I can walk!


From The Courier, of 20th September, 1813, we have the following testimonial. Which – although not embedded within an advertisement block (they didn’t really have that kind of demarcation back then) – may well have turned up in other issues of that newspaper. The text of it follows the image.

There are a number of points of interest, should you ever wish to mimic news articles of the period. One must be careful not to go by a single newspaper as some of the conventions may be not so much of the period as of the house style of the particular newspaper. For instance, wherever a street name is printed, the nominal part is capitalised (as we do today) but the ‘path’ part (for want of a better term to denote a general street, lane, boulevard, road, etc) is uncapitalised and appended with a hyphen. Thus Blackfriar’s-bridge, Great Surrey-street, Maid-lane. You can almost hear the emphasis on the Maid and the lack of interest in its laney aspect. Is this indeed how these addresses were pronounced? Or is this just a convention adopted by The Courier Had this habit persisted, we’d now be talking about Picadilly-circus, Times-square, Marble-arch and even, presumably, Pall-mall.

Secondly, it’s reasonably safe to say that hyphenation is not an issue for a particular newspaper to make up its own mind on. That the word head-ache is hyphenated is going to be universally because of its usage at the time and not because this particular newspaper wasn’t having any truck with that new-fangled (shouldn’t that be newfangled by now?) sloppiness adopted by The Gazette over the road. In 1813 you’d be seeing hyphenation all over the place where it just seems odd today. There’d be tooth-ache, steam-ship, i-Phone, etc.

OK. Maybe not i-Phone.

Then there’s the spelling. By the early nineteenth century we were pretty much there. The spelling back then is indistinguishable from the spelling now, save the occasional exception such as compleat (though in this case that spelling may be more to do with the writer than the age in which he is writing). Twenty or so years earlier you’d have found many more words with old-fashioned spellings.

Typographically, there’s little to indicate we’re not reading a modern newspaper. But this is house-style. The Times, at this time, is still using that ct with the hook connecting the tops of the c and the t (for which HTML admits no entity). However, our newspaper here has eschewed such quaintnesses for a more modern (and easier) approach to typesetting. Again, only twenty or so years earlier – less than a generation – eighteenth century newspapers looked so, well, eighteenth century. You’d know an eighteenth century newſpaper by the conſpicuouſness of its eſſes.

Anyway, enjoy the miracle cure. Do try not to laugh at the ‘notwithstanding [geddit? Ed] this, I had no use for my wooden leg‘ bit, and don’t be too disappointed that Guest’s Lotion and Pills aren’t around any more. There are plenty of others to take their place.

Image

Guestonian Medicines.
Case 85.

To Mr. B. Guest, No. 9, Great Surrey-street, foot of Blackfriar’s-bridge
Maid-lane, Borough, Southwark, March 8, 1813.

Dear Sir — When I contemplate on the wonderful cure which your Medicines have performed on me, I feel myself desirous of having it made public as possible.

In the year 1806 I broke my leg two different times in the same week, and it was so badly set as to oblige me to walk with my knee on a wooden leg for six years, the first three of which I tried several of the most eminent Surgeons in London, the last of whom was Mr. Ashley Cooper, until he pronounced me incurable, which was in the year 1809. I then begged of him to cut off my leg; in answer to which he observed, that amputation would be the death of me, therefore he declined this operation. In the year 1812, you having cured my brother of a most distressing head-ache, he recommended me to you: I attended on my wooden leg, when my leg measured one inch and three quarters less than the other — it was cold as ice, and had been so for the last five years. Notwithstanding this, I had no use for my wooden leg on the second day. The sixth day I finally left off my crutches, being capable of walking with a stick. In about three months I was compleatly cured, and have continued ever since as well and as upright as ever I was. But what seems to me still more strange than this, is, that this leg now measure the same size as my other, nor has it ever been cold since the first week of using your Lotion and taking your Pills. My singular case is well known to nearly all the people in Henley on Thames, and to more than a thousand people residing within a quarter of a mile from your house, where I live; and be assured it can never be forgot by me so long as I am capable of  recollection; and am dear Sir, your humble servant,
No. 42, Maid-lane. William Bowling.
(Case 86 in a future Paper.)

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