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den warm and urgent, and his friends at Utrecht, | grandsons, and a catalogue of the King of
though unwilling to be deprived of him, yet not zealous enough for the honour and advantage of their university, to endeavour to detain him by great liberality.
France's library, presented to him by the command of the King himself, and expressed some satisfaction on all these occasions; but soon diverted his thoughts to the more important consideration of his eternal state, into which he passed on the 31st of March, 1741, in the 73d year of his age.
At his entrance upon this new professorship, which was conferred upon him in 1715, he pronounced an oration upon the duty and office of a professor of polite literature; "De publici humanioris Disciplinæ professoris proprio officio et munere ;" and showed, by the usefulness and perspicuity of his lectures, that he was not confined to speculative notions on that subject, having a very happy method of accommodating his instructions to the different abilities and attainments of his pupils.
Nor did he suffer the public duties of this station to hinder him from promoting learning by labours of a different kind; for besides many poems and orations which he recited on different occasions, he wrote several prefaces to the works of others, and published many useful editions of the best Latin writers, with large collections of notes from various commentators.
He was twice rector, or chief governor of the university, and discharged that important office with equal equity and ability, and gained by his conduct in every station so much esteem, that when the professorship of history of the United Provinces became vacant, it was conferred on him, as an addition to his honours and revenues, which he might justly claim; and afterwards, as a proof of the continuance of their regard, and a testimony that his reputation was still increasing, they made him chief librarian, an office which was the more acceptable to him, as it united his business with his pleasure, and gave him an opportunity at the same time of superintending the library, and carrying on his stu
His abilities, which would probably have enabled him to have excelled in any kind of learning, were chiefly employed, as his station required, on polite literature, in which he arrived at very uncommon knowledge, which, however, appears rather from judicious compilations than original productions. His style is lively and masculine, but not without harshness and constraint, nor perhaps, always polished to that
Such was the course of his life, till, in his old age, leaving off his practice of walking and other exercises, he began to be afflicted with the scurvy, which discovered itself by very torment-purity which some writers have attained. He ing symptoms of various kinds; sometimes diswas at least instrumental to the instruction of turbing his head with vertigos, sometimes caus- mankind by the publication of many valuable ing faintness in his limbs, and sometimes attack-performances, which lay neglected by the greating his legs with anguish so excruciating, that all his vigour was destroyed, and the power of walking entirely taken away, till at length his left foot became motionless. The violence of his pain produced irregular fevers, deprived him of rest, and entirely debilitated his whole frame.
est part of the learned world; and, if reputation be estimated by usefulness, he may claim a higher degree in the ranks of learning than some others of happier elocution, or more vigorous imagination.
This tormenting disease he bore, though not without some degree of impatience, yet without any unbecoming or irrational despondency, and applied himself in the intermission of his pains to seek for comfort in the duties of religion.
He was a man of moderate stature, of great strength and activity, which he preserved by temperate diet, without medical exactness, and by allotting proportions of his time to relaxation and amusement, not suffering his studies to exhaust his strength, but relieving them by frequent intermissions; a practice consistent with the most exemplary diligence, and which he that omits will find at last, that time may be lost, like money, by unseasonable avarice.
In his hours of relaxation he was gay, and sometimes gave way so far to his temper, naturally satirical, that he drew upon himself the ill-will of those who had been unfortunately the subjects of his mirth; but enemies so provoked he thought it beneath him to regard or to pacify; for he was fiery, but not malicious, disdained dissimulation, and in his gay or serious hours preserved a settled detestation of falsehood. So that he was an open and undisguised friend or enemy, entirely unacquainted with the artifices of flatterers, but so judicious in the choice of friends, and so constant in his affection to them, that those with whom he had contracted familiarity in his youth, had for the greatest part his confidence in his old age.
While he lay in this state of misery he received an account of the promotion of two of his
The malice or suspicion of those who either did not know, or did not love him, had given rise to some doubts about his religion, which he took an opportunity of removing on his deathbed by a voluntary declaration of his faith, his hope of everlasting salvation from the revealed promises of God, and his confidence in the merits of our Redeemer, of the sincerity of which declaration his whole behaviour in his long illness was an incontestable proof; and he
concluded his life, which had been illustrious for many virtues, by exhibiting an example of true piety.
Of his works we have not been able to procure a complete catalogue: he published,
THOMAS SYDENHAM was born in the year 1624, at Windford Eagle in Dorsetshire, where his father, William Sydenham, Esq. had a large fortune. Under whose care he was educated, or in what manner he passed his childhood, whether he made any early discoveries of a genius peculiarly adapted to the study of nature, or gave any presages of his future eminence in medicine, no information is to be obtained. We must therefore repress that curiosity which would naturally incline us to watch the first attempts of so vigorous a mind, to pursue it in its childish inquiries, and see it struggling with rustic prejudices, breaking on trifling occasions the shackles of credulity, and giving proofs, in its casual excursions, that it was formed to shake off the yoke of prescription, and dispel the phantoms of hypothesis.
