Left: James Currie. Right: a portrait of Burns by Archibald Skirving, published in The Works of Robert Burns, by Blackie and Son, Glasgow, 1854.
Date : 07-12-1797
Correspondent : Thomas BeddoesCorrespondent Location : London
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : Beddoes writes about a Bristol bookseller attempting to add to the subscription for the proposed edition of Burns.

Dear Doctor
      I hope that you will have received my intrody lecture. In the lectures at the close of the course I shall take matter from your book & I [?s↑d↓.] much wish to illustrate fully & minutely some important points which you have treated. For this I [?s↑d↓.] extremely wish to borrow one [MS torn] curved therm↑rs↓. If you can pack it up so as to carry, I will faithfully & soon return it. I also wish you to do me another favour_ which is, to have inquiry made among your butchers respecting their longevity ↑diet↓ & diseases. I principally aim at the frequency or infrequency of consumption. But of course I w↑d↓. have the questions put as little as possible to elicit the expected answer. I w↑d↓ wish [MS torn] investigation to note the questions & the answers in the words of the parties. I have made (or caused to be made) this enquiry in various parts of England & Ireland & I think the results very curious & pregnant in useful consequences -
      If you can lend me a therm↑r↓., please direct to me at M↑r↓. [?Cottle’s] bookseller Bristol who has suspended the proposal respecting Burns – but I do not see many names inscribed -

      I am D↑r↓ Doctor
      yours with great regard
      Thomas Beddoes


Notes :

Dr Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808): Shropshire-born physician and philanthropist. Studied medicine at Edinburgh and London. Oxford M.D. and appointed reader in chemistry there in 1786. Visit to France introduced him to Lavoisier and confirmed his revolutionary sympathies, leading to his resignation from Oxford in 1792. Published On the Nature of Demonstrative Evidence (1793) and History of Isaac Jenkins (1793), a study of drunkenness which rapidly sold over 40,000 copies and served as a handbook on health, sobriety, and lifestyle for the working classes. Among his other publications are Political Pamphlets (1795-7) and Hygeia, or Essays Moral and Medical (1807). Beddoes investigated the use of gases in the treatment of illness, especially consumption, and he established his Pneumatic Institution at Clifton, near Bristol; Humphry Davy would become its superintendent. Beddoes married Anna, sister of Maria Edgeworth; their son, the poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes, was a friend of Coleridge.

[frequency or infrequency of consumption]: Beddoes was researching for his Essay on Consumption (1799), later widely influential and admired by Kant.

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