Part 2 out of 3
had often occasion to ask him to be less
``Ah,'' says he, ``I shall be delighted to see
the doctor. Five years ago I was scalped on
the Plains, and now''--exhibiting a well-covered
head--``you see what the doctor did for
me. 'T isn't any wonder I've come fifty
miles to see him. Any of you been scalped,
To none of them had this misfortune
arrived as yet; but, like most folks in the lower
ranks of life and some in the upper ones, it
was pleasant to find a genial person who
would listen to their account of their own
Presently, after hearing enough, the old
gentleman pulls out a large watch. ``Bless
me! it's late. I must call again. May I
trouble you, sir, to say to the doctor that his
old friend called to see him and will drop in
again to-morrow? Don't forget: Governor
Brown of Arkansas.'' A moment later the
governor visited me by a side door, with his
account of the symptoms of my patients.
Enter a tall Hoosier, the governor having
retired. ``Now, doc,'' says the Hoosier, ``I've
been handled awful these two years back.''
``Stop!'' I exclaimed. ``Open your eyes.
There, now, let me see,'' taking his pulse as I
speak. ``Ah, you've a pain there, and there,
and you can't sleep; cocktails don't agree any
longer. Weren't you bit by a dog two years
ago?'' ``I was,'' says the Hoosier, in
amazement. ``Sir,'' I reply, ``you have chronic
hydrophobia. It's the water in the cocktails
that disagrees with you. My bitters will cure
you in a week, sir. No more whisky--drink
The astonishment of my patient at these
accurate revelations may be imagined. He is
allowed to wait for his medicine in the ante-
room, where the chances are in favor of his
relating how wonderfully I had told all his
symptoms at a glance.
Governor Brown of Arkansas was a small
but clever actor, whom I met in the billiard-
room, and who day after day, in varying
disguises and modes, played off the same tricks,
to our great common advantage.
At my friend's suggestion, we very soon
added to our resources by the purchase of
two electromagnetic batteries. This special
means of treating all classes of maladies has
advantages which are altogether peculiar. In
the first place, you instruct your patient that
the treatment is of necessity a long one. A
striking mode of putting it is to say, ``Sir,
you have been six months getting ill; it will
require six months for a cure.'' There is a
correct sound about such a phrase, and it is
sure to satisfy. Two sittings a week, at two
dollars a sitting, will pay. In many cases the
patient gets well while you are electrifying
him. Whether or not the electricity cured
him is a thing I shall never know. If, however,
he began to show signs of impatience, I
advised him that he would require a year's
treatment, and suggested that it would be
economical for him to buy a battery and use
it at home. Thus advised, he pays you twenty
dollars for an instrument which cost you ten,
and you are rid of a troublesome case.
If the reader has followed me closely, he
will have learned that I am a man of large
and liberal views in my profession, and of a
very justifiable ambition. The idea has often
occurred to me of combining in one establishment
all the various modes of practice which
are known as irregular. This, as will be
understood, is really only a wider application
of the idea which prompted me to unite in my
own business homeopathy and the practice of
medicine. I proposed to my partner, accordingly,
to combine with our present business
that of spiritualism, which I knew had been
very profitably turned to account in connection
with medical practice. As soon as he
agreed to this plan, which, by the way, I hoped
to enlarge so as to include all the available
isms, I set about making such preparations as
were necessary. I remembered having read
somewhere that a Dr. Schiff had shown that
he could produce remarkable ``knockings,'' so
called, by voluntarily dislocating the great
toe and then forcibly drawing it back into its
socket. A still better noise could be made by
throwing the tendon of the peroneus longus
muscle out of the hollow in which it lies,
alongside of the ankle. After some effort I
was able to accomplish both feats quite readily,
and could occasion a remarkable variety of
sounds, according to the power which I
employed or the positions which I occupied at
the time. As to all other matters, I trusted
to the suggestions of my own ingenuity,
which, as a rule, has rarely failed me.
The largest success attended the novel plan
which my lucky genius had devised, so that
soon we actually began to divide large profits
and to lay by a portion of our savings. It is,
of course, not to be supposed that this desirable
result was attained without many annoyances
and some positive danger. My spiritual
revelations, medical and other, were, as may
be supposed, only more or less happy guesses;
but in this, as in predictions as to the weather
and other events, the rare successes always
get more prominence in the minds of men
than the numerous failures. Moreover,
whenever a person has been fool enough to
resort to folks like myself, he is always glad
to be able to defend his conduct by bringing
forward every possible proof of skill on the
part of the men he has consulted. These
considerations, and a certain love of mysterious
or unusual means, I have commonly found
sufficient to secure an ample share of gullible
individuals. I may add, too, that those who
would be shrewd enough to understand and
expose us are wise enough to keep away
altogether. Such as did come were, as a rule,
easy enough to manage, but now and then we
hit upon some utterly exceptional patient
who was both foolish enough to consult us
and sharp enough to know he had been swindled.
When such a fellow made a fuss, it
was occasionally necessary to return his
money if it was found impossible to bully
him into silence. In one or two instances,
where I had promised a cure upon prepayment
of two or three hundred dollars, I was either
sued or threatened with suit, and had to
refund a part or the whole of the amount; but
most people preferred to hold their tongues
rather than expose to the world the extent of
their own folly.
In one most disastrous case I suffered
personally to a degree which I never can recall
without a distinct sense of annoyance, both
at my own want of care and at the disgusting
consequences which it brought upon me.
Early one morning an old gentleman called,
in a state of the utmost agitation, and
explained that he desired to consult the spirits
as to a heavy loss which he had experienced
the night before. He had left, he said, a sum
of money in his pantaloons pocket upon going
to bed. In the morning he had changed his
clothes and gone out, forgetting to remove the
notes. Returning in an hour in great haste,
he discovered that the garment still lay upon
the chair where he had thrown it, but that the
money was missing. I at once desired him to
be seated, and proceeded to ask him certain
questions, in a chatty way, about the habits
of his household, the amount lost, and the like,
expecting thus to get some clue which would
enable me to make my spirits display the
requisite share of sagacity in pointing out the
thief. I learned readily that he was an old
and wealthy man, a little close, too, I suspected,
and that he lived in a large house with but
two servants, and an only son about twenty-
one years old. The servants were both women
who had lived in the household many years,
and were probably innocent. Unluckily,
remembering my own youthful career, I
presently reached the conclusion that the young
man had been the delinquent. When I ventured
to inquire a little as to his habits, the
old gentleman cut me very short, remarking
that he came to ask questions, and not to be
questioned, and that he desired at once to
consult the spirits. Upon this I sat down at
a table, and, after a brief silence, demanded
in a solemn voice if there were any spirits
present. By industriously cracking my big
toe-joint I was enabled to represent at once
the presence of a numerous assembly of these
worthies. Then I inquired if any one of them
had been present when the robbery was
effected. A prompt double knock replied in
the affirmative. I may say here, by the way,
that the unanimity of the spirits as to their
use of two knocks for ``yes'' and one for
``no'' is a very remarkable point, and shows,
if it shows anything, how perfect and universal
must be the social intercourse of the
respected departed. It is worthy of note, also,
that if the spirit--I will not say the medium
--perceives after one knock that it were wiser
to say yes, he can conveniently add the second
tap. Some such arrangement in real life
would, it appears to me, be highly desirable.
It seemed that the spirit was that of Vidocq,
the French detective. I had just read a translation
of his memoirs, and he seemed to me a
very available spirit to call upon.
As soon as I explained that the spirit who
answered had been a witness of the theft, the
old man became strangely agitated. ``Who
was it?'' said he. At once the spirit
indicated a desire to use the alphabet. As we
went over the letters,--always a slow method,
but useful when you want to observe excitable
people,--my visitor kept saying, ``Quicker--
go quicker.'' At length the spirit spelled out
the words, ``I know not his name.''
``Was it,'' said the gentleman--``was it a--
was it one of my household?''
I knocked ``yes'' without hesitation; who
else, indeed, could it have been?
``Excuse me,'' he went on, ``if I ask you for
a little whisky.''
