« AnteriorContinua »
LETTER 502. TO THE SAME.
London, July 3. 1783. Dr. Brocklesby yesterday dismissed the cantharides, and I can now find a soft place upon my pillow. Last night was cool, and I rested well; and this morning I have been a friend at a poetical difficulty. Here is now a glimpse of daylight again; but how near is the evening none can tell, and I will not prognosticate. We all know that from none of us it can be far distant: may none of us know this in vain !
I went, as I took care to boast, on Tuesday to the club, and hear that I was thought to have performed as well as usual. I dined on fish, with the wing of a small turkey-chick ; and left roast beef, goose, and venison-pie untouched. I live much on peas, and never had them so good for so long a time in any year that I can remember. Along with your kind letter yesterday came one, likewise very kind, from the Astons at Lichfield; but I do not know whether, as the summer is so far advanced, I shall travel so far; though I am not without hopes that frequent change of air may fortify me against the winter, which has been, in modern phrase, of late years very inimical to, Madam, your, &c.
LETTER 503. TO THE SAME.
London, July 8. 1783.' Langton and I have talked of passing a little time at Rochester together, till neither knows well how to refuse; though I think he not eager to take me, and I am not desirous to be taken. His family is numerous, and his house little. I have let him know, for his relief, that I do not mean to burden him more than a week.
He is, however, among those who wish me well, and would exert what power he has to do me good.
July 23. - I have been thirteen days at Rochester, and am now just returned. I came back by water in a common boat twenty miles for a shilling; and when I landed at Billingsgate, I carried my budget myself to Cornhill before I could get a coach, and was not much incommoded.
LETTER 504. TO MRS. MONTAGU.
Sept. 22. 1783. MADAM, That respect which is always due to beneficence makes it fit that you should be informed, otherwise than by the papers, that, on the 6th of this month, died your pensioner,
Williams, of whom it may be truly said that she received your bounty with gratit2de, and enjoyed it with propriety. You perhaps have still her prayers.
You have, Madam, the satisfaction of having alleviated the sufferings of a woman of great merit, both intellectual and moral. Her curiosity was universal, her knowledge was very extensive, and she sustained forty years of misery with steady fortitude. Thirty years and more she had been my companion, and her death has left me very desolate.
That I have not written sooner, you may impute to absence, to ill health, to any thing rather than want of regard to the benefactress of my departed friend. I am, Madam, your most humble servant.
LETTER 505. TO MISS REYNOLDS.
Oct. 1. 1783. DEAR MADAM, — I am very ill indeed, and to my former illness is superadded the gout. I am now without shoes, and I have been lately almost motionless. To my other afflictions is added solitude. Mrs. Williams, a companion of thirty years,
It is a comfort to me to have you near me. dear Madam, &c.
LETTER 506. TO MRS. THRALE.
London, Oct. 6. 1783. I yet sit without shoes, with my foot upon a pillow; but my pain and weakness are much abated, and I am no longer crawling upon two sticks. To the gout my mind is reconciled by another letter from Mr. Mudge, in which he vehemently urges the excision, and tells me that the gout will secure me from every thing paralytic: if this be true, I am ready to say to the arthritic pains, Deh! venite ogne di, durate un anno. (1) My physician in ordinary is Dr. Brocklesby, who comes almost every day; my surgeon, in Mr. Pott's absence, is Mr. Cruikshank, the present reader in Dr. Hunter's school. Neither of them, however, do much more than look and talk. The general health of my body is as good as you have ever known it - almost as good as I can remember. The carriage which you supposed made rough by my weakness was the common Salisbury stage, high hung, and driven to Salisbury in a day. I was not fatigued.
Mr. Pott has been out of town; but I expect to see him soon, and will then tell you something of the main affair, of which there seems now to be a better prospect. This afternoon I have given (tea] to Mrs. Cholmondeley, Mrs. Wray, Lady Sheffield's relation, Mr. Kindersley, the describer of Indian manners, and another anonymous lady. As Mrs. Williams received a pension from Mrs. Montagu, it was fit to notify her death. The account has brought me a letter not only civil but tender; so hope peace is proclaimed.
