Pringle, Sir John

, baronet, president of the Royal Society, was born at Stichel-house, in the county of Roxburgh, North Britain, April 10, 1707. His father was sir John Pringle, of Stichel, bart. and his mother, whose name was Magdalen Eliott, was sister to sir Gilbert Eliott of Stobs, bart. Both the families from which he descended were very ancient and honourable in the south of Scotland, and were in great esteem for their attachment to the religion, and liberties of their country, and for their piety and virtue in private life. He was the youngest of several sons, three of whom, besides himself, arrived to years of maturity. His grammatical education be received at home, under a private tutor and after having made such a progress as qualified him for academical studies, he was removed to the university of St. Andrew’s, where he was put under the immediate care of Mr. Francis Pringle, professor of Greek in the college, and a near relation of his father. Having continued there some years, he went to Edinburgh in Oct. 1727, for the purpose of studying physic, that being the profession which he now determined to follow. At Edinburgh, however, he stayed only one year, the reason, of which was, that he was desirous of going to Leyden, at that time the most celebrated school of medicine in Europe. Boerhaave, who had brought that university into reputation, was considerably advanced in years, and Mr. Pringle was unwilling, by delay, to expose himself to the danger of losing the benefit of that great man’s lectures. For Boerhaave he had a high and just respect but it was not his disposition and character to become the implicit and systematic follower of any man, however able aod distinguished. While he studied at Leyden, be contracted an intimate friendship with Van Swieten, who afterwards became so famous at Vienna, both by his practice and writings. Van Swieten was not only Pringle’s acquaintance and fellow-student at the university, but also his physician when he happened to be seized there with a fit of sickness; yet on this occasion he did not owe his recovery to his friend’s advice; for Van Swieten having refused to give him the bark, another person prescribed it, and he was cured. When he had gone through his proper course of studies at Leyden, he was admitted, July 20, 1730, to his doctor of physic’s degree. His inaugural dissertation, “De marcore senili,” was printed. Upon quitting LeyIen, Dr. Pringle settled as a physician at Edinburgh, where | he gained the esteem of the magistrates of the city, and of the professors of the college, by his abilities and good conduct and, such was his known acquaintance with ethical subjects, that, March 28, 1734, he was appointed, by the magistrates and council of the city of Edinburgh, to be joint professor of pneumatics and moral philosophy with Mr. Scott, during that gentleman’s life, and sole professor after his decease and, in consequence of this appointment, Dr. Pringle was admitted, on the same day, a member of the university. In discharging the duties of this new employment, his text-book was “Puffendorff de Officio Hominis et Civis,” agreeably to the method he pursued through life, of making fact and experiment the basis of science. Dr. Pringle continued in the practice of physic at Edinburgh, and in performing the obligations of his professorship, till 1742, when he was appointed physician to the earl of Stair, who then commanded the British army. For this appointment he was chiefly indebted to his friend Dr. Stevenson, an eminent physician at Edinburgh, who had an intimate acquaintance with lord Stair. By the interest of this nobleman, Dr. Pringle was constituted, Aug. 24, 1742, physician to the military hospital in Flanders; and it was provided in the commission, that he should receive a salary of twenty shillings a-day, and be entitled to half-pay for life. He did not, on this occasion, resign his professorship of moral philosophy; the university permitted him to retain it, and Messrs. Muirhead and Cleghorn were allowed to teach in his absence, us long as he continued to request it. The exemplary attention which Dr. Pringle paid to his duty as an army physician is apparent from every page of his “Treatise on the Diseases of the Army.” One thing, however, deserves particularly to be mentioned, as it is highly probable that it was owing to his suggestion. It had hitherto been usual, for the security of the sick, when the enemy was near, to remove them a great way from the camp the consequence of which was, that many were lost before they came under the care of the physicians. The earl of Stair, being sensible of this evil, proposed to the duke de Noailles, when the army was encamped at Aschaffenburg, in 1743, that the hospitals on both sides should be considered as sanctuaries for the sick, and mutually protected. The French general, who was distinguished for his humanity, readily agreed to the pro posal, and took the first opportunity of shewing a proper | regard to his engagement. At the hattle of Dettingen, Dr. Pringle was in a coach with lord Carteret during the whole time of the engagement, and the situation they were placed in was dangerous. They had been taken unawares, and were kept betwixt the fire of the line in front, a French battery on the left, and a wood full of hussars on the right. The coach was occasionally shifted, to avoid being in the eye of the battery. Soon after this event, Dr. Pringle met with no small affliction in the retirement of his great friend, the earl of Stair, from the army. He offered to resign with his noble patron, but was not permitted. He, therefore, contented himself with testifying his respect and gratitude to his lordship, by accompanying him forty miles on his return to England; after which he took leave of him with the utmost regret.

