George Atherton Aitken.

The life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians online

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herself in it. I thank you no less for your kind message by
Mr. Lawes ^. The part wher you are interested & myself also
shall be punctually observed, that is a corner of the bin ^, of
the best & freshest shall be savd for you and your freinds ; but
nevertheless make haste. You may remember when Jack Hill '
heard of my pontack ® how he landed at the nearest place & run

^ Perhaps William Taylour, who ^ By his will Henry Watkins left

died at the age of 80 in September, to his ' dear and faithful friend

1732, and was buried in the west John Laws, Esq.,' his repeating

cloister of Westminster Abbey. He watch, and one of his horses,

■was Usher of the Long Koom in the ' The MS. has *Bing,' but 'bin'

Custom House, and is described in is evidently intended,

his will as of St. Clement Danes, * Lady Masham's brother.

Esquire. He was of a Dublin family. * Fine claret.



over the field ; &; guessed right that it was a going for he found
yourself & Sir David Dalrymple^ at it, but quantum mutatus
ab illo, alas you are not as you was then : a man may save
claret enough for your own drinking in your little dram box.
I can assure you we had a most excellent dinner from Lewis,
there was the stewed beef with the usual declaration ; he was
disappointed of some of his company, for there was enough for
twice as many .... I find there is no warning will work upon
you Batchelors till the fatal moment come that you are caught.
I look upon both you & your fellow traveller to be both men
of experience, but alas, there is no Security from thence, ther
are so many fatal wrecks of your Kind that I say again Marry
speedUy. Give this advice & my humble service to M^. Taylour.
I hope your Beef Stomack will not be like a Bath acquaintance,
pass with the water & forsake you at London. I can assure
you M^". Lawes whom I examined very particularly gave me an
extraordinary good account of you, that you was quite a neiv man.
I am sure I would not have you changed in any thing but your
health. I thank you for your kind concern for my Brother, he
is pretty well recovered. I was this day with M^, John Lawes ^
who lodges in my neighbourhood, he told me my Brother was
the only man in ffrance that had dealt with him as a man of

As for newes I know of none but what is in the newes
papers. You will see the jugle of Knight ^ carry 'd on in his
escape. The plague is come near Tholouse : it spreads, but is
not near so malignant as it was. The story of my freind M""*.
Murray you have read no doubt in Misfs Paper, which is pretty
near the truth *. The King has ordered the Attorney Gen^l to

' Sir David Dalrymple died in was much excitement as to what
the December following the date of might he his hiding-place. Among
this letter. He was uncle of the other things it was said that he

Earl of Stair, and one of the Scotch had gone to the Pretender's court.
Members of Parliament. He held * Msi's Jotmia? for October 21 con-

the office of Judge Advocate until tained an account of an attempted

a short time before his death. outrage by Ai-thur Gray, valet to

^ The famous John Law, having Lord Binny, eldest son of Lord

obtained the Royal pardon, reached Haddington, upon Mrs. Murray,

London on October 21, and on the Lady Pinny's sister. The attempt

following day kissed the King's was frustrated by the prolonged

hand. resistance made by the lady, and

' Robert Knight, late Treasurer Gray was caught and committed to

of the South Sea Company, had just Newgate. From thence he sent a

escaped from the Castle of Antwerp, letter to Mrs. Murray begging her

where he was imprisoned, and there to release him from a jjlace where



prosecute the fellow. I think I have wrote a pretty long letter
for a man that was up the most part of the night. Sir Matthew '
& his Lady & family are well, that is he is so so. The Mis-
fortune of Lord Rochester made him ill again after he was
pretty well recovered. A man has a fine time of it, that has
his quiet depending upon the fortunes of all his neighbours &
acquaintances. I long to see you in town & Remain

Dear Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,

Jo : Arbuthnott.
London, Octob : 24, 1721.

My wife gives you her humble service.

Dear Sir,

I went to Duke Street^ t'other day to enquire about my
worthy freind & found no tidings but only a token of two potts
which I hope at least is a sign that he remembers good eating
and drinking. I enquir'd of a gentleman who is just come to
town from Bath, & he sayes that M^. Taylour and you live so
privately ^ that you are supposed to have Ladys in a corner.

