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Rip Van Winkle, M. D [Medical Poem]
by [?]

So Rip began to look at people’s tongues
And thump their briskets (called it “sound their lungs”),
Brushed up his knowledge smartly as he could,
Read in old Cullen and in Doctor Good.
The town was healthy; for a month or two
He gave the sexton little work to do.

About the time when dog-day heats begin,
The summer’s usual maladies set in;
With autumn evenings dysentery came,
And dusky typhoid lit his smouldering flame;
The blacksmith ailed, the carpenter was down,
And half the children sickened in the town.
The sexton’s face grew shorter than before–
The sexton’s wife a brand-new bonnet wore–
Things looked quite serious–Death had got a grip
On old and young, in spite of Doctor Rip.

And now the Squire was taken with a chill–
Wife gave “hot-drops”–at night an Indian pill;
Next morning, feverish–bedtime, getting worse–
Out of his head–began to rave and curse;
The Doctor sent for–double quick he came
Ant. Tart. gran. duo, and repeat the same
If no et cetera. Third day–nothing new;
Percussed his thorax till ‘t was black and blue–
Lung-fever threatening–something of the sort–
Out with the lancet–let him bleed–a quart–
Ten leeches next–then blisters to his side;
Ten grains of calomel; just then he died.

The Deacon next required the Doctor’s care–
Took cold by sitting in a draught of air–
Pains in the back, but what the matter is
Not quite so clear,–wife calls it “rheumatiz.”
Rubs back with flannel–gives him something hot–
“Ah!” says the Deacon, “that goes nigh the spot.”
Next day a rigor–“Run, my little man,
And say the Deacon sends for Doctor Van.”
The Doctor came–percussion as before,
Thumping and banging till his ribs were sore–
“Right side the flattest”–then more vigorous raps–
“Fever–that’s certain–pleurisy, perhaps.
A quart of blood will ease the pain, no doubt,
Ten leeches next will help to suck it out,
Then clap a blister on the painful part–
But first two grains of Antimonium Tart.
Last with a dose of cleansing calomel
Unload the portal system–(that sounds well!)”

But when the selfsame remedies were tried,
As all the village knew, the Squire had died;

The neighbors hinted. “This will never do;
He’s killed the Squire–he’ll kill the Deacon too.”

Now when a doctor’s patients are perplexed,
A consultation comes in order next–
You know what that is? In a certain place
Meet certain doctors to discuss a case
And other matters, such as weather, crops,
Potatoes, pumpkins, lager-beer, and hops.
For what’s the use?–there ‘s little to be said,
Nine times in ten your man’s as good as dead;
At best a talk (the secret to disclose)
Where three men guess and sometimes one man knows.

The counsel summoned came without delay–
Young Doctor Green and shrewd old Doctor Gray–
They heard the story–“Bleed!” says Doctor Green,
“That’s downright murder! cut his throat, you mean
Leeches! the reptiles! Why, for pity’s sake,
Not try an adder or a rattlesnake?
Blisters! Why bless you, they ‘re against the law–
It’s rank assault and battery if they draw
Tartrate of Antimony! shade of Luke,
Stomachs turn pale at thought of such rebuke!
The portal system! What’s the man about?
Unload your nonsense! Calomel’s played out!
You’ve been asleep–you’d better sleep away
Till some one calls you.”

“Stop!” says Doctor Gray–
“The story is you slept for thirty years;
With brother Green, I own that it appears
You must have slumbered most amazing sound;
But sleep once more till thirty years come round,
You’ll find the lancet in its honored place,
Leeches and blisters rescued from disgrace,
Your drugs redeemed from fashion’s passing scorn,
And counted safe to give to babes unborn.”