ebooks

Mona Maclean, Medical Student
by Graham Travers
(Margaret Todd)

“Graham Travers” was the pseudonym of Margaret Georgina Todd (1859–1918). She continued using the pseudonym even after everyone knew her real name. Mona Maclean was her first book, published in 1892–93.

Fun fact: Margaret Todd, M.D., is generally credited with coining the word “isotope”. She attended the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women (est. 1886) as part of its first enrolled class, taking eight years to graduate—mainly because she kept taking time off to write novels.

The fictional Mona Maclean seems to be studying at the London School of Medicine for Women, dating back to 1874—and founded, like the Edinburgh school, by Sophia Jex-Blake. But even this date pales by comparison with the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (est. 1850). And they can all bow their heads in shame before French-born obstetrician Marie Durocher, who began her practice in Brazil in 1834. (Don’t be fooled by the articles pointing to Germany’s Dorothea Erxleben, who began practice in 1754. Germany’s second woman doctor had to wait a century and a half.)

The recurring theme of Mona Maclean, Medical Student is that women doctors are a necessary evil. Some women have to be doctors—unwomanly and “brutal­izing” though it may be—so that all women can have doctors. Mona’s uncle sums it up:

I know they’re a necessary evil. I should like to see a man doctor look at my daughter, except for a sore throat or a cut finger! I have always upheld the principle, in spite of the sacrifice involved; but how could I tell that any of my own womankind would take it up?

The Book

Sneak a look at the final page. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Back? Now that we know there is a happy ending in store, let’s see how the book gets there.

In spite of the title, three-quarters of the book takes place while Mona Maclean is taking time off from medical school after failing her exams for a second time. There is never a thought of giving up and dropping out; she just needs a breather.

You can picture Mona any way you like. Her mirror reflects a “white, strong, sensitive face”; later we are told that in the right light she is ”almost handsome”; more than halfway through the book we learn that she has wavy brown hair. Take it from there.

And then there is Mona’s cousin Rachel, who writes:

“. . . you will be of the greatest use to me. Both in the house and in the shop——”

“Good God!” said Mona; and letting the letter fall, she buried her face in her hands.

If you have trouble with this aspect of Mona’s character, try mentally substituting that one relative or friend of yours whose idea of entertainment is activity-you-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-even-talking-about-let-alone-participating-in. There’s always something.

Language

If you didn’t already know that the author was Scottish, you will soon figure it out. Here’s the basic vocabulary you will need for Mona Maclean. Some of these words are also found in northern England, but you’re not likely to meet them south of Yorkshire.

Formalities

This etext is based on the single-volume 1900 edition. I’ve separated it into three pieces to show the original volume divisions. The volume breaks don’t correspond to significant breaks in the narrative; this is a three-volume novel, not a trilogy.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.

The word “wellnigh” is consistently written without hyphen. The abbreviation “matric.” may or may not have a final . (period, full stop). The place name “St Rules” has no apostrophe.

Punch Review

Mona Maclean, Medical Student made its way into the “Bookings” column of Punch in December 1892.

“The Baron” is the book critic’s name for himself. The phrase “Novel with a Purpose” shows up a lot in Punch reviews, and is never a good thing. Don’t look for the end of the introductory quotation (“he tells me”); the writer seems to have forgotten about it.

Now for the surprising part. Once you get past the sarcastic quotation marks—implying that if the critic doesn’t know what a “spheno-maxillary fossa” is, it can’t possibly be a real thing—you’ll find that the reviewer actually liked the book.

My Baronite has been reading Mona Maclean, Medical Student, (Blackwood.) “It is,” he tells me, “a Novel with a purpose—no recom­mendation for a novel, more especially when the purpose selected is that of demonstrating the indispensability of women-doctors. Happily Graham Travers, as the author (being evidently a woman) calls herself, is lured from her fell design. There is a chapter or two of talk among the girls in the dissecting-room and the chemical laboratory, with much about the “spheno-maxillary fossa,” the “dorsalis pedis,” and the general whereabouts of “Scarpa’s triangle.” But these can be skipped, and the reader may get into the company of Mona Maclean when she is less erudite, and more womanly. When not dissecting the “plantar arch,” Mona is a bright, fearless, clever girl, with a breezy manner, refreshing to all admitted to her company. The episode of her shopkeeping experience is admirably told, and affords the author abundant and varied oppor­tunity of exercising her gift of drawing character. Mona Maclean is, apparently, a first effort at novel-writing. The workmanship improves up to the end of the third volume; and Miss Travers’ next book will be better still.

My Pretty Maid

To refresh your memory, the nursery rhyme goes:

“Where are you going, my pretty maid?”

“I’m going a-milking, sir,” she said.

“May I go with you, my pretty maid?”

“You’re kindly welcome, sir,” she said.

“What is your father, my pretty maid?”

“My father’s a farmer, sir,” she said.

“Say, will you marry me, my pretty maid?”

“Yes, if you please, kind sir,” she said.

“What is your fortune, my pretty maid?”

“My face is my fortune, sir,” she said.

“Then I can’t marry you, my pretty maid!”

“Nobody asked you, sir,” she said.

