xt7k0p0wqc6n https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7k0p0wqc6n/data/mets.xml Brown, John Taylor, 1811-1901. 1903  books b92-186-30607424 English A. & C. Black, : London : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Brown, John, 1810-1882. Authors, Scottish 19th century Biography.Dunlop, W. B. Dr. John Brown  : a biography and a criticism / by the late John Taylor Brown ... ; edited, with a short sketch of the biographer, by W.B. Dunlop, M.A. text Dr. John Brown  : a biography and a criticism / by the late John Taylor Brown ... ; edited, with a short sketch of the biographer, by W.B. Dunlop, M.A. 1903 2002 true xt7k0p0wqc6n section xt7k0p0wqc6n 

Wk0 : /

         DR JOHN BROWN
from a Remarque aO the margin of an etched portrait of
      DTJohn Brown byCharles O.Murray


Dr. John Brown

  A :Giograpbh   anO a Criticinil

            By the late
      John Taylor Brown
         LL.D., F.S.A. (Scot.)

    WTith a short Sketch of the Biographer

XV . B. Dunlop,


Adam  Charles Black


 This page in the original text is blank.


       to the Memorno  of

         DR. JOHN BROWN




               O F

          JOHN HEUGH



             AND OF



  "As . began this work to entertain and instruct
myself, so, if an-y other find entertainment or profit
by it, let him lise it freely, judge honourably of my
friend, and moleratelv of me, which is all the return
that out of this barren stock can be desired or
expected."-Lurd Brooke's Life qf thie Renonied Sir
Philip Sidney.


            THE EDITOR

TuE AIS. of "Dr. John Brown, a Bio-
graphy and a Criticism," came into my
hands on the death, in 1901, in his ninety-
first year, of my uncle, the late John
Taylor Brown. It is only just to his
memory that I should explain that the
MS. as I found it was unfinished, though
he was engaged on this, his labour of
love, to within a few days of his death.
Considerable portions of it had never
been finally revised by the biographer;
part of it was written, sometimes in
pencil hardly decipherable, on odd sheets
and half sheets, on old envelopes, news-


Introductory Note

paper wfappers, ard other scraps of paper,
often without anything to indicate the
corntinui-ly of the narrative. And there
were frequently many versions of the
same passage, without even an indication
which Vrersion the biographer intended
to adopt.   In these circumstances, my
endeavour has been to discriminate be-
tween thy various versions and to attempt
to Unite mny uncle's ipsissima verba, inter-
polating as little as possible of my own-
for the riost part, only a few words here
and there to connect the different portions
of the MS.
  I would ask the reader to deal gently
with any lack of continuity or literary
finish, wbich he may discover, or at least
to Ly the blame of any such defects,
not upon the biographer, who has been
described by a critic as a " master of
Engl-ish v ure and undefiled," but rather
upon one whose lot in life has been


Introductory Note

cast in paths far removed from those
of literary effort.
  I have appended to the Biography of
Dr. John Brown and the Criticism of his
literary work, a short notice of the bio-
grapher himself, which I have thought
might possibly prove of interest to some
of the readers of Dr. John Brown's Life.

                       WV. B. DUNLOP.
    Aug ust 190(3.


 This page in the original text is blank.



I HAVE sometimes been inclined to think
that IDr. John Brown had thrown so much
of his own beautiful character into his
writings that any other memorial of him
was not only superfluous, but might even
be in dancrer of impairing the true im-
pression of himni which had already been
sufficiently given by himself. And it is
therefore with  some hesitation that I
venture upon the attempt to record what
an intimacy of over fifty years may enable
ine to recall of a very remarkable and a
very attractive personality. Something,
however, as it seems to me, is still wanted
to define the exact character and value
of his literary work. One generally hears
him spoken of as the author of Rab and



nuts Friends, as if he had produced nothing
else worth notice except that and one or
two ether, certainly most beautiful and
touching narratives. But there is much
wise in his work which exhibits very
specia. power as a thinker, as an acute
critic both of art and of literature, and
a shrewd expounder of various practical
questions. All this seemed to me to
deserve being brought into greater prom-
inence and to receive more attention than
t had yet obtained. Whether the follow-
ing pages will have this effect it is not for
ir.e to determine. But it is well at least
thiat thie attempt should be made, for even
if it does not succeed (and I am very
censci')us of its imperfection) it may
'upply the groundwork and suggestion of
what -nay be better done by some other
pen than that of the present writer can be
hoped by him to effect.
                          J. T. BROWN.





