Hypochondriasis: A Practical Treatise
See also: History of Psychiatry homepage
In 1766 AD, John Hill, a doctor, was contemporary with William Batty and John Monro of Bedlam. As such, he took the view that Hypochondriasis (depression) was induced by melancholy blood clogging the spleen. "To call the hypochondriasis a fanciful malady, is ignorant and cruel. It is a real, and a sad disease: an obstruction of the spleen by thickened and distempered blood; extending itself often to the liver, and other parts ... this obstruction in the spleen is the true malady" Others viewed the causes as, air, diet, lack of sufficient sleep, too little or too much exercise, constipation, emotions. Hill's primary etiology of a clogged spleen was inactivity of mind and body and a sedentary lifestyle. He targets intellectuals that sat around reading and writing as most at risk: "Fatigue of mind, and great exertion of its powers often give birth to this disease; and always tend to increase it. The finer spirits are wafted by the labour of the brain: the philosopher rises from his study more exhausted than the Peasant leaves his drudgery ... The first and lightest of the signs that shew this illness are a lowness of spirits, an inaptitude to motion ; a disrelish of amusements, a love of solitude and a habit of thinking, even on trifling subjects, with too much steadiness." Typical of the anti-Christian attitudes of John Monro and the institutional psychiatry of the day at Bedlam, Hill takes a pot shot at the clergy: "Among particular persons the most inquiring and contemplative are those who suffer oftenest by this disease; and of all degrees of men I think the clergy. I do not mean the hunting, shooting, drinking clergy, who bear the tables of the great; but the retired and conscientious; such as attend in midnight silence to their duty". The general view of the day was that preachers were lazy and sedentary, and that few were physically active. He described the symptoms similar to a depression. "lowness of spirits, and inaptitude to motion; a disrelish of amusements, a love of solitude, Wild thoughts; a sense of fullness". His cures focused on natural herbs like "Water-Dock" and "Spleen-wort". He outright rejected all drugs: "No acrid medicine must be directed, for that may act too hastily, dissolve the impacted matter at once, and let it loose, to the destruction of the sufferer; no antimonial, no mercurial, no martial preparation must be taken; in short, no chymistry: nature is the shop that heaven has set before us, and we must seek our medicine there". Insanity was viewed as being caused by stomach and digestion problems. Hill, like many of his day, therefore instructed the diet to be soft and easy to digest: "plenty of boiled vegetables, are always right ; and give enough variety, raw vegetables are all bad". So essentially Hill was a quack who, apart from avoiding the drugs administered by the mad doctors of his day, he had it all wrong. (Hypochondriasis: A Practical Treatise, John Hill, 1766 AD)
Hypochondriasis: A Practical Treatise, John Hill, 1766 AD
by G. S. ROUSSEAU
"When I first dabbled in this art, the old distemper call'd Melancholy was exchang'd for Vapours, and afterwards for the Hypp, and at last took up the now current appellation of the Spleen, which it still retains, tho' a learned doctor of the west, in a little tract he bath written, divides the Spleen and Vapours, not only into the Hypp, the Hyppos, and the Hyppocons; but subdivides these divisions into the Markambles, the Moon palls, the Strong-Fiacs, and the Hockogrokles."
Nicholas Robinson, A New System of the Spleen, Vapours, and Hypochondriack Melancholy (London, 1729)
Treatises on hypochondriasis — the seventeenth-century medical term for a wide range of nervous diseases — were old when "Sir" John Hill, the eccentric English scientist, physician, apothecary, and hack writer, published his Hypochondriasis in 1766.1 For at least a century and a half medical writers as well as lay authors had been writing literature of all types (treatises, pamphlets, poems, sermons, epigrams) on this most fashionable of English maladies under the variant names of "melancholy," "the spleen," "black melancholy," "hysteria," "nervous debility," "the hyp." Despite the plethora of materia scripta on the subject it makes sense to reprint Hill's Hypochondriasis, because it is indeed a "practical treatise" and because it offers the modern student of neoclassical literature a clear summary of the best thoughts that had been put forth on the subject, as well as an explanation of the causes, symptoms, and cures of this commonplace malady.
No reader of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English literature needs to be reminded of the interest of writers of the period in the condition — "disease" is too confining a term — hypochondriasis.2 Their concern is apparent in both the poetry and prose of two centuries. From Robert Burton's Brobdingnagian exposition in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) to Tobias Smollett's depiction of the misanthropic and ailing Matthew Bramble in Humphry Clinker (1771), and, of course, well into the nineteenth century, afflicted heroes and weeping heroines populate the pages of England's literature. There is scarcely a decade in the period 16001800 that does not contribute to the literature of melancholy; so considerable in number are the works that could be placed under this heading that it actually makes sense to speak of the "literature of melancholy." A kaleidoscopic survey of this literature (exclusive of treatises written on the subject) would include mention of Milton's "Il Penseroso" and "L'Allegro," the meditative Puritan and nervous Anglican thinkers of the Restoration (many of whose narrators, such as Richard Baxter, author of the Reliquiae Baxterianae, 3 are afflicted), Swift's "School of Spleen" in A Tale of
a Tub, Pope's hysterical Belinda in the "Cave of Spleen," the melancholic "I" of Samuel Richardson's correspondence, Gray's leucocholy, the psychosomatically ailing characters of The Vicar of Wakefield and Tristram Shandy, Boswell's Hypochondriack Papers (1777-1783) contributed to the London Magazine, and such "sensible" and "sensitive" women as Mrs. Bennett and Miss Bates in the novels of Jane Austen. So great in bulk is this literature in the mid eighteenth century, that C. A. Moore has written, "statistically, this deserves to be called the Age of Melancholy."4 The vastness of this literature is sufficient to justify the reprinting of an unavailable practical handbook on the subject by a prolific author all too little known.5
The medical background of Hill's pamphlet extends further back than the seventeenth century and Burton's Anatomy. The ancient Greeks had theorized about hypochondria: tilloY ov8paa6.y signified a disorder beneath (ulJo) the gristle ()COvio/a) and the disease was discussed principally in physiological terms. The belief that hypochondriasis was a somatic condition persisted until the second half of the seventeenth century at which time an innovation was made by Dr. Thomas Sydenham. In addition to showing that hypochondriasis and hysteria (thought previously by Sydenham to afflict women only) were the same disease, Sydenham noted that the external cause of both was a mental disturbance and not a physiological one. He also had a theory that the internal and immediate cause was a disorder of the animal spirits arising from a clot and resulting in pain, spasms, and bodily disorders. By attributing the onset of the malady to mental phenomena and not to obstructions of the spleen or viscera, Sydenham was moving towards a psychosomatic theory of hypochondriasis, one that was to be debated in the next century in England, Holland, and France.6 Sydenham's influence on the physicians of the eighteenth century was profound: Cheyne in England, Boerhaave in Holland, La Mettrie in France. Once the theory of the nervous origins of hypochondria gained ground—here I merely note coincidence, not historical cause and effect — the disease became increasingly fashionable in England, particularly among the polite, the aristocratic, and the refined. Students of the drama will recall Scrub's denial in The Beaux' Stratagem (1707) of the possibility that Archer has the spleen and Mrs. Sullen's interjection, "I thought that distemper had been only proper to people of quality."
Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, hypochondria was so prevalent in people's minds and mouths that it soon assumed the abbreviated name "the hyp." Entire poems like William Somervile's The Hyp: a Burlesque Poem in Five Canto's (1731) and Tim Scrubb's A Rod for the Hyp-Doctor (1731) were devoted to this strain; others, like Malcom Flemyng's epic poem, Neuropathia: sive de morbis hypochondriacis et hystericis, libri tres, poema medicum (1740), were more technical and scientific. Professor Donald Davie has written that he has often "heard old fashioned and provincial persons [in England and Scotland] even in [my] own lifetime say, 'Oh, you give me the hyp,' where we should say 'You give me a pain in the neck"7; and I myself have heard the expression, "You give me the pip," where "pip" may be a corruption of "hyp." As used in the early eighteenth century, the term "hyp" was perhaps not far from synonym for "lunacy," as the anonymous author of Anti-Siris (1744), one of the tracts in the tar-water controversy, informs us that "Berkeley tells his Countrymen, they are all mad, or Hypochondriac, which is but a fashionable name for Madness." Bernard Mandeville, the Dutch physician and author of The Fable of the Bees, seems to have understood perfectly well that hypochondriasis is a condition encompassing any number of diseases and not a specific and readily definable ailment; a condition, moreover, that hovers precariously and bafflingly in limbo between mind and body, and he stressed this as the theme of his Treatise of the Hypochondriack and Hysteric Passions, Vulgarly Call'd the Hypo in Men and Vapours in Women (1711). The mental causes are noted as well in an anonymous pamphlet in the British Museum, A Treatise on the Dismal Effects of Low-Spiritedness (1750) and are echoed in many similar early and mid-eighteenth century works. Some medical writers of the age, like Nicholas Robinson, had reservations about the external mental bases of the hyp and preferred to discuss the condition in terms of internal physiological causes:
. . . of that Disorder we call the Vapours, or Hypochondria; for they have no material distinctive Characters, but what arise from the same Disease affecting different Sexes, and the Vapours in Women are term'd the Hypochondria in Men, and they proceed from the Contraction of the Vessels being depress'd a little beneath the Balance of Nature, and the Relaxation of the Nerves at the same Time, which creates that Uneasiness and Melancholy that naturally attends Vapours, and which generally is an Intemperature of the whole Body, proceeding from a Depression of the Solids beneath the Balance of Nature; but the Intemperature of the Parts is that Peculiar Disposition whereby they favour any Disease.8
But the majority of medical thinkers had been persuaded that the condition was psychosomatic, and this belief was supported by research on nerves by important physicians in the 1740's and 1750's: the Monro brothers in London, Robert Whytt in Edinburgh, Albrecht von Haller in Leipzig. By mid century the condition known as the hyp was believed to be a real, not an imaginary ailment, cc mon, peculiar in its manifestations, and indefinable, almost impos Bible to cure, producing very real symptoms of physical illness, an, said to originate sometimes in depression and idleness. It was summed up by Robert James in his Medicinal Dictionary (London, 1743-45):
If we thoroughly consider its Nature, it will be found to be a spasmodico-flatulent Disorder of the Primae Viae, that is, of the Stomach and Intestines, arising from an Inversion or Perversion of their peristaltic Motion, and, by the mutual consent of the Parts, throwing the whole nervous System into irregular Motions, and disturbing the whole Oeconomy of the Functions. . .. no part or Function of the Body escapes the Influence of this tedious and long protracted Disease, whose Symptoms are so violent and numerous, that it is no easy Task either to enumerate or account for them. . .. No disease is more troublesome, either to the Patient or Physician, than hypochondriac Disorders; and it often happens, that, thro' the Fault of both, the Cure is either unnecessarily protracted, or totally frustrated; for the Patients are so delighted, not only with a Variety of Medicines, but also of Physicians. .. . On the contrary, few physicians are sufficiently acquainted with the true Genius and Nature of this perplexing Disorder; for which Reason they boldly prescribe almost everything contained in the Shops, not without an irreparable Injury to the Patient (article on "Hypochondriacus Morbis").
This is a more technical description than Hill gives anywhere in his handbook, but it serves well to summarize the background of the condition about which Sir John wrote.
Hill's Hypochondriasis adds little that is new to the theory of the disease. It incorporates much of the thinking set forth by the writings mentioned above,, particularly those of George Cheyne, whose medical works The English Malady (1733) and The Natural Method of Cureing the Diseases of the Body, and the Disorders of the Mind Depending on the Body (1742) Hill knew. He is also conversant with some Continental writers on the subject, two of whom —Isaac Biberg, author of The Oeconomy of Nature (1751), and Rene Reaumur who had written a history of insects (1722)9—he mentions explicitly, and with William Stukeley's Of the Spleen (1723). Internal evidence indicates that Hill had read or was familiar with the ideas propounded in Richard Blackmore's Treatise of the Spleen and Vapours (1725) and Nicholas Robinson's A New System of the Spleen, Vapours, and Hypochondriack Melancholy (1729).
Hill's arrangement of sections is logical: he first defines the condition (I), then proceeds to discuss persons most susceptible to it (II), its major symptoms (III), consequences (IV), causes (V), and cures (VI-VIII). In the first four sections almost every statement is commonplace and requires no commentary (for example, Hill's opening remark: "To call the Hypochondriasis a fanciful malady, is ignorant and cruel. It is a real, and a sad disease: an obstruction of the spleen by thickened and distempered blood; extending itself often to the liver, and other parts; and unhappily is in England very frequent: physick scarce knows one more fertile in ill; or more difficult of cure.") His belief that the condition afflicts sedentary persons, particularly students, philosophers, theologians, and that it is not restricted to women alone — as some contemporary thinkers still maintained— is also impossible to trace to a single source, as is his description (p. 12) of the most prevalent physiological symptoms ("lowness of spirits, and inaptitude to motion; a disrelish of amusements, a love of solitude, Wild thoughts; a sense of fullness") and causes (the poor and damp English climate and the resultant clotting of blood in the spleen) of the illness.
