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Annual Discourse for 1861.—“The Physician and Surgeon in War.”
Annual Discourse for 1863.-" The Reality and Certainty of Medicine.”
By ALORRILL WYMAN, M.D., of Cambridge
List of Deceased Members
THE PHYSICIAN AND SURGEON IN WAR.
BY HENRY C. PERKINS, M.D.,
READ AT THE ANNUAL MEETING, MAY 29, 1861.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN :
The significant remark of Desgenettes to the French surgeon-in-chief, that it was the duty of the physician to save life, not to destroy, undoubtedly occurred to the mind of every gentleman whom I have the honor to address, as he saw the dark clouds of war gathering in the horizon, and the hosts mustering for a contest which is to decide forever the fate of that government and of those institutions under which he was born ; and under the protection of whose beloved banner he has. enjoyed that quiet rest so conducive to the cultivation of science, literature and art, and so congenial to his feelings as a friend of suffering humanity and as a Christian.
As the topic then suggested by the banners flaunting in the breeze, by the soul-stirring notes of the bugle and the distant report of the opening gun, no less than by that of the ordinary occasion which brings us from the bedside of the patient to this
friendly interview, I propose to address you upon THE DUTIES OF THE PHYSICIAN AND SURGEON IN WAR AND IN THE DAY OF BATTLE; and if my remarks should appear trite, desultory, or devoid of interest, as they may — from the shortness of time allowed for preparation, and want of experience in such an emergency-I feel that I can confidently rely upon the subject I have selected, to atone for any imperfection or want of interest you may have in the speaker; and upon your knowledge, good sense, character, patriotism and devotion to professional duties, to fill in the sketch I shall attempt to draw.
I shall discuss my topic under the following heads :
I. The duty the physician and surgeon owes himself, which involves his duty to his patient.
Il. The duty he owes his country, involving his accountability to the Great Ruler of the universe.
Educated, with few exceptions, as the present generation of physicians and surgeons have been, for the practice of their profession in civil rather than in military life, now that the hazards of war are upon us, it becomes the duty of each one to qualify himself for new scenes of action and new fields of service. It may be, that amid the din of battle and the clash of arms, the youngest and most inexperienced of our number will be first called upon to stay the ebbing tide of life, and, on the spur of the moment, to decide upon a mode of treatment which shall be for the weal or woe of his friend or brother. How indispensable, then, a