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GRAHAM AND HIS CELESTIAL I3F.D.
IN the year 1775 there commenced practice in London one of the most extraordinary empirics of any time, whose name was Graham. He was the son of a saddler in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, where he was born in 1745. Having graduated as a doctor of medicine at the University of the modern Athens, he practised for some time at Pontefract. After a short residence in that town, Dr Graham went to America, where he figured as a philanthropic physician, travelling for the benefit of mankind, to administer relief in the most desperate diseases to patients whose cases had hitherto puzzled ordinary physicians. And here he picked up a deal of experience, which he put to the test on his return. Having the advantage of a handsome person, a polite address, an agreeable conversation, and great fluency of speech, he obtained admission into the first circles, particularly in New England, where, as he himself stated, he reaped "golden opinions." Returning to England, he made an excursion through the country, and according to his own account, was eminently successful in curing many individuals whose cases had been considered desperate. In 1775 Graham settled in London, opening a house in Pall Mall, "nearly opposite the King's Palace," where he devoted his attention specially to disorders of the ear and eye, and inserted advertisements to that effect in the daily papers. These advertisements, though by no means couched in so bombastic a style as Graham's later productions, still have an undeniable spice of quackery about them. They are, however, rather too lengthy for insertion. One of them which appeared on February 9, 1776, after stating that from motives of delicacy the Doctor made it an invariable rule never on any account to mention the cure, however extraordinary, of any person, poor or rich, gives the following particulars of his practice :—
Dr Graham began to practise in London, Feb. I, 1775, and the following is the general state of his Practice in disorders of the Eye and Ear : from that time to November I, being a period of nine Months, cures or relieved 281 ; refused as incurable on their first Application, 317; after a short Trial (by desire) found incurable 47; dismissed for Neglect, etc. 57; country, foreign, and other Patients, events unknown, 381.
After residing in London for'some time, he visited Scotland, and was employed by people of the first quality, who were tempted to put themselves under his care by the fascination of his manner and the fame of his wondrous cures. So popular was he that he might have settled in Edinburgh to great advantage, but he preferred returning to England. He fixed his abode in London, where he set on foot one of the most original and extravagant institutions that could well be imagined, the object of which was, according to the ipsissima verba of one of the Doctor's advertisements, "the propagation of a much more strong, beautiful, active, healthy, wise, and virtuous race of human beings, than the present puny, insignificant, foolish, peevish, vicious, and nonsensical race of Christians, who quarrel, fight, bite, devour, and cut one another's throat about they know not what." The idea was original and singular in the highest degree; but he founded his hopes on a perfect knowledge of human nature, and the success which attended his experiment proved that he had calculated with judgment. It has been assumed by some that he really belijeved in his own statements. That must have been the resvAlt of repeating thein so often, and in this particular he wa^ by no means singular. In May 1779 he opened what he called " The Temple of Health" in the Adelphi, the purposes of which may be best understood from one of his advertisements which appeared in the Morning Herald and other newspapers pretty constantly between 1778 and 1781 :—
Temple Of Health, Adelphi.
To their Excellencies the Foreign Ambassadors, to the Nobility, Gentry, and to Persons of Learning and of Taste.
By Particular Desire, the Exhibitions at the TEMrLE of Health will be continued as usual every Tuesday, Thursday, and SaturDay Evenings, till the Temple of Hymen be opened, which will be announced in the Public Papers.
'"THE CELESTIAL BRILLIANCY of the Medico-Electrical Apparatus in all the apartments of the Temple, will be exhibited By Dr. Graham himself
Who will have the honour of explaining the true Nature and Effects of Electricity, Air, Music, and Magnetism when applied to the Human Body.
In the Introductory Oration, the whole Art of enjoying Health and vigour of Body and of Mind, and of preserving and exalting personal beauty and loveliness; or in other words of living with Health, Honour, and Happiness, in this world for at least an hundred years, is pointed out and warmly inculcated. Previous to the display of the Electrical Fire, the Doctor will delicately touch upon the Celestial Beds which are soon to be opened in the Temple of Hymen, in Pall Mall, for the propagation of Beings, rational and far stronger and more beautiful in mental as well as in bodily Endowments, than the present puny, feeble and nonsensical race of Christians — probationary immortals, which crawl and fret, and cut one anothers throat for nothing at all, on most parts of this terraqueous globe.
