George Atherton Aitken.

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

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Joshua the loth, and verse the 12th. The white horse in the
Revelations ; I am no racer, don't love horse-matches. Give me
a tea-kettle ; more sugar. — I will make a speech, a speech for

them, and against them ; I remember more actions, sayings,

speeches, revolutions, plots, discoveries, than any man in
Europe : here is a paper of a hundred names : here is a list of

plotters, seditioners, rioters : now is our time or never

What have we to do with the French king ; it must be de-
molished, it shall be demolished \ There is no peace to the
sinner, no treaty with the devil : give me leave to state the

matter fairly : read over that again, that is not at all

material : order that paper to be burnt by the common hangman.
Why, here is nothing at all ready. What has that fellow to do

' The cry raised about Dunkiik tliought that the Tory Government
by Steele and others, when it was would not enforce the demolition.


here ? I am not at all afraid . Vanish spirits. ! Solomon :

! Solomon ! the first and second of Esther, I will preach upon
that text. Frogs came into the king's bed-chamber. ! the

plagues of conscience ! give me room : if my lungs did not

fail me, I would make it appear that all the Tories in the nation
are dissenters, schismatics, anti-monarchic, rebellious sons of

disorder and confusion. Who is able to expound and

explain articles? who are judges, if we are not? let them
propose their opinions. What that noble Lord obsei-ved is

undoubtedly true : more dragoons What would the

fellow have ? Did not I swear that I would not wear lawn ?

bow? who should I bow to. The Pope is the most un-
reasonable rascal in the world. I will not leave Tom a

single farthing. Write, it's all nonsense. Take care of that

book. — Get thee behind me, Satan. What can they mean in the

north? Is there any probabihty of his making good his

pi-etensions ? spurious, proved a hundred times over. But these
confounded invectives : — what shall we do with them ?
America, Newfoundland ! poor merchants ! ! that Peace. —
Let me alone for divmity : I will maul them on Sundays,
Saturdays, lecture-days, charity sermons. Abel ^ is the greatest

scoundrel in the world. Let the Convocation alone. I say

he shall have a regiment. Fling them papers into the fire : —
it is nonsense to let them be transcribed : pray Mr. Ch — 11 take
abundance of care of the letter and paper : beware of abridg-
ments^. A new edition in octavo. Come again to-morrow.

My Lord, I am your Lordship's. Did not I bid you

put out that fire ? more water, good Jonathan. ^The curtains :

O my head : the world turns upside downwards. Churches

fall : Salisbury steeple stands awry. Take away your

leaden hand. No more, I see it does stand awiy.

' Abel Roper. two volumes was published in 1682,

^ The third and last volume of and the third volume was abridged

the History of the Reformation of the by Burnet's second son Gilbert, and

Church of England appeared in 1715, the whole i-eissued in three small

in folio. Kn Abridgement oi the ^rat volumes in 17 19.



Cineres jam tandem, quod non ipse optavit,

In PACE requiescunt.

Vir erat ingenio satis callido, et versatili,

Nativo solo familiari ;

"• In rebus sacris Magnus, Fabulosis Major,

In Politicis (si ipsi credas) Maximus !

Veritatis cultor adeo fidelis,

Ut aequo in Vita, ac Scriptis elucescat.

In Concionando acer erat, vehemens, indefessus ;

Puriorem Doctrinam habuere multi,

Pulmones, et latera robustiora nemo.

Adeo Romae per omnia aversus

Ut ad Genevam deflecteret.

Obiit, in Universum Dissentientium

Ab Ecc. Angl. luctum,

Martiis Calendis.


There lies, against his own wishes,

A man at last in peace.

He was master of a cimning, various wit,

Agi'eeable to his own country.

Great was he in divinity, in fable greater,

In politics (if you'll believe himself) greatest.

So faithful a lover of truth.

That it equally appears in his life

And writings.

A violent, mighty, unwearied preacher ;

Many have had purer doctrine,

No one stronger sides, and lungs.

So averse to Rome in all points

That he almost approached Geneva ;

He died, to the universal grief of the

Dissenters, on the kalends of March.






In a letter to a friend in the country.

By Dr. Technicum \

Vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras.


