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violence, "S'death, a Frenchman! I am betrayed to the tyrant! Who could have thought the queen would have delivered me up to France in this treaty, and least of all that you, my friends, would have been in a conspiracy against me?""Sir," said I, "here is neither plot nor conspiracy, but for your advantage. The recovery of your senses requires my attendance, and your friends sent for me on no other account." I then took a particular survey of his person, and the furniture and disposition of his apartment. His aspect was furious, his eyes were rather fiery than lively, which he rolled about in an uncommon manner. He often opened his mouth, as if he would have uttered some matter of importance, but the sound seemed lost inwardly. His beard was grown, which they told me he would not suffer to be shaved, believing the modern dramatic poets had corrupted all the barbers in the town to take the first opportunity of cutting his throat. His eye-brows were grey, long, and grown together, which he knit with indignation when any thing was spoken, insomuch that he seemed not to have smoothed his forehead for many years. His flannel night-cap, which was exceedingly begrimed with sweat and dirt, hung upon his left ear; the flap of his breeches dangled between his legs, and the rolls of his stockings fell down to his ankles.
I observed his room was hung with old tapestry, which had several holes in it, caused, as the old woman informed me, by his having cut out of it
the heads of divers tyrants, the fierceness of whose visages had much provoked him. On all sides of his room were pinned a great many sheets of a tragedy called Cato, with notes on the margin with his own hand. The words absurd, monstrous, execrable, were every where written in such large characters, that I could read them without my spectacles. By the fire-side lay three farthings' worth of small coal in a Spectator, and behind the door huge heaps of papers of the same title, which his nurse informed me she had conveyed thither out of his sight, believing they were books of the black art; for her master never read in them, but he was either quite moped, or in raving fits. There was nothing neat in the whole room, except some books on his shelves, very well bound and gilded, whose names I had never before heard of, nor I believe were any where else to be found; such as Gibraltar, a comedy; Remarks on Prince Arthur; The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry; An Essay on Public Spirit. The only one I had any knowledge of was a Paradise Lost, interleaved. The whole floor was covered with manuscripts, as thick as a pastry-cook's shop on a Christmas eve. On his table were some ends of verse and of candles; a gallipot of ink with a yellow pen in it, and a pot of half dead ale covered with a Longinus.
As I was casting mine eyes round on all this odd furniture with some earnestness and astonishment, and in a profound silence, I was on a sudden
surprized to hear the man speak in the following
Beware, Doctor, that it fare not with you as with your predecessor the famous Hippocrates, whom the mistaken citizens of Abdera sent for in this very manner to cure the philosopher Democritus; he returned full of admiration at the wisdom of that person, whom he had supposed a lunatic. Behold, Doctor, it was thus Aristotle himself, and all the great ancients, spent their days and nights, wrapt up in criticism, and beset all around with their own writings. As for me, whom you see in the same manner, be assured I have none other disease than a swelling in my legs, whereof I say no more, since your art may further satisfy you."
I began now to be in hopes, that his case had been misrepresented, and that he was not so far gone, but some timely medicines might recover him. I therefore proceeded to the proper queries, which, with the answers made to me, I shall set down in form of a dialogue, in the very words they were spoken, because I would not omit the least circumstance in this narrative; and I call my conscience to witness, as if upon oath, that I shall tell the truth without addition or diminution.
Dr. Pray, Sir, how did you contract this swelling? Denn. By a criticism.
Dr. A criticism! that's a distemper I never heard of.
Denn. S'death, Sir, a distemper! It is no distemper, but a noble art. I have sat fourteen hours
Mr. Lintot. He is an author; you mistake the gentleman, Doctor; he has been an author these twenty years, to his bookseller's knowledge, and no man's else.
Denn. Is all the town in a combination? Shall poetry fall to the ground? Must our reputation be lost to all foreign countries! O destruction! perdition! Opera! Opera!* As poetry once raised cities, so when poetry fails, cities are overturned, and the world is no more.
Dr. He raves, he raves! Mr. Lintot, I pray you pinion down his arms, that he may do no mischief.
Denn. O I am sick, sick to death!
Dr. That is a good symptom, a very good symptom. To be sick to death (say the modern physicians) is an excellent symptom. When a patient is sensible of his pain, it is half a cure. Pray, Sir, of what are you sick?
Denn. Of every thing, of every thing. I am sick of the sentiments, of the diction, of the protasis, of the epitasis, and the catastrophe.—Alas! what is become of the drama, the drama?
Old Wom. The dram, Sir! Mr. Lintot drank up all the gin just now; but I'll go fetch more presently.
Denn. O shameful want, scandalous omission! By all the immortals, here is no peripatia, no
* He wrote a treatise proving the decay of public spirit to proceed from Italian operas. Warton.
change of fortune in the tragedy; Z- no change at all!
Old Wom. Pray, good Sir, be not angry, I'll fetch change.
Dr. Hold your peace, woman; his fit encreases; good Mr. Lintot, hold him.
Mr. Lintot. Plague on't! I'm damnably afraid they are in the right of it, and he is mad in earnest. If he should be really mad, who the devil would buy the Remarks? (Here Mr. Lintot scratched his head.)
Dr. Sir, I shall order you the cold bath to-morrow-Mr. Lintot, you are a sensible man; pray send for Mr. Verdier's servant, and as you are a friend to the patient, be so kind as to stay this evening, whilst he is cupped on the head. The symptoms of his madness seem to be desperate; for Avicen says, that if learning be mixed with a brain that is not of a contexture fit to receive it, the brain ferments, till it be totally exhausted. We must eradicate these undigested ideas out of the pericranium, and reduce the patient to a competent knowledge of himself.
Denn. Caitiffs, stand off, unhand me, miscreants! Is the man, whose whole endeavours are to bring the town to reason, mad? Is the man, who settles poetry on the basis of antiquity, mad? Dares any one assert, there is a peripatia in that vile piece, that's foisted upon the town for a dramatic poem? That man is mad, the town is mad, the world is mad. See Longinus in my right-hand,