It reads as if it were one of the landmarks of the latter half of the century. I asked him how on earth it got there; but I could only learn that the woman was fifty-six inches round the waist, and that he had treated her with elaterium.

That leads me to another point. You ask me whether his cures are really remarkable, and, if so, what his system is. I answer unhesitatingly, that his cures are very remarkable, indeed, and that I look upon him as a sort of Napoleon of medicine. His view is that the pharmacopaeal doses are in nearly every instance much too low. Excessive timidity has cut down the dose until it has ceased to produce a real effect upon the disease.

Medical men, according to his view, have been afraid of producing a poisonous effect with their drugs. With him, on the contrary, the whole art of medicine lies in judicious poisoning, and when the case is serious, his remedies are heroic. Where, in epilepsy, I should have given thirty-grain doses of bromide or chloral every four hours, he would give two drachms every three. No doubt it will seem to you very kill-or-cure, and I am myself afraid that a succession of coroners’ inquests may check Cullingworth’s career; but hitherto he has had no public scandal, while the cases which he has brought back to life have been numerous. He is the most fearless fellow. I have seen him pour opium into a dysenteric patient until my hair bristled. But either his knowledge or his luck always brings him out right.

Then there are other cures which depend, I think, upon his own personal magnetism. He is so robust and loud-voiced and hearty that a weak nervous patient goes away from him recharged with vitality. He is so perfectly confident that he can cure them, that he makes them perfectly confident that they can be cured; and you know how in nervous cases the mind reacts upon the body. If he chose to preserve crutches and sticks, as they do in the mediaeval churches, he might, I am sure, paper his consulting room with them. A favourite device of his with an impressionable patient is to name the exact hour of their cure. “My dear,” he will say, swaying some girl about by the shoulders, with his nose about three inches from hers, “you’ll feel better to-morrow at a quarter to ten, and at twenty past you’ll be as well as ever you were in your life. Now, keep your eye on the clock, and see if I am not right.” Next day, as likely as not, her mother will be in, weeping tears of joy; and another miracle has been added to Cullingworth’s record. It may smell of quackery, but it is exceedingly useful to the patient.

Still I must confess that there is nothing about Cullingworth which jars me so much as the low view which he takes of our profession. I can never reconcile myself to his ideas, and yet I can never convert him to mine; so there will be a chasm there which sooner or later may open to divide us altogether. He will not acknowledge any philanthropic side to the question. A profession, in his view, is a means of earning a livelihood, and the doing good to our fellow mortals, is quite a secondary one.

“Why the devil should we do all the good, Munro?” he shouts. “Eh, what? A butcher would do good to the race, would he not, if he served his chops out gratis through the window? He’d be a real benefactor; but he goes on selling them at a shilling the pound for all that. Take the case of a doctor who devotes himself to sanitary science. He flushes out drains, and keeps down infection. You call him a philanthropist! Well, I call him a traitor. That’s it, Munro, a traitor and a renegade! Did you ever hear of a congress of lawyers for simplifying the law and discouraging litigation? What are the Medical Association and the General Council, and all these bodies for? Eh, laddie? For encouraging the best interests of the profession. Do you suppose they do that by making the population healthy? It’s about time we had a mutiny among the general practitioners. If I had the use of half the funds which the Association has, I should spend part of them in drain-blocking, and the rest in the cultivation of disease germs, and the contamination of drinking water.”

Of course, I told him that his views were diabolical; but, especially since that warning which I had from his wife, I discount everything that he says. He begins in earnest; but as he goes on the humour of exaggeration gets hold of him, and he winds up with things which he would never uphold in cold blood. However, the fact remains that we differ widely in our views of professional life, and I fear that we may come to grief over the question.

What do you think we have been doing lately? Building a stable—no less. Cullingworth wanted to have another one at the business place, as much, I think, for his patients as his horses; and, in his audacious way, he determined that he would build it himself. So at it we went, he, I, the coachman, Mrs. Cullingworth, and the coachman’s wife. We dug foundations, got bricks in by the cartload, made our own mortar, and I think that we shall end by making a very fair job of it. It’s not quite as flat-chested as we could wish; and I think that if I were a horse inside it, I should be careful about brushing against the walls; but still it will keep the wind and rain out when it is finished. Cullingworth talks of our building a new house for ourselves; but as we have three large ones already there does not seem to be any pressing need.

