A potato shaking hands with Edward Jenner, claiming him as a fellow vaccinator. Watercolour by John Leech.
- Leech, John, 1817-1864.
- [between 1800 and 1899]
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About this work
The potato is called Paddy Fluke because Paddy was a nickname given to Irishmen and Ireland was associated with potatoes, and because a fluke was a variety of kidney potato
The potato has arms and legs and wears a blue jacket. The figure supposed to be Edward Jenner looks nothing like Jenner's portraits, being thin and bespectacled, wearing a black suit and a broad black hat. He may stand for vaccinators in general
The potato has a (by British standards) unhealthy complexion, yellow and lumpy, described in the lettering below the drawing as "waxy". According to the Oxford English dictionary, 1989, s.v. waxy 3.a, "waxy" was a word often used in a pejorative sense of "boiled potatoes that have not become mèaly'", citing Thomas Hood, Tale of a trumpet, "ears as dull as waxy potatoes!". Potatoes which were mèaly', by contrast, were dry and flaky, which was considered good (OED, s.v. mealy)
The OED, loc. cit., also cites two pathological senses of "waxy": referring to "chlorosis", quoting R.B. Todd's Cyclopaedia of anatomy, 1835-1836, vol. 1, p. 428, "The waxy appearance which those who are the subjects of this disease [i.e. chlorosis] generally exhibit", and (sense 3.b) referring to amyloidosis, citing William Budd, Diseases of the liver, 1845, "These characters are well expressed by the epithet 'waxy', which has been applied to livers in this state by Dr Home and Rokitansky"
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