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being the anatomy and functions of the nervous system.
I may take this opportunity of observing that I have found few things to contribute more to my own improvement than the composition of my lectures, and the habit otherwise of recording my knowledge and thoughts in writing. It has enabled me to detect my own deficiencies, to avoid hasty conclusions, and has taught me to be less conceited of my own opinions than I should have been otherwise. Another result has been to give many things a permanent place in my memory, the impressions of which, without such artificial help, would have been evanescent. In the early part of my life I was accustomed to make written notes of books which I read, a few of which are still preserved among my papers, and I refer to them with no small degree of satisfaction as having rendered me an important service.
It was in the year 1821, and while I held the office of professor at the College of Surgeons, that I was first called on to attend the King, George IV., under the following circumstances. His Majesty had one of the common encysted tumours which occur on the scalp, which was large enough to be troublesome to him. He showed it to Sir Everard Home, who advised him to have it removed by an operation. The King was anxious to undergo the operation. His Majesty, however, expressed to Sir William Knighton that he wished the operation to be performed by myself, Sir Everard being, however, present, and Knighton was commissioned to make this communication to me. I cannot say that I derived any particular satisfaction from it, as I found that I had already obtained the patronage of the public, and was quite contented with it. In the meanwhile, however, the subject of the proposed operation was mentioned to Lord Liverpool, who was then prime minister. Lord Liverpool represented to the King that it was a matter which might concern the public as well as himself, and urged that nothing should be done without Sir Astley (then Mr.) Cooper being first consulted, and that, if an operation was determined on, Sir Astley should perform it. Sir Astley being at that time the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE LATE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE LATE
most conspicuous person in his profession, I cannot doubt that Lord Liverpool's judgment was quite correct. Accordingly, Sir Everard Home, Sir Astley Cooper, and myself were summoned to Windsor; when, after examining the tumour, we agreed that nothing but an operation could be of any service, and that it should be performed when the King returned to London. Mr. Cline was consulted afterwards, who confirmed the opinion which we had given. Eventually the operation was performed by Sir Astley Cooper, in the presence of Sir Everard Home, Mr. Cline Sir William Knighton, the King's physicians, Sir Henry Halford, Sir Mathew Tierney, and myself, making indeed a very large assembly for so small a matter. After this attendance, Cooper was created a baronet, and Sir Everard Home, was comforted by being appointed to the office of surgeon to Chelsea Hospital, vacated by the death of Mr. Thomas Keate, and by his son, who was then a very young lieutenant in the navy, being advanced rather prematurely t the rank of commander. From this time, when any surgical operation was required, the King, for some years, was in the habit of applying to Cooper; but on some special occasions I was summoned to meet him in consultation, though I held no actual appointment in the royal household until the year 1828, when, on Sir Astley having been appointed Serjeant-Surgeon, I was gazetted as surgeon to his Majesty's person in his place.
In the year 1822, Mr. Griffiths, one of the principal surgeons of St. George's Hospital, having been compelled by ill-health to resign his office, I was, as might have been anticipated, elected without any opposition as his successor, For many years after my first being appointed assistant-surgeon, Sir Everard had very little interfered with the management of his patients, and from this circumstance, and from that of my having had for many years the charge of Mr. Gunning's patients during his absence in the Peninsula, I had abundant opportunities of improving myself in my profession.
In the early part of the year 1823 I sustained a severe loss by the death of my affectionate
friend Sir Thomas Plumer, who sank at last under the influence of a local disease, which had tormented him for fourteen or fifteen years; but which, nevertheless, had not interfered with the able and conscientious discharge of his duties as Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, ViceChancellor, and Master of the Rolls, which last situation he occupied at the time of his death. As I have already mentioned, I had been intimately acquainted with him and his family for eleven or twelve years, had been his frequent visitor at Canons Park, where he resided during his vacations, and had received from him such undeviating kindness and attention as could not but be very acceptable to a young man who was labouring to make his way in a profession, without having as yet reaped the advantage of his labours.
In the autumn of the same year the medical profession was deprived of one who for many years had occupied perhaps the most conspicuous place in it, and was indeed one of its brightest ornaments, by the death of Dr. Baillie. I have already mentioned that he had married my first