"LocKE AND SYDENTHAl".   .    .   .  127

"NOTES ON ART   .    .   .   .    .  143

" LFTTER TO DR. CAIRNS   .   .    .  163

" DR. CHAI.AI\ RS   .        .    .  183

" Tin, LAxS'I HALF-CROWN .   .    .  196

"ARTHUR HALLAM       .   .   .    .  198

APEN-DIX    .   .   .    .   .    .  211





I)R. JOHN BROWN (photogravure)

  (two portraits).
Jong BROWN   .

gra vure)


Facing p. 90

   ,,  126

   ,,  225



   Part I.


 This page in the original text is blank.


       Dr. John Brown


DR. JOHN. BROWN used to say that he
was the fifth John Brown of his family in
direct succession, and I have an idea that
he inherited something from all his
forebears. Of the first John, indeed, John
Brown the customary weaver of Carpow,
we know nothing. " He died and made
no sign," at least none that has come
down to us. But all the others were men
of marked character, intellect and worth.
His great-grandfather, in particular, John
Brown of Haddington, must have had
some of the elements of a very true great-
ness. Left an orphan, utterly unprovided


          Dr. John Brown

f-r, at the age of twelve, bare-footed, ill-
ciad, and with almost no school-training,
As one month only, without his parents'
allowance, bestowed upon the Latin," and
seilt to herd sheep upon the hills about
_beriiethy, he contrived, like the younger
Scaliger, to acquire a knowledge of Greek
without the aid of Grammar or Lexicon;
ard after carrying a pack, keeping a
sihool  contending  with   ecclesiastical
bigots who accused him of getting his
learnivg from the Devil ! and, it is said,
serving as a soldier of the volunteers in
the rebellion of 1745, fought his way into
the ministry of the Secession Church,
and finally into the Professor's chair of
Divinity. The other two John Browns,
his father and grandfather, were both men
of mi rk in their day. His father, in
particular, was distinguished as a master
in biblical interpretation, as an accom-
p11shed' scholar, a great preacher, and a
man of wide learning and powerful
intellect. The distinguishing character-


          Dr. John Brown

istics of the race may, I think, be said to
have been intellectual vigour, singular
purity of life, piety towards God, and
a remarkable serenity and benignity
of temper. And all these were trans-
mitted in amntple measure to the author
of the Horw(e SiubscCivW.  Aldith him,
however, they blossomed out into genius
which, it may be admitted, had hardly as
yet been developed in the family. Those
who had gone before him were chiefly
inen of great acquiring pow er--mlen of
learning with strong sense and reasoning
ability, but not distinctively gifted with
original or inventive faculty. John of
Hladdington, indeed, must have seen a
good deal of various life, and was certainly
something more than a mere scholar.
According to traditions still surviving in
the family, he possessed a considerable
power of dealing with men, and a faculty
of ready retort or repartee which must
have made him rather a dangerous subject
to attack or contend with. These features


          Dr. John Brown

of character were not perhaps particularly
conspicuous  in  his  more  immediate
descendants, John of Whitburn and the
first Dr. John, the father, but they dis-
tinctl-v revived in the last inheritor of the
name. He liked, as he once told me, to
' manage people," and few who knew him
could dolot that he generally succeeded;
and was s-eldorn at a loss, I think, for a
quiclk retort - usually, however, rather
humrorous and kindly than cutting or
severe, th.ough the sting was not wanting
if the occasion required it.
  Trhe external events of Dr. John
Brownl's life were so few that they may
almcst be told in half a dozen sentences.
He was born in the old Secession Manse
of B'igg,,i in Lanarkshire, on the 23rd of
September 1810. He came to Edinburgh
whena a little more than eleven years
of age w Mlay 1822. His early educa-
tion up to that time had been con-
ducted, I believe,- entirely by his father
in priv Le. On coming to Edinburgh


