BELL, ANDREW, D.D. AND
founder of the Madras system of education, was born at St. Andrews in 1753,
and was educated in the university there. Some part of his early life was
spent in America. It is not known when he entered into holy orders; but in
1789 he went to India as chaplain to the Hon. East India Company at
Fort-George, and minister of St. Mary’s at Madras. Whilst in this capacity
he was led by circumstances to the formation of a new and improved system of
education, the advantages of which were early acknowledged. Having
undertaken the superintendence of the Military Male Orphan Asylum, which had
been instituted by the Company at that station, he introduced the plan of
mutual tuition by the scholars themselves, and it is highly honourable to
his character that he declined to receive the remuneration of 1,200 pagodas
(£480) allowed by the Company as the salary of the superintendent; the
institution being supported chiefly by voluntary subscriptions. It was while
engaged in this pleasing duty, that he invented that excellent plan of
instruction which is now known by the name of the Madras System of
elementary education. He returned to England in 1797, on account of his
health. On leaving India, the directors of the asylum passed a resolution
for providing him a free passage home, declaring, at the same time, that,
“under the wise and judicious regulations which he had established, the
institution had been brought to a degree of perfection and promising
utility, far exceeding what the most sanguine hopes could have suggested at
the time of its establishment; and that he was entitled to their fullest
approbation for his zealous and disinterested conduct.” Soon after his
arrival in England, he published a pamphlet, entitled ‘An Experiment in
Education, made at the Male Asylum of Madras; suggesting a System by which a
School or Family may teach itself, under the superintendence of the Master
or Parent.’ In 1798 his system was adopted in St. Botolph’s Aldgate, and in
the Kendal Schools of Industry. The system, indeed, has been found to work
so well in practice, that it has since been adopted in every civilized
nation in the world. In Great Britain alone there were, in 1833, “ten
thousand schools, without any legislative assistance, wherein six hundred
thousand children were educated by voluntary aid and charity;” and the
number has been every year since then on the increase. The most gratifying
testimonials were transmitted to Dr. Bell, in proof of the excellence of his
plan. These he had the satisfaction of receiving not only from the highest
quarters in this country, but from several governments and learned bodies
throughout Eurpoe, Asia, and America. A vast improvement in the religious
and moral condition of the lower classes is found to take place wherever his
system is adopted; and the labours of this illustrious individual well
entitle him to be considered one of the greatest benefactors of mankind. Mr.
Lancaster’s plan was not propounded till the year 1803, and in his early
publications he not only admitted the priority of Dr. Bell’s system, but
acknowledged his obligations to him for some improvements which he had
grafted on his own; although he afterwards endeavoured to claim the whole
merit of the invention to himself. The original discovery, however, is now
universally allowed to belong to Dr. Bell, “who,” in Lancaster’s own words,
“so nobly gave up his time and liberal salary, that he might perfect that
institution, (The Male Asylum at Madras,) which flourished greatly under his
fostering care.” The evening of Dr. Bell’s pious and useful life was passed
at Cheltenham, where his benevolence and many virtues gained him the
affection and respect of all classes of the community. He had amassed a
large fortune, which, with the generous feelings which ever actuated him, he
bequeathed for educational purposes to several institutions in Scotland. To
his native city of St. Andrews he left £10,000, besides a sum of £50,000 for
the building and endowment of a new college there. Altogether he distributed
no less a sum than £120,000 among various national institutions and public
charities. The mastership of Sherborn Hospital, Durham, was conferred on him
by Bishop Barrington. He was also a fellow of the Asiatic Society, and of
the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1819 he received a Prebendal Stall at
Westminster. Among the valuable works which, in his later years, he
published on the system of education, were ‘The Elements of Tuition;’ ‘The
English School;’ and ‘Mutual Tuition and Moral Discipline, or a manual of
Instructions for conducting schools through the agency of the scholars
themselves, for the use of Schools and Families, With an Introductory Essay
on the Object and Importance of the Madras system of Education, a brief
Exposition of the Principles on which it is founded; and an historical
sketch of its Rise, Progress, and Results.’ The seventh edition of the
latter work appeared in 1823. These will ever occupy a distinguished place
in the educational department of our national literature. Dr. Bell died at
Lindsay cottage, Cheltenham, January 27, 1832, and was buried in Westminster
Abbey. The committee of the National Society for the education of the poor
passed the following resolution at its first meeting after his decease:
“That the committee having learnt that it has pleased Almighty God to remove
from this present life the Rev. Dr. Bell, the superintendent of the
Society’s schools, deem it incumbent upon them to pay a public mark of
respect to the memory of a man who may justly be regarded as the founder of
a system of education, which, under the divine blessing, has been productive
of incalculable benefits to this church and nation; and that, as it is
understood that his remains are to be interred in Westminster Abbey, the
secretary be directed to ascertain the day fixed for his interment, and
communicate the same to the committee for the information of such members as
may find it convenient to attend.” In the funeral procession were the
carriages of the archbishop of Canterbury, and of several bishops and
persons of distinction.
The following is a
list of Dr. Bell’s works:
A Sermon on the
Education of the Poor on an improved system. 1807, 8vo.
An Experiment in
Education, made at the Male Asylum of Madras; suggesting a system by which a
school or family may teach itself, under the superintendence of the Master
or Parent. London, 1797, 8vo.
