Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nugent, Christopher (d.1775)

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NUGENT, CHRISTOPHER (d. 1775), physician, was born in Ireland and, after graduating M.D. in France, went into practice, first in the south of Ireland, and afterwards at Bath, where he had considerable success. In 1753 he published in London ‘An Essay on the Hydrophobia.’ The book begins with a clear account of the successful treatment by him in June 1751 of a servant-maid who had been bitten by a mad turnspit dog in two places, and had true hydrophobia. He treated her chiefly by powders of musk and cinnabar. In sixty-seven subsequent sections he discusses with good sense the mental and physical aspects

of the disease, its resemblance in some points to hysteria, and the method of action of various proposed remedies. Edmund Burke was his guest in 1756, and married his daughter Jane Mary early in 1757. Nugent himself was a Roman catholic; but his wife (Prior, Life of Burke, p. 49) is stated to have been a presbyterian, and to have brought up her daughter in that religion. Burke called his younger son Christopher, after his father-in-law. Early in 1764 Nugent removed to London, and was one of the nine original members of the Literary Club (Boswell, Johnson, ii. 93). He was constant in his attendance (ib. ii. 129), and was present when Boswell was admitted. In the imaginary college at St. Andrews, discussed with Johnson, he was to be professor of physic. He was observant of the ordinances of his church, and had an omelette on Friday at the club dinner, which is mentioned by Macaulay in a famous passage. One club day after Nugent's death Johnson exclaimed, ‘Ah! my poor friend, I shall never eat omelette with thee again’ (Mrs. Piozzi, Anecdotes, p. 122). His London house was at first in Queen Anne Street, and afterwards in Suffolk Street, Strand; and on 25 June 1765 he was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London. In the same year he was elected F.R.S. He died 12 Oct. 1775. Burke was deeply attached to him; Johnson's affectionate regard is shown by his lament at the club; and even Sir John Hawkins joined in the general liking for him (Hawkins, Life of Johnson, 2nd edit. p. 415). Dr. Benjamin Hoadley [q. v.] was one of his medical friends (Hydrophobia, p. 90).

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 268; Boswell's Life of Johnson, 7th ed. 1811; Prior's Memoir of Burke, London, 1824; Works.]

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