           Dr. John Brown

 he went to a Latin school kept by
 Willi am  Steele, a good but somewhat
 severe master, and not one, I suspect,
 very capable of infusing into his scholars
 an interest in classical literature, or, to
 use an expression of TIr. Thackeray's, of
 relieving them  roin the " nightmare of
 TV7TW." In October 1824 he passed
 into the Rector's class in the High School.
 then under Dr. Carson, a mnan of a
 different stamp, gentle and kindly, an
 admirable teacher and an excellent man.
 Here he remained till August 1826, enter-
 ing the University in the November
 following. In MIay 1827 he commenced
 the study of medicine, beginning at the
 same time his apprenticeship with iMr.
 Syme the great surgeon.    In 1833 he
 obtained his degree of I. D., anld immedi-
 ately began practice in Edinburgh. In
 ,June 1840 he was     Carried  to  IIiss
 Catherine MIKay.   In March 1846 his
 literary career miay be said to have coln-
mneced with the publication of those


          I)r. John Brown

remarkable criticisms on Art which origin-
ally appealed in the Wititess newspaper
of that date. In 1849 these were followed
by his paper on Locke and Sydenham in
the Nort/ British Review. My impres-
sion is tlhat it was this paper which
brought h im the friendship of Lord
Jeffrey anldt Lord Cockburn; and between
this tinie and 1855 he became closely
intimate with AIr. Ruskin and Mr.
Thackevayv  In 1858 his friend the late
AMr. Thomas Constable induced him to
publish the first volume of his collected
essays in which "' Rab and his Friends"
appeared. This was followed by another
volume in 1861. The last, I think, of
his writings appeared about 1866, his
period of literary activity thus extending
over exact'y twenty years. On the 6th
of' January 1864 (a day ever afterwards
sadly recalled by him as the year came
round,, his Leautiful and excellent wife was
taken from him after long, most painful, and
hopeless suffering. Last of all, his own


         Dr. John Brown

death took place on the 11th of Mlay 1882,
at the age of seventy-one years and seven
and a half months. His family consisted
of' a son and two daughters, of whom
the son-the sixth John Brown--alone
  Mly first acquaintance with him was in
May 1822, immediately after his coming
to Edinburgh. I met him at a boys' and
girls' party ill my uncle David's in
Buceleuch Place, of which I can only
recollect that he made us all laugh by
some outbreak of odd or funny remark-
so that I suppose his huumour had begun
to show itself even then. What his life
before that had been 1 can only con-
jecture; he never spoke much about it to
me. But I used to suspect that not a
little of what constituted the prevailing
features of his character was more or less
due to his early upbringing. Even when
a child he had shown a good deal of a
sensitive disposition, and he once told me
-what I have also heard from others--that


          Dr. John Brown

his mcother, shortly before her death, had
expressed some anxiety about him on this
ground. It is probable, therefore, that
the in-ipres; ions received in the Biggar
manse. whatever they were, would sink
pretty deep into his nature. His father,
though a Iran of great intellectual power,
was curiously silent, retiring and reticent,
absorbed in his work, dignified both in
person and manners, " not a man to be
trifled with." though in his inner nature
singularly devout, gentle, pure-minded
and benevolent. I rather fancy that there
was somnething of a solemn shadow per-
vading the early home. The elder Dr.
Brown had lost his mother, a woman, I
have understood, of remarkable beauty,
and no less remarkable character, when
hie was still t. boy, but old enough to have
recogn.sed ail her excellence, and to have
beconm  atta.lhed to her with all a boy's
enthusiastic love.  And, again, after a
few happy years of marriage, the light of
his life had gone out at the death of his


