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June 18, 1938

The Diary of a Surgeon in the Year 1751-1752

JAMA. 1938;110(25):2109. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790250069044

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Abstract

The lives of physicians are romantic. They are particularly romantic in the period covered by this diary. The diary is pieced together much as one might piece together a piece of fiction based on the diaries of Evelyn, Pepys and Walpole. This book is apparently based on the autobiography of Thomas Denman, to which are added statements by his son-in-law Matthew Baillie as they appeared in his seventh edition of "Practice of Midwifery." Names and dates are changed in some instances. This leads to errors, such as when the diarist speaking of the treatment of scurvy, presumably in 1751, refers to James Lind's "On the Diseases of Europeans in Hot Climates," which did not appear until 1768. The book presents an interesting picture, and the diary method gives it a tone of veracity which adds to its flavor.

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