vermin on the person


We’ve never had an outbreak of mites at the gimcrack – head lice, yes (nursemyra’s method of eradication – shave the patient’s head, it adds to the asylum atmosphere I like to work in).

Francis Galton favoured the Tartar cure for body lice 

“For vermin on the person take half an ounce of mercury, mix with old tea leaves previously reduced to a paste by mastication, add more saliva. Bruise and stir so the mercury forms little balls as fine as dust. Infuse into a string of cotton, hang around your neck. The lice will bite the bait, swell, become red and die. Renew salutary necklace once a month.”

He also had an interesting quick fix for blisters

“rub blister with spirits mixed with tallow dropped from a candle into palm of hand. Captain Cochrane used this on his pedestrian tour. Teachers of gymnastics also endorse it.”


I’ve not yet considered a holiday spent climbing into rarified air. If it’s on your agenda please don’t take the family cat with you. 

“the effects of rarified air are sometimes fatal to stout plethoric people. Cats are also unable to endure it. Numerous trials have been made with these unhappy feline barometers.”


He also has cures for haemorrhages and snake bite. He describes them as barbarous and they involve things like gunpowder, boiling grease and white hot iron ramrods……

Francis Galton was no pussy.


Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 9:22 am  Comments (33)  

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33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. coincidence…just got done reading a Snopes article about the american tradition of treating head lice with a gasoline bath (bottom line? bad idea). damn vermin.

  2. Gasoline? I thought it was kerosene….

    • Hmmmm, we don’t have to tell anyone you said that Nurse.

      White hot ramrods… why do I get the feeling I know where they were meant for

  3. eating or wearing mercury is a great way to kill lice! and brain cells….

  4. My daughter’s elementary school gets head lice infestations once or twice a year which I think is ghastly. Mrs. Wife has to check her head for the critters. It sounds like something medieval that should have been eradicated by now. We live in Little House on the New Jersey Prairie.

  5. The dear man’s cures are more likely to kill you than do any good. I think I’ll stick with 21st century medicine. At least we won’t know if it kills us until after we’re dead.

  6. You’re right, Francis Galton was no pussy; he was a crazy lunatic by todays standards!

  7. I think I prefer it when you focus on bottoms. Can we go back to Sexy Assistant Mimi please? Oh, and on Gorilla Banana’s latest there’s a girl being spanked who looks, er, remarkably like you. Might you elucidate?

    • strangely enough, the young lady in question is wearing a pair of panties the same as a pair I own.

      though she doesn’t have the fire engine red streaks in her hair so it can’t be me…..

  8. I like your cure for head lice!!

    • Hi Dina, welcome to the Gimcrack. I’m really enjoying your blog. As well as commenting I sent you an email, did you get it?

  9. I’m sure that mercury poisoning is very effective at killing pests… And anything else. LOL! I can picture all he shaved heads in the asylum!!!

  10. Working for a school, we get lice here too! Unfortunately we cannot shave heads – so we send them home with a notice for Mum and Dad to deal with it. I think I prefer modern medicine to lunatic medicine. Lol!

    • when my youngest was at primary school they had a terrible infestation. It went on for months, I’m sure some parents were sending kids back to school before the lice were dead. All 20 kids in the class had to be fumigated over and over again.

      I’m so glad to be past that stage of my life

  11. “White hot iron ramrods” …… OK, I’m outta here ……. whooooooosh

  12. where is that last photo from? I have a postcard from way back with a crazy man cycling in a wheel like a hamster…. was that Farncis ?

    • No it’s not Francis, can’t remember where I found that image. Is it the same as the one you remember?

  13. so if a cat gets lice, you have to give it a brazilian wax, but you can’t take a clean-shaven cat with you mountain-climbing. ok. check.

    • Has anyone ever survived giving a cat a Brazilian wax?

  14. Is that Tag Larkin’s grandpa in that last picture? Fran Galton? Tag Larkin? A connection, perhaps?

  15. Apparently, there are more cells belonging to synergistic and parasitic bacteria in and on one’s body than there are cells of the host’s body, itself.

    Curious, don’t you think?

    • very curious

      • but the human cells take up more volume… them little critters have much simpler composition!

  16. I am filled with wonder that the human race has survived so far with the medical treatments our ancestors were given.

  17. Yikes. Wonder what his cure for genital warts was…?

  18. Tried the tartar cure several times but it didn’t work…oh wait, it says mastICation. Never Mind.

  19. Interesting Nurse but even reading the word Lice on screen makes me squirm

  20. Critters in the hair …. gah! I’m wondering how barbaric and uninformed all of our current medical treatments will seem in another 50 years …!

  21. We played with mercury when I was a kid, and have suffered no BARK BARK BARK BARK ill effects.

  22. No pussy indeed.

    There aren’t enough cures these days which include gunpowder, boiling grease and white hot iron ramrods.

    Doctors would rather take the easy way out and just prescribe some pill. Where’s the fun in that?

  23. depends on how mind altering the pill is, Ram

    • True…have a great weekend nursemyra!

      • hey thanks for dropping by Don.

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