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Apoplectic Paralysis — Miss Ferrier - Dr Mac
kintosh Mackay — Scenes at Jedburgh and Selkirk — Castle Dangerous — Excursion to Douglasdale - Church of St Bride's, 8c. — Turner's Designs for the Poetry — Last Visits to Smailholm, Bemerside, Ettrick, &c.— Visit of Captain Burns — Mr Adolphus — and Mr Wordsworth _“Yarrow revisited," and Sonnet on the Eildons.
The next entry in the Diary is as follows:
“ From Saturday 16th April, to Sunday 24th of the same month, unpleasantly occupied by ill health and its consequences. A distinct stroke of paralysis affecting both my nerves and speech, though beginning only on Monday with a very bad cold. Doctor Abercrombie was brought out by the friendly care of Cadell, but young Clarkson had already done the needful, that is, had bled and blistered, and placed me on a very reduced diet. Whether precautions have been taken in time, I cannot tell. I think they have, though severe in themselves, beat the disease ; but I am alike prepared.”
The preceding paragraph has been deciphered with difficulty. The blow which it records was greatly more severe than any that had gone before it. Sir Walter's friend Lord Meadowbank had come to Abbotsford, as usual when on the Jedburgh circuit; and he would make an effort to receive the Judge in something of the old style of the place; he collected several of the neighbouring gentry to dinner, and tried to bear his wonted part in the conversation. Feeling his strength and spirits flagging, he was tempted to violate his physician's directions, and took two or three glasses of champaign, not having tasted wine for several months before. On retiring to his dressing-room he had this severe shock of apoplectic paralysis, and kept his bed under the surgeon's hands, for several days.
Shortly afterwards, his eldest son and his daughter Sophia arrived at Abbotsford. It may be supposed that they both would have been near him instantly, had that been possible; but, not to mention the dread of seeming to be alarmed about him, Major Scott's regiment was stationed in a very disturbed district, and his sister was still in a disabled state from the relics of a rheumatic fever. I followed her a week later, when we established ourselves at Chiefswood for the rest of the season. Charles Scott had some months before this time gone to Naples, as an attaché to the British Embassy there. During the next six months the Major was at Abbotsford every now and then—as often as circumstances could permit him to be absent from his Hussars.
DIARY — “ April 27, 1831.— They have cut me off from animal food and fermented liquors of every kind; and, thank God, I can fast with any one. I walked out and found the day delightful; the woods too looking charming, just bursting forth to the tune of the birds. I have been whistling on my wits like so many chickens, and cannot miss any of them. I feel on the whole better than I have yet done. I believe I have fined and recovered, and so may be thankful. — April 28, 29. Walter made his appearance here, well and stout, and completely recovered from his stomach complaints by abstinence. He has youth on his side; and I in age must submit to be a Lazarus. The medical men persist in recommending a seton. I am no friend to these remedies, and will be sure of the necessity before I yield consent. The dying like an Indian under tortures is no joke ; and as Commodore Trunnion says, I feel heart-whole as a biscuit. — April 30, May 1. Go on with Count Robert half a dozen leaves per day. I am not much behind with my hand-work. The task of pumping my brains becomes inevitably harder when
• Both chain pumps are choked below;'
and though this may not be the case literally, yet the apprehension is well-nigh as bad. — May 3. Sophia arrives — with all the children looking well and beautiful, except poor Johnnie, who looks pale. But it is no wonder, poor thing !-- May 4. I have a letter from Lockhart, promising to be down by next Wednesday. I shall be glad to see and consult with Lockhart. My pronunciation is a good deal improved. My time glides away ill employed, but I am afraid of the palsy. I should not like to be pinned to my chair. I believe even that kind of life is more endurable than we could suppose — yet the idea is terrible to a man who has been active. Your wishes are limited to your little circle. My own circle in bodily matters is narrowing daily ; not so in intellectual matters — but of that I am perhaps a worse judge. The plough is nearing the end of the furrow.
“ May 5.— A fleece of letters, which must be answered I suppose, — all from persons my zealous admirers of course, and expecting a degree of gene
rosity, which will put to rights all their maladies, physical and mental, and that I can make up whatever losses have been their lot, raise them to a desirable rank, and will stand their protector and patron. I must, they take it for granted, be astonished at having an address from a stranger; on the contrary, I would be astonished if any of these extravagant epistles came from any one who had the least title to enter into correspondence. — My son Walter takes leave of me to-day, to return to Sheffield. At his entreaty I have agreed to put in a seton, which they seem all to recommend. My own opinion is, this addition to my tortures will do me no good — but I cannot hold out against my son.
“ May 6, 7, 8.—Here is a precious job. I have a formal remonstrance from these critical people, Ballantyne and Cadell, against the last volume of Count Robert, which is within a sheet of being finished. I suspect their opinion will be found to coincide with that of the public; at least it is not very different from my own. The blow is a stunning one, I suppose, for I scarcely feel it. It is singular, but it comes with as little surprise as if I had a remedy ready; yet, God knows, I am at sea in the dark, and the vessel leaky, I think, into the bargain. I cannot conceive that I should have tied a knot with my tongue which my teeth cannot untie.