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John was directed, by who we do not know, to accompany his older brother Rufus to Spain. Rufus was to study medicine in the largest hospital in Europe which was located in Cadiz.

The Old Cadiz Hospital; Circa 1700's

Young John Bessac’s job was to observe the general techniques of surgery and learn the basic treatment of diseases.

While Rufus was studying surgery and medicine John was involving himself with the high society found in Cadiz. He also found time to study chemistry and read dissertations on medicine. The brothers of his religious organization in France had suggested that he obtain and read a copy of Don Quixotte, which he did.

Apparently John Bessac had been reading Alain Rene Le Sage’s “Gil Blas and Dr. Sangrado.”  Whenever he spoke of reading the dissertations on medicine he would laugh. He said he would prefer the benefits of Dr. Sangrado’s invariable “bleeding and potations of warm water” over some of the cures found in those dissertations.

Alain Rene Le Sage courtesy of Wikipedia

An Explanation of Dr. Sangrado

John Bessac had been in Cadiz less than a year when his brother Rufus suddenly died. He had contracted a contagious disease while caring for patients in the hospital. John, at about the same time period, had severely burned his hands and face in a laboratory experiment. A young lad had accidentally broken a large bulbous glass vessel full of spirits which caught fire from a nearby alcohol lamp. John Bessac had saved the young man’s life.

John, with bandaged hands wrote a letter to his mother explaining Rufus’ death and his own misfortune in the lab. With that done he buried himself in the study of surgery. This seemed to give him some relief from the loss of his brother.

He continued with his studies for some time before receiving a response from his mother. She begged him to leave the hospital before he, too, would come down with a contagious malady. The hospital was always over crowded with patients having all sorts of strange illnesses. John, after some thought, decided to pack his belongings and head home. He bid his friends in Cadiz goodbye and arrived in Bordeaux two weeks later.

Cadiz Waterfront

 John would have arrived sooner but had, by chance, met his old friend Barte in Oporto. They spent a week there before heading for Bordeaux. Upon arriving at Bordeaux they sent their luggage on to Cahors and walked the remainder of the way home.

John was relieved to finally be at home with his mother, father and brothers.