1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sprengel, Kurt

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SPRENGEL, KURT (1766-1833), German botanist and physician, was born on the 3rd of August 1766 at Bodelkow in Pomerania. His uncle, Christian Konrad Sprengel (1750-1816), is remembered for his studies in the fertilization of flowers by insects—a subject in which he reached conclusions many years ahead of his time. His father, a clergyman, provided him with a thorough education of wide scope; and the boy at an early age distinguished himself as a linguist, not only in Latin and Greek, but also in Arabic. He appeared as an author at the age of fourteen, publishing a small work called Anleitung zur Botanik für Frauenzimmer in 1780. In 1784 he began to study theology and medicine at the university of Halle, but soon relinquished the former. He graduated in medicine in 1787. In 1789 he was appointed extraordinary professor of medicine in his alma mater, and in 1795 was promoted to be ordinary professor. He devoted much of his time to medical work and to investigations into the history of medicine; and he held a foremost rank as an original investigator both in medicine and botany. Among the more important of his many services to the latter science was the part he took in awakening and stimulating microscopic investigation into the anatomy of the tissues of the higher plants, though defective microscopic appliances rendered the conclusions arrived at by himself untrustworthy. He also made many improvements in the details of both the Linnaean and the “natural” systems of classification. He died of an apoplectic seizure at Halle on the 15th of March 1833.

Sprengel's more important works were: Beiträge zur Geschichte des Pulses (1787); Galens Fieberlehre (1788); Apologie des Hippokrates (1789); Versuch einer pragmatischen Geschichte der Arzneikunde (1792-1799); Handbuch der Pathologie (1795-1797); Institutiones medicae (6 vols., 1809-1816); Geschichte der Medicin (completed in 1820); Antiquitatum botanicarum specimen (1798); Historia rei herbariae (1807-1808); Anleitung zur Kenntniss der Gewächse (1802-1804; and again 1817-1818); Geschichte der Botanik (1817-1818); Von dem Bau und der Natur der Gewächse (1812); Flora halensis (1806-1815; and in 1832); Species umbelliferarum minus cognitae (1818); Neue Entdeckung im ganzen Umfang der Pflanzenkunde (1820-1822). He edited an edition of Linnaeus's Systema vegetabilium in 1824 and of the Genera plantarum in 1830. A list of his botanical papers from 1798 onwards will be found in the Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers.