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Significant Scots
John Douglas


DOUGLAS, JOHN, the brother of the eminent physician whose biography we have already given, attained to considerable eminence as a surgeon, in which capacity he officiated to the Westminster infirmary. His name is principally distinguished among those of other medical men, for his celebrity as a lithotomist, and for having written a treatise insisting on the utility of bark in mortification. His work on the high operation for the stone, obtained for him considerable reputation; and will give the medical reader an accurate notion of the state of the surgical art at the period in which he lived. He also practised midwifery, and criticised with no inconsiderable asperity the works of Chamberlain and Chapman. He appears, indeed, to have been the author of several controversial works, which have deservedly floated down the stream of time into obscurity. Among others we may notice one, entitled "Remarks on a late pompous Work;" a severe and very unjust criticism on Cheselden’s admirable Osteology. He wrote some useful treatises on the employment of purgatives in Syphilis; but by far his most important was "an account of Mortifications, and of the surprising effect of Bark in putting a stop to their progress." This remedy had already been tried successfully in gout by Sydenham; in typhus by Ramazzini and Lanzoni; by Monro, Wall, and Huxham, in malignant variolo; and after Rushworth had tried it in the gangrene following intermittent fevers, it was introduced by Douglas, and afterwards by Shipton, Grindall, Werlhof, and Heister, in ordinary cases of gangrene. [Spreyel Histoire de la Medicine, tom. v. f. 412.] This same Scottish family, we may add, gave birth to Robert Douglas, who published a treatise on the generation of animal heat; but the rude state of Physiology, and of animal chemistry, at that period, rendered abortive all speculation on this difficult, but still interesting subject of investigation.


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