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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. Wiliams 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 I 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) [Sce art?, 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.
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. — You seem
(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. — C.
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 care. 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.
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) [Sce antè, Vol. III. p 162]
nave passed this long winter.
LETTER 510. TO MRS. THRALE.
London, March 20. 1784.
MADAM, Your last letter had something of tenderness. The accounts which you have had of my danger and distress were I suppose not aggravated. have been confined ten weeks with an asthma and dropsy. But I am now better. God has in his mercy granted me a reprieve; for how much time his mercy must determine.
On the 19th of last month I evacuated twenty pints of water, and I think I reckon exactly. From that time the tumour has subsided, and I now begin to move with some freedom. You will easily believe that I am still at a great distance from health; but I am, as my chirurgeon expressed it, amazingly better. Heberden seems to have great hopes.
Write to me no more about dying with a grace. When you feel what I have felt in approaching eternity-in fear of soon hearing the sentence of which there is no revocation — you will know the folly: my wish is that you may know it sooner. The distance between the grave and the remotest part of human longevity is but a very little; and of that little no path is certain. You know all this, and I thought that I knew it too; but I know it now with a new conviction. May that new conviction not be vain! I am now cheerful. I hope this approach to recovery is a token of the Divine mercy. My friends continue their kindness. I give a dinner to-morrow.
I am now not without hopes
TO THE SAME.
April 15. Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving another dinner to the remainder of the old club. We used to meet weekly about the year 1750, and we were as cheerful as in former times: only I could not make quite so much noise; for since the paralytic affliction, my voice is sometimes weak.
Metcalf and Crutchley, without knowing each other, are
both members of parliament for Horsham, in Sussex. Cator is chosen for Ipswich.
But a sick man's thoughts soon turn back upon himself. I am still very weak, though my appetite is keen, and my digestion potent; and I gratify myself more at table than ever I did at my own cost before. I have now an inclination to luxury which even your table did not excite; for till now my talk was more about the dishes than my thoughts. I remember you commended me for seeming pleased with my dinners when you had reduced your table. I am able to tell you with great veracity that I never knew when the reduction began, nor should have known that it was made had not you told me. I now think and consult to-day what I shall eat to-morrow. This disease will likewise, I hope, be cured. For there are other things how different! — which ought to predominate in the mind of such a man as I: but in this world the body will have its part; and my hope is, that it shall have no more - my hope, but not my confidence; I have only the timidity of a Christian to determine, not the wisdom of a stoic to secure
April 19. I received this morning your magnificent fish, and in the afternoon your apology for not sending it. I have invited the Hooles and Miss Burney to dine upon it tomorrow. The club which has been lately instituted is at Sam's; and there was I when I was last out of the house. But the people whom I mentioned in my letter are the remnant of a little club (2) that used to meet in Ivy-lane, about three and thirty years ago, out of which we have lost Hawkesworth and Dyer the rest are yet on this side the grave.
April 21. I make haste to send you intelligence, which, if I do not flatter myself, you will not receive without some degree of pleasure. After a confinement of one hundred and twenty-nine days, more than the third part of a year, and no inconsiderable part of human life, I this day returned thanks
(1) This friend of Johnson's youth survived him somewhat more than three years, having died February 19. 1788.-M.
(2) See antè, Vol. 1. p. 163. — C. VOL. X.