The Roscoe R. Robinson History of Nephrology Collection
Richard Bright, M.D. 1789-1858 Father of Nephrology
Richard Bright's Travel Books
Travels in the island of Iceland, during the summer of the year 1810. "Natural Arch on the Coast Near Stappen."
Mackenzie, George S (1780-1848). Travels in the island of Iceland during the summer of the MDCCCX. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: A. Constable, 1812. (Many of the drawings are by Richard Bright who was part of the expedition)
In 1811, while still a medical student, Richard Bright wrote the biological and zoological sections for Sir George Mackenzie's, Travels in Iceland and contributed drawings of many extraordinary natural phenomena of this country----lava fields, geysers, snow-capped mountains, fjords, and caves. This was Bright's first scholarly publication.
When Sir George Mackenzie embarked on his expedition to Iceland in May of 1810, little was known about this exotic land. The island had been under the control of Denmark; however, during the Napoleonic wars, it was captured by the British. Mackenzie took with him two promising young students, Richard Bright and Henry Holland, from the University of Edinburgh. Both achieved great prominence in later life. They spent nearly three months in Iceland meeting the people, observing their customs, collecting botanical, zoological, and geological specimens and sketching the landscape. Severe weather conditions and primitive lodging often hampered planned excursions. On their return to England, Mackenzie, Holland and Bright wrote and published the account of their expedition within one year's time. Topics covered in Travels in Iceland include: history, literature, government, laws, religion, botany, education; zoology, mineralogy, diseases, flora, music, a register of the weather, and an essay on the Icelandic Revolution of 1809. Members of this expedition also purchased the library of an Icelandic scholar. Richard Bright's share of this collection included a superb Icelandic Bible and several manuscripts that were later given to the Bodleian Library.
Bright, Richard. Travels from Vienna through lower Hungary; with some remarks on the state of Vienna during the congress, in the year 1814. Edinburgh: A. Constable, 1818.
In this early nineteenth-century travelogue through a Hungary seldom part of the "Grand Tour," the future father of the study of renal diseases describes a land of Esterhazy palaces and wandering gypsies, cattle and horse breeding on the vast plains, and obscure villages in which he had to communicate in Latin since he could not speak Hungarian, Sclavonian, or Wallachian. A keen observer of people, mores, and the flora and fauna he encountered, he describes them all to create an authoritative guidebook of the period. He even includes commentaries on the government regulations of the country. Most impressive is evidence of his indefatigable good spirits despite poor lodgings, muddy roads, and a general population as yet far removed from the cultural and scientific progress of the century. His stay in Vienna includes a visit with Empress Marie-Louise and the infant King of Rome, a Beethoven concert, and bumping into crowned heads at every street corner. Again he makes clear that he was, as the Edinburgh Review described him in 1818, "a very amiable and intelligent man who had observed with the utmost diligence everything remarkable that came within the sphere of his observation." The experience he gained while putting his impressions on paper was of great value later when he was recording his observations on disease.
View of Buda and port of Pesth, sketched by Richard Bright