighed amorously upon a young, waxen-faced, blue-eyed apothecary, but even went so far as to write him a letter proposing an elopement, and other merry arrangements, in which a ‘carriage and four,’ to speed them over the country, bore a conspicuous part.”

The “silly maiden” had, like Dinah, a “fortune in silver and gold,” of about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and her tall, blue-eyed Adonis, to whom she made this almost resistless proposal, was twice her age. But he was a gentleman of honor, and, being in the confidence of the family, he generously, without divulging the mad proposition of the fair young lady, induced the father to take her to the continent, for a twelvemonth’s change of air and scenery.

“What a cold-blooded wretch!” will some fair reader exclaim.

[Pg 450]“What a fool he was, to be sure!” says the bachelor fortune-seeker.

Well, she didn’t die for her first unrequited love, but married a “very great man,” and became the mother of several children. And this is the way the fair heroine of this little story avenged herself upon this “Joseph amongst doctors.”

Very recently she manifested her good will to the man who had offered her what is generally regarded as the greatest insult a woman can experience, by procuring a commission in the army for his eldest son.

It is interesting to note the various qualities which have attracted the attention, or love, of different sons of Æsculapius to female beauties. Sometimes it has been her hair, the “pride of a woman,” that was the point of attraction, as it was with Dr. Mead, “whose highest delight was to comb the luxuriant tresses of the lady on whom he lavished his affections;” or the “eyes of heavenly blue,” like the lady love’s of Dr. Elliot, senior; or the tiny footprint in the sand, like that which first attracted Dr. Robert Ames to the woman of his choice. What the point of attraction was in the man is not easily ascertained.

A gay and dangerous beau among the “high ladies” was Dr. Hugh Smithson, the father of James Smithson (his illegitimate son), the founder of the “Smithsonian Institution” at Washington. Sir Hugh’s forte lay in his remarkably handsome person, said to be only second to Sir Astley Cooper in beauty of form and features. However, he had the address which secured to him one of the handsomest and proudest heiresses of England, and this is how he accomplished it.

He was but the grandson of a Yorkshire baronet, “with no prospects,” and was apprenticed to an apothecary, and for a long time paid court to mortar and pestle at Hutton Garden. The story runs, that the handsome doctor had been mittened by a “belle of private rank and modest[Pg 451] wealth,” and that the only child and heiress of Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and an acquaintance of Sir Hugh’s, heard of his rejection, when she publicly observed that “the beauty who had disdained such a man was guilty of a folly that no other woman in England would have been.”

Sir Hugh would have been unwise not to have taken this broad hint, and he did what none of the heiress’s suitors, even of high rank, had yet aspired to,—proposed, and was accepted. Sixteen years later he was created Duke of Northumberland, and could well afford to laugh in his sleeve at the proposition that “his coronet should be surrounded with senna leaves, instead of strawberry,” since he had reached a rank that no other M. D. had previously done, and possessed the “loveliest woman in England,” and a great fortune, to boot.

Lord Glenbervie, who from the druggist’s counter reached the peerage, was taunted by Sheridan with his plebeian origin, from which a patrician wife had redeemed him, in the following amusing verse:—

“Glenbervie, Glenbervie!
What’s good for the scurvy?
But why is the doctor forgot?
In his arms he should quarter
A pestle and mortar,
For his crest an immense gallipot.”

Sir John Elliot was another handsome doctor of that period, who, notwithstanding his being disliked by King George, could, with small effort and large impudence, “capture the hearts of half the prettiest women amongst the king’s subjects, and then shrug his shoulders with chagrin at his success.” “One lady, the daughter of a nobleman, ignorant that he was otherwise occupied, made him an offer, and on learning, to her surprise and mortification, that he was already married, vowed she would not rest till she had assassinated his wife.”

[Pg 452]Dr. Arbuthnot, whose courtly address, sparkling wit, ready flow of language, innate cordiality, and polished manners made him a great favorite about London, was one of the finest looking gentlemen of his time. The doctor was contemporary with Dean Swift, with whom he used to enjoy flirtations with the queen’s maids of honor about St. James.

“Arm in arm with the dean, he used to peer about St. James, jesting, laughing, causing matronly dowagers to smile at ‘that dear Mr. Dean,’ and young girls, out for their first season at court, green and unsophisticated, to blush with annoyance at his coarse, shameless badinage,—bowing to this great man, from whom he hoped for countenance; staring insolently at that one, from whom he expected nothing; quoting Martial to the prelate, who could not understand Latin; whispering French to a youthful diplomatist, who knew no tongue but English; and continually angling for the bishopric, which he never got.”

From flattering court beauties, Arbuthnot became flatterer to the gouty, hypochondriacal old queen. But wine and women made sad havoc with poor Arbuthnot, who died in very straitened circumstances.

Dr. Mead, before mentioned, was twice married. He was fifty-one years old when married the second time, to a baronet’s daughter. Fortunate beyond fortunate men, he had the great mis-fortune of outliving his usefulness. His sight failed, and his powers underwent that gradual decay which is the saddest of all possible conclusions to a vigorous and dignified existence. Even his valets domineered over him. Long before this his second childhood, he excited the ridicule of the town by his vanity and absurd pretensions as a “lady-killer.”

“The extravagances of his amorous senility were not only whispered about, but some contemptible fellow seized upon the unpleasant rumors, and published them in a scandalous novelette, wherein the doctor was represented as a ‘Cornuter[Pg 453] of seventy-five,’ when, to please the damsel who ‘warmed his aged heart,’—she was a blacksmith’s daughter,—the doctor, long past threescore and ten, went to Paris, and learned to dance.”




Dr. Richard Mead died aged eighty-one. The sale of his library, pictures, and statues brought the heirs eighty thousand dollars. His other effects amounted to one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.

Another Dr. Mead, uncle to the above, lived to the age of one hundred and forty-nine years. Both of these physicians were remarkable for their kindness and liberality. The latter left five pounds a year to the poor, to continue forever.

 [Pg 454]

Beauty not Potent with Ladies.

A handsome person is not alone requisite to win the affections of a sensible lady. Radcliffe, who was as great a humbug in affairs matrimonial as in all other matters, was represented as being “handsome and imposing in person;” but his overbearing manner, and his coarse flings at the softer sex, made him anything but a favorite with the ladies. While he professed to be a misogynist, he made several unsuccessful attempts, particularly late in life, to commit himself to matrimony.

A lady, with “a singing noise in her head,” asked what she should do for it. “Curl your hair at night with a ballad,” was the coarse reply.

Once, when sitting over a bottle of wine at a public house, Queen Anne sent her servant for Dr. Radcliffe to hasten to her Royal Highness, who was taken suddenly ill with what was vulgarly called “the blue devils,” to which gormandizers are subject, but more properly termed indigestion. “When the wine is in, the wits are out,” was readily demonstrated in this case; for, on a second messenger arriving from the queen for her physician to make all haste, Radcliffe banged his fist down on the board, at which other physicians also sat, and exclaimed,—

“Go tell her Royal Highness that she has nothing but the vapors.”

When, on the following morning, the process being reversed,—the “wine was out, and wits were in”—the doctor presented himself, with pomp and a show of dignity, at St. James’, judge of his mortification, when the chamberlain stopped him in the anteroom, and informed him that he was already succeeded by Dr. Gibbons.

The queen never forgave him for saying she had the “vapors.” Radcliffe never forgave Dr. Gibbons for superseding him. “Nurse Gibbons,” he would bitterly exclaim, “is only fit to look after nervous women, who only fancy sickness.”

[Pg 455]When the doctor was forty-three years of age, he made love to a lady of half his years, and followed with an offer of marriage, which was accepted. As the fact became public, the doctor was warmly congratulated upon his good fortune, for the lady was not only young, but was a beauty, and an heiress to seventy-five thousand dollars.

The wedding day was set, which was to crown Radcliffe’s happiness, when a little drawback arose, which was not previously mentioned in the bills. The peculiar condition of the beauty’s health rendered it expedient that, instead of the doctor, she should marry her father’s book-keeper.

The doctor’s acetous temper towards the fair sex was not lessened by this mishap, nor were the ladies backward in giving him an occasional reminder of the fact. Nevertheless, unlike the burnt child, that avoided the fire, Radcliffe, sixteen years afterwards, made a second conspicuous throw of the dice. He was then about sixty. He came out with a new and elegant equipage, employed the most fashionable tailors, hatters, and wig-makers, “who arrayed him in the newest modes of foppery, which threw all London into fits of laughter, while he paid his addresses, with the greatest possible publicity, to a lady who possessed every requisite charm,—youth, beauty, and wealth,—except a tenderness for her aged suitor.

“Behold, love has taken the place of avarice [the affair was thus aired in a public print]; “or, rather, is become avarice of another kind, which still urges him to pursue what he does not want. But behold the metamorphosis! The anxious, mean cares of a usurer are turned into the languishments and complaints of a lover. ‘Behold,’ says the aged Æsculapian, ‘I submit; I own, great Love, thy empire. Pity, Hebe, the fop you have made. What have I to do with gilding but on pills? Yet, O Fate, for thee I sit amidst a crowd of painted deities on my chariot, buttoned in gold, clasped in gold, without having any value for that beloved[Pg 456] metal, but as it adorns the hat, person, and laces of the dying lover. I ask not to live, O Hebe! Give me gentle death. Euthanasia, Euthanasia! That is all I implore.’

“O Wealth, how impotent art thou, and how little dost thou supply us with real happiness, when the usurer himself cannot forget thee for the love of what is foreign to his felicity, as thou art!”

Although Radcliffe denied his own sisters during his life, “lest they should show their affection for him by dipping their hands in his pockets,” some stories of his benevolence are told, one of which is, that finding one Dr. James Drake, when “each had done the utmost to injure the other,” broken down and in distressed circumstances, he sent by a lady fifty guineas to his unfortunate enemy, saying,—

“Let him by no means learn who sent it. He is a gentleman who has often done his best to hurt me, and would by no means accept a benefit from one whom he had striven to make an enemy.”


A Stable-boy, Poet, and Doctor.

Poor George Crabbe, the poet-doctor-apothecary, had a very hard time in this cold, unappreciative world, until Love smiled upon his unhappy lot. He was born in the old sea-side town of Aldoborough, where his father was salt inspector,—not an over-lucrative office in those days. George was the eldest of a numerous family.

From the common school he went to apprenticeship with a rough old country doctor, who lodged him with the stable-boy. From this indignity he was, however, soon released, and went to live with a kind gentleman, a surgeon of Woodbridge. Here he began to write poetry. Here, also, he became acquainted with a young surgeon, named Leavett, who introduced Crabbe to a lovely young lady, with whom he fell desperately in love.

This inestimable young lady resided at Parham Lodge[Pg 457] with her uncle, John Tovell, yeoman, and her name was Sarah Elmy. Mr. Tovell possessed an estate worth four thousand dollars per annum, and, without assuming any “airs,” was a first-class “yeoman” of that period—“one that already began to be styled, by courtesy, an esquire.”

“On Crabbe’s first introduction to Parham Lodge, he was received with cordiality; but when it became known that he had fallen in love with the squire’s niece, it was only natural that his presumption should at first meet with the disapproval of Mrs. Tovell and the squire.”




After closing his term of apprenticeship with Dr. Page, young Crabbe returned to his native village, where he furnished a little shop with “a pound’s worth of drugs,” and an array of empty bottles, and set himself up as an apothecary. His few patients were only amongst the poorer class of the town. Although he had plighted troth with the lovely Sarah at Parham Lodge, with starvation staring him in the face at Aldoborough, and the opposition of the lady’s family[Pg 458] at the Lodge, there was little prospect of bettering his condition in life. The temporary military appointments which he received brought him no nearer his desired object. The lady remained true to her vows; and long after his friend Leavett had quitted the shores of time, and his new and true friend Burke had extended to the promising author his patronage, she received the reward for her faithful waiting.

The union of Crabbe with Miss Elmy conferred eventually upon the poet, doctor, and apothecary, the possession of the estate of “yeoman” Tovell—Parham Lodge. A maiden sister of the squire’s, dying, left him a considerable sum of money. The loving, waiting Sarah proved a faithful, though some might say a somewhat domineering, wife, as the following quotation intimates:—

“I can screw Crabbe up or down, just like an old fiddle,” this amiable woman was wont to say; and throughout her life she amply demonstrated the assertion.

“But her last will and testament was a handsome apology for all her past little tiffs.”


The Right Man.

A curious story is told, and vouched for, respecting the manner in which Dr. and Rev. Thomas Dawson obtained a rich and pious wife. This gentleman combined the two professions of preacher and doctor. If, during divine services, he was called upon to prescribe for an invalid, he wound up his sermon, requested his audience to pray for the sick, and repaired forthwith to administer to the body. I presume the congregation to whom the reasonable request was made did not take it in the same light as did an “M. D.” of whom we heard, who made a point to be called out of church every Sabbath.

Once the minister, who had a bit of humor in his manner, stopped on a certain occasion in his “thirdly,” and said,[Pg 459] “Dr. B. is wanted to attend upon Mr. ——, and may the Lord have mercy upon him.”

The doctor was so enraged at this “insinuation” that he called upon the parson, and demanded an “apology to the congregation, before whom he felt he had been grossly slandered.”

The parson agreed to this proposal, and in the afternoon he arose and said,—

“As Dr. B. feels aggrieved at my remark of this morning, and demands an apology, I hereby offer the same; and as that was the first case, I trust it may be the last in which I am ever called upon in his behalf to supplicate divine intervention.”

But to return to Dr. Dawson. Amongst his patients was a Miss Mary Corbett, said to be one of the wealthiest and most pious of his flock, whom, on his calling upon her one day, he found bending in reverence over the Bible.

The doctor approached, and as she raised her eyes to his she held her finger upon the passage which occupied her immediate attention. The doctor bent down and read the words at which her finger pointed—“Thou art the man.”

The doctor was not slow to take the hint. Thus he obtained a pious wife, she a devout husband.—See “Book About Doctors.”

A great deal has been reported respecting the “off-hand” manner in which Abernethy “popped the question” to Miss Anne Threlfall. The fact of the case is given by Dr. Macilwain. The lady was visiting at a place where the doctor was attending a patient—of all places the best to learn the true merits of a lady. He was at once interested in her, and ere long there seemed a tacit understanding between them. “The doctor was shy and sensitive; which was the real Rubicon he felt a difficulty in passing; and this was the method he adopted: he wrote her a brief note, pleading professional occupation, etc., and requesting the[Pg 460] lady to take a fortnight in which to consider her reply.” From these facts a great falsehood has oft been repeated how he “couldn’t afford time to make love,” etc., and that she must decide to marry him in a week, or not at all.

He was married to her January 9, 1800, and attended lectures the same day.




“Many years after, I met him coming out of the hospital, and said,—

“‘You are looking very gay to-day, sir.’

“‘Yes,’ he replied, looking at his white vest and smart attire, ‘one of the girls was married this morning.’

“‘Indeed, sir? You should have given yourself a holiday on such an occasion, and not come down to lecture.’

“‘Nay,’ he replied, ‘egad, I came down to lecture the same day I was married myself.’”—Memoirs of Abernethy.




[Pg 461]



“The evidence of sense is the first and highest kind of evidence of which human nature is capable.”—Wilkins.

“They choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”—Scripture.



Mind and matter!

What is the connection?

Why does one’s yawning set a whole room full to yawning?

What is the unseen power, appropriated mostly by the ignorant, which at times controls another weaker mind, or, for the time being, controls disease? The majority of medical men “get around” this question by denying the whole proposition. But that does not satisfy the jury—the people. The great community know that there is some unseen power, which is partially developed in certain persons, which has great controlling influence over certain other persons;[Pg 462] hence over their diseases, especially mental or nervous diseases.

I hope to be able to explain something of this “phenomenon.”

Those who practise it know nothing of its modus operandi, any more than the bird that sings on yonder willow knows of the science of music.

To the common suggestion, “It’s spirits,” I say, No, no!

If it were “spirits,” why does the spirit always seek a low organization through which to manifest itself? There are few exceptions to this rule.

It is unnatural, inconsistent with the divine attributes for the supernatural to mingle with the natural. The circulation of the blood was once attributed to the action of the sun—hence a man fell asleep at sunset—and to supernatural causes.

Science has done away with these absurd notions.

“It is a manifestation of divine power,” say others.

Well, for that matter, everything is; but directly it is not, for what answers the “spirit” suggestion answers this one also. Divine power cannot be limited.

For want of a better name, let us call this power “animal magnetism.”

The man who controls the mind of another, or another’s disease, through his mind, must possess the following requisites: First, health; second, will; third, faith that he can control the subject. No reasoning is necessary. The less causality he possesses, the better. The less reasoning faculties, the better he can perform.


Animal magnetism is an animal power—not a spiritual. All the animal qualities—organs—are located in the back and lower part of the brain. They act independent of reason. Passions have no reason. The affections have no reason. Anger and hate have none. The force, driving[Pg 463] power of man is centred back of the ears. The cerebellum, or lower brain, acts independent of reason. Birds, and most of the animals, possess all the qualities that the cerebellum of man contains.

The upper brain—the cerebrum—is the instrument of our thoughts—our reason. In sleep, it is still; its action is suspended. Hence there is no reason in our dreams. The motive power is in the lower brain; hence somnambulism. If there is anything of a “trance” nature, it means shutting off the action of the cerebrum, and concentring the power in the cerebellum. Some persons have but little upper brain. If they have the other requisites, they may become good clairvoyants, or magnetizers, according to the manner in which they exercise the animal power.

I have yet to find a professional clairvoyant with large or active reasoning (intellectual) qualities.


Yet Room for more Discoveries.

The living blood has not yet been analyzed. It contains a vitalizing element which chemistry has not yet been adequate to detect. There is yet as much to be discovered in the science of life as has already been revealed to man. It will yet be found out.

How is the power, or force, conveyed from the operator to the person operated upon? Through what medium does it act?

Let us begin with the brain. Let us take a ball of cotton for our illustration. We draw out a piece from it, and spin it out to our fancy. It is a thread, but cotton still, twisted to a fine string. The brain is located at the top of man. By means of fine threads, called nerves, the brain is distributed over the entire body, so completely that you cannot stick a pin in the flesh without touching a nerve, wounding the brain. Suspend the entire action of the brain, as by ether, chloroform, or nitrous oxygen gas, and sticking the[Pg 464] pin is not felt. Partially suspend the action, as by a small quantity of the nitrous oxygen gas, and the force of the brain (or active force) is centred upon the lower brain, and the man under its influence acts out his animal nature in spite of reason.

A man, I hold, who magnetizes or mesmerizes another, uses only the force of the lower brain. Like begets like. He cannot affect a person of large intellectual organs; only one with the animal organs active.

You cannot see the gas, yet it affects the person. You cannot see the subtile power conveyed from one man to a weaker. He conveys it by touch—nerve to nerve. I believe science will yet discover just what this subtile agent is—both in the blood and nerves; for it is in both, or why does the suspension of it in one destroy the other? Destroy the nerve, and the corresponding blood-vessel is inactive. Destroy the blood-vessel, and the corresponding nerve suffers.

