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have suffered very considerably, either from her abstinence or from that general morbid habit which induced her to use abstinence. He says, indeed, that her mental faculties were entire, her voice moderately strong, and that she could join in conversation without undergoing any apparent fatigue: but he says, also, that her pulse was feeble and slow; that she was altogether confined to her bed; that her limbs were extremely emaciated; that convulsions attacked her on so slight an excitement as surprise, and that she had then very lately lost the use of her lower limbs.
It afterwards appeared, that in this account of herself she was guilty of some degree of imposition, in order to attract visitors, and obtain pecuniary grants. Dr. Henderson, another medical practitioner, of deserved repute in the neighbourhood, had suspected this, and published his suspicions*: and an intelligent committee was at length arranged, and assented to by the woman herself, for the purpose of watching her by day and by night. Cut off hereby altogether from fluids, which she had of late pretended to relinquish, as well as from solids, she was hardly able to reach the tenth day, and still less to confess, as she then did, that she had occasionally been supplied by her daughter with water and tea. "On the whole," the committee conclude, in their account of her, "though this woman is a base impostor with respect to her pretence of total abstinence from all food whatever, liquid or solid, yet she can perhaps endure the privation of solid food longer than any
An Examination of the Imposture of Ann Moore, called the Fasting Woman of Tutbury, &c. By Alexander Hender
other person. It is thought by those best acquainted with her, that she existed on a mere trifle, and that from hence came the temptation to say that she did not take any thing. If, therefore, any of her friends could have conveyed a bottle of water to her, unseen by the watch, and she could occasionally have drunk out of it, little doubt is entertained that she would have gone through the month's trial with credit. The daughter says that her mother's principal food is tea, and there is reason to believe this to be true."* But this opinion leaves the case almost as extraordinary as before the detection of the fraud; for if true, and it is greatly borne out by the fact to which it appeals, this woman was capable of subsisting on what is ordinarily regarded as no nutriment whatever, and required nothing more for her support than an occasional draught of pure water.
Hildanus, Haller, and other physiologists, have collected various instances of a similar kind: many of them of a much longer duration of abstinence; some of them, indeed, extending to not less than sixteen years; but in general too loosely written and attested to be entitled to full reliance. Yet the Philosophical Transactions in their different volumes contain numerous cases of the same kind, apparently drawn up with the most scrupulous caution, and supported by the best kind of concurrent evidence. In one of the earlier volumes† we meet
* A Full Exposure of Ann Moore, the pretended Fasting Woman of Tutbury, 8vo. 1813.
The newspapers have informed us that this poor woman died at Macclesfield, about the beginning of October 1825, at the advanced age of seventy-six.
† Phil. Trans. 1684.
with an account of four men who were compelled to subsist upon water alone for twenty-four days, in consequence of their having been buried in a deep excavation by the fall of a superincumbent stratum of earth under which they were working, and it being this length of time before they were extricated. The water which they drank of was from a spring at hand; and they drank of it freely, but tasted nothing else.
A still more extraordinary account is recorded in the same journal for the year 1742, and consists of the history of a young man, who at the age of sixteen or seventeen, from having drunk very freely of cold water when in a violent perspiration, was thrown into an inflammatory fever, from which he escaped with difficulty, and with such a dislike to foods of all kinds, that for eighteen years, at the time this account was drawn up, he had never tasted any thing but water. The fact was well known throughout the neighbourhood; but an imposition having been suspected by several persons who saw him, he had been shut up at times in close confinement for twenty days at a trial, with the most scrupulous care that he should communicate with nothing but water. He uniformly enjoyed good health, and appears to have had ejections, but seldom.
A multitude of hypotheses have been offered to account for these wonderful anomalies, but none of them do it satisfactorily; and I should be unworthy of the confidence you repose in me if I did not ingenuously confess my utter ignorance upon the subject. Water in most cases appears to have been absolutely necessary, yet not in all; for Hildanus,
who, though somewhat imaginative, appears to have been an honest and an able man in the main, assures us, that Eva Flegen, who had fasted for sixteen years, when he saw her in 1612, had abstained entirely from liquids as well as solids: and in the case of impacted toads, especially those found in blocks of closely crystallised marble, the moisture they receive must often be very insignificant.
Perhaps one of the most singular cases, and at the same time one of the best authenticated on record, is that of Janet M'Leod, published in the Philosophical Transactions by Dr. Mackenzie.* She was at this time thirty-three years of age, unmarried, and from the age of fifteen had had various paroxysms of epilepsy, which had considerably shaken her frame, rendered the elevator muscles of the eyelids paralytic, so that she could only see by lifting the lids up, and produced so rigid a locked jaw that her mouth could rarely be forced open by any contrivance. She had lost very nearly her power of speech and deglutition, and, with this, all desire either to eat or drink. Her lower limbs were retracted towards her body; she was entirely confined to her bed, slept much, and had seldom any other egestions than periodical discharges of blood, apparently from the lungs, which was chiefly thrown out by the nostrils. During a very few intervals of relaxation she was prevailed upon with great difficulty to put a few crumbs of bread, comminuted in the hand, into her mouth, together with a little water sucked from her own hand, and in one or two instances a little gruel; but even at these attempts
*Vol. lxvii. year 1777.
almost the whole was rejected. On two occasions also, after a total abstinence of many months, shë made signs of wishing to drink some water, which was immediately procured for her. On the first occasion the whole seemed to be returned from her mouth; but she was greatly refreshed by having it rubbed upon her throat. On the second occasion, she drank off a pint at once, but could not be either prevailed upon or forced to drink any more, notwithstanding that her father had now fixed a wedge between her teeth, two of which were hereby broken out. With these exceptions, however, she seems to have passed upwards of four years without either liquids or solids of any kind, or even an appearance of swallowing. She lay for the most part like a log of wood, with a pulse scarcely perceptible from feebleness, but distinct and regular: her countenance was clear and pretty fresh; her features neither disfigured nor sunk; her bosom round and prominent, and her limbs not emaciated. Dr. Mackenzie watched her with occasional visits, for eight or nine years, at the close of which period she seems to have been a little improved. His narrative is very precisely as well as minutely detailed, and previously to its being sent to the Royal Society, was read over before the patient's parents, who were known to be persons of great honesty, as also before the elder of the parish, who appears to have been an excellent man; and, when sent, was accompanied by a certificate as to the general truth of the facts, signed by the minister of the parish, the sheriff-depute, and six other individuals of the neighbourhood, of high character, and most of them