Letter from Erasmus Darwin to Ann Watt, 1794/03/12

12 March 1794

Ann Watt was James Watt’s second wife and mother to Jessy. Dr. Darwin treated Jessy during her illnesses, but she was suffering from tuberculosis and died later in 1794, aged 15.

Derby Mar 12-94

Dear Madam,

I am favour’d with your very accurate history of the present stage of health of Miss Jesse; and am sorry to hear, that you think her strength and her flesh less, than when I had the pleasure of seeing her. All her complaints, as well as the want of being out of order, I think are symptoms of general debility; and that general debility I suppose to be owing to her not being able to digest sufficient food.

Whatever therefore strengthens her stomach will be likely most to serve her, and even to produce the catamenia, and to relieve the pains of her sides and head.

I mean to direct her a small blister for her side, if she has pain; otherwise for her back; which has at least a temporary power of affecting the stomach by consent of parts, and for a time increases both the digestion, and the energy of the whole system.

I need not repeat, that she should use moderate but frequent exercise; and when the weather is warm, this should be in the open air, as much as may be.

Mr Barr will give you a direction along with the medicines, and I shall be glad to hear in a week or two, if you think her in any respect better.

I beg my best wishes and compliments to my fair patient and Mr Watt, and am, Madam,

Your much obliged

And obedient serv.

E Darwin