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Medical College Sketches

The Ex-Professor’s Stories—The Skull

by Dr. Paeon

Many visitors to the College Museum have paused before the skull numbered 1750, and read with an indefinable feeling, resembling terror, the word written appropriately in red ink thereon, namely, “Murderer.”

Some persons have mistaken 1750 for an Ape’s skull. This is a mistake; it was the skull of a human being, contained a certain amount of human brain, was the dome of what thought and the palace of what soul its original owner possessed.

This is the terrible story always brought to my mind by the sight of No. 1750.

I passed, during the early portion of my life, several years in Italy, at a villiage near which are the buried ruins of Pompeii. I had secured employment that would allow me full access to the interesting debris of that ancient city. Having graduated with honors from a medical school in America and studied diligently in the hospitals of Paris, it was a most agreeable relaxation to my strained energies, to watch day after day the unearthing of these people, their houses, their utensils, and “admire” how perfectly everything was changed into portions of a great sculpture piece by the white plaster of the Savans, and became acquainted with the peculiarities of a people who had gone “unshriven and unannealed” into their graves—what time the torrent of the volcano swept down the sides of old Vesuvius not quite eighty years after the crucifixion of our Lord.

I boarded at a very respectable Inn, presided over by a pale-faced host and his pale-faced wife.

Marco Carroll was no host about the belly, for it was thin and pinched; was no host about the cheeks, for they were sunken and hollow; was no host in merriment, for he never laughed, neither did he crack jokes; was no host in his profanity, for he never swore.

Where a… Read More