Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/287

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PARSONS


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PARSONS


modore Perry. During a storm while on this ship Dr. Parsons had the misfortune to break a patella. He kept a diary during this voyage and never failed to visit the hospitals and the most cele- brated surgeons whenever he happened on shore. Returning in March, 1817, he lectured at the proposed medical school at Brown University, and finally after attending lectures at the Harvard Medical School got his degree in 1818, and his fellowship in the Massachusetts Medical Society.

His next sea service was in the "Guerriere" in which he sailed as far north as Russia and south into the Mediterranean.

Paris was next Aasited and from Dr. Parson's letters we hear of Dupuytren then at the summit of his career and doing more surgery than all the other surgeons in Paris combined. Dupuytren was savage to his patients. Baron Larrey was overfond of the knife, but operated adroitly and gracefully. He held a clinic every Thursday for visiting medical men, and gave instruction which it was a pleasure to follow. Dr. Parsons was disgusted with the bad treatment of vilcers, and grew tired of seeing flaps stuffed with lint to prevent primary healing. He bought a stethoscope from Laennec, and with it a certificate in his handwriting that it was fit for service.

When in London, Dr. Parsons saw all the leaders of the day and especially mentioned Abernethy as engaging, amus- ing, yet as impressive a lecturer as he ever had heard. Abernethy's quaint illustra- tive anecdotes were very instructive. Dr. Parsons made in London the acquaint- ance and obtained thereby the Hfe-long friendship of Sir Richard Owen the naturalist. Finally he mentioned as the three most quoted American medical books: Benjamin Rush, "On the Mind;" Gorham's, "Chemistry," and Cleveland's "Mineralogy."

Obtaining leave to return home owing to ill health. Dr. Parsons was on his arrival ordered to the Charleston Navy Yard, where he lived some years.


During this time he made a journey to New York where he saw his old friend, Dr. Lyman Spalding, the founder of the United State Pharmacopeia, and the veteran physician. Dr. David Hosack.

After Ills resignation from the navy in 1823 he settled in Providence, Rhode Island, for the remainder of his life. He married Miss Mary Jackson, daughter of the Rev. Abiel Holmes, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and had one child. Dr. Charles W. Parsons.

While living in Providence he was chosen to fill important medical chairs, among which may be mentioned the professorship of anatomy and surgery at the Dartmouth Medical School (1820- 1822), and the same position at the Brown University Medical School (1823- 1828). He also lectured on obstetrics at the Philadelphia Medical School in 1831-1832. Here too is the place to say that he was thrice elected president of the Rhode Island Medical Society (1837-39).

As a physician Dr. Parsons was indus- trious and faithful. He was rather inclined to he strict in his orders, a habit presumably acquired during his service on shipboard. His judgment was sound, and his diagnostic skill excellent. As a surgeon he was cautious rattier than dextrous or rapid. He was fond of point- ing out the house in which he first oper- ated successfully for strangulated hernia an operation which, by the way, he per- formed fifteen times with eleven suc- cesses. He did a good deal of ophthalmic surgery, and paid much attention to orthopedic surgery at that time a speciality much neglected. His results in cleft palate were fine. He Hgated the common carotid for a brain tumor, and when at the age of seventy-four, he amputated an arm with perfect success. Before the days of ether, he relied on laudanum and brandy and then by his presence infused his patients with steadi- ness and calmness equal to his own.

He was a member of various literary societies, and to their meetings contrib- uted papers on the " Genealogy of the Frost and Parsons Families," an account