Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/209

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MONETTE


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MONETTE


lished by DarAvin in 1869, in the widely recognized literary prize of the last cen- tury, "The Origin of Species," were stated by Dr. Monette in a hypothetical way thirty-five years earlier. One of these writers based his conclusions on deductive and the other on inductive reasoning.

Although Dr. Monette showed a reverent regard for the Scriptures, he was not inclined to accept them as scien- tific authorities. He was glad to find his conclusions corroborated by the ancient writer of Genesis, but was not led to his conclusions by an attempt to square his facts with Genesis.

Another paper belonging to the early period of Dr. Monette's Uterary activity bears the title "Essay on the Improba- bility of Spontaneous Production of Animals and Plants." This contribution was probably never published and is decidedly interesting even at this time.

The results of his diligent efforts are pathetic. He seemed to be completely enamored of science, but his ideals were so exalted he could not give his consent to publish many of the treatises that he prepared with the greatest care from time to time. The only evidence that remains of his persistent efforts to pene- trate the secret of nature is the large batch of manuscripts, now yellow with age, which are prized by his son as a most precious family heritage. Like his great predecessor, William Dunbar, the pioneer scientist of the Mississippi Valley, his name does not appear in the history of American science, yet his services entitle him to distinction in the state of his adoption.

As early as 1833 Dr. Monette entered upon his great literary undertaking — the WTiting of an elaborate work on the " Geography and History of the Missis- sippi Valley."

The first volume of this work contains a history of the Mississippi Valley prior to the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States. The second volume, entitled "The United States in the Valley of the Mississippi," contains the


first comprehensive history of the Miss- issippi Valley as a whole during this period. There were few books of value then available upon the history of the Mississippi Valley which are not referred to in the footnotes of these volumes.

Dr. Monette did not live to finish the work on his physical geography, which treatise he seemed to think would be his most important contribution to knowl- edge. Judging from his manuscripts, this work was well-nigh completed at the time of his death.

Dr. Monette also wrote, from time to time, anonymous articles, humerous or satirical. Among his miscellaneous writings may be mentioned a poem of 250 Hues on "Friendship." It was first written in 1823, and, to use the language of the author, was " Inscribed to Hon. A. Covington, the humane, the generous, and the good." It was rewritten and enlarged for the "Natchez Gazette" in August, 1825. Among his other poetical efforts are an " Ode to July 4, 1820" and "A Satirical Poem." Among his anonymous writings are a number of articles on "Empiricism." These were directed principally against the preten- sions and practices of the "steam doc- tors," the disciples of Samuel Thompson, Samuel Wilcox and Horton Howard. Dr. Monette says that the general tenor of the teachings of all these men is the same, viz., "that all diseases proceed from cold, and are curable by capsicum, lobeha, and steaming."

Dr. Monette died in the prime of his life, without reaping the full fruits of his years of unremitting toil. A marble slab in the family burying ground at his old home, "Sweet Auburn," in Washington, Mississippi, bears the simple inscription:

SACRED

TO THE MEMORY OF

JOHN WESLEY MONETTE, M. D.,

BORN APRIL 5, 1803.

DIED MARCH 1, 1851.

F. L. R.

Abridged from an account by Dr. Franklin L. Riley, in the Miss. Hist. See. Jour., vol. ix.