« PreviousContinue »
56, 203, 312, 473
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE COMPARATIVE VIRTUES OF MINERAL WATERS.*
How many of our suffering fellow-creatures are at the present moment seeking relief, if not a permanent cure, at the various mineral springs of Germany, France, and Great Britain? Few understand and appreciate the value of these great therapeutic gifts of nature more than the English. They know the comparative virtues of alkaline and saline sources of different degrees of strength, and they are perhaps more than any other civilised nation afflicted with complaints in the treatment of which mineral waters are peculiarly efficacious. They have at least many have-the means of emigration and selection, and they know and admit that change of air and scene, which the French express by the circumlocutory phrase "les convenances hygiéniques du séjour," play an important part in the good done. The mere hypochondriac will not recover more rapidly at Baden-Baden than at Neris, or at Homburg than Niederbrunn, and where many mineral waters possess pretty nearly the same virtues, it is obvious that, to the consumptive or the gouty, the question of conveniences of climate, scenery, and even predilection, may all be legitimately considered in selecting a site. The importance, however, of such a selection cannot be over-estimated. A celebrated French physician, Bordeu, used to say, "I look upon all chronic maladies which are not benefited by the use of mineral waters as incurable."
There can be no question that, at the present moment, the spas of Germany carry the palm alike for the efficacy of their mineral waters, the beauty of their sites, the pleasures and conveniences (with the exception of beds: "en Allemagne," said a witty Frenchman, M. Adolphe Joanne, "le lit n'existe pas") of residence, and the admirable organisation of the public establishments.
The spas of Aix-la-Chapelle enjoyed for a great length of time a celebrity which eclipsed all others. Indifference to the comforts and conveniences of visitors, both in the private and public establishments, the absence of crowned heads from the old city of Charlemagne, and the uncertainty of vogue and fashion, combined to cause their being supplanted in modern times by more favoured sites. Yet the spring called that of the Emperor, taken as a type, is one of the richest in sulphur and soda that is known. From Liebig's analysis a quart contains 0.009 grammes of sulphuret of sodium, 2.639 of chloride of sodium, and 0.004
• Guide Pratique du Médecin et du Malade aux Eaux Minérales de France et de l'Etranger et aux Bains de Mer, suivi d'une Etude sur l'Hydrothérapie et d'un Traité Thérapeutique des Maladies pour lesquelles on conseille les Eaux. Par le Docteur Constantin James.
Sept.-VOL. CXI. NO. CCCCXLI.
of bromure and alkaline iodurets. Unfortunately, the sulphuret is exceedingly volatile. These waters are used chiefly externally, but in either way they possess remarkable energy, exciting a reaction which assumes all the characters of a thermal fever. Hence the waters of Aix-laChapelle are mainly useful in affections of the skin; but even in the cure of these particular complaints they are probably not so potent as the springs at Barèges. They are also useful in certain forms of rheumatism and gout, and in many other complaints. The fashion of the place is to aid their action by the application of cupping-glasses-an inconvenient practice, to say the least of it. Great efforts have been made in modern times, by the erection of a new Kurhaus and greater attention to visitors, to restore the prestige of Aix-la-Chapelle, which is pleasantly situated, easily reached, and is full of historical monuments and reminiscences, not to mention several quaint legends that are attached to the place; and it is not impossible that the waters which supplied the old Roman baths, the vast piscina that was required to meet the capacious idea of a Charlemagne, and the so-called "marble bath," in which Napoleon the Great used to delight, may be once more restored to the favour of the great and the titled, as well as to that of the more humble afflicted.
There are thermal and sulphureous waters of similar efficacy to those of Aix-la-Chapelle in the neighbouring village of Borcette, and as the expenses are much less than in the city, they are resorted to by those to whom expense is a consideration oftentimes as important almost as the recovery of health.
The baths at Kreutznach on the Nahe are in reality only accessories to the more important operations carried on there of extracting the salts from the mineral waters. The waters are acrid, saline, and bitter, and to many nauseating. In point of composition they resemble closely those of Soden, Homburg, and Nauheim, only they contain more iodine and bromine. Hence their great efficacy in the treatment of scrofulous complaints. Their activity is considerably increased by adding the Mutterlauge, or residue of the water evaporated to obtain the salt. They are heated after the admirable system called that of Schwarz. The action of the baths is enhanced by the simultaneous use of the waters internally, but the treatment is very trying, being attended by headaches, fever, sleeplessness, sore eyes, and even sickness. M. Prieger, the local Æsculapius, superintends the crisis. Kreutznach is described by Dr. C. James as a sufficiently agreeable place of residence, but somewhat "serious." The great energy of the waters and the class of maladies to which they are most beneficial would, we should fancy, cause the patients to court retirement. Scrofulous complaints are not fashionable the very word is whispered, and therefore no one goes to Kreutznach; yet is the thermal establishment first-rate, and the number of new buildings attest that those sources are no less favourable to the prosperity of the country than they are to the health of patients. They are not, however, strange to say, even alluded to in the third edition of Edwin Lee's "Baths of France, Central Germany, and Switzerland."
Ems is among the watering-places of the Rhine most in vogue in the present day. The road, or rather walk, which unites it to Coblentz, the pretty valley which it traverses, the little river whose banks it follows,