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Darwin's Illness$

Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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Treatments from Father, Father's Death, Prolonged Vomiting, and Treatments from Dr. Gully with Hydropathy at Malvern

Treatments from Father, Father's Death, Prolonged Vomiting, and Treatments from Dr. Gully with Hydropathy at Malvern

(p.41) 6 Treatments from Father, Father's Death, Prolonged Vomiting, and Treatments from Dr. Gully with Hydropathy at Malvern
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

Abstract and Keywords

Charles Darwin's 1842–45 letters to his Shrewsbury family reveal how he continued to depend on his father for advice, assistance, and medical treatment. During these years, Darwin's father remained in good health and spirits. However, he had periods of illness in 1846 and 1847. This caused Darwin to have accentuations of illness and to begin to realize that “Father's death [was] drawing slowly nearer & nearer”. From July 1848 through March 1849, he suffered from attacks of “violent vomiting”, that along with shivering, trembling, and languor were associated with a “swimming” head and black spots before his eyes. The apparent causes for these attacks were feelings of grief and loss over the loss of his father, and his work of classifying barnacles, which he found arduous, frustrating, time-consuming, and of questionable value. Darwin tried Dr. James Gully's hydropathy treatment. One reason for feeling stronger and less depressed, despite still vomiting, was that the Malvern treatments had “at once relieved” him of the nocturnal obsessions that interfered with sleep. As a result of the Malvern treatments, his health and mood improved in a variety of ways.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, death, violent vomiting, Dr. James Gully, hydropathy treatment, Malvern treatments, Shrewsbury

Darwin's 1842–45 letters to his Shrewsbury family reveal how he continued to depend on his father for advice, assistance, and medical treatments. In a September 1842 letter to Catherine, he requested his father's opinion on a letter he had written to Mr. Cockell, a surgeon at Down whom he had decided to employ. He then asked his father to pay for medicines sent to him by the Shrewsbury chemist Thomas Blunt and to write the dosages for children on a list of medicines that he used. (At this time, his son William was three years old, and his daughter Annie, eighteen months.)1

In November 1844, he wrote Susan: “Thank, also, my Father for his medical advice—I have been very well since Friday, nearly as well as during the first fortnight & am in heart again about the non-sugar plan.—I am trying the very bitter, weak, but thoroughly fermented Indian Ale, for luncheon & it suits me very well.”2 Indian Ale, also called bitter ale, was bitter because it contained hops, a plant which was “stomachic and tonic” and “slightly narcotic” and which belonged to a class of vegetable medicinal substances known as “bitters.”3 Darwin may have used hops at least once previously in 1836.4 The “non-sugar plan” may refer to the prevailing medical notion that “in some constitutions there is a peculiar tendency to an abnormal oxidation” of sugar into poisonous oxalic acid, and that because of this, these individuals were sometimes benefited by an injunction to abstain entirely from sugar.5 Darwin had a strong penchant for eating sweets, and it is not known for how long he was able to follow Dr. Darwin's sugar-free diet.6

In a September 1845 letter to Susan, he reported to his father: “I have taken my Bismuth regularly, I think it has not done me quite so much good as before; (p.42) but I am recovering from too much exertion with my Journal.”7 Emma's diary records that he had previously taken bismuth on six days in September 1840. Bismuth nitrate was used to treat stomach pains and chronic vomiting. It was held that, since bismuth was apparently not absorbed by the intestines, it exerted its therapeutic effect “by simply cloaking some of the delicate or irritable portions of the mucous surface with an insoluble white covering.” At this time bismuth presumably did not benefit Darwin, for he makes no further reference to it.8 The “Journal” that he mentions was the second edition of his Beagle, Journal of Researches, where he presented some of the evidence for transmutation that had especially influenced his thinking, while carefully refraining from mentioning the possibility of transmutation. Emma observed that he had taken “a great deal of pains” in preparing the edition and that writing it had “overtired him a good deal.”9

