Thomas John Graham.

An account of persons remarkable for their health and longevity : exhibiting their habits, practices, and opinions, in reference to the best means of preserving health, improving a bad or impaired constitution, and prolonging life ... online

. (page 12 of 15)
Online LibraryThomas John GrahamAn account of persons remarkable for their health and longevity : exhibiting their habits, practices, and opinions, in reference to the best means of preserving health, improving a bad or impaired constitution, and prolonging life ... → online text (page 12 of 15)
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piness, is the sincere wish of,

Your sincere friend,

And most humble Servant.



Introduction. It is well known, that
various modes of friction, or operating on
the skin and muscles, are practised in
different countries. In Europe, the out-
side of the skin is rubbed with a flesh
brush, or with gloves made of hair, or
coarse woollen yarn; sometimes accom-
panied by fumigations. In the East
Indies, friction with the hand, or what is
called cha?npouing, is generally practised ;
and the skin and muscles are pinched by
the fingers of the operator, with a view of
rendering them flexible. A similar plan
has likewise been adopted by Mr. Gros-
venor of Oxford. But these operations
are but slight and trifling, compared to
those which have been practised by Ad-
miral Henry.

* The publication from which this case is extracted is entitled
" An Account of the means by which Admiral Henry, of Rol-
venden, in Kent, has cured the Rheumatism, a Tendency to Gout,
the Tic Douloureux, the Cramp, and other Disorders; and by
which a Cataract in the Eye teas removed."


His system is certainly the most extra-
ordinary that has hitherto been put in
practice ; but though the remedies are
violent, yet they will, in several respects,
stand a comparison with any system
hitherto recommended, and his system I
consider admirably adapted to the relief
or cure of extreme cases. Cornaro, for
instance, contrived, by the greatest priva-
tions, to preserve a vegetable kind of
existence, by means of which, however, he
could never have cured himself of any of
those violent disorders with which the
Admiral has been afflicted. Whereas the
latter can live as other people do, without
any unceasing attention to his diet and
mode of life, full of activity and spirit, and
at the age of 91, in possession of his most
important faculties.

In order to explain how this was effected,
it is now proposed briefly to state, 1.
The origin of the system. 2. Its general
principles ; and, 3. Its practical details.

I. Origin of Admiral Henry's System.
Admiral Henry was born at Holyhead, in
the island of Anglesea, on the 28th of


Sept. 1731, and consequently was, on the
28th of Sept. last, turned of 9 1 . He went
into the navy in the year 1744. Whilst on
service, he had his thigh bone completely
broken by a hawser, in 1746. He was at
the capture of the Havannah in 1762, first
lieutenant of the Hampton Court. During
the American war, he was made, in 1779,
a captain, by that distinguished admiral,
Lord Howe, in consequence of his success
in taking Mud Island in the Delaware,
which was considered at the time a most
important service. He was made an ad-
miral in 1794, is now an admiral of the
red, and the twelfth on the list. He was
married; had no family, and is now a

Soon after the close of the American
war, in 1786, Admiral Henry returned to
the parish of Rolvenden in Kent, where he
had formerly resided, and where, during
his absence, a house had been built for
him, in the neighbourhood of a pleasant
village, about 55 miles from London, 21
from Maidstone, and three from Tenterden.
He has resided there ever since, with the


exception of about a year and a quarter,
during which period he was on service
with the late Earl St. Vincent, and assisted
in capturing the French Islands in 1793
and 1794.

It was in the year 1 787, however, that
he began his operations on his body, in a
very slight and trifling manner, not know-
ing but they might prove injurious, and
his friends being extremely apprehensive
that he would do himself much mischief.
But being of a persevering turn of mind,
and finding himself rather benefited than
otherwise, he resolved to give the plan a
fair trial.

