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A FEMALE MEDICAL COMBATANT.

"An incident is just now being discussed m military circles so extraordinary that, were not its truth capable of being vouched for by official authority, the narration would certainly be deemed absolutely incredible. Our officers quartered at the Cape between fifteen and twenty years ago may remember a certain doctor attached to the medical staff there, and enjoying a reputation for considerable skill m his profession, especially for firmness, decision, and rapidity m difficult operations. This gentleman had entered the army m 1813, had passed, of course, through the grades of assistant-surgeon and surgeon m various regiments, and served as such m various quarters of the globe. His professional acquirements had procured him his promotion to the staff at the Cape. He was clever and agreeable, save for the drawback of a most quarrelsome temper, and an inordinate addiction to argument, which perpetually brought the latter peculiarity into play. He was excessively plain, of feeble proportions, and laboured under the imperfection of a ludicrously squeaking voice. Any natural • chatting' with regard to these, however, especially roused his ire, but was at length gradually discontinued on his 4 calling out' a persevering offender, and shooting him through the lungs. About 1840 he became promoted to be Medical Inspector, and was transferred to Malta. There he was equally distinguished by his skill and his pugnacious propensities, the latter becoming so inconveniently developed upon the slightest difference of opinion with him that at last no notice was allowed to be taken of his fits of temper. He proceeded from Malta to Corfu, where he was quartered for many years, conspicuous for the same pecularities. When our Government ceded the lonian Islands to Greece, and our troops, of course, quitted the territory, D r . elected to leave the army, and to take up his residence for the rest of his days at Corfu. He there died about a month ago, and upon his death was discovered to be a woman ! Very probably this discovery was elicited during the natural preparations for interment, there seeming to be an idea prevalent that either verbally, during the last illness, or by some writing perused immediately after his (for I must still use the masculine) death, he had begged to be buried without any post-mortem examination of any sort. This, most likely, only aroused the curiosity of the two nurses who attended him ; for it was to them, it appears, that the disclosure of this mystery is owing. Under the circumstauces, the fact was deemed so important that medical testimony was called m to report upon and record its truth. By his investigation not only was the assertion placed beyond a doubt, but it was equally beyond a doubt brought to light that the individual m question had, at some time or another, been a mother ! This is all that is as yet known of this extraordinary story. The motives that occasioned, and the time when was commenced this singular deception, are both shrouded m mystery. But thus it stands an indubitable fact, that a woman was for forty years an officer m the British service, had fought one duel, and had sought many more, had pursued a legitimate medical education, had received a regular diploma, and had acquired almost a celebrity for skill as a surgical operator! There is no doubt whatever about the fact, but I doubt whether even Miss Braddon herself would have ventured to make use of it m fiction." The above is extracted from Saundefs NewsLetter and Daily Advertiser of August 14, and it has been the subject of not a little "club tattle." There need be no hesitation, therefore, about our stating what we have heard. The author of the I above has fallen into many inaccuracies ; but he i is correct m the main point —the sex of the deceased. There is quite enough to stimulate curiosity and provoke astonishment m this bare fact without any artificial dressing. The deceased was very well known, and many were the stories and surmises circulated during his (?) lifetime. The physique, the absence of hair, the voice, all pointed one way, and the petulance of temper, the unreasoning impulsiveness, the fondness for pets, were m the same direction. The deceased doctor died m London --not m Corfu — and was buried at Kensal Green. His declining years were comforted by the cat, dog, and parrot, SO dear to elderly women, especially single ones. It appenrs that a woman employed to perform the last offices for the dead discovered the sex. About this point she was very positive indeed, declaring that she was not likely to be deceived as the mother of a large family herself. "Call him a general? Why, he's a women like miself !" was her explanation, spite of the paronomasia it involved. Moreover, she asserted, with equal assurance and decision, that there were undoubted signs of maternity. In these conclusions the woman was supported and corroborated by others. The deceased had fought a duel, we believe ; but whether she shot her adversary through the lungs is another thing. As to the "firmness," "skill m operating," "decision of character," &o. — about her possession of these there may be a question ; but about the querulousness, irritability, and quarrelsomeness, there can be none. In 1813, when the deceased entered the army, the profes3inal qualifications required for the service were not of the highest order. Bo that as it may, we have here all the elements for a first-rate novel. What an interesting autobiography it might have made ! Was it an early folly that led her to find too late that men betray, and did she embrace the army as a means to soothe her melancholy, or with the hope of meeting and shooting her betrayer? — Medical Times and Gazette, Aug. 26.

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A FEMALE MEDICAL COMBATANT. Timaru Herald, Volume II, Issue 80, 25 November 1865

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