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He met Mr. Philip Metcalfe often at Sir Joshua Reynolds's and other places, and was a good deal with him at Brighthelmstone this autumn, being pleased at once with his excellent table and animated conversation. Mr. Metcalfe showed him great respect, and sent him a note that he might have the use of his carriage whenever he pleased. Johnson (3d October, 1782) returned this polite answer: “Mr. Johnson is very much obliged by the kind offer of the carriage, but he has no desire of using Mr. Metcalfe's carriage, except when he can have the pleasure of Mr. Metcalfe's company.” Mr. Metcalfe could not but be highly pleased that his company was thus valued by Johnson, and he frequently attended him in airings. They also went together to Chichester, and they visited Petworth, and Cowdry, the venerable seat of the Lords Montacute 1. “Sir,” said Johnson, “ I should like to stay here four-and-twenty hours. We see here how our ancestors lived."
That his curiosity was still unabated appears from two letters to Mr. John Nichols, of the 10th and 20th of October this year. In one he says, “ I have looked into your · Anecdotes,' and you will hardly thank a lover of literary history for telling you that he has been much informed and gratified. I wish
· This venerable mansion has since (Sept. 1793] been totally destroyed by fire.-MALONE. [There is a popular superstition that this inheritance is accursed, for having been part of the plunder of the church at the Dissolution ; and some lamentable accidents have given countenance to the vulgar prejudice. When the Editor visited the ruins of Cowdray twenty years ago, he was reminded (in addition to older stories) that the curse of fire and water had recently fallen òn Cowdray; its noble owner, Viscount Montague, the last male of his ancient race, having been drowned in the Rhine at Schaffausen, within a few days of the destruction of Cowdray: and the good folks of the peighbourhood did not scruple to prophesy that it would turn out a fatal inheritance. At that period the present possessor, Mr. Poyntz, who had married Lord Montague's sister and heiress, had two sons, who seemed destined to inherit Cowdray; but, on the 7th July, 1815, these young gentlemen boating off Bognor with their father on a very fine day, the boat was unaccountably upset, and the two youths perished ; and thus were once more fulfilled the forebodings of superstition. See some curious observations on the subject of the fatality attending the inheritance of confiscated church property in Sir Henry Spelman's Treatise on the “ History and Fall of Sacrilege."--ED.)
you would add your own discoveries and intelligence to those of Dr. Rawlinson', and undertake the Supplement to Wood. Think of it."
Think of it." In the other, “I wish, sir, you could obtain some fuller information of Jortin?, Markland), and Thirlby". They were three contemporaries of great eminence."
" TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
“Brighthelmstone, 14th Nov. 1782. “ DEAR SIR,—I heard yesterday of your late disorder, and should think ill of myself if I had heard of it without alarm. I heard likewise of your recovery, which I sincerely wish to be complete and permanent. Your country has been in danger of losing one of its brightest ornaments, and I of losing one of my oldest and kindest friends; but I hope you will still live long, for the honour of the nation; and that more enjoyment of your elegance, your intelligence, and your benevolence is still reserved for, dear sir, your most affectionate, &c.
- SAM. JOHNSON."
The Reverend Mr. Wilson having dedicated to
* [Dr. Richard Rawlinson, an eminent antiquary, and a great benefactor to the University of Oxford. He founded the Anglo-Saxon professorship there, and bequeathed to it all his collection of MSS., medals, antiquities, and curiosi. ties, and amongst them large collections for a supplement to Wood's Athence Oxonienses, to which Dr. Johnson refers. He died in 1754, æt. 65.- ED.]
? [Dr. John Jortin, a voluminous and respectable writer on general subjects, as well as an eminent divine. He died in August, 1770, Archdeacon of London and Vicar of Kensington; where his piety and charity, greater even than his great learning and talents, are still remembered. His laconic epitaph in Kensington churchyard, dictated by himself, contains a new turn of that thought which must be common to all epitaphs,-“ Johannes Jortin mortalis esse desiit, A.S. 1770, æt. 72.” John Jortin ceased to be mortal, &c.-En.]
3 (Jeremiah Markland was an eminent critic, particularly in Greek literature; but the shyness of his disposition and the almost ascetic seclusion of his long life limited at once his utility and his fame.-See ante, vol. iv. p. 377. He died in 1776, æt. 83.-ED.)
4 (Styan Thirlby; a critic of at least as much reputation as he deserves. He studied successively divinity, medicine, and law. He seems to have been of a temper at once perverse and indolent, and to have dimmed and disgraced his talents by habits of intoxication. He complains, in a strain of self-satisfaction, that “when a man (meaning himself) thus towers by intellectual exaltation above his cotemporaries, he is represented as drunken, or lazy, or capricious.” He died in 1753, æt. 61.--Ed.]
5 [A just and concise character of Mr. Wilson is given by Dr. Whitaker in the dedication of a plate, in the History of Whalley“Viro Reverendo Thomæ Wilson STB ecclesiæ de Clitheroe, ministro--sodali jucundissimo-agxanhayu insigni— felici juvenum institutori.” Mr. Wilson died in . 1813, aged sixty
-J. H. MARKLAND.]
him his “ Archæological Dictionary,” that mark of respect was thus acknowledged :
“ TO THE REVEREND MR. WILSON,
“ 31st December, 1782. “ REVEREND SIR,—That I have long omitted to return you thanks for the honour conferred upon me by your dedication, I entreat you with great earnestness not to consider as more faulty than it is. A very importunate and oppressive disorder has for some time debarred me from the pleasures and obstructed me in the duties of life. The esteem and kindness of wise and good men is one of the last pleasures which I can be content to lose ; and gratitude to those from whom this pleasure is received is a duty of which I hope never to be reproached with the final neglect. I therefore now return you thanks for the notice which I have received from
and which I consider as giving to my name not only more bulk, but more weight; not only as extending its superficies, but as increasing its value. Your book was evidently wanted, and will, I hope, find its way into the school ; to which, however, I do not mean to confine it; for no man has so much skill in ancient rites and practices as not to want it. As I suppose myself to owe part of your kindness to my excellent friend, Dr. Patten', he has likewise a just claim to my acknowledg
(A letter from Dr. Patten”, and Dr. Jolinson's answer, have appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine : the latter is subjoined.-ED.] DR. JOHNSON'S ANSWER.
