Harris, Walter

, a learned English physician, the son of a tradesman at Gloucester, was born there about 1647, and educated at Winchester school. In 1666 he was admitted perpetual fellow of New-college; Oxford, without passing through the year’s probation, in consequence of his being of the founder’s kin. Having, however, embraced the Roman catholic religion, he resigned his fellowship in 1673, and went to France, where, either at Doway or Paris, he took his doctor’s degree. In 1676 he returned to London, and began practice chiefly among the Roman catholics; but when in consequence of Oates’s plot, in 1678, all o.f that persuasion were ordered to leave the metropolis, he renounced the errors of popery, and wrote in 1679 a pamphlet entitled. “A Farewell to | Popery,” Lond. 4to, On the revolution, he was appointed physician to king William III. at the recommendation of the celebrated Tillotson. Of his attendance on the king, he himself informs us of this circumstance, that being in his majesty’s chamber, he took the liberty, in the presence of the lords in waiting, to find fault with the custom of binding every morning the king’s feet, which were very much swelled. He said that by this means the humours falling into the feet would be driven back into the viscera. Another anecdote he gives of himself, which perhaps would have come with a better grace from any one else, is, that Dr. Goodall, president of the college of physicians, told him one day that he envied him (Dr. Harris) more than he envied any body else, because he was always easy in his mind, and free from anxious cares. He appears to have had very considerable practice, and was a fellow of the college, and censor in 1689. The time of his death we have not been able to discover, but he was alive in 1725, when he published his “Dissertationes Medicæ et Chirurgicæ, habitæ in amphitheatre collegii regalis,” in the title-­page to which he styles himself “Præses natus, et professor Chirurgiæ.” His other publications were, 1. “Pharmacologia anti-empirica,” Lond. 1683, 8vo. 2. “De morbis acutis infantum,1689, 8vo, often reprinted, and translated into English by Cockburn, in 1693, and by IMartyn in 1742, and into French by Devaux. In his “Dissertationes medicæ” are some valuable papers on various medical topics, and he is a strong advocate for inoculation for the small-pox. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. — “Dissertationes Medicffi,” in which are some particulars of his life, written by himself.