Before I set down the process of making an artificial hot bath, I shall premise something concerning the true nature and origin of a hot bath. Now the clearest and best account that I ever heard or read of the cause of the heat in baths is that which is given by Monsieur de Rochas, and that in a demonstrative way. His words are these:
"As I was", says he, "with some of my companions wandering in Savoy, I found in the valley of
Lucerne between the Alps a hot spring. I began to consider the cause of this heat, and whereas the vulgar opinion is that the heat of fountains is from mountains fired within, I saw reason to think the contrary because I saw snow upon a mountain from whence this hot spring came, unmelted, which could not have been possible, but would have been dissolved by the hot fumes of the mountains had they been fired. Whereupon, being unsatisfied, I with my companions and other laborers (whom I could hardly persuade to undertake such a business by reason they were afraid that fire would thereupon break forth out of the ground and consume us) got tools and set upon digging to find out the true cause of the heat of this fountain. After we had dug fifteen days (having before perceived the water to be hotter and hotter by degrees as we came nearer to the source) we came to the original of the heat where was a great ebullition. In three hours more we dug beyond this place of ebullition and perceived the water to be cold, yet in the same continued stream with the other that was hot. Upon this I began to wonder much at the reason of these things. Then I carried to by lodging some of this hot water (which was both saltish and acid) and evaporated it. Of forty ounces I yet further purified and extracted thence three drams of pure nitrous hermetic salt, the other two ounces being a slimy sulphurous substance. Yet with this I was not satisfied, but with my laborers went again to the place and dug twelve days more. Then we came to a water which was insipid as ordinary fountain water, yet still in a continued stream with the saltish and hot water. At this I wondered much, whereupon I dug up some of the earth where the cold and saltish stream ran and carried it home with me, and out of a hundred weight thereof I extracted a good quantity of nitrous salt which was almost fluxile.
'When I extracted as much as I could, I laid the earth aside, and in 24 hours it was all covered over with salt which I extracted, and out of a hundred weight of this earth, which I call virgin earth, I had four pounds of this kind of salt which it contracted in the aforesaid 24 hours, and so it would do constantly. Now this satisfied me concerning one doubt. For before I was unsatisfied how there could be a constant supply of that salt which made the water saltish, seeing there was but a little distance between the insipid water and the hot water, and the constant stream of water washed away the salt which was in that little space. For I perceived that this kind of earth attracts this universal salt of the world partly from the air in the cavities of the earth and partly from the vapors that constantly pass through the earth. After this I took some of that earth where the ebullition was and carried it home and proved it, and I perceived it to be a sulphur mine, into which the former acid saltish water penetrating caused an ebullition, as do salt of tartar and spirit of vitriol being mixed together, and also water poured on unslaked lime. After this I began to question how it was that this sulphur mine was not consumed, seeing so much matter pass from it daily. But when I began to understand how all things in the earth did assimilate to themselves whatsoever was of any kind of affinity to them, as as mines convert the tools of miners into their own substance in a little time, and such like experiments of that nature, I was satisfied. And after all this I understood how this universal salt of the world was to be had, and I could at any time mix it with water, and pour that water upon sulphur, and so make an artificial hot bath as good as any natural bath whatsoever. Note that no salt in the world but this nitrous salt will do it, as I often tried. And this salt is to be found in all hot baths, and to be prepared artificially. " Thus far Monsieur de Rochas.
Something like unto this Helmont seems to hold forth, saying that there is a Primum Ens Salium or Femina Salium which are all seated in waters and vapors and give them an acidity, but as yet have no saline taste until they meet with such principles and be received into certain matrixes in the earth which may make them put forth this potential saltiness into act. According to this diversity of places this water or vapor, being impregnated with those seeds of salt, goes through arise the diversity of salts, as alum, sea salt, nitre, etc. Then upon this account the earth, through which the cold, acid, saltish water abovesaid run through, did specificate that potential salt which was both in the water and vapors into a nitrous salt (by which means was that kind of salt in that place). But whether this Prium Ens Salium by so unspecificated or Quid Hermaphroditicum as he asserts, or no, it matters not much to my purpose. It suffices if that earth,through which that acid nitrous water runs, attracts and multiplies an acid nitrous salt with which the water, being impregnated and running through a sulphurous mine, causes an ebullition. All this being premised, I shall now endeavor to illustrate how nature may in this be imitated, as that an artificial hot bath may be made by such like principles, as the natural hot bath consists of, being artificially prepared.
