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LETTER III. To the Same.
Lichfield, July 20, 1767. Though I have been away so much longer than I
purposed or expected, I have found nothing that withdraws my affections from the friends whom I left behind, or which makes me less desirous of reposing at that place which your
kindness and Mr. Thrale's allows me to call
Miss Lucy* is more kind and civil than I expected, and has raised my esteem by many excellencies very noble and resplendent, though a little discoloured by hoary virginity. Every thing else recalls to my remembrance years, in which I proposed what, I am afraid, I have not done, and promised myself pleasure which I have not found. But complaint can be of no use; and why then should I depress your hopes by my lamentations? I suppose it is the condition of humanity to design whạt never will be done, and to hope what never will be obtained. But among the vain hopes, let me not number the hope which I have, of being long, dear Madam, your, &c.
LETTER IV. To Mrs. THŘALE.
Lichfield, August 14, 1769. I set out on Thursday morning, and found my companion, to whom I was very much a stranger, more agreeable than I expected. We went cheerfully forward, and passed the night at Coventry. We came in late, and went out early; and therefore I did not send for my cousin Tom; but I design to make him some amends for the omission.
Next day we came early to Lucy, who was, I believe, glad to see us.
She had saved her best gooseberries upon the tree for me; and, as Steele says, I was neither too proud nor too wise to gather them. I have rambled a very little inter fontes et flumina nota, but I am not yet well. They have cut down the trees in George-lane. Evelyn,
* Miss Lucy Porter, daughter to Dr. Johnson's wife by a former husband, VOL. VI.
in his book of Forest Trees, tells us of wicked men that cut down trees, and never prospered afterwards; yet nothing has deterred these audacious aldermen from violating the Hamadryads of George-lane. As an impartial traveller I must however tell, that, in Stow-street, where I left a draw-well, I have found a pump; but the lading-well in this ill-fated George-lane lies shamefully neglected.
I am going to-day or to-morrow to Ashbourne; but I am at a loss how I shall get back in time to London Here are only chance coaches, so that there is no certainty of a place. If I do not come, let it not binder your journey. I can be but a few days behind you; and I will follow in the Brighthelmstone coach. But I hope to come.
I took care to tell Miss Porter, that I have got another Lucy. I hope she is well. Tell Mrs. Salusbury, that I beg her stay at Streatham, for little Lucy's sake. I am, &c.
LETTER V. To the Same.
Lichfield, July 11, 1770. Since my last letter, nothing extraordinary has happened. Rheumatism, which has been very troublesome, is grown better. I have not yet seen Dr. Taylor, and July
away. I shall not have much time for him, if he delays much longer to come or send. Mr. Green, the apothecary, has found a book, which tells who paid levies in our parish, and how much they paid, above a hundred years ago. Do you not think we study this book hard? Nothing is like going to the bottom of things. Many families that paid the parish-rates are now extinct, like the race of Hercules.
Pulvis et umbra sumus. What is nearest us touches us most. The passions rise higher at domestick than at imperial tragedies. I am not wholly unaffected by the revolutions of Sadler-street; nor can forbear to mourn a little when old' names vanish
and new come into their place.
. Do not imagine, Madam, that I wrote this letter for the sake of these philosophical meditations; for when I began
it, I had neither Mr. Green, nor his book, in my thoughts ; but was resolved to write, and did not know what I had to send, but my respects to Mrs. Salusbury, and Mr. Thrale, and Harry, and the Misses. I am, dearest Madam, your, &c.
LETTER VI. TO Mrs. THRALE.
Ashbourne, July 23, 1770. THERE had not been so long an interval between my two last letters, but that when I came hither I did not at first understand the hours of the post.
I have seen the great bull; and very great he is. I have seen likewise his heir-apparent, who promises to inherit all the bulk and all the virtues of his sire. I have seen the man who offered a hundred guineas for the young bull, while he was yet little better than a calf. Matlock, I am afraid, I shall not see, but I purpose to see Dovedale; and after all this seeing, I hope to see you.
