Ambroise Paré (151090). Journeys in Diverse Places. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
AMBROISE PARÉ was born in the village of Bourg-Hersent, near Laval, in Maine, France, about 1510. He was trained as a barber-surgeon at a time when a barber-surgeon was inferior to a surgeon, and the professions of surgeon and physician were kept apart by the law of the Church that forbade a physician to shed blood. Under whom he served his apprenticeship is unknown, but by 1533 he was in Paris, where he received an appointment as house surgeon at the Hôtel Dieu. After three or four years of valuable experience in this hospital, he set up in private practise in Paris, but for the next thirty years he was there only in the intervals of peace; the rest of the time he followed the army. He became a master barber-surgeon in 1541.
In Parés time the armies of Europe were not regularly equipped with a medical service. The great nobles were accompanied by their private physicians; the common soldiers doctored themselves, or used the services of barber-surgeons and quacks who accompanied the army as adventurers. When Paré joined the army, says Paget, he went simply as a follower of Colonel Montejan, having neither rank, recognition, nor regular payment. His fees make up in romance for their irregularity: a cask of wine, fifty double ducats and a horse, a diamond, a collection of crowns and half-crowns from the ranks, other honorable presents and of great value; from the King himself, three hundred crowns, and a promise he would never let him be in want; another diamond, this time from the finger of a duchess: and a soldier once offered a bag of gold to him.
When Paré was a man of seventy, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris made an attack on him on account of his use of the ligature instead of cauterizing after amputation. In answer, Paré appealed to his successful experience, and narrated the Journeys in Diverse Places here printed. This entertaining volume gives a vivid picture, not merely of the condition of surgery in the sixteenth century, but of the military life of the time; and reveals incidentally a personality of remarkable vigor and charm. Parés own achievements are recorded with modest satisfaction: I dressed him, and God healed him, is the refrain. Paré died in Paris in December, 1590.