Suggests various remedies for toothache.
My dear M
I am extremely sorry to hear of your toothache.— You must not put, I think
more than one drop of Chloroform on the tooth..— I send Tincture of Arnica which smarts the skin
(deadly Poison) to put outside.— M
I have found two or three drops of Alum & Sw
Yours | C. Darwin
I send my bottles which you can return afterwards
I send Creosote, some find a drop of this do much good
- f1 1141.f1Vicar of Down since 1846; he became a life-long friend of the Darwin family (see Stecher 1961 and Moore 1985).
- f2 1141.f2Stecher 1961 dates this letter 1848 but no reasons are given. The form of the salutation indicates that it is early in their friendship, but no evidence for a precise date has been found.
- f3 1141.f3Applied externally chloroform was used as an antiseptic and local anaesthetic (Beasley 1852, p. 245).
- f4 1141.f4Tincture of arnica was a common ingredient of mouthwashes at the time and acted primarily as a disinfectant (Court 1982).
- f5 1141.f5Sweet spirits of nitre (ethyl nitrite) and finely-powdered alum were the ingredients of a proprietory product for toothache called ‘Mr. Blake's tincture’ (Beasley 1852, p. 245).
- f6 1141.f6Creosote, obtained from wood tar, was also used locally as an antiseptic; ‘it frequently affords immediate relief in toothache’ (Beasley 1854, p. 199).