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It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this club. But when I mention only Mr. Daines Barrington, Dr. Brocklesby, Mr. Murphy, Mr. John Nichols, Mr. Cooke,' Mr. Joddrell, Mr. Paradise, Dr. Horseley, Mr. Windham,' I shall sufficiently obviate the misrepresentation of it by Sir John Hawkins, as if it had been a low alehouse association, by which Johnson was degraded. Johnson himself, like his namesake Old Ben, composed the rules of his club.*
1 A biographical notice of Mr. Cooke, who died April 8, 1824, will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for that month; and some account of Mr. Joddrell is given in Nichols's Lit. Anec. vol. viii.-C.
2 I was in Scotland when this club was founded, and during all the winter. Johnson, how. ever, declared I should be a member. and invented a word upon the occasion: "Boswell," said he, "is a very clubable man." When I came to town I was proposed by Mr. Barrington, and chosen. I believe there are few societies where there is better conversation or more decorum. Several of us resolved to continue it after our great founder was removed by death. Other members were added; and now, about eight years since that loss, we go on happily.
3 Miss Hawkins candidly says, "Boswell was well justified in his resentment of my father's designation of this as a sixpenny club at an alehouse. I am sorry my father permitted himself to be so pettish on the subject. Honestly speaking, I dare say he did not like being passed over."-Mem, vol. ii. p. 104.-0
"To-day deep thoughts with me resolve to drench
"The club shall consist of four and twenty.
"The meetings shall be on the Monday, Thursday, and Saturday of every week;
in the week before Easter there shall be no meeting.
"Every member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not oftener. "Two members shall oblige themselves to attend in their turn every night from eight to ten, or procure two to attend in their room.
"Every member present at the club shall spend at least sixpence; and every member who stays away shall forfeit threepence.
"The master of the house shall keep an account of the absent members; and deliver to the president of the night a list of the forfeits incurred.
"When any member returns after absence, he shall immediately lay down his forfeits; which if he omits to do, the president shall require.
"There shall be no general reckoning, but every man shall adjust his own expenses.
"The night of indispensable attendance will come to every member once a month. Whoever shall for three months together omit to attend himself, or by substitution, nor shall make any apology in the fourth month, shall be considered as having abdicated the club.
"When a vacancy is to be filled, the name of the candidate, and of the member recommending him, shall stand in the club-room three nights. On the fourth he may be chosen by ballot; six members at least being present, and two-thirds of the ballot being in his favour: or the majority, should the numbers not be divisible by three.
The master of the house shall give notice, six days before, to each of those members whose turn of necessary attendance is come.
"The notice may be in these words: 'Sir, On
of presiding at the Essex Head. Your company is therefore earnestly requested.'
the of, will be your turs
In the end of this year he was seized with a spasmodic asthma of such violence, that he was confined to the house in great pain, being sometimes obliged to sit all night in his chair, a recumbent posture being so hurtful to his respiration, that he could not endure lying in bed; and there came upon him at the same time that oppresive and fatal disease, a dropsy. It was a very severe winter, which probably aggravated his complaints; and the solitude in which Mr. Levett and Mrs Williams had left him rendered his life very gloomy. Mrs. Desmoulins, who still lived, was herself so very ill, that she could contribute very little to his relief. He, however, had none of that unsocial shyness which we commonly see in people afflicted with sickness. He did not hide his head from the world, in solitary abstraction; he did not deny himself to the visits of his friends and acquaintances; but at all times when he was not overcome by sleep, was as ready for conversation as in his best days.
"One penny shall be left by each member for the waiter."
Johnson's definition of a club, in this sense, in his Dictionary, is "An assembly of good. fellows, meeting under certain conditions."
Burton's Books-Alderman Clark-Correspondence-Dr. Gillespie-Drs. Cullen, Hope and Monro-Divine Interposition-Lord Monboddo-Dr. Ross-George Steevens-Mrs. Montagu -Burke's Conversation-Foote-The Empress of Russia-Mrs. Thrale-Ecclesiastical Discipline-Fear of Death-Capel Lofft-Thomas à Kempis-Dr. Douglas - Editions of Horace-Charles Fox.
AND now I am arrived at the last year of the life of SAMUEL JOHNSON; a year in which, although passed in severe ndisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of those wonderous powers of mind which raised him so high in the intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were in no respect inferior to those of former years. The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most minute curiosities of literature.
TO MR. DILLY, BOOKSELLER,
"Jan. 6, 1784.
"SIR,-There is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the booksellers on the bridge, and which I must entreat you to procure me. They are called Burton's Books:1 the title of one is 'Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England.' I believe there are about five or six of them; they seem very proper to allure backward readers; be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them with the best printed edition of 'Baxter's Call to the Unconverted.' I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."
TO MR. PERKINS.
"Jan. 21, 1784.
"DEAR SIR,—I was very sorry not to see you when you were so kind as to call on me; but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good-natured, to disoblige them is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured with another
These books are much more numerous than Johnson supposed.
visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will take all the mea. sures that I can to be pretty well at that time. I am, &c.
His attention to the Essex Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard.'
TO RICHARD CLARK, ESQ.
"Jan. 27, 1784.
"DEAR SIR,-You will receive a requisition, according to the rules of the club, to be at the house as president of the night. This turn comes once a month, and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You were inrolled in the club by my invitation, and I ought to introduce you; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly supply my place as introductor, or yours as president. I hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant. I am, Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.
You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of threepence, that is, ninepence a-week."
On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his health, and enclosing my "Letter to the People of Scotland on the Present State of the Nation." "I trust," said I, "that you will be liberal enough to make allowance for my differing from you on two points, [the Middlesex election and the American war,] when my general principles of government are according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of ministerial power."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"Feb. 11, 1784.
"DEAR SIR,-I hear of many inquiries which your kindness has disposed to make after me. I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the imagination of its length hindered me from beginning. I will, therefore, cor tent myself with a shorter.
1 He died at Chertsey, January 16, 1831, æt. 98.-0.
"Having promoted the institution of a new club in the neighbourhood, at the house of an old servant of Thrale's, I went thither to meet the company, and was seized with a spasmodic asthma, so violent, that with difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground upon me: my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I should be content if I could keep there; but I am afraid that it will soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious, and yet I am extremely afraid of dying.
'My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected from vernal breezes and summer suns. If my life is prolonged to autumn, I shall be glad to try a warmer climate; though how to travel with a diseased body, without a companion to conduct me, and with very little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in Italy; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died; but he was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.
"I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with disease his neglect of disputes, politics, and pamphlets. Let me have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and young ones. Ask your physicians about my case and desire Sir Alexander Dick to write me his opinion. I am, dear Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
"Feb. 28, 1784.
"MY DEAREST LOVE,-I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received by the mercy of God sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me. Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it; what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of God and the intercession of our Saviour. I am, &c.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
"London, Feb. 27, 1784.
"DEAR SIR,—I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet; and you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great indignation at the indecency with which the king is every day treated. Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the constitution,