2723. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 23 February 1816

2723. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 23 February 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 23 Feby 1816

My dear Harry

Here are some medical extracts for you, – if they serve occasionally to enhance a lecture, or merely to fill one up, even that is something. I will always have a sheet ready for such, & when the leaf is filled it shall be sent off. There are some for Gooch buried in my desk, which I will speedily dig up and dispatch to him.

You must thank Mr Bell for me in form of suitable civility, & of course I will take care that the book be sent him as soon as it appears. [1]  It probably goes to press this day. My task is not yet done. It is like crossing a mountain according to the old simily, – always something more in view. However I am certainly in sight of the summit.

I had a letter from Aunt Mary this week. Some of her Somersetshire friends talk of a trip to the Lakes, & want her to accompany with them. I wrote immediately to enforce their solicitations. She has not yet been able to sell her little property, which is unfortunate, for it gives her trouble & may give her more, requiring repairs &c. Tom has taken Warcop Hall, three miles from Brough toward Appleby: a good house, half-furnished, with good garden & orchard, & in a cheap country – for £30 a year. [2]  Mrs Castle [3]  has found friends who will raise an annuity for her life & Marthas [4]  – equal I suppose to the cost of their maintenance. Miss Castle [5]  is retained in the family of some Mrs Dunn [6]  (you probably know who) – with a salary, & Hannah [7]  also has found a situation. The youngest [8]  who has a legacy of 600 3 per cents, is gone to school. Elinor, has still a provision to seek.  [9] Tom feels his situation, but goes on gaily well as we say in Cumberland, & trusts to the Bank of Faith. [10] 

Poor Lloyd is to be removed to York, [11]  – the boys [12]  remain at school with Mr Dawes at Ambleside, & Mrs Ll & the daughters [13]  are removed into Warwickshire she made us a farewell visit of two or three days, & departed, as you may suppose, heavily depressed.

All the Kosters [14]  are here except the head of the family. Senhor Henrique is putting his Brazilian recollections together, & will bring forth a volume of travels of no ordinary merit. [15]  Poor Mrs K is day & night by the bed of a dying child [16]  – the poor boy suffers nothing, & may be, – indeed has long been – daily expected to fall asleep. – so it may literally be called in his case. Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne – God bless you


Bengal is certainly more healthful to its natives than England is to its inhabitants. the most prevalent diseases are bilious fevers attended with ague, fluxes, the inflammation of the liver, the rheumatism, the spleen – & a dreadful disease among the natives called the Mūhūbade, which is considered by many as the leprosy. It is very common. Hundreds may be seen with their extremities ulcerated & their toes & fingers rotting off, their legs swelled & their faces bloated.

Ward on the Hindoos. I. 163 [17] 


Speaking of the coal pits at Newcastle M Simond says ‘it is remarked that those xxxx employed under ground enjoy better health than those on the surface, the regularity of temperature securing them against many disorders.’

Vol. 2. p. 62. [18] 


‘Devonshire remarkably abounds with persons afflicted with the gout, which is attributed to the custom of marling the lands with lime, & the great use of poor sweet cyder, especially among the meaner people’.

Defoes Tour thro G Britain. I. p. 348. [19] 


In Afghaunistaun, ‘the people in places where the Simoom is frequent, eat garlic, & rub their lips & noses with it when they go out in the heat of summer to prevent their suffering by the simoom. This wind is said to blast trees in its passage, & the hydrophobia, which affects the wolves, jackalls & dogs in some parts of the country is attributed to it.

Elphinstones Account of Caubul p. 140 [20] 


I cannot help telling you of a singular disorder which attacked me the very day I arrived at Avignon, & the still more singular manner I got well. The day before I arrived, we had been almost blown along the road to Orgon by a most violent wind; but I did not perceive that I had received any cold or injury from it, till we arrived here, & then I had such an external soreness from head to foot, that I almost dreaded to walk or stir, and when I did it was as slow as my feet could move. After continuing so for some days, I was much urged to dine with Lord Mountgarret [21]  on St Patrick’s day; I did so, & by drinking a little more than ordinary set nature to work, who without any other Doctor, did the business, by two or three nights copious sweats. I would not have mentioned this circumstance, but it may be the mal du pais, & ought to be mentioned for the method of cure.

