[John Haygarth, Chester physician.] Autograph Letter Signed ('J Haygarth.') to William Rathbone IV, discussing the possible establishment of a 'Lazaret' for Liverpool on 'Helbry [i.e. Hilbre] Island', with reference to penal reformer John Howard.

John Haygarth (1740-1827), Chester physician and pioneer in the prevention of smallpox [William Rathbone IV (1757-1809), Liverpool merchant and abolitionist; John Howard (1726-1790), prison reformer]
Publication details: 
Chester; 30 June 1789.
SKU: 21645

For the background to this letter see the section on 'Lazarettos and the Plague' in C. C. Booth's 'John Haygarth, FRS (1740-1827): A Physician of the Enlightenment' (2005). The penal reformer John Howard published his 'Account of the Principal Lazarettos in Europe' in 1789, and the letter to Howard referred to by Haygarth in the present item was one in which Haygarth set forth his view on the subject, dated 30 May 1789. This, and another letter to Howard dated 19 June 1789, was published in 1791 by Howard's literary executor John Aikin in 'Appendix (to the Account of the Lazarets); […] Together with two letters to Mr. Howard from John Haygarth'. 3pp, 4to. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn, with thin strip from mount adhering to the reverse of the second leaf, which is addressed by Haygarth, with 'CHESTER' post mark, to 'Wm Rathbone junior | Liverpool'. Haygarth begins by thanking Rathbone 'for the favour of your very instructive letter of the 18th of June and for circulating the proposal concerning Lazarets so generally among your intelligent friends in Liverpool'. He is pleased to learn of Rathbone's 'expectation of favouring me soon with a personal conference', but he asks him 'to transmit to me as soon as convenient, my letter to Mr Howard. You may, if you think it worth the trouble, have a copy of it transcribed.' He asks Rathbone, '[a]t more leisure, and as opportunity offers', to 'obtain answers to the following questions'. Six numbered and long questions follow, beginning with '1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Ports of Grimsby & St Helen's Pool in Scilly, compared with that of Helbry? [i.e. the Hilbre Islands, at the mouth of the River Dee] | 2. Would a Lazaret at Scilly be as convenient as at Helbry for the Liverpool merchants? Or what inconveniences would arise in the former more than the latter situation?' Other topics include: 'goods from infectious ports'; the airing of 'clothes, bedding, &c. […] on the passage home'; 'things that could not retain infection, as, biscuit, beef, wine, &c.'; the existence of 'any English Lazaret'. After posing the questions Halgarth returns to the question of Helbry Island, suggesting that the 'defect' of the lack of any 'spring of fresh water' may be 'fully supplied by pumps'. He concludes by presenting his best respects 'to Dr Currie', with an assurance 'that his approbation of the proposed Lazaret gives me very great satisfaction'. In a postscript he repeats his request that Rathbone send 'the letter to Mr Howard', as he is 'in immediate want' of it. He adds: 'A conference on this subject as soon as you can favour me with your company will give me great pleasure.' From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.