Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/26

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Brown
Brown
20


1867). For estimates of Brown from various points of view, see United Presbyterian Magazine, November 1858; North British Review, xxxiii.21; Scotsman, 14 Oct. 1858.]

F. W-t.

BROWN, JOHN (1797–1861), geographer, was bom at Dover 2 Aug. 1797. He served for some time as a midshipman in the East India Company's service. In March 1819 he was forced to leave the sea in consequence of a defect in his sight. He then became a diamond merchant and made a fortune. He took a keen interest in geographical exploration, and became a fellow of the Geographical Society in 1837. He presented a portrait of his friend Weddell (an explorer of the Antarctic circle) to the society in 1839, with a letter advocating further expeditions. In 1843 he obtained from Sir Robert Peel a pension for Weddell's widow. He was a founder of the Ethnological Society in the same year. He afterwards became conspicuous as an advocate of expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin. He defined the area which the expedition was ultimately found to have reached, but was not attended to at the time. In 1868 he published 'The North-west Passage and the Plans for the Search for Sir John Franklin: a review.' A second edition appeared in 1860. He was complimented on this work by Humboldt. Brown made large collections illustrative of Arctic adventure. He lost his wife in 1869, and died 7 Feb. 1861, leaving three sons and two daughters.

[Gent. Mag. 1861.]

BROWN, JOHN, M.D., (1810–1882), author of ‘Horæ Subsecivæ’ and ‘Rab and his Friends,’ was born on 22 Sept. 1810 at Biggar in Lanarkshire, and was the son of Dr. John Brown, the biblical scholar (1784–1858) [q. v.], who was at that time the secession minister there. His education at Biggar was conducted by his father in private, but on the removal of the latter to Edinburgh in 1822, John entered a classical school kept by Mr. William Steele, and at the end of two years passed on to the rector's class in the high school, then under the charge of Dr. Carson. Here he spent another two years, and at the end of that time, in November 1826, became a student in the arts classes of Edinburgh University. In 1828 he commenced the study of medicine, attending the usual college classes in that department, and at the same time becoming a pupil and apprentice of the eminent surgeon, Mr. Syme. In 1833 he graduated as doctor of medicine, and immediately after commenced practice in Edinburgh, where he spent the whole of his after life in the active exercise of his profession. As it is chiefly as a writer that Brown is likely to be permanently remembered, it is only necessary to say that in his medical capacity he was remarkable for his close and accurate observation of symptoms, skill and sagacity in the treatment of his cases, and conscientious attention to his patients. It may even be said that whatever position he may be thought to have taken in literature, he was first of all a physician thoroughly devoted to his profession, and, though not writing on strictly professional subjects, yet originally diverging into authorship on what may be called medical grounds. Naturally unambitious, it is doubtful if, with all his wide culture and enthusiastic love of literature, he would ever, but for his love of his profession, have been induced to appear before the world as an author at all. It is observable that the whole of the first volume of ‘Horæ Subsecivæ’—perhaps, though not the most popular, yet the most substantially valuable of the whole series—is almost exclusively devoted to subjects intimately bearing on the practice of medicine. The importance of wide general culture to a physician; the necessity of attending to nature's own methods of cure, and leaving much to her recuperative power rather than to medicinal prescriptions; the distinction to be always kept in view between medicine as a science and medicine as an art; the necessity of constant attention being paid to the distinctive symptoms of each individual case as a means of determining the special treatment to be adopted; and, in general, the value of presence of mind, ‘nearness of the nous’ (ἀγχίνοια) in a physician—these and the like points are what he is never tired of inculcating and illustrating in almost every page of the volume. And even ‘Rab and his Friends’ belongs properly to medicine, and serves to withdraw the physician from exclusive recognition of science in the exercise of his profession, and to bring him tenderly back to humanity.

In the two later volumes of the ‘Horæ’ Brown's pen took a somewhat wider range. He had, we suppose, discovered his own strength in authorship, and found that he had other things in his mind besides medicine on which he had something to say. Poetry, art, the nature and ways of dogs, human character as displayed in men and women whom he had intimately known, the scenery of his native country with its associations romantic or tender—all these come in for review, and on all of them he writes with a curiously naïve and original humour, and, as it seems to us, a singularly deep and true insight. One great charm of his writings is that, as with those of Montaigne and