Page images
PDF
EPUB

I. IN certain parts of America, tar-water is

I made by putting a quart of cold water to a quart of tar, and stirring them well together in a veffel, which is left standing till the tar sinks to the bottom. A glass of clear water being poured off for a draught is replaced by the same quantity of fresh water, the veffel being shaken and left to stand as before. And this is repeated for every glass, so long as the tar continues to impregnate che water sufficiently, which will appear by the smell and taste. But as this method producech tar, water of different degrees of strength, I chuse to. make it in the following manner : Pour a gallon of cold water on a quart of tar, and stir and mix them thoroughly with a ladle or fat stick for the space of three or four minutes, after which the versel must stand eight and forty hours that the tar may have time to subside, when the clear water is to be poured off and kept covered for use, no more being made from the same tar, which may still serve for common purposes,

2 This cold infusion of tar hath been used in some of our colonies, as a preservative or preparative against the small-pox, which foreign practice induced me to try it in my own neighbourhood, when the small-pox raged with great violence. And the trial fully answered my expectation : all those, within my knowledge, who took the tar-water having either escaped that distemper, or had it very favourably. In one family there was a re, markable instance of seven children, who came all. very well through the small-pox, except one young child which could not be brought to drink tar-water as the rest had done,

3. Several were preserved from taking the smallpox by the use of this liquor: others had it in the

mildelt

mildest manner, and others that they might be able to take the infection, were obliged to intermit drinking the tar-water. I have found it may be drunk with great safety and success for any length of time, and this not only before, but also during the distemper. The general rule for taking it is, about half a pint night and morning on an empty ftomach, which quantity may be varied, according to the case and age of the patient, provided it be always taken on an empty stomach, and about two hours before or after a meal. For children and [queamish persons it may be made weaker, and given little and often. More cold water, or less stirring, makes it weaker ; as less water, or more stirring, makes it stronger. It should not be lighter than French, nor deeper coloured than Spanish white wine. If a spirit be not very sensibly perceiv'don drinking, either the tar must have been bad, or already us'd, or the tar-water carelessly made.

4. It seemed probable, that a medicine of such efficacy in a distemper attended with so many purulent ulcers, might be also useful in other foulnesses of the blood; accordingly I tried it on several persons infected with cutaneous eruptions and ulcers, who were soon relieved, and soon after cured. Encouraged by these successes I ventured to advise it in the foulest distempers, wherein it proved much more successful than salivations and wood-drinks had done.

5. Having tried it in a great variety of cases, I .found it succeed beyond my hopes; in a tedious and painful ulceration of the bowels, in a consumptive cough and (as appeared by expectorated pus) an ulcer in the lungs; in a pleurisy and peripneumony. And when a person, who for some years had been subject to erysipelatous fevere, perceived the usual fore-running symptoms to come on, I advised her

to

to drink tar-water which prevented the erysipelas.

6. I never knew any thing so good for the stomach as tar-water: it cures indigestion and gives a good appetite. It is an excellent medicine in an asthma. It imparts a kindly warmth and quick circulation to the juices without heating, and is therefore useful, not only as a pectoral and balsamic, but also as a powerful and safe deobftruent in cachectic and hysteric cases. As it is both healing and diuretic, it is very good for the gravel. I believe it to be of great ufe in a dropsy, having known it cure a very bad anafarca in a person whose thirst, though very extraordinary, was in a short time removed by the drinking of tar-water.

7. The usefulness of this medicine in inflamma. tory cases is evident, from what has been already obferved (a). And yet fome perhaps may suspect that, as the tar itself is fulphureous, tar-water must be of a hot and inflaming nature. But it is to be noted, that all balsams contain an acid fpirit, which is in truch a volatile falt. Water is a menftruum that diffolves all sorts of salts, and draws them from their subjects. Tar, therefore, being a balfam, it's falutary acid is extracted by water, which yet is incapable of diffolving it's gross resinous parts, whose proper menftruum is spirit of wine. Therefore tar-water, not being impregnated with resin, may be safely used in inflammatory cases: and in fact it hath been found an admirable febrifuge, at once the fafest cooler and cordial.

8. The volatile falts separated by infusion from tar, may be supposed to contain it's specific virtues. Mr. Boyle and other later chemists are a. greed, that fixed salts are much the same in all bodies. But it is well known, that volatile falts do greatly differ, and the easier they are separated . (a) Sect. 5.

from

from the subject, the more do they postess of it's fpecific qualities. Now the most easy separation is by infusion of tar in cold water, which to smell and taft shewing it felf-well impregnated, may be presumed to extract and retain the most pure volatile and active particles of that vegetable balsam.

9. Tar was by the ancients esteemed good against poisons, ulcers, the bites of venomous creatures, also for pthisical, scrophulous, paralytic and afthmatic persons. But the method of rendering it an inoffensive medicine and agreeable to the stomach, by extracting it's virtues in cold water, was unknown to them. The leaves and tender tops of pine and fir are in our times used for diet-drinks, and allowed to be antiscorbutic and diuretic. But the most elaborate juice, salt, and spirit of those evergreens are to be found in tar; whose virtues extend not to animals alone, but also to vegetables. Mr. Evelyn in his treatise on Forest trees observes with wonder, that stems of trees, smeared over with tar, are preserved thereby from being hurt by the invenomed teeth of goats and other injuries, while every other thing of an unctuous nature is highly prejudicial to them.

10. It seems that tar and turpentine may be had more or less, from all sorts of pines and firs whatsoever; and that the native spirits and essential salts of those vegetables are the same in turpentine and common tar. In effect this vulgar tar, which cheapness and plenty may have rendered contemptible, appears to be an excellent balsam, containing the virtues of most other balsams, which it easily imparts to water, and by that means readily and inoffensively insinuates them into the habit of the body.

11. The resinous exsudations of pines and firs are an important branch of the materia medica,

and

and not only useful in the prescriptions of phyficians, but have been allo thought otherwise conducive to health. Pliny tells us, that wines in the time of the old Romans were medicated with pitch and refin; and Jonstonus in his Dendrographia observes, that it is wholesome to walk in groves of pine trees, which impregnate the air with balsamic particles. That all turpentines and resins are good for the lungs, against gravel also and obstructions, is no secret. And that the medicinal properties of those drugs are found in tar-water, without heating the blood, or disordering the stomach, is confirmed by experience; and particularly that pthilical and asthmatic perfons receive speedy and great relief from the use of it.

12. Balsams, as all unctuous and oily medicines, create a nauseating in the stomach. They cannot therefore be taken in substance, so much or so long, as to produce all those falutary effects, which, if thoroughly mixed with the blood and juices, they would be capable of producing. It must therefore be a thing of great benefit, to be able to introduce any requisite quantity of their volatile parts into the finest ducts and capillaries, so as noć to offend the stomach, bút, on the contrary, to comfort and strengthen it in a great degree.

13. According to Pliny, liquid pitch (as he calls it) or tar was obtained by setting fire to billets of old fat pines or firs. The first running was tar, the latter or thicker running was pitch. Theo. phraftus is more particular: he tells us the Macedonians made huge heaps of the cloven trunks of those trees, wherein the billets were placed erect beside each other. That such heaps or piles of wood were sometimes a hundred and eighty cubits round, and sixty or even a hundred high: and that having covered them with fods of earth to

prevent

« EelmineJätka »