London, Volume 3

Knight, Charles


LXIII.-The College of Surgeons.

LXIII.-The College of Surgeons.




of , with its gardens (now revelling in all the sweet luxuriance of May--the white hawthorn and the gold-dropping laburnum), its fine old mansions, its exhibitions, and its historical recollections, is a place pleasant to walk through, and suggestive of interesting and elevated thoughts. Here, for instance, perished Babington, and his youthful and accomplished companions, who, in their sympathy for the captive quoteueen of Scotland, put aside their own allegiance to Elizabeth, and endeavoured to dethrone, if not slay, her, in favour of Mary: whose own fate they thus precipitated. Here too was Lord William Russell led to the scaffold; the last of those distinguished men, who, during the eventful period comprised between the commencements of the reigns of Charles I. and William III., sealed their political faith in the need and possibility of good government with their blood; and whose trial was of those cases, which, occurring in a particular country, yet has stirred the heart of universal man, and given poet and painter a theme they delight to dwell on. It was on this trial that, when the Chief Justice told the prisoner any of his servants might assist him in writing anything for him, the memorable answer was returned,--

My Lord, my wife is here to do it.

And here, to refer to memories of another kind, was D'Avenant's theatre, on the stage of which Betterton performed; a man whose portrait Pope painted (the poet, it will be remembered, occasionally dabbled with the palette and brush); whom Addison and Steele rivalled each other


in praising; and of whom Cibber says,

He was an actor, as Shakspere was an author, both without competitors,

&c. These are interesting recollections, and no doubt often turn the eyes of the student in history or dramatic literature towards . But a much more widely spread as well as deeper interest centres there. Scarcely a town or large village in the remotest parts of England but has its young aspirants for the honours and emoluments of a profession, the entrance to which lies through . And only those who have passed, or endeavoured to pass through it, can fully appreciate the anxieties and difficulties of the undertaking, or understand the peculiar interest with which the minds of a very large class of persons throughout England view the Royal .

We are now standing before the building in question, admiring Mr. Barry's chaste and impressive design. Till the almost entire rebuilding of the structure under this gentleman's superintendence in -, the aspect of the College was, with the exception of the portico, as mean as it is now dignified, as discordant as it is now harmonious. And that portico owes much of its present noble proportions and graceful beauty to the gentleman we have named: a new column, for instance, was added, and the whole fluted; whilst the bold entablature along the entire top of the edifice, with its enriched cornice, and the sunken letters of the inscription in the frieze, the elegant appearance of the stacks of chimneys at each end, and the general lightness of the structure from the great number of windows, are all new, and betoken the masterly hand that has here been at work, and which has given to London not of the least considerable of recent architectural productions. It is afternoon, and many persons are passing beneath the portico into the Hall. Let us follow them. Some pass through the glazed open doors in front into the inner vestibule, with its low roof and open pillars, towards the Theatre; others into the Secretary's room on the left: these last are, almost without exception, young, and generally gentlemanly-looking men; and their business is to take the step in a much-dreaded business, the registering their names for examination. It is astonishing how hard the most indolent or lazy student can work now--that is, a week or before his examination;--and, tired as he has been of the eternal lectures, he is even chivalrous enough to hear more, the just about to be given in the Theatre--to the Students' gallery of which accordingly he ascends. Leaving the Secretary's room, we enter the inner hall or vestibule before mentioned, which is ornamented, and its roof supported by rows or screens of Doric columns; and in the far corner, on the left, we find the staircase ascending to the Council Room and Library, and the doorway to the Theatre. Entering the latter, we find ourselves in the Members' gallery, which runs round sides of the lofty but somewhat contracted-looking place, with crimson seats, wainscoted walls, and a square-panelled roof, in the centre of which is a lantern or skylight. Above us is the Students' gallery, in front the wall of entire side of the Theatre, and below a sunken floor, with a table for the lecturer, and seats rising upward from it towards us and on each side. The table is covered with preparations, some in glass vessels, intended no doubt to be-used for the illustration of the subject of the lecture; and across the wall above, on a level with our own eyes, that long board has been evidently raised for a similar purpose, for it is almost hidden with


drawings, chiefly coloured. single bust ornaments the place, the bust of John Hunter, placed on a pediment over the board. The seats immediately in front and by the sides of the lecture-table below us are, we are told, for the Council of the College.

