This week’s blog is inspired by the fact that this Saturday afternoon I am covering for a bookshop colleague who woke up this morning with a fever, and wisely opted for a day in bed accompanied by the traditional 21st century medications of aspirin alternating with Lemsips. If, however, he had been ill back in the early 17th century, Shakespeare would certainly have referred him to his son-in-law, Dr John Hall, for a different type of treatment. A selection of Dr Hall’s case notes was first published in 1657, with the grandiose title Select Observations on English Bodies of Eminent Persons in Desperate Diseases and the bookshop carries a facsimile edition, with additional historical and social commentary, under the more prosaic title John Hall and his Patients. Looking up to see what Dr Hall might have prescribed for a fever, I found the following:
Mr. Drayton, an excellent Poet, labouring of a Tertian [fever], was cured by the following: Rx the emetic infusion oz1. Syrup of Violets a spoonful: mix them. This given, wrought very well both upwards and downwards.
Get well soon!!
John Hall and his Patients is available from The Shakespeare Bookshop for £14.99.
Hall’s Croft, the beautiful early 17th century home where Dr Hall lived with his wife, Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna, is cared for by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and open to visitors throughout the year.