Sections V-VIII, dealing with causes and cures, are less commonplace and display some of Hill's eccentricities as a writer and thinker. He uses the section entitled "Cures" as a means to peddle his newly discovered cure-all, water dock, which Smollett satirized through the mouth of Tabitha Bramble in Humphy Clinker (1771). Hill also rebelled against contemporary apothecaries and physicians who prescribed popular medicines — such as Berkeley's tar-water, Dover's mercury powders, and James's fever-powders —as universal panaceas f or the cure of the hyp. "No acrid medicine must be directed, for that may act too hastily, dissolve the impacted matter at once, and let it loose, to the destruction of the sufferer; no antimonial, no mercurial, no martial preparation must be taken; in short, no chymistry: nature is the shop that heaven has set before us, and we must seek our medicine there" (p. 24). However scientifically correct Hill may have been in minimizing the efficacy of current pills and potions advertised as remedies for the hyp, he was unusual for his time in objecting so strongly to them. Less eccentric was his allegiance to the "Ancients" rather than to the "Moderns" so far as chemical treatment (i.e., restoration of the humours by chemical rearrangement) of hypochondriasis is concerned.11 "The venerable ancients," Hill writes, "who knew not this new art, will lead us in the search; and (faithful relators as they are of truth) will tell us whence we may deduce our hope; and what we are to fear" (p. 24).
Still more idiosyncratic, perhaps, is Hill's contention (p. 25) that the air of dry, high grounds worsens the condition of the patient. Virtually every writer I have read on the subject believed that onset of the hyp was caused by one of the six non-naturals — air, diet, lack of sufficient sleep, too little or too much exercise, defective evacuation, the passions of the mind; and although some medical writers emphasized the last of these,12 few would have concurred with Hill that the fetid air of London was less harmful than the clearer air at Highgate. All readers of the novel of the period will recall the hypochondriacal Matt Bramble's tirade against the stench of London air. Beliefs of the variety here mentioned cause me to question Hill's importance in the history of medicine; there can be no question about his contributions to the advancement of the science of botany through popularization of Linnaeus' system of bisexual classification, but Hill's medical importance is summarized best as that of a compiler. His recommendation of the study of botany as a cure for melancholics is sensible but verges on becoming "a digression in praise of the author," a poetic apologia pro vita sua in Augustan fashion:
For me, I should advise above all other things the study of nature. Let him begin with plants: he will here find a continual pleasure, and continual change; fertile of a thousand useful things; even of the utility we are seeking here. This will induce him to walk; and every hedge and hillock, every foot-path side, and thicket, will afford him some new object. He will be tempted to be continually in the air; and continually to change the nature and quality of the air, by visiting in succession the high lands and the low, the lawn, the heath, the forest. Hewill never want inducement to be abroad; and the unceasing variety of the subjects of his observation, will prevent his walking hastily: he will pursue his studies in the air; and that contemplative turn of mind, which in his closet threatened his destruction, will thus become the great means of his recovery (pp. 26-27).
Hill was forever extolling the claims of a life devoted to the study of nature, as we see in a late work, The Virtues of British Herbs (1770). Judicious as is the logic of this recommendation, one cannot help but feel that the emphasis here is less on diversion as a cure and more on the botanic attractions of "every hedge and hillock, every foot-path side, and thicket."
While Hill's rules and regulations regarding proper diet (Section VII) are standard, several taken almost verbatim et literatim from Cheyne's list in The English Malady (1733), his recommendation (Section VIII) of "Spleen-Wort" as the best medicine for the hypochondriac patient is not. Since Hill devotes so much space to the virtues of this herb and concludes his work extolling this plant, a word should be said about it. Throughout his life he was an active botanist. Apothecary, physician, and writer though he was, it was ultimately botany that was his ruling passion, as is made abundantly clear in his correspondence.13 Wherever he lived —whether in the small house in St. James's Street or in the larger one on the Bayswater Road—he cultivated an herb garden that flattered his knowledge and ability. Connoisseurs raved about its species and considered it one of the showpieces of London. His arrogant personality alone prevented him from becoming the first of the Apothecary's Garden in Chelsea, although he was for a time superintendent to the Dowager Princess of Wales's gardens at Kensington Palace and at Kew. His interest in cultivation of herbs nevertheless continued; over the years Hill produced more than thirty botanical works, many of them devoted to the medical virtues
of rare herbs such as "Spleen-Wort." Among, these are The British Herbal (1756), On the Virtues of Sage in Lengthening Human Life (1763), Centaury, the Great Stomachic (1765), Polypody (1768), A Method of Curing Jaundice (1768), Instances of the Virtue of Petasite Root (1771), and Twenty Five New Plants (1773).14 It is therefore not surprising that he should believe a specific herb to be the best remedy for a complicated medical condition. Nor is his reference to the Ancients as authority for the herbal pacification of an inflamed spleen surprising in the light of his researches: he was convinced that every illness could be cured by taking an appropriate herb or combination of herbs. Whereas a few nonmedical writers —such as John Wesley in Primitive Physick (1747)—had advocated the taking of one or two herbs in moderate dosage as anti- hysterics (the eighteenth-century term for all cures of the hyp), no medical writer of the century ever promoted the use of herbs to the extent that Hill did. In fairness to him, it is important to note that his herbal remedies were harmless and that many found their way into the official London Pharmacopeia. "The virtues of this smooth Spleen-wort," he insists, "have stood the test of ages; and the plant every where retained its name and credit: and one of our good herbarists, who had seen a wonderful case of a swoln spleen, so big, and hard as to be felt with terror, brought back to a state of nature by it" (p. 37).15 The greatest portion of Hill's concluding section combines advertisement for the powder medicine he was himself manufacturing at a handsome profit together with a protest against competing apothecaries: "An intelligent person was directed to go to the medicinal herb shops in the several markets, and buy some of this Spleen-wort; the name was written, and shewn to every one; every shop received his money, and almost every one sold a different plant, under the name of this: but what is very striking, not one of them the right" (p. 42).
Treatises on hypochondriasis did not cease to be printed after Hill's in 1766, but continued to issue from the presses into the nineteenth century. A good example of this is the tome by John Reid, physician to the Finsbury Dispensary in London, Essays on Insanity, Hypochondriasis and Other Nervous Affections (1816), which summarizes theories of the malady.16 A bibliographical study of such works would probably reveal a larger number of titles in the nineteenth century than in the previous one, but by this time the nature and definition of hypochondria had changed significantly.
