sifer, the daughter of Captain Robert S. Pulsifer, a Boston
It is difficult to discuss separately the two brothers, Jeff-
832 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
ries and Morrill Wyman.
Although they chose different lines
of work in medicine, both exhibited the strong qualities of
mind which characterized their father. Devotion to work
was a notable trait in these three representatives of the Har-
vard School. The father established a standard for humane
treatment of the insane which has since become recognized
as best for that class of unfortunates; the elder son devoted
his life to comparative anatomy, while the younger carried
into his large and active practice a steadfast love for his work.
With him, progress was life-long. Educated in the old school
long before the more modern scientific discoveries, he kept
abreast of the times, while always conspicuous for his
devotion to the medical classics. The interest in scientific
questions also he maintained up to the time of his death.
In 1846 Wyman published a volume of 400 pages on ven-
tilation, a treatise founded upon a careful review of the exist-
ing knowledge of the subject as well as upon many new and
valuable experiments of his own. This book was an authority
for many years. Llis most important contribution to medical
science was made in 1850. For some years before that, he
had been considering the possibility of finding a substitute for
the old Hippocratic thoracentesis which was the surgical treat-
ment for pleural effusions. On February 23, 1850, by means
of an exploring needle and canula attached to a. stomach pump,
he removed a large quantity of fluid from the chest of a pa-
tient suffering distressingly from an effusion. This operation
was repeated a few days later with great success, after which
the patient made a good recovery. On April 17 of that
year, H. I. Bowditch, who had been carrying on the same
line of research, though independent of Wyman, asked the
latter to operate upon a patient of his (Bowditch's) in the
town of Woburn. Bowditch was immediately convinced of the
value of the operation and described the procedure in the
April number of the "American Journal of the Medical Sci-
EMINENT ALUMNI 833
ences," 1852. In this article he gave full credit to Wyman for
priority. In his subsequent writings, Bowditch firmly estab-
lished the simple method of paracentesis in place of the more
difficult and serious operation of Hippocrates.
In 1853 John Ware asked the Corporation of Harvard for
an Adjunct Professor. Accordingly, on August 27 of that
year, Morrill Wyman was appointed Adjunct Hersey Profes-
sor of Theory and Practice. This position he held until Octo-
ber 25th, 1856, when a difference of opinion among the mem-
bers of the Faculty resulted in his resignation. In 1863 he
delivered the annual address before the Massachusetts Med-
ical Society. His subject was "The Reality and Certainty
of Medicine," an excellent supplement to Holmes' i860 ad-
dress,* "Currents and Counter-currents in Medical Sciences."
In 1872 Wyman published a volume on the two forms
of hay-fever, an affection of which he was a victim annually.
In 1875 he was elected an Overseer of Harvard College, and
served until 1887, his Alma Mater in the meantime (1886)
conferring upon him the LL. D. He was a founder of the
Cambridge Hospital, and invented a system of individual ven-
tilation for each bed. His motto for the hospital was "Man
tends, God mends." He was a member of the American Acad-
emy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Societies for Medical
Improvement in Cambridge and in Boston. He was for many
years Consulting Physician to the Massachusetts General Hos-
pital, the Cambridge Hospital, and the Adams Nervine Hos-
pital. He died on January 31, 1903.
CHARLES EDOUARD BROWN-SEQUARD.
Charles E. Brown-Sequard was born in Mauritius Island
in 1817, and was the s<>n of Edward Brown, of Philadelphia.
His mother was a French lady by the name of Sequard.
* Annual discourse, Massachusetts Medical Society.
834 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
He was educated in Paris, and was graduated Bachelor of
Letters from the University there in 1838, receiving his de-
gree of Bachelor of Science in 1839. His medical studies
were pursued at the Ecole de Medecine, from which he re-
ceived the M. D. in 1846. From the time of his graduation
he devoted himself to the study of physiology exclusively.
