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MEDICINE AT BALE:
By CHARLES GREENE CUMSTON, M.D.2

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
BIT more than a century ago
—to be exact, in the year 1814

Private practice, citizens of Bale.... 5,031 5 4

Practice among foreigners... . 23,057 17 - the learned Pierre Bridel Consultations outside the City of O published the accounts of Felix Bâle....

. 15,050

9 Gifts and presents.

2,030 9 Platter of income received from 1558 to

3 Pensions as city physician..

1,660 1612, that is to say, for the space of fifty- From the Archbishop of Bâle... 280

From the Commander of Bucken... 80 four years. As this document was published

From my office of surveyor of the in the lay press (Les Etrennes Helvétiennes, mint..

371 13 1814), it occurred to me that it might not

Pension of professor

II,139

6 8 be devoid of interest to bring it before the

From my dissections..

38 16 18 From my public lectures.

97 medical profession.

From my published books.

971 13

8 These accounts were found among the

For examinations for the Doctors of
Medicine and Deanship.

2,850 5 papers of the Bâle professor, and are re

As rector of the University

339 3 4 markable not merely for their detail, but From the Pro-Rectorate, etc.

8 15 From the Academic Convent..

323

6 because they enlighten us on the domestic

From the deanery of St. Peter's.

14 5 economy of the epoch when they were com- For showing my museum and garden 179 5 puted. They show the income derived from For my guardianships...

260

For my divers stewardships. 2,166 11 6 the practice of a celebrated professor of Income from my country-seat. 10,618 13 medicine, the sums obtained from his bo- Sale of orange and lemon trees. 1,255

6 8 Sale of limes and lemons...

27 tanical garden, likewise from his silk-worm

Sale of rosemary...

265 12 8 industry (the first endeavor in this line Sale of plants from my botanical garmade in the Canton of Bale), and even the

den..

502 5 9

Rent of my house and other real esprice of canary birds.

tate...

29,296 9 I here transcribe in extenso the accounts. Legacies..

350 My wife's dowry

625 Let me just say that the Bâle pound of the

Inheritances.

3,144

6 epoch was worth 12 Bâle batzen. Now, a Boarders

4,626

4 batzen possessed, at the time, the monetary

The sale of divers objects..

3,254 17 4 Small clothes of knitted silk....

4 value of twelve cents, therefore the Bâle

Products of my silk-worms in 1595. . 90 pound was worth $1.44. This having been Products of sale of silk-worms' eggs.

Sale of two canaries....

7 15 explained, let us examine Platter's total in

Total in Bâle pounds at 12 per batze come for fifty-four years, and up to within

pound...

120,020 15 O two years prior to his demise.

An estate of £120,020 was a formidable took the bonnet of doctor in that city at one for the epoch, as the purchasing value the age of twenty years, according to Deof money in those days was probably at zimeris, twenty-one according to Bridel. least five times greater than at present. I accept the latter age as more probable.

Felix Platter was born at Bâle in 1536, After a stay at the then famous University studied medicine in his native town, and of Montpellier, Platter traveled in France

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1 Communication made to the Medical Society of Geneva, 3 The item “boarders” refers to sums received from stuMay 7, 1919.

dents or young physicians who resided with the professor, as 2 Privat-docent of the History of Medicine at the Univer- was customary in those days. sity of Geneva; Vice-President of the Section of the History *In United States money Platter's estate represented the of Medicine of the Royal Society of Medicine of London, no mean sum of $172,828.00, an amount that few American

physicians can boast of at the end of their careers.

etc.

and Germany and returned to Bâle in very lucrative, he became by his letters of 1560.

consultation, physician to several princes He became professor of medicine at the of the houses of Saxony, Brandenburg, Bâle University and a salaried physician Lorraine, and Wurtemburg, also of Cathto the city of Bâle (archiates), positions erine, sister of Henry IV of France. that he fulfilled with honor and éclat for He was most useful to Bâle during the half a century.

fearful epidemics of the plague which ravHis reputation became world-wide, and ished the city in 1564 and 1610. He founddrew a large number of students to the ed a museum of natural history, as well as University of Bâle, Platter alone having the botanical garden of the university. created one hundred and sixty doctors. He Honored by foreigners and highly respectwas consulted by people of many coun- ed by his fellow citizens, beloved by the tries, and he declined many brilliant offers poor, he succumbed in a dropsical state on at the German courts, preferring to re- July 28, 1614, at the age of seventy-eight main in his native city. However, by cor- years, Platter was six times rector of the respondence, which was both extensive and University of Bâle.

