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There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd: the soldier, the sailor, and the shepherd not infrequently; the artist rarely; rarelier still, the clergyman; the physician almost as a rule. He is the flower (such as it is) of our civilization; and when that stage of man is done with, and only to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little, as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race. Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who practise an art, never to those who drive a trade; discretion, tested by a hundred secrets; tact, tried in a thousand embarrassments; and what are more important, Heraclean cheerfulness and courage. So that he brings air and cheer into the sick room, and often enough, though not so often as he wishes, brings healing.
Robert Louis Stevsnon. Preface to Underwoods.
Think not Silence the wisdom of Fools, but, if rightly timed, the honour of wise Men, who have not the Infirmity, but the Virtue of Taciturnity, and speak not out of the abundance, but the well-weighed thoughts of their Hearts. Such Silence may be Eloquence, and speak thy worth above the power of Words. SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
DOCTOR AND NURSE1
THERE are individualsdoctors and nurses, for ex amplewhose very existence is a constant reminder of our frailties; and considering the notoriously irritating character of such people, I often wonder that the world deals so gently with them. The presence of the parson suggests dim possibilities, not the grim realities conjured up by the names of the persons just mentioned; the lawyer never worries usin this way, and we can imagine in the future a social condition in which neither divinity nor law shall have a placewhen all shall be friends and each one a priest, when the meek shall possess the earth; but we cannot picture a time when Birth and Life and Death shall be separated from that "grizzly troop" which we dread so much and which is ever associated in our minds with " physician and nurse."
Dread! Yes, but mercifully for us in a vague and misty way. Like schoolboys we play among the shadows cast by the turrets of the temple of oblivion, towards which we travel, regardless of what awaits us in the vale of years beneath. Suffering and disease are ever before us, but life is very pleasant; and the motto of the world, when well, is "forward with the dance." Fondly imagin-
1 Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1891.
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ing that we are in a happy valley, we deal with ourselves as the King did with the Gautama, and hide away everything that suggests our fate. Perhaps we are wise. Who knows? Mercifully, the tragedy of life, though seen, is not realized. It is so close that we lose all sense of its proportions; And better so; for, as George Eliot has said, "if we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow, or the squirrels heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence."
With many, however, it is a wilful blindness, a sort of fools paradise, not destroyed by a thought, but by the stern exigencies of life, when the "ministers of human fate" drag us, orworse stillthose near and dear to us, upon the stage. Then, we become acutely conscious of the great drama of human suffering, and of those inevitable stage accessories-doctor and nurse.
If, Members of the Graduating Class, the medical profession, composed chiefly of men, has absorbed a larger share of attention and regard, you have, at least, the satisfaction of feeling that yours is the older, and, as older, the more honourable calling. In one of the lost books of Solomon, a touching picture is given of Eve, then an early grandmother, bending over the little Enoch, and showing Mahala how to soothe his sufferings and to allay his pains. Woman, "the link among the days," and so trained in a bitter school, has, in successive generations, played the part of Mahala to the little Enoch, of Elaine to the wounded Lancelot. It seems a far cry from the plain of Mesopotamia and the lists of Camelot to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, but the spirit which makes this scene
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possible is the same, tempered through the ages, by the benign influence of Christianity. Among the ancients, many had risen to the idea of forgiveness of enemies, of patience under wrong doing, and even of the brotherhood of man; but the spirit of Love only received its incarnation with the ever memorable reply to the ever memorable question, Who is my neighbour ?a reply which has changed the attitude of the world; Nowhere in ancient history, sacred or profane, do we find pictures of devoted heroism in women such as dot the annals of the Catholic Church, or such as can be paralleled in our own century. Tender maternal affection, touching filial piety were there; but the spirit abroad was that of Deborah not Rizpah, of Jael not Dorcas.