In November 1845, Darwin informed Hooker that he was undergoing a new kind of treatment. “I have been unusually well for a week past, owing, I believe, to what sounds a great piece of quackery, viz twice a day passing a galvanic stream through my insides from a small-plate battery for half an hour. I think it certainly has relieved some of my distressing symptoms.” He was describing the application to his body of an electric current from a voltaic battery, a treatment known as “galvanisation” that was popular during the first half of the nineteenth century. In January 1846, Emma observed that he continued to be “unusually well” and “in good heart about galvanism.” A month later, he stopped galvanism, when it did not prevent him suffering “three days bad sickness.”10

In the summer of 1846, he alternated treatments. On 24 June, he first reported to Emma (who was away from Down), “I was sick in middle of day, but two pills of opium righted me surprisingly afterwards.” He rarely used opium, probably because he feared its dulling effects on thinking.11 The next day he wrote Emma: “I have been stomachy & sick again, but not very uncomfortable: I will take bluepill again.” While his use of the blue pill, mercuric chloride, was a change over his past use of calomel, he would continue to use calomel. It is not known when or why he made this change or how frequently he then used each of these mercury medications.12 In July, having had a “good deal more sickness than usual,” he recommenced a course of galvanism, evidently hoping that he would again experience its positive effects. This did not occur, however, and he probably stopped galvanism sometime in 1846.13

Darwin's custom was to visit his Shrewsbury family for about two weeks, in the spring and fall, and often report on his visits to Emma. When he was at (p.43) Shrewsbury in October 1843, he wrote her the following: “By the way I told him [Dr. Darwin] of my dreadful numbness in my finger ends, & all the sympathy I could get, was ‘yes, yes exactly—tut-tut, neuralgic, exactly yes yes’—Nor will he sympathise about money ‘stuff & nonsense’ is all he says to my fears of ruin & extravagance.” While Father was trying to reassure him that the paresthesia of his hands and fears of financial ruin should not be taken seriously, he regarded this reassurance as lacking the sympathy he received from Emma. His finger numbness was probably a psychosomatic symptom resulting from the anxieties he was feeling at this time.14 A year later, after writing to Emma of the admiration Susan and his father had expressed for her, he added his own thoughts about being her invalid husband: “I did not require to be reminded how well, my own dear wife, you have born your dull life with your poor old sickly complaining husband. Your children will be a greater comfort to you than I ever can be, God bless them and you.”15

During these years, Darwin's father remained in good health and spirits. However in 1846 and 1847, when he was eighty and eighty-one, he had periods of illness. This caused Darwin to have accentuations of illness and to begin to realize that “Father's death [was] drawing slowly nearer & nearer.”16

In 1848, Darwin visited Shrewsbury in the last two weeks in May, and from there he wrote Emma a succession of letters reporting Dr. Darwin's failing health and his fluctuations of illness. At first he wrote that, although his father had an occasional “dyeing sensation,” he “thought with care he might live a good time longer, & that when he dyed, it would probably be suddenly which was best.” In later letters, he wrote that his father's health was “rapidly breaking up” and that while he was “very cheerful at cards … the day here is almost continual anxiety.” In his last May letter to Emma, he reported in detail how he experienced a sudden attack of illness that “came on with fiery spokes & dark clouds before my eyes: then sharpies shivery & rather bad not very bad sickness.” He added, “Yesterday … I felt rather faint & had a slight shaking fit & little vomiting and & … slept too heavily; so today am languid & stomach bad, but I do not think I shall have any more shivering & I care for nothing else.” Shivering, perhaps, exhausted him more than his other symptoms. Then he wrote Emma that while Sister Susan had been “very kind” in her care of him: “I did yearn for you. Without you, when sick I feel most desolate. … Oh Mammy I do long to be with you & under your protection for then I feel safe.”17

