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Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my part, very much deserted; but complaint is useless. I hope God will bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish for me. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ TO EDMUND MALONE, ESQ.
6:27th February, 1782. “ SIR,-) have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with you and Dr. Farmer. I hope hereafter to see you often. I am, sir, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.” “ TO EDMUND MALONE, ESQ.
“20 March, 1782. “ DEAR SIR,-I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton' more unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said. I am, sir, your humble servant,
These short letters show the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every respect have been fully gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably succeeded him as an editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done great and just honour to Johnson's memory.
1 This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the
earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled “Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley,” &c. Mr. Thomas Warton's very able " Inquiry” appeared about three months afterwards ; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable' - Vindication of his Appendix,” in the summer of the same year, left the believers in this daring imposture nothing but “the resolution to say again what had been said before.” Daring, however, as this fiction was, and wild as was the adherence to Chatterton, both were greatly exceeded in 1795 and the following year, by a still more audacious imposture, and the pertinacity of one of its adherents, who has immortalized his name by publishing a bulky volume, of which the direct and manifest object was, to prove the authenticity of certain papers attributed to Shakspeare, after the fabricator of the spurious trash had publickly acknowledged the imposture.—MALONE. [Mr. Malone alludes to the forgery, by Mr. William Henry Ireland, of the Shakspearian papers which were exhibited with a ridiculous mixture of pomp and mystery at his father's house in Norfolk-street. It seems scarcely conceivable how such palpable impositions could have deceived the most ignorant, and yet there were numerous dupes in the critical and literary circles of the day. Mr. W. H. Ireland has since published a full and minute confession of the whole progress of his forgery ; but, with a curious obstinacy, he, in this work, vehemently accuses of blindness, ignorance, and bad faith all those who detected what he confesses to have been an imposture, and is equally lavish in praise of the discernment and judgment of those whom he proves to have been dupes.-ED.)
“TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
“ London, 2d March, 1782. “ DEAR MADAM,—I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my breath. For some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I could not get the violence abated till I had been let blood three times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written, and am sorry that I neglected it.
“My dwelling is but melancholy. Both Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself, are very sickly ; Frank is not well; and poor Levett died in his bed the other day by a sudden stroke. I suppose not one minute passed between health and death. So uncertain are human things.
“Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. Let us, therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can ; though the loss of friends will be felt, and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for thirty years.
“Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing ; I hope to mend that and my other faults. Let me have your prayers.
“Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and the whole company of
friends. I am, my dear, your most humble servant, “ Sam. JOHNSON.”
“TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 19ih March, 1782. “ DEAR MADAM,—My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much more cheerful: I
am, willing to write, because you are desirous to hear from me. My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet
I was last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself much relieved, but I am very tender
and easily hurt; so that since we parted I have had but little comfort. But I hope that the spring will recover me, and that in the summer I shall see Lichfield again, for I will not delay my visit another year to the end of autumn.
“ I have, by advertising, found poor Mr. Levett's brothers, in Yorkshire, who will take the little he has left: it is but little, yet it will be welcome, for I believe they are of very low condition.
“ To be sick, and to see nothing but sickness and death, is but a gloomy state: but I hope better times, even in this world, will come, and whatever this world may withhold or give, we shall be happy in a better state. Pray for me, my dear Lucy.
“ Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and my old friend, Hetty Bailey, and to all the Lichfield ladies. I am, dear madam, yours, affectionately, “ SAM. JOHNSON."
On the day on which this letter was written, he thus feelingly mentions his respected friend and physician, Dr. Lawrence :—“ Poor Lawrence has almost Pr. & lost the sense of hearing; and I have lost the con- Medy versation of a learned, intelligent, and communicative companion, and a friend whom long familiarity has much endeared. Lawrence is one of the best men whom I have known. Nostrum omnium miserere Deus."
