Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/709

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SKETCH OF JEAN MARTIN CHARCOT.
SKETCH OF JEAN MARTIN CHARCOT

A GREAT deal has been added to our knowledge of nervous disease by the labors of Charcot; and extensive fields of investigation hitherto untried have been opened by him.

Jean Martin Charcot was born in Paris, France, November 29, 1825, and died near Château Chinon, le Morvan, France, whither he had gone on a pleasure trip with a few friends, in August, 1893. He was industrious in his youth, acquitted himself brilliantly in his classical studies, and, when the time came for choosing his profession, hesitated whether to become an artist or a doctor. Against the latter was the expense of preparing for the profession, but, encouraged by the assurances of his father, who preferred that line, he began the study in 1845. He became chef de clinique in 1853, and obtained his degree in 1854. Having obtained several prizes, by which attention was drawn to him, he became a hospital physician in 1856, an adjunct professor in the University of Paris in 1860, and was appointed physician at the hospital of La Salpêtrière in 1862. Here he spent the remainder of his active life, and prosecuted the researches which have made his name famous throughout Europe and America. "In order," the Lancet says, "properly to appreciate the ability which he brought to bear upon his work and the enthusiasm which he could inspire it should be remembered that when he began his now well-known Leçons at the Salpêtrière the institution was little less than an ill-assorted collection of five thousand women, comprising the aged, the imbecile, the idiotic, the epileptic, and the paralyzed, in which scarcely an attempt had been made to extract from the wealth of material anything more than a narrow individual experience. In a few years it had been transformed into the very Mecca of neurologists, and this it has remained up to the present time." Besides teaching in his clinic at the Salpêtrière, Charcot conducted an external course in pathology at the École pratique. He was given the chair of Pathological Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris in 1875, and filled it till 1883. Since 1877 he elucidated with a rare clearness of vision a large number of questions relating to diseases of the liver, kidney, and spinal marrow. He enriched physiology by contributing to the celebrated theory of cerebral localizations. All his studies have borne fruit; they touch a multitude of problems of cerebral pathology or of nervous affections, and have been fertile in practical results, especially as concerns locomotor ataxia, medullary perturbations, aphasia, hysteria, and epilepsy. As Dr. G. Daremburg observes in a notice of him, "He brought order and precision into a multitude of questions which were