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The Sick Goose and the Council of Health

This is a cartoon by George Cruikshank, satirising patent medicines. The first cholera outbreak in England occurred in October 1831; the cause of the spread cholera was not discovered until 1858. This cartoon has to fall somewhere between these two dates.

The Sick Goose

In the years before the cholera vibrio virus was isolated and germ theory was successfully adopted by the medical profession, curatives like water therapy (hydropathy), bloodletting, "gout pills" and alcoholic beverages reigned supreme as suitable treatments for disease.

A sick goose is sitting in a chair; a line of animated patent medicine containers, a water pump, and a gouty figure runs from left to right. The various bottles and potions say (left to right)

In the foreground is a tiny figure of a man standing on a book entitled Homeopathy; he is saying, "It is cholera, clearly, and I should prescribe a little unripe fruit — the millionth part of a green gooseberry."

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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