Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/830

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had never made his discovery of a definite form of disease previously unrecognized, which appears to conform in all important points with the life-long disease of the illustrious dean.

Even in Swift's latest biography, or rather that fragment of one which so strongly makes us feel that touch of the vanished hand of the most appreciative critic of men of letters, the late John Forster's charming volume, the author speaks of Swift's giddiness and deafness, not as symptoms of one disorder, but as "two life-long enemies," and it is a curious enough fact that Swift himself attributed the origin of these two enemies to different causes, operating at different periods. In a letter to Mrs. Howard in 1727 he writes: "About two hours before you were born I got my giddiness by eating a hundred golden pippins at a time at Richmond; and when you were four years and a quarter old, bating two days, having made a fine seat further in Surrey, where I used to read, there I got my deafness, and these two friends, one or other, have visited me one or other every year since; and, being old acquaintances, have now thought fit to come together." Mrs. Howard having been born in 1690, the date of the deafness given in this letter would be 1694, when Swift was twenty-seven years old. But in a passage quoted by Forster, page 48, Swift wrote: "In England before I was twenty I got a cold, which gave me a deafness that I could never clear myself of. . . my left ear has never been well since."—April 30, 1737.

One can not but concur in Johnson's remark on the above, that "the original of diseases is commonly obscure, and almost every school-boy eats as much fruit as he can get, without inconvenience." But it may also be remarked that if Swift had been "a contemporary patient," although we might not have effected a radical cure of his disease, we should at least have understood enough of its origin and nature to have saved him from tormenting himself by a life-long abstinence from fruit, of which he was passionately fond, under the belief that it had caused and continued to excite his disease by inducing that "coldness of stomach to which he attributed his vertigo and its accompanying sickness."

In a letter of 1708 he says that, "I was through a long time pursued by a cruel illness that seized me at fits and hindered me from pursuing any business." It is possible that this illness was but a return of the dangerous colic from which he suffered in 1696; and it is not until 1710 to 1713, and while residing in London, that he describes in some detail the symptoms of his life-long complaint in his "Journal to Stella." The most descriptive passage is perhaps the one dated October 31, 1710:

"This morning, sitting in my bed, I had a fit of giddiness; the room turned round for about a minute, and then it went off, leaving me sickish, but not very. I saw Dr. Cockburn to-day, and he promises to send me the pills that did me good last year; and likewise has