Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Freind, John

FREIND, JOHN, M.D. (1675–1728), physician and politician, a younger brother of Robert Freind [q. v.], was born at Croton (or Croughton), near Brackley in Northamptonshire, of which place his father, William Freind, was rector. He was educated under Dr. Busby [q. v.] at Westminster, and thence, in 1694, was elected a student of Christ Church, Oxford. Here he attracted the special notice of Dean Aldrich [q. v.], who had so high an opinion of his scholarship that he appointed him one of the editors of a Greek and Latin edition of the two antagonistic orations of Æschines and Demosthenes (8vo, Oxford, 1696), which has been several times republished; and also to superintend a reprint of the Delphin edition of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses.' While at Christ Church he became acquainted with Atterbury [q. v.], who was then one of the tutors, and with him he continued on intimate terms for the rest of his life. He also became involved in the famous controversy about the epistles of Phalaris, and naturally (with his fellow-collegians) made the mistake of supporting Boyle against Bentley. He took all his degrees at Oxford, and became B.A. in 1698, M.A. in 1701, M.B. in 1703, and M.D. by diploma in 1707. Having chosen medicine for his profession, he early began to write on medical topics, and invariably employed the Latin language. In 1704 he was appointed to deliver at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford some lectures on chemistry, which were largely attended, and published some years later (1709). In the next year (1705) he accompanied the Earl of Peterborough in his brilliant campaign in Spain, as physician to the English forces, and remained there about two years. He then visited Italy, where he became personally acquainted with Baglivi and Lancisi and other celebrated physicians of the day, and returned to England in 1707. Here he at once plunged into politics, and published two books in defence of Lord Peterborough's conduct in Spain, which brought him into considerable public notice as a keen partisan. In 1709 he married Anne, the eldest daughter of Thomas Morice, esq., then paymaster of the forces in Portugal, who survived him, and died in 1737. He had by her an only son, John, who died unmarried in 1750. He was elected F.R.S. in 1712, and in the same year he accompanied the Duke of Ormonde in his campaign in Flanders as his physician. On his return to England he took his place among the chief London physicians, and maintained it until his death. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians in 1713, and a fellow on 9 April 1716, the same day as his political antagonist and friendly rival, Dr. Richard Mead [q. v.] He delivered the Gulstonian lectures at the college in 1718, and the Harveian oration in 1720, and was censor in 1718, 1719. He was elected M.P. for Launceston in the tory interest in 1722, and was so deeply implicated in his old friend Bishop Atterbury's plot for the restoration of the Stuart family, that he was committed to the Tower on the charge of high treason in March 1722–3. Here he remained for about three months, with a mind sufficiently collected to allow him to employ his time in the composition of a Latin letter to Mead on smallpox, and also in the drawing out of the plan of his principal work, the ‘History of Physic.’ He is said to have owed his release from the Tower to the exertions of his friend Mead, who, when accidentally summoned to attend Sir Robert Walpole, refused to prescribe for him till he had given his promise that Freind should be set free. Another well-known anecdote in connection with his imprisonment says that after his release Mead presented him with five thousand guineas which he had received from his patients while he had been in the Tower. In this there is evidently some mistake, though it is not certain whether it is in the amount handed over to Freind, or in the source from which it was said to have been derived. Not long after his release he was called to attend the children of the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, and this led to his being appointed her physician when she ascended the throne in 1727. That so strong a partisan as Freind, with his Jacobite propensities, should have had such a post offered to him, and still more that he should have accepted it, seems to have given rise to much ill-natured comment. Some said that his former friends and acquaintances began to shun and despise him; and his brother Robert (in the Latin dedication to the queen prefixed to the collected edition of his works) speaks of his having to bear ‘non modo contumelias, sed etiam susurros.’ We are not, however, obliged to suppose that there was on his part any unworthy sacrifice of his political opinions to his interest, and his old friend Atterbury after his death expressed this conviction. Both the king and the queen seem to have had a sincere regard for him, and to have treated him with much kindness; but he did not long enjoy his honourable appointment, as he died of a fever on 26 July 1728. He was buried at Hitcham, near Maidenhead in Buckinghamshire, where he was lord of the manor; and there is a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey, with one of his brother Robert's lengthy epitaphs in elegant Latin, ‘one half’ of which (as Pope said) ‘will never be believed, the other never read.’ Personally he was much beloved by his friends, and the clause in his epitaph, ‘societatis et convictuum amans’ (strangely mistranslated in the ‘Biog. Brit.,’ as Aikin points out, ‘towards his acquaintance affectionate’), testifies to his enjoyment of the convivial habits of his time. Professionally he was highly esteemed by his contemporaries both in this country and on the continent, though he cannot in any sense be reckoned among the really great physicians. He was not only an elegant scholar but a man of genuine learning, and his ‘History of Physic’ is still well worth consulting. His other works can hardly be considered to possess any permanent value, though they excited great attention and gave rise to some bitter controversies at the time of their publication, the details of which may be found in the works mentioned at the end of this article.

