Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/247

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NORTH


ed his practice of vaccination was not profitable, on account of the many, experienced and inexperienced, who undertook to perform it. Besides being one of the pioneers in the study of vacci- nation, he early took up the investigation of epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis, when this dread disease appeared in this country, in 1807, coming upon Goshen "like a flood of mighty waters, bringing along with it the horrors of a most dread- ful plague." The malady completely mystified and baffled all the physicians who tried to cope with it; they found difficulty in giving it an adequate name; they were unable to classify it; they were at variance as to the best methods of treatment. With commendable care North sought to acquaint the public with this new and dread affection, by giving in book form the views of the various authors in this country upon it, as well as his own. His experience with it was very extensive and his treatment most successful, and though he attended more than 200 patients with it, yet he lost only two. The book was the first volume to be written upon this subject, the disease having been first recognized in Geneva in 1805. In the book, North details the symptoms pretty much as we now know them, including the joint affections. Unfortunately he never pub- lished the second edition, although he planned extensive alterations for it some thirty years later.

In 1812, when forty-two, he was invited to remove to the city of New London. The offer was too flattering to decline so he accepted and spent the remaining years of his life in practice there. In 1817 he established, in New London, the first eye infirmary in the United States, which he thus refers to: " We had attended to eye patients before that time, but it occurred to us then that we might multiply our number of cases of that description, and thereby increase ovu" knowledge, by advertising the public in regard to an eye institution. This was done, and we succeeded; although not to our wishes in a pecuniary view of the


219 NORTH

case. Our success or exertions probably hastened in this country the establish- ment of larger and better eye infirmaries {i.e., for larger cities)." North was especially proud of his work, in this specialty, and in the title page of his " OuUines of the Science of Life" we find the words, under his own name, "con- ductor of an eye infirmary; " elsewhere he writes: "I have had the pleasure to pre- vent total blindness and restore sight to twelve or thirteen persons, during the last three years. These would now probably be moping about in total dark- ness, and be a burden to society and to themselves, had it not been for my individual exertions." He was active in the work of the State Medical Society, which conferred upon him the degree of M. D. in 1813. In practice he exhibited a remarkable degree of caution, dehbera- tion and careful reflection. "As a physi- cian he enjoyed the confidence and friend- ship of his brethren, and was much valued for his philosophical habits of mind in cases of difficulty and uncer- tainty." His quaint humor is yet pre- served in numerous, amusing anecdotes. After his death, the following was found in his ledger:

" Mr. Blank, to doctoring you till you died, $17.50."

His writings consist of twelve titles (Bolton's bibliography); nine of them represent papers in the different daily and medical or scientific journals. In one of them he describes his " Operation of Lithotomy, by the Posterior Method;" another paper is of interest as it details an epidemic of "Typhoid Fever in Gos- hen. During 1807;" others consider "Hydrocele Capitis Infantum," " Cyan- etic Tracheahs," "Epidemic Cerebro- spinal Meningitis," "Fuel and Phrenol- ogy." His three volumes are entitled: (1) "A Treatise on a MaHgnant Epidemic, commonly called 'Spotted Fever;'" (2) "Outlines of the Science of Life," (3) "The Pilgrims Progress in Phrenology."

He married Hannah, the daughter of Frederick Beach, of Goshen, on December 22, 1797, and had eight children. One of