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« I have left off housekeeping, and therefore made presents of the game which you were pleased to send me. The pheasant I gave to Mr. Richardson', the bustard to Dr. Lawrence, and the pot I placed with Miss Williams, to be eaten by myself. She desires that her compliments and good wishes may be accepted by the family; and I make the same request for myself.
“Mr. Reynolds has within these few days raised his price to twenty guineas a head”, and Miss S is much employed in miniatures. I know not any body (else) whose prosperity has increased since you left them.
Murphy is to have his Orphan of China' acted next month; and is therefore, I suppose, happy. I wish I could tell you
of any great good to which I was approaching, but at present my prospects do not much delight me; however, I am always pleased when I find that you, dear sir, remember your affectionate, humble servant,
“ Sam. Johnson.”
In 1759, in the month of January, his mother died at the great age of ninety, an event which deeply affected him; not that “ his mind had acquired no Hawk. firmness by the contemplation of mortality *;" but that his reverential affection for her was not abated by years, as indeed he retained all his tender feelings even to the latest period of his life. I have been told, that he regretted much his not having gone to visit his mother for several years previous to her
1 The authour of Clarissa.--BosweLL.
? (Sir Joshua afterwards greatly advanced his price. I have been informed by Sir Thomas Lawrence, his admirer and rival, that in 1787 his prices were two hundred guineas for the whole length, one hundred for the hulf-length, seventy for the kit-cat, and fifty for (what is called) the three-quarters. But even on these prices some increase must have been made, as Horace Walpole said, “Sir Joshua, in his old age, becomes avaricious. He had one thousand guineas for my picture of the three ladies Waldegrave."-Walpoliana. This picture are half-lengths of the three ladies on one canvas.-Ed.]
3 [Miss Reynolds, the sister of Sir Joshua.—ED.)
4 [Mr. Boswell contradicts Hawkins, for the mere pleasure, as it would seem, of doing so. The reader must observe that Mr. Boswell's work is full of aneca dotes of Johnson's want of firmness in contemplating mortality: and though Johnson may have been in theory an affectionate son, there is reason to fear that he had never visited, and, consequently, not seen his mother since 1737 Mr. Boswell alleges as an excuse, that he was engaged in literary labours, which con. fined him to London. Such an excuse for an absence of twenty years is idle ; besides, it is stated that Johnson visited Ashbourn about 1740 (ante, p. 51), Tunbridge Wells in 1748 (ante, p. 165), Oxford in 1754 (ante, p. 252). We shall see presently, that Johnson felt remorse for this neglect of his parent.—Ed.]
death. But he was constantly engaged in literary labours which confined him to London; and though he had not the comfort of seeing his aged parent, he contributed liberally to her support.
" 13th Jan. 1758%.
“I would have miss read to you from time to time the Passion of our Saviour, and sometimes the sentences in the Communion Service, beginning--Come unto me, all ye that travel and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“I have just now read a physical book, which inclines me to think that a strong infusion of the bark would do you good. Do, dear mother, try it.
“Pray, send me your blessing, and forgive all that I have done amiss to you. And whatever you would have done, and what debts you would have paid first, or any thing else that you would direct, let Miss [Porter] put it down; I shall endeavour to obey you.
“I have got twelve guineas' to send you, but unhappily am at a loss how to send it to-night. If I cannot send it to-night, it will come by the next post.
“Pray, do not omit any thing mentioned in this letter. God bless you for ever and ever.—I am your dutiful son,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
“TO MISS PORTER AT MRS. JOHNSON'S, IN LICHFIELD.
“ 16th Jan. 1759. “MY DEAR MISS,– I think myself obliged to you beyond all expression of gratitude for your care of my dear mother. God grant it may not be without success. Tell Kitty that I shall never forget her tenderness for her mistress. Whatever you can do, continue to do. My heart is very full.
1 Since the publication of the third edition of this work, the following letters of Dr. Johnson, occasioned by the last illness of his mother, were obligingly communicated to Mr. Malone, by the Rev. Dr. Vyse. They are placed here agreeably to the chronological order almost uniformly observed by the authour; and so strongly evince Dr. Johnson's piety and tenderness of heart, that every reader must be gratified by their insertion.—MALONE.
Written by mistake for 1759, as the subsequent letters show (see ante, p. 323]. In the next letter, he had inadvertently fallen into the same errour, but corrected it. On the outside of the letter of the 13th was written by another hand—“ Pray
owledge the receipt of this by return of post, without fail." -Malone
3 Six of these twelve guineas Johnson appears to have borrowed from Mr. Allen, the printer. See Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 366, 1.-MALONE.
“I hope you received twelve guineas on Monday. I found a way of sending them by means of the postmaster, after I had written my letter, and hope they came safe. I will send you more in a few days. God bless you all. I am, my dear, your most obliged and most humble servant, “ Sam. JOHNSON.
“Over the leaf is a letter to my mother.”
" 16th Jan. 1759.
I have nothing to add to my last letter. I am, dear, dear mother, your
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”
“ TO MRS. JOHNSON, IN LICHFIELD.
6 18th Jan. 1759.
“DEAR HONOURED MOTHER,—I fear you are too ill for long Malone. letters; therefore I will only tell you, you have from me all the regard that can possibly subsist in the heart. I pray God to bless you for evermore, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
“Let miss write to me every post, however short.
