The Dispensary (7th ed)/Canto 3

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ALL Night the Sage in Pensive Tumults lay,
Complaining of the slow Approach of Day;
Oft turn'd him round, and strove to think no more
Of what shrill Colon said the Day before.
Cowslips and Poppies o'er his Eyes he spread,
And S—— Works he laid beneath his Head.
But those bless'd Opiats still in vain he tries,
Sleep's gentle Image his Embraces flies.
Tumultuous Cares lay rolling in his Breast,
And thus his anxious Thoughts the Sage exprest.

Oft has this Planet roll'd around the Sun,
Since to consult the Skies I first begun:
Such my Applause, so mighty my Success,
Some granted my Predictions more than Guess.

But, doubtful as I am, I'll entertain
This Faith, There can be no Mistake in Gain.
For the dull World most Honour pay to those
Who on their Understanding most impose.
First Man creates, and then he fears the Elf,
Thus others cheat him not but he himself:
He loaths the Substance and he loves the Show;
You'll ne'er convince a Fool, Himself is so:
He hates Reallities, and hugs the Cheat,
And still the only Pleasure's the Deceit.
So Meteors flatter with a dazling Dye
Which no Existence has, but in the Eye.
At distance Prospects please us, but when near,
We find but desart Rocks, and fleeting Air.
From Stratagem to Stratagem we run,
And he knows most, who latest is undone.

Mankind one Day serene and free appear;
The next, they're cloudy, sullen, and severe:
New Passions, new Opinions still excite,
And what they like at Noon, they leave at Night.
They gain with Labour, what they quit with Ease,
And Health, for want of Change, becomes Disease.
Religion's bright Authority they dare,
And yet are Slaves to Superstitious Fear.
They Counsel others, but themselves Deceive,
And tho' they're Cozen'd still, they still Believe.
So proud of Praise, for That their Ease they slight;
Yet never think the Rabble in the right.
Thus Priests their Pagan Gods profanely mock;
And know that Sacrifice is only Smoke.
They find, if some great Enterprise they view.
Oft more to Folly, than to Prudence due.

Or if some matchless Conduct shou'd appear,
They call the Valour, Heat; the Caution, Fear.
So false their Censure, fickle their Esteem,
This Hour they Worship; and the next Blaspheme.
Tho' honour'd as some God a Heroe shines,
And Valour executes what Skill designs;
Tho' rescu'd Nations their Deliv'rance own,
And Monarchs sit unshaken on a Throne,
Whilst proud Oppressors their vain Hopes give o'er,
And tremble at the Chains They forg'd before;
Yet if th' amazing Issue we survey,
We find that Fame has Wings, and flies away.

Shall I then, who with penetrating Sight
Inspect the Springs that guide each Appetite:
Who with unfathom'd Searches hourly pierce
The dark Recesses of the Universe,
Be aw'd, if puny Emmets wou'd oppress;
Or fear their Fury, or their Name caress?
If all the Fiends that in low Darkness reign,
Be not the Fictions of a sickly Brain,
That Project, the [1]Dispensary they call,
Before the Moon can blunt her Horns, shall fall.

With that, a Glance from mild Aurora's Eyes
Shoots thro' the Chrystal Kingdoms of the Skies;
The Savage Kind in Forests cease to roam,
And Sots o'ercharg'd with nauseous Loads reel home.
Drums, Trumpets, Haut-boys wake the slumbring Pair;
Whilst Bridegroom sighs, and thinks the Bride less fair.
Light's chearful Smiles o'er th'Azure Waste are spread,
And Miss from Inns o'Court bolts out unpaid.

The Sage transported at th'approaching Hour,
Imperiously thrice thunder'd on the Floor;
Officious Squirt that Moment had access,
His Trust was great, his Vigilance no less.
To him thus Horoscope,

My kind Companion in this dire Affair,
Which is more light, since you assume a Share;
Fly with what haste you us'd to do of old,
When Clyster was in danger to be cold:
With Expedition on the Beadle call,
To summon all the Company to th' Hall.

Away the friendly Coadjutor flies,
Swift as from Phyal Steams of Harts-horn rise.
The Magus in the int'rim mumbles o'er
Vile Terms of Art to some Infernal Pow'r,
And draws Mysterious Circles on the Floor.
But from the gloomy Vault no glaring Spright
Ascends, to blast the tender Bloom of Light.
No mystick Sounds from Hell's detested Womb,
In dusky Exhalations upwards come.
And now to raise an Altar He decrees,
To that devouring Harpy call'd Disease.
Then Flow'rs in Canisters he hastes to bring,
The wither'd Product of a blighted Spring.
With cold Solanum from the Pontick Shore,
The Roots of Mandrake and Black Ellebore,
The Griper Senna, and the Puker Rue,
The Sweetner Sassafras are added too;
And on the Structure next he heaps a load
Of Sulphur, Turpentine and Mastick Wood:

Gums, Fossiles too the Pyramid increas'd.
A Mummy next, once Monarch of the East.
Then from the Compter he takes down the File,
And with Prescriptions lights the solemn Pile.

