Category: Early Modern History

An Invitation to View a ‘Monster’

Posted on October 29, 2012 by - Collecting, Early Modern History, Hans Sloane, History of Medicine, History of Science, Philosophical Transactions, Religion

http://winevault.ca/?perex=opzioni-binarie-e-tasse Amidst Sloane’s letters is a handwritten advertisement:

lavorare con le azioni binarie An admirable Curiosity of Nature being a Surprising Instance of a monstrous and preternatural birth lately in France to Children Joyned together in the Body. With Two Backs one Breast one Heart and Two Entrails one Head and Two faces Three Tongues in one mouth. The Bodies having their Proper Members so that Monster has Four arms and Four hands on which are sixteen Fingers and Four Thumbs Four Thighs Four legs and Feet and Toes proportionable with perfect nails on both Toes and Fingers. It being at full birth and lived the Space of Four Days. This wonderful curiosity may be brought to any gentleman’s House.

where can i buy Seroquel without prescription It is an intriguing note, lacking an author’s name or date. But it makes me wonder: did Sloane arrange to view this curiosity?

För Viagra 150 mg master There are several accounts of unusual births—severely deformed children or animals—in Sloane’s correspondence, some of which appear in the Philosophical Transactions. Monstrous births were a source of great fascination to early modern people; besides being the subject of many treatises and pamphlets, such curiosities were regularly exhibited (for a fee) across Europe.

http://swazilandforum.com/?n=guide-binary-optin-it Nicolaus Tulpius, Conjoined twins (1652).
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

http://ukhairtransplantclinics.co.uk/?cir=where-to-buy-propecia The term ‘monster’ comes from Latin, meaning portent or warning. And this was how many people understood them—as a message from God that indicated the mother’s sins or served to caution the wider community about its morals. Other people were simply curious and wanted entertainment, keen to pay the money to see something so unusual. Natural philosophers such as Sloane, however, wanted to understand why such births occurred. Perhaps they were part of the natural world after all, just a matter of excess, or one of God’s secrets placed in nature for man to uncover. But first, natural philosophers needed to distinguish the real from the fake. Given the possibilities of profit and fame, trickery was certainly possible.

Sloane did not indicate that he saw the curiosity. He was a busy man and probably would have relied on word of mouth to decide whether or not it was worth his while to view it. Nonetheless, it is interesting that he bothered to keep the invitation at all. It is arguable that this was simply a random scrap of paper that was caught up in his papers, but I think it is more likely that the invitation acted as a memory device, either to recall that a particular curiosity had come to London or that it was one he had seen. Most significant of all, however, is that he never printed an account by anyone in the Philosophical Transactions that matches the description of this curiosity.

http://www.logielaw.com/?koleps=order-generic-cytotec-without-prescription-in-Spokane-Washington&49a=30 Not all monsters, apparently, were interesting—either as a hoax or medical case!

An Old Sick Gentleman and a Family Scandal

http://fisflug.is/?yrus=apriconto-trading-on-line&2db=36 Posted on October 22, 2012 by - Conferences, Early Modern History, Family, Patients

I first discovered the Newdigate family when I was a Ph.D. student. Elizabeth Newdigate’s medical letters to Sloane read like a soap opera, filled with heartache and family disapproval. But it wasn’t until several years later that I realised just how dysfunctional the family was.

This week, I’m giving a paper on her father, Sir Richard Newdigate, who wrote a curious pamphlet that gives a fuller picture of the family’s problems: The Case of an Old Gentleman, persecuted by his Own Son (1707). For several years, he had been embroiled in legal difficulties with his children, including financial disputes, an attempt by two of his sons to have him declared a lunatic, and a complaint by four of his daughters in the House of Lords about his “cruel Severities and unreasonable Usage and Practices”. Newdigate hoped to defend his tarnished reputation.

Throughout his account, Newdigate referred to himself as an “Old Sick Gentlemen” – which indeed he was. When the troubles started in 1701, Newdigate was in fine health. He had just undertaken a lengthy tour of France with no ill effects. But his health steadily deteriorated at pace with the arguments, leaving him a broken old man before he died in 1709. Although Newdigate did not mention the physical pains of ageing, he repeatedly identified himself as “old” and used terms of emotional suffering (“persecuted”, “afflicted”, “lacerated”). What seemed to wound him most was the attempt to have him declared a lunatic. This would have removed all his legal authority over his estates and person.

