« PreviousContinue »
sentiment. He observes, that the story of the Hermit is in More's Dialogues and Howell's Letters, and supposes it to have been originally Aralian.
Goldsmith has not taken any notice of the Elegy to the old Beauty, which is perhaps the meanest ; nor of the Allegory on Man, the happiest of Parnell's performances. The hint of the Hymn to Contentment I suspect to have been borrowed from Cleiveland.
The general character of Parnell is not great extent of comprehension, or fertility of mind. Of the little that appears still lèss is bis own. His praise must be derived from the easy sweetness of his diction ; in his verses there is mote happiness than pains; he is spritely without effort, and always delights, though he never ravishes; every thing is proper, yet every thing seems casual. If there is some appearance of elaboration in the Hermit, the narrative, as it is less airy, is less pleasing. Of his other compositions it is impossible to şay whether they are the productions of Nature, so excellent as not to want the help of Art, or of Art so refined as to resemble Nature. : This citicism relates only to the pieces published by Pope. Of the large appendages which I find in the last edition, I can only say that I know noe whence they came, nor have ever enquired whither they are going. They stand upon the faith of the compilers.
AMUEL GARTH was of a good family in Yorkshire, and from some
school in his own country became a student at Peter-house in Cambridge where he resided till he commenced doctor of physick on July the 7th, 1691. He was examined before the College at London on March the 12th, 1691-2, and admitted fellow June 26th, 1693. He was soon so much distinguished by his conversation and accomplishments, as to obtain very extensive practice ; and, if á pamphlet of those times may be credited, had the favour and confidence of one party, as Radcliffe had of the other.
He is always mentioned as a man of benevolence ; and it is just to supposé that his desire of helping the helpless disposed him to so much zeal for the Dispensary; an undertaking of which some account, however short, is proper to be given.
Whether what Temple says be truc, that physicians have had more learning than the other faculties, I will not stay to enquire; but, I believe, every man has found in physicians great liberality, and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusion of beneficence, and williogness to exert a lucrative art, where there is no hope of lucre. Agreeably to this character, the college of Physicians, in July 1687, published an edict, requiring all the fellows, candidates, and licentiates, to give gratuitous advice to the neighbouring poor.
This edict was sent to the Court of Aldermen; and a question being made to whom the appellation of the poor should be extended, the College answercd, that it should be sufficient to bring a testimonial from a clergy man officiating in the parish where the patient resided
After a year's experience, the physicians found their charity frustrated by some malignant opposition, and made to a great degree vain by the high price of physick; they therefore voted, in August 1688, that the laboratory of the College should be accommodated to the preparation of medicines, and another room prepared for their reception; and that the contributors to the expence should manage the Charity.
It was now expected that the Apothecaries would have undertaken the care of providing medicines: but th'y took another course. Thinking the whole design pernicious to their interest they endeavoured to raise a faction
against it in the College, and found some physicians méan enough to solicit their patronage, by betraying to them the counsels of the College. The greater part, however, enforced by a new edict, in 1694, the former order of 1687, and sent it to the mayor and aldermen, who appointed a committee to treat with the College, and settle the mode of administering the charity
It was desired by the aldermen, that the testimonials of churchwardens and overseers should be admitted; and that all hired servants, and all apprentices to handicraftsmen should be considered as poor. This likewise was granted by the College.
It was then considered who should distribute the medicines, and who should settle their prices. The Physicians procured some apothecaries to undertake. the dispensation, and offered that the Warden and Company of the apothe- , caries should adjust the price. This offer was rejected ; and the apothecaries who had engaged to assist the charity were considered as traytors to the company, threatened with the imposition of troublesome offices, and deterred from the performance of their engagements. The apothecaries ventured upon public opposition, and presented a kind of remonstrance against the de-, sign to the committee of the city, which the physicians condescended to confute : and at least the traders seem to have prevailed among the sons of trade; for the proposal of the college having been considered, a paper of approbation was drawn up, but postponed and forgotten.
The physicians still persisted; andin 1696 a subscription was raised by themselves, according to an agreement prefixed to the Dispensary. The poor were for a time supplied with medicines : for how long a time, I know not. . The medicinal charity, like others, began with ardour, but soon remitted, and at last died gradually away.
About the time of the subscription begins the action of the Dispensary. The Poem, as its subject was present and popular, co-operated with passions and prejudices then prevalent, and, with such auxiliaries to its intrinsick merit, was universally and liberally applauded. 'It was on tbe side of charity against the intrigues of interest, and of regular learning against licentious usurpation of medical authority, and was therefore naturally favoured by those who read and can judge of poetry.
In 1697, Garth spoke that which is now called the Harveian Oration; which the authors of the Biographia mention with more praise than the passage quoted in their notes will fully justify. Garth, speaking of the mischiess done by quacks, has these expressions: “Non tamen teiis vulnerar istaágyr“ tarum coluvies, sed theriacâ quadam magis perniciosa, non pyrio, sed pul
vere nescio quo exotico certat, non globulis plumbeis, sed pilulis æque “ letkalibus interficit." This tras certainly thought fine by the author, and N12
is still admired by his biographer. In October 1702 he became one of the censors of the College.
Garth, being an active and zealous Whig, was a member of the Kit-cat club, and bý, consequence familiarly known to all the great men of that denomination. In 1710, when the government fell into other hands, he writ to lord Godolphin, on his dismissicn, a short poem, which was criticised in. the Examiner, and so successfully either defended or excused by Mr. Addison, that, for the sake of the vindication, it ought to be preserved.
At the accession of the present Family his merits were acknowledged and rewarded. He was knighted with the sword of his hero, Marlborough; and was made physician in ordinary to the king, and physician-general to the army.
He then undertook an addition of Ovid's Metamorphoses, translated by several hands; which he recommended by a Preface, written with more os tentation than ability: his notions are half-formed, and his materials imme, thodically confused. This was his last work. He died Jan. 18, 1717-18, and was buried at Hårrow-on-the-Hill.
His personal character seems to have been social and liberal. He commue nicated himself through a very wide extent of acquaintance; and though firm in a party, at a time when firmness included virulence, yet he imparted his kindness to those who were not supposed to favour his principles. He was an early encourager of Pope, and was at once the friend of Addison and of Grenville. He is accused of voluptuousness and irreligion; and Pope, who says that “ if ever there was a good Christian, without knowing himself
to be so, it was Dr. Garth," seems not able to deny what he is angry to hear and loth to confess.
Pope afterwards declared himself convinced that Garth died in the communion of the Church of Rome, having been privately reconciled. It is observed by Lowth, that there is less distance than is thought between scepticism and popery, and that a mind, wearied with perpetual doubt, willingly
in the bosom of an infallible church. Stis
poetry has been praised at least equally to its merit. In the Dispensary there is a straik of smooth and free versification; but few lines are eminently elegant. No passages fall below mediocrity, and few rise much above it. The plan seems formed without just proportion to the sabject; the means and end have no necessary. connection. Resnal, in his Preface to Pope's Essay, remarks, that Garth exhibits no discrimination of characters ; and that what any one says mighi wit eqrial propriety have been said by another. The general design is perbaps open to criticism ; but the composition can seldom be charged with inaccuracy or negligence. The author never slumbers in
self-indulgente; his tall vigour is always exerted'; scarce a line is left unfinished, nor is it easy to find an expression used by constraint, or a thought imperfectly expressed. It was remarked by Pope, that the Dispensary had been corrected in every edition, and that every change was an improvement. It appears, however, to want something of poetical ardour, and something of general delectation; and therefore, since it has been no longer supported by accidental and extrinsick popularity, it has been scarcely able to support itself.