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conduct, so endeared herself to her husband's children, that they all regarded her as their own mother.
rewarded with another prize, and translated to the sixth: from whence it is usual in six months more to be removed to the university.
Thus did our young student advance in learn
Herman Boerhaave was always designed by his father for the ministry, and with that viewing and reputation, when, as he was within instructed by him in grammatical learning, and view of the university, a sudden and unexpected the first elements of languages; in which he blow threatened to defeat all his expectations. made such a proficiency, that he was, at the age of eleven years, not only master of the rules of gramınar, but capable of translating with tolerable accuracy, and not wholly ignorant of critical niceties.
At intervals, to recreate his mind, and strengthen his constitution, it was his father's custom to send him into the fields, and employ him in agriculture and such kind of rural occupations, which he continued through all his life to love and practise; and by this vicissitude of study and exercise preserved himself, in a great measure, from those distempers and depressions which are frequently the consequences of indiscreet diligence, and uninterrupted application; and from which students, not well acquainted with the constitution of the human body, sometimes fly for relief to wine instead of exercise, and purchase temporary ease by the hazard of the most dreadful consequences.
On the 12th of November, in 1682, his father died, and left behind him a very slender provision for his widow and nine children, of which the eldest was not yet seventeen years old.
That he might, on this occasion, obtain the assistance of surgeons with less inconvenience and expense, he was brought, by his father, at fourteen, to Leyden, and placed in the fourth class of the public school, after being examined by the master: here his application and abilities were equally conspicuous. In six months, by gaining the first prize in the fourth class, he was raised to the fifth and in six months more, upon the same proof of the superiority of his genius,
This was a most afflicting loss to the young scholar, whose fortune was by no means sufficient to bear the expenses of a learned education, and who therefore seemed to be now summoned by necessity to some way of life more immediately and certainly lucrative; but, with a resolution equal to his abilities, and a spirit not so depressed and shaken, he determined to break through the obstacles of poverty, and supply, by diligence, the want of fortune.
He therefore asked and obtained the consent of his guardians to prosecute his studies, so long as his patrimony would support him; and, continuing his wonted industry, gained another prize.
He was now to quit the school for the uni
The studies of young Boerhaave were, about this time, interrupted by an accident, which de-versity, but on account of the weakness yet reserves particular mention, as it first inclined him maining in his thigh, was at his own intreaty to that science, to which he was by nature so continued six months longer under the care of well adapted, and which he afterwards carried his master, the learned Winschotan, where he to so great perfection. once more was honoured with the prize.
In the twelfth year of his age, a stubborn, painful, and malignant ulcer, broke out upon his left thigh; which, for near five years, defeated all the art of the surgeons and physicians, and not only afflicted him with most excruciating pains, but exposed him to such sharp and tormenting applications, that the disease and remedies were equally insufferable. Then it was that his own pain taught him to compassionate others, and his experience of the inefficacy of the methods then in use incited him to attempt the discovery of others more certain.
At his removal to the university, the same genius and industry met with the same encouragement and applause. The learned Triglandius, one of his father's friends, made soon after professor of divinity at Leyden, distinguished him in a particular manner, and recommended him to the friendship of Mr. Van Apphen, in whom he found a generous and constant patron.
He began to practise at least honestly, for he began upon himself; and his first essay was a prelude to his future success, for, having laid aside all the prescriptions of his physicians, and all the applications of his surgeons, he at last, by tormenting the part with salt and urine, ef fected a cure.
He became now a diligent hearer of the most celebrated professors, and made great advances in all the sciences; still regulating his studies with a view principally to divinity, for which he was originally intended by his father, and for that reason exerted his utmost application to attain an exact knowledge of the Hebrew tongue.
Being convinced of the necessity of mathema.. tical learning, he began to study those sciences in 1687, but without that intense industry with which the pleasure he found in that kind of knowledge induced him afterwards to cultivate them.
In 1690, having performed the exercises of the university with uncommon reputation, he took his degree in philosophy; and on that occasion discussed the important and arduous subject of the distinct natures of the soul and body, with such accuracy, perspicuity, and subtilty, that he entirely confuted all the sophistry of Epicurus,
Hobbes, and Spinosa, and equally raised theployment of his life, he could not deny himself characters of piety and erucition. the satisfaction of spending some time upon the medical writers, for the perusal of which he was so well qualified by his acquaintance with mathematics and philosophy.
