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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


162 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Notwithstanding a certain bluntness and decision of manner, which was liable to be occasionally misunderstood, and which gave rise to some curious scenes and incidents in the course of his professional practice, Mr. Wood‘s philanthropy and kindness were proverbial; and his unremitting attention to the distresses of the indigent sick, whom he continued to visit in their wretched dwellings, after he had given up general practice, was a noble trait in his character. What has been said of the illustrious Boerhaave may be equally applied to him-that “he considered the poor as his best patients, and that he never neglected them.” To his other qualities he added an enthusiastic warmth and steadiness in his friendships, with a total freedom from selfishness-and in his social relations, that kind and playful manner, which softened asperities, and rendered available all the best sympathies and affections of which human nature is susceptible ; and being of a most convivial disposition, his company was courted by all ranks. In fact, few men have ever been 60 universally beloved as Mr. Wood, and proportionally numerous are the testimonies to his worth. During the long course of his useful career he enjoyed the unanimous good will and approbation of his brethren, who, without any jealous feelings, allowed him the palm of superiority he deservedly merited-a tribute due not only to the soundness of his practical knowledge, and the dexterity of his skill iu operating (which tended much to raise the reputation of the surgical department of the Royal Infirmary), but to his personal character, In a fragment of a fifth Canto of “Childe Harold,” which appeared in “ Blackwood‘s Magazine” for May 18 18, he is thus alluded to :- “ Oh ! for an hour of him who knew no feud- The octogenarian chief, the kind old Sandy Wood ; ’’ and, ina note on this stanza, he is spoken of as “Sandy Wood-one of the delightful reminiscences of Old Edinburgh-who was at least eighty years of age, when, in high repute as a medical man, he could yet divert himself in his walks with the ‘ Hie Schuil laddies,’ or bestow the relics of his universal benevolence in feeding a goat or a raven.” He is also alluded to in a spirit of tenderness and affection by Sir Walter Scott, in a prophecy put into the mouth of Meg Merrilees ; and the late celebrated John Bell, who had been a pupil of Mr. Wood, dedicates to him his first volume of Anatomy in a concise but elegant tribute to his skill, his disinterested conduct, and public and private virtues.a Mr. Wood’s character is further commemorated by the late Sir Alexander “ A gathering together of the powerful shall be made amidst the caves of the inhabitants of Dunedin. They shall beset his goat ; they shall profane his raven ; they shall blacken tha buildings of the Intirniary ; her secrets shall be examined ; a new goat shall bleat, until they have measured out and run over fifty-four feet nine inches and a half.” 8 “ To Alexander Wood, surgeon, whose abilities and skill, and disinterested conduct, have raised him by common consent to the first rank in a most useful profession, conducting him in honour to that period of life in which he niust feel, with pleasure, how completely he enjoys the confidence of the public and the esteem of all good men-this book of anatomy is presented by his pupil John Bell.” Sandy is at his rest.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 163 Boswell of Auchinleck in these lines-part of an epitaph composed by him on Mr. Wood:- “ But cold the heart that feels M genial glow, Pondering on him whose ashes sleep below : Whose vivid mind, with grasping power, could reach Truths that the plodding schools can never teach. Who scorned, in honesty, the spacious wiles Of dull importance, or of fawning smiles : Who scouted feelings frittered and refined, But had an ample heart for all mankind.” The following anecdote is a proof of Mr. Wood‘s popularity with the lower classes. During a riot in Edinburgh, some of the mob, mistaking him at night (owing to a great resemblance in figure) for Sir James Stirling, then the Lord Provost of the City, and at that time far from being a favourite, seized Mr. Wood on the North Bridge, and were going to throw him over the parapet, when he cried out, “I’m lang Sandy ?Vood-tak‘ me to a lamp and ye’ll see.” Instead of executing their vengeance, he was cordially cheered and protected from farther outrage. Sir James and Mr. Wood, although thus in such different esteem with the lower class of the inhabitants of Edinburgh, were intimate friends. It is told of them, that on one occasion the Provost-with his cocked hat, and long spare figure-meeting the Doctor in the High Street, he jocularly put L guinea into his hand, and giving a piteous account of his sufferings from indigestion, and the state of his stomach, asked his advice. The Doctor-with a figure almost equally spare, and the same head-dress-retreated from the Provost, who continued to follow him, reproaching him for pocketing the money without giving him any opinion on his case, At last, after this scene had lasted for some considerable space, Mr. Wood replied to Sir James’s remonstra,nces :- “You’re quite wrong, Sir James; I have been giving you the best possible advice all this while. If you’ll take hold of my coat-tail, and only follow me for a week as you’ve been doing for the last ten minutes, you’ll have no more trouble with your stomach.” Although very confident in his own practice, and very decided, Mr. ?Vood never failed to call in the aid of his professional brethren when there appeared to be real danger. The celebrated Dr. Cullen and he were frequently in attendance together, and on the most friendly and intimate footing. Upon one occasion they were in the sick-room of a young nobleman of high promise who was afflicted with a severe fever-the Doctor on one side of the bed, in his usual formal and important manner, counting the patient’s pulse, with his large stop-watch in his hand--Mr. Wood on the other, and the parents anxiously waiting the result. The Doctor abruptly broke the silence-“ We are at the crisis ; in order to save him, these pills must be taken instantly,” producing some from his waistcoat pocket. Mr. Wood, who had a real affection for the young Lord, shook his head significantly, and said with a smile, “ 0 Doctor, Doctor, nature has already done her work, and he is saved. As to your pills-you .
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