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Many other passages might be cited, if it were necessary, from the Hippocratic writings to the same purpose. Accordingly we find that the most essential part of the treatment of diseases, prescribed by the father of medicine, consisted of rules concerning diet and regimen. The use of medicines was secondary and subsidiary. Several treatises on these subjects have come down to us, than which I do not know that the works of modern writers on the same topics contain any thing more useful or more correct.
On the use of watery fluids in the treatment of diseases, the opinion of Hippocrates was greatly at variance with modern practice. We urge the sick to dilute plentifully; and there was a time when physicians expected extraordinary benefits to result from attenuating the fluids by the copious use of liquids, the basis of which was common water. But the doctrine of Hippocrates was, that a copious use of such fluids causes “an effeminacy of the fibres, impotence of the nerves, stupor of the mind, hemorrhages, and faintings.” In another place he says, concerning the use of water in acute diseases, “ I have nothing to say in favor of water drinking in acute diseases: it neither eases the cough, nor promotes expectoration in inflammation of the lungs; and, least of all, in those who are used to it. It does not quench thirst, but increases it. In bilious habits it increases bile, and oppresses the stomach; and is the most pernicious, and sickening, and debilitating, in a state
cannot be easily determined. It is obvious, however, that those become most diseased, which recede the farthest from their natural habits of life. The common rat is naturally herbivorous. Mr. Lawrence, assistant-surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, informed me, that they have at the hospital a tribe of rats, which feed principally on the offals of the dissect ing-room. These animals are very large ; but, commonly, the liver is found diseased.
The common dog shows the effect of unnatural aliment in a very striking manner. This animal, by being confined to vegetable food, loses all the social qualities which has made him the companion of men, his fidelity, attachment, and sagacity. The naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook in his second voyage, remarks, “ The dogs of the South Sea Isles are of a singular race: they inost resemble the common cur, but have a prodigious large head, remarkably little eyes, prick ears, and a short bushy tail. They are chiefly fed with fruit at the Society Isles, but in the Low Isles and New Zealand, where they are the only domestic animals, they live upon fish. They are exceedingly stupid, and seldom or never bark, only howl now and then; they have the sense of smelling in a very low degree, and are lazy beyond measure; they are kept by the natives chiefly for the sake of their flesh.”-Foster's Observations, p. 189.
Captain King's account of the dogs of the Sandwich Islands is to the same purpose. See Cook's Third Voyage, vol. 3, p. 118, 4to.
of inanition. It increases inflammations of the liver and spleen, It passes slowly, by reason of its coldness and crudeness, and does not readily find a passage either by the bowels or kid. ney."* In conformity to these observations, the respectable Van Swieten observes, “ While girls are daily sipping tepid, watery liquors, how weak and how flaccid do they become !" And the same writer positively affirms that, by the abuse of tea, coffee, and similar liquors, he had seen many so enervate their bodies, that they could scarcely drag their limbs, and many had from this cause been seized with apoplexies and palsies.t
That our common domestic waters possess different qualities, according to their various natures, and, in consequence, have different degrees of salubrity, is consonant to popular opinion, Indeed, this a persuasion so widely disseminated, as to afford reasonable ground for believing it the result of experience. I pervades remote regions, and people unconnected by prejudices, religion, manners, or education. « The old men of Brazil," according to Piso, “are as nice in their choice of waters, as people are with us in distinguishing the qualities of wine; and they accuse persons of imprudence who use them all without selection. They use the lightest and sweetest, and those which, falling from elevated grounds, give no sediment." Sir G, Staunton informs us, that “persons of rank in China are so
* If Hippocrates meant that the copious use of pure soft water causes “an'effeminacy of the fibres, impotence of the nerves, stupor of the mind, hemorrhages, and fainting;” and if he regarded, that such water was “ not good in acute diseases ; " " that it neither cases the cough nor pro. motes expectoration in inflammations of the lungs; " " that it does not quench thirst but increases it;" " that in bilious habits it increases bile, and oppresses the stomach, and is the most pernicious, sickening, and debilitating in a state of inanition;" and, that " it increases inflammation of the liver and spleen," he was evidently mistaken, as is abundantly proved by the success of the modern water-cure. If the objections were stated against the use of hard and impure water, they would have some force, but not otherwise. There is no danger whatever in allowing persons the freest use of pure soft water, however cold, in acute diseases, although in some cases warm is probably the best.-S.
