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a sister art to embellish his knowledge in medicine. It has been commonly observed in compliment to the ingenious of our profession, that Apollo was god of verse as well as physic; and in all ages the most celebrated practitioners of our country were the particular favourites of the muses. Poetry to physic is indeed like the gilding to a pill; it makes the art shine, and covers the severity of the doctor with the agreeableness of the companion. The
very foundation of poetry is good sense, if we may allow Horace to be a judge of the art.
Scribendi recte sapere est, et principium, et fons:
And if so, we have reason to believe, that the same man who writes well can prescribe well, if he has applied himself to the study of both. Besides, when we see a man making profession of two different sciences, it is natural for us to believe he is no pretender in that which we are not judges of, when we find him skilful in that which we understand.
Ordinary quacks and charlatans are thoroughly sensible how necessary it is to support themselves by these collateral assistances, and therefore always lay their claim to some supernumerary accomplishments which are wholly foreign to their profession.
About twenty years ago, it was impossible to walk the streets without having an advertisement thrust into your hand, of a doctor who was arrived at the knowledge of the green and red dragon, and had discovered the female fern seed.' Nobody ever knew what this meant; but the green and red dragon so amused the people, that the doctor lived very comfortably upon them. About the same time there was pasted a very hard word upon every corner of the streets. This, to the best of my remembrance, was
Were. Rather “have been." • When. To avoid an ungraceful repetition, he should have said—"if we find."
which drew great shoals of spectators about it, who read the bill that it introduced with unspeakable curiosity; and when they were sick, would have nobody but this learned man for their physician.
I once received an advertisement of one ' who had studied thirty years by candle-light for the good of his countrymen.' He might have studied twice as long by day-light, and never have been taken notice of: but elucubrations cannot be overvalued. There are some who have gained themselves great reputation for physic by their birth, as the seventh son of a seventh son;' and others by not being born at all, as the 'unborn doctor,' who, I hear, is lately gone the way of his patients, having died worth five hundred pounds per annum, though he was not' born' to a halfpenny.
My ingenious friend Dr. Saffold,' succeeded my old contemporary Dr. Lilly in the studies both of physic and astrology, to which he added that of poetry, as was to be seen both upon the sign where he lived, and in the bills which he distributed. He was succeeded by Doctor Case, who erased the verses of his predecessor out of the sign-post, and substituted in their stead two of his own, which were as follow :
Within this Place
He is said to have got more by this distich, than Mr. Dryden did by all his works. There would be no end of enumerating the several imaginary perfections and unaccountable artifices by which this tribe of men ensnare the minds of the vulgar, and gain crowds of admirers. I have seen the whole front of a mounteb»«k's st.se from one end to the other faced with patent certificats, medals, an,
' For this and the other allusions in this number, 1. Nichols’s notes. – 6.
great seals, by which the several princes of Europe have testified their particular respect and esteem for the doctor. Every great man with a sounding title has been his patient. I believe I have seen twenty mountebanks that have given physic to the Czar of Muscovy. The great Duke of Tuscany escapes no better. The Elector of Brandenburg was likewise a very good patient.
This great condescension of the doctor draws upon him much good-will from his audience; and it is ten to one, but if any of them be troubled with an aching tooth, his ambition will prompt him to get it drawn by a person, who has had so many princes, kings, and emperors, under his hands.
I must not leave this subject without observing, that as physicians are apt to deal in poetry, apothecaries endeavour to recommend themselves by oratory, and are therefore, without controversy, the most eloquent persons in the whole British nation. I would not willingly discourage any of the arts, especially that of which I am an humble professor ; but I must confess, for the good of my native country, I could wish there might be a suspension of physic for some years, that our kingdom, which has been so much exhausted by the wars, might have leave to recruit itself.
As for myself, the only physic which has brought me safe to almost the age of man, and which I prescribe to all my friends, is abstinence. This is certainly the best physic for prevention, and very often the most effectual against the present distemper. In short, my recipe is, ' Take nothing.'
Were the body politic to be physicked like particular persons, I should venture to prescribe to it after the same manner. member when our whole island was shaken with an earthquake some years ago, there was an impudent mountebank who sold
A present - Nichols's edition. V. Tat. 148, and note page 233, of M's ed.-G.
pills, which (as he told the country people) were very good against an earthquake. It may perhaps be thought as absurd to prescribe a diet for the allaying popular commotions, and national ferments. But I am verily persuaded, that if in such a case a whole people were to enter into a course of abstinence, and eat nothing but water-gruel for a fortnight, it would abate the rage and animosity of parties, and not a little contribute to the cure of a distracted nation. Such a fast would have a natural tendency to the procuring of those ends for which a fast is usually proclaimed. If any man has a mind to enter on such a voluntary abstinence, it might not be improper to give him the caution of Pythagoras in particular.
“ Abstine a fabis.”
“ Abstain from beans," That is, say the interpreters, meddle not with elections : beans having been made use of by the voters among the Athenians in the choice of magistrates.
No. 243. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1710..
Infert se septis nebula, mirabile dictu
From my own Apartment, October 27. I HAVE somewhere made mention of Gyges's ring,' and intimated to my reader that it was at present in my possession, though I have not since made any use of it. The tradition concerning this ring is very romantic, and taken notice of both by Plato and Tully, who each of them make an admirable use of it for the advancement of morality. This Gyges was the master shepherd to King Candaules. As he was wandering over the plains of Lydia, he
i V. Tatler 138-V.
saw a great chasm in the earth, and had the curiosity to enter it. After having descended pretty far into it, he found the statue of an horse in brass, with doors in the sides of it. Upon opening of them, he found the body of a dead man, bigger than ordinary, with a ring upon his finger, which he took off, and put it upon his
The virtues of it were much greater than he at first imagined; for upon his going into the assembly of shepherds, he observed, that he was invisible when he turned the stone of the ring within the palm of his hand, and visible when he turned it towards his company. Had Plato and Cicero been as well versed in the occult sciences as I am, they would have found a great deal of mystic learning in this tradition : but it is impossible for an adept to be understood by one who is not an adept.
As for myself, I have, with much study and application, arrived at this great secret of making myself invisible, and by that means conveying myself where I please; or to speak in Rosyerucian lore, I have entered into the clefts of the earth, discovered the brazen horse, and robbed the dead giant of his ring. The tradition
says further of Gyges, that by the means of this ring he gained admission into the most retired parts of the court, and made such use of those opportunities, that he at length became King of Lydia. For my own part, I, who have always rather endeavoured to improve my mind than my fortune, have turned this ring to no other advantage than to get a thorough insight into the ways of men, and to make such observations
the errors of others, as may be useful to the public, whatever effect they may have upon myself.
About a week ago, not being able to sleep, I got up and put on my magical ring, and with a thought transported myself into a chamber where I saw a light. I found it inhabited by a celebrated beauty, though she is of that species of women which we call a slattern. Her head-dress and one of her shoes lay upon