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“ MR. Johnson, who came home last night, 1784 sends his respects to dear Dr. Burney, and all the
Ætat. 75. dear Burneys, little and great."
TO MR. HECTOR, IN BIRMINHGAM.
“ I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning, and then I sent Francis to see the balloon fly, but could not go myself. I staid at Oxford till Tuesday, and then came in the common vehicle easily to London. I am as I was, and having seen Dr. Brocklesby, am to ply the squills ; but, whatever be their efficacy, this world must soon pass away. Let us think seriously on our duty.--I send my kindest respects to dear Mrs. Careless: let me have the prayers of both. We have all lived long, and must soon part. God have mercy on us, for the sake of our Lord Jesus CHRIST. Amen.
“ I am, &c. " London, Nov. 17, 1784.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
His correspondence with me, after his letter on the subject of my settling in London, shall now, so far as is proper, be produced in one series.
July 26, he wrote to me from Ashbourne: “ On the 14th I came to Lichfield, and found every body glad enough to see me. On the 20th, I came hither, and found a house half-built, of very uncomfortable appearence; but my own room has not been altered. That a man worn with diseases, in his seventy-second or third year, should condemn part of his remaining life to pass among ruins and rubbish, and that no inconsiderable part, appears to me very strange.-I know that your kindness makes you impatient to
1784. know the state of my health, in which I cannot
boast of much improvement. I came through the Ætat.75.
journey without much inconvenience, but when I attempt self-motion I find my legs weak, and my breath very short; this day I have been much disordered. I have no company; the Doctor* is busy in his fields, and goes to bed at nine, and his whole system is so different from mine, that we seem formed for different elements; I have, therefore, all my amusement to seek within myself.”
Having written to him in bad spirits, a letter filled with dejection and fretfulness, and at the same time expressing anxious apprehensions concerning him, on account of a dream which had disturbed me; his answer was chiefly in terms of reproach, for a supposed charge of “affecting discontent, and indulging the vanity of complaint.” It, however, proceeded, “ Write to me often, and write like a
I consider your fidelity and tenderness as a great part of the comforts which are yet left me, and sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other.
* *.-My dear friend, life is very short and very uncertain; let us spend it as well as we can. My worthy neighbour, Allen, is dead. Love me as well as you can.' Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell.--Nothing ailed me at that time; let your superstition at last have an end."
Feeling very soon, that the manner in which he had written might hurt me, he two days afterwards, July 28, wrote to me again, giving me an account of his sufferings; after which, he thus proceeds: " Before this letter, you will have had one which I
4 The Rev. Dr. Taylor.
* * * * * *
hope you will not take amiss; for it contains only 1784. truth, and that truth kindly intended. ******* Spartam quam nactus es orna; make the most and best of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you, but with the multitudes which are below
*** ***. Go steadily forwards with lawful business or honest diversions. ' Be, (as Temple says of the Dutchmen,) well when you are not ill, and pleased when you are not angry.
This may seem but an ill return for your tenderness; but I mean it well, for I love
you with great ardour and sincerity. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell, and teach the young ones to love me.
I unfortunately was so much indisposed during a considerable part of the year, that it was not, or at least I thought it was not, in my power to write to my
illustrious friend as formerly, or without expressing such complaints as offended him. Having conjured him not to do me the injustice of charging me with affectation, I was with much regret long silent. His last letter to me then came, and affected me very tenderly:
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ I HAVE this summer sometimes amended, and sometimes relapsed, but, upon the whole, have lost ground very much. My legs are extremely weak, and my breath very short, and the water is now en- . creasing upon me. In this uncomfortable state your letters used to relieve; what is the reason that I have them no longer ? Are you sick, or are you sullen? Whatever be the reason, if it be less than
1784. necessity, drive it away ; and of the short life that
we have, make the best use for yourself and for your Ætat. 75,
'friends. ******. I am sometimes afraid that your omission to write has some real cause, and shall be glad to know that you are not sick, and that nothing ill has befallen dear Mrs. Boswell, or any of your family.
“ I am, Sir, your, &c. « Lichfield, Nov. 5, 1781.
" SAM. JOHNSON."
Yet it was not a little painful to me to find, that in a paragraph of this letter, which I have omitted, he still persevered in arraigning me as before, which was strange in him who had so much experience of what I suffered. I, however, wrote to him two as kind letters as I could ; the last of which came too late to be read by him, for his illness encreased more rapidly upon him than I had apprehended ; but I had the consolation of being informed that he spoke of me on his death-bed, with affection, and I look forward with humble hope of renewing our friendship in a better world.
I now relieve the readers of this work from any farther personal notice of its authour ; who, if he should be thought to have obtruded himself too much upon ther attention, request them to consider the peculiar plan of his biographical undertaking.
Soon after Johnson's return to the metropolis, both the asthma and dropsy became more violent and distressful. He had for some time kept a journal in Latin of the state of his illness, and the remedies which he used, under the title of Agri Ephemeris, which he began on the 6th of July, but continued it no longer than the sth of November ; 1784. finding, I suppose, that it was a mournful and un- Ætat. 75. availing register. It is in my possession; and is written with great care and accuracy.
Still his love of literature did not fail. A very
• It is truly wonderful to consider the extent and constancy of Johnson's literary ardour, notwithstanding the melancholy which clouded and embittered his existence. Besides the numerous and various works which he executed, he had, at different times, formed schemes of a great many more, of which the following catalogue was given by him to Mr. Langton, and by that gentleman presented to his Majesty :
« DIVINITY. “ A small book of precepts and directions for piety : the hint taken from the directions in Morton's exercise.
“PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, and LITERATURE in general.
History of Criticism, as it relates to judging of authours, from Aristotle to the present age. An account of the rise and improvements of that art; of the different opinions of authours, ancient and modern.
“ Translation of the History of Herodian.
“ New edition of Fairfax's Translation of Tasso, with notes, glossary, &c.
“ Chaucer, a new edition of him, from manuscripts and old editions, with various readings, conjectures, remarks on his language, and the changes it had undergone from the earliest times to his age, and from his to the present; with notes explanatory of customs, &c. and references to Boccace, and other authours from whom he has borrowed, with an account of the liberties he has taken in telling the stories; his life, and an exact etymological glossary.
“ Aristotle's Rhetorick, a translation of it into English.
“ A collection of Letters, translated from the modern writers, with some account of the several authours.
« Oldham's Poems, with notes, historical and critical. “ Roscommon's Poems, with notes.
“ Lives of the Philosophers, written with a polite air, in such a manner as may divert as well as instrnct.
“ History of the Heathen Mythology, with an explication of