« PreviousContinue »
cousin, one of the daughters of Dr. Denman. In consequence of this connection, I had the opportunity of becoming well acquainted with him.
The nephew of William Hunter, he had, on his uncle's death, and at a very early period of life, become established as the principal lecturer in the then famous Anatomical School of Great Windmill Street. He had left off teaching anatomy two or three years before I began my studies in London, and after another year he had resigned his office as physician to St. George's Hospital, so that I had no opportunity of personally knowing him as a teacher either in one place or in the other. That he was excellent as a lecturer is proved by his large and constantly increasing class, and by the high estimation in which he was always held by those who had been his pupils. In the beginning of the present century, being then about forty years of age, he had acquired a very considerable share of private practice, which rapidly increased, until it exceeded in extent not only that of any one among his contemporaries, but probably of any other physician who had preceded him since the days of Radcliffe and Mead. His reputation was of the highest order, as it depended on the opinion entertained of him by the members of his own profession, who always looked up to him as the fittest person to be consulted in cases of difficulty or danger. Their preference of him is to be attributed partly to his knowledge and sagacity, especially in what related to the diagnosis of disease, and partly to his general character, which led him to be always liberal and considerate as to others, at the same time that he never seemed to be anxious about his own reputation, or to take any trouble to obtain peculiar credit for himself. He had also another important qualification for the situation of a consulting physician. He not only had a very clear perception of the matter which was placed before him, distinguishing at once that which was essential from that which was merely inciderrtal; but his habit of lecturing had given him a considerable command of language, which enabled him to explain even a complicated case in the way which was satisfactory to the patient and his friends. In these explanations he never gave his knowledge for more than it was worth, por pretended to know more than he knew in reality; and this simple and straightforward mode of proceeding was one reason why the public reposed in him a degree of confidence which those of more ambitious pretensions were wholly unable to attain. ..
Being the only physician of that time who had been engaged in teaching anatomy, the public naturally, and very justly, considered that he must have some knowledge of disease which others, in his department of the profession, did not possess. But this was not all. Bred up in W. Hunter's museum, of which the anatomy of diseased structures formed an important part, and having had ample opportunities of investigating disease by dissections at St. George's Hospital, he had become, after his uncles, William and John Hunter, the most distinguished pathologist of the day. His work on 'Morbid Anatomy,' which he had published while comparatively a young man, is still the most valuable textbook on that subjcct that
exists. Very much has been added to the knowledge which it contains by the labours of later pathologists, and the use of the achromatic microscope has added another kind of investigation to that which was adopted formerly: still, it is perfect as far as it goes; and the clearness, conciseness, and simplicity of the style, and the brief but accurate sketches of the symptoms during life, which are appended to the account of the appearances after death, have the effect of rendering it a more important help to the practitioner (whose object is to recognize the diseases which come before him, and not merely to study pathology as a curious science), than most of the more elaborate treatises which have been since published.
As a contributor tomedical literature, Baillie's reputation rests almost wholly on the work of which I have now been speaking. He published, however, a few rather interesting, but not very important papers in the “ Transactions of a Society for the Improvement of Medical and Chirurgical Knowledge.” It would be unfair to measure bis reputation by some papers which were published after his death, written during his declining years, when he had outlived the vigour of his intellect.
Baillie was not originally (as I apprehend) a man of great physical powers. It seemed to me that he found exertion, either of body or mind, beyond a certain point always inconvenient and painful. As a young man, he had studied anatomy and physiology, so as to make himself thoroughly qualified for his office as a teacher ; but he never went beyond this, nor entered on any original investigation in either of these departments of knowledge. When he was fully engaged in private practice, his labours were very arduous. He rose at six o'clock in the morning, and was occupied until he breakfasted at eight o'clock, in answering the letters of his correspondents; from that time he was employed in seeing patients until six or seven o'clock in the evening, when he returned home to dinner. He had to make another round of professional visits in the evening, and seldom retired to rest much sooner than twelve o'clock. These labours continued for several successive