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XLIII.

CIVIL AND MILITARY SURGEONS.

PR

REVIOUSLY to the late war the medical profession in this country was divided into the civil and military, and these two branches were unfortunately widely separated. This estrangement was due to circumstances, and not to prejudice or partisan feeling. The graduate who entered the army was of necessity immediately withdrawn from the circle of social as well as professional life, and assigned to duty at some remote frontier station far beyond the bounds of civilization. Here he was detained often for years, completely shut out from all intercourse with his brethren, and thus was lost to the profession in civil life. Whoever has mingled familiarly with civil and military surgeons must have noticed certain marked differences between them. We will allude to the two most patent. And, first, the great advantages for improvement in the practical duties of his profession, which the civil surgeon enjoys in contrast with the military, necessarily gives the former a more extensive and profound knowledge of his art. The civil surgeon is constantly stimulated to study and investigation, and is called upon

hourly to apply his knowledge practically. He could not if he would avoid the daily lessons which are pressed upon his attention. He lives in an atmosphere charged with the vitalizing influences of professional success, and if he fail, his failure is due to his own incapacity or indolence. But the surgeon who enters the army resigns, at the very threshold of his career, every hope, and, in truth, every aspiration for future eminence in the knowledge of the science and art of medicine. He is at once removed far from all the facilities for scientific investigation, and his sphere of observation is narrowed to the smallest possible circle. He forsakes every incentive to study and every association for improvement, and consigns himself to the aimless routine of a pioneer. He is not allowed vacations for travel, observation, and study, but throughout his whole professional life remains isolated and steadily confined to his duties. It is not surprising that, though the Army Examining Board has always selected the best qualified graduates, the scientific and practical character of the Medical Staff falls considerably below that of the profession in civil life. If now we compare the moral tone of the two classes of surgeons, we find the contrast equally great, but quite reversed. The average of civil practitioners have not that high and unwavering sense of the dignity of their calling which characterizes their brethren in the military service It is not entirely through the

ignorance of those who practice it that, in our day, medicine occupies an inferior position; much is due to the want of a higher moral tone and sentiment, and a more correct appreciation of the dignity and sacredness of the physician's duties. Too many practice their art as a mere trade, and comparatively few are found willing under all circumstances to defend it against the machinations of charlatanry. Social intercourse and the power of gain seem gradually to detract from its honorable character, and we find it too often prostituted to unworthy purposes. But when we turn to the medical staff of the regular army, as formerly constituted, the change is as marked as it would be if we entered the ranks of another profession. The whole body is pervaded by a common sentiment of loyalty to, and even veneration for, their calling. Under the rigid discipline of the former chiefs, who, whatever their faults, had a nice sense of honor, and compelled all who came within their jurisdiction to appreciate it, there was infused into the whole staff, in a remarkable degree, a personal dignity and a regard for official and professional character. All the representatives of the staff, make those who approach them feel that they are in the presence of men who hold in proper esteem their official position and profession. Indeed, we believe that in the ranks of the old corps of the regular army were to be found the best representatives of the true

dignity of our art. The whole body was penetrated with a regard for its honor and worth so profound and all-pervading that no moral delinquencies could be tolerated. Members were thus placed under an obligation to sustain the high character of the staff, which acted as a most powerful restraint upon their conduct. The result of this discipline was the gradual elevation of the character of the surgeon, until he occupied an enviable position in the army. The medical officer was everywhere regarded as the soul of honor, and as a model of official integrity. He was marked as a gentleman of education and refinement, and the most implicit confidence was reposed in him. There was that esprit de corps which made the staff a unit in the preservation of its dignity. Whoever seriously offended lost rank and position even in his own estimation, and sooner or later concealed his shame in retirement from the army. The war brought about a remarkable commingling of the two sections of the medical profession. The civil practitioner entered the army, and the army surgeon returned from the frontier post. The two branches of a common stock again became united, and it is a matter of no small interest to notice how favorably they reacted upon each other. The members of the regular army rapidly advanced in a knowledge of the science and art of surgery; while the civil surgeon became animated by a higher sentiment of loyalty to his profession.

LXIV.

NEW SCHOOL OF OBSTETRICS.

P

RACTICAL Surgery is evidently, at the present time, thoroughly committed to conservatism. This rule of practice is so firmly established, that no one would risk his reputation by even the suspicion that he did not fully and heartily assent to it. The same may be said of practical medicine, which, long since adopted expectancy as its governing principle, and all representatives of the most advanced views in this branch of physic accept it as a safe if not a universal guide. But what is the tendency of modern obstetric medicine? Time was when the ruling motto among accoucheurs ran thus, "meddlesome midwifery is bad." So earnestly was this idea inculcated by obstetrical professors, that if a graduate forgot everything else, this terse sentence rang in his ears every time he approached the lying-in chamber. Many will remember during their natural lives the vehemence with which an eccentric professor, twenty years ago, denounced the forceps, and, incidentally, in language not less severe, the practitioner who would use them. Language failing to give full expression to his contempt of obstetrical opera

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