JOSEPH MERRICK Biography - Famous Medicine & health care related men and women


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Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 - 11 April 1890) became famous as "The           
Elephant Man"                                                                         
'Tis true, my form is something odd                                                   
but blaming me, is blaming God,                                                       
Could I create myself anew                                                           
I would not fail in pleasing you.                                                     
This is a rhyme used in Merrick's sideshow pamphlet, and which he is said to         
have often quoted, followed by the lines:                                             
If I could reach from pole to pole                                                   
or grasp the ocean with a span,                                                       
I would be measured by the soul                                                       
The mind's the standard of the Man.                                                   
I first saw the light on the 5th of August, 1860, I was born in Lee Street,           
Wharf Street, Leicester. The deformity which I am now exhibiting was caused by       
my mother being frightened by an Elephant; my mother was going along the street       
when a procession of Animals were passing by, there was a terrible crush of           
people to see them, and unfortunately she was pushed under the Elephant's feet,       
which frightened her very much; this occurring during a time of pregnancy was         
the cause of my deformity.                                                           
My feet and legs are covered with thick lumpy skin, also my body, like that of       
an Elephant, and almost the same colour, in fact, no one would believe until         
they saw it, that such a thing could exist. It was not perceived much at birth,       
but began to develop itself when at the age of 5 years.                               
I went to school like other children until I was about 11 or 12 years of age,         
when the greatest misfortune of my life occurred, namely — the death of my         
mother, peace to her, she was a good mother to me; after she died my father           
broke up his home and went to lodgings; unfortunately for me he married his           
landlady; henceforth I never had one moment's comfort, she having children of         
her own, and I not being so handsome as they, together with my deformity, she         
was the means of making my life a perfect misery; lame and deformed as I was, I       
ran, or rather walked away from home two or three times, but suppose father had       
some spark of parental feeling left, so he induced me to return home again.           
In consequence of my ill luck my life was again made a misery to me, so that I       
again ran away and went hawking on my own account, but my deformity had grown to     
such an extent, so that I could not move about the town without having a crowd       
of people gather around me. I then went into the infirmary at Leicester, where I     
remained for two or three years, when I had to undergo an operation on my face,       
having three or four ounces of flesh cut away; so thought I, I'll get my living       
by being exhibited about the country.