The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
THE PASSING OF MERLIN

THINGS are not improved,' wrote Emily on September 26th, 'except that he has not the pain in the jaw. The sickness and weakness and depression continue.' On September 28th Sir Andrew Clark and Dr Dabbs, his physician from the Isle of Wight, were summoned to Aldworth. They diagnosed 'a gouty attack of some severity'. On September 30th, Tennyson found it hard to swallow or speak, his throat was extremely sore, he had a high fever and pulse, and on Sunday, October 2nd, the doctors' solicitude 'deepened into fixed anxiety'. 'Dr Dabbs has been most kind,' wrote Emily to her sister on October 3rd. 'He has been with us six nights, he stayed all day yesterday, and is coming again this evening and we have two nurses. He has milk and brandy and such things every two hours day and night.' By October 4th, remembered Dabbs, 'the evidence was almost overwhelming as to the issue which we had to face.'

That day, recorded Hallam's wife,

11 o'clock reporters came up and a telegram from the Queen and Princess Louise. Very bad till 3; restless and excited, took sulphonal at 9. His temperature went down to 97.6 in the night then revived. He asked if his books had come ( H. thinks his proof books) as they ought to have he said and H. said yes they arrived yesterday. H. kissed his hand and he said Sir Andrew did that ... He asked for his Shakespeare again in the night and was not happy till he had it on his bed ... H. asked him in the early morning if he felt calm and he said quite but I shan't get better.

Sir Andrew Clark returned next morning.

1.55. Drank some milk and brandy 1/2 tumbler by degrees. Again asked for his Shakespeare during the morning and lies with his hand resting on it open, he having opened it and

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