Category: remedies


This is the only portrait that exists of the Count of Saint-Germain.

Sent to Frankfurt to represent Louis XV, Marshal de Belle-Isle was so active there and displayed such magnificence, that the Germans were slightly stunned…  In all ways, Monsieur the Duke had shown himself to be worthy of Superintendant Fouquet, his temerarious and unfortunate father-in-law.  So much so that the King of Prussia had been unable to stop himself from saying:

“It must be agreed that Marshal de Belle-Isle is Germany’s legislator!”

Alas!  A sudden reversal of fortune favourises his old enemy Maria-Theresa of Austria, against whom, like Cato the Ancient stubbornly working on Carthage’s destruction, he had succeeded in launching Europe’s armies.  So, here is this great captain abandoned by the Prussians, locked up in Prague and ordered to sound the retreat…  The Golden Fleece bestowed upon him in Frankfurt by Karl VII, who owed him his throne, is this evening a very poor protection against the stormy weather!   Freezing cold in his retreat, the Marshal is also suffering from atrocious rhumatisms which are attacking his lumbar region and all of his members.  Bitten by icy cold rain, and by the Central European gales even in his bed, he lives drugged, surrounded by a perpetual ballet of mediocre doctors, despairing of ever seeing the gentle climate of France again…  Then, one evening, he hears of a man who says that he is related to the House of Hesse and who, having learnt of his problems, claims to be able to cure him in five days.  In the necessity in which he finds himself, Belle-Isle has to try and, his back pressed against the damask of an armchair – his last luxury! – he receives this magician.

The unknown man orders him to lie down.  He imposes his hands on the Duke’s body and makes circles over it with a white jade wand.

The man of war wants to know what these mummeries are and whether he is trying to tie his laces.

The man wittily replies:

“Even the devil couldn’t tie such a temperament…  from what I’ve heard!  You are going to stop eating and take only three spoonfuls per day of this orgeat.  It’s an extract of emerald mixed with a few follicles of sene.”

“You want to kill me, Monsieur de Saint-Germain!”

“Drink up!  The greatest princes have confidence in me, and have had for a long time!  Anyway, I leave you this as security…”

The unknown man, who has good manners and is dressed with as much care as simplicity, places a round lacquered box on a table, bows gracefully and disappears.  When the Duke opens the box, he discovers, astounded, the glittering flames of rubies, topazes, emeralds and diamonds, three or four of which are at least ten carats each…

A few months later, after having saved the essential of his reputation and his armies, Marshal de Belle-Isle is back at Versailles.  He is very happy to have his feet close to some burning logs, far from draughts, finally behind his coromandel screens;  while, on his sofas, marquises are teary-eyed at the story of his exploits…

But in this December 1744, terrible news spreads through Versailles.  Madame de Chateauroux, Louis XV’s  gracious favourite, is dying, poisoned by a dish of mushrooms.

The Duke sends a lackey to fetch the Count de Saint-Germain.

Belle-Isle had been so pleased with the treatment given to him one year previously by his mysterious visitor, that he had brought him back with him to Paris and installed him in the Marais, of which he has rapidly become the toast.  Each day that passes increases his popularity and good society continues to discover his talents, the depth of which blows their minds…

Despite his accent, Monsieur de Saint-Germain speaks the most careful French, and those who have tested him more deeply in the language domain have been able to see that he speaks as well Italian, Spanish, English and Portuguese with confounding purety.  It is also known that he excellently touches the clavecin, but when he plays the violin, he becomes absolutely prodigious…

People sometimes wonder whether it is only one violin that he is holding in his hands and not two or three!  He is able to produce such sonorities that he makes crystal objects explode if care has not been taken to remove them.  Philidor assures that this is great Art, and the great Rameau himself maintains that his Preludes are incomparable.

But the Count has other talents.  Firstly, he paints almost as well as Latour or Van Loo.  But his vast compositions, whose subjects are marvellously like the originals, bathe in colours, the secret of which he knows, and whose brilliance and permanence are those of precious stones.  He explains the success of this new technique by his knowledge of chemistry and physics, and highly educated people, like the father of Madame de Genlis, have to admit that, in these matters, his knowledge is much greater than theirs…

Stung, they have sent scholars to him, but they have only been able to incline before his knowledge of the exact Sciences.  Discovering along the way that Monsieur de Saint-Germain is also extremely well-versed in the language of Homer and Virgil, and that he writes and speaks Sanskrit, Chinese and Arabic with a perfection that makes his claim of having spent a lot of time in Asia and the Orient easily believable.  But his Science can also render him amiable.  To the pretty women of the Court, he offers magic boxes.  By exposing them to the fire’s heat, the agatha which decorates them fades and leaves in its place a shepherdess carrying a basket of flowers.  If the lid is again heated, the stone reappears…  He also knows how to make delicious sweets, which have the form of fruits, and book-bindings, which he constellates with little precious stones.  For precious stones seem to flow from the hands of this scintillating man…  He carries them on him, dissimulating them with exquisite taste under ribbons and laces.  Nonetheless, if he is asked, he doesn’t hesitate to show them.  The other day, during a gala at Versailles, his garters, his shoe-buckles, his snuff-box in gold encrusted with diamonds of the finest water, passed among all of the pretty hands and Monsieur de Gontaut could not help saying:

“But there’s more than two hundred thousand francs worth here!”

To be continued.

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The stone in his bladder makes the Emperor suffer so much that being on horseback becomes real torture for him.

The first symptoms of the ill from which Napoleon III was to die, appear well before the 1870 war.

It is in 1840, at the Ham fortress where he was a prisoner, that Prince Louis seems to have felt the first signs of the affection which would only come to a head thirty years later.

In 1864 an urinary tract infection arrives.  Baron Larrey, an eminent doctor recounts:

“He felt in the night some accidents whose signs, well explained by himself, absolutely revealed for me, as they would have done for any other surgeon, the symptoms of a bladder stone.”.

Two years later, the catheterism practised by Doctor Guillon Snr, at Vichy, would confirm the diagnosis.

In August 1869, a violent attack occurs, longer than the preceding ones.  At this epoch, doctors’ visits multiply.  Once, Doctor Fauvel even spent a whole night at the castle.

Meanwhile, the newspapers publish the most contradictory notes.  The Opposition does not miss drawing atttention to them and making them a Party weapon.

The foreign Press, less held to discretion, does not hide the truth.  L’Independance belge publishes:

“A sound was practised and gave favourable results.”.

