Between the page on Green Purges and the next recipe on Ferdinand’s Balsam, the calligraphy or penmanship of the vade mecum changed.    At first I thought this was simply due to Osborn getting a new quill pen.  But comparing the “craftsmanship” of the writings on these two pages, it was quite obvious that not only was the writing style much more eloquent with its curves loops and any other typical cursive a writer adds out of habit in order to accent his work, the type of pen being used was different.  Osborn’s pen tended to smudge quite a bit, a result of dipping it in the well and then not clearing the split feather tip of the occasional extra drop.   We can imagine Osborn doing this writing of his under both decent and poor light.  There are some sections that were obviously done on messy days, when the ink was spilled or when water accidentally came in contact with the fine linen paper he was using.

The nature of ink at this time was that is was usually an iron-based tannic acid blend.  This did not change when the new penmanship began to appear in the vade mecum, so the change in writers may not have been made so long following his completion of the book up until this point. 

The sequence of the contents for the book also suggests Osborn had reached his goal with this work once he completed the recipe on Green Purges.  He began with some fairly important and serious diseases, and then progressed to their associated problems due to an ability of disease to wander from one part of the body to the next, and then he goes into the more esoteric, metaphysical types of conditions, the feminine disorders, which he would rather take care of than see a midwife treat, progressing through these conditions from the most physical and humoural of conditions to the least humoural, most metaphysical, temperament-based, personality or entia derived types of diseases that could only be treated as a disorder of “melancholy” and “the passions”. 



This vade mecum follows this grand philosophical finish with a few basic recipes of patent or proprietary medicine, which is probably not the climax Osborn had planned for with this work.




The most noticeable differences are with the letters:  C, D, and G.  The S and T do appear to be fairly similar.  However, also compare a word that both of these pages share — “Manna”. 

These recipes with this new penmanship are Dr. Ferdinand’s Balsam for Consumption, Dr. Hill’s Balsam for Pleurisy, and a treatment for a special type of seizures.  The first recipe is for a locally popular treatment.  It appears way out of context with the overall vade mecum, and is written in the aftermath of completing this writing.  Dr. Hill’s Balsam is apparently another fairly locally popular remedy.  The third recipe has a special history worth mentioning, with some matching coverage to appear elsewhere in these blogs.




In this above recipe, the ‘D’ in “Decoct” is very different from the ‘D’ in “Dangers” on the first page above.  The instruction ‘1X Gr 3 times a Day’ is very different from any Osborn used earlier in his manuscript.  This could be ‘1x’ for one time, or ‘IX’ for the number 9.  Either way, Osborn used Latin nomenclature for how much and how often (his ‘i’ and ‘ss’ abbreviations for 1 and one-half, for example).  This above recipe has the Sal Ammoniac referred to for this dose, the ens veneris related treatment which Osborn used for menstrual related problems.  This is again a use of it for problems related to emotions and passion.

“Foment the part affected” refers to a fairly well-localized form of Epilepsy–Jacksonian seizures–a type of seizure in which the episode begins in one part of the brain, and migrates across the brain’s surface (cortex) to nearby parts, causing the energy to migrate and the symptoms to change as well.  Jacksonianism is when the muscle of a finger twitches, for example, followed by the wrist and then arm and then upper arm near the shoulder.  Alternatively, one might feel a tingling in one spot, which then moves across the cortex to the next adjacent region, causing a feeling or sense to migrate along the surface of the body.  (See illustrations at end of this blog).

It ends up that the Osborns met up with someone who later developed seizures in his later professional years–Dr. Bartow White, a doctor who removed to Fishkill around 1800 and who trained one of Cornelius Osborn’s sons to become a doctor.  During the middle of his professional years, he served as a congressman of New York.   At about the age of 55 or 60, he developed seizures and had to resign from work.  This recipe could have been written by one of Osborn’s sons, especially Thomas.  Being the youngest of the three of Cornelius’s sons who became physicians, he received the best medical training, and prior to that the best schooling in such things as language, penmanship and writing.  Even more importantly, Thomas received his training in medicine from Bartow White, unlike his older brothers james, who received his training from his father, and Peter, who received his training post-War by serving in the local foot soldier infantry as a Surgeon’s Mate.

The above images from: