WILLIAM HEBERDEN, physician and scholar, whom Dr. Johnson called ultimus Romanorum, and whose life neatly spanned the 18th century, in his last years wrote these valedictory words in a letter:
I have entered my eighty-fifth year; and when I retired a few years ago from the practice of physic, I trust it was not a wish to be idle, which no man capable of being usefully employed has a right to be; but because I was willing to give over before my presence of thought, judgment and recollection was so impaired that I could not do justice to my patients. It is more desirable for a man to do this a little too soon, than a little too late; for the chief danger is on the side of not doing it soon enough.
Other medical elders have had different ideas. Here is one—a North American contemporary of Heberden's, Dr.
Scarlett EP. Fair Flower of Harvard. Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(4):611–615. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870040125025
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