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SINCE this following poem in a manner stole into the world, I could not be surprised to find it uncorrect: though I can no more say I was a stranger to its coming abroad, than that I approved of the publisher's precipitation in doing it: for a hurry in the execution generally produces a leisure in reflection; so when we run the fastest, we stumble the oftenest. However, the errours of the printer have not been greater than the candour of the reader: and if I could but say the same of the defects of the author, he would need no justification against the cavils of some furious critics, who, I am sure, would have been better pleased if they had met with more faults.
Their grand objection is, that the fury Disease is an improper machine to recite characters, and re. commend the example of present writers : but though I had the authority of some Greek and Latin poets, upon parallel instances, to justify the design; yet that I might not introduce any thing that seemed inconsistent, or hard, I started this objection myself, to a gentleman, very remarkable in this sort of criticism, who would by no means allow that the contrivance was forced, or the conduct incongruous.
Disease is represented a fury as well as Envy: she is imagined to be forced by an incantation from her recess; and, to be revenged on the exorcist, mortifies him with an introduction of several persons eminent in an accomplishment he has made some advances in.
Nor is the compliment less to any great genius mentioned there ; since a very fiend, who naturally repines at any excellency, is forced to confess how happily they have all succeeded,
Their next objection is, that I have imitated the Lutrin of Monsieur Boileau. I must own, I am proud of the imputation; unless their quarrel be, that I have not done it enough: but he that will give himself the trouble of examining, will find I have copied him in nothing but in two or three lines in the complaint of Molesse, Canto II, and in one in his first Canto; the sense of which line is entirely his, and I could wish it were not the only good one in mine.
I have spoke to the most material objections I have heard of, and shall tell these gentlemen, that for every fault they pretend to find in this poem, I will undertake to show them two. One of these curious persons does me the honour to say, he approves of the conclusion of it; bat I suppose it is upon no other reason, but because it is the conclusion. However, I should not be much concerned not to be thought excellent in an amusement I have very little practised bitherto, nor perhaps ever shall again.
Reputation of this sort is very hard to be got, and very easy to be lost; its pursuit is painful, and its possession unfruitful; nor had I ever attempted any thing in this kind, till finding the animosities among the members of the college of physicians increasing daily (notwithstanding the frequent exhortations of our worthy president to the contrary), I was persuaded to attempt something of this nature, and to endeavour to railly some of our disaffected members into a sense of their duty, who have hitherto most obstinately opposed all manner of union; and have continued so unreasonably refractory, that it was thought fit by the college, to reinforce the observance of the statutes by a bond, which some of them would not comply with, though none of them had refused the ceremony of the customary oath ; like some that will trust their wives with any body, but their money with none. 1 was sorry to find there could be any constitution that was not to be cured without poison, and that there should be a prospect of effecting it by a less grateful method than reason and persuasion.
The original of this difference has been of some standing, though it did not break out to fury and excess, until the time of erecting the Dispensary, being an apartment in the college, set up for the relief of the sick poor, and managed ever since with an integrity and disinterest suitable to so charitable a desigu.
If any person would be more fully informed about the particulars of so pious a work, I refer biin to a treatise, set forth by the authority of the president and censors, in the year 97. It is called, A short Account of the Proceedings of the College of Physicians, London, in Relation to the sick Poor. The reader may there not only be informed of the rise and progress of this so public an undertaking, but also of the concurrence and encouragement it met with from the best, as well as the most ancient members of the society, notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of a few men, wbo thought it their interest to defeat so laudable a design.
The intention of this preface is not to persuade mankind to enter into our quarrels, but to vindicate the author from being censured for taking any indecent liberty with a faculty he has the honour to be a member of. If the satire may appear directed at any particular person, it is at such only as are presumed to be engaged in dishonourable confederacies for mean and mercenary ends, against the dignity of their own profession. But if there be no such, then these characters are but imaginary, and by consequence ought to give nobody offence.
The description of the battle is grounded upon a feud that happened in the Dispensary, betwixt a member of the college with his retinue, and some of the servants that attended there to dispense the medicines; and is so far real, though the poetical relation be fictitious. I hope nobody will think the author too undecently reflecting through the whole, who, being too liable to faults himself, ought to be less severe upon the miscarriages of others. There is a character in this trivial performance, which the town, I find, applies to a particular person: it is a reflection which I should be sorry should give offence; being no more than what may be said of any physician remarkable for much practice. The killing of numbers of patients is so trite a piece of raillery, that it ought not to make the least impression, either upon the reader, or the person it is applied to; being one that I think in my conscience a very able physician, as well as a gentleman of extraordinary learning. If I am hard upon any one, it is my reader: but some worthy gentlemen, as remarkable for their humanity as their extraordinary parts, have taken care to make him amends for it, by prefixing something of their owo.
I confess, those ingenious gentlemen have done me a great honour; but while they design an imaginary panegyric upon me, they have made a real one upon themselves; and by saying how much this small performance exceeds some others, they couvince the world how far it falls short of theirs.
