Tuesday, 4 October 2016

History: 'Spontaneous Combustion of Drunkards' - Bloody, Burnt & Blue, with a Twist...

My now regular trawl through the papers in the local library throws up some interesting snippets of information every now and again that distract me from my research. Here is one example that seems too bizarre not to post.

It brought forth images of some kind of vampirical sambuca-like shots with a legion of bloodsuckers lining up to drain the poor rum gorged victim.

Is Bloody, Burnt & Blue a good name?

'SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION OF DRUNKARDS – It appears well authenticated that a confirmed drunkard is as combustible as a powder house, and as liable, every moment of his life, to blow up. His safety only depends upon the contingency of not coming in contact with some material of ignition. Mr. Hanson, a student of medicine at New York, lately tried a curious experiment. A fellow who had drunk two gallons of rum in the five preceding days, came staggering into the office where Mr. H. was a student. Mr. H. told him he was in danger of exploding by spontaneous combustion and persuaded him to be bled, in order to avoid such a tragedy. He was bled, and a lighted match being applied, the blood burnt blue, and continued to burn freely for 30 seconds.'

[Carlow Sentinel – 1836 via Carlow Library Local Studies Room]

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