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“We were married almost seventeen years, and have now Prayers been parted thirty.
& Med. “I then read 11 p. from Ex. 36. to Lev. 7. I prayed with Fr. and used the prayer for Good Friday.
“ 29.--Good Friday. After a night of great disturbance and solicitude, such as I do not remember, I rose, drank tea, but without eating, and went to church. I was very composed, and coming home, read Hammond on one of the Psalms for the day. I then read Leviticus. Scott 1 came in. A kind letter from [Mrs.] Gastrel. I read on, then went to evening prayers, and afterwards drank tea, with buns; then read till I finished Leviticus 24 pages et sup.
“ To write to [Mrs.] Gastrelo to-morrow. “ To look again into Hammond.
“30.-Saturday. Visitors, Paradise, and I think Horsley. Read 11 pages of the Bible. I was faint; dined on herrings and potatoes. At prayers, I think, in the evening. I wrote to [Mrs.] Gastrel, and received a kind letter from Hector. At night Lowe. Pr[ayed] with Francis.
“31.-Easter-Day. Read 15 pages of the Bible. Cætera alibi."
On the foregoing curious passage—“Mar. 3 20. The ministry is dissolved. I prayed with Francis, and gave thanks”-it has been the subject of discussion whether there are two distinct particulars mentioned here? Or that we are to understand the giving of thanks to be in consequence of the dissolution of the ministry? In support of the last of these conjectures may be urged his mean opinion of that ministry, which has frequently appeared in the course of this work; and it is strongly confirmed by what he said on the subject to Mr. Seward :-“I am glad the ministry is removed *. Such a bunch of imbecility never disgraced a country. If they sent a
1 [Lord Stowell.--Ed.] 2 (Mrs. Gastrell, of Lichfield.-Ed.] 3 [Mr. Boswell had erroneously dated this extract Jan., and had so placed it. Mr. Boswell does not appear to have seen the whole diary.-Ed.]
4 On the preceding day the ministry had been changed.-Malone.
messenger into the city to take up a printer, the messenger was taken up instead of the printer, and committed by the sitting alderman. If they sent one army to the relief of another, the first army was defeated and taken before the second arrived. I will not say that what they did was always wrong; but it was always done at a wrong time.”
I wrote to him at different dates; regretted that I could not come to London this spring, but hoped we should meet somewhere in the summer; mentioned the state of my affairs, and suggested hopes of some preferment; informed him, that as “The Beauties of Johnson” had been published in London, some obscure scribbler had published at Edinburgh what he called “The Deformities of Johnson.”
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
6. London, 28th March, 1782. “ DEAR SIR,—The pleasure which we used to receive from each other on Good Friday and Easter-day, we must be this year content to miss. Let us, however, pray for each other, and I hope to see one another yet from time to time with mutual delight. My disorder has been a cold, which impeded the organs of respiration, and kept me many weeks in a state of great uneasiness; but by repeated phlebotomy it is now relieved: and next to the recovery of Mrs. Boswell, I flatter myself, that you will rejoice at mine.
“ What we shall do in the summer, it is yet too early to consider. You want to know what
I do not think this time of bustle and confusion' like to produce any advantage to you. Every man has those to reward and gratify who have contributed to his advancement. To come hither with such expectations at the expense of borrowed money, which I find you know not where to borrow, can hardly be considered prudent. I am sorry to find, what your solicitations seem to imply, that you have already gone the whole length of your
credit. This is to set the quiet of your whole life at hazard. If you anticipate your inheritance, you can at last inherit nothing; all that you receive must pay for the past. You
must get a place, or pine in penury, with the empty name of a great estate. Poverty, my dear friend, is so great an evil, and pregnant with so much temptation, and so much misery, that I cannot but earnestly enjoin you to avoid it. Live on what you have; live if you can on less; do not borrow either for vanity or pleasure; the vanity will end in shame, and the pleasure in regret: stay therefore at home, till you have saved money for your journey hither.
“ The Beauties of Johnson are said to have got money to the collector; if the Deformities have the same success,
I shall be still a more extensive benefactor.
“ Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who is I hope reconciled to me; and to the young people whom I never have offended.
“ You never told me the success of your plea against the solicitors. I am, dear sir, your most affectionate,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
[“ TO MRS. GASTRELL AND MRS. ASTON.
