Cullen

The Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

 

[ID:4134] From: Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen) / To: Mr Joseph Harris / Regarding: Mr Joseph Harris (Patient), (a Gentleman) (Patient) / 13 September 1777 / (Outgoing)

Reply headed 'To Mr Joseph Harris Surgeon at Whitehaven C – a Young Gentleman and himself.'. Mentions the use of a shower-bath.

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Metadata

FieldData
DOC ID 4134
RCPE Catalogue Number CUL/1/1/9/107
Main Language English
Document Direction Outgoing
Date13 September 1777
Annotation None
TypeScribal copy ( includes Casebook Entry)
Enclosure(s) No enclosure(s)
Autopsy No
Recipe No
Regimen No
Letter of Introduction No
Case Note No
Summary Reply headed 'To Mr Joseph Harris Surgeon at Whitehaven C – a Young Gentleman and himself.'. Mentions the use of a shower-bath.
Manuscript Incomplete? No
Evidence of Commercial Posting No

Case

Cases that this document belongs to:

Case ID Description Num Docs
[Case ID:200]
Case of the surgeon Mr Joseph Harris who is suffering from headaches.
3
[Case ID:954]
Case of Mr Thomas Bushby who is given detailed advice on cold bathing.
4


People linked to this document

Person IDRole in documentPerson
[PERS ID:1]AuthorDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:214]AddresseeMr Joseph Harris
[PERS ID:2133]Patient (a Gentleman)
[PERS ID:214]PatientMr Joseph Harris
[PERS ID:1]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:214]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryMr Joseph Harris

Places linked to this document

Role in document Specific Place Settlements / Areas Region Country Global Region Confidence
Place of Writing Cullen's House / Mint Close Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain
Destination of Letter Whitehaven North-West England Europe inferred

Normalized Text

[Page 1]

To Mr Joseph Harris Surgeon at Whitehaven Concerning
a Young Gentleman and himself.
Dear Sir,


I am favoured with yours of the 8th, and give you my answer as soon
as post allows.


I am very well acquainted with such cases as that which you send
me; but find them always extremely difficult to cure, as it is extremely dif¬
ficult to mend a weakness or to cure an irritability which have long become
habitual, the most successful measures have been cold bathings, exercise chalybeates
and proper diet, it has happened to several of my patients as to yours that they
did not bear cold-bathing when it was taken very cold, but I have reconciled
them to it by their taking first a tempered water consisting of one part
boiling water and three parts of spring or well-water, which last is
steadily of forty eight or fifty of Farenheit, even from water of such temperature
as this mixture produces I have found great benefit; but by withdrawing ever se¬
cond or third day an eighth part of the boiling water I have brought them in the
course of a fortnight to bear the temperature of the water as it comes from the
spring, or if this last did not succeed I continued to use a water more or less
tempered. Please observe that this tempered water cannot be conveniently used in
the way of immersion, but is most properly employed in the Shower-bath of which
we now so commonly here, and which I dare say you are acquainted with. If how¬
ever you have no such apparatus ready you must employ what they call a wash¬
ing by sitting your patient in a tub proper to receive the slop, and pouring
the water upon his neck and shoulders, by a spung or napkin carrying it over
the rest of his body. The proper time for these operations is always in the morning
before breakfast, but will always answer best if he has had no accident during
the night. If you could manage this business cleaverly and be always exact



[Page 2]

in your weigt and Measures, so as to be certain of your temperature:
I expect you will find great benefit by it; and if it does not entirely
cure the disease it will certainly obviate the languor depression of
Spirits
, Anxiety and fears which such patients are always liable to. Its
effect however will be assisted by frequent exercise in fresh air.
Moderate walking is allowable; but on account of the fatigue they are
so readily affected with. it cannot be of much Service and the usefull ex¬
ercise must be taken on horseback. I have often found benefit in
such Cases from Chalybeates. The best preparation is the Rubigo Chaly¬
bis
with a little cinnamon and Sugar. I dont give less than five grains
of the Rubigo for a Dose twice a day: And I often increase the dose
to ten or twenty grains. The Doses may be washed down with a light
infusion of the bark; but the large and long continued use of the bark
I believe is often hurtfull. I have sometimes found that a dose of Cam¬
phire
from five to ten grains would prevent accidents in the night &
you may try it; but it cannot be frequently repeated without loosing its
effect, and it must be employed at Intervals to prevent recurrances if
you can judge when they are to be expected. It is Common in such Cases
to employ a nourishing, or what is supposed a strengthening Diet; but it is
a mistake, and I would have your Patient by all means to avoid a full
Diet or strong meats. He may take some animal food at dinner, but it
should be the lightest and the least, and he should never take meat at supper;
a few Glasses of Wine are allowable; but they ought always to be a few only -
These are the best advices I can offer to your Patient; and I am perfectly
satisfied with the fee you intend for me. When you think I can be
of any further use you may write me freely without thinking another
fee necessary.