          Dr. John Brown

amiable wife, the mother of our Dr. John.
After this. I suspect, there was not very
much laughter in the Biggar house;
youthful spirits were perhaps kept under
some restraint, and the house had very
likely a pervading atmosphere of awe in
it-not altogether unfavourable, however,
to the growth of habits of filial reverence
and obedience, and of modest, humnble,
truthful dispositions. This, at least, was
the impression which the manners and
appearance of the children gave, when
their father came to Edinburgh in 1822.
After their mother's death they had been
brought up by their grandmother, and
they had all something of the look of
being ' grandmnother's children."  John,
ds 1 have already said, was at that time
not quite twelve years old. and when he
made his (ib/Jut among us, some of us
boys, I think, were inclined to smile at
his simple, primitive, country ways and
appearance. I remember particularly his
little short-tailed coat. made possibly by


          Dr. John Brown

the Bigrgar .ailor, to whom the fashions of
the Ecinburgh boy-world had not yet
penet. ated--the rest of us having at that
time adoptsd the round jacket for our
upper garn-ment.
  I remember, too, his old-fashioned
fatherly way with children a little younger
than hiniself. If they had been sick and
were recovering, perhaps, from the measles,
he would pat them patronisingly on the
head, atId give them a kindly sympathetic
look or word, just as his old grandfather of
Whitburn would have done. However,
simple, primitive, and old-fashioned or
not, he had -,.o lack of spirit or liveliness;
and as he .soon showed that he was a
match tor alny one in the school at Latin,
it was not long before he took a high
place in Stcele's third class ; and after-
wards at the Rector's class in the High
School he w Is entitled, at the end of his
two years' course, to stand second dux in
a class of, I think, considerably over one
hundred boys. By this time his look of


          Dr. John Brown

rural simplicity had pretty well gone off.
He still, however, carried himself in a
simple, modest, unaffected way, and his
lively, sociable, affectionate disposition
made him a very general favourite among
his schoolfellows. He was at this time
rather tall for his age, and had a lounging,
careless walk and gait, with a way of
leaning on the shoulders of those who
were near him, as if his legs were not
quite up to carrying his not very heavy
body-rather however, perhaps, as his
way of expressing his goodwill and
affection to the stoop on which he tested.
He was to all appearance strong and
healthy at that time, full of spirit and
courage, ready even to give wagers of
battle in the grounds about the Surgeons'
Hall, behind the High School, where
affairs of that kind were usually decided.
In the business of the class, I do not
remember that he was remarkable for
anything beyond the complete mastery
of the lessons. His translations, I have


          Dr. John Brown

no doubt, were correct enough, but other
boys used ;o produce more rounded and
elegant periods in their free renderings,
which Carson encouraged them to practise.
lie h.ld a quick as well as a retentive
memory. B3ut I do not think he was
betrayed byi it into slurring over his
lessons, which, on the contrary, were at
all tildes cal efully prepared at home. At
the sane time, he had always an easy,
careless, lounging way with him, as if
school-work gave him no trouble, and as
if' he were only half concerned about it.
Oddly enouigh, in one who afterwards
wrote so we ll. I have no recollection of
his taking ally part in writing the essays
which were given out at the short vacation,
at the " PrecIlchings " and the New Year.
Alap-drawhinr was made an alternative to
the essay, and John, if I mistake not,
habitually  prefevred  to  draw  a  map
instead of -writing an essay-so that his
artistic skill, which was afterwards so
striking, seens to have been an earlier
                   1 2


