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  • Letter of Tarquinius Johannes Terpstra Noyon to his parents
Vienna 13 August 1813

THE SEVENTH GENERATION

Letter of Tarquinius Johannes Terpstra Noyon to his parents
Vienna 13 August 1813

Tarquinius Johannes Terpstra Noyon (1792 – 1846)

Genealogy

Tarquinius Johannes Terpstra NOYON was born October 31, 1792 in Sneek, Friesland, Nederland and died June 2, 1846 in Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland. He married Baudina Elisabeth STINSTRA daughter of Pieter STINSTRA and Aaltje WYBENGA October 20, 1816 in Franeker, Franekeradeel, Friesland, Nederland. She was born January 25, 1796 in Franeker, Franekeradeel, Friesland, Nederland and died May 31, 1881 in Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland.

Children of Tarquinius Johannes Terpstra NOYON and Baudina Elisabeth STINSTRA:

  1. Petrus Simeon NOYON b.: August 2, 1817 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: August 19, 1893 Oosterbeek, Renkum, Gelderland, Nederland
  2. Aaltje NOYON b.: June 10, 1819 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland m.: Frederik Hessel Jonkheer Van BEYMA THOE KINGMA, April 27, 1843, Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: January 16, 1900 Heerenveen, Friesland, Nederland
  3. Remelia NOYON b.: January 18, 1821 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: June 6, 1821 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland
  4. Jacob NOYON b.: April 24, 1822 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: May 20, 1823 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland
  5. Jacob NOYON b.: January 31, 1824 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: January 23, 1898 Arnhem, Gelderland, Nederland
  6. Remelia NOYON b.: June 4, 1825 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland m.: Freerk HOEKSTRA, June 30, 1857, Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: April 6, 1897 Velp, Rheden, Gelderland, Nederland
  7. Agge NOYON b.: May 23, 1830 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: September 4, 1832 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland
  8. Geertruida Catharina NOYON b.: June 1, 1833 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland d.: March 17, 1889 Harlingen, Friesland, Nederland

Life

The story about TARQUINIUS JOHANNES TERPSTRA NOYON (31/10/1792 – 02/06/1846) is here illustrated by his grand-child Dr. Izaak Noyon, also a medical doctor. He published an article in the Dutch Journal of Medicine about his grandfather in September 1941, when the Netherlands was under German occupation. The letters can be read in its original form downloading (Binder009 (1)) , (Binder009 (2)) , (Binder009 (3))

A MEDICAL STUDY IN THE “FRENCH TIME”

BY DR. l. NOYON

FROM THE DUTCH JOURNAL OF MEDICINE

VOLUME 85. NO. 36 (3615-3619) SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 1941

Recently I reread a bundle of letters in my possession, by my grandfather sent to his parents at the beginning of the last century. He had been enabled by his father to crown his medical studies at Franeker academy with a study trip to Berlin and Vienna. On the one hand of course he had undertaken this travel to increase his knowledge base, his main goal however was to escape the impending incorporation into NAPOLEON’S army, which had become the unenviable fate of many a contemporary, who were unsuccessful in leaving behind the Dutch borders in time. My grandfather has therefore remained absent until after NAPOLEON’S fall after which he repatriated with great urgency.

His letters, mainly addressed to his parents, treat, from the nature of things, non specific-medical issues and may have no right to be published in our magazine, which has the habit to serve our readers every week thorough medical food for thought, but as a light diversity thereof, I dare asking the hospitality in our magazine to relate at least some parts of that correspondence.

My grandfather then, TARQUINIUS JOHANNES TERPSTRA NOYON, was the son of Mr. PETRUS SIMEON NOYON, notary in Sneek, where he was born at the end of the eighteenth century. He studied medicine in Franeker. He owed his classic first name to the then prevailing fashion from the “upper-middle class” to Latinize the names of their children. So was a good Friesian name “TJERK” changed to “TARQUINIUS”. Fortunately for his descendants the old name has been restored in later generations.

Tarquinius was thus allowed, when the Franeker academy could offer him no more, to travel to Berlin, mainly to profit there from the teachings of the famous Dr. HUFELAND. This HUFELAND, born in 1762, was then a professor in Berlin and had a European reputation. (On a trip to The Netherlands, where he was summoned by King Louis Napoleon for a consultation, he “discovered” Bentheim and gave impetus to the foundation and development of the famous Bad-Bentheim.)

