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I wish you would look more into his book : and as Lord Mountstuart wishes much to find a proper person to continue the work upon Granger's plan, and has desired I would mention it to you ; if such a man occurs, please to let me know. His Lordship will give him generous encouragement.
· TO MR. ROBERT LEVETT. "DEAR SIR,
“ HAVING spent about six weeks at this place, we have at length resolved upon returning. I expect to see you all in Fleet Street on the 30th of this month.
“I did not go into the sea till last Friday, but think to go most of this week, though I know not that it does me any good. My nights are very restless and tiresome, but I am otherwise well.
“I have written word of my coming to Mrs. Williams. Remember me kindly to Francis and Betsey.*
“I am, Sir,
“Sam. JOHNSON.† Brighthelmstone, Oct. 21, 1776.”
I again wrote to Dr. Johnson on the 21st of October, informing him, that my father had, in the most liberal manner, paid a large debt for me, and that I had now the happiness of being upon very good terms with him ; to which he returned the following answer.
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. "DEAR SIR,
“I HAD great pleasure in hearing that you are at last on good terms with your father. Cultivate his kindness by all honest and manly means. Life is but short; no time can be afforded but for the indulgence of real sorrow, or contests upon questions seriously momentous. Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity. It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled. May you and your father pass the remainder of your time in reciprocal benevolence !
* * *
“Do you ever hear from Mr. Langton ? I visit him sometimes, but he does not talk. I do not like his scheme of life ; but as I am not permitted to understand it, I cannot set any thing right that is wrong. His children are sweet babies.
“ I hope my irreconcilable enemy, Mrs. Boswell, is well. Desire her not to transmit her malevolence to the young people. Let me have Alexander, and Veronica, and Euphemia, for my friends.
“ Mrs. Williams, whom you may reckon as one of your well-wishers, is in a feeble and languishing state, with little hopes of growing better. She went for some part of the autumn into the country, but is little benefited ; and Dr. Lawrence confesses that his art is at end. Death is, however, at a distance : and what more than that
* [His female servant. M.]
† For this and Dr. Johnson's other letters to Mr. Levett, I am indebted to my old acquaintance, Mr. Nathaniel Thomas, whose worth and ingenuity have been long known to a respectable though not a wide circle ; and whose collection of medals would do credit to persons of greater opulence.
[Mr. Nathaniel Thomas, who was many years Editor of the St. James's Chronicle, died March 1, 1795. M.)
LORD AUCHINLECK'S MARRIAGE
can we say of ourselves ? I am sorry for her pain, and more sorry for her decay. Mr. Levett is sound, wind and limb.
"I was some weeks this autumn at Brighthelmstone. The place was very dull, and I was not well; the expedition to the Hebrides was the most pleasant journey that I ever made. Such an effort annually would give the world a little diversification.
"Every year, however, we cannot wander, and must therefore endeavour to spend our time at home as well as we can. I believe it is best to throw life into a method, that every hour may bring its employment, and every employment have its hour. Xenophon observes, in his Treatise of Economy,' that if every thing be kept in a certain place, when any thing is worn out or consumed, the vacuity which it leaves will show what is wanting ; so if every part of time has its duty, the hour will call into remembrance its proper engagement.
“I have not practised all this prudence myself, but I have suffered much for want of it; and I would have you, by timely recollection and steady resolution, escape from those evils which have lain heavy upon me.
“I am, my dearest Boswell,
SAM. JOHNSON. * Bolt Court, Nov. 16, 1776.”
On the 16th of November, I informed him that Mr. Strahan had sent me twelve copies of the “ Journey to the Western Islands,” handsomely bound, instead of the tuenty copies which were stipulated ; but which, I supposed, were to be only in sheets; requested to know how they should be distributed : and mentioned that I had another son born to me, who was named David, and was a sickly infant.
“ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. * DEAR SIR,
“I HAVE been for some time ill of a cold, which, perhaps, I made an excuse to myself for not writing, when in reality I knew not what to say.
** The books you must at last distribute as you think best, in my name, or your own, as you are inclined, or as you judge most proper. Everybody cannot be obliged but I wish that nobody may be offended. Do the best you can.