If John Hill's volume is not an important contribution in the history of medicine, it is a lucid and brief exposition of many of the best ideas that had been thought and written on the hyp, with the exception of his uninhibited prescribing of herbal medicines as cure-alls. An understanding of this disease is essential for readers of neoclassical English literature, especially when we reflect upon the fact that some of the best literature of the period was composed by writers whom it afflicted. It is perhaps not without significance that the greatest poet of the Augustan age, Alexander Pope, thought it necessary as he lay on his deathbed in May 1744 to exclaim with his last breath, "I never was hippish in my whole life."17
NOTES TO THE INTRODUCTION
Hypochondriasis: A Practical Treatise, John Hill, 1766 AD
Note: in old documents the f is used in place of the s. Correct spelling accordingly.
TO call the hypochondriasis a fanciful malady, is ignorant and cruel. It is a real, and a sad disease : an obstruction of the spleen by thickened and distempered blood ; extending itself often to the liver, and other parts; and unhappily is in England very frequent: phyfick fca-ce knov.s one more fertile in ill; or more dif-ficult of cure.
The blood is a mixture of many fluids, which, in a Bate of health, are fo combined, that the whole paffes freely through its ap-pointed veffels; but if by the lofs of the thinner parts, the reft becomes too grofs to be thus carried through, it will flop where the circulation has !cart power; and having thus Bopped it will accumulate; heaping by degrees obitruCtion on obflruCtion.
Health and chearfulness, and the quiet exercife of mind, depend upon a perfect circulation : is ita wonder then, when this be-comes impeded the body loofes of its health, and the temper of its fprightliness ? to be otherwife would be the miracle ; and he in-humanly infults the affliCted, who calls all this a voluntary frowardness. Its flighteft ftate brings with it fickness, anguifh and oppref-lion and innumerable ills follow its ad-vancing fteps, unlefs prevented by timely care ; till life itself grows burthensome.
The disease was common in antient Greece and her phyficians underflood it, better than thofe perhaps of later times, in any other country; who though happy in many advantages these fathers of the fcience could not have, yet want the great affiflance of frequent watching it in all its rages.
Thofe venerable writers have delivered its nature, and its cure :'in the firft every thing now (hews they were right ; and what they have faid as to the latter will be found equally true and certain. This, fo far as prefent experience has confirmed it, and no farther, will be here laid before the affliCted in a few plain words,
SECT. II. Persons Subject to it.
Fatigue of mind, and great exertion of its powers often give birth to this disease ; and always tend to increase it. The finer spirits are wafted by the labour of the brain : the philosopher rises from his study more exhausted than the Peasant leaves his drudgery ; without the benefit that he has from exercise. Greatness of mind, and steady virtue; determined resolution, and manly firmness, when put in action, and intent upon their object, all alfo lead to it : perhaps whatever tends to the ennobling of the foul has equal thare in bringing on this weakness of the body.
From this we n •y learn eafily who are the men moil fubjeCt to it ; the grave and fludious, thole of a fedate temper and en- larged underflanding, the learned and wife, the virtuous and the valiant : thole whom it were the intereft of the world to with were free from this and every other illness and who perhaps, except for this alloy, would have too large a portion of human happiness.
Though these are moll, it is not these alone, who are fubjei to it. There are countries where it is endemial, and in other places some have the feeds of it in their con-flitution ; and in some it takes rife from acci-dents. In these hit it is the eafieft of cure ; and in the firfl moil difficult.
Betide the Greeks already named, the Jews of old time were heavily affliCted with this disease ; and in their deseendants to this day it is often conftitutional : the Spaniards have it almoft to a man ; and fo have the American Indians. Perhaps the charaCter of these feveral nations may be conne6ted with it. The Ready honour, and firm valour of the Spaniard, very like that of the ancient Doric nation, who followed the flute not the trumpet to the field ; and met the enemy, not --ith !bouts and fury, but with a determined .irtue : it is the temper of the Hypochondriac to be flow, but un- moveably refolved : the Jew has (hewn this miflakenly, but altnofl miraculoufly ; and the poor Indian, untaught as he is, faces all peril with compofure, and Pings his death-fong with an unalter'd countenance.
Among particular persons the most inquiring and contemplative are those who suffer oftenest by this disease; and of all degrees of men I think the clergy. I do not mean the hunting, shooting, drinking clergy, who bear the tables of the great ; but the retir'd and conscientious; such as attend in midnight silence to their duty; and seek in their own cool breaths, or wheresoever else they may be found, new admonitions for an age plunged in new vices. To this disease we owe the irreparable lots of Dr. YOUNG ; and the prefent danger of many other the bell: and moil improved amongft us. May what is here to be propofed affift in their preferva-tion !
The Geometrician or the learned Philofo-pher of whatever denomination, whole courfe of fludy fixes his eye for ever on one objet, his mind intenfely and contin uallyem-ployed upon one thought, fhould be warned alto that he is in danger ; or if he find himielf already affliCteci, he fhould be told that the fame courfe of life, which brought it on, will, without due care, encreafe it to the moft dreaded violence.
The middle period of life is that in which there is the greateft danger of an attack from this disease ; and the latter end of autumn, when the fummer heats have a little time been over, is the feafon when in our climateits first affaults are molt to be expeCt-ed. The fame time of the year always in-creafes the diforder in thofe who have been before afiliCted with it ; and it is a truth mull be confeffed, that from its first at-tack the patient grows continually, though (lowly, worfe ; unlefs a careful regimen prevent it.
The conflitutions moil liable to this ob-ftruCtion are the lean, and dark complexion ed ; the grave and fedentary. Let fuch watch the firft symptotns ; and obviate, (as they may with eafe) that which it will be much more difficult to remove.
It is happy a disease, wherein the patient muff do a great deal for himfelf, falls, for the moil part, upon thofe who have the powers of reafon flrongefl. Let them only be aware of this, that the diflemper naturally difpofes them to inactivity ; and reafon will have no ufe unlefs accompanied with refolu-tion to enforce it.
Though the phyfician can do something toward the cure, much more depends upon the patient ; and here his conftancy of mind will be employed moll happily. No one is better qualified to judge on a fair hearing what courfe is the moll fit ; and having made that choice, he mull with patience wait its good effeas. Diseases that come on flowly mull have time for curing ; an attention to the firft appearances of the dif-order will be always happieft ; becaufe when leaft eflablifhed it is eafieft overthrown : but when that happy period has been ne-gle6ted, he mutt wait the effects of fuch a courfe as will dilute andmelt the obftruaing matter gradually ; for till that be done it is not only vain, but sometimes dangerous, to attempt its expulfion from the body.
