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Instead of acting on the same principle, he perseveres in addressing his "ideal Urania" as if she had been a consulting physician :
"London, June 20th, 1783.
"DEAREST MADAM, — I think to send you for some time a regular diary. You will forgive the gross images which disease must necessarily present. Dr. Lawrence said that medical treatises should be always in Latin. The two vesicatories did not perform well," &c. &c.
"June 23, 1783.
"Your offer, dear Madam, of coming to me, is charmingly kind; but I will lay it up for future use, and then let it not be considered as obsolete; a time of dereliction may come, when I may have hardly any other friend, but in the present exigency I cannot name one who has been deficient in civility or attention. What man can do for man has been done for me. Write to me very often."
That the offer was serious and heartfelt, is clear from "Thraliana":
"Bath, June 24th, 1783.-A stroke of the palsy has robbed Johnson of his speech, I hear. Dreadful event! and I at a distance. Poor fellow! A letter from himself, in his usual style, convinces me that none of his faculties have failed, and his physicians say that all present danger is over."
"June 24th, 1783.
"Both Queeny's letter and yours gave me, to-day,
great pleasure. Think as well and as kindly of me as you can, but do not flatter me. Cool reciprocations of esteem are the great comforts of life; hyberbolical praise only corrupts the tongue of the one, and the ear of the other."
"June 28th, 1783.
"Your letter is just such as I desire, and as from you I hope always to deserve."
Her own state of mind at this time may be collected from "Thraliana":
"June, 1783.-Most sincerely do I regret the sacrifice I have made of health, happiness, and the society of a worthy and amiable companion, to the pride and prejudice of three insensible girls, who would see nature perish without concern. were their gratification
"The two youngest have, for ought I see, hearts as impenetrable as their sister. They will all starve a favourite animal-all see with unconcern the afflictions of a friend; and when the anguish I suffered on their account last winter, in Argyll Street, nearly took away my life and reason, the younger ridiculed as a jest those agonies which the eldest despised as a philosopher. When all is said, they are exceeding valuable girlsbeautiful in person, cultivated in understanding, and well-principled in religion: high in their notions, lofty in their carriage, and of intents equal to their expectations; wishing to raise their own family by connections with some more noble and superior to any feeling of tenderness which might clog the wheels of
ambition. What, however, is my state? who am condemned to live with girls of this disposition? to teach without authority; to be heard without esteem; to be considered by them as their superior in fortune, while I live by the money borrowed from them; and in good sense, when they have seen me submit my judgment to theirs at the hazard of my life and wits. Oh, 'tis a pleasant situation! and whoever would wish, as the Greek lady phrased it, to teize himself and repent of his sins, let him borrow his children's money, be in love against their interest and prejudice, forbear to marry by their advice, and then shut himself up and live with them."
Is it possible to misconstrue such a letter as the following from Johnson to her, now that the querulous and desponding tone of the writer is familiar to us?
"London, Nov. 13th, 1783.
"DEAR MADAM,- Since you have written to me with the attention and tenderness of ancient time, 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
After Buckingham had been some time married to Fairfax's daughter, he said it was like marrying the devil's daughter and keeping house with your father-in-law.
for a while be suppressed 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 recals 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."
The date of the following scene, as described by Madame D'Arblay in the "Memoirs," is towards the end of November, 1783:
Nothing had yet publicly transpired, with certainty or authority, relative to the projects of Mrs. Thrale, who had now been nearly a year at Bath t; though nothing was left unreported, or unasserted, with respect to her proceedings. Nevertheless, how far Dr. Johnson was himself informed, or was ignorant on the subject, neither Dr. Burney nor his daughter could tell; and each equally feared to learn.
Scarcely an instant, however, was the latter left alone in Bolt Court, ere she saw the justice of her long ap
"Yet, oh yet thyself deceive not:
Love may sink by slow decay,
But by sudden wrench believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away."— BYRON.
† About six months.
prehensions; for while she planned speaking upon some topic that might have a chance to catch the attention of the Doctor, a sudden change from kind tranquillity to strong austerity took place in his altered countenance; and, startled and affrighted, she held her peace.
"Thus passed a few minutes, in which she scarcely dared breathe; while the respiration of the Doctor, on the contrary, was of asthmatic force and loudness; then, suddenly turning to her, with an air of mingled wrath and woe, he hoarsely ejaculated: Piozzi!"
"He evidently meant to say more; but the effort with which he articulated that name robbed him of any voice for amplification, and his whole frame grew tremulously convulsed.
"His guest, appalled, could not speak; but he soon discerned that it was grief from coincidence, not distrust from opposition of sentiment, that caused her taciturnity. This perception calmed him, and he then exhibited a face in sorrow more than anger.' His see-sawing abated of its velocity, and, again fixing his looks upon the fire, he fell into pensive rumination.
“At length, and with great agitation, he broke forth with: She cares for no one! You, only - You, she loves still!—but no one-and nothing else!-You she still loves
"A half smile now, though of no very gay character, softened a little the severity of his features, while he tried to resume some cheerfulness in adding: As . . . she loves her little finger!'
"It was plain by this burlesque, or, perhaps, playfully