[Gent. Mag. 1862, ii. 112, quoting from the Malta Times; Dalzel's History of Dahomy.]
DICKSON, JAMES (1737?–1822), botanist, was born at Kirke House, Traquair, Peeblesshire, of poor parents, in 1737 or 1738, and began life in the gardens of Earl Traquair. While still young he went to Jeffery's nursery-garden at Brompton, and in 1772 started in business for himself in Covent Garden. Sir Joseph Banks threw open his library to him, and he acquired a wide knowledge of botany, and especially of cryptogamic plants. Sir J. E. Smith bears testimony in an epitaph (Memoir and Correspondence of Sir J. E. Smith, ii. 234) to his ‘powerful mind, spotless integrity, singular acuteness and accuracy,’ and L'Héritier dedicated to him the genus Dicksonia, among the tree-ferns. Dickson made several tours in the highlands in search of plants between 1785 and 1791, that of 1789 being in company with Mungo Park, whose sister became the second wife of the botanist. He published between 1785 and 1801 four ‘Fasciculi Plantarum Cryptogamicarum Britanniæ,’ 4to, containing in all four hundred descriptions; between 1789 and 1799, ‘A Collection of Dried Plants, named on the authority of the Linnæan Herbarium,’ in seventeen folio fascicles, each containing twenty-five species; in 1795, a ‘Catalogus Plantarum Cryptogamicarum Britanniæ;’ and between 1793 and 1802, his ‘Hortus Siccus Britannicus,’ in nineteen folio fascicles, besides various memoirs in the ‘Transactions of the Linnean Society.’ Dickson in 1788 became one of the original members of this society, and in 1804 was one of the eight original members and a vice-president of the Horticultural Society. He died at Broad Green, Croydon, Surrey, 14 Aug. 1822, his wife, a son, and two daughters surviving him. His portrait by H. P. Briggs, R.A. (1820), has been lithographed.
[Trans. Hort. Soc. v. Appendix, pp. 1–3; Biog. Universelle, vol. lxii.; Royal Society's Catalogue, ii. 285.]
DICKSON, ROBERT, M.D. (1804–1875), physician, was born at Dumfries in 1804, and educated at the high school and university of Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1826. Having settled in London, he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1855, and continued to practise there till 1866, when he retired to the country. He was an accomplished botanist, and lectured on botany at the medical school in Webb Street, and afterwards at St. George's Hospital. All the articles on ‘Materia Medica’ in the ‘Penny Cyclopædia’ were by him, and he also published several articles on popular science in the ‘Church of England Magazine.’ He died on 13 Oct. 1875. In 1834 he married Mary Ann Coope, who also died in 1875. There were six surviving children.
[Medical Times and Gazette, 30 Oct. 1875.]
DICKSON, SAMUEL, M.D. (1802–1869), author of the ‘Chrono-thermal System of Medicine,’ was born in 1802. He studied medicine at Edinburgh (where he attached himself to Liston in anatomy and surgery) and at Paris, qualifying at the Edinburgh College of Surgeons in 1825. Having obtained a commission as assistant-surgeon in the army, he went to India to join the 30th regiment of foot at Madras. During five years' service in India he acquired a large surgical experience (he speaks of performing forty operations for cataract in one morning), became distrustful of the current rules and maxims of medical treatment, and speculated on the nature of cholera. On his return home he graduated M.D. at Glasgow in 1833, and began private practice, first at Cheltenham and afterwards in Mayfair, London. His first published work was ‘Hints on Cholera and its Treatment,’ Madras, 1829, in which he traced the phenomena of the disease to influences acting on the nervous centres and the pneumogastric nerve. An English edition, with new matter, appeared under the title ‘The Epidemic Cholera and other prevalent Diseases of India,’ London, 1832. When the next epidemic came, he returned to the subject in ‘Revelations on Cholera,’ Lond. 1848, and ‘The Cholera and how to cure it,’ Lond. 1849 (?). Shortly after settling in London, where he had no connection with medical corporations, societies, hospitals, or schools of medicine, he began a series of clever polemical writings, in which he cast ridicule both on the intelligence and on the honesty of contemporary practice by way of recommending his original views. The following is a list of them:
- ‘The Fallacy of Physic as taught in the schools, with new and important Principles of Practice,’ 1836.
- ‘The Unity of Disease analytically and synthetically proved, with facts subversive of the received practice of physic,’ 1838.
- ‘Fallacies of the Faculty, with the principles of the Chrono-thermal System,’ 1839.
- ‘What killed Mr. Drummond—the lead or the lancet?’ 1843.
- ‘The History of Chrono-thermal Medicine’ (title quoted by himself without date; not in catalogues).
- ‘The Destructive Art of Healing, or Facts for Families; a sequel to the “Fallacies of the Faculty,”’ 1853.
- ‘London Medical Prac-