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abroad; nor, indeed, do I think myself yet able to 1784. endure the weather.
Ætat. 75. “ I am, Sir,
- Your most humble Servant, "April 5, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
TO THE SAME.
“The bearer is my god-son, whom I take the liberty of recommending to your kindness; which I hope he will deserve by his respect to your excellence, and his gratitude for your
“ I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant, “ April 10, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
TO THE SAME.
“I AM very much obliged by your civilities to my god-son, but must beg of you to add to them the favour of permitting him to see you paint, that he
may know how a picture is begun, advanced, and completed.
“ If he may attend you in a few of your operations, I hope he will shew that the benefit has been properly conferred, both by his proficiency and his gratitude. At least I shall consider you as enlarging your kindness to, Sir,
“ Your humble servant, “ May 31, 1784.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
1784: TO THE REVEREND DR. TAYLOR, ASHBOURNE,
DERBYSHIRE, Etat. 75.
66 DEAR SIR,
“ What can be the reason that I hear nothing from you? I hope nothing disables you from writing. What I have seen, and what I have felt, gives me reason to fear every thing. Do not omit giving me the comfort of knowing, that after all my losses I have yet a friend left.
“ I want every comfort. My life is very solitary and very cheerless. Though it has pleased God wonderfully to deliver me from the dropsy. I am yet very weak, and have not passed the door since the 13th of December. I hope for some help from warm weather, which will surely come in time.
“ I could not have the consent of the physicians to go to church yesterday; I therefore received the holy sacrament at home, in the room where I communicated with dear Mrs. Williams, a little before her death. O! my friend, the approach of death is very
dreadful. I am afraid to think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is vain to look round and round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy that he who has lived today may live to-morrow. But let us learn to derive our hope only from God.
- In the mean time, let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now living but you and Mr. Hector, that was the friend of my youth. Do not neglect, dear Sir,
“ Yours affectionately, “ London, Easter-Monday,
“ SAM. JOHNSON." April 12, 1784.
[This friend of Johnson's youth survived him somewhat more than three years, having died Feb. 19, 1788. M.]
[TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD. 1784,
Ætat. 75. MY DEAR,
“I write to you now, to tell you that I am so far recovered that on the 21st I went to church, to return thanks, after a confinement of more than four long months.
My recovery is such as neither myself nor the physicians at all expected, and its such as that very few examples have been known of the like. Join with me, my dear love, in returning thanks to God.
“ Dr. Vyse has been with [me] this evening: he tells me that you likewise have been much disordered, but that you are now better. I hope that we shall sometime have a cheerful interview. In the mean time let us pray for one another.
“ I am, Madam,
" Your humble servant, * London, April 26, 1784. “ SAM. Johnson."]
What follows is a beautiful specimen of his gentleness and complacency to a young lady his godchild, one of the daughters of his friend Mr. Langton, then I think in her seventh year. He took the trouble to write it in a large round hand, nearly resembling printed characters, that she might have the satisfaction of reading it herself. The original lies before me, but shall be faithfully restored to her; and I dare say will be preserved by her as a jewel, as long as she lives.
“ TO MISS JANE LANGTON, IN ROCHESTER, KENT. Ætat.75.
MY DEAREST MISS JENNY,
“ I AM sorry that your pretty letter has been so long without being answered; but, when I am not pretty well, I do not always write plain enough for ladies. I am glad, my dear, to see that you write so well, and hope that
your pen, your book, and your needle, for they are all necessary. Your books will give you knowledge, and make you respected ; and your needle will find you useful employment when you do not care to read. When you are a little older, I hope you will be very diligent in learning arithmetick; and, above all, that through your whole life you will carefully say your prayers, and read your Bible.
“ I am, my dear,
“ Your most humble servant, May 10, 1784.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
On Wednesday, May 5, I arrived in London, and next morning had the pleasure to find Dr. Johnson greatly recovered. I but just saw him ; for a coach was waiting to carry him to Islington, to the house of his friend the Reverend Mr. Strahan, where he went sometimes for the benefit of good air, which, notwithstanding his having formerly laughed at the general opinion upon the subject, he now acknowledged was conducive to health.
One morning afterwards, when I found him alone, he communicated to me, with solemn earnestness, a very remarkable circumstance which had happened in the course of his illness, when he was much distressed by the dropsy. He had shut himself up, 1784. and employed a day in particular exercises of reli
Ætat.75. gion--fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On a sndden he obtained extraordinary relief, for which he looked up to Heaven with grateful devotion. He made no direct inference from this fact; but from his manner of telling it, I could perceive that it appeared to him as something more than an incident in the common course of events.
For my own part, I have no difficulty to avow that cast of thinking, which, by many modern pretenders to wisdom, is called superstitious. But here I think even men of dry rationality may believe, that there was an inter. mediate interposition of divine Providence, and that “ the fervent prayer of this righteous man" availed.?
On Sunday, May 9, I found Colonel Vallancy, the celebrated Antiquary, and Engineer of Ireland,
? Upon this subject there is a very fair and judicious remark in the Life of Dr. Abernethy, in the first edition of the Biographia Britannica, which I should have been glad to see in his Life which has been written for the second edition of that valuable work. “ To deny the exercise of a particular providence in the Deity's government of the world, is certainly impious, yet nothing serves the cause of the scorner more than an incautious forward zeal in determining the particular instances of it.”
In confirmation of my sentiments, I am also happy to quote that sensible and elegant writter Mr. Melmoth, in Letter VIII. of his collection, published under the name of Fitzosborne. may safely assert, that the belief of a particular Providence is founded upon such probable reasons as may well justify our assent. It would scarce, therefore, be wise to renounce an opinion which affords so firm a support to the soul, in those seasons wherein she stands in most need of assistance, merely because it is not possible, in questions of this kind, to solve every difficulty which attends them."