Thomason College Press
4th October 1871
My dear Mother
I hope this finds you in good health and quite strong again as I am happy to say it leaves all here.
Since I last wrote to you I have had a good deal of sickness in the house. Letty was very bad with that Neuralgia in the face and head and the doctors could give her no relief; all the remedies that were effectual before were of no use this time, they only seemed to irritate it the more. At length she was ordered off to Simla (the hills, the Governor General lives on), a great distance off, but it did her no good, but only made her worse. The doctors said it was the worst place she could have been sent to, poor girl. She felt herself going fast and I was telegraphed for, and when I got there and saw her, I never thought she would ever see home again. From the moment she saw me she seemed to rally and slowly got a little stronger and as soon as she was able to be removed I brought her home by short stages and as I before said, she is quite well again.
My niece Ann (Editor’s Note: Ann Paterson Hume, my great great grandmother) is at Umballah (Editor’s Note: now known as Ambala) a large station close to this. She had just arrived before Letty went up the hill, and when we stayed at the hotel, I went over and found her out and brought her over. She was (sic) much pleasure to see her Uncle Jamie she told me; she had often said to you that she would see me yet. When I brought Letty back from the hills I took Ann to see my place and she stayed a month with me. I saw her husband (Editor’s Note: Joseph Hume, my great great grandfather who was serving with the 72nd Highlanders) and told him he ought to try and get a situation out of the Barrack Room as there are always (positions) to be had for men that are willing to push themselves on. Besides, the Barracks are no place to bring up a family; it is all very good for single men but when a man marries he ought to think he has more to look to than he had before. If he does not look to his own comfort he should look to theirs (his family), but I don’t think he has any ambitions above Barrack Life.
It is all very good to look at me and say ” I’ve been lucky”, but if I had not worked hard and well, I would never have been where I am. It is 18 years on Saturday last since I landed in India and I can look back with pleasure and say I have always tried to do my duty and it has been appreciated too, for every year my name has been much in the good as one that is deserving of favourable notice. I mention the above not to blow my own trumpet, but to show that they might aspire to something greater than they are. There are many opportunities for a man to get on, and it is his own fault if he does not do so.
I sent you by last mail a copy of the College Calendar. You see by the report at the end that they have no worse opinion of me than they had before. I sent one to Aunt Agnes too.
Mr Boyd (Editor’s Note: James Johnston’s mother’s employer Mr Thos Jamieson Boyd, master Publisher residing at 11 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh) wrote and told me what he had done for you and asked me to do the same. I would have done so before now but I was taken short with the expense I was put to with Letty going up the hill, that it made it impossible at the time, but I hope to send you something shortly. I was very thankful to Mr Boyd for his kindness and please tell him so when you see him. He wrote me a very kind letter and said he was quite pleased to see me getting on so well.
I am sorry to see an account of the death of Mr Johnston (Editor’s Note: an Edinburgh clergyman), poor man, many a good advice I’ve got from him and I’ve often thought how glad he would have been to see me if I went home.
Ann (Editor’s Note: Ann Paterson Hume) gave me a large photograph of him which I prize very much.
Letty joins me in sending our love to you, hoping to hear from you soon.
I am your affectionate son