One may mention his experiments and investigations on the
conditions and functions of the constituents of the blood, on
animal heat, on the spinal column and its relations to diseases,
on the muscular system, on the sympathetic nerves and gang-
lia, on the effect of the removal of the supra-renal capsule,
etc., etc. Soon after his graduation he become a Fellow of
the Royal College of Physicians, London, and was for sev-
eral years head of the London Hospital for the paralyzed and
epileptic. In 1855 he was appointed Professor of Physiology
in the Medical College of Virginia, and on June 11, 1864,
the Corporation of Harvard established in the Medical School
the Professorship of the Physiology and Pathology of the
Nervous System, to which chair Brown-Sequard was elected.
This position he held until December 28, 1867. He then re-
turned to Paris, where he held the chair of Comparative and
Experimental Pathology at the Ecole de Medecine from 1869
to 1871. In 1873 he settled in New York, where he practiced
until 1878; then he succeeded Claude Bernard as Professor
of Experimental Medicine at the College de France.
During his frequent visits to this country, Brown-Sequard
lectured at length on his discoveries and methods of treatment,
especially in obscure diseases of the spinal column and nervous
system. In 1889 he announced the discovery of the "Elixir
of Life," indicating a process of rejuvenation by means of
the subcutaneous injection of a certain testicular secretion.
He received many prizes from the French Academy of Sci-
ence, and was the author of many works on his specialty. His
"Lectures on the Physiology and Pathology of the Nervous
HENRY J. BIGELOW.
A. B. 1837; A. M.; M. I). 1841; !.!.. I). 1882.
Professor of Surgery 1849-1882.
EMINENT ALUMNI 835
System," i860, and "Paralysis of the Lower Extremities,"
i860, are the best known of his works. He was editor of the
"Journal de la Physiologie de 1' Homme et des Animaux,"
also of the "New York Archives of Scientific and Practical
Medicine." He was a member of the American Academy of
Sciences. He died in Paris, on April 2, 1894.
HENRY JACOB BIGELOW.
Henry J. Bigelow was born in Boston on March 11, 18 18.
He was a son of that Jacob Bigelow, first Professor of Materia
Medica in the Medical School, and Rumford Professor of the
Application of Science to the Useful Arts, in the Academic
department of the University. From his father, Henry J.
Bigelow inherited great physical and mental vigor. From
his mother (Mary Scollay Bigelow) he received a strength
of character, a certain gentleness of nature, and a capacity
for work which made him a leader among men, an opponent
to vivisection, and a fighter of that strength which will not
admit defeat. At an early age he showed remarkable inge-
nuity in mechanics and a fertility in inventiveness which stood
by him through life.
Bigelow entered Harvard College in 1833. when he was
fifteen years old. During his course at Cambridge he was a
member of many clubs and societies, and took part in the
fieshman rebellion of 1834, as well as in other "events" which
brought with them the penalty of being "rusticated," and "pro-
hibited from all connection with the town of Cambridge until
the Saturday before Commencement." But he was assigned
"a part" in the Commencement exercises at his graduation in
Bigelow early made up his mind to study medicine and to
be a surgeon. This decision shows that self-willed deter-
mination which was characteristic. His father had an assured
836 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
position in the practice of medicine ; his father's friends, espe-
cially James Jackson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, were anx-
ious to help the son, but the young man would have his own
way. The very difficulties pointed out seemed rather to en-
courage him, and, when they remonstrated, "your father is a
medical, not a surgical practitioner. You want to forsake
your best chance, and try to practice in that corner of the
room, when all your interests and opportunities are with him,
over in the other corner !" Bigelow answered emphatically :
"I'll be damned if I won't be a surgeon!"
After studying medicine with his father and later at Dart-
mouth with Holmes, who was then the Professor of Anatomy
and Physiology there, he was appointed house-pupil at the
Massachusetts General Hospital (1838-39). While at Dart-
mouth, Bigelow developed pulmonary symptoms, which sent
him to Cuba, whence he went to Paris. He did not drop his
studies during this absence, and was qualified to receive his
M. D. at Harvard in 1841. He went back to Paris imme-
diately for further study, and later to London.
Here's a letter from him at the age of twenty-four :
" Paris, November 19, 1842.