So, although The Netherlands had long since been part of the French Empire, the young doctor travelled in September 1812 from Groningen, Winschoten and Nieuwe-Schans to East-Friesland and prepared himself for his further journey in Jemgum-bij-Leer at the house of a peace judge, who was a relative. This journey would in the end last much longer than was originally intended. Only in the spring of 1814 he learned in Vienna about the liberation of The Netherlands where after he rushed back to the liberated fatherland.

The trip went from Leer to Bremen in a covered mail-coach on extremely rough roads. In Bremen he found the famous Bremer Ratskeller to his regret closed, “so that one could not benefit.” (He follows the habit, then in vogue because of a certain kind of modesty, to minimize the use of the word “I” in letters to elders or superiors.) He writes that he visited among others a crypt in Bremen, where dead bodies were kept who had not decomposed, same as could be seen in Wieuwerd, Friesland. Furthermore, he describes what he considers a remarkable device to provide water to the inhabitants of Bremen, namely a huge paddle-wheel that, by the power of the Weser is kept in constant motion, and thus pumps water in a tube overflow.

We follow him further on his journey, which becomes slightly easier, since he and a fellow traveler hire a horse carriage, which enables them to travel to Hannover much faster and with more comfort than with the ordinary mail-coach. So he travels with his companion to Hannover then to Brunswick, Magdeburg and finally through Potsdam to Berlin. Of all these cities he gives clear and concise descriptions, without ever falling in blind admiration and to criticize the things of his fatherland in comparison with what he saw abroad. He writes: “In general, one can say that all these cities would be brilliant if some Dutch cleanliness would have been applied”. Hanover he describes as a derelict city. The reigning dynasty, of English descent, was exiled. The palace of the Duke of York now served as a residence for NAPOLEON’S brother, “His Majesty JERONIMUS (JEROME) NAPOLEON, King of Westphalia”. The former royal palace served as barracks for the French occupation forces. The journey continues, happily under fine weather, and so they finally reach Berlin in October 1812 over Potsdam: “a clean, but awfully dead city with a daily coach connection to Berlin”.

He soon found a suitable place to stay with “madam RADIS” close to the Charité hospital, where he found as fellow residents two persons from Mecklenburg: “nobles, but good people”, who studied in Berlin. His first action was a visit to the great HUFELAND, who, to his regret, was not at home. He quickly found his way to the various clinics. Four times a week in the morning at 7 am (!) to Professor HEIL, who gives lectures on “medical practice”. At eleven he has to go to the academy building for “clinicum”, which was held in one of the halls of the university, “where the sick with all kind of defects are treated by us, under supervision of HUFELAND. That very many sick of all kinds come to be treated here, your honorable will easily understand since all is free of charge. This takes to well after midday”. At one o’clock HUFELAND lectures “medical matters”, in the same lecture hall. Then bedside visits at the Charité hospital, where we see and treat the most varied diseases under supervision of Professor HORN, “also a very clever man”. The Charité is much admired: “never can it be cleaner then here. It’s all in perfect order”. Further the letter mentions “I eat in a place where many students and others have meals. It is very close to my lodgings and is very handy because you can eat whenever you want. They have a list of all kinds of food, behind which each price is stated. The food one likes best is one chooses. I don’t eat potatoes here. ”

My grandfather appears to have been introduced to several families who received him kindly, which he much appreciated. On 30 November he wrote the following letter. He has been very sick, due to scurry from one lecture-room to the other, often a half hour’s walk apart, in bad weather on filthy and badly paved streets. He can now resume his work. Every day he visits again the Charité where professor HORN gives lectures and demonstrations at the sickbed and he asks the students “to express their thoughts about the nature of the disease and how to cure them”. He also goes regularly to the polyclinic and lectures of Professor HUFELAND.

