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May 21st 1887

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Mother Seigal’s Curative Syrup

Under the title of “What is this disease that is coming upon us?”  there was a quarter page advertisement in the Blairgowrie Advertiser in March 1887. The substance of the advertisement was sufficiently arresting to make sure it was widely read.

“Like a thief in the night it steals upon us unawares. Many persons have pains about the chest and sides and sometimes in the back. They feel dull and sleepy; the mouth has a bad taste especially in the morning. A sort of sticky slime collects about the teeth. The appetite is poor. The afflicted one feels tired all the while, he becomes nervous and irritable and has evil forebodings. There is a giddiness, a sort of whirling sensation in the head when rising up suddenly. The bowels become costive; the skin is dry and hot at times; the blood becomes thick and stagnant; the whites of the eyes become tinged with yellow. The vision becomes impaired with spots before the eyes; there is a feeling of great prostration and weakness. It is thought that nearly half our population has this disease in some of its various forms.”  What is this disease which sounds like a massive hangover? The advertisement tells all. “The disease is Dyspepsia or Indigestion for which Seigal’s Curative Syrup is a certain remedy.” 

The frequency and intensity of indigestion must have been high in the Blairgowrie area for these large advertisements appeared throughout the year with variations on the same theme.

“Why am I so miserable?”  asks the unknown sufferer on May 21st. “Why so weak and languid? Why such heartburn and pain in the stomach, such acidity and such an unpleasant taste in the mouth? Why is the mind so frequently irritable, desponding, melancholy and dejected? Why does one feel often under the apprehension of some imaginary danger and start at any unexpected noise, becoming agitated as though some great calamity was impending?…….”  The catalogue of doleful rhetorical questions continues until at last the good news is revealed. “Never in the history of medical discoveries, evidenced by a dozen years thorough test, has there been found a remedy for Indigestion so speedy, so sure and so surprising in its results as Mother Seigal’s Curative Syrup.” 

But of course the outstanding properties of Mother Seigal’s Curative Syrup were known far beyond the boundaries of Blairgowrie. There was a communication headed quite simply. “A woman from Austria,”  telling the touching story of a little girl almost at death’s door until she was able to try this wonderful nostrum. “Today she adds her gratitude to mine for God’s mercies and Seigal’s Syrup.”  “Pawning a pair of trousers for medicine,”  relates another heart-warming tale of James Thomas who started working in the coal mines at the age of twelve to support his widowed mother. Unfortunately he broke down through the effects of indigestion and could no longer work. By the time his mother had heard of Seigal’s there was no money left in the household. Being a reasonable woman she did what any other mother would have done, she pawned his trousers for two bottles of Mother Seigal’s Curative Syrup. The rest may be imagined. “His mother is in raptures and can talk of nothing else but this marvellous cure.” 

A slightly new slant was given in “The Gamekeeper’s Story”  in which a visitor quizzes the incredibly healthy looking gamekeeper. We pick up the story after the introduction of Seigal’s. “You had no more choking, then?”  said the visitor.

“No Sir, not after that. The fluttering of the heart troubled me no more and the yellow went out of my eyes and skin; to put it short, Sir, after taking two bottles of Mother Seigal’s Syrup I got as well as I ever got in my life. If I hadn’t seen that account of it in the paper and been led to use it, as certain as I talk to you now, Sir, I believe that I should have been under the sod months and months ago.” 

Still breaking new ground, the advertisements become almost philosophical. “Poison in the Ashes,”  proclaims the headline. “Many people believe that nature has a remedy for every disease. So many and so terrible are the ills of life and so slight the pleasures we get as time flies past that such a belief is the least faith we can show in a gracious and all-wise providence……”  Though like all the advertisements this is riveting stuff and chimes in neatly with the Victorian preoccupation with death, it lacks the punchiness of some of the earlier efforts. It is no surprise that we are soon back to ‘Thief in the Night’ and other tried favourites.

Today alas, Mother Seigal is no longer with us, nor it would seem is Mother Seigal’s Curative Syrup. This is obviously a great loss to the nation. The only consolation is perhaps the thought that the indigestion suffered today is not so virulent or lethal as that encountered by the Victorians.

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