Name: Alexander PEDDIE
Given Name: Alexander
Christening: 25 JUN 1810 St Cuthberts,Edinburgh
EDINBURGH MEDICAL JOURNAL 1907 EDITORIAL - DR. ALEXANDER PEDDIE
Change Date: 28 JUN 2006 at 10:26:53
It is not vouchsafed to many of the sons of men to cross the hundred arches of the bridge of Mirza. A few escape the “ Gates of Death” until they have passed the seventy unbroken spans, but the numbers crossing the ruined arches steadily lessen as they, like the subject of the present notice, near the end of the visionary bridge. On high authority it has been asserted that the later years of such men are “but labour and sorrow”, yet the career of the doyen of the Scottish medical profession shows that such a statement is not of universal application. The retrospect of a life remarkable for its usefulness and rich in its fulfilment, instinct with broad sympathies and devoted to wide interests, distinguished by generosity of thought and magnanimity of mind, could not fail to furnish peace and happiness, and this feeling was undoubtedly enhanced by the assurance, on all hands, of the universal love and respect of his fellow-countrymen.
Alexander Peddie belonged to the “Brahmin caste,” as the Autocrat puts it, and was the son of an eminent minister in Edinburgh. Born in 1810, his earliest memories centred in the stirring scenes marking the decline and fall of the great Napoleon. At the High School he was a member of one of the large classes characteristic of the time: that to which he belonged included many men who afterwards attained distinction, all of whom passed away before him. On leaving school, he spent a few years in a bank, but, on the advice of Dr. Abercromby, he decided to study medicine, and became in 1830 an apprentice to Mr. Syme at Minto House, where he was associated with his lifelong friend, John Brown. Graduating at the University five years later, he repaired to the Continent, and devoted himself more particularly to study in Paris, whose medical school was then at the zenith of one of its most famous epochs. It is of interest to note that on his return to engage in practice, he was the first to introduce the stethoscope to Edinburgh.
In addition to engaging in private practice, Dr. Peddie, in combination with Dr. Brown and Dr. Cornwall, accepted the charge of the hospital at Minto House. From this time onwards until his retirement, a few years ago, Dr. Peddie spent an active life and enjoyed a large practice in his native city. He did not restrict his energies, by any means, to medicine, but allowed his wide sympathies free scope in many directions; his professional duties, however, were ever first in his thoughts. At all times possessed of an open mind, he was quick to detect any possibility of advances in knowledge. As a proof of this, it may be mentioned that he was the earliest to demonstrate in Edinburgh the animal parasites of skin diseases. In two other directions, at least, he was far in advance of his compeers. At a comparatively early period of his career he recognized the infectious nature of puerperal fever, and strove with all his energies to obtain wide recognition of the fact. His name thus deserves to be placed along with those of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Semmelweiss as one of the pioneers in a great advance. Some years ago Professor Osler wrote to ask Dr. Wendell Holmes whether he looked back with greater pleasure to his paper on “ Puerperal Infectivity,” or to the composition of the “ Chambered Nautilus,” and received, as might be expected, a reply in favour of the scientific advance rather than of the literary triumph. If a similar query had been addressed to Dr. Peddie – if he had been asked whether he would rather have his name associated in the future with a practical achievement, bringing in its train the saving of countless precious lives, or would the biography of his friend, which has delighted a large circle of readers, there can be no question as to what his answer would have been.
In another branch of medicine Dr. Peddie initiated beneficial changes. Impressed by the failure attendant upon attempts to deal with inebriates, he suggested views in regard to pathology and treatment far in advance of those at the time in vogue. Earnest consideration of the questions involved led him to the conclusion that inebriety is to be regarded as the outcome of cerebral disease, and he, therefore proposed that the management of such cases should be based upon modern scientific conceptions. The practical outcome of his work in this direction has certainly been of the highest value.
Led by the results of wide observation to recognise the want of it, he was amongst the enlightened men who initiated the movement in favour of the institution of a hospital for children, and to his advocacy of the cause the foundation of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children is in great part due.
Dr. Peddie contributed numerous papers and articles upon these and many other subjects to medical literature, the largest number of which appeared in the pages of this Journal. These contributions are marked by breadth of view and originality of thought, while characterised by lucidity of style and purity of diction.
During his professional career many honours were bestowed upon him: he became President of the Royal College of Physicians in 1877 and of the Harveian Society in 1890. In this latter capacity he performed a pious duty by devoting the Annual Oration to a delightful sketch of the life of “ Rab.” This charming biography was afterwards extended, and will remain one of the most graceful tributes to friendship afforded by our profession.
In his personal character Dr. Peddie was one of the most lovable of mankind. This did not arise from weakness, for he was equally strong in defence of what he deemed right and in denunciation of what he considered wrong; it arose from his generous instincts and kindly ways.
These traits were ever in evidence on his aristocratic features and in his steadfast eye; his expression was singularly winning as it reflected his changing moods from grave to gay; his bearing was a charming survival of a courteous past. Always fond of music, he possessed an excellent voice, and with Professors Christison, Bennett, and Maclagan, formed the quartet so popular in the rendering of glees. During his later years he showed a love for the brush, and produced water-colour sketches of much beauty.
Father: James PEDDIE
Mother: Barbara SMITH
Clara Elizabeth Sibbald ANDERSON c: 7 NOV 1821 in Selkirk
13 JAN 1844
- Alexander PEDDIE b: 21 NOV 1853 in St Cuthberts,Edinburgh
- Clara Sibbald PEDDIE b: 5 AUG 1855 in Edinburgh
- Mary Anne PEDDIE b: 30 MAY 1857 in Edinburgh
- Henry Anderson PEDDIE b: 29 JUL 1858 in Edinburgh