And lips where heavenly smiles would hang and blend
With his wise words; and eyes whose arrowy light
Shone like the reflex of a thousand minds."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
James Lind MD, FRS
The Real Doctor Frankenstein
James Lind (1736-1812) was born in Gorgie, Midlothian. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University under William Cullen and Joseph Black, attaining his MD in 1768.
Between 1761 and 1779 he travelled extensively as a ship’s surgeon with the East India Company, visiting Africa, India, and China. He also served as ship’s surgeon on Sir Joseph Banks’ expedition to Iceland in 1772. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1777.
An Enlightenment polymath, Lind’s interests and research included anthropology, astronomy, botany, chemistry, cryptography, engineering, geology, meteorology, and physics. His friends and correspondents included James Watt, William Herschel, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Benjamin Franklin, and many other key figures in the world of eighteenth-century natural philosophy.
He settled in Windsor in 1782 and became a peripatetic science advisor to selected Eton schoolboys. Amongst his pupils between 1805 and 1810 was the young Percy Bysshe Shelley, who later acknowledged Lind as one of his most important mentors, saying he owed him more than he owed his father. Shelley paid tribute to Lind via the figure of Zonoras in his poem Prince Athanase (see above).
As a member of polite society in Windsor, Lind frequently socialised with the Royal family, and discussed philosophical matters with George III. However, he was never (as is sometimes claimed), the king’s personal physician. Lind died in London in 1812. He should not be confused - as he too often is - with his cousin and namesake, James Lind (1716-94), a Royal Navy surgeon who first identified a cure for scurvy.
This silhouette is the only known likeness of Lind. He created ‘profiles’ (as he preferred to call them) by means of a perspective drawing machine of his own invention.
The Real Doctor Frankenstein?
Lind's influence on the young Percy Shelley would eventually find its way into the text of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein (1818).
Click on the early nineteenth-century illustration on the right to find links to the article 'The Real Doctor Frankenstein', which was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (May 2002), and to news stories about the article.
There are also links to other articles about Lind's influence upon medical imagery in Shelley's writing.
Remainder of site still under construction. Watch this space....
For more information on James Lind, including links to articles published in academic journals, click here.
Lind and Astronomy
As well as being an accomplished astronomer himself, Lind was a friend of the greatest astronomer of his age, Sir William Herschel (1738-1822).
Click on the image of Herschel's telescope to the right to find links to images and articles about Lind, his interest in astronomy, and his influence on Percy Shelley's use of astronomical imagery in his poetry.
Lind, Cryptography, and Silhouettes
In the later years of his life, Lind kept a small printing press at his house in Windsor with which he would amuse himself publishing pamphlets and small books.
He was also highly accomplished in the art of creating silhouettes, or as he called them, 'profiles'.
Click on the image to the right to see further details and links to examples of his work.
Lind the Traveller
Lind travelled extensively between 1761 and 1779. As a ship's surgeon for the East India company he travelled to Africa, India, and China. He also went to Iceland in 1772 as ship's surgeon-cum-astronomer on Sir Joseph Banks' expedition.
For further details of Lind's travels and their likely influence on Percy Shelley's poetry, click on the map to the right.
The 'other' James Lind
~ a disambiguation
The James Lind who is the subject of this website ought not to be confused - as he too often is - with his more illustrious cousin and namesake, James Lind of Haslar (1716-94).
Click on the image to the right of the 'other' James Lind for details about the man who discovered a cure for scurvy by carrying out the world's first medical controlled trial.
Lind the Earth Scientist
Among the many scientific pursuits in which Lind engaged, he had a lifelong intetest in geology and meteorology. Since his days in Edinburgh, he had been a great friend of the geologist James Hutton (1726-97), with whom he maintained correspondence after his move to Windsor. Lind's other friends and correspondents in these fields included James Playfair (1748-1819) and Jean-Andre De Luc (1727-1817).
Click on the image to the right of James Hutton for links to further details of Lind's interests in this field and their influence on the imagery used in Percy Shelley's poetry.