I heartily condole with you and the rest of the literati, on
the death of our dear friend Dr. W[oo]dw[a]i*d, and have trans-
mitted, accoi'ding to your desire, a brief account of his illness
and behaviour before he died, and the most remarkable pheno-
mena upon dissection. When he first pubhshed his State of
Physic, &c.^, no man was more vivacious and aleii ; from a keen
appetite and a good digestion, he entertained the hopes of a
long hfe, and promised himself that his lacteals were very
numerous. On the other hand he was satisfied, from the re-
dundancy of his discoveries, that he was the Columbus of the
faculty, and the greatest genius that ever appeared in it ; that
he should have statues erected to him, and his works be trans-
lated into all languages. But when he found, poor gentleman,
his mistake ; that his writings were the jest of the town and
coimtry, and admitted even into the farce of Harlequin and
Scaramouch ^, he began to lose, in some measure, his indelible

' See page 95. Tripe. Among the answers from

^ Tlie Siafe of Physic was written Dr. Woodward's friends were Tlie

in reply to Dr. Freind's Hippocratis Two Sosias, and A Letter to the fatal

de morbis popularibus, <f*c. Among Triumvirate.

the subsequent pamphlets against ^ An allusion, apparently, to

Woodward were A Letter to the learned Harlequin Hydaspes, or, The Greshamite,

Dr. Woodward, by Dr. Byfield, and A a mock opera acted at Lincoln's Inn

Letter from the facetious Dr. Andreio Fields in 17 19.


soit of kindness for the children of his brain, and to lament
the unhappiness of distressed merit. I obsei"ved that Garth's
Disj)ensary, which he quoted at random in his illness, was of
mighty consolation to him, not upon the account of the morality
of the piece, but because it highly delighted him to consider
that if a satire was levelled against the whole jirofession, any
single member might endure it with greater patience and resig-
nation. However, that the Doctor might not stand alone in a
controversy, he and I composed a little tract, which we thought
would have demolished the triumvirate : for though neither of
us alone were able to encounter our antagonists, yet the cause
must necessarily be successful, from such a formidable con-
federacy of wit, from the united talents of a mathematical
divine, and a fossilistical practitioner.

But this stratagem failing also, and the pamphlet being re-
turned on our hands by the bookseller, the Doctor grew
immediately chagrin and melancholy. I cannot say, indeed,
but after the first attack of his disease, he would show, at
intervals, in conversation, a serenity of temper entirely dis-
passionate, which might be construed by his enemies perhaps
the most consummate impudence. In company with his own
fraternity he carried on the same air of unconcern, took place
of his juniors, as he has confessed, and seemed extravagantly
full of glee that he was arrived in a cii'cle, as it were, to his
old station, and likely to rejoice again in the capacity of a
foreman. But his distemper grew uj)on hmi by degrees, and
began to be attended with phenomena that were not genuine
and usual. What to call it I could not learn from his
physicians, nor is it at all material ; for all diseases arising
from an exuberance of the biliose salts, there is no occasion for
divisions ; nor is there any difference, according to the notions
of our dej)arted friend, between the cause of an apoplexy, or
furor uter'mus. It is plain that, by his over-great soKcitude and
grief, the salts, which served for his digestion, were otherwise
employed ; and the phlegm becoming stagnate, the salts in-
creased in numlier, and by the steam of their colluctations
occasioned an inflation of the stomach. According, therefore,
as the organs were incommoded and embarrassed, he was
affected with a variety of symptoms ; sometimes he would have
a faintness and swooning on hun, and be pusillanimous and
dejected : I have seen him throw himself into a difficulty of
breathing, by pouring forth a torrent of rugged epithets upon
his adversaries ; but upon an accidental closure of the upper



orifice of the stomach, he would begin to whoop and hiccough,
and be troubled with chokings, startings, and strangulations.
The fur and foulness of his tongue were remarkable, and his
belchings Avere sour, noisome, and foetid, though generally
nothing else but wind. His aspect was convulsed into a
grimace, yet the heat and flushing of his face was never intense
enough, as I perceived, to make him blush. The salts indeed,
being a little over-heated, excited something bordering upon
that harsh, uneasy, and offensive sensation, called a fever : and
in fine, Sir, the bile being highly vitiated, annoyed the organs,
indisposed the frame, and made such a confusion and pertuiba-
tion in his brain, as to bring on madness and deliiia. His
power of thinking was so depraved, pei-vei-ted, and confounded
that eveiything he uttered for the last ten days was nothing
else but the confused images of things and persons he had
been engaged with. Laughing, weeping, anxiety, and suspicion,
were the kindest symptoms ; for he would frequently foam at
mouth, bite and bark like a mad dog.

