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has seized you severely : sometimes my imagination, which is upon occasions prolific of evil, hath figured that you may have somehow taken offence at some part of my conduct.”
Letrer 231. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ Dec. 23. 1775. « DEAR SIR, Never dream of any offence. How
offend me? I consider your friendship as a possession, which I intend to hold till you take it from me, and to lament if ever by my fault I should lose it. However, when such suspicions find their way into your mind, always give them vent; I shall make haste to disperse them ; but hinder their first ingress if
Consider such thoughts as morbid. “ Such illness as may excuse my omission to Lord Hailes I cannot honestly plead. I have been hindered, I know not how, by a succession of petty obstructions. I hope to mend immediately, and to send next post to his lordship. Mr. Thrale would have written to you if I had omitted ; he sends his compliments, and wishes to see you.
“ You and your lady will now have no more wrangling about feudal inheritance.
How does the young Laird of Auchinleck? I suppose Miss Veronica is grown a reader and discourser. I have just now got a cough, but it has never yet hindered me from sleeping; I have had quieter nights than are common with me. I cannot but rejoice that Joseph (1) has had the wit to find the way back. He is a fine fellow, and one of the best travellers in the world.
Young Col brought me your letter. He is a very
(1) Joseph Ritter, a Bohemian, who was in my service many years, and attended Dr. Johnson and me in our tour to the Hebrides. After having left me for some time, he had now returned to me.
pleasing youth. I took him two days ago to the Mitre, and we dined together. I was as civil as I had the means of being. I have had a letter from Rasay, acknowledging, with great appearance of satisfaction, the insertion in the Edinburgh paper. I am very glad that it was done.
My compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who does not love me ; and of all the rest, I need only send them to those that do ; and I am afraid it will give you very little trouble to distribute them. — I am, my dear, dear &c.
- Sam. JOHNSON.”
LETTER 232. TO MR. GRANGER. (*)
(About 1775, but has no date.) SIR, — When I returned from the country I found your letter; and would very gladly have done what you desire, had it been in my power.
Mr. Farmer is, I am confident, mistaken in supposing that he gave me any such pamphlet or cut. I should as soon have suspected myself, as Mr. Farmer, of forgetfulness; but that I do not know, except from your letter, the name of Arthur O'Toole (2), nor recollect that I ever heard of it before. I think it impossible that I should have suffered such a total obliteration from my mind of any thing which was ever there.
This at least is certain ; that I do not know of any such pamphlet; and equally certain I desire you to think it, that if I had it, you should immediately receive it from, Sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
(1) Author of the “ Biographical History of England.”- C.
(2) [The pamphlet alluded to was written by John Taylor, the water-poet, and entitled “Honour of the Noble Captain O'Toole, 1622." Some account of O'Toole will be found in Granger, vol. ii. p. 100.]
Law of Entail.— Boswell's Melancholy. - John Wesley.
Clarendon Press. Booksellers' Profits. Bolt Court. Mrs. Thrale's Birth-day. — Entails. Smith's “ Wealth of Nations." — Lawyers and Lawsuits. - Scotch Militia Bill. Obligation in settling Estates. " Johnsoniana.” Value of Truth. Monastic Orders. Carthusians. Religious Austerities. · Wine-bibbing. - · Fasting. Influence of Education. - Arithmetic. Sea Life.
In 1776, Johnson wrote, so far as I can discover, nothing for the public: but that his mind was still ardent, and fraught with generous wishes to attain to still higher degrees of literary excellence, is proved by his private notes of this year, which I shall insert in their proper place.
LETTER 233. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
« Jan. 10. 1776. 6 DEAR SIR,
- I have at last sent you all Lord Hailes's papers. While I was in France, I looked very often into Henault ; but Lord Hailes, in my opinion, leaves him far and far behind. Why I did not despatch so short a perusal sooner, when I look back, I am utterly unable to discover ; but human moments are stolen away by a thousand petty impediments which leave no trace behind them. I have been afflicted, through the whole
Christmas, with the general disorder, of which the worst effect was a cough, which is now much mitigated, though the country, on which I look from a window at Streatham, is now covered with a deep snow. Mrs. Williams is very ill : every body else is as usual. Among the
I found a letter to you, which I think you had not opened ; and a paper (1) for “ The
1; Chronicle,' which I suppose it not necessary now to insert. I return them both. I have, within these few days, had the honour of receiving Lord Hailes's first volume, for which I return my most respectful thanks.
“ I wish you, my dearest friend, and your haughty lady, (for I know she does not love me,) and the young ladies, and the young laird, all happiness. Teach the young gentleman, in spite of his mamma, to think and speak well of, Sir, your affectionate humble servant,
“ SAM. Johnson."
At this time was in agitation a matter of great consequence to me and my family, which I should not obtrude upon the world, were it not that the part which Dr. Johnson's friendship for me made him take in it was the occasion of an exertion of his abilities, which it would be injustice to conceal. That what he wrote upon the subject may be understood, it is necessary to give a state of the question, which I shall do as briefly as I can.
In the year 1504, the barony or manor of Auchinleck (pronounced Affléck) in Ayrshire, which belonged to a family of the same name with the lands, having fallen to the crown by forfeiture, James the Fourth, King of Scotland, granted it to Thomas
(1) No doubt an advertisement of apology to Rasay. - C.
ENTAIL OF AUCHINLECK.
Boswell, a branch of an ancient family in the county of Fife, styling him in the charter, “ dilecto familiari nostro ;” and assigning as the cause of the grant, “pro bono et fideli servitio nobis præstito.” Thomas Boswell was slain in battle, fighting along with his sovereign, at the fatal field of Flodden, in 1513. From this
honourable founder of our family, the estate was transmitted, in a direct series of heirsmale, to David Boswell, my father's great-granduncle, who had no sons, but four daughters, who were all respectably married, the eldest to Lord Cathcart.
David Boswell, being resolute in the military feudal principle of continuing the male succession, passed by his daughters, and settled the estate on his nephew by his next brother, who approved of the deed, and renounced any pretensions which he might possibly have, in preference to his son. But the estate having been burthened with large portions to the daughters, and other debts, it was necessary for the nephew to sell a considerable part of it, and what remained was still much encumbered.
The frugality of the nephew preserved, and, in some degree, relieved the estate. His son, my grandfather, an eminent lawyer, not only re-purchased a great part of what had been sold, but acquired other lands; and my father, who was one of the judges of Scotland, and had added considerably to the estate, now signified his inclination to take the privilege allowed by our law (1), to secure it to his family in
(1) Acts of Parliament of Scotland, 1685, cap. 22.