Friday 1 July 1664

Up and within all the morning, first bringing down my Tryangle to my chamber below, having a new frame made proper for it to stand on. By and by comes Dr. Burnett, who assures me that I have an ulcer either in the kidneys or bladder, for my water, which he saw yesterday, he is sure the sediment is not slime gathered by heat, but is a direct pusse. He did write me down some direction what to do for it, but not with the satisfaction I expected.

Dr. Burnett’s advice to mee.

The Originall is fyled among my letters.

Take of ye Rootes of Marsh-Mallows foure ounces, of Cumfry, of Liquorish, of each two ounces, of ye Mowers of St. John’s Wort two Handsfull, of ye Leaves of Plantan, of Alehoofe, of each three handfulls, of Selfeheale, of Red Roses, of each one Handfull, of Cynament, of Nutmegg, of each halfe an ounce. Beate them well, then powre upon them one Quart of old Rhenish wine, and about Six houres after strayne it and clarify it with ye white of an Egge, and with a sufficient quantity of sugar, boyle it to ye consistence of a Syrrup and reserve it for use.

Dissolve one spoonefull of this Syrrup in every draught of Ale or beere you drink.

Morning and evening swallow ye quantity of an hazle-nutt of Cyprus Terebintine.

If you are bound or have a fit of ye Stone eate an ounce of Cassia new drawne, from ye poynt of a knife.

Old Canary or Malaga wine you may drinke to three or 4 glasses, but noe new wine, and what wine you drinke, lett it bee at meales.

—[From a slip of paper inserted in the Diary at this place.]—

I did give him a piece, with good hopes, however, that his advice will be of use to me, though it is strange that Mr. Hollyard should never say one word of this ulcer in all his life to me. He being gone, I to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, and so to my office, busy till the evening, and then by agreement came Mr. Hill and Andrews and one Cheswicke, a maister who plays very well upon the Spinette, and we sat singing Psalms till 9 at night, and so broke up with great pleasure, and very good company it is, and I hope I shall now and then have their company. They being gone, I to my office till towards twelve o’clock, and then home and to bed. Upon the ‘Change, this day, I saw how uncertain the temper of the people is, that, from our discharging of about 200 that lay idle, having nothing to do, upon some of our ships, which were ordered to be fitted for service, and their works are now done, the towne do talk that the King discharges all his men, 200 yesterday and 800 to-day, and that now he hath got 100,000l. in his hand, he values not a Dutch warr. But I undeceived a great many, telling them how it is.

34 Annotations

Pedro   Link to this

Comfrey

What was it that Sam was suffering from?

Gerard gives a long list of virtues, of which some are a little unexpected.

"The slime substance of the roote made in a posset of ale, and given to drink against the paine in the back, gotten by any violent motion, as wrestling, or over much use of women, doth in fower or five daies perfectly cure the same, although the involuntarie flowering of seed in men be gotten thereby"

(Geoffrey Grigson...The Englishman's Flora.)

Used as a healing poltice, contains allantoin, the whole plant regarded as master healer.

Prior to World War I leaves were transported to Manchester markets for cotton mill workers to line their clogs and ease tired feet. Also widely eaten during WWII, and main use now is as "green" manure.

(Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey 1996)

Pedro   Link to this

And one for those across the Pond...

Plantain

When the plant migrated to North America with the early settlers, amongst the Indians it was known as "English Man's Foot", because they seemed to dog the settler's tracks as though produced by their treading. (Living on after being crushed).

(Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey 1996)

One of the nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs

Pedro   Link to this

And one for those across the Pond...

Plantain

When the plant migrated to North America with the early settlers, amongst the Indians it was known as "English Man's Foot", because they seemed to dog the settler's tracks as though produced by their treading. (Living on after being crushed).

(Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey 1996)

One of the nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs

Pedro   Link to this

And one for those across the Pond...

Plantain

When the plant migrated to North America with the early settlers, amongst the Indians it was known as "English Man's Foot", because they seemed to dog the settler's tracks as though produced by their treading. (Living on after being crushed).

(Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey 1996)

One of the nine Anglo-Saxon sacred herbs

Terry F   Link to this

I'm trying to imagine how the syrup would taste. Would the liquorish dominate?

Hazel-nut would be good, and cassia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassia

Comfrey's cultivation is interesting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey

Pedro   Link to this

And one for Ruben

Cyprus Terebintine... Cyprus turpentine

Pistacia terebinthus var. palæstina, a deciduous tree (pace Wilkin, who seems to confuse it with the so-called camphor tree) which yields "Cyprus turpentine". Moldenke has the following to say about it: "In the time of Josephus (about 37-95 A.D.) there was a giant terebinth tree near Hebron, which legend stated had been there 'since the creation of the world' [BJ iv.9.7; cf. Ant. i.10.4, where Josephus speaks of the oak Ogyges, which may or may not be the same tree].

