Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
The following extract is a small portion of an annual address delivered by Professor Howe before the meeting of the National Eclectic Medical Association in 1868. It embodies his conception of the ideal physician. He believed the profession of medicine to be one of the noblest of the callings of men, and sought always by his professional life and teaching to uphold the dignity of the doctor. Himself clean and honorable, he could not brook anything unclean and disreputable in the make-up of the physician. The picture of the good and beloved physician as he paints him is not a rare one and many of the men that Dr. Howe knew and labored with could easily have prompted this artistic touch. Who would deny to Dr. Howe himself the title of "the good and beloved physician?"—Ed. Gleaner.
THE GOOD AND BELOVED PHYSICIAN.—The practice of medicine calls for the highest and best qualities in men. Its varied and arduous labors test the physical stamina of the strongest; its delicate and sacred trusts demand a refined and faultless moral culture; its general duties can not be performed well without education, genial manners, engaging and enlivening conversational powers, barring levity or insincerity. Such qualities are not found in a man with a beastly countenance, for they invariably imprint upon the features of the possessor a spiritual and intellectual expression, which no base impostor can assume at will.
The good and beloved physician carries hope and comfort to the hearts of the sick and suffering. He breaks sad news with such discretion and regard for the feelings of the near and dear that the weight of the blow falls less heavily. His step is so gentle and his words so musical that they charm the ears of the helpless. His hand is soothing as a woman's, yea, his heart is that of a lion. His ways are so peculiarly winning that the little child instinctively sees in him a friend. He has a cheerful word for every one—is fond of pleasantry, though he never descends to a rude joke. His life being spent in doing good, he becomes so devoted to the welfare of his friends that he does not feel like absenting himself for pleasure or recreation. There are fish in the streams and birds in the covers, but he can not leave his duties to bag them.
His declining years are as sunny as the days of boyhood, and his final departure is mourned by all except the young upstart, who has been impatiently waiting for the coveted patronage. He leaves with a smiling trust in the mysterious ways of Providence, though his sectarian friends can not tell of what branch of the church he pinned his faith. All his life he has been impartial in ministering to the spiritual comfort of the dying. In his younger days he had been a little given to materialistic reasonings, but as the shadows lengthened in the evening of his earthly existence he saw more clearly the will of the Master, and more firmly believed in a happy immortality. As is written expressly for him, he had cherished and oft repeated that beautiful Arabic injunction:
"So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep,
Thou alone may'st smile whilst all around thee weep."
—HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1868.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.