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time; I suppose on some of his cursed politics; but he returned I at him again, and heard from his lips what, believe me, I delighted to hear, and took care to write down soon after. I have read his History of the Stage, which is a very capital piece of criticism and antiagrarianism. I shall now read all Shakspeare through, in a very different manner from what I have yet done, when I have got such a commentator.' Will not this do for you, my friend? Burke was admirable company all that day. He never once, I think, mentioned the French revolution, and was easy with me, as in days of old."
"Dec. 16. I was sadly mortified at the Club on Tuesday, where I was in the chair, and on opening the box found three balls against General Burgoyne. Present, besides moi, Lord Ossory, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Joseph Banks, Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Burney, young Burke, Courtenay, Steevens. One of the balls, I do believe, was put into the no side by Fordyce by mistake. You may guess who put in the other two. Bishop of Carlisle and Dr. Blagden are put up. I doubt if the latter will be admitted, till Burgoyne gets in first. My work has met with a delay for a little while not a whole day, however by an unaccountable neglect in having paper enough in readiness. have now before me p. 256. My utmost wish is to come forth on Shrove Tuesday (8th March). Wits are game cocks,' &c. Langton is in town, and dines with me to-morrow quietly, and revises his Collectanea." (1)
"Jan. 18. 1791. I have been so disturbed by sad money-matters, that my mind has been quite fretful: 500l. which I borrowed and lent to a first cousin, an
(1) [See antè, Vol. VII. p. 350.]
unlucky captain of an Indiaman, were due on the 15th to a merchant in the city. I could not possibly raise that sum, and was apprehensive of being hardly used. He, however, indulged me with an allowance to make partial payments; 1507. in two months, 1507. in eight months, and the remainder, with the interests, in eighteen months. How I am to manage I am at a loss, and I know you cannot help me. So this, upon my honour, is no hint. I am really tempted to accept of the 1000%. for my Life of Johnson. Yet it would go to my heart to sell it at a price which I think much too low. Let me struggle and hope. I cannot be out on Shrove Tuesday, as I flattered myself. P. 376. of Vol. II. is ordered for press, and I expect another proof to-night. But I have yet near 200 pages of copy besides letters, and the death, which is not yet written. My second volume will, I see, be forty or fifty pages more than my first. Your absence is a woful want in all respects. You will, I dare say, perceive a difference in the part which is revised only by myself, and in which many insertions will appear. My spirits are at present bad: but I will mention all I can recollect.'
"Jan. 29. 1791. You will find this a most desponding and disagreeable letter, for which I ask your pardon. But your vigour of mind and warmth of heart make your friendship of such consequence, that it is drawn upon like a bank. I have, for some weeks, had the most woful return of melancholy, insomuch that I have not only had no relish of any thing, but a continual uneasiness, and all the prospect before me for the rest of life has seemed gloomy and hopeless. The state of my affairs is exceedingly embarrassed. I mentioned to you that the 500l. which I borrowed several years ago, and lent to a first cousin, an unfortunate India captain, must now be paid; 150l. on the 18th of March, 1507. on the 18th of October, and 2577. 15s. 6d.
on the 18th of July, 1792. This debt presses upon my mind, and it is uncertain if I shall ever get a shilling of it again. The clear money on which I can reckon out of my estate is scarcely 9007. a year. What can I do? My grave brother urges me to quit London, and live at my seat in the country; where he thinks that I might be able to save so as gradually to relieve myself. But, alas! I should be absolutely miserable. In the mean time, such are my projects and sanguine expectations, that you know I purchased an estate which was given long ago to a younger son of our family, and came to be sold last autumn, and paid for it 2500l. —15007. of which I borrow upon itself by a mortgage. But the remaining 1000l. I cannot conceive a possibility of raising, but by the mode of annuity; which is, I believe, a very heavy disadvantage. I own it was imprudent in me to make a clear purchase at a time when I was sadly straitened ; but if I had missed the opportunity, it never again would have occurred, and I should have been vexed to see an ancient appanage, a piece of, as it were, the flesh and blood of the family, in the hands of a stranger. And now that I have made the purchase, I should feel myself quite despicable should I give it up.
