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I suppose the tenor is this :- Acute diseases are the immediate and inevitable strokes of Heaven; but of them the pain is short, and the conclusion speedy; chronical disorders, by which we are suspended in tedious torture between life and death, are commonly the effect of our own misconduct and intemperance. To die, &c.' This, Sir, you see, is all true and all blameless. I hope some time in the next week to have all rectified. My health has been lately much shaken;
you favour me with any answer, it will be a comfort to me to know that I have your prayers. I am, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON.” This letter, as might be expected, had its full effect, and the clergyman acknowledged it in grateful and pious terms."
The following letters require no extracts from mine to introduce them.
“TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “DEAR SIR,
London, June 3, 1782. “The earnestness and tenderness of your letter is such, that I cannot think myself showing it more respect than it claims by sitting down to answer it on the day on which I received it.
This year has afflicted me with a very irksome and severe disorder. My respiration has been much impeded, and much blood has been taken away. I am now harassed by a catarrhous cough, from which my purpose is to seek relief by change of air ; and I am therefore preparing to go to Oxford.
“Whether I did right in dissuading you from coming to London this spring, I will not determine. You have not lost much by missing my company; I have scarcely been well for a single week. I might have received comfort from your kindness; but you would have seen me afflicted, and, perhaps, found me peevish. Whatever might have been your pleasure or mine, I know not how I could have honestly advised you to come hither with borrowed money. Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience—you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided. Consider a man whose fortune is very narrow, whatever be his rank by birth, or whatever his reputation by intellectual excellence, what can he do, or what evil can he prevent? That he cannot help the needy is evident; he has nothing to spare. But, perhaps, his advice or admonition may be useful. His poverty will destroy his influence; many more can find that he is poor, than that he is wise; and few will reverence the understanding that is of so little advantage to its owner. I say nothing of the personal wretchedness of a debtor, which, however, has passed into a proverb. Of riches it is not necessary to write the praise. Let it, however, be remembered, that he who has money to spare has it always in his power to benefit others; and of such power a good man must always be desirous.
of the following paragraph, as seeming to favour suicide, we are requested to print the whole passage, that its true meaning may appear, which is not to recommend suicide but exercise :
“Exercise cannot secure us from that dissolution to which we are decreed; but while the soul and body continue united, it can make the association pleasing, and give probable hopes that they shall be disjoined by an easy separation. It was a principle among the ancients, that acute diseases are from Heaven, and chronical from ourselves; the dart of death, indeed, falls from Heaven, but we poison it by our own misconduct: to die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish is generally his folly."-Boswell.
1 The Correspondence may be seen at length in "The Gentleman's Magazine," Feb. 1786.-Boswell.
"I am pleased with your account of Easter.1 We shall meet, I hope, in autumn, both well and both cheerful; and part each the better for the other's company. • Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to the
charmers. “I am, &c.,
"TO MR. PERKINS. “DEAR SIR,
July 28, 1782. "I am much pleased that you are going a very long journey, which
may, by proper conduct, restore your health and prolong your life.
Observe these rules :-
“2. Do not think about frugality; your health is worth more than it can cost.
“3. Do not continue any day's journey to fatigue.
“7. This last direction is the principal; with an unquiet mind, neither exer-
“I am, dear Sir,
“TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. DEAR SIR,
August 24, 1782. “Being uncertain whether I should have any call this autumr. into the country, I did not immediately answer your kind letter. I have no call ; but if you desire to meet me at Ashbourne, believe I can come thither ; if you had rather come to London, I can stay at Streatham : take your choice.
“ This year has been very heavy. From the middle of January to the middle of June I was battered by one disorder after another! I am now very much recovered, and hope still to be better. What happiness it is that Mrs. Boswell has escaped.
“My 'Lives' are reprinting, and I have forgotten the author of Gray's character.2 Write immediately, and it may be perhaps yet inserted.
“Of London or Ashbourne you have your free choice; at any place I shall be glad to see you. I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
1 Which I celebrated in the Church-of-England chapel at Edinburgh, founded by Lord Chief Baror. Smith, of respectable and pious memory.--BOSWELL.
% The Rev. Mr. Temple, Vicar of St. Gluvias, Cornwall.--Boswell.
Death of BOSWELL'S FATHER—Johnson's Advice-His CORRESPONDENCE WITH
N the 30th of August I informed him that my honoured father had
having suddenly come to a crisis, while I was upon a visit at the seat of Sir Charles Preston, from whence I had lastened the day before, upon receiving a letter by express.
