Autograph letter signed to Dr. Girdlestone concerning the founding of the "Pneumatic Institution."

Beddoes, Thomas

Publication Date: 1797
From Jeremy Norman's historyofscience (Novato, CA, U.S.A.)

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Beddoes, Thomas (1760-1808). A.L.s. to Dr. [Thomas G.] Girdlestone (1758-1822). Bradford, July 25, [1797 (from postmark)]. 3pp. plus integral cover. 252 x 196 mm. Creased along original folds, light soiling on cover, lacunae repaired along folds and where seal was broken, with loss of one letter. Very good. Beddoes' letter touches on the medicinal properties of nitric acid and discusses his famous Pneumatic Institution for the treatment of disease by inhalation of various gases, which began operation the following year (1798). The letter begins as follows: "I was extremely gratified with your Yarmouth case, which I carefully returned to Dr. Babington. I trust it is designed for publication. I shall be curious to learn the sequel. In your last letter you speak of the beneficial effects of nitric acid. I have had some most important communications on the subject which I am going to print, & should be happy to receive a paper from you. . . ." Later in the letter Beddoes refers to his "scheme" for the Pneumatic Institution. He thanks Dr. Girdlestone and a Dr. Lubbock "for the authority of your names more than for your contributions. Depend upon it the scheme will be executed soon, barring any great public disaster. I have got a committee of great respectability-What I want is a superintendent, who ought to have several uncommon qualifications. That point being secured, the next step will be to circulate an outline for the suggestions of philosophers & physicians." Even though Beddoes does not mention the Pneumatic Institution by name here, it is highly improbable that the above paragraph refers to anything else. The "superintendent of uncommon qualifications" that Beddoes ended up hiring was the nineteen-year-old Humphry Davy, who first made his name as a scientist through his investigations, performed in the Pneumatic Institution's laboratory, of the physiological properties of nitrous oxide gas. In a postscript, Beddoes once again returns to the subject of nitric acid: "Could not you who have attended so much to Hepatitis give me something important on the efficacy of nitric acid in liver complaints?" Beddoes' correspondent, Dr. Thomas Girdlestone, was a Yarmouth physician who had served in India; he was the author of Essays on the Hepatitis and Spasmodic Affections in India (1787) and several other works. Hirsch. Bookseller Inventory # 34283

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Title: Autograph letter signed to Dr. Girdlestone ...

Publication Date: 1797

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