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Joke ID 40

Work: [1] 'The Book of Humour, ...'(1880, book)
> Transcription: [32] from page s: 34-36
>> Joke: 40

A " Savant" in the Witness Box.

Occasionally— very rarely, it must be owned— the witness is, besides being a man of science, a man of the world— " one who joins to the requirements of the savant" all the quickand ready-witted tact of society. Here is such a case. The barrister was no common man ; he was highly and variously gifted; he had a keen wit and a commanding eloquence. It was his task, on the occasion Irefer to, to obtain from the medical witness the admission that the substance to which thepoisoning was attributedwas one freelyused inpractice, often prescribed by the best physicians, and o"ccasionally in doses that verged on being excessive. Now,Doctor A.," said he, "you have told us that strychnine is to be found in the PharmacopSia, an admission that goes to show that the faculty are not afraid, to use the vulgar illustration, to play with edge tools. You have also said that you have administered it in your own practice. Will you be kind enough to inform us in what doses?" "The dose would be determined by the nature of the illness, the object sought to be obtained, and the peculiar circumstances of the individual patient." "Come, come, doctor,I am not trying to poach on you for an unfee'd opinion. Iwant generalities. Would you give a grain of this medicine?" " Imight. Iwould rather give an eighth, or a sixth, or a fourth of a grain." "But you have actually given as much as a grain?" "I believeIhave." "Now, would you give two, or are there cases in which you would give three grains ? For instance, would you venture to administer three grains to one of the gentlemen of the jury ? " "I opine not." "Might there not be a case in which you would give his Lordship yonder as much as three grains ?" "Ishould say not— " certainly not." Would you give me three grains ?" At this the doctor seemedslightly confusedand unwilling to reply, and the lawyer, accepting the hesitation as confusion from being puzzled,followed up his supposed advantage by repeating hisquestion. "Iam doubtful on the point. It is possible thatImight," was the reply, after a long pause. "Good heavens, sir! what do you mean? You have told us that underno circumstance would you administer as much as three grains to one of the gentlemen of the jury,nor to his Lordship on the bench, and yet you now avow that you are actuallyuncertain whether you would not give this dose to me! Explain this, sir, if you can." "The action of strychnine is but imperfectly known," said the doctor, with great composure. "It would be a valuable contribution to medical science to determine it; and we have a maxim in chemistry that says, 'Fiat experimentum in corpore vili.' That'smy meaning." In this case it was not the lawyer who triumphed.



  • Book title: The Book of Humour, Wit & Wisdom. A manual of table-talk. [By L. C. Gent?]]
  • Date: 1880
  • Joke taken from: Page 34
  • Book Editor: GENT, L. C.
  • City: London, Edinburgh
  • Country: England, Scotland
  • Added by: ben
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