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THE GOLDEN AGE*, A Poetical Epistle from Erasmus D

Thomas Beddoes, M. D.

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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?


Boast of proud Shropshire, Oxford's lasting shame,
Whom none but coxcombs scorn, but fools defame,
Eternal war with dulness born to wage,
Thou Paracelsus of this wondrous age;
By sage M. D.'s and LL.D.'s approved,
+ By Great SOC.'s praised, by little soc.'s beloved,
BebDoes, the philosophic chymist's guide,
The bigot's scourge, of democrats the pride,

* 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;
Or name more dear, a Sans Culotte attend,
While in Rhyme's Galligaskins I enclose
The broad posteriors of thy brawny prose,
And sing,

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;
And real prodigies her steps attend !
* No more immers'd in many a foreign dye
Shall British wool be taught to blush and lie ;
But all our pastures glow with purple rams,
With scarlet lambkins, and their yellow dams!
# No more the lazy ox shall gormandize,
And swell with fattening grass his monstrous size;
No more trot round and round the groaning field,
But tons of beef our loaded thickets yield !
The patient dairy-maid no more shall learn
With tedious toil to whirl the frothy churn;
But from the hedges shall her dairy fill,
As pounds of butter in big drops distil!
The sottish Jews, who in a God believ'd,
And sometimes blessings, oftener plagues receiv'd.
Shouted a miracle, when on the ground
Their boasted bread the greedy grumblers found:
By no dry crusts shall infidels be fed,
Our soil producing butter to our bread!
* See reverend Thames, who God of Rivers reigns,
And winds meand'ring through our richest plains,
To treat the Cits, that many a sixpence give
Once in a week like Gentlemen to live,
Resign his majesty of mud, and stream
O'er strawberry beds in deluges of cream!

* Nec varios discet mentiri lana colores:

Ipse sed in pratis Aries jam suavè rubenti
Murice, jam croceo mutabit vellera luto:
Sponte suâ sandyr pascentes vestiet agnos.

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,
Candles of wax the prouder elm adorn!
See the dull clown survey with stupid stare
Where leaves once grew, now periwigs of hair!
While fluids, which a wondrous change betray,
Ooze from the vernal bud, the summer spray,
Differing from animals alone in name,
(As botanists already half exclaim).
See plants, susceptible of joy and woe,
Feel all we feel, and know whate'er we know!
View them like us inclin’d to watch or sleep,
Like us to smile, and, ah! like us to weep!
Like us behold them glow with warm desire,
And catch from Beauty's glance celestial fire !
Then, oh! ye fair, if through the shady grove
Musing on absent lovers you should rove,
And there with tempting step all heedless brush
Too near some wanton metamorphos'd bush,
Or only hear perchance the western breeze
Steal murmuring through the animated trees,
Beware, beware, lest to your cost you find
The bushes dangerous, dangerous too the wind,
Lest, ah! too late with shame and grief you feel
What your fictitious pads would ill conceal!

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

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