The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 48 of 76

As to the other, which is to assist it cutting the teeth, that the nurse must do from time to time by mollifying and loosening them, and by rubbing them with her finger dipped in butter or honey; or let the child have a virgin-wax candle to chew upon; or anoint the gums with the mucilage of quince made with mallow-water, or with the brains of a hare; also foment the cheeks with the decoction of althoea, and camomile flowers and dill, or with the juice of mallows and fresh butter. If the gums are inflamed, add juice of nightshade and lettuce. I have already said, the nurse ought to take a temperate diet; I shall now only add, that barley-broth, water-gruel, raw eggs, prunes, lettuce and endive, are good for her; but let her avoid salt, sharp, biting and peppered meats, and wine.

SECT. IX.—Of the Flux of the Belly, or Looseness in Infants.

It is very common for infants to have the flux of the belly, or looseness, especially upon the least indisposition; nor is it to be wondered at, seeing their natural moistness contributes so much thereto; and even if it be extraordinarily violent, such are in a better state of health than those that are bound. The flux, if violent, proceeds from divers causes, as 1. From breeding of the teeth, and is then commonly attended with a fever in which the concoction is hindered, and the nourishment corrupted. 2. From watching. 3. From pain. 4. From stirring up of the humours by a fever. 5. When they suck or drink too much in a fever. Sometimes they have a flux without breeding of teeth, from inward cold in the guts or stomach that obstructs concoction. If it be from the teeth, it is easily known; for the signs of breeding in teeth will discover it. If it be from external cold, there are signs of other causes. If from a humour flowing from the head there are signs of a catarrh, and the excrements are frothy. If crude and raw humours are voided, and there be wind, belching, and phlegmatic excrements, or if they be yellow, green and stink, the flux is from a hot and sharp humour. It is best in breeding of teeth when the belly is loose, as I have said before; but if it be too violent, and you are afraid it may end in a consumption, it must be stopped; and if the excrements that are voided be black, and attended with a fever, it is very bad.

Cure. The remedy in this case, is principally in respect to the nurse, and the condition of the milk must be chiefly observed; the nurse must be cautioned that she eat no green fruit, nor things of hard concoction. If the child suck not, remove the flux with such purges as leave a cooling quality behind them, as syrup of honey or roses, or a clyster. Take the decoction of millium, myrobolans, of each two or three ounces, with an ounce or two of syrup of roses, and make a clyster. After cleansing, if it proceed from a hot cause, give syrup of dried roses, quinces, myrtles and a little sanguis draconis. Also anoint with oil of roses, myrtles, mastich, each two drachms; with oil of myrtles and wax make an ointment. Or take red roses and moulin, of each a handful; cypress roots two drachms; make a bag, boil it in red wine and apply it to the belly. Or use the plaster bread or stomach ointment. If the cause be cold, and the excrements white give syrup of mastich and quinces, with mint-water. Use outwardly, mint, mastich, cummin; or take rose seeds, an ounce, cummin, aniseed, each two drachms; with oil of mastich, wormwood and wax, make an ointment.

SECT. X.—Of the Epilepsy and Convulsions in Children.

This is a distemper that is often fatal to young children, and frequently proceeds from the brain, originating either from the parents, or from vapours, or bad humours that twitch the membranes of the brain; it is also sometimes caused by other distempers and by bad diet; likewise, the toothache, when the brain consents, causes it, and so does a sudden fright. As to the distemper itself, it is manifest and well enough known where it is; and as to the cause whence it comes, you may know by the signs of the disease, whether it comes from bad milk, or worms, or teeth; if these are all absent, it is certain that the brain is first affected; if it come with the small-pox or measles, it ceaseth when they come forth, if nature be strong enough.

Cure. For the remedy of this grievous, and often mortal distemper, give the following powder to prevent it, to a child as soon as it is born:—Take male peony roots, gathered in the decrease of the moon, a scruple; with leaf gold make a powder; or take peony roots, a drachm; peony seeds, mistletoe of the oak, elk's hoof, man's skull, amber, each a scruple; musk, two grains; make a powder. The best part of the cure is taking care of the nurse's diet, which must be regular, by all means. If it be from corrupt milk, provoke a vomit; to do which, hold down the tongue, and put a quill dipped in sweet almonds, down the throat. If it come from the worms, give such things as will kill the worms. If there be a fever, with respect to that also, give coral smaragad and elk's hoof. In the fit, give epileptic water, as lavender water, and rub with oil of amber, or hang a peony root, and elk's hoof smaragad, about the child's neck.

As to a convulsion, it is when the brain labours to cast out that which troubles it; the mariner is in the marrow of the back, and fountain of the nerves; it is a stubborn disease, and often kills.

Wash the body, when in the fit, with decoction of althoea, lily roots, peony and camomile flowerets, and anoint it with man's and goose's grease, oils of worms, orris, lilies, foxes, turpentine, mastich, storax and calamint. The sun flower is also very good, boiled in water, to wash the child.



Tent (surgical). A bunch of some fibre such as sponge or horsehair introduced into an opening, natural or artificial, to keep it open, or increase its calibre.



Having finished the first part of this book, and wherein, I hope, amply made good my promise to the reader, I am now come to treat only of those distempers to which they are more subject when in a breeding condition, and those that keep them from being so; together with such proper and safe remedies as may be sufficient to repel them. And since amongst all the diseases to which human nature is subject, there is none that more diametrically opposes the very end of our creation, and the design of nature in the formation of different sexes, and the power thereby given us for the work of generation, than that of sterility or barrenness which, where it prevails, renders the most accomplished midwife but a useless person, and destroys the design of our book; I think, therefore, that barrenness is an effect that deserves our first and principal consideration.


Of Barrenness; its several Kinds; with the proper Remedies for it; and the Signs of Insufficiency both in Men and Women.

SECTION I.—Of Barrenness in General.

Barrenness is either natural or artificial.

Natural barrenness is when a woman is barren, though the instruments of generation are perfect both in herself and in her husband, and no preposterous or diabolical course used to it, and neither age, nor disease, nor any defect hindering, and yet the woman remains naturally barren.

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