George Atherton Aitken.

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

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his breeches and stockings ; because the discoboli (as Cornelius
well knew) were naked to the middle only. The mother often
contended for modern sports and common customs, but this
was his constant reply, ' Let a daughter be the care of her
mother, but the education of a son should be the delight of his


It was aLout this time ho heard, to his exceeding content,
that the Imrpasius of the ancients was yet in use in Cornwall,
and known there by the name of hurling. He was sensible the
common football was a very imperfect imitation of that exer-
cise, and thought it necessaiy to send Maiim into the west,
to be initiated in that truly ancient and manly part of the
gymnastics. The poor boy was so unfortunate as to return
with a broken leg. This Cornelius looked upon but as a slight
ailment, and promised his mother he would instantly cure it :
he slit a green reed, and cast the knife upward, then tying
the two parts of the reed to the disjointed place, pi'onounced
these words', Daries, daries, astataries, dissunapiter ; huat,
hanat, huat, ista, XJista, fista, domi abo, damnaustra. But
finding, to his no small astonishment, that this had no effect,
in five days he condescended to have it set by a modern

Mrs. Scriblerus, to prevent him from exposing her son to the
like dangerous exercises for the future, projDOsed to send for a
dancing master, and to have him taught the minuet and riga-
doon. 'Dancmg,' quoth Cornelius, 'I much approve, for
Socrates said the best dancers were the best warriors ; but not
those species of dancing which you mention : they are certainly
cori-uptions of the comic and satyiic dance, which were utterly
disliked by the sounder ancients. Martin shall learn the tragic
dance only, and I will send all over Europe, till I find an anti-
quary able to instruct him in the saltatlo pyrrhica. Scaliger",
from whom my son is Imeally descended, boasts to have per-
formed tliis warlike dance in the presence of the Emperor, to
the great admiration of all Germany. What would he say,
could he look down and see one of his posterity so ignorant
as not to know the least step of that noble kind of saltation ? '

The poor lady was at last inured to bear all these things with
a laudable patience, till one day her husband was seized with a
new thought. He had met with a saying, that ' spleen, garter,
and giixUe are the three impediments to the cursus.' Therefore

* Plin. Hist. Kat. lib. xvii. in saltationem Pyrrhicani, nos saepe et

fine. ' Carmen contra luxata mem- diu, jussu Bonifacii patrui, coram

bra, cujus verba inserere non equi- Divo Maximiliano, non sine stupore

dem serio ausim, quanquam a totiiis Germaniae, reprsesentavimus.

Catone prodita.' Vid. Caton. de re Quo tempore vox ilia Imperatoris,

rust. c. 160 (^Pope). Hie puer aut thoracem pro pelle aut

^ Scalig. Poetic. 1. x. c. 9. ' Hanc pro cunis habuit ' ^Pope),


Pliny (lib. xi. cap. 37) says, that such as excel in that exercise
have then- spleen cauterised. 'My son,' quoth Cornelius, 'runs
but heavily ; therefore I will have this operation performed
upon him immediately. Moreover it will cure that mimoderate
laughter to which I perceive he is addicted : for laughter (as the
same author hath it, ihld.^ is caused by the bigness of the spleen.'
This design was no sooner hinted to Mrs. Scriblerus, but she
burst into tears, WTung her hands, and instantly sent to his
brother Albertus, begging him for the love of God to make
haste to her husband.

Albertus was a discreet man, sober in his opinions, clear of
pedantry, and knowing enough, both in books and in the world,
to presence a due regard for whatever was useful or excellent,
whether ancient or modern : if he had not always the authority,
he had at least the art, to divert Cornelius from many ex-
travagances. It was well he came speedily, or Martin could
not have boasted the entire quota of his viscera. ' What does
it signify,' quoth Albeiius, 'whether my nephew excels in the
cursiis or not ? Speed is often a symptom of cowardice, w^itness
hares and deer.' — 'Do not forget Achilles,' quoth Cornelius:
'I know that running has been condemned by the proud
Spartans, as useless in war ; and yet Demosthenes could say,

'Avi)p 6 (fyivyoiv /cat -nakw iinxna-frat • a thought wllich the English

Hudibras has well rendered : —

For he that runs may fight again,
Wllich he can never do that's slain.

