Portland, Apr. 10th, 1861
To Mrs. Strong:
In answering your inquiry, I am not inclined to give a decided opinion in any case; for an opinion involves more responsibility than I am willing to take. Moreover, an opinion is of no force, as far as knowledge goes; and it might do a great deal of harm and mislead you to put a false construction on what I might say.
I always feel as though disease was an enemy that might be conquered, if rightly understood; but if you let your enemy know your thoughts, you give him the advantage. Therefore, I never give the sick any idea that should make them believe that I have any fears; nor will I reason with myself, for my reason is my guide. Making health the fixed object of my mind, I never parley or compromise. Once when your sister remarked that she never expected to be perfectly well, I replied that I never compromised with disease. And as she had been robbed of her health, I should not settle the case, except on condition of the return of her health and happiness. Here she stands.
I will now say a word or two, so you can see how I feel. When I really believe that I cannot destroy a disease, I always take the easiest possible way to induce the patient to return home of their own accord, with the idea that they will do just as well as if they stayed longer. This is my mode of dismissing my patients; and as I send away patients who I know will recover, the sick cannot see any partiality; and they all leave in good spirits.
When I feel as though a patient might get well, but for circumstances which they cannot control which bear on their mind, if I think by lessening their burdens and anxieties, I can effect the cure, that I do, in this way. When your sister came to me, I found her in a very nervous state, from the fact that she had lost her sister and expected soon to follow her. This made her very nervous and stimulated her to that degree that she appeared to be quite strong. As I relieved her fears, she became more quiet; this she took for weakness, but every change has come, just as I told her it would. Like all who are sick, she looks at the expense, and as I felt very anxious to help her, I was willing to take the responsibility upon myself of telling her that I would like to have her remain, and I would make no charge for my services, but would wait till the cure was performed. This would relieve her of calling on her friends for funds to pay me, and I find she feels happier and easier.
You will see that I have no interest in keeping your sister here, and as long as she remains, I shall take as good care of her as though she were my own child.