Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the acid spirit in distillation, which vellicating and contracting as a stimulus might have proved a counterpoise to the excessive lubricating and re-. laxing qualities of the oyl. -

62. Woods in decoction do not seem to yield so ripe and elaborate a juice, as that which is deposited in the cells or loculi terebinthiaci, and spontaneously oozes from them. And indeed though the balfam of Peru, obtained by boiling wood and scumming the decoction, be a very valuable medicine and of great account in divers cases, particularly asthmas, nephritic pains, nervous colics and obstructions, yet I do verily think (and I do not fay this without experience) that tar-water isa more efficacious remedy in all those cases than even that costly drug.

63. It hath been already observed that the restorative pectoral antihysterical virtues of the most precious balfams and gums «re possessed in a high degree by tar-water (a). And I do not know any purpose answered by the wood drinks, for which tar-water may not be used with at least equal success. It contains the virtues even of Guaiacum which seems the most efficacious of all the woods, warming and sweetening the humours, diaphoretic and usesul in gouts, dropsies and rheums, as well as in the foul disease. Nor should it seem strange, if the virtues obtained by boiling an old dry wood prove inserior to those extracted from a balfam.

- 64. There is a fine volatile spirit in the waters osiSeronster, the most esteemed of all the fountains about Spa, but whose waters do not bear transporting. . The stomachic, cardiac, and diuretic qualities of; (his fountain somewhat resemble those of tarWaier, which, If I am not greatly mistaken, con

. (a) Sect. 9, Si, zi, 33.

^ - : . K. tains tains the virtues of the best chalybeat andsulphureotis waters; with this difference, that those waters are apt to afsect the head in taking, which tarwater is not. Besides there is a regimen of diet to be observed, especially with chalybeat waters, which I never found necessary with this. Tarwater layeth under no restraint either as to diet, hours, or employment. A man may study, or exercise, or repose, keep his own hours, pass his time either within or without, and take wholesome nourishment of any kind.

65. The use of chalybeat waters, however excel-lent for the nerves and stomach, is often suspended by colds and inflammatory disorders; in which they are acknowledged to be very dangerous. Whereas tar-water is so far from hurting in those cases, or being discontinued on that account, that it greatly contributes to their cure (a).

66. Cordials, vulgarly so called, act immediately on the stomach, and by consent of nervet on the head. But medicines of an operation too? fine and light to produce a sensible effect in the primæ viæ, may, nevertheless, in their passage through the capillaries, operate on the sides of those small vessels, in such manner as to quicken their oscillations, and consequently the motion of their contents, producing in issue and effect, all the benefits of a cordial much more lasting and falutary than those of sermented spirits, which by their caustic and coagulating qualities do incomparably more mischief than good. Such a cardiac medicine is tar-water. The transient fits of mirth, produced from sermented liquors, are attended -with proportionable depressions of spirit in their intervals. But the calm chearsulness arising from

S"'" (a) Sect. 7.

this Water of health (as it may be justly called) is permanent. In which it emulates the virtues oi that famous plant Gen Seng, so much valued in China as the only cordial that raiseth the spirits without depressing them. Tar-water is so far from hurting the nerves as common cordials do, that it is highly usesul in cramps, spasms of the vifeeraj and paralytic numbness.

67. Emetics are on certain occasions administred with great success. But the overstraining and weakening of nature may be very justly apprehended from a course of emetics. They are nevertheless prescribed and substituted for exercise. But it is well remarked in Plato'sTimaeus that vomits and purges are the worst exercise in the world. There is something in the mild operation of tar-water, that seems more friendly to the œconomy, and forwards the digestions and secretions in a way more natural and benign, the mildness of this medicine being such that I have known children take it, for above six months together, with great benefit, and without any inconvenience; and after long and repeated experience I do esteem it a most excellent diet drink fitted to all seasons and ages.

68. It is, I think, allowed that the origine of the gout lies in a faulty digestion. And it is remarked by the ablest physicians, that the gout is so difficult to cure, because heating medicines aggravare it's immediate, and cooling it's remote cause. But tar-water, although it contain active principles that strenghten the digestion beyond any thing I know, and consequently must be highly usesul, either to prevent or lessen the following fit, or by envigorating the blood to cast it upon the extremities, yet it is not of so heating a nature as to do harm even in the fit. Nothing is

more difficult or difagreeable than to argue menout of their prejudices; I shall not therefore enter into controversies on this subject, but, if men dispute and object, shall leave the decision to time and trial.

69. In the modern practice, soap, opium, and mercury bid fairest for univerfal medicines. The first of these is highly spoken of. But then those who magnify it most, except against the use of it in such cases where the obstruction is attended with a putrefactive alkali, or where an inflammatory disposition appears. It is acknowledged to be very. dangerous in a pthifis, sever, and some other cases in which tar-water is not only fase but usesul.

70. Opium, though a medicine of great extent and efficacy, yet is frequently known to produce grievous disorders in hysterical or hypochondriacal persons, who make a great part, perhaps the greatest of those who lead sedentary lives in these islands. Besides, upon all constitutions dangerous errors may be committed in the use of opium.

71. Mercury hath of late years become a medicine of very general use. The extreme minuteness, mobility, and momentum of its parts, rendering ic a most powersul cleanser of all obstructions, even in the most minute capillaries. But then we should be cautious in the use of it, if we consider, that the very thing which gives it power of doing good abqve other deobstruents, doth also dispose it to do mischief. I mean its great momentum, rhe weight of it being about ten times that of blood, and the momentum being the joint product of the weight and velocity, it must needs operate with great force -, and may it not be justly scared, that Ib great a force entring the minutest

E vessels, vessels, and breaking the obstructed matter, might also break or wound the fine tender coats of those small vessels, and so bring on the untimely effects of old age, producing more, perhaps, and worse obstructions than those it removed? Similar consequences may justly be apprehended from other mineral and ponderous medicines. Therefore, upon the whole, there will not perhaps be found any medicine, more general in its use, or more falutary in its effects than tar-water.

72. To suppose that all distempers arising from very different, and, it may be, from contrary causes, can be cured by one and fame medicine must seem chimerical. But it may with truth be affirmed, that the virtue of tar-water extends to a surprising variety of cases very distant and unlike (a.) This I have experienced in my neighbours, my family, and myself. And as I live in a remote corner among poor neighbours, who tor want of a regular physician have often recourse to me, I have had frequent opportunities of trial, which convince me it is of so just a temperament as to be an enemy to all extremes. I have known it do great good in a cold watery constitution, as a cardiac and stomachic; and at the fame time allay heat and severish thirst in another. I have known it correct costive habits in some, and the contrary habit in others. Nor will this seem incredible, if it be considered that middle qualities naturally reduce the extreme. Warm water, for instance, mixed with hot and cold will lessen the heat in that, and the cold in this.

73. They who know the great virtues of common soap, whose coarse lixivial falts are the pro

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »