Devonshire Characters and Strange Events/Dr. J. W. Budd
DR. J. W. BUDD
From a photograph by his brother, Dr. Richard Budd of Barnstaple
Rarely has a whole family proved so able—and, what is more, proved the excellence of a home education, where the father is competent to give it. Samuel Budd, the surgeon of North Tawton, managed to teach his nine sons himself in the intervals of his professional calls; and he taught them so well that not one of his sons but made his mark in the world.
Samuel, the eldest son, was born in 1806. He was one of the seven who embraced the medical profession. He became a member of the College of Physicians in 1859. He died, aged seventy-nine, in 1885. George was born in February, 1808, and became a Fellow of the College in 1841. He died in March, 1882. Richard was born in April, 1809, became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1863, and died in February, 1896. William has been already mentioned.
John Wreford, the subject of this memoir, was born in 1813, practised at Plymouth, and died 11 November, 1873. The other sons were Charles Octavius, Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge; Dr. Christian Budd, of North Tawton; and Francis Nonus, born 1823, became eighth Wrangler in 1846, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, 1848, practised as barrister for many years at Bristol, bought a little property at Batworthy, Chagford, on the Teign, where he made a fine collection of flint weapons and tools found in his fields, where was once a "station" for their manufacture.
Doctor John Wreford Budd, as already said, practised in Plymouth. He was a man of rough manners, blunt and to the point in all he said. When Roundell Palmer was electioneering in Plymouth in 1847 he stayed with Budd, who was very proud of his guest. Meeting Mr. William Collier in the street, he stopped him, and without any preliminaries said: "Can your cook make soup as clear as sherry? Mine can, sir—soup like that every day, whilst Mr. Palmer was staying with me."
Another time, when he had some friends to lunch, there was some delay. He took out his watch, placed it before him on the table, and turning to Mrs. Budd, said: "What a thing this onpunctuality is! If it be not brought to table in two minutes, I'll dra'e it all out at the window," spoken in the broadest Devonian dialect.
A gentleman writes: "An excellent cook came to us from the service of Dr. Budd. She was epileptic, and the Doctor's violence increased her trouble. With us she remained for many years until age made her unfit for work. She told me that once preparations were well advanced for a dinner party, when the Doctor came down to the kitchen, as was his wont. She had been plucking a brace of pheasants, and some blood from the beaks had stained her apron. This defilement roused the Doctor to such frenzy that he seized and flung out of the window or smashed up all the prepared dishes. As the guests were due to arrive very shortly, Mrs. Budd, in a state of distraction, sent all over the town for such cold joints, sweets, etc., as could be obtained from hotels, confectioners, and other caterers. With this scratch meal she was obliged to regale her guests, without being able to explain the reason of the novelty. But some inkling of the truth came to be known or was guessed by her visitors.
"Dr. Stewart, of Plymouth, told me one day that a friend of his passing Dr. Budd's house was startled by the sudden descent of a leg of mutton in the street, flung out of the window by the irate Doctor because either somewhat over- or underdone.
"Dr. Budd would often, when giving a dinner party, rise at the conclusion of the first courses, saying ’I shan't take any sweets,’ would go to the fireside and fill a long 'churchwarden' clay, then, leaning against the mantelpiece, calmly smoke and join in the conversation of the guests as they continued at table.
"He was a tall, heavily-built man, with a full, high-coloured face, not intellectual in appearance, and with warm brown hair and side whiskers."
He was out shooting one day with Mr. Calmady. A pheasant rose, and both men raised their guns, and the bird came down like lead.
"That's my burd," shouted Budd.
"I really think not; I am sure I brought it down," said Mr. Calmady.
"It's my burd, I zay. I'll swear to it. Never missed in my life, any more than blundered in my profession. It's mine."
"Very well. Yours it shall be."
Up rose another pheasant. Each hastened to load, when it turned out that the Doctor's gun had not been discharged at all.