In looking round, or circumstances arrest our attention. The Students' gallery is almost empty, while the members' gallery and the body of the Theatre, on the contrary, are almost full: another illustration of the truth that meets us in a shapes-those only who know the most have the truest idea how much there is to learn. Again, among the faces present we can detect more than man whom the world looks on, and justly, as among the foremost in their profession: yet these, with their time worth we know not how many guineas an hour, come to hear a lecture which has no adventitious interest whatever attached to it: it is but of given annually: there are no lords, dukes, nor princes present, nor is there any sumptuous dinner about to follow, as in the ease of the annual oration delivered in the Theatre. The character of the faces around must be noticed by the most ordinary observer. Lavater and Spurzheim might each have written a separate chapter in their great works on the exhibition afforded by such an assemblage. The expression of thought and intellect-always acute, sometimes high--is written upon every face and stamped on every brow. But our reflections are interrupted: through a little door in the wall beside the table enters the beadle of the College with the gilt mace, which he lays on the table, members of the Council follow, and lastly enters the lecturer, in a black silk robe with crimson edging; and, as if impatient of the parade, however necessary, at once commences his lecture. The subject is of greater interest than a stranger and an unscientific man might have anticipated, and of almost (to such an ) startling novelty: . In a rapid survey, the lecturer describes in brief but expressive language the process of declension of the brain from man through the inferior animals, and the birds, down to the fishes; showing how closely each individual and species is linked with that above and below it in the great scale of creation, and how, above all, this variety of structure tends to explain the being of man himself. Thus, it has been maintained by distinguished physiologists, that the cerebellum in the human brain has organic functions connected with the locomotive power. If this be true, should we not find the cerebellum in the lower animals greatly developed, or almost entirely lost, precisely as we find the individuals endowed with extraordinary locomotive powers, or very deficient of them? The lecturer answers by pointing to the amazing development of the cerebellum of the shark, the most vigorous perhaps of fishes, and to that of another, which is scarcely visible, and the owner of which lies all but torpid for half the year.

From this glimpse of the Theatre during of the lectures of the Professor of Comparative Anatomy, let us pass to an occasion of more general interest-the Hunterian oration, which takes--place annually.--The Theatre is now brilliantly lighted with chandeliers; for it is late in the day, and the occupants are of a more diversified character. The board is gone, and everything speaks that it is a show rather than a work day of the College. Warriors and statesmen, poets and artists, may now be found among the audience. The President is the orator. Referring to the fitness of the day for the subject--the , and


the birth-day of John Hunter-he proceeds, in a notice of the life of that remarkable man, to show what the College, and, through it, the profession, and the world generally, owe to him.

John Hunter was born in , at Long Calderwood, near Glasgow. His father was a small farmer, and having other children, but little attention was paid to the child's education. His father's early death made matters still worse, and up to the age of John Hunter was distinguished for nothing more important than his enjoyment of country sports. Finding this mode of life attended by pecuniary as well as other inconveniences, he addressed himself to a better, and went and laboured zealously in the workshop of his brother-in-law at Glasgow, a cabinet-maker. The manual dexterity which subsequently formed a noticeable feature of Hunter's personal character, and which he found so valuable in his scientific studies, is ascribed to the years thus spent. The fame of William Hunter, the brother of John, as an anatomical and scientific lecturer, now roused more ambitious thoughts, or at least prepared the way for their accomplishment. He wrote to offer his services; they were accepted; and behold John Hunter at London. His essays gave so much satisfaction that his brother at once prophesied he would become a good anatomist. This was in . The year following he became the pupil of the celebrated surgeon Cheselden, and attended with him the Hospital of for years, and at the expiration of that time engaged himself to Pott in connexion with the practice of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Passing over various other stages of his career, we find him in a partner with William in the school, and sharing in the delivery of the annual course of lectures. The severity of his studies now became too great for him, serious illness ensued, and, but for the judicious course he adopted, the world might have now known nothing of John Hunter. He sought and obtained the appointment of staff-surgeon to a regiment ordered to a milder climate, and for years followed its migrations, when he returned to England completely restored. Hunter would now have risen rapidly in his profession but for deficiencies, amenity of manner, so valuable, we might say indispensable, to a medical man, and education; as it was, he suffered much inconvenience and anxiety, not on account of his own personal wants, but for his beloved museum, the foundation of which he began to lay from an early period. He lectured, but could get only few pupils, and was frequently obliged to borrow the money for some new purchase that had tempted him, and which he could not resist. A pleasant anecdote of of these occasions is told.

Pray, George,

said he day to Mr. G. Nicol, the king's bookseller, an intimate acquaintance,

have you got any money in your pocket?

The answer was in the affirmative.

Have you got


guineas? because if you have, and will lend it to me, you shall go halves.

Halves in what?

said Mr. Nicol.