Sir Richard emerges as a sympathetic character in his account, an old man who was being bullied by his children. The story evokes images of King Lear, although Newdigate specifically referred to the Bible (Genesis 9: 18-29): Ham’s shaming of Noah by refusing to cover his father’s nakedness. In pursuing their demands, the Newdigate children had allowed their father to be roughly assaulted by ruffians, chipped away at his paternal authority, accused him falsely, and stopped providing care. Fear and social isolation exacerbate physical pain and cause emotional suffering. Newdigate’s accounts centered on two main anxieties associated with old age: the steady decline of authority and the absence of caring children.

Biographers of Newdigate, such as Eileen Gooder (The Squire of Arbury: Sir Richard Newdigate, Second Baronet and His Family, 1644-1710) roundly condemn Newdigate’s children, providing evidence of what a good father he had been – of course basing their interpretation on Newdigate’s accounts of himself as a poor old man. But the story may not be so simple. Two adult children had also been committed, hinting at a real strain of mental illness in the family. And the suggestions in medical records that the daughters’ darker allegation of “unreasonable Usage and Practices” might have been true. Tracing the truth of the story through the Newdigate family records is part of my ongoing research.

Sir Richard Newdigate’s success in fashioning himself as an elderly victim reveals much about the wider cultural anxieties about aging. The real suffering that came with old age was not mere physical discomfort, but the fear of being abandoned or preyed upon by one’s family. Newdigate drew on these concerns to elicit sympathy from his readers and to re-establish his reputation: who could blame an “Old Sick Gentleman” who had been vulnerable to his demanding children?

 

On Sloane’s assistance to Elizabeth Newdigate, see my article, “Reassessing the Role of the Family: Women’s Medical Care in Eighteenth-Century England”, Social History of Medicine 16, 3 (2003): 327-342.

An International Community of Scholars

By Melanie Racette-Campbell

Latin was the international language for academics and intellectuals during Sloane’s lifetime; an Englishman and an Italian might not share a common modern language, but if they were educated they both knew Latin. Many of the Latin letters were published in whole or in part in the Philosophical Transactions, but Latin was also used for personal correspondence, requests for patronage, and medical consultation – in other words, for the same range of purposes as Sloane’s correspondence as a whole.

Most of Sloane’s Latin correspondents were either professional or amateur scientists of some sort, especially botanists, anatomists, and naturalists. Many of the writers of Latin letters either were or would become fellows or foreign members of the Royal Society, and the content of the letters reflects this: they were almost always on scholarly matters, at least in part. These were generally short reports on a specific incident or findings, as for example the report sent by a certain Dr. Bullen about an unusually large bladder stone or barometric records sent from Switzerland by Jacob Scheuchzer, a physician and naturalist. A particularly frequent correspondent, Pieter Hotton of Leiden, sent catalogues of recently published books or else the books themselves to Sloane. Along with scholarly matters, the Latin correspondents (as Hotton did here) often included messages to mutual friends in England, requests for news about these friends, and announcements about significant personal events. The Latin letters were social as well as scholarly, and show us a tightly knit international community of scholars.

But the Latin letters came not only from continental Europe: more of Sloane’s Latin correspondents wrote from the United Kingdom than any single other country, and one letter included text copied from a letter from a Jesuit priest in Japan. When residents of the British Isles wrote in Latin, they were generally writing for scholarly purposes, just like the European letter writers. In fact, two letters written in Latin by an English speaker, the Scottish surgeon/apothecary Patrick Blair, outline a plan for a scientific book on medicinal plants to be written in Latin. This suggests that even between those who shared the same language, Latin was often still considered the right language for intellectual matters.

 

Melanie Racette-Campbell, who is just finishing her Ph.D. in Classics at the University of Toronto, worked as a research assistant on the Sir Hans Sloane Correspondence Online Project. She received her B.A. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and M.A. in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies from the University of Saskatchewan. Her research interests include Latin poetry and gender and sexuality in the classical world.

Glimpses into Daily Life: The Earthquake of 1703

In January 1703/4, Ralph Thoresby (an antiquary of Leeds and fellow of the Royal Society) sent Sloane a collection of accounts of an earthquake in the north of England on Childermas Day (December 28th) around five in the evening. Thoresby’s letter, and a second one on the earthquake, appeared in the Philosophical Transactions 24 (1704). The earthquake had been strongest in Hull, so Thoresby wrote first to the “most suitable person I know” there: Mr Banks, The Prebendary of York and Vicar of Hull. Thoresby also had accounts from friends and relatives across the north of England: his sister (a Parson’s wife), a minister who was related, and a minister named Mr Travers. The story is interesting on its own merits, but it also reveals much about the overlap between religion and science, the collection of scientific information and the activities of daily life.

