[Milton-L] source

Norman Burns nburns at binghamton.edu
Fri Jan 30 13:31:27 EST 2004

Following this perhaps lugubrious thread:
        In 1640, when he was 17, Edward Conway (who was years later to be the
husband of Lady Anne Conway) was sent by his noble father to Paris with his
younger brother and their tutor.  The boys were to study military affairs and
imbibe the manners suitable to their high station and great destiny.  It was a
kind of Junior Year Abroad program.  Imagine what a modern father would think
upon receiving this letter from his son.

"The change of aire doth beginne to worke upon my Brother.  This weeke he hath
had a fever but that continued not long before he also had the small pox: all
the danger is already past: and he is else very well and hopes shortly to
follow his exercises againe."    The letter then moves immediately to some
public news.  Nothing about treatment, what a doctor says, who says the pox is
over, what damage the pox left or didn't leave.  One would think Edward was
speaking of a minor acquaintance not known to his father.  Perhaps the clue is
in the precious "he is else very well."  It suggests the level of disease and
trouble that even noble station did not exempt one from.  Just some fever and
smallpox, Dad--he hopes to soon be back drawing fortification schemes again.  
        I've always remembered that "is else very well" (very!) to keep me in
mind, whenever I think I have reconstructed a past "social context," that I
really have only a fragmentary glimpse of a scene in an otherwise dark room; if
I could see what else was in the room, it would greatly change what I glimpsed
in the foreground.  Worth attempting, I think, but always doomed to being an
approximation at best.
        The letter is on p. 29 of Marjorie Nicolson's ever-rewarding _Conway
Letters_ (1930).
--Norm Burns

At 08:41 AM 1/30/04 -0500, you wrote: 
> Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
> Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
>         boundary="----_=_NextPart_001_01C3E736.BA05FC08"
> Yes, Margie, 
> Those historians are a great help to those of us who engage primarily with
> literature.  Historians of chemistry, Cathy Cobb and Harold Goldwhite cite
> this poignant diary entry to evince Robert Hooke s renowned illnesses, which
> included vomiting, headaches, and sleeplessness: Slept well.  Deo
Gratis."  No
> wonder those Royal Society members were so keen on advancing learning for the
> benefit of mankind -- and the glory of God, too.
> Adios, 
> Angelica Duran 
> Assistant Professor 
> English Department 
> Purdue University 
> 500 Oval Drive 
> West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2048 
> USA 
> (765) 496-3957, phone 
> (765) 494-3780, fax 
> <aduran at sla.purdue.edu>  
> ----------  From:   milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu on behalf of Margaret
> Thickstun  Reply To:       John Milton Discussion List  Sent:   Friday,
> January 30, 2004 8:20 AM  To:     John Milton Discussion List  Subject:
> RE: [Milton-L] source 
> Add to below the experience for many people of constant physical pain  from
> rotting teeth, poorly set bone breaks, etc.  Roy Porter, the medical
> historian, has wonderful material on this.--Margie 
> >Angelica--  >       I remember once being impressed by reading (I can't
> remember  >where) that the London merchant and Leveller intellectual William
> >Walwyn was the father of (I believe) 20 children and outlived them >all. 
> Walwyn was a bit of a challenge since he lived to be 80. >       The case of
> Walwyn serves to remind me of how difficult it is >for us to imagine what it
> was like to live on when surrounded by the >frequent deaths of family
> members--from parents to the stillborn and >children, and the mothers and
> wives who so often died bearing them. >       And Boyd Berry does well in his
> post to remind us of the >intimacy of those deaths in the family home.  I've
> never been >satisfied that I have nearly got my mind around this everyday
> >circumstance of early modern domestic life.  >--Norm Burns  > 
> --  Margaret Thickstun  Professor of English  Hamilton College  198 College
> Hill Rd  Clinton, NY 13323  (315)859-4466 
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