ELLIOTSON, John (1791-1868). Physician and mesmerist.
Four Autograph Letters Signed, at least two and possibly all to Charles Dickens, in all 4 pages 12mo, no place, no date.
Dr Elliotson was the Dickens family doctor and a close friend in whom Dickens had absolute trust. Dickens shared Elliotson's interest in mesmerism to the extent that he had practiced it successfully on his friend John Leach, Mme de la Rue and probably his wife as well. When doubts were cast on the possibility of the spontaneous combustion scene in Bleak House, Elliotson was able to provide documented proof of such occurances.
The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens cites many letters to and about Elliotson. When Elliotson was attacked by his fellow surgeons and the press, Dickens wrote to Macready of his great kindness to a patient, adding:
'... I declare before God that I could almost bear the Tories for five years, out of the pleasure I feel in knowing such things. And when I think that every dirty speck upon the fair face of the Almighty's creation, who writes in a filthy, bawdy newspaper - every rotten-hearted pander who has been beaten, kicked, and rolled in the kennel, yet struts it in the Editorial We once a week - every vagabond that an honest man's gorge must rise at - every live emetic in that nauseous drug-shop, the Press - can have his fling at such men and call them knaves and fools and thieves, I grow so vicious that with bearing hard upon my pen, I break the nib down, and with keeping my teeth set, make my jaws ache....'Autograph Letter Signed ('J.E.') to 'My dear Dickens', addressed on the back to Charles Dickens, 1 page 12mo, no place, no date Offering to see a patient sent to him by Dickens. Dickens sent several such patients to Elliotson, many in poor circumstances and all were treated sympathetically. In a letter to Overs, who had seen Elliotson at Dickens's request, he states:
'... I know that, under God, there does not live a man in whose hands you would have so much reason to hope for a perfect restoration to health. If I were to tell you what I know of his skill, patience, and humanity, you would love and honor him as much as I do. If my own life, or my wife's, or that of either of my children were in peril tomorrow, I would trust it to him, implicitly.'Autograph Letter Signed to 'My dear Dickens' , 1 page 12mo, no place, 'Thurs' no date Inviting Dickens to attend at his home where 'The case of clairvoyance will be shewn', adding that there will be present 'a select committee'.
Autograph Letter Signed to 'My dear Sir', 1 page 12mo, 5 April no year Offering to show 'some mesmerism' on the following Saturday'. Dickens attended sessions of mesmerism in Elliotson's house and this is likely to be addressed to him. It is known that Dickens was present at these sessions between 1838 and 1840. Also attending were Thackeray and Macready.
Autograph Letter Signed to 'My dear Sir, 1 page 12mo, no place, no date Inviting his correspondent to dine to meet Topham, possibly Francis William Topham (1808-1877, water colour painter who acted in several of Dickens's performances). Topham illustrated a number of Dickens characters and engraved the frontispieces for the three volumes of Charles Dickens's A Child's History of England.
Letters written to Dickens are extremely rare; most were destroyed after his death.
The image shows one letter to Dickens only.