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bar; and two others, one presiding at the civil, the other chief of the ecclesiastical bench.'
At the age of seventeen, John Hunter left his mother's house, in order to pay a visit of condolence to his sister, Mrs. Buchanan, at Glasgow ; and here, it appears, he assisted his brother-in-law, by actually working at his business; a circumstance which has given rise to the unfounded report, that he was destined to be a carpenter. But it would seem that the manual assistance which he gave to Mr. Buchanan, was no part of his original intention in his visit to him, but arose merely out of the pressing necessities of the occasion. The event, however, was the immediate cause of Mr. Hunter's seriously seeking for some pursuit in life, as upon his return to his mother, at Long Calderwood, the village amusements were no longer sufficient to occupy his attention. By this time, Dr. William Hunter had already become celebrated in the metropolis ; and John,
• hearing frequently of his brother's success, wrote to request that he would allow him to come to London upon a visit, making at the same time, an offer to be his assistant in his anatomical researches; or if that proposal could not be accepted, expressing a wish to go into the army. In answer to this letter, he received a very kind vitation from his brother, and immediately set off for London, accompanied by Mr. Hamilton, a friend of the family, who was going upon business; they rode up together ou horseback.
Dr. Hunter was so well pleased with the first anatomical essays of his brother, that he gave him every encouragement and facility to pursue his studies, and introduced him to the notice of the celebrated Cheselden, under whom he became an assistant at Chelsea Hospital; and, in the following year, he entered as a pupil at St. Bartholomew's.
« This was two years. 6 after the celebrated Mr. Pott was chosen one of the senior surgeons to that royal establishment.'
• It would be curious to know (says Dr. Adams) what Mr. Hunter, at that early period thought of a character so different from himself. Mr. Pott was doubtless a great man in his day, and an experienced surgeon, having been at that time five years assistant surgeon. No man operated more gracefully, or possessed a better choice of expression in lecturing, or an easier flow of language in conversation, or a nicer taste in composition. It was impossible, however, that Mr. Hunter should not have seen at an early period the unstable foundation on which many of his master's pathological doctrines were supported. Yet in none of his writings is Mr. Pott mentioned but with respect. Even the subsequent misunderstanding between him and Dr. Hunter, produced no effect upon John.'
It was probably at the suggestion of his brother, Dr. H. that Mr. John Hunter entered soon after this time as a gentleman
commoner in St. Mary's Hall, Oxford.
It does not appear quite certain, what were the ultimate views either of himself, or of his brother in taking this step; but it is not perhaps to be regretted, that he soon abandoned his University schemes, since the time that he would have spent in cultivating the requisite branches of an academical education, proved in the event to have been much more profitably occupied in studying the laws and operations of the living organized body. It was in the year 1755, that Mr. Hunter first became a lecturer. His brother then admitted bim to a partnership in the course, and thus he became a joint professor with the Dr. But that present character and posthumous fame, are often far from bearing any thing like an equal proportion or correspondence the one to the other, Was shewn in the instance before us. Dr. Hunter, as a teacher of anatomy, commanded universal approbation and applause. There was an ease in his manner, and a perspicuity in his language, that have perhaps scarcely ever been equalled. His brother John, destitute of these qualifications, was consequently held at the time in far inferior estimation; whereas now, while he is regarded by almost universal assent, as a kind of Newton in anatomy and pathology, his brother has fallen into the rank of merely a very able and superior anatomist.
It would appear that the union of the two brothers, came shortly to be any thing but cordial. It is very probable that John felt bis growing importance to Dr. Hunter, and was jealous of being inadequately appreciated; while the latter might think that more deference thanhe received was, under all the circumstances of the case, actually his due. In the year 1760, John received a staff appointment; and in the spring of the following year, he left his brother, and embarked with the army for Belleisle.
• To this fortunate event,' says his biographer many improvements in military surgery. It is true, many writers and practitioners were beginning to be dissatisfied with the cruel practice of those days, but no one had so far entered into the pathology of surgery, as to reduce it to a science, by any rational system or satisfactory rules. The ingratitude or inattention of his successors have much circumscribed the advantages which the world would otherwise have derived from his labours; but our obligations to him are not the less on that account.'
It was after the peace in 1763, that Mr. Hunter returned to England.
now in his thirty-sixth year, and had the task before him of recommencing his professional career in the metropolis; and now it was, that he employed his leisure with so much success, in elucidating the laws of living existence. Comparative anatomy was cultivated by Mr. Hunter, with an ardour and perseverance that knew no bounds.
He applied to the keepers of the several menageries, bespeaking the carcases of the animals that might bappen to die while in their custody; and in return he purchased other animals alive, committing them to the care of these keepers, to make use of them as they might please, satisfied with securing their post obit.'
· His fondness for animals made him besides keep several of different kinds in his house : which, by attention, he rendered familiar with him, and amused himself by observing their peculiar habits and instincts; but this familiarity was attended with considerable risk, and sometimes led him into situations of danger, of which the following is a remarkable instance. Two leopards, which were kept chained in an out-house, had broken from their confinement and got into the yard among some dogs, which they immediately attacked; the howling this produced alarnied the whole neighbourhood. Mr. Hunter ran into the yard to see what was the matter, and found one of them getting up the wall to make his escape, the other surrounded by dogs; he immediately laid hold of them both, and carried them back to their den. But as soon as they were secured, and he had time to reflect upon the risk of his own situation, he was so much. agitated that he was in danger of fainting.'
