A report on his somewhat improved health.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Dr Bence Jones
I have a good report to make. I am able now to walk daily on an
My weight now with slight fluctuations keeps steady at the lowest point to which it has
sunk. I feel altogether much more vigorous & active. I
read more, & what is delightful, I am able to write easy work for about 1
There is an odd change in my stomach, for the last 20 years coffee &
cheese have disagreed with me, now they suit me eminently well. I
yours very faithfully with | cordial thanks | Ch. Darwin
- f1 4968a.f1The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from H. B. Jones, 10 February .
- f2 4968a.f2CD became a patient of Jones's during the summer of 1865; on Jones's recommendation, CD had begun a strict diet (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to Asa Gray, 15 August  and n. 12). CD reported some improvement in his condition in September 1865 (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [or 28 September 1865]). For further discussion of CD's health, see Bowlby 1990, Browne 1998, Colp 1998, and Browne 2002, pp. 262--9. See also Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV, for an account of CD's health in the preceding months.
- f3 4968a.f3In his notes on his health, submitted to John Chapman in May 1865, CD mentioned that he could not walk more than half a mile (see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV). Emma Darwin's diary listed regular walks on the sandwalk (see Atkins 1974, pp. 25--6) between July and early October and walks of between 3 and 5
miles between 5 and 17 October 1865 (DAR 242). 2 3
- f4 4968a.f4In the letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [or 28 September 1865], CD recorded the beneficial effect of his loss of 15 lbs since starting Jones's diet (see Correspondence vol. 13). Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242) shows CD's weight to have been in the range of 11 st. 2 lbs (156 lbs) to 11 st. 4 lbs (158 lbs) during August 1865. Thereafter, her weekly records show CD's progressive loss of weight to 10 st. 4 lbs (144 lbs) by early December 1865. His weight remained stable until late January 1866, rising later in the year to around 10
st. (147 lbs). CD was about six feet in height (LL 1: 109). 1 2
- f5 4968a.f5In his notes on his health dated May 1865, CD wrote that reading caused his ears to sing and interfered with his vision (see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV). CD also mentioned the problem in letters (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker 27 [or 28 September 1865]). In his letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 December  (Correspondence vol. 13), CD said he was able to write for an hour on most days. CD wrote in his `Journal' that he resumed his work on Variation on 25 December 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix II).
- f6 4968a.f6In his May 1865 notes on his health, CD had stated that he seldom suffered from headaches, but noted his chronic flatulence (see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV). CD subsequently underwent Chapman's ice treatment for flatulence and other problems (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to John Chapman, 7 June 1865).
- f7 4968a.f7The entry in Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242) for 8 December 1865 reads `left off sugar'. No other references to the beneficial effects of coffee on CD's health have been found.
- f8 4968a.f8In 1864, CD's illness had caused him to vomit `acid & morbid secretion' (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to J. D. Hooker, [20--]22 February ); these symptoms were treated with antacids by William Jenner (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April  and n. 6). CD's continuing problem with acidity was recorded in the notes on his health of May 1865 (Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix IV and n. 5).
- f9 4968a.f9CD seems to have drunk coffee without problems as a young man (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. D. Fox, 13 November ).
- f10 4968a.f10CD began taking iron in 1864, Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242) recording `began iron' on 12 April, and `began phosph. iron' on 21 August and 21 September. CD took phosphate of iron on Jenner's advice (see Correspondence vol. 12, letters from William Jenner, 15 October 1864 and 9 November 1864). It is not known when, or for what reason, CD started to take oxide of iron; contemporary preparations of oxide of iron and their medicinal properties are described in Royle and Headland 1865, pp. 139--43.
- f11 4968a.f11Muriatic acid was the contemporary term for hydrochloric acid (Royle and Headland 1865, p. 49). A recipe for a remedy consisting of `Oxley's essence of Ginger' and tincture of cayenne in brandy is given by CD in the letter to G. H. Darwin, 22 January 1873 (Calendar no. 8747). Cayenne is derived from species of Capsicum and was used for the treatment of gout and flatulence (Beasley 1865, p. 161). Ginger was valued for its beneficial effects on the stomach (Beasley 1865, p. 537).