Medical SkillThe Cor
Medicum PromptnessGrateful PatientsThe Medical CollegeThe Victoria
Hospital Africas Noblest WomanhoodThe Reverend D. Doig Young.
A good doctor should be at once a
genius, a saint, and a man of God.Amiel.
I am a missionary, heart and soul.
God had only one Son, and he was a missionary and a physician. A poor
imitation of him I am or wish to be. In this service I hope to live, and
in it I hope to die. It is something to be a follower, however feeble, in
the wake of the great Teacher and only model Missionary that ever appeared
among men. May we venture to invite young men of education, when laying
down the plan of their lives, to take a glance at that of missionary? We
will magnify the office.David
A good surgeon must have an eagles
eye, a lions heart, and a ladys hand.Old Proverb.
Let me be sick myself, if
sometimes the malady of my patient be not a disease unto me. I desire
rather to cure his infirmities than my own necessities.
Sir Thomas Brownes Religio Medici.
DR. STEWART was
a pioneer in medical missions as in other
enterprises. Dr. Vanderkemp and Dr. Livingstone had preceded him in South
Africa, but neither of them had done much for medical missions. Dr.
Daiziel, of the Gordon Memorial Mission, was a thoroughly qualified
medical missionary, and nearly all the missionaries dispensed medicines to
the natives for ordinary ailments. Stewart was the first to found a
hospital, begin the instruction
of native nurses and hospital assistants, and lay the foundation of a
medical school. It is remarkable that before his day so little had been
done for healing in South Africa, although twenty-three of Christs
miracles, two-thirds of the whole, were miracles of healing.
His skill is guaranteed by
his high estimate of medicine as an ally to the Gospel; by the zeal with
which he pursued his medical studies; by the large practice which, during
the first twenty years, he somehow managed to crowd in among many other
strenuous enterprises; and by his reputation, which was probably increased
by the fact that he would receive no fee or reward. The self-respect of
the natives, however, was fostered by charging a small sum for medicines
at the Lovedale dispensary.
His skill found the amplest scope,
for the natives are more liable to sickness than the whites, and they
suffer from many ailments which their doctors cannot cure and ours can.
One of the names for a native doctor means, Something fearful to look
at, and his appearance usually justifies his title. Witch-doctors and
rain-makers used to hold the lives of the people in their hands. The aid
the native needs most is deliverance from the cruel and deep-rooted
superstitions which have caused numberless miseries and still lead to
social persecution. These evils must perish in presence of the most
elementary medical knowledge. The Native Affairs Commissioners say: The
multiplying of District Surgeons and the establishment of Dispensaries and
Hospitals in connection with Magistracies in Native areas, would have a
beneficial effect, not only for the restoration or preservation of health,
but also for weaning the Natives from faith in witch-doctors, diviners, or
soothsayers, or men who profess to have supernatural power or knowledge
whether as medicine men or otherwise. Africas murdered millions supply
the most powerful plea for medical missions.
Dr. Stewarts spirit added
greatly to his success as a physician and a missionary. The mens medica
and the cor medicum were his. He had a very large share of the spirit of
the Great Healer, of whom we often read that He was moved with
compassion, i.e. with a yearning pity which filled the heart, and
sent an answering thrill through the whole body. Stewart had what Sir J.
Y. Simpson earnestly commended to his students, that sympathy which is
one of the most potent agencies of cure, that gentle womanliness of heart
which the sick in depression and pain so often look for, long for, and
profit by. His heart went out at once to any sufferer, black or white,
especially to the aged, the humble, the weak, the lunatic, and
semi-lunatic. His ready sympathy overflowed even upon animals. His poorest
patients saw him at his very best, and were deeply impressed by some
qualities which were not suspected by those who saw him in his other
capacities. Dr. Laws writes: For the sick and the suffering his sympathy
and help were ever ready, and he had the gentlest of hands for the
patients under his care. To watch by a sick-bed along with him for a night
was a lesson to be remembered for life.
His self-sacrificing diligence
and promptness were highly appreciated. During many years he
had the sole medical charge of all the boys and girls in the Institution.
