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The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) online

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acid fumes. Its longest diameter is between 8 and g, and its shortest betwixt
6 and 7 tenths of an inch ; its weight is 108 grains.

We find frequent mention, in the description of thunder storms in hot cli-
mates, that there falls often a flaming bituminous matter to the ground, which
sometimes burns not to be soon extinguished, but more frequently spatters into
an infinite number of fiery sparks, doing great damage where they strike,
always attended with a sulphureous suffocating smell, commonly compared to
that of gunpowder.

"Whether this sulphureous ball was intended for one of these, but by some
accident missed firing, it is now time to consider. Had it been formed in the
earth, how should it get to the surface, without losing that most elegant frosty
covering of fine shining crystals, and appear not in the least sullied, or its pores

• Mr. F. in the letter prefixed to this account remarks, that though the spleen had been often
taken out of dogs, yet this he believes to be the first instance of the extirpation of a considerable por-
tion of it in the human subject.


filled with earth, or other terrestrial matter ; on the contrary, not the least ad-
hesion of any thing of that kind can be observed : besides, brimstone made the
ordinary way, seems to have a different texture of its internal parts from this
ball. From these observations Mr. Cooke concludes it not formed in the

^n Account of a Book entitled, Observationes de Aere et Mar bis epidemicis, ab
Anno 1728, ad Jinem Anni I737> Plymuthi facta-. His accedit Opusculum
de Morbo Colico Damnoniensi. Auctore Joanne Huxham, M. £>., R. S. S,
Londini, 1739, 8vo. Drawn up by Thomas Stack, M. D., F. R. S.
N°431, p. 429.

This book and the continuation of it, are so well known to medical men of
the present day, that it is deemed unnecessary to reprint Dr. Stack's analysis
of it.

An Abstract by C. Mortimer, M. D. Seer. R. S. of an Inaugural Dissertation
published at JVittemberg 1736, by Dr. Abraham Fater, F. R, S. concerning
the Cure of the Bite of a Fiper, cured by Sallad-Oil. N" 451, p. 440.

The author being informed of the use of oil of olives against the bite of
vipers, in the case of William Oliver, before several members of the R. S. and
others ; he communicated the same to Dr. Vater at Dresden, who had an op-
portunity of trying the efficacy of this remedy, by an accident happening in that
city ; which case being remarkable, he has related it at large in the above-
mentioned dissertation, as follows :

The head journeyman in the Royal Dispensary at Dresden, being the last
year preparing some Italian vipers for a patient of distinction, was, through
negligence, bitten by one of them in one of his fingers. The man, finding
himself wounded, was greatly frightened, he tried various things ; among others
he applied theriaca outwardly to the wound, but felt no relief from it ; and in
the space of a few hours, his whole arm swelling to an enormous degree, he
felt great pain in it, with remarkable tensions under his arm-pit towards his heart,
attended with a faintness. Therefore, almost despairing of recovery, having
tried all things in vain ; he went to Dr. Vater, who having been informed of
the virtue of olive-oil in this case, as before mentioned, ordered the man to
anoint his whole arm with it hot, and several times, on which the desired effect
soon followed : for the swelling, after one or two anointings, began to fall ; the
pains, with the other symptoms, were assuaged, and gradually ceased, and the
patient recovered perfectly in a day or two. He took nothing inwardly besides




a simple mixture, (Sp. Vitriol dulcis. Sp. Vitriol, p. i, Sp. V, p, iij,) with an
anodyne mineral liquor, on which a copious sweat ensued, which sensibly re-
lieved the patient. Though this medicine might contribute to the cure, yet
the chief part in this affair is to be ascribed to the oil of oh'ves, because on
anointing with it, the symptoms abated instantly.

Dr. Vater, in speaking of the serpentine or viper-stone, relates a very ex-
traordinary accident, if true, from Kaenipfer's Amaenit. p. 579. The case was
this : in the house of a Dutch governor on the coast of Coromandel, a ser-
vant maid happened to be bitten in the foot by a cobra cabelo. The serpentine-
stone was immediately laid on; which falling ofF, and no other being to be had,
nor any new milk being at hand to wash out the pores of the stone in, a wet
nurse being in the house, who was anxious for the sudden effects of the poison,
milked some milk upon the stone out of her own breasts; on which her nipple
began immediately to be painful, and soon after the whole breast of that side
swelled, and was inflamed, even to the hazard of her life for 3 days together,
and the hardness did not leave her breast in less than 10 days. It must be re-
marked, that her nipple was before somewhat excoriated by the gum of her
nursling, by which the small veins being laid bare, it was readier to receive the
infection of the venom rendered more active by the warmth of the milk.

