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The best white hellebore is that which acts most speedily as a sternutatory; but it would seem to be a much more formidable1 plant than the black kind; more particularly if we read in the ancient authors the precautions used by those about to take it, against cold shiverings, suffocation, unnatural drowsiness, continuous hiccup or sneezing, derangements of the stomach, and vomitings, either retarded or prolonged, too sparing or in excess. Indeed, it was generally the practice to administer other substances to promote vomiting, and to carry off the hellebore by the aid of purgatives or clysters, while bleeding even was frequently had recourse to. In addition to all this, however successful the results may prove, the symptoms by which it is attended are really most alarming, by reason of the various colours which the matter vomited presents: besides which, after the vomiting has subsided, the physician has to pay the greatest attention to the nature of the alvine evacuations, the due and proper use of the bath, and the general regimen adopted by the patient; all of them inconveniences in themselves, and preceded by the terrors naturally inspired by the character of the drug; for one story is, that it has the property of consuming flesh, if boiled with it.

The great error,2 however, on the part of the ancients was, that in consequence of these fears, they used to give it too sparingly, the fact being, that the larger the dose, the more speedily it passes through the body. Themison used to give no more than two drachmæ, but at a later period as much as four drachmæ was administered; in conformity with the cele- brated eulogium passed upon it by Herophilus,3 who was in the habit of comparing hellebore to a valiant general, and saying, that after it has set in motion all within, it is the first to sally forth and show the way. In addition to these particulars, there has been a singular discovery made: the hellebore which, as we have already stated, has been cut with a small pair of scissors,4 is passed through a sieve, upon which the pith makes its way through, while the outer coat remains behind. The latter acts as a purgative, while the former is used for the purpose of arresting vomiting when that evacuation is in excess.

1 Its properties, Fée says, are not more active than those of black hellebore.

2 Fée remarks, that they showed their wisdom in this.

3 Herophilus, it must be remembered, lived a considerable time before Themison.

4 "Forficulis." He probably refers to c. 21, where, however, he has mentioned only a needle—"acus." It is possibly a lapsus memoriœ on his part.

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