Letter from Arthur to his sister Margaret, 13 March 1907
Egerton House, Berkhamsted.
[13 March 1907]
I am not quite sure when it is that you are to start off again on your work of help and kindness. Whenever it is you will be welcome. Sylvia could not remember exactly when you were coming – I thought tomorrow, Sylvia thought Saturday – and she wished me to write.
Anyhow I can carry on a report of the favourable progress which you saw going on while you were last here. I feel better and generally stronger, and I hope more amiable. It is now getting near dinner time, and I am lying waiting for dinner, comfortable and with a very respectable appetite. I have been having good nights, sleeping long and sound, mostly up to the end. There was a curious little variation last night, which I tell you (probably because each man’s dream is interesting to himself).
I slept and woke up well, and at 7.30 had Aplenta and some cold water and the usual morphia without a blotch on my skutch: then about 8.15 or so breakfast (of egg and milk beaten up) as usual quite right, and slept again. Then at about 10.30 I woke again quite in comfort physically but having suffered from a queer attack. I had sat in Trinity Chapel, where there had been a tremendous conflict as to order. I had been taken to be a leader of disorder, actual noise, shouting, uproar and disorder much against my will, because I had in fact, because I had been perfectly quiet and orderly. On the other side, the leaders were (mirabile dictu) the three brothers Lankester, (Ray, Forbes and Owen), and at the head of all the great man of peace, Sir Edward Fry. Forbes Lankester (about 18 stone) was being carried out over our heads, shouting and roaring at me, while I tried to keep still, and as he passed, got hold of me and began to drag me off with fearful threats. Then, fortunately, I awoke, lying quite quiet and still and comfortable. I put this down either to one of the curious vagaries of opium or to the bilious trouble which seems to have been nearly banished by the doctor. It will be satisfactory when I am able to eat rather more, but the progress towards eating without discomfort seems to be steady.
Now good night, dearest Margaret,
Your most affect. brother
Someone has written in the top left-hand corner of the first page of this: “Please keep this letter. Its literary style has been so much admired.”
It is indeed admirable for its ease and purity of expression, though not more so than many others of A’s letters. The writing is still neat and well formed for a letter written in bed and presumably lying down rather than sitting up; but several words are scratched out or repeated and some omitted, and there are mis-spellings such as “sufferered” and “banashised”.
Morphia is compounded of opium.
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