Lorry, Anne Charles

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Lorry, Anne Charles

(b. Crosnes, France, 10 October 1726; d. Bourbonne-les-Bains, France, 18 September 1783)


The son of a well—known professor of law in Paris, Lorry received an excellent education supervised by Charles Rollin. Soon after receiving his medical degree (1748), Lorry was presented by the chief royal physician L. G, Le Monnicr, to Marshal Noailles. He was thus introduced to Paris high society and became the physician of the Richelieus.ofthe Fronsaes,of Mlle de Lespinasse, and of Voltaire, all of whom received him warmly but paid him less enthusiastically. He attended the autopsy of the young duke of Burgundy, the dauphin’s son, in 1761, and was called in as a consultant on 29 April 1774, during Louis XV’s last illness, at the request of the Due d’Aiguillon, the friend of the Comtesse du Barry. The king (who died on 10 May) spoke to Lorry several times and his baptismal name was, one evening, the password given to the captain of the guards.

Lorry’s worldly successes were numerous. He was consequently taken to task by La Mettrie in his Politique du medecin de Machiavel (1746) and was a character in a play by Poinsinet. Indeed, according to Paul Delaunay, the elegant Lorry was the darling of the salons and of the ladies. He was extravagant with money and unconcerned about his health; thus he became gouty. A serious stroke, around 1782, caused him to lose the use of his legs; and many of his patients turned to other physicians. He fell into financial difficulties, but obtained a royal pension that enabled him to go to Bourbonne-les-Bains, where he died.

Lorry’s worldly concerns did not prevent him from studying with Astruc and Ferrein, nor from doing important scientific work. In 1760 he presented two memoirs to the Académic Royale des Sciences on the then fashionable subject of medullo-cerebral physiology. In the first he studied the normal movements of the encephalon, while in the second he established that compression of the cerebellum produces sleep and that a puncture in the upper part of the spinal cord between the second and third cervical vertebrae is immediately followed by death. It was thus that he placed in the spinal column the seat of the soul—the sensorium commune—the location of which had already been discussed by Vieussens, Boerhaave, Astruc, Franois de La Peyronie, Haller, and Antoine Louis, and later by Soemmerring. This noeud vital” was later studied by Legallois (1808–1812) and by Flourens (1827); they showed that it was actually a regulatory center of the respiratory system.

In other publications Lorry discussed hygiene, anatomy, physiology, the history of medicine, medical pathology, epidemiology, clinical medicine, and smallpox inoculation, a method he defended in 1763 against Astruc. He is now primarily known, however, for his work in dermatology and mental disease.

Lorry’s treatise on dermatology, which he dedicated to his friend E. L. Geoffroy, was the first French monograph devoted to diseases of the skin and, according to L. T. Morton, the first modern work that attempted to classify them according to their physiological, pathological, and etiological similarities. He divided skin diseases into two groups. The first consisted of those he considered to be the external expression of an internal disease; these were the general or dépuratoaires diseases, which can either invade the entire cutaneous surface or be localized. The second group consists of diseases that originate in the skin itself and do not affect other parts of the body. They can—like those of the first group—cover either small areas or the general surface of the skin. Lorry’s book is a source of precise observations, but it is spoiled by an obsolete Galeno-Arabic nomenclature and archaic medical conceptions.

English and French physicians in the eighteenth century were much concerned with depression; the word “suicide” was first used in France in 1737 by Y. Pelicier. In England one spoke of “melancholy” (R. Burton, 1621), of “spleen“(R. Black More, 1725), or “English malady” (G. Cheyne, 1733); and in France, of “nostalgie” (J. Hoffer, 1688; La Caze, 1763; Leeat, 1767), “affection vaporeuse” (J. Raulin, 1758; P. Pomme, 1763), or “mùlancolie” (C. Andry, 1785). Lorry recognized two types of melancholy, one a consequence of an alteration of the solid parts (“melaneolie nerveu.se”), the other originating in the humors (“mùlaneolie humorale”). The latter could result in hysteria in women and, in men, hypochondria. Lorry stressed spasmodic episodes: torticollis, pyloric spasm with vomiting, pharyngeal spasm with difficulties in swallowing. Although he assigned a physical etiology to melancholy. Lorry sometimes contradicted himself by citing the roles of fear and anguish.