I cannot delay any longer telling you some good news of our
Freind D^". Bridges, to whom M"". Drake has given a living of
900 11. a year in Amondesham after the handsomest manner in
the world, as the Duke told me. I din'd with his Grace at
Lord Carleton's yesterday & he ask'd about your health. I
really could give his Grace no particular account, for the last
time I heard from you, you had had a return of your bilious
vomiting, & I cannot but applaud your design in staying a little

lie was compelled to hear blas-
phemies and execrations not to be
endured by one who had the fear
of God before his eyes. In Decem-
ber he was sentenced to death for
felony and bvirglary ; but he was
recommended to mercy by the jury,
and was reprieved through the in-
tercession of the lady's family. In
January the sentence was commu-
ted to transportation for life to the
Plantations. Lady M. W. Montagu,
who afterwards quarrelled with
Mrs. Murray, wrote one, if not
both of the two poems on the sub-
ject which were printed in the
Additions to Pope's Works, 1776.

descent, but a native of Amster-
dam, who settled in London in
1702. He was created a baronet in
1716, and married Henrietta, daugh-
ter of the Rev. Richard Watkins,
D.D., and sister of Henry Watkins,
Arbuthnot's corresi^ondent. He
had three daughters, but no son,
and the baronetcy therefore be-
came extinct upon his death in


^ Henry Watkins lived in Duke

Street when in London.

^ By his will, made in 1725,

Watkins left £200 to Mrs. Catherine

Hayes, 'in consideration of her

tender care of me during my illness

^ Sir Matthew Decker, of Flemish at the Bath.'

H 2


longer where you are, tho' it is at the expense of the loss of
your good company. Sir Matthew Decker is I think a great
deal better & passeth his night without that watchfulness.
Governour Harrison was coming there to dinner, & like the
boys at the university being rich wanted double commons.

There are no newes. There was a little Skirmish in the
house of Lords about the debt of the Navy, & they are to proceed
further upon it. The words they divided upon were to consider
of the debt of the navy & to prevent the like for the future,
against the latter clause of which the Court divided, about 3 to
5. The opposers have good courage for they are sure to be
beaten, I have letters from France which say that the plague
diminishes much there. I suppose that is the reason our
Stocks rise for the weather has a great influence now upon

You were pleas'd to ask me if I was fee'd for the pains I had
taken by the command of the gover*. I neither wished nor
expected it, for I thank God I proceed upon nobler motives
than those are.

Lord and Lady Masham are gone to Langly \ Master "^ has
had a sharp fever in town but is well recover'd. Lady Fan has
stuck close to Langly. They all remember you kindly. My
wife and my Bairns send you their best wishes, and so do's

Dear Sir,
Your most faithfull humble Serv*^

Jo : Arbuthnott.

London, Nov*'. 14, 1721.

Pope spoke very warmly of Arbuthnot's brother, Robert,
the banker, referred to in the first of the two preceding
letters, when writing to the Hon. Robert Digby ^ on the
ist of September, 1722 :

Doctor Arbuthnot * is going to Bath, and will stay there a
fortnight or more : perhaps you would be comforted to have a
sight of him, whether you need him or not. I think him as
good a doctor as any man for one that is ill, and a better doctor

' Lord Masham'3 seat. delicate, and died in 1726. Gay

^ The only surviving son of Lord wi-oto, ' See Digby faints at South-

Masham. He married in 1736. ern talking loud.'

^ TJie second son of William, fifth * The letter begins ' Your doctor/

Lord Digby. He had rooms at &c., in the 1735 edition of Pope's

Magdah n College, Oxford, of which letters.

he was a member. He was very



for one that is well. He would do admirably for Mrs. Maiy
Digby : she needed only to follow his hints, to be in eternal
business and amusement of mind, and even as active as she
could desire. But indeed I fear she would out- walk him ; for
(as Dean Swift observed to me the very first time I saw the
Doctor), ' He is a man that can do eveiy thing but walk.' His
brother, who is lately come into England, goes also to the Bath,
and is a more extraordinaiy man than he, worth your going
thither on purpose to know him. The spirit of philanthropy,
so long dead to our world, is revived in him : he is a philosopher
all of fire ; so warmly, nay so wildly in the right, that he
forces all others about him to be so too, and draws them into
his own vortex. He is a star that looks as if it were all fire,
but is all benignity, all gentle and beneficial influence. If
there be other men in the world that would seiwe a friend, yet
he is the only one, I believe, that could make even an enemy
serve a friend \

A few days later, on the nth of September, Pope wrote
to Gay, who, like Arbiithnot, Congreve, and other friends,
was then staying at Bath :

Dr. Arbuthnot is a strange creature ; he goes out of tovrn,
and leaves his bastards at other folk's doors ^ Pray let him
know I made veiy unfashionable enquiry the other day of the
welfare of his wife and family, things that I presume are below
the consideration of a wit and an ombre player. They are in
perfect health. Though Mrs. A[rbuthnot'sj navel has been

^ Writing to Caryll from Twicken-
ham in February, 1730, Pope said,
'The latter part of the holidays I
was upon the ramble, and now am
here with a friend whom I have
great reason to believe you would
be pleased to be acquainted with,
from a resemblance in a very strong
point to your friendship and opin-
ions, — I mean Mr. Robert Arbuth-
not, to whose character I think you
are not a stranger.'

