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Browne, John (1642-1700).

Myographia nova

A graphical description of all the muscles in the humane body, as they arise in dissection : distributed into six lectures ; at the entrance into which, are demonstrated the proper muscles belonging to each lecture, now in general use at the Theatre in Chirurgeons-Hall, London, and illustrated with two and forty copper-plates accurately engraven after life, not only with their names, but their uses, fairly delineated on each plate, as much as can be esprest by figures ; with an explanation of their names throughout the whole discourse ; as also with their originations, insertions, and uses, at large, in their proper descriptions, and various useful annotations, and curious observations both of the author's and other modern anatomists…/London : Printed by Tho. Milbourn for the author, 1698.

"Browne studied at St Thomas's Hospital, London, under Thomas Hollyer, but after serving as a surgeon in the navy settled down at Norwich. In 1677 he published his book on tumors, and in the following year migrated to London, being about the same time made surgeon in ordinary to King Charles II. On the occasion of a vacancy for a surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital, the king sent a letter recommending him for the appointment, and he was elected by the governors on 21 June 1683, 'in all humble submission to his majesty's letter,' though the claims of another surgeon, Edward Rice, who had taken charge of the hospital during the plague of 1665, when all surgeons deserted their posts, were manifestly superior. This royal interference did not in the end prove a happy circumstance for Browne. In 1691 complaints arose that the surgeon did not obey the regulations of the hospital, and pretended that being appointed by royal mandamus they were not responsible to the governors. In the changed state of politics, and under the guidance of their able president, Sir Robert Clayton, the governors were determined to maintain their authority, and on 7 July 1691 they 'put out' the whole of their surgical staff, including Browne, and appointed other surgeons in their place. Browne appealed to the lords commissioners of the great seal, and the governors were called upon to defend their proceedings. The decision apparently went in their favour, for in 1698 Browne humbly petitioned the governors to be reinstated, though without success. Browne managed to continue in court favour after the revolution, and was surgeon to William III.

Browne was a well educated man, and in all likelihood a good surgeon, as he was certainly a well-trained anatomist according to the standard of the day. His books show no lack of professional knowledge, though they are wanting in originality. The most notable perhaps is 'Charisma Basilicon, or an Account of the Royal Gift of Healing,' where he describes the method pursued by Charles II in touching for the 'king's evil,' with which as the king's surgeon he was officially concerned, Though full of gross adulation a credulity which it is difficult to believe sincere, it is the best contemporary account of this curious rite as practised by the Stuart kings, and gives statistics of the numbers of persons touched (amounting between 1660 and 1682 to 92,107). His treatise on the muscles consists of six lectures, illustrated by elaborate copper-plates, of which the engraving is better than the drawing. It is probably the first of such books in which the names of the muscles are printed on the figures" (Dictionary of National Biography.Oxford).

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