Divinity was still his great employment, and the chief aim of all his studies. He read the scriptures in their original languages, and when difficulties occurred, consulted the interpretations of the most ancient fathers, whom he read in order of time, beginning with Clemens Ro
In the perusal of those early writers, he was struck with the profoundest veneration of the simplicity and purity of their doctrines, the holiness of their lives, and the sanctity of the discipline practised by them; but, as he descended to the lower ages, found the peace of Christianity broken by useless controversies, and its doctrines sophisticated by the subtilties of the schools. He found the holy writers interpreted according to the notions of philosophers, and the chimeras of metaphysicians adopted as articles of faith. He found difficulties raised by niceties, and fomented to bitter. ness and rancour. He saw the simplicity of the Christian doctrine corrupted by the private fancies of particular parties, while each adhered to its own philosophy, and orthodoxy was confined to the sect in power.
Having now exhausted his fortune in the pursuit of his studies, he found the necessity of applying to some profession, that, without engrossing all his time, might enable him to support himself; and, having obtained a very uncommon knowledge of the mathematics, he read lectures in those sciences to a select number of young gentlemen in the university.
At length, his propension to the study of physic grew too violent to be resisted; and, though he still intended to make divinity the great em
"Jungebat his exercitiis quotidianam patrum lectionem, secundum chronologiam, a Clemente Romano exorsus, et juxta seriem seculorum descen
dens: ut Jesu Christi doctrinam in N. T. traditam,
primis patribus interpretantibus, addisceret.
"Horum simplicitatem sincera doctrinæ, disciplinæ sanctitatem, vitæ Deo dicatæ integritatem adorabat. Subtilitatem scholarum divina postmodum inquinasse dolebat. Egerrime tulit, Sacrorum interpretationem ex sectis sophistarum peti: et Platonis, Aristotelis, Thomæ Aquinatis, Scoti; suoque tempore Cartesii, cogitata metaphysica adhiberi pro legibus, ad quas castigarentur sacrorum scriptorum de Deo sententiæ. Experiebatur acerba dissidia, ingeniorumque subtilissimorum acerrima certamina, odia, ambitiones, inde cieri, foveri; adeo contraria paci cum Deo et homine Nihil hic magis illi obst bat; quam quod omnes asserant sacram scripturam
But this science corresponded so much with his natural genius, that he could not forbear making that his business which he intended only as his diversion; and still growing more eager as he advanced farther, he at length determined wholly to master that profession, and to take his degree in physic, before he engaged in the duties of the ministry.
It is, I believe, a very just observation, that men's ambition is generally proportioned to their capacity. Providence seldom sends any into the world with an inclination to attempt great things, who have not abilities likewise to perform them. To have formed the design of gaining a complete knowledge of medicine by way of digression from theological studies, would have been little less than madness in most men, and would have only exposed them to ridicule and contempt. But Boerhaave was one of those mighty geniuses, to whom scarce any thing appears impossible, and who think nothing worthy of their efforts but what appears insurmountable to common understandings.
He began this new course of study by a diligent perusal of Vesalius, Bartholine, and Fallopius; and, to acquaint himself more fully with the structure of bodies, was a constant attendant upon Nuck's public dissections in the theatre, and himself very accurately inspected the bodies of different animals.
Having furnished himself with this preparatory knowledge, he began to read the ancient physicians in the order of time, pursuing his inquiries downwards from Hippocrates through all the Greek and Latin write.s3.
Finding, as he tells us himself, that Hippoknowledge, and that all the later writers were crates was the original source of all medical little more than transcribers from him, he returned to him with more attention, and spent much time in making extracts from him, digesting his treatises into method, and fixing them in his memory.
