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THE ANATOMIST.

155

THE ANATOMIST.

Having occasion for the aid of a medical man, I requested my landlady to send me the person who was nearest at hand, to have a little conversation with him on the subject of compounding a medicine, for which I intended to give him the prescription of my physician. In consequence of this, while taking my breakfast, I heard the slow and cautious footsteps of a stranger on the staircase, approaching, followed by a light quick tap on the door of my apartment. On its opening, responsive to my desire, there entered a little thin old man with a Voltaire-sort of visage, surmounted by a stiff half-powdered wig, from the rear of which there pended a tail of considerable length, but of inconsiderable thick

His garments were a sort of rhubarbcoloured ditto, and he bore in his hand a cane, with an ivory-crutched top to it. He refused to partake of what was upon my table, as he had long before broken his fast, but he sat down to hear my complaint, when, opening upon the subject of my consultation with him, I handed him my prescription. Laying down his shovelhat with great deliberation, and placing as carefully upon it the aforesaid walking-stick, he stood up and drew from his pocket a pair of spectacles, which he took some time to open, more to wipe clean, and still more to fix upon the ill-stuffed saddle of his nose. This accomplished, he decyphered the hieroglyphic, (for such I think the writing of a physician commonly is,) took a second reading of it, sat down again, and disburdened his nose of his glasses. After a pause, during which he rolled up the paper and deposited it in gurgite vasto of his breeches pocket, he thus addressed me:

ness.

Though my profession, Sir, is rather that of a surgeon than an apothecary, yet your dose shall be carefully mixed, and the bolus properly compounded. I suppose, you, like others, have been sent hither to drink the waters, it being less trouble to undertake a journey and to live in lodgings here, than to order the same physic to be prepared, as it really might be, full as well, and much more easily at home - but, no matter, the professions are benefited. What? from

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these books around you, I am, I suppose, to look

upon you as a person of a studious habit ? You seem so, though appearances are often deceitful.- What is the subject of your lucubrations ?”

“ At present,” said I, “ theology.”

“ Psha! what has a soldier to do with theology ? much better study the way to mend broken limbs, or to make new ones.”

Perceiving I had got hold of a character, I determined to humour him. “ In these piping times of peace,'” said I, “ we have no need to do this; so we have, most of us, been obliged to turn our swords into pruning hooks.”

“ Much better turn them into dissecting knives. In times of peace, a good soldier should learn the art of war, and every thing connected with it, that when he is called upon, he may be able to exercise his powers in a useful manner. Now surgery is a beneficial pursuit, a pursuit most important at all times, and one more particularly fit to be learnt in time of peace, that in the event of your going to war again, you may be enabled to do a little good with all

your mischief, and now and then save a life as well as destroy one.”

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