"GENTLEMEN,—A new parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of independent constituents; superior to fear, hope, and expectation, who has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the hall, and hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.

"I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough. I am, Gentlemen, your most faithful and obedient servant,


LETTER 386. TO THE RIGHT HON. LADY SOUTHWELL, DUBLIN. "Bolt Court, Fleet Street, Sept. 9, 1780.

“MADAM,—Among the numerous addresses of condolence which your great loss must have occasioned, be pleased to receive this from one whose name perhaps you have never heard, and to whom your ladyship is known only by the reputation of your virtue, and to whom your lord was known only by his kindness and beneficence.

"Your ladyship is now again summoned to exert that piety of which you once gave, in a state of pain and danger, so illustrious an example; and your lord's beneficence may be still continued by those, who with his fortune inherit his virtues.

"I hope to be forgiven the liberty which I shall take of informing your ladyship, that Mr. Mauritius Lowe, a son of your late lord's father, had, by


[ocr errors]

1 Margaret, the second daughter, and one of the co-heiresses of Arthur Cecil Hamilton, Esq. She was married in 1741 to Thomas George, the third Baron, and first Viscount, Southwell, and lived with him in the most perfect connubial felicity, till September 1780, when Lord Southwell died; a loss which she never ceased to lament till the hour of her own dissolution, In her eighty-first year, August 16, 1802. The "illustrious example of piety and fortitude to which Dr. Johnson alludes, was the submitting, when past her fiftieth year, to an extremely painful surgical operation, which she endured with extraordinary firniness and composure, not allowing herself to be tied to her chair, nor uttering a single moan. slight tribute of affection to the memory of these two most amiable and excellent persons, who were not less distinguished by their piety, beneficence, and unbounded charity, than by a suavity of manners which endeared them to all who knew them, it is hoped, will be forgiven from one who was honoured by their kindness and friendship from his childhood..-M.


2 Thomas, the second Lord Southwell, who was born Jan. 7, 1698-9, and died in London, Nov. 18, 1766. Johnson was well acquainted with this nobleman, and said, "he was the

recommendation to your lord, a quarterly allowance of ten pounds, the last of which, due July 26, he has not received: he was in hourly hope of his remittance, and flattered himself that on October 26, he should have received the whole half-year's bounty, when he was struck with the dreadful news of his benefactor's death.

"May I presume to hope, that his want, his relation, and his merit, which excited his lordship's charity, will continue to have the same effect upon those whom he has left behind; and that, though he has lost one friend, he may not yet be destitute. Your ladyship's charity cannot easily be exerted where it is wanted more; and to a mind like yours, distress is a sufficient recommendation. I hope to be allowed the honour of being Madam, &c.


On his birthday, Johnson has this note :-"I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with more strength of body and greater vigour of mind than I think is common at that age." But still he complains of sleepless nights and idle days, and forgetfulness, or neglect of resolutions. He thus pathetically expresses himself:Surely I shall not spend my whole life with my own total disapprobation." (Pr. & Med., p. 185.)


Mr. Macbean, whom I have mentioned more than once, as one of Johnson's humble friends, a deserving but unfortunate man, being now oppressed by age and poverty, Johnson solicited the Lord Chancellor Thurlow to have him admitted into the Charter-house. I take the liberty to insert his lordship's answer, as I am eager to embrace every occasion of augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my illustrious friend :—

highest bred man, without insolence, that he was ever in company with." His younger brother, Edmund Southwell, lived in intimacy with Johnson for many years.-C.

1 Amongst Mr. Lowe's papers was found, in Dr. Johnson's handwriting, the following draft of a letter which, no doubt, Johnson had sketched for his poor friend, and which was probably addressed to the new Lord Southwell. It has been communicated to me by Mr. Markland:

"MY LORD,-The allowance which you are pleased to make me, I received on the by Mr. Puget. Of the joy which it brought your lordship cannot judge, because you cannot imagine my distress. It was long since I had known a morning without solicitude for noon, or lain down at night without foreseeing, with terror, the distresses of the morning. My debts were small, but many; my creditors were poor, and therefore troublesome. Of this misery your lordship's bounty has given me an intermission. May your lordship live long to de much good, and to do for many what you have done for, my lord, your lordship's, &c. "M. LOWE."—C



"Londen, Oct 24, 1780.

