A Doctor's Memories
Victor C. Vaughan, M.D.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1


My life has been determined by heredity and environment. These are the factors that have molded my being, given direction to its development, marked out the course of its growth and set bounds to its activities. Had either been different from what it was, better or worse, I would have been different from what I have been and from what I am. Heredity supplies the seed and this contains the potentialities of life. Environment conditions the growth, supplying the soil and all else concerned in the conversion of the potential into the actual.

Some years ago Galton coined the word eugenics, which he defined as being well born. Many centuries ago a wise man wrote: “The felicity of being well born is the richest gift the gods may bestow upon mortals.” My maternal grandmother was wont to say to me, long before Galton put the word eugenics into the dictionary, “Victor, never forget that you come of a good family.” I once asked her what she meant by “good family.” She replied that there had been in her family, as far back as tradition and history reached, no criminal, no insane person, no drunkard and no pauper. Grandmother might have added “no man of great distinction.” Knowing my grandmother, as I did, I am sure that she would have struck from the family list the name of any individual who, in her judgment, dishonored it. If Grandmother’s statement was strictly true I feel that there has been some deterioration in the family since her time, as I have known some who were inclined in pre-Volstead days to drain the cup too deeply. Rare is the tree whose every bud develops into perfect fruit and if there be such a family tree I find no adequate evidence of it.

I can not omit a brief account of family tradition and history. As I have indicated, were I to do so, this would not be a true story of my life. I believe in these things and I wish to testify to their beneficial effects upon me all the way through life. I heard them in my childhood from the lips of three generations and they became a part of my very being. They have stayed my steps when tempted to go astray and they have cheered and stimulated me in every good work. Their strict truth in detail is a matter of no vital importance. When family history and tradition lead one to acquire a sense of superiority they are harmful. When they hold one to duty they are the most priceless possessions man can have. At the outset I wish to state that I have no claim to birth of distinction. On both sides I came from families which at no time, covered by tradition or history, have been other than plain people. Still, I state that family ideals planted in my soul in earliest childhood have had a stronger hold on me and have done more for me than the catechism and all other forms of religious instruction.

At birth the child is only a small bundle of potentialities, seeking adjustment to its new environment. At the age of two or thereabout the physical adjustment has been fairly well established. From two to six, the pre-school age, is the time for the implantation of moral and intellectual principles. During this period the child learns more, absorbs more rapidly and assimilates more thoroughly than in any subsequent period. Intelligence expands, imagination awakens, grows by leaps and bounds, and ideals take root. It is what the child acquires at its mother’s knee that becomes the most potent factor in shaping its future life. During the first two years, the child remains, in large part at least, physically a part of the mother, receiving its sustenance from her breasts and even possessing immunity to those diseases to which she is immune. During the next four years its moral and intellectual training is determined by the mother or her substitute. A family of good ideals may pass through generations of adverse environment, of poverty and even of illiteracy and still transmit the seeds of good and honorable citizenship. This was the fate of the families that gave birth to such men as Thomas Carlyle and Abraham Lincoln. Similar examples might be multiplied indefinitely. I am not a Chinaman and do not practice ancestorworship, but I do respect my forebears and acknowledge my indebtedness to them. They have transmitted to me no spark of genius. I am not aware that any of them ever possessed such a gift, be it in the form of a blessing or a curse, and I am sure that I have never acquired it by inheritance or through environment. My family, so far as I can ascertain, bred constantly plain people, honest according to the standards of its several generations, and rebellious to dictation from others in religion, morals and politics.

My father was a Welshman and my mother a French Huguenot with a liberal mixture of English blood. I will first give briefly the tradition and history of my French ancestry. Tradition along this line begins in the year 1033 when Conrad II became King of Burgundy. One of Conrad’s lieutenants at that time was Raphael Du Puy, who was given an important post. Raphael’s son, Hugh Du Puy, went on the first crusade with Godfrey of Bouillon in 1096. In recognition of his services on this expedition he was made Governor of Acre. According to family tradition Hugh took his wife and three children to Syria where he resided for some years. According to history, Acre, or Saint Jean D’Acre, a seaport of Syria, anciently called Ptolemais, on a promontory at the foot of Mount Carmel, was captured by the first crusaders in 1104, recaptured by the Saracens in 1187 and retaken by the Christians under Richard the Lion Hearted in 1191 and given to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. This Hugh is said to have built the Abbey of Aiquebelle of the Order of St. Bernard. The second Hugh Du Puy was in the second crusade in 1140.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there came into existence in Southern France a sect of heretics known from a local town as Albigenses. These people were denounced by the Catholic church and for a time were protected by Raymond, Count of Toulouse. In 1207 Innocent III excommunicated Raymond and under the Inquisition was supposed soon thereafter to have exterminated the heretics. Exactly at what time the family left tile Catholic Church can not be determined, but the continuance of Protestantism in Languedoc is certain. The family record states that it skips nine generations from Hugh, the second crusader, to Jean Du Puy, who was a leader in a Protestant colony in upper Languedoc in 1583. The Edict of Nantes promulgated by Henry IV, April I3, 1598, granted toleration in religion to all French subjects. A period of comparative freedom from religious persecution continued until the revocation of this edict by Louis XIV, on October 22, 1685. During this time three generations of the family came and passed away.

