Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/296

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sterling. In entering these cases on his books he mentioned the sex of the child and the hour of its birth. If a child were born out of wedlock he wrote distinctly: "To delivering your daughter, of a bas- tard infant." In a few rare instances he called in as consultant in a tedious labor Dr. Hall Jackson across the river. Twins are rarely mentioned in his books, but if they arrived the sex and the birth hour of each was mentioned.

Peirce was of good standing with his medical brethren, for he consulted as needed with the two Portsmouth phy- sicians before mentioned, as well as Avith Drs. Oilman, Little and Lyman of whom we find no trace elsewhere than in Peirce's books.

Although he used many medicines, he did not use much at a time. He bled a good deal less than most physicians of his day. His first cases were simply treated with phlebotomy. He salivated his patients but Uttle, if any. He used a "Small" purge and a "Large" purge. Emetics were daily employed in his prac- tice. It is amusing to read: "To three emetics for the three children," sugges- tive at that season of the year of sudden overeating of fruits, in that one family. His charges were moderate. He men- tions three sorts of visits, one when called definitely to go at a distance, a second as he was "passing" by, and a third which he calls "accidental." What the last means is hard to tell, as rarely, if ever, is any specific accident mentioned.

During the Revolution he was an active patriot, scouring the coimtry for ammunition and supplies for the Kittery militia. At one time he rode to Concord, Massachusetts, on this service and for the hire of a horse paid in the debased cur- rency of those days the sum of ninety- five dollars. He also acted as surgeon for the Massachusetts Bay Colony Troops, stationed near Kittery.

He was a man of considerable property for those days, owning, for instance, shares in a privateer and in two fishing schooners which sailed in and out of the Pisca- taqua. "Whenever the fishermen came in


with a cargo of fish, he would superin- tend the unloading, charge for his time, and skill, as well as for food and rum for the captain and crew. He also owned a farm, which seems to have been tilled almost wholly by his patients in return for medical services. He also owned wood lots from which the wood was cut by patients every spring and piled into his barns every fall. His cattle and sheep were "pastured out" on the fields of patients, at so much a month. In a word, for years he carried on an enor- mous business in medicine, merchandise and produce on a basis of barter, he being the physician-in-charge and his patients paying him in produce, labor, merchandise, but rarely in cash.

Scattered along the thousand pages of his old books we read many odd charges a few of which may here find insertion.

A widow with the surname of Phila- delphia always has visits to herself charged to "Your Ladyship," but the rank thus suggested diminishes when on the credit side we see these visits paid "by washing," or "by the son digging potatoes" in the doctor's fields. On the one side we read of the attentions given at the birth of a son, and on the credit " by your shingling my porch and mending the garden fence."

Dr. Peirce was a forgetful man, and for months at times his books would remain unposted. Once we read of " To two visits made to you when you were living at home" but not charged until the settlement of the father's estate twenty years later. If he forgot what was due to himself, he was strict to give credit to his patients, as in this way; " By work on my ' mash ' two days, not entered at the time, two years ago." If at the time of settlement he owed the patient, he invariably wrote beneath the account : " I owe you the sum of fourteen shillings to be taken out in medical services." He charged a father for two visits to a child and then years later adds : " To two lots of medicine forgotten at the time of visit to your child."

As a speller Dr. Peirce was dreadfully