Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Fothergill, [October 1757]

To John Fothergill4

Draft: American Philosophical Society

Tuesday morning, [October, 1757?]5

Dear Doctor

I took the 30 grs. of Comp[oun]d Powder of Contrayerva6 you prescribed, and had a good Night.

I had no Headach in the Morning, as when I took the Hartshorn Drops;7 and therefore did not cup.8

But I have had all Day yesterday, a Giddiness and Swimming in my Head, which, every time I rise up, or turn suddenly, makes me stagger a little.

I hear a humming Noise in my head, and seem now and then to see little faint twinkling Lights. And my Head feels tender.

Will Abstinence be sufficient to remove this Disorder: or do you still advise Cupping, and any thing farther, for Your affectionate Friend9

Dr Fothergill

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Dr. Fothergill was BF’s physician in the protracted illness here described.

5As BF told DF November 22 (see below p. 272), his illness continued for about eight weeks. While this draft is not fully dated, the similarity of the symptoms to those he described to his wife suggest that it was written during this time, perhaps in October 1757.

6Counter herb; antidote to poison; specifically, a tropical American aromatic root used as a stimulant or tonic.

7Ammonia water made from shavings of the horn of a hart (deer).

8To cup: to bleed for therapeutic purposes. BF later reported to DF that he had been cupped on the back of the head during this illness.

9What may be parts of the initials “BF” are faintly discernable in a torn corner of the MS.

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