MSS. “ London, Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 30th March, 1782. “DEAREST LADIES,—The tenderness expressed in your kind letter makes me think it necessary to tell you that they who are pleased to wish me well, need not be any longer particularly solicitous about me. I prevailed on my physician to bleed me very copiously, almost against his inclination. However, he kept his finger on the pulse of the other hand, and, finding that I bore it well, let the vein run on. From that time I have mended, and hope I am now well. I went yesterday to church without inconvenience, and hope to go to
“Here are great changes in the great world; but I cannot tell you more than you will find in the papers. The men have got in whom I have endeavoured to keep out; but I hope they will do better than their predecessors: it will not be easy to do worse.
Spring seems now to approach, and I feel its benefit, which I hope will extend to dear Mrs. Aston.
“ When Dr. Falconer saw me, I was at home only by accident, for I lived much with Mrs. Thrale, and had all the care from her that she could take or could be taken. But I have never been ill
ough to want attendance; my disorder has been rather tedious than violent; rather irksome than painful. He needed not have made such a tragical representation.
“I am now well enough to flatter myself with some hope of pleasure from the summer. How happy would it be if we could see one another, and be all tolerably well.
“Let us pray for one another. I am, dearest ladies, your most obliged and most humble servant, “ SAM, JOHNSON.” “ DR. JOHNSON TO MISS REYNOLDS.
• 8th April, 1782. “DEAREST MADAM,—Your work is full of very penetrating meditation, and very forcible sentiments. I read it with a full perception of the sublime, with wonder and terrour; but I cannot think of any profit from it; it seems not born to be popular.
“Your system of the mental fabrick is exceedingly obscure, and, without more attention than will be willingly bestowed, is unintelligible. The plans of Burnaby will be more safely understood, and are often charming. I was delighted with the different bounty of different ages.
“I would make it produce something if I could, but I have indeed no hope. If a bookseller would buy it at all, as it must be published without a name, he would give nothing for it worth your acceptance. I am, my dearest dear, your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
Letters, vol. ii. p. 237.
“ TO MRS. THRALE.
“ [26th] April, . “I have been very much out of order since you sent me away; but why should I tell you, who do not care, nor desire to know. I dined with Mr. Paradise on Monday, with the Bishop of St. Asaph yesterday, with the Bishop of Chester I dine to-day, and with the academy on Saturday, with Mr. Hoole on Monday, and with Mrs. Garrick on Thursday, the 2d of May, and then—what care you?--what then?
“ The news run that we have taken seventeen French transports; that Langton's lady is lying down with her eighth child, all alive; and Mrs. Carter's Miss Sharpe is going to marry a schoolmaster sixty-two years old."
6 TO MRS. THRALE.
“30th April, 1782. “ I have had a fresh cold, and been very poorly. But I was yesterday at Mr. Hoole's, where were Miss Reynolds and many others. I am going to the club.
[Probably the “ Essay on Taste," already mentioned, ante, p. 3.-Ed.]
“ Since Mrs. Garrick's invitation I have a letter from Miss Letters, Moore', to engage me for the evening. I have an appointment vol, ii. to Miss Monkton, and another with Lady Sheffield ? at Mrs. Way's 3.
“Two days ago Mr. Cumberland had his third night 4, which, after all expenses, put into his own pocket five pounds. He has lost his plume.
" Mrs. S- 5 refused to sing, at the Duchess of Devonshire's request, a song to the Prince of Wales. They pay for the 6 neither principal nor interest; and poor Garrick's funeral expenses are yet unpaid, though the undertaker is broken. Could you have a better purveyor for a little scandal ? But I wish I was at Streatham.”]
Notwithstanding his afflicted state of body and mind this year, the following correspondence affords a proof not only of his benevolence and conscientious readiness to relieve a good man from errour, but by his clothing one of the sentiments in his “ Rambler,” in different language, not inferior to that of the original, shows his extraordinary command of clear and forcible expression.
A clergyman at Bath wrote to him, that in “ The Morning Chronicle," a passage in “ The Beauties of Johnson," article Death, had been pointed out as supposed by some readers to recommend suicide, the words being “ To die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish is generally his folly;" and respectfully suggesting to him, that such an erroneous notion of any sentence in the writings of an acknowledged friend of religion and virtue should not pass uncontradicted.
1 [Miss Hannah More.-ED.]
3(Wife of Daniel Way, Esq. of the Exchequer Office, of whom there is so copious an account in Nicholls's continuation of Bowyer's Anecdotes.-Ed.]
4 (The play of the Walloons, acted about this time; but the third night was the 2d of May.--Ed.]