« FöregåendeFortsätt »
timent, much to the discomfort of the Tory vicar, his father. He rapidly progressed through the successive stages of advancement, as Demonstrator of Anatomy, Lecturer, Surgeon to the Hospital, the first surgeon in the city, Surgeon in the West End, Surgeon to the Duke of York, and finally to a Baronetcy and the position of Surgeon Extraordinary to the King. Sir Astley Cooper was by nature cool and intrepid, of a phlegmatic temperament, and acknowledged by his biographer to have been incapable of very warm attachments. He was purely practical, averse to theory and imaginative speculation. We trace here the elements of his distinction as a surgeon. Surgery, unlike Medicine, is a certain science, and deals with the practical, appealing to the eye for its knowledge, and to the skill and nerve of the hand for its application. Sir Astley Cooper was a great surgeon but a poor physician. He was sensibly alive to his own interest, and left no opportunity unimproved to advance. his position. His first impulse, on recovering from an attack of giddiness which had laid him prostrate at the feet of an influential patient, was an injunction of silence. And we read, that, upon discovering that his political opinions were inimical to his worldly progress, he abandoned them and the intimacy of his democratical friends, without a passing regret. Such was the worldliness of an essentially worldly character-an appropriate step to his future elevation as the Surgeon of the Court.
Sir Astley Cooper's fame as a surgeon brought with it the more substantial satisfaction of a large income. His average annual receipts, for many years, amounted to seventy-five thousand dollars; and for one year his income reached the enormous sum of a hundred thousand. Nowhere but in London does professional merit meet with so high a reward; in Paris, no surgeon derives from his practice an income beyond twenty thousand dollars; and twelve thousand is near the limit of that of the most successful in New York. In accordance with our truly commercial spirit, the relation of
patient and physician is very similar to that of debtor and creditor, an affair of ade, accompanied with the usual business details, of bills rendered, receipts given, and the other et-cetera of a trading transaction, while in London, the reward of the surgeon is left to the generous impulse of his patient. The following extract will illustrate the generosity of the princely merchants of London:
"In the year 1813, my uncle [says the biographer] performed the operation for stone upon Mr. Hyatt, a West Indian merchant, who presented him with a fee of a thousand guineas. Mr. Hyatt had recovered from the effects of the opera- . tion and necessary confinement to the house, when a day was appointed by him, for the last formal visit of the medical men. My uncle arrived rather late, and the physicians, Dr. Lettsom and Dr. Nelson, had already seen the patient, and were talking upon the liberality of his remuneration for their services, he having presented them each with £300. Cooper therefore went up alone, talked to Mr. Hyatt, congratulated him on his recovery, and listened with emotion to the grateful expressions which he poured forth towards him as his benefactor. At last, he rose to leave the room, and had reached the door, when his patient, who was sitting by the fire, took off his nightcap and threw it at him, saying, at the same time, There, young man, put that in your pocket.' My uncle, however, guessing the contents of the missile, inserted his hand, and took out from it a piece of paper; chucking the cap to his patient, and at the same time saying,
that he would not rob him of so useful an article, he put the paper into his pocket, and took his departure. On subsequently examining it, he found it to be a check for one thousand guineas. The liberality of Mr. Hyatt was no less remarkable to his apothecary. One day, on running in haste to his patient, he fell and hurt his knee, so that he walked lame on entering. Mr. Hyatt, observing this, immediately asked, 'Dobson, old fellow, what's the matter?' and on hearing the nature of the accident, remarked, as he opened a box, I have here the best plaister in the world for a bruised knee.' He then, drawing out a £100 bank note, applied it over the injured joint, and desired him to keep it there.*
• The most liberal fee of modern times was that received by Dr. Dimsdale, of Hertford. His celebrity as an inoculator in the small pox, recommended him to the Empress Catharine, at whose invitation he visited Russia. His successful inoculation of the Empress and her son was rewarded with the rank of Baron of the Empire, besides a pension of £500 per annum, and a present of £12,000.
VOL YILNO LVIII
The position of Sir Astley Cooper as a lecturer brought him into relation with the Resurrectionists, to whom, previous to the passage of the Anato my Act, the anatomist was indebted for his supply of subjects. These men were a bold, adventurous class, har dened by their loathsome and illegal occupation, who allowed no scruple to oppose the success of their trade. They were continually skulking about grave yards, concealed themselves in the
vaults and charnel houses, and resorted
to every device to supply themselves with the material of their disgusting commerce. An extensive trade was carried on by some of the most expert, who contrived not only to supply the home demand in London, but to ship, packed in crates and hogsheads, quantities of dead bodies to the provinces, to Dublin and Edinburgh. A few of these adventurers amassed large sums of money, while the most of them terminated their lives less fortunately, after a career of horse-stealing, burglary, murder, upon the gallows, or in the penal colonies. The following is a specimen of the extraordinary methods resorted to by the bodysnatchers, for a supply of dead bodies:
replaced, carefully screwed down, the pall thrown over it, and the box containing the body passed out of the window to Patrick, who hid it in a tool house at some distance from the dwelling-place."