Why, halves in a magnificent tiger, which is now dying in

Castle Street


The money was lent, and the great anatomist made happy. All this while his reputation was steadily on the advance, and the fact came home to him in very satisfactory incidents in the years -: in the of which he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society; and in the , surgeon to Hospital. This was everything to John Hunter: patients and pupils alike flowed in, and the Museum went on at a glorious rate.--More laboriously now than


ever did he devote himself to the investigation of the great subjects that Museum was formed to illustrate : it was no hobby nor plaything, but the grand storehouse of facts in which he proposed to study, more deeply than perhaps man had ever studied before him, the great branches of knowledge into which the general subject of man-

the ills that flesh is heir to

and their cure-divides itself, as natural history, comparative anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Mr. Thomas, who was some time his dresser at the hospital, and subsequently, through Mr. Hunter's influence, surgeon to Lord Macartney's Chinese embassy, gives us the following account of his introduction to him; and the anecdote forms a valuable illustration of the mode in which so much was accomplished in a single lifetime. He says,

Upon my


arrival in London, on presenting a letter of introduction from a mutual friend, he desired to see me at


the next morning. Having: already the highest respect for his great professional talents, it may be easily imagined to what a height my curiosity was raised by so extraordinary an appointment: no


will doubt my punctuality of attendance. I found him in his Museum, busily engaged in the dissection of insects. The interest which he seemed to take in his employment--the sagacity of his observations on it-the acuteness of his general remarks upon whatever subject was started--the almost blunt manner in which he questioned me respecting my medical education, united to the kindness of his admonitions relative to my future plans, made a very forcible impression on my mind: it was a mingled feeling of profound respect, surprise, and admiration.


Hunter had a great love for animals, and not merely, as the satirist might say or think, for their use for dissection, but whilst alive; and he ran some. strange risks in consequence. At his house at Brompton he had a numerous collection, among which were leopards, of which Sir E. Home relates the following anecdote :--

They were kept chained in. an outhouse, but


day broke from their confinement and got into the yard among some dogs,. which they immediately attacked. The howling this produced alarmed the whole neighbourhood. Mr. Hunter ran into the yard to see what was. the matter, and found


of them getting up the wall to make his escape, the other surrounded by the dogs. He immediately laid hold of them both, and carried them back to their den-; but as soon as they were secured, and he had time to reflect upon the risk of his own situation, he was so much agitated that he was in danger of fainting.


The fiercer animals were those to which he was most partial, and he had several of the bull kind from different parts of the world. Among these was a beautiful small bull he had received from the quoteueen, with which he used to wrestle in play, and entertain himself with its exertions in its own defence. In


of these contests the bull overpowered him, and got him down; and had not


of the servants accidentally come by and frightened the animal away, this frolic would probably have cost him his life.

In he was affected by a disease of the heart, which subsequently carried him off. The immediate cause of his death involves painful remembrances. In a dispute occurred between him and his colleagues at St. George Hospital, in consequence of the election of Mr. Keate to a vacancy which then happened, in


opposition to the man of Mr. Hunter's choice, Sir Everard Home, his brother-in-law. This led to recriminatory acts (or what were looked on in that light) on both sides, among which was an order. on the part of the hospital governors that no person should be admitted as a student without bringing certificates that he had been educated for the profession. Hunter, who was in the habit of receiving pupils from Scotland of the class prohibited, took this as aimed against himself; but young men having come. up who were prohibited by the rule from entering the hospital, Hunter undertook to press for their admission before the Board. On the proper day, the , Hunter went to fulfil his promise; having previously remarked to a friend that if any unpleasant disputes occurred it would prove fatal. It is melancholy to have to relate how true were his forebodings. In making his statement, of his colleagues gave a flat denial to some observation, and the irrevocable blow was struck. Hunter stopped, retired to an adjoining room to conceal or repress his emotions, and there fell lifeless into the arms of Dr. Robertson. Every attempt was made to recover him, but in vain. We may imagine the feelings of all parties as they gazed upon each other and acknowledged that John Hunter was dead, and that such had been the occasion.

Leaving the Theatre, we ascend the handsome staircase with its roof of delicately-tinged green hue, and its entablature, having a richly sculptured frieze, to the landing at the top; where are busts of Cheselden and Sir W. Banks, who was an honorary member of and benefactor to the College, and an intimate friend of Hunter. On the right a door opens into the Library, on the left to the Council-Room. The Library fills with surprise from its great height and dimensions. It has ranges of windows, above the other, some of the lower opening into the upper part of the portico, between the capitals of which the waving and gleaming foliage of the gardens beyond appear with a charming effect. The collection of books is worthy of the place, although, of course, they consist chiefly of works useful to the medical student. Near end of the room the gigantic shell of a glyptodon, a kind of primeval armadillo, stands upon a pedestal; and near to it, towards the opposite wall, the half bony, half fossil-looking skeleton of a mylodon, apparently a species of extinct gigantic sloth, which the workmen are now carefully raising in an appropriate attitude, with its fore-feet high up the branch of a large tree.[n.198.1]  At a considerable elevation along the walls pictures meet the eye-portraits of Sir Caesar Hawkins by Hogarth, Serjeant-Surgeon Wiseman, an eminent surgeon of Charles II.'s time, &c. But the great treasure of the College is the Cartoon of Holbein's picture of the grant of the charter to the Barber-Surgeons, of which we have already spoken in connexion with the original in the hall of the Barber- Surgeons' Company. At the west end of the Library is a smaller room, called the Museum Library, the rooms occupying the entire front of the College.

