from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A particular ailment unknown to, and uncurable by, medical science
Man, how I remember those days - putting leeches on saddlesores to bring the swelling down, and suffering with terrible marthambles from the pickle juice in my bidon.
Our mommas always told us these things were evil (and now our wives do as well), because the candy is not hermetically/cryogenically/hygienically sealed and will no doubt give us rickets, scurvy, the marthambles, lockjaw and the blind staggers if we eat it.
All of this seems to confirm that a mountebank named Tuft, circa 1700, was indeed claiming to have discovered some new diseases that included the marthambles, the moon pall, and the strong fives.
Pending further information, I'm inclined to believe that that Copeman 1960's inclusion of marthambles to Tudor medical terminology was a mistake, perhaps in turn responsible for Dorothy Dunnett's use in
Patrick O'Brian also refers to the marthambles, the strong fives and the moon pall on page 30 of his book
Both Tuft's advertisement and Thompson's discussion assert that as of that time, "the marthambles" had NOT been a commonly-used term for more than a century.
(page 100), the marthambles is one of several nonexistent diseases invented by a Dr. Tufts in a pamphlet in order to sell his tonics and medicines.
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