The Journal officiel, the organ of the Government and of the Emperor, continues, more or less on its own, to deny “these untrue rumours”, affirming that

“His Majesty’s rhumatismal pains had a tendancy to disappear”.

The popular version is indecisive.

Everyone wants to send the sick Emperor an infallible recipe for a cure.  The Germans distinguish themselves the most.  A certain Stoff, an assessor at Mitau College, affirms having been cured, at the age of 71, from a bladder catarrhe with an infusion of couch grass, which he recommends to the Emperor.

Samuel Betan, a book-keeper, offers a list of his remedies, of which this is the first:

“Have a horse’s tooth calcinated, prepare it with care and drink, in hot water, the quantity which can remain on the tip of a knife”.

Dommergue, at Ahrtweiler, recommends wine from Ahr for the Emperor’s health.

Rudolf, a stucator, writes that, in his family, illnesses of the bladder are hereditary, but that they possess the secret of a sovereign remedy against them.  He offers to send some or bring a bottle to Paris himself, and he counts on the patient’s gratitude.

A merchant by the name of Sirbul begs the Emperor to use slugs dried in an earthenware pot and pulverised.

***

In the Spring of 1870, it is decided to call upon a young Professor of the Faculty, Doctor Germain See.

The doctor is advised, in the greatest mystery, that he has to go to Saint-Cloud.  Upon arriving in his carriage at the Palace grille, the Concierge signs to the coachman to stop.  At the same time, Monsieur Pietri, a secretary, arriving at the grille, asks the Professor to alight from his carriage and to take a simple fiacre, which is waiting there on purpose.  This precaution is aimed at not letting the public know about the visit of a Professor of the Faculty.

The same thing had been done a few years earlier.  Ricord relates:

“The first time that I was called to the Tuileries, no-one knew of my visit, because the Palace envoy was received by me alone, that same morning, and, a few minutes later, I went to the Palace.  However, the Stock Exchange dropped that day, on the simple news of my visit, news spread by I don’t know whom.”.

***

Doctor Barre has conserved for us, in terms of great fidelity, the physionomy of this interview.  Upon arriving in the Emperor’s study, Doctor See is struck by the sight of an immense desk, on which there are several test-tubes filled with urine.  The Emperor confirms that the urine is his.

The diagnosis is established in the Professor’s mind:  the Emperor has a stone.

The doctor examines his patient with care, however, palpates him, auscultates him attentively, but, apart from the bladder, he finds no appreciable lesion.  Although he is a fervent Republican, Germain See is invited to lunch at the Palace.

After the meal, in the Empress’ presence, the conversation continues between the Emperor and his guest.

“Briefly, Doctor, what illness do you find in me?  Do I have a heart or marrow infection, as it is said everywhere, every day?”

“Sire, nothing like that.  Only the bladder is touched, but I would like to consult with some specialist colleagues about it.”

***

The consultation is decided for 1st July.  The doctors called are Doctors Nelaton, Ricord, Fauvel, See and Corvisart.  The names of Doctors Conneau, Rayer, Bouillaud, Michel Levy have been mistakenly cited.  The document that Doctor Cabanes saw, and which was published by L’Union medicale on 9 January 1873, leaves no doubt about that.

The diagnosis and the treatment are fixed by common accord, despite the divergencies which could have occurred during the deliberation.  Professor See, as the youngest of the doctors present, claims the honour of writing up the consultation.  Doctor Conneau is invited to have it signed by all the consultants and to communicate it to the Empress.

Here are the conclusions of this important document:

“An illness, characterised by these three phenomena:  (1)  Repeated haematuria;  (2)  purulent urines for about three years, with more or less defined alternatives;  (3)  frequent dysuria, characterised by the spasm or by the inertia of the bladder, can only be connected to a calculous pyelocystitis…

“This is why we consider necessary the catheterism of the bladder for exploratory purposes, and we think that the moment is propitious, because there is at this moment no extreme phenomenon.”

***

Did Doctor Conneau accomplish his double mission:  have the consultation signed by all of the doctors who had been present and communicate the document to the Empress?  We are now in the domain of conjecture.  Doctor Conneau energetically denied having kept to himself a document whose importance he appreciated.

When the original copy of the 1st July consultation is found in the Emperor’s papers, Prince Napoleon is supposed to have sharply challenged the poor doctor, who timidly replied with bowed head:

“I showed the document to those I should have at the time.”

“And what was said to you?”

“It was said:  the wine is drawn, it must be drunk.”

Spoken by this faithful servant of the Empire, these words, if they were true, would constitute the most damning deposition against the Empress.  In any case, it seems unlikely a priori that the Empress was the only one to be ignorant of that which ten people at least were able to repeat.

***

It has also been affirmed that Doctor Conneau had kept the secret so as not to trouble the Emperor and Empress at such a time by informing them of a diagnosis whose conclusions seemed much too alarmist to him.  Couldn’t it simply be that, because Conneau didn’t like See, he did not want, with Nelaton’s agreement, to make public a document which showed the clairvoyance of a man, whose rapid ascension made him jealous?  Therefore, the Emperor might not have known, in 1870, that he had a stone.  It could be only later, at Chislehurst, that this diagnosis is revealed to him.

***

To be continued.

The Egyptians used hallucinogenic plants which permitted out-of-body travelling.

Bob Rame, a New York businessman of forty-four, is persecuted by frequent, violent migraines.  One day when he is in his firm’s laboratory, he accidentally breathes ether.  This makes him a bit drowsy but also relieves the pain.  As his migraines also prevent him from sleeping, he gets into the habit of taking a little dose of ether each evening.

Soon, however, reports his doctor, the famous Doctor Puharich, his sleep is accompanied by strange phenomena.  He has the very clear sensation of leaving his body, rising above himself and seeing himself in the position that he was at the moment of going to sleep…  a bit like standing on your balcony and watching yourself pass by in the street, which is what the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte had already decreed was impossible.

Our man at first thinks that he is dreaming.  He attributes to the ether the fact that his dreams allow him to traverse walls and rise to float above the roof of his house.

He is not at all troubled by the fact that during all of these exercises he has the impression of being perfectly lucid.

For nine months, Bob Rame continues using this far from banal therapy:  a whiff of ether, sleep, then the liberation of his body and wandering weightless in the air.  Finally waking, with the slightly disappointing sensation of being obliged to dress again in his garment of flesh.

And then one day, he has his liberating “hallucination” without the help of ether.

And it’s a lot better.

Now he can rise into the air until he no longer distinguishes the rooves of houses, and then plunge into the depths, still keeping the same impression of lucidity and control over all his faculties.

