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few years he was very kind to the young medico.

Dean Stanley, like my father, was a great tea-drinker.
On one occasion Thackeray was standing by, when he
exclaimed : * Why, you would both be reduced to as great
a state of misery without that cup as would my good old
friend Twining, the City tea merchant, if we deprived him
of his first T.'

Of Catlin, author of 'Wanderings among the North
American Indians,' my father often spoke. The most
delightful time he spent with Catlin was during one
summer when they agreed to join company at Ostend,
where for days they talked and compared notes. Many
years after poor Catlin's death my father visited America,
one of the greatest inducements to do so being to see for
himself something of the country the indefatigable traveller
had so graphically described. On nearing a certain part
of the great plains of the West, my father asked the con-
ductor of the luxurious train if they did not pass through
some of the wild prairies described by Catlin. The man


■was so surprised to find how much the English traveller
knew about the country that he promised to call him in
the early twilight, when they would come to an old disused,
but once celebrated, Indian camp. When they reached
the place, my father was immensely impressed and
astonished at the truthful vigour with which Catlin had
described every detail.

I find in his notes the following :

' Now for the prau'ies ! Now for the scenes of the wan-
dering of my dear old friend George Catlin, whose tales
concerning the noble Eed Indian savages in their primitive
state inspired me with an intense longing to visit them in
their own wild homes ! Poor Catlin, alas ! is now no more,
so I cannot fulfil my promise of telling him how I found
his old and well-beloved friends, or what I thought of

' Catlin first dwelt among these strange folk in 1832, and
I had a copy of his original map with me, showing where
the different tribes of North American Indians had dwelt
at that time. When I travelled over the same ground
fifty years later in a train, what ravages the white man
had made ! Of the Chippeways I saw none, except a young
woman of about twenty-three, with a baby of eighteen
months old. They were on board the boat between Port
Arthur and Duluth. She did not understand a syllable of
English, and only smiled when I gave the child 25 cents.
It was the Mandans, the Crows, and the Blackfeet, as
described by Catlin, that had most interested me — the
first on account of their peculiar religious customs, the
second on account of their chiefs wearing long hair. One
of these Crow braves' hair Catlin measured, and found it
actually 10 feet 7 inches in length ! The women's locks
were, comparatively speaking, short. The Blackfeet, again,
interested me on account of their havmg been a very
important and intelligent tribe in Catlin's time, numbering,
he said, 16,000 souls. I may here mention that it is an



absurdity to call any of the North American Indians " Eed-
skins," since red-skinned in any sense of the word they are
not. Neither are they black, having, in fact, pale-brown
complexions. Some tribes are, indeed, almost fair, being
more sallow yellow than anything else.

'From those I saw, I should say they most nearly
approach Mongolians, Asiatics, and the tribes of men we
call gipsies ; for they have straight black hair, bright
black eyes, and straight, sometimes even slightly aquiline,
noses, all of which prove that they have, like the gipsies
in Europe, an Asiatic origin. Owing to the men having
no beards and wearing long hair, they are often by tourists
mistaken for women.

* Oh, what a disappointment I met with as regards these
Indians ! No more of the " noble-faced, straight-limbed,
well-fed, and self-confident men " of Catlin's time were to
be found amongst them. Their " nobility of nature " had
disappeared, and the debasement of a " barbarous civiliza-
tion " usurped its place. His lofty expression had passed
from him with his lands and his freedom. Blankets and
trousers had taken the place of buffalo robes and moccasins.
An English bridle and a Mexican saddle were seen instead
of a twisted thong and a bare back. . . .

' 'Tis well that poor Catlin is not alive to hear my
sorrowful tales of the fate and appearance of a people who
were so good and kind to him in the days of their pros-
perity and wild magnificence.

' Not one single buffalo did we see, though we travelled
a thousand miles and more across the prairies where in
Catlin's time they were to be met with in millions.
Skeletons and horns were all that remained to tell the
tale of their past existence.

' The poor elk, too, has almost disappeared. We saw
none alive, though we passed dead ones and fed upon
their flesh.

