Cullen

The Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

 

[ID:1272] From: Mr Thomas Christie / To: Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen) / Regarding: Mr Thomas Christie (Patient), Anonymous (Patient) / 4 May 1776 / (Incoming)

Letter from Thomas Christie. He relates his own case, including the effect of a journey to Bermuda via New York, and disagrees with a diagnosis given by Cullen some years previously. He also asks Cullen's advice on the case of a teenage girl 'whose circumstances cannot well afford to pay for it, herself'.

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Metadata

FieldData
DOC ID 1272
RCPE Catalogue Number CUL/1/2/369
Main Language English
Document Direction Incoming
Date4 May 1776
Annotation None
TypeAuthorial original
Enclosure(s) No enclosure(s)
Autopsy No
Recipe No
Regimen No
Letter of Introduction No
Case Note No
Summary Letter from Thomas Christie. He relates his own case, including the effect of a journey to Bermuda via New York, and disagrees with a diagnosis given by Cullen some years previously. He also asks Cullen's advice on the case of a teenage girl 'whose circumstances cannot well afford to pay for it, herself'.
Manuscript Incomplete? No
Evidence of Commercial Posting No

Case

Cases that this document belongs to:

Case ID Description Num Docs
[Case ID:409]
Case of Thomas Christie who writes at length about his own nervous symptoms.
4
[Case ID:2148]
Case of an unnamed girl with a tumour or swelling on the neck.
2


People linked to this document

Person IDRole in documentPerson
[PERS ID:363]AuthorMr Thomas Christie
[PERS ID:1]AddresseeDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:602]Patient
[PERS ID:363]PatientMr Thomas Christie
[PERS ID:1]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:1562]Patient's Relative / Spouse / Friend Christie

Places linked to this document

Role in document Specific Place Settlements / Areas Region Country Global Region Confidence
Place of Writing London London and South-East England Europe certain
Destination of Letter Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain
Mentioned / Other Bermuda West Indies certain
Mentioned / Other Charleston South Carolina USA North America certain
Mentioned / Other Harrogate North-East England Europe certain
Mentioned / Other New York New York USA North America certain
Mentioned / Other Scarborough North-East England Europe certain

Normalized Text

[Page 1]
London 4th May 1776
Sir,


The following circumstances, will probably
bring me to your remembrance. I waited upon you at Edinburgh
in December 1772 and consulted you in regard to a Nervous Complaint
I had long laboured under - and at that time you only prescribed
for me some powders, of Magnesia & Ginger &c, by which I
imagine, you thought that all the Nervous Symptoms took
their rise, from an acid humour in the Stomach - altho' I
have reason to think this is not the Case at all. In March
1773 I wrote you a large Account of the nature & symptoms
of my Indisposition &c, and desir'd your Opinion particul¬
arly, in regard to a change of Climate, & whether Bermuda
would not be a very proper one. In April, I received your an¬
swer - and in consequence sail'd from Montrose to London
in May - from thence in June to New York, where I arrived
in August – From that place, in November to Bermuda - from
Bermuda, in the later end of March ↑74↑ to Charles Town South
Carolina, and from thence in June, return'd back to
London in July. During the pasage to New York, and
till the till the middle of October, my appetite & digestion, were much
better, & more regular than formerly, & my spirits more
brisk and active, owing no doubt, to the constant easie mo¬
tion & exercise which sailing gives to the Stomach & Bowels
and to the constant, and free perspiration, from the Heat
of the Climate. But about the middle of October, a sudden
and remarkable change of Weather happen'd, from extreme
Hot to extreme Cold – and from that moment, my Health
declin'd every day – flatulency, want of appetite, and
all the other Nervous Symptoms, return'd with terrible
violence - which convinced me, of what I often thought



