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which we have to pursue is long, difficult, and unsafe. In our progress, we must frequently take up our abode with death and corruption, we must adopt loathsome diseases for our familiar associates, or we shall never be acquainted with their nature and dispositions; we must risk, nay, even injure our own health, in order to be able to preserve, or restore that of others. Yet, if we do this, our profession will be held in the highest respect; not, as in ancient times, merely on account of the beneficence of its object, but, because it will be further perceived, that the means are adequate to the accomplishment."
Abernethy was a great advocate for what are called post mortem examinations; dissections, namely, in order to ascertain the probable cause of death in particular instances. And, in the same oration, from whence I have taken the preceding extract, he has introduced the following anecdote of John Hunter, which, although it may have often appeared in print before, I shall be excused for repeating here, to show the different aspects in which the same humane persons are capable of appearing, according to the better or worse government of their passions :—
"Mr. Hunter, who was never afraid of speaking his mind, had attended, in concert with another surgeon, a fatal case of disease in the child of a gentleman of opulence and worldly consequence. He had been much interested in the case; he had considered it, as he was wont to do, deliberately and intently; and, believing that much good might result from ascertaining its nature, he had requested permission to examine the body, which was refused. He went to the house of the father, in company with the other surgeon, and tried all his art of rhetoric and persuasion, but in vain. When he became convinced that his object was unattainable, he was standing, said the relator of this anecdote, with his back to the fire, and he put his hands into his pockets. I saw, continued he, by his countenance, that a storm was brewing in his mind. Mr. Hunter, however, gravely and calmly addressed the master of the house, in the following manner :—' Then, Sir, you will not permit the examination to be made?' 'It is impossible,' was the reply. 'Then, Sir,' said Mr. Hunter,'I heartily hope, that yourself, and all your family, nay, all your friends, may die of the same disease, and that no one may be able to afford them any assistance ;' and, so saying, he departed. Such a wish, I am convinced, was foreign from his benevolent mind; as indeed is manifested by the very terms of it, which involve the innocent with the offending. Temporary irritation alone incited him to adopt this mode of expressing his strong conviction of what it became equally his duty to perform, and theirs to permit, for the attainment of knowledge, the most important to humanity."—Hunterian Oration, p. 40. I do not believe that Abernethy, with all his abruptness of manners, would ever have been betrayed into such a maledictory exclamation; yet, it is very probable that, through his great admiration of John Hunter's professional enthusiasm, and character generally, and the favourable balance which he was thence disposed to strike between his virtues and his failings, he was himself less upon his guard, than he would otherwise have been, against hasty and intemperate expressions. Still he never, in his lectures, mentioned the preceding anecdote, without qualifying his eulogy of his greatest favourite, by declaring his disapprobation of such bursts of passion. In fact, he steadfastly maintained, in this, as in all other points of conduct, that the language of Scripture is the voice of reason, and that the physician is equally bound, with the Christian moralist, to inculcate the extreme importance of "keeping the heart with all diligence." He saw the justice of the Scriptural injunction more clearly, from his knowledge of the close connexion between diseases of this vital organ, and the tempers of men. Ebullitions of anger, that madness of the moment, are well known to produce, by repetition, organic diseases of the heart; whilst the formation of such diseases, by their re-action on the mind, begets a constitutional irritability, which no subsequent discipline can overcome. John Hunter died suddenly, from disease of the heart; and it is not improbable, that Abernethy inculcated the lesson of self-government, with the more earnestness, from a consciousness of the difficulties with with he may have had to contend in his own person. Upon other occasions, when the subject of his lecture admitted of cheerful, or even of humorous illustration, he exhibited a vein of pleasantry, to which his auditory responded most readily. None of his pupils could forget
the droll face he put up, when, in illustration of the particular action of the fronto-occipital muscle, he related the anecdote of a man, who could wag the long tail, which it was then the fashion to construct, and leave appended to the back part of the head, so comically, as to make any one he chose, burst into laughter. In fact, at the period to which I refer, Abernethy himself wore a tail, which he contrived so to move from side to side, as greatly to increase the effect of the anecdote he was relating. And here I do not know how I can better give some idea of his usual familiar mode of lecturing, than by transmitting a page or two from my own manuscript copy of his lectures :—" The fronto-occipitalis is a thin cutaneous muscle, beneath the integuments of the head, consisting of a broad aponeurosis in the middle, and of two patches of muscular fibres behind and before. It is so connected with the scalp, as to give us the power of corrugating it at pleasure. A small puncture of the scalp has led to inflammation of the aponeurosis, which must be relieved, by making a free transverse section, thereby setting the aponeurotic fibres at liberty. This aponeurosis is easily separated from the pericranium, and accompanies the scalp which Indians take from their enemies. They make a circular section through the integuments, including the aponeurosis, and drag up the scalp by the hair, as a boy would do a sucker. By the frontal portion, the eye-brows are elevated; whilst, by another muscle, the ' corrugator super cilii,' they are drawn downwards and towards the nose.
"The eye-brows are the most moveable and most remarkable of the human features. Even ouran outangs, which resemble man the most, are without them. The alteration of any other individual feature will produce grimace: whereas a very slight alteration of the eye-brow gives expression.
"The muscles which go to the penna of the ear, are the levator auris, the retrahens aurem, and the anterior auris. These are little used by the civilized inhabitants of the earth; whilst Indian tribes, and the natives of the wilderness generally, who live in a state of constant apprehension, make much use of them, pricking up their ears to listen and catch distant sounds with the greater accuracy."
It will be here proper to remark, that the manuscript notes from which I am quoting, are very far from doing justice to the full'current of useful and entertaining illustration which ran through Abernethy's lectures. Sometimes he would introduce an anecdote, such as the following, contained in Campbell's "Letters from the South," which I give as apposite merely, not as the particular instance adduced by Abernethy, for these letters are, comparatively, of recent date. "No people in the world have a more acute sense of hearing than the Arabs." A person who has travelled among them says, that he has seen individuals who could literally erect their ears at will, and move them like a quadruped. During the hostilities, not far from Algiers, a troop of French cavalry was missing, and fear was entertained that they had been