Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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A Malady there is, that runs through all
The Northern World, which they the Scurvy call.
Thrice happy Greece, that scorns the barbarous Word, 27
Nor in its Tongue a neater does afford.
Destructive Monster! God ne'er laid a Curse,
On Man like this, nor could he send a worse.
A thousand horrid shapes the Monster wears, 28       320
And in as many hands fierce arms it bears.
This Water-Serpent, in the Belly's bred,
By muddy Fens, and sulph'rous Moistures fed.
Him either Sloth or too much Labour breeds,
He both from Ease and Pain it self proceeds.
Oft from a dying Fever he receives
His Birth, and in the Ashes of it lives.
Of him just born you easily may dispose,
Then he's a Dwarf, but soon a Giant grows.
That a small Egg should breed a Crocodile,
Of such vast bulk and strength, the wondering Nile
Thinks he as much amazed ought to stand,
As men, when he o'erflows the drowned Land.       [Latin: 320]
With nasty Humors and dry Salts he's fed,
By stinking Wind and Vapours nourished.
Even in his Cradle he unlucky grows
(Though he be Son of sloth, no sloth this shows)
His Toils no sooner Hercules began;
Monsters now ape that Monster-murdering Man.
E're he's well born the Limbs he does oppress,       340
And they are tired with very Idleness.
They languish and deliberating stand,
Loth to obey the active Souls command.
Nor does it to your wildred Sense appear,
Where their pain is, 'cause it is every where.
When Men for want of breath can hardly blow,
Nor Purple Streams in azure Channels flow,
Then the bold Enemy shews he's too nigh,
One so mischievous cannot hidden lie.
The Teeth drop out, and noisome grows the Breath,
The man not only smells, but looks like Death.
Qualms, Vomiting, and torturing Gripes within
Besides unseemly spots upon the skin
His other symptoms are; with clouds the mind
He overcasts, and, fettering the Sense,
To Life it self makes Living an Offence.       [Latin: 340]

This Monster Nature gave me to subdue, 29
(Such feats with herbs t'accomplish is not new)
So the fierce Bull and watchful Dragon too
On Colchis shore the valiant Jason slew. [image]      360
But whether those defeated Monsters fell
By virtue of my Juice I cannot tell.
But them he conquer'd and then back he row'd
O'r the proud waves; nor was it only Gold
He got; he brought away a Royal Maid
Beside (may all Physicians so be paid.)
The hardness of my task my courage fir'd,
A powerful Foe was that I most desir'd.
I love to be commended, I must own,
And that my Name in Physick books be shown.
I envy them, whom Galen deigns to name,
Or old Hippocrates, great Sons of Fame.
Achilles Alexander envy'd; why,
If he complain'd so justly, may not I?
When Græcian Names did other Plants adorn
And were by them as marks of honour born,
I grew inglorious on the British coast, 30
(For Britain then no reason had to boast)
Hapless I on the Gothick shore did lie,
Nor was the Sea-weed less esteem'd than I.       380       [Latin: 360]
Now sure 'tis time, those losses were regain'd,
Which in my youth and fame so long I have sustain'd;
'Tis time, and so they are; Now I am known,
Through all the Universe my fame has flown:
Who my deserts denies, when by my hands
That Tyrant falls, that plagues the Northern Lands?
Sing Io Pæan; yea thrice Io sing,
And let the Gothick shores with Triumphs ring;
That wild Disease, which such disturbance gave,
Is led before my Chariot like a Slave.


[27] There is no proper Greek word for the Scurvy.


[28] Description of the Scurvy.


[29] Scurvy-Grass is reckoned among the Medicines peculiar to this Disease. It opens, penetrates, renders volatile the crude and gross humous, purges by urine and sweat, and strengthens the entrails.


[30] Not but that 'tis by some thought to be the Britannica of Pliny.