But though Dr. Pringle was thus deprived of the immediate protection of a nobleman who knew and esteemed his worth, his conduct in the duties of his station procured him effectual support. He attended the army in Flanders, through the campaign of 1744, and so powerfully recommended himself to the duke of Cumberland, that, in the spring following, March 11, he had a commission from his royal highness, appointing him physician general to his majesty’s forces in the Low Countries, and parts beyond the seas; and on the next day he received a second commission from the duke, by which he was constituted physician to the royal hospitals in the same countries. On March 5, he resigned his professorship in consequence of these promotions. In 1745 he was with the army in Flanders, but was recalled from that country in the latter end of the year, to attend the forces which were to be sent against the rebels in Scotland. At this time he had the honour of being chosen F. R. S. Dr. Pringle, at the beginning of 1746, in his official capacity, accompanied the duke of Cumberland in his expedition against the rebels, and remained with the forces, after the battle of Culloden, till their return to England, in the middle of August. We do not find that he was in Flanders during any part of that year. In 1747 and 1748, he again attended the army abroad and in the autumn of 1748 he embarked with the forces for England, upon the conclusion of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. From that time he principally resided in London, where, from his known skill and experience, and the reputation he had acquired, he might reasonably | expect to succeed as a physician. In April 1749, Drt Pringle was appointed physician in ordinary to his royal highness the duke of Cumberland. In 1750 he published, in a letter to Dr. Mead, “Observations on the Gaol or Hospital Fever.” This work, which passed through two editions, and was occasioned by the gaol-distemper that broke out at that time in the city of London, was well received by the medical world, though he himself afterwards considered it as having been hastily written. After supplying some things that were omitted, and rectifying a few mistakes that were made in it, he included it in his grand work on the “Diseases of the Army,” where it constitutes the seventh chapter of the third part of that treatise. It was in the same year that Dr. Pringle began to communicate to the Royal Society his famous “Experiments upon Septic and Antiseptic substances, with remarks relating to their use in the theory of Medicine” These experiments, which comprehended several papers, were read at different meetings of the society the first in June, and the two next in the November following three more in the course of 1751 and the last in Feb. 1752. Only the three first numbers were printed in the “Philosophical Transactions,” as Dr. Pringle had subjoined the whole, by way of appendix, to his “Observations on the Diseases of the Army.” These experiments upon septic and antiseptic substances, which have accompanied every subsequent edition of the treatise just mentioned, procured for him the honour of sir Godfrey Copley’s gold medal. Besides this, they gained him a high and just reputation, as an experimental philosopher. In February 1753, he presented to the Royal Society “An Account of several Persons seized with the Gaol Fever by working in Newgate and of the manner by which the Infection was communicated to one entire family.” This is a very curious paper and was deemed of such importance by the excellent Dr. Stephen Hales, that he requested the author’s permission to have it published, for the common good of the kingdom, in the “Gentleman’s Magazine;” where it was accordingly printed, previous to its appearance in the Transactions. Dr. Pringle’s next communication was, “A remarkable Case of Fragility, Flexibility, and Dissolution of the Bones.” In the 49th volume of the “Transactions,” we meet with accounts which he had given of an earthquake felt at Brussels; of another at Glasgow and | Dunbarton and of the agitation of the waters, Nov. 1, 1756, in Scotland and at Hamburgh. The 50th volume contains, Observations by him on the case of lord Walpole, of Woolterton; and a relation of the virtues of Soap in dissolving the Stone, as experienced by the reverend Mr. Matthew Simson. The next volume is enriched with two of the doctor’s articles, of considerable length, as well as value. In the first, he has collected, digested, and related the different accounts that had been given of a very extraordinary fiery meteor, which appeared on Sunday the 26th of November, 1758, between eight and nine at night; and, in the second, he has made a variety of remarks upon the whole, in which no small degree of philosophical sagacity is displayed. It would be tedious to mention the various papers, which, both before and after he became president of the Royal Society, were transmitted through his hands. Besides his communications in the Philosophical Transactions, he wrote, in the Edinburgh Medical Essays, volume the fifth, an “Account of the success of the Vitrum ceratum Antimonii.

