Online Encyclopedia

ALBRECHT VON HALLER (1708–1777)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 856 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
ALBRECHT VON HALLER (1708–1777), Swiss anatomist and physiologist, was born of an old Swiss family at Bern, on the 16th of October 1708. Prevented by long-continued ill-health from taking part in boyish sports, he had the more opportunity for the development of his precocious mind. At the age of four, it is said, he used to read and expound the Bible to his father's servants; before he was ten he had sketched a Chaldee grammar, prepared a Greek and a Hebrew vocabulary, compiled a collection of two thousand biographies of famous men and women on the model of the great works of Bayle and Moreri, and written in Latin verse a satire on his tutor, who had warned him against a too great excursiveness. When still hardly fifteen he was already the author of numerous metrical translations from Ovid, Horace and Virgil, as well as of original lyrics, dramas, and an epic of four thousand lines on the origin of the Swiss confederations, writings which he is said on one occasion to have rescued from a fire at the risk of his life, only, however, to burn them a little later (1729) with his own hand. Haller's attention had been directed to the profession of medicine while he was residing in the house of a physician at Biel after his father's death in 1721; and, following the choice then made, he while still a sickly and excessively shy youth went in his sixteenth year to the university of Tubingen (December 1723), where he studied under Camerarius and Duvernoy. Dissatisfied with his progress, he in 1725 exchanged Tubingen for Leiden, where Boerhaave was in the zenith of his fame, and where Albinus had already begun to lecture in anatomy. At that university he graduated in May 1727, undertaking successfully in his thesis to prove that the so-called salivary duct, claimed as a recent discovery by Coschwitz, was nothing more than a blood-vessel. Haller then visited London, making the acquaintance of Sir Hans Sloane, Cheselden, Pringle, Douglas and other scientific men; next, after a short stay in Oxford, he visited Paris, where he studied under Ledran and Winslow; and in 1728 he proceeded to Basel, where he devoted himself to the study of the higher mathematics under John Bernoulli. It was during his stay there also that his first great interest in botany was awakened; and, in the course of a tour (July–August, 1828), through Savoy, Baden and several of the Swiss cantons, he began a collection of plants which was afterwards the basis of his great work on the flora of Switzerland. From a literary point of view the main result of this, the first of his many journeys through the Alps, was his peom entitled Die Alpen, which was finished in March 1729, and appeared in the first edition (1732) of his Gedichte. This poem of 490 hexameters is historically important as one of the earliest signs of the awakening appreciation of the mountains (hitherto generally regarded as horrible monstrosities), though it is chiefly designed to contrast the simple and idyllic life of the inhabitants of the Alps with the corrupt and decadent existence of the dwellers in the plains. In 1729 he returned to Bern and began to practise as a physician; his best energies, however, were devoted to the botanical and anatomical researches which rapidly gave him a European reputation, and procured for him from George II. 2 The reference to a hymn at the institution of the Eucharist (Matt. xxvi. 3o, Mark xiv. 26) must be interpreted in the light of this inceptive stage of the Hallel. in 1736 a call to the chair of medicine, anatomy, botany and eloquence making him a great force. In 1526 he was at the abortive conference of Baden, and in January 1528 drafted and defended the ten theses for the conference of Bern which established the new religion in that city. He left no writings except a few letters which are preserved in Zwingli's works. He died on the 25th of February 1536. Life by Pestalozzi (Elberfeld, 1861).
End of Article: ALBRECHT VON HALLER (1708–1777)
[back]
HALLEL (Heb. 5;7 a Mishnic derivative from 5? hille...
[next]
BERTHOLD HALLER (1492–1536)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.