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Ætat. 63. LICHFIELD AND ASHBOURNE.
had the honour to receive from him, will to me be a perpetual source of pleasure in the recollection, — * Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos reget artus.'
I had still some thoughts, while the summer lasted of being obliged to go to London on some little business ; otherwise I should certainly have troubled him with a letter several months ago, and given some vent to my gratitude and admiration. This I intend to do as soon as I am left a little at leisure. Mean time, if you have occasion to write to him, I beg you will offer him my most respectful compliments, and assure him of the sincerity of my attachment and the warmth of my gratitude. I am, &c.
“ JAMES BOSWELL.” (1).
(1) In the autumn of this year Johnson visited Lichfield and Ashbourne, where, it appears from his letters to Mrs. Thrale, that he was considerably indisposed :
“Lichfield, Oct. 19. 1772. — I set out on Thursday night, at nine, and arrived at Lichfield on Friday night, at eleven, no otherwise incommoded than with want of sleep, which, however, I enjoyed very comfortably the first night. I think a stage coach is not the worst bed.
“ Ashbourne, Nov. 4. 1772. — Since I came to Ashbourne I have been out of order. I was well at Lichfield. You know sickness will drive me to you; so, perhaps, you very heartily wish me better : but you know likewise that health will not hold me away.
“ Ashbourne, Nov. 23. 1772. — I cannot yet get well; my nights are flatulent and unquiet; but my days are tolerably easy, and Taylor says that I look much better than when I came hither. You will see when I come; and I can take your word.
“ Ashbourne, Nov. 27. 1772. — If you are so kind as to write to me on Saturday, the day on which you will receive this, I shall have it before I leave Ashbourne. I am to go to Lichfield on Wednesday, and purpose to find my way to London through Birmingham and Oxford. I was yesterday at Chatsworth. It is a very fine house. I wish you had been with me to see it; for then, as we are apt to want matter of talk, we should have gained something new to talk on. They complimented me with playing the fountain, and opening the cascade. But I am of my friend's opinion, that, when one has seen the ocean, cascades are but little things.”—C.
George Steevens. — Letters to Mrs. Thrale, 8c. —
Goldsmith and Evans the Bookseller. — Dalrymple's History. — Action in Speaking. — Chesterfield and Tyrawley. — The Spectator. — Sir Andrew Freeport. - Burnet's Own Times. — Good Friday. — Easter Day. – A Dinner at Johnson's. — Wages to Women Servants.—Keepinga Journal.-Luxury.-Equality. - The Stuarts. — Law Reports. “ The Gentle Shepherd.”— Whigs and Tories. — Sterne. — Charles Townshend. “ Happy Revolution.”—“She Stoops to Conquer.”— Short-Hand. - Dedications. - James Harris. — Playing on the Fiddle. - Duelling. — Lord Chatham's Verses to Garrick. — Savage Life. — Suicide. --- Eustace Budgell. — The Douglas Cause.
In 1773, his only publication was an edition of his folio Dictionary, with additions and corrections; nor did he, so far as is known, furnish any productions of his fertile pen to any of his numerous friends or dependants, except the Preface * to his old amanuensis Macbean's “ Dictionary of Ancient Geography.” (1) His Shakspeare, indeed, which had been
(1) He, however, wrote, or partly wrote, an Epitaph on Mrs. Bell, wife of his friend John Bell, Esq., brother of the Rev. Dr. Bell, Prebendary of Westminster, which is printed in his works. It is in English prose, and has so little of his manner, that I did not believe he had any hand in it, till I was satisfied of the fact by the authority of Mr. Bell. (See antè, p. 165.]
received with high approbation by the public, and gone through several editions, was this year republished by George Steevens, Esq., a gentleman not only deeply skilled in ancient learning, and of very extensive reading in English literature, especially the early writers, but at the same time of acute discernment and elegant taste. It is almost unnecessary to say, that by his great and valuable additions to Dr. Johnson's work, he justly obtained considerable reputation :
“ Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæsar habet.”
LETTER 146. TO MRS. THRALE.
