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Sir John Eric Erichsen, Bart., F.R.S

Nature volume 54, page 548 | Download Citation



SIR JOHN ERICHSEN, who died after a short illness on September 23, was born in 1818. So vigorous was he until the last in mind and body, that few would have suspeetedthat this genial,kindly,and dignified gentleman had attained to the advanced age of seventy-eight. Essentially a practical surgeon, and devoted heart and soul to the advancement of surgery, he was a man of the widest sympathies, and in no way narrowed or restricted to a groove of professionalism. This may have been due in a measure to the early influence of Sharpey, who appears to have inspired the young surgeon with a keen interest in physiology, for we find his name in 1844 as Secretary to the Physiological Section of the British Association. He was also appointed about the same time to conduct an experimental investigation into the phenomena of asphyxia, which resulted in an important essay upon this subject, for which he received the Fothergillian medal of the Royal Humane Society. The claims of his profession soon, however, prevented Erichsen from further develop ment in the direction of physiological science, and required his entire attention to be devoted to surgery. For already in 1850 he was appointed as the successor of Liston, Syme and Arnott, to the chair of Surgery in University College, and subsequently to the chair of Clinical Surgery; and one of these posts he continued to occupy during a quarter of a century. This was a brilliant period for operative surgery, although its bril liancy has been completely eclipsed in the quarter of a century which has succeeded it by the development of the Listerian method. Sir Joseph Lister was himself at one time house surgeon to Erichsen, and is one only, although no doubt the most distinguished, of many eminent surgeons who have left and are leaving their mark upon the scientific progress of their profession, End who owe much for their training to Sharpey and Erichsen.

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