"London, Nov. 18, 1779.

"DEAR SIR,-Your last letter was not only kind, but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures. nor aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state. Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit usquam. Please yourself with your wife and children, and studies, and practice


"I have sent a petition from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to anything that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.

"If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.

"How near is the cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well. Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.

"Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved. He has not bathed, but hunted. At Bolt Court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility. I have had a cold, but it is gone. Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c. I am,



On November 22 and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover ;-that after a good deal of inquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary; that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's, which he had retained ;-and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence ;-that I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter

1 Requesting me to inquire concerning the family of a gentleman who was then paying his addresses tc Miss Doxy.

to Lord Chesterfield; and that this memento, like Delenda est Carthago, must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object.



"London, Oct. 25, 1779. "On Saturday I walked to Dover Street and back. Yesterday I dined with Sir Joshua. There was Mr. Eliot of Cornwall, who inquired after my master. At night I was bespoken by Lady Lucan; but she was taken ill, and the assembly was put off. I am to dine with Renny to-morrow. Some old gentlewomen at the next door are in very great distress. Their little annuity comes from Jamaica, and is therefore uncertain, and one of them has had a fall, and both are very helpless; and the poor have you to help them. Persuade my master to let me give them something for him. It will be bestowed upon real want."

1 First Lord Ellot. See post, sub 30 March, 1781.—0.



"Lives of the Poets" completed-Dr. Lawrence-Loss of a Wife-Death of Topham Beauclerk -Letter-writing-Mr. Melmoth-Fitzosborne's Letters-Somerset-House Exhibition-Riots in London-Lord George Gordon-Mr. Akerman-Correspondence-Dr. Beattie-Davies's "Life of Garrick "-Advice to a Young Clergyman-Composition of Sermons-Borough Election-Lady Southwell-Mr. Alexander Macbean-Lord Thurlow-Langton's Collec tanea-Dr. Franklin's "Demonax,"

IN 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the completion of his "Lives of the Poets," upon which he was employed so far as his indolence allowed him to labour.

I wrote to him on January 1 and March 13, sending him my notes of Lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope;-complaining that I had not heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my debt; that I had suffered again from melancholy;-hoping that he had been in so much better company (the Poets'), that he had not time to think of his distant friends; for if that were the case, I should have some recompence for my uneasiness;—that the state of my affairs did not admit of my coming to London this year; and begging he would return me Goldsmith's two poems, with his lines marked.

His friend Dr. Lawrence having now suffered the greatest affliction to which a man is liable, and which Johnson himself had felt in the most severe manner, Johnson wrote to him in an admirable strain of sympathy and pious consolation.



"Jan. 20, 1790.

"DEAR SIR,—At a time when all your friends ought to show their kindness, and with a character which ought to make all that know you your friends, vou may wonder that you have yet heard nothing from me. I have been hindered by a vexatious and incessant cough, for which within these ten days I have

beerd once, fasted four or five times, taken physic five times, and opiates, I think, six. This day it seems to remit.

"The loss, dear Sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.

"Our first recourse in this distressed solitude is, perhaps for want of habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal beings, one must lose the other. But surely there is a higher and better comfort to be drawn from the consideration of that Providence which watches over all, and a belief that the living and the dead are equally in the hands of God, who will reunite those whom he has separated, or who sees that it is best not to reunite. I am, dear Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."



"April 8, 1780.

"DIAR SIR,-Well, I had resolved to send you the Chesterfield letter, but I will write once again without it. Never impose tasks upon mortals. To require two things is the way to have them both undone.

"For the difficulties which you mention in your affairs, I am sorry; but difficulty is now very general: it is not therefore less grievous, for there is less hope of help. I pretend not to give you advice, not knowing the state of your affairs; and general counsels about prudence and frugality would do you little good. You are, however, in the right not to increase your own perplexity by a journey hither; and I hope that by staying at home you will please your father.

"Poor dear Beauclerk-nec, ut soles, dabis joca. His wit and his folly, his acuteness and maliciousness, his merriment and reasoning, are now over. Such another will not often be found among mankind.1 He directed him- .

1 "His conversation could scarcely be equalled. He possessed an exquisite taste various accomplishments, and the most perfect good breeding. He was eccentric-ofter querulous-entertaining a contempt for the generality of the world, which the politeness of his manners could not always conceal; but to those whom he liked, most generous and friendly. Devoted at one moment to pleasure, and at another to literature, sometimes absorbed in play, and sometimes in books, he was, altogether, one of the most accomplished, and, when in good humour, and surrounded by those who suited his fancy, ops of the most agreeable men that could possibly exist."--LORD CHARLEMONT, Life, vol. i. PM

self to be buried by the side of his mother; an instance of tenderness which I hardly expected. He has left his children to the care of Lady Di, and if she dies, of Mr. Langton, and of Mr. Leicester his relation, and a man of good character. His library has been offered to sale to the Russian Ambassador.'

"Dr. Percy, notwithstanding all the noise of the newspapers, has had no literary loss. Clothes and moveables were burnt to the value of about one hundred pounds; but his papers, and I think his books, were all preserved. Poor Mr. Thrale has been in extreme danger from an apoplectical disorder, and recovered, beyond the expectation of his physicians; he is now at Bath, that his mind may be quiet, and Mrs. Thrale and Miss are with him.

"Having told you what has happened to your friends, let me say something to you of yourself. You are always complaining of melancholy, and I conelude from those complaints that you are fond of it. No man talks of that which he is desirous to conceal, and every man desires to conceal that of which he is ashamed. Do not pretend to deny it; manifestum habemus furem. Make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself, never to mention your own mental diseases. If you are never to speak of them, you will think on them but little; and if you think little of them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity: for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think no more, about them.


"Your transaction with Mrs. Stewart gave me great satisfaction. I am much obliged to you for your attention. Do not lose sight of her. Your countenance may be of great credit, and of consequence of great advantage to her. The memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind: he was an ingenious and worthy man. Please to make my compliments to your lady and to the young ladies. I should like to see them, pretty loves! I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately, SAM. JOHNSON.”


"London, April 6, 1780.

"I have not quite neglected my Lives. Addison is a long one, but it is done. Prior is not short, and that is done too. I am upon Rowe, which cannot fill much paper. Seward (Mr. William) called on me one day and read Spence. I dined yesterday at Mr. Jodrell's in a great deal of company. On Sunday I dine with Dr. Lawrence, and at night go to Mrs. Vesey. I have had a little cold, or two, or three; but I did not much mind them, for they were not very bad."

1 His library was sold by public auction in April and May, 1781, for £5,011.-M.

By a fire in Northumberland House, where he had an apartment in which I have passed many an agreeable hour.

3 Spence's very amusing anecdotes, which had been lent Johnson in manuscript: they were not printed till 1820.-C.

« VorigeDoorgaan »