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enquiry, it will be easily discovered how much the intereft of multitudes was engaged in the production and continuance of this opinion, and how cheaply thofe, of whom it was known that they practifed phyfick before they studied it, might fatisfy themselves and others with the example of the illuftrious Sydenham.
It is therefore in an uncommon degree useful to publish a true account of this memorable man, that pride, temerity, and idleness may be deprived of that patronage which they have enjoyed too long; that life may be fecured from the dangerous experiments of the ignorant and prefumptuous; and that thofe, who fhall hereafter affume the important province of fuperintending the health of others, may learn from this great mafter of the art, that the only means of arriving at eminence and fuccefs are labour and ftudy.
From these falfe reports it is probable that another arofe, to which, though it cannot be with equal certainty confuted, it does not appear that entire credit ought to be given. The acquifition of a Latin ftyle did not feem confiftent with the manner of life imputed to him; nor was it probable, that he, who had fo diligently cultivated the ornamental parts of general literature, would have neglected the effential ftudies of his own profeffion. Those therefore who were determined, at whatever price, to retain him in their own party, and reprefent him equally ignorant and daring with themselves, denied him the credit of writing his own works in the language in which they were published, and afferted, but without proof, that they were composed by him in English, and translated into Latin by Dr. Mapletoft.
Whether Dr. Mapletoft lived and was familiar with
treatises were printed, treatises written on particular occafions, and printed at periods confiderably diftant from each other, we have had no opportunity of enquiring, and therefore cannot demonstrate the falfhood of this report: but if it be confidered how unlikely it is that any man fhould engage in a work fo laborious and fo little neceffary, only to advance the reputation of another, or that he should have leifure to continue the fame office upon all following occafions, if it be remembered how feldom fuch literary combinations are formed, and how foon they are for the greatest part diffolved, there will appear no reason for not allowing Dr. Sydenham the laurel of eloquence as well as phyfick *.
It is obfervable, that his Proceffus Integri, published after his death, difcovers alone more fkill in the Latin language than is commonly afcribed to him; and it furely will not be fufpected, that the officiousness of his friends was continued after his death, or that he procured the book to be translated only that, by leaving it behind him, he might fecure his claim to his other writings.
It is afferted by Sir Hans Sloane, that Dr. Sydenham, with whom he was familiarly acquainted, was particu
Since the foregoing was written, we have feen Mr. Ward's Lives of the Profeffors of Grefham College; who, in the life of Dr. Mapletoft, fays, that in 1676 Dr. Sydenham published his Observationes medicæ circa morborum acutorum hiftoriam & curationem, which he dedicated to Dr. Mapletoft, who at the defire of the author had tranflated them into Latin; and that the other pieces of that excellent phyfician were tranflated into that language by Mr. Gilbert Havers of Trinity College Cambridge, a student in physick and friend of Dr. Mapletoft. But as Mr. Ward, like others, neglects to bring any proof of his affertion, the question cannot fairly be decided by his authority. Orig. Edit.
larly versed in the writings of the great Roman orator and philofopher; and there is evidently fuch a luxuriance in his ftyle, as may discover the author which gave him most pleasure, and most engaged his imitation.
About the fame time that he became batchelor of phyfick, he obtained, by the interest of a relation, a fellowship of All Souls college, having fubmitted by the fubfcription required to the authority of the vifftors appointed by the parliament, upon what principles, or how confiftently with his former conduct, it is now impoffible to discover.
When he thought himself qualified for practice, he fixed his refidence in Westminster, became doctor of phyfick at Cambridge, received a licence from the college of physicians, and lived in the firft degree of reputation, and the greatest affluence of practice, for many years, without any other enemies than those which he raised by the fuperior merit of his conduct, the brighter luftre of his abilities, or his improvements of his fcience, and his contempt of pernicious methods fupported only by authority in oppofition to found reafon and indubitable experience. These men are indebted to him for concealing their names, when he records their malice, fince they have thereby escaped the contempt and deteftation of pofterity.
It is a melancholy reflection, that they who have obtained the highest reputation, by preferving or reftoring the health of others, have often been hurried away before the natural decline of life, or have paffed many of their years under the torments of thofe diftempers which they profefs to relieve. In this number was Sydenham, whose health began to fail in the 52d year of his age, by the frequent attacks of the gout, to Kk 2
which he was fubject for a great part of his life, and which was afterwards accompanied with the stone in the kidneys, and, its natural confequence, bloodyurine.
These were distempers which even the art of Sydenham could only palliate, without hope of a perfect cure, but which, if he has not been able by his precepts to instruct us to remove, he has, at leaft, by his example taught us to bear; for he never betrayed any indecent impatience, or unmanly dejection, under his torments, but fupported himself by the reflections of philosophy, and the confolations of religion, and in every interval of eafe applied himself to the affiftance of others with his ufual affiduity.
After a life thus ufefully employed, he died at his houfe in Pall-mall, on the 29th of December, 1689, and was buried in the aisle, near the fouth door, of the church of St. James in Westminster.
What was his character, as a phyfician, appears from the treatises which he has left, which it is not neceffary to epitomife or tranfcribe; and from them it may likewife be collected, that his fkill in phyfic was not his highest excellence; that his whole character was amiable; that his chief view was the benefit of mankind, and the chief motive of his actions the will of God, whom he mentions with reverence, well becoming the most enlightened and moft penetrating mind. He was benevolent, candid, and communicative, fincere, and religious; qualities, which it were happy if they could copy from him, who emulate his knowledge, and imitate his methods.
THE HERE is always this advantage in contending with illuftrious adverfaries, that the combatant is equally immortalized by conqueft or defeat. He that dies by the fword of a hero will always be mentioned when the acts of his enemy are mentioned. The man, of whofe life the following account is offered to the publick, was indeed eminent among his own party, and had qualities, which, employed in a good caufe, would have given him fome claim to diftinction; but no one is now fo much blinded with bigotry, as to imagine him equal either to Hammond or Chillingworth; nor would his memory, perhaps, have been preserved, had he not, by being conjoined with illuftrious names, become the object of publick. curiosity.
Francis Cheynel was born in 1608 at Oxford †, where his father Dr. John Cheynel, who had been fellow of Corpus Chrifti college, practifed phyfick with great reputation. He was educated in one of the grammar schools of his native city, and in the beginning of the year 1623 became a member of the university.
*First printed in The Student, 1751. Vide Wood's Ath. Ox. Orig. Edit.