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Such delineations of character, when faithfully pourtrayed, must have a beneficial tendency; for by them is virtue displayed in action, and that which is worthy and good opened to the admiration of all. Such men, in the glowing language of Scripture, should be "living epistles, known and read of all men." But how can this be done, except at a time when the impression which reputation has made upon the public mind is fresh, and all the collateral circumstances which give their aid in the formation of character are known.
The histories of the eminent living Physicians and Surgeons contained in these pages are necessarily brief, and they may be, in some instances, imperfect; but all is told which would benefit the public, and nothing is withheld which would add to their reputation. The author has had a duty to perform, as well to the subjects of his remark, as to his readers; and he trusts that he has faithfully considered his obligations to both.
In preparing the sketches of deceased practitioners, the most approved biographical records have, of course, been consulted. The lives, however, of only a few of the eminent men here noticed have been elaborately written; and, therefore, the author had to encounter great difficulties in collecting together the materials for his biographical sketches, which, though in some instances meagre, may be depended upon for their authenticity.
To the following works the author is indebted for much valuable information: Mr. Pettigrew's Life and Letters of Dr. Lettsom, the Rev. Dr. Olinthus Gregory's Life of Mason Good, Mr. Pearson's Life of Hey, and Mr. Wardrop's Life of Dr. Baillie. It is hoped that in this portion of the work will be found a useful combination of amusement with instruction; for while no dry facts which could elucidate character are withheld, their somnolescent tendency is corrected by many interesting details, which of themselves constitute a large body of pleasing medical
The study of biography must always have a beneficial effect upon the mind. It may be called "philosophy teaching by example;" for by it the young aspirant, in watching the progress of men, either towards good or evil, is able to trace the cause of their success, or the ruin with which their efforts have been attended. He will behold the triumph of virtue over passion and sensual pleasure, and industry over indolence, and thus be cheered on in the midst of his own rugged way, with the inspiring hope of achieving the same glorious victory, and receiving the like honourable reward; and, beholding the wrecks of those who have been cast away upon the rocks and quicksands of life, as beacons to point out the dangers by which he is beset, he may learn, while he commiserates their fate to avoid the errors which led to their destruction.
In extenuation of those inaccuracies which must necessarily creep into a work like the present, embracing, as it does, so many subjects, the author is conscious that an apology is due to the public. All, however, that he will venture to say on this topic, is what Dr. Goldsmith has said, in his advertisement to the "Vicar of Wakefield,"—" There are an hundred faults in this thing, and an hundred things might be said to prove them beauties. But it is needless. A book may be amusing with numerous errors, or it may be dull without a single absurdity."
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.