When he speaks of oil of olives in particular, and its effects against poison
in general, he cites a remarkable passage from Matthiolus in his Comment,
Lib. 2, Dioscorid. p. 232, where he says, he had found by experience, that
oil prepared by himself, into which a great number of scorpions had been put,
being anointed on the heart, and where the pulsations of the arteries of the
hands and feet are felt, frees from all poisons; nay, it likewise cures those who
have been bitten by vipers, or stung by any other venomous animals. The
author, comparing this with the virtue of the oil alone, for the bite of a viper,
concludes, that the scorpions infused in it add nothing to its real virtue.

He concludes this dissertation, by endeavouring to explain the manner of
its operating, which he attributes to its fat inviscating nature, by which it
sheathes the spiculse of the poison. He remarks, that Celsus, Lib. 5, c. 27,
advises, after dipping a person in a hydrophobia in cold water, to put him into
warm oil. Lastly, he mentions the great secret of the viper- catchers, that
is, the fat of vipers ; which, he thinks, acts in the same manner as the


Abstracts of 1 Letters from M. Dufay, F. R. S. &c. to Dr. Mortimer, Sec.
R. S. concerning the Efficacy of Oil of Olives in curing the Bite of Fiper^.
N°451, p. 444.

In the 1st extract, dated Paris, Aug. 8, 1737, M. Dufay says, after he had
given the Academy an account of Dr. M.'s observations on the remedy against
the bite of vipers, a committee was appointed to make the same experiments.
But whether it be, that the French vipers are more venomous than the English,
or that the bites were more considerable, of the several pigeons and fowls that
were bitten, not one recovered, though they were immediately rubbed with
oil. They died in -J- of an hour, or in 1 hour's time at farthest. The like
experiments have been made on several other animals; but as the gentlemen
are resolved to repeat them, M. D. did not send an account of them. All he
could say at that time was, that the remedy seemed to be not so sure in France
as in England, where he found by the public newspapers, that a rattle-snake
had been brought, and that its bite has been cured by the same remedy.

In the 2d Abstract, dated at Paris, Dec. 11, 1737, he says, two members
of the Academy had been employed to make the experiments relating to the
cure of the bite of vipers, and they had accordingly n)ade some upon dogs,
cats, pigeons, chickens, ducks and turkeys; some of which had been cured,
but some others died notwithstanding this remedy; and there were even some
that did not die, though they were bitten very deep, and yet no application of
oil was made. This is the report they had made of these experiments; and
they are determined to make new ones. All that can be thought concerning
the difference of the success of this remedy at London and at Paris, is, that
all vipers are not equally venomous; that all bites are not perhaps equally easy
to be cured ; and that the vipers in France are more dangerous than those in
England. Finally, the sequel of these experiments will probably teach us, in
what cases this remedy may be applied in this country, France.

M. D. then remarks that they had made with success the phosphorus of
Kunckel, as good and as fine as that of Mr. Godfrey : they made 9 drachms
at the first operation.

Concerning the Poison of Henbane- Roots. By Dr. Patouillat, Physician at
Toucy in France. N° 451, p. 446.

The 26th of Jan. 1737, Dr. P. was called to a cottage near Toucy; where
he was surprised to find 9 persons together, all having the true symptoms of
being poisoned ; with this difference, that some were speechless, and showed

M M 2


no Other signs of life than by convulsions, contortions of their limbs, and the
risus sardonicus; all having their eyes starting out of their heads, and their
mouths drawn backwards on both sides; others had all the symptoms alike.
However, 5 of them now and then opened their mouths, but it was to utter
bowlings: and whenever they expressed articulated words, it seemed as if they
would prophesy. One, for example, said. In a month my neighbour will lose
a cow: another. In a little time you will see the crown pieces of 60 pence at
5 livres. Among these Q persons, there was a woman 5 months gone with
child, and a child of 2 years; 4 boys of Q, 12, 15 and 18; and 3 girls of 15,
17 and ig years of age, who had all 3 the misfortune of the green- sickness
upon them at that time. The madness of all these patients was so complete,
and their agitations so violent, that in order to give one of them the antidote,
he was forced to employ 6 strong men to hold him, while he was getting his
teeth asunder, to pour down the remedy : and as they could not all be watched
at once, one of the boys got away, and ran to a pond 100 paces from the
house, into which he leaped; but as he was seen, he was soon taken out.