"An intimate friend of Patrick's (a famous resurrectionist) was employed in the service of a gentleman. One day this man called on Patrick, and informed him that his master was dead, and that he thought something in the way of business might be done with the body, as it was lying in the back parlor, the windows of which opened on a large lawn. Patrick made several inquiries, and having ascertained that the funeral was to take place on the following Sunday, said in conclusion, The coffin, then, will, most probably, be screwed down on Saturday; if it is, let me know; I will have nothing to do with it till that part of the work is done.' Things fell out as Patrick anticipated; and accordingly on the night of Saturday, he entered at the back of the premises, and, being admitted to the parlor by the servant, commenced his operations. Unassisted by any light, he drew out all the screws, took off the lid, and, having formed an estimate, as accurately as the circumstances would allow, of the weight of the body, removed it into a box which he had brought with him for the purpose of containing it. He next placed in the coffin a quantity of earth, which the servant had procured from the garden, corresponding to the weight of the corpse. The lid was then
We are presented in these volumes with some records left by Sir Astley Cooper, of his impressions and opinions of his royal patient, George the Fourth. These are but shadowy and imperfect sketches, seemingly memoranda dotted down for his own behoof. Our surgeon had removed a tumor from the royal scalp;
"The King bore the operation well, requested that there might be no hurry, and when it was finished, said, 'What do you call the tumor?' I said, A steatome, Sire." Then,' said he, I hope it will stay at home, and not annoy me any more.""
Truly a royal pleasantry!-only fit to raise a smile upon a courtier's lip. We continue these extracts:
"When he returned from Scotland and
Ireland, he said, 'The Scotch were a worldly, respectable people, but,' said he, the Irish are all heart. You would have been delighted to have seen their enthusiasm.' The impression the Irish had made upon him was of the most affectionate character, and, but that he soon forgot, [the italics are ours] he would have done something for that fine country and people."
But that he soon forgot; how clearly these words illustrate the heartlessness of princes, and that of George the Fourth, the most heartless of them all. Sir Astley seems to have entertained the most exalted notion of the mental capabilities of his royal patient.
"The abilities of George the Fourth were of the first order. He would have made the first physician or surgeon of his time, the first lawyer, the first speaker in the House of Commons or Lords, though perhaps not the best divine. As a king he was prosperous, for he had the good sense to be led by good ministers, although, however, he did not like them all. The king was indolent, and therefore disposed to yield to avoid trouble; nervous, and therefore anxious to throw every onus from his own shoulders. He was the most perfect gentleman in his manners and address; possessing the finest person, with the most dignified and gracious condescension, yet excessively proud; familiar himself, but shocked at it in
others; violent in his temper, yet naturally kind in his disposition. I have seen him spurn from him, yet in ten minutes say, that he liked nobody so much about him, and that no one but he should do anything for him. George the Fourth had an extraordinary memory,―he recollected all that he had read or seen,and had the faculty of quickly comprehending everything. If he saw an engine, he would describe not only its principles of action, but enter minutely into its construction. He could recount anecdotes of everybody, and could quote the beauties of almost all the works, in prose or verse, in English literature. He also prided himself on his knowledge of Latin, being, in fact, an excellent classic, and frequently quoted Horace. He was a good historian, being fully conversant with the history not only of his own country, but of all Europe. I once said, 'Sire, are you familiar with the fate of Henrietta Maria, after the death of Charles the First? It is to be
found, I believe, in Pennant.' 'Oh,' he said, 'read De Grammont; there you will find all about her, together with the history of those times, well described and minutely given.' Dates also in history he could well recollect, and it was dangerous to differ with him concerning them, as he was sure to be right. The connexions and families of the nobility he was quite familiar with. He spoke German and French as well as his own language, and knew a little of others. With respect to Greek, his father, he said, would not let him go on with it, and so accounted for his deficiency in that language. He spoke remarkably well, but did not write so well, because he would not give himself the trouble, and therefore always sought assistance from others. His life had been, since the age of sixteen, conversational, from which time he had given very little attention to writing or composition. He often awoke early, and read from five or six o'clock in the mornin until nine or ten, and thus he became acquainted with all the new books, which he read of every description, novels, pamphlets, voyages, travels, plays; and he liked to talk of
