James Manby Gully

James Manby Gully

Dr James Manby Gully (14 March 1808 – 1883), was a Victorian medical doctor, well known for practising hydrotherapy, or the "water cure". Along with his partner James Wilson, he founded a very successful "hydropathy" (as it was then called) clinic in Malvern, Worcestershire, which had many notable Victorians, including such figures as Charles Darwin and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as clients.

He is also remembered as a suspect in the Charles Bravo poisoning case.

Early life and education

James Manby Gully was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the son of a wealthy coffeeplanter. When he was 6 he was taken to England to attend school in Liverpool, then went on to the College de St. Barbe in Paris. He became a medical student at the University of Edinburgh in 1825, as did Charles Darwin in the same year. After three years at Edinburgh, Gully became an "externe" at L'École de Médecíne in Paris, then returned to Edinburgh to take his MD in 1829.Swinton, William E [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1705053&pageindex=1"The hydrotherapy and infamy of Dr James Gully," 1980] , Canadian Medical Association Journal. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.]


Gully began his practise as a physician in London in 1830, and went on to write and translate numerous medical books and papers, becoming a fellow of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London and a fellow of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh. He edited the "London Medical and Surgical Journal" and the "Liverpool Medical Gazette". Gully showed an open interest in the dangerously radical idea of transmutation of species, and translated an evolutionary treatise on "Comparative Physiology" by the embryologist Friedrich Tiedemann. [harvnb|Desmond|Moore|1991|p=219]

He was continually dissatisfied with the medical treatments of the time, and in 1837 met Dr.James Wilson who then spent some time on the continent and returned in 1842 enthused with the idea of hydrotherapy. The two set up a partnership and opened a "water cure" clinic at Malvern offering a regimen similar to that at Vincent Priessnitz's Gräfenberg clinic. In 1846 Gully published "The Water Cure in Chronic Disease", describing the treatments available at the clinic. He became a member of the British Homoeopathic Society in 1848. [Adkin, George (ed.). [http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=homeop;cc=homeop;idno=2438394.0001.001;frm=frameset;view=image;seq=77;page=root;size=s "The British and foreign homœopathic medical directory and record," 1853] , Taubman Medical Library. Retrieved on 2008-01-11.]

The fame of the establishment grew, and Gully and Wilson became well-known national figures. Two more clinics were opened at Malvern. [http://www.malvernhealth.org.uk/about.html "History of Water Cures at malvern"] Famous patients included Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, Florence Nightingale, Lord Tennyson and Samuel Wilberforce. With his fame he also attracted criticism:
Sir Charles Hastings, a physician and founder of the British Medical Association, was a forthright critic of hydropathy, and Dr Gully in particular. [Bradley, J., and Depree, M. A Shadow of Orthodoxy? An Epistemology of British Hydropathy, 1840–1858, Medical History, 2003, 47:173–194]

The Water Cure treatment

Dr. Gully's patients at Malvern were woken at 5 am, undressed and wrapped in wet sheets then covered with blankets. An hour of later buckets of water were thrownupon the patients who then went on a five mile walk, carrying an alpenstock and a Gräfenberg flask of mineral water, stopping at wells for the waters. They returned to the Malvern pump room for a breakfast of dry biscuits and water. They then had the day to spend bathing in a range of kinds of baths, or in some cases wore a wet sheet called the "Neptune Girdle" round their middle at all times, removing it only at meal times. Dinner which was always boiled mutton and fish was followed by a few hours in a dry bed. The exercise, plain food and absence of alcohol together with the congenial company of other wealthy patrons proved generally beneficial.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin suffered repeated episodes of illness involving stomach pains from 1838 onwards, and had no success with conventional treatments. In 1849 after about four months of incessant vomiting he followed the recommendation of his friend Captain Sulivan and cousin Fox, and after reading Gully's book rented a villa at Malvern for his family and started a two month trial of the treatment on 10 March. Gully agreed with Darwin's self diagnosis of nervous dyspepsia, and set him a routine including being heated by a spirit lamp until dripping with perspiration, then vigorous rubbing with cold wet towels and cold foot baths, a strict diet, and walks. Darwin enjoyed the attention and the demanding regime which left him no time to feel guilty about not working. His health improved rapidly and he felt that the water-cure was "no quackery". [harvnb|Browne|1995|p=494-496] [http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1236.html Letter 1236 — Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D., 28 Mar 1849] . DarwinProject.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.] He had no faith in the homœopathic medicines Gully gave him three times a day, but took them obediently. [http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1234.html Letter 1234 — Darwin, C. R. to Darwin, S. E., 19 Mar 1849] . DarwinProject.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2008-01-11.] They stayed on until 30 June, and at home he continued with the diet, and with the water treatment aided by his butler. [harvnb|Browne|1995|p=496-497]

