Wednesday, February 28, 2018

One From The Old Days

Recently I was reminded of a post I had put on here back in 2012. It was an article I had written for my home scion newsletter, and had made it into a post on here afterward. However, when I did my rebirth on here (updated the look, the time between posts, content, etc.) I erased all of the old posts so that I could move on without any anchors holdng me back. The one I was reminded of was one of those that didn't survive the change. But, in the interest of having a post this month, and of looking back on one of the then-favorite pieces, I decided to repost it. So, here it is with a few updates and corrections.

Ladis and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Horatio C. Wood, Jr. (January 13, 1841 - January 3, 1920)

Allow me to explain.

In 'The Adventure of the Resident Patient' (RESI) we meet a doctor named Percy Trevelyan. Watson recognized him as the author of a monograph on obscure nervous lesions. Trevelyan tells us this:
"I am compelled, to begin with, to say something of my own college career. I am a London University man, you know, and I am sure you will not think that I am unduly singing my own praises if I say that my student career was considered by my professors to be a very promising one. After I had graduated I continued to devote myself to research, occupying a minor position in King's College Hospital, and I was fortunate enough to excite considerable interest by my research into the pathology of catalepsy, and finally to win the Bruce Pinkerton prize and medal by the monograph on nervous lesions to which your friend has just alluded. I should not go too far if I were to say that there was a general impression at that time that a distinguished career lay before me."
Trevelyan has a visitor to his office one day named Blessington, who makes him one of those "can't refuse" offers. Trevelyan bites, and the whole thing goes downhill from there. What we're interested in here is the comparisons betwen Trevelyan and the aforementioned Dr. Wood.

I spent several weeks researching in an attempt to figure out what the Bruce-Partington Prize and medal were and what they were given for. I could find no record of any award by that name, but I did find many different ones that were given out all over the globe for various reasons or specialties. In my research I also found the name of Dr. Wood and his very familiar sounding history. (I know there are books out there that deal with the actual identites of Canonical figures, but I found this completely on my own. Pretty cool, huh?) Dr. Wood had a career in the medical field that lasted decades. During that time he wrote at least one major paper a year (usually three or more), gave hundreds of speeches and lectures, and was recognized as a world authority on "chronic mania." But it was some of the landmarks in his life that raised my curiosity.

Now, admittedly, there are some major differences in the two lives. Ones that cannot be ignored. But it may be necessary to accept that Watson may have been trying to hide or change info about Dr. Trevelyan to protect him and his practice, not to mention the embarrassment he may have felt after the drama with Blessington. The two biggest hurdles to get around are that Dr. Wood attended the University of Pennsylvania, and I can't find any record of him ever leaving the U.S. Even for a little while. But, the positives outweigh the negatives. Dr. Wood was the author of a paper in 1877 titled "Partial Aphasis without Appreciable Lesion of Island of Reil" in the American Journal of Medical Sciences. That sounds like a monograph on nervous lesions to me. (By the way, the Island of Reil is not a place but a part of the brain in the cerebral cortex named after Johann Christian Reil, a German physician. He was also the first person to use the term "psychiatrie" in 1808.)
Wood also wrote three papers specifically concerning nitrite of amyl. In fact, he was awarded the Dr. J. Mason Warren prize of the Massachusetts General Hospital for his "Experimental Researches in the Physiological Action of Amyl Nitrite." And when the English Journal of Physiology came into existence at Trinity College, Dr. Wood was honored to be one of three Americans to act as co-editors, something I would call a 'minor position' with any college.

So, we have to look at this two different ways and try and figure out what Watson was doing here. (That's if you accept these 'coincidences' between Wood and Trevelyan.)
1. If Watson was hiding or changing info about Trevelyan in order to protect him, may be he was using Wood's life as his model.
2. Maybe Trvelyan was in actuality Wood and Watson changed his name and a lof of things about him in order to keep his (Wood's) name out of the papers given his standing in the medical profession.

This only leaves one other hurdle to overcome between these two men. Dr. Trevelyan tells us that he is a London University man, but that is also Watson's old school, so if Wood really was the model for ol' Percy, it looks like our beloved doctor was feeling nostalgic when he changed the name of Wood's school.
I had originally posted this way back in January of 2012. It got some attention by another major blog of the time, and recently I was reminded of it. So, I dug out my original article for my home society neswletter, doucble-checked my info, made a few corrections, and put it back on here. Makes me feel sort of nostalgic.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I'll see you next month.