1798 11

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On a Learned Acquaintance
Turning Soldier
"Dr. Trotter, Physician to the Fleet"
[Thomas Trotter, MD][1]
The European Magazine, XXXIV (December 1798), pp. 404-405.

In Imitation of Horace's Ode to Iccius, L. I. Od. 29.

    My learned friend I now behold,
Equipp'd for sharing Spanish gold;
With tow'ring crest and martial air,
Long Whiskers—what a face of hair!
His charger, honest Yorkshire's breed,
And well he fits the prancing steed:
Then bow, ye proud Directors, bow,
Whom Austria's bands could never cow;
And when he frowns, or moves his clutch,
Go seek your swamps, ye trembling Dutch.

    But when thy arm has wrought the fall
Of some remorseless bloody Gaul,
What gayest of Parisian dames,
For pointed darts and am'rous flames,
Shall turn to you her wishful eyes,
A victor thou, and she thy prize?
If Tallien, what an host of charms!
Long ankle, shoulders bare, and naked arms!

    You want a valet? chuse at pleasure,
Around your throng the Etat-Major;
All grinning for old English fare,
'Yclept th' army d'Angleterre.
Or to the Tribune cast thine eyes,
And see the speaker gape and rise,
With all a Marat's logic grace,
A tyger's heart, a monkey's face.[2]
His speech the bulletins record,
"Honourable mention," every word.
Tho' here the orator presumes,
A tonsor he, and vends perfumes;
How pert, how frisk he enters in!
How glib he sweeps the yielding chin!
Murmurs!—'twas but the bristling hair;
Applauses!—your mustaches stare.

    What wonders then shall give surprize?
What new-born monsters meet our eyes?
Shall the fam'd Nile, more famous now,
From wreathes that circle Nelson's brow,
To Abyssinia backwards course,
And bear fresh glories to his source?
Shall Thames than Gravesend flow no higher,
And leave all London town in mire?
Since you those classic vales desert,
Nor leave them with an aching heart:
Quit bowers and academic groves,
And walks where science fondly roves,
Dear seats that woo the Muse to play,
Where Flora might with Darwin stray;
For gorget, sash, and pomp of war,
And cap that marks the stern hussar;
For tented fields, where cannons rattle,
And trumpets mock the groans of battle.

    We watch'd your morn serenely fair,
And flowers and blossoms op'ning there;
And fondest wishes, hopes so gay,
Ne'er dream'd of this unwelcome day.


1. Thomas Trotter, M.D. (1760-1832) was appointed Physician to the Fleet in 1798; as such, he was instrumental in the implementation of great medical reforms in the navy.

2. [Author's note]: "Alluding to Voltaire's definition of the French character."

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