Tag Archives: medicine

Isaac Hawkins Browne, “On a Fit of the Gout. An Ode”


“On a Fit of the Gout. An Ode”


Wherefore was Man thus form’d with eye sublime,
With active joints to traverse hill or plain,
But to contemplate Nature in her prime,
Lord of this ample world, his fair domain?
Why on this various earth such beauty pour’d,                                      5
But for thy pleasure, Man, her sovereign lord?

Why does the mantling vine her juice afford
Nectareous, but to cheer with cordial taste?
Why are the earth and air and ocean stor’d
With beast, fish, fowl; if not for Man’s repast?                                 10
Yet what avails to me, or taste, or sight,
Exil’d from every object of delight?

So much I feel of anguish, day and night
Tortur’d, benumb’d; in vain the fields to range
Me vernal breezes, and mild suns invite,                                              15
In vain the banquet smokes with kindly change
Of delicacies, while on every plate
Pain lurks in ambush, and alluring fate.

Fool, not to know the friendly powers create
These maladies in pity to mankind:                                                    20
These abdicated Reason reinstate
When lawless Appetite usurps the mind;
Heaven’s faithful centries at the door of bliss
Plac’d to deter, or to chastise excess.

Weak is the aid of wisdom to repress                                                     25
Passion perverse; philosophy how vain!
‘Gainst Circe’s cup, enchanting sorceress;
Or when the Syren sings her warbling strain.
Whate’er or sages teach, or bards reveal,
Men still are men, and learn but when they feel.                                     30

As in some free and well-pois’d common-weal
Sedition warns the rulers how to steer,
As storms and thunders ratling with loud peal,
From noxious dregs the dull horizon clear;
So when the mind imbrutes in sloth supine,                                             35
Sharp pangs awake her energy Divine.

Cease then, oh cease, fond mortal, to repine
At laws, which Nature wisely did ordain;
Pleasure, what is it? rightly to define,
‘Tis but a short-liv’d interval from pain:                                               40
Or rather, each, alternately renew’d,
Give to our lives a sweet vicissitude.


7  mantling  “Spreading, covering; enveloping, surrounding” (OED).

8  Nectareous  “Of the nature, consisting, or suggestive of nectar; sweet” (OED).

10  repast  “A quantity of food and drink forming or intended for a meal or feast” (OED).

27  Circe  In Greek and Latin mythology, a sorceress who was able to turn those who drank from her cup into swine (Britannica).

28  Syren  In Greek mythology, a feminine creature, often half bird and half woman, who “lure[s] sailors to destruction by the sweetness of her song” (Britannica).

31  common-weal  “Commonwealth” (OED).

35  imbrutes  “To degrade to the level of a brute; to make bestial, brutalize” (OED).

37  repine  “To feel or express dissatisfaction; to grumble, complain” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems Upon Various Subjects, Latin and English (London, 1768), pp. 137-39. [ECCO]

 Edited by Sam Lim-Kimberg



Mary Barber, “To Dr. Richard Helsham. Upon my Recovery from a dangerous Fit of Sickness”


“To Dr. Richard Helsham. Upon my Recovery from a dangerous Fit of Sickness

For fleeting Life recall’d, for Health restor’d,
Be first the God of Life and Health ador’d;
Whose boundless Mercy claims this Tribute due:
And next to Heav’n, I owe my Thanks to you;
To you, who feel the Ease your Med’cines give,                                 5
And, in reviving Patients, doubly live;
You, who from Nature’s Dictates never stray;
But wisely wait, till she points out the Way:
Where-e’er she leads, unerring, you pursue
Her mazy System, op’ning to your View.                                             10