** I congratulate you on the increase of your family, and hope that little David is by this time well, and his mamma perfectly recovered. I am much pleased to hear of the re-establishment of kindness between you and your father. Cultivate his paternal tenderness as much as you can. To live at variance at all is uncomfortable ; and variance with a father is still more uncomfortable. Besides that, in the whole dispute, you have the wrong side ; at least you gave the first provocations, and some of them very offensive. Let it now be all over. As you have no reason to think that your new mother* has shown you any foul play, treat her with respect, and with some degree of confidence ; this will secure your father. When once a discordant family has felt the pleasure of peace they will not willingly lose it. If Mrs. Boswell would but be friends with me, we might now shut the temple of Janus.
“What came of Dr. Memis's cause? Is the question about the negro determined ? Has Sir Allan any reasonable hopes ? What is become of poor
(Lord Auchinleck had lately married his first cousin Elizabeth,' sister of Claude Irvine Boswell, afterwards a Lord of Session by the title of Lord Balmuto. Of this marriage there was no issue.Croker.)
Macquarry ? Let me know the event of all these litigations. I wish particularly well to the negro and Sir Allan.
Mrs. Williams has been much out of order ; and though she is something better, is likely, in her physician's opinion, to endure her malady for life, though she may, perhaps, die of some other. Mrs. Thrale is big, and fancies that she carries a boy ; if it were very reasonable to wish much about it, I should wish her not to be disappointed. The desire of male heirs is not appended only to feudal tenures. A son is almost necessary to the continuance of Thrale's fortune ; for what can misses do with a brew-house ? Lands are fitter for daughters than trades.
“Baretti went away from Thrale's in some whimsical fit of disgust, or ill-nature, without taking any leave. It is well if he finds in any other place as good an habitation, and as many conveniences. He has got five-and-twenty guineas by translating Sir Joshua's Discourses' into Italian, and Mr. Thrale gave him an hundred in the spring ; so that he is yet in no difficulties.
Colman has bought Foote's patent, and is to allow Foote for life £1,600 a year, as Reynolds told me, and to allow him to play so often on such terms that he may gain £400 more. What Colman can get by this bargain,* but trouble and hazard, I do not see.
“I am, dear Sir,
“SAM. JOHNSON “ Dec. 21, 1776."
The Reverend Dr. Hugh Blair, who had long been admired as a preacher at Edinburgh, thought now of diffusing his excellent sermons more extensively, and increasing his reputation, by publishing a collection of them. He transmitted the manuscript to Mr. Strahan, the printer, who, after keeping it for some time, wrote a letter to him, discouraging the publication. Such at first was the unpropitious state of one of the most successful theological books that has ever appeared. Mr. Strahan, however, had sent one of the sermons to Dr. Johnson for his opinion ; and after his unfavourable letter to Dr. Blair had been sent off, he received from Johnson, on Christmas Eve, a note in which was the following paragraph :
“I have read over Dr. Blair's first sermon with more than approbation ; to say it is good, is to say too little.”
I believe Mr. Strahan had very soon after this time a conversation with Dr. Johnson concerning them; and then he very candidly wrote again to Dr. Blair, enclosing Johnson's note, and agreeing to purchase the volume, for which he and Mr. Cadell gave £100. The sale was so rapid and extensive, and the approbation of the public so high, that to their honour be it recorded, the proprietors made Dr. Blair a present first of one sum, and afterwards of another of £50, thus voluntarily doubling the stipulated price ; and when he prepared another volume, they gave him at once £300, being in all £500 by an agreement to which I am a subscribing witness; and now, for a third octavo volume, he has received no less than £600.
* [It turned out, however, a very fortunate bargain, for Foote, though not then fifty-six, died at an inn in Dover, in less than a year, Oct. 21, 1777. M.]