The blood easily separates itself into the grosser and the thinner parts : we fee this in bleeding ; and from the toughnels of the red cake may guefs how very difficult it will be to diffolve a fubflance of like firmness in the veffels of the body. That it can thus become thickened within the body, a Pleu- rify thews us too evidently : in that cafe it is brought on fuddenly, and with inflamma-tion ; in this other, flowly and without ; and here, even before it forms the obflruaion, can bring on many mifchiefs. Various cau-fes can produce the fame effet, but that in all cafes operates moil durably, which ope-rates molt flowly. The watery part of the blood is its mild part; in the remaining gross matter of it, are acrid falts and burning oils, and these, when deflitute of that happy di-lution nature gives them in a healthy body, are capable of doing great mifchief to the tender veffels in which they are kept flag-rant.
SECT. III. The SYMPTOMS of the DISORDER.
The first and lightest of the signs that Phew this illness are a lowness of spirits, an inaptitude to motion ; a disrelish of amusements, a love of solitude and a habit of thinking, even on trifling subjects, with too much steadiness. A very little help may combat these but if that indolence which is indeed a part of the diforder, will neglect them ; worfe mull be expected loon to follow.
Wild thoughts ; a sense of fullness, weight, and oppression in the body, a want of appetite, or, what is worse, an appetite without digestion ; for these are the conditions of different slates of the disease, a fullness and a difficulty of breathing after meals, a straitness of the breast, pains and flatulencies in the bowels, and an unaptness to discharge their contents.
The pulfe becomes low, weak, and unequal ; and there are frequent palpitations of the heart, a little dark-coloured urine is voided at some times ; and a flood of colourlefs and infipid at others ; relieving for a mo-ment, but increafing the diflemper : there is in some cafes al fo a continual teazing cough, with a choaking floppage in the throat at times ; then heartburn, fickness, hardness of the belly, and a coflive habit, or a tor-menting and vain irritation.
The lips turn pale, the eyesloofe theirbright-ness and by degrees the white grows as it were greenifh, the gums want their due firmness, with their proper colour ; and an unpleafing foulness grows upon the teeth : the infide of the mouth is pale and furred, and the throat dry and hufky: the colour of the skin is pale (though there are periods when the face is florid) and as the obftrution gathers ground, and more affets the liver, the whole body becomes yellow, tawny, greenifh, and at length of that deep and dufky hue, to which men of fwift imagination have given the name of blackness.
These symptoms do not all appear in any one period of the disease, or in one cafe, but at one time or other all of them, as well as thofe which follow : the flefh becomes cold to the touch, though the patient does not himfelf perceive it ; the limbs grow numbed and torpid, the breathing dull and flow, and the voice hollow; and ufually the appetite in this period declines, and comes almoft to nothing: night fweats come on, black fwel. lings appear on the veins, the flefh wafles and the breaft becomes flat and hollow : the mouth is full of a thin fpittle, the head is dizzy and confus'd, and sometimes there is an unconquerable numbness in the organs of fpeech,
I have known the temporary filence that follows upon this WI sympton become a jell to the common herd ; and the unhappy patient, inflead of compaffion and affiftance, receive the reproof of fullenness, from thofe who fhould have known and ailed better.
About twenty years ago I met on a vifit at Catthorpe in Leicefierfhire a young gentle- man of diftinguifhed learning and abilities, who at certain times was fpeechlefs. The vulgar thought it a pretence : and a jocofe lady, where he was at tea with company, putting him as fhe Paid to a trial, poured out t difh very thong and without fugar. He drank it and returned the cup with a bow of great referve, and his eye bent on the ground : the then filled the cup with fugar, and pouring weak tea on it, fent it him : he drank that too, looked at her Beadily, and blufhed for her. The lady declared the man was dumb ; the reit thought him per-verfe, and obtlinate ; but a conftant and Beady perfeverance in an eafy method cured him.
All these are miferies which the disease, while it retains its natural form, can bring upon the patient; and thus he will in time be worn out, and led miferably, though (lowly, to the grave. Let him not in-dulge his inativity fo far as to give way to this, becaufe it is reprefented as far off; the disease may fuddenly and frightfully change its nature; and fwifter evils follow.
SECT. IV. The DANGER.
WE have done with the obilruaion confidered in itself; but this, though often unfurmountable by art, at least by the methods now in ufe, will be sometimes broken through at once by nature, or by accidents ; and bring on fatal evils. These are flrialy different diseases, and are no otherway concerned here, than as the con-fequences of that of which we are treating.
The thick and glutinous blood which has fo long it'agnated. in the spleen, will have in that t:me altered its nature, and ac- quired a very great degree of acrimony : while it lies dormant, this does no more mifchiefs, than thofe named already; but when violent excrcife, a fit of outrageous anger, or any thing elfe that fuddenly (hocks and difturbs the frame, puts it in motion, it melts at once into a kind of liquid putrefaction. Being now thin, it mixes itself readily with the blood again, and brings on putrid fevers ; deftroys the fub-fiance of the spleen itself, or being thrown upon some other of the vifcera, corrodes them, and leads on this way a fwift and miferable death. If it fall upon the liver, its tender pulpy fubflance is foon deflroyed, jaundices beyond the help of art firft follow, then dropfies and all their train of mifery ; if on lungs, confumptions ; if on the brain, convulfions, epilepfy, palfy, apoplexy ; if on the furface, leprofy.
The intention of cure is to melt this coa-gulation foftly, not to break it violently; and then to give it a very gentle paffage through the bowels. There is no fafe way for it to take but that; and even that when urged too far may bring on fatal dyfenteries.
Let none wonder at the fudden devafta-tion which sometimes arifes from this long flagnant matter, when liquified too haftily : how long, how many years the impaCted matter will continue quiet in a fchirrous tumour of the breaft ; but being once put in motion, whether from accident, or in the courfe of nature, what can defcribe; or what can clop its havock!
Inflances of the other are too frequent. A nobleman the other day died paralytick: diffe6tion fhewed a spleen confumed by an abfcefs, formed from the diffolved matter of fuch an obftru6tion and 'tis fcarce longer fince, a learned gentleman, who had been feveral years loft to his friends, by the ex-treams of a Hypochondriacal diforder, feem'd gradually without affiflance to recover : but the lungs fuffered while the spleen was freed ; and he died very foon of what is called a galloping confumption.
