Tag Archives: 18th Century

Women surgeons

Moustapha Abousamra Ventura, California, United States   Cactus flower with buds. Image courtesy of the author. Last spring, I spent three months in the Texas Hill Country. It is a place that at once can be beautiful and hostile. The fields of blue bonnets in full bloom are breathtaking. The cacti that abound around barbed wire […]

Under the lime tree: medicine, poetry, and the education of the senses

Alan Bleakley Sennen, West Cornwall, United Kingdom   Portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), by Peter Vandyke, 1795. Edited by Sue Bleakley. When in the summer of 1797 Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s wife Sara accidentally spilled hot milk over his foot, causing serious burns such that Coleridge could not walk, he sat in the garden of […]

When Darwin was wrong

John Hayman Victoria, Australia   Fig. 1. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, as would have been seen by Darwin. (Photo by Bev Biggs.) Charles Darwin (1809-1802) is rightly famous, not for the discovery of evolution but for revealing the mechanism by which it may occur, natural selection. He not only formulated this idea, but […]

The death of James Abram Garfield

Philip Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   James Abram Garfield. By Ole Peter Hansen Balling. 1881. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Public Domain. The medical treatment of some US presidents and ex-presidents has been controversial. One example is George Washington, who in 1799 at age sixty-seven suffered from an acute throat ailment that was treated […]

Peter Panum and the “geography of disease”

Kathryne Dycus Madrid, Spain   Peter Panum. Scan from P. Hansens “Illustreret Dansk Litteraturhistorie”, anden meget forøgede udgave, 2. bind, 1902. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia. In 1846, the Faroe Islands experienced an outbreak of measles, the likes of which had not been seen in sixty-five years. The Danish government called upon a newly graduated physician, […]

The sleep of doctors

Barry Meisenberg Annapolis, Maryland, United States   Los Caprichos’: The sleep of reason produces monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos) 1799. Fransisco de Goya. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art  The gods who rule 2AM summon the doctor from sleep to the sequestered place where the veneer of unearned pride is bleached away. You forgot […]

Red Beard: a master clinician in nineteenth century Japan

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   A Meeting of Japan, China, and the West, late 18th – early 19th century. Shiba Kōkan. late 18th – early 19th century. Minneapolis Institute of Art. One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring […]

Art and alcohol

Giovanni Ceccarelli Roma, Italy   Fig. 1: Drinking Bacchus. Guido Reni, 1623, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden. Via Wikimedia. In the late 1940s Elaine de Kooning, wife of one of the most eminent exponents of American abstract expressionism (Willem de Kooning), commented that the whole art world of her time had become alcoholic. Yet even earlier, perhaps […]

The life and death of Franz Schubert

Nicolas Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Pencil-on-paper caricature of singer Johann Michael Vogl (left) and composer Franz Schubert (right). The caption (in German) reads: Michael Vogl and Franz Schubert go out for battle and victory. Attributed to his friend, Franz von Schober – Original is in the Historic Museum of the City of Vienna. […]

“Plague of the Sea, and the Spoyle of Mariners”—A brief history of fermented cabbage as antiscorbutic

Richard de Grijs Sydney, Australia   Germans eating sauerkraut. Hand-colored etching by James Gillray (1756–1815), published 7 May 1803. (© National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG D12809; CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) “. . . those affected have skin as black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out and, perhaps most revolting of […]