London, Oct. 9. 1783. · Two nights ago Mr. Burke sat with me a long time. He seems much pleased with his journey. We had both seen Stonehenge this summer for the first time. I told him that the view had enabled me to confute two opinions which have been advanced about it. One, that the materials are not natural stones, but an artificial composition hardened by time. This notion is as old as Camden's time; and has this strong argument to support it, that stone of that species is nowhere to be found. The other opinion, advanced by Dr. Charlton, is, that it was erected by the Danes.
Mr. Bowles made me observe, that the transverse stones were fixed on the perpendicular supporters by a knob formed on the top of the upright stone, which entered into a hollow cut in the crossing stone. This is a proof that the enormous edifice was raised by a people who had not yet the knowledge of mortar; which cannot be supposed of the Danes, who
(1) [See antè, Vol. IX. p. 25.]
came hither in ships, and were not ignorant certainly of the arts of life. This proves also the stones not to be factitious; for they that could mould such durable masses could do much more than make mortar, and could have continued the transverse from the upright part with the same paste.
You have doubtless seen Stonehenge ; and if you have not, I should think it a hard task to made an adequate description. It is, in my opinion, to be referred to the earliest habitation of the island, as a druidical monument of, at least, two thousand years; probably the most ancient work of man upon the island. Salisbury cathedral and its neighbour Stonehenge are two eminent monuments of art and rudeness, and may show the first essay and the last perfection in architecture.
LETTER 507. TO THE SAME.
London, Nov. 13. 1783. Since you have written to me with the attention and tenderness of ancient time(1), your letters give me a great part of the pleasure which a life of solitude admits. You will never bestow any share of your good-will on one who deserves better. Those that have loved longest love best. A sudden blaze of kindness may by a single blast of coldness be extinguished; but that fondness which length of time has connected with many circumstances and occasions, though it may for a while be depressed by disgust or resentment, with or without a cause, is hourly revived by accidental recollection. To those that have lived long together, every thing heard and every thing seen recalls some pleasure communicated or some benefit conferred, some petty quarrel or some slight endearment. Esteem of great powers, or amiable qualities newly discovered, may embroider a day or a week, but a friendship of twenty years is interwoven with the texture of life. A friend may be often found and lost; but an old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.
(1) This is the first letter in which we perceive a serious coldness towards Mrs. Thrale; but it is clear that it had existed some time prior to this date, though not perhaps so long as Mr. Boswell supposed.
to mention Lord Kilmurrey (1) as a stranger. We were at his house in Cheshire; and he one day dined with Sir Lynch. What he tells of the epigram is not true, but perhaps he does not know it to be false. Do not you remember how he rejoiced in having no park? — he could not disoblige his neighbours by sending them no venison.
LETTER 508. TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
London, Nov. 29. 1783. DEAR MADAM, – You may perhaps think me negligent that I have not written to you again upon the loss of your brother; but condolences and consolations are such common and such useless things, that the omission of them is no great crime; and my own diseases occupy my mind and engage my
My nights are miserably restless, and my days, therefore, are heavy. I try, however, to hold up my head as high as I can. I am sorry that your health is impaired; perhaps the spring and the summer may, in some degree, restore it ; but if not, we must submit to the inconveniences of time, as to the other dispensations of Eternal Goodness. Pray for me, and write to me, or let Mr. Pearson write for you.
LETTER 509. TO THE SAME,
Bolt Court, March 10. 1784. MY DEAREST LOVE, - I will not suppose that it is for want of kindness that you did not answer my last letter; and I therefore write again to tell you that I have, by God's great mercy, still continued to grow better. My asthma is seldom troublesome, and my dropsy has ran itself almost away, in a manner which my physician says is very uncommon. I have been confined from the 14th of December, and shall not soon venture abroad: but I have this day dressed myself as I was before my sickness. If it be inconvenient to you to write, desire Mr. Pearson to let me know how you do, and how you
(1) [See ante, Vol. III. p. 162 )