« PoprzedniaDalej »
Nor was he out in his judgment, for the dutchess on her return home had the intelligence of her son's death.
Some time before this, the son of Mr. John Bancroft, an eminent surgeon, in Russel Street, Covent Garden, was taking ill of an empyema, of which Dr. Gibbons, who attended him, mistaking the case, the child grew worse: Dr. Radcliffe was then called in, who told the father that he could do nothing to preserve his son, for he was killed to all intents and purposes, but that if he had any thoughts of putting a stone over his grave, he would furnish him with an inscription. Accordingly, in Covent Garden churchyard a stone was erected, with a figure of a child, laying one hand on his side, and saying hic dolor, here is my pain," and pointing with the other to a death's head, where are these words; Ibi medicus, "there is my physician."
The case of prince George of Denmark, was also very remarkable. His royal highness had been for some years troubled with an asthma and a dropsy; for the cure of which he was persuaded by the queen and his own physicians, to go to Bath, the year before he died. During his residence there, the gayeties of the place, wrought such an effect upon his temper, that her majesty and the whole court were filled with great admiration of the waters, and it was resolved to come thither again the next season to complete a cure which was considered as certain. The skill of the physicians who advised the journey was also highly applauded; but Radcliffe said, "The ensuing year would let them all know their mistake in following such preposterous and unadvisable counsels; since the very nature of a dropsy might have led those whose duty it was to have prescribed proper medicines for the cure of it, to other precautions for the safety of so illustrious a patient, than the choice of means that must unavoidably feed it." In confirmation of Radcliffe's opinion, his royal highness fell into a relapse, and was seized with such violent shiverings and convulsions, that his physicians themselves were of opinion that Dr. Radcliffe was the only person to be consulted. In pursuance of this advice, her majesty, who could set aside former resentment, for the preservation of so valuable a life, caused him to be sent for in one of her own coaches, and was pleased to tell him, that "no reward of favours should be wanting, could he but remove the convulsions she was troubled with,
by easing those of her husband." But the doctor who was not used to flatter, gave the queen to understand, that nothing but death could release his royal highness from his pains, and said, that "though it might be a rule among surgeons to apply causticks to such as were burnt or scalded, it was very irregular among physicians, to drive and expel watery humours from the body by draughts of the same elements. However, he would leave something in writing, whereby such hydropics and anodynes should be prepared for him as would give him an easier passage out of the world; since he had been so tampered with that nothing in the art of physic could keep him alive more than six days." Accordingly he departed this life on the sixth day following.
Radcliffe was a great humourist, but he had withal a considerable share of good nature with it.
When he was fairly set in at the bottle, it was a difficult thing to get him away from it, even to attend the greatest patients. A person came to him one evening at the tavern, and requested the doctor to come speedily to his wife. Radcliffe promised to attend her as soon as the bottle was out, but no entreaties could prevail with him to go sooner. The husband, being a powerful athletic man, without any ceremony, took the doctor upon his back and carried him off, to the no small entertainment of the spectators. When he had set the doctor on his legs, at the same time making an apology for his rudeness, Radcliffe exclaimed, with an oath, "Now you dog, I'll be revenged of you by curing your wife," and he was as good as his word.
The lady of Lord Chief Justice Holt being very ill, Radcliffe paid her more attention than was customary with him. This was observed, and it was the more remarkable, as it was well known that the doctor mortally hated Holt; accordingly some of his bottle-companions asked him the reason, "Why," said Radcliffe, "I know that Holt wishes the woman dead, so I am determined to keep her alive to plague him."
Radcliffe was very intimate with Betterton the player, and at his desire advanced above five thousand pounds in a trading concern to the East Indies. There was every prospect of mutual advantage, and the ship, richly laden, arrived safe in Ireland, but in her
voyage from thence was taken by the French. This loss had such an effect upon Betterton, that it threw him into a desponding way, out of which he never recovered. As for Radcliffe, he was at the Bull's-head tavern, in Clare Market, when the news arrived, and when some of the company began to condole with him, he smiled and said, "Come, come, let us push about the bottle, it is only trotting up some hundred pair of stairs more, and things will be with me as they were."
One Mr. Betton, a Turkey merchant, who lived at Bow, near Stratford, was very ill of a complication of disorders, and though he was attended by several physicians, his life was despaired of. At this crisis a friend advised that Dr. Radcliffe should be sent for. The doctor came, and after two visits, he brought him about, on which the sick man "desired him to omit no opportunity of coming to him, for that he should, in consideration of the great benefit he had received, be glad to give him five guineas every day till his recovery was completed." To this Radcliffe answered "Mr. Betton, the generosity of your temper is so engaging, that I must, in return, invite you to come and drink a cup of coffee with me, at Garraway's, this day fortnight; for, notwithstanding you have been very ill-dealt with, follow but the prescritions I shall leave you, till that time, and you will be as sound a man as ever you was in your life, without one fee more."
