Finding a Cure for Influenza

rowlandson agee1.jpg
rowlandson ague.jpg
Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) after a design by James Dunthorne, Ague & Fever, March 29, 1788. Etching. GC112 Thomas Rowlandson Collection. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

Thomas Rowlandson published this print during the influenza epidemic of 1788 and four years later, its companion Hypochondriac (Nov. 5, 1792). In the room, we see Ague (an acute or high fever such as malaria) as a white serpent clutching the patient with its spidery hands and feet. Plain old Fever is the furry beast in the center. The doctor writes a prescription for them at the right.

Rowlandson includes a quote from John Milton, which I will place here in context:

All else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th’ effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed Furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damned
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infixed, and frozen round
Periods of time,—thence hurried back to fire.
Paradise Lost, Book II

(Via Graphic Arts)

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