Feebly the Flames on clumsie Wings aspire,
And smoth'ring Fogs of Smoke benight the Fire.
With Sorrow he beheld the sad Portent,
Then to the Hag these Orizons he sent.

Disease! thou ever most propitious Pow'r,
Whose kind Indulgence we discern each Hour;
Thou well canst boast thy num'rous Pedigree
Begot by Sloth, maintain'd by Luxury.
In gilded Palaces thy Prowess reigns
But flies the humble Sheds of Cottage Swains.
To You such Might and Energy belong,
You nip the Blooming, and unnerve the Strong.
The Purple Conqueror in Chains you bind,
And are to us your Vassals only kind.

If, in return, all Diligence we pay
To fix your Empire, and confirm your Sway,
Far as the weekly Bills can reach around,
From Kent-street end to fam'd St. Giles's-Pound;
Behold this poor Libation with a Smile,
And let auspicious Light break through the Pile.

He spoke; and on the Pyramid he laid
Bay Leaves and Vipers Hearts, and thus he said;
As These consume in this mysterious Fire,
So let the curs'd Dispensary[2] expire;

And as Those crackle in the Flames, and die,
So let its Vessels burst, and Glasses fly.
But a sinister Cricket strait was heard,
The Altar fell, the Offering disappear'd.
As the fam'd Wight the Omen did regret,
Squirt brought the News the Company was met.

Nigh where Fleet-Ditch descends in fable Streams,
To wash his sooty Naiads in the Thames;
There stands a [3]Structure on a rising Hill,
Where Tyros take their Freedom out to kill.
Some Pictures in these dreadful Shambles tell,
How by the Delian God, the Pithon fell;
And how Medea did the Philter brew,
That cou'd in Æson's Veins young Force renew.
How mournful, [4]Myrrha for her Crimes appears,
And heals hysterick Matrons still with Tears.
How Mentha and Althea, Nymphs no more,
Revive in sacred Plants, and Health restore.
How sanguine Swains their am'rous Hours repent,
When Pleasure's past and Pains are permanent;
And how frail Nymphs, oft by Abortion, aim
To lose a Substance, to preserve a Name.

Soon as each Member in his Rank was plac'd,
Th' Assembly Diasenna thus address'd.

My kind Confederates, if my poor Intent,
As 'tis sincere, had been but prevalent,
We here had met on some more safe Design,
And on no other Bus'ness but to Dine;

The Faculty had still maintain'd their Sway,
And Int'rest then had bid us but obey;
This only Emulation we had known,
Who best cou'd fill his Purse, and thin the Town.
But now from gathering Clouds Destruction pours,
Which ruins with mad Rage our Halcyon Hours:
Mists from black Jealousies the Temped form,
Whilst late Divisions reinforce the Storm.
Know, when these Feuds, like those at Law, are past,
The Winners will be Losers at the last.
Like Heroes in Sea-Fights we seek Renown,
To fire some Hostile Ship, we burn our own.
Who-e'er throws Dust against the Wind, descries
He throws it, in effect, but in his Eyes.
That Juggler which another's Slight will show,
But teaches how the World his own may know.

Thrice happy were those golden Days of old,
When dear as Burgundy, Ptisans were sold;
When Patients chose to die with better Will,
Than breathe, and pay th' Apothecary's Bill.
And cheaper than for our Assistance call,
Might go to Aix or Bourbon, Spring and Fall.

Then Priests increas'd, and Piety decay'd,
Churchmen the Church's Purity betray'd;
Their Lives and Doctrine, Slaves and Atheists made.
The Laws were but the hireling judge's Sense;
Juries were sway'd by venal Evidence.
Fools were promoted to the Council-Board,
Tools to the Bench, and Bullies to the Sword.

Pensions in Private were the Senate's Aim;
And Patriots for a Place abandon'd Fame.

But now no influencing Art remains,
For S———rs has the Seal, and Nassau reigns.
And we, in spight of our Resolves, must bow,
And suffer by a Reformation too.
For now late Jars our Practices detect,
And Mines, when once discover'd, lose Effect.
Dissentions, like small Streams, are first begun,
Scarce seen they rise, but gather as they run:
So Lines that from their Parallell decline,
More they proceed the more they still dis-join.
'Tis therefore my Advice, in haste we send,
And beg the Faculty to be our Friend;
Send swarms of Patients, and our Quarrels end.
So awful Beadles, if the Vagrant treat,
Strait turn familiar, and their Fasces quit.
In vain we but contend, that Planet's Pow'r
Those Vapours can disperse It rais'd before.

As He prepar'd the Mischief to recite,
Keen Colorynthis paus'd and foam'd with Spight,
Sow'r Ferments on his shining Surface swim,
Work up to Froth and bubble o'er the Brim:
Not Beauties fret so much if Freckles come,
Or Nose shou'd redden in the Drawing-Room;
Or Lovers that mistake th'appointed Hour,
Or in the lucky Minute want the Pow'r.

