When I graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1827, I was in love with but two things.
A girl and homoeopathy, and with not a dollar in my pocket, I married both of them. This soon meant for me a family, and the means with which to support it, all of which followed as per schedule, the first rather quickly, and the supporting practice very soon after. And starting with twins at the first throw of the family dice-cup, I eventually found myself the proud father of eight girls, and a practice which enabled me to shelter, feed, clothe and educate them all quite properly, but with little or less set aside for the rainy day which we are told “Do Come” sooner or later. One night, as I lay thinking it over and computing income and outgo, the thought came to me, why not attempt to finance the possibilities by financing my patients.
I had a good practice among a large middle class of intelligent people, in a community that I was convinced had a most promising future, and like all good doctors, I soon had quite a number of well-to-do people as patients, many of whom seemed to endow me with miraculous powers of healing, and who called me on the slightest provocation and were apparently delighted to pay me even more than I had the conscience to charge. In other words, they paid their bills with exceeding promptness, and not infrequently added a goodly bonus, as a token of their appreciation of my services.
So all was fair sailing, but still up to this time I was not making any provision for the future, for that later stormy weather and winter of life when we can neither run and not be weary, nor walk and not faint and the earning of an honest dollar is far removed from our ability.
These thoughts gave me frequent attacks or insomnia, as the years of rich harvest went rolling along.
An attack of sickness now and then, superinduced by overwork and worry, and the mounting budget of expense, finally caused me to select the plan which solved the problem, and give the opportunity to live comfortably ever after, by still receiving, and at more definite and regular intervals, about the same income as when in active practice-once removed-as very many of them have passed on to a country where, we are told, there is no need for doctors.
And should they by any method of spirit communication, come to know how my plan had enabled them to thus endow their beloved family physician in his old age, I am very sure they would twang their golden harps with renewed vigor.
And now as one of your fraternal brothers, I shall essay to tell you how I worked it out.
The Plot Thickens!.
After counting up my list of paying patients and tabulating the varying amounts which they had been paying me for years and years, and going over my expense sheet, I discovered that nearly or quite two-thirds of my years income, might and indeed should, be devoted to investments for unknown and future needs, and as fanciful idea, I segregated a goodly number of personal accounts, and identified each by its individual personality.
To further illustrate, the Jones account might represent so many shares of D.L. & W.R.R. stock, the Smith credits, so many shares of American Gas & Electric 1st Pref. And the Brown, Garrahan, Finigan, Lee Jackson and Robinson accounts would each in turn represent the investment of funds handed me at different periods, for professional service rendered by me, to these excellent friends and patients.
So you see, that as a result, these good old loyal souls still continue to pay their bills quarterly, nor do I have to make any new visits, or prescriptions. No longer do the doorbell and telephone shriek out in raucous and terrifying tones their insistent demands that I come at once to see whether Willie has cut the tooth he “had otter” cut. No bills, no duns, and no misunderstanding; everyone happy so far as heard from!.
Remarkably soon after starting this plan, I found I had interest to reinvest, and as physical ability declined, and the strain of practice became too severe, my income from owned securities increased, until I found I could gracefully retire, with no loss of comfort or need for overfatigue.
True, you will pick an occasional lemon in investment, even as an occasional lemon will pick you for her, his or its doctor. But taken as a whole, I feel that my plan of financing patients for the future has worked admirably, for it has served to perpetuate an income ample for all my wants, whims and fancies. And so, I do not hesitate to recommend it to my young friends, as the best I know.
Had I begun earlier, I might have given myself a longer play-spell, but this world of ours being a work-world, I think it has been best, as I have played it.
Money is not everything, but it comes so near to being so, that its too serious to joke about it!.
Health is surely more valuable than money, for with it money can be procured, and without health poverty can become very impertinent.
He who has health, has hope, and he who has hope has everything.
Life is but a course in navigation after all, and we doctors should learn to steer our crafts so as to land a worthwhile cargo when we arrive at the harbor of old age.
Lifes evening, we may rest assured, will take its character from the day which has preceded it.
That doctor who insists on living above his present circumstances, is in danger later on of living much beneath them.