Cyprus turpentine

A TURPENTINE, apparently a synonym for CHIAN TURPENTINE
Not found in the OED
See also CHIAN TURPENTINE, COMMON TURPENTINE, HORSE TURPENTINE, VENICE TURPENTINE, OIL OF TURPENTINE, TURPENTINE.
Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates. From: 'Cyperus - Cyprus water', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 (2007). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com.... Date accessed: 30 June 2007.

Paul Dyson   Link to this

Comfrey, also known colloquially as "knitbone".

Regarded, in my childhood and since (and to this day by my mother) as very good for bruises and aches in the joints or bones. Leaves were preserved dry, then usually some were boiled and placed damp against the bruise and held there by a bandage, to be replaced when they dried out. The liquor, when hot, might be used to bathe the bruise, or as a foot bath if an ankle or foot was hurt. There is a strong but not unpleasant smell. I can't swear to it's efficacy, but it didn't seem to do any harm - perhaps it was the heat which helped. I've never known it be used internally however.

Terry F   Link to this

"he is sure the sediment is not slime gathered by heat, but is a direct pusse."

Do I read this aright as bespeaking the rejection of a humoural explanation in favor of a pathological one?

"[I]t is strange that Mr. Hollyard should never say one word of this ulcer in all his life to me."

Hollier, I take it, was yet fully concerned with humoural diagnoses, Dr. Burnett not, so Pepys is, natch, puzzled: new paradigm.

Patricia   Link to this

Comfrey: as indicated in the Wikipedia reference by Terry F, modern herbals counsel against the ingestion of comfrey in any significant quantity. As to the comfrey baths, they are more likely to be prescribed to heal childbirth-related tears to the perineum than to "restore virginity".

"Morning and evening swallow ye quantity of an hazle-nutt of Cyprus Terebintine." I take this to mean, not that he took hazelnut, but a quantity of Cyprus Terebintine equal to the size of a hazelnut. Like the recipes from Grandma, "Add a quantity of butter, about the size of an egg", etc.

St. John's Wort can cause photosensitivity; rose petals make nice jam.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"but is a direct pusse"
He might have been thinking of a Pyelitis or Cystitis,but they usually come with fever and Sam as I recall never complained of fever: the St John's Wort is still used nowadays,but for depression.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I think Burnett has made a shrewd observation of pus in Sam's urine indicating inflammation. Sam actually has complained of chills and fever on several occasions over the year, I believe. Spoiler...To jump ahead to his autopsy, as described by Tomalin, "...the left kidney contained seven irregular stones joined in a mass adhering to his back, the surrouding areas including the gut much inflamed, septic and mortified, the bladder gangrenous and the old wound from the stone operation broken open again." Of course it's decades in the future and whether Burnett has actually caught something early is difficult to say.

cape henry   Link to this

"...this Syrrup..." Wouldn't it be interesting to know how Burnett came to this particular recipe in this particular case?On the one hand, one might view him studiously consulting books and tables in his office, or one the other, making this little formula up on the way over that morning.

cape henry   Link to this

[correction above: "on" the other]

MissAnn   Link to this

Ah yes, St John's Wort - the saviour of modern day folk who are anti-anti-depressants. I almost killed myself by taking this alternative before finding out that it doesn't mix with Thyroxine, upon which I rely to remain alive since having my thyroid removed due to cancer.

The mixture sounds yukky to me, the wine and ale could make you a little woozy on top of all the other ingredients. Glad I'm living now and not then.

jeannine   Link to this

After reading this list of concoctions all I could think is that perhaps Batten and a few other of Sam'e office enemies have slipped a few pounds to the good Doctor to take care of their problem once and for all!

I wonder if the above combination would have actually hurt him?

Bradford   Link to this

Perhaps the idea is throw a little bit of everything in, and make it just difficult enough to be impressive, in hopes that one ingredient or the other does some good. (Of course, many medicines today are still made from "natural" extracts.) Terry seems spot-on with his diagnosis of Humoural vs. Pathological.

Terry F   Link to this

For Pedro's Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 - Cyperus - Cyprus water, a better link:

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com...

Thanks to Pedro for The Dictionary, a fascinating and odd list and resource. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pub...

Clement   Link to this

"...it is strange that Mr. Hollyard should never say one word of this ulcer in all his life to me."

I think it is fascinating that an educated man like Sam would have thought it unusual that two physicians could have differing opinions about an issue of his health.

It also seems ironic that as medical science has improved people have also dropped their expectations of phycians' omniscience.

But while the expectation of infallibility was greater perhaps for Sam and his peers I'm sure physcians didn't carry the same liability for human error as physicians do today.

Clement   Link to this

"humoural v. pathological"

What a great observation. It will be interesting to watch going forward if their diagnoses continue to support that notion.

Pedro   Link to this

Self Heal

A popular wound-herb used in the country until quite recently. "In the Kentish Weald during the War a family of charcoal burners used the leaves of Self-heal for cuts and bruises. The leaves were smeared with lard which acted as a binding and soothing agent.

