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Significant Scots
William & John Hunter

HUNTER, WILLIAM and JOHN, two eminent physicians, fall to be noticed here under one head, in order that we may, without violating alphabetical arrangement, give William that priority to which his seniority and precedence in public life render necessary.

William HunterWILLIAM HUNTER was born, May 23, 1718, at Kilbride in the county of Lanark. His great-grandfather, by his father’s side, was a younger son of Hunter of Hunterston. His father and mother lived on a small estate in the above county, called Calderwood, which had been some time in the possession of their family. They had ten children, of whom the subject of our present memoir was the seventh, while John was the tenth. One of his sisters married the reverend James Baillie, professor of divinity in the university of Glasgow, and became the mother of Matthew Baillie, the late celebrated physician, whose labours in morbid anatomy have been of such essential service in promoting the study of pathology. William Hunter was sent to the college of Glasgow at the age of fourteen, where he pursued his studies with diligence, and obtained the esteem of the professors and his fellow students. He was at this time designed for the church;—but hesitated, from conscientious motives to subscribe all the articles of its faith. There is perhaps no position so painful as that of a man whose mind is overshadowed by doubts on doctrinal points of religion, having firmness in himself to investigate narrowly the foundation of the principles he should embrace, and rectitude enough to acknowledge with candour the difficulties by which he is embarrassed. Such was the state of mind of William Hunter when he became acquainted with the eminent Dr Cullen, who was then established in practice at Hamilton. After much deliberation, under his persuasion, he determined to relinquish his theological studies, and devote himself exclusively to the profession of medicine. Accordingly, having obtained the consent of his father, in the year 1737, he went to reside with Dr Cullen; in whose family he lived nearly three years; a period which afterwards, when he was engaged in the anxieties and turmoil that are ever attendant on the life of a medical man, he looked back upon with peculiar pleasure. It was the oasis on which, in after years, his memory loved to dwell. Between these two gifted individuals a partnership was now formed, and it was agreed that William Hunter should take charge of the surgical, and Dr Cullen of the medical cases that occurred in their practice. To carry their mutual wishes more efficiently into operation, it was arranged that William Hunter should proceed to Edinburgh, and then to London, for the purpose of pursuing his medical studies in each of these cities, after which, that he should return to settle at Hamilton.

In November, 1740, William Hunter went to Edinburgh, where he remained until the following spring, attending the lectures of the medical professors there, among whom he had the advantage of attending Dr Alexander Monro, who was one of the most talented and able professors, who, perhaps, ever adorned that university. In the summer of 1741, he proceeded to London, and resided with Mr afterwards Dr Smellie, then an apothecary in Pall Mall. He took with him a letter of introduction from Mr Foulis, the printer at Glasgow, to Dr James Douglas. At first, Mr Hunter commenced the study of anatomy under the tuition of Dr Frank Nicholls, who was the most eminent teacher of anatomy then in London, and who had formerly professed the science at Oxford. It appears that Dr Douglas had been under some obligation to Mr Foulis, who had collected for him several editions of Horace, and he naturally, therefore, paid attention to young Hunter, whom he at once recognized to be an acute and talented observer. Dr Douglas was at that time intent on a great anatomical work on the bones, which he did not live to complete, and was looking out for a young man of industry and ability whom he might employ as his dissector. He soon perceived that his new acquaintance would be an eligible assistant to him, and after some preliminary conversation invited him into his family, for the double purpose of assisting him with his dissections, and directing the education of his son. The pecuniary resources of young Hunter were at this time very slender, and the situation was to him therefore highly advantageous; but it was with difficulty that he could obtain the consent of his father for him to accept it, who being now old and infirm, awaited with impatience his return to Scotland. Ultimately, however, he was prevailed on to acquiesce in the wishes of his son, which he did with reluctance; he did not, however, long survive, as he died on the 30th of the October following, aged seventy-eight. Mr Hunter’s previous arrangements with Dr Cullen formed no obstacle to his new views; for he had no sooner explained his position, than Dr Cullen, anxious for his advancement, readily canceled the articles of agreement, and left his friend to pursue the path which promised to lead him to fame and to fortune. At liberty now to take advantage of all the means of instruction by which he was surrounded, he pursued his studies with assiduity. By the friendly assistance of Dr Douglas he was enabled to enter himself as a surgeon’s pupil at St George’s hospital, under Mr James Wilkie, and as dissecting pupil under Mr Frank Nicholls. He also attended a course of experimental philosophy, which was delivered by Desauguliers. He soon became very expert as a dissector, insomuch that Dr Douglas went to the expense of having several of his preparations engraved. But he did not enjoy his liberal patronage and aid long, for many months had not elapsed when his kind benefactor died, an event which happened April 1, 1742, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. Dr Douglas left a widow and two children;—but his death made no alteration in respect to Mr Hunter, who continued as before to reside in his family, and perform the same duties which he had previously done.

In the year 1743, the first production from the pen of Mr Hunter was communicated to the Royal Society. It was an "Essay on the Structure and Diseases of Articulating Cartilages," a subject which had not been at that time sufficiently investigated, and on which his observations threw considerable light. His favourite scheme was now to commence as a lecturer on anatomy;—but he did not rashly enter on this undertaking, but passed some years more in acquiring the necessary knowledge, and in making the numerous preparations which are necessary to exhibit in a complete course of anatomy. There is, perhaps, no branch of medical science which demands more patient and assiduous toil than this; it was more especially so at that period, when there were few aids to anatomical knowledge. He communicated his project to Dr Nicholls, who had declined lecturing, in favour of Dr Lawrence, who gave him little encouragement, and he retired, as many others similarly situated have done, to meditate on his own secret hopes, and to await a fit opportunity for commencing his designs. It thus happens in the lives of many young men, that wiser heads caution them against embarking in schemes they have long cherished, and in which, after all, they are destined to be successful. The ardour and perseverance of youth often accomplish undertakings which appear wild and romantic to the sterner and colder judgment of the aged. To William Hunter the wished-for opportunity soon occurred, whereby he was enabled to put his plans to the test of experience. A society of navy surgeons at that time existed, which occupied rooms in Covent Garden, and to this society Mr Samuel Sharpe had been engaged as a lecturer on the operations of surgery. This course Mr Sharpe continued to repeat, until finding that it interfered too much with his other engagements; he resigned in favour of William Hunter, who gave his first anatomical course in the winter of 1746. It is said that when he first began to speak in public he experienced much solicitude; but the applause he met with inspired him with that confidence which is so essential an element of all good oratory. Indeed, he gradually became so fond of teaching, that some few years before his death, he acknowledged that he was never happier than when engaged in lecturing. The profits of the first two courses were considerable; but having with much generosity contributed to supply the pecuniary wants of his friends, he found himself so reduced on the return of the next season, that he was obliged to postpone his lectures, because he had not money to defray the necessary expenses of advertising. An anecdote is mentioned by his biographer Symmons, very characteristic of the early difficulties which are experienced by many men of genius. Mr Watson, one of his earliest pupils, accompanied him home after his next introductory lecture. He had just received seventy guineas for admission fees, which he carried in a bag under his cloak, and observed to his friend, "that it was a larger sum than he had ever been master of before." His previous experience now taught him more circumspection;--he became more cautious of lending money, and by strict economy amassed that great fortune, which he afterwards so liberally devoted to the interests of science. His success as a lecturer before the society of navy surgeons was so decided, that its members requested him to extend his course to anatomy, and gave him the free use of their room for his lectures. This compliment he could not fail to have duly appreciated, and it may be regarded as the precursory sign of that brilliant career which he was soon afterwards destined to pursue.

In the year 1747, he was admitted a member of the Incorporation of Surgeons, and after the close of his lectures in the spring of the following year, he set out with his pupil, Mr James Douglas, on a tour through Holland and Paris. At Leyden, he visited the illustrious Albinus, whose admirable injections inspired him with the zeal to excel in this useful department of anatomy. Having made this tour, he returned to prepare his winter course of lectures, which he commenced at the usual time.

Mr Hunter at this time practised surgery as well as midwifery; but the former branch of the profession he always disliked. His patron, Dr Douglas, had acquired considerable reputation as an accoucheur, and this probably induced him to direct his views to this line of practice. Besides this, an additional inducement presented itself, in the circumstance of his being elected one of the surgeon accoucheurs to the Middlesex hospital, and afterwards to the British Lying-in Hospital. The introduction of male practitioners in this department of the profession, according to Astruc, took place on the confinement of madame la Valliere in 1663. She was anxious for concealment, and called in Julian Clement, an eminent surgeon, who was secretly conducted into the house where she lay, covering her face with a hood, and where the king is said to have been hidden behind the curtains. He attended her in her subsequent accouchments, and his success soon brought the class of male practitioners into fashion. Nor was this a matter of minor import, for hereby the mortality among lying-in women has been materially reduced. Mowbray is said to have been the first lecturer on obstetrics in London, and he delivered his course of lectures in the year 1725. To him succeeded the Chamberlains, after whom, Smellie gave a new air of importance and dignity to the science. It is said that the manners of Smellie were by no means prepossessing—indeed they are described to have been unpleasing and rough; therefore, although a man of superior talent, he necessarily found a difficulty in making his way among the refined and the more polished circles of society. Herein, Hunter had a decided advantage, for while he was recognized to be a man of superior abilities, his manners and address were extremely conciliating and engaging. The most lucrative part of the practice of midwifery was at this time divided between Sir Richard Manningham and Dr Sandys;--the former of whom died, and the latter retired into the country just after Mr Hunter became known as an accoucheur.

The field was now in a great measure left open to him, and in proportion as his reputation increased, he became more extensively consulted. His predecessor Dr Sandys, had been formerly professor of anatomy at Cambridge, where he had formed a valuable collection of preparations, which on his death having fallen into the hands of Dr Bloomfield, was now purchased by Mr Hunter for the sum of £200. There can be no doubt that the celebrity of Mr Hunter as an anatomist contributed to increase his practice as an accoucheur, as it was reasonably expected that his minute knowledge of anatomy would give him a correspondingly great command in difficult and dangerous cases. Acting now principally as an accoucheur, he appears to have entirely relinquished the surgical department of his profession; and desirous of practising as a physician, obtained in 1750, the degree of doctor of medicine from the university of Glasgow. The degree of doctor of medicine at that and other universities of Scotland, was at this period granted, on the candidate’s paying a certain sum of money and presenting a certificate from other doctors of medicine of his being qualified to practise the healing art—but so much was the facility of obtaining these degrees abused that this method of granting them has been very properly abolished. Shortly after obtaining his diploma, Dr Hunter left the family of Mr Douglas, and went to reside in Jermyn Street, Soho Square.

The following summer he revisited his native country, for which, amidst the professional prosperity of a town life, be continued to entertain a cordial affection. He found on his arrival that his mother was still living at Long Calderwood, which was now become his own property, in consequence of the death of his brother James, who died in the 28th year of his age. It is worthy of notice, that this young man had been a writer to the signet in Edinburgh; but disliking the profession of the law, he went to London, with the intention of studying anatomy under his brother William—so that it would almost appear, that in the family of the Hunters there was an hereditary love for medical science. Ill health, however, which bows down the intellectual power of the strongest of mankind, preyed upon his constitution; so that he could not carry his plans into execution, and he therefore returned to his birth-place, where he died. At this period, Dr Cullen was progressing to that fame which he subsequently attained; and was residing at Glasgow, where Dr Hunter again met him, to take a retrospect over the eventful changes which had signalized the progress of their separate lives. Such a meeting could not, under the peculiar circumstances, fail to be interesting to both; for there scarcely can be any gratification superior to that of meeting in after life, the friend of early youth, pursuing successfully the career which at one time was commenced together, and who is still opening up the paths to new discoveries, in which both sympathize and delight, while, at the same time, the same sentiments of personal friendship remain undiminished in all their original strength and sincerity.

On the return of Dr Hunter to London, he continued corresponding with Dr Cullen on a variety of interesting scientific subjects, and many of the letters have been published by Dr Thomson, in his life of this eminent physician, a work which should be familiar to all who take any interest in the history of medical science.

On the return of Dr Hunter to London, on the resignation of Dr Layard, who had officiated as one of the physicians to the British Lying-in Hospital, we find the governors of that institution voting their "thanks to Dr Hunter for the services he had done the hospital, and for his continuance in it as one of the physicians." Accordingly he was established in this office without the usual form of an election. He was admitted in the following year licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, and was soon after elected a member of the Medical Society. His history of an aneurism of the aorta appears in the first volume of their "Observations and Enquiries," published in 1757. In 1762, we find him in the "Medical Commentaries," supporting his claim of priority in making numerous anatomical discoveries over that of Dr Monro Secundus, at that time professor of anatomy in the university of Edinburgh. It is not easy to adjust the claims of contemporary discoverers in numerous branches of science; and though, on this occasion, a wordy war of considerable length was waged concerning the real author of the great doctrine of the absorbent action of the lymphatic system, yet the disputants seem to have left the field, each dissatisfied with the conduct of his antagonist, and each equally confident of being entitled to the honour of being regarded as the real discoverer. It is not worth while to rake up the ashes of any such controversy; but it is no more than justice to assert, that Dr Hunter vindicated his claims in a manly and honourable tone, at the same time acknowledging that "the subject was an unpleasant one, and he was therefore seldom in the humour to take it up."

In 1762, when the queen became pregnant, Dr William Hunter was consulted, and two years afterwards had the honour to be appointed physician extraordinary to her majesty. We may now regard him as having attained the highest rank in his profession; and avocations necessarily increasing very considerably, he found himself under the necessity of taking an assistant, to relieve him from the fatigues to which he was now subjected. Accordingly he selected Mr Hewson, an industrious and accomplished young man, to be his assistant, and afterwards took him into partnership with him in his lectures. This connexion subsisted until the year 1770, when, in consequence of some misunderstanding, it was dissolved, and Cruickshank succeeded to the same situation. In the year 1767, Dr William Hunter became a fellow of the Royal Society, to which the following year he communicated his observations on the bones, commonly supposed to be elephants’ bones, which were found near the river Ohio in America. At this period the attention of men of science had been directed to the large bones, tusks, and teeth, which had been found on the banks of the above river, and the French Academicians came to the conclusion that they were, in all probability, the bones of elephants. From the different character of the jaw-bone, and other anatomical signs, Dr William Hunter, however, came to the conclusion that they did not belong to the elephant, but to an animal incognitum, probably the same as the mammoth of Siberia. [Philosophical Transactions, vol. 58.] Nor was this the only subject of natural history on which Dr Hunter exercised his ingenuity, for in a subsequent volume of the transactions, we find him offering his remarks on some bones found in the rock of Gibraltar, which he proves to have belonged to some quadruped. Further, we find an account published by him of the Nylghau, an Indian animal not before described. Thus, amidst the anxious duties of that department of the profession in which he excelled, we find his active mind leading him into investigations on subjects of natural history, which are eminently interesting to all who delight in examining into the mysteries, and beauties, and past history of the surrounding world.

In the year 1768, Dr William Hunter became fellow of the society of arts, and the same year at the institution of an academy of arts, he was appointed by his majesty professor of anatomy. His talents were now directed into a new sphere of action; in which he engaged with unabated ardour and zeal. He studied the adaptation of the expression of anatomy to sculpture and painting, and his observations are said to have been characterized by much originality and just critical acumen.

In January, 1781, he was unanimously elected successor to Dr John Fothergill, as president of the Royal College of Physicians of London, the interests of which institution he zealously promoted. In 1780, the Royal Medical Society of Paris elected him one of their foreign associates, and in 1782 he received a similar mark of distinction from the Royal Academy of Sciences in that city. Thus, in tracing the life of this eminent physician, we find honour upon honour conferred upon him, in acknowledgment of the essential services which he rendered to the cause of science. But his chef d’oeuvre yet remains to be noticed; it was consummated in the invaluable "Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus," one of the most splendid medical works of the age in which he lived. It was commenced in 1751, but not completed until 1775, owing to the author’s desire to render it as complete as possible. It contains a series of thirty-four folio plates, from superior drawings of subjects and preparations, executed by the first artists, exhibiting all the principal changes which occur during the nine months of pregnancy. Here we find the first representation that was given of the retroverted uterus, and the membrana decidua reflexa discovered by himself. He did not live however to complete the anatomical description of the figures, which his nephew the late lamented Dr Baillie did in 1794. [Anatomical Description of the Gravid Uterus and its contents, 1794.] He dedicated this valuable work to the king; and it needs only to be added, in testimony of merit, that notwithstanding the march of medical knowledge, it has not been superseded by any rival author. It remains now, and will go down to posterity, as a standard work complete in its designs, and admirable in its execution. But this was not the only service which Dr William Hunter rendered to the profession; it remains for us yet to record the circumstances under which be founded a museum which has justly called forth the admiration of every medical man by whom it has been visited. When Dr William Hunter began to reap the fruits of his professional skill and exertions, he determined on laying aside a fund from which he would derive support, if overtaken by the calamities of sickness, or the infirmities of age. This he very shortly accomplished; and it is said, that on one occasion he stated that having borrowed from this fund a sum to defray some expenses of his museum, he felt very much dissatisfied and uneasy until it was replaced. His competency having been obtained, and his wealth continuing to accumulate, he formed a laudable design of founding a school of medicine, and for this purpose addressed a memorial to Mr Grenville, then minister, in which he requested the grant of a piece of ground in the Mews for the site of an anatomical theatre. He undertook to expend £7000 on the building, and to endow a professorship of anatomy in perpetuity; but the scheme did not meet the reception it deserved, and fell to the ground. It is said that the earl of Shelburne, afterwards in conversation with the learned doctor, expressed his approbation of the design, and desired his name to be put down as a subscriber for £1000. But Dr Hunter had now it would appear determined on other arrangements, having purchased a spot of ground in Great Windmill Street, which he determined to appropriate to the proposed use. He there built accordingly a house and anatomical theatre, and removed from Jermyn Street to these premises in 1770. Medical men engaged in active practice, who have a taste for the study of morbid anatomy, have little difficulty in obtaining specimens; and by his own exertions and those of his pupils, many of whom engaged zealously in the cause, he soon succeeded in bringing together a vast number of morbid preparations, to augment the number of which he purchased numerous collections that were at various times exposed to sale in London. The taste for collecting, which all acquire who commence founding a museum, "increased by what it fed on," and he now, in addition to the anatomical specimens, sought to accumulate fossils, curious books, coins—in short, whatever might interest either the man of letters, the physician, the naturalist, or the antiquary. We are informed that in respect to books he became possessed of "the most magnificent treasure of Greek and Latin books that has been accumulated since the days of Mead;"--furthermore, Mr Combe, a learned friend of the doctor’s, published a description of part of the coins in the collection, under the following title:—"Nummorum Veterum Populorum et Urbium qui in Museo Gulielmi Hunter asservantur, descriptio, figuris illustrata. In the preface to this volume, which is dedicated by Dr William Hunter to her majesty, some account is given of the progress of the collection, which had been accumulating since 1770, at an expense of upwards of £20,000. In 1781, a valuable addition to it was received, consisting of shells, corals, and other curious subjects of natural history, which had been collected by the late Dr Fothergill, who gave directions by his will that his collection should be appraised after his death, and that Dr William Hunter should have the refusal of it at £500. This was accordingly done, and Dr Hunter purchased it eventually for 1200 pounds. To complete the history of this museum, we may here add, that on the death of Dr William Hunter, he bequeathed it, under the direction of trustees, for the use of his nephew Dr Matthew Baillie, and in case of his death to Mr Cruickshank, for the term of thirty years, at the expiration of which it was to be transmitted to the university of Glasgow. The sum of £8000 was furthermore left as a fund for the support and augmentation of the collection, and each of the trustees was left £20 per annum for the term of thirty years—that is, during the period that they would be executing the purposes of the will. Before the expiration of the period assigned, Dr Baillie removed the museum to Glasgow, where it at present is visited by all who take an interest in medical or general science.

