Death in the 18th Century


In October the Carlyle House commemorates the anniversary of John Carlyle’s death, which occurred in October some time after 1780. The exact date isn’t known, only the month.

This photo was taken in the bedroom where he died. The room was prepared to look as much like it would have back then, including a faux corpse.

The bowl to the right of the bed was for bloodletting. The best medical practice at the time was to cut the sick person and let the evil spirits flow out of the body by bloodletting, which was done as often as one would take an aspirin today.

The hand mirror on the table next to the bloodletting bowl was to check for signs of life. If you hold a mirror closely to the nose and mouth, condensation will develop on the mirror from the person exhaling. They didn’t know so much about checking for a pulse back then.

11 Responses to Death in the 18th Century

  1. Ben says:

    Such a beautiful house always has some stories to talk about (nor not to talk about) …
    Medical part of this story is interesting too, especially how people reacting to sick ness and connection for spirits and …

  2. Olivier says:

    Superbe ballade dans l’histoire de ta ville.
    Heureusement que la medecine a fait des progres ;o)

  3. Kate says:

    You are really too much! The photo reminds me of Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”

  4. photowannabe says:

    A fascinating, creepy, history travelogue.

  5. Sally says:

    Like the idea of a festival about a death….very realistic too. But then I though Six Feet Under was one of the most brilliant TV shows of the last decade!

  6. mariemcc says:

    Ben, just a small part of people needing to make sense out of what is not understood.

    Olivier, je suis contente que des cauchemars n’a pas t’empecher de revenir! 🙂

    Kate, being a full time Philistine, I’m not familiar with that particular Faulkner piece, but I can tell you I loathe in general anyone who makes a paragraph out of a sentence.

    Photo, ah, then I’ve succeeded! 🙂

    Sally, death rituals can be fascinating.

  7. Kate says:

    Oh, but Marie, I love the man’s work. As a high school teacher I had lots of fun with his style: counting the number of words in a sentence for example, writing similar sentences in creative writing, etc. Give “Emily” a read; you’ll like it!

  8. kala says:

    Now it would be creepy if he got up out of bed right NOW!

  9. Helen says:

    This photo seriously creeped me out! I still have spingles running up my spine!

  10. mariemcc says:

    Kala, hee! Normally I’m a little inquisitive, but I wasn’t even tempted to peek under those covers!!!

    Helen, maybe because I was there and knew it was all for show, it didn’t spook me at the time. But seeing the photo later, eeeeeee!! Perfect for pre-Halloween!

  11. Priscilla says:

    The poor man probably died from loss of blood!

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