After returning to Down in June, he again visited Shrewsbury from 10 to 26 October, and later recollected that he found his father “comfortable” and appearing “serene & cheerful.”18 Three weeks later, Catherine wrote him that (p.44) Dr. Darwin had died on the morning of 13 November and that his funeral would be on 18 November. Because of illness, Darwin did not leave Down until 17 November, and he arrived too late to attend the funeral. After a week at Shrewsbury, he returned to Down on 26 November.19

From July 1848 through March 1849, he suffered from attacks of “violent vomiting,” once or twice a week, that along with shivering, trembling, and languor were associated with a “swimming” head and black spots before his eyes.20 The apparent causes for these attacks were feelings of grief and loss over the loss of his father, on whom he depended for so many things in life, and his work of classifying barnacles, which he found arduous, frustrating, time-consuming, and of questionable value. In 1848, he told acquaintances that most of his friends laughed at his barnacle work and that “in truth never will a mountain of labour have brought forth such a mouse as my book on the Cirripedia.”21 However, in letters to Fox and Hooker, while he reported grief over his father's death, he did not state that this grief was a cause for his illness.

Because of the attacks of violent vomiting, he had several changes in his activities and thoughts: he was only able to work on barnacles one out of three days, he came to fear that he was now “rapidly” dying (a change from his previous fears of dying from heart disease), and he became so depressed and “dispirited” that he did not answer letters from Hooker and other friends and withdrew from most social activities.22 Many years later, he recollected that at this time, in addition to vomiting, dizziness, fears of death, and depression, he had nocturnal obsessional thoughts, so that “whatever I did in the day haunted me at night with most vivid & most wearing repetition.”23 These obsessions may have been stimulated by his daily worries over time lost in work on barnacles and by worries over not replying to information in the letters from Hooker and others.24

In December 1848, a month after his father's death, he consulted Dr. Henry Holland, who became his main doctor until February 1849. Dr. Holland told him his illness was not quite dyspepsia “but nearer to suppressed gout” and that he had never seen such a case.25 He treated him with varying doses of calomel and then bismuth. These treatments did not alleviate the distress of the illness.26 On 1 January 1849, Darwin began keeping a daily diary of his health, perhaps because he thought that it would be a source of information for Dr. Holland and other physicians he might consult. From January through March, he only reported a few observations on his illness: the times that he vomited, the appearance of boils, and times when he felt “poorly.”

The ineffectiveness of Dr. Holland's treatments inclined Darwin to think (p.45) of trying Dr. James Gully's hydropathy treatment, which he had been urged to try by his Beagle friend Bartholomew Sulivan and then by Fox.27 In 1842, Dr. Gully and Dr. James Wilson had founded hydropathic establishments in Malvern, which in several years had become famous for successfully treating many ordinary and eminent Victorians (including Tennyson, Carlyle, Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton, and Wilkie Collins).28 In 1846, Dr. Gully had published a book, The Water Cure in Chronic Disease, that was widely read and that appeared in two editions within nine months after publication.

In this book, he argued that disease was caused by a faulty supply of blood to the internal viscera and that hydropathy—the application of cold water to the body—corrected this fault by shifting blood from the viscera to the less important body parts of the skin. He reported how at Malvern he had successfully treated cases of long-standing dyspepsia with a daily regimen of hydropathy, early rising, walks, a diet of plain food, and drinking spring water. Dr. Gully asserted that this regimen was superior to other treatments for dyspepsia, which he called “violent and irrational,” and that “I cannot but repeat the strong conviction I have that medication never did, never will, never can, cure a case of chronic dyspepsia, and that short of organic change, the hygienic water treatment seldom, if ever, fails to cure it.”29

By the middle of February 1849, Darwin had read The Water Cure, communicated with Dr. Gully, and decided to go to Malvern and try hydropathy for about two months, a decision not supported by Dr. Holland. “It will cause a sad delay in my Barnacle work,” he told a scientific colleague, “but if once half-well I cd do more in six months than I now do in two years.”30

