George Atherton Aitken.

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

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of one species. He can bring any beast what he calls for, and
no doubt is much missed now in his native woods, where he
used to do good ofiices among his fellow-citizens, and served
as a mediator to reconcile their differences. One day he
warned a flock of sheep, that were driving to the shambles,
of their danger ; and, upon uttering some sounds, they all
fled. He takes vast pleasure in conversation with horses ; and
going to the mews to converse with two of his intimate
acquaintances in the king's stables, as he passed by, he neighed
to the horse at Charing Cross, being as it were surprised to see
him so high : he seemed to take it ill that the horse did not
answer him ; but I think nobody can value his understanding
for not being skilled in statuaiy.

He expresseth his joy most commonly by neighing, and,
whatever the j)hilosophers may talk of their risibility, neighing
is a more noble expression of that j)assion than laughing,
which seems to me to have something silly in it ; and, besides,
is often attended with tears. Other animals are sensible they
debase themselves by mimicking laughter ; and I take it to
be a general observation, that the top felicity of mankind
is to imitate monkeys and birds ; witness harlequins, scara-
mouches, and masqueraders : on the other hand, monkeys,
when they would look extremely silly, endeavour to bring
themselves down to mankind. Love he expresseth by the
cooing of a dove, and anger by the croaking of a raven ; and
it is not doubted but that he will serve in time as an inter-
preter between us and other animals.

Great instruction is to be had from this wild youth in the
knowledge of simples ; and I am of opinion, that he ought


always to attend the Censors of the college in their visitation
of ai^othecaries' shops.

I am told that the new sect of herb-eaters ^ intend to follow
him into the fields, or to beg him for a clerk of their kitchen ;
and that there are many of them now thinking of turning
their children into woods to graze with the cattle, in hopes
to raise a healthy and moral race, refined from the corruptions
of this luxurious world.

He sings naturally several pretty tunes of his own composing,
and with equal facility in the chromatic, inharmonic, and
diatonic style, and consequently must be of infinite use to
the academy in judging of the merits of their composers, and
is the only person that ought to decide betwixt Cuzzoni and
Faustina ^

I cannot omit his first notion of clothes, which he took to
be the natural skins of the creatures that wore them, and
seemed to be in great pain for the iDulling off a stocking,
thinking the poor man was a flaying.

I am not ignorant that there are disaffected people, who say
he is a pretender, and no genuine wild man. This calumny
proceeds from the false notions they have of wild men, which
they frame from such as they see about the town, whose actions
are rather absurd than wild ; therefore it will be incumbent
on all young gentlemen, who are ambitious to excel in this
character, to copy this tnie original of nature.

The senses of this wdld man are vastly more acute than
those of a tame one ; he can follow the track of a man, or any
other beast of prey. A dog is an ass to him for finding
truffles ; his hearing is more perfect, because, his ears not
having been confined by bandages, he can move them like a
drill, and turn them towards the sonorous object.

Let us pray the Creator of all beings, wild and tame, that as
this wild youth by being brought to court has been made
a Christian ; so such as are at court, and are no Christians,
may lay aside their savage and rapacious nature, and retm-n
to the meekness of the Gospel.

' Dr. Cheyne's followers.

'^ Two rival singers at that time in the Italian oj)era.


wo:n^derful woistder,



Being an Account of the Travels of Mynheer Veteranus,
through the Woods of Germany : and an Account of his
taldng a most monstrous She Bear, who had nursed up
the Wild Boy : theii- landing at the Tower ; their reception
at Court ; the daily visits they receive from multitudes of all
ranks and orders of both sexes.