It was in vain to examine those wretches concerning the nature of the poison
they had taken, as they were quite senseless. Happily the father of the family,
by being absent, was free from this misfortune. Of him Dr. P. learned, that
digging his garden the preceding day, he had found several roots resembling
common parsnips ; and having carried them home for parsnips, they were
boiled in the soup ; and the unlucky mistake was not apprehended, till the
children were in this dreadful state. He described the plant, which he thought
he had taken for parsnips; on which Dr. P. went into the garden, to find what
it was; but as it had no leaves, he was obliged to derive the knowledge of it
from the roots; and soon knew it to be the henbane,* which is a very strong
poison; and so much the more dangerous, as the patients could give no account
of their ailments, nor of the quantity of the poison they had taken.

To the boys Dr. P. gave the Tartar. Stibiat. in so large a dose, that the
oldest took 45 grains, and the others in proportion.

For the woman, he had recourse to Theriaca in a triple dose; not thinking
it safe to give her the emetic, on account of her pregnancy. He gave the same
remedy to the child, by reason of its tenderness.

To the girls, besides the Theriaca, which they took in very large doses,
having used 4 oz. of it, he gave warm milk, in which was dissolved salt of
rue. The next day he visited the patients, and found them in a quite different
condition; for they had all recovered the use of their reason, but remembered

* Hyoscyamus niger. Linn.


nothing of what liad happened. All this day, every object appeared double to
them, that is, on looking at a man, or a beast, or a tree, they saw two.

He returned to see them the day after, and found that the symptoms were
removed; but were succeeded by another altogether as surprising, viz. all ob-
jects appeared to them as red as scarlet. This last symptom ceased gradually
on the third day, and after that time they made no complaint.

Concerning the Firiues of the Star of the Earth, Coronopus, or Bucks-horn
Plantain, in the Cure of the Bite of the Mad-Dog. By the Rev. Mr. The..
Steward, F.D.M. N°451, p. 44g.

Mr. S. here states that, in the Phil. Trans. N° 443, two vegetables are
mentioned as possessing great virtues against the hydrophobia; viz. the lichen-
cinereus terrestris and the stellaria or star of the earth, by which king James's
hounds, that had been bitten by a mad-dog, are said to have been cured. But
the last mentioned plant (the star of the earth) he apprehends to be a mistake,
Mr. Ray having taken the Spanish catchfly for the star of the earth ; whereas
according to Mr. S. the true star of the earth is the coronopus or bucks-horn
plantain, as Mr. Ray himself acknowledged in a letter to Mr. S. adding that he
(Mr. Ray) concluded that a false plant had been sent to the king for the star of
the earth.

Relative to this subject Mr. S. introduces the following letter from Sir Hans
Sloane, the then president of the R. S. to Mr. Ray, dated June I, 1687, in
these words : " I send you inclosed the specimen of a plant growing on New-
market-Heath, and in Surrey, known by the name of the star of the earth in
those parts. It is particularly taken notice of on the account of its extraordi-
nary and admirable virtue, in curing the biting of mad-dogs, either in beasts or
men. One of his majesty's huntsmen having proved it a great many times,
gave the king his way of using it, which was an infusion in wiue with treacle,
and one or two more simples. His majesty was pleased to communicate it to
Gresham College, to the R. S. and nobody knowing the plant by that name,
some there present confirming its use in some parts of England in that disease
the herb being as little known here as if it came from the Indies, I told the
society, I would let you have the best specimen of it, which I question not is
known to you. If you please to give your sentiments, you will extremely
oblige, 8cc." To this Mr. Ray returned the following answer: " I received
your letter with the specimen inclosed, which seems to me to be the sesamoides
salamanticum magnum of Clusius, or lychnis vise. &c. of Bauhin, which I have


observed to grow plentifully upon Newmarket Heath, &c. I wonder it should
have such a virtue as you mention, but it seems it is well attested. Dr.
Hulse writes to me, he finds it in Grey's Farrier."* This (Mr. S. observes)
seems pretty evidently to refer to the same plant mentioned by Aubry,-|- and
this surely was the plant that not being well dried and preserved, the society
could not tell what to make of, and which Mr. Ray found to be the sesamoides,
which he then thought was the plant that Grey called the star of the earth ;
but upon further consideration, he was firmly persuaded, that the coronopus,
and not the sesamoides, was the plant intended by de Grey (for so his name
ought to be written) and indeed, to Mr. S. there seemed to be the greatest
probability, if not absolute certainty, of this latter opinion; for the sesa-
moides was a plant so little known in Grey's time, that the botanists who were
contemporary with him, took it for a plant that was wholly a stranger in England,
as may be seen in Johnson upon Gerard, and in Parkinson, and the manner of
giving it, as directed by Grey, viz. first 3, then 5, and then ^ plants, roots
and all, speaks it to be a small herb, such as is the coronopus, and not such a
large one, with a great, sticky or woody root, as the sesamoides. Of this
Mr. S. was very sure, that in Norfolk, his native county, and which, if he
mistook not, was Grey's also, the coronopus is called the star of the earth
(and among other names given it by Dodonaeus, this of Stellaria, and Stella
Terrae, is one, p. 95 of the English translation; and he describes it as lying

