Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/563

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WHITTIER


503


WIDNER


With characteristic zeal and energy he sought early opportunity to enter the service of the Union; and his first term was of three months with the First Rhode Island Volunteer Regiment. Immedi- ately upon his return from duty he joined the Fifth Maine Battery, and was com- missioned a second lieutenant; and presently became first lieutenant. At the battle of Gettysburg this battery, then under his command, won conspicu- ous distinction by resisting effectually a night attack by the enemy upon the Union troops stationed at Gulp's Hill. For this service he received the special medal of honor conferred by Gongress for "faithful, gallant, and meritorious services," with brevet rank of captain of volunteers.

He resumed student life at Providence after his discharge from the army, then went to the Harvard Medical School, from which he graduated in 1869, and in 1873 was on the visiting staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital, a posi- tion he held many years. In 1877 he was assistant in clinical medicine; and his teaching service in the Harvard Medical School continued until 1888, when he held the position of assistant professor in clinical medicine. Whittier was a remarkably able teacher of the elementary branches of clinical medicine and many a man now living remembers his public clinics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. "Gentlemen," he would say, " The patient who came to us this morning is peculiarly fitted by reason of his intelligence to tell us all what is the matter with him." Meanwhile, Pat Mahoney, a good deal frightened at being the center of interest to some two score pairs of eyes ranged around the ample

amphitheater, bUnks and gasps, "Mr.

What is your name? Yes, Mr. Mahoney is not content with the diagnosis of one man, he wishes to have the combined wisdom of all these doctors." And then Dr. Whittier, erect and military in bearing, would sweep his arm in a semi- circle towards the seats. By this time Pat felt he was getting more attention


than the average patient and showed signs of returning confidence. After a little further buoyant treatment he was quite ready to have any number of stethoscopes applied to his chest and submit to an unlimited amount of percussion.

A differential diagnosis by the aid of tables and schedules written on the board and a summary of the treatment were parts of every clinic.

After resigning his appointment in 1888, Dr. Whittier devoted himself with great success to private practice; and it is fair to say that at no period of his life was he more widely esteemed than at the time of his last sickness.

He died at his home in Boston, June 14, 1902, aged sixty-one, the end coming suddenly, as a result of sclerosis and obstruction of the coronary artery.

W. L. B.

Bulletin Har. Medical Alumni Asso., July,

1902.

Bos. Med. and Surg. Jour., vol. cxlvi.

Widner, Christopher (1780-1858).

Christopher Widner was one of the clever young army surgeons whom war- fare caused to settle in a new country. He had taken his membership and fellow- ship degree at the London Royal College of Surgeons and joined the Fourteenth Light Dragoons as surgeon when the war of 1812 broke out and he was sent to Canada and elected to stay in Toronto (then York) when peace was declared.

The recognized leader of the profes- sion, the life and soul of the General Hospital, he gave to the earlier prac- titioners of the province an enormous impulse towards scientific surgery, and was equally skilled in surgical diagnosis and in operative technic. In 1833 he founded and was the first president of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of Upper Canada, and was also president of the Board of Health and contended for a high degree of proficiency.

In person he resembled Lord Roberts, though his military service had not engendered a perfectly controlled temper