An Analysis of the
Experiment in Education made at Egmore, near Madras, suggesting a scheme for
the better administration of the poor laws, by converting Schools for the
lower orders of youth into Schools of Industry. Lond. 1797, 8vo. 3d edit.
conducting Schools on the Madras System. Lond. 1799, 12mo. 3d. edit. 1812,
The Madras School;
or Elements of Tuition, comprising an Analysis of an Experiment in
Education, made at the Male Asylum, Madras, with its Facts, Proofs, and
Illustrations. Lond. 1808, 8vo.
Education; or, a short account of the Efforts which have been made to
educate the Children of the Poor, according to the new System of Education
invented by Dr. Bell; including an account of the recent establishment of
the National Society, with a letter on the subject of National Education.
or Elements of Tuition. Part iii. 1815, 8vo.
Brief Manual of
Mutual Instruction and Discipline.
Mutual Tuition and
Moral Discipline. 7th edition, 1823.
an eminent surgeon,
the son of a respectable farmer, was born at Dumfries in 1749. His father,
Mr. George Bell, had in his youth been engaged in the Levant trade; but
having met with serious losses, and been made prisoner by the Spaniards, on
his return to Scotland, he took a farm in Eskdale, belonging to the duke of
Buccleuch, where he lived to an advanced age. Benjamin received the
rudiments of his education at the grammar school of his native town, the
rector of which was Dr. George Chapman, author of an esteemed work on
education, who paid great attention to the classical instruction of his
scholars. The estate of Blackett House in Dumfries-shire, which for several
centuries had belonged to his progenitors, having devolved on him on the
death of his grandfather, he gave a remarkable instance of disinterested
generosity by disposing of it, and applying the sum received for it in
educating himself and the younger branches of the family – fourteen in
number. After serving his apprenticeship to Mr. Hill, surgeon and apothecary
in Dumfries, in 1766 he proceeded to Edinburgh, and entered upon his medical
studies. In due time he passed the usual examinations at Surgeons’ Hall, and
was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. In 1770
he visited Paris and London, remaining in each capital for several months,
in order to improve himself in surgery. In 1772 he returned to Edinburgh,
and immediately commenced his professional duties. Both as a skillful
operator and consulting surgeon, his reputation soon rose very high, and in
a short time he was established in an extensive practice. In 1778 he
published the first volume of his System of Surgery. The remaining volumes
appeared at intervals, until the whole work was completed in six volumes
8vo, in 1788. For this work there was an extensive demand, and it reached to
seven editions, the last of which was much improved, and had an additional
volume. In 1793 he published a treatise on Gonorrhoea, and in the year
following a ‘Treatise on Hydrocele,’ but these were never very popular. He
died April 4, 1806. A portrait of him, from a painting by Sir Henry Raeburn,
engraved by Beugo, appeared in the Scots Magazine for 1801. The subjoined is
married, in 1776, the daughter of Dr. Robert Hamilton, professor of divinity
in the university of Edinburgh, by whom he had a large family. Mr. Robert
Bell, advocate, procurator for the Church of Scotland, was his second son.
following is a list of Dr. Bell’s works:
Treatise on the Theory and Management of Ulcers, with a Dissertation on
White Swellings of the Joints, and an Essay on the Surgical treatment of
Inflammation and its consequences. Edin. 1778, 8vo. 3d edit. 1784, much
System of Surgery. Edin. 1783, vol. i., 8vo. Vols. ii. and iii. 1784. Vol.
iv. 1785, 8vo. Vol. v. 1787, 6 vols. 8vo. Another edition, 1796, 7 vols.
Treatise on the Gonorrhoea Virulenta, and Lues Venerea. Edin. 1793, 2 vols.
Treatise on the Hydrocele, or Sarcocele, or Cancer, and other Diseases of
the Testes. Edin. 1794, 8vo.
Three Essays; on Taxation of Income; on the National Debt; the Public Funds,
&c. Edin. 1799, 8vo.
Essays on agriculture, with a plan for the speedy and general improvement of
Land in Great Britain. Edin. 1802, 8vo.
of Epilepsy considerably relived by Flowers of Zinc. Med. Com. 1. p. 204.
in which some of the Vertebrae were found dissolved. Ib. iii. p. 82. 1775.
of Antermony, a celebrated traveller, the son of Patrick Bell, who inherited
that estate from an honourable line of ancestors, and of Anabel Stirling,
daughter of Mungo Stirling of Craigbarnet, was born in the parish of Campsie,
Stirlingshire, (where his paternal estate was situated,) in 1691. He
received an excellent education, and having chosen the medical profession,
he passed physician in the twenty-third year of his age. He soon after
resolved to travel. Of his motives for doing so he has himself informed us,
in the preface to his interesting book of travels, in which he says, “In my
youth I had a strong desire of seeing foreign parts, to satisfy which
inclination, after having obtained, from some persons of worth,
recommendatory letters to Dr. Areskine, chief physician and privy counsellor
to the Czar Peter the First, I embarked at London in the month of July 1714,
on board the Prosperity of Ramsgate, Captain Emerson, for St. Petersburg.”
