Chapter

The voyager returns

Mark Harrison

in Medicine in an age of Commerce and Empire

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577736
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595196 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577736.003.0011
The voyager returns

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This chapter examines some of the themes arising from earlier chapters through the career of James Johnson, one of the most influential practitioners of his day. After his retirement from the Royal Navy, Johnson began to write not only about tropical invalids but about degeneration in Britain, particularly among the inhabitants of large commercial towns. Johnson believed that imperial commerce had brought great benefits but that civilization had its down‐side, including a host of new ailments linked to over‐stimulation of the nervous system. These tended to manifest themselves in hypochondria and digestive disorders, and Johnson made a good living by offering homely advice about managing these disorders through diet and changes to lifestyle. The great popularity of Johnson's work shows that former colonial practitioners could use their experience of digestive disorders to good effect in the medical marketplace.

Keywords: civilization; commerce; degeneration; digestion; invalids; James Johnson; modernity; nervous diseases

Chapter.  4238 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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