"SIR,-I have this moment received your letter dated the 19th, and returned from Bath. In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux, without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to the establishment of the house, the opportunity of making the charity so good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if you'll favour me with notice of it, I will try to recommend him to the place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate. I am, Sir, with great regard, your most faithful and obedient servant,


Mr. Macbean was however, on Lord Thurlow's nomination, admitted into the Chartreux in April 1781; on which occasion Dr. Johnson, with that benevolence by which he was uniformly actuated, wrote the following letter, which, for the sake of connexion, may properly be introduced here :



At Lambeth.

"Bolt Court, April 10, 1781.

"REV. SIR,-The bearer is one of my old friends, a man of great learning, whom the chancellor has been pleased to nominate to the Chartreux. He attends his grace the archbishop, to take the oath required; and being a modest scholar, will escape embarrassment, if you are so kind as to introduce him, by which you will do a kindness to a man of great merit, and add another to those favours which have already been conferred by you on, Sir, &c, "SAM. JOHNSON."



"Oct. 17, 1780.

"DEAR SIR,-I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.

[ocr errors]

'Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election; he is now going to

1 "Mrs. Thrale felt this very acutely. When, after Mr. Thrale's death, a friend of Mr. Henry Thornton, then a candidate for Southwark, canvassed Mrs. Thrale for her interest, she replied, "I wish your friend success, and think he will have it :-he may probably come in for two parliaments; but if he tries for a third, were he an angel from heaven, the people of Southwark would cry, 'Not this man, but Barabbas." "-Miss Hawkins's Mem vel. I. p. 66.-0.


Brighthelmstone, and expects me to go with him; and how long I shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall go and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness, and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.

"I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.

"I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father received him kindly, but not fondly: however, you seem to have lived well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as you can.

"You lately told me of your health: I can tell you in return, that my health has been for more than a year past better than it has been for many years before. Perhaps it may please God to give us some time together before we are parted. I am, dear Sir, yours, most affectionately,

[ocr errors]




"Dec. 80, 1780.

"SIR,-I hope you will forgive the liberty I take, in soliciting your interposition with his grace the archbishop: my first petition was successful, and I therefore venture on a second.

"The matron of the Chartreux is about to resign her place; and Mrs. Desmoulins, a daughter of the late Dr. Swinfen, and who was well known to your father, is desirous of succeeding her. She has been accustomed by keeping a boarding-school to the care of children, and I think is very likely to discharge her duty. She is in great distress, and therefore may probably receive the benefit of a charitable foundation. If you wish to see her, she will be willing to give an account of herself.

"If you shall be pleased, Sir, to mention her favourably to his grace, you will do a great act of kindness to, Sir, yours, &c.


Being disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so that I could hear none of his admirable sayings, I shall compensate for this want by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to my worthy friend Mr. Langtou, whose kind communica tions have been separately interwoven in many parts. of this work

Very few articles of this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that habit; which he regrets, and which those who know the numerous opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of Johnsonian wit and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversation with him, that a good store of JOHNSONIANA was treasured in his mind; and I compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which, when dug, fully rewards the labourer employed. The authenticity of every article is unquestionable. For the expressions, I, who wrote them down in his presence, am partly answerable.

"Theocritus is not deserving of very high respect as a writer; as to the pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superior. He wrote when there had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in description, though living in a beautiful courtry: the manners painted are coarse and gross. Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of nature, and more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the king of that country: which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it; and the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumphant. Theocritus seems not to have seen that the brothers have their advantage in their argument over his Argonaut heroes. The Sicilian Gossips' is a piece of


"Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of ancient authors, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their writings.

"Maittaire's account of the Stephani is a heavy book. He seems to have been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship; but with little geometry or logic in his head, without method and possessed of little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called 'Senilia;' in which he shows so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl. In matters of genealogy it is necessary to give the bare names as they are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them. His book of the Dialects is a sad heap of confusion; the only way to write on them is to tabulate them with notes, added at the bottom of the page, and refer.


« VorigeDoorgaan »