The following is a list of Freind's principal publications: 1. ‘Emmenologia: in qua fluxus muliebris menstrui phænomena, periodi, vitia, cum medendi methodo, ad rationes mechanicas exiguntur,’ Oxford, 8vo, 1703. As indicated by the title, Freind belonged to the mechanical school of physicians, supported by Baglivi, Borelli, Pitcairne, and others, and his works are defective in consequence of his adopting this theory as the basis both of his pathology and his treatment. There is an English translation by Dale, London, 1752, 8vo, and a French translation by Devaux, Paris, 1730, 12mo. 2. ‘Prælectiones chymicæ: in quibus omnes fere operationes chymicæ ad vera principia et ipsius Naturæ leges rediguntur,’ London, 1709, 8vo. There is an English translation, London, 1729, 8vo. These lectures (which had been delivered at Oxford five years before) are dedicated to Sir Isaac Newton, and in them Freind attempts to explain all chemical operations upon mechanical and physical principles. They were criticised in the ‘Acta Eruditorum,’ 1710, as being of a mystical or occult character, and this attack, together with his answer (which appeared in the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 1711), Freind reprinted in an appendix to the second edition of the lectures, 1717 (?). 3. ‘Hippocratis de Morbis Popularibus liber primus et tertius. His accommodavit novem de Febribus commentarios Johannes Freind, M.D.,’ London, 1717, 4to; reprinted Amsterdam, 1717, 8vo. This volume contains a Greek text and Latin translation, both based on those of Foes, with the nine essays mentioned in the title-page. Triller wrote a learned critique on the Hippocratic portion of the work, in a letter to Freind, Leipzig, 1718, 4to; and Dr. Woodward, in his ‘State of Physick and of Diseases’ (London, 1718, 8vo), laid the foundation of a dispute in which other physicians took part, and which was carried on with unbecoming acrimony on both sides. 4. ‘De purgantibus, in secunda variolarum confluentium febre, adhibendis, epistola,’ London, 1719, 8vo. This is a pamphlet written during the foregoing dispute, addressed to Dr. Mead. 5. ‘De quibusdam variolarum generibus epistola,’ London, 1723, 4to. This is the letter that was written from the Tower to Dr. Mead. 6. ‘Oratio Anniversaria … habita ex Harvæi instituto,’ London, 1720, 4to. 7. ‘The History of Physick from the time of Galen to the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, chiefly with Regard to Practice,’ London, 2 vols., 1725–6, 8vo, translated into French by Stephen Coulet, Leyden, 1727, 4to, and into Latin by John Wigan, London, 1734, 2 vols. 12mo. This is Freind's principal work. It is addressed to Dr. Mead, and was intended as a sort of continuation of Daniel le Clerc's ‘Histoire de la Médecine.’ It is a book of classical and extensive learning, and is still the best work on the subject in the English language for the period of which it treats. At the commencement he praises Le Clerc's history itself, but points out various imperfections in his plan for a continuation. This offended John le Clerc, the brother of Daniel, who wrote a defence of his brother's ‘History’ in the ‘Bibl. Anc. et Mod.’ vol. xxiv., to which Freind did not reply. These seven are the works contained in Wigan's Latin edition of Freind's ‘Opera Omnia Medica,’ London, 1733, fol.; Paris, 1735, 4to; Venice, 1733, 4to. His two earliest professional essays appeared in the ‘Philos. Trans.,’ one on a case of hydrocephalus (September 1699), the other (March and April 1701), ‘De spasmi rarioris historia,’ giving an account of some extraordinary cases of convulsions in Oxfordshire, which appeared as a sort of epidemic, and occasioned great wonder and alarm at the time as being something almost supernatural. His ‘Account of the Earl of Peterborough's Conduct in Spain,’ 1706, with ‘The Campaign of Valencia,’ 1707, reached a third edition in 1708. There is a fine portrait of Freind by Michael Dahl belonging to the London College of Physicians, recently engraved for Dr. Richardson's ‘Asclepiad,’ vol. vi.; and an account of a bronze medal struck in his honour is given in Francis Perry's ‘Series of English Medals,’ 1762, and in Dr. Munk's ‘Roll of the College of Physicians,’ 1878.

[John Wigan's preface to his edition of Freind's collected works; Biog. Brit.; Chaufepié, Nouveau Dict. Hist. et Crit.; Haller's Biblioth. Medic. Pract. vol. iv.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd.; Atterbury's Letters; Munk's Coll. of Phys.; W. B. Richardson's Asclepiad, vol. vi.]

W. A. G.