In you reviv’d we RATCLIFF’S Genius see,
Heighten’d by Learning and Humanity.
With Ease all Nature’s Secrets you explore,
And to the noblest Heights of Science soar.
Your Thoughts, unbounded, travel with the Sun;                               15
And see attendant Worlds around him run;
Which trace their distant Courses thro’ the Sky,
Nor fly his Throne too far, nor press too nigh.
The wise and wond’rous Laws you clearly know,
Which rule those Worlds above, and this below.                                 20
The World of Life, which we obscurely see,
In all its Wonders, is survey’d by thee:
And thou in ev’ry Part canst something find,
To praise thy Maker, and to bless thy Kind:
Quick to discern, judicious to apply,                                                        25
Your Judgment clear, and piercing, as your Eye:
Ev’n Med’cines, in your wise Prescriptions, please;
And are no more the Patient’s worst Disease.
Goodness, and Skill, and Learning less than thine,
Rais’d AESCULAPIUS to the Realms divine.                                              30


Title Dr. Richard Helsham (1683-1738), Irish physician and natural philosopher; like Barber, he was also a member of Jonathan Swift’s Dublin circle.

11 RATCLIFF John Radcliffe (1650-1714), physician and politician, served as royal physician to William and Mary.

18 nigh “Close at hand, nearby” (OED).

25 judicious “Proceeding from or showing sound judgement; done with or marked by discretion, wisdom, or good sense” (OED).

30 AESCULAPIUS Greek god of medicine.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 30-31. [Google Books]

Edited by Ivan Li

Maria Logan, “To Opium”




Let others boast the golden spoil
Which Indian climes afford;
And still, with unavailing toil,
Increase the shining hoard:—-

Still let Golconda’s dazzling pride                                          5
On Beauty’s forehead glow,
And round the fair, on ev’ry side,
Sabean odours flow: —-

Be mine the balm, whose sov’reign pow’r
Can still the throb of Pain;                                                      10
The produce of the scentless flow’r,
That strews Hindostan’s plain.

No gaudy hue its form displays,
To catch the roving eye;
And Ignorance, with vacant gaze,                                          15
May pass regardless by.

But shall the Muse with cold disdain,
Its simple charms behold!
Shall she devote the tuneful strain
To incense, gems, or gold!                                                      20

When latent ills the frame pervade,
And mock the healing art;
Thy friendly balm shall lend its aid,
And transient ease impart;

Shall charm the restless hours of day,                                  25
And cheer the midnight gloom;
Shall blunt each thorn, which strews the way
That leads us to the tomb.

And oft, when Reason vainly tries
To calm the troubled breast,                                                    30
Thy pow’r can seal our streaming eyes,
And bid our sorrows rest.

What tho’ this calm must quickly cease,
And Grief resume its pow’r,
The heart that long has sigh’d for ease,                                  35
Will prize the tranquil hour!

A short oblivion of its care
Relieves the weary’d mind,
Till suff’ring nature learns to bear
The weight by Heav’n assign’d.                                                  40

Reviv’d by thee, my drooping Muse
Now pours the grateful strain,
And Fancy’s hand sweet flow’rets strews
Around the bed of Pain.


At her command gay scenes arise                                             45
To charm my raptur’d sight,
While Memory’s faithful hand supplies
Past objects of delight.

Yet Memory’s soothing charms were vain,
Without thy friendly aid;                                                              50
And sportive Fancy’s smiling train,
Would fly Disease’s shade —-

Did not thy magic pow’r supply,
A mild, tho’ transient ray;
As meteors in a northern sky,                                                    55
Shed artificial day.

And shall my humble Muse alone
Thy peerless worth declare!
A Muse to all the world unknown,
Whose songs are lost in air.                                                      60

O! may the bard, whose tuneful strain
Resounds thro’ Derwent’s vale,
At whose command the hosts of Pain,
Disease and Sickness, fail—-

That Sage, to whom the God of Day                                        65
His various gifts imparts,
Whose healing pow’r, whose melting lay,
United, charm our hearts—-

May he devote one tuneful page,
To thee, neglected Flow’r!                                                          70
Then Fame shall bid each future age,
Admiring, own thy pow’r!


