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but I continued to carry him till a quarrel among the clerks, which I was called to pacify, made a complete finish of the child, and nearly of me. The men were reconciled though, and my danger accelerated their reconcilement.
DEATH OF THRALE.
"Ir was by bleeding till he fainted that his life was saved." -Johnson, Aug. 24, 1780; Letters, vol. ii. p. 185.
Here is another allusion to that famous bleeding which certainly in Southwark did save the life of Mr. Thrale, and by its immediate effects ruined my nerves for ever.
Sir Richard however said: "We have paid his heavy debt this time, but he must eat prudently in future." No one however could control his appetite, which Sir Lucas Pepys, who was at Brighthelmstone, observing, commanded us to town, and took a house not 100 yards from his own for us, in Grosvenor Square, and I went every day to the Borough, whence Lancaster, a favourite clerk third in command, was run away with 1850l. Thither poor Dr. Delap followed me, begging a prologue to his new play, and I remember composing it in the coach, as I was driving up and down after Lancaster: but my business in Southwark was of far severer import.
Some fellow had incited our master to begin a new and expensive building to the amount of 20,000l., after the progress of which he was ever inquisitive, and kept
the plan of it in his bedchamber. So little did Dr. Johnson even then comprehend the strict awe I stood in of my first husband, that I well recollect his saying to me, 66 Madam! You should tear that foolish paper down: why 'tis like leaving a wench's loveletter in the apartments of a man whom you would wish to cure of his amorous passion." God knows I durst as well encounter death as disturb Mr. Thrale's loveletters or his building plans. The next grand agony was seeing him send out cards of invitation to a concert and supper on the 5th of April. He had himself charged Piozzi, who was the first to tell me, with care of the musical part of our entertainment, and had himself engaged the Parsees, a set of Orientals, who were shown at all the gay houses, -the lions of the day. I could but call my coadjutors, Jebb and Pepys; who tried to counteract this frolic, but in vain. They were obliged to compromise the matter by making him promise to leave town for Streatham immediately after the 5th. "Leave London! lose my Ranelagh season!" exclaimed their patient. "Why Sir, we wished you to be here, that our attendance might be more regular, and less expensive: but since we find you thus unmanageable, you are safest at a distance." Now, Johnson first began to see, or say he saw the danger, but now his lectures upon temperance came all too late. Poor Mr. Thrale answered him only by inquiring when lamprey season would come in? requesting Sir Philip, who was dining with us, to write his brother, the Prebendary of Worcester, a letter, begging from him the first fish of that kind the Severn should produce. I
winked at Sir Philip, but he, following us women half up stairs, said: "I understand you, Madam, but must disobey. A friend I have known thirty-six years shall not ask a favour of me in his last stage of life and be refused. What difference can it make?" Tears stood in his eyes, and my own prevented all answer. In effect, that day was Mr. Thrale's last! I saw him in Sir Richard's arms at midnight. Pepys came at ten, and never left the house till early light showed me the way to Streatham: and from thence, hoping still less disturbance, to Brighthelmstone: where we had a dwelling house of our own, and whither you will see the letters all addressed.
This was thirty-four or thirty-five years ago, yet did I never completely recover my strength of body or of mind again. I am sure I never did! The shocks of 1780 and 1781 are not yet either recovered or forgotten by poor H. L. P.
"POOR dear Dr. Collier."- Mrs. Thrale to Johnson, Aug. 10, 1780; Letters, vol. ii. p. 183.
Perhaps this is no improper place to observe that La Bruyère tells his readers with confidence how the firmest friendships will be always dissolved by the intervention of love seizing the heart of either party.* It may be so: but certainly the sentiment with which dear Dr. Collier inspired me in 1757 remains unaltered now in the year 1815. After my father's death my kind and prudent mother, resolving I should marry Mr. Thrale, and fearing possibly lest my Preceptor should foment any disinclination which she well knew would melt in her influence, or die in her displeasure, resolved to part us, and we met no more: but never have I failed remembering him with a preference as completely distinct from the venerating solicitude which hung heavily over my whole soul whilst connected with Doctor Johnson, as it was from the strong connubial duty that tied my every thought to Mr. Thrale's interest, or from the fervid and attractive passion which made twenty years passed in Piozzi's enchanting society seem like a happy
* "No friend like to a woman man discovers,
So that they have not been, nor may be, lovers."