« ForrigeFortsæt »
something about everything, and everything about something." Every department of medicine must pay tribute to the one you finally select. As Iphicrates, the Athenian general said, when asked why he was so proud: "Are you a soldier, a captain, an engineer, a spy, a pioneer, a sapper, a miner?" "No," said Iphicrates, "I am none of these, but I command them all."
3. The Post-collegiate period, or that of actual practice. Commencement" is not inaptly named, for it is the beginning of the work of life. I was not idle as a student, but I am sure that I have labored twice as hard since I have had my coveted sheepskin as I ever did to get it. "In nature," says Emerson, "nothing is ever given away. Everything is bought." For some things we pay dollars, for others, time; for others, hard labor. Time and hard labor are the sure and only currency of the realm of medicine. These alone bring success. And by "success" I do not mean wealth, or influence, or fame, the presidency of this medical society, or a professorship in that medical college. Success is a relative term; related to our sphere in life and our opportunities. There is a dignity in mediocrity, as well as of greatness. The humble country doctor-like the Gideon Gray of Scott's romance-if he has kept abreast of the times by after-study, and has made the most of himself and his opportunities, has achieved true success. Let me now enumerate some of the means needful to this end; especially needful in view of the demands of the new era.
A doctor who takes no medical journal is like the business man who takes no newspaper. Years after graduation he stands just where he did when dubbed an M.D., barring a certain amount of rule-of-thumb experience he may have obtained. He is like a mariner who would stick to Fulton's antiquated steamboat instead of an Atlantic liner. The medical newspaper stands in the same relation to medical books that the daily newspaper does to works on history;
the one gives us the current events and thoughts and discoveries of the time, sometimes true, sometimes false; the other consists of the sedimentary deposits, gradually hardening into the rock of well-ascertained facts. To keep up with the rapid progress of medical science you must, therefore, first of all take as many medical journals, and also buy as many books as you can afford. Make a note of every paper of importance in an index rerum, or better by a card catalogue, such as is used in all our libraries. Skimp your table and your wardrobe that your mind may be fed and clothed. This is your capital in trade.
Carry with you into practice the habits of accuracy, the healthy use of your senses that you will begin here. Accept all the helps modern science has given and the many others yet to be added to them. Study each case, especially your early ones, till you know them as you know the topography of your own at that time too unfrequented office. One case thoroughly studied will do more to enlarge your knowledge and teach you methods than a score observed in a careless, slovenly manner. Make notes of every case you have, full notes for the important ones, slight for the trivial ones. What would I not give had some one offered me and had I heeded just this one bit of advice! Patients soon come to the man who is interested in each case, studies it thoroughly, and, therefore, as a rule, cures it surely and quickly.
Now, too, will come the time when you can remedy any defects of early education. If you do not know German and French, you should begin to acquire at least a reading knowledge of both, within a week after you have your diploma, possibly even before you get an office. You have conquered a new realm when you have acquired a new language. No medical man at the present day can, by any possibility, afford to be ignorant of at least these two. If he is, he simply must go to the rear. With these I must enter a plea for the sturdy, sonorous Latin, and if possible some Greek. Never forget
that ours is happily one of the "Learned Professions," and if we would be worthy of the name, some little classical, as well as scientific, learning should shed a halo around it. Not only are they needful for your very first prescription, and for the intelligent appreciation of most modern scientific terms, but they lead to the highest and noblest literature. If you have once tasted of the honey of Hymettus you will hardly be satisfied with the miserable stuff found in many of the current and much-be-thumbed books of the day. A literature that has dominated the world for over twenty centuries has a right to claim some of your time.
