J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

“Take one Young fatt puppy”

Not everyone will enjoy Lisa Smith’s posting at Wonders & Marvels that begins:
At first I thought it was a joke when I read a recipe for “The Puppy Water” in a recipe collection compiled by one Mary Doggett in 1682. “Take one Young fatt puppy and put him into a flatt Still Quartered Gutts and all ye Skin upon him”, then distill it along with buttermilk, white wine, pared lemons, herbs, camphire, venus turpentine, red rosewater, fasting spittle, and eighteen pippins.
Among the several puppy-related early modern medical treatments that Smith describes, I doubt we’d find much objection today to one: Thomas Sydenham’s advice in Praxis Medica (1707) that “for iliac passion (intestinal obstruction),…a live puppy should be laid to the patient’s naked belly for two or three days.” A warm puppy certainly couldn’t make anything worse.

But as for the rest, well…

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