It is the power that the mother exercises to hush her sobbing babe to slumber. As the child gathers strength of mind, she loses that control. A person may be used as a mesmeric subject until he becomes a mere idiotic machine. Educate a clairvoyant doctor, and what becomes of his clairvoyant power? It is lost with the increase of intellectual power. Now, is this a “divine” quality, that only ignorance can make use of? Is it really “hidden from the wise and prudent, and given to babes?” All sciences were practised by the uneducated first, before being reduced to a science. I think this will be yet reduced to a useful science. As it now stands, it is useless. If it is a spirit power, the spirits are mighty silent as to the fact.

We come into this world by natural causes. We live, grow, exist, and we die by natural causes. We brought no knowledge with us; we carry none out. All the qualities yet developed in man are natural, and adapted to this life. Millions upon millions have so lived and so died, and a[Pg 465] spirit power in this world is no nearer to being established than it was when Adam was a little boy. All that heretofore has been attributed to spirit, or supernatural causes, has been proven to be but natural. I claim that magnetism and the undiscovered sciences are natural, and have no connection with the next world, to which we tend. The human eye, to some extent, is magnetic. A blind man cannot thrill an audience; hardly can an orator with glasses over his eyes. Dr. Chapin approaches the nearest to it. Dr. Beecher’s great magnetic power is in his eyes, and is also let off at the ends of his fingers. But to thoroughly magnetize a person, he must be touched.


Power of the Human Eye.

A wild animal has only small reasoning organs. The influence of the human eye is potent over him. Lichtenstein says, “The African hunters avail themselves of the circumstance that the lion does not attempt to spring upon his prey until he has measured the ground, and has reached the distance of ten or twelve paces, when he lies crouching on the ground, gathering himself up for the effort. The hunters,” he says, “make it a rule never to fire on the lion until he lies down at this short distance, so that they can aim directly at his head with the most perfect certainty. If one meets a lion, his only safety is to stand still, though the animal crouches to make his spring; that spring will not be hazarded if the man remain motionless, and look him steadfastly in the eyes. The animal hesitates, rises, slowly retreats some steps, looks earnestly about him, lies down, again retreats, till, getting by degrees quite out of the magic circle of man’s influence, he takes flight in the utmost haste.”

It is said of Valentine Greatrakes, the great magnetizer and forerunner of Mesmer, that the glance of his eye had a marvellously fascinating influence upon people of a susceptible or nervous organization. All magnetizers, etc., who have[Pg 466] tried their powers upon the writer, first bent a sharp, scrutinizing gaze upon the eye of their unruly subject. Yet they have exercised no reason in selecting the subject.




I attended the exhibitions of Professor Cadwell, night after night, in Boston. I went on the stage. I examined the subjects whom he controlled “like an old fiddle,” and, physiognomically and phrenologically, not one of them was above mediocrity intellectually, and the most of them were far below. The best subjects had the least intellectuality. His control over them was astonishing. In some he could suspend the power of memory, others all the reasoning[Pg 467] faculties. Some he could control muscularly, some mentally.

“This is a hot stove,” he said, setting an empty chair before the row of men, boys, and girls sitting along the wall side of the stage. “It is very hot;” and they began drawing back—all but one. “Don’t you see the stove, and feel the awful heat, Frank?” he asked of one hard subject.




“I can feel the heat, but I can’t see the stove in that chair,” was his droll reply.

The professor could make this gentleman forget his name, but could not make him believe that “a silk hat was a basin of water.”


The Royal Touch.

The old ignorant kings and queens were said to remove the scrofula (king’s evil) by the touch. Gouty old Queen Anne was the last to exercise the royal prerogative to any extent.

A scrofulous development is the result of imperfect action, and obstruction of some one or more of the five excretory organs of the human system. These are the skin (or glands of the same), the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, and the colon. The most that the regular physician does in scrofula (or one[Pg 468] who is not a specialist in this branch of physic) is to attend to the general health of the patient of a scrofulous diathesis, build up the strength, and endeavor to increase the vitality. This in a measure tends to reduce the scrofulous development. Now, will not a child sleeping continually with an aged person or invalid tend to reduce the vitality of the child? Yes, it absorbs the disease of the one, while the vitality is thrown off for the benefit of the weaker person. Here, you see, one person may partake of the vitality of another by touch. Then may not the continued touch of a healthy person (king or subject) affect the health of a weaker, on the principle of increased vitality?

But it really removes no cause, hence cannot take the place of an alterative, or anti-scrofulous medicine. The “crew of wretched souls” who waited the king’s touch really believed that he “solicits Heaven.” Hence the cure. The coin which he hung about the neck of these “strangely visited people, all swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,” called their attention continually to “the healing benediction.”

Pyrrhus, who was placed upon the throne by force of arms B. C. 306, was said to cure the “evil” by the “grace of God.” Valentine, who only held his throne—A. D. 375—by the help of Theodosius, not by the “grace of God”—claimed to cure scrofula by the latter power, as did Valentine II., whose wicked temper ended his life in a “fit of passion.”

The subject of the following sketch claimed also divine power:—


Herr Gassner. “The Devil understands Latin.”

It seems from the following truthful account of Herr Gassner, a clergyman at Elwangen, that the devil can understand Latin, as well as “quote Scripture.” About the year 1758 this clergyman became so celebrated in curing diseases by animal magnetism, that the people came flocking from Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Swabia, in great numbers, to be cured of all sorts of ailments, a thousand persons arriving at a time, who had to lodge in tents, as the town could not lodge them all.

 [Pg 469]


[Pg 470] 

[Pg 471]His modus operandi was as follows. Dressed in a long scarlet cloak, a silken sash about his loins, a chain about his neck, and wearing, or holding in one hand, a crucifix, and touching with the other the diseased part, and in the Latin tongue commanding the disease, or the evil spirit, whichever the case was termed, to depart, in the name of Jesus Christ, the patient was usually healed. Dr. Schlisel says, that Gassner “spoke chiefly in Latin, in his operations, and the devil is said to have understood him perfectly.”

The Austrian government gave him its assistance. The excitement became great. Elwangen was overcrowded by people, rich and poor. Riches flowed into the coffers of its trades-people, though Gassner took nothing directly for his cures. Hundreds of patients arrived daily; the apothecary gained a great revenue from dispensing simples ordered by Gassner, principally powder of blessed thistle, oils, and washes. The printers labored day and night at their presses in order to furnish sufficient pamphlets, prayers, pictures, etc., for the eager horde of admirers. The goldsmiths were crowded, also, to furnish all kinds of Agni Dei, crosses, charms, hearts, and rings. Even the beggars had their harvest, as well as bakers, hotel-keepers, and the rest.

During seven years he carried on his public cures. Hundreds of physicians went to see him. Mesmer, in answer to the inquiry of the Elector of Bavaria, declared his astonishing cures were produced merely by the exercise of magnetic spiritual excitement, of which he himself (claiming no God-like power) gave to the elector convincing proofs on the spot.

On the contrary, Gassner claimed that he could heal none unless they exercised faith. His surroundings, trappings,[Pg 472] dress, crucifixes, appeals to Jesus Christ, and Latin mummery, had the effect to impress the patient with faith in Gassner’s Christ-like powers.

“Some,” says Dr. Schlisel, “described him as a prophetic and holy man; others accused him of being a fantastic fellow, an impostor, and leagued with the devil. Some accused him of dealing in the black art; others attributed his cures to the magnet, to electricity, to sympathy, to imagination; and some attributed the whole to the omnipotent power of the name of Christ.”

Having touched or rubbed the affected part of the patient, Gassner, in a “loud, proud voice,” commanded the disease to come forth, or to manifest itself. Sometimes he had to repeat this command ten times. Then, when the part was presented, he seized it with both hands; he inspired the patient to himself repel the disease, by saying, “Depart from me, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

“He then gave the patient his blessing by spreading his cloak over the head, grasping his neck or head in both hands, repeating a silent, earnest prayer, making the sign of the cross, ordering some simple from the apothecary’s, which he consecrates, compels the patient to wash his hands clean, when he is permitted to ‘depart in peace.’

“Most diseases he cured instantly. Some required months, and others he could not affect in the least.”

There is but one philosophical way to account for these cures. To say there is nothing in it, or, “It is all humbug,” will not satisfy the people. To affirm it is the arts of the devil is merely nonsensical. It is influence. Of what? Of one powerful mind over another. And when Gassner found a mind equally as powerful as his own, the disease refused to depart. There you have the whole of it, “in a nutshell,”—the exercising of one mind over another; and mind (not unusually) controls matter in the living body.

For about seven years Gassner was a public healer, and then he suddenly and forever disappeared.

 [Pg 473]

Royalty in the Shade.

Sir John Fortesque, the learned legal writer of the time of Edward IV., spoke of the gift of healing by touch as a “time immemorial privilege of the kings of England.” He very seriously attributed the virtue to the unction imparted to the hands in the coronation. Elizabeth was not superior to this superstition, and she frequently appeared before the people in the character of a miraculous healer. There was formerly a regular office in the English Book of Common Prayer for the performance of this ceremony. The curious reader is referred to Macbeth, Scene III. of Act IV. for further particulars.

With the rise of Valentine Greatrakes, the “royal prerogative” received a staggering blow. The marvellous cures of this man, living in Ireland, reached England, and the king invited him to come to London; and along his journey, whither he was preceded by the returning messenger, we are told that the magistrates of the towns and cities waited upon Valentine, and begged him to remain and heal their sick.

On his arrival, the king, “though not fully persuaded of his wonderful gift, recommended him to the care of his physician, and permitted him to practise his power as much as he pleased in London.”

Greatrakes had no medical education, nor claimed aught beyond a gift of healing most diseases by “stroking the parts with his hand.” He is described as being a man of “commanding address, frank and pleasing, having a brilliant eye, gallant bearing, fine figure, and a remarkably handsome face. With a hearty and musical voice, and a natural stock of high animal spirits, he was the delight of all festive assemblies. Yet he was a devout man.”

Daily there assembled a great number of people, invalids from all parts of the kingdom, to be healed, and to see the wonderful miracles performed by a man! Here congregated[Pg 474] the dropsical, those afflicted by unsightly sores, tumors, and swellings, the lame, the halt, and the blind. “Some he could not affect, but the most of them he cured.” The only visible means he took was to stroke, or at times violently rub, the part affected. Lord Conway wrote in his praise, but added, “After all, I am far from thinking his cures miraculous. I believe it is by a sanative virtue and a natural efficiency, which extend not to all diseases.” The Viscountess Conway was afflicted by an inveterate headache, which he could not remove. This lady was a positive character. The failure was attributed to the peculiar disease, when it should have been assigned to the peculiarity of the person. Sir Evremond, then at court, wrote a sarcastic novel on the subject of “The Irish Prophet.” The Royal Society held a meeting on the subject, and, unable to refute the facts of his cures, accounted for them as being “produced by a sanative contagion in Mr. Greatrakes’ body, which had an antipathy to some peculiar diseases, and not to others.” They demanded (particularly Dr. Loyd, in a “severe pamphlet”) how he cured, and why he cured some, and could not others. Greatrakes replied that he was not able to tell. And “let them,” he said, “tell me what substance that is which removes and goes out with such expedition, and it will be more easy to resolve their questions.”

To the scandalous reports respecting his operations upon female patients, without referring directly to such report, he says, attributing the diseases to evil spirits, “which kind of pains cannot endure my hand, nay, not with gloves, but fly immediately, though six or eight coats or cloaks be between the person and my hand, as at the Lady Ranelagh’s,” etc.

The clergy had previously taken alarm, and cited Valentine before the Bishop’s Court to account for his proceedings, and when he took a scriptural view of his cures, he was forbidden to practise more; which was as preposterous as the decree of Louis XIV., which commanded that no more[Pg 475] miracles should be performed at the tomb of the Abbé Paris.

Neither the clergy nor the faculty could prevent him, and daily the crowd of representatives of heterogeneous diseases made pilgrimages to the Squire of Affam. The scene was said to be ludicrously painful. They came in crowds from everywhere; on foot and in carriages; the young and the aged; some hobbling upon crutches, others literally crawling along; the blind carrying the cripple upon his back, while the latter directed the way, and the deaf and dumb followed in their wake.




While the lord mayor and the chief justice, with great physicians, were among his vehement supporters of the sterner sex, the majority of his real admirers were the ladies. The lovely Countess of Devonshire entertained him in her palace, and other high ladies lionized him nightly in their parlors, where he “performed his pleasant operations, with wonderful results, on the prettiest and most hysterical ladies present.” “But his triumph was of short duration. His professions were made the butts of ridicule, to which his presence of mind and volubility were unable to effectually[Pg 476] respond. His tone of conversation was represented by his enemies as compounded of the blasphemy of the religious enthusiast and the obscene profligate. His boast that he never received a fee for remedial services was met by a square contradiction, and a statement that he received five hundred dollars at once.” Finally, the tide of opposition and slander became too strong for him, and he returned to his native land, and to oblivion.

We are indebted to several authorities for the foregoing sketch of Greatrakes, particularly Chambers’ Miscellany, Lord Conway, E. Rich, and Jeaffreson.



Frederick Anthony Mesmer, to whose name the above ism is affixed, was born in Werseburg, in 1734. He neither discovered, developed, nor understood anything of the art which has immortalized him. He was a designing, audacious man. If Gassner, Prince Hohenloe, and Greatrakes were falsely accused of dealing with the devil, Mesmer was truly leagued with a Father Hell. Father Hell was professor of astronomy at Vienna, where Mesmer obtained a medical diploma, and where he was connected at first with Maximilian Hell in magnetic instruments. Having a falling out with the latter, Mesmer resorted to the arts of his great predecessor, Greatrakes, but professed to cure, without the help of God or man, all curable diseases. He produced marvellous effects (but only temporary, however) in both Vienna and Paris, to which latter place he repaired to practise animal magnetism.

Among the little episodes relative to his treatment is one of Madame Campan, a lady of the royal household, author of “Memoires de Marie Antoinette.” The husband of this celebrated lady sent for Dr. Mesmer—for all Paris was running mad after him—to cure him of lung fever. He came with great pomp, and having timed the pulse, and[Pg 477] made certain inquiries respecting the case, he gravely informed the husband and wife that it was not in the way of magnetism, and the only mode of cure lay in the following: “You must lay by his side”—for he was confined to his bed—“one of three things, an old empty bottle, a black hen, or a young woman of brown complexion.”




“‘Sir,’ exclaimed the wife, ‘let us try the empty bottle first.’

“The bottle was tried, with what result is easily imagined. Monsieur Campan grew worse. Improving the opportunity of the lady’s absence, Mesmer bled and blistered the patient, who recovered.

“Imagine the lady’s astonishment when Mesmer asked for and actually obtained a written certificate of cure by magnetism” (Mesmerism).

[Pg 478]This is more easily believed when one learns that Mesmer obtained his degree on an address, or thesis, relating to “planetary influence on the human body,” and that afterwards, in answer to the inquiry by a learned Paris physician, who asked him why he ordered his patients to bathe in the Seine, instead of spring water, as the waters of the Seine were always dirty, Mesmer replied,—

“Why, my dear doctor, the cause of the water which is exposed to the sun’s rays being superior to all other water is, that it is magnetized by the sun. I myself magnetized the sun some twenty years ago.”

All that sort of fellows have ever a short course. Mesmer reached his zenith in Paris about the year 1784, when, for one year’s practice, he received the enormous sum of four hundred thousand francs. The government, at the instigation of Count Maurepas, had previously offered him an annuity of twenty thousand francs, with ten thousand francs additional, to support a college hospital, if he would remain and practise only in France. “One unpleasant condition was attached to this offer, which prevented its acceptance; viz., three nominees of the crown were to watch the proceedings.”

The government appointed a commission, consisting of Dr. Guillotin, and three other physicians, and five members of the Academy,—Franklin, Bailly, Borey, Leroi, and Lavoisier,—to examine the means employed by Mesmer. The result of the investigation—the discovery of his battery, which he termed the baquet, around which his patients assembled, and his windy pretensions to the self-possession of some animal magnetism beyond even his disciples, Bergasse and Deslon—was unfavorable to the truth of animal magnetism and morality, and the enthusiasm in his favor rapidly subsided. Mesmer soon found it convenient to repair to London. Here he made no great impression; his day had gone by.

[Pg 479]He died in his native town, in all but penury and obscurity, in 1815.

Clairvoyance now made its appearance, which was but a different phase of magnetism, and Mesmerism was soon but indifferently practised in France. In England the faculty entirely ignored it.



What is it? The word is French, meaning, literally, clear-sightedness. It is a power attributed to certain persons, or claimed by certain persons, of seeing things not visible to the eye, or things at a distance. It is the action of mind over mind,—the seeing, mentally, of one mind through another.

By personal experiment with clairvoyants, I am positively convinced that they follow the mind (thoughts) of the subject or patient. I have laid out my programme before visiting one, and the operator, whether pretending or not to a “trance” state, has followed that course to the end, but usually adding something which was conjectural. Practice helps them very much. But the most of those persons, male and female, who proclaim themselves clairvoyants, are humbugs and impostors.

Let any clear-headed man, who has good intellectual qualities, go to a good clairvoyant, and try the above plan. Think out just the places and persons you wish the clairvoyant (or spiritualist, if he or she choose to call themselves such) to bring up. Stick firmly to your text, and the operator will follow it, if he or she is a clairvoyant. They can tell you nothing that you do not already know. If they go beyond that, it is guessed at.

No person of large causality can be a clairvoyant. The moment they employ cause and effect, they are lost in doubt. How else can you account for nearly all the professional clairvoyants (and spiritualists) being persons of low [Pg 480]intellectuality? Of course they deny this; but a fact is a fact, and it can’t be rubbed out!

There is a magnetizing feature in clairvoyance. The operator can make some persons think they see a thing, when it is an impossibility to see it. This influence is sometimes passed from one person to another imperceptibly.

When the earthquake shook up the minds of the Bostonians, in 1870, there was one grand illustration of this fact. A gentleman standing in front of the Old State House, on Washington Street, soon after the shock, asserted that the earthquake had started a stone in the front end of the Sears Building.

“There! don’t you see it?” he exclaimed to the people on the sidewalk, who are always ready to stop and look at any new or curious object, as he pointed towards an imaginary crack in the marble. “It is just above the corner of that window there”—pointing—“a crack in the stone a foot long.”

“O, yes, I see it,” said one and another; and the gentleman moved on, leaving the gaping crowd to gaze after the imaginary rent in the wall.

“Where is it?” inquired a new comer.

“Right up there over the door,” replied one.

“No, over that third window,” said another.

Some “saw it,” and others didn’t “see it,” but all day long the tide of curious humans ebbed and flowed. At eight o’clock in the morning I took a look—not at the broken stone in the marble front, but at the magnetized crowd looking upon an imaginary break. People with large causality looked, exclaimed, “Pooh!” and went on. The credulous stood gazing, and pointing out the rent to the “blind ones, who wouldn’t see,” hour after hour. At noon I again visited the scene. The crowd had shifted, but the same class, male and female, stood gazing at the “calico building,” and the same sort of people “saw the crack over the window.”