No people on earth are so inquisitive and so fond of rarities
as the English, except the Leigois, who by the consonance of
humour and manners, seem to be descended from us ; whoever
knows their histoiy, and is acquainted with that of England,
will readily give in to my opinion. This I have thought neces-
sary to say by way of mtroduction ; for to fall de hut en hlanc,
as the French say, or as we English, slap dash, upon the
subject, without preparing our reader by some little introduc-
tory discourse to raise his curiosity, gain his attention, and
)^espeak his favour, would shew an author ignorant of the
modern way of wiiting. I, who am now pretending to that
title, shall endeavour to observe all deconims, and prove, by
the Httle treatise I have undertaken, that I aim at nothing

* See pages 107, 108.


more than giving the town a polite entertainment, wherein I
shall never deviate one single step from the paths of truth,
which is so strictly followed by all writers, since the example
set us by G[ilbert] B[urnet], B[ishop] of S[amm], that neither
party, passion, nor private pique, can make an English author
guilty of even an equivocation. I would be understood, how-
ever, to except Jesuits and Jacobites, for they are known to be
incorrigible in their hatred to that exemplary pious man ; and
so great is their rage, that I verily beheve, had he ever given
in to flattery and falsehood, two vices which filled his righteous
soul with horror, they would have embraced truth and plain
dealing. But it is not my business here to examine the prin-
ciples of any party or faction ; nor does it become an author
of a refined taste and polite education, to expose the faults,
shps, mistakes, errors, or inhumanity of our neighbours, or to
criticise their morals.

I shall therefore come to the subject matter, without detaining
my reader any longer, since I suppose him of himself able to
make all necessary reflections, and it would be arrogating to
myself a superiority of judgment, should I pretend to make
them for him. Be it known then, that Mynheer Veteranus,
a Dutch gentleman, who keeps a gin shop in Amsterdam,
hearing the kind reception the -wild boy met ^dth here in
England, and of the great care taken for his instruction in the
principles of the Christian faith, thought he could not do a
more acceptable piece of sei-vice to this generous nation, than
that of enquiring out, and bringmg over the bear to whom the
care of his infant state was committed. And knowing that the
generous English would not suff"er Imn to lose either his pains
or expenses, if he succeeded in his search and endeavours to
serve them, he left Amsterdam, resolving to hunt all the woods
of Germany but he would find her out. To this end, he took
a young child with him, and having prepared his toils, towards
the evening, in a certain forest, he made the child cry, thinking
that the nurse, being accustomed to these infant ejaculations,
would be allured by them. The success answered his inten-
tions ; for a she bear made up to the place whence the child's
cries proceeded, and was taken in the toils. No sooner had he,
with the men Avho accompanied hiin, muzzled her, so that she
could do no mischief, but he offered the child to her dugs, who
she, Avithout reluctance, nay, with a visible tenderness, sufl"ered


to draw her milk, and endeavoured, though too straitly muzzled,
to caress it Math her velvet tongue. Mynheer, to try her
farther, took the child away ; whereat she began to grumble in
a frightful manner ; roar she could not, for the above-mentioned
reason. Mynheer therefore being fully satisfied, was hoisting
her into a cart brought to carry her off, when he was surprised
by an uncommon sight ; a child of about two years old, with his
nose to the ground, and followed by some bear's cubs, came
gallojiing upon all four in search of the dam and nurse, whom
they followed by the scent. This sight made the Dutch gentle-
man fear he had not the real nurse of the English wild boy ;
but one of his huntsmen told him it was a confirmation that she
had nursed the English gentleman ; for, says he, when a bear
has once brought up an infant, they grow so fond of children,
that they never rest contented without one for the entertainment
and diversion of their cubs ; and they'll venture their lives to
steal one from the neighbouring villages. Satisfied with what he
heard. Mynheer Veteranus ordered the child and cubs to be
taken, which was no hard matter, for they would not quit the
dam. He then made the best of his way home, overjoyed that
he could be so serviceable to the British nation, for which the
Dutch in general have an inviolable affection, as is demonstrable
in all their actions ; he took shipping aftenvai'ds with his prize,
and safely landed at Tower Wharf, the first of this month ;
though some have falsely reported that he was here four
months before. However, he was no sooner arrived, than he
received the thanks and compliments of all the nobility, who
had the honour of waiting on him, to whom he shewed this
rarity gratis. A certain person of distmction purchased his
whole cargo, the bear Avith her cubs and their foster brother ;
and sending for the wild gentleman, he shewed him the old
bear. The lad no sooner saw her, but, with tears of joy, he
embraced his dear nurse ; who on her part gave as great demon-
stration of fondness, hugging him, throwing herself on her
back, and opening her legs, offered him the teat, which he
sucked as heartily as if he had never been weaned : he un-
muzzled her, and it's imi^ossible to express the joy which
appeared in the eyes of both. The cubs and new-found infant
wei-e brought in, but the English gentleman would not suffer
them to approach ; and indeed the fondness the bear shewed
for the recovery of her former care, made her neglect her cubs