THE COPY OF AN INSTRUMENT SUBSCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT, CENSOR, MOST OF THE ELECTS,
SENIOR FELLOWS, CANDIDATES, &c. OF THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS, IN RELATION TO THE SICK
POOR. WHEREAS the several orders of the College of Physicians, London, for prescribing medicines gratis to the poor sick of the cities of London and Westminster, and parts adjacent; as also proposals made by the said college to the lord mayor, court of aldermen, and common council, of London, in pursuance thereof; have hitherto been ineffectual, for that no method hath been taken to furnish the poor with medicines for their cure at low and reasonable rates; we therefore, whose names are here underwritten, fellows and members of the said college, being willing effectually to promote so great a charity, by the counsel and good-liking of the president and college declared in their comitia, hereby (to wit, each of us severally and apart, and not the one for the other of us) do oblige ourselves to pay to Dr. Thomas Burwell, fellow and elect of the said college, the sum of ten pounds apiece of lawful money of England, by such proportions, and at such times, as to the major part of the subscribers here shall seem most convenient: which money, when received by the said Dr. Thomas Burwell, is to be by him expended in preparing and delivering medicines to the poor at their intrinsic value, in such manner, and at such times, and by such orders and directions, as by the major part of the subscribers hereto shall in writing be hereafter appointed and directed for that purpose. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals, this twenty-second day of December,
Tho. Gill, censor.
Rich. Morton, jun.
Gideon Harvey, Rich. Robinson, The design of printing the subscribers names, is to show, that the late undertaking has the sanction of a college act; and that it is not a project carried on by five or six members, as those that oppose it would unjustly insinuate,
VERSES TO DR. GARTH.
TO DR. GARTH,
And yet 'tis thought, some critics in this town,
By rules to all, but to themselves, unknown,
Will damn thy verse, and justify their own.
Why let them damn: were it not wondrous hard Oh that some genius, whose poetic vein
Facetious Mirmil' and the city bard,
So near ally'd in learning, wit, and skill,
Should not have leave to judge, as well as kill? And thence present thee with the purest ore:
Nay, let them write; let them their forces join, In lasting numbers praise thy whole design, And hope the motley piece may rival thine. And manly beauty of each nervous line:
Safely despise their malice, and their toil, Show how your pointed satire's sterling wit,
Which vulgar ears alone will reach, and will defile. Poes only knaves or formal blockheads hit;
Be it thy generous pride to please the best, Who're gravely dull, insipidly serene,
Whose judgment, and whose friendship, is a test. And carry all their wisdom in their mien;
With learned Hans thy healing cares be join'd; Whom thus expos'd, thus stripp'd of their disguise, Search thoughtful Ratcliffe to his inmost mind; None will again admire, most will despise! Show in what noble verse Nassau you sing,
Unite, restore your arts, and save mankind:
Whilst all the busy Mirmils of the town How such a poet's worthy such a king!
Envy our health, and ine away their own. When Somers' charming eloquence you praise, Whene'er thou would'st a tempting Muse engage, How loftily your tuneful voice you raise!
Judicious Walsh can best direct her rage. But my poor feeble Muse is as unfit
To Somers and to Dorset too submit, To praise, as imitate what you have writ.
And let their stamp immortalise thy wit. Artists aloue should venture to commend
Consenting Phæbus bows, if they approve, What Dennis can't condemn, nor Dryden mend:
And ranks thee with the foremost bards above. What must, writ with that fire and with that ease,
Whilst these of right the deathless laurel send, The beaux, the ladies, and the critics, please.
Be it my humble business to commend C. Boyle. The faithful, honest man, and the well-natur'd friend.
CHR. CODRINGTON. TO MY FRIEND THE AUTHOR, DESIRING MY OPINION OF HIS POEM.
TO MY FRIEND DR. GARTH,
THE AUTHOR OF THE DISPENSARY.
To praise your healing art would be in vain; I read thee over with a lover's eye;
The health you give, prevents the poet's pen. Thou hast no faults, or I no faults can spy;
Sufficiently confirm'd is your renown, Thou art all beauty, or all blindness I.
And I but fill the chorus of the town. Critics and aged beaux of fancy chaste;
That let me wave, and only now admire Who ne'er had fire, or else whose fire is past,
The dazzling rays of your poetic fire: Must judge by rules what they want force to taste.
Which its diffusive virtue does dispense, I would a poet, like a mistress, try,
In flowing verse, and elevated sense. Not by her hair, her hand, her nose, her eye;
The town, which long has swallow'd foolisis
verse, But by some vameless power, to give me joy. The nymph has Grafton's, Cecil's, Churchill's Which poetasters every where rehearse, charms,
Will mend their judgınent now, refine their taste, If with resistless fires my soul she warms,
And gather up th' applause they threw in waste. With balm upon her lips, and raptures in her artus. The play-house shan't encourage false sublime, Such is thy genius, and such art is thine,
Abortive thoughts, with decoration-rhyme.
The satire of vile scribblers shall appear
On none, except upon themselves, severe:
While yours contemns the gall of vulgar spite; Distinctions vanish of peculiar air.
And when you seem to smile the most, you bite.
THO, CHEEK. Lost in our pleașure, we er joy in you Lucretius, Horace, Sheffield, Montague.
· Dr. Gibbons.