For the blood is the life
The Quack Doctor is currently providing Victorian remedies for Sky Living’s online newspaper, The Inquisitor, which accompanies the channel’s new ten-part drama, Dracula. If you are visiting the site for the first time via sky.com, welcome! 'For the blood is the life': the evocative quotation appears in the very first scene of Sky Living/NBC's Dracula as a mysterious figure gives our anti-hero's corpse the sustenance it needs to rise from the grave. The identity of Dracula's resurrectionist – which is revealed within the first episode – is rather unexpected for those familiar with Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. His words, however, famously appear in the book, and Victorian readers would have recognised them as the advertising slogan of one of the era's best-known patent medicines. 'For the blood is the life' (originally from Deuteronomy 12:23's instruction not to consume blood - so go easy on the black pudding if you don't want to be smited) was used to promote Clarke's Blood Mixture, a tonic invented in the 1860s by Lincoln chemist Francis Jonathan Clarke. He was only 19 years old when he opened his first shop and put the Mixture on the market, and his commitment to massive advertising expenditure soon secured the product's fame. The Mixture did not claim to cure all diseases – only those caused by ‘bad blood’. Fortunately for Clarke's business, that encompassed pretty much everything from blackheads to cancer. Clarke was a popular chap, serving as mayor of Lincoln four times and becoming known for his generosity to the poor, but his good humour was allegedly less altruistic at times. In 1895, a publication called Exposures of Quackery claimed that, many years earlier, he had faked a glowing endorsement from chemical analyst Dr Alfred Swaine Taylor. When teased by a friend about it, he had apparently laughed and said of Taylor, 'I shall wait a few years till that old fogey is dead, and then no one can prove that he did not give me a testimonial.' The authors of Exposures also expressed concern about the Mixture's main ingredient, potassium iodide, suggesting that it was present in sufficient quantities to cause skin eruptions. In the early 20th century, dermatologist George Pernet of the West London Hospital implicated the Mixture in the case of a 50-year-old man whose skin broke out in 'raised, purulent, and crusted,' blisters the size of a florin. By the time Exposures came out, Clarke was not around to defend himself, having died in 1888 at the age of just 46. The Mixture, however, continued to thrive under the business he’d set up, the Lincoln and Midland Counties Drug Company. With various changes to its formula – including the addition of sarsaparilla – it remained on the market until the 1960s. Internet Archive.