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Case of a foetus found in the abdomen of a young man, at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire / by Nathaniel Highmore, Surgeon, and member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London
London: Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, Paternoster-Row. And sold by Anderton, West-Smithfield; Callow, Crown-Court, Soho; Cox, St. Thomas-Street, Borough; Highley, and Underwood, Fleet-Street, 1815. FIRST EDITION. Very good. 4to. 30, [2] pp., with 2 folded leaves of engraved plates depicting the monstrous growth (signed C. Heath, Sculp.). The long list of Subscribers consists of four pages (pp. 5-9). With the uncommon Errata leaf at end. Bound by Hering, almost certainly Charles Hering owing to the quality of the tooling and exceptional leather using in the binding. On both covers the gilt arms of Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington, with motto "A Deo et rege." Binding rubbed along extremities (significantly so on top edge of lower cover, oddly blackened; the spine appears to have had some repair). At one time another work, subsequently excised, was contained in this volume: several stubs can be seen following the printed text, and indeed there is some faint offsetting (of a drawing?) on the final blank leaf. Four broad bands on spine, the second compartment lettered direct, others bearing a gilt impression on an Owl which is not known to have been associated with the Stanhope family. Perhaps this represents the Owl of Athena? The first and foremost description of this celebrated medical curiosity; the case of one Thomas Lane (16 years of age), whose death was apparently caused as a result of a half-formed foetus growing in his intenstines. The boy's stomach expanded enormously and, according to the present text, "exclaimed, affrightened, 'Mother! Do come to me, I have something ALIVE in my body!'" (p. 14). The author's first assumption was that Thomas Lane was no boy, but actually a girl (see Lisa Forman Cody, Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 299-300). The monstrous fetus in question is in the museum of the College of Surgeons in London. It would appear that the cyst itself was contained in a turbid whitish-coloured fluid, with balls of hair mixed with fat, in which was calcareous matter. Attached to the cyst was a mass of bone, teeth, &c. On one sige projected a small appendage resembling the hand, and below this was a long appendage like an abortive arms (or foot?) -- see Thomas Hawkes Tanner, On the Signs and Diseases of Pregnancy (1867), p. 171, note. The author, Nathaniel Highmore, a member of Jesus College, Cambridge, received his classical education at Gottingen, under Michaelis and Heyne, and studied medicine at London, Edinburgh, and Leyden. In 1789 he was ordained a deacon, but he never went into priest's orders; and, at length, resolving to become an advocate in the ecclesiastical court, he took the degree of doctor of civil law at Cambridge in 1796. It is unclear to us why Highmore would have had an interest in monstrous fetuses, as here. Equally unclear are the reasons for which the first owner of this volume had it bound by Hering, one of the foremost bookbinders in London during the Regency. PROVENANCE: Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington (1780-1851), eldest son of Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Harrington, and Jane, daughter and coheir of Sir John Fleming, Baronet, of Brampton Park in Middlesex, was known as Viscount Petersham until he succeeded his father as 4th Earl of Harrington in 1829. A Major General in the Army and a Lord of the Bedchamber, he was a leader of fashion during the Regency and a well known eccentric. He never went out until six o' clock in the evening, his equipage was all of a certain colour of brown, he invented the Petersham overcoat and Petersham blend of snuff, made his own blacking, and had an outstanding collection of snuff boxes. He married Maria Foote, the actress, 7 April 1831. They had an only surviving daughter, and at his death the title passed to his brother, Leicester Fitzgerald Charles Stanhope. (SOURCE: British Armorial Bindings online database). Scarce in commerce: only other copy is currently available, and not only is it in a modern binding, but it is lacking one of the two plates (sic).
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Last Found On: 2017-10-12           Check availability:      ABAA    

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