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Galvanic Reanimation of the Dead
The exploits of nineteenth century scientists with electrical batteries and corpses.

The Galvanic Reanimation of Matthew Clydesdale 1818
"Le docteur Ure galvanisant le corps de l'assassin Clydsdale."
An engraving from Les merveilles de la Science (1867) by Louis Figuier

Experiments being performed upon the corpse of Matthew Clydesdale (a freshly killed murderer) at the Glasgow University anatomy theatre by Dr. Ure and Prof. Jeffray on the 4th november 1818. Note the electric battery to the far left of Clydesdales head and the drunk who is unaware of the dead mans grimaces. A full account, from The Young Man`s Book of Amusement.

In 1803 Giovanni Aldini (Galvani`s nephew) performed experiments, in public, upon the severed heads of "malefactors" despatched at Newgate, London. A couple of accounts of these horrific demonstrations -

"Galvanism was communicated by means of three troughs combined together, each of which contained forty plates of zinc, and as many of copper. On the first application of the arcs the jaw began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and the left eye actually opened."

"The first of these decapitated criminals being conveyed to the apartment provided for my experiments, in the neighbourhood of the place of execution, the head was first subjected to the Galvanic action. For this purpose I had constructed a pile consisting of a hundred pieces of silver and zinc. Having moistened the inside of the ears with salt water, I formed an arc with two metallic wires, which, proceeding from the two ears, were applied, one to the summit and the other to the bottom of the pile. When this communication was established, I observed strong contractions in the muscles of the face, which were contorted in so irregular a manner that they exhibited the appearance of the most horrid grimaces. The action of the eye-lids was exceedingly striking, though less sensible in the human head than in that of an ox."


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