We have followed Dr William Hunter through the chief and most remarkable events by which his life was characterized, and now pausing to contemplate his having arrived at the summit of his ambition,—honoured by the esteem of his sovereign, complimented by foreign academies, and consulted by persons of all ranks--with an independence of wealth which left him no desires for further accumulation of riches—we must acknowledge that the cup of human enjoyment, while it mantles to the brim, must still contain some bitter drop—that there is in this world no happiness without alloy. Ill health now preyed, with all its cankering evils, upon his constitution, and he meditated, indeed seriously made up his mind, to retire from the scenes of his former activity to his native country, where he might look back upon the vista of his past life and die in peace. With this view he requested his friends Dr Cullen and Dr Baillie to look out for a pleasant estate for him, which they did, and fixed on a spot in Annandale, which they recommended him to purchase. The bargain was agreed on, at least so it was concluded, but when the title deeds were submitted to examination they were found to be defective—and accordingly the whole project fell to the ground, for although harassed by ill health, Dr Hunter found that the expenses to support the museum were so enormous, that he preferred still remaining in his practice. He was at this time, dreadfully afflicted with gout, which at one time affected his limbs, at another his stomach, but seldom remained in one part many hours. Yet, notwithstanding this, his ardour and activity remained unabated;--but at length he could no longer battle the destroying power which preyed upon his being. The attacks became more frequent, and on Saturday, March 15, 1783, after having for several days experienced a return of wandering gout, he complained of great headache and nausea, in which state he retired to bed, and felt for many days more pain than usual, both in his stomach and limbs. On the Thursday following, he found himself so much recovered, that he determined to give the introductory lecture to the operations of surgery, and it was to no purpose that his friends urged on him the impropriety of the attempt. Accordingly he delivered the lecture, but towards the conclusion, his strength became so much exhausted that he fainted, and was obliged to be carried by his servants out of the lecture room. We now approach the death-bed scene of this eminent man, and surely there can be no spectacle of deeper or more solemn interest than that presented by the dissolution of a man, who adorned by intellectual energy and power, the path which it was in this life his destiny to tread. The night after the delivery of the above lecture, and the following day, his symptoms became aggravated, and on Saturday morning he informed his medical adviser, Mr Combe, that he had during the night had a paralytic stroke. As neither his speech nor his pulse were affected, and as he was able to raise himself in bed, Mr Combe was in hopes that his patient was mistaken; but the symptoms that supervened indicated that the nerves which arise in the lumbar region had become paralyzed; for the organs to which they are distributed, lost the power of performing their functions. Accordingly he lingered with the symptoms, which in all similar cases exist, until Sunday the 30th March, when he expired. During his last moments he maintained very great fortitude and calmness, and it is reported that shortly before his death, he said, turning round to Mr Combe, "If I had strength enough to hold a pen I would write how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die." Such a sentiment as this, breathed by one under the immediate dominion of death, strikes us with peculiar wonder and awe, for it is seldom in such an hour that suffering humanity can command such stoical complacency. During the latter part of his illness, his brother John, with whom he had previously been on unfriendly terms—requested permission to attend him, and felt severely the parting scene. His remains were interred on the 5th April, in the rector’s vault of St James’s church, Westminster.

The lives of all eminent men may be viewed in a double relation,—they may be contemplated simply with a reference to their professional and public career—or they may he viewed in connexion with the character they have displayed in the retired paths of domestic life. It would appear that Dr Hunter devoted himself exclusively to the pursuits of his profession; nor did he contract any tie of a gentler and more endearing nature to bind him to the world. His habits were temperate and frugal. When he invited friends to dine with him he seldom regaled them with more than two dishes, and he was often heard to say, that "a man who cannot dine on one dish deserves to have no dinner." After the repast, the servant handed round a single glass of wine to each of his guests; which trifles show the economical disposition he possessed, and which enabled him to realize £70,000 for the purpose of completing a museum for the benefit of posterity. He was an early riser, and after his professional visits was to be found always occupied in his museum. He was in person "regularly shaped, but of slender make, and rather below the middle stature." There are several good portraits of him, one of which is an unfinished painting by Toffany, which represents him in the act of giving a lecture on the muscles at the royal academy surrounded by a group of academicians. Another by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of which a correct and elegant facsimile is given in connexion with the present work, is preserved in the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow.

The professional character of Dr Hunter is deservedly held high in the estimation of all who are acquainted with the history of medicine. His anatomy of the Gravid Uterus is alone a monument of his ability; but, besides this, he made discoveries for which his name deserves the highest possible respect. His claims to being the discoverer of the origin and use of the lymphatic vessels were, it is true, warmly contested; but many who have taken pains to examine the merits of the controversy, among whom we may mention the celebrated Blumenbach, agree in awarding to him the honour of the discovery. He had the merit also of first describing the varicose aneurism, which he did in the Observations and Inquiries published by the Medical Society of London. His discovery and delineation of the membrana decidua reflexa in the retroverted uterus, deserves also honourable mention; in short, both the sciences of anatomy and midwifery were materially advanced by his labours. He was a good orator, and an able and clear lecturer; indeed the extent of his knowledge, more especially in physiology, enabled him to throw a charm of interest over the dry details of descriptive anatomy. His general knowledge was, as we have seen, very extensive; and his name and talents were respected in every part of Europe. Among the MSS. which he left behind him, were found the commencement of a work on biliary and urinary concretions, and two introductory lectures, one of which contains the history of anatomy from the earliest period down to the time when he wrote; also, considerations on the immediate connexion of that science with the practice of physic and surgery. Among other of his works, which are highly esteemed by the profession, we may notice his "Essay on the Origin of the Venereal Disease," which he communicated to the Royal Society; and also his "Reflections on the Symphisis Pubis."

By his will Dr Hunter bequeathed an annuity of £100 to his sister, Mrs Baillie, during her life, and the sum of £2000 to each of her daughters. The residue of his estate and effects went to his nephew.

We may conclude our memoir of this eminent physician by relating the following anecdote, which is said to have occurred in his visit to Scotland, before he had acquired the celebrity he so earnestly desired. As he and Dr Cullen were riding one day in a low part of the country, the latter pointed out to him his native place, Long Calderwood, at a considerable distance, and remarked how conspicuous it appeared. "Well," said he, with some degree of energy, "if I live I shall make it more conspicuous." We need not add any comment on his having lived to verify fully this prediction. Such are the achievements which assiduity and perseverance are ever enabled to accomplish. The moral deducible from the lives of all eminent men teaches the same lesson.

JOHN HUNTER, younger brother of the preceding, was one of the most profound anatomists and expert surgeons of the age in which he lived. We have already seen how much his brother did to promote the interests of medical science, and we shall find in the sequel, that the subject of our present memoir accomplished still more, and attained even to a higher and prouder eminence, insomuch that his name is, as it were, consecrated in the history of his profession, and respected and esteemed by all who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the science. The exact date of his birth has been a subject of some dispute:—by Sir Everard Home it is placed in July 14, 1728; and this day has been celebrated as its anniversary by the College of Surgeons of London;--Dr Adams, however, has dated it on the 13th of February, on the authority of the parish register shown to him by the Rev. James French, the minister of the parish. This evidence is sufficiently satisfactory; and we, therefore, consider that the latter is the correct date of his birth. He was, as we have already stated, the youngest of the family, and born when his father had nearly reached the age of seventy. Being the youngest, he was a great favourite with both of his parents; indeed, they allowed him to enjoy without restraint all the pleasures and pastimes which are the delight of early life, without imposing on him those tasks which are essential to an early and good education. Ten years after his birth his mother was left a widow, and he was then the only son at home, one or both of his sisters being now married. Herein, therefore, we may find every apology for the indulgence of his mother, who, doubtless, regarded him with an eye of no ordinary interest and affection. He was, accordingly, not sent to school until he had arrived at the age of seventeen, when he was placed at a grammar school—but not having the patience to apply himself to the cultivation of languages, and furthermore disliking the restraint to which he was subjected, he neglected his studies, and devoted the greater part of his time to country amusements. Numerous are the instances of men of genius, who, like Hunter, neglected their education in youth; but who, subsequently, by assiduous application and diligence, recovered their lost time, and attained to high eminence. Such was the case with Horne Tooke, Dean Swift, and others, whose names are honourably recorded in the history of literature. Care ought to be taken, however, to impress it on the minds of youth, that the general rule is otherwise, and that early application is necessary in by far the majority of cases, to produce respectable attainments in mature life. About this time, Mr Buchanan, who had lately come from London to settle at Glasgow as a cabinet-maker, paid his addresses to Mr Hunter’s sister Janet, and having many agreeable qualities she accepted his offer, and contrary to the advice of her relations, was married to him. Mr Buchanan was a man of agreeable and fascinating address, and, besides other pleasing and companionable qualities, displayed the accomplishments of a good singer;—so that his company was continually in request, and he yielded too freely to the pleasures and festivities of society. His business being in consequence neglected, his circumstances became embarrassed, and John Hunter, who was now seventeen, went to Glasgow on a visit to his sister, for whom he had the greatest affection, to comfort her in her distress, and endeavour to assist in extricating her husband from the difficulties in which he was involved. There is a report that Mr Hunter was destined to be a carpenter, and one of his biographers ventures to affirm that "a wheel-wright or carpenter he certainly was;" however, the only ground for such a statement seems to have been, that when orders were pressing he occasionally did assist his brother-in-law, by working with him at his trade. The occupation of a carpenter is, in towns distant from the metropolis, often combined with that of a cabinet maker;—and thence arose the report to which we have just alluded. His assistance could only have been very slight, and it being eventually impossible for Mr Buchanan to retrieve himself from his difficulties, he relinquished his business, and sought a livelihood by teaching music, besides which, he was appointed clerk to an Episcopal congregation. Thus the marriage of his sister proved so far, in a worldly sense, unfortunate; and the predictions of her relations were too truly verified. Her brother John soon became tired of witnessing embarrassments he could not relieve, and finding that his sister preferred grieving over her sorrows alone, to allowing him to be the constant witness of her grief, he returned to Long Calderwood, after an absence which had so far had a beneficial effect on him, that it weaned him from home, reconciled his mother to his absence, and in all probability suggested to him reflections and motives for future activity, which never otherwise might have occurred. It is no wonder that the village amusements to which he had been accustomed, now lost their wonted charms;—it is no wonder that he felt restless and anxious to enter on some useful occupation, for already he had witnessed what were the bitter fruits of idleness and dissipation. He had often heard of his brother William’s success in London, and he now wrote to him requesting permission to pay him a visit, at the same time offering to assist him in his anatomical labours;—and in case these proposals were not accepted, he expressed a wish to go into the army.

His brother William returned a very kind answer to his letter, and gave him an invitation to visit him immediately, which he cheerfully accepted, and accompanied by a Mr Hamilton who was going there on business, they rode together on horseback, and in September, 1748, he arrived in London. About a fortnight before the winter session of lectures for that year, his brother, anxious to form some opinion of his talents for anatomy, gave him an arm to dissect the muscles, with some necessary instructions for his guidance, and the performance, we are informed, greatly exceeded expectation. William now gave him a dissection of a more difficult nature,—an arm in which all the arteries were injected, and these as well as the muscles were to be exposed and preserved. His execution of this task gave his brother very great satisfaction, nor did he now hesitate to declare that he would soon become a good anatomist, and, furthermore, he promised that he should not want for employment. Here we may observe, that the manipulation in dissecting requires a species of tact, which, like many other acquirements, is best obtained in early life; and now under the instruction of his brother, and his assistant Mr Symonds, he had every opportunity for improvement, as all the dissections carried on in London at this time were confined to that school.