"Quintilianus," 2 vols. 4to.
"Poetæ Latini Minores," 2 v. 4to. "Buchanani Opera," 2 vols. 4to.
That the strength of Sydenham's understanding, the accuracy of his discernment, and ardour of his curiosity, might have been remarked from his infancy by a diligent observer, there is no reason to doubt. For there is no instance of any man, whose history has been minutely related, that did not in every part of life discover the same proportion of intellectual vigour; but it has been the lot of the greatest part of those who have excelled in science, to be known only by their own writings, and to have left behind them no remembrance of their domestic life, or private transactions, or only such memorials of particular passages as are, on certain occasions, necessarily recorded in public registers.
From these it is discovered, that at the age of eighteen, in 1642, he commenced a commoner of Magdalen-Hall in Oxford, where it is not probable that he continued long; for he informs us
Cum notis variorum.
| himself, that he was withheld from the university by the commencement of the war; nor is it known in what state of life he engaged, or where he resided during that long series of public commotion. It is indeed reported that he had a commission in the King's army, but no particular account is given of his military conduct; nor are we told what rank he obtained when he entered into the army, or when, or on what occasion, he retired from it.
It is, however, certain, that if ever he took upon him the profession of arms, he spent but few years in the camp; for in 1648 he obtained at Oxford the degree of bachelor of physic, for which, as some medicinal knowledge is necessary, it may be imagined that he spent some time in qualifying himself.
His application to the study of physic was, as he himself relates, produced by an accidental acquaintance with Dr. Cox, a physician eminent at that time in London, who in some sickness prescribed to his brother, and, attending him frequently on that occasion, inquired of him what profession he designed to follow. The young man answering that he was undetermined, the Doctor recommended physic to him, on what account, or with what arguments, it is not related; but his persuasions were so effectual, that Sydenham determined to follow his advice, and retired to Oxford for leisure and opportunity to pursue his studies.
It is evident that this conversation must have happened before his promotion to any degree in physic, because he himself fixes it in the interval of his absence from the university, a circumstance which will enable us to confute many false reports relating to Dr. Sydenham, which have been confidently inculcated, and implicitly believed.
It is the general opinion that he was made a
• Originally prefixed to the New Translation of
Dr. Sydenham's Works, by John Swan, M. D. of Physician by accident and necessity, and Sir Richard Blackmore reports in plain terms [Pre
Newcastle, in Staffordshire, 1742. H.
face to his Treatise on the Small Pox,] that he en- | his art, and travel for further instructions from gaged in practice without any preparatory study, one university to another?
or previous knowledge, of the medicinal sci- It is likewise a common opinion, that Sydenences; and affirms, that, when he was consult-ham was thirty years old before he formed his ed by him what books he should read to qualify resolution of studying physic, for which I can him for the same profession, he recommended discover no other foundation than one expresDon Quixote. sion in his dedication to Dr. Mapletoft, which seems to have given rise to it by a gross misinterpretation; for he only observes, that from his conversation with Dr. Cox to the publication of that treatise thirty years had intervened. Whatever may have produced this notion, or how long soever it may have prevailed, it is now proved beyond controversy to be false, since it appears that Sydenham, having been for some time absent from the university, returned to it in order to pursue his physical inquiries before he was twenty-four years old; for in 1648 he was admitted to the degree of bachelor of physic.
That he recommended Don Quixote to Blackmore we are not allowed to doubt; but the relater is hindered by that self-love which dazzles all mankind from discovering that he might intend a satire very different from a general censure of all the ancient and modern writers on medicine, since he might perhaps mean, either seriously or in jest, to insinuate that Blackmore was not adapted by nature to the study of physic, and that, whether he should read Cervantes or Hippocrates, he would be equally unqualified for practice, and equally unsuccessful in it.
Whatsoever was his meaning, nothing is more evident than that it was a transient sally of an in agination warmed with gayety, or the negligent effusion of a mind intent upon some other employment, and in haste to dismiss a troublesome intruder; for it is certain that Sydenham did not think it impossible to write usefully on medicine, because he has himself written upon it; and it is not probable that he carried his vanity so far, as to imagine that no man had ever acquired the same qualifications besides himself. He could not but know that he rather restored than invented most of his principles, and therefore could not but acknowledge the value of those writers whose doctrines he adopted and enforced.
