Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/580

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WISTAR


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WISTAR


Wistar spent a year in England a'^i! then went to Edinburgh, and in 17 > graduated doctor of Medicine thert, pubHsliing and defending a thesis called "De Animo Demisso."

Wistar was initiated into the practice of medicine and surgery under the patron- age of Dr. Jones, then the most dis- tinguished surgeon in Philadelphia. Dr. Hosack relates the following story : " Dr. Jones, having occasion to perform a very important operation, invited Dr. Wistar to accompany him. When the patient was prepared. Dr. Jones, addressing Dr. Wistar as having better sight than him- self, at the same time presenting him his knife, requested it as a favor that he would perform the operation. Dr. Wis- tar immediately complied; and such was the skill and success with which it was performed, that it at once introduced him to the confidence of his fellow- citizens.

He was appointed physician to the Philadelphia Dispensary, estabUshed in 1787, and in 1789 to the professorship of chemistry and physiology in the College of Philadelphia. From 1793- 1810, he was physician to the Pennsyl- vania Hospital. He became in the meantime a fellow of the College of Physicians, and a member of the " Ameri- can Philosophical Society," and its president in 1815.

In 1788 he married Isabella, daughter of Christopher Marshall, of Philadelphia. She died in 1790, and in 1798 he married Elizabeth MifBin. By his second mar- riage he had several children, three of whom were living at the time of his death.

Wistar was largely instrumental in effecting the union of the medical school attached to the University of Pennsyl- vania and its rival, the College of Phila- delphia. Upon the consolidation of the two rival schools, in 1792, he was asso- ciated with Dr. William Shippen, as adjunct professor of anatomy, midwifery and surgery in the University of Pennsyl- vania. Subsequently surgery and mid- wifery were separated from anatomy. After the death of Shippen in 1808, Wistar


was made professor of anatomy. As a ^eacher he at once exhibited distinguished qualifications: fluency of utterance, un- affected ease and simplicity of manner, perspicuity of expression, animation, earnestness, and impressiveness.

He published a "System of Anatomy," which was primarily designed as a text- book for his classes. It is an excellent work, and shows a good knowledge, for that time, both of anatomy and phys- iology. He published several memoirs in the "Transactions of the American Philosophical Society," and made a con- tribution to the anatomy of the ethmoid bone, thus described by Tilghman:

"Anatomy has been so much studied both by the ancients and moderns, and so many excellent works have been pubUshed on the subject, that any discovery, at this time of day, was scarcely to be expected. Yet, it is supposed to be without doubt, that Wistar was the first who observed and described the posterior portion of the ethmoid bone in its most perfect state, viz.: with the triangular bones attached to it. Of tliis he has given an accurate description in the volume of our transac- tions now in the press. On the subject of that discovery he received, a few days before his death, a letter from Prof. Soemmering, of the kingdom of Bavaria, one of the most celebrated anatomists in Europe, of which the following is an ex- tract: 'The neat specimen of the sphe- noid and ethmoid bones are an invalu- able addition to my anatomical collec- tion, having never seen them myself, in such a perfect state. I shall now be very attentive to examine these processes of the ethmoid bone in children of two years of age, being fully persuaded Mr. Bertin has never met with them of such a considerable size, nor of such peculiar structure.'"

" Wistar played an active part in the cultured society of Philadelphia. His house was the weekly resort of the liter- ati of the city of Philadelphia, and at his hospitable board the learned stranger from every part of the world, and of every tongue and nation received a