The French medical journal, La Clinique, gives an account of the experiments of M. Martinez, the fire-proof man, as he is called, who is now one of the principal objects of attraction at Paris. M. Martinez is not, like the … Read more
The invention of the guillotine in 1789 coincided with a dark era in French history. The phase of the revolution known as the Terror saw tens of thousands executed by the device, which remained the French executioner’s weapon of choice until the twentieth century. The medical aspects of the guillotine provoked a number of journal articles, in particular discussing how … Read more
In 1837 The Lancet reported a cause of death previously unknown in the annals of medical science. Its report begins:
The following is an account of the post mortem examination of the body of Mr. Robert Cocking, aged sixty-one, who fell with a suicidal machine called a parachute, from the cord of a balloon which ascended from Vauxhall Gardens, … Read more
It may be necessary to observe, that this unhappy woman had all the symptoms of a bilious cholic, to the most extreme degree, from the time … Read more
Here’s a case which wouldn’t surprise a modern medic, but which caused considerable puzzlement when it occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century: a patient who died while being shaved. This tale, first reported in Marryat’s London Metropolitan Magazine, was cited by one Dr Joseph Comstock in a letter to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in … Read more
Here’s a ‘news in brief’ item which appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1863, under this headline:A warder of the Bagne at Toulon, has just met his death in the following manner: he was amusing himself, while off duty, with fishing in the dock, when, having caught a fish about seven inches long and two broad, and not … Read more
In February 1846 a group of gravediggers in New York had a truly spooky experience when they were asked to disinter a body from a burial ground on the corner of Broadway and Twelfth Street (a site now occupied by a branch of Pret a Manger – make of that what you will).
Their story was reported in the New … Read more
Some Slates falling from the Roof of a House four Storeys high, upon the Head of a Girl about thirteen Years of Age, broke and shattered her Cranium at the Place where … Read more
In 1733 a book about depression and mental health was published in Dublin: The English Malady; or, A Treatise of Nervous Diseases of All Kinds, as Spleen, Vapours, Lowness of Spirits, Hypochondriacal and Hysterical Distemper. The author, George Cheyne – born a Scot, though he moved to London – was convinced that the English were uniquely prone to depressive … Read more
This brief case report is a reminder that there are certain medical horrors which were once commonplace but which are never seen today in the developed world. Untreatable conditions would progress unhindered, often resulting in terrible deformity. Tumours could reach a size almost unimaginable to the modern mind – although in developing countries such cases do, sadly, still arise.
This … Read more