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2-100 (Original)

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addressee,female author,female,Viveash, Ellen,un
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Clarke, 1992
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2-100.txt — 11 KB

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My dear Mother,
I have a great deal of domestic news and chit chat for this letter. I think it will be some weeks before a ship will leave for England and I therefore think I shall more than fill this sheet. [...]
On the 9th of this month Charles complained a good deal of a fixed pain in his stomach which he had felt something of nearly a week before, tho' I could not before the above named day get him to take any medicine, but that morning he took 5 grains of calomel stayed in bed till 2 o'clock when some neighbours came and he got up. They left about 6 and had not been gone more than 20 minutes when Charles complained of sickness. . . and in a moment after Charles complained of his head (I must make another parenthesis to say Charles is nearly well now) and I could not make him place himself on the floor until he half fell there insensible, almost on his face. He was quite immovable in my hands - I rang and Rossiter happened to be out of the house a few minutes and the wet cloth, braces etc. to be undone, windows opened, head to be raised - all done in ten minutes at farthest, but tho' I constantly bathed his face with water I think 20 minutes must have elapsed before he showed any signs of life. I then thought it was more than a fainting fit and sent a man for a neighbour who can bleed. In a few minutes Charles became slightly convulsed and kept up a moaning - then relapsed into insensibility. Twice this happened, at last the men took him to bed when he became so much better that we did not bleed him (fortunately).
I wanted him to take 10 grains of calomel but he said he should be well tomorrow (I knew better). The fit was on Wednesday. That evening I wrote to Mr Strang to come and sent the letter the next morning but he was from home and did not come until the next evening, when Charles was so much worse that Strang did not leave him night or day till the following Monday afternoon. The constipation of the bowels was such that 2 drops of croton oil given twice in six hours with injections of oil and salts given, had no effect except in allaying pain. [184] Mr. Strang then gave him 3 pills of calomel and gums which Charles brought up, likewise 3 drops of croton oil which shared the same fate. The nausea and vomiting was so constant. . . that on Saturday we thought a warm bath was the only hope and we trusted it might make the bowels act. We had sold all our puncheons but one which was carried away with the flood last winter, however, on Saturday before light I sent to a neighbour for one and was unsuccessful but I luckily thought of a case the wool bagging came in from Milroy and had it pitched and the bath was ready between 12 and one which so refreshed him (tho' it did not aid in moving the bowels) that we had time to take other measures.
That morning, Saturday, Charles had looked deathlike and all feared he would not live. Thomson came and I got him to stay to help in bathing as we feared Charles would faint in the bath but he did not. Mr. Strang had proposed calling in Cotter (district Surgeon who is anything but clever) or Mr. Cameron an old man and I should think not clever or Mr. McNab (very clever but very drunken) I asked Thomson's advice, and he decided at once for the latter. We sent in the night and he came almost as soon as light on Sunday, very steady. He stayed till the evening thinking most seriously of the case and putting innumerable questions as to constitution etc. He ordered 6 grains of calomel every 3 hours which Charles took the whole of Sunday and during the night. As that gave very partial sleep it was changed to blue pill and cole-sinth [colocynth?] every 2 hours. Pray all bear in mind what McNab dwelt much on, namely if one medicine does not act a change of medicine may, even a less powerful one act even in cases of less importance than this.
On Sunday afternoon Mr. Sutherland came and his loud talking quite knocked me up having been only just able to wait on Charles. The annoyance of Mr. Sutherland, who is always imprudent, made my spirit give way perhaps a night earlier but this was I believe the saving of my life. I had eaten nothing since Thursday night when I took some bread and tea with Mr. Strang most ravenously and until Monday it remained in my stomach - I felt just as I swallowed it notwithstanding 6 grains of calomel 4 other pills and salts besides 2 injections of salts. I had drunk the cocoa and fowl broth 2 or 3 times day and night which with the necessity of my presence near Charles had exerted me to rush about. At 9 on Sunday, I gave way and from exhaustion could neither stand or sit, my legs seem paralized (from fever I now know and the want of rest to my back). On Saturday morning I had sent for the washer woman who came quickly tho' she had saved me immense fatigue in changing the beds and making the drink for Charles, (he could not endure any one but me or Mr. Strang to stay with or wait on him). [185] 
On Sunday night we went for Thomson to sit up with Charles to give pills every 2 hours, between which he was to have nourishment and soda water to allay the sickness which had the excellent effect and the bowels began to act slightly. The soda water was continued many days. On Monday I was just able to crawl in to see Charles and then returned to my bed till Tuesday when I was again able to be with him and danger was over unless he made a relapse. Charles said Thomson was the best nurse except me. Mr. McNab slept here on Monday, Charles was so recovered as to be up on Thursday. This was wonderful but I attributed it to the great attention in giving him during the night beef tea, fowl broth, arrowroot etc. every hour and a half, night and day, after the danger was over (a relapse would have destroyed him). McNab said if Charles had been a robust man inflamation would have carried him off but he was of so low a habit that he had fever only one night and no thirst. This latter made him very weak, together with the nausea, for he took scarcely 2 drinks in the day till Sunday night.