A gentleman writes me: "My mother remembers travelling by train in the same carriage with the Doctor. Two other men also got in; and one, who may have been the worse for liquor, began grossly to insult the other; whereupon the Doctor interfered and took the part of the insulted man. 'What business is this of yours?' shouted the offender. At this moment the train drew up in the Plymouth station. Dr. Budd jumped out, turned up his sleeves, squared his fists, and shouted, 'Now then, you blackguard, I'll show you what I have to do with it,' and knocked him down on the platform."
A friend took Budd out in his yacht. As the vessel skimmed through the smooth waters of the Sound—"He's a fool, a cursed fool," said Budd, "he who has the means and don't keep a yacht."
Presently the boat shot out beyond the breakwater, and began to pitch. Budd turned livid, and his lips leaden. "He's a fool, a cursed fool," said he, after he had stooped over the side, "he who, having the means, keeps a yacht; and he's a cursed fool who, having a friend that has a yacht, allows himself to be over-persuaded to go out with him."
Mrs. Calmady was in a very poor way. The doctors had bled her and allowed her only slops, and the poor lady was reduced to death's door. As a last resource Dr. Budd was called in. "Chuck the slops away, and chuck the doctors after them, with their pills and lancets," roared Budd. "Give her three or four glasses of champagne a day, a bowl of beef-tea every three hours, beefsteaks, mutton-chops, and oysters."
In fact, Dr. J. W. Budd broke through the wretched system that prevailed of bleeding and giving lowering diet for every kind of malady, which was the Sangrado system of the day.
A girl was shown to him in a sort of box, almost like a coffin. He had been called in to examine her, and he said that he would undertake to cure her if she were taken to his house and his treatment were not interfered with.
"But, oh! Doctor," said the mother, "dearest Evangeline can eat nothing but macaroons."
"And, oh! Doctor, she cannot bear the light; and the shutters have to be kept fast, and even the blinds down. The least ray of light causes her excruciating pain."
"And, Doctor Budd, she cannot stand; she lies always in that box; and, what is more, she can't speak, only moans and mutters."
"I understand. Send her to me."
So the box was brought. To accommodate it a hearse was hired—no cab or carriage would contain it in a horizontal position.
The chest with the hysterical girl in it was carried into one of Budd's rooms in his house, where the shutters were closed and the curtains drawn.
The weeping mother departed after giving strict injunctions to the Doctor not to allow any noise to be made in the house, no doors to be slammed, or poor darling Evangeline would go into convulsions so highly strung were her sensitive nerves.
"Humph!" said Budd, and saw the good lady depart. He allowed ten minutes to elapse, and then he went upstairs, stamping on each step, threw open the door of the room in which his patient lay, and shouted—
"Halloo! What tomfoolery is this? I'll soon make an end to it." He went to the window, drew back the curtains, threw open the shutters, and let the sun stream into the apartment.
The girl began to moan and cry.
"Stop that nonsense!" said he. "I'm not like that fool of a mother of yours to believe in your whims. Get out of that box this instant."
The girl began to tremble, but made no attempt to obey.
Budd went to a drawer and pulled out a pistol. Then to a cupboard and emptied a draught into a glass.
"Now, then," said he, "which shall it be, pistol or poison? I'll gripe you with the dose till you squeal with good reason, or put a bullet into you—whichever you prefer. It's all one to me,but out of that box you jump."
And jump she did, and fell on her knees before Dr. Budd.
"Oh! please, please, do not kill me!"
"I am not going to kill you if you do what you are told. Sit down there," indicating a chair. The girl complied. He rang the bell, and when a servant appeared he ordered a beefsteak and a small bottle of porter and bread. These were speedily brought into the room.
"Now, then," said the Doctor, "eat and drink and enjoy yourself."
"I—I—I can only eat macaroons."
"Macaroons be d——d. You eat that steak and you drink that porter," roared Budd, "or"—and he proceeded to cock and present the pistol.
