Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/342

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RAMSAY


304


RANNEY


"lung" fever and a similar disease termi- nated his life at Parsonfield, Maine, in 1824. He was buried at Fryeburg, where by many he was cherished as a teacher, physician and friend.

A man earnest in his inteniions, but of so unfortunate a temperament that he was never able to enlist competent assist- ants to carry out his work, even when liv- ing, to say nothing of training them pre- paratory to his death, liis aim in life was to establish in America an Anatom- ical Museum of which the Nation should he proud. In this he failed. Another jiurpose of his life was to improve every- one with whom he came in contact, and in this he often succeeded. He was vision- ary in the extreme. He urged a physician, for instance, to leave his growing practice, to travel five hundred miles to Fryeburg, and after learning Ramsay's system of teaching, to take it up for a living to the entire abandonment of his practice. He must have been more than visionary, to believe that from a country village like Fryeburg, the roads to which were mostly impassable half of the year, he could exer- cise any permanent influence upon American medicine.

He was as egotistical as he was disinter- ested. He would make any sacrifice to advance medicine. Yet his friends who might have helped him were few, owing to his sudden fits of anger and almost constant irritabilit}^ He was deeply religious, and as deeply conscious of his faults. Upright in his outlook, he was fretted and disappointed in his expecta- tions, and correspondingly embittered with the world. He was genuinely eloquent; his students hung upon his every word.

Personally, he was short, clumsy and mis-shapen, yet he was always referring to the beautiful development of his mus- cles and the magnificent shapeliness of his head. After his death, his famous collection of s])ecimens and preparations was most unfortunately dispersed.

Some writer has said that Ramsay hated every physician, and saw in every anatomist a rival, but no one, reading


the charming letters of recommenda- tion given by him to another anatomist seeking a vacant chair of anatomy in a metropolitan school, would believe this charge, nor can we forget his excellent behavior to physicans at Dartmouth under the gentle handling of Dr. Nathan Smith.

Uamsay was a genius, as his beauti- fully engraved plates bear witness, and as attested by letters of the past. Like all such, however, he was too eccentric for ordinary humanity to understand or endin-e. He wrote many medical papers and many letters. His style was quaint and turgid. Too often did the remark of some person "cause the blood to curdle in my veins." He wrote his letters and lectures on large sheets of paper, the upper half covered with a design beautifully engraved, of the sun above, and below it the mottoes "To thy years there shall be no end" and "They die and return to the dust." Below these, three cherubims, one stand- ing, one flying, and one seated weeping over a skull and hour glass. In the extreme lower left-hand corner was a delicate etching of Edinburgh Castle.

We may find the key to Alexander Ramsay's character in his mis-shapen body. Born well-formed, possibly in- jured for life by careless handling in infancy, may he not have always brooded over that misfortune and fancied that all the world were talking of this, to his great disparagement? J. A. S.

Sketch of Dr. Alexander Ramsay by Dr. George Bradley, U. S. N., in the Transactions of the Maine Medical Association, 1883, vol. viii. Port, in the Surg.-gen. lib., Wash., D. C. Spalding Family Letters.

Ranney, Ambrose Loomis (1848-1905).

Deserving to be remembered as one who did fine pioneer work in ophthal- mology, Ambrose Ranney was born on the tenth of June, 1S48, in Hardwick, Massachusetts, one of the thirteen sons of Lafayette and Adeline Eliza Loomis Ranney, seven of whom became doctors.

Graduating A. B. and A. M. from Dart-