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and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well; and Mr. Davies has had great success as an author, generated by the corruption of a bookseller. More news I have not to tell you, and therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know 'not whether you much wish to hear, that
“ I am, sir,
“SAM. Johnson. “ Bolt-court, Fleet-street,
August 21, 1780.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“Dear Sir,-I find you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have resolved not to write till you are written to: it is but a peevish humour; but you shall have your way.
“I have sat at home in Bolt-court all the summer, thinking to write the Lives, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them, however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.
“Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmstone; but I have been at neither place. I would have gone to Lichfield if I could have had time, and I might bave had time if I bad been active; but I have missed much, and done little.
Meaning his entertaining Memoirs of David Garrick, esq. of which Johnson (as Davies informed me) wrote the first sentence; thus giving, as it were, the key-note to the performance. It is, indeed, very characteristical of its author, beginning with a maxim, and proceeding to illustrate.—“All excellence has a right to be recorded. I shall, therefore, think it superfluous to apologize for writing the life of a man who, by an uncommon assemblage of private virtues, adorned the highest eminence in a publick profession."-BoswELL.
c I wish he had omitted the suspicion expressed here, though I believe he meant nothing but jocularity; for, though he and I differed sometimes in opipion, he well knew how much I loved and revered him.-BEATTIE. VOL. III.
“In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great danger; the mob was pacified, at their first invasion, with about fifty pounds in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the soldiers. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained them a fortnight: he was so frighted, that he removed part of his goods. Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country,
“I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn : it is now about the time when we were travelling. I have, however, better health than I had then; and hope you and I may yet show ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa d. In the mean time let us play no trick, but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.
“ The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar of Aberdeen, who has written and published a very ingenious book e; and who, I think, has a kindness for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.
“ I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son has become a learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I never shall persuade to love me. When the Lives are done, I shall send them to complete ber collection, but must send them in paper, as for want of a pattern I cannot bind them to fit the rest.
“ I am, sir,
“ Sam. JOHNSON. “ London, Aug. 21, 1780.”
d It will no doubt be reinarked how he avoids the rebellious land of America. This puts me in mind of an anecdote for which I am obliged to my worthy social friend, governour Richard Penn: “At one of Miss E. Hervey's assemblies, Dr. Johnson was following her up and down the room ; upon which lord Abingdon observed to her, “ Your great friend is very fond of you; you can go nowhere without him.'-'Aye,' said she, he would follow me to any part of the world.' — Then,' said the earl, ask him to go with you to America.'”BOSWELL.
e Essays on the History of Mankind.
This year he wrote to a young clergyman in the country the following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to divines in general.
“Dear Sir,-Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence showed
therefore, you will not be displeased that I endeavour to preserve your good will by some observations which your letter suggested to me.
• You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without some peculiarity of manner: but that manner may be good or bad, and a little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.
“ Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than yours will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authors from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible to forget.
“ My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an original sermon; and in the labour of composition do not burthen your mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than
down diligently your thoughts as they rise in the first words that occur; and when you have matter, you will easily give it form : nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary; for by habit your thoughts and diction will flow together.
* The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgement of the writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its proper place.
“What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your parish; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the parson. The dean of Carlisle f,
that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in a parish, by the civil or savage manners of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much reformation ; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was civilized by a decayed gentlewoman, who came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr. Wheeler of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience, that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved. Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I pray God to bless you.
." I am, sir,
“Your most humble servant, “ Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780.
SAM. Johnson.” i Dr. Percy, now bishop of Dromore.
My next letters to him were dated August 24th, September 6th, and October 1st; and from them I extract the following passages :
“ My brother David and I find the long indulged fancy of our comfortable meeting again at Aucbinleck so well realised, that it in some degree confirms the pleasing hope of • O præclarum diem!' in a future state.
“ I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a peevish humour, or playing tricks: you will recollect, that when I confessed to you that I had once been intentionally silent to try your regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again.
“ I rejoice to bear of your good state of health; I pray God to continue it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added to my life, to have ten taken from yours; I mean, that I would be ten years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being, trusting always, that in another state, we shall meet never to be separated. Of this we can form no notion ; but the thought, though indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear.
“ The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you give me no account of your own situation during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it by Dr. Johnson would be a great painting &: you might write another London, a Poem.
“ I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, • let us keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power. My revered friend! bow elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson ! All that you have said in grateful praise of Mr. Walmsley, I have long thought of you ; but we are both tories, which has a very general influence upon our sentiments. I hope that you will agree to meet me at York, about the end of this month; or if you will come to Carlisle, that would be better still, in case the
$ I had not then seen his letters to Mrs. Thrale.