The discovery of the origin, and progress of the mineral wells, at Cheltenham, will give the reader a general idea of the nature of the waters, and will greatly facilitate the plan of discriminating between them in the subsequent pages.
The discovery of purging saline water took place about a century ago. Mr Mason, proprietor of a field south of the Chelt, observed that it contained a spring of peculiar character, and that pidgeons flocked to the spot, to peck calcareous particles from the blue clay, for the digestion of their food. In the year 1718, he railed it in, and his successor, Captain Skill iconic, in the year 1738, erected an adjoining pump-room, with a dome over the well, ornamented with a pidgeon at each corner, and planted the trees of the upper and lower parades, that now form a towering shade against a vertical sun, and one of the most beautiful walks in the kingdom.
This Spa soon attracted the attention of medical men, who contributed by their writings, to bring the water into notice, but they differed considerably in their accounts of its impregnations. Dr. Short examining the different wells of Britain, in the year 1740, praised it highly, as an excellent purging chalybeate, taken in doses from one to three pints; and observed that soon after its establishment, it had been recommended by Doctors Baird and Greville. C. H. Senkenberg, from his experiments made at London in the year 1741, denied that it had any chalybeate properties. Dr. Lucas remarked, that it contained iron, which invigorated the habit, at the time it proved purgative; and that old men drank it by the quart. Dr. Rutty obtained 528 grains of solid matter from a gallon of water ; and observed that it contained sulphur, together with iron; and that the dose was from one to three or four pints.J Mr. Barker recommended its use in a prevailing pestilential constitution of the atmosphere.§ Dr. Fothergill analysed it, and called it a purging chalybeate, which emitted a slightly fetid smell of sulphur.... '
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