Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

It is the text-book recommended by 'many, if not most of our medical lecturers, and a more complete expose of the subject can not be found in any work of its size. About one-half of the work is devoted to organic chemistry, the greater part of which has been re-written and those additions made which have been rendered necessary by recent investigations and discoveries. The latter part, about forty pages, is devoted to animal chemistry; this has been entirely revised. The work is substantially bound, printed on good paper, in small but clear type, embracing much information in a compact and convenient form for use. We know of no work on the subject more deserving of a place in the library of either practitioner or student of medicine.

A. W. P.

BIOGRAPHY.

A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF DR. B. F. SHUMARD.

BY LUNSFORD P. YANDELL, M. D.

The subject of the following memoir was known as a man of science wherever Geology is cultivated; and it is in this character that his name commands the highest respect of men. But he was also a physician of note, and at the time of his death was pursuing his profession successfully as a teacher and a practitioner in one of the leading cities of our country. His professional life presents some points of unusual interest. It affords an instance of the attainment of distinction in two pursuits foreign from each other—both demanding much time and severe mental application; and the rarer example of success in the practice of physic, after having deserted it through a number of years for another profession. The many friends attached to him by his social virtues and scientific attainments, have a right to expect some enduring record of his useful and honorable life; and it is with the view of meeting to some extent this just expectation, as well as to satisfy the claims of friendship that this memorial is written.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Shumard was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on the 24th of November, 1820, of pious and respectable parents.

His father, Mr. John Shumard, was a descendant of the Huguenots, and received in his youth careful mental and moral training. Evincing decided piety when young, he was educated for the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal church. The day had been appointed for his ordination, when he suddenly declared his intention to quit divinity and engage in some business by which money might be made. His friends remonstrated against his change of purpose in vain. He was of a somewhat stubborn temper, and it is possible that they were not entirely judicious in the manner of opposing his determination. An old, gray haired minister, to whom he was greatly attached, expostulated with him feelingly against his course, and finding him immovable, closed his argument with the prediction, that “though he might make money, he would never be rich"-a prediction which was literally fulfilled. About a year after this event he married Miss Ann Catherine Getz, of Lancaster. He had become a merchant, and was

prosperous business. His prospects at the time of his marriage were encouraging, but he grew restless, and in changing from place to place in a few years wasted not only his own means, but the little patrimony of his wife. He was industrious, punctual, energetic, but the desire of change operated as a bar to success notwithstanding his good moral and business habits. But amid all his failures as a merchant, he never lost sight of the interests of his family; and, although generally straightened in his circumstances, he found means to keep his children at school. Two of his sons received a professional education. He was careful about the moral training of his children, and, always truthful himself, impressed upon them early the sacred duty of adhering at all times strictly to the truth. At one period of his life his misfortunes rendered him almost desperate, and it was feared that he would become a slave to the vice by which so many men, under the pressure of pecuniary disasters, are ruined. But his strong will, his early religious principles, and the salutary influence of a judicious wife and devoted sons prevailed, and he died in the communion of the church in which he was reared, cheered in his declining years by seeing his children prosperous in life, and two of his sons rising to distinction.

The father of Mrs. Shumard, Mr. Peter Getz, was a man of decided talents. He was an inventor, of a mechanical genius, and had great fondness for general science. He entered the navy as midshipman, in 1812, at the opening of our last war with England, and was with Lawrence at the battle of the Hornet and the Peacock. After a short

service he left the navy, and was appointed a lieutenant in the army, in which capacity he served to the close of the war. He was succes. sively, at different periods, a publisher, an editor, a bookseller, and an author, and when he died was mayor of the city of Reading. He claimed to have invented the first fire-engine used in America. At one time he was connected with the general Government as inspector of arms, and in some official capacity made two or three voyages to Europe in the service of the war department. His daughter inherited his taste for letters, which he took pains to cultivate, and this, conjoined with a sound judgment, deep piety and a natural sweetness of disposition, rendered her one of the most valuable of mothers. Mr. Getz merits the consideration of American physicians as the early patron and friend of Dr. John Eberle, so long esteemed one of the ornaments of our profession. Mr. Eberle, who lived in the same town with him, had not the means to improve his son's mind as he wished. Mr. Getz was impressed with the taste for study and aptitude to learn displayed by young Eberle, and not only encouraged his father to send him to school, but assisted him with the means of giving him a thorough education. He was not spared to see his young townsman reach the eminence which he ultimately attained as a teacher and author, but he lived long enough to see him rising into the highest rank as a practitioner in Philadelphia.