* Entitled, The Expert Farrier, 2d edition, -tto. l652, p. 1 60. His receipt is as follows :
" Take the herb which grows in dry and barren hills, called the star of the earth j gathering it
3 days together. The first time you must gather 3 of these herbs, with all the whole roots ;
and wash them clean, and pound them well ; which done, give them to your horse in milk,
beer, ale, or white- wine ; but be carefiil the horse takes all the herbs and roots : if you will,
you may make up these herbs and roots in fresh or sweet butter, which wUl do as well. The
2d day give the horse 5 of these herbs and roots, as before; and the 3d day give him 7. Do
this punctually, and you may be well assured the horse will be perfectly cured; for though I
have never tried this medicine, yet I know that the party of whom I had it, has cured many
cattle of all sorts with it. I myself can say thus much of this receipt, that I knew it cure a
whole kennel of hounds, one beagle excepted, which they did not suspect to be bitten ; so he
fell mad and died, but all the rest escaped. Another time, a gentleman's son of my acquaint-
ance was unfortunately bitten, who was cured by the party who taught me this receipt; and
this young gentleman, who was then a boy of 10 years old, was so far spent with the disease,
before this man took him in hand, that his senses were affected, and he talked very idly; yet
he cured him, so as he lived and did well, &c."

+ In a letter to Mr. Ray, published by Mr. Derham, and dated Aug. 5, I691, wherein he
says, that king James sent to the R. S. a plant called the star of the earth, with the receipt
made of it to cure the bite of a mad dog, which is in Phil. Trans. N° 187.


spread upon the ground like a star; and Gerard gives the same description of
it, and Parkinson, in his Theatrum, yet more fully, p. 501, viz. that the leaves
lie round about the root in order one by another, thereby resembling the form
of a star, and therefore called herba Stella ; by which name, among others, it
is called by Caesalpinus, Lobel, &c. But whoever met with the name stellaria,
or Stella terrae, among the synonyma of the sesamoides in any botanic writer
before Mr. Ray, who afterwards retracted it, as has been fully proved ? In that
part of Norfolk where Mr. S. was born, not far from Norwich, towards the
sea-coast, where the bucks-horn plant grows abundantly, there was great use
made of it when he was but a lad, and always with good success, so as ever
he could hear. One story he could tell of his own knowledge, which might
seem too trifling to mention, were it not to show the efficacy of the simple.
About 40 years ago, when he lived at a place called Debenham in Suffolk, a
person unknown to him, having heard that he knew an herb that was good
against the bite of a mad-dog, sent to desire a sample of it, with directions
how to use it; and sometime after he had half a dozen fine chickens brought
him. He asked whence they came? It was answered from such a one, the
name he had forgotten. He said he did not know him: to which the reply
was, that it was the man to whom he had sent the plantain, which had saved
the lives of half a dozen hogs of his, that had been bitten by a mad dog; and
he thought the least he could do was to send me half a dozen chickens as a
token of his gratitude. After all, Mr. S. would not be positive, that the
lychnis, or catch-fly, was not good contra morsum canisrabidi; but was confi-
dent that it was not the true star of the earth.

In a P. S. Mr. S. states, that a friend of his had informed him, that there
was a wonderful cure performed on a woman in Suffolk, several years ago, who
had been bitten by a mad-dog, and in whom evident symptoms of the hydro-
phobia appeared, who yet was saved, by the use of a powder given by the
direction of the Lady Brook in Suffolk. It seems the powder went by the
name of The Lady Brook's Powder, and was generally supposed to be chiefly,
if not only, the coronopus dried and pulverized: and he had such an opinion
of the great virtue of this simple, that till he had some convincing evidence
of its having failed, he could scarcely avoid considering it as a specific against
the bite of a mad- dog.

Of the Reduction of Radicals to more Simple Terms, By Mr. Abr. Demoivre,
F.R.S. N"451, p. 463. From the Latin.

