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Arthur Llewelyn Davies to Margaret Llewelyn Davies


Letter from Arthur to his sister Margaret, telling her that he is to have "a small operation" on his jaw, 26 May 1906.

[No original available]


May 26 1906
Egerton house, Berkhamsted.

Dearest Margaret,
I have been hoping to manage a visit to Kirkby with Michael this Whitsuntide, and to fit in with Sylvia’s outing, but I am doomed to spend Whitsuntide less agreeably – in lying up for a small operation. I have a slight swelling in the side of the face, which is beyond the dentist’s skill, and on his advice I consulted an expert in cheek and jaw. He is going to perform on Friday, and I shall stay at a nursing place till the following Tuesday. Probably the cause of the trouble is the root of an old dead tooth, possibly a minute fragment of a tooth long ago pulled out. The surgeon cannot be sure without operating, and he says the swelling will certainly not go away of itself.
The surgeon (E.W. Roughton) has very high qualifications, and was strongly recommended to me by Rendel, for his good sense as well as his skill. There is no ground for anxiety, but I can imagine pleasanter ways of spending money in June. My address will be 12, Beaumont Street, W. (c/o Miss Pretty). I expect to be more or less recovered after a week.
Sylvia will probably leave with her friends for Paris on Tuesday (June 5), if I am fit to be left.
[written above this line in pencil in the original are the words, “I’m sure she won’t it!” in another handwriting – probably Margaret’s.]
Crompton is kindly willing to come here on that day with me.
You may have seen that Lord Macnaghten kindly paid me a compliment the other day, in another case in which the Lords have lately given judgement – against me.
I have been distressed by the sudden death of my friend Carver, lately appointed a County Court Judge
Yours affectly,
I have not been suffering pain.

Peter's comments:

I think it is pretty clear that, beneath the outwardly reassuring – and perhaps self-reassuring – tone of this letter, lay an apprehension of grim developments.

The placing of one or two of the succeeding letters and telegrams has been a little difficult, but I think I have got the sequence right, and that there was a small exploratory operation on the following Friday (June 1), which confirmed whatever fears the dentist, Roughton and A. himself may have had, and led automatically to the serious operation a week later. A further minor operation followed on the 18th.
The phrase immediately before the reference to Lord Macnaghten rather suggests that this letter, though on Egerton House notepaper, may have been written from the Nursing Home – perhaps when A. went round to fix up the room.

Rendel had been the family doctor for some years.

[AB: E.W. Roughton was an eminent surgeon attached to the Royal Free Hospital, London]


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