Where did John Galt get his idea for the story Buried Alive? Well, just a few years before, in 1818 the Glasgow anatomist Dr Andrew Ure had conducted some galvanic experiments on the body of executed murderer Matthew Clydesdale.
|Matthew Ure (source)|
In November 1818, Matthew Clydesdale was tried for murder in Glasgow and sentenced to hanging after which his body to be handed over to the anatomists. The hanging took place in public in front of the Glasgow High Court building and a large crowd attended the event. The body was then taken up to Glasgow University where the experiments was to be carried out again in front of a large crowd.
Dr Ure reported on the event as follows -
Describing one of the experiments he says - "The pointed rod connected with one end of the battery was not placed in contact with the spinal marrow, while the other rod was applied to the sciatic nerve. Every muscle of the body was immediately agitated with convulsive movements, resembling a violent shuddering from cold. The left side was most powerfully convulsed at each renewal of the electric contact. On moving the second rod from the hip to the heel, the knee being previously bent, the leg was thrown out with such violence, as nearly to overturn one of the assistants, who in vain attempted to prevent its extension."
Another event reported in many newspapers in 1818 was the report of Baron Hornstein who was said to have been buried alive in the family mausoleum.
Truth or fiction?