Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

large moorish farm which I had purchased, and he made several calculations of the expense and profit; for he delighted in exercising his mind on the science of numbers. He pressed upon me the importance of planting at the first in a very sufficient manner, quoting the saying, " In bello non licet bis errare:" and adding, "this is equally true in planting."

I spoke with gratitude of Dr. Taylor's hospitality; and as evidence that it was not on account of his good table alone that Johnson visited him often, I mentioned a little anecdote which had escaped my friend's recollection, and at hearing which repeated, he smiled. One evening, when I was sitting with him, Frank delivered this message: "Sir, Dr. Taylor sends his compliments to you, and begs you will dine with him to-morrow. He has got a hare." My compliments," said Johnson, "and I'll dine with him hare or rabbit."

[ocr errors]

After breakfast I departed, and pursued my journey northwards.(1) I took my post-chaise from the

Boswell is gone, and is, I' though to look on any

(1) "Ashbourne, Sept. 25. 1777. hope, pleased that he has been here; thing with pleasure is not very common. good-humoured in his usual way, but we any other expedition.

He has been gay and have not agreed upon

"September 29. He says, his wife does not love me quite well yet, though we have made a formal peace. He kept his journal very diligently; but then what was there to journalise ? I should be glad to see what he says of [Taylor]."

"Oct. 13.- -I cannot but think on your kindness and my master's. Life has, upot the whole, fallen short, very short, of my early expectation; b. the acquisition of such a friendship, at an age when new friendships are seldom acquired, is something better than the general course of things gives man a right to expect. I think on it with great delight. I am not very apt to be delighted."

Green Man, a very good inn at Ashbourne, the mis tress of which, a mighty civil gentlewoman, courtsying very low, presented me with an engraving of the sign of her house; to which she had subjoined, in her own hand-writing, an address in such singular simplicity of style, that I have preserved it pasted upon one of the boards of my original Journal at this time, and shall here insert it for the amusement of my readers:

" M. Killingley's duty waits upon Mr. Boswell, is exceedingly obliged to him for this favour; whenever he comes this way, hopes for a continuance of the same. Would Mr. Boswell name the house to his extensive ac

"Lichfield, Oct. 22. — I am come, at last, to Lichfield, and am really glad that I have got away from a place where there was indeed no evil, but very little good. My visit to Stowhill has been paid. I have seen there a collection of misery. Mrs. Aston paralytic, Mrs. Walmsley lame, Mrs. Hervey blind, and I think another lady deaf. Even such is life. I hope dear Mrs. Aston is a little better; it is, however, very little. She was, I believe, glad to see me; and to have any body glad to see me is a great pleasure." *

"Lichfield, Oct. 29. -Though after my last letter I might justly claim an interval of rest, yet I write again to tell you, that for this turn you will hear but once more from Lichfield. This day is Wednesday-on Saturday I shall write again, and on Monday I shall set out to seek adventures; for you know,→ None but the brave desert the fair.' On Monday we hope to see Birmingham, the seat of the mechanic arts; and I know not whether our next stage will be Oxford, the mansion of the liberal arts; or London, the residence of all the arts together. The chymists call the world Academia Paracelsi; my ambition is to be his fellow-student-to see the works of nature, and hear the lectures of truth. To London, therefore! London may, perhaps, fill me; and I hope to fill my part of London."Letters to Mrs. Thrale.

"Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to the ladies at Stowhill, of whom ne would have taken a more formal leave, but that he was willing to spare a ceremony which he hopes would have been no pleasure to them, and Would have been painful to himself."

quaintance, it would be a singular favour conferred on one who has it not in her power to make any other return but her most grateful thanks, and sincerest prayers for his happiness in time, and in a blessed eternity." "Tuesday morning."

From this meeting at Ashbourne I derived a considerable accession to my Johnsonian store. I communicated my original Journal to Sir William Forbes, in whom I have always placed deserved confidence; and what he wrote to me concerning it is so much to my credit as the biographer of Johnson, that my readers will, I hope, grant me their indulgence for here inserting it: "It is not once or twice going over it," says Sir William, "that will satisfy me; for I find in it a high degree of instruction as well as entertainment; and I derive more benefit from Dr. Johnson's admirable discussions than I should be able to draw from his personal conversation; for I suppose there is not a man in the world to whom he discloses his sentiments so freely as to yourself."

I cannot omit a curious circumstance which occurred at Edensor-inn, close by Chatsworth, to survey the magnificence of which I had gone a considerable way out of my road to Scotland. The inn was then kept by a very jolly landlord, whose name, I think, was Malton. He happened to mention that "the celebrated Dr. Johnson had been in his house." I inquired who this Dr. Johnson was, that I might hear my host's notion of him. "Sir," said he, "Johnson, the great writer; Oddity, as they call him. He's the greatest writer in England; he

writes for the ministry; he has a correspondence abroad, and lets them know what's going on."

My friend, who had a thorough dependence upon the authenticity of my relation without any embellishment, as falsehood or fiction is too gently called, laughed a good deal at this representation of himself.

LETTER 303. FROM MR. BOSWELL.

[ocr errors]

Edinburgh, Sept. 29. 1777. "MY DEAR SIR, By the first post I inform you of my safe arrival at my own house, and that I had the comfort of finding my wife and children all in good health.

"When I look back upon our late interview, it appears to me to have answered expectation better than almost any scheme of happiness that I ever put in execution. My Journal is stored with wisdom and wit; and my memory is filled with the recollection of lively and affectionate feelings, which now, I think, yield me more satisfaction than at the time when they were first excited. I have experienced this upon other occasions. I shall be obliged to you if you will explain it to me; for it seems wonderful that pleasure should be more vivid at a distance than when near. I wish you may find yourself in a humour to do me this favour; but I flatter myself with no strong hope of it; for I have observed, that, unless upon very serious occasions, your letters to me are not answers to those which I write." (I then expressed much uneasiness that I had mentioned to him the name of the gentleman (1) who had told me the story so much to his disadvantage, the truth of which he had completely refuted; for that my having done so might he interpreted as a breach of confidence, and

(1) Mr. Beauclerk. See antè, p. 13. — C.

offend one whose society I valued: therefore earnestly requesting that no notice might be taken of it to any body, till I should be in London, and have an opportunity to talk it over with the gentleman.)

LETTER 304. TO MRS. ASTON.

"DEAR MADAM,

"London, Nov. 20. 1777. Through Birmingham and Oxford I got without any difficulty or disaster to London, though not in so short a time as I expected, for I did not reach Oxford before the second day. I came home very much incommoded by obstructed respiration; but by vigorous methods am something better. I have since been at Brighthelmstone, and am now designing to settle.

"Different things, Madam, are fit for different people. It is fit for me to settle, and for you to move. I wish I could hear of you at Bath; but I am afraid that is hardly to be expected from your resolute inactivity. My next hope is that you will endeavour to grow well where you are. I cannot help thinking that I saw a visible amendment between the time when I left you to go to Ashbourne, and the time when I came back. hope you will go on mending and mending, to which exercise and cheerfulness will very much contribute. Take care, therefore, dearest Madam, to be busy and cheerful.

I

"I have great confidence in the care and conversation of dear Mrs. Gastrell. It is very much the interest of all that know her that she should continue well, for she is one of few people that has the proper regard for those that are sick. She was so kind to me that I hope I never shall forget it; and if it be troublesome to you to write, I shall hope that she will do me another act of kindness by answering this letter, for I beg that I may hear from you by some hand or another. I am, Madam, your, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."

« AnteriorContinua »