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than I deserve. I hope to be in time what I wish to be; and what I have hitherto satisfied myself too readily with only wishing.
Your billet brought me, what I much wished to have, a proof that I am still remembered by you at the hour in which I most desire it.
The Doctor [Lawrence] is anxious about you. He thinks you too negligent of yourself; if you will promise to be cautious, I will exchange promises, as we have already exchanged injunctions. However, do not write to me more than you can easily bear; do not interrupt your ease to write at all.
Mr. Fitzherbert sent to-day to offer me some wine; the people about me say I ought to accept it. I shall therefore be obliged to him if he will send me a bottle.
There has gone about a report that I died to-day, which I
Cartes' argument, "I think; therefore I am." It is as good
Wednesday, Dec. 31. 1755.
MY SWEET ANGEL, I have read your book, I am afraid you will think without any great improvement; whether you can read my notes, I know not. You ought not to be offended; I am perhaps as sincere as the writer. In all things that terminate here I shall be much guided by your influence, and should take or leave by your direction; but I cannot receive my religion from any human hand. I desire however to be instructed, and am far from thinking myself perfect.
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.
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; and 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.
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.
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 opportunity 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 exaggeration. 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 incident 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. I am, 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