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earnestly entreat you to consider ; for I am very desirous that he should derive some advantage from my connection with him. If you are inclined to see him, I will bring him to wait on you at any time that you shall be pleased to appoint. I am, Sir, &c.,
My anxious apprehensions at parting with him this year proved to be but too well founded ; for not long afterwards he had a dreadful stroke of the palsy, of which there are very full and accurate accounts in letters written by himself, to show with what composure of mind and resignation to the Divine will his steady piety enabled him to behave.
TO MR. EDMUND ALLEN.
“ June 17, 1783. “It has pleased God this morning to deprive me of the powers of speech; and as I do not know but that it may be his further good pleasure to deprive me soon of my senses, I request you will, on the receipt of this note, come to me, and act for me as the exigencies of my case may require. I am, &c.,
TO THE REVEREND DR. JOHN TAYLOR.
“ June 17, 1783. “ 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.,
Two days after he wrote thus to Mrs. Thrale:-?
“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 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 band : 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 dis
i Vol. ij., p. 268 of Mrs. Thrale's collection.
creet friend at hand 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.”
TO MR. THOMAS DAVIES.
“ June 18, 1783. “ Dear Sie,
“I have bad, 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. I 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.,
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 promised, bad the merit of introducing me to Davies, the immediate introducer.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“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 so 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 every thing gay and prosperous, and your lady, in particular, quite recovered and confirmed. Pay her my respects. I am, dear Sir, your most humble servant,
1 His lordship was soon after chosen, and is now a member of the Club.
He was elected Feb. 10, 1784.—Editor.
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER IN LICHFIELD.
“ 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 re. spects 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, 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 passes 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.,
" Sam. JOHNSON.”
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 The Reverend Mr. Pearson, to whom Mrs. Lucy Porter bequeathed the greater part of her property.-Malone.