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The Scottish Nation

LIDDEL, DR. DUNCAN, an eminent professor of mathematics and a physician, was born at Aberdeen in 1561, and received his education at King’s college of that city. In 1579 he quitted his native country for Germany; and at the university of Frankfort on the Oder he applied himself with much diligence to the study of mathematics and medicine. A contagious distemper, which broke out at Frankfort in 1587, induced him to quit that city for the university of Rostock, where he acquired a high reputation for his acquirements, particularly for his knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. In 1590 he returned to Frankfort with two young Livonians of rank, his pupils, with whom he soon after removed to the new “Academia Julia,” at Helmstadt. In 1591 he was appointed under professor of mathematics in that university; and in 1594 he was promoted to the first or higher mathematical chair, which he occupied for nine years. In 1596 he obtained the degree of M.D.; and by his lectures and writings was for some years the principal support of the medical school of Helmstadt. He was employed as first physician at the court of Brunswick, and enjoyed a lucrative private practice.

      Having been several times chosen dean of the faculties both of philosophy and physic, he was, in 1604, elected pro-rector of the university. But desirous of ending his days in his native country, in 1607 he finally quitted Helmstadt, and passing through Germany and Italy, at length settled in Scotland. He died at Aberdeen, December 17, 1613, aged 52, and was buried in the church of St. Nicholas of that city, where a tablet of brass, containing his portrait, was erected to his memory. By his last will he bequeathed the lands of Pitmedden, purchased by him, to Marischal college, Aberdeen, for the education and support of six poor scholars, and left six thousand merks for the endowment of a professorship fo mathematics in that university.

      Dr. Liddel was the author of several valuable works on medical science, a list of which follows:

      Disput. de Elementis. Helmstadt, 1596, 4to.

      Disputationes Medicinales. Helmstadt, 1605, 4 vols. 4to. These consist of Theses maintained by himself and his pupils at Helmstadt, from 1592 to 1606. A new edition of the same, on a new arrangement, was published under the title of Universae Medicinae Compendium. Helmstadt, 1720, 4to.

      Ars Medica, Succinete et Perspicuae Explicata. Hamburgh, 1607, 8vo.

      De Febribus, Libri Tres. Hamburgh, 1610, 12mo.

      He also wrote a curious tract, De Dente Aureo, to refute Jacobus Horstius’ ridiculous story of a poor boy in Silesia who, having lost a tooth, brought forth a new one of pure gold – afterwards discovered to be a scheme to excite charity – which was published at Hamburgh in 1628.

      In 1651 another posthumous work by Liddel on the Art of Preserving Health, was published at Aberdeen.

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