He then descended to the moderns, among whom none engaged him longer, or improved him more, than Sydenham, to whose merit he has left this attestation, "that he frequently perused him, and always with greater eager
His insatiable curiosity after knowledge en
ἀνθοωποπαθὼς loquentem, θιεπριπώς explicandam; et gaged him now in the practice of chemistry,
Bongiovar singuli definiant ex placitis suæ metaphy-
which he prosecuted with all the ardour of a
himself by his zeal, instead of confuting the positions of Spinosa by argument, began to give
Yet did he not suffer one branch of science to withdraw his attention from others: anatomy did not withhold him from chemistry, nor che-a loose to contumelious language, and virulent invectives, which Boerhaave was so little pleased with, that at last he could not forbear asking him whether he had ever read the author he declaimed against.
mistry, enchanting as it is, from the study of botany, in which he was no less skilled than in other parts of physic. He was not only a careful examiner of all the plants in the garden of the university, but made excursions for his farther improvement into the woods and fields, and left no place unvisited where any increase of botanical knowledge could be reasonably hoped for.
In conjunction with all these inquiries he still pursued his theological studies, and still, as we are informed by himself, "proposed, when he had made himself master of the whole art of physic, and obtained the honour of a degree in that science, to petition regularly for a license to preach, and to engage in the cure of souls," and intended in his theological exercise to discuss this question, "why so many were formerly converted to Christianity by illiterate persons, and so few at present by men of learning."
In pursuance of this plan he went to Hardewich, in order to take the degree of doctor in physic, which he obtained in July, 1693, having performed a public disputation, "de utilitate explorandorum excrementorum in ægris, ut signorum."
Then returning to Leyden full of his pious design of undertaking the ministry, he found to his surprise unexpected obstacles thrown in his way, and an insinuation dispersed through the university that made him suspected, not of any slight deviation from received opinions, not of any pertinacious adherence to his own notions in doubtful and disputable matters, but of no less than Spinosism, or, in plainer terms, of Atheism itself.
How so injurious a report came to be raised, circulated, and credited, will be doubtless very eagerly inquired; we shall therefore give the relation, not only to satisfy the curiosity of mankind, but to show that no merit, however exalted, is exempt from being not only attacked, but wounded, by the most contemptible whispers. Those who cannot strike with force, can however poison their weapon, and, weak as they are, give mortal wounds, and bring a hero to the grave: so true is that observation, that many are able to do hurt, but few to do good.
This detestable calumny owed its rise to an incident from which no consequence of importance could be possibly apprehended. As Boerhaave was sitting in a common boat, there arose a conversation among the passengers upon the impious and pernicious doctrine of Spinosa, which, as they all agreed, tends to the utter overthrow of all religion. Boerhaave sat, and attended silently to this discourse for some time, till one of the company, willing to distinguish
The orator, not being able to make much an. swer, was checked in the midst of his invectives, but not without feeling a secret resentment against the person who had at once interrupted his harangue, and exposed his ignorance.
This was observed by a stranger who was in the boat with them; he inquired of his neighbour the name of the young man, whose question had put an end to the discourse, and having learned it, set it down in his pocket-book, as it appears, with a malicious design, for in a few days it was the common conversation at Leyden, that Boerhaave had revolted to Spinosa.
It was in vain that his advocates and friends pleaded his learned and unanswerable confutation of all atheistical opinions, and particularly of the system of Spinosa, in his discourse of the distinction between soul and body. Such calumnies are not easily suppressed, when they are once become general. They are kept alive and supported by the malice of bad, and sometimes by the zeal of good men, who, though they do not absolutely believe them, think it yet the securest method to keep not only guilty, but suspected men out of public employments, upon this principle, that the safety of many is to be preferred before the advantage of few.
Boerhaave, finding this formidable opposition raised against his pretensions to ecclesiastical honours or preferments, and even against his design of assuming the character of a divine, thought it neither necessary nor prudent to struggle with the torrent of popular prejudice, as he was equally qualified for a profession, not indeed of equal dignity or importance, but which must undoubtedly claim the second place among those which are of the greatest benefit to mankind.
He therefore applied himself to his medical studies with new ardour and alacrity, reviewed all his former observations and inquiries, and was continually employed in making new acquisitions.
Having now qualified himself for the practice of physic, he began to visit patients, but without that encouragement which others, not equally deserving, have sometimes met with. His business, was, at first, not great, and his circumstances by no means easy; but still, superior to any discouragement, he continued his search after knowledge, and determined that prosperity, if ever he was to enjoy it, should be the consequence not of mean art, or disingenuous solicitations, but of real merit, and solid learning.
