For the Better [in 1713 text added: "imitated from Sir Roger L'Estrange," " Never trifle with a Disease" [changed to begin at 11th line, and the original twelfth itself changed to "A Quack, to no true skill in Physick bred"]. MS Folger, pp 286-8* (first 10 lines omitted in 1713 Miscellany, pp. 137-139, from which Reynolds takes her text. See Annotated Chronology No. 151. See also an Annotated List matching each of Finch's fables with its sources; and an Annotated Bibliography: Primary and Secondary Sources for all Finch's translations (paraphrases), imitations and adaptations.

As these first ten lines have never before been printed and are important when comparing the source text with Finch's adaptation of two texts, here they are:

Never trifle with a Disease
Regarding lesse the patient then the fees
With uselesse Druggs of ling'ring Ill attack
And keep till 'twas too late the known specifick back
Att verge of Death promise a longer space
And bar the Souls Phisitian Time and place
Then lett not Him or others (next him) fam'd
Believe my Verse att the Profession aim'd
But whilest they reap th'applause they have deserv'd
Smile at th'exposing Quacks who shou'd be lash'd or starv'd.

A Doctor, to no Greek or Latin bred . . .

From "A Doctor and his Patient," from Sir Roger L'Estrange, Fables of Aesop, and Other Eminent Mythologists with Morals and Reflections, London, 1692, Part 1, No. 95, pp. 89-90; and "Of the sick man and the doctor," Thomas Houghton and Thomas Singleton, Aesop Improved, or, Above three hundred and fity FABLES MOSTLY AESOPS, With their MORALS, Paraphrased in English VERSE. London, 1673, Book 2, No. 9, p. 145

  1. From L'Estrange:

    Pray Sir How d'ye Find your self? says the Dr. to this Patient. Why truly, says the Patient; I have had a violent Sweat. Oh the Best Sign in the World quoth the Dr. And then a little while after he is at it again, with a Pray How d'ye find your Body? Alas, says the T'other, I have just now such a Terrible Fit of Horror and Shaking upon me! Why this is all as it should be, says the Physician, It shews a Mighty Strength of Nature. And then he comes over him a Third time with the same Question again; Why I am all swell'd, says T'other, as if I had a Dropsy; Best of All quoted the doctor, and goes his Way. Soon after This comes one of the Sick Man's Friends to him with the same Question, how he felt himself; why truly so Well, says he, that I am e'en read to Dye of I know not how many Good Signs and Tokens.


    A Death-bed Flattery is the Worst of Treacheries.


    THis gives us to Understand the Practice of the World, and that Flattery and Time-serving Enters into the most Solemn Offices of Mankind. To Flatter Foolish Men into a Hope of Life where there is None at all, is much the same Things with Betraying People into an Opinion, that they are in a Virtuous and a Happy State, when they are Over-run with Passion, and Drown'd in their Lusts. The One has the same Pernicious Effect upon our Minds, that the Other has upon our Bodies . . . There is hardly such Another Pest in a Community, as a Consort of Parasites ["Flattering Physicians"], that feed Governours with False Representations and Reports of Men and of Things. They First Betray their Masters to Dishonour and Ruine; and then when they find the Vessel Sinking, Save themselves in the Long Boat. So much the Better, quoth the Doctor; Ay, Ay, (says the Empirical Statesman) That's as we'd have it. When at the same time the Distemper is as Mortal to the Government, on the One hand, as to the Patient on the Other.

  2. From Houghton and Singleton, the witty refrain as a pattern and some of the versification, details, word "Quack," the original first and punch lines:

    A Man of Galen's trade, to one was sick
    Did come, he felt his pulse, found it too quick:
    He ask'd him how he did? in a great sweat
    Said he, O that is good, if you do get
    No cold upon it, said his loving Quack,
    Or drink cold beer, rather a cup of Sack.
    Next time he came, he found him cold and chill,

    That's very good said he, I like you still;
    Better, and better, came for a third fee
    Then he a looseness had, that's good said he:
    That as one said, Apochironotonize
    May the morbisick cause if you be wise;
    One ask'd the man himself, who lov'd no lying,
    Said he, Quack faith I'm well, but I am dying.


    All flatteres sneak, but th'worst of flattery
    Is to delude folks when about to die,

A Poem censored or abridged in the 1713 Miscellany. In the 1713 text she omitted opening 10 lines and softened the eleventh. Upon comparing we see how the opening was intended to have a serious or religious turn to the vignette; it also may have reference to some specific case where someone died or nearly died because, to gain more fees as the patient lay dying, an ignorant unscrupulous doctor had neglected to give some medicine which would have or finally did help. The poet was not intended to be a light impersonal fable, but a strong condemnation of mountebank physicians.

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