'As we journey onwards, innumerable high -pointed
hillocks, abruptly and boldly standing out on the prairie.


are visible on all sides ; but now, instead of appearing as
bare earth, they are shrouded to the top with grass, indi-
cating, as it were, an older development. No sooner did
we get among them than I anxiously looked out for one
high hill in particular, Catlin told me could be seen
many miles distant, which had a tall pole stuck on the top
of it to mark the last resting-place of the famous chief
0-ma-haws (Blackbird), who, when dead, seated on his
war-horse, was taken to the top of it and there entombed,
the earth being gradually piled round the horse till the
creature was suffocated, and then up and around his
dead rider until both were completely buried in. There it
was exactly as Catlin had described it to me twenty years

My father always cherished Catlings memory as that of
a true and valued friend.

Some years after this trip across Canada and home by
the States, the doctor published a paper, ' Comparison
between the Kecuperative Bodily Power of Man in a Eude
and in a Highly-civilized State : Illustrative of the Probably
Eecuperative Capacity of Men of the Stone Age in Europe.'

This was written after he had given a lecture at the
Anthropological Institute (November, 1887), to show how,
in spite of the refining influence of civilization, it deteri-
orates the recuperative bodily power, and that, while we
are taller, live longer, and perchance look handsomer, we
have not the same healthy recuperative power. He worked
the subject out with his usual untiring energy, and apropos
of the North American Indians above referred to I give one
extract :

' Now for the case of a North American Indian. While
I was passing from the rugged volcanic geyser district of
Montana into the fertile plains of the Columbia Eiver in
Oregon in 1884, the conductor of our train pointed out a
one-legged Indian standing at the depot, whom I mistook


for a woman, from his being like the squaws, as devoid of
hair on his face as they are of projecting bosoms, and not
only being dressed in a similar costume, but wearing his
head-hair in the same long and lank fashion as the women
do. This man, the conductor said, had hacked off the
lower part of his own leg with a tomahawk in order to
extricate himself from a crane, and afterwards crawled
more than a mile to his wigwam before he could get
assistance. Yet, in spite of all this, he was able within a
fortnight to hobble about minus his leg.'

That American trip my father thoroughly enjoyed. He
loved travel, and the habits and customs of strange folk
fascinated him. The next note, I find, is on my own
marriage, which evidently revived many memories. He

* My daughter Ethel has Just married (1887) Alec
Tweedie,^ who is a grandson of Dr. Alexander Tweedie,
F.E.S., formerly of Brook Street, whose portrait hangs in
the Eoyal College of Physicians, London. Old Dr.
Tweedie's work on fever was very well known, and the
London Fever Hospital was built under his supervision.
Strangely enough, he examined me when I first came to
London to take the membership of the Eoyal College of

' But the connecting-link is even stronger, for Alec
Tweedie is first cousin to Sir Alexander Christison, my old
Edinburgh chum, who took his degree with Murchison and
myself on the same day in Edinburgh. My son-in-law is,
therefore, a nephew of dear old Sir Eobert Christison,
whose classes I attended as a student.

' On his mother's side. Alec is the grandson of General
Leslie, K.H., and great-grandson of Colonel Muttle-
bury, C.B.K.W., a very distinguished soldier, who was
in command of the 69th at Quatre Bras.

* He died in 1896, five months before the subject of this memoir.


' My son-in-law is also a nephew of General Jackson, who
was in the famous charge of Balaclava, so that on his
mother's side he is as much connected with the army as on
his father's he is with medicine.'

Curiously enough, I have come across an old indenture
between my husband's grandfather, Dr. Alexander Tweedie,
and the great surgeon Sir William Lawrence, who was so
good to my father when he first came to London. It is
such a strange old document, dated November 1, 1839,
showing how young men in those days took up medicine
and surgery, there being hardly any teaching schools or
organized hospital work, that I here insert it :

