Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MARSHAL SAXE AND HIS PHYSICIAN, by HORACE SMITH



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MARSHAL SAXE AND HIS PHYSICIAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fever's a most audacious varlet
Last Line: "pull up the glasses!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Fear; Fever; Physicians; War; Doctors


FEVER'S a most audacious varlet; --
Now in a general's face he shakes
His all-defying fist, and makes
His visage like his jacket -- scarlet;
Now o'er surrounding guards he throws
A summerset, and never squeaks
"An' please your Majesty," but tweaks
The Lord's anointed by the nose.

With his inflammatory finger,
(Much like the heater of an urn)
He makes the pulses boil and burn,
Puts fur upon the tongue, (not ermine,)
And leaves his prey to die or linger,
Just as the doctors may determine.

Though this disorder sometimes seems
Mild and benignant,
It interferes so with our schemes,
Imparting to our heads a dizziness,
Just when we want them clear for business,
That it may well be termed malignant.

Of these inopportune attacks,
One fiercely fell on Marshal Saxe,
Just as his troops had opened trenches
Before a fortress; (what a pity!)
Not only did it make his heart ache
To be condemned to pill, cathartic,
Bolus, and blister, drugs and drenches,
But shocked his military notions,
To make him take unwished-for potions,
Instead of taking, as he wished -- the city.

SENAC, however, his physician,
Soon gave our invalid permission
To be coached out an easy distance,
First stipulating one condition --
That whatsoe'er the when and where,
The Doctor should be then and there,
Lest any syncope, relapse,
Or other unforeseen mishaps,
Should call for medical assistance.

SAXE gives consent with all his heart,
Orders the carriage in a minute,
Whispers the coachman -- mounts within it,
SENAC the same, and off they start,
Joking, smiling, time beguiling,
In a facetious tete-a-tete. --
The subject of their mutual chatter is
Nothing to us; -- enough to state
That Marshal Saxe at length got out
To reconnoitre a redoubt,
Projecting from a range of batteries.

Left in the carriage, our physician,
By no means relished his position,
When he discovered they had got
Nearly within half cannon shot;
Wherefore he bawled, with fear half melted,
"For God's sake move me from this spot! --
Doubtless they've noticed our approach,
And, when they recognize your coach,
Shan't I be fired at, peppered, pelted,
(When I can neither fly nor hide)
From some of yonder bristling masses?"
"It's not unlikely," SAXE replied;
"And war I know is not your trade,
So if you feel the least afraid,
Pull up the glasses!"





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