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A monologue from the play by George Bernard Shaw
He’s a clever operator, is Walpole, though he’s only one of your chloroform surgeons. In my early days, you made your man drunk; and the porters and students held him down;
and you had to set your teeth and finish the job fast. Nowadays you work at your ease; and the pain doesn’t come until afterwards, when you’ve taken your cheque and rolled up your bag and left the house.
I tell you, Colly, chloroform has done a lot of mischief. It’s enabled every fool to be a surgeon. I know your Cutler Walpoles and their like. They’ve found out that a man’s body is full of bits and scraps of old organs he has no mortal use for.
Thanks to chloroform, you can cut half a dozen of them out without leaving him any the worse, except for the illness and the guineas it costs him. I knew the Walpoles fifteen years ago.
The father used to snip off the ends of people’s uvulas for fifty guineas, and paint throats with caustic every day for a year at two guineas a time. His brother-in-law extirpated tonsils for two hundred guineas until he took up women’s cases at double the fees.
Cutler himself worked hard at anatomy to find something fresh to operate on; and at last he got hold of something he calls the nuciform sac, which he’s made quite the fashion.
People pay him five hundred guineas to cut it out. They might as well get their hair cut for all the difference it makes; but I suppose they feel important after it.
You can’t go out to dinner now without your neighbor bragging to you of some useless operation or other.