At the request of family and friends he gives in a subsequent letter a detailed description of Berlin, which we discuss here only in passing. Berlin (he writes) is a great city of 200,000 inhabitants and is in the possession of a theatre “that may outweigh the one in Amsterdam. Excellent actors play there, but as the moon shines above the stars, so IFFLAND shines above them all. The actresses are also good, but I have not seen an equal to our WATTIER-ZIESENIS.” He further describes a deaf and dumb institute where, to his great astonishment, they sometimes manage to teach the inmates to talk “by putting their hand at the throat of the teachers” He also visits a blind institute, where to his admiration he sees that the blind are taught using relief maps in geography. Moreover he elaborately writes about a very long and beautiful street called “Under the Linden ” and who has on one side a gate, called the Brandenburg Gate, which was recently built by FRIEDRICH WILHELM II to decorate the city, “an uncommonly beautiful building, probably unparalleled in Europe, to the manner of the famous Propylon of the Acropolis surpassing them in beauty. Gracefully statutes decorated them before, but these were brought to Paris.” He believes that the Berliners often overeat, while drinking a lot of “snaps” and beer. As an excuse, he states that the wine in Berlin is so expensive. In general, life in Berlin is expensive. His room rent is high and is “eight rix-marks (each worth 36 Dutch quarters) per month, so since my money has been depleted I have taken the liberty to ask Mr. Cohen 100 guilders”.

The above proves that my grandfather was not exclusively absorbed by his medical work, not only from his personal observations about the Berlin theatres but also from a letter of 8 December 1812 where he describes a dinner at Professor HUFELAND who had invited professors, doctors, some students and himself. It was a men’s dinner. The daughter of the Professor however and his sister in law (HUFELAND was a widower) were at each end of the table and “cut and served”, a habit that the young doctor would like to see introduced in The Netherlands, “but our ladies would not go for that”. The meal was extremely consistent and “the table was covered with red and white wines.” The party lasted from half past two to five-thirty, and then coffee was provided in another room.

Furthermore, he mentions a tragedy which occurred in the family of his landlord. He was footman to the Bavarian envoy and had to pick up his master after the theatre. He waited with the coachman in a tavern until the end of the presentation, and there was a fight with a drunken customer who stuck a sword in his abdomen, after which death soon followed. My grandfather attended the funeral.

We will not continue to follow our colleagues stay in Berlin. HUFELAND, who was the personal physician to the King of Silesia, had to accompany his royal highness and with that the main attraction of Berlin had obviously disappeared.

The fatherland was still far from secure. Worse, there was reason to increase the distance to the Dutch borders some more and the protagonist of this travelogue thus travelled in August 1813 from Breslau to Vienna. Because at that time Europe was more than ever in uproar one could no longer rely on a mostly reliable postal service. The following letters are therefore written with much longer and irregular intervals. Some of them have probably also been lost. He finally arrived in Vienna and is full of admiration for the beautiful nature and especially the immediate vicinity of Vienna. He will soon have access to the Viennese hospital “as big as Sneek”. About his experience in the medical field, we read nothing.

Remarkable, but also very understandable, is that in his very extensive travelogue he never touches politics and the political situation in The Netherlands. Only in the letter of 8 January 1814 he strikes a different tone.

Noteworthy is the next consideration in response to a communication from his father that the Netherlands is plagued by “sinking fevers”. “I believe that this is a typhus which rages throughout Europe, in the military hospitals and at home. With this disease appear often other symptoms, such as an inflammation of the intestines or the lungs or the brains. Also called heavy colds, catarrh appear and so forth. And when the doctors see these heavy colds, they assess the disease to its outer appearance, so the man to his garment”.

He adds, however modestly: “it is very possible that I am wrong, since would not claim to be the man able to judge, which gladly confess to be far too feeble”.

The last of the letters in my possession of 16 February, 9 March and 20 March 1814 contain nothing that is worth to be mentioned here. He departed from Vienna on the 25th of February 1814 and he reached safe and sound back in Berlin after travelling night and day, often in an open carriage, after passing regions and cities that were almost completely destroyed in the battle of the allies against NAPOLEON. The battlefield at Culm made a deep impression on him. A proposal by his father to consult HUFELAND about serving in “the army” as a military doctor, found little agreement with him because of the high mortality rate among the doctors in military hospitals. He did however visit HUFELAND again, who had had resumed his professorial position in Berlin: he was even invited to a party one evening. However, when he learned of the death of his mother, his longing for the fatherland became too strong and he soon returned there, safe and sound, and rich in experience.

He settled in Harlingen, got married and could look forward to a busy medical practice. In 1846 he died in full activity, with the at the time so dreaded “doctor disease”, presumably Febris Typhoidea.

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