Dr. John Brown

growth than the literary tendency. I do
not think, either, that he paid much
attention to Latin verse-making, as most
of the boys of his standing used to do-
at least I have no recollection of his doing
so, and I discover no trace of it in the
"Course of Study " which Carson printed
at the end of thie yearly sessions. The
only notice of him which I find there, is
the statement that hle had read the whole
Iliad and Odiq.sscy (in Greek, of course)
as " private studies," i.e., in addition to the
regular work of the class.
  Mly recollection of him at this time, was
that he was still in all respects essentially
at boy; frank, good-humoured, a little odd,
a curious mixture of simplicity and sense,
companionable with his schoolfellows in
general, taking his due part in their sports,
their fun, their mischief; liking those that
were likeable and liked by them, and at-
taching himself to two or three who came
in his way, but carrying himself in careless
schoolboy fashion to all and sundry--in


          Dr. John Brown

short, with raanners and character still to a
considerable extent unformed, and giving
little indication of what he afterwards
became.   1 n a large public school it
generally happens that the higher boys
keep a good deal by themselves, and
mringlie little with those who take a lower
place in the class. But there was little or
nothing of this with John, and I rather
think that he had friends pretty well
throughout the class, and that Bob
Ainslie, the hero of a hundred fights, and
Lawrence Douglas, the hero of a hundred
"1 palmies," wsho drove Steele almost mad
to find that he made no more impression
on him with the tazwse than if he had
lashed a gooseberry-bush, were probably
as congenial to John as John Millar, the
great scholar, or Thomas Jackson Crawford,
the great Lacin versifier.
  I hav.e somve doubts if, notwithstanding
the high place he took in the class, he
cared much at the time for what he
learned either at Steele's or Carson's. As


         Dr. John Brown

he had a good memory, he found no great
difficulty in mastering the lessons; and as
his father naturally wished him to become
a good scholar, his sense of filial duty, I
have no doubt, had a good deal to do
with his success. But apart from this, I
suspect that he rather sighed for relief;
and though, after leaving school, he went
to college in the following November, I
think he only attended one or two of the
literary classes for one session, and a
private class (Mr. AW'alter Nichol's) for
mathematics, and then in the following
AMay took at once to the study of
  At this time,, there was probably the
making of a good many things in him. A
false step in the after course which they
take is not uncommon with boys who
have proved good scholars at school, and
it often needs some elasticity as well as
force of character to avoid doing so.
When a lad has succeeded well in Greek
and Latin. there is a temptation to keep
                   I 5


           Dr. John Brown

in the same line. He is supposed to be
marked out for one of the learned pro-
fessions, and so he sinks down into the
routine life of a schoolmaster, clergyman,
teache ., or pi ofessor of some kind, in which
Greek and Latin may still continue to
play the. principal part. And the end of
it is, that if you meet him again after
twenty years, you find that his intellect
has scarcely advanced a step. What he
gained att school is supposed to be all that
it was iecessary to gain. His mind has
settled into .a mere mechanical activity,
harping always on the old strings; has
ceased to expand or to obtain any further
outlook, and !ie passes away, having " un-
beseemed the, promise of his spring." A
number of J(,hn's compeers I suspect fell
into this snare. The better class of mind
is, in general, that which makes school and
college educ-ition simply the base and
starting-point for a new career. And
this was the case with him. Whether he
had then any marked predilection towards


          Dr. John Brown

medicine, I do not know. His maternal
grandfather and uncle were both, I have
understood, distinguished physicians in
their day, and there may, through them,
have been some hereditary tendency in
the same direction. But whatever were
the influences at work, a young man must
do something for his living, and I have
little doubt that it was a true instinct
which led him to make his " private
studies" in the Iliad and Ottlysse his
port of departure for a profession which,
more perhaps than any other he could
have chosen, tended to develop all the
best qualities of his intellect and of his
character-his benevolent and sympathetic
nature, his broad humanity, together with
his peculiar power of minute observation,
his habits of accurate knowledge and acute
discernment- shrewd skill in diagnosis, as
doctors call it --and I think I may add, the
decidedly practical character of his mind.
He once told ine that he was strongly
urged by some of his friends, at the time