Thicknesses Journey in France & Spain. Vol. 2. 59 [22] 


The Chinese physicians never let blood, for they say if the Pot boils too fast there is no need of letting out any of the water, but only of taking away the fire from under it: & so they allay all heats of the blood by abstinence, diet & cooling herbs.

Sir Wm Temples Miscellania [23] 


In Sir Wm Temples Essay On Health & Long Life [24]  you will find a great deal to your purpose so much that I must refer you to it, for the extracts would fill a sheet by themselves


Among the Turks. les médecins ordonnent souvent aux malades de faire venir des conteurs, pour assoupir les douleurs, calmer l’agitation, et rendre le sommeil après de longues insomnies; et ces conteurs, accoutumés à la souffrance, savent moduler leur voix, en adoucir le ton, et la suspendre doucement pour céder au sommeil

Sismondi de la Litterature du midi de l’Europe, I, 65 [25] 


At Cairo is a hospital attached to the Mosque of Sultan Calaoun. Dans l’origins de cet etablissement on avait poussé le luxe et le recherche jusqu au point de faire constuire un superbe berceau pour les malades, au milieu d’une grande cour entourée de galeries, et d’entretinier une troupe de xxxx musiciens pour jouer tous les jours sous le berceau.

Voyages d’Ali bey (the Spaniard.) 2. 244 [26] 


I have somewhere xx a more interesting extract upon this subject which Ali Bey does not seem fully to have understood. the music was considered as medicine, – & so it was in the days of Saul & David. [27]  I will endeavour to find the other passage (which is from the unpublished travels of Turk Eulia Effendi, [28]  & send it in my next. Here is more to the same purport, speaking of the Arabs.

‘Leurs ouvrages sont remplis d’eloges de la musique et de ses merveilleux effets. Ils en attribuaient de tres puissants, non seulement a la musique chantée, mais aux sons de quelques instruments, a certaines cordes d instrumentales comme a certaines inflexions de la voix.

Ginguene Hist. Litteraire d’Italie I. 213 [29] 


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 15 Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 26 FE 26/ 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 3. ALS; 7p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Charles Bell (1774–1842; DNB) had made a drawing of the ‘Entrance to Hougoumont’, an engraving of which appeared in Southey’s The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (London, 1816), between pp. 58–59. He was a colleague of Henry Herbert Southey’s at the Middlesex Hospital. BACK

[2] The Castles, the family of Tom Southey’s wife, Sarah, were in some disarray because of the death of Sarah’s father, Samuel Castle (1758–1815), a Durham solicitor. BACK

[3] Hannah Castle, née Moody (b. 1759), Sarah Castle’s mother. BACK

[4] Martha Castle (b. 1796), sister of Sarah Castle. BACK

[5] Ann Castle (b. 1792), eldest unmarried sister of Sarah Castle. BACK

[6] Probably a member of the Dunn family of Durham, prominent merchants and bankers in the city; Martin Dunn (d. 1818) was twice Lord Mayor of Durham, in 1801 and 1809. BACK

[7] Hannah Castle (b. 1793), sister of Sarah Castle. BACK

[8] Frances Susannah Castle (b. 1801), sister of Sarah Castle. BACK

[9] Eleanor Castle (b. 1797), sister of Sarah Castle. BACK

[10] William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), God the Guardian of the Poor and the Bank of Faith (1785). Southey reviewed Huntington’s Works (1811) in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510, and was fond of quoting him as an example of deluded optimism. BACK

[11] To the Retreat, a Quaker asylum, his mental health having broken down. BACK

[12] Charles Grosvenor Lloyd (1800–1850); James Farmer Lloyd (1801–1881); Owen Lloyd (1803–1841); Edward Lloyd (1804–1865). BACK

