Letter – Martin Lister to William Blackett – 19 May 1676

Document Type: Letter
Date: 19 May 1676
Correspondent: Martin Lister
Recipient: William Blackett
Archive Source: NRO ZBL 193
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I was desired by your sonne the last post to send you inclosed your daughter-in-law’s case, such as I apprehended it to be when she first came to this Town, wch you will receive from

	Sr your most humble servant

		Martin Lister

Yorke May 19th 1676

[Translation from the Latin original, made in 1958 by L.M.Payne, Assistant Librarian at the Royal College of Physicians, for an exhibition of medical records by the British Records Association:]

      At the beginning of May the worthy Lady Blackit came to our city and consulted me about her illness. The disease was at once made plain to me by signs which were not unimportant. So to enumerate them as I observed them myself, or learnt about them from her relatives:- first she is troubled with diarrhoea, accompanied by colic by which her bowels are moved four times or more each day; and that for many months; then her sputum is purulent, hawked up by daily coughing; this even if it is not foetid is at least bloody although it has not been placed in fire and does not sink in water. However it is often streaked with bloody fibres, and there is no doubt that it is discharged form an ulcer of the lungds. Again in the extremities of the legs a swelling has appeared which is oedematour or soft. On top of this there is a slight fever, and rigors like febrile paroxysms invade her more often by day, especially after food. Moreover, her urine is bright red, and as soon as this is cold much white matter is precipitated. There are also present night sweats, but these are not particularly troublesome; they are, however, to be attributed to the disease in that they break out round the throat, temples and face. To anyone considering all these things it is not to be wondered at that her most beautiful body has become lean and emaciated. Finally, her menstrual period has cased for three months from which it may be asked whether she bears a child in her womb. I confess this could be so, even in her great weakness, but to me it is scarcely credible, in default of other evidence.

      The case is thus properly set out; and the virulent phthisis will certainly kill her, unless she is afforded immediate relief by a voyage and a prolonged residence abroad where she may constantly breathe purer and drier air – one among other remedies (some of which have been prescribed by me and some to be prescribed by others in our faculty more experienced), which alone will, however, effect little.

[on verso:] to Sr William Blackett in Newcastle

[annotated in WB’s hand:] Martin Listers Letters for 1676

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