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B R E ATH


‘Robbery by means of chloroform’


In 1850, the Pharmaceutical Journal reported the trial of two women of ‘notorious character’, who chloroformed a man walking down Whitechapel Road in London’s East End. The victim claimed to have woken up naked in a wretched apartment, without his watch, money and some of his clothes. Two weeks after the attack, he was still suffering from physical after-effects. Although tales of robbers, highwaymen and


kidnappers using chloroform-soaked rags to wicked ends abound in nineteenth-century literature and the popular press, in reality the substance did not have the instantaneous effects these stories relied on. Chloroform was also difficult to administer safely and, in inexpert hands, might lead to convulsions and death.


Read


Stratmann L. Chloroform: The quest for oblivion. Stroud: The History Press; 2013.


Tobacco pipe


and packed before it is lit and the tobacco periodically tamped down during smoking. Smoking a pipe is a contemplative and ceremonial act and, as any reader of Sherlock Holmes knows, a pipe – and the way it is smoked – says a lot about its owner. This elabor- ate example is thought to be made in the image of Napoleon I’s wife, Joséphine, Empress of France from 1804 to 1809.


Pipes are occasionally


of extraordinary interest. Nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces.


Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Yellow Face, 1893


A purifying healer


When European explorers brought tobacco back from the Americas in the fifteenth century, they transformed smoking from a magical ritual to a hedonistic pastime. Tobacco played a pivotal role in North and South American healing and religion, where shamans smoked to achieve trance states and blew purifying and reinvigorating smoke fumes over patients to ward off evil spirits.


Your face is on fi re!


The practice of smoking was so unfamiliar to sixteenth-century Europeans that Sir Walter Raleigh was supposedly doused by one of his servants, who thought his face was on fire.


Tobacco pipe Meerschaum, brass, horn and hose 19th century RRa0034 / A653265 Science Museum / L0076013 Wellcome Images


Unlike cigarettes that dwindle away as the tobacco burns, pipes are permanent symbols. They also pro- long the smoking process: a pipe must be prepared


Sir Walter Raleigh being doused with water as he smokes Wood engraving Mid 19th century 25007i Wellcome Library


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