Wenceslaus Hollar, Hull (17th century). Source: Wikipedia, Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection, University of Toronto.

Mr Banks had relatively little to say for himself, having been walking through the noisy town streets on his way “to visit a sick Gentleman”. His Reader, however, the “ingenious good man” Mr Peers, had been writing at his desk and was “affrighted” when the desk and chair began to heave and the chamber and window shook. Mr Banks had twenty more such accounts from tradesmen. Mrs Banks had been concerned about the china in her closet [small private room] falling on her, while the rest of the family heard the pewter and windows rattling. Some of the accounts were more amusing. A neighbouring gentlewoman found her chair lifted so high that she thought her “great Dog had got under it”. And in a nearby ale house, the company was so merry that they did not even notice the chimney falling down. Only the landlady’s mother, who was in a chamber on her own, “felt the shock so violent, that she verily believ’d the house to be coming down” and nearly fell over. The accounts from Thoresby’s relatives and friends were similar.

The earthquake came one month after the largest natural disaster in the British Isles, the Great Storm of 1703. Mr Banks concluded that “Famines, Pestilences and Earthquakes, are joined by our Blessed Saviour, as portending future calamities.” In this case, he feared “the approach of some more dreadful Earthquake” and he prayed “God of his infinite mercy to avert his future Judgments.”

As Thoresby’s reports suggest, the exploration of the natural world and a firm belief in God went hand-in-hand in the eighteenth century. Thoresby had a longstanding interest in natural events such as unusual weather or earthquakes, and several of his letters on these subjects were published in the journal. Thoresby was typical of his time. Like Mr Banks, he believed that these events were signs from God. But these were not merely punishments. By Divine Providence, God might show his favour by protecting people from the worst. The terrible storm and the recent earthquake were warnings to be heeded. But if one could uncover the cause of these events, it might be possible to prevent them in the future.

NPG D27320; Ralph Thoresby by J. Baker, after George Vertue, after James Parmentier, line engraving, circa 1696 (with permission of the National Portrait Gallery)

Thoresby’s letters also reveal his information gathering process. Although Thoresby had not been in Hull, he knew just who to ask. In less than a month, Thoresby had heard back from Mr Banks, who had spoken to at least twenty-five people about their experiences. Thoresby then passed it on to Sloane who, as Secretary of the Royal Society, might publish the account in the Philosophical Transactions. It was, nonetheless, important to establish the credibility of one’s sources. Mr Banks was “suitable”, Mr Peers “ingenious good” and several of the others were listed as ministers, gentlewoman, or “Parson’s wife”. These were the accounts that received precedence, being from people considered reliable. This list also highlights Thoresby’s wider social and intellectual networks. Thoresby might be a fellow of the Royal Society and have access to Sloane’s attention, but his own information gathering occurred primarily within his own social group, the middling ranks of clergymen and tradesmen.

The accounts also tell us what was going in Hull at five in the afternoon when the earthquake happened. Mr Banks was walking through the lively town centre, on his way to visit a sick person. Mrs Banks kept the china in her closet, which is where she was, and many of the family members were at home. The Banks family were also obviously comfortable in their domestic arrangements, owning as they did both pewter and china. Mr Peers, Mr Travers, and twenty tradesmen were busy writing at their desks. A neighbouring woman kept a large dog, which was clearly known for causing similar domestic havoc. The nearby ale house, run by a woman, was thriving, and at least one member of her family lived above. Thoresby’s relative the minister was visiting a gentleman and his sister was “sadly frighted” while alone in her room. The drama of the earthquake contrasts sharply with the homeliness of regular activities.

A short scientific report, perhaps. But one that offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of Thoresby and his friends – encapsulating their religious beliefs, information networks, social status, family relationships, and cozy domesticity.

A Curious Case of a Petrified Leg

The Sloane Correspondence contains several examples of curious medical cases, many of which were intended for publication in the Philosophical Transactions (which Sloane as secretary of the Royal Society edited for many years). One such case is that of Mrs Stevens of Maidenhead, aged 62. Surgeon Ralph Calep recounted her case in a letter to anatomist William Cowper, who in turn forwarded it to Sloane for publication.

