Museum sign
The Cowper and Newton Museum
The Electrostatic Machine
An eighteenth century Electrostatic Apparatus similar to this, was used by William Hayley, a friend and patron of Cowper, in an attempt to alleviate the paralysis Mary Unwin suffered after her stroke in 1792.
The use of shock therapy was a novelty of the age and was used with enthusiasm in the treatment of a number of ailments from infertility to depression.

Electricity was generated by turning the handle of the machine, which caused friction between glass and silk. It was then transferred through the metal cylinder and stored in a Leyden jar, from where it was collected and applied to the affected limb with the use of the discharging tongs.

The condition of Mary Unwin's arm improved, but whether this was a result of the electrical treatment, or other factors, is unknown.In a letter to his friend Joseph Johnson, Cowper wrote "I am the electrician" indicating that on occasion it was he who applied the electricity to his companion.
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