In childhood Alexander Pope contracted what seems to have been tuberculosis of the spine—Pott's disease. He died at the age of 56, of what apparently was congestive failure. Despite his physical disabilities, he produced some magnificent poetry and, as one of the great wits of his era, exerted profound influence on letters during the first half of the 18th century.
In addition to his main illness, he suffered a wide variety of complaints and underwent a wide variety of treatments. Nicolson and Rousseau, in this excellent little book, provide a medical history of Pope, drawn from contemporary primary sources as well as sound secondary sources, and also have the benefit of competent medical consultation. The discussions of Pope's ailments not only provide important biographical data but throw much light on the relations between his changing states of health and his poetry.
The book really comprises four separate essays. The first