In the gradual division of labour, by which civilization has emerged from barbarism, the doctor and the nurse have been evolved, as useful accessories in the incessant warfare in which man is engaged. The history of the race is a grim record of passions and ambitions, of weaknesses and vanities, a record, too often, of barbaric in-humanity, and even to-day, when philosophers would have us believe his thoughts had widened, he is ready as of old to shut the gates of mercy, and to let loose the dogs of war. It was in one of these attacks of race-mania that your profession, until then unsettled and ill-defined, took, under Florence Nightingaleever blessed be her nameits modern position.
Individually, man, the unit, the microcosm, is fast bound in chains of atavism, inheriting legacies of feeble will and strong desires, taints of blood and brain. What wonder, then, that many, sore let and hindered in running the
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race, fall by the way, and need a shelter in which to recruit or to die, a hospital, in which there shall be no harsh comments on conduct, but only, so far as is possible, love and peace and rest? Here, we learn to scan gently our brother man, judging not, asking no questions, but meting out to all alike a hospitality worthy of the Hotel Dieu, and deeming ourselves honoured in being allowed to act as its dispensers. Here, too, are daily before our eyes the problems which have ever perplexed the human mind; problems not presented in the dead abstract of books, but in the living concrete of some poor fellow in his last round, fighting a brave fight, but sadly weighted, and going to his account "unhouselld, disappointed, unaneld, no reckoning made." As we whisper to each other over his bed that the battle is decided and Euthanasia alone remains, have I not heard in reply to that muttered proverb, so often on the lips of the physician, "the fathers have eaten sour grapes," your answer, in clear accents the comforting words of the prayer of Stephen?
But our work would be much restricted were it not for mans outside adversaryNature, the great Moloch, which exacts a frightful tax of human blood, sparing neither young nor old; taking the child from the cradle, the mother from her babe, and the father from the family. Is it strange that man, unable to dissociate a personal element from such work, has incarnated an evil principle the devil? If we have now so far outgrown this idea as to hesitate to suggest, in seasons of epidemic peril, that "it is for our sins we suffer "when we know the drainage is bad; if we no longer mock the heart prostrate in the grief of loss with the words "whom
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the Lord loveth He chasteneth "when we know the milk should have been sterilizedif, I say, we have, in a measure, become emancipated from such teachings, we have not yet risen to a true conception of Nature. Cruel, in the sense of being inexorable, she may be called, but we can no more upbraid her great laws than we can the lesser laws of the state, which are a terror only to evildoers. The pity is that we do not know them all; in our iguorance we err daily, and pay a blood penalty. Fortunately it is now a great and growing function of the medical profession to search out the laws about epidemics, and these outside enemies of man, and to teach to you, the public dull, stupid pupils you are, too, as a rulethe ways of Nature, that you may walk therein and prosper.
It would be interesting, Members of the Graduating Class, to cast your horoscopes. To do so collectively you would not like; to do so individuallyI dare not; but it is safe to predict certain things of you, as a whole. You will be better women for the life which you have led here. But what I mean by "better women" is that the eyes of your souls have been opened, the range of your sympathies has been widened, and your characters have been moulded by the events in which you have been participators during the past two years.
Practically there should be for each of you a busy, useful, and happy life; more you cannot expect; a greater blessing the world cannot bestow. Busy you will certainly be, as the demand is great, both in private and public, for women with your training. Useful your lives must be, as you will care for those who cannot care for themselves, and who need about them, in the day of tribulation, gentle
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hands and tender hearts. And happy lives shall be yours, because busy and useful; having been initiated into the great secretthat happiness lies in the absorption in some vocation which satisfies the soul; that we have here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life.
And, finally, remember what we areuseful supernumeraries in the battle, simply stage accessories in the drama, playing minor, but essential, parts at the exits and entrances, or picking up, here and there, a strutter, who may have tripped upon the stage. You have been much by the dark river so near to us all and have seen so many embark, that the dread of the old boatman has almost disappeared, and
your passport shall be the blessing of Him in whose footsteps you have trodden, unto whose sick you have ministered, and for whose children you have cared.
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