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beams of the sun ; from whence, 't is said, it derives a very balsamic virtue. A little of this applied to any instrument that has done mischief, or to a rag dipped into, or stained with the blood of a wound, never fails of curing the patient at the widest distance, provided the wound be curable.
Sir Kenelm Digby, to advance the credit of this surprising medicine, speaks very largely in commendation thereof, in a little treatise of his, written first in French, upon the same subject; wherein he boasts of a remarkable cure performed by himself, in a most wonderful manner, with only the use of this astonishing powder; and therefore, as in religious cases example goes beyond precept, so, to convince you of the miracles performed by sympathy, instances, perhaps, may prove more effectual than arguments : for which reason, I shall proceed to furnish you with a notable experiment of this magical powder, and so conclude.
Mr. James Howell, a trusty servant to King James I., famous in those days for compiling a treatise, entitled “Dendrologia,” and afterwards for his legacy to the world, called “Epistolæ Ho-Elianæ,” happened, when he was a young gentleman, to accidentally come by, when two of his dearest friends were fiercely engaged in a very dangerous duel, and to prevent further mischief, very likely to ensue, too rashly catched, hold, with his naked hand, of his sword, whose passion prompted him to be the most desperate; in which attempt, the weapon being drawn through Mr. Howell's palm, cut the nerves and muscles thereof to the very bone, and, as they were thus scuffling, holding up the same hand to defend one of his friends from a blow upon his head, received another cut upon the back of his hand, cross all the veins and tendons, more terrible than the former; which, his friends perceiving, put a sudden stop to their inebrious fury, ran both to embrace him, and express their sorrow for the unhappy accident, lending him their assistance to bind up his wounds with his own garters, and so conducted him to his lodgings, where they sent directly for a surgeon, who found the case desperate, for he bled abundantly.
Mr. Howell being a gentleman much respected by the quality, the news of his misfortune soon reached the court; and his Majesty having a great regard for him, sent one of his own surgeons to attend him, who found the case to be so very bad that he seemed doubtful of a cure, without cutting off his hand; which occasioned Mr. Howell, about five days after the hurt was received, to apply himself to his good friend and neighbour, Sir Kenelm Digby, who at that time was famous for the sympathetic powder, begging his assistance in that painful extremity, telling him, that his surgeons were apprehensive of a gangrene.
Sir Kenelm, opening the wounds, found a terrible case of it, and a dangerous inflammation upon the part, which, Mr. Howell acknowledged, gave him such intolerable pain as was scarce supportable. The knight asked him if he had any bandage with the
Mr. Howell answered, yes ; accordingly sent his servant for the bloody garter which had first bound up his wounds, and delivered it to
blood upon it.
Sir Kenelm, who, calling for a basin of water, went into his closet for a handful of his powder, which he infused therein, and then soaked the garter in the same liquor, whilst Mr. Howell was talking with another gentleman, at the further end of the room, not knowing in the least what Sir Kenelm was doing; who, after he had bathed the garter in the basin about a minute, called to his patient, and asked him how he found himself, who answered, “So wonderful easy that the inflammation seems to be totally extinguished, the pain quite gone off, and my hand I find as cool and as much refreshed as if it was wrapped up in a wet napkin.” “Then,” replied the knight, “Aling off your dressings, meddle no more with plaisters, only keep your wounds clean and from the air, and I doubt not, but in a few days' time, I shall effectually cure you, without putting you to any further trouble.” Much comforted with this assurance, Mr. Howell took a thankful leave of Sir Kenelm, and so departed.
Mr. Howell had not been gone above a quarter of an hour, before the knight took the garter out of the liquor, to dry it before the fire, and carelessly hanging it a little too near, the extraordinary heat, by the concatenation of effluvias, had such an effect upon the patient, that he made as many wry faces as a cook that had burnt his fingers ; upon which he despatched his servant, with all imaginable expedition, to let his doctor know what a condition he was relapsed into.
Sir Kenelm, who presently conjectured the cause of this disaster, smiling at the message the servant had delivered, and snatching the garter from the fire, told him that his master should be very easy by the time he could return to him, which the footman, by the acknowledgment of his master, found to be true accordingly, Sir Kenelm doing nothing more to work this change, than cooling the reeking garter by a speedy repetition of his former application ; so that, without any further accident interposing, the patient was thoroughly cured, in five or six days' time, by this extraordinary method, to the inexpressible admiration of all his Majesty's surgeons.
Sir, this is all, at present, I am at leisure to say in answer to your letter, and, I doubt, you will think it enough too, except more to the purpose. What extraordinary cures you happen to perform by your new method, I desire you will communicate to me as soon as you can conveniently, for to hear of your success will be no little satisfaction to, sir, your assured friend, and humble servant.