by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Transcript prepared by Susan L. Farley.
by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
DR. DILLON TO EDWARD DELANEY, ESQ., AT THE PINES.
NEAR RYE, N.H.
August 8, 1872.
My Dear Sir: I am happy to assure you that your anxiety is without
reason. Flemming will be confined to the sofa for three or four
weeks, and will have to be careful at first how he uses his leg. A
fracture of this kind is always a tedious affair. Fortunately the
bone was very skilfully set by the surgeon who chanced to be in the
drugstore where Flemming was brought after his fall, and I
apprehend no permanent inconvenience from the accident. Flemming is
doing perfectly well physically; but I must confess that the
irritable and morbid state of mind into which he has fallen causes
me a great deal of uneasiness. He is the last man in the world who
ought to break his leg. You know how impetuous our friend is
ordinarily, what a soul of restlessness and energy, never content
unless he is rushing at some object, like a sportive bull at a red
shawl; but amiable withal. He is no longer amiable. His temper has
become something frightful. Miss Fanny Flemming came up from
Newport, where the family are staying for the summer, to nurse him;
but he packed her off the next morning in tears. He has a complete
set of Balzac's works, twenty-seven volumes, piled up near his
sofa, to throw at Watkins whenever that exemplary serving-man
appears with his meals. Yesterday I very innocently brought
Flemming a small basket of lemons. You know it was a strip of
lemonpeel on the curbstone that caused our friend's mischance.
Well, he no sooner set is eyes upon those lemons than he fell into
such a rage as I cannot adequately describe. This is only one of
moods, and the least distressing. At other times he sits with bowed
head regarding his splintered limb, silent, sullen, despairing.
When this fit is on him--and it sometimes lasts all day--nothing
can distract his melancholy. He refuses to eat, does not even read
the newspapers; books, except as projectiles for Watkins, have no
charms for him. His state is truly pitiable.
Now, if he were a poor man, with a family depending on his daily
labor, this irritability and despondency would be natural enough.
But in a young fellow of twenty-four, with plenty of money and
seemingly not a care in the world, the thing is monstrous. If he
continues to give way to his vagaries in this manner, he will end
by bringing on an inflammation of the fibula. It was the fibula he
broke. I am at my wits' end to know what to prescribe for him. I
have anaesthetics and lotions, to make people sleep and to soothe
pain; but I've no medicine that will make a man have a little
common-sense. That is beyond my skill, but maybe it is not beyond
yours. You are Flemming's intimate friend, his fidus Achates. Write
to him, write to him frequently, distract his mind, cheer him up,
and prevent him from becoming a confirmed case of melancholia.
Perhaps he has some important plans disarranged by his present
confinement. If he has you will know, and will know how to advise
him judiciously. I trust your father finds the change beneficial?
I am, my dear sir, with great respect, etc.
EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING, WEST 38TH STREET,
August 9, 1872.