Days Like These

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24 December 1895

EDITH SOMERVILLE,

Irish novelist, writes to her cousin

Violet Martin:

"The show was a great success: they had quite 250 people. Harry, Mrs Scott Fennell, Miss Alex Elsner, and Miss Binger and Drummond Hamilton sang, and a Miss Lucy Guinness played the violin. We had cleared everything but a few chairs and a piano and a few tables for lamps, but the people were as thick in it as grass. Madame de Bunsen said, fingering my black and white velveteen blouse, `May I ask, Paris or London?' I said, `Skibbereen' - `Ah, alors, c'est la facon de la mettre!' "

24 December 1847

CHARLES GREVILLE,

civil servant and diarist,

records in his journal:

"I went yesterday to St George's Hospital to see the chloroform tried. A boy two years and a half was cut for a stone. He was put to sleep in a minute; the stone was so large and the bladder so contracted, the operator could not get hold of it, and the operation lasted above 20 minutes, with repeated probings with different instruments; the chloroform was applied from time to time, and the child never exhibited the slightest sign of consciousness, and it was exactly the same as operating upon a dead body. A curious example was shown of what is called the etiquette of the profession. The operator could not extract the stone, so at last handed the instrument to Keate, who is the finest operator possible, and he got hold of the stone. When he announced he had done so, the first man begged to have the forceps back that he might draw it out, and so it was transferred to him; but in taking it he let go of the stone, and the whole thing had to be done over again, but not without increasing the inflammation, and endangering the life of the child. I asked Keate why, when he had got hold of the stone, he did not draw it out. He said the man's `dignity' would have been hurt had he not been allowed to complete what he had begun!"

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