On Bell’s arrival he was introduced to Peter the Great, who at that very
time was preparing an embassy to Persia; and Dr. Areskine having recommended
him, as one skilled in surgery and physic, to Artemy Petrovich Valensky, the
person chosen to go to the Persian court as Russian ambassador, he was
immediately engaged as surgeon and physician to the expedition. On the 15th
July 1715 the embassy left St. Petersburg. “That city,” he says, “Which has
since grown so considerable, was then in its infancy, having been founded
only ten or eleven years before.” They proceeded to Moscow, and thence to
Cazan, where the severity of the weather compelled them to remain till June
4, 1716. They next sailed down the Wolga to Astracan, and then went by the
Caspian sea to Derbent, and proceeded by Taurus and Saba to Ispahan; where
they arrived March 13, 1717. After remaining in that city about six months,
they set out on their return to St. Petersburg, which they reached December
30, 1718. In these long journeys Bell found ample gratification for his
“strong desire of seeing foreign parts,” as well as for his spirit of
adventure; and, accordingly, the account which he published of the places he
visited, and the scenes he passed through, is full of interest. At the close
of it he informs his readers, that in spite of the Swedish war, in which the
Czar was then engaged, the Russian capital had been so improved and
beautified during his absence, that he scarcely knew it again. On his
arrival he learnt, to his great grief, that his patron, Dr. Areskine, was
dead; but Peter the Great being about to send a grand embassy to China, he
was recommended by Valensky to Leoff Vasilovich Ismayluff, the ambassador
appointed to go to Pekin, who readily engaged his services. They departed
from St. Petersburg, July 14, 1719, and travelled by Moscow, and through
Siberia and the great Tartar deserts, to the celebrated wall of China,
arriving at Pekin “after a tedious journey of sixteen months.” They quitted
the Chinese capital March 2, 1721, and arrived at Moscow January 5, 1722.
His account of this journey, and particularly his description of the
manners, customs and superstitions of the Chinese, is the most interesting
part of his book. Peter the Great having concluded peace with Sweden,
resolved to assist the Shah of Persia against the Afghans, who had invaded
his territories, and seized upon Candahar and other provinces on the
frontiers. In May 1722, Bell, whose services were engaged in this
expedition, accompanied the Czar and his empress with the army to Derbent, a
celebrated pass between the foot of the Caucasus and the Caspian sea. He
returned to St. Petersburg in December 1722. During their march homewards
the Russians were much annoyed by the incessant attacks of the half-savage
mountain tribes; and Peter and his empress were frequently exposed to great
danger on the journey. In his account of this expedition, Bell gives a brief
but excellent description of Tzercassia, or Circassia. Soon after, Mr. Bell
revisited his paternal estate in Scotland, where he resided for some time,
and seems to have returned to St. Petersburg about 1734. In 1737, in
consequence of the war in which Russia was then engaged with Turkey, he was
singled out as the fittest person to go to Constantinople to treat of peace,
the Czar wishing to put an end to hostilities. This mission he undertook at
the desire of Count Osterman, grand chancellor of Russia, and of Mr. Rondeau,
British minister at the Russian court. Quitting St. Petersburg, December 6,
1737, he arrived at Constantinople with only one servant who could speak the
Turkish language. He returned to the Russian capital May 17, 1738. He seems
to have afterwards settled as a merchant at Constantinople, where he
continued for some years. About 1746 he married Mary Peters, a Russian lady,
and in 1747 returned to Scotland. The latter part of his active life was
spend in ease and affluence on his estate. He is described as a warm-hearted
and benevolent person; and such was his sincerity and good faith, that he
obtained from his friends the title of “Honest John Bell.” He died at
Antermony, July 1, 1780, at the age of 89. Although fond of talking about
his journeys and adventures, he does not seem to have had any desire to
publish his travels, till urged to it by one distinguished friend. In his
preface, dated Oct. 1, 1762, he tells us that about four years before,
“spending some days at the house of a right honourable and most honoured
friend,” his travels became the subject of conversation, and he was pressed
to prepare his work for publication, which he diffidently consented to. The
work, under the title of ‘Travels from St. Petersburg in Russia to Various
Parts in Asia,’ 2 vols, 4to, was published by subscription in Glasgow in
1763. A writer in the Quarterly Review for 1817, who styles this work “the
best model perhaps for travel-writing in the English language,” adds in a
note: – “For many years after Mr. Bell returned from his travels, he used to
amuse his friends with accounts of what he had seen, refreshing his
recollection from a simple diary of occurrences and observations. The earl
Granville, then president of the council, on hearing some of his adventures,
prevailed on him to throw his notes together into the form of a narrative,
which, when done, pleased him so much that he sent the manuscript to Dr.
Robertson, with a particular request that he would revise and put it into a
fit state for the press. The literary avocations of the Scottish historian
at that time not allowing him to undertake the task, he recommended Mr.
Barron, a professor in the university of Aberdeen, and on this gentleman
consulting Dr. Robertson as to the style and the book of travels which he
would recommend him to adopt for his guide, the historian replied, ‘Take
Gulliver’s Travels for your model, and you cannot go wrong.’ He did so, and
‘Bell’s Travels’ have all the simplicity of Gulliver, with the advantage
which truth always carries over fiction.” The latter part of this story is
very unlikely. The simplicity of the style is an evidence that the book was
Bell’s own composition. Of Bell’s work there have been various editions; and
a French translation, including a Journal kept by M. de Lange, attaché to
the embassy to Pekin, was published on the continent, where it became very
popular. – M’Crie’s History of Glasgow. – Quarterly Review for 1817.
