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N°86. SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1789
To the AUTHOR of the MIRROR,
SIR, Many inestimable medicines, as well for preserving health as for curing diseases, are overlooked by our modern practitioners. An attempt to revive some of those obsolete remedies, though it may appear better suited to a medical performance, yet does not seem altogether foreign to the Mirror; since a sound mind, according to the well-known apopthegm, is in natural alliance with a sound body, the same publication which is calculated for the improvement of the one, may not improperly be made subservient to the health of the other.
I. The first that I shall mention is of sovereign efficacy in restoring debilitated stomachs to their proper tone.
It renders the body vigorous, and it prolongs the days of man even unto extreme old age. Of it Tulpius, an eminent physician of Amsterdam, treats in his Observationes Medicinales.
In some languages it is called Cha, in others, Tzai ; but with us it has received the appellation of Tea.
II. There is another simple of a singular kind: according to the great traveller Pietro della Valle, it is cooling in summer, and warm in winter, without, however, changing its qualities.
It expelled a gout, of thirty years standing, from the toes of the Reverend Alexander d'Albertus, bare-footed friar of Marseilles, aged seventy. For a long time Madame de Lausun could not walk without the aid of a crutch; and no wonder ; for the good lady · had numbered the frosts of four
score and two winters.' She was seized with what my author calls a tertian quartan ague, which undoubtedly is a very bad thing, though I do not find it in my dictionary: but she tried father Alexander's remedy ; her youth was renewed, as one might say [comme rajeunie], and she threw away her crutch.
The wife of M.Morin, physician at Grenoble, was reduced to the last extremity by a confirmed Phthysic, of no less than sixteen years endurance : at length the Doctor found out a method of laying the disease that had so obstinately haunted his bed. By way, of experiment he administered the remedy to his chère moitie (dear half), which is French for a wife. She recovered of her Phthysic, and afterwards, by using the same remedy, of another disease with a horrible Greek name, a Peripneumony.
I might add many and various effects of this medicine still more wonderful. That of the public speaker, who was seized with a fit of modesty, is most remarkable. By taking a single dose, he felt himself restored to his wonted composure of mind; and he declared that he could, with ease, have spoken out another hour.
For this and other authenticated cures, the inqui. sitive reader it referred to the treatise of Philip Sylvester du Tour, concerning the virtues of Coffee.
III. There is a certain weed, ' which, taken a · while after meat, helps digestion; it voids rheum, • &c. A little of it, being steeped over night in a • little white wine, is a vomit that never fails in its
operation. It cannot endure a spider, or a flea, or • such like vermin : it is good to fortify and preserve the sight, being let in round about the balls of the eyes once a week, and frees them from all rheums, driving them back by way of repercussion : taken
• into the stomach, it will heal and cleanse it ; for, my · Lord Sunderland, president of York, taking it downwards into his stomach, it cured him of an imposthume, which had been of a long time en'gendering out of a bruise he had received at foot• ball; and so preserved his life for many years.'
These are the words of Howel, in his letters, where he enlarges on the praise of Tobacco.
IV. But there is still another medicine of astonishing virtues which have been circumstantially related by Matthiolus, an Italian physician of the sixteenth century: it is a liquid which, when skil• fully prepared, proves a powerful antiseptic [an opposer of corruption] to every thing steeped in it; and so, by removing all tendency to corruption, it is a comforter and a restorative, and preserves and prolongs the lives of those who use it. It not
only cherishes the natural heat, and preserves it ! in its full vigour, but it likewise renovates as it
were, and vivifies the animal spirits, gives an agree• able warmth to the stomach, sharpens the appre• hension and understanding, clears the eye-sight, ' and repairs the memory : it is more peculiarly be* neficial to those who are of too cold a tempera. ment, and who are subject to crudities of the • stomach, and other disorders proceeding from • cold affections. It therefore affords a sovereign • relief to all who are tormented with pains in the • stomach or bowels, proceeding from wind or « indigestion; as also to those who are subject to * giddiness, the falling sickness, a relaxation of the
nervous system, inveterate melancholy, hypochon• driacal disorders, palpitations of the heart, tremors, • and fainting fits.'
Matthiolus subjoins the method of using this medicine ;
R. Once a day a table-spoonful of Aquavitæ distilled from the best wine. But, with all deference to his authority, Aquavitæ, distilled even from the best wine, is not superior in any of its virtues to our great staple, Whisky : for, from the researches of our own patriotic philosophers, these two conclusions
may be deduced ; Ist, That Whisky, is a liquor pleasant to the taste; and, 2dly, That it is a wholesome spirit.
V. I shall conclude with a receipt which might have been considered as of general importance in the seventeenth century, and may prove of no less importance in the nineteenth.
Bartholomeus Carrichters, in his Secret, b. 2. c. 12. published a recipe which is mightily commended by Hector Schlands, in an epistle to his learned friend Gregorius Horstius ; see Horstii Epist. Medic. i. $ 7. 1612. ' R. Dog's grease, well dissolved and cleans• ed, 4 ounces. Bear's grease, 8 ounces. Capon's grease 24 ounces. Three trunks of the misletoe of hazel, while green; cut it in pieces, and pound it small, till it becomes moist : bruise it together • and mix all in a phial. After
have posed it to the sun for nine weeks, you shall ex'tract a green ointment, wherewith if you
anoint the • bodies of the bewitched, especially the parts most affected, and the joints, they will certainly be cured.'
This recipe was tried with amazing success in the case of a young girl, whose condition was truly deplorable ; for she vomited feathers, bundles of
straw, and a row of pins stuck in blue paper, as fresh ' and new as any in the pedlar's stall, pieces of glass • windows, and nails of a cart-wheel; as may be • seen in The Wonderful and true Relation of the be• witching a young Girl in Ireland, 1669,' by Daniel Higgs.
It is with the utmost diffidence that I give my own sentiments in the Materia Medica, especially on a subject which has been expressly treated by such men as Dr. Bartholomeus Carrichters, and Dr. Hector Schlands. May I then be premitted humbly to propose
Is there not some reason to conjecture, that the recipe, so effectual in the case of bewitching, would answer equally well in the case of childblains ?
I am, &c,
N° 87. TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 1780.
Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that
natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
There is in the mind of man a fund of superstition, which, in all nations, in all ages, and in all religions, has been attended with effects powerful and extraordinary. In this respect, no one people seem entitled to boast of any superiority over the rest of mankind. All seem, at one time or other, to have been alike the slaves of a weak, a childish, or a gloomy superstition. When: we behold the Romans, wise and great as they were, regulating their conduct, in their most ima portant affairs, by the accidental flight of birds ; or,