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J. Marion Sims Correspondence (1848)

Montgomery, Ala. Febry. 20/48

Rev'd. Wm. Jarvis,

Dear Sir. Dr. Geo. O. Jarvis arrived here yesterday afternoon by Steam Boat from Mobile. He was taken sick on Wednesday, last and feeling some uneasiness about remaining there he started on the next day for this place. I am his physician. He requested me to let his family, through you, know his situation. He has fever and is of course too weak to sit up to write for himself. He is very sick but I do not consider him dangerously so. His family may rest assured that he shall have every attention and comfort.

He was very much disappointed in not finding his instruments in Mobile as he expected. They did not arrive till the 13th of this month.

He has started for home now and will leave here as soon as his health is fully reestablished, which can hardly be in less than 2 or 3 weeks.

You will, Dear Sir, exercise your own judgement in regard to the propriety of disclosing the doctor's illness to his family. Perhaps it would be as well to postpone it a day or two till you hear from me again. I shall drop you a line at least every 48 hours.Yrs. truly

J. Marion Sims

Montgomery, Ala. Febry. 21/48

Rev'd William Jarvis,

Dear Sir. I wrote you last night in relation to Dr. Jarvis' illness. I then said that I did not think he was dangerously sick.

He told me that he had been exposed a good deal in the Charity Hospital in New Orleans to Ship-fever about a week before he was attacked in Mobile and that he thought he had the disease. I tried to persuade myself that it was not so: but now I am forced to believe that he has Typhus fever which, you know, is always a serious if not a dangerous disease. I now have no hesitation in saying that I consider Dr. Jarvis dangerously ill. During his visit here a month ago, he endeared himself to the whole medical profession here and they have (on learning his situation) visited him almost to a man, and I am sorry to say that they all agree with me in the opinion expressed above. You will not understand me to say that his case is by any means hopeless, for you know very well what wonderful recoveries take place from this disease and that too after much and long suffering.

It is bad to be sick even at home. How awful then is it to be prostrated on the bed of affliction in a land of strangers far from those we love and those who love us. Knowing what solicitude his friends and family must feel, you'll allow me to repeat what I have before said, that he shall have every attention that it is possible for any man to get out of the hands of his own family.

Yrs. truly,
J. Marion Sims

Montgomery Ala. Febry. 24/48

Rev'd. William Jarvis.

Dear Sir. I am happy in being the bearer of glad tidings to you. Dr. Jarvis is wonderfully better. After the hemorrhage from the bowels was controlled last night, he began to improve and to day there is every prospect for a speedy convalescence. His pulse has varied to day from 86 to 92. Skin cool. Countenance almost natural, tenderness of the bowels has disappeared. Sleeps quietly without muttering or subsutius tendinem. Yesterday none of the physicians or visitors thought it possible for him to recover. To day we are all of opinion that he is obliged to get well unless some untoward accident should occur. You need not fear our physicking too much. In his case nature has not been thwarted in the least by a perturbating course of treatment, and to this, with the blessing of an allwise Providence, I attribute his safety.

I asked him to day what I should say to you specially when I wrote, and he answered, "say to him that you and I have just been comparing notes and have not quarreled." So you see he is able to crack a joke.

I hope I may be able to advise you tomorrow night of his continued improvement.

Yrs. truly
J. Marion Sims

Montgomery Ala. Febry 25/48

Rev'd William Jarvis.

Dear Sir. I am happy to tell you that Dr. Jarvis is getting on quite as well as we could expect. He is sick yet and will be so for several days but then the great danger seems to have passed over. His pulse to day has varied from 80 to 92, soft & full. He is still troubled occasionally with hiccup. Otherwise he is comfortable. Some of our Brethren of the Masonic fraternity are with him all the time day and night.

I cannot reasonably make any calculation on his being regularly convalescent before next (Tuesday or) Wednesday – this is Friday. I shall feel perfectly satisfied to be able to make you as favorable a report every day till then as I now do. You will hear from me by tomorrow's mail.

