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Buccaneer Surgeons Source: The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3217 (Aug. 26, 1922), pp. 397-398 Published by: BMJ Publishing Group Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20420943 Accessed: 15/07/2010 13:21
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.2c6, 1922]




young," was made

Ship went " to the Strait in a similar

"in the Service

of the Surgeon of tlle

.Two whiere years later lie for some timo

BIJCCANEER SURGEONS. !N giving an account some montlhs ago (FebruLary18th, 1922, p. 289) of the career of Thllonas Dover, buccaneer anid inivenitor:of the powder wlhiclh bears hiis name, it was said that lhe rescued Alexanider Selkirk, the skin-clad hero of Robinsont Crusoe, whlo lhad been miarooned on the island of Juan Fernanidez. Probably, hiowever, the credit slhould be given to William Dampier, wlho lhad known Sellkirk long before, and, moreover, was well acquainted with tlle island, which lhecalls Jolhn Fernando's. . Mora tllan a quarter of a century earlier Dampier lhad talken part in tthe great buccaneeriiig expedition across tlhe Istlhmus of Panama to the South Sea and aftee various excursions and adventires lhad been one of tlle partv wllich returned on foot to the Caribbean Sea. WVhiereverlie was and despite all difficulties tllis remarkable man seems to hiave
liept a journal in whiclh lhe noted n-ot only daily events but

he practised surgery, but fallinig in witlh two privateeiing captains there lhe was tempted to try hiis fortune with tlie btuecaneers, and after some adventures on tlle Atlantic coast of Central America lie crossed tlle istlimus wvitli Dampier anid otliers under tlle commaiid of Captain B3arthiolomiewv
Sliarp. In the Pacific lie went as far as

of Malacca in 1677. to Jamuaica, capacity

and Dralie's Islalnd, but after various adventures on sea and on shore lhe and Dampier joined the party of some fifty meni wlho were dissatisfied witli Slharp's leadership, and in a ship's lonaboat and native canoes started to return to the istlhmus
anid recross-it oni foot to tlle Caribbean



of the journey Wafer was disabled. described in his own words:




fifthi day



is best

descriptions of the manners and cuLstoms of- tlle natives, of the flora and fauna, the weather aud the cllief pllysical features of tlle country. In lis descriptions of tlhe voyages of the buccaneers (or 'privateers, aS tlley preferred to call tllemselves) tllere are frequent references to the surgeons, whliclh sho Ilow w muclh their services were valued. Thlus Daimpier states that oli one occasionl a slhip's company refused
to put to catry and none to sea because being us they lhad no surgeon: the more and when at " our the

,I was sitting on the grouud near one of our Men, who was drying ot Gunpowder in a Siver Plate. But not m.uaginig it as he it blew up anl scorchled my Kniee sheuld, to that (legree, that the BoIne was left bare, the flesh being torn awayv,aid my Thuighl burtit for a great way above it. I applied to it immediately such Reine(lies as I had in my Knapsack: And beinig ullWilling to be left behlinld my Companionis, I made hard shift to jog on, and bear them Com pany for a few days; during tvhich our slaves ran away from us, and among them a Negro whom tle Companiy had allowed mle for my partictular to carry my Medicinies. Attedtlant, He took them away witli him, together with the rest of my Things, an-d tlhereby left me deprived of wherewithal to dress my Sore; that insomuch my pain increasing upoIn me, aind beinlg not able to trudfe it furtlher tlhrouglh Rivers and Woods, I took leave of my Company, anid set up my Rest among the Darien Indians." To this accident we owe the interestina account of the Indians wlliclh Wafer has given. At first lie and hiis four were 'of some companions objects at suspicion thie Ildian settlement and were rathler roughly treated, as lhe altlhoualg, " Not that says, wvere naturally thev inclin'd to use us tlhus for tlhey are a kind roug,hly, generally anid free-lhearted people." the natives When, lhowever, hleard of tlhe good treat meut wlichl some df their fellows had received froms Dampier and hiis party kind and lhospitable. they became Tile Darien Inidianis seemii to lhave been well generally disposed towaids the Englislh, because partly tlle Spaniar.dls, thley lhated with whom tlle buccaneers waged ancd partly war, as it because, the Englislh lhad the good sense-perlhaps seems, the lhLiinaniity treat -to tllem wvell. Had the natives been liostile travellina lhave been made more by land would difficult than it was, if

Surgeon, Mr. Wafer," was

hlis thingFs, to look after

injured "vwe allowed

all of us -but him."

hiim a slave tomisfortune

that in an anid one


accideut, because liable ourselves every moment Whlen the buccaneers

accom-panied attack on it is recorded tlhem, and an Indian in Mexico town

landed to attack a town the surgeons

by Dampier "our surgeon

man more were wounded witlh arrows." In the disastrous attack on Arica in 1680 the surgeons lhad occupied a clhurchl as a hospital, wlhere tlhey foundl a store of wine. Possibly this discovery accounts for tlhe fact tlhat tlley were left belhind wilen tlmeir. comrades retreated. They were, however, released by the Spaniards on their conisentilng to settle down to practice
in the city.