This I gave him. He continued: ``Was it
Susan or Ellen?''
``Was it--'' He paused. ``If I ask a question
mentally, will the spirits reply?'' I knew
what he meant. He wanted to ask if it was
his son, but did not wish to speak openly.
``Ask,'' said I.
``I have,'' he returned.
I hesitated. It was rarely my policy to
commit myself definitely, yet here I fancied,
from the facts of the case and his own terrible
anxiety, that he suspected, or more than
suspected, his son as the guilty person. I
became sure of this as I studied his face. At
all events, it would be easy to deny or explain
in case of trouble; and, after all, what slander
was there in two knocks? I struck twice
Instantly the old gentleman rose up, very
white, but quite firm. ``There,'' he said, and
cast a bank-note on the table, ``I thank you,''
and bending his head on his breast, walked,
as I thought, with great effort out of the room.
On the following morning, as I made my
first appearance in my outer room, which
contained at least a dozen persons awaiting
advice, who should I see standing by the window
but the old gentleman with sandy-gray hair?
Along with him was a stout young man with
a head as red as mine, and mustache and
whiskers to match. Probably the son, I
thought--ardent temperament, remorse, come
to confess, etc. I was never more mistaken
in my life. I was about to go regularly
through my patients when the old gentleman
began to speak.
``I called, doctor,'' said he, ``to explain the
little matter about which I--about which I--''
``Troubled your spirits yesterday,'' added
the youth, jocosely, pulling his mustache.
``Beg pardon,'' I returned; ``had we not
better talk this over in private? Come into
my office,'' I added, touching the younger man
on the arm.
Would you believe it? he took out his
handkerchief and dusted the place I had touched.
``Better not,'' said he. ``Go on, father; let
us get done with this den.''
``Gentlemen,'' said the elder person, addressing
the patients, ``I called here yesterday, like
a fool, to ask who had stolen from me a sum
of money which I believed I left in my room
on going out in the morning. This doctor
here and his spirits contrived to make me
suspect my only son. Well, I charged him at
once with the crime as soon as I got back
home, and what do you think he did? He
said, `Father, let us go up-stairs and look for
Here the young man broke in with: ``Come,
father; don't worry yourself for nothing'';
and then turning, added: ``To cut the thing
short, he found the notes under his candle-
stick, where he left them on going to bed.
This is all of it. We came here to stop this
fellow'' (by which he meant me) ``from carrying
a slander further. I advise you, good
people, to profit by the matter, and to look up
a more honest doctor, if doctoring be what
As soon as he had ended, I remarked
solemnly: ``The words of the spirits are not my
words. Who shall hold them accountable?''
``Nonsense,'' said the young man. ``Come,
father''; and they left the room.
Now was the time to retrieve my character.
``Gentlemen,'' said I, ``you have heard this
very singular account. Trusting the spirits
utterly and entirely as I do, it occurs to me
that there is no reason why they may not,
after all, have been right in their suspicions
of this young person. Who can say that,
overcome by remorse, he may not have seized
the time of his father's absence to replace the
To my amazement, up gets a little old man
from the corner. ``Well, you are a low cuss!''
said he, and taking up a basket beside him,
hobbled hastily out of the room. You may
be sure I said some pretty sharp things to him,
for I was out of humor to begin with, and it
is one thing to be insulted by a stout young
man, and quite another to be abused by a
wretched old cripple. However, he went away,
and I supposed, for my part, that I was done
with the whole business.
An hour later, however, I heard a rough
knock at my door, and opening it hastily, saw
my red-headed young man with the cripple.
``Now,'' said the former, taking me by the
collar, and pulling me into the room among
my patients, ``I want to know, my man, if
this doctor said that it was likely I was the
thief after all?''
``That's what he said,'' replied the cripple;
``just about that, sir.''
I do not desire to dwell on the after
conduct of this hot-headed young man. It was
the more disgraceful as I offered but little
resistance, and endured a beating such as I
would have hesitated to inflict upon a dog.
Nor was this all. He warned me that if I
dared to remain in the city after a week he
would shoot me. In the East I should have
thought but little of such a threat, but here
it was only too likely to be practically carried
out. Accordingly, with my usual decision of
character, but with much grief and reluctance,
I collected my whole fortune, which now
amounted to at least seven thousand dollars,
and turned my back upon this ungrateful
town. I am sorry to say that I also left
behind me the last of my good luck.
I traveled in a leisurely way until I reached
Boston. The country anywhere would have
been safer, but I do not lean to agricultural
pursuits. It seemed an agreeable city, and I
decided to remain.
I took good rooms at Parker's, and concluding
to enjoy life, amused myself in the company
of certain, I may say uncertain, young
women who danced at some of the theaters.
I played billiards, drank rather too much,
drove fast horses, and at the end of a delightful
year was shocked to find myself in debt,
and with only seven dollars and fifty-three
cents left--I like to be accurate. I had only
one resource: I determined to visit my deaf
aunt and Peninnah, and to see what I could
do in the role of the prodigal nephew. At
all events, I should gain time to think of what
new enterprise I could take up; but, above
all, I needed a little capital and a house over
my head. I had pawned nearly everything
of any value which I possessed.
I left my debts to gather interest, and went
away to Woodbury. It was the day before
Christmas when I reached the little Jersey
town, and it was also by good luck Sunday.
I was hungry and quite penniless. I wandered
about until church had begun, because
I was sure then to find Aunt Rachel and
Peninnah out at the service, and I desired to
explore a little. The house was closed, and
even the one servant absent. I got in with
ease at the back through the kitchen, and
having at least an hour and a half free from
interruption, I made a leisurely search. The
role of prodigal was well enough, but here
was a better chance and an indulgent opportunity.
In a few moments I found the famous Bible
hid away under Aunt Rachel's mattress. The
Bible bank was fat with notes, but I intended
to be moderate enough to escape suspicion.
Here were quite two thousand dollars. I
resolved to take, just now, only one hundred,
so as to keep a good balance. Then, alas! I
lit on a long envelop, my aunt's will. Every
cent was left to Christ Church; not a dime to
poor Pen or to me. I was in a rage. I tore
up the will and replaced the envelop. To
treat poor Pen that way--Pen of all people!
There was a heap more will than testament,
for all it was in the Bible. After that I
thought it was right to punish the old witch,
and so I took every note I could find. When
I was through with this business, I put back
the Bible under the mattress, and observing
that I had been quite too long, I went down-
stairs with a keen desire to leave the town as
early as possible. I was tempted, however,
to look further, and was rewarded by finding
in an old clock case a small reticule stuffed
with bank-notes. This I appropriated, and
made haste to go out. I was too late. As I
went into the little entry to get my hat and
coat, Aunt Rachel entered, followed by Peninnah.
At sight of me my aunt cried out that I was
a monster and fit for the penitentiary. As
she could not hear at all, she had the talk to
herself, and went by me and up-stairs,
rumbling abuse like distant thunder overhead.
Meanwhile I was taken up with Pen. The
pretty fool was seated on a chair, all dressed
up in her Sunday finery, and rocking backward
and forward, crying, ``Oh, oh, ah!'' like
a lamb saying, ``Baa, baa, baa!'' She never
had much sense. I had to shake her to get a
reasonable word. She mopped her eyes, and
I heard her gasp out that my aunt had at last
decided that I was the person who had thinned
her hoards. This was bad, but involved less
inconvenience than it might have done an
hour earlier. Amid tears Pen told me that a
detective had been at the house inquiring for
me. When this happened it seems that the
poor little goose had tried to fool deaf Aunt
Rachel with some made-up story as to the man
having come about taxes. I suppose the girl
was not any too sharp, and the old woman, I
guess, read enough from merely seeing the
man's lips. You never could keep anything
from her, and she was both curious and
suspicious. She assured the officer that I was a
thief, and hoped I might be caught. I could
not learn whether the man told Pen any
particulars, but as I was slowly getting at the
facts we heard a loud scream and a heavy
Pen said, ``Oh, oh!'' and we hurried up-
stairs. There was the old woman on the
floor, her face twitching to right, and her
breathing a sort of hoarse croak. The big
Bible lay open on the floor, and I knew what
had happened. It was a fit of apoplexy.
