The dark side of the music

“He was the poster child for 18th century quackery…”

The history of modern ophthalmology

I have recently been posting about the interactions of medicine and art, usually looking for a clever twist. This is a little darker. The ‘Chevalier’ John Taylor was one of the great sideshow performers of the 18th century. The only problem was he was a trained surgeon. He travelled throughout Europe in his coach decorated with eyeballs and the motto “Qui dat videre dat viver” – he who gives sight gives life. All his procedures were performed in front of large crowds. Taylor was a friend of celebrities and Royalty. Such was his fame that composers JS Bach and Handel, who both suffered from cataracts, sought his help. ‘Couching‘ their eyes was performed publicly without anaesthesia. Both were immediately rendered totally blind and Bach died a few weeks later of a post-op infection. Neither wrote another musical note. These results were typical of the Chevalier’s work, he needed the coach to keep on the move and away from the trail of misery his surgeries created. #blindtothetruth #letsmakelemonade

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