Page images

of the acid spirit in diftillation, which vellicating, and contracting as a stimulus might have proyed a counterpoise to the excessive lubricating and rea laxing qualities of the oyl.. ,

62. Woods in decoction do not seem to yield fo ripe and elaborate a juice, as that which is depo. sited in the cells or loculi terebinthiaci, and spontaneously oozes from them. And indeed though the balsam of Peru, obrained by boiling wood and sçumming the decoction, be a very valuable medias cine and of great account in divers cases, particuJarly asthmas, nephritic pains, nervous colics and obstructions, yet I do verily think (and I do not fay this without experience) that tar-water is a 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 balsams and gums are pofleffed in a high de gree 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 fuccess. It contains the virtues even of Guaiacum which seems the most efficacious of all the woods, warming and sweetening the humours, diaphoretic and useful in gouts, dropfies 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 inferior to thofe extracted from a balfam.

64. There is a fine volatile spirit in the waters of Geronfter; the most esteemed of all the fountains about Spa, but whose waters do not bear transporting. The ftomachic, cardiac, and diuretic qualities of this fountain samewhat resemble those of tarWater, which, if I am not greatly mistaken, con-. : (a) Sect. 9, 21, 22, 23.

tains 33

mich seemed tains the Wed with

tains the virtues of the best chalybeat and fulphurcous waters; with this difference, that those waters are apt to affect the head in taking, which tarwater is not. Besides there is a regimen of dier 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 excellent for the nerves and stomach, is often fufpended 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 nerves on the head. But medicines of an operation too fine and light to produce a sensible effect in the prima 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 falutarý than those of fermented spirits, which by their caustic and coagulating qualities do incomparably more mischief than good. Such a cardiac media cine is tar-water. The transient fits of mirth, produced from fermented liquors, are attended with proportionable depressions of spirit in their intervals. But the calm chearfulness arising from

(a) Sect. 7.

this water of health (as it may be justly called) is permanent. · In which it emulates the virtues of 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 burting the nerves as common cordials do, that it is highly useful in cramps, spasms of the viscera, and paralytic numbness..

67. Emecics are on certain occasions adminiftred with great success. But the overstraining and weakening of nature may be very juftly apprehend. ed from a courfe of emetics. They are nevertheless prescribed and substituted for exercise. But it is well remarked in Plato's Timæus that vomits and purges are the worst exercise in the world. There is something in the mild operation of car-water, that seems more friendly to the economy, 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 fix months together, with great benefit, and without any inconvenience; and after long and repeated experience I do esteem it a moft 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 ablelt 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 useful, 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 na. ture as to do harm even in the fić. Nothing is


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

69. In the madern practice, soap, opium, and, mercury bid fairest for universal 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 difposition appears. It is acknowledged to be very, dangerous in a pthisis, fever, and some other cases in which tar-water is not only safe but use. ful.

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 it a most powerful cleanser of all obstructions, even in the most minute capillaries. But then we should be cautious in che use of it, if we consider, that the very thing which gives it power of doing good above other deobstruents, doch also dispose it to do mischief. I mean its great momentum, the 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 wich great force ; and may it not be juftly feared, thac lo great a force entring the minutelt


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.

22. To suppose that all distempers arising from very different, and, it may be, from contrary causes, can be cured by one and fame media cine must feem chimerical. But it may with truch 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 for want of a regular physician have ofren 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 same time allay heat and feverish thirst in another. I have known it correct costive habits in some, and the contrary habit in others. Nor will this seem incredible, it 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 soay, whose coarse lixivial salts are the pro

(a) Sect. 3, 4, 5, 6, 21, &c.


« EelmineJätka »