^ The allusion is probably to some
writings by Arbuthnot which had
been attributed to Pope. A jiamph-
let called A Siq^pkment to Dean Sw — t's
MisceJlanies. By the Author, bearing
the date 1723, was published to-

wards the close of 1722, and it was
afterwards reprinted in Arbuthnot's
Miscellaneous Works. One piece in
this tract, ' An Essay upon an
Apothecary,' has especially been
attributed to Ai'buthnot, but there
is no satisfactoiy ground for con-
sidering it to be his. It has been
suggested (Notes and Queries, Sixth
Sex'ies, vol. vii, p. 498 that as the
tract was printed both in London
and Dublin, it was probably by
Swift or one of his friends ; but
the custom of reprinting pamphlets
in Dublin was so common that
little weight can be attached to
this argument.


burnt, I hope the Doctor's own belly is in absolute ease and

Pray consult with Dr. Arbuthnot and Dr. Cheyne ', to what
exact pitch your belly may be suffered to swell, not to outgrow
theirs, who are, yet, your betters. Tell Dr. Arbuthnot that
even pigeon-pies and hog's puddings are thought dangerous by
our governors ; for those that have been sent to the Bishop of
Rochester are opened and profanely pryed into at the Tower " :
'Tis the first time dead pigeons have been suspected of canying
intelligence. To be serious, you and Mr. Congreve and the
Doctor will be sensible of my concern and surprize at his
commitment, whose welfare is as much my concern as any
friend's I have .... If you apprehend this period to be of any
danger in being addressed to you, tell Mr. Congreve, or the
Doctoi', it is writ to them.

Messages to various friends were sent in other letters
from Pope to Gray, written about this time. ' I have been
made to expect Dr. Arbuthnot in town this fortnight,
or else I had written to him. If he, by never writing
to me, seems to forget me, I consider I do the same
seemingly to him, and yet I don't believe he has a more
sincere friend in the world than I am : therefore I will
think him mine.' In January 1723 Swift wrote that he
was heartily sorry to hear Gay was suffering from colic ^.
' I believe our friend Arbuthnot will recommend you to

* Dr. Cheyne was a great friend reference to Arbuthnot's brother in

of Pope's. See a letter from Pope one of the papers relating to Atter-

to Mr. Gerrard, May 17, 1740. bury, printed in the Appendix to

^ The Government had been the Report of the Committee ap-

aware for some time of a Jacobite pointed by order of the House of

plot which had Atterbury for one Commons to enquire into the con-

of its leaders. At the end of July spiracy. This letter, from which

a Captain Kelly was arrested, and the signature had been torn, is

on the 24th of August the Bishop dated Rouen, Jan. 15, 1721-2, and

of Rochester was brought before a the writer says, ' As I shall pass the

committee of the Privy Council, winter here, if you are pleased to

and was sent to the Tower on a honour me with your commands,

charge of high treason. He was you may address them "A. Mons.

banished in 1723. Pope wrote to Wishart, chez Messieurs Arbuthnot

Swift on January 12, ' It is sure my & Compagnie a Rouen, en Nor-

ill fate that all those I most loved mandie." '

must be banished : after both of ^ Gay had told Swift in the pre-
you [Swift and Bolingbroke] left ceding month that he was lodging
England, my constant host was the at Burlington House, and had ' re-
Bishop of Rochester.' There is a ceived many civilities from mai^y


temperance and exercise. I wisli they could have as
good an effect upon the giddiness I am subject to, and
which this moment I am not free from.' Gay replied on
the 3rd of February : ' I was two or three days ago at
Dr. Arbuthnot's, who told me he wrote you three letters,
but had received no answer. He charged me to send
you his advice, which is to come to England and see
your friends. This he affirms (abstracted from the desire
he has to see you) to be very good for your health. He
thinks that your going to Spa, and drinking the waters
there, would be of great service to you, if you have reso-
lution enough to take the journey. But he would have
you try England first. I like the prescription very much,
but I own I have a self-interest in it ; for your taking
this journey would certainly do me a great deal of good
.... I dined about a fortnight ago with Lord Bathurst^
and Lewis at Dr. Arbuthnot's. Whenever your old ac-
quaintance meet, they never fail of expressing their want
of you. I wish you would come, and be convinced that
what I tell you is true.'

