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tinguish the tempers, dispositions, and abilities of your companions.
A letter may be always made out of the books of the morning or talk of the evening; and any letters from you, my dearest, will be welcome to your, &c. ,
LETTER XIII. .
DR. JOHNSON TÓ MISS SOPHIA THRALE,
DEAREST MISS SOPHY, London, July 24, 1783. By an absence from home, and for one reason and another, I owe a great number of letters, and I assure you that I sit down to write yours first. Why you should think yourself not a favourite I cannot guess; my favour will, I am afraid, never be worth much; but be its value more or less, you are never likely to lose it, and less likely if you continue your studies with the same diligence as you have begun them.
Your proficiency in arithmetic is not only to be commended, but admired. Your master does not, I suppose, come very often, nor stay very long; yet your advance in the science of numbers is greater than is commonly made by those who, for 80 many weeks as you have been learning, spend six hours a day in the writing-school.
Never think, my sweet, that you have arithmetic enough; when you have exhausted your master, buy books. Nothing amuses more harmlessly than computation, and nothing is oftener applicable to real business or speculative inquiries. A
thousand stories which the ignorant tell, and be. lieve, die away at once, when the computist takes them in his gripe. I hope you will cultivate in yourself a disposition to numerical inquiries; they will give you entertainment in solitude by the practice, and repatation in public by the effect.
If you can borrow Wilkin's Real Character, a folio, which the bookseller can perhaps let you have, you will have a very curious calculation, which you are qualified to consider, to show that Noah's ark was capable of holding all the known animals of the world, with provision for all the time in wiich the earth was under water. Let me hear from you soon again. I am, madam, your, &c.
DR. JOHNSON Tơ Miss SUSANNAH THƯALB.
DEAR MISS SUSAN,
London, July 26, 1783. I ANSWER your letter last, because it was received last; and when I have answered it, I am out of debt to your house. A short negligence throws one behind hand. This maxin, it you consider and improve it, will be equivalent to your Parson and Bird, which is however a very good story, as it shows how far gluttony may proceed, which, where it prevails, is I think more violent, and certainly more despicable, than avarice itself.
Gluttony is, I think, less common among women, than among men. Women commonly eat more sparingly, and are less curious in the choice
of meat; but if once you find a woman gluttonous, expect from her very little virtue. Her nind is enslaved to the lowest and grossest temptation.
A friend of mine, who courted a lady, of whom he did not know much, was advised to see her eat, and if she was voluptuous at table, to forsake her. He married her, however, and in a few weeks came to bis adviser with this exclamation, “ It is the disturbance of my life to see this woman eat !" She was, as might be expected, selfish and brutal, and after some years of discord they parted, and I believe came together no more.
Of men, the examples are sufficiently common. I had a friend, of great eminence in the learned and the witty world, who had hung up some pots on his wall to furnish nests for sparrows. The poor sparrows, not knowing his character, were seduced by the convenience : and I never heard any man speak of any future enjoyment with such contortions of delight as he exhibited, when he talked of eating the young ones.
When you do me the favour to write again, tell me something of your studies, your work, or your amusements. I am, madam, your, &c.
London, Nov. 13, 1789. SINCE you have written to me with the attention and tenderness of ancient time, your letters give me a great part of the pleasure which a life of solitude admits. You will never bestow any share of your good-will on one who deserves' better. Those that have loved longest love best. A sudden blaze of kindness may by a single blast of coldness be extinguished; but that fondness which length of time has connected with many circumstances and occasions, though it may for a while be suppressed by disgust or resentment, with or without a cause, is hourly revived by accidental recollection. To those that have lived long together, every thing heard and every thing seen recals some pleasure communicated, or some benefit conferred, some petty quarrel, or some slight en. dearment. Esteem of great powers, or amiable qualities newly discovered, may embroider a day or a week, but a friendship of twenty years is interwoven with the texture of life. A friend may be often found and lost, but an old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.
I have not forgotten the Davenants, though they seem to have forgotten me. I began very early to tell then what they have commonly found to be true. I am sorry to hear of their building. I have always warned those whom I loved against that mode of osteptatious waste.
You seem to mention Lord Kilmurry as a stranger. We were at bis house in Cheshire; and he one day dined with sir Lynch. What he tells of the epigram is not true, but perhaps he does not know it to be false. Do not you remember how he rejoiced in having no park? lie could not disoblige his peighbours by sending them no venison, The frequency of death, to those who look upon it in the leisure of Arcadia, is very dreadful. We all know what it should teach us; let us all be diligent to learn. Lucy Porter has lost her brother. But whom I bave lost let me not now remember. Let not your loss be added to the mournful catalogue. Write soon again to, nadam, your, &c.
LETTER XVI. MRS. THRALE TO MR. — , ON HIS MARRIAGE.
MY DEAR SIR, I RECEIVED the news of your narriage with infi. bite delight, and hope that the sincerity with which I wish your happiness may excuse the liberty I take in giving you a few rules whereby more certainly to obtain it. I see you smile at my wrong-headed kindness, and reflecting on the charms of your bride, cry out in a rapture, that you are happy enough without my rules. I know you are ; but after one of the forty years, which I hope you will pass pleasingly together, are over, this letter may come in turn, and rules for felicity may not be found unnecessary, however some of them may appear impracticable. “ Could that kind of love be kept alive through the married state, which makes the charm of a single one, the sovereign good would no longer be sought for; in the union of two faithful lovers it would be found: but reason shows us that this is impossible, and experience informs us that it never was