Horace Benge Dobell was an English doctor and medical writer, Physician at the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, London (1859-1875), and later consulting physician at the Mont Dore sanitorium for patients with chest diseases at Bournemouth. In his book ‘The Medical Aspects of Bournemouth’ (1885), pp. 120 and 302-303, he quoted the following letter from RLS.
[For critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1310.]
To Horace Dobell [Dobell 1885, pp. 120, 302-303]
[Bournemouth, 18 October 1884]
[RLS writes his reasons for not going to Davos again.] The crowded hotels, somewhat over-heated, not always perfectly well drained, are the great objections. I have sat down to table one of seventy persons, fifty of whom I calculated were phthisical, or so inclined. The meal lasted long, the air became oppressive, and I was always driven from the room before dessert… [He enumerates some cases which came to his knowledge while there during two winters.] These circumstances point in one direction – to an air charged with germs…
My second remark is about the much maligned mistral in the Riviera. It seems impossible to disabuse Doctors of a misconception as to this turbulent but healthful wind. A house, on a high level and facing the mistral, is a house in a good situation; the next garden round the hill may be in a bad one.
The true danger is the easterly sea-wind, which tries the nerves and is treacherous in the extreme.
I spoke of this on one occasion to the manager of a large hotel in Cannes.
‘You need not speak to me,’ he said: ‘when the mistral blows, my table d’hôte is full; when the wind is in the east, I begin sending dinners to the bedrooms.’ That is good lay testimony. I would go further; it seems to me even dangerous to send patients to the Riviera, without special hints; the climate on one side of a hill is not the same as the climate on the other; and the climate in the valleys, above all where there is any wet, is, I feel sure, to be avoided.
P.S. – Are Doctors aware of the far greater amenity and gentleness of the climate of Hyères, as compared, at least, with Nice and Monte Carlo? Hyères has the advantage, but it is butchered by a vile town government.