Monday, December 1, 2014

Byron And Shelley At The Hippocrates Club


Whenever he was visiting London, Byron would stay at the Hippocrates Club on Dean Street in Soho—a private doctors-only club of which Byron had been made an honorary member thanks to his contributions into the causes and cures of clubfoot. 

The first time Shelley met him there for dinner, Byron gave him the grand tour, showing him, among other rooms, the immense library with its priceless historical collection of ancient medical manuscripts, the Anatomy Room with its articulated skeletons and plaster models of the human circulatory system, and the Hall of Cerebella, in which were displayed the preserved brains of everything from dormice to dolphins. 

“Shall we have a drink before dinner?” Byron asked rhetorically, and led Shelley into a high-ceilinged room, with a bar at one end, whose four walls were covered with shelves that groaned under the weight of hundreds of specimen jars.  Upon examining the contents of these jars, Shelley was shocked to perceive that they contained perfectly-preserved examples of the male reproductive organs of every animal species on earth, including humans. 

“Good Lord!”  he exclaimed.  “This room is completely filled with specimens of Male Genitalia!” 

“Of course it is,” Byron explained.  “This is the Members Lounge.” 

Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells

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