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MEDICAL MANUSCRIPT - An 18th century French medical manuscript

  • £1,750.00

MEDICAL MANUSCRIPT

153 closely-written pages in French, 4to, unbound, undated [but mid- or late-eighteenth century]. 
A remarkably interesting manuscript.
The manuscript gives extensive details of the symptoms, variations, and suggested treatments for a number of grave, potentially deadly, complaints.
Much time is given to abdominal or intestinal problems, with a lengthy discussion of the causes, symptoms and treatments for different types of Diarrhea, including in relation to smallpox, as well as “hydropsie” and “phtisie”.
Further sections, generally given Latin headings, deal with Lienteria, Fluxu Caeliaco, Colico Dolore, Lumbricis, Tenesmo, De fluxu hemorhoidum, De Ietero (liver complaints), De Schirro Inflammaone et abcessu hepatij, Obstructionibus Lienis Pancreatis Mesenterij, Cure de la nephretique (including discussion of kidney stones), De ulcere et Inflammatione Renum et vesica, De Diabete, Curation, De mortis vesica de Ischuria et Stranguria, De Dysuria, and De Inconatinentia Urina.
Methodus Curandi Hiacam is a complaint variously called “la passion iliaque” or “le miserere”, a dangerous attack, with violent abdominal pains and the section on Du Scorbut tells us that it is a disease “rare in these climes. It normally affects the inhabitants of the north and the English are also affected by it. The first are subject to it because of lack of perspiration, and the others because they eat too much meat . . .”
Cholera (Du Cholera Morbus) also comes under discussion. The recommended treatment for cholera morbus, which must be started quickly (“the patient dies within six hours from inflammation of the lower abdomen, or of the stomach, or from gangrene preceded by a loss of feeling of pain”) is bleeding to avoid inflammation, following by the intake of water, a decoction with barley, milk, egg yolk, chicken broth and, after the crisis, laudanum is recommended to aid rest. A potion made with quinine (“KinKina”) is also prescribed.
An unusual addition to the list is De Fame Canina – Bulimio, a description of bulimia.
A three-page section on De Phrenitide is written entirely in Latin.
The description, research and treatments of Hydropsie form a large part of this manuscript, first within the main body of the text, and in the final section. This opens with a page and a half of recommendations for diet and treatment after a puncture has been made. A bouillon is prescribed, made of a slice of beef, mutton from which the fat has been cut away, veal, an old cockerel, a partridge, a capon with the bones crushed in a marble mortar, seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, pepper and deer antlers, to be administered often and in small quantities.
This is followed by a very interesting page-long description of experiments made on the fluid taken from the abdomen of a person suffering from this complaint.
The final three pages of this section offer an exceptionally interesting case study, made in 1699, of a young woman, suffering from hydropsie, who was treated with punctures every fortnight, during which 13 to 14 pints of “milk” (described earlier as having similarities to milk when heated, for example, but lighter than milk) were drawn. The doctor treating this patient is named as M. Vernage of the Paris faculty, and two other experts, M. Mery and M. Homberg are also quoted.
The manuscript suffered from water damage at some point, mainly affecting the right margin, but it is otherwise in good, clear condition, in a very legible hand.

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