[Sir Morell Mackenzie, British physician and pioneer of laryngology.] Autograph Letter Signed ('Morell Mackenzie') to Rev. H. R. Haweis, regarding the withdrawal of an invitation to lecture by Augustus Lowell of the Lowell Institute in Boston.

Sir Morell Mackenzie (1837-1892), British physician and pioneer of laryngology [Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901); Augustus Lowell (1830-1900), trustee, Lowell Institute, Boston; Kaiser Frederick III]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of 19 Harley Street, Cavendish Square, W. [London]; 27 December 1889.
SKU: 21687

See the Oxford DNB for both Mackenzie and Haweis, who in 1893 published 'Sir Morell Mackenzie, Physician and Operator: A Memoir compiled and edited from Private Papers and Personal Reminiscences'. The background to the letter is Mackenzie's controversial treatment of Kaiser Frederick III. The Oxford DNB describes how, following the Kaiser's death, Mackenzie 'had to bear constant criticism from his medical colleagues and the world press. Mackenzie received death threats, became involved in a public quarrel with members of the German medical profession, and instigated libel actions against two newspapers which had accused him of professional incompetence. Perhaps unwisely, he sought to protect himself by publishing an angry book, The Fatal Illness of Frederick the Noble (1888), which was received unfavourably, and led to censure of him by the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Medical Association, and his resignation from the Royal College of Physicians.' From the letter it would appear that Augustus Lowell (1830-1900), trustee of the Boston educational foundation the Lowell Institute, has withdrawn an invitation to Mackenzie to lecture there, as a result of the German controversy. 3pp, 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to reverse of second leaf. Folded twice. The letter begins: 'My dear Haweis, | Mr Lowell simply says “I much regret that circumstances compel me to withdraw the invitation I sent you to lecture at the Lowell Institute”. In response Mackenzie claims: 'I do not mind it at all. I had written a letter to Lowell, in which I said “I might be able to give one or two lectures”, but I did not actually accept the invitation so that the slight to me is not so great as it might have been.' When Mackenzie sees Haweis he will tell him what he thinks 'are the circumstances which has [sic] led to the collapse'. He concludes in the hope that Haweis will 'look in' on the first day he is 'in the neighbourhood'. 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'.