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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No. 1781, Sunday, May 16, 1830.

Shocking case of Hydrophobia at St. Thomas's Hospital

On Thursday afternoon, a fine youth, named William Charles, aged 17, son of Mr. Charles, of the Windmill Dairy, at Camberwell, was brought to St. Thomas's Hospital, in a state of very considerable excitement and great difficulty of breathing. Several medical gentleman examined him, but all were at a loss to conjecture the nature of his ailment. In about an hour after, Dr. Roots saw the patient, who are at once pronounced him to be labouring under that dreadful malady, hydrophobia, but nothing could be elicited from the sufferer to strengthen such an opinion, and, when asked if at any time he had been bitten by a dog, he refused to answer. Towards evening the symptoms increased to an alarming degree, and at intervals he would howl and shriek like the canine species, and foam at the mouth, refusing any kind of food or liquids. About two o'clock on Friday, he became so violent that it was found necessary to resort to the aid of a strait waistcoat. Mr. Leete left the room for the purpose of obtaining one, leaving two other gentleman with him. The unfortunate youth taking the advantage of the absence of Mr. Leete seized a syringe that was near his bedside, and which had been charged with a large quantity of spirits of turpentine for the purpose of injection, and began to squirt its dangerous contents at the two gentlemen, who, fearful of its destructive effects, fled out of the room, and at that moment the sufferer jumped out of bed, and bolted them out. The confusion that ensued baffled description. His attendants ran about in all directions. Some of the pupils endeavored to get in at the window by means of a ladder, but failed. The unfortunate sufferer could be seen jumping and climbing about the room like a cat. At length the panel of the door was knocked out, and the door opened, when the poor fellow was discovered lying upon the floor in a state of exhaustion; his tongue hanging out, and foaming at the mouth. He was again placed in bed, and a strait waistcoat placed upon him, besides being strapped to the bedstead.

Great exertions have been made since his admission to the hospital to ascertain at what period he was bitten, but no person could be found that could give that desired information, except a woman named Lodge, residing in a small house in a place called "Botany-bay," near Snow's-fields; and she stated that, about five months back, the youth lived in her house, having a situation in Lock's-fields, and one night he came home rather earlier than usual, and, upon being asked the reason, he said he had been discharged for killing his mistress's cat, and accounted for so doing by saying that, whilst at tea, she stole his bread and butter, that he attempted to chastise her for it, when she flew at him, and believing her to be mad, he caught hold of her, carried her to the door and threw her to a mastiff-dog that was under a ?, and the animal instantly tore her to pieces. Hence it is supposed that at the time he seized the cat, she was in a rabid state, and bit him; and, therefore, the dreadful consequences above described are attributed to the circumstance. It is the opinion of the medical gentleman who attended him that he cannot long survive.