DR. ROBERT LEVET

Robert Levett, or Levet (1701?-1782) his small knowledge of surgery while serving was "an obscure practiser in physic amongst as a waiter in a café in Paris, much frethe lower people.” Boswell says,

"such

quented by some French surgeons, who was Johnson's predilection for him, and became interested in their English servitor fanciful estimation of his moderate abilities, and

gave him the opportunity of learning that I have heard him say he should not be something of their art. He was a hard satisfied, though attended by all the College drinking man and seems to have made a of Physicians, unless he had Mr. Levett most disagreeable impression on all who with him.” Levett is said to have picked up met him save the lexicographer.

NAVY, A PIONEER IN AMERICAN NAVAL MEDICINE

(1786-1856)
By FRANK LESTER PLEADWELL, M.D.2

NEWPORT, R. I.

W

HEN it was suggested as to portray a character like that of Dr. appropriate that the Barton, less heroic perhaps, but one whose United States Navy influence in the direction of medical reform

should be represented in and sanitary improvement in the early the list of authors contributing articles Navy was unquestioned. His book first apto the Anniversary Volume in honor of peared in 1814 and the mere fact of its havSir William Osler's seventieth birthday, ing achieved a second edition three years and I was requested to furnish the article, later, is an indication of the estimation in I immediately cast about for a suit- which it was held. It contained a fund of able subject. There came to mind a small information collected from various sources, volume, discovered some years ago in an both at home and abroad, and revealed an obscure corner of the library of the Naval originality of thought and an independence Medical School, remarkably advanced in its of expression which stamped its author as thought for the times, entitled “A Treatise far in advance of the times. A similar work containing a Plan for the Internal Organi- by Dr. Edward Cutbush of the Navy had zation and Government of Marine Hospitals appeared in 1808, but this dealt with subin the United States together with Observa- jects in army administration as well as tions on Military and Flying Hospitals and naval, and lacked the breadth and originala Scheme for Amending and Systematizing ity of view characteristic of Barton's book. the Medical Department of the Navy” by In the following biographical sketch I William P. C. Barton, M.D., Surgeon in the have endeavored to present the outstanding Navy of the United States. This was the facts of Dr. Barton's career in the Navy, second edition, published in Philadelphia in and particularly to reveal his work as a pi1817.

oneer in the field of American naval mediIt occurred to me, therefore, that a cine. biographical study of the author of this William Paul Crillon Barton was born in volume might prove of historical interest Philadelphia, November 17, 1786. He was in revealing the state of naval medicine at the son of William Barton, Esq., member of that early period in our service. There the bar, and grandson of the Rev. Thomas have appeared several excellent biographical sketches of naval medical officers distin

3 The following are noteworthy examples: guished for bravery in action and heroic

(1.) Gatewood, J. D., “The Private Journal of

James Markham Ambler, M.D., Passed Assistant self-sacrifice in the line of duty, but so far

Surgeon, United States Navy, and Medical Officer of as my knowledge goes, no one has essayed

the Arctic Exploring Steamer Jeannette.'U. States 1 Note. An unavoidable delay in receiving this

Nav. M. Bull., Apr. 1917. paper prevented its inclusion in "Contributions to (2.) Gatewood, J.D., “William Longshaw, Jr., AsMedical and Biological Research Dedicated to Sir sistant Surgeon, United States Navy, 1839-1865." William Osler, Bart., M.D., F.R.S.” It is published

A Biographical Sketch. U. States Nav. M. Bull., Oct. in the ANNALS OF MEDICAL HISTORY by arrange- 1913. ment with the author.

(3.) Elder, William, “Biography of Elisha Kent 2 Captain, Medical Corps, United States Navy. Kane.” Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson, 1858.

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Inscription on the fly-leaf of the “Sick Reports” of the “United States" in Barton's handwriting.

prevented and he died there on May 25, Another distinguished son was Dr. Ben1780. His widow returned to Philadelphia, jamin Smith Barton, professor of botany making her home with her nephew, Dr. at the University of Pennsylvania, and also, Samuel Bard, at one time physician to in later years, the successor to Dr.Benjamin Washington.

Rush as professor of the theory and pracWilliam Barton, the eldest of Thomas tice of medicine in the University. Barton's eight children, and the father of Thomas Pennant Barton, a son of BenWilliam P. C. Barton, was a lawyer by pro- jamin Smith Barton, was also a man of culfession, a gentleman of substantial literary tivated literary tastes and achievements. It attainments, the author of the "Memoirs of is noteworthy that he gathered together one Dr. David Rittenhouse," and the designer of the best collections of Shakespeareana in of the United States seal. He married Eliza- America. These, together with some ten beth, the daughter of John Rhea, a Phila- thousand miscellaneous books of his library,

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