Do not shelter yourselves behind the incessant work and endless drives of a "country doctor." I fear that many of our country doctors waste enough time in gossip and profitless discussions of the crops and politics, and what not besides, to make them excellent Latin scholars at least. Even the long drives alone, if rightly used, would suffice to add one or two languages to their literary furnishing. One of the most remarkable medical pictures of the time is that given by Dr. John Brown, of Dr. Adams, of Banchory, a "country doctor" in a secluded Scotch village, with constant hard work on horseback, amid bleak hills and valleys for twenty miles around. Without ever neglecting his work he became one of the most accomplished linguists of his day, and at breakfast was fond of amusing himself by translating an ode of Horace into Greek verse.
A happy distinction has been made between the "Literature of Knowledge" and the "Literature of Power." Our science brings us so constantly into contact with the first that we are apt to neglect the second. Much of the literature of power you will find in Homer and Demosthenes, in Horace and Cicero, in Molière and Goethe; but for a wide acquaintance with it you must naturally look to our mother-tongueand, happily, you do not look in vain. Chaucer and Shakespeare, Milton and Macaulay, Tennyson and Thackeray, Whit
tier and Longfellow, Webster and Irving, and the genial Oliver Wendell Holmes-one whom our own guild ever delights to honor these will conduct you into the higher realms of thought, where you may soar undisturbed by care. "Some books," says Bacon, "are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested." Read the books that are to be eaten and assimilated.
I urge this literary culture partly because it will afford endless delight and broaden and inform the mind. In later life, when you have lost some of the fine enthusiasm of youth; when the years come that bring the philosophic mind, familiarity with such a literature will be a never-failing resource, for it never loses its charm. But I especially urge it because the new era in science demands that you be ready to report your cases, relate your discoveries, and discuss them before an intelligent public. To do this so that you will command a hearing, a good English style is indispensable. Few scientific men speak or write effectively. They are apt to be illogical in their methods, wanting in force in their arguments, discursive and inelegant in their style. If you will make the literature of power your companion, and then will write and then prune mercilessly, you will soon acquire such a command of English as will serve you many a good turn. The secret of Huxley's and of Tyndall's influence lies as much in their forceful and elegant English as in their scientific acquisitions.
Besides all these scientific and literary demands, I cannot pass by those personal qualities that the age requires of every gentleman. Cultivate, therefore, neatness of apparel, a courtesy that is so apparent that it is extended to the humblest patient in as large measure as to the rich and influential. Appreciate that yours is not a trade in which to make the most money in the least time, but a generous profession, by which, it is true, you make a living, but also do far more. You give what money cannot pay for, and for which you will often never even ask for any sordid quid pro quo. Devo
tion to duty to the neglect of self, sympathy and succor in the hours of sorrow, cheerfulness that vanquishes despair, and skill that baffles even death itself, these are not to be paid for by money, but by speaking eyes, grateful hearts, and well-cemented, lifelong friendship and devotion.
Above all, cultivate that good old virtue, "common sense." It lies back of all your science. It is the bed rock on which all success is based.
Of your moral and religious duties I may add only a word. Medicine has to do with much more than the mere healing of human infirmities and disease. Its investigations carry you far beyond the animal kingdom, away down to the lowest vegetable organisms, which bacteriology has shown to be such important factors in disease; its practice has to do with the health and highest happiness of vast communities, as well as the welfare of each individual, with all his various ties and relations, in our complex social life; and its speculations carry you far above and beyond the hour of death. We assist at the beginning of the earthly life in its frail cradle; we see its very close when we watch the last respiration and feel the last pulse-beat. That this is not the "be-all and the end-all" of a human soul, both Holy Writ and our own inner conviction imperiously assert. If we could but discern it, we have really assisted at the beginning of a second and the greater life-the Eternal Life. Mindful, then, of our high calling, we should be thoughtful and religious men, ever asking for the Divine help in our daily round of duties.
When I began writing I had intended to speak at length also of the demand of the new era in medicine upon our medical colleges. Time, however, will only allow of a brief, but most important allusion to it. To this demand the colleges are slowly responding. But the change should be more general, more rapid, and more radical.
It is one of the most healthful signs of the times that it