"THE IMMEDIATE CAUSES OF THE DISORDER CANNOT BE ASCERTAINED": REPORTS FROM THE COMMITTEES REGARDING THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE III, 1789 FIRST EDITION
(GEORGE III) (PARLIAMENT). Reports from the Committees Appointed to Examine the Physicians Who Have Attended His Majesty during His Illness. WITH: Report from the Committee Appointed to Examine the Physicians Who Have Attended His Majesty, during His Illness. A New Edition. London: Re-Printed At the Logographic Press, And Sold By J. Walter… W. Richardson; John Stockdale, 1789. Two volumes. [Reports] Small quarto, period-style marbled wraps, uncut; pp. (3), 4-8, (1), 6-52. [Report] Octavo, period-style marbled wraps; pp. (3), 4-88. $3200.
Rare first edition of a parliamentary report issued in January 1789, discussing the fourth attack of mental instability suffered by King George III which occurred between October 1788 and March 1789—unbound and uncut. Together with publisher John Stockdale's popular version of the report.
Few illnesses of historical figures have been studied as closely as the insanity of George III, who between 1765 and 1810 suffered five attacks of a condition now thought by some to be porphyria, by others bipolar disorder. Given the political importance, this case is extremely well-documented, and is important in the history of psychiatry. The ensuing regency question of 1788 generated political turmoil, and over the months the physicians who attended him—the most influential of whom was Francis Willis—were repeatedly summoned before special Parliamentary Committees to give evidence and opinions upon the King's health and the probable outcome of his illness.
Reports contains testimony from the eight physicians attending the king during his illness, taken on December 10, 1788, and January 7-13, 1789. Willis was a proprietor of a private asylum in Lincolnshire; his optimism about the King's eventual recovery found favor with the Prime Minister William Pitt and the Tory government, which had been supported by the King. Willis' chief rival was Richard Warren, a friend of the leaders of the Whig opposition; his pessimistic views about the situation were adopted by those who wished to see the Prince of Wales established as Regent. Reports by both Willis and Warren are included, as well as those of Henry Reynolds, Sir George Baker, and Sir Lucas Pepys, and the reports vividly highlight the tensions between the two sides, and the political turmoil that was raging.
The Parliamentary proceedings were republished in numerous editions, by many of the leading printers of the day, including J. Murray, John Bell, John Debrett and John Stockdale—the latter's edition is included here. These popularizing editions educated the public regarding mental illness, and helped make discussions of insanity acceptable.
Both volumes clean and near-fine.