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Welcome to all my new readers, thanks to the unexpected success of my previous post! Thank you for your comments and I hope you enjoy what you find here.

There were obviously no blogs in the eighteenth century, but there were still ways of obtaining information. Take the following two letters, found in the miscellaneous papers of Sir John Evelyn of Wotton, a British politician and grandson of the famous diarist:

Moorgate Street, Sept 17 1747


Upon reading your advertisements of to day I

there in found an advertisement for a receipt for one

who hav lost their speech by a cold in which case

I was in my self not long ago and after trying a

great many things the following was the only restoring

medicine that I met with and now I can speake as well

as ever I could in my life. Take two or three handfulls

of bran put it into 3 pints of spring water let it

boil gently till there is near a pint consumed then

strain it of and add some figge sliced with a penny

worth of stick liquorish sliced or minced then boil it

up together strain it off making it a constant drink

till it performe the cure which if its taker affects

will be after drinking about two quarts. So wishing

the person may find the same benefit as did your

and the Publicke Friend

and servant

Another letter in a different hand:

Sept the 15th 1747


Observing in the daily advertisements

of this day, an advertisement, desiring

that if any person, who had lost their

voice by cold, so as to be reduced to

whisper, had found relief by any method

or medicine, they were desired to send

the prescription to you.

A person who had lost their voice

for 4 months, so as to whisper only,

was cured by the following remedy.

Barbados tar, dropped into powder of

liquorice, begun with five drops, &

increased it, by one at a time to ten,

and took that quantity twice a day,

morning & night, washing it down, some

times with a little hysop, & sometimes

with penyroyal water, sweetened with

syrrop of capilare, if it should heat

to much, as in some constitutions it may

it must be left of, it is a slow remedy

but if any can be cal’d sure it may

the person cur’d, had more properly an

extinction of voice then hoarseness, for

they could not form a sound higher

then the softest whisper, & after about

three months use of the above medicine

had the voice perfectly restored, of a

sudden, & tho subject to illness of the

lungs never lost it afterwards.

Upon the truth of this you may depend.


These letters were with a collection of other remedies and physician’s prescriptions, and it can be assumed that Sir John or one of his family had lost his own voice and had advertised in a newspaper or pamphlet to see if anyone could recommend a cure. It’s interesting that they both contain liquorice, which is still used today in commercial cough syrups.

Source: British Library 78529. Evelyn Papers. Vol. CCCLXII.

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