Crossing the landing of the staircase to the other extremity, we find ourselves at the door of the Council-Room, the place where sits the awful conclave of examiners. It is a rich-looking and comfortable apartment, with imitation bronze doors and porphyry architraves, whilst the walls present the appearance


of compartments inlaid with scagliola. Among the more noticeable ornaments of the room are the pictures and busts: the former comprising Reynolds's admirable and well-known portrait of John Hunter; and the latter, busts of the same eminent man, and of Cline, Sir.W. Blizard, Sir E. Home, Abernethy, and George III. and George IV., by Chantrey. There is also a bust of Pott by Hollins. There is feature of the room which at a glance reveals its uses a chair surrounded on sides; and although, very properly, no persons are admitted during examination but the parties concerned, it needs no great exertion of the fancy to see the nervous, excited, quivering, and shivering young , sitting in his solitary but most undesired stall, and the line of grave faces extending along his front and on each side of him, so that he sees nothing, hears nothing, but

Censors, censors, everywhere.

There is an ante-chamber attached to the Council-Room, whither candidates pass after examination, and receive refreshment, which in their exhaustion is generally most grateful. And a curious scene in connexion with this room may be occasionally witnessed. Whilst the young man is being examined in the Council-Room, a crowd of friends are walking to and fro on the pavement in front of the College, and looking from time to time upon the windows of that ante-chamber; some of them, perhaps, relatives or friends, no less anxious than the principal himself, knowing what sacrifices have been made to bear up against pecuniary difficulties till the Examination-day; and, to make the trial still more momentous, an appointment perhaps is waiting to be taken at once or be lost for ever. But there he is--the pale countenance flushed up with success. In homely but succinct and expressive words ascends the low-toned query,

All right?

All right

is the joyous answer,--and the load haply is taken off some poor widow's heart.

The regulations of the Board of Examiners so directly interests a large body of the public, and indirectly the public itself, that it may be useful to describe them a little in detail; and the more, that alterations have from time to time been made in them. The regulations published in October last require candidates to be not less than years of age; to have studied professionally not less than years ( months of this must have been devoted to practical pharmacy, to attendance on practical physic, and years to the practice of surgery in a recognised hospital or hospitals of Great Britain); to have studied anatomy and physiology by attending lectures and demonstrations, and by dissections during anatomical seasons; to have attended not less than courses of at least lectures each on surgery, and course of similar length on each of the following subjects-practice of physic, material medical, chemistry, and midwifery, with practical instruction..When diplomas, licences, or degrees are produced,--as from certain local colleges of surgeons. or from universities, which give sufficient evidence of reasonable preliminary attainments, these rules do not apply. The examinations are conducted , unless the candidate desire them to take place in writing. The questions relate almost entirely to anatomy and surgery; and each candidate is usually examined by of the Examiners in succession. The affair lasts generally from an hour to an hour and a half. Not more than candidates are now set down for


day's examination, though there have been times, as during the war, when a have been examined on a single occasion, and the young men, worn out by their anxiety and their want of food during the number of hours they have been in waiting, have fainted away in their examination when the time did come. To an old and highly-respected officer of the institution we believe candidates are indebted for the introduction of the kindly and hospitable custom of offering refreshments : this, with the limitation as to the number to be examined at time, have done away with such scenes. The examination at the College, though indispensable to every medical man (except he be a physician) who desires to be esteemed a practitioner of respectability, can scarcely now be said to be legally necessary; for although the has the power by charter, &c., of preventing any but a member of the body from practising in London or within miles thereof, or in any other part of the kingdom except a licence has been obtained from the ordinary or vicar-general of the particular diocese, yet the College has never prosecuted any for practising without licence or diploma. The present number of members is about , and it is calculated that about new members are added annually. It must be observed that there are also various incidental advantages attached to the membership: thus such persons alone are admitted into the army, the navy, and the East India .service; they have access to the Library, Museum, and lectures at the College; and in a great number of cases they alone are eligible to appointments connected with charitable and other public institutions. Lastly, their sons who may be educated for the same profession have the chance open of obtaining for them of the annual appointments of a student in anatomy, with a salary of a year; whose office is to assist the Conservator of the Museum in preparing and dissecting specimens, &c., and who, at the end of years, obtains an appointment as assistant-surgeon either in the army, navy, or East India Company's service.