+ That people generally injure themselves in many respects by the use of tea and coifee, it is easy enough to understand. "Nervousness, tremors, palpitation of the heart, indigestion, paleness, and flaccidity of tho muscular system, sallowness, decay of the teeth, and especially sick headache, are often caused by these articles, as many may prove to their satisfaction, if they will but resolutely abstain from them, and take only pure soft water instead, for one year. But that people will injure themselves with “ tepid watere ;" drink which has in its composition nothing stronger than pure water, we need not at all fear. The stimulants contained, and not the water, cause the evils alluded to in the text.-S.
careful about the quality of the water intended for their own consumption, that they seldom drink any without its being distilled." In Egypt, they prefer the water of the Nile. The gravel is said to be “universally the disease with those who use water from the draw-wells, as in the desert. In Hindostan, people universally ascribe most of their disorders to the offensire quality of bad water. It is useless to multiply authorities. Even in London, though it is not, in general, considered to be of so much importance, the selection of waters is considerably attended to: men have their favorite spring, or their favorite pump; and they think that some waters are more favorable to the health than others. *
I have little doubt that popular observations of this kind, in ancient times, laid the foundation of the doctrines of the celebrated treatise of Hippocrates, de Aere, Aquis, et Locis; and though some of the distinctions, found in that treatise, may have been founded upon local circumstances, and have been too hastily generalized, yet their accuracy upon the whole has been so little questioned, that succeeding writers have added nothing of importance to them.
Though Hippocrates has said, that healthy persons may drink, indiscriminately, such water as comes in their way, yet he declares that, to distinguish that which is wholesome is of the first consequence to health. The best waters he pronounces to be those which fall from high places, and uncultivated hills. He condemns water collected from the melting of snow,t
* After the Croton water (which is on the whole very good, and far superior to the filthy water of the wells, that had formerly been used,) had been introduced into the city of New York about two years, accord ing to present recollection, the officers of the City Hospital published that there had been no cases of gravel admitted into that institution since the time when the Croton water had fairly come into use, but that before the complaint was frequent.-S.
+ The writer, residing at Cos, could probably know nothing, from experience, on the properties of snow-water; and spoke therefore only from report. The report itself was, I conceive, grounded upon supposing the waters of the valleys of alpine countries to be snow-water.
Though the putrescent matter of common water cannot be separated from the earths or other matters which are dissolved in the water, its presence is very easily shown. If there be any thing inflammable in the residuum left by the water after evaporation, it indicates the presence of matter of this kind. This impregnation of common water, though little regarded by modern chemists, has been long known. Borrichius observed the residuum of common water to be inflammable; that it melted with bubbles, swelled, took fire, and burned with a clear white flame. Lucas, in his treatise on waters, remarked the inflammability of the residuum both of the Thames and New River water, and also of some others. This matter it is which makes water corrupt by keeping; which,
in which he was guided, probably, by popular prejudice. Even rain-water he advises to be boiled and filtered; otherwise it has I believe, always happens in warm weather, if it be in a considerable body.
The method which I have commonly employed to determine the presence of inflammable matter, is to precipitate the water by a salt of lead (the acetate, or nitrate of lead), and to heat the precipitate, either alone, or mixed only with an alkali. If lead is by this process revived, the precipitate must, in part, consist of an inflammable substance. And by this simple method I have detected matter of this kind in every common water I have examined, except two. One of these was the water of the Bristol Hot Wells, a water which is known to be very light upon the stomach, though it is a good deal loaded with earthy salts.
