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No. 86. SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1780.
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 apophthegm, is in natural alliance with a sound body, the same publica« tion 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, a 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 fourscore 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 rejeunie], and she threw away her crutch.
The wife of M. Morin, physician at Grenoble, was reduced to the last extremity by a confirmed phthisic, 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 phthisic, 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 inquisitive reader is 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 engendering out of a bruise he had received at foot-bail; 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 skilfully 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 agreeable warmth to the stomach, sharpens the apprehension and understanding, clears the eye-sight, and repairs the memory: it is more peculiarly beneficial to those who are of too cold a temperament, 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, hypochondriacal disorders, palpitations of the heart, tremors and fainting fits.'
Matthiolus subjoins the method of using this medicine:
Rx. 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; 1st, 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 cleansed, 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
you have exposed it to the sun for nine weeks, you shall extract a green ointment, wherewith if
anoint the bodies of the bewitched, espe- . cially 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 pedler's stall, pieces of glass windows, and nails of a cart-wheel; as may be seen in The wonderful and true Relation of the bewitching 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 permitted humbly to propose this query,
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 chilblains?
I am, &c.
No. 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 important affairs, by the accidental flight of birds; or, when threatened by some national calamity, creating