That he engaged in the practice of physic without any acquaintance with the theory, or knowledge of the opinions or precepts of former writers, is undoubtedly false; for he declares, that after he had, in pursuance of his conversation with Dr. Cox, determined upon the profession of physic, he applied himself in earnest to it, and spent several years in the university [aliquot annos in academica palæstra,] before he began to practise in London.
Nor was he satisfied with the opportunities of knowledge which Oxford afforded, but travelled to Montpellier, as Desault relates [Dissertation on Consumptions,] in quest of farther information; Montpellier being at that time the most celebrated school of physic; so far was Sydenham from any contempt of academical institutions, and so far from thinking it reasonable to learn physic by experiments alone, which must necessarily be made at the hazard of life.
What can be demanded beyond this by the most zealous advocate for regular education? What can be expected from the most cautious and most industrious student, than that he should dedicate several years to the rudiments of
That such reports should be confidently spread, even among the contemporaries of the author to whom they relate, and obtain in a few years such credit as to require a regular confutation; that it should be imagined that the greatest physician of the age arrived at so high a degree of skill, without any assistance from his predecessors; and that a man eminent for integrity practised medicine by chance, and grew wise only by murder: is not to be considered without astonishment.
But, if it be, on the other part, remembered, how much this opinion favours the laziness of some, and the pride of others; how readily some men confide in natural sagacity, and how willingly most would spare themselves the labour of accurate reading and tedious inquiry; it will be easily discovered how much the interest of multitudes was engaged in the production and continuance of this opinion, and how cheaply those, of whom it was known that they practised physic before they studied it, might satisfy themselves and others with the example of the illustrious Sydenham.
It is therefore in an uncommon degree useful to publish a true account of this memorable man, that pride, temerity, and idleness may be deprived of that patronage which they have enjoyed too long; that life may be secured from the dangerous experiments of the ignorant and presumptuous: and that those who shall hereafter assume the important province of superintending the health of others, may learn from this great master of the art, that the only means of arriving at eminence and success are labour and study.
From these false reports it is probable that another arose, to which, though it cannot be with equal certainty confuted, it does not appear that entire credit ought to be given. The acquisition of a Latin style did not seem con
sistent with the manner of life imputed to him;
him most pleasure, and most engaged his imitation.
About the same time that he became bachelor of physic, he obtained, by the interest of a relation, a fellowship of All Souls college, having submitted by the subscription required to the authority of the visitors appointed by the parthem-liament, upon what principles, or how consistently with his former conduct, it is now impossible to discover.
When he thought himself qualified for practice, he fixed his residence in Westminster, became doctor of physic at Cambridge, received a license from the college of physicians, and lived in the first degree of reputation, and the greatest affluence of practice for many years, without any other enemies than those which he raised by the superior merit of his conduct, the brighter lustre of his abilities, or his improvements of his science, and his contempt of pernicious methods supported only by authority in opposition to sound reason and indubitable experience. These men are indebted to him for concealing their names, when he records their malice, since they have thereby escaped the contempt and de
Whether Dr. Mapletoft lived and was familiar with him during the whole time in which these several treatises were printed, treatises written on particular occasions, and printed at periods considerably distant from each other, we have had no opportunity of inquiring, and therefore cannot demonstrate the falsehood of this report: but if it be considered how unlikely it is that any man should engage in a work so laborious and so little necessary, only to advance the reputation of another, or that he should have leisure to continue the same office upon all following occasions; if it be re-testation of posterity. membered how seldom such literary combinations are formed, and how soon they are for the greatest part dissolved; there will appear no reason for not allowing Dr. Sydenham the laurel of eloquence as well as physic.*
It is observable, that his Processus Integri, published after his death, discovers alone more skill in the Latin language than is commonly ascribed to him; and it surely will not be suspected, that the officiousness of his friends was continued after his death, or that he procured the book to be translated only that, by leaving it behind him, he might secure his claim to his other writings.
It is a melancholy reflection, that they who have obtained the highest reputation, by preserving or restoring the health of others, have often been hurried away before the natural decline of life, or have passed many of their years under the torments of those distempers which they profess to relieve. In this number was Sydenham, whose health began to fail in the 52d year of his age, by the frequent attacks of the gout, to which he was subject for a great part of his life, and which was afterwards accompanied with the stone in the kidneys, and, its natural consequence, bloody urine.
