475. To James Coleridge Address: Col/l Coleridge | Ottery St Mary | Honiton | Devon MS. British Museum. Hitherto unpublished. Crescelly, Pembroke. Dec. 14. 1802 My dear Brother I left Keswick, Nov. 5 [4], & proceeded immediately to my friend, Mr T. Wedgewood, the state of whose Health & Feelings made me feel it my duty to answer a Letter of his, only by going to him. Since that time we have been moving from one place to -894- another; & your Letter has been so tossed about by cross-winds, that I did not receive it till late, yester evening. -- Indeed, my dear Brother! the account of your health was most deeply interesting to me. I will run the risk of being smiled at by you, by adding my opinions to those you have already received. When George tells you, you are bilious, Ned that you have an acid in your stomach, and Mother, that you have the rheumatic Gout, they all unconsciously equivocate -- in one sense it is false, in another sense true, but trifling. Who does not know, that there exists a close sympathy between the Lungs & the Stomach, & between the Stomach & the Liver? Where the stomach & Lungs are confessedly diseased, the Liver will always secrete the Bile, at times, diseasedly -- in quality or quantity. But what does this tell you more, than if a man should tell you, that you looked yellow, or coughed much? Your own Looking-glass, and your own ears will have informed you whether this is true or no. -- So no doubt a Stomach that turns even Fat acid, will often have an acid in it -- & a Stomach, that generates wind in such quantities, must needs afflict the body with these flying pains, which my Mother calls the rheumatic Gout -- . -- All this is true, but it is likewise trifling. But if they mean more, & say -- that such is the cause of your disorder, they speak without proof -- & I suspect, against probability -- they confound the Symptoms with the primary Disease. Your own account is exceedingly rational -I have no doubt, that you see the Truth / but I suspect, that you do not see it in all it's Bearings. There is only one sentence in your account that I object to -- but that sentence is the most important & has made me very anxious. 'In short, I am not in a Decline because I lose no flesh, and look very healthy.' -- I was with a very shrewd & common sense physician lately, who had much experience in pulmonary consumption, and was enumerating the sources of delusion, which led pulmonary Patients to disbelieve the fact till it became of no use to know it. Among others he particularly stated this one -- almost in your very words. Indeed, indeed, my dear Brother, in the early stage of pulmonary Consumption many Patients even gain flesh, & look more than usually healthy. My little Berkley grew fat and looked healthy to the Hour of his Death -- he was opened, & found to have died of ulcers in his Lungs, & the Lungs exceedingly inflamed. -- Whatever may be the cause of your disorder, whether the circumstances, you have stated, or any thing more latent in your original constitution -- or more probably, both in combination -- the effect however is admitted & certain. You have a weak Stomach, that generates acids & gasses; & you have weak Lungs -- that is, Lungs in an inflamed State, & that inflammation easily exasperated. -- Now do ask any -895- experienced Apothecary, whether slight causes would not convert such a State of Body into pulmonary Consumption? Stomach Weakness, when not relieved by natural Paroxysms of Gout, have [has] a frequent termination in consumption; but surely there is no possible description of pulmonary consumption, which would not include heated & inflammable Lungs, with something like a permanent Cold in the Head, as pulmonary consumption in it's first approaches at least, if not in it's earliest Stage. Probably, there may be 20 different Diseases confounded under one name of pulmonary Consumption / . The Disease, when the same, will probably be greatly modified by the circumstance of it's arising from constitutional predisposing weakness, or from direct personal exposure & overaction. The latter is pretty clearly your case -- & I have not the least doubt, that you would be completely renovated by a year passed in a warm & even climate, without those Drafts of air, & those irritating particles of Sea-coal, which make an English Fire-side (that Father & Mother of all genuine English Virtues) a very stepmother to pulmonary Patients. As to myself, I am determined to pass the next year or two of my Life either at Madeira, or Teneriffe, or Lisbon -- with my Family. -- All this I have written on my own score of information / but let it all go for mere Prattle -- only do let me intreat you, my dear Brother! to write a detailed account of your Health to Dr Beddoes. You & I, I dare