Advice to Officers in India/Chapter 4

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1. ARRIVAL IN HOOGLY.— Dreary as the passage may be, and frequently as he may have wished it at an end, yet, when the voyage draws to a close the voyager often wishes it were otherwise, and feels averse to quit the dear old ship; he will feel that he has become a member of a new family; that he has contracted new ties and new associations, the strength of which he was not aware of, till they were put upon the stretch. The stranger awakes some morning and finds the colour of the ocean changed; the azure blue is gone, the wake is muddy as a duck pond; a gaudy butterfly is seen resting upon his cabin windows; and one or two land birds may be flitting around the ship— yet no land is in sight. As the morning clears a sail is seen,hull down to the northward, every telescope is brought to bear upon it; it is the pilot brig hove to with ensign at the peak, and the triumph of navigation is complete. Every stitch of canvas is now stretched upon the old ship, she closes with the little brig, a boat is lowered, the weather-worn, and yet well-worn pilot comes on board, and takes command of the ship, and the captain, late the despot of the deck, is superseded. Tops of palm-trees soon begin to show themselves, pinnacles of light-houses and land-marks resting on the watery horizon. Onward sails the ship for hours, yet no land is seen; the channel narrows, the shore for the first time becomes visible, and he finds himself in one of the numerous mouths of the great Ganges—the Hoogly. On nearing Kedgeree, the post-boat comes alongside and distributes its welcome budget of letters, fishing boats and fruit boats, laden with cocoanuts, pine apples, bananas, and pummaloes, and pomegranates,attach themselves to the stern,and their grotesque crews, in nearly primitive nakedness, attract attention. A Sampson steamer ranges along side, an engagement is made, the two ropes are made fast, and swift the vessel glides into the interior on the flood tide, saluting the numerous homeward bound ships anchored in the stream. The channel now narrows till the natives can be distinctly seen on either side, groves of many sorts of palm trees fringe the shores. An alligator may be seen basking on the mud like the dry trunk of a tree, possibly a tiger sneaking about in the distance, and dead bodies excite his horror as they float by, forming rafts for the vultures that are devouring them. Native music, and noise of dance and revelry resound from a village bazar. The houses are mere wigwams of reeds and thatch, shrouded in bamboo foliage, and loaded with immense water melons. The people are almost naked,or clothed in muslin robes, with silver rings on their wrists and ancles, their fingers and their toes,and golden ornaments in their ears and noses, and their caste and rank painted or enamelled on their foreheads, like escutcheons over a gateway. The stranger is agreeably surprised to find them so fair, and even so handsome, with more regular and finer turned features than those of his own countrymen; graceful in their gait, easy and polite in their manners, and in their intercourse with one another highly polished and civilized; speaking in an unknown language yet making themselves understood; kneeling in prayer along the highways, regardless of turmoil around them, or pouring out libations into the sacred stream. Garden Reach, with its suburban villas, now heaves in view, and the ship soon anchors off Fort William, with Calcutta and its palaces all before him.

2. LANDING AT CALCUTTA.— The stranger now lands houseless, homeless, friendless, companionless, and partly helpless, a stranger for the first time on the shores of a foreign land. The strand is crowded in the extreme with natives bathing, the coolies pounce upon his baggage like robbers, yet with no intention of stealing it; the palanquin-bearers rush into the water, fighting for the honour of conveying him to his destination, and his want of power to make himself understood perplexes him sadly; and he will, therefore, be fortunate if he can land under the protection of some one of experience. Should he have invitations to live with a friend,he will find his friendship doubly valuable; should he not, the best thing he can do is to go to Spence's Hotel, where he will be comfortable and can mature his plans for the future. If a cadet, he will be taken under the protection of the superintendent of cadets in Fort William, have quarters assigned him in the fort, and have a good mess to go to with other cadets as mess mates. On the day of his arrival, he must wait, in sword and surtout, upon the Town Major, the Assistant Adjutant General and report his arrival,and if an Assistant Surgeon, on the Secretary of the Medical Board, the Superintending Surgeon, and the Surgeon of the General Hospital. He must not expect much condescension or fellow feeling on such occasions, nor anything more than formal civility. What is the most important act of a young soldier's life is an every day occurrence to an old one in office. I have known sensitive young men hurt at the coldness of such receptions, and returning to their hotels in disgust. There have been bears in public offices, but such a generation has now passed away, and if a bear is by chance found, he is at least a tame one. If officers, holding such appointments, knew the comfort imparted to a Griff, by a kind demeanor, they would not be niggardly of such trifles.

