in health. Finally, among the drawbacks of illness as
matter for literature there is the poverty of the
language. English, which can express the thoughts of 
Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the 
shiver and the headache. It has all grown one way. 
The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shake-
Speare, Donne, Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a 
sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and 
language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made 
for him. He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking 
his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the 
other (as perhaps the inhabitants of Babel did in the 
beginning) so to crush them together that a brand new 
word in the end drops out. Probably it will be something 
laughable. For who of English birth can take liberties 
with the language? To us it is a sacred thing and therefore 
doomed to die, unless the Americans, whose genius is so 
much happier in the making of new words than in the 
disposition of the old, will come to our help and set 
the springs aflow. Yet it is not only a new language that
we need, primitive, subtle, sensual, obscene, but a new 
hierarchy of the passions; love must be deposed in 
favour of a temperature of 104; jealousy give place to 
the pangs of sciatica; sleeplessness play the part of villain, 
and the hero become a white liquid with a sweet taste—
that mighty Prince with the moths’ eyes and the feathered 
feet, one of whose names is Chloral.

But to return to the invalid. ‘I am in bed with influenza,’
he says, and actually complains that he gets no sympathy. 
‘I am in bed with influenza’—but what does that 
convey of the great experience; how the world has changed 
its shape; the tools of business grown remote; the sounds 
of festival become romantic like a merry-go-round heard 
across far fields; and friends have changed, some putting 
on a strange beauty, others deformed to the squatness of 
toads, while the whole landscape of life lies remote and