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lier. (1) I have not money beforehand sufficient. How long have you known Collier, that you should put yourself into his hands? I once told you that ladies were timorous and yet not cautious.
If I might tell my thoughts to one with whom they never had any weight, I should think it best to go through France. The expense is not great; I do not much like obligation, nor think the grossness of a ship very suitable to a lady. Do not go till I see you. I will see you as soon as I can. I am, my dearest, most sincerely yours, SAM. JOHNSON.
LETTER 487. TO FRANCIS FOWKE, ESQ. (2)
SIR, I received some weeks ago a collection of papers, which contain the trial of my dear friend, Joseph Fowke, of whom I cannot easily be induced to think otherwise than well, and who seems to have been injured by the prosecution and the sentence. His first desire is, that I should prepare his narrative for the press; his second, that if I cannot gratify him by
(1) Captain Collier, since Sir George, proposed at that time to sail to the Mediterranean with his lady.-MISS REYNOLDS.-And it would seem offered Miss Reynolds a passage; and Miss Reynolds appears to have wished that Johnson might be of the party. Sir Joshua had gone to the Mediterranean in a similar way with Captain Keppel.-C.
(2) See antè, Vol. VI. p. 136. and 140. Mr. J. Fowke, who died about 1794, was born about the year 1715, and entered into the service of the East India Company at the age of seventeen. He remained at Fort St. George till 1748, and when he returned to England was offered the government either of Bengal or Madras. This offer was by no means so advantageous as it would be at present; Mr. Fowke therefore declined it, and remained in England until 1771. At this period he returned to India, where some differences of opinion unfortunately occurred between him and the Provisional Government, which ended in his being tried in June, 1775, in the Supreme Court of Bengal, under two indictments. In the first of these trials the verdict was, not guilty. In the second, in which Mr. Fowke was implicated with Nundocomar and Rada Churn, the verdict was," Joseph Fowke and Nundocomar, guilty; Rada Churn, not guilty." In the year 1788, Mr. Fowke finally quitted Bengal, with a recommendation from Lord Cornwallis to the Court of Directors, as a person entitled to receive the pension which was promised to their servants returning from Bengal out of employment. This recommendation was, however, rejected. After a lapse of some time, the claim was brought forward by Mr. Burke in the House of Commons, and a resolution was made in his favour. See also p. 119. of the present volume.
publication, I would transmit the papers to you. To a compliance with his first request I have this objection; that I live in a reciprocation of civilities with Mr. Hastings, and therefore cannot properly diffuse a narrative, intended to bring upon him the censure of the public. Of two adversaries, it would be rash to condemn either upon the evidence of the other; and a common friend must keep himself suspended, at least till he has heard both.
I am therefore ready to transmit to you the papers, which have been seen only by myself; and beg to be informed how they may be conveyed to you. I see no legal objection to the publication; and of prudential reasons, Mr. Fowke and you will be allowed to be fitter judges. If you would have me send them, let me have proper directions: if a messenger is to call for them, give me notice by the post, that they may be ready for delivery. To my dear Mr. Fowke any good would give me pleasure; I hope for some opportunity of performing the duties of friendship to him, without violating them with regard to another. I am, Sir, &c.
LETTER 488. TO MRS. THRALE.
London, April 9. 1781.
DEAREST MADAM, That you are gradually recovering your tranquillity is the effect to be humbly expected from trust in God. Do not represent life as darker than it is. Your loss has been very great, but you retain more than almost any other can hope to possess. You are high in the opinion of mankind; you have children from whom much pleasure may be expected; and that you will find many friends you have no reason to doubt. Of my friendship, be it more or less, I hope you think yourself certain, without much art or care. It will not be easy for me to repay the benefits that I have received; but I hope to be always ready at your call. Our sorrow has different effects: you are withdrawn into solitude, and I am driven into company. I am afraid of thinking what I have
lost. I never had such a friend before. Let me have your prayers and those of my dear Queeney. The prudence and resolution of your design to return so soon to your business and your duty deserves great praise: I shall communicate it on Wednesday to the other executors.
TO THE SAME.
