Lives of the fellows

John Mason Good

b.25 May 1764 d.2 January 1827
FRS(1808) MD Aberd(1820) LRCP(1822)

John Mason Good, M.D., was born 25th May, 1764, and was the second son of the Rev. Peter Good, a dissenting minister, by his wife, Sarah Peyto, the favourite niece of the Rev. John Mason, the author of the well-known Treatise on Self-knowledge. He was educated by his father in languages and general literature, and soon acquired a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, and French. He began his medical education under Mr. Johnson, a surgeon apothecary, at Gosport, on whose death he went to reside with a surgeon of skill and large business at Havant. In 1783 and 1784, he attended the lectures of Dr. George Fordyce and Dr. Lowder in London, and then joined an apothecary at Sudbury, in Suffolk. In 1793, he removed to London, entered into partnership with a surgeon apothecary in the neighbourhood of the Foundling hospital, and on the 7th November in that year, was admitted a member of the Corporation of Surgeons.

On the 31st March, 1808, he was elected a fellow of the Royal society. In 1820, pursuant to the advice of several medical friends, he entered on the more elevated department of professional duty, that of a physician, for which his varied attainments and extensive knowledge abundantly qualified him. He was created doctor of medicine by Marischal college, Aberdeen, 10th July, 1820, and was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 25th June, 1822. Dr. Mason Good died at Shepperton, Middlesex, on the 2nd January, 1827, in the sixty-third year of his age.

He is commemorated as follows in St. Pancras church, Euston-square :—
Sacred to the Memory of
John Mason Good, M.D., F.R.S.,
Who departed this life on the 2nd day of Jany., 1827,
Aged 63 years.
His last words declared the foundation of his hope:
"All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea,
And in him Amen."

Dr. Good possessed in an eminent degree the power of acquiring languages; he had a strong and most retentive memory, and his industry and perseverance were remarkable. He had acquired, under his father’s tuition, a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, and French. To these he soon added Italian, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, and then German, after which he applied himself to Arabic and Persian, and later on to Russian, Sanscrit, and Chinese. From the year 1797 he was largely occupied in writing for reviews and other periodical publications; he contributed to the Analytical and Critical Reviews, and to the British and monthly magazines. He was for some time editor of the Critical, and many of the more elaborate articles in that review were from his pen. Whilst thus occupied, he commenced his translation of Lucretius, one of the works on which his fame with posterity will chiefly rest. This work he undertook partly at the entreaty of some literary friends, but principally that he might bring himself under a necessity of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the utmost possible variety of subjects upon which men of literature and science had been able to throw any light. The translation was done in the streets of London, in the course of Dr. Good’s walks to his patients. The notes, which are extensive and numerous, were added at home. They evince an union of learning, taste, and judgment such as is rarely found united.

Whilst fully occupied in general practice and amidst all the distractions inseparable from that department of medicine, Dr. Good, in conjunction with Dr. Olin-thus Gregory and Mr. Newton Bosworth, brought out a voluminous compilation or cyclopædia of general science, The Pantologia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Words. 12 vols, royal 8vo. 1813. Of the many languages of which Dr. Good was master, Hebrew was the one to which he was the most devoted and of which his knowledge was the most profound and critical. His translations of the "Song of Songs" and of "The Book of Job," are said to have secured him an eminent station among Hebrew scholars and the promoters of biblical criticism.

Dr. Good’s medical reputation rests on his Physiological System of Nosology and his Study of Medicine, both of them works of much learning and research, though now little known and rarely referred to. The Nosology was dedicated by special permission "to the President and Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London:" "a copy of the work having lain for public inspection upon the Censor’s table for some time, and three other copies having been circulated among the Fellows in rotation," after which "the author’s request was unanimously acceded to." The Study of Medicine was inscribed to Sir Henry Halford, Bart., the president of the college, "as a tribute of gratitude and friendship."

The following is, I believe, a complete list of Dr, Good’s published works :—
A Dissertation on the Diseases of Prisons and Poor Houses. 12mo. Lond. 1795.
A History of Medicine, so far as it relates to the profession of the Apothecary, from the earliest accounts to the present period. 12mo. Lond. 1795.
A Dissertation on the best means of Maintaining and Employing the Poor in Parish Workhouses. 8vo. Lond. 1798.
Address to the Members of the Corporation of Surgeons. 8vo. Lond. 1800.
Song of Songs, or Sacred Idyls from the Hebrew, with Notes. 8vo. Lond. 1803.
Triumph of Britain. An Ode. 1803.
Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D. 8vo. Lond. 1803.
The Nature of Things, from the Latin of Lucretius; Latin and English, with Notes Philological and Explanatory. 2 vols. 4to. Lond. 1805.
The Book of Job; translated from the Hebrew. 8vo. Lond. 1812.
Physiological System of Nosology, with a corrected and simplified Nomenclature. 8vo. Lond. 1820.
The Study of Medicine. 4 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1822.
The Book of Nature. 3 vols. 12mo. Lond. 1826.
Dr. Good was also one of the editors of, and a large contributor to the
Pantologia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Words. 12 vols. Royal 8vo. Lond.

William Munk

(Volume III, page 248)

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