***

One day, after a voyage which appears to him to be unusually long, he finds himself in a dark place with several unknown faces bending over him.  In his head, astonishment is replaced by horror when he sees that these people appear to be very happy to see him wake up…  As if they had helped a dying man recover consciousness…  At the same time, he feels strong pain in his body.  He tries to cry out:  “I’m not who you think I am”, but he can’t.

Another time, he wakes up in the body of a drunkard whom his drinking companions are taking back home.

The very serious Doctor Puharich then proposes an experiment to him.

Boris, a friend of Rame, has fallen seriously ill.  Doctor Puharich suggests that Rame attempt to fly towards Boris, towards his villa, surrounded by a garden and situated on a neighbouring hill.  One afternoon, after having assured himself that Boris is in his bed, watched by his wife Lomar, Rame attempts the experiment.

He enters fairly rapidly into a trance, and at twenty-five past four exactly, he is above the villa.

Surprise:  Lomar comes out followed by her husband.  Still very conscious, Rame tells himself that has just proven the mistaken inconsistency of his dream.  Boris is in his bed.  He reports later:

“As they were coming towards me, I tried to draw their attention by some sign, but with no result”.

He has plenty of time to see that Boris is wearing an overcoat and a hat and that Lomar is dressed in a black skirt and jacket and a red jumper.  Before waking, Rame also sees Lomar open the garage door and the couple’s car leave.

Later, when he recounts it, Rame’s entourage is of course disappointed.

However, Puharich proposes telephoning Boris to make an exact comparison between the dream and reality.

Lomar answers and Rame asks her what she was doing between four and five.  She replies that she had gone to the Post Office.  On foot?  By car.  What time?  Around twenty or twenty-five past four.  Boris was in bed?  Not at all.  As it was a fine day, he had wanted to go out for a while.  Lomar had made him put on an overcoat and hat, but the little trip had tired him out.  How was Lomar dressed?  In a black suit with a red jumper, why?

***

Russian shaman from the XVIIIth Century with his ritual tambourin.

All the primitive cultures in Africa, Polynesia, northern Asia are founded on the existence of the “shaman”, this man, who is a sorcerer, a priest and a doctor, all at the same time, and who has the faculty of leaving his body and sending his “double”, his “soul”, or “spirit” to great distances.

***

It is true that drugs can play a role.  The Mongols and the Ancient Egyptians used a poisonous mushroom, the fly agaric, to translate to prophetic hallucination, and peyote, a poison drawn from a cactus, still serves the same purpose among certain Mexican Indians.

***

In Christian tradition, Christ was transported onto a high mountain on the Devil’s wings, but does without him for other “apparitions” in unexpected places.  Drugs do not appear anywhere in Christian tradition or practice.

On the other hand, strange manifestations of mysticism do.  On this subject, Catherine of Sienna’s powers are often cited, or the more recent case of Padre Pio, the Italian monk, who died in 1968.  Very numerous witness statements indicate that Padre Pio “travelled” outside his body and that he sent his “double” or something like it, to people who distinctly saw it.  Very serious accounts abound:  those of the Archbishop of Salto, Monsignor Barbieri, those of General Cadorna who, in 1917, lost the Battle of Caporetto against the Austro-Germans.

Victor Hugo was once seen by several honorable people walking for a long time in a Jersey square while other equally serious witnesses assure that he had never left his desk.  It is true that Hugo was an enlightened spiritist.

***

Let us go back to the three cases presented.  All three show striking similarity:  the three people appear to be in perfect control of their intellectual capacities.  In any case, none of them is “mad” or dishonest.

Parsus insists on the extraordinary appearance of reality in his dream.  Pat remains perfectly lucid the whole time of her “voyage” in Germany and even shows criticism of her own comportment.

As for Rame, all through his voyages, he has the impression of always remaining perfectly conscious and attentive.  He is capable of thinking, of being surprised, of asking questions and, apart from the “illusion” that he is moving in the air, he is the victim of no fantasmagory, no deformation of facts or things…

***

To be continued.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) only leaves her state of prostration on 8 July 1857, to welcome the Prussian sovereigns.  King Frederic-Wilhelm is in an excellent mood, although a little too agitated because of his hypertension, and Queen Maria, sister to the princesses Sophia, Archduchess of Austria, and Ludovika, Duchess in Bavaria, is happy to see her niece.  At the end of the month, the marriage of the Emperor’s brother, Ferdinand-Maximilien, to Charlotte of Saxe-Coburg makes the family rejoice.  The Archduchess welcomes her new daughter-in-law with “very maternal” grace.  Sissi and Franz-Josef do everything to make their new sister-in-law feel at home.  Charlotte, daughter of the King of the Belgians, is judged to be charming and delicious.

In October, the King of Prussia suffers an attack which takes away his speech and obliges him to entrust the administration of the kingdom to his brother, Prince Wilhelm.  Franz-Josef is worried:  until now, definitive rupture with Prussia has been avoided.  What will happen now?

The Empress’ worries appear to be continual for, since her daughter’s death, a divergence with Doctor Seeburger has been added to the conflict with her mother-in-law.  Sissi had asked for his removal, Sophia had obtained that he remain.  The Empress is suffering from an exostosis, a little benign tumour, on her hand.  Seeburger proposes an infallible treatment, place on it two twenty-crown silver coins, bind the hand very tightly and hope that the exostosis is reduced by the pressure of the coins.  This therapy reveals itself to be worse that the ill, Sissi suffers even more.  After two days of patience, she throws away the strange dressing.  Seerburger is decidedly still just as useless…

November.  News runs through the Hofburg and in Vienna:  the Empress is again pregnant.  Secretly, Elisabeth prays that the child she is carrying be a son.  Her pregnancy continues normally, under her mother-in-law’s attentive surveillance.

When Summer arrives, Sissi settles at Laxenburg.  At Dawn on 21 August 1858, three days after Franz-Josef’s twenty-eighth birthday, she enters into labour, a lot more violent than for her preceding deliveries.  All day, the Empress suffers.  The Archduchess, arriving from Vienna, has the Holy Sacrament exhibited in the Palace’s chapel, before sitting in silence in her daughter-in-law’s bedchamber.  The whole of Lazenburg is in prayer, and Vienna, where the heat is appalling, holds its breath.

At a quarter-past-ten in the evening, Sissi is delivered.  Her screams had terrified the Archduchess, and Countess Esterhazy, kneeling near her bed, imploring divine grace.  Sissi is exhausted and very pale.  She asks the question with anguish, in a weak voice:

“Is it a boy?…”

Franz-Josef is crying.