[Page 2]

very probable before - that my Complaints, every one of them
depended, not on the structure or quality of the Nerves and
fibres, nor on any acidity in the Stomach, but alone, on
some humour in the Blood, retaind by an obstructed per¬
spiration, and of a nature & quality, highly irritating
to the Nerves - and I was further [incline?] to believe, that
wind in the Stomach & Bowels (at least in my Case) was
nothing else, but the perspirable matter stuck {illeg}
and retain'd. I was very poorly all the time, I was at
Bermuda - and it certainly would have been too hot for me
in the Summer time. At Charles Town, & till I left
it, I was better, notwithstanding the extreme heat, (which
was higher than some times, than in Jamaica) and violent
perspiration
I went thro' – I particularly observ'd, that
nature seem'd to free itself by Urine, as there was always
a large quantity of sediment in it: In coming home
when we got the lenth of the banks of Newfoundland
into a Cold, damp Climate again, I instantly found
a remarkable alteration in my health, similar to that
which happen'd at New York - and I laid my {illeg} with
it, to suffer very much for some considerable time
from the Cold & dampness of my native Country. My
conjecture was well founded, for I have been in a very
ordinary state of health, ever since my Arrival. In
order to guard against the alteration, which passing thro'
the hot Climate might have made on my Constitution
& to prevent the bad effects of the Cold of this Climate on
it, I went to Scarbourough, last June, and drank the
mineral Waters
with caution. I also gave Sea Bathing
a fair tryal - having bathed near Fifty times. I verily
believe, I overdid this matter - as it certainly weakened


[Page 3]

me, but produced no other bad effect, excepting that
it drove, the Symptoms which used to affect the Stomach
into the Muscular flesh of the left breast, above
the {illeg} – where they have continued ever since.


This to me, is another proof, that the
Symptoms of my Disorder, depend principally on a
certain humour in the blood, intimatly mixed with
its composition, which when accumulated, and its acrimony
encreas'd by an obstructed persiration, with occasion
affections of the Nerves and fibres in different parts
according as it may {illeg} or settle most, in the course
of Circulation. To lay before you all the reasons which
induce me to this Opinion, would be endless – I am
not able to write them, & you would be fatigued in
reading them. Suffice it to say, that I am convinced
this is the Case, and that the ground work of my
opinion is laid in this - that I am certain, when
I was Young, I had a very large & extra portion of
acrimonious matter in my blood, which used to make
its appearance in a violent manner every Spring
on my limbs, thighs arms &c. in the form of large
fiery inflamatory pimples. In short my Opinion
of the Cause, of all the disorder with which my Nerves are
affected is this - A Constitutional Scorbutick hum¬
our in my blood, intimately mixed with its compos¬
ition - join'd with some degree of Rheumatism.
Now there is no Exercise (for I never was dificient in
that) nor Medicine, that can always keep the per¬
spiration full & free, at least it is impossible in
this Climate, and therefore I humbly propose to
you, whither a perpetual Issue or Setin,



[Page 4]

might not be very beneficial in my Case - as it would
give free scope and vent, to some portions of that hu¬
mour, which I take to be ↑the↑ Cause, of the Nervous Symptoms.
I beg your Answer to the following Queries Viz.


1st. If the opening an Issue or Setin, would be attended with
any bad consequences, on supposition of afterwards discontinuing
it.


2nd. If the continuance of an Issue or Setin, would weaken
the Constitution, – have a paralytic affect on the parts
principally affected - or on the Nervous System in general.


3d. If it will {illeg} for the Cold and Hot Bath, as both these
at times may be necessary, and moderately. ~


4th. The proper place to put it in – whether in the left breast
where the strenth of the complaint is - or in what other place


5th. If there is any difference betwixt an Issue & Setin - and
if there is, what is best ~


In general any other [Lent?], that may be of Service. ~


It is now ten years, since I first form'd the Opinion, I have
above laid before you, relative to the cause of my Indisposition
and I shall only further observe, that all my observations
since that time, have more and more confirm'd me in it.
I have also a very considerable Authority, in my favour, from
one of your own Profession Viz. the late Dr. I. Daltrie
of York. In the year 1771 I went to Harrowgate, but be¬
fore drinking the Waters I consulted him – and when at last
I took my leave of him to go home – he gave me the follow¬
ing prescription Viz. ––––


