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winter. I am now not without hopes that we shall once more see one another.
“Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb and Miss Adey, and to all my friends, particularly to Mr. Pearson. I am, my dear, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. GASTRELL AND MISS ASTON.
“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, London, 11th March, 1784. “ DEAR LADIES,—The kind and speedy answer with which you favoured me to my last letter encourages me to hope that you will be glad to hear again that my recovery advances. My disorders are an asthma and dropsy. The asthma gives me no great trouble when I am not in motion, and the water of the dropsy has passed away in so happy a manner, by the goodness of God, as Dr. Heberden declares himself not to have known more than four times in all his practice. I have been confined to the house from December the 14th, and shall not venture out till the weather is settled; but I have this day dressed myself as before I became ill. Join with me in returning thanks, and pray for me that the time now granted me may not be ill spent.
“ Let me now, dear ladies, have some account of you. Tell me how you have endured this long and sharp winter, and give me hopes that we may all meet again with kindness and cheerfulness. I am, dear ladies, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."]
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, 18th March, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,-I am too much pleased with the attention which you and your dear lady' show to my welfare, not to be diligent in letting you know the progress which I make towards health. The dropsy, by God's blessing, has now run almost totally away by natural evacuation: and the asthma, if not irritated by cold, gives me little trouble. While I am writing this I have not any sensation of debility or disease. But I do not yet venture out, having been confined to the house from the 13th of December, now a quarter of a year.
" When it will be fit for me to travel as far as Auchinleck I am not able to guess; but such a letter as Mrs. Boswell's might draw any man not wholly motionless a great way. Pray tell
Who had written him a very kind letter. - Boswell.
the dear lady how much her civility and kindness have touched and gratified me.
“Our parliamentary tumults have now begun to subside, and the king's authority is in some measure re-established. Mr. Pitt will have great power'; but you must remember that what he has to give must, at least for some time, be given to those who gave, and those who
power. A new minister can sacrifice little to esteem or friendship: he must, till he is settled, think only of extending his interest.
“ If you come hither through Edinburgh, send for Mrs. Stewart, and give from me another guinea for the letter in the old case, to which I shall not be satisfied with my claim till she gives it me.
“ Please to bring with you Baxter's Anacreon; and if you procure heads of Hector Boece, the historian, and Arthur Johnston”, the poet, I will put them in my room; or any other of the fathers of Scottish literature.
"I wish you an easy and happy journey, and hope I need not tell
will be welcome to, dear sir, your most affectionate humble servant,
- SAM. JOHNSON."
[“ TO MRS. THRALE.
“ London, 20th March, 1784. “ MADAM,—Your last letter had something of tenderness. P. 354. The accounts which you have had of my danger and distress were I suppose not aggravated. I have been confined ten weeks with an asthma and dropsy. But I am now better. God has in his mercy granted me a reprieve ; for how much time his mercy must determine.
« On the 19th of last month I evacuated twenty pints of water, and I think I reckon exactly. From that time the tumour has subsided, and I now begin to move with some freedom. You will easily believe that I am still at a great distance from health ; but I am, as my chirurgeon expressed it, amazingly better. Heberden seems to have great hopes.
“ Write to me no more about dying with a grace. When you feel what I have felt in approaching eternity-in fear of soon hearing the sentence of which there is no revocation-you will know the folly: my wish is that you may know it sooner. The
[Mr. Boswell does not give us his letter, to which this is an answer; but it is clear that he expressed some too sanguine hopes of preferment from Mr. Pitt, whose favour, as we have just seen, he had endeavoured to propitiate. See ante, p. 153, n. --Ed.]
· [See ante, vol. ii. p. 328. En.]
distance between the grave and the remotest part of human longevity is but a very little ; and of that little no path is certain. You know all this, and I thought that I knew it too ; but I know it now with a new conviction. May that new conviction not be vain !
“ I am now cheerful. I hope this approach to recovery is a token of the Divine mercy. My friends continue their kindI give a dinner to-morrow. I am, madam, your, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”]
I wrote to him, March 28, from York, informing him that I had a high gratification in the triumph of monarchical principles over aristocratical influence, in that great county, in an address to the king; that I was thus far on my way to him, but that news of the dissolution of parliament having arrived, I was to hasten back to my own county, where I had carried an address to his majesty by a great majority, and had some intention of being a candidate to represent the county in parliament.
66 TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, 30th March, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—You could do nothing so proper as to hasten back when you found the parliament dissolved. With the influence which
may reasonably be expected that your presence will be of importance, and your activity of effect.
