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Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana : or, Bartlet’s Gentleman Farrier’s repository, of Elegant and Approved Remedies for the Diseases of Horses, by J. Bartlet

Book #76: Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana : or, Bartlet’s Gentleman farrier’s repository, of elegant and approved remedies for the diseases of horses, by J. Bartlet (1766).

John Bartlet, alongside other writers in the Cherry Collection such as Henry Bracken, was a popular farriery writer in the 18th century. Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana alongside his other works such as The Gentleman’s Farriery went through several editions.

The following piece was written by University of Guelph experiential learning student Devon Sherwood about Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana:

“John Bartlet expresses a more casual view on veterinary medicine in his 1766 Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana – the advice and information offered within are supposed to be both “entertaining and useful.”[1] Despite the relaxed nature of his writing, Bartlet was indeed a medical man, and his influences included the Gibson and Bracken model, and the work of Étienne Lafosse, both of which are referenced in his work.[2] Because the author expects both amateurs and professionals to use his text, he includes a basic description of the anatomy of the horse and insists that basic farriery lacks an understanding of the specific ingredients used in popular medications.[3] He acknowledges his own limited understanding of certain diseases, yet at the same time he impresses upon the reader the dangers of adding ingredients with unknown effects to poultices and other treatments.[4]

The author’s casual approach to veterinary medicine extends as well to his lack of concern with describing the medicinal effects of common medicines – he either assumes that the effects are well known, or he too is unsure of their exact impacts on the body. He does, however, discuss the mechanics of treatment, such as the use of bandages (for compression) and feathers (to apply small amounts of caustics, etc., to wounds).[5]

Despite such logical views on disease, Bartlet gives credence to the theory of humours, as well as what can only be described as old wives tales: “a live pidgeon [sic] […] cut in two” and applied to a snake bite.[6] Non-specific periods of time, i.e. “of the moon,” are used, as opposed to days or weeks.[7] Cure-alls, so despised by Smith and his contemporaries, are also found in Bartlet’s text.[8]

Despite these shortcomings, Bartlet’s most important addition is perhaps the suggestion that both amateurs and professionals carry a medical “kit,” including antimonial wine or beer, tincture of opium, sugar of lead and gentian root.[9] This list encouraged preparedness as the trademark of a good veterinary practitioner.”

[1] J. Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia Bartleiana: or, Bartlet’s Gentleman Farrier’s Repository, of Elegant and Approved Remedies for the Diseases of Horses, 2nd ed. (Eton: T. Pote, 1766), ix.

[2] James Millar, “Bartlet,” in Encyclopædia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of arts, sciences, and miscellaneous literature, vol. 8, 4th ed. (Edinburgh: Andrew Bell, 1810), 428.

[3] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 10.

[4] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 16.

[5] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 58, 63, 94.

[6] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 123, 133, 140, 240.

[7] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 134.

[8] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 251.

[9] Bartlet, Pharmacopoeia, 268-9.

Unfortunately, a 1766 edition of this work has not been digitized yet. Explore a 1773 edition of this work here.