The Choice of Glories [1/2]
Short Fiction, Serial
Medical Practitioners, Education
Alfred, 'the eldest child of respectable parents' has long shown a taste for the study of physic, and at the age of sixteen is removed from school 'under the idea of his being speedily placed with a country surgeon' (298). He spends six weeks on a summer tour around England with his uncle and cousins, and travels to his grandfather's on his way home. He is attentive to his pious grandfather, but announces that his six-week tour has put 'great doubts' in his mind about entering the 'profession of physic' (301) He thinks that there is 'a great deal very disagreeable in the life of a surgeon', and that he would like other professions better. He does not fear the study, but opines that 'the compounding of medicine is very dull, and very inglorious too; only consider, for a young man of a fine mind to be occupied in pounding with a pestle and mortar, and weighing grains of magnesia'. He adds that 'a surgeon has not his time at his command' and suffers constant demands, without gaining glory. (302) These thoughts have been prompted by his encounters during his tour with the Army and Navy, which he considers to offer more honoured professions. Alfred and his grandfather agree to have further discussion on the subject at a later time.
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