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“TO MR. HOOLE.
“ Ashbourne, Aug. 7. "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 topics of correspondence. If you 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 of me, but I have not much good to tell; if I grow not 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 ain 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 sometimes 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 crowded. 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 to think, and am at last content to talk of the weather. Pride must have
I have lost dear Mr. Ailen ; 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 inuch pain, throws, however, some radiance of hope upon the gloomy prospect. May her
a fall. 1
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 conversation 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."—BURNEY.
recovery be perfect, and her continuance long. I struggle hard for life. I take physic, and take air ; my friend's chariot is always ready. We have run this morning twenty-four 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 will do me a real kindness by continuing to write. A post-day has now been long a day of recreation."
* Nov. 1. Our correspondence paused for want of topics. 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, i 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 sympathetic in the recovery of Mrs. Burney."
« TO MR, LANGTON.
“ August 25 “The kindness of your last letter, and my omission to answer it, begins to give you, even in my opinion, a right to recriminate, and to charge me with forgetfulness for the absent. I will, therefore, delay no longer to give an account of myself
, and wish I could relate what would please either myself or my friend.— On July 13, I left London, partly in hope of help from new air and change of place, and partly excited by the sick man's impatience of the present. I got to Lichfield in a stage vehicle, with very little fatigue, in two days, and had the consolation ? to find, that since my last visit my three old acquaintances are all dead.—July 20, I went to Ashbourne, where I have been till now; the house in which we live is repairing. I live in too much solitude, and am often deeply dejected. I wish we were nearer, and rejoice in your removal to London. A friend, at once cheerful and serious, is a great acquisition. Let us not neglect one another for the little time which Providence allows us to hope.—Of my health I cannot tell you, what my wishes persuaded me to expect, that it is much improved by the season or by remedies. I am sleepless ; my legs grow weary with a very few steps, and the water breaks its boundaries in some degree. The asthma, however, has remitted ; my breath is still much obstructed, but is more free than it was. Nights of watchfulness produce torpid days; I read very little, though I am alone; for I am tempted to supply in the day what I lost in bed. This is my history; like all other histories a narrative of misery. Yet am I so much better than in the beginning of the year, that I ought to be ashamed of complaining. I now sit and write with very little sensibility of pain or weakness; but when I rise I shall find my legs betraying me. Of the money which you mentioned, I have no immediate need. Keep it, however, for me, unless some exigence requires it. Your papers I will show you certainly, when you would see them ; but I am a little angry at you for not keeping minutes of your own acceptum et expensum, and think a little time might be spared from Aristophanes, for the res familiares. Forgive me, for I mean well. I hope, dear Sir, that you and Lady Rothes, and all the young people, too many to enumerate, are well and happy. God bless you all.”
1 The celebrated Miss Fanny Burney.--Boswell.
2 Probably some word has been here omitted before consolation ; perhaps sad, or miserable ; or the word consolation has been printed by mistake, instead of mortification ; but the original letter not being now (1798) in Mr. Langton's hands, the error (if it be one), cannot be corrected.-MALONE.
TO MR. WINDHAM.
August. “The tenderness with which you have been pleased to treat me, through my long illness, neither health nor sickness can, I hope, make me forget; and you are not to suppose, that after we parted you were no longer in my mind. But what can a sick man say, but that he is sick ? His thoughts are necessarily concentred in himself : he neither receives nor can give delight; his inquiries are after alleviations of pain, and his efforts are to catch some momentary comfort.Though I am now in the neighbourhood of the Peak, you must expect no account of its wonders, of its hills, its waters, its caverns, or its mines ; but I will tell you, dear Sir, what I hope you will not hear with less satisfaction, that for about a week past my asthma has been less afflictive.”
“Lichfield, October 2. “I believe you had been long enough acquainted with the phenomena of sickness, not to be surprised that a sick man wishes to be where he is not, and where it appears to everybody but himself that he might easily be, without having the resolution to remove. I thought Ashbourne a solitary place, but did not come hither till last Monday.--I have here more company, but my health has for this last week not advanced ; and in the languor of disease how little can be done? Whither or when I shall make my next remove, I cannot tell ; but I entreat you, dear Sir, to let me know, from time to time, where you may be found, for your residence is a very owerful attractive to, Sir, your most humble servant."
: DEAR SIR,
Lichfield, Oct. 4, 1784. “I cannot but flatter myself that your kindness for me will niake you glad to know where I am, and in what state.
“I have been struggling very hard with my diseases. My breath has been very much obstructed, and the water has attempted to encroach upon me again. I past the first part of the summer at Oxford, afterwards I went to Lichfield, thence to Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, and a week ago I returned to Lichfield.