In the summer of 1749, the celebrated Cheselden, at the request of Dr Hunter, permitted John to attend at the Chelsea hospital, where he had ample opportunities for studying by the sick-bed, the progress and modifications of disease. At this time surgical pathology was in a rude state; and, among other absurd doctrines, the progress of ulceration was held to be a solution of the solid parts into pus, or matter. When the mind, however young, enters fresh and vigorous into the field of inquiry, untrammelled by early prejudices, it is apt to observe phenomena in new relations, and to discover glimmerings of paths which lead to the knowledge of unsuspected truths. Such, at this time, we may consider to have been the state of John Hunter’s mind;—acute in all its perceptions; discriminate in all its observations; and free to embrace fearlessly whatever new theories his reflections might suggest. Here, therefore, in learning the first rudiments of surgery, he first began to suspect the validity of the doctrines which were promulgated, which some few years afterwards, it was his good fortune to combat, and overthrow.

In the succeeding season, Mr Hunter was so far advanced in the knowledge of practical anatomy as to relieve his brother from the duty of attending in the dissecting-room. This now became the scene of the younger brother’s employment during the winter months, whilst William confined himself to delivering lectures in the theatre. In the summer he resumed his attendance at the Chelsea hospital, and in the following year, 1751, he became a pupil at St Bartholomew’s hospital, where he was generally present at the performance of the most remarkable operations. At this time Mr Pott was one of the senior surgeons at the latter institution, and no man operated more expertly, or lectured with better effect than he did; and although his pathological doctrines were subsequently, and with justice, arraigned by his present pupil, his name is nowhere mentioned by him but with the highest respect.

In the year 1753, Mr Hunter entered as a gentleman commoner in St Mary’s Hall, Oxford; probably with the view of subsequently becoming a fellow of the College of Physicians. But his matriculation was not afterwards persevered in, and the following year he entered as surgeon’s pupil at St George’s hospital. His object in taking this step, which might appear to have been superfluous, is obvious. He desired to obtain the appointment of surgeon to some public hospital; and he well knew, that while his chance of success at Chelsea hospital was very remote, he was precluded from competing for the appointment at St Bartholomew’s, from the circumstance of his not having served an apprenticeship to any surgeon of that hospital, a qualification expressly required by every candidate for that office. He accordingly calculated that the chances were more in his favour at St George’s, where he hoped to obtain sufficient interest among the medical officers to facilitate his wishes. To this hospital he was, in two years afterwards, appointed house-surgeon. This, we may observe, is a temporary office, the person holding which may be regarded as a resident pupil, who resides in the house, and is expected to be always in readiness to attend to any accident that may be brought to the house, or may occur in the vicinity.

In the winter of 1755, he was admitted to a partnership in the lectures of his brother, a certain portion of the course being allotted to him, and he being required to lecture during the occasional absence of his colleague. Probably from the neglect of his early education he was little qualified to compete with his brother as a lecturer, a task he always performed with very great difficulty. For making dissections, and anatomical preparations, he was unrivalled in skill; and this was of no mean importance when we remember, that this art was at that time very little known, and that such exhibitions were of great utility during the public lecture. "Mr Hunter worked for ten years," says Sir Everard Home, "on human anatomy, during which period he made himself master of what was already known, as well as made some addition to that knowledge. He traced the ramifications of the olfactory nerves upon the membranes of the nose, and discovered the course of some of the branches of the fifth pair of nerves. In the gravid uterus, he traced the arteries of the uterus to their termination the placenta. He was also the first who discovered the existence of the lymphatic vessels in birds." The difficulty of unraveling all the complex parts of the human frame, induced him to extend his inquiries, and examine into the structure of the inferior animals, nature having, as Dr Geoffroy St Hilaire has more recently demonstrated, preserved one type in the organization of all animate beings. He applied to the keeper of the tower, and the men who are the proprietors of the menageries of wild beasts, for the bodies of the animals which died under their care, besides which he purchased such rare animals as came in his way, and many were presented to him by his friends, which he very judiciously intrusted to the showmen to keep until they died, the better to secure their interest in assisting him in his labours.

Ill health is too often the penalty of unremitting application, and Mr Hunter’s health now became so much impaired by excessive attention to his pursuits, that in the year 1760, when he had just completed his thirty-second year, he became affected by symptoms which appeared to threaten consumption, and for which a milder climate was deemed advisable.

In October, 1760, he was appointed by Mr Adair, surgeon on the staff, and the following spring he embarked with the army for Belleisle, leaving Mr Hewson to assist his brother during his absence. Both in Belleisle and Portugal he served as senior surgeon on the staff, until the year 1763, and during this period amassed the materials for his valuable work on gun-shot wounds. Nor is this all; taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him, he examined the bodies of many of the recently killed, with the view of tracing the healthy structures of certain parts, as well as the nature of particular secretions. After the peace in 1763, Mr Hunter returned to England, "which," says one of his biographers, "I have often heard him say he had left long enough to be satisfied, how preferable it is to all other countries."

Mr Hewson had now supplied the place of Mr Hunter in superintending dissections and assisting in the anatomical theatre during the space of two years, and it was scarcely to be expected that he would resume his connexion with his brother. During his absence, the interest he had previously acquired in the profession, naturally became diminished; for it is the fate of all who are either by necessity or choice induced to leave their native country, to find on their return, the friendship of some alienated, and that death, or worldly circumstances have compelled others to leave the circle of their former acquaintance. Here then we find Mr Hunter at the age of thirty-six, with very limited means, and with few friends, settling in London to commence the great professional struggle which all are destined to encounter who enter on this particular path of life, which is generally found to be crowded with competitors whom good fortune has already signalized with success. Scarcely can any situation of greater anxiety be conceived, than that of an able and active-minded man sitting down to practise medicine in a city in which he is comparatively a stranger, and which is already supplied with numerous rival practitioners, on whom the public has already pronounced a favourable verdict. Such at this time was the position of Mr Hunter, as one of his biographers simply but emphatically expresses it, "the practice of surgery now and for a long time afterwards afforded no opening for him; Hawkins, Bunfield, Sharpe, Potter, embraced almost the whole of family practice, whilst Adair and Tomkins carried from him the chief of the practice derived from the army." Disheartening, and indeed gloomy as these prospects now were, he returned with unabated ardour to his scientific pursuits, and laid the foundation of that eminence which he afterwards attained. If the difficulties of this world be met with philosophy, and with a firm resolution to overcome them, they may generally be surmounted, and they then leave the moral victor both the wiser and the happier for the conflict. So was it with John Hunter, who, finding the emoluments from his half-pay and private practice insufficient to support him, determined on teaching practical anatomy and operative surgery. With the pecuniary means which he was thus enabled to raise, he purchased about two miles from London a piece of ground near Brompton, at a place called Earl’s Court, and there built a house for the purpose of experiments, which he could not carry on successfully in a large town. Here, in the course of his inquiries he made several important discoveries. He ascertained the changes which animal and vegetable substances undergo in the stomach, when acted on by the gastric juice; he also, by feeding animals with madder, which tinges growing bones with a red colour, discarded the principles observable in the growth of bones; and, furthermore, succeeded in explaining the process by which a dead piece is separated from the living bone. During his absence from England, his name had in some degree been kept up before the attention of the public, by his brother’s essays in the Medical Commentaries, where we find several allusions to his experiments and observations. In consequence of these scientific researches, while he was yet, as a practitioner, overlooked by the public, the Royal Society, much to its honour, elected him a fellow, in which title he preceded his brother, who was ten years older, and had been known ten years earlier in the metropolis. The adjudgment of this honour, and the recognition of the merit which it necessarily carried along with it, must in Mr Hunter’s circumstances, have been to him peculiarly gratifying. It was to him a proud incentive to further exertion; and a strong inducement to bear up against the difficulties, which, as we have explained, at this time retarded his professional advancement.

The love of science leads us at all times to resources which lie beyond the neglect and injustice of the world, and the mind of Hunter, untutored as it was in early life, now sought relief, occupation, and improvement in the paths which it opened up. Among other instructive amusements, he engaged in watching the peculiar habits and instincts of various animals, for which purpose he kept several, which should have been domiciled in menageries, in his own house. Sir Everard Home relates the following anecdote: "two leopards which were left chained in an out-house, had broken from their confinement and got into the yard among some dogs, which they immediately attacked; the howling this produced alarmed the whole neighbourhood. Mr Hunter ran into the yard to see what was the matter, and found one of them climbing up the wall to make his escape, the other surrounded by the dogs; he immediately laid hold of them both and carried them back to their den. But as soon as they were secured, and he had time to reflect on the risk of his own situation, he was so much agitated that he was in danger of fainting." Incredible as to some this anecdote may appear, we hesitate not to accord our implicit belief, knowing how remarkable a control men have exercised even over the most savage animals, when themselves actuated by great courage and strong power of resolution.

This year, by a strong exertion in dancing, Mr Hunter unfortunately broke the tendo Achillis, (the strong and broad tendon felt at the back of the foot,) in consequence of which he introduced an improvement on the mode of treating this accident, which was superior to that recommended by Dr Alexander Munro, who had himself at a more advanced period of life experienced a similar misfortune.

