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pleased GOD to restore me to so great a measure of health, that if 1 should now appropriate so much of a fortune destined to do good, I could not escape from myself he charge of advancing a false claim. My journey to the continent, though I once thought it necessary, was never much encouraged by my physicians; and I was very desirous that your Lordship should be told of it by Sir Joshua Reynolds, as an event very uncertain; for if I grew much better, I should not be willing; if much worse, not able, to migrate. Your Lordship was first solicited without my knowledge; but, when I was told that you were pleased to honour me with your patronage, I did not expect to hear of a refusal; yet as I have had no long time to brood hope, and have not rioted in imaginary opulence, this cold reception has been scarce a disappointment; and, from your Lordship's kindness, I have received a benefit, which only men like you are able to bestow. I shall now live mihi carior, with a higher opinion of my own merit. "I am, my Lord, your Lordship's most obliged, "Most grateful, and most humble servant, "SAM. JOHNSON."
Upon this unexpected failure I abstain from presuming to make any remarks, or to offer any conjectures.
Having, after repeated reasonings, brought Dr. Johnson to agree to my removing to London, and even to furnish me with arguments in favour of what he had opposed, I wrote to him requesting he would write them for me; he was so good as to comply, and I shall extract that part of his letter to me of June 11, as a proof how well he could exhibit a cautious yet encouraging view of it:
"I remember, and entreat you to remember, that virtus est vitium fugere; the first approach to riches is security from poverty. The condition upon which you have my consent to settle in London is, that your expense never exceeds your annual income. Fixing this basis of security, you cannot be hurt, and you may be very much advanced. The loss of your Scottish business, which is all that you can lose, is not to be reckoned as any equivalent to the hopes and possibilities that open here upon you. If you succeed, the question of prudence is at an end; everybody will think that done right which ends happily; and though your expectations, of which I would not advise you to talk too much, should not be totally answered, you can hardly fail to get friends who will do for you all that your present situation allows you to hope; and if, after a few years, you should return to Scotland, you will return with a mind supplied by various conversation, and many opportunities of inquiry, with much knowledge, and materials for refiection and instruction."
Let us now contemplate Johnson thirty years after the death of his wife still retaining for her all the tenderness of affection.
"TO THE REVEREND MR. BAGSHAW, AT BROMLEY. "SIR, July 12, 1784. "Perhaps you may remember, that in the year 1753 you committed to the ground my dear wife. I now entreat your permission to lay a stone upon her
1 See vol. ii. v. 167-BoswELL
and have sent the inscription, that, if you find it proper, you may signify your allowance.
"You will do me a great favour by showing the place where she lies, that the stone may protect her remains.
"Mr. Ryland will wait on you for the inscription, and procure it to be engraved. You will easily believe that I shrink from this mournful office. When it is done, if I have any strength remaining, I will visit Bromley once again, and pay you part of the respect to which you have a right from, Reverend Sir, "Your most humble servant, "SAM. JOHNSON."
"I cannot but think that in my languid and anxious state I have some reason to complain that I receive from you neither inquiry nor consolation. You know how much I value your friendship, and with what confidence I expect your kindness, if I wanted any act of tenderness that you could perform; at least, if you do not know it, I think your ignorance is your own fault. Yet how
1 Printed in his works.---BOSWELL
long is it that I have lived almost in your neighbourhood without the least notice. I do not, however, consider this neglect as particularly shown to me; I hear two of your most valuable friends make the same complaint. But why are all thus overlooked? You are not oppressed by sickness; you are not distracted by business; if you are sick, you are sick of leisure:-And allow yourself to be told, that no disease is more to be dreaded or avoided. Rather to do nothing than to do good, is the lowest state of a degraded mind. Boileau says to his pupil,
'Que les vers ne soient pas votre éternel emploi,
That voluntary debility, which modern language is content to term indolence, will, if it is not counteracted by resolution, render in time the strongest faculties lifeless, and turn the flame to the smoke of virtue.-I do not expect nor desire to see you, because I am much pleased to find that your mother stays so long with you, and I should think you neither elegant nor grateful, if you did not study her gratification. You will pay my respects to both the ladies, and to all the young people. I am going northward for a while, to try what help the country can give me; but if you will write, the letter will come after me."
Next day he set out on a jaunt to Staffordshire and Derbyshire, flattering himself that he might be in some degree relieved.
During his absence from London he kept up a correspondence with several of his friends, from which I shall select what appears to me proper for publication, without attending nicely to chronological order.
To Dr. Brocklesby he writes :
"Ashbourne, July 20.
"The kind attention which you have so long shown to my health and happiness makes it as much a debt of gratitude as a call of interest, to give you an account of what befalls me, when accident recovers' me from your immediate care. The journey of the first day was performed with very little sense of fatigue; the second day brought me to Lichfield, without much lassitude; but I am afraid that I could not have bore such violent agitation for many days together. Tell Dr. Heberden, that in the coach I read Ciceronianus,' which I concluded as I entered Lichfield. My affection and understanding went along with Erasmus, except that once or twice he somewhat unskilfully entangles Cicero's civil or moral, with his rhetorical character.—I stayed five days at Lichfield, but, being unable to walk, had no great pleasure, and yesterday (19th) I came hither, where I am to try what air and attention can perform.—Of any improvement in my health I cannot yet please myself with the perception. —The asthma has no abatement. Opiates stop the fit, so as that I can sit and sometimes lie easy, but they do not now procure me the power of motion; and I am afraid that my general strength of body does not increase. The weather indeed is not benign; but how low is he sunk whose strength depends upon the weather!-I am now looking into Floyer, who lived with his asthma to almost his ninetieth year. His book by want of order is obscure; and his asthma, I think, not of the same kind with mine. Something however I may perhaps
This is probably an error either of the transcript or the press. Removes seems to ke the word intended.-MALONE
learn. My appetite still continues keen enough; and, what I consider as a symptom of radical health, I have a voracious delight in raw summer fruit, of which I was less eager a few years ago.—You will be pleased to communicate this account to Dr. Heberden, and if anything is to be done, let me have your joint opinion.Now-abite, cura! let me inquire after the Club."1
"July 31. Not recollecting that Dr. Heberden might be at Windsor, I thought your letter long in coming. But, you know, nocitura petuntur, the letter which I so much desired tells me that I have lost one of my best and tenderest friends. My comfort is, that he appeared to live like a man that had always before his eyes the fragility of our present existence, and was therefore, I hope, not unprepared to meet his Judge.-Your attention, dear Sir, and that of Dr. Heberden, to my health, is extremely kind. I am loth to think that I grow worse; and cannot fairly prove, even to my own partiality, that I grow much
August 5. I return you thanks, dear Sir, for your unwearied attention, both medicinal and friendly, and hope to prove the effect of your care by living to acknowledge it."
