“Tom Telltroth,” “On the Hon. Master—-who bled to Death, after a cross Incision on the Jugular, by a French Empiric”


“On The Hon. Master—-who bled to Death, after a cross Incision on the Jugular, by a French Empiric”

All Sciences a fawning Monsieur knows. London a Poem.


When thousands fall in spite of skill
What wonder Ignorance should kill?
Such, noble youth, was thy hard fate,
Thy life cut short before its date!
Whose ancestors Britannias boast,                                   5
In thee a rising hero’s lost!
Resolv’d, the slaught’rer o’er thee stood,
To have at all events thy blood,
Thro’ thy arterial channels broke,
And butcher’d with repeated stroke.                                10
But let this tale be never heard;
Still be the foreign tribe prefer’d,
Trust them, ye great, their pockets fill,
They only rob, betray and kill.


Title Empyric Archaic spelling of empiric. A practitioner of medicine who lacks academic training and qualifications; a practitioner of traditional or folk medicine (OED).

Epigraph All Sciences a Fawning Monsieur knows Samuel Johnson, “London,” line 115:  “All Sciences a fasting Monsieur knows.” For Johnson’s fasting (Catholic, religious observation of abstinence of food) Telltroth substitutes fawning (cringing, servile flattery or homage) (OED).

5 Britannia Britain personified as a woman; the figure representing this, depicted wearing a helmet, holding a shield and trident, and usually seated, emblematic of Britain (or England) esp. as an imperial or sea power, or as a symbol of nationalism (OED).

7-10  Resolv’d…stroke  These lines describe the process of extracting blood (from a person, animal, vein, or part of the body) for (supposed) therapeutic practices (OED).

11 this tale  “His Death is said to be from a Fever” [Author’s Note].

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 13 (April 1743), pp. 212-213.

Edited by Keith Roche