Writes a detailed account of his treatment at J. M. Gully's hydropathy establishment at Malvern.
My dear Susan.
As you say you want my hydropathical diary, I will give it you —though tomorrow it is to change to a certain extent.—
After dinner lie down & try to go to sleep for one hour.— At
5 olock feet in cold water—drink cold water & walk as
before— 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.— Tomorrow I am to be packed at 6 oclock
He is very kind & attentive; but seems puzzled with my case—thinks my
head or top of spinal chord cause of mischief— He
has generously allowed me 6 pinches of snuff for all this week, which is my chief comfort except thinking all day of myself
& prosing to Emma, who bless her old soul, thinks as much about me as I do even
myself.— I am become perfectly indolent which I feel the oddest change of all
to myself & this letter is the greatest mental effort done by me since coming
here— My dearest sisters I wish I c
My dears | Yours affectionly | C. D.
Perhaps Marianne & the Doctor w
Annie was telling Miss Thorley all her Papa had to do about the water cure & how he liked it. “And it makes Papa so angry”. Miss T. must have thought it a very odd effect. He said it did make him feel cross. Papa was present at this conversation
- f1 1234.f1CD's course of treatment is that laid out by James Manby Gully in his discussion of the treatment of nervous indigestion or dyspepsia in Gully 1846, pp. 154–62. Gully defined the complaint as ‘a chronic excess and congestion of blood in the … ganglionic nerves that surround and supply the stomach’ (p. 127) and 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’ (p. 161). The object of the 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. For instance, it is not desired to produce a suppurative congestion of the skin,—such as would generate boils,—but that amount of cutaneous irritation which is exhibited in a rash or itchy eruption. A good deal of friction is therefore desirable’ (p. 158).
- f2 1234.f2From this time onwards, CD always took a short walk before breakfast (LL 1:112).
- f3 1234.f3According to Gully 1846, pp. 154–5, in the treatment of 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 functions … professional experience alone can detect the causes for its daily or weekly alteration.’
- f4 1234.f4Wet-sheet packing, first introduced into England by James Wilson after his visit to the famous hydropathic establishment of Vincent Priessnitz at Graefenberg (Metcalfe 1906), was used by Gully for ‘lowering the energy of the brain’ which, in turn, subdued the irritation of the stomach. However, he urged extreme caution in its application to cases of nervous indigestion because prolonged use could aggravate many of the symptoms of the disease. The dripping sheet was considered an essential follow-up, as it gently stimulated the skin after the wet-sheet packing (Gully 1846, pp. 159, 599). All the treatments replicated those advocated by Priessnitz in Graefenberg.
- f5 1234.f5Gully was strongly against the administration of medical drugs for chronic disorders (Gully 1846, p. 513 n.) and cautious in his use of homoeopathic remedies: ‘although I might be induced to try to subdue a passing but troublesome symptom, I could not trust to remove the essential nature of a chronic malady by homœopathic means’ (Gully 1846, p. 83 n.). For CD's opinion of homoeopathy see letter to W. D. Fox, 4 September .
- f6 1234.f6In his discussion of the causes, progress, and termination of chronic diseases, Gully stated: ‘As the brain and spinal cord represent an immense mass of blood-vessels and ganglionic nerves, and are thereby kept in a state of close organic sympathy with the central portions of the organic nerves, and thence with the rest of the body, it might be expected that irritation of these organs would tend powerfully to cause and maintain chronic disorder; and constant experience shows such to be the case. Intellectual labour and moral anxiety each or conjointly keep up the derangement of other parts … [the digestive organs], in return, maintain the irritation of the brain, and the unlucky patient is the prey of two chronic mischiefs, which few can long withstand. Cause and effect become confused, and the practitioner is puzzled where to begin’ (Gully 1846, pp. 85–6). With specific reference to dyspepsia, he believed that ‘the nervous, or the brain symptoms of chronic indigestion … are all reducible, in their point of origin, to three positions—viz., the spinal cord, the grey matter of the brain, and the white matter of the brain’ (pp. 140–1).
- f7 1234.f7This was contrary to Gully's determined statement in his book: ‘Besides alcoholic stimulants, give up the scarcely less deletorious stimulus of tobacco, in the shapes of snuffing and smoking. Both tell injuriously on the nerves of the stomach as well as on the brain … I defy any one to cure a nervous disorder or shattered constitution whilst the patient is allowed to snuff or smoke tobacco. I would have no patient who refused to give it up’ (Gully 1846, pp. 657–8). By May, Gully had made CD give up snuff (see letter to J. S. Henslow, 6 May 1849).
- f8 1234.f8The only record of a visit from either Susan or Catherine Darwin to Malvern is in Emma Darwin's diary on 31 May 1849, where she noted that ‘Susan came’.
- f9 1234.f9Marianne and Henry Parker.
- f10 1234.f10Anne Elizabeth Darwin.
- f11 1234.f11The last paragraph is in Emma Darwin's hand.