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"You have ended the negro's causé much to my mind. Lord Auchinleck and dear Lord Hailes were on the side of liberty. Lord Hailes's name reproaches me; but if he saw my languid neglect of my own affairs, he would rather pity than resent my neglect of his. I hope to mend, ut et mihi vivan et amicis.
“I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately,
“SAM. Jonysox." “My service to my fellow-traveller, Joseph.”.
Johnson maintained a long and intimate friendship with Mr. Welch, who succeeded the celebrated Henry Fielding as one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for Westminster ; kept a regular office for the police of that great district; and discharged his important trust, for many years, faithfully and ably. Johnson, who had an eager and unceasing curiosity to know human life in all its variety, told me that he attended Mr. Welch in his office for a whole winter, to hear the examinations of the culprits ; but that he found an almost uniform tenor of misfortune, wretchedness, and profligacy. Mr. Welch's health being impaired, he was advised to try the effect of a warm climate ; and Johnson, by his interest with Mr. Chamier, procured him leave of absence to go to Italy, and a promise that the pension or salary of two hundred pounds a year, which Government allowed him, should not be discontinued. Mr. Welch accordingly went abroad, accompanied by his daughter Anne, a young lady of uncommon talents and literature.
“TO SAUNDERS WELCH, ESQ., AT THE ENGLISH COFFEE-HOUSE, ROME
Feb. 3, 1778. "To have suffered one of my best and dearest friends to pass almost two years in foreign countries without a letter, has a very shameful appearance of inattention. But the truth is, there was no particular time in which thing particular to say; and general expressions of good will, I hope, our long friendship is grown too solid to want.
“Of public affairs you have information from the newspapers wherever you go, for the English keep no secret; and of other things, Mrs. Nollekens informs you. My intelligence could therefore be of no use; and Miss Nancy's letters made it unnecessary to write to you for information: I was likewise for some time out of humour, to find that motion and nearer approaches to
the sun, did not restore your health so fast as I expected. Of your health, the accounts have lately been more pleasing; and I have the gratification of imagining to myself a length of years which I hope you have gained, and of which the enjoyment will be improved by a vast accession of images and observations which your journeys and various residence have enabled you to make and accumulate. You have travelled with this felicity, almost peculiar to yourself, that your companion is not to part from you at your journey's end; but you are to live on together, to help each other's recollection, and to supply each other's omissions. The world has few greater pleasures than that which two friends enjoy, in tracing back, at some distant time, those transactions and events through which they have passed together. One of the old man's miseries is, that he cannot easily find a companion able to partako with him of the past. You and your fellow-traveller have this comfort in store, that your conversation will be not easily exhausted ; one will always be glad to say what the other will always be willing to hear.
“That you may enjoy this pleasure long, your health must have your constant attention. I suppose you propose to return this year. There is no need of haste: do not come bither before the height of summer, that you may fall gradually into the inconveniences of your native clime. July seems to be the proper month. August and September will prepare you for the winter. After having travelled so far to find health, you must take care not to lose it at home; and I hope a little care will effectually preserve it.
“Miss Nancy has doubtless kept a constant and copious journal. She must not expect to be welcome when she returns, without a great mass of information. Let her review her journal often, and set down what she finds herself to have omitted, that she may trust to memory as little as possible, for memory is soon confused by a quick succession of things; and she will grow every day less confident of the truth of her own narratives, unless she can recur to some written memorials. If she has satisfied herself with hints, instead of full representations, let her supply the deficiency now, while her memory is yet fresh, and while her father's memory may help her. If she observes this direction, she will not have travelled in vain; for she will bring home a book with which she may entertain herself to the end of life. If it were not now too late, I would advise her to note the impression which the first sight of anything new and wonderful made upon her mind. Let her now set her thoughts down as she can recollect them; for, faint as they may already be, they will grow every day fainter.
Perhaps I do not flatter myself unreasonably when I imagine that you may wish to know something of me. I can gratify your benevolence with no account of health. The hand of time, or of disease, is very heavy upon me. I pass restless and uneasy nights, harassed with convulsions of my breast, and flatulencies at my stomach; and restless nights make heavy days. But nothing will be mended by complaints, and therefore I will make an end. When we meet, we will try to forget our cares and our maladies, and contribute, as we can, to the cheerfulness of each other. If I had gone with you, I believe I should have been better; but I do not know that it was in my power. "I am, dear Sir, your most humble Servant,
This letter, while it gives admirable advice how to travel to the best advantage, and will therefore be of very general use, is another eminent proof of Johnson's warm and affectionate heart."
" TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, “MY DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, Feb. 26, 1778. “Why I have delayed, for near a month, to thank you for your last affectionate letter, I cannot say; for my mind has been in better health these three weeks than for some years past. I believe I have evaded till' I could send you a copy of Lord Hailes's opinion on the negro's cause, which he wishes you to read, and correct any errors that there may be in the language ; for, says he, we live in a critical, though not in a learned age; and I seek to screen myself under the shield of Ajax. I communicated to him your apology for keeping the sheets of his 'Annals' so long. He says, 'I am sorry to see that Dr. Johnson is in a state of languor. Why should a sober Christian, neither an enthusiast nor a fanatic, be very merry or very sad ?' I envy his Lordship’s comfortable constitution; but well do I know that languor and dejection will afflict the best, however excellent their principles. I am in possession of Lord Hailes's opinion in his own handwriting, and have had it for some time. My excuse, then, for procrastination must be, that I wanted to have it copied; and I have now put that off so long, that it will be better to bring it with me than send it, as I shall probably get you to look at it sooner, when I solicit you in person.
“My wife, who is, thank God, a good deal better, is much obliged to you for your very polite and courteous offer of your apartment: but if she goes to London, it will be best for her to have lodgings in the more airy vicinity of Hyde Park. I however, doubt much if I shall be able to prevail with her to accompany me to the metropolis ; for she is so different from you and me, that she dislikes travelling; and she is so ansious about her children, that she thinks she should be unhappy if at a distance from them. She therefore wishes rather to go to some country place in Scotland, where she can have them with her.
“I purpose being in London about the 20th of next month, as I think it creditable to appear in the House of Lords as one of Douglas's counsel, in the great and last competition between Duke Hamilton and him.
“I am sorry poor Mrs. Williams is so ill: though her temper is unpleasant, she has always been polite and obliging to me. I wish many happy years to good Mr. Levett, who, I suppose holds his usual place at your breakfast-table.
“I ever am, my dear Sir, Your affectionate humble servant,
“ JAMES BOSWELL."
1 The friendship between Mr. Welch and him was unbroken. Mr. Welch died not many months before him, and bequeathed him five guineas for a ring, which Johnson received with tenderness, as a kind memorial. His regard was constant for his friend Mr. Welch's daughters; of whom, Jane is married to Mr. Nollekens the statuary, whose merit is too well known to require any praise from me.-BOSWELL. 3 Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, humorously observed, that Levett used to breakfast on the crust of a roll, which Johnson, after tearing out the crumb for himself, threw to his humble friend.-BOSWELL.
TO THE SAME.
“MY DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, Peb. 28, 1778. “ You are at present busy amongst the English poets, preparing, for the public instruction and entertainment, Prefaces, biographical and critical. It will not, therefore, be out of season to appeal to you for the decision of a controversy which has arisen between a lady and me concerning a passage in Parnell. That Poet tells us, that his Hermit quitted his cell
to know the world by sight,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew.)' "I maintain, that there is an inconsistency here : for as the hermit's notions of the world were formed from the reports both of books and swains, he could not •ustly be said to know by swains alone. Be pleased to judge between us, and let us have your reasons."
.“ What do you say to ‘Tacation no Tyranny,' now, after Lord North's declaration, or confession, or whatever else his conciliatory speech should be called ? I never differed from you in politics but upon two points,—the Middlesex Election, and the Taxation of the Americans by the British Houses of Representatives. There is a charm in the word Parliament, so I avoid it. As I am a steady and a warm Tory, I regret that the King does not see it to better for him to receive constitutional supplies from his American subjects by the voice of their own assemblies, where his Royal person is represented, than through the medium of his British subjects. I am persuaded that the power of the Crown, which I wish to increase, would be greater when in contact with all its dominions, than if 'the rays of regal bounty'? were 'to shine' upon America, through that dense troubled body, a modern British Parliament. But enough of this subject; for your angry voice at Ashbourne upon it stil. sounds awful 'in mind's cars.'
“I ever am, my dear Sir,
“ JAMES BOSWELL.”
TO THE SAME.
“MY DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, March 12, 1778. “ The alarm of your late illness distressed me but a few hours, for on the evening of the day that it reached me I found it contradicted in The London Chronicle,' which I could depend upon as authentic concerning you. Mr. Strahan being the printer of it. I did not see the paper in which the approaching extinction of a bright luminary' was announced. Sir William Forbes told me of it; and he says he saw me so uneasy that he did not give me the report in such strong terms as he read it. He afterwards sent me a letter from Mr. Langton to him, which relieved me much. I am, however, not quite easy, I have not heard from you; and now I shall not have that comfort before I see you, for I set out for London tomorrow before the post comes in. I hope to be with you on Wednesday morning and I ever am, with the highest veneration, my dear Sir, your most obliged, faithful, and affectionate humble servant,
Perhaps the word threw is here too strong. Dr. Johnson never treated Levett with contempt; it is clear indeed, from various circumstances, that he had great kindness for him. I have often seen Johnson at breakfast, accompanied, or rather attendeid, by Levett, who had always the management of the tea-kettle.-MALONE.
1 See the subject discussed in a subsequent page, under May 3, 1779.-MALONE.
2 Alluding to a line in his “ Vanity of Human Wishes,” describing Cardinal Wolsey in his state of elevation :.
“ Through him the rays of regal bountv shine."-BOSWELL.