This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Upon the whole, there is the strongest rea-fon to conclude, with Dr. Saunders, that the red bark is the true Peruvian bark, of the best quality, or in its highest perfection. It was probably the kind of bark first introduced into Europe, and which acquired so much reputation in the hands of Sydenham and Morton.
It is the sort still preferred by the Spaniards for their own use; and they are surprized at our preference of an inferiour kind. Whether it be, as Dr. Saunders first imagined, the bark of the trunk of full grown trees, the branches or young trees of which yield the pale bark; or whether the trees be different Spedes, or, at lead, varieties, does not seem accurately determined. The latter opinion is, perhaps, rendered the mod probable, by an observation in the third edition of Dr. Saunders pamphlet. He says, that' he has lately seen some exceeding good red bark imported by a Spanish merchant, a considerable part of which was as small as the quilled bark in common use, yet still preserved its redness in that form, approaching, however, to the colour of cinnamon. It was extremely resinous, and gave evident proofs of its being the quill of the larger red bark which was in the same chest." This idea seems to be confirmed by some curious remarks on the natural history of the cinchona, communicated by Dr. Simmons from the papers of the late M. Juffieu, and subjoined to the same edition.
This writer makes several different species of bark, which may, however, be reduced to two. The first includes the red, the yellow, and the knotty barks, all of which have very smooth leaves, purplish flowers, with a bark that is bitter to the taste, and more or less coloured. Of these, the red is held in the highest estima-tion, and was that first imported into Europe, but is now become exceeding scarce, so that its place has been supplied by the yellow and knotty kinds. The second species includes the white barks, of which there are four varieties. All these have broad hairy leaves, and red, very odoriferous flowers, furnished with hairs on their inside. In two of these varieties the inner layers of bark are of a reddish hue. These have a slightly bitter taste, and somewhat of a febrifuge quality, which, however, they soon lose. The bark of the other two is quite white and insipid.
There have been lately discovered in the province of Santa-Fe, four degrees and a half north of the equator, two kinds of cinchona, one of which appears to be the same with the red bark of Peru; the other, one of the white species. This is a fortunate discovery, as it points out a new store of this most valuable medicine, when the ancient ones shall be ex-hausted. We shall see in the next article, that our own settlements are not unprovided with a plant of the same genus, and similar virtues.
* Cinchona carribaea Linn. Cinchona Ja-maicenfis Dris. Wright, Phil. Trans. vol. lxxvii. part ii. This is a species of the Jesuit's bark, produced in Jamaica and the Carribee islands, of which an accurate description, with an account of its virtues, has been published by Dr. Wright in the volume of Philosophical Trans-actions above referred to; and some additions are made to this, in a letter from the same physician to Dr. Duncan. Med. Comment. vol. v. p. 398.
This tree, called in Jamaica the sea-side beech, grows to the height of from twenty to forty or fifty feet. The outer bark of the large trees is white, surrowed, and very thick. This is inert, and may be knocked off from the inner. This latter is of a dark brown colour. Its flavour is at first sweet, with a mixture of the taste of horseradish and of the eastern aromatics; but when swallowed, it has that very bitterness and astringency which characterize the Peruvian bark. It yields its virtues both to cold and warm water; and a decoction of half an ounce of it boiled in a quart of water to the consump-tion of a pint, proved as strong as a decoction of an ounce and a half of the true bark. With the addition of orange peel it makes an elegant and grateful bitter tincture.
Its medicinal powers have been frequently tried by Dr. Wright, and it was found very efficacious in the dangerous remittent fevers of the Weft Indies, and also in nervous fevers. It has been administered in London in an intermittent, and effected a cure as completely as the Peruvian bark. From these accounts, we may hope that it will prove an useful and efficacious substitute for the cinchona of Peru, if ever the supplies of this medicine should fail.