A medicine for the times

Fuller Summary:
“A Medicine for the time or an antidote against faction” details seven cures for common ailments during the 1600s in London. Thomas Jordan, claiming to be an “honest physician” (Jordan, A4), offers cures based on his medical opinions. In each section, Jordan points to his medical authority while attempting to institute remedies for causes of societal disorder.

The first two sections outline cures for one who is possessed by evil spirits. Jordan splits the treatments into two sections, one for a possessed male and the other for a possessed female. This separation, as well as the cures itself, highlight the differences between men and women as well as their respective status in society. A central component in a woman’s cure is recognizing that they are the “weaker vessel” (Jordan, A3). For this reason, Jordan clarifies that, “when he hath taken his cure” (Jordan, A3), then she, his wife, can be treated for her possession. Therefore, ridding a bewitched woman of evils rests on curing her husband. Jordan attributes a male’s possession to his mental status, or “malady of the mind” (Jordan, A1). A man’s remedy revolves around the ability to clear his head of those evils. On the other hand, a woman must refrain from certain physical activities such as sitting “crosse-leg’d” (Jordan, A3). Jordan’s final statement for curing a male, in which he states that bleeding, a common medical treatment, is unnecessary, begs the question of whether he saw possession as a real illness for males.

Jordan’s next section explains curing the King’s Evil. He suggests that “obedience” (Jordan, A3), can “purge the brain” (Jordan, A3). By complying with all of his suggestions, one is prevented from being troubled by the King’s Evil. He does not call on the physical symptoms but instead stresses the mental components of these afflictions. The next section, Jordan recognizes the significance of the crosse and peoples’ predisposition to worship it. The cure for one “troubled with Crosses” (Jordan, A4) is to simply avoid it. In other cases when one’s name is Crosse, Jordan suggests changing the name to “Overthwart” (Jordan, A4), but exceptions do exist. Jordan continuously refers to his status as an “honest Physician” (Jordan, A5), to bring authority and validity to his pamphlet and cures.

The fifth section handles one being “troubled with an Ovall-pate, a Round-head” (Jordan, A5). The term roundhead arose during the debates at Parliament regarding the Bishops Exclusion Bill, which proposed to oust Bishops from the House of Lords. Jordan’s suggestion is to change one’s appearance so as not to be associated with this group of people. This debate was central to the turmoil in society during the mid 1600’s.

The final two sections are a general advising to maintain an even-tempered state of mind. Jordan first classifies “Obstinacie” (Jordan, A5) as a disease. The advice Jordan offers is to monitor one’s worshipping habits and make conscious religious decisions. Lastly, Jordan offers “A Cure for his Impatience that is angry with me, for the expression of my Art” (Jordan, A6) to combat skepticism surrounding his work. He, once again, assures the reader of his status as a physician to avoid blame for possibly ineffective cures. Jordan explains that he is able to “take the oath of Supremacie” (Jordan, A6) thereby establishing his “love for the King, and all those that love him [the King]” (Jordan, A6). This inclusion of Jordan’s personal religious beliefs, along with his section on Roundheads, suggests that possession and religion were intertwined at the time and causing a societal upheaval. Jordan, using his seemingly self-appointed authority, teaches 17th century London how to “dispose of Offenders” (Jordan, A7) in his pamphlet in order to keep society in a calm state.

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