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William Cullen

medical, medicine, professor, practice, glasgow, university, edinburgh, hunter, time and john

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CULLEN, WILLIAM, a well-known physician of the last century, and one of the most celebrated professors of medicine in the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow,_was born at I randlton, in Lanarkshire, on the 15th day of April, 1710. His father was factor the duke of Hatnilton, and was possessed of a little landed property in the parish of Bothwell; he appears to have brought up two of his sons to the learned professions, and to have himself received a legal education. William C. received the first part of his education at the grammar-school of Hamilton, and afterwards began his medical studies in Glasgow by an apprenticeship, and by attending literary classes in the university. At this time (about 1727), it does not appear that there was any systematic medical teaching in Glasgow university, though the medical school of Edinburgh was just rising to the height of its fame, under the auspices of the first Monro. C.'s master in the art. however, Mr. John Paisley, was a liberal and enlightened man, having a valu able library, of which the pupil may be presumed to have made good use. In 1729, having for the time his medical education, he was appointed surgeon to a merchant-ship, trading to the West Indies; and from this time till 1734, he was actively engaged in learning his profession practically in various situations, but without accept In any permanent responsibility. He next spent two additional winter-sessions hi Edinburgh in the regular study of medicine, and was one of the founders of that important students' association—since called the royal medical society—the object of which was, and is, the advancement of the medical knowledge of the members by peri odical discussions on subjects of interest connected with medical study. In 1736, he commenced practice at Hamilton, and very soon was largely employed, having secured from the first the influence and friendship of the duke of Hamilton and of other persons of distinction. Soon after, he became acquainted with William Hunter, afterwards the celebrated anatomist and obstetric professor, and brother of the still more celebrated John Hunter. See HUNTER, JOHN and Alriwam. The three years passed by Hunter under Cullen's roof formed the beginning of a life-long friendship, although after Hunter went to London, it is probable that they never again met. In 1740, C. took the degree of doctor of medicine in the university of Glasgow; in 1741, he entered into partnership with a surgeon, with the view of confining himself to a physician's practice; in 1744, he responded to the invitation of a number of families in Glasgow, and took a house in that city, an object which it is probable he had in view some years before, but which he was prevented from carrying out by the friendship and liberal patronage of the duke of Hamilton, who in 1743. Various circumstances indicate that during the seven years passed in practice in Hamilton, C. was diligently preparing, not only for the practice, but also for the teaching, of his profession; andaccordiney, he had no sooner settled in Glasgow, than we find him engaged in giving a course of lectures, in regard to which his correspondence with William Hunter sufficiently shows that it was successful, and deserved success. tip to this period, though professorships of medicine, and of anatomy with botany, existed in the university, no lectures were delivered in either medicine or botany; and it seems certain that to C. that university owes the real com mencement of its medical school; for in one or two years succeeding 1746, he made arrangements with the several professors to lecture on the theory and practice of physic, on botany and the materia inedica, and finally on chemistry, being assisted in these last departments by Mr. John Carrick, who also acted as assistant to the professor of anatomy.

In botany, C. seems to have lectured in Latin, but in the other departments he adopted the English language as the vehicle of expression, an innovation of great importance, which permitted him to adopt a more familiar style of lecturing than had hitherto been in use. One of his original hearers records that "in the physic class, Dr. Cullen never read lectures, but only used notes; in the chemistry, he sometimes read, but very .seldom."* Ile was supported by the university by votes amounting to .,-C136 for the chemical lab oratory, and £20 annually for keeping it in repair. As a chemist, he does not appear to have made any notable discovery; but he imbued the minds of his pupils with large and liberal views of a science then very imperfectly studied, and was beyond all doubt the means of raising up the great reputation of Dr. Black, by turning his thoughts to the subject of latent heat, which he prosecuted so successfully by a series of conclusive and most original experiments. In 1751, after somewhat prolonged negotiations, C. was placed, through the influence of the duke of Argyle, for the first time in his rightful position as a professor in the university of Glasgow, in room of Dr. Johnstone, the pro fessor of medicine. But by this time it had begun to be apparent that an opening both for teaching and practice existed in Edinburgh, and lord Karnes, whose knowledge both •of general science and of Edinburgh society placed him in a favorable position for judg ing of the chances of success, made several attempts to attract the rising and ambitious Glasgow professor to the metropolis; in which design, however, he was not successful till four years afterwards, when C. was elected by the town-council joint professor of chemistry with Dr. Plummer, who had fallen into bad health, and who died about a year afterwards. In 1757, his ever-active mind found a new direction in adding to his duties as professor of chemistry the teaching of clinical medicine in the royal infirmary, a duty up to this period performed by Dr. Rutherford only, the professor of medicine and botany. The clear-sightedness and practical sagacity which he brought to this work at once fixed his position as a teacher and as a physician. Probably, also, the fact of his having to give bedside instruction at this period opposed itself to the natural tendency his mind to give everything a systematic form, and weeded his method of practice of an immense quantity of the scholastic rubbish which appears prominently in all the medical learning of that age. He became. a decided favorite with the students, and not less so with his patients; and in 1760, was applied to by the former to undertake the lectures on materia medics, in consequence of the death•of Dr. Alston during the session. This duty he performed so well, that his lectures were surreptitiously printed from the notes of a pupil, and had a considerable circulation. On the resignation of Dr. Rutherford, it was reasonably expected that C. would have been transferred from the chemical chair to that of the practice of physic, for which he had shown so decided an aptitrule; but personal views interfered, and Dr. John Gregory was appointed to tho practical chair. In 1766, C. was, however, placed in the chair of institutes of medicine, vacant by the death of Dr. Whytt; and Black, now the greatest chemical discoverer of the age, was brought to Edinburgh from Glasgow to fill U.'s place as professor of chem.

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