Cadets are seldom allowed to remain long in Calcutta, but are ordered up to Benares or some upper station to do duty and pass their drill, preparatory to being posted to a regiment. They are generally placed under charge of some senior officer, and their passage is provided at the public expence. Assistant Surgeons are for the most part ordered to do duty at the General Hospital for three or four months. Civilians are also detained in Calcutta to study and pass in the languages.

3. SOCIETY.—Most young officers on arriving in Caicutta see but little of its society, and they may think themselves fortunate in having the entreé to some family circle. Nobody knows a stranger unless he makes the first advances, and calls; and this is so novel and so repugnant to modest young men, that they often prefer living aloof rather than obtruding upon the residents' notice. Moreover, no society undergoes a greater fluctuation than that of Calcutta. Most people are birds of passage, and the greater number are frequently changing appointments, to be replaced by others from the Mofussil (as the interior is called), so that in a few years the society is completely changed. Hence, even among the residents, many are indifferent about cultivating acquaintances that they are liable to be always losing; and certainly less sociality exists than would be the case were all permanently settled.

Calcutta may be aptly compared to a grand hotel, where travellers meet not only from all parts of India, but from all parts of the world. There assemble the young cadet, high in hope and eager to launch out into the career he expects to conduct him to glory and to fortune; the veteran, wearied with the weight of honours, grey and worn out before his time, panting to return to the land of his boyhood; the invalid—with the hectic flush upon his cheek, his sinews unstrung, and his raiment a world too wide for his shrunk shanks, preparing to embark for a more congeniai climate; the spinster with the rose of England still upon her cheek, bent upon conquest; and the maiden,all forlorn, dispirited and despondent, after an unsuccessful campaign under the banners of Cupid; and there may be seen the young widow in her weeds and in her teens, and the fatherless orphans in mourning and in smiles,preparing for the homeward voyage; and there may be seen the Mofusselites taking their annual spell of recreation; some sending children to England that they may never again see; others receiving children they sent home fourteen years ago, that on first seeing they do not recognise; some parting with sick wives, others receiving wives whose plighted troth they had received ere they left their fatherland.

4. LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION.—In few things is the stranger more deceived than in the returns he receives for letters of introduction, or tickets for soup, as they are called. He will do well never to calculate on more results from them than a little formal civility—and at most a dinner; and where more than that is forthcoming, he should consider it as surplus gain. Nor can he be surprised that this is the case, considering how letters of introduction are usually got up; that they are mere attempts to transfer interest from one to another, through the influence of a third party, perhaps, unknown to the bearer, that like bills of exchange, they are often over-drawn,and when presented for acceptance, no assets are found. In fact, I consider most letters as dampers to genuine hospitality; the resident gives the stranger a good dinner as a thing almost imposed upon him without the gratification of thinking it a free gift; and the stranger receives it, not as a proof of any quality of his own having given rise to the compliment, but as a debt transferred to him by some other person, perhaps, only known by name.

I by no means wish to insinuate that Indian society is deficient inhospitality. On the contrary, no part of the world excels it in this virtue;and the frankness with which it is extended is one of the most agreeable features of the country. This is particularly conspicuous in the interior, where, from the scarcity of inns, such is most needed. The door of every house is open to the traveller, and a hearty welcome is found within. Indeed, most people esteem it as a compliment to have a draft made upon their hospitality.

5. PATRONAGE.— All military patronage is divided between the Governor General and the Commander-in-Chief; but the line of distinction is not easily discerned. All civil appointments are filled up by the Governor General, or the Lieutenant Governors, with a line of demarcation equally obscure to the general observer.

