Punch,  31 (1856), 13.

The Chaff of a Common Lawyer





Crime, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Mesmerism, Charlatanry, Miracle, Commerce

    Discusses a heated exchange between John Elliotson and Mr Clarkson, an Old Bailey barrister, during a manslaughter trial. In cross-examining Elliotson on the effect of prolonged exposure to a shower-bath (which evidently played a part in the death of the victim), Clarkson, in Punch's opinion, made an insulting allusion to Elliotson's interest in mesmerism. Noting that Elliotson, 'in common with many other men of science', believes in the reality of mesmeric phenomena, argues that 'whether Mesmerism is a fact or a delusion, Dr. Elliotson is, at any rate, a learned and skilful physician'. Thinks ridiculing Elliotson on this subject is like mocking John H Newman 'on the subject of miracles'. Suggests that Clarkson knew that Elliotson 'sacrificed fees to scientific enthusiasm [mesmerism]' but probably believed that anyone who sacrifices fees must be mad. Concludes by noting Elliotson's able response to somebody of 'the calibre of the inferior classes'.

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