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February 14, 1966


JAMA. 1966;195(7):580-581. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100070124043

Robert Watt, physician and biographer, was born in the parish of Stewarton, Ayrshire, Scotland, on a farm near the family of Robert Burns, who were also engaged in living off the soil.1 Robert Watt left school at the age of 12 and served at times as a plowboy, stone-dyker, road builder, and cabinet maker. Even when engaged in manual labor he found time to read and contemplate good books. In 1793, having been tutored each morning in Greek and Latin by a schoolmaster in Stewarton, he entered Glasgow University and won a prize for excellence in Greek. In 1795, he attended Edinburgh University and studied moral and natural philosophy, pointing toward the ministry. But learning was not exclusively in the humanities; some time was spent in an anatomy class, and he finished with a small prize for an essay on "Regeneration." By 1799, Watt, having studied sufficient medical subjects,

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