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ERIE ST. MEDICAL COLLEGE SIXTY YEARS AGO.*
DAVID H. BECKWITH, M. D., CLEVELAND, OHIO.
Gentlemen and Members of the Cleveland Medical Library Association:
I had the pleasure of being a dinner guést at the house of your President on December sixth. At the table were six childrenhealthy, robust, red-cheeked, and with good manners, ready for the late products of the Painesville farm. This sight told me that your President had not lived in vain. Later he invited me into his beautiful library, a cozy room containing a large selection of books. Ensconced in an easy chair, an elegant Havana cigar was offered me. Having resolved when a student of medicine, never to use tobacco, this courtesy was declined. .
The conversation soon turned to medical topics and particularly to the medical library in which we both are so deeply interested. With a wise look, he said, “I invited you here not only to dine with me but also to discuss the best methods of conducting the library and how we might reduce expenses." He well knew that I am opposed to expenditures which involve any indebtedness being left at the close of the year. I suggested that we might increase the dues for membership, increase the number of members, admit to membership business men outside the profession, take fewer journals, but above all, conduct the business of the association in the most economical manner. A wise look and a gentle puff of smoke ascended heavenward. “Do you think it wise,'' he said, “to pay sixty dollars, as we did last year, for a man to give us an annual address ?” I told him that we had more than a score of men in the city who could fill the place. He said, “I have a man in mind and THOU ART THE MAN!”
* Being an address delivered by Dr. Beckwith before the Cleveland Medical Library Association, Dec., '08. A resolution was passed by the Association that the address be published in both the Cleveland Medical Journals, that reprints be made and sent to all library members, and that the address be placed in the archives of the Library.
I was astonished at his declaration and declined, saying that there were many other better fitted men in the city who would gladly comply with a request to make the address. I called his attention to my age, my not being a good speaker. He gazed at his library with its full quota of works on ancient literature. “Doctor," he said, “you have no doubt read that in the reign of Imperial Vespasian there were many men of thought and action who held body and mind together many, many years. Cato Censorius at the age of seventy-nine years transacted a large business with great success. Plato at the age of eighty-two devoted his last hours to intellectual work. Chrysippus in his seventieth year wrote his work on logic, Sophocles in his eightieth year produced one of the greatest tragedies ever written. Quintius Fabius when past middle age was appointed to a high office which he held' for more than forty years. Hiero, King of Sicily, lived to be ninety years of age. Massinissa was a ruler for sixty years. Cicero did great work in extreme old age. Xenophanes, the Pythagorian, reached his ninetieth year and said his last years were his happiest. Goethe, Pindar, Colon, Newton, Socrates, all did good work in their old age. Harvey, when he discovered the circulation of the blood had passed his eightieth milestone. Michel Angelo did his superb mural paintings in Rome at an advanced age. Isaac Walton had a ready pen at ninety. Hahnemann at the age of ninety-one years was still in practice and actively at work on his materia medica. Call to your mind the age of many of the popes.” Turning to his medical library, he said, “I can cite to you the names of many physicians who did good work at an advanced age. And now, sir, look at our own country. Our dear Doctor Howard's uncle did major operations in surgery at the age of eighty-four and continued his office work until the age of eighty
I called a halt. His auto-suggestion had entered my brain. I yielded. I assure you that I was astonished at his knowledge of history and his recollections of the ancients. If I could have our mayor with his magnetic power, as the clergyman and our Doctor Sherman as the physician, I could heal thousands with this combination of “Religion and Medicine" and build the finest church in the city. Medicine and theology would lead the van.
You may be interested in some recollections of the first medical college in northern Ohio and of the men connected with that. institution. I shall present a brief sketch of them as I knew them sixty years ago. 1 A farmer's boy, in a lumber wagon, I came to this city from