A certain quantity of Scarborough Salts, Flower of Sulphur
& Sarsaperillic Root - boil'd in Scarborough Water, to a certain
[qu]antity, with the addition of some Nutmegg for {illeg} - of
{illeg}in Decoction, to take Six table Spoonfuls, at bed time



[Page 5]

and as much in the Morning -- to continue this for a
Month -- after which to add to each dose, three gutts of
the tincture of the Glass of Antimony – and lastly in
conclusion, to open an Issue. Now altho' I pretend not
to have any knowlege of the principles of Physic, yet
if I have Common Sense, I am certain that every {illeg}
of this Prescription, goes on the very supposition I
have made – a certain humour in the blood, discordant to
the Nerves, and retain'd in it from an obstructed perspira¬
tion, as the Principal Cause of that Irritable disposi¬
tion of them, which is my chief complaints. I do not
mean however to lead, or bias your Judgement, by any
thing which I have said, but only to shew you, that my
Opinion of my own Case is not altogether founded in
Whim, and Fancy, which are generally thought to
govern intirely those who are afflicted with Nervous
Complaints. ~ This is all I want to say in regard
to my Self, but I must further beg your Opinion and
Advice relative to a Young Girl of my acquaintance, whose
circumstances cannot well afford to pay for it, herself.
She may be from 15 to 17 years of Age – She is troubled
and I believe has been for Years, with a Tumour or Swelling
on the right side of the Neck, or rather immediatly under
the lower jaw bone –– The swelling appears large, and
puffy – but not discolour'd, nor inflam'd, nor as if ↑it↑ would
come to a Suppuration, at least for some considerable time.
I shall only add further, that the employ of her Father, was
of a very sedentary nature. Farther particulars I know
not, as my delicacy would not allow me to inquire too
near. I beg you will give me your Opinion – first


[Page 6]

what the Disease is – and then the method of Cure – such
a mild and safe prescription, as may do no hurt, if
it should not be of Service.


I hope you will make an allowance
for any inaccuracy of expression, or a Crudity of Opinion
that may appear in my letter - as I have wrote just
as it came to hand, without premeditation – and
the Subject I have principally touched on, is of a
very obstruse nature. I beg your answer, as soon
as possible, as I am impatient to know your Opin¬
ion, and make the tryal, if what I have propos'd
is approved of. You have only to give your Opi¬
nion simply, without reasoning, or entering in to the
grounds of it, as I know your time will not permit
this, and besides I shall have a pretty good guess of the
Ideas you go upon, when I see the manner in which you
give your Opinion. Direct your answer for me, and
Care of Messrs. Alexander Anderson & Davidson Lothbury
London. I have ordered my Brother in Montrose
to send you somewhat by way of compensation, for
the trouble that answering this letter may occasion
you. I am with Respect,


Sir
Your Obedient Humble Servant
Thomas Christie



[Page 7]


To
Dr William Cullen
Professor of Medicine
in the University of
Edinburgh


Mr Thomas Christie's
case. 21st May
1776.

Diplomatic Text

[Page 1]
London 4th May 1776
Sir,


The following circumstances, will probably
bring me to your remembrance. I waited upon you at Edr.
in Decr. 1772 and consulted you in regard to a Nervous Complt.
I had long laboured under - and at that time you only prescribed
for me some powders, of Magnesia & Ginger &c, by which I
imagine, you thought that all the Nervous Symptoms took
their rise, from an acid humour in the Stomach - altho' I
have reason to think this is not the Case at all. In March
1773 I wrote you a large Accot. of the nature & symptoms
of my Indisposition &c, and desir'd your Opinion particul¬
arly, in regard to a change of Climate, & whether Bermuda
wd. not be a very proper one. In April, I recd. your an¬
swer - and in consequence sail'd from Montrose to London
in May - from thence in June to New York, where I arrived
in Augst. – From that place, in Novr. to Bermuda - from
Bermuda, in the later end of March ↑74↑ to Charles Town South
Carolina, and from thence in June, return'd back to
London in July. During the pasage to New York, and
till the till the middle of Octr., my appetite & digestion, were much
better, & more regular than formerly, & my spirits more
brisk and active, owing no doubt, to the constant easie mo¬
tion & exercise which sailing gives to the Stomach & Bowels
and to the constant, and free perspiration, from the Heat
of the Climate. But about the middle of Octr., a sudden
and remarkable change of Weather happen'd, from extreme
Hot to extreme Cold – and from that moment, my Health
declin'd every day – flatulency, want of appetite, and
all the other Nervous Symptoms, return'd with terrible
violence - which convinced me, of what I often thought



