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get 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, SAM. JOHNSON."
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. (1)
LETTER 313. TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
"Feb. 19. 1778.
"DEAR MADAM, I have several little things to mention which I have hitherto neglected. You judged rightly in thinking that the bust () would not please. It is condemned by Mrs. Thrale, Mrs. Reynolds, and Mrs. Garrick; so that your disapprobation is not singular.
"These things have never cost me any thing, so that I do not much know the price. My bust was made for the Exhibition, and shown for honour of the artist, who is a man of reputation above any of the other sculptors. To be modelled in clay costs, I believe, twenty guineas; but the casts, when the model is
(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 Johnsca 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. - B. See a great deal about Miss Anne in Miss Hawkins's Memoirs. — C.
(2) This bust, and the walking-stick mentioned by Boswell, are now in the possession of Mrs. Pearson, of Hill Ridware,
made, are of no great price; whether a guinea, or two guineas, I cannot tell.
"When you complained for want of oysters, I ordered you a barrel weekly for a month; you sent me word sooner that you had enough, but I did not countermand the rest. If you could not eat them, could you not give them away? When you want any thing send me word. I am very poorly, and have very restless and oppressive nights, but always hope for better. Pray for me. I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."
LETTER 314. FROM MR. BOSWELL.
"Edinburgh, Feb. 26. 1778.
"MY DEAR SIR,- Why I have delayed, for near a mouth, 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 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 hand-writing, 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
person. “My wife, who is, I 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 anxious 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. (1) I ever am, dear Sir, your affectionate servant,
“ JAMES BOSWELL.'
(1) Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromure, humorously observed, that Levett used to breakfast on the crust of a roll, which Johnson, after tearing out the crum for himself, threw to his humble friend. — B. — 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 attended, by Levett, who had always the management of the tea-kettle. — M. Sir J. Hawkins' states, that * Dr. Johnson frequently observed that Levett was indebted to him for nothing more than house-room, his share in a penny loaf at breakfast, and now and then a dinner on a Sunday.” — C.
FROM MR. BOSWELL.
“ Edinburgh, Feb. 28. 1778. “ MY DEAR SIR,— 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,
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 justly be said to know by swains alone. Be pleased to judge between us, and let us have your reasons. (1)
“What do you say to · Taxation 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 ita As I am a steady and a warm tory, I regret that the king does not see it to be 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
(1) See this subject discussed in a subsequent page, under May 3. 1779. — M.
all its dominions, than if the rays of regal bounty'(') were 'to shine' upon America through that dense and troubled body, a modern British parliament. But, enough of this subject ; for your angry voice at Ashbourne
it still sounds awful ‘in my mind's ears.' I ever am, &c.
LETTER 316. TO MRS. MONTAGU...
« March 5. 1778. « MADAM, - And so you are alarmed, naughty lady? You might know that I was ill enough when Mr. Thrale brought you my excuse. Could you think that I missed the honour of being at (your) table for any slight reason? But you (have) too many to miss any one of us, and I am (proud) to be remembered at last. I am much better. A little cough (still) remains which will not confine me. To houses (like yours) of great delicacy I am not willing to bring it.
“Now, dear Madam, we must talk of business. Poor Davies, the bankrupt bookseller, is soliciting his friends to collect a small sum for the repurchase of part of his household stuff. Several of them gave him five guineas. It would be an honour to him to owe part of his relief to Mrs. Montagu.
" Let me thank you, Madam, once more for your inquiry; you have, perhaps, among your numerous train not one that values a kind word or a kind look more tian, Madam, yours, &c.
66 March 6. 1778. * MADAM, I hope Davies (2), who does not want wit, does not want gratitude, and then he will be almost as
(1) Alluding to a line in his “ Vanity of Human Wishes,” describing Cardinal Wolsey in a state of elevation:
“ Through him the rays of regal bounty shine."