Articles of Agreement, of three parts, indented, had, made,
concluded and agreed upon this first day of November, in the third
year of the reign of Queen Victoria, and in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine ; between WUliam
Lawrence, of Whitehall Place, Westminster, a Member of the CouncU
of the Eoyal College of Surgeons in London, of the first part, Alexander
Tweedie, M.D., of Montague Place, Bedford Square, Middlesex, of the
second part, and Alexander George Tweedie, son of the said Alexander
Tweedie, of the third part, as follows, that is to say : The said William
Lawrence, for and in consideration of five shillings of laivful money
of Great Britaia, to him in hand, paid by the said Alexander Tweedie,
at or before the sealing and dehvery of these presents — the receipt
whereof he doth hereby acknowledge — and also for and ia considera-
tion of the Services of the said Alexander George Tweedie to be done
and performed for him, as hereinafter mentioned; doth for himself,
his Executors and Administrators, covenant, promise, and agree, to
and with the said Alexander Tweedie, his Executors and Adminis-
trators, by these Presents, that he, the said William Lawrence, shall
and wiU receive, accept and take, and he doth hereby agree to receive,
accept and take, the said Alexander George Tweedie to be the articled
Student of the Art and Science of Surgery of him, the said
William Lawrence, for the full space and term of four years, to be
computed from the day of the date of these Presents ; if they the said
William Lawrence and Alexander George Tweedie shall jointly so long
hve. And also shall and will, well and faithfully, according to the
best of his power, teach and instruct, or cause to be taught and
instructed, him the said Alexander George Tweedie in the Art and
Science of Surgery.


And the said Alexander Tweedie, for himself, his Executors and
Administrators, and also for the said Alexander George Tweedie, and
also the said Alexander George Tweedie for himself, do, and each of
them DOTH, covenant, promise and agree, to and with the said William
Lawrence, his Executors and Administrators, by these Presents, that he
the said Alexander George Tweedie shall and will, well and faithfully,
serve the said WiUiam Lawrence during the whole of the said term of
four years, to be computed as aforesaid, and perform, obey and observe
all and every his lawful commands and directions, and shall not, at
any time or times, absent himself from the service of the said WiUiam
Lawrence diiring the said term, without his license and consent ; nor
shall do, nor cause to be done, any act or thing which can, shall, or
may be hurtful or prejudicial to the said William Lawrence, his
Executors or Administrators, or any of his Patients or Employers ;
and that he the said Alexander George Tweedie shall not, nor will,
either directly or indirectly, during any part of the said term of four
years, practise Surgery on his own account or for his own benefit.

And, moreover, it is hereby mutually declared and agreed by and
between the said Parties to these Presents, that he the said Alexander
Tweedie shall and will find and provide, or cause to he found or
provided, for the said Alexander George Tweedie, good and sufficient
Board and Lodging during the said term of four years ; also during
the said term, good and sufficient Wearing Apparel of every Mnd
suitable to his state and condition, and all such Advice and Nursing
in case of sickness as may be necessary. In witness whereof the
said Parties to these Presents have hereunto severally set their hands
and seals, the day and year first above written.

William Lawrence.

A. Tweedie.

A. George Tweedie.

Presented before me at the Court of Examiners on the day of the
date hereof.

Egbert Hunter (or Heath), Pres.

Sealed and delivered by the said WiUiam Lawrence in the

presence of

Edm. Wilfourd, Sec. to the College.

Sealed and delivered by the said Alexander Tweedie and
Alexander George Tweedie in the presence of

Edm. Wilfourd, Sec. Eoyal CoUege of Surgeons.

But the young Alexander George Tweedie did not care
for ?jeing ' fed and clothed ' by his father, or taught the
art of surgery by Sir William Lawrence, and after a short


time left and went into the Madras Civil Service, where his

son Alec was born.

Broadly speaking, the five persons who most fascinated
my father, for the reason that they gave him the greatest
number of new ideas, were Baron von Liebig, the author of
the ' Letters on Chemistry '; Professor Sharpey, the
Secretary of the Pioyal Society ; Catlin, the North
American traveller ; John Paiskin, the great art critic ; and
Charles Waterton, the naturalist.

Of Liebig I have spoken in a former chapter, particularly
in reference to his preparation of the famous extract which
he evolved to save my mother's life.

Of Liebig's first meeting with Von Humboldt, the well-
known traveller, my father used to tell an amusing story.

In the summer of 1823 the former gave an account of the
analysis of fulminating silver before the Academy of Paris.
When he was packing up his preparations at the conclusion
of his paper, a gentleman stepped forward and asked him
many questions about his studies and future plans. He
catechized minutely, and then ended by asking Liebig to
dinner on the following Sunday. The young scientist
accepted the invitation, but when Sunday came he
remembered that he had forgotten to ask his strange friend
either his name or address. He felt very much ashamed
of himself for his stupidity, and was, of course, unable to
keep his engagement. Early next morning, in walked a
friend, who greeted him by asking :

' "WTiat on earth did you mean by not coming to dinner
with Von Humboldt '? — he even invited a lot of chemists to
meet you, including Gay-Lussac'

* I was thunderstruck,' said Liebig, * and rushed off as
fast as I could run to Von Humboldt's lodgings, and made
the best excuse I could.'