Descending to the entrance-hall, we now turn in an opposite direction (or to the right as you enter the College) in order to reach the Museum. This is a magnificent place in form, proportions, size, and general appearance. It measures about feet in length, in breadth, and in height. It is lighted, not by windows in the side walls, or by lanterns from above, but by a series of windows set in a deep cove extending all round the building between the top of the wall and the ceiling, and the effect is as delightful to the eye as it is useful for the exhibition of the contents of the Museum. The walls exhibit stories: of glass cases, each set between half-pillars of the Doric style; , of a gallery above, with a balcony before it, and occupied by open shelves with preparations in glass vessels; and , of another gallery, which does not project so far forward as the , and which is used for similar purposes. ranges of broad, solid, glazed cases, breast high, extend also down the floor of the room from end to the other.- Such, in brief, is the shell of the Museum; but how shall we describe its multifarious and almost invaluable contents? The, shortest way were, perhaps, to remark, and we should be scarcely guilty of exaggeration in so doing, that it possesses almost everything the imagination of man can conceive of that can be useful or necessary for the study of physical , life-that. the whole, world has been ransacked to enrich its


stores. But however comprehensive the idea thus given, we fear it would not be very clear or suggestive; so we must describe it somewhat more in detail. , then, to look at the Museum as a whole, and in the state Hunter left it at his death, when his Museum consisted of above preparations, obtained, it is said, at a cost of about , and which was purchased from his widow by the government for , who presented it to the College.

The main object which he had in view in forming it,

says the author of an admirable account of Hunter and his Museum,[n.201.1]  and whose assistance we are glad to avail ourselves of in this somewhat technically scientific department of our subject,was to illustrate, as far as possible, the whole subject of life by preparations of

the bodies in which its phenomena are presented. The principal and most valuable part of the collection, forming the physiological series, consisted of dissections of the organs of plants and animals, classed according to their different vital functions, and in each class arranged so as to present every variety of form, beginning from the most simple and passing upwards to the most complex. They were disposed in


main divisions: the


, illustrative of the functions which minister to the. necessities of the individual; the


, of those which provide for the continuance of the species. The


division commenced with a few examples of the component parts of organic bodies, as sap, blood, &c.; and then exhibited the organs of support and motion, presenting a most

interesting view of the various materials and apparatus for affording the locomotive power necessary to the various classes of beings. It was succeeded by series illustrating the functions of digestion (which Hunter placed


, because he regarded the stomach as the organ most peculiarly characteristic of animals), and those of nutrition, circulation, respiration, &c. These were followed by the organs which place each being in relation with the surrounding world, as the nervous system, the organs of sense, the external coverings, &c. The other chief division of the physiological part of the collection contained the sexual organs of plants and animals in their barren and impregnated states, the preparations illustrative of the gradual development of the young, and of the organs temporarily subservient to their existence before and after birth. Parts of the same general collection, though arranged separately for the sake of convenience, were the very beautiful collections of nearly


skeletons; of objects illustrative of natural history, consisting of animals and plants preserved in spirit and stuffed, of which he left nearly


; of upwards of


fossils; and of monsters. The pathological part of the Museum contained about


specimens, arranged in


principal departments: the


illustrating the processes of common diseases and the actions of restoration; the


, the effects of specific diseases; and the


, the effects of various diseases, arranged according to their locality in the body. Appended to these was a collection of about


calculi and other inorganic concretions. These few words may give some idea of Hunter's prodigious labours and industry as a collector: but his Museum contains sufficient proof that he was no mere collector: it was formed with a design the most admirable, and arranged in a manner the most philosophic; and when it is remembered that it was all the work of


man labouring under every disadvantage of deficient education, and of limited and often embarrassed pecuniary resources, it affords, perhaps, better evidence of the strength and originality of Hunter's mind than any of his written works, where he speaks of facts, that in his Museum are made to speak for themselves.

We need hardly add that this arrangement is strictly and reverentially preserved, and that every article which belonged to Hunter is carefully distinguished as his by marks, &c., from the additions which the College have ever since been continually making to complete his gigantic project, and in pursuance of which they expended last year no less a sum than nearly [n.202.1]  Our readers may


now judge of the value of this famous Museum. A few words on the regulations for admission may be here usefully given. These are highly liberal, if we consider the Museum is not intended to form an exhibition but a place of study. Members of both houses of parliament, great officers of state, the dignitaries of the church and the law, general and flag officers of the navy, members of learned and scientific bodies, and of public boards, physicians, surgeons, &c. &c. have all not only the privilege of personally visiting the Museum, but of introducing visitors.