 [Pg 481]




[Pg 482] 

[Pg 483]At six P. M., I again visited the Old State House, and at dusk still again, to behold the crowd straining to get a last look at the rent before darkness shut out the view. On the following day, the scene was repeated, with no mitigation. The fact of the papers denying that there was any rent went for nothing. The crowd came and went, from morning till evening.


The Gates of Moscow.

Some readers may remember the story of the great Wizard of the North, who performed such marvellous feats before the czar, receiving from his highness a splendid present in money, and finally wound up by announcing that he would leave the city of Moscow on the following day, at twelve M., by all the gates of the city at the same time!

The watchmen were doubled at all the gates, to whom a description of the man was sent, and a sharp lookout was commanded, when, lo! just at noon the wizard was seen leaving the city at each separate outlet at the same moment. Of course he could not have left by but one gate, but which of the twelve no one could tell, for he was seen at all, or the watchmen were made to believe that they saw him, as he passed out. To this the watchmen of the several gates testified, and that he uncovered his head to them, as he went past.

At which gate did he really make his exit? The beautiful gate Spass Voratu, or Gate of the Redeemer, has over the archway a picture of the Saviour. All who pass out here are compelled to uncover. Hence it is my belief, as he was seen uncovered, that this was the gate at which he really went out, and at all the rest the watchmen imagined they saw the wizard make his marvellous exit from Moscow.

 [Pg 484]

The Doctor of Antwerp.

Townsend, on Mesmerism, tells an instructing and amusing anecdote of a test, by a learned doctor of Antwerp, upon a clairvoyant girl. The doctor was allowed, at a seance, to select his own test, when he said,—

“If the somnambulist”—that was what he termed her—“tells me what is in my pocket, I will believe.” Then to her he put the question,—

“What is in my pocket?”

“A case of lancets,” was the reply.

“True,” said the doctor, somewhat startled. “But the young lady may know that I am a medical man; hence her guess that I carry a case of instruments in my pocket. But if she will tell me the number of lancets in the case, I will believe.”

“Ten,” was the correct answer.

Still the doctor was sceptical, and said,—

“I cannot yet believe but if the form of the case is described I must yield to conviction.” And the form of the case was given.

“This certainly is very singular,” said the doctor, “but still I cannot believe. Now, if the young lady will give the color of the velvet lining of the case, I really must believe.”

“The color is dark blue,” was her prompt reply.

“True, true!” said the puzzled doctor, and he went away, saying, “It is very curious, very, but still I cannot believe.”

Now, if the doctor had not known that the case was in his pocket, or no one present had known beforehand, no clairvoyant could have described it. What does this prove? That her mind was led by his inquiry to his mind, thence to the article on his mind at the moment. “This is a book” I say. The fact of my saying it, or thinking it, leads my mind to the book.

As a person may look towards an object, as out of the[Pg 485] window towards a tree, and not see it till his mind is directed to it, so, on the other hand, he may have his mind (thoughts) directed to a thing that his eyes cannot see, and in a person whose superior brain is susceptible, it maybe reflected so vividly as to permit a description of the object.

One may walk over a stream, upon stones, or ground, and not realize the fact till the mind is directed to it; and the thing may be reversed, and a susceptible person may be led to think that he or she is walking over or through water when none is present. The mind must be directed to an object in order to see it mentally.

A gentleman recently told me that a “medium brought up his old grandmother.”

“How did she describe the old lady as appearing?” I asked.

“In woollen dress and poke bonnet, with specs on, just as she used to appear when I was a boy, forty years ago.”

“I should have thought the fashions would have changed in the unseen world, even if the clothes had not worn out in forty years’ service,” I suggested.

This slightly staggered him, but he replied, “Perhaps fashions do not change in the spirit-world.”

“Then ladies can never be happy there. Besides, what a jolly, comical set they must be down there; the newer fashions appearing hourly in beautiful contrast with the ancient styles; especially the janty, little, precious morsels called hats of to-day, all covered with magnificent ribbons, and flowers, and laces, in contrast with the great ark-like, sombre poke bonnets of forty and a hundred years ago!”

“Sir,” I said, when he did not reply to this last poser,—“Sir, bring your stock of common sense to bear upon the matter, and see that the mind of the medium controlled yours, and led you to believe you saw, as the medium did, through your thoughts, your ancient grandmother; for how else would you imagine her, but as you remembered her, in woollen gown, poke bonnet, and spectacles.”

 [Pg 486]

Visits to a Clairvoyant.

Twenty-five years ago, I visited Madam Young, in Ellsworth, Me.

“You are going a journey,” she soon said, after I was seated, and she had examined my “bumps” to learn that I was a rolling stone. “You are going south-west from here.” “Marvellous!” one might say, who had little reflective qualities of brain, for that was the very thing I was about to do. But from Ellsworth, Maine, which way else could one go, without going “south-west,” unless he really went to the “jumping-off place, away down east?”

Again I visited her in Charleston, S. C.

“You are going a journey soon,” she informed me.

“Which way?” I amusingly inquired.

“Towards the north,” was the necessary reply.

Charleston is at the extremity of a neck of land. I was not expected to jump off into the bay, by going southward, and her answer was the only rational one. She would minutely describe any person, “good, bad, or indifferent,” whom I would fix my mind upon. I was suffering at the time with bronchitis, which she correctly stated. She was the best clairvoyant I have ever tested. She died at Hartford, in 1862.

The following item of the press does not refer to Madam Young:—

A clairvoyant doctor of Hartford proclaims his superiority over other seers on the ground that he “foretells the past and present as well as the future.” We should say he would probably “foretell” them much better. As the Irishman said, one gets on better when one goes backward or stands still.

I noticed his advertisement in a Providence paper, recently, where “Dr. —— foretold the past, present, and future.”

 [Pg 487]

A Night in the Penobscot Mountains.

At Castine I heard of an old lady residing high up in the Penobscot mountains, who could magnetize a sore or a painful limb at sight. Such marvellous stories were told of her “charming,” that I decided to go over the mountain and see her. She was not a “professional,” however, and objected to being made too public. Therefore I made an excuse for calling at the house “on my way afoot across the country,” and was cordially received by the family, of whom there were four generations residing under one roof. The house was a story and half brown cottage, large on the ground, and surrounded by numerous out-houses and barns. The view from the western slope of the mountain where she lived was most magnificent. I reached the farm before sunset. Here I lingered to overlook the beautiful Penobscot as it flowed at my feet, and the far-off islands of the sea. Here one could “gaze and never tire,” out over the grand old forests, down to the sea-side, and upon countless little white specks, the whitened sails of the fishermen and coasting vessels, with an occasional ship or steamboat flitting up and down the noble Penobscot river and bay. Still above me the eagle built her nest in the rocking pines, on the mountain top, and still far below sung the nightingale and wheeled the hungry osprey in his belated piscatorial occupations.

The sun sank behind the western hills, tinging the soft, fleecy clouds with its golden glory. Slowly changing from purple and gold to faint yellow, to dark blue, the clouds gradually assumed the night hue, and sombre shadows crept adown the western mountains’ sides, flinging their dark mantle over the waters, from shore to shore. The sturdy farmer has shouldered his scythe, and reluctantly he leaves the half-mown lot to seek his evening repast at the family table. Then he discovers me, leaning over the gate-bar, rapt in dreamy forgetfulness, and with a hearty salutation extends[Pg 488] to me the hospitality, so proverbially cordial, of the old New England farmer. He shows me his pigs in the pen, and his “stock” in the barn-yard, and reaching the house, he calls “mother,” who, appearing in calico and homespun, though with a cheerful and smiling face, is introduced to me as his wife. “A stranger, belated, and I guess pretty tired-like, climbing up here; and I won’t take no excuses from him; so he stays with us to-night.”




I talk with the lady, I play with the babies, I even toy with Towser and Tabby, till tea is set. Now I am introduced to the old lady. I thought I would get to it at last. She was seventy odd years of age, a deaf, but devout old lady, who was easily wheedled into divulging to me her secret of “charming.” She told me she had the “rheumatiz,” and by my tender sympathies and a roll of plaster for her lame back,[Pg 489] I got into her own room before bed-time. O, but I came out soon after! She was very deaf.

“You see,” said she, “a woman can’t learn it to another woman—only to a male. He must be a good man.” I nodded assent. “Yes; well, you must have faith.” Again I nodded—she was very deaf. “You must touch the painful part and say—” Here she bent down her lips to my ear and whispered something in seven words which she said I must never tell, and she compelled me to promise never to divulge the secret while I lived, under pain of God’s great displeasure.

Perhaps I had better keep my promise, though the good old lady has long since “gone to her reward.”


Cui Bono?

The question is repeated every time there is a great robbery or a murder committed,—

“Why do not the clairvoyants tell who has committed this crime?”

Simply because those who consult them do not know. If a person knew where the stolen property was secreted, and he consulted a true clairvoyant, he or she might describe the property and the place where it is secreted. Not otherwise. The same with the murderer. Therefore, of what good is it?

In order to do justice to this subject, to present and explain it in all its various phases, we would require a volume, instead of the space allotted in this chapter. But whatever name one may apply to it,—animal magnetism, Mesmerism, clairvoyance, spiritual or trance mediumship,—its success depends mostly upon the credulity of the person.

During the five days preceding May 15, 1869, a reporter of the Boston Post visited seventeen of these clairvoyants, mediums, etc., and some curious facts and startling contradictions were revealed therein.

“Putting it together,” he says, “and carefully epitomizing[Pg 490] the amount of fortune that we have in this way been able to purchase, we present our readers with the following balance sheet:” and this, he says, is from the “most experienced and trustworthy fortune-tellers in the good city of Boston, where everything like humbug is most scrupulously avoided.

“Four times we have been told that we were engaged in no business at all, and as many more that our affairs and prospects were never more flourishing. Repeatedly we have been told that we should speedily change our business and abode. On the other hand, we were destined to be a fixture in Boston, and were so well satisfied with our present calling that we should never change. We are not married, but a great many pretty maidens stood ready to help us out of that difficulty.” Again, “we were married, and the father of several roguish boys and bright-eyed girls. Thus far in life we had enjoyed good health, were free from all infirmities, and stood a good chance to reach fourscore and ten.”

“In less than twenty-four hours this sweet hope was buried, and we were advised that death would overtake us suddenly and soon.”

There are various grades of clairvoyants, as of everything else. Here is one class.

“After ascending a rickety, dirty, greasy stairway, you find the madam quartered in a small, square bedroom, poorly and miserably furnished. The room is dirty, dark, and dingy. Portions of the walls are covered with a cheap and quaint paper, patched, here and there, with some of another figure and quality. Pictures of a cheap class are hanging on two sides of the room,—of Columbus, Webster, and three or four love and courtship scenes in France and Germany. The furniture consists of a cheap bed, a dilapidated parlor cooking-stove, a small pine table, three common chairs, and a rocking-chair, cane-bottomed, a big box, covered with a remnant of the national flag, and a few cheap mantel ornaments.

[Pg 491]“The madam is a woman under thirty, very stoutly built, weighs one hundred and sixty pounds, has quite fair complexion, with pretty blue eyes, light hair, and withal not bad-looking. She was attired in a loose and rather soiled calico dress, wore no ornaments, and looked rather uninviting.”


A Bon Ton Clairvoyant.

The writer visited a special seance at one of the most aristocratic and recherché abodes of the marvellous in this city, not long since. I was ushered into the brilliantly lighted hall by a janty-looking little biddy in white and embroidered apron. That was all I saw of her, as she disappeared and was substituted by the lady of the house, the medium. She was a pretty, pleasant little lady, with brilliant, dancing, light eyes, hair golden brown, and was dressed in a black silk dress, with blue overskirt, a rich lace collar, and flowing sleeves of the same material.

Depositing hat, coat, and cane on the hall rack, I was introduced to the assembled guests in the great parlors. These rooms were united by a wide, open archway, were high, and brilliantly lighted by rich chandeliers in each room. An elegant piano occupied the west side of the front parlor, upon which was a pile of the latest music. The furniture was of black walnut, and richly upholstered in green and gold rep. The mantel was adorned with vases of porcelain, images of marble and terra-cotta, and little knickknacks of foreign production. The walls were hung with a few of Prang’s chromos, oil paintings, and two “spirit” photographs. The most beautiful, as well as the most remarkable, feature of the rooms was the magnificent bouquets of native hot-house flowers, which covered the two marble-topped centre-tables and sideboard. These were presents to the spirits! They did not take them away; the only one I saw removed was knocked over by a careless[Pg 492] elbow. I regret to add, that there was no “manifestation,” nor anything revealed, worth recording.


A Bouncer.

A scene that occurred at another place where I previously visited may be considered worthy of notice. I clambered two flights of stairs, and found myself face to face with a very large woman, answering to the alias of Madam ——. She was very fleshy, weighing probably two hundred and thirty-five pounds avoirdupois. Her face was pleasant, and conversation easy. I handing over the required “picture paper,” she tumbled into a great easy-chair, and, without any pretence to a trance, began,—




“I perceive that you are in love.” This was startling news to a bachelor. “There are two pretty females, one dark-complexioned, the other light.” (This is the usual “dodge,” for, if there is a woman in the question, one of the[Pg 493] two is bound to answer this general description.) “Which shall we follow?” she very teasingly inquired.

“Either that comes handiest,” was my indifferent reply.

“Well, the dark one, then. She is tall, fair, and is looking anxiously for you to propose. Do you know a lady of this description whom you like?” I regretted that I did not. My “notion” ran to small ladies, of the opposite complexion. “Well,” she said, not the least flurried, “here is one of that kind.” I instantly placed my mind on one of this class,—my sister,—and she ran on. “She is soon to meet you. She is very rich.” (Nellie will be glad to learn this.) “And I perceive a short-like man looking after her fortune. But have no concern; she loves you fondly, and you will marry her very soon. You are going a voyage, or across some water.” (How far can one travel, in this country, without crossing water?) “You will meet an enemy, who will try to injure you in business.”

“What business?” I inquired.

“You are a—yes—mechanic, though your hand is soft. I reckon you’ve been sick. Yes—machinist; make coffee-mills. Yes” (looking sharply into my face). (I was leading her!) “Corn poppers are in your line.” (I nodded, and smiled, for how could I refrain from smiling?) “You trade in tin and earthen ware—chamber ware—spoons—and old boots.” (True.) “You own a splendid house in the city—a large block”-(head).

“Where was I born? Can you see?”

“Yes; you were reared in the country; where there were deep, dark woods—all woods; in a log house, with thatched roof, and clay and stick chimney. A pig—am I right?—yes, a pig and a dog are kept in the same house. The windows are wooden, and—”

“Where was it?” I suggested.

“I should say in Ireland,” she replied.

“Enough, I believe. Now about the other lady,” I said.

[Pg 494]“The dark one? Yes. She loves you, but is poor. Since you are rich, and a—” Here I tried to impress her that I was married. “You are married, but your wife will not survive you. No, she will soon go to heaven, and you will marry the dark-complexioned lady.”

“Good,” I exclaimed.

“Yes; and will have five boys and three girls.”


“Why, the lady, of course.”


“Yes, and they will be happy and healthy.”

Here she informed me I had got my money’s worth.

I think I had.




[Pg 495]



“They’ll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.”

“Democritus, dear droll, revisit earth,
And with our follies glut thy heightened mirth.”—Prior.



We love to see an eccentric individual—something out of the common routine of every-day, humdrum life. But what is often taken for an eccentricity is sometimes put on for an advertisement.

Nearly all great men have their oddities or peculiarities. I might give many little interesting sketches of some physicians’ oddities right among us, but for too great personality. I may, however, work in a few.

The eccentricities of some doctors lie in their dress. Of this, I shall speak under the head of “Dress and Address.” Others lie in personal acts, in their walk, manners, and conversation.

I know of one physician who delights in the worst looking old horse he can obtain. The doctor himself has but one eye. His old donkey-like beast corresponded. Report said that he cut out the left eye of the horse to gain that desired end,[Pg 496] which, however, is discredited. The beast was also lame, which defect the doctor would never admit.

“What you ignorantly term ‘limping’ is only an expression of good breeding—which I cannot attach to all whom I meet on the road. It’s bowing,—merely bowing. You never see him do it unless somebody is in sight. Gid-dap!” And so delivering himself, the old doctor would drive on, chuckling softly to himself. When his old horse died, he was presented with a fine young beast, which he declined to accept, but scoured the country till he found a high-boned, rib-bared, foundered, and half-blind old roadster.


A new Dish.

Dr. James Wood was an oddity. He was a bachelor, between thirty and forty, large and attractive. He was remarkably neat in dress and person, but delighted in “an old rip of a horse.”

Once he was on a tour through New Brunswick, and, in company with a friend, drove up to a tavern at evening, and called for the landlord.

“He ain’t t’ home, but I’m the horse-slayer,” replied a voice, followed by the person of a tall, lean Yankee, who issued from the smoke of the bar-room, and approached our friends, still sitting in the open buggy.

“Here, put up my horse; take good care of him, and feed him well.”

“Hoss?” said the impudent fellow. “O, yes, I see him now; he’s inside that ere frame, I s’pose. Climb down, gentlemen, and go inter the house. Landlord and the Santipede (Xantippe?) has gone to St. Johns; but I guess Dolly in the kitchin, and me in the bar-room, can eat and drink yer, though you’re two putty big fellows, well’s myself.” So saying, the gentlemen having alighted, he drove the animal to the stable.

 [Pg 497]


[Pg 498] 

[Pg 499]At supper, the doctor and his friend and two ladies were the only guests. Just what part the “horse-slayer” had had in its preparation was not obvious, since he had, after caring for the horse, only sat with a pipe in his mouth and his heels elevated on the bar-room stove, or following to the sitting-room, and continually plied the doctor with questions. However, the supper was ample, thanks to “Dolly.”

“Is there anything more wanted?” inquired the table girl,—a round-faced, round-headed country specimen in neat calico.

“Yes,” replied the doctor, “we would like some napkins, seeing there are none on the table.”

Away hastened the girl, who, quickly returning, asked in very primitive simplicity,—

“How will you have them cooked?”

“O, boiled, if you please,” replied the doctor, without changing a muscle about his sober-looking face.

The girl disappeared at full trot, followed by jeers of laughter from the gentlemen present, and suppressed titters from the ladies.

In a few moments “Dolly” made her appearance, and after searching in vain through the side-table drawer and a cupboard in the dining-room, she said they had none in the house, and intimated that the table girl could not be induced to return, after being laughed at for her ignorance of what a napkin was, and that “herself would wait upon the guests.”

When the doctor returned, the “horse-slayer” called out that the napkin doctor was coming, upon which the terrified table-girl ran away and hid.

My informant says, “You’re only to say, any time, ‘Here comes that napkin doctor,’ and the table girl nearly goes wild, dropping everything, and hiding away in her chamber till assured it is only a false alarm.”

The writer is well acquainted with W., who assured him this was true.

 [Pg 500]

Beauty and the Beast.

I heard, while in the South, of a doctor, a little, short man, who rode a Canadian horse, a scraggy little specimen, and who, in yellow fever time, used to ride right straight into a drug store, and order his prescription, catch it up, wheel his pony round on his hind legs, stick in the spurs into the flanks of the animal, and go out in a clean gallop.




Though the writer never saw this remarkable feat, there is one more ludicrous, to which he was an eye-witness.

