Dec. 23, 1803.
To my beloved Friend greeting, with perfect peace, and at such a time.
THE Countess of Huntington has got the gout; her brother in Dorsetshire fell sick, and wished to see her; she went, but he died the day before her arrival. She expected he had some money, but it is so hid that none can find it. She went out with fourteen pounds; and, being obliged to bury him, came home with a double infirmity - the gout in the foot and in the pocket: and I think the gout, as well as the law, worketh wrath. I recommend patience, but I have no such thing to spare; I only give my advice, and that gratis. I have been this morning early pondering over the many infirmities that I am subject to, and many of the remedies that have been of use to me in them. For a swelling in the mind I have found a thorn in the flesh of great use, as it serves to let out the wind when I have been puffed up, and feeding upon vanity. And, when my stomach has been so nice and delicate that I have been almost ready to loathe the honeycomb, bitter aloes have proved an excellent stomachic; it has strengthened it, promoted appetite, and helped digestion. "With bitter herbs shall you eat it:" "All his garments smell of myrrh and aloes:" and sure I am that "the heart knoweth its own bitterness," and "to an hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." The plague of the heart is preferred to carnal ease; but for every species of the gout there is nothing so effectual as mustard seed and sweet oil: mustard seed is of a warm nature, more so than flannel; and the best and most skilful Physician that ever was in this world has declared that faith, like a grain of mustard seed, would move a mountain from the earth, and why not a swelling. from the foot? Sweet oil is good against peevishness and fretfulness, which often attend sick beds, especially when a patient is first seized with pain: this medicine is intended for the sick and afflicted, as it is written, to give them "the oil of joy for mourning." Against an ague in the heart, or when the affections are chilled, and love waxes cold, and carnal security has followed upon it, the most effectual medicine that ever was applied to me in this case has been the coals of juniper, or the flames of spiritual jealousy, springing up from the supposition of injured love: this is as effectual as the fly is to a sluggish bullock. For the lethargy, or a sleepy devil, that is always calling for a pillow, the furnace of affliction, or a journey to Horeb, to behold the earthquake, the wind, and the fire, has performed wonders. I have known some patients under this disorder who could not keep their eyes open by day, yet have been so awakened as not to be able to close them by night.
At this season of the year infirm people feel their inward seeds of mortality. Damp fogs and keen frosty air search after the gouty matter, and call it up into motion, which causes pain, and pain calls for rest from labour; and confining us is putting our feet in the stocks; and being laid by the heels keeps us .from running to mischief; and when the carcase is confined we fetch home our thoughts, desires, and affections, to keep us company, and to entertain us in our solitude: this shews us what is neglected, what is run behind, what is out of joint, and What is off the hooks: it is a time to take stock, take down the files, overhaul the books; to see what is standing against us, what stock there is in trade, what the credit amounts to, and whether we have lost or gained by trading. This my advice is all gratis, therefore it is hoped no umbrage will be taken at the Doctor, who subscribes himself
Yours to serve, under every influenza,
W. H. S.S.