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IN succeeding Sir William Blizard in the honorable office of Professor of Anatomy and Surgery, I think it right to inform my audience that he was... my earliest instructor in these sciences; and o that I am greatly indebted to him for much and most valuable information respecting them. My warmest thanks are also due to him for the interest he excited in my mind towards these studies, and for the excellent advice he gave me, in common with other students, to direct me in the attainment of knowledge.
“...Let your search after truth,” he
would say, “be eager and constant. Be wary in admitting propositions to be facts before you have submitted them to the strictest examination. If, after this, you believe them to be true, never disregard or forget any one of them, however unimportant it may at the time appear. Should you perceive truths to be important, make them motives of action ; let them serve as springs to your con
“Many persons,” he remarked, “acknowledge truth with apathy; they assent to it, but it produces no further effect on their minds. Truths, however, are of importance, in proportion as they admit of inferences which ought to have an influence in our conduct; and if we neglect to draw those inferences, or to act in conformity to them, we fail in essential duties.”
Our preceptor further contrived by various
means to excite a degree of enthusiasm in the minds of his pupils. He displayed to us the beau ideal of the medical character:—I cannot readily tell you how splendid and brilliant he made it appear;-and then, he cautioned us never to tarnish its lustre by any disingenuous conduct, by any thing that wore even the semblanee of dishonour. He caused the sentiment of the philanthropic Chremes, in the Heautontimorumenos of Terence, to be inscribed on the walls of the hospital-surgery, that students should have constantly
before them an admonition to humanity,
drawn from a reflection on their own wants: Homo sum ; humani nihil a me alienum puto.
I could with pleasure enlarge on
this theme, but I check myself, be
cause I am aware that what I am now saying may rather annoy than gratify the feelings of my preceptor. What I have stated, however, is a tribute due from me to him; and I pay it on the present occasion, in hopes that the same precepts and motives may have the same effect on the minds of the junior part of my audience, as they were accustomed in general to have upon the pupils of Sir William Blizard.
That which most dignifies man, is the cultivation of those intellectual faculties which distinguish him from the brute creation. We should indeed seek truth; feel its importance; and act as the dictates of reason direct. By exercising the powers of our minds in the attainment of medical knowledge we learn and may improve a science of the greatest public utility. We have need of enthusiasm, or of some strong incentive, to induce
us to spend our nights in study, and our days in the disgusting and healthdestroying avocations of the dissecting room; or in that careful and distressing observation of human diseases and infirmities, which alone can enable us to understand, alleviate, or remove them: for upon no other terms can we be considered as real students of our profession. We have need of some powerful inducement, exclusively of the expectation of fame or emolument: for unfortunately a man may attain a considerable share of public reputation and practice without undertaking the labours I have mentioned, without being a real student of his profession. I place before you the most animating incentive I know of to labour truly to acquire professional knowledge. You will by such conduct possess yourselves of the enviable power of being extensively useful to your fellow-crea