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“but being deaf, the Spirit not the Body tires” – the Duke of Wellington’s Hearing Loss

Hugh Dominic WStiles3 May 2019

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who was born 250 years ago, in 1769, suffered from noise-related hearing loss caused by artillery.  William Wright tells us,

The Duke of Wellington was inspecting an experimental carriage for a howitzers and whilst in advance of the gun, gave the word ” Fire ;” the result was the rupture of the membrane of the drum of the left ear. The Duke went immediately to Mr. Stevenson who told his Grace the story, about thickening the drum of the ear. The solution of caustic was applied; instant pain ensued, from the caustic passing through the ruptured membrane amongst the ossicula, and very sensitive internal tissues. Within six hours the Duke was conveyed home from Lord Liverpool’s, in a state of insensibility, and it was only by most careful, skilful treatment that his life was then preserved. He went to Verona, a great sufferer, and the country had very properly to make a handsome compensation to Dr. Hume, and his family, for giving up his practice to attend the Duke on his mission. (Wright, 1860, p.75-6)

Graham Smelt says that this was on On August the 5th, 1822.  His hearing loss was made considerably worse by the botched treatment, a story related by a Mr Gleig, in an anecdote that suggests it was Hume who was to blame –

The Duke, many years ago, being deaf, sent for his medical man, who poured some stuff into his ear, not knowing that the drum of the ear was broken. This proved very mischievous in its results. The Duke said it was not sound that was restored to him; it was something terrifically beyond sound: the noise of a carriage passing under his window was like the rolling of thunder. Thus suffering, he returned home about the middle of the day, and went to bed. Next day, Dr. Hume called and found the Duke staggering about the room. Dr. Hume, although he well knew the Duke’s temperate habits, supposed that he had taken a little too much wine overnight, and had not recovered from it. He was leaving the room, when the Duke said to him : Hume, I wish you would look to my ear ; there is something wrong there.’ Hume looked and saw that a furious inflammation had begun, extending to the brain ; another hour, and the stuff would have done for the Duke what all his enemies had failed to do : it would have killed him. Hume bled him copiously, sent for Sir Henry Halford and Sir Astley Cooper, who treated him with great skill, and brought him round. The poor man came next day and expressed his great regret. The Duke spoke to him in his kindest manner and said, I know you did not mean to harm me ; you did your best, but I am very deaf.’ Upon which, the Doctor said, I am very sorry for it ; but my whole professional prospects are at stake, and if the world hears of it I shall be ruined.’ ‘The world need not hear at all about it,’ said the Duke; ‘keep your counsel, and I’ll keep mine.’ The Doctor, encouraged by this, went a little further : Will you let me attend you still, and let the world suppose that you still have confidence in me ?’ ‘No, no,’ said the Duke, ‘I cannot do that ; that would not be truthful.’ (Davies, 1854 p.16-17)

To me this sounds like a well-rehearsed anecdote, but there is something ‘missing,’ it seems to me, in Wright’s account, in that he seems to imply that Hume had some hand in the affair without explicitly saying so.  Or is he just omitting Stevenson’s name, and ‘the poor man’ is Stevenson?  Smelt says that Stevenson was to blame, and that Hume treated him afterwards.  In an earlier book, Wright tells us –

Deleau states that he can reach the cavity of the tympanum by a bent probe, or catheter. If he even can do so, which I consider is very problematical, I am convinced the operation is attended with considerable danger, for the ossicula (the small bones) which extend from the inside of the membrana tympani, to the opposite side of the cavity, would be in great danger of being forced from the situation in which Providence has been pleased to place them, or their functions would be otherwise diminished, or destroyed, and such would be the effect of any injury being inflicted on this delicate organization, that inflammation of the brain, and even death, would be a probable consequence. An example of this was unfortunately nearly afforded about the end of 1822, or beginning of 1823, in the case of the Duke of Wellington, a lotion of lunar caustic had been dropped into the external auditory passage, there was an opening at the time through the membrane (or drum), from an accidental cause, and the caustic lotion entered the cavity beneath, containing the highly sensative [sic] integuments, and machinery therein placed ; the results were intense pain; in a few hours inflammation of the brain, with symptomatic fever, and his life was only preserved by the most prompt and efficient treatment pursued by his Physician, aided by other medical and surgical advice derived from the first men of the age. In June, 1823, I was called into attendance on his Grace, as his aurist, and continue still to attend him when necessary ; even at this distant period from the unfortunate occurrence, the Duke feels sufficient unpleasant effects occasionally, not to allow him to forget it, independent of the privation of his left ear.* Similar, if not even worse, must necessarily be the consequence of introducing an instrument into the cavity of the tympanum, even if the patient be in a state of health; but if there exist any tendency to inflammatory action, scrofula, or erysipelas, the danger is increased, and the disastrous effects, or even fatal termination of the experiment, for it is nothing more in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, unavoidable. (Wright, 1839, p.55-7)