“ My breath is now much easier, and the water is in a great measure run away, so that I hope to see you again before winter.
“Please make my compliments to Mrs. Perkins, and to Mr. and Mrs. Barciay. I am, dear Sir, your most humble servant,
TO THE RIGHT HON. WILLIAM GERARD HAMILTON.
Lichfield, Oct. 20, 1784. “ Considering what reason you gave me in the spring to conclude that you took part in whatever good or evil might befal me, I ought not to have omitted so long the account which I am now about to give you.—My diseases are an asthma and a dropsy, and, what is less curable, seventy-five. Of the dropsy, in the beginning of the summer, or in the spring, I recovered to a degree which struck with wonder both me and my physicians : the asthma now is likewise, for a time, very much relieved. I went to Oxford, where the asthma was very tyrannical, and the dropsy began again to threaten me; but seasonable physic stopped the inundation : I then returned to London, and in July took a resolution to visit Staffordshire and Derbyshire, where I am yet struggling with my disease. The dropsy made another attack, and was not easily ejected, but at last gave way. The asthma suddenly remitted in bed, on the 13th of August, and, though now very oppressive, is, I think, still something gentler than it was before the remission. My limbs are miserably debilitated, and my nights are sleepless and tedious.-
When you read this, dear Sir, you are not sorry that I wrote no sooner. I will not prolong my complaints. I hope still to see you in a happier hour, to talk over what we have often talked, and perhaps to find new topics of merriment, or new incitements to curiosity. I am, dear Sir, &c.
“SAM. JOHNSON.” “TO JOHN PARADISE, ESQ.; “DEAR SIR,
Lichfield, Oct, 27, 1784. “Though in all my summer's excursion I have given you no account of myself, I hope you think better of me than to imagine it impossible for me to
Son of the late Peter Paradise, Esq., his Britannic Majesty's Consul at Salonica, in Macedonia, by his lady, a native of that country. He studied at Oxford, and has been honoured by that University with the degree of LL.D. He is distinguished not only by his learning and talents, but by an amiable disposition, gentleness of manners, and a very general acquaintance with well-informed and accomplished persons of almost all nations. -Boswell.
Mr. Paradise died, December 12, 1795.-Malone.
forget you, whose kindness to me has been too great and too constant not to have made its impression on a harder breast than mine. Silence is not very culpable, when nothing pleasing is suppressed. It would have alleviated none of your complaints to have read my vicissitudes of evil. I have struggled hard with very formidable and obstinate maladies ; and though I cannot talk of health, think all praise due to my Creator and Preserver for the continuance of my life. The dropsy has made two attacks, and has given way to medicine; the asthma is very oppressive, but that has likewise once remitted. I am very weak, and very sleepless ; but it is time to conclude the tale of misery. I hope, dear Sir, that you grow better, for you have likewise your share of human evil, and that your lady and the young charmers are well. I am, dear Sir, &c.,
"SAM. JOHNSON." “TO MR. GEORGE NICOL. *DEAR SIR,
Ashbourne, Aug. 19, 1784. Since we parted, I have been much oppressed by my asthma, but it has lately been less laborious. When I sit I am almost at ease, and I can walk, though yet very little, with less difficulty for this week past, than before. Í hope I shall again enjoy my friends, and that you and I shall have a little more literary conversation. Where I now am, everything is very liberally provided for me but conversation. My friend is sick himself, and the reciprocation of complaints and groans afford not much of either pleasure or instruction. What we have not at home this town does not supply, and I shall be glad of a little imported intelligence, and hope that you will bestow now and then, a little time on the relief, and entertainment of, Sir, yours, &c.
“SAM. JOHNSON.” " TO MR. CRUIKSHANK. “DEAR SIR,
Ashbourne, Aug. 19, 1784. “Do not suppose that I forget you ; I hope I shall never be accused of forgetting my benefactors. I had, till lately, nothing to write but complaints upon complaints, of miseries upon miseries ; but within this fortnight I have received great relief. Have your lecturers any vacation? If you are released from the necessity of daily study, you may find time for a letter to me. [In this letter he states the particulars of his case.] In return for this account of my health let me have a good account of yours, and of your prosperity in all your undertakings. I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON.” " TO MR. THOMAS DAVIES.
August 14. “ The tenderness with which you always treat me, makes me culpable in my own eyes for having omitted to write in so long a separation; I had, indeed, nothing to say that you could wish to hear. All has been hitherto misery accumulated upon misery, disease corroborating disease, till yesterday my asthma was perceptibly and unexpectedly mitigated. I am much comforted with this short relief, and am willing to flatter myself that it may continue and improve. I have at present such a degree of ease, as not only may admit the
Bookseller to his Majesty.-Boswell.