His steady adherence to his resolutions appears yet more plainly from this circumstance: he was, while he yet remained in this unpleasing situation, invited by one of the first favourites of King William III. to settle at the Hague, upon very advantageous conditions; but declined the offer. For having no ambition but after knowledge, he was desirous of living at liberty, without any restraint upon his looks, his thoughts, or his tongue, and at the utinost distance from all contentions, and state parties. His time was wholly taken up in visiting the sick, studying, making chemical experiments, searching into every part of medicine with the utmost diligence, teaching the mathematics, and reading the scriptures, and those authors who profess to teach a certain method of loving God.*
This was his method of living to the year 1701, when he was recommended by Van Berg to the university, as a proper person to succeed Drelincurtius in the professorship of physic, and elected without any solicitations on his part, and almost without his consent, on the 18th of May.
On this occasion, having observed, with grief, that Hippocrates, whom he regarded not only as the father but as the prince of physicians, was not sufficiently read or esteemed by young students, he pronounced an oration, "De commendando Studio Hippocratico;" by which he restored that great author to his just and ancient reputation.
portion to his merit, and extended itself to distant universities; so that, in 1703, the professorship of physic being vacant at Groningen, he was invited thither; but he refused to leave Leyden, and chose to continue his present course of life.
This invitation and refusal being related to the governors of the university of Leyden, they had so grateful a sense of his regard for them, that they immediately voted an honorary increase of his salary, and promised him the first professorship that should be vacant.
On this occasion he pronounced an oration upon the use of mechanics in the science of physic, in which he endeavoured to recommend a rational and mathematical enquiry into the causes of diseases, and the structure of bodies; and to show the follies and weaknesses of the jargon introduced by Paracelsus, Helmont, and other chemical enthusiasts, who have obtruded upon the world the most airy dreams, and instead of enlightening their readers with explications of nature, have darkened the plainest appearances, and bewildered mankind in error and obscurity.
"Circa hoc tempus, lautis conditionibus, lauti. oribus promissis, invitatus, plus vice simplici, a viro primariæ dignationis, qui gratia flagrantissima flore. bat regis Gulielmi III. ut Hagam comitum sedem caperet fortunarum, declinavit constans. Contentus videlicet vita libera, remota a turbis, studiisque porro percolendis unice impensa, ubi non cogeretur alia dicere et simulare, alia sentire et dissimulare: affectuum studiis rapi, regi. Sic tum vita erat, ægros visere, mox domi in museo se condere, officinam Vulcaniam exercere; omnes medicinæ partes acerrime persequi; mathematica etiam aliis tradere; sacra legere, et auctores qui profitentur docere rati onem certam amandi Deum. Orig. Edit.
Boerhaave had now for nine years read physical lectures, but without the title or dignity of a professor, when, by the death of professor Hotten, the professorship of physic and botany fell to him of course.
On this occasion he asserted the simplicity and facility of the science of physic, in opposition to those that think obscurity contributes to the dignity of learning, and that to be admired it is necessary not to be understood.
His profession of botany made it part of his
He now began to read public lectures with great applause, and was prevailed upon by his audience to enlarge his original design, and instruct them in chemistry. This he undertook, not only to the great ad- duty to superintend the physical garden, which vantage of his pupils, but to the great improve-improved so much by the immense number of ment of the art itself, which had hitherto been new plants which he procured, that it was entreated only in a confused and irregular manner, larged to twice its original extent. and was little more than a history of particular experiments, not reduced to certain principles, nor connected one with another: this vast chaos he reduced to order, and made that clear and easy, which was before to the last degree difficult and obscure.
In 1714, he was deservedly advanced to the highest dignities of the university, and in the same year made physician of St. Augustine's hospital, in Leyden, into which the students are admitted twice a-week, to learn the practice of physic.
His reputation now began to bear some pro
This was of equal advantage to the sick and to the students, for the success of his practice was the best demonstration of the soundness of his principles.
When he laid down his office of governor of the university, in 1715, he made an oration upon the subject of" attaining to certainty in natural philosophy;" in which he declares, in the strongest terms, in favour of experimental knowledge, and reflects, with just severity, upon those arrogant philosophers, who are too easily disgusted with the slow methods of obtaining true notions by frequent experiments, and who, possessed with too high an opinion of their own abilities, rather choose to consult their own imaginations, than enquire into na
ture, and are better pleased with the charming | lous at home, while their writings procure them amusement of forming hypotheses, than the the veneration of distant countries, where their toilsome drudgery of making observations. learning is known, but not their follies.