The girl tremblingly obeyed, but presently became interested in the succulent beef and some crisp potatoes, and the porter she sipped first, and then drank, and drained the tumbler.
"That will do for to-day," said Budd. "I have sent for your out-of-door clothes, and to-morrow morning you shall trundle a hoop round Princess Square. Now I leave you a packet of illustrated books. You dine with me this evening at seven."
Another hysterical girl he dealt with and cured even more expeditiously. He was shown into the room where she lay in bed, and was informed that she could not rise. The Doctor begged to be left alone in the room with her.
When all were gone forth, he locked the door; then proceeded to divest himself of his coat, next of his waistcoat, and when he began to unhitch his braces—
"Now, then, make room—I'm coming to bed!"
"Mamma! Mamma! Mamma!" screamed the girl, and pulled violently at the bell.
"All right, madam," said Budd when the mother arrived on the spot; "she's cured now. Get this little maid up instantly, and vacate the bed for me. If there be any more nonsense, madam, send for me."
A small girl had a tiresome nervous cough. Dr. Budd was called in. He heard her cough. Then he suddenly took her up in his arms and planted her on the mantelshelf.
"There!" said he. "Balance yourself here for half an hour." He pulled out his watch. "If you cough you will infallibly tumble over among the fire-irons and cut your head. You are a nice little girl, you are an active little girl, you are a pretty little girl; but you have one cussed fault which makes every one hate you, and I'm going to cure you of that. No coughing. The fire is burning, and if you do fall I suspect your skirts will catch fire, and you will be frightfully burnt, besides having your cheek cut open by the fender."
A young lady was one day brought to the Doctor by her parents, who were very anxious about her, as she was in a depressed condition of mind, out of which nothing roused her. Budd promised to give every attention to the case, and requested the parents to leave her with him at his residence in Princess Place. Soon afterwards he bade his coachman put to and take the young lady out for a drive. "And mind," said the Doctor, "you upset the carriage."
His orders were obeyed. The landau was upset in a ditch, and the young lady appeared screaming at the window to be extricated. "No more apathy now," said Budd; and sent her home cured.
Budd, with all his roughness, was a kind-hearted and liberal man. His surgery was at the "Cottage," in Westwell Street, and thousands streamed there every year full of implicit faith in Budd's powers. A child was one day brought to the "Cottage," a puny little sufferer. The Doctor, with his quick eye, saw that the case was critical; and although this was a free patient, he immediately had it sent to his own home in Princess Square, with strict orders that it was to be well fed and cared for; and it remained there for several days under his care without fee or reward.
A tradesman in Plymouth, living not long ago and in good circumstances, was at that time a man of straitened means. He was attacked by Asiatic cholera. Dr. Budd was called in, and saw that the case was severe and required every care; and he attended morning, noon, and night on some days almost hourly for a fortnight or three weeks, and at last the patient was cured. Then, with trembling lips, he asked Dr. Budd for his bill, thinking he would have to pay thirty or forty pounds. The Doctor replied: "You are a struggling tradesman, and cannot afford to pay much; if you cannot rake together five pounds, pay me what you can."
A girl suffering from S. Vitus's dance was brought to him. He looked hard at her. "Humph! Every time you make one of those jerks, I'll force you to kiss me," said the Doctor. This succeeded—for, according to the general opinion, Dr. Budd was " mortal ugly."
A boy patient was fencing with his questions. Budd put the poker in the fire, and when it was red-hot took it to the bedside, and with a severe look and voice declared that he would at once apply it if the lad did not answer fully to his questions. The threat produced the immediate result of eliciting the replies he required, so as to enable him to diagnose the case.
