letters from dickinson to austin dickinson

24 December 1851

Dont tell them, will you Austin; they are all asleep soundly and I snatch the silent night to speak a word to you. Perhaps you are sound asleep, and I am onl chatting to the semblance of a man ensconced in warmest blankets and deep, downy pilows. I am afraid not, dear Ausitn, I'm afraid that dreadful pain will keep you wide awake all this dreary night, and so afraid am I, that I steal from happy dreams and come to sit with you. Since your letter came, we have thought so much about you, Oh more, many more than pen and ink can tell you - we are thinking of you now midst the night so wild and stormy. Austin, I hav'nt a doubt that Vinnie and mother are dreaming even now of you, tho' Vinnie was so sleepy the last time she opened her eye, and mother has had a very fatiguing day. And you know that I do, dont you, or i should'nt incur such perils for the sake of seeing you. Hav'nt you taken cold, or exposed yourself in some way, or got too tired, teaching those useless boys? - I am sorry for you. I do wish it was me, that you might be well nad happy, for I have no profession, and have such a snug, warm home that I had as lief suffer some, a great deal rather than not, that by doing so, you were exempted from it. May I change places, Austin? I dont care how sharp the pain is, not if it dart like arrows, or pierce bon and bone like the envenomed barb, I should be twice, thrice hap to bear it in your place. Dont try to teach school at all, until you get thoroughly well! The committee will excuse you, I know they will, they must; tell them if they dont I will tell the Mayor of them and get them all turned out! I am glad to know you are prudent in consulting a physician; I hope he will do you good; has anyone with neuralgia, tried him that recommended him to you? I think that warmth and rest, cold water and care, are the best medicines for it. I know you can get all these, and be your own physician, which is far the better way.

Now Austin, I cant come, I have no horse to fetch me, I can only advise you of what I think is good, and ask you if you will do it. Had I the art and skill of the greatest of all physicians, and had under my care whole hospitals of patients, I could'nt feel more anxious than in this single case; I do feel so desirous of a complete recovery!

But lest I harm my patient with too much conversation on sickness and pain, I pass to themes more cheerful and reminscence gay. I know it would make you laugh to see Vinnie sleeping as soundly as a poker, and shovel and pair of tongs, and Cousin Emily Norcross bringing up the rear in a sleep twice as sound and full twice as sonorous, and there come snatches of music from away in mother's room, which wake a funny response in my amused being. I can think of nothing funnier than for intelligent beings to bid the world good night, and go out with candles, and there's nothing that I enjoy more than rousing these self-same beings and witnessing their discomfiture at the bare idea of morning, when they're so sleepy yet.

Vinnie thinks me quite savage, and frequently suggests the propriety of having me transported to some barbarous country, where I may meet with those of a similar nature, and allow her to spend her days - that is, such small remainder as my inhumanity spares - in comparative ease and quietness!

She thinks ancient martyrs very trifling indeed and would welcome the stake in preference to sunrise, and that shrill morning call she may be sure to hear!

A'nt you sorry for her; she thinks of your sympathies often, and thinks they would all be hers, if they were nearer home.

Father will come tomorrow, and I will take care of Mat. Had a "merry Christmas" from Sue, besides some beautiful gifts for Vinnie and me, Monday evening. We are having a cozy, rosy, posy little visit with Cousin Emily - enjoy it very much, would love to have you here, if it might be possible. I was glad you remembered emily, it pleased her very much. Why did you apologize for any of your letters. Coming from you, Austin, they never can be otherwise than delightful to us; better than that you give us, we shall never desire.

Write to us very soon, and say how you are, and be very careful indeed, and dont write but a little, if you find it pains you. Much love.


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