THE LATE DUKE OF RICHMOND.
(Particulars of his illness and death through Hydrophobia.)
The Duke, Colonel COCKBURN, and myself, left Kingston on the morning
of the 20th, and travelling some times in wagons and some times on horseback,
and the last three or four miles on foot, arrived at nine in the evening at the
Stonemills, thirty miles from Kingston. He dined at a farm-house on the road
and rested there several hours. The Duke did not appear fatigued; he went to
bed apparently quite well. On reaching Beckwith, although he had ridden nearly
the whole way, he was evidently much fatigued, and laid down from the time we
arrived until dinner was ready; he complained of his shoulder, but his Grace
said nothing to me of any other pain. I, convinced it was a slight attack of
rheumatism, and that he had caught cold, this he said, he thought most likely;
he ate very little dinner, and went to bed very early.
On the following morning, it being evident that the Duke was still
unwell, it was determined to make two days of the journey to Richmond, instead of
one, and that his Grace should sleep at a house eleven or twelve miles
distant, and proceed the remaining three or four the next day. On this morning the
Duke observed to his servant that the washing of his face gave him a sort of
spasm, and to him he again complained of a pain in his throat, but said nothing
on that subject to either Colonel COCKBAIN or myself; the pain in his shoulder
was nearly gone.
We arrived at our destination about five in the afternoon, having
halted during the heat of the day at a cottage. I thought the Duke better, and
particularly observed that he did not appear so thirsty as on the preceding day;
he said nothing to me of any aversion to water, but complained a little of his
throat. He eat but little, and went to bed early. On the following morning,
(the 26th) his Grace was up, the first of the party; he said he had slept well,
and wished to set off immediately. I observed that he had not washed or
shaved himself, but it being a small cottage, and the distance to Richmond only
three or four miles, I was not surprised, believing he wished to postpone it
until our arrival at that place. I think he drank a little tea and eat part of an
egg. His Grace walked very strong, and made his way through the swamps, but
observed to me that he had a sort of spasm on seeing a person jump or walk into
a wet place, for which he could not account. I did not remark any thing
particular on his appearance, although I thought he looked unwell.
On my arrival at Richmond, he said he preferred seeing the stores,
villages, &c. before he dressed, and this he did, but then returned to the Inn,
and he went to his room to dress, and I did the same. Before I was quite ready,
he came to my room, and asked me the name of the surgeon, complaining at the
same time of the pain in his throat. I instantly sent for the only medical
person in the settlement, and whilst waiting his arrival we breakfasted. I think
the Duke drank some tea. On the surgeon's arriving, he examined the Duke's
throat, and recommended his using a gargle of port wine, vinegar, and sugar, and
taking a little medicine. On going away, he told me he thought the Duke would
be quite well the following day. The duke used the gargle, but I observed it
was with difficulty, and the moment he took the cup in his hand it produced a
spasm. He was then in good spirits, and made a joke of the circumstance. He
walked out a short time, but finding it too hot, returned to the Inn. He then
said it was a good opportunity to write, and I sent for some paper. Excepting the
pain in his throat, I thought him nearly well.
On the paper arriving, he wrote for nearly an hour and a half, and
then coming across the room, said, as nearly as I can recollect, "Now, my dear
sir, do not think me a fool, but I have written a letter, which, if anything
happens to me, you must deliver to my daughter." I was much startled at the
manner, and endeavoured to laugh him out of what appeared to me to be a nervous
fit. He then again alluded to his throat, and observed that a sudden spasm
might choke him, he thought it right to be prepared. He then spoke for some time
on subjects about which he seemed particularly anxious, and said that having
done so, and having written, he felt easier.
I could not account for his lowness of spirits, and again endeavoured
to rally him. He took this in good part, but on my saying he would deliver his
letter himself, he said very earnestly, "No, you will deliver that letter."
He then again complained of his not being able to swallow any liquor without
pain. I thought that one of the glands on his throat swelled a little. I also
observed that he tried continually to drink water, and recommended the gargle in
Three or four officers of the settlement dined with us, and he seemed
in good spirits, drank wine with most of the party, and made a joke of the
spasms. He appeared much better, and it was arranged that we would proceed the
next day to the banks of the Ottawa, as he wished to keep his appointment at
Montreal. At day-light the following morning he sent for me; I found him in bed;
he said he had passed a very disturbed night, and had awoke several times with
a feeling like the nightmare, and that he should not attempt going to sleep
again in that bed for the world; that he knew it was absurd, but could not help
it. I was much alarmed at his manner, although he was perfectly collected,
and even more than usually, kind and mild.
