Reflections and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water
George Berkeley
(Bishop of church)
1744 AD
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  1. In 1744 AD, George Berkeley, Bishop of the church at Cloyne, hailed the use of drinking the distilled acid of tar (turpentine) that became known as "Tar Water". It cured almost everything, including of insanity (hysteria). "A cure for foulness of blood, ulceration of bowels, lungs, consumptive coughs, pleurisy peripheumony, erysipelas, asthma, indigestion, cachectic and hysteric cases [insanity], gravel, dropsy, and all inflammations." He learned about this cure from the American Narragansett Indians. You mixed tar with water then after a few days, you skim off the clear liquid and drink several cups per day. Even John Wesley, founder of Methodism, raved about its successes in curing disease. It became so common that you could order "Tar-Water" in the local taverns. By 1830, turpentine was injected into the bladder though an "elastic gum catheter" and the patient was told to hold off as long as possible before peeing it out. "Turpentine pills" were also ingested into the stomach. (Reflections and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water, George Berkeley, 1744 AD)
  2. "Suffering a goods deal from nervous colic -toward the end of his life, and having received benefit from the use of tar-water, he wrote a treatise (1744) its virtues, on which he said he had bestowed more, pains than on any of his works. His last book, published (1752) but a few months before his death, was "Further Thoughts on Tar-water". Whatever other people may have thought of the efficacy of tar, (and we know by the advertisements that this remedy is largely believed in by people of our own time) there is no doubt that the Bishop had great faith indeed he owned that he regarded it as a panacea. Swift, in his "Bouts Rimes," refers to it: "Let nobles toast in bright champagne Nymphs higher born than Domitilia; I'll drink her health, again, again, In Berkeley's tar or sars' parilla." In case any of our readers would like to know, the-method of preparing Berkeley's panacea, we; give them .the following, extract tram a letter written in, May, 1744: "The Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland, has published a book of two shillings price, upon the excellencies of tar-water, which is to keep ye bloud in due order, and a great remedy in many cases. His way of making it is to put, I think, a gallon of water to a quart of tar, and after stirring it together, to let it stand forty-eight hours, and then pour off the clear and drink a glass of about half a pint in ye morning, and as much at five in ye afternoon, so it's become common to call for glass of tar-water in a coffee-house as a dish of tea or coffee." We may close our notice of Tar-water with the following extract from one of the papers of that day: "Who shall deride what pious Cloyne has done, The Church shall rise and vindicate her son; She tells us -all her Bishops shepherds are, and shepherds treat their rotten sheep with tar.". -Temple Bar. (The New York Times, April 9, 1882)
  3. "Treatment of Catarrhus Vesicae by Injections of Tar Water, In a late French periodical, some cases are published from the records of the hospitals for 1829 and 1830, during the attendance of the late Professor Dupuytren, in which injections of tar water were successfully administered in catarrhus vesicae, along with pills of turpentine. The tar water was made by infusing in the cold, for a night, a pound of tar in ten pounds of spring water, filtering and warming before using it. Large quantities of this were injected [into the bladder] through an elastic gum catheter, which was forthwith withdrawn and the patient directed to retain it as long as possible. The injection was repeated daily. The Venice Turpentine was administered internally after the following form:—R. Terebinthin. 3 i. Pulv. cujusvis, q. s. Fiant piluls 40. Ten of these were given in the day,—the number being gradually diminished." (American Medical Intelligencer, Robley Dunglison, 1838 AD, p 311"

Reflections and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water, George Berkeley, 1744 AD

"A cure for foulness of blood, ulceration of bowels, lungs, consumptive coughs, pleurisy peripheumony, erysipelas, asthma, indigestion, cachectic and hysteric cases, gravel, dropsy, and all inflammations." (The works of George Berkeley, Vol 2, 1871 p 4)

"Tar-Water And Bishop George Berkeley: In 1734 Berkeley returned to Ireland, as Bishop of Cloyne, where he remained for eighteen years. The misfortunes of Ireland led to the publication of the Querist, in 1735 to 1737, which contained sound political economy that anticipated David Hume and Adam Smith. He opened a distillery for the concoc- tion of tar-water, whose invigorating and curative properties he had learned from the Narragansett Indians in America, and in 1744 published Siris: a chain of philosophical reflections and inquiries concerning the virtues of tar-water. ... Two letters from the Right Reverend Dr. George Berkeley, Lord Bishop of Cloyne. The one [i.e., the third] to Thomas Prior, Esq., concerning the usefulness of tar-water in the plague. (Wherein also it is considered, whether tar-water, prepared with the distilled acid of tar, should be preferred to that made in the common way, by mixing tar with water, and stirring them together.) The other to the Rev. Dr. Hales on the benefit of tar-water in fevers, for cattle as well as the human species. Published at his lordship 's desire, on occasion of the present distemper among the cattle, and for the general good of mankind. Dublin printed, Lond. reprinted, W. Innys, C. Hitch, M. Cooper, and C. Davis, 1747. 36p. 0" (A bibliography of George Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne. Compiled by H. Ralph Mead, reference librarian. / Mead, Herman Ralph, 1873)



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