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long on the colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me; so I hastened to Mrs. Aston's, whom I found much better than I feared I should; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, with sincere satisfaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her again: and as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see me again, for she expressed herself so that I could not doubt of her being in earnest. What a great keystone of kind. ness, my dear Sir, were you that morning; for we were all held together by our common attachment to you! I cannot say that I ever passed two hours with more self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield. Let me not entertain any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will you not confirm me in my persuasion, that he who finds himself so regarded has just reason to be bappy ?
“We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment. Colonel Stuart and his officers treat me with all the civility I could wish ; and I play my part admirably. Lætus aliis, sapiens sibi, the classical sentence which you, I imagine, invented the other day, is exemplified in my present existence. The Bishop,' to whom I had the honour to be known several years ago, shows me much attention: and I am edified by his conversation. I must not omit to tell you, that his lordship admires, very highly, your prefaces to the Poets. I am daily obtaining an extension of agreeable acquaintance, so that I am kept in animated variety; and the study of the place itself, by the assistance of books and of the Bishop, is sufficient occupation. Chester pleases ny fancy more than any town I ever saw. But I will not enter upon it at all in this letter.
“ How long I shall stay here I cannot yet say. I told a very pleasing young lady,“ niece to one of the prebendaries at whose house I saw her, “I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it.' Do not think me too juvenile. I bey it of you, my dear Sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here, and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with affectionate veneration, most sincerely yours,
“JAMES BOSWELL. “ If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright.”
TO MRS. ASTON.
“Bolt Court, Oct. 25, 1779. “DEAREST Madam,—Mrs. Gastrell is so kind as to write to me, and yet I always write to you; but I consider what is written to either as written to both. Public affairs do not seem to promise much amendment, and the nation is now
1 Doctor Porteus, afterwards Bishop of London; in which see he died, May 14, 1808, in his seventy-eighth year.-C.
? Miss Letitia Barnston.
full of distress. What will be the event of things none can tell. We may still hope for better times.
“My health, which I began to recover when I was in the country, continues still in a good state ; it costs me, indeed, some physic and something of abstinence, but it pays the cost. I wish, dear Madam, I could hear a little of your improvements. “Here is no news.
The talk of the invasion seems to be over. turbulent session of parliament is expected; though turbulence is not likely to do any good. Those are happiest who are out of the noise and tumult. There will be no great violence of faction at Stowhill; and that it may be free from that and all other inconvenience and disturbance is the sincere wish of all your friends. I am, dear Madam, your, &c.
" SAM. Johnson."
But a very
“ London, Oct. 27, 1779. “DEAR SIR,—Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If to the delight of such universal kindness of reception any. thing can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.
"I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success. The oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.
“In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog that worries you at home? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, inquire into the old tenures and old charters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages. The feudal system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of some anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of public record; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to imagine the economy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.'
“We have, I think, once talked of another project, a history of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents. Many falsehoods are passiug
1 I have a valuable collection made by my father, which, with some additions and illustrations of my own, I intend to publish. I have some hereditary claim to be an antiquary; not only from my father, but as being descended, by the mother's side, from the able and learned Sir John Skene, whose merit bids defiance to all the attempts which have been made to lessen his fame.
into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, has told what he could not find to be true.
“You may make collections for either of these projects, or for both, as opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The great direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you is this, Be not solitary, be not idle ; which I would thus modify:—If you are idle, be not solitary; . if you are solitary, be not idle. “There is a letter for you from your humble servant,
“SAM. Johnson." LETTER 362.
TO MRS. ASTON.
“Bolt Court, Nov. 5, 1779. DEAREST Madam,—Having had the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Boswell that he found you better than he expected, I will not forbear to tell how much I was delighted with the news. May your health increase and increase till you are as well as you can wish yourself, or I can wish you !
“My friends tell me that my health improves too. It is certain that I use both physic and abstinence; and my endeavours have been blessed with more success than at my age I could reasonably hope. I please myself with the thoughts of visiting you next year in so robust a state, that I shall not be afraid of the hill between Mrs. Gastrell's house and yours, nor think it necessary to rest myself between Stowhill and Lucy Porter's.
“Of public affairs I can give you no very comfortable account. The invasion has vanished for the present, as I expected. I never believed that any invasion was intended
“But whatever we have escaped, we have done nothing, nor are likely to do better another year. We, however, who have no part of the nation's welfare intrusted to our management, have nothing to do but to serve God, and leave the world submissively in his hands.
“All trade is dead, and pleasure is scarce alive. Nothing almost is pur. chased but such things as the buyer cannot do without; so that a general sluggishness and general discontent are spread over the town. All the trades of luxury and elegance are nearly at a stand. What the parliament, when it meets, will do, and indeed what it ought to do, is very difficult to say.
“Pray set Mrs. Gastrell, who is a dear good lady, to write to me from time to time; for I have great delight in hearing from you, especially when I hear any good news of your health. I am, dear Madam, you most humble servant,
“Sam. Johnson." LETTER 363. FROM MR. BOSWELL.
“Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779. “MY DEAR SIR,—That I should importune you to write to me at Chester is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nummi, increases in proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter so full of polite kindness and mas. terly counsel, came like a large treasure upon me, while already glittering witb
riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circé ; for so far was there from being anything sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only ; for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not? If you please I will send you a copy or an abridgment of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of felicity.
“ The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering. I told him that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester. His Lordship bade me tell you, that he should be glad to show you more of it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known in so many places.
“I arrived here late last night. Our friend the Dean' has been gone from hence some months; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popu-, lar). However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to the Bishop,' and with him I have breakfasted and dined very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the assizes here, about a year and a half ago. He is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and, I believe sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month; and was at prayers there in the evening. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to God for granting me.
“The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet; I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines from you.
“ Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to show me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted. In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the post-office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more, my dear Sir, your affectionate and obliged humble servant,
1 Dr. Percy.-0.
Dr. Edmond Law, master of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, Bishop of Carlisle, in which see he died in 1787.-C.
? His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order I should think a sufficient refutation of the idle rumour "bat “there was still something behind the throne greater than the throne itself."
"London, Nov. 13, 1779. “Dear Sir, _Your last letter was not only kind, but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither to exalt your pleasures, nor aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state. Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit usquam. Please yourself with your wife and children, and lies, and practice.
“I have sent a petition from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to anything that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.
“If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.
“How near is the cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well. Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.
“ Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved. He has not bathed, but hunted. At Bolt Court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility. I have had a cold, but it is gone. Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c. I am, &c.
On November 22 and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover ;—that after a good deal of inquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary ;—that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's, which he had retained ;-and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence ;—that I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter
Requesting me to inquire concerning the family of a gentleman who was then paying his addresses tc Miss Doxy.