"A few weeks ago I had occasion for sixty dollars. I wrote to our friend Nordhoff to trouble himself with his wonted kindness to ask that an advance to that extent might be made me -- and you were so good as to direct that it should be done as I asked. Whereupon the check was forwarded.

"At the time I wrote Nordhoff, I told him that I should have several articles for him ready by Christmas Day. I as fully expected to fulfil my promise, to the letter. I had hardly made it however, before the nervous ailment, of which I am now, thank God, nearly cured, resulted in a congested state of the brain, which has lasted up to a week ago with continual pain and part of the time much danger. I was restricted by my physicians to the very slightest mental effort with which my affairs could be carried on -- reduced to the very minimum of letter-writing, even to nearest relatives. Brain fever -- or congestion of an active type was apprehended for me, and threats were made both by the doctors and the disease that I should never be able, very likely, to use my head (all necessary as it is to me) again, if I used it now.

"Let this account to yourself and my friend Nordhoff for the non-fulfilment of my engagement and my silence, heretofore, as to the reasons.

"I write so particularly all the facts of the case, because I am particularly anxious to have my integrity and good-faith stand well with you as a House -- with you as a man. I know no better time of the year than this, when we are all exchanging felicitations with each other, to speak of the light of most sincere friendship and respect in which I regard you. Long before I knew you I had been thrown somewhat among enemies of your firm. An especial clique there was (more sectarian than anything else) that never spoke of yourself and your co-partners to me otherwise than with strong hostility, and the consequence was, that until through the kindness of our friend Mr. Curtis I was introduced to you, I had never possessed any opportunity of coming unbiased to my own conclusions in regard to a set of men, upon whom it is necessary, for their great prominence in the world of Books and Commerce, to come to some conclusion of one kind or another. Permit me to express to you, my dear Sir, the sincere and very great pleasure with which I have in my own person been disproving every slander which ever came to my ears. As a simple rendition of justice between man and man, let me own to you how growing has been my feeling of warm personal regard to you for all the unusual generosity you have shown in the maintenance of all our relations. Unusual, I say, because it is indeed rare to find any appreciation of each other among men beyond the mere even balance of money-justice. To you, my dear Sir -- with pleasure I acknowledge it -- I owe almost every encouragement I have received in the progress thus far of a literary career. The debt is far from a heavy one to me. I love to assure you that I am conscious of it. I am but twenty-two years old now -- I have had somewhat of illness and of bad habits in stimulus-using to fight on my way up into a more successful and untiring career. The Water Cure and my will have utterly conquered my habits of stimulus -- not even tobacco do I trouble now -- and my health is fast becoming thoroughly resettled. Be assured that when I again return to hard work as an author, I shall recollect -- (I never forget such things) your kindness to a young writer, and will endeavor to prove more substantially the friendship of [signature]

SOURCE: Letter from Fitz Hugh Ludlow to Fletcher Harper, January 1859, see: The Ludlow Family Letters at this library.
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