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arranged it the next morning, I found he had improved the commencement. I put the papers together, and kept them away from him.
His shortness of breath seemed now to recur at more frequent intervals. The doctor prescribed, as an experiment-what had also been suggested by Holmes, on his late visit "Jonas Whitcomb's Remedy for Asthma," a tea-spoonful in a wine-glass of water, to be taken every four hours. A good night was the result.
February 3d.-Went to bed at half past ten, apparently calm. At eleven had a severe attack of coughing, which lasted an hour, and left him excessively nervous. Hearing his indistinct moans, I asked if anything distressed him. "Yes; this harassed feeling-these long, long, long hours till morning." Tried to read in Miss Pardoe's "Court of Louis XIV.” Would explode upon the baseness, the despicable meanness of the French monarch. More and more nervous as morning approached.
The next day looked very haggard. Fell into a doze about midnight, which continued half an hour. Slept again until half past two, when he awoke with a strange feeling of faintness at the stomach, as if he were dying. Said to me he was just dying, when he awoke, stretched forth his hand, and took a sip of some liquid, which revived him. "I would have been gone in another minute."
For two or three days this excessive nervousness continued. He told me I must bear with him-we must all
bear with him; his state was a deplorable one, and sometimes he knew he must appear like a child. Read aloud to us as if to escape from himself-some scenes in "As You Like It." Told anecdote of Kemble, in his personation of Jaques, embodying in the part the passage descriptive of his moralizing about the deer. Nothing could be more affecting than his struggles against this overmastering nervousness; it was so new to him, so opposed to his healthy and heroic nature-to the whole character of his past life-that it seemed impossible for him to yield to its dominion.
February 7th.-A better day. Was speaking with admiration of the Yacht Voyage-"Letters from High Latitudes," by Lord Dufferin, which he had finished a few days before. Wished he had another book to read by the same author-such a fine spirit in it. Felt still more interest in it now that he knew the author to be the son of Mrs. Norton. * Then spoke of her captivating beauty, when he first saw her at the house of some lady of quality on his return from Spain to London, in 1829.
Mr. and Mrs. H
and Mrs. S-call between one
and two. Very pleasant and like himself.
February 14th.-The doctor, on coming up, thought him better than he had been since he was first taken with this nervous excitability. Assured me he had no
* He was in fact, I believe, the nephew.-ED.
fears of softening of the brain, and hoped to date his continued amendmend from that day.
The next day continued better. Remarked in the morning, he was so well he was almost frightened; afraid it was a weather breeder. Slept in an upright position on the sofa, after tea, a couple of hours, but no rest after he retired. In the morning was sad, and out of spirits at the "wearing, wearing, wearing" night he had spent. Quite discouraged, though his asthmatic symptoms had very much abated of late, and his catarrh disappeared.
About two hundred pages of his fifth volume of the "Life of Washington" were now printed. He wrote a few lines relative to the composition of the "Farewell Address "the only time he had touched it since it went to press, with the exception of some passages in the character of Washington.
February 27th.--Notwithstanding his improvement in other respects, his restless nights continued, his "poor fluttering nerves," as he expressed it, scarcely allowing him any quiet. Could hardly summon resolution to go, at night, to his "haunted chamber," as he termed his sleeping apartment, from the brooding phantoms that, like Poe's Raven, seemed perched above the door. When I entered it at eleven, to take my station on a sofa for the night, I found he was shunning his bed, and pacing up and down the room with great restlessness. He begged me not to leave the room, but to "stick by " him; it was a great comfort to know I was there.
The next day I took to the city two of the last four chapters of his "Life of Washington." On my return to the cottage, at five P. M., accompanied by the doctor, I found that he had been engaged for two or three hours in the morning on his last chapters. Wished to retain them, to redress the concluding portion. Had a very comfortable day.
March 9th.-Seemed to have been losing ground for the last few days. Still held on to the last chapter of "Washington," though the printers were nearly up to it. On the 15th, he put the finishing touch to it. The next day was sadly out of spirits. Had had difficult respiration much more frequently of late; within the last day or two, almost constantly.
March 17th.-Asked me if the last chapter of the "Life of Washington" was printed last night. "Yes." "Well, I never got out a work in this style before, without looking at the proof-sheets. In better health, I could have given more effect to parts; but I was afraid to look at the proofs, lest I should get muddling." That afternoon drove up to Mr. Bartlett's, to leave with Mrs. B., in compliance with her previous request, the pen with which he wrote the last words of his "Life of Washington."
March 18th.-I returned from the city at five, accompanied by the doctor. Learned that Mr. Irving had had more than usual of coughing and labored breathing. Told the doctor, on his leaving, at seven o'clock, that he was quite discouraged; that he did not see that he was
getting any better, and did not know where this was to end. It was the first time he had spoken with such discouragement to the doctor. His presence had generally a cheering influence, and we always remarked that he appeared better when he was with him than at any other time, and often made too light of his symptoms. The doctor seemed a little taken aback by his desponding tone. Had three hours of sleep on the sofa before going to bed, and about three hours afterward, with transient intermissions of wakefulness.
March 20th. Slept from half past three to four P.M., on the sofa, when a neighbor called. Great difficulty of breathing when he left, which continued, with spells of coughing, until bed-time.
March 23d.-Received a newspaper from Lewisburg, Pa., containing notice of the death of a Mrs. Chamberlain, aged ninety, formerly of New York, and a friend and correspondent of his sister Anne, who had died in 1808. The sister was alluded to in flattering terms. Mr. Irving broke forth in warm eulogy of her wit, sensibility, and humor-" delightful in every mood." "I was very meagre, when a child, and she used to call me a little rack of bones. How fond I was of having her sing to me, when an infant, that pathetic ballad of Lowe
'The moon had climbed the highest hill
That rises o'er the source of Dee.'
How it used to make me weep, and yet I was constantly