Miguel de Cervantes, hydropsy, and Thomas Sydenham

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1293
  1. Bruno Simini, staff anaesthetist
  1. Ospedale Generale Provinciale, Lucca, Italy

    One day during the spring of 1616, as three friends quickly rode their horses from Esquivias to Madrid, a student hurried behind on a donkey and begged them to slow down. As they did so one of the gentlemen told the student that “Señor Miguel de Cervantes' fast mount” was the reason for their swift pace. The student, recognising Cervantes' paralysed hand, addressed him with admiration and devotion. The four resumed their journey and Cervantes wrote, “We talked about my disease,” and quoted the student saying, “Your malady is hydropsy, something which cannot heal even if you were to drink as much sweet water as there is salt water in the entire ocean … Señor Cervantes, …

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