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any one to him, and, the better to enforce the chargé, Hawk. had added these awful words, 'For your master is preparing himself to die.' He then mentioned to me, that, in the course of this exercise, he found himself relieved from that disorder which had been growing on him, and was become very oppressing, the dropsy, by a gradual evacuation of water to the amount of twenty pints, a like instance whereof he had never before experienced; and asked me what I thought of it.”

“I was well aware of the lengths that superstition and enthusiasm will lead men, and how ready some are to attribute favourable events to supernatural causes, and said, that it might savour of presumption to say that, in this instance, God had wrought a miracle ; yet, as divines recognise certain dispensations of his providence, recorded in the Scripture by the denomination of returns of prayer, and his omnipotence is now the same as ever, I thought it would be little less than criminal to ascribe his late relief to causes merely natural, and that the safer opinion was, that he had not in vain humbled himself before his Maker. He seemed to acquiesce in all that I said on this important subject, and, several times, while I was discoursing with him, cried out, 'It is wonderful, very wonderful !!!

“ His zeal for religion, as manifested in his writings and conversation, and the accounts extant that attest his piety, have induced the enemies to his memory to tax him with superstition. To that charge I oppose his behaviour on this occasion, and leave it to the judgment of sober and rational persons, whether such an unexpected event as that above mentioned would

1 [I have given Sir John Hawkins's account of this extraordinary circumstance, although Mr. Boswell relates it also (post, sub 5th May), both because Hawkins tells it rather more distinctly, and that it is desirable to produce all possible confirmation of such a fact.Ed.]

p. 566.

Hawk. not have prompted a really superstitious man to

some more passionate exclamation than that it was * wonderful.””]


6 23d February, 1784. “MY DEAREST LOVE, I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received by the mercy of God sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me.

“ Death, my dear, is very dreadful ; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it: what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of God and the intercession of our Saviour. dear madam, your most humble servant,


I am,


“ London, 27th Feb. 1784. Dear sin,-I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet; and you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great indignation at the indecency with which the king is every day treated. Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the constitution, very properly produced and applied. It will certainly raise your character', though perhaps it may not make you a minister of state.






“I desire you to see Mrs. Stewart once again, and tell her,

"[" Letter to the People of Scotland on the present State of the Nation."] I sent it to Mr. Pitt, with a letter, in which I thus expressed myself: “My principles may appear to you too monarchical ; but I know and am persuaded they are not inconsistent with the true principles of liberty. Be this as it may, you, sir, are now the prime minister, called by the sovereign to maintain the rights of the crown, as well as those of the people, against a violent faction. As such, you are entitled to the warmest support of every good subject in every department.” He answered, “ I am extremely obliged to you for the sentiments you do me the honour to express, and have observed with great pleasure the zealous and able support given to the cause of the publick in the work you were so good to transmit to me."-BosWELL. [One cannot but smile at Mr. Bos. well's apology to Mr. Pitt for appearing too monarchical. Mr. Pitt, it will be recollected, had (after a short parliamentary life, in which he had shown a dis. position to whig principles) lately become prime minister, on the dismissal of the celebrated Coalition administration.--En.]

that in the letter-case was a letter relating to me, for which I will give her, if she is willing to give it me, another guinea. The letter is of consequence only to me!. I am, dear sir, &c.


In consequence of Johnson's request that I should ask our physicians about his case, and desire Sir Alexander Dick to send his opinion, I transmitted him a letter from that very amiable baronet, then in his eighty-first year, with his faculties as entire as ever, and mentioned his expressions to me in the note accompanying it,-"With my most affectionate wishes for Dr. Johnson's recovery, in which his friends, his country, and all mankind have so deep a stake;" and at the same time a full opinion upon his case by Dr. Gillespie, who, like Dr. Cullen, had the advantage of having passed through the gradations of surgery and pharmacy, and by study and practice had attained to such skill, that my father settled on him two hundred pounds a year for five years, and fifty pounds a year during his life, as an honorarium to secure his particular attendance. The opinion was conveyed in a letter to me, beginning, “I am sincerely sorry for the bad state of health your very learned and illustrious friend, Dr. Johnson, labours under at present.”