* In pp. 159 and 160, of “An Exposition of Quackery and Imposture in Medicine,” written by Dr. Caleb Ticknor, of New York, republished in this country, which I edited, and upon which I wrote copious notes, will be found a further account of the Duke of Wellington’s case.

Note how free doctors were then with patient information, while the patient was still alive. Smelt suggests as well as the seriously damaged ear, he also had noise-induced hearing loss in his other ear as he got older.

In 1852 the Duke wrote in a letter,

I have none of the infirmities of old age I excepting Vanity perhaps. But that is a disease of the mind, not of the Body ! My deafness is accidental ! If I was not deaf, I really believe that there is not a youth in London who could enjoy the world more than myself or could bear fatigue better, but being deaf, the spirit, not the body, tires. One gets bored, in boring others, and one becomes too happy to get home. (Wellington, 1854, p.314-5)

Losing his hearing had other consequences, as we see from this on February 20th, 1848 from the Greville memoirs –

At the House of Lords on Friday night, for the Committee on the Diplomatic Bill. Government beaten by three, and all by bad management ; several who ought to have been there, and might easily have been brought up, were absent : the Duke of Bedford, Duke of Devonshire, Lord Petre, a Catholic, dawdling at Brighton, and Beauvale. The Duke of Wellington, with his deafness, got into a complete confusion, and at the last moment voted against Government. (Greville, 1888, p.129)

When he was in his eighties, as members of Derby’s 1852 government were announced, the now quite deaf Duke kept repeating, “Who? Who?”  It became known as the “Who? Who?” ministry.

Davies, George Jennings, The completeness of the late duke of Wellington as a national character, 1854

Greville, Charles Cavendish Fulke, The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV, King … 1888

Hazlitt, William, ed, Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington, The Speeches of the Duke of Wellington in Parliament, Volume 2, 1854

Smelt, Graham, Wellington’s Deafness. Abstract presented at the meeting British Society for the History of ENT, Held December 1st 2011 In the Toynbee McKenzie Room, at the Royal Society of Medicine, London

Wright, William, A few minutes’ advice to deaf persons…, 1839

Wright, William, On the varieties of deafness and diseases of the ear, 1829

Wright, William,  Deafness and Diseases of the Ear: The Fallacies of Present Treatment Exposed … 18

Tuba Stentoro-Phonica an Instrument of Excellent Use, as Well as at Sea as at Land

Hugh Dominic WStiles4 October 2018

Here are some pictures from our copy of Sir Samuel Morland’s Tuba Stentoro-Phonica an Instrument of Excellent Use, as Well as at Sea as at Land: Invented and Variously Experimented in the Year 1670 and Humbly Presented to the Kings Most Excellent Majesty Charles II, in the Year 1671.  Morland (1625–1695), a diplomat and inventor, had been on the side of the Commonwealth but when he became disillusioned, he became a double agent, supporting the Restoration.

He is credited with inventing the speaking trumpet, an early megaphone.

Original DNB entry

Wikipedia entry

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/7847425/An-inventive-interest-in-giant-military-ear-trumpets.html

Holcroft’s “Deaf & Dumb; or The Orphan Protected” 1819

Hugh Dominic WStiles21 September 2018

Thomas Holcroft was born in Orange Court, Leicester fields on December 22nd, 1744, son of a shoemaker (see introductory remarks to the play, p.ii).  He was employed by a Mr Vernon riding his horses at Newmarket, but the continued to work in his father’s trade and educate himself in music and painting.  In his mid-twenties his interest was captured by the theatre.  In 1802 (according to the date on the cast list) he produced an adaptation of Bouilly’s 1799 play, L’Abbé de L’Épée.  A previous blog noted the prose version of this story – Harancour Place; or the Orphan Protected.  It is, we are told in the introductory note (perhaps by Oxberry I wonder), “a sort of sentimental pantomime, exquisitely happy in the construction of the fable and tender in the sympathy it inspire; and may be considered as a practical test how far situation and feeling alone will go to the production of the most powerfulb and even refined dramatic effect, without the help of poetry or impassioned dialogue.” (p.i)