Very different, however, was his treatment of one Tyson, an old usurer, at Hackney. This man had amassed wealth, to the amount of more than 300,000; but, in the midst of his riches, he was miserably avaricious. Being afflicted with a slow disease, he dealt so long with quacks for cheapness sake, that he was at last reduced to the lowest ebb of life. In this state he was advised to consult with Dr. Radcliffe, but the great difficulty was, how to get the doctor's advice at the least possible expense. At last it was agreed that he and his wife should wait upon the doctor at his own house; accordingly they left their own coach at the Royal Exchange, and proceeded from thence in a hack, to Bloomsbury, where with two guineas in hand, and dressed very meanly, the old fellow stated his ailments, which Radcliffe attended to very carefully; after which he told him "to go home, and die, and be damned, without a speedy repentance; for that death and the devil
were ready for one Tyson of Hackney, who had raised an immense estate, out of the spoils of the public, and the tears of orphans and widows; and that he would certainly be a dead man in ten days." Nor did the event falsify the prediction, for the old usurer returned to his house, quite confounded with the sentence that had been passed upon him; which, whatever might be his fate afterwards, was fulfilled as to his death, in cight days following.
Towards the close of life, Radcliffe wanted ease and retirement. He therefore bought a house at Carshalton, and recommended Dr. Mead into a great part of his practice, saying to him, "I have succeeded by bullying, you may do the same by wheedling mankind."
When Queen Anne lay on her death-bed, Lady Masham sent down for Radcliffe, who was himself confined by the gout in his stomach, and returned an answer by the messenger, “that his duty to her majesty would oblige him to attend her, had he proper orders for so doing; but he judged as matters at that time stood between him and the queen, who had taken an antipathy against him, that his presence would do more harm than good, and, that since her majesty's case was desperate, and her distemper incurable, he could not at all think it proper to give her any disturbance in her last moments, which were very near at hand; but rather an act of duty and compassion, to let her majesty die as easily as was possible."
When the Queen died, the doctor was censured most severely for his refusal to attend her, and so violent was party resentment against him on this account, that he was threatened with assassination. The menaces which he received from anonymous correspondents, filled him with such apprehensions, that he could not venture to remove from his country-seat; and this, with the want of his old companions produced a melancholy that hastened his end, about two months after the death of the queen, November 1, 1714. His body was removed to Oxford, and there solemnly interred the third of December following, in St. Mary's church.
* The following letters show the ground and the extent of the doctor's apprehensions. The first affords a very affecting, and a most instructive
He was a most liberal benefactor to that University, and left the greatest part of his fortune to it at his death. He never was mar
lesson to those who have thoughtlessly contracted pernicious habits, and wasted their time in pleasure and intemperance.
"My very good Lord,
“This being the last time that, in all probability, I shall ever put pen to paper, I thought it my duty to employ it in writing to you; since I am now going to a place from whence I can administer no advice to you, and whither you, and all the rest who survive me, are obliged to come sooner or later.
"Your Lordship is too well acquainted with my temper, to imagine that I could bear the reproaches of my friends, and threats of my enemies, without laying them deeply at heart; especially since there are no grounds for the one, nor foundation for the other; and you will give me credit when I say that these considerations alone have shortened my days.
"I dare persuade myself that the reports which have been raised of me, relating to my non-attendance on the Queen, in her last moments, are received by you, as by others of my constant and assured friends, with an air of contempt, and disbelief; and could wish that they made as little an impression upon me. But I find them to be insupportable, and have experienced, that though there are repellent medicines for diseases of the body, those of the mind are too strong and impetuous for the feeble resistance of the most powerful artist.
"In a word, the decays of nature tell me that I cannot live long; and the menacing letter enclosed will tell you from what quarter my death comes. Give me leave, therefore, to be in earnest once for all with my very good Lord, and to use my endeavours to prolong your life, that cannot add a span's length to my own.
"Your Lordship knows how far an air of jollity has obtained amongst you and your acquaintance, and how many of them, in a few years, have died martyrs to excess; let me conjure you, therefore, for the good of your own soul, the preservation of your health, and the benefit of the public, to deny yourself the destructive liberties you have hitherto taken, and which, I must confess, with a heart full of sorrow, I have been too great a partaker of in your company.
"You are to consider, (Oh! that I myself had done so!) that men, especially those of your exalted rank are born to nobler purposes than those of eating and drinking; and that by how much the more eminent your station is, by so much the more accountable will you be for the discharge of it. Nor will your duty to God, your country, or yourself permit you to anger