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tion, and those occasional dissertations, which he has wrought into the body of his history. The life I am putting out is that of Margery, alias John Young, commonly known by the name of Dr. Young, who (as the town very well knows) was a woman that practised physic in man's clothes, and after having had two wives and several children, died about a month since.
I here make bold to trouble you with a short account of the famous Dr. Young's life, which you may call (if you please) a second part of the farce of the Sham Doctor. This perhaps will not seem so strange to you, who (if I am not mistaken) have somewhere mentioned with honour your sister Kirleus as a practitioner both in physic and astrology: but in the common opinion of mankind, a she-quack is altogether as strange and astonishing a creature as a Centaur that practised physic in the days of Achilles, or as King Phys in the Rehearsal. Esculapius, the great founder of your art, was particularly famous for his beard, as we may conclude from the behaviour of a tyrant, who is branded by heathen historians as guilty both of sacrilege and blasphemy, having robbed the statue of Esculapius of a thick bushy golden beard, and then alleged for his excuse, 'That it was a shame the son should have a beard when his father Apollo had none.' This latter instance, indeed, seems something to favour a female professor, since (as I have been told) the ancient statues of Apollo are generally made with the head and face of a woman: nay, I have been credibly informed by those who have seen them both, that the famous Apollo in the Belvidere did very much resemble Dr. Young. Let that be as it will, the Doctor was a kind of Amazon in physic, that made as great devastations and slaughters as any of our chief heroes in the art, and was as fatal to the English in these our days, as the famous Joan d'Arc was in those of our forefathers.
"I do not find anything remarkable in the life I am about to write, till the year 1695, at which time the doctor, being about twenty-three years old, was brought to bed of a bastard child. The scandal of such a misfortune gave so great uneasiness to pretty Mrs. Peggy, (for that was the name by which the doctor was then called,) that she left her family,
and followed her lover to London, with a fixed resolution, some way or other, to recover her lost reputation: but instead of changing her life, which one would have expected from so good a disposition of mind, she took it in her head to change her sex. This was soon done by the help of a sword and a pair of breeches. I have reason to believe, that her first design was to turn man-midwife, having herself had some experience in those affairs: but thinking this too narrow a foundation for her future fortune, she at length bought her a gold-button coat, and set up for a physician. Thus we see the same fatal miscarriage in her youth made Mrs, Young a doctor, that formerly made one of the same sex a pope.
"The doctor succeeded very well in his business at first, but very often met with accidents that disquieted him. As he wanted that deep magisterial voice which gives authority to a prescription, and is absolutely necessary for the right pronouncing of those words, 'Take these pills,' he unfortunately got the nickname of 'The Squeaking Doctor.' If this circumstance alarmed the doctor, there was another that gave him no small disquiet, and very much diminished his gains. In short, he found himself run down as a superficial, prating quack, in all families that had at the head of them a cautious father, or a jealous husband. These would often complain among one another, that they did not like such a smock-faced physician; though in truth, had they known how justly he deserved that name, they would rather have favoured his practice, than have apprehended anything from it. "Such were the motives that determined Mrs. Young to change her condition, and take in marriage a virtuous young woman, who lived with her in good reputation, and made her the father of a very pretty girl. But this part of her happiness was soon after destroyed by a distemper which was too hard for our physician, and carried off his wife. The doctor had not been a widow long, before he married his second lady, with whom also he lived in very good understanding. It so happened, that the doctor was with child at the same time that his lady was; but the little ones coming both together, they passed for twins. The doctor having entirely established the reputation of his manhood, especially by the birth of the boy of whom he had been lately delivered, and who very much resembles him, grew into good business, and was
particularly famous for the cure of venereal distempers; but would have had much more practice among his own sex, had not some of them been so unreasonable as to demand certain proofs of their cure, which the doctor was not able to give them. The florid, blooming look, which gave the doctor some uneasiness at first, instead of betraying his person, only recommended his physic. Upon this occasion I cannot forbear mentioning what I thought a very agreeable surprise in one of Moliere's plays, where a young woman applies herself to a sick person in the habit of a quack, and speaks to her patient, who was something scandalized at the youth of his physician, to the following purpose:-'I begun to practise in the reign of Francis I., and am now in the hundred and fiftieth year of my age; but, by the virtue of my medicaments, have maintained myself in the same beauty and freshness I had at fifteen.' For this reason, Hippocrates lays it down as a rule, that a student in physic should have a sound constitution, and a healthy look; which indeed seem as necessary qualifications for a physician, as a good life and virtu ous behaviour for a divine. But to return to our subject. About two years ago, the doctor was very much afflicted with the vapours, which grew upon him to such a degree, that about six weeks since they made an end of him. His death discovered the disguise he had acted under, and brought him back again to his former sex. 'Tis said, that at his burial, the pall was held up by six women of some fashion. The doctor left behind him a widow, and two fatherless children, if they may be called so, besides the little boy before mentioned. In relation to whom we may say of the doctor, as the good old ballad about the The Children in the Wood' says of the unnatural uncle, that he was father and mother both in one. These are all the circumstances that I could learn of Dr. Young's life, which might have given occasion to many obscene fictions: but as I know those would never have gained a place in your paper, I have not troubled you with any impertinence of that nature; having stuck to the truth very scrupulously, as I always do when I subscribe myself,
"Sir, Your," &c.