London, Sept. 7, 1782. “I have struggled through this year with so much infirmity of body, and such strong impressions of the fragility of life, that death, whenever it appears, fills me with melancholy; and I cannot hear without emotion of the removal of any one, whom I have known, into another state.
“Your father's death had every circumstance that could enable you to bear it; it was at a mature age, and it was expected; and as his general life had been pious, his thoughts had doubtless for many years past been turned upon eternity. That you did not find him sensible must doubtless grieve you ; his disposition towards you was undoubtedly that of a kind, though not of a fond.
ordered poem ;
father. Kindness, at least actual, is in our power, but fondness is not; and if by negligence or imprudence you had extinguished his fondness, he vul not at will rekindle it. Nothing then remained between you but mutual forgiveness of each other's faults, and mutual desire of each other's happiness.
I shall long to know his final disposition of his fortune.
“You, dear Sir, have now a new station, and have therefore new cares and new employments. Life, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a well
of which one rule generally received is, that the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new course of life with the least show, and the least expense possible ; you may at pleasure increase both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do not think your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay; therefore begin with timorous parsimony. Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.
“When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct, and maxims of prudence, which one generation of men has transmitted to another ; but upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced, and how much good is impeded by embarrassment and distress, and how little room the expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue, it grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interest of this.
"Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and factors ; do not disgust them by asperity, or unwelcome gaiety, or apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of your lands.
" Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell; I think her expectations from air and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long and happily.
“I forgot whether I told you that Rasay has been here; we dined cheerfully together. I entertained lately a young gentleman from Corrichatachin. “I received your letters only this morning.
“I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." In answer to my next letter, I received one from him, dissuading me from hastening to him as I had proposed; what is proper for publication is the following paragraph, equally just and tender :
One expense, however, I would not have you spare ; let nothing be omitted that can preserve Mrs. Boswell, though it should be necessary to transplant her for a time into a softer climate. She is the prop and stay of your life. How nuch must your children suffer by losing her.”
My wife was now so much convinced of his sincere friendship for me, and regard for her, that, without any suggestion on my part, she wrote him a very polite and grateful letter.
“ DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. BOSWELL. “ DEAR LADY,
London, Sep. 7, 1782 “I have not often received so much pleasure as from your invitation to Auchinleck. The journey thither and back is, indeed, too great for the latter part of the year ; but if my health were fully recovered, I would suffer no little
heat and cold, nor a wet or a rough road to keep me from you. I am, indeed, not without hope of seeing Auchinleck again; but to make it a pleasant place I must see its lady well, and brisk, and airy. For my sake, therefore, among many greater reasons, take care, dear Madam, of your health, spare no expense, and want no attendance that can procure ease, or preserve it. Be very careful to keep your mind quiet; and do not think it too much to give an account of your recovery to, Madam, yours, &c.,
"SAM. JOHNSON.” TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “DEAR SIR,
London, Dec. 7, 1782. “Having passed almost this whole year in a succession of disorders, I went in October to Brighthelmstone, whither I came in a state of so much weakness, that I rested four times in walking between the inn and the lodging. By physic and abstinence I grew better, and am now reasonably easy, though at a great distance from health. I am afraid, however, that health begins, after seventy, and long before, to have a meaning different from that which it had at thirty. But it is culpable to murmur at the established order of the creation, as it is vain to oppose it; he that lives, must grow old; and he that would rather grow old than die, has God to thank for the infirmities of old age.
“At your long silence I am rather angry. You do not, since now you are the head of your house, think it worth your while to try whether you or your friend can live longer without writing, nor suspect that, after so many years o. friendship, when I do not write to you, I forget you. Put all such useless jealousies out of your head, and disdain to regulate your own practice by the practice of another, or by any other principle than the desire of doing right.
"Your economy, I suppose, begins now to be settled ; your expenses are adjusted to your revenue, and all your people in their proper places. Resolve not to be poor : whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.
“Let me know the history of your life since your accession to your estate;how many houses, how many cows, how much land in your own hand, and what bargains you make with your tenants.
“Of my 'Lives of the Poets, they have printed a new edition in octavo, I hear, of three thousand. Did I give a set to Lord Hailes? If I did not, I will do it out of these. What did you make of all your copy?
“Mrs. Thrale and the three Misses are now, for the winter, in Argyle-street. Sir Joshua Reynolds has been out of order, but is well again ; and I am, dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
“ TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “ DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, Dec. 20, 1782. “I was made happy by your kind letter, which gave us the agreeable hopes of seeing you in Scotland again.
“ I am much flattered by the concern you are pleased to take in my recovery.