Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/425

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331
DEATH OF JOHN LEECH.

make him completely grasp the meaning of things that were said to him without two or three repetitions. He left early with Tom Taylor."[1] On the 28th of October, the artist himself was conscious that something was wrong. He visited Dr. Quain, who assured him that his only chance lay in complete and entire rest; and, on returning home, he wrote a note in pencil addressed to his old friend, Mr. Frederick Evans, in which he mentioned his interview with the medical man, and added that he hoped to complete a cut for which a messenger was to be sent, but that he was not sure of being able to finish it. A messenger was sent in obedience to his desire, but he returned empty-handed. We return at this point to the diary of Mr. Shirley Brooks. "I called," he says (29th of October), "at 27, Bouverie Street, and heard from Evans that he was very ill. We went off to the Terrace, Kensington. He was in bed, but no one seemed frightened, and there was a child's party—a small one. Mrs. Leech was in tears, but certainly had no reason to apprehend the worst. He would have seen us. We remained three-quarters of an hour or so, but an opiate had been given, so it was of course felt that he ought not to be disturbed. Arranged to meet Evans at three next day;" but the fatal messenger, who will call for each and every of us, had already delivered his summons, and never more (in life) were either of the friends fated to see John Leech again. "At seven o'clock that night," continues the narrator (in another place[2]), "it pleased God to release him from sufferings so severe as even to make the brave, patient, enduring man say that they were almost more than he could bear."

Mr. Evans called on Brooks the following day (Sunday, 30th October). "After hearing all he could say, I went with him to telegraph to Mark Lemon, and also to Leech's. Millais and Leigh at the door—heard much from them. Mrs. Chester came up—Charles Eaton, Mrs. Leech's brother and best friend, had come. We went in and saw him … and the poor mother, and two of the sisters, and afterwards to the chamber of death. He looked

  1. MS. Diary of Shirley Brooks: 29th October, 1864.
  2. Illustrated London News, 19th November, 1864.