He was a bright young fellow, full of hope, cheerful, patient, and almost happy, as he lay on his none too comfortable couch, with surroundings that indicated poverty, but an earnest attempt to look fine. He had lain there for many months, suffering a great deal of pain, but uncomplaining and optimistic. The doctors had told his mother he could never be cured. First it was only a question of months, then weeks. The doctor came one afternoon as usual, and with a bright smile his patient asked, "Doctor, how soon can I expect to get out of this? As you know, I have some business matters that very much need my personal attention." The doctor, acting under a sense of duty, answered gravely but kindly, "My boy, you can never get well—you probably will not live to see next month." Tears filled his mother's eyes, but the boy bore it bravely. Not until he was left alone did he yield to saddened thoughts, and then only for a moment. Again his seemingly inexplicable and inexhaustible hope came to the rescue. "That doctor is mistaken," he said; "I know I shall get well."

This sick-room tragedy has been enacted thousands of times, and not infrequently the doctor's verdict has come true. In this instance the doctor knew, as every doctor knows, that the patient's best medicine is hope, his worst enemy, fear; nevertheless for years doctors have felt it a duty, under circumstances like the above, to administer a dose of the patient's worst enemy, fear, and at the same time tear from his longing heart his best friend, hope. This has not been done ruthlessly or heartlessly, but lovingly and kindly; still the result has been the same. This course has been thought of as a professional duty, under the belief that every one should have time in which to prepare for death, but even from a purely material standpoint it is inexcusable, and for the reason that thousands of people have recovered after the doctors have said that there was "no hope—nothing to build on." In view of this fact would it not seem both kind and wise to withhold fear and give hope every chance, even up to the last moment and against the physician's own belief regarding the case?

January 30, 1909

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