Arbuthnot sent the following letter to Pope in Sep-
tember. It bears no date :

Dear Sir,
I have yours, and thank you for the care of my picture. I
will not be used like an old good for nothing, by Mrs. Patty '\
The handsome thing would have been to have taken away my
picture and sent me her own ; now to return the compliment
I must pay for hers. I hope she is well, and if I can make her
so, it will be a sensible pleasure to me. I know nobody has a
better right to a lady's good looks in a picture than her
physician, if he can procure them.

great men, but very few real bene- his poultice for hunger.'

fits.' Arbuthnot is reported to have ^ Allen Apsley, Lord Bathurst

remarked in conversation, ' D'ye (i684-i775\ was one of the Tory

see now, I went to visit him, and peers created in 171 1. He was

ordered him a poultice for his kindly and vivacious to the end of

swelled face. He said Lord and his long life.

Lady Burlington were very good ^ Martha Blount,
to him, but the poor creature eat



I was with my Lord Peterborough when I received yours.
He was spick & span new just come from France. You were
tlie first man he asked for, I dined with him and the Mrs.
Robinsons^ on Tuesday, and supped with hmi last night with
the same company. He had been employed all that day in
[removing] the Robinsons' [goods] ^ for them, which he executed
with great conduct. I cannot tell how much I am obliged to
him, he delivered a memorial from me to the regent with his
own hand ^ He is mightily enamoured of my brother Robert ;
he is indeed a knight errant like himself. I am just now going

^ Probably Mrs. Robinson and
Anastasia and Margaret Robinson.
The father of these young ladies
was a portrait painter, who, upon
the death of their mother while
they were infants, married a Miss
Lane, and soon afterwards lost his
sight. According to Sir John Haw-
kins {History of Music, 1853, vol. ii.
p. 870), Mr. Robinson had two
daughters by his first wife, the
elder of whom was designed for a
singer, and the younger, Margaret,
for a miniature painter. But Mar-
garet insisted on learning singing,
and was sent to Paris. Her bash-
fulness and smallness of stature,
however, prevented her becoming
a public performer ; and she ulti-
mately married a Colonel Bowles.
In the meantime Anastasia pros-
pered as a singer, and in this
manner supported her father until
she married Lord Peterborough.
The Dowager Duchess of Portland,
who had been her patroness, told
Sir John Hawkins that Mr. Robin-
son had also one daiighter by his
second wife, and that she married
Mr. George Arbuthnot, a wine
merchant. Dr. Burney, on the
other hand {History of Music, 1789,
vol. iv. p. 2481 says that Mrs.
Delany, who had been Anastasia
Robinson's intimate acquaintance,
told him that Anastasia 'had one
sister, a very pretty accomplished
woman, who married Dr. Arbuth-
not's brother.' Which of these
accounts is correct we cannot now
say with certainty ; but the ' sister '

mentioned by Mrs. Delany may,
after all, have been only a half-
sister, as stated by the Duchess of
Portland. If so, however, Mrs.
Delany knew nothing, aj^parently,
of the sister who married Colonel
Bowles ; and there is the difficulty,
though that is not insurmountable,
that according to this theory Mr.
Robinson had two daughters (one
by each wife) christened Margaret ;
for we know that the name of
George Arbuthuot's wife was

- Not clearly decypherable. After
Mr. Robinson's death, Lord Peter-
borough took a house for Mrs.
Robinson and his daughters at
Parson's Green, near his own villa ;
and this may be the removal here
referred to. According to one ver-
sion (Hau-kins, vol. ii. p. 870 seq.)
Anastasia retired from the opera
about 1723, and went to live with
Lord Peterborough at Parson's
Green, where she was visited by
eveiyone, though her marriage was
not publicly acknowledged until
1735. According to another ac-
count [Burney, vol. iv. pp. 242-9)
she never lived under the same
roof with Lord Peterborough, till
her husband, who was ill, begged her
to attend him at Mount Bevis, his
seat near Southampton (see letter
from Pope to Arbuthnot, Aug. 25,


^ Lord Peterborough was in Paris
in August, and the Regent died on
the 22nd of November.


to Langley, — not that Master is in any danger, but to ortkr
some things after the smallpox. I am heartily glad Mrs. Pope
keeps her health this summer.


