A Book About Doctors

By J. CORDY JEAFFRESON, Author of “Novels and Novelists,” “ Crewe Rise,” etc., etc. New York: Rudd & Carleton. 12mo.
MR. JEAFFRESON is not usually either a brilliant or a sensible man with pen in hand, albeit he dates from “ Rolls Chambers, Chancery Lane.” He is apt to select slow coaches, whenever he attempts a ride. His “Novels and Novelists” is a sad move in the “ deadly Lively ” direction, and his “Crewe Rise” has not risen to much distinction among the reading crew. In those volumes of departed rubbish he sinks very low, whenever he essays to mount; but his dulness is innoxious, for few there be who can say, “ We have read him.” His “ Book about Doctors ” is the best literary venture he has yet made. It is not a dull volume. The anecdotes so industriously collected keep attention alert, and one feels inclined to applaud Mr. Jeaffreson as the leaves of his book are turned.
Everything about Doctors is interesting. Here are a few Bible verses which it will do no harm to quote in connection with Mr. Jeaffreson’s volume : —
“Honor a physician with the honor due unto him for the uses which you have made of him: for the Lord hath created him.”
“ For of the Most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honor of the king.”
“ The skill of the physician shall lift up his head; and in the sight of great men be shall be in admiration.”
“ The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.”
It was no unwise thing in Mr. Jeaffreson to bring so many noble men together, as it were into one family. What “ names embalmed” one meets with in the collection ! Here are Sydenham, Goldsmith, Smollett, Sir Thomas Browne, and a golden line of other Doctors, nearly all the way down to our own time. (Our well-beloved M. D. [Monthly Diamond] contributor is too young to be included.) Keats is among the worthies, although he got no farther into the mysteries than the apothecary’s counter. Meeting with this interesting series of splendid medicine-men leads us to muse a good deal about the Faculty, and to reread several good anecdotes about the great symptom-watchers of the past and the present day.
When Sir Richard Blackmore asked the great Sydenham, “Prince of English physicians,” what he would advise him for medical reading, he is said to have replied, “Read Don Quixote, Sir.” Sensible and witty old man!
We are struck with the cheerful character of nearly all the M. D.s mentioned in the volume, and are Constantly reminded of the advice we once read of an old Doctor to a young one : — “Moreover, let me tell you, my young doctor friend, that a cheerful face, and step, and neckcloth, and button-hole, and an occasional hearty and kindly joke, a power of executing and setting a-going a good laugh, are stock in our trade not to be despised.”
“ I may give an instance,” says the same good-natured physician, “when a joke was more and better than itself. A comely young wife, the ‘cynosure' of her circle, was in bed, apparently dying from swelling and inflammation of the throat, an inaccessible abscess stopping the way; she could swallow nothing; everything had been tried. Her friends were standing round the bed in misery and helplessness. ‘ Try her wi’ a compliment,’ said her husband, in a not uncomic despair. She had genuine humor, as well as he ; and as physiologists know, there is a sort of mental tickling which is beyond and above control, being under the reflex system, and instinctive as well as sighing. She laughed with her whole body, and burst the abscess, and was well.”
Mr. Jeaffreson’s book might be better, but it might be worse. We cannot forgive him for his “Novels and Novelists” and his “ Crewe Rise,” two works which go far to prove their author a person of indefatigable incoherency; but we thank him for the industry which brought together so much that is very readable about Doctors.