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Shakespeare Connected - ‘The natural gates and alleys of the body’ (Hamlet, 1.5.67): Physicality, Hygiene and Bodily Waste in Shakespeare’s World

Pewter Syringe

Doctors, phlebotomists, barber-surgeons and quacks not only took things out of the body, but they put medicine into it. Taking medicine orally was easiest but this painful looking syringe (with brass needle) offered another option. One of these was rectally.

Dr John Hall (the local doctor and Shakespeare’s son-in- law) lists many cases of enemas he administered, detailing their contents as well as their medical and spiritual results. On one occasion, a certain Edith Stoughton was given an enema made up of ‘Chicken-broth’, oil and salt of tartar, ‘And thus by the blessing of God she was delivered from her Distemper.’


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