Thus He———Thou Scandal of great Pæan's Art,
At thy Approach, the Springs of Nature start,

The Nerves unbrace: Nay, at the Sight of thee,
A Scratch turns Cancer, Itch a Leproiie.
Cou'dft thou propose, That we, the Friends o'Fates,
Who fill Church-yards, and who unpeople States,
Who baffle Nature and dispose of Lives,
Whilst Russel, as we please, or starves, or thrives,
Should e'er submit to their despotic Will,
Who out o'Consultation scarce can kill?
The tow'ring Alps shall sooner sink to Vales,
And Leaches, in our Glasses, swell to Whales,
Or Norwich trade in Implements of Steel,
And Bromingham in Stuffs and Druggets deal!
Allys at Wapping furnish us new Modes,
And Monmouth street, Versailles with Riding-hoods;
The Sick to th' Hundreds in pale Throngs repair,
And change the Gravel-Pits for Kentish Air.
Our Properties must on our Arms depend;
'Tis next to Conquer, bravely to Defend.
'Tis to the Vulgar, Death too harsh appears;
The Ill we feel is only in our Fears.

To Die, is Landing on some silent Shoar,
Where Billows never break, nor Tempests roar:
E'er well we feel the friendly Stroke, 'tis o'er.
The Wife thro' Thought th'Insults of Death defy;
The Fools, thro' bless'd Insensibility.
'Tis what the Guilty fear, the Pious crave;
Sought by the Wretch, and vanquish'd by the Brave.
It eases Lovers, sets the Captive free
And, tho' a Tyrant, offers Liberty.

Sound but to Arms, the Foe shall soon confess
Our Force encreases, as our Funds grow less;
And what requir'd such Industry to raise,
We'll scatter into nothing as we please.
Thus they'll acknowledge, to Annihilate
Skews no less wond'rous Pow'r than to Create.
We'll raise our num'rous Cohorts and oppose
The feeble Forces of our pigmy Foes;
Legions of Quacks shall join us on the Place,
From Great Kirleus down to Doctor Case.
Tho' such vile Rubbish sink, yet we shall rise;
Directors still secure the greatest Prize.
Such poor Supports serve only like a Stay;
The Tree once fix'd; its Rest is torn away.

So Patriots, in the time of Peace and Ease,
Forget the Fury of the late Disease:
On Dangers past, serenely think no more;
And curse the Hand that heal'd the Wound before.

Arm therefore, gallant Friends, 'tis Honour's Call,
Or let us boldly Fight, or bravely Fall.

To this the Session seem'd to give Consent,
Much lik'd the War, but dreaded much th'Event.
At length, the growing Diff'rence to compose,
Two Brothers, nam'd Ascarides, arose.
Both had the Volubility of Tongue,
In Meaning faint, but in Opinion strong.
To Speak they both assum'd a like Pretence,
The Elder gain'd his just Pre-eminence;

Thus he: 'Tis true, when Privilege and Right
Are once invaded, Honour bids us Fight.
But e'er we once engage in Honour's Cause,
First know what Honour is, and whence it was.

Scorn'd by the Base, 'tis courted by the Brave,
The Heroe's Tyrant, and the Coward's Slave.
Born in the noisie Camp, it lives on Air;
And both exists by Hope and by Despair.
Angry when e'er a Moment's Ease we gain,
And reconcil'd at our Returns of Pain.
It lives, when in Death's Arms the Heroe lies,
But when his Safety he consults, it dies.
Bigotted to this Idol, we disclaim
Rest, Health, and Ease, for nothing but a Name.

Then let us, to the Field before we move,
Know, if the Gods our Enterprise approve.
Suppose th'unthinking Faculty unvail
What we, thro' wiser Conduct, wou'd conceal;
Is't Reason we shou'd quarrel with the Glass
That shews the monstrous Features of our Face?
Or grant some grave Pretenders have of late
Thought fit an Innovation to create;
Soon they'll repent, what rashly they begun;
Tho' Projects please, Projectors are undone.
All Novelties must this Success expect,
When good our Envy; and when bad, Neglect:
If Reason cou'd direct, e'er now each Gate
Had born some Trophy of Triumphal State.
Temples had told how Greece and Belgia owe
Troy and Namur to Jove and to Nassau.

Then since no Veneration is allow'd.
Or to the real, or th' appearing Good;
The Project that we vainly apprehend,
Must, as it blindly rose, as vilely end.
Some Members of the Faculty there are,
Who Int'rest prudently to Oaths prefer.
Our Friendship with feign'd Airs they poorly court,
And boast their Politicks are our Support.
Them we'll consult about this Enterprize,
And boldly Execute what they Advise.

But from below (while such Resolves they took)
Some Aurum Fulminans the [5]Fabrick shook.
The Champions, daunted at the Crack, retreat,
Regard their Safety, and their Rage forget.

So when at Bathos Earth's big Offspring strove
To scale the Skies, and wage a War with Jove;
Soon as the Ass of old Silenus bray'd,
The trembling Rebels in Confusion fled.

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  1. Medicines made up there, for the use of the Poor.
  2. See the Allusion. Theoc. Pharm.
  3. Apothecaries Hall.
  4. See Ov. Met.
  5. The Room the Apothecaries meet in, is over the Laboratory.