With Bartholomew Du Puy more reliable family information begins though I have no doubt that romance continues. Bartholomew was born in 1650 and was about thirty-five y ears old when the edict was revoked. At that time he was a trusted lieutenant in the household guard of the king on leave of absence at his country home. The royal decree ordered all Protestants to abjure their faith, to submit themselves and all their dependents to the rites and ceremonies of the Catholic Church and to proclaim their sole allegiance to this institution. The alternatives were loss of property, torture, and possibly death.

The following, which purports to be a translation of a message sent by Louis XIV to Bartholomew Du Puy, is treasured in the family records:

“This to our trusted and well beloved Bartholomew Du Puy, one of our guardsmen, who has amnesty granted him with his household until the first day of December. Any annoyance of the said Seigneur Du Puy will be at the peril of the officer who commands it. Such is our royal will. Moreover, we pray our said trusted friend, Du Puy, to abjure his heresy and return to the bosom of the holy church, in which alone is rest.

“Done at Versailles, this thirtieth day of October in the Year 1685.

“To the Seigneur Bartholomew Du Puy at his chateau of Velours in Saintonge. Ride in haste.”

I shall spare the reader the details of Bartholomew’s flight with his recently acquired bride, Susanne Lavillon, to Germany whence after some years of residence he passed through Holland into England. Here Bartholomew and his family remained for a short time and in 1699 under the “commission and providing” of King William came to America. A partial list of the families accompanying the Du Puys on their voyage to this country has been preserved and includes the following names: Dameron, Tribue, Flournoy, Meaux, Maury, Bowdoin, Latiné, Du Valls, Jarnette and Clay. The last mentioned is said to have been the only English family in the group. Some of these names have been so changed in spelling and pronunciation during the two centuries that have elapsed since their coming to this country that recognition is often quite impossible. My mother’s family name, Dameron, has undergone the least change and this is now sometimes spelled without the e.

This group of French Huguenots located temporarily on the James River, about seventeen miles above Richmond, and in the family record this location is given the name of “Monacon,” though the name has different spellings in the chronicles. However, this was only a temporary resting place and the families soon dispersed throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

So nearly as I can trace my direct ancestral line the first three American generations lived in Hanover County, Virginia. Here Joseph Dameron was born, grew up and married Mary Ball. This name has given the family opportunity to claim relationship with Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington. The claim, so far as I know, is founded upon nothing more than the name and the proximity of the families. Joseph Dameron was a revolutionary soldier and was wounded at Guilford Court House. After the war he moved to Dinwiddie County and later “down on the Dan river.” One of his sons, my great-grandfather, George Ball Dameron (1771-1848), married Mary Moore (1781-1870), who lived to the advanced age of eighty-nine, preserving much of her physical and mental alertness to the end. I knew her, rode and drove with her, and listened with great eagerness to her stories of the family. My other - on my mother’s side was Mary Clay, “a daughter of Edward C. Clay, whose father was a brother of Reverend John Clay, the father of Henry Clay.” This good lady gave me in my boyhood days “Henry Clay’s whiskey glass” which I still possess, but it has long been void of the ancient beverage. Probably it is one of the many glasses from which this illustrious statesman took his toddy.

From the autobiography of the late James P. Dameron (my mother’s brother) of San Francisco, published privately in 1877, I take the following:

“Edward C. Clay’s wife was a Tribue, whose mother was a daughter of Count Bartholomew Du Puy, one of those noble and great men who, with his accomplished wife disguised as a page, fled from home and country rather than abjure their religious faith and escaped from France to Germany where they resided fourteen years and then went to England and stayed two years, and then emigrated to Virginia in 1699 or 1700 and settled at a place called Monican Town, some twenty miles above Richmond on the James River.”

