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DR. MICHAEL FOSTER, M.D., F.R.S. A LAY contemporary, of facetious turn, and a talent for caricature, has hit upon the somewhat novel idea of giving portraits without faces. An incomplete portrait of a prominent person is given; the space upon which the face should be depicted is left a blank, and it is remarkable how readily a well-known individual, thus caricatured, can be identified. Caricature is quite outside the operation of our functions. We do not cater for a section of the community willing to pay their money for being amused, nor do we in this, this month, take a leaf out of the book of our lay contemporary, though in the one particular of novelty a point of resemblance tetween us may be discerned. We are about to leave the high road of our biographical career and wend our way for a short while along a byepath, an interesting path, the beauties of which, we think, should not be missed, and we regard this, our first number in the third year of our existence, as a particularly appropriate one to take brief survey of this leafy pathway--we say leafy, because the fruits of our labours grow abundantly on the high road of our progress. About these fruits a word or two further on.

Fully alive to the fact that his life-work gives him a strong title to tributes of honour far greater than it is in our power to bestow, we particularly wished, in this issue, to give our readers a portrait and memoir of Dr. Michael Foster; and accordingly we took certain steps with the object of gaining his consent to our projects in this direction. We secured his passive

consent for the publication of his portrait, but his extreme modesty operated as a preventive to our being similarly successful with regard to his biography.

Facts are said to be stubborn things. Let us add, facts cannot be invented. In all memoirs it is highly important to narrate simple facts. The narration may be enveloped in remark and comment, but, after all, fact is the kernel of the narrative. It is a fact that some sort of influence induced Michael Foster to become an attaché of the medical profession. It is a fact that certain branches of the profession may have been more attractive to him than others. To

go

back further, it is a fact that Michael Foster was born. It is a fact that he was born at a particular place, in a particular year, and there are a host of other facts which form interesting features in the construction of his biography. Seeing that it is impossible for us to invent facts of the sort just mentioned, it becomes a necessity for us to ask to be supplied with some data upon which to write.

We must have a foundation before we can begin to build. If, having got the foundation, we rear upon it a superstructure of fulsome laudation and puff, we at once nauseate our subscribers, offend their good taste, and pull our edifice with crushing effect about

Our fate would be annihilation. Now have we puffed ? What is our fate; or rather sayHow look our prospects? Bright. This monosyllable is our reply. Reflective minds will perceive in this one word a full and complete answer to both the foregoing questions.

Michael Foster was born at Huntingdon about the year 1834, in which town his father practised for many

our own ears.

years, and it may be that early associations with the medical profession led the subject of our present portrait to choose it for himself. He was educated first at University College School, and afterwards at University College, where he graduated B.A. ; three years subsequently he took his M.R.C.S., and in the following year became M.B. of London, and in 1859 M.D. of London.

For some years he held the Professorship of Practical Physiology at University College and the Fullerian Professorship of Physiology to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and about the year 1871 he was appointed Prælector of Physiology in Trinity College, Cambridge, and in June, 1883 was appointed Professor of Physiology in the University, he having for some years performed the duties of this office without the title.

He is M.A. Cantab. ; Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Fellow of University College, London ; Fellow of the Chemical Society, and Fellow of the Royal Society. He was for some time Editor of the “Journal of Physiology." He is at present one of the Secretaries of the Royal Society, and Professor of Physiology at the University of Cambridge.

The following is the text of the speech which Mr. J. E. Sandys, the Public Orator, delivered on the 8th of November, 1883, when presenting Professor Foster in the Senate House at Cambridge for the degree of M.A., and we reproduce it as showing the esteem in which he is held by those amongst whom he works :

“Dignissime domine, domine Procancellarie et tota Academia : in hoc ipso loco, duodecim abhinc annos, unum e Collegii maximi Praelectoribus auspiciis optimis titulo vestro honorifico exornastis. Hodie eundem, tot annorum usu et experientia spectatum probatamque, et Academiae totius Professoribus merito adscriptum, senatus nostri in ordinem honoris causa adsciscimus. Quantum interim, hujus praesertim laboribus, inter alumnos nostros creverit vigueritque physiologiae studium, vosmet ipsi omnes animo grato recordamini. Ut animantium in corporibus ex ipso corde, velut e fonte quodam, salutares illi sanguinis rivi per membra omnia fluunt refluuntque ; non aliter corporis Academici in partes quam plurimas ex hoc fonte scientiae flumina effluxisse atque inde rursus redundasse dixerim. Tali e fonte quot alumnis vires novae redditae sunt : quotiens ex alumnis rivuli fontem ipsum denuo auxerunt ! E discipulis vero tam multis cum magistro tanto feliciter consociatis, plurimos adhuc superesse, nonnullos etiam adesse hodie gaudemus ; unum illum non sine lacrimis desideramus qui, nascentis vitae primordiis hujus auxilio sagacissime investigatis, nuper inter Alpium culmina, in ipso aetatis flore, morte immatura e nobis est abreptus. Talium filiorum progenies Matri Almae indies nova succrescat : magistrorum talium accessionibus et Professorum et Senatorum ordo identidem nobis augeatur !

“ Vobis praesento Collegii Sacrosanctae Trinitatis socium, Physiologiae Professorem illustrem, Michaelem Foster.”

The “Text-book of Physiology,"

.” “Handbook of the Physiological Laboratory," and numerous contributions to the various scientific periodical publications, may be referred to as among the many emanations from his powerful pen. We regret that our limited space prohibits detailed mention and quotation.