By your coming to Whitehaven I hope you have made a
Change for the better with respect to business, and if you have made it
with respect to health it is a great deal. I dont remember if I formerly
advised you to keep your head shaven and every night to employ a
flesh brush upon it and at other times to keep your head very warm;
but by this management I have lately found 1 fromObstinate headachs.
I have no objections to your trying Electricity; but it must be with
some Caution, for I suspect that strong shocks near the head may be
very dangerous, and I think at least you should begin by only taking
sparks and proceed gradually in taking shocks of a very moderate kind.
If you make the trial I shall be obliged to you for a report of its effects.


I am &.c
W C.
Edinburgh 13 September 1777.

Notes:

1: The word "relief" seems to have been overlooked by the copyist at this point.

Diplomatic Text

[Page 1]

To Mr Joseph Harris Surgeon at Whitehaven C-
a Young Gentleman and himself.
Dear Sir,


I am favoured with yours of the 8th, and give you my answer as soon
as post allows.


I am very well acquainted with such cases as that which you send
me; but find them always extremely difficult to cure, as it is extremely dif¬
ficult to mend a weakness or to cure an irritability which have long become
habitual, the most successful measures have been cold bathings, exercise chalybeates
and proper diet, it has happened to several of my patients as to yours that they
did not bear cold-bathing when it was taken very cold, but I have reconciled
them to it by their taking first a tempered water consisting of one part
boiling water and three parts of spring or well-water, which last is
steadily of forty eight or fifty of Farenheit, even from water of such temperature
as this mixture produces I have found great benefit; but by withdrawing ever se¬
cond or third day an eighth part of the boiling water I have brought them in the
course of a fortnight to bear the temperature of the water as it comes from the
spring, or if this last did not succeed I continued to use a water more or less
tempered. Please observe that this tempered water cannot be conveniently used in
the way of immersion, but is most properly employed in the Shower-bath of which
we now so commonly here, and which I dare say you are acquainted with. If how¬
ever you have no such apparatus ready you must employ what they call a wash¬
ing by sitting your patient in a tub proper to receive the slop, and pouring
the water upon his neck and shoulders, by a spung or napkin carrying it over
the rest of his body. The proper time for these operations is always in the morning
before breakfast, but will always answer best if he has had no accident during
the night. If you could manage this business cleaverly and be always exact



[Page 2]

in your weigt and Measures, so as to be certain of your temperature:
I expect you will find great benefit by it; and if it does not entirely
cure the disease it will certainly obviate the languor depression of
Spirits
, Anxiety and fears which such patients are always liable to. Its
effect however will be assisted by frequent exercise in fresh air.
Moderate walking is allowable; but on account of the fatigue they are
so readily affected with. it cannot be of much Service and the usefull ex¬
ercise must be taken on horseback. I have often found benefit in
such Cases from Chalybeates. The best preparation is the Rubigo Chaly¬
bis
with a little cinnamon and Sugar. I dont give less than five grains
of the Rubigo for a Dose twice a day: And I often increase the dose
to ten or twenty grains. The Doses may be washed down with a light
infusion of the bark; but the large and long continued use of the bark
I believe is often hurtfull. I have sometimes found that a dose of Cam¬
phire
from five to ten grains would prevent accidents in the night &
you may try it; but it cannot be frequently repeated without loosing its
effect, and it must be employed at Intervals to prevent recurrances if
you can judge when they are to be expected. It is Common in such Cases
to employ a nourishing, or what is supposed a strengthening Diet; but it is
a mistake, and I would have your Patient by all means to avoid a full
Diet or strong meats. He may take some animal food at dinner, but it
should be the lightest and the least, and he should never take meat at supper;
a few Glasses of Wine are allowable; but they ought always to be a few only -
These are the best advices I can offer to your Patient; and I am perfectly
satisfied with the fee you intend for me. When you think I can be
of any further use you may write me freely without thinking another
fee necessary.


By your coming to Whitehaven I hope you have made a
Change for the better with respect to business, and if you have made it
with respect to health it is a great deal. I dont remember if I formerly
advised you to keep your head shaven and every night to employ a
flesh brush upon it and at other times to keep your head very warm;
but by this management I have lately found 1 fromObstinate headachs.
I have no objections to your trying Electricity; but it must be with
some Caution, for I suspect that strong shocks near the head may be
very dangerous, and I think at least you should begin by only taking
sparks and proceed gradually in taking shocks of a very moderate kind.
If you make the trial I shall be obliged to you for a report of its effects.


I am &.c
W C.
Edin.r 13 Septr 1777.

Notes:

1: The word "relief" seems to have been overlooked by the copyist at this point.

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