“So, it’s another girl,”

Sissi sighs, crushed.

But the Emperor’s tears are tears of joy and emotion.  He mumbles and begins by saying:

“We don’t know yet!”

In his confusion, Franz-Josef has forgotten that it is a boy.  The Imperial Crown has an heir.  God be praised!  At the height of happiness, the Emperor detaches the Collar of the Golden Fleece from his chest and places it on the little boy.  The future is there, hope now has a first name, Rudolf, the fourth Habsburg to bear the name since the XIIIth Century.  In his veins flows the blood of two of the oldest royal families of Europe.

In Vienna, a hundred-and-one cannon salute shakes the sleeping city.  Enthusiasm flows through the streets.  Archduchess Sophia declares that never has a child been welcomed with so much joy.  Franz-Josef, who refuses to admit that the child is weak, finds him strong and magnificently proportioned.  And he names him Colonel of the 19th Infantry Regiment.  Therefore, Rudolf is immediately consecrated to a military life.

Sissi is tired.  But what secret joy, what revenge!  The pamphlet destined for Marie-Antoinette no longer haunts her, and her personal position at Court is reinforced.

Princess Sophia, Archduchess of Austria.

For the baptism, Franz-Josef gives her a four-strand pearl necklace.  The Archduchess and her spouse give Sissi the necklace and earrings in turquoise that Sophia had received at the birth of Franz-Josef, twenty-eight years earlier.  Unfortunately, the Archduchess considers that she must closely watch over the baby, the heir to the Empire.  The Empress’ inconsequences, her strange ideas which already hardly suit the education of the Princesses, are to be absolutely excluded from that of the future emperor.  So, Elisabeth finds herself submitted to increased tension.  The first conflict about Rudolf concerns his feeding.  Sissi has the “extravagant” idea of wanting to breast-feed her son herself.  But the fever does not leave her.  A nurse replaces the Empress, to the Archduchess’ great satisfaction.   Sissi’s disequilibrium becomes worse.  Helpless, weakened, her only recourse is Franz-Josef.  Alas, the Emperor is taken up with politics.  Once more, a storm is brewing over Europe.

In filigrane to the Paris Treaty, Russia, humiliated, is concocting revenge.  The man who holds the key to the new imbroglio is Napoleon III.  Behind his veiled gaze and his apparent distraction, the Emperor of the French nourishes a dream:  to organize a new Italy.  Napoleon I’s great-nephew is having trouble accepting that Vienna reigns over Milan and Venice, and keeps garnisons in the duchies of Tuscany, Modena and Parma.  This attachment of the Lombardo-Venitian States to the Habsburgs is a living reminder of the Congress of Vienna and the collapse of Imperial France.

Napoleon III has reflected on what he can do.  Unity of the northern and southern Italian States is still premature.  On the other hand, the creation of a Federation after the expulsion of Austria is envisageable.  Saint Petersburg completely agrees with Paris.  The enemies of Sebastopol become conspirators on the same side.  Berlin follows with delectation the community of views between Paris and Russia.  As for London, the Crimean adventure has cooled her European pretensions.  Diplomatically speaking, England has become an island again.

For the Tsar in Saint Petersburg and Bismarck in Berlin, war against Austria is desirable.  For Napoleon III, it is a necessity.  Without transforming the Mediterranean into “a French lake”, the annexing of Nice and the Savoie would be a stroke of genius.

On 21 July 1858, exactly one month before the birth of Rudolf, France promises to send two hundred thousand men to Italy if Austria commits an act of aggression.

Cavour, satisfied, remarks:

“We have backed Austria into an impasse from which I defy it to be able to extricate itself without firing its cannons.”

The fire can be ignited, all that is missing is the spark.

To be continued.

 

Hippocrates and Galien, portraits from "Oeuvres" by Ambroise Pare (1582).

Hippocrates was of Dorian origin.  His family came from Thessaly which is confirmed by several clues:  his name, which means “horse trainer” (Thessaly was the only region of Greece where horses were bred), the fact that he named one of his sons “Thessalos” and that his father was called Heracleid, a Dorian name.  More important, and also more delicate, is the question of knowing how Hippocrates elaborated his revolutionary conception of the medical art.  He received diverse influences from his family, Babylonian influences but also Indo-Germanic and Indo-Aryen.  From this, he kept a whole “magico-empiric” tendency.  Delving further into the question of the origins of Hippocratic Medicine, Charles Lichtenthaeler observes that Hippocrates could not have neglected the contributions of the pre-Socratic philosophers, and that he in fact took certain fundamental notions from them.  For example,

“the spiritual father of fluxion and catarrh is not Hippocrates but Empedocles of Agrigente (around 495-435) and one has the right to think that the four humours defined by Hippocrates – blood, phlegm, bile and atrabile – are born from the analogy with Empedocles’ four elements:  air, water, fire, earth”.

Like all innovators of genius, Hippocrates dipped into his immediate environment.  He observed the doctors who looked after the gymnasium athletes;  he interested himself in the specialists who had to draw up healthy, balanced menus for both well and sick people.  After having carefully studied the therapeutic actions of his time, he questioned them and proposed his own.  He begins by taking into consideration the patient’s environment, by studying the geology, the configuration, the cardinal orientation of the place;  then Hippocrates determines the type of climate to which his patient is submitted;  he then connects the illness and the seasons, the volume of precipitations and the temperature.  It is like this that he concludes that epidemics are ruled by the rhythm of the seasons.  But Hippocrates’ great contribution is to have demonstrated the existence of four primary temperaments in the human species:  the sanguine, the flegmatic, the coleric and the melancolic.  Once the patient’s temperament is recognized, Hippocrates is able to guess how the illness will evolve.  This is how he makes morale intervene in medical prognosis, with, for the first time, this affirmation which has not been refuted since:

“He who wants to heal gets better faster, he who loses all hope worsens the prognosis.”

***

Using the Egyptian and Mesopotamian contributions, Hippocrates draws up a systematic table – a nosology – of the illnesses which he repertories starting from their clinical symptoms.  But, by removing all magical and demonic intervention, Hippocrates is the first to look at the malady from the point of view of its external clinical signs.  Unfortunately, the Hippocratic pathology is less commendable and, visibly, the roles of the brain, lungs, heart, liver and kidneys are perfectly unknown.  Which doesn’t prevent Hippocrates from being right when he attempts to treat catarrh, rhumatisms and malaria.

