While I enjoy the epistolary style of the novel evident in Humphrey Clinker, one of the things that I wish the reader could see was the responses to these letters. The responses I would most like to see are those of Dr. Lewis, who is routinely written to by Matthew Bramble. While I continue reading this novel, a part of me wonders if Dr. Lewis is truely a friend of Mr. Bramble, or if he is in fact annoyed by the constant pestering of one of his patients who can’t take a hint?
If I was Dr. Lewis, the point where I would have draw the line was right at the end of Volume I, when Mr. Bramble is describing the food and atmosphere in London. It seems to me that he has very little good to say, complaining “I am pent up in frowzy lodgings, where there is not room enough to swing a cat; and I breath the steams of endless putrefaction.”(Smollett 113). He continues to go on about how disgusting the bread is or how unsanitary the fruit is. My though process while reading this chapter was “Okay….I get it, you are rich and the food and lodging is terrific at your house!!! If you hate it so much then just go back home!”
I can only imagine how much this would annoy me if I was Dr. Lewis. I’d have to guess that if we were able to read a letter that Dr. Lewis wrote back, it would say something like “Listen….I am more than happy to give you medical advice, but I could really care less about your travels throughout England”. I have begun to see that Matthew Bramble is quite fond of complaining, and poor Dr. Lewis has to receive all of these negative letters because he considers the doctor a close friend. Maybe they are in fact close friends, but I am just having trouble believing that these are letters that the Doctor is excited to receive.