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perhaps, at this time, be read or known, had they not been written by the author of the Pleasures of Imagination. Not that they are without merit. The Hymn to the Naíads, in particular, is worthy of Akenside's fame. But the pieces, in general, are no better than a thousand other fugitive poems, scattered throughout the periodical publications of the last and present centuries, which, from not having names of celebrity attached to them, never attracted much notice, and are now as utterly unknown as if they had never existed.
Akenside, having thus made an impression in the world of letters, found the achievement to be productive of more fame than profit; and being without patrimony, he also found that the latter was the more necessary of the two, not only for procuring him the comforts of life, but for enabling him to act conscientiously in the fulfilment of its obligations. He therefore turned his views towards establishing himself profitably in his profession. With this object, he settled at Northampton. But his success there was not answerable to his wishes. Dr. Stonehouse, a practitioner of very popular manners, was already there so well established, that it was not easy for a young man whose poetical eclipsed his medical reputation, to supplant him in the estimation of any great portion of the inhabitants, without a longer struggle than the impatient temperament of the poet would permit. Tired of a contest which he deemed hopeless, he removed to Hampstead, where he remained about two years in the enjoyment of only a moderate share of
professional patronage. He then settled finally in London, where his practice would have been quite inadequate to his support, but for the uncommon generosity of Mr. Jeremiah Dyson, a gentleman whose disinterested friendship for our bard, in allowing him a gratuitous annuity of three hundred pounds, deserves to be mentioned as a most singular and honourable instance of benevolence and well applied bounty. It also speaks well for the conduct and manners of Akenside, that he was capable of inspiring a gentleman of known discrimination and fine parts, with such a favourable opinion of his merits.
That Akenside did not abuse the liberality of his friend, is evident from the incessant efforts which he made to draw attention to his professional qualifications. He for some years altogether abandoned poetry, in the probably just belief, that his poetical reputation was the great obstacle to his professional
He did more; he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the London College of Physicians, one of the Physicians to St. Thomas's Hospital; and in addition to his Leyden degree, obtained one by mandamus from the University of Cambridge. He also gave a course of lectures on Anatomy.
In consequence of these efforts, his practice became, if not extensive and lucrative, at least sufficient for genteel competence. In the year 1764, his reputation both as a physician and a scholar, was much increased by the publication of a treatise, written in fine
Latin, on the Epidemic Dysentery of that year. He had before this written various pieces of acknowledged merit, on medical subjects; and now a professional honour was conferred upon him of no inconsiderable advantage. On the settlement of the queen's household, he was appointed one of her majesty's physicians, a promotion which was, no doubt, greatly owing to the active influence of his steady and untiring friend Mr. Dyson, aided certainly by the deserved repute which his own labours had acquired.
It must not be concealed that one cause of the slow advancement of this able and industrious man, in the profession which he had selected as the means of his support, is stated to have been a certain haughtiness and ostentation of manner, which he assumed in his intercourse with his brethren of the faculty, which rendered him unpleasant on consultations, and occasioned him to be generally avoided by eminent practitioners. His admission, however, into so many medical associations, would seem to prove this charge to be unfounded, at least to the extent that is alleged ; and the long continued, unwavering solicitude of Mr. Dyson, for his welfare, as has been already intimated, offers a strong presumption that in manners he could not have been a great offender against the laws of urbanity and decorum. The truth probably is, that conscious of desert and impatient of neglect, he may have sometimes, perhaps frequently, indulged in querulous remarks, or in expressions of discontent at witnessing the superior success of competitors, whom
he knew to be far inferior to himself in either talents or learning. However this may be, just as this eminent poet and worthy man appeared to have overcome all obstacles to his success in life, he was taken off by a putrid fever, in the year 1770, in the forty-ninth year
of his age.
For several years before his death, Akenside was employed in revising and remodelling the Pleasures of Imagination. This reformed work he left unfi-. nished. It was nevertheless printed, and exhibited the poem pruned of much of its verbosity, and rendered less obscure. But unfortunately, it had lost in mellowness and splendour more than it had gained in density and clearness. Its philosophy was better, but its poetry was worse. It was considerably augmented. An entire new book was added, containing an episode, entitled “The Tale of Solon," which Dr. Johnson characterizes as being too long, another mode of charging it with dulness. It was fortunate for the poetical fame of Akenside, that the world was unwilling to receive this version as a substitute for the original work. The printing of it was injudicious; as it furnished evidence that years, aided no doubt by the plodding anxieties of a professional life long doomed to mortifications and disappointments, if they had not quite extinguished, had at least so weakened the poetical fire of the author's temperament, as to bring it altogether under the chilling control of philosophical rules and the laws of mechanical criticism.