The story involves the boy Thomas, educated by l’Epée, (spoiler alert) who is really Julio, Count of Harcour.  In the original French version, the Deaf boy uses gestures.  “These gestures do not replicate the sign language de l’Épée taught to his students, but neither are they conventional theatrical gestures. They are instead a hybrid: a theatrical gesture rendered so as to appear to replicate the manual language of the deaf as well as a transformation of de l’Épée’s manual language for the deaf into gestures that would work on a large stage” (McDonagh).  Holcroft’s version seems to have the boy – played by Miss De Camp in the original – doing something more akin to pantomime – as we see here, “Theodore makes signs with the utmost rapidity” but it is hard to know exactly how that would have worked in the production (p.9).

On page 33 of the Holcroft version, Theodore writes the answer to a question,

“In your opinion, who is the greatest genius that France has ever produced ?”.

Madame F. “Ay – what does he say to that?”

Marianne reads, “Science would decide for D’Alembert, and Nature say, Buffon; Wit and Taste present Voltaire; and sentiment pleads for Rousseau; but Genius and Humanity cry out for De l’Epee; and him I call the best and greatest of human creatures.” (Marianne drops the paper and retires to the chair in tears. Theodore throws himself into De l’Epee’s arms. M. Franval and Franval look at each other in astonishment.

Mrs Kemble, pictured here, was the first Julio/Theodore in the English production.

Holcroft, Thomas, Deaf and dumb: or, The orphan protected: : an historical drama in five acts. Performed by Their Majesties servants of the Theatre Royal, in Drury-Lane. Taken from the French of M. Bouilly; and adapted to the English stage. (1819)

McDonagh, Patrick THE MUTE’S VOICE: THE DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE MUTE AND DEAF-MUTE IN EARLY-NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE.  Criticism; Detroit Vol. 55, Iss. 4,  (Fall 2013): 655-675

 

Guichard Duvernay, pioneer of Otology (1648-1730)

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 September 2018

Guichard Joseph Du Verney (5 August 1648 – 10 September 1730) was a pioneer of otology.  He was born in Feurs, in the south of France, and studied at Avignon as a doctor befoire moving to Paris.  He became Court Anatomist – a post created for him (Hawkins, p.9).  As Hawkins says, “Duverney’s treatise is remarkable not only for its anatomical presentations, but also for its author’s thoughts on the physiology and pathology of the ear” (ibid).  Neil Weir and Albert Mudry say that it was also significant that it was published in French rather than Latin.  He was also, they continue, the first to show that the boney external meatus developed from the tympanic ring; that the Eusachian tube was a channel wherby the air in the tympanum was renewed; he explained bone conduction; he was the first to use the term boney labyrinth for the whole inner ear.  He produced his brilliant drawings without the aid of a microscope (Weir & Mudry, 2013 p.38-9).

That his book was translated to English over fifty years after his death, says a lot about how valuable it was considered.  We have copies of both the original, and the translation.

Le Vestibule est une cavité presque ronde, creusée dans I’os pierreux et d’environ une ligne et demie de diamètre. II est scitué derrière la fenestre ovale, et revestu par dedans d’une membrane parsemée de plusieurs vaisseaux : on y remarque neuf ouvertures dont il y en a une de laquelle il a déja esté parlé, sçavoir la fenestre ovale qui donne entrée de la quaisse du tambour dans le vestibule ; les huit autres lont dans la cavité de ce vestibule. La première mene dans la rampe superieure du limaçon ; il y en a’cinq qui donnent entrée dans les trois canaux demi-circulaires ; et les deux dernieres laissent passer deux branches de la portion molle du nerf auditif.

