July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 22 September 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580922-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 192-194


Thornhill Wednesday [22 September 1858]

Oh my Dear! I hope that Nero will know you, and welcome you “in his choicest mood”!1 and I hope that Charlotte will “not fall, but rise with the emergence” (as Miss Anderton2 says she does); and I hope that in practical things at least you will not miss me—much!—for the few days you will be left to your own shifts. I shall be back to you in the early part of next week. Nothing can go materially wrong, one would say, till then—nay it is probable that for that long, you may even prefer being “well let alone.”3 Still I am wae to think of your arriving from your long wanderings, in my absence. and when I got your letter, telling me you were positively not to return by Scotland, and not to be at Cheyne Row till tomorrow, I should have wound up my affairs here in a hurry, and dashed off home, in time to receive you—had I been up to any dashing! But alack my dear! your letter found me just recovering from an attack of something extremely like—cholera! when any impudence might have cost me my life. Besides Dr Russell was here to take good care I committed none! Can you figure any thing more fortunate than my taking this illness—since it was to be taken in his house!— Such a Doctor and such a Nurse “all to myself” (as the children say)! Had these cramps taken me two days sooner, at Lann—I would have gone on bearing them as long as possible without sending for help, and I had no morphia with me to have taken at my own hand; and (as Basil Montague4 says of the powder found wet when the Battle should begin) “what then would not have been the consequences”?!— I declare it was almost worth while to fall ill here, just for the satisfaction of seeing once more a real live Doctor? What a blessing to Society is such a phenomenon; It reminded me of the good ald time when my childish mind could conceive of no higher mission than to “ride about and see the folk”!5 Not one useless question did that man bother me with, and not one necessary question did he omit to ask—his quiet, clear decided manner inspired me with such faith in him that I would have swallowed prusic acid or strychnine at his bidding And so he gives me the character of “a perfectly excellent patient.” C'est Selon [That's the way it is]!— As for Mrs Russell's nursing it was as anxious and devoted as my own Mother's!

The practical deduction from all which is, that you must send Dr Russell a copy of the Frederick as soon as possible and be sure to write his name in it with your own hand,—God knows if you dont owe him my life!

My original plan was to have spent a few days at Scotsbrig on the way home—after staying over one night at Mary's.6 But altho' I am now as well as I was before my attack—indeed better than I was during the last of my three weeks at Lann, where sleeplessness had again overtaken me, and I was having pains in my stomach and bowels— Still, after such a blow to my conceit about my “improved health” I feel timerous about fatigues and exposures—Changing my bed more than can be helped travelling in an open gig at this season—risking being caught in the rain is not for the like of me! So I write today to ask Jamie to come7 and see me at the Gill on Tuesday. I mean to leave here by the early train on Monday. Stop at Dumfries to see Jane8—get on to Mary's before dark—(there is a train about five I fancy) stay over Tuesday at the Gill (in expectation that Jamie can come) and then straight to Chelsea next day (Wednesday)

I made a stir to get away from here the day after tomorrow but Dr Russell protested quite seriously against my travelling so soon after my illness. And since I could not be there to receive you, a day or too sooner or later would make small difference in fact. Meanwhile what are you to do about finding things? Charlotte is rather good at finding! take her up gently, tell her what you want in plain English, and I have no doubt you will find her very docile and “quick at the up take.

There are not all the usual silver spoons out—but you will make what you have do.

It was stupid in me not to leave the key of the wine cellar in some accessible place—but I never contemplated your being home first— It is hanging up (I think) on a nail inside of the side-board drawer next the door—the nail is on the side of the drawer facing your left hand, far back—grope for it and you will find it. The key of the drawer I have here in my pocket fortunately and send it enclosed, so you will have no search to make for it. The sherry is furthest off on your left hand as you enter the cellar— There is no Brandy you know. Some bottles of whisky are in a long, narrow box I think, there is no wax on them

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