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The Valetudinarian's Bath Guide; or, the Means of Obtaining long Life and Health. Dedicated to the Earl of Shelburne. By Philip Thicknesse. 8vo. 3s. Dodiley.
Mr. THICKNESSE, well known to the public by many well written and well received performances, claims, from a long. acquaintance with Bath, and his obfervation on the ufe and abufe of the Bath waters, that kind of phyfical knowledge, which, according to the old adage, every man turned of forty has a right to claim. This little Tract is divided into chapters, wherein he speaks of the wonderful efficacy, as well as the dangers of an improper ufe of the Bath waters.-The feveral chapters are of Phyficians, Surgeons, Apothecaries, Long Life, Health, &c. &c. and speaking sometimes morally, fometimes medicinally, he has interfperfed each chapter with many curious, pointed, and entertaining extracts from other writers: upon the whole it is a book very proper for the valetudinarian, who hopes to benefit himself from a use of the Bath waters,
His defence of Dr. Lucas appears to be liberally intended. -By way of fpecimen we felect the Preface and Chapter IV. which are written in a fpirited manner, and will, we doubt not, afford amufement to our readers.
"The weakness of patients-the fweetnefs of life-and the nature of hope...make men depend upon phyficians, fays that firft, and greatest philofopher the world ever produced, Lord Bacon; and the immortal Boyle, in his fhort memoirs for the natural history of mineral waters, highly cenfures the phyficians of his time, for their ignorance with refpect to fuch waters. I expec it will be wondered at (fays he) that fo many enquirers should be propofed, and fo many things directed to be taken notice of about a fubject, that has been thought fo barren that men are wont to think their curiofity great enough, if they enquire what colours the mineral waters will strike with galls, or oaken leaves, and fo obferve what kind, and quantity of falt will remain,after the evapo ration of the liquor, and I much fear, that fome, even of the profeffion of phyfic, will think I cut them out a deal too much work, by fo many troublelome queries and trials.' And after, wards he fays, I have made the lefs fcruple to be ample in the enquiries I propound, becaufe divers operations have perfuaded me, that physicians ought to confider very well, both the nature of the waters they ordain, and to what perfons, for what difor ders, and in what manner, they pre cribe the ufe of them, for though many look upon them, as fuch innocent medicines, as, if they do no good, can at least do no harm, yet, the effects, that have too often ensued, the unskilful ufe of them, efpecially when VOL. XI.
it was too long continued, allow me not to look upon the drinking of mineral waters, as a flight thing, that may be fafely played with, but as that whereby we have feen, as very much good, fo a great deal of mifchief done; efpecially, fome time after the operation is thought to be quite over, and perhaps almoft quite forgotten.'
The remarks of fuch a great man' must be very applicable to the mineral waters of Bath; as I am confident no phyfician living will venture to affert, that in fpite of all their healing virtues, they have not (when injudiciously ufed) been productive of grevious and fatal confequences; how neceffary then is it, that before mineral waters are prefcribed, that the prefcribers should be thoroughly fatisfied what the nature of the water is, which his patient is to fwallow? Yet, ftrange to fay, nay perhaps dangerous to fay it, we are at this day uncertain, whether the waters of Bath are, or are not, fulphureous! Dr. Guidott afferts they contain, among other things, fulphur, a fixt alcali, and nitre; and defpifes Dr. Mayow, for thinking otherwife. Dr. Oliver countenanced the opinion of Guidott, and it has been, and is ftill, as far as I know, the prevailing opinion; and yet Dr. Lucas did, about twenty years fince, analyze thefe waters in the prefence of the late Lord Chefterfield, and other ingenious men, and proved to their unanimous fatisfaction, that the Bath waters contain no greater fhare of fulphur, than any common water, but that a fubtil acid, and a fmall quantity of iron, conftitutes their healing powers, that the former flies off in the open air, and the latter fettles, as the heat diminishes. The fame ingenious gentleman analyfed the waters of Aix la-Chapelle, and afferts alfo, that those waters are deeply impregnated with fulphur.