Yrs. truly
J. Marion Sims

Montgomery Ala. Febry. 26/48

Dear Sir,

I have nothing particular to communicate in regard to Dr. Jarvis' illness. There is no remarkable change since my last. The disease seems to be running its course with great regularity. Whether convalescence will be established as usual with us in such afflictions as the end of the second week, or whether it will continue three weeks as sometimes happens, cannot be determined. He has had a remarkably quiet day and is resting very well to night.

I would not write every night, but I know what must be the anxiety of his family to hear but a word from him. So you may expect to hear from me again tomorrow, although there will be hardly a change or anything of note to communicate.

Yrs. truly
J. Marion Sims

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. Febry. 27/48

Rev'd William Jarvis.

Dear Sir. The doctor is doing about as well as we could reasonably expect under the circumstances. He is entirely relieved of the hiccup. Sat up in a rocking chair 25 or 30 minutes to day, wished to set up longer but I insisted on his lying down. He has now no bad symptom whatever. Says he will get well, prescribed for himself this morning, wrote the prescription out and sent it to my office for my sanction. We are all in good spirits about him. I don't remember saying anything about his boarding house to you. He is stopping at the "Montgomery Hall" one of the best houses in the South. He has a very fine, large, well ventilated room & a colored servant for a nurse, who he says is the "kindest and best nurse" he ever saw. Mr. Jeffrey Gerald, (the proprietor of the house) could not pay more attention to him if he was a near relative. He is visited frequently during the day by friends whom he is always glad to see. From the day of his arrival here, I have had associated with me, in the management of his case, the best medical aid of the place. I give you these little items because I know that they will not be uninteresting to his anxious family. I shall write again tomorrow.

Yrs. very truly.
J. Marion Sims

Montgomery Ala. Febry. 28/48

Dear Sir.

I am glad that I have not unfavorable news for you. The Doctor is getting on well enough. We are in hopes that convalescence will be established at the end of the 2nd week, but if the fever should possibly run another week we cannot but hope that he may get through it as well as he is now doing. He has had no hiccup for 2 days, tongue moist & white (not red or brown), no subutters [?] for several days, pulse 86 to 90, skin soft & of equable temperature. Indeed, you must see by this assemblage of symptoms that his condition is altogether favorable. He sat up to day for half an hour.

You shall hear again tomorrow.

Yrs. truly
J. Marion Sims

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. Febry. 29/48

Dear Sir.

I am happy to inform you that our friend Dr. Jarvis is entirely out of all danger. I think that you may feel perfectly easy about him. It is hardly worth while to particularize any of his symptoms as his improvement is sure though slow. How long it will be before he is able to start for home I cannot tell; we thank God that he will be able to get back at all. He is already beginning to count up the distance and the time. He is a man of real practical philosophy and bears his afflictions with fortitude and resignation.

I will write again tomorrow.

Yrs. very truly.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 1/48

Dear Sir.

Dr. Jarvis has been to day suffering a good deal with a severe pain in the hip. It requires considerable doses of morphine for its relief, otherwise he is doing very well. I fear however that his disease will continue for another week before convalescence is fully established.

Excuse the brevity if you please as I have barely time to write.

Yrs. very truly.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 2/48

Dear Sir.

I have but little to say in regard to the Doctor. After we got him easy of his hip suffering to day he seems quite cheerful and is to night comparatively comfortable.

He has no bad symptoms whatever and I would be glad if you could all feel satisfied that he seems doing well. As there is so little to say, I may not write for two days.

Yrs. very truly.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 3/48

Dear Sir.

The Doctor is doing so finely that I am obliged to take the time to let you know it. This is the seventeenth day of his illness. Except his weakness, he is himself again.

He told me this evening to say to you "that he had rec'd your note with Mr. McCurdy's in reference to the trial, that it is altogether uncertain when he will be able to start for home, that he may not be there in time, and that you will, of course, be governed accordingly."

He told me to say to Mrs. Jarvis that he now felt that he was getting well, and that she must feel just as easy about him as she possibly can under the circumstances.

He felt some uneasiness about the pain in his hip, but it is so much improved that he now has no dread of its doing any permanent mischief.

Very truly yrs.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 4/48

Dear Sir.

I am happy indeed in being able to make a good report of the Doctor to day. He is entirely convalescent. He is really doing so well that it is wholly unnecessary for me to add another word.

