7th October [1870]


My dear Carter


Our first Mail for more than 8 days arrived this morning & brought with it your hurried letter to Robert, as it maybe very long ere he will either read or write another, I will answer at once lest you should be needlessly alarmed with the newspaper accounts. He is better today than he has been since his seizure & Dr. Madison assures me that there are no symptoms of Paralysis in his case nor of apoplexy, that he thinks it is over tension of the nerves of the brain with some connexion with his late illnesses & that he may possibly be in better health when relieved. He is improving slowly but steadily each day & though he does not seem inclined to talk occasionally utters a sentence very distinctly we feel much encouraged about him tho’ still anxious I know it will be long ere he can resume at all the immense correspondence that annoys him so much & which no ones [sic] seems able to carry on to his satisfaction I will now give you a detailed account of the whole attack, on Wednesday 29th Septr. He rose earlier than usual & was always rather in a hurry to get his breakfast & get the girls off to Chapel which has been his fancy lately thinking if the ladies would patronize it that the students would be more interested in going then he went to College & remained there the whole time till half past one oclock or later, which he has not done recently generally coming home during the morning & taking a little walk or ride, ate as usual a plate of grapes before dinner & then his ordinary dinner about half past 2 a very slight one for we had nothing but a poor pair of chickens after dinner he took his usual snooze in his chair & went over to church after which there was a prolonged & anxious vestry meeting about which I know he had been troubled at 7 oclock our tea came in & he had not come so I sat down with my sewing & Custis on the sofa about half past I heard him come in the front door & take off his hat & cloak & deposit them in his room & as he entered the dining room. I said where have you been all this time, we have been waiting for you. He stood up at the foot of the table as if to say grace but uttered no sound & then sank back in his chair. I said you look very tired let me give you a cup of tea. He tried to reply but uttered something unintelligible. I looked up & his countenance alarmed me Custis came to him & asked him what was the matter but he did not speak but continued sitting in the chair we sent off for the Doctors who had both been at the same vestry meeting & had not reached home & they both arrived in less than 10 minutes applied cold cloths to his head & hot bath to his feet & then got off his clothes & lifted him into a bed which was brought down into the dining room & where he has been ever since. He slept almost continuously for two days & nights the Drs. thinking entire rest might restore him but finding that it did not they cupped him & have been giving him medicines since & he is now much more aroused tho’ he still sleeps a good deal, seems to enjoy what food is offered him tho’ rarely asks for anything I trust that a life so important to his family & country may be longer spared & that I may soon be enabled to report him to you much better. Tell my dear little Mildred I have not time now to write to her as I am very tired having been writing nearly all day




Source: Photostat of original, vertical files, Jessie Ball DuPont Library, Stratford Hall. Original held by Yale University Archives and Manuscript Library.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 24