On 10 March, with Emma and their six children, a governess and servants, he moved to Malvern. Here he rented the Lodge, a large villa, and attended Dr. Gully's establishment as an outpatient.31 Although he had no faith in Gully's homeopathic medicines, he quickly formed a warm respect for him. “I like Dr Gully much,” he wrote Susan, “he is certainly an able man: I have been struck with how many remarks he has made similar to those of my Father.”32 (He and Gully had been contemporaries at Edinburgh Medical School and were only one year apart in age.) Gully diagnosed Darwin as suffering from a form of indigestion he called “nervous dyspepsia.” In The Water Cure, he described this disorder as a “chronic excess and congestion of blood in the nutritive blood vessels … of the stomach, or … the ganglionic nerves that supply the stomach. The effect of this congestion is to interfere with the quality of the blood, and its organic sympathy with the vessels which contain it … forming the acidity so much talked about dyspeptics … and the much-dreaded flatulence.” He (p.46) believed that “the close application of the mind to any one subject, whether it be abstruse or superficial … ranks among the frequent causes of nervous dyspepsia.”33

In The Water Cure, he delineated a course of treatments for nervous dyspepsia, which he began at once to apply to Darwin, who then recounted them in a letter to Susan that was written nine days after he arrived at Malvern:

As you say you want my hydropathical diary, I will give it you … —1/4 before 7. get up, & am scrubbed with rough towel in cold water for 2 or 3 minutes, which after the few first days, made & makes me very like a lobster—I have a washerman, a very nice person, & he scrubs behind, whilst I scrub in front.34—drink a tumbler of water & get my clothes on as quick as possible & walk for 20 minutes—I cd. walk further, but I find it tires me afterwards—I like all this very much.35—At same time I put on my compress, which is a broad wet folded linen covered by a mackintosh & which is “refreshed”—ie dipt in cold water every 2 hours & I wear it all day, except for about 2 hours after midday dinner; I don't perceive much effect from this of any kind.—After my walk, shave & wash & get my breakfast, which was to have been exclusively toast with meat or egg, but he has allowed me a little milk to sop the stale toast in. At no time must I take any sugar, butter, spices tea bacon or anything good.36 At 12 oclock I put my feet for ten minutes in cold water with a little mustard & they are violently rubbed by my man; the coldness makes my feet ache much, but upon the whole my feet are certainly less cold than formerly.37—Walk for 20 minutes & dine at one.—He has relaxed a little about my dinner & says I may try plain pudding, if I am sure it lessens sickness.

After dinner lie down & try to go to sleep for one hour.—At 5 oclock feet in cold water—drink cold water & walk as before.38—Supper same as breakfast at 6 oclock.—I have had much sickness this week, but certainly I have felt much stronger & the sickness has depressed me much less.39

One reason for feeling stronger and less depressed, despite still vomiting, was that Malvern treatments had “at once relieved” him of the nocturnal obsessions that interfered with sleep.40

As his health continued to improve, he resumed correspondence with friends, and eighteen days after arriving at Malvern he wrote Hooker (who was in India) the following:

(p.47) I … now have had no vomiting for 10 days. D.r G. feels pretty sure he can do me good, which most certainly the regular Doctors could not. At present, I am heated by Spirit lamp till I stream with perspiration, & am then suddenly rubbed violently with towels dripping with cold water.41 … I mention all this to you, as being a medical man, you might possibly like to hear about it. I feel certain that the Water Cure is no quackery. How I shall enjoy getting back to Down with renovated health, if such be my good fortune, & resuming the beloved Barnacles.

