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John Brown

Dr John Brown (September 22, 1810 – May 11, 1882) was a Scottish physician and essayist. He was the son of the clergyman John Brown (1784–1858), and was born in Biggar, Scotland. He is best known for his dog story, Rab and his Friends, and his essay on Marjorie Fleming, the ten year old prodigy and "pet" of Walter Scott.

Life and career

Brown was educated at the High School and graduated as M.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1833, and practised as a physician in that city. He was revered and beloved in no common degree, and he was the cherished friend of many of his most distinguished contemporaries, including Thackeray; his reputation, however, is based on the two volumes of essays, Horae Subsecivae (Leisure Hours) (1858, 1861), John Leech and Other Papers (1882), Rab and His Friends (1859), and Marjorie Fleming: a Sketch (1863).

The first volume of Horae Subsecivae deals chiefly with the equipment and duties of a physician, the second with subjects outside his profession. He was emphatic in his belief that an author should publish nothing unless he has something to say. Acting on this principle, he published little himself, and only after subjecting it to the severest criticism.

Brown wrote comparatively little; but all he did write is good, some of it perfect, of its kind. In the mingling of tenderness and delicate humour he has much in common with Lamb; in his insight into dog-nature he is unique. He suffered during the latter years of his life from pronounced attacks of melancholy.


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