The first mentioned of these—his well-known “Textbook of Physiology”-is too familiar to our readers for us to do more than refer to it as a chef d'auvre of masterly thought, conveyed in the most lucid and elegant language.

Excepting the items of information relating to his nativity, we have told our readers nothing more of Professor Michael Foster's professional career than is common property already,---nothing more than they can gather from the Medical Directory for the current year. We regret that diffidence induced a man so eminent and so universally esteemed, whose energetic efforts, high intellectual attainments, unsurpassed power of observation and untiring endeavour as an explorer of the interesting realm of science fit him so well for the position he now occupies, to withhold from us information of a kind which he alone could give. We mean, information as to the early influences which prevailed upon him in the choice of a calling, his hopes and his fears, his faintings by the wayside, and what stimulated him to renewed exertion.

Attainments such as his tell a tale of arduous labour, of persistent zeal, of unflagging energy, of indomitable courage, and of untiring perseverance. Might not some information of the kind mentioned have proved beneficial, by way of encouragement, to many young wayfarers just started on their life's journey, and its record-useful to many others yet unborn ?

Because Professor Brag-away eulogises his performances and vaunts his nostrums with emetic effect, ought that to be regarded as a valid reason why men who form the vanguard of an honourable and noble profession should go to the opposite extreme and remain dumb? Is it necessary that such should be the existing state of things ? Are readers to be thought destitute of discrimination, or can they not be left to distinguish for themselves the difference between the ring of the sterling metal and the dull thud of the counterfeit ? Should the flatulent twaddle of those who carp and cavil at what they call the principle of contemporary biography be taken at a valuation to which it has no claim-a spurious valuation ? Are

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not these twaddlers vastly in the minority ? History answers yes! Have they ever brought forward a single fragment of aught in the shape of an argument in support of their peculiar views? Never! The 've dogmatised-dogmatised after a fashion which in effect amounts to this announcement :

“We (the twaddlers), being the choice production of creative wisdom, our title to be considered such consisting in the fact that the Creator has endowed us with attributes which he has denied to you, the ignorant and foolish majority, launch at you our anathema. We pass a vote of censure upon every man biographed before his time,—that is to say, every man who has not first gained the only qualification which we recognise. Gain your title by 'putting off this mortal, and then should your biographer happen to see in 'Homer more than Hömer knew,' you'll not be likely to rise from the grave to correct his inaccuracies, and a respect for the dead may prevent interference, so directed, on the part of the living. Thus may the 'Ear of Denmark be poisoned.'”

We have treated of two extremes. At one end of the rope is brazen effrontery, at the other end modesty run to seed. Where lies the golden mean? Is the erratic rush of a few mad bell-wethers to be the signal for a general following by the medical flock? No! Emphatically no. As well lay a prohibitive tax upon all useful articles of cutlery because some of them are occasionally employed by persons to illegally make their own quietus, as condemn contemporary biography because of its capability of being abused; or as well raze our bridges because they often prove a resistless temptation to persons of suicidal tendency.

It may not be altogether amiss here to remark that at the commencement of our career we had three or four refusals from some of those whose consent we solicited for a portrait and memoir to appear in our journal, and it may not be uninteresting to notice the bases of these refusals. Two of them refused on the ground that we were connected with trade. So we were, yet in that circumstance we saw nothing that ought reasonably to be allowed as a cause for refusal. Since then the trade connection has been severed, and one of the two has, in consequence of the severance, withdrawn his objection. As regards the others, one of them, whose portrait and memoir we feel assured would have given especial pleasure, declined, simply on account of an individual dislike to publicity. He

was particularly careful to impress us that he had no dislike to the principle, but that he, being of a retiring disposition, was by nature averse to any kind of prominence, and when by chance he used, as he thought, a word too strong to pass as an accurate expression of his feeling, he displayed much eagerness to prevent an erroneous conclusion on our part.

As to the fruits, before mentioned as growing abundantly on the high road of our progress, we must perforce curtail our remarks. Having already travelled beyond our prescribed limits, let us, therefore, for the present, content ourselves by stating that these consist in the great satisfaction we derive from the many evidences we have that our endeavours are appreciated ; our portrait gallery is an especially pleasing feature to the general professional body, many of whose surgeries and waiting-rooms are adorned by neatly framed portraits which originally appeared in our journal.

Frequently do we receive letters from practitioners in various parts of the country asking if we can spare a certain back number, because such number contained a portrait and memoir of one about whom the writer was eager to gain more information. Frequently do we receive letters suggesting names as being likely to be of special interest as subjects for our portrait and memoir department. All this is indeed gratifying to us, and we tender to the profession generally our sincere thanks for the uniform kindness, courtesy, and consideration extended to us.

In conclusion, it only remains for us heartily to wish that Michael Foster may continue for many years to come to grace the noble profession of which he is so brilliant and worthy a member.

Manganese has been found in large quantities near Batesville, Arkansas, U.S. It is the largest deposit known, being, it is said, a belt fifteen miles long by six miles broad, and is of the finest quality.

M. F. Van Assche has brought under the notice of the Académie des Sciences a remarkable “means of insulating the thermic radiations from the luminous and chemical radiations." He deposits on a slip of glass a drop of distilled and melted selenium. The drop is immediately covered with another piece of glass and compressed, keeping the slip on a metallic plate heated to 250° C., so as to spread out the selenium in a thin layer. This film reflects the chemical rays, the luminous vibrations are converted into electrical energy, whilst the heat rays alone traverse the plate.

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