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more letters from him to Mr. Cruikshank, and also to Dr. Mudge, at Plymouth, which it would be improper to insert, as they are filled with unpleasing technical details. I shall, however, extract from his letters to Dr. Mudge such passages as show either a felicity of expression or the undaunted state of his mind.
“My conviction of your skill, and my belief of your friendship, determine me to entreat your opinion and advice.”
“In this state I with great earnestness desire you to tell me what is to be done. Excision is doubtless necessary to the cure, and I know not any means of palliation. The operation is doubtless painful; but is it dangerous ? The pain I hope to endure with decency ; but I am loath to put life into much hazard."
• By representing the gout as an antagonist to the palsy, you have said enough to make it welcome. This is not strictly the first fit; but I hope it is as good as the first ; for it is the second that ever confined me; and the first was ten years ago, much less fierce and fiery than this.”
“Write, dear Sir, what you can to inform or encourage me. The operation is not delayed by any fears or objections of mine."
TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
London, Sept. 29, 1783. “ You may very reasonably charge me with insensibility of your kindness and that of Lady Rothes, since I have suffered so much time to pass without paying any acknowledgment. I now, at last, return my thanks; and why I did it not sooner I ought to tell you. I went into Wiltshire as soon as I well could, and was there much employed in palliating my own malady. Disease produces much selfish
A man in pain is looking after ease ; and lets most other things go as chance shall dispose of them. In the meantime I have lost a companion, to whom I have had recourse for domestic amusement for thirty years, and whose variety of knowledge never was exhausted ; and now return to a habitation vacant and desolate. I carry about a very troublesome and dangerous complaint which admits no cure but by the chirurgical knife. Let me have your prayers.
“I am, &c.
Happily the complaint abated without his being put to the torture of amputation. But we must surely admire the manly resolution which he discovered, while it hung over him.
In a letter to the same gentleman he writes. “ The gout has, within these four days, come upon me with a violence which I never experienced before. It made me helpless as an infant.” And in another, having mentioned Mrs. Williams, he says,—“ whose death following that of Levett, has now made my house a solitude. She left her little substance to a charity-school. She is, I hope, where there is neither darkness, nor want, nor sorrow.”
I wrote to him, begging to know the state of his health, and men
* Mrs. Anna Williams.-BosWELL.
tioned that “ Baxter's Anacreon, which is in the library at Auchinleck, was, I find, collated by my father in 1727, with the MS. belouging to the University of Leyden, and he has made a number of notes upon it.
advise me to publish a new edition of it?” His answer was dated September 30.—“You should not make your letters such rarities, when you know, or might know, the uniform state of my health. It is very long since I heard from you ; and that I have not answered is a very insufficient reason for the silence of a friend. Your Anacreon is a very uncommon book ; neither London nor Cambridge can supply a copy of that edition. Whether it should be reprinted, you cannot do better than consult Lord Hailes. constant and radical disease, I have been for these ten days much harassed with the gout ; but that has now remitted. I hope GOD will yet grant me a little longer life, and make me less unfit to appear before him." He this autumn received a visit from the celebrated Mrs. Siddons.
He gives this account of it in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, October 27 :
“Mrs. Siddons, in her visit to me, behaved with great modesty and propriety, and left nothing behind her to be censured or despised. Neither praise nor money, the two powerful corruptors of mankind, seemed to have depraved her. I shall be glad to see her again. Her brother Kemble calls on me, and pleases me very well. Mrs. Siddons and I talked of plays; and she told me her intention of exhibiting this winter the characters of Constance, Catherine, and Isabella, in Shakspeare.”
Mr. Kemble has favoured me with the following minute of what passed at this visit :
“When Mrs. Siddons came into the room, there happened to be no chair ready for her, which he observing, said with a smile, 'Madam, you who so often occasion a want of seats to other people, will the more easily excuse the want of one yourself.'
• Having placed himself by her, he with great good humour entered upon a consideration of the English drama ; and, among other inquiries, particularly asked her which of Shakspeare's characters she was most pleased with. Upon her answering that she thought the character of Queen Catherine in Henry the Eighth the most natural :-'I think so, too, Madam,' said he ; 'and whenever you perform it, I will once more hobble out to the theatre myself.' Mrs. Sid. dons promised she would do herself the honour of acting his favourite part for
him; but many circumstances happened to prevent the representation of King Henry the Eighth during the Doctor's life.
“In the course of the evening he thus gave his opinion upon the merits of some of the principal performers whom he remembered to have seen upon the stage. “Mrs. Porter in the vehemence of rage, and Mrs. Clive in the sprightliness of humour, I have never seen equalled. What Clive did best, she did batter than Garrick ; but could not do half so many things well; she was a better romp than
any I ever saw in nature.-Pritchard, in common life, was a vulgar idiot; she would talk of her gownd; but, when she appeared upon the stage, seemed to he inspired by gentility and understanding.–I once talked with Colley Cibber, and thought him ignorant of the principles of his art.-Garrick, Madam, was no declaimer; there was not one of his own scene-shifters who could not have spoken To be, or not to be, better than he did; yet he was the only actor I ever saw, whom I could call a master both in tragedy and comedy; though I liked him best in comedy. A true conception of character, and natural expression of it, were his distinguished excellencies.' Having expatiated, with his usual force and eloquence, on Mr. Garrick's extraordinary eminence as an actor, he concluded with this compliment to his social talents : 'And after all, Madam, I thought him less to be envied on the stage than at the head of a table.""
