Page images

and Lawrence in my reach. Mrs. Allen is dead. My home has lost Levett; a man who took interest in every thing, and therefore ready at conversation. Mrs. Williams is so weak that she can be a companion no longer. When I rise, my breakfast is solitary; the black dog waits to share it. From breakfast to dinner he continues barking, except that Dr. Brocklesby for a little keeps him at a distance. Dinner with a sick woman you may venture to suppose not much better than solitary. After dinner, what remains but to count the clock, and hope for that sleep which I can scarce expect? Night comes at last, and some hours of restlessness and confusion bring me again to a day of solitude. What shall exclude the black dog from an habitation like this? If I were a little richer, I would perhaps take some cheerful female into the house.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

“Last night fresh flies were put to my head, and hindered me from sleeping. To-day I fancy myself incommoded with heat.

“I have, however, watered the garden both yesterday and today, just as I watered the laurels in the island"] [at Streatham.]

[Amidst all this distress and danger, we find by ED. the following and some subsequent letters to or concerning Mr. Lowe', that he was still ready to exert himself for his humble friend.

[blocks in formation]

“ Friday, 20th June, 1783. “SIR,—You know, I suppose, that a sudden illness makes

I it impracticable to me to wait on Mr. Barry, and the time is short. If it be your opinion that the end can be obtained by writing, I am very willing to write, and, perhaps, it may do as well: it is, at least, all that can be expected at present from, sir, your most humble servant,

“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ If you would have me write, come to me: I order your



“ London, 3d July, 1783. “ DEAR SIR, -Your anxiety about my

health is

very friendly

1 [Communicated by Mr. Markland from Mr. J. C. Freeling.Ed.] VOL. V.


and very agreeable with your general kindness. I have indeed had a very frightful blow. On the 17th of last month, about three in the morning, as near as I can guess, I perceived myself

I almost totally deprived of speech. I had no pain. My organs were so obstructed that I could say no, but could scarcely say yes. I wrote the necessary directions, for it pleased God to spare my hand, and sent for Dr. Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby. Between the time in which I discovered my own disorder, and that in which I sent for the doctors, I had, I believe, in spite of my surprise and solicitude, a little sleep, and nature began to renew its operations. They came and gave the directions which the disease required, and from that time I have been continually improving in articulation. I can now speak; but the nerves are weak, and I cannot continue discourse long ; but strength, I hope, will return. The physicians consider me as cured. I was last Sunday at church. On Tuesday I took an airing to Hampstead, and dined with the Club, where Lord Palmerston was proposed, and, against my opinion, was rejected. I designed to go next week with Mr. Langton to Rochester, where I purpose to stay about ten days, and then try some other air. I have many

kind invitations. Your brother has very frequently inquired after

Most of my friends have, indeed, been very attentive. Thank dear Lord Hailes for his present. “I hope you found at your return every thing gay and

prosperous, and your lady, in particular, quite recovered and confirmed. Pay her my respects. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,




Letters, vol. ii.

p. 286.



“London, 3d July, 1783. Dr. Brocklesby yesterday dismissed the cantharides, and I can now find a soft place upon my pillow. Last night was cool, and I rested well ; and this morning I have been a friend at a poetical difficulty. Here is now a glimpse of daylight again; but how near is the evening none can tell, and I will not prognosticate. We all know that from none of us it can be far distant: may none of us know this in vain !

“I went, as I took care to boast, on Tuesday to the Club, and hear that I was thought to have performed as well as usual.

“I dined on fish, with the wing of a small turkey-chick, and left roast beef, goose, and venison-pie untouched. I live much


1 His lordship was soon after chosen, and is now a member of the Club. BosweLL.

on pease, and never had them so good for so long a time in any year that I can remember.

[blocks in formation]

Along with your kind letter yesterday came one, likewise very kind, from the Astons at Lichfield; but I do not know whether, as the summer is so far advanced, I shall travel so far; though I am riot without hopes that frequent change of air may fortify me against the winter, which has been, in modern phrase, of late years very inimical to, madam, your, &c."]


London, 5th July, 1783. “ DEAR MADAM,—The account which you give of your

health is but melancholy. May it please God to restore you. My disease affected my speech, and still continues, in some degree, to obstruct my utterance; my voice is distinct enough for a while, but the organs being still weak are quickly weary ; but in other respects I am, I think, rather better than I have lately been, and can let you know my state without the help of any other hand.