(Cumsalisgrano told us on the 28th that he had been frollicking the The Wealds and other sundry places)

(Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey 1996)

Terry F   Link to this

Self Heal(Pedro, you can be our curandero)

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/selfhe40....

jeannine   Link to this

Spoiler..

Perhaps John Sr. (Sam's dad) was not too impressed with Dr. Burnet's advice??? On July 10th he sends a long letter to Sam which ends with the following:

"dear Child I am very troubled what my lord potiecarries fear is of you -that you have an ulser groeing in your kidnes. for godsak let me beg of you that you will have mr holards advice and som able docter of his acquantance with as much speed as you can. and to beg a blesing from the lord that your life may be preserved for what a sad condishen shuld your poor old father and mother be in of the lord shuld tak you before us...."

Helen Heath's The LEtters of Samuel Pepys and his Family Circle"

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Dear child..."

A very sweet address to an frantically energetic and assertively rising young man. No wonder Sam continues so strong in his affectionate regard to John Sr.

Pedro   Link to this

More on Plantain

Terry you should not encourage me. Curandero lets slip an "i" after the "e" so as not to upset our Queene!

On St. John's Day in 1694, John Aubrey was walking in a pasture behind Montagu House (not our man), at noon he saw about 22 women most of them well habited, on their knees very busy, as if they had been weeding. Puzzled he asked a young man what they were up to: "They are looking for a coal under the root of the plantain to put under their head that night, and they should dream who would be their husbands." It was to be sought for that day and hour.

Marsh Mallow

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mallo...

Grigson tells us Culpepper says that for the London apothecaries, herb women picked the leaves and dug up the roots on the Salt Marches of the Thames eastuary.

Geoffrey Grigson...The Englishman's Flora.

Alehoof or Ground Ivy...

The chief bitter before the general use and cultivation of hops.

A Modern Herbal

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/i/ivygr...

Terry F   Link to this

Sorry, Pedro -- I thought at once of a a Maya shaman whose plants an old friend who's an anthropologist has been cataloging, so first instinct was, ah, Spanish.

Terry F   Link to this

If Hollier was a surgeon specialising in lithotomy, perhaps SP also needs a Burnett. Not every pain is a stone.

Pedro   Link to this

Liquorice in Pontefract

"By 1614 the Extract of Liquorice was being formed into small lozenges and Sir George Saville applied a small stamp to each round 'cake'. This was an early form of what would become the famous Pontefract Cakes, although they were still used as a medicine. Large areas of the town and surrounding areas were growing liquorice. Even the castle yard was turned over to its cultivation after the Civil War."

http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/CultureAndLeisure/H...

Pedro   Link to this

"of Nutmegg, of each halfe an ounce"

How much would Dr. Burnett's cureall cost, and how much for half an ounce of nutmeg? Nutmeg in London in 1760 was 90 shillings a pond, about 3 shillings for half an ounce.

"In the 17th and 18th centuries, the price of nutmeg was much higher in England than it was on the European continent."

http://www.websitesrcg.com/ambon/history/histor...

(Disclaimer...This does not in any way suggest that we should go to war.)

language hat   Link to this

"humoural v. pathological"

OK, I can't resist. Apologies in advance:

"You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach."

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/77/77rtheodoric.phtml

Bradford   Link to this

Why, you couldn't get a diagnosis like that nowadays, given the state of Managed Care. Now let's track and see if there's a causal connection between the recurrent Venison Pasty and the bouts of Prevailing Wind.

Robert Gertz   Link to this


The unforgettable good ole Theodoric, Medieval Barber...Thanks, LH. And never forget, he was poised on the brink...For a brief moment.

"Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly follow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a "scientific method". Maybe this "scientific method" could be extended to other fields of learning: the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation. Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance! [ thinks for a minute ]

Naaaaaahhh!"

More seriously, honor and admiration to both Burnett and Hollier, good (and brave, proven in Hollier's, and to be shortly proven in Burnett's case) men struggling to do their best for their patients with few tools and against incredible odds. One can see where a practical man like John Pepys Sr. might find Hollier's ability to cut something out and produce a cure a bit more believable than Burnett's potions.

And yet I think Burnett's on to something with Sam.

Australian Susan   Link to this

"singing psalms" Probably from the Geneva Psalter. See http://www.sfts.edu/liebert/psalmsresources/Sho...
We are still familiar with many of these tunes such as Crimond (Ps 23) and The Old Hundreth (Ps 100 - All people That On Earth Do Dwell)

Australian Susan   Link to this

Cromwell's troops used to go into battle singing Psalms. Psalm 85 was reputed to be Cromwell's favourite (information from Antonia Fraser's biog. "Our Chief of Men".

Pedro   Link to this

and how much for half an ounce of nutmeg?

We will have to wait until 1665 for Sam to give us his valuation.

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