April 14, 1752, Dr. Pringle married Charlotte, the second daughter of Dr. Oliver, an eminent physician at Bath, and who had long been at the head of his profession in that city. This connection did not last long, the lady dying in the space of a few years. Nearly about the time of his marriage, Dr. Pringle gave to the public the first edition of his “Observations on the Diseases of the Army.” It was reprinted in the year following, with some additions. To the third edition, which was greatly improved from the further experience the author had gained by attending the camps, for three seasons, in England, an Appendix was annexed, in answer to some remarks that professor De Haen, of Vienna, and M. Gaber, of Turin, had made on the work. A similar attention was paid to the improvement of the treatise, in every subsequent edition. The work is divided into three parts; the first of which, being principally historical, may be read with pleasure by every gentleman. The latter parts lie more within the province of physicians, who are the best judges of the merit of the performance and to its merit the most decisive and ample testimonies have been given. It hath gone through seven editions at home and abroad it has been translated into the Fretich, German, and Italian languages. Scarcely any medical writer hath mentioned it without some tribute | of applause. Ludwig, in the second volume of his “Commentarii de Rebus in Scientia Naturali et Medicina gestis,” speaks of it highly; and gives an account of it, which comprehends sixteen pages. The celebrated and eminent baron Haller, in his “Bibliotheca Anatomica,” with a particular reference to the treatise we are speaking of, styles the author “Vir illustris de omnibus bonis artibus bene meritus.” It is allowed to be a classical book in the physical line; and has placed the writer of it in a rank with the famous Sydenham. Like Sydenham, too, he has become eminent, not by the quantity, but the value of his productions and has afforded a happy instance of the great and deserved fame which may sometimes arise from a single performance. The reputation that Dr. Pringle gained by his “Observations on the Diseases of the Army,” was not of a kind which is ever likely to diminish. The utility of it, however, was of still greater importance than its reputation. From the time that he was appointed a physician to the army, it seems to have been his grand object to lessen, as far as lay in his power, the calamities of war; nor was he without considerable success in his noble and benevolent design. By the instructions received from this book, the late general Melville, who united with his military abilities the spirit of philosophy, and the spirit of humanity, was enabled, when governor of the Neutral Islands, to be singularly useful. By taking care to have his men always lodged in large, open, and airy apartments, and by never letting his forces remain long enough in swampy places, to be injured by the noxious air of such places, the general was the happy instrument of saving the lives of seven hundred soldiers. In 1753, Dr. Pringle was chosen one of the council of the Royal Society. Though he had not for some years been called abroad, he still held his place of physician to the army and, in the war that began in 1755, attended the camps in England during three seasons. This enabled him, from further experience, to correct some of his former observations, and to give adc,Htional perfection to the third edition of his great work. In 1758, he entirely quitted the service of the army; and being now determined to fix wholly in London, he was admitted a licentiate of the college of physicians, July 5, in the same year. The reason why this matter was so long delayed might probably be, his not having hrtherto come to a final resolution with regard to his settlement in the | metropolis. After the accession of king George III. to the throne of Great Britain, Dr. Pringle was appointed, in 1761, physician to the queen’s household and this honour was succeeded, by his being constituted, in 1763, physician extraordinary to her majesty. In April in the same year, he had been chosen a member of the Academy of Sciences at Haarlem and, June following, he was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London. In the succeeding November, he was returned on the ballot, a second time, one of the council of the Royal Society; and, in 1764, on the decease of Dr. Wollaston, he was made physician in ordinary to the queen. In Feb. 1766, he was elected a foreign member, in the physical line, of the Royal Society of Sciences at Gottingen; and, on the 5th of June in that year, his majesty was graciously pleased to testify his sense of Dr. Pringle‘ s abilities and merit, by raising him to the dignity of a baronet of Great Britain. In July 1768, sir John Pringie was appointed physician in ordinary to her late royal highness the princess dowager of Wales to which office a salary was annexed of lOOl. a-year. In 1770, he was chosen, a third time, into the council of the Royal Society as he was, likewise, a fourth time, for 1772.

