Monday, June 21, 2004

This Oh, For God's Sake, posted by frontier physician Dr. Eustis Welp, originally appeared on Monday, June 21, 1810.

George Rogers Clark Owes Me 3 & a Half Cents
It pains me to state publicly that George Rogers Clark, a Man I until recently admired as a great American Patriot, is in fact a Scalawag who refuses to pay the 3 & a Half Cents he owes me for amputating his Leg.

Precisely because of his stature as "Friend of Thomas" and one of the West's Pre-eminent Butchers of the Red Man, I am reluctant to take up the quill. Nary a civilized man would walk the banks of the Ohio if not for his Courage and Valor. Yet I can no longer hold my tongue, for what good is the United States of America if a man of such renown does not suffer the need to pay his Physician who so mercifully toiled to saw through his flesh and bone to remove that appendage that so afflicted him? Why, I daresay such a man is no more forthright than the King! Amputation without compensation? I think not!

It happened that the gentleman regrettably fell into his fire, the burns therefrom resulting in the need for the amputation of his right Leg and, while this procedure is decidedly less favorable for the Patient than for his Physician, I can assure you it is no tea-by-the-Seine for the Doctor, either. I shall not belabor here the blisters, the resonance of saw-through-bone, the Stench.

Courage was present, it is true. With nothing to deaden the Pain save two fifers and two drummers (one wonders if these valiant performers received full and just recompense, but they shall state their grievances as they see fit), one must admit that the man was more stout-hearted than a Quaker at a Shawnee hair-acquiring caucus. And yet the witnessing of such pluck does not buy a sup of pone or a whore's comfort, if you know whereof I speak.

It is not my intention to place myself up amongst the most benevolent of our local citizenry. I am the first to admit that I am no Granville Wedgewood. That gentleman makes John Chapman look like Tenskwatawa. And yet it is of significance to note here that I had already made Clark a bargain of Half Off the usual Low Fee of One Dollar for an Amputation, charging only Fifty Cents in deference to his intrepidness. (It is reported that in some parts of the West, amputations go for upwards of One Dollar & Fifty Cents!) While I will once more deny my own munificence, I must also state emphatically that I did not enter into this vocation merely to exercise my severing muscles.

Further, it cannot be disputed that the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States Congress (I daresay even Jefferson himself) have played Clark like a fife and drum, respectively. Nevertheless, it was not I who advised the man to visit Vincennes, let alone Kaskaskia. (To the contrary, my advice is and shall always be to keep oneself always in the vicinity of one's pone and one's whore; one does not enter my profession without learning a thing or two about health!) The misconduct of his Government benefactors combined with the depreciation of the paper currency has no doubt left Clark's own Personal Financial situation in a Dismal State. I understand this.

I also understand that one cannot extract blood from a turnip. And yet, in Installments, Clark has paid all of his Fifty-Cent debt, save Three & a Half Cents. Is this an insult to my skill as a surgeon? Three & a Half Cents! Would that Mark's gospel had said, "If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, but should thee hire the work done, most assuredly pay thine Physician in full!"

But it does not and so I hereby post this message on the Publick Square among the broad list of grievances -- or B.L.O.G. -- and I pledge to Everyone that I shall forthwith bury the hatchet. (Out back, next to the leg.) Nevertheless, it would set bad precedent to retire the debt, so this I shall not do. Therefore, while I hereby pledge that there shall be no more hard feelings, it shall remain that George Rogers Clark owes me 3 & a Half Cents.

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