Eighteenth Century caricatures which involve doctors are usually served up with a healthy scepticism about the medical profession! Here are a few which I like:
This appeared in The Caricature Magazine, or Hudibrastic Mirror, by G.M. Woodward and is shown courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library site. The patient says to the medic.:
“Doctor, My Dame and I be come to ask your advice – we both of us eat well and drink well, and sleep well – yet still be somehow queerish”
The doctor responds ominously “You eat well – you drink well – you sleep well – very good. You was perfectly right in coming to me, for depend upon it I will give you something that shall do away with all these things”
Meanwhile, Rowlandson echoed the suggestion that doctors like to put a stop anything which the patient might consider enjoyable:
Doctor to Patient: “Your pulse is in a better state. Seven or eight more Draughts will settle you.”
Patient to Doctor: “Settle me! I believe I shall be settled if I go on in this manner – my Inside is like a Potticarry’s Shop. I long hugely for some beans and a lump of Bacon.”
Next up, a gentle poke at spurious remedies and in particular at ‘foreign doctors’ and their use of English, which may still resonate with current Press reports in the U.K. about medical practitioners who qualified overseas:
Entitled “A High German Doctor or a cure for a complaint in the bowels” it has the German doctor saying:
“Well Norse, how was mine Patient by dish time?”
“Much better Sir, the Medicines had great effect. ”
“Ah Dat is goot – did you gif de Poppies – and de Bol Ammoniac as I told you? “
“ Oh! Yes Sir, the Puppies he has eat six this morning and I have boil’d four more which he is taking now – as for Old Almanack I could not get one in all the Parish but I procured a very old copy of Robin Hood and boil’d that down in Milk which has answer’d the purpose very well.”
And what would the good doctor, German or otherwise, have carried with him on his site visit? Well maybe something like this splendid Apothecary’s Box from 1840 which appears in the latest Newsletter from Hampton Antiques:
The Medical Box, made from mahogany with brass fittings, contains a positive cornucopia of goodies, with twenty five bottles, some with original potions and labels, and has two silver-topped mixing jars, a glass slide, brass & iron scales with its weights, and a metal rosewood handled medical tool for mixing or crushing medicines.
There is even a secret poison compartment and a glass pestle & mortar.
Some of the (toxic ?) ingredients are stated to include … Dovers Powder (poisen), Hippo powder, Sweet Spirit of Nitre, Compound powder of Jalap, Boracic Acid, Tinture of Iodine, Permanganate, Lawsons Liqueur Whiskey, T.C.P. Peroxide, Poison by G.F. Gamble Dublin…
I have to confess that I would be reluctant to try the Liqueur Whiskey if it was being mixed with any of its neighbouring ingredients!
I’m a sucker for antique boxes so maybe my daughters will club together and buy it for me for Christmas – after all, it’s only a shade over two grand…