Letters to Hester Thrale Piozzi

By Samuel Johnson

Edited by Jack Lynch

[Headnote to follow.]


Madam,

[1] If I interpret your letter right, you are ignominiously married; if it is yet undone, let us once more talk together. If you have abandoned your children and your religion, God forgive your wickedness; if you have forfeited your fame and your country, may your folly do no further mischief. If the last act is yet to do, I who have loved you, esteemed you, reverenced you, and served you, I who long thought you the first of womankind, entreat that, before your fate is irrevocable, I may once more see you. I was, I once was,

Madam, most truly yours,

Sam: Johnson.

July 2, 1784.

I will come down if you will permit it.


London, July 8, 1784.

Dear Madam,

[2] What you have done, however I may lament it, I have no pretence to resent, as it has not been injurious to me: I therefore breathe out one sigh more of tenderness, perhaps useless, but at least sincere.

[3] I wish that God may grant you every blessing, that you may be happy in this world for its short continuance, and eternally happy in a better state; and whatever I can contribute to your happiness I am very ready to repay, for that kindness which soothed twenty years of a life radically wretched.

[4] Do not think slightly of the advice which I now presume to offer. Prevail upon Mr. Piozzi to settle in England: you may live here with more dignity than in Italy, and with more security: your rank will be higher, and your fortune more under your own eye. I desire not to detail all my reasons, but every argument of prudence and interest is for England, and only some phantoms of imagination seduce you to Italy.

[5] I am afraid however that my counsel is vain, yet I have eased my heart by giving it.

[6] When Queen Mary took the resolution of sheltering herself in England, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, attempting to dissuade her, attended on her journey; and when they came to the irremeable stream that separated the two kingdoms, walked by her side into the water, in the middle of which he seized her bridle, and with earnestness proportioned to her danger and his own affection pressed her to return. The Queen went forward. —— If the parallel reaches thus far, may it go no further. — The tears stand in my eyes.

[7] I am going into Derbyshire, and hope to be followed by your good wishes, for I am, with great affection,

Your, &c.,

Sam: Johnson.

Any letters that come for me hither will be sent me.