At this very unpleasant sight Pen seemed
to recover her wits, and said: ``Go away, go
away! Oh, brother, brother, now I know
you have stolen her money and killed her,
and--and I loved you, I was so proud of
you! Oh, oh!''
This was all very fine, but the advice was
good. I said: ``Yes, I had better go. Run
and get some one--a doctor. It is a fit of
hysterics; there is no danger. I will write
to you. You are quite mistaken.''
This was too feeble even for Pen, and she
``No, never; I never want to see you again.
You would kill me next.''
``Stuff!'' said I, and ran down-stairs. I
seized my coat and hat, and went to the
tavern, where I got a man to drive me to
Camden. I have never seen Pen since. As
I crossed the ferry to Philadelphia I saw that
I should have asked when the detective had
been after me. I suspected from Pen's terror
that it had been recently.
It was Sunday and, as I reminded myself,
the day before Christmas. The ground was
covered with snow, and as I walked up Market
street my feet were soon soaked. In my
haste I had left my overshoes. I was very
cold, and, as I now see, foolishly fearful. I
kept thinking of what a conspicuous thing a
fire-red head is, and of how many people
knew me. As I reached Woodbury early
and without a cent, I had eaten nothing all
day. I relied on Pen.
Now I concluded to go down into my old
neighborhood and get a lodging where no
references were asked. Next day I would
secure a disguise and get out of the way. I
had passed the day without food, as I have
just said, and having ample means, concluded
to go somewhere and get a good dinner. It
was now close to three in the afternoon. I
was aware of two things: that I was making
many plans, and giving them up as soon as
made; and that I was suddenly afraid without
cause, afraid to enter an eating-house,
and in fear of every man I met.
I went on, feeling more and more chilly.
When a man is really cold his mind does not
work well, and now it was blowing a keen
gale from the north. At Second and South
I came plump on a policeman I knew. He
looked at me through the drifting snow, as if
he was uncertain, and twice looked back after
having passed me. I turned west at Christian
street. When I looked behind me the
man was standing at the corner, staring after
me. At the next turn I hurried away northward
in a sort of anguish of terror. I have
said I was an uncommon person. I am. I
am sensitive, too. My mind is much above
the average, but unless I am warm and well
fed it does not act well, and I make mistakes.
At that time I was half frozen, in need of
food, and absurdly scared. Then that old fool
squirming on the floor got on to my nerves.
I went on and on, and at last into Second
street, until I came to Christ Church, of all
places for me. I heard the sound of the
organ in the afternoon service. I felt I must
go in and get warm. Here was another silly
notion: I was afraid of hotels, but not of the
church. I reasoned vaguely that it was a
dark day, and darker in the church, and so I
went in at the Church Alley entrance and sat
near the north door. No one noticed me. I
sat still in a high-backed pew, well hid, and
wondering what was the matter with me. It
was curious that a doctor, and a man of my
intelligence, should have been long in guessing
a thing so simple.
For two months I had been drinking hard,
and for two days had quit, being a man capable
of great self-control, and also being
short of money. Just before the benediction
I saw a man near by who seemed to stare at
me. In deadly fear I got up and quickly
slipped through a door into the tower room.
I said to myself, ``He will follow me or wait
outside.'' I stood a moment with my head
all of a whirl, and then in a shiver of fear
ran up the stairs to the tower until I got
into the bell-ringer's room. I was safe. I
sat down on a stool, twitching and tremulous.
There were the old books on bell-ringing, and
the miniature chime of small bells for
instruction. The wind had easy entrance, and
it swung the eight ropes about in a way I did
not like. I remember saying, ``Oh, don't do
that.'' At last I had a mad desire to ring
one of the bells. As a loop of rope swung
toward me it seemed to hold a face, and this
face cried out, ``Come and hang yourself;
then the bell will ring.''
If I slept I do not know. I may have done
so. Certainly I must have stayed there many
hours. I was dull and confused, and yet on
my guard, for when far into the night I
heard noises below, I ran up the steeper
steps which ascend to the steeple, where are
the bells. Half-way up I sat down on the
stair. The place was cold and the darkness
deep. Then I heard the eight ringers down
below. One said: ``Never knowed a Christmas
like this since Zeb Sanderaft died. Come,
boys!'' I knew it must be close on to mid-
night. Now they would play a Christmas
carol. I used every Christmas to be roused
up and carried here and set on dad's shoulder.
When they were done ringing, Number Two
always gave me a box of sugar-plums and a
large red apple. As they rang off, my father
would cry out, ``One, two,'' and so on, and
then cry, ``Elias, all over town people are
opening windows to listen.'' I seemed to
hear him as I sat in the gloom. Then I
heard, ``All ready; one, two,'' and they rang
the Christmas carol. Overhead I heard the
great bells ringing out:
And all the bells on earth shall ring
On Christmas day, on Christmas day.
I felt suddenly excited, and began to hum
the air. Great heavens! There was the old
woman, Aunt Rachel, with her face going
twitch, twitch, the croak of her breathing
keeping a sort of mad time with ``On Christmas
day, on Christmas day.'' I jumped up.
She was gone. I knew in a hazy sort of way
what was the matter with me, but I had still
the sense to sit down and wait. I said now
it would be snakes, for once before I had
been almost as bad. But what I did see was
a little curly-headed boy in a white frock and
pantalets, climbing up the stairs right leg
first; so queer of me to have noticed that. I
knew I was that boy. He was an innocent-
looking little chap, and was smiling. He
seemed to me to grow and grow, and at last
was a big, red-headed man with a live rat in his
hand. I saw nothing more, but I surely
knew I needed whisky. I waited until all
was still, and got down and out, for I knew
every window. I soon found a tavern, and
got a drink and some food. At once my fear
left me. I was warm at last and clear of
head, and had again my natural courage. I
was well aware that I was on the edge of
delirium tremens and must be most prudent.
I paid in advance for my room and treated
myself as I had done many another. Only a
man of unusual force could have managed
his own case as I did. I went out only at
night, and in a week was well enough to
travel. During this time I saw now and
then that grinning little fellow. Sometimes
he had an apple and was eating it. I do not
know why he was worse to me than snakes,
or the twitchy old woman with her wide eyes
of glass, and that jerk, jerk, to right.
I decided to go back to Boston. I got to
New York prudently in a roundabout way,
and in two weeks' time was traveling east
I felt well, and my spirits began at last to
rise to their usual level. When I arrived in
Boston I set myself to thinking how best I
could contrive to enjoy life and at the same
time to increase my means. I possessed sufficient
capital, and was able and ready to embark
in whatever promised the best returns
with the smallest personal risks. I settled
myself in a suburb, paid off a few pressing
claims, and began to reflect with my ordinary
We were now in the midst of a most absurd
war with the South, and it was becoming
difficult to escape the net of conscription. It
might be wise to think of this in time.
Europe seemed a desirable residence, but I
needed more money to make this agreeable,
and an investment for my brains was what
I wanted most. Many schemes presented
themselves as worthy the application of
industry and talent, but none of them altogether
suited my case. I thought at times
of traveling as a physiological lecturer,
combining with it the business of a practitioner:
scare the audience at night with an enumeration
of symptoms which belong to ten out of
every dozen healthy people, and then doctor
such of them as are gulls enough to consult
me next day. The bigger the fright the
better the pay. I was a little timid, however,
about facing large audiences, as a man
will be naturally if he has lived a life of
adventure, so that upon due consideration I
gave up the idea altogether.
The patent medicine business also looked
well enough, but it is somewhat overdone at
all times, and requires a heavy outlay, with
the probable result of ill success. Indeed, I
believe one hundred quack remedies fail for
one that succeeds, and millions must have
been wasted in placards, bills, and advertisements,
which never returned half their value
to the speculator. I think I shall some day
beguile my time with writing an account of
the principal quack remedies which have met
with success. They are few in number, after
all, as any one must know who recalls the
countless pills and tonics which are puffed
awhile on the fences, and disappear, to be
heard of no more.
