Edward Clarke to

Edward Clarke snr

January 1672

deare father

I was taken ill on Saturday last, and on Sundaie I tooke my bed. My distemper proves to be the small-pox1, but I prayse great God that they doe begin to come out verie well; Sir George Ent2 is my phisitian, and he says that my condition is verie hopefull; I desyre you not to trouble yourselfe, for I hope in the Lord, I shall doe verie well; this day in the morninge the small pox appeared upon me, and I am much encouraged by the care and love which my friends show towards me; I have beene infinitely oblidged to Mr Jewell and his wyfe, for they have in a high degree manifested their care and love towards me; Mr Jewell hath supplyd me with money for the present, for the money wch I received of you last was almost expended when I fell ill which forced me to take up some money of Mr Jewell and I must desyre you to returne me some money with all speede, for this sickness is verie chargeable, and I am unwillinge to be oblidged to my friends to borrowe; I will gett my friends to write to you by every post; I would have written myselfe, but that my condition is such that it would not without an iminent danger permit me to doe it; Sr I desyre yr prayers for me, and yr blessings upon me, whoe am, Yr obedt: Sonne

Ed Clarke

My reall love to my sisters and brothers Mr Jewell and his wyfe beinge here present thier humble service to you and to Mr Venner and his wyfe

  1. Smallpox was thought to be the most deadly if pocks “struck in”, and it was important to keep warm in bed to push the spots out. Violent pains in the back and head were experienced together with loss of hair and loss of sight. In the seventeenth century, recovery from an acute illness included survival as well as the relief of symptoms. A physician took the medical history of the patient and his “habit” - whether plethoric, sanguine, choleric or melancholy. The examination of the patient was linked to inspection and palpation, particularly to find out if the patient was hot, cold, moist or dry. The site of pain was thought to relate to what was underneath. Excrements were scrutinised and a careful plan was made to promote all forms of excretion. Quinine was a new specific remedy which worked without evacuation and doctors of the time found it difficult to explain its success. A physician received fees for attendance, but an apothecary could only charge for providing medicine.

  2. Sir George Ent was born in 1604 at Sandwich and died 13 October 1689, being buried at St Lawrence Jewry. He was the son of Josias Ent, a Flemish merchant living in London, and attended the Dutch church at Austin Friars; he had a MD from Cambridge and Padua and had also studied in Rotterdam. By 1645 with Scarborough he was one of a group of young Londoners meeting to discuss the new philosophy in Dr Jonathan Goddard's rooms in Wood Street and later at Gresham College, in which anatomy and physics played major roles. In 1646 he married Sarah Meverall, daughter of the president of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 1651 was in charge of the library. The Royal College allied with Cromwell and gained advantage over the Apothecaries. At the Restoration the College obtained the Crown's favour which resulted in a Charter in 1663. The apothecaries agreed not to practise physic as long as they could keep shops and administer medicine if a physician was not available. In 1665 Charles 11 attended Ent's anatomy lessons and knighted him, and in 1670 he was President of the Royal College.