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To Mrs. Thrale.
Nov. 23, 1772. 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. 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.
Nov. 27, 1772. If you are so kind as to write to me on Saturday, the day on which you will receive this, I shall have it before I leave Ashbourne. I am to go to Lichfield on Wednesday, and purpose to find my way to London through Birmingham and Oxford.
I was yesterday at Chatsworth. It is a very fine house. I wish you had been with me to see it; for then, as we are apt to want matter of talk, we should have gained something new to talk on. They complimented me with playing the fountain, and opening the cascade. But I am of my friend's opinion, that when one has seen the ocean, cascades are but little things.
I am in hope of a letter to-day from you or Queeney, but the post has made some blunder, and the packet is not yet distributed. I wish it may bring me a little good of you all. I am, &c.
LETTER XII. To the same.
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 1773. The inequalities of human life have always employed the meditation of deep thinkers, and I cannot forbear to reflect on the difference between your condition and my own. You live upon mock turtle, and stewed rumps of beef; I dined yesterday upon crumpets. You sit with parish officers, caressing and caressed, the idol of the table, and
the wonder of the day. I pine in the solitude of sickness, not bad enough to be pitied, and not well enough to be endured. You sleep away the night, and laugh or scold away the day. I cough and grumble, and grumble and cough. Last night was very tedious, and this day makes no promises of much ease. However, I have this day put on my shoe, and hope that gout is gone. I shall have only the cough to contend with, and I doubt whether I shall get rid of that without change of place. I caught cold in the coach as I went away, and am disordered by very little things. Is it accident or age? I am, dearest Madam, &c.
LETTER XIII. TO Mrs. Thrale.
March 17, 1773. To tell you that I am sorry both for the poor lady and for you is useless. I cannot help either of you. The weakness of mind is perhaps only a casual interruption or intermission of the attention, such as we all suffer when some weighty care or urgent calamity has possession of the mind. She will compose herself. She is unwilling to die, and the first conviction of approaching death raised great perturbation. I think she has but very lately thought death close at hand. She will compose herself to do that as well as she can, which must at last be done. May she not want the Divine assistance.
You, Madam, will have a great loss; a greater · than is common in the loss of a parent, Fill your mind with hope of her happiness, and turn your
thoughts first to Him who gives and takes away, in whose presence the living and dead are standing together. Then remember, that when this mournful duty is paid, others yet remain of equal obligation, and, we may hope, of less painful performance. Grief is a species of idleness, and the necessity of attention to the present preserves us, by the merciful disposition of Providence, from being lacerated and devoured by sorrow for the past. You must think on your husband and your children, and do what this dear lady has done for you.
Not to come to town while the great struggle continues is undoubtedly well resolved. But do not harass yourself into danger; you owe the care of your health to all that love you, at least to all whom it is your duty to love. You cannot give such a mother too much, if you do not give her what belongs to another. I am, &c.
LETTER XIV. To the same.
April 27, 1773. Hope is more pleasing than fear, but not less fallacious; you know, when you do not try to deceive yourself, that the disease which at last is to destroy, must be gradually growing worse, and that it is vain to wish for more than that the descent to death may be slow and easy. In this wish I join with you, and hope it will be granted. Dear, dear lady, whenever she is lost she will be missed, and whenever she is remembered she will be lamented. Is it a good or an evil to me that she now loves me? It is surely a good; for you will love me better, and we shall have a new principle of concord; and I shall be happier with honest sorrow, than with sullen indifference; and far happier still than with counterfeited sympathy.
I am reasoning upon a principle very far from certain, a confidence of survivance. You or I, or both, may be called into the presence of the Supreme Judge before her. I have lived a life of which I do not like the review. Surely I shall in time live better.
I sat down with an intention to write high compliments, but my thoughts have taken another course, and some other time must now serve to tell you with what other emotions, benevolence, and fidelity, I am, &c.
LETTER XV. To Mrs. Thrale.
May 17, 1773. NEVER imagine that your letters are long; they are always too short for my curiosity. I do not know that I was ever content with a single perusal.
Of dear Mrs. Salusbury I never expect much better news than
de pis en pis is the natural and certain course of her dreadful malady. I am content when it leaves her ease enough for the exercise of her mind.
Why should Mr. ***** suppose that what I took the liberty of suggesting was concerted with you ? He does not know how much I revolve his