Lastly, I inclined for a while to undertake
a private insane asylum, which appeared to
me to offer facilities for money-making, as to
which, however, I may have been deceived by
the writings of certain popular novelists. I
went so far, I may say, as actually to visit
Concord for the purpose of finding a pleasant
locality and a suitable atmosphere. Upon
reflection I abandoned my plans, as
involving too much personal labor to suit one
of my easy frame of mind.
Tired at last of idleness and lounging on
the Common, I engaged in two or three little
ventures of a semi-professional character,
such as an exhibition of laughing-gas,
advertising to cure cancer,--``Send twenty-five
stamps by mail to J. B., and receive an
infallible receipt,''--etc. I did not find, however,
that these little enterprises prospered well in
New England, and I had recalled very forcibly
a story which my father was fond of
relating to me in my boyhood. It was about
how certain very knowing flies went to get
molasses, and how it ended by the molasses
getting them. This, indeed, was precisely
what happened to me in all my efforts to
better myself in the Northern States, until
at length my misfortunes climaxed in total
and unexpected ruin.
Having been very economical, I had now
about twenty-seven hundred dollars. It was
none too much. At this time I made the
acquaintance of a sea-captain from Maine.
He told me that he and two others had chartered
a smart little steamer to run to Jamaica
with a variety cargo. In fact, he meant to
run into Wilmington or Charleston, and he
was to carry quinine, chloroform, and other
medical requirements for the Confederates.
He needed twenty-five hundred dollars more,
and a doctor to buy the kind of things which
army surgeons require. Of course I was
prudent and he careful, but at last, on his
proving to me that there was no risk, I
agreed to expend his money, his friends',
and my own up to twenty-five hundred dollars.
I saw the other men, one of them a
rebel captain. I was well pleased with the
venture, and resolved for obvious reasons to
go with them on the steamer. It was a
promising investment, and I am free to
reflect that in this, as in some other things, I
have been free from vulgar prejudices. I
bought all that we needed, and was well
satisfied when it was cleverly stowed away in
We were to sail on a certain Thursday
morning in September, 1863. I sent my
trunk to the vessel, and went down the evening
before we were to start to go on board,
but found that the little steamer had been
hauled out from the pier. The captain, who
met me at this time, endeavored to get a
boat to ferry us to the ship; but a gale was
blowing, and he advised me to wait until
morning. My associates were already on
board. Early next day I dressed and went
to the captain's room, which proved to be
empty. I was instantly filled with doubt,
and ran frantically to the Long Wharf,
where, to my horror, I could see no signs
of the vessel or captain. Neither have I
ever set eyes on them from that time to this.
I thought of lodging information with the
police as to the unpatriotic design of the
rascal who swindled me, but on the whole
concluded that it was best to hold my tongue.
It was, as I perceived, such utterly spilt
milk as to be little worth lamenting, and I
therefore set to work, with my accustomed
energy, to utilize on my own behalf the
resources of my medical education, which so
often before had saved me from want. The
war, then raging at its height, appeared to
offer numerous opportunities to men of talent.
The path which I chose was apparently a
humble one, but it enabled me to make very
practical use of my professional knowledge,
and afforded for a time rapid and secure
returns, without any other investment than a
little knowledge cautiously employed. In the
first place, I deposited my small remnant of
property in a safe bank. Then I went to
Providence, where, as I had heard, patriotic
persons were giving very large bounties in
order, I suppose, to insure the government
the services of better men than themselves.
On my arrival I lost no time in offering
myself as a substitute, and was readily accepted,
and very soon mustered into the Twentieth
Rhode Island. Three months were passed
in camp, during which period I received
bounty to the extent of six hundred and
fifty dollars, with which I tranquilly
deserted about two hours before the regiment
left for the field. With the product of my
industry I returned to Boston, and deposited
all but enough to carry me to New York,
where within a month I enlisted twice, earning
on each occasion four hundred dollars.
After this I thought it wise to try the same
game in some of the smaller towns near to
Philadelphia. I approached my birthplace
with a good deal of doubt; but I selected a
regiment in camp at Norristown, which is
eighteen miles away. Here I got nearly
seven hundred dollars by entering the service
as a substitute for an editor, whose pen,
I presume, was mightier than his sword. I
was, however, disagreeably surprised by being
hastily forwarded to the front under a foxy
young lieutenant, who brutally shot down a
poor devil in the streets of Baltimore for
attempting to desert. At this point I began
to make use of my medical skill, for I did
not in the least degree fancy being shot,
either because of deserting or of not deserting.
It happened, therefore, that a day or
two later, while in Washington, I was seized
in the street with a fit, which perfectly
imposed upon the officer in charge, and caused
him to leave me at the Douglas Hospital.
Here I found it necessary to perform fits
about twice a week, and as there were several
real epileptics in the ward, I had a
capital chance of studying their symptoms,
which, finally, I learned to imitate with the
I soon got to know three or four men who,
like myself, were personally averse to bullets,
and who were simulating other forms of
disease with more or less success. One of
them suffered with rheumatism of the back,
and walked about like an old man; another,
who had been to the front, was palsied in the
right arm. A third kept open an ulcer on
the leg, rubbing in a little antimonial
ointment, which I bought at fifty cents, and sold
him at five dollars a box.
A change in the hospital staff brought all
of us to grief. The new surgeon was a quiet,
gentlemanly person, with pleasant blue eyes
and clearly cut features, and a way of looking
at you without saying much. I felt so
safe myself that I watched his procedures
with just that kind of enjoyment which one
clever man takes in seeing another at work.
The first inspection settled two of us.
``Another back case,'' said the assistant
surgeon to his senior.
``Back hurt you?'' says the latter, mildly.
``Yes, sir; run over by a howitzer; ain't
never been able to stand straight since.''
``A howitzer!'' says the surgeon. ``Lean
forward, my man, so as to touch the floor--
so. That will do.'' Then turning to his aid,
he said, ``Prepare this man's discharge
``His discharge, sir?''
``Yes; I said that. Who's next?''
``Thank you, sir,'' groaned the man with
the back. ``How soon, sir, do you think it
``Ah, not less than a month,'' replied the
surgeon, and passed on.
Now, as it was unpleasant to be bent like
the letter C, and as the patient presumed that
his discharge was secure, he naturally allowed
himself a little relaxation in the way of
becoming straighter. Unluckily, those nice
blue eyes were everywhere at all hours, and
one fine morning Smithson was appalled at
finding himself in a detachment bound for
the field, and bearing on his descriptive list
an ill-natured indorsement about his malady.
The surgeon came next on O'Callahan,
standing, like each of us, at the foot of his
``I've paralytics in my arm,'' he said, with
intention to explain his failure to salute his
``Humph!'' said the surgeon; ``you have
``An' it's not the rigulation to saloot with
yer left,'' said the Irishman, with a grin, while
the patients around us began to smile.
``How did it happen?'' said the surgeon.
``I was shot in the shoulder,'' answered the
patient, ``about three months ago, sir. I
haven't stirred it since.''
The surgeon looked at the scar.
``So recently?'' said he. ``The scar looks
older; and, by the way, doctor,''--to his
junior,--``it could not have gone near the
nerves. Bring the battery, orderly.''
In a few moments the surgeon was testing
one after another, the various muscles. At
last he stopped. ``Send this man away with
the next detachment. Not a word, my man.
You are a rascal, and a disgrace to honest
men who have been among bullets.''
The man muttered something, I did not
``Put this man in the guard-house,'' cried
the surgeon, and so passed on without smile
As to the ulcer case, to my amusement he
was put in bed, and his leg locked up in a
wooden splint, which effectually prevented
him from touching the part diseased. It
healed in ten days, and he too went as food
The surgeon asked me a few questions, and
requesting to be sent for during my next fit,
left me alone.
I was, of course, on my guard, and took
care to have my attacks only during his
absence, or to have them over before he arrived.