Mrs Stevens became ill with a fever in November 1697. Within two weeks, she developed a swelling and numbness in her foot that spread up her leg. For a month, the attending physician treated her with remedies that theoretically should have helped according to early modern medical thought. The first treatment was a warm, moist compress of centaury, wormwood, and St. John’s Wort. According to the Pharmacopoia Londinensis (1702), these ingredients all had hot and dry properties and cleansed and treated wounds. Centaury might be used to treat scurvy (often seen as a skin problem) or gout, while wormwood was thought useful in resisting putrefaction. St. John’s Wort was supposed to dissolve bad blood and cure wounds. The second remedy, an oil of turpentine with galbanum, was to relieve pain, soften the skin, and reduce the tumour.

By the time surgeon Ralph Calep saw Mrs Stevens in early 1698, her foot and leg were in a bad way: brown and withered with black spots and no feeling in the leg. She was in great pain and occasionally delirium, begging Calep for help. But the only solution Calep could think of was to remove the leg, which Mrs Stevens refused. Calep thought this was best since he “did not expect any Success in the performing of it”, given her age and weakness, and left “supposing I shou’d never see her more”. He advised her friends to continue the compresses.

Amputation scene, “De gangraena et sphacelo”
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

A month later, Calep returned and was surprised to discover Mrs Stevens still alive, though with a hole in her leg that discharged black matter. Calep enlarged the opening to aid the flow. He also cut into a tumour on her knee, but was surprised to find nothing but air. He again left the patient, advising her to continue the compresses. When he returned another month later, he was not only surprised to find her still alive, but “to my admiration saw that, which thro’ the whole course of my Life I may never see again”: Nature had made a perfect separation of the mortified flesh, with the skin above looking healthy. At this point, he decided to remove the leg. Now, over ten years later, the woman was still alive! For Phil. Trans. readers, this would have indeed been a fascinating case—a peculiar physical problem, with a remedy that demonstrated the power of nature’s healing.

For the historian, the tale is intriguing for a couple other reasons. First: the surgeons’ claims to authority. Calep had one complaint after the amputation. He had hoped to take the leg for dissection, but “the Friends of the Woman deceived me”. They had promised to keep the leg for him, but then buried it in a secret location. Calep’s authority rested in his careful observation over time, as well as the verification of the story by Cowper. Cowper included a note to Sloane stating that he had also been to visit Mrs Stevens, though he had been unable to look at the thigh. Mrs Stevens was “decrepid” and the weather was too cold for her to show him. He did, however, feel the stump through her clothing and Cowper diagnosed her problem as one of petrification in the arteries. This problem, he had previously seen in “aged Persons” or cases of gangrene, and had published on it. Cowper’s authority rested in his reputation and previous scholarship.

William Cowper. Credit: National Library of Medicine and Wikimedia Commons.

But what is striking is the absence of real evidence: the amputated leg had disappeared and Cowper had not actually examined Mrs Stevens’ stump in detail. In the late seventeenth century, natural philosophers were establishing what counted as good evidence. Close observation and reputation were two of the crucial elements, but both surgeons recognised that their accounts would have been even more compelling if they had been able to examine the leg and stump. Each explained in detail why they had not done so.

The case is also interesting for what it tells us about the relationships among surgeon, patient, and patient’s friends. The “friends” (which would have included family) were important throughout, ensuring that Mrs Stevens received good care during her illness. Mrs Stevens also continued to have full control over her medical care, despite her occasional delirium. She refused the only treatment Calep could offer, amputation, until her leg started the process of separation itself. She was typical of many patients in this regard, who generally avoided surgery until it became the only option–unsurprising in an age without anaesthesia. Later, she also refused to show Cowper her stump in its entirety.

The patient’s control over the disposal of the body part appears to have been more contentious. Calep certainly wanted the leg for scientific purposes—at the very least for dissection, but possibly even intending to preserve it as a sample. He even seemed to expect that he should have it, suggesting that he’d been tricked out of having it when he called the friends deceitful. For Mrs Stevens, by contrast, there may have been some anxiety surrounding the leg’s dissection: what might happen to her body at the Resurrection? Was it shameful? By burying the leg, Mrs Stevens’ friends would have been acting on her wishes, or seeking to protect her.

