Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/542

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WATERHOUSE


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WATERHOUSE


ous John Fothergill, of England. She, like Dr. Fothergill, was born in York- shire, England, and both were Quakers.

Benjamin went to the same school in Newport as Gilbert Stuart, the celebrated portrait painter, and at the age of six- teen studied medicine with Dr. John Halliburton, of Newport, remaining there until he sailed for Europe in 1775. He arrived in London in April of that year and became a member of Dr. Fother- gill's family. He remained about three years in England, part of the time at- tending lectures in Edinburgh and else- where and also visiting the London hos- pitals and some of Dr. Fothergill's own patients.

In 1778, he was sent to the University of Leyden, at that time the most noted medical school in the world, to complete his education. There he remained four years, taking his degree in 1781 and attending courses of lectures on addi- tional subjects not included in the college curriculum, for another year. At Ley- den he was thrown in contact with John Adams, who had been sent to Holland to court an alliance with America, and Waterhouse lived in Adams' family for a while. Finally in June, 1782, after an absence of more than seven years, Waterhouse, twenty-eight years old, probably the best educated physician in America, returned to his native town and began to practise. His old preceptor, Dr. Halliburton, had just removed to Hali- fax, so Waterhouse stepped into his shoes.

In the following year Harvard Uni- versity invited him to assist in forming a medical school in Cambridge and to take the chair of theory and practice of medi- cine. This he did and removed to Cam- bridge, Massachusetts, where he spent the rest of his life. Benjamin Water- house (theory and practice of medicine) ; John Warren (anatomy and surgery), and Aaron Dexter (chemistry) formed the en- tire faculty of the new Harvard Medical School. Waterhouse delivered the in- augural oration, a scholarly and well written address in Latin.

In the years 1786 and 1787 he delivered |


a course of lectures on natural history in the Rhode Island College at Providence, and in succeeding years these lectures, touching chiefly on mineralogy and botany, were repeated and continued in Cambridge. They were really the first systematic instruction in these branches in America. Having obtained a large and valuable collection of minerals from his friend, Dr. Lettsom, of London, Dr. Waterhouse formed the nucleus of the present fine collection at Harvard and was instrumental in forming the Botani- cal Garden at Cambridge, in order to have specimens with which to illustrate his lectures. In 1786 Harvard conferred on him her honorary M. D.

Having helped to found a medical school, his next great life work was the introduction into America of the vaccina- tion of cow-pox as a preventative against small-pox. In the year 1799 he received from his old friend. Dr. Lettsom, a copy of Edward Jenner's "Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolse Vaccinae, or Cow-pox," pubUshed by Jenner in 1798. It was thought that this was the first copy to reach the new world. It produced a profound impres- sion on Waterhouse and he straightway published in the "Columbian Sentinel," of Boston, March 12, 1799, a short account of the new inoculation, under the title, "Something Curious in the Medical Line." "This pubhcation," he says, "shared the fate of most others on new discoveries. A few received it as a very important discovery, highly inter- esting to humanity; some doubted it; others observed that wise and prudent conduct which allows them to condemn or applaud, as the event might prove; while a greater number absolutely ridi- culed it as one of those medical whims which arise to-day and to-morrow are no more." Dr. Waterhouse about this time received from London the second publi- cation in vaccine literature, Dr. George Pearson's book entitled, "An Inquiry Concerning the History of the Cow-pox Principally with a View to Supersede and Extinguish the Small-pox." Shortly he