Dr. Byfield, Dr. Tripe, Elkanah Settle, and my Lord Peter-
borough, were mostly the objects of his rage ; but if he spoke
a line of sense, he would run immediately into a hotch-potch,
as he used to call it, concerning graduates, creeds, processions,
relics, extreme unction, Gotham correspondence. Father Grueber,
the Devil, and the Pretender.

While he retained his senses he would be satisfied with
nothing but his own method, and he had, eveiy day, for about
twenty days together, a clyster, a purge, and a quaii or two
of oil \ His physicians, as he approached his latter end, directed
him some other medicines, which he sometimes took, but even
in his ravings he would call aloud for an emetic, and be im-
patiently craving after oil.

He took a vomit the very day he died, nay, almost the very
minute ; and, as he was expiring, let fall the large cockle-shell
of sack-whey out of which he used to drink.

I have been. Sir, more particular in this relation, to obviate
the misrepresentations of two different sorts of people. Some
there are, who have had the folly to declare that the Doctor
died immediately of a fright at the appearance of the late
meteor ; others again, with an impudence never to be paralleled,
affirm him now to be alive. To the first I answer, that it is
irrational to suppose such a phenomenon could be terrible to

' Cf. Woodward's proscription for Steele (Aitken's Life of Steele, II. 201).


one who has been always prying into grottos and volcanos.
and the wonders of the creation. It is true he saw it, but at
that time was incapable of giving any tolerable account of it. In
short, he was out of our order long before, and departed this
life on the first instant, which, whether ominous or not, I shall
not take upon me to determine.

To the second there is nothing scarcely can be said ; for a
man must be lost to all modesty and common sense, who will
affirm a thing which, if he'll but go to Gresham, is in his
power to contradict. With these very eyes, I declare to you,
I saw him make his exit, which I will attest upon oath, if
required : but I need not, Sir, be at the pains to convince you.
or any man who is acquainted with my character, and knows
what regard the Court of Equity has for my veracity. I speak this
with the more warmth, because I am satisfied, notwithstanding
our vcrhum sacerdotis is pawned for it, that there are some who
will still insist upon his being now living ; and I design to
caution a certain bookseller near St. Paul's, who, I hear, has
more than once reported it ; for as I am his executor, I am told
it will bear an action. What will still indeed confirm the world
in this notion, is that some about him who thought everything
he said must necessarily be good, have already printed all the
rhapsody of his deliria. This however is my comfort, though
I shall see him personated, and several pieces published under
his name, yet, as his language and ideas are inmiitable, the
wiser part of mankind must discover the imposture.

I shall give you a full account of his works in a little time ;
I am scarce, as yet, master enough of his physic, in which
he mostly followed the Germans : this I am sure, he was
a good naturalist, and very communicative of his fossils :
in his religion I had, you know, well grounded him, and
he seemed to exceed myself in the belief of those principles
I had instilled.

He was a true philosopher in temper, and as he desired not
to want, so he never abounded in his circumstances. I shall
get but a very trifle by his kindness to me ; I believe his
knicknackatory may defray the expenses of his funeral, and pay
the druggist for ipecacuanha ; and I hope the chariot and horses
will discharge the other lesser matters. His oilman (for an
apothecaiy he seldom used) ought to be very reasonable in his
bill, considering what advantages accrued to him from his
recommendation. I heard him say not long ago (and no man
was more punctual in his arithmetic) that in the course of his

H h 2


practice he had administered 20473 vomits, 756 hogsheads,
four gallons, and a pint of sack-whey, and above 50 ton of oil.

But before I take leave, it will be expected I should say-
something for the satisfaction of the ladies, who will be in-
quisitive of what sex he died ; the account of his dissection
will inform them in that particular ; and although fi-om the
softness of his voice something may have been suggested to
his disadvantage in their esteem, yet I know not whether that
constitution is not more eligible that inclines one to the gout
of Italy and Spain, and gives a man a stronger rehsh for the
more manly pleasures of those warmer climates.

