Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the prebendaries of Lichfield, and for some time surrogate of the chancellor. Now I will put you in a way of showing me more kindness. I have been confined by illness a long time; and sickness and solitude make tedious evenings. Come sometimes and see, Sir, &c.

LETTER 496. TO JOSEPH FOWKE, ESQ.

April 19. 1783. Dear Sir, To show you that neither length of time, nor distance of place, withraws you from my memory, I have sent you a little present (1), which will be transmitted by Sir Robert Chambers.

To your former letters I made no answer, because I had none to make. Of the death of the unfortunate man (meaning Nundocomar), I believe Europe thinks as you think; but it was past prevention; and it was not fit for me to move a question in public which I was not qualified to discuss, as the inquiry could then do no good; and I might have been silenced by a hardy denial of facts, which, if denied, I could

not prove.

Since we parted, I have suffered much sickness of body and perturbation of mind. My mind, if I do not flatter myself, is unimpaired, except that sometimes my memory is less ready; but my body, though by nature very strong, has given way to repeated shocks.

Genua tabant, vastos quatit æger anhelitus artus. This line might have been written on purpose for me.

You will see, however, that I have not totally forsaken literature. I can apply better to books than I could in some more vigorous parts of my life — at least than I did ; and I have one more reason for reading - that time has, by taking away my companions, left me less opportunity of conversation. I have led an inactive and careless life; it is time at last to be diligent: there is yet provision to be made for eternity.

Let me know, dear Sir, what you are doing. Are you ac

(1) A collection of the Doctor's works. NICHOLS.

cumulating gold, or picking up diamonds ? Or are you now sated with Indian wealth, and content with what you have? Have you vigour for bustle, or tranquillity for inaction ? Whatever you do, I do not suspect you of pillaging or oppressing; and shall rejoice to see you return with a body unbroken, and a mind uncorrupted.

You and I had hardly any common friends, and therefore I have few anecdotes to relate to you. Mr. Levet, who brought us into acquaintance, died suddenly at my house last year, in his seventy-eighth year, or about that age. Mrs. Wil. liams, the blind lady, is still with me, but much broken by a very wearisome and obstinate disease. She is, however, not likely to die; and it would delight me if you would send her some petty token of your remembrance: you may send me one

Whether we shall ever meet again in this world, who can tell? Let us, however, wish well to each other: prayers can pass the Line and the Tropics. I am, &c.

too.

: LETTER 497. TO MRS. THRALE.

London, May-day, 1783. On Saturday I dined, as is usual, at the opening of the Exhibition. Our company was splendid; whether more numerous than at any former time, I know not. Our tables seem always full. On Monday, if I am told truth, were received at the door 1901., for the admission of 3800 spectators. Supposing the show open ten hours, and the spectators staying one with another each an hour, the room never had fewer than 380 justling against each other. Poor Lowe met some discouragement; but I interposed for him, and prevailed. Mr. Barry's exhibition was opened the same day, and a book is published to recommend it; which, if you read it, you will find decorated with some satirical pictures of Sir Joshua Reynolds and others. I have not escaped. You must, however, think with some esteem of Barry for the comprehension of his design.

LETTER 498. TO THE SAME.

May 8. 1783. I thought your letter long in coming. I suppose it is true that I looked but languid at the Exhibition, but have been worse since. Last Wednesday — the Wednesday of last week - I came home ill from Mr. Jodrel's; and after a tedious, oppressive, impatient night, sent an excuse to General Paoli, and took on Thursday two brisk cathartics and a dose of calomel. Little things do me no good. At night I was much better. Next day cathartic again, and the third day opium for my cough. I lived without flesh all the three days. The recovery was more than I expected. I went to church on Sunday quite

at ease.

The Exhibition prospers so much that Sir Joshua says it will maintain the academy. He estimates the probable amount at three thousand pounds. Steevens is of opinion that Crofts's (1) books will sell for near three times as much as they cost; which, however, is not more than might be expected. Favour me with a direction to Musgrave (2) of Ireland; I have a charitable office to propose to him. Is he knight or baronet ?