Is it not therefore incumbent on the Physicians of Bath to have this matter cleared up, and to prove that either Dr. Lucas's analyfation is defective, or, that Dr. Guidott's is true; for unless they are clearly fatisfied on which fide the truth lies, they cannot prefcribe the ufe of them to any of their patients with perfect fafety, and in fome cafes, not without imminent danger. Dr. Lucas was efteemed a good phyfician, and an able chymilt, as well as an honeft man; he was no ways interested in the qualities of the Bath waters, more than thofe of Aix-la-Chapelle, but he was deeply interested in the 'caufe of truth, and the fupport of liberty.
"What I could therefore with is, that fuch patients who have received benefit, and fuch who hope to receive it from thefe waters, would promote a fubfcription, to make it worth the while of fome reputable chymift, to come down to Bath and to analyze the waters in the prefence of the faculty, and the fübfcribers, and thereby put the matter beyond a doubt. This would be a laudable and univerfal charity; a charity which would extend to future generations.
"When it is certainly known of what nature the Bath waters really are, or rather what their impregnations are, there can be
little doubt, but that an artificial water might be prepared, fo as to render nearly, all the benefits, both inwardly, as well as ex ternally, to patients whofe great distance, or bodily infirmities might prevent their coming to the fountain head.
"Mr. De Magellan, has contrived a gla's apparatus for making waters like thofe of Pyrmont, by means of which any water may be faturated with fixed air, and that too, by a procefs which does not require a quarter of an hour to perform, The fame ingenious gentleman has alfo invented fome Eudiometers, or inftruments, to afcertain with the greatest accuracy, the falubrity of the air. Is it not ftrange, therefore, in a kingdom like this, that a doubt fhould remain, what the real nature of the Bath waters are ? we acknowledge, and fo do thoufands of grateful patients with gratitude acknowledge, that God has given them to us for great and good purposes, but we have reafon to lament, that man has not more certainly afcertained, to what particular maladies they are most falutary, by knowing to what minerals they owe, not only their heat, but that fubtil spirit, which fo foon flies off, and leaves the water as void of medicinal powers, as the commonest well was ter. If Dr. Lucas's analyfation of them is erroneous, why does not fome more able phyfician, upon the spot overturn it, if it is juft, why not have the candour to acknowledge it? Dr. Davies, a gentleman who practifed phyfic at Bath, with as great re putation as any man, either before or fince his time, acknowledged his ftedfaft belief in Dr. Lucas's experiments, and Mr. Haviland, fenior, an apothecary, allowed to be the beft chymift in Bath, was equally fatisfied of this important truth. Why then should Dr. Lucas have been perfecuted when here, and his affertions still contemned, till it is proved, that he was an ignorant impoftor? His affertions by no means leffen the merit, or efficacy of the Bath waters; on the contrary, he acknowledges their powers as fully as any phyfician on the fpot, but Dr. Lucas is not to be believed, because it was HE, not a phyfician on the fpot, who detected the fraud, of tinging guineas, who proved that what was called the fulphur fcum, was really vegetable mofs, and that instead of a fulphureous quality, the waters have an acid volatile fpirit, a fpirit perhaps incompatible with fulphur, and a fmall proportion of iron. Under this dilemma will any phyfician be hardy enough to fay to his patient, no matter, whether they are of fulphur, or of acid, they are equally proper for you: drink them, and bathe in them? Surely not. Were I a patient, it would be my first quef
* Lord Bacon thinks it ftrange that natural baths are not imitated with fuccefs,feeing they are confeffed to receive their virtues from minerals, and not only fo, but difcerned and diftinguished from what particular mineral they receive tincture, as fulphur, vitriol, fteel, or the like, which nature if it be reduced to compofition of art, the powers of them may be encreafed, and the temper of them will be more commended.'
tion to the phyfician I confulted, what is the nature and quality of the waters I am to use? And if he could not,nor would inform me, I fhould not truft him with the nature of my complaint; yet it is very natural to conclude, that Drs. Moyfey, and De la Cour, men of acknowledged accutenefs in phyfic, from their long refidence, long life, and conftant obfervations on the effects of bathing a d drinking the waters, must be able to judge, in what cafes they may venture to use them, and when to with hold them, but if they do not know the real nature of the waters, it is a mechanical, not a phyfical ufe they make of them. I will not deny that the phyficians of Bath, from Dr. De la Cour,* down to Graham, and Guftard, do not know, that the waters have fome very excellent qualities, while they are hot, and none when they are cold, except to quench the drought of the thirty; but till. they refute Dr. Lucas's opinion, or prove that of Dr. Guidott's, their patients may as fafely use them, upon their own ji dgment, as upon any other man's, unless they can prove, that a fulphureous bath, which opens the pores, or an acid one, which often clafes them, is one and the fame thing. This 1 can aver, that I went into the King's bath, in hopes of opening the pores, and in expectation of the patural confequences of a hot bath but the reverfe was the effect, the pores were thereby totally stopt, and for fome days, I though tit would have drove me mad; therefore, till Dr. Lucas's opinion is overturned, I will retain mine, leaving my readers to retain theirs alfo, but they must remember, that their phyficians always confider accidentia anima, a principal part of their prefcription; and now, from what has been faid, and what follows, I fhall remind the reader of what Demofthenes faid to the Athenians. Pleafe to take notice, faid he, that my council unto you is not fuch, whereby I fhall grow great among you, but it is of that nature, which is not fo good for me to give, as it is for you to follow.
CHA P. IV. O F
"Bathing, if we may believe what the late ingenious Dr. Oliver has faid on that fubject, and I never heard it contradicted in profe, is the most general folvent, and probable means by which obftructions of all kinds may be removed, as well as the moft general folvent, of all the humours of the human body, whether natural or morbid; and he thinks bathing is highly beneficial in all gouty or rheumatic cafes. But previous evacuations, be fays, are abfolutely neceffary to unload the habit, and
If charity, humanity, and univerfal benevolence, are neceffary qualifications in a phyfician, (and I fhould think they are) I have very good reafon to fay, there does not live a CHRISTIAN MAN in this city, who has prefcribed more liberally, nor more frequently, towards gla dening the heart of the wretched, than Dr. De la Cour.
↑ Vomits are particularly of fervice when they can be fafely taken! cleanfe
cleanse the first paffages, but let me obferve that bathing early in the morning and taking the full force of the heat, is often attended with confequences the very reverse of what the waters would produce by a more moderate degree of heat. That wa mth which opens the pores and promotes perfpiration, relieves the patient, but the heat when it is too great, clofes them, and often totally obftructs the infenfible perfpiration, and therefore the degree of heat fhould be particularly attended to, and it is much better to begin with a moderate bath, and increase it by degrees, than to dry and parch up the skin by ufing it in its full force. Mr. Nah,. however, who lived to a great age, always ufed partial bathing for the gout; and the minute he found one foot attacked with it, he fat with both in buckets of hot Bath water, and by that means put off the violence of the pain, and often the diforder itself.
Dr. Oliver was of opinion that the months of April, May, June, Auguft, September and October, were most proper, either, tor drinking the waters or bathing. But experience has fhown, that there is no part of the year, not even the hottest, wherein the waters may not be used both ways with fuccefs; and it is scarcely reconcileable to reason, that the extreme cold weather should be fo fafe, efpecially to bathers, as the more temperate. Confident, therefore, of the benefit Mr. Nash received when he was attacked with the gout, were I fubject to it, I would never omit fitting a quarter of an hour before I went to bed, with each leg in a buc ket of warm, not hot Bath water, there cannot be any danger in fo doing, and there is every reafon to believe great benefit would arife from fuch a practice, and that even common water heated by fire would have nearly the fame good effect. The baths newly constructed near the Crofs-Ba h, have every convenience a bather. can with, and refervoirs of cold Bath water are provided to regulate the heat to the defire of the patient. About an hundred and thirty years ago, this city, which is now UNIQUE, and may justly vie with any city in Europe, was the most filthy and offenfive town in England. The baths were then crowded, day and night, with bathers of both fexes quite naxed, and they were frequently infulted while in the water, not only with dead dogs, cats, pigs, &c. but with human carcafes, as well as all forts of fith and naftiness. The roads were fo bad, it was fcarce poffible to get to the city in winter. Every houfe was covered with thatch, and at every door hung a manger to feed the horses, alles, &c. which brought coal and provifions into the town and instead of that decorum which now generally prevails, nothing but obscenity, ribaldry, and licentioufnels was practifed. About the year 1640, the body corporate put a stop to thefe enormities, by fome whole
* I have feen an accurate drawing of the King's-Bath, made about an hundred and fifty years ago, which confirms the truth of this mode of indecent bathing, and I have alfo feen about five and thirty years ago, an hundred naked colliers in the King's-Bath, rioting there at mid-day, and for many hours after.