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author of ' Historical Collections,' passed the last years of his life in jail, where indeed he died. After the Restoration, when he presented to the king several of the privy council's books, which he had preserved from ruin, he received for his only reward, the thanks of his Majesty!
"Dr. Dee, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, the celebrated mathematician, (whose intercourse with invisible spirits the reader may recollect) was a very learned man. After having collected a library of 4000 volumes, and enriched it with mathematical instruments and MSS. and even in possession of a wide reputation, died in extreme poverty.
"Rymer, the collector of the Fcedera, must have been sadly reduced, by the following letter, addressed by Peter le Noire Norroy to the Earl of Oxford, preserved in the British Museum—
"I am desired by Mr. Rymer, historiographer, to lay before your lordship the circumstances of his affairs. He was forced some years back to part with all his choice printed books to subsist himself; and now, he says, he must be forced, for subsistence, to sell all his MS. collections to the best bidder, without your lordship will be pleased to buy them for the queen's library. They are fifty volumes, in folio, of public affairs, which he hath collected, but not printed. The price he asks is five hundred pounds."
"Simon Ockley, a most learned scholar in oriental literature, addresses a letter to the same Earl, in which he paints his distresses in colors not less just than they are glowing. After having devoted his life to Asiatic researches, then not less uncommon than they were valuable, he had the satisfaction of dating his preface to his great work from Cambridge Castle, where he was confined for debt; and he does this with an air of triumph, as a martyr feels enthusiasm in the cause for which he perishes.
"Spenser—amiable poet!—languished out his life in misery. 'The queen,'says Dr. Granger, * was far from having a just sense of his merit: and Lord Burleigh, who prevented her giving him a hundred pounds, seems to have thought the lowest clerk in his office a more deserving person. He died in want of bread.'
"Savage, in the pressing hour of distress, sold that eccentric poem, The Wanderer, which had occupied him several years, for ten pounds.
"Even our great Milton, as every one knows, sold his immortal work for ten pounds to a bookseller, being too poor to undertake the printing it on his own account; and Otway, and Butler, and Chatterton, it is sufficient to name. The latter, while he supplied a variety of Monthly Magazines with their chief materials, found * a penny tart a luxury;' and a luxury it was to him, who could not always get bread to his water.
"Samuel Boyce, whose poem on creation ranks high in the poetic scale, was absolutely famished to death; and was found dead in a garret, with a blanket thrown over his shoulders, fastened by a skewer, with a pen in his hand!" Two or three of the above cases I take to be a little incorrect and somewhat overcharged : but I give them as an extract, and as containing a greater body of truths, which cannot be disputed.
To enlarge the above catalogue would be no difficult task: if any reader chooses to pursue the inquiry he will find abundant examples in Bayle's Dictionary, and in some Latin treatises' published many years ago on the misfortunes of learned men. Enough has been here noticed to justify the following conclusions :—That genius, like beauty, may be ruinous to those who possess it; that literature, like virtue, must, sometimes, be its own reward; that poetry has been considered as allied to poverty, so as to have given birth to the vulgar proverb; —and that, after what has happened to Homer, Tasso, Milton, Spenser, and Butler, no poet has a right to complain of hard fortune.
When Butler, needy wretch, was yet alive,
Samuel Westley's Poems.
'Petri Aligonii medici legatus, sive de exilio, libri duo: Accessere Pierius Valerianus, et Cornelius Tollius, de infelicitate literatorum, ut et Josephus Barberius de miseria poetarum Graccorum.
To be concluded in No. XXVII.
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH,
(AS A SCHOOL OF MEDICINE,)
FROM THE ASPERSIONS OF "A MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD."
BY LAWSON WHALLEY, M.D.
IXTRAORDINARY MEMBER OF THE ROYAL MEDICAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH:
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH,
These remarks owe their origin to a paper published in the "Pamphleteer," for May 1814, under the title of " Observations on Medical Reform, by a Member of the University of Oxford," and which has just fallen under the observation of the author.
The Oxonian commences by saying, "It might naturally have been expected that the morbid tendency of the present generation to reform, would have received such a check from the dreadful examples that have exhibited themselves in many situations, as at least to deter the prudent from dangerous attempts. Those examples, it is true, have been chiefly displayed by political reformers; they have run their course, their day is past, and most of them have experienced the lot they deserved. There is, however, a sign of the times, a portentous contempt of the great masters of ancient genius, which makes me suspect that the political reformer has only changed his garb, that he has descended from palaces and courts, to colleges and academies, only to play a surer game."
Now, as I have a right to my suspicions, as well as himself, I suspect, that, as there is no connection between politics and medicine, the political reformer who steps so much out of his way, as to engage in, or foment disputes among medical men, will find, to his cost, that his time has been mis-spent, and that he will only receive his trouble for his pains. As to any " contempt of the great masters of ancient genius," as far as medicine is concerned, I confess I know of none such; and I believe I shall be fully borne out in asserting, that the writings of the great father of physic, as well as the other ancient physicians, obtain at this day, quite as much attention as they deserve ; especially, as very great portions of them, can now only be perused as matter of curiosity. He further says, "I think myself justified in this remark, by the insolent tone of the medical reformers, as they styled themselves, by the clamorous audacity of their partisans, and by the levelling system they openly promulgated before the apothecary's bill or act was hissed out of the house of parliament last year (1813.")'
As one assertion is as good as another, I assert, that the medical reformers evinced no insolence, unless a manly and independent spirit be insolence; many of them were feelingly alive to their wrongs, and sought redress; "even a worm will turn when trod upon."
In order that reformers may not in future have the plea of ignorance, the Oxonian here gives an account of the establishment of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and the end that was proposed to be answered by it: he further states, that the college was to consist of doctors of physic of Oxford and Cambridge, who had regularly taken their degrees, and upon due examination, were found qualified; "in order that a fit body of men might never be wanted for executing these beneficial regulations," (i. e. those enjoined the college by their charter.)
The author of the Observations, speaking of the examination of a candidate before the Royal College, says ; " This examination is perhaps one of the most arduous that can be imposed. For three several days the candidate is questioned in Latin, on Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics, and all other branches of medical science, and thrice is he obliged to display his knowledge of Greek literature, by reading publicly and extemporaneously difficult passages of Aretaeus or some other medical classic."
What sort of an examination does the candidate undergo upon the subject of medical pharmacy? With this brief account given by the author of the examination of a candidate for admission into this royal and chartered institution, I have no fault to find ; but he goes on to say, " Such is the stream, which perpetually replenishes the College of Physicians; and I believe, that in no period of its his* tory has any other corporate body contained more wise, more learned, more virtuous, or more illustrious men, in proportion to its numbers. Shades of Caius, of Mayerne, of Harvey, of Sydenham, of Willis, of Freind, of Lister, of Morton, of Petit, of Mead, of Lawrence, of Nichols, of Baker, and of Heberden, ye are immortal witnesses."
Does the authorof the Observations wish it to be believed, that the illustrious men he has mentioned obtained their medical knowledge at either Oxford or Cambridge? He knows full well, (whatever he may wish the public to believe,) that they neither could, nor did obtain their knowledge of medicine, at either of these universities, as they neither are, nor have been, schools of medicine.
'Vide the papers published on the subject of" Medical Reform."