Page images

It's wonderful succefs in preventing and mitigating that distemper, (a) would incline one to suspect that car-water is such a specific. Some think an Erysipelas and the Plague differ only in degree. If fo, tar-water should be useful in the Plague, for I have known it cure an Erysipelas. .

84. Tar-water, as cleansing, healing, and balfamic, is good in all disorders of the urinary passages, whether obstructed or ulcerated. Doctor Lister supposeth, indeed, that turpentines act by á caustic quality, which irritates the coats of the urinary ducts to expel sand or gravel. But, it Thould seem, this expelling diuretic virtue consisted rather in the salts than the resin, and consequently resides in the tar-water, gently stimulating by it's falts," without the dangerous force of a caustic. The violent operation of Ipecacuanha lies in it's resin, but the faline extract is a gentle purge and diuretic, by the stimulus of it's salts. .

85. That which acts as a mild cordial, (b) neither hurting the capillary vessels as a caustic, nor affecting the nerves, nor coagulating the juices, must in all cases be a friend to nature, and affift the vis vitæ in it's struggle against all kinds of contagion. And from what I have observed, tarwater appears to me an useful preservative in all epidemical disorders, and against all other infection whatsoever, as well as that of the small.pox. What effects the animi pathemata have in humane maladies, is well known, and consequently the general benefit of such a cardiac cannot be doubted.

86. As the body is said to cloath the soul, so the nerves may be said to constitute her inner garment. And as the foul animates the whole, what

(a) 2, 3. (6) 66.


nearly touches the soul relates to all. Therefore the asperity of tartarous falts, and the fiery acris mony of alcaline salts, irritating and wounding the nerves, produce nascent passions and anxieties in the soul , which both aggravate distempers, and render mens lives restless and wretched, even when they are afflicted with no apparent distemper. This is the latent spring of much woe; spleen, and tædium vitæ. Small imperceptible irritations of the minutest fibres or filaments, caused by the pungent falcs of wines and fauces, do so shake and disturb the microcosms of high liv. ers, as often to raise tempests in courts and senates. Whereas the gentle vibrations that are raised in the nerves, by a fine subtile acid, sheathed in a smooth volatile oil (a), softly, stimulating and bracing the nervous veftels and fibres, promotes a due circulation and secretion of the animal juices, and creates a calm fatisfied sense of health. And accordingly I have often known tar-water procure fleep and compose the spirits in cruel vigils, occafioned either by sickness or by too intense application of mind.

87. In diseases sometimes accidents happen from without by mismanagement, sometimes latent causes operate within, jointly with the specific taing or peculiar cause of the malady. The causes of distempers are often complicated, and there may be something in the idiosyncrafy of the patient that puzzles the physician. It may therefore be presumed that no medicine is infallible, not even in any one disorder. But as tar-water possesseth the virtues of fortifying the stomach, as well as purifying and invigorating the blood, beyond any medicine that I know, it may be presumed of great

[blocks in formation]

and general efficacy in all those numerous illnesses, which take their rise from foul or vapid blood, or from a bad digestion. The animal spirits are elaborated from the blood. Such therefore as the blood is, such will be the animal spirit, more or Jess, weaker or stronger. This sheweth the use. fulness of tar-water in all hysteric and hypocon. driac cafes ; which together with the maladies from indigellion comprife almost the whole tribe of chronical diseases. * 88. The scurvy may be reckoned in these climates an universal malady, as people in general are subject to it, and as it mixes more or less in almost all diseases. Whether this proceeds from want of elasticity in our air, upon which the tone of the veílels depends, and upon that the several secretions ; or whether it proceeds from the moisture of our climate, or the grofsnefs of our food, or the fifts in our atmosphere, or from all these together ; thus much at least seems not absurd to suppose, that, as physicians in Spain and Italy are apt to suspect the venereal taint to be a latent principle, and bear a part in every illness, so for as good reason the fcurvy should be considered by our physicians, as having some share in most disorders and conftitutions that fall in their way. It is certain our perfpiration is not so free as in clearer air and warmer climates. Perspirable humours not discharged will stagnate and putrify. A diet of aniniat food will be apt to render the juices of our bodies alcalescent. Hence ichorous and corrosive humours and many disorders. Moift air makes viscid blood; and faline air inflames this viscid blood. Hence broken capillaries, extrava. lated blood, spots and ulcers, and other scorbutic fymptoms. The body of a man attracts and imbibes the moisture and falts of the air, and what

ever floats in the atmosphere, which, as it is cammon to all, so it affects all more or less. . ; 89. Doctor Musgrave thinks the Devonshire fcurvy a relique of the leprosy, and that it is not owing to the qualities of the air. But as these infulars in general live in a gross faline air, and their vessels being less elastic, are consequently less able to subdue and cast off what their bodies as sponges draw in, one would be tempted to suspect the air not a little concerned, especially in such a situation as-that of Devonshire. In all these British inands we enjoy a great mediocrity of climate, the effect whereof is, that we have neither heat enough to exalt and diffipate the gross va pours, as in Italy, nor cold enough to condense and precipitate them, as in Sweden. So they are left floating in the air, which we constantly breath, and imbibe through the whole surface of our bodies. And this together with exhalations from coal fires, and the various fossils wherein we abound, doth greatly contribute to render us scorbutic and hypochondriac. : 90. There are some who derive all diseases from the scurvy, which indeed must be allowed to create or mimic most other maladies. Boerhaave tells us, i produceth pleuretic, cholic, nephritic, hepatic pains, various fevers, hot, malignant, intermitting, dysenteries, faintings, anxieties, dropsies, consumpcions, convulsions, pallies, Auxes of blood. In a word, it may be faid to contain the seeds and origine of almost all distempers. Insomuch that a medicine which cures all sorts of scurvy, may be presumed good for most other maladies. · 91. The scurvy doth not only in variety of fymptoms imitate most distempers, but also when çome to a height, in degree of virulence equal the most malignant. Of this we have a remarkable proof, in that horrible description of the scorbutic

F 2


patients in the hospitals of Paris, given by monsieur Poupart, in the Memoirs of the royal academy of sciences, for the year one thousand fix hundred and ninety-nine. That author thinks he faw some resemblance in it to the plague of Athens, It is hard to imagine any thing more dreadful than the case of those men, rotting alive by the scurvy in it's supreme degree, To obviate such putrefaction, I believe the most effectual method would be, to embalm (if one may fo say) the living body with tar-water copiously drunk ; and this belief is not without experience.

92. It is the received opinion that the animal falts of a sound body are of a neutral, bland and benign nature : that is, the salts in the juices past the primæ viæ, are neither acid nor alcaline, hav. ing been subdued by the conftitution, and changed into a third nature. Where the constitution wants force to do this, the aliment is not duly affimilated ; and so far as the falts retain their pristine qualities, fickly symptoms ensue, acids and alkalies not perfectly subdued, producing weak ferments in the juices. Hence fcurvy, cachexy, and a long train of ills.

93. A Cachexy or ill habit is much of the fame kind with the fcurvy, proceeds from the fame cayses and is attended with like symptoms, which are so manifold and various, that the scurvy may well be looked on as a general cachexy, infecting the whole habit and vitiating all the digestions. Some have reckoned as many forts of the scurvy, as there are different taints of the blood. Others have fup. posed it a collection of all illnesses together. Some suppose it an accumulation of several diseases in fieri. Others take it for an assemblage of the religues of old distempers.

94. But

« EelmineJätka »