« PreviousContinue »
the title of one is ' Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England.' I believe there are about five or six of them ;. they seem very proper to allure backward readers; be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them with the best printed edition of · Baxter's Call to the Unconverted. I am, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
(TO MR. PERKINS.
“ 21st January, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,-I was very sorry not to see you, when you were so kind as to call on me; but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good-natured, to disoblige them, is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured with another visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will take all the measures that I can to be pretty well at that time. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
His attention to the Essex-Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard'.
“ TO RICHARD CLARK, ESQ.
“ 27th January, 1784. 6 DEAR SIR, You will receive a requisition, according to the rules of the club, to be at the house as president of the
17. History of Oliver Cromwell
1698 18. Unparalleled Varieties
1699 19. Unfortunate Court Favourites of England
1706 20. History of the Lives of English Divines
1709 21. Ingenious Riddles 22. Unhappy Princesses, or the History of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Gray
1710 23. Æsop's Fables, in prose
1712 24. History of Virginia
1722 25. English Acquisitions in Guinea and the East Indies
1726 26. Female Excellency, or the Ladies' Glory
1728 27. General History of Earthquakes
1736 28. The English Heroine, or the Life and Adventures of Mrs. Christian
Davies, commonly called Mother Ross 29. Youth's Divine Pastime
MALONE. [As this sheet is passing through the press, the Editor learns the death of his venerable friend, Mr. Clark, who had kindly contributed some information to the foregoing volumes. He died at Chertsey on the 16th January, 1831, æt. 93. Er.]
night. This turn comes once a month, and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You were inrolled in the club by my invitation, and I ought to introduce you; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly supply my place as introductor, or yours as president. I hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant. I am, sir, &c.
“ You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of threepence, that is, ninepence a-week.”
On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his health, and enclosing my “Letter to the People of Scotland on the Present State of the Nation.” “I trust,” said I, “ that you will be liberal enough to make allowance for my differing from you on two points, [the Middlesex election and the American war,] when my general principles of government are according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of ministerial power.
[“ MR. BOSWELL TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
Reyn. “ Edinburgh, 6th February, 1784. MSS. “MY DEAR SIR,-I long exceedingly to hear from you. Sir William Forbes brought me good accounts of you, and Mr. Temple sent me very pleasing intelligence concerning the fair Palmeria'. But a line or two from yourself is the next thing to seeing you.
“My anxiety about Dr. Johnson is truly great. I had a letter from him within these six weeks, written with his usual acuteness and vigour of mind. But he complained sadly of the state of his health; and I have been informed since that he is
· [No doubt Miss Palmer, afterwards Lady Thomond, Sir Joshua's niece.Ed.]
I intend to be in London next month, chiefly to attend upon him with respectful affection. But, in the mean time, it will be a great favour done me, if you, who know him so well, will be kind enough to let me know particularly how he is.
I hope Mr. Dilly conveyed to you my Letter on the State of the Nation, from the Authour. I know your political principles, and indeed your settled system of thinking upon civil society and subordination, to be according to my own heart, and therefore I doubt not you will
honest zeal. But what monstrous effects of party do we now see! I am really vexed at the conduct of some of our friends'.
“ Amidst the conflict our friend of Port Elliot is with much propriety created a peer. But why, O why did he not obtain the title of Baron Mahogany 2? Genealogists and heralds would have had curious work of it to explain and illustrate that title. I ever am, with sincere regard, my dear sir, your affectionate humble servant,
- JAMES BOSWELL.”]
“DR. JOHNSON TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
" 11th February, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,—I hear of many inquiries which your kindness has disposed you to make after me. I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the imagination of its length hin. dered me from beginning. I will, therefore, content myself with a shorter.
“Having promoted the institution of a new club in the neighbourhood, at the house of an old servant of Thrale’s, I went thither to meet the company, and was seized with a spasmodick asthma, so violent, that with difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground upon me: my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I should be content if I could keep there; but I am afraid that it will soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious. And yet I am extremely afraid of dying.
“ My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected from vernal breezes and summer suns. If my life is prolonged to autumn, I should be glad to try a warmer climate; though how to travel with a diseased body,
without a companion to conduct me, and with very little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in Italy; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died; but he
was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.
“ I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with disease his neglect of disputes, politicks, and pamphlets. Let me have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and
Ask your physicians about my case : and desire Sir Alexander Dick to write me his opinion. I am, dear sir, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON.” [“ A few days after the remnant of the Ivy-lane Hawk. Club had dined with him," says Sir John Hawkins, p. 563. “ he sent for me, and informed me, that he had discovered in himself the symptoms of a dropsy, which, indeed, his very much increased bulk, and the swollen appearance of his legs, seemed to indicate. He told me, that he was desirous of making a will, and requested me to be one of his executors: upon my consenting, he gave me to understand, that he meant to make a provision for his servant, Frank, of about 701. a year for life, and concerted with me a plan for investing a sum sufficient for the purpose : at the same time he stated his circumstances, and the amount of what he had to dispose of.”
“ In a visit which I made him in a few days, in consequence of a very pressing request to see me, I found him labouring under great dejection of mind. He bade me draw near him, and said, he wanted to enter into a serious conversation with me; and, upon my expressing a willingness to join in it, he, with a look that cut me to the heart, told me, that he had the prospect of death before him, and that he dreaded ' to meet his Saviour. I could not but be astonished at such a declaration, and advised him, as I had done once before, to reflect on the course of his life, and the services he had rendered to the cause of religion
Hawk. and virtue, as well by his example as his writings ;
to which he answered, that he had written as a philosopher, but had not lived like one. In the estima. tion of his offences, he reasoned thus : `Every man knows his own sins, and also what grace he has resisted. But, to those of others, and the circumstances under which they were committed, he is a stranger : he is, therefore, to look on himself as the greatest sinner that he knows of. At the conclusion of this argument, which he strongly enforced, he uttered this passionate exclamation,—“Shall I, who have been a teacher of others, myself be a castaway ?”
“Much to the same purpose passed between us in this and other conversations that I had with him, in all which I could not but wonder, as much at the freedom with which he opened his mind, and the compunction he seemed to feel for the errors of his past life, as I did, at his making choice of me for his confessor, knowing full well how meanly qualified I was for such an office."
“ It was on a Thursday that I had this conversation with him; and here let not the supercilious lip of scorn protrude itself, while I relate that he declared his intention to devote the whole of the next day to fasting, humiliation, and such other devotional exercises as became a man in his situation. On the Saturday following, I made him a visit, and, upon entering his room, observed in his countenance such a serenity, as indicated that some remarkable crisis of his disorder had produced a change in his feelings. He told me, that, pursuant to his resolution, he had spent the preceding day in an abstraction from all worldly concerns; that, to prevent interruption, he had, in the morning, ordered Frank not to admit
[It appears from Johnson's own letters that the event itself took place on Thursday, 19th February.-Ed.]