Petrus Camper, F.R.S. (1722–1789)


    THE fifteenth volume of the Opuscula Selecta Neerlandicorum de Arte Medica, which has recently been published under the able editorship of Dr. B. W. T. Nuyens, of Amsterdam, contains the illustrated travel diaries in Dutch and English of the three visits to England mado by Petrus Camper, who was not only one of the most eminent Dutch medical men in the second half of the eighteenth century, but was also a botanist, zoologist, mineralogist, palæontologist and draughtsman of distinction. The first visit, in 1749, three years after his qualification, was chiefly undertaken for the purpose of attending the lectures of William Smellie, the father of British gynæcology, and of taking lessons in drawing at the Royal Academy. During his stay in Great Britain he made the acquaintance of many of the leading scientific men of the day, including Sir Hans Sloane, Sir Joseph Banks, F. W. Herschel, John and William Hunter, John Smeaton, Mead and Cheselden. Ho attended the meetings of the Royal Society, of which he was made a fellow in 1750, visited the hospitals and museums and showed the keenest interest in contemporary scientific novelties. He did not confine his attention to London, but visited Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Bristol and Birmingham, where he made the acquaintance of Withering and James Watt. In the next two visits which he paid in 1752, when he was professor at Franeker, and in 1785, a few years before his death, his energy and enthusiasm still appeared to be unabated, and his time was profitably spent in a congenial scientific atmosphere.

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    Petrus Camper, F.R.S. (1722–1789). Nature 144, 276 (1939).

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