"MY DEAR FATHER: I have just received your kind letter of No-
vember 1. You say that happiness does not consist in externals, nor in
property. It is a fact of which I have long been convinced. The happiest
and best people have not always the money. — for instance, Dr. Boott, and
innumerable others. On the other hand, the money is, much of it, in the
hands of undeserving and ignorant people. I say the same to myself of
health, by way of consolation. It is a little world that we live in, and
our position among j( S temporalities is of little importance. This strikes
one when one hears of the death of such men as the Due d'Orlcans, or
the Marquis d'Aguado, who rolled in wealth and comfort here, and who
may not unlikely have found their level, by this time, below many of the
chiffoniers who die of cold and privation. I comfort myself too by com-
paring little things with great. I have got a chronological chart upon
which I find America occupying ;i square inch in a space of six or eight
feet filled with the rising and crumbling of whole nations of whom we
know little fir nothing. How many cases perfectly parallel to ours have
EMINENT ALUMNI 837
existed in the five thousand years of the world's progress, and how many
more will occur, of neither of which we know anything! And again,
how small and unimportant are our troubles compared with those of a
majority of our fellows! Women are making shirts at this moment in
England for three half-pence, and find the thread. A woman went to
borrow a penny to buy thread, saying that she and her husband would
have to wail for bread until she got her three half-pence for the shirts she
was making. This world is but a speck in the system, and this system
among other systems, and I but a speck in the world. Of what real im-
portance is the house I live in, or the manner I get my money (honestly),
or the amount I get, since one hundred years hence nobody will know
anything about me? The great end and principle of life is moral ac-
countability; and I must say that I am very indifferent to the opinion
of men who steal their money like Mr. . who sacrifice their souls to
it like Mr. , or who, having amassed it, keep their sons making figures
all their youth to the exclusion of every sort of expanded knowledge, like
Mr. . Nevertheless. I am aware that in America money is the great
pursuit ; that the richest man is the most respected ; and I do not mean to
say that we should not so far conform to people around us as to give it
a certain amount of attention. It is difficult to say how far we are re-
moved from the original Christian state, which gives all goods to the
poor ; but I believe it is not less certain that we live in a most distorted
and unnatural condition in America, where, after a certain conformity
with the conventional rules of morality, a man's, and especially a young
man's, merits are measured by his thriftiness, his chance of making money.
What would a man like Dr. Boott go for in New York, or what does Mr.
Gannett pass for in Boston, except among the few? They are excellent,
sincerely good Christians and charitable men. Dr. Boott lacks nothing
but thriftiness, and Mr. Gannett, besides this quality, the man-of-the-
world talents, which are partly its cause and partly its results. In spite
of the force of public opinion, in spite of the ' almighty dollar.' I do not
see the reason for desponding because I do not keep pace with the erro
ous notions and pursuits of people around. So much for the local ideas
which magnify in our country the presence or absence of properly. I
not mean to deny that a man, as a general rule, in a savage or civil: :ed
state, should support his family; hut 1 do mean to say that the accumu-
lation of a greater or less amount of property has not the real value which
is erroneously attached to ii in our country, and that happiness is far
from being in proportion to it. A chance which could not he foreseen
has willed that you should not accumulate money, which you. Irom your
character, talents, and your industry, had a right i" t; but tins
event, in this short life. i< a very inconsiderable one. compared with iho>e
of the real and long one which is to come, For your sake 1 regret with
838 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
all ray heart that you could not have amassed money enough to spend
freely, and indulge your tastes; but none of your children will regret a
moment that you did not leave them a son, should circumstances so will
it. They will remember you as the best of fathers and the soundest of
men, who had the warmest of hearts, a most cultivated mind, and an un-
wavering principle of right and truth ; and there are few who leave such a
character behind them. As to what the world will say, who are the world
who take it upon themselves to judge between you and your family?
They are men of property, who have been studying account books and
rates of interest while you have been alleviating pain and suffering ; who
have ruined their friends and their brothers by extorting the payment of
money, while you have diminished your bill to strangers because they
found it inconvenient to pay you, and have visited poor people without
any recompense at all. They are not the men to stand aloof and give their
" My dear father, I send this fragment of an unfinished letter, which I
had laid by to finish, because it expresses a part, though a small part of
what I should like to write to you if I were well enough to write a long
letter. " Your affectionate son."