One fine day, while in Charleston, sitting musing in the window of the Victoria Hotel, I saw an African, with bare feet and legs, his whole attire consisting of a coarse shirt and brief trousers, drive a mule attached to a dray, on which was a box, up towards a milliner’s store, opposite. The negro jumped from the dray, and, with whip in hand, ran into the store to ascertain if that was the place to leave the box.

 [Pg 501]


[Pg 502] 

[Pg 503]The faithful donkey followed his master directly into the store, nor stopped till the wheels of the cart brought up against the door-jambs. The ladies, with whom the front store was crowded, screamed with terror, and fled towards the back room, where the pretty milliner girls were sewing. They caught the panic and sight of the donkey’s head and ears in the front shop, and screeched in chorus. A more lively and lovely stampede I never witnessed. It was “Beauty and the Beast,” and the beast stood pulling his best to get the cart through; but since a six-foot cart never could go through a four foot doorway, he backed out with the negro’s assistance, and Beauty was rescued from the perilous situation.

“Golly!” exclaimed the Buckee, when himself, mule and cart were back into the street. “I fought de ladies were scared ob dis chile, first sight; but I never knowed de ladies to be scared ob a hansum darky like me; and when I looked round an’ see dat ar’ mules coming into der mill’ner’s store—O, yah, yah, yah! I shall die—O, yah, yah, yah!—de Lor’—to only fink ob it, a mule in a mill’ner’s shop—he wants muslin—O, yah, yah! I shall die, sure.” Then, after a few more outbursts, he stopped short—for the milliner was looking after the box—he rolled up his eyes very solemnly, and said to the donkey,—

“Yer ought to be ’shamed ob yerself to go into dat yer store—dar, take dat!” levelling a blow at the donkey’s head with the whip. Then taking the box into the store, he returned, gave the donkey another solemn lecture on his impropriety, and mounted the dray and drove away.


The consulting Poodles.

A gentleman well known to the writer assured me that he once had occasion to repeatedly consult a physician in Philadelphia, a most excellent practitioner, who owned two pet poodle dogs. They were pure white, and occupied a portion[Pg 504] of his office. When I first entered the doctor’s presence, I was quite astonished to see, sitting on a corner of his desk, at his left, a beautiful poodle. I thought, at first sight, it was a stuffed specimen; but after inquiring the nature of my visit, the doctor said, “You can retire, sir.”

“What!” said I, in surprise at this summary dismissal, when I was startled to see the manikin jump from the desk and run away to a crib beside a book-case.




“I was speaking to Dr. Scipio,” the doctor quietly remarked. Then adding, “Dr. Hunter, you can come instead,” when another like poodle came and leaped upon the desk, and sat looking very wisely at his master.

[Pg 505]While examining my case, he occasionally cast a glance at “Dr. Hunter,” sitting as quiet as a marble dog might, but seeming to understand the look which his master gave him, acknowledging it by a pricking up of the ears.

I received my prescription, and what proved to be most excellent advice, and retired. The next time I visited the eccentric doctor, both Drs. Scipio and Hunter were in full consultation, sitting side by side on the desk.

“Now, sirs,” said the doctor, after motioning me to a seat near him, “sirs Scipio and Hunter, keep very still, and give attention.”

A yawning noise and expression was their simultaneous reply.

“What is the object of the two canine specimens being always present when I have consulted you?” I ventured to inquire, on my last visit to the doctor.

“Some physicians consult two-legged pups, in complicated cases. I prefer quadrupeds. Have we not been very successful—myself, Drs. Hunter and Scipio—in your case, sir?”

This he said with a pleasant, half-serious countenance.

“Indeed, you have, sir,” I replied, to which the dogs gave a gap! (a smile?)

“You’ll find every successful man with some seeming useless habit or appendage, which, nevertheless, is essential to his success, in absorbing or distracting the superfluities of his nature. A sing-song, every-day man, whom you can see right through, and understand all his moves, seldom amounts to anything. I ape nobody, however, but I feel almost lost, in my examinations, without my dogs.”

Well, there may be much to this, after all. A good singer will seldom go forward to master a difficult piece of music without something in his hand. Eccentricities in some persons take the place of a vile, injurious habit, as the eccentric man is usually free from debasing habits.

[Pg 506]I am particularly reminded of Suwaroff, the great Russian general, who was so remarkable for his energy, valor, and headlong fighting propensities. This wonderful man was very small in stature, being only five feet and a half inch in height, miserably thin in flesh, with an aquiline nose, a wide mouth, wrinkled brow, and bald head—an eagle look and character. “His contempt of dress could only be equalled by his disregard of every form of politeness, and some idea may be formed of both from the fact that he was washed mornings by several buckets of water thrown over him, and that he drilled his men in his shirt sleeves, with his stockings hanging down about his heels, and proudly dispensing with the use of a pocket handkerchief.”




His favorite signal of attack was a shrill “cock-a-doodle-doo!” “To-morrow”—this was his harangue to his men before a great battle—“to-morrow morning I mean to be up one hour before daybreak. I shall wash and dress myself, then say my prayers, give one good cock-crow, and [Pg 507]capture Ismail!” Which he did to the letter. After Catharine’s death, Paul, her son and successor, could not brook the eccentric habits of “Old Forward and Strike,” whose personal appearance was ill suited to court, and when compelled to “change or retire,” Suwaroff chose the latter. Again in 1799 he was given a command, but would not change his principles, and was dismissed; and died in 1800, neglected by the imperial Paul, who was assassinated the same year.


Silent Eloquence.

There is a physician doing an office practice in Boston, who, when you enter his office, by one gesture and movement of his head, with the accompanying expression of his countenance, says to you, as plainly as words, “Take a seat; how do you do? State your case.” He is a man of few words, professionally. Through with his business, he becomes one of the most sociable men with whom one need wish to meet.

John Abernethy was remarkable for his eccentricity, and brevity in his dealings with patients. Sometimes he met his match. The following has been told about him often enough to be true. On one occasion a lady, who doubtless had heard of his brusque characteristic, entered his consulting-room, at Bedford Row, and silently presented a sore finger. As silently the doctor examined and dressed the wound. In the same manner the lady deposited the accustomed fee upon the table, and withdrew.

Again she presented the finger for inspection.

“Better?” grunted the great surgeon.

“Better,” quietly answered the lady, deposited the fee, and left, without saying another word. Several visits were thus made, when, on presenting it for the last time, Abernethy said,—


[Pg 508]“Well,” was the lady’s only answer, and deposited her last fee.

“Well, madam, upon my soul, you are the most sensible lady with whom I ever met,” he exclaimed, and very politely bowed her out.


Consistent to the End.

The most eccentric physician who ever lived, and the only one I have read of who carried his odd notions beyond this life, was Messenger Monsey, of whom I have before written in this book. He died at the age of ninety-five. He wrote his own will,—having eighty thousand dollars to dispose of,—and his epitaph. The will was remarkable, and is still preserved. “To a beautiful young lady, named ——,” he gave an old battered snuff-box, not containing a shilling, lavishing upon her, at the same time, the most extravagant encomiums on her wit, taste, and elegance; and to another, whom he says he intends to enrich with a handsome legacy, he leaves the gratifying assurance that he changed his mind on finding her “a pert, conceited minx.” After railing at bishops, deans, and clergymen, he left an annuity to two of the latter, who did not preach.

“My body shall not be insulted with any funeral ceremonies, but after being dissected in the theatre of Guy’s Hospital, by the surgeons, for the benefit of themselves and students, the remainder of my carcass may be put into a hole, or crammed into a box with holes, and thrown into the Thames.”

The main part of his property went to his only daughter.

 [Pg 509]




[Pg 510] 

[Pg 511]This is a true copy of his epitaph:—

“Here lie my old bones; my vexation now ends;
I have lived much too long for myself and my friends.
As to churches and churchyards, which men may call holy,
’Tis a rank piece of priestcraft, and founded on folly.
What the next world may be never troubled my pate;
And, be what it may, I beseech you, O Fate,
When the bodies of millions rise up in a riot,
To let the old carcase of Monsey lie quiet.”

The above reminds me of another epitaph in Greenwood:

“Underneath this turf do lie,
Back to back, my wife and I.
Generous stranger, spare the tear,
For could she speak, I cannot hear.
Happier far than when in life,
Free from noise and free from strife,
When the last trump the air shall fill,
If she gets up, I’ll just lie still!”


When Doctors disagree.

The eccentricities of some doctors lie in their abuse of their brothers; especially those of a different school, of which they necessarily know little or nothing.

There is a Hindoo story illustrative of the folly of this ex parte decision.

Four blind men went to examine an elephant, to ascertain what it was like. One felt of its foot, the second its trunk, the third its ear, and the last felt of its tail. Then they held a consultation, and began to talk it up.

“The elephant is very much like a mortar,” said the one who had felt of the foot.

“It is like a pestle,” said the one who had felt of its trunk.

“No; you are both wrong. It’s like a fan,” said he who had felt of the ears.

“You are all mistaken; it is like a broom,” vehemently exclaimed the man who had felt of the tail. The dispute grew warm. Each was sure he was right, because he had personally examined for himself. Then they waxed angry, and a lasting quarrel grew out of it; so, in the end, they were all as ignorant of the truth as when they began the investigation.

[Pg 512]The diversity of medical opinion on diet is equally as great as on prescription, and often partakes largely of the notion or eccentricity of the individual physician, rather than the requirements of the patient.

One is an advocate of animal diet; another is a strict Grahamite, or vegetarian, and a third is an animo-vegetarian, which, according to the two kinds of teeth given to man,—the tearing, or canine, and the grinding teeth,—seems to be the most rational decision. Then there is the slop-doctor. I know of one in Connecticut. He weighs about two hundred and fifty pounds. He breakfasts on the richest steak, dines on roast beef, and sups on a fowl. Every patient he has is a victim to “typhoid fever: the result is inflammation of the glands of the stomach, and induced by too hearty food;” hence the patient is starved a month on slop or gruel.

This doctor was formerly a Methodist preacher, and—

“Exhausting all persuasive means to light
Our fallen race to Virtue’s glorious height,
To Medicine gives his comprehensive mind,
And fills his pockets while he cures mankind.
He scorns M. D.’s, at all hard study sneers,
And soon the science of its mystery clears.
His knowledge springs intuitive and plain,
As Pallas issued from the Thunderer’s brain.
He takes a patent for some potent pill
Whose cure is certain—for it cures to kill.
Such mighty powers in its materials lurk,
It grows, like Gibbon’s Rome, a standard work!
Pill-militant, he storms the forts of pain,
Where grim Disease has long entrenchéd lain,
Routs fevers, agues, colics, colds, and gouts,
Nor ends the war till life itself he routs.
If of his skill you wish some pregnant hints,
Peruse the gravestones, not the public prints!
To aid his work, and fame immortal win,
Brings steam from physics into medicine;
From speeding packets o’er th’ Atlantic waste,
O’er Styx’s stream old Charon’s boat to haste,
Proving that steam for double use is fit—
To whirl men through the world, and out of it!”

[Pg 513]The difference in the item of sleep is amusing. I know a poor, worn-out doctor who finds all health in early rising. Let us refer him to the following, by John G. Saxe:—

“God bless the man who first invented sleep!”
So Sancho Panza said, and so say I:
And bless him also that he didn’t keep
His great discovery to himself, nor try
To make it—as the lucky fellow might—
A close monopoly by patent right.

Yes, bless the man who first invented sleep
(I really can’t avoid the iteration);
But blast the man, with curses loud and deep,
Whate’er the rascal’s name, or age, or station,
Who first invented, and went round advising,
That artificial cut-off—early rising.

“Rise with the lark, and with the lark to bed,”
Observes some solemn, sentimental owl:
Maxims like these are very cheaply said;
But ere you make yourself a fool or fowl,
Pray, just inquire about his rise and fall,
And whether larks have any beds at all.

The time for honest folks to be abed
Is in the morning, if I reason right;
And he who cannot keep his precious head
Upon his pillow till it’s fairly light,
And so enjoy his forty morning winks,
Is up to knavery; or else—he drinks.

Thomson, who sung about the “Seasons,” said
It was a glorious thing to rise in season;
But then he said it—lying—in his bed,
At ten o’clock A. M.,—the very reason
He wrote so charmingly. The simple fact is,
His preaching wasn’t sanctioned by his practice.

’Tis doubtless well to be sometimes awake,—
Awake to duty and awake to truth,—
But when, alas! a nice review we take
Of our best deeds and days, we find, in sooth,
[Pg 514]The hours that leave the slightest cause to weep
Are those we passed in childhood, or asleep!

’Tis beautiful to leave the world a while
For the soft visions of the gentle night;
And free at last from mortal care or guile,
To live as only in the angels’ sight,
In sleep’s sweet realm so cosily shut in,
Where, at the worst, we only dream of sin.

So let us sleep, and give the Maker praise.
I like the lad who, when his father thought
To clip his morning nap by hackneyed phrase
Of vagrant worm by early songster caught,
Cried, “Served him right!—it’s not at all surprising;
The worm was punished, sir, for early rising.”


Mother Goose.

“Gabriel Betteredge,” in “Moonstone,” was doubtless a true character from life, picked up by the author, Wilkie Collins, somewhere in his travels. I think the best authors seldom have made up so good a character “out of whole cloth,” but have gone to the highways and byways for them. Betteredge’s forte lay in Robinson Crusoe. That book was his guidance and solace in all his trials and perplexities. But what would you think of a doctor, a respectable graduate of a medical college, who sought, if not advice, recreation and solace in Mother Goose?

This M. D. resided a few years ago in A., New York State. He owned a large library, enjoyed the confidence of a large list of friends and patrons, and was a man of education and refinement. His eccentricity lay in his love of Mother Goose’s Melodies. He kept a copy of these nursery rhymes at his very elbow, and often turned from a perplexing case, and sought solace in the jingling rhymes of old Mother Goose!

Well, that was certainly better than relieving his brain by the use of narcotic stimulants, as opium, tobacco, or ardent[Pg 515] spirits, which use can only be followed at the expense of nerve, tissue, and membrane.

I have here before me an account of another physician, whose solace and relief from business cares were in his cats, of which he had several, all of which answered to their names. His attachment to these creatures was only equalled by theirs for him. Sometimes one or two perched on his shoulders and sang to him while he rested in his easy-chair. He seemed to drink in Lethean comforts, as thus he would remain for a half hour or more at a time, or till business broke the spell. When a patient came, or a servant announced a call, he would arise and say, “Pets, vamose!” and the cats would all scamper away to their nests, and the doctor, seemingly refreshed in body and mind, would return to the reality of life and its labors.

One’s solace is in his children, another’s in his wife, a third in his flower-garden; and others’ in opium, rum, or tobacco.


The Tables turned.

Sometimes the doctor’s oddity seemed to be in his silence, again in asking “outlandish” questions. Often they get a good return; for instance,—

Dr. G., of Sycamore, Ill., riding in the country one day, saw a sign upon a gate-post, reading thus: “This farm for sail.” Stopping his horse, he hailed a little old woman, who stood on tiptoe, hanging out clothes.

“I say, madam, when is this farm going to sail?”

“Just as soon, sir,” replied the old lady, placing her thumb to her nose, “as anybody comes along who can raise the wind.”

The doctor drove thoughtfully on.


The Difference.

“A priest who was jogging along on an ass was overtaken by a loquacious doctor, and, after some preliminary[Pg 516] conversation as to the destination, etc., the doctor proposed that they each should ask a question, and the one who proposed the best should receive hospitality at the other’s expense at the next town. The priest agreed, for he was a fat, jolly little fellow, who could enjoy a laugh and “some bottles,” even at a doctor’s expense. So the doctor proposed the following:—

“What is the difference between a priest and a jackass?”

“That’s old,” replied the priest. “One wears his cross on his breast, the other on his back.—Now for my turn. What is the difference between the doctor and the ass?”

“I cannot tell,” replied the doctor; “what is the difference?”

“I see none,” quietly replied the priest.


Not by Bread alone.

A physician in P., who had the reputation of being a high liver, was quite publicly reprimanded for his gluttony by an advent preacher of some note, not a thousand miles from Boston. The doctor bore his abuse without flinching, though he believed the man a hypocrite. A long time afterwards, he met the Adventist in his town, and, after some conversation, invited him to dine at his own house. The hungry Grahamite accepted, and at an early moment found himself at the doctor’s board.

“Will you ask a blessing?” said the doctor; which request being complied with, he uncovered one of the only two dishes on the table, which contained nothing but bread. The preacher saw the point, and said, with a disappointed grin, “You shall not live by bread alone.”

“Yes; I know that much Scripture,” replied the doctor; “so I have provided some butter,” uncovering the other dish!



[Pg 517]



“He finds out what stuff they’re made of.”—Shakspeare.

“By setting brother against brother,
To claw and curry one another.”—Butler.



Mythology informs us that Heraclitus, the melancholy philosopher of Ephesus, fixed his residence in a manure heap, by the advice of his physicians, in hopes of thereby being cured of the dropsy. The remedy proved worse than the disease, and the philosopher died. From that time till the present, medical prescriptions have rather partaken of the extravagant and the ridiculous, than of the rational and beneficial.

In biblical times the real remedies consisted of a few simples, and were almost totally confined to external uses. Fig paste was a favorite remedy for swellings, boils, and ulcers, and an ointment made of olives and some spices was used for wounds, etc. Mrs. Eve, it is said, took to fig leaves. The myrrh and hyssop were used chiefly among the[Pg 518] Jews for purification. The former was obtained from Egypt and Arabia East. The original name was, in Arabic, marra, meaning bitter.

The history of medicine is referable to about 1184 before Christ, from which time to Hippocrates, 460 B. C., it could not lay claim to the name of science. It was confined almost entirely to the priestcraft, and partook largely of the fabulous notions of that superstitious age, and was connected with their gods and heroes. Then, necessarily with such a belief, the remedies lay in ceremonies and incantations, as before mentioned in chapter first, and the priests had it all their own way.

Chiron, according to Grecian bibliographers, was about the first who practised medicine to any extent, and who, with Apollo, claimed to have received his knowledge direct from Jupiter. Æsculapius was a son of Apollo. Æsculapius had two sons, who became celebrated physicians, and one daughter, Hygeia, the goddess of health. For a long time the practice of medicine was confined to the descendants of Æsculapius, who was worshipped in the temples of Epidaurus, the ruins of one of which is said to still be seen.

Hippocrates claimed to be a descendant of Æsculapius (460 B. C.). The remedies used by his predecessors were a few vegetable medicines, accelerated by a good many mystical rites. It would seem that medicinal springs were patronized at this early date, as temples of health were established near such wells, in Greece. Theophrastus, of Lesbos, was a fuller’s son, and wrote a book on plants. He was a pupil to Plato and Aristotle.

Podalirius was going to cure every disease by bleeding, Herodicus by gymnastics, and Archagathus by burning and gouging out the diseased parts. Then arose Chrysippus, who reversed the blood-letting theory, and would allay the venous excitement by simple medications (not having discovered the difference between veins and arteries, and when[Pg 519] they did, it was supposed the latter contained only air; hence the name); Asclepiades, who “kicked Hippocrates’ nature out of doors,” and the thermo-therapeutists, who turned out the latter.

