Sir Samuel Garth - Encyclopedia




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SIR SAMUEL GARTH (1661-1719), English physician and poet, was born of a good Yorkshire family in 1661. He entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 1676, graduating B.A. in 1679 and M.A. in 1684. He took his M.D. and became a member of the College of Physicians in 1691. In 1697 he delivered the Harveian oration, in which he advocated a scheme dating from some ten years back for providing dispensaries for the relief of the sick poor, as a protection against the greed of the apothecaries. In 1699 he published a mock-heroic poem, The Dispensary, in six cantos, which had an instant success, passing through three editions within a year. In this he ridiculed the apothecaries and their allies among the physicians. The poem has little interest at the present day, except as a proof that the heroic couplet was written with smoothness and polish before the days of Pope. Garth was a member of the Kit-Kat Club, and became the leading physician of the Whigs, as Radcliffe was of the Tories. In 1714 he was knighted by George I. and he died on the 18th of January 1719. He wrote little besides his best-known work The Dispensary and Claremont, a moral espistle in verse. He made a Latin oration (1700) in praise of Dryden and translated the Life of Otho in the fifth volume of Dryden's Plutarch. In 1717 he edited a translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, himself supplying the fourteenth and part of the fifteenth book.

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