II. General View of its Principles. Ad-
miral Henry's system seems to be founded
on the following principles. 1. That the
chief cause of disease in the human frame,
is deficiency of circulation; and that the
best means of correcting a tendency to
disease is, to prevent the nerves and ten-
dons from falling asleep, or getting fixed ;
for which purpose they should be kept
quite loose by instruments worked amongst
them ; and, 2. That by keeping the blood-


vessels, nerves, and tendons in constant
action, by means of the bone instruments,
the blood is rendered pure, it passes
quickly through the blood-vessels, leaving
no fur behind it, and thus that ossification,
which so frequently terminates the human
existence, is prevented. Hence, notwith-
standing Admiral Henry's advanced period
of life, when he lies stretched in bed, he
feels his pulse beat strong in his thighs,
his knees and feet, and all over his body.
III. Practices adopted by Admiral Henry.
In detailing the information communicated
by Admiral Henry, regarding the practices
he has adopted, it is proposed to explain ;

1. The nature of the instruments used;

2. The mode of application to the different
parts of the body; 3. The cure of the
rheumatism effected by them; 4. Their
advantage in gouty affections ; 5. Their
use in removing cataracts in the eye ; 6.
His curing the tic douloureux ; 7. Hints for
remedying other accidents and disorders ;
and, 8. The system adopted by Admiral
Henry in regard to diet, exercise, clothing
and sleep; with the result of the whole


1. Instruments used. The instruments
are all of such a description as to work
with effect on the parts to which they are
applied. He has about eight of them, two
of which are small hammers covered with
leather, and the other six are small instru-
ments about an inch long. They were at
first made of bits of wood, as they could
easily be fashioned into any shape; but
finding that they excoriated the skin, he
was induced to try bone, which answers
the object in view. The bones are boiled
to take out grease, and then are smoothed
and shaped by a file. The bone instru-
ments are principally made from the ribs
of cattle, and it is a great advantage to
have them bent, as they can thus be ap-
plied more successfully to the different
parts of the body. Any knobs are pre-
served, and others, where necessary, made
with a file, so as to apply with effect across
the tendons, as they are of great use in
forwarding the process, particularly if they
are situated in the middle of the bone.

2. Mode of Application. Every part of
the body ought to be daily acted upon by


some of these instruments, for the purpose
of preserving health, and warding off the
infirmities of old age. It was in the year
1787, that he was accidentally led to apply
the wooden tools to his knees, ancles, and
insteps, which were all much swelled and
hard, owing to the rheumatism, and very
painful when touched : and though the
operation was slightly done, yet he found
considerable benefit from it. This gave
him more confidence in the success of his
plan, and induced him afterwards to try
larger and stronger instruments, and to
apply them with more force.

To strengthen the feet, Admiral Henry
is accustomed to tread the one over the
other, with the shoes off, or entirely naked ;
he also uses the hammer, with a piece of
cork covered by leather, at the end of it,
for the soles, and the bone instruments to
move the tendons. His feet have thus be-
come perfectly sound and well. By the
same instruments, he has greatly strength-
ened his heels, and the tendon Achilles,
both of which require constant beating,


the circulation being very sluggish in both

The thighs cannot be too much ham-
mered, and if it is left off, they soon feel
the want of it. The Admiral uses the
round ends of common glass vials for that
purpose, corked, to prevent their break-
ing, and smoothed by a file. A solid piece
of glass may likewise be used, made in the
shape of a vial, smooth at one end, the
other having a lip like the common vial, but
stronger, and rounded, as it then may be
applied to move the tendons.

' The stomach and bowels had long been
in a very bad state ; hard, painful when
touched, and often disordered : but by
working them in bed, with a bone rounded
at the end, in each hand, digging into the
stomach as much as possible, particularly
about the navel, and making the two
instruments meet among the bowels, as
much as they could be forced to, the
stomach is thus rendered so strong, that
it will digest any thing.

The whole of the breast should be worked
hard with the vials, and up and down over


the lower edge of the breast-bone. The
collar-bone should be treated in the same
manner : and the bone instruments should
be also applied to the tendons under the
cheek-bones. The ends of the two thumbs
should be applied to each side of the gul-
let, and the gullet parted from side to side
with much force, which will prevent an
ossification of the throat, and keep the two
passages clear.

The mouth, in general, and under the
tongue, ought to be treated in the same
manner, either with the back of a dessert
silver spoon, or with tools made from the
handles of old tooth brushes. The roof of
the mouth also, should be thus rubbed,
which prevents the swelling of the uvula,
and sore throats.

