Freind, John

, a learned English physician, was born in 1675, at Croton in Northamptonshire, of which parish his father, William Freind, a man of great learning, piety, and integrity, was rector, and where he died in 1663. He was sent to Westminster school, with his elder brother Robert, and put under the care of the celebrated Dr. Busby. He was thence elected to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1690, over which Dr. Aldrich at that time presided; and under his auspices undertook, in conjunction with another young man, Mr. Foulkes, to publish an edition of | Æschines, and Demosthenes, “de Corona,” which was well received, andhas since been reprinted. About the same time he was prevailed upon to revise the Delphin edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, reprinted in 8vo, at Oxford, in 1696, which Dr. Bentley has severely criticised. Mr. Freind was director of Mr. Boyle’s studies, and wrote the Examination of Dr. Bentley’s Dissertation on jEsop, which may account for that great critic’s speaking more disrespectfully of his talents than justice required.

Hitherto he had been employed in reading the poets, orators, and historians of antiquity, by which he had made himself a perfect master in the Greek language, and had acquired a great facility of writing elegant Latin, in verse as well as prose. He now began to apply himself to physic; and his first care, as we are told, was to digest thoroughly the true and rational principles of natural philosophy, chemistry, and anatomy, to which he add.ed a sufficient acquaintance with the mathematics. The first public specimen that he gave of his abilities in the way of his profession was in 1699, when he wrote a letter to Dr. (afterwards sir) HansSloane, concerning an hydrocephalus, or watery head; and, in 1701, another letter in Latin to the same gentleman, “De Spasmi rarioris Historia,” or concerning some extraordinary cases of persons afflicted with convulsions in Oxfordshire, which at that time made a very great noise, and might probably have been magnified into something supernatural, if our author had not taken great pains to set them in a true light. It seems a little strange that these letters should not have been thought worthy of a place in the collection of his medical works; they may be found, however, in the “Philosophical Transactions,” the former being No. 256, for September, 1699, the latter No. 270, for March and April, 1701. Mr. Freind proceeded M. A. in April 1701, and B. M. in June of the same year.

Being nw well known and distinguished, Freind began to meditate larger works. He observed that Sanctorius, Borelli, and Baglivi, in Italy, and Pitcairne and Keil here at home, had introduced a new and more certain method of investigating medical truths than had been formerly known; and he resolved to apply this way of reasoning, in order to set a certain subject of great importance, of daily use, and general concern, about which the learned have always been divided, in such a light as might put an | end to disputes. This he did by publishing, in 1703, “Emmenologia in qua fluxus muliebris menstrui phaenomena, periodi, vitia, cum medendi methodo, ad rationed mechanicas exiguntur,” 8vp. This work, which is founded on the principles of the mechanic sect of physicians, who then flourished under the auspices of Baglivi and others, though at first it met some opposition, and was then and afterwards animadverted upon by several writers, has always been reckoned an excellent performance; and is, as all our author’s writings are, admirable for the beauty of its style, the elegant disposition of its parts, its wonderful succinctness, and at the same time perspicuity, and for the happy concurrence of learning and penetration visibie through the whole.

In 1704- he was chosen professor of chemistry at Oxford; and, the year after, attended the earl of Peterborough in his Spanish expedition, as physician to the army there, in which post he continued near two years. From thence he made the tour of Italy, and went to Rome, as well for tho sake of seeing the antiquities of that city, as for the pleasure of visiting and conversing with Baglivi and Lancisi, physicians then in the zenith of their reputation. On his return to England in 1707, he found the character of his patron very rudely treated; and, from a spirit of gra*­titucie, published a defence of him, entitled “An Account of the earl of Peterborough’s Conduct in Spain, chiefly since the raising the siege of Barcelona, 1706;” to which is added, “The Campaign of Valencia. With original papers, 1707,” 8vo. This piece, relating to party-matters, made a great noise, some loudly commending, others as loudly condemning it; so that a third edition of it was published in 1708.