"August 12. Pray be so kind as to have me in your thoughts, and mention my case to others as you have opportunity. I seem to myself neither to gain nor lose strength. I have lately tried milk, but have yet found no advantage, and I am afraid of it merely as a liquid. My appetite is still good, which I know is dear Dr. Heberden's criterion of the vis vitæ.-As we cannot now see each other, do not omit to write; for you cannot think with what warmth of expectation I reckon the hours of a post-day."
"August 14. I have hitherto sent you only melancholy letters; you will be glad to hear some better account. Yesterday the asthma remitted, perceptibly remitted, and I moved with more ease than I have enjoyed for many weeks. May GOD continue his mercy.-This account I would not delay, because I am not a lover of complaints, or complainers, and yet I have, since we parted, uttered nothing till now but terror and sorrow. Write to me, dear Sir."
August 16. Better, I hope, and better. My respiration gets more and more ease and liberty. I went to church yesterday, after a very liberal dinner, without any inconvenience; it is indeed no long walk, but I never walked it without difficulty, since I came, before. * The intention was only to overpower the seeming vis inertia of the pectoral and pulmonary muscles. I am favoured with a degree of ease that very much delights me, and do not despair of another race upon the stairs of the Academy.-If I were, however, of a humour to see, or to show the state of my body, on the dark side, I might say,
'Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una?' 8
The nights are still sleepless, and the water rises, though it does not rise very fast. Let us, however, rejoice in all the good that we have. The remission of one disease will enable nature to combat the rest.-The squills I have not neglected; for I have taken more than a hundred drops a day, and one day took
At the Essex Head, Essex-street.-BOSWELL.
2 Mr. Allen, the printer.-Boswell.
8 Horat. epist. ii. 212.-Boswell.
two hundred and fifty, which, according to the popular equivalent of a drop to a grain, is more than half an ounce.-I thank you, dear Sir, for your attention in ordering the medicines; your attention to me has never failed. If the virtue of medicines could be enforced by the benevolence of the prescriber, how soon should I be well!"
“August 19.. The relaxation of the asthma still continues, yet I do not trust it wholly to itself, but soothe it now and then with an opiate. I not only perform the perpetual act of respiration with less labour, but I can walk with fewer intervals of rest and with greater freedom of motion. I never thought well of Dr. James's compounded medicines; his ingredients appear to me sometimes inefficacious and trifling, and sometimes heterogeneous and destructive of each other. This prescription exhibits a composition of about three hundred and thirty grains, in which there are four grains of emetic tartar, and six drops [of] thebaic tincture. He that writes thus, surely writes for show. The basis of his medicine is the gum ammoniacum, which dear Dr. Lawrence used to give, but of which I never saw any effect. We will, if you please, let this medicine alone. The squills have every suffrage, and in the squills we will rest for the present."
'August 21. The kindness which you show, by having me in your thoughts upon all occasions, will, I hope, always fill my heart with gratitude. Be pleased to return my thanks to Sir George Baker, for the consideration which he has bestowed upon me.-Is this the balloon that has been so long expected, this balloon to which I subscribed, but without payment? It is pity that philosophers have been disappointed, and shame that they have been cheated; but I know not well how to prevent either. Of this experiment I have read nothing. Where was it exhibited? and who was the man that ran away with so much money? Continue, dear Sir, to write often and more at a time, for none of your prescriptions operate to their proper uses more certainly than your letters operate as cordials."
"August 26. I suffered you to escape last post without a letter: but you are not to expect such indulgence very often; for I write not so much because I have anything to say, as because I hope for an answer; and the vacancy of my life here makes a letter of great value.—I have here little company and little amusement, and thus abandoned to the contemplation of my own miseries, I am something gloomy and depressed; this too I resist as I can, and find opium, I think, useful; but I seldom take more than one grain.-Is not this strange weather? Winter absorbed the spring, and now autumn is come before we have had summer. But let not our kindness for each other imitate the inconstancy of the seasons.'
"Sept. 2. Mr. Windham has been here to see me; he came, I think, forty miles out of his way, and stayed about a day and a half; perhaps I make the time shorter than it was. Such conversation I shall not have again till I come back to the regions of literature; and there Windham is, inter stellas1 Luna minores." He then mentions the effects of certain medicines, as taken; that "Nature is recovering its original powers, and the functions returning to their proper state. God continue his mercies, and grant me to use them rightly.' Sept. 9. Do you know the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire? And have
1 It is remarkable that so good a Latin scholar as Johnson should have been so inattentive to the metre, as by mistake to have written stellas instead of ignes.--BOSWELL.