surgeon and anatomist, the first who, in Scotland, successfully applied the
science of anatomy to practical surgery, was born in Edinburgh, May 12,
1763. His paternal grandfather was minister of Gladsmuir in East Lothian;
and he was the second son of the Rev. William Bell, who, while very young,
was induced to become a member, and afterwards a minister, of the
episcopalian church in Edinburgh. His mother was Miss Morrice, the
grand-daughter of Bishop White. There were eight children of the marriage,
and of these four distinguished themselves in their respective professions,
namely, his eldest brother, Robert Bell, Esq., Advocate, professor of
conveyancing to the Society of Writers to the Signet, author of the Scots
Law Dictionary, and of several other works on the law of Scotland, who died
in 1816; John Bell, the subject of this article; George Joseph Bell, Esq.,
Advocate, professor of the Scots law in the university of Edinburgh,
appointed one of the principal clerks of Session, in 1831, and author of
Commentaries on the Law of Scotland, of whom a notice immediately follows;
and Sir Charles Bell, F.R.S., London, a distinguished anatomist, a memoir of
whom is also subsequently given.
following interesting anecdote is told, to account for John’s being educated
for the medical profession. About a month before his birth, his father, then
59 years old, had submitted to an operation for the cure of stone, and his
gratitude for the relief he had experienced led him to devote to the cause
of medicine, and the benefit of mankind, the talent of the son, born while
he was recovering from that severe malady. John Bell, after receiving his
education at the High School of Edinburgh, became the pupil of the late Mr.
Alexander Wood, surgeon there. He entered on his medical studies with
enthusiasm, and was soon distinguished for his attainments both in midwifery
and chemistry. The Edinburgh university at that period could boast of
possessing some of the most accomplished professors in Europe. Of these Dr.
Black, Dr. Cullen, and the second Dr. Monro, were the most eminent. Bell
studied anatomy under the latter, and it was while attending his classes
that the idea of teaching the application of anatomy to surgery, a branch of
medical instruction which was overlooked by Monro, first suggested itself to
him. Before entering on his professional career, he travelled for some time
in Russia and the north of Europe. On his return he began to lecture on
surgery and anatomy. In 1790 he built a theatre in Surgeons’ Square,
Edinburgh, where he carried on dissections, and laid the foundation of a
museum. This establishment of a separate school on his part was considered
at the time as an encroachment on the rights of the professors. In 1793 he
published the first volume of his ‘Anatomy of the Human Body,’ consisting of
a description of the Bones, Muscles, and Joints. In 1797 appeared the second
volume, containing the Heart and Arteries; and in 1802 the third volume,
containing the Anatomy of the Brain, description of the course of the
Nerves, and the Anatomy of the Eye and Ear. Being in the habit of
introducing into his lectures remarks derogatory to Dr. Monro’s eminence as
a anatomist, as well as of criticising severely Mr. Benjamin Bell’s system
of surgery, a pamphlet was published in 1799, entitled ‘Review of the
Writings of John Bell, Esq. by Jonathan Dawplucker;’ which, under the
pretence of eulogising the first volume of his Anatomy, represented him as a
plagiarist, and vindicated Dr. Monro and Mr. Benjamin Bell from his
unfavourable observations. The author of this pamphlet was supposed to be
some friend of the latter. Mr. John Bell replied by publishing a second
number of the Review, under the same name of Jonathan Dawplucker, addressed
to Mr. Benjamin Bell, in which he retaliated in a similar strain of the
latter’s system of surgery, which from that time quite lost its popularity
with the students. In 1796 he was induced, by the increase of his practice,
to discontinue his lectures, in which his brother Charles had been for some
time united with him; the one taking the surgical and the other the
anatomical department. About this time the dispute as to the right of the
junior members of the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh to perform operations
in the Royal Infirmary, engrossed the medical profession in that city almost
exclusively, and led to much bad feeling among them. By the new system
adopted in the surgical attendance at the Infirmary, principally on the
recommendation of Dr. Gregory, Mr. Bell, whose expertness as an operator was
universally acknowledged, was with his pupils excluded from that
institution. To the memorial given in by Dr. James Gregory to the managers
of the Infirmary on this occasion, he wrote an answer which was published in
1800. He likewise made an appear personally to the board of the Infirmary,
at the same time producing, as evidence of the utility and necessity of his
system of teaching, six folio books filled with surgical drawings and cases.
But his remonstrance proving ineffectual, he brought the question before the
courts of law, whether the managers had the power to exclude him from the
Infirmary, and it was decided against him. In this unfortunate controversy
both Dr. Gregory and Mr. Bell were indefatigable in writing against each
other; the principal work produced by Bell on the subject being ‘Letters on
Professional Character and Manners,’ addressed to Dr. Gregory, and published
at Edinburgh in 1810; which is conceived in a tone of great bitterness and
sarcasm. In 1798 he went to Yarmouth, and passed some weeks among the men
belonging to Lord Duncan’s fleet who had been wounded at Camperdown;
applying himself with his accustomed activity to the cure of the sufferers.
In 1803, when Great Britain was threatened by Buonaparte with invasion, he
made an offer to government for the embodying of a corps of young men to be
instructed in military surgery, and in the duties of the camp and hospital,
with the view of their being of service in defence of the country. The offer
was first accepted, but subsequently declined. He how devoted himself with
increased zeal to his practice, which was very extensive, his works and his
high character as an operator and consulting surgeon having made his name
celebrated not only in Great Britain, but on the continent. In 1805 he
married the daughter of Dr. Congalton, a retired physician of Edinburgh, but
had no family. Early in 1816 he was thrown from his horse, and seems never
to have entirely recovered from the effects of this accident. His
constitution was never very strong, and his health having very much
declined, he was induced, in the autumn of that year, to travel on the
continent. After visiting Paris he proceeded to Italy, and ultimately
arrived at Rome, where he died of dropsy, April 15, 1820, in the 57th
year of his age. In the course of his last journey he had made notes of his
‘Observations on Italy,’ which were published by his widow after his
decease, edited by the late Bishop Sandford of Edinburgh. This work shows
that he possessed talents for general literature of a very superior order,
which required only cultivation to have made him as eminent in this
department as his professional attainments had rendered him distinguished in
his own peculiar sphere.