Dr. Budd had an aptitude to diagnose his patient at a glance. At one time a young schoolmaster of Willinghull, aged twenty-two, named Horswell, visited him. He had formerly been in Plymouth, and knew the fame of Dr. Budd. As he had broken down in health, he returned to Plymouth. Two doctors had assured him that he would soon recover, but he thought he would obtain an opinion from Dr. Budd. This physician examined him, and told him in his usual blunt manner that he was food for worms. His right lung was gone, and his left was affected. "I shan't give you medicine. Eat and drink well, and keep out of the cold, and you will hold on for ten months no longer."
Horswell got better and returned to his duties at the Wesleyan School at Willinghull. He wrote frequently to his friends, and told them how much better he was, and jeered at Budd's prediction.
About eight months after his return he announced to his friends in Plymouth that he was about to be married, and again alluded to Budd's prediction, and promised to write announcing his wedding. That letter never came; but instead of it one with a black edge, informing his friends that Horswell had broken a blood-vessel and had died suddenly; and a post-mortem examination proved that the right lung had long been gone, and a portion of the left.
A drunken man fell into Sutton Pool. It was late in the evening, and very dark at the time, but a tradesman in the locality happening to hear the splash, raised the alarm. With great presence of mind, he laid hold of a number of newspapers, set them on fire, and threw them into the water. By this light the drowning man was seen and recovered, and taken into a public-house. Every means was adopted to restore animation. Several medical men were soon in attendance, and they pronounced the man out of danger. Dr. Budd put in his appearance somewhat late, and, shaking his head, pronounced the man's condition to be hopeless. The man slept well that night, and next day ate his breakfast and dinner as usual. The doctors all called to see him in the morning, and all, with the exception of Dr. Budd, pronounced him out of danger; but Budd stepped forward and asked the man if he was prepared to die, "for," said he, "you will be dead before six o'clock this evening." No one present, not even the man himself, believed the statement, as all was going on so favourably. But Budd was right, and before sundown the man was dead. Dr. Budd considered it impossible that he should recover from the blood-poisoning caused by taking into his stomach the poisonous deposits in Sutton Pool.
A miserly old fellow who was well off in worldly goods visited Dr. Budd at his "Cottage" in Westwell Street, and, thinking to save the guinea fee, dressed himself in rags. The Doctor recognized him, but listened patiently to the old man's tale, and then asked him where he lived, to which the man replied by naming a very poor part of the village near his own residence and using a feigned name.
The Doctor said: "Do you know who lives in that big house in the place with the door that has a pediment over it?" To which the old man replied "Yes," and mentioned his own name.
"Then," said Dr. Budd, "call on that gentleman on your way home and tell him that the devil will have him in a fortnight."
A few days beyond the fortnight the old gentleman actually died.
A Dartmoor small farmer came to him one day, suffering from congestion of the lungs. "You go home, and to bed at once," said Dr. Budd; "and here's a draught for you to take internally, and here are some leeches to apply externally."
"Please, your honour, to write it down," said John.
"Can you read?"
"Yes, I reckon, but my Mary can't."
So Dr. Budd wrote the instructions.
A week or fortnight later the patient called again. He was recovered.
"Well," said the Doctor, "you took my prescriptions?"
"Aye, I reckon I did—and drashy things they were."
"You put the leeches on?"
"I reckon I put 'em in, sir. I read what you'd wrote and we understood you to say that they was to be fried, so my Mary, her put the pan on th' vire, and a pat o' butter and a shred o' onion, and fried 'em, live as they were. But they was cruel nasty, like bits of leather. But Lord! for mussy's sake, Doctor, don't ax me to ate any more o' them things. I'd rayther take a whole box o' pills all to wance."
A gentleman called on him one day just before Budd sat down to dinner, and brought with him his brother suffering from lock-jaw.
"I'm not going to be interfered with at my dinner for you or the King," said Budd; then to his servant, "Here, George, lay two plates for these gentlemen, the one who can't speak place opposite me at the bottom of the table, and for the other gentleman in the middle on my left."
Whether they would or no, the two visitors were obliged to comply; they knew the imperious nature of the Doctor, and that unless he were humoured, he would kick them out of the house and refuse to attend to the patient.