Patronage in India, as in most parts of the world, is too often dispensed, not according to merit, but according to the interest,in the ordinary sense of the word, possessed by the candidate for preferment. Nepotism is the most certain means of getting on; strong letters from influential parties at home is another; some are promoted for talent; some by mere accident, and some convert their brass into gold by their impudence and importunity; patronage is a sort of property, and the holders of it are as sparing of it as if it were so much hard cash. It is quite amusing to see the fluctuations of interest upon a change of a Governor General or a Commander-in-Chief; the blasted hopes of some, totally irrespective of any transgression; and the improved prospects of others, equally irrespective of any claim to promotion. But such things have influenced the distribution of patronage in all countries and in all ages, and the stranger must not expect human nature in the tropics to form an exception; he, who would pioneer his own way to preferment, may console himself with the conviction that merit is more likely to meet with reward in the Company's service than in any other public Service, and he will find that the greatest ornaments of their armies have been men who by their own talents rose to fortune and renown, and carved out their own patronage.

6. SERVANTS.—Should the young officer enter into quarters, he will find it necessary to entertain the following servants, viz., a bearer, or footman, at seven rupees a month, a kidmutgar, or table attendant, on seven rupees, a mussalehee, or cook, on four rupees, a washerman on six rupees, a water-carrier, on five, and a sweeper on four, costing him thirty-three a month. Though this is the smallest possible establishment of servants it will no doubt appear a good deal, yet the curse of caste renders such unavoidable. Each man has his particular duty to which he adheres most religiously. One man will brush boots and shoes, but would not wash a plate though threatened with a drawn sword. He who cleans knives and forks would think it an unpardonable outrage to be obliged to sweep the floor; and the washer-man and the water carrier would think it equally outrageous to be obliged to do any indoor work. They are in general honest in the weightier matters of the law, but most of them will cheat a little; and not be satisfied unless they pocket six or eight per cent, of all the cash that passes through their hands. It is customary to trust the bearer with all the spare cash of the month; the master seldom sees a rupee, but keeps a running account and closes it twice a week. Besides keeping the cash, the bearer keeps master's keys, wardrobe, and almost everything else, and very rarely, indeed, betrays his trust. His washerman he will find a very serious evil, and that his pay is a trifle compared to the damage he does monthly. He will bring home the linen white as snow and dressed to perfection, but before it has passed four times through his hands it will be in rags. On inquiry into the cause, he will And that his doby washes his clothes by battering them with all his might on a grooved plank or a smooth stone, and so effectually as to ruin a wardrobe sewed English fashion in twelve months. Such is the inveteracy of the native character that though every one once a-week protests against the damage done, yet no one has been able to effect reform. I need not say how unadvisable it is to beat native servants, as some irritable young men are apt to do. This practice should be seriously avoided, as it is certain sooner or later to get him into trouble. I have on many occasions known natives killed by a blow that was intended only as a chastisement, and courts martial on a charge of manslaughter the consequence.

7. GENERAL HOSPITAL.—The Assistant-surgeon may expect to be two, three or four months in Calcutta, with little or no duty to perform, but merely to accompany the Surgeons of the General Hospital in their visits, and gain experience in the diseases peculiar to the country. He will have one or two rooms allotted to him as quarters, but entirely unfurnished. He must therefore buy a small set of camp tables, two chairs, a brass basin and stand, a bed, a few pots and pans, and some crockery, and set up a bachelor's establishment. He must now consider himself in the vortex of Indian society; must conform to the manners and customs of his compatriots; must submit to the numerous prejudices of caste amongst the natives, and be contented. He will be somewhat disappointed in the small number of patients in the general hospital, and wonder why such magnificent buildings and so large an establishment are not turned to more account. He will find the Native Hospital and Medical College Hospitals well worthy of frequent visits, as also the meetings of the Medical, and Asiatic, and Agricultural Societies. But he should weigh his income well before he becomes a member of either. He should not fail to attend all other public meetings; for though they may not be quite in his line, they are good schools for initiating him in the customs of the country and rubbing off the shyness and reserve not uncommon amongst young men fresh from school.

8. PROBATION OF ASSISTANT SURGEONS.—It is a subject of regret that the time spent by Assistant Surgeons after their arrival is not turned to better account. Doing duty at the general hospital is a mere misnomer; for they have no duty to perform, further than to kill time, beyond a discretionary attendance at the morning visit; and they generally leave it as unacquainted with the practical duties of their profession as when they left the university. A reform here is much wanted. The surgeon of the general hospital, with but little duty to perform, ought to have as active and efficient superintendence over young assistants, as the superintendent of cadets in Fort William has over young officers of the line; and Government would find it their interest to have a mess and establishment at the hospital corresponding with that for cadets. During their period of probation, they should attend as regularly as they did when at college the following institutions, for four or six months, viz., the General Hospital, and the hospital of the royal regiment there placed, the College Hospital, the Lunatic Asylums, European and native, and the Alipore Great Jail and Hospital, besides devoting two hours daily to the study of Hindostanni, under a Moonshee appointed for that purpose. At the expiration of the allotted course, they ought to undergo a regular examination, and if satisfactory, be allowed to enter upon the active and responsible duties of the profession, and not till then!

