Views & Reviews Between the Lines

A man without gaiety

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 27 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c505
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The Coffinites, as they were known, were not a bizarre sect devoted to an early death, either their own or that of others, but the numerous followers of Albert Isaiah Coffin, MD, an American herbalist (1790-1866), who left the United States in 1832 for Europe in the wake of a trial in which he was accused of having poisoned the person he called “the first man in America to die of cholera.”

    Coffin lost no time and spared no effort in running down the orthodox practitioners of his day, though he always appended MD to his name, thereby having it both ways. He had been apprenticed to a country surgeon but …

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