The great traveller seemed very angry at first, but was
ultimately satisfied with the explanation, at the same time
adding it was unfortunate for Liebig, as he had invited


several members of the Academy to his house to meet
him, thinking it would be greatly to the young scientist's
advantage ; ' however,' added the famous man, ' you must
come next Sunday to dinner, and I think I can promise
you a pleasant meal. Do not forget who I am again, or
where I live,' he added with a merry twinkle.

This was a very happy dinner for Liebig, for there he
made the acquaintance of Gay-Lussac, who was so much
struck with the wonderful enthusiasm and capacity of the
young German that he invited him to work with him in
his own private laboratory, and together they continued the
investigation of the fulminating compounds.

Baron von Liebig was intimately connected with our
family history, as the tone of the following letter to my
mother will show :

' May 29, 1867.
' My DEAR Emma,

' The little box with all the things arrived some days

ago, and I hasten to thank you very heartily for all the

proofs of love and affection. You are a good girl.

' Your Ethel is very sweet, and this kind of photo was
quite new to me, and you can imagine that her baby-work
was much admired. Give her a kiss for me, and tell her
that she and Mother Emma must very soon come to see us.
Mamma Liebig was very much pleased with her present,
and never thought that Ethel was already as clever as that.
I beg you, too, to thank your father for the beautiful book
about Cobden, and tell him that I made Cobden's acquaint-
ance on the occasion of the Peace Congress, and that I
always esteemed and admired him. Please ask him his
opinion of the " Development of Nations," which I sent
him ; he is a man of very high spirit, on whose opinion
I count a great deal.

' Marie and my wife thank you especially for the needles
and the little work-basket which looks like a boot. I am
busy with my preparations for my travel to Paris ; I am


obliged to hire several rooms, as I will take George [his
son] with me. He is to stay with me for a month, and
afterwards Edmund or Harley could, perhaps, come to me
with their wives ? How I am longing to see you, my dear
child ! and if I can manage it, I have a great wish to cross
the Channel. Let us see.

' How sad is the long-suffering of your husband ! but it
seems in your letter that you have not yet given up all
hope. Will you please thank him for the two nice little
works, and tell him that I was glad to hear that my
pamphlet pleased him ?

' Marie is going to Erlangen on Monday next ; if I am
right, I told you that Carl Thiersch [his son-in-law] has got
a call to Leipzig as Director of the Surgical Hospital and
Professor of Surgery. I am so glad, as I think, with his
capacities and talents, it is luck to leave the small place
which Erlangen is. Leipzig is a world-renowned town,
and his annual income will be much higher. Thiersch has
got, too, a prize from the Academie of Paris, for his work
about cholera. Some weeks ago Nannie lost her youngest
child, and she is still very sad. In about a fortnight
Thierschs start for Leipzig, and Marie will accompany
them to help with removal.

' As I heard through a letter from Mr. Froude, editor of
the Frasefs Magazine, my article for my defence will
appear in the April number. I am anxious to hear your
opinion about it.

' My wife and Marie send you their best love. I love
you as always before, and am your true old friend,

' LlEBIG.'

With the name of Sharpey was interwoven the whole of
the young physician's earlier life. Speaking of Dr. Sharpey,
my father said :

' Poor old gentleman ! his innings over, he has carried
out his bat with honour, and now, while he is quietly


drifting with tlie tide to that far-off, unknown shore whither
we are all bound, his kindness to rising physiologists is
gratefully remembered in almost every quarter of the globe.
Tor nineteen years he was secretary to the Eoyal
Society, and for nearly forty Professor of Physiology at
University College ; thus for years he held the destiny
of many young men in his hand. A word of generous
encouragement from his lips gave strength to the feeble
stem, while one of censure would have nipped the opening
bud. Be it to his honour said, that though he never held
forth his hand to the undeserving, he never withheld it
from those who merited recognition. In no case that I
ever heard of did his judgment prove at fault. The false,
though it glittered ever so brightly, he never failed to
detect. The true coin, were its surface ever so dim, he
never failed to recognise.'

