A new analysis of the Bristol waters: together with the cause of the diabetes and hectic. And their cure, as it results from those waters, experimentally consider'd. ... By John Shebbeare, ...
Shebbeare, John, 1709-1788.
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THE Situation of the Hot-Well is as picturesque perhaps as can be imagin'd; it lies on the Side of the River Avon, about a Mile and half distant from the City of Bristol. The Stream issues from a very high Clift of Lime Rock, perhaps two hundred Feet below the Summit, and ten above the Level of Low Water, but as the Water rises here in the lowest Tides thirty Feet, and in the Spring much more, it was of Necessity ren∣der'd inaccessible some hours every Day, till Mr Padmore, (a Man well known for his Page  5Genius in Mechanics) inclos'd it with a Cistern, and affixed Pumps to the Spring, by means of these the Stream is elevated almost thirty Feet in all its native Heat, Purity, and Perfection: Notwithstanding this Care the River Water, when it rises above the Spring, mixes with the Medicinal and renders it unfit for Use; this is perfectly well known by those that pump at the Well, and consequently as soon as perceived they abstain till it recovers its former Purity.

The River Avon flows here till it falls int othe Severn Sea, between two Cliffs, in some Places vastly high, craggy and over∣hanging, in others perpendicular or gently sloping; here cover'd with Woods and flowering Shrubs, of all the different Shades of Green, fill'd with Music of our Singing Birds; There gloomy and obscure, con∣trasted by strong Lights, and various Colours of the Marble Rocks, which are as variega∣ted as the foreign, and admit as beautiful a Polish. Add to this the flowing of the Tide which enhanses the Beauty, by bringing Vessels of every Kind close to the Windows of the Water-Room, and compleats as agreeable Landscape as can be seen any where. And as the Mind and Body reciprocally affect each other, how proper an Entertainment is it for the Imaginations of Men indis∣posed, Page  6and how Salutary an Avocation to those Thoughts which every Valetudinarian is too apt to indulge? Hence it is in some greater degree conducive to Health, than Places altogether void of these Amusements.

On the Summit of the Rocks there for∣merly stood a Chapel, dedicated to St Vin∣cent, it is equally uncertain whether he was canonized for the Discovery of the Medicinal Spring, and the Cures thence resulting to Mankind, or from clearing the River of huge Rocks that distress'd the Sailors in their Navigation near this Place. Whatever was the Cause, he constantly received their Vows for fafety as their tutelar Saint, and was of no small Distinction.

The Downs which are on a Level with the Cliffs are of a dry healthy Soil, and much frequented by Company; they are open to the reviving Breezes of the Sea, which refresh them every Summer's Day. Here too you may adapt your Prospects and Situa∣tion to every Humour, whither you chuse to be conceal'd beneath the Shade of Rocks and Woods, reclin'd beside some murmuring Rivulet, which naturally return our Thoughts upon ourselves; or whether you prefer the exalted Situation, where the Mind widens with the View into Benevolence and good Page  7Wishes. That Prospects have a kind of Moral Effect on the Thought I presume no one will deny, since Light and Colours are to the Eye, what Sound and Harmony is to the Ear. Hence too it was that the Temples of the ancient Deities were situated accord∣ing to their Attributes: That of Pluto in a Cavern all sad and gloomy, by the Side of rumbling Waters; whilst that of the Muses was placed on the Point of Parnassus all gay and enlivening; perhaps the most elevated Eminence of this Cliff was made the Seat of St Vincent's Chapel, because his Beneficence was more extensive than that of other Men.

The essential Difference of the Air in this Place, from most other dry and elevated Situations is, that it has but little, if any, of that vague Acid, so generally dispersed thro' the Earth, which in some Places is even deadly, as at the Grotto Dei Cani in Italy. We may be assured of this from the Nature of the Waters and Fossils in both, which, an Alcalescence prevails. Now every thing offensive in the Atmosphere must arise from Exhalation, but it is scarce probable that there are any acid Effluvia here, because if the acid was in any Quantity there must be more Salts found in the Water, since it is evident there is no want of Limestone: Now Limestone and a mineral Acid for ever pro∣duce Page  8Alum, and consequently as there is little Alum found here, the Air must be void of acid Effluvia: Notwithstanding this this great Advantage, it must not be thought that this Air is agreeable to every Indispsi∣tion, it can be of Service to none but those of a cold pituitous nervous Habit, and detri∣mental to all whose Juices tend to Alcalescence and Putrefaction from a sanguine Constitu∣tion.

The Lodging-Houses are neat and well situated, having a pleasant Prospect, and as they are near a large City 'tis easy to be pro∣vided with every Necessary: Here are Baths too, both private and well contriv'd, and a Long Room with the usual Diversions attend∣ing such Places.

It seems but of little Significancy to deter∣mine the Quantity of Water discharged in any certain Time, because it conduces no∣thing towards an Account of it's Properties, and since there is more wasted than used, notwithstanding the great Demand for it. But should there be any one curious enough to enquire, he may be satisfied by the follow∣ing Experiment: it has been experimentally found by Monsieur Mariotte, that Water flowing from the Surface of a Pool thro' a Hole an Inch square, and always full, runs Page  9off thirty Cubic Feet in an Hour, Paris Measure. Upon this Experiment having ta∣ken the mean Proportion of the Depth of the Stream, where it runs out over the Rock, it may be nearly known how many square Inches it contains, and consequently what Aperture it would pass through naturally; then considering that the Contents of Circles are to each other as the Squares of their Diameters, the whole Discharge in one Hour may be pretty justly known.

How long this Medicinal Water has been prescribed by Physicians, for those Maladies it is now so deservedly esteem'd to cure, is uncertain. We know however, that they have been administer'd with great Success, and their Character much heighten'd by the present Physicians of Bristol.