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judged it unncessary to take degrees in Parisytinless he had resolved to reside there; and as it was more expensive, he therefore went to the University of Rheims, in Champaign, where, by virtue of his attestations, he was immediately admitted to three examinations, as if he had finished his studies in that academy; and there was honoured with his degrees, June 11, 1736. In the July following he came to London, and was soon employed by Dr. James Douglas to assist him in his anatomical works, where in some time he began to practise physic.
He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1740; and, after due examination, was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians, April 1, 1751; paying college fees and bond stamps of different denominations to the amount of 41l. 2s 8d. subject also to quarterage of 21. per annum. In 1755 he paid a farther sum of 71. which, with the quarterage-money already paid, made up the sum of 161. in lieu of all future payments.”
Thus far from Dr. Parsons's own MS. On his arrival in London, by the recommendation of his Paris friends, Dr. Parsons was introduced to the acquaintance of Dr. Mead, Sir Hans Sloane, and Dr. James Douglas. This great Anatomist made use of his assistance, not only in his anatomical preparations, but also in his representations of morbid and other appearances, a list of several of which was in the hands of his friend Dr. Maty; who had prepared an Eloge on Dr. Parsons, which was never used; but which, by the favour of Mrs. Parsons, I am enabled to copy from the original manuscript *,
* “ Though Dr. Parsons cultivated the several branches of the profession of physick, he was principally employed in the obstetrical branch. He not only soon became an eminent practitioner in that way, but likewise read Lectures on the Structure of the Pelvis and Uterus, Generation, the Nutrition of the Foetus, * Hermaphrodites, Monstrous Births, the Diseases of Women in general before and after Delivery, the Art of Midwifry, with all its necessary operations, explained by proper Anatomical Preparations from Dr. Douglas's Collection. The first specimen (for
In 1738, by the interest of his friend Dr. Douglas, he was appointed physician to the public Infirmary
we don't reckon his Syllabus to these Lectures, intituled 'Elenchus Gudaico-Pathologicus') which Dr. Parsons gave of his abilities and medical erudition, was occasioned by a pretended Hermaphrodite brought over to London from the coast of Angola. The existence of human beings uniting in them the perfect characters and powers of both sexes, is an opinion conceived in ages of darkness and superstition, and supported by interest and imposture. In fact, none of them has hitherto stood the test of careful examination, and so far from being, like some insects and most plants, furnished with double organs, they have universally proved vitiated men or women. This is, and was long known to Anatomists ; yet as the vulgar, and amongst them perhaps people who ought to know better, may, or feign to be caught by the same appearances and impositions that seduced their ancestors, the attempt our Author made to undeceive them was by no means ill-judged. llis treatise was intituled, "A Mechanical and Critical Enquiry into the Nature of Hermaphrodites, by James Parsons, M. D. F. R. S. London, 1741,' in 8vo; with several figures engraved from his own drawings. This subject has been since treated by other writers, who have added but little to the Historical and Anatomical part of our Author's Treatise. short account of it, drawn up by himself, was inserted in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, of which, in May 1740, he had become a member. In one of the subsequent volumes he described another subject shewn in London as an Hermaphrodite, but which he proved to have been but an imperfect female, in ‘A Letter to the President,' Phil. Trans. vol: XLVII. p. 142. We likewise refer here to two other papers from our Author : ‘A Letter from Dr. James Parsons to Martin Folkes, Esq. President, containing an Account of a Præternas tural Conjunction of two Female Children, with Observations on Monstrous Productions; with Copper-plates; the Figures de. signed from the Subject by the Doctor, Phil. Trans. No. 489, p. 526 ; and · An Account of a Sheep having a monstrous Horn hanging from his Neck, Phil. Trans. vol. XLIX. p. 183.-Our Author seems to have collected many facts relative to Monsters, with a view of obliging the world with a new treatise; but we have found nothing sufficiently finished on that or any other subject. To his medical abilities our late friend added a scrupulous integrity and inflexible firmness when he thought he was right. This he shewed, in respect to the celebrated Mons. Le Cat of Rouen, whose Treatise upon the Senses he analysed for the Royal Society; Phil. Trans. No.466, p. 264. But Authors, like Beauties, are seldom perfectly pleased; for, though the account of the said Treatise was upon the whole flattering, yet as some mistakes were pointed out, especially with regard to the Newton ajan System of Colours, the French Anatomist wrote to the