In 1707 he was created doctor of physic by diploma. Jn 1709 he published his “Praelectiones Chymicae: in quibus omnes fere operationes chymicas ad vera principia et ipsius naturae leges rediguntur; anno 1704, Oxonii, in Musceo Ashmoleano habitce.” These lectures are dedicated to sir Isaac Newton, and are nine in number, besides three tables. They were attacked by the German philosophers, who w^re greatly alarmed at the new principles; and therefore the authors of “Acta Eruditorum,” in 171O, prefixed to their account of them a censure, in which they treated the principles of the Newtonian philosophy as figments, and the method of arguing made use of in thes& | lectures as absurd; because, in their opinion, it tended to recall occult qualities in philosophy. To this groundless charge an answer was given by Freind, which was published in Latin, in the “Philosophical Transactions,” and added, by way of appendix, to the second edition of the “Prælectiones Chymicse.” Both the answer and the book have been translated, and printed together in English.

In 1711 Dr. Freind was elected a member of the royal society, and the same year attended the duke of Ormond into Flanders, as his physician. He resided mostly after his return, at London, and gave himself up wholly to the cares of his profession*. In 1716 he was chosen a fellow of the college of physicians, and the same year published the first and third books of “Hippocrates de morbis popularibus,” to which he added, a “Commentary upon Fevers/* divided into nine short dissertations. This very learned work was indecently attacked by Dr. Woodward, professor of physic in Gresham college, in his” State of Physic and of Diseases, with an enquiry into the causes of the late increase of them, but more particularly of the Small-pox, &c. 1718,“8vo and here was laid the foundation of a dispute, which was carried on with great acrimony and violence on both sides. Parties were formed under these leaders, and several pamphlets were written. Freind supported his opinion *‘ concerning the advantage of purging in the second fever of the confluent kind of small-pox” (for it was on this single point that the dispute chiefly turned) in a Latin letter addressed to Dr. Mead in 1719, and since printed among his works. He was likewise supposed to be the author of a pamphlet, entitled * A Letter to the learned Dr. Woodward, by Dr. By field," in 1719, in which Woodward is rallied with great spirit and address; for Freind made no serious answer to Woodward’s book, but contented himself with ridiculing his antagonist under the name of a celebrated empyric. In 1717

* In 1"13 Dr. Freind was probably 1 am told it very able in his profession.

in Ireland, where the duke of Shrew*. 1 am quite ignorant where he designs

bury, was then lord lieutenant, and had, to reside, or what he intends to do, not

it would appear, applied to lord Bo- having these several months had any

ling broke in his behalf. His lordship conversation with him, but 1 hear he

tays in his answer, dated Dec. 3 of is gone to attend your grace. When 1

that year, " At to Dr. Freind, I have hear again that it is your gract- % s |>leaknown him long, and cannot be with’ sure 1 should do so, I will not fail

out some partiality for him, since he to spak to the queen in the manner

was of Christ Church. He has excel- you direct I am, kc. Boljncirokk."

leut paru, a a tnorouf h scholar, and Bolingbroke’s Letter*, by Parke. | he read theGulstonian lecture in the college of physicians; and, in 1720, spoke the Harveian oration, which was afterwards published. In 1722 he was elected into parliament for Launceston in Cornwall; and acting in his station as a senator with that warmth and freedom which was natural to him, he distinguished himself by some able speeches against measures which he disapproved. He was supposed to have a hand in Atterbury’s plot, as it was then called, for the restoration of the Stuart family; and having been also one of the speakers in favour of A tterbury, this drew upon him so much resentment, that the Habeas Corpus act being at that time suspended, he was, March 15, 1722-3, committed to the Tower. He continued a prisoner there till June 21, when he was admitted to bail, his sureties being Dr. Mead, Dr. Hulse, Dr. Levet, and Dr. Hale; and afterwards, in November, was discharged from his recognizance. Dr. Mead’s princely conduct on this occasion must not be forgotten. When called to attend sir Robert Walpole in sickness, he refused to prescribe until Dr. Freind was set at liberty, and afterwards presented Dr. Freind with 5000 guineas, which he had received in fees from his (Dr. Freind’s) patients.

