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W-MCP5-6.341 TO [DR.] CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from Lizzie R. French
Sep 29 1859
To: [Dr.] Calvin Brooks McQuesten, Meriden, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
From: Nashua, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]

Dear Cousin Calvin,

When I received your last letter, I intended to write you immediately and thus assure you I had not forgotten you, & did not intend to drop our correspondence. But tho' the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak: and many days have passed without my fulfilling my intention. You will surely think by this time that I do not mean to write you again--but when you know the many causes that have prevented my writing as much as I wished, I know you will excuse me.

The chief reason is, I am an invalid. Since the last of June, when I gave up teaching, I have not seen a well day. I came home as soon as I was able, which was about three weeks from the time I left school. I had a very bad cough, soreness about my lungs, and my whole system was completely prostrated, so that it seemed a burden even to raise my hand.1 I have been under the care of a skilful Allopathic physician2 for nearly three months, & am trying to get well again, but it is very hard work, and whether I shall accomplish it or not, time only can tell. My cough is no better, 'tis very bad just now, and I am growing poor lately. This, to one who has already lost twenty-five pounds is not very encouraging. Could you see me now, you would find quite a change in me, since you saw me last. I keep up pretty good spirits, tho' I get a little "down at the heel"--not that I fear I shall never recover, for that does not alarm me. I have so little to live for, life seems not so desirable, but rather because I have to look forward to months of idleness and sickness, before I can know with certainty which way my disease will turn. The doctor says I shall get well if I am careful--that is his opinion, I have mine too, time will tell who is right. 'Tis hard for me, after being so actively engaged in life & duties to give up all, and sit down with folded hands, waiting my Father's will. But I try to bear all patiently, knowing it comes from His loving hand, and "He doeth all things well." I am able to ride and walk every day, when it is pleasant, and am much stronger than when I first came home. Perhaps as cold weather comes on I may grow fleshy again, and be again my former self.

I have written a good deal about No. 1, now I will turn to a more cheerful topic--yourself--You are back at school again, I suppose, after enjoying your summer trip very much--I rec'd a letter from you at Gorham, & a paper some time after. How much longer will you remain at Meriden? Have you heard from home lately? Is Lissie C. going to be married? Who do you think spent the day with me two weeks ago Monday?--Our friend Henry Roper from Montreal. I was very glad to see him, indeed, and we had a very pleasant day together. Lissie wrote me last Spring that Will Fisher had gone to Europe--do you know when he is coming home? No it was in July she wrote me. I was mistaken. She said he was to be married on his return. Should think he would invite me to the wedding.

My dear mother has been on [sic] this summer and made a flying visit of six weeks. She was all sick when she first came. Mr. Hartshorn & Mrs. have have [sic] both been sick with fevers and Mrs. Minasian has not been off her bed more than an hour at a time since the 11th of June. A darling little one came and staid with us three months and then went back to Heaven. We are very fearful Fannie will never be any better. So you are taking us all together we have had a sick house, and still have enough of the same.

I am writing a longer letter than I expected, when I began. You may have some trouble reading it for I am tired. Let me hear from you soon. You must not be afraid of writing a long letter, I can read them without as much fatigue as in writing them. Hoping you are enjoying health and prospering in your attempts to add to your jewels in the storehouse of your mind. Believe me,

With affection,

Your friend, Lizzie.

Aunt French has just come in and says she wants to see you very much.

[Written on envelope:] L.R.F. Ans. 18/10/59

1 Lizzie French dies of consumption (tuberculosis).


The comparatively recent triumph of regular, or allopathic medicine, over its competitors in America often causes us to forget that in the early nineteenth century it was just one therapeutic system in a crowded medical market. Allopaths competed for the medical dollar with phrenologists, Thomsonians, homeopathics, eclectics, and a variety of other practitioners who often simply put out a shingle and offered cures. The "heroic" nature of allopathic medicine in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America often made the patient dread the cure as much as he did the disease. Dosings of mercury, harsh purgatives, emetics, and bloodletting that were primary features of so-called regular medicine created a market for alternative therapeutic systems. John S. Haller's Kindly Medicine examines the rise and eventual "slow descent into anonymity" (p. xv) of physio-medicalism--one of the losers in this market competition. Rising out of Samuel Thomson's botanic system, physio-medicalism suited a society that prized self-sufficiency and saw in therapeutic choice an "instrument of democratic culture" (p. 2). It saw its decline in an era that celebrated science, credentials, and central organization.

"allopathic medicine 1859 Massachusetts." Book Review of: Kindly Medicine: Physio-Medicalism in America, 1836-1911, by John S. Haller. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1997. xv + 207 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, and index. Reviewed by Gretchen A. Adams, University of New Hampshire.
November 13, 2003. Book_Review/h-net-27030924088992.html - 17k -.

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