« PreviousContinue »
So great was the admiration of these extraordinary novelties, that many of them were purloined by the curious visitors, to the no small vexation of their learned proprietor. “When I returned," says Dr. Sloane, " from Jamaica, I brought with me a collection of dried specimens of some very strange plants, which excited the curiosity of the people who loved things of that nature to see them, and who were welcome, till I observed some so very curious as to desire to carry part of them privately home with them, and injure what they left. This made me upon my guard with them.”
He was chosen secretary to the Royal Society in 1693, when he revived the publication of its Transactions, which had been for some years suspended, and continued to edit them till 1712. In 1696 he published his Catalogus Plantarum Insulæ Jamaicæ, etc., which he dedicated to the Royal Society and the College of Physicians. Laudari à laudato viro is always an honour to be coveted ; and, on this occasion, it was justly awarded to him by his friend Mr. Ray, who in the Philosophical Transactions, has ably dilated upon the value and importance of this masterly work. About this time, Dr. Sloane established a Dispensary, the first known, for supplying the poor with medicines at prime cost. His eager pursuit of natural history, amidst all his other employments, never ceased to enrich his collection with every thing curious and valuable that this or any other country could produce; and in 1701 his Museum was consi. derably increased by the purchase of Mr. Courten's large collection, on condition that he should pay certain legacies and debts with which it was charged. This duty hę strictly performed, although the amount to be paid rendered the purchase a dear one. In 1694, Dr. Sloane was chosen physician to Christ's Hospital, which appointment he held for thirty-six years, and exhibited a rare exam. ple of munificence by devoting the whole of the money he received to the benefit of such objects in this establishment as most needed his assistance. Two years afterwards he married Elizabeth, daughter of Alderman Langley, of London, who died in 1724, after she had brought him one son (who died at an early age) and three daughters, the youngest of whom died, also, in her infancy. Sarah, the eldest, married George Stanley, Esq., of Poultons, in the county of Hants; and Elizabeth, the second, married the Right Hon. the Lord Cadogan, colonel of the second regiment of horse guards, and governor of Tilbury Fort and Gravesend.
* By the act of incorporation of the British Museum (26th of Geo. II.), Lord Cadogan and Hans Stanley, Esq., were appointed family trustees, and the present Earl Cadogan and Lord Stanley are now the representatives of this trust.
In 1704, Dr. Sloane sustained a great affliction in the loss of his intimate friend and the companion of his pursuits in natural history, Mr. Ray. He had now enjoyed his society for more than twenty years, and had corresponded with him during this long period. Several of the letters are printed in the Collection of Correspondence between Mr. Ray and his Friends, and others are preserved among the Sloane MSS. in the British Museum.* The following is the last letter ever written by Mr. Ray, about ten days before his death, and presents an affecting, but consolatory, picture of the state of mind of this great and good man, at that awful period.
“Dear Sir,—The best of friends : these are to take a final leave of you in this world. I look upon myself as a dying man. God requite your kindness, expressed any ways towards me, an hundred fold ; bless you with a confluence of all good things in this world, and eternal life and happiness hereafter: grant us an happy meeting in heaven.
I am, Sir, eternally your's, Black Notley, Jan. 7,
John Ray. 1704-5. “ Postscript.-When you happen to write to my sincere friend, Dr. Hatton, I pray tell him I received his most obliging and affectionate letter, for which I return thanks; and acquaint him that I was not able to answer it, or
Here his strength failed him—he could write no more. Dr. Sloane, soon after the death of his friend, was fortunate enough to become acquainted with the celebrated Dr. Sydenham, who was so
• A list of such of the MSS. as relate to Sir Hans Sloane, will, we think, be acceptable to our readers :No. 1968 Miscellaneous Letters and Papers. 2824 Catalogue of a Collection of Medals made in Spain, bought by him. 3328-9 Miscellaneous Papers. 3400 A Poem, presented to Sir H. S. by W. Howard. 3516 Other Poems to him. 3692 Epigram to, by M. Mattaire. 3962 His Letters to Mr. Charleton. 3984, 4034 Medical Papers; on the Plague and on College of Physicians ; much attached to the subject of this memoir, that he took him into his house, and strongly recommended him to his patients.
and Letters to him. 3998 Medical Papers. 4020, 4025 Papers on Natural History. 4032 A Pocket-book, containing Medical Cases, in 1682. 4036 to 4070 Letters to Sir Hans Sloane. 4075-8 Medical Papers. 4288 His Letters to R. des Maizeaux. 4298 Transcripts, by Dr. Birch. 4318 Letters to Dr. Birch.
In 1707, Sir Hans Sloane published, in folio, the first volume of his “Voyage to the Islands of Madeira, Barbadoes, Nieves, St. Christopher's, and Jamaica, with the Natural History of the herbs and trees, four-footed beasts, fishes, birds, insects, reptiles, &c., illustrated with the figures of the things described, which had not heretofore been engraved, in large copper-plates as big as the life.” This was his first contribution to the general stock of knowledge, and when questioned on the subject of his voyage, he was used to say, that, independently of the gratification of a laudable curiosity, he deemed it a sort of duty in a medical man to visit distant countries; for that the ancient and best physicians were wont to travel to the places whence their drugs were brought, to inform themselves concerning them. Speaking of the part of the globe which he had visited, he never ceased to deplore the irreparable loss of fame which this country had suffered in not being the first to partake in the glory of its discovery. “When Bartholomew Columbus” said Sir Hans, “was sent to England by his brother Christopher, in 1488, to persuade Henry VIII. to fit him out for this expedition, a seachart, of the parts of the world then known, was produced, and a proposal made to the king ; but, after much delay and many untoward circumstances, both the map and the proposal were disregarded, and the money that had been first set apart for the purpose, and thought sufficient for the discovery of the new world, was ultimately expended in the purchase of a suite of fine tapestry hangings, brought from Antwerp, and afterwards used for the decoration of Hampton Court."