Louis' "Numerical Method" was at this period deemed "the
master key which was to unlock the secrets of disease and its
remedies," as Holmes wrote. That this method of his teacher
did not appeal so strongly to Bigelow as to Holmes is shown
in his address as president of the Boylston Medical Society in
1846. That address was called "Fragments of Medical Sci-
ence and Art/' and in it Bigelow made an appeal for the in-
ductive method in medicine, rather than that we should trust
to the mere accumulation of duplicate facts. He dwelt upon
the importance of imagination in science. He showed the true
office of hypothesis in the discovery of truth. This thesis
brought him into notice, for it was clever and somewhat orig-
inal. New facts were what Bigelow believed should be
sought, not the mere accumulation of old ones.^ He thought
the old ones could be ascertained best by new methods of
research. The new opportunity was even then opened to him
through the introduction of the microscope, and the new leader
for him was James Paget, who was then delivering at the
EMINENT ALUMNI 839
Royal College those lectures on the pathology of surgery
which made him famous. To hear Paget, Bigelow had been
used to make weekly trips from Paris to London, then no
While in Paris, Bigelow and Jeffries Wyman lived in the
same house, and thereby formed the friendship which asso-
ciation and the kindred tastes of future years made permanent.
After a short stay in Rome, while convalescing from typhoid
fever, and incidentally taking drawing lessons, Bigelow re-
turned to Boston in 1844, and established himself on Summer
Street, at the west corner of Chauncey Place, where Jeffries
Wyman also had taken an office. The time was propitious.
The town had a population of about one hundred and fifty
thousand, with a list of regular medical practitioners of about
one hundred and sixty; the lectures at the Lowell Institute,
and those at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences were
creating among the laity a curiosity about science. The public
were saying and the younger physicians were thinking that
all the wisdom and skill in medicine were not confined to the
older men. It was the familiar story. The revolution needed
but a leader, and Bigelow was a born leader. He was well
trained, and he was a fighter. He asked no favors; he made
no concealment of his purpose. He would even force the
fight. Tradition, seniority, prestige, family influence in prac-
tice, must all prove their claim or take the consequences.
Criticism and ridicule were of no avail. James Jackson said
of Bigelow, "If he does not become a distinguished man, it
will be because Boston is not a large enough field for his abil-
ity." But his success was phenomenal and almost immediate.
He was a marked man upon all occasions, whether public
or private ; and certainly he was not above theatrical arts, with
his dashing French cabriolet, his horses in gaily mono-
grammed harness, his fashionable personal appearance, and.
840 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
finally, his establishment of a "Charitable Surgical Institu-
tion," offering service to the poor by means of conspicuous
signboards, and by circulars among the country practitioners.
There was a row, and ridicule, jealousy, and criticism. Henry
Bryant, who had been an externe in a Paris hospital, was Bige-
low's partner in the "Institution." Here is their famous cir-
cular and the witticism it provoked :
"Boston, January i, 1847."
"Sir: The subscribers have established a 'Charitable Surgical Insti-
tution for Outdoor Patients,' in the building of the ' First Church ' in
Chauncy Place, where they will attend daily, from 11 to 12 o'clock.
" They propose to give gratuitous advice, and to perform gratuitously
any operation that may prove necessary, either at the rooms or at the
boarding place of the patient in Boston. A medical attendant will reside
upon the premises, who will direct patients to good and reasonable board-
ing-places, and afford any other desired information.
" A written diagnosis, prognosis, and course of treatment in any case
will be forwarded to any physician who shall request it in writing.
" The subscribers are also ready to operate or to consult gratuitously
at the residence of the patient in the country, when circumstances render
" Physicians may at ail times obtain vaccine matter gratuitously at
the above rooms by applying postpaid.
" Cases of pulmonary or cardiac disease can also be physically examined
at the rooms, as above, if desired.
" Henry Jacob Bigelow, M. D.
v " One of the Surgeons of the Mass. Gen. Hospital.
" Henry Bryant, M. D.
"Late Externe at the Hopital Beaujon, Paris."
"Boston, March 1, 1847."
