George Cruikshank

Caricature Drawing of Medical Incompetence

In this drawing, a group of male doctors are examining a pregnant woman and consulting among themselves to figure out what is wrong with her. Each one comes up with a different diagnosis, which is equally wrong. None of the men can figure out that the woman is pregnant.

The caption suggests that the passage of time is best doctor, not only because the woman will eventually give birth and be "cured" but because in general the treatments prescribed by these quacks are worse than the disease. In fact, if left alone the patient would stand a better chance of recovery.

Medical incompetence and barbaric treatments were the subject of Robert Cruikshank's frequent wit. Note the use of speech bubbles to convey what the characters in this vignette are saying. Although this device is not standard in comics and illustrated novels, it was an innovation at the time.

Time is the Best Doctor

More illustrations by Robert Cruikshank: