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tion, which means delay, but for me, I am ready to act now, and for my action I am ready to answer to my conscience, my country, and my God.
FIFTH CLASS — SOCIAL
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Oliver Wendell Holmes, an eminent writer in prose and verse, was born in Cambridge, Mass., August 29, 1809, and died at Boston, Mass., October 7, 1894. This extract is from a speech delivered by Mr. Holmes at the dinner of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Boston, May, 1856.
T is the peculiar privilege of occasions like the
present to indulge in such reasonable measure of self-congratulation as the feeling of the hour may inspire. The very theory of the banquet is that it crowns the temples with roses and warms the heart with wine, so that the lips may speak more freely and the ears may listen more lovingly, and our better natures brought into close communion for an hour may carry away the fragrance of friendship mingled with the odor of the blossoms that breathed sweet through the festal circle.
We have suppressed the classical accompaniments of good-fellowship, but we claim all its license. Nor are we alone in asserting a title to this indulgence. Of all the multitudinous religious associations that are meeting around us, I have yet to learn that there is one which does not assert or assume its own peculiar soundness in the faith. I have seen a black swan and a white crow in the same collection, but I never heard of a political assembly where all its own crows were not white, and all the swans of all the other political aviaries were not blacker than midnight murder or noonday ruffianism.
The few words I have to speak are uttered more freely because my relations with the medical profession are incidental rather than immediate and intimate. My pleasant task is all performed in the porch of the great temple where you serve daily. I need not blush then to speak the praises of the divine art, even if you should blush to hear them.
I hear it said from time to time that the physician is losing his hold on the public mind. I believe this remark belongs to a class of sayings that repeat themselves over and over, like the Japanese machine-made
which travellers tell us of, and with about as much thought in them. There are country people that are always saying there is a great want of rain — they would have said so in Noah's flood — for the first fortnight, at least; there are city folks for whom business
is always dull and money is always tight; there are politicians that always think the country is going to ruin, and there are people enough that will never believe there are any good old-fashioned snow storms” nowadays, until they have passed a night in the cars between a couple of those degenerate snow banks they despise so heartily. There are many things of this sort which are said daily, which always have been said, and always will be said, with more or less of truth, but without any such portentous novelty as need frighten us from our propriety.
We need not go beyond our own limits, Mr. President, to find ample reason for proclaiming boldly that the medical profession was never more truly honored or more liberally rewarded than at this very time and in this very place. There never lived in this community a practitioner held in more love and veneration by all his professional brethren and by the multitude who have profited by his kind and wise counsel than he who, having soothed the last hours of his long cherished friend and associate, still walks among us bearing his burden of years so lightly that he hardly leans upon the staff he holds ; himself a staff upon which so many have leaned through fifty faithful years of patient service. Talk about the success of the unworthy pretender as compared with that of the true physician why, what man could ever have built up such a fame among us, if he had not laid as its cornerstone, truth, fidelity, honor, humanity all cemented with the courtesy that binds these virtues together in one life-long inseparable union.
Do you complain of the failing revenues of the profession? I question whether from the time when Boylston took his pay in guineas, through the days when John Warren the elder counted his gains in continental currency, looking well in the ledger and telling poorly at the butcher's and the baker's, there was ever a prettier pile made daily than is built up by one of our living brethren who fought his way up stream until the tide turned and wafted him into reputation, which makes his labors too much for one man and something over two horses. The success of one such diligent and faithful practitioner is the truest rebuke to charlatanism. It is a Waterloo triumph, a Perry's victory, not over the squadrons of Lake Erie, but the piratical craft of Quack-ery.
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR
Charles Dickens, the marvellous novelist of humble life, was born in Portsmouth, England, February 7, 1812, and died in London, England, June 9, 1870. He commenced his literary career, with “ Sketches by Boz," when he was twenty-one years old, and it extended, with wonderful success, over a period of thirty-seven years. His childhood was passed in poverty and hardship, he had little schooling, and was what is styled a self-educated man, Not only was he a great writer, but he was gifted with talent for acting, and amassed large sums by reading from his works in England and America. He was a man of fine appearance, possessed a beautifully modulated voice, and much dramatic power.
HERE was once a child, and he strolled about
a good deal, and thought of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and his constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water; they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely world.
They used to say to one another, sometimes : Supposing all the children upon earth were to die, would the flowers, and the water, and the sky be