Huxham, John

, was a physician of considerable reputation, who practised his profession at Plymouth, where he died in 1768. It is remarkable that no biographical memoirs of this able and learned practitioner are extant. Mr. Polwhele informs us only that he was the sou of a butcher at Halberton. Yet he possessed an innate genius and a strong propensity for medical acquisitions. By these he was led to the university of Leyden, where he pursued his studies with indefatigable application, and took his doctor’s degree in medicine. At length, settling at Plymouth, by a successful course of practice he acquired a considerable fortune, and by several admirable publications gained universal fame. His “Treatise on Fevers” Mr. Polwhele notices, as the most eminent, and as it leads to the subsequent anecdote. “The queen of Portugal being ill of a fever, and being reduced to the last extremity, notwithstanding the efforts of the physicians of the country; his majesty, hearing of the eminence of a physician of the English factory at Lisbon, sent for him, and giving him the particulars of the queen’s disorder, inquired whether it was in his power to administer any assistance. The physician replied that he was not without hope, but that hecould do nothing unless her majesty was left to his sole care and direction. This being granted, the disorder soon took a turn, and in a short time the queen was restored to perfect health. The doctor being complimented by the king on his abilities and success, said he had ne claim but to the application; for that the merit was due to Dr. Huxham, an eminent physician at Plymouth, whose tract on the management of fevers he had implicitly followed. Upon which, the king immediately procured the treatise, had it translated into the Portuguese language, printed it in | handsome 4to, and sent it richly bound to Dr. Huxham, as an acknowledgment of the sense he entertained of his abilities, and of his debt of gratitude on the recovery of the queen.

Dr. Huxham‘ s writings display a most intimate acquaintance with the writings of the ancients, and a great veneration for those of Hippocrates in particular; and he quotes the ancient languages, and writes the Latin, with great fluency and familiarity. He appears to have spent his life ;at Plymouth in the active exercise of his profession for he kept a register of the state of health and reigning diseases at that place, together with an account of the variety of the seasons, for nearly thirty years, (namely, from 1724 to 1752 inclusive); which were published in Latin, under the title of“Gbservationes de Acre et Morbis Epidemicis,” tc. in 3 vols. 8vo. The first of these volumes commences with an account of the year 1728 but in the dedication to sir Hans Sloane, he refers to an account of the constitution and diseases of the seasons from 1724 to 1727, already published. The third volume was edited in 1770, after the death of the author, by his son J. Cor. Huxham, A. M. F. R. S.; who, it is to be regretted, did not insert any memoirs of his father’s life.

Dr. Huxham was at an early period elected a member of the royal society, and communicated several papers on the subjects of pathology and morbid anatomy, which were published in the Philosophical Transactions. But the work upon which his reputation principally rests, is his “Essay on Fevers,” published about 1739, of which a fifth edition appeared the year before his death, containing also “A Dissertation on the Malignant, Ulcerous Sore Throat.” His accuracy and acuteness, as an observer of the phenomena of disease, were particularly exemplified in his discriminative history of the “Slow Nervous Fever,’ to which his name is often aunexed when this fever is mentioned by succeeding authors. His theory was the ancient humoral pathology, which much influenced his practice; but that was the general fault of the age. He was the author of some” Observations on Antimony," 1756, 4to; and was elected a fellow of the royal college of physicians at Edinburgh. He has given few prescriptions in his works; for he observes, with Hippocrates, that the physician who knows a disease, cannot be at a loss in respect to the form of his remedy; but, having mentioned a | favourite formula for the preparation of a tincture of the Peruvian bark, in his Essay on Fevers, in which the bitter is corrected by aromatics, his name has become attached to the tincture of bark which is commonly prepared in the shops according to his prescription, and is also adopted in the Pharmacopoeia of the college of physicians. 1

1 Pidwbele’s History of Devonshire, vol. I. p. 326. Rees’s Cyclopædia.