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[Perspectives] John Elliotson, Thomas Wakley, and the mesmerism feud

From the first edition of The Lancet in 1823, the journal’s founder and editor Thomas Wakley vowed to expose and denounce quackery. In his first leading article—an innovation borrowed from the radical journalist William Cobbett—Wakley pledged that he would seek to end “mystery and concealment” in medicine in order to “detect and expose the impositions of ignorant practitioners”. This, however, was rather easier said than done in the dimly lit world of early 19th-century science.