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Surprising instances of his professional skill and sagacity are recorded. He cured several persons of high rank, after they had been given over by various other physicians; and, among others, he relieved King William from a very troublesome and dangerous asthma, which had baffled the efforts of Dr. Bidloo, and other men of great eminence.
and antique authorities, may have their influence in their proper places, but should any of them all, though covered with dust 1400 years ago, tell me, that the bottle I am now drinking with some of your acquaintance is a wheel-barrow, and the glass in my hand a salamander, I should ask leave to dissent from them.
You mistake my temper, in being of an opinion that I am otherwise biassed, than the generality of mankind are. I had one of your new convert's poems in my hand just now, you will know them to be Mr. Dryden's, and on what account they are written at first sight. Four of the best lines, and most apropos, run thus:—
"Many by education are misled,
So they believe, because they were so bred;
"You may be given to understand from thence, that having been bred up a protestant at Wakefield, and sent from thence in that persuasion to Oxford; where, during my continuance, I had no relish for absurdities; I intend not to change principles, and turn papist in London.
"The advantages you propose to me, may be very great, for all that I know: God Almighty can do very much, and so can the King; but you will pardon me if I cease to speak like a physician for once, and, with an air of gravity, am very apprehensive, that I may anger the one, in being too complaisant to the other. You cannot call this pinning my faith on any man's sleeve: those who know me, are too well apprized of a quite contrary tendency. As I never flattered a man myself, so it is my firm resolution, never to be wheedled out of my real sentiments, which are that since it has been my good fortune to be educated, according to the usage of the church of England, established by law; I shall never make myself so unhappy as to shame my teachers and instructors, by departing from what I have imbibed from them.
"Yet, though I shall never be brought over to confide in your doctrines, no one breathing, can have a greater esteem for your conversation, by letter or word of mouth, than,
When Queen Mary was seized with the small-pox, which the court physicians were not able to raise, Radcliffe was sent for by the council; and upon his perusing the recipes, he told them plainly that her majesty was a dead woman; and he said, after her death, that this great and good princess died a sacrifice by unskilful hands, who out of one disease, had produced a complication, by improper remedies.
Some few months after this, the doctor, who till then had been a favourite with Princess Anne of Denmark, to whom he was physician in ordinary, lost her good opinion by his uncourtly behaviour and inordinate attachment to the bottle. Her Royal Highness being indisposed, gave orders that Radcliffe should be sent for; in answer to which he said he would come soon; but not appearing, another messenger was sent, saying, that she was very ill; at which the doctor swore by his Maker, that " her distemper was nothing but the vapours, and that she was in as good a state of health as any woman breathing, if she could but believe it." On his appearance at court not long after, he found, to his great mortification, that this freedom had been highly resented; for, on his offering to go into the presence, he was stopped by an officer in the anti-chamber, who told him, "that the princess had no further occasion for the services of a physician who would not obey her orders, and that she had made choice of Dr. Gibbons to succeed him in the care of her health."
Radcliffe, on his return to his companions, affected great unconcern at what had happened, and even went so far as to treat the princess with additional ridicule, as well as her physician, saying, that "Nurse Gibbons had got a new nursery, which he by no means envied him the possession of, since his capacity was only equal to the ailments of a patient, which had no other existence than in the imagination."
Another rival of Radcliffe's was Sir Edward Hannes, who on his arrival in London, set up a very elegant chariot; but finding his endeavours to fall short, he had recourse to a stratagem, and ordered his footman to stop most of the gentlemen's carriages and inquire if they belonged to Dr. Hannes, as if he was wanted to a patient. Accordingly the fellow used to run from Whitehal I to the Exchange, and, entering Garraway's, inquire if Dr. Han
nes was there. At last Radcliffe, who was usually at this coffee house about exchange time, cried out, "Dr. Hannes is not here," and desired to know who wanted him? The fellow answered, "such and such a lord;" but Radcliffe replied, "No, no, friend, you are mistaken, it is the doctor who wants those lords." However, Hannes got great business, and became a principal physician at court; on which occasion an old acquaintance of Radcliffe's in order to see how he would digest the promotion of so young a practitioner, brought him the news of it. "So much the better for him," says the doctor, "for now he has got a patent for killing." Upon this, the other, endeavouring to try, if possible, to ruffle his temper, said, "but what is more surprising, this same doctor has two pair of the finest horses that ever were seen;" to which Radcliffe coolly replied, "then they will sell for the more."