On Nov. 30, in that year, in consequence of the death of James West, esq. he was elected president of that illustrious and learned body. His election to this high station, though he had so respectable an opponent as the late sir James Porter, was carried by a very considerable majority. This was undoubtedly the highest honour that sir John Pringle ever received; an honour with which his other literary distinctions could not be compared. It was at a very auspicious time that sir John Pringle was called upon to preside over the Royal Society. A wonderful ardour for philosophical science, and for the advancement of natural knowledge, had of late years displayed itself through Europe, and had appeared with particular advantage in our own country. He endeavoured to cherish it by all the methods that were in his power; and he happily struck upon a new way to distinction and usefulness, by the discourses which were delivered by him on the annual assignment of sir Godfrey Copley’s medal. This gentleman had originally bequeathed five guineas, to be given at each anniversary meeting of the Royal Society, by the determination of the president and council, to the person who | had been the author of the best paper of experimental observations for the year past. In process of time, this pecuniary reward, which could never be an important consideration to a man of an enlarged and philosophical mind, however narrow his circumstances might be, was changed into the more liberal form of a gold medal; in which form it is become a truly honourable mark of distinction, and a just and laudable object of ambition. It was, no doubt, always usual with the president, on the delivery of the medal to pay some compliment to the gentleman on whom it was bestowed but the custom of making a set speech on the occasion, and of entering into the history of that part of philosophy to which the experiments related, was first introduced by Mr. Martin B’olkes. The discourses, however, which he and his successors delivered were very >hort, and were only inserted in the minute-books of the society. None of them had ever been printed before sir John Pringle was raised to the chair. The first speech that was made by him being much more elaborate and extended than usual, the publication of it was desired and with this request, it is said, he was the more ready to comply, as an absurd account of what he had delivered had appeared in a newspaper. Sir John Pringle was very happy in the subject of his primary discourse. The discoveries in magnetism and electricity had been succeeded by the inquiries into the various species of air. In these enquiries Dr. Priestley, who had already greatly distinguished himself by his electrical experiments, and his other philosophical pursuits and labours, took the principal lead. A paper of his, entitled “Observations on different kinds of Air,” having been read before the society in March 1772, was adjudged to be deserving of the gold medal; and sir John Pringle embraced with pleasure the occasion of celebrating the important communications of his friend, and of relating with accuracy and fidelity what had previously been discovered upon the subject. At the close of the speech, he earnestly requested Dr. Priestley to continue his liberal and valuable inquiries; and we have recently said how well he fulfilled this request. It was not, we believe, intended, when sir John Pringle’s first speech was printed, that the example should be followed but the second discourse was so well received by the Royal Society, that the publication of it was unanimously requested. Both the discourse itself, and the subject on | which it was delivered, merited such a distinction. The composition of the second speech is evidently superior to that of the former; sir John having probably being animated by the favourable reception of his first effort. His account of the torpedo, and of Mr. Walsh’s ingenious and admirable experiments relative to the electrical properties of that extraordinary fish, is singularly curious. The whole discourse abounds with ancient and modern learning, and exhibits sir John Pringle’s knowledge in natural history, as well as in medicine, to great advantage. The third time that he was called upon to display his abilities at the delivery of sir Godfrey’s medal, was on an eminently important occasion. This was no less than Mr. (the late Dr.) Maskelyne’s successful attempt completely to establish sir Isaac Newton’s system of the universe, by his “Observations made on the mountain Schehallien, for finding its at-; traction.” Sir John Pringle took advantage of this opportunity, to give a perspicuous and accurate relation of the several hypotheses of the ancients, with regard to the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, and of the noble discoveries with which Copernicus enriched the astronomical worldHe then traced the progress of the grand principle of gravitation down to sir Isaac’s illustrious confirmation of it to which he added a concise narrative of Messrs. Bouguer’s and Condamine’s experiment at Chimboraco, and of Mr. Maskelyne’s at Schehallien. If any doubts yet remained with respect to the truth of the Newtonian system, they were now totally removed. Sir John Pringle had reason to be peculiarly satisfied with the subject of his fourth discourse; that subject