When his sickness returned in September Darwin had a day visit to Malvern, then recuperated at home. In June 1850 after losing time to illness (without vomiting) he spent a week at Malvern. [harvnb|Desmond|Moore|1991|p=367, 373] Later that year he wrote to Fox about the credulity of his "beloved Dr Gully" whose daughter had been ill, and had treated her with a clairvoyant girl to report on internal changes, a mesmerist to put her to sleep, John Chapman as homœopathist and himself as Hydropathist, after which Gully's daughter recovered. Darwin explained to Fox his wrathful scepticism about clairvoyance and homeopathy. [ [http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1352.html Letter 1352 — Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D., 4 Sept 1850] . DarwinProject.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2008-01-11.] When Darwin's own young daughter Annie had persistent indigestion he confidently took her to Gully on 24 march 1851, and after a week left her there to take the cure, but a fortnight later was recalled by Dr Gully as Annie had bilious fever. Dr. Gully was attentive and repeatedly reassured them that she was recovering, but after a series of crises Annie died on 23 April. Gully gave the cause of death as a "Bilious fever with typhoid character". [harvnb|Browne|1995|p=499-501] [harvnb|Desmond|Moore|1991|p=379-384]

Darwin kept records of the effects of the continuing water treatment at home, and in 1852 stopped the regime, having found that it was of some help with relaxation but overall had no significant effect, indicating that it served only to decrease his psychosomatic symptomatology. [Jensen G., [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/els/00223999/2003/00000055/00000002/art00311 Charles Darwin's calamitous psychosomatic disorder clarified] , Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 55, Number 2, August 2003 , pp. 133-133(1).] [Smith, F. et al. "Darwin's illness". Lancet 1990;336: 1139-1140] In 1855 Darwin wrote to a friend that "Dr. Gully did me "much" good", [Darwin, Charles; Frederick Burkhardt, Sydney Smith (1865). " [http://books.google.com/books?id=ao2I3-8PXBgC&pg=RA1-PA379&lpg=RA1-PA379&dq=dr+gully+did+me+much+good&source=web&ots=d83K9p99fd&sig=IhgOdG6MoC9RDBzAu0z3ysy-iYk The Correspondence of Charles Darwin] ". Cambridge University Press 13, p.379.] but he did not want to return to Malvern. When his illness returned much as when he had first seen Gully he found a new hydrotherapist, Dr. Lane, whose more relaxed regime did not include clairvoyance, mesmerism or homeopathy. After a similarly speedy recovery Darwin became a complete convert. [harvnb|Browne|2002|p=64] [harvnb|Desmond|Moore|1991|p=453-454] In 1863 his illness worsened seriously at a time when Lane was not available, and Emma Darwin persuaded her husband to return to Gully. His cousin Fox had told him that Gully had suffered a mental breakdown and was unavailable. [cite web |url=http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-4178.html#mark-4178.f5 |title=Darwin Correspondence Project - Letter 4178 — Fox, W. D. to Darwin, C. R., [16–22 May 1863] |accessdate=2008-03-09 |format= |work=] In his reply Darwin had mentioned having had eczema, and wrote "Gully will be a great loss & I hardly know whom to consult there. I must be under some experienced man, for I could not stand much hard treatment." [cite web |url=http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-4181.html#back-mark-4181.f4 |title=Darwin Correspondence Project - Letter 4181 — Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D., 23 May [1863] |accessdate=2008-03-09 |format= |work=] They arrived at Malvern on 2 September, but Darwin felt that he was being fobbed off with the supervising physician, Dr. Ayerst. Emma arranged for Dr. Gully to attend and endorse Ayerst's treatment, but by then the eczema was too raw to bear any water. Darwin had a complete breakdown, and on 13 October left the spa worse than when he'd arrived. His serious illness continued until the Spring of 1866. [harvnb|Browne|2002|p=228-229]

Beliefs and causes

Gully was an articulate and popular public speaker and writer. He was also a firm believer in a number of women's causes. He advocated women's suffrage, and preached temperance, due to the detrimental affects of alcohol on the husbands of many Victorian women. Gully separated the sexes strictly at his clinics, as he believed that many female psychological complaints (depression, anxiety, hypochondria, hysteria) were due to the pressures Victorian women were under to be chaste, ambitionless, efficient, selfless givers, at the expense of their own mental well-being.Fact|date=January 2008

