Tag Archives: Erasmus Darwin

The illness of Tom Wedgwood: a tragic episode in a family saga

John Hayman Melbourne, Australia   Figure 1. Tom Wedgwood, from the frontispiece of Tom Wedgwood, the First Photographer, by R.B. Litchfield (1903). The inscription reads: “From a chalk drawing belonging to Miss Wedgwood, of Leith Hill Place. Artist unknown.” Print in public domain. Tom Wedgwood (1771-1805) was born into the famous pottery dynasty as the […]

Charles Darwin’s illnesses

There is a prevalent consensus that most of Charles Darwin’s lifelong symptoms are not attributable to organic disease.1-5 It would seem unlikely that he contracted chronic Chagas disease in South America, because his symptoms began before he ever set foot on the HMS Beagle.2 His various complaints were intermittent, many improved with age, and he […]

The forgotten Darwin

JMS Pearce Hull, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Erasmus Darwin Portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby. [Public Domain – Wright died in 1797] That Erasmus Darwin MD., FRS. (1731–1802) was overshadowed, often forgotten, is not surprising when one considers the well-deserved fame and importance of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Stephen Jay Gould observed in The Structure of […]

Polymathy in decline?

J.M.S. Pearce United Kingdom Try to know something about everything and everything about something. —attributed to T H Huxley (1825-95) Nicolaus Copernicus, 1872 Jan Matejko Jagiellonian University, Krakow Polymaths are rare and interesting people. Their fund of learning enlightens conversation, provokes new ideas, and excites our imagination and understanding. The ancient Greeks concentrated on natural […]

William Withering and the foxglove

William Withering, W. Bond, 19th century Engraving of Carl Frederik von Breda painting In 1785 William Withering, physician and botanist in Birmingham, England, wrote a book describing how for ten years he had used an extract of foxglove to treat patients afflicted swollen legs and abdomen. He said he had often been urged to write […]