Tag Archives: 18th Century

Applause, Honours and Mortification: Admiral Pellew’s psychology of achievement in combatting slavery

Stephen Martin United Kingdom & Thailand Aidan Jones United Kingdom   Opening section of letter. Photo © Cat Ring Books, Amherst, Massachusetts. A revealing, unpublished letter was written by Edward Pellew two months after commanding the Bombardment of Algiers to suppress Mediterranean slave traders. Short, sensitive, and emotional, it is an insight into the psychology […]

Jean-Paul Marat, physician and revolutionary

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1: Death of Marat. Jacques-Louis David. 1793. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Via Wikimedia. The murder of the notorious Jean-Paul Marat in his bath in July 1793 by Charlotte Corday is a tale where revolution, art, and medicine each played a part. When the commoners stormed the […]

Why do physicians write so badly?

Peter Arnold Sydney, Australia   Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels An old joke is that pharmacists are the only people who can read physicians’ handwriting. This piece is not about handwriting, but about writing style. Compared with great medical authors, like Somerset Maugham, Conan Doyle, Anton Chekhov, John Keats, and Friedrich von Schiller, most […]

E.T.A. Hoffmann’s neurological disease

Nicolás Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Hoffmann’s drawing of himself, riding on Tomcat Murr and fighting “Prussian bureaucracy.” From Klaus Günzel: Die deutschen Romantiker. Artemis, Zürich 1995, ISBN 3-7608-1119-1. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Ich bin das, was ich scheine, und scheine das nicht, was ich bin, mir selbst ein unerklärlich Rätsel, bin ich entzweit […]

The derailment of Franklin Pierce

Jacob Appel  New York, New York, United States   Pres. Franklin Pierce. neg. from original ink by Brady. [between 1855 and 1865]. Part of Brady-Handy photograph collection. From the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Few subjects have attracted as much attention from medical historians, both well-founded and speculative, as the health of United States presidents. […]

Book Review of John Keats’ Medical Notebook

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: John Keats’ Medical Notebook February 23, 2021, marked the bicentenary of the death of the great Romantic poet John Keats. Born in 1795, Keats lived a tragically short life, dying at the age of only twenty-five. It is perhaps little known that he first qualified as an […]

American ginseng as an herbal emissary influencing Qing-American trade relations

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Panax quinquefolium, as featured in a book by physician-botanist Jacob Bigelow, late 1810s. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. On February 22, 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York Harbor.1 Destined for the eponymous country, the American ship carried thirty tons of a wild root—ginseng. […]

The Girl with a Pearl Earring—a vanitas?

James Lindesay Leicester, United Kingdom   Girl with a Pearl Earring. Johannes Vermeer. circa 1665. Mauritshuis. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. It is a truism that you only have one opportunity to see a picture for the first time. However, in our image-saturated age, by the time you get to see a famous painting in […]

In praise of swimming: from Benjamin Franklin to Oliver Sacks

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Oliver Sacks as a young child with his father. Courtesy of the Oliver Sacks Foundation. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was not a physician, but many thought he was so-trained and referred to him as “Doctor” Franklin. After accepting an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in […]

Thomas Young MD FRS (1773-1829): “The Last Man Who Knew Everything.”

JMS Pearce East Yorks, UK   Fig 1. Thomas Young. Mezzotint by G. R. Ward, 1855, after Sir T. Lawrence. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) It is impossible to place precisely Thomas Young (Fig 1) into any professional class. He was both physician and scientist, renowned for an astonishing range of […]