No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

Cheating Death

As my attentive readers know, I'm currently reading a book about Robert Hooke, specifically The Curious Life of Robert Hooke by Lisa Jardine. Unfortunately, she shoots her wad early by packing the prologue full of meaty things before moving on to Bob mucking about on the Isle of Wight as a lad. I also condemn her endnotes, which run for a several pages per chapter without any means to identify to which chapter the current list of a hundred notes refers.
But now that Hooke (or rather I) has made it to Oxford, things are shaping up. The 17th century was a heady times when wonders and curiosities from around the world were being gathered, examined and or invented. And a fortunate few with the right frame of mind were beginning to piece it all together and figure out how the world worked.
Anyway, this is all to preface a particular experiment in human dissection. Natural Philosophers with connections tended to get bodies from executions. In this case, two contemporaries of Hooke, Willis and Petty, got themselves the body of an unfortunate woman named Anne Greene who had been lately hanged as an infanticide. They readied their steak knives only to discover that she weren't quite dead yet.
They managed to resuscitate her successfully and, what's more, successfully interceded on her behalf for a pardon from the legal authorities. She went on to marry and have three (more) children.
Just one of those curiousities of the era. Hard to say whether anything was learned. Hard to say what the moral of the story is. But the story, spare as the details are, captures the imagination.
Tags: book, science

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