At length, one morning, in spite of my care,
he chanced to enter the ward as I fell on the
floor. I was laid on the bed, apparently in
strong convulsions. Presently I felt a finger
on my eyelid, and as it was raised, saw the
surgeon standing beside me. To escape his
scrutiny I became more violent in my
motions. He stopped a moment and looked at
me steadily. ``Poor fellow!'' said he, to my
great relief, as I felt at once that I had
successfully deceived him. Then he turned to
the ward doctor and remarked: ``Take care
he does not hurt his head against the bed;
and, by the by, doctor, do you remember the
test we applied in Carstairs's case? Just tickle
the soles of his feet and see if it will cause
those backward spasms of the head.''
The aid obeyed him, and, very naturally,
I jerked my head backward as hard as I
``That will answer,'' said the surgeon, to
my horror. ``A clever rogue. Send him to
Happy had I been had my ill luck ended
here, but as I crossed the yard an officer
stopped me. To my disgust, it was the captain
of my old Rhode Island company.
``Hello!'' said he; ``keep that fellow safe.
I know him.''
To cut short a long story, I was tried,
convicted, and forced to refund the Rhode Island
bounty, for by ill luck they found my bank-
book among my papers. I was finally sent
to Fort Delaware and kept at hard labor,
handling and carrying shot, policing the
ground, picking up cigar-stumps, and other
light, unpleasant occupations.
When the war was over I was released. I
went at once to Boston, where I had about
four hundred dollars in bank. I spent nearly
all of this sum before I could satisfy the
accumulated cravings of a year and a half without
drink or tobacco, or a decent meal. I
was about to engage in a little business as a
vender of lottery policies when I first began
to feel a strange sense of lassitude, which
soon increased so as quite to disable me from
work of any kind. Month after month passed
away, while my money lessened, and this
terrible sense of weariness went on from
bad to worse. At last one day, after nearly
a year had elapsed, I perceived on my face a
large brown patch of color, in consequence
of which I went in some alarm to consult a
well-known physician. He asked me a multitude
of tiresome questions, and at last wrote
off a prescription, which I immediately read.
It was a preparation of arsenic.
``What do you think,'' said I, ``is the matter
with me, doctor?''
``I am afraid,'' said he, ``that you have a
very serious trouble--what we call Addison's
``What's that?'' said I.
``I do not think you would comprehend
it,'' he replied; ``it is an affection of the
I dimly remembered that there were such
organs, and that nobody knew what they
were meant for. It seemed that doctors had
found a use for them at last.
``Is it a dangerous disease?'' I said.
``I fear so,'' he answered.
``Don't you really know,'' I asked, ``what's
the truth about it?''
``Well,'' he returned gravely, ``I'm sorry
to tell you it is a very dangerous malady.''
``Nonsense!'' said I; ``I don't believe it'';
for I thought it was only a doctor's trick, and
one I had tried often enough myself.
``Thank you,'' said he; ``you are a very ill
man, and a fool besides. Good morning.''
He forgot to ask for a fee, and I did not
therefore find it necessary to escape payment
by telling him I was a doctor.
Several weeks went by; my money was
gone, my clothes were ragged, and, like my
body, nearly worn out, and now I am an
inmate of a hospital. To-day I feel weaker
than when I first began to write. How it
will end, I do not know. If I die, the doctor
will get this pleasant history, and if I live, I
shall burn it, and as soon as I get a little
money I will set out to look for my sister.
I dreamed about her last night. What I
dreamed was not very agreeable. I thought
it was night. I was walking up one of the
vilest streets near my old office, and a girl
spoke to me--a shameless, worn creature,
with great sad eyes. Suddenly she screamed,
``Brother, brother!'' and then remembering
what she had been, with her round, girlish,
innocent face and fair hair, and seeing what
she was now, I awoke and saw the dim light
of the half-darkened ward.
I am better to-day. Writing all this stuff
has amused me and, I think, done me good.
That was a horrid dream I had. I suppose I
must tear up all this biography.
``Hello, nurse! The little boy--boy--''
``GOOD HEAVENS!'' said the nurse, ``he is
dead! Dr. Alston said it would happen this
way. The screen, quick--the screen--and
let the doctor know.''
THE CASE OF GEORGE DEDLOW
The following notes of my own
case have been declined on various
pretests by every medical
journal to which I have offered
them. There was, perhaps,
some reason in this, because many of the
medical facts which they record are not
altogether new, and because the psychical
deductions to which they have led me are not
in themselves of medical interest. I ought
to add that a great deal of what is here
related is not of any scientific value
whatsoever; but as one or two people on whose
judgment I rely have advised me to print
my narrative with all the personal details,
rather than in the dry shape in which, as a
psychological statement, I shall publish it
elsewhere, I have yielded to their views. I
suspect, however, that the very character of
my record will, in the eyes of some of my
readers, tend to lessen the value of the
metaphysical discoveries which it sets forth.
I am the son of a physician, still in large
practice, in the village of Abington, Scofield
County, Indiana. Expecting to act as his
future partner, I studied medicine in his
office, and in 1859 and 1860 attended lectures
at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
My second course should have been in
the following year, but the outbreak of the
Rebellion so crippled my father's means that
I was forced to abandon my intention. The
demand for army surgeons at this time
became very great; and although not a graduate,
I found no difficulty in getting the place
of assistant surgeon to the Tenth Indiana
Volunteers. In the subsequent Western
campaigns this organization suffered so
severely that before the term of its service
was over it was merged in the Twenty-first
Indiana Volunteers; and I, as an extra surgeon,
ranked by the medical officers of the latter
regiment, was transferred to the Fifteenth
Indiana Cavalry. Like many physicians, I
had contracted a strong taste for army life,
and, disliking cavalry service, sought and
obtained the position of first lieutenant in
the Seventy-ninth Indiana Volunteers, an
infantry regiment of excellent character.
On the day after I assumed command of
my company, which had no captain, we were
sent to garrison a part of a line of block-
houses stretching along the Cumberland
River below Nashville, then occupied by a
portion of the command of General Rosecrans.
The life we led while on this duty was
tedious and at the same time dangerous in
the extreme. Food was scarce and bad, the
water horrible, and we had no cavalry to
forage for us. If, as infantry, we attempted
to levy supplies upon the scattered farms
around us, the population seemed suddenly
to double, and in the shape of guerrillas
``potted'' us industriously from behind
distant trees, rocks, or fences. Under these
various and unpleasant influences, combined
with a fair infusion of malaria, our men
rapidly lost health and spirits. Unfortunately,
no proper medical supplies had been forwarded
with our small force (two companies),
and, as the fall advanced, the want
of quinine and stimulants became a serious
annoyance. Moreover, our rations were
running low; we had been three weeks without
a new supply; and our commanding officer,
Major Henry L. Terrill, began to be uneasy as
to the safety of his men. About this time it was
supposed that a train with rations would be
due from the post twenty miles to the north
of us; yet it was quite possible that it would
bring us food, but no medicines, which were
what we most needed. The command was
too small to detach any part of it, and the
major therefore resolved to send an officer
alone to the post above us, where the rest of
the Seventy-ninth lay, and whence they could
easily forward quinine and stimulants by the
train, if it had not left, or, if it had, by a
small cavalry escort.
It so happened, to my cost, as it turned
out, that I was the only officer fit to make
the journey, and I was accordingly ordered
to proceed to Blockhouse No. 3 and make
the required arrangements. I started alone
just after dusk the next night, and during
the darkness succeeded in getting within
three miles of my destination. At this time
I found that I had lost my way, and, although
aware of the danger of my act, was forced to
turn aside and ask at a log cabin for
directions. The house contained a dried-up old
woman and four white-headed, half-naked
children. The woman was either stone-deaf
or pretended to be so; but, at all events, she
gave me no satisfaction, and I remounted
and rode away. On coming to the end of a
lane, into which I had turned to seek the
cabin, I found to my surprise that the bars
had been put up during my brief parley.
They were too high to leap, and I therefore
dismounted to pull them down. As I touched
the top rail, I heard a rifle, and at the same
instant felt a blow on both arms, which fell
helpless. I staggered to my horse and tried
to mount; but, as I could use neither arm,
the effort was vain, and I therefore stood still,
awaiting my fate. I am only conscious that
I saw about me several graybacks, for I must
have fallen fainting almost immediately.
