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Edward Baynard (1641-1719) of London must have been a pinchy/gouty physician. Or not. Perhaps he was an overdressed, deeply-dimpled fop. Or perhaps he was skinnily invisible, a plain, vanishing custard of a man, scrupulously clean and who saved all money, deeply in love with his chambermaid, sleeping on a mattress of gold.
But what he
was a definite cynic, occasionally cranky to his own reaching profession. His poem, Health, a Poem, Shewing How to Procure,
Preserve and Restore It, was a best-selling book, reaching at least
ten editions during his lifetime. It evidently contained a number of frugal
dispensations on achieving health, most of which involved purging. Or sweating. Or vomiting.
Such was the state of the art, much like our own when viewed from the
year 2109. (I overheard a conversation
this morning in a hot dusty field, a physician saying that we would never simply
ingest a plil that would render us a new liver.
Well. How would the
contemporaries of the newly discovered X-Ray have viewed the peek into the
future of the “discovery” of DNA in 1953, only 59 years later? And what about the enormous difference in the
state of medicine and imaging capacities in the 56 years since then? Phenomenal.
It would be nearly impossible to say what developments in medicine await
the grandkids in their late years? Or in
300 years? Hypo-livers in Dixie cups, I say.)
Returning to Dr. Baynard—he summarized the ten most important words and concepts in medicine in the second poem of his book, as follows. He held little in reserve.
“For some of the ten are always advised:
Piss, spew and spit
Perspiration and sweat
Purge, bleed and blister
Issues and clyster
These few enunciations
Cure all the doctor’s patients
If rightly applied
By a wise physic guide”
[“Clyster” is an enema; “an ‘issue’ refers to the Galenic practice of creating an infection at some designated spot on the body because of the belief that some kind of ‘sympathy’ between the illness and the localized pool of pus would draw the illness out of the body”. ]