« PreviousContinue »
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 or 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 re. moved 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 re. member, 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 increased, as much as theirs to whom I mentioned them : nor could 1, without great variety and evidence of facts, ever have been induced to suspect, that, in all sorts of ailments whatsoever, it might relieve or cure, which at first sight may seem incredible and unaccountable ; buton maturer thought will perhaps appear to agree with, and follow from, the nature of things. For it is to be noted, that the general notion of a disease seemeth to consist in this, that what is taken in, is not duly assimilated by the force of the animal economy; therefore it should seem whatever assists the vis vitæ may be of general use in all diseases, enabling nature either to assimilate or discharge all unsubdued humours and particles whatso
But the light or ether detained on the volatile oil, which impregnates tar water, being of the same nature with the animal spirit, is an accession of so much strength to the constitution, which it assists to assimilate or expel whatever is alien or noxioụs.