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TO MRS. STRAHAN.
"Feb. 4, 1782.
"DEAR MADAM,-Mrs. Williams showed me your kind letter. This little habitation is now but a melancholy place, clouded with the gloom of disease and death. Of the four inmates, one has been suddenly snatched away; two are oppressed by very afflictive and dangerous illness; and I tried yesterday to gain some relief by a third bleeding from a disorder which has for some time distressed me, and I think myself to-day much better.
"I am glad, dear Madam, to hear that you are so far recovered as to go to Bath. Let me once more entreat you to stay till your health is not only obtained, but confirmed. Your fortune is such as that no moderate expense deserves your care; and you have a husband who, I believe, does not regard it. Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my part, very muck deserted; but complaint is useless. I hope God will bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish for me. I am, dear Madam, etc.
1 Johnson repeated this line to me thus:
"And labour steals an hour to die." But he afterwards altered it to the present reading.
TO EDMUND MALONE, ESQ.
"Feb. 27, 1782.
"SIR,—I have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with you and Dr. Farmer. I hope hereafter to see you often. I am, Sir, etc.
"March 2, 1782.
"DEAR SIR, I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton' more unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said. I am, Sir, etc. SAM. JOHNSON."
These short letters show the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every respect have been fully gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably succeeded him as an editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done great and just honour to Johnson's memory.
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
"London, March 2, 1782. "DEAR MADAM,-I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my breath. For some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I could not get the violence abated till I had been let blood three times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written, and am sorry that I neglected it.
1 This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled "Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley," &c. Mr. Thomas Warton's very able "Inquiry" appeared about three months afterwards; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable " Vindication of his Appendix," in the summer of the same year, left the believers in this daring imposture nothing but "the resolution to say again what had been said before." Daring, however, as this fiction was, and wild as was the adherence to Chatterton, both were greatly exceeded in 1795 and the following year, by a still more audacious imposture, and the pertinacity of one of its adherents, who has Immortalised his name by publishing a bulky volume, of which the direct and manifest object was, to prove the authenticity of certain papers attributed to Shakspeare, after the fabricator of the spurious trash had publicly acknowledged the imposture.-M.
"My dwelling is but melancholy. Both Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself, are very sickly; Frank is not well; and poor Levett died in his bed the other day by a sudden stroke. I suppose not one minute passed between health and death. So uncertain are human things.
"Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. Let us, therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can; though the loss of friends will be felt and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for thirty years.
Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing; I hope to mend that and my other faults. Let me have your prayers. Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and the whole company of my friends. I am, &c.
TO THE SAME.
"Bolt Court, March 19, 1782.
“DEAR MADAM,—My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much more cheerful: I am, however, willing to write, because you are desirous to hear from me. My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet over. I was last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself much relieved, but I am very tender and easily hurt; so that since we parted I have had but little comfort. But I hope that the spring will recover me, and that in the summer I shall see Lichfield again, for I will not delay my visit another year to the end of autumn.
"I have, by advertising, found poor Mr. Levett's brothers, in Yorkshire, who will take the little he has left: it is but little, yet it will be welcome, for I believe they are of very low condition.
“To be sick, and to see nothing but sickness and death, is but a gloomy state but I hope better times; even in this world, will come, and whatever this world may withhold or give, we shall be happy in a better state. Pray for me, my dear Lucy. Make my compliments to Mrs Cobb, and Miss Adey, and my old friend, Hetty Bailey, and to all the Lichfield ladies. I am, &c.
On the day on which this letter was written, he thus feelingly mentions his respected friend and physician, Dr. Lawrence :— "Poor Lawrence has almost lost the sense of hearing; and I have lost the conversation of a learned, intelligent, and communicative companion, and a friend whom long familiarity has much endeared. Lawrence is one of the best men whom I have known.-Nostrum omnium miserere Deus" (Pr. and Med. p. 203.)
It was Dr. Johnson's custom, when he wrote to Dr. Lawrence
concerning his own health, to use the Latin language. I have been favoured by Miss Lawrence with one of these letters as a speci
"T. LAWRENCIO, MEDICO S.
