1760. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 16 March 1810 *
Keswick. March 16. 1810.
My dear Cottle
My brother Tom arrived here yesterday, & the account he gives me of the state of your sight grieves me so much, that I will not sleep another night without writing to you upon the subject. You are not perhaps aware that in this age of medical improvement no branch whatever of the healing art has been so materially improved as that which relates to diseases of the eyes, – for which there is an especial institution established in London.  I do most earnestly advise & beseech you to send your brother Robert as good <full> a statement of your complaint as you can draw up, xxxx xxx – let him go with it either to this Institution, or to Wathen , or Phipps,  & learn from them whether or not they do not think it would be worth while for a man who is not rich to come up to London & put himself under their care. Xx If there be no organic disease, the probability of cure is very great, & even if there be, there is still a probability. Do this I beseech you & do it without delay.
I cannot express to you my dear Cottle how much it has affected me to hear that of your affliction: for tho I am sure there is no man who would bear any xxxxxxxx sufferings with which it should please God to visit him more patiently & serenely than yourself, – this nevertheless is an affliction of the heaviest kind. It is very far from being the habit of my mind to indulge in visionary hopes, – but from what I recollect of the nature of your complaint, it is an inveterate inflammation, – & this I believe to be compleatly within the reach of art.
It is a sad thought to me that you cannot read <see> my history, – I trust however to your sisters for your hearing it. It will be published before the month is out, & I shall direct Longman to send you a copy.
Edith desires her kindest remembrances, – remember me also to your good mother – to your sisters, & to Robert when he is written to. I would <not> send you so short a letter upon any other occasion, – but I could not feel easy till I had written. I beseech you follow this advice, the difference between these London oculists of the first reputation & any person at Bristol is far greater than you perhaps imagine. Send up your statement without delay, & if the reply be favourable, lose no time in following it.
God bless you
Yrs very affectionately
* Address: To/ Mr Cottle/ Brunswick Square/ Bristol./ Single
Postmark: [partial] 19 MR 19/ 1810
Endorsement: 72 180
MS: Robert H. Taylor Collection, Princeton University Library. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), p. 231 [in part]. BACK
 The Royal Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye, founded in 1804 by Jonathan Wathen (d. 1808), occulist to George III. Wathen received royal patronage for his institution after he drew the king’s attention to the plight of troops who had contracted purulent opthalamia whilst serving in the Egyptian campaign. BACK