Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike

Home » Pike: On This Day » 4. April 1807 » April 04, 1807 Hospital

April 04, 1807 Hospital

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4th April, Saturday. Visited the hospital where were two officers, who were fine looking men, and I was informed had been the gayest young men of the province, who were mouldering away by disease, and there was not a physician in his majesty’s hospitals who was able to cure them; but after repeated attempts had given them up to perish. This shews the deplorable state of the medical science in the provinces. I endeavored to get [Dr.] Robinson to undertake the cure of these poor fellows, but the jealousy and envy of the Spanish doctors made it impracticable.

This is one of many opportunities Pike takes to describe the shabby conditions of colonial Mexico. He will often laud impressive individuals he meets, but the system, in his eyes, is clearly corrupt. Keep in mind while reading this and other passages from upcoming days that Pike is writing in his journal while he is in Chihuahua, but he will not publish the journal until three years after he returns, at a time when he will be trying to burnish his nationalist credentials to win honor and military promotions. Criticizing the Spanish colonial regime is not a bad way to win the approval of his largely anti-Spanish and often anti-Catholic English and American audience. While they’re is no evidence to doubt the accuracy of this particular description, we should be suspicious of the overall picture of Spanish degeneracy that Pike’s selection of incidents collectively portrays.

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