Johnson, indeed, had thought more upon the subject of acting than might be generally supposed. Talking of it one day to Mr. Keinble, he said, “ Are you, Sir, one of those enthusiasts who believe yourself transformed into the very character you represent ?” Upon Mr. Kemble's answering that he had never felt so strong a persuasion himself: “To be sure not, Sir,” said Johnson, “the thing is impossible. And if Garrick really believed himself to be that monster Richard the Third, he deserved to be hanged every time he performed it.”1
1 My worthy friend, Mr. John Nichols, was present when Mr. Henderson, the actor, paid a visit to Dr.Johnson, and was received in a very courteous manner.-See “Gendeman's Magazine," June, 1791.
I found, among Dr. Johnson's papers, the following letter to him, from the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy:
“ TO DR. JOHNSON,
“No. 10, Duke-street, St. James's, May 11, 1783. “SIR,—The flattering remembrance of the partiality you honoured me with, some years ago, as well as the humanity you are known to possess, has encouraged me to solicit your patronage at my benefit.
'By a long Chancery suit, and a complicated train of unfortunate events, I am
“ TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD. “DEAR MADAM,
Bolt-court, Fleet-street, Nov. 10, 1783. “The death of poor Mr. Porter, of which your maid has sent an account, must have very much surprised you. The death of a friend is almost always unexpected : we do not love to think of it, and therefore are not prepared for its coming. He was, I think, a religious man, and therefore that his end was happy
“Death has likewise visited my mournful habitation. Last month died Mrs. Williams, who had been to me for thirty years in the place of a sister : her knowledge was great, and her conversation pleasing. I now live in cheerless solitude.
My two last years have passed under the pressure of successive diseases. I have lately had the gout with some severity. But I wonderfully escaped the operation which I mentioned, and am upon the whole restored to health beyond my own expectation.
“As we daily see our friends die round us, we that are left must cling closer, and, if we can do nothing more, at least pray for one another ; and remember, that as others die we must die too, and prepare ourselves diligently for the last great trial.
I am, Madam, yours affectionately,
“SAM. JOHNSON." A pleasing instance of the generous attention of one of his friends has been discovered by the publication of Mrs. Thrale's collection of Letters. In a letter to one of the Miss Thrales, he writes, “A friend, whose name I will tell, when your mamma has tried to guess it, sent to my physician to inquire whether this long train of illness had brought me into difficulties for want of money, with an invitation to send to him for what occasion required. I shall write this night to thank him, having no need to borrow.” And afterwards, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, Since you cannot guess, I will tell you, that the generous man was Gerard Hamilton. I returned him a very thankful and respectful letter."
reduced to the greatest distress, which obliges me once more to request the indulgence of the public.
& Give me leave to solicit the honour of your company, and to assure you, if you grant my request, the gratification I shall feel, from being patronised by Dr. Johnson, will be infinitely superior to any advantage that may arise from the benefit; as I am, with the profoundest respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant, G. A. Bellamy."
I am happy in recording these particulars, which prove that my illustrious friend lived to think much more favourably of players than he appears to have done in the early part of his life.-Boswell.
I applied to Mr. Hamilton, by a common friend, and he has been so obliging as to let me have Johnson's letter to him upon this occasion, to adorn
"TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAM GERARD HAMILTON.
November 19, 1783. "Your kind inquiries after my affairs, and your generous offers, have been communicated to me by Dr. Brocklesby. I return thanks with great sincerity, having lived long enough to know what gratitude is due to your friendship; and entreat that my refusal may not be imputed to sullenness or pride. I am, indeed, in no want. Sickness is, by the generosity of my physicians, of little expense to
But if any unexpected exigence should press me, you shall see, dear Sir, how cheerfully I can be obliged to so much liberality. I am, Sir, “Your most obedient and most humble servant,
SAM. Johnson.” I find in this, as in former years, notices of his kind attention to Mrs. Gardiner, who, though in the humble station of a tallow-chandler upon Snow Hill, was a woman of excellent good sense, pious and charitable. She told me, she had been introduced to him by Mrs. Masters, the poetess, whose volumes he revised, and, it is said, illuminated here and there with a ray of his own genius.
Mrs. Gardiner was very zealous for the support of the Ladies' Charity-school, in the parish of St. Sepulchre. It is confined to females ; and, I am told, it afforded a hint for the story of Betty Broom, in “The Idler.” Johnson this year, I find, obtained for it a sermon from the late Bishop of St Asaph, Dr. Shipley, whom he, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, characterises as “knowing and conversable ;” and whom all who knew his Lordship, even those who differed from him in politics, remember with much respect.
The Earl of Carlisle having written a tragedy, entitled “THE FATHER'S REVENGE,” some of his Lordship’s friends applied to Mrs. Chapone, to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read and give his opinion of it, which he accordingly did, in a letter to that lady. Sir Joshua Reynolds having informed me that this letter was in Lord Carlisle's possession, though I was not fortunate enough to have the honour of being known to his Lordship, trusting to the general courtesy of literature, I wrote to him, requesting the favour of a copy of it, and to be permitted to insert it in my life of Dr. Johnson. His Lordship was so good as to comply with my request, and has thus enabled me to enrich my work with a very fine piece of writing, which displays both the critical skill and politeness of my illustrious friend ; and perhaps the curiosity which it will excite may induce the noble and elegant author to gratify the
1 In his will, Dr. Johnson left her a book " at her election, to keep as a token of remombrance."-MALONR.