From the same source I make the following extracts concerning two of my ancestors:

“Joseph Dameron was a large, fine looking man and a school teacher by profession but kept a farm for his family to live on. He had five sons and three daughters. He was in the Revolutionary War under Captain Rainey and was at the Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina.”

“George Ball Dameron (Joseph’s son): was an old school Virginia gentleman. He wore knee breeches, straight breasted coat and queue; but toward the close of his life he had his queue cut off as he said it made him too marked. He was a stout built man, about five feet ten inches in height, broad shoulders and thick set, fair complexion and blue eyes. He was a very good man and every one respected him; a deacon in the Methodist church and an old Jeffersonian Democrat, a well-to-do farmer, had a large farm and some ten or fifteen negroes to do the work; but he taught all his children to work on the farm, saying it was a disgrace to be idle and lazy. His house was always open to his children and grandchildren. On Saturday evening it was always full and rang with the shouts of laughter, but at bedtime all were to come in to prayers. He read a chapter in the Bible, sang a song’ all standing; then all knelt down and he offered up a fervent prayer. He had perfect control of his passions, and never gave expression to them. His wife was tall and slender, had a fair complexion and blue eyes, and was very active and industrious; always kept her cupboard full of sweetmeats and good things for the children. As soon as any of the children got married father and mother had laid by money to purchase a home for them, with horses, Cows, sheep and pigs; and a negro, to help them start in the world, was loaned, but seldom returned. His wife had her daughters well supplied with linen, beds and bedding. She would say: ‘I don’t want my daughters to go to housekeeping like turtles with their outfits on their backs. Love is well enough in its place, but when poverty comes in at the door love flies out at the window. Nothing like a plenty of good food, warm rooms and nice soft beds to keep cupid at home. Do this, my daughters’ and treat your husbands kindly and they will be good to you; try to help them to lay by for the rainy day and you and your children will never stand in want of the necessities of life.’”

William Moore Dameron (1799-1839, a son of George Ball) married his cousin, Eliza I. Dameron (1800-1873), and became a tobacco grower in Caswell County, North Carolina. The family Bible, now in my possession, shows that he was twenty and she nineteen when they were married. Both inherited slaves and life seemed fair in prospect, but soon the young husband realized that an old enemy to the family, pulmonary tuberculosis, had its grip upon him. Even at that time there was a well founded belief that an outdoor life was best for a victim marked by this disease. Therefore, with his wife, five children, four brothers, all of his negroes and much of his live stock, William Dameron migrated to Missouri in 1829. Two daughters, one of whom was my mother, were born to him after this migration. He purchased a farm in Randolph County and continued his former occupation of growing tobacco. The journey benefited him but did not secure the complete suppression of the disease. Therefore he began the practice of buying a drove of mules each year and taking them overland to New Orleans. Here these animals were converted into coffee, sugar and other staple merchandise and the return trip made by boat to St. Louis. In the Black Hawk War, William Dameron served with the rank of colonel. After his death (1839) his widow received some back pay from the government. This she converted into silver tablespoons bearing her late husband’s name and these were distributed among their children. My grandmother leased her negroes to her sons and sons-in-law by the year. During the last years of her life she made her home with my mother. From this grandmother and the two great-grandmothers mentioned, also from my mother and other members of the family, I heard the story of my French ancestry as I have outlined it. One of my mother’s brothers, the late James P. Dameron of San Francisco, published for private distribution in the seventies three papers on this subject: (I) Count Du Puy’s Escape to America; (2) The Du Puys in America; (3) Autobiography. In the D. A. R. magazine of January, 1921, there may be found confirmation of this story by Edith Roberts Ramsburgh. It is said that an article by J. Esten Cooke in an early number of Harper’s Magazine, entitled The Huguenot Sword, is founded on this story. One may read a further confirmation of my story in Kith and Kin by John R. Sampson, William Bird Press, Richmond, Virginia.

