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Maxims for Good Health in the 1800s

by Sam Moore

Tags: Sam Moore, looking back, 1800s advertisements, good health, health in the 19th century, historic maxims,

Antique Drug Store  Sergey Galushko 
Photo courtesy  Sergey Galushko/

This poem appeared in an 1860 ad for the Redding & Bayless drug store in Clarksville, Texas.

Here are Medicines good for all human ills—
Blisters and Plasters, and Powders and Pills,
Tinctures, all made from the purest of Drugs,
And poisons for rats, dogs, roaches and bugs. 

Here are fine fancy Soaps of every grade,
Tooth-Powders and Paste, Ox-Marrow Pomade,
With fifty fine Oils, all good for the hair,
And the genuine Grease of the Bear. 

And as for Perfumes, why, the Ladies all own,
That Redding & Bayless keep the best of Cologne,
The whitest of Powder, that don't hurt the face,
With a little fine Rouge, all right in its place. 

For pimples, and wrinkles, and freckles, and tan,
Nothing has ever been discovered by man
Like that wonderful product of tropical bowers,
The popular 'Balm of a Thousand Flowers.' 

They have all sorts of Cholagogues, good for the shakes,
And their Ague Tonics most every one takes;
No poisonous medicines in them are found,
Yet they cure a man quick, and leave him quite sound.

Why should a man tremble and shiver and shake,
And rattle his bones till they are ready to break,
Then burn with the fever, and sweat like a stew,
When he knows what a bottle of medicine will do?

(Author’s note: A cholagogue, pronounced koh-luh-gawg, is a medicine that promotes the discharge of bile from the liver, and these potions were apparently quite popular back in the day, especially since they were most likely laced with a liberal portion of alcohol)

I found the following “Maxims from Dr. Hall’s Fun Better than Physic,” in a little “Collection of Valuable Information” that was put out by Furst and Bradley in 1878. (Furst and Bradley was the forerunner of the David Bradley Company of Sears, Roebuck & Co. fame.)