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I beg you to return the book when you have looked into it. I should not have written what was in the margin, had I not had it from you, or had I not intended to show it you.
It affords me a new conviction, that in these books there is little new, except new forms of expression; which may be sometimes taken, even by the writer, for new doctrines.
I sincerely hope that God, whom you so much desire to serve aright, will bless you, and restore you to health, if he sees it best. Surely no human understanding can pray for any thing temporal otherwise than conditionally. Dear Angel, do
not forget me. My heart is full of tenderness. It has pleased God to permit me to be much better; which I believe will please you.
Give me leave, who have thought much on medicine, to propose to you an easy, and I think a very probable remedy for indigestion and lubricity of the bowels. Dr. Lawrence
has told me your case. Take an ounce of dried orange peel finely powdered, divide it into scruples, and take one scruple at a time in any manner; the best way is perhaps to drink it in a glass of hot red port, or to eat it first, and drink the wine after it. If you mix cinnamon or nutmeg with the powder, it were not worse; but it will be more bulky, and so more troublesome. This is a medicine not disgusting, not costly, easily tried, and if not found useful, easily left off. (1)
I would not have you offer it to the Doctor as mine. Physicians do not love intruders; yet do not take it without his leave. But do not be easily put off, for it is in my opinion very likely to help you, and not likely to do you harm: do not take too much in haste; a scruple once in three hours, or about five scruples a day, will be sufficient to begin; or less, if you find any aversion. I think using sugar with it might be bad; if syrup, use old syrup of quinces; but even that I do not like. I should think better of conserve of sloes. Has the Doctor mentioned the bark? In powder you could hardly take it; perhaps you might take the infusion.
(1) See antè, Vol. V. p. 269.-C.
Do not think me troublesome, I am full of care. I love you and honour you, and am very unwilling to lose you. A Dieu je vous recommande. I am, Madam, your, &c. My compliments to my dear Miss.
TO THE SAME.
Jan. 1. 1756.
DEAREST MADAM, Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my congratulations on the new year; to declare my wishes, that your years to come may be many and happy. In this wish indeed I include myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes; yet surely I wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest Madam, your, &c.
TO THE SAME.
Jan. S. 1756.
DEAREST MADAM, Nobody but you can recompense me for the distress which I suffered on Monday night. Having engaged Dr. Lawrence to let me know, at whatever hour, the state in which he left you; I concluded, when he stayed so long, that he stayed to see my dearest expire. I was composing myself as I could to hear what yet I hoped not to hear, when his servant brought me word that you were better. Do you continue to grow better? Let my dear little Miss inform me on a card. I would not have you write, lest it should hurt you, and consequently hurt likewise, dearest Madam, yours, &c.
LETTER 480. TO THE SAME.
Thursday, Jan. 8. 1756.
HONOURED MADAM, I beg of you to endeavour to live. I have returned your Law; which, however, I earnestly en
treat you to give me. I am in great trouble; if you can write three words to me, be pleased to do it. I am afraid to say much, and cannot say nothing when my dearest is in danger. The all-merciful God have mercy on you! I am, Madam, your, &c. (1)
LETTER 481. TO MR. GEORGE STRAHAN,
Feb. 19. 1763.
Dear George, I am glad that you have found the benefit of confidence, and hope you will never want a friend to whom you may safely disclose any painful secret. The state of your mind you had not so concealed but that it was suspected at home, which I mention, that if any hint should be given you,
(1) Miss Boothby died Friday, January 16. 1756; upon whose death Dr. Johnson composed the following prayer:-"Hill Boothby's death, January, 1756.- O Lord God, Almighty disposer of all things, in whose hands are life and death, who givest comforts and takest them away, I return thee thanks for the good example of Hill Boothby, whom thou hast now taken away; and implore thy grace that I may improve the opportu nity of instruction which thou hast afforded me, by the knowledge of her life, and by the sense of her death; that I may consider the uncertainty of my present state, and apply myself earnestly to the duties which thou hast set before me, that, living in thy fear, I may die in thy favour, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Pr. and Med. p. 25.)
