« ForrigeFortsett »
health and spirits: he was all himself, active and animated, and disposed to give free scope to his admirable colloquial powers. During two or three days of this week he exerted him-. self very greatly by taking several long circuitous walks in quest of a house, which he was almost impatiently solicitous to procure.
I have no doubt that he injured himself very much by these inordinate exertions; for though he was gifted by nature with a frame capable of enduring rapid and long-continued efforts, yet the tedious and close confinement from which he was just released, must, I think, have induced a change in his system, which rendered it almost essential to the continuance of his health, that he should gradually revert to his former habits of personal activity. It appears to me highly probable that his suddenly passing from a state of long continued restraint and inaction to the opposite extreme, was the principal source of that fever which so quickly succeeded his unusual exertions; exertions, which in any circumstances he could scarcely have made with impunity, and the injurious influence of which was greatly strengthened by the heat of the weather.
On the morning of August 30th, it was mentioned to me that he was a good deal indisposed; I therefore went to see him. I found him in
the midst of his family, with the Princeps editio of Homer open before him. He was af fected with all the symptoms of the early period of fever. With the utmost readiness, he immediately complied with my suggestion of the propriety of his relinquishing, for the present, his customary occupations, and submitting to medical treatment, expressing, in his usual energetic way, that it was a maxim with him most scrupulously to conform to the directions of his medical friends, when he had recourse to their advice.
The next day, I saw him again: he was still very feverish, but there was no considerable aggravation of the symptoms. However, as it appeared to me that a feverish condition of the system was so far established, as to render his speedy restoration to health highly improbable, I strongly recommended that I might be allowed to request Dr. Lister to see him: accordingly the following morning (Tuesday) he was visited by Dr. Lister.
During the three succeeding days there was no such alteration of the symptoms as indicated any peculiar degree of danger. Some increase of fever, however, ensued, and his strength became impaired, but he was perfectly calm, and yielded implicit submission to the medical directions. He conversed with
his family, and those who were admitted to him, with perfect tranquillity and self possession. I shall never forget the strength and vividness with which he used to describe his uncomfortable and depraved sensations.
As I did not, much to my regret, take down in writing any notes of his conversation and manners during his illness, and whilst fresh in my memory, I cannot recall any particulars with such distinctness as will enable me to communicate them in detail. I can therefore only state generally that, notwithstanding his bodily powers were enfeebled and disordered, yet his conversation was frequently characterised by the warmth of expression, the happiness and variety of metaphor, the ready and endless choice of classical and scriptural allusion and quotation, for which, when in health and spirits, he was so peculiarly distinguished.
Towards the end of this week his fever gained ground considerably, so as to affect his head and disturb his reason; indeed, for some time, he was highly, and almost incontroulably, delirious; and whilst under the influence of delirium, his mind was impressed with an immovable assurance that he could not recover. This delirious impression operated most injuriously, for, under the conviction, that where
the issue was so certain the attempt to prevent it was folly, it led him resolutely to reject the use of medical assistance. In this restless state he continued nearly the whole of Saturday, talking and arguing almost incessantly, and often vehemently, on the preposterous extravagance of endeavouring to counteract the fatal tendency of his disorder. At night he fell into a short sleep, from which he awoke free from delirium, and perfectly composed, and he immediately consented to take his medicines, and submit to an application which he had lately most strenuously resisted.
After this he had no violent return of delirium, nor do I recollect bis using any expression from which it might be inferred that he considered death as inevitable. Once, indeed, after this, I remember he talked with me on the weakness and absurdity of those prejudices which too frequently prevent medical men from ascertaining by actual examination the cause and seat of disease; and he strongly expressed his desire that, if he did not recover, his own remains should be examined in any way his medical attendants might wish.
I think it was on Sunday evening that Dr. Wm. Hamilton first saw him, together with those who already attended him.
had increased a good deal, and in other respects he had become worse, but by no means to such a degree as to destroy the hope of recovery. This night was passed without much restlessness, but it was in a state approaching to stupor.
On Monday morning he seemed very much relieved; the stupor was for a short time removed; he took some nourishment with much satisfaction and apparent refreshment. The pulp of some ripe grapes he took with peculiar pleasure and relish; he looked around him, and recognised with expressions of regard the friends who were standing by his bedside. Upon Mrs. Wakefield, who was close to him, he fixed his eyes with a look of tenderness, a smile of delight, which I shall never forget. So favourable was the change that our hopes began to revive that his life might still be spared: but the prospect soon darkened again.
From this time he continued tolerably still and composed, but the symptoms of fever suffered no abatement: on the contrary, thé derangement of the functions was evidently increasing, and the powers of life were every hour becoming weaker. He spoke but little; occasionally, however, he expressed his wants, and answered questions collectedly and distinctly.