King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Parkinson of the disease

The way to health

Broadside entitled, The way to health, with an image of James Parkinson in the middleTop of broadside entitled, The way to health, with an image of James Parkinson in the middle

The sample image reproduced here (available to view in full as a PDF) is a broadside comprising extracts from Parkinson’s didactic address, The villager’s friend and physician (1800).

It concentrates on the initial sections of The villager’s friend, concerning ‘Exercise and labour’, ‘Drunkenness’, ‘Food and spiceries’, ‘Recreations’, ‘Bathing’, ‘Education of children’, ‘Reading’ and ‘Changes in temperature.’

Like Medical admonitions, (featured in the first section of this online exhibition), and which appeared just before The villager’s friend, The way to health is concerned with the public’s health and wellbeing. The sheet is addressed to those of modest means, who live and work in rural and semi-rural settings. It deals with many of the medical conditions included in The villager’s friend, including croup, measles, smallpox, quinsy, worms, burns and scalds, teething, wounds, cancer and colds.

This sheet reflects Parkinson’s wide reading outside medicine, and his concern with the literary quality of his work. It is interlaced with quotations from 18th century physician-poets, such as John Armstrong and Nathaniel Cotton. The broadsheet reflects its poetic content in lines adapted from Book 4 of Armstrong’s The art of preserving health (1744). This 1,700-line poem is divided into sections devoted to air, diet, exercise and the passions. It is a didactic text on the art of good health and living, which was issued in multiple editions over the succeeding century.

The way to health assumes the rustic and homely stance of Armstrong’s poem, the image reproduced here showing a man addressing a small group of people smoking and drinking outside an alehouse. The image is almost certainly that of Parkinson himself, ‘admonishing’ the populace of his native semi-rural Hoxton.

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The image shown here is displayed under a Creative Commons licence and is courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.

James Parkinson. The way to health: extracted from ‘The villager’s friend and physician’. London: C Whittingham for HD symonds [1802] Wellcome Library, London

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