Green, Joseph Henry (DNB00)

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GREEN, JOSEPH HENRY (1791–1863), surgeon, only son of Joseph Green, a prosperous city merchant, was born on 1 Nov. 1791, at the house over his father's office in London Wall. His mother was Frances Cline, sister of Henry Cline, the well-known surgeon [q. v.] At the age of fifteen he went to Germany and studied for three years at various places, his mother accompanying him. He was then apprenticed at the College of Surgeons to his uncle, Henry Cline, and followed the practice at St. Thomas's Hospital. While still a pupil he married, on 25 May 1813, Anne Eliza Hammond, daughter of a surgeon, and sister of a class-fellow. On 1 Dec. 1815 he received the diploma of the College of Surgeons, and set up in surgical practice in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he remained until his retirement to the country. In 1813 he had been appointed demonstrator of anatomy (unpaid) at St. Thomas's Hospital, an office with various duties wherein he had many opportunities of lecturing, teaching in the wards, and operating. In the autumn of 1817 he went to Berlin to take a private course of instruction in philosophy with Solger, to whom he had been recommended by Ludwig Tieck when the latter visited London. He had already made acquaintance with Coleridge, who came to meet Tieck more than once at Green's house. Previous to 1820 he had published anonymously 'Outlines of a Course of Dissections,' and in that year he enlarged the book into his 'Dissector's Manual,' with plates, said to have been the first work of the same kind or scope yet published. In 1820 he was elected surgeon to St. Thomas's Hospital, on the premature death of his cousin, Henry Cline the younger. In 1824 he became professor of anatomy at the College of Surgeons, in which office he delivered four annual courses of twelve lectures on comparative anatomy. According to Owen, these were the first survey of the animal kingdom given with sufficient illustrations in lectures in this country, the German text-book of Carus being the acknowledged basis. In 1825 he was elected into the Royal Society (he wrote no original memoirs except an unimportant piece in 'Med.- Chir. Trans.' xii. 46). In the same year he became professor of anatomy to the Royal Academy, then located at Somerset House, where he gave six lectures a year (with extra instruction) on anatomy in its relation to the fine arts; two of his lectures (on 'Beauty' and on 'Expression') were published in the 'Athenæum,' 16 and 23 Dec. 1843. He retired from this office in 1852. From 1818 he had shared the lectureship first on anatomy and then on surgery at St. Thomas's with Sir Astley Cooper, who retired in 1825, and wished to assign his share of the lectures to his two nephews, Bransby Cooper and Aston Key. Green, who had paid Cooper 1,000l. for his own half share, acquiesced, but the hospital authorities did not, whereupon Sir Astley started lectures in connection with Guy's Hospital, which had up to that time sent its pupils to the medical school of St. Thomas's. The claims made by the Cooper family to one half of the museum led to a quarrel. Green's part in it was a bulky pamphlet ('Letter to Sir Astley Cooper on the Establishment of an Anatomical and Surgical School at Guy's Hospital,' London, 1825), which stated the legal case acutely, while it kept the way open for future friendly relations between him and Messrs. B. Cooper and Key. On the establishment of King's College in 1830, Green accepted the chair of surgery. He had high repute as an operator, especially in lithotomy, for which he always used Cline's gorget. He published, chiefly in the 'Lancet,' a large number of lectures, clinical comments, and cases. In 1832 he gave the opening address (published) of the winter session, taking as his subject the functions or duties of the professions of divinity, law, and medicine according to Coleridge.

