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fecuted with all the ardour of a philosopher, whofe industry was not to be wearied, and whofe love of truth was too strong to suffer him to acquiesce in the reports of others.
Yet did he not suffer one branch of science to withdraw his attention from others: anatomy did not withhold him from chemistry, nor chemistry, enchanting as it is, froin the study of botany, in which he was no dess skilled than in other parts of physick. He was not only a careful examiner of all the plants in the garden of the university, but made excursions for his further improvement into the woods and fields, and left no place unvifited where any increase of botanical knowledge could be reasonably hoped for.
In conjunction with all these enquiries he still persued his theological studies, and still, as we are informed by himself, “ proposed when he had made him* self master of the whole art of physick, and obtained " the honour of a degree in that science, to petition - regularly for a licence to preach, and to engage in “ the cure of souls,” and intended in his theological exercise to discuss this question, “ why so many were
formerly converted to Christianity by illiterate per“ fons, and so few at present by men of learning.”
In pursuance of this plan, he went to Hardewich, in order to take the degree of doctor in physick, which he obtained in July 1693, having performed a publick disputation, “ de utilitate explorandorum ex“ crementorum in ægris, ut fignorum.”
Then returning to Leyden, full of his pious design of undertaking the ministry, he found to his surprise unexpected obstacles thrown in his way; and an insinuation dispersed through the university that made VOL. IV.
· him suspected, not of any flight deviation from re:ceived opinions, not of any pertinacious adherence to his own notions in doubtful and disputable matters, but of no less than Spinolism, or, in plainer terms, of Atheism itself.
How so injurious a report came to be raised, circulated, and credited, will be doubtless very eagerly inquired : we shall therefore give the relation, not only to satisfy the curiosity of mankind, but to thew that no merit, however exalted, is exempt from being not only attacked, but wounded, by the most contemptible whispers. Those who cannot strike with force, can however poison their weapon, and, weak as they are, give mortal wounds, and bring a hero to the grave: so true is that observation, that many are able to do hurt, but few to do good.
This detestable calumny owed its rise to an incident from which no consequence of importance could be possibly apprehended. As Boerhaave was sitting in a common boat, there arose a conversation among the passengers upon the impious and pernicious doctrine of Spinosa, which, as they all agreed, tends to the utter overthrow of all religion. Boerhaave sat, and attended silently to this discourse for some time, till one of the company, willing to distinguish himself by his zeal, instead of confuting the positions of Spinosa by argument, began to give a loose to contumelious language, and virulent invectives, which Boerhaave was so little pleased with, that at last he could not forbear asking him, whether he had ever read the author he declaimed against.
The orator, not being able to make much answer, was checked in the midst of his invectives, but not 5
without feeling a secret resentment against the person who had at once interrupted his harangue, and exposed his ignorance.
This was observed by a stranger who was in the boat with them; he enquired of his neighbour the name of the young man, whose question had put an end to the discourse, and having learned it, set it down in his pocket-book, as it appears, with a malicious designa for in a few days it was the common conversation at Leyden, that Boerhaave had revolted to Spinosa.
It was in vain that his advocates and friends pleaded his learned and unanswerable confutation of all atheiftical opinions, and particularly of the system of Spinosa, in his discourse of the distinction between foul and body. Such calumnies are not easily suppressed, when they are once become general. They are kept alive and supported by the malice of bad, and sometimes by the zeal of good men, who, though they do not abfolutely believe them, think it yet the securest method to keep not only guilty but suspected men out of publick employments, upon this principle, that the safety of many is to be preferred before the advantage of few.
Boerhaave, finding this forinidable opposition raised against bis, pretensions to ecclesiastical honours or preferments, and even against his design of aflum. ing the character of a divine, thought it neither neceflary nor prudent to struggle with the torrent of popular prejudice, as he was equally qualified for a profession, not indeed of equal dignity or importance, but which must undoubtedly claim the second place among those which are of the greatest benefit to mankind. ZA
He therefore applied himself to his medical studies with new ardour and alacrity, reviewed all his former observations and enquiries, and was continually employed in making new acquisitions.
Having now qualified himself for the practice of physick, he began to visit patients, but without that encouragement which others, not equally deserving, have fometimes met with. His business was, at first, not great, and his circumstances by no means easy; but still, fuperior to any discouragement, he continued his search after knowledge, and determined that profperity, if ever he was to enjoy it, should be the confequence, not of mean art, or disingenuous folicitations, but of real merit, and solid learning. · His steady adherence to his resolutions appears yet more plainly from this circumstance: he was, while he
yet remained in this unpleasing situation, invited by one of the first favourites of king William III. to settle at the Hague, upon very advantageous conditions; but declined the offer. For having no ambition but after knowledge, he was desirous of living at liberty, without any restraint
upon his looks, his thoughts, or his tongue, and at the utmost distance from all contentions, and state-parties. His time was wholly taken up in visiting the sick, studying, making chemical experiments, searching into every part of medicine with the utmost diligence, teaching the mathematicks, and reading the scriptures, and those authors who profess to teach a certain method of loving God *.
“Circa hoc tempus, lautis conditionibus, lautioribus promiffis, invitatus, plus vice fimplici, a viro primariæ dignationis, qui gratia
This was his method of living to the year 1701, when he was recommended by Van Berg to the unis versity, as a proper person to succeed Drelincurtius in the professorship of physick, and elected without any solicitations on his part, and almost without his confent, on the 18th of May,
On this occasion, having observed, with grief, that Hippocrates, whom he regarded not only as the fa. ther but as the prince of physicians, was not sufficiently read or esteemed by young students, he pronounced an oration,“ de commendando Studio Hippo« cratico;" by which he restored that great author to his just and ancient reputation,
He now began to read publick lectures with great applause, and was prevailed upon by his audience to enlarge his original design, and instruct them in chemistry.
This he undertook, not only to the great advantage of his pupils, but to the great improvement of the art itself, which had been hitherto treated only in a confused and irregular manner, and was little more than a history of particular experiments, not reduced to certain principles, nor connected one with another;
flagrantiffima florebat regis Gulielmi III, ut Hagam.comitum sedem caperet fortunarum, declinavit constans. Contentus videlicet vita libera, remota a turbis, ftudiifque porro percolencis unice impensa, ubi non cogeretur alia dicere & fimulare, alia sentire & dissimulare ; affectuum ftudiis rapi, regi. Sic tum vita erat, ægros visere, mox domi in museo fe condere, officinam Vulcaniam exercere; omnes medicina partes acerrime persequi; mathematica etiam aliis tradere; facra legere, & auctores qui profitentur docere rationęın certam amandi Deum." Orig. Edit.