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He arrived in London on the 16th of November, d next day sent to Dr. Burney the following note, which I insert as the last token of his remembrance of that ingenious and amiable man, and as another of the many proofs of the tenderness and benignity of his heart :

“Mr. Johnson, who came home last night, sends his respects to dear Dr. Burney and all the dear Burneys little and great."

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In Birmingham.

“London, Nov. 17, 1784. “Dear Sir,—I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning, and then I ser: Francis to see the balloon fly, but could not go myself. I staid at Oxford till Tuesday, and then came in the common vehicle easily to London. I am as I was, and having seen Dr. Brocklesby, am to ply the squills; but, whatever be their efficacy, this world must soon pass away. Let us think seriously on our duty. I send my kindest respects to dear Mrs. Careless : let me have the prayers of both. We have all lived long, and must soon part. God have mercy on us, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. I am, &c.


His correspondence with me, after his letter on the subject of my settling in London, shall now, so far as is proper, be produced in one series.

July 26, he wrote to me from Ashbourne :


“On the 14th I came to Lichfield, and found everybody glad enough to see

On the 20th I came hither, and found a house half-built, of very uncomfortable appearance; but my own room has not been altered. That a man worn with diseases, in his seventy-second or third year, should condemn part of his remaining life to pass among ruins and rubbish, and that no inconsiderable part, appears to me very strange. I know that your kindness makes you impatient to know the state of my health, in which I cannot boast of much ?mprovement. I came through the journey without much inconvenience, but when I attempt self-motion I find my legs weak, and my breath very short : this day I have been much disordered. I have no company; the doctor' is busy in his fields, and goes to bed at nine, and his whole system is so different

tions "), which, affecting and edifying as they may be when read as the secret effusions of a good man's conscience, would have a very different character if they could be supposed to be left behind him ostentatiously prepared for publication.-C.

1 The Rev. Dr. Taylor.

from mine, that we seem formed for different elements; I have, therefore, all my amusement to seek within myself.”

Having written to him in bad spirits a letter filled with dejection and fretfulness,' and at the same time expressing anxious apprehensions concerning him, on account of a dream which had disturbed

his answer was chiefly in terms of reproach, for å supposed charge of "affecting discontent, and indulging the vanity of complaint.” It, however, proceeded :

me ;

“Write to me often, and write like a man. I consider your fidelity and tenderness as a great part of the comforts which are yet left me, and sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other.

My dear friend, life is very short and very uncertain ; let us spend it as well as we can. My worthy neighbour, Allen, is dead. Love me as well as you can. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell. Nothing ailed me at that time ; let your superstition at last have an end."

Feeling very soon that the manner in which he had written might hurt me, he, two days afterwards (July 28), wrote to me again, giving me an account of his sufferings ; after which he thus proceeds :

“Before this letter you will have had one which I hope you will not take amiss ; for it contains only truth, and that truth kindly intended. Spartam quam nactus es orna; make the most and best of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you, but with the multitudes which are below you. Go steadily forwards with lawful business or honest diversions. 'Be,' as Temple says of the Dutchmen, 'well when you are not ill, and pleased when you are not angry. This may seem but an ill return for your tenderness; but I inean it well, for I love you with great ardour and sincerity. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell, and teach the young ones to love me.”

I unfortunately was so much indisposed during a considerable part of the year, that it was not, or at least I thought it was not,

i Dr. Johnson and others of Mr. Boswell's friends used to disbelieve and therefore to ridicule his mental inquietudes—that “Jemmy Boswell” should be afflicted with melancholy was what none of his acquaintances could imagine; and as he seemed sometimes to make a parade of these miseries, they thought he was aping Dr. Johnson, who was admitted to be really a sufferer, though he endeavoured to conceal it. But after all, there can be no doubt that Mr. Boswell was liable to great inequalities of spirits, which will account for many of the peculiarities of his character, and should induce us to pity what his contemporaria: laughed at.-C.

in my power to write to my illustrious friend as formerly, or without expressing such complaints as offended him. Having conjured him not to do me the injustice of charging me with affectation, I was with much regret long silent. His last letter to me then came, and affected me very tenderly :


“Lichfield, Nov. 5, 1784. “DEAR SIR-I have this summer sometimes amended, and sometimes relapsed, but, upon the whole, have lost ground very much. My legs are extremely weak, and my breath very short, and the water is now increasing upon me. In this uncomfortable state your letters used to relieve; what is the reason that I have them no longer? Are you sick, or are you sullen ? Whatever be the reason, if it be less than necessity, drive it away; and of the short life that we have, make the best use for yourself and for your friends. I am sometimes afraid that your omission to write has some real cause, and shall be glad to know that you are not sick, and that nothing ill has befallen dear Mrs. Boswell, or any of your family. I am, etc. Sam. JOHNSON.”

Yet it was not a little painful to me to find, that in a paragraph of this letter, which I have omitted, he still persevered in arraigoing me as before, which was strange in him who had so much experience of what I suffered. I, however, wrote to him two as kind letters as I could ; the last of which came too late to be read by him, for his illness increased more rapidly upon him than I had apprehended; but I had the consolation of being informed that he spoke of me on his death-bed with affection, and I look forward with humble hope of renewing our friendship in a better world.

I now relieve the readers of this work from any farther personal notice of its author ; who, if he should be thought to have obtruded himself too much upon their attention, requests them to cousider the peculiar plan of his biographical undertaking.

