Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John MacMahon: Prescription and Directions, 14 September 1782

From John MacMahon: Prescription and Directions

(I) Press copy of ADS: Library of Congress; (II) ALS and press copy of ALS: Library of Congress


ce 14 septbre. [1782?]7

Huit paquets de sel de Glauber,8 chacun d’une demi-once.

Six prises de pilules de Starkey,9 chacune de quatre graines.

Pour son Excellence M. Franklin

Mc. M

[In William Temple Franklin’s hand:] De plus Une once d’Emulsion, edulcorée avec une Once de Syrop de Diacode1


sept. the 14th. [1782?]

An ounce of wild succory roots2 is to be boiled in a quart of water, during seven or eight minutes.

Strain the decoction and dissolve in it one of the packets of salt.

This is to be drank every morning fasting, by glasses of a quarter of an hour’s distance between each glass.

One of Starkey’s pills is to be taken every night.

They are a little laxative and anodyne.

Mc. M.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Though BF was ill in subsequent autumns, his suffering in mid-September, 1782, was particularly acute. We therefore suspect that this prescription was a follow-up on MacMahon’s prescription of Aug. 23–24, above. For BF’s own concern over his situation at this time see his letters to Lafayette, Sept. 13 and 17; to Hartley, Sept. 17; and to Jay, Sept. 17.

8Sodium sulphate, which was used as a cathartic and a diuretic, and introduced by the German physician and chemist Johann Rudolph Glauber of Amsterdam c. 1650: J. Worth Estes, Dictionary of Protopharmacology: Therapeutic Practices, 1700–1850 (Canton, Mass., 1990), pp. 90, 205.

9An opiate devised by George Starkey in London in the seventeenth century: ibid., p. 182.

1A narcotic which MacMahon also prescribed in August.

2Or chicory; a cathartic or intestinal tonic: Estes, Dictionary, p. 47.

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