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as a powerful diaphoretic and sudorific, when given warm and in great quantities. Add to this, that it frequently throws out postules and ulcers, and is apt to terminate the worst of fevers by an irruption of boils in various parts of the body; that it raises the spirits, is a great alexipharmacum and cordial, and must therefore be of the greatest use in malignant cases.
In cachexy, scurvy, gout, as well as in the close of fevers, I have often known tar water cause troublesome eruptions or boils (the very method taken by nature in casting forth the venom of the plague) to break out in the surface of the body, expelling the morbific humours, the cause and relics of the disease, to the signal benefit of the patients; except such who, being frightened at the symptoms, have supposed the tar water to produce those humours which it only drives out, and in consequence of such their groundless suspicion, laid it aside, or perhaps took other medicines to hinder its effect, and thereby deprived themselves of the benefit they might otherwise have received.
In the plague are observed head-ache, drowsiness, anxiety, vigils, sinking of spirits, and weakness, for all which tar water hath been found an effectual remedy. Bloody urine and spitting blood, which are also dangerous symptoms observed in the plague, have been often removed by the same medicine, which from numberless experiments I have found to be peculiarly fitted for purifying and strengthening the blood, and for giving it a due consistence, as well as a proper motion.
In the plague, pleurisies are esteemed mortal symptoms, and in the cure of these I never knew tar water fail, if given warm in bed, a pint or more an hour, though the patient was neither bled nor blistered. The carbuncles and spots which shew themselves in the plague are of a gangrenous nature, tending to mortification. And gangrenes I have known effectually cured by copious drinking of tar water.
An erysipelas, which sheweth a degree of malignity nearest to the plague, is easily cured by plentiful drinking of tar water. I knew a person, who had been six weeks ill of an erysipelas under the care of a celebrated physician, during which time she struggled with many dangerous symptoms, and hardly escaped with life. This person was a year after seized again in the same manner, and recovered in a week, by the sole use of tar water. Costiveness is reckoned a very hopeful prognostic in the plague; and it is also a symptom which often attends the drinking of tar water, when it throws out the venom of a distemper through the skin.
Diseases of the same season generally bear some affinity to each other in their nature and their cure; and it may not be improper on this occasion to observe, that the reigning distemper of the black cattle hath been often cured by tar water, and would (I am persuaded) have done much less mischief, if the practice had been general, to have given each distempered beast three gallons the first, two the second, and one the third day, in warm doses (from a pint to a quart), and at equal intervals.
Diemerbroeck recommends in the first appearance of a plague the use of sudorifics, putting the patient to bed, and covering him warm, till a copious sweat be raised, the very method I constantly follow in the beginning of fevers, using no other medicine than tar water, which, after numberless experiments, I take to be the best sudorific that is known, inasmuch as it throws out the morbific miasma, without either heating the patient or weakening him, the common effects of other sudorifics, whereas this, at the same time that it allays the feverish heat, proves a most salutary cordial, giving great and lasting spirits.
Upon the whole, I am sincerely persuaded, that for cure of the plague there cannot be a better method fol
a lowed, more general for use, more easy in practice, and
more sure in effect, than to cover the patient warm in bed, and to make him drink every hour one quart of warm tar water, of such strength as his stomach is able to bear; a thing not so impracticable as it may seem at first sight, since I have known much more drank in fevers, even by children, and that eagerly and by choice, the distemper calling for drink, and the ease it gave encouraging to go on. This for the cure; but I con
I ceive that one quart per diem may suffice for prevention ; especially if there be added an even temper of mind, and an exact regimen, which are both highly useful against the plague. For carbuncles and buboes I would recommend a liniment of the oil of tar, or a plaster of pitch mixed with tar, which last was used by the vulgar in the Dutch plague described by Diemerbroeck.
It has pleased Divine Providence to visit us not long since, first with famine, then with the sword; and if it shall please the same good Providence yet farther to visit us for our sins, with the third and greatest of human woes, this, by God's blessing, is the course I mean to take for myself and family; and if generally practised, it would, I doubt not (under God), save the lives of many thousands; whereof being persuaded in my own mind, both from the many trials I have made of tar water, and the best judgment and reasonings I could form thereupon, I think myself obliged to declare to the world what I am convinced of myself.
And I am the rather moved to this by the great uncertainty and disagreement among physicians, in their methods of treating the plague. Diemerbroeck, for instance, a physician of great experience in the Dutch plague that raged about eighty years ago, dissuades by all means from bleeding in that distemper. On the other hand, Sydenham recommends what the other disapproves.' If we believe Dr. Sydenham, the free use of wine, as a preservative, hath thrown many into the
plague, who otherwise might have escaped. Dr. Willis on the contrary avers, that he knew many, who being well fortified by wine, freely entered amongst the infected, witbout catching the infection.
Bleeding cools, but at the same time weakens nature. Wine gives spirits, but heats withal. They are both therefore to be suspected, whereas tar water cools without weakening, and gives spirits without heating, a sure indication of its sovereign virtue in all inflammatory and malignant cases, which is confirmed by such numbers of instances, that matter of fact keeps pace (at least) with reason and argument in recommending this medicine.
Plagues as well as fevers are observed to be of different kinds; and it is observed of fevers, that, as they change their genius in different seasons, so they must be treated differently, that very method that succeeded in one season often proving hurtful in another. Now it is very remarkable, that tar water has been known to vary its working, and wonderfully adapt itself to the particular case of the patient, a thing I frequently have experienced
Last spring two children, a boy and a girl, the former ten years old, the latter eight years old, were seized with fevers; the boy had an inflammation in his breast. In less than two hours they drank each about five quarts of warm tar water, which wrought them very differently, the girl as an emetic, the boy as a gentle purge, but both alike immediately recovered, without the use of any other medicine: of this I was an eye-witness, and I have found by frequent experience, that the best way is, to let this medicine take its own course, not hindered nor interrupted by any other medicines ; and this being observed, I never knew it to fail so much as once, in above a hundred trials in all sorts of fevers.
Nevertheless there are not wanting those who would insinuate, that tar water made in the common way con
tains noxious oils or particles of tar, which render it dangerous to those who drink it, a thing contrary to all my experience. This was the old objection made by those who opposed it from the beginning. But I am convinced by innumerable trials, that tar water is so far from doing hurt by any caustic or fiery quality, that it is on the contrary a most potent medicine for the allaying of heat, and curing of all inflammatory distempers. The perpetual returning to the same objection makes it necessary to repeat the same answer.
And yet, some who are not afraid to argue against experience, would still persuade us that the common tar water is a dangerous medicine, and that the acid freed from the volatile oil is much more safe and efficacious: but I am of opinion, that being robbed of its fine volatile oil (which neither sinks to the bottom nor floats at the top, but is throughout and intimately united with it, and appears to the eye only in the colour of tar water); being robbed, I say, of this oil, it is my opinion it can be no cordial, which opinion (not to mention the reason of the thing) I ground on my own experience, having observed that the most acid water is the least cordial, so far am I from imputing the whole virtue to the acid, as some seem to think.
It seems not very reasonable to suppose, that the caustic quality of tar warer (if such there was) should be removed or lessened by distillation, or that a still should furnish a cooler and better medicine than that which is commonly prepared by the simple affusion and stirring of cold water. However the ends of chemists or distillers may be served thereby, yet it by no means seemeth calculated for the benefit of mankind in general, to attempt to make people suspect, and frighten them from the use of a medicine, so easily and so readily made, and every where at hand, of such approved and known safety, and at the same time recommended by cures the most extraordinary, on persons of all sexes and ages, in such