“ 24th September, 1781. “DEAR SIR, It is so long since we pa-sed any time together, that you may be allowed to have forgotten some part of my character ; and I know not upon what other supposition I can pass without censure or complaint the ceremony of your address. Let me not trifle time in words, to which while we speak or write them we assign little meaning. Whenever you favour me with a letter, treat me as one that is glad of your kindness and proud of your esteem.
“ The papers which have been sent for my perusal I am ready to inspect, if you judge my inspection necessary or useful: but, indeed, I do not; for what advantage can arise from it? A dictionary consists of independent parts, and therefore one page is not much a specimen of the rest, It does not occur to me that I can give any assistance to the authour, and for my own interest I resign it into your hands, and do not suppose that I shall ever see my name with regret where
shall think it proper to be put. “I think it, however, my duty to inform a writer who intends me so great an honour, that in my opinion he would have consulted his interest by dedicating his work to some powerful and popular neighbour, who can give him more than
* [Dr. Thomas Patten had been a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, A. M. 1736, D. D. 1754. He was afterwards Rector of Childry, Berks, where he died 28th February, 1790. ED.)
ment, which I hope you, sir, will transmit.
There will soon appear a new edition of my Poetical Biography: if
will accept of a copy to keep me in your mind, be pleased to let me know how it may be conveniently conveyed to you. This present is small, but it is given with good-will by, reverend sir, your most, &c.
SAM. JOHNSON." In 1783 he was more severely afflicted than ever, as will appear in the course of his correspondence; but still the same ardour for literature, the same constant piety, the same kindness for his friends, and the same vivacity, both in conversation and writing, distinguished him.
[In the early part of the year, however, his health had improved considerably, as appears from the following letter:
“ 10th Feb. 1783. “DEAR SIR,-It was not insensibility of your kindness, I hope, that made me negligent of answering your letter, for which I now return you thanks, and which I consider as a fresh proof of your regard.
a name. What will the world do but look on and laugh when one scholar dedicates to another?
• If I had been consulted about this Lexicon of Antiquities while it was yet only a design, I should have recommended rather a division of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman particulars into three volumes, than a combination in one. The Hebrew part, at least, I would have wished to separate, as it might be a very popular book, of which the use might be extended from men of learning down to the English reader, and which might become a concomitant to the Family Bible.
" When works of a multifarious and extensive kind are undertaken in the country, the necessary books are not always known. I remember a very learned and ingenious clergyman', of whom, when he had published notes upon the Psalms, I inquired what was his opinion of Hammo .d's Commentary, and was answered, that he had never heard of it. As this gentleman has the opportunity of consulting you, it needs not be supposed that he has not heard of all the proper books; but unless he is near some library, I know not how he could peruse them; and if he is conscious that his supellex is nimis angusta, it would be prudent to delay his publication till his deficiencies may be supplied.
“ It seems not very candid to hint any suspicions of imperfection in a work which I have not seen, yet what I have said ought to be excused, since I cannot but wish well to a learned man, who has elected me for the honour of a dedi. cation, and to whom I am indebted for a correspondence so valuable as yours. And I beg that I may not lose any part of his kindness, which I consider with respectful gratitude. Of you, dear sir, I entreat that you will never again forget for so long a time your most humble servant, 56 SAMUEL JOHNSON."
' (See ante, vol. iv. p. 447, an allusion to Mr. Mudge's notes on the Psalms, whence Mr. Chalmers very justly concludes that he is the person meant...Ed.)
“I am better, much better, and am now in hope of being gradually well, and of being able [to] show some gratitude for the kindness of my friends. I do not despair of seeing Oxford in the summer, and, in the meantime, hope now and then to see you here. I am, dear sir, your most obliged
“Sam. Johnson.”] ·
Having given Dr. Johnson a full account of what I was doing at Auchinleck, and particularly mentioned what I knew would please him,—my having brought an old man of eighty-eight from a lonely cottage to a comfortable habitation within my inclosures, where he had good neighbours near to him, -I received an answer in February, of which I extract what follows:
“I am delighted with your account of your activity at Auchinleck, and wish the old gentleman, whom you have so kindly removed, may live long to promote your prosperity by his prayers. You have now a new character and new duties : think on them and practise them.
“Make an impartial estimate of your revenue; and whatever it is, live upon less. Resolve never to be poor. Frugality is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help himself. We must have enough before we have to spare.
“I am glad to find that Mrs. Boswell grows well; and hope that, to keep her well, no care nor caution will be omitted. May you long live happily together. “ When you come hither, pray bring with you
Baxter's Anacreon. I cannot get that edition in London 1.”
On Friday, March 21, having arrived in London the night before, I was glad to find him at Mrs. Thrale's house, in Argyll-street, appearances of friendship between them being still kept up. I was shown into his room; and after the first salutation he said, “I am glad you are come; I am very ill.” He
1 Dr. Johnson should seem not to have sought diligently for Baxter's Anacreon ; for there are two editions of that book, and they are frequently found in the London sale catalogues. — Malone.