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It is, in truth, a specific for all kinds of fevers; the same medicine, which is a leisurely alterative in chronical disorders, being taken in larger quantities, is a speedy cure in acute ones.
11. Those who, without knowledge or experience of tar water, have been so active and earnest to discredit its virtues, have much to answer for, especially with regard to acute inflammatory distempers, in which it doth wonders. It is in those disorders, so fatal and frequent, that I have had most opportunities of observing its virtues, nor can the world ever know the just value of this medicine, but by trying it in the like cases.
12. When patients are given over, and all known methods fail, it is allowed to try new remedies. If tar water was tried in such cases, I do verily believe, that many patients might thereby be rescued from the jaws of death : particularly, I would recommend the trial of it, in the most malignant and desperate fevers or small-pox, attended with purple, livid, or black spots. sincere opinion, that warm tar water, drank copiously, may often prove salutary, even in those deplorable cases.
13. My opinion is grounded on its singular virtues in correcting, sweetening, and invigorating, the blood, and in curing cancers and gangrenes, or beginning mortifications, such as those spots do indicate. I have lately known it drunk with good success in a very painful and unpromising wound; and am persuaded, that if it were drank plentifully, during the dressing of all sorts of dangerous wounds, it might assuage the anguish, and forward the cure ; as it abates feverish symptoms, and by rendering the blood balsamic, and disposing the parts to heal, prevents a gangrene.
14. Tar itself is an excellent medicine, being spread on a cloth, and applied warm to an ulcer or wound. I have known the same applied to a very large and painful tumour, caused by a sprain or bruise, speedily assuage the pain, and reduce the swelling. I may add, that tar
It is my
(mixed with honey to make it less offensive, and) taken inwardly, is an admirable balsam for the lungs; and a
; little of this, taken together with tar water, hastens its effect in curing the most obstinate and wasting coughs; and an egg-shell full of tar, swallowed and washed down with a quart of tar water, night and morning, hath been found very useful for the same disorder in horses.
15. Sitting over the vapour of the heated lotion, described in my former letter, is excellent in the case of piles or fistula ; especially if fomenting with the same lotion be added, as also anointing with the oil scummed from the top of tar water. Tar water hath been snuffed up the nostrils, with good success, for a great heaviness of the head and drowsiness. It is a very useful wash for weak, dry, or itching eyes : an excellent preservative for the teeth and gums; also a good drink and gargle for a throat: I may add, that I have known it succeed in cases where it has been tried without hopes of success, particularly in deafness. I have known life sustained many days together, only by drinking of tar water, without any other nourishment, and without any remarkable diminution of strength and spirit ; it may therefore be of singular use, and save many lives in the distress of famine at sea, or in sieges, and in seasons of great scarcity. The virtue of tar water, flowing like the Nile,* from a secret and occult cause, brancheth into innumerable channels, conveying health and relief, wherever it is applied ; nor is it more easy and various in its use, than copious in quantity. How great havoc, nevertheless, is made by the small-pox, raging like a plague, in New England, and other parts of America, which yet abound with tar ! And how many thousand sailors, in all parts of the world, are rotting by the scurvy with their remedy at hand!
* The Nile was by the ancient Egyptians called Siris, which word also signifies, in Greek, a chain, though not so commonly used as Sira.
16. Many in this town of Cloyne have, by the copious drinking of tar water alone, been recovered of the most violent fevers, attended with the most threatening symptoms, and much heightened by relapses from mismanagement.
It would be tedious to enumerate all the cases of this kind, which have happened at Cloyne, and in my own family; where many fevers, pleuritic as well as others, attended with violent stitches, difficulty of breathing, and spitting of blood, have been cured by tar water: and this I can with truth affirm, that I never knew it regularly tried, in any inflammatory case, without success : but then it must be given in bed warm, and very copiously, with all due caution against cold, noise, and improper diet.