Bell was under the middle size, but exceedingly well-proportioned. He was of
a generous disposition, lively temperament, and independent character. In
the fine arts his tastes had been highly cultivated. His anatomical drawings
were remarkable for the correctness and skill with which they were executed.
His musical parties were celebrated in their day. Although his income was
large, it was not sufficient for his style of living, which demanded an
expenditure greater than his resources could at all times meet; hence he was
sometimes placed in circumstances of great embarrassment. Endowed with
varied talents, and possessing great energy and industry, with uncommon
facility in communicating his ideas, and singular acuteness and
discrimination in availing himself of all knowledge essential to surgical
science, this eminent man had yet little acquaintance with the world, and
but small patience with the prejudices which society and the profession
continued to retain. Popular and eloquent as a lecturer, he was an
entertaining and instructive writer, and an acute and powerful
controversialist, though often severe and bitter in his remarks, even beyond
his intention and wish.
following is a catalogue of his works:
Anatomy of the Human Body; vol. i. containing the Bones, Muscles, and
Joints. Edin. 1793, 8vo. Vol. ii, containing the Heart and Arteries. Edin.
1797, 8vo. Vol. iii. containing the anatomy of the Brain, Description of the
course of the Nerves, and the Anatomy of the Eye and Ear, 1803. Complete
edition, with plates by Charles Bell, third edition, 1811, 8vo.
Engravings, explaining the Anatomy of the Bones, Muscles, and Joints, drawn
and engraved by the Author. Edin. 1794. 4to. Second edition, 1804, 4to.
Engravings of the Arteries, illustrating the second volume of the Anatomy of
the Human Body, royal 4to, 1801; 3d edition, 8vo. 1810.
Discourses on the Nature and Cure of Wounds. Edin. 1795, 2 vols. 8vo. 3d.
Answer, for the Junior Members of the Royal College of Surgeons of
Edinburgh, to the Memorial of Dr. James Gregory, on the Edinburgh Infirmary.
Edin. 1800, 8vo.
Memorial concerning the Present State of Military Surgery. Edin. 1800, 8vo.
Principles of Surgery. Vol. i. of the Ordinary Duties of the Surgeon;
containing the Principles of Surgery as they relate to Wounds, Ulcers, and
Fistulas; Aneurisms, and Wounded Arteries; Fractures of the Limbs; and the
Duties of the Military and Hospital Surgeon; with plates, accurately
coloured from Nature. Edin. 1801. 4to. Vol. ii. containing the Operations of
Surgery, viz., The Anatomy and Pathology of the Skull and Brain; in the form
of Discourses on the Structure and Diseases of the Skull; the Structure and
Diseases of the Brain; on Apoplexy, Palsy, Hydrocephalus, Phrenzy, the
various species of Fractures of the Skull, and the Operation of Trepan.
Edin. 1806, 4to. Vol. iii. being Consultations and Operations on the more
important Surgical Diseases, containing a series of Cases, calculated to
illustrate chiefly the Doctrine of Tumours, and other irregular parts of
Surgery; and to instruct the young Surgeon how to form his Prognosis, and
plan his Operations. 37 plates. Edin. 1807, 4to.
Letters on Professional Character and Manners, on the Education of a
Surgeon, and the Duties and Qualifications of a Physician, addressed to
James Gregory, M.D. Edin. 1810, 8vo.
Observations on Italy. Posthumous work, edited by Bishop Sandford of
‘Principles of the Law of Scotland,’ and other legal works, a brother of the
preceding, was born at Fountainbridge, near Edinburgh, on the 26th
of March, 1770. He was educated at Edinburgh, and passed advocate in 1791.
He early turned his attention to the study of mercantile law, a department
of Scottish jurisprudence at that time almost unregarded. His
investigations, however, were not limited to the law of Scotland, as he
applied his powerful mind to the thorough investigation of the principles of
the mercantile jurisprudence of the empire, the value of which in connection
with the growing commercial importance of Great Britain he clearly foresaw.
He was perhaps one of the greatest masters of commercial jurisprudence
generally that ever lived, and in particular of that department of it
relating to the laws of bankruptcy; and the various suggestions for their
improvement, contained in his published and unpublished writings (which have
in great part been adopted into the legislation of the country), claim the
gratitude of posterity. In 1822 he was chosen by the Faculty of Advocates to
fill the chair of Scots law in the university of Edinburgh. As a Lecturer on
Scots Law he was unsurpassed. His style was terse and lucid in a remarkable
degree. In 1823 Mr. Bell was appointed a member of the commission for
inquiring into Scottish judicial proceedings. He was selected by his
colleagues to draw up their Report; and soon after he was called up to
London in order to assist the Committee of the House of Lords in framing the
bill. Subsequently he was named member of a commission to examine into and
simplify the mode of proceeding in the court of session. The report of this
commission was the groundwork of the Scottish Judicature Act, prepared by
Mr. Bell, by which many important changes were effected in the forms of
process; the Jury Court, as a separate judicature, being abolished, and
conjoined with the Court of Session.
