Lives of the fellows

James Douglas

b.1675 d.April 1742
MD Rheims FRS(1706) Hon FRCP(1721)

James Douglas, M.D. — This excellent anatomist was born in Scotland in 1675; but of his general or professional education little is known. He settled in London in the early part of the 18th century, and speedily attained to high reputation as an anatomist and obstetrician. He obtained his degree of doctor of medicine at the university of Rheims; and was admitted an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians 26th June, 1721. He had been admitted a fellow of the Royal Society, 4th December, 1706, and contributed many important papers to the "Philosophical Transactions" Cheselden, in the preface to his "Anatomy of the Human Body," acknowledges his obligations to our physician; and Haller, who visited him in London, speaks in praise of his works and anatomical preparations. Dr. Douglas was one of the first to demonstrate, from the anatomy of the parts, that the high operation for stone might be safely performed. He died at his house in Red Lion-square in April, 1742, and was buried at St. Andrews, Holborn, on the 9th. "Vir eruditus et solers," writes Haller, (1) "diligentissimus incisor, cujus benignum animum juvenis expertus, senex laudo." In addition to his reputation as an anatomist, and his practical skill as an accoucheur, he had the character of an accomplished botanist, and of a man of great literary information. Pope mentions him in the Dunciad thus:—
"To prove me, Goddess! Clear of all design,
Bid me with Pollio sup, as well as dine:
There all the learn’d shall at the labour stand
And Douglas lend his soft obstetric hand."

In his note to this passage, Pope describes Dr. Douglas as a physician of great learning and no less taste; above all, curious in what related to Horace, of whom he collected every edition, translation, and comment, to the number of several hundred volumes. Dr. Douglas was, perhaps, unduly sensitive, and was certainly, in some instances, a peevish and captious critic. The following is (I believe) a complete list of his published works:—
Myographiæ Comparatæ Specimen; or a Comparative Description of all the Muscles in a Man and in a Quadruped; added is an Account of the Muscles peculiar to a Woman. 8vo. Lond. 1707.

This work, "egregius labor, etsi juventutis opus,’ says Haller, was translated into Latin by J. F. Schrieber, and published at Leyden in 1729. A second edition of the original appeared at Edinburgh in 1750, and a third in 1763.
Bibliographiæ Anatomicæ Specimen, sive Catalogus omnium pene Auctorum qui ab Hippocrate ad Harveium, rem Anatomicam ex professo vel obiter scriptis illustrarunt, Opera singulorum et Inventa juxta temporum seriem complectens. 8vo. Lond. 1715.
The History of the Lateral Operation for the Stone. 4to. Lond. 1726. Reprinted in 1731, with an Appendix, containing Mr. Chesel-den’s present method.
An Advertisement occasioned by some passages in Sir R. Man-ningham’s Diary, lately published. 8vo. Lond. 1726.
A Description of the Peritoneum, and of the Membrana Cellularis, which is on its outside. 4to. Lond. 1730.
Lilium Sarniense; or a Description of the Guernsey Lily; to which is added the Botanical Dissection of the Coffee Berry. Folio. Lond. 1725.

William Munk

[(1) Bibliotheca Anatomica, vol. ii, p. 31]

(Volume II, page 77)

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