Fever-Powders are generally understood to be those originally prepared by the late Dr. Robert James, and by many still believed to be a certain remedy for fevers of every description. According to the recipe deposited in the records of Chancery (when Dr. James took out a patent for the sale of his powders), they consist of antimony calcined with a continued protracted heat, in a flat, unglazed earthen vessel, adding to it from time to time a sufficient quantity of any animal oil and salt, well dephlegmated; then boiling it in melted nitre for a considerable time, and separating the powder from the nitre, by dissolving it in water. - The chief intention in tins process, is to divest the antimony of its sulphur, by mixing it with some animal substance, to prevent its running into glass during the calcination.
When this once celebrated empiric first administered those powders, he usually added a small proportion of the red precipitate of mercury to each dose ; but he soon relinquished this practice, after observing that some patients were salivated by the use of his nostrum. Hence we find that he has conscientiously annexed the following clause at the end of his specification given into Chancery : "The dose of this medicine is uncertain; but, in general, thirty grains of the sntimonial, and one grain of the mercurial, is a moderate dose." Signed and sworn to by Robert James.
It is to be lamented that regular practitioners have sometimes deviated from the more rational path of medical science, and degraded themselves by following the numerous herd of quacks : nay, it is still more surprizing, that even intelligent physicians have often humoured their prejudiced patients, by prescribing those fever powders, of which the inventor himself had but an indifferent opinion. For it is a well-attested fact, that the Peruvian bark, and not the anti-monial powder, was the remedy to which the late Dr. James generally trusted in the cure of fevers. He gave his powders only to clear the stomach and bowels ; after ef-fecting that purpose, he poured in the bark as freely as the patient was able to swallow it; for he has repeatedly declared to Dr. Monro (see his Medical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, vol. i. p. 366, and foll.), that if there was a possibility of curing a fever, the bark was the remedy to be relied upon ; and, if the disease did not yield to the latter, he was convinced that it could not be removed by any other medicine. - However empirical this declaration must appear to every professional man possessing a moderate share of medical knowledge, yet it is amply sufficient to evince the fallacy of Dr. James's Fever-powders, which, from the nature of their ingredients, are so violent in their operation, that we trust no prudent person will in future purchase, or use, them without submitting his case to the discretion of an unbiassed and competent judge, "