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1. Your attention to whatever promotes the public good of your country, or the common benefit of mankind, having engaged you in a particular inquiry concerning the virtues and effects of tar water, you are entitled to know, what farther discoveries, observations, and reflections, I have made on the subject.
2. Tar water, in the several editions of Siris, hath been directed to be made by stirring three, four, five, or six minutes, a gallon of water and a quart of tar. But although it seem best made, for general use, within those limits, yet the stomach of the patient is the best rule, whereby to direct the strength of the water; with a little more stirring, six quarts of good tar water may be made from one of tar ; and with eight minutes stirring, I have known a gallon of tar water produced from second-hand tar, which proved a good remedy in a very bad fever, when better tar could not be had. For the use of travellers, a tar water may be made very strong, for instance, with one quart of water, and a quart of tar, stirred together for the space of five minutes. A bottle of this may serve long on a road, a little being put to each glass of common water, more or less, as you would have it stronger or weaker. Near two years ago, a quart of about this strength was given to an old woman, to be taken at one draught by direction of a young lady, who had consulted one in my family, about the method of preparing and giving tar water, which yet she happened to mistake. But even thus, it did service in the
main, though it wrought the patient violently all manner of ways: which shews, that errors and excesses in tar water, are not so dangerous, as in other medicines.
3. The best tar I take to be that which is most liquid, or first running from the billets of fir or pine, which grew on the mountains: it hath a greater share of the antiscorbutic vegetable juices, which are contained not only in the leaves and tender tops, but in all parts of the wood; and these, together with the salts of woodsoap, being in the composition of tar superadded to turpentine, render tar water a medicine, if I am not mistaken, much more extensive and efficacious, than any that can be obtained from turpentine alone.
4. The virtues of the wood juices shew themselves in spruce-beer, made of molasses, and the black sprucefir in the northern parts of America ; and the young shoots of our common spruce-fir have been put to malt liquor in my own family, and make a very wholesome drink.
5. Tar water seldom fails to cure, or relieve, when rightly made of good tar, and duly taken. I say, of good tar, because the vile practice of adulterating tar, and of selling the dregs of tar, or used tar for fresh, is grown frequent, to the great wrong of those who take it. Whoever hath been used to good tar water, can readily discern the bad by its flat taste, void of that warm cordial quality found in the former ; it may also be expedient for knowing fresh tar, to observe, whether a fat oily scum floats on the top of the water, which is found to be much less, if any at all, on the second making of tar water. This scum was directed to be taken out, not from its being apt to do harm when drank, but to render the tar water more palatable to nice stomachs. Great quantities of tar are produced in Germany, Italy, and other parts of the world. The different qualities or virtues of these, it may be worth while to try, and I wish the trial were made principally by observing, which
giveth most sense of a lively cordial spirit upon drinking the water.
6. This medicine of tar water worketh various ways, by urine, by perspiration, as a sudorific, carminative, cardiac, astringent, detergent, restorative, alterative, and sometimes as a gentle purgative or emetic, according to the case or constitution of the patient, or to the quantity that is taken ; and its operation should not be disturbed. I knew two brothers ill of a fever about the same time; it wrought on the one by copious sweating, on the other altogether by urine; and I have known it to act at different times differently, even on the same person, and in the same disorder; one while as a diaphoretic, or sudorific, another as a diuretic. Its general character is diuretic, which shews, that it cleanseth the urinary passages, preventing thereby both stone and gravel, against which it hath been found very useful, and much safer than mineral waters, by reason of its balsamic healing quality.
7. Tar water doth recover and impart vital heat, but imparts no inflaming heat. I have seen a wonderful cure wrought on a child about eight years old, and past all hopes, by pouring several spoonfuls of tar water down his throat, as he lay quite subdued by a most violent fever, without any appearance of sense or motion, the nostrils drawn back, the eyes fixed, the complexion deadly wan. And yet tar water, forced down by spoonfuls, seemed to kindle up life a-new; and this after sage-tea, saffron, milk-water, Venice treacle, &c. had been used without any success.
8. This is of itself a sufficient cordial, friendly and congenial to the vital heat and spirits of a man. If therefore strong liquors are in the accustomed quantity superadded, the blood being already, by tar water, sufficiently warmed for vital heat, the strong liquors superadded will be apt to overheat it, which overheating is not to be imputed to the tar water, since, taken
alone, I could never observe it attended with that symptom.
9. And though it may be no easy matter to persuade such as have long indulged themselves in the free use of strong fermented liquors and distilled spirits, to forsake their pernicious habits, yet I am myself thoroughly persuaded, that in the weakness or fatigue of body, or in low spirits, tar water alone doth far surpass all those vulgarly-esteemed cordials, which heat and intoxicate, and which coagulate the fluids, and, by their caustic, force, dry up, stiffen, and destroy, the fine vessels and fibres of the unhappy drinkers, obstructing the secretions, impairing the animal functions, producing various disorders, and bringing on the untimely symptoms of old age. Nothing doth so much obstruct the good effects of tar water, as the abuse of strong liquors. Where this is avoided, it seems no chronical malady can keep its ground, or stand before tar water constantly and regularly taken, not even hereditary distempers, as the most inveterate king's evil, nor even the most confirmed gout ; provided it be drank a quart a day, at six or eight glasses, and at all seasons, both in and out of the fit, and that for a great length of time, the longer the better. It is to be noted, that in fits of the gout, cholic, or fever, it should be always drank
On other occasions, warm or cold, as the patient likes.
10. The inference I make is, that those who expect health from tar water, have less need of any other cordial, and would do well to sacrifice some part of their pleasure to their health. At the same time I will venture to affirm, that a fever produced either from hard drinking, or any other cause, is most effectually and speedily subdued, by abstaining from all other cordials, and plentifully drinking of tar water ; for it warms the cold, and cools the hot; simple water may cool, but this, at the saine time that it cools, gives life and spirit.