Oatmeal and peppermint

Posted on November 22, 2013 | in Collections, CRC, Exhibitions, Library | by

Gregory letterssmall

In March 2014 our main exhibition will feature items purchased for the collections with the help of the Friends of Edinburgh University Library.  Our intern has been looking at possible exhibits and we will be featuring several of these on the blog over the next few months.

This correspondence, between Dr. James Gregory and John and James Douglas of Prince Edward Island, was purchased by the Friends in 1972. Dating from 1801, they contain an interesting and valuable insight into the practise of medicine in the early nineteenth century. The papers contain prescriptions, letters and instructions. Many of the letters bear the original red wax seal.  Gregory at one point instructs James to eat “oatmeal, if he is a good Scotchman”. The prescriptions include peppermint water, Cathartic pills and Volatile Lineament (with ingredients written in Latin), but he elaborates in his instructions that “no medicine will cure him without strict attention to regimen”. This insight into early nineteenth century medicine demonstrates a focus on lifestyle rather than the belief in the ability of medicines to cure ailments. This is just one example of the purchases made with the help of the Friends since their foundation in 1962.

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