and new nursling. The purchaser of her is a man of a great
estate, and a Scotch gentleman (whose father is a merchant of
sloes, blackberries, cider, and arsenic in the city) being by, he
desired him to take care of these cubs, which the bear had
neglected, and he would pay him handsomely for their board.
Since which time, the bear has been shewn to all the Court :
and we hear that a den, in which formerly was kept one of
the most monstrous she bears that ever the woods of Germany
produced, is now preparing for her reception. The bear's first
fit of tenderness for her recovered darling being over, she
seemed by her looks to enquu-e for her young. The English
gentleman, who is her interpreter, asked for them by her
orders. They were brought, and the young gentleman told his
foster mother in her own language, that great care should be
taken both of her cubs and nursling ; and that a gentleman who
was to have an apartment joining to hers, had the care of
civilising and bringing them up ; which, as he was a Scotchman
by biith, none could perform with more care, skill, and tender-
ness. As the English wild gentleman did me the honour to
intei"pret to me the dialogue between hmi and his nurse, partly
by words, partly by signs, I shall here give it the reader verbatim
without addition or diminution.

Bear. My dear human cub, how have I regretted your loss.
how could you leave so tender a mother ?

Boy. I was ravished from you, my dear mother, by the bar-
barous creatures of my own kind ; who have enclosed me, as
you see, in these hides strij)t off some innocent beasts ; and
deprived me of the natural use of my fore legs.

Bear. What title has this beast which goes erect on two legs,
contrary to the order of nature, to deprive us of our native
liberty ?

Boy. The same they have to tyrannise over one another, the
power to do it. The beast called man has the vanity to imagine
hunself the head of the creation ; that every other creature is
subservient to him, and made by the sun for his use ; and that
he alone has the benefit of reason and expression.

Bear. I find he is but a veiy silly animal. Let him consult
experience (for reason I supi^ose he has none) and see which
has most claim to superiority, the two-legged or the four-legged
beast. Turn a man loose to me, to a tiger, or a lion, and let
him shew his excellence. He seems to me the most imperfect


piece of the creation ; for the sun has given him neither hair
to cover him, nor teeth nor claws to defend him. Has he a
scent to find out his necessary food ?

Boy. They feed upon animals weaker than themselves, as
lambs, fowls ; and, by their treachery, they kill and eat the
bull and cow\ They cany it fairly with them, and there is a
sort of compact between these beasts : the beast man, in the
summer, cuts the grass, and lays up provision for the beast bull
against the winter ; and the beast bull helps him, by working,
to lay up a store for himself. But when man is hungry, he
takes an opportunity, and kills and eats the undesigning
innocent bull.

Bear. Monstrous ! I see the horse ^ in friendship with them ;
are they as treacherous to him ?

Boy. I can't tell ; but they tyrannise over him because of
theii" numbers ; for othei-wise, the horse is much the bravei-
beast. But they have an invention of killing creatures with
fire ; which makes those beasts who know them stand in awe
of them.

Bear. Since you have been some time among the beasts of
your own species, you are certainly able to give me theii-

Boy. That's a difficult matter ; for hardly one of them knows
his own ; and I have heard men themselves say, that it is the
greatest wisdom for a man to know himself. Man is a veiy
contradiction ; he prides himself as superior to the other beasts,
and yet when he would exaggerate in his own praise, it is by
shewing that he is equal to some or other of them in the gifts
of nature. Their comparisons are wath beasts of different
species from their own, and when they boast of their strength,
subtilty, or innocence, they immediately allude to the lion,
serpent, and dove, and so on in all other perfections. Man
stripped is the most defenceless and most sheepish of all
anmials ; but when he is decked with bird's feathers and
sheep's wool, and laid over with a shining earth which they
adore, as we do the sun, and has perfumed himself with the
excrements of a civet-cat, his pride makes hmi look with
contempt on every other animal ; as if the pillage of different
beasts had the powder to change his nature. Their judgments