1831 Mr. Bell was appointed one of the principal clerks of session, and in
1833 he was named chairman of the Royal Commission to examine into the state
of the law in general. About the year 1831 he prepared a bill for the
establishment of a Court of Bankruptcy in Scotland, and in his valuable
notes accompanying the Bill for this Act he paved the way for the
introduction of the Institution of Bankruptcy courts with official assignees
in the United Empire, by which already some millions have been saved to the
commercial world. He died 23d September, 1843. The following is a list of
Treatise on the Laws of Bankruptcy in Scotland. Edin. 1804, 2 vols. 8vo.
Enlarged edition, with the title Commentaries on the Laws of Scotland, and
on the principles of Mercantile Jurisprudence, considered in relation to
Bankruptcy, Compositions of Creditors, and Imprisonment for Dept. Edin.
1810, 4to; fifth edition. 1826, 2 vols. 4to.
Examination of the Objections stated against the Bill for better regulating
the Forms of Process in the Courts of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1825, 8vo.
Principles of the Law of Scotland, for the use of Students in the University
of Edinburgh. Edin., 1829, 8vo. The same. Edin., 1830, 8vo. Fourth edition,
Edin., 1839, 8vo.
Illustrations, from Adjudged Cases, of the Principles of the Law of
Scotland. Edin., 1838, 3 vols, 8vo.
Commentaries on the recent Statutes relative to Diligence or Execution
against the moveable Estate; Imprisonment; Cessio Bonorum, and Sequestration
in Mercantile Bankruptcy. Edin., 1840, 4to.
distinguished surgeon, lecturer, and medical writer, youngest brother of the
preceding, and of John Bell the celebrated surgeon, was born in Edinburgh in
1778. He was educated at the High School of his native place, and, while yet
a mere youth, he assisted his brother John in his anatomical demonstrations,
and lectured to some hundreds of pupils on anatomy. In 1799 he was admitted
a member of the College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. In the year previous, he had
published the first part of his ‘System of Dissections.’ He was soon
afterwards appointed one of the surgeons of the Royal Infirmary, where,
throughout all his connection with that hospital, he exhibited remarkable
skill as an operator. In 1806 he left Edinburgh for London, the latter being
a wider and more promising field for professional exertion. In 1811, he
associated himself with Mr. James Wilson, in the Hunterian school of Great
Windmill Street, as a lecturer on anatomy and surgery, and afterwards
succeeded to it altogether. Here he officiated for some years with great
success. In 1814 he was elected one of the surgeons of Middlesex hospital,
where, from the first week of his appointment, he delivered clinical
lectures, which were spoken of with high approbation in the Medical Gazette,
and obtained the spontaneous recommendation of many of the most
distinguished physicians and surgeons of the metropolis. This institution he
raised to the highest repute, and on retiring from it in 1836, he justly
boasted of leaving it with “full wards, and one hundred and twenty thousand
pounds in the Funds.”
Having long been anxious to make himself acquainted with the subject of
gun-shot wounds, he twice relinquished his engagements in London, in order
to obtain a knowledge of this department of practice. One of those occasions
was in 1809, immediately after the battle of Corunna, when the wounded,
hurried home in transports, were landed on the southern coasts of England,
and the other was after the battle of Waterloo, when he repaired to
Brussels. Of the former opportunity he particularly availed himself, and
published a useful practical essay ‘On Gun-shot Wounds,’ as an Appendix to
his ‘System of Operative Surgery,’ which appeared in two volumes in 1814. On
occasion of his professional visit to Brussels, after the battle of
Waterloo, he was put in charge of an hospital, and afforded his assistance
to no fewer than 300 men. “The drawings,” says Mr. Pettigrew, in his Medical
Portrait Gallery, “with which he was thus enabled to enrich his portfolio,
have been referred to as the finest specimens of water-colouring in the
English anatomical school.” In 1812 he was admitted a member of the Royal
College of Surgeons of London. It is related, that on this occasion the
examiners asked Mr. Bell, with suitable gravity, what was his opinion of the
probable fate of Napoleon Bonaparte; and immediately on receiving his
answer, declared themselves satisfied “with the candidate’s proficiency!”
most important of his professional studies are those which relate to the
‘Nervous System,’ various papers on which from his pen were inserted in the
‘Philosophical Transactions,’ the first of which appeared in 1821. It was
read before the Royal Society, and excited immediate attention. The main
views there laid down had been printed in a pamphlet entitled ‘Idea of a New
Anatomy of the Brain,’ issued for distribution amongst his friends, in 1811.
This was fortunate for Mr. Bell, as various persons, recognising the value
of his discovery, soon came forward to claim the merit of it. The discovery
was, indeed, a most important one, and is thus explained by the writer of
his biography in the National Cyclopaedia: “Before the time of Bell, all
nerves were held to be alike in character, and were considered simply to
give more or less nervous susceptibility to any organ, in proportion to the
numbers in which they were there distributed. Bell discovered, and showed,
that the nerves were naturally distinguished among themselves and clearly
classified; and that the nerves of sense (whether peculiar or general), and
those of motion, were totally distinct in their character and origin. He, in
fact, laid bare, for the first time, the great fact of a distinction
existing in the nature and quality of the nervous energy, which, before his
Discourses, had been all huddled together under one interpretation. As
respects the body and spinal marrow, Bell discovered a division of the
nerves perfectly analogous to that detected by him in relation to the brain.