Je donneray des noms aux conduits demi – circulaires pour les distinguer, et je les nommeray par rapport à leur situation.  J’appelle le premier Supérieur parce; qu’il embrasse la partie superieure de la voute du vestibule ; le sécond Inferieur, parce qu’il entoure partie inferieure ; et le troisième qui est plus en dehors et sîtué entre les deux autres seranommé le Mitoyen. (1683, p.32-3)

The Vestibulum is a Cavity almost round, formed out of the Os Petrosum, and about a Line and a half in diameter. It is situated behind the Fenestre Ovalis, and covered on the Inside by a Membrane, furnished with a great many Vessels.  There are nine Foramina in it, of which one has been already described, viz. the Fenestre Ovalis, which forms an Entrance from the Tympanum into the Vestibulum; the other eight are in the Cavity of the Vestibulum: The first leading into the upper Range or Scala of the Coclea; there are five more which afford Entrance to the three Semi-circular Canals; and the two last through which two Branches of the Portio Mollis of the Auditory nerve pass.

I shall give Names to the  three Canales Semicirculres to distinguish them, and I shall take those Names from their situation: The first  I call the Superior, because it takes up the upper Part of the Arch of the Vestibulum; the second Inferior, because it surrounds lower Part; and the third, which is placed more towards the Outside, and is situated betwixt the other two, Medius. (1737, p.32)

Hawkins says that Du Verney “was a true forerunner of Helmholtz, putting forward a resonance theory before its time” (Hawkins, p.9).  It seems that he also dissected an elephant, in front of King Louis XIV in 1681.  The book is full of beautiful plates, some reproduced here.  I showed it to a UCLH otologist, and he was amazed by their quality.  Unfortunately no portrait of him appears to survive.

Du Verney, Traité de l’organe de l’ouie, contenant la structure, les usages & les maladies de toutes les parties de l’oreille. A Paris, : chez Estienne Michallet, ruë S. Jacques à l’image S. Paul. 1683

Traité de l’organe de l’ouie… on Google Books

Du Verney, A treatise of the organ of hearing: : containing the structure, the uses, and the diseases of all the parts of the ear./ Translated from the French of the late Monsieur Du Verney, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Counsellor Physician in Ordinary to the late King of France, and Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the Royal Physick-Garden at Paris. Translated by John Marshall. 1737

Desai, Sapan S & Dua, Anahita, History of Research in the Vestibular System: A 400-Year-Old Story.  Anatomy &  Physiology 2014, 4:2 DOI: 10.4172/2161-0940.1000138

Hawkins, Joseph E., Auditory Physiological History: A Surface View. Chapter 1, p.1-28, in  Santos-Sacchi, Joseph R., Physiology of the Ear. 2001

Weir, N. and Mudry, A., Otorhinolaryngology: an illustrated history, 2013

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph-Guichard_Du_Verney

Harry Wellington White, oralist “When I went to Manchester… the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign…. it was like a fever lurking about”

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 August 2018

Harry Wellington White was born in October, 1854, son of Wellington White, a ‘quartermaster of militia,’ born in Tipperary, and his wife Anne, from Kildare. The oldest sister was born Van Diemen’s Land, then a brother was born in Dover, a second brother was born in Lancashire, and his younger brother in Hampshire, so presumably the father was being sent around the empire for his work.

Harry White began working as a clerk, presumably when he left school. He was employed as a clerk in the offices of the Great Western , at General Manager’s office at Paddington in November, 1876. He remained an employee there until February, 1879, when he resigned.  He would then be aged a little over 24, and we might suppose that it was then, or shortly after, that he enrolled as a trainee teacher of the deaf at the Ealing ‘Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.’  He took a two and a half year course there, and qualified in 1881 in the same cohort as Mary Smart, and was it seems the only male teacher to qualify there, which seems extraordinary.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were far fewer me interested in becoming teachers in the latter years of the 19th century.  Previously I think male teachers had often gone into teaching as pupils who became teachers, then learnt on the job in deaf schools, but this would require research to confirm.

Having qualified, he was appointed Vice-Principal under Arthur Kinsey.  He was sent out from Ealing as an acolyte, and Benjamin St. John Ackers who lead the society as Honorary Secretary, wrote in the annual report for 1884 (p.10) –

