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LETTER XLIX. To the same.
Bolt-court, Fleet-street, DEAR MADAM,
June 19, 1783. I Am sitting down in no cheerful solitude to write a narrative which would once have affected you with tenderness and sorrow, but which you will perhaps pass over now with a careless glance of frigid indifference. For this diminution of regard however, I know not whether I ought to blame you, who may have reasons which I cannot know, and I do not blame myself, who have for a great part of human life done you what good I could, and have never done you
evil. I had been disordered in the usual way, and had been relieved by the usual methods, by opium and catharticks, but had rather lessened my dose of opium.
On Monday the 16th I sat for my picture, and walked a considerable way with little inconveni- . ence. 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
fa. culties, 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 paralytick 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 horrour than seems now to attend it.
In order to rouse the vocal organs I took two drams. Wine has been celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself into violent motion, and I think repeated it; but all was 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 hand to act as occasion should require.
In penning this note I had some difficulty ; my hand, I knew not how nor 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 very disinterested, 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 very imperfect articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was ; but such an attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty.
How this will be received by you I know not. I hope you will sympathize with me ; but perhaps
My mistress gracious, mild, and good,
But can this be possible? I hope it cannot. I hope that what, when I could speak, I spoke of you, and to you, will be in a sober and serious hour remembered by you ; and surely it cannot be remembered but with some degree of kindness. I have loved you with virtuous affection; I have honoured you with sincere esteem. Let not all our endearments be forgotten, but let me have in this great distress your pity and your prayers. You see I yet turn to you with my complaints, as a settled and unalienable friend; do not, do not drive me from you,
for I have not deserved either neglect or hatred.
To the girls, who do not write often, for Susy has written only once, and Miss Thrale owes me a letter, I earnestly recommend, as their guardian and friend, that they remember their Creator in the days of their youth. I
suppose you may wish to know how my disease is treated by the physicians. They put a blister upon my back, and two from my ear to my throat, one on a side. The blister on the back has done little, and those on the throat have not
risen. I bullied and bounced, it sticks to our last sand,) and compelled the apothecary to make his salve according to the Edinburgh Dispensatory, that it might adhere better. I have two on now of my own prescription. They likewise give me salt of hartshorn, which I take with no great confidence, but I am satisfied that what can be done is done for me.
O God! give me comfort and confidence in Thee: forgive my sins; and, if it be thy good pleasure, relieve my diseases for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
I am almost ashamed of this querulous letter, but now it is written, let it
go. I am, &c.
LETTER L. To Mrs. Thrale.
Among those that have inquired after me, Sir Philip is one; and Dr. Burney was one of those who came to see me.
I have had no reason to complain of indifference or neglect. Dick Burney is come home five inches taller.
Yesterday in the evening I went to church, and have been to-day to see the great burning glass, which does more than was ever done before by the transmission of the rays, but is not equal in power to those which reflect them. It wastes a diamond placed in the focus, but causes no diminution of pure gold. Of the rubies exposed to its action, one was made more vivid, the other paler. To see the glass, I climbed up stairs to the garret, and then up a ladder to the leads, and
talked to the artist rather too long; for though clearand distinct for a little while, soon tires and falters. The organs of speech areyet very feeble, but will I hope be by the mercy of God finally restored : at present, like any other weak limb, they can endure but little labour at once. not have been very sorry for me when I could scarcely speak ?
Fresh cantharides were this morning applied to my head, and are to be continued some time longer. If they play me no treacherous tricks, they give me very little pain.
Let me have your kindness and your prayers; and think on me, as on a man who, for a very great portion of your life, has done you all the good he could, and desires still to be considered, madam, your, &c.
LETTER LI. To the same. DEAREST MADAM,
London, July 1, 1783. This morning I took the air by a ride to Hampstead, and this afternoon I dined with the club. But fresh cantharides were this day applied to
Mr. Cator called on me to-day, and told that he had invited you back to Streatham. I showed the unfitness of your return thither, till the neigh. bourhood should have lost its habits of depredation, and he seemed to be satisfied. He invited me very kindly and cordially to try the air of Beckenham, and pleased me very much by his affectionate attention to Miss Vezy. There is much good in his character, and much usefulness in his knowledge.