Quin, Frederic Hervey Foster (DNB00)

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QUIN, FREDERIC HERVEY FOSTER (1799–1878), the first homœopathic physician in England, was born in London on 12 Feb. 1799, and passed his early years at a school at Putney, kept by a son of Mrs. Sarah Trimmer [q. v.], the authoress. In 1817 he was sent to Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.D. on 1 Aug. 1820. In December 1820 he went to Rome as travelling physician to Elizabeth, duchess of Devonshire. He afterwards attended her in that city during her fatal illness in March 1824. On his return to London he was appointed physician to Napoleon I at St. Helena, but the emperor died (on 5 May 1821) before he left England. In July 1821 he commenced practice at Naples, and his social gifts made him popular with all the English residents there, who included Sir William Gell, Sir William Drummond, and the Countess of Blessington. At Naples, too, Quin met Dr. Neckar, a disciple of Hahnemann, the founder of homœopathy, and was favourably impressed by what he learned of the homœopathic system of medicine. After visiting Leipzig in 1826, in order to study its working, Quin returned to Naples a convert. On the journey he was introduced at Rome to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, afterwards king of the Belgians, and soon left Naples to become his family physician in England. Until May 1829 he continued a member of the prince's household either at Marlborough House, London, or Claremont, Surrey, and extended his acquaintance in aristocratic circles. From May 1829 to September 1831 he practised in Paris, chiefly, but not entirely, on the principles of Hahnemann. In September 1831, after consulting with Hahnemann as to the treatment of cholera, he proceeded to Tischnowitz in Moravia, where the disease was raging. He was himself attacked, but soon recommenced work, and remained until the cholera disappeared. His treatment consisted in giving camphor in the first stage, and ipecacuanha and arsenic subsequently.

At length, in July 1832, he settled in London at 19 King Street, St. James's, removing in 1833 to 13 Stratford Place, and introduced the homœopathic system into this country. The medical journals denounced him as a quack, but he made numerous converts, and his practice rapidly grew, owing as much to his attractive personality as to his medical skill. But the professional opposition was obstinately prolonged. In February 1838, when Quin was a candidate for election at the Athenæum Club, he was blackballed by a clique of physicians, led by John Ayrton Paris [q. v.], who privately attacked Quin with a virulence for which he had to apologise. From 26 June 1845 he was medical attendant to the Duchess of Cambridge.

In 1839 Quin completed the first volume of his translation of Hahnemann's ‘Materia Medica Pura,’ but a fire at his printers' destroyed the whole edition of five hundred copies, and failing health prevented him from reprinting the work. In 1843 he established a short-lived dispensary, called the St. James's Homœopathic Dispensary. In 1844 he founded the British Homœopathic Society, of which he was elected president. Chiefly through his exertions the London Homœopathic Hospital was founded in 1850. It became a permanent institution, and is now located in Great Ormond Street. On 18 Oct. 1859 he was appointed to the chair of therapeutics and materia medica in the medical school of the hospital, and gave a series of lectures.

Quin was popular in London society. In aristocratic, literary, artistic, and dramatic circles he was always welcome. He was almost the last of the wits of London society, and no dinner was considered a success without his presence. His friends included Dickens, Thackeray, the Bulwers, Macready, Landseer, and Charles Mathews. In manners, dress, and love of high-stepping horses he imitated Count D'Orsay. After suffering greatly from asthma, he died at the Garden Mansions, Queen Anne's Gate, Westminster, on 24 Nov. 1878, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on 28 Nov. He was the author of: 1. ‘Du Traitement Homœopathique du Choléra avec notes et appendice,’ Paris, 1832, dedicated to Louis-Philippe. 2. ‘Pharmacopœia Homœopathica,’ 1834, dedicated to the king of the Belgians. He also wrote a preface to the ‘British Homœopathic Pharmacopœia,’ published by the British Homœopathic Society in 1870, and was the editor of the second edition brought out in 1876.

[Hamilton's Memoir of F. H. F. Quin, 1879, with portrait; Madden's Literary Life of the Countess of Blessington, 1855, i. 191, ii. 26, 27, 111–14, 448–54, iii. 201; Lord Ronald Gower's My Reminiscences, 1883, ii. 251–4; Morning Post, 29 Nov. 1878, p. 5; Russell's Memoirs of Thomas Moore, 1854, vi. 318; Dickens's Life of C. J. Mathews, 1879, i. 102.]

G. C. B.