The time we are now alluding to, was unquestionably the most interesting period of Mr. Hunter's life. His pursuits were tranquilly directed to the development of the economy of nature, while his professional celebrity had not arrived at a degree of eminence sufficiently bigh to excite envy, and give birth to those collisions and jealous bickerings, wbich, to the disgrace of human nature, never fail, in a greater or less degree, to attend upon public approbation of merit; and which, in general, are most conspicuously prevalent among professors of what ought to be the most liberal and humanizing of arts.
In July 1771, Mr. Hunter married Miss Home, ellest daughter of Mr. Home, surgeon of Burgoyne's regiment of light horse, and sister to the present Sir Everard Home, from whose life, prefixed to his works, Dr. Adams availş himself of much information. Mr. H.'s private practice and professional character were now considerably on the advance;
and about the period of his marriage, he published his very able and important treatise on the teeth. In 1773, he became a public lecturer on his own account; and it is very remarkable that the pupils who attended his first courses, frankly confessed their inability to enter into his meaning : so false is the prevalent notion, that what is clearly conceived, cannot fail of being perspicuously expressed. The axiom indeed may hold good, when applied to established principles or allowed truths; but in reference to what is new and has hitherto been discerned only by the discoverer, the very clearness of the con
ception, sometimes operates as a cause of obscurity in the relation; as the mind of the teacher is not seldom absolutely unconscious of the process by which the knowledge, or rather the discernment was acquired; and besides this, there is in some persons an aptitude to communicate information, which does not belong to others who are equally well informed. Mr. Hunter, it is said, found the task of lecturing so formidable, that he was obliged to take thirty drops of laudanum before he entered the theatre, at the beginning of each course.
' About the year 1776, the efforts of the humane society very much occupied the public attention. Dr. Cogan had first introduced the subject from Holland, and the industry of Dr. Hawes, by never suffering it to rest, at last produced a royal establishment. "It was not probable that the labours of Mr. Hunter should be spared on this occasion. The consequence was a paper produced before the royal society, in the year 1776, containing proposals for the recovery of persons apparently drowned." ;
One of the principal circumstances of this paper, so far as the signs of life and death are concerned, consists in the explanation of the variation that has been observed in drowned bodies, with respect to the period of their floating. It has commonly, but without foundation, been supposed, that the rising of a body to the surface of water, might be considered as an index of the time in which such body had been immersed, since it could not take place till a degree of putrefaction and consequent extrication of air had commenced. Mr. Hunter was the first to shew clearly, that with regard to the period of floating, much depends upon the precise manner in which death takes place in reference to respiration ; and that if the person cease to breathe while the lungs are full of air, the floating of the body will then almost immediately take place; whereas, if the actual moment of the cessation of life be at the time of throwing out air from the lungs, a degree of putrefaction must take place in the body before it rises to the surface of the water. Also,
• If absolute universal death takes place at the moment of the accident, putrefaction follows with the same rapidity, and the body sooner becomes buoyant. If, on the contrary, the parts retain their life, though the actions by which life was supported cannot be maintained, putrefaction will not commence till life ceases : air therefore will not be extricated, and the body will be a long time before it floats. By a proper attention to this difference, Mr. Hunter explained how it happened that, under some circumstances, no industry or skill could produce re-animation, after an immersion comparatively short to what had occurred in other more successful instances.'
In fact, our physiologist was the first who made the very important distinction with accuracy, between the actual deprivation and the mere suspension of the living principle, and who explained the phenomenon of animal torpidity during hybernation, upon the principles of a temporary loss of the capacity of assimilating aliment. He brought into the open air, lizards that had been confined in cellars in a torpid state.
Being placed in the sunshine, they soon began to bask and move about with great agility ; but these exertions were short,
and life ceased with them, inasmuch as the spurious and unnatural life thus induced, did not bring with it one of the essentials of positive vitality, namely, the capacity of assimilativg to its own nature surrounding alimentary materials.
That Mr. Hunter continued ardently devoted to the cause of science, rather than solicitous for his own professional preferment and emolument, requires no other proof than the continuance of his pecuniary difficulties even after he was in the receipt of considerable sums from his practice as a snrgeon, and notwithstanding the laudable economy which prevailed in his general expenditure. Of his anatomical collections, which now form the Hunterian Museum at the College of Surgeons, he was never for a moment unmindful.
• This collection,' says Sir Everard Home, which had been the great object of his life, both as a pursuit and amusement, was now (1787) brought into a state of arrangement; and gave him, at length, the satisfaction of shewing to the public a series of anatomical facts formed into a system, by which the economy of animal life was illustrated He shewed it to his friends and acquaintances twice a-year ; in October to medical gentlemen, and in May to noblemen and gentlemen who were only in town during Spring. This custom he continued to his death.'
But before we give an abridged account of the circumstances of his death, which were remarkable and melancholy, it may not be uninteresting to say a few words further on the subject of his connexion and difference with his brother Dr. Hunter, to which we have already alluded, and to the consideration of which, Dr. Adams devotes a very interesting section of his Memoir. The time and particulars of Mr. Hunter's first introduction to his brother, have been already noticed. It was not likely that at this time the Doctor felt any thing approaching towards that rivalship which ultimately took place between himself and his brother. The more industry and the more talent the latter evinced, the greater, in the first instance, was most probably the gratification of the former. But
when John, from a mere imitator and scholar, became an inventor and a theorist, and when be further shewed that a
respectful attachment to his brother could not prevent him from expressing the detected fallacy of some of his physiological sentiments, who, with a knowledge of human nature,