"In this situation, then, my dear Sir, would it not be wise in me to accept of 1000 guineas for my Life of Johnson, supposing the person who made the offer should now stand to it, which I fear may not be the case; for two volumes may be considered as a disadvantageous circumstance? Could I indeed raise 10007. upon the credit of the work, I should incline to game, as Sir Joshua says; because it may produce double the money, though Steevens kindly tells me that I have over-printed, and that the curiosity about Johnson is now only in our own circle. Pray decide for me; and if, as I suppose, you are for my taking the offer, inform me with whom I am to treat. In my present state of spirits, I am all timidity. Your absence has been a
severe stroke to me. I am at present quite at a loss what to do. Last week they gave me six sheets. have now before me in proof p. 456.: yet I have above 100 pages of my copy remaining, besides his death, which is yet to be written, and many insertions, were there room, as also seven-and-thirty letters, exclusive of twenty to Dr. Brocklesby, most of which will furnish only extracts. I am advised to extract several of those to others, and leave out some; for my first volume makes only 516 pages, and to have 600 in the second will seem awkward, besides increasing the expense considerably. The counsellor, indeed, has devised an ingenious way to thicken the first volume, by prefixing the index. I have now desired to have but one compositor. Indeed, I go sluggishly and comfortlessly about my work. As I pass your door I cast many a longing look.
"I am to cancel a leaf of the first volume, having found that though Sir Joshua certainly assured me he had no objection to my mentioning that Johnson wrote a dedication for him, he now thinks otherwise. In that leaf occurs the mention of Johnson having written to Dr. Leland, thanking the University of Dublin for their diploma. What shall I say as to it? I have also room to state shortly the anecdote of the college cook, which I beg you may get for me. I shall be very
anxious till I hear from you.
Having harassed you with so much about myself, I have left no room for any thing else. We had a numerous club on Tuesday: Fox in the chair, quoting Homer and Fielding, &c. to the astonishment of Jo. Warton; who, with Langton and Seward, eat a plain bit with me, in my new house, last Saturday. Sir Joshua has put up Dr. Lawrence, who will be blackballed as sure as he exists. (1)
"We dined on Wednesday at Sir Joshua's; thirteen
(1) [Dr. Lawrence was blackballed, and did not become a member of the Club till December 1802.]
without Miss P. Himself, Blagden, Batt, [Lawrence,] Erskine, Langton, Dr. Warton, Metcalfe, Dr. Lawrence, his brother, a clergyman, Sir Charles Bunbury, myself.”
"Feb. 10. 1791. Yours of the 5th reached me yesterday. I instantly went to the Don, who purchased for you at the office of Hazard and Co. a half, stamped by government and warranted undrawn, of No. 43,152. in the English State Lottery. I have marked on the back of it " Edmond, Henrietta, and Catherine Malone," and if Fortune will not favour those three united, I shall blame her. This half shall lie in my bureau with my one whole one, till you desire it to be placed elsewhere. The cost with registration is 81. 12s. 6d. A half is always proportionally dearer than a whole. I bought my ticket at Nicholson's the day before, and paid 167. 8s. for it. I did not look at the number, but sealed it up. In the evening a handbill was circulated by Nicholson, that a ticket the day before sold at his office for 167. 8s. was drawn a prize of 5000%. The number was mentioned in the handbill. I had resolved not to know what mine was till after the drawing of the lottery was finished, that I might not receive a sudden shock of blank; but this unexpected circumstance, which elated me by calculating that mine must certainly be one of 100, or at most 200 sold by Nicholson the day before, made me look at the two last figures of it; which, alas! were 48, whereas those of the fortunate one were 33. I have remanded my ticket to its secrecy. O! could I but get a few thousands, what a difference would it make upon my state of mind, which is harassed by thinking of my debts. I am anxious to hear your determination as to my Magnum Opus. I am very very unwilling to part with the property of it, and certainly would not, if I could but get credit for 1000l. for three or four years. Could you not assist me in that way, on the security of the book,