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1670 ?-1718-19.

Of a Yorkshire Family - Educated at Cambridge nitted a Fellow

of the College of Physicians Publishes • The Dispensary,' a poem Sides with the Whigs — His Popularity — Knighted by George I. His Ovid' – Burial at Harrow-on-the-Hill.

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SAMUEL Garth was of a good family in Yorkshire, and from soine school in his own country became a student at PeterHouse, in Cambridge, where he resided till he became Doctor of Physic on July the 7th, 1691. He was examined before the College at London on March the 12th, 1691-2, and admitted Fellow June 26th, 1692. He was soon so much distinguished by his conversation and accomplishments as to obtain very extensive practice; and, if a pamphlet of those times may be credited, had the favour and confidence of one party, as Radcliffe had of the other.

He is always mentioned as a man of benevolence ; and it is just to suppose that his desire of helping the helpless disposed him to so much zeal for the • Dispensary;' an undertaking of which some account, however short, is proper to be given.

Whether what Temple says be true, that physicians have had more learning than the other faculties, I will not stay to inquire; but, I believe, every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusion of beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art where there is no hope of lucre. Agreeably to this character, the College of Physicians, in July, 1687, published an edict, requiring all the fellows, candidates, and licentiates to give gratuitous advice to the neighbouring poor.

This edict was sent to the Court of Aldermen; and a



question being made to whom the appellation of the poor should be extended, the College answered, that it should be sufficient to bring a testimonial from the clergyman officiating in the parish where the patient resided.

After a year's experience, the physicians found their charity frustrated by some malignant opposition, and made to a great degree vain by the high price of physic: they therefore voted, in August, 1688, that the laboratory of the College should be accommodated to the preparation of medicines, and another room prepared for their reception; and that the contributors to the expense should manage the charity.

It was now expected that the apothecaries would have undertaken the care of providing medicines; but they took another course. Thinking the whole design pernicious to their interest, they endeavoured to raise a faction against it in the College, and found some physicians mean enough to solicit their patronage, by betraying to them the counsels of the College. The greater part, however, enforced by a new edict, in 1694, the former order of 1687, and sent it to the mayor and aldermen, who appointed a committee to treat with the College, and settle the mode of administering the charity.

It was desired by the aldermen, that the testimonials of churchwardens and overseers should be admitted ; and that all hired servants, and all apprentices to handicraftsmen, should be considered as poor. This likewise was granted by the College.

It was then considered who should distribute the medicines, and who should settle their prices. The physicians procured some apothecaries to undertake the dispensation, and offered that the Warden and Company of the Apothecaries should adjust the price. This offer was rejected ; and the apothecaries who had engaged to assist the charity were considered as traitors to the company, threatened with the imposition of troublesome offices, and deterred from the performance of their engagements. The apothecaries ventured upon public opposition, and presented a kind of remonstrance against the design to the committee of the city, which the physicians condescended to confute : and at least the traders seem to have prevailed




among the sons of trade ; for the proposal of the College having been considered, a paper of approbation was drawn up, but postponed and forgotten.

The physicians still persisted ; and in 1696 a subscription was raised by themselves, according to an agreement prefixed to the · Dispensary.' The poor were for a time supplied with medicines; for how long a time, I know not. The medicinal charity, like others, began with ardour, but soon remitted, and at last died gradually away.

About the time of the subscription begins the action of the • Dispensary. The poem, as its subject was present and popular, co-operated with passions and prejudices then prevalent, and, with such auxiliaries to its intrinsic merit, was universally and liberally applauded. It was on the side of charity against the intrigues of interest, and of regular learning against licentious usurpation of medical authority, and was therefore naturally favoured by those who read and can judge of poetry.

In 1697 Garth spoke that which is now called the Harveian Oration ; which the authors of the · Biographia' mention with

6 more praise than the passage quoted in their notes will fully justify. Garth, speaking of the mischiefs done by quacks, has these expressions : “ Non autem telis vulnerat ista agyrtarum coluvies, sed theriacâ quædam magis perniciosa, non pyrio, sed pulvere nescio quo exotico certat, non globulis plumbeis, sed pilulis æque lethalibus interficit.” This was certainly thought fine by the author, and is still admired by his biographer [Dr. Campbell]. In October, 1702, he became one of the censors of the College.

Garth, being an active and zealous Whig, was a member of


I 'The Dispensary:' a Poem. London: Printed and sold by John Nutt, near Stationers' Hall, 1699. 4to. This was the first ed. A fifth ed. (Nutt) appeared in 12mo., 1703; and a seventh, “ with several descriptions and Episodes, never before printed,” was published by Tonson in 1714. 12mo. In • Letters from the Bodleian,' i. 114, is a letter from Garth to Dr. Charlett, “ with the interpretation the town puts upon some names and abbreviations in a late poem,” meaning 'The Dispensary.'

2 He was living 1699-1703 in the Haymarket-on the east side, sixth dvor from top. ---Rute-Books of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Latterly he lived in St. Jaines's Street.


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the Kit-Cat club, and by consequence familiarly known to all the great men of that denomination. In 1710, when the government fell into other hands, he wrote to Lord Godolphin, on his dismission, a short poem, which was criticised in the · Examiner," and so successfully either defended or excused by Mr. Addison, that, for the sake of the vindication, it ought to be preserved.

At the accession [1714] of the present family his merits were acknowledged and rewarded. He was knighted 4 with the sword of his hero, Marlborough; and was made physician in ordinary to the king, and physician-general to the army. .

He then undertook an edition of Ovid's · Metamorphoses, translated by several hands ; which he recommended by a preface, written with more ostentation than ability: his notions are half-formed, and his materials immethodically confused. This was his last work. He died Jan. 18, 1718-19,6 and was buried at Harrow-on-the-Hill.

His personal character seems to have been social and liberal. He communicated himself through a very wide extent of acquaintance; and though firm in a party, at a time when firmness included virulence, yet he imparted his kindness to those who were not supposed to favour his principles. He was an early encourager of Pope, and was at once the friend of Addison and of Granville. He is accused of voluptuousness and irreligion; and Pope, who says, that “ if ever there was a good

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S'Ovid's Metamorphoses,' in fifteen Books. Translated by the most Eminent Hands. Adorned with Sculptures. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, at Shakespeare's Head, over against Katharine Street, in the Strand. [July] 1717, folio. The work is dedicated to the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, and her portrait is prefixed.

6 In his last illness he did not use any remedies, but let his distemper take its course. He was the most agreeable companion I ever knew.—MR. TOWNLEY, of Tournley, in Lancashire. Spence by Singer, p. 115.

? In the chancel, beneath a large blue flag stone, bearing his name and the date of his death. Martha Lady Garth died 10th May, 1717. In Hay's * Religio Philosophi,' p. 73, the circumstance of Garth's ordering a vault to be made for himself and his wife in Harrow Church is spoken of as the result of some accidental whim. His will is dated 20th May, 1717; and his property, including his manor of Edgecott, in Bucks, he bequeathes to his daughter, Martha Beaufuy Boyle.


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