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to God in St. Clement's church for my recovery; a recovery, in my seventy-fifth year, from a distemper which few in the vigour of youth are known to surmount; a recovery, of which neither myself, my friends, nor my physicians, had any hope; for though they flattered me with some continuance of life, they never supposed that I could cease to be dropsical. The dropsy, however, is quite vanished; and the asthma so much mitigated, that I walked to-day with a more easy respiration than I have known, I think, for perhaps two years past. I hope the mercy that lightens my days will assist me to use them well.
• The Hooles, Miss Burney, and Mrs. Hall (Wesley's sister), feasted yesterday with me very cheerfully on your noble salmon. Mr. Allen could not come, and I sent him a piece, and a great tail is still left.
Dr. Brocklesby forbids the club at present, not caring to venture the chilness of the evening; but I purpose to show myself on Saturday at the academy's feast. (1) I cannot publish my return to the world more effectually; for, as the Frenchman says, tout le monde s'y trouvera. For this occasion I ordered some clothes; and was told by the tailor, that when he brought me a sick dress, he never expected to make me any thing of any other kind. My recovery is indeed wonderful.
April 26. On Saturday I showed myself again to the living world at the Exhibition: much and splendid was the company, but, like the doge of Genoa at Paris, I admired nothing but myself. I went up all the stairs to the pictures without stopping to rest or to breathe, " in all the madness of superfluous health." The Prince of Wales had promised to be there; but when we had waited an hour and a half, sent us word that he could not come.
Mrs. Davenant called to pay me a guinea, but I gave two for you. Whatever reasons you have for frugality, it is not worth while to save a guinea a year by withdrawing it from a public charity. Mr. Howard called on me a few days
(1) The exhibition dinner of the Royal Academy. - C.
ago, and gave me the new edition, much enlarged, of his "Account of Prisons." He has been to survey the prisons on the Continent; and in Spain he tried to penetrate the dungeons of the Inquisition, but his curiosity was very imperfectly gratified. At Madrid, they shut him quite out; at Valladolid, they showed him some public rooms.
London, May 31. 1784. I have one way or other been disappointed hitherto of that change of air from which I think some relief may possibly be obtained; but Boswell and I have settled our resolution to go to Oxford on Thursday. But since I was at Oxford, my convivial friend Dr. Edwards, and my learned friend Dr. Wheeler, are both dead, and my probabilities of pleasure are very much diminished. Why, when so many are taken away, have I been yet spared? I hope that I may be fitter to die. How long we shall stay at Oxford, or what we shall do when we leave it, neither Bozzy nor I have settled; he is, for his part, resolved to remove his family to London, and try his fortune at the English bar: let us all wish him success.
LETTER 513. MRS. PIOZZI TO DR. JOHNSON. Bath, June 30. [1784.]
MY DEAR SIR, The enclosed is a circular letter, which I have sent to all the guardians; but our friendship demands somewhat more: it requires that I should beg your pardon for concealing from you a connection which you must have heard of by many, but I suppose never believed. Indeed, my dear Sir, it was concealed only to save us both needless pain. I could not have borne to reject that counsel it would have killed me to take, and I only tell it you now because all is irrevocably settled, and out of your power to prevent. I will say, however, that the dread of your disapprobation has given me some anxious moments, and though, perhaps, I am become
by many privations the most independent woman in the world, I feel as if acting without a parent's consent till you write kindly to your faithful servant, H. L. P.
LETTER 514. TO MRS. PIOZZI.
London, July 8. 1784. DEAR MADAM, What you have done, however I may lament it, I have no pretence to resent, as it has not been injurious to me: I therefore breathe out one sigh more of tenderness, perhaps useless, but at least sincere.
I wish that God may grant you every blessing, that you may be happy in this world for its short continuance, and eternally happy in a better state; and whatever I can contribute to your happiness I am very ready to repay, for that kindness which soothed twenty years of a life radically wretched.
