Gwinne, Matthew (DNB00)

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GWINNE, MATTHEW, M.D. (1558?–1627), physician, of Welsh descent, son of Edward Gwinne, grocer, was born in London. On 28 April 1570 he was entered at Merchant Taylors' School (Robinson, Reg. Merchant Taylors' School, p. 14). He was elected to a scholarship at St. John's College, Oxford, in 1574, and afterwards became a fellow of that foundation. He proceeded B.A. 14 May 1578, and M.A. 4 May 1582 (Reg. Univ. Oxf., Oxf. Hist. Soc., ii. iii. 75). In 1582, as a regent master, he read lectures in music, but on 19 Feb. 1583 he was allowed to discontinue the lecture, because 'suitable books were difficult to procure, and the practice of that science was unusual if not useless' (ib. ii. i. 100). In 1588 he was junior proctor (ib. ii. ii. 163). Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford in September 1592, and he took part as replier in moral philosophy in an academic disputation held for her amusement, and at the same time was appointed to 'oversee and provyde for the playes in Christ Church' (ib. ii. ii. 229, 230). He took the degree of M.B. 17 July 1593, and was the same day created M.D., on the recommendation of Lord Buckhurst, chancellor of the university, and in consideration of the fact that he had been engaged in the study of medicine, which then required no more than the reading of medical books for ten years; one of his 'quæstiones' on this occasion was 'whether the frequent use of tobacco was beneficial' (ib. ii. i. 127, 150, 190). In 1595 he went to France in attendance on Sir Henry Unton, the ambassador. When Gresham College was founded in London, Gwinne was nominated by the university of Oxford on 14 Feb. 1597 the first professor of physic (ib. ii. i. 233), and began to lecture in Michaelmas term 1598. The inaugural oration, with another, was published in 1605: 'Orationes duæ, Londini habitæ in ædibus Greshamiis in laudem Dei, Civitatis, Fundatoris, Electorum.' Like all his Latin prose compositions these orations are crowded with quotations, and have some ingenuity of expression, but few original thoughts. He was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London 30 Sept. 1600, and a fellow 22 Dec. 1605. He was six times censor, and twice held the office of registrar. In 1605 he was given the appointment of physician to the Tower. When in 1605 James I and Queen Anne visited Oxford, Gwinne disputed on physic with Sir William Paddy for the royal entertainment. The physicians selected for discussion, as likely to be interesting to a royal mother and a royal father, the questions whether the morals of nurses are imbibed by infants with their milk, and whether smoking tobacco is wholesome. The same evening at Magdalen College a play by Gwinne, entitled 'Vertumnus sive annus recurrens,' was acted by students of his own college, St. John's, and pleased the king, although it did not keep him awake. It was printed in London in 1607, with a preface praising the king, and with prefatory verses to Gwinne by Sir William Paddy and Dr. John Craig, the royal physicians. Gwinne resigned his Gresham professorship in 1607, and attained large professional practice. In 1611 was published his only medical work, entitled 'In assertorem Chymicæ sed veræ medicinæ desertorem Fra. Anthonium Matthæi Gwynn Philiatri &c. succincta adversaria,' and dedicated to James I [see Anthony, Francis]. Gwinne proves that Anthony's aurum potabile, as it was called, contained no gold, and that if it had, the virtues of gold as a medicine in no way corresponded to its value as a metal, and were few, if any. It is written in the form of a Latin dialogue between Anthony and his opponent, and in its complete and able, but slightly diffuse, exposure of an untenable position resembles Locke's refutation of Filmer. It deserves the praise prefixed to it in the laudatory verses of the physicians Paddy, Craig, Forster, Fryer, and Hammond. In 1620 Gwinne was appointed commissioner for inspecting tobacco. He was friendly with the chief literary men of the day, and was especially intimate with John Florio [q. v.], to whose works he contributed several commendatory sonnets under the pseudonym of 'Il Candido.' In the second dialogue of Giordano Bruno's 'La Cena de le Ceneri' (1584) Gwinne and Florio are represented by Bruno as introducing him to Lord Buckhurst, at whose house the three supped previous to holding a philosophic disputation. Gwinne lived in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street, London, and there died in October 1627. Besides the above-mentioned works he wrote: 1. 'Epicedium in obitum &c. Henrici comitis Derbiensis,' Oxford, 1593. 2. 'Nero,' London, 1603, and a second edition, 1639, a tragedy in Latin verse acted at St. John's College, Oxford (two English tragedies of 'Nero,' published respectively in 1607 and 1624 by unknown authors, are in no way similar to Gwinne's). 3. 'Oratio in laudem Musices,' first published in Ward's 'Gresham Professors.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 415; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 24487, ff. 224 sq.; Aikin's Biographical Memoirs of Medicine, 1780; Munk's Coll.of Phys. i. 118; Ward's Lives of Gresham Professors; Goodall's Coll. of Phys.; Gwinne's prefaces.]

N. M.