Somewhat earlier in the year your Honorary Secretary attended the Annual Meeting of the Manchester Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, as a subscriber to that Institution, where it will be remembered Mr. H. W. White, our late Vice-Principal, was engaged in the work of training the teachers employed there, to carry on the German System.  Mr. White had represented to your Society that certain changes in the arrangements of the Manchester Institution were absolutely necessary for the ultimate success of the work.  Your Honorary Secretary’s attendance, upon the occasion referred to, was to urge the adoption of these proposed changes upon the Manchester Committee, and also the further engagement of Mr. White for another twelve months ; this latter proposition, we are sorry to learn, has, from want of funds, not been accepted.  The period of Mr. White’s engagement with your Society having expired, we were in strong hopes of seeing him at the head of some British Institution, carrying on successfully the work for which he has been trained.  About this time the Head Mastership of the West of England Institution, at Exeter, fell vacant, and Mr. White was at once advised to apply for the post, but he did not feel at liberty to do so.  Shortly afterwards a similar vacancy occurred at the Liverpool Institution ; again he was urged to apply.  Owing, possibly, to delay in forwarding his application, he was not successful in obtaining the appointment.  Upon the termination of the Society’s agreement with Mr. White an agreement was executed with Mr. Alfred Batchelor to train at the College, and to give his services to the Society in such ways as might be required for their work.

The Manchester Schools Sixtieth Annual Report for 1884 (we have not got the 1883 Report) tells us that “the arrangement referred to in the last Annual Report as having been made with Mr. White, Vice-Principal of the Ealing College, is being brought to a satisfactory termination ; and it is gratifying to your Committee to find that the Oral Classes, as organised by their Head Master, [W.S. Bessant] are working so nearly upon the lines laid down by Mr. White in his lectures, that very little alteration in them has been rendered necessary. (Annual Report, 1884, p.6).

It seems Ackers was, however, rather disappointed with White.  He wanted to expand the oralist approach by getting his man into a big school.  Perhaps White felt that running a private school would be more rewarding.  In October, 1884, White published a booklet with W.H. Allen, publishers, Speech for the Dumb. The Education of the Deaf and Dumb on the “Pure Oral” System.  He laid out the oralist approach, and concluded with an appendix on ‘Hints for the management of a deaf child.’  This included ‘Do not allow him to shuffle his feet when walking.’  Interestingly, one of our regular visitors tells me that she was told the same thing at school – perhaps this was part of the long legacy of the Ealing College?  In the introduction to that essay, when he was living at 3, Blenheim Terrace, Old Trafford, Manchester, he says, (p.v) that “I am desirous of opening a small private and select school for deaf children of the higher classes, at Bowden, Cheshire.”  Of course he adds, needlessly, “signs and the manual alphabet being rigidly excluded.”

I am not sure if that school got going, as by July 1885 he was offering lip reading lessons and his address was 4 Osman Road, West Kensington Park.  Not long after, we find numerous advertisements for White’s private deaf school, at 115 Holland Road, Kensington, in The Times and London Evening Standard (see British Newspaper Archive), as well as mentions in The Lancet (by February 1886).  He was, that same year one of the witnesses for The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (1889).  (We have the full text, and electronic access through Parliamentary Papers database.)  He was asked about his time at Manchester on Thursday the 18th of March, 1886.  You may recall that Ackers was on the commission, so I do not think it would be unfair to say that there was already an oralist bias –

7969. When you first went there was that the commencement of the change ? — No, they had endeavored to introduce the system, and I suppose it would be
maintained that they had introduced it. Of course one is very delicate upon a matter of that kind; there are certain susceptibilities to consider; I think they claimed that they introduced the system; but I went there to assist them to carry it on to probably a higher pitch, and farther extent.

7970. Do you claim that you made great progress is the teaching of the teachers there ? — Undoubtedly.

7971. And also the pupils themselves ? —  Certainly.  Of course my individual efforts could not have shown very great results in the children except through the teachers that I trained.  I could not be expected to teach 160 children, nor would my results be very much in twelve months; but I think that, taking class and class with the teacher that was attached to it, the whole tone of the training showed itself clearly in the education of the children.

Further on he says (paragraph 8007),

When I went to Manchester, of course the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign.  From the point of view of a pure oral teacher it was like a fever lurking about (that is a rather strong way of putting it), and it wanted removing before you could expect to do anything with the children on the opposite system.

8008. You mean tho fever of the sign system ? — From our point of view, though that is rather a strong way of putting it; but it certainly was very infections. The new children and the children taught on the oral system were very prone to fall into the ways of those who had a system of signs around them.  The consequence was that I saw it rapidly running through the whole institution.  In six weeks or two months the children who had newly entered were as full of signs as thosewho had been there for six years, though probably not knowing so many signs.  The only hope of introducing the pure oral system would have been the removal of the whole of those sign children, and that is what I advocated.  I wrote a letter to tho committee and advocated the taking of a new house somewhere in the neighbourhood for the purpose; but they said that they could not possibly do it, that the expense was more than they could meet, and that things would have to go on as they were going on.