This is not a boastful story. It is not improbable, though I have no doubt that it is colored with romance, and it is not inconsistent with historical records. Be it true or fictitious I am sure that it has had a most potent influence upon my life and conduct. When I have turned instantly, instinctively and with horror from a bad suggestion coming from someone else or having birth within myself, I like to think that my action is determined by inheritance. It is due to a reflex born in me and is an essential function of my being. Most of the critical moments in life are determined by impulse and not by the slower processes of reasoning. The one who stops to reason, to weigh the pros and cons, is likely to meet disaster. On the crowded highway of life each driver must look out not only for himself, but for all others at the wheel. It is not enough to know and practice the rules of the road. There are sure to be some who either do not know or who do not practice. It is well to exercise caution, but the possession of skill enhances safety. The reflex must work promptly and correctly. There are mental and moral impulses as well as physical, and fortunate is the man whose moral reflexes are prompt in action and correct in direction. I admit that it is debatable as to the extent to which moral impulses are inherited and I would not deny the importance of training in their development.

The Virginia Huguenots dropped all titles and prefixes to their names. Jacques de la Fontaine became plain James Fontaine and Count Bartholomew Du Puy became Bartholomew Du Puy. Even the titles Mr. and Mrs. were reserved for strangers. Those of like age addressed one another by the first name while the terms, uncle, aunt and cousin, were extended to all members of the community and had but little significance in showing blood or marriage relationships. When a stranger came to reside in the community, at first he was designated as “Mr.” If he continued his residence and was approved he became one of the community and was addressed as “Uncle” or “Cousin” as the relative ages of the speaker and the addressed indicated. This custom was in consonance with the French people’s practice during and after the Revolution when every man was a citizen. I grew up with this habit firmly fixed and I have usually addressed my intimates, my colleagues, and my better known students by their first names. On some occasions this has embarrassed me and possibly my friends to an even greater extent.

My French ancestry had been, as far back as tradition goes, an agricultural people. In France, they grew grapes, fruit, grain and stock, and for the most part the family continued these pursuits in this country. I can find actual evidence of only one lawyer in all the generations, and he, the late James P. Dameron of San Francisco was more successful as a rancher than as a lawyer. There have been one or more physicians in nearly every generation, but most of these have been village doctors practising in rural communities. Doctor John James Du Puy, a lineal descendant and the inheritor of the sword of Bartholomew, served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army. The sword was “irrevocably lost” by the burning of the home of Mrs. Julian Ruffin near Petersburg in the Civil War. That my people have been farmers so continuously accounts for the fact that the locations for several generations are given by the names of counties and not by those of towns or cities. Indeed this condition largely prevailed throughout the South until the Civil War. Up to that time the South was almost exclusively an agricultural country. A manufacturer was rare and a small tradesman was not highly esteemed. Social position was largely determined by acres and slaves owned. Of course all this has greatly changed and even the descendants of the slowgoing Huguenots, like all others, are now flocking to the cities. Both by inheritance arid environment I am a ruralite. In fact, I suffer from an urbophobia - a dislike for residence in a large city. I prefer Ann Arbor to New York and Old Mission to Atlantic City. I shun crowded thoroughfares and seek rural lanes. I prefer a cottage in the woods to a mansion in the city. I hope that the bungalow will win in the contest with the apartment house. My picture of heaven is a land where each family owns its little home with a modest house, a fertile vegetable garden and beautiful flowers in bloom the year around. A city paved with gold has no allurement for me.

I am told that the name Vaughan is an Anglicized Welsh word, a term of endearment, best translated by the phrase “a dear little fellow.” Since I am absolutely ignorant of Welsh speech, which was “a fine old language when ours was young,” I am perfectly willing to accept :his translation, or, if it be wrong, I am equally willing to accept the appellation given to the Welshman in an immortal ditty, “Taffy is a Welshman,” first published in /Punch/ many years ago. This refers to the Welshman as a “jolly little brick.”

All I know about my Welsh ancestry is that after the battle of Waterloo and after the little Corsican had been safely housed at St. Helena, when England was no longer in need of Welsh protection, my grandfather, Sampson Vaughan, having some leisure, married Mary Jones, a worthy compatriot, and came to America on his honeymoon. He bought a scrub oak farm, which I have no doubt he called an estate, near Durham, North Carolina, and with the aid of some negroes, spent the remainder of his days in cultivating that weed which was introduced into England by Sir Walter Raleigh. My father, John Vaughan, it appears, grew tired of hoeing tobacco; and working with an uncle in Durham became quite an expert cabinet maker. Later, wishing to see something of the fabulous West, he enlisted in the quartermaster’s department of the United States Army and did his bit in the construction of Forts Laramie and Kearney

Recently I motored into the thriving city of Laramie, Wyoming, with wide open eyes seeking for some evidence of my father’s handiwork, but seeing nothing which by the widest stretch of my imagination I could convert into a fort, I asked an apparently intelligent citizen. “Oh!” says he, “Old Fort Laramie! It is a hundred miles or more from here.” When father’s term of enlistment expired he found himself in old Missouri and in love with Adeline Dameron, whom he married, after which momentous event he returned to the occupation of growing tobacco.