I shall add, as a postscript to this letter, that I am informed, the famous Saltero, who sells coffee in his museum at Chelsea,
has by him a curiosity which helped the doctor to carry on his imposture, and will give great satisfaction to the curious inquirer.
No. 229. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 1710.
Quæsitam meritis sume superbiam. HoR.
From my own Apartment, September 25.
THE whole creation preys upon itself: every living creature is inhabited. A flea has a thousand invisible insects that tease him as he jumps from place to place, and revenge our quarrels upon him. A very ordinary microscope shows us that a louse is itself a very lousy creature. A whale, besides those seas and oceans in the several vessels of his body, which are filled with innumerable shoals of little animals, carries about it a whole world of inhabitants; insomuch that, if we believe the calculations some have made, there are more living creatures, which are too small for the naked eye to behold, about the leviathan, than there are of visible creatures upon the face of the whole earth. Thus every nobler creature is, as it were, the basis and support of multitudes that are his inferiors.
This consideration very much comforts me, when I think on those numberless vermin that feed upon this paper, and find their sustenance out of it; I mean, the small wits and scribblers that every day turn a penny by nibbling at my lucubrations. This has been so advantageous to this little species of writers, that, if they do me justice, I may expect to have my statue erected in Grub Street, as being a common benefactor to that quarter.
They say, when a fox is very much troubled with fleas, he goes into the next pool with a little lock of wool in his mouth, and keeps his body under water till the vermin get into it, after which he quits the wool, and diving, leaves his tormentors to shift for themselves, and get their livelihood where they can. I would have these gentlemen take care that I do not serve them after the same manner; for though I have hitherto kept my temper pretty well, it is not impossible but I may some time or other disappear: and what will then become of them? Should I lay down my paper, what a
famine would there be among the hawkers, printers, booksellers, and authors! It would be like Dr. B-s's dropping his cloak, with the whole congregation hanging upon the skirts of it. To enumerate some of these my doughty antagonists, I was threatened to he answered weekly Tit for Tat: I was undermined by the Whisperer, haunted by Tom Brown's Ghost, scolded at by a Female Tatler, and slandered by another of the same character, under the title of AtalanI have been annotated, retattled, examined, and condoled: but, it being my standing maxim never to speak ill of the dead, I shall let these authors rest in peace, and take great pleasure in thinking that I have sometimes been the means of their getting a belly-full. When I see myself thus surrounded by such formidable enemies, I often think of the Knight of the Red Cross in Spencer's Den of Error, who, after he has cut off the dragon's head, and left it wallowing in a flood of ink, sees a thousand monstrous reptiles making their attempts upon him, one with many heads, another with none, and all of them without eyes.
"The same so sore annoyed has the knight,
That well nigh choked with the deadly stink,
His forces fail, he can no longer fight;
Whose courage when the fiend perceived to shrink,
Her fruitful cursed spawn of serpents small,
When ruddy Phoebus gins to welk in west,
All striving to infix their feeble stings,
That from their noyance he nowhere can rest;
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings."
If ever I should want such a fry of little authors to attend me, I shall think my paper in a very decaying condition. They are like ivy about an oak, which adorns the tree at the same time that it eats into it; or like a great man's equipage, that do honour to the person on whom they feed. For my part, when I see myself thus attacked, I do not consider my antagonists as malicious, but hungry, and therefore am resolved never to take any notice of them.