In the reign of Clharles II the professional education of the average practitioner in England probably consisted alINost entirely of the acquirement of precepts and experience in the service of a master under the apprenticeship system. Tlheoretical knowledge was at a discount. Anatomy, physio loav, and clhemiistry were then far outside tlhe ordinary cturricuIluim,and even seventy years later, wlhen the practice
of surgery lhad male great advances, Roclerick. Random's master is represeitcd as preferring tlle knowledge of " how to bleed and a clyster, a plaster give spread and prepare a potion," to that of the causes of Imuscular action and the of tlle brain and nerves. mystery

not quito impracticable.

The surgeons of tire buLecaneers probably worked by rule -of thLumb aud gained their knowledge not from books, but from their masters and tlheir own lhardly won euperience. Tllc crews were probably less liable to scurvy than t1hose of less law-abidilng vessels, for tlley relied for food largely on stIclh fislh aud turtles as tlley could catch,l and were frequently
-where fresli aslhore, got they vegetables alnd cattle. Tlhe beef they did not eat Jfresh tiley smolked and stored on board, anid the naimie of btuecanieer is said to be derived a from iimmune from scurvy, for Dampier tells us tllat

Wafer seems to lhave been nmuclh imiipressed by tlhe presence of albinos tlle Indians; their nuumber.s among lie estimated two or thlree h-undred at one to evexy of tlho population. He to have been quite seems of tlle existence ignorant of albinisn' in Europe, and of course does not use this term, but lie quite describes accurately tlle visual it, incltuding troubles wlhiclh are incident to it, and lie realized that tlle albinos were not race. as a separate lie liked the Much lie did Indianis, his affection to tlleir arboreal not extend the monkeys cousins, of tlle isthmIius, wlho, he says, are , kind of Monkey, a very wagg,islh anid played a thousand( aiutick as we marchl'd at any time Tricks the Woods, tlhrough skiipping to Botglh, with the yougf from Bouigh onies hanging at the old Ones Faces at us, clhattering, and if they lhad opportauity, Back, making down purposely pissinlg on our Heads." buccaneers The fouud thle monkeys eating and very good the Indians to overcome their repugnance tauglht to tllis kindl of meat. a Mr. Richlard One of Wafer's party was who lhad Gopson, ' to a druggist an apprenticeship served in London; This bol(l carried with him a copy of tlle Greek buccaneer Testament; hiis leisure in its stuidy, and would lie occupied read aloud in to anyone who cared to listen. Englislh is an instance Gopson tlle heterogeneous of of a privateer's composition to crew, alludes when he says that one sllip's whiclh Dampier company skilled in every comprised artisaus so that craft, they were of constructive of all sorts capable as well worlk as of the destruction wanton witlh whicli tllhe !uncaneers are generaliy

Brazilian word signifyingo " smuoked miieat." Yet they were not
"1 our sick men were At Jolhni Fernianido's ashore all the ti-e" (sixteen onie of Captaini (lays) "and Eaton's Doctors (for hie hiad four in hiis Sliip) tending them with Goat aiidl feeding anld several whereof Herbs, lhere is plenity growing in the Brooks: and their diseases were clliefly Scorbutick.", No wonder it was thiotuglht wori'sy of record that in a certain

pr-ize tllcy toolk seven or eight tuns of marmalate of quinces, for marmenloes or quinices lhad becn recommeneded fifty years
earlier pathwvay by

Onie of the buccanieer surgeonis, the Lionel Wafer above mentionled, left anl account of hlis experiences -in A Ncwv Vo1yage and Descrtiption of the Isthmuzlsof Am7erica, London, printedl by James linapton, at thle Crlown, inl St. Paul's Chlurchlyard, 1699. It is not knowvn whlere lie was bornl, blt. he -appears to hlave-beenl an1 Englishmlanl withl somneknowvledge of Sotland. -and Irelanld. His first voy-age, "beingR thlen very

Jolhn in Iiis Accidence, Captaiu Smiiitlh to exlI)erienlcc necess8ary to all Young Seamnen.

