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the history from a distant period, being convinced that the physical life of every individual consists of a series of phenomena, none of which are absolutely insulated and independent; that each occurrence is a sort of consequence of those which have preceded, and is closely linked to those which are to follow. Thus the disease which ultimately proves fatal often shows itself in early life, and might perhaps be traced by an attentive observer even to the first periods of existence. It "grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength." We have an infinite number of histories of diseases, that is, of solitary attacks or single illnesses. But the histories of a diseased life, so that we may see at a single view the order and succession of events, are rare and very imperfect. To proceed, however, with my narrative.
August 9th, 1813. A physician, in the forty-ninth year of his age, passed the first eighteen years of his life without disease. But there were some peculiarities of constitution, which were observable at this time. He could never bear with ease a strong light, and the whole head was more than commonly tender. At eight years old he received, by a fall from a horse, a severe wound in the forehead. The cicatrix of this wound was always so tender, that he could never afterward bear the pressure of the edge of a hat upon it; on which account, he always wore the hat close upon the eyes. He was of a lax fibre, with a feeble pulse, thin, pale, delicate, and with very light hair.
At about eighteen, he began to have many pimples over the face, neck, shoulders, and breast; and these continued unremittingly upward of twenty years, being very troublesome-, producing considerable deformity, and most of them, after suppuration, leaving pits in the skin. About the same time, too, he began to have some trifling uneasy feelings of the stomach, and slight dyspeptic symptoms.
At the age of twenty-four or five, he was often seized with sudden lameness, not very violent, and lasting only a short time. He was told by a very old sufferer from gout, that these lamenesses portended severe attacks of that disease. However, they left him before the age of twenty-eight, and they have only been brought to his recollection by subsequent events.
He arrived, however, at the age of thirty-two or three, without any serious or dangerous illness. He was dyspeptic, had often sick headaches, the eyes impatient of light, and bad sometimes slight lumbago or rheumatism. But he had no confinement nor violent attacks. On exposure to cold, or other occasions of disease, the stomach was the principal sufferer. With coughs or colds he was almost unacquainted.
About the period above mentioned, he perceived a degree of confusion about the head; reading caused a degree of dizziness, so that intellectual exertion or study, which had been a source of great pleasure, became less agreeable. About the same time, too, but the exact period he cannot fix upon, he found the head so heated at night that even a nightcap was uneasy, and he always threw it off before morning; a symptom that became permanent.
In some short time afterward, he found the dyspeptic symptoms greatly aggravated, the digestion imperfect, and, for the first time, the secretion by the bowels became irregular. Artificial methods of evacuation, both by medicine and by injections, gave considerable relief, and brought away many scybala, and much offensive excrement. But the benefit was only temporary; after the operation of medicine, the necessity for them occurred; natural evacuations, though not suspended, seemed ineffectual and unsatisfactory; nor was he ever easy and comfortable when the use of medicines was intermitted for any length of time. The mind, too, fell into that disagreeable state, in which the attention is greatly fixed upon the bodily feelings; in health, these are liardly noticed, but the attention is absorbed by things that are external and foreign to the body.
At this period of his life, he thought that inflammation of the bowels was caused by obstruction, and that the prevention •or removal of this obstruction would obviate such disease. He was, therefore, extremely attentive to preserve a regularity of the intestinal evacuations by the regular use of gentle aperient medicines. But notwithstanding all his precautions, he was seized, in January, 1799, with a very severe inflammation of the bowels. The pain was chiefly seated in the right epigastric region, and though the violence of the disease was subdued in eight or ten days, the pain at that part continued to be felt for a twelvemonth; and after that attack, he never walked out in the cool of the evening, without feeling a slight tenderness and uneasiness over the whole abdomen.
For a year or two, however, after this attack, he enjoyed, upon the whole, a better state of health than before it. But still the dyspeptic symptoms and irregularity of the bowels continued to trouble him. The stomach never felt easy; he was oppressed with flatulence, and it continued necessary to have recourse to art to procure regular evacuations. These symptoms kept slowly increasing. To these were joined, toward the close of 1802, fits of low spirits and hypochondriacal feelings, which it is impossible to describe, and the horrors of which can be known to those only who have felt them. They were not very lasting, and were succeeded by intervals of cheerfulness and good spirits.
In the beginning of 1803, the uneasiness of the stomach was more aggravated. It was not acute, but constant and wearing. It was not a fortnight before he conceived the idea which led to its relief, that he said in despair to one who was the sharer of all his thoughts, "What can it be that occasions this constant uneasiness of the stomach?" He was more than commonly temperate, lived in a small healthy country town, and from the nature of his profession used much exercise, though it seldom amounted to great fatigue. Still he found himself unable to ward off severe illness, and the dread of still more dangerous attacks.
The only thing which had afforded any permanent relief to the stomach was substituting water to beer as a common beverage. This has been serviceable, but without effecting a cure.