Title  Opium  The foremost medicinal painkiller until synthetics were isolated in the 19th century (Encyclopedia Britannica).

1  spoil  “Goods… seized by force” (OED).

2  Indian climes  The East India Company obtained much mineral wealth from India, which they controlled on Britain’s behalf when this poem was written in 1793 (Encyclopedia Britannica).

5  Golconda  A city in Southern India famous for diamonds (Encyclopedia Britannica).

8  Sabean odours  An echo of Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Sabéan odors from the spicy shore/ Of Araby the Blest” (Book IV, 162-163). Refers to ancient kingdom of Saba in the Arabian peninsula (Encyclopedia Britannica).

17  Muse  A Goddess related to poetry and the arts, and a word referring to a particular poet’s inspiration (OED).

21 pervade  “To spread throughout; to permeate” (OED).

51  Fancy  “Imagination” (OED).

52  shade  “A dark figure ‘cast’ upon a surface” (OED).

61  bard  An admiring reference to Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), poet and naturalist, whose popular poem The Botanic Garden: A Poem in Two Parts first appeared in 1789.  Part II was titled “The Loves of the Plants.” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

62  Derwent’s vale  Derwent is a river in northwest England; a number of valleys could be associated with it (Dictionary of British Place-Names, 152).

65  God of Day  The use of ‘His’ in the next line suggests this is an allusion to Apollo, the god of light and the sun, but also of poetry. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

72  “This was written just before the publication of “The Loves of the Plants;” a work which had been long impatiently expected by everyone who had been so fortunate as to see any specimen of the Author’s poetical abilities” [Author’s Note].

Source: Poems on Several Occasions… Second edition (York, 1793), pp. 17-21. [Google Books]

Edited by John Holden


Anonymous, “On the Dissection of a Body”


 “On the Dissection of a Body”


OBSERVE this wonderful machine,
View its connection with each part,
Thus furnish’d by the hand unseen,
How far surpassing human art!

Should ablest imitators try,                                                                       5
With utmost skill, to form a like,
Could they so charm the curious eye?
Could they with equal wonder strike?

See how the motion of each part
Upon some other still depends,                                                      10
When all a mutual aid impart,
Conductive to their various ends.

Whilst we th’amazing frame explore,
More secret wonders still we spy,
Yet there remain ten thousand more                                                     15
Hid from the microscopic eye.

Here may the stupid Atheist see
Convincing proofs —-which all combine
To overthrow his wretched plan,
And speak the Maker’s hand divine.                                               20

What great emoluments accrue
To those whose Nature’s laws obey?
From such instructions in her view,
Ye sons of Esculapius say!

Tho’God has call’d the life he lent,                                                         25
Each vital function, dormant laid,
Here we trace Nature’s deep intent,
And see how once the springs were play’d.

These tubes convey’d the purple juice,
WhichWhich with new strength supply’d the whole;                   30
And here branch’d forth the nerves, whose use
Was to keep converse with the soul.

This silent preacher points us out
The cause of many a latent ill,
Which, heretofore, lay hid in doubt,                                                       35
Baffling each effort of our skill.


10 other Corrected printer’s error; originally spelled as “othe.”

 21 emoluments “Profit or gain arising from station, office, or employment” (OED).

 24 son of Esculapius Modern physicians. Asclepius, a Greek healer who extended the knowledge of medicine among mankind, was killed by Zeus for charging money to raise the dead, but also revived by Zeus as the god of healing and medicine.

28 springs From the phrase “the springs of life,” or youth (OED).

29 purple juice Blood, as one of the four Hippocratic four humors, is the vital force and innate heat of the body. According to Hippocratic medicine, when blood loses its force and heat, its color changes from red to purple.

34 latent “Of a disease, disorder, infection, or infectious agent: present but not (yet) producing symptoms or clinical signs” (OED).

Source: The Gentlemen’s Magazine, Vol. 40 (August 1770), pp. 385-86.

 Edited by Tammy J. Allen