1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bell, John (anatomist)

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BELL, JOHN (1763-1820), Scottish anatomist and surgeon, an elder brother of Sir Charles Bell, was born at Edinburgh on the 12th of May 1763. After completing his professional education at Edinburgh, he carried on from 1790 in Surgeons' Square an anatomical lecture-theatre, where, in spite of much opposition, due partly to the unconservative character of his teaching, he attracted large audiences by his lectures, in which he was for a time assisted by his younger brother Charles. In 1793-1795 he published Discourses on the Nature and Cure of Wounds, and in 1800 he became involved in an unfortunate controversy with James Gregory (1753-1821), the professor of medicine at Edinburgh. Gregory in 1800 attacked the system whereby the fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh acted in rotation as surgeons at the Royal Infirmary, with the result that the younger fellows were excluded. Bell, who was among the number, composed an Answer for the Junior Members (1800), and ten years later published a collection of Letters on Professional Character and Manners, which he had addressed to Gregory. After his exclusion from the infirmary he ceased to lecture and devoted himself to study and practice. In 1816 he was injured by a fall from his horse and in the following year went to Italy for the benefit of his health. He died at Rome on the 15th of April 1820. His works also included Principles of Surgery (1801), Anatomy of the Human Body, which went through several editions and was translated into German, and Observations on Italy, published by his widow in 1825.