Charles Darwin’s Personal Letters
Many of Charles Darwin personal letters have been maintained and are now available online. There is a veritable treasure-trove of information about his life, illnesses, and his medical treatment.
During Darwin’s trip to South America in the mid-1830s, he became very ill. Ever since 1837, he suffered from persistent nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations, widespread boils, and trembling, and since 1847, he had fainting spells and spots before his eyes…and his symptoms were getting increasingly worse.
In March, 1849 (Darwin was 40 years old), he acknowledged that he was unable to work one day in every three, and further, he felt that he was dying.
On the advice from one of his cousins as well as from a fellow shipmate from the Beagle, Charles Darwin brought himself and his family to the clinic and “water-cure” spa of Dr. James Manby Gully.
“I grieve to say that Dr Gully gives me homeopathic medicines three times a day, which I take obediently without an atom of faith.”
Despite Darwin’s skepticism about homeopathy, he experienced the power of these medicines.
“I much like and think highly of Dr. Gully”
On March 28, 1849, he had not have any vomiting for 10 days. By April 19, 1849, Darwin wrote:
“I now increase in weight, have escaped sickness for 30 days, which is thrice as long an interval, as I have had for last year; & yesterday in 4 walks I managed seven miles! I am turning into a mere walking and eating machine.”