Portland, Feb. 23, 1861
To Mrs. Smith:
I was sorry to hear by your letter that your husband was more feeble. There is a time when all things must fail, and it seems as though this would be so, in the case of your husband; but I hope not. I have tried all in my power to carry him through that place, and if he had sunk when he first came to Portland, I should not have been surprised. Seeing him so nervous and in so critical a condition kept me in a very unpleasant situation.
To voice my true feelings, he would have failed at once. So as a last resort, I was obliged to drive from myself all doubts of his not getting worse and see if I could produce any effect. As this seemed to take a favorable turn, I never had a time that I dared to think otherwise than that he would get well. So things went on; doubts and fears on one side, and a powerful effort on my part to keep him up, till I felt it would be best for him and you that he should return. If his strength was from me, he must fail at last; but if he could rally of himself, then I felt as though, between us both, he might come up.
It is very unpleasant to be placed in such a situation. Knowing how little of a sea or swell it takes to upset our barque, I have to sit and paddle along in breathless silence, lest some little billow may upset all my labors. This was the way in your husband's case. If he had been at home where all things could have been otherwise, I should not have had so many fears; but we must take the world as we find it, and make the best of it.
Now as I sit here writing, I cannot leave the helm of his mind to even indulge in the idea of losing him; nor shall I, till that enemy of life tears him from my grasp. If this sets in, I shall have some more hope. I shall visit often and use my best effort for his recovery. So I cannot say anything different from what I want should take place. You, as I have always said, can have your own opinion. Hoping next time I hear, I shall receive more favorable accounts, I remain,