THE LIVES OF THE POETS
Johnson's State of Mind-Boswell's Law Cases—Sir Alexander Dick-Boswell's Family-Death of
Boswell's son David-False Report of Mr. Thrale's Death-Johnson's Arrangement to Write the Lives of the Poets-Charles O'Connor-Hugh Kelly-Richard Brinsley Sheridan-Dr. Armstrong
and James Thomson-Hume's Life-Execution of Dr. Dodd. In 1777, it appears, from his “Prayers and Meditations,” that Johnson suffered much from a state of mind “unsettled and perplexed,” and from that constitutional gloom, which, together with his extreme humility and anxiety with regard to his feligious state, made him contemplate himself through too dark and unfavourable a medium. It may be said of him that he “saw God in clouds.” Certain we may be of his injustice to himself in the following lamentable paragraph, which it is painful to think came from the contrite heart of this great man, to whose labours the world is so much indebted : “When I survey my past life, I discover nothing but a barren waste of time, with some disorders of body, and disturbances of the mind, very near to madness, which I hope He that made me will suffer to extenuate many faults, and excuse many deficiencies.” * But we find his devotions in this year eminently fervent; and we are comforted by observing intervals of quiet, composure, and gladness.
On Easter Day we find the following emphatic prayer : “ Almighty and most merciful Father, who seest all our miseries, and knowest all our necessities, look down upon me, and pity me. Defend me from the violent incursion of evil thoughts, and enable me to form and keep such resolutions as may conduce to the discharge of the duties which Thy providence shall appoint me; and so help me, by Thy Holy Spirit, that my heart may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found, and that I may serve thee with pure affection and a cheerful mind. Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me; years and infirmities oppress me, terror and anxiety
Have mercy upon me, my Creator and my Judge. In all perplexities relieve and free me; and so help me by Thy Holy Spirit, that I may now so commemorate the death of Thy Son our Saviour JESUS CHRIST, as that, when this short and painful life shall have an end, I may, for His sake, be received to everlasting happiness. Amen." +
While he was at church, the agreeable impressions upon his mind are thus commemorated : “I was for some time distressed; but at last obtained, I hope from the God of Peace, more quiet than I have enjoyed for a long time. I had made do resolution ; but as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased ; and I wrote with my pencil in my Common Prayer Book,
· Vita ordinanda.
Serviendum et lætandum.'
Mr. Steevens, whose generosity is well known, joined Dr. Johnson in assistance to a female relation of Dr. Goldsmith, and desired that on her retui Ireland she would procure authentic particulars of the life of her celebrated rela Concerning her is the following letter :
TO GEORGE STEEVENS, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
You will be glad to hear that from Mrs. Goldsmith, whom we lamente drowned, I have received a letter full of gratitude to us all, with promises to i the inquiries which we recommended to her.
“ I would have had the honour of conveying this intelligence to Miss Caul but that her letter is not on hand, and I know not the direction. You will tel good news.
“I am, Sir, your most, etc.,
SAM. JOHNSO February 25, 1777."
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
“ Edinburgh, Feb. 14, u “MY DEAR SIR,
“My state of epistolary accounts with you at present is extraordinary. balance, as to number, is on your side. I am indebted to you for two letters ; dated the 16th of November, upon which very day I wrote to you, so that our le were exactly exchanged, and one dated the 21st of December last.
“My heart was warmed with gratitude by the truly kind contents of both of t and it is amazing and vexing that I have allowed so much time to elapse wit writing to you. But delay is inherent in me, by nature, or by bad habit. Iw till I should have an opportunity of paying you my compliments on a new I have procrastinated till the new year is no longer new.
“Dr. Memis's cause was determined against him, with £40 costs. The President, and two other of the judges, dissented from the majority, upon ground; that although there may have been no intention to injure him by c him Doctor of Medicine, instead of Physician, yet, as he remonstrated agains designation before the charter was printed off, and represented that it disagreeable, and even harmful to him, it was ill-nature to refuse to alter it let him have the designation to which he was certainly entitled. My own op is that our court has judged wrong. The defendants were in mala fide, to p in naming him in a way that he disliked. You remember poor Goldsmith, whi grew important, and wished to appear Doctor Major, could not bear your calling Goldy. Would it not have been wrong to have named him so in your ‘Prefa Shakspeare,' or in any serious permanent writing of any sort? The difficul whether an action should be allowed on such petty wrongs. De minimis curat lex,
· The negro cause is not yet decided. A memorial is preparing on the si slavery. I shall send you a copy as soon as it is printed. Maclaurin is made h by your approbation of his memorial for the black.
Macquarry was here in the winter, and we passed an evening together. sale of his estate cannot be prevented.