The Great Jail at Alipore ought to be a model jail; ought to be under the superintendence of a medical officer, where prison discipline, penal, industrial and financial, in the most improved manner, ought to be studied by the assistants preparatory to their performance of Zillah jail duties. At present,that enormous institution is, I believe, never visited, and its great advantages as a preparatory school are lost to Government. They should, further, be obliged to attend all courts martial, courts of inquest, and committees assembled in Fort William, in which medical evidence is concerned; and all corporal punishment; due notice of which would readily be given by the town major; and further, all coroner's inquests in the city, due notice of which would be given by the coroner.

To enable officers to give the desirable attendance at these institutions, it would be necessary to give them travelling allowance of sixty rupees a month, the regulated hire of a palkee carriage. Most Assistant Surgeons spin out their time in Calcutta, and see very little of its society; there are so many big wigs, that the tyro is lost in their shade. Nobody knows a stranger, unless the stranger makes the first advances, and calls; and this is so repugnant to the feelings of young men, that they prefer living aloof. They, therefore, often lead a solitary life, and before their time of probation is over, are glad to get off to the interior.

This is the time to become acquainted with the native language; and if at this period he neglects it, he will in future repent of it. It is a humiliating thing not to be able to speak Hindostanni fluently, and not be able to make oneself understood in the general routine of duty. Let him, therefore, engage a Moonshee, and devote four hours a-day to study.

9. ENNUI AND HYPOCHONDRIASIS.—The first six months is the most trying period of an Assistant-surgeon's career, perhaps the most critical of his life. Hitherto, he has been kept in a state of agitation—every hour has presented to his wondering eye something new and something gratifying; he has been sated with variety almost to intoxication, and has had only one drawback to complete his happiness—the want of some dear friend or companion to enhance his enjoyment, by socially sharing it with him. But the novelty of his arrival has now passed away; the flood-tide of excitement has turned, has ebbed, and neaped—left him stranded upon the sands of ennui. He sees every one around him busy but himself; every one too eager in the pursuit of his own affairs to pay any attention to a stranger. He has delivered his letters of introduction, and some of the addressed have left their cards at his quarters, or invited him to a dinner; and there the acquaintance has been suspended. He feels himself idle, indolent,solitary, and unfriended, and becomes unsettled, dispirited, perhaps home-sick and miserable.

There is a tide in the spirits of men as there is a tide in the affairs of men. There are in the sensorial ocean as many fluctuations as in the great Atlantic; the spring-tides of prosperity, and the neap-tides of adversity; the currents of self-interest, and the counter-currents of others' interest; the tornadoes of passion, and the calms of contemplation; the electric flashes of excitement, and the dark clouds of melancholy;—and each, and all of these, are so much affected by passing events, revolving in eccentric orbits, that the mental capacity is, as it were, churned into foam by the commotion, effervesces and evaporates, leaving the brain dry, the sensorium a moral quagmire, a hotbed of morbid phantoms and metaphysical miasmata, that poison the springs of life.

On a careful examination, it will be found that most people's spirits rise and fall with the barometer—a dull day or a clear day equally affect them; and perhaps every glimpse of sunshine,and every passing cloud, make some corresponding impression on our sensorium.

It would be very instructive to peruse a faithful journal of the various emotions which glance through the mind, even of the best-regulated individual, for one single day. How often would he be unable to assign any substantial reason for a flow of good spirits or a fit of the blues. What trivial events would be found to kick the beam of his mental equilibrium, from one extreme to the other. How often would he find that one portion of his intellectual faculties is preyed on by the other, as if the real ids that flesh is heir to were not enough to embitter sufficiently the cup of life, but that he must needs conjure up the creations of a morbid fancy and transpose his position, unconsciously comfortable, into one beset with all the infirmities of humanity.