[Page 2]

very probable before - that my Complaints, every one of them
depended, not on the structure or quality of the Nerves and
fibres, nor on any acidity in the Stomach, but alone, on
some humour in the Blood, retaind by an obstructed per¬
spiration, and of a nature & quality, highly irritating
to the Nerves - and I was further [incline?] to believe, that
wind in the Stomach & Bowels (at least in my Case) was
nothing else, but the perspirable matter stuck {illeg}
and retain'd. I was very poorly all the time, I was at
Bermuda - and it certainly wd. have been too hot for me
in the Summer time. At Charles Town, & till I left
it, I was better, notwithstanding the extreme heat, (wh.
was higher than some times, than in Jamaica) and violent
perspiration
I went thro' – I particularly observ'd, that
nature seem'd to free itself by Urine, as there was always
a large quantity of sediment in it: In coming home
when we got the lenth of the banks of Newfoundland
into a Cold, damp Climate again, I instantly found
a remarkable alteration in my health, similar to that
wh. happen'd at New York - and I laid my {illeg} wt.
it, to suffer very much for some considerable time
from the Cold & dampness of my native Country. My
conjecture was well founded, for I have been in a very
ordinary state of health, ever since my Arrival. In
order to guard against the alteration, which passing thro'
the hot Climate might have made on my Constitution
& to prevent the bad effects of the Cold of this Climate on
it, I went to Scarbourough, last June, and drank the
mineral Waters
with caution. I also gave Sea Bathing
a fair tryal - having bathed near Fifty times. I verily
believe, I overdid this matter - as it certainly weakened


[Page 3]

me, but produced no other bad effect, excepting that
it drove, the Symptoms wh. used to affect the Stomach
into the Muscular flesh of the left breast, above
the {illeg} – where they have continued ever since.


This to me, is another proof, that the
Symptoms of my Disorder, depend principally on a
certain humour in the blood, intimatly mixed with
its composition, wh. when accumulated, and its acrimony
encreas'd by an obstructed persiration, with occasion
affections of the Nerves and fibres in different parts
according as it may {illeg} or settle most, in the course
of Circulation. To lay before you all the reasons wh.
induce me to this Opinion, would be endless – I am
not able to write them, & you would be fatigued in
reading them. Suffice it to say, that I am convinced
this is the Case, and that the ground work of my
opinion is laid in this - that I am certain, when
I was Young, I had a very large & extra portion of
acrimonious matter in my blood, which used to make
its appearance in a violent manner every Spring
on my limbs, thighs arms &c. in the form of large
fiery inflamatory pimples. In short my Opinion
of the Cause, of all the disorder wt. wh. my Nerves are
affected is this - A Constitutional Scorbutick hum¬
our in my blood, intimately mixed with its compos¬
ition - join'd with some degree of Rheumatism.
Now there is no Exercise (for I never was dificient in
that) nor Medicine, that can always keep the per¬
spiration full & free, at least it is impossible in
this Climate, and therefore I humbly propose to
you, whither a perpetual Issue or Setin,



[Page 4]

might not be very beneficial in my Case - as it wd.
give free scope and vent, to some portions of that hu¬
mour, wh. I take to be ↑the↑ Cause, of the Nervous Symptoms.
I beg your Answer to the following Queries Viz.


1st. If the opening an Issue or Setin, would be attended with
any bad consequences, on supposition of afterwards discontinuing
it.


