[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]. Doctor Richard.
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]
[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]

[A Massachusetts doctor’s daybook.]

Braintree, Mass., 1845–1849. 8vo (21 x 17 cm), three-quarters calf with marbled paper. 148 pp. of manuscript.

A brief but striking account of a widowed doctor’s visit to his wife’s tomb to look upon her once more, recorded in his daybook.

Kept by a doctor with the surname Richard in Braintree, Massachusetts, this day book consists mainly of entries relating to his medical practice (primarily the dispensing of medicine) and miscellaneous expenses. However, on 2 June 1846, he notes that his beloved wife, one Mrs. Elizabeth Gardner Richard has passed away “after a lingering sickness of 5 months the disease was Tubercular phthisis pulmonalis.” Her funeral takes place three days later on 5 June, whereupon “her remains were deposited in my tomb & placed on the coffin of my late father on the left hand side.” On Sunday 17 June—15 days after her death—the widower and his sons visit Elizabeth’s body. Their startling and frankly unforgettable visit is recorded on p. 66:

Visited the tomb this afternoon with my son George & beheld once more the remains of my dear wife. Her head was canted over to the left by reason of removal to the tomb but she looked very natural to me her flesh had not changed much, her eyes had mostly disappeared & small flies or bugs were running over her coffin & were also within & on the corpse & in the orbits of the eyes & mouth […] After George Calvin & myself had remained in the tomb for some time we came out & locked it & went about the hill to read the inscriptions upon the stones & as we were returning to the street Mr. & Mrs. Bartlett [and others] rode up & seeing us they lighted from their carriage & came into the burial year & expressed a wish to visit the vault of the tomb & I unlocked it & we went in again […] I opened the lid once more & beheld her that was the dear to me for seventeen long years & more especially was she dear to me from the time she commenced her school at Scituate Harbor from the first of May 1830.

A rather vivid example of the attitudes and practices surrounding death in the first half of the nineteenth century.

CONDITION: Covers moderately worn; a few leaves or portions of leaves lacking, occasional tears; dampstain at upper edge affecting approx. one third of contents, occasional scribbles in pencil.

Item #5162

Price: $800.00

See all items in Autographs & Manuscripts
See all items by