Notwithstanding the war between England and France at this period, the Doctor was elected a foreign member of the Royal Academy at Paris. His fame, indeed, as a physician, now rapidly increased. He was consulted by the nobility and by royalty itself. Queen Anne often sought his advice, and was attended by him in her last illness. When George I. came to the throne, in 1716, the Doctor was created a Baronet, an honour which had never before been conferred on any English physician; the king also made him physician-general to the army, which he enjoyed till 1727, when he was appointed physician in ordinary to George II., and continued to prescribe for the royal family till his death. He was a particular favourite with Queen Caroline, who placed the greatest confidence in his prescriptions. Sir Hans Sloane was elected president of the College of Physicians in 1719, an office which he held for sixteen years; and was not only zealous in the discharge of the duties con. fided to him, but made the society a present of a hundred pounds, and remitted a very considerable sum owing to him by the corporation. Sir Hans was no less liberal to other learned bodies; he had no sooner purchased the manor of Chelsea than, in 1721, he gave the Apothecaries' Company the freehold of their Botanical Garden, upon the following conditions, viz., the payment of five pounds per annum, and the yearly offering of fifty plauts to the Royal Society, till the number amounted to two thousand. If it were attempted to convert it to any other use, it was to devolve to the Royal Society, and ultimately to the College of Physicians ; but the intentions of the original donor have been faithfully and liberally fulfilled by the Apothecaries, who expend a large sum annu. ally, with no other view than the promotion of botanical knowledge, more especially in the cultivation of curious and rare plants. Lectures are also given twice a week during the season, which are attended by more than two hundred students. Sir Hans Sloane continued a steady friend to this establishment, continually enriching it with scarce and curious plants. He likewise contributed largely towards the buildings and improvements of the garden; and it was principally owing to his generosity and exertions that they were so soon completed for public inspection. As a tribute of gratitude, the Company of Apothecaries employed the celebrated Rysbrach on a marble statue of their benefactor, which is placed near the middle of the garden. On the north side of the pedestal is a Latin inscription, recording Sir Hans Sloane's eminence as a physician, and his encouragement of botany; and on the south side, the following:
That branch of science is
Of their profession,
And general consent,
In the year of our Lord 1733,
May never forget
• Faulkner's Chelsea, p. 21. There is a full-length portrait of Sir Hans in the College of Physicians and in the Gold-headed Cane, to which we are indebted for some anecdotes ; there is also an engraving of the statue in the Botanic Garden, and a view of the latter.
VOL. V.NO. XVII.
In 1727, Sir Hans Sloane succeeded Sir Isaac Newton in the presidency of the Royal Society, and was the first medical president of that learned body. Soon afterwards he presented to the Society one hundred guineas, and a bust of King Charles II., its founder, besides being mainly instrumental in procuring the endowment for Sir Godfrey Copley's annual gold medal. In this year, Sir Hans published the second volume of his Natural History of Jamaica, fc., just twenty years after the appearance of the first; and in the Preface to the former, he accounts for this long delay by enumerating the various articles which then formed his museum, and states that he had numbered and catalogued the whole of them himself, amounting to the immense quantity of nearly 40,000 articles, in. cluding 20,000 coins and medals, 2666 volumes of MSS., and 7,671 Greek and Latin medical authors,* without reckoning a great vari. ety of other books ;t and all this was effected, it should be remem. bered, not in learned leisure, but at intervals snatched from the exercise of his profession, and from the hours usually devoted to sleep. During the greater part of the time employed in arranging and cataloguing his vast collections, Sir Hans was in constant attendance on the royal family, and his practice was, probably, as extensive as that of Sir Henry Halford or Sir Benjamin Brodie in the present day.
From this period till 1740 he devoted a great part of his time to the fulfilment of the duties of the high offices which he held, to the enlargement of his museum, and to the “diffusion of useful knowledge:" not that sort of knowledge so ycleped in modern times--but to the promulgation of every discovery in the healing art which his wisdom and long experience considered beneficial in all those “ills which flesh is heir to." Many marine productions, also, hitherto neglected and despised as useless, were, through his exertions, rendered articles of commerce to those who “ went down to the sea in ships, and beheld the wonders of the great deep.” To these vari. ous occupations must be added that occasioned by the voluminous correspondence which he carried on, for a long series of years, with the learned and scientific in every part of the known world, and which are to be found among his other MSS. in the British Museum. These numerous friends and correspondents continually sup
Van der Linden's book, De Scriptis Medicis, published in 1687, considered the best medical bibliography of the day, enumerates only 3937 ; to these Sir Hans added 3734; a sufficient instance of his zeal and industry in promoting the objects of his profession.
+ Sloane's Jamaica, vol. ii.- Introduction, pp. ii., iii.