^ This piece, it will be remembered, was printed in the same year as
Gullivers Travels.


are so weak, that they'll put one man to death, and extol
another to the skies, for one and the same action. The
glittering earth I mentioned is their god ; it is almost of the
colour of the fox, and so zealous are they in their adorations of
this their deity, that they offer one another up in sacrifice, in
which by mutual wounds both priest and victim fall. They
are so fickle in their temper, that they resolve one thing this
minute, and the contrary the next ; and their hatred is so
violent when provoked, that they will wish the most cruel
mischiefs even to themselves ; nay, they go farther, and put
themselves to death.

Ijcar. Eidiculous animal, which pursues annihilation ! but I
observe there is a subordmation among them ; for one man
I see is followed and attended by a number of others who obey
his orders. Is that man stronger or wdser than his fellow
beasts, that he has so many jackals about him ?

Boy. Not at all. 'Tis very probable he is the weakest of the

Bear. Whence then this observance ?

Boy. He is blessed with the favour of their god : you must
know their deity is divided into innumerable small particles,
and he who possesses the greatest number of these, is the most
honoured by the rest of his species, and followed and waited
on by them, to gather up such parcels as he is obliged from
tune to time to scatter : for such is the nature of their god,
that it cannot rest long contented in one place ; though a man
whom the sun killed not long since, had chained and fettered
then- great god of all, which they call by the name of million ;
this god of theirs I never saw. I can give you no farther
account, having been so small a time among them, and not as
yet well enough acquainted with their manner of expression ;
for they use manj'- words to which they join no idea. These
are I fancy imaginary deities ; as justice, honour, religion,
truth, friendship, loyalty, piety, charity, mercy, public good,
and many others which commonly fill their discourse ; but
what is meant by 'em I cannot yet discover, though I have a
strong notion they have no meanmg at all ; and are only em-
ployed to give a grace to their conversation, because they are
found pleasant to the ear, and run glibly off the tongue.

Bear. But what do these human beasts keep me here for ?

Boy. I believe it is to admire you ; for you may obsen^e a


great number come to look at you. They take me to be somo-
tliing above their own species, for the finest of the men will
caress me ; but it's not strange, I have had the advantage of
your tongue to lick me into form, and your milk to rear me.
There is one thing which will make you wonder ; the she man
carries about her the skin of the virile instx-ument, but to what
end I can't find out.

Bear. If it is to admire me, well and good ; for they can't do
it without abating veiy much of the opinion they conceive of
themselves : but I shall not long be easy under this confine-
ment, though I am treated with no harsh usage, and even
as the more noble beast, for they attend and provide for me
^\•ithout any care on my side.

Boy. It is this I believe makes the horse and dogs suffer the
insults they meet from man ; for all things rightly considered,
man who provides for the horse's sustenance, who keeps him
clean, carries away his dung, and waits upon him when he has
any ailment, is no more than slave to the generous beast. As
to the dog, I have seen the she men treat him with so much
care, tenderness, and deference, that I am apt to think they
worship him ; they take him into their bosoms, kiss, fondle
and caress him ; provide the best entertainment for him ; serve
him before themselves ; and never suffer him to set his foot
to the ground, but carry him in their arms, and are dihgent
attendants on him. They pay the same respect to the monkey.
I was one day in conversation with one, who told me he thought
himself happy that he had such a number of careful slaves,
who even prevented his wishes, and provided so well for him
not only all the conveniences of life, but also wdiat might
gi'atify the senses, that he was satisfied the rest of his species,
had they a true notion of men, would condescend to con-
A'erse with and take upon 'em the government of that passive
animal. This is the monkey's way of thinking ; though
man thinks quite differently, and boasts that the monkey is
his slave.

Bear. Why ? does the monkey do anything for man ?