[13] Mary-Sophia Lloyd (d. 1853); Priscilla Lloyd (d. 1867); Agatha Lloyd (dates unknown); Louisa Lloyd (1814–1869). BACK

[14] John Theodore Koster had seven daughters: Harriet (b. 1780); Charlotte (b. 1783); Juliana Elizabeth (1788–1790); Maria Susanna (d. 1790); Lucretia (1795–1822); Emma (1797–1817); and Elizabeth (1799–1875). BACK

[15] Henry Koster’s Travels in Brazil (1816) were positively reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

[16] John (b. 1803), the younger son of John Theodore Koster, was at this time gravely ill. BACK

[17] William Ward (1769–1823; DNB), View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos, 2 vols (London, 1817), II, p.163, no. 2979 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[18] Louis Simond (1767–1831), Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain, During the Years 1810 and 1811, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1815), II, p. 62. Simond was reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–574. BACK

[19] Daniel Defoe (1661?–1731; DNB), A Tour Thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain: Divided into Circuits or Journeys. Giving a Particular and Entertaining Account of Whatever is Curious, and Worth Observation, 4 vols (London, 1762), I, p. 362; no. 807 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[20] Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779–1859; DNB), An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, and Its Dependencies in Persia, Tartary and India (London, 1815), p. 140; no. 922 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[21] Edward Butler, 10th Viscount Mountgarret (d. 1779), an Irish Peer. BACK

[22] Philip Thicknesse (1719–1792; DNB), A Year’s Journey Through France and Part of Spain, 2 vols (London, 1789), II, p. 59; no. 2800 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[23] Sir William Temple (1628–1699; DNB), Miscellanea: the First Part (London, 1705), p. 182. BACK

[24] ‘Of health and long life’, The Works of Sir William Temple Bart: Complete in Four Volumes, 4 vols (London, 1814), III, pp. 274–312. BACK

[25] Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi (1773–1842), De la Littérature du Midi de l’Europe, 4 vols (Paris, 1813), I. p. 65; no. 2556 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The extract is translated in Historical View of the Literature of the South of Europe; by J.C.L. Simonde de Sismondi … Translated from the Original, with Notes, by Thomas Roscoe, Esq., 2 vols (London, 1823), II, p. 63, as: ‘The physicians frequently recommend them [storytellers] to their patients, in order to soothe pain, to calm agitation, or to produce sleep after long watchfulness; and these storytellers, accustomed to sickness, modulate their voices, soften their tones, and gently suspend them, as sleep steals over the sufferer’. BACK

[26] Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), Voyages d’Ali Bei en Afrique et en Asie pendant les Annees 1803 a 1807, 2 vols (Paris, 1814), II, p. 244; reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. The extract is translated in Travels of Ali Bey, In Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 and 1807, 2 vols (London, 1816), II, p. 17 as: ‘At the origin of this establishment, they carried the luxury and extravagance so far, as to construct a superb cradle in the middle of a large court, surrounded with galleries for the sick, and to pay a band of musicians to play every day under the cradle’. BACK

[27] 1 Samuel 16:23: ‘And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him’. BACK

[28] The seventeenth-century travel narrative of the Turk ‘Evlia Effendi’ (Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682) in the Ottoman Empire. Southey had been asked by Murray to advise on whether the book should be published in England, but an English translation did not appear until Narrative of Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the Seventeenth Century (1834). BACK

[29] ‘Their works are filled with the praises of music and its marvellous effects. To it they attributed some very powerful [effects] not only to vocal music but to the sounds of some instruments, to certain instrumental strings, like to certain inflections of the voice.’ Pierre-Louis Ginguené (1748–1815), Histoire Littéraire d’Italie, 14 vols (Paris, 1811–1835), I, p. 213. The first 6 volumes were no. 1103 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

Places mentioned

Warcop/ Warcop Hall, near Brough (mentioned 2 times)
Ambleside (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)