When the obflruaion is great and of long continuance, if it be thus haftily moved, the confequence is, equally, a fudden and a miferable death, whether, like the matter of a cancer, it remains in its place; or like that of a bad fmall pox, be thrown upon Come other vital part.
Let not the patient be too much alarmed; this is laid down to caution, not to terrify him: it is fit he fhould know his danger, and attend to it; for the prevention is eafy ; and the cure, even of the moft advanced (ages, when undertaken by gentle means, is not at all impraaicable : to aflift the phyfician, let him look into himfelf, and recollea the fource of his complaint. This he may judge of from the following no-tices.
SECT. V. The Causes of the HYPOCHONDRIASIS.
THE obflrudion which forms this disease, may take its origin from different accidents : a fever ill cured has often caufed it ; or the piles, which had been ufed to difcharge largely, ceafing ; a marftly foil, poifoned with ftagnant water, has given it to some perfons; and altho' in-dolence and inactivity are ofteneft at the root, yet it has arifen from too great exercife.
Real grief has often brought it on ; and even love, for sometimes that is real. Study and fixed attention of the mind have been 2.-..tufed before ; and add to these the ftooping pofture of thQ body, which moft men ufe, though none fhould ufe it, in writingand in reading. This hascontributed too much to it ; but of all other things night ftudies are the mot deftruaive. The heady fiillness, and dufky habit of all nature in thole hours, enforce, encourage, and fupport that fettled gloom, which rifes from fat thought; and Licks the body to the grave ; even while it carries up the mind to heaven. He who would have his lamp At midnight hour will waffle the flame of this unheeded life : and while he labours to unfphere the fpirit of Plato • will let loofe his own.
Be ften in fame high lonely tower,*
* Milton's Penferofo.
SECT. V. The Cure of the HYPOCHONDRIASIS.
LET him who would efcape the mif-chiefs of an obftruted spleen, avoid the things here named : and let him who suffers from the malady, endeavour to remem-ber to which of them it has been owing; for half the hope depends upon that know-ledge.
Nature has sometimes made a cure her-felf, and we thould watch her ways ; for art never is fo right as when it imitates her : sometimes the patient's own refolution has fet him free. This is always in his power, and at all times will do wonders.
The bleeding of the piles, from nature's single efforts, has at once cured a miserable man ; where their cessation was the caufe of the diforder. A leprofy has appeared upon the skin, and all the symptoms of the former sickness vanished. This among the Jews happened often : both diseases we know were common among them : and I have here seen something very like it : Water-Dock has thrown out scorbutic eruptions, and all the former symptons of an Hypochondriacal disorder have difappeared : returning indeed when these were unadw vifedly Bruck in ; but keeping off entirely when they were better treated. A natural purging unfuppreffed has sometimes done the fame good office : but this is hazardous.
It is eafy to be direaed from fuch inilan-ces ; only let us take the whole along with us. Bleeding would have anfwered nature's purpofe, if the could not have opened of herfelfthe hxmorrhoidal veffels ; but he who thould give medicines for that purpofe, might dettroy his patient by too great ditturbance. If a natural loofeness may perform the cure, fo may an artificial; when the original fource of the diforder points that way. But these are helps that take place only in particu-lar cafes.
The general and univerfal method of cure mull be by Come mild and gently refolving medicine, under the influence of which the obftruding matter may be voided that, or some other way with fafety. The belt feafon to undertake this is the autumn, but even here there mull be caution.
In the firft place, no ftrong evacuating re-medy mull be given ; for that, by carrying off the thinner parts of the juices, will tend to thicken the remainder ; and certainly encreafe the diftemper. No acrid medicine must be directed, for that may act too hastily, dissolve the impacted matter at once, and let it loose, to the destruction of the sufferer; no antimonial, no mercurial, no martial preparation must be taken; in short, no chymistry: nature is the shop that heaven has set before us, and we must seek our medicine there. The venerable ancients, who knew not this new art, will lead us in the fearch ; and (faithful relators as they are of truth ) will tell us whence we may deduce our hope ; and what we are to fear.
But prior to the courfe of any medicine, and as an effential to any good hope from it, the patient mull preicribe himfelf a proper courfe of life, and a well chofen diet: let u, ati-Z1 him in his choice ; and speak of this firft, as it comes firft in order.
Rules of Life for Hypochondriac Persons.
AIR and exercife, as they are the heft pre-ferversof health, and greate affiftants in the cure of all long continued diseases, will have their full effedt in this ; but there re-quires some caution in the choice, and ma-nagement of them. It is common to think the air of high grounds best; but experience near home shows otherwise : the Hypochondriac patient is always worse at Highgate even than in London.
The air he breathes should be temperate; _ not expofed to the utmoft violences of heat and cold, and the fwift changes from one to the other ; which are moil felt on thofe high grounds. The fide of a hill is the belt place for him : and though wet grounds are hurtful ; yet let there be the fhade of trees, to tempt him often to a walk ; and foften by their exhalations the over dryness of the air.
The exercife he takes fhould be frequent; but not violent Motion preferves the firm,. jiefs of the parts, and elaflicity of the veffels; it prevents that aggregation of thick hu-mours which he is molt to fear. A feden-tary life always produces weakness, and that mifchief always follows : weak eyes are gummy, weak :Lings are clogged with phlegm, and weak bowels wafte themfelves in vapid diarrhceas.
Let him invite himfelf abroad, and let his friends invite him by every innocent inducement. For me, I fhould advife above all other things the fludy of nature. Let him begin with plants : he will here find a continual pleafure, and continual change ; fertile of a thoufand ufeful things ; even of the utility we are Peeking here. This will induce him to walk; and every hedge and hillock, every foot-path fide, and thicket, will afford him some new obJect. He will be tempted to be continu-ally in the air ; and continually to change the nature and quality of the air, by vifit-ing in fucceffion the high lands and the low, the lawn, the heath, the foreft. He will never want inducement to be abroad ; and the unceafing variety of the Cubjeds of his obfervation, will prevent his walking haflily: he will purfue his fludies in the air ; and that contemplative turn of mind, which in his clofet threatened his deftruc. tion, will thus become the great means of his recovery.
If the mind tit-i! upon this, from the re-peated ufe, another of nature's kingdoms opens itself at once upon him; the plant he is weary of obferving, feeds some infect he may examine ; nor is there a lone that lies before his foot, but may afford inftruc-tion and arnufement.