"' Dear Sir : You arc respectfully informed that the subscribers have
opened a Medical and Surgical establishment for the purpose of furnish-
ing gratuitous professional assistance to all applicants, together with
medicines, surgical apparatus, board, lodging, good clothes, and whatever
else the circumstances of the patient may require.
" Patients residing at a distance will, on application, have carriages sent
gratuitously to take them to our rooms ; and those requiring our services
at home may depend on our making the utmost speed to their residences.
EMINENT ALUMNI 841
" Nurses, attendants, and all the conveniences of the sick chamber
" We are also prepared, on receiving from a country physician a care-
fully written account of any case, to send gratuitously our opinions, with
medicines and a coffin ; and that our facilities for giving an accurate
diagnosis may be appreciated, we are happy to add that we have recently
obtained a stethoscope of six thousand ordinary stethoscopic power, by
which means cerebral auscultation can be practised at a great distance,
and many things heard which do not in reality exist.
" Physicians and patients may be assured that all applicants at our
room will receive gratuitously every advantage which the highest pro-
fessional attainment on our part, and the most unlimited resources, can
" The advantages of early application are obvious ; it will at once
insure to patients the full ardor of our professional zeal, and demonstrate
our superiority to all old practitioners and country physicians, and prove
that we are illustrious men. To those to whom this may be a matter of
doubt, we would add, that one of us, after about only one year's arduous
practice, is already made one of the Surgeons of the principal Hospital
in New England, having a father, two or three uncles, and several influ-
ential friends connected with that institution, who have a just appreciation
of us, and through whose interest we hope to fill the Professorship of
Anatomy in the Medical School ; both of us have also studied either out-
side or inside of a hospital in Paris.
" Festinans Bigblow, equal to two Surgeons.
" Mr. Externus, recently from abroad."
Bigelow was one of the leaders, if not the actual American
pioneer, in the study of surgical pathology, and he was one
of the earliest microscopists in the country. In 1844 he pub-
lished a "Manual of Orthopedic Surgery," which won the
Boylston Prize for that year. This treatise was "a model of
excellence, and one of the best publications to illustrate the
French School of Orthopedic Surgery — the dominant school
of that time."* The chapter on Strabismus, in this essay,
was the first complete presentation of that subject published in
Bigelow was appointed an Instructor in Surgery at the
* E. H. Bradford, Presidential address, American Orthopedic Associa-
tion, September 17, 1889.
842 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
Tremont Street School in 1845, succeeding Reynolds. This
position he held until the school was merged in the Harvard
School. On the 28th of January, 1846, he was appointed a
visiting surgeon to the Massachusetts General Hospital, then
recently enlarged. Bigelow was now twenty-eight years
old. On October 16th, 1846, came the introduction of sur-
gical anaesthesia. The story of Bigelow's connection with
this discovery would be a volume in itself. From the first he
saw its magnitude. He threw all his enthusiasm into' the ad-
vocacy of the use of ether. Holmes gives the following ac-
count of Bigelow in connection with that memorable event :
" On the evening of November 2, 1846, he called at my house in Charles
Street with a paper which he proposed reading at the meeting of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences to be held the next day, and
which he wished me to hear. He began by telling me of the successful
use of the inhalation of a gas or vapor which produced insensibility,
during which a capital operation had been performed at the Massachusetts
General Hospital. He was in a state of excitement as he spoke of the
great discovery, that the gravest operations could be performed without
the patients knowing about it until it was all over. In a fortnight the
news of this wonderful discovery, he said, will be all over Europe. He
then proceeded to read to me the paper he had prepared, — the first formal
presentation of the subject to the scientific world. He had the sagacity
to see the far-reaching prospects of the new discovery, the courage as well
as the shrewdness to support the claims of the adventurous dentist's start-
ling, at first almost increditable, announcement. Every possible effort was
made to dislodge the infant anaesthesia from the cradle in the Massachu-
setts General Hospital, but there remains the fact that all over the wide
world patients were shrieking under the surgeon's knife and saw, — oper-
ator and victim alike ignorant of the relief in store for them at the very
time when Dr. Bigelow was unfolding in my library the first paper ever
written on the subject. From the first Dr. Bigelow was the steady, un-
flinching advocate of ether as the safest of the anaesthetics."