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clining, he returned alone to England, and died in April 1765.
He was twice married, and by his firft wife had feveral children. One daughter, who married an Italian of rank named Cilefia, wrote a tragedy called Almida, which was acted at Drury-Lane. His fecond wife was the daughter of a nobleman's fteward, who had a confiderable fortune, which fhe took care to retain in her own hands.
His ftature was diminutive, but he was regularly formed; his appearance, till he grew corpulent, was agreeable, and he fuffered it to want no recommendation that drefs could give it. His converfation was elegant and easy. The reft of his character may, without injury to his memory, fink into filence.
As a writer, he cannot be placed in any high class. There is no fpecies of compofition in which he was eminent. His Dramas had their day, a fhort day, and are forgotten: his blank verfe feems to my ear the echo of Thomfon. His Life of Bacon is known as it is appended to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned. His works are fuch as a writer, bustling in the world, fhewing himself in publick, and emerging occafionally from time to time into notice, might keep alive by his perfonal influence; but which, conveying little information, and giving no great pleafure, muft foon give way, as the fucceffion of things produces new topicks of converfation, and other modes of amusement.
AKEN SID E.
ARK AKENSIDE was born on the ninth of November, 1721, at Newcastle upon Tyne. His father Mark was a butcher, of the Prefbyterian fect; his mother's name was Mary Lumfden. He received the first part of his education at the grammar-school of Newcastle; and was afterwards inftructed by Mr. Wilfon, who kept a private academy.
At the age of eighteen he was fent to Edinburgh, that he might qualify himfelf for the office of a diffenting minifter, and received fome affiftance from the fund which the Diffenters employ in educating young men of feanty fortune. But a wider view of the world opened other fcenes, and prompted other hopes: he determined to ftudy phyfic, and repaid that contribution, which, being received for a different purpofe, he justly thought it difhonourable to retain.
Whether, when he refolved not to be a diffenting minifter, he ceafed to be a Diffenter, I know not. He certainly retained an unneceflary and outrageous zeal
for what he called and thought liberty; a zeal which fometimes difguifes from the world, and not rarely from the mind which it poffeffes, an envious defire of plundering wealth or degrading greatnefs; and of which the immediate tendency is innovation and anarchy, an impetuous eagerness to fubvert and confound, with very little care what fhall be established.
Akenfide was one of thofe poets who have felt very early the motions of genius, and one of those students who have very early stored their memories with fentiments and images. Many of his performances were produced in his youth; and his greateft work, The Pleafures of Imagination, appeared in 1744. I have heard Dodfley, by whom it was published, relate, that when the copy was offered him, the price demanded for it, which was an hundred and twenty pounds, being fuch as he was not inclined to give precipitately, he carried the work to Pope, who, having looked into it, advised him not to make a niggardly offer; for this was no every-day writer.
In 1741 he went to Leyden, in purfuit of medical knowledge; and three years afterwards (May 16, 1744) became doctor of phyfick, having, according to the custom of the Dutch Universities, published a thefis, or differtation. The fubject which he chofe was the Original and Growth of the Human Fætus; in which he is faid to have departed, with great judgement, from the opinion then eftablifhed, and to have delivered that which has been fince confirmed and received.
Akenfide was a young man, warm with every notion that by nature or accident had been connected with the found of liberty, and, by an excentricity which. fuch difpofitions do not eafily avoid, a lover of contra.
diction, and no friend to any thing established. He adopted Shaftesbury's foolish affertion of the efficacy of ridicule for the discovery of truth. For this he was attacked by Warburton, and defended by Dyfon: Warburton afterwards reprinted his remarks at the end of his dedication to the Freethinkers.
The refult of all the arguments which have been produced in a long and eager difcuffion of this idle queftion, may easily be collected. If ridicule be applied to any pofition as the teft of truth, it will then become a question whether fuch ridicule be juft; and this can only be decided by the application of truth, as the test of ridicule. Two men, fearing, one a real and the other a fancied danger, will be for a while equally exposed to the inevitable confequences of cowardice, contemptuous cenfure, and ludicrous reprefentation; and the true ftate of both cafes must be known, before it can be decided whofe terror is rational, and whofe is ridiculous; who is to be pitied, and who to be defpifed. Both are for a while equally expofed to laughter, but both are not therefore equally contemptible.
In the revifal of his poem, which he died before he had finished, he omitted the lines which had given occafion to Warburton's objections.
He publifhed, foon after his return from Leyden (1745), his first collection of odes; and was impelled by his rage of patriotifm to write a very acrimonious epiftle to Pulteney, whom he ftigmatizes, under the name of Curio, as the betrayer of his country.
Being now to live by his profeffion, he first coinmenced physician at Northampton, where Dr. Stonehoufe then practifed, with fuch reputation and fuccefs, that a firanger was not likely to gain ground upon
him. Akenfide tried the contest a while; and, having deafened the place with clamours for liberty, removed to Hampstead, where he refided more than two years, and then fixed himself in London, the proper place for a man of accomplishments like his.
At London he was known as a poet, but was ftill to make his way as a physician; and would perhaps have been reduced to great exigences, but that Mr. Dyson, with an ardour of friendship that has not many examples, allowed him three hundred pounds a year. Thus supported, he advanced gradually in medical reputation, but never attained any great extent of practice, or eminence of popularity. A physician in a great city seems to be the mere play-thing of Fortune; his degree of reputation is, for the most part; totally casual: they that employ him, know not his excellence; they that reject him, know not his deficience. By an acute obferver, who had looked on the tranfactions of the medical world for Kälf a century, a very curious book might be written on the Fortune of Phyficians:
Akenfide appears not to have been wanting to his own fuccefs: he placed himself in view by all the common methods; he became a Fellow of the Royal Society; he obtained a degree at Cambridge, and was admitted into the College of Physicians; he wrote little poetry, but published, from time to time, medical effays and obfervations; he became phyfician to St. Thomas's Hofpital; he read the Gulftonian Lectures in Anatomy; but began to give, for the Crotinian Lecture, a history of the revival of Learning, from which he foon defifted; and, in converfation, he very eagerly forced himself into notice by an ambitious oftentation of elegance and literature.