Even what the vulgar call the moll abject things will Phew a wonderful utility ; and lead the mind, in pious contemplation higher than the flars. The pooreft mofs that is trampled under foot, has its important ufes : is it at the bottom of a wood we find it ? why there it fhelters the fallen feeds ; hides them from birds, and covers them from froft ; and thus becomes the fofler father of another foreft ! creeps it along the furface of a rock ? even there its good is infinite ! its fmall roots run into the Bone, and the rains make their way after them ; the mofs having lived its time dies ; it rots and with the mou?dered fragments of the Bone forms earth ; wherein, after a few fuccef-fions, ufeful plants may grow, and feed more ufeful cattle !*
Is there a weed more humble in its afpe9, more trampled on, or more defpifed than' knot grafs ! art can get the better of its growth, no labour can deftroy it; 'twerp pity if they could, for the thing lives where nothing would of ufe to us ; and its large and moll wonderfully abundant feeds, feed in hard winters, half the birds of Heaven.
What the weak mofs performs upon the rock the loathed toadflool brings about in timber : is an oak dead where man's eye will not find it ? this fungus roots itself upon the bark, and rots the wood beneath it ; hither the beetle creeps for fhelter, and for fuflenance ; him the woodpecker follows as his prey ; and while he tears the tree in fearch of him, he fcatters.it abouttheground; which it manures.
Nor is it the beetle alone that thus infi. nuates itself into the fubftance of the vege-table tribe : the tender. aphide *, whom a touch deftroys, burrows between the two fkins of a leaf, for fhPlter from his winged enemies ; tracing, with more than Dedalxam art, his various meander; and veining the green furface with these white lines more beautifully than the beft Egyptian marble. 'Twere endlefs to proceed ; nor is it need-ful : one object will not fail to lead on to another, and every where the goodness of his God will thine before him even in what are thought the vileft things ; his greatness in the leatt of them.
Let him purfue these thoughts, and Peek abroad the objeas and the inftigations to them : but let him in these and all other ex-curfions avoid equally the dews of early morning, and of evening.
The more than ufual exercife of this pre-fcription will difpofe him to more that, cultic)- teary fleep, let him indulge it freely; fo far from hurting, it will help his cure.
Let him avoid all excefres : drink need-fcarce be named, for we are writing to men of better and of nobler minds, than can be tempted to that humiliating vice. Thofe who in this diforder have too great an appe-tite, muff not indulge it ; much eaten was never well digefled : but of all exceires the molt fatal in this cafe is that of venery. It is the excefs we fpeak of.
SECT. VII. The proper DIET.
IN the firfl place acids mull be avoided carefully ; and all things that are in a Bate of fermentation, fJr they will breed acidity. Provifions hardened by fatting never should be tailed ; much lefs thofe cured by fmoak-ing, and by fatting. Bacon is indigeflible in an Hypochondriac ilomach; and hams, impregnated as is now the cuilom, with acid fumes from the wood fires over which they are hung, have that additional mifchief.
Milk ought to be a great article in the diet : and even in this there fhould be choice. The milk of grafs-fed cows has its true quality : no other. There are a multi-tude of ways in which this may be made a part both of our foods and drinks, and they thould all be ufed.
The great and general caution is that the diet be at all times of a kind loosening and gently stimulating; light but not acrid. Veal, lamb, fowls, lobsters, crabs, craw-fish, fresh water fishs and mutton broth, with plenty of boiled vegetables, are always right ; and give enough variety.
Raw vegetables are all bad: four wines, old cheefe, and bottled beer are things ne-ver to be once tatted. Indeed much wine is wrong, be it of what kind foever. It is the firft of cordials ; and as such I would have it taken in this disease when it is wanted : plainly as a medicine, rather than a part of diet. Malt liquor carefully chofen is certainly the bet drink. This muff be neither new, nor tending to fourness ; perfealy clear, and of a moderate ftrength : it is the native liquor of our country, and the molt healthful.
Too much tea weakens ; and even sugar is in this disorder hurtful but honey may supply its place in moll things ; and this is not only harmlefs but medicinal ; a very powerful diffolvent of impaaed hu-mours, and a great Lobaruent,
What wine is drank should be of some of the fweet kinds. Old Hock has been found on enquiry to yield more than ten times the acid of the fweet wines ; and in red Port, at leaf} in what we are content to call fo, there is an aftringent quality, that is molt mil-chievous in these cafes : it is faid there is often alum in it : how pregnant with mifchief that muff be to perfons whole bowels require to be kept open, is molt evi- dent. Summer fruits perfealy ripe dre not only harmlefs but medicinal ; but if eaten unripe they will be very prejudicial. A light fupper, which will leave an appetite for a milk breakfaff, is always right ; this will not let the ftomach be ravenous for dinner, as it is apt to be in thofe who make that their only meal.
One caution more muff be given, and it may Teem a flrange one : it is that the patient attend regularly to his hours of eating. We have to do with men for the molt part whofe foul is the great objea of their regard ; but let them not forget they have a body.
The late Dr. STUKELY has told me, that one day by appointment vifiting Sir ISAAC NEWTON, the fervant told him, he was in his ftudy. No one was permitted to diflurb him there ; but as it was near dinner time, the vifitor fat down to wait for him. After a time dinner was brought in ; a boil'd chicken under a cover. An hour pafs'd, and Sir IsAAc did not appear. The donor eat the fowl, and covering up the empty dial, bad them drefs their mafter another. Be-fore that was ready, the great man came down ; he apologiz'd for his delay, and added, " give me but leave to take my fhort " dinner, and I (hall beat your fervice ; I am fatigued and faint." Saying this, he lifted up the cover ; and without any emotion, turned about to STUKELY with a fmile "I See says he, what we ftudious people are, I forgot I had din'd."
SECT. VIII. The MEDICINE.
ITI S the ill fate of this disease, more than of all others to be mifunderftood at &II, and thence negleaed; till the phyfician (hakes his head at a few firft queilions. None fteals fo fatally upon the fufferer: its advances are by very flow degrees; but every day it grows more dif-ficult of cure.
That this obstruction in the spleen is the true malady, the cases related by the ancients, prefent obfervation, and the unerring teflimonies of diffedions leave no room to doubt. Being underflood, the path is open where to feek a remedy : and our beft guides in this, as in the former in. thrice, will be thofe venerable Greeks; who faw a thoufand of these cafes, where we fee one ; and with lets than half our theory, cured twice as many patients.
One eftablifhed doarine holds place in All these writers ; that whatever by a hafty fermentation diffolves the impaaed matter of the obftruaion, and fends it in that Elate into the blood, does incredible mifchief: but that whatever medicine foftens it by flow degrees, and, ls it melts, delivers it to the bowels without difturbance ; will cure with equal certainty and fafety.
