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Boston Medical and Surgical Journal Memorial of Dr. Page

By 1844, the year Dr. Page died, the Massachusetts Medical Society published a journal for its members. Still in their infancy, medical societies sought to establish a male medical profession with well-defined standards. This tribute to Dr. Page lauded what the society considered professional and personal excellence.



Questions to Ask these Pages:

1. What biographical data can be found in this document?

2. Compare the values praised in this memoir to those of Martha Ballard.

3. Why was there no similar tribute to Martha Ballard?

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  Memoir of Benjamin Page, MD 173

Dr. Page's great forte as a physician was the management of fevers and chronic diseases. In his treatment of surgical diseases he was also particularly successful. He made no attempt to excel in operative surgery, though there are few of the minor operations which in the course of his long practice, he had not repeatedly and successfully performed. His chief end and aim was to restore wounded and lost parts, and to avoid operations when practicable ; and there are many now living who owe to him the preservation of "life and limb," which might have been mutilated or destroyed in more adventurous or less skilful hands.

He never sought for extraordinary cases to herald his skill, being satisfied with the triumph of the moment, and relying of the semper paratus which should always attach to the physician and surgeon--never losing sight of the truth conveyed in the beautiful thought of Milton,

---- ---- ---- to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the true wisdom. ------ ------

In the management of dislocations and fractures he was particularly expert and invariably successful. His treatment of consumption differed from most other practitioners, and was cordial and restorative instead of depleting and debilitating ; and he was happy to find, towards the close of his life, that his system of practice was beginning to be more generally appreciated, and adopted with the happiest results. The bugbear inflammation, which in these northern latitudes leads to such deplorable and fatal mischief, in the indiscriminate use of calomel and the lancet, never haunted him in his practice. He often cautioned his pupils against their baneful effects, and thought it better for young practitioners to avoid them altogether, till from riper years and observations they had learned to estimate their importance, and successfully apply them to practice.

"Better," he would say, "never used, than universally abused." Verily their name is legion, and their work is death--and he enforced his counsel in his earlier and later years, by two memorable examples, Presidents Washington and Harrison, both of whom fell melancholy victims to a false and irrational system of practice, and the deplorable errors of the schools. Falsus principia, falsus medicinae.

Dr. Page was unsurpassed, also, if not unequalled, in the success of his obstetric practice. How important he regarded, and how successfully he practised it, appears from the fact that he attended upwards of three thousand females in their confinement, without the loss of a single life from the first year of his practice ! This is almost miraculous, and may challenge the professional records of Europe or America for anything to compare with it. The causes of this success may be traced chiefly to his uncommon tact and skill, but above all to his intuitive knowledge of disease, his profound and unerring judgment, and the unbounded confidence everywhere and at all times, and in all emergencies, reposed in him ; and lastly, to the preparatory measures, and the soothing regimen which he usually advised those who submitted to his charge. He rarely invoked instrumental aid, or made use of those popular and energetic means so common in the hands of others. In this branch

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