« ForrigeFortsæt »
care was taken formerly of the subjects' constitution, by not suffering their health to be infected by these wholesale poisoners.
In the time of King William the First, one Fanfal was fined and imprisoned, for doing great damage to several people by his aqua celestis. One Anthony, with his aurum potabile ; Arthur Dee, for advertising medicines which he gave out would cure people of all diseases ; Foster, for selling a powder for the greensickness ; Tenant, a water-caster, who sold his pills for six pounds each; Aires, for selling purging sugarplums; Hunt, for putting bills up in the streets for the cure of diseases ; Phillips, a distiller, for selling his strong waters, with directions for what they were good, and how persons were to take them; were all severely punished by fine, exposure, or imprisonment.
People may say that quack-medicines are not intended against the constitution, but only against the pocket; and that they are too insipid to do either good or harm; but medicines similar to those above-mentioned, and in which every dabbler deals, are, in unskilful hands, destructive: and we find in our records several persons brought to condign punishment for administering such compositions ignorantly ; particularly one John Nott, who was fined and imprisoned for having killed sundry persons with some of the before-mentioned medicines. Thomasine Scarlet, and two more women, were severely punished, for tampering with mercurial medicines.
If the legislature were instantly to revive some of these long obsolete bye-laws, what havoc would they not make among the empirics in this metropolis ? It is not our design, in a work like the present, to direct our readers to the various sinks of imposture of this kind, to which the unwary are directed and invited by specious hand-bills, setting forth in the most bombastic and unmeaning terms, their vain and inflated pretensions. They are for the most part known. But there is another description of people bordering on the first, namely, ignorant apothecaries, who run up bills for people, in exchange for rubbish, in the shape of draughts, pills, powders, lotions, &c. &c. Here some legislative enactments are no less requisite. How cruel to oppress the daily labourer, the man of limited income, with a large family! Eighteen-pence for a draught, to which, beyond three halfpence, the price of the phial, taking the profits, which certainly ought to be allowed, but which we shall here lay aside-we say, then, that exclusively the value of such draught could not be named in the lowest current coin. We may be going a little too far—but if these things were better regulated, as regards retailed drugs, such as oils, powders, pills, tinctures, mixtures, draughts, &c. the retailer, subject to have his drugs examined, would have abundant profit, and the buyer satisfied as much as he possibly could be.
ON TAKING MEDICINE.
Throw pbysic to the dogs.
THERE is no evil which operates more effectually against the preservation of health than taking medicine uncalled for -- such as salts, jalap, rhubarb, magnesia, anti-bilious pills, &c. Persons in good health, all whose secretions are duly performed, ought never to take any medicine of an evacuating or acrimonious nature, least it disturb the natural functions without necessity. Hippocrates expressly declares, that those who are of a strong and healthy constitution are much the worse for taking purges. But as regards external ablutions of the skin, by washing, bathing, or swimming, they are proper for healthy people, provided they be not carried to excess. So also bleeding often, without any urgent cause, taking strong aperients, or emetics, changing the customary mode of living prematurely, and a multiplicity of other circumstances, which very appropriately may be called whims, all impair the strength, by drying up the conduits, consequently deranging the functions on which health chiefly depends.
A prejudice subsists among many people of the lower ranks, against every remedy that does not ope
them in some sensible manner as an evacuant. They do not measure its good effects by the change it produces on the health, but by its increasing their natural discharges. This is an unfortunate prepossession, as several of the most effectual remedies act for the most part without any sensible alteration in the animal system, save the gradual cessation of the disorder.
The common people are too apt to estimate the effect of medicines, as they do that of other things, by their pecuniary value and their scarcity. They seem to have no idea that Providence has made the most useful things in medicine, as well as food, cheap and common; and that expense in such articles is oftener necessary to flatter, and comply with, effeminate delicacy, than to add to the real efficacy of a remedy.
The last piece of advice we shall offer on this subject will be, as respects quackery..
Perhaps there is nothing so much disgraces the police of this country, as the numerous impositions of this kind that are daily advertised. Scarcely any one of them has not only a greater certainty of success ascribed to it, but is alleged to be infallible in a greater variety of disorders than are curable by all the articles of the materia medica, taken collectively. Some of these boasted remedies are merely frivolous and inert, but others are violent and dangerous in their operation, and highly improper to be trusted to such
persons as those who are thus rashly encouraged to take them in an indiscriminate manner. Arsenic, corrosive sublimate, and other mercurial preparations, form the bases of these dangerous compositions. This, however, is denied by the inventors, although chemistry immediately exposes the delusion. Mercury, when judiciously employed, is one of the first medicines of every country at the present day; but is it to be trusted in the hands of the ignorant, illiterate, and barefaced quack ?