The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From John Arbuthnot to Jonathan Swift - 2


I HAD almost resolved not to write to you, for fear of disturbing so happy a state as you describe. On the other hand, a little of the devil, that cannot endure any body should enjoy a paradise, almost provoked me to give you a long and melancholy state of our affairs. For you must know, that it is just my own case. I have with great industry endeavoured to live in ignorance, but at the same time would enjoy Kensington garden; and then some busy discontented body or another comes just cross me, and begins a dismal story; and before I go to supper, I am as full of grievances as the most knowing of them.

I will plague you a little, by telling you the dragon dies hard. He is now kicking and cuffing about him like the devil: and you know parliamentary management is the forte, but no hopes of any settlement between the two champions. The dragon said last night to my lady Masham and me, that it is with great industry he keeps his friends, who are very numerous, from pulling all to pieces. Gay had a hundred pounds in due time, and went away a happy man. I have solicited both lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke strongly for the Parnelian, and gave them a memorial the other day. Lord treasurer speaks mighty affectionately of him, which you know is an ill sign in ecclesiastical preferments. Witness some, that you and I know, when the contrary was the best sign in the world. Pray remember Martin[1], who is an innocent fellow, and will not disturb your solitude. The ridicule of medicine is so copious a subject, that I must only here and there touch it. I have made him study physick from the apothecary's bills, where there is a good plentiful field for a satire upon the present practice. One of his projects was, by a stamp upon blistering-plasters, and melilot by the yard, to raise money for the government, and to give it to Radcliffe and others to farm. But there was likely to be a petition from the inhabitants of London and Westminster, who had no mind to be flead. There was a problem about the doses of purging medicines published four years ago, showing, that they ought to be in proportion to the bulk of the patient. From thence Martin endeavours to determine the question about the weight of the ancient men, by the doses of physick that were given them. One of his best inventions was a map of diseases for the three cavities of the body, and one for the external parts; just like the four quarters of the world. Then the great diseases are like capital cities, with their symptoms all like streets and suburbs, with the roads that lead to other diseases. It is thicker set with towns than any Flanders map you ever saw. Radcliffe is painted at the corner of the map, contending for the universal empire of this world, and the rest of the physicians opposing his ambitious designs, with a project of a treaty of partition to settle peace.

There is an excellent subject of ridicule from some of the German physicians, who set up a sensitive soul as a sort of a first minister to the rational. Helmont calls him Archæus. Dolæus calls him Microcosmetor. He has under him several other genii, that reside in the particular parts of the body, particularly prince Cardimelech in the heart; Gasteronax in the stomach; and the plastick prince in the organs of generation. I believe I could make you laugh at the explication of distempers from the wars and alliances of those princes; and how the first minister gets the better of his mistress anima rationalis.

The best is, that it is making reprisals upon the politicians, who are sure to allegorise all the animal economy into state affairs. Pope has been collecting high flights of poetry, which are very good; they are to be solemn nonsense.

I thought upon the following the other day, as I was going into my coach, the dust being troublesome:

The dust in smaller particles arose,
Than those which fluid bodies do compose;
Contraries in extremes do often meet,
'Twas now so dry, that you might call it wet.

I do not give you these hints to divert you, but that you may have your thoughts, and work upon them.

I know you love me heartily, and yet I will not own, that you love me better than I love you. My lord and lady Masham love you too, and read your letter to me with pleasure. My lady says she will write to you, whether you write to her or not. — Dear friend, adieu.

  1. Martinus Scriblerus, of whom Pope, Arbuthnot, and others, were to write the Memoirs.