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Arthur's notes in his own handwriting


[Arthur's notes in his own handwriting:]

Friday, March 1. My statement to Charles Ll.D. on that day.

Very glad to see you again and sorry to have kept you waiting.
Did you see Crompton this morning?
Yesterday we thought things a good deal better.
As to pain, there has been a very decided improvement.
Yesterday evg. I made a note of the two preceding evenings, which I will presently show you.
First as to our London expert, McKenzie, who has been here for a good while at intervals.
His last report (I think about a week ago) was this –
My general health seemed rather better:
Condition of blood – improved and satisfactory.
Extent of injury, he thought reduced, and was sure not increased.
Altogether, my condition was encouraging, the general rule being that at an advanced stage the complaint progresses rapidly for the worse. Everything is uncertainty. The treatment is slow and experimental, but there is good reason for hope.
As to pain, my own note which you shall see, is a fair sample of recent progress.

[Another: possibly in continuation of above]:

Generally, I think the danger is from something uncertain. There may be a gradual growth of the thing. It may be growing all the time while the treatment keeps down the pain and haemorrhage. Also there may be sudden new haemorrhage or anything sudden and perhaps unforeseen.
But things certainly seem better and more hopeful.
I am still very weak and not less feeble mentally. My mouth is uncomfortable and stiff, and I cannot bite properly or open my mouth or talk comfortably. The inside of my mouth is very dry. I have dreams and nightmares. (I shd. like if possible to write out . . . . . which I had early this morning (March 1 a.m.) because you occur in it). If things go on as favourably as at present, I suppose I shall try to give up some of the morphia. Till I do this I can hardly expect to be . . . comfortable in body and mind from the morphia, and giving up the morphia, if and when it comes, will be troublesome.

[Another, on same day:]

You might at least look at my notes and reports for particular days.
We are now taking a rather more hopeful view, and these notes are the sort of thing that will go to make up the material for the doctor’s record.

[At the foot of the piece of paper, in another handwriting]:

Dear Arthur, I am delighted. I find your voice decidedly stronger. As to your being mentally feeble, that is moonshine. Everyone says just the opposite and so do I.

[Possibly George Duckworth]

[Some undated fragments, probably after the above]:

A. Feb. 1863.
S. Nov. 1867.
Married Aug. 15, 1892.
George, July 1893.
Jack, Sept. 1894.
Peter, Feb. 1897.
Michael, June 1900.
Nicholas, Nov. 1903.

The best I can do for survivors is to leave as good memories behind as possible. Of course I know (like everybody else) that there may be a new existence aft[erwar]ds.
I wish you came in here oftener during the day. During the morning I shd. so often like to see you.
You would not mind being sent away if there was any reason.
I cd. let nurse understand that she cd. reject you at any time.
Fixed times for visitors are a bother.
I think I shall try to take to tobacco again.
Do you know where Peter was in his form?
Do you not know his place in the whole week’s order?
He has not told anyone.
∴ [therefore] he was probably top.
Jack was top – George 4th (having been left 6th).
McBride has varied my diet after all, with a view to diminishing bile, and made the diet simpler – more of mere milk and egg. So I hope for peace on waking.
Yes, but I took also cream and also capsules of purified ox-bile. In place of latter I am going to take a spoonful of salad oil at night.
At all events it makes a great diff[eren]ce to know that the beastly oil and the spasms it causes do no harm and do not provoke bloodshed. All that has happened is that I have had to wait a few minutes and drink Aplenta slowly. Then I have been all right.
It was alarming, but seems in fact to have had no ill effects.
Can you see from the other side? It is now rather painful to lean over the other way.

Well, Jack, I wish you all good for tomorrow.
I am going to ask you a few questions as if I was an ADMIRAL.
What direction is B[erkhmsted] from London?
How far is B. from L?
Jack has just been in here, looking quite nice, but gentle and free from bounce. I have crammed him with distances from milestone on our wall* and I told him to look at the milestone tomorrow, and to say, if asked . . . . .

[AB: * The milestone is clearly visible on several photographs of Egerton House taken from the High Street.]


Jack may be able to date this last fragment exactly, if he can remember the date of his viva voce examination for Osborne.
In a good many instances the foregoing notes, all in pencil, are, for Arthur, badly written and with occasional misspellings, and repetitions or omissions of small words, but I have not attempted to reproduce these exactly. It is clear that a serious relapse or deterioration had taken place in late January or early February, and that from that time Arthur was a dying man for whom nothing could be done except by way of alleviating the pain and discomfort as far as possible.
There are a few more of the little bits of paper with pencilled notes and remarks on them, undated, and difficult if not impossible to assign dates to. On the whole it seems likely to me that most, if not all, of them came after the next letter.


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