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The mortuary record, since the publication of our last volume, has but four names; but the individuals were men of note and characterised by great activity. It will be years before their places will be made good. Yet such is the order of things; and if we knew and understood it well, we would perceive it best for each and for all. All of a man does not live in the walls of a corporeal structure; the real man is far more than that. Pax illiscum.
DR. HORATIO E. FIRTH.
The death of Dr. H. E. Firth was duly reported to the National Association by his neighbor and long-time friend, Dr. D. E. Smith, of Brooklyn, who gives the following sketch of his career:
Horatio E. Firth was born at Salem Court House, New Jersey, in 1824. He graduated in medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical University, Philadelphia, and became a resident of Brooklyn about 1852. He entered at once into active practice and was very successful as a physician. From this time onward he was closely identified with the history of the Eclectic School in Eastern New York and in the State. The Brooklyn Academy of Medicine was organised in 1855. Dr. Firth took an active part and was several times its President. He also participated in the organisation of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of New York at Albany, in 1863; and of the National Eclectic Medical Association at Chicago, in 1870.
Dr. Firth was a prolific writer. The Eclectic Society of New York was the first to publish printed volumes of Transactions, and he was a regular contributor. Many of his papers excited much interest outside the Eclectic School: and his History of Eclecticism in the State of New York, published in 1879, preserves a large amout of valuable historical matter that would otherwise have been lost. In 1880 he was chosen President of the Society. Since that time though he abated none of his interest in the matter, but was ready with pen and effort as ever, he seems to have flagged somewhat in physical strength.
He has also some claim to be ranked as a discoverer; at least, he made some new studies of known remedies and ascertained other uses for them. He was the first to employ the tincture of Veratrum in puerperal convulsions. He had no superior in obstetric practice, and his counsel was often sought in difficult cases. In the former period of medical proscription, the endeavor was made in Brooklyn to consign all bodies of persons to the Coroner, who had died when attended by Eclectics. Dr. Firth promptly visited the officious official and gave him a brief lecture which proved the last of his nonsense.
He held the office at different times of trustee both in the Metropolitan and the Eclectic Medical Colleges of the city of New York, resigning from the latter in 1873. He was was a Curator in the United States Medical College at the time of of his death. He always recognised that a man owed his service to his profession to add to its usefulness, and worked up to his conviction.
Dr. Firth was married in 1847 to Miss Elizabeth Weston, the daughter of a physician in Philadelphia, by whom he was the father of fifteen children. Mrs. Firth graduated in medicine at the Eclectic Medical College in 1872, and is a successful practitioner. Ten of their children are still living.
During his last illness he was visited by members of the medical profession of every School, showing not only his excellent standing, but the fact that he had lived down animosity. His death took place June 4th, 1883, in his 59th year. The complaint was scirrhus of the pylorus. Dr. Firth had
been a member of the Masonic Fraternity, the Sons of Temperance and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His funeral was celebrated at the De Kalb Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, to which he had belonged for many years. It was attended by friends from other States, seventy-five and one hundred miles away. The beneficiary orders also paid honors on the occasion. Thus a good and deserving man has passed away from among us.
DR. S. H. POTTER.
The death of Dr. Potter leaves a conspicuous vacancy in the ranks of Eclectic practitioners. He belongs to the former days of distinctive Eclecticism, when Morrow, the Joneses, as well as John King and Dr. J. R. Buchanan were the representative men. Possessing a mercurial temperament and great ambition, as well as elasticity of disposition, he was closely identified with the medical history of that time.
Stephen Hollister Potter was born in Cortland county, New York, November 10, 1811. He was the son of Stephen Potter, one of the pioneers of that region, and grew up on his father's farm. In March, 1833, he became the principal of the high school or academy at Canandaigua, remaining there till July, 1835. During this period he employed his leisure in reading medicine, under the direction of Dr. E. B. Carr. He then went to Olean and finished his preparatory study with Dr. E. B. Finn, his brother-in-law. In September, 1837, he entered college, remaining six months, when he received his degree. Much as is said, and much of it justly, in regard to this graduating of students on brief courses of lectures, it seems not to have been uncommon in former times; besides the fact that a very large proportion of medical men then in active practice had never seen a college or studied books very critically.
