Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29

Let's take a look at an interesting letter from Miss Barrett to her Greek scholar friend Hugh Boyd from May 29, 1840. Miss Barrett is in Torquay for her health and she sends a charming letter in response to a greeting from Boyd sent from his new home in Hampstead:

"Yes indeed; you do treat me very shabbily. I agree with you in thinking so. To think that so many hills and woods should interpose between us—that I should be lying here, fast bound by a spell, a sleeping beauty in a forest, and that you, who used to be such a doughty knight, should not take the trouble of cutting through even a hazel tree with your good sword, to find out what had become of me. Now do tell me, the hazel tree being down at last, whether you mean to live at Hampstead, whether you have taken a house there and have carried your books there, and wear Hampstead grasshoppers in your bonnet (as they did at Athens) to prove yourself of the soil.
All this nonsense will make you think I am better, and indeed I am pretty well just now—quite, however, confined to the bed—except when lifted from it to the sofa baby-wise while they make it; even then apt to faint. Bad symptoms too do not leave me; and I am obliged to be blistered every few days—but I am free from any attack just now, and am a good deal less feverish than I am occasionally. There has been a consultation between an Exeter physician and my own, and they agree exactly, both hoping that with care I shall pass the winter, and rally in the spring, both hoping that I may be able to go about again with some comfort and independence, although I never can be fit again for anything like exertion...."

A charming letter with an interesting look at her state of health in 1840, before the death of her brother Edward in August. From a modern point of view, the idea that she was so weak that she fainted when she was lift from her bed and yet was bleed every few days seems appalling. But such are the glimpses of another time.

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