Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/338

This page has been validated.
Knox
Knox
332

liam (afterwards Sir William) Fergusson, and Alexander Miller, shared in his unpopularity. Sir R. Christison thought Knox had rather wilfully shut his eyes to suspicious circumstances. The difficulty of procuring subjects was at last remedied by the Anatomy Act of 1832.

Knox's pupils were enthusiastic in his favour, and on 11 April 1829 presented him with a gold vase, acquitting him of every imputation and expressing sympathy with his mental sufferings. He continued his anatomical work, published various books and papers, and especially devoted himself to anatomising and describing a fine whalebone whale in 1831–4.

When the College of Surgeons vacated their old hall in Surgeons' Square in 1832, he moved thither from Barclay's old premises, and built a large class-room, in which he repeated his morning's lecture each evening. On Saturdays he lectured with eminent success on ‘Comparative and General Anatomy and Ethnology,’ often rousing enthusiastic cheers. In January 1833 Dr. John Reid [q. v.] joined Knox and Fergusson. Soon afterwards Knox's popularity in Edinburgh declined, partly in consequence of his heterodoxy and of his sarcastic and passionate habits of speech, and in 1836 Reid left him, to lecture on physiology at the Argyle Square school, and Fergusson almost gave up his work as assistant. Knox had now to rely principally on his younger brother, Frederick John, but anatomical material was scarce, and the students at Edinburgh decreased. Knox's ‘Edinburgh Dissector,’ brought out anonymously in 1837, to rival the ‘Dublin Dissector’ of Harrison, fell flat. In the same year he unsuccessfully contested the professorship of pathology, vacated by Dr. John Thomson. In April 1839 he failed to induce John Goodsir to join him, but Henry Lonsdale, his biographer, became his demonstrator and partner in May 1840. Alexander Lizars about this time gained the professorship of anatomy at Aberdeen, and Knox took his place at the Argyle Square medical school as anatomical lecturer. In the ‘Medical Gazette’ of 30 Oct. 1840 Knox announced as his own a discovery respecting the placenta which had been previously shown him by Dr. John Reid. Reid strongly censured Knox, and public opinion went against him, although he claimed to have given his new views to his class in 1839. Unfortunately it became evident that Knox's truthfulness or memory could not be strictly trusted. In 1841 he was a scarcely serious candidate for the professorship of the institutes of medicine (physiology) at Edinburgh, vacated by W. P. Alison. In his letter of application he sarcastically criticised not only the university course, but the other candidates, Allen Thomson, who was elected, John Reid, and W. B. Carpenter, and spoke of the chairs of the university as having ‘fallen much below the income of a steady-going retail grocery or bakery.’ After having formally resigned his right to give separate lectures in Edinburgh (with the idea, it is believed, of emigrating to the United States), he announced a course of anatomy there in November 1842, but got no class. In the following session he attempted a course of physiology with a similar result. For lack of better occupation he joined the small Portland Street school of medicine in Glasgow in November 1844, but returned his fees to his pupils before the end of the month. From 1842 to 1846 he was very unsettled, now living with an old pupil, now seeking employment in London. In 1846 he lectured on ‘The Races of Men’ at Newcastle-on-Tyne, Manchester, and other towns, and gained considerable popular reputation. He believed that the races of men, like the species of animals, were distinct, and that the secondary laws of evolution, as well as the origin of life, were beyond human inquiry. In 1846 he vainly sought a government appointment. In 1852 he tried to obtain office in the British Museum. Meanwhile he was delivering popular lectures, and was incessantly writing papers in the scientific journals and popular periodicals. Some of these were successful, and the proceeds, together with those from his text-books, enabled him to keep his family in Edinburgh. In May 1854 the death of his son Robert greatly distressed him. He shortly afterwards made application to be sent as surgeon to the Crimea, and when his application failed he retaliated by attacks on the administration in the ‘Morning Advertiser’ and other newspapers, based on letters from correspondents in the field. In October 1856 he was appointed pathological anatomist to the Cancer Hospital at Brompton. In his latter years he took to medical practice, especially obstetrics, in the Hackney district, continuing to lecture at public institutions in London and large towns. In 1860 he was made an honorary fellow of the Ethnological Society of London, and in 1862 honorary curator of its museum. Early in 1861 he was elected foreign member of the Anthropological Society of Paris. He formed many abortive projects, and in the autumn of 1862 talked of writing his own life. On 9 Dec. he had an apoplectic seizure after returning from his duties at the Cancer Hospital, and died on 20 Dec. 1862, at 9 Lambe Terrace, Hackney, aged 71. He was buried at Woking on 29 Dec.