I turn from this less pleasing aspect of the common intelligence which renders such follies possible, to close the honorable record of the medical profession in this, our ancient Commonwealth.
We have seen it in the first century divided among clergymen, magistrates, and regular practitioners; yet, on the whole, for the time, and under the circumstances, respectable, except where it invoked supernatural agencies to account for natural phenomena.
In the second century it simplified its practice, educated many intelligent practitioners, and began the work of organizing for concerted action, and for medical teaching.
In this, our own century, it has built hospitals, perfected and multiplied its associations and educational institutions, enlarged and created museums, and challenged a place in the world of science by its literature.
In reviewing the whole course of its history we read a long list of honored names, and a precious record written in private memories, in public charities, in permanent contributions to medical science, in generous sacrifices for the country. We can point to our capital as the port of entry for the New World of the great medical discoveries of two successive centuries, and we can claim for it the triumph over the most dreaded foe that assails the human body,--a triumph which the annals of the race can hardly match in three thousand years of medical history.
[A Valedictory Address delivered to the Graduating Class of the Bellevue Hospital College, March 2, 1871.]
The occasion which calls us together reminds us not a little of that other ceremony which unites a man and woman for life. The banns have already been pronounced which have wedded our young friends to the profession of their choice. It remains only to address to them some friendly words of cheering counsel, and to bestow upon them the parting benediction.
This is not the time for rhetorical display or ambitious eloquence. We must forget ourselves, and think only of them. To us it is an occasion; to them it is an epoch. The spectators at the wedding look curiously at the bride and bridegroom; at the bridal veil, the orange-flower garland, the giving and receiving of the ring; they listen for the tremulous "I will," and wonder what are the mysterious syllables the clergyman whispers in the ear of the married maiden. But to the newly-wedded pair what meaning in those words, "for better, for worse," "in sickness and in health," "till death us do part!" To the father, to the mother, who know too well how often the deadly nightshade is interwoven with the wreath of orange-blossoms, how empty the pageant, how momentous the reality!
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