in St. Giles's. In 1739 he married, at the parish church of St. Andrew, Holborn, Miss Elizabeth
Doctor some hasty and angry letters, which he answered in a decent but firm manner, and without giving up his judgment because he was the friend of the gentleman he had ventured to find fault with. The same love of truth engaged him, at the very time when Mrs. Stephens's medicines made the greatest noise, and met both with medical approbation and national reward, to resist the torrent, examine the evidence given in their favour, and produce several instances in which they failed. This book was published in the year 1742; and, besides the polemical part, contained a new description, and figures of the bladder and urinary passages. Speaking of Mrs. Stephens's remedy for the stone, Dr. Mead says, “Upon this subject, I refer the reader to a very useful book, published some years since by a skilful anatomist and physician; in which both the mischiefs done by this medicine, and the artifices employed to bring it into vogue, are set in a clear light.” Dr. Parsons was introduced to the Royal Society as a Naturalist, in 1743, by their President, the great Martin Folkes, esq. That gentleman chose our friend to help him in repeating the curious and nice experiments of Mons. Trembley on the Fresh Water Polype; an account of which, drawn by his masterly hand, was inserted in the Philosophical Transactions. He failed not to make the most honourable mention of his assistant; and passed a just encomium upon the elegant drawings made to illustrate his account. _Dr. Parsons likewise designed the figures for the plate of Mr. Freke's Ambe for setting Shoulder-bones, Phil. Trans. No. 470. Tab. 4. Two curious papers delivered the same year by Dr. Parsons had a place in that volume; the first was an account of the Phoca, Vitulus Marinus, or Sea Calf, shewed at Charing Cross, in Feb. 1742-3; Phil. Trans. No. 469, with figures ; another species of which he described ten years after, in ' A Dissertation upon the Class of Phocæ Marinæ.' Phil. Trans. vol. XLVII. part ii. p. 109. His second paper was 'A Letter to Martin Folkes, Esq. President of the Royal Society, containing the Natural History of the Rhinoceros; read June 9, 1743, Phil. Trans. No. 470, p. 523, with Figures. This being controverted in Gent. Mag. vol. XXXVIII. p. 208, the Doctor replied to it in the same volume, p. 268. His figures of this animal were particularly well received, as hitherto no good print of it had been published Mrs. Parsons had, in 1781, the beautiful painting of this animal, by the Doctor's hand; another painted by him was in Dr. Mead's Collection. The horn of the Rhinoceros is extremely remarkable, both on account of its position upon the nose, and a variety hinted at in the following line of Martial : Namque gravem gemino cornu sic extulit ursun.'
Reynolds ; by whom he had two sons and a daughter, who all died young. Dr. Parsons resided for
The reading indeed of this passage has been corrected by some learned Commentators; who, instead of supposing a bear to have been tossed up by a double horn, contended that two bears or two bulls were thrown up by a single one. But from a figure in the Prænestan Pavement, a medal of Domitian, a passage in Pausanias, and the testimony of Kolbe, who saw a Rhinoceros at the Cape of Good Hope, as well as from the inspection of some double horns in Sir Hans Sloane's and other gentlemen's Museums, our Author ascertained the matter of fact, and ingeniously, at least, accounted for it. In his opinion, the Rhinoceroses known to the Romans came all from Africa, and were double-horned; whereas most of those which have been from time to time shewn in Eurape were Asiatics, and single-horned. This explanation was adopted by Sir Hans Sloane himself; but, after all, we as yet know too little of this stupendous animal, to determine positively whether this variety be due to the climate, the age, or any other particular of his life - not to mention, that double horns from the East Indies are now actually existing in England. The honour which Dr. Parsons received on being appointed, by the Royal Society, to read the Crounian Lectures for several years, induced him to venture his Conjectures upon Muscular Motion; which he published in ‘A Supplement to Phil. Trans. 