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direction ; but I cannot receive my religion from any human hand. I desire however to be instructed, and am far from thinking myself perfect.
“I beg you to return the book when you have looked into it. should not have written what was in the margin, had I not had it from you, or had I not intended to show it you.
“ It affords me a new conviction, that in these books there is little new, except new forms of expression ; which may be sometimes taken, even by the writer, for new doctrines.
“I sincerely hope that God, whom you so much desire to serve aright, will bless you, and restore you to health, if he sees it best. Surely no human understanding can pray for any thing temporal otherwise than conditionally. Dear angel, do not forget me. My heart is full of tenderness.
“ It has pleased God to permit me to be much better ; which I believe will please you.
“Give me leave, who have thought much on medicine, to propose to you an easy, and I think a very probable remedy for indigestion and lubricity of the bowels. Dr. Lawrence has told me your case. Take an ounce of dried orange peel finely powdered, divide it into scruples, and take one scruple at a time in any manner; the best way is perhaps to drink it in a glass of hot red port, or to eat it first, and drink the wine after it. If you mix cinnamon or nutmeg with the powder, it were not worse ; but it will be more bulky, and so more troublesome. This is a medicine not disgusting, not costly, easily tried, and if not found useful, easily left off.
“I would not have you offer it to the doctor as mine. Physicians do not love intruders ; yet do not take it without his leave. But do not be easily put off, for it is in my opinion very likely to help you, and not likely to do you harm: do not take too much in haste; a scruple once in three hours, or about five scruples a day, will be sufficient to begin; or less, if you find any aversion. I think using sugar with it might be bad ; if syrup, use old syrup of quinces; but even that I do not like. I should think better of conserve of sloes. Has the doctor mentioned the bark? In powder you could hardly take it ; perhaps you might take the infusion.
“Do not think me troublesome, I am full of care. I love you and honour you, and am very unwilling to lose you. A Dieu je vous recommande. I am, madam, your, &c.
“My compliments to my dear Miss."
“ TO THE SAME.
(From Mrs. Piozzi's Collection, vol. ii. p. 391.)
" Ist January, 1755'. “ DEAREST MADAM,—Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my congratulations on the new year; and to declare my wishes, that your years to come may be many and happy. In this wish indeed I include myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes; yet surely I wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest madam, your, &c.”
" TO THE SAME.
(From Mrs. Piozzi's Collection, vol. ii. p. 392.)
“ (January 3d, 1756.] “ Dearest MADAM,-Nobody but you can recompense me for the distress which I suffered on Monday night. Having engaged Dr. Lawrence to let me know, at whatever hour, the state in which he left you; I concluded, when he stayed so long, that he stayed to see my dearest expire. I was composing myself as I could to hear what yet I hoped not to hear, when his servant brought me word that you were better. Do you continue to grow better? Let my dear little Miss inform me on a card. I would not have you write, lest it should hurt you, and consequently hurt likewise, dearest madam, yours, &c."
“ TO THE SAME.
“ Thursday, 8th January, 1756. “ HONOURED MADAM,—I beg of you to endeavour to live. I have returned your Law; which, however, I earnestly entreat you to give me. I am in great trouble; if you can write three words to me, be pleased to do it. I am afraid to say much, and cannot say nothing when my dearest is in danger.
“ The all-merciful God have mercy on you! I am, madam, your, &c.”
“Miss Boothby died Friday, January 16, 1756 ; upon whose death Dr. Johnson composed the following prayer. “Prayers and Meditations,' &c.
Hill Boothby's death, January, 1756.—O Lord God, Almighty disposer of all things, in whose hands are life and death, who givest com
(Johnson throughout his life was liable to the inadvertence of using the date of the old year in the first days of the new; and has evidently, the editor thinks, done so in this case; as it does not seem that Miss Boothby was ill in January, 1755.-Ed.]
forts and takest them away, I return thee thanks for the good example of Hill Boothby, whom thou hast now taken away; and implore thy grace that I may improve the opportunity of instruction which thou hast afforded me, by the knowledge of her life, and by the sense of her death; that I may consider the uncertainty of my present state, and apply myself earnestly to the duties which thou hast set before me, that, living in thy fear, I may die in thy favour, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“I commend, &c. W. and H. B'." “ Transcribed June 26, 1768 ?."
[On a close examination of the foregoing correspondence, it will be seen that the personal communications between Dr. Johnson and Miss Boothby were very limited, and that even during her few and short visits to London their intercourse was hardly as frequent as politeness would have required from common acquaintances.
The Editor admits that several of Miss Boothby's letters contain expressions which, if we did not consider the ages of the parties and all the other circumstances of the case, would sound like something more tender than mere platonism ; but the slight intercourse between them during the lady's subsequent visits to town seems to refute that inference.
The general phraseology of Johnson’s notes, and the terms “ dearest” and “my angel,” seem strange ; but it must be recollected that dearest dear, and similar superlatives of tenderness, were usual with him in addressing Miss Reynolds and other ladies for whom he confessedly felt nothing but friendship; and they were addressed to Miss Boothby when she was dying, and when the hearts of both were softened by sickness and affliction, and warmed by spiritual communication.
As to the supposed rivalry between him and Lord Lyttelton for Miss Boothby's favour (see ante, vol. i. p. 51, and post, vol. iv. p. 427), it must be either a total mistake or an absurd exaggeration. Lord Lyttelton was, during the whole of the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson and Miss Boothby, a married man, fondly attached to his wife, and remarkable for the punctilious propriety of his moral conduct; and the preference shown by Miss Boothby, and which is said to have rankled in Johnson's heart, could have been nothing more than some incident in a morning visit, when Lord Lyttelton and Johnson may have met in Cavendish-square, (for it seems certain that they never met in the country). We have seen in the cases of Lord Chester
[These initials mean, no doubt, Mr. Williams, who died a few months before, and Hill Boothby.--En.)
? [It is not easy to say why Dr. Johnson marked several of his prayers, as transcribed. Such a fact appears quite immaterial, but no doubt had some particular object.-ED.)
field (vol. i. p. 244 and note) and of Miss Cotterell (vol. i. p. 227) how touchy Johnson was on such occasions, and how ready he was to take offence at any thing that looked like slight. Some preference or superior respect shown by Miss Boothby to Lord Lyttelton's rank and public station (he was chancellor of the exchequer in 1755) no doubt offended the sensitive pride of Johnson, and occasioned the dislike which he confessed to Mrs. Thrale he felt for Lord Lyttelton ; but an amorous rivalry between them is not only absurd but impossible.-Ed.]
END OF VOL. IV.