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me soon of my senses, I request you will, on the receipt of this note, come to me, and act for me as the exigences of my case may require. I am, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
LETTER 437. TO THE REV. DR. JOHN TAYLOR.
“June 17, 1788. “ DEAR SIR, -It has pleased God, by a paralytic stroke in the night, to deprive me of speech. I am very desirous of Dr. Heberden's assistance, as I think my case is not past remedy. Let me see you as soon as it is possible. Bring Dr. Heberden with you, if you can; but come yourself at all events. I am glad you are so well when I am so dreadfully attacked.
“I think that by a speedy application of stimulants much may be done. I question if a vomit, vigorous and rough, would not rouse the organs of speech to action. As it is too early to send, I will try to recollect what I can that can be suspected to have brought on this dreadful distress.
“I have been accustomed to bleed frequently for an asthmatic complaint; but have forborne for some time by Dr. Pepys's persuasion, who perceived my legs beginning to swell. I sometimes alleviate a painful, or, more properly, an oppressive constriction of my chest, by opiates; and have lately taken opium frequently; but the last, or two last times, in smaller quantities. My largest dose is three grains, and last night I took but two. You will suggest these things (and they are all that I can call to mind) to Dr. Heberden. I am, &c.
“ Sam. Johnson."
Two days after he wrote thus to Mrs. Tbrale :'
“ On Monday, the 16th, I sat for my picture, and walked a considerable way with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed, and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom, when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted, I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God, that however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding. This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in Latin verse. The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be very good: I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired in my faculties.
“Soon after I perceived that I had suffered a paralytic stroke, and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy, and considered that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would excite less horror than seems now to attend it.
“In order to rouse the vocal organs, I took two drams. Wine has been
i Vol. II. p. 268, of Mrs. Thrale's Collection.
celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself in violent motion, and I think repeated it; but all was in vain. I then went to bed; and, strange as it may seem, I think slept. When I saw light, it was time to contrive what I should do. Though God stopped my speech, he left me my hand : I enjoyed a mercy which was not granted to my dear friend Lawrence, who now perhaps overlooks me as I am writing, and rejoices that I have what he wanted. My first note was necessarily to my servant, who came in talking, and could not immediately comprehend why he should read what I put into his hands.
“I then wrote a card to Mr. Allen, that I might have a discreet friend at and, to act as occasion should require. In penning this note I had some difficulty ; my hand, I knew not how or why, made wrong letters. I then wrote to Dr. Taylor to come to me, and bring Dr. Heberden; and I sent to Dr. Brocklesby, who is my neighbour. My physicians are very friendly, and give me great hopes; but you may imagine my situation. I have so far recovered my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer with no imperfect articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was ; but such an attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty."
"June 18, 1788. “Dear Sir,-I have had, indeed, a very heavy blow; but God, who yet spares my life, I humbly hope will spare my understanding and restore my speech. As I am not at all helpless, I want no particular assistance, but am strongly affected by Mrs. Davies's tenderness; and when I think she can do me good, shall be very glad to call upon her. had ordered friends to be shut out; but one or two have found the way in; and if you come you shall be admitted; for I know not whom I can see that will bring more amusement on his tongue, or more kindness in his heart. I am, &c.
“ SAM. Johnson."
It gives me great pleasure to preserve such a memorial of Johnson's regard for Mr. Davies, to whom I was indebted for my introduction to him.' He indeed loved Davies cordially, of which I shall give the following little evidence :-One day when he had treated him with too much asperity, Tom, who was not without pride and spirit, went off in a passion ; but he had hardly reached home, when Frank, who had been sent after him, delivered this note: “Come, come, dear Davies, I am always sorry when we quarrel ; send me word that we are friends."
1 Poor Derrick, however, though he did not himself introduce me to Dr. Johnson as he pro. mised, had the merit of introducing me to Davies, the immediate introducer.
“ London, July 3, 1783. “Dear Sir,-Your anxiety about my health is very friendly and very agreeable with your general kindness. I have indeed had a very frightful blow. On the 17th of last month, about three in the morning, as near as I can guess, I perceived myself almost totally deprived of speech. I had no pain. My organs were obstructed that I could say no, but could scarcely say yes.
I wrote the necessary directions, for it pleased God to spare my hand, and sent for Dr. Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby. Between the time in which I discovered my own disorder, and that in which I sent for the doctors, I had, I believe, in spite of my surprise and solicitude, a little sleep, and nature began to renew its operations. They came and gave the directions which the disease required, and from that time I have been continually improving in articulation. I can now speak; but the nerves are weak, and I cannot continue discourse long; but strength, I hope, will return. The physicians consider me as cured. I was last Sunday at church. On Tuesday, I took an airing to Hampstead, and dined with the Club, where Lord Palmerston was proposed, and, against my opinion, was rejected.' I designed to go next week with Mr. Langton to Rochester, where I purpose to stay about ten days, and then try some other air. I have many kind invitations. Your brother has very frequently inquired after me.
Most of my friends have, indeed, been very attentive. Thank dear Lord Hailes for his present.
“I hope you found at your return everything gay and prosperous, and your lady, in particular, quite recovered and confirmed. Pay her my respects. I am, dear Sir, &c.
