‘Surgeon restored me to perfect health’

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On this day in 1811 this endorsement appeared in the Hampshire Telegraph’s classified advertisements, perhaps aimed at those intending to make a new year’s resolution:

‘I, John Hillyer, cooper of His Majesty’s cooperage, Weevil, near Gosport, was very sorely afflicted with venereal disease for four years during which I was in St Thomas’s Hospital for 12 weeks, in Guy’s Hospital for five weeks and in the Lock Hospital for nine weeks and received no benefit.

‘I came to Surgeon Roberts of 50, St Mary’s Street, Portsmouth, reduced to the lowest state of existence, so as to despair of my life, but in less than two months I was restored to perfect health and strength and remain so to this present day.’

In contrast, Alexander Rowe of 30, Common Hard, offered confidentially his cure for ‘venereal disease which is contracted in a moment of intoxication...and consequence of juvenile indiscretion’.

He challenged ‘the approbation of the moralist’ by exercising some understanding of the sufferer’s plight.

His medical credentials, however, were undermined by his reference to ‘solitary vice’ causing the disease

– from John Sadden’s

The Portsmouth Book of Days

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