[Sir Robert Liston of Millburn Tower, Scottish diplomat, Ambassador to the United States.] Autograph Letter Signed ('R. Liston.') to Lady Wedderburn, expressing grief on the death of his wife the botanist Henrietta Liston, Lady Liston.

Sir Robert Liston (1742-1836), Scottish diplomat, ambassador to the United States, 1796-1800; his wife the botanist Henrietta Liston, Lady Liston [Lady Frances Wedderburn-Webster] (1793-1837)]
Publication details: 
Millburn [Millburn Tower, Ratho, Scotland]; October 1828.
SKU: 21688

3pp, 12mo. Bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to blank reverse of second leaf. Folded twice. Written in response to a letter of condolence on the death of his wife. (See his entry in the Oxford DNB: 'On 27 February 1796 he married Henrietta [Henrietta Liston Lady Liston (1751–1828)], botanist, daughter of Nathaniel (d. 1761) and Sarah Marchant of Antigua, at the episcopal chapel, Glasgow; they had no children.') The letter begins: 'My dear Lady Wedderburn | You have well judged of the connection between your poor friend Lady Liston and myself, and truly pronounced that my loss is irreparable. - How alas! can a man be compensated for that which in his eyes is “above all value, and beyond compare!” - I feel that the happiness I have enjoyed for years is gone for ever.' Liston does not, however, allow himself 'to repine, or to despair. - I submit in silence to the Laws of Nature, I bend with resignation to the Decrees of Providence.' His 'disposition' leads him 'to draw from minor sources of consolation, when within my reach […] medical aid was obtained without delay […] the gentle sufferer expired without a groan'. Lady Wedderburn's letter 'had the effect of gratifying, of soothing, comforting', and he thanks her 'from the bottom of my heart'. Postscript: 'Poor Mrs. Ramage cannot see well either to read or to write. | R. R.' 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'.