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The NARRATIVE of Dr ROBERT NORRIS,
concerning the strange and deplorable frenzy of Mr John DENNIS *, an officer of the custom-house.
W'ritten in the year 1713.
T is an acknowledged truth, that nothing is so dear to
an honest man as bis good name, nor ought he to ne. glect the just vindication of his character, when it is injuriously attacked by any man. The person I have at pre. funt cause to coinplain of, is indeed in very melancholy, circumstances, it having pleafed God to deprive him of his seules, which may extenuate the crime in him. But I thould be wanting in my duty,
only to myself, but also to my fellow.creatures, to whom my talents may prove of benefit, should I fuffer my profession or honelty to be undeservedly asperled. I have therefore resolved to give the public an account of all that has past between the unhappy gentleman and myself.
On the 20th instant, while I was in my closet, pondering the case of one of my patients, I heard a knocking at my door, upon opening of which entered an old woman with tears in her eyes, and told me, that without my af. listance her maiter would be utterly ruined. I was forced to interrupt ber forrow, by enquiring her master's name and place of abode. She told ine, he was one Mr Den.. nis, an officer of the citom-house, who was taken ill of a violent frenzy last April, and had continued in those melancholy circumstances with few or no intervals. Up. on this I asked her some questions relating to his humour
* The history of Mr Dennis is to be seen in Jacob's Lives of the Poets ; or in Mr Pope's Dunciad, among the notes upon which the curious reader may find fome extracts from his writings. The oe. casion of this narrative fufficiently appears from the Doctor's own words. Hawkef:
and extavagancies, that I might the better know under what regimen to put him, when the cause of his diftem. per was found out. Alas, Sir, says she, this day fortnight in the morning, a poor simple child came to him from the printer's ; tbe boy bad no looner entered the room, but he cried out, the devil was come. He often stares ghaltful. ly, raves aloud, and mutters between his teeth the word Gator, or Gato, or some such thing. Now, Doctor, this Cator is certainly a witch, and my poor master is.me der an evil tongue; for I have heard him lay Cator has bewitched the whole nation. It pitied my very heart to think, that a man of my master's understanding and great scholar ship, who, as the child told me, had a book of bis own in print, should talk so outrageously. Upon this I went and laid out a groat for a horse-lhoe, which is at this time nailed on the threshold of his door ; but I don't find my master is at all the better for it ; be perpetually starts and runs to the window when any one knocks, crying out, S' death! a mejjenger from the French King! I mall die in the Bafile.
Having said this, the old woman presented me with a vial of his urine ; upon examination of which I perceived the whole teinperament of his body to be exceeding hut. I therefore instantly took my cane and my beaver, and repaired to the place where he dwelt.
When I came to his lodgings near Charing-cross, up three pair of stairs, (which I should not have published in this minner, but that this lupatic conceals the place of his residence, on purpose to prevent the good offices of those charitable friends and physicians, who might attempt his cure), when I came into the room, I found this unfor. tunate gentleman feated on bis bed, with Mr. Bernard Lintot bookleller on the one side of him, and a grave elderly gentlem in on the other, who, as I have since learned, calls himself a grammarian ; the latitude of whole countenance was not a little eclipsed by the fulness of his peruke. As I am a black lean man, of a pale vis. age, and hang my cloaths on lomewhat slovenly, I no fooner went in, but he frowned upon me, and cried out with violence, “ S'death, a Frenchman! I am betrayed
to the tyrant ! who could have thought the Queen « would have delivered me up to France in this treaty,
6 and least of all that you, my friends, would have been “ in a conspiracy against me "Sir, said I, here is neither plot por conspiracy, but for your advantage. The recovery of your senses requires my attendance, and
youtfriends sent for me on no other account. I then took a particular survey of his perton, and the furniture and dilposition of his apartment. His afpect was furious, his eyes were rather fiery than lively, which he rolled about in an uncominon inanner. He often opened his mouth, as if he would have urtered some matter of importance, but the found seemed loft inwardly. His beard was grown, which they told me he would not suffer to be shaved, be. lieving the niodern dramatic poets liad corrupted all the barhers in the town to take the first opportunity of cutting his throat. His eye-brows were grey, long, and grown together, which he knit with indignation when any thing was spoken, infomuch that he seemed not to have smooth. ed his forehead for many years.
His Hannel night.cap, which was exceedingly begrimed with sweat and dirt, bung upon his left ear'; the Aap of his breeches dangled between his legs, and the rolls of his stockings fell down. to his apkles.
