September 22, 1962


JAMA. 1962;181(12):1071-1072. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050380049016

Although John Abernethy (1764-1831), heir apparent in London of John Hunter, was acclaimed as a great teacher of surgery by his contemporaries and immediate followers, the evidence from perusal of his writings warrants a slightly lower position in the scale of greatness. One explanation for this partial paradox may be the difficulty in documenting his contributions to medical science. John, born of Scottish-Irish parents, was not particularly outstanding in his early schooling. When the boy was 15, Charles Blicke, surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, received him as an apprentice after he abandoned the thoughts of a legal career and acceded to the wishes of his father. Abernethy attended the lectures of Blizard, and the private series by Hunter, the usual practice at that time, at the London Hospital. When Percivall Pott retired as senior surgeon, Blicke was advanced, and, in turn, the position of assistant surgeon, without salary, was filled

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