Talking about horses, we had no end of a fuss here the other day. Cullingworth got it into his head that he wanted a first-class riding horse; and as neither of the carriage ones would satisfy him, he commissioned a horse dealer to get him one. The man told us of a charger which one of the officers in the garrison was trying to get rid of. He did not conceal the fact that the reason why he wished to sell it was because he considered it to be dangerous; but, he added, that Captain Lucas had given L150 for it, and was prepared to sell it at seventy. This excited Cullingworth, and he ordered the creature to be saddled and brought round. It was a beautiful animal, coal black, with a magnificent neck and shoulders, but with a nasty backward tilt to its ears, and an unpleasant way of looking at you. The horse dealer said that our yard was too small to try the creature in; but Cullingworth clambered up upon its back and formally took possession of it by lamming it between the ears with the bone handle of his whip. Then ensued one of the most lively ten minutes that I can remember. The beast justified his reputation; but Cullingworth, although he was no horseman, stuck to him like a limpet. Backwards, forwards, sideways, on his fore feet, on his hind feet, with his back curved, with his back sunk, bucking and kicking, there was nothing the creature did not try. Cullingworth was sitting alternately on his mane and on the root of his tail—never by any chance in the saddle—he had lost both stirrups, and his knees were drawn up and his heels dug into the creature’s ribs, while his hands clawed at mane, saddle, or ears, whichever he saw in front of him. He kept his whip, however; and whenever the brute eased down, Cullingworth lammed him once more with the bone handle. His idea, I suppose, was to break its spirit, but he had taken a larger contract than he could carry through. The animal bunched his four feet together, ducked down his head, arched his back like a yawning cat, and gave three convulsive springs into the air. At the first, Cullingworth’s knees were above the saddle flaps, at the second his ankles were retaining a convulsive grip, at the third he flew forward like a stone out of a sling, narrowly missed the coping of the wall, broke with his head the iron bar which held some wire netting, and toppled back with a thud into the yard. Up he bounded with the blood streaming down his face, and running into our half-finished stables he seized a hatchet, and with a bellow of rage rushed at the horse. I caught him by the coat and put on a fourteen-stone drag, while the horse dealer (who was as white as a cheese) ran off with his horse into the street. Cullingworth broke away from my grip, and cursing incoherently, his face slobbered with blood, and his hatchet waving over his head, he rushed out of the yard—the most diabolical looking ruffian you can imagine. However, luckily for the dealer, he had got a good start, and Cullingworth was persuaded to come back and wash his face. We bound up his cut, and found him little the worse, except in his temper. But for me he would most certainly have paid seventy pounds for his insane outburst of rage against the animal.

I daresay you think it strange that I should write so much about this fellow and so little about anybody else; but the fact is, that I know nobody else, and that my whole circle is bounded by my patients, Cullingworth and his wife. They visit nobody, and nobody visits them. My living with them brings the same taboo from my brother doctors upon my head, although I have never done anything unprofessional myself. Who should I see in the street the other day but the McFarlanes, whom you will remember at Linlithgow? I was foolish enough to propose to Maimie McFarlane once, and she was sensible enough to refuse me. What I should have done had she accepted me, I can’t imagine; for that was three years ago, and I have more ties and less prospect of marriage now than then. Well, there’s no use yearning for what you can’t have, and there’s no other man living to whom I would speak about the matter at all; but life is a deadly, lonely thing when a man has no one on his side but himself. Why is it that I am sitting here in the moonlight writing to you, except that I am craving for sympathy and fellowship? I get it from you, too—as much as one friend ever got from another—and yet there are some sides to my nature with which neither wife nor friend nor any one else can share. If you cut your own path, you must expect to find yourself alone upon it.

Heigh ho! it’s nearly dawn, and I as wakeful as ever. It is chilly, and I have draped a blanket round me. I’ve heard that this is the favourite hour of the suicide, and I see that I’ve been tailing off in the direction of melancholy myself. Let me wind up on a lighter chord by quoting Cullingworth’s latest article. I must tell you that he is still inflamed by the idea of his own paper, and his brain is in full eruption, sending out a perpetual stream of libellous paragraphs, doggerel poems, social skits, parodies, and articles. He brings them all to me, and my table is already piled with them. Here is his latest, brought up to my room after he had undressed. It was the outcome of some remarks I had made about the difficulty which our far-off descendants may have in determining what the meaning is of some of the commonest objects of our civilisation, and as a corollary how careful we should be before we become dogmatic about the old Romans or Egyptians.

“At the third annual meeting of the New Guinea Archaeological Society a paper was read upon recent researches on the supposed site of London, together with some observations upon hollow cylinders in use among the ancient Londoners. Several examples of these metallic cylinders or tubings were on exhibition in the hall, and were passed round for inspection among the audience. The learned lecturer prefaced his remarks by observing that on account of the enormous interval of time which separated them from the days when London was a flourishing city, it behoved them to be very guarded in any conclusions to which they might come as to the habits of the inhabitants. Recent research appeared to have satisfactorily established the fact that the date of the final fall of London was somewhat later than that of the erection of the Egyptian Pyramids. A large building had recently been unearthed near the dried-up bed of the river Thames; and there could be no question from existing records that this was the seat of the law-making council among the ancient Britons—or Anglicans, as they were sometimes called. The lecturer proceeded to point out that the bed of the Thames had been tunnelled under by a monarch named Brunel, who is supposed by some authorities to have succeeded Alfred the Great. The open spaces of London, he went on to remark, must have been far from safe, as the bones of lions, tigers, and other extinct forms of carnivora had been discovered in the Regent’s Park. Having briefly referred to the mysterious structures known as ‘pillar-boxes,’ which are scattered thickly over the city, and which are either religious in their origin, or else may be taken as marking the tombs of Anglican chiefs, the lecturer passed on to the cylindrical piping. This had been explained by the Patagonian school as being a universal system of lightning-conductors. He (the lecturer) could not assent to this theory. In a series of observations, extending over several months, he had discovered the important fact that these lines of tubing, if followed out, invariably led to large hollow metallic reservoirs which were connected with furnaces. No one who knew how addicted the ancient Britons were to the use of tobacco could doubt what this meant. Evidently large quantities of the herb were burned in the central chamber, and the aromatic and narcotic vapour was carried through the tubes to the house of every citizen, so that he might inhale it at will. Having illustrated his remarks by a series of diagrams, the lecturer concluded by saying that, although true science was invariably cautious and undogmatic, it was none the less an incontestable fact that so much light had been thrown upon old London, that every action of the citizens’ daily life was known, from the taking of a tub in the morning, until after a draught of porter he painted himself blue before retiring to rest.”

After all, I daresay this explanation of the London gas pipes is not more absurd than some of our shots about the Pyramids, or ideas of life among the Babylonians.

Well, good-bye, old chap; this is a stupid inconsequential letter, but life has been more quiet and less interesting just of late. I may have something a little more moving for my next.