The leisure afforded him by this confinement was not so much disturbed by uneasy thoughts and apprehensions, but that he could employ himself in a manner suitable to his abilities and profession; and accordingly he wrote another letter in Latin to Dr. Mead, “concerning some particular kind of Small-pox.” Here also he laid the plan of his last and most elaborate work, “The History of Physic, from the time of Galen to the beginning of the sixteenth century, chiefly with regard to practice: in a discourse written to Dr. Mead.” The first part was published in 1725; the second, the year following. This work, though justly deemed a masterly performance, both for use and elegance, did not escape censure; but was animadverted upon both at home and abroad; at home by sir Clifton Wintringham, in an anonymous tract, “Observations on Dr. Freind’s History of Physic, &c.1726, and by John Le Clerc in the “Bibliotheque Ancienne et Moderne,” but its reputation suffered very little by either.

Soon after he obtained his liberty he was made physician to the prince of Wales; and, on that prince’s accession to the throne as George II. became physician to the queen, who honoured him with a share of her confidence and | esteem. Very early in 1727-8, bishop Atterbury addressed to Dr. Freind his celebrated “Letter on the Character of Japis,” of whom he justly considered this learned physician to be the modern prototype. But whatever opinion he entertained of his professional abilities, it appears from “Atterbury’s Correspondence” that he had some reason to regret, if not resent, Dr. Freind’s becoming a favourite at court, and as Mr. Morice informs us, “an absolute courtier.” Dr. Freind did not, however, long enjoy this favour, but died of a fever, July 26, 1728, in his fifty-second year. Their majesties expressed the utmost concern at his death, and settled a pension upon his widow, Anne, eldest daughter of Thooias Morice, esq. paymaster of the forces in Portugal. Dr. Freind married this lady in 1709, and by her had an only son, John, who was educated at Westminster school, and became afterwards a student at Christ Church in Oxford. He died in 1752, unmarried. Dr. Freind was buried at Hitcham in Buckinghamshire, near which he had a seat; but there is a monument erected to him in Westminster-abbey, with a suitable inscription. He had himself rendered the like kind office to more than one of his friends, being peculiarly happy in this sort of composition; for the inscription on the monument of Sprat, bishop of Rochester, was from his pen; but that on Philips, which had been ascribed to him, is since ascertained to be by Atterbury. Dr. Wigan published his Latin works together at London, in 1733, in folio, adding to them a translation of his “History of Physic” into the same language, with an excellent historical preface; and to the whole is prefixed an elegant dedication to his royal patroness the late queen, by his brother Dr. Robert Freind. His works were reprinted at Paris in 1735, 4to.

Dr. Freind, in his last will, dated March 12, 1727, directs all his pictures to be sold (except those of his wife, his son, the bishop of Rochester and his son, and his own brother). He gives 100l. a year to his brother William, and lOOOl. to Christ Church, Oxford, to found an anatomical lecture. The greater part of his fortune he bequeathed to his nephew William, son to his brother Robert. His widow died in Sept, 1737. The manor of Hitcham was purchased by the Freinds in 1700, and continued in that family until the death of Robert Freind, e*q. Jan. 26, 1780, soon after which it was purchased by the | present lord Grenville, who has a house in that neighbourhood.

There is little occasion to quote authorities in praise of Dr. Freind, whose works are a lasting testimony of his uncommon abilities in his profession. He was not only venerated in this country, but on the continent, by Hoffman, Helvetius, Hecquet, and Boerhaave. His character is perhaps drawn with most fidelity and elegance by Dr. Edward Wilmot in the Harveian oration of 1735. 1


Biog. Brit. Ward’s Gresham Piofesson. Nichols’s AUerbury, and Bowycr.