Threw It Up & She Said She Could Take Nothing More

in about Warren

Date: April 18, 1774

Author: [Dr. Bond]

[To Dr. John Warren] “Marblehead April ye 18th 1774

Dear Friend

It is rather too long since I heard from your Worship; I believe you must appear, propria[?] Persona, so give a History of your late observations as it should be troublesome to make up for all your Difficiencies in way of Letter; however not to be too Impudent I should think myself highly honored by having an op[p]ortunity of waiting on Dr. Warren, we have no out of the way thing happened here lately alas, there is not much news stirring among us, I have wrote to Dr. Fisher about that Notion you & I was talking of the other Day but the Creature has sent me no Answer. I should be glad to know if you have seen Marcellus & what he says of the Matter[.]

Last Night I was up till after 8 oC with a Patient under the Bilious Cholic  I gave her in the first Place ol Ceath Z  ½ [i.e. half an ounce] & as she was in great Pain[?] an Enem: & left her for 3 [or 8?] hours upon return I found her in great Pain & neither the oil nor the Enema had operated upon wh[ich] I gave her an Emet but tho her stomach was somewhat previously nauseated it operated so poorly that I was obliged to repeat it once or twice which brought on about 4 or 5 setts of pushing but it did not relieve her one Jot as there ocerred to be a considerable flatus in her Stomach.  I gave her Z  ½ of [ ? ] [ ? ]: hoping [ ] the flatus & nausea would please to take themselves off as the Gen[    ] did[.]   Then gave her Sena & Salts a goodly dose this her Stomach bore for half an hour & then threw it up & she said she could take nothing more[.]  I then deflated the Enem which tho it did not operate eased her some, what with one thing & she had a passage by Morning and in [    ] [    ] as the Nausea arising from Emeti sometimes prevents the exhibition of Ceathr[.] if the Presumption is in favour of the Stomach’s being tolerably free of it is it not best to try Ceathr well before we attempt the Cure by Emetc[.]

Another thing it is allowed that all kinds of Liquids promote a nausea but as there is often a parchedness of the fauces [feces], in obstinate nausea’s would not the frequently monitoring them rather prevent than promote them[.]

I think I will no fa[r]ther tempt your Patience only just to ask leave to subscribe myself your humble servt

A Lamb of the Spunke Club”

Source: The ms letter is in The John Collins Warren Papers, Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, box 2 of 23.  It is mentioned without most of the text as further evidence of the Spunkers by Matthews, Albert. “In a Paper Read March 1917.” Colonial Society of Massachusetts Transactions XX, (1920), pp. 462-463 Feb 1919.

Commentary:  Albert Matthews noted in 1919 that the author must have been Nathaniel Bond (Harvard BA 1766), apparently on the basis of handwriting and circumstances, who was born in 1747, enlisted as surgeon in Col. John Glover’s regiment at Marblehead in April 1775, and who died while serving in the Continental Army on March 7, 1777.  I note that the “Lamb of the Spunke[r] Club” does not identify himself explicitly in the manuscript.

The letter confirms that John Warren was a Spunker and suggests that Nathaniel Bond was one as well.   Spunkers were Harvard students and alumni interested in a medical career and the study of anatomy, the latter using specimens they acquired as resurrectionists.  If Dr. Bond had been a member of the Anatomy Club or the Spunkers (it is unclear whether these were distinct clubs or synonyms for the same group) during his undergraduate years, this letter can be interpreted as evidence that the Spunkers existed at Harvard as early as the mid-1760s.  Other authors, as do I, have surmised without explicit evidence that the Anatomical Club or Spunkers dated back to Joseph Warren’s undergraduate years 1755-59, and that he was an active member during his student years.  Some of the members continued professional and personal affiliation via correspondence despite geographic separation and military contingencies during the Revolutionary War.  Most had been Joseph Warren’s medical apprentices.

Much of the letter is about a clinical case, weighing the importance of the order of introducing purgative and emetic treatments in a case of gastrointestinal colic.  Dr. Bond anticipated a criticism of modern physicians in that his handwriting is illegible to me, a situation subverting my attempt to identify the treatments with certainty.  The cause of the female patient’s distress is unclear in modern terms.  I hope she survived this onslaught of therapy despite opining that “she could take nothing more.”

Elsewhere in the letter it remains unclear to me if the title “your Worship” was a fond nickname or a literal Masonic title, what was being discussed with Dr. Fisher, and who “Marcellus” was.

Previous post:

Next post: