Vanity Fair (UK), May 4, 1905
(Suicide, according to an evening paper, is on the increase among doctors. Owing to the improved health of the country at large, and the diminishing death-rate, a doctor who a few years ago might calculate on an income of £400 a year can count to-day, in corresponding circumstances, on only £200.)
FRIENDS, when you boast of healthy brains
And bodies fit as any fiddle,
When no unpleasant, shooting pains
Disturb the parts about your middle,
When sharp convulsions vex you not—
In fact, when you’re in fine condition,
Wax not conceited o’er your lot,
Think how it strikes a poor physician.
How can these gentlemen pursue
Their salutary occupation,
Excepting they receive from you
The requisite co-operation?
Reflect, when you’re immune from ills,
How every day—poor men!—in batches
They’re giving up their drugs and pills,
To try and live by selling matches.
’Tis time that we revised our ways—
I think you’ll see it on reflection.
No longer must we spend our days
Endeavouring to avoid infection.
Courageous must we be, and firm.
Doctors must live, though sickness kill us.
Henceforward we’ll invite the germ,
And court the wandering bacillus.
So for ourselves, to foster gout,
Post-prandial port we’ll tipple gaily.
Whene’er it rains, we’ll walk about,
Striving to get our feet wet daily.
If there should come a small-pox scare,
Unvaccinated must we chance it—
’Twere criminal our arms to bare
To any health-preserving lancet.
To catch the mumps if we have chanced,
With resignation we’ll endure them,
Till they’re sufficiently advanced
For doctors to come in and cure them.
Our cheeks may swell (in fact, they will)—
The process won’t improve our beauty,
Besides promoting anguish. Still,
No matter, we must do our duty.
Thus, though we meet an early doom,
Placed hors de combat in Life’s battle—
Though every house, yea, every room,
Re-echo with our dying rattle,
Scorn we nathless to make a fuss,
Quell we our fears. Suppress ’em. Sink ’em.
Though it may inconvenience us,
’Twill give some poor M.D. an income.
P. G. Wodehouse.