“ TO MISS PORTER, AT MRS. JOHNSON'S, IN LICHFIELD.
“ 20th Jan. 1759. “Dear MISS,—I will, if it be possible, come down to you. Malone. God grant I may yet [find] my dear mother breathing and sensible. Do not tell her lest I disappoint her. If I miss to write next post, I am on the road. I am, my dearest miss, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON. « On the other side.”
Catherine Chambers, Mrs. Johnson's maid-servant. She died in October, 1767. See Dr. Johnson's Prayers and Meditations, p. 71: “Sunday, Oct. 18, 1767. Yesterday, Oct. 17, I took my leave for ever of my dear old friend, Catherine Chambers, who came to live with my mother about 1724, and has been but little parted from us since. She buried my father, my brother, and my mother. She is now fifty-eight years old."-MALONE.
“ 20th Jan. 1759. “ DEAR HONOURED MOTHER',-Neither your condition nor your character make it fit for me to say much. You have been the best mother, and I believe the best woman in the world. I thank you for your indulgence to me, and beg forgiveness of all that I have done ill, and all that I have omitted to do well ?. God grant you his Holy Spirit, and receive you to everlasting happiness, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen. Lord Jesus receive your spirit. Amen.— I am, dear, dear mother, your dutiful son,
“ TO MISS PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
“ 23d Jan. 17593. “ You will conceive my sorrow for the loss of my mother, of the best mother. If she were to live again, surely I should behave better to her. But she is happy, and what is past is nothing to her ; and for me, since I cannot repair my faults to her, I hope repentance will efface them. I return you and all those that have been good to her my sincerest thanks, and pray
God to repay you all with infinite advantage. Write to me, and comfort me, dear child. I shall be glad likewise, if Kitty will write to me. I shall send a bill of twenty pounds in a few days, which I thought to have brought to my mother; but God suffered it not. I have not power or composure to say
much God bless you, and bless us all. I am, dear miss, your affectionate humble servant,
« SAM. JOHNSON."
["TO MISS LUCY PORTER.
66 25th Jan. 1759. (The beginning of the writing torn and lost.)
“You will forgive me if I am not yet so composed as to give any directions about any thing. But you are wiser and better than I, and I shall be pleased with all that you shall do. It is not of any use for me now to come down*; nor can I bear the place.
· This letter was written on the second leaf of the preceding, addressed to Miss Porter.-MALONE.
. So, in the prayer which he composed on this occasion: “ Almighty God, merciful Father, in whose hands are life and death, sanctify unto me the sorrow which I now feel. Forgive me whatever I have done unkindly to my mother, and whatever I have omitted to do kindly. Make me to remember her good precepts and good example, and to reform
my life according to thy holy word, &c.”- Prayers and Meditations, p. 31.-MALONE.
3 Mrs. Johnson probably died on the 20th or 21st January, and was buried on the day this letter was written.-MALONE.
* [Mr. Murphy states : “With this supply (the price of Rasselas) Johnson set out for Lichfield; but did not arrive in time to close the eyes of a parent
If you want any directions, Mr. Howard' will advise
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”
Pearson 66 6th Feb, 1759.
MSS. “DEAR miss,—I have no reason to forbear writing, but that it makes my heart heavy, and I had nothing particular to say which might not be delayed to the next post; but had no thoughts of ceasing to correspond with my dear Lucy, the only person now left in the world with whom I think myself connected. There needed not my dear mother's desire, for every heart must lean to somebody, and I have nobody but you;
in whom I
little affairs with too much confidence to desire you to keep receipts
to keep receipts as you prudently proposed. “ If you and Kitty will keep the house, I think I shall like it best. Kitty may carry on the trade for herself, keeping her own stock apart, and laying aside any money that she receives for any of the goods, which her good mistress has left behind her. I do not see, if this scheme be followed, any need of appraising the books. My mother's debts, dear mother, I suppose I may pay with little difficulty; and the little trade may go silently forward. I fancy Kitty can do nothing better ; and I shall not want to put her out of a house, where she has lived so long, and with so much virtue. I am very sorry that she is ill, and earnestly hope that she will soon recover; let her know that I have the highest value for her, and would do any thing for her advantage. Let her think of this proposal. I do not see any likelier method by which she may pass the remaining part of her life in quietness and competence.
“ You must have what part of the house you please, while you are inclined to stay in it; but I flatter myself with the hope that
you and I shall some time pass our days together. I am very solitary and comfortless, but will not invite you to come hither till I can have hope of making you live here so as not to dislike your situation. Pray, my dearest, write to me as often as you can. I am, dear madam, your affectionate humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”]
whom he loved. He attended the funeral, which, as appears among his memorandums, was on the 23d of January, 1759." It is clear, from all these letters, that he did not personally attend on that occasion, and the memorandum mentioned must have referred to the date or expenses of the funeral, and not to his own presence. Rasselas was not written, nor of course, it may be presumed, sold, till two months la:er.-Ed.]
'[Mr. Howard was in the law, and resided in the Close. He was grandfather of the present lady of Sir Robert Wilmot, Bart. of Osmaston, near Derby.--Harwoon.]