To this, Hooker replied:

Your bettered health rejoices me greatly, I pray God Malvern & the cold water will do you good, I do indeed court all the medical details you send, & boring though it be to recapitulate such things, would beg you to continue to me particulars of your case. I read that part of your letter with as much interest as any other, & that is saying a great deal, for all your gossip is dearly welcome to me.42

In the following months, as a result of the Malvern treatments, his health and mood improved in a variety of ways. He remained free of vomiting, and his appetite and strength increased, so that he gained weight and went on daily walks of seven miles. In addition, he began to more closely scrutinize how he felt, so that in his health diary he recorded his daily health, whereas previously he had recorded only days when he was ill. He resumed correspondence with friends, talked to Susan when she visited him at Malvern, remembered his father with the “sweetest pleasure,” and probably stopped fearing he was dying. In several letters, he reported that he was feeling “indolence & stagnation of mind,” which meant that for a time he was freed from many anxieties.43

His health improvements resulted from a combination of several causes, in addition to the effects of hydropathy: He was free from the pressures of scientific work. By living in his own house, he avoided being exposed to the stresses of conversing with strangers. There was the daily solace of Emma, whom he described as thinking “as much about me as I do even myself.”44 Of special importance were his feelings for Dr. Gully.

In his sojourn at Malvern, he was impressed by Dr. Gully's attentiveness, kindness, flexibility, and “caution” (a word he used several times about Dr. Gully) in making large and small changes in his treatments.45 He developed a confidence in Dr. Gully resembling the confidence he had in Dr. Darwin, (p.48) which enabled him to persevere in carrying out unpleasant treatments.46 His eight-year-old daughter, Annie, told her governess how he “liked” hydropathy, but that it sometimes made him “so angry” and “cross.” While he first complained of the “excessive irritation of skin brought on by rubbings and cold water baths,” he believed (with Dr. Gully) that this would pass, and then he came to believe that “the violent excitement of the skin” had rested his stomach and checked vomiting.47

He was also impressed that there were “many patients” at Malvern and that Dr. Gully “must be making an immense fortune.” At Malvern, he paid Dr. Gully two to three guineas a week, plus a weekly payment of four shillings to his washerman.48

At the end of his stay at Malvern, in a letter to Fox after first reporting how Dr. Gully had directed that he continue to take hydropathy treatments at Down for a year, he then summed up his thoughts on the condition of his stomach, the value of hydropathy, and his medical debt to Fox:

I consider the sickness [vomiting] as absolutely cured. And 3 weeks since I had 12 hours without any flatulence, which showed me that it was possible that even that can be cured, as Dr. G. has always said he could.

The Water Cure is assuredly a grand discovery & how sorry I am I did not hear of it, or rather that I was not somehow compelled to try it some five or six years ago. Much I owe to you for your large share in making me go this Spring.49

On 30 June, he and his family returned home.50 He had stayed at Malvern for sixteen weeks, the longest continuous period he would ever be away from Down.


(1.) Edgar Cockell was surgeon and apothecary at Down, circa 1840–55, and a member of the Royal College of Physicians. He was in attendance when Emma gave birth to Mary Eleanor on 23 September 1842. Correspondence, 2: 332–33.

(2.) Correspondence, 3: 86.

(3.) Royle and Headland 1865, 602. “Bitters were substances which were bitter to the taste—this was held to be due to an inherent “bitter principle”—and which were thought to act as “tonics” by giving a “salutary” stimulation to stomach and system in general. There was a variance of medical opinion about the use of bitters in dyspepsia. Dr. Holland held that their use had been “too large and indiscriminate” and that “there are various states of stomach in which the ordinary dose and strength of bitter infusions are injurious; while obvious good is got from a more moderate employment of the same means … the best mode of using bitters is in direct combinations with the aperient which may be necessary. Thereby a smaller quantity of the latter is usually rendered effectual; and the noxious effects of repetition materially abated.” Holland 1840, 378–79. Dr. Brinton would write: “The various vegetable bitters claim peculiar notice … because (p.271) their effects [in dyspepsia] are more uniform and beneficial than those of most other medicines … most of them increase the appetite … their prolonged use produces such invigorating effects on the constitution, as to almost suggest some definite chemical purpose being subserved by their addition to the constituents of the organism, beyond any merely alternative effect.” Brinton 1859, 385–86.

(4.) Moorehead 1969, 252.

(5.) Headland 1852, 107.

(6.) “Reminiscences,” L&L, 1: 96.