The whole skin of the head, more espe-
cially the hind part, requires to be fre-
quently rubbed and scraped by the bone
instruments, or by a table-spoon. It clears
off all scurf, and so hardens the head,
that Admiral Henry, who, before he used
these operations, could not sleep without
two double flannel night caps, now only
M 2


wears a single linen one in the coldest

The arms and hands are to be treated
in the same manner, and with as much
force as they can possibly bear. When
he first applied the wooden instruments
to the arms with great violence, he found
that the flesh became discoloured, and was
obliged to desist for a fortnight ; at the end
of that period, however, he was enabled
to apply the instruments again, without
so much pain, and with benefit ; and now
no pinching or blows have any effect in
discolouring the skin.

Whenever he finds any part painful, on
the tools or instruments being applied to
it, he is convinced that the nerves or ten-
dons are diseased; and he never ceases
working with the tools, until all pain
ceases on their application, and the ten-
dons feel loose.

Many of these operations are at first
painful, but they cease to be so, if per-
severed in, and become even pleasant, and
so useful, that after going through them
in the morning, one feels better all the day


after. If regularly done for some time,
the muscles become so sound and firm,
that neither pinching, nor even beating
with violence, gives any pain ; while with
the improvement of the frame, the mind
becomes stronger, the spirits improve, and
the faculties are strengthened.

3. Cure of the Rheumatism. It was in
the year 1782, that Admiral Henry was
first affected by the rheumatism, which
he had in so violent a degree, that he could
only crawl about, had pains over all his
body, and at last became quite a cripple.
Though he found himself much the better
for the applications he had tried of wooden
tools in 1787, yet the swellings in his
knees, ancles, and insteps, continued till
the year 1810, when he began to use a
common hammer made of iron, with a bit
of cork on the head, and covered with
leather. He persevered in using this tool,
for about three years, night and morning,
together with small bone instruments, with
knobs, for loosening the tendons. He has
now completely succeeded in removing
the swellings ; and by keeping up the prac-
M 3


tice, he finds that the limbs are not only
kept well, but that they are improving
every day. How many are there, disabled
from labour by the rheumatism, without
being in so wretched and crippled a state
as Admiral Henry was, who might, at
little or no expense, get rid of that dis-
order, by following the means of cure
which he has so successfully practised.

4. Cure of Gouty Affections. Any ten-
dency to the gout felt by Admiral Henry,
was in the hand, and particularly in the
fingers, which became swelled and con-
tracted. The middle finger in particular,
had become so extremely stiff, that it was
impossible to move it. It bent upwards
at the middle joint, and the fore finger
was also stiff. All these contractions and
weaknesses by the use of the instruments,
are effectually removed ; and not only are
the hands and arms firm and steady, but
the fingers have become quite flexible.

5. Cure of a Cataract. This most un-
pleasant complaint began to form on Ad-
miral Henry's left eye in the year 1782,
but was neglected, as he saw well with


the right eye. He was accidentally led to
rub it, the eyelids closed, with the joint
of the thumb, and thought the eye was
the better of it. He then began, in hopes
of dispersing the cataract, to use the round
end of a glass vial, smoothed by a file.
Some time after he perceived a glimmer-
ing of light, and being of a persevering
disposition, continued the practice, and in
less than two years more the cataract was
dispersed. About two years afterwards a
cataract came upon the right eye, which
gradually increased. He did not try the
friction plan with it, but was prevailed
upon to get it extracted, as a quicker
mode of cure. The operation was per-
formed with great skill by a distinguished
oculist, in 1799, but an inflammation
taking place, the eye was lost; so that
had it not been for the successful disper-
sion of the cataract on the left eye, the
Admiral would have been quite blind.

6. Cure of the Tic Douloureux. Admiral
Henry remained for six weeks in London,
after the operation for the cataract, to see
if any thing could be done for his right


eye; but in vain. He then returned td
Rolvenden, and in about two months after-
wards, was seized with the Tic Douloureux
in that eye. Different washes were recom-
mended to him, but though the directions
were attended to, they were of no use.
This complaint continued for 12 months,
with two fits a day, of three or four hours
each in duration, the eyes close shut the
whole time, accompanied by the most
excruciating torture. Hemlock, in great
quantities, was then recommended, and a
seton behind the neck. By these means,
he was slowly relieved for about six months,
but he was reduced to a state of great
weakness. The complaint having ceased,
the Admiral was advised to give up the
hemlock, and to heal the seton. In about
a fortnight after, the pain returned with
as much force as ever, and from his having
been so much weakened, it became more
severe. He then expected that it would
destroy him. He accidentally was led to
scrape the upper eyelid down, for a few
moments, with a small piece of silver, and
the complaint has never since returned.