[…]

8059. Do you think that the time will ever come when the sign and manual systems will disappear altogether ?  — I see no reason why they should not.

8060. Do you think there is every reason why they should ?—At present there are very few reasons why they should.  If the Government take the matter up and grant assistance to the work, I see every reason why the sign system should be stamped out, and the oral system entirely established in its place.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census records, Harry White was living at home with his parents in 7 Hackney Terrace, Cassland Road. He moved with them at some point after that, to 3 Poplar Grove, Hammersmith.  In January 1891 he married Emma Parrell, at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, and at that time he was described as a teacher on his marriage certifiate, but in the 1891 census a ‘Teacher of the Deaf’.  In both the 1901 and the 1911 censuses, they were recorded as living in 13 Sinclair Gardens, Hammersmith.

After some years he seems to have turned away from being purely a teacher of the deaf, though he may well have still had deaf pupils, for he describes himself as ‘Speech Specialist’ in both 1901 and 1911 census returns.  He wrote a few other short items, one we have, The Mechanism of Speech (1897), and a book we do not have, Hearing by Sight (18-?) which is held in Aberdeen University, possibly a unique copy.

I cannot say anything of his later carreer, but that he had three children, one son who attended Cambridge university (Harry Coxwell White), and that he died in 1940.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Great Western Railway Company: Staff Records; Class: RAIL264; Piece: 6

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 332; Folio: 73; Page: 58; GSU roll: 818902

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 60; Folio: 19; Page: 32; GSU roll: 1341013

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 39; Folio: 182; Page: 34

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 21; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 255

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Oct 21, 1885; pg. 2; Issue 31583.

The Standard (London, England), Tuesday, July 14, 1885; pg. 8; Issue 19032

“there is nothing, as I have said, in this mortal life except inanity, emptiness, and dream-shadows” – Girolamo Cardano 1501-76

Hugh Dominic WStiles1 June 2018

Girolamo Cardano (1501-76), or Hieronymus Cardanus, or Jerome Cardan, to use the Italian, Latin and English forms of his name, was born in Pavia.  His family lived in Milan during its occuption by the French.  His father was a lawyer.  Jerome was a sickly child, and seems to have had more than his fair share of accidents.  He attended the academy at Pavia, now the university, where he first lectured on Euclid (Cardano, p.11-13).  When he was twenty-five he became a doctor of medicine in Padua.

Attempting to make money from gambling, Cardano was the first person to work out the science of probability, though he did not get the credit for being first as he wanted the advantage of keeping the information to himself, and did not publish it in his lifetime.

Rejected by the Milanese College of Physicians (until 1539), he felt snubbed and was forced to make his reputation  in the provinces (see Hannam, p.238).  His philosophy was to allow patients to heal naturally so he did not introduce invasive and painful treatments to patients, rather prescibing rest & sensible eating.  This meant he was more successful than his fellows.  He was invited to Scotland by John Hamilton the archbishop of St. Andrews in 1551, who was very ill, and the archbishop recovered, and was full of praise for Cardano (ibid p.239).

He was rather obsessed by horoscopes, predicting he would die aged 45.  He prepared horoscopes of historical figures, including Jesus, though that later got him into trouble with the Inquisition.

We have a French version of De subtilitate rerumOn natural phenomena, whence the illustrations here.

He was a remarkable and fascinating man, and his memoir makes for a lively and vivid read.  He is resonably honest and certainly phlegmatic.  The behaviour of his sons might have crushed a lesser man, one being a violent criminal, and the other in an unhappy marriage poisoned his wife and was executed.

“I am by no means unaware that these afflictions may seem meaningless to future generations, and more especially to strangers; but there is nothing, as I have said, in this mortal life except inanity, emptiness, and dream-shadows.” (p.83-4)

Below we see the page on the beaver.  For some reason, perhaps connected with the use of Castoreum, according to Aesop’s Fables and then Pliny the Elder, mediaeval tradition said beaver’s would chew off their own testicles to escape hunters.  As a beaver’s testicles are internal, perhaps that contributed  to the myth.

