« הקודםהמשך »
wards the perpetual and incessant enemy of Blackmore.
One of his Essays is upon the Spleen, which is treated by him so much to his own fatisfaction, that he has published the same thoughts in the same words; first in the Lay Monastery; then in the Essay; and then in the Preface to a Medical Treatise on the Spleen. One passage, which I have found already twice, I will here exhibit, because I think it better imagined, and better expressed, than could be expected from the common tenour of his prose:
“ -As the several combinations of splene6 tic madness and folly produce an infinite
variety of irregular understanding, fo the 6 amicable accommodation and alliance be
tween several virtues and vices produce an “ equal diversity in the dispositions and mankc ner3 of mankind; whence it comes to pass,
that as many monstrous and absurd pro
ductions are found in the moral as in the in“ tellectual world. How surprising is it to “ observe among the least culpable men, fome $6 whose minds are attracted by heaven and 66 earth, with a seeming equal force; some
« who are proud of humility ; others who are “ cenforious and uncharitable, yet self-deny
ing and devout; some who join contempt “ of the world with fordid avarice; and others, “ who preserve a great degree of piety, with “ ill-nature and ungoverned passions: nor are " instances of this inconsistent mixture less “ frequent among bad
where we often, " with admiration, see persons at once gene
rous and unjust, impious lovers of their country, and flagitious heroes, good-natured
sharpers, immoral men of honour, and li“ bertines who will sooner die than change “ their religion; and though it is true that
repugnant coalitions of so high a degree are found but in a part of mankind, yet none of the whole mass, either good or
bad, are intirely exempted from some ab" surd mixture."
He about this time (Aug. 22, 1716) became one of the Elects of the College of Physicians; and was soon after (Oct. 1) chofen Cenfor. He seems to have arrived late, whatever was the reason, at his medical honours.
Having succeeded so well in his book on Creation, by which he established the great
principle of all Religion, he thought his undertaking imperfect, unless he likewise enforced the truth of Revelation; and for that purpose added another poem on Redemption. He likewise wrote, before his Creation, three books on the Nature of Man.
The lovers of musical devotion have always wished for a more happy metrical verfion than they have yet obtained of the book of Psalms; this wish the piety of Blackmore led him to gratify, and he produced (1721) a new Version of the Psalms of David, fitted to the tunes used in Churches; which, being recommended by the archbishops and many bishops, obtained a license for its admission into public worship; but no admission has it yet obtained, nor has it any right to come where Brady and Tate have got poffeffion. Blackmore's name must be added to those of many others, who, by the same attempt, have obtained only the praise of meaning well.
He was not yet deterred from heroick poetry; there was another monarch of this island, for he did not fetch his heroes from foreign countries, whom he considered as worthy of the
Epic Muse, and he dignified Alfred (1723) with twelve books. But the opinion of the nation was now settled ; a hero introduced by Blackmore was not likely to find either respect or kindness; Alfred took his place by Eliza in silence and darkness : benevolence was ashamed to favour, and malice was weary of insulting. Of his four Epic Poems, the first had such reputation and popularity as enraged the critics ; the second was at least known enough to be ridiculed; the two last had -neither friends nor enemies.
Contempt is a kind of
kind of gangrene, which if it seizes one part of a character corrupts all the rest by degrees. Blackmore, being despised as a poet, was in time neglected as a physician; his practice, which was once invidiously great, forsook him in the latter part of his life ; but being by nature, or by principle, averse from idleness, he employed his unwelcome leisure in writing books on physic, and teaching others to cure those whom he could himself cure no longer. I know not whether I can enumerate all the treatises by which he has endeavoured to diffuse the art of healing; for there is scarcely any distemper, of dread
ful name, which he has not taught his reader how to oppose.
He has written on the small-pox, with a vehement invective against inoculation; on consumptions, the fpleen, the gout, the rheumatism, the king's-evil, the dropsy, the jaundice, the stone, the diabetes, and the plague.
Of those books, if I had read them, it could not be expected that I should be able to give a critical account. I have been told that there is something in them of vexation and discontent, discovered by a perpetual attempt to degrade physick from its sublimity, and to represent it as attainable without much previous or concomitant learning. transient glances which I have thrown upon them, I have observed an affected contempt of the Ancients, and a fupercilious derision of transmitted knowledge. Of this indecent arrogance the following quotation from his Preface to the Treatise on the Small-pox will afford a specimen; in which, when the reader finds, what I fear is true, that when he was censuring Hippocrates he did not know the difference between aphorism and apophthegm, he will not pay much regard to his determinations concerning ancient learning.