[John Frost, controversial founder of the Medico-Botanical Society of London.] Autograph Letter Signed to the nurseryman Thomas Gibbs of Ampthill, boasting of his activities and reporting plans of a memorial to Gibbs's son.

John Frost (1803-1840), controversial founder of the Medico-Botanical Society of London; Secretary, Royal Humane Society; personal physician to the Duke of Cumberland [Thomas Gibbs of Ampthill]
Publication details: 
29 Bridge Street, Blackfriars [where he lived as Secretary to the Royal Humane Society] [London]; 10 February 1827.
SKU: 21734

Frost's eventful career (patronised by royalty and blackballed by the Royal Society) is described in his entry in the Oxford DNB, in which he is described as a 'medical entrepreneur'. The letter is written from the premises in which Frost lived from 1824 to 1830, as Secretary to the Royal Humane Society. The recipient Thomas Gibbs (1771-1849), seedsman and nurseryman, of Ampthill and Brompton Lodge, Old Brompton, was the father of the agriculturalist and horticulturalist Sir Benjamin Thomas Brandreth-Gibbs (1821-1885). See his obituary in the Farmer's Magazine, March 1849. 3pp, 4to. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to the reverse of the second leaf. An entirely characteristic letter, signed 'John Frost'. Gibbs is identified as the recipient from internal evidence. The letter begins: 'My dear Friend | May Thanks for your kind, and well digested Letter. I assure you I have for some time past much wished to sit beside the friendly Thos Gibbs, at Brompton, where I have spent so many happy hours in his family and conversation but not only have I been occupied very much with The Grape of Helvetia, [possibly a reference to his new Swiss wife] but also with an extraordinary accumulation of the Business both of The Royal Humane Society, and the Medico Botanical Society, but I have in the press my Introductory Lecture delivered before The Royal Institution which His Majesty has been graciously pleased to allow me to dedicate to Him – and I am about publishing a Copper Plate fac-simile of the first Mandate written by Oliver Cromwell, which The Right Honorable Robert Peel has allowed me to inscribe to him'. He thanks 'Providence', stating: 'I am going on as I could wish.' He continues, with a clue to the identity of the recipient: 'Your Son Humphy [latterly Humphrey Brandreth of Houghton House] will tell you concerning our good meeting at the M. B. S. last night, and the first opportunity which I do not expect to have for a month to come I have of walking to Brompton to see you I will – as I wish to have some Conversation with you respecting a monument to be placed in Ampthill Church to the Memory of your excellent Son & my dear friend the late Mr. Thos. B. Gibbs'.' The reference is to Thomas Brandreth Gibbs, who was associated with Frost as 'one of the founders and the first honorary secretary of the MedicoBotanical Society of London'. He concludes the letter, regarding to memorial: 'The Council last night voted the same as a token of the respect for his talents as their Secretary, and as a mark of their esteem for his memory. Shake my hand regards to Mrs. Gibbs. Mrs. Frost desires her remembrances'. 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'.