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‘A Cure for Lying and a Bad Memory’, 1807

© 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society


Mounted hand coloured etching, entitled ‘A CURE for LYING and a BAD MEMORY.’, designed by George Moutard Woodward, etched by Thomas Rowlandson, and published by Thomas Tegg around 1807.

This caricature depicts a quack doctor, with a great reputation for curing all ills, outsmarting a cheeky student who is feigning illness (lying and a bad memory). The scene is the interior of an apothecary.

The student in cap and gown stands holding his stomach and grimacing. The apothecary stands facing him, his arms in the air and holding a pill box. His aproned assistant walks away with a sly grin carrying a box labelled “Anti-Fibbibus”, the “gilded pill” called “Pillula Memoria”.

The student complains that he has been dosed with Asafoetida (asafoetida was known for its unpleasant taste and smell), the apothecary declares he is telling the truth and is therefore cured. The text below the image reads: ‘A travelling Empiric…gain’d great credit for his skill in Medicine, in fact it was reported that he was capab