          Dr. John Brown

when it became necessary to choose a
professiton, !o go into the ministry, and
that hie was thankful to have kept himself
from doing so.
  W\hzn he left the High School, and for
a considerable timne afterwards, the friend
to whom I think lie most attached him-
self was his class-fellow, John Millar, who.
both at Dr. Carson's and afterwards at
college, proved himself a first-rate classical
scholai. Ho carried off the gold medals
both in Greek and Latin at the High
School, and, according to John, oughit to
have obtain-Ad the gold medal in the Hu-
mnanity class at college, which, as he alleged,
was quite infairly adjudged to another.
Millar, on fiiishing his college course, pro-
ceeded to the study of divinity, but I
rather think did not prove acceptable as
a preacher. At all events, lie never got a
church. T'tiough a man of high character
and ability, lhe had a somewhat impractic-
able temper which, I suspect, considerably
marred his career in life. After various


          Dr. John Brown

ups and downs, he was, about 1843, ap-
pointed classical tutor in the Free Church
Divinity Hall, but got into some trouble
with the Principal which led to his resig-
nation.  He afterwards became Rector
of the Grammar School of Jedburgh,
where he seemed at length to have got
into his true sphere, but, in no long time
after, he was seized with fever, which cut
him off in his 42nd year (February 1855).
There is a touching reference to him in
the Lifr of' a Probationzer, by the late
Dr. James Brown of Paisley.    After
leaving school, the two friends carried on
some reading together in general litera-
ture, and recorded their thoughts and
criticisms upon it in a sort of album,
which John once showed me. Millar, I
remember, who, as became a dux, was no
way defective in self-confidence, gave his
own cogitations on the subljects in hand;
but John, with that curious shrinking from
venturing on anything of his own, which
he still seems to have retained, generally


I)r. John Brown

contented h.mself with quoting something
applicable tt, the matter from the Edin-
bmrgh Keviewn, which to him, as to liberal-
minded young Scotsmen at that time, I
suppose, constituted the chief standard of
taste and chief authority on questions of
literature and philosophy. His father had
a set of the Review in his library, and
John, I recollect, browsed a good deal on
the earlier volumes, and both knew well
and greatly enjoyed the best articles by
Jeffrey and Sydney Smith.
  Whern he began the study of medicine,
I lost sight of him for a number of years,
and of the details of his life at that time I
knew very hIttle. But there can be no
doubt that he emerged from his appren-
ticeship to Mir. Syme, well-equipped as a
physician. I know at least that M1r. Syme
was well sat: sfied with his work, and ex-
pressed himself very strongly to that
effect. His chief intimates at this time
were, I think, his cousin William Nimmo,
and Henry ilelfrage, the only son of his


          Dr. John Brown

father's friend, the Rev. Dr. Befifage of
Slateford, both of whom  were studying
medicine along with him. The latter of
these died very early. .John. I believe,
was very much attached to him, and one
trace of him I find in a couple of lines, to
which Henry's initials are appended, on
the back of the title-page of the first
volume of the How sitbsccivw, prob-
ably a quotation from a letter.  So he
had sent a loving backward glance upon
his early friend's memory when he first
became aln author. There are, h1owev er.
other traces--in the letter to Dr. Cairns.
etc. AWilliam N\immo, from what I have
heard, seems to have been a man of strong
character, vigorous intellect, a kind of
thorough-going energy, some coarseness
of nature, a rather imperfect morale, and a
considerable violent temper.  John liked
his strong nature, and was very intimate
with him, without, howeveer, being much
in sympathy with at least some of the
other prominent features of his character,


          Dr. John Brown

or coming mauch under his influence. He
went out to the West Indies about 1836,
at the invitation, I believe, of some
relatives, and returned after two or three
years, broken in health and spirits, partly
occasioned, I have understood, through
some harsh usage he had received which
his high spirit could not brook; and
reached Scotland only to die. I have just
used the w--ords "under his influence," and
I think I might extend the phrase a good
deal, foe I do not think that either now
or after-wards John's character was much
affected by any one with whom he became
intimate. Even at this early period his
moral natuie was, I believe, in all
material points well established. He was
never in the way of shrinking from com-
panionship of any kind, and both in his
medical student life and afterwards, well
knew, and c;ame freely in contact with,
various forms of good and evil; but I
believe I may state with absolute cer-
tainty that ill his own conduct he never


