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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CIII. DR. WILLIAM CULLEN. 253 THIS etching of one of the great fathers of modern medicine was executed iu 1784, and represents the Doctor at the venerable age of seventy-five. DR, WILLIAM CULLEN was born in the parish of Hamilton, county of Lanark, in the year 1710. He received the first part of his education under Mr. Brisbane, at the grammar-school of Hamilton ; and, having chosen medicine as a profession, he was apprenticed to a surgeon-apothecary in the city of Glasgow. It does not appear that he went through a regular course of education at the University, so that the chief means of improvement he possessed at this time were derived from observing his master’s practice, and perusing such medical works as fell in his way. It is not known at what age he went to Glasgow, nor how long he continued there ; but in very early life he engaged as a surgeon to a vessel that traded between London and the West Indies, and performed several voyages in that capacity. Disliking a seafaring life, he attempted to get into medical practice in his native country, and first settled in the parish of Shotts. He remained there only for a short time, and then removed to Hamilton, where he was chosen one of the magistrates of that burgh. The Duke of Hamilton happening to be taken suddenly ill, Dr. Cullen was called in ; and admission. A most minute search took place. The room in which Lord Pitsligo was concealed did not escape. Miss Gordon’s bed was carefully examined ; and she was obliged to suffer the scrutiny of one of the party, by feeling her chi, to ascertain that it was not a man in lady’s night-dress. Before the soldiers had finished their examination in this room, the confinement and anxiety increased Lord Pitsligo’s asthma SO much, and his breathing became so loud, that it cost Miss Gordon, lying in bed, much and violent coughing, which she counterfeited, in order to prevent the high breathings behind the wainscot being heard. It may easily be conceived what agony she would suffer, lest, by overdoing her part, she should increase suspicion, and in fact lead to a discovery. The ruse was fortunately successful. On the search through the house being given over, Lord Pitsligo was hastily taken from his confined situation, and again replaced in bed j and as soon as he was able to speak, his accustomed kindness of heart made him say to his servant, ‘ James, go and see that these poor fellows get some breakfast, and a drink of warm ale, for this is a cold morning ; they are only doing their duty, and cannot bear me any ill-will.’ When the family were felicitating each other on his escape, he pleasantly ohserved, ‘A poor prize had they obtained it-an old dying man I”’ By degrees the heat of civil raucow ceased, and Lord Pitsligo, like others in his situation, was permitted to steal back into the circle of his friends, unpersecuted and unnoticed. The venerable old nobleman was thus suffered to remain at his son’s residence of Auchiries unmolested during the last years of an existence protracted to the extreme verge of human lie. He died on the 21st December 1762, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. The character of Lord Pitsligo was of the most amiable description, and he embarked in the cause of the exiled Stuarts from national feeliigs alone. He was a Protestant, of the Episcopal Church, and sincerely attached to his religion. He was of a literary turn of mind ; and left behind him several manuscript essays, which were published shortly after his death. To one of these-entitled “Thoughts Concerning Man’s Condition and Duties in this Life, and his Hopes in the World to come :” Edinburgh, Whyte & Co.-an interesting memoir of his life ia pretixed,
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2s 4 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. his mode of treatment was much approved by Dr. David Clark, who had been brought from Edinburgh. This accidental circumstance added much to his medical reputation in that quarter. During his residence at Hamilton, Dr. Cullen became acquainted with Mr. William Hunter. These two celebrated characters, who were destined to do so much, each in his own line, for the advancement of medical science, had very early entered into habits of the strictest intimacy. Dr. Hunter had been originally intended for the Church j and with that view had attended some of the classes at the University of Glasgow. Cullen’s conversation, however, gave a different direction to his studies, and he resolved to study medicine. In consequence of the extension of his practice, Cullen resolved to apply to the University of Glasgow for a medical degree, and this he accordingly obtained upon the 14th September 1740. On the 13th November 1741, he married Ann Johnston, the daughter of a neighbouring clergyman, by whom he had a numerous family. His eldest son, Robert, was a Lord of Session and Justiciary, During the residence of Dr. Cullen in Hamilton, Archibald Earl of Islay, afterwards Duke of Argyle, being in that part of the country, required some chemical apparatus. It was suggested to him that Dr. Cullen was more likely to have what his lordship wanted than any other person. He was accordingly invited to dinner by his lordship, and fortunately made himself very agreeable. This interview was one of the chief causes of his future rise in life. He had secured the patronage of t,he Prime Minister of Scotland, the future Duke of Argyle, besides the countenance of the Duke of Hamilton. In 1746 the Lectureship on Chemistry in the University of Glasgow, which is in the gift of the College, became vacant. Cullen offered himself as a candidate, and was accordingly elected. He commenced his lectures in the month of October of the same year. In 1751 the Professorship of Medicine (in the gift of the Crown) becoming vacant, the interest of Argyle procured it for him. He appears to have taught both classes. In 1755 he transmitted a paper to the Physical and Literary Society of Edinburgh, ‘‘ On the cold produced by evaporating fluids, and of some other means of producing cold,”-the only chemical essay he ever published. In 1756 he was unanimously elected Professor of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, where the medical school was already formed ; and he had much greater incitements to exertion than he had in Glasgow. Dr. Whytt, who taught the Institutes of Medicine, died in 1766, and Dr. Cullen obtained the vacant chair. Dr. John Gregory, a short time before, had succeeded to the chair of the Practice of Physic; and these two Professors continued each to teach his own class for three sessions. At the conclusion of the session, 12th April 1769, Dr. Callen proposed to the patrons that Dr. Gregory and he should alternately teach the Institutes and the Practice. This was complied with ; and it was declared that the survivor should have in his option which professorship he preferred. Upon the lamented death of Dr. Gregory, 10th February 1773,
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