The parodies started cropping up around 1879. I don’t know if there was a single locus classicus. According to Volume 4 of Parodies of the Works of English & American Authors:

Miss Emily Faithful’s paper was responsible for the following:—We saw a Christmas card the other day which had been sent to a young lady at a school of design. It represented a grotesque figure at a lecturer’s desk, and underneath were these lines:

“Where are you going to, my pretty maid?”

“I’m going to lecture, sir,” she said.

“And what is the subject, my pretty maid?”

“Total extinction of man,” she said.

“Then nobody’ll marry you, my pretty maid.”

“Advanced women don’t marry, good sir,” she said.

March 1, 1879.

“Miss Emily Faithful’s paper” is The Victoria Magazine, a feminist monthly edited by Emily Faithfull. So “responsible for” almost certainly doesn’t mean the poem actually appeared in Victoria—and definitely not in the March 1879 issue.

Something similar is quoted in Barnard Beginnings (1935, but here referring to events in 1885):

“Where are you going, my pretty maid?”

“I’m going to lecture, sir,” she said.

“May I come with you, my pretty maid?”

“You won’t understand it, sir,” she said.

“What is the subject, my pretty maid?”

“The final extinction of man,” she said.

“Then you won’t marry, my pretty maid?”

“Superior girls never marry, sir,” she said.

A little further afield, The Animal’s Defender and Zoophilist for September 1905 retains the “nobody asked you” ending:

“Where are you going to, my pretty maid?”

“I'm going to lecture, sir,” she said.

“What is your subject, my pretty maid?”

“The brain of the dog, sir,” she said.

“And do you experiment, my pretty maid?”

“I hold a licence to do so,” she said.

“Then I won’t marry you, my pretty maid.”

“Nobody asked you, sir,” she said.

MONA MACLEAN

ii

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

WINDYHAUGH. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo, 6s.

FELLOW TRAVELLERS. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo, 6s.

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS,
EDINBURGH AND LONDON.

iii

MONA MACLEAN

MEDICAL STUDENT

A NOVEL

BY

GRAHAM TRAVERS
(MARGARET TODD, M.D.)

 

FIFTEENTH AND CHEAPER EDITION

 

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCC

All Rights reserved

v

CONTENTS.

CHAP. PAGE
I. IN THE GARDEN, 1
II. THE LISTS, 7
III. “ADOLESCENT INSANITY,” 9
IV. SIR DOUGLAS, 14
V. “AN AGATE KNIFE-EDGE,” 26
VI. THE NÆRODAL, 30
VII. A SON OF ANAK, 40
VIII. BONS CAMARADES, 50
IX. DORIS, 67
X. BORROWNESS, 81
XI. THE SHOP, 89
XII. CASTLE MACLEAN, 98
XIII. THE CHAPEL, 108
XIV. REACTION, 114
XV. THE BOTANISTS, 121
XVI. “JOHN HOGG’S MACHINE,” 126
XVII. AUNTIE BELL, 133
XVIII. A SILHOUETTE, 137
XIX. “LEAVES OF GRASS,” 143
XX. ST RULES, 156
XXI. THE FLYING SCOTCHMAN, 162
XXII. DR ALICE BATESON, 175
XXIII. A RENCONTRE, 181
XXIV. A CLINICAL REPORT, 192
XXV. A VOICE IN THE FOG, 197
XXVI. A CHAT BY THE FIRE, 204
XXVII. A NEOPHYTE, 209
vi XXVIII. THE COLONEL’S YARN, 221
XXIX. “YONDER SHINING LIGHT,” 232
XXX. MR STUART’S TROUBLES, 238
XXXI. STRADIVARIUS, 244
XXXII. CHUMS, 255
XXXIII. CARBOLIC! 259
XXXIV. PALM-TREES AND PINES, 265
XXXV. WEEPING AND LAUGHTER, 275
XXXVI. NORTHERN MISTS, 284
XXXVII. THE ALGÆ AND FUNGI, 290
XXXVIII. THE BAZAAR, 298
XXXIX. THE BALL, 308
XL. A LOCUM TENENS, 318
XLI. A SINGED BUTTERFLY, 326
XLII. QUESTIONINGS, 333
XLIII. “MITHER!” 337
XLIV. A CRIMSON STREAK, 342
XLV. AN UNBELIEVER, 346
XLVI. FAREWELL TO BORROWNESS, 354
XLVII. THE DISSECTING-ROOM, 364
XLVIII. CONFIDENCES, 378
XLIX. THE INTERMEDIATE, 383
L. SUCCESS OR FAILURE? 389
LI. ANOTHER CHAT BY THE FIRE, 399
LII. OLD FRIENDS, 407
LIII. WAITING, 415
LIV. PRESENTATION DAY, 421
LV. LUCY TO THE RESCUE, 425
LVI. A LOST CHANCE, 431
LVII. HAVING IT OUT, 436
LVIII. “LOVE MAY GO HANG!” 447
LIX. AT LAST! 453
LX. ON THE RIVER, 458
LXI. A FIN-DE-SIECLE COURTSHIP, 461
LXII. IN ARCADIA, 467
LXIII. “VARIUM ET MUTABILE,” 471
LXIV. PARTNERS, 473