1745. Having overthrown the opinions of those who had gone before him (a task in this, as well as in many other physiological researches, by much the easiest) he endeavours to establish his own. This consists in attributing to the air, or an ethereal fluid, the infiation of the smallest muscular fibres, which he attempts to prove to be small tubes, running parallel with the nervous hollow fibrillæ, replete with that air, and discharging it into the muscular cells at the command of the will. This hypothesis, like all others, labours under many difficulties, and wants the support of facts. Our Author was himself sensible of this defect, and ingenuously confessed the invention of any more such systems to be a labour as much in vain as the punishment of Sisyphus. The publick were however obliged to him, for having added to his theory a good description of the womb, illustrated with some figures from his own dissections. Besides these Muscular Lectures, the volume for the year 1745 was enriched with three shorter, though perhaps not less curious, communications. The first contained a Specimen of his Researches into the Structure of Vegetable Seeds. Phil. Trans, No. 466, p. 264. The second described some Curious Pebbles, or Crystals, from Gibraltar, cut in irregular forms, and exquisitely polished by the hands of Nature. Ibid. No. 476, p. 463. And the third presented a View and accurate Description of an East Indian Deer called the Biggel. Ibid. No. 476, p. 465. Indostan Antelope. Pennant, Synops. Quadruped. 20. p. 29.The next year was still more fruitful in interesting productions.
many years in Red Lion-square, where he frequently
company and conversation of Dr. Siuke
Dr. Parsons seems to have been the first in London who gave musk with a liberal hand at the close of a fever long neglected, and attended with the worst symptoms. And his account of the case encouraged other practition rs to follow his example.
A singular Case of a malignant Fever cured by administering Musk in a considerable Quantity ;' Phil. Trans. No. 478, p. 75. That his researches in Natural Philosophy did not prevent his taking notice of curious observations in the different branches of his art, likewise appears from the following paper: 'An Account of some very extraordinary Tumours upon the head of a young labouring Man in Bartholomew's Hospital, with Figures drawn by the Doctor from the Life.' Phil. Trans. vol. L. part i. p. 396. Mrs. Parsons shewed me the fine original drawing by the Doctor's own hand. He likewise imparted to the publick 'An Account of the Effects from burying Cows with Quick Lime, which died of the Distemper among horned Cattle, with Observations. Phil. Trans. No. 480, p 224. In the following Number, Dr. Parsons illustrated a paper from a friend with one of his drawings, being Iwo figures of an extraordinary schirrous Uterus, illustrating Dr. Templeman's Account of the Patient he attended in the Infirmary of St. Andrew's Workhouse, drawn from the subject by Dr. Parsons; Phil. Trans. No. 481, p 285. He likewise obliged the late Bishop Lyttelton with two views of a beautiful Nautilus, inserted in Phil. Trans. No. 487, p. 320. It was a remark of Dr. Parsons, at a meeting of the Royal Society, that the cattle in the high grounds about Highgate, Hampstead, Mille hill, and Hendon, remained free from the infection, which had spread all about in the lower ground. He philosophically, as well as anatomically, accounted in a third paper for the Phænomenon of the Woman who partiy preserved the power of speaking, though deprived of a great Part of her Tongue. See 'A Physiological Account of the Case of Margaret Cutiing, who speaks distinctly, though she has lost the Apex and Body of her Tongue, with Explanations of the Phænomenon, addressed to the Royal Society, by James Parsons.' Phil. Trans. No.484, p. 627. Much was said of this woman in Gent. Mag. 1781, vol. LI. But his principal performance at that time was his · Human Physiognomy explained, in the Grounian Lectures on Muscular Motion for the year 1746, printed as a Supplement to the Transactions of that year, 1747, 4to. This Essay has the merit of originality, being an attempt to shew by what mechanism the several muscles of the face impress upon it the various sentiments of the soul, and mostly leave indelible traces of the reigning passions. It was favourably received abroad; and the celebrated Buffon, after having made an honourable mention of the author, borrowed from him his figures and his thoughts upon the subject. One of the papers which I mentioned before gave rise to a new work, “The Microscopical Theatre of Seeds, being a short View of the parti.