'That is true,' quoth Albertus, 'but pray consider on the other
side that animals spleened ' grow extremely salacious, an ex-
periment well loiown in dogs. ' Cornelius was struck with this,
and replied gravely : ' If it be so, I will defer the operation, for I
will not increase the powers of my son's body at the expense of
those of his mind. I am indeed disappointed in most of my
projects, and fear I must sit down at last contented with such
methods of education as modern barbarity affords. Happy had
it been for us all had we lived in the age of Augustus ! Then my
son might have heard the philosophers dispute m the porticos of
the Palaestra, and at the same time formed his body and his
understanding.' 'It is true,' replied Albertus, 'we have no
excdra for the philosophers adjoining to our tennis-courts ; but
there are ale-houses where he will hear very notable argumenta-

' Blackmore's Essay on Spleen i^Pope).


tions : though we come not up to the ancients in the tragic-
dance, we excel them in the Kv;ii(iTiKr]^ or the art of tumbling.
The ancients would have beat us at quoits, but not so much at
the jaculum, or pitching the bar. The pit gilatus^ is in as great
perfection in England as in old Eome, and the Cornish hug in
the luctus^ is equal to the volutaiorio of the ancients.' 'You
could not,' answered Cornelius, 'have produced a more un-
lucky instance of modern folly and barbarity, than what
you say of the jaculum. The Cretans' wisely forbid their
servants gymnastics, as well as arms ; and yet your modern
footmen exercLse themselves daily in the jaculum at the
corner of Hyde Park, whilst their enen^ated lords are lolling
in theii" chariots (a species of vectitation seldom vised among
the ancients, except by old men).' 'You say well,' quoth
Albertus, 'and we have several other kinds of vectitation
unknown to the ancients ; particularly fiymg chariots, where
the people may have the benefit of this exercise at the
small expense of a farthing. But suppose (which I readily
grant) that the ancients excelled us almost in everything, yet
why this smgularity? Your son must take up with such
masters as the present age affords ; we have dancing-masters,
writing-masters, and music-masters. '

The bare mention of music threw Cornelius into a passion.
' How can you dignify,' quoth he, ' this modern fiddling with the
name of music ? Will any of your best hautboys encounter a
wolf nowadays with no other arms but their instruments, as
did that ancient pij^er Pythocaris ? Have ever wild boars,
elephants, deer, dolphins, whales or turbots, shewed the least
emotion at the most elaborate strains of your modern scrapers,
all which have been, as it were, tamed and humanized by
ancient musicians ? Does not -^lian * tell us how the Libyan
mares were excited to horsmg by music? (which ought in
truth to be a caution to modest women agamst frequenting
operas ; and consider, brother, you are brought to this dilemma,
either to give vip the vuiue of the ladies, or the power of your
music. ) Whence proceeds the degeneracy of our morals ? Is
it not from the loss of ancient music, by which (says Aristotle)
they taught all the vu-tues ? else might we turn Newgate into a

^ Fisticuffs (^Pope}. (^Pope).

- Wrestling (Pope\ * Julian. Hist. Animal, lib. xi.

^ Aristot. Politic, lib. ii. cap. 3 cap. 18. and lib. xii. cap. 44 ^PopcJ.


college of Dorian musicians, who should teach moral vii-tues to
those people. Whence comes it that our present diseases are so
stubborn ? whence is it that I daily deplore my sciatical pains ?
Alas ! because we have lost their true cure, by the melody of
the pipe. All this was well known to the ancients, as Theo-
phrastus^ assures us (whence Ca^lius^ calls it loca dolenfia
decaniare^, only indeed some small remains of this skill are
presei-ved in the cure of the tarantula. Did not Pythagoras'
stop a company of drunken bullies from storming a civil house
by changing the strain of the pipe to a sober spondseus ? and
yet your modern musicians want art to defend their windows
from common nickers. It is well known, that when the Lace-
daemonian mob were up they commonly* sent for a Lesbian
musician to appease them, and they immediately grew calm as
soon as they heard Terpander sing ; yet I don't believe that the
Pope's whole band of music, though the best of this age,
could keep his Holiness's image from being burnt on a fifth of
November.' 'Nor would Terpander hunself,' replied Albertus,
'at Billingsgate, nor Timotheus at Hockley-in-the-Hole, have
any manner of effect, nor ])oth of them together bring Horneck®
to common civility.' 'That is a gross mistake,' said Cornelius
very warmly, ' and to prove it so, I have here a small lyre of
my own, framed, strung, and tuned after the ancient manner.
I can play some fragments of Lesbian tunes, and I wish I were
to tiy them upon the most passionate creatures alive.' — 'You
never had a better opportunity,' says Albertus, 'for yonder are
two apple-women scolding, and just ready to uncoif one
another.' With that Cornelius, undressed as he was, jumps out
into his balcony, his lyre in hand, in his slippers, with his
breeches hanging down to his ankles, a stocking upon his head,
and waistcoat of murrey-coloured satin upon his body ; he
touched his lyre with a veiy unusual sort of an harpegiatura,
nor were his hopes frustrated. The odd equipage, the uncouth
instrument, the strangeness of the man and of the music,
drew the ears and eyes of the Mdiole mob that were got about
the two female champions, and at last of the combatants them-
selves. They all aj^proached the balcony, in as close attention

