A Merry Heart.
Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
During all but the earliest part of Dr. Scudder's editorial career the December Journal contained a holiday greeting, "A Merry Christmas" and a "Happy New Year," and very often the January number was headed, "Ring out the old, ring in the new." These greetings were the kindly expressions of the editor's happy nature, for out from his heart went the spirit of kindness and uplift to every creature. His was a merry heart and he wanted others to carry a merry heart. In one place he classifies himself as one of the laughing varieties of human beings. Joy, mirth, and the spirit of helpfulness made for him a blessed trinity.—Ed. Gleaner.
A MERRY HEART.—I hear you say, "It is not professional," but I reply that it is, for the remainder of the proverb reads, "It doeth good like a medicine." At the close of the year and the beginning of a new one, we have reached the period when we should "take our medicine," and he merry.
It is a "merry Christmas and a happy New Year" to all my readers, and before this reaches you I hope it will have been merry to you, and will continue happy until the merry comes round again.
I do not know that there is anything very exhilarating about the practice of medicine. There is too much suffering, too much sadness, too many deaths, for a merry occupation, and yet it has its compensations. We get through the routine of the day, the month, the year better if we carry a merry heart. It does not cause a man to be a mountebank, or do things unprofessional, but the hopeful, joyous spirit is the "merry heart that doeth good like a medicine."
As we look over the past, we have reason to rejoice and have a merry heart. The unpleasantness of the olden time has almost passed away. Medicine is no longer a punishment to threaten children and grown people with, but rather a relief from pain and unpleasantness. We do not torture the sick to make them well. We do not deprive them of water whilst they are burning and parched with thirst; we do not deprive them of food; we do not make a temporary sheol with blisters and their like. The time is coming when it may be said of physicians, "And all their ways are pleasantness, and their paths peace." As we approach this time, we have reason for having a merry heart, and it is good medicine.
I do not know how you feel about it, but I had rather take a "merry heart" for my medicine than a dose of Podophyllin. On the whole I think I had rather give it. It may be that the world is not as joyous and merry at sixty as it was at ten or twenty, but it does fairly well, and the quiet smile takes the place of the hearty laugh.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1892.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.