Cardano, Girolama, The Book Of My Life. Translated by Jean Stoner (2002)

Les livres de Hierosme Cardanus medecin milannois: intitulez de la subtilité, & subtiles inuentions, ensemble les causes occultes, & raisons d’icelles. Traduits… Richard Le Blanc, Paris, Pour Pierre Cauelat ruë S. Iaques, à l’enseigne de l’escu de Florence (1584)

Hannam, James, God’s Philosophers (2009)

Athanasius Kircher (1601/2-1680) & his Phonurgia Nova

Hugh Dominic WStiles4 May 2018

Athanasius Kircher was born on the 2nd of May, but he himself was it seems unsure if it was 1601 or 2. He was yet another of those great polymaths of his age.  He may have had a certain arrogance, saying in one of his books,

Already about thirty years have passed since I brought out an explanation in my Prodromus Coptus of a certain Sino-Syrian monument discovered in China in 1625 A.D.  This earned considerable praise from intelligent readers, who were astonished by the novelty of its subject matter, but there was no lack of malicious, evil critics who attacked it with sarcastic arguments and many attempted corrections. All of these, however, were stupid or obtuse. (China Illustrata)

In his book, The Seashell on the Mountaintop (2003), Cutler says,

Kircher was a giant among seventeenth-century scholars. Straddling the divide between the expansive scholarship of the Renaissance and the focused data-collecting of the emerging scientific age, he was one of the last thinkers who could rightfully claim all knowledge as his domain. (Cutler, 2003 p.68)

He also says that Kircher, who turned up in Rome just after the Gallileo trial, was in some degree the church’s answer, making Rome again a centre of intellectual activity (p.69)

The wonderfully illustrated book we have is his Phonurgia nova, sive conjugium mechanico-physicum artis & natvrae paranympha phonosophia concinnatum (1673).    There is a lot about sound and acoustics and some of the illustrations are quite frequently reproduced.  Indeed, Glassie says it was “the first book in Europe devoted entirely to acoustics” (Galssie p.228).  He includes experiments, and shows how sound will travel around a dome – exactly the acoustic phenomena that is to be heard in the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Certainly, some of his ideas were bizarre and strange and many wrong, but he was so prolific and interesting that it is not possible to do justice to him here.  He even had some nascent ideas about evolution.

Antonio Baldigiani wrote around 1678,

Poor old Father Kircher is sinking fast. He’s been deaf for more than a year, and has lost his sight and most of his memory. He rarely leaves his room except to go to the pharmacy or to the porter’s room. In short, we already consider him lost since he xcannot survive many more years. (Findlen, )

Findlen goes on to say that this was a litte exaggerated as he continued to write and indeed publish into the last year of his life.

He died on the 27th of November, 1680.

Cutler, Alan  The Seashell on the Mountaintop (2003).

Findlen, P., Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything (2004)

Glassie, John, Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change (

https://www.strangescience.net/kircher.htm

Phonurgia Nova

The Kircher Correspondence

Silent Drill by Signs – a Scout Sign System from 1934

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 February 2018

Written in 1934 or 1935 by Martin Baker, who was Assistant County Commissioner for the Training of Scouters in Birminmgham, Silent Drill by Signs tells us that,

There is a fascination in Drill by Signs, a sense of good-will, cheeriness and scout atmosphere which is not to be found in Sergeant-Major’s methods.

Those participating experience an increased alertness, and can attain by the Sign method a smartness hitherto impossible, and this without domineering or bullying.

The idea of using Signs for drill is not new- some of the signs are as old as the hills; it is in the method of use that the new feature lies, and it will be found to make all the difference between perfect performance and chaos.

Although Drill by Signs has been taught on the Wood Badge Courses sincve the very beginning of Training, it has not become the onl;y scouty way of moving scouts, because the method lacked one essential of any good drill, an adequate warning.

The Sign given not only showed the Scouts what was required, but it was also the signal to do it!  Hence the brightest moved first, and there was no unanimity of movement, which is the soul of smart drill.

The method here described was first used as a camp-fire item at Oslo, during the “Calgaric Cruise” in the Baltic.  A team of twelve Scouters volunyteered to be drilled by this method, and the success of the attempt prompted others to take it up.  I therefore offer it to Scouters and Guuiders generally as a new and successful method which I believe will prove worth trying.

The Signs I have suggested are a mixture of those taught at Gilwell, American Indian Sign Language, and some made up on the spur of the moment, usually good common sense, descriptive of the required action where possible.