The general phraseology of Johnson's notes, and the terms "my dearest" and "my angel," seem strange; but it must be recollected that dearest dear, and similar superlatives of tenderness, were usual with him in addressing Miss Reynolds and other ladies, for whom he confessedly felt nothing but friendship; and they were addressed to Miss Boothby when she was dying, and when the hearts of both were softened by sickness and affiiction, and warmed by spiritual communication. As to the supposed rivalry between him and Lord Lyttelton for Miss Boothby's favour (see antè, Vol. IX. p. 57.), it must be either a total mistake or an absurd exag. geration. Lord Lyttelton was, during the whole of the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson and Miss Boothby, a married man, fondly attached to his wife, and remarkable for the punctilious propriety of his moral conduct and the preference shown by Miss Boothby, and which is said to have rankled in Johnson's heart, could have been nothing more than some inci. dent in a morning visit, when Lord Lyttelton and Johnson may have met in Cavendish Square (for it seems certain that they never met in the country). We have seen in the cases of Lord Chesterfield (Vol. II. p. 7.) and of Miss Cotterell (Vol. I. p. 293.) how touchy Johnson was on such occasions, and how ready he was to take offence at any thing that looked like slight. Some preference or superior respect shown by Miss Boothby to Lord Lyttelton's rank and public station (he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1755) no doubt offended the sensitive pride of Johnson, and occasioned the dislike which he confessed to Mrs. Thrale he felt for Lord Lyttelton; but an amorous rivalry between them is not only absurd, but
it may not be imputed to me, who have told nothing but to yourself, who had told more than you intended.
I hope you read more of Nepos, or of some other book, than you construe to Mr. Bright. The more books you look into for your entertainment, with the greater variety of style you will make yourself acquainted. Turner I do not know; but think that if Clark be better, you should change it, for I shall never be willing that you should trouble yourself with more than one book to learn the government of words. What book that one shall be, Mr. Bright must determine. Be but diligent in reading and writing, and doubt not of the success. Be pleased to make my compliments to Miss Page and the gentlemen. dear Sir, yours affectionately,
LETTER 482. TO THE SAME.
March 26. 1763.
DEAR SIR, You did not very soon answer my letter, and therefore cannot complain that I make no great haste to answer yours. I am well enough satisfied with the proficiency that you make, and hope that you will not relax the vigour of your diligence. I hope you begin now to see that all is possible which was professed. Learning is a wide field, but six years spent in close application are a long time; and I am still of opinion, that if you continue to consider knowledge as the most pleasing and desirable of all acquisitions, and do not suffer your course to be interrupted, you may take your degree not only without deficiency, but with great distinction.
You must still continue to write Latin. This is the most difficult part, indeed the only part that is very difficult, of your undertaking. If you can exemplify the rules of syntax, I know not whether it will be worth while to trouble yourself with any more translations. You will more increase your number of words, and advance your skill in phraseology, by making a short theme or two every day; and when you have construed properly a stated number of verses, it will be pleasing to go from reading to composition, and from composition
to reading. But do not be very particular about method; any method will do if there be but diligence. Let me know, if you please, once a week what you are doing. I am, dear George, your humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON.
April 16. 1763. DEAR SIR, Your account of your proficience is more nearly equal, I find, to my expectations than your own. You are angry that a theme on which you took so much pains was at last a kind of English Latin; what could you expect more? If at the end of seven years you write good Latin, you will excel most of your contemporaries: Scribendo disces, scribere. It is only by writing ill that you can attain to write well. Be but diligent and constant, and make no doubt of success.
I will allow you but six weeks for Tully's Offices. Walker's Particles I would not have you trouble yourself to learn at all by heart, but look in it from time to time and observe his notes and remarks, and see how they are exemplified. The translation from Clark's history will improve you, and I would have you continue it to the end of the book.
I hope you read by the way at loose hours other books, though you do not mention them; for no time is to be lost; and what can be done with a master is but a small part of the whole. I would have you now and then try at some English When you find that you have mistaken any thing, review the passage carefully and settle it in your mind. Be pleased to make my compliments, and those of Miss Williams, to all our friends. I am, dear Sir, yours most affectionately, SAM. JOHNSON.
LETTER 484. TO THE SAME.
Sept. 20. 1763.
DEAR SIR, I should have answered your last letter sooner if I could have given you any valuable or useful directions;