Do not think slightly of the advice which I now presume to offer. Prevail upon M. Piozzi to settle in England: you may live here with more dignity than in Italy, and with more security: your rank will be higher, and your fortune more under your own eye. I desire not to detail all my reasons, but every argument of prudence and interest is for England, and only some phantoms of imagination seduce you to Italy. I am afraid, however, that my counsel is vain; yet I have eased my heart by giving it.
When Queen Mary took the resolution of sheltering herself in England, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, attempting to dissuade her, attended on her journey; and when they came to the irremeable stream that separated the two kingdoms, walked by her side into the water, in the middle of which he seized her bridle, and with earnestness proportioned to her danger and his own affection, pressed her to return. The queen went forward. If the parallel reaches thus far, may it The tears stand in my eyes. I am going into go no farther. Derbyshire, and hope to be followed by your good wishes, for SAM. JOHNSON. I am, with great affection, your, &c.
Any letters that come for me hither will be sent me.
LETTER 515. TO MR. NICHOLS.
April 12. 1784.
SIR, I have sent you inclosed a very curious proposal from Mr. Hawkins, the son of Sir John Hawkins, who, I believe, will take care that whatever his son promises shall be performed. If you are inclined to publish this compilation, the editor will agree for an edition on the following terms, which I think liberal enough. That you shall print the book at your own charge. That the sale shall be wholly for your benefit till your expenses are repaid; except that at the time of publication you shall put into the hands of the editor, without price, copies for his friends. That, when you have been repaid, the profits arising from the sale of the remaining. copies shall be divided equally between you and the editor. That the edition shall not comprise fewer than five hundred. SAM. JOHNSON.
TO MR. SASTRES.
Ashbourne, Aug. 21. 1784.
DREA SIR, I am glad that a letter has at last reached you; what became of the two former, which were directed to Mortimer instead of Margaret-street, I have no means of knowing, nor is it worth the while to enquire; they neither enclosed bills, nor contained secrets.
My health was for some time quite at a stand, if it did no rather go backwards; but for a week past it flatters me wit appearances of amendment, which I dare yet hardly credit. My breath has been certainly less obstructed for eight days; and yesterday the water seemed to be disposed to a fuller flow. But I get very little sleep; and my legs do not like to carry me.
You were kind in paying my forfeits at the club; it cannot be expected that many should meet in the summer; however, they that continue in town should keep up appearances as well as they can. I hope to be again among you.
I wish you had told me distinctly the mistakes in the French words. The French is but a secondary and subordinate part
of your design; exactness, however, in all parts is necessary, though complete exactness cannot be attained; and the French are so well stocked with dictionaries, that a little attention may easily keep you safe from gross faults; and as you work on, your vigilance will be quickened, and your observation regulated; you will better know your own wants, and learn better whence they may be supplied. Let me know minutely the whole state of your negotiations. Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
The weather here is very strange summer weather; and we are here two degrees nearer the north than you. I was, I think, loath to think a fire necessary in July, till I found one in the servants' hall, and thought myself entitled to as much warmth as them.
I wish you would make it a task to yourself to write to me twice a week; a letter is a great relief to, dear Sir, your, &c.
LETTER 517. TO THE SAME.
Ashbourne, Sept. 2. 1784.
DEAR SIR, Your critic seems to me to be an exquisite Frenchman; his remarks are nice; they would at least have escaped me. I wish you better luck with your next specimen ; though if such slips as these are to condemn a dictionary, I know not when a dictionary will be made. I cannot yet think that gourmander is wrong; but I have here no means of verifying my opinion.
My health, by the mercy of God, still improves; and I have hope of standing the English winter, and of seeing you, and reading Petrarch at Bolt Court; but let me not flatter myself too much. I am yet weak, but stronger than I was.
I suppose the club is now almost forsaken; but we shall I hope meet again. We have lost poor Allen; a very worthy man, and to me a very kind and officious neighbour.
Of the pieces ascribed by Bembo to Virgil, the Dirce (ascribed, I think, to Valerius Cato), the Copa and the Moretum