A roast leg of mutton was placed before Dr. Budd; he proceeded to carve a great slice, then took it and threw the slab of meat in the face of the gentleman on his left, who staggered back and hastily seized his napkin to wipe his face and sweep the juice from his shirt-front and waistcoat. But before he had cleansed himself, slap came another slice of mutton in his face, and then a third. At this the man with the lock-jaw burst into a roar of laughter.
"There," said Budd, "I have cured you: you will have to pay for a new waistcoat for your brother, it's messed with grease."
Budd was sent for to visit a poor man who was bad with quinsy, could not swallow, could not even speak. Said the Doctor to the patient's wife, "I be coming to dine with you, I and my assistant John."
"Lor' a mussy, sir, I ain't got nothing fit for gentlevolks to dine on here," said the amazed woman.
"Here's a guinea," said Budd. "Go and get us a bottle of wine and make us apple dumplings, and plenty of these latter. Will be here at one o'clock."
At the appointed hour, Budd and his assistant arrived. The table was spread with a clean cloth, and humble but neat ware was placed on it all in the room where the patient was lying gasping for breath. Budd and John seated themselves one at each end of the table; and the dumplings were produced, round, hard, hot, and steaming. Budd took one up in his hands, turned it about, and, all at once, threw it at the head of his assistant, and caught him full crash between the eyes. John sprang up. "Two can play at that game!" snouted he, and catching up another dumpling threw it at the Doctor, who dodged, and the apple burst its crust and remained clinging to the wall. This was the beginning of a war of pelting with dumplings; and it so tickled the patient that he burst out laughing and burst the quinsy.
He was visiting a labouring man who was weak, and Budd saw that what he needed more than physic was good nourishing diet. Now that day he was having mock-turtle soup at his table, so he sent a bowl of it to his patient. The man looked into the bowl, saw the pieces of calf's head floating in it, shook his head, thrust it away, and said, "I can't take that, there's too much of a surgeon's trade in it to suit my stomach, sure 'nuff."
Budd was visiting a farmer in the country. Every time he left, a prentice boy on the farm came with an anxious face to inquire how his master was.
The Doctor was touched with the intense interest the lad took in the condition of his master. One day as he left and the boy asked after the farmer, Budd shook his head and said, "I fear it's going bad with him."
Thereupon the boy burst out into a loud bohoo of tears and sobs.
"There, there," said the Doctor, "don't take on so, my lad. It can't be helped."
"Oh, you'd take on if you was in my place," sobbed the youth, "for missus makes us eat all the stock, pigs and what not, as dies on the farm."
He was visited in his consulting room by a patient who had lock-jaw.
"Come upstairs," said he; "I can do nothing with you here." He threw open the door and preceded the man up the flight of stairs. When he had got some way up he suddenly lurched against his patient, upset him, and sent him rolling heels over head to the bottom of the staircase.
The man yelled out from the bottom, "Confound you, Doctor, you've broken my arm!"
"Oh! is that all? I can set that. I have already loosened your jaw."
He visited the late Mrs. Radford, an aged lady.
"What you want," said he, "I'll tell you. Get a boat and a pair of sculls and row round Plymouth Sound; do that or be d——d."
"Doctor," replied she, "I can't do one—and I won't be the other, not even to please you."
When he resided in George Street, Devonport, the young officers often came to him to try, as the saying is now, "to pull his leg"; but they rarely got the better of him. Once a couple called with grave faces to inform him that a comrade had swallowed a blue-bottle fly, and that it was buzzing about in his interior and made him feel very ill. Doctor John went to an out-house and returned with a fat spider, and gave it to the young officers. "There," said he; "tell your friend to swallow that, and it will soon settle the blue-bottle."
On another occasion, some officers whom he had served invited him to dine at the mess with them, but, "No," said he; "I never dine from home."
"Very well," said they, "dine with you we will; and, if you will allow us, we will order a dinner to be served in your own house."