' Athenaeus, lib. xiv (Pope). '' Horneck, a scurrilous scribbler,

2 Lib. de Sanitate Tuenda, cap. 2 who wrote a weekly paper, called

(Pope). Tlie High German Doctor. See Dunciad,

^ Quintilian. lib. i. cap. 10, Pope). III. 152.
* Suidas in Timotheo (Pope).


as Orj^heus's first audience of cattle, or that of an Italian opera,
when some favourite air is just awakened. This sudden effect
of his music encouraged him mightily, and it was obsen^ed he
never touched his lyre in such a truly chromatic and unhar-
nionic manner as upon that occasion. The mob laughed, sung,
jumped, danced, and used many odd gestures, all which he
judged to be caused by the various strains and modulations.
' Mark, ' quoth he, ' in this the power of the Ionian, in that you
see the effect of the Ji^olian.' But in a little time they began to
grow riotous, and throw stones : Cornelius then withdrew, but
with the greatest air of triumph in the world. ' Brother, ' said
he, 'do you observe I have mixed unawares too much of the
Phiygian ; I might change it to the Lydian, and soften their
riotous tempers : but it is enough ; learn from this sample to
speak with veneration of ancient music. If this lyre in my
unskilful hands can perform such wonders, what must it not
have done in those of a Timotheus or a Terpander ! ' Having
said this, he retired with the utmost exultation in himself,
and contempt of his brother ; and, it is said, behaved that
night with such unusual haughtiness to his fjimily, that
they all had reason to wish for some ancient tibicen to calm
his temper.


Rhetoeic, Logic, and Metaphysics.

Cornelius having (as hath been said) many ways been disap-
pointed in his attempts of improving the bodily forces of his
son, thought it now high time to apply to the culture of his
internal faculties. He judged it proper, in the first place, to
instruct him in Rhetoric. But herein we shall not need to give
the reader any account of his wonderful progress, since it is
already known to the learned world by his treatise on this sub-
ject : I mean the admu-able discourse iifpi Ba^ov? \ which he
wrote at this time, but concealed from his father, knowing his
extreme partiality for the ancients. It lay by him concealed,
and perhaps forgot among the great multiplicity of other writings,
till, about the year 1727, he sent it us to be printed, with
many additional examples drawn from the excellent live poets

^ The Art of Sinking in Poetry, chiefly by Pope. It was published in tlie
Miscellanies of 1727.


of this present age. We proceed therefore to Logic and

The wise Cornelius was convinced that these, being polemical
arts, could no more be learned alone than fencing or cudgel-
playing. He thought it therefore necessary to look out for
some youth of pregnant parts, to be a sort of humble companion
to his son m those studies. His good fortune directed him to
one of the most singular endowments, whose name was Con-
radus Crambe, who, by the father's side, was related to the
Crouches of Cambridge, and his mother was cousin to Mr.
Swan, gamester and punster of the city of London. So that
froni both parents he drew a natural disposition to spoi-t himself
with words, which as they are said to be the counters of mse
men, and ready-money of fools, Crambe had great store of
cash of the latter sort. Happy Martin in such a parent and
such a companion ! What might not he achieve m arts and
sciences ?

Here I must premise a general observation of great benefit to
mankind : that there are many people who have the use only of
one operation of the intellect, though, like short-sighted men,
they can hardly discover it themselves ; they can form single
aj)prehensions ^, but have neither of the other two faculties, the
jitdkium or dlscursus. Now as it is wisely ordered that people
deprived of one sense have the others in more perfection, such
people will form single ideas with a great deal of vivacity ;
and happy were it indeed if they could confine themselves
to such, without forming judicia, much less argumentation.

