Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/204

This page needs to be proofread.


MITCHILL


180


MITCHILL


tions on tlio phosphoresconcc of tlic waters of the ocean, on the fecundity of fish, on the decortication of fruit trees, on the anatomy and physiology of the shark, swelled the mystery of his diversifieti knowledge. His corresi)ondence with Priestly is an example of the delicious manner in whicli argument can be con- ducted in philosophical discussion. His elaborate account of the fishes of our fresh and salt waters adjacent to New York, comprising 166 species, afterwards enlarged, invoked the plaudits of Cuvier. Reflections on somnium — the case of Rachel Baker — evinced psychological views of original combination, while the numerous papers on natural history enriched the annals of the Lyceum, of which he was long president. Researches on the ethnological characteristics of the red man of America betrayed the benev- olence of his nature and his generous spirit. The fanciful article, "Fredonia," intended for a new and more appropriate geographical designation for the United States, was at one period a topic which enlisted a voluminous correspondence, now printed in the proceedings of the New York Historical Society.

He increased our knowledge of the vegetable materia medica of the United States, and wrote largely on the subject to Barton of Philadelphia, Cutler of Massachusetts, Darlington of Pennsyl- vania, and Ramsay of South Carolina. He introduced into practice the. scssaww//; orientale. With Percival, of Manchester, and other philosophers in Europe, he corresponded lengthily on noxious agents, also seconded the views of Judge Peters on gypsum as a fertilizer. He cheered Fulton when he was dejected; encouraged Livingston in appropriation; awakened new zeal in Wilson, when Tompkins, the governor of the state, had nigh paralyzed him by his frigid and unfeeling reception; and with John Pintard, Cadwallader D. Colden, and Thomas Eddy, was a zealous promoter of that system of internal improvement which has stamped immor- tality on the name of De Witt Clinton. Jonathan Williams had his co-operation in


furtherance of th(> Military Academy at West Point; and, for a long series of years, he was an important professor of agri- culture and chemistry in Columbia Col- lege, and of natural history, botany, and materia medica in the College of Physi- cians and Surgeons of New York. His letters to Tilloch, of London, on the progress of his mind in the investigation of septic acid — oxygenated azote — are curious as a physiological document. Many of his papers are in the " London Philosophical Magazine" and in the " New York Medical Repository," a journal of wide renown, which he established with Miller and Smith; yet he wrote in the "American Medical and Philosophical Register," the "New York Medical and Physical Journal," the "American Miner- alogical Journal," of Bruce, the "Trans- actions of the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia," and supplied several other periodicals, both abroad and at home, with the results of his cogitations. He accompanied Fulton on his first voyage in a steamboat, in August, 1807; and, with Williamson and Hosack, he organized the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York in 1814. Griscom, Eddy, Colden, Gerard, and Wood found him zealous in the establishment, with them, of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. Mitchill's translations of our Indian War Songs gave him increased celebrity; and I believe he was admitted, for this generous service, an associate of their tribes. The Mohawks had received him into their fraternity at the time when he was with the commission at the treaty of Fort Stanwix.

As a physician of the New York Hos- pital, he never omitted to employ the results of his investigations for clinical appliances. The simplicity of his pre- scriptions often provoked a smile on the part of his students, while he was ac- knowledged a sound physician at the bed.side.

His first course of lectures on natural history, including geology, mineralogy, zoology, ichthyology, and botany, was delivered, in extenso, in the College of