Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/295

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PEIRCE


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PEIRCE


professor of the Massachusetts professor- ship of natural history at Camliridge. The Board of Visitors wished him to visit the scientific establishments of Europe, so he spent three years abroad, visiting men of science in England and France, Ijut his longest stay was in Sweden. During his absence he coUecteil a valualile library of books connected with his own subjects, together with many exquisite preservations of natural subjects and rare specimens of art, many of which were presented to him by the scholars and men of science in Europe.

Mr. Peck inherited his father's taste for mechanical philosophy and as an artist he was incomparable. His most delicate instruments in all his pursuits were the products of his own skill and handicraft. He was a good classical scholar and a lover and a correct judge of the fine arts, fond of painting and sculpture and archi- tecture, without professing to skill in them. No man who ever saw the exquisite accuracy and fidelity with which he sketched the subjects of his peculiar pursuits in entomology or botany, could doulit the refinement of his taste.

Peck was an incorj>orator of the Ameri- can Antiquarian Society in 1812, and one of its first vice-presidents. He was also a warden of C'lirist Church, Cambridge, from 1816-1819. He died at Cambridge, October 3, 1822, from a thirtl attack of hemiplegia.

Collections of the Mass. Historical Socielj-. vol. X, second series, 18-43. Memoir, by Dudley Atkins Tyng.

Peirce, David (1740-1803).

The simple facts of the life of this old- time country practitioner are that he was born in Newburj^, Massachusetts, in 1740, settled at Spruce Creek, in Kittery, Maine, about 1760, and practised there until his death in 1803. He wrote no medical papers for there was no magazine in those days in which to print them. He was an ordinary country doctor of an age forgot- ten and of which few traces remain. He is nevertheless worthy of being mentioned


in every historical work on "American Medicine," because in his three large account books, still extant, we can trace his medical career day by day for nearly forty years in a manner almost unifiue in the annals of medicine.

Arriving in Kittery about 1760, he studied medicine, possibly with Dr. Sargent, of New Castle, or with some of the Portsmouth practitioners, com- pounded and sold drugs, practised medi- cine and did minor surgery extensively. He opened a country store and sold merchandise of every sort, acted as legal adviser to many patients, was town physician, town agent during the Revo- lution, and at one time postmaster.

Turning now to his books it isanagree- al)le task to sift from its thousand enter- taining facts a few that shall bring before us the work of one of our early American physicians.

Dr. Peirce was chiefly a physician. It is doubtful if he ever performed any capital operations. On one occasion he consulted with Dr. Hall Jackson and Dr. Ammi Ruhamah Cutter, both of Ports- mouth, in a case of compound comminuted fracture. He was present and assisted at the operation performed as he quaintly informs us by "The Gentlemen of the Faculty."

He saw many dislocations of the axilla and shoulder, opened abscesses of the breast, stimulated chronic ulcers of the leg, scraped necrosed bones, and did much minor surgery in a careful way. He once charged a patient " For making a large hole in your leg," thirteen shillings. He operated successfully on an axillary abscess. One old scrap of paper gives the names of fourteen patients whom he visited in one day, a good record for a country doctor considering the miles l^etween their homes, and the bad roads to travel. He inoculated patients for the small-pox and "carried them tlirough," as was the phrase, for eight shillings.

He had an excellent reputation as an obstetrician. His usual charge for such cases was one pound and four shillings