Mr. Demoivre having explained, in the appendix to Saunderson's Algebra,


his method of extracting any root of the binomial a -\- \/ — b, this induced
Wm. Jones, Esq. F. R. S.* to desire him to do the same by the possible bino-
mial a -\-\/+ b; a request which Mr. D. here complies with, though he is
sensible that this has been done already, by Sir I. Newton and others.

Pbob. I. — To reduce the Binomial V'a + ^b to Simpler Terms. Suppose that
this binomial, including its general radicality, can be reduced to the other
binomial x + ^y, freed from that radicality. Now to find such quantities x
and 3/, try whether the sum of the binomials V'a +^^ + v^a — Vb makes
nearly an integer number, which may be readily done by a table of logarithms ;
if it do, then put 2x =: to this whole number. Next try whether l/aa — bhe
an integer ; if it be, put jn = this new integer ; then will y ■=. xx — m\ and
therefore the given binomial will be reduced to the given form. But be-
fore proceeding to the demonstration, it may be illustrated by two or three

Example 1 . — Let the binomial v' 54 + v/QSO be proposed.

Put a = 54, b =■ 980; then will ^/ b = ^gSO = 31.3049 nearly ; which
gives a + Vb = 85.3049, and a — Vb =. 22.695 1. Now the root of the
first number is 9.236 nearly ; and the root of the latter is 4.763 ; the sum of
which roots is 1 3.999, which is very near the whole number 14. Therefore
putting Ix = 14, or ar = 7 ; then since y :=. xx — m, and m ='1/ aa — b =:
>/ 1 936 = 44 ; therefore is y = 49 — 44 = 5 ; so that the binomial reduced
will be 7 + -v/S.

Example 2. — Let \/ A5 -{■ V l682 be reduced simpler.

Put a = 45, b = l682; then is i/ b = 41.01219 nearly; hence a + ^b
= 86.01219, and c — ■//>= 3.89781.

Now the cube root of the former number is 4.4142, and the cube root of the
latter number is 1.5857; the sum of which roots being 5.9999, which is nearly
6 ; therefore put 2x = 6, or ar = 3 ; but it being y = xx — m, and m =
1/ aa — b =i 1/343 = 7 ; therefore 3/ = 9—7 = 2; and hence the bino-
mial reduced is 3 -|- \/'l.

Example 3. — Let \/ J70 -|- V 18252 be reduced simpler.

Put a = 170, b = 18252, then will \^ b = 135.1 nearly ; which gives a -\-
i/b z= 305.1, and a — \/ b =■ 34.Q.

Now the cube root of the former number is 6.73 nearly, and the cube root
of the latter is 3.26, the sum of which roots is 9.99, nearly equal to the whole
number 10. Put therefore 2x = 10, or a; = 5 ; then since y = xx — m, and

* See an account of Mr. Jones, who was the father of the late Sir William Jones, in the intro-
duction to Dr. Hutton's Mathematical Tables, p. I19.


«» = 1/ aa — b = 22 ; therefore y = 25 — 22 = 3 ; and hence the binomial
reduced is 5 + ^/3.

Demonstration — Take any binomial, as x/a-]-\/b, which suppose reducible
to the binomial x -\- '/y; then, by cubing, x' + 3xx^/y -\- 3xi/ -{- yVy =.
a + ^b.

Put x^ + 3x7/ = a, and 3xx>/y + y^y = ■/i.

Then whatever the index of radicality may be, from the square of the former
part subtract the square of the latter, and there will remain x^ — 3x*y +
3xxyy — 1^ ■=. aa — b\ then extract the nth root of both sides, that is, in the
present case the cube root, it will give xx — y ■=z >J aa — b; or making
is/ aa — b = m, it will he xx — y ■=. m, and therefore y = xx — m. Now
in the above equation writing a for a:^ + Zxy, and xx — m for y, there results
the equation 4a^ — Smx = a.

Now resume the equation 2x = »/ a -\- ^ b + \/ a — ></ b % and to take
away the radicality ^, make a -\- ^b ^ z^, and a — »/b ■=■ v^, there will
then result these two new equations, z* + t;* = 2a, and i -\- v =. ix ; it fol-
lows therefore that—,— = -. But — , — = z'* — zf + w^ = -; and besides

Z + DT Z + V *

zz + ^zu •\- w ■=. Axx.

Taking the difference of these equations, there results Szu = Axx — - ; but


zV -z:^ aa — b \ therefore zv ■=■ V aa — b, which being put = m, there will

arise 3m ■=■ Axx , or A3? — Zmx = a, which is the very same equation

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