To his ministerial work in Alice he also added that of medical adviser for
the town when there was no resident doctor in the district. The
inhabitants presented him with a sum of money to obtain an oil-painting
of himself. In the address accompanying it, special reference was made to
the extreme kindness always manifested by Dr. Stewart to those who were
sick or in trouble. In the early years, by day and night, he was at the
call of the needy. Once he travelled one hundred and fifty miles over a
rough road to visit a poor black woman. Her life was saved, and the father
afterwards visited him, wished to kiss his feet in token of gratitude, and
offered him two sovereigns. Here are some extracts from the
What a full life was Dr. Stewarts
in the summer of his strength. Oftentimes the dawn of a new day saw him
busy overtaking the work of that which had gone before. He was ever a
strenuous worker, but twenty to thirty years ago, when Loved ale was
shaking itself out to its ampler manhood, he deemed fourteen, sixteen, or
even eighteen hours of incessant toil a common daily task.
He taught in the Institution, he
edited this paper, he had medical charge of the Mission, in addition to
week-day services he preached two sermons every Sabbath, he saw to every
detail of the work, he guided every distinct department, he examined the
classes, he superintended the field companies; he was here, there, and
everywhere, tireless, commanding, inspiring.
At a period when medical aid was
difficult to obtain in the district, many were the calls made on Dr.
Stewarts time and strength. Yet he gave both ungrudgingly, and no home
was too far, no road too difficult, no night too stormy, to hinder the
great missionary in his errands of mercy. In these days he was the beloved
physician in many a home.
Here are some testimonials from his
grateful patients and their friends. He had an almost unerring instinct
in detecting the seat of disease.
He himself saw to the well-being and
nourishment of his patients, often bringing them the food they needed to
restore them to health.
Of one case it is told: He camesaw
it to be a very bad case. He got a nurse to be there during the night. We
found him hatless at the door one night, with a saucepan in one hand and
his slippers in the other, and thus he entered the sick - room. With much
care and attention he was able to master the case and to get the patient
on her feet again.
It seemed the most natural thing
that he should be told when sickness occurred. If it seemed urgent, his
response was immediate. And he was there more as a friend than as a
doctor. How often has his presence in the sick-room lightened arid lifted
the load of anxiety that weighed heavy on troubled hearts. I can remember
the case of a child seriously ill with croup. The anxious parents sent for
Dr. Stewart. He stayed the whole night, applying the necessary remedies
until the immediate danger was over. . . . Many a poor old native will
miss the new warm blanket when the cold weather sets in, and many an
invalid will miss the jug of rich soup or other "comfort" which was sure
to be sent, or more often carried by his own hand. . . . He had infinite
patience and consummate tact. He could be as tender as a woman with the
sick, the ignorant, the wayward, but wrong ever roused in him a fierce and
A distinct mental picture of him
still remains that of his stealing into a house one evening, boots in one
hand and a pan containing soup in the other. He had saved two lives in
that house that day, and in this style, so like the man, he paid his
The Medical College.An up-to-date Hospital at Lovedale was
one of Stewarts many ambitions. In the nineties there were only five
legally qualified medical missionaries south of the Zambesi. Though that
district was considerably larger than British India, it had no properly
equipped mission hospital where natives could be trained to help their own
people. Even the Christian natives were afraid to go near the sick, and
invalids were often left to die without medicine or nursing, ora still
sadder fatewere handed over to the witch-doctor.
Stewarts first efforts to remedy
this defect were unsuccessful. But in 1895, by the generous aid of Mr. D.
A. Hunter, a large sum was collected, and the Colonial Government aided on
the pound-for-pound system. The beautiful Victoria Hospital was opened in
1898, and additions have since been made to it. Its dual aim is to relieve
the sick and to train native young men as hospital assistants and native
young women as nurses. Dr. James MCash and Miss Wallace took charge of
the hospital as unsalaried agents. The prejudices and distrust of the
natives were gradually overcome, and last year there were about five
thousand attendances at the hospital, and patients are now coming to it
from great distances.
Two native nurses have completed
their three years course, and one of them is in charge of a Mines
hospital, and has a salary of £12 a month, with board and quarters. Three
young men have been fully qualified as hospital assistants, and have found
But this is only the beginning. instead of twos and
threes, Mr. Hunter writes, we should be turning out these trained
natives in scores and hundreds if the great need of their vast land is to
The present superintendent of the hospital is Dr. Neil
Macvicar, an ideal medical missionary.