credited. No doubt many of tlhem were not crimiually inclined, but

tinctured withl sea, anid no less all their belonLg



L-)ok to the life from slheer love of adventu're, tlle Their life was lhope of gain. lhard at on the istlhmlus carrying hard wlhen travelling

ints on thleir backs. Crlossing a river in flood, loadled withs a hleavy muskret am:munlition, and thIree or four hundred p ieces of -eighlt (or doslars), was no chlild's play, and at least 0110of thlem owed hlis deathl to hlis load of :;ilver, whJichlmust alone have weighled more thlan twenty pounds. his dIressings and dr ugs ~being lost, Wafer submitted to an


AUG. 26, 1922




LONDON'S WATER SUPPLY. SIR ALEXANDER HOUSTON'Sreport to the Metropolitan Water Board for thc year ending March 31a', 1922, shows that by a is seated on a Stone in the River, "The Patient and one with little Arrows small Bow shoots into the niaked Body of the Patient, that timie thle acute alxieties caused by the great drought of up and down; shooting them as fast as he canl and not missing 1921 lhad been mucll allayed by the rains of thle early montlis no But the Arrows are gaged, so that they penetrate any part. of tlhis year. In a note on tlle subject in our issue of if by chance our Lancets: And than we generally thrust further June 24th we ventured to hint that a clhange of weather is full of Wind, and the..Blood Zhey hit a vein which spurts out might comiie in time to replenish London's sources of supply, a little, Antick they will leap .and skip about, showing many and triumph." and tlhis-is wllat happened. But -tlhe peril escaped is not Gestures, by way of rejoicing being forgotten, and the problem of how to provide against A up similar has in New to metlhod Guinea survived future dangers is occtlpying tlle milnd of tlhe autho of the tlle present time for opening abscesses. Specimens rities. It is niow some tljirty years since Lord Balfour bows and arrows employed are to be seen iii the Wellcome of Burleigli's Commlittee considered the great scheme for Historical Museum, 54A,Wigmnore Street, London. settlina once for all London's difficulties by impounding a There is a quaint illustration in the original book slhowing practically inexlhaustible supply from tlle m-nountains ofWales, It lhavincgbeen decided tllat one of,the wives thlis operation. and leading it across England to tlle mnetropolitan area. The of Lacenta, the ndinan kingi, should be blooded inl this cost would lhave been- enormous, and in spite of- the veiglhty manner, Wafer persuaded the king to allow him to bleed from a vein in the usual way. . Alarmed by the sudden gusl off considerationg urged in its favour tlhe sclheme was rejected. Fate has been kind to tlhe tribunal wlichl reaclhed that blood, thie Indian at first thlreatened to take thse operator's life, but whlen the arm was bound up and thle patient hlappily momentous decision. Enteric fever, wllich was then almost endemic in this couintry, hias very greatly dimin'islhed, and recovered hle was delighted witlh -his new Court surgeon. Just as Dr.' Gabriel Boughton is said to hlave gained thle London's present water supply canniot be clharged witlh confidence of the Emlperor of Delhli and hlis viceroy by hlis having been the means of conlveying tlhat or any other of tlle successful treatment of their womankind, so on a muchll water-borne diseases to the inlhabitants. Thie double principle of prevention -of pollution at tlle sources of supply, and smaller scene did WVafer gain thle. confidence of tieP King of purification after caption, lhas been wonderfully successful. the Darien Indians, to, the no small advantage of himself and his companuions. So suc6essful w rashe that the king could Yet the possibility of a breakdown cannot be ignored, and Sir Alexander Houston urges now, as in formler reports, the risks not for a lonlg time be' persuaded to part with hiim,~ but kept of an accident and the need for ceaseless watclhfulness. him about hlis pherson,offered hlim his daughter in marriage (as soon as slie shlould be old enoughl), and tooki him withl "If the true history of all pastwater could be learnt," epidemics " in Dearly he says, all cases in the nature of au something 'it on all his exp'editio's. Wrafer o pivedwingreat Sblendoutk circumstance would accidental to be the explanation. be fLund and Rlepute," and adopted thle Inldian ful]l-dress of a -coat of cases, it would it is to be feared be true that inl many paint, agold nose-plate clipped on to thue septum nasi and Further, the accident was not wlholly from lack of forethought or divorced hanging down over teld upper lip, and a funnel or 'horn breaclh of commoni-sense eveii if the charge of culpable precautions, iconcealing the penis, but leaving tlhe scrotum exposed. The negligence were not admissible." painting was done by the women, usually by tattooinag to That mental attitude slhould always be maintained. Con 'this WVafer wouldl not submit, but h1ehsad thle colours laid on tinuous alertness towards even the remotest clhance of in little specws, "rled, yellow, and blue, very briglht and disaster is the best safeguard against its occurrence. lovely." 