Indian hemp in a French café

Forgotten Books is a website that deserves accolades. Yesterday they despatched the bound volume of Medical Times for 1850. It has copious specific and detailed information covering so much of the small stuff of life and death. By that I mean narratives on operations carried out — successfully or not; anesthesia; public health; water and sewerage; community health; mortality statistics; cholera and typhus management; mental health issues in institutions and in the community and a whole lot more. For example, there is a practical debate going on over how much chloroform is enough and is chloroform better than ether.

Details veer from the medieval — injection of beef tea and laudenum — through to astoundingly modern. A new nose was constructed for a patient that year by use of a triangular skin flap transplant from his forehead twisted to its new position while remaining attached in order to keep the skin alive. Hitherto I thought that this technique was pioneered by Archibald McIndoe on his ‘guinea pig club’ of burned aircrew in the second world war, 90 years later.

I got as far as January when, co-incidentally, I bumped into the autopsy of an ancestor of mine who died in St Thomas’s Hospital London aged 75 years from a fractured skull, after being hit by a cab.

By February 16 I found this scene of Parisian pot-heads and had to share. Who knows what the rest of 1850 has in store:-




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