Sunday, May 28, 2006

Dr Playfair’s Patient

Dec 30th 1835 ---H C---* told me that Dr Playfair, the shrewd, plain, very straightforward Scotch physician who attended him at Florence, was talking to him of a consumptive patient (he was so diplomatic, he would not even tell the sex), who for some months had been as well aware as his physician that his state was quite desperate.

The patient, who was inclined to skepticism, had held many conversations and disputes with Dr Playfiair on the subject of a future state. The last hour was evidently come, but he did not seem aware that he was worse than usual.

Dr Playfair sate by him (for I can feel no doubt of the sex), watching the ebbing breath, the voice becoming from debility hardly audible, when in a tone strong as clear as that of health, the dying man said, ‘I know.’ Dr Playfair thought he alluded to some trifling thing respecting his medicines; ' Oh no, you don't: I know a great deal better than you.'

His patient said,' You are mistaken ; you do not understand me; you do not know; I did not know ; now I do know;' and so saying expired.**

C———— was so struck with these singular words, that he asked Dr. Playfair's leave to write them down in his presence.

Editor’s notes
*Hugh Cholmondeley, now Lord Delamere
** ‘Those who watch by him see not, but he sees—
Sees and exults. Were ever dreams like these?
Those who watch by him hear not, but her hears;
And earth recedes, and heaven itself appeals.’
Rogers – Human Life


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