being perfectly congenial to his disposition and studies. His own life had been much employed in pointing out the means which tended not only to cure, but to prevent, the diseases of mankind and it is probable, from his intimate friendship with capt. Cook, that he might suggest to that sagacious commander some of the rules which he followed, in order to preserve the health of the crew of his majesty’s ship the Resolution, during her voyage round the world. Whether this was the case, or whether the method pursued by the captain to attain so salutary an end, was the result alone of his own. reflections, the success of it was astonishing and this famous voyager seemed well entitled to every honour which could be bestowed. To him the society assigned their gold medal, but he was not present to receive the honour. | He was gone out upon that voyage from which he never returned. In this last voyage he continued equally successful in maintaining the health of his men.

Sir John Pringle, in his next annual dissertation, had an opportunity of displaying his knowledge in a way in which it had not hitherto appeared. The discourse took its rise from, the prize medaPs being adjudged to Mr. Mudge an eminent surgeon at Plymouth, upon account of his valu* able paper, containing “Directions for making the best composition for the metals of Reflecting Telescopes, together with a description of the process for grinding, polishing, and giving the great speculum the true parabolic form.” Sir John has accurately related a variety of parti* culars, concerning the invention of reflecting telescopes, the subsequent improvements of these instruments, and the state in which Mr. Mudge found them, when he first set about working them to a greater perfection, till he had truly realized the expectation of sir Isaac Newton, who, above an hundred years ago, presaged that the public would one day possess a parabolic speculum, not accomplished by mathematical rules, but by mechanical devices. Sir John Pnngle’s sixth discourse, to which he was led by the assignment of the gold medal to Mr. (now Dr.) Hutton, on account of his curious paper, entitled “The Force of fired Gunpowder, and the initial Velocity of Cannon-balls, determined by experiments,” was the theory of gunnery. Though sir John had so long attended the army, this was probably a subject to which he had heretofore paid very little attention. We cannot, however, help admiring with what perspicuity and judgment he has stated the progress that was made, from time to time, in the knowledge of projectiles, and the scientific perfection to which his friend Mr. Hutton had carried this knowledge. Sir John Pringle was not one of those who delighted in war, and in the shedding of human blood; he was happy in being able to shew that even the study of artillery might be useful to mankind; and, therefore, this is a topic which he has not forgotten to mention. Here ended his discourses upon the delivery of sir Godfrey Copley’s medal. If he had continued to preside in the chair of the Royal Society, he would, no doubt, have found other occasions of displaying his acquaintance with the history of philosophy. But the opportunities which he had of signalizing himself in this respect were important in themselves, happily varied, and sufficient to gain him a solid and lasting reputation. | Several marks of literary distinction, as we have already seen, had been conferred upon sir John Pringle, before he was raised to the president’s chair; but after that event, they were bestowed upon him with great abundance and, not again to resume the subject, we shall here collect them together. Previously, however, to these honours (excepting his having been chosen a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London), he received the last promotion that was given him in his medical capacity, which was, his being appointed, Nov. 4, 1774, physician extraordinary to his majesty. In the year 1776 he was enrolled in the list of the members of no less than four learned bodies. These were, the Royal Academy of Sciences at Madrid the Society of Amsterdam, for the promotion of Agriculture the Royal Academy of Medical Correspondence at Paris and the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg. In July 1777, sir John Pringle was nominated, by his serene highness the landgrave of Hesse, an honorary member of the Society of Antiquaries at Cassel. In 1778 he succeeded the celebrated Linnæus, as one of the foreign members of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. This honour was then extended, by that illustrious body, only to eight persons, on which account it was justly esteemed a most eminent mark of distinction; and we believe there have been few or no instances wherein it has been conferred on any other than men of gceat and acknowledge/1 abilities and reputation. In October in the same year, our author was chosen a member of the Medical Society at Hanau. In the succeeding year, March 29, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres at Naples. The last testimony of respect which was, in this way, bestowed upon sir John Pringle, was his being admitted, in 1781, into the number of the fellows of the newly-erected Society of Antiquaries at Edinburgh, the particular design of which is to investigate the history and antiquities of Scotland.