A curious case, indeed, for contemporaries and historians alike!

Making Friends in Early Modern England: Sloane and the Willughbys

The narrative usually associated with Sloane’s early career is one of luck, key patrons, and opportunities. It goes something like this… In 1685, aged 25, Sloane finished his medical degree at the University of Orange and moved back to London. Robert Boyle, his friend, helped Sloane to obtain an apprenticeship with the famous Thomas Sydenham. Two years later, Sloane had another wonderful opportunity when he became personal physician to the Duke of Albemarle, the new Governor of Jamaica. He returned to London in 1689, after the Duke died, but had during his stay in Jamaica found a wealthy wife and started an extensive exotic botanical collection. From this point, his career was set.

But Sloane’s correspondence suggests that Sloane worked hard to build up his own social and patronage networks. What often gets left out of the grand narrative of immediate success is that Sloane remained a household physician for four years to the widowed Duchess of Albemarle (who remarried, becoming Duchess of Montagu). A comfortable position, perhaps, but one of dependence. It wasn’t until 1693 that Sloane became an independent man. He began his private medical practice and became second secretary for the Royal Society. He also started a friendship with the Willughby family. In early modern Europe, patronage and friendship were closely related—the word ‘friend’ could refer to either, or both. Sloane’s relationship with the Willughbys reveals his care in cultivating friendships.

The Willughbys were a gentry family known for their naturalist interests. Francis Willughby (d. 1672) had been an active Royal Society member and his children Thomas and Cassandra also took an interest in natural history. Miss Willughby oversaw her brother’s gardens and catalogued her father’s library. They also had a connection with a close friend of Sloane’s, John Ray. Francis Willughby was Ray’s patron, giving him employment as household chaplain and tutor to the children and leaving him a generous annuity to continue his scholarship full time. Making friends with such a family could only help Sloane’s career.

Cassandra Willughby married widower James Brydges, Duke of Chandos in 1713. Sloane advised the Duke, who was involved in the Royal African Company, on botanical matters and slave inoculation. (Chandos family portrait by Kneller, 1713. Source: National Gallery of Canada, Wikimedia Commons. )

Sloane wrote the first letter to Miss Willughby on behalf of the Duke of Montagu in November. Lord Montagu enquired after the family’s health, remembering their ‘greate favours to his sonne the last summer’ (BL Sl. MS 4066, f. 164). In a second letter, this time on his own behalf, Sloane presented two favours (BL Sl. MS 4068, ff. 13-14). He shared the news that he had successfully proposed Thomas Willughby for fellow of the Royal Society and enclosed a recipe for cashew sugar enjoyed by Miss Willughby at Montagu House.

These were offerings to potential friends, but also emphasised Sloane’s scientific connections and sociability. The Royal Society nomination was Sloane’s initiative, ‘Mr Thomas Willughby giving me leave to propose him’. Sloane promised that when Willughby came to London, ‘I will wait on him & carry him thither’, something that further marked Sloane out as a well-connected member of the Royal Society.  Introducing the new Fellow was not just a courtesy, but gave Sloane a chance to show his own extensive network.

The recipe for Miss Willughby was particularly meaningful, suggesting at its most basic that he had attentively noticed her food preferences. Recipe exchange was also a form of social currency. Bonds were strengthened through sharing secret knowledge and assuming future reciprocity. The recipe also featured cashews, an imported, high-status food that casually referenced Sloane’s and Miss Willughby’s shared interest in botany. Sloane would later provide the Willughbys with other favours; his early offer of service to the family established a long-lasting relationship.

Willughby’s family home, Wollaton Hall (Samuel Hieronymous Grimm, 1773). Source: British Library, Wikimedia Commons.

In return, the Willughbys often consulted Sloane on medical matters. The correspondence does not specify other ways in which the Willughbys reciprocated, but there are hints. When Willughby thanked Sloane for his help in finding a house to rent, Willughby complained that he had not been able to come to London and instead hoped that he ‘could tempt [Sloane]’ to visit him in Nottinghamshire soon BL Sl. MS 4062, f. 13). The invitation was a return of Sloane’s help and indicated a genuine interest in seeing a friend.

