Browne, Edward (1644-1708) (DNB00)

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BROWNE, EDWARD (1644–1708), physician, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Browne of Norwich [q. v.], and was born in that city in 1644. He was educated at the Norwich grammar school and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He graduated M.B. at Cambridge 1663, and then returned to Norwich. A journal of this period of his life is extant, and gives an amusing picture of his diversions and occupations, and of life in Norwich. Browne often went to dances at the duke's palace, admired the gems preserved there, and learnt to play ombre from the duke's brother. He dissected nearly every day, sometimes a dog, sometimes a monkey, a calf's leg, a turkey's heart. He studied botany, read medicine and literature and theology in his father's library, and saw at least one patient. '16 Feb. Mrs. Anne Ward gave me my first fee, ten shillings.' A week after this important event Browne went to London. He attended the lectures of Dr. Teme, physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, whose daughter Henrietta he married in 1672. His notes of Dr. Teme's lectures exist in manuscript in the British Museum. When the lectures were ended, Browne returned to Norwich, and soon after started on his travels. He went to Italy and came home through France, and it is by his description of this and of several subsequent journeys that he is best known. In 1668 he sailed to Rotterdam from Yarmouth and went to Leyden, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, visiting museums, libraries, and churches, attending lectures, and conversing with the learned. He went on to Antwerp, and ended his journey at Cologne on 10 Oct. 1668. His next journey was to Vienna, where he made friends with the imperial librarian Lambecius, and enjoyed many excursions and much learned conversation. He seems to have studied Greek colloquially, and brought back letters from a learned Greek in his own tongue to Dr. Pearson, the bishop of Chester, and to Dr. Barrow, the master of Trinity. From Vienna Browne made three long journeys, one to the mines of Hungary, one into Thessaly, and one into Styria and Carinthia. Wherever he went he observed all objects natural and historical, as well as everything bearing on his profession. He sketched in a stiff manner, and some of his drawings are preserved (British Museum). At Buda he came into the oriental world, and at Larissa he saw the Grand Seigneur. Here he studied Greek remains, and followed in imagination the practice of Hippocrates. He returned to England in 1669, out made one more tour in 1673 in company with Sir Joseph Williamson, Sir Leoline Jenkins, and Lord Peterborough. He visited Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Liège, Louvain, Ghent, Bruges, and other towns of the Low Countries, and saw all that was to be seen. He published in London in 1673 a small quarto volume called 'A Brief Account of some Travels in Hungaria, Styria, Bulgaria, Thessaly, Austria, Serbia, Carynthia, Carniola, and Friuli;' another volume appeared in 1677, and in 1685 a collection of all his travels in one volume folio. It contains some small alterations and some additions. In 1672 he published in 12mo a translation of a 'History' of the Cossacks,' and he wrote the lives of Themistocles and Sertorius in Dryden's 'Plutarch,' published in 1700.

In 1667 Browne had been elected F.R.S., and in 1675 was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians. He lived in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street (College of Physicians Lists), and became physician to the king. He was elected physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital 7 Sept. 1682 (MS. Journal, St Barth. Hosp.); was treasurer of the College of Physicians 1694–1704, and president 1704–1708. He had a large practice, and enjoyed the friendship of many men in power. A Grub Street writer attributes part of his good fortune to the favour of one of Charles II's mistresses ; but the statement has no foundation in fact. Browne's professional success was due to his general capacity and interesting conversation. His note-books show that be laboured hard at his profession, and that through good introductions he early became known to many physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries. In 1673 he had already met in consultation thirteen physicians and ten surgeons (Sloane MS, 1895). A great many letters and notes in his handwriting are to be found among the Sloane MSS. Amongst them is the earliest known copy of the 'Pharmacopœia' of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. It is edited 1670, and some of its prescriptions were the subject of correspondence between Browne and his father. Browne died at Northfleet, Kent (Munk, Coll. of Phys. i. 376), on 28 Aug. 1708, and left a son Thomas (1672-1710) [q.v.] And a daughter. He is buried at Northfleet. Browne's travels are spoken of by Dr. Johnson with small respect, and their style cannot be commended. The best that can be said of them is that they contain many interesting facts, and that their information is exact. They may be read with pleasure if viewed as a table of contents of the mind of a well-read Englishman of King Charles II's days. Browne had read a good deal of Greek as well as of Latin, the fathers as well as the classical authors. He was also well versed in new books ; he had read Ashmole's 'Order of the Garter,' La Martinière's 'Arctic Travels,' and did not even despise the last new novel, but quotes the Duchess of Newcastle's 'New Blazing World' (Travels, ed. 1685, pp. 97, 99, 123) in the year of its publication. He loved his father, and inherited his tastes, and, if practice had not engrossed too much of his time, might have written books as good as the 'Vulgar Errors' or the 'Hydriotaphia.' Deeper editations like those of the 'Religio Medici' were probably foreign to his nature. In a taste for every kind of information, in regard for his profession, in warm family affections, and in upright principles and conduct, he resembled his father ; but the deeper strain of thought which is to be found in Sir Thomas Browne is nowhere to be traced in the writings of his eldest son.

[Sloane MSS. in British Museum, 1895-7; Wilkins's Works of Sir Thomas Browne ; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 1878 ; Works.]

N. M.