It was at a late period of life, when sir John Pringle was in the sixty-sixth year of his age, that he was chosen to be president of the Royal Society. Considering, therefore, the extreme attention that was paid by him to the various and important duties of his office, and the great pains he took in the preparation of his discourses, it was natural to expect that the burden of his honourable station should grow heavy upon him in a course of time. This burden was | increased not only by the weight of years, but by the accfdent of a fall in the area in the back part of his house, from which he received considerable hurt, and which, in its consequences, affected his health and weakened his spirits. Such being the state of his body and mind, he began to entertain thoughts of resigning the president’s icbair. It has been said likewise, and believed, that he was much hurt by the disputes introduced into the society, concerning the question, whether pointed or blunted electrical conductors are the most efficacious in preserving buildings frcm the pernicious effects of lightning. Perhaps sir John Pringle’s declining years, and the general state of his health, will form sufficient reasons for his resignation. His intention, however, was disagreeable to many of his friends, and to many distinguished members of the Royal Society. Accordingly, they earnestly solicited him to continue in the chair; but, his resolution being fixed, he resigned it at the anniversary meeting in 1773. Joseph Banks, esq. (now sir Joseph Banks) was unanimously elected president in his room, a gentleman whose life, and the services he has rendered to science, will hereafter form an important article in biographical works. Though sir John Pringle quitted his particular relation to the Royal Society, and did not attend its meetings so constantly as he had formerly done, he still retained his literary connexions in general. His bouse continued to be the resort of ingenious and philosophical men, whether of his own country or from abroad and he was frequent in his visits to his friends. He was held in particular esteem by eminent and learned foreigners, none of whom came to England without waiting upon him, and paying him the greatest respect. He treated them, in return, with distinguished civility and regard. When a number of gentlemen met at his table, foreigners were usually a part of the company. Sir John Pringle’s infirmities increasing, he hoped that he might receive an advantage from an excursion to Scotland, and spending the summer there; which he did in 1780, principally at Edinburgh. He had probably then formed some design of fixing his residence in that city. However this may have been, he was so well pleased with a place to which he had been habituated in his younger days, and with the respect shewn him by his friends, that he purchased a house there, whither he intended to return in the following spring. When he came back to London, in the autumn of the year above | mentioned, he began to prepare for putting his scheme into execution. Accordingly, having first disposed of the greatest part of his library, he sold his house in Pall-mall, in April 1781, and some few days after removed to Edinburgh. In this city he was treated, by persons of all ranks, with every mark of distinction. But Edinburgh was not now to him what it had been in early life. The vivacity of spirits, which in the days of youth spreads such a charm on the objects that surround us, was, fled. Many, if not most, of sir John Pringle’s old friends and contemporaries, were dead; and though some of them remained, they could not meet together with the same strength of constitution, the same ardour of pursuit, the same animation of hope, which they had formerly possessed. Th younger men of eminence paid him the sincerest testimonies of esteem and regard; but it was too late in life for him to form new habits of close and intimate friendship. He found, likewise, the air of Edinburgh too sharp and cold for his frame, which had, long been peculiarly sensible to the severities of weather. These evils were exaggerated ;by his increasing infirmities, and perhaps by that restlessness of mind, which, in the midst of bodily complaints, is’ still hoping to derive some benefit from a change of place. He determined, therefore, to return once more to London, where he arrived in the beginning of September. Before sir John Pringle entirely quitted Edinburgh, he requested his friend, Dr. John Hope, to present ten volumes folio x of “Medical and Physical Observations,” in manuscript, to the Royal College of Physicians in that city. This benefaction was conferred on two conditions first, that the observations should not be published and secondly, that they should not be lent out of the library on any pretence whatever. A meeting of the college being summoned upon the occasion, sir John’s donation was accepted with, much gratitude, and a resolution passed to comply with the terms on which it was bestowed. He was, at the same time, preparing two other volumes to be given to the university, containing the formulas referred to in his annotations.

