« PreviousContinue »
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, 22 October. “ I believe you had been long enough acquainted with the phænomena of sickness not to be surprised that a sick man wishes to be where he is not, and where it appears to every body but himself that he might easily be, without having the resolution to remove. I thought Ashbourn a solitary place, but did not come hither till last Monday. I have here more company,
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 powerful attractive to, sir, your most humble servant.”
" TO MR. PERKINS.
“ Lichfield, 4th October, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,–I cannot but flatter myself that your
kindness for me will make 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 passed the first part of the summer at Oxford, afterwards I went to Lichfield, thence to Ashbourn 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. Barclay. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
- TO THE RIGHT HON. WILLIAM GERARD HAMILTON.
- Lichfield, 20th October, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—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 physick 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 topicks of merriment, or new incitements to curiosity. I am, dear sir, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
" TO JOHN PARADISE, ESQ. 1
" Lichfield, 27th October, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—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 possible for me to 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 wouid 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
1 Son of the late Peter Paradise, Esq. his Britannick 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 wellinformed and accomplished persons of almost all nations...Boswell. (See ante, vol. i. p. 34.-Ed.) ,
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·.
“ Ashbourn, 19th August, 1784. “DEAR SIR,—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. I hope I shall again enjoy my friends, and that you and I shall have a little more literary conversation.
Where I now am, every thing is very liberally provided for me but conversation. My friend is sick himself, and the reciprocation of complaints and groans affords 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.
"Ashbourn, 4th September, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,--Do not suppose that I forget you: I hope I
Ι 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
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.
“ 14th August “ 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 comforts but the duties of life. Make my compliments to Mrs. Davies.—Poor dear Allen !-he was a good man.”
1 Bookseller to his majesty.-BOSWELL.
" TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
“Ashbourn, 21st July. “ The tenderness with which I am treated by my friends makes it reasonable to suppose that they are desirous to know the state of my health, and a desire so benevolent ought to be gratified.—I came to Lichfield in two days without any painful fatigue, and on Monday came hither, where I purpose to stay
I and try what air and regularity will effect. I cannot yet persuade myself that I have made' much progress in recovery. My sleep is little, my breath is very much encumbered, and my legs are very weak. The water has increased a little, but has again run off. The most distressing symptoin is want of sleep.”
“ 19th August “Having had since our separation little to say that could please you or myself by saying, I have not been lavish of useless letters; but I flatter myself that you will partake of the pleasure with which I can now tell you that, about a week ago, I felt suddenly a sensible remission of my asthma, and consequently a greater lightness of action and motion. Of this grateful alleviation I know not the cause, nor dare depend upon its continuance; but while it lasts I endeavour to enjoy it, and am desirous of communicating, while it lasts, my pleasure to my friends. Hitherto, dear sir, I had written before the post, which stays in this town but a little while, brought me your letter. Mr. Davies seems to have represented my little tendency to recovery in terms too splendid. I am still restless, still weak, still watery, but the asthma is less oppressive.- Poor Ramsay!! On which side soever I turn, mortality presents its formidable frown. I left three old friends at Lichfield when I was last there, and now found them all dead. I no sooner lost sight of dear Allan, than I am told that I shall see him no more. That we must all die, we always knew: I wish I had sooner remembered it. Do not think me intrusive or importunate, if I now call, dear sir, on you to remember it."
1 Allan Ramsay, Esq. painter to his majesty, who died August 10, 1784, in the seventy-first year of his age, much regretted by his friends. --BOSWELL.
“ 2d September. “I am glad that a little favour from the court has intercepted your furious purposes?. I could not in any case have approved such publick violence of resentment, and should have considered any who encouraged it as rather seeking sport for themselves than honour for you. Resentment gratifies him who intended an injury, and pains him unjustly who did not intend it. But all this is now superfluous.- I still continue, by God's mercy, to mend. My breath is easier, my nights are quieter, and my legs are less in bulk and stronger in use. I have, however, yet a great deal to overcome before I can.yet attain even an old man's health.—Write, do write to me now and then. We are now old acquaintance, and perhaps few people have lived so much and so long together with less cause of complaint on either side. The retrospection of this is very pleasant, and I hope we shall never think on each other with less kindness."
“ 9th September. “I could not answer your letter before this day, because I went on the sixth to Chatsworth, and did not come back till the post was gone. Many words, I hope, are not necessary between you and me to convince you what gratitude is excited in my heart by the chancellor’s liberality and your kind offices. I did not indeed expect that what was asked by the chancellor would have been refused? ; but since it has, we will not tell that any thing has been asked.--I have enclosed a letter to the chancellor, which, when you have read it, you will be pleased to seal with a head or other general seal, and convey it to him. Had I sent it directly to him, I should have seemed to overlook the favour of your intervention.-My last letter told you of my advance in health, which, I think, in the whole still continues. Of the hydropick tumour there is now very little appearance: the asthma is much less troublesome, and seems to remit something day after day. I do not despair of supporting an English winter.–At Chatsworth, I met young Mr. Burke, who led me very commodiously into conversation with the duke and duchess. We had a very good morning. The dinner was publick.”
· [This no doubt refers to the squabbles in the Academy, and an intention of Sir Joshua to resign the chair; a purpose, however, which he executed in Feb. 1790, but he resunied it again within a month.-ED.]
? [See ante, p. 261, et seq. There is some obscurity in this matter. pears that Sir Joshua understocd Lord Thurlow in his verbal communication (ante, p. 262) to have represented his request as rejected, though in the letter of the 18th November he says the contrary. Perhaps the solution may be, that Lord Thurlow happened at the moment to be, as he often was, on bad terms with Mr. Pitt, in whose special department the increase of a pension would be, and that he did not like to speak to him on the subject.Ed.]