DEAREST MADAM, · You will not suppose that much has happened since last night, nor is this indeed a time for talking much of loss and gain. The business of Christians is now for a few days in their own bosoms. God grant us to do it properly! I hope you gain ground on your affliction: I hope to overcome mine. You and Miss must comfort one another. May you long live happily together! I have nobody whom I expect to share my uneasiness; nor, if I could communicate it, would it be less. I give it little vent, and amuse it as I can. Let us pray for one another; and when we meet, we may try what fidelity and tenderness will do for us. There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow; but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved, nor will, by me at least, be thought worthy of esteem.
Oxford, Oct. 17. 1781. On Monday evening arrived at the Angel inn at Oxford Mr. Johnson and Mr. Barber, without any sinister accident. I am here; but why am I here? on my way to Lichfield, where I believe Mrs. Aston will be glad to see me. We have known each other long, and, by consequence, are both old; and she is paralytic; and if I do not see her soon, I may see her no more in this world. To make a visit on such considerations is to go on a melancholy errand. But such is the course of life. This place is very empty, but there are more here whom I know than I could have expected. Young Burke (1) has just
(1) Richard, the son of Edmund Burke, at this period at Oxford. He died in 1794, æt. 36. His afflicted father has immortalised him in many
been with me, and I have dined to-day with Dr. Adams, who seems fond of me.
Lichfield, Oct. 20. 1781. I wrote from Oxford, where I staid two days. On Thursday I went to Birmingham, and was told by Hector that I should not be well so soon as I expected; but that well I should be. Mrs. Careless took me under her care, and told me when I had tea enough. On Friday I came hither, and have escaped the postchaises (1) all the way. Every body here is as kind as I expected; I think Lucy is kinder than ever.
Oct. 27. Poor Lucy's illness has left her very deaf, and, I think, very inarticulate. I can scarcely make her understand me, and she can hardly make me understand her. So here are merry doings. But she seems to like me better than she did. She eats very little, but does not fall away. Mrs. Cobb and Peter Garrick are as you left them. Garrick's legatees at this place are very angry that they receive nothing. Things are not quite right, though we are so far from London. (2)
Ashbourne, Nov. 10. Yesterday I came to Ashbourne, and last night I had very little rest. Dr. Taylor lives on milk, and grows every day better, and is not wholly without hope. Every body inquires after you and Queeney; but whatever [Miss] Burney may think of the celerity of fame, the name of Evelina had never been heard at Lichfield till I brought it. I am afraid my dear townsmen will be mentioned in future days as the last part of this nation that was civilised. But the days of darkness are soon to be at an end. The reading society ordered it to be procured this week.
Nov. 24. — I shall leave this place about the beginning of next week, and shall leave every place as fast as I decently can,
pathetic passages of his later works, and particularly in his celebrated "Letter to a Noble Lord." — C.
(1) He means escaped the expense of postchaises, by happening to find places in stage-coaches. — C.
(2) Dr. Johnson always controverted the commonplace observation of the superior purity and happiness of country life. — C.
till I get back to you, whose kindness is one of my great comforts. I am not well, but have a mind every now and then to think myself better, and I now hope to be better under your
Lichfield, Dec. 3. I am now come back to Lichfield, where I do not intend to stay long enough to receive another letter. I have little to do here but to take leave of Mrs. Aston. I hope not the last leave. But Christians may with more confidence than Sophonisba
"Avremo tosto lungo lungo spazio
Per stare assieme, et sarà forse eterno." (1)
My time passed heavily at Ashbourne; yet I could not easily get away; though Taylor, I sincerely think, was glad to see me go. I have now learned the inconvenience of a winter campaign; but I hope home will make amends for all my foolish sufferings.
Birmingham, Dec. 8. I am come to this place on my way to London and to Streatham. I hope to be in London on Tuesday or Wednesday, and at Streatham on Thursday, by your kind conveyance. I shall have nothing to relate either wonderful or delightful. But remember that you sent me away, and turned me out into the world, and you must take the chance of finding me better or worse. This you may know at present, that my affection for you is not diminished; and my expectation from you is increased. Do not neglect me, nor relinquish me. Nobody will ever love you better or honour you more than, Madam, yours, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.
LETTER 491. TO RICHARD BEATRIFFE, ESQ
Bolt Court, Feb. 14. 1782.
SIR. Robert Levet, with whom I have been connected by a friendship of many years, died lately at my house. His
(1) [This quotation is from the tragedy of " Sofonisba," by Trissino, one of the earliest Italian tragedians. For an account of the author and tragedy, see Ginguene's Histoire Litteraire d'Italie, tom, vi. p. 4. --MARKLAND.]