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461. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 9 December 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

The journey gave me increased pain, less however than I expected, & I feel no ill effects from it. I have consulted with one Physician before I put myself under Beddoes, in whom I have perfect faith. he was inclined to believe it nervous, the effect of excessive irritability. recommended exercise, as little application as possible to any study – & by no means the leaning posture of writing. my chest he said was by no means of a consumptive make, but he hinted the cow-house as a remedy. [1]  I am myself from weighing the various symptoms led to apprehend an organic affection. the pain is most after eating, when the arterial action is strongest. leaning to the right relieves me, – besides I am sensible of irregular action at the heart. Bedford when he sent me the extract from Maundeville [2]  wrote to me about neglecting the law. what would he have me do?

The passage respecting the crystal alludes to the old opinion of its origin [3]  – that it is water, frozen & by length of time condensed & hardened into a gem. the mass of ice under which it had lain, lookd green like the ocean from its magnitude – exactly as the ocean itself does. I am learned in gems & their virtues. with this key there is no difficulty in this passage.

I shall see Beddoes this morning. he is a man envied for his talents, & disliked as an innovator. xx in diseases where the usual remedies are confessedly useless – as in consumption – & paralytic cases – Beddoes tries experiments. & is he not right? in palsies this beatifying gas [4]  is working miracles. indeed this Pneumatic Institution [5]  promises to be of the greatest importance – I am only sorry it is so little supported, & that the expence falls so heavy on a few men. one of the Wedgewoods gave 500 £ for his second subscription – & without such assistance it could not have been set on foot.

God bless you

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

Monday. 9 Dec. 1799.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W W Wynn Esqr/ 5 Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London/ direct Kingsdown Parade/ Bristol
Postmark: B/ DEC 10/ 99
Endorsement: Dec 9 1799
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The idea that tuberculosis could be cured by living in a barn, next to cattle. For Beddoes’s experiment see Morning Post, 22 November 1799, which had announced that Thomas Beddoes’s ‘An Account of the Effects of Residence with Cows, in Phthisical Cachexy and in various Stages of Confirmed Pulmonary Consumption’ would be published ‘Speedily’. BACK

[2] On 24 October 1799 (Letter 450), Southey had asked Bedford to find information about the garden of Aloaddin or Aladeules. It was used in a note to Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), Book 7, line 256. BACK

[3] See the extract from Thalaba the Destroyer, Book 2, quoted in Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 28 November 1799, Letter 457. Southey gave some of his sources for this belief about crystals in his note to Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), Book 2, line 237. BACK

[4] Nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’. BACK

[5] The Pneumatic Institute, Dowry Square, Bristol, whose well-connected patrons included Thomas Wedgwood. BACK

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August 2011