A painful recollection is connected with the Museum, which we are reminded of by the volumes of the handsome and comprehensive Catalogue published by the College, which we see lying about in different parts of the place. That catalogue is very valuable, formed as it is with great care from the preparations themselves, and from the published works and a few scattered manuscripts of the founder-Hunter. But what it is, is but a slender compensation for what it ought to have been, had those who were bound by the nearest ties to look upon every memorial of Hunter as sacred, fulfilled the duty imposed on them. For several years before his death the great anatomist commenced the preparation of , which was to embody the entire results of all his professional and scientific experience; and although he died before positively completing more than a very small portion of his scheme, he did live to bequeath to the world folio volumes of MS. materials, written either by himself or at his dictation, and, there is little doubt, of a more valuable kind than the world had ever before possessed. These volumes have, it appears, been destroyed!

The formation of the catalogue,

states the writer before quoted,[n.203.1] 

was intrusted to Sir Everard Home, the brother-in-law and only surviving executor of Hunter; but from year to year he deferred his task, and, after supplying only


small portions of his undertaking, he at length announced that, in accordance with a wish which he had heard Mr. Hunter express, he had burned the manuscripts, which he had taken without leave from the

College of Surgeons

, and among which were the


volumes of dissections (forming a part of the


) and numerous other original papers. Thus nearly the whole labour of Hunter's life seemed lost: a few only of the least important of his writings remained, unless, indeed, we reckon as his the numerous essays which Sir E. Home published as his own in the

Philosophical Transactions,

and subsequently collected in




to., of

Lectures on Comparative Anatomy.

Many of these give strong evidence of his having used Hunter's writings in their composition; and the fear lest his plagiarism should be detected is the only probable reason that can be assigned for so disgraceful an act.

The injury done to Hunter's fame by this mysterious proceeding is incalculable.

Every year, as his Museum is more closely studied, proves that Hunter had been well aware of facts for the


of which other observers have since his death received tie honour,

and from this we may judge how great must be the loss the public have experienced in losing the fruits of so many years' labour of so valuable a life.

In walking through the Museum, now in its principal department, physiology, the richest collection of the kind in existence, is apt to be bewildered by the multiplicity of the objects which present themselves to our attention. Every


of all those numerous cases, divided by pillars which extend round the sides of the noble room, might well detain us--as far as its abstract interest is concerned--for as long a period as the general visitor can spare to see the whole. Here, in wonderful profusion, the eye passes along an almost interminable series of skeletons, beautifully prepared and exhibited, of quadrupeds, as llamas. zebras, rams, antelopes, deer, armadilloes, squirrels, seals, lions, cats, wolves, bears, monkeys, kangaroos; then of birds, from the tiny creeper to the giant ostrich; and lastly of fishes and reptiles; whilst portion is set apart for an extensive collection of skulls of all the different varieties of the family of man. These are the contents of the glass cases of the ground story around the wall. Immediately above, adorning the open railing of the balcony which projects in front of the gallery, we see its entire sweep round the Museum filled with the frontal honours of all the horned animals we have ever heard or read of. There is gigantic pair of horns immediately over the entrance into the Museum, of a size that would be truly incredible if the eye had not its own unerring evidence. We tried to span it by extending our arms at full stretch, but it was amusing to see how much too short was even such an instrument of measurement: they are the horns of the extinct Irish elk, or stag. We may here observe, that the Museum contains a beautiful series of preparations showing the gradual growth of the horn in deer, from the putting forth of the as yet tender sprout, with its blood-vessels, and its soft velvet-like covering, to the magnificent weapon with which the animal goes forth, the knight-errant of the woods, in the cause of love. The chief features of the Museum are the isolated skeletons, &c., on pedestals placed at the ends and in the centre of the room, and, as might be expected, the interest attached to them is in proportion to the prominency of their position. Standing at the door of the Museum, just as we enter, on our right, is a cast of of those stupendous remains of the extinct animals of an early world, the bones of the hinder portion of the skeleton of the megatherium, the originals of which are preserved in the College. Until the latter part of the last century this enormous quadruped was unknown in Europe. In the Viceroy of Buenos Ayres sent the Museum of Madrid a considerable portion of a skeleton, and subsequently portions of other skeletons reached the same country. It was not, however, till the arrival of the remains collected by Sir Woodbine Parish, and presented to the , that the general characteristics of the animal could be. determined. These remains were found in the river Salado, which runs through the Pampas, or flat alluvial plains to the south of the city of Buenos Ayres. The immediate cause of this discovery was the unusual succession of dry seasons, which caused the water to sink very low, and exposed the bone of the pelvis to view as it stood upright in the river. The cast in the Museum here is, as we have before stated, only of the hinder parts of the animal, which, in their startling magnitude, provoke a very natural desire for a glimpse of the entire creature to which they belonged. Let the reader, then, look at the following engraving (in which the simple outline shows the extent of the Madrid skeleton, the pale tint the corresponding parts in the College, and the dark tint the additional parts which are wanting in the skeleton at Madrid), and at the same time reflect that its general dimensions are about feet in length and about in height, that the upper part of


its tail must have measured at least feet across, that its thigh-bone is twice the size of that of the largest known elephant, that its heel-bone actually weighs more than the entire foot of the great elephant whose skeleton is in the Museum (and which we shall presently have to mention), and that its fore-foot must have exceeded a yard in length.

