Rome – Venice – Art Criticism – Collapse on the Rhine – London -
Crowds of Spectators – Departure for Scotland – Exhaustion at
Abbotsford – Death
and soon lost the strong deep tone for which in better years, it was so remarkable. His limb, too, shrunk more and more under him, and his beloved walks soon became more contracted and fatiguing. Occasional severe strokes of paralysis gradually undermined his powerful constitution, and gave melancholy forebodings to his family that the pitcher was soon indeed to be ‘broken at the fountain’.1 He would still, however, struggle manfully against affliction, and his cheerful, bland temper never for a moment forsook him. I have the sorrowing testimonials of many of those who surrounded him to the last, and they concur in their expressions of admiration of his powers of benign endurance, even when most afflicted. He continued sanguine in his hopes of recovery, only for the sake of his family, and redeeming his name from the heavy responsibility under which it had fallen. ‘Time and I against any two’ was his cheerful proverb, and it was not until the last that spirits failed him.
As the winter of 1831 approached, it became evident to his medical attendants and family that, unless he could be removed to a warmer climate, the inclement air of the North might prove too strong for his exhausted frame. Close confinement he could not brook, and to attempt anything like his usual recreation out of doors, might be attended with dangerous results. For a long time, he withstood the tender solicitations of his own children, and the anxious wishes of his medical advisers. He evidently feared to die in a foreign land, far from those beloved scenes which seemed to link his nature
1. ‘Remember now thy Creator […] Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. / Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it’ (Ecc. 12: 1, 6–7).