The Newcastle Apothecary.

A poem by George Colman

A man, in many a country town, we know,
Professes openly with death to wrestle;
Ent'ring the field against the grimly foe,
Arm'd with a mortar and a pestle.

Yet, some affirm, no enemies they are;
But meet just like prize-fighters, in a Fair,
Who first shake hands before they box,
Then give each other plaguy knocks,
With all the love and kindness of a brother:
So (many a suff'ring Patient saith)
Tho' the Apothecary fights with Death,
Still they're sworn friends to one another.

A member of this Æsculapian line,
Lived at Newcastle upon Tyne:
No man could better gild a pill:
Or make a bill;
Or mix a draught, or bleed, or blister;
Or draw a tooth out of your head;
Or chatter scandal by your bed;
Or give a clyster.

Of occupations these were quantum suff.:
Yet, still, he thought the list not long enough;
And therefore Midwifery he chose to pin to't.
This balance'd things:--for if he hurl'd
A few score mortals from the world,
He made amends by bringing others into't.

His fame full six miles round the country ran;
In short, in reputation he was solus:
All the old women call'd him "a fine man!"
His name was Bolus.

Benjamin Bolus, tho' in trade,
(Which oftentimes will Genius fetter)
Read works of fancy, it is said;
And cultivated the Belles Lettres.

And why should this be thought so odd?
Can't men have taste who cure a phthysic;
Of Poetry tho' Patron-God,
Apollo patronises physick.

Bolus love'd verse;--and took so much delight in't,
That his prescriptions he resolve'd to write in't.

No opportunity he e'er let pass
Of writing the directions, on his labels,
In dapper couplets,--like Gay's Fables;
Or, rather, like the lines in Hudibras.

Apothecary's verse!--and where's the treason?
'Tis simply honest dealing:--not a crime;--
When patients swallow physick without reason,
It is but fair to give a little rhyme.

He had a Patient lying at death's door,
Some three miles from the town,--it might be four;
To whom, one evening, Bolus sent an article,
In Pharmacy, that's call'd cathartical.

And, on the label of the stuff,
He wrote this verse;
Which, one would think, was clear enough,
And terse:--

"When taken,
To be well shaken."

Next morning, early, Bolus rose;
And to the Patient's house he goes;--
Upon his pad,
Who a vile trick of stumbling had:
It was, indeed, a very sorry hack;
But that's of course:
For what's expected from a horse
With an Apothecary on his back?

Bolus arrive'd; and gave a doubtful tap;--
Between a single and a double rap.--

Knocks of this kind
Are given by Gentlemen who teach to dance:
By Fiddlers, and by Opera-singers:
One loud, and then a little one behind;
As if the knocker fell, by chance,
Out of their fingers.

The Servant lets him in, with dismal face,
Long as a courtier's out of place--
Portending some disaster;
John's countenance as rueful look'd, and grim,
As if th' Apothecary had physick'd him,--
And not his master.

"Well, how's the Patient?" Bolus said:--
John shook his head.
"Indeed!--hum! ha!--that's very odd!
He took the draught?"--John gave a nod.
"Well,--how?--what then?--speak out, you dunce!"
"Why then"--says John--"we shook him once."
"Shook him!--how?"--Bolus stammer'd out:
"We jolted him about."
"Zounds! Shake a Patient, man!--a shake won't do."
"No, Sir,--and so we gave him two."
"Two shakes! od's curse!
'Twould make the Patient worse."
"It did so, Sir!--and so a third we tried."
"Well, and what then?"--"then, Sir, my master died."

Ere WILL had done 'twas waxing wond'rous late;
And reeling Bucks the streets began to scour;
While guardian Watchmen, with a tottering gait,
Cried every thing, quite clear, except the hour.

"Another pot," says TOM, "and then,
A Song;--and so good night, good Gentlemen!

"I've Lyricks, such as Bons Vivants indite,
In which your bibbers of Champagne delight,--
The Poetaster, bawling them in clubs,
Obtains a miserably noted name;
And every noisy Bacchanalian dubs
The Singing-Writer with a bastard Fame."

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