My father's first meeting with Dr. Sharpey was men-
tioned in a former chapter. In connection with this great
physiologist, I remember an amusing story. One day at
luncheon, a meal he often took on Sunday in Harley Street,
Dr. Sharpey said suddenly :

' I'm going to be married, Harley.'

'What !' exclaimed my father, looking at the old gentle-
man, who was almost blind, in perfect amazement; then,
recovering himself, he added : ' I hope you will be very
happy, and are getting a nice suitable and sensible wife,
who will look well after you.'

' Nonsense ! nothing of the sort !' replied the elderly
scientist indignantly. ' I'm going to marry a most beautiful
girl of seventeen or eighteen.'

My father hardly knew what to reply, for Dr. Sharpey
was now seventy and had been a bachelor all his life.

'Don't you approve of my idea,' asked the intending
Benedict, ' that you sit there so silent ?'

* I feel rather knocked over ; I'm a little surprised.'

' What ! that a girl will have me ?'


* Oh no, not at all ; but that you, with your conj&rmed
bachelor ways, should think of a girl.'

' Well, the fact is, I don't think I shall live long now ; that
is why I have decided to marry.'

This information only made his determination the more
remarkable, until he vouchsafed the explanation that for
some fifty years he had been a subscriber to a Scottish
Widows' Fund, his mother having thought it a good thing
for him to begin as a youth. When, however, he got to
about sixty and still found himself unmarried, he wrote to
take his name off the fund. This the company refused
point-blank, declaring nolens volens he must go on paying
to the day of his death. At seventy he again appealed to
be released from his yearly payments, but with the same
result ; and so now, feeling his days were numbered, he
laughingly declared he was ready on his death-bed to
provide for some young and beautiful damsel, provided the
lady were willing to marry him at so late an hour in order
to secure the pension to procure which he had paid premiums
for half a century.

Alas for the sake of the unknown charmer, the good
man died unmarried !

One day when we children descended for luncheon, we
found a strange gentleman, who puzzled us greatly, already
seated at table with my father. First, he addressed the
head of the establishment as ' George,' a most unusual
occurrence, and spoke with a very broad Scotch accent ;
secondly, he wore extraordinary white muslin cuffs outside
his black cloth coat. This individual was, however, no less
a personage than Professor William Milligan, of Aberdeen,
at one time Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and one
of the Eevisers of the Bible.

The little white muslin cuffs, which much resembled
those still worn by widows, were what were known in
Scotland as weepers ; but I imagine he must have been one
of the last to wear this strange form of mourning, which


he did for his mother, and certainly such a curious decora-
tion was a revelation to the ordinary Londoner.

Professor Milligan was a considerably older man than
the London physician, although a great deal of their youth
had been spent together ; but finally, when the learned
Scotch divine went to live in Aberdeen, and my father took
up his abode in London, their lives drifted apart, and it
was only when Milligan came to London, generally as the
guest of Dean Stanley, at the Deanery, Westminster, upon
business connected with the revisions, that they met.

One evening I was talking to Dr. Ginsburg, one of the
Eevisers of the Old Testament, who told me how the work
was divided into two parts : one the Old and one the New ;
how the Eevisers worked concurrently, although the Old
Testament was much the more severe and took by far
the longer time. I asked him whether he had ever met
Professor Milligan.

' Of course I have,' he said, ' a most excellent scholar and
learned gentleman.'

' He was my father's first cousin,' I explained.

Ginsburg was much interested, and told me how after
two or three meetings the Eevisers were one day assembled
in the Jerusalem Chamber, when quite unexpectedly a man
clad in a gray suit arrived from Scotland, looking much
more like a country squire than a learned divine. The
Bishops and Orientalists stared at the new-comer in amaze-
ment, till Aldis "Wright, the secretary, rose and said :

' Gentlemen, let me introduce to you Professor Milligan,
of Aberdeen.'

' Hardly had the new-comer been in the Chamber a quarter
of an hour when some very critical discussion took place.

Online LibraryGeorge HarleyLife of a London physician → online text (page 20 of 29)