His body pursuant to his own desire was opened by Mr.
Marten, in the presence of three or four foreign virtuosos : the
complexion of the skin was parti-coloured, and had something
of the tarnish and sully natural to a jaundice. We first viewed
the abdomen : the musculus rectus continued fleshly to the
very middle of the sternum before it began to be tendinous, as
is observed in the simia ^ ; which contrivance of nature no
doubt facilitates the wriggling motion of that animal. The
omentum, the main fund of the fat, which should have been
the guard against the attacks of the biliose salts, was perished,
dissolved, and quite gone. The stomach appeared extremely
inflated, and plainly made such a pressure upon the curb of the
aorta, that there was scarce any passage left through the de-
scending trunk. In the cavity of the stomach, as an ocular
proof of his doctrine, presented itself an incredible quantity of
bile sufiicient to produce that modulation upon the brain which
he gave the first hint of to the world. The inner surface was
entirely smooth, not a footstep of the velvet tunicle remaining :
this was perhaps from the constant use of drinking gallons of
sack-whey with his vomits. The aperture of the pylorus was
veiy extraordinaiy, 'twas big enough to admit a man's thumb :
and indeed while he continued sensible, he often said, so it
would be found upon dissection : for in all that time he
obsei-ved, that the pylorus never would close, so as to give
him the refreshment even of a slumber. Towards the pylorus
within the stomach was placed a fleshy substance, resembling,
though set at a greater distance, that in the hog-kind ^ ; to which
species, especially the tajaeu or opossum ^, this phenomenon is so
peculiar. Anatomists look upon this as a stopple, which is of

' Blasius, cle Anaiom. Simiae. sius, de Anaiom. Pord.

* Grew's Comparat. Anatom. Bla- ^ Dj. Tyson, Phil. Transact, n, 153.


great service in the closure of the pylorus \ Hence another
reason may be doducecl for his want of sleep, this instrument
not being in him situated near enough to act a part in this

Throughout the whole tract of the intestines there was
nothing very remarkable, besides an exceeding flatulency, and
great guts of vitiated bile : there were also large quantities of
oil floating about, undigested and unaltered. At the anus was
a ficus of an uncommon magnitude. To the rectum, near the
verge of the cloaca, adhered a pouch full of a glandulous juice,
much Hke what the naturalists describe in the hyaena oclorifera,
the rattlesnake, and the polecat ; and which, no doubt, im-
paired that fragrancy he used to remark in his very excre-
ments : though when the discharge was more than usual, this
extraordinary perfume might possibly turn to a common stink,
as has been observed in other animals'". The caecum, as
happens always in a ceitain race of creatures, was entirely
wanting \ The mesentery was very strumose, and the lacteals
obstructed to that degree, as to be visible : one of them, which
seemed to be the last allotted for the period of this great man's
life, had its orifice impacted by three or four large globules of
the bihose salts.

The Hver was immensely big, divided into seven lobes and
tinged with bile ; the gall-bladder was of a size proporfionable,
indeed very near equalling that of an ox. From the ductus
chodelochus, beside the branch that enters the duodenum, we
discovered, uj^on a nicer enquiry, another inserted immediately
into the stomach itself. The spleen was of a triangular figure "',
large, tense, and in some places schirrose ; abounding with a
thick heavy atra hilis. .......

In the thorax, the thymus was found to be as big as usually
it is in a calf. The hearf was very flabby, and for the most
part unsound and rotten : upon the left ventricle appeared a very
virulent ulcer. The lungs were cramped, straitened, and much
incommoded by the bearing up of the diaphragm, occasioned

* Dr. Tyson, Phil. Transact. 11. 153. Anatom. Brntor.

^ Ibid. n. 144, 153. Blasms, ^ Blasius. * Blasius.


by the great inflation of the stomach. Upon the same account,
the back, during the last days of his illness, was very up, and
appeared somewhat gibbose and humped.

Upon opening the brain, there were evident marks of the
cruel ravages and depredations of the biliose principles. The
dura mater was fretted, and wholly unstrung ; the circum-
volutions in the cerebrum all obliterated, and the surface quite
[)lain and even ; which Doctor Willis has obsei-ved to be the
case of some particular persons '. The vacuities in his venter
were large to an uncommon degree. The pineal gland was
perfectly flaccid, so that it seemed to have been incapable for
some time of giving any proper directions to the ^^dll. How-
ever, the nei-vous system was tense, and peculiarly adapted for

I thought this account would be acceptable to you, both as
it might give some light to mankind into the causes of dis-
tempers, and more i)articularly likewise, as it might be of great
use to confirm the doctrines laid down by our late dear departed

I am, yours &c.