Soon after Johnson's return to the metropolis, both the asthma and dropsy became more violent and distressful. He had for some time kept a journal in Latiu of the state of his illness, and the remedies which he used, under the title of Agri Ephemeris, which he began on the 6th of July, but continued it no longer than the 8th of November ; finding, I suppose, that it was a mournful and

unavailing register. It is in my possession; and is written with great care and accuracy.

Still his love of literature' did not fail. A very few days before his death he transmitted to his friend, Mr. John Nichols, a list of the authors of the Universal History, mentioning their several shares in that work. It has, according to his direction, been deposited in the British Museum, and is printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for December, 1784."

1 It is truly wonderful to consider the extent and constancy of Johnson's literary ardour, notwithstanding the melancholy which clouded and embittered his existence. Besides the numerous and various works which he executed, he had, at different times, formed schemes of a great many more, of which the following catalogue was given by him to Mr. Langton, and by that gentleman presented to his Majesty.-B.—This catalogue, as Mr. Boswell calls it, is, by Dr. Johnson himself, intitled “ DESIGNS," and is written in a few pages of a small duodecimo note-book bound in rough calf. It seems, from the hand, that it was written early in life: from the marginal dates it appears that some portions were added in 1752 and 1753. In the first page of this little volume, his late Majesty King George III. wrote with his own hand:-" Original Manuscripts of Dr. Samuel Johnson, presented by his friend,

Langton, Esq. April 16th, 1785. G. R."-C. ? As the letter accompanying this list (which fully supports the observation in the text) was written but a week before Dr. Johnson's death, the reader may not be displeased to find it here preserved : LETTER 471.


“December 6, 1784. The late learned Mr. Swinton, having one day remarked that one man, meaning, I sup. pose, no man but himself, could assign all the parts of the Ancient Universal History to their proper authors, at the request of Sir Robert Chambers, or of myself, gave the account which I now transmit to you in his own hand; being willing that of so great a work the history should be known, and that each writer should receive his due proportion of praise from posterity.

“I recommend you to preserve this scrap of literary intelligence in Mr. Swinton's owr hand, or to deposit it in the Museum, that the veracity of this account may never be doubted. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,


Mr. S-
The History of the

The History of the



Regio Syrtica.

Turks, Tartars, and Moguls,

Melano Gætulians.

Dissertation on the Peopling of America.

Independency of the Arabs.
The Cosmogony, and a small part of the History immediately following; by Mr. Sale.
To the birth of Abraham; chiefly by Mr. Shelvock.
History of the Jews, Gauls, and Spaniards, by Mr. Psalmanazar.
Xenophon's Retreat; by the same.
History of the Persians and the Constantinopolitan Empire ; by Dr. Campbell.
History of the Romans : by Mr. Bower.

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During his sleepless nights he amused himself by translating into Latin verse, from the Greek, many of the epigrams in the “ Anthologia." These translations, with some other poems by him in Latin, he gave to his friend Mr. Langton, who, having added a few notes, sold them to the booksellers for a small sum to be given to some of Johnson's relations, which was accordingly done ; and they are printed in the collection of his works.

A very erroneous notion had circulated as to Johnson's deficiency in the knowledge of the Greek language, partly owing to the modesty with which, from knowing how much there was to be learnt, he used to mention bis own comparative acquisitions. When Mr. Cumberland' talked to him of the Greek fragments which are so well illustrated in “The Observer," and of the Greek dramatists in general, he candidly acknowledged his insufficiency in that particular branch of Greek literature. Yet it may be said, that though not a great, he was a good Greek scholar. Dr. Charles Burney, the younger, who is universally acknowledged by the best judges to be one of the few men of this age who are very eminent for their skill in that noble language, has assured me, that Johnson could give a Greek word for almost every English one ; and that, although not sufficiently conversant in the niceties of the language, he, upon some occasions, discovered, even in these, a considerable degree of critical acumen. Mr. Dalzel, professor of Greek at Edinburgh, whose skill is unquestionable, mentioned to me, in very liberal terms, the impression which was made upon him by Johnson, in a conversation which they had in London concerning that language. As Johnson,

1 On the subject of Dr. Johnson's skill in Greek, I have great pleasure in quoting an anecdote told by my dear and lamented friend, the late Mr. Gifford, in his Life of Ford :

“My friend the late Lord Grosvenor had a house at Salt Hill, where I usually spent a part of the summer, and thus became acquainted with that great and good man, Jacob Bryant. Here the conversation turned one morning on a Greek criticism by Dr. Johnson in some volume lying on the table, which I ventured [ for I was then young] to deem incorrect, and pointed it out to him. I could not help thinking that he was something of my opinion, but he was cautious and reserved. 'But, Sir,' said I, willing to overcome his scruples, 'Dr. Johnson himself admitted that he was not a good Greek scholar.' 'Sir,' he replied, with a serious and impressive air, “it is not easy for us to say what such a man as Johnson would call a good Greek scholar.' I hope that I profited by that lesson-certainly I never forgot it."--Gifford's Works of Ford, vol. i. p. lxii.-C.

? Mr. Cumberland assures me that he was always treated with great courtesy by Dr. John. son, who, in his “ Letters to Mrs. Thrale,'' Vol. II. p. 68, thus speaks of that learned, ingenious, and accomplished gentleman : The want of company is an inconvenience, but Mr. Cumber: land is a million."

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