Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/275

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
263
SKETCH OF F. A. VULPIAN.

tern; was admitted to the Medical Faculty, Paris, in 1860, with a thesis upon secondary pneumonias, and was made one of the physicians at the Salpêtrière; was appointed, in 1867, Professor of Pathological Anatomy; in 1872 was transferred to the chair of Comparative and Experimental Pathology; and in December, 1885, became Dean of the Medical Faculty. As professor he made it a point to perform new experiments in his courses every year. In fact, says Dr. Richet, all his lectures were marked by ingenious views, novel experiments, and important bibliographical data, to such an extent that they could be published as they were, almost without modification; and they constituted excellent monographs.

The anatomy and physiology of the nervous system was his favorite field of research. Next to Claude Bernard, says one of his biographers, he studied with the most particular care, in the minutest details, the nature and functions of the vaso-motor nerves, and the laws of their contractions and dilatations, the general effect of which on the mechanism of the functions is so marked. His lectures on these organs, with those upon the action of toxic substances and medicines, and upon the diseases and physiology of the nervous system, are regarded by Dr. Richet as works of the highest order, which gave definite shape to our knowledge on the most important points, and as containing an "incredible" number of precise facts that have become indispensable to the practitioner. Among these labors, those upon the action of curare, chloral, and strychnine have become classical. The localizations of the functions of the different parts of the cerebro-spinal apparatus, and the effects of alkaloids on these parts, occupied him for a considerable time. He was an eminent physician as well as a skillful physiologist; and in this capacity was called upon to attend, during his last illness, the Comte de Chambord, whose disease baffled the skill of the doctors.

Dr. Charcot, in his funeral eulogy of Vulpian, said that "he might be characterized in a single word—as a man of duty. He was never known to retreat from a task which he had engaged to perform. As soon as he felt his strength declining, he resigned the much-coveted post of physician at the Hotel-Dieu, five years before reaching the limit of age, and at the same time gave up the civil practice which he had carried on for several years with great success as consulting physician. This was because he wished to employ all of his time in the service of the Academy, and we all know how he discharged his duty in this relation. Vulpian was more than this: he was a man of great and good heart; a man ready to sacrifice everything for his family; a master adored by his pupils; a sure and devoted friend; and I, who have the sad honor of being your speaker, can not recollect without strong