by John McGivering)
Alcohol is broken down in the liver. During Kipling's time in India congestion of the liver or too much blood in it with distension of part or all of the organ, was thought to be caused by overcrowding, sedentary lifestyle, sleeping during the daytime, too much food and drink, rich and hotly seasoned food, and stimulating liquors. In the tropics the principal cause was thought to be the climate - over exposure to the sun and excess sweating. Symptoms included depression of spirits, poor appetite, headache, nausea, irregular bowel motions and a sense of fullness in the right side.Beer Dr. Gillian Sheehan writes: I don't know if beer could be called a stimulating liquor. But Pagett blamed the beer. Possibly this was just showing his ignorance when he should have blamed the sun or the heat. [G. S.]
Cholera Morbus was also called English Cholera and occurred in England in the autumn after a hot summer and 'generally found to be more severe and universal when the different varieties of plum fruit are in abundance'. It was thought to be due to eating too much fruit that was not fully ripe. It was known that it was not contagious.seven years British children in India were usually sent home for education, and for their health, at the age of six or seven. See Something of Myself Chapters I and II, and “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” (Wee Willie Winkie).
It was also thought to be caused by 'the sudden application of cold to the heated body; the presence of crude indigestible matter in the stomach such as the skins of gooseberries, cherries and other fruits, exposure to the cool night air especially after a sultry day, or anything that disturbs the biliary system'.
Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, griping pains, copious biliary evacuations, followed by vomiting of bile. Later on spasmodic contractions of the muscles and there is great heat and thirst and weak fluttering pulse. 'When very severe the surface becomes cold, the strength rapidly sinks, a clammy sweat breaks out, the face assumes a cadaverous dusky hue, hiccough supervenes, and a fatal collapse terminates the brief struggle.'
[Dictionary of Medical and Surgical Knowledge, Houlston and Wright, London, 1869]