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Yet there were very different men. The Physician believed nothing but the most incredible things of the Celtic Gods ; the other as appears by a late sermon preached before the College of Physicians avowedly believes in .... and all his works. The Physician had a particular affection for an aged owl, probably because it was a symbol of one of his goddesses, whom he adored by this representative; though he often prayed to her, his prayers, like his practice, vanished into air. This owl was a present from a noble Dutchess (Ancaster,) whether as a curiosity or a reproof; by way of civility or satire, is a point not determined to this day. However, the master made the bird the companion of his studies and the confidant of his soliloquies. He perpetually gazed at the eyes of his bird, as if it had been his looking glass, and indeed that was the only one he ever used. This rara avis was his bona avis, always stood fixed upon a perch on his right hand; but the master was unfortunately cursed, as Virgil says, with a left handed mind. An oil extracted from the fæces of the auspicious bird, was given to his apothecary at Stamford, as a nostrum for the gout. The Doctor, from the sacred gravity or lulling composure in the countenance of his friend, commenced instantly an errant Antiquary; but it cannot be asserted whether from inspiration, intuition, or ab oro.
“I must ingenuously confess,” that the above “Recipe was not entirely my own. I think nevertheless that I have some share in the property, as I have taken immense pains to decypher an hieroglyphical hand, and used the utmost caution and precision to whittle the medicine into the present fashionable taste. I met with the original in a manuscript of brother Symons, a monk of the Abbey of St. James in Northampton. He had collected a great many receipts from Hippocras, Gallienus, and Kelsus, authors I imagine now lost; but this probably was taken out of some Arabian Physician. In the original there were several nuts, as chesnuts, cypress, walnuts, &c.: these I threw away, as all kernels may be suspected to be poison, and no antidote is left in the present Dispensary to expell it. To make the medicine efficacious, I ejected all simples heterogeneous to my own private opinion; to render it palatable, I banished a few efficacious ingredients; to make the remaining efficacious ones creep securely into the offices of digestion, chylification, and sanguification, I doubled the quantities of some, as the probable—seem to be—may be ; which have very little taste, yet serve as sheaths to carry the others down, and dark-lanterns to light them through all the alleys to their places of destination. I pre. served the spices in the species in a moderate quantity, enough I hope for the hysterical ladies, the whetters, the slipslops and the freethinkers—I put in but a small quantity, lest they should fly to the head, to which I would have nothing aimed but the two bottles of barley wine. I think I have now adapted it to the applauded simplicity of the very last Dispensary. Simplicity, sir, is the beauty of architecture;—the delicacy of gardening ;—the expression of music; the soul of painting; the true basis of morality; in philosophy it is experiment; in geometry, demonstration :-in medicine, longevity :-in composition, sublimity ;- but in metaphysics, a chimæra.”
James Davies, M.D., practised as a physician in this town during the middle of the last century. The late William Hughes, Esq., used to speak of him as the friend of his father, Solomon Hughes. His work on the antiquities of Devizes was written in 1750 and 1751, in the form of fami. liar letters, and republished in 1783 in Charles Dilly's ‘Repository of Wit and Humour.' From a note in the latter issue, it appears that he travelled on one occasion as far as Greece; and at the eminent peril of his life, stole from a library at Mount Athos, a Greek MS. of Soranus on medicine. Among the additional MSS. in the British Museum, are a few other letters of Davies antecedent to the above, addressed to Professor Ward, of Oxford, with a view to aid him in a projected supplement to Horseley's 'Britannia. He intended to publish other letters after writing the Origines, but failed in obtaining the requisite number of subscriptions. He also, says his publisher, “left a large book about Stonehenge, not quite finished. He seems only certain that is was written by some of the sons of Adam, but whether by Danes, Saxons, Romans, Britons, or Antediluvians he left undetermined, till he had perused Geoffrey of Monmouth.” An anecdote illustrating the reputation he bore as an antiquary, is given in the 'Hist. of Marlborough, p. 405.
MHE reign of the first Henry is described by William of
- Malmesbury as a period of great outward prosperity to England. Many a Saxon thane, no doubt, still winced under the galling yoke of his Norman master, but even the national prejudices were in great measure allayed by the two-fold fact, that the King himself was English-born, and his Queen a descendant from Edmund Ironside. Foreigners resorted hither for security of traffic, towns and abbeys arose, and the royal treasury could boast of, what the historian terms “a boundless store,” £100,000 in coin, besides cups of gold
and silver incalculable. It is to this period that the Bowers of Malmesbury are to be ascribed, together with many other such like specimens of the solemn Lombardic style, vulgarly called Saxon. Then was the Cathedral of [Old] Sarum rebuilt from the ground, and then were the two oldest churches of Devizes founded, or fashioned anew. The author of much of this architectural renovation, was the renowned Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the second man in the kingdom, and Henry's most trusted councillor. The Monk of Malmesbury commences not his account of Roger till after his arrival in England, but we learn from other sources, that he was originally but an inferior priest attached to the church of Caen, in Normandy. Prince Henry, while serving under his brother William Rufus, one day entered that church with a group of his military associates, and requested the officiating priest to sing a Mass for them. Roger immediately began, and executed his office in such brief time, that the soldiers unanimously declared him the fittest person they had ever met with for a chaplain to men of their profession. From that moment he followed the fortunes of the youthful Prince, who on coming to the throne made him his chancellor and treasurer, then a Bishop, and finally his vice-gerent, whenever he himself should be absent in Normandy. Never, in short, was a favourite more loaded with benefactions, and seldom has a minister more fully justified the confidence reposed in him. Such at least might be said of him so long as his patron lived. To quote the words of Malmesbury, “Not only the King, but the nobility, even those who were secretly stung with envy at his good fortune, and more especially the servants and debtors to the crown, gave him almost whatever he might fancy. Was there anything contiguous to his property which might be advantageous to him, he speedily became possessed of it either by entreaty or purchase, or these failing, by force. With unrivalled magnificence in their construction, as our times may recollect, he erected