On the 30th of September, 1723, Arbutlinot was made
Second Censor by the College of Physicians. A few days
earlier Swift had sent Pope a somewhat melancholy letter
upon the loneliness of his own life, and the difficulty of
making new friends. 'You must,' he said, 'remember
me with great affection to Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Congreve,
and Gay.' In November, Arbuthnot sent Swift the
following kindly letter, in order to cheer him in his
isolation. Arbuthnot himself maintained his spirits in
spite of stone in the kidney, and the care of providing
for a grown-up family.

[Endorsed, ' Received Nov. 17, 1723.']
Dear Sir,

I have as good a right to invade your solitude as Lord
B[olingbroke], Gay, or Pope, and you see I make use of it. I
know you wish us all at the devil for robbing a moment from
your vapours and vertigo. It is no matter for that ; you shall
have a sheet of paper every post till you come to yourself. By
a paragraph in yours to Mr. Pope, I find you are in the case of
the man who held the whole night by a broom-brush, and
found when day-light appeared, he was within two inches of
the ground. You don't seem to know how well you stand
with our great folks. I myself have been at a great man's
table, and have heard, out of the mouths of violent Irish
whigs, the whole table-talk turn upon your commendation.
If it had not been upon the general topic of your good qualities,
and the good you did, I should have grown jealous of you.
My intention in this is not to expostulate, but to do you good.
I know how unhappy a vertigo makes any body, that has the
misfortune to be troubled with it. I might have been deep in
it myself, if I had a mind, and ^^'ill propose a cui-e for you,
that I will pawn my reputation upon. I have of late sent
several patients in that case to the Spa, to drink there of the


Geronster water, which will not carry from the spot. It has
succeeded marvellously with them all. There was indeed one,
who relapsed a little this last summer, because he would not
take my advice, and return to his course, that had been too short
the year before. But, because the instances of eminent men
are m.ost conspicuous. Lord Whitworth \ our plenipotentiary,
had this desease, (which, by the way, is a little disqualifying
for that employment) ; he was so bad, that he was often forced
to catch hold of anything to keep him from falling. I know
he has recovered by the use of that water, to so great a degree,
that he can ride, walk, or do anything as formerly. I leave
this to your consideration. Your friends here wish to see you,
and none more than myself ; but I really don't advise you to
such a journey to gratify them or myself ; but I am almost
confident, it would do you a great deal of good. The Dragon is
just the old man, when he is roused. He is a little deaf, but
has all his other good and bad qualities just as of old. Lord
B[olingbroke] is much imjiroved in knowledge, manners, and
every thing else. The shaver ^ is an honest friendly man as
before ; he has a good deal to do to smother his Welsh fire,
which you know he has in a greater degree than some would
imagine. He posts himself a good part of the year in some
warm house, wins the ladies money at ombre, and convinces
them that they are highly obliged to him. Lord and Lady
M[asham], Mr. Hill, and Mrs. Hill, often remember you with

As for your humble servant, with a great stone in his right
kidney, and a family of men and women to provide for, he is as
cheerful as ever in public affairs. He has kept, as Tacitus says,
'Medium iter inter vile servitium et abruptam contumaciam.'
He never rails at a great man, but to his face ; which, I can
assure you, he has had both the opportunity and licence to do.
He has some few weak friends, and fewer enemies ; if any, he
is low enough to be rather despised than pushed at by them.
I am faithfully, dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,

J. Arbuthnott.

In September, 1724, Arbutlmot was with Gay at Bath,
and on his way back to London with his brother he visited

' Charles Whitworth, a practised issue in 1725.

diplomatist, was created Baron ^ Erasmus Lewis ; see Dr. Swift's

Whitworth, in the peerage of Ire- Imitation of Horace, Ep. vii. B. i,

land, in 1720, but died without ' This Lewis is an errant shaver.'


Oxford^. He is not unreasonably supposed to have written
Reasons humbly offered by the Company exercising the trade
and mystery of Upholders^ against part of the Bill for the
better vleiuing, searching, and examining drugs, medicines,
&c. This satirical piece first appeared, with many others
on the subject, in 1724, in the form of a quarto pamphlet,
without any printer's name, and it was afterw^ards in-
cluded in the additional volume of Miscellanies pub-
lished by Pope in 1732. The College of Phj^sicians had
aj^plied to Parliament to prevent ap)othecaries dispensing

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 10 of 47)