November 27, 1915

To-day, armed with a certificate from my Doctor in a sealed envelope and addressed ‘to the Medical Officer examining Mr W. N. P. Barbellion,’ I got leave to attend the recruiting office and offer my services to my King and Country. At the time, the fact that the envelope was sealed caused no suspicion and I had been comfortably carrying the document about in my pocket for days past.

Of course I attended merely as a matter of form under pressure of the authorities, as I knew I was totally unfit — but not quite how unfit. After receiving this precious certificate, I learnt that K—— was recruiting Doctor at W——, and he offered to ‘put me thro’ in five minutes,’ as he knows the state of my health. So at a time agreed upon, I went to-day and was immediately rejected as soon as he had stethoscoped my heart. The certificate therefore was not needed, and coming home in the train I opened it out of curiosity. . . .

I was quite casual and thought it would be merely interesting to see what M—— said.

It was.

‘Some 18 months ago,’ it ran, ‘Mr Barbellion shewed the just visible symptoms of —— ——’ — and altho’ this fact was at once communicated to my relatives it was withheld from me and M—— therefore asked the M.O. to respect this confidence and to reject me without stating on what grounds. He went on to refer to my patellar and plantar reflexes, by which time I had had enough, tore the paper up and flung it out of the railway carriage window.

I then returned to the Museum intending to find out what —— —— was in Clifford Allbutt’s System of Medicine. I wondered whether it was brain or heart; and the very thought gave me palpitation. I hope it is heart — something short and sharp rather than lingering. But I believe it must be —— of the brain, the opposite process of softening occurring in old age. I recall M——’s words to me before getting married: that I had this ‘nerve weakness,’ but I was more likely to succumb to pneumonia than to any nervous trouble, and that only 12 months’ happiness would be worth while.

. . . . . . .

On the whole I am amazed at the calm way in which I take this news. I was a fool never to have suspected serious nerve trouble before. Does dear E—— know? What did M—— tell her when he saw her before our marriage?

HTML edition by Ray Davis, free for any use.