We have no account from Sir Everard Home of Mr Hunter’s town residence, until his brother, having completed his house in Windmill Street, assigned over to him the lease of his house in Jermyn Street. It is presumed by one of his biographers, that on his first arrival in London he lodged, for the purpose of being near to his brother’s dissecting rooms, in Covent Garden, and another informs us that on his return from abroad he resided in Golden Square. Be this as it may, he appears to have lived in Jermyn Street until the expiration of the lease in 1783, a period of fifteen years. Whatever may have been the slight difference which existed between him and his brother, the latter appears still to have interested himself in his welfare, as we find that, chiefly through his interest, he was, in 1768, (on the authority of Dr Symmons,) elected surgeon to St George’s hospital. He had now acquired the desired means for giving his talents and industry full scope; for, as fellow of the Royal Society, he gained the earliest notice of every scientific discovery and improvement which might take place in Europe; and as surgeon to this hospital, he had the means of extending his observations, and confirming his pathological doctrines. His whole time was now devoted to the examination of facts, and the patient accumulation of such knowledge as he could gradually attain; nor did he, as many others have done, captivated by love of fame, rush prematurely before the notice of the public. "With the exception," says one of his biographers, "of what was published in his name by his brother William, in the year 1764, there does not appear to be anything by John up to the year 1772. If there were any publications, they must have terminated like many more by others; they must have experienced the fate of abortions, or at least I know nothing of them." Herein he showed very considerable wisdom, and well would it have been for many authors, had they, like John Hunter, persevered even in obscurity in maturing their knowledge before surrendering themselves to a tribunal, whose verdict will always in the end be found to have been dictated by the severest and most rigid principles of justice.

The surgeons of most of the public hospitals in this country have the privilege of selecting, on their own terms, house-pupils, who reside with them a year or two after the completion of their education. Among many who became pupils of John Hunter, and afterwards acquired celebrity in their profession, we may notice the famous Dr Jenner, who boarded in his house in 1770 and 1771, and lived in habits of intimacy with him until his death. "In every conversation," says a friend of Dr Jenner’s, "as well as in a letter I received from him, he spoke with becoming gratitude of his friend and master." Even the slightest recollection, or testimony of esteem, from such a man as Dr Jenner, in favour or illustration of the character of John Hunter must be received with interest. In 1771, Mr Hunter published the first part of his Treatise on the Teeth, a very valuable work, the merit of which has not been surpassed by any later production. It may be observed en passant, that this was the only work he sold to the booksellers, all his others being published on his own account, or communicated to miscellaneous collections, chiefly periodicals. Between the appearance of the first and second part of his treatise, Dr Fothergill published his paper on that painful affection of the facial nerve, denominated Tic Doloureux.

While thus rising in eminence, Mr Hunter became attached to the daughter of Mr Boyne Home, surgeon of Burgoyne’s regiment of light horse, who was also the father of the celebrated Sir Everard Home. The young lady received his addresses favourably; but the feelings of human nature, impassioned as they may be, must succumb to the cold reality of worldly circumstances; wherefore, their marriage was necessarily delayed until he had obtained a sufficient competency to maintain her in that rank of society, which for their mutual happiness was desirable. When the passions are staked on the success of such an attachment, and are in fact concentrated in the welfare of a being so chosen, disappointment annihilates all moral energy, and reduces the prospects of life into painful ruin;—but when hope is allowed to feed itself on encouragement, and the future alliance definitively fixed, there is an object for exertion;—a stimulus to action which will not allow of rest, until the means of gaining the promised end have been accomplished. This John Hunter appears to have duly felt, and his exertions therefore were correspondingly increased; and during this time, when he could suspend his professional and scientific toils, nothing gave him greater gratification than the pleasure of enjoying her society. "The expenses of his pursuits," says Sir Everard Home, "had been so great, that it was not for some years after his first engagement with this lady, that his affairs could be sufficiently arranged to admit of his marriage. This happy period at length arrived, and he was married to Miss Home in 1771."

"Whilst he was paying," continues Sir Everard, "his addresses to my sister, I was a boy at Westminster school. During the holidays I came home, and Mr Hunter, who was frequently there, always showed me particular kindness; he made my father an offer to bring me up to his profession, a proposal which I readily accepted. I was struck with the novelty and extent of his researches, had the highest respect and admiration for his talents, and was ambitious to tread the paths of science under so able a master."

The year after his marriage, at the request of Sir John Pringle, he read to the Royal Society a communication showing that after death the gastric juice has the power of dissolving the coats of the stomach. This paper he was persuaded to read to the society, before he had entirely completed the investigations which he further meditated;—but it appears that he did not afterwards return to the subject, considering that the fact on which any further inquiries might be formed had been sufficiently demonstrated.

In the winter of 1773, he formed a plan for giving a course of lectures on the theory and principles of surgery, with the view of vindicating his own principles, which he frequently heard misquoted or ascribed to others, and of teaching them systematically. The first two winters, he read his lectures gratis to the pupils of St George’s hospital, and the winter following charged the usual terms of other teachers in medicine and surgery. "For this, or for continuing them," says one of his biographers, "there could be no pecuniary motive. As he was under the necessity of hiring a room and lecturing by candle light, his emoluments must have been trifling. The lectures not being considered a part of medical education, his class was usually small; and of the few that heard him, the greater part acknowledged their difficulty in understanding him, which was often proved by their incapacity of keeping up their attention. The task itself was so formidable to him, that he was obliged to take thirty drops of laudanum before he entered the theatre at the beginning of each course. Yet he certainly felt great delight in finding himself understood, always waiting at the close of each lecture to answer any questions; and evincing evident satisfaction when those questions were pertinent, and he perceived that his answers were satisfactory and intelligible." In addition to this, Sir Everard Home, after stating the fact of his having recourse to laudanum—the elixir vitae of the opium eater—"to take off the effects of uneasiness," adds, "he trusted nothing to memory, and made me draw up a short abstract of each lecture, which he read on the following evening, as a recapitulation to connect the subjects in the minds of the students." Amidst all his avocations, both as a lecturer and practitioner, he still pursued with an unabated zeal and industry his researches into comparative anatomy. No opportunity for extending his knowledge on this interesting department of science did he permit to escape him. In the year 1773, at the request of Mr Walsh, he dissected the torpedo, and laid before the Royal Society an account of its electrical organs. A young elephant which had been presented to the queen by Sir Robert Barker, and died, afforded him an opportunity of examining the structure of that animal; after which two other elephants in the queen’s menagerie likewise died, which he also carefully dissected. The year following, 1774, he published in the Philosophical Transactions an account of certain receptacles of air in birds, showing how these communicate with the lungs and are lodged in the fleshy parts, and in the bones of these animals; likewise a paper on the gillaroo trout, commonly called in Ireland the gizzard trout. In 1775, several animals of the species called the gymnotus electricus of Surinam, were brought alive into this country, and by the curious phenomena they exhibited the attention of the scientific world was greatly excited. After making numerous experiments on the living animals, Mr Walsh purchased those which died, and gave his friend Mr Hunter an opportunity of examining them. This he readily accepted, and drew up an account of their electrical organs, which he published in the Philosophical Transactions. In the same volume of that valuable work will be found his paper containing experiments respecting the powers of animals and vegetables in producing heat. Thus, in the paths of natural history did he find a recreation from the more serious, and often irksome duties of his profession;--and by his skilful dissections, and acute observations, enriched our knowledge in this interesting and fascinating department of science. While thus engaged, Mr Hunter found a great difficulty in showing to advantage the natural appearances of many parts of animals which he wished to be preserved. In some instances the minute vessels could not be seen when the preparation was immersed in spirits; in others, the natural colour of the parts preserved, and even the character of the surface, faded and underwent a change after being some time immersed in this liquid,—a circumstance which, to this day, diminishes very much the value of almost all the morbid preparations which are preserved in private and public museums. The only method, therefore, of accomplishing the object he had in view, was to have them carefully and correctly drawn at the time of the dissection. The expense of engaging draftsmen, the difficulty of procuring them, and above all their ignorance of the subject to be delineated, were considerable objections to their employment. Accordingly, he engaged a young and talented artist named Bell, to live with him for ten years, during which period it was agreed that he should be employed both as a draftsman and in making anatomical preparations. This young man soon imbibed the spirit of his master; he worked assiduously with his knife, his forceps, and his pencil; he engaged himself during part of his time in copying out Mr Hunter’s lectures, and in less than ten years became a skilful anatomist and surgeon. By his labours, Mr Hunter’s collection became enriched with many very accurate and spirited drawings; and a variety of curious and delicate anatomical preparations. This skilful artist, by the interest of his friend Sir Joseph Bankes, obtained the appointment of assistant surgeon in the honourable East India Company for the settlement of Bencoolen in Sumatra, whither he set out with the view both of improving his fortune, and collecting specimens of natural history. He was in both successful beyond his most sanguine expectations. He sent home some very rare specimens of animals and corals, and two papers which appeared in the Philosophical Transactions,—one giving a description of the double horned rhinoceros, and the other of an uncommonly formed fish. Unfortunately for the cause of science, he died of fever in 1792, being one of the many who have been summoned from this world, amidst early promises of future excellence and success.

In January, 1776, Mr Hunter was appointed surgeon extraordinary to his majesty,—an honour which contributed still farther to advance his professional interests. About this time the attention of the public was much directed to the efforts of the Humane Society. Dr Cogan was the first who introduced the subject from Holland; and after him, Dr Hawes did not suffer it to rest until it experienced the royal patronage. Here again we find Mr Hunter zealously engaged in endeavouring to ascertain the best mode of restoring apparently drowned persons, the consequence of which was the production of a paper which he read to the Royal Society, entitled "Proposals for the Recovery of Persons apparently Drowned." The able author of this paper draws the distinction between the mere suspension of the functions by which life is supported, and absolute death, which he illustrates by reference to various animals, in whom, under certain conditions, the actions of life are temporarily suspended. It further contains a description of the signs of life and death, which are of vast importance; indeed, notwithstanding the progress that has since been made, both in Germany and Britain, in medical jurisprudence, this paper contains information which has by no means been superseded.

In the autumn of this year, Mr Hunter was taken extremely ill, and the nature of his complaints induced both his friends and himself to apprehend that his life was in imminent danger. However, the anticipated calamity was averted; he rallied, and was restored to his friends and the public, to whom his subsequent services were of such vast importance. When on his sick bed, he reflected on his own worldly affairs, such as he was about to leave them;—he perceived that all his fortune had been expended in his pursuits; that his family had no provision excepting what might arise from the sale of his collection; and he naturally, on this account, suffered much solicitude and anxiety. No sooner did he leave his sick chamber, than he commenced arranging his collection, so that it might, in whatever event, command its value, and with this view he began to make a catalogue of the collection; but the delicacy of his health obliged him to desist from his labours, and persuaded by his friends and relatives, he retired for a time to Bath. During his absence, Mr Everard Home was employed to draw out descriptions of the preparations, leaving blanks for those with which he was unacquainted. His complaints were considerably ameliorated by his residence at Bath; and though he returned to town before he was quite convalescent, he continued to amend, and was soon recovered.