I observed his room was hung with old tapeflry, whiih: had several holes in it, caused, as the old woman informed me, by his having cut out of it the heads of divers tyrants, the fierceness of whose visages had much provoked him. On all sides of his room were pinned a great many sheets of a tragedy called Cato, with notes on the margin with his own hand. The worels abfurd, 2013strous, execrable, were every where written in such large characters, that I could read them without my fpectacles. By the fire-lide lay three farthings worth of small coalin a spectator, and behind the door huge heaps of papers of the same title, which bis zurfe iuformed me she had conveyed thither out of his fight, believing they were books of the black art; for her master never read in them, but he was either quite moped, or in raving fits. There was nothing neat in the whole room, except fome books on bis shelves,' very well bound and gilded, whole Danies I had never before heard of, nor I believe were any here else to
uch as Gibraltar, a come. dy; Remarks on Prince Arthur ; The grounds of criti.
cism in poetry; An essay on public spirit. The only one I had any knowlege of was a Paradise Lost, ioterleaved. The whole floor was covered with manuferipts, as thick as a pustry-cook's shop on a Claristmas eve. On his table were some ends of verse and of candles; a gallipot of ink with a yellow pen in it, and a pot of half dead ale cover-ed with a Longinus.
As I was casting mine eyes round on all this odd furni-ture with fome earnestness and astovishment, and in a profound Glence, I was on a sudden surprized to hear the man speak in the following manner.
Beware, Doctor, that it farë dot with you as with your predecessor the famous Hippocrates, whom the " iniitaken citizens of Abdera lent for in this very
manner to cure the philofopher Democritus ; he re"6 turned full of admiration at ihe wisdom of that person, " whom he had fupposed a lunatic. Behold, Doctor, " it was thus Aristotle himself, and all the great antients,
fpent their days and nights, wrapt up in criticisin, and (5 beset all around with their own writings. As for meg " whom you see in the same manner, be assured I have
none other disease than a swelling in my legs, whereof I fay no inore, since your art may further satisfy you."
I began now to be in hopes, that his cale bad been misrepresented, and that he was not so far gone, but fome timely' medicines might recover him. I therefore proceeded to the proper queries, wbich, with the apfwers made to me, I shall let down in form of a dialogue, in the very words they were spoken, becaufe I would not ornit the least circutritance in this narrative; and I call iny confcience to witness, as it upon oath, that I shall tell the truth without addition or diminution.
Dr. Pray, Sir, how did you contract this swelling?
Denn. S'death, Sir, a distemper! It is no diftemper, but a noble art. I have sat fourteen hours a-day at it ; and are you a doctor, and don't koow there's a coumu. nication between the legs and the brain ?
Dr. What made you sit so many hours, Sir?
Dr. Sir, I speak of your distemper; what gave you this tumour ?
Denn. Cato, Cato, Cato*.
Old Wom For God's lake, Doctor, name not this evil spirit ; it is the whole cause of his madness: alas! poor inafter is just falling into bis fits.
Mr. Lintot, Fits! Z-what fits ! A man may wellbave swelling in his legs, that fits writing.fourteen hours in a day. He got this by the Remarks.
Dr. 'The Resurks, what are those ?
Denn, s'death! have you never read my remarks? I. will be dimned, if this dog Lintot ever published my advertisements. Mr. Lintot. 2.! I published advertisement upon
ad. vertisement; and if the book be not read, it is none of my fault, bit bis that made it. By G-, as much has been done for the book, as could be done for any book in Christendom,
Dr. We do not talk of books, Sir ; I feir those are the feul that feed the deliriurn ; mention them no more. You do very ill to promote this discourse.
I delire a word in private with this other gentleman, who seems a grave and lenable man : I luppose, Sir, you are bis apothecary,
Gent. Sir, I ain bis friend.
Dr. I doubt is not. What regimen have you obsery. ed, since he has b:en under your care! You remember, I suppose, the pallage of Cellus, which lys, if the patient on the third day have an interval, fulpend the me. dicaments at night? Let funigations be used to corroborate the brain. I hope you have upon no account pro: moted sternutation by hellibore.
Gent. Sir, no such matter, you utterly miitake.
Dr. Mistake: am I not a physician ? and shall an apo-thecary dispute my noftrunis? You may perhaps lave filled up a prescription or two of Ratcliff's, which chanc. ed to succeed, and with that very prescription, injudiciqully prescribed to different constitutions, have destroyed a multitude. Pharmacopola componat, medicus folus pre
* Remarks upon Cato, published by Mr. D. in the year 5712.