Cornelius quickly discovered, that these two last operations
of the intellect were very weak in Martin, and almost totally
extinguished in Crambe ; however he used to say that rules of
logic are spectacles to a purblind understandmg, and therefore
he resolved to proceed with his two pupUs.

Martin's understanding was so totally immersed in sensible
objects, that he demanded examples from material things of the
abstracted ideas of logic ; as for Crambe, he contented himself
with the words, and when he could but form some conceit upon
them, was fully satisfied. Thus Crambe would tell his in-

> When Dr. Mead once urged to inscrij^tion, he replied, that he

our author the authority of Pat- would allow a Dictionary-maker to

rick the Dictionary-maker against understand a single word, but not

the Latinity of the expression amor two words put together (Warton).
publims, which he had used in an



stnictor that all men were not singular ; that individuality
could hardly be predicated of any man, for it was commonly
said that a man is not the same he was ; that madmen are
beside themselves, and drunken men come to themselves ;
which shows that few men have that most valuable logical
endowment, individuality'. Cornelius told Martin that a
shoulder of mutton was an individual, which Crambe denied,
for he had seen it cut into commons ; 'that's true,' quoth the
tutor, 'but yovi never saw it cut into shoulders of mutton.' ' If
it could,' quoth Crambe, ' it would be the most lovely individual
of the university.' When he was told a substance was that
which was subject to accidents ; 'then soldiers,' quoth Crambe,
'are the most substantial people in the world.' Neither would
he allow it to be a good definition of accident, that it could be
present or absent without the destruction of the subject ; since
there are a great many accidents that destroy the subject, as
burning does a house, and death a man. But as to that,
Cornelius informed him that there was a natural death, and a
logical death ; that though a man, after his natural death, was not
capable of the least parish office, yet he might still keep his
stall amongst the logical predicaments.

Cornelius was forced to give Martin sensible images. Thus,
calling up the coachman, he asked him what he had seen in the
bear-garden ? The man answered, he saw two men fight a
prize ; one was a fair man, a Serjeant in the Guards ; the other
black, a butcher : the serjeant had red breeches, tlie butcher
blue ; they fought upon a stage about four o'clock, and the
Serjeant wounded the butcher in the leg. 'Mark,' quoth Cor-
nelius, ' how the fellow runs through their predicaments. Men,
substantia ; two, quantltas ; fair and black, qiialUas ; serjeant
and butcher, relatio ; wounded the other, actio et passio ; fight-
ing, situs ; stage, uhi ; two [sic] o'clock, qiiando ; blue and red
breeches, hahitus.' At the same time he warned Martin that

^ ' But if it be possible for the
same man to have distinct incom-
municable consciousness at different
times, it is without doubt the same
man would, at different times, make
different persons. Which we see
is the sense of mankind in not
punishing the madman for the so-
ber man's actions, nor the sober

man for what the madman did,
thereby making them two persons ;
which is somewhat explained by
our way of speaking in English,
when they say such an one is not him-
self, or is beside himself.' Locke's
Essay on Hum. Underst. B. ii. c. 27


what he learned now as a logician, he must forget as a natural
philosopher ; that though he now taught them that accidents
inhered in the subject, they would find in time there was no
such thing ; and that colour, taste, smell, heat, and cold, were
not in the things, but only phantasms of our brains. He was
forced to let them into this secret, for Mai-tin could not con-
ceive how a habit of dancmg inhered in a dancing-master, when
he did not dance ; nay, he would demand the characteristics of
relations. Crambe used to help him out, by telling him, a
cuckold, a losing gamester, a man that had not dined, a young
heir that was kept short by his father, might all be known by
their countenance ; that, in tliis last case, the paternity and
filiation leave very sensible unpressions in the rclatuni and cor-
rclatum. The greatest difficulty was when they came to the
tenth predicament. Crambe affirmed, that his hah if lis was
more a system than he was ; for his clothes could better subsist
without him, than he without his clothes.

