網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

orders made it difficult or dangerous to be long seriously studious, or laboriously diligent. The love of case is always gaining upon age, and he had one temptation to petty amusements peculiar to himself; whatever he did, he was sure to hear applauded; and such was his predominance over all that approached, that all their applauses were probably sincere. He that is much flattered, soon learns to flatter himself: we are commonly taught our duty by fear or shame, and how can they act upon the man who hears nothing but his own praises?

As his years increased, his fits of gid. diness and deafness grew more frequent, and his deafness made conversation difficult; they grew likewise more severe, till in 1736, as he was writing a poem called The Legion Club, he was seized with a fit To painful, and fo long continued, that he never after thought it proper to attempt any work of thouglit or labour.

till

He was alway's careful of his money, and was therefore no liberal entertainer; but was less frugal of his wine than of his meat. When his friends of either sex came to him, in expectation of a dinner, his custom was to give every one a shilling, that they might please themselves with their provision. At last his avarice grew too powerful for his kindness; he would refuse a bottle of wine, and in Ireland no man visits where he cannot drink.

Having

Having thus excluded conversation, and desified from study, he had neither Business nor amufement; for having, by fome ridiculous resolution or mad vow, determined never to wear spectacles, he could make little use of books in his later years : his ideas, therefore, being neither renovated by discourse nor increased by reading, wore gradually away, and left his mind vacant to the vcxations of the hour, till at last his anger was heightened into madness.

He however permitted one book to be published, which had been the production of former years; Polite Conversation, which appeared in 1738. The Dircētions for Servants was printed soon after his death. These two performances

thew

shew a mind incessantly attentive, and, when it was not employed upon great things, busy with minute occurrences, It is apparent that he must have had the habit of noting whatever he observed ; for such a number of particulars could never have been assembled by the power of recollection.

He grew more violent; and his mental powers declined till (1741) it was found necessary that legal guardians fhould be appointed of his person and fortune. He now lost distinction. His madness was compounded of rage and fatuity. The last face that he knew was that of Mrs. Whiteway, and her he ceased to know in a little time. His ineat was brought him cut into mouth

fuls;

[ocr errors]

fuls; but he would never touch it while the servant staid, and at last, after it had stood perhaps an hour, would eat it walking; for he continued his old habit, and was on his feet ten hours a-day.

Next year (1742) he had an inflammation in his left eye, which swelled it to the size of an egg, with boils in other parts; he was kept long waking with the pain, and was not easily restrained by five attendants from tearing out his eye.

The tumour at last subsided; and a Thort interval of reason ensuing, in which he knew his physician and his family, gave hopes of his recovery; but in few days he sunk into lethargick stupidity, motionless, heedless, and speech

less.

« 上一頁繼續 »