Morin, Lewis

, a French physician and botanist, of singular character, was born at Mans, July 11, 1635, of parents eminent for their piety, who, although he was one of a numerous family of sixteen children, omitted nothing in his education which their fortune could supply. Botany | was the study that appeared to have taken possession of his inclinations, as soon as the bent of his genius could be discovered. A country person who supplied the apothecaries of the place, was his first master, and was paid by him for his instructions with the little money that he could procure, but he soon made himself master of all this man knew, and was obliged to enlarge his acquaintance with plants, by observing them himself in the neighbourhood of Mans. Having finished his grammatical studies, he travelled on foot to Paris, and after going through the usual course of philosophy, was determined, by his love of botany, to the profession of physic. From this time he engaged in a course of life, which was never exceeded either by the ostentation of*a philosopher, or the severity t)f an anchoret, for he confined himself to bread and water, and at most allowed himself no indulgence beyond fruits. This regimen, extraordinary as it was, had many advantages it preserved his health it gave him an authority to preach diet and abstinence to his patients and it made him rich without the assistance of fortune.

In 1662 he was admitted doctor of physic. About that time Drs. Fagon, Longuet, and Galois, all eminent for their skill in botany, were employed in drawing up a catalogue of the plants in the royal garden, which was published in 1665, under the name of Dr. Vallot, then first physician. During the prosecution of this work, Dr. Morin was often consulted, and from these conversations it was that Dr. Fagon conceived a particular esteem, which he always continued to retain, for him. After having practised some years, he was admitted expectant, and afterwards pensionary physician at the Hotel Dieu but this advancement added nothing to his condition, except the power of more extensive charity for all the money which he received as a salary, he put into the chest of the hospital, and always, as he imagined, without being observed. His reputation rose so high at Paris, that mademoiselle de Guise was desirous to make him her physician, but it was not without difficulty that he was prevailed upon by his friend, Dr. Dodart, to accept the place.

By this new advancement he was laid under the necessity of keeping a chariot, an equipage very unsuitable to lis temper; but while he complied with those exterior appearances which the public demanded, he‘ remitted nothing of his former austerity in his private life. In two years aad | a half the princess fell sick, and was despaired of by Morin, who was a great master of prognostics. At the time when she thought herself in no danger, he pronounced her death inevitable; a declaration which was made more easy to him than to any other by his piety and artless simplicity. The princess, affected by his zeal, taking a ring from her finger, gave it him as the ’last pledge of her affection, and rewarded him still more to his satisfaction, by preparing for death with true Christian piety. She left him also by will a yearly pension of 2000 livres. On the princess’s death he laid down his chariot, and retired to St. Victor, without a servant, having, however, augmented his daily allowance with a little rice boiled in water.

In 1699, on the restoration of the academy, Dodart procured him to be nominated associate botanist. He wa constant at the assemblies of the academy, notwithstanding the distance of places, while he had strength enough to support the journey but his regimen was not equally effectual to produce vigour as to prevent distempers and being sixty-four years of age at his admission, he could not continue his assiduity more than a year after the death of Dodart, whom he succeeded as pensionary member of the academy in 1707. When Tournefort went to pursue his botanical inquiries in the Levant, he desired Dr. Morin to supply his place of demonstrator of the plants in the royal garden, and rewarded him for the trouble by inscribing to him a new plant which he brought from the East, by the name of Morina orientalis.

Dr. Morin advancing far in age, was now forced to take a servant, and, what was yet a more essential alteration, prevailed upon himself to take an ounce of wine a-day, which he measured with the same exactness as a medicine bordering upon poison. He quitted at the same time all his practice in the city, and confined it to the poor of his neighbourhood, and his visits at the Hotel Dieu; but his weakness increasing, he was forced to increase his quantity of wine, which yet he always continued to adjust by weight. At the age of seventy-eight he scarcely left his bed, but his intellects continued unimpaired, except in the last six months of his life. He died March 1, 1714, aged eighty, without any distemper, having enjoyed, by the benefit of his regimen, a long and healthy life, and a gentle and easy death.

This extraordinary regimen was but part of the daily | regulation of his life, of which all the offices were carried on with the utmost regularity and exactness. He went to bed at seven, and rose at two, throughout the year. He spent in the morning three hours at his devotions, and went to the Hotel Dieu in the summer between five and six, and in the winter between six and seven, hearing mass for the most part at Notre Dame. After his return he read the holy scripture, dined at eleven, and when it was fair weather walked till two in the royal garden, where he examined the new plants, and gratified his earliest and strongest passion. For the remaining part of the day, if he had no poor to visit, he shut himself up, and read books of literature, or physic. This likewise was the time he received visits, if any were paid him, but with respect 'to visits, he often said, “Those that come to see me do me honour; and those that stay away do me a favour.” He left behind him no other property than a library, valued at nearly 20,000 crowns, a herbal, and a collection of medals. He published two papers in the Memoirs of the Academy; one, containing an hypothesis respecting the passage of the drink to the bladder, which shows him a very indifferent physiologist; and the other, a “Memoire sur les Eaux de Forges.” Among his papers were a very minute index, to Hippocrates, Greek and Latin; and a meteorological journal of more than forty years. The method of this is commodious and concise, and it exhibits, in a little room, a great train of curious observations, which would have escaped a man less uniform in his life. 1

1 From his eloge by Fontenelle, one of those selected and translated by Dr. Johnson for the —Gent. Mag, of 1741. —Eloy, —Dict. Hist. de Medicine.