Sir Charles Bell, K.G.H. 1774–1842

1920 British Journal of Surgery  
SIR CIL%RI.ES BXIJ., physiologist, surgeon, artist, critic, and anatoinist, was born in November, 1774, the youngest of the six children of an old Jacobite minister of t,he Episcopal Church of Scotland who had married a granddaughter of Bishop White, Prinius of Scotland. His father's cure a t Doun in Menteath was worth twenty-five pnunds a year, and the family circnmstances were so straitened that the schooling of a n elder brother could not he continued after he was eleven years old, although
more » ... he fces only amounted to five shillings a quarter. Yet, in spite of this, two brothers were educated for the law and two entered the medical profession, and tlirce of the four qualified for admission t o the Dictionary of lZTational Biography. The old minister died in 1779, and Charles owed his early education t o his mother. From her he inherited the refined taste, t,he skilful pencil, and the artistic temperament which added so much t o his enjoyment of life whilst it militated against his success as a n operating surgeon; for he hated t o give pain, and there were no anesthetics. The family was singularly united and, as one after another rose in the world, each did his best t o help the rest. Between Charles Bell and his brother Georgc ,Joseph, his senior by four years-who afterwards became Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh-there was a lifelong and almost daily interchange of letters showing the deepest affection on both sides. Charles passed without distinction through the High School at Edinburgh, and was then taken in hand by John Bell, his brother, nine years older than himself. John Bell hzd already become a surgeon and teacher of surgery of some eminence in Edinburgh, and the two brothers soon pnblished a n Armtomy of the Hwmnn Body in four volumes. It became a standard work, ran through several editions, and was translated into German. Like other works published by the two brothers between 1797 and 1804, it is illustrated with excellent etchings and engravings made from drawings by Charles Bell. About the year 1800 arose the 'Dawplucker' controversy, one of those professional quarrels conducted with bitter personalities which were not unusual in London, Dublin, a.nd Edinburgh at this period. I n this particular case it raged between Professor Gregory and John Bell, and resulted in the exclusion of Bell from the Royal Infirmary, the retirement of Charles to London, and the subsequent censure of Gregory by the College of Physicians
doi:10.1002/bjs.1800083202 fatcat:xogkk3jqr5g6jcsxfm4kdwi4ku