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Perhaps if skill could distant times explore,
Hard is his lot that, here by Fortune plac'd,
Then prompt no more the follies you decry,
ON THE DEATH OF MR. ROBERT LEVET, A PRACTISER IN PHYSIC,
Condemn’d to Hope's delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,
Our social comforts drop away.
See Levet to the grave descend,
Of ev'ry friendless name the friend.
Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind;
Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.
In Misery's darkest cavern known,
His useful care was ever nigh,
And lonely Want retir'd to die.
No petty gain disdain'd by pride,
The toil of ev'ry day supplied.
Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
The single talent well employ’d.
Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
Though now his eightieth year was nigh.
No cold gradations of decay,
And freed his soul the nearest way.
PROM THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES. “ ENLARGE my life with multitude of days !" In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays : Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know That life protracted is protracted woe. Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy, And shuts up all the passages of joy :' In vain their gifts the bounteous seasons pour, The fruit autumnal, and the vernal flow'r; With listless eyes the dotard views the store, He views, and wonders that they please no more; Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines, And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.
The still returning tale, and ling’ring jest,
While growing hopes scarce awe the gath'ring sneer,
Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
But grant, the virtues of a temp'rate prime
Yet e'vn on this her load Misfortune flings,
But few there are whom hours like these await,
JOHN ARMSTRONG was born in 1709, in the parish of Castleton, Roxburghshire, a parish of which his father was minister. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, took his medical degree in 1732, and soon afterwards commenced the practice of his profession in London, " the proper place," says one of his biographers, " for a man of accomplishments." His success as a physician was by no means great; necessity, perhaps, as well as inclination, prompted the employment of his pen. Some medical pamphlets, and a licentious production in verse, -" the Economy of Love," which at a more matured age he “ revised and corrected," -- were followed, in 1744, by the great work on which his reputation depends,-"The Art of Preserving Health." The publication of this poem was succeeded by one on “Benevolence," another on “ Taste," and another entitled “ Day," written in Germany, where the author was physician to the forces. From the year 1763 he continued to reside in London, cultivating intercourse with the Muses and their favourites, rather than striving to attain distinction in his professional career. He attributes his failure less to his natural indolence and inactivity than to a dislike to adopt the petty larity is achieved; "he could not intrigue with nurses, nor associate with the various knots of pert, insipid, well-bred, impertinent, good-humoured, malicious gossips that are often found so useful in introducing a young physician into practice." It is certain, however, that he was indisposed to exertion in ways more worthy of greatness; and the portrait drawn of him by his friend Thomson, in the “Castle of Indolence," affords collateral proof that he preferred a life of " lazy ease" to one of labour and excitement:
** With him was sometimes join'd in silent walk
(Profoundly silent, for they never spoke)
He never uttered word, save when first shone
The glittering star of eve-thank heaven, the day is done." Armstrong died in 1779; entitled to the gratitude of mankind for the useful lessons he had inculcated, in a form which renders them at once attractive and impressive,
It is unnecessary here to comment upon any of his productions, except that which established his fame, and alone sustains it. The work was one that required no ordinary skill, judgment, and genius. To describe the various ailments of the human frame, and the remedies suggested by knowledge and experience, in language at once clear, comprehensive, graceful, and poetical, appears a task so full of difficulties, that the reader must be made acquainted with the manner in which they have been overcome to be at all conscious of the triumph achieved by the physician-poet. "The Art of Preserving Health" is divided into four books; they treat of AIR, DIET, EXERCISE, and THE PASSIONS; and the object of the writer is to explain how much delight and enjoyment each is capable of yielding, but how necessary it is to give to each its proper direction, that each may work its natural and fitting purpose. If some of the topics are in themselves interesting and suited to verse, others would seem of a directly opposite character: loathsome diseases, disgusting habits, fright are however so treated as to lose all that repulses, and indeed invite to the consideration how they are to be avoided. He commenced his work with a full consciousness of the difficulties against which he had to contend, striving
"in clear and animated song
Dry philosophic precepts to convey," and he proceeded, in a clear and lucid style, setting aside all pedantic jargon, all the set phrases of the schools, to write so that what he wrote might be comprehended.
In pursuing, however, with firm purpose the main object of his design, he by no means overlooked the graces and descriptions that might impress upon the mind of the general reader the more weighty didactic truths it was his business to inculcate. The poem abounds in passages of exceeding beauty; the external appearances of * nature are described with as much elegance as accuracy; and his comments on the workings of the human mind, when enslaved by habit or passion, are as vigorous as just. The meanest or most unpleasing topic upon which he treats becomes dignified and impressive; the naiads of renowned rivers rehearse the praises of a draught of
The crush 'of thunder and the warring winds, Shook by the slow, but sure destroyer, Time, Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base. And finty pyramids, and walls of brass, Descend: the Babylonian spires are sunk; Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down. Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones, And tottering empires crush by their own weight. · This huge rotundity we tread grows old; And all those worlds that roll around the Sun,