Thus heavily constructed

says Dr. Buckland, in an eloquent passage in his

Bridgewater Treatise,

it could neither run, nor leap, nor climb, nor burrow under the ground, and in all its movements must have been necessarily slow; but what need of rapid locomotion to an animal whose occupation of digging roots for food was almost stationary? . . .His entire frame was an apparatus of colossal mechanism, adapted exactly to the work it had to do; strong and ponderous in proportion as--the work was heavy, and calculated to be the vehicle of life and enjoyment to a gigantic race of quadrupeds, which, though they have ceased to be accounted among the living inhabitants of our planet, have in their fossil bones left behind them imperishable monuments of the consummate skill with which they were constructed.

In cleaning the bones, on their arrival at the College, some small portions of adipocire (or animal matter, changed into the peculiar fatty and waxy substance discovered during the last century) was found. Long exposure to water, in particular, appears to cause this extraordinary conversion; and the remains of the Megatherium must have been so exposed for at least many centuries. At the same time the existence of the adipocire would seem to imply that we can scarcely venture to date the period of the Megatherium's life beyond that of man's appearance on the world, unless we are to suppose that soft substance as imperishable as the fossil bones themselves.

Immediately opposite the Megatherium, on our left, is the complete, and solid, heavy-looking skeleton of the Hippopotamus, or River Horse, the supposed


Behemoth of the Book of Job. Passing down the centre of the room, between the ranges of glass cases which extend along the floor, and which are filled with a small interesting objects-teeth of various animals, in various stages of growth (the series belonging to the elephant, showing the process of his shedding his teeth, which he does at least times, is very interesting), dried preparations of the different vascular organs of the body, sponges, fossils, shells, &c., we find in the middle of the room, on our left, a fine cast of the figure of a male negro, and on the right the amazingly tall skeleton of a man, which we can hardly persuade ourselves can have really belonged to a human being; but there is no room for doubt. It is the skeleton of Charles Byrne, better known, however, as O'Brien, the Irish giant; who, according to the

Annual Register,

died in , in , , from excessive drinking, to which he was accustomed, and to which he had previously given himself up, with greater recklessness than ever, on account of a loss of , which he had by him in the shape of a single bank-note. It appears he measured feet inches as he lay dead, being then only years old: his skeleton is just feet. It is said that he wished his remains to be sunk out at sea. Was this from the mere horror of dissection, or that he looked upon himself as a kind of half-monster, and felt a sense of relief in the idea that when he was dead all traces of him should disappear? Whatever be the truth of the story, the body came into Mr. Hunter's possession before any attempt at interment was made. In strange contrast with this noble and graceful-looking edifice of man, for such it seems to us in a very eminent degree, stands, we cannot say by its side, but by its leg, the skeleton of Madlle. Crachani, a Sicilian girl of years of age. This is just inches high, and does not reach, by an inch or , the giant's knee. She was born in or near Palermo, in , and was the daughter of an Italian woman, who, whilst travelling some months before her confinement in the baggage-train of the Duke of Wellington's army on the Continent, was frightened into fits by an accident with a monkey. The child was reared with difficulty, and, being taken to Ireland, became there consumptive. It was then brought to London, and publicly exhibited in in . Sir Everard Home, among numerous other scientific men, visited her; and he says,

The child, when I saw it, could walk alone, but with no confidence. Its sight was very quick, much attracted by bright objects, delighted with everything that glittered, mightily pleased with fine clothes, had a shrill voice, and spoke in a low tone; had some taste for music, but could speak few words of English; was very sensible of kindness, and quickly recognised any person who had treated it kindly.

She died in the same year. On the same pedestal is a very minute and beautifully-constructed ivory skeleton of the human form.

