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much as you can.
To live at variance at all is uncomfortable; and variance with a father is still more uncomfortable. Besides that, in the whole dispute you have the wrong side; at least you gave the first provocations, and some of them very offensive. Let it now be all over.
As you have no reason to think that your new mother has shown you any foul play, treat her with respect, and with some degree of confidence; this will secure your father. When once a discordant family has felt the pleasure of peace they will not willingly lose it. If Mrs. Boswell would but be friends with me, we might now shut the temple of Janus.
“ What came of Dr. Memis's cause? Is the question about the negro determined ? Has Sir Allan any reasonable hopes ? What is become of poor Macquarry ? Let me know the event of all these litigations. I wish particularly well to the negro and Sir Allan.
“ Mrs. Williams has been much out of order; and though she is something better, is likely, in her physician's opinion, to endure her malady for life, though she may, perhaps, die of some other. Mrs. Thrale is big, and fancies that she carries a boy ; if it were very reasonable to wish much about it, I should wish her not to be disappointed. The desire of male heirs is not appendant only to feudal tenures. A son is almost necessary to the continuance of Thrale's fortune ; for what can misses do with a brewhouse ? Lands are fitter for daughters than trades.
“ Baretti went away from Thrale's in some whimsical fit of disgust, or ill-nature, without taking any leave. It is well if he finds in any other place as good an habitation, and as many conveniences. He has got five-and-twenty guineas by translating Sir Joshua's Discourses into Italian, and Mr. Thrale gave him an hundred in the spring; so that he is yet in no difficulties.
“ Colman has bought Foote's patent, and is to allow Foote for life sixteen hundred pounds a year, as Reynolds told me, and to allow him to play so often on such terms that he may gain four hundred pounds
What Colman can get by this bargain, but trouble and hazard, I do not see.
“I am, dear Sir,
“ Your humble servant, “ Dec. 21, 1776.
“ SAM. JOHNSON." The Reverend Dr. Hugh Blair, who had long been admired as a preacher at Edinburgh, thought now of diffusing his excellent sermons more extensively, and increasing his reputation, by publishing a collection of them. He transmitted the manuscript to Mr Strahan, the printer, who, after keeping it for some time, wrote a letter to him, discouraging the publication. Such at first was the unpropitious state of one of the most successful theological books that has ever appeared. Mr. Strahan, however, had sent one of the sermons to Dr. Johnson for his opinion; and after his unfavourable letter to Dr. Blair had been sent off, he received from Johnson on Christmas-eve, a note in which was the following paragraph:
66 I have read over Dr. Blair's first sermon with more than approbation ; to say it is good, is to say too little.”
I believe Mr. Strahan had very soon after this time a conversation with