Boastful Pretensions

In 1908, V. Walbram Chapnnam wrote to John McKinna, secretary for the Metropolitan Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital on 64 Grafton St., London. In his correspondence, Chapnnam encloses a copy of a letter dated 6th April, from a person calling himself Herbert Clifton who styled himself as a “Aural Specialist.” The copy included an advertisement of testimonies for Clifton’s medical skills, as well as a pamphlet advertising his book, Deafness, Noises, and Giddiness of the Head. The pamphlet, as Chapnnam points out, was entitled “Deafness” and headed with the Royal Arms; the signature was typewritten.

Clifton was perceived by many aural surgeons of his day as being an unscrupulous charlatan whose claims of “miraculous” self-cure for deafness and tinnitus were dubious. Chapnnman writes:

It strikes me that the pamphlet is a tissue of boastful pretensions to medical skill, & is written & published by a person who has not any qualifications in law, to practise in any way, as a Surgeon or Physician in the United Kingdom; and that his power to practice may result in much physical suffering & injury, besides a serious waste of money, to numbers of ignorant people, little fitted by the circumstances of their life, to protect themselves from persons of this kind.

To protect the public from Clifton, Chapnnam advised McKinna that “it would be a good thing to take this power away from him,” perhaps through legislation, or of legal process.

Letter from London Metropolitan Archives, Correspondence of Metropolitan Ear, Nose & Throat Hospital 

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