In 1778, he published the second part of his Treatise on the Teeth, and also, in the Philosophical Transactions, a paper on the heat of animals and vegetables. "I had now," says Sir Everard Home, "lived six years with Mr Hunter and completed my education: his expenses had always exceeded his income. I had therefore no emolument to expect from remaining in his house, which made it necessary for me to take up some line for my own support, and admiral Keppel’s action with the French fleet was the means of procuring me a very eligible situation."

Thus Mr Hunter was now deprived of the valuable assistance of his former pupil. And here we may pause to observe, both from the reflections which he made during his late illness, and the statement of Sir E. Home, that his expenditure had always exceeded his income, how slow are the emoluments of men whose scientific labours are nevertheless an advantage and honour to their country. Mr Hunter had now arrived at the age of fifty years, thirty of which had been devoted to his profession; he had been eleven years member of the Royal Society, and nine years arm hospital surgeon;—he was respected and esteemed by the most accomplished men of science, and his claims to honourable distinction recognized by the nobility and by royalty itself; but still his pecuniary circumstances were at so low an ebb, that, had he died during his late illness, his wife and children would have been left comparatively destitute. His expenses do not appear to have been great; his family had increased, but only two survived, and these were still of an age to be little expensive; his own personal expenses were not considerable; and yet five years after this period (says one of his biographers), when he purchased a leasehold in Leicester Square, he assured us that he was under the necessity of mortgaging before he could pay for it, and for some time afterwards he used to regret that all he could collect in fees "went to carpenters and bricklayers; whilst the sum expended was scarcely sufficient to furnish the library of a literary character." But the calamities and poverty of men of genius are so proverbial, that the hand of humanity willingly draws a veil over their sufferings; and yet there is something higher than riches to be obtained in this world, and amidst all the difficulties he has to encounter, happy is he who can command the power of contributing even in the slightest degree to the well-being and happiness of the human race. It is this high hope, this internal moral conviction, which always has, and ever will support genius along the difficult and thorny track which it is its destiny to tread. In 1780, Mr Hunter laid before the Royal Society an account of a woman who had the small pox during pregnancy, and in whom the disease seems to have been communicated to the fetus. The following year he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Sciences and Belles Lettres at Gottenburg.

During this period, he read before the Royal Society many valuable communications; among which we may notice, a paper on the Organ of Hearing in Fish, and six Croonian lectures on Muscular Motion. In these lectures he collected all the observations that had been made on the muscles, respecting their powers and effects, and the stimuli by which they are excited; and to these he added comparative observations concerning the moving powers of plants; but these lectures were not published in the Philosophical Transactions, as they were not considered by the author to be sufficiently complete dissertations.

Sir Everard Home informs us, that in the year 1783, Mr Hunter was chosen into the Royal Society of Medicine and Royal Academy of Surgery in Paris. In this year, continues the same writer, the lease of his house in Jermyn Street expired, and his collection being now too large to be contained in his dwelling house, he purchased the lease of a large house on the east side of Leicester Square, and the whole lot of ground extending to Castle Street, in which there was another house. In the middle space between the two houses he erected a building for his collection. Upon this building he expended above three thousand pounds, and, unfortunately for his family, the lease did not extend beyond twenty-four years. * * * * * "During the execution of this extensive plan I returned to England from Jamaica, where, at the close of the war, I had been appointed staff surgeon. * * * * I found Mr Hunter now advanced to a considerable practice, and a still greater share of public confidence. His collection had increased with his income. In this he was materially assisted by his friendship with Sir Joseph Bankes, who not only allowed him to take any of his own specimens, but procured him every curious animal production in his power, and afterwards divided between him and the British Museum all the specimens of animals he had collected in his voyage round the world. Drawing materials from such ample sources, standing alone in this branch of science, and high in the public estimation, he had so much attention paid to him, that no new animal was brought to this country which was not shown to him; many were given to him, and of these which were for sale he had commonly the refusal; under these circumstances his collection made a progress which would otherwise have been impossible. In April, 1785, his new rooms were completed, and I devoted the whole of the summer to the object of assisting him in moving his preparations, and arranging them in their proper order." [Life of John Hunter by Sir Everard Home, prefixed to his Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation, and Gun shot wounds.]

The surgical practice of Mr Hunter now daily increased, and he performed with great skill and judgment numerous operations, which were at that time new in the art of surgery; but whatever may have been the multiplicity of his professional engagements, his mind was still devoted to effecting improvements in medical education, and with this view, assisted by his friend the celebrated Dr Fordyce, he instituted a medical society, called the Lyceum Medicum Londinense, the meetings of which were held in his own lecture-rooms, and which acquired no inconsiderable reputation, both from the numbers and character of its members. Institutions of this kind have been of eminent importance in fostering and eliciting talents that have done honour to medical science; and this under the patronage it enjoyed did not fail to flourish.

In the year 1786, in consequence of the death of Mr Middleton, Mr Hunter was appointed deputy surgeon general to the army; shortly after which he published his work on the venereal disease, and another entitled "Observations on certain parts of the Animal Economy;" both which works rank high in the estimation of the profession. Sir Everard Home mentions the curious fact, that he chose to have his works printed and published in his own house, but "finding," he adds, "this measure to bear hard upon the booksellers in a way which had not been explained, and which was not intended, the second editions were sold by Mr Johnson in St Paul’s Church-yard, and Mr Nicoll, Pall Mall." In the spring of this year he had another very severe illness, which confined him to bed, and rendered him incapable of any kind of business. "In this state," says his biographer, "I was obliged to take upon myself the charge of his patients, as well as of his other affairs; and these were so extensive, that my residence in his house became absolutely necessary. His recovery was very slow, and his health received so severe a shock, that he was never afterwards entirely free from complaint or capable of his usual bodily exertion. After his recovery from this illness, he was subjected to affections of the heart upon every occasion which agitated his mind. In this infirm state he was unable to attend patients upon sudden calls in the night, or to perform operations without assistance; and for these years I continued to live with him until within a year of his death, and then took a house within a few doors, which, in no respect detached me from his pursuits, or prevented me from taking a part in his private practice. The uncertainty of the continuance of life under this affection; the mental agitation, and frequent depression with which it is almost invariably attended, render the victims of such generally anxious and unhappy; the canker worm is felt to be preying within the living frame, and there is no hope of restoration to permanent health. But notwithstanding all this, his energies remained unabated, and he still toiled with his wonted alacrity in the pursuit of knowledge. In the year 1787, he submitted to the Royal Society a paper giving an account of the experiment he had made to determine the effect of extirpating one ovarium, on the number of the young; also another communication, in which he proves the wolf, jackall, and dog to be of the same species; and another on the anatomy of the whale tribe. In return for these labours, having been twelve years a fellow, he received the gold Copleyan medal. Distinctions of this kind, although abstractly no stimulus to men who are actuated by higher motives in pursuit of knowledge, when conferred on men of such eminent abilities, not only do honour to the individual to whom they are presented, but to the institution by which they are awarded; and certainly, on reviewing the labours of John Hunter, there was perhaps no man who ever lived, better entitled to this honour. In the July of this year, he was chosen a member of the American Philosophical Society; and the same year, on account of his continued ill health, he applied to the governors of St George’s hospital to allow him an assistant surgeon, to which request they readily acceded; and Sir Everard Home was appointed to the office. In the year 1789, he succeeded Mr Adair as inspector general of hospitals, and surgeon general of the army, and about the same time was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

In the year 1792, Mr Hunter found that the period which he allotted to lecturing interfered so much with his other avocations, that he gave his materials for the lectures into the hands of Sir Everard Home, who relieved him of this duty. He now therefore began to prepare for the press his "Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation, and Gun-shot wounds," the data for which he had been collecting for many years. In his dedication to the king, he states that his appointment as surgeon on the staff in the expedition against Belleisle afforded him the opportunities of attending to gun-shot wounds, of seeing the errors and defects in that branch of military surgery, and of studying to remove them. He further adds, that it drew his attention to inflammation in general, and enabled him to make the observations which form the bases of that doctrine, which has since his time excited so much controversy among physiologists. By a series of very interesting experiments, and by a very ingenious mode of reasoning, he came to the conclusion maintained by this doctrine, which holds, that the blood as existing in its fluid state is alive, and that its death causes the changes which are observed to take place when it is abstracted from the body. In the Old Testament we read, "ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh; for the life of all flesh is the blood," (Levit. xvii. 14.) The same doctrine too seems promulgated in the Alcoran—and appears to have been maintained by the celebrated Harvey;—but notwithstanding these facts, there is no reason to presume that the idea was plagiarized by John Hunter: on the contrary, his opinion was with him original, inasmuch as it was elicited by the experiments which he himself performed. This would by no means be an appropriate place to discuss the general merits of this physiological doctrine; but we do not err in stating that it is supported by very plausible evidence, and is maintained by many eminent men of science. The nature and seat of the living principle which raises man above the inanimate beings by which he is surrounded, is manifestly beyond the reach of human investigation; but it must be satisfactory to those who have not time nor inclination even to examine the evidence which has been on either side adduced, to find, that such men as John Hunter and Abernethy recognized the existence of something beyond the mere mechanism of the human frame; that they in their acute reasonings urged the existence of an internal and self-sustaining principle, which modifies the different conditions of matter, and must be therefore superior to its decay.

In the year 1792, Mr Hunter was elected an honorary member of the Chirurgico-Physical Society of Edinburgh, and likewise connected himself with the Veterinary College, then just projected in London. "The origin of this institution," says Dr Adams, "was at Odiham in Hampshire; the Agricultural Society of which had offered a premium for the best account of the glanders. Mr Sergeant Bell was the fortunate candidate, and the society was so well pleased with his piece, that in a little time after, a Veterinary College was projected, over which that gentleman should preside. As soon as the proposal was known to Mr Hunter he eagerly joined it, urging the advantages which might be derived from it, not only to quadrupeds, but to man, by extending our knowledge of physiology and more especially of pathology. In order to forward the plan, several gentlemen, the duke of Bedford at their head, deposited £500 on the chance of its being never returned. Mr Hunter was one of the number. It was proposed that he should examine Mr Sergeant Bell, to which he readily assented. It will easily be conceived by those who are not at all acquainted with the continental pathology of those days, that the examination proved unsatisfactory. Mr Hunter would have gladly introduced another gentleman; but this did not at all lessen his zeal in promoting the object of the institution." Such was the origin of his connexion with the London Veterinary College, of which he now became one of the vice-presidents.

