In those charming days of
student life, when first I wandered round the classic building which
jutted into the old College Green, I had a desire to become familiar
with the end and aim of that Grecian temple, for as such it then
appealed to me. I anxiously inquired its purpose and had not long to
wait for an answer. On matriculating, a card was presented, permitting
me to enter with a friend the temple of science containing the Hunterian
Museum. This noble building then was the stately storehouse of
anatomical specimens and other treasures collected by one man, which for
variety of riches has had no parallel in the annals of medicine. It was
founded by the elder of two brothers, who had astonished the world by
their scientific labours. Glasgow can justly claim those brothers as her
sons, because they were born within sound of her Cathedral bell. William
spent five years at her ancient University; John spent three years in a
workshop of the city. They left their native country for London, and
made their mark so indelibly on the time in which they lived, that that
period has been spoken of by Englishmen as ‘the age of the Hunters.’
The vast intellectual labours of those great men have not attracted the
interest they ought to have done in their native place, possibly because
they are not fully known; should the present sketch of their lives,
issued in commemoration of the centenary of the younger brother, lead to
a keener appreciation of their public sei vices, I shall be abundantly
I have to express the great pleasure I have had in communing with the
illustrious band of writers and orators who have done so much to extend
the name and fame of the brothers Hunter. To Professor Gairdner I
acknowledge my obligations for the privilege of extracting from Dr.
Reynolds’ “System of Medicine,” his lucid and masterly description of
the case of John Hunter. I would also express my thanks to Mr. D. Y.
Cameron for the interest he has taken in the work, and my admiration of
the glamour he has thrown around the scenes he has so finely etched. To
Mr. Annan I owe thanks for the artistic manner in which the
photogravures have been executed; and to Mr. Tweed for his medallion of
John Hunter reproduced in the volume.
GEORGE R. MATHER.
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