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INTRODUCTION. - Harriet Martineau, Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, vol. 2 and Memorials of Harriet Martineau 
Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography and Memorials of Harriet Martineau, ed. Maria Weston Chapman (Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1877). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
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It was about the New Year’s time of 1855, being then resident in Paris, that I wrote to my most valued friend, Harriet Martineau, expressing the natural feelings of the season, and the hope that she would soon visit me. Knowing that she had been even more than commonly occupied, and not in her usual health, I entreated her to spare herself the fatigue of writing to me, unless she had more leisure at command than I supposed. A few days brought me the following letter: —
London, January 24th.
My dear Friend, —
You are generous in desiring me not to write to you if too busy. I need not say that keeping up my friendship with you is more important than any business, and dearer than most pleasures. I must tell you now why I have not written before; and I wish I could spare you, by the way of telling, any of the pain which I must give you. The last half-year has been the gravest, perhaps, that I have ever known. I think I told you of the sad cholera season when I was at Sydenham, and some of the best people at work among us died, and others were sick, and I had their work to do while ill myself, and sore at heart for the world’s loss in them. Two months later died my very dear friend, the editor of the “Daily News,”* — cut off by a fever at the age of forty, — a man whose place cannot possibly be filled. Since Dr. Follen’s death, I have not had such a personal sorrow; but in sight of his devoted wife and his four children, and the gap made in our public action by his loss, I could not dwell on my own sorrow. And now it turns out that I need not; for I am going to follow him. My dear friend, you are a brave woman, and you have shown that you can serenely part with comrades and friends, and work on for the cause; and you must do the same again. I will try to work with you for such time as I remain; but I am mortally ill, and there is no saying for how long this may be. For many months past I have had symptoms of what now turns out to be organic disease of the heart; — symptoms occasioning so little trouble (no pain), that I did not attend sufficiently to them. Nothing could have been done if I had. The anxiety and fatigue of the autumn increased the ailment, and for a month past, and from week to week, it has become so much worse that I put myself under the charge of Dr. Latham, the first man for heart-complaints. After a little correspondence, we met yesterday. He made a long examination by auscultation, and did not attempt to conceal the nature and extent of the mischief. He made me observe that he gave me his impression, — reserving a positive opinion till he should have watched the case; but the impression was one which he would not have communicated if he had not been very sure of his ground. From his being unable to feel the pulsation of the heart in any direction, while it is audible over a large surface, he believes that the organ is extremely feeble in structure, — “too weak for its work,” — and very greatly enlarged. The treatment prescribed only shows the desperation of the case. We do not yet know when I may return home, — I wish to be there for the latter period, — which may be a long one for aught I know, but I think not, from the great progress the case has made within a month. If I should be living when you are in England, I am sure you will come and see me: you will meet me if I am alive, and we can manage it. If not, my beloved friend, take my blessing on yourself and your labors, and my assurance that my knowledge of you has been one of the greatest privileges and pleasures of my life.
This is not the answer you are looking for to your charming invitation; but such is life, and such a marplot is death! I think you can hardly want much information as to my state of feeling. My life has been a full and vivid one, — so that I consider myself a very old woman indeed, and am abundantly satisfied with my share in the universe (even if that were of any real consequence). I have not the slightest anxiety about dying, — not the slightest reluctance to it. I enjoy looking on, and seeing our world under the operation of a law of progress; and I really do not feel that my dropping out of it, now or a few years hence, is a matter worth drawing attention to at all, — my own or another’s. Your friend’s book arrived safe, — you must have it again, dear friend. Your name is on it, and it shall return to you. I have, as yet, only looked at it. When I go home, I will see whether or not I can read it, and serve it by notice. I hope to work to the last in the “Daily News,” which is easy work, and the most important possible; and now the more so because the present editor is more up to American subjects than any Englishman I have met with. It is really a substantial comfort to find how sound and enlightened and heartily conscientious he is about the vices of Yankeedom and the merits of your true patriots.
And now, dear friend, farewell, at least for the present. If you wish to write, do so. But I do not ask it, because I desire that you should do what is most congenial to your own feelings. If you do write, address to Ambleside, for I cannot at all tell how long I must remain here, and your letters will be constantly forwarded.
My love to your daughters and your sisters, and best wishes to your son-in-law.
I am, while I live,