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THE GOLDEN AGE*, A Poetical Epistle from Erasmus D
Thomas Beddoes, M. D.
M. D. to
BY THE AUTHOR OF TWO HEROIC EPISTLES TO
The French, that most injured and most enlightened people upon
earth, within these few years (since Despotism has been overawed by Liberty) have improved Science more than all other Nations put together.
BEDDOES'S REASONS, &c. May we not, by regulating the vegetable functions, teach our Woods and Hedges to supply us with Butter and Tallow?
BEDDOES'S OBSERVATIONS ON CALCULUS, SCURVY, &c. p. 29.
Boast of proud Shropshire, Oxford's lasting shame,
* First published in 1794.
+ Dr. Beddoes not only ranks among his intimate friends one or two Gentlemen of the University of Oxford, who at present can only be characterized as the little fellows of a little College, hue likewise many illustrious Members of various Literary Societies, particularly the celebrated Dr. Priestley, whose splendid titles (even as modestly abridged by himself) are, LL. D. F. R. S. Ac. Imp. Petrop. R. Paris. Holm. Taurig. Aurel. Med. Paris. Harlem. Cantab. Americ. & Philad. Soc.
Accept this lay; and to thy brother, friend;
brimful of thee in tuneful strain, The blest return of Saturn's golden reign!
Oh had I, silly swain, the rage and fire Of some, whom Frenchmen's bloody deeds inspire ; Could I, ascending on the wing of sound, Pleas'd with the grand, the lofty, and profound, Soar above mortal ken in rapturous glow, Leaving poor pursy Serise to pant below; Could I, for ever studious to refine, Prank with my pearly phrase each pretty line, Or like an empty bottle, deep immers’d, Whence bubbles after bubbles bustling burst, Amus'd to view my noisy nothings swell, In the sweet vanity of thought excel; Now rising o'er the bounds of vulgar rhyme, Gracefully great and terribly sublime; Trolling in full-toned melody along With all the clattering clang of modern song; I'd hail the progress of those blissful days, When fair Philosophy's meridian rays Shall brighten Nature's face, shall drive the moles Of blinking Error to their secret holes, Disperse the darkness of primæval night, And bid a new Creation rise to light!
Proceed, great days ! and bring, oh! bring to view Things strange to tell! Incredible, but true! Behold, behold, the Golden Age appears: Skip, skip, ye Mountains ! Forests lend your ears!
* Quo me rapis, tui plenum?
See red-capt Liberty from heaven descend;
* Nec varios discet mentiri lana colores:
Ipse sed in pratis Aries jam suavè rubenti
VIRGIL. The renovation of the world under the benign influence of French Freedor has been long foretold by prophets of every description, by, some who manufacture verses, others who manufacture cotton, by maudling Mrs's, and mincing Misses, by enlightened Lawyers and more enlightened Physicians; but by none more fully expected, more ardently longed for, than by Dr. Beda does and * luis « Dear Giddy !” The great Dr. assures us, that not only science in general will shortly advance towards perfection, but that in particular "a new Medicine will arise from the ashes of the old with healing in its wings.” How this revolution is to be effectcd we are informed in the dedication of his Observations on Calculus, &c. p. 4. “We are just beginning to catch a glimpse of the laws of animal Nature; and now when the human mind seems in so many countries about to be roused from that torpor, by which it has so long bech benumbed, we may reasonably indulge the expectation of a rapid progress in this the most beneficial of all the sciences. An intinitely small portion of genius has hitherto been exerted to diminish the sum of our painful sensations; and the force of society has been exclusively at the disposal of Despots and Juntos, the great Artificers of hnman Evil. Should un entire change in these two respects any where take place, every member of snciety might soon expect to eaperience in his own person the consequence of so
* A Gentleman of Pembroke College, Oxford, to whom Dr. Beddoes addresses a late elaborate work by this familiar appel lation.
happy an innovations and should the example be generally followed, there is no improvement in the condition of the World, for which we might not hope from the bloodless rivalship of nations." But we are told, that the same influence of Liberty and Genius will not only in other respects effect equal wonders, but produce greater blessings. “We know,” exclaims this egregious Chymist, " that vegem tables are capable of forming oils either exactly the same as those of animals, or very nearly resembling thein. Thus we have the suet of the Croton Sebiferum, the butter of the Phenix Dactylifera and of the Butyrum Cacao. When, from a more intimate acquaintance with them, we shall be better able to apply the Laws of organic bodies to the accommodation as well as preservation of Life, may we not, by regulating the vegetable functions, teach our woods and hedges to supply us with butter and tallow?” Observations on Cal. culus, &c. p. 109.
* Το παλαιον σαντ' ήν αλφίτων και αλευρων πληρη, καθαπερ και τον κονεως» και κρηναι δ' ερρέον, αι μεν υδατος γαλακτος δ' αλλαι κας ομοιας αι μεν μελιτος αι δ' ουνε, τινες δ' ελαια.
Calanus Indus apud Strabon. lib. 15.
See tallow canilles tip the modest thoro,
While plants turn animals, man, happy man, * To ages shall extend life's lengthen'd span.
* “ If this supposition were just, might not some means be discovered to protract the period of youth and vigour indefinitely? Whether true or false, and even though we should never be able to restore new excitability to the system, there can be no doubt of the immediate practicability of prolonging life considerably; and what is much more desirable, of maintaining a firmer state of health." Observations on Calcutus, &c. p. 106. “ Nor, however remote medicine may be at present from such perfection, do I see any reason to doubt, that by taking advantage of various and continual accessions as they accrue to scieuce, the same power