Doctors Performing Surgery For The First Time In Western Art History -The Toast

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“Madam, I can assure you that the top hat is medically necessary. Now please lie still and stop asking me ‘and what does that do?’ I don’t know what it does yet.”

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“Gentlemen, I propose a wager: just for fun, let’s see what else we can fit in here.”


“Perhaps if I propped up his other arm…perhaps that would provide sufficient stimulus to reverse death. It would almost look as if he were standing on his own. Yes, I think the other arm should do the trick. Nurse, I’m going to need a great deal of twine.”


“Well, I’m not going to touch it. You do it, Samuels.”

“With my hands? Surely you’re joking. My father was an earl.”

“Come off it, Samuels. All of our fathers were earls. If you’re going to pull rank, do it right.”

“Well, what was its father?”

“Lord, I don’t know. What’s that profession where they hew at things? With adzes, and suchlike.”


“I don’t know what that is.”

“I think I read it somewhere. I don’t know what it is either.”

“What if we called the patient Lord Digby, and just…just made believe that his father was a viscount?”

“I’m not touching a viscount. Jesus God in Heaven, the Samuels haven’t fallen that far just yet.”

“Well, is anybody going to touch him?”

“Have one of the nurses do it.”

“There aren’t nurses yet, I don’t think. Not til…is it the Boer War? Several wars from now, at least.”

“Then let’s just get lunch.”

V0018140 The first use of ether in dental surgery, 1846. Oil painting

“I propose to stay here all night, gentlemen, if that’s what it takes to prove my theory that the act of smothering ultimately reverses itself and revives the patient.”


“Now, I’m going to describe the next portion of the surgery to you, because I find it all rather disgusting. Someone — you know, take a knife and cut through her skins, really get down to the inside portion of the body, then let me know when you get there. And stay on her legs, Richards, because I don’t think she’s really asleep. Lord knows I wouldn’t be.”


“Lads, before we go any further, I’m going to have to ask that you put on your medicine hats, for hygienic purposes. No man who can’t afford a stiff velvet hat from the Canary Islands at least twenty inches in circumference has the right to call himself a doctor.”


“This man is going to need a great deal more of the inside of his head, if he is going to live.”


“Gentlemen, I propose we sew whatever this is back up and go for lunch.”

“Second the motion.”

“Motion to add ‘whatever is inside humans is gross’ to this week’s minutes.”

“Second the motion.”

“Motion to add that we should have cold mutton for lunch.”

“Second the motion.”

“The motion carries.”medicine1

“Very well, write this down: washing the feet does little to nothing in the way of curing a gaping flesh wound. Let’s try your shampooing theory again, Charles.”


“Perhaps if we added another chair…”

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“If only — if only we had put her heart back into her body, perhaps she might have lived.”


“Time of death, 11:30. Patient continues to keep it tight.”


“It is my belief, esteemed members of the board, that this man’s leg is not in fact ‘cut off’ or ‘missing;’ rather the rest of the man’s body has become invisible, and only through poking about his tendons can I hope to restore visibility to the entire patient. If this works…my God. I’ll be famous.”


“Come now, gentlemen, crowd around, gather close. Make sure he doesn’t get too much air. Crowd around.”

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