After the followers of Archagathus, or Archegenus, were driven out of Rome, the hot baths were established, which were the earliest mentioned. There was a very celebrated cold water bath established somewhat earlier, for which Mr. Noah, who owned the right, got up a very large tub, for the exclusive use of himself, family, and household pets. The bath—like nearly all cold water baths extensively used since—was a complete success, killing off all who ventured into the water.

During the reign of the Roman emperor Caracalla (211-217) thermal baths were extensively established at Rome, and Gibbon informs us that they were open for the reception of both senators and people; that they would accommodate three thousand persons at once. The enclosure exceeded a mile in circumference. At one end there was a magnificent temple, dedicated to the god Apollo, and at the reverse another, sacred to Æsculapius, the tutelary divinities of the Thermæ. The Grecians also established cold, warm, and hot baths; and in Turkey the bathing was a religious rite until a very recent period. More recently, it is a source of diversion. “Cleanliness is akin to godliness,” and recreation is a religious duty; therefore the warm bath, whether followed as a superstitious rite or as a source of amusement, is nevertheless commendable as a sanitary measure.

Dr. Dio Lewis, of Boston, has a grand warm (Turkish) bathing establishment. There are several hot, champooing, and cooling rooms for ladies or gentlemen, and a grand plunge bath, containing sixteen thousand gallons of water, warmed by a steam apparatus. If the Bostonians are dirty hereafter, they must not blame the doctor. No man knows how dirty he is till he tries one of these baths.

[Pg 520]“Crosby’s History of the English Baptists preserves the opinion of Sir John Floyer, physician, that immersion was of great sanitary value, and that its discontinuance, about the year 1600, had been attended with ill effects on the physical condition of the population. ‘Immersion would prevent many hereditary diseases if it were still practised,’ he said. An old man, eighty years of age, whose father lived at the time while immersion was the practice, said that parents would ask the priest to dip well into the water that part of the child which was diseased, to prevent its descending to posterity.

“Baxter vehemently and exaggeratedly denounced it as a breach of the sixth commandment. It produced catarrh, etc., and, in a word, was good for nothing but to despatch men out of the world.”

“If murder be sin, then dipping ordinarily in cold water over head is a sin.”

So much for Dr. Floyer vs. Baxter. Surely the latter ought to have been “dipped.”

A western paper of respectability is responsible for the statement, that an old lady followed up a bishop as he travelled through his diocese, in that vicinity, and was confirmed several times before detected.

“Why did you do such a remarkable deed?” asked the bishop. “Did you feel that your sins were so great as to require a frequent repetition of the ordinance?”

“O, no,” replied the old lady, complacently; “but I heerd say it was good for the rheumatiz.”

The bishop didn’t confirm her any more. She was really going to baptism as the voters go to the polls and vote in New York—“early and often.”


Old English Prescriptions.

The prescriptions and doses of the old English doctors were “stunning.”

[Pg 521]Billy Atkins, a gout doctor of Charles II.’s time, who resided in the Old Bailey, did an immense business in his specialty. His remarkable wig and dress will find a place in our chapter on “Dress.” He made a nostrum on the authority of Swift, compounded of thirty different promiscuous ingredients.

The apothecary to Queen Elizabeth brought in his quarter-bill, £83, 7s. 8d. Amongst the items were the following: “A confection made like a manus Christi, with bezoar stone, and unicorn’s horn, 11s. Sweet scent for christening of Sir Richard Knightly’s son, 2s. 6d. A conserve of barberries, damascene plums, and others, for Mr. Ralegh, 6s. Rose water for the King of Navarre’s ambassador, 12s. A royal sweetmeat, with rhubarb, 16d.”

A sweet preparation, and a favorite of Dr. Theodore Mayerne, was “balsam of bats.” A cure for hypochondria was composed of “adders, bats, angle-worms, sucking whelps, ox-bones, marrow, and hog’s grease.” Nice!

After perusing—without swallowing—his medical prescriptions, the reader would scarcely desire to follow the directions in his “Excellent and well-approved Receipts in Cooking.” I should rather, to run my risk, breakfast on boarding-house or hotel hash, than partake of food prepared from Dr. Mayerne’s “Cook Book.”

According to Dr. Sherley, Mayerne gave violent drugs, calomel in scruple doses, mixed sugar of lead with conserves, and fed gouty kings on pulverized human bones.

“A small, young mouse roasted,” is recommended by Dr. Bullyn, as a cure for restlessness and nervousness in children. For cold, cough, and tightness of the lungs, he says, “Snayles (snails) broken from the shells and sodden in whyte wyne, with olyv oyle and sugar, are very holsome.” Snails were long a favorite remedy, and given in consumption for no other reason than that “it was a slow disease.” A young puppy’s skin (warm and fresh) was applied to the chest of[Pg 522] a child with croup, because he barked! Fish-worms, sow-bugs, crab’s eyes, fish-oil, sheep-droppings, and such delicious stuff were, and still are, favorite remedies with some physicians and country people. The following was one of Dr. Boleyn’s royal remedies:—

Electuarium de Gemmis. Take two drachms of white perles; two little peeces of saphyre; jacinth, corneline, emerauldes, garnettes, of each an ounce; setwal, the sweate roote doronike, the rind of pomecitron, mace, basel seede, of each two drachms; of redde corall, amber, shaving of ivory, of each two drachms; rootes both of white and red behen, ginger, long peper, spicknard, folium indicum, saffron, cardamon, of each one drachm; of troch. diarodon, lignum aloes, of each half a small handful; cinnamon, galinga, zurubeth, which is a kind of setwal, of each one drachm and a half; thin pieces of gold and sylver, of each half a scruple; of musk, half a drachm. Make your electuary with honey emblici, which is the fourth kind of mirobalans with roses, strained in equall partes, as much as will suffice. This healeth cold, diseases of ye braine, harte, stomack. It is a medicine proved against the tremblynge of the harte, faynting, and sounin, the weakness of the stomacke, pensivenes, solitarines. Kings and noblemen have used this for their comfort. It causeth them to be bold-spirited, the body to smell wel, and ingendreth to the face good coloure.”

“Truly a medicine for kings and noblemen,” says Jeaffreson, who gives the following:—

“During the railroad panic of England (1846), an unfortunate physician prescribed the following for a nervous lady:—

℞.  Great Western, 350 shares.
   Eastern Counties, }
   North Middlesex, a. a. 1050.
M. Haust. 1. Om. noc. cap.

“This direction for a delicate lady to swallow nightly (noc.) 2450 railway shares was cited as proof of the doctor’s insanity, and the management of his private affairs was placed in other hands.”

 [Pg 523]


[Pg 524] 

[Pg 525]“A humersome doctor,” as Mrs. Partington would say, gives the following

Tinc. Peruvii barki bitters, 1 oz.
Sugari albi, vel sweetningus, considerabilibus.
Spiritus frumenti, vel old repeus, ad lib.
Waterus pumpus, non multum.
Nutmegus, sprinklibus.


A Sure Cure.

A physician of our acquaintance was called to a lady patient after she had enjoyed a season of unusual domestic quarrels, who was not over long in “turning herself wrong-side out”—as some females will insist upon doing, for the edification of the medical man—telling, not only all about her pains and aches, but her “trials with that man,” her husband—her brutal usage, her scanty wardrobe, her mortification on seeing Mrs. Outsprout appear in a new blue silk, and a “love of a bonnet,” and (after entertaining the doctor with wine and good things) finally wind up in hysterical sobs—for which he prescribed, as follows:—

℞. One new silk dress—first quality.
  One hat and feather.
  One diamond—solitaire—aq. prim.

Apply to patient. And 1 coach and span, to Central Park, P. M.

The husband enjoyed the joke; the wife enjoyed the clothes, the diamond pin, and the ride; and the doctor heard no more of their quarrels.

 [Pg 526]

Heroic Doses.

Just prior to the year 1800, two brothers, named Taylor, emerged from obscurity in Yorkshire, and set up for doctors. They were farriers, and from shoeing they advanced to doctoring and bleeding horses, thence to drugging and butchering those of their fellow-creatures who naturally preferred brute doctors to respectable physicians. Their system of practice was a wholesale one.




“Soft chirurgions make foul sores,” said Boleyn, the grandfather of the beautiful and unfortunate Anne Boleyn. The Taylors struck no soft blows, “but opened the warfare against disease by bombardment of shot and shell in all directions. They bled their patients by the gallon, and drugged them, as they did the cattle, by the stone. Their druggists, Ewbank & Wallis, of York, supplied them with a[Pg 527] ton of Glauber’s salts at a time. Scales and weights in their dispensary were regarded as bugbears of ignoble minds. Everything was mixed by the scoop or handful. If they ordered broth for a delicate patient, they directed the nurse to boil a large leg of mutton in a copper of water, down to a strong decoction, and administer a quart at stated intervals,” nolens volens?

The little Abbe de Voisenon, the celebrated wit and dramatic writer (1708-1775), was once sick at the chateau near Melum, and his physician ordered him to drink a quart of ptisan (a decoction of barley and other ingredients) every hour.

“What was the effect of the ptisan?” asked the doctor, on his next visit.

“None,” replied the Abbe.

“Have you swallowed it all?”

“No; I could not take but half of it at once.”

“No more than half! My order was the whole,” exclaimed the doctor.

“Ah! now, friend,” said the Abbe, “how could you expect me to swallow a quart at a time, when I hold only a pint?”


Drowning a Fever.

As the next anecdote has had to do service for more than one physician, it is immaterial which doctor it was. He was an irascible old fellow, at least, and not at all careful in leaving orders.

“Your husband is very sick, woman,” said the doctor to the wife of an Irish laborer. “His fever is high, and skin as dry as a fish, or a parish contribution box. You must give him plenty of cold water, all he will drink, and to-night I’ll see him again. There, don’t come snivelling around me. My heart is steeled against that sort of thing. But, as you want something to cry for, just hear me. Your husband[Pg 528] isn’t going to die! There, now, I know you are disappointed, but you brought it on to yourself.” Going away—“Mind, lots of water—”

“Wather, sir! Hoo much wather, docther dear? He shall have it, but, yer honor didn’t tell me hoo much wather I must give him.”

“Zounds, woman, haven’t I told you to give him all he will take? Hoo much? Give him a couple of buckets full, if he will swallow them. Do you hear now? Two buckets full.”

“The Lord bless yer honor,” cried the woman; and the doctor made his escape.

At evening the doctor stopped, on his return, to ask after the patient. “How is he, woman?” asked the doctor.

“O, he’s been tuck away, save yer honor,” cried the widow. “The wather did him no good, only we couldn’t get down the right quantity. We did our best, doctor dear, and got down him better nor a pailful and a half, when he slipped away from us. Ah, if we could oonly ha’ got him to swaller the other half pailful, he might not have died, yer honor.”


An exact Science.

It is sometimes painfully amusing to observe, not only the difference of opinion expressed by medical men from one generation to another, but by those of the same period, and same school.

In the “London Lancet” of July, 1864, there appeared a curious table. A medical practitioner, who had long suffered from hay fever, had from time to time consulted various other medical men by letter, and he gives us in a tabular survey the opinions they gave him of the causes of this disease, and the remedies, as follows:—

“Herewith,” writes Dr. Jones, “I forward a synopsis of the opinions of a few of the most eminent men, in various countries, that I have consulted. I have substituted a letter[Pg 529] for the name, as I do not think it prudent to place before the general reader the names of those who have so disagreed.”

Consulted. Opinion of Cause.  Recommended.
Dr. A. A predisposition to phthisis.  Quinine and sea voyage.
Dr. B. Disease of pneumogastric nerve.  Arsen., bell., and cinchona.
Dr. C. Disease of the caruncula.  Apply bell. and zinc.
Dr. D. Inflammation of Schneiderian membrane.  To paint with nitrate of silver.
Dr. E. Strumous diathesis.  Quinine, cod liver oil, and wine.
Dr. F. Dyspepsia.  Kreosote, henbane, quinine.
Dr. G. Vapor of chlorophyll.  Remain in a room from 11 A. M. to 6 P. M.
Dr. H. Light debility, hay pollen.  Do., port wine, snuff, salt, and opium, and
wear blue glasses.
Dr. L. From large doses of iodine.
(Never took any iodine.)
  Try quinine and opium.
Dr. M. Disease of iris.  Avoid the sun’s rays from 11 A. M. to 6 P. M.
Dr. N. Want of red corpuscles.  Try iron, port wine, and soups.
Dr. O. Disease of optic nerve.  Phosph. ac. and quinine.
Dr. P. Asthma from hay pollen.  Chlorodyne and quinine.
Dr. Q. Phrenitis.  Small doses of opium.
Dr. R. Nervous debility, from heat.  Turkish baths.

This needs no comment.

The different opinions on doses of medicine is more absurd. We have already mentioned cases wherein certain physicians administered calomel in scruple, and even drachm doses. Before us is a work wherein it is seriously asserted that a medicinal action was obtained from the two hundredth trituration,—a dose so small, in comparison with the scruple doses, as to be counted only by the millionths.

How many of us have had to wake up mornings, and swallow a table-spoonful of sulphur and molasses, with mingled feelings of disgust at the sulphur, and exquisite delight from the molasses, as we retired, lapping our mouths, to get the last taste! Now, L. B. Wells, M. D., of New York, informs us that he has cured an eruption of the skin by the use of the four thousandth dilution of sulphur,—so [Pg 530]comparatively small that I cannot express it by figures. Well, these extremes have their uses, and we may look for relief in the mediate ground. The smaller we can get the dose, and still be reliable, the better we shall suit the people,—though we shall seriously offend the apothecaries.

Dr. Francis, in his book, “Surgeons of New York,” tells the following, which illustrates how a desperate remedy may apply to a desperate disease. The cases in reference were “peritonitis.” Dr. Smith (our “plough-boy”) had charge of the lying-in wards, under Professor Clark.

“Dr. Smith, have you ever attended a common school?” asked Professor Clark.

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you ever hear a teacher say, ‘I will whip you within an inch of your life?’” pursued Dr. Clark.

“Yes, sir; I have.”

“Well, that is the way I wish you to give opium to these patients,—‘to within an inch of their lives.’”

Dr. Smith determined to follow implicitly his instructions, and gave to one as high as twelve grains of opium an hour.

“At this extreme point the remedy was maintained for several days.

“The patient recovered, and remained in the hospital, attached to kitchen service, for several months.”

Certainly, the poor Irish, even, have their uses in New York city.


Mineral Springs.

The writer, having spent much time at the various mineral springs throughout the United States, and partaken of the water of some for weeks in succession, is competent to give an opinion as to their merits. Collectively, they are commendable, especially those located in country places, away from scenes of dissipation and profligacy.

The only reliable way to expect benefit from spring waters[Pg 531] is to select one by the advice of your physician, and go direct to the spring.

Much of the bottled waters sold are “doctored,” either by the retailer, the wholesaler, or often at the springs from where they are exported. Who is to know whether Vichy, Kissengen, Saratoga, or even Vermont mineral water, as sold by the package, ever saw the respective springs from which they are named? The various mineral waters are easily made, by adding to carbonized water such peculiar minerals, or salts, as analysis has shown exists in the natural springs. I knew a man who affirmed that he ruined a suit of clothes, while employed at a certain spring, by the acids with which he “doctored” the water, before it was shipped. Sulphuret of potassium covers the properties of many springs; iron others.

It has been intimated that the waters of a celebrated spring which I visited is indebted for its peculiar flavor to an old tannery, which, within the memory of that mythical being, “the oldest inhabitant,” occupied the site where this favorite spring “gushes forth.” Having no desire to be tanned inside,—after my boyhood’s experience in that delightful external process,—I respectfully declined drinking from this spring.

By the immense quantities of “spring water” gulped down hourly and daily by visitors, one is led to suppose the cure lies in a thorough washing out. There is an excellent spring near Nashville, Tenn., from which I drank for a week; also another at Sheldon, Vt. There are three different springs at this latter place, but I prefer the “Sheldon” to either of the other two. I discovered a good spring at Newport, Vt., and there are others in that vicinity.


Cold Drinks vs. Warm Drinks.

“Drink freely of cold water,” says an author of no small repute, to persons of a weak stomach, viz., dyspeptics.

[Pg 532]When I was an apprentice, my master (Sir Charles Blicke) used to say, “O, sir, you are faint: pray drink this water.” “And what do you think was the effect of putting cold water into a man’s stomach, under these circumstances?” asks the great Dr. Abernethy. “Why, of course, that it was often rejected in his face.” Never put cold water, or cold victuals, into a weak stomach.

The above surgeon is responsible for the following advice.

An Irishman called in great haste upon the doctor, saying,—

“O, dochter—be jabers, me b’y Tim has swallowed a mouse.”

“Then, Paddy, be jabers, let your boy Tim swallow a cat.”


The Old Lady and the Pump.

One can readily conceive the utility of a warm bath—even a cold water bath, if the bather is robust—or a steam bath, a vapor, or a sun bath; but the advantage of the absurdity which the nineteenth century has introduced from antiquity, viz., the dry cupping, or pumping treatment, is not so self-evident.

An old lady, suffering from “rheumatism, and a humor of the blood,” was persuaded to visit a “pump-doctor’s” rooms.

“What’s that hollow thing for?” she nervously inquired.

“That is a limb-receiver,” replied the polite operator. “If the disease is in the limb, we enclose it within this; the rubber excludes the air, and to this faucet we affix the pump, and remove the air from the limb.”

“Yes, yes; but I thought air was necessary to health; besides, I don’t see how that is going to cure the limb. Does it add anything to, or take anything from the limb?” she inquired.

“Well—no—yes; that is, it draws the disease out from that part.”

[Pg 533]“Yes, yes; but suppose the disease is all over the person, as mine is.”

“Then we place them in this,” putting his hand upon an article which she had not before discovered.

“That? Why, that looks like the case to a Dutchman’s pipe, only a sight times larger. And do tell if you shet folks up in that box,” cautiously approaching and examining it.

The operator assured her such was the case.

“Is the disease left in the box when you are done pumping? Does it really suck all the disease into the thing by the process?” she inquired.

“Well, madam, you put your questions in a remarkable manner. But it displaces the air around the person, and the vital principle within forces out the disease. It is certain to benefit all diseases,” he replied.

“Well, I don’t see how it can, if it can’t be seen. Does it act as physic, emetic, a bath, or do the sores follow right out of the blood into the box?”

“Neither, madam.” The operator was very patient. “Just try the limb-receiver first; then you can tell better about the whole treatment.”

After much persuasion, and by the assistance of the female operator, the old lady was seated, and the limb-receiver adjusted. Now the man in the next room began to pump. The old lady was very nervous, and felt for her snuff-box, and while so doing the man was still pumping. Having taken the snuff, her mind again referred to the limb in the box, and the pressure (suction) having naturally increased, her nervousness overcame her, and with a scream and a bound she left the chair and rushed for the door, dragging the receiver, which clung tight to the one limb, rather outweighing the boot and hose of the other, drawing the gutta-percha pipe after her, which only added to her fright, and with another scream for “help,” and “O, will nobody save me?—O, murder, murder!” she, like a bound lion, went[Pg 534] the length of her chain, and tumbled over in a heap on the floor. The woman rushed from behind the screen, the man from the pump-room, and rescued the old lady, who fled to her carriage in waiting; and doubtless to her dying day she will continue to tell of how narrowly she escaped “being sucked entirely through that gutta-percha pipe—only for her having on a bustle.”