In the transactions of the Society for improving Medical Knowledge, of which Mr Hunter was one of the original and most zealous members, he published about this period papers on the Treatment of Inflamed Veins, on Introsusception, and on a mode of conveying food into the stomach in cases of paralysis of the esophagus. He likewise finished his Observations on the Economy of Bees, and presented them to the Royal Society. These observations he finished at Earl’s Court, which was his place of retirement from the toils of his profession, but by no means a retreat from those intellectual labours which diversified the whole tenor of his life. "It was there," says Sir Everard Home, "he carried on his experiments on digestion, on exfoliation, on the transplanting of teeth into the combs of cocks, and all his other investigations on the animal economy, as well in health as in disease. The common bee was not alone the subject of his observation, but the wasp, hornet, and the less known kinds of bees were also objects of his attention. It was there he made the series of preparations of the external and internal changes of the silk worm; also a series of the incubation of the egg, with a very valuable set of drawings of the whole series. The growth of vegetables was also a favourite subject of inquiry, and one on which he was always engaged making experiments. In this retreat he had collected many kinds of animals and birds, and it was to him a favourite amusement in his walks to attend to their actions and to their habits, and to make them familiar with him. The fiercer animals were those to which he was most partial, and he had several of the bull kind from all parts of the world. Among these was a beautiful small bull he had received from the queen, with which he used to wrestle in play, and entertain himself with its exertions in its own defence. In one of these contests the bull overpowered him and got him down, and had not one of the servants accidentally come by, and frightened the animal away, his frolic would probably have cost him his life." [Life of John Hunter, by Sir Everard Home.] The pleasure which a man of high intellectual endowments, and refined sensibility, takes in watching the habits, and in a manner sympathizing with the feeling exhibited by the lower classes of animals, constitutes one of the most amiable and noble features which his disposition can pourtray, and doubtless must give rise to some of the finest and most generous feelings of which human nature is susceptible. Man is in all cases the representative, or rather the repetition of mere man, and in the sufferings of one of his own species he sees reflected as in a mirror the miseries he himself may possibly have to endure; wherefore the chords of pity are by a latent feeling of self-interest vibrated, and he enters into commiseration with his fellow man; but to extend his thoughts and feelings beyond the possible range of his own experience to the commonly despised, or perhaps maltreated lower animals, manifests a high and generous tone of feeling independent of all such collateral selfishness, and in perfect consonance with the most elevated principles of Christian philosophy. Here then we have before us the instance of a philosopher whose profound knowledge had already, in no trifling degree, contributed to the advancement of science and the benefit of the human race, familiarizing himself and with child-like simplicity playing with animals, which, although of a lower order of classification, possess senses as acute, feelings as strong, and necessities as urgent as our own, and which, by their complex and equally perfect organization, prove themselves to be as much the subjects of divine care,—and in their own spheres as important in carrying out and completing the great scheme of the universe.

We have thus already traced the life of John Hunter from youth to middle age; from obscurity to eminence; from adversity to prosperity; and it remains for us now to notice those accessions of disease which rendered the tenure of his life one of extreme uncertainty. We have already stated that in the spring of 1769, he was confined to bed by a serious illness,—an acute attack of gout, which returned the three following springs, but not the fourth. In the spring of 1773, he became affected with very severe spasmodic symptoms, owing to disease of the heart. His next illness took place in 1776, and this appears to have been occasioned by inflammation in the arteries of the brain, which gave rise to morbid appearances that were recognized after death. It is said that this attack was occasioned by mental anxiety, arising from the circumstance of his being obliged to pay a large sum of money for a friend for whom he had become security, and which his circumstances rendered extremely inconvenient. After, on this occasion taking certain refreshments, and feeling relieved, he ventured on attempting a journey of eight miles in a post-chaise; but he became so much worse that he was obliged to go to bed, and was afterwards brought home in a post-chaise. The determination of blood to the head in particular, gave rise to many very remarkable symptoms. When he went to bed he felt giddy, and experienced a sensation of being suspended in the air. This latter painful feeling increased. The least motion of his head upon the pillow seemed to be so great that he scarcely dared attempt it. If he but moved his head half round, it appeared to be moving from him with great velocity. The idea he had of his own size was that of being only two feet long; and when he drew up his foot or pushed it down, it seemed to be moving a vast way. His sensations became extremely acute or heightened; he could not bear the least light, a curtain and blanket were obliged to be hung up before it, and the bed curtains closely drawn. He kept his eyes firmly closed, but if a candle was only passed across the room he could not bear it. His hearing was also painfully acute; as was likewise his sense of smell and of taste; every thing he put into his mouth appearing of a higher flavour than natural. After being bled, and subjected to other reducing treatment, he recovered from this severe attack; but his constitution had received a shock, which nothing could surmount. An organic disease lurked within, which every excitement would aggravate, if not lead to direct and suddenly fatal consequences. He had no particular illness, however, from this period until 1785, "although," says Sir Everard Home, "he appeared much altered in his looks, and gave the idea of being much older than could be accounted for from the number of years which had elapsed." The physiognomy of death is often impressed on the features of the living, for some time before the fatal event occurs which severs them from their relations with the world. So was it with John Hunter;—but in the beginning of the April of this latter year, he became attacked with a dreadfully severe spasmodic disease, which, like his similar attacks, was induced by mental anxiety. His feet, his hands, and then his chest became successively affected; and in effect the extension of the spasm became so considerable that he repeatedly swooned. "I was with him," says his accomplished brother-in-law, "during the whole of this attack, and never saw any thing equal to the agonies which he suffered; and when he fainted away I thought him dead, as the pain did not seem to abate, but to carry him off, having first completely exhausted him." Such were the intense sufferings he endured: nevertheless, he rallied, and partially recovered, nor did any thing of the kind particularly recur until the December of 1789, when at the house of a friend he became afflicted by a total loss of memory. He did not know in what part of the town he was; nor even the name of the street when told it; nor where his own house was, nor had he any conception of any place existing beyond the room he was in, yet in the midst of all this was he perfectly conscious of the loss of memory. He was sensible of impressions of all kinds from the senses, and therefore looked out of the window, although rather dark, to see if he could be made sensible of the situation of the house; at length this loss of memory gradually went off, and in less than half an hour his memory was perfectly recovered. About a fortnight afterwards when visiting a patient, an attack, somewhat of a similar nature, recurred; and during this illness he was attended by Dr Pitcairn and Dr Bathe. Amidst all the diseases and sufferings to which the living body is subjected, the changes which in an especial manner affect the mind, are interesting to all—whether professional or non-professional. His mental impressions during this attack were lively, indeed, often disagreeably so. His dreams had so much the strength of reality that they often awakened him; but the remembrance of them remained perfect.

"The sensation," says Sir Everard Home, "which he had in his head was not pain, but rather so unnatural as to give him the idea of having no head. The organs of sense (as in the former illness,) were painfully acute. He could not endure the light; and every thing had a yellow cast. Sounds were louder than natural, and every object had lost its true direction, leaning, as nearly as he could guess, to an angle of fifty or sixty-degrees. His recovery from this attack was less perfect than from any other; he never lost the obliquity of vision; and his memory became much impaired. The recurrence too of the spasms became more frequent. The slightest exertion induced them. He never went to bed without their being brought on by the act of undressing himself;—they came on during the middle of the night;—the least excitement in conversation was attended by them; and even operations in surgery, if requiring any nicety, occasioned them. It is remarked by Sir Everard Home, that as his mind was irritated by trifles, these produced the most violent effects on his disease. "His coachman," says he, "being beyond his time, or a servant not attending to his directions, brought on the spasms, while a real misfortune produced no such effect. He thus continued to drag on a painful and precarious existence, with the grave every moment threatening to open beneath his feet. At length the fatal event so long anticipated by his friends occurred; it was sudden; and occasioned, as his former fits had been, by mental excitement. The circumstances by which this was occasioned, are thus detailed by Dr Adams, who had a personal knowledge of them. "A law," says he, "concerning the qualifications required for the admission of pupils, had been carried contrary to the wishes of Mr Hunter. At this time he was applied to by a youth ignorant of the new regulation and consequently unprovided with any documents. His former residence was at a great distance, and he was anxious not to lose time during an expensive stay in London, in fitting himself for professional service. Mr Hunter, to relieve himself from the irksomeness of pleading or explaining, requested the case might be drawn up in the form of a letter addressed to himself. This he proposed to bring with him at the meeting of the next board. Notwithstanding this great caution, however, he felt the probability of a contest which he might prove unable to support. On the succeeding day the writer of this, (Dr Adams,) had a very long conversation with him, in which we were insensibly led to his complaint; a subject of all others the most interesting to his friends, and on which he never was backward in conversing. He was willing to hear every argument against the probable existence of an organic infirmity; but it was easy to see that his own opinion remained the same. Nor did he fail on this occasion, to revert to the effect which it had on his temper. On the following day, I am informed from good authority, he told a baronet, who called on him in the morning, that he was going to the hospital; that he was fearful some unpleasant rencounter would ensue, and if such should be the case, he knew it must be his death." Notwithstanding this presentiment, he chose to hazard the event, for the purpose of defending a youth, against what appeared to him an oppressive and unjust regulation. The generosity of such a motive is the best apology for the indiscretion in attending the meeting, at which such fatal consequences were, even by himself, apprehended. "On the 16th October," says Sir Everard Home, when in his usual state of health, he went to St George’s hospital, and meeting with something which irritated his mind, and not being perfectly master of the circumstances, he withheld his sentiments; in which state of restraint he went into the next room, and turning round to Dr Robinson, one of the physicians to the hospital, he gave a deep groan, and dropped down dead." His body was conveyed from the hospital in a sedan chair, and underwent a careful medical examination, by which it appeared that among other morbid changes that had occurred, the arteries both of the heart and brain had undergone ossification. His funeral was attended by a few of his oldest medical friends, and his remains interred in the vault under the parish church of St Martin’s in the Fields. He expired, it may be added, in his sixty-fifth year, the same age, at which his brother Dr William Hunter died.