“ London, 2d March, 1784. “Dear Sir,—Presently after I had sent away my

last letter, I received your kind medical packet. I am very much obliged both to you and to your physicians for your kind attention to iny disease. Dr. Gillespie has sent me an excellent consilium medicum, all solid practical experimental knowledge. I am at present, in the opinion of my physicians (Dr. Heberden and

(The letter was probably lost. Mr. Boswell could else have hardly failed to inform us what it related to. It is clear that Johnson set a good deal of value upon it, for he mentions it again yet more earnestly in another letter, 18th March, 1784.-ED.]

Dr. Brocklesby), as well as my own, going on very hopefully. I have just begun to take vinegar of squills. The powder hurt my stomach so much that it could not be continued.

“Return Sir Alexander Dick my sincere thanks for his kind letter; and bring with you the rhubarb ' which he so tenderly

offers me.

“I hope dear Mrs. Boswell is now quite well, and that no evil, either real or imaginary, now disturbs you. I am, &c.


I also applied to three of the eminent physicians who had chairs in our celebrated school of medicine at Edinburgh, Doctors Cullen, Hope, and Monro, to each of whom I sent the following letter:

“7th March, 1784. “ DEAR SIR,– Dr. Johnson has been very ill for some time; and in a letter of anxious apprehension he writes to me,

- Ask your physicians about my case.'

' “ This, you see, is not authority for a regular consultation: but I have no doubt of your readiness to give your advice to a man so eminent, and who, in his Life of Garth, has paid your profession a just and elegant compliment: 'I believe every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusions of beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art where there is no hope of lucre.'

“ Dr. Johnson is aged seventy-four. Last summer he had a stroke of the palsy, from which he recovered almost entirely. He had, before that, been troubled with a catarrhous cough. This winter he was seized with a spasmodick asthma, by which he has been confined to his house for about three months. Dr. Brocklesby writes to me, that


the least admission of cold, there is such a constriction upon his breast, that he cannot lie down in his bed, but is obliged to sit up all night, and gets rest, and sometimes sleep, only by means of laudanum and syrup

of poppies; and that there are oedematous tumours in his legs and thighs. Dr. Brocklesby trusts a good deal to the return of mild weather. Dr. Johnson says that a dropsy gains ground upon

and he seems to think that a warmer climate would


1 From his garden at Prestonfield, where he cultivated that plant with such success, that he was presented with a gold medal by the Society of London for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce..BOSWELL.,

do him good. I understand he is now rather better, and is using vinegar of squills. I am, with great esteem, dear sir; your most obedient humble servant, - JAMES BOSWELL.

All of them paid the most polite attention to my letter and its venerable object. Dr. Cullen's words concerning him were, “ It would give me the greatest pleasure to be of any service to a man whom the publick properly esteem, and whom I esteem and respect as much as I do Dr. Johnson.” Dr. Hope's, “Few people have a better claim on ine than your friend, as hardly a day passes that I do not ask his opinion about this or that word.” Dr. Monro's, “I most sincerely join you in sympathizing with that very worthy and ingenious character, from whom his country has derived much instruction and entertainment.”

Dr. Hope corresponded with his friend Dr. Brocklesby. Doctors Cullen and Monro wrote their opinions and prescriptions to me, which I afterwards carried with me to London, and, so far as they were encouraging, communicated to Johnson. The liberality on one hand, and grateful sense of it on the other, I have great satisfaction in recording.



MSS. “Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 10th March, 1784. “ MY DEAREST LOVE,—I will not suppose that it is for want of kindness that you did not answer my last letter; and I therefore write again to tell you that I have, by God's great mercy, still continued to grow better. My asthma is seldom troublesome, and my dropsy has ran itself almost away, in a manner which my physician says is very uncommon.

“ I have been confined from the 14th of December, and shall not soon venture abroad; but I have this day dressed myself


sickness. “ If it be inconvenient to you to write, desire Mr. Pearson to let me know how you do, and how you have passed this long

as I

was before

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