Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

none. Though impudence and many words are as necessary to these itinerary Galens, as a laced hat to a merry-andrew, yet they would turn very little to the advantage of the owner, if there were not some inward disposition in the sick man to fa. tour the pretensions of the mountebank. Love of life in the one, and of money in the other, creates a good correspondence between them.

“There is scarcely a city in Great Britain but has one of this tribe who takes it into his protection, and on the market. day harangues the good people of the place with aphorisms and receipts. Yon may depend upon it he comes not there for his own private interest, but out of a particular affection to the town. I remember one of these public-spirited artists at Hammersmith, who told his audience, that he had been born and bred there, and that, having a special regard for the place of his nativity, he was determined to make a present of five shil. lings to as many as would accept of it. The whole crowd stood agape, and ready to take the doctor at his word; when putting his hand into a long bag, as every one was expecting his crown-piece, he drew out an handful of little packets, each of which he informed the spectators was constantly sold at five shillings and six-pence, but that he would bate the odd tive shillings to every inhabitant of that place: the whole assembly immediately closed with this generous offer, and took off all his physic, after the doctor had made them vouch for one another, that there were no foreigners among them, but that they were all Hammersmith men.

• There is another branch of pretenders to this art, who, without either horse or pickle-herring, lie spug in a garret, and send down notice to the world of their extraordinary parts and abilities by printed bills and advertiseinents. These seem to have de. rived their custom from an eastern nation which Herodotus speaks of, among whom it was a law, that, whenever any cure was performed, both the method of the cure, and an account of the distem. per, should be fixed in some public place; but, as customs will corrupt, these our moderns provide themselves of persons to attest the cure before they publish or make an experiment of the prescription. I have heard of a porter, who serves as a knight of the post under one of these operators, and, though, he was never sick in his life, has been cured of all the diseases in the Dispensary. These are the men whose sagacity has invented elixirs of all sorts, pills and lozenges, and take it as an affront if you come to them before you are.given over by everybody else. Their medicines are infallible, and never fail of success—that is, of enriching the doctor, and setting the patient effectually at rest.

I lately dropt into a public-house at Westmin. ster, where I found the room hung round with or. naments of this nature. There were elixirs, tinc. tures, the Anodyne Fotus, English pills, electuaries, and in short more remedies than I believe there are diseases. At the sight of so many inven. tions I could not but imagine myself in a kind of arsenal or magazine where store of arms was reposited against any sudden invasion. Should you be attacked by the enemy sideways, here was an infallible piece of defensive armour to cure the pleurisy: should a distemper beat up your head quarters, here you might purchase an impenetrable helmet, or, in the language of the artist, a cephalic tincture : if your main body be assaulted, here are various kinds of armour in cases of various onsests. I began to congratulate the present age upon the happiness men might reasonably hope for in life, when death was thus in a manner defeated, and

[ocr errors]

when pain itself would be of so short a duration, that it would but just serve to enhance the value of pleasure. While I was in these thoughts, I unluckily called to mind a story of an ingenious gentleman of the last age, who lying violently afflicted with the gout, a person came and offered his service to cure him by a method which he assured him was infal. lible; the servant who received the message carried it up to his master, who inquiring whether the person came on foot or in a chariot, and being informed that he was on foot: “ Go," says he, “ send the knave about his business : was his method as infal. lible as he pretends, he would long before now have been in his coach and six.” In like manner I con. cluded that, had all these advertisers arrived to that skill they pretend to, they would have had no need for so many years successively to publish to the world the place of their abode and the virtues of their medicines. One of these gentlemen indeed pretends to an effectual cure for leanness : what ef. fects it may have upon those who have tried it I cannot tell; but I am credibly informed that the call for it has been so great, that it has effectually cured the doctor himself of that distemper. Could each of them produce su good an instance of the success of his medicines, they might soon persuade the world into an opinion of them.

• I observe that most of the bills agree in one expression, viz. that " with God's blessing" they per. form such and such cures : this expression is cer. tainly very proper and emphatical, for that is all they have for it. And if ever a cure is performed on a patient where they are concerned, they can claim no greater share in it than Virgil's Iapis in the curing of Eneas; he tried his skill, was very assiduous about the wound, and indeed was the only visible means that relieved the hero ;. but the poet assures us it was

[ocr errors]

the particular assistance of a deity that speeded the
operation. An English reader may see the whole
story in Mr. Dryden's translation:

“ Propp'd on his lance the pensive hero stood,
And heard and saw, unmov'd, the mourning crowd.
The fam'd physician tucks his robes around,
With ready hands, and hastens to the wound.
With gentle touches he performs his part,
This way and that soliciting the dart,
And exercises all his heavenly art.
All softning simples, known of sov'reign use,
He presses out, and pours their noble juice;
These first infus'd to lenify the pain,
He tugs with pincers, but he tugs in vain.
Then to the patron of his art he pray'd;
The patron of his art refus'd his aid.

“But now the goddess mother, mov'd with grick,
And pierc'd with pity, hastens her relief.
A branch of healing dittany she brought,
Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought;
Rough in the stem, which woolly leaves surround;

The leaves with flowers, the flow'rs with purple crown'di
Well known to wounded goats;, a sure relief
To draw the pointed steel, and ease the grief.

This Venus brings, in clouds involv'd; and brews
Th' extracted liquor with Ambrosian dews,
And od'rous panacee: unseen she stands.
Temp'ring the mixture with her heav'nly hands;
And pours it in a bowl already crown'd
With juice of med'cinal herbs, prepar'd to bathe the wound,
The leech, unknowing of superior art,
Which aids the cure, with this foments the part;
And in a moment ceas'd the raging smart.
Stanch'd in the blood, and in the bottom, stands
The steel, but, scarcely touch'd with tender hands,
Moves up and fol:ows of its own accord;
And health and vigour are at once restor'd.
lapis first perceiv'd the closing wound;
And first the footsteps of a god he found:
• Arms, a.m! he cries: the sword and shield prepare,
And send the willing chief, renew'd, to war.
This is no mortal work, no cure of mine,
Nor art's effect, but done by hands divine."

VIRG, Æn. lib. xii. 391. &c:

N° 573. WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 1714.

JUV. Sat. ii. 35.

--Castigata remordent,

"Chastised, the accusation they retort. My paper on the club of widows has brought me several letters; and, amongst the rest, a long one from Mrs. President, as follows: SMART SIR,

You are pleased to be very merry, as you imagine, with us widows: and you seem to ground your satire on our receiving consolation so soon after the death of our dears, and the number we are pleased to admit for our companions ; but you never reflect what husbands we have buried, and how short a sorrow the loss of them was ca. pable of occasioning. For my own part, Mrs. President as you call me, my first husband I was married to at fourteen by my uncle and guardian (as I afterwards discovered) by way of sale, for the third part of my fortune. This fellow looked upon me as a mere child he might breed up after his own fancy: if he kissed my chamber-maid before my face, I was supposed so ignorant, how could I think there was any hurt in it? When he came home roaring drunk at five in the morning, it was the custom of all men that live in the world. I was not to see a penny of money, for, poor thing how could I manage it? He took a handsome cou. sin of his into the house (as he said) to be my house. keeper, and to govern my servants ; for how could I know how to rule a family? While she had what money she pleased, which was but reasonable for VOL. XV.

P

« AnteriorContinuar »