RUSH, BENJAMIN. 1745-1813. Autograph Letter Signed ("Benjn Rush"), and by Philip Syng Physick ("Philip S. Physick"), describing the conditions for treatment of Yellow Fever during the epidemic,

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Lot 168
RUSH, BENJAMIN. 1745-1813.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Benjn Rush"), and by Philip Syng Physick ("Philip S. Physick"), describing the conditions for treatment of Yellow Fever during the epidemic,

Sold for US$ 6,325 inc. premium
RUSH, BENJAMIN. 1745-1813.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Benjn Rush"), and by Philip Syng Physick ("Philip S. Physick"), describing the conditions for treatment of Yellow Fever during the epidemic, 2 pp, folio, [City Hospital, Philadelphia], August 29, 1799, separated at center fold, tears at edges of folds, dome toning.
Provenance: Irwin J. Pincus (his sale, Christie's New York, December 6, 2004, lot 242).

AN IMPORTANT LETTER WRITTEN AT THE HEIGHT OF THE 1799 YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC, Rush (and Physick) offer a defense of their prescriptions for treatment of Yellow Fever at the City Hospital. Responding to an inquiry (likely from the Board of Health) as to the "practice in the city hospital now in our care," Rush writes forcefully. "Such is the disparity in the violence of this disease, that medicines of the same force in all cases, would be as absurd as it would be to make clothes of the same size for all the inhabitants of our city ... We are bound by no System, not books, nor names, in our prescriptions, but according to the force of the disease, we adopt different remedies. While we prescribe powerful medicines in cases that require them, we are sometimes happy in using such as are mild by lenient means. We lament that remedies of the latter kind are not constantly indicated. It would be to trifle with human life ... to prescribe them in all cases...." He concludes imploring that the Board of Health take measures "as will dispose the poor to come to the hospital as soon as the first Symptoms of the disease are felt by them. They may be assured that their accomodations, comforts, and attendance, will be far superior to what persons of the same Condition in life, can obtain in private houses." Rush had come under fire for his treatment methods, which included blood-letting and purging, and as the Yellow Fever returned to the city in August 1799, he here defends his practice and the city hospital. Not recorded in Butterfield. "The first period of Rush and Physick's association ended with the last of the great yellow fever epidemics of the 1790s. During this period Rush's writings indicate that Physick, his junior by twenty-two years, was first his follower, then his friend and associate, and finally his equal." See George Sheldon, Rush and Physick: An Important Medical Friendship. Trans. Stud. Coll. Phys. Phila. 1961-1962, pp 28-38.
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