In the month of May, 1803, he saw reason to believe that deleterious matter was introduced into the body with the water that is habitually employed; "and he determined therefore to try the effect of using none but what was made perfectly pure by distillation. The motives for this opinion he has detailed at length in a work entitled An Inquiry into the Origin of Constitutional Diseases. He believes that the views he took in that work are essentially correct, but that the hypothesis he adopted was too limited. He reserves, however, what he may have to say on this head to a more proper place and opportunity.
When he found that the> uneasy state of the stomach was abated by this simple expedient, the delight received from the discovery may be more readily conceived than described. And indeed the real benefit produced was very considerable. He found a considerable improvement of muscular strength. In about nine months his sick headaches left him; and from that time to the present hour he has not experienced this great inconvenience once.* The constant uneasiness of the stomach soon became soothed, and in about fifteen months it was hardly sensible. All the dyspeptic symptoms were relieved, the sto
* He has been informed by others of sick headaches having been relieved by distilled water, particularly by a gentleman more than sixty years of age.
mach was no longer loaded and oppressed with flatulence, and the bowels performed their regular functions without the aid. of medicine.
Regularly in the month of October he had been subject, for some years, to severe attacks of pain in the jaws; so much that he used to take sixty, eighty, or even one hundred drops of tincture of opium to gain relief. This kind of attack recurred the first year after the use of distilled water with its accustomed violence. But since that time it has ceased entirely.
At the end of eight months, that is to say in the beginning of 1804, he had a relapse of the inflammation of the bowels, ushered in with exactly the same symptoms as in the year 1*799, and with equal severity of pain. But in this instance it subsided in the course of two or three days without bleeding, and after a week or nine days it was entirely gone, without leaving any trace of uneasiness after it.
Before he adopted the use of pure water, the linen over the right shoulder was constantly stained with blood, from the breaking of a succession of pimples upon the subjacent parts. This ceased by its use, as did the tenderness of the abdomen upon exposure to the damps of the evening.
All these changes showed that the whole habit of body was affected by this simple change. It appeared to pervade and affect every organ. But its effects were most evident upon the mouth, tongue, and palate. The tongue was less foul, the feelings of all the parts more comfortable, and the teeth became very much divested of the dark and foul matter with which they were soiled.
Another appearance was very striking. He had observed for years that the skin of the neck contracted a black stain, which he in vain attempted to remove by washing. It was either indelible, or was quickly renewed after it had been removed. But this foulness, like that upon the teeth, was taken away almost entirely by the same process. It is evident, therefore, that this blackness, which may be observed on many persons, and which is that which soils the linen in contact with the neck, proceeds from the body itself. It must be a taint of the mucus of the skin; and as the black summits of coagulated mucus which may be pressed out of the skin (which are vulgarly called grubs) are discolored only where they have been exposed to the atmosphere, it seems that the matter is colorless when excreted; but it is blackened by the action of the atmosphere.
The whole skin also became less tender. 'Thus he could
bear shaving, even with cold water, without pain; the great tenderness of the forehead diminished, so that he became able to bear the moderate pressure of a hat upon the old cicatrix on the forehead without inconvenience. The number of pimples much diminished, and those which appeared did not so readily run into suppuration.
Observing these things, he cannot be surprised even at this time, that, not suspecting any other evident cause of mischief, and seeing that the one which he had detected was of itself adequate to account for the premature and violent dissolution of the body, he should have thought that no other precaution than attention to the purity of the fluids introduced into the body, with an observance of the common rules of temperance and moderation, was requisite to the preservation of the health. Ought it to be a reproach to him, that, at this period, with regard to the nature of the food, he was of the same opinion as the bulk of the community and the great body of the profession, and that he had not adopted sentiments, which are by the majority, at this moment, deemed indefensible?
But his own personal experience, united to the observations he made upon others, proved to him the insufficiency of this precaution alone. During the whole of 1804 he enjoyed an improved state of health. Nor did he notice any thing in particular, except it was occasionally an uneasiness over the head, particularly after dinner. In the course of 1805, he first felt pains over the head frequently occurring. They were quite different from sick headaches; they were of the kind rather which would be called tensive, affecting the whole cranium, and much depressing the spirits. The hypochondriacal feelings and lowness of spirits increased. After dinner, the propensity to sleep was frequently irresistible, even in company. Besides this, he found the eyesight permanently injured. Every object at which he attempted to look with steadiness had a vibratory motion. This was more particularly evident when examining pictures at a little distance. The hands and feet were always parched and hot, the skin dry, and there was a tendency to emaciation. At times he found it almost impossible to fix the mind to any thing which demanded study and reflection.
Toward the close of this year, and the very beginning of the next, the pains of the head increased much in severity, so that he was obliged during the attack to lie upon the bed, and he began to loath his food. He resolved, therefore, finally, to execute what he had been contemplating some time—to abandon animal food altogether, and every thing analogous to it, and to