Tag Archives: 18th Century

And for unto us… Medicine, Messiah, and Christmas

Desmond O’Neill Dublin, Ireland   Program cover for Handel and Haydn Society concert of December 25, 1815. Courtesy of the Handel and Haydn Society Archives. Although the very first performance of the Messiah took place in April 1742 in Dublin with the London première following in March 1743, the oratorio is closely associated with the […]

Douglas Argyll Robertson and his pupils

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Figure 1. Argyll Robertson pupil reactions. Diagram by Chainwit. on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. In my student days, the Wasserman reaction (WR), though not specific, was performed almost routinely in patients on medical wards to detect syphilis. Several direct and serological tests of varying sensitivity and specificity have now replaced […]

Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy and medicine

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Novum Organum Scientiarum, 2nd edition, 1645. EC.B1328.620ib, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Lord Bacon was the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any country, ever produced. – Alexander Pope, 1741   The early seventeenth century was a time when natural philosophy, the precursor of modern […]

Orthoses, prostheses, and splints

JMS Pearce Hull, England   These common words are sometimes confused. Orthosis is a term first used in English in 1857, from the Greek ὄρθωσις—“making straight.” It is a device that supports or assists residual function after illness or injury. Prosthesis is a Latin word derived from the ancient Greek πρόσθεσις, meaning “addition.” Like many […]

Jean-Baptiste de Sénac and his early textbook on cardiology

Göran Wettrell Lund, Sweden   Figure 1. Portrait of Jean-Baptiste de Sénac (1693-1770). Wellcome Library, London. William Harvey was an important figure in the early days of cardiovascular physiology. Based on meticulous observations, he published De Motu Cordis and Sanguinus in 1628 and has been proposed as the founder of physiology and cardiology.1 During the […]

Samuel Johnson: “the great convulsionary”

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom Samuel Johnson. Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1772. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   This paper reproduces in an abridged form an earlier article by its author1 appraising the evidence that Samuel Johnson suffered from Tourette’s syndrome. Several authors have commented on the many eccentricities of Dr. Samuel Johnson (Fig 1).2 […]

Dr. Dominique Larrey

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Larrey provokes contractions on a recently amputated limb. Illustration from Les merveilles de la science, 1867-1891, Tome 1, by Louis Figuier. Paris: Furne, Jouvet. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Dominique Jean Larrey (1766-1842), the orphaned son of a shoemaker, was raised by an uncle who was a surgeon and became a […]

The Grand Army and horsemeat

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Horse sirloin (contre-filet), in France. Photo by Jiel Beaumadier, October 9, 2010. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. “An army travels on its stomach.” — Attributed to Napoleon   Out of all of the innovations of Dominique Jean Larrey (1766-1842), one has yet to be properly appreciated. In his own words, […]

Wilhelm Baum (1799–1883)

Wilhelm Baum. Photograph of painting by Wilhelm Title. Uploaded by Mehlauge. Via Wikimedia. Postgraduate medical education in the nineteenth century required personal contact with the masters of the profession – working and rounding with them, or at least listening to their lectures. Thus the German surgeon Wilhelm Baum spent one year after obtaining his doctorate […]

The illness of King George III

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Farmer George & his wife. Published by William Holland. 1786. © The Trustees of the British Museum. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. The Hanoverian King George III (1738–1820) was a diligent man of wit and intelligence, a man who enhanced the reputation of the British monarchy until he […]