When I got ill Mrs. Allison came to nurse one day, Mrs. Thomson one, and Mrs. Allison again. It would be impossible to express to you half the kindness and attention shewn us by our neighbours during this illness, all offering to sit up, help in the day and sending fresh beef, white bread, light cakes, eggs, oatmeal, coffee, jelly (cows feet), milk. I never can forget it and am confident nothing like it would have been met with in England. But they say "in England you would have had your relations and friends to have aided you instead." It is true, but we shall always like this country infinitely better. Charles cares less about leaving it now.
Charles thought on the Saturday he could not live (I did not know at the time that he was so fully sensible of his danger but found he most narrowly observed my countenance) and was most anxious to appoint Mr. Simpson joint executor with me seeing I should be incapable of business for some time. He has now asked Mr. Simpson if he may. Rossiter behaved incomparibly well night and day coming as long as I was well to ask me what the men should do next day. Bill the gardner and factotum likewise very well, 3 other men very badly, refusing to even chop wood. One I sent on Monday mid day to Campbell Town for medicine remained out till Tuesday mid day, tho' told by McNab when the medicine was given him to return quickly. He is sent to a chain gang for a year. 2 others Charles wanted me to get punished but it made me so nervous being still weak (on Wednesday when I made the charge against the other) that I begged them off, besides I thought one as an example would do much good and it has. They thought Charles would die and did not perhaps know that I could act, that I had the power of acting. This would now never happen again. Charles has given Rossiter and Bill a pound each and spoken severely to the others and told them he will be severe with them until by good conduct they made him forget this. [...] [186]
Mr. McNab came 4 times to Charles and slept twice and came twice to me and we payed him £10, He said half would amply pay him but we thought it not too much as he doubtless saved Charles life. I had not been very well some time before Charles' illness but I am now very well. McNab, after several consultations and deliberation, says he could swear I never had the complaint I and Dr. Scott believed I had, and if he has not quite convinced me he has made me hope I have not. I have no doubt McNab is the most clever of the two and has had nearly as much experience and certainly is less trusty in his conclusions. He is likewise particularly clever in complaints of females midwifery and was under (in Edinborough) a man who wrote on stricture (White I think). He thinks the inactivity of the bowels has proceeded from the deranged weakened state of the stomach. There is, he says, an enlargement of the colon . . . which produces nearly the effect of a stricture . . . He has ordered me castor oil as often as I like (never pills they increasing my complaint of stomach and bowels) and by way of change rhubarb and magnesium (3d. the former 3s. the latter) and 3 wine glasses daily of camomile tea - the best stimulative, he says, its simplicity alone having sent it out of fashion.
He says his stomach was so debilitated that from weakness of body and mind he was obliged to have some one lead him about, when he luckily saw at an auction a jar of camomile and purchased it which cured him. He will see me again in some weeks to know how I go on and if it should be necessary to use mechanical means (which he does not believe) he will use the intestine of a pig. . . [NN] .. . introduced with the bougie [NN] and filled by injecting water which may be retained many hours without irritation. If it should be stricture he says it would be easily overcome. He is a very well informed man as well as being so clever in his profession. He is a Highlander. He says my digestive organs are in the most damaged state but by following his plan I shall enjoy better health than for many years past. I think this would do for you dear Mother. If the camomile tea is taken warm it will produce nausea or vomiting. The wonder is I lived through taking pills so many years. He gives reasons for everything. He said Charles should eat often, always having only a small appetite and being debilitated, every 4 hours. He should above every thing keep his feet warm by wearing cork shoes and worsted stockings. [...]
There is a meeting tomorrow at Campbell Town to express gratitude to Mr. Robinson who has succeeded in peaceably capturing the Aborigines. Charles will not attend but will send £5. [187]
I am going to send this by way of Sydney. Charles began a very long letter to you about 5 weeks ago and he will send it by the first ship which leaves this colony for England. Charles still complains of nausea frequently, this I do not like but probably he is quite as well as he ought to expect, he is still very weak but has been out 3 or 4 days and gets up at 9 and stays up until 10 without complaining of fatigue. I am much better than I have been for many weeks.