. 17. I have often observed, when a patient, on the first attack of a fever, hath betaken himself to his bed, and drank tar water regularly and constantly, that he hath had such favourable symptoms, so good appetite, and so sound sleep, that the fever passed almost as nothing ; nor was to be distinguished otherwise than by a quickness of pulse, a little feverish heat, and thirst. The more that patients in a fever drink, the better they find themselves ; and their liking to tar water grows with
; their want of it, by a certain instinct or dictate of nature ; insomuch that I have known children in very high fevers, who, at other times, could hardly be prevailed on to drink a single glass, drink six or eight in an hour.
18. I can truly affirm that for the cases within my own observation, inflammatory acute distempers cured by tar water, have been, at least, ten times the number of any other. These indeed oftenest occur, as causing the chief destruction and general ravage of mankind : who are consequently debarred from the principal use and benefit of this medicine so long as they give ear to the suggestions of those, who, without any experience thereof, would persuade them, it is of a heating or
inflaming nature; which suggestion, as I am convinced myself, by long and manifold experience, that it is absolutely false, so may all others also be sufficiently convinced of its falsehood, by the wonderful fact attested by a solemn affidavit of Captain Drape, at Liverpool ; whereby it appears, that of 170 negroes seized at once by the small-pox on the coast of Guinea, one only died, who refused to drink tar water ; and the remaining 169, all recovered by drinking it, without any other medicine, notwithstanding the heat of the climate, and the incommodities of the vessel. A fact so well vouched must, with all unbiassed men, outweigh the positive assertions of those, who have declared themselves adversaries of tar water, on the score of its pretended heating or inflaming quality.
19. The skill and learning of those gentlemen, in their profession, I shall not dispute ; but yet it seems strange, that they should without experience pronounce at once concerning the virtues of tar water, and ascribe to it pernicious qualities, which I, who have watched its workings and effects for years together, could never discover. These three last years I have taken it myself without one day's intermission ; others in my family have taken it near the same time, and those of different ages and sexes ; several in the neighbourhood have done as much, all without any injury, and much benefit.
20. It is to be noted, the skin and the belly are antagonists; that is, the more passeth by perspiration, the less will pass another way. Medicines therefore, which cause the patient to perspire, will be apt to make him costive. Therefore, when tar water worketh much by perspiration, the body may chance to be bound. But such symptom, though it should be attended with a little more than ordinary warmth, need not be dreaded by the patient; it being only a sign, that his cure is carried on by driving the peccant matter through the skin ; which is one of the ways whereby tar water worketh
its effect. And when this effect of cure is wrought, the body of itself returneth to its former natural state ; and if some have been bound in their bodies, I have known others affected in a contrary manner, upon drinking tar water, as it hath happened to operate either in the shape of a diaphoretic, or of a gentle opening medicine. I have even known a costive habit more than once removed by it, and that when the case was inveterate, and other methods had failed.
21. I mentioned the foregoing article, upon calling to mind, that two or three patients had, for a time, complained of a binding quality in tar water. I likewise remember, that one in a high degree of the scurvy was discouraged from the use of tar water, by its having caused an uneasy itching all over his body. But this was a good symptom, which shewed the peccant humours to be put in motion, and in a fair way of being discharged through the skin.
22. A humour or flatus put in motion, and dislodged from one part, often produceth new pains in some other part ; and an efficacious medicine, as it produceth a change in the economy, may be attended with some uneasiness, which yet is not to be accounted a distemper, but only an effect or symptom of the cure.
23. The salts of tar water have nothing of the fiery and corrosive nature of lixivial salts produced by the incineration of the subject; they not being fixed salts, made by the extreme force of fire, but volatile salts, such as pre-existed in the vegetable, and would have ascended in smoke, if not prevented by the sods or covering of the billet piles. This, though already hinted in Siris, and plain from the manner of making tar, I have thought fit to repeat and inculcate, because, if duly attended to, it may obviate suspicions about tar water, proceeding only from an ignorance of its nature.
24. Every step that I advanced in discovering the virtues of tar water, my own wonder and surprise in