Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/300

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PEPPER


266


PERKINS


the past and present history of uiiiu in every one of his relations"

" I prefer the hfe of the sahnon to that of the turtle" he said once to Prof. Osier, but an arduous life of thirty years began to tell on him in 1898, when he had signs of dilatation of the heart with bronchitis and dyspnea. A visit to the Pacific coast was contemplated. Then came the news of his death in Oakland, CaU- fornia, July 28. "He died" wrote his physician "at eight in the evening with a copy of Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' in his hands. At seven I had left him gazing upon Mt. Diabolo shadowed in the gathering darkness. I was called at eight and found him in the attitude and with the expression of angor animi from which he never roused. I have never seen so beautiful a nature in sickness; his conduct and disposition were worthy of Marcus Aurelius."

"As a man," said Osier, his biographer, "he formed a most interesting study. In Athens he would have been called a Sophist and I do not deny that he could when the occasion demanded play old Belial and make the worse appear the better cause to perplex and darken maturest counsel, but how artistically he could do it! He was human, and to the faults of a man he added those of a college president . . . but a man en- gaged in vast schemes with many clash- ing interests is sure to be misunderstood and to arouse sharp hostility in many quarters."

Besides appointments named he held: Physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital and to the Children's Hospital; lec- turer on clinical medicine. University of Pennsylvania; professor of theory and practice of medicine, University of Penn- sylvania; member of the College of Physi- cians, of the Pathological Society of Phila- delphia; honorary member of the New Jersey Medical Society; founder and one year editor of " The Philadelphia Medical Times"; LL.D. of Lafayette in 1881 and of Princeton in 1888.

His writings comprise among others: "Lectures on Clinical Medicine"; "The


Fluorescence of Tissues (with Dr. E. Rhoad)"; Meigs and Pepper on "Dis- eases of Children"; "Trephining in Cerebral Diseases"; and editing the "System of Medicine," by American Authors."

D W.

An Alabama Student, Wm. Osier, Frowde, 1908.

Eminent Amer. Phys. R. F. Stone, Indian- apolis, 1898.

Perkins, Elisha (1740-1799).

The name of Perkins, son of Dr. Joseph Perkins and born in Norwich, Connecti- cut, January 1740, marks one of those epochs of creduhty which seize men from time to time when any exceedingly novel cure is proclaimed. The terms " Perkin- ism," "Tractorism," were known both in America and abroad and the wonderful metallic rods which Perkins said and believed to be curative of almost every ill in men (and horses!) certainly wrought psychotherapeutic wonders.

Perkins himself was a magnetic person, handsome, over six feet, of wonderful endurance and self control. He had felt a curious magnetic power in himself in touching anyone and set about finding some combination of metals which might have the same effect in healing disease. These he found and named "tractors," two small rods, one of brass, one of steel, which had to be drawn downwards for twenty minutes over the affected parts. A patent was obtained; doctors, and phil- osophers gravely approved and professors of three American universities said they believed in it. The tractors came to be used in Copenhagen where twelve well known physicians so favorably reported on them that the records were printed in an octavo volume. In 1803 Benjamin Perkins, the son, estabhshed the Per- kinean Institution in London with the Right Hon. Lord Rivers as president and Sir William Barker as vice-president, and 5,000 cases were treated. There is reason to think Elisha Perkins was self- deceived or really perceived the real efficacy to lie in the imagination and so