No, this isn’t a telescope, it’s a stethoscope. René Laennec (1781-1826) invented this device in 1816, as a way to solve the ethical dilemma of having to put his ear to the chest of a young woman patient. He started with a rolled up piece of paper to help him hear her heart and her breathing, but… Continue reading Le bruit de diable: gunpowder, tops and purring cats
Possibly my favourite historical figure of all time is Elizabeth Cellier, the ‘Popish Midwife’ who was involved in one of those complicated ‘plots’ of late seventeenth-century England; the ‘meal-tub plot’, in which a list of plotters turned up in her kitchen. Was it genuine, or planted by those who wanted to represent Roman Catholics as… Continue reading Midwifery and ventriloquism: did Elizabeth Cellier write her own books?