Verily, a most imposing array of princely accomplishments! All this glowing description must be taken cum grano salis. Sir Astley's own accomplishments were not sufficiently extensive to render him a very capable judge of mental endowments in others, nor was his abandonment of his liberal principles calculated to make him a less partial judge of kingly attainment. We have not much faith in the opinion
that George the Fourth was a prodigy of learning and wisdom, though he quoted Horace, and had read De Grammont. The licentious poet and lascivious historian appeal to other than intellectual tastes. We believe his majesty to have possessed a ready conversational talent, much miscellaneous and gossiping information, and a memory tenacious of personal anecdote and scandal. We do not suppose that his attainments were other than of the most superficial character, that he knew much more of Latin than of Greek, or that he was capable of high intellectual effort. Sir Astley seems to confirm, in his statement of the king's inability to write, the well-founded opinion (we believe) that he could not spell. He he had none of the nature of the higher may have been every inch a king, but man. George the Fourth was endowed by nature with a fine person, was of a lofty and imposing stature, and welldeveloped figure. He possessed the grace and ease of the finished man of the world. How far he was entitled to the character of the high-minded gentleman, the man of truth, of courteous bearing, of pure and lofty converse, of kind sympathies, and chastened tastes, we leave our readers to judge by our closing extracts:
"The king used to say, as soon as Lord Liverpool went out of the room, What an
awkward creature that is!' and then he
mimicked all his peculiarities, so as to produce a laugh against him. The king would sometimes be coarse in his conversation and anecdotes, but, again, nobody could be more refined and polished when he chose.-He chatted with me for half an hour or an hour, and was generally very agreeable, although now and then irritable. He was not strictly attentive to facts, but embellished all his stories, to render them more amusing, so that it would not answer always to repeat his sayings of others. When ill, the king would never allow that it was caused by his own im
prudence. One morning his tongue was white, and he was much heated. By G-d,' said he, it is very extraordinary that I should be thus heated, for I lived very abstemiously, and went to bed in good
time. I must have some beaume de vie, sir.' When we went out of the room, w said, 'You must not professionally act upon what his majesty has said; he was drinking maraschino at two o'clock this morning.' The king was irregular in his times for eating and drinking. Bring
me cold chicken,' he would say at eleven, before he rose. Yes, sire.' Bring it, and give me a goblet of soda-water.' Soon after he ate again, and at dinner largely ; but he did not in general drink much at dinner, unless tempted by the society of
men he liked. "Lord
said, that George the Fourth and the Duke of York, although generally avis were fond of having money in their bureau, which they did not like to expend, and related the following anecdote in illustration. Mrs. Fitzherbert told the king that one of his horses was likely to win at Newmarket, but the stakes were not paid. George Lee came and told him the same thing. Yes,' said the king, I told Lake to pay them.' But,' replied Lee, he has no money.' 'Do you pay them, then, my dear fellow. Oh! yes, you pay them.' He could not pay them either, and half an hour only remained; when he was told that his horse could not win, as the stakes were not paid. Yes, but I have told Lake to pay them, and I told Lee to pay them.' But they have no money, your majesty.' And then, very
unwillingly, he went to his drawer to take out the sum."
He ill deserves the reputation of "the first gentleman of Europe," who lived the life of a glutton, and clung to his gold with the avarice of a miser.
These volumes are singularly deficient in interest. We have "a pennyworth of bread to an intolerable deal of sack." The material for a biographical column in Mr. Urban's Magazine, has been, by the aid of uninteresting detail, a diffuse style, a large type, and broad margin, extended over two large octaVOS. This work might have been a valuable acquisition to the medical profession, had not the biographer been diverted from the view of his subject as a surgeon, his real claim to interest, by his fancied importance as a man. We have succeeded in selecting a few points of interest; beyond these, the general reader can have no concern. To the medical world the work is of no solid value.
TO THE NOBLE GERMAN POET,
HE yield to Prussia's monarch? No!
And make those Prussian slaves rejoice.
What! interdict the Poet's speech,
To freedom and his country given? As well let monarchy upreach
And strive to stop the light of Heaven!
Aye! though it jar and loose those chains
The KÖRNER Voice becomes a sword,
And fires the Peasant with its flame: Then strive not, King, with Herwegh's word, For Freedom's speech thou can'st not tame.