Page images
PDF
EPUB

patients in the hospitals of Paris, given by monsieur Poupart, in the Memoirs of the royal academy of sciences, for the year one thousand six hundred and ninety-nine. That author thinks he saw 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 scurvyin it's supreme degree. To obviate such putrefaction, I believe the most effectual method would be, to embalm (if one may so 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 fales of a found body are of a neutral, bland and benign nature : that is, the falts in the juices past the primæ viæ, are neither acid nor alcaline, having been subdued by the constitution, and changed into a third nature. Where the constitution wants force to do this, the aliment is not duly affimulated ; and so far as the sales retain their pristine qualities, sickly symptoms ensue, acids and alkalies not perfectly subdued, producing weak ferments in the juices. Hence scurvy, cachexy, and a long train of ills.

93. A cachexy or ill habit is much of the fame kind with the scurvy, proceeds from the same causes 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 sorts of the scurvy, as there are different taints of the blood. Others have supposed it a collection of all illnesses together. Some suppose it an accuinulation of several diseases in fieri. Others take it for an assemblage of the reliques of old distempers,

94. But

94. But thus much is certain, the cure of the scurvy is no more to be attempted by strongly active medicines than (to use the similitude of an ingenious writer) a thorn in the flesh, or pitch on filk to be removed by force. The viscid humour must be gently resolved and diluted, the tone of the vessels recovered by a moderate stimulation, and the tender fibres and capillary vessels gradually cleared from the concreted stuff, chat adheres and obstructs them. All which is in the apteft manner performed by a watery diluent, containing a fine vegetable soap. And although a complete cure by alteratives, operating on the small capillaries, and by insensible discharges, muft require length of time, yet the good effect of this medicine on cachectic and scorbutic persons, is soon perceived, by the change it produceth in their pale discoloured looks, giving a forid healthy countenance in less time chan perhaps any other medicine.

95. It is supposed by physicians, that the immediate cause of the scurvy lies in the blood, the fibrous part of which is too thick and the serum too thin and sharp : and that hence ariseth the great difficulty in the cure, because in the correcting of one part, regard must be had to the other. It is well known how extremely difficult it is to cure an inveterate scurvy: how many scorbutic patients have grown worse by an injudicious course of evacuations : how many are even rendered incurable by the treatment of inconsiderate physicians: and how difficult, tedious and uncertain the cure is in the hands even of the best, who are obliged to use such variety and change of medicines, in the different stages of that malady: which nevertheless may be cured (if I may judge by what I have experienced) by the sole, regular, constant, copious use of car-water.

96. Tar

even oppofite: of scurvy pro well known, body

96. Tar-water moderately inspissates with it's balsamic virtue, and renders mild the thin and sharp part of the blood. The same, as a soapy medicine, diffolves the grumous concretions of the fibrous part. As a balsam it destroys the ulcerous acrimony of the humours, and as a deobftruent it opens and cleans the vessels, restores their tone, and ftrengthens the digestion, whose defects are the prin. cipal cause of scurvy and cachexy. · 97. In the cure of the scurvy, the principal aim is to subdue the acrimony of the blood and juices. But as this acrimony proceeds from different causes, or even opposite, as acid and alkaline, what is good in one sort of scurvy proves dangerous, or even mortal, in another. lc is well known, that hot antiscorbutics, where the juices of the body are alcalescent, increase the disease. And four fruits and vegetables produce a like effect in the scurvy, caused by an acid acrimony. Hence fatal blunders are committed by unwary practitioners, who, not distinguishing the nature of the disease, do frequently aggravate, instead of curing it. If I may crust what trials I have been able to make, this water is good in the several kinds of scurvy, acid, alcaline, and muriatic, and I believe it the only niedicine that cures them all without doing hurt in any. As it contains a volatile acid (a) with a fine volatile oil, why may not a medicine cool in one part and warm in another be a remedy to either extreme (6)? I have observed it to produce a kindly genial warmth without heat, a thing to be aimed at in all sorts of fcurvy. Besides the balsam in tar-water sheaths all scorbutic falts alike: and it's great virtues as a digefter and deob.

(a) 7.

(b) 72.

struenc

ftruent are of general use in all scorbutic, and, I may add, in all chronical cases whatsoever. .

98. I cannot be sure that I have tried it in a scra phulous case, though I have tried it successfully in one that I suspected to be fo. And I apprehend it would be very serviceable in such disorders. For although Doctor Gibbs in his treatise of the King's Evil derives that disease from a coagulating acid, which is also agreeable to the opinion of some other physicians, and although tar-water contain an acid, yet as it is a soap (a), it resolves instead of coagulating the juices of the body.

99. For hysterical and hypochondriacal disorders so frequent ainong us, it is commonly supposed that all acids are bad. But I will venture to except the acid soap of tar-water, having found, by my own experience and that of many others, that it raiseth the spirits, and is an excellent antihysteric, nor less innocent than potent, which cannot be said of those others in common use, that often leave people worse than they found them.

100. In a high degree of fcurvy a mercurial falivation is looked on by many as the only cure, Which, by the vehement shock it gives the whole frame, and the sensible secretion it produceth, may be thought to be more adequate to such an

effect. But the disorder occasioned by that vio·lent process, it is to be feared, may never be got over. The immediate danger, the frequent bad effects, the extreme trouble and nice care attending such a course do very deservedly make people afraid of it. And though the sensible secretion therein be so great, yet in a longer tract of time the use of tar-water inay produce as great

(a) 58.

à discharge of fcorbutic salts by urine and by per-
spiration, the effect of which saft, though not so
sensible, may yet be greater than that of saliva.
tion ; especially if it be true, that in common life
insensible perspiration is to nutrition, and all fen-
Gble excretions, as five to three.

101. Many hysteric and scorbutic ailments, ma-
ny taints contracted by themselves, or inherited
from their ancestors, amict the people of condition
in these islands, often rendering them, upon the
whole, much more unhappy than those whom po.com
verty and labour have ranked in the lowest lot of
life ; which ailments might be safely removed or re-
lieved by the sole use of tar-water; and those lives,
which seem hardly worch living for bad appetite,
low spirits, restless nights, wasting pains and anxie-
cies, be rendered easy and comfortable.

102. As the nerves are instruments of sensation,
it follows that spasms in the nerves may produce
all symptoms, and therefore a disorder in the ner-
vous system shall imitate all distempers, and occa-
sion, in appearance, an asthma for instance, a pleu-
risy, or a fit of the stone. Now whatever is good
for the nerves in general, is good against all such
symptoms. But tar-water, as it includes in an
eminent degree the virtues of warm gums and re-
fins, is of great use for comforting and strengthen-
ing the nerves (a), curing twitches in the nervous
fibres, cramps also, and numbness in the limbs, re-
moving anxieties and promoting seep, in all which
cases I have known it very successful.
· 103. This safe and cheap medicine suits all cir.
cumstances and all conftitutions, operating easily,
curing without disturbing, raising the spirits with.
out depressing them, a circumstance that deserves

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« EelmineJätka »