When I awoke I was lying in the cabin
near by, upon a pile of rubbish. Ten or
twelve guerrillas were gathered about the fire,
apparently drawing lots for my watch, boots,
hat, etc. I now made an effort to find out
how far I was hurt. I discovered that I
could use the left forearm and hand pretty
well, and with this hand I felt the right limb
all over until I touched the wound. The ball
had passed from left to right through the left
biceps, and directly through the right arm
just below the shoulder, emerging behind.
The right arm and forearm were cold and
perfectly insensible. I pinched them as well
as I could, to test the amount of sensation
remaining; but the hand might as well have
been that of a dead man. I began to understand
that the nerves had been wounded, and
that the part was utterly powerless. By this
time my friends had pretty well divided the
spoils, and, rising together, went out. The
old woman then came to me, and said:
``Reckon you'd best git up. They-'uns is
a-goin' to take you away.'' To this I only
answered, ``Water, water.'' I had a grim
sense of amusement on finding that the old
woman was not deaf, for she went out, and
presently came back with a gourdful, which
I eagerly drank. An hour later the graybacks
returned, and finding that I was too
weak to walk, carried me out and laid me on
the bottom of a common cart, with which
they set off on a trot. The jolting was
horrible, but within an hour I began to have in
my dead right hand a strange burning, which
was rather a relief to me. It increased as the
sun rose and the day grew warm, until I felt
as if the hand was caught and pinched in a
red-hot vise. Then in my agony I begged
my guard for water to wet it with, but for
some reason they desired silence, and at every
noise threatened me with a revolver. At
length the pain became absolutely unendurable,
and I grew what it is the fashion to call
demoralized. I screamed, cried, and yelled
in my torture, until, as I suppose, my captors
became alarmed, and, stopping, gave me a
handkerchief,--my own, I fancy,--and a canteen
of water, with which I wetted the hand,
to my unspeakable relief.
It is unnecessary to detail the events by
which, finally, I found myself in one of the
rebel hospitals near Atlanta. Here, for the
first time, my wounds were properly cleansed
and dressed by a Dr. Oliver T. Wilson, who
treated me throughout with great kindness.
I told him I had been a doctor, which,
perhaps, may have been in part the cause of the
unusual tenderness with which I was managed.
The left arm was now quite easy,
although, as will be seen, it never entirely
healed. The right arm was worse than ever
--the humerus broken, the nerves wounded,
and the hand alive only to pain. I use this
phrase because it is connected in my mind
with a visit from a local visitor,--I am not
sure he was a preacher,--who used to go
daily through the wards, and talk to us or
write our letters. One morning he stopped
at my bed, when this little talk occurred:
``How are you, lieutenant?''
``Oh,'' said I, ``as usual. All right, but this
hand, which is dead except to pain.''
``Ah,'' said he, ``such and thus will the
wicked be--such will you be if you die in
your sins: you will go where only pain can
be felt. For all eternity, all of you will be
just like that hand--knowing pain only.''
I suppose I was very weak, but somehow I
felt a sudden and chilling horror of possible
universal pain, and suddenly fainted. When
I awoke the hand was worse, if that could be.
It was red, shining, aching, burning, and, as
it seemed to me, perpetually rasped with hot
files. When the doctor came I begged for
morphia. He said gravely: ``We have none.
You know you don't allow it to pass the
lines.'' It was sadly true.
I turned to the wall, and wetted the hand
again, my sole relief. In about an hour Dr.
Wilson came back with two aids, and
explained to me that the bone was so crushed
as to make it hopeless to save it, and that,
besides, amputation offered some chance of
arresting the pain. I had thought of this
before, but the anguish I felt--I cannot say
endured--was so awful that I made no more
of losing the limb than of parting with a
tooth on account of toothache. Accordingly,
brief preparations were made, which I
watched with a sort of eagerness such as
must forever be inexplicable to any one who
has not passed six weeks of torture like that
which I had suffered.
I had but one pang before the operation.
As I arranged myself on the left side, so as
to make it convenient for the operator to use
the knife, I asked: ``Who is to give me the
ether?'' ``We have none,'' said the person
questioned. I set my teeth, and said no
I need not describe the operation. The
pain felt was severe, but it was insignificant
as compared with that of any other minute of
the past six weeks. The limb was removed
very near to the shoulder-joint. As the second
incision was made, I felt a strange flash
of pain play through the limb, as if it were
in every minutest fibril of nerve. This was
followed by instant, unspeakable relief, and
before the flaps were brought together I was
sound asleep. I dimly remember saying, as
I pointed to the arm which lay on the floor:
``There is the pain, and here am I. How
queer!'' Then I slept--slept the sleep of
the just, or, better, of the painless. From
this time forward I was free from neuralgia.
At a subsequent period I saw a number of
cases similar to mine in a hospital in Philadelphia.
It is no part of my plan to detail my weary
months of monotonous prison life in the
South. In the early part of April, 1863, I
was exchanged, and after the usual thirty days'
furlough returned to my regiment a captain.
On the 19th of September, 1863, occurred
the battle of Chickamauga, in which my regiment
took a conspicuous part. The close of
our own share in this contest is, as it were,
burned into my memory with every least
detail. It was about 6 P. M., when we found
ourselves in line, under cover of a long, thin
row of scrubby trees, beyond which lay a
gentle slope, from which, again, rose a hill
rather more abrupt, and crowned with an
earthwork. We received orders to cross this
space and take the fort in front, while a
brigade on our right was to make a like
movement on its flank.
Just before we emerged into the open
ground, we noticed what, I think, was common
in many fights--that the enemy had
begun to bowl round shot at us, probably
from failure of shell. We passed across the
valley in good order, although the men fell
rapidly all along the line. As we climbed
the hill, our pace slackened, and the fire grew
heavier. At this moment a battery opened
on our left, the shots crossing our heads
obliquely. It is this moment which is so
printed on my recollection. I can see now,
as if through a window, the gray smoke, lit
with red flashes, the long, wavering line,
the sky blue above, the trodden furrows,
blotted with blue blouses. Then it was as if
the window closed, and I knew and saw no
more. No other scene in my life is thus
scarred, if I may say so, into my memory. I
have a fancy that the horrible shock which
suddenly fell upon me must have had something
to do with thus intensifying the
momentary image then before my eyes.
When I awakened, I was lying under a tree
somewhere at the rear. The ground was
covered with wounded, and the doctors were
busy at an operating-table, improvised from
two barrels and a plank. At length two of
them who were examining the wounded
about me came up to where I lay. A hospital
steward raised my head and poured
down some brandy and water, while another
cut loose my pantaloons. The doctors
exchanged looks and walked away. I asked
the steward where I was hit.
``Both thighs,'' said he; ``the doctors won't
``No use?'' said I.
``Not much,'' said he.
``Not much means none at all,'' I answered.
When he had gone I set myself to thinking
about a good many things I had better have
thought of before, but which in no way concern
the history of my case. A half-hour
went by. I had no pain, and did not get
weaker. At last, I cannot explain why, I
began to look about me. At first things
appeared a little hazy. I remember one
thing which thrilled me a little, even then.
A tall, blond-bearded major walked up to
a doctor near me, saying, ``When you've a
little leisure, just take a look at my side.''
``Do it now,'' said the doctor.
The officer exposed his wound. ``Ball
went in here, and out there.''
The doctor looked up at him--half pity,
half amazement. ``If you've got any
message, you'd best send it by me.''
``Why, you don't say it's serious?'' was the
``Serious! Why, you're shot through the
stomach. You won't live over the day.''
Then the man did what struck me as a
very odd thing. He said, ``Anybody got a
pipe?'' Some one gave him a pipe. He filled
it deliberately, struck a light with a flint, and
sat down against a tree near to me. Presently
the doctor came to him again, and
asked him what he could do for him.
``Send me a drink of Bourbon.''
As the doctor left him, he called him back.
``It's a little rough, doc, isn't it?''