April 4th, 1 7 19.

^ Anat. Cereh. c. x.





An account of the arrival of a white bear at the house of
Mr. Katcliff in Bishopsgate Street : as also of Faustina,
the celebrated Italian singing woman ; and of the copper-
farthing Dean from Ireland.


Of the wonderful wild man that was nursed in the woods of
Germany by a wild beast, hunted and taken in toils ; how
he behaveth himself like a dumb creature, and is a
Christian like one of us, being called Peter ; and how he
was brought to Court all in green, to the great astonish-
ment of the quality and gentry, 1726 \

We shall begin with a description of Peter the savage,
deferring our other curiosities to some follomng papers.

Romulus and Remus, the two famous wild men of antiquity,
and Orsin that of the moderns, have been justly the admira-
tion of all mankind ; nor can we presage less of this wild
youth, as may be gathered from that famous and well-known
prophecy of Lilly's, which, being now accomplished, is most
easily interpreted :

When Rome shall wend to Benevento,
And Espagne break the Assiento ;
\Mien eagle split shall fly to China,
And christian folks adore Faustina :
Then shall an oak be brought to bed
Of creature neither taught nor fed ;
Great feats shall he achieve —

' See page 107. The arrival of the Young Forester lately brought

this ' wild man ' called forth several to Town from Germany ; with a

satirical pamphlets, among them dissertation on the usefulness and

one attributed to Defoe : ' Mere necessity of Fools, whether political

Nature delineated, or a Body with- or natural,' 1726.
o»it a Soul. Being observations upon


The Pope is now going to Benevento ; the Spaniards have
broke their ti*eaty ; the Emperor trades to China ; and Lilly,
M^ere he alive, must be convinced that it was not the Empress
Faustina that was meant in the prophecy.

It is evident by several tokens about this wild gentleman,
that he had a father and mother like one of us ; but, there
being no register of his christening, his age is only to be
guessed at by his stature and countenance, and appeareth to
be about twelve or thirteen. His being so young was the
occasion of the great disappointment of the ladies, who
came to the drawing-room in full expectation of some attempt
upon their chastity : so far is true, that he endeavoured to kiss
the young Lady Walpole, who for that reason is become the
envy of the circle ; this being a declaration of nature in favour
of her superior beauty.

Aristotle saith, that man is the most mimic of all animals ;
which opinion of that great philosopher is strongly confirmed
by the behaviour of this wild gentleman, who is endowed
with that quality to an extreme degree. He received his first
impressions at court : his manners are first to lick people's
hands, and then turn his breech upon them ; to thrust his
hand into everybody's pocket ; to climb over people's heads ;
and even to make use of the royal hand to take what he has
a mind to. At his first appearance he seized on the Lord
Chamberlain's staff, and put on his hat before the King ; from
whence some have conjectured, that he is either descended
from a grandee of Spain, or the Earls of Kinsale in Ireland.
However, these are manifest tokens of his innate ambition ;
he is extremely tenacious of his own property, and ready to
invade that of other people. By this mimic quality he
discovered what wild beast had nursed him ; observing
children to ask blessing of their mothers, one day he fell down
upon his knees to a sow, and muttered some sounds in that
humble posture.

It has been commonly thought that he is Ulric's natural
brother, because of some resemblance of manners, and the
officious care of Ulric about him ; but the superiority of parts
and genius in Peter demonstrates this to be impossible.

Though he is ignorant both of ancient and modern languages,
(that care being left to the ingenious physician, who is
entrusted with his education) yet he distinguishes objects


by certain sounds framed to himself, which Mr. Kotenberg,
who brought him over, understands pei'fectly. Behohling one
day the shambles with great fear and astonishment, ever since
he calls man by the same sound, which expresseth wolf. A
young lady is a peacock, old women magpies and owls ; a
beau with a toupee, a monkey ; glass, ice ; blue, red, and
green ribbons, he calls rainbow ; an heap of gold, a turd.
The first ship he saw he took to be a great beast swimming on
her back, and her feet tied above her ; the men that came out
of the hold he took to be her cubs, and wondered they were
so unlike their dam. He understands perfectly the language
of all beasts and birds, and is not, like them, confined to that

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 42 of 47)