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John Arbuthnot

Arbuthnot, John (1667–1735). Physician and satirist, was born in Kincardineshire, and after studying at Aberdeen and Oxford, took his degree of M.D. at St. Andrews. Settling in London, he taught mathematics. Being by a fortunate accident at Epsom, he was called in to prescribe for Prince George, who was suddenly taken ill there, and was so successful in his treatment that he was appointed his regular physician. This circumstance made his professional fortune, for his ability enabled him to take full advantage of it, and in 1705 he became physician to the Queen. He became the cherished friend of Swift and Pope, and himself gained a high reputation as a wit and man of letters. His principal works are the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, partly by Pope, but to which he was the chief contributor, the History of John Bull (1712), mainly against the Duke of Marlborough, A Treatise concerning the Altercation or Scolding of the Ancients, and the Art of Political Lying. He also wrote various medical treatises, and dissertations on ancient coins, weights, and measures. After the death of Queen Anne, A. lost his court appointments, but this, as well as more serious afflictions with which he was visited, he bore with serenity and dignity. He was an honourable and amiable man, one of the very few who seems to have retained the sincere regard of Swift, whose style he made the model of his own, with such success that writings by the one were sometimes attributed to the other: his Art of Political Lying is an example.

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