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LETTER XXXIX. To Mrs. Thrale.
Ashbourne, June 14, 1779. Your account of Mr. Thrale's illness is very terrible; but when I remember that he seems to have it peculiar to his constitution, that whatever distemper he has, he always has his head affected, I am less frighted. The seizure was, I think, not apoplectical, but hysterical, and therefore not dangerous to life. I would have you however consult such physicians as you think you can best trust. Bromfield seems to have done well, and by his practice appears not to suspect an apoplexy. That is a solid and fundamental comfort. I remember Dr. Marsigli, an Italian physician, whose seizure was more violent than Mr. Thrale's, for he fell down helpless, but his case was not considered as of much danger, and he went safe home, and is now a professor at Padua. His fit was considered as only hysterical.
I hope Sir Philip, who franked your letter, comforts you as well as Mr. Seward. If I can comfort you, I will come to you, but I hope you are now no longer in want of any help to be happy. I am, &c.
The Doctor sends his compliments; he is one of the people that are growing old.
LETTER XL. TO Mrs. Thrale.
Ashbourne, June 14, 1779. How near we all are to extreme danger. We are merry or sad, or busy or idle, and forget that death is hovering over us. You are a dear lady for writing again. The case, as you now describe it, is worse than I conceived it when I read your first letter. It is still however not apoplectick, but seems to have something worse than hysterical, a tendency to a palsy, which I hope however is now
I am glad that you have Heberden, and hope we are all safer. I am the more alarmed by this violent seizure, as I can impute it to no wrong practices, or intemperance of any kind, and therefore know not how any defence or preservative can be obtained. Mr. Thrale has certainly less exercise than when he followed the foxes, but he is very far from unwieldiness or inactivity, and further still from any vicious or dangerous excess. I fancy, however, he will do well to ride more.
Do, dear Madam, let me know every post how he goes on. Such sudden violence is
dreadful; we know not by what it is let loose upon us, nor by what its effects are limited.
If my coming can either assist or divert, or be useful to any purpose, let me but know. I will soon be with you.
Mrs. Kennedy, Queeney's Baucis, ended last week a long life of disease and poverty. She had been married about fifty years.
Dr. Taylor is not much amiss, but always complaining. I am, &c.
LETTER XLI. To Mr. Thrale.
Lichfield, June 23, 1779. To show you how well I think of your health, I have sent you a hundred pounds to keep for me. It will come within one day of quarter day, and that day you must give me. I came by it in a very uncommon manner, and would not confound it with the rest.
My wicked mistress talks as if she thought it possible for me to be indifferent or negligent about your health or hers. If I could have done any good, I had not delayed an hour to come to you, and I will come very soon to try if my advice can be of any use, or my company
What can be done you must do for yourself; do not let any uneasy thought settle in your mind. Cheerfulness and exercise are your great remedies. Nothing is for the present worth your anxiety. Vivite læti is one of the great rules of health. I believe it will be good to ride often, but never to weariness, for weariness is itself a temporary resolution of the nerves, and is therefore to be avoided. Labour is exercise continued to fatigue -exercise is labour used only while it produces pleasure.
Above all, keep your mind quiet, do not think with earnestness even of your health, but think on such things as may please without too much agitation ; among which I hope is, dear Sir, your, &c.
LETTER XLII. TO Mrs. Thrale.
On Sunday I dined with poor Lawrence, who is deafer than ever. When he was told that Dr. Moisy visited Mr. Thrale, he inquired for what? and said there was nothing to be done, which Nature would not do for herself. On Sunday evening I was at Mrs. Vesey's, and there was inquiry about my master, but I told them all good. There was Dr. Bernard of Eaton, and we made a noise all the evening; and there was Pepys, and Wraxal till I drove him away. And I have no loss of my mistress, who laughs and frisks, and frolicks it all the long day, and never thinks of
If Mr. Thrale will but continue to mend, we shall, I hope, come together again, and do as good things as ever we did; but perhaps you will be made too proud to heed me, and yet as I have often told you, it will not be easy for you to find such another,
Queeney has been a good girl, and wrote me a letter; if Burney said she would write, she told you a fib. She writes nothing to me.
She can write home fast enough. I have a good mind not to let her know, that Dr. Bernard, to whom I had recommended her novel, speaks of it with great commendation, and that the copy which she lent me, has been read by Dr. Lawrence three times
And yet what a gipsy it is. more minds me than if I were a Brangton. Pray speak to Queeney to write again.
I have had a cold and a cough, and taken opium, and think I am better. We have had very
cold weather; bad riding weather for my master, but he will surmount it all. Did Mrs. Browne make any reply to your comparison of business with solitude, or did you quite down her? I am much pleased to think that Mrs. Cotton thinks me worth a frame, and a place upon her wall; her kindness was hardly within my hope, but time does wonderful things. All my fear is, that if I should come again, my print would be taken down. I fear I shall never hold it.
Who dines with you? Do you see Dr. Woodward or Dr. Harrington? Do you go to the house where they write for the myrtle ? You are at all places of high resort, and bring home hearts by dozens; while I am seeking for something to say about men of whom I know nothing but their verses, and sometimes very little of them. Now I have begun, however, I do not despair of making an end.
Mr. Nicholls holds that Addison is the most taking of all that I have done. I doubt they will not be done before you come away.
Now you think yourself the first writer in the world for a letter about nothing. Can you write such a letter as this? So miscellaneous, with such noble disdain of regularity, like Shakespeare's works; such graceful negligence of transition, like the ancient enthusiasts? The pure voice of nature and of friendship. Now of whom shall I proceed to speak? Of whom but Mrs. Montague ? Having mentioned Shakespeare and Nature, does not the name of Montague force itself upon me? Such were the transitions of the ancients, which now seem abrupt, because the intermediate idea is lost