Early life London Country Residences Ferm ornee Russia Loss of fortune Hothouses France and Italy Gardeners Magazine Marriage Birmingham Scotland Arboretum Suburban Gardener Cemeteries Last illness Death Anecdotes Elegy
This appeal was principally rendered necessary by the pecuniary difficulties I have alluded to, and which, undoubtedly, hastened his death. The debt on the Arboretum, which, as already stated, was originally £10,000, had, by the sale of that book and of the Cottage Architecture, been reduced to £2400; but he had incurred an additional debt of £1200 by publishing the Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs, his edition of Repton, and other works, on his own account, though all his creditors agreed to the same terms, viz, to wait for their money until they were paid by the sale of the works themselves, on condition of Messrs. Longman holding the stock of books in trust, and not paying any of the proceeds of the works to Mr. London till the demands of his creditors were fully satisfied. Unfortunately, however, one of the creditors, the engraver, became a bankrupt, and his assignees began to harass Mr London for the debt due to them, which was about £1500, threatening to make him a bankrupt, to arrest him for the sum, &c. I believe they could not have carried their threats into execution without the consent of Mr. Spottiswoode, and Messrs. Smith and Chapman, who were the other creditors, and who behaved most kindly and honourably throughout. But the agitation attendant on the numerous letters and consultations respecting this affair proved fatal to my poor husband.
On Wednesday the 13th of December, 1843, he sent me into London to see the assignees, and to endeavour to bring them to terms, our kind and excellent friend, the late Mr. Joseph Strutt, having promised to lend us money for that purpose. The assignees, however, refused to accept the terms we offered, unless Mr. London would also give up to them his edition of Repton, which he was most unwilling to do, as the debt on that work was comparatively small; and, consequently, he had reason to hope that the income produced by it would be soonest available for the support of his family. He was accordingly very much agitated when I told him the result of my mission; but he did not on that account relax in his exertions; on the contrary, he continued dictating Self-instruction till twelve o'clock at night. 'When he went to bed he could not sleep, and the next morning he rose before it was light, he then told me he had determined to sacrifice his edition of Repton in order to have his affairs settled before he died; adding "but it will break my heart to do so." He repeated, however, that he would make the sacrifice, but he seemed reluctant to send me into town to give his consent; and most fortunate was it, as, if 1 had gone to town that morning, I should not have been with him when he died. He now appeared very ill, and told me he thought he should never live to finish Self-Instruction; but that he would ask his friend Dr. Jamieson, to whom he had previously spoken on the subject, to finish the work for him. Soon after this he became very restless, and walked several times from the drawing-room to his bedroom and back again. I feel that I cannot continue these melancholy details: it is sufficient to say, that, though his body became weaker every moment, his mind retained all its vigour to the last, and that he died standing on his feet. Fortunately, I perceived a change taking place in his countenance, and I had just time to clasp my arms round him, to save him from falling, when his head sank upon my shoulder, and he was no more.
I do not attempt to give any description of the talents or character of my late husband as an author; his works are before the world, and by them he will be judged; but I trust I may be excused for adding, that in his private capacity he was equally estimable as a husband and a father, and as a master and a friend. He was also a most dutiful son and most affectionate brother.
It was on the anniversary of the death of Washington (the 14th of December) that Mr. Loudon died, and he was buried, on the 21st of December, in the cemetery at Kensall Green. When the coffin was lowered into the grave, a stranger stepped forward from the crowd and threw in a few strips of ivy. This person, I was afterwards informed, was an artificial flower maker, who felt grateful to Mr. Loudon for having given him, though a stranger, tickets for admission to the Horticultural Gardens, and who, never having been able to thank Mr. Loudon in person, took this means of paying a tribute to his memory.