Journal of Dr GFW
Friday, 6 June, 1828
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Again the light of Heaven cheers my vision, and in a measure dispels night's wandering dream of greatness, and once more I must see the probable vicissitudes of fortune expected. Once more must retrospection and anticipation in alternate breezes flit across the mind. Once more I can rove the field of observation. Once more to gain new acquaintances, a circumstance not repugnant to my wishes. Once more to visit the bedside of the sick and feel its disquietude and endeavor to arrest a human being from the grasp of fell disease. Once more to see prejudice and ignorance arrayed with all its withering influence in opposition to correct principles. This will always be the case where the want of correct information in early youth prevails. Nothing elevates Society so much as the domination of just principles when the mind is most susceptible of impressions. These, in this stage of life, become the permanent and durable principles of life.
At three o'clock, returning from a visit to my little patient, the practice of medicine occupation occupied my thoughts. I believe there are but few occupations in life equal for the producing of disquietude of mind to that of medicine, and none probably opens a greater field of observation and contemplation. The life of a physician is to be spent by the bedside of pain and misery in almost every shape and grade, both of mental and physical form, from the grave and fatal forms of acute diseases, to the light and slight disorders of affluent hypochondriacs. His life all anxiety and sickness, his constant companion by day and by night. He is viewed as one at whose presence pain and disease must take their departure. Fortunnately, some exceptions to this in the more considerate and better-informed walks of society and those who do not look on a physician as a Slave. But the larger number of the people imagine that disease, however long standing and inveterate, must be immediately removed or dissatisfaction is created. And the legitimate consequences of such feelings do not lie dormant and slumber in silence, but are thrown to the breeze and are soon wafted to the surrounding country. So that, he is loved or hated, despised or judged. A Physician in full practice has no rest, no peace of mind, except it be that derived from a conscientious discharge of duty, which is the greatest and most reasonable happiness a man can enjoy. He has no time he can call his own. Always endeavoring to investigate the cause of disease and the selection of medicinal substances or compounds best calculated to remove it. Does a day of relaxation arrive, his Books must be perused and new publications looked over, etc., etc., etc.
All this is perfectly just, and man is unworthy to be a Physician unless he attend it strictly. It is not only just, but to every well-disposed practitioner a real pleasure more pure and unalloyed than can be derived from an opposite course, because it is a duty, an obligation we are under to those who may employ us. It makes no difference what may be the motives that induce their call on us, or the bad treatment we receive. (Duty must be done.)