Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, an electronic edition

by Hannah Woolley [Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670]

date: 1675
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Edward Thomas
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

Table of Contents

<< Section Section >>

Display page layout

What is to be observed by a Gentlewoman before she undertakes the administration of Physick.

The first inconvenience you must shun (which I have observed in most Physical Practitioners) is the vulgar error of not suffering the diseased or sick person to change his linnen often; and I know not by what unreasonable prescription they will not suffer a diseased female to change her head-clothes, till it too sensibly offend the noses of the Visitants. Their common objection is, That the sick by that means may catch cold; and next, That their shifting much weakneth them.

To this I answer, That it is only the foolish conjecture and groundless fear of some old Dotard of our sex; for a good fire will easily prevent catching of cold; and in the next place, their often shifting hath apparently proved the means of their strengthning; besides it much disconrageth and dejecteth the sick person to lie in foul linnen, making them even loath themselves in that stinking condition. To make this the more easily understood, take notice, that in | | 166 humane bodies there is a threefold Concoction the first in the stomack, which is commonly called the Chyle, and hath for its excrement that which is convey'd to Colon or the great Gut; the second concoction is in the Liver, and hath for its excrement the Urine; the last is called Nutrition, and hath for its excrement certain fuliginous vapours, which by insensible transpiration do breath out themselves through the pores of the body, and by the sweat, which is apparent to the eye. Now in times of Sickness, especially in all sorts of Fevers (which are the usual diseases which invade English bodies) this last excrement doth very much abound, and doth extreamly and speedily foul the Linnen of the sick person; for which cause reason tells us, that the Linnen should be often shifted, especially is, they sweat much, lest the sweat continuing about the body, it should be drawn in by the same wa it had its passage out. For know the Arteries of the body have a double motion, one whereby they expel the Excrements, already mention'd; and the other whereby they attract into the body the ambient Air to refresh the blood: Now observe, whatsoever Air is next unto them, whether good or bad they draw it in; and therefore if this foul sweaty Linnen do lie about, or upon them, undoubtedly the noisome airs will be drawn in by the Arteries, and so prolong the distemper. To make further proof hereof, I have heard it reported by an eminent Physician, that let any person newly come out of the Bath, go into a place where a quantity of dust is rais'd, and he shall instantly | | 167 feel an unversal pricking over his whole body which is nothing else but the Atoms of dust drawn in by the Arteries. By this then you may understand, that the skin ought to be cleansed from all corruption, and the pores and passages to be kept open and clean; for which cause it was that the Romans of old had their bodies frequently rubbed with a coarse cloth. Thus much I have added likewise, to let Gentlewomen see how much they are abused by their credulous and ignorant Nurses.

Should I add other observables, with the Symptoms of Diseases, I should swell this small Treatise into a greater volume than is requisite. I shall therefore desist and give you my collection (with my own observation) of the choicest receipts in Physick and Chirugery I could meet with in my strictest indigation.

Choice and Experimental Observations in Physick and Chyrurgery, such which rarely fail'd any who made trial thereof.

<< Section Section >>