Now these principles are the sulphur mine and the acid nitrous salt. The former requires no further preparation (as says Monsieur de Rochas) if it be pure. The latter is to be prepared two manner of ways. Either it is to be extracted, as says the foresaid author, out of the waters of the bath by evaporating them away, or by condensing the nitrous air (for indeed as many judicious philosophers are of opinion, the air is wholly nitrous as it appears by the condensation of it in cold places into nitre) which his virgin earth did do into a salt which was acid and almost fluxile. Now when I say that the nitrous salt is to be thus prepared, I do not say that this is the full preparation thereof, for indeed it is yet further to be prepared, and that is by giving it a greater acidity. I question much whether or no the salt, being prepared after the aforesaid ways, does retain that acidity which is required for that ebullition I spoke of, and which the nitrous water had before it came to the mine of sulphur. For indeed, the aforesaid author when he affirmed that he could at any time make an artificial hot bath, did not say he used the salt prepared only after the two former ways, viz., by extracting it out of the waters of the bath and making it with his virgin earth which did attract and condense the nitrousness of the air, but withall by making it so acid that it might cause an ebullition when it came to be joined with a sulphur mine.
Now then, how to give this nitre a sufficient acidity is the great question. For the better effecting of this we must consider whence that nitrous water (above mentioned) in the earth had the greatest part of its acidity.
As to that, it must be remembered that the virgin earth through which the acid nitrous water did run, did condense the nitrous air or vapors into a nitrous salt and, withal!, it is to be considered that before this nitrous air or vapor, before it is condensed, even when it is near unto condensation is acid, and part of it before condensation is mixed with the water, and so renders it acid. Now that waters have a great part of their acidity from the acid vapors of acid minerals both Henricus ab Heers and Jordan upon mineral waters affirm. That salts unbodied are far more acid than when they have assumed a body is clearly manifest in this, viz., that spirits of salts which I call salts unbodied, because they have lost their body, are become very acid because unbodied. If so in spirits that have lost their bodies, why not after some proportion in those that have not yet assumed a body, as vapors of nitre, or nitrous air being near to congelation, and bodying, and impregnant with spirits of nitre.
Now, I say that nitrous vapors or nitrous air, being a salt unbodied, are not so acid as spirits of nitre, because they are more phlegmatic and crude, which phlegm they lose by being congealed into a salt. Yet for all this, they are far more acid than the body of salt, and this is that which Helmont understands when he says that the esurine salt, being incorporificated, is far more active in giving taste and odor than when it has received its body by becoming a specificated salt. Furthermore, how nitre shall become sufficiently acid for the aforesaid operation is the great matter to be enquired into. We must therefore consider which way we may unbody nitre (seeing it is scarce possible to get it before it has received its body). That is done two ways, either by forcing of it into a most sharp spirit, which is too acid for our intention, or by digesting the whole substance of nitre into a liquor moderately acid, which indeed serves for our purpose, and the process is this. Take the purest nitre you can get. Dissolve it in rainwater, so as that the water imbibes as much of it as it can. Then put this nitrous water into a common earthen vessel unglazed which you must set in a cellar. You shall see this vessel in a short time to be white all over on the outside as with a hoarfrost. This whiteness is partly the flowers of the nitre, being the purest part thereof, penetrating the vessel and partly the nitrous air condensed into nitre by the coldness of the vessel, as also assimilated to the nitre that penetrated the vessel. I said by the coldness of the vessel, because such is the coldness of an earthen vessel wherein is nitre, dissolved in water, that it will being set in snow by the fireside be freezed.
This nitre you must strike off with a feather and when you have a sufficient quantity thereof, as three or four pounds, put this or the nitrous salt extracted from both waters into a bolt head of glass (a pound in each bolt head) that two parts of three be empty. Nip it up, set it in ashes, and give it a reasonable strong fire, viz., that the upper part of the bowl of the bolt head be as hot as that you can, but well suffer your hand upon it, and you shall see that the nitre will be dissolved every day a little, and in two or three months time be wholly dissolved and become acid, but not so acid as the spirit thereof. Then put it into a glass gourd with a head and distill it off. In the bottom you shall find an acid nitrous salt almost fluxile, and not unlike that salt which Monsieur de Rochas found in the evaporating of his water. Then pour the distilled nitre water upon the said salt, and then it is for your use.
The use of these principles or ingredients is this, viz., to make fountain water sufficiently acid with this nitrous liquor. Then pour it upon a sufficient quantity of the best sulphur mine or sulphur vivum in a large wooden vessel where the patient is to be bathed. You will see the water presently heated so hot as the patient is able to bear.
The inward use of these bathwaters is by reason of the nitre in them, to dissolve gross humors, open obstructions, cleanse the kidneys and bladder and, by reason of the sulphur, to dry, mollify, discuss, and glutinate, and to help all uterine effects proceeding from cold and windy humors. Note that they must be drunk warm and in a good quantity, or else they will do more hurt than good. The outward use of this is for such ill effects as are in the habit of of the body and out of the veins, as of palsies, contractions, rheums, cold humors, effects of the skin and aches, for they resolve, discuss, cleanse, mollify, etc.
Now for the manner of bathing I shall not prescribe anything, but leave this to the discretion of the physician who is to give orders and directions for all the circumstances about it. For indeed everyone is not to bathe when and how he pleases, but must apply himself to an able physician and submit himself to his judgment and experience, or else may receive either prejudice or no benefit thereby.
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