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Is it not convincing evidence that immortality is just about to commence? How peculiar must be such solace to hoary hairs, viz. a soul retaining all its pristine vigour, strong and unimpaired by the ravages of time, glowing with all the ardour of youth, as if anxious to escape into immortality, and assume its proper nature, from a mansion unworthy of its residence.But we forget the business of criticism while exhilarated by subjects so enchanting. Law, previous to the time of Blackstone, was thought unsusceptible of classic ornament. The writers on jurisprudence, contented themselves with stating facts in their own homespun dialects, and considered ornament and perspicuity to be in a state of open 'and irreconcileable hostility. This vulgar delusion was dissipated by that eminent jurist; and it is now thought to be a species of reproach to a man of letters to be unacquainted with his page. He recommends to every gentleman the study of not the petty, vexatious and professional details indeed, but the broad outlines of the law. As every member of society may be called upon to perform the important duties of a juror, it is both shameful and disreputable to be ignorant of the functions of his office. This is the argument employed by Blackstone to recommend the general study of jurisprudence. May not the same observations apply, and with more peculiar propriety, to a general knowledge of the rudiments and elementary principles of medicine? Who of us enjoys by nature a special exemption from disease, and who that does not is able at all times to avail himself of medical assistance? We can but believe that there is a new era of medicine in prospect, that the science will shortly enjoy a popularity proportionate to its importance, not as before remarked, in all its petty details, but in its broad and general principles.
We can but flatter ourselves that the learned professor is destined to. take the lead, and to give to medicine what Blackstone did ta law, all the fascinations of classic elegance and grace. Nor can we refrain from expressing our admiration of those writers who trace and humbly acknowledge the marks of a superintending Deity in all his works. Christianity from this source derives assurance and support, the faith of the humble christian acquires new confidence and strength. Every new triumph in
the regions of science seems so far to remove the awful veil, and the Deity becomes more manifest. We do not think it extravagant speculation to affirm, that when infidelity is allied to science, the labours of science do not receive the blessings of Heaven, and are not rewarded with success. It is scarcely credible that a supremely wise Creator, after a special revelation of his will to guilty mortals, would suffer infidelity associated with science to counteract his own purposes. It may be owing to this cause that so much remains to be done, and that science has been so tardy in her progress towards perfection. We look with an honest pride on this hoary champion of science, for making so bold and heroic a stand against those of his fraternity who study and explore the works of the Deity, and audaciously deny the workmanship of his hand. This is the general character of the volume now under consideration, and it would be a pleasant theme of description, although foreign from our present purpose, to ascertain which of the characters, the physician, the classical scholar, or the christian, appears to the best advantage." Many critics whosé devotion to antiquity falls not much short of idolatrous, are constantly in the habit of running mortifying parallels between the present age and the past, and contend that all genius expired with the objects of their veneration. If they are to be considered as the true representatives of posterity, sentence of condemnation has already been pronounced, but we trust they have exercised an usurped jurisdiction. Posterity will at least claim the privilege of deciding for themselves, and will have but little thanks to bestow on those who have so benevolently forestalled their opinions. This however is not the peculiar and distinguishing characteristic of the present day; former ages have in like manner attempted to monopolize the judgment of the subsequent. Matthew Concannen and Dennis both declared that posterity would never acknowledge the poetical pretensions of Pope. The result has not answered their expectations--the pages of the poet still continue to be admired, and it ought to be a warning to other critics, that all posterity has known of the mes of Concannen or Dennis, is derived from the very poet they abused, and denied to future ages the privilege of reading. We are apt to consider the writers of
that period who survived the perishable fame of their contemporaries as the only writers of their times; and because Pope, and Swift, and Addison, and some few others have come down to us, they were the only authors who struggled to obtain the admiration of succeeding ages. We must not be led away by such idle fantasies. Pope and Swift had their contemporaries, who exerted themselves with as much industry as they did, and probably with more sanguine hopes of success, to obtain an inheritance of fame beyond the grave; they had their splendid and superb editions, their puffers and their critics to compensate for the meagre poverty of their intellects, but all this solemn paraphernalia was incompetent. We may therefore augur that amongst so many writers as the present age abounds with, there are some whose glory is destined to sparkle beyond the depredations of the tomb. Without daring, as those critics have done, definitely to pledge the admiration of future times, we will venture with more modesty to state an opinion that the venerable author may even now solace himself with the reflection that his lite. rary lamp is destined to shed a lustre