To this inflammable and putrescent matter is owing the activity of comnon water, of which persons almost constantly receive proofs, whenever they change their residence. Yet it is astonishing (as I have said in the text) how much it has been overlooked. Dr. Lind, for example, says, that as the guinea-worm, which seems peculiar to Africa and some parts of Asia, “ has been supposed to proceed from a bad quality of the water of the country, I procured the waters of Senegal, Gambia, and Sierra Leone to be sent me in bottles, well corked and sealed, in order to examine their contents. Upon opening these botiles, I found the water in all of them putrid, but the scent of the Senegal water was the strongest and most offensive. I could not, however, discover by the help of a good microscope the least appearance of any of the animalcules, nor did any chemical experiment discover uncommon contents or impurities in those waters. All of them, after standing some time exposed to the open air, become perfectly sweet and good."-Lind's Works, vol. iii., p. 56.
Here we see that Dr. Lind (a man of much intelligence) thought there was nothing amiss with these waters, though they were absolutely fætid. And most writers have conceived with him, that all that was necessary to make water salubrious was to get rid of any offensive odor or taste. It is, however, perfectly obvious that if water is capable of putrefaction, it must contain a putrescent matter, even before it putrefies, and when it is esteemed to be perfectly sweet and good. What is the effect of this matter upon the human system is a proper object of inquiry, and what I have attempted to ascertain experimentally.
I have argued for the universal diffusion on the surface of the earth, and throughout the soil, and, in consequence, in the substance of animal and vegetable bodies, of a true arsenical matter. I have said that some substances may combine so intimately with this poison as to prevent its being developed and exhibited in its proper form by the common mudes of chenical operation. Manganese is one body which has his effect. But it is not the only one. In this point of view, therefore, the explication I proposed in any'” Inquiry into Constitutional Diseases" (printed in 1805) is too limited. But ulterior inquiries have shown to me ihat the nature of arsenic itself is misunderstood, and its properties very imperfectly known. It can be very easily shown that it is a decomposable matter, and possessed of different properties, as it is obtained froin different substances. What I have been able to ascertain myself with regard to this body, I hope, ere long, to be able to lay before the public ; and I believe the experiments I propose to relate, will at least make an opening for obtaining an insight into some of the phenomena of nature, which have hitherto been involved in obscurity.
a bad smell, and occasions hoarseness in those who use it Hard and crude waters are not adapted to all habits, since they constringe and bind the belly. In countries where men are constrained to drink the stagnant and fætid waters of wells, the belly and spleen must, in such persons, of necessity be injured. Some have calculus complaints; some, tumors of the spleen, strangury, and nephritic complaints, from a similar cause. The stagnant water of marshes must, in summer, be hot, and muddy, and ill-scented. Persons who drink them have the spleen enlarged, and the belly swollen. A train of evils is the consequence of the use of such waters: marasmas, dropsies, fluxes, agues, peripneumonies, insanity, and abortions. Such waters are wholly unfit for use.
The general doctrine of this venerable and philosophic writer, as to the agents which have the greatest influence upon the frame, he has summed up, in a manner equally decisive and concisc, in the following paragraph.
“ The variations of the seasons are the most powerful causes of the different natures of men. Next to these is the quality of the soil on which they subsist, and the waters they use. It is certain, that commonly both the physical and moral constitution of man is conformable to the nature of the soil on which he lives.”
It cannot be doubted, that this doctrine is fundamentally conformable to nature. As I have already said, the assertions of succeeding writers, on the noxious effects of impure waters, are so strictly coincident with those of Hippocrates, that they would seem almost to be transcribed from them. Thus, the celebrated Hoffman writes: “Water is the most proper beverage for all animals ; but care must be taken to use none that is hard, tophaceous, and heavy; since these kinds, from their passing with difficulty, and easily stagnating in the minute passages, are favorable to the generation of calculus, and to visceral obstructions. It has been often observed, that the drinking of hard and rough water has been pernicious both to men and animals; of which persons engaged in military service have given striking examples. Hard waters are most injurious to the viscera, and, in particular, to the spleen, as being very vascular;' and, by stagnating in its small vessels, the whole gland is easily raised into a large tumor. It has been constantly asserted, that scrofulous tumors, of a great magnitude, are indigenous, from the use of hard and rough waters, in certain mountainous tracts where such springs abound. But the stagnant, putrid waters of marshes are chiefly to be avoided, which not only