Country Mistakes.

A Canadian, of a nervous, consumptive diathesis, went down to Portland, Maine, to consult a physician, and fell in with old Dr. F., whom he found busily engaged in examining some papers. The old doctor heard his case, and hurriedly wrote him a prescription. The chirography of the doctor was none of the best, yet the Portland druggists, who were familiar with his scrawls, could easily decipher his prescriptions. Not so the country apothecary, to whom the patient took the recipe, to save expense, which was something as follows: “Spiritus frumenti et valerianum,” etc.; then followed the directions for taking.

After much delay and consultation with the green-grocer boy, it was put up as a painter’s article, viz., “spirits turpentine and varnish.”

The first glass-full satisfied the invalid.


Drunk, or Sober.

A gentleman, knowing the parties in his boyhood, rehearsed to me the following anecdote:—

Old Dr. Gallup, of ——, N. H., was an excellent physician, whose failing lay in his propensity to imbibe more spirits then he could carry off.

“Are you drunk, or sober?” was no unusual question, put by those requiring his services, before permitting the old doctor to prescribe.

 [Pg 535]




[Pg 536] 

[Pg 537]“Sober as a judge. What—hic—do you want?” he would reply.

Mr. B., who had been a long time confined to his house, under the care of an old fogy doctor, one of the “Gods of Medicine,” with whom all knowledge remains, and with whom all knowledge dies, after taking nearly all the drugs contained in his Materia Medica, decided to change, and sent for Dr. Gallup.

“Are you drunk, or sober, doctor?” was the first salutation.

“Sober as a judge. What’s wanted?” was the reply, omitting the “hic.”

“Can you cure me? I’ve been blistered and parboiled, puked and physicked, bled in vein and pocket for the last three months. Now, can you cure me?”

Gallup looked over the case, and the medicine left by the other doctor, threw the latter all out of the window, ordered a nourishing diet, told Mr. B. to take no more drugs, took his fee, and left. Mr. B. recovered without another visit.




[Pg 538]





I met him again; he was trudging along,
His knapsack with chickens was swelling;
He’d “blenkered” these dainties, and thought it no wrong,
From some secessionist’s dwelling.
“What regiment’s yours, and under whose flag
Do you fight?” said I, touching his shoulder;
Turning slowly about, he smilingly said,—
For the thought made him stronger and bolder,—
“I fights mit Siegel.”

The next time I saw him, his knapsack was gone,
His cap and his canteen were missing;
Shell, shrapnell, and grape, and the swift rifle-ball,
Around him and o’er him were hissing.
“How are you, my friend, and where have you been?
And for what, and for whom, are you fighting?”
He said, as a shell from the enemy’s gun
Sent his arm and his musket a-kiting,
“I fights mit Siegel.”

We scraped out his grave, and he dreamlessly sleeps
On the bank of the Shenandoah River;
His home and his kindred alike are unknown,
His reward in the hands of the Giver.
We placed a rough board at the head of his grave,
“And we left him alone in his glory,”
But on it we cut, ere we turned from the spot,
The little we knew of his story—
“I fights mit Siegel.”—Grant P. Robinson.

[Pg 539]If any of the little “life stories” which I here relate in this brief chapter, have perchance before met the reader’s eye, I can only say that they cannot be read too often. We need no longer go back to remotest history—to Joan d’Arc, Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, nor to revolutionary scenes—to find “cases of courage and devotion, for no annals are so rich as ours in these deliberate acts of unquestioning self-sacrifice, which at once ennoble our estimate of human nature, and increase the homage we pay to the virtues of women.”


A Hospital Scene at Night.

Night gathered her sable mantle about earth and sky, and the cold, wintry wind swept around the temporary hospital with a mournful wail, a rude lullaby, and a sad requiem to the wounded and dying soldier boys who crowded its rankling wards. Through the dark, sickly atmosphere, by the flickering lamp-lights, are just discernible the long rows of suffering, dying humanity. As the wind lulls, the sighs and groans of the unfortunate sufferers greet your ears on every side. “Water, water!” is the general request.

Every moment new ones are added to the mangled and suffering throng, as they are brought in from the battle-field and the amputating-room. The surgeons are busily at work. Every able-bodied soldier must be at the front, for the emergency is great. Ah! who shall give the “water” which raging thirst momentarily demands? Who is to soothe the fearful anguish, from lacerated nerve and muscle, by cruel shot and shell? And who shall smooth the dying pillow, hear the last prayer, for self, and for loved ones far away in the northern homes? And who will kindly receive the dying messages for those dear ones,—wife, children, father, mother,—whom he never will see again, and kiss the pallid cheek, commend the soul to God, and close the eyes forever of the poor soldier boy, who died away from home and friends, in the hospital?

[Pg 540]God himself had raised up those to fill this sacred office, in the form of frail women—woman, because no man could fill the hallowed sphere. Flitting from couch to couch, like a fairy thing, noiselessly; like an angel of mercy, administering, soothing; but like a woman, beautiful, frail, and slender, with a cheering smile, and sympathy, as much expressed in the light of the eye as the sound of the voice, she moistened the parched lips, lightened the pillows, and the hearts, and seemed never to tire in deeds of love and kindness to the distressed soldiers.

Next to the soldiers, the physicians know how to appreciate the true women at the hospital couch. After the manifestations of skill, labor, anxiety, and devotion to the cause by the physicians, thousands of men would have perished but for the hand and heart of woman, and who now live to speak her praise and cherish her memory forever.

“Ain’t she an angel?” said a gray-haired veteran, as she gave the boys their breakfast. “She never seems to tire; she is always smiling, and don’t seem to walk, but flies from one to another. God bless her.”

“Ma’am, where did you come from?” asked a fair boy of seventeen summers, as she smoothed his hair, and told him, with gleaming eyes, he would soon see his mother, and the old homestead, and be won back to life and health. “How could such a lady as you come way down here to take care of us poor, sick, dirty boys?”

“I consider it an honor,” she said, “to wait on you, and wash off the mud you have waded through for me.”

Said another, “Lady, please write down your name, that I may look at it, and take it home, and show my wife who wrote my letters, combed my hair, and fed me. I don’t believe you’re like other people.”

“God bless her, and spare her life,” they would say, with devotion, as she passed on.

(These things were written of Miss Breckenbridge by Mrs. Hoge, of Chicago.)

 [Pg 541]

The Soldier Boy’s Dying Message.

She sat by the couch of a fair-haired boy, who was that day mortally wounded. It was night now, and in the hospital before described. The poor boy knew he must go, but before he died he wanted to leave a message of love for his mother, away in the northern home.

“Tell me all you wish to have her know; I will convey your message to her,” said the lady, as she bent her slender young form over the dying boy, and tenderly smoothed back the fleecy locks from his pallid brow.




“O, bless you, dear lady. You speak words of such joy to me. But it is this. I left a good mother, and sister Susie, in the dear old home in A. O, so much I have longed to see them during these last few hours! to see them but for one moment! O God, but for one moment!” And while he took breath she turned away her beautiful face to hide the[Pg 542] falling tears, which she must not let the poor boy see. “Tell her,” he pursued,—“my mother,—that I never found out how much I loved her till I came away from her side to fight for my country. O, lady, tell her this, and Susie, and poor father. I see it all now. And the old home comes back to my mind as clear as though I left it but yesterday. There is the old house, with its gabled roof, and the porch, all covered with clinging jessamines, and the big house-dog lying under the porch, and the great old well-sweep; and off in the meadow are the trees I used to climb. O, I never, never shall see them again. I feel very weak. Can’t I have some more of that drink?”

“Yes, poor, dear boy. Here; the surgeon said you could have all you wanted.”

“O, thank you. I wish I could write. O, there; that is so refreshing. If I could but write and tell her how good you have been to me! But write your name to her, the whole of it. She will understand, if you don’t tell her how good you are. Well, I won’t say any more, for you shake your head; but tell her how I love her, and them all. Am I fainting?”

She arose from her knees, and taking some water, with her hand she moistened his brow and his silky hair, and offered him some more of the strengthening cordial. But he declined taking it. The boy was dying. He made one more effort, and said,—

“Mother! Tell her, too, how I have kept her little Bible; and she can see how it has been read, and marked, and worn. O for one sight of her dear face, one look from her loving eyes, one kiss from her lips! I’d then die in peace.”

The beautiful lady softly smoothed his hair, wiped his face, whispered words too sacred for sterner hearts, and kissed away her own tears from his pallid cheeks.

“Mother! Was it you? Then good by. I die—happy, Mother!”

[Pg 543]Thus he expired. The good lady wrote the above to the mother of the brave lad, and thus I obtained the original.


Warm Hearts in frozen Bodies.

“A lady in one of the hospitals of the west was much attracted by two young men, lying side by side, all splintered and bandaged, so that they could not move hand or foot, but so cheerful and happy looking, that she said,—

“‘Why, boys, you are looking very bright to-day.’

“‘O, yes,’ they replied, ‘we’re all right now; we’ve been turned this morning.’

“And she found that for six long weeks they had lain in one position, and for the first time that morning had been moved to the other side of their cot.

“‘And were you among those poor boys who were left lying where you fell, that bitter cold morning, till you froze fast to the ground?’

“‘Yes, ma’am; we were lying there two days. You know they had no time to attend to us. They had to go and take the fort.’

“‘And didn’t you think it was very cruel in them to leave you there to suffer so long?’ she inquired.

“‘Why, no, ma’am; we wanted them to go and take the fort.’

“‘But when it was taken, you were in too great agony to know or care for it?’

“‘O, no, ma’am,’ they replied, with flashing eyes. ‘There was a whole lot of us wounded fellows on the hill-side, watching to see if they would get the fort; and when we saw they had it, every one of us who had a whole arm, or leg, waved it in the air, and hurrahed till the air rang again.’”

This is from a letter by Miss M. E. Breckenbridge, a lady who laid down her life for the sick soldiers.

 [Pg 544]

Pudding and Milk.

Under Dr. Vanderkieft’s supervision, in Sedgwick’s corps, there was one of the noblest self-sacrificing women of the army of the Potomac. This lady was unwearied in her efforts for the good of the soldiers.

While at Smoketown Hospital, there was a poor, emaciated soldier, whose weak and pitiable condition attracted her attention. He could retain nothing on his stomach. Mrs. Lee—for that was the lady—had tried all the various dishes for which the meagre hospital supplies afforded materials, but nothing afforded the patient relief and nourishment, until one day, in overhauling the stores, she found a quantity of Indian corn meal.

“O, I have found a prize,” she cried, in delight.

“What is it?” inquired the little fellow detailed as orderly.

“Indian meal,” was her reply.

“Pshaw! I thought you had found a bag of dollars.”

“Better than dollars. Bring it along.” And she hastened away to the tent where lay her poor patient.

“Sanburn,” said she,—for that was the invalid’s name,—“could you eat some mush?”

“I don’t know what that is. I don’t like any of your fancy dishes.”

“Why, it’s pudding and milk,” said a boy on the next cot.

“O, yes,” exclaimed the starving soldier. “I think I could eat a bucket full of pudding and milk.”

Mrs. Lee was not long in giving him an opportunity for the trial. She at first brought him a small quantity, with some sweet milk, and to her joy, as well as that of the lean, hungry patient, it suited him. He ate it three times a day, and recovered. Indeed, the sack of meal was worth more than a sack of dollars, as she had said.

As strange as this may seem, there are instances on record where very remarkable, yea, absurd articles of diet have cured where medicine failed.

 [Pg 545]

Small Beer.

The Earl of Bath, when he was Mr. Pulteney, was very sick of the pleuristic fever, in Staffordshire. Doctor after doctor had been called down from London, till his secretary had paid out the sum of three thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. The last two physicians had given him up. “He must die,” said Drs. Friend and Broxholm. They, however prescribed some simple remedies, and were about to leave, when the invalid, just alive, was heard to mutter, “Small beer.”

“He asks for small beer,” said the attendants. “Shall we give him some?”

“Yes, give him ‘small beer,’ or anything,” replied the doctors.

A great two-quart silver pitcher full was brought, and he drank the whole contents, and demanded more. The request was granted, and, after drinking the gallon, he fell asleep, perspired freely, and recovered.


The poetical and amusing Side.

There is a poetical side, as well as a prosy side, to the camp and hospital. The following effusion of confusion was sent to the writer by a brother who gave his life for his country. It was written by a rebel soldier, who never realized his dream, and doubtless his “Amelia” mourns his loss as sincerely as though he had fought in a better cause.


To Amelia.

1. O, come, my love, and go away to the land up north; for there, they say, it’s rite good picketin’ for rebel boys. And we’ll take the land, and sweep the band of New Yorkers into the bay.

2. I’ve heered of Delmonico’s, and Barnum’s Shows, and how many hotels the land only knows. And we’ll steer our bark for Centre Park. Here’s a health to ourselves, and away she goes. (Here I drank.)

[Pg 546]3. Then come with your knight so true, and down with the boys that’s dressed in blue. Farewell to hoe-cake an’ hominy, Richmond and Montgomery. I’ll lick the damn Yankees, an’ marry you.

4. Here’s a heart, I reckon, as firm’s a rock; no truer ever beat neath a gray or blue frock. So come, my love, and haste away. We’ll moor our bark in New York Bay, when I end this fighting work.

Your true lover,
J. Parsloe.

The next has been in print, and was written by Major McKnight, while a prisoner. “He was a poet, musician, and joker, and used to run from grave to gay, from lively to severe, on almost all mottoes. He was an especial favorite with his guard, the Union boys.”


My Love and I.

My love reposes in a rosewood frame;
A bunk have I;
A couch of feath’ry down fills up the same;
Mine’s straw, but dry.
She sinks to rest at night without a sigh;
With waking eyes I watch the hours creep by.

My love her daily dinner takes in state;
And so do I;
The richest viands flank her plate;
Coarse grub have I.
Pure wines she sips at ease her thirst to slake;
I pump my drink from Erie’s limpid lake.

My love has all the world at will to roam;
Three acres I;
She goes abroad, or quiet sits at home;
So cannot I.
[Pg 547]Bright angels watch around her couch at night;
A Yank, with loaded gun, keeps me in sight.

A thousand weary miles stretch between
My love and I;
To her, this wintry night, cold, calm, serene,
I waft a sigh,
And hope, with all my earnestness of soul,
To-morrow’s mail may bring me my parole.

There’s hope ahead: we’ll one day meet again,
My love and I;
We’ll wipe away all tears of sorrow then;
Her love-lit eye
Will all my many troubles then beguile,
And keep this wayward reb from Johnson’s Isle.




A Scriptural Conundrum.

The Georgia contrabands were great on conundrums, says a soldier of Sherman’s army. One day one of these human[Pg 548] “charcoal sketches” was driving a pair of contrary mules hitched to a cart loaded with foraging stuff. He was sitting on the load, saying to himself, “Now dat Clem ax me dat cundrum to bodder dis nigger, and I done just make it out. ‘Why ar Moses like er cotton-gin?’ I done see. I mighty ’fraid I hab to gib dat up. Whoa! Git up? What de debble you doin’?”

While “cudgelling his brains” for a solution of Clem’s conundrum, the mules had strayed from the cart road, and were stuck hard and fast in the mud. “Git up dar yer Balum’s cusses!” piling on the whip and using some “swear words” not to be repeated. “Dar, take dat, and dat, yer!”

Just then Chaplain C. rode up, and hearing the contraband swearing, said,—

“Do you know what the great I Am said?”

“Look’er yer, masser,” interrupted the negro; “done yer ax me none of yer cundrums till I git out ob dis d—— hole; and I answer Clem’s fust—‘Why am Moses like er gin-cotton?’”


Wouldn’t marry a Regiment.

When General Kelley was after Mosby’s guerrillas, he captured a girl named Sally Dusky, whose two brothers were officers in the guerrilla band. The general tried in vain to induce the girl—who was not bad looking, by the way—to reveal the rebs’ hiding-places. Having failed in all other ways, the general said,—

“If you will make a clean breast of it, and tell us truly, I will give you the chances for a husband of all the men and officers of my command.”

With this bait he turned her over to Captain Baggs. After some deliberation she asked that officer if the general meant what he said.

“O, most assuredly; the general was sincere,” was his reply.

[Pg 549]The girl assumed a thoughtful mood for some moments, and then said,—

“Well, I wouldn’t like to marry the whole regiment, or staff, but I’d as lief have the old general as any of them.”




[Pg 550]



“Full well he knew, where food does not refresh,
The shrivelled soul sinks inward with the flesh;
That he’s best armed for danger’s rash career,
Who’s crammed so full there is no room for fear.”

“Strange! that a creature rational, and cast
In human mould, should brutalize by choice
His nature.”—Cowper.



If I confine this chapter to modern physicians, it will be brief. Though doctors are usually pretty good livers, they, at this day of the world, too well know the deadly properties of the villanous concoctions sold as liquors to risk much of it in their own systems.

There is a whole sermon on eating in our first text above, and, while we admit that gluttony is reprehensible, we detest “the shrivelled soul” who starves wittingly his body to heap up riches, or under the idle delusion of starving out disease, or “mortifying the flesh.” If not very “mortifying,” it is very depressing, to be bored by one of these “lean, lank hypochondriacs,”—to have to entertain, or be entertained by, such. O, give me the wide-mouthed, the[Pg 551] round-faced, or abdomened, the cheerful, laughing man, especially if he’s a doctor.




“Ah, doctor,” said a poor, emaciated invalid to me during my first year’s practice at ——, “you do me good like a medicine by your presence. Why, the blue devils leave the house the moment you enter. I don’t believe you was ever blue.”

“Hereafter my patients shall never know that I am.”

Nor is it necessary to gulp down ardent spirits to keep the spirits up. Stimulants produce an unnatural buoyancy of spirits, and the unnatural destroys the natural habit of the system. A good and natural habit does not grow upon a person to his injury; an unnatural one always does, ending in his destruction. A good living gives good spirits; cæteris paribus, a poor living low spirits.


A modern Silenus.

Silenus, of the mythologists, was a demigod, who became the nurse, the preceptor, and finally the attendant, of Bacchus. He was represented as a fat, bloated old fellow, riding on an ass, and drunk every day in the year.

I knew a “bright and shining light” in the medical profession who turned out a modern Silenus. This was Dr. G., of Plymouth, Conn. His father had given him the best medical education which this country afforded. He was a gentleman of superior address, as well as talent, tall, straight, and handsome as an Apollo, with a dark, flashing eye, a massive brow, shaded by a profusion of jet-black locks. How long he had practised medicine I do not know.[Pg 552] Throughout the county he had an excellent professional reputation, particularly as a surgeon. His instruments were numerous, and of the best and latest improvements. Alas that such a man should be lost to the community, and to humanity! But his appetite for intoxicating drink knew no bounds. His thirst was as insatiable as Tantalus’.

When I first knew him, he still was in practice, but the better portion of the community had ceased to trust him. He never was sober for a day. He occupied then a little office in the square, containing a front and a back room. In the latter were his few medicines,—there was no apothecary in town,—and a number of large glass jars, containing excellent anatomical and fœtal specimens. This room was not finished inside, and the walls were full of nails, projecting through from the clapboards outside.