Sir John Pringle, upon his arrival at the metropolis, found his spirits somewhat revived. He was greatly pleased with revisiting his London friends, and he was received by them with equal cordiality and affection. His Sunday evening conversations were honoured with the attendance f many respectable men and, on the other nights of the | week, he had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with his friends, at a society that had long been established, and which had met, for some time past, at Mr. Watson’s, a grocer, in the Strand. Sir John’s connection with this society, and his constant attendance upon it, formed, to the last, one of his principal entertainments. The morning: was chiefly employed by him in receiving and returning the visits of his various acquaintance and he had frequently a small and select party to dine with him at his apartments in King-street, St. James’s-square. All this while his strength declined with a rapidity which did not permit his frierrds to hope that his life would long be continued. On Monday evening, Jan. 14, 1782, being with the society at Watson’s, he was seized with a fit, from which he never recovered. He was accompanied home by Dr. Saunders, for whom he had the highest regard; and in whom he had, in every respect, justly placed the most unreserved confidence. The doctor afterwards attended him with unwearied assiduity, but, to any medical purpose, entirely in vain for he died on the Friday following, being the 18th day of the month, in the seventy-fifth year of his age and the account of his death was every where received in a manner which shewed the high sense that was entertained of his merit. On the 7th of February he was interred in St. James’s church, with great funeral solemnity, and with a very honourable attendance of eminent and respectable friends. As a testimony of regard to his memory, at the first meeting of the College of Physicians at Edinburgh, after his decease, all the members appeared in deep mourning. ti.

Sir John Pringle, by long practice, had acquired a handsome fortune, which he disposed of with great prudence and propriety. The bulk of it, as might naturally and reasonably be expected, he bequeathed to his worthy nephew and heir, sir James Pringle, of Stichel, bart. whom he appointed his sole executor. But the whole was not immediately to go to sir James; for a sum equal, we believe, to seven hundred pounds a year, was appropriated to annuities, revertible to that gentleman at the decease of the annuitants. By these means, sir John exhibited an important proof of his regard and affection for several of his valuable relations and friends. Sir John Pringle’s eminent character as a practical physician, as well as a medical author, i sg well known, and so universally acknowledged. | that an enlargement upon it cannot be necessary. In the exercise of his profession he was not rapacious being ready, on various occasions, to give his advice without pecuniary views. The turn of sir John Pringle’s mind led him chiefly to the love of science, which he built on the firm basis of fact. With regard to philosophy in general, he was as averse to theory, unsupported by experiments, as he was with respect to medicine in particular. Lord Bacon was his favourite author; and to the method of investigating recommended by that great man he steadily adhered. Such being his intellectual character, it will not be thought surprising that he had a dislike to Plato. To metaphysical disquisitions he lost all regard in the latter part of his life; and, though some of his most valued friends had engaged in discussions of this kind, with very different views of things, he did not choose to revert to the studies of his youth, but contented himself with the opinions he had then formed.