Doctor Potter immediately took up his residence at Canal Winchester, in the Scioto Valley, where he remained till December, 1844. His father was then prostrated by palsy and he returned to Cortland county, making the homestead his centre of action. He did not, however, remain there. His early familiarity with Prof. T. V. Morrow, had excited a
zeal also to become a pioneer in the New School of Practice.* He practiced medicine for a season at Randolph, N. Y., in partnership with Dr. Charles J. Kenworthy, and opened a medical school to fit students, who were to be graduated at the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati. He and Dr. Kenworthy edited a medical journal. About the same time. Dr. Orin Davis and others had opened a school of about the same grade and character at Fredonia. It was judged best a year later to unite forces. At this time an act had passed the Legislature to enable the incorporation of benevolent, charitable, religious and scientific societies. Hon. Daniel Pratt, of Syracuse, since Comptroller, was then Justice of the Supreme Court in the Fifth District, and granted consent to establish the Central Medical College at Syracuse. Good jurists at that time in every part of the State believed such incorporations valid; and since that period no less than five medical colleges, besides Syracuse University and its medical department, and the Central College at McGrawville, have been so legalised by competent and able judges. The Central Medical College having been thus established, Doctors Potter and Davis and
* In a letter to me, Dr. Potter stated in reply to an enquiry, that he first suggested the name of Eclectic as the designation of the Reformed Practice. He was at the time, he said, riding out with Prof. Morrow, in 1843 or 1844, when the subject of a name was canvassed. I am reluctant to question this; yet two facts seem to militate against the plausibility of the statement. Dr. Potter was not a classical scholar, and a person not pretty well versed in such knowledge would hardly be likely to choose such a term. Again, Prof. Morrow himself bore the name of Thomas Vaughan, an Eclectic philosopher of the seventeenth century. Originally the Eclectics comprised the philosophers of Alexandria, and Galen himself was identified with them. In later centuries, various individuals sprung up in Europe, to whom the designation was sometimes given. Thomas Vaughan was one of these. I have never been able to learn that the late Prof. Morrow was in any way akin to him, or had his peculiarities even; but I would be much gratified to know, as to me it would present much significance.---A. W.
Since writing this, the following explanation has been given to the public by Professor Joseph R. Buchanan :
"The profound ignorance of American Eclecticism and Homœopathy among the graduates of fashionable 'regular' colleges would be amusing, if it were not so sad a perversion of a noble profession. The words Eclectic and Eclecticism were origi nally adopted at Cincinnati in the parent school, the Eclectic Medical Institute, upon the suggestion of Mr. Calvin Fletcher of the Board of Trustees, and the charter had been procured under that name [in 1845] before I had united with the Faculty."
their friends called a State Convention which organised the first New York State Eclectic Medical Society. Dr. Potter became president, as well as dean of the new college. One session, however, was all that the two chiefs could abide together. Dr. Davis and the major part of the Faculty removed to Rochester and chartered the Central Medical College anew. They also transferred thither a part of the State Society. Dr. Potter remained behind, and in the fall of 1849 obtained from Judge Pratt his consent to file the certificate of incorporation of the Syracuse Medical College. He also established The Syracuse Medical and Surgical Journal, in form and style like its namesake in Boston.
The same year the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania was incorporated by act of Legislature, and Dr. Potter became its Professor of Surgery. He delivered one course of lectures there in 1851 and then resigned. It required more than collegefees to make a living and pay travelling expenses, and Dr. Potter had a very numerous family. His parents were both dead and he was on the high road, full of devices and enthusiasm to make his own way. The principal peculiarities of the college at Syracuse were the frequent changes in teachers, who generally found it more lucrative and agreeable to get away, and the facility, too common then everywhere, almost, by which a degree was obtained. One season, a professor named Flattery procured a large supply of the diplomas and peddled them off far and wide in the State of New York and Upper Canada. Dr. Potter, however, disowned his action. It is not so easy, judging candidly and impartially to blame these purchasers or even to speak of them with contempt. The possession of a diploma was regarded like a commission in the army; the mode of obtaining it was not so much to be regarded as the authority conferred. It was the day of diplomamills. The conferring of degrees for money had been a common practice in Europe for centuries, indeed it was a characteristic of colleges from the start, and their history is brim full of it. Jenner, the apostle of vaccination, was doctor solely by virtue of a purchased diploma. Old-School colleges. thirty years ago were selling their degrees freely; and an