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Their first child, the subject of this memoir, after receiving the rudiments of education in his native city, was sent to the grammar school of the late Dr. Alexander M’Whorter, at Newark, New Jersey, about the year 1783, where he pursued the study of languages, &c. until 1784, when he was removed to the school of Dr. Peter Wilson, at Hackensack, for the purpose of obtaining an accurate knowledge of the Greek tongue, in teaching which Dr. Wilson had acquired distinguished reputation.
In 1786, Mr. Hosack entered as a pupil in Columbia college, where he remained two and a half years; he then proceeded to Nassau Hall, Princeton, then under the presidency of the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon. Here he finished his course of collegiate studies, and received the degree of bachelor of arts in the fall of 1789.
During the last year of his attendance at Columbia college, he had commenced the study of medicine and surgery, under the direction of the late Richard Bayley: while at Princeton, these studies were intermitted, but immediately resumed after his graduation, and exclusively continued with great assiduity. Medical instruction at that period in New York, was imparted by private teachers: the faculty of medicine, which had existed prior to the revolution, in King's (now Columbia) college, not having been reorganized. Nevertheless, the pupil enjoyed favorable opportunities of becoming well instructed in all the practical branches of a medical education. At that time an excellent course of lectures was delivered by Dr. Richard Bayley and by Dr. Wright Post, upon Anatomy and Surgery; Dr. Nicholas Romayne lectured upon the practice of physic, the materia medica, chemistry, and botany; Dr. Samuel Bard delivered a practical course of instruction upon obstetrics and the diseases of women and children. At the same time too, the alms-house, then located in the city of New York, on the site now occupied by the city hall, was attended by Dr. Nicholas Romayne, Dr. William Moore, and Dr. Benjamin Kissam, as physicians, and by Dr. Post as surgeon of the establishment Under their care, this infirmary was rendered a profitable school of practical instruction to the students of medicine and surgery; while the sick received all the benefits of the abilities and education of the distinguished physicians by whom they were visited in rotation. The cases were regularly recorded, and the prescriptions entered by the clerk of the house, selected from the students, in the same manner as is pursued in the infirmary of Edinburgh. These cases were afterward made the subjects of clinical lectures by the physicians in attendance.
The subject of this memoir not only gave daily attendance at this school, but enjoyed more immediate advantages as one of the clerks of the prescribing physicians.
Solicitous of further improvement, he afterwards proceeded to the city of Philadelphia, which had great reputation from its distinguished professors, Shippen, Rush, Hutchinson, Kuhn, Wistar, Bar-, ton, and Griffiths. After attendance upon a full course of lectures, and the practice of the hospital of that city, the University of Pennsylvania conferred upon him, in 1791, the degree of M. D., upon which occasion he wrote a dissertation on Cholera Morbus, in which he defended the peculiar doctrines on that subject taught by Dr. Kuhn. He also, during the same winter, attended the lectures of Dr. Rush, the professor of the theory and practice in the college of Philadelphia, - which was a rival medical school, to that of the university-availing himself at the same time of the benefits of a course of lectures on practical anatomy, by the late Dr. Foulke.
By the advice of his friend, Dr. Rush, in whose family he had become domesticated, and who always took a deep interest in the welfare of his pupils, Dr. Hosack undertook the practice of his profession in Alexandria, D. C., but after a year's residence there, although in that time he had a full share of the practice of the town, he returned to his native city, taking with him the warmest testimonials of approbation from the public authorities, and of the most distinguished private citizens.
Upon his return to New York in the spring of 1792, a number of deaths by drowning having occurred, he wrote and published an essay on the means of restoring life in cases of suspended animation, and succeeded in obtaining the coöperation of the corporation of the city in the establishment of a humane society. We shall avail ourselves of the language of a communication on this subject from a contemporary,* and, if we mistake not, a co-worker with Dr. Hosack in his benevolent projects; “But in the charities of life, in those services which carry comfort to the poor and distressed, was he eminently useful. To him the humane society is indebted for its establishment: when he first joined it, it was called the Jail society, and its services were confined to the supply of provisions to the prisoners confined in jail for debt; upon his suggestion, and through his instrumentality a charter was obtained extending the objects of
* General Jacob Morton, of New York.
its charity, and naming it the "Humane society;" a convenient soup house was erected with the funds of the institution, aided by the corporation; apparatus for the recovery of persons apparently drowned, were procured and distributed in several parts of the city. The services of the society were then extended to a relief of the respectable poor who chose to apply. In the severe winters with which our city has been visited, this institution was eminently and extensively useful. A general direction was also given to the matron of the house never to refuse an applicant; so that our city might have the proud boast that no one need perish of hunger."
A few weeks after Dr. Hosack's return to New York, finding the chief practice of the city in the hands of physicians who derived considerable reputation and the confidence of their fellow citizens from the circumstance of their having been educated abroad; and being animated by a desire of further and more extensive improvement, he resolved to repair to the medical schools of Edinburgh and London.
His father cheerfully assented to his views, and liberally gave him an unlimited credit. He accordingly repaired to the university ot' Edinburgh, then in the zenith of its reputation, and adorned by a constellation of the greatest men of that age. Here he had unceasing opportunities of improvement in the practice of medicine during the autumn and winter of 1792-3. His attendance, too, upon the royal medical and the royal physical societies of Edinburgh, of which he became a member, doubtless contributed greatly to his improvement.
