The Author mounteth his Nag, and setteth out, full Speed, to seek Practice, Fame, and Fortune, as a Country Practitioner.
IN the autumn of one thousand seven hundred and eighty five, I returned to my parents, who received me with rapture. My father had reared, for me, a likely pie bald mare. Our saddler e|quipped me with horse furniture, not for|getting the little saddle bags, which I rich|ly replenished with drugs, purchased at Boston. With a few books, and my sur|geon's instruments, in my portmanteau, and a few dollars in my pocket, I sat out, Page 129 with a light heart, to seek practice, fame, and fortune, as a country practitioner.
My primary object was to obtain a place of settlement. This I imagined an easy task, from my own acquirements, and the celebrity of my preceptor. My first stop was at a new township, though tolerably well stocked with a hardy labo|rious set of inhabitants. Five physi|cians of eminence had, within a few years, attempted a settlement in this place. The first fell a sacrifice to strong liquor; the second put his trust in horses, and was ruined, by the loss of a valuable sire; the third quarrelled with the midwife, and was obliged to remove; the fourth hav|ing prescribed, rather unluckily, for a young woman of his acquaintance, griev|ously afflicted with a tympany, went to the Ohio; and the last, being a prudent man, who sold his books and instruments for wild land, and raised his own crop of medicine, was actually in the way of Page 130 making a great fortune; as, in only ten years practice, he left, at his decease, an estate, both real and personal, which was appraised at one hundred pounds, law|ful money. This account was not likely to engage the attention of a young man, upon whose education twice the sum had been expended.
In the next town, I was assured I might do well, as a physician, if I would keep a grog shop, or let myself, as a labourer, in the hay season, and keep a school in the winter. The first part of the proposi|tion, I heard with patience; but, at the bare mention of a school, I fled the town abruptly. In the neighbouring town, they did not want a physician, as an ex|perienced itinerant doctor visited the place, every March, when the people had most leisure to be sick and take physic. He practised with great success, especially in slow consumptions, charged very low, and took his pay in any thing and every Page 131 thing. Besides, he carried a mould with him, to run pewter spoons, and was e|qually good at mending a kettle and a constitution.