Farewell to the Gout

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FAREWELL TO THE GOUT. English, Country Dance Tune or Jig (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody appears in all four editions of London publisher John Young's Second Volume of the Dancing Master [1] (1718-1728), and in Walsh & Hare's Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (1719).

British poet and physician Richard Blackmore wrote in 1726 that Gout is "the grievous Calamity of the Great, the Rich and the most Easy in their Circumstances." It is a disease caused by a build up of uric acid which happens when the body breaks down purines - DNA building blocks that are particularly high in certain meats, shellfish and beer. A pain-relieving extract of the meadow crocus called colchicine, was so well known in the 18th century that (gouty) Ben Franklin wrote an entire treatise on it. One 17th century remedy goes:

Take cow dung, and seeth it in sweet Milk, and lay a plaister thereof to the Gout: Also the yolks of Eggs, womans Milk, Lynseed, and Saffron all together in a plaister asswageth the diseases of the Gout, and if you be disposed to break the skin, and to let the humor issue out (as by such means many a one is eased) you shall make a little plaister of black Sope, and Aqua vitae, which will blister it without pain: Also very hare old cheese cut and sodden in the broth of a gammon of Bacon, and afterwards stamped with a little of the broth, and made in manner of a plaister, is a singular remedy for the diseses of the Gout, and was first practised by Galen the Prince of all Phisitians.

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