From the Diary of a Physician
by Sylvanus Cobb, Jr.
In the spring of 1847 I settled in Lancaster. The old physician of that place had been removed by death, and several of my friends were anxious that I should come in. The opportunity was an excellent one, and I embraced it; and when I had been there a year I had a practice far better and more extensive than I had ever before enjoyed. Among those who became my warm personal friends were Frederic Lawson and his wife; and their friendship was worth having. Mr. Lawson was over seventy years of age, a hale, hearty old man; and his wife was the very picture of domestic health and comfort. He was the wealthiest man in the town, being worth over a hundred thousand dollars, and he was one of the most valuable citizens, too. Both he and his wife gave me their friendship very soon after I took up my residence with them, and this circumstance helped me much in other quarters.
One day in the early part of September I received a request to attend at Mr. Lawson’s without delay. It was in the afternoon, and when I arrived, I found the old gentleman and his wife both sick. They had been taken just before noon, with cramps and chills; but they were much easier when I arrived than they were when they sent for me. I saw that their stomachs were out of order; and as I knew that they were both pretty high livers, I was not at all surprised. I gave simple emetics, with some other medications, and then left them, promising to call again in the morning.
In the morning I found them no better than they had been on the day before. They fancied that they were much better, because they suffered no pain; but I could see that they were really sick. After a careful examination I came to the conclusion that I had got to guard against fever; and I gave the nurse directions with that understanding.
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