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decorous servant in black, with an extraordinary command of facial muscles that enables him to assume an expression of gentle condolence, ushers me into the waiting-room, which is marked off by a folding-door from the consulting-room. There are about a dozen persons waiting. One or two of them are dead men, that is, positive incurables. Others are dead men in a much milder sense, in the sense that they will bring no profit to Dr. Smith. One is an author making his thousand a year, but though well able to pay, Dr. Smith will follow the wholesome rule of not taking a fee from a literary man. There is no similar rule in the case of that hard-worked curate, but nevertheless Dr. Smith will take no fee from him. Neither in the case of that hectic, consumptive-looking girl, of the governess class, will any fee be taken. A mere fee has ceased to be a matter of importance or even of interest to Dr. Smith. Of course the aggregate of fees is enormously important to him, but a single fee, or a few fees more or less, will be of a very slender consideration to him. In the case of the incurables I have mentioned, let it not be thought that their visit to the consulting physician will be of no avail, for he will assure them all the arts and appliances by which distressing symptoms may be modified and life be rendered more tolerable and prolonged.
Now, this large waiting room is of a heavy kind, in a heavy street, and with heavy furniture. Some of those who are
waiting appear to be sad enough, but others are so cheerful and conversational that their ailments must be light indeed, or perhaps they are only attending on behalf of invalid friends. There is some little murmuring of discontent, for a man has been closeted with the doctor for the last three-quarters of an hour. His case is a very complicated one, and the doctor will not be hurried in his diagnosis. Then one or two cases are disposed of with what appears to be incredible rapidity, but they are perfectly plain to the doctor, and the patients have the perfect confidence that they will get whatever time they really require.
Smith calls me in. As the folding-door opens, there is a slight murmur of dissatisfaction from a military man who has been waiting impatiently during all the time that the obscure case has been undergoing investigation.
* This is not a medical visit,' said Smith, in courteous explanation to the army man, and you shall not be detained five minutes.' Then Smith grasped me heartily by the hand. "Up to the eyes in business, old fellow,' said he, but so very glad to see you ! Rather different from the first three years, when all my guineas clubbed together hardly bought Lucy her watch.' Then came a lot of hurried questions. I rose to go, and I noted that Smith had an eye upon his watch all this time. We have only had three minutes,' said Smith, glancing at the hand, and there
are two more to spare.' I had no idea that so much talking might be compressed into two minutes. · But come and dine here to-night. Seven.'
I am there sharp at seven. I don't suppose that Smith is one of those unsatisfactory seven for eight sort of people. Mrs. Smith (or Bella Dale that was) receives me, and says her husband will be in directly. So he is; rather anxious looking and jaded. He is not altogether acclimatised to this sort of work, but that will come by and by. He caresses his children, and affectionately smooths his wife's hair. Now, this is the most extraordinary thing of all. That afternoon Smith had been attending some desperate fever cases -typhus and scarlatina—and a case of small-pox. And yet his wife rejoices in that loving touch, and his children will not be restrained from his caresses. I wonder if Lucy Smith feels quite comfortable. I wonder if Smith himself does. Smith afterwards owns to me that at times he feels a little uneasy ; but he takes every precaution, and knows that he is doing his duty ; he trusts to Providence, and keeps his powder dry. I am the first to arrive; but Mrs. Smith tells me that they have a few friends. “We often have a few friends,' said Lucy ; ‘he says that a pleasant little dinner-party freshens him up, and is a most enjoyable part of the day.'
We go down to dinner. It is laid in the large dining-room where I saw all the visitors that morning.
That heavy room is transformed into a blaze of light and splendour. How odd and grim is life, so hard and violent in its ever-recurring contrasts ! crew of spectres, and enter a crew of revellers ! There, in that part of the room where the hectic governess sat, is a beautiful young creature in high health, and with a glowing expression of happiness. As she raises her glass of champagne to her lips, she is a fairy embodiment of the health and prosperity of this world. There is the great Sir Ralston Taylor. He was the great Court physician once, with an enormous practice; but his day is almost over now, and he is heartily glad that such should be the case. He is a fine example of what judicious self-preservation will accomplish. If people only understood the art of self-preservation there would be no need to consult physicians. There is also a very rising surgeon present, who has recently gained immortal glory by inventing the most horrible kind of operation which it could ever enter into the human mind to conceive. Sir Ralston tells us one of his Court anecdotes.
The anecdote was mild; but we like Sir Ralston's Court stories, especially one that does honour to the royal discernment. Then the great surgeon told a story about Abernethy. It is very odd, but did you ever spend an evening with a set of medical men without hearing a story about Abernethy? I almost think I can defy you to say you have. It shows that he was a great and good man; and also what remarkable force of character he possessed, that he has so permanently taken possession of the medical mind. I asked Smith about the army man, the consideration of whose case I had for a few minutes retarded that morning. ‘A case of approximate del. trem., Smith
' explains. “Knocked him off to a pint bottle of bitter beer and two glasses of sherry per dien. A man of clubs and messes; always in a state of brandy and soda; begins to hear noises and see serpents. Told him to go down into the country and see his old father.' I asked Smith, rather seriously, whether he will come right again by and by. Smith thinks that the chances are about five hundred to one against him. 'A man like that has got no bones in his character, explains Smith. Soddened and sottish, he has sapped all powers of mind and strength of resolution. He will pick up for a few months, perhaps ; but in reality he was the saddest of all the cases I had this morning, and some of them were very distressing.'
I have had several talks with Smith since about the people who consult him. They are not all sad cases. It is a savage satisfaction to him, he says, when people come to him whose real error is over-eating and overdrinking, to act in accordance with Abernethy's savage prescription, although he is obliged to use a more conciliatory mode. So also he is pleased to pay a daily visit to a certain rich old dowager. She is not ill,