This leads him to conjecture, that the
nerve, on which that pain depended, re-
sides in that spot, for the operation of
scraping, had been tried on the temple,
and all round the eye, and was of no use.
He continues to scrape the upper eyelid,
with the bone instruments.

7. Cure of other Disorders. By the same
operations other complaints are cured.
Admiral Henry had formerly been much
troubled with corns, but has had none,
since he adopted the practices above de-
scribed. It is an effectual remedy against
chilblains, to beat the heels and feet with
a broad wooden instrument. Admiral
Henry strongly recommends, mixing one-
sixth oil, with five-sixths rum, as superior
to any other preparation for healing cuts.
It ought to be applied as soon as possible
after the accident happens, covered with a
rag (for the wounded part must not be
exposed to the air, until it is well), and
two or three drops occasionally applied to
it. The spirit heals, and the oil strengthens
the parts. The same mixture is the best
remedy for an ulcerated sore throat, used


in this manner. A vial with the rum and
oil must be taken to bed, and the patient,
when lying on his back, must take about
a tea-spoonful in his mouth out of the vial,
and keep it as long as he can at the en-
trance into the gullet before swallowing :
this is to be frequently done in the night
time. No family should be without a vial
of that mixture, which may be kept for
any length of time, and is so highly useful.
It should be well shaken in the vial before
it is applied. With a common vial in each
hand, filed smooth at the end, Admiral
Henry, by pinching the legs from the heel
to the ham very hard, and the back and
inside of the thighs, has entirely driven
away the cramp.

8. Miscellaneous Particulars. In regard
to diet, Admiral Henry takes any thing
that is presented to him at breakfast or
dinner, but no tea or coffee in the evening,
as it prevents his sleeping. For supper
he takes boiled milk, with a large slice of
stale bread, either boiled with it, or put in
afterwards, which is converted into a kind
of mucilage, and the same mess for break-


fast, when alone.* He uses no salt, pep-
per, mustard, or vinegar, requiring no
stimulants to assist his digestion. He
takes at the rate of half a dozen glasses
of wine, either white or red, sometimes
more and sometimes less, unmixed with
water, that he may relish it better, but as
much water afterwards as the wine he had
taken, which prevents any bad effects from
the wine.

In regard to exercise, he is constantly
in motion, and never sits down, except
when reading, or at meals. The use of
the tools, which insures the free circulation
of the blood, renders any sort of exercise
less necessary. f

* In regard to the alvine discharge, he is not regular ; some-
times once a day, sometimes every second or third day, and
sometimes once a week, which he considers as quite sufficient.
The faeces are always hard. He has always at hand a bottle, in
which four ounces of Epsom salts are dissolyed in a quart of
cold water, and if costive longer than a week, he takes a wine
glass of this medicine, in bed, at six in the morning, which car-
ries off all crudities.

* It may be proper to remark, that the moderate, but perse-
vering use of dumb-bells, is of use in preventing the stooping of
old age, which is owing to the muscles becoming relaxed, acit
thence the shoulders shrink and droop.


There is nothing particular in his mode
of clothing, except that he wears, in cold
weather, even in the house, a surtout of
common woollen stuff, for women's gowns,
worth 2Qd. a yard. This dress in walking
is very light, it is made to button its full
length to below the knee ; it thus keeps
the wind off the body, and not fitting
close, always contains a warm atmosphere
round the body. He never wears a cloth
great coat, which gets very wet in rainy
weather, and must then be extremely in-
jurious. Since the introduction of um-
brellas, the use of great coats, except on
horseback, may be given up.

As to sleep, he goes to bed at nine
o'clock, when he has no company staying
with him, and uses his instruments in bed
for a couple of hours. He never sleeps
above from four to six hours, and he does
not feel so well afterwards, if he takes
more repose. He is always ready to get
up with pleasure in the morning.