He again alluded to the letter he had written the day before, and I
think he again expressed his conviction that I should have to deliver it to Lady
Mary at Montreal. After a short time, I left him to dress, and went to
prepare for our setting off. On returning to the Inn, I found the Duke walking up
and down the room in a very disturbed state, with Colonel COCKBURN; his looks
and manners were unlike himself. He desired us to go and breakfast, and
whispered to me not to take any notice of him when he in, as it would increase his
spasms, which he knew the sight of tea would occasion. We then left him, and went
to breakfast; he soon followed us, and attempted to swallow some tea, but got
down very little. We endeavoured to prevail upon him to remain in Richmond,
but he was determined to proceed. It was the arranged that his Grace and I
should travel part of the way in a canoe, and we walked together about a mile to
the place of the embarkation. During this period, he was perfectly collected,
and talked on various subjects, without ever alluding to his illness or his
throat. On arriving, about eight o'clock, at the waterside, he desired someone
might first go into the canoe, to prevent him from falling, which he feared the
sight of water might make him do. On getting into the canoe I saw he was
dreadfully agitated, and there was something particularly striking in the manner
in which he took his little dog, Blucher, in his arms, kissed him, and the
spasms in his throat increased to an alarming degree. He endeavoured to control
himself and forced a smile when ever I looked at him.
After a few moments finding it impossible to support it, and growing
every instant more convulsed, we landed; the instant he was on shore, his
aversion to water increased tenfold, and he ran to the wood as far as he could
penetrate. Being joined by Colonel COCKBURN, we endeavoured to prevail upon him to
return to Richmond. A small rivulet being however in the way, which he was
unable to force himself to pass, we were obliged to proceed to a farm house a
few miles distant, and it was with the utmost difficulty that, with our united
exertions, he could get over some small rivulets and drains in our way.
Excepting on this subject, he was perfectly reasonable, and even on
that he endeavoured to control his feelings, by every possible exertion. Growing
worse, and the nature of his disorder being past all doubt hydrophobia, we at
length reached the farm house, Colonel COCKBURN having left us to procure
some assistance; the Duke ran into an open barn, which being further from the
water, he said he preferred to the house.
He then became tranquil, although he felt perfectly convinced he could
not live, and the paroxysms were at first intermittent, and for ten minutes,
or a quarter of an hour, he felt free from pain. His thoughts and anxiety were
for his family and friends. The Surgeon having set off for the point we were
to have slept that night, it was some time before he could be brought back.
During this time he prayed most earnestly to be enabled to support whatever
might be deemed good for him with patience and resignation; at the same time
professing his willingness to quit this world, and his perfect confidence of being
acquitted of ever having done injury to any one human being. He forgave all of
his enemies from the bottom of his soul. His language and his demeanour on
this occasion proved the piety, the fortitude, and the purity of his heart .
During the most violent agonies, not a murmur escaped him, nor for a
moment did he lose the mildness of his temper. During his short intervals from
extreme agony, he dictated messages to many of his family and friends, which
he most earnestly charged me to deliver.
On the arrival of Colonel COCKBURN and the surgeon, he consented to be
blooded, and about two pints were taken from his arm, which appeared to
relieve him for a time; towards evening he was able to take about 20 drops of
laudanum in peppermint water, and afterwards took a grain of opium in some chicken
broth, of which he took a few teaspoonfuls three or four times.
At sunset we removed him to the farm house which was prepared for his
reception. The convulsions became weaker, and it was but too evident that he
became weaker also. His recollection began to fail, and towards midnight he
fell into a kind of stupor. An express was set off about four o'clock to, in some
degree prepare the family for the fatal event.
Towards the morning of the 28th, the quantity of spittle collected in
his throat and mouth, caused the appearance of foaming; and at a few minutes
after eight o'clock, he expired without a struggle.
On questioning his servant, since this sad event, it appears, that as
early as the afternoon of the 23rd the Duke felt some difficulty in
swallowing, and on the morning of the 24th, had a sort of objection to washing his face,
but this he concealed from Colonel COCKBURN and myself. He never alluded to
the nature of his disorder but once, on the 26th, at dinner, when he remarked,
in a laughing manner, that it was fortunate that he was not a dog, as he
certainly would be shot for a mad one.
He preserved his love for his favourite spaniel till the last moment
of his recollection, and, in the midst of his violent pain, would sometimes
call to him in his natural tone of voice.
The laudanum did not produce any sleep. From about one o'clock on the
27th until his death, he was in a state of profuse perspiration, and did not
appear to have much fever.