His intercourse with the learned of Edinburgh was no less profitable. His acquaintance with the Rev. Dr. Erskine, Mr. Henry Mackenzie, the author of the "Man of Feeling," Dr. Charles Stuart, &c., added to the attentions he received from Principal Robertson, Professors Gregory, Hamilton, Duncan, and others, could not fail to have greatly enlarged his views, professional and literary, and thus to have laid the foundation of that devotedness to those pursuits which he ever after manifested, and for which he has been distinguished.
In the spring of 1793 Dr. HosACK visited the birth-place of his father, in the north of Scotland. In this tour, carrying with him letters of introduction from Professors Gregory, Stewart, and others, he became acquainted with some of the most distinguished philosophers of that country. Principal Campbell, of Mareschal College, Aberdeen; Dr. Beattie; the Rev. Dr. Skeene Keith, of Keith Hall, the Dean Swift of Scotland ; James Brodie, of Brodie House, &c., were among the most eminent whose society and friendship he sought and acquired.
He then proceeded to London, where he was introduced by letters, to the patronage and friendship of Dr. Andrew Marshall, a distinguished teacher of anatomy and surgery, having been formerly the professor of humanity in the university of Edinburgh; to Dr. George Pearson, a physician of St. George's hospital, who was then zealously engaged as a lecturer on the practice of physic and on chemistry, and to whom the credit is due for the first introduction of the new French doctrines and chemical nomenclature of Lavoisier; to Mr. Curtis, author of the Flora Londinensis; to Sir James Edward Smith, the Linnæus of the day; and many other medical and literary characters of the metropolis.
Dr. Hosack's first step on his arrival in London, was to enter St. Bartholomew's hospital, as a pupil of surgery, under Sir James Earl and John Abernethy, the assistant surgeon of the same institution; he at the same time commenced the study of botany under Mr. Curtis, at the botanic garden at Brompton. Here he had the fortune to add to his acquaintance the Rev. Dr. Martyn, professor of botany at Cambridge ; the Rev. Dr. Goodenough, late the bishop of Carlisle, but still more distinguished as the vice-president of the Linnæan society, and author of the valuable monograph, published in the transactions of that society, on the genus carex. Dr. HosACK, also, with a class of amateurs, consisting of the late Drs. Babington, Smyth. Gibbes, and others, made weekly botanical excursions with Mr. Curtis, investigating the plants in the vicinity of London; and occasionally he gave his attention to the cryptogamous plants, under the direction of the celebrated Dickson, of Covent Garden, the "maximus in minimi s" as he was facetiously and appropriately called by his friends; such was his skill in his investigations of this minute tribe of plants. Dr. Hosack also attended the public lectures on botany and zoology delivered by Dr., the late Sir James Edward Smith, and enjoyed the privileges of his private instruction, in the examination of the genera and species comprising the Linnæan Herbarium.
Such was his progress in botany and natural history that he was introduced as a foreign member of the Linnæan society, of which he was subsequently elected a fellow. During his residence in London, he made known to Dr. George Pearson, some valuable facts relative to the communication of the virus of small pox from the mother to the fætus in utero, which he had observed while practising in Alexandria: these were published by Dr. Pearson, in his excellent paper on this subject, in the Commentaries of Dr. Duncan.
Upon the commencement of the medical lectures in the autumn, Dr. HozACK devoted himself to the dissecting room of Dr. Marshall; to lectures and the hospital; occasionally visiting the literary institutions of London. In the winter of 1793-4 he attended the first course of lectures on mineralogy that was delivered in London, by Schmeisser, the pupil of Werner. With this additional knowledge of mineralogy, which Dr. Hosack had begun to study at Edinburgh, he continued to augment the cabinet of minerals which he had commenced in Scotland. This collection was brought by him to the United States, and was, we believe, the first cabinet that crossed the Atlantic; it was afterward deposited in Princeton college, in rooms appropriated by the trustees, but fitted up at the expense of the donor, similar to those at the “Ecole des mines," at Paris: to render this donation immediately useful, it was accompanied by a collection of the most important works on mineralogy.*
In the winter of 1793-4, Dr. Thomas Young's paper on the muscularity of the chrystaline lens was read to the Royal Society, attributing to this power the capacity which the eye possesses of adapting itself to the different distances of objects. This subject attracted the notice of our young American physician. By an examination of the structure, and by various preparations of the chrystaline lens, he very soon discovered the errors of Dr. Young, and by his experiments upon the eye, made upon himself and others, and a minute dissection of the external muscles, ascertained that these last organs alone possessed the power of changing the axis of the eye according to the distances of objects observed. His views were exhibited to a number of scientific friends, who recommended him to present the paper to the Royal Society. It was read to that body by Dr. Pearson, and referred to a committee, who at the next meeting of the society, made a very elaborate report upon the whole subject and the peculiar
* The specimens were systematically arranged and marked by Dr. Hosack soon after his return from Europe, assisted by the late Dr. Archibald Bruce, who was then his private pupil, and whose attention was thus first awakened to the subject.