One day a Mr. Hotchkiss went after him, hoping to find the doctor sufficiently sober to prescribe for a patient, in a case of emergency.

“What do you suppose I found him doing?” said Mr. Hotchkiss to me.

“Hiding from the snakes in his back room?” I suggested.

“No, sir; he had the tremens, and with his coat off, his hair standing every way, his eyes glaring like a demon’s, he had his case of forceps strewn over the floor, and was diving at the ends of the clapboard nails, which he called devils, that came through the boards, in the back office.”

“Ah, there you are! Another devil staring at me!” he shouted; and with the bright, gleaming forceps he dove at a nail, wrenched it from the wall, and flinging it on the floor, he stamped on it, crying, “Another dead devil! Come on. Ah, ha! there you are again!” and he dove at another. When he broke a forceps he flung it on the floor, and caught a new pair. I tried to stop him, but he only accused me of being leagued with his evil majesty to destroy him.

 [Pg 553]




[Pg 554] 

[Pg 555]Another day, after having pawned nearly all his instruments for money with which to buy liquor to appease his raving appetite, he was seen to unseal one of the jars containing a fœtal specimen, pour out a quantity of the diluted alcohol in which it had long been preserved, and drink it down with the avidity of a starving man.

His last instrument and case pawned, he sold the coat from his back to buy liquors. He could no longer get practice, no longer pay his board, and he became an outcast from all respectable society, and a frequenter of bar-rooms. A poor and simple old woman in the remote part of the town took compassion on him, and gave him a home. But nothing could chain his uncontrollable passion for intoxicating drinks.




The last time I saw him was in the month of December. He was in a grocery, warming himself by the store fire. He wore a crownless hat, a woman’s shawl over his shoulders, and a pair of boy’s pants partially covered his legs; no stockings covered his ankles, and a pair of old, low shoes encased his feet. The light had fled from his once beautiful, lustrous eyes; great wrinkles furrowed his once manly brow; his hair, once dark and glossy as the raven’s wing, was now streaked with gray, uncombed and unkempt, hanging, knotted and snarled, over his neck and bloated face.

“Don’t you recollect me?” he asked, with a shaking voice and a distressing effort at a smile. Ah, it was sickening to the senses.

Alas! Such another wreck may I never behold. What power shall awaken him from his awful condition, and

[Pg 556] “Picture a happy past,
Gone from his sight,
Bring back his early youth,
Cloudless and bright;
Tell how a mother’s eye
Watched while he slept,
Tell how she prayed for him,
Sorrowed and wept.

“Point to the better land,
Home of the blest,
Where she has passed away,
Gone to her rest.
O’er the departed one
Memory will yearn;
God, in his mercy, grant
He may return.”


Fatal Errors.

Unfortunately, it is much easier to copy a great man’s imperfections than those qualities which give him his greatness. Too often, also, are their defects mistaken for their marks of distinction,—vice for virtue,—and copied by the young, who have not the ability to imitate their greatness.

“General Grant smokes!”

President Grant drinks!”

These two sentences, with the lamentable fact of their probable truth, have made more smokers of young men in the military and civil walks of life than all other texts in the English language. General or President Grant is not responsible for the lack of brains in the community, to be sure; but if “great men” will persist in bad habits, young men should be taught the difference between them and their virtues, and cautioned to shun them, or their bark will be stranded far out of sight of their desired haven,—the port of their ambition,—and nothing but a worthless wreck remains to tell what better piloting might have done for them. The voyage ended cannot be re-commenced.

A student of medicine, in New York, brought a bottle of[Pg 557] liquor to our room. I told him where that bottle would carry him.

“Pshaw! It’s only a pint of wine. Dr. Abernethy, the great English surgeon, bought one hundred and twenty-six gallons at once, and he did not die a drunkard,” was his contemptuous reply.

“But you must remember that Abernethy lived in the days of good port wine, when every man had something to say of the sample his hospitality produced of his popular beverage. The doctor, who never was intemperate, was very hospitable.

“‘Honest John Lloyd!’—what an anomaly when applied to a rum-seller—was a great wine merchant of London, a particular friend of Abernethy’s, and of all great men of his day, who loved wines and brandies.

“One day I went to Lloyd’s just as Dr. Abernethy left.

“‘Well,’ said Mr. Lloyd, ‘what a funny man your master is.’

“‘Who?’ said I.

“Why, Mr. Abernethy. He has just been here and paid me for a pipe of wine, and threw down a handful of notes and pieces of paper, with fees. I wanted him to stop to see if they were all right, and said, ‘Some of those fees may be more than you think, perhaps.’ ‘Never mind,’ said he; ‘I can’t stop; you have them as I took them,’ and hastily went his way.

“In occasional habits we may most safely recollect that faults are no less faults (as Mirabeau said of Frederick the Great) because they have the shadow of a great name; and we believe that no good man would desire to leave a better expiation of any weakness than that it should deter others from a similar error.”

In fact, the doctor was opposed to drunkenness, and also gluttony, although he himself “was a good liver,” as the following anecdote will show:—

A wealthy merchant who resided in the country had been[Pg 558] very sick, and barely recovered, when, from the same cause, he was again threatened with a return of the like disease.

“I went to see him at home, and dined with him. He seemed to think that if he did not drink deeply, he might eat like a glutton,” said the doctor. “Well, I saw he was at his old tricks again, and I said to him, ‘Sir, what would you think of a merchant, who, having been prosperous in business and amassed a comfortable fortune, went and risked it all in what he knew was an imprudent speculation?’

“Why, sir,” he exclaimed, “I should say he was a great ass.”

“‘Nay, then, thou art the man,’ said Abernethy.”

The leopard does not change his spots. For the truth of this read the life and fall of Uniac.

O, it is a fearful thing to become a drunkard.

The habit once acquired is never gotten entirely rid of. It sleeps—it never dies, but with the death of the victim.

Young men, avoid the first drink. Never take that first fatal glass; thus, and only thus, are you safe from a drunkard’s grave, and the curse entailed upon your progeny.


Strength in Weakness.

“Sir, I am advised that you have a barrel of beer in your room,” said the president of one of our New England colleges to a student, who, contrary to rule and usage, had actually purchased a barrel of the delightful stuff made from brewed hops, copperas, and filthy slops, and deposited it under the bed, convenient for use.

“Yes, sir; such is the fact,” replied the student.

“What explanation can you give for such conduct, sir?”

“Well,” began the student with the boldest confidence, “the truth is, my physician, in consideration of my ill health, advised me to take a little ale daily; and not wishing to be seen visiting the beer-shops where the beverage is retailed, I decided to buy a barrel, and take it quietly at my room.”

[Pg 559]“Indeed! and have you derived the anticipated benefit therefrom, sir?” inquired the president.

“O, yes, sir; indeed I have. Why, when I first had the barrel placed in my room two weeks ago, I could not move it. Now, sir, I can carry it with the greatest of ease.”

The president smiled, and ordered the barrel removed, saying that “in consideration of his rapid convalescence the treatment could safely be discontinued.”


A warm Place for a Cook.

Soon after the completion of the Roberts Opera House, in Hartford, Conn., the Putnam Phalanx held a grand ball within its walls. The music was exquisite; the prompters the best in the state; the ladies were the most beautiful and dressy in the land; and all went splendidly, till the supper was discussed. There had been a misunderstanding about the number for whom supper was to be prepared, and it was found out, when too late, that there were a hundred more guests than plates. The supper was spread in the basement. When the writer went down with friends, the tables, which had already been twice occupied, presented a disgusting scene—all heaped up with dirty dishes, debris of “fowl, fish, and dessert,” and great complaint was made by the hungry dancers, while some unpleasant epithets, and uncomplimentary remarks were hurled at the heads of the innocent caterers.

With our party were Dr. C., a great joker, and Dr. D., his match.

“If you don’t like this fare you can go through into the restaurant,” said one of the waiters. “It is all the same,” he added.

We required no second invitation. We did ample justice to the fare provided, and retired, leaving Dr. C. to bring up the rear. In a half minute he came running after us, saying,—

[Pg 560]“The fellow told me I must pay for the supper in there, extra!”

“Well, what did you tell him?”

“Why, I told him to go to h——.”

“Well, you did right; let him go; that is just the place for him.”

On another occasion, the dinner not being forthcoming at a hotel where we dined, the doctor “fell to,” and soon demolished the best part of a blanc-mange pudding before him.

“That, sir, is dessert,” politely interrupted the waiter, in dismay at seeing his dessert so rapidly disappearing.

“No matter,” said the doctor, finishing it; “I could eat it if it were the Great Sahara!”


A Modern Gilpin.

The widow Wealthy lived in the country. She was a blooming widow, fair, plump, and—sickly. She owned a valuable farm, just turning off from the main thoroughfare,—broad acres, nice cottage house, great barn and granary, and she was considered, by certain eligible old bachelors, and a widower or two, as “a mighty good catch.”

Dr. Filley practised in the country. He was a bachelor, above forty. He was a short, thick-set man, with a fair practice, which might have been better, but for certain whispers about a growing propensity to—drinking! That’s the word. Of course he denied the insinuation, and defied any one to prove that he was ever the worse for liquor. The doctor was attendant, professionally, upon the widow, and—well you know how the gossips manage that sort of a thing in the country. But who was to know whether “the doctor made more visits per week to the widow Wealthy than her state of health seemed to warrant”? or who knew that “the widow was ‘sweet’ towards the little doctor, and that she intended he should throw the bill all in at the end of the year—himself to boot?” Never mind his rivals; they do not come into our amusing story.

[Pg 561]John, the widow’s hired man, was sent very unexpectedly, one day in autumn, for the doctor to call that afternoon, to see the invalid. Very unexpectedly to the widow, and greatly to her mortification, two gossiping neighbors called at her residence just as the doctor was expected to arrive. “O, she was so glad to see Mrs. —— and Mrs. ——!”

Dr. Filley rode a scraggy little Canadian horse,—a fiery, headstrong beast, but a good saddle horse. Somehow, the unexpected call, at that hour, slightly “flustered” the little doctor; but he threw his saddle-bags over his shoulder, mounted the beast, and turned his head towards the widow’s residence.

“I b’lieve I am a little nervous over this colt; I wonder what’s the matter!” And he tried to rein up the headstrong little beast, to give himself time to—sober off!

“I reary bl’eve I’m a little—taken by surprise—ho, Charley! Why, what’s got inter—pony? Goes like ’r devil. Ho, ho, boy.”

Pretty soon the beast struck into a gallop; and now he reached the lane that led into Mrs. Wealthy’s farm. The pony knew the lane as well as his master, and the barn better. The said lane led by the barn-yard and out-buildings, the house being beyond. The barn-yard bars were down, and the pony made for the opening, in a clean gallop, over the fallen bars, right in amongst the cattle, the sheep, and the swine. A big ox gave a bellow at the sudden arrival, and, with tail and head in air, ran to the opposite side of the yard, intruding upon the comfort of a big old sow, that was dozing in the mud. With a loud snort, the discomfited porker rushed from the mire just in time to meet the horse, and in attempting to pass on both sides at once, she went between the short fore legs of the pony, and brought up with a loud squeal, and a shock that sent the rider over the horse’s head, down astride the hog. The pony reared, wheeled, and ran out of the yard at one pair of bars, and[Pg 562] the sow went pell-mell out of the other, bearing the doctor and saddle-bags swiftly along towards the house.

The hired man witnessed the sudden change of steeds, and gave the alarm. The widow—not so very sick—was just graciously showing her two unwelcome lady callers out, after being worried nearly an hour by their company; and taking an anxious look towards the lane, she saw the doctor coming on a clean—no, dirty—gallop, on her old sow.

She lost no time in giving a loud scream. What else should she do?

“O, goodness gracious! What is that?”

“O Lord, save and defend us! What is it?” exclaimed the two ladies, in chorus.

“A man on a hog!”

“The doctor on a sow!” again in chorus.

Now the pony and the swine met, the doctor still clinging to the sow’s ear with one hand, and to the tail with the other; of course, having turned a clean summersault from the pony, facing towards the sow’s hind quarters. The swine, beset on all sides, sheered off, and made directly through a large duck-pond in the field, scattering the geese and ducks every way, which, crying out, “Quack, quack!” made off as fast as feet and wings could carry them. Half way across the pond the doctor lost his balance, and, with his saddle-bags, fell splashing into the water.

Another scream from the ladies,—only two of them.

The widow, like a sensible woman, when she saw the doctor’s danger, ran for the well-pole. “Here, John, here! Take this well-hook, and fish him out quick, before he drowns.”

John obeyed, and in an instant the doctor was safely landed.

The doctor was sobered.

The widow, seeing no further danger, like a true woman, fainted.

 [Pg 563]




[Pg 564] 

[Pg 565]Leaving the muddy and half-drowned doctor, who looked like a well-wet-down bantam cock, John turned to his mistress, whom he picked up from the grass, and carried into the house. The two ladies, who had witnessed her discomfiture, assisted in loosening the stays, and administering some salts, which revived the widow.

“O, did you ever see such a comical sight?”

“Never. O, wasn’t it horrid? The little doctor riding backward, on a horrid, dirty, old pig! O, if I ever!”

And the ladies laughed in unison, in which the widow actually joined.

“But what has become of the poor, wet fellow? And did John rescue the saddle-bags?” inquired the widow.

John, meantime, had returned to the doctor’s assistance. He now fished out the saddle-bags, and the unfortunate doctor started on foot for home, whither the pony had long since fled.

The story, in the mouth of one servant and three ladies, was anything but a secret, and—you know how it is in the country.


The widow still holds the farm in her own name, in a town in New England.

Dr. Filley practises physic in California.


A scientific Gourmand.

Our familiar friend, “A Book about Doctors,” which we have before introduced to your notice as the only amusing work in the English language, upon the subject, gives a long list of bon vivants of the old school, amongst whom are some eminent names in the medical profession. In fact, the abstemious doctors during the past centuries would seem to have been far in the minority. Even Harvey was accused of being fond of brandy.

“Dr. George Fordyce was fond of substantial fare, like[Pg 566] Radcliffe, who was a gormand. For above twenty years Fordyce dined at Dolly’s chop-house. The dinner he there consumed was his only meal during the four and twenty hours.

“Four o’clock was his dinner hour. Before him was set a silver tankard of strongest ale, a bottle of port wine, and a quarter pint of brandy.

“The dinner was preluded by a dish of broiled fowl, or a few whitings. Having leisurely devoured this plate, the doctor took a glass of brandy, and ordered his steak, which was always a prime one, weighing one and a half pounds. Of course, vegetables, etc., accompanied the steak.

“When the man of science had devoured the whole of this, the bulk of which would have kept a boa constrictor happy a twelvemonth, he took the rest of his brandy, drank off the tankard of ale, and topped off by sipping down his bottle of port wine.

“Having thus brought his intellects, up or down, to the standard of his pupils, he rose, and walked down to Essex Street, and delivered his six o’clock lecture on chemistry.” (He lived to the age of sixty-six.)

Another glutton, in contrast with whom Fordyce was an abstinent, was Dr. Beauford. In 1745 he was summoned to appear before the privy council, to answer some questions relative to Lord B., with whom the doctor was intimate.

“Do you know Lord Barrymore?” asked one of the lords.

“Intimately, most intimately,” replied the doctor.

“You were often with him?”

“We dine together almost daily when his lordship is in town,” answered the doctor, with expressions of delight.

“What do you talk about?”

“Eating and drinking.”

“Eating and drinking! What else?” asked his lordship.

“O, my lord, we never talk about anything but eating and drinking,—except—”

[Pg 567]“Except what, sir?”

Except drinking and eating, my lord.”

The council retired, greatly disappointed, for they had expected to worm some important secret from the doctor.

At Finch Lane Tavern, where Dr. Beauford used to receive the apothecaries at half fee, he was represented as sitting over his bottles and glasses, from which he drank deeply, never offering one of his clients a drop, though they often sat opposite, at the same table, looking with anxious countenances and watering mouths upon the tempting cordials, as the doctor tossed them off.


“Doorn’t go to ’im,” etc.

“Not many years since, in a fishing village on the eastern coast, there flourished a doctor in great repute amongst the poor, and his influence over the humble patients literally depended on the fact that he was sure, once in the twenty-four hours, to be handsomely intoxicated.

“Dickens has told us how, when he bought the raven immortalized in ‘Barnaby Rudge,’ the vender of that sagacious bird, after enumerating his various accomplishments, said, in conclusion,—

“‘But, sir, if you want him to come out strong, you must show him a man drunk.’

“The simple villagers of Flintbeach had a firm faith in the strengthening effect of looking at a tipsy doctor. They usually postponed their visits to Dr. Mutchkins till evening, because they then had the benefit of the learned man in his highest intellectual condition.

“‘Doorn’t go to ’im i’ the morning; he can’t doctor no ways to speak on till he’s had a glass,’ was the advice usually given to strangers not aware of the doctor’s little peculiarities.”

 [Pg 568]

Dr. Butler’s Beer and Bath.

An amusing description is given of one Dr. Butler, of London, who, like the above, used to get drunk nightly. He was the inventor of a beer which bore his name, something like our Ottawa, “with a stick in it,” by one Dr. Irish. We once saw a drunken fellow holding on to a lamp post, while he held out one hand, and was arguing with an imaginary policeman that he was not drunk,—only had been taking a “little of that—hic—beverage, Dr. Waterwa’s Irish beer, by the advice of his physician.”




Dr. Butler had an old female servant named Nell Boler. At ten o’clock, nightly, she used to go to the tavern where the doctor was, by that hour, too drunk to go home alone, when, after some argument and a deal of scolding from Nell for his “beastly drunkenness,” she would carry the inebriated doctor home, and put him to bed.

“Notwithstanding that Dr. Butler was fond of beer and wine for himself, he was said to approve of water for his patients. Once he occupied rooms bordering on the Thames. A gentleman afflicted by the ague came to see him. Butler[Pg 569] tipped the wink to his assistant, who tumbled the invalid out of the window, slap into the river. We are asked to believe that the surprise actually cured the patient of his disease.”




Water did not cure the doctor, however, but beer did.

Dr. Burrowly was stricken down in his prime, and just as he was about to succeed to the most elevated position in the medical profession.

The doctor was a politician, as well as an excellent surgeon. When Lords Gower and Vandeput were contesting the election for Westminster, in 1780, the doctor was supporting the latter. One Weatherly, who kept a tavern, and whose wife wore the —— belt, was very sick. Mrs. Weatherly deeply regretted the fact of the sickness, as she wanted her husband to vote for Lord T. Late on election day, Dr. Burrowly called round to see his patient, quite willing that he should be sufficiently sick to keep him from going to the polls. To his surprise he found him up, and dressed.

“Heyday! how’s this?” exclaimed the doctor, in anger. “Why are you up, without my permission?”

[Pg 570]“O, doctor,” replied Joe Weatherly, feebly, “I am going to vote.”

“Vote!” roared the doctor, not doubting that his wife had urged him to attempt to go to the polls to vote for Lord J. “To bed. The cold air would kill you. To bed instantly, or you’re a dead man before nightfall.”