These were distempers which even the art of It is asserted by Sir Hans Sloane, that Dr. Sydenham could only palliate, without hope of Sydenham, with whom he was familiarly ac- a perfect cure, but which, if he has not been quainted, was particularly versed in the writ-able by his precepts to instruct us to remove, he ings of the great Roman orator and philosopher; has, at least, by his example, taught us to bear; and there is evidently such a luxuriance in his for he never betrayed any indecent impatience, style, as may discover the author which gave or unmanly dejection, under his torments, but supported himself by the reflections of philosophy, and the consolations of religion, and in every interval of ease applied himself to the assistance of others with his usual assiduity.
Since the foregoing was written, we have seen Mr. Ward's Lives of the Professors of Gresham College: who, in the Life of Dr. Mapletoft, says, that in 1676 Dr. Sydenham published his Observationes medicæ circa morborum acutorum historiam et cura tionem, which he dedicated to Dr. Mapletoft, who at the desire of the author had translated them into Latin; and that the other pieces of that excellent physician were translated into that language by Mr. Gilbert Havers of Trinity College, Cambridge, a stu dent in physic and friend of Dr. Mapletoft. But as
Mr. Ward, like others, neglects to bring any proof and from them it may likewise be collected,
of his assertion, the question cannot fairly be decided by his authority. Orig. Edit.
that his skill in physic was not his highest excellence; that his whole character was amiable;
After a life thus usefully employed, he died at his house in Pall-mall, on the 29th of December, 1689, and was buried in the aisle, near the south door, of the church of St. James, in Westminster.
What was his character, as a physician, appears from the treatises which he has left, which it is not necessary to epitomize or transcribe ;
that his chief view was the benefit of mankind, communicative, sincere, and religious; quali
and the chief motive of his actions the will of God, whom he mentions with reverence, well becoming the most enlightened and most penetrating mind. He was benevolent, candid, and
ties, which it were happy if they could copy from him, who emulate his knowledge, and imitate his methods.
THERE is always this advantage in contending | divinity, which he attempted to take in 1641,
but was denied his grace, for disputing concerning predestination, contrary to the King's injunctions.
This refusal of his degree he mentions in his
with illustrious adversaries, that the combatant is equally immortalized by conquest or defeat. He that dies by the sword of a hero will always be mentioned when the acts of his enemy are mentioned. The man, of whose life the follow-dedication to his account of Mr. Chillingworth: ing account is offered to the public, was indeed "Do not conceive that I snatch up my pen in eminent among his own party, and had quali- an angry mood, that I might vent my dangerous ties, which, employed in a good cause, would wit, and ease my overburdened spleen; no, no, have given him some claim to distinction; but I have almost forgotten the visitation of Merton no one is now so much blinded with bigotry, as College, and the denial of my grace, the plunto imagine him equal either to Hammond ordering of my house, and little library: I know Chillingworth; nor would his memory, per- when, and where, and of whom, to demand haps, have been preserved, had he not, by being satisfaction for all these injuries and indignities. conjoined with illustrious names, become the I have learnt centum plagas Spartana nobilitate object of public curiosity. concoquere. I have not learnt how to plunder others of goods, or living, and make myself amends by force of arms. I will not take a living which belonged to any civil, studious, learned delinquent; unless it be the much neglected commendam of some lordly prelate, condemned by the known laws of the land, and the highest court of the kingdom, for some offence of the first magnitude.'
FRANCIS CHEYNEL was born in 1608, at Oxford, where his father, Dr. John Cheynel, who had been fellow of Corpus Christi College, practised physic with great reputation. He was educated in one of the grammar schools of his native city, and in the beginning of the year 1623, became a member of the university.
It is probable that he lost his father when he was very young; for it appears, that before 1629, his mother had married Dr. Abbot, bishop of Salisbury, whom she had likewise buried. From this marriage he received great advantage; for his mother being now allied to Dr. Brent, then warden of Merton College, exerted her interest so vigorously that he was admitted there a probationer, and afterwards obtained a fellowship.
It is observable, that he declares himself to have almost forgot his injuries and indignities, though he recounts them with an appearance of acrimony, which is no proof that the impression is much weakened; and insinuates his design of demanding, at a proper time, satisfaction for them.
Having taken the degree of master of arts, he was admitted to orders according to the rites of the church of England, and held a curacy near Oxford, together with his fellowship. He continued in his college till he was qualified by his years of residence for the degree of bachelor of
First printed in The Student, 1751. H. + Vide Wood's Ath. Ox. Orig. Edit. + Ibid.
These vexations were the consequence, rather, of the abuse of learning, than the want of it; no one that reads his works can doubt that he was turbulent, obstinate, and petulant; and ready to instruct his superiors, when he most needed instruction from them. Whatever he believed (and the warmth of his imagination naturally made him precipitate in forming his opinions) he thought himself obliged to profess;
* Vide Wood's Hist. Univ. Ox. Orig. Edit.