My present circle of enjoyment is as narrow for me as the Circus (at Bath] for Mrs. Montague. When I first settled in this neighbourhood I had Richardson and Lawrence and Mrs. Allen at hand. I had Mrs. Williams, then no bad companion; and Levet for a long time always to be had. out, I must go far for company, and at last come back to two sick and discontented women, who can hardly talk if they had any thing to say, and whose hatred of each other makes one great exercise of their faculties.

If I now go

(1) [Thomas Crofts, A.M., chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough. His library, which was sold April 7. 1783, and the forty-two following days, produced 34531.]

(2) Sir Richard Musgrave, of Turin, in Ireland. He published several political works, particularly a History of the Irish Rebellion in 1784.” He died in 1818. -C.

LETTER 499. TO MRS. THRALE.

Oxford, June 11. 1783. Yesterday I came to Oxford without fatigue or inconvenience. I read in the coach before dinner. I dined moderately, and slept well; but find my breath not free this morning.

Dr. Edwards, to whom I wrote of my purpose to come, has defeated his own kindness by its excess. He has

gone

out of his own rooms for my reception ; and therefore I cannot decently stay long, unless I can change my abode, which it will not be very easy to do: nor do I know what attractions I shall find here. Here is Miss Moore at Dr. Adams's, with whom I shall dine to-morrow.

London, June 13. 1783. Seward called on me yesterday. He is going only for a few weeks - first to Paris, and then to Flanders, to contemplate the pictures of Claude Loraine ; and he asked me if that was not as good a way as any of spending time - that time which returns no more of which, however, a great part seems to be very foolishly spent, even by the wisest and the best. Poor Lawrence and his youngest son died almost on the same day. (1)

[ocr errors]

LETTER 500. TO THE SAME.

London, June 20. 1783. You will forgive the gross images that disease must necessarily present. Dr. Lawrence said that medical treatises should be always in Latin.

I never had any distortion of the countenance but what Dr. Brocklesby called a little prolapsus, which went away the second day.

I was this day directed to eat flesh, and I dined very copiously upon roasted lamb and boiled pease. I then went to

(1) Dr. Lawrence, born in 1711, died in 1783, the 13th of June. His son, the Rev. J. Lawrence, died on the 15th. The“ Biographical Dictionaryo says that Johnson's Latin Ode to Dr. Lawrence was on the death of one of his sons, who died in India. It would rather appear to have been written on the fatal illness of this son.-C.

sleep in a chair; and when I waked, I found Dr. Brocklesby sitting by me, and fell to talking with him in a such a manner as made me glad, and I hope made me thankful. The Doctor fell to repeating Juvenal's ninth satire ; but I let him see that the province was mine. I am to take wine to-night, and hope it will do me good.

LETTER 501. TO THE SAME.

London, June 28. 1783. Your letter is just such as I desire, and as from you I hope always to deserve. The black dog (1) I hope always to resist, and in time to drive, though I am deprived of almost all those that used to help me. The neighbourhood is impoverished. I had once Richardson and Lawrence in my reach. Mrs. Allen is dead. My home has lost Levett; a man who took interest in every thing, and therefore ready at conversation. Mrs. Williams is so weak that she can be a companion no longer. When I rise, my breakfast is solitary; the black dog waits to share it. From breakfast to dinner he continues barking, except that Dr. Brocklesby for a little keeps him at a distance. Dinner with a sick woman you may venture to suppose not much better than solitary. After dinner, what remains but to count the clock, and hope for that sleep which I can scarce expect ? Night comes at last, and some hours of restlessness and confusion bring me again to a day of solitude. What shall exclude the black dog from an habitation like this? If I were a little richer, I would perhaps take some cheerful female into the house. Last night fresh flies were put to my head, and hindered me from sleeping. To-day I fancy myself incommoded with heat. I have, however, watered the garden both yesterday and to-day, just as I watered the laurels in the island at Streatham.

(1) See antè, Vol. VII. p. 301. n..-C.

1

« AnteriorContinua »