Green had now for fifteen years been a disciple of the Highgate philosopher; even when his time was most occupied with a large private practice and his hospital duties (from 1824 onwards), he spent with Coleridge much time in private talk (Simon). In his 'Poetical Works,' Coleridge inserted two indifferent pieces of verse by Green (Pickering's ed. of 1847, vol. ii.), 'being anxious to associate the name of a most dear and honoured friend with my own.' It was arranged between them that Green was to be his literary executor, and he was so named in Coleridge's will. He was to dispose of manuscripts and books for the benefit of the family; but as many of the books (with annotations) would be necessary for the carrying out of another part of Green's executory duties, namely the publication of a system of Coleridgean philosophy, Green was enjoined, in so many words, to purchase the books himself, which he did. They are now widely dispersed, about a fourth of them being in the British Museum, a large number in the possession of Coleridge's descendants, and many others in private hands, both here and in the United States [see under Coleridge, Samuel Taylor]. On being accused in 1854 by C. M. Ingleby in 'Notes and Queries' (1st ser. ix. 497) of withholding from publication important treatises which Coleridge had left more or less ready for the press, Green wrote (ib. 1st ser. ix. 543) to explain what it was that he held in trust from Coleridge. In the same year that Coleridge died (1834), Green's father also died and left him a large fortune. Accepting Coleridge's legacy of his ideas as 'an obligation to devote, so far as necessary, the whole remaining strength and earnestness of his life to the one task of systematising, developing, and establishing the doctrines of the Coleridgean philosophy' (Simon), Green in 1836 threw up his private practice in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and lived for the rest of his life at The Mount, Hadley, near Barnet. He resigned also in 1837 his chair at King's College, but retained for seventeen years longer (until 1852) the surgeoncy to St. Thomas's Hospital, and a share of the lectures on surgery for part of that time. In 1835 the council of the College of Surgeons had chosen him for life into their body; he was elected a member of the court of examiners in 1846 (also a life appointment), and twice filled the office of president of the college (1849-50 and 1858-9). In the college councils he advocated reforms on a 'paternal' basis; the amended constitution of 1843, providing for a new class of fellows and the election of the council by the fellows, was in accord with his views published in a pamphlet in 1841 ('The Touchstone of Medical Reform'). He had already published two pamphlets on medical education and reform: 'Distinction without Separation: a Letter on the Present State of the Profession,' 1831, and 'Suggestions respecting Medical Reform,' 1834. As Hunterian orator at the college in 1841 he gave before a distinguished audience an address, eloquent, but difficult to follow, on 'Vital Dynamics,' being an attempt to connect science with the philosophy of Coleridge. Re-appointed Hunterian orator in 1847, he supplemented his former Coleridgean exposition with another equally incomprehensible to his hearers, on 'Mental Dynamics; or, Groundwork of a Professional Education.' In 1853 he was made D.C.L. at Oxford, on the occasion of Lord Derby's installation as chancellor. The General Medical Council having been established by the Medical Act of 1858, Green became the representative on it of the College of Surgeons. Two years after he was appointed by the government president in succession to Sir B. Brodie, and held that office until his death. During the thirty years that he lived after Coleridge's death, the bequest of the latter, to arrange and publish his ideas, was seldom absent from Green's mind. With a view to a great synthesis, he undertook a vast course of reading, revived his knowledge of Greek, learned Hebrew, and made some progress in Sanscrit. An introduction by him to the 'Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit' is prefixed to the edition of 1849. He made slow progress with the system; but before he died he had compiled a work from Coleridge's marginalia, fragments, and recollected oral teaching, under the title 'Spiritual Philosophy, founded on the teaching of S. T.Coleridge,' which was brought out, in two volumes (1865), with a memoir of Green, by his friend and former pupil Sir John Simon. The first volume, of which the first chapter was dictated to Green by Coleridge himself, is occupied with a groundwork of principles; the second volume is wholly theological. Having suffered in his later years from inherited gout, he had an acute seizure on 1 Nov. 1863, and died in his house at Hadley on 13 Dec. His wife survived him; he had no issue. He was distinguished by a fine presence, oratorical ability, and cool judgment as a surgeon.

[Memoir by Sir J. Simon, prefixed to Spiritual Philosophy; Med. Times and Gaz. 1863, vol. ii.; Lancet, 1863, vol. ii.; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. 1854, ix. 543.]

C. C.