Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/127

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119
THE ILLUSTRIOUS BOERHAAVE.

were frequently waiting in his anteroom. The Czar Peter once lay all night in his pleasure barge outside of Boerhaave's house, to have two hours' conversation with him before college time. He was temperate in his habits. He rarely touched wine. Water was his common drink. In the German student song it reads :

" Hermann Boerhaave schreibet ja : Aqua paullo frigid a Potio est optima."

Until infirmity came upon him his favorite exercise was riding. When he was weary he distracted himself with music, of which he was very fond. He had a good voice and played a number of musical instruments. It was his custom to have a weekly con- cert at his own house.

At forty-two he married Mrs. Mary Drolenveaux, the only child of the Burgomaster of Leyden. They had four children ; three died in infancy one, a daughter, survived him.

In 1722, when fifty-four years of age, his physical constitution gave the first warning of the effects of the strain to which it was subjected. He had an attack of arthritis, whether of a gouty or rheumatic nature is uncertain, though it is stated that it was the result of exposing himself to the morning dews before sunrising, which kept him in bed six months. The pains were atrocious. Once, after fifteen hours of continued suffering, he prayed that his disease might end his life and misery. This afterward gave him great concern, for he wished, he said, to abide by this maxim living or dying : " That only is best, and alone to be desired, which is perfectly agreeable to the Divine Goodness and Majesty."

When in 1723 Boerhaave had sufficiently recovered to reopen his private college, the citizens of Leyden celebrated the event in the evening by illuminations and by public rejoicings. In 1727, on a return of the attack, he gave up the chairs of chemistry and botany, though he continued to teach actively in other branches until his final illness. In his later life his greatest pleasure was in his country home. This was large and roomy, with eight acres of ground. His garden was filled with the exotic shrubs and trees which would flourish in that climate. A present of American shrub seed he styles " a gift more precious than gold," and two cedar trees " a royal benefaction."

In 1725, at the expiration of his rectorship, he delivered an oration in which he reprehended the philosophers who have at- tempted to invent rather than to discover principles, and in par- ticular he singled out Descartes. Andala, an orthodox Cartesian professor, set up a cry that the Church was in danger, and that the dreaded evil of Spinozism would be the result. But the times had changed since the journey of the young student from Harder-