Etty [Henrietta Darwin] very ill with diphtheria.
My dear Hooker
Poor dear Etty has been very seriously ill with Dipterithes (or some such name) but she is better this morning I am nearly sure. It has been a most suffering illness, with dreadful inflammation of whole throat. She will, I fear, be some time in getting her strength & will require constant attention. We are both rather knocked up & I have not spirits to see anyone, even you, at present. Fate seems determined to deny me the pleasure of seeing you. I fear that you will be wearied out with being put off.— It was very lucky you did not come here on last Saturday, for the attack began that morning, & our friends had to go. Some think the complaint infectious, which would be another reason for your not coming.— Thank God, I feel pretty sure, that all danger is over: but the Doctor has not been here yet & he damped us yesterday much.—
My dear friend | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin
For Dipterithes it was a mild attack; there was no actual choking, but immense discharge & much pain & inability to speak or swallow & very weak & rapid pulse, with a fearful tongue.—
- f1 2290.f1Diphtheritis or diphtheria is a condition in which the air passages become covered with a leathery membrane. The condition was relatively unknown in Britain before the epidemic of 1857–8. Henrietta Emma Darwin had fallen ill on 18 June (Emma Darwin's diary).
- f2 2290.f2For CD's invitation to Hooker, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 18 [May 1858].