The Lyon Archive

Preliminary Diagnosis

One of the prominent features of Lyon’s diary is this underlying sense of illness. Friends of his are mentioned in passing constantly falling sick, and even Lyon himself catches the occasional cold or bout of sea sickness. However, in the last few pages of the diary Lyon describes a more concerning illness that won’t seem to go away, and he consults multiple doctors about it. He appears to suffer from what today would be diagnosed as depression and anxiety, but in Lyon’s age his doctors merely assured him that it was “nothing” and would eventually go away.

This disease seems to first appear after his return to London from Kingston in 1838, but in reality hints of his affliction have been bubbling under the surface since the very first year of his diary. He does not come down suddenly with a mysterious disease near the end of the diary; rather this illness has been with him since the beginning, albeit not yet as severe, altering his decisions and shaping his travels.

With a deeper understanding of treatment at that time and knowledge of the doctors that he visited, many of the decisions that Lyon made begin to make more sense, and it becomes clear throughout the course of the diary that his health was closely intertwined with other seemingly unrelated aspects of his life.