Hope, James (1801-1841) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

HOPE, JAMES (1801–1841), physician, was born at Stockport in Cheshire 23 Feb. 1801. His father, Thomas, belonged to a branch of the Scottish Hopes, long settled in Lancashire. Having realised a handsome fortune as a merchant and manufacturer, he retired from business and settled at Prestbury Hall, near Macclesfield in Cheshire. After four years (1815–18) at the Macclesfield grammar school, James resided for about eighteen months at Oxford, where his elder brother was then an undergraduate, but never became a member of the university. In October 1820 he went as a medical student to Edinburgh, where he highly distinguished himself, and passed five years. The subject of his inaugural medical dissertation (August 1825) was aneurism of the aorta, and he then began to collect drawings (executed by himself) of pathological specimens coming under his notice. He was one of the presidents of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh, he held the offices of house-physician and house-surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, and he and his intimate friend Dr. George Julius passed the two best examinations of the year. On leaving Edinburgh in December 1825 he became a student at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and in the spring of 1826 obtained the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons. Though he restricted himself rigidly in after life to the practice of medicine, his knowledge of surgery gave him a confidence which he could never otherwise have enjoyed. In the summer of the same year he left England for the continent, and stayed a year at Paris as one of the clinical clerks of M. Chomel at La Charité. He then visited Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, and reached England in June 1828. In September he passed the College of Physicians as a licentiate. With a fixed determination to become one of the chief London physicians, he established himself in December 1828 in Lower Seymour Street, Portman Square, and entered himself as a pupil at St. George's Hospital in order to attend the physicians in their visits to the wards. There he was one of the early champions of auscultation. He had had opportunities of testing the value of Laennec's discovery while in Paris, and he was himself especially fitted for practising it with advantage, having very acute hearing and a very delicate ear for musical tones and rhythm. In 1829 he began to publish a series of papers preparatory to a projected work on the heart. Four papers on ‘Aneurisms of the Aorta, based on Observations as House Physician and House Surgeon to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh,’ appeared in the ‘London Medical Gazette,’ 1829 (iv. 353, &c.), and in 1830 he sent to the same journal (vi. 680, &c.) four papers relating especially to the sounds of the heart and the physiology of its action. He also wrote for the ‘Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine’ about the same time the articles ‘Aorta, Aneurism of,’ ‘Arteritis,’ ‘Dilatation of the Heart,’ ‘Heart, Diseases of,’ ‘Heart, Degeneration of,’ ‘Heart, Hypertrophy of,’ ‘Palpitation,’ ‘Pericarditis and Carditis,’ ‘Valves of the Heart, Diseases of,’ but these were not published till 1833–1835. His great work came out at the end of 1831 (1832) with the title ‘A Treatise on the Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels; comprising a new view of the Physiology of the Heart's Action, according to which the physical signs are explained.’ The book was received with approbation in this country, in America, and on the continent, where it was translated into German by an old Edinburgh friend, Dr. Becker of Berlin. A third edition appeared in 1839, corrected and greatly enlarged, and with the addition of plates; and a fourth edition in 1849, after his death, with his latest additions and corrections, but without the plates, and in a cheaper form. Hope's final conclusions about the sounds of the heart are on the whole justified by modern experiments, and adopted, with certain additions, by teachers in the existing physiological schools. Hope's investigations as to the causes of the sounds necessarily involved experiments on living animals, the last series of which, in February 1835, led to a controversy with Dr. C. J. B. Williams [q. v.] (see Hope's work, 3rd ed. pp. 32–4, 4th ed. preface; Memoir of Hope, 4th ed. pp. 156–66; and Williams, Memoirs, 1884, chaps. xiii. xvi.)

In 1831 Hope was elected physician to the Marylebone Infirmary, where he had charge of ninety beds. In 1829 he had established a private dispensary in connection with the Portman Square and Harley Street district visiting societies, and in the autumn of 1832 he delivered at his own house a course of about five-and-twenty lectures (intended for practitioners only) on diseases of the chest. He afterwards lectured at St. George's Hospital (where he had been elected assistant physician in 1834) and at the Aldersgate Street School of Medicine, and was very successful with the students.

Hope now turned to the publication of his work on morbid anatomy, the drawings for which, both made and coloured from nature with his own hand, had occupied him since the commencement of his medical education in Edinburgh. The first part appeared at the beginning of 1833, and the last at the end of the following year, in large 8vo. The value of the work was fully recognised, but, owing to the expense of the plates, Hope's profits were very small. In July 1839, on the resignation of Dr. W. F. Chambers [q. v.], he was appointed full physician at St. George's Hospital, after brief opposition from Dr. Williams. The excitement of this election brought on a spitting of blood, and his health, which had hitherto been good, thenceforth declined. In July 1840 he was elected a fellow of the London College of Physicians. Towards the following Christmas he became unequal to his regular duties, but he continued to see a few patients till he removed in March 1841 to Hampstead, where he died on 12 May of pulmonary consumption. He was buried in the cemetery at Highgate. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in June 1832, and was a corresponding member of several foreign societies. He contracted a most happy marriage, 10 March 1831, with Miss Anne Fulton [see Hope, Anne], by whom he had one child, the present Sir Theodore C. Hope, K.C.S.I. Considering the early age at which he died, Hope may be regarded as one of the most eminent and successful physicians of his day. When he retired his professional income was 4,000l. per annum. He was a member of the anglican church, and had strong religious convictions.

Besides the writings mentioned above and numerous articles in the medical periodicals, Hope contributed the article on ‘Inflammation of the Brain’ to Tweedie's ‘Library of Medicine,’ and some ‘Notes on the Treatment of Chronic Pleurisy,’ finished only four days before his death (see Medico-Chirurgical Review, vol. xxxv. 1841).

[Memoir by his widow, Mrs. Anne Hope, 1842, which went through four editions; obituary notice in Brit. and For. Med. Rev. 1841, xii. 286, xiv. 532; Lond. Med. Gaz. 1841–2, ii. 692; Lancet, 1845, i. 43; Dr. C. J. B. Williams's Memoirs of Life and Work, 1884 (see index); family information.]

W. A. G.