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This biography is from ANNALS of the Medical Society of the County of Albany, 1806-1851, by Sylvester D. Willard, M. D.

William Tully
Condensed from notice by Prof. Henry Bronson of New Haven, Ct.

William Tully was born at Saybrook Point, Conn., February 18th, 1785. He was descended from John Tully who came from England in 1647, and was the only child of William and Eunice Tully. At an early period he manifested a taste for books, which his parents indulged. His preparation for college was defective, but he entered Yale in 1802, and graduated in 1806. His course was embarrassed by his want of knowledge of mathematics. In 1807 he began to study medicine with Dr. Mason F. Cogswell of Hartford, and the following year went to Dart mouth, to attend the lectures by Dr. Nathan Smith. Subsequently he was a pupil with Dr. Ives of New Haven where he gave particular attention to botany, laying the foundation of an accurate knowledge of that science. He was licensed by the Connecticut Medical Society in 1810, and received the honorary degree of doctor of medicine from Yale College in 1819. After receiving his license, he taught a district school in Saybrook. In 1811, he went to Enfield to reside, and in 1812 to Milford, and in 1818 he removed to the city of Middletown. He published in Silliman's Journal of Science, an article on ergot of rye; in 1820, and in 1823 a volume entitled an essay on Fevers and other medical subjects, the associate author being Dr. Miner. This volume treated old and cherished prejudices and the current methods of practice with little ceremony, sometimes with caustic severity. The authors maintained the typhoid tendencies of fevers; that antiphlogistic measures were contra indicated, that the free use of stimulants were required. The volume excited a controversy of opinion and engendered a prejudice against the authors which neither survived. Dr. Tully removed to East Hartford, in 1824 when he was appointed Professor of Theory and practice in the Vermont Academy of Medicine. He removed to Albany in 1826 and became a partner of Dr. Alden March, where for a time his business was prosperous. While residing in Albany he published in 1828, a medical prize essay on Sanguinaria Canadensis, a paper of eighty-four pages, characterized by original observation and elaborate medical scholarship. In 1829 Dr. Tully succeeded Prof. Eli Ives in the chair of materia medica at Yale College, and accordingly removed to New Haven in May, 1830. Here his already distinguished reputation secured many friends, and a reasonable share of business while he prepared and published several valuable articles in Silliman's Journal. In 1833, he was invited to a professorship in the Medical College of South Carolina, a position which however he declined. Dr. Tully continued to lecture at New Haven until 1841, when he resigned his position. Subsequently he spent one year in South Carolina. In 1851 he removed to Springfield, Mass., where he died February 28th, 1859, at the age of seventy- four. His wife was the daughter of Rev. Elam Potter of Enfield. They had ten children; two daughters and one son survived him.

While residing in Springfield, Dr. Tully gave to the world his great work, entitled Materia Medica, or Pharmacology and Therapeutics, in two volumes. It is on this that his reputation as a medical scholar must rest. Its publication was by Dr. Jefferson Church of Springfield, a man of unselfish devotion to science, who assumed the entire pecuniary responsibility of the work. The volumes are a monument of Dr. Tully's learning as a scholar, and ability as a writer. It requires courage to read it, and capacity to understand it It is not calculated to be popular; it is too much a work of principles and classifications; tooabounding with rigid technicality.

Dr. Tully was doubtless the most learned and thoroughly scientific physician in New England. Perhaps his equal could not be found anywhere. He was a diligent and methodical student. His knowledge of science was extensive and accurate.

His studies took a wide range, embracing botany, chemistry, physiology, and the natural sciences. He assisted Dr. Webster and Prof. Goodrich in the scientific department of their dictionary. This was a great and valuable labor. He was an able lecturer. His views were bold, his elaborations skillful, his expressions vigorous, his criticisms terribly severe and merciless, his sarcasm positive. Many of his pupils thought him the greatest man alive. Younger students complained that his matter was too scientific and technical. As a practitioner he was heroic, and his remedies were often such as morphine, strychnine, veratrum, arsenic, and the like; while he heaped unmeasured ahuse upon cathartics, blood letting, and antiphlogistics generally.

In his opinions he was sometimes headstrong. His directions were positive, and he as positively disregarded the whims of nurses and old women. He had not the elements of a popular physician. "With his brethren he was honorable and manly; but he had strong prejudices; he was censorious, possibly jealous. In talking, he was magisterial, exhuberantly, ambitiously learned and diffuse. He had not the art of condensation. If a man had three Christian names and two titles, he would repeat them all; but sum up his imperfection, and deduct therefrom his merits, and there is enough left to make a man, a whole man (may I not say), a great man. With great love of detail he combined extraordinary power of memory, and the most untiring plodding, sytematic industry.

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