Boy. Nothing ; but when the monkey laughs at the ridiculous
actions of that beast, he laughs again at his gestures : the monkey
I just now mentioned found but one fault with his condition,
'which is,' said he, 'my slaves are so incorrigibly stupid, that
when they do anything to displease me, and I shew my resent-

I i


ment by gesticulation, for I don't know their language, they
immediately fall a laughing.'

Their discourse was here interrupted by some company ; for
the bear would not seem too free with the boy lest man might
have a mean opinion of her for the condescension.

[Followed, in the 1726 edition, by some macaronic lines, ' Viri


SciEKTiARUM, DocTORis DocTissiMi, DiPLOMA,' — afterwards claimed for
William Meston, in his Poetical Works, 1767 — and by several facetious








Faithfully transcribed out of Captain Lemuel Gulliver's general

description of Lilliput, mentioned in the 69th page

of the first volume of his Travels \

As I always had a strong inclination to reading, from
the time I first went to Emanuel College in Cambridge,
and had gone through the most valuable ancient writers :
during my stay in Lilliput, I was very inquisitive aljout
the state of learning in that nation, and received the following
information upon that subject.

In former ages, the government of the island Blefuscu
was, in many respects, like what we call a commonwealth,
and for a long time flourished both in arms and learning,
whilst the Lilliputians were a barbarous people ; at this
time many excellent books were wrote in oratory, poetry,
history, and philosophy, but the Blefuscudians having at
length lost their liberties and form of government, which
was changed into an empire, learning decayed amongst
them very fast ; the faster by reason of hot disputes which
arose concerning the proper manner of dressing and eating

* See page 124.

I i 2


eggs ; and in these the whole studies of all the learned men
of that age were consumed.

The first emperor of Blefuscu, that he might ingratiate
himself with his people, whom he had enslaved, undertook
an expedition against the island of Lilliput ; which being then
governed by several petty kings, ignorant of the arts of war,
was, by degrees, subdued to the empire of Blefuscu. During
this intercourse between the two nations, the Blefuscudian
language was very much changed, by the mixture of the
Lilliputian ; and those authors who wrote in the old language
were neglected, and understood by very few.

In process of time the Lilliputians grew weary of subjection,
flung off the foreign yoke, set up an emperor of their own
with great success, and ever since have been a distinct empire
from that of Blefuscu.

As they were an ingenious people, and blessed with a
race of good emperors, they soon excelled their neigh-
bours in learning and arms ; they got together all the old
Blefuscudian books, their emperor founded a gomflastru, or
seminary, with different schools, to instruct their youth in
the old Blefuscudian language and learning ; and from thence
chose their Nardacs, Glumglums, and Hurgos, and the emperors
had themselves a large collection of these books in a library
belonging to the palace.

Thus the Lilliputians flourished in politeness and literature,
for some ages ; till at length, by the plenty of a long peace,
they also grew corrupt, gave themselves up to idleness, luxury,
and intriguing, and fell into controversies about breaking
their eggs ; the old Blefuscudian books were laid aside, and
nothing regarded but eggs and politics. The gomflastru indeed
continued, each school had its mulro, or governor and scholars ;
))ut the taste of the age being changed, they only turned over
the old authors to amuse themselves, and enjoyed the moderate
revenues bequeathed to them by former emperors. The
present emperor indeed had endeavoured to bring them into
esteem again ; he increased their possessions, and gave a noble
present of books to the gomflastru ; but having a debauched
inconstant people to rule over, and being kept in continual
alarms of wars by his neighbours, he had not leisure to perfect
his good intentions,

I was at this time in his favour, and when he heard that



I had been inquisitive about these aflfjiirs, he very graciously-
desired me to look into liis libraiy, and sent orders to the
keeper of it to use me with great respect, and to present me
with five hundred books, such as I should choose.

Accordingly ui>on a day appointed, I went to the library,
which I took a view of in the same manner as I had done
of the rest of the palace, by lying down and looking in at the
window. The building was ruinous, the inside dusty, the
books many in nimiber, but scattered about in great disorder ;
the library-keeper, whose name is Bullum, was alone stalking
amidst the rubbish. As soon as he saw my face at the

Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 43 of 47)