To write or talk on any subject without previously taking time to understand it, would be an insult to your intelligence; still, I feel that I have your acquiescence to this fact, namely, that it is easier to conceal a thousand dollars, than to hide a hole in the seat of your trousers. Or again, it is comparatively easy to conceal wealth, but from easy to hide poverty.
And now a word as to suitable investments, for a doctor who is in the habit of receiving money frequently.
Judging from personal experience, the best for the doctor are the bonds and preferred stocks of the Public Utility Companies, meaning particularly those which are well seasoned, not unreasonably capitalized, well distributed, and with a large customer and employee holding.
The “first preferred” stock of a company serving a number of progressive cities, forms one of the safest and best investments I know of, and speaking of Public Utility Companies, the best of all is a water supply company not overcapitalized, and so situated, that it can serve its patrons by a gravity system of distribution.
The people must have the utilities, and to enjoy them, they must pay the price.
By proceeding upon the plan thus briefly sketched, I have succeeded in acquiring a little bunch of dividend-paying securities, which give me a monthly income sufficient for any reasonably minded old doctor, who has no absolute assurance of another seventy years on earth, and knows not whether he will ultimately fall asleep on the bosom of Hahnemann or of Beelzebub.
Right here, let us sidetrack for a moment, while I tell you why I have selected this class of securities as the most desirable.
They are essential business.
There is stability of earnings.
It is a cash business.
No bad debts.
Customer and employee ownership.
Constantly increasing demand.
Consistent earning power.
What more pray, can a doctor ask from invested patients?.
In a heart to heart talk, we can afford to be quiet personal, and in order to let you visualize the horizon of my manner of living, I must continue and admit that my wants are modest, and quite possibly some of my hearers would, if obliged to live so normally, feel it hardly worth while. Why, I do not even own an automobile or a Ford, but, as I get quite a bit of my physical exercise dodging the cars of others, I benefit through their activities.
And so, dodging automobiles and working among my flowers, takes care of the muscles.
My mental gymnastics I find in reading and study, and my pleasures in listening to my friends, and in being of such assistance as I can, to those less agreeably situated.
My vices consist of tobacco and an occasional disregard of the Volstead amendment.
My religion may be described as that of a man believing in one God, and the Personal Behavior, and the Golden Rule and Ten Commandments, plus the Organon of Hahnemann, make a good working formula for a doctor to build his celestial residence upon.
As a homoeopath he can certainly live up to the commandment which says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and thats some blood poisoning.
Now there is one other subject which might as well be brought to book, and that is DEBT.
I was raised with the idea that debt was a terrible thing, to be avoided as one would a pestilence. I soon discovered that I had been wrongly informed, and that a debt of the right kind was one of the best friends a young doctor could cultivate, that when he starts out and runs in debt for his home, he knows that he must save, to enable him to pay for it, and this soon happens.
This is even more true in the field of investments, for if you buy the non-speculative, gilt-edged securities, with long dividend records, they will be carried at your bank as good collateral for your loan, and the returns thereon, in addition to what you pay from time to time, will soon place them under your own lock and key.
But with it all, there is so much in life that cannot be reckoned with, that each one of us must perforce, find his own road to success or failure, and no one has really failed, until the undertaker him over.
So I have offered that which seemed best for me, as proved in the roundup. Nor should we disdain small beginnings, nor be ashamed to save.
There is no gain so certain as that which proceeds from the proper use of what you already have.
Now let us seriously consider the German. Suppose that a German physician starts in embryo, so to speak, to save and lay aside for the future only 10,000 marks a day, a mere trifle of course-and does so until he is a old as I am. Think of his power for dissipation; why, were he so minded, he could proudly step into the nearest “Kneip” and purchase a glass of ambrosial suds and pay for it!.
No, indeed, we should never belittle the day of small German beginnings!.
And if in this assembled audience here present, there may be one or more who presumably at least, like myself, have long shed their milk teeth, and feel that they have arrived at the turning point in lifes pathway, and if at times their cerebrations incline to pessimism and they are disposed to bid farewell to hope, let them turn to old Homer and read what he says about it in his “Iliad”:.
“No living man can send me to the Shades before my time. No man of women born, coward or brave, can shun his destiny”.
And swearing by the hip pocket of Hippocrates; by the socks of Socrates; and by the Ha has of dear old Hahnemann; so also say I!.