Eminent New York physician Dr Valentine Mott believed that "Pain is only evil". Yet numerous remedies had been tried in vain to alleviate the agonies of surgery. So older heads in the medical profession were sceptical that the latest novelty - and from a lowly dentist to boot - would prove any different.
Dr Mott soon overcame his early scepticism about the possibility of painless surgery. By 1864, writing in Pain and Anesthetics, Dr Mott felt able to state that: "Anæsthetics, when properly used, are perfectly safe". This was overstating the case; but surgery had indeed been revolutionised.