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Biographical entry Sheppard, Charles Edward (1856 - 1891)

MRCS July 31st 1877; FRCS June 9th 1881; LRCP Lond 1878; LSA 1879; MSA 1880; MB Lond (Hons) 1879; MD (Gold Medal) 1881; BSc (Hons) 1880.

30 June 1891


In 1873 gained the Exhibition in Zoology at the University of London Preliminary Scientific Examination, and then entered St Thomas's Hospital, where his student career was most brilliant. He carried off prize after prize, and at the end of his fourth year was awarded the Treasurer's Gold Medal, and next year the Solly Medal and Prize. He filled all the house appointments and was appointed Resident Assistant Physician and Medical Registrar. The two appointments, now separ¬ated, involved too great a strain on a man as conscientious as Charles Sheppard. He kept his register with meticulous neatness, did his duties to the full, overtaxed himself, and had to retire from professional work. The death of his mother told very severely on his sensitive spirit, and he remained outside the medical world for several years, during which he employed himself in literary pursuits.

Returning to work, he spent a year or two in active clinical duties at St Thomas's, the Children's Hospital in Great Ormond Street, where he was Clinical Assistant, and the Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, Blackfriars. He then turned his whole attention to anaesthetics, in which he had always taken an interest. He soon obtained several hospital appointments, and, when he died in early life, was Anaesthetist at Guy's Hospital Dental School, the Middlesex Hospital (second chloroformist), the National Orthopaedic Hospital, the Victoria Hospital for Children, and the St. Thomas's Hospital Dental Department. He became greatly in request during the two years of his practice as an anaesthetist, and was building up a leading position when he died suddenly on June 30th, 1891. His address was 13 Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square.

He was constantly busy in devising improvements in methods of administer¬ing anaesthetics and in apparatus, but he published little on the subject save a few papers in the medical journals, of which one, on "The Administration of Ether in Operations requiring the Lateral or the Prone Position", appeared with illustrations in the British Medical Journal (1891, ii, 68) soon after his death. His only other paper of importance was the Solly Medal Prize Essay, published in the St Thomas's Hospital Reports (1878, viii, 411).

"He was an accomplished draughtsman, as the two plates published with his essay testify. But brilliant as Charles Sheppard was in his profession, he had the most surprising all-round knowledge. He seemed to know everything. It was no ordinary superficial knowledge, but one extending to the most abstruse and technical details. It would have occasioned no surprise to be told that he could read Chinese, or decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics. His mind was a complete encyclopedia. His knowledge of literature was wide. He was a great book collector, and probably knew as much about rare books as many professed bibliophiles. During the time when he had given up professional work he made a complete glossary to Burns, and for this purpose he studied very thoroughly the early Scottish poetry. His wonderful versatility was, however, nowhere more apparent than in music. Few professional pianists could excel him in brilliancy of execution, in lightness of touch, or in depth of feeling. Of late he frequently played at private concerts, but he was always at his best when he had only a friend or two to listen to him. His impromptus were then sometimes marvellous. His fantasias on popular airs will always live in the memory of those who heard them. How many instruments (including the bagpipes) he could play probably no one but himself knew.

"He was not satisfied with being able to play on instruments, but he learnt the principles of their construction. He built an organ at one time entirely with his own hands. No evening passed for him without music, and generally an hour after dinner was devoted to it. Chopin was probably his favourite com¬poser, and his interpretation of his works was wonderfully sympathetic and original. He had a most thorough knowledge of harmony, counterpoint and composition, and it was surprising how quick he was to detect the smallest error in printed scores. He often used to say that his musical talent was not to him an unmixed good. It made the discords of the world more jarring and more obtrusive, and increased his natural sensibility."

The Royal College of Surgeons of England