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GARTH, Sir Samuel (1661–1719)

The dispensary . A poem. In six canto's ... The sixth edition, with several descriptions and episodes never before printed

London: printed: and sold by John Nutt, 1706
8vo: A8 a8 B–H8 I4, 76 leaves, pp. [32] 120, engraved frontispiece on A1 verso by Vandergucht.
Condition: 186 x 120mm. Fore-edges of a couple of leaves of prelims dustsoiled (before binding).
Binding: Contemporary sprinkled calf, contrasting panel on sides with blind tooled filets and corner ornaments, unlettered spine, sprinkled edges. Corners worn, front free endleaf removed.
Provenance: Lulworth Castle, Dorset, seat of the prominent Catholic Weld family, with inscription of Margaret Weld on the titlepage dated 1712 and engraved bookplate of Thomas Weld (1750–1810). It was Thomas Weld who gave Stonyhurst to French Jesuits fleeing the Revolution, where they founded the school of the same name.
Sixth edition ‘with several descriptions and episodes never before printed’ and 24 pages longer than the previous edition (first three editions 1699, fourth 1700, fifth 1703; the work reached an 11th edition in 1768).
Bibliography: Wellcome III, p. 91; Foxon G22; ESTC t34565.

The frontispiece (often lacking) shows the Cutlerian Theatre of the College of Physicians, designed by Robert Hooke, described in one of the verses in the poem:
There stands a Dome, Majestick to the Sight,
And sumtuous Arches bear its oval Height;
A golden Globe plac'd high with artful Skill,
Seems, to the distant Sight, a gilded Pill.
Garth's famous poem satirises his colleagues in the Royal College of Physicians and the apothecaries who opposed the Physicians’ giving free consultations and medicines to the neighbouring sick poor. Munk explains: ‘Garth, who from his admission into the College had warmly approved of the new charity, detesting the action of the apothecaries and of some of his own brethren in this affair, resolved to expose them in his admirable satire “The Dispensary,” a poem full of spirit and vivacity, and on which his reputation in the present day chiefly rests. The sketches of some of his contemporary physicians are severe and biting – they are interesting to us ... as giving us an insight we could not otherwise obtain into their history and manners.’ (Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London I, p. 500.)
Keywords:     pharmacology