on his ashes. Medical writers have of late been distinguished for a chastity of style and perspicuity of expression, highly honourable to their characters. They have not, it is true, followed the example of Curran, who gives us ornament, and nothing else; but they have done more, they have ILLUSTRATED by their ornaments. The dark ground of truth sometimes glitters with a literary pearl, and appears beautiful from the contrast when those gems are parsimoniously scattered. Dr. Rush eminently excells in this delicate part of composition. There is a mode of expressing ordinary ideas in figurative language, that confers a fictitious sort of dignity on the subject itself. A licence of this kind when not carried so far as to awaken burlesque by the disparity, is productive of pleasant sensations in the mind of the reader. The following is a specimen of this kind. “ Dr. Sydenham clearly proves that where the monarchy of a single disease was not immediately acknowledged by a retreat of all cotemporary diseases, they were forced to do homage to it by wearing its livery.” Dr. Syden. ham on the appearance of the plague in the city of London in the year 1664, left the metropolis, but afterwards, notwithstanding
the debility of his constitution and the affectionate intreaties of his wife, returned to the theatre of death, and was very successful in his medical exertions. This simple idea is expressed by our author in a manner equally classical and original. “Thus, (continues he) like Achilles he came forth from his short retire. ment, rallied the hopes of a desponding city, vanquished the destroyer of his fellow creatures, and by his incomparable writings, has ever since dragged him in triumph at his chariot wheels." Our author in his lecture on the opinions and modes of practice of Hippocrates, has drawn an imaginary picture of the Father of Medicine" which we transcribe not on account of its novelty, but because it makes this imaginary being express by an action, his approbation of his sentiments. In this it does partake of novelty. “I have endeavoured to fancy, while I was composing this lecture, that Hippocrates was to occupy a seat at my right hand, and to hear every thing that I should deliver to his disadvantage. I have fancied further, that under the influence of a belief in those modern opinions and modes of practice, that differed from his own, the venerable old man with a magnanimity that belongs only to great minds, would sit with his hand stretched out ready to shake mine as soon as I should descend from this chair, thereby to absolve me from every thing I should say against his system of medicine.” Our author while pouring forth a panegyric on the death of Dr. Shippen, concludes in a manner so solemn and admonitory that we cannot resist the temptation to transcribe. “To all the members of his profession, his death should teach a solemn and awful lesson, by reminding them that the knowledge by which they benefited others will sooner or later be useless to themselves. To me, whom age has placed nearest to him upon the list of profes
, sors, his death is a warning voice. The next summons from the grave will most probably be mine. Yes, gentlemen, these aids to declining vision and these gray hairs, remind me that I must soon follow my colleague and your preceptor to the mansions of the dead. When that time shall come, I shall relinquish many attractions to life, and among them a pleasure which has no equal in human pursuits; I mean that which I derive from studying, teaching, and practising medicine." The man
who does not in his own bosom feel what we may call the echo of nature, to the following delightful sentiments, merits an appellation as harsh as that which Shakspeare bestows on those who are insensible to the pleasures of music. “ It is from this cause that the sight of young children is always attended with pleasure. Their smiling and innocent looks relieve the eye from its familiarity with the solicitude, or the unhappy and guilty passions which so generally discover themselves in the faces of persons in adult life. It is for this reason that wise and good men often resort to the nursery to forget for a while the pressure of study, business, vexation and care. Luther sought relief from low spirits, and sir William Temple relaxation from the fatigue of study from this delightful source of pleasure. Dr. Priestley was so deeply impressed with the power of children to impart pleasure by their looks and gestures, that he said to a person who asserted in a large company that our Saviour never smiled, It cannot be true, he must have smiled when the little children were brought to receive his blessing.'” There has been a custom recently much in vogue, of applying passages of scripture to light and unbecoming subjects. Some literary fops are vain enough to imagine that it displays uncommon taste to mangle and distort passages of holy writ, and make inspiration speak a language different from its plain, obvious and natural import. As religion and true science are said to have an indissoluble connection, so it appears that infidelity is nearly allied to false taste. Let those who have thus offended and left it dubious whether impiety or their bad criticism is most to be condemned, learn from the following passage how a scriptural allusion may be employed to illustrate a subject with a dignity becoming its nature. 66 The sublime and various objects of religion are calculated to expand the human faculties to their utmost limits, and to impart to them a facility of action. We read that the face of Moses shone when he descended from conversing with his Maker on mount Sinai. The contemplation of the divine character and perfections never fails to produce a similar splendour in the human mind.” We notice the following as a literary curiosity, to show how the same thought has been by illustrious men rung throughout all the variety of meta