Sir John Pringle had not much fondness for poetry. He had not even any distinguished relish for the immortal Shakspeare at least, he seemed too- highly sensible of the defects of that illustrious bard, to give him the proper degree of estimation. Sir John Pringle had not, in his youth, been neglectful of philological inquiries; and, after having omitted them for a time, he returned to them again; so far, at least, as to endeavour to obtain a more exact knowledge of the Greek language, probably with a view to a better understanding of the New Testament. He paid a great attention to the French language and it is said that he was fond of Voltaire’s critical writings. Among all his other pursuits, sir John Pringle never forgot the study of the English language. This he regarded as a matter of so much consequence, that he took uncommon pains with respect to the style of his compositions and it cannot be denied that he excels in perspicuity, correctness, and propriety of expression. Though he slighted poetry, he was very fond of music. He was even a performer on the violoncello, at a weekly concert given by a society of gentlemen at Edinburgh. Besides a close application to medical and philosophical science, sir John Pringle, during the latter part of his life, devoted much time to the study of divinity this was, with him, a very favourite and interesting object. He corresponded frequently with Mishaelis on theological subjects and that celebrated | professor addressed to him some letters on “Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks,” which sir John thought worthy of being published in this country. He was accordingly at considerable pains, and some expence, in the publication, which appeared in 1773,under the following title “Joannis Davidis Michaelis, Prof. Ordin. Philos. et oc. Reg. Scient. Goettingensis Collegae, Epistolae, de LXX flebdomadibus Danielis, ad D. Joannem Pringle, baronetturn: primo privatim miss, nunc vero utriusque consensus publice editae,” 8vo. Sir John Pringle was likewise a diligent and frequent reader of sermons, which form so valuable a part of English literature. If, from the intellectual, we pass on to the moral character of sir John Pringle, we shall find that the ruling feature of it was integrity. 3y this principle he was uniformly actuated in the whole of his behaviour. All his acquaintance with one voice agreed that there never was a man of greater integrity. He was equally distinguished for his sobriety. He told Mr. Boswell, that he had never in his life been intoxicated with liquor. In his friendships, sir John Pringle was ardent and steady. The intimacies which were formed by him, in the early part of his life, at Edinburgh, continued unbroken to the decease of the gentlemen with whom they were made; and were sustained by a regular correspondence, and by all the good offices that lay in his power. With relation to sir John Pringle' s external manner of deportment, he paid a very respectful attention to those whom he esteemed; but he had a kind of reserve in his behaviour, when he was not perfectly pleased with the persons who were introduced to him, or who happened to be in his company. His sense of integrity and dignity would not permit him to adopt that false and superficial politeness, which treats all men alike, however different in point of real estimation and merit. He was above assuming the professions, without the reality of respect. On the religious character of sir John Pringle it is more particularly important to enlarge. The principles of piety ajid virtue, which were early instilled into him by a strict education, do not appear ever to have lost their influence uppn the general conduct, of his life. Nevertheless, when he travelled abroad in the world, his belief of the Christian revelation was so far unsettled, that he became at least a sceptic on that subject. But it was not the disposition of sir John Priugle to rest satisfied in his doubts and | difficulties, with respect to a matter of such high importance. He was too great, a lover of truth, not to make religion the object of his serious inquiry. As he scorned to be an implicit believer, he was equally averse to the being an implicit unbeliever; which is the case of large numbers who reject Christianity with as little knowledge, and as little examination, as the most determined bigots embrace their systems. The result of this investigation was, a full conviction of the divine original and authority of the Gospel. The evidence of revelation appeared to him to be solid and invincible, and the nature of it to be siich as must demand the most grateful acceptance. Such having been the character and eminence of sirJohn Pringle, it was highly proper that a tribute to his merit should be placed in Westminster abbey. Accordingly, under the direction and at the expence of his nephew and heir, a monument with an English inscription was erected, of which Mr. Nollekens was the sculptor. 1


Life by Dr. Kippis, prefixed to sir John’s “Six Discourses,1783, 8vo.