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History of Chinese Medicine: being a Chronicle of Medical Happenings in China from Ancient Times to the Present Period

Nature volume 131, pages 527529 (15 April 1933) | Download Citation



TO most people in Great Britain the whole story of Chinese medicine is contained in a legend and an anecdote. The legend is to the effect that, in China, a doctor is only paid for keeping his patients well, and never for attending and curing them when ill—a reflection, probably, on the old saying from the Chinese classics that “The sage does not treat those who are ill, but those who are well”. The anecdote is the well-known story of the sick man who went out to seek a Chinese doctor with the fewest lanterns outside his door, it being alleged that one such lantern must be hung up for every patient who had died at the doctor's hands, and that, having at length discovered a physician with but one lantern to his discredit, he found to his chagrin that the doctor had previously attended but one patient.

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