Sloane also used his position with the family to request favours on behalf of John Ray’s family.  At Ray’s death in 1705, for example, his widow Margaret told Sloane that the family had been left with £40 annually. She appealed to Sloane to ask Willughby for half a year’s salary that would cover the costs from Ray’s illness and funeral. Willughby was indeed ‘very sorry Mr Ray has left his family in so ill a condition’ and given Ray’s reputation and service, was ‘willing to doe what you ask of me if there is reasonable occasion in charity to the widow to doe it’ (BL Sl. MS 4062, f. 24). Willughby provided other support to the family, sending £20 to Sloane for them and discussing a Ray monument (BL Sl. MS 4062, f. 22).

Sloane’s assistance must have been effective. Margaret Ray thanked Sloane in 1706, sending her gratitude to Willughby. In this case, Sloane tapped into his other friendships to help the Rays.  The Willughbys were Ray’s patrons, with Thomas Willughby paying £12 more annually than his father’s will specified (BL Sl. MS 4062, f. 24), but Mrs Ray did not feel able to approach them directly.  Sloane, however, was in a good position to help, being Willughby’s friend and social equal.

When Sloane met the Willughbys, he was at a transitional point in his career. He was starting to be able to use his newfound status to expand his circle of friends and potential sources of patronage. By the early eighteenth century, Sloane had developed extensive scientific, medical and collecting networks through which he could obtain, give and negotiate favours. Sloane’s success was not just a matter of luck and important patrons, but was closely tied to his efforts in building relationships and exchanging favours, just as he’d done with the Willughbys. The idea of winning friends and influencing people as a career strategy is not just a twentieth-century concept…

And Sloane was very, very good at it.

A longer version of this case is discussed in my soon-to-be-out chapter, “Friend and Physician to the Family” in  trading opzioni binarie cos///\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'è From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and His Collections, eds. M. Hunter, A. Walker and A. MacDonald (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

 

 

Meeting Sloane

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was a great collector of his age. He collected curiosities, books, manuscripts, art, botanical samples, coins… He even collected knowledge, as secretary of the Royal Society and editor of the Philosophical Transactions (1695-1712), and kept his extensive correspondence from other people (forty-one volumes alone at the British Library). Despite his sizeable library and museum, Sloane himself remains elusive. He published relatively little and kept few drafts of his own letters. So, we often meet Sloane through the eyes of others.

Gottfried Kneller, Portrait of Hans Sloane (Source: Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Libraries)

In August 1742, Henry Newman described his recent visit to Sloane’s new home in Chelsea (Wellcome Library, A letter by Henry Newman, 21 August 1742, WMS 7633/10; pictured above on blog banner). Sloane was 82 and had supposedly retired the year before because of poor health. Retirement for Sloane, however, was a busy affair. According to Newman, Sloane started his day by visiting the local Coffeeshop of Rarities via the garden passage that he’d had built. This ensured that Sloane did not “want company nor amusements”,  even though he had left London. From 5:00 to 6:00, Sloane saw patients and had his servant show visitors “his apartement of Curiosities”.

Newman was “indulg’d” in both activities. He first consulted Sloane about his asthma (caused, he reported, by living in London’s smoke), then was taken on a tour of the collections by Sloane’s servant. Newman noted the sheer size of the library–49,000 books and manuscripts. But what Newman admired most was the effectiveness of Sloane’s catalogues. Catalogues were crucial, both for finding items and for ensuring that everything remained in the same order as it had been in Bloomsbury. There were thousands of glasses with preserved animals also in precise order. The scale of Sloane’s move to Chelsea had been enormous, but “there was not one broke nor one book lost or mislaid”.

Among Sloane’s regular visitors was Princess Amelia. Newman reported that the Princess and her sisters had already visited Sloane three times, but as he “waited on Sr Hans they sent to know when they might come again”. All this description, Newman told his friend, was “to anticipate the pleasure you will have in viewing” the collections. Newman also hoped that Sloane’s “usefull life will be prolong’d many years by the change of his situation”.

Perhaps, as ever, the focus is really on Sloane’s collections. But there are tantalizing glimpses of the man himself. Even in retirement, he continued to practice medicine and to visit the coffeehouse for company. This suggests a sociable man who liked to keep busy and who continued to value his medical skills; others, like Newman, also thought highly Sloane’s experience, deeming him “usefull”. Sloane’s ability to keep his collections organised so that others could enjoy them was particularly impressive. Above all, though, Newman took much pleasure in his visit with Sloane–as did apparently the Princess, a repeat visitor: Sloane’s collections were only part of the attraction for his visitors.