The common nerves distributed over the animal truck fulfil the two grand
functions of giving sensation and motion. On cutting a spinal nerve, the
older anatomists found both feeling and motion to be lost by the part which
is thence supplied with nervous energy, and they concluded that the nerve
carried both qualities conjointly. But Ball looked deeper into the matter;
and he was rewarded by the discovery that the two roots, by which the spinal
nerves are connected with the vertebral medulla, derive and bear from them
different qualities – the anterior root conveying the motor power, and the
posterior that of sensation, or the sensor power. Following up his
inquiries, he discovered, likewise, the special nerve of respiration, and
others with particular qualities, as to which before his time not even a
conjecture had been made. Before quitting this subject, in which Bell may be
named as a discoverer equal even with Harvey, we ought to point to one of
his practical inferences from his own views, which establishes the existence
of a sixth sense – that by which we attain our knowledge of distance, size,
weight, form, texture, and resistance of objects. Two of his essays, ‘On the
Nervous Circle,’ and ‘On the Eye,’ have reference to this theory. The basis
of it is, that the nerves of sensation play the part of reporters on the
motor nerves, and indicate to the central seats of perception the condition
of things within the influence of these nerves, thus forming the sixth or
1824, he was appointed senior professor of anatomy and surgery in the Royal
College of Surgeons, London, and he subsequently became a member of the
council. At the request of Lord Brougham, he had written some papers on the
animal economy, for ‘The Library for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,’
which were published in 1828-29, and became deservedly popular, particularly
his two dissertations on ‘Animal Mechanics,’ which had formed a portion of
his lectures at the London College of Surgeons. He afterwards edited,
conjointly with his lordship, the illustrated edition of ‘Paley’s Evidences
of Natural Religion,’ published in 1836.
the accession of William the Fourth, in 1831, he was one of the five eminent
men in science on whom the Guelphic Order of knighthood was conferred, the
others being Sir John Herschel, Sir David Brewster, Sir John Leslie, and Sir
James Ivory. On the establishment of the London university, now University
College, in 1826, the governors of the new institution offered to place Sir
Charles at the head of their new medical school. He accordingly delivered
the general opening lecture in this section of the college, and followed it
by a regular course of characteristic lectures on Physiology. In a short
time, however, he gave in his resignation, and confined himself to his
practice, which, though very extensive, was chiefly in nervous affections.
By his valuable writings, the surgical knowledge of his time was much
advanced, and his discoveries on the nervous system gave him a European
Charles was one of the eight eminent men who were selected to write the
celebrated Bridgewater Treatises, On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God,
as manifested in the Works of Creation; his contribution being on ‘The Hand,
its mechanism and vital endowments, as evincing design,’ which was published
in 1834. For this work he received the premium of one thousand pounds.
1836 he was elected professor of surgery in the university of Edinburgh, in
the room of Dr. Turner, when he removed to Edinburgh, having been absent
from that city thirty years. His opening lecture as surgical professor was
numerously attended by professional and non-professional men of eminence,
and he held that chair with great distinction till his lamented death. The
only great work which, in his later years, he was enabled to finish, was a
new edition of his ‘Anatomy of Expression,’ largely increased and improved
by his observations on an Italian journey undertaken by him in one of the
intervals betwixt his sessions at college. Sir Charles died suddenly of an
attack of spasms or angina pectoris, to which he was subject, on the
morning of April 28, 1842, at Hallow Park, near Worcester, the seat of Mrs.
Holland, with whom he and Lady Bell were making a short stay on their way to
London. His body was interred on the 2d of May in Hallow churchyard. He was
a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, and a member of
some other learned bodies. He married, in 1811, the second daughter of
Charles Shaw, Esq., of Ayr. His wife survived him. – Subjoined is a portrait
of Sir Charles:
following is a list of Sir Charles Bell’s works:
system of Dissections, explaining the Anatomy of the Human Body, the manner
of displaying the parts, and their varieties in disease. Plates. Lond. 1798,
2 vols. fol. 2d edit. in fol. illustrated with engravings. 3d edit. 1809, 2
Engravings of the Arteries, illustrating the two vols. Of the Anatomy of the
Human Body, by John Bell, and serving as an introduction to the Surgery of
the Arteries. Lond. 1801, 4tp. 3d edit. 1813, 8vo.
Anatomy of the Brain explained, in a series of Engravings. Lond. 1802, 4to.
Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting. Plates. Lond. 1806, 4to. A
new and enlarged edition was published after his death, under the title of
The Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression as connected with the Fine Arts.
Lond., 1844, 8vo.
System of Operative Surgery, founded on the basis of Anatomy, vol. i. Lond.
1807, royal 8vo. Vol. ii. 1809, royal 8vo. 3d. edit. 1814, 2 vols. 8vo.
of a new Anatomy of the Brain, printed for private circulation. 1811.
Account of the Muscles of the Ureter, with their effects in the irritable
states of the Bladder. Med. Chir. Trans. iii. 171. 1812.
Letters concerning the Diseases of the Urethra. Lond. 1810, 8vo.
Engravings of Morbid Parts. Lond. 1813, fol.
Dissertation on Gun-shot Wounds. Lond. 1814, 2 vols. 8vo.
Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Body. 3 vols. 1816.
Surgical Observations, a Quarterly Report of Cases in Surgery treated in the
Middlesex Hospital. Lond. 1816, 8vo. 4th Quarterly Report. 1817,
8vo. Vol. ii. part i. 1818, 8vo.
Essay on the Forces which Circulate the Blood, 1819.
Treatise on the Diseases of the Urethra, &c., 1820.
Various papers on the Nervous System, which originally appeared in the
Philosophical Transactions; commencing in 1821, 4to.
Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery, Trepan, Hernia,
Amputation, Aneurism, and Lithotomy. London, 1821, 4to.
Observations on the Injuries of the spine and of the Thigh Bone, 1824, 4to.