(7.) Correspondence, 3: 247.

(8.) Royle and Headland 1865, 186. “Bismuth, some of the effects of which may perhaps be regarded as tonic, is still more useful as a remedy against that form of dyspepsia which constitutes the ‘morbid sensibility of the stomach’ specified by older writers. Here its effects in allaying flatulence and nausea, and in preventing vomiting, and (still more) in checking the pain produced by food, are so marked, that we may fairly accept the term of sedative often applied to it.” Brinton 1859, 388.

(9.) Colp 1986, 22–23; Emma Darwin (1904), 2: 81.

(10.) Correspondence, 3: 264, 265, note 6, 287; Emma Darwin (1904), 2: 85. For the history of galvanism, see Licht 1967, 18–19, 24–30, and Rowbottom and Susskind 1984, chapters 3 and 4. Dr. Darwin's views on galvanism are not known.

(11.) Correspondence, 3: 325. Opium had been used by Darwin's grandfather (who had caused his grandmother, and then his uncle Tom Wedgwood, to become addicted to the drug), and by his father (see Dr. Darwin's prescriptions in Colp 1977, receipts and memoranda book). His brother Erasmus may have been addicted to opium. Correspondence, 2: 236.

(12.) Correspondence, 3: 326. The use of mercuric chloride was controversial. Some considered it a poison and were against its use. Royle and Headland 1865, 212. Henry Holland, however, wrote that mercuric chloride was “one of the most valuable remedies we possesse” and “on the whole as safe a medicine as Calomel in the hands of the practitioner.” Holland 1855, 539–40.

(13.) Correspondence, 3: 327. Darwin would again use a form of galvanism in 1851.

(14.) Correspondence, 2: 399. Darwin would also report psychosomatic sensory changes in a letter to Dr. Henry Bence Jones on 2 August 1870.

(15.) Correspondence, 3: 68.

(16.) Correspondence, 3: 327; 4: 10, 24; 13: 245.

(17.) Corespondence, 4: 142–43, 144, 145, 146, 147, 384.

(18.) Corespondence, 4: 209.

(19.) Corespondence 4: 182–83, 385.

(20.) Corespondence, 4: 239, 269, 384–85.

(21.) St 2003, 85, 98, 145, 176, 259; Correspondence, 4: 136, 154; Browne 1995, 448.

(22.) Correspondence, 4: 227.

(23.) Correspondence, 7: 462.

(24.) “At night … anything which had vexed or troubled him [Darwin] in the day would haunt him, and I think it was then that he suffered if he had not answered some troublesome person's letter.” “Reminiscences,” L&L, 1: 102.

(25.) Darwin's account book for 1848 contains a payment to Dr. Holland of 1/1/0 [one pound, one shilling] on 17 December. There are no entries of payments to Dr. Holland in January and February 1849. Correspondence, 4: 209. For a discussion of the concept of “suppressed gout,” see chapter 16.

(26.) Emma's diary for 1849 lists the following medicines for successive days in January: 8, “½ gr cal[omel]”; 10, “29 ½ cal[omel]”; 21, “1 ½ g. calomel”; 26, “began bizmuth.” Although it is not specified who these medicines were for (and they are not mentioned in Darwin's health diary), since they were medicines favored by Dr. Darwin and previously used by Darwin, it seems likely that they were for Darwin's use. The medicines may have been suggested by Dr. Holland, who greatly favored the use of mercury medicines.

(27.) Sulivan urged Darwin to try hydropathy during a visit to Down in the fall of 1848, when Dr. Darwin was still alive. Darwin then wrote to Shrewsbury asking for his father's opinion. His father replied that he should try hydropathy, but not until spring. Bartholomew Sulivan to Joseph Hooker, not dated (but probably written soon after Darwin's death), DAR 107: ff 43–47. Fox wrote Darwin soon after his father's death, mentioning several cases that had benefited from Dr. Gully's hydropathy. Correspondence, 4: 209.