In my boyhood days when I came across the family name in English history or in literature it was my habit to take it to my father and ask if the name mentioned indicated a relative of his. One day he replied to one of these interrogations something as follows: “Great men, indifferent men and even bad men have borne that name. Pick out the good ones and emulate them; neglect the indifferent ones and despise the bad ones.” This sage advice I have followed. It gives me the unique opportunity of selecting my own ancestors. I can claim relationship with every good Vaughan and deny all others, and since among my ancestors there have been as many females as males I can claim kinship with any good Welshman, be he living or dead. Should I be rude enough to claim kinship with Lloyd George he would have more trouble in disproving it than he did in bringing England safely through the World War. Indeed, I doubt that he would undertake so Herculean a task; therefore I will not put him to the test.

Some years ago my wife and I made an inspection trip through Wales. I wanted to see something of my cousins. I had telegraphed to a hotel at Llandudno and when we alighted from the train at that delightful resort a porter with a pushcart for our baggage met us. We followed him along Vaughan Street and at the hotel the proprietor greeted me as “Major Vaughan,” as he assured me that he had reserved his best room for us. I was entitled to that appellation, but I wondered how it happened that my Welsh host was so well acquainted with the heroes of the Spanish-American War. It was not until three days later that Major Vaughan of the British Army arrived and my wonderment was relieved. I may add that there was no suggestion from either the Boniface or the English Major that we vacate the best room. I have no doubt that there were many /best/ rooms in that small hostelry.

The guide book told us that Corsygedol, “the old family seat of the Vaughans, descendants of an Irish nobleman” had passed into the hands of a rich Australian by the name of Dangerfield, but that the present proprietor would grant visitors permission to inspect the premises on the receipt of a written request. Of course it went against the grain of an American to ask of an interloper permission to visit his own ancestral halls. After a few days at the hotel at Barmouth we had learned all the details about the occupants of Corsygedol. So one morning we drove to the lodge gate. A woman appeared. I said “Good morning, Mrs. Jones. Bring the keys to the church.” She asked, “I suppose that you are a friend of Mr. Dangerfield?” I ignored her question and repeated my request. In the chapel are stone effigies of a Vaughan of the year 1620 with his wife, two sons and four daughters. If there be any truth in these images, I prefer kinship to the good-looking Mrs. Jones who brought the keys and served as our guide. Near the mansion is a stone known as Arthur’s Quoit, said to have been thrown by that Prince from the top of a mountain. “There can be no doubt about the truth of the story for there are the marks of the royal fingers eighteen inches long.”

On one of the roads between Barmouth and Dolgelly the tourist passes quite a forest of splendid trees and is told that they were planted by Colonel Vaughan’s soldiers during the “Short Peace” with Napoleon. This area is known as the “Peace Plantation” and may be regarded as a national Welsh cemetery for soldiers of the Napoleonic wars. Planting trees was no doubt a happy interlude in the battles against the “Little Corporal.”

Nannau, another residence of the Vaughan family, “is said to stand on the highest ground of any gentleman’s estate in Great Britain, and undoubtedly the situation is one of the most romantic kind with Moel Cynwd and Moel Orfrwm standing as sentinels over it.” I am told that Moel is a Welsh word for mountain. On inquiry at Nannau we were told that a dispute over the succession to the estate had recently been decided in favor of an American claimant. This information quite elated us and we had visions of being entertained, but on sending in our cards we were informed that the owner, having established his claim, returned the United States and was then hunting wild cats in Wyoming or attending the horse races in Kentucky, for these pastimes are among the allurements which attract English gentlemen of leisure to this country.

The Welsh are strong on tradition, since this and their scenery are about the only things they have to occupy their minds, when they are not engaged in protecting England against the rest of the world. The Vaughan family tradition runs back to the time, if there ever was such a time, when the Scotch, Irish and Welsh were all one, at least in language, and that, of course, was the Welsh tongue. Once in schoolboy days I was called an Irishman. I did not know whether to’ regard this as a reproach or as a compliment, so I took the matter to Father He assured me that the Vaughans had originally lived in Ireland, but that centuries ago Taffy had swum across the sea and built a home on the Welsh hills where lights were kept burning every night to pilot any of his friends who might be attempting the same feat. This story is confirmed by the following lines from the Punch ditty already referred to:

“If Taffy rides to my house
Or unto Pat’s cloth swim,
I think my Taffy will remark
That we might learn of him.”

