FROM 1790 onwards, for a period of thirty-one years, James Gregory, M. D., occupied the chair of the practice of physic in Edinburgh, whence he conducted a ruthless assault upon disease by bloodletting, cold affusion, brisk purging, frequent blistering and vomiting with tartar emetic. In “Conspectus Medicinæ Theoreticæ” he summed up his aggressive philosophy and epitomized medical practice and the knowledge of therapeutics of the time. For decades this work remained a standard for its medical content and for the purity of its Latin. In 1773, his father, occupant of the chair before him, had died. Young James, a student of nineteen, leapt into the breach and completed his father's course of lectures with such success that a chair was kept open for him until he had appropriately qualified and reached an acceptable maturity at the age of twenty-three. His gargantuan vigour projected across a century and a half one of the most prescribed medicaments in the Pharmacopoeia, his “Gregory's Powder”, a mixture of rhubarb rhizome, ginger, and magnesium carbonate.
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About this article
William Gregory (1803?58): Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and enthusiast for Phrenology and Mesmerism
Journal of Medical Biography (2008)