No more passed, and I saw this man no
longer. Another set of doctors were handling
my legs, for the first time causing pain.
A moment after a steward put a towel over
my mouth, and I smelled the familiar odor of
chloroform, which I was glad enough to
breathe. In a moment the trees began to
move around from left to right, faster and
faster; then a universal grayness came before
me,--and I recall nothing further until
I awoke to consciousness in a hospital-tent.
I got hold of my own identity in a moment
or two, and was suddenly aware of a sharp
cramp in my left leg. I tried to get at it to
rub it with my single arm, but, finding
myself too weak, hailed an attendant. ``Just
rub my left calf,'' said I, ``if you please.''
``Calf?'' said he. ``You ain't none. It's
``I know better,'' said I. ``I have pain in
``Wall, I never!'' said he. ``You ain't
got nary leg.''
As I did not believe him, he threw off the
covers, and, to my horror, showed me that I
had suffered amputation of both thighs, very
``That will do,'' said I, faintly.
A month later, to the amazement of every
one, I was so well as to be moved from the
crowded hospital at Chattanooga to Nashville,
where I filled one of the ten thousand
beds of that vast metropolis of hospitals. Of
the sufferings which then began I shall
presently speak. It will be best just now to
detail the final misfortune which here fell upon
me. Hospital No. 2, in which I lay, was
inconveniently crowded with severely wounded
officers. After my third week an epidemic
of hospital gangrene broke out in my ward.
In three days it attacked twenty persons.
Then an inspector came, and we were transferred
at once to the open air, and placed in
tents. Strangely enough, the wound in my
remaining arm, which still suppurated, was
seized with gangrene. The usual remedy,
bromine, was used locally, but the main
artery opened, was tied, bled again and
again, and at last, as a final resort, the
remaining arm was amputated at the shoulder-
joint. Against all chances I recovered, to
find myself a useless torso, more like some
strange larval creature than anything of
human shape. Of my anguish and horror
of myself I dare not speak. I have dictated
these pages, not to shock my readers, but to
possess them with facts in regard to the
relation of the mind to the body; and I hasten,
therefore, to such portions of my case as best
illustrate these views.
In January, 1864, I was forwarded to
Philadelphia, in order to enter what was known
as the Stump Hospital, South street, then in
charge of Dr. Hopkinson. This favor was
obtained through the influence of my father's
friend, the late Governor Anderson, who has
always manifested an interest in my case, for
which I am deeply grateful. It was thought,
at the time, that Mr. Palmer, the leg-maker,
might be able to adapt some form of arm to
my left shoulder, as on that side there
remained five inches of the arm-bone, which I
could move to a moderate extent. The hope
proved illusory, as the stump was always too
tender to bear any pressure. The hospital
referred to was in charge of several surgeons
while I was an inmate, and was at all times
a clean and pleasant home. It was filled with
men who had lost one arm or leg, or one of
each, as happened now and then. I saw one
man who had lost both legs, and one who had
parted with both arms; but none, like myself,
stripped of every limb. There were collected
in this place hundreds of these cases, which
gave to it, with reason enough, the not very
pleasing title of Stump Hospital.
I spent here three and a half months,
before my transfer to the United States Army
Hospital for Injuries and Diseases of the
Nervous System. Every morning I was carried
out in an arm-chair and placed in the library,
where some one was always ready to write or
read for me, or to fill my pipe. The doctors
lent me medical books; the ladies brought me
luxuries and fed me; and, save that I was
helpless to a degree which was humiliating, I
was as comfortable as kindness could make me.
I amused myself at this time by noting in
my mind all that I could learn from other
limbless folk, and from myself, as to the
peculiar feelings which were noticed in regard
to lost members. I found that the great
mass of men who had undergone amputations
for many months felt the usual consciousness
that they still had the lost limb.
It itched or pained, or was cramped, but
never felt hot or cold. If they had painful
sensations referred to it, the conviction of its
existence continued unaltered for long periods;
but where no pain was felt in it, then
by degrees the sense of having that limb
faded away entirely. I think we may to
some extent explain this. The knowledge
we possess of any part is made up of the
numberless impressions from without which
affect its sensitive surfaces, and which are
transmitted through its nerves to the spinal
nerve-cells, and through them, again, to the
brain. We are thus kept endlessly informed
as to the existence of parts, because the
impressions which reach the brain are, by a law
of our being, referred by us to the part from
which they come. Now, when the part is cut
off, the nerve-trunks which led to it and from
it, remaining capable of being impressed by
irritations, are made to convey to the brain
from the stump impressions which are, as
usual, referred by the brain to the lost parts
to which these nerve-threads belonged. In
other words, the nerve is like a bell-wire.
You may pull it at any part of its course,
and thus ring the bell as well as if you pulled
at the end of the wire; but, in any case,
the intelligent servant will refer the pull to
the front door, and obey it accordingly. The
impressions made on the severed ends of the
nerve are due often to changes in the stump
during healing, and consequently cease when
it has healed, so that finally, in a very healthy
stump, no such impressions arise; the brain
ceases to correspond with the lost leg, and,
as les absents ont toujours tort, it is no longer
remembered or recognized. But in some
cases, such as mine proved at last to my sorrow,
the ends of the nerves undergo a curious
alteration, and get to be enlarged and
altered. This change, as I have seen in my
practice of medicine, sometimes passes up
the nerves toward the centers, and occasions
a more or less constant irritation of the nerve-
fibers, producing neuralgia, which is usually
referred by the brain to that part of the lost
limb to which the affected nerve belonged.
This pain keeps the brain ever mindful of
the missing part, and, imperfectly at least,
preserves to the man a consciousness of
possessing that which he has not.
Where the pains come and go, as they do
in certain cases, the subjective sensations
thus occasioned are very curious, since in
such cases the man loses and gains, and loses
and regains, the consciousness of the presence
of the lost parts, so that he will tell you,
``Now I feel my thumb, now I feel my
little finger.'' I should also add that nearly
every person who has lost an arm above the
elbow feels as though the lost member were
bent at the elbow, and at times is vividly
impressed with the notion that his fingers are
Other persons present a peculiarity which
I am at a loss to account for. Where the
leg, for instance, has been lost, they feel as
if the foot were present, but as though the leg
were shortened. Thus, if the thigh has been
taken off, there seems to them to be a foot at
the knee; if the arm, a hand seems to be at
the elbow, or attached to the stump itself.
Before leaving Nashville I had begun to
suffer the most acute pain in my left hand,
especially the little finger; and so perfect was
the idea which was thus kept up of the real
presence of these missing parts that I found
it hard at times to believe them absent. Often
at night I would try with one lost hand to
grope for the other. As, however, I had no
pain in the right arm, the sense of the
existence of that limb gradually disappeared, as
did that of my legs also.
Everything was done for my neuralgia
which the doctors could think of; and at
length, at my suggestion, I was removed, as
I have said, from the Stump Hospital to the
United States Army Hospital for Injuries
and Diseases of the Nervous System. It was
a pleasant, suburban, old-fashioned country-
seat, its gardens surrounded by a circle of
wooden, one-story wards, shaded by fine trees.
There were some three hundred cases of
epilepsy, paralysis, St. Vitus's dance, and wounds
of nerves. On one side of me lay a poor fellow,
a Dane, who had the same burning neuralgia
with which I once suffered, and which I now
learned was only too common. This man
had become hysterical from pain. He carried
a sponge in his pocket, and a bottle of
water in one hand, with which he constantly
wetted the burning hand. Every sound
increased his torture, and he even poured water
into his boots to keep himself from feeling
too sensibly the rough friction of his soles
when walking. Like him, I was greatly
eased by having small doses of morphia
injected under the skin of my shoulder with a
hollow needle fitted to a syringe.
As I improved under the morphia treatment,
I began to be disturbed by the horrible
variety of suffering about me. One man
walked sideways; there was one who could
not smell; another was dumb from an explosion.