As we approach the end of the room, the colossal structure of the largest living quadruped, the Indian elephant, makes us gaze in astonishment at the wonders that still live and breathe among us. The skeleton measures from the pedestal to its highest part . Inquiring as to the personal history of this enormous creature, how were we surprised to hear that it was Chuny, whose destruction at Exeter Change excited so much sympathy;and, poor Chuny, thou deservedst it. Thine was a sagacious and noble nature. We should not like to have been that of thy keepers who, after helping to


fire into thy hapless body some shots, bade thee kneel, little expecting, we may be sure, thou wouldst obey; but thou didst; and he beheld thee, in the midst of all thy agony, kneel down. Gradually thou droppest on thy knees, and in calm dignity let the pitiless storm beat on. When they grew tired, they found thee still in that posture, erect, but dead.

The skeleton of poor Chuny is flanked on either side by remarkable companions--a giraffe and a Bactrian camel. From this end of the room a door on the left opens into another Museum, of the ,same height, but comparatively small in its other dimensions. In front of the lofty gallery pictures hang at intervals, portraits and illustrations of surgical marvels: the room itself is chiefly devoted to preparations of extraordinary surgical cases of disease, &c., monstrosities (here is a cast of the band of the Siamese twins, for instance), and a variety of miscellaneous objects, among which the most striking are the row of mummies standing upright in open wooden boxes along the end facing you as you enter.

of them is the embalmed wife of the once notorious Martin van Butchell, with a parrot or some similar bird in the case with her: this was prepared at his request by Mr. William Hunter and Mr. Cruickshank, in . But the most interesting mummy is that of an Egyptian in its inner case, unopened, brought to England in , and we know not how many years old. It is in a perfect state of preservation, and affords an excellent example of the mode of embalming practised in ancient Egypt. The external case, generally of sycamore, has been removed: the internal case, which more immediately envelopes the body, and partakes of its form, is composed of many layers of cloth cemented together, and faced or externally covered with a white composition, affording a smooth and uniform surface, upon which an endless variety of hieroglyphical figures and devices are drawn in vivid, and, to this day, comparatively well-preserved colours. In strange contrast with this artificially preserved human being is that painful-looking figure raised upon a high pedestal, seated on its haunches, the knees against the chin, and the hands pressing against the sunken cheeks. There is every reason to consider the history of this figure as extraordinary as its appearance. The governor of the district of Caxamarca, in Peru, became much interested in a tradition preserved among the natives of the place, that a certain guaca, or sepulchre, was the site of the voluntary sacrifice of the life of a Curaca, of the order of nobles next in rank to the members of the royal family. He determined accordingly to have it opened, which was done in ; and at the depth of about or feet bodies were found--a female, which crumbled to dust on exposure to the air; a child, which is now in the museum of Buenos Ayres; and a man, the figure we are now gazing on. In all probability the stood in the relation of husband, wife, and child. This dreadful instance of the lengths to which man's wild imagination will carry him is supposed to have taken place some little time before the arrival of Pizarro, or between the years of and . The preservation of the bodies is owing to the peculiar character of the soil. With them were found various articles of interest--an axe or bludgeon of green jade-stone and a ball of very fine thread or worsted, or inches in diameter, which was placed under the arm of the child, a symbol, probably, in some way, of its own undeveloped career.



As we wander to and fro, lingering among the many objects that call upon our attention, but which our space will not admit us to mention, we perceive in front of the pedestal on which stands the giant elephant, a bust, the only , as in the case of the Theatre, which decorates the place. Need we add it is the idol of the shrine, the creator of all we see around-JOHN HUNTER.


[n.197.1] Medical Portrait Gallery, vol. ii.

[n.198.1] These recent and very interesting and valuable acquisitions to the College have been removed to the Museum since the above was written.

[n.201.1] Penny Cyclopedia, Article--Hunter, vol. xii.

[n.202.1] As the financial statement from which this item is borrowed shows in a striking manner the present and in creasing prosperity of the College, we append it here :-- Receipts. Court of examiners' fees for diplomas, at 20 guineas each, exclusive of the cost of stamps 12,761 14 0 Rent 37 10 0 Fees on admission to council and court of examiners (20 guineas each) 105 0 0 Fee on certificate of diploma 5 5 0 Incidental, sale of lists, catalogues, &c. 39 13 0 Dividends on investments in government securities, &c. 1,299 4 4 £ 14,158 6 4 Disbursements. College department, including council, court of examiners, auditors, diploma-stamps, collegiate prize, salaries, &c. 6,357 12 7 Museum department, including cataloges, specimens, spirit, salaries, &c. 2,823 5 11 Library department, including the purchase and binding of books, salaries, &c. 778 0 0 Miscellaneous expenses, taxes, rent, &c. 434 6 3 Studentships in anatomy 192 7 7 Repairs and alterations 238 19 11 Hunterian oration, lectures, Jacksonian prize, &c. 99 17 0 £ 10,924 9 3 --thus leaving above £ 3000 to be added to the permanent capital in a single year.

[n.203.1] Penny Cyclopedia, article HUNTER.