We have now noticed seriatim the principal events which characterized the life of this eminent surgeon, and throughout them we notice the manifestation of great mental energy, combined with considerable powers of originality. His early education had it is true been grievously neglected; but this very fact left him at liberty to explore more freely new and untrodden paths, which men shackled by scholastic dogmas, and bowing with undue reverence to preexisting authorities, seldom have the courage to attempt. With such men the deviation from established rules is regarded as a species of heterodoxy; and their learning, therefore, chains them down to a fixed and never improving system. Thus it was with the majority of physicians who embraced, and then promulgated ex cathedra, the doctrines of Galen, Boerhaave, Stahl, and others; but it was otherwise with John Hunter; he was of no school; he went with an unprejudiced mind to nature, and examined into all her operations with that freedom and independence which can alone advance the true interests of philosophy. He read very little. "I have learned," says one of his biographers, "from a gentleman who was very intimate with him, that when he had made a discovery, it was his custom to relate it to Mr Cruickshanks, who frequently informed him that Haller had made the same observation before." In every department of science, and even in general literature, such coincidence of observation will often occur; and these too frequently have given rise to charges of wilful plagiarism, of which the suspected author was never guilty. John Hunter was a man of truly original observation; and distinguished himself as much by the practical application of his knowledge, as by the ingenious theories which he adopted. As a surgeon, he was a bold but judicious, a quick yet skilful operator; and suggested many improvements in the mode of performing difficult operations. He discovered the method of operating for popliteal aneurism by taking up the femoral artery on the anterior part of the thigh without interfering with the tumour in the ham, by which the pain, and danger, and future sufferings of the patient are materially mitigated. This indeed ranks among the most important of the improvements which have recently been introduced into the practice of surgery. It may be added, that John Hunter always held the showy part of surgery in the lowest estimation. "To perform an operation," said he, "is to mutilate a patient whom we are unable to cure; it should therefore be considered as an acknowledgment of the imperfection of our art." How different a sentiment is this from that entertained by some eminent surgeons, who, with much surgical skill but little humanity, recommend operations at the risk of the patient’s life, and handle the knife, when in the public theatre, rather with the view of exhibiting their own dexterous manipulation, than with that of relieving the condition of the unfortunate being who writhes beneath the torture which is so coolly and ostentatiously inflicted.

In the former part of our memoir we adverted to the difficulties which this eminent surgeon experienced for some years in struggling against those pecuniary adversities, which seem in an especial manner to oppress men of superior mental endowments. But the subsequent tenor of his career teaches a lesson which cannot too strongly be inculcated;—that resolution, industry, and perseverance, will in the end baffle the evil genius which seems at first to throw thorns and impediments around our path. During the first eleven years of his practice, which, it must be admitted, was for him a long and tedious mental probation, his income never amounted to a thousand pounds a year; however, the four succeeding years it exceeded that sum; and for several years previous to his death, it increased to five, and was at that period six thousand pounds a year. Whatever difficulties, therefore, at first beset his progress were eventually surmounted; he attained the highest rank in his profession; he was universally esteemed and extolled as a man of general science; he had as much practice as he could attend to; his emoluments were considerable; and if we raise up the curtain of domestic life, we shall find him cheered by the society of a wife whom he loved; whose superior mental accomplishments rendered her a fine companion even for a man of his elevated scientific rank; besides all which, he was the parent of two children, in whom, it was natural that his best hopes and warmest affections should be centered. "Nor," says Dr Adams, "was he insensible of these blessings; he has often told me, that if he had been allowed to bespeak a pair of children, they should have been those with which providence had favoured him." But the cup of human enjoyment seldom mantles to the brim without containing some drops of alloying bitterness; and there is no doubt but that professional anxieties and ill health rendered his temper irritable and impetuous. He was, says Sir Everard Home, readily provoked, and when irritated not easily soothed. His disposition was candid and free from reserve, even to a fault. He hated deceit, and as he was above every kind of artifice, he detested it in others, and too openly avowed his sentiments. His mind was uncommonly active; it was naturally formed for investigation, and that turn displayed itself on the most trivial occasions, and always with mathematical exactness. What is curious, it fatigued him to be long in mixed company which did not admit of connected conversation, more particularly during the last ten years of his life. He required less relaxation than other men; seldom sleeping more than four hours in the night, but almost always nearly an hour after dinner; this probably arose from the natural turn of his mind being so much adapted to his own occupations, that they were in reality his amusements, and therefore did not fatigue.

We have already seen how much time, even amidst his arduous professional toils and miscellaneous pursuits, he devoted to comparative anatomy, and in collecting preparations to illustrate every department of that interesting science. The museum which he succeeded in founding, remains to this day a monument of his industry, perseverance, and ingenuity. Here we find arranged, in a regular order of progressive classification every species of animate being, or link in the chain of organization, from the lowest vegetable, in which life can be scarcely recognized, up to man; but no account or description, however minute, can do adequate justice to such a collection. By his will he left it, under the discretion of his executors, to be sold for the benefit of his family, in one entire lot, to the government of Great Britain; or in case of refusal, to any other government or state which would offer such a price for it, as all parties might consider reasonable. Six years after his death, it was purchased by the British parliament for fifteen thousand pounds, and given to the College of Surgeons, on condition that twenty-four lectures should be delivered annually to members of the college, and that under certain regulations it should be open to the public. We thus find that, while his elder brother completed a museum which does honour to the university in which it is preserved, the younger, by his industry and perseverance, completed another, which has been pronounced by the most competent judges to be an honour to his country. How practical a lesson does this afford of the prodigious achievements which may be accomplished by the sustained perseverance and labours of a single individual!

In personal appearance, John Hunter was much below the ordinary middle stature; but his body was well formed for muscular exertion, and when in health he was always extremely active. His countenance was open, and although impressed with lines of thought, was by no means habitually severe; on the contrary, its expression soon softened into tenderness, or became lighted up by mirth, according as the impression swept across his mind. When Lavater saw his print, he said "That man thinks for himself," an opinion which the whole tenor of his actions will be seen to have verified. An admirable portrait of him was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, of which a spirited engraving was executed by Mr Sharpe. A bust also of him was modeled by a Mr Bacon, in the modeling of which he was assisted by a cast taken during life. He was quick in manner, and "in conversation," says Sir Everard Home, "spoke too freely and harshly of his contemporaries;" but this, we are given to understand, arose rather from his conviction that surgery was still in its infancy, than from any uncharitable motive, or wish to depreciate his contemporaries. From almost the earliest periods in society, medical men have been stigmatized for displaying the "odium medicum;" but the fact is, that men educated to the practice of an art, the principles of which are not cognizable to the public, are apt to treat with intolerance the pretensions of men who, they have reason to know, notwithstanding they may have crept into a certain degree of favour, are ignorant perhaps of the most elementary principles of their profession. The observations of John Hunter, even on casual occasions, were often remarkably pointed, and significant of his very acute and discriminating mental powers. On one occasion, having been heard to express regret that we must all die, a physician present took advantage of the opportunity to inquire whether it was true that his brother had in his last moments expressed how "pleasant a thing it is to die?" to which he immediately replied, "’tis poor work when it comes to that," evidently insinuating a doubt as to the moral correctness of any such sentiments, which, as we have before hinted, we regard as a rash declaration, incompatible with the sufferings, condition, and mysterious, yet infinitely important prospects of any man on the brink of that future world, which, seriously regarded, must suggest reflections of a very different, and far more solemn nature. Few men were more generous than John Hunter, and the only fault which can impugn his memory is, that in executing his designs for the benefit of science, he neglected too much the interests of his wife and children. It is to be regretted that the ambition of being serviceable to mankind, should hurry any man away from the more immediate consideration of the wants and condition of his own family; for not all the advantages conferred on posterity, nor all the fame that is trumpeted abroad in his honour, can compensate for a single pang of that widowed bosom which, from such neglect, may have to endure the keen and bitter sorrows of unpitied poverty. We say this without disparagement to the many excellent qualities which distinguished the character of John Hunter, a name which will be ever highly esteemed in the annals of British surgery.

We cannot, however, conclude this memoir without pausing to notice more fully the estimable qualities of the lady to whom it was his good fortune to be united. She possessed personal attractions of the highest order; "into whatever assembly she entered," says one who appears to have been acquainted with her, "the delicacy of her face, with the commanding grace of her person, gave her a peculiar air of distinction, and seldom failed to attract attention. But she never ascribed to her own merit the notice she received in society; feeling herself the wife of a celebrated man, she was fond of imputing the attention she received to the influence of his character; doing injustice to herself from a generous pride of owing every thing to him; and she never appeared so much gratified by attention as when she supposed it was shown to her for his sake." The same competent authority states, that "during her husband’s life they lived in a liberal and hospitable manner. Mr Hunter was too much devoted to science to attend much to his worldly affairs, and too careless of money to be rich. He did not leave his family in affluence, yet so circumstanced that his widow always supported a most respectable appearance, and was visited by the first society." We repeat that we do not think that any man’s devotion to science affords the slightest apology or ground of excuse for leaving those to whom he should be bound by the most sacred ties of attachment, in neglected circumstances. On the death of her husband, Mrs John Hunter withdrew from society, and spent her life almost entirely in retirement. After a lingering illness, which she bore with much patience and resignation, she died on 7th January, 1821, in the 79th year of her age, leaving behind her a son and daughter, the former a major in the army, and the latter the widow of general Campbell, son of the late Sir James Campbell of Inverneil.

Besides her many amiable domestic qualifications, to which all who knew her bore testimony, she was exceedingly accomplished; and occasionally during her husband’s lifetime, mingled in society with Horace Walpole, Mrs Carter, Mrs Vesey, and other characters well known in the literary world. She sang and played with admirable taste, and had a talent for poetry which she chiefly displayed in the production of songs and poems, which were characterized by much refinement of thought, sensibility of feeling, and delicacy of expression. Among the former, "The Son of Alknomook" and "Queen Mary’s Lament," became extremely popular; among the latter, her verses "On November, 1784," a beautiful address to fancy, under the title of "La Douce Chimere," with several other minor poems, display much feeling and imagination. [She collected her poems and songs and published them in a small volume in the year 1806.] We cannot conclude this memoir more appropriately than by transcribing the following little poem of hers, not that we have selected it as a specimen of her general poetical power, but because it was for the first time published in the Scots Magazine for March, 1821, and may not, on that account, be generally known:--


How many lift the head, look gay, and smile,
Against their consciences?—Young.

When hope lies dead within the heart,
By secret sorrow close concealed,
We shrink, lest looks or words impart
What must not be revealed.

‘Tis hard to smile when one could weep,
To speak when one would silent be;
To wake when one should wish to sleep,
And wake to agony.

Yet such the lot by thousands cast,
Who wander in this world of care,
And bend beneath the bitter blast,
To save them from despair.

But nature waits her guests to greet,
Where disappointment cannot come,
And time guides with unerring feet
The weary wanderers home.

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