'Elie other constanut problem is the 'maintenance of an Lacenta wvas at lenlgthlpersuaded to part withl the Englishi adequate supply. The terim " adequate " cries out for defini. tothe northd coast, menon a plausible and sent the pretext tion. Is it to be m-easured by tlho standards of great cities so where thley found Dampierz anld his friends wvithl a vessel, fortunately situated as to lhave water abundantly available, th;ey had acquired inl the usual ay. (Convey, the wise wpic so that they lhave at conmmand suclh quantities as tomake it call) Tha e journey across sbvoliela tolrenlts and a lofty waste of no account and a ceonom11y profitless virtue 9 Or is it mountain langewas, difficult, and in trave'sing the mountains to be measured by the actual necessities for health ahd cleanli the Europeans seem tohlve suffered froml: tlle raiity of ness and confort, iJicluding such services as tlle watering of the air. and -tlhe waslhing gardens of mnotor cars, as well as for manu on board shoip in is coat of Wafer hlad been some heours ? All and trade purposes facturinig to tllis, of course, subject with thie regular ilnspection, and to )ersistent education of the public in paint atld 'his nose-piece before he was recognized joyful shlout of "Wqiey, it's our doctor!" He says theat a of avoiding the individual the runnina to waste duty of wlhat month elapsed before all te paint alld worn off. is an absolute for the welfare necessity of the comnmunity at For six years more he was withi thte buccaneers: in If thje former, large. then tlhe London water is hope. supply Virginia, on the Guinea coast, and round Cape Horl to the' lessly if the latter, inadequa-te; a fair case can be stated for Philippiees, and then back to London. Besides tle account From its minim-al sufficiency. sources present there is no of his life among tle Indians his book inciudes descriptions of obtaining the fifty or sixty possibility a lhead a day gallons of the contry and its prodlets, and of hias aentues in tlhe of which some can great populaticns but London boast; Sea, bult thlese are of little interest compared with Southl nmay be able to work until awvay, at least better times come. tlose of Dampier, adit its to be rememdbered that, as he say s Sir Alexander Houston indicates that tlle Ministry of Health he kepteno 'joureal, hllereas Dapier made notes of his would tlle low figure of sixteen regard a head gallons a day observations at the time. No doubt Wafer was induced to as not inadequate for domnestic and in London purposes, e lnis book by the interest excited at homn by Paterson's publisg are not nearly so great manufacturing requirements as in the The main facts of disastrous attempt to colonize Darien. industrial areas. At the best the position cannot be regarded is story are te Damdn by pier, and there seems no witlh entire equanimity, but it may be taken for granted that reason to doubt hlis sulbstantial accuracy. the experience of last year will in the wlvole result position of of peace betseen France and Spain and ithe the ad tlle supply and every reviewed being effort made to provide a better understanding betweell Great Britain and tlhat against the risks whicll attach to the vagaries of the rainfall. toon becaa e too Last c>uostry, thme buccaneers' occupation year it was 17 inclhes, a figure whichl only about lhas no hazardous. Thle mtore desperate chlaracters among thlem parallel in the sixteen for which years the records are tabu became pirates of thec indiscriminating and uncompromisiug in Sir Alexander-Houston's lated report. type wiet which of fiction ave made uts familiar uwriters The report deals in the usual careful and detailed faslhion nany of whlom endled thetir careers at Execultion Dock, with all the activities of thle water department. Chlorination instead of, like WNafer and 1. L. Stevenson's Industrious to be a main in tlle protection continues factor of the con Pirate, "bretiring and being respected by eisn yghPbours." sunmer against pollution. objectionsanl occasiosal are to it; sentimental of Thiree main water, dislike " "dloped As for Datmpier, he became a recognized auth-ority on a unpleasant taste, andl the fact thlatits ulse. beF may -regrded and meteorology, apd aS suchl was geographly, oceanographly, wDas given tlhe command of consultedoby the Government, and ii 'king's ship \vi'1 whichl to explore New Guinea and Aus tralia, wheo he dbii gave name to Dancypie's Straits but iccomplishcd little else of note. e ' adverse w^eathser conditions, canl probably make almost -anly

Indian method of cure, wlhiclh consisted in tlle application of poultices of chewed 'herbs of unknown origin; in this way he -was cured in twenty days, except for a persistent weakness and numbness. Native surgical methods seem to lhave been less simple, forWafer gives the following account of tlle way inwhich a patient was bled:

a as shlort topurity. thleauthlor holds But ofthle report cult has great-future-thsat a itsaves thxat chllorinationl pumnping, supplements are to othler fail measulresWhichl aptine

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