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HASLAM, John (1764-1844)

Illustrations of Madness: Exhibiting a Singular Case of Insanity, and a no less Remarkable Difference in Medical Opinion: Developing the Nature of Assailment, and the Manner of Working Events; with a Description of the Tortures experienced by Bomb-bursting, Lobster-cracking, and Lengthening the Brain. Embellished with a Curious Plate.
London, printed by G. Hayden, 1810.

The first illustration of an 'influencing machine’ and the first medical book devoted to a single case of insanity, that of James Tilly Matthews of Bethlem Hospital. In this most remarkable book, which is a master-piece of clinical description, the lunatic suffering from what would later be called paranoid schizofrenia, describes in his own words how a gang of villains, profoundly skilled in pneumatic chemistry, assail him by means of an “Air Loom”. The 'curious plate’ engraved by J. Hawksworth after Matthews’ own sketch, is the first illustration of an 'influencing machine’ depicting also a “Plan of the Cellar or Place where the Assassins Rendezvous and Work, Shewing their own, and their Apparatus’s Relative Positions”. At hand in the picture are members of the assailing gang: Bill the King, the operator of the machine, Sir Archy, the common liar, the Glove Woman, and Jack the Schoolmaster, the recorder and short-hand writer. Among the persecutions are: 'Tigh-talking, Lobster-cracking, Apoplexy working with the nutmeg-grater, Bladder-filling, Bomb-bursting, Gaz-plucking’ and other “calamities hitherto unheard of”. Haslam occupied a prominent place on the psychiatric scene in the first decades of the nineteenth century – “by far the most original and discerning writer on psychiatry in the period from 1798 to 1828.” (Leigh).

Collation: Pp (4) half-title & title, [v] - xl, (1), 81, (1). One large folding plate with two illustrations, “Plan of the Cellar” and the “Air-Loom” with the magnetic rays lightly coloured.

Binding: Utrimmed in original boards with printed spine label, torn, but still preserved.

References: Garrison-Morton 4924.1; Hunter & Macalpine, 632-639; Leigh, 'John Haslam, M. D., 1764-1844, Apothecary to Bethlem’ in Journal of the History of Medicine, X (1955), 17-44; Norman Library 1016, Hagelin KIB, 144-145.

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