2nd. If the continuance of an Issue or Setin, would weaken
the Constitution, – have a paralytic affect on the parts
principally affected - or on the Nervous System in general.


3d. If it will {illeg} for the Cold and Hot Bath, as both these
at times may be necessary, and moderately. ~


4th. The proper place to put it in – whether in the left breast
where the strenth of the complaint is - or in what other place


5th. If there is any difference betwixt an Issue & Setin - and
if there is, what is best ~


In general any other [Lent?], that may be of Service. ~


It is now ten years, since I first form'd the Opinion, I have
above laid before you, relative to the cause of my Indisposition
and I shall only further observe, that all my observations
since that time, have more and more confirm'd me in it.
I have also a very considerable Authority, in my favour, from
one of your own Profession Viz. the late Dr. I. Daltrie
of York. In the year 1771 I went to Harrowgate, but be¬
fore drinking the Waters I consulted him – and when at last
I took my leave of him to go home – he gave me the follow¬
ing prescription Viz. ––––


A certain quantity of Scarborough Salts, Flower of Sulphur
& Sarsaperillic Root - boil'd in Scarborough Water, to a certain
[qu]antity, wt the addition of some Nutmegg for {illeg} - of
{illeg}in Decoction, to take Six table Spoonfuls, at bed time



[Page 5]

and as much in the Morning -- to continue this for a
Month -- after which to add to each dose, three gutts of
the tincture of the Glass of Antimony – and lastly in
conclusion, to open an Issue. Now altho' I pretend not
to have any knowlege of the principles of Physic, yet
if I have Common Sense, I am certain that every {illeg}
of this Prescription, goes on the very supposition I
have made – a certain humour in the blood, discordant to
the Nerves, and retain'd in it from an obstructed perspira¬
tion, as the Principal Cause of that Irritable disposi¬
tion of them, wh. is my chief complaints. I do not
mean however to lead, or bias your Judgement, by any
thing wh. I have said, but only to shew you, that my
Opinion of my own Case is not altogether founded in
Whim, and Fancy, which are generally thought to
govern intirely those who are afflicted wt. Nervous
Complaints. ~ This is all I want to say in regard
to my Self, but I must further beg your Opinion and
Advice relative to a Young Girl of my acquaintance, whose
circumstances cannot well afford to pay for it, herself.
She may be from 15 to 17 years of Age – She is troubled
and I believe has been for Years, with a Tumour or Swelling
on the right side of the Neck, or rather immediatly under
the lower jaw bone –– The swelling appears large, and
puffy – but not discolour'd, nor inflam'd, nor as if ↑it↑ would
come to a Suppuration, at least for some considerable time.
I shall only add further, that the employ of her Father, was
of a very sedentary nature. Farther particulars I know
not, as my delicacy would not allow me to inquire too
near. I beg you will give me your Opinion – first


[Page 6]

what the Disease is – and then the method of Cure – such
a mild and safe prescription, as may do no hurt, if
it should not be of Service.


I hope you will make an allowance
for any inaccuracy of expression, or a Crudity of Opinion
that may appear in my letter - as I have wrote just
as it came to hand, without premeditation – and
the Subject I have principally touched on, is of a
very obstruse nature. I beg your answer, as soon
as possible, as I am impatient to know your Opin¬
ion, and make the tryal, if what I have propos'd
is approved of. You have only to give your Opi¬
nion simply, without reasoning, or entering in to the
grounds of it, as I know your time will not permit
this, and besides I shall have a pretty good guess of the
Ideas you go upon, when I see the manner in wh. you
give your Opinion. Direct your answer for me, and
Care of Messrs. Alexr. Anderson & Davidson Lothbury
London. I have ordered my Brother in Montrose
to send you somewhat by way of compensation, for
the trouble that answering this letter may occasion
you. I am with Respect,


Sir
Your Obedt. Hum. Servt.
Thomas Christie



[Page 7]


To
Dr William Cullen
Professor of Medicine
in the University of
Edinburgh


Mr Thos Christie's
case. 21st May
1776.

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