Connor, Dr. Bernard

, a physician and learned writer, was descended of an ancient family in Ireland, and born in the county of Kerry about 1666. His family being of the popish religion, he was not educated regularly in the grammar-schools or university, but was assisted by private tutors, and when he grew up, applied himself to the study of physic. About 1686 he went to France, and resided for some time in the university of Montpelier; and from thence to Paris, where he distinguished himself in his profession, particularly in the branches of anatomy and chemistry. He professed himself desirous of travelling; and as there were two sons of the high chancellor of Poland | then on the point of returning to their own country, it was thought expedient that they should take that long journey under the care and inspection of Connor. He accordingly conducted them very safely to Venice, where, having an opportunity of curing the honourable William Legge, afterwards earl of Dartmouth, of a fever, he accompanied him to Padua; whence he went through Tyrol, Bavaria, and Austria, down the Danube, to Vienna; and after having made some stay at the court of the emperor Leopold, passed through Moravia and Silesia to Cracow, and thence in eight days to Warsaw. He was well received at the court of king John Sobieski, and was afterwards made his physician, a, very extraordinary preferment for a young man of only twenty-eight. But his reputation in the court of Poland was raised by the judgment he made of the duchess of Radzevil’s distemper, which the physicians of the court pronounced to be an ague, from which she might easily be recovered by the bark; and Connor insisted, that she had an abscess in her liver, and that her case was desperate. As this lady was the king’s only sister, his prediction made a great noise, more especially when it was justified by the event; for she not only died within a month, but, upon the opening of her body, the doctor’s opinion of her malady was fully verified. Great as Connor’s fame was in Poland, he did not propose to remain longer there than was requisite to finish his inquiries into the natural history, and other curiosities of that kingdom; and foreseeing the king’s decease, and that he had no prospects of advantage afterwards, he resolved to quit that country, and to return to England, for which a very advantageous opportunity occurred. The king had an only daughter, the princess Teresa Cunigunda, who hud espoused the Elector of Bavaria by proxy in August 1694. As she was to make a journey from Warsaw to Brussels, of near 1000 miles, and in the midst of winter, it was thought necessary that she should be attended by a physician. Connor procured himself to be nominated to that employment; and, after reaching Brussels, took leave of the princess, set out for Holland^ and thence to England, where he arrived in Feb. 1695.

He staid some short time at London, and then went to Oxford, where he read public lectures upon the animal ceconomy. In his travels through Italy, he had conversed with Malpighi, Bellini, Redi, and other celebrated persons, of whose abilities he availed himself; and he now explained | the new discoveries in anatomy, chemistry, and physic, in, so clear and judicious a manner, that his reputation was soon raised to a considerable height. It was increased by printing, during his residence at Oxford, some learned and accurate dissertations in Latin, under the following general title, “Dissertationes medico-physicee.” Many curious questions are discussed, and curious facts related, in these dissertations, which discover their author to have been a man of much thought and observation, as well as of great reading and general knowledge. He returned in the summer of 1695 to London, where he read lectures as he had done at Oxford; and became soon after a member of the Royal Society, and also of the college of physicians. In. 1696 he went to Cambridge, and read lectures there; and upon his return to London was honoured with a letter from the bishop of Pleskof, in which was contained the case of his old master the king of Poland. His advice was desired upon it; but before he could send it, the news came of that monarch’s death.

In 1697 he published his “Evangelium medici: sen medicina mystica de suspensis naturae legions, sive de miraculis, reliquisque Ev tut j2i?uoi memoratis, quse medicae indagini subjici possunt.” This little treatise, containing 16 sections only, was reprinted within the year, and procured the author a mixed reputation. Some admired his ingenuity, but his orthodoxy and religion were called in question by others, as he attempts in this work to account for the miracles of the Bible upon natural principles.

The Polish election, upon the death of Sobieski, having a strong influence upon the general system of affairs in Europe, and being a common topic of discourse at that time, induced many considerable persons to seek the acquaintance of Connor, that they might learn from him the state of that kingdom: which being little known, he was desired to publish what he knew of the Polish nation and country. In compliance with this request, he wrote “The History of Poland, in several letters,” &c. The two volumes, of which this work consists, were published separately: and the last evidently bears many marks of precipitation, but the information was new and interesting. Connor would probably have become eminent in his profession; but in the flower of his age, and just as he began to reap the fruits of his learning, study, and travels, he was attacked by a fever, which after a short illness carried him off, Oct. 1698, | when he was little more than 32 years of age. He had, us we observed hefore, been bred in the Romish religion; but had embraced that of the church of England upon his first coming over from Holland. It has nevertheless been a matter of doubt, in what communion he died; but from his funeral sermon preached by Dr. Hayley, rector of St. Giles’s in the Fields, where he was interred, it has been inferred that, according to every appearance, he died in the protestant profession. 1


Biog. Brit.