Martin supposed an universal man to be like a knight of a
sliire or a burgess of a corporation, that represented a great
many individuals. His father asked him if he could not frame
the idea of an universal Lord Mayor ? Martin told hmi that,
never having seen but one Lord Mayor, the idea of that Lord
Mayor always returned to liis mind ; that he had great difficulty
to abstract a Lord Mayor from his fur gown, and gold chain ;
nay, that the horse he saw the Lord Mayor ride upon not a little
disturbed his imagination. On the other hand, Crambe, to
show himself of a more penetrating genius, swore that he could
frame a conception of a Lord Mayor, not only without his
horse, gown, and gold chain, but even without stature,
feature, colour, hands, feet, or any body ; which he supposed
was the abstract of a Lord Mayor \ Cornelius told him, that
he was a lying rascal ; that an universale was not the object of
imagmation, and that there was no such thing in reality, or a
parte rei. 'But I can prove,' quoth Crambe, 'that there are
clysters a 2^urte rei, but clysters are univcrsales ; ergo. Thus
I prove my minor. Quod apium est inesse multis, is an
universale by definition : but every clyster before it is adminis-
tered has that quality ; therefore every clyster is an universale.'

' This is not a fair representation and abstract ideas. But serious
of what is said in the Essmj of Human writers have done that philosoj^her
Understanding concerning general the same injustice. (^Warburton. )


He also found fault with the advertisements, that they were
not strict logical definitions : in an advertisement of a dog
stolen or strayed, he said it ought to Ijegin thus, an irrational
animal of the genus canimim, Sec. Cornelius told them that
though those advertisements were not framed according to the
exact rules of logical definitions, being only descriptions of
things ')}nmcro differcntibus, yet they contained a faint image of
the prccdkuhlUa, and were highly subservient to the common
purposes of life ; often discovering things that were lost, both
animate and inanimate. An Italian greyhound, of a mouse
colour, a white speck in the neck, lame of one leg, belongs to
such a lady. Greyhovmd, genus ; mouse-coloured, &c., differentia ;
lame of one leg, accidens ; belongs to such a lady, proprium.

Though I am afraid I have transgressed upon my reader's
patience already, I cannot help taking notice of one thing more
extraordinaiy than any yet mentioned ; wliich w^as Crambe's
treatise of syllogisms. He supposed that a philosopher's brain
was like a great forest, where ideas ranged like animals of
several kinds ; that those ideas copulated, and engendered con-
clusions ; that when those of different species copulate, they
biing forth monsters or absurdities ; that the major is the male,
the minor the female, which copulate by the middle term, and
engender the conclusion. Hence they are called the p>rccmissa,
or predecessors of the conclusion ; and it is properly said by the
logicians, quod pariunt scientium, opinionem, they beget science,
opinion, &c. Universal propositions are persons of quality ;
and therefore in logic they are said to be of the first figure.
Singular propositions are private persons, and therefore placed
in the third or last figure, or rank. From those principles all
the rules of syllogisms naturally follow.

I. That there are only three terms, neither more nor less ;
for to a child there can be only one father and one

II. From universal premises there follows an universal
conclusion, as if one should say, that persons of quality
always beget persons of quality.

III. From the singular premises follows only a singular con-
clusion, that is, if the parents be only private people, the
issue must be so likewise.

IV. From particular propositions notliing can be concluded,


because the mdividua vaga are (like whoremasters and
common strumpets) barren.

V. There cannot be more in the conclusion than was in
the premises ; that is, children can only inherit from
their parents.

VI. The conclusion follows the weaker part ; that is, children
inherit the diseases of theii' parents.

VII. From two negatives nothing can be concluded, for from
divorce or separation there can come no issue.

VIII. The medium cannot enter the conclusion, that being
logical incest.

IX. An hypothetical proposition is only a contract, or a
promise of marriage ; from such therefore there can
spring no real issue.

X. When the premises or parents are necessarily joined (or
in lawful wedlock), they beget lawful issue ; but con-
tingently joined, they beget bastards.

So much for the affirmative propositions ; the negative must
be deferred to another occasion.

Crambe used to value himself upon this system, from whence,
he said, one might see the propriety of the expression, such a
one has a barren imagination ; and how common is it for
such people to adopt conclusions that are not the issue of their
premises '? therefore as an absurdity is a monster, a falsity is a
bastard ; and a true conclusion that followeth not from the
premises may properly be said to be adopted. ' But then what
is an enthymeme,' quoth Cornelius? 'Why, an enth5mieme,'
replied Crambe, 'is when the major is indeed married to the
minoi", but the marriage kept secret.'

Metaphysics were a large field in which to exer-cise the
weapons logic had put into then* hands. Here Mai-tin and
Ci'ambe used to engage like any prize-fighters, before their
father, and his other learned companions of the symposiacs.
And as prize-fighters will agree to lay aside a buckler, or some
such defensive weapon, so would Crambe promise not to use

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 30 of 47)