January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 12 May 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590512-JWC-MR-01; CL 35: 93-94


5 Cheyne Row Thursday [12 May 1859]

Dearest Mary

Had I been ever so well, I shouldn't have written till you wrote—just to bring it home to your business and bosom,1 how much easier it is to keep out of a long silence than to get out of it! (For you couldn't but know very well, my Dear, that you were owing me a long letter; in spite of your cool doubts as to whose turn it was!) Indeed I was very cross with you, till I heard that you had been ill with your stomach—and then I regretted that I had stood on my rights of woman2—when I could so easily have written on the voluntary principle.3 Especially as to answer your letter at once on receiving it was among things forbidden to me— My Dear for weeks I had been forbidden to write, or read, or talk, or think!! above all I was “on no account to think”! I “might knit” in my bed if I liked—but nothing else—besides swallowing tonics, wine, and “nourishing food” from morning till night and I might add from night till morning! And as I never had succeeded in learning to knit and my Doctor4 “couldn't teach me” (which he excessively regretted) I had just to resign myself to be an Idiot!—— So!— I have had a ‘Dr’ after all! Dr Russell will say, he had been right then in telling me, I “had never been very ill or I would have sent for a Dr”! But let me tell him first, why I sent for a Dr on the present occasion— In the first place my head was getting light which threatened to disable me from giving directions about myself—in the second place, there was need of somebody with authority who knew, to explain to Mr C that if care were not taken, I should die of sheer weakness! a thing which makes no show to inexperienced eyes—especially to eyes blinded with incessant contemplation of Frederick the Great!— So I sent for the nearest General Practioner5 (whom I knew to bow to—and had often been struck with the human, practical look of)—and he came and more than realized my most sanguine expectations—not only making the danger of my situation understood—so that I was delivered from petty worries, and noises, and all that, but helping me up with strength—in medecines, and especially by giving me to understand that if I did not make myself eat I would certainly die.— The violent illness which had preceded this state of weakness, I had treated he said “quite right” but “my audacity was not a thing he would recommend me to repeat”! During the three weeks that I saw him every day, and was allowed to see no one else, I indeed took quite a serious attachment to him! And as he finds me the very oddest patient he ever had he now sits with me half-an-hour instead of the official three minutes! Another thing—he is not unlike Dr Russell—certainly far liker him than any other medical man in London! But I am writing too long— I am in the drawing room now (after three weeks confinement to bed)—most part of the day at least—and may see one person daily—and I am improving in strength slowly but steadily— So soon as I am up to moving and the weather is warm I must go my Dr says to the seaside— God bless you

Affly /

J W Carlyle