[Dr. Lawrence had long been his friend and con- Piozzi, fidant. A conversation Mrs. Thrale saw them hold p.57,58. together in Essex-street one day in the year 1781 or 1782 was a singular and melancholy one. Dr. Johnson was exceedingly ill, and she accompanied him thither for advice. The physician was, however, in some respects, more to be pitied than the patient: Johnson was panting under an asthma and dropsy; but Lawrence had been brought home that very morning struck with the palsy, from which he had, two hours before they came, strove to awaken himself by blisters: they were both deaf, and scarce able to speak besides; one from difficulty of breathing, the other from paralytic debility. To give and re
Piozzi, ceive medical counsel, therefore, they fairly sat down p. 57,59.
on each side a table in the doctor's gloomy apartment, adorned with skeletons', preserved monsters, and agreed to write Latin billets to each other. “Such a scene, &c.” exclaims Mrs. Thrale, “did I never see.” “You,” said Johnson, are “timidè and gelidè;" finding that his friend had prescribed palliative not drastic remedies. “ It is not me,” replies poor Lawrence, in an interrupted voice; “'tis nature that is gelidè and timidè.” In fact he lived but few months after, and retained his faculties still a shorter time. He was a man of strict piety and profound learning, but little skilled in the knowledge of life or manners, and died without ever having enjoyed the reputation he so justly deserved.
Dr. Johnson's health had, indeed, been always extremely bad ever since Mrs. Thrale first knew him, and his over-anxious care to retain without blemish the perfect sanity of his mind, contributed much to disturb it. He had studied medicine diligently in all its branches; but had given particular attention to the diseases of the imagination, which he watched in himself with a solicitude destructive of his own peace, and intolerable to those he trusted. Dr. Lawrence told him one day, that if he would come and beat him once a week he would bear it; but to hear his complaint was more than man could support.]
It was Dr. Johnson's custom, when he wrote to Dr. Lawrence concerning his own health, to use the Latin language. I have been favoured by Miss Lawrence with one of these letters as a specimen:
“ T. LAWRENCIO, MEDICO S.
“Malis Calendis, 1782. “Novum frigus, nova tussis, nova spirandi difficultas, novam
[Mr. Malone, in his MS. notes, says, that this description is ideal, as Dr. Lawrence had no skeletons or monsters in his room.--Ev.]
sanguinis missionem suadent, quam tamen te inconsulto nolim fieri. Ad te venire vix possum, nec est cur ad me venias. Licere vel non licere uno verbo dicendum est; cætera mihi et Holdero' reliqueris. Si per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.
Postquàm tu discesseris quò me vertam 2 ?"
“ TO CAPTAIN LANGTON 3, IN ROCHESTER.
“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 20th March, 1782. “DEAR SIR,—It is now long since we saw one another; and, whatever has been the reason, neither you have written to me, nor I to you. To let friendship die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which when
1 Mr. Holder, in the Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary. 2 [TO DR. T. LAWRENCE.
“ May, 1782. “ Fresh cold, renewed cough, and an increased difficulty of breathing ; all suggest a further letting of blood, which, however, I do not choose to have done without your advice. I cannot well come to you, or is there any occasion for you coming to me. You may say, in one word, yes or no, and leave the rest to Holder and me. If you consent, pray tell the messenger to bring Holder to me.
“When you shall be gone whither shall I turn myself ?”_ED.]
Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, but not before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to write for himself. The following are extracts from letters addressed by Dr. Johnson to one of his daughters:
“You will easily believe with what glasness I read that you had heard once again that voice to which we have all so often delighted to attend. May you often hear it. If we had his mind, and his tongue, we could spare the rest.
“I am not vigorous, but much better than when dear Dr. Lawrence held my pulse the last time. Be so kind as to let me know, from one little interval to another, the state of his body. I am pleased that he remembers me, and hope that it never can be possible for me to forget him. July 22d, 1782.
“ I am much delighted even with the small advances which dear Dr. Law. rence makes towards recovery. If we could have again but his mind, and his tongue in his mind, and his right hand, we should not much lament the rest. I should not despair of helping the swelled hand by electricity, if it were frequently and diligently supplied.
“Let me know from time to time whatever happens; and I hope I need not tell you how much I am interested in every change. Aug. 26, 1782.
6 Though the account with which you favoured me in your last letter could not give me the pleasure that I wished, yet I was glad to receive it; for my affection to my dear friend makes me desirous of knowing his state, whatever it be. I beg, therefore, that you continue to let me know, from time to time, all that you observe.
“Many fits of severe illness have, for about three months past, forced my kind physician often upon my mind. I am now better ; and hope gratitude, as well as distress, can be a motive to remembrance. Bolt-court, Fleet-street, February 4, 1783."-Boswell.
3 Mr. Langton being at this time on duty at Rochester, he is addressed by his military title. - BOSWELL. VOL. V.