While Gully believed in the value of homeopathic medicines in some cases, adding a footnote about his positive experiences with homeopathy to later editions of his water-cure book and stating that "It is well and wise to observe and investigate these things before laughing at them”, [Gully, James Manby: " [http://books.google.com/books?id=SBYDAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:07WVDaI0nAaUeMi6&lr The water cure in chronic disease] ", 5th ed. London: John Churchill, 1856. Excerpt in Google Book Search. Retrieved on 2007-01-15] he seems to have regarded the use of homeopathic remedies as an adjunct to his use of hydrotherapy, [ [http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-1234.html#mark-1234.f5 Letter 1234 — Darwin, C. R. to Darwin, S. E., 19 Mar 1849, footnote 5] . DarwinProject.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2008-07-09.] and does not appear to have agreed with the fundamental principles of homeopathy, writing in 1861, "It may shock the homœopathic world when I say that I never much cared for the doctrine of "like curing like"; and that I do not believe it to be of the universal application that they suppose". [ [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2288052&blobtype=pdf Gully, J.M. (1861): Homoeopathy and Hydropathy at Malvern, British Medical Journal, Nov. 16, 1861] ] Like many of his educated contemporaries both in the UK, [Paul Vallely, "Women's suffrage movement: The story of Kate Harvey," The Independent, 24 November 2005 [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/womens-suffrage-movement-the-story-of-kate-harvey-516710.html] ] and in the USA [Suzanne Keen, "Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (Book Review)," Commonweal, Sept 11, 1998 [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n15_v125/ai_21148208] ] Gully showed an interest in several popular movements of the day, such as women's suffrage, mesmerism and diagnostic clairvoyance, [Quammen, D: "The Kiwi’s Egg: Charles Darwin and Natural Selection", London: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 2007, p. 111.] and in later life he came to believe in spiritualism. ["Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, Vol. 24 p. 228.]

Affair with Florence Bravo

In 1872, he met a young woman named Florence Ricardo (later Florence Bravo). They became secret lovers. The following year, after travelling with Gully to Kissingen in Germany, Florence became pregnant. Gully performed an abortion.Fact|date=January 2008Thereafter, their relationship became purely Platonic.

Florence subsequently met and fell in love with Charles Bravo, whom she married in 1875. On hearing the news from a third party, Gully reportedly tore the letter to shreds. Just a few short months later, on April 18 1876, Charles Bravo died of poisoning. The culprit was never discovered; Gully was a suspect, along with Florence herself, but although he testified at the inquest, nothing further came of the case. In 1923, Sir Harry Poland QC, who was involved for the crown in the case, stated that "Dr. Gully was in no way implicated".

Published works

* "A systematic treatise on comparative physiology, introductory to the Physiology of man. Vol. I / [Friedrich Tiedemann] ; translated, with notes, from the German," James Manby Gully and J. Hunter Lane, 1834
* "A formulary for the preparation and medical administration of certain new remedies / Translated from the French ... with annotations and additional articles," James Manby Gully, 1835
* "Lectures on the moral and physical attributes of men of genius and talent," James Manby Gully, 1836
* "An exposition of the symptoms, essential nature, and treatment of neuropathy, or nervousness," by James Manby Gully, 1837
* "The simple treatment of disease deduced from the methods of expectancy and revulsion," James Manby Gully, 1842
* "The water cure in chronic disease : an exposition of...chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, & skin; and of their treatment by water, etc," James Manby Gully, 1846
* "The water cure in chronic disease. An exposition of the causes, progress, and terminations of various chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, and skin : and of their treatment by water, and other hygienic means," James Manby Gully, 1847
* "The water-cure in chronic diseases: an exposition of the causes, progress, and terminations of various chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, and skin, and of their treatment by water, and other hygenic means," James Manby Gully, 1854
* "A guide to domestic hydro-therapeia: the water cure in acute disease," James Manby Gully, 1869 [ [http://catalogue.wellcome.ac.uk/search?/agully/agully/1%2C3%2C12%2CB/exact&FF=agully+james+manby+1808+1883&1%2C10%2C Archived Collections: Gully, James Manby, 1808-1883] . London: Wellcome Library. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.]
* "Drawings descriptive of spirit life and progress. By a child twelve years of age," ed. James Manby Gully, 1874


Further reading

* "Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England" by James Ruddick; Atlantic Books, 2002
* "Dr. Gully's Story" by Elizabeth Jenkins; Coward, McCann, Geoghegan, Inc, 1972


last = Browne
first = E. Janet
author-link = Janet Browne
year = 1995
title = Charles Darwin: vol. 1 Voyaging
publication-place = London
publisher = Jonathan Cape
isbn = 1-84413-314-1

last = Browne
first = E. Janet
author-link = Janet Browne
year = 2002
title = Charles Darwin: vol. 2 The Power of Place
publication-place = London
publisher = Jonathan Cape
isbn = 0-7126-6837-3

last = Desmond
first = Adrian
last2 = Moore
first2 = James
author2-link =James Moore (biographer)
year = 1991
title = Darwin
publication-place = London
publisher =Michael Joseph, Penguin Group
isbn =0718134303

External links

* [http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?
* [http://www.malvernhealth.org.uk/about.html History of water cures at Malvern]
* [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/sowhatsnew/images/1b4-a.jpgCopy of page 1 of "The Practice of the Water Cure" by Gully & Wilson]
* [http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/home/tourism/wccindex/wcc-records/wcc-records-victorians-malvern.htm "The Water Cure at Malvern," brief illustrated guide]
* [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1705053&pageindex=1 The hydrotherapy and infamy of Dr. James Gully]

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