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Letter 1141

Darwin, C. R. to Innes, J. B.


    Summary Add

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    Suggests various remedies for toothache.



My dear Mr Innes

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.— Mrs Darwin finds hot fomentations do best.— Many find cold water applications best.—

I have found two or three drops of Alum & Swt Spirits of Nitre (in bottle with a label) sometimes do my teeth great good. I was not in when your note came

Yours | C. Darwin

I send my bottles which you can return afterwards

I send Creosote, some find a drop of this do much good

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1141.f1
    Vicar of Down since 1846; he became a life-long friend of the Darwin family (see Stecher 1961 and Moore 1985).
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    f2 1141.f2
    Stecher 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.
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    f3 1141.f3
    Applied externally chloroform was used as an antiseptic and local anaesthetic (Beasley 1852, p. 245).
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    f4 1141.f4
    Tincture of arnica was a common ingredient of mouthwashes at the time and acted primarily as a disinfectant (Court 1982).
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    f5 1141.f5
    Sweet 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).
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    f6 1141.f6
    Creosote, obtained from wood tar, was also used locally as an antiseptic; ‘it frequently affords immediate relief in toothache’ (Beasley 1854, p. 199).
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