"No objection to that," said Budd, and he protested afterwards that they had given him the best dinner and the best wine he had ever eaten and drunk in his life.
From Devonport he removed to Westwell Street, Plymouth, and this became the Mecca of the poor, whom he attended with as much consideration as the richest patients; and every one took his or her turn; no favour was shown to one who could pay above another who could not.
Dr. John Budd would attend at the workhouse, to see the sick there. One day the master said to him, "There is Jose here again. He pretends that he is doubled up with lumbago, or something of that sort. The fellow, I believe, is a malingerer; he hates work, and he loves to be in the infirmary and have extra rations."
"I'll deal with him," said Budd; and he was shown into the ward where Jose lay groaning and crying out.
"Where is it, man?" asked the Doctor.
"Oh, sir! cruel pains right across my body. I can't walk; I can scarce breathe. Oh! oh! oh!" and he began to howl.
"I must examine your back," said the Doctor. "You must be placed on the table and your spine bared."
So the moaning rascal was placed, face downwards, on the board, and his hands and feet tied. He did not like that; he said it hurt him "cruel bad." But it had to be done, and he was stripped to the waist.
"I'll try Game's Balls on him," said Dr. Budd. The fellow, looking out of the corners of his eyes, saw an apparatus introduced, a couple of iron balls like large bullets, with handles to them; then a spirit lamp was lighted, and the balls were heated in the flame.
"I think I feel easier, sir," said Jose, who did not relish the preparations.
"But we're going to make you quite well," said the medical practitioner; and flinging his leg across Jose's hams he sat astride on him, and signed to his assistant to hand him the heated balls.
With these he began to pound the patient in the small of the back. They were not red hot, but nearly so, and the purpose of the application was to raise round blisters.
Jose yelled. "Take it patiently," said Budd; "it will do you good. Heat the balls again."
Further dabbing with the implement; vociferous yells from the patient. "I am well! I've no more pain. Have mercy on me!"
At last he was disengaged and sent back to bed. Next day away went Jose blistered in the back; not another visit from the Doctor would he abide. Nor did he appear again in the Plymouth workhouse. The man was well known elsewhere, and the master had communicated with other heads of workhouses in Devon. A few weeks later Jose turned up at Newton Abbot, and applied for admission into the workhouse; he was suffering badly, very badly, with spasms in the heart. He was taken to the infirmary, at once recognized, and the surgeon sent for.
"Humph!" said the medical man. "This is a case for Carne's Balls, I see. I've heard of him from Dr. Budd."
"I'll be shot if you try them on me!" roared Jose. "Let me go—I'm better—I'm well."
He was dismissed. About a fortnight later he appeared at Exeter workhouse, with his leg contracted, tottering and scarce able to walk. He was put into the infirmary. Said the master, "This is a more serious case than is apparent. We must send for Dr. Budd." There was then a Dr. Budd of Exeter.
"Budd! Budd!" shouted the man. "I'll have no Budds about me. Let me go. My leg is well."
One day, at North Tawton, a man doubled up with pain and reeling in his walk applied at several houses for relief, got some coppers, and came to the respectable house of evidently a well-to-do man, and rang the bell.
The servant at once opened and asked what he wanted. He stated his case and his need of help. "I'll go and call Dr. Budd," said the maid.
"Budd here! Budd there! Budd everywhere! I'll be off!" And, completely cured, away went the sick man as hard as his legs could carry him.
Whether he became a steady working man, or whether he fled the county and the region of Budds to malinger elsewhere, was never known, but the Devon workhouses saw him no more.
Budd was called to see a lady one night after dinner. As soon as he reached the room, feeling his own condition, he staggered to the foot of the bed, clung to a bedpost, and exclaimed, "Drunk, by Gad!" and walked or reeled out of the room. Next morning a letter came from the lady, with a handsome cheque, and a petition that he would not mention the condition in which he had found her.