However, the most admirable thing about Hippocrates is his humanity, his infinite patience, his attitude toward the patient.  This attitude is not only the fruit of ethical reflection, it also obeys the wish to make the attending doctor more efficient.  It is by minute observation that the process of treatments, and healing where possible, begins.  Hippocrates therefore observes all his patients, notes the symptoms and then tries to draw synthetic conclusions which he groups together in his works.  Here is how he reports the evolution of a malignant fever in a certain Philistes:

“At Thasos, Philistes had had a headache for a long time, sometimes he even fell into a carus [coma];  he went to bed.  After drinking, a continuous fever having been lit, the headache became worse.  Firstly, he felt the heat during the night.  On the first day, he vomitted bilious matters in small quantities, firstly yellow, then eruginous [rust-coloured] and in greater abundance.  He then rendered solid excrements.  Difficult night.  The second day, deafness, high fever, right hypocondra tense and retracted, urines scarce, diaphanous […]  He had a furious delirium around the middle of the day.  The third day was difficult.  The fourth day, spasms;  everything was exasperated.  The fifth day in the morning, he died.” (Epidemics III, from the French translation by C. Daremberg).

Hippocratic therapy reposes on four fundamental principles which are still worthy of meditation:

  –  “be useful or at least do not harm”;

  –  “combat the ill by its contrary”;

  –  “measure and moderation”;

  –  “each thing in its time”.

Hippocrates had no illusions about his capacities and did not claim to heal all illnesses.  His precept:  “be useful or at least do not harm” even appears rather discouraging, and in its time scandalised the most gifted of Hippocrates’ successors, Galien of Pergamo, who lived in the IInd Century of our era.  But Littre, proceeding to the modern edition of Hippocrates’ writings, estimed that these were

“grave and modest words where one discovers, when one penetrates them, a deep sense and useful teaching”.

***

The Romans, who had no serious medical tradition – old Roman Medicine took its remedies from the Etruscans, visibly more gifted in divination and magic than in a clinical approach -, greatly appreciated Greek doctors.  As early as the Ist Century before the present era, a certain Aesclepiade acquired great celebrity by treating his rich clients with massages, hydrotherapy and dietary advice, but it is Galien who gave all its brilliance to the Hippocratic teaching, on which he delivered a very prolix and very scholarly commentary.  What survives of this work contains no less than nineteen thousand pages.  It is difficult to separate his personal observations from those attributed by him to Hippocrates.  But, as they are, his reports constitute a highly colourful description of the Roman medical universe.  One learns the effects of wine on sleep, how to get rid of an elephantiasis, how to treat gladiators’ wounds, what sort of colics were suffered by the Emperor Marcus-Aurelius and how Galien cured them…  Only one regret:  that he had succeeded in treating the tonsilitis of the young Commodus, son of Marcus-Aurelius, for if he had not survived the operation, he would have spared the Antonius Dynasty from ending in bloody buffooneries.

Not very inventive in comparison to the Greeks, the doctors of the Roman epoch at least had the merit of generalising the use of anaesthetics when operating.  They mostly used mandragora.

***

The Greek or Roman Medicines, or even more ancient ones, have not disappeared.  Kept in the memories of the monasteries of the High Middle Ages or transmitted by the Byzantines and the Muslims, they came down to us, and still serve for medical reflection.

***

Medicine at the Time of the Pharaohs

If our knowledge of Mesopotamian Medicine is obviously full of holes, that of the Egyptians is much better known to us.  We have many, copious sources.  The most remarkable is uncontestably the papyrus baptised Ebers, the name of the Egyptologist who bought it from peasants-tomb robbers in 1872.  This papyrus dates from the beginning of the XVIIth Dynasty but it copies several older texts which have not come down to us.  These passages go back to the Ancient Empire (2800-2300 before the present era).  Because of this, the Ebers Papyrus can be considered as one of the oldest in the world, if not the oldest.  It is twenty metres long and comports no fewer than one hundred and eight pages of remedies.  We have here a sort of medical dictionary constructed according to a real plan, but where, from our point of view, the best and worst are side by side.

Another major, even capital, source:  The Edwin-Smith Papyrus, bought in 1862 by an American archeologist.  It measures 4.68 metres and is entirely consecrated to traumatic pathology analysed in forty-eight chapters.  It dates from the XVIIIth Dynasty.  For Ange-Pierre Leca, it is a model of its type which admirably anticipates Hippocrates’ medical treatises.  He exposes:

“Here, there is no black magic, but facts of an astonishing, clinical observation, no mysterious malady where incantation often takes the place of a remedy, but well-observed lesions, correctly described, to which were applied physical treatments.”

The language is that of today’s clinicians.  Circumspection is the rule, diagnosis is drawn from attentive observation of the symptoms.  Here is one example:

“If you examine a man having an open wound in his head, penetrating right to the bone and perforating his cranium, you must palpate his wound;  if you find him incapable of looking at his two shoulders and his chest, if his neck is painful and stiff… “

The treatment follows:

“Now, after having stitched it, you must apply fresh meat on the wound on the first day.  You must not bind it […]  You must then treat it with fat, honey and dress it each day… “

The great Medicine historian, Charles Lichtenthaeler, does not hide his admiration.  For him, the Edwin-Smith Papyrus is the first known document to class in good order all of the illnesses and traumatisms, according to the schema “from the head to the feet”.  The presentation of today’s medical manuals derives from this classification invented in Egypt, thousands of years ago.  He also points out that the Egyptian practicians were the first to highlight the causal relations between the clinical phenomena..  He cites this particularly pertinent observation of that which we call paraplegia:

“If you examine a man having a luxation in a vertebra of the neck and if you find that he can no longer control his two arms and his two legs because of this, while his penis is in erection because of this and that urine is falling from his member without him being aware of it…  You will say about him:  a man who has a luxation in the vertebra of his neck [this is] a malady for which we can do nothing.”

Apart from the Ebers Papyrus and the Edwin-Smith Papyrus which constitute major references in Egyptian Medicine, there are other sources which are more minor for they are specialised (in gynaecology, proctology, paediatrics) or very encumbered by medico-magical formulae, which reduce their interest, at least in our eyes.  For, from the Egyptians’ point of view, Magical Medicine was extremely important and exercised a seduction that was very much superior to the Empiric Medicine prescribed by the Edwin-Smith Papyrus.  But there again, we must not imagine that there was a distinct separation of the two.  In the same way that today, we can entrust the disappearance of our warts, either to the healer or the dermatologist, so could the Egyptian patient call upon either the doctor or the healer, both competences sometimes melting into one and the same person.

The magical action obeyed the homeopathic precept:

“Same attracts same”.