"Maiis Calendis, 1782. novam sanguinis mis-, Ad te venire vix pos
"Novum frigus, nova tussis, nova spirandi difficultas, sionem suadent, quam tamen te inconsulto nolim fieri. sum, nec est cur ad me venias. Licere vel non licere uno verbo dicendum est; cætera mihi et Holdero reliqueris. Si per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere. Postquàm tu discesseris quò me vertam ?" "
TO CAPTAIN LANGTON,3
"Bolt Court, March 20, 1782. "DEAR SIR, It is now long since we saw one another; and, whatever has been the reason, neither you have written to me, nor I to you. To let friend
1 Mr. Holder, in thẻ Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary.
2"May, 1782. Fresh cold, renewed cough, and an increased difficulty of breathing; all suggest a further letting of blood, which, however, I do not choose to have done without your advice. I cannot well come to you, nor is there any occasion for your coming to me. You may say, in one word, yes or no, and leave the rest to Holder and me. If you consent, the messenger will bring Holder to me. When you shall be gone, whither shall I turn myself?"-C.
Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, but not before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to write for himself. The following are extracts from letters addressed by Dr. Johnson to one of his daughters:
"You will easily believe with what gladness I read that you had heard once again that voice to which we have all so often delighted to attend. May you often hear it. If we had his mind, and his tongue, we could spare the rest.
"I am not vigorous, but much better than when dear Dr. Lawrence held my pulse the las time. Be so kind as to let me know, from one little interval to another, the state of his body. I am pleased that he remembers me, and hope that it can never be possible for me to forget him. July 22d, 1782.
"I am much delighted even with the small advances which dear Dr. Lawrence makes towards recovery. If we could have again but his mind, and his tongue in his mind, and his right hand, we should not much lament the rest. I should not despair of helping the swelled hand by electricity, if it were frequently and diligently supplied.
"Let me know from time to time whatever happens; and I hope I need not tell you how much I am interested in every change. Aug. 26, 1782.
"Though the account with which you favoured me in your last letter could not give me the pleasure that I wished, yet I was glad to receive it; for my affection to my dear friend makes me desirous of knowing his state, whatever it be. I beg, therefore, that you continue to let me know, from time to time, all that you observe. "Many fits of severe illness have, for about three months past, forced my kind physician often upon my mind. I am now better; and hope gratitude, as well as distress, can be a motive to remembrance. Bolt-court, Fleet-street, February 4, 1788."
3 Mr. Langton being at this time on duty at Rochester, he is addressed by his military
ship die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which when it is, as it must be, taken finally away, he that travels on alone will wonder how his esteem could be so little. Do not forget me; you see that I do not forget you. It is pleasing in the silence of solitude to think, that there is one at least, however distant, of whose benevolence there is little doubt, and whom there is yet hope of seeing again.
"Of my life, from the time we parted, the history is mournful. The spring of last year deprived me of Thrale, a man whose eye for fifteen years had scarcely been turned upon me but with respect or tenderness; for such another friend, the general course of human things will not suffer man to hope. I passed the summer at Streatham, but there was no Thrale; and having idled away the summer with a weakly body and neglected mind, I made a journey to Staffordshire on the edge of winter. The season was dreary, I was sickly, and found the friends sickly whom I went to see. After a sorrowful sojourn, I returned to a habitation possessed for the present by two sick women, where my dear old friend, Mr. Levett, to whom, as he used to tell me, I owe your acquaintance, died a few weeks ago, suddenly in his bed; there passed not, I believe, a minute between health and death. At night, at Mrs. Thrale's, as I was musing in my chamber, I thought with uncommon earnestness, that, however I might alter my mode of life, or whithersoever I might remove, I would endeavour to retain Levett about me: in the morning my servant brought me word that Levett was called to another state, a state for which, I think, he was not unprepared, for he was very useful to the poor. How much soever I valued him, I now wish that I had valued him more.'
"I have myself been ill more than eight weeks of a disorder, from which, at the expense of about fifty ounces of blood, I hope I am now recovering.
"You, dear Sir, have, I hope, a more cheerful scene; you see George fond of his book, and the pretty Misses airy and lively, with my own little Jenny equal to the best; and in whatever can contribute to your quiet and pleasure, you have Lady Rothes ready to concur. May whatever you enjoy of good be increased, and whatever you suffer of evil be diminished. I am, dear Sir, &c. "SAM. JOHNSON."
TO MR. HECTOR,
"London, March 21, 1782.
"DEAR SIR,-I hope I do not very grossly flatter myself t imagine that
1 Johnson has here expressed a sentiment similar to that contained in one of Shenstone's atanzas, to which, in his life of that poet, he has given high praise:
"I prized every hour that went by,
Beyond all that had pleased me before;
But now they are gone, and I sigh,
And I grieve that I prized them no more."-J. BOSWELL, Jun.
2 A part of this letter having been torn off, I have, from the evident meaning, supplied a few words and half words at the ends and beginning of lines.