Such, however, was his fame, that he was sure to be applied to in all desperate cases; and the king in particular, when he found himself very much indisposed, had recourse to Radcliffe's advice. The doctor being admitted, found his majesty reading L'Estrange's new version of Esop's Fables. William shutting the book, told him, that he had sent for him once more to try the effects of his great skill, although he had been told by his bodyphysicians that he would speedily recover, and live many years. Upon this Radcliffe having asked some questions, took up the book, and begged leave to read to him the following fable:
"Pray, Sir, how do you find yourself? says the doctor to his "patient. Why, truly, says he, I have had a most violent sweat. "Oh! the best sign in the world, quoth the doctor. And then, in "a little while, he is at it again: Pray how do you find your body? "Alas! says the other, I have just now such a terrible fit of hor"ror and shaking upon me!-Why this is all as it should be, says "the physician; it shows a mighty strength of nature: and then he " comes over him with the same question again. Why I am all "swelled, says the other, as if I had a dropsy. Best of all, quoth 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 1 am even ready to "die, of I know not how many good signs and tokens.”
Having read this fable to the king, the doctor said may it please your Majesty, your's and the sick man's case in the fable is the very same; you are buoyed up with hopes that your malady will soon be driven away, by persons that are not apprised of the means to do it, and know not the true cause of your ailment. But I must be plain with you, and tell you, that in all probability, if your Majesty will adhere to my prescriptions, it may be in my power to lengthen out your life for three or four years, but beyond that time nothing in physic can protract it; for the juices of your stomach are all vitiated; your whole mass of blood is corrupted, and your nutriment, for the most part, turns to water. However, if your Majesty will forbear making long visits to the Earl of Bradford's (where the king was wont to drink very hard) I'll try what can be done to make you live easily, though I cannot venture to say I can make your life longer than I have told you." Accordingly he left a recipe, which was so happy in its effects, as to enable the king not only to make a progress into the western parts of the kingdom, but to go abroad, and amuse himself for some time in Holland.
During the king's absence the Duke of Gloucester was taken ill on his birth day, at Windsor, where he had overheated himself with dancing; but whatever was his real distemper, Dr. Hannes and Dr. Bidloo treated it as the small pox, without success. The whole court was alarmed, and the princess of Denmark, his mother, notwithstanding her resentment of his former conduct, was prevailed upon to send for Radcliffe, who upon the first sight of the royal youth, gave her to understand that there was no possibility of recovering him, since he would die by such an hour the next day, as in reality he did. However, with great difficulty, the doctor was persuaded to be present at the consultation, where he could not refrain from bitter invectives against the two physicians abovementioned, telling the one, that "it would have been happy for the nation had he been bred up a basket-maker, (which was his father's trade); and that the other had continued to make a havoc of nouns and pronouns in the quality of a country schoolmaster, rather than have ventured out of his reach in the practice of an art to which he was an utter stranger, and for which he ought to be whipped with one of his own rods."
At the close of this year, the king, on his return from Holland, found himself very much out of order, and sent for Dr. Radcliffe the last time to Kensington. After the usual questions put by the physician to his royal patient; the king showed his swelled ancles, while the rest of his body was emaciated, said, "Doctor, what do you think of these?"-" Why truly," replied Radcliffe, bluntly, "I would not have your majesty's two legs for your three kingdoms."
This freedom gave so much offence to the king that he would never suffer Radcliffe to come into his presence afterwards, though he continued to follow his prescriptions till a few days before his death, which happened about the time the doctor had predicted.
On Queen Anne's accession to the throne, the Earl of Godolphin used all his endeavours to reinstate the doctor in his former station of her principal physician, but she would by no means consent to his coming to court again, though she was then laid up by the gout, alleging as a reason for her refusal," that Radcliffe would send her word again, that her disorder was nothing but the vapours." However, in all cases of emergency he was consulted, and it was owing to his prescriptions that the gout was prevented from taking its residence in her majesty's head and stomach.
In 1703, the Marquis of Blandford, only son of the Duke of Marlborough, being taking ill of the small pox, at Cambridge, the doctor was applied to by the dutchess to attend him. But having the Marchioness of Worcester then under his care, he could only oblige her grace by a prescription, which not being followed by the Cambridge doctors, the small pox struck in; on which the dutchess again applied to Radcliffe, who, having heard the particulars of the symptoms and treatment as detailed in a letter from the tutor, said, "Madam, I should only put you to a great expense to no purpose, for you have nothing to do for his lordship now, but to send down an undertaker to take charge of the funeral; for I can assure your grace, that he is by this time dead of a distemper called the doctor, and would have recovered from the small pox, had not that unfortunate malady intervened."