Dr. Stewart even dared to dream that Lovedale in the
fulness of time might become a Medical College where the sons and
daughters of Ethiopia might receive a complete medical education, and that
this hospital might do for it what the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh does
for the University. This bold dream of his will probably be realised as
his other dreams have been. When the native M.D. has a degree conferred by
a Native University, some may remember that James Stewart was the first on
the mountain-top to hail and herald the Dawn on the southern side of the
Dark Continent. Meanwhile this hospital is giving a death-blow to the
miserable superstitions which sometimes cleave to those who have accepted
Jesus Christ as their Great Physician. The lancet has proved mightier than
the sword in opening closed doors among heathen nations, and it is far
mightier than the sword in destroying some of the worst foes to human
The Victoria Hospital, with its clinical
Christianity, is the parable of the Good Samaritan done in stone, a
concrete gospel which reveals love by deeds. In contrast with their
squalid huts, the sweetness and cleanness of this beautiful building, its
pervading atmosphere of Christian love in a loveless land, its power to
bless and its abundance, may well seem to them scarcely to belong to this
poor world. It is an impressive monument to the Great Physician and a
memorial of the Christian faith. The medical missionary effectually
illustrates Christs mission by reviving it. Among rude heathens our
religion is never so intelligible or winsome as when presented in such
deeds of ministering love. It is the only exhibition of our holy religion
which some of them can comprehend. In the ceiling of one of Romes chapels
is a splendid painting which cannot be seen plainly at such a height, but
a mirror has been placed on the table under it, and visitors see the whole
picture in the glass. In the Mission Hospital the dullest may thus gain a
true vision of the Great Healer, as He is mirrored in the lives of His
under-healers. The Lovedale Bethesda thus becomes a fifth Gospel and an
appendix to the Acts of the Apostles.
A member of his staff writes:
We of Lovedale in the past know what Dr. Stewart was in the
sickroom. Skilful, gentle, and sympathetic to a degree, his presence
inspired confidence, and his words gave wonderful comfort. Memory carries
one back to days of sickness and bereavement in the house. I can see him
now, sitting with the little suffering one in his arms, watching every
symptom and change, and with us he watched until he laid the little one on
the bed, and said, "Your child is with Jesus."
The warm words of the Rev. D. Doig Young, one of
Stewarts colleagues and patients, are worth recording
: Dr. Stewart as an Angel of
Cornfort.That Dr. Stewart was a strong man, a keen debater, and knew
how to demolish an opponent, was well known. Many thought him hard,
dictatorial, and void of consideration for the feelings of others. They
saw a mighty man, consumed with jealousy for his beloved Lovedale, and
determined that nothing, no man even, should stand in the way of what he
conceived to be necessary for the truest progress of that noble
But it was given to some to meet with another Dr.
Stewart, the gentle, Christian physician. When one was ill or in trouble,
then Dr. Stewart was manifested as a true Angel of Comfort. Sometimes he
would have the invalid taken to his house to be not only nursed and
doctored, but given those hundred-and-one little attentions that are so
comforting to the sick one. Though he was an extremely busy man, he would
nevertheless find time to sit by the bedside, conversing with and even
reading to the patient in that low, gentle, attractive voice, that was
When one of the staff was seized with brain fever and
pneumonia, though the Alice medical doctor was in charge of the case, Dr.
Stewart would at all hours of the night, as well as of the day, walk down
the avenue and enter the house so silently that the one watching by the
bedside would only become aware of his presence by hearing a gentle voice
asking, "How is he now?" One at that time wondered when he himself found
his much-needed rest. Wherever there was sickness or trouble in any house
in Lovedale, one was always sure to find Dr. Stewart a constant visitor
there, doing all he could to give relief and comfort. He had a very large,
sympathetic heart, and was spoken of as the "Angel of Comfort." In all
such deeds of kindness, he was backed by her who was a true helpmeet. She
would send hour after hour some delicacy to tempt the appetite and keep up
the strength of the invalid.
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