« PreviousContinue »
When the Regent first proposed to him that he should belong to his household, Lady Knighton very much objected to his doing so. At first, and for several years after his master succeeded to the crown, everything went on smoothly. He was very useful, and the King's private affairs were managed in a way in which they had never been managed previously. His situation became very disagreeable, and, as he informed me, he wished to resign his office. But Lady Knighton showed him that, having once undertaken it, he could not with propriety do so, especially as he still retained the King's confidence, as was shown by his relying on his advice, and by his leaving him his executor, in conjunction with the Duke of Wellington. On the whole, I am satisfied that he would have been a happier person if he had never entered on this new career. It is worthy of notice that he studiously avoided leading his family to follow his example. I do not believe that either Lady Knighton, or his son, or daughters, were ever presented at Court. After the death of the King he mixed little with the world, leading a very retired life at his residence in Hampshire. He survived the King only six years, and Sir Steven Hammick, Dr. Chambers, myself, and one other friend, were the only persons, besides his son, who attended his funeral at the cemetery at Kensal Green.
In the year 1818 I experienced the loss of a very good friend by the death of Sir Richard Croft. He had married my first cousin, one of the daughters of Dr. Denman, and was from an early period of his life in large practice as an accoucheur among the aristocratic classes of society. Unfortunately he was engaged to attend the Princess Charlotte of Wales in her confinement. The child was born dead, and the princess herself expired soon after her delivery. This disastrous result affected him deeply. Sir Richard was a man of acute feelings, a thorough gentleman, having a high sense of honour, and of a kind and liberal disposition. In the early part of my career he did me much service by recommending me to his patients for those smaller services for which they might reasonably apply to a young practitioner. He was the younger
son of an old family whose fortune had evaporated. On the death of his elder brother, Sir Herbert Croft, he succeeded to one of the oldest baronetcies, and to nothing else.
During the first two or three years after our marriage we continued to reside in the small house in Sackville Street, in which I had resided previously. In the beginning of the year 1819, however, I took a house of greater pretensions in Savile Row, and we remained in it until we removed to a larger one in the same street, which we still inhabit. As my income had been steadily increasing, I felt myself to be guilty of no imprudence in making this change, and the event justified me in doing so, as my income in 1819 exceeded that of the previous year by more than 1,0001. This increase may be in part attributed to the publication of the first edition of my work on ‘Diseases of the Joints,' which had taken place in the previous year. Other circumstances, however, contributed to it. Although I was no more than thirty-six years of age, my name had been for several years before the public. Sir Astley Cooper, who had succeeded to the large practice of Mr. Cline and the smaller one of Sir Everard Home, too confident of his position, had already begun to lose some of the vast reputation which he had previously enjoyed. Some one else was wanted, and I was ready to fill the vacant place. From this time my practice steadily increased, so that almost every year made considerable additions to it. Hitherto my income had been little more than sufficient to meet my annual expenditure, but I now began to lay by a considerable portion of it; and finding that I had the prospect of providing for my family, and of acquiring in the course of no very long time a moderate independence, I was relieved of much of the anxiety which I had formerly experienced.
In the same year in which I entered my new habitation, 1819, Lawrence having resigned the Professorship of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the College of Surgeons, the council of the college appointed me to succeed him, and I delivered my first course of lectures there in the year following. I do not know whether I acted quite wisely in undertaking that office. With an increasing practice, my lectures on surgery, and my duties at the hospital, I had an abundance of occupation, and the having every year to make a fresh course of lectures on subjects on which I had not lectured previously was an almost frightful addition to my labours. It was only by giving up many hours which ought to have been devoted to sleep that I was able to fulfil my engagements, and even with this sacrifice I had not the satisfaction of knowing that my lectures were such as I could have wished them to be. On the other hand, in the composition of my lectures I had to go to the bottom of many things with which I was before only superficially acquainted, and thus I acquired much information which I should never have possessed otherwise, and which has been a source of interest to me ever since. I held the professorship until the year 1823, and delivered four courses of lectures. The two first courses related to the structure and physiology of the organs of respiration and circulation. In the third course I considered the organs of digestion; the subject of the last course