An Island in the Moon/Chapter VI
They all went home & left the Philosophers. Then Suction Ask’d if Pindar was not a better Poet, than Ghiotto was a Painter.
“Plutarch has not the life of Ghiotto,” said Sipsop.
“No,” said Quid, “to be sure, he was an Italian.”
“Well,” said Suction, “that is not any proof.”
“Plutarch was a nasty ignorant puppy,” said Quid. “I hate your sneaking rascals. there’s Aradobo in [twen[ty]] ten or twelve years will be a far superior genius.”
“Ah!” said the Pythagorean, “Aradobo will make a very clever fellow.”
“Why,” said Quid, “I think that [a] any natural fool would make a clever fellow if he was properly brought up.”
“Ah, hang your reasoning!” said the Epicurean. I hate reasoning. I do every thing by my feelings.”
”Ah!” said Sipsop, “I only wish Jack [Hunter] Tearguts had had the cutting of Plutarch. He understands anatomy better than any of the Ancients. He’ll plunge his knife up to the hilt in a single drive, and thrust his fist in, and all in the space of a quarter of an hour. He does not mind their crying, tho’ they cry ever so. He’ll swear at them & keep them down with his fist, & tell them that he’ll scrape their bones if they don’t lay still & be quiet. What the devil should the people in the hospital that have it done for nothing, make such a piece of work for?”
”Hang that,” said Suction; “let us have a Song.”
”Then [Sipsop sang] the Cynic sang––
”When old corruption first begun,
Adorn’d in yellow vest,
He committed on flesh a whoredom–
O, what wicked beast!
From them a callow babe did spring,
And old corruption smil’d
To think his race should never end.
For now he had a child.
He call’d him Surgery, & fed
The babe with his own milk,
For flesh & he could ne’er agree,
She would not let him suck.
And this he always kept in mind,
And form’d a crooked knife,
And ran about with bloody hands
To seek his mother’s life.
And as he ran to seek his mother
He met with a dead woman,
He fell in love & married her,
A deed which is not common.
She soon grew pregnant & brought forth
Scurvy & spotted fever.
The father grin’d & skipt about
And said, ‘I’m made for ever!
For now I have procur’d these imps
I’ll try experiments.’
With that he tied poor scurvy down
& stopt up all its vents.
And when the child began to swell,
He shouted out aloud,
I’ve found the dropsy out, & soon
Shall do the world more good.’
He took up fever by the neck
And cut out all its spots,
And thro’ the holes which he had made
He first discover’d guts.”
“Ah,” said Sipsop, “you think we are rascals––& we think you are rascals. I do as I chuse. What is it to any body what I do? I am always unhappy too. When I think of Surgery––I don’t know. I do it because I like it. My father does what he likes & so do I. I think, somehow, I’ll leave it off. There was a woman having her cancer cut, & she shriek’d so, that I was quite sick”