6 Tuesday, Jan. 26. 1773. “ Last night was very tedious, and this day makes no promises of much ease. However, I have this day put on my shoe, and hope that gout is gone. I shall have only the cough to contend with ; and I doubt whether I shall get rid of that without change of place, I caught cold in the coach as I went away, and am disordered by very little things. Is it accident or age ?"
“ Feb. 19. 1773. “I think I am better, but cannot say much more than that I think so. I was yesterday with Miss Lucy Southwell and Mrs. Williams, at Mr. Southwell's. (1) Miss Frances Southwell is not well. I have an invita ation to dine at Sir Joshua Reynolds's on Tuesday. May I accept it?”
(1) Dr. Johnson's early friend, Mr. Edmond Southwell, third son of the first Lord Southwell, born in 1705, had died in the preceding November, aged 67: the Mr. Southwell here mentioned was, probably, Thomas Arthur, afterwards the fourth Lord and second Viscount. (See antè, Vol. II. p. 130.) The two ladies mentioned were, probably, daughters of the first lord: Frances, born in 1708, and Lucy, born in 1710.-C.
LETTER 147. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, Feb. 22. 1773. “ DEAR SIR, - I have read your kind letter much more than the elegant Pindar which it accompanied. I am always glad to find myself not forgotten ; and to be forgotten by you would give me great uneasiness. My northern friends have never been unkind to me: I have from you, dear Sir, testimonies of affection, which I have not often been able to excite ; and Dr. Beattie rates the testimony which I was desirous of paying to his merit, much higher than I should have thought it reasonable to expect.
“ I have heard of your masquerade.() What says your synod to such innovations ? I am not studiously scrupulous, nor do I think a masquerade either evil in itself, or very likely to be the occasion of evil ; yet, as the world thinks it a very licentious relaxation of manners, I would not have been one of the first masquers in a country where no masquerade had ever been before.(2)
“A new edition of my great Dictionary is printed, from a copy which I was persuaded to revise ; but, having made no preparation, I was able to do very little. Some superfluities I have expunged, and some faults I have corrected, and here and there have scattered a remark; but the main fabric of the work remains as it was. I had looked very little into it since I wrote it; and, I think, I found it full as often better, as worse, than I expected.
(1) Given by a lady at Edinburgh. — B.
(2) There had been masquerades in Scotland; but not for a very long time. - B.- This masquerade was given on the 15th of January, by the Countess Dowager of Fife. Johnson had no doubt seen an account of it in the Gentleman's Magazine for January, where it is said to have been the first masquerade ever seen in Scotland. Mr. Boswell himself appeared in the character of a Dumb Conjurer. - C.
Ætat. 64. “SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.”
“ Baretti and Davies have had a furious quarrel; a quarrel, I think, irreconcileable. Dr. Goldsmith has a new comedy, which is expected in the spring. No name is yet given it. The chief diversion arises from a stratagem by which a lover is made to mistake his future father-in-law's house for an inn. This, you see, borders upon farce. The dialogue is quick and gay, and the incidents are so prepared as not to seem improbable. (1)
- I am sorry that you lost your cause of Intromission, because I yet think the arguments on your side unanswerable. But you seem, I think, to say that you gained reputation even by your defeat ; and reputation you will daily gain, if you keep Lord Auchinleck's precept in your mind, and endeavour to consolidate in your mind a firm and regular system of law, nstead of picking up occasional fragments.
“My health seems in general to improve ; but I have been troubled for many weeks with a vexatious catarrh, which is sometimes sufficiently distressful. I have not found any great effects from bleeding and physic; and am afraid, that I must expect help from brighter days and softer air.
- Write to me now and then ; and whenever any good befalls you, make haste to let me know it ; for no one will rejoice at it more than, dear Sir, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON.” “ You continue to stand very high in the favour of Mrs. Thrale.”
While a former edition of my work was passing through the press, I was unexpectedly favoured
(1) [“ She Stoops to Conquer, or the Mistakes of a Night," was performed, for the first time, at Covent Garden, on the 15th of March.]