“I’ll do as you say, doctor; but as my wife was away, I thought I could get as far as Covent Garden Church, and vote for Sir George Vandeput.”

“For Sir George, did you say, Joe?”

“O, yes, sir; I don’t agree with my wife. She’s for Lord Trentham.”

The doctor changed his prognosis.

“Wait. Let me see; nurse, don’t remove his stockings;” feeling the man’s pulse. “Humph! A good firm stroke. Better than I expected. You took the pills? Yes; they made you sick? Nurse, did he sleep well?”

“Charmingly, sir;” with a knowing twinkle of the eye.

“Well, Joe, if you are bent on going to the polls, it will set your mind better at ease to go. It’s a fine sunny afternoon. The ride will do you good. So, bedad, I’ll take you along in my chariot.”

Weatherly was delighted with the doctor’s urbanity, resumed his coat, went to the election, and voted for Sir George, rode back in the chariot, and died two hours afterwards, amidst the reproaches of his amiable spouse.

“Called away from a dinner table, where he was eating, laughing, and drinking deeply, Dr. B. was found dead in the coach from apoplexy, on the arrival at the place of destination.”




[Pg 571]



“Here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling.”

“To patient study, and unwearied thought,
And wise and watchful nurture of his powers,
Must the true poet consecrate his hours:
Thus, and thus only, may the crown be bought
Which his great brethren all their lives have sought;
For not to careless wreathers of chance-flowers
Openeth the Muse her amaranthine bowers,
But to the few, who worthily have fought
The toilsome fight, and won their way to fame.
With such as these I may not cast my lot,
With such as these I must not seek a name;
Content to please a while and be forgot;
Winning from daily toil—which irks me not—
Rare and brief leisure my poor song to frame.”



Apollo,—the father of Æsculapius, the “father of physicians”—was the god of poetry and of music, as well as the patron of physicians. He presented to Mercurius the famous caduceus, which has descended in the semblance of the shepherd’s crook—he being the protector of shepherds and the Muses—and the physician’s cane and surgeon’s pole. Apollo is represented with flowing hair,—which the Romans loved to imitate, with an effort also at his graces[Pg 572] of person and mind. Students at this day who court the Muses begin by allowing, or coaxing their hair to grow long, forgetting, as they nurse a sickly goatee or mustache, assisting its show by an occasional dose of nitrate of silver, that their god was further represented as a tall, beardless youth, and instead of a bottle or cigar, he held a lyre in his hand and discoursed music.




I think Dr. Apollo a very safe pattern for our students to imitate, those particularly who are “fast,” and who only think, with Bobby Burns,—

“Just now we’re living sound and hale;
Then top and maintop crowd the sail;
Heave care owre side!
And large, before enjoyment’s gale,
Let’s tak the tide.”

It is quite impossible to mention all, even of the most celebrated of our physicians, who have contributed to the literary and musical world. But I shall quote a sufficient number to disprove the assertion that “literary physicians have not, as a rule, prospered as medical practitioners.”

Who has developed and promulgated the knowledge relative to anatomy, chemistry, physiology, botany, etc., but the physicians? The true representation of sculpture, of painting, of engraving, and most of the arts, depends upon the learned writing of the doctors.

Da Vinci owed his success as a portrait painter to his knowledge of anatomy and physiology derived from study under a physician, as also did Michael Angelo. How would our Powers have succeeded as a sculptor, without this [Pg 573]knowledge, or Miss Bonheur as a painter of animals? Dr. Hunter says “Vinci (L.) was at the time the best anatomist in the world.”

Crabbe, to be sure, failed as a physician, but succeeded as a literary man; but then Crabbe was no physician, and was unread in medicine and surgery. Arbuthnot also failed in the same manner, and for the same cause. All who have so failed may attribute it to the fact they did not succeed in what they were not, but did succeed in what they were—as Oliver Goldsmith. He squandered at the gaming table the money given him by his kind uncle to get him through Trinity College, and though spending two years afterwards in Edinburgh, and passing one year at Leyden, ostensibly reading medicine, he totally failed to pass an examination before the surgeons of the college at London, and was rejected “as being insufficiently informed.” He had previously been writing for the unappreciative booksellers, and authorship now became, per force, his only means of livelihood.

Goldsmith was an excellent, kind-hearted man; and if he had only got married and had a good wife to develop him, he would have been a greater man than he was.

It has been intimated in these pages that Shakspeare was prejudiced against medicine,—throwing “physic to the dogs;” but it is evident from a careful perusal of his works that Shakspeare was ignorant, and also superstitious, as respects this much abused science. Of the superstitions we need not further treat, but refer the intelligent reader to any of his plays for the truth of our intimation.

In Act II., Scene 1, of Coriolanus, he says by Menenius Agrippa, the friend of Coriolanus, “It gives me an estate of seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip at the physician; the most sovereign prescription of Galen is but empirical,” etc. Coriolanus was banished from Rome, and died in the fifth century before Christ (about 490), and Galen[Pg 574] was not born till six hundred years afterwards, viz.,—A. D. 130.

We should smile to see the Apollo Belvedere with “glasses on his nose,”—as many of our young ape-ollos now wear for effect; but it would scarcely be less ridiculous than Gloster saying in Lear, “I shall not want spectacles.” King Lyr reigned during the earliest period of the Anglo-Saxon history, and spectacles were not introduced into England until the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is said that the painter Cigoli in his representation of the aged Simeon at the circumcision of Christ, made this same error by placing spectacles on the patriarch’s nose.

More ludicrous than either of the above is the painting by Albert Durer, the German artist (about 1515), of his scene, “Peter denying Christ,” wherein he represents a Roman soldier leaning against the door-post comfortably smoking a tobacco pipe. The pipe, to which Germans are particularly partial, was just being introduced during Durer’s latter years. The tobacco was not introduced into Europe until 1496, and was, when first burned, twisted together.[8]

The Spaniards, in their report on their return from the first voyage of Columbus said that “the savages would twist up long rolls of tobacco leaves, and lighting one end, smoke away like devils.” (The primitive cigar.)


Ancient Greek Authors.

Nearly all the ancient Greek physicians were authors of no mean calibre, considering the age in which they lived.

Pherecydes, a Greek philosopher and physician, wrote a book on diet during the sixth century before Christ. Pythagoras, his illustrious pupil, was said to be the first who[Pg 575] dissected animals. He wrote, and taught anatomy and physiology, in the school of Crotona. Herodotus was a great teacher and writer; also Herophilus, his pupil. (B. C. 4th century.) There were four physicians named Hippocrates. The second of that name has nearly eclipsed all the others. The period in which he lived was highly favorable to the development of the qualities of the great Hippocrates. He was contemporary with Plato, Herodotus, who was his teacher, Pericles, Socrates, Thucydides, etc.

The most notable works of Hippocrates are 1st and 3d “Books on Epidemics,” “Prognostics,” “Treatise on Air and Water,” “Regime of Acute Diseases,” and “Treatise on Wounds.”

Heraclitus, of Ephesus, is conjectured to be the first who dissected the human body. “The principle of his theory is the recognition of the fire of life and the ethereal element of wisdom as the ground of all visible existence.” Fragments of his writings, only, have been preserved. He imitated Pythagoras.

Theophrastus wrote a book on plants. He lived to be one hundred and seven years old.

Herophilus first made diagnosis by the pulse, upon which he wrote a book.

Celsus was the author of eight works, yet Pliny makes no mention of him. Galen spoke of him as an excellent physician and writer; also Bostock.

Galen was a man of great talent and education. Suidas—11th century—says he wrote no less than five hundred books on medicine, and half as many on other subjects. His native tongue was Greek, but he also wrote in Latin and Persic.

Besides medicine, the above famous physicians wrote on philosophy, history, religion, etc. Poetry in those days was little more than heroic, or epic, prose.

 [Pg 576]

The Duke answered by a Country Miss.

Since I am not writing a medical history, I need not go on to quote the long list of the names of those who from the old Greek days to the present time have been both authors and successful medical practitioners. Their bare names would fill a large volume, and who would care to read them? To the general reader they would be quite unwelcome. The reason why medical authors are so little known is, that their writings have been too wearisome for the general reader. Such English authors as the satirical Wolcot (Peter Pindar), the courteous essayist Drake, the poetical and nature-loving Davy, and the “single-hearted, affectionate” Dr. Moir, are remembered, while greater and deeper thinkers and writers are, with their works, buried in oblivion.

When the Duke of Kent was last in America (1819), he was one day taking observations in the country, when he entered a cosy little farm-house, where he noticed a pretty young girl, reading a book.

“Do you have books here, my dear?” he asked, contemptuously.

“O, yes, sir,” replied the girl naively, “we have the Bible and Peter Pindar.”

That was a model house. The Bible and fun-provoking “Peter Pindar!” Under such a roof you will find no guile. Here you will avoid the extremes of “all work and no play,” for the mind, “that makes Jack a dull boy,” and “all play and no work,” which “makes him a mere toy.”

I have visited some houses in New England where the Bible, and “Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted,” were the only books to be seen; others where nothing was to be found upon the shelves but a vile collection of novels, such as Mrs. Partington has termed “yaller-cupboard literature.” These need no comment, in either case.

 [Pg 577]

The Pilgrims and the Peas.

Our only excuse for copying this from Pindar will be found in reading the poem, slightly abbreviated. The pilgrims were ordered by the priest to do penance by walking fifty miles with peas in their shoes.

“The knaves set off upon the same day,
Peas in their shoes, to go and pray;
But very different their speed, I wot;
One of the sinners galloped on,
Light as a bullet from a gun,
The other limped as though he’d been shot.

“One saw the Virgin soon, ‘Peccavi!’ cried,
Had his soul whitewashed, all so clever,
When home again he nimbly hied,
Made fit with saints above to live forever!
[Pg 578]In coming back, however, let me say,
He met his brother rogue about half way,
Hobbling with outstretched hand and bending knees,
Cursing the souls and bodies of the peas!
His eyes in tears, his cheeks and brows in sweat,
Deep sympathizing with his groaning feet.
‘How now?’ the light-toed, whitewashed pilgrim broke;
‘You lazy lubber!’
‘You see it,’ cried the other. ‘’Tis no joke.
My feet, once hard as any rock,
Are now as soft as blubber.’

“‘But, brother sinner, do explain
How ’tis that you are not in pain;
How is’t that you can like a greyhound go,
Merry as if nought had happened, burn ye?’
‘Why,’ cried the other, grinning, ‘you must know
That just before I ventured on my journey,
To walk a little more at ease,
I took the liberty to boil my peas!’”




Little Davy again.

Sir Humphry Davy lived from 1778 to 1829. Coleridge said of him, “Had not Davy been the first chemist, he probably would have been the first poet of the age.” He made some important chemical discoveries, overworked his body and brain, and took the pen “to amuse” and recreate himself, but too late, telling us of “the pleasures and advantages of fishing,” etc.

The following verses are from the poem of Dr. David Macbeth Moir, on the death of his darling little boy, who died at the age of five years:—

“Gem of our hearth, our household pride,
Earth’s undefiled,
Could love have saved, thou hadst not died,
Our dear, sweet child!
Humbly we bow to Fate’s decree;
Yet had we hoped that time should see
Thee mourn for us, not us for thee,
Casa Wappy![9]
[Pg 579]
“The nursery shows thy pictured wall,
Thy bat, thy bow,
Thy cloak, thy bonnet, club, and ball;
But where art thou?
A corner holds thine empty chair;
Thy playthings, idly scattered there,
But speak to us of our despair,
Casa Wappy!

“Yet ’tis a sweet balm to our despair,
Fond, fairest boy,
That heaven is God’s, and thou art there,
With him in joy!
There past are death and all its woes,
There beauty’s stream forever flows,
And pleasure’s day no sunset knows,
Casa Wappy!”

“The sole purpose of poetry,” says the author of the above beautiful poem, “is to delight and instruct; and no one can be either pleased or profited by what is unintelligible. Mysticism in law is quibbling; mysticism in religion is the jugglery of priestcraft; mysticism in medicine is quackery; and these often serve their crooked purposes well. But mysticism in poetry can have no attainable triumph.” Again he says,—

“The finest poetry is that which is most patent to the general understanding, and hence to the approval or disapproval of the common sense of mankind.”

Dr. Moir enriched the pages of Blackwood’s Magazine for thirty years with his beautiful poems, and occasional prose, which, according to Professor Wilson, “breathed the simplest and purest pathos.” He practised medicine and surgery in his native village, six miles from Edinburgh, till the day of his death, which occurred in consequence of a wound caused by the upsetting of his carriage.

I find four physicians by the name of Abercromby, who were excellent physicians, and authors of no little note. One, Patrick, a Scotchman, and physician to James II., had[Pg 580] a library second to few physicians of his day. Lancisi, an Italian physician who lived at the same time, possessed a splendid library consisting of thirty thousand volumes. He discovered a set of lost plates of Eustachius, from which he published tables. Lancisi was physician to several popes, and was a master of polite literature, and an author of great distinction.


More Schoolmasters and Tailors.

Dr. Richard Blackmore (Sir)—our “schoolmaster turned doctor”—was an author of no small note. “A poet of the time of Dryden in better repute as an honest man and a physician,” says a biographer.

He should have been a man of importance, since Swift was pitted against him in “brutal verse.” Steele and Pope scribbled about the pedagogue Blackmore. Dryden, who was unable to answer him, called him “a pedant, an ass, a quack, and a cant preacher,” and he was ridiculed by the whole set of “petty scribblers, professional libellers, coffee-house rakes, and literary amateurs of the Temple who formed the rabble of the vast army against which the doctor had pitted himself in defence of public decency and domestic morality.” We have already referred to the “forty sets of ribald verses taunting him of his early poverty, which caused him to become a schoolmaster.”

Amongst his works were “Alfred,” a poem of twenty books; another of twelve books; “Hymn to Light,” “Satire against Wit,” “The Nature of Man;” “Creation,” in seven books; “Redemption,” in six books, etc.

Dr. Johnson says of Dr. Blackmore, “And let it be remembered for his honor that to have been a schoolmaster is the only reproach which all the perspicacity of malice animated by wit has ever fixed upon his private life.”

Heinrich Stilling, “a pseudonyme adopted by Heinrich Jung, in one of the most remarkable autobiographies ever[Pg 581] written,” was born about the year 1740, in Nassau. He was bred a tailor, and with his father followed his occupation until the son, by his own efforts and by the aid of his remarkable natural abilities, raised him to a more exalted position. By great efforts and diligent study he acquired a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and something of medicine, when he proceeded to the University of Strasburg. Here he remained prosecuting his studies with much diligence and zeal until he obtained not only his degree, but succeeded to the appointment of a professorship, and raised himself to eminence both by his ability as a lecturer and as an operator.

He was also an author of considerable renown, not only on medical subjects, but as a miscellaneous writer. His novel named “Theobold” is still read. He wrote a treatise on minerals.

His most remarkable production, however, was his autobiography entitled “Jugend, Junglingjahre, Wanderschaft und Alter Von Heinrich Stilling.”

Cabanis, physician to Napoleon I., was a writer of note, particularly on physiology and philosophy. His complete works were recently published in Paris, and a portion of them have been translated into English.

Bard (Samuel), physician to Washington, was an author, but his writings were principally on medicine. His father was Dr. John Bard, who, with Dr. Middleton, made at Poughkeepsie the first dissection in America.

Dr. Valentine Mott, of New York, was not only the first surgeon in America, but he was an excellent lecturer and a voluminous writer, but, as far as I can learn, having before me a complete list of his writings, almost entirely on medical subjects. Having been to Europe repeatedly, a book of travels ought to have been added to the list.

One day, in Paris, the celebrated surgeon Dr. R. —— asked Dr. Mott to visit his hospital and see him perform his peculiar operation. Dr. Mott assured the surgeon that he accepted with great pleasure.

[Pg 582]“But,” said the Frenchman, “on reflection I find there is no patient there requiring such an operation. However, that makes no difference, my dear sir. You shall see. There is a poor devil in one of the wards who is of no use to us, himself, or friends; and so come along, and I will operate upon him beautifully, beautifully,” said the famous butcher. Dr. Mott, being a humane man, declined seeing the operation on such barbarous terms.


A Difference of Opinion.

In “Surgeons of New York” Dr. Francis gives the following:—

“On asking Dr. Batchelder (then eighty-one years of age), if he had to live over his eventful life, if he would again be a doctor, he replied,—

“Yes, sir;” most positively.

Dr. Hosack’s favorite branch of practice has been general surgery. On asking him the question if he would again be a surgeon, his reply was condensed into a comprehensive


Dr. Hosack was present as examining physician to Colt, who committed suicide in the city prison. It is believed to this day, in certain circles, that Colt escaped, leaving another body smuggled into prison over night to represent him. The writer was induced once in Hartford to believe this to be true, as persons stated that they had really seen Colt in California. Dr. Hosack’s testimony makes the case clear. Colt did not escape. “It seems that when the prisoner found, at the last moment, that there was neither possibility of escaping nor the least probability of a reprieve, he induced some friend to send him a coffee-pot of hot coffee in which the dagger was concealed, and which he drove into his heart even beyond the handle.”

Dr. Hosack (Alex. Eddy) was also physician to Aaron Burr.

 [Pg 583]


[Pg 584] 

[Pg 585]“Do you never experience any contrition, at times, for the deed?” (viz., shooting Hamilton), asked Dr. H. of his patient.

“No, sir; I could not regret it. Twice he crossed my path. He brought it upon himself,” was Burr’s reply.

Mrs. H., the doctor’s mother, not unfrequently took tea and played chess of an evening with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was a funny old gentleman. He used to amuse himself by giving ether to the children of the neighborhood and letting them out under its influence to laugh at their fellow-playmates.


Some Puritanic Epitaphs.

The most ingenious of the Puritan poets was the Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, whose “Day of Doom” is the most remarkable curiosity in American literature. “He was as skilled,” says one of his biographers, “in physic and surgery as in diviner things;” and when he could neither preach nor prescribe for the physical sufferings of his neighbors,—

“In costly verse, and most laborious rhymes,
He dished up truths right worthy our regard.”

He was buried in Malden, near Boston, and his epitaph was written by Mather.


Remembered by some good tokens.

“His pen did once meat from the eater fetch;
And now he’s gone beyond the eater’s reach.
His body, once so thin, was next to none;
From hence he’s to unbodied spirits flown.
Once his rare skill did all diseases heal;
And he does nothing now uneasy feel.
He to his Paradise is joyful come,
And waits with joy to see his Day of Doom.”

[Pg 586]The last epitaph for which we have now space is from the monument of Dr. Clark, a grandson of the celebrated Dr. John Clark, who came to New England in 1630.

“He who among physicians shone so late,
And by his wise prescriptions conquered Fate,
Now lies extended in the silent grave;
Nor him alive would his vast merit save.
But still his fame shall last, his virtues live,
And all sepulchral monuments survive:
Still flourish shall his name: nor shall this stone
Long as his piety and love be known.”


“Such graves as his are pilgrim shrines,
Shrines to no code or creed confined—
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
The Meccas of the mind.”


The One-Hoss Shay.

Mr. Mundella, of the British Parliament, recently said,—

“American authors are now among the