Argos

Argos 25 Summaries

A.H.H.M. Mathijsen
Gerrit de Hoog (1784-1812), Netherlands first veterinarian who gained a medical doctor's degree

Being an orphan, De Hoog was lucky that in his native town Delft an institution was established to take care of gifted boys selected from the Dutch Reformed orphanage.
This institution was founded in 1756 after the last will of a very rich and enlightened lady, Maria Duijst van Voorhout (1662-1754). She had stipulated that the largest part of the fortune she left, should be spent for the foundation of three institutions in the towns of Delft, The Hague and Utrecht to educate clever and able boys for useful occupations as surveyor, hydraulic or fortification engineer, master builder or surgeon. These institutions became known as "Fundaties van Renswoude", after the name of the castle of her last husband.
Gerrit received there a broad and solid education from his 12th until his 18th year. Then he choose to become a veterinarian. As no veterinary school was opened yet in the country, the trustees sent him to the Medical Faculty of nearby Leyden University, where he came under the guidance of prof. Brugmans. After three years he was sent to prof. G.F. Sick of the Berlin Veterinary School. He was called back after two years because he would be appointed at a planned veterinary school. However, political circumstances prevented the establishment of that school. He then received supplementary training in surgery in the military hospital in Leiden. In the mean time a veterinary examination board came into being, and De Hoog was one of the first who was officially licensed to practice. He fulfilled two jobs of a short duration, firstly as 'artiste vétérinaire' in the regiment of the horse guards, and after that in the service of the Medical Commission in the Province of South-Holland to report and take the necessary measures for the diseased domestic animals in an area, inundated after breaching way of the dikes. 
In 1810 he enrolled again at Leyden University and underwent the examination giving access to the doctoral degree. In May 1811 he defended a thesis on the analogy of human and veterinary medicine and the usefulness of a reciprocal knowledge of both medicines. In this article the introduction to this thesis was translated and appended. 
He settled in the town of Vianen, probably to practice human and animal medicine as well. His stay there was too short to leave any trace of activity. After a stay of eight months in Vianen he was conscribed to take part as a 'médecin adjoint' in the campaign of Napoleon against Russia. From there he never returned. 


P.A. Koolmees
Dr. Vlimmen, from pastoral ideology to persistent myth
The story of the veterinarian Dr. Jan Vlimmen was written by the lawyer Anton Roothaert (1896-1967). The first novel on Vlimmen was published in 1936 and became a best seller. In total, 45 different editions have been printed including translations into eight different languages. After World War II, Roothaert wrote two other novels (1953, 1957) about Vlimmen. The trilogy is a nicely told story about a liberal minded veterinarian living in a narrow-minded town. The novels also became popular because the relatively unknown world of the veterinary practitioner was revealed to a broader public. In spite of considerable changes in the societal context of veterinary medicine in general and of present day practice in particular, the romantic but static image of Dr. Vlimmen has continued to play a significant role in the ideology of many veterinary graduates and practitioners. Therefore, over the last two decades, Vlimmen has a rather negative connotation among veterinary authorities because his name is still associated with a romanticised image of the practitioner, an image that differs considerably from reality. The story of Vlimmen led to an inaccurate image of the profession within the media and society and also led to false expectations among first year students. In spite of the efforts of veterinary institutions to dispel it, the myth of Vlimmen seems to persist and it may be very difficult to change the public image of modern veterinary medicine.

A.H.H.M. Mathijsen
Brugmans in the Museum Boerhaave
An exhibition, devoted to activities and fields of interests of Sebald Johannes Brugman (1763-1819) is held in Museum Boerhaave in Leyden, the national museum for the history of science. As an introduction to the exhibition his live is shortly reviewed. Although an extraordinary man with great abilities and much influence during his lifetime, he is almost forgotten now. After obtaining doctorates at the universities of Groningen (in the sciences) and Leyden (in medicine), he was appointed as professor at the University of Franeker in Friesland at the age of 22. After a year he changed places for Leyden where he held the chairs of botany (1786), natural history (1787), medicine (1791) and chemistry (1800), all at the same time! Next to the many teaching obligations involved, he fulfilled several posts outside the university. For more than twenty years he was inspector-general of the Military Medical Service, (re)organized by him in 1795, at the start of the Batavian Republic.He paid much thought to the prevention of wound infection in hospitals, gangraena nosocomialis, that made many victims in those days. His effective hygienic measures saved many lives, especially after the Battle of Waterloo. Together with four others he compiled the first Netherlands pharmacopoea, published in 1805. The Botanical Garden underwent the biggest enlargement in its history under his directorate.
Louis Napoléon, king of Holland (1806-10) made him a State Councillor.
In order to illustrate his lectures he collected specimina in the fields of natural history, comparative anatomy , palaeontology and anthropolgy to such an extent that the French zoologist and palaeontologist Georges Cuvier, who visisted him in 1811, declared his collection to be the largest private collection in Europe. At his premature death in 1819 the collection comprised 4018 objects. The collection was bought for the university by king William I. In the course of time the objects became dispersed over several museums. It was considered worthwhile to bring a representative part of them together again in this exhibition in order to illustrate the scope of Brugmans' activities as a collector, and also to demonstrate the conservation techniques used in those days. Besides, many instruments, prints, paintings, busts, medals, books and documents are on show, arranged beautifully, together picturing well the atmosphere in which science was cultivated. 
As Brugmans was also concerned with attempts to make some provisions for veterinary medicine, until his day the responsibility of local governement only, his successes and failures are reviewed. Especially his views expressed in a report to the National Assembly, on an outbreak of rinderpest in 1796 in the neighbourhood of Nymegen, were sharply criticised. 
Several pamphlets to rectify, oppose or ridiculize him are reviewed.