1773: The State of Medicine

The original story, from the Connecticut Journal (Middletown, Connecticut), August 31, 1773

A Young woman my neighbor, (18 years old) making an effort to clear her ear of wax with a pin, the pin slipt out of her fingers and lodged in her ear.–Various methods were tried to extract it, but to no purpose. She complained much of pain on the side of her head, extending to her eye. The above accident happened on Friday night, the Tuesday night following, she made great complaint of pain in her ear, &c after a while observed that the pin that had been in her ear, had got into her nose, and desired some of the family to get it out; the pin finally fell from her nose on the floor, and she has been free from all complaints ever since.–The family physician observed on the above case, to this effect; he said, allowing the pin to pass as above, from the ear into the nose, it must pass over the ball of the eye, and enter one of the Paneta Lachrimalia, and made its exit from the nose by the same passage the tears take. Another physical genius asserted it must have passed through the brains into the nose; if so we found have reason to expect some violent spasms, from what physiologists say of the irritability of the brain.–We with some of our physical correspondents would give us a rationale of its route from the ear to the nose.

Your’s, &c.


From the Massachusetts Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), October 5, 1773.


I observed an article in the papers, dated Middletown, in Connecticut, containing an account of a pin having passed through the ear of a young woman and out at her nose, and likewise some medical observations upon that fact very humiliating to the general Character of the Physicians in that colony; together with a request that some one would explain the route of the pin in its passage from the ear to the nose.

You may therefore assure the Enquirer, that there is a natural passage, called the Tube Eustachiana or meatus auditorius inturnas, leading from the cavity of the ear, to the inside of the nose by the Nares, through which the pin passed and by which surgeons sometimes attempt to syringe the ear in deafness.

I cannot sufficiently express my surprize that any physician should be so ignorant as two of them are in that account represented to be; especially as a pretty tolerable flock of anatomical knowledge may be acquired at so cheap a purchase as that of Cheselden’s anatomy.



From the Connecticut Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), October 26, 1773.

Mr. Watson,

As I have read the Story of the Pin’s Passage from the Ear to the Nose, in your Paper No. 458. Must confess, that it would appear as surprizing to me, as it seems to Anatomicus, that any Mortal should obtain the Name of a “Family Physician,” that appears so grossly ignorant, did I not constantly observe, that a raging Zeal for a Party, will atone for all vices and defects; while a brave, honest Opposition to the same Party, obscures all virtues, destroys all merit, so far as their influence prevails. But can’t think so sensible a Writer as Anatomicus, will, upon a review, judge all the Faculty in Connecticut answerable, or censurable, for the Ignorance of one or two; this seems a little too much like destroying the righteous with the wicked.

Am credibly inform’d that there are a number of learn’d, ingenious, skilful Physicians in the Colony–And I am likewise informed, that neither Dr. Rawson, nor Dr. Dickinson of this Town, was “the Family Physician,” or “Physical Genius,” that asserted, that the Pin “must pass over the Ball of the Eye,” or “through the Brains,”  to get from the Ear to the Nose. But that the Family Physician, or Physician in ordinary, or ordinary Physician, was a young Fellow, that served in the capacity of a private Soldier, in the last War; and it seems to me, that he has, in this instance, acted pretty well up to the Character.

‘Not one looks backward, onward still he goes;

‘Yet none looks farther forward, than his Nose.’

Historicus Verus

Middletown (Connecticut) Oct. 20 1773

P. S. All the Gentlemen Printers that have been so curious as to insert the former Pin Story, are desired to be so fast, kind and generous, as to insert this.

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