It didn't do to gloat about the weather yesterday...today has been the opposite...cold and wet.
But not to worry, I found a little jar of leather polish which I thought was all used up and it wasn't...so I've been carefully polishing the covers of the very old books. They are quite fragile and most of the covers are loose...I tie them in small bundles with plain fabric tape which keeps them together.
They are easy to read...unlike old manuscripts and documents...I usually just pick out bits here and there...gradually working my way through from beginning to end. One is purely medical...published in 1826, it consists of receipts for every malady known to man with heavy emphasis on blood-letting and opium.
I found advice about washing rooms when visitors are expected...you shouldn't, because sleeping in a freshly washed out room will cause chills even if there is a good fire in the hearth. And on no account were the windows to be opened to air out the room for the same reason...
And leeches for bleeding the patient...they should be discarded after use and fresh supplies bought. I very much doubt that had to do with hygiene...I'd think it was more because leeches are gluttons and drink a great deal of blood which lasts them a while before they need more...so you'd be left with fat bloated leeches who'd refuse to eat another drop until the last lot went down and made some space for more...
I do know when leeches are used in modern medicine they are fresh for each patient to prevent transmittable diseases but they hadn't discovered that in 1826.
Laudanum, opium and French brandy were dispensed willy-nilly for everything from constipation to hysterics...cold baths were the certain remedy for falling faints and fits and pity the tiny child suffering from infantile convulsions...they were given a mixture of laudanum, foxglove and brandy.
What is particularly interesting is one chapter about determining death...there must have been a geniune cause of concern that a person would be declared quite dead when they were in some form of coma...it wasn't called coma then...it was referred to as 'deathly sleep' which seems a good description. The favourite way of deciding on someone's permanent demise was...letting out some blood. In this case with a sharp lance, rather than the application of leeches. If the blood flowed freely then life still existed...if the blood flowed in a sluggish manner then they were dead.
No wonder it became almost the norm to have bells rigged up outside your grave in case you'd been buried too soon...
Women were described as 'delicate' and prone to hysterics...one of the remedies was frequent horse-riding which seemed to cure them of the hysterics...though I suppose they continued to be 'delicate'. I rather nastily thought that if they were the spinster daughters of a well-to-do family they were probably out of their minds with boredom and sexual frustration.
The liberal use of both opium and laudanum during the Victorian period has recently been studied in depth...both are powerful narcotics which are also highly addictive and today's research seems to point towards them as contributing towards many of the common ailments they were intended to cure.
Laudanum is still used nowadays, under strict hospital control, for the pain relief of new born babies born with heroin addiction.
I would think the book I have was written for the doctors of the upper classes...it's unlikely that the poorer people would have had ready access to medical help and would have relied on the local village woman who was conversant with herbals.
So, the book covers are polished...the washing is done, waiting until tomorrow to see if it's not raining, there is a dead hen in the oven and the oldies are fed...and I cleaned the top shelf...you know...the one over the bedroom door that the butter churn and salmon basket sit on. Several spiders ran for cover when they saw me...and I did a bit of Latin homework from the link that Gracie sent me...