Once on a somewhat prolonged stay in Boston a good doctor friend invited me to exchange my hotel bed for a more comfortable one in his home. At dinner the doctor’s wife put me through a social catechism. She wanted to know what county in England my ancestors came from. I answered that they did not come from England but from Merionethshire in Wales. She then asked me if they came over with William the Conqueror. I told her that they did not come from Normandy but that they were on the reception committee at Hastings when William landed. I added that our family tradition claims that my ancestors performed a like function on the arrival of Julius Caesar some years before. The tradition continues, saying that the weaker Welsh, those who could not swim the sea, were left in Ireland to be tormented by the snakes until Saint Patrick, of blessed memory, came and relieved them of these pests.

Having claimed the privilege of selecting my Welsh ancestry I might go into detail, but this would be largely fiction; and an autobiographer should shun this so far as possible. I will close this section with the statement that the family name has not been altogether free from stain. I was once introduced to a Belgian who pronounced my name correctly. When I expressed some surprise at this he said, with some hesitation: “You must be aware of the fact that your name is not without notoriety in my country,” referring to the scandal about Leopold II and the Baroness Vaughan. But she had acquired the name by marriage and not by birth.

In France and Germany the name is pronounced Vo-gan, with the accent on the last syllable. I was once attending a clinic in Paris conducted by my friend Doctor Pozzi. The speaker referred to me, his guest, as Doctor Vo-gan There were three or four American doctors in attendance. One of these touched me on the shoulder and asked, “Who in the devil are you?” When I told him that at home I was Vaughan, he exclaimed, “Victor Vaughan!”

I have had great fun in selecting my cousins among the Vaughans. In the eighties I was waiting one oppressively hot night at the Union Station in Chicago. I saw across the street a sign, “Saloon, J. Vaughan.” I crossed over and entered. The only man in the room was behind the bar. I asked him to bring two mugs to a table and as we sipped the cooling beverage we talked about the Vaughan family. He learned that I was on my way to Missouri, that I would return next Wednesday with my wife and that I would attend the laying of the corner stone of the then new Federal building. When I left, he said: “You and Mrs. Vaughan will be here next Wednesday. The hotels will be crowded. Come here and let me entertain you.” His name went down on my list of cousins.

More recently I was motoring through a prosperous southern city where I called at a palatial bank and sent in my card to the president, Mr. Vaughan. He received my wife and me in his office and we had a pleasant chat, but he had an air of expectancy, counting on me to draw a check and ask for cash. He could not be a cousin for three reasons: (1) He was handsome; (2) he was rich; and (3) he did not invite us to dinner.

From the Vaughans I have selected a number of cousins among whom I may mention with pride, T. Wayland Vaughan, now Director of the Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California, and Doctor Tully Vaughan of Washington, D. C., who rode the /Leviathan/ as surgeon during the war and rendered other valuable service to our Navy.

When I visit France, Wales and England I feel at home and seem to be reviewing people and scenes once seen in dim outline. I wonder if there may be an inherited subconsciousness, or does this sensation result from stories told me in early childhood? A Frenchman once wrote a book showing that unicellular organisms are potentially immortal. On reaching a certain stage of development they split into two and then continue their existence until interrupted by lack of food. Is not this equally true of human germ plasm, and while men are mortal, man is immortal ?

In human beings, as in bacteria, the thread of life is continuous. Enrichment or impoverishment of the soil may modify growth but does not readily alter the essential qualities of the seed. However, I am ready to admit that bad environment long continued may weaken and possibly obliterate desirable qualities.

Of personal, conscious, continuous existence I am uncertain. Of racial perpetuity, so far as limited human comprehension can go, I have no doubt. Man transmits his actual qualities. These may differ widely from those assumed by himself or attributed to him by others. A donkey may be covered with a lion’s skin but its progeny will continue to be donkeys. A childless man said: “When I see the manly sons and womanly daughters of Richard Roe I am filled with regret. When I see the degenerate offspring of John Doe I thank God.” Heredity and environment are not antagonistic, but are complementary, factors in race betterment.

A Doctor's Memories
Victor C. Vaughan, M.D.

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