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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The pleasurable unknown

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 30 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a997
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Having a slight weakness for orotundity, I like nothing more than a phrase that I can linger over and that echoes in my brain like thunder rolling over hills. One of my favourites has ever been “Mute of malice or mute by visitation of God?”—an important, if somewhat anachronistically worded, question on which I had sometimes to decide when an accused person refused to plead.

    I was put in mind of this phrase by the coroner’s verdict on the death of Dr Quinn in M R James’s story “The Two Doctors.” Dr Quinn died by “the visitation of God,” but really it was his rival in medical practice …

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