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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
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. If I now go 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.
(1) [Thomas Crofts, A.M., chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough. His liorary, which was sold April 7. 1783, and the forty-two following days, produced 3453%.]
(2) Sir Richard Musgrave, of Turin, in Ireland. He published severa! 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 More 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)
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 Rey J. Lawrence, died on the 15th. The " Biographical Dictionary" 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
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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
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, Anna Williams, of whom it may be truly said that she received your bounty with gratitude, 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.
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, is gone. It is a comfort to me to have you near me. I am, 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