صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a second Wife, and in July, 1674, was married to Eve du Bois, Daughter of a Minister of Leyden, who, by her prudent and impartial Conduct, fo endeared herself to her Husband's Children, that they all regarded her as their own Mother.

Herman Boerhaave was always designed by his Father for the Ministry, and with that View instructed by him in grammatical Learning, and the first Elements of Languages ; in which he made such a Proficiency, that he was, at the Age of eleven Years, not only Master of the Rules of Grammar, 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 Agricul. ture, 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, preferved himself, in a great Measure, from those Distempers and Depressions, which are frequently the Confequences of indiscreet Diligence, and uninterrupted Application ; and from which Students, not well acquainted with the Constitution of the hu. man Body, sometimes fly for Relief to Wine, instead of Exercise, and purchase temporary Ease, at the Hazard of chronical Distempers.

The Studies of young Boerhaave were about this Time interrupted by an Accident, which deserves a particular Mention, as it first inclined him to that Science, to which he was by Nature so well adapted, and which he afterwards carried to so great Per. fe&tion.

In the twelfth Year of his Age a stubborn painful, and malignant Ulcer hroke 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 the inost excruciating Pains, but Vol. II,


exposed him to such tharp and tormenting Applications, that the Disease and Remedies were equally insufferable. Then it was that his own Anguilh taught him to compassionate that of others; and his Experience of the Ineflicacy of the Methods then in Ule, incited him to attempt the Discovery of others more certain.

He began to practise at least honestly, for he began upon himself, and his first Eflay 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 fomenting the Part with Salt and Urine, effected a Cure.

That he might on this Occasion obtain the As. fistance of Surgeons with less Inconvenience and Expence, he was brought by his Father, at Fourteen, to Leyden, and placed in the fourth Class of the public School, after having been examined by the Master: Here his Application and Abilities were equally conspicuous. In fix Months, by gaining the first Prize in the fourth Class, he was raised to the Fifth ; and in fix Months more, upon the same Proof of the Superiority of his Genius, rewarded with another Prize, and translated to the Sixth ; from whence it is usual, in fix Months more, to be removed to the University.

Thus did our young Student advance in Learning and Reputation, when, as he was within View of the University, a sudden and unexpected Blow threatened to defeat all his Expectations.

On the 12th of November, 1682, his Father died, and left behind him a very slender Provision for his Widow and nine Children, of which the Eldest was not seventeen Years old. · This was a most afflicting Loss to the young Scholar, whose Fortune was by no means fufficient to bear the Expences of a learned Education, and who therefore now seemed to be summoned by Ne


relity to some Way of Life more immediately and certainly lucrative ; but with a Resolution equal to his Abilities, and a Spirit not to be depreffed or fhaken, he determined to break through the Oblacles of Poverty, and supply by Diligence the Want of Fortune.

He therefore asked and obtained the Consent of his Guardian, to profecute his Studies as long as his Patrimony would support him; and, continuing his. wonted Industry, gained another Prize.

He was now to quit the School for the Univerfity ; but, on Account of the Weakness yet remaining in his Thigh, was, at his own Intreaty, conti. nued fix Months longer, under the Care of his Malter the learned Wynschoton, where he once more was honoured with the Prize."

At bis 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 foon after Professor of Divinity of 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 became now a diligent Hearer of the most celebrated Profeffors, and made great Advances in all the Sciences, ftill regulating his Studies with a View principally to Divinity, for which he was originally intended by his Father; and for that Reason he exerted his utmost Application to attain an exact Knowledge of the Hebrew Tongue.

Being convinced of the Necessity of mathematical Learning, he began to study those Sciences in 1687, but without that intense Industry with which the Pleafure 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

P 2


Degree in Philosophy; and on that Occasion discussed the important and arduous Question 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 the Character of his Piety and Erudition.

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 Romanus.

In the Perusal of those early Writers, he was struck with the profoundelt Veneration for the Simplicity and Purity of their Doctrine, the Holiness of their Lives, and the Sanctity of the Discipline practised by them ; but as he descended to the lower Ages, he found the Peace of Christianity broken by uselefs Controversies, and its Doctrines sophisticated by the Subtilties of the Schools. He found the Holy Writers interpreted according to the Notions of Philofophers, and the Chimeras of Metaphysicians adopted as Articles of Faith. He found Difficulties raised by idle Curiosity, and fomented to Bitterness and Rancour. He saw the Simplicity of the Christian Doctrine corrupted by the private Notions of particular Parties, of which each adhered to its own Philosophy, and Orthodoxy was confined to the Seet 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 Mathematicks, he read Lectures in those Sciences to a select Number of young Gentlemen in the University

At 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 Employment of his Life, he could not deny himself the Satisfaction of spending some Time upon the medicinal Writers, for the perusal of which he was so well qualified by his Acquaintance with the Mathematics and Philosophy.

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 further, 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 Mens Ambition is generally proportioned to their Capacity. Providence feldom 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 competent Knowledge in Medicine by way of Digreflion from theological Stu-... dies, would have been little less than Madness in most Men, and would have exposed them to Ridicule and Contempt: But Boerhaave was one of those mighty Capacities 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 Verfalius, Bartholine, and Fallopius ; and to acquaint himself more fully with the Structure of Bodies, was a constant Attendant upon Nuck's pablic 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 bis Inquiries down



« السابقةمتابعة »