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of your capacity for the practice of Apollos art, and shall be answerable for the success, Believe me, &c.
The letters from Dr Buchan to Mr SmelLIE, so far as we have hitherto reached, have continued very much on general topics. In the subsequent portion, however, of this correspondence, we find another and nearer interest arising in the Doctors mind, and for the advancement of which he more eagerly urged the young philosophical corrector to abandon the setting up of types and correction of foul proofs for the regular study of medicine. Whatever may have been the motive, it certainly succeeded in making Mr SMELLIE an excellent scholar on all the topics connected with the healing art, and even with the theory of medicine. It induced him to give a marked attention to the study of natural history in all its branches, to which he became ever afterwards much devoted, qualifying him for the excellent translation of Buffon, which he afterwards executed, and for the composition of those lectures which he proposed to have read,
and a considerable portion of which were actually published, upon the Philosophy of Natural History ; and it enabled him to become afterwards essentially useful to the Doctor, in aiding him in the composition and publication of his Domestic Medicine.
Mr WILLIAM SMELLIE to Dr BUCHAN.
1762. I am greatly indebted to you for communicating the curious cases contained in your letter, and more so for the obliging invitation of coming to stay with you.
Ever since I enjoyed the pleasure of your acquaintance, I have had the strongest proofs of
your friendship; and I find that neither absence nor difference of situation have in the smallest degree impaired the goodness or generosity of your heart.
heart. Would that I were able to make you some other return, than barely that of gratitude. It is altogether impracticable, I am afraid, to comply with your intentions at present; and I wish
I did not see several obstacles which make me entertain doubts of the success of such a scheme in any future period. I doubt nothing either with regard to your care or capacity to instruct me. But, supposing even I were arrived at the degree of a tolerable surgeon ; yet, when I consider my situation in life, together with the disposition and temper of my mind, it comes to be a question with me, whether or not I could benefit myself by it. I am equally destitute of money and impudence ; two great sources of wealth and reputation. Any booby with a little brass in his face and a doctoreal peruke, &c. would cut a much better figure either in town or country than your most humble servant. However, we shall try to canvass this subject more fully when you come to Edinburgh.
In one of his lectures some days ago, Dr Cullen said that coralines, spunges, &c. which were formerly supposed to be vegetable substances, were now considered as entirely the production of gregarious animals; and away he ran, without saying a syllable more on the subject. The devil twist your Doctorships nose about, thinks I, for I had much
rather that you had not mentioned it at all. Now the things I want are the quomodos? how ? what ? and so forth. I would be glad to have a solution of this knotty point.
any opportunity of being served with the London Chronicle, I would recommend it to you as the only newspaper in Britain that is worth the paying for. If you cannot get it with ease, I imagine the Edinburgh Journal, which is a weekly paper,
and contains the substance of the news for the week, will be the most proper for your purpose. Advise me with regard to this in
your next. I had the satisfaction of seeing Mrs BUCHAN last night in very good health. Yours, &c.
Dr WILLIAM BUCHAN to Mr WILLIAM
I Had your letter some time ago without date *, so can't tell whether it came in due
* In this letter the Doctor complains of the want of date; yet the original of this very letter, now in the hands of Mr Alexan, DER SMELLIE, has no date either of time or place. From its
course or not : but you must excuse me if I should tell you that your truly whimsical notion of modesty seems to me quite romantic. I never thought you impudent ; but am perfectly sure you never will be a loser by your modesty in the medical profession, as I don't think you possessed of that quality to a fault, and a man never loses by the appearance of it. If
you have no other objection to the medical profession but your
innate modesty, I desire you never to think of that more, as I shall be answerable for your success if that proves the only impediment; and I think I have gone pretty far to. remove any other objection which you can possibly start. Impudence may introduce a man, but real merit must secure his success in the practice of medicine; and this, if I mistake not, is the case all over the world. The qualifications which you seem to wish so much to be possessed of, might, I own, do very well to fit a man for the stage as a quack; but can never be supposed necessary for a regular physician, unless you suppose
subject, it must have been written about 1762, at the time when Mr Smellie was led by the advice of some of his friends to the idea of studying medicine, with a view to a change of profession. The Doctor was then in business as a physician at Sheffield,