Exposition of the Natural System of the Nerves of the Human Body, 1824.
Paley’s Evidences of Natural Religion, edited conjointly with Lord Brougham.
Institutes of Surgery. Edinburgh, 2 vols, 1838, 12mo.
Animal Mechanics; contributed to the Library for the Diffusion of Useful
Nervous System of the Human Body, 1830, 4to. new and complete edition.
Edinburgh, 1836, 8vo.
Bridgewater Treatise on ‘The Hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments, as
evincing design.’ London, 1834.
Practical Essays. Edinburgh, 1841, 8vo.
successful applier of steam to the purposes of navigation in Europe, was the
fifth son of Patrick Bell, a mechanic, and was born at Torphichan, in the
county of Linlithgow, April 7, 1767. He received what little education he
ever possessed at the parish school; and in 1780 was sent to learn the art
of a stone mason. Disliking this employment, in 1783 he was bound apprentice
to his uncle, a millwright in the neighbourhood. He afterwards went to
Borrowstoun-ness, to be instructed in ship-modeling; and in 1787 he engaged
with Mr. James Inglis, engineer at Bell’s Hill, with the view of completing
his knowledge of mechanics. Having subsequently repaired to London, he was
for some time employed by the celebrated Mr. Rennie. About the year 1790 he
returned to Glasgow, and for several years worked there as a
house-carpenter. In 1808 he removed to Helensburgh, nearly opposite
Greenock, where, while his wife kept the principal inn, he employed himself
chiefly in pursuing a series of mechanical projects and experiments, which
generally ended in failure and disappointment; but he at last hit upon the
important discovery of the successful application of steam to the purposes
of navigation. Dr. Cleland, in his work on Glasgow, states, that it may be
said, without the hazard of impropriety, that he “invented” the
stem-propelling system, “for he knew nothing of the principles which had
been so successfully followed out by Mr. Fulton,” an American engineer, who,
on October 3, 1807, launched his first steamboat on the Hudson. In 1811,
Bell caused a vessel, forth feet in length, to be build on a plan entirely
his own, which was named ‘the Comet,’ that year being remarkable for the
appearance of a large comet. He constructed the steam engine himself, and in
January 1812, the first trial in Europe of a steam-vessel took place on the
river Clyde. Dr. Cleland adds, “After various experiments, the Comet was at
length propelled on the Clyde by an engine of three-horse power, which was
subsequently increased to six. Mr. Bell continued to encounter and overcome
the various and indescribable difficulties incident to invention, till his
ultimate success encouraged others to embark in similar undertakings.” Bell
himself did not realize any advantages from his discovery. In his old age he
would have been in a very destitute condition, had it not been for the
liberality of the citizens of Glasgow, and other places, who benevolently
came to his aid. A public subscription having been entered into on his
behalf, a considerable sum was raised. Besides this, he received from the
trustees of the river Clyde an annuity of one hundred pounds, which he
enjoyed for several years, and the half of which at his death was continued
to his widow. He died at Helensburgh, November 14, 1830.
author of several religious works, and father of James Bell, the
geographical writer, was born at Moffat, December 24, 1733. After having
studied at the university of Edinburgh, he was in 1767 licensed as a
preacher by the presbytery of Relief, and the same year became the minister
of the Relief congregation at Jedburgh. In 1777 he obtained the pastoral
charge of a congregation in the Relief communion in Glasgow, in which city
he died, October 15, 1802. He published in 1780 a work entitled ‘The
Standard of the Spirit lifted up against the Enemy coming in like a Flood,’
being the substance of several sermons preached at Glasgow. In 1785 appeared
‘A Proof of the true and eternal Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ a
translation from the Dutch. He likewise translated a work from the Latin,
‘On the Controversies agitated in Great Britain under the unhappy names of
Antinomians and Neonomians,’ with notes; which, with ‘Sermons on various
important Subjects,’ and ‘A View of the Covenants of Works and Grace,’ were
published at Glasgow after his death. He left several works in manuscript.
GEOGRAPHICAL WRITER, SON OF THE PRECEDING, WAS BORN AT Jedburgh in 1769. In
1777, he removed with his father to Glasgow, where he received a liberal
education, and afterwards served his apprenticeship to the weaving business.
In 1790 he commenced trade on his own account, as a manufacturer of cotton
goods upon a large and respectable scale, and with every prospect of
success. In consequence, however, of the mercantile depression that occurred
in 1793, Mr. Bell was obliged to give up business; and he subsequently acted
for a number of years as a common warper in the warehouses of different
manufacturers. About the year 1806 he quitted the warping, and became a
teacher of the classics to young men attending the university, which he
continued for some years; he himself, with untiring zeal, pursuing at the
same time a course of study in various branches, particularly in history,
systematic theology, and especially in geography. About the year 1815 he was
engaged to edit a new edition of the Glasgow System of Geography, an
original work in two volumes, which had met with deserved encouragement, and
which was now, by his valuable additions and improvements, extended to five
volumes. This afterwards formed the basis of his principal work, ‘A System
of Popular and Scientific Geography,’ which was published at Glasgow in six
vols. Previous to the latter publication he had brought out ‘Critical
Researches in Geography,’ and also an elegant edition of Rollin’s ‘Ancient
History,’ copiously illustrated with notes. Besides these works, he had
commenced preparing a general gazetteer, upon a new and improved plan. His
Gazetteer of England and Wales was in course of publication at the time of
his death. He had resided for some years for the benefit of his health at
Lukeston, near Campsie, where he died, May 3, 1833.