Therefore, an illness diagnosed as a cancer of the uterus, where the odour of the tumour smells like burnt flesh, was treated by fumigations of burnt meat…  Another action could guide the therapist:  that which sees in the illness the incrustation of demons inside the organism which must be chased out, in particular by incantations recited by the patient himself, his doctor, his family, his servants, and repeated according to a magical number, four or seven times.  Here are a few samples:

“Flow onto the ground, pus!  Flow onto the ground!”

“Disappear, larva which comes in the dark, which slyly enters through the nose […]  Have you come to embrace this child?  I will not permit you to embrace him… !”

“Turn back, serpent, take away your poison which is in the member of him whom you have bitten.  See, Horus’ magical virtue is stronger than yours!”

To chase away demons, they counted a lot on amulets which preserved from illness.  The most common are the ankh cross, the djed pillar, the oudjat eye, the knot of Isis…  All amulets which can be found in abundance in funeral furniture.  They do not prevent recourse to a pharmacopoeia based on diverse dejections of donkey, snake, lizard, hippopotamus, crocodile or ibis which act by “sympathetic magic”.  These excrements are supposed to push the illness which is devouring the patient, out of his body.  Such is the meaning of this exhortation:

 “Oh death, death, disguised, hidden, which resides inside my body, in my members!  Here, I bring you excrements to eat!”

To safeguard their health, all Egyptians placed themselves under the protection of divinities to whom they assigned a specific role:  Bes, the grotesque dwarf brought protection and comfort to him who was sleeping;  Thoueris, the goddess-hippopotamus concerned pregnant women;  Hekket, the goddess with the frog’s head provoked successful births…  But it is Horus who was the most frequently used:  it was enough to drink water in which the ink of a magical formula had been dissolved, or which had flowed over a stela representing Horus surrounded by crocodiles, serpents and scorpions, to be cured of one illness or another, or to be protected from bites and stings.

***

To be continued.

Alongside all the exorcist therapy, which became more and more complex over the centuries, the Mesopotamians elaborated an Empiric Medicine.  For example, they established a very meticulous, even finicky, list of symptoms with their appropriate therapies.  The Treatise of Medical Diagnoses and Prognoses studied by the French Assyriologist, R. Labat, offers no fewer than five to six thousand lines of text, distributed over forty or so tablets, of which at least half have come down to us.  It seems that nothing was left to chance.  For the nose alone, Labat draws up an impressive catalogue of infections:

“If the patient’s nose is bleeding […];  If the tip of his nose is wet […];  if the tip of his nose is yellow […];  if the tip of his nose has a red rash […];  if the tip of his nose has a white rash […];  if the tip of his nose has a red and white rash […];  if the tip of his nose has a black rash […]”

The enumeration of the symptoms is followed by the remedies to treat them.  They are indicated very briefly.  They precede the prognosis which is declared fatal or favourable.  The Mesopotamian pharmacopoeia known to us comports no fewer than two hundred and fifty medicinal plants, one hundred and twenty substances of medical origin and a good hundred of animal origin.  The remedies are usually absorbed with water, beer or palm wine.  Special jars with filters have been found, which were used for macerations or infusions.  But the medications were also absorbed or applied in the form of suppositories, enemas, ointments or collyria.  Certain illnesses seem to have been very well identified, such as paludism [malaria] with its

“recurring attacks, during which the patient alternatively presents accesses of fever, then chills and perspiration:  after which, he feels a sensation of heat in all his members, then is again taken with a strong fever, which then gives place to new chills and new perspiration…”,

or again epilepsy:

“If the person, while walking, suddenly falls forwards, keeping his eyes dilated, without them returning to their normal state, and if he is also incapable of moving his arms and legs:  it is the beginning of an attack of epilepsy…”

The medical act which combines the religious ceremony, the prescription and execution of treatment, is imprinted with great solemnity.  If it is to treat a high-ranking person, the priest doctor, dressed in ritual clothes, moves in procession in the company of “demons”, a choir and kettledrums, whose sound is supposed to chase away evil spirits;  the servants and family of the patient bring up the rear.  Once cured, the patient must pay homage to his doctor.  With praises formulated like this:

“He made the illness-demon, which was enveloping him in its outspread wings, flee.  He dispersed the ill which was hurting him.  He changed the man’s sufferings into joy;  he placed near him benefactory genies as guardians and tutors.”

Mesopotamian doctors formed a social corps with very high status.  They composed a whole hierarchy, at the top of which could be found the First Doctor to the King, himself.  Hammourabi’s Code (1750 before the present era) mentions the reglementation imposed on doctors.  Assimilating them to priests, it makes them practically untouchable and irresponsible.  However, Articles 215 to 240 are a lot stricter for the inferior categories of the medical corps, particularly the galfabu, or barbers, who practised minor surgery on the eyes, teeth, broken bones, war wounds.  There, the Code draws up sanctions as well as remunerations:

“If a barber has treated a free man for a serious wound with a bronze lancet, and if the man is cured;  if he has opened the cloud of the eye [cataract] of a man with the bronze lancet, and if the eye is cured, he will receive ten sicles of silver…”

What must we conclude about this Mesopotamian Medicine?  Good clinical observations, an attempt at classification, an attempt (still awkward though) to establish certain causal relations, an empiric pharmacopoeia which is already very complete.  But the Mesopotamians remain attached to a magical and expiatory conception of illness.  They attach extreme importance to rituals which have no chance of bettering the patient’s condition.

Despite everything, how can we not admire the contents of the Treatise of Medical Diagnoses and Prognoses which we have already mentioned?  This is a document in which the empiric approach supplants magic, and proposes an approach which can be qualified as rational, with no risk of anachronism.

***

To be continued.

In Mesopotamian Medicine, magico-religious therapy is the work of the ashipu, or exorcists, who pass after the baru, or soothsayers, have finished with their patients, once they have determined the nature of the offence and the identity of the offended god, which is the cause of the illness.  Ashipu is an Akkadian term which means “conjuror of ills” or “purifier of sullage”.  It is this conjuror who ritually proceeds to the expulsion of the malady, the dimitu, which has, as a tablet says, “risen from Hell”.  To cure his patient, the exorcist has recourse to prayer, sacrifice or magic.  The prayers are addressed to the divinities reputed for their power, omniscience, or else for their healing powers.  It is frequent to invoke several at once and even to provoke their confrontation.  The health of mortals can be the subject of discussion among the gods.  For example, between Marduk and his father Ea, a text reports:

“Marduk, when he saw him [the patient] in this state, went to find his father Ea, described to him the patient’s condition and said to him: “I don’t know what this man did to find himself afflicted in this way and I don’t know how to cure him!’  But Ea answered his son:  ‘You know everything!  What could I tell you, since you know as much as I do?’ “

Ea, Marduk, but also Shamash, Gula and Ishtar.  Here is an invocation to Gula and Marduk:

“May the divine healer Gula, who is capable of giving life to the dying, cure him by touching him with her hand!  And you Marduk, the compassionate one, pronounce the formula that will liberate him from his suffering, so that he will be completely pulled from danger!”

