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BURTON Isabel - Autograph Letter Signed 1887, when her husband lay 'dangerously ill'

  • £575.00

Isabel BURTON (1831-1896)

Autograph Letter Signed (“Isabel Burton”) to “Dear Mr. Irwin”, explaining that her husband “was taken suddenly dangerously ill” and “cannot be spoken to”.

1 page 8vo with integral blank leaf, Hotel Windsor, Cannes, 3 March [1887].                      

My husband was taken suddenly dangerously ill 2 hours before our departure last Sat 26. He cannot be spoken to & I am incapable of ought but his bedside. Write what you like and I will forward it . . .” In a postscript she adds “If I can I shall move him Monday or Wednesday by slow stops towards Trieste. This Riviera disagrees with him. Direct Trieste.

On 23 February, while the inhabitants and visitors slept, Cannes was hit by an earthquake, followed by a series of aftershocks. The Burtons reacted with remarkable cool-headedness, declining to join in the general panic. However, over the next days it became clear that Sir Richard was far from well. He had, in fact, suffered a mild stroke, which may or may not have been provoked by the stress of the quake. A few days later, this was followed by a heart attack, witnessed by a distraught Isabel. It was generally suspected that these problems were the result of syphilis, which Burton had contracted many years earlier. He was well aware that his health would never recover, but he and Isabel, accompanied by a doctor, made their way back to Trieste in slow stages, arriving there at the beginning of April. The prognosis had been that Burton could expect to live for another five years. In the end, he lived for three and a half years.

Tears at the folds have been repaired. The letter is slightly dusty, but nevertheless in clear and legible condition.


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