So far is this uncontrollable propensity carried, that I believe we are more afflicted by imaginary and preconceived evils, than by those that actually befall us. In so far as we are personally concerned, there are two fixed points between which our anxiety is constantly vibrating, viz., our worldly prosperity and our bodily welfare. When we are in perfect health, how often do we apprehend misfortunes that never happen, reverses of fortunes that never have occurrence, and fret ourselves into an actual fever in consequence. When our worldly affairs are most prosperous, then we grow diffident of our health, and imagine the seeds of the most formidable diseases of the country, sown in our constitution, and these embryo ideal creations we watch with utmost circumspection, till some other, more palpable symptom of some other disease engrosses our attention, to be in its turn displaced by some equally visionary and deceptive.

This is an endemic under which a large proportion of medical students labour, and from long experience, I believe it to be more common amongst new-comers, than at any future period of their career. While a proper degree of precaution is absolutely necessary, too much nursing and anticipation of nature's mysterious laws is often injurious. I have seen this carried to ridiculous extremes; one was afraid to walk off the high road,lest he should tread upon a cobra, another, would not eat a mango lest it should give him dysentery, nor drink a glass of wine for fear of fever, nor sleep in the hottest weather with a door open for fear of rheumatism, nor sit under a punkah with Fahrenheit at 90, for fear of catching cold, nor bathe in the Ganges for fear of alligators. Nothing is more common than for them to construe a slight cold into a galloping consumption, a headache into the commencement of remittent fever, a bilious diarrhœa into cholera, ringing of the ears into threatened apoplexy, and a spasmodic twinge under the ribs into inflammation of the liver. In fact, every trifling tumefaction is magnified into a mountain;but the mountain instead of being parturient of all the evils of Pandora's box, generally ends in misconception, or in bringing forth nothing but its legitimate mouse.

Such meagrims are very natural, at least they are very prevalent, and they will leave the stranger with increased experience, but he may save himself a deal of anxiety by being for warned of their approach. I don't mean to plead exemption from such nonsense. On my first landing in India, I had also my share of them, but never knew them end in anything serious. The most formidable illness I ever had, was a jungle fever. It came upon me in camp like a thief in the night without any premonitory symptom, and when fast asleep. I had as narrow an escape with life as possible, yet I have looked forward to the issue of some trifling aliment with as much concern.

Experience will show that too much solicitude about one's health is seldom of any service. One is never so apt to catch a cold, as when guarding most against predisposing causes, and it is a well ascertained fact that none are more frequently victims of cholera than those who are always taking precautions against it. Another great error strangers a reliable to fall into,is the habit of taking medicine, and drugging themselves into a state of disease. Not contented with letting nature take her own way they force her to take a way of theirs, and drive her so hard in their new regime, that she in time forgets her own,and only recovers her normal functions with great difficulty.

10. THE VIS MEDICATRIX NATURÆ is an imperious dame that won't bear dictation, and seems to resist any officious interference with her constitution; a regular coquette, not to be won by direct addresses and straightforward courtship. Ask her for sleep at a given hour, and she will most likely deny it, and perhaps perversely pester you with it at a time when most wanted; when you are most thirsty you will be farthest distant from the well, when most hungry you will have a long hour and a half to wait for dinner, and when most fatigued you will have still a "guide long bittock" to travel. On the contrary, this vis medicatrix is never more provident than when accident takes us by surprise. If a grain of sand fall upon the eye, a gush of tears is instantly discharged which washes away the offending body; if any extraneous substance be received into the windpipe, violent coughing ensues and ejects it; if any dangerous poison be taken into the stomach, it will most likely be thrown out again by vomiting. If a man lose the sight of one eye, or the hearing of one ear, the sense of the remaining one will become much more acute; people born deaf and dumb have generally remarkably good eyesight, and the senses of hearing, touching, tasting and smelling of the blind, strike us with astonishment at their perfection.

Nature is a good surgeon as well as a good physician, and will amputate a limb, or unite a fracture, or salve a wound, or lose a bleeding vessel with very creditable skill. She even goes far beyond physic and surgery, for if an animal lose a member on which it is dependent for its existence, she now and then supplies a new one; a new claw to the lobster, a new tad to the lizard, new teeth to the alligator, new claws to the leopard. We cannot make a stumble without being conscious of her efforts to avert a fall; and if we do fall, she will so arrange matters as to make the fad as soft as possible; and should we be exposed to great hardships and privations, she will enable us to surmount them with impunity, when under ordinary circumstances they would be followed by the most untoward consequences, or perhaps with death.

