Later Johnson


Samuel Johnson. Diary, 1765-1784. Manuscript. MS Hyde 50 (18)

Johnson's health, which had vexed him throughout his life, declined in the summer of 1784. He meticulously documented his symptoms and treatments in this journal, written in Latin because, he said, "Dr. Laurence [Thomas Lawrence, his physician] said that medical treatises should always be in Latin." Among his numerous maladies, Johnson was suffering from dropsy (now known as edema), a buildup of fluid in the body, and he took frequent doses of a syrup made from squills, an onion-like plant, as a diuretic. A typical entry, from July 26, records a sleepless night, doses of squills and diacodium, a syrup derived from opium poppies, and "tristitia gravissima," or terrible sadness.