Anne Kingsmill Finch
For The Better - Poem by Anne Kingsmill Finch
A Quack, to no true Skill in Physick bred,
With frequent Visits cursed his Patient's Bed;
Enquiring, how he did his Broths digest,
How chim'd his Pulse, and how he took his Rest:
If shudd'ring Cold by Burnings was pursu'd,
And at what time the Aguish Fit renew'd.
The waining Wretch, each day become more faint,
In like proportion doubles his Complaint;
Now swooning Sweats he begs him to allay,
Now give his Lungs more liberty to play,
And take from empty'd Veins these scorching Heats away:
Or if he saw the Danger did increase,
To warn him fair, and let him part in Peace.
My Life for yours, no Hazard in your Case
The Quack replies; your Voice, your Pulse, your Face,
Good Signs afford, and what you seem to feel
Proceeds from Vapours, which we'll help with Steel.
With kindled Rage, more than Distemper, burns
The suff'ring Man, who thus in haste returns:
No more of Vapours, your belov'd Disease,
Your Ignorance's Skreen, your What-you-please,
With which you cheat poor Females of their Lives,
Whilst Men dispute not, so it rid their Wives.
For me, I'll speak free as I've paid my Fees;
My Flesh consumes, I perish by degrees:
And as thro' weary Nights I count my Pains,
No Rest is left me, and no Strength remains.
All for the Better, Sir, the Quack rejoins:
Exceeding promising are all these Signs.
Falling-away, your Nurses can confirm,
Was ne'er in Sickness thought a Mark of Harm.
The want of Strength is for the Better still;
Since Men of Vigour Fevers soonest kill.
Ev'n with this Gust of Passion I am pleas'd;
For they're most Patient who the most are seiz'd.
But let me see! here's that which all repels:
Then shakes, as he some formal Story tells,
The Treacle-water, mixt with powder'd Shells.
My Stomach's gone (what d'you infer from thence?)
Nor will with the least Sustenance dispense.
The Better; for, where appetite endures,
Meats intermingle, and no Med'cine cures.
The Stomach, you must know, Sir, is a Part–
But, sure, I feel Death's Pangs about my Heart.
Nay then Farewel! I need no more attend
The Quack replies. A sad approaching Friend
Questions the Sick, why he retires so fast;
Who says, because of Fees I've paid the Last,
And, whilst all Symptoms tow'rd my Cure agree,
Am, for the Better, Dying as you see.
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