Abbotsford, November 19th, 1854.
MY DEAR CROKER,
If there had been anything comfortable in my own condition, or, as far as I understood it, anything in yours, I should not have been at all likely to drop the correspondence that had been for so many years one of the chief and most regular amusements of my life.
My health and spirits both gave way about two years ago. My immediate relations and friends thought something of Robert Hay's Roman proposal, and although abhorring travels; I submitted to the experiment; but the appearance of benefit was slight and fleeting, and before the usual period for English tourists to return home, I found various warnings that it would be prudent for me to do so. Since then I have continued to lose strength almost without interruption, and my usual state is that of the most complete childish helplessness in body, and almost equally so in mind. I am not, however, aware that my reasoning soundness is disturbed, unless by occasional medicine which often confuses my memory.
I spent the latter part of the autumn at my brother's in Lanarkshire, at which time I was by no means so very low as I am now; but between the decay in my own physical powers and the temptations of the Hope Scotts being established in Scotland, I saw no reason for refusing myself the pleasure of being under the same roof with my nearest and dearest relations, not excluding Charlotte's baby, who is a particular delight to me.
Even a short letter is a considerable exertion. My daughter will let me summon her assistance as my amanuensis some day soon again. Meantime I suppose enough has been said to leave you with the clear impression that it is not possible for any of my inspectors to have reached a humbler notion of my prospects than I have long myself been content with. Charlotte joins me in kindest regards to Mrs. Croker, and I hope when our hands fail altogether, that theirs may still continue to maintain the usual offices between our families.
Meantime, believe me,
Ever yours truly,
J. G. LOCKHART.