Other Signs may be invented as desired, but keep them simple, and if possible descriptive.

It is interesting to compare the sign used for ‘form line,’ with the Indian sign for ‘soldiers’ in Ernest Thomas Seton‘s 1918 book, Sign Talk.  In the scout version, Baker has the hands held high to be seen more clearly.  Seton was a pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America.  That book was in turn heavily influenced by the U.S. general, Hugh L. Scott, who had learnt Indian signs from a Kiowa, I-See-O.  Click on the images for a larger size.
We have a copy of Seton’s book that is heavily annotated by Paget.

I think our copy of Silent Drill is pretty rare.

Weeding brings happy discoveries… International Games for the Deaf

Hugh Dominic WStiles2 February 2018

We are in the process of weeding our grey literature collection for the Action on Hearing Loss part of the collection.  There is a wealth of good material, but it is hidden beneath a mountain of old photocopies of articles, mostly of dubious worth to our holdings.  At one time the library catered many groups of people who were unable to use an academic library, so we had speech therapists as well as ENT doctors and teachers of the Deaf using the material.   The Ear Institute part of our Library covers ENT fully and comprehensively, while UCL’s Language and Speech Science Library covers speech and language, and the Institute of Education covers, well, education!  Therefore the Action on Hearing Loss collection focuses on Audiology, Sign Language, Deafness and related areas.

The sort of things we are removing are broadly old and never consulted articles about, among other things, aphasia, stuttering and speech problems, and voice, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Many of these are online now, or held in print form elsewhere.  In the process we are making happy discoveries, and we will gather some of the historical items into archive boxes to better preserve them.

As examples of what we have found, material that was indexed on the card catalogue but would have been hard to search for by topic, in 1958 George E. Robinson, Superintendent of Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society, donated programmes for four International Games for the Deaf, London (1935), Stockholm (1939), Brussels (1953), and Milan (1957).   These will now be put into an archive box together.

Top, the reverse of the Brussels programme, next the London programme showing the Prince of Wales who was patron of the games, then football teams in 1953 and the cover of the Brussels programme.

 

Hon. Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring, 1890-1937 – “Deafness and Happiness”

Hugh Dominic WStiles22 December 2017

Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring was a daughter of Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton.  In 1930 she wrote a booklet Deafness and Happiness, our copy being the 1935 reprint.  It was published by A.R. Mowbray, who produced religious and devotional books.  It is on vey good quality paper.  According to the short introduction by “A.F. Bishop of London” who seems to be Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, she was “afflicted in the heyday of her youth with almost total deafness” (p.iii).  Her photographic portrait is in the National Portrai Gallery collection, and a drawing of her is in the Royal Collection.

She was born in London in 1890.  She wrote her book with the encouragement of Winnington-Ingram.  Below is a page from the book which gives a flavour of its religious polemic.  It is certainly of interest to anyone who is fascinated by attitudes to deafness and how they have or have not changed over the years.

In 1936, Arthur Story wrote a letter to the BMJ about deafness.  Venetia Baring wrote a respose, echoing his words and developing her own ideas about deafness:

The helplessness of medical science where deafness is concerned is incontestable, and, as it is not of itself a menace to life, research into causes has suffered on financial grounds in comparison with other diseases. The complete lack of official understanding of deafness was painfully illustrated in the great war, when it was necessary for a few public-spirited individuals like the late Sir Frederick Milner to fight for the rights of deafened ex-Service men.  There are certainly signs that the medical profession is becoming increasingly alive to the fact that the monster is hydra-headed and that there are few mental and physical disorders to which it does not prove an open door unless intelligently handled.

From the last line of this letter we learn that she was “not born deaf, had acute hearing up to 19, and used no “aids” to nearly 30″ (ibid).

She died aged only 47 on the 15th of July, 1937, having suffered from serious illness before then.  Indeed, she added a chapter to the second edition of her book on ‘The Power and Use of Pain.’  “Science is working for the abolition of suffering; but it will never succeed, because, while sin exists, pain is inevitable and can even be a vital factor in the development of human personality.” (p.37)   She was clearly someone who had experienced pain and tried to work her own way through it.

It would be interesting to find out more about her.

Peerage.com

Baring, Venetia, The Deaf and the Blind Br Med J 1936; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.3934.1134 (Published 30 May 1936)