17 MAY 1884, Page 24


Memoir of J. D. Heaton, M.D. Edited by T. Wemyss Reid. (Longmans.)—To many readers the name of Dr. Heaton will be as unfamiliar as it was to the present writer. But they will soon recognise that this memoir is not an idle effort to rescue an obscure name from oblivion. In his native town of Leeds Dr. Heaton was a conspicuous citizen, and, what is far more to the point, a singularly useful man. He seems never to have obtained the success in medical practice which might have been anticipated from his early distinctions. Other reasons are suggested in the memoir, but one cogent reason probably was that he wanted the stimulus of need. But no man stood higher, both as regards his own profession and in all that there was of culture and literary life, in Leeds. The Medical School owes much to him, and the Yorkshire College still more. These and other services rendered to Leeds are recorded in this volume. Mr. Reid has done his work with excellent taste. He never offends with ex- cessive panegyric ; he is free from the fatal weakness of the biographer—the tendency to sacrifice all other reputations for the purpose of aggrandising the reputation of his hero. And he is not dull. Of course, such a life as Dr. Heaton's had nothing very exciting about it ; but to any one with a wholesome taste it is full of interest. A Londoner especially will do well to get a glimpse of this side of provincial life. Dr. Heaton died at an age which, in days when septuagenarians think nothing of commencing a new career, must be considered early. His end was hastened, we cannot but think, by the neglect of common precautions for health,—a neglect which medical men denounce in others, but are often guilty of themselves. It was his habit to rise at five o'clock in the morning, and to work in his study till eight without a fire, even in the coldest weather. What could have been more depressing to the vitality ? It cannot be said to have actually killed him ; but be died of acute pneumonia, and died at a time (about the end of March) when he had gone through a winter of this rigorous treatment.