In fact, every one had his own abnormal
peculiarity. Near me was a strange
case of palsy of the muscles called
rhomboids, whose office it is to hold down the
shoulder-blades flat on the back during the
motions of the arms, which, in themselves,
were strong enough. When, however, he
lifted these members, the shoulder-blades
stood out from the back like wings, and got
him the sobriquet of the ``Angel.'' In my
ward were also the cases of fits, which very
much annoyed me, as upon any great change
in the weather it was common to have a
dozen convulsions in view at once. Dr. Neek,
one of our physicians, told me that on one
occasion a hundred and fifty fits took place
within thirty-six hours. On my complaining
of these sights, whence I alone could not fly,
I was placed in the paralytic and wound
ward, which I found much more pleasant.
A month of skilful treatment eased me
entirely of my aches, and I then began to
experience certain curious feelings, upon
which, having nothing to do and nothing
to do anything with, I reflected a good deal.
It was a good while before I could correctly
explain to my own satisfaction the phenomena
which at this time I was called upon
to observe. By the various operations
already described I had lost about four fifths
of my weight. As a consequence of this I
ate much less than usual, and could scarcely
have consumed the ration of a soldier. I slept
also but little; for, as sleep is the repose of
the brain, made necessary by the waste of its
tissues during thought and voluntary movement,
and as this latter did not exist in my
case, I needed only that rest which was
necessary to repair such exhaustion of the nerve-
centers as was induced by thinking and the
automatic movements of the viscera.
I observed at this time also that my heart,
in place of beating, as it once did, seventy-
eight in the minute, pulsated only forty-five
times in this interval--a fact to be easily
explained by the perfect quiescence to which
I was reduced, and the consequent absence of
that healthy and constant stimulus to the
muscles of the heart which exercise occasions.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, my
physical health was good, which, I confess,
surprised me, for this among other reasons:
It is said that a burn of two thirds of the
surface destroys life, because then all the
excretory matters which this portion of the
glands of the skin evolved are thrown upon
the blood, and poison the man, just as happens
in an animal whose skin the physiologist
has varnished, so as in this way to destroy
its function. Yet here was I, having lost at
least a third of my skin, and apparently none
the worse for it.
Still more remarkable, however, were the
psychical changes which I now began to perceive.
I found to my horror that at times I
was less conscious of myself, of my own
existence, than used to be the case. This
sensation was so novel that at first it quite
bewildered me. I felt like asking some one
constantly if I were really George Dedlow or
not; but, well aware how absurd I should
seem after such a question, I refrained from
speaking of my case, and strove more keenly
to analyze my feelings. At times the conviction
of my want of being myself was overwhelming
and most painful. It was, as well
as I can describe it, a deficiency in the egoistic
sentiment of individuality. About one half
of the sensitive surface of my skin was gone,
and thus much of relation to the outer world
destroyed. As a consequence, a large part
of the receptive central organs must be out
of employ, and, like other idle things,
degenerating rapidly. Moreover, all the great
central ganglia, which give rise to movements in
the limbs, were also eternally at rest. Thus
one half of me was absent or functionally
dead. This set me to thinking how much a
man might lose and yet live. If I were unhappy
enough to survive, I might part with
my spleen at least, as many a dog has done,
and grown fat afterwards. The other organs
with which we breathe and circulate the blood
would be essential; so also would the liver;
but at least half of the intestines might be
dispensed with, and of course all of the limbs.
And as to the nervous system, the only parts
really necessary to life are a few small ganglia.
Were the rest absent or inactive, we should
have a man reduced, as it were, to the lowest
terms, and leading an almost vegetative
existence. Would such a being, I asked myself,
possess the sense of individuality in its usual
completeness, even if his organs of sensation
remained, and he were capable of consciousness?
Of course, without them, he could
not have it any more than a dahlia or a tulip.
But with them--how then? I concluded that
it would be at a minimum, and that, if utter
loss of relation to the outer world were capable
of destroying a man's consciousness of
himself, the destruction of half of his sensitive
surfaces might well occasion, in a less
degree, a like result, and so diminish his
sense of individual existence.
I thus reached the conclusion that a man
is not his brain, or any one part of it, but all
of his economy, and that to lose any part
must lessen this sense of his own existence.
I found but one person who properly appreciated
this great truth. She was a New England
lady, from Hartford--an agent, I think,
for some commission, perhaps the Sanitary.
After I had told her my views and feelings
she said: ``Yes, I comprehend. The fractional
entities of vitality are embraced in the
oneness of the unitary Ego. Life,'' she added,
``is the garnered condensation of objective
impressions; and as the objective is the
remote father of the subjective, so must
individuality, which is but focused subjectivity,
suffer and fade when the sensation lenses, by
which the rays of impression are condensed,
become destroyed.'' I am not quite clear that
I fully understood her, but I think she
appreciated my ideas, and I felt grateful for
her kindly interest.
The strange want I have spoken of now
haunted and perplexed me so constantly that
I became moody and wretched. While in
this state, a man from a neighboring ward
fell one morning into conversation with the
chaplain, within ear-shot of my chair. Some
of their words arrested my attention, and I
turned my head to see and listen. The
speaker, who wore a sergeant's chevron and
carried one arm in a sling was a tall, loosely
made person, with a pale face, light eyes of
a washed-out blue tint, and very sparse yellow
whiskers. His mouth was weak, both
lips being almost alike, so that the organ
might have been turned upside down without
affecting its expression. His forehead,
however, was high and thinly covered with sandy
hair. I should have said, as a phrenologist,
will feeble; emotional, but not passionate;
likely to be an enthusiast or a weakly bigot.
I caught enough of what passed to make
me call to the sergeant when the chaplain
``Good morning,'' said he. ``How do you
``Not at all,'' I replied. ``Where were you
``Oh, at Chancellorsville. I was shot in the
shoulder. I have what the doctors call paralysis
of the median nerve, but I guess Dr.
Neek and the lightnin' battery will fix it.
When my time's out I'll go back to Kearsarge
and try on the school-teaching again.
I've done my share.''
``Well,'' said I, ``you're better off than I.''
``Yes,'' he answered, ``in more ways than
one. I belong to the New Church. It's a
great comfort for a plain man like me, when
he's weary and sick, to be able to turn away
from earthly things and hold converse daily
with the great and good who have left this
here world. We have a circle in Coates
street. If it wa'n't for the consoling I get
there, I'd of wished myself dead many a time.
I ain't got kith or kin on earth; but this
matters little, when one can just talk to them
daily and know that they are in the spheres
``It must be a great comfort,'' I replied,
``if only one could believe it.''
``Believe!'' he repeated. ``How can you
help it? Do you suppose anything dies?''
``No,'' I said. ``The soul does not, I am sure;
and as to matter, it merely changes form.''
``But why, then,'' said he, ``should not the
dead soul talk to the living? In space, no
doubt, exist all forms of matter, merely in
finer, more ethereal being. You can't suppose
a naked soul moving about without a
bodily garment--no creed teaches that; and
if its new clothing be of like substance to
ours, only of ethereal fineness,--a more delicate
recrystallization about the eternal spiritual
nucleus,--must it not then possess
powers as much more delicate and refined as
is the new material in which it is reclad?''
``Not very clear,'' I answered; ``but, after
all, the thing should be susceptible of some
form of proof to our present senses.''
``And so it is,'' said he. ``Come to-morrow
with me, and you shall see and hear for yourself.''
``I will,'' said I, ``if the doctor will lend
me the ambulance.''
It was so arranged, as the surgeon in
charge was kind enough, as usual, to oblige
me with the loan of his wagon, and two
orderlies to lift my useless trunk.
On the day following I found myself, with
my new comrade, in a house in Coates street,
where a ``circle'' was in the daily habit of
meeting. So soon as I had been comfortably
deposited in an arm-chair, beside a large pine
table, the rest of those assembled seated
themselves, and for some time preserved an
unbroken silence. During this pause I scrutinized
the persons present. Next to me, on
my right, sat a flabby man, with ill-marked,
baggy features and injected eyes. He was,
as I learned afterwards, an eclectic doctor,
who had tried his hand at medicine and several
of its quackish variations, finally settling
down on eclecticism, which I believe professes
to be to scientific medicine what vegetarianism