Augustus Leopold Egg: The Travelling Companions (1862)
The city in the background of this painting is Menton, on the Côte d’Azur, which had become a popular destination for sufferers of tuberculosis following the 1861 publication of Dr. James Henry Bennet’s Winter and Spring on the Shores of the Mediterranean.
The cool, but pleasant temperature, the stimulating influence of the sunshine, the usual absence of rain or of continued rain, the moderate dryness of the air, render daily exercise out of doors both possible and agreeable. Indeed, in such a region life may be spent out of doors throughout the winter. Such an existence, in such conditions, has a direct tendency to create and to maintain the appetite, to improve the digestive and nutritive functions.
The pores of the skin, also, are kept permanently open throughout the winter, and thus the lungs are relieved of the extra burden which is always thrown upon them in northern climates, when the cold damp of winter supervenes. It is, indeed, because the functions of the skin, as an excretory organ and as a purifier of the blood, are all but arrested by the cold in our climate, that sore- throat, influenza, bronchitis, and kidney diseases in general are so prevalent in winter, or existing, become so aggravated. The work of blood-purification, accomplished in warm weather by the skin, is thrown in winter on the mucous membranes of the lungs and air passages, and on the kidneys. These organs are congested, choked, as it were, and succumb to this extra work, the blood itself becoming poisoned by deficient purification from worn out materials. Hence the colds or mucous membrane inflammations, and the fever that accompanies them, in the winter season of the north, as likewise various other forms of chest and kidney disease. Hence also the comparative immunity from these affections on the Riviera….
Phthisis is essentially a disease of debility. It principally attacks those who have received organizations deficient in vitality from their parents, or who have injured the vitality of an originally good constitution by excesses of any kind, or in whom such a constitution has been impaired by over work, or by hardships and privations independent of their own will. In such a disease—one essentially of defective vitality—a bracing, stimulating climate, such as I have described, must be beneficial, and has been most decidedly so, both in my own case and in those of the many whom I have attended. With the assistance of sunshine, a dry, bracing atmosphere, a mild temperature, and rational sthenic treatment, hygienic, dietetic, and medicinal, I have found pulmonary consumption in this favoured region, especially in its earlier stages, by no means the intractable disease that I formerly found it in London and Paris. After ten winters passed at Mentone, I am surrounded by a phalanx of cured or arrested consumption cases. This curative result has only been attained, in every instance, by rousing and improving the organic powers, and principally those of nutrition. If a consumptive patient can be improved in health, and thus brought to eat and sleep well, thoroughly digesting and assimilating food, the battle is half won ; and the principal benefit of the winter climate of the Riviera is the assistance it gives the physician in attaining this end. Amongst the consumptive patients I have attended, those who were in the early or even secondary stages of the disease, and had vitality and constitutional stamina left, have mostly done well. I have seen, in many young persons, well-marked, crude tubercular deposits disappear, gradually absorbed. In various cases of accidental phthisis in middle-aged, over-worked men, the amelioration has been still more apparent. I have seen well-marked cavities become partly or entirely cicatrized, and the constitutional symptoms gradually subside ; the general health and strength steadily improving. (source)
It’s also the train car that Alice takes in Through the Looking-Glass: