Assorted George documents

Writer: James Graham, the "Earth Doctor"

Date: 5th October 1793

               For Mrs Wright

    Even if you are so fortunate as to receive a tolerable Cure of the complaint of your face from the use of Gowland's Lotion, the moderate, gentle, & judicious of some of the following things may not only render it more complete, but also, by keeping under or rooting out any humour latent in your blood which may be the cause of the eruption &c. in your face, —render the cure more permanent, and benefit your general health.
        Mix a quarter of an ounce of best Rhubarb powder, half an ounce of Salt Nitre powder, and a dram of the Salt of Amber, with half a pound of Cream of Tartar;— and put two, three, or four teaspoonfuls of this powder into half a pint of hot skimmed milk, stir them well and strain it, and drink all this whey clear & warm, early every morning, for a week or two, and do not breakfast those mornings;—and then leave off that whey for some months,—and now & then, as you find good, or judge necessary, take from one to two or three teaspoonfuls of the following powder in treacle or honey, as you please, at night or in a morning. Drink slowly a pint of cold soft water, or cold gruel after it:
                Athiops Mineral, flowers of Sulphur, sena powder & Jalap powder, each a quarter
                of an ounce, mixed.
        Instead of either of the above opening medicines, both of which may be omitted sometimes for three or four months together,—you may every week, for a few successive weeks, take the following paper of Juniper Physick. Juniper berries, beat very small, four ounces; —Aniseeds & Sena leaves, beat together [till sma]ll, each a quarter of an ounce; Cream of Tartar, half an ounce, Jalap powder, half a dram;—all well mixed.
On all the above, pour three pints of boiling water, stir them often, cover them close, and when almost cold, add to them half a pound of honey, and stir them all well & long together, and then strain the liquor very hard off, pressing out all you possibly can,—and begin very early in the morning to drink a large teacupful every hour, till it has operated copiously, then stop, and drink what remains, (if any) next morning.
    As long as you live, I advise you to put from a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful of the following mixture into the half pint, or whole pint, as you find best, of cold soft water, or milk & water, with which you wash your face, every morning, & every night. Dissolve an ounce of Camphire in half a pint of the very best Spirit of Wine, and an ounce of good honey in half a pint of best Vinegar, and shake them all well together. Wash with simple cold water daily at noon.
N.B. if the complaint proves very obstinate, you may first make the vinegar extremely strong, by dissolving in it & the honey, plenty of young green elder bark, broad leaved plantain, & common wormwood, all beat into a paste,—and then, when well mixed with the vinegar, strained off, and mixed with the camphorated spirit;— and to the whole mixture, viz. a pint, add a vial of Ward's White Drop, from Mr. Godfrey's, Covent-Garden, Southampton-Street.
    You may also take inwardly, daily, (except when you take the opening or purging physick), one or two teaspoonful of either the first or second camphorated &c. mixture, in a large glass of cold water, with sugar, oatmeal &c. if you please.
    Sometimes you may drink plenty of whole Linseeds infused in cold water, & swallow the seeds. Sometimes you may drink a basin of strong warm tea made of fresh beat Aniseeds;— but cold soft water will be your best general drink.
    Tea, porter, wine, & spirits, daily used, are poisonous to both body & soul. —So, also, are close rooms, late hours, and much animal food.
    The oftener you wash the surface of your body & limbs, with cold water, the better.— Small long & often at many fresh made holes in the Earth; or, if nothing else will do completely, take a long course of Earth-bathing.
    Bathing the face with a very strong infusion of Elder flowers in hot milk, strained, is also good.

London, Oct. 5th


Quite how the George family came to possess this document is quite unknown. James Graham had become quite notorious by the the time it was written, and it's not hard to see why someone would keep it as a 'curio'.

James Graham, son of a saddler, was born in 1745 in Edinburgh, where he trained in medicine, but left medical school without taking a degree. Graham set up as an apothecary in Doncaster, Yorkshire, and in 1764 he married Mary Pickering. They had three children.

In 1770 Graham left England for America, travelling around as an oculist and aurist before settling in Philadelphia. Here he learned the principles of electricity from Ebenezer Kinnersley, Benjamin Franklin's friend and collaborator, and began to develop the prototype of his Celestial Bed. Leaving America around the time of the first rumblings of the American Revolution, he worked briefly in Bristol and then Bath before setting up practice in London.

After travelling in northern Europe in 1776, Graham set up practice in Bath, Somerset. During a further research tour of Europe in the summer of 1779, Graham acquired a new patron in Lady Spencer, mother of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. In 1780 Graham opened his first Temple of Health, housed in the centre of the Adam brothers' Adelphi development. He displayed elaborate electro-magnetic apparatus, treated patients with musical therapy and pneumatic chemistry as well as electricity and magnetism, published marriage guidance material, gave medical lectures and sold medicines. He performed with the help of a succession of Goddesses of Health, displayed as models of physical perfection. A later rumour stated that the young Emma Hamilton (then known as Emy Lyon), was employed as the goddess Hebe Vestina. The Temple of Health was a success and Graham became the talk of London, featuring in satirical plays, poems, prints and newspaper skits. During the 1780s he was publicly associated with society figures.

In June 1781 Graham launched the Temple of Hymen in new premises in Pall Mall, designed to house the newly built Celestial Bed. His "wonder-working edifice" was 12 by 9 feet, and canopied by a dome covered in musical automata, fresh flowers, and a pair of live turtle doves. Stimulating oriental fragrances and "aethereal" gases were released from a reservoir inside the dome. A tilting inner frame put couples in the best position to conceive, and their movements set off music from organ pipes which breathed out "celestial sounds". Here Graham gave his Lecture on Generation, a frank explanation of how to conceive, which saw sex as a patriotic act and procreation as a national duty. Cold water washing of the genitals was recommended as essential to good sexual health, and prostitution and masturbation were castigated.

Graham was soon in financial difficulties. By 1784 he was forced to sell most of his possessions. He returned to Edinburgh, to display the remains of his apparatus in a temporary Temple of Health on South Bridge Street.

Graham had developed from the 1770s another therapy, which he called "earth-bathing" in a 1790 pamphlet. In 1786, he gave public exhibitions of earth-bathing in Panton Street in London, and lectured buried up to the neck in earth.

From the mid-1780s Graham preached, and opposed the religious views of Joseph Priestley. At times he was confined to his house as a lunatic. At the end of 1792, Graham began to experiment with extended fasting to prolong his life. He died at his home in Edinburgh in 1794.

Source: a fuller, Wikipedia article

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