Fagge, Charles Hilton (DNB00)

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FAGGE, CHARLES HILTON (1838–1883), physician, son of Charles Fagge, a medical practitioner, and nephew of John Hilton [q. v.], was born at Hythe in Kent on 30 June 1838. Fagge entered Guy's Hospital medical school in October 1856, and in 1859, at the first M.B. examination at the university of London, gained three scholarships and gold medals, an almost unparalleled distinction; in 1861, at the final M.B. examination, he gained scholarships and gold medals for medicine and for physiology, and a gold medal for surgery. In 1863 he graduated M.D., in 1864 became a member, and in 1870 a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. After being demonstrator of anatomy from 1862 to 1866, Fagge became medical registrar of Guy's in 1866, assistant physician in 1867, and physician in 1880. He was for some years demonstrator of morbid anatomy, lecturer on pathology, and curator of the museum at Guy's. He for some years edited the ‘Guy's Hospital Reports,’ and at the time of his death was examiner in medicine to the university of London. For about a year and a half he had suffered from aneurysm of the aorta, but he continued to work on his treatise on medicine, which had occupied him for twelve years or more. He had been occupied for many hours on the last day of his life in reading examination papers, when he was seized with difficulty of breathing, and died in half an hour on 18 Nov. 1883, at his house in Grosvenor Street, in his forty-sixth year.

As a consulting physician Fagge was rapidly rising to the front rank, owing to his remarkable painstaking in the investigation of cases. His original papers and his ‘Principles and Practice of Medicine,’ published in 1886, with important additions by Drs. Wilks and Pye-Smith, the latter having edited the work, place him high among contributors to the scientific advancement of medicine. He was an accomplished clinical physician and a pathologist of very wide grasp, a thinker capable of gathering with infinite patience facts from all quarters, and of arranging them with singular skill so as to make obscure points clear. As a teacher he was accurate, minute, and much valued. He translated the first volume of Hebra's work on cutaneous diseases into English for the New Sydenham Society, and classified and catalogued the invaluable series of models of skin diseases in the museum of Guy's Hospital. He contributed several valuable papers on skin diseases to the ‘Guy's Hospital Reports,’ the most important being ‘On Scleriasis and Allied Affections,’ 1867. An admirable article on ‘Intestinal Obstruction’ appeared in the same reports in 1868. His article on ‘Valvular Disease of the Heart’ in Reynolds's ‘System of Medicine’ (vol. iv.) is a masterly one; others on ‘Mitral Contraction,’ ‘Acute Dilatation of the Stomach,’ ‘Abdominal Abscess,’ and on ‘Fibroid Disease of the Heart’ (‘Transactions of the Pathological Society,’ xxv. 64–98), are scarcely less notable. In conjunction with Dr. Thomas Stevenson, he made a series of researches on the application of physiological tests for digitaline and other poisons (Proc. Roy. Soc. 1865; Guy's Hospital Reports, 1866). But an account of the subjects on which he wrote original and valuable papers would traverse much of the most interesting ground in medicine. The ‘Lancet’ (1886, i. 20) describes his ‘Principles and Practice of Medicine’ as ‘one of the most scientific and philosophical works of its kind, being in truth a mine of clinical and pathological facts, which are dealt with in so masterly a manner that we know not which to admire most, the patient labour and thought expended in bringing them to light, the learning and acumen that illustrate them, or the calm and judicial spirit in which they are estimated and criticised.’ A second edition appeared in 1888. Fagge was of middle height, particularly quiet and unassuming in manner, and much beloved by those who knew him well. He left a widow and two daughters. A bronze tablet has been erected to his memory in the museum of Guy's Hospital.

[Guy's Hospital Reports, 1884, xxiii–xxxi.; Lancet, 1883, ii. 973, 1886, i. 20, 69; Brit. Med. Journal, 1883, ii. 1046; Medical Times, 1883, ii. 614.]

G. T. B.