Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/335

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DR. ARCHIBALD PITCAIRNE.


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ber of a highly respectable family in East Lothian. Dr Pitcairne received the earlier part of his education at Dalkeith, He was afterwards removed to the university of Edinburgh, where he made great progress in classical learning, and completed a regular course of philosophy. His subsequent education ranged over the extensive field of the three professions pre-eminently styled learned. At the request of his friends, who were desirous that he should devote himself to the church, he first entered on the study of theology, but finding neither this study, nor the profession to which it led, at all suitable to his temper, disposition, or habits, he abandoned it, and turned his attention to law.

To this pursuit, which he found more congenial than the other, and in which he became fired with an ambition to excel, he devoted himself with an ardour and intensity of application, that induced symptoms of approaching consump- tion. To arrest the progress of this malady, he was advised by his physicians to repair to the south of France for the benefit of the milder climate of that country. By the time, however, that Mr Pitcairne reached Paris he found him- self so much better, that he determined on remaining in that city, and resum- ing his legal studies there ; but having formed an acquaintance, while in the French capital, with some agreeable young men from Scotland, who were en- gaged in the study of medicine, he was prevailed upon by them to abandon the law, and to join in their pursuits. To these he applied accordingly for several months, when he was recalled to Edinburgh by his father. This was now the third profession which he had begun, and the indecision of his conduct with regard to a permanent choice, naturally gave much uneasiness to his friends, but this was allayed by his finally declaring for physic, and applying himself with extraordinary diligence to the study of botany, pharmacy, and materia medica. He afterwards went a second time to Paris to complete his studies, and on that occasion acquired an entire and profound knowledge of medicine. Thus prepared he returned to his native city, where he practised with singular success till the year 1692, when his great reputation, which was now diffused throughout Europe, and which had been not a little increased by his able treatise regarding Hervey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, entitled, " Solutio problemati de inventoribus," procured him an invitation from Leyden to accept of the professorship of physic in the celebrated university of that city, and so sensible were those who had the nomination of this appointment, of the merits of Dr Pitcairne, and of the value of his services, that the invitation was accompanied by the offer of a much larger salary than had been usually at- tached to the office. Dr Pitcairne accepted the invitation, but remained in Leyden only twelvemonths. At the end of that period he came over to Edin- burgh to marry a daughter of Sir Archibald Stevenson, an eminent physician in the latter city, to whom he had been betrothed before leaving Scotland, and whom it was his intention to carry along with him to Leyden ; but the lady's friends objected to her going abroad, and Dr Pitcairne so far yielded to these objections, as to resign his professorship, and reconcile himself to the resump- tion of his practice as a physician in his native city. Nor had he any reason to regret the change thus in a manner forced upon him, for he soon found him- self in possession of a most extensive and lucrative business. During the short time he was at Leyden, Dr Pitcairne chose the texts of his medical lectures from the writings of Bellini, who, in return for this flattering compliment, dedicated to the doctor his " Opuscula."

Dr Pitcairne's reputation for skill in his profession now daily increased. He was consulted by patients in distant parts of Scotland, and frequently from England and Wales, and was altogether looked upon as the most eminent phy- sician of his time. Nor was his fame as a scholar behind that which he enjoy-