Curiosities of Medical Experience
by J. G. Millingen (1839)
by J. G. Millingen (1839)
I sincerely hope that the good surgeon did not experiment on his lunatic patients. I'm giving you the contents page to show you what it's about. It's riveting reading - seriously.
He is, as are we all, a product of his age, hence some statements most of us would find curious, but he's very observant, learned, and dedicated to science as well.
He must have made a bundle out of it.
Gigantic Races 12
Unlawful Cures 19
Voice and Speech 32
Ecstatic Exaltation 37
Varieties of Mankind 44
On the Inhumation of the Dead in Cities 54
Buried Alive 63
Spontaneous Combustion 66
Brassica Eruca 70
Lunar Influence on Human Life and Diseases 73
Medical Powers of Music 88
The Food of Mankind 96
Influence of Imagination 125
Ancient Ideas of Phrenology 135
Love Philters and Potions 141
Chaucer's Description of a Physician 151
The Plague 164
Poison of the Upas, or Ipo 190
Homophagous and polyphagous 196
Causes of Insanity 202
The Aspic 227
Selden's Comparison between a Divine, a Statesman, and
a Physician 229
The Lettuce 230
Medical Fees 231
Medical effects of Water 252
Proverbs and Sayings regarding Health and Disease 259
The Night-mare 262
Incubation of Diseases 266
Quackery and Charlatanism 269
On the use of Tea 277
Barber-Surgeons, and the Progress of Chirurgical Art 285
On Dreams 295
On Flagellation 312
On Life and the Blood 317
Of the Homoeopathic Doctrines 337
Doctrine of Signatures 365
Aqua Tophania 374
Plica Polonica & Human Hair 377
Animal Magnetism 384
Poisonous Fishes 397
Memory & the Mental Faculties 404
Affections of the Sight 420
Sympathies and Antipathies 428
The Archeus of Van Helmont 439
Solar Influence 482
Sweating Fever 485
Rise and Progress of Medicine 534
Medicine of the Chinese 552
Experiments on Living Animals 559
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ObesityNothing could be more absurd than the notions regarding some of these supposed cures: a ring made of the hinge of a coffin had the power of relieving cramps; which were also mitigated by having a rusty old sword hung up by the bedside. Nails driven in an oak-tree prevented the toothache. A halter that had served in hanging a criminal was an infallible remedy for a headache, when tied round the head; this affection was equally cured by the moss growing on a human skull, dried and pulverized, and taken as a cephalic snuff.
A dead man's hand could dispel tumours of the glands by stroking the parts nine times, but the hand of a man who had been cut down from the gallows was the most efficacious. To cure warts, one had nothing to do but to steal a piece of beef from the butcher, with which the warts were to be rubbed; then inter it in any filth, and as it rotted, the warts would wither and fall. The chips of a gallows on which several persons had been hanged, when worn in a bag round the neck, would cure the ague.
A stone with a hole in it, suspended at the head of the bed, would effectually stop the nightmare; hence it was called a hag-stone, as it prevents the troublesome witches from sitting upon the sleeper's stomach. The same amulet tied to the key of a stable-door, deterred witches from riding horses over the country.
Rickety children were cured by being drawn through a cleft tree, which was afterwards bound up, and as the split wood united, the child acquired strength. Creeping through a perforated stone to cure various disorders was a Druidical rite, still practised in the East. In the parish of Marden there is a stone with a hole in it, fourteen inches in diameter, through which children are drawn for the rickets; and, in the North, infants are made to pass through a hole cut in a _groaning_ cheese the day of their christening.
Fat is a fluid similar to vegetable oils, inodorous, and lighter than water; besides the elements common to water, to oils, and wax, it contains carbon, hydrogen, and sebacic acid, which is pretty similar to the acetic.
Human fat, like that of other animals, has been frequently employed for various purposes. A story is told of an Irish tallowchandler, who, during the invasion of Cromwell's army, made candles with the fat of Englishmen, which were remarkable for their good quality; but when the times became more tranquil, his goods were of an inferior kind, and when one of his customers complained of his candles falling off, he apologised by saying, "I am sorry to inform you that the times are so bad that I have been short of Englishmen for a long time."
Obesity may be considered a serious evil, and has exposed corpulent persons to many désagrémens. The ancients held fat people in sovereign contempt. Some of the Gentoos enter their dwellings by a hole in the roof; and any fat person who cannot get through it, they consider as an excommunicated offender who has not been able to rid himself of his sins. An Eastern prince had an officer to regulate the size of his subjects, and who dieted the unwieldy ones to reduce them to a proper volume. In China this calamity is considered a blessing, a man's intellectual qualities are esteemed in the ratio of corporeal bulk.
Medicine was taught in the imperial colleges of Pekin; but in every district, a physician, who had studied six years, is appointed to instruct the candidate for the profession, who was afterwards allowed to practise, without any further studies or examination; and it is said, that, in general, the physician only receives his fee when the patient is cured. This assertion, however, is very doubtful, as the country abounds in quacks, who, under such restrictions as to remuneration, would scarcely earn a livelihood.
Another singular, but economical practice prevails amongst them – a physician never pays a second visit to a patient unless he is sent for.
Whatever may be the merits of Chinese practitioners both in medicine and surgery, or their mode of receiving remuneration, it appears that they are as much subject to animadversion as in other countries:--a missionary having observed to a Chinese, that their medical men had constantly recourse to fire in the shape of moxa, redhot iron, and burning needles; he replied, "Alas! you Europeans are carved with steel, while we are martyrized with hot iron; and I fear that in neither country will the fashion subside, since the operators do not feel the anguish they inflict, and are equally paid to torment us or to cure us!"
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Curiosities of Medical Experience by J. G. Millingen
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