The Rev. John Wesley's empirical medicine in the 18th century
James G. DONAT
The Rev. John Wesley, M.A. (1703-1791) is commonly remembered as the founder of the Methodist Church. Largely forgotten is the fact that he considered the medical treatment of his followers to be part of his pastoral responsibility. He read widely from the medical works available to him from the 17th and 18th centuries, and selectively followed contemporary trends in the field. He did not do surgery, and passed on complicated cases to physicians. His first medical publication, in 1745-46, was entitled, A Collection of Receits for the Use of the Poor and appeared in 3 editions. This was expanded into Primitive Physick, or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases, which, in the years 1747-91, was continually revised through 23 editions, containing what Wesley thought to be the best available remedies gathered from a variety of sources, many of which he himself tried. This paper is mainly about the latter of these two works.
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Montreal, Quebec, Canada