Anthony, Dr. Francis

, a noted empiric and chemist in the latter end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries, was the son of an eminent goldsmith in the city of London, who had an employment of considerable value in the jewel-office undef the reign of queen Elizabeth. He was born April 16, 1550; and having been carefully instructed in the first rudiments of learning while at home, was, about the year 1569, sent to the university of Cambridge, where he studied with great diligence and success, and some time in the year 1574 took the degree of master of arts. It appears from his own writings, that he applied himself for many years in that university, to the theory and practice of chemistry, with sedulous industry. He came up to London, probably before he attained the age of forty, and began soon after his arrival to publish to the world the effects of his chemical studies. In the year 1598, he sent abroad his first treatise, concerning the excellency of a medicine drawn from gold; but, not having taken the necessary precautions of applying to the college of physicians for their licence, he was, some time in the year 1600, summoned before the president and censors. Here he confessed that he had practised physic in London at least more than six months, and had cured twenty persons of several diseases, to whom he had given purging and vomiting physic, and to others, a diaphoretic medicine, prepared from gold and mercury, as their case required; but acknowledged that he had no licence, and being examined, in several parts of physic, and found inexpert, he was interdicted practice. About a month after, he was committed to the Counter-prison, and fined in the sum of five pounds “propter illicitam praxin” that is, for prescribing physic against the statutes and privilege of the college; but upon his application to the lord chief justice, he was set at liberty, which gave so great umbrage to the college, that the president and one of the censors waited on the chief justice, to request his favour in defending and | preserving the college privileges; upon which Mr. Anthony submitted himself, promised to pay his fine, and was forbidden practice. But not long after he was accused again of practising physic, and upon his own confession was fined five pounds; which, on his refusing to pay it, was increased to twenty pounds, and he committed to prison till he paid it; neither were the college satisfied with this, but commenced a suit at law against him in the name of the queen, as well as of the college, in which they succeeded, and obtained judgment against him; but after some time, were prevailed upon by the intreaties of his wife, to remit their share of the penalty, as appears by their warrant to the keeper of the prison for his discharge, dated under the college seal, the 6th of August, 1602. After his release, he seems to have met with considerable patrons, who were able to protect him from the authority of the college; and though Dr. Goodall tells us, that this learned society thought him weak and ignorant in physic, yet he contrived to obtain the degree of doctor of physic in some university. This did not hinder new complaints being brought against him, by Dr. Taylor, and another physician, who grounded their proceedings chiefly on his giving a certain nostrum, which he called “Aurum potabilt!,” or potable gold, and which he represented to the world as an universal medicine. There were at this time also several things written agaiust him, and his manner of practice, insinuating that he was very inaccurate in his method of philosophizing, that the virtues of metals as to physical uses were very uncertain, and that the boasted effects of his medicine were destitute of proof. Dr. Anthony, upon this, published a defence of himself and his Aurum potabile in Latin, written with a plausible display of skill in chemistry, and with an apparent knowledge of the theory and history of physic. This book, which he published in 1610, was printed at the university press of Cambridge, and entitled “Medicinac Chymicae, et verj potabilis Auri assertio, ex lucubrationibus Fra. Anthonii Londinensis, in Medicina Doctoris. Cantabrigise, ex officina Cantrelli Legge celeberrimae Academics Typographi,” 4to. It had a very florid dedication to king James prefixed. He, likewise, annexed certificates of cures, under the hands of several persons of distinction, and some of the faculty; but his book was quickly answered, and | the controversy about Aurum potabile grew so warm, that he was obliged to publish another apology in the Englis language, which was also translated into Latin, but did not ans.wer the doctor’s expectation, in conciliating the opinion of the faculty, yet, what is more valuable to an empiric, it procured the genera' good-will of ordinary readers, and contributed exceedingly to support and extend his practice, notwithstanding all the pains taken to decry it. What chiefly contributed to maintain his own reputation, and thereby reflected credit on his medicine, was that which is rarely met with among quacks, his unblemished character in private life. Dr. Anthony was a man of unaffected piety, untainted probity, of easy address, great modesty, and boundless charity; which procured him many friends, and left it not in the power of his enemies to attack any part of his conduct, except that of dispensing a medicine, of which they had no opinion. And though much has been said to disgredit the use of gold in medicine, yet some very able and ingenious men wrote very plausibly in support of those principles on which Dr. Anthony’s practice was founded, and among these the illustrious Robert Boyle. The process of making the potable gold is given in the Biog. Britannica, but in such a contused and ignorant manner that any modern chemist may easily detect the fallacy, and be convinced that gold does not enter into the preparation. The time Jn which Anthony flourished, if that phrase may be applied tq him, was very favourable to his notions, chemistry being then much admired and very little understood. He had therefore a most extensive and beneficial practice, which enabled him to live hospitably at his house in Bartholomew close, and to be very liberal in jiis alms to the poor. He died May 26, 1623, and was buried in the church of St. Bartholomew the Great, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory. His principal antagonists were, Dr. Matthew Gwinne, of the college of physicians, who wrote <<; Au,rum non Aurum, s,ive adversaria in assertorem Chymioe, sed vera? Medicinae desertorem Franciscum Anthonium,“Lond. 1611, 4to, and Dr. Cotta, of Northampton, in 1623, in a work entitled,Cotta contra Antonium, or an Ant-Antony, or an Ant-Apology, manifesting Dr. Anthony his Apology for Aurum potabile, in true and equal balance of right reason^ tp be false and counterfeit," Oxford, 4to. | Dr. Anthony by his second wife had two sons: Charles, a physician of character at Bedford, and John, the subject of the following article. 1

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Biog. Brit.