The Result. Thus it appears that Ad-
miral Henry, with a view of preventing and
curing disease, has taken more liberty with


the human frame, than probably any man
has ever before him attempted ; and that
it has never till now been ascertained,
what the body could bear, not only with
impunity, but with advantage. The result
is, that Admiral Henry at the age of above
91, has all the activity of middle age;
has got the better of several disorders with
which he was afflicted ; feels himself now
(1823,) in as good a state of health as any
man in England, and is likely long to enjoy
that blessing, having discovered the means
by which, so far as his experience goes,
maladies that might otherwise be fatal,
may be cured ; and many of those dis-
orders, to which old age is liable, may be
warded off.


This case was related by Dr. \Yilliam
Hunter to the London Medical Society, in
the year 1783, and it is here given in his
own words. In my opinion it demon-
strates the great power of friction, and of
a very mild abstemious diet, in so as-


sisting the efforts of the constitution as to
enable it eventually to conquer what was
certainly a state of uncommon disorder,
and which, indeed, in appearance was of a
hopeless nature. Friction over the re-
gion of the affected organ for half an hour
twice a day, I think to be in itself a va-
luable remedial measure, and one to which
I should attribute the benefit received to
be in a good degree, if not mainly, ow-
ing ; but Dr. Hunter, it will be seen, con-
sidered it of inferior importance.

Many years ago, says Dr. Hunter, a
gentleman came to me from the eastern
part of the city, with his son about eight
or nine years old, to ask my advice for
him. The complaint was great pain in the
stomach, frequent and violent vomitings,
great weakness, and wasting of flesh. I
think I hardly ever saw a human creature
more emaciated, or with a look more ex-
pressive of being near the end of all the
miseries of life. The disorder was of some
months standing, and, from the beginning
to that time, had been daily growing more
desperate. He was at school when first


taken ill, and concealed his disorder for
some time ; but growing much worse, he
was obliged to complain, and was brought
home to be more carefully attended. From
his sickly look, his total loss of appetite,
besides what he said of the pain which he
suffered, but especially from his vomiting
up almost every thing which he swallowed,
it was evident that his disorder was very

Three of the most eminent physicians
of that time attended him in succession,
and tried a variety of medicines without
the least good effect. They had all, as
the father told me, after sufficient trial,
given the patient up, having nothing far-
ther to propose. The last prescription
was a pill of solid opium ; for in the fluid
state, though at first the opiate had staid
some time upon his stomach, and brought
a temporary relief, it failed at length, and
like food, drink, and every medicine which
had been taken, was presently brought up
again by vomiting. The opiate pill was
therefore given in hopes that it would
elude the expulsive efforts of the stomach.


It did so for a time ; but after a little use
that likewise brought on vomiting. Then
it was that his physician was consulted
for the last time, who said he had nothing
farther to propose.

Though at first the boy professed that
he could assign no cause for his complaint;
being strictly interrogated by his father
if he had ever swallowed any thing that
could hurt his stomach, or received any
injury by a blow or otherwise ; he con-
fessed that the usher in the school had
grasped him by the waistcoat at the pit of
the stomach, in a peevish fit, and shaken
him rudely, for not having come up to the
usher's expectation in a school exercise
that though it was not very painful at the
time, the disorder came on soon after. This
account disposed the father to suspect,
that the rude grasp and shake had hurt
the stomach. With that idea he brought
him to me as an anatomist, that an accu-
rate examination might, if possible, dis-
cover the cause or nature of the disorder.
He was stripped before the fire, and
examined with attention in various situa-


lions and postures ; but no fulness, hard-
ness, or tumour whatever could be disco-
vered : on the contrary, he appeared every
where like a skeleton covered with a mere
skin ; and the abdomen was as flat, or ra-
ther as much drawn inwards, as if it had
not contained half the usual quantity of

Having received all the information that
I could expect, and reflected some little
time upon the case, I wished to speak
with the father alone in another room ; and
to give my patient some employment as
well as refreshment, asked him to take a
little milk in the mean time. But his

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Online LibraryThomas John GrahamAn account of persons remarkable for their health and longevity : exhibiting their habits, practices, and opinions, in reference to the best means of preserving health, improving a bad or impaired constitution, and prolonging life ... → online text (page 12 of 15)