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He seems to have been one of those poets who take delight in writing. He contributed to the papers of that time, and probably published more than he owned. He left many compositions behind him, of which Pope selected those which he thought best, and dedicated them to the Earl of Oxford. Of these Goldsmith has given an opinion, and his criticism it is seldom safe to contradict. He bestows just praise upon The Rise of Woman, The Fairy Tale, and The Pervigilium Veneris, but has very properly remarked, that in The Battle of Mice and Frogs, the Greek names have not in English their original effect.
He tells us, that The Book-Worm is borrowed from Beza ; but he should have added with modern applications: and, when he discovers that Gay Bacchus is translated from Augurellus, he ought to have remarked that the latter part is purely Parnell's. Another poem, When Spring comes on, is, he says, taken from the French. I would add, that the description of Barrenness, in his verses to Pope, was borrowed from Secundus; but lately searching for the passage, which I had formerly-read, I could not find it. The Night-piece on Death is indirectly preferred by Goldsmith to Gray's Church-Yard; but, in my opinion Gray has the advantage in dignity, variety, and originality of 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 Arabian.
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 less is his own. His praise must be derived from the easy sweetness of his diction: in his verses there is more happiness than pains; he is sprightly 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 say whether they are the productions of Nature, so excel. lent as not to want the help of Art, or of Art so refined as to resemble Nature.
This criticism 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 not whence they come, nor have ever inquired whither they are going. They stand upon the faith of the compilers,
SAMUEL 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 became 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 a 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 suppose 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 true, that physicians have had more learning than the other faculties, I will not stay to inquire; but, I believe, every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusion of beneficence, and willingness 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 fel lows, 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 answered, that it should be sufficient to bring a testimonial from the clergyman 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 phy,
sick; 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 expense should manage the charity.
It was now expected, that the apothecaries would have undertaken the care of providing medicines ; but they 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 mean 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 Apothecaries should adjust the price. This offer was rejected; and the apothecaries who had engaged to assist the charity were considered as traitors to the company, threatened with the imposition of troublesome offices, and deterred from the performance of their engagements. The apothecaries ventured upon publick opposition, and presented a kind of remonstrance against the design to the committee of the city, which the physicians condescended to confute; and at last 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 ; and in 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 the passions and prejudices then prevalent, and, with such auxiliaries to its intrinsick merit, was universally and liberally applauded. It was on the 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 quotech in their notes will fully justify. Garth, speaking of the mischiefs done by quacks, has these expressions : “ Non tamen telis vulnerat ista agyrtarum colluvies, “ sed theriaca quadam magis perniciosa, non pyrio, sed
pulvere nescio quo exotico certat, non globulis plum" beis, sed pilulis æque lethalibus interficit.” This was certainly thought fine by the author, and 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, by 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 dismission, 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.