Not that his countrymen can be charged with being insensible of his excellencies till other nations taught them to admire him; for in 1718, he was chosen to succeed Le Mort in the professorship of chemistry; on which occasion he pronounced an oration "De chemia errores suos ex
The emptiness and uncertainty of all those systems, whether venerable for their antiquity, or agreeable for their novelty, he has evidently shown; and not only declared, but proved, that we are entirely ignorant of the principles of hings, and that all the knowledge we have is such qualities alone as are discoverable by ex-purgante," in which he treated that science with perience, or such as may be deduced from them an elegance of style not often to be found in cheby mathematical demonstration. mical writers, who seem generally to have affected not only a barbarous, but unintelligible phrase, and to have, like the Pythagoreans of old, wrapt up their secrets in symbols and ænigmatical expressions, either because they believed that mankind would reverence most what they least understood, or because they wrote not from benevolence but vanity, and were desirous to be praised for their knowledge, though they could not prevail upon themselves to communicate it.
This discourse, filled as it was with piety, and a true sense of the greatness of the Supreme Being, and the incomprehensibility of his works, gave such offence to a professor of Franeker, who professed the utmost esteem for Des Cartes, and considered his principles as the bulwark of orthodoxy, that he appeared in vindication of his darling author, and spoke of the injury done him with the utmost vehemence, declaring little less than that the Cartesian system and the Christian must inevitably stand and fall together, and that to say that we were ignorant of the principles of things, was not only to enlist among the Sceptics, but sink into Atheism itself.
In 1722, his course both of lectures and practice was interrupted by the gout, which, as he relates it in his speech after his recovery, he brought upon himself, by an imprudent confidence in the strength of his own constitution, and by transgressing those rules which he had a
So far can prejudice darken the understand-thousand times inculcated to his pupils and acing, as to make it consider precarious systems quaintance. Rising in the morning before day, as the chief support of sacred and invariable he went immediately, hot and sweating, from truth. his bed into the open air, and exposed himself to the cold dews.
This treatment of Boerhaave was so far resented by the governors of his university, that they procured from Franeker a recantation of the invective that had been thrown out against him; this was not only complied with, but offers were made him of more ample satisfaction; to which he returned an answer not less to his honour than the victory he gained, "that he should think himself sufficiently compensated, if his adversary received no farther molestation on his account.'
So far was this weak and injudicious attack from shaking a reputation not casually raised by fashion or caprice, but founded upon solid merit, that the same year his correspondence was desired upon Botany and Natural Philosophy by the Academy of Sciences at Paris, of which he was, upon the death of Count Marsigli, in the year 1729, elected a member.
Nor were the French the only nation by which this great man was courted and distinguished; for, two years after, he was elected fellow of our Royal Society.
It cannot be doubted but, thus caressed and honoured with the highest and most public marks of esteem by other nations, he became more celebrated in the university; for Eɔerhaave was not one of those learned men, of whom the world has seen too many, that disgrace their studies by their vices, and by unaccountable weaknesses make themselves ridicu
The history of his illness can hardly be read without horror: he was for five months confined to his bed, where he lay upon his back without daring to attempt the least motion, because any effort renewed his torments, which were so exquisite, that he was at length not only deprived of motion but of sense. Here art was at a stand, nothing could be attempted, because nothing could be proposed with the least prospect of success. At length having, in the sixth month of his illness, obtained some remission, he took simple medicines in large quantities, and at length wonderfully recovered.
His recovery, so much desired, and so unexpected, was celebrated on Jan. 11, 1723, when he opened his school again, with general joy and public illuminations.
It would be an injury to the memory of Boerhaave not to mention what was related by himself to one of his friends, that when he lay whole days and nights without sleep, he found no method of diverting his thoughts so effectual as meditation upon his studies, and that he often relieved and mitigated the sense of his torments
"Succos pressos bibit Noster herbarum Cichores, Endiviæ, Fumariæ, Nasturtii aquatici, Veronica aquatica latifolia, copia ingenti; simul deglutiens abun dantissime gummi ferulacca Asiatica." Orig. Edit.