“ Your solicitude for me gives me that pleasure which every man feels from the kindness of such a friend ; and it is with delight I relieve it by telling that Dr. Brocklesby's account is true, and that I am, by the blessing of God, wonderfully relieved.
“ You are entering upon a transaction which requires much prudence. You must endeavour to oppose without exasperating; to practise temporary hostility, without producing enemies for life. This is, perhaps, hard to be done; yet it has been done by many, and seems most likely to be effected by opposing merely upon general principles, without descending to personal or particular censures or objections. One thing I must enjoin you, which is seldom observed in the conduct of elections; I must entreat you to be scrupulous in the use of
strong liquors. One night's drunkenness may defeat the labours of forty days well employed. Be firm, but not clamorous; be active, but not malicious; and you may form such an interest, as may not only exalt yourself, but dignify your family.
“We are, as you may suppose, all busy here. Mr. Fox resolutely stands for Westminster, and his friends say
carry the election'. However that be, he will certainly have a seat. Mr. Hoole has just told me, that the city leans towards the king
“Let me hear, from time to time, how you are employed, and what progress you
make. “ Make dear Mrs. Boswell, and all the young Boswells, the sincere compliments of, sir, your affectionate humble servant,
6 SAM. JOHNSON."
To Mr. Langton he wrote with that cordiality which was suitable to the long friendship which had subsisted between him and that gentleman.
“ DR. JOHNSON TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ.
“27th March, 1784. “Since you left me I have continued, in my own opinion, and in Dr. Brocklesby's, to grow better, with respect to all my formidable and dangerous distempers; though, to a body battered and shaken as mine has lately been, it is to be feared that weak attacks
be sometimes mischievous. I have, indeed, by standing carelessly at an open window, got a very troublesome cough, which it has been necessary to appease by opium, in larger quantities than I like to take, and I have not found it give way so readily as I expected: its obstinacy, however, seems at last disposed to submit to the remedy, and I know not whether I should then have a right to complain of any morbid sensation. My asthma is, I am afraid, constitutional and incurable; but it is only occasional, and, unless it be excited by labour or by cold, gives me no molestation, nor does it lay very close siege to life; for Sir John Floyer, whom the physical race consider as authour of one of the best books upon it, panted on to ninety, as was supposed. And why were we content with supposing a fact so interesting of a man so conspicuous ? Because he corrupted, at perhaps seventy or eighty, the register, that he might pass
He was not much
[Mr. Fox was returned for Westminster, after a sharp election and a tedious scrutiny.--Ed.) VOL. V.
less than eighty, when to a man of rank, who modestly asked his age, he answered, 'Go look ;' though he was in general a man of civility and elegance. “ The ladies, I find, are at your house all well,
except Miss Langton, who will probably soon recover her health by light suppers. Let her eat at dinner as she will, but not take a full stomach to bed. Pay my sincere respects to dear Miss Langton in Lincolnshire ; let her know that I mean not to break our league of friendship, and that I have a set of Lives for her, when I have the means of sending it.”
“ 8th April.
“I am still disturbed by my cough; but what thanks have I not to pay, when my cough is the most painful sensation that I feel? and from that I expect hardly to be released, while winter continues to gripe us with so much pertinacity. The year has now advanced eighteen days beyond the equinox, and still there is very little remission of the cold. When warm weather comes, which surely must come at last, I hope it will help both me and your young lady.
“ The man so busy about addresses is neither more nor less than our own Boswell, who had come as far as York towards London, but turned back on the dissolution, and is said now to stand for some place. Whether to wish him success his best friends hesitate.
“ Let me have your prayers for the completion of my recovery. I am now better than I ever expected to have been. May God add to his mercies the grace that may enable me to use them according to his will. My compliments to all."
- 13th April. “ I had this evening a note from Lord Portmore, desiring that I would give you an account of my health. You might have had it with less circumduction. I am, by God's blessing, I believe, free from all morbid sensations, except a cough,
which is only troublesome. But I am still weak, and can have • no great hope of strength till the weather shall be softer. The
summer, if it be kindly, will, I hope, enable me to support the winter. God, who has so wonderfully restored me, can preserve me in all seasons. “Let me inquire in my turn after the state of
your great and little. I hope Lady Rothes and Miss Langton are both well. That is a good basis of content. George on with his studies? How does Miss Mary? And how does my own Jenny? I think I owe Jenny a letter, which I
Then how goes