Page images

In the 26th year of his age, he began the study of medicine, at Tubingen, under those eminent teachers Duvernay and Camerarius, and continued there for the space of two years, when the great reputation of the justly celebrated Boerhaave drew him to Leyden. Nor was this distinguished teacher the only man from whose superior abilities he had there an opportunity of profiting. Ruysch was still alive, and Albinus was rising into fame. Animated by such examples, he spent all the day, and the greatest part of the night in the most intense study, and the proficiency which he made, gained him universal esteem, both from his teachers and fellow-students. From Holland, in the year 1727, he went over to England, where he made but a short stay, it being rather his intention to visit the illustrious men of that country, than to prosecute his studies at London. After his vifit to Britain, he went to France, and there, under these eminent masters, Winslow and Le Dran, with the latter of whom he resided during his stay in Paris, he had opportunities of prosecuting anatomy, which he had not before enjoyeď. But the zeal of our young anatomist, was greater than the prejudices of the people, at that period, even in the enlightened city of Paris, could admit of. An information being lodge ed against him to the police for dissecting dead bodies, he was obliged to cut short his anotomical investigations by.a precipitate retreat. Still, however, intent on the farther prosecution of his studies, he went to Basil, where he became å pupil to the celebrated Bernouille.

Thus instructed by the lectures of the most distinguished teaệhets of that period, by uncommon natural abilities, and by unremitting industry, he returned to the place of his nativity in the 26th year of his age. Soon after this, he offered himself a candidate, first for the office of physician to an hospital, and afterwards for a professorship. But neither the character, which he had, before he left his country, nor

the fame which he had acquired and supported, while abroad, were sufficient to combat the interest opposed to him. He was disappointed in both, and it was even with difficulty, that he obtained, in the following year, the appointment of keeper of a public library, at Bern. The exercise of this office was, indeed, by no means suited to his great abilities; but it was agreeable to him, as it afforded him an opportunity for that extensive reading, by which he has been so justly distinguished. The neglect of his merit, which marked his first outset, neither diminished his ardour for medical pursuits, nor detracted from his repatation either at home or abroad ; for he was soon after nominated a professor in the university of Gottengen, by king George II. The duties of this important office, he discharged with no less honour to himself than advantage to the public, for the space of 17 years ; and it afforded him an ample field for the exertion of those great talents, which he possessed. Extensively acquainted with the sentiments of others respecting the economy of the human body, struck with the diversity of opinions, which they held, and sensible, that the only means of investigating truth was by careful and candid experiments, he undertook the arduous task of exploring the phenomena of human nature from the original source. In these pursuits he was no less industrious than successful, and there was hardly any function of the body, on which his experiments did not reflect either a new or a stronger light. Nor was it long necessary for him, in this arduous undertaking to labour alone. The example of the preceptor inspired his pupils with the spirit of industrious exertion. Tenn, Timmerman, Caldani and many others, animated by a generous emulation laboured with indefatigable industry to prosecute and to perfect the discoveries of their great master, and the mutual exertions of the teacher and his students not only tended to forward the progress of medical science, but placed the philosophy of the human body, on a more sure and almost entirely new basis.

But the labours of Dr. Haller, during his residence at Gottingen, were by no means confined to any one department of science. He was not more anxious to be an improver himself than to instigaté others to similar pursuits. To him the Anatomical Theatre, the School of Midwifery, the Chirurgical Society, and the Royal Academy of Sciences at Gottingen owe their origin. Such distinguished merit could not fail to meet with a suitable reward from the sovereign, under whose protection he then taught. The king of Great Britain, not only honoured him with every mark of attention, which he himself could bestow, but procured him also letters of nobility from the Emperor. On the death of Delanius, he had an offer of the professorship of botany at Oxford: the states of Holland invited bim to the chair of the younger Albinus; the king of Prussia was anxious that he should be the successor of Maupertius at Berlin. Marshal Keith wrote to him in the name of his soverign, offering him the chancellorship of the university of Hull, vacant by the death of the celebrated Wolff. Count Orlow invited him to Russia, in the name of his mistress the empress, assuring him a distinguished place at St. Petersburgh; and the king of Sweden conferred on him an unsolicited honor, by raising him to the rank of knighthood of the order of the polar star.

Thus honored by princes, revered by men of literature, and esteemed by all Europe, he had it in his power to have held the highest rank in the republic of letters. Yet declining all the tempting offers which were made to him, he continued at Gottingen, anxiously endeavoring to extend the rising fame of that medical school. But after 17 years residence in that university, an ill state of health rendering him less fit for the duties of his important office, he obtained permission from the regency of Hanover to return to his native city of Bern. His fellow.citizens, who might, at first, have fixed him amongst themselves, with no less honor than advantage to their city, were now as sensible as others of his superior merit. A pension was settled upon him for life, and he was nominated at different times, to fill the most important offices in the state. These occupations, however, did not diminish his ardor for useful improvements. He was the first president, as well as the greatest promoter of the æconomical society at Bern ; and he may be considered as the father and founder of the Orphan Hospital of that city. Declining health, however, restrained his exertions in the more active scenes of life, and, for many years, he was confined entirely to his own house. Even this, however, could not put a stop to his utility; for, with indefatigable industry, he continued his favorite employment of writing till within a few days of his death, which happened in the 70th year of his age, in December, 1777. His “ Elementa Physiologiæ,” and “ Bibliotheca. Medicinæ,” will afford to latest posterity, undeniable proofs of his intense application, penetrating genius, and solid judgment. But he was not more distinguished as a physician and a philosopher than for his sincere piety to God and love to mankind; and on the whole, he is supposed to have been the most acute, various, and original genius, which has appeared in the medical world since Boerhaave.

HANDEL (GEORGE FREDERIC) an illustrious master of music, was born at Hull, a city of Upper Saxony in Germany, February 24, 1684. During his infancy, young Handel is said to have amused himself with musical instruments, and to have made considerable progress before he was seven years of age, without any instructor. His propensity for music at last became so strong, that his father, who designed him for the civil law, thought proper, even at this early period to forbid him to touch any musical instrument.

Notwithstanding this prohibition, however, Handel found means to get a little clavichord, privately conveyed to a room in the uppermost story of the house, to which he constantly stole when the family were asleep, and thus made such advances in the art as enabled him to play on the harpsichord.

His father had gone to visit another of his sons, who resided with the duke of Saxe Weisenfels, and young

Handel who was then in his seventh year accompanied him. While he was in the duke's court he still continued to shew the same inclination for music, and he used frequently to get into the organ loft at church and play after divine service was over. On one of these occasions, the duke happening to go out later than usual, found something so uncommon in Handel's manner of playing, and was so much captivated with his musical genius that he persuaded his father to let him follow the bent of his inclinations.

Upon his return to Hull, Handel was placed under one Tackaw, the organist of the cathedral church, and our young musician was even then able to supply his master's place in his absence. At nine years of age he began to compose church services for voices and instruments, and so great was his progress, that at the age of 14, he greatly excelled his master. About that time he went to Berlin, were his abilities so recommended him to the king, that he proposed to send him into Italy under his own patronage,

and to take him under his immediate protection, as soon as his studies should be completed. But Handel's parents not thinking proper to submit their son to the caprice of the king, declined the offer, upon which it became necessary for him to return to Hull.

Soon after his arrival, his father died, and his mother being left in narrow circumstances, her son tho't it necessary to procure some scholars, and to accept

« PreviousContinue »