(28.) Browne 1995, 493.

(29.) Gully 1846, 192, 193. Italics in original.

(30.) Darwin's account book for 1849 has a payment to Dr. Gully on 14 February. Letters between Darwin and Dr. Gully have not been found. Correspondence, 4: 219.

(31.) Correspondence, 4: 209, 219, 226, 227, 385; Browne 1995, 493–94.

(32.) Correspondence, 4: 224–25.

(33.) Gully 1846, 127–28, 161; Correspondence, 4: 225, note 1; Browne 1995, 494–95.

(34.) The aim of hydropathy treatment was “to produce a counteraction, resembling as nearly as possible in its character that which it is intended to remove—namely, a nervous irritation … that amount of cutaneous irritation which is exhibited in a rash or itchy eruption. A good deal of friction is therefore desirable.” Gully 1846, 158.

(35.) “A very nice part of treatment to adjust is the amount of exercise. In the majority of cases, it should be very sparingly used, because in exercise there is an exertion of the seat of the will, the brain and the spinal cord, which are already kept in an irritated state by the digestive disorder. … These cases require all the acumen of the practitioner; for on the question of exercise hinges that of the amount of water treatment, much of the latter demanding more of the former, and vice versa. … The rule to determine the amount and kind of exercise in nervous dyspepsia is to watch the effect of walking on the viscera.” Gully 1846, 159–60.

(36.) As regards the diet in nervous dyspepsia, “the remedies should be chiefly negative—the withdrawal of irritating food and beverage … of all the forms of indigestion the nervous requires the most accurate adaptation of diet to the Protean changes of the (p.273) functions—changes which no writing could convey to the reader … professional experience alone can detect the causes for its daily or weekly alteration.” Gully 1846, 154–55.

(37.) “The foot baths … afford by the combined cold and friction, an amount of nervous stimulation to the centre of nutrition, which tends to dissipate the congestion of its nerves; and thus it is that this simple remedy so often brings instant relief to malaise, or pain of stomach or head.” Gully 1846, 158.

(38.) Since some patients needed to take hot water with food, “drinking cold water requires in many instances … to be very gradually applied. … In proportion as the positive remedies produce a sedative effect on the stomach, the quantity of water may be increased and its temperature decreased.” Gully 1846, 156.

(39.) Correspondence, 4: 224–26.

(40.) Correspondence, 7: 462.

(41.) Dr. Gully had introduced the “lamp bath” into the process of hydropathy. “Up to that time the system had but one sudorfic process, the blanket sweat—by means of which several blankets with an eiderdown on the top. This was a powerful though slow process of inducing perspiration, taking from one to two hours. The lamp bath, by greatly curtailing the time of the sudorfic process, had its merits and to a certain extent superseded the blanket pack.” Metcalfe 1912, 73. An eiderdown was a quilt or pillow that was stuffed with the feathers of the eider duck.

(42.) Correspondence, 4: 227, 242.

(43.) Correspondence, 4: 225, 226, 227, 234.

(44.) Correspondence, 4: 225.

(45.) Correspondence, 4: 225, 226, 234, 235, 246.

(46.) Correspondence, 4: 224. “It has been said of Dr. Gully by one who knew him: ‘As a doctor no one ever consulted Dr. Gully without feeling himself in the grasp of a master mind. His profoundness, penetration, and resources were remarkable, and such as none could forget who ever consulted him. His was a deeply philosophical as well as a medical mind, and it was the intimate feeling of his profoundness and might that gave Dr. Gully such power of fascination over patients. At the sick bed his presence always gave relief and assurance. No one could ever look into his ruddy face, mostly lighted up with a smile, and not debit the consciousness that he was equal to the emergency, however great it might be.’” Metcalfe 1912, 73–74.

(47.) Correspondence, 4: 225, 226, 239.

(48.) Correspondence, 4: 234–35.

(49.) Correspondence, 4: 246.

(50.) Correspondence, 4: 385.