The general state of medical and chirurgical practice exhibited. . . .
Publisher Information: London: Almon... 1779.
Graham, James (1745-94). The general state of medical and chirurgical practice, exhibited. . . . 12mo. 248pp. London: Printed and sold by Mr. Almon . . . ,1779. 167 x 101 mm. Modern quarter morocco, marbled boards. Minor browning & foxing, a few stains, library stamps and markings on title and a few other leaves. Very good copy.
"Sixth edition," so styled. OCLC cites a fourth edition of 1778, and a 1776 pamphlet of 22 pages entitled A Short Inquiry into the Present State of Medical Practice, which may represent an earlier edition. OCLC also cites two other 1779 "sixth editions" with different paginations (x, 71, pp.; 71, , 37, pp.) and imprint reading "Printed and sold by all the principal booksellers in Great Britain."
The present edition includes a section entitled "A sketch: Or, short description of Dr. Graham's medical apparatus, &c., erected about the beginning of the year 1780. . . ," indicating that this edition may have been published later than its imprint date. Graham, one of the most notorious British quacks, studied medicine at Edinburgh but never qualified as a physician. He spent some time in America during his twenties, including two years in Philadelphia where he learned of Franklin's electrical experiments. He began touting electricity as a cure-all, particularly for sexual ailments, and upon his return to London in 1775 began to practice "electric medicine," quickly attracting a rich and fashionable clientele.
In 1779 Graham opened his celebrated "Temple of Health," where clients willing to pay the two-guinea entrance fee "could wander through ornately furnished rooms, breathe in the perfumed air, listen to music or hear Graham delivering lectures on health, buy medicines, inspect the 'medico-electrical apparatus,' or watch scantily-clad young women pose among the statues" (museumofhoaxes). One of these young women was Emma Lyon, destined to achieve a notoriety of her own as Emma Hamilton, wife of Sir William Hamilton and lover of the British naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson.
The highlight of the Temple of Health was Graham's electrified "Celestial Bed," where for an additional fifty pounds couples suffering from impotence or sterility could have their sexual and reproductive powers restored. "The bed was twelve feet long by nine wide and could be tilted so that it lay at various angles. The mattress was filled with 'sweet new wheat or oat straw, mingled with balm, rose leaves, and lavender flowers,' as well as hair from the tails of fine English stallions" (museumofhoaxes). Gartrell 213. Wellcome III, 144. Darnton, Mesmerism, pp. 15, 36. Book Id: 6012