Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Critical Introduction by Norman Moore
Dr. Timothy Bright (15511615)
[Dr. Timothy Bright was born in 1551, and at the age of eleven entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1568. He studied afterwards in Paris, and on St. Bartholomews Day 1572 took refuge in the house of Sir Francis Walsingham, where he met Sir Philip Sidney. He was physician to St. Bartholomews Hospital, London, from 1586 to 1590, and lived in the Hospital. He then took orders, and was presented by Queen Elizabeth to the rectory of Methley in 1591, and afterwards to that of Berwick in Elmet, both in Yorkshire. He died in 1615.]
DR. TIMOTHY BRIGHT is most famous as the inventor of modern shorthand, and described his system in a small book, Characterie: an Arte of Shorte, Swift, and Secret Writing by Character, published in London in 1588. The copy in the Bodleian Library is the only one which is known to have survived to our times. In Latin he wrote (1584) a reply to Scribonius, In Physicam, which is one of the earliest productions of the Cambridge University Press; Animadversiones de Traduce (1590); and two medical treatises, Hygieina (1581) and Therapeutica (1583). His English works are an abridgement of Foxes Book of Martyrs (1581), and A Treatise of Melancholie, containing the causes thereof, and reasons of the strange effects it worketh in our minds and bodies, with the phisicke, cure, and spirituall consolation for such as have thereto adjoyned an afflicted conscience (1586). This book is sometimes said to have suggested to Burton his Anatomy of Melancholy, but elaborate disquisitions on melancholy are to be found in many earlier medical writers, and there is no real resemblance between the treatises of Burton and of Bright. His style is less colloquial than that of the London surgeon, Clowes, who was his contemporary; while he shows less knowledge of Greek, and uses more long words than his Cambridge predecessor as a medical writer in English, Dr. Christopher Langton. He is never so pithy as More, is often prolix, and sometimes involved. Though he had graduated in medicine, he was not much more of a physician than Sir Thomas Elyot, who was merely a reader of medical books.