Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/452

This page needs to be proofread.


SPALDING


398


SPALDING


From the Fairfield School he resigned in 1S17, but previously he had removed from Portsmouth, as too small a place for his talents and established himself in practice in New York City in 1812.

During the eight years of practice between this date and his early death in 1821, Dr. Spalding exhibited the same medical energy that had always charac- terized him. He made the acquaintance of the best men in medicine and in litera- ture, belonged to the leading societies, and obtained a good practice though not very remunerative. Among his labors in this period are his studies regarding yellow fever, renewed papers on vacci- nation, extensive investigations into hydrophobia, and the foundation of the United States Pharmacopeia. He was accused of unduly praising Scutellaria as a cure for hydrophobia, but he replied that he had written his paper only to show what others claimed for it. Eagerly as he studied yellow fever, he failed to solve the cause.

As early as 1815 he had written to friends urging the estabHshment of a National Pharmacopeia, but several pronounced it an impossible and useless task. He kept hold of his idea, however, and in 1817 read his paper before the New York County Medical Society. It was received in silence, referred to a committee and, though favored, yet it was nearly buried in innumerable clauses and resolutions through which the human mind finds it to-day a hard road to travelĀ ; three long years of endless letter writing to physicians between Eastport, Maine, and New Orleans followed, often receiv- ing no reply, often getting rebuffs, post- ponements, or promises. Although a work of national importance it was very difficult to get a committee together even for the two meetings, one at Philadelphia and one at Washington. Travel was slow, progress in the work was impeded and heartbreaking. At last he had his reward, at the end of 1820 the work appeared in Latin and English on alter- nate pages. Dr. Lyman Spalding was the originator, founder and almost single-


handed worker upon the original Pharma- copeia of the United States.

About this time Dr. Caspar Wistar died and Dr. Spalding made every endeavor to obtain his vacant chair. He had to work against local influence, but many favored him for the place; a temporary candidate was placed in the lecture room, but the actual appointment seemed sure for Dr. Spalding, when he met with an accident from a blow on the head, fell rapidly ill, with what seemed to be traumatic menin- gitis, and despite every care grew rapidly worse. Finding death drawing near he asked to he taken back to Portsmouth, and died there a few days after his arrival.

In summing up the character of this man we find him versatile in many branches of medicine; yet always having the advance of medicine his dearest aim in life. He wrote many medical papers at a time when literature was scant and turgid with verbiage. His papers were brief, clean-cut and to the point, he loved anatomy, as proved by using his own cellar for dissecting purposes and his own house for a museum.

Although devoted to medicine, yet he took an active part in the public schools of each place in which he hved. Nature too he loved, often writing on her phenom- ena wherever they seemed to relate to the human race. Foreign languages he studied in order to read medical books in which they were written and was a good botanist, so far as experiments with medicinal plants. As a letter writer he was rather laconic, but carried on a large and interesting correspondence with the leading medical lights of the world. He made many friends and retained them to the end of his life. Taking him all in all, it cannot be denied that he was a shining light in medicine, that he died too early, j^et even in the short twenty-five years of his active medical life he did more than his share of careful, scientific medical work.

J. A. S.

Family papers and letters resurrected after a century of forgetfulness and neglect.