Historical Miscellany #16 – A nasty case of the Hydrophobia (1794)

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Taken from Lloyds Evening Post, 17 December 1794, issue 5821

A most melancholy instance of that dreadful malady the Hydrophobia has recently occurred, the particulars are as follows: Mr Henry Waylin, apothecary of North Audley Street, so long ago as June last, was bit in the hand by a small dog that he attempted to take up near his own door, supposing it to be lost.

He applied in consequence to Mr Thompson, the surgeon in the same street, who asked if he had any reason to suppose the dog was mad. He said none at all; and the wound was therefore treated as an ordinary bite, and cured in the regular course, without any untoward symptoms whatever.

On Sunday last Mr Thompson was called in to attend Mr Waylin for what the family supposed to be a violent sore throat. He found him perfectly cool and intelligent, and received the following account of his complaint.

On Friday preceding he had dined out, and discovered in himself an unaccountable aversion to any kind of liquor when he attempted to drink it. The surprised him a little, but created no alarm. In the evening he returned home with some general symptoms of slight indisposition, which, with the aversion to liquids, rather increased in the course of the next day, and very early on Sunday morning he was attacked with violent spasms, attended with the greatest horror if any thing, either liquid or solid approached his mouth.

From this description it was directed suspected that he was seized with the Hydrophobia. Sir Lucas Pepys was called in, and ordered him to be treated accordingly.

The symptoms of this disease, however, soon increased to the utmost degree of violence. He was at times so frantic and outrageous that it became necessary to have him put in a strait waistcoat and trapped down in bed. In this state he continued till Monday evening, at six o’clock, when he expired in great agony.

Mr Waylin had been, for some time previous to this attack, rather dull and irritable, though his natural disposition was much the reverse.

Funnily enough I was on North Audley Street on Wednesday, 209 years after Mr Waylin’s misfortune. There was no sign of any rabid dogs, merely a Starbucks, a row of Italian restaurants and a Pharmacy who, more than likely, stocked a tube of pills that would have sorted Waylin out in a day or two.

(More Historical Miscellany here)

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