Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the first Sunday in the month; and was at prayers there in the evening. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to God for granting me.

"The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet; I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines from you.

"Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to show me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted. (1) In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the post-office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more, my dear Sir, your affectionate and obliged humble servant, JAMES BOSWELL."

LETTER 364. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.

[ocr errors]

"London, Nov. 13. 1779.

"DEAR SIR, -Your last letter was not only kind, but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures, nor aggra

(1) His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order I should think a sufficient refutation of the idle rumour that "there was still something behind the throne greater than the throne itself."

[blocks in formation]

vate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state. Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit Please yourself with your wife and children, and studies, and practice.

usquam.

"I have sent a petition (1) from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to any thing that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.

"If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son. "How near is the cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well. Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.

"Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved. He has not bathed, but hunted. At Bolt Court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility. (2) I have had a cold, but it is gone. Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c. I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON."

On November 22. and December 21., I wrote to

(1) Requesting me to inquire concerning the family of a gentleman who was then paying his addresses to Miss Doxy. (2) See antè, p. 233.

[ocr errors]

him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover;-that after a good deal of inquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary; — that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's, which he had retained; — and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence ; that I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter to Lord Chesterfield; and that this memento, like Delenda est Carthago, must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object.

LETTER 365. TO MRS. THRALE.

"London. Oct. 25. 1779.

"On Saturday I walked to Dover Street and back. Yesterday I dined with Sir Joshua. There was Mr. Eliot (1) of Cornwall, who inquired after my master. At night I was bespoken by Lady Lucan; but she was taken ill, and the assembly was put off. I am to dine with Renny to-morrow. Some old gentlewomen at the next door are in very great distress. Their little annuity comes from Jamaica, and is therefore uncertain and one of them has had a fall, and both are very helpless; and the poor have you to help them. Persua le my master to let me give them something for him. will be bestowed upon real want."

(1) First Lord Eliot. See post, sub 30th March, 1781. —

It

CHAPTER X.

1780.

"Lives of the Poets" completed. · Dr. Lawrence – Loss of a Wife. - Death of Topham Beauclerk. Letter-writing. Mr. Melmoth. Fitzosborne's Letters. Somerset-House Exhibition. Riots in Lord George Gordon. Mr. Akerman.

London.

Correspondence.·

[ocr errors]

Dr. Beattie.- Davies's " Life

of Garrick." - Advice to a Young Clergyman.Composition of Sermons.

[ocr errors]

Borough Election. Lady Southwell. - Mr. Alexander Macbean. Lord Thurlow. Langton's Collectanea. Dr.

Franklin's "Demonax."

IN 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the completion of his "Lives of the Poets," upon which he was employed so far as his indolence allowed him to labour.

I wrote to him on January 1. and March 13., sending him my notes of Lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope; - complaining that I had not heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my debt; that I had suffered again from melancholy; - hoping that he had been in so much better company (the Poets), that he had not time to think of his distant friends; for if that were the case, I should have some recompence for my uneasiness; - that the state of my affairs did not admit of my coming to London this year; and beg

ging he would return me Goldsmith's two poems, with his lines marked.

His friend Dr. Lawrence having now suffered the greatest affliction to which a man is liable, and which Johnson himself had felt in the most severe manner, Johnson wrote to him in an admirable strain of sympathy and pious consolation.

LETTER 366.

TO DR. LAWRENCE.

"Jan. 20. 1780

"DEAR SIR,At a time when all your friends ought to show their kindness, and with a character which ought to make all that know you your friends, you may wonder that you have yet heard nothing from me. I have been hindered by a vexatious and incessant cough, for which within these ten days I have been bled once, fasted four or five times, taken physic five times, and opiates, I think, six. This day it seems to remit.

"The loss, dear Sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can had from consolation. He that outlives a wife who he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.

"Our first recourse in this distressed solitude is, perhaps for want of habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal beings, one must

« AnteriorContinua »