Lorry left the Paris Faculty of Medicine, where he taught surgery (1753), and was one of the founders of the Sociùtù Royale de Mùdecine, of which he became the director and vice-president. It was for his efforts in this capacity that Vicq d’Azyr dedicated to him one of his best memorial addresses.


I. Original Works. Lorry’s writings include An cause caloris in pulmone aeris actione temperetur? (Paris, 1746); Essai sur les aliments, pour server de commentaire aux liures diùtùtiqttes d’HippoCrate, 2 vols. (Paris, 1754-1757), remiss. as Essai sur l’usage des aliments, 2 vols. (Paris, 1781), translated into Italian as Saggio supra gli aliment per service di comment avid at libri dietetic d’lppocrate, 2 vols. (Venice, 1787); De melancholia et mortis melancholia, 2 vols. (Paris, 1765); Tractates de morbis cutaiwis (Paris, 1777), trans, into German by C. F. Held as Abhandlung con m Krankheiten der Haut, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1779); and Depraecipuis morborum mutationibus et conversion thus tenta-men medicum, J. N. Hallé, ed. (Paris, 1784).

Editions and translations include Hippocratis aphorismi graece et latine (Paris, 1759); Mömoires pour servir à l’histoire de la Facultù de médecine de Montpellier par feu M. Jean Astruc, revised and published by Lorry (Paris, 1767); J. Barker’s Essai sur la conformité de la médecine ancienne et moderne dans le traitement des maladies aigües, translated by Schomberg, new ed., revised by Lorry (Paris, 1768); Sane to Hits.,, de medicina statica aphorismi, comments and notes added by Lorry (Paris, 1770); Richardi Mead Opera, translated by Lorry (Paris, 1751); and Hippocratis aphorismi, Hippocratis et Celsi locis parallelis ilustrati, edited by Lorry (Paris, 1784).

Many writings by Lorry are in the Mémoires de l’ Académie royale des sciences (1760) and the Mémoires de la Soeiété royale de médicine (1776-1779).

II. Secondary Literature. See A, Kissmeyer, “Autour d’ Anne-Charles Lorry,” in Bulletin de la Sociùtù française de dermatohgie et de syphiligraphie, 38 (1931), 1524-1527; E, Bongrand, “Lorry,” in Dictionnaire encyclopùdique des sciences mùdicales de Dechambre, 2nd ser., III (Paris, 1870), 112-113; P. Delaunay, Le monde mùdical parisien au XVIII° Siùele (Paris, 1906), passim; R. Desgenettes, “Lorry,” in Biographie Médicale,VI (Paris, 1824), 102-109; “Éloge de Lorry,” in Journal de médecine miliiaire3 (1784), 379-387; Arne Kissmeyer, Anne-Charles Lorry et son oeuvre dermatologique (Paris, 1928); “Lorry,” in A. L. J. Bayle and A. G. Thillaye, Biographic médicale, II (Paris, 1855), 503-504, with portrait; “Lorry,” in Biographisches Lexicon, III (Berlin-Vienna, 1962), 843; “Lorry,” in Dezeimeris, Dietionnaire historique de la médecine ancienne et moderne, III (Paris, 1836), 479-480; “Lorry,” in N. F. J. Eloy, Dictionnaire historique de la médicine (Mons, 1778), pp. 101-102; Richter, “Geschichte der Dermatologie,” in Handbuch der Haut- und Geschtechtskrankheiten, 14 , no, 2 (1928), 178a, 180; C. Saucerotte, “Lorry,” in Nouvelle biographie générate, XXXI (Paris, 1852), 688-690; and F. Vicq d’Azyr, “Éloge de M. Lorry,” in Histoire de la Société royale de médecine atnnées 1782-1783 (Paris, 1787), V, pt. 25-59,

Pierre Huard

Marie JosÉ Imbault-Huart

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