This Apparatus which visibly displays, as it were, the various facilities of the material Soul of universal and eternal Nature, is acknowledged by all who have seen it, to be by far the largest, most useful and most magnificent that now is or that ever was in the world. Admittance 5s.
But in order that Persons of every Rank may have a View of this most magnificent Apparatus, the Temple of Health may be viewed every Day this Week, from two o'Clock in the Afternoon till eight at Night. Admittance Is.
N.B.—A Pamphlet is now published, (by permission) with the particulars of several hundred Cures in confirmed Diseases, lately performed at the Temple of Health, with the Names and Residence of the Patients, at their own particular Desire, to be had of the Porter at the Temple, price only 3d.
As a further attraction to his establishment, Graham secured the services of a beautiful young woman, whom he styled "Vestina, the Rosy Goddess of Health," who presided over the evening lectures, and, according to the advertisements, assisted "at the display of the Celestial Meteors, and of that sacred Vital Fire over which she watches, and whose application in the cure of diseases, she daily has the honour of directing." The lady who acted this part subsequently became notorious as the wife of Sir William Hamilton, ambassador to the Court of Naples. Her name was Emma Hart, and before she was raised to the dignity of Goddess of Health, she had officiated in the more humble capacity of nursery and lady's maid in gentlemen's families. Eventually, after having sat as model to Romney and other painters, and having lived under the protection of different gentlemen, she was finally married in 1791 at St George's, Hanover Square, to Sir William Hamilton. Her subsequent connection with Lord Nelson, and her power over that great naval hero but weak human being, as well as the humiliating positions in which she placed her dotard of a husband, form part of the history of this country.
In another of his advertisements Graham offers to explain "the whole art of enjoying health and vigour of body and mind, and of preserving and exalting personal beauty and loveliness; or, in other words, of living with health, honour, and happiness in this world, for at least a hundred years." One of the means for ensuring this end was the constant use of mud baths; and that the Doctor might be observed to practise what he preached, he was to be seen, on stated occasions, immersed in mud to the chin, accompanied by Vestina, who had only then recently left off nursing children and attending on ladies. Her beauty attracted general attention, and brought Graham a deal of practice. While she remained in the mud bath, she had her hair elaborately dressed in the prevailing fashion, with powder, flowers, feathers, and ropes of pearls j Graham appearing in an equally elaborate wig.
In the spring of 1781 the Temple of Health was removed to Schomberg House (now the Ordnance Office), Pall Mall, and the "Temple of Hymen" and "Celestial Bed" were exhibited to the gaze of the profane and the curious. Altogether the establishment was of a very extraordinary description. The front was ornamented with an enormous gilt sun, a statue of Hygieia, and other attractive emblems; the suites of rooms were superbly furnished, and the walls decorated with mirrors, so as to confer on the place an effect like that of an enchanted palace. All the exertions of the painter and sculptor, all the enchantments of vocal and instrumental music, all the powers of electricity and magnetism, were called into operation to enliven and heighten the scene. In a word, all that could delight the eye or ravish the ear, all that could please the smell, give poignancy to the taste, or gratify the touch, were combined to give effect to the whole—at least such was his own account. As a further means of attraction, he hired two men of extraordinary stature, two sons of Anak, whom he appareled in showy and startling liveries, and each of whom wore an enormous cocked-hat, whose business it was to distribute bills from house to house through the town. These handbills were curiously suggestive of the wonderful Doctor's general bombastic style. Here is one of them :—
Temple of Health and of Hymen. Pall Mall.
'I 'HE LECTURE at the above place having been received by very ■*■ numerous, polite and brilliant audiences of Ladies and Gentlemen with unbounded applause, it will be repeated This and every Evening this Week; and precisely at 8 o'clock the Gentleman Usher of the Rosy Rod, assisted by the High Priestess, will conduct the