Walshe, Walter Hayle (DNB00)

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WALSHE, WALTER HAYLE (1812–1892), physician, son of William Walshe, a barrister, was born in Dublin on 19 March 1812. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, entering in 1827, but did not take a degree. In 1830 he went to live in Paris, and there studied first oriental languages, but in 1832 began medicine. He became acquainted in 1834 with the great morbid anatomist Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis, whose ‘Recherches sur la Phthisie’ he translated into English in 1844. Oliver Wendell Holmes and F. L. I. Valleix, the distinguished French physician, were his fellow-students, and continued his friends throughout life. He migrated to Edinburgh in 1835, there graduated M.D. in 1836, and in 1838 began practice in London. He wrote in 1839 and 1840 numerous pathological articles in William Birmingham Costello's ‘Cyclopædia of Practical Surgery.’ These contributions led to his election as professor of morbid anatomy at University College, London, in 1841. He lectured on morbid anatomy till 1846, when he was elected Holme professor of clinical medicine and physician to University College Hospital. In the same year he published a large volume ‘On the Nature and Treatment of Cancer,’ a collection of the then existing knowledge of new growths and hypotheses as to their origin. In 1848 he was appointed professor of the principles and practice of medicine, an office which he held till 1862. In his lectures he discussed points upon his fingers in the manner of the schoolmen, was fond of numerical statements of fact and of reaching a definite conclusion as a result of the denial of a series of alternate hypotheses. Sir William Jenner said that he never heard ‘a more able or clearer lecturer.’ His clinical investigations were exhaustive, but his diagnoses were not always proportionately exact. In 1843 he published ‘The Physical Diagnosis of Diseases of the Lungs,’ a complete and useful treatise, which was superseded before Walsh's death by the admirable ‘Auscultation and Percussion’ of Samuel Gee, one of his pupils, which has for the last quarter of a century been the chief English authority on the subject. In 1851 he published ‘A Practical Treatise on Diseases of the Lungs and Heart,’ of which several editions appeared, and part of which was enlarged into ‘A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels.’ In 1852 he was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians of London. He first lived in Upper Charlotte Street, afterwards in Queen Anne Street, and had for some years a considerable practice as a physician.

His pupils maintained that he was the first accurately to describe the anatomy of movable kidney and of that hæmorrhage into the dura mater known as hæmatoma, and to teach that patients with regurgitation through the aortic valves are likely to die suddenly. Sir Andrew Clark states that he had little ability in the treatment of disease. He died in London on 14 Dec. 1892. In 1868 he married Caroline Ellen Baker, and had one son. A complete list of his medical books is to be found in vol. xvi. of the ‘Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-general's Office, U. S. Army.’ Besides his books, he wrote many contributions to medical journals and transactions, and in 1885 the ‘Colloquial Linguistic Faculty and its Physiological Groundwork,’ of which a second edition appeared in 1886. He was learned in acoustics, had a taste for music, and published in 1881 a short treatise on ‘Dramatic Singing.’

[Obituary notice by Sir John Russell Reynolds in Lancet for 31 Dec. 1892 (separately issued in 1893); Sir Andrew Clark's biographical notice in Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, vol. lxxvi.; Works.]

N. M.