Blast from the Past: Catching a Winter Cold

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capture-7In this series, we take a look back at news coverage from the early days of the Historic Triangle.

In this letter, printed on August 13, 1772 in the Virginia Gazette, Captain John Stott of His Majesty’s Ship JUNO wrote about a wonder medicine called Doctor Norris’s Antimonial Drops. The second highest monthly total cases of seasonal influenza occur in December each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It truly is a mystery whatever happened to Doctor Norris’s Antimonial Drops.

LETTER from Captain STOTT, to Doctor Norris.

SIR,

IN justice to you, and from a Desire of being serviceable to the Community, particularly that Part of it of which I have the Honour to be a Member, I send you, attested by the Officers of his Majesty’s Ship Juno, under my Command, an Account of the Effects of your ANTI-MONIAL DROPS, in the Course of my late Voyage to and from the Falkland Islands.

It the outward Passages, by the Surgeon of the Ship’s Report to me, on the 5th of April last, it appeared that George Hunter and Laurence Pitman, two of the Seamen, were taken ill with malignant Fevers; that having for several Days been given the usual Medicines without Effect,  he thought them past a Possibility of Recovery; judging this a fit Opportunity to make a Trial of the Efficacy of your Drops (for, notwithstanding the Recommendations which were given me of them, and which induced me to take them with me, I had resolved to let every usual Means take Place before I gave them).

I then, therefore, gave a Bottle to the Surgeon, and desired they might be administered; he said it would, he believed, be of little Consequence whatever was given them, as he thought they could not live to the next Day; however, he would try them. The next Morning, in his Account to me of the Sick, he told me the Men were much better, and he believed they would recover, which from that Time they did, and were soon after able to do their Duty in the Ship.

On the 27th of July following, being in the southern Part of the torrid Zone, Mr. Joslin, the Boatswain of the Ship, was taken ill of the same Fever, with the same Symptoms of the two former, and after the Surgeon had represented to me that he had used all the Means in his Power for his Recovery, to no Purpose, the Antimonial Drops were given, and had the desired Effect, by his immediate Recovery.

Some Time afterwards, in the southern Ocean, James Hamm and Evan Williams, the one a Boy, the other a Marine, were seized with a Fever, and were, by the Surgeon’s Report to me, given over for many Days, the Drops were given them also, which produced a plentiful Sweating, and their immediate recovery. Such repeated Success gives me the highest Opinion of the Virtue and Efficacy of your Antimonial Drops, and on these Grounds I cannot too strongly recommend them.

I also enclose you the Surgeon’s Attestation taken from the Journals of his Practice in the Ship, and which, as well as this Letter, you are at Liberty to make publick. Wishing you every Success, I am, Sir,

Your most obedient humble Servant,

John Stott.

JUNO, Portsmouth, January 25, 1772.

WE, the undermentioned Officers of his Majesty’s said Ship Juno, do also testify what is mentioned in the above Letter, and are of the same Opinion with Regard to Doctor Norris’s Antimonial Drops.

William Barrow, 2d Lieutenant.

James Holroyd, Master.

William Joslin, Boatswain.

Thomas Turner, Purcer.

Doctor Norris’s ANTIMONIAL DROPS are particularly recommended for all putrid, malignant Fevers; inflammatory, nervous, and epidemical Disorders of every Kind, and in every Climate; Colds; inveterate Coughs, Consumptive, Gouty, and Rheumatick Habits, Disorders of the Stomach and Bowels; Indigestion, and all Nervous Complaints; giving not the least disagreeable Sensation or Uneasiness to the most delicate Constitution, yet possessing all the medicinal Qualities of Antimony.