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1784. country an idea of this species of amusement. In
amusement, mere amusement, I am afraid it must Ætat. 75.
end, for I do not find that its course can be directed so as that it should serve any purposes of communication: and it can give no new intelligence of the state of the air at different heights, till they have ascended above the height of mountains, which they seem never likely to do, I came hither on the 27th. How long I shall stay, I have not determined. My dropsy is gone, and my asthma much remitted, but I have felt myself a little declining these two days, or at least to day ; but such vicissitudes must be expected. One day may be worse than another; but this last month is far better than the former; if the next should be as much better than this, I shall run about the town on my own legs.”
October 6. " The fate of the balloon I do not much lament: to make new balloons, is to repeat the jest again. We now know a method of mounting into the air, and, I think, are not likely to know
The vehicles can serve no use till we can guide them; and they can gratify no curiosity till we mount with them to greater heights than we can reach without; till we rise above the tops of the highest mountains, which we have yet not done. We know the state of the air in all its regions, to the top of Teneriffe, and therefore, learn nothing from those who navigate a balloon below the clouds. The first experiment, however, was bold, and deserved applause and reward. But since it has been performed, and its event is known, I had rather now find a medicine that can ease an asthma."
October 25. “ You write to me with a zeal that animates, and a tenderness that melts me. I am not
afraid either of a journey to London, or a residence 1784. in it. I came down with little fatigue, and am now
Ætat. 75. not weaker. In the smoky atmosphere I was delivered from the dropsy, which I consider as the original and radical disease. The town is my element;" there are my friends, there are my books, to which I have not yet bid farewell, and there are my amusements. Sir Joshua told me long ago, that my vocation was to publick life, and I hope still to keep my station, till God shall bid me Go in peace.” To Mr. Hoole. Ashbourne, Aug. 7.
66 Since I was here, I have two little letters from you, and have not had the gratitude to write. But every man is most free with his best friends, because he does not suppose that they can suspect, him of intentional incivility. One reason for my omission is, that being in a place to which you are wholly a stranger, I have no topicks of correspondence. If you had any knowledge of Ashbourne, I could tell you of two Ashbourne men, who, being last week condemned at Derby to be hanged for a robbery, went and hanged themselves in their cell. But this, however it may supply us with talk, is nothing to you.—Your kindness, I know, would make you glad to hear some good
? His love of London continually. Jpears. In a letter from him to Mrs. Smart, wife of his friend the Poet, which is published in a well-written life of him, prefixed to an edition of his Poems, in 1791, there is the following sentence : “ To one that has passed so many years in the pleasures and opulence of London, there are few places that can give much delight."
Once, upon reading that line in the curious epitaph quoted in • The Spectator."
“ Born in New-England, did in London die :" he laughed and said, “I do not wonder at this. It would have. been strange, if born in London, he had died in New-England."
1784. of me, but I have not much good to tell; if I grow not Etat.75. worse, it is all that I can say. I hope Mrs. Hoole
receives more help from her migration. Make her my compliments, and write again to, dear Sir, your affectionate servant."
Aug. 13. “ I thank you for your affectionate letter. I hope we shall both be the better for each other's friendship, and I hope we shall not very quickly be parted.- Tell Mr. Nichols that I shall be glad of his correspondence, when his business allows him a little remission; though to wish him less business, that I may have more pleasure, would be too selfish. To pay for seats at the balloon is not very necessary, because in less than a minute, they who gaze at a mile's distance will see all that can be seen. About the wings I am of your mind; they cannot at all assist it, nor I think regulate its motion.--I am now grown somewhat easier in my body, but my mind is some times depressed.--About the Club I am in no great pain. The forfeitures go on, and the house, I hear, is improved for our future meetings. I hope we shall meet often and sit long."
Sept. 4. “Your letter was, indeed, long in coming, but it was very welcome. Our acquaintance has now subsisted long, and our recollection of each other involves a great space, and many little occurrences, which melt the thoughts to tenderness.Write to me, therefore, as frequently as you can. I hear from Dr. Brocklesby and Mr. Ryland, that the Club is not crouded. I hope we shall enliven it when winter brings us together.”
To Dr. BURNEY. August 2.
« The weather, you know, has not been balmy; I am now reduced
387 to think, and am at last content to talk of the wea- 1787. ther. Pride must have a fall. I have lost dear
Ætat.75. Mr. Allen ; and wherever I turn, the dead or the dying meet my notice, and force my attention upon misery and mortality. Mrs. Burney's escape from so much danger, and her ease after so much pain, throws, however, some radiance of hope upon the gloomy prospect. May her recovery be perfect, and her continuance long.--I struggle hard for life. I take physick, and take air ; my friend's chariot is always ready. We have run this morning twentyfour miles, and could run forty-eight more. But who can run the race with death?"
Sept. 4. [Concerning a private transaction, in which his opinion was asked, and after giving it, he makes the following reflections, which are applicable on other occasions.] Nothing deserves more compassion than wrong conduct with good meaning ; than loss or obloquy suffered by one, who, as, he is conscious only of good intentions, wonders why he loses that kindness which he wishes to preserve; and not knowing his own fault, if, as may sometimes happen, nobody will tell him, goes on to offend by his endeavours to please.--I am delighted by finding that our opinions are the same.--You
& There was no information for which Dr. Johnson was less grateful than for that which concerned the weather. It was in allusion to his impatience with those who were reduced to keep convorsation alive by observations on the weather, that he applied the old proverb to himself. If any one of his intimate acquaintance told him it was hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm, he would stop them, by saying, “Poh! poh! you are telling us that of which none but men in a mine or a dungeon can be ignorant. Let us bear with patience, or enjoy in quiet, elementary changes, whether for the better or the worse, as they are never secrets." B.
1784. will do me a real kindness by continuing to write.
A post-day has now been long a day of recreation.” Ætat, 75.
Nov. 1. “ Our correspondence paused for want of topicks. I had said what I had to say on the matter proposed to my consideration ; and nothing remained but to tell you, that I waked or slept ; that I was more or less sick. I drew my thoughts in upon myself, and supposed yours employed upon your book. That
your book has been delayed I am glad, since you have gained an opportunity of being more exact.–Of the caution necessary in adjusting narratives there is no end. Some tell what they do not know, that they may not seem ignorant, and others from mere indifference about truth. All truth is not, indeed, of equal importance; but, if little violations are allowed,' every violation will in time be thought little ; and a writer should keep himself vigilantly on his guard against the first temptations to negligence or supineness.- I had ceased to write, because respecting you I had no more to say, and respecting myself could say little good. I cannot boast of advancement, and in case of convalescence it may
be said, with few exceptions, non progredi, est regredi. I hope I may be excepted.--My great difficulty was with my sweet Fanny,' who, by her artifice of inserting her letter in yours, had given me a precept of frugality which I was not at liberty to neglect, and I know not who were in town under whose cover I could send my letter. I rejoice to hear that you are so well, and have a delight particularly sympathetick in the recovery of Mrs. Burney."
9 The celebrated Miss Fanny Burney.