Letter 51

(Suicide Note)

To REVELL PHILLIPS

[January 26 1849]

MY DEAR PHILLIPS,–I am food for what I am good for–worms. I have made a will here which I desire to be respected, and add the donation of £20 to Dr Ecklin my physician.

W. Beddoes must have a case (50 bottles) of Champagne Moet 1847 growth to drink my death in.

Thanks for all kindness. Borrow the £200. You are a good & noble man & your children must look sharp to be like you.

               Yours,
                     if my own,
                           ever,
                                 T.L.B.

Love to Anna, Henry, the Beddoes of Longvill and Zoe and Emmeline King–also to Kelsall whom I beg to look at my MSS. and print or not as he thinks fit. I ought to have been among other things a good poet. Life was too great a bore on one peg and that a bad one. Buy for Dr Ecklin above mentioned [one of] Reade’s best stomach-pumps.

[Gosse, 1894]

[Gosse adds, “This note, written in pencil, was found folded on the poet’s bosom, as he lay insensible after taking poison, in his bed in the Town Hospital of Basel. He died at 10 P.M. the same night.” Also worth noting: where Gosse has “drink my death in,” H.W. Donner has “drink my health in,” which he bases upon a tracing of the original suicide note done by T.F. Kelsall. –Richard Geyer]