the friend online
07 November 2008

‘Towards the Improvement of Physick’ – how the National Health Service was a twinkle in the eye of a seventeenth-century Quaker philanthropist - preview

…‘though sometimes it succeeded not at first, yet hath it never died: But at one time or another, hath taken effect.’– Lord Chief Justice Cook

Understandably, the idea that rich and poor should have universal free medical care was a non-starter in the early eighteenth century
  • Nevertheless, John Bellers marshalled as many facts and predictions about the health of the nation as he could to inform Parliament, the aristocracy and anyone with influence who would listen
  • It isn’t unreasonable to suspect him of hypochondria; just listen to him outlining in great detail the action of his bowels to his friend and physician Hans Sloane
  • ‘The occasion of my sending this at present is to let thee know that I have been attended since I came into ye country & also before with loose stools tho mostly but one a day, but if I take milk or chocolate with Spaw Water or Beer I am apt to have 2 or 3 in a day
  • I think I find riding is good for it, but having so great a tendency to it and ye winter is coming on & I intending if not prevented to come for London in about 14 days, I am desirous of some advice from thee about it, I have been inclined to take some rubub & some Laudinum but am desirous of thy advice first I take a hot drink when I have more than one stool a day & sometimes an Egg for my Breakfast…’

    Judy Kirby

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