Adventures of Working Men: From the Notebook of a Working Surgeon

Library of Alexandria
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 I have had patients enough in a busy life as a working surgeon, you may be sure, but of all that I have had, young or old, give me your genuine, simple-hearted working man; for whether he be down with an ordinary sickness or an extraordinary accident, he is always the same—enduring, forbearing, hopeful, and with that thorough faith in his medical man that does so much towards helping on a cure.

Wealthy patients as a rule do not possess that faith in their doctor. They always seem to expect that a disease which has been coming on, perhaps, for months, can be cured right off in a few hours by a touch of the doctor’s hand. If this result does not follow, and I may tell you at once it never does—unless it be in a case of toothache, and a tooth is drawn—the patient is peevish and fretful, the doctor is looked upon as unskilful, and, money being no object, the chances are that before the doctor or surgeon has had a chance, another practitioner is called in.

On the other hand, a quiet stalwart working man comes to you with a childlike faith and simplicity; he is at one with you; and he helps his cure by his simple profound belief in your skill.

A great deal of working-class doctoring and surgery has fallen to my lot, for fate threw me into a mixed practice. Sooner than wait at home idle for patients who might never come, I have made a point of taking any man’s practice pro tem, while the owner was ill, or away upon a holiday, and so improved my own knowledge better than I should have done by reading ever so hard. The consequence is that I have been a good deal about the country, and amongst a great variety of people, and the result of my experience is that your genuine working man, if he has been unspoiled by publicans, and those sinners, the demagogues, who are always putting false notions into his head, is a thoroughly sterling individual. That is the rule. I need not quote the exceptions, for there are black sheep enough among them, even as there are among other classes. Take him all in all, the British workman is a being of whom we may well be proud, and the better he is treated the brighter the colours in which he will come out.

Of course he has his weak points; we all have them, and very unpleasant creatures we should be without. A man all strong points is the kind of being to avoid. Have nothing to do with him. Depend upon it the finest—the most human of God’s creatures, are those who have their share of imperfections mingled with the good that is in every one more or less.

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Library of Alexandria
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Published on
Dec 31, 2011
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