Dr. John Brown

deviated from the even tenor of a pure
and good life. He was, therefore, more
in a position to influence than to be influ-
enced, and I rather think that his friend-
ships were sometimes a good deal founded
on the desire to be helpful to the friend he
had chosen, than on any hope of good to
come to himself. There was a curiously
benevolent tendency in his nature.
  I do not know when he first became
impressed with those strong views of the
necessity of a considerably wider culture
to a physician than that which is merely
professional, which he urges so persist-
ently in the first volume of the Horne
Subsccivw. And it may have struck
the reader as rather inconsistent with
these opinions, that he should have entered
on his own medical studies with little
more than his school-learning as a founda-
tion.  A  lad, however, with any clear
tendency to an active life is always im-
patient to commence his course of action,
and it is generally only afterwards that


           Dr. John Brown

 he becomes conscious of his defects.
 But, howevcr that may have been, it
 is certain that in his case a tolerably
 wide reading, both in general literature
 and in philrsophy, went hand in hand
 with his medical studies. It is impossible
 now to specify very particularly what
 that recrding wvas.  Naturally enough, it
 would be to somie extent desultory, and
 I believe it was so. But to a powerfully
 reflective mind like his, even the most
 desultory reacing would supply what was
 necessary to the exercise of much of his
 best thou.oht: and though the literature
 of the hour occupied a sufficiently large
 place in his attention, both his father's
 fine library and others were made avail-
 able for all that was best in the older
 English classis-s. Not a little attention
 too was. I believe, given to metaphysical
 and   mental    philosophy.    Berkeley's
 Sins, The 3ny itde Pllilosophlien, and one
or two others of his works; Mackintosh,
Dugald   So.tewart, and  at a later time


Dr. John Brown

Sir William Hamilton-all came in his
way.   Poetry I know in particular was
not overlooked, and it was about this
time I believe that he made himself more
or less familiar with the best of the
older English poets. W1"ordsworth, among
the contemporary poets, I know that he
very early learned to love; and when I
became intimate with him some years
afterwards, I found that both his works
and those of Coleridge had been much in
his hands. Byron he very soon ceased
to care for, and I remember that he hailed
with a cordial assent the estimate placed
upon him by Sir Henry Taylor in the
preface to his Philip) z'6ai ArteczL'lde.
  After about five years under Mr. Syme,
he went, by his recommendation, as as-
sistant to a medical man in Chatham,
and remained there about a year. One
incident of his life there which John,
with characteristic modesty, had never
mentioned, came out in a curious way,
many years afterwards, and is worth


          D'. John Brown

telling. On one of Mr. Charles Dickens's
last visits to Scotland, John happened to
meet him a- the late Sheriff Gordon's.
In the course of conversation, Dickens,
who was a native of Rochester, which is
close by Chatham, said that the thing
which had first given him a strongly
favourable impression of the character of
Scotsmen was what had occurred at
Chatham in the year 1882, when the out-
break of cholera took place there.  A
great panic was immediately produced
among the English medical men, and
every one of them fled from the place,
with the single exception of a young
Scotsman, an assistant to one of the
doctors, X ho stuck firmly to his duties
and freely attended to every case he was
called to. It then turned out that the
young Scotsman was no other than the
Dr. Brcown M ho was sitting opposite to
him at table. upon which, Dickens im-
mediately caine round and shook him
cordially by the hand. The incident was


          Dr. John Brown

quite what I would have expected of
  In August 1833, shortly after returning
to Scotland, he obtained his degree of
I.D., and immediately began practice in
Edinburgh. During his medical student
life, as I have already said, I had almost
entirely lost sight of him, and we very
seldom  met.  But in the concluding
months of 1833, 1 was attending Pro-
fessor Wilson's class of moral philosophy,
and John had a habit of occasiona