11. STANDARD OF HEALTH.—It would no doubt be a very desirable thing to lay down a standard of perfect health with which to compare the cases of one's patients as he would compare their lineaments and proportions with those of the Venus de Medici and the Apollo Belvidere, and be able to demonstrate their different anomalies. But every man has a sliding scale of his own, by which his health must be measured, and which would be inapplicable to every other. One man may have a pulse ten beats above the average and another ten beats below the average, and yet both may be in perfect health. An indulgence that is conducive to the health of one man would be the cause of certain disease in many another. One man may smoke his thirty cheroots a-day, drink his dozen of beer, and yet for years live, laugh at the doctor and get fat upon it, while another would sink under a fourth of these allowances. One man may require some drain upon his constitution to preserve him in health that would be detrimental to most of his acquaintances enjoying as good health as he.

On arriving for the first time in a tropical climate, the stranger must be prepared to expect some trifling complaints, but temperance and discretion are his best directors. Above all things, let him be on his guard against the epidemic of new comers—hypochondriasis—as the greatest enemy to health and happiness, as the mildew that nips the bud of his new existence in its opening. But more let him guard against idleness, as the parent of hypochondriasis. It is essential to the enjoyment of a sound mind in a sound body that both be kept in constant exercise; and if duty be light, other resources must be brought into play. Nothing is more common than for official men to complain of the irksomeness of duty;but a month's idleness generally makes them glad to be back at their desks.

12. INDISCRETIONS.—Man's own indiscretion is perhaps as frequent a cause of bad health as climate. One man gets coup de soleil shooting snipe in the heat of the day; another catches fever beating the jungle for heavy game; another gets mauled by a tiger or a bear;and another breaks his leg hunting. Some drink themselves, some eat themselves, some sleep themselves,some gamble themselves, some drug themselves into a state of disease; yet the climate gets a great part of the blame.

The passions of manhood and the penalties entaded upon their gratification are causes of more broken constitutions than all other indiscretions put together. Lues everywhere abounds and occupies a large figure in every sick report. This is the Scyda of European life in India; the Charybdis is left-handed alliances with native females; and the "medio tutissimus ibis" is either through the Straits of Continence or of Matrimony.

If sickness should supervene, the young Assistant-surgeon should take the advice of his seniors. Few medical men are good patients, and they are still worse prescribers in their own cases. They are very liable to run into extremes either to underdo or to overdo, and rarely have that composure of mind, that impartiality of judgment,that uncompromising system of treatment which would guide them in similar cases entrusted to their own care. Should he, as will often happen, have no one near to consult, then he must, if possible, divide himself, the intellectual from the corporeal, and endeavour to weigh matters impartially and correctly; neither putting off necessary operations that may be painful, nor procrastinating the taking of medicine that ought to be taken without delay.

13. RISK OF LIFE.—The risk of life in India is very considerably greater than in Britain ; and three per cent, premium above the English rate is required on the insurance of lives. The average rate of mortality amongst European troops is five or six per cent, per annum, and of native troops, only one or two per cent. The mortality amongst medical men in all climates is greater than that of most others, and from authentic tables it is ascertained that of 100 medical men only 24 attain the age of 70; of so many lawyers, 29; and of so many clergymen, 42. The risk of life amongst new-comers is no doubt higher than amongst those inured to the country, and that risk is greater amongst those arriving late in life than amongst those of the age of puberty. Hence a reason why the stranger should be more cautious in his whole economy than the acclimatized. The climate of India is very inimical to children; most parents that can afford it send them to Europe about the age of six. The offspring of Europeans born and bred in the country is weakly and unhealthy—each successive generation becomes degenerated—even when the British blood has been kept pure, and unless re-invigorated by a European climate, the whole race would, before the fourth generation be extinct or good for nothing. How fallen from the status of their ancestors are the descendants of the old Portuguese since their first sojourn on these shores.

It might be expected that I should lay down a few practical hints for reference by officers not of the profession; but to do that in a way so as to be useful would be incompatible with the present book. A little learning is a dangerous thing in medicine even more so than in other departments. Besides officers, even when travelling, are never far removed from the reach of good advice.

So much for a first consultation!