“London, July 5, 1783. “Dear Madam,—The account which you give of your health is but melancholy. May it please God to restore you. My disease affected my speech, and still continues, in some degree, to obstruct my utterance; my voice is distinct enough for a while, but the organs being still weak are quickly weary; but in other respects I am, I think, rather better than I have lately been, and can let you know my state without the help of any other hand. In the opinion of my friends, and in my own, I am gradually mending. The physicians consider me as cured, and I had leave four days ago to wash the cantharides from my head. Last Tuesday I dined at the Club.
“I am going next week into Kent, and purpose to change the air frequently this summer: whether I shall wander so far as Staffordshire I cannot tell. I should be glad to come. Return my thanks to Mrs. Cobb, and Mr. Pearson,"
· His lordship was soon after chosen, and is now, a member of the Club.
The Rev. Mr. Pearson, to whom Mrs. Lucy Porter bequeathed the greater part of her property.-M.
and all that have shown attention to me. Let us, my dear, pray for one another, and consider our sufferings as notices mercifully given us to prepare ourselves for another state.
“I live now but in a melancholy way. My old friend Mr. Levett is dead, who lived with me in the house, and was useful and companionable; Mrs. Desmoulins is gone away; and Mrs. Williams is so much decayed, that she can add little to another's gratifications. The world pa away, and we are passing with it; but there is, doubtless, another world, which will endure for ever. Let us all fit ourselves for it. I am, &c.
Such was the general vigour of his constitution, that he recovered from this alarming and severe attack with wonderful quickness ; so that in July he was able to make a visit to Mr. Langton at Rochester, where he passed about a fortnight, and made little excursions as easily as at any time of his life.'
1 In his letters to Mrs. Thrale we find the following melancholy paragraphs :
“ Aug. 13.-I am now broken with disease, without the alleviation of familiar friendship or domestic society ; I have no middle state between clamour and silence, between general conversation and self-tormenting solitude. Levett is dead, and poor Williams is making haste to die: I know not if she will ever come out of her chamber.”
Aug 20.—This has been a day of great emotion : the office of the communion for the sick has been performed in poor Mrs. Williams's chamber. At home I see almost all my companions dead or dying. At Oxford I have just left Wheeler, the man with whom I most delighted to converse. The sense of my own diseases, and the sight of the world sinking round me, oppress me perhaps too much. I hope that all these admonitions will not be vain, and that I shall learn to die as dear Williams is dying, who was very cheerful before and after this awful solemnity, and seems to resign herself with calmness and hope upon eternal mercy. I read your last kind letter with great delight; but when I came to love and honour, what sprung in my mind ?—'How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not.'-I sat to Mrs. Reynolds yesterday for my picture, perhaps the tenth time; and I sat for three hours with the patience of mortal born to bear."
Aug. 26.—Mrs. Williams fancies now and then that she grows better, but her vital powers appear to be slowly burning out. Nobody thinks, however, that she will very soon be quite wasted; and as she suffers me to be of very little use to her, I have determined to pass some time with Mr. Bowles, near Salisbury, and have taken a place for Thursday. Some benefit may be perhaps received from change of air, some from change of company, and some from mere change of place. It is not easy to grow well in a chamber where one has long been sick, and where every thing seen, and every person speaking, revives and impresses images of pain. Though it be true that no man can run away from himself, yet he may escape from many causes of useless uneasiness. That the mind is its own place is the boast of a fallen angel that had learned to lie. External locality has great effects, at least upon all embodied beings. I hope this little journey will afford me at least some suspense of melancholy."-M.
Death of Mrs. Williams—Conversation-French Literature-Dr. Priestley-Candour-Mr.
Siddons-Mrs. Porter-Kitty Clive-Mrs. Pritchard-John Philip Kemble-George Anne Bellamy-Lord Carlisle's Tragedy-Unconstitutional Influence of the Scotch Peers-old Horses-Mickle's "Lusiad "-Ossian-Rules for the Essex Head Club.
In August he went as far as the neighbourhood of Salisbury, to Heale, the seat of William Bowles, Esq., a gentleman whom I have heard him praise for exemplary religious order in his family. In his diary I find a short but honourable mention of this visit :-“ August 28, I came to Heale without fatigue. 30, I am entertained quite to
“Heale, near Salisbury, Aug. 29, 1788. “DEAR SIR,— Without appearing to want a just sense of your kind attention, I cannot omit to give an account of the day which seemed to appear in some sort perilous. I rose at five, and went out at six; and having reached Salisbury about nine, went forward a few miles in my friend's chariot. I was no more wearied with the journey, though it was a high-hung, rough coach, than I should have been forty years ago. We shall now see what air will do. The country is all a plain; and the house in which I am, so far as I can judge from my window, for I write before I have left my chamber, is sufficiently pleasant.
"Be so kind as to continue your attention to Mrs. Williams. It is great consolation to the well, and still greater to the sick, that they find themselves not neglected; and I know that you will be desirous of giving comfort, even where you have no great hope of giving help.
“Since I wrote the former part of the letter, I find that by the course of the post I cannot send it before the thirty-first. I am, &c.
While he was here, he had a letter from Dr. Brocklesby, acquainting him of the death of Mrs. Williams, which affected him a good deal. Though for several years her temper had not been