“ In the opinion of my friends, and in my own, I am gradually mending. The physicians consider me as cured, and I had leave four days ago to wash the cantharides from my head. Last Tuesday I dined at the Club.

“I am going next week into Kent, and purpose to change the air frequently this summer: whether I shall wander so far as Staffordshire I cannot tell. I should be glad to come. Return my thanks to Mrs. Cobb, and Mr. Pearson', and all that have shown attention to me.

“Let us, my dear, pray for one another, and consider our sufferings as notices mercifully given us to prepare ourselves for another state.

“I live now but in a melancholy way. My old friend Mr. Levett is dead, who lived with me in the house, and was useful and companionable ; Mrs. Desmoulins is gone away; and Mrs. Williams is so much decayed, that she can add little to another's gratifications. The world passes away, and we are passing with it; but there is, doubtless, another world, which will endure for ever. Let us all fit ourselves for it. I am, &c.


· The Reverend Mr. Pearson, to whom Mrs. Lucy Porter bequeathed the greater part of her property.--MALONE.

Murph [During his illness Mr. Murphy visited him, and p. 121. found him reading Dr. Watson's Chemistry: articu

lating with difficulty, he said, “ From this book he who knows nothing may learn a great deal, and he who knows will be pleased to find his knowledge recalled to his mind in a manner highly pleasing.”]

Such was the general vigour of his constitution, that he recovered from this alarming and severe attack with wonderful quickness; so that in July he was able to make a visit to Mr. Langton at Rochester, where he passed about a fortnight, and made little excursions as easily as at any time of his life.



“ London, 8th July, 1783. Langton and I have talked of passing a little time at Rochester together, till neither knows well how to refuse; though I think he is not eager to take me, and I am not desirous to be taken. His family is numerous, and his house little. I have let him know, for his relief, that I do not mean to burden him more than a week. He is, however, among those who wish me well, and would exert what power he has to do me good.”


« London, 23d July, 1783. “ I have been thirteen days at Rochester, and am now just returned. I came back by water in a common boat twenty miles for a shilling; and when I landed at Billingsgate I carried my budget myself to Cornhill before I could get a coach, and was not much incommoded."]

Murph. [Mr. Murphy states that in the month of August Essay, p. 121. he set out for Lichfield on a visit to Miss Lucy

Porter; and in his way back paid his respects to Dr. Adams, at Oxford. If the dates of the letters published by Mrs. Thrale be correct, it is hardly possible that he could have gone to Lichfield, and there is barely time for a short excursion to Oxford, where,


however, it seems from the following letters, he certainly was about this period.]

[blocks in formation]


“ London, 13th August, 1783. “Of this world, in which you represent me as delighting to live, I can say little. Since I came home I have only been to church, once to Burney's, once to Paradise's, and once to Reynolds's. With Burney I saw Dr. Rose, his new relation, with whom I have been many years acquainted. If I discovered no reliques of disease, I am glad ; but Fanny's trade is fiction '.

“ I have since partaken of an epidemical disorder ; but common evils produce no dejection.

“ Paradise's company, I fancy, disappointed him ; I remember nobody. With Reynolds was the Archbishop of Tuam, a man coarse of voice and inelegant of language,

"I am now broken with disease, without the alleviation of familiar friendship or domestick society; I have no middle state between clamour and silence, between general conversation and self-tormenting solitude. Levett is dead, and poor Williams is making haste to die: I know not if she wiil ever come out of her chamber.

“ I am now quite alone ; but let me turn my thoughts another way.”




“18th August, 1783. “ MY DEAREST DEAR,-I wish all that


have heard of my health were true ; but be it as it may, if you will be pleased to name the day and hour when you would see me, I will be as punctual as I can. I am, madam, your most humble servant,



Letters, “ London, 20th August, 1783.

vol. ii. “ This has been a day of great emotion; the office of the p. 301. communion for the sick has been performed in poor Mrs. Williams's chamber. At home I see almost all my companions dead or dying. At Oxford I have just left Wheeler, the man

[ocr errors]

| (Miss Fanny Burney, the celebrated novelist, had, it seems, given what Johnson feared was too favourable an account of him.--Ed.] 2 [Hon. Jos. Deane Bourke, afterwards Earl of Mayo. -Ed.] VOL. V.

« PreviousContinue »