LETTER VII. To the Same.
Ashbourne, July 3, 1771. Last Saturday I came to Ashbourne; the dangers or the pleasures of the journey I have at present no disposition to recount; else might I paint the beauties of my native plains; might I tell of the “smiles of nature, and the charms of art:” else might I relate how I crossed the Staffordshire canal, one of the great efforts of human labour, and human contrivance; which, from the bridge on which I viewed it, passed away on either side, and loses itself in distant regions, uniting waters that nature had divided, and dividing lands which nature had united. I might tell how these reflections fermented in my mind till the chaise stopped at Ashbourne, at Ashbourne in the Peak. Let not the barren name of the Peak terrify you; I have never wanted strawberries and cream. The great bull has no disease but age.
I hope in time to be like the great bull and hope you will be like him too a hundred
hence. I am, &c.
LETTER VIII. TO Mrs. THRALE.
Ashbourne, July 10, 1771. I am obliged to my friend Harry; for his remembrance but think it a little hard that I hear nothing from Miss.
There has been a man here to-day to take a farm. After some talk he went to see the bull, and said that he had seen a bigger. Do you think he is likely to get the farm?
Toujours strawberries and cream.
Dr. Taylor is much better, and my rheumatism is less painful. Let me hear in return as much good of
and of Mrs. Salusbury. You despise the Dog and Duck; things that are at hand are always slighted. I remember that Dr. Grevil, of Gloucester, sent for that water when his wife was in the same danger; but he lived near Malvern, and you live near the Dog and Duck. Thus, in difficult cases, we naturally trust most what we least know.
Why Bromefield, supposing that a lotion can do good, should despise laurel-water in comparison with his own receipt, I do not see; and see still less why he should laugh at that which Wall thinks efficacious. I am afraid philosophy will not warrant much hope in a lotion.
Be pleased to make my compliments from Mrs. Salusbury to Susy. I am, &c.
October 31, 1772.
MADAM, Though I am just informed, that, by some accidental negligence, the letter which I wrote on Thursday was not given to the post, yet I cannot refuse myself the gratification of writing again to my mistress; not that I have any thing to tell, but that by shewing how much I am employed upon you, I hope to keep you from forgetting me.
Doctor Taylor asked me this morning on what I was thinking ? and I was thinking on Lucy. I hope Lucy is a good girl. But she cannot yet be so good as Queeney. I have got nothing yet for Queeney's cabinet.
I hope dear Mrs. Salusbury grows no worse.
I wish any thing could be found that would make her better. You must remember her admonition, and bustle in the brewhouse. When I come, you may expect to have your hands full with all of us.
Our bulls and cows are all well; but we yet hate the man that had seen a bigger bull. Our deer have died ; but many are left. Our waterfall at the garden makes a great roaring this wet weather.
And so no more at present from, Madam, your, &c.
LETTER X. To Mrs. THRALE.
Nov. 23, 1772.
DEAR MADAM, I am sorry that none of your letters bring better news of the poor dear lady. I hope her pain is not great. To have a disease confessedly incurable and apparently mortal, is a very heavy affliction; and it is still more grievous when pain is added to despair.
Every thing else in your letter pleased me very well, except that when I come I entreat I may not be flattered, as your letters flatter me. You have read of heroes and princes ruined by flattery, and I question if any of them had a flatterer so dangerous as you. Pray keep strictly to your character of governess.
I cannot yet get well; my nights are flatulent and unquiet, but my days are tolerably easy, and Taylor says that I look much better than when I came hither. You will see when I come, and I can take your word.
Our house affords no revolutions. The great bull is well. But I write not merely to think on you, for I do that without writing, but to keep you a little thinking on me. I perceive that I have taken a broken piece of paper, but that is not the greatest fault that you must forgive in, Madam, your, &c.