For this good purpofe, they knew and tried a multitude of herbs; but in the end they fixed on one : and on their re-peated trials of this, they banifhed all the refl. This flood alone for the cure of the disease ; and from i:s virtue received the name of SPLEEN-WORT*. 0 wife and happy Greeks ! authors of knowledge and perpe-tuators of it! With them the very name they save a plant declared its virtues: with us, a writer calls a plant from some friend; that
the good gardener who receives the honour, may call another by his name who gave it. We now add the term finooth to this herb, to diftinguifh it from another, called by the fame general term, though not much re. fembling it.
The virtues of this fmooth Spleen-wort have flood the teft of ages ; and the plant every where retained its name and credit : and one of our good herbarifts, who had Peen a won-derful cafe of a fwoln spleen, fo big, and hard as to be felt with terror, brought back to a date of nature by it; and all the mtferable symptoms vani(h; thought Spleen-wort not enough expreflive of its excellence ; but itamp'd on it the name of MILT-WASTE.
In the Greek Iflands now, the ufe of it is known to every one ; and even the lazy monks who take it, are no longer fplenetic. In the weft of England,the rocks are ftripped of it with diligence ; and every old woman tells you how charming that leaf is for bookifh men : in Rufiia they ufe a plant of this kind in their malt liquor : it came into fa(hion there for the cure of this dif- cafe ; which from its conflant ufe is fcarce known any longer ; and they fuppofe 'tis added to their liquor for a flavour.
The antientsheld it in a kind of veneration ; and ufed whathas been calleda fuperftition in the gathering it. It was to be taken up with a (harp knife, without violence, and laid upon the clean linen : no time but the dill dark-ness of the night was proper, and even the moon was not to thine upon it *. I know they have been ridiculed for this ; for no-thing is fo vain as learned ignorance : but let me be permitted once to vindicate them.
The plant has leaves that can clofe in their fides ; and their under part is covered thick with a yellow powder,confifting of the feeds, and feed veffels: in these they knew the virtue molt refided : this was the golden duili-they held fo valuable; and this they knew they could not be too cautious to preferve. They were not ignorant cf the sleep of plants; a mat-ter lately fpoken of by some, as if a new dif-covery; and being fenfible that light, a dry air, an expanded leaf, and a tempeftuous feafon, were the means of lofing this fine duct ; and knowing alfo that darkness alone
• Silente Luna. fi Pulvis Aureus.
brought on that clofing of the leaf which thence has been called sleep; and which help-ed to defend and to fecure it, they therefore took fuch time, and ufed fuch means as could belt preferve the plant entire ; .and even fave what might be fcattered from it. —And now where is their fuperitition ?
From this plant thus colleted they pre-pared a medicine, which in a courfe of forty days fcarce ev-er failed to make a perfect cure.
We have the plant wild with us ; and till the fafhion of rough chemical prepara-tions took off our attention from these gentler remedies, it was in frequent ufe and great repute. I truft it will be fo again : and many thank me for reftoring it to no-tice.
Spleen -wort gives out its virtues freely in a tincture ; and a fmall dofe of this, mixing readily with the blood and juices, gradually diffolves the obttruaion ; and by a little at a time delivers its contents to be thrown off without pain, from the bowels. Let this be done while the vifcera arc yet found and the cure is perfet. More than the forty days of the Greek methOd is fcarce ever required ; much oftener two thirds of that time fuffice ; and every day, from the firft dole of it, the patient feels the hap-pychange that is growing in his confti- tution. His food no more turns putrid on his flomach, but yields its healthful nourifh-ment. The fwelling after meals therefore vanifhes ; and with that goes the lowness, and anxiety, Eie difficult breath, and the dif-trading cholick : he can bear the approach of rainy weather without pain ; he finds himfelf more apt for motion, and ready to take that exercife which is to be afliftant in his cure : life Teems no longer burthen-some. His bowels get into the natural condi-tion of health, and perform their office once at leaft a day ; better if a little more : the dull and dead colour of his &in goes off, his lips grow red again, and every fign of health returns.
Let him who takes the medicine, fay whether any thing here be exaggerated: Let him, if he pleafes to give himfelf the trouble, talk over with me, or write to me, this gradual decreafe of his complaints, as he proceeds in his cure. 1\Ty uncertain ilate
of health does not permit me to praaife phyfic in the ufual way, but am very de-firous to do what god I can, and (hall lever refute my advice, fuck as it may be, to any perfon rich or poor, in whatever manner he may apply for it. I (hail refer him to no apothecary, whofe bills require he fhould be drenched with potions ; but tell him, in this as in all other cafes, where to find, tome Pimple herb ; which he may if he pleafe prepare himfelf; or if he had rather fpare that trouble, may have it fo prepared from me.
With regard to Spleen-wort, no me!. thod of ufing it is more effe&ual than limp-ly taking it in powder ; theonry advantage of a tine( re, is that a proper dole may be given, and yet the flomacli not be loaded with fo large a quantity : it is an caller and pleafanter method, and nothing more.
If any perfop. A Hill to take it in the other . way, I fhoulill wifh lum once at leaft to apply to me; Fiat he may be affured what he is about to take is' the right plant. Abufes in medicines are at this time very great, and in noinflance worfe than . what relates to herbs. The bell of our phyficians have complained upon this head with warmth,
but without redrefs: they know the virtues and the value of many of our native plants, but dread to prefcribe them ; left some wrong thing fhould be adminiflered in their place ; perhaps inefficacious, perhaps mifchievous, nay it may be fatal. The few fimple things I direct are always before me ; and it will at all times he a pleafure to me, in this and. any other inflance, to fee whether what any perfon is about to take be right. I have great obligations to the public, and this is the heft return that I know how to make.
To fee the need of fuch a caution, hear a tranfaaion but of yefterday ! An intelligent perfon was direted to go to the medicinal herb (hops in the feveral markets, and buy some of this Spleen-wort ; the name was. written, and (hewn to every one ; every limp received his money, and almoft every one fold a different plant, under the name of this : but what is very ftriking, not one of them the right. Such is the chance of health in thofe hands through which the befl means of it ufually pafs ; even in the moll regular course of application.
I would not be underftood tolimit the little Cervices I may this way be able to render
the affii6ted, tothisfingle inftance; much lefs to propofe to myfelf any advantages from it. `Whoever pleafes will be welcome to me, upon any fuch occafion ; and whatever be the herb on which he places a dependance, he !hall be (hewn it growing. I once recom-mended a garden to be eftablifhed fbr this ufe, at the public expence: one great perfca has put it in my power to anfwer all its purpofes.
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