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in port and sherry. But we would sit for hours over our modest tankards,-parsons, professors, journalists, doctors, officers, barristers, artists, as we have since become, and the innocent beer soldered our good fellowship, and helped to the rapid, careless, prolonged talk, in which we ventilated all our crude ideas of men, things, and books, and did no harm, unless perhaps in aiding some of us to erect our châteaux in Spain.'
the Consulting Physician.
IF you make up your mind to be a fashionable
physician, and really intend to aim at the topmost boughs of the profession, the first point to settle is whether you mean to live north or south of Oxford Street. I do not say that commanding ability will not win its way in Queen Anne Street or Henrietta Street, but it is a medical axiom that you ought to be as near as you can to Grosvenor Square. How sweet are those earliest guineas which the commencing physician takes! I have known the good fellows who will write you a cheque, almost to any amount, for some cause dear to their heart, but who would absolutely refuse on any terms to part with one of those particular guineas. How exultingly they gloat over the little pyramid that rises, oh! so very slowly perhaps under a glass cover or in some cherished receptacle! Those first thirty or forty guineas are destined, believe me, to no petty or vulgar use. They will be set aside for some sacred purpose. They are meant for some substantial present to father and mother, for a watch for a sister or a future bride, or perhaps for the wedding ring and the wedding tour. How pleasant it is to lounge away mornings with such men, brimful with science and wit and health and hope—men who must stay at home that they may not lose the chance of a patient, and yet with not much danger that they will suffer from that happiest of interruptions! And when they are so gloriously interrupted, there is perhaps a little pardonable affectation of delay in order to convey the impression that they are very much engaged and winning their way to eminence at a tremendous rate. Yet they will own to me that their progress is very slow without being very sure, and will sigh for the distant sound of that river of guineas which will rapidly overflow the little drawer. They sometimes forget that now is their happy prime and glorious period of leisure, with the very best opportunity for study and experiment, not to mention that now is the time when they can get up little dinner - parties at Greenwich, and frequent their clubs, and have stalls at the Opera, and take a long holiday on the Continent. O fortunati nimium, sua si bona norint. How many of us don't know when we are well off!
But, as Thackeray says, 'wait till you come to forty year.' Fifteen years have passed away, so interminable in the prospect, so rapid in retrospect, and my whilom friend, who when he began to practise had so
much of the rich, wild aroma of medical-student life about him, and groaned over his enforced leisure, and who made a pantomimic gesture of delight as he added another guinea to the magic store, is now a consulting physician of high repute. I go to call on Smith. I call him Smith because long experience of the world has shown me that the Smiths are a much more acute and able set of men than the Brownses, Joneses, and Robinsons. I find out afterwards what a very busy man Smith is. He goes to bed late, and yet he has to get up early to write. I wonder whether he ever does anything at poetry, or takes a turn at that contemplated domestic drama which was to appear at the Olympic. No! Smith has business of the most serious possible kind, which will tax all his powers to the utmost. He is a really worthy man, a man of high scientific character, which will perhaps stand still higher on a future day; not a heartless quack of the St. John Long kind, nor any fashionable humbug wafted into eminence by the caprice of the hour. He will have to write for hours before breakfast ; letters to provincial practitioners who have sent him patients; letters to old patients who have written to him for fresh instructions ; letters to unknown correspondents who are resorting to him through the imperfect medium of the post. Then till lunch-time he has to wait for the consulting patients, and then till dinner-time he has to drive out and make his calls, and after dinner
he can never call his time his own, for he may have to attend some urgent case or unexpectedly be summoned into the country, and even in the midst of hard-earned repose the night-bell may suddenly sound its alarm. In the midst of such cares there is the racking feeling that, humanly speaking, the issues of life and death are depending upon him. One of those unaccountable oversights which sometimes happen to the most wary and a life may be sacrificed ; a sudden happy thought and a remedy may be chosen which will act with the charm of a specific. “And let me tell you, my dear fellow,' said Smith, “that this kind of fluke or inspiration does sometimes happen to a fellow. There was a poor lady whom I used to attend who suffered from a frightful pain entirely out of our reach, a kind of case which probably had no precise parallel in England at the time; and suddenly one day a thought came into my mind that a particular medicine, whose action I could not even explain to myself, would act in her case like a specific, and by Jove ! sir, so it did.' For my own part, I wonder that medical men are not a wild and haggard set, instead of being, as a rule, so exceedingly composed and urbane. I must say to Smith's credit that he certainly looks rather haggard, and his brilliant laugh, which was once an illustrious institution, is now quite gone, and he now smiles seldom and smiles rather sadly.
About noon I call at Smith's house. A most