If I had any thing particular to say, I would write again tomorrow, but as it is, you need not expect to hear from me till the next day.

Respectfully yrs.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 10/48

Rev'd William Jarvis.

Dear Sir. My absence from Montgomery for several days past will explain my silence. I allowed the Doctor to set up and write a letter to Mrs. Jarvis. He was very much fatigued by the effort and did not feel so well for two days afterward, but is now doing well. I have rec'd your two letters dated 1st & 3rd last and am rejoiced that Mrs. Jarvis did not undertake the long and tiresome trip to Montgomery.

I shall take very good care to guard the Doctor against a relapse and will not consent to his leaving here till I am well satisfied that he is strong enough to accomplish the journey home with perfect safety. As I have said before, you may feel perfectly easy about the Doctor's recovery, but you must wait with time and patience for his presence at home. With best wishes for yourself and all the Doctor's friends, I am

Yrs. very truly.
J. Marion Sims.

Montgomery Ala. March 13/48

Dear Sir.

I write merely to say that the Doctor is getting bravely on. He is drinking his pint of porter a day and thinks it the best medicine yet given him, is setting up occasionally for half an hour at a time & is quite lively & fond of cheerful company. He says that, however pleasant it would be to have Mrs. Jarvis with him, he cannot but feel glad that she did not undertake the journey.

I intend to profit by your suggestion and hold on to him till it will be perfectly safe for him to accomplish the journey home.

Dr. Brigham of Utica N.Y. passed through our place 2 or 3 days ago. I invited him to visit the Doctor. They are old acquaintances and of course were happy in meeting each other.

The Doctor is strong enough to write to you, but I much prefer acting as his amanuensis for fear of his overtaxing his powers as he did last week when he wrote to Mrs. Jarvis.

Very truly yrs.
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd Wm. Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 15/48

Dear Sir.

Your letter of the 7th was recd. this morning and afforded the Doctor a perfect treat. He is now improving very rapidly indeed, has a good appetite and is cracking the bones of boiled birds with quite a relish. He was surprised and delighted to day by an accidental visit from Dr. A. Kellogg of Birmingham Ct. and seems to be very greatly entertained with the description of Dr. K's adventures. The meeting was unexpected to each and afforded mutual gratification.

The Doctor set up to day for two hours or more at a time. I hope the letter from his daughter will arrive tomorrow, as he is now able to read and to write for himself.

Yrs. very truly
J. Marion Sims.

Rev'd William Jarvis,
Portland,

Ct.

Montgomery Ala. March 18/48

Rev'd William Jarvis.

Dear Sir. The arrival of Dr. Kellogg has made a new man of Dr. Jarvis. He sets up most of the day and has been riding out for two days past. He is gaining strength very fast, but I cannot tell how long it may be before he can safely travel. As I said before, I shall be sure to hold on to him till it is altogether prudent for him to make a move homewards.

Believe me as your friend.

J. Marion Sims.

Montgomery Ala. April 7/48

My Dear Doctor.

I have just rec'd your kind letter from Charleston. I cannot but regret that you did not get there time enough for the Steamer: however I hope you have gotten home safely. Would you believe that I haven't yet recovered my health perfectly? On the Friday after you left I exposed myself unnecessarily and relapsed. I am now fortunately up again but I take good care to let the office alone. In the morning I shall go to the country to see my sick brother and after my return I shall go down to Lowdon[?] Co. merely to get away from business. Thus you see I am disposed to take care of myself.

Boling is fat & so is Jones. Amis & Mr. Lyton have both been grimting[?] a little. Amis says that he had "brain fever" although he was out at hard work in 2 days after it. Our friend Baldwin is still feeble & low spirited, but is evidently improving daily. Mr. King (at the Hall) has been very sick and Anarca, our Anarca, is nursing him, so you may feel easy about his recovery. He is entering convalescence.

Tell Miss Charlotte M. Jarvis, if you please, that I intend to send her the Daguerrotype, provided she agrees to send her own to us, but on no other terms.

Remember me affectionately to our friends.

Very truly
Yr. friend
J. Marion Sims.

Geo. O. Jarvis, MD,
Portland,
Ct.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.