Contemporary reaction to John Wesley's Primitive Physic: or, the case of Dr William Hawes examined

Madden, Deborah (2004) Contemporary reaction to John Wesley's Primitive Physic: or, the case of Dr William Hawes examined. Social History of Medicine, 17 (3). pp. 365-378. ISSN 0951-631X

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Abstract

In 1776, Dr William Hawes, physician to the London Dispensary and founder of the Royal Humane Society, made an Examination of the Revd Mr John Wesley's Primitive Physic. Hawes's Examination launched a bitter attack on Wesley's medical manual, which, under closer inspection, proved to be unwarranted and unjustified. This critique, however, prefigured much of the criticism made against Primitive Physic by nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholars. The widespread appeal of Primitive Physic, what Wesley regarded as its very strength, came to be regarded by many historians as having a populist and therefore limited application. The dismissal of Primitive Physic as a quasi-religious collection of ‘simple’ remedies, not worthy of serious intellectual attention, means that Wesley's careful deployment of scientific, medical, and theological knowledge has been largely ignored. This article seeks to demonstrate that Primitive Physic is of vital interest to the historian. This text can highlight the many points of contact and difference between Wesley's medical practice and that of established ‘Faculty’ physicians. Indeed, it is those areas of contact and difference that can illuminate how carefully sourced and ‘orthodox’ Primitive Physic really was.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Depositing User: Deborah Madden
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2012 16:56
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2012 11:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/37227
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