say, think much alike of Beddoes's general mind. He is a very ingenious man, of great Learning & very extensive practice -but precipitant, & bold, even to daring -- a passionate Innovator. But there is no man in Europe who has had under his inspection so many cases of Scrofula, Hypochondriasis (or Complaints of the Stomach & other digestive organs) and of consumption, whether purely organical & pulmonary, or scrofulous, or hypochondriac, or all conjoined -- & these in all possible stages of the Disorders, & modified by all possible Differences of Age, Habits, Sex, & Constitution -- . Many sensible Physicians, who hold Beddoes very cheap in general, admit that in the detection of Diseases, & in his deductions from Symptoms, he is perhaps unrivalled. -- It will cost you but a guinea, & it is probable, that from some respect & kindness, he bears to me, he may give more thought to it, than to an ordinary Letter. I wish you only to learn from him what your disorder is -- how far you will adopt his mode of curing it, is quite an after question -- Yet while I write thus, I seem to feel, that no two enlightened Physicians, who had been tolerably conversant with pulmonary cases, could have two different opinions on your case. You are evidently not in a Decline; but as evidently [you have] the Basis, the precurrent & predisposing Causes, of pul- -896- monary Consumption / tho' I have no doubt that if only you will see it, & be somewhat afraid, you will not have the least reason to be alarmed. A warm climate would certainly & immediately effect a cure in your case -- without any danger of relapse on your return to this country -- & I should hope, that even in England care, with a very cautious use of the Tincture of Digitalis, would produce the same effect. But believe me, I am not quite so mad as to wish that you should place any Reliance on my prescriptions. -- May God Almighty preserve you for your family & for your Country! ---- I expect to return to Keswick in a day or two, & that Mr T. Wedgewood will accompany me -- As soon as I arrive, I shall certainly write either to you or to George, & give you all I know of my own plans -- & state to you the principles & the feelings, that prevent me from forming others. At present, my main plan must be to recover my health. My stomach is weak -- & disposed to flatulence with all it's pains & heavinesses -- & I have no [doubt that] there is a taint of Scrofula in my constitution. [By Scroful]a I mean no more than an inirritable State [of] the muscles, with deficient venous action, & a languor of the absorbents -- accompanied with an undue sensibility of the nervous system, or of whatever unknown parts of our body are the more immediate Instruments of Feeling & Idea. Where you find a man indolent in body & indisposed to definite action, but with lively Feelings, vivid ideal Images, & a power & habit of continuous Thinking, you may always, I believe, suspect a somewhat of Scrofula -- With me it is something more than a suspicion -- I had several glandular Swellings at School -- & within the last four years a Lump has formed on my left cheek, just on the edge of my whisker -- . The swellings in my knees were from the same cause. -- For my Stomach I have found great relief in taking Ginger Tea with milk & sugar -- & just at the moment of dinner, two or three pills, containing in the whole -- four or five Grains of Rhubarb mixed up in gum water with an equal or greater quantity of Ginger. This no doubt must have been often recommended to you -- [& no doubt] you have tried it. In my diet I prefer simple to seasoned, solids to fluids, and animal food to vegetable -- I sacredly abstain from Tea, which turns acid on my stomach, & is assuredly a poison to weak stomachs -- likewise as sacredly from all wine, spirits, & fermented liquors. If I am at any time very languid, & a faint head-ach & troubled bowels give me the warning, I prefer ether in small quantities with camphorated Julep, or half a grain of opium, to wine or spirit -- & my Health has improved, astonishingly, since I adopted this regimen. But warmth, warm cloathing, & tranquillity of mind, are things of absolute necessity with me. -- -897- I doubt whether I shall reach Keswick before I have to announce another Coleridge to you -- I long very much -- indeed, my whole inside yearns -- to see you all -- & your dear little ones. -- My best duty to my Mother -- my Love to Mrs James, love to the big Children, & kisses to the little ones -- love to George, Mrs George, to Edward & his Wife. May Heaven bless you all! I am, dear Brother, your's with unfeigned Affection, & a deep Esteem S. T. Coleridge -- I write from Mr Allen's Seat -- one of whose Daughters is married to Mr Drew: ---- & 2 others to John & Josiah Wedgewood.