In 1835 the father of Dr. Shumard removed to Cincinnati, and he was placed soon afterwards at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where he remained three years. Here, as always before when at school, he made good use of his time. He was a diligent student, and acquired accurate knowledge of the branches of study to which he applied himself. His father removed to Philadelphia before he was ready to take the degree of A. B., and he was sent two years afterwards to attend a course of lectures in the Jefferson Medical College. After one winter in that institution, his father removing to Louisville, he became the private pupil of Prof. Gross, and entered the Medical Institute of Louisville in 1841. At the end of his second course in the Institute he received his doctor's degree, to which he had fully entitled himself by years of diligent study. In a large graduating class, it is safe to say, that not a student excelled him in the extent or accuracy of his attainments.

That stage of his career was now reached the most anxious in the life of a young professional man, when he had to select a home and set up in his profession for himself. The world was all before him

where to choose, and he knew that it was entirely upon his own efforts that he had henceforth to rely for the means to make himself comfortable and independent in the world. Something led him to fix upon Hodgenville, a small town in Kentucky, south of Louisville, as his place of abode; and here, a few months after he received his degree, he opened an office and modestly tendered his professional services to the great public.

The novitiate, proverbially trying to the patience of young professional men, was, in the case of Dr. Shumard, more than usually tedious and discouraging. With his manners and tastes it is doubtful whether he would have commanded early success any where. His habits were those of a scholar brought up in a city, and all his tastes inclined him to the cultivation of science rather than the acquaintance of men.

The people among whom he settled, though intelligent and capable of appreciating professional merit, had been accustomed to look for sociability in those who sought their favor. Besides a native modesty which made Dr. Shumard retiring, the love of natural history had become with him a passion, and this tended constantly to draw him away from society and from his office. Instead of seeking practice, he spent a good share of his time in the woods and fields exploring the geological formations of his neighborhood, and making collections of objects of natural science. The people had no just conception of the dignity of such employment. They could not understand him. He was looked upon generally as eccentric, and by many, perhaps, as not in his right mind. It was evident to all that, at the least, his heart was not in his profession, and very naturally but few were disposed to seek his services as a physician. He made many friends in Hodgenville, of all in fact who were brought in contact with him, and was greatly esteemed, especially by his professional brethren, for his high cultivation of mind, his refinement of taste and manners, and his amiable character; but his progress as a practitioner was so slow that in less than a year he determined to quit the country and return to Louisville. This step was extremely disheartening to his father, who had experienced in his own case the evils of instability, and was by no means pleased at the display of so decided a taste for natural science in his son. On the return of the young doctor to his house he remarked to a friend, that he " was afraid Benjamin had so many rocks in his head that there was no room left in it for medicine.” Mrs. Shumard, it is interesting to remark, was more hopeful in regard to

She was not displeased by his devotion to geological studies

her son.

but encouraged him to attempt to win a name as a cultivator of the science.

In the late Prof. Cobb, Dr. Shumard met a congenial spirit, a friend who appreciated his fine powers of mind and sympathised in his love of the study of nature, and who, as a professional anatomist, was qualified to assist him in analyzing the structure of the by-gone races of animals that once tenanted our globe. Together they explored all the localities so rich in organic remains in the neighborhood of Louisville, and made collections of their fossils. In this way Dr. Shumard was diverted more and more from his profession, and yet there were indications of growth in his business, which showed that he might succeed as a practitioner if he would devote himself to practice.

In the summer of 1846, M. Edward de Verneuil, President of the Geological Society of France, in the course of a tour to determine the parallelism of the palæozoic formations of North America with those of Europe, visted Louisville, and in those researches was materially aided by the knowledge of Dr. Shumard, who had made the geology of Kentucky a special study. That eminent geologist expressed the greatest delight at finding in the Louisville collections fossils so analogous to many in his own cabinet at home as to fix beyond doubt the equivalency of the corresponding deposits; and as a token of his regard for the young geologist of Kentucky, and of his appreciation of the services which he had rendered to science, presented him with a copy of his splendid work on the Palæontology of Russia. Dr. David Dale Owen was in Louisville at the same time, and like M. de Verneuil, was struck with Dr. Shumard's attainments, and the energy and zeal with which he was prosecuting geological science. Having on hand the geological survey of the north-western Territories, under the direction of Congress, he appointed Dr. Shumard a few months afterwards one of his assistants in that great work.

The large volumes, issued successively by Congress, containing reports on the geology of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, rank among the great scientfic productions of our country; and the contributions by Dr. Shumard impart to them a large share of their value. During the winter of 1816-7, he worked with Dr. Owen in his laboratory, at New Harmony, analysing minerals and soils, and preparing his report for the press. In the spring of 1847, before taking the field again, he prepared, in conjunction with the writer, a paper which appeared in tite October number of the Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery, under the title of “Contributions to the Geology of Kentucky."

« ForrigeFortsæt »