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The lying king

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 26 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:213
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Dr John Arbuthnot was Queen Anne's personal physician and a close friend of Jonathan Swift and John Gay (of The Beggar's Opera). He was a polymath: as well as holding MDs from Edinburgh and Cambridge, he was a classical scholar and mathematician. He was a pioneer not only of medicine but of political science. Arbuthnot understood the way of the world so well that one of his works might serve as a guide to modern life.

    In 1712, he published his Proposals for Printing A very Curious Discourse, in Two Volumes in Quarto, Intitled A Treatise of the Art of Political Lying, With an Abstract of the First Volume of the said Treatise. Alas, he never completed his great work, or even started it, …

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