Popular Errours

Or the errours of the people in physick, first written in Latine by the learned physitian James Primrose Doctor in Physick. The Latin version was published in 1638, but the English translation came out in 1651 and featured this image. It was a defence of the arts of the learned physician against quack and untrained doctors written in an entertaining style, presumably so that he could reach the largest audience possible.

The picture shows a poor fellow in his sick bed, being ministered to by a doctor, but also a well meaning goodwife who is trying to help but is being restrained by an angel of mercy. She is wearing a petticoat, waistcoat, long apron, ruff collar and a wide brimmed hat over a linen coif. The doctor in a gown, cap and ruff and the ill fellow in his shirt and night cap.

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 08.39.39

Here is a closer image of the woman. I’m still not completely sure what she is wearing on her upper half. Perhaps her apron reaches to her chin and she has tucked it under her stiffened bodies? There is a lovely poem on the facing page which represents the busy body trying to take over:

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 08.40.02Loe here a woman comes in charitie
To see the sicke, and brings her remedie.
You’ve got some grievous cold, alas! (quoth she)
It lies sore in your bones, no part is free.
His pulse is weake, his vrine’s colour’d high,
His nose is sharpe, his nostrills wide, he’le die.
They talke of Rubarb, Sene, and Agaricke,
Of Cassia, Tamarinds, and many a tricke,
Tush, give the Doctors leave to talk, I’ve brought
pepper posset, nothing can be bought
Like this i’th ‘Pothecaries shoppe; alone
It cures the Fever, Strangury, and Stone;
If not there’s danger, yet before all faile,
Ile have a Cawdle for you, or Mace-ale:
And Ile prepare my Antimoniall Cuppe
To cure your Maladie, one little suppe
Will doe more good, and is of more desert
Then all Hippocrates, or Galens Art.
But loe an Angell gently puts her backe,
Lest such erroneous course the sicke doe wracke,
Leads the Physitian, and guides his hand,
Approves his Art, and what he doth must stand.
Tis Art that God allowes, by him ’tis blest
To cure diseases, leave then all the rest. 

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