As for Ishtar, the exorcist is even more prolix, he flatters her in every way:

“Oh you, the light of the skies and of the Earth, the splendour of the whole world, oh you, the one enraged in fighting, powerful and irresistable in attacking […]  Goddess of the unsoundable, when you lower your gaze onto them, the dead come back to life, the sick rise […]  It is you that I invoke, I your servant, tracked and tortured by pain.  Look at me, Goddess, accept my supplication, look at me and listen to my prayer.  May your grace manifest itself, and may your anger be calmed.  Accord your grace to my feeble, sick body, to my tormented heart, full of tears and sighs… “

After the prayer, and if it is not sufficient, there is the sacrifice, considered here as a curative practice.  The sacrificed animal works like an offering to the god who is supposed to have been offended, and as a liberating transfer, for by substituting itself for the sinner, it assumes his punishment…

Magic intervenes a lot less than has been said.  But if it does, it is always in its double form:  white, for the patient’s good by seeking to exorcise the demon, and black with the aim of harming the patient by provoking the aggravation of his illness.  To neutralise the effect of black magic, it is possible to have recourse to a whole ritual based on figurines made from combustible matter, identified by the formulae addressed to the author of the spell.  To be liberated, the figurines must be thrown into the fire while ritual formulae of this type are pronounced:

“Ardent fire, bellicose gods of Heaven.  You, the most ruthless of your brothers, who judges quarrels as an equal of the Moon and the Sun, be my champion, dictate the sentence.  Destroy the man and the woman who have bewitched me […] consume them, oh fire!  Reduce them to ashes, oh fire!”

The prescriptions ordered by the gods are rather disconcerting for the patients, and the exorcist who transmits them must supervise their rigorous execution.  Here is one, which is rather hermetic:

“Here is what must be done to cure him:  you must take seven loaves of bread made from coarse flour and you must attach them together with bronze.  Then you must rub this man with them, and make him spit on the debris which fall from them while pronouncing over him a “Formula of the Eridu”, the whole after having taken him into the steppe, in a lonely place, at the foot of a wild acacia.  You will then give the ill which has struck him to Nim-Edinna, so that Nin-Kilim, the patron saint of little, wild rodents,will make these take on his illness.”

Here, the loaves of bread are supposed to recuperate the illness.  It is then enough for the patient to abandon the crumbs to the rodents of the steppe, to be healed.

***

To be continued.

The King is physically very weak, and the donkey milk that he absorbs daily is not sufficient to make him more vigorous.  His mind has almost ceased to wander but his nerves remain very fragile.  Therefore he flies off the handle at the slightest contrariety and still seems incapable of concentrating.  Further, his reactions remain totally unpredictable.  There he is, crying like a child, when suddenly, he can be heard to laugh out loud.  He whispers, murmurs affable words, and suddenly he becomes angry, vociferates, fulminates.  However, it is true that his health is improving.  The Willises soon judge their patient sufficiently serene to indicate in the official health bulletin of 11 March 1801, which is also the last one:

“The fever [that is to say, the delirium] has totally left His Majesty, but as is usual after such a serious illness, his perfect recovery requires a relatively long convalescence.”

On 14 March 1801, the King meets ex-Prime Minister William Pitt for the first time since February, and shows him great kindness.  He is very moved to again see the man who had been his Prime Minister for eighteen years.  Pitt is also filled with joy, but something uncomfortable remains between the two men.  Both of them are obviously unable to forget in what circumstances George III has fallen ill.  And this is even greater as the infamous Reverend Thomas Willis, fanatically hostile to the Project of Law on the emancipation of the Catholics, has for a long time interpreted the political quarrel between the King and his Prime Minister as the principal cause of the royal “fever”.  George III alludes to it, but hastens to indicate that he now feels perfectly capable of again taking direction of the Affairs of State.

On 17 March, two weeks after having come out of his coma, George III presides the Privy Council.  Its date had been set for weeks and, for constitutional reasons, it had been impossible to change it to a later date.  The King assumes his function with great ease.  However,  when he has to speak privately with each of the Council members, his strength abandons him.  He admits that he is feeling so tired that he has to moderate his ardour for the task.  This incident supports the Willises’ theory that the King is not yet ready to fully assume his responsibility as a sovereign, and must imperatively take more rest.

It is true that George III still has a very rapid pulse and his insomnias and his constipation have not been cured.  But, above all, the Willis brothers have acquired a taste for power and are not ready to renounce their new vice.  For weeks, they had exercised complete control over the sovereign’s person, as well as over all his relations with the outside world.  For weeks, they had held Prime Minister Henry Addington and his Ministers in their power.  For weeks, they had become the real masters of the nation, and in their own eyes, the masters of the world.  So it is in their interest to prolong George III’s convalescence for as long as possible, while making credible the paradox of a King who is both cured and incapable.  To do this, they argue the fact that a partial recovery of the sovereign alone, can engender a new phase of delirium, whose catastrophic consequences are easily imaginable.  So Doctors Robert and John Willis give themselves the exclusive right of deciding if the King is able to assume his public life without the weight of affairs harming his health.  Thomas Willis gives himself almost exclusive political responsibility.  If a Minister, emboldened by the sovereign’s recovery, goes to Buckingham to submit to him one of the numerous official texts which had remained pending during the royal malady, he is immediately obliged to deal with the Reverend Willis.

It is to him that, on 20 March 1801, Addington entrusts secret documents concerning the appropriateness of pactising with France, requesting him to give them to the sovereign in person.  He adds that the King has only a concise and decisive answer to give, and must clearly show his agreement or his refusal.  When George III has his Prime Minister’s letter and the Minutes of the Privy Council in his hands, he appears to acquiesce and declares that that is what he had wanted in the first place.  But he adds that he has unfortunately been kept for too long away from the Affairs of State.  Abandoned by everyone, confined in this awful solitude, he has finally convinced himself that he must renounce making peace with his nation’s worst enemy.  Willis does not however render arms.  It is he who writes the sovereign’s reply, which is of course positive.  It had been enough for him to pretext that the King is extremely tired and that he has difficulty speaking.  So, secret negotiations between France and England begin, and will end in the Peace of Amiens, in 1802.

