Todays toss will determine which gentleman born with a club foot made the biggest impact on our modern lifestyle? (I know it’s late but it’s something we can ponder over the weekend.)
There is this dashing fellow of words and brave deeds,
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron born January 22, 1788, commonly known simply as Lord Byron. An English poet and a leading figure in Romanticism, he is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read.
Byron’s notability rests not only on his writings but also on his life, which featured aristocratic excesses, huge debts, numerous love affairs, and self-imposed exile. He lived in Italy for several years before moving to Greece in 1823 where he became involved in the movement for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. He actually helped plan an attack on the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto but became ill before the attack. Treatment for his illness was “therapeutic bleeding” which further weakened his constitution and most likely lead to his early demise of sepsis due to the use of unsterilized instruments for the bleeding. Death came tragically to Lord Byron in April, 1824 and the world mourned.
Byron’s magnum opus, Don Juan ranks as one of the most important long poems published in England since John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The masterpiece, often called the epic of its time, has roots deep in literary tradition and, although regarded by early Victorians as somewhat shocking, equally involves itself with its own contemporary world at all levels — social, political, literary and ideological.
Lord Byron was famously immortalized by one of his many lovers as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.
Or how about this gentleman of science?
Ignaz Philippe Semmelweiz, “The Savior of Mothers” was a Hungarian physician who discovered the simple act of handwashing reduced the mortality of puerpural fever (staph infection of post partum mother). Puerperal fever, or childbed fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis postulated the theory of hand washing with “chlorinated lime solutions” in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards.
Semmelweis discovered that cases of puerperal fever, a form of septicemia, could be cut drastically if doctors washed their hands between performing autopsies and gynecological examinations but could not explain why, as his discovery was prior to the 1861 Germ Theory of Disease by Louis Pasteur. He was soundly rejected by his peers and was eventually driven out of the profession due to madness or advanced syphilis (unfortunately common among practicing obstetricians due to lack of hand washing and the absence of protective equipment). He was committed to an insane asylum in 1865 where he suffered the curious irony of succumbing to an infection caused by the same organism that produces puerperal fever. The onset of the infection was due to a brutal beating inflicted upon him by the guards at the asylum on the day of his commitment. He died fourteen days later.
And what will it be? Arts and passion or science and passion? Both were born with the physical defect of a club foot and suffered absurd medical treatment in attempt to correct the deformity and yet each managed to make an indelible and remarkable impression on life as we know it today.