On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet

Original Text: 
The Gentleman's Magazine 53 (August 1783): 695-96. Robarts Library, University of Toronto AP4.G3
2    As on we toil from day to day,
3By sudden blasts, or slow decline,
4    Our social comforts drop away.
5Well tried through many a varying year,
6    See Levet to the grave descend;
7Officious, innocent, sincere,
8    Of ev'ry friendless name the friend.
9Yet still he fills affection's eye,
10    Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind;
11Nor, letter'd arrogance, deny
12    Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.
13When fainting nature call'd for aid,
14    And hov'ring death prepar'd the blow,
15His vig'rous remedy display'd
16    The pow'r of art without the show.
17In misery's darkest caverns known,
18    His useful care was ever nigh,
19Where hopeless anguish pour'd his groan,
20    And lonely want retir'd to die.
21No summons mock'd by chill delay,
22    No petty gain disdain'd by pride,
23The modest wants of ev'ry day
24    The toil of ev'ry day supplied.
25His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
26    Nor made a pause, nor left a void,
27And sure th' Eternal Master found
29The busy day, the peaceful night,
30    Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
31His frame was firm, his powers were bright,
32    Though now his eightieth year was nigh.
33Then with no throbbing fiery pain,
34    No cold gradations of decay,
35Death broke at once the vital chain,
36    And free'd his soul the nearest way.


1] Robert Levet or Levett was born in 1705 and died in his sleep on January 17, 1782; the following notice appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for that month (52: 47): "In Bolt Court, Fleet-street, at the house of his friendly patron Dr. Johnson, Mr. Robert Levet, a very useful, skilful, and charitable practitioner in physic, in full possession of every power both of body and mind, though supposed to have been 80 years old. He was born near Hull in Yorkshire." Levet dedicated his life to providing medical care to the London poor, accepting minimal fees for his services. Back to Line
28] In contrast to the unprofitable servant of Matthew 25: 14-30, Levet has made the most of his limited ability. Back to Line
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RPO poem Editors: 
John D. Baird
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