A doctor’s dramatic diary

Dalrymple’s most recent column in the British Medical Journal (subscription required) offers praise for the 1832 book Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician, by Samuel Warren:

It is very well written; and if the stories are dramatic it is because reality was dramatic. Indeed you might say that one of the stories, “Cancer,” is understated rather than the reverse, and indeed it is very moving.

The wife of a naval captain is discovered to have breast cancer while her husband is at sea…The story ends: “I shall not easily forget an observation she made at the last visit I paid her. She was alluding, one morning, distantly and delicately, to the personal disfigurement she had suffered [during the operation]. I, of course, said all that was soothing. ‘But, Doctor, my husband’—she said, suddenly, while a faint crimson mantled on her cheek—adding, falteringly after a pause,—‘I think [he] will love me yet!”

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