Meanwhile, Addington is dissatisfied with George III’s reclusion.  Exasperated, he orders the Willises to get their royal patient back on his feet so that he is able to appear in public with no visible sign of weakness.  He is even more convincing in that he threatens to open a Parliamentary Enquiry.  The next day, the Willises go to work.  Poor George III is obliged to swallow emetic preparations, that is to say, destined to make him vomit, while the infernal trio orders that cupping glasses be applied to his back.  But, despite a promise made to Queen Charlotte, they judge the results of the treatment in question to be less rapid than they had thought and, at the end of March, repeat their interdiction to allow the King to appear in public.

Addington, who finally meets him, reminds the sovereign that he is master in his own house.  And George III, galvanised by his Prime Minister’s words, decides to prove it.  On 30 March, he orders the Willises to leave.  They do, but only for a few days, and without renouncing their ambitions.  While the King believes that he is finally rid of his gaolers, they continue to intrigue against him, claiming that his nerves are still too fragile for him to be allowed to act freely.  The hate that he unjustly feels for them is certain proof.  They almost succeed in convincing the Queen, but she changes her mind when she hears John Willis suggest taking her spouse to Kew, as had been done in 1788.  The sovereign’s general behaviour finally reassures her and, on 16 April 1801, she has the pleasure of sleeping beside him for the first time since February.

To be continued.

Lord Loughborough’s attempt to obtain George III’s signature through the Reverend Thomas Willis, for the purpose of arguing royal consent for the abrogation of an agrarian law, is completely illegal.  But he succeeds in convincing Willis, after having assured him that he will take full responsibility for this infamous procedure.  The King, who has complete trust in the Reverend, accepts to appose his signature, without seeking to know what it’s about.  And Willis, thereby satisfying his taste for power, becomes the necessary intermediary between the King and his Ministers, that is to say, the secret and only manipulator in the shadow of the throne.  With his brothers, he exercises absolute control, not only on George III’s person, but also on his slightest connection with the outside world.

Over the following days, the sovereign’s state worsens.  His pulse sometimes rises to 130.  And on 25 February, the doctors make it known that the sovereign’s ills are degenerating into a sort of “black jaundice”.  They mean by that, that the royal urines are becoming darker and darker, to the point of appearing black.  On 27 February, Dr Willis confides to the Prince of Wales that the sovereign’s intellectual faculties have considerably regressed.  His patient is no longer able to furnish enough concentration for reading.  Sometimes he is even unable to understand a single letter.  However, the following day, 28 February, the symptoms of mental derangement seem to be a lot less pronounced than over the preceding days.

Already, the rumour is spreading in the public, and it is heard just about everywhere in the worldly milieux, that the Willises are convinced that their patient will be perfectly cured within three weeks.  This news incites ex-Prime Minister William Pitt to optimism.  He is now convinced that even the question of the Regency is no longer relevant.  But that is going a bit too fast.  In the night of 1st to 2 March, George III is again incapable of going to sleep.  He becomes irascible, violent, and his mind soon wanders to the point where none of his words seem to make sense.  The following day, his state continues to worsen, and it is finally doubted that he will survive this new attack.

The members of the Royal Family, convinced that death is going to take him, assemble in the room next-door to the one in which the King is, and observe a respectful silence in his honour.  Meanwhile, panic has invaded the sickroom, where the doctors don’t know any more what remedies to prescribe.  To relieve the patient of his muscular stiffness, his feet are bathed for a quarter-of-an-hour in hot water mixed with vinegar.  But there is no time to verify the efficacity of this remedy.  The sovereign’s heart suddenly starts to beat with such rapidity, that it is thought necessary to inform Prime Minister Henry Addington, the Duke of York and the Prince of Wales, as fast as possible.

All day, he is fed only wine, fruit jelly and potions based on musk and quinine.  George III, who has not slept for forty-eight hours, is both haggard and very agitated.  Addington then remembers an old folk remedy taught to him by his father.  He proposes placing a hot-water bottle filled with hops under George III’s head.  Thanks to his Prime Minister, the sovereign finally succeeds in sleeping for more than eight hours.  This anecdote will give Addington the nickname of “Mr Doctor”.  Without it being known if this change is due to the calming virtues of the hops, the King is particularly calm when he awakes.  His words are coherent and he asks surprisingly pertinent questions.  He realises that he is not in his usual bed and enquires as to where he is, and how long he has been ill.

***

This improvement, for which no-one dared to hope any more, is greeted like a gift from heaven.  The jubilant crowd gathers around Buckingham House to celebrate the recovery of its beloved sovereign.  But, this time again, disappointment succeeds joy, and the celebrations last only one day.  George III does not delay in losing his mind again.  To this are added other symptoms already observed during the terrible attack of 1788-89.  His jaws tighten to the point where he becomes incapable of chewing any food at all.  His swollen, insensitive hands are hardly able to seize a spoon, and his doctors fear a total and definitive paralysis of his upper members.  But his state improves just as quickly as it had worsened.  From 5 March 1801, his appetite returns and he is able to use his hands to feed himself, without the help of his nurses.

On 6 March, he is judged to be sufficiently calm and master of his reactions to receive a visit from Queen Charlotte, who has not seen him for ten days.  George III welcomes his spouse with affable words, at first.  But, to the great displeasure of the Queen who had been moved by this manifestation of tenderness, he suddenly enters into violent anger and hurls abuse at her three times, heaping reproaches on her.  With a heavy heart, she resigns herself to leaving.  The weight of years has not contributed to embellishing this little woman, who is desperately flat and without attraction, but it has made her more bad-tempered and boring than she was already.  Grace, wit and fantasy have been definitively banned from Court life and the royal entourage, by her order.  She has constrained her daughters, some of whom have been of marriageable age for a long time, to observe the same severity, not only in public life, but also in everyday life.  Briefly, everything around her seems mediocre, dull and reasonable, and the sovereign’s terrible malady, engendering sadness and despair, renders the walls of Windsor even more odious to those who live there.

George III calms down a little after his spouse’s departure.  In a flash of lucidity, he questions Dr John Willis about what is happening in the House of Commons.  And as he is convinced that he has completely recovered, he orders the detested doctor to immediately inform Addington of his perfect state of health.  The Willises, who fear being discredited, definitively opt for optimism, and all the following week, the health bulletins, without being lies, are written in a way that embellishes the sovereign’s real state of health.  The Willises have to convince the public and the Parliamentarians that the royal patient’s cure is imminent.

To be continued.

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