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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 31 June 1791. Mr. William Graham is still alive (July 1836), being eighty-one years of age. He resides in Leicestershire, where he is deservedly held in high estimation, Dr. James Graham, after having finished his studies in Edinburgh, went to England, and began business in Pontefract, where, in the year 1770, he married Miss Mary Pickering, daughter of a gentleman of that place, by whom he had a son and two daughters. His eldest daughter was married to the late Mr. Stirling, minister of Dunblane, a very accomplished lady, who is still alive (1837). The other daughter died in the apartments of the Observatory on the Calton Hill, of consumption, about four years before her father. After residing some time in England, Dr. Graham went to America, where he figured as a philanthropic physician, travelling for the benefit of mankind, to administer relief, in the most desperate diseases, to patients whose cases had hitherto puzzled the ordinary practitioners. Having the advantage of a good person, polite address, and agreeable conversation, he got into the first circles, particularly in New England, where he made a great deal of money. He then returned to Britain; and, after making an excursion through England, during which, accordiiig to his own account, he was eminently successful in curing many individuals whose cases had been considered desperate, he visited Scotland, and was employed by people of the first quality, who were tempted to put themselves under his care by the fascination of his manner and the fame of his wondrous cures. So popular was he, that he might have settled in Edinburgh, to great advantage, but he preferred returning to England. He fixed his abode in the metropolis, where he set on foot one of the most original and extravagant institutions that could well be figured, the object of which was for “ preventing barrenness, and propagating a much more strong, beautiful, active, healthy, wise, and virtuous race of human beings, than the present puny, insignificant, foolish, peevish, vicious, and nonsensical race of Christians, who quarrel, fight, bite, devour, and cut one another’s throats about they know not what.”l The “ Temple of Health,” as he was pleased to term it, was an establishment of a very extraordinary description, and one in which all the exertions of the painter and statuary-all the enchantments of vocal and instrumental music -all powers of electricity and magnetism, were called into operation to enliven and heighten the scene. In a word, all that could delight the eye or ravish the ear-all that could please the smell, give poignancy to the taste, or gratify the touch, were combined to give effect to his scheme-at least such was his own account. Of his numerous puffs on the subject, one may be selected by way of a specimen :- “TEMPLE OF HEALTH AND HYMEN, PALL-MALL, NEAR THE KING’S PALACE. “ If there be one human being, rich or poor, male, female, or of the doubtful gender, in or near this great metropolis of the world, who has not had the Such are the ipsia8im eerba of one of the Doctor’s advertisements.
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32 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, good fortune and the happiness of hearing the celebrated lecture, and of seeing the grand celestial state bed, the magnificent electrical apparatus, and the supremely brilliant and unique decorations of this magical edifice, bf this enchanting Elysian palace !-where wit and mirth, love and beauty-all that can delight the soul, and all that can ravish the senses-will hold their court, this, and every evening this week, in chaste and joyous assemblage! let them now come forth, or for ever afterwards let them blame themselves, and bewail their irremediable misfortune.” ’ In this way his numerous auditors were properly prepared for his lectures, which were delivered in the most elegant and graceful manner. The following letter, his own production perhaps, from a periodical work of the time, descriptive of his Temple and lectures, is curious :- “TO THE EDITOR OF THE WESTMINSTER MAGAZINE. ‘( Audi alteram partem. “ SIR-I have heard many persons exclaim against Dr. Graham’s Hymeneal Lectures, and reprobate him in the most opprobrious terms ; but having not been myself to see his Temple of Hymen, I thought it unjust to censure or join in condemning that which I had never seen, or him whom I had never heard. Curiosity (a passion remarkable in the people of England) prompted me to go with an intimate friend and pay a visit to the Doctor, whom I found attended by about forty gentlemen who were intent on listening to his connubial precepts. I gave attention, and determined to judge impartially of what I heard as well as saw, and the following is the result of my unprejudiced observations :- “ His rooms are fitted up in a very elegant and superb manner, far beyond any thing I ever saw, and must have cost him a very considerable sum of money. A sta,tue of Beauty, of Yenus de Jfedicis, is the only object that appeared to me censurable, as likely to excite unchaste ideas. His lecture is well adapted to the subject he treats on, and is interspersed with many judicious remarks, well worthy the attention of the Legislature, to prevent prostitution and encourage matrimony. The nature of the subject naturally obliges him to border on what is generally termed indelicacy ; but he always endeavours to guard his audience against imbibing sentiments in my respect repugnant to virtue, chastity, and modest deportment ; he earnestly recommends marriage, as honourable in all, and as strongly execrates prostitution and criminality ; wherein then is he to blame S “BOB SHORT. “December 1781.” The articles with which the Temple of Health, in London, WYBS furnished were subsequently removed to Edinburgh, and offered for sale by Dr. Graham, in the third house from the High Street, on the South Bridge.
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