Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


52 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. XXII. DR. JOSEPH BLACK. DR. BLACK was born in France, on the banks of the Garonne, in 1728. His father, Mr. John Black, was a native of Belfast, in Ireland, but his ancestors were originally from Scotland. Mr. Black had settled in Bordeaux as a winemerchant, where he married a daughter of Mr. Robert Gordon of Hillhead, in Aberdeenshire, who also resided at Bordeaux, and was engaged in the same trade. At the age of twelve, young Black was sent to his relations in Belfast for his education, and he accordingly attended the schools of that town. In 1746 he entered the University of Glasgow, where he was very early patronised by Mr. Robert Dick, Professor of Natural Philosophy, and speedily became the intimate companion of his son, who, as well as his youthful friend, had already given a decided preference to physical knowledge. During the course of the same year in which he went to college, Dr. Cullen commenced his illustrious career as lecturer on chemistry in the University of Glasgow, and his fame quickly spread through the city of Glasgow. His class, besides being filled with regular students, was attended by many gentlemen who had no idea of prosecuting professionally the study of medicine. Dr. Cullen, whoin every situation which he held either in Glasgow or in Edinburgh, made it a point to cultivate an acquaintance with those who attended his lectures-uniformly treating them with respect, but from the natural openness and generosity of his temper, never keeping them at a distance-was accessible at all times, and took cognisance of the progress of their studies. He became early acquainted with young Black, and, perceiving the bent of his genius, strongly impressed upon him the propriety of prosecuting with ardour the cultivation of that field of science upon which he had just entered. In a short time he was advanced to be Dr. Cullen’s assistant in the performance of experiments ; and by the extraordinary neatness and address which he displayed in this department, he essentially contributed to increase the eclbt of the Professor’s lectures, He repaired to Edinburgh to finish his medical studies, and in 1751 was enrolled as a student of medicine, Whilst there, he resided with his cousingerman, Mr. Russell, Professor of Natural Philosophy in that University. The usefulness of this seminary as a medical school was then only beginning to be known, but the reputation of its teachers had already spread through various parts of the world. During three sessions he attended all the necessary classes, and took the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1754. On this occasion it is customary in Edinburgh to print a thesis, in the Latin language, on some subject connected with medical science. Dr. Black chose for his theme “ The Acid arising from Food, and Magnesia Alba,” in which was contained
Volume 8 Page 72
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print