Edward Gibbon celebrates Michael Rosen

At the time of the pestilence there lived in London a Mr Rosen, who wrote merry tales for children and served honourably for a while as their Laureate. One such tale was of a family that went forth fearlessly to hunt a Bear, despite the arduous terrain, and all manner of peril that Reason and Prudence would perforce connect to such an enterprise. The tale was greeted with tumultuous joy and hilarity by the infants that heard it, and the universal approbation of Parents, Grandsires, Schoolmasters and Booksellers. This applause served to heighten the already lofty pedestal upon which Mr Rosen stood, so that his wise utterances on all manner of ills and delusions, then prevailing in the kingdom, became as widely attended as his verses and fables. By ill chance, when the pestilence took hold, Mr Rosen was among the first to sicken, and sank into a torpor from which, it then seemed, even the most intense Hippocratic intervention would be insufficient to revive him. However, fair Providence intervened, and the Laureate was timely snatched from the Valley of the Shadow amid widespread rejoicing. When at length he had shaken off the clinging fetters of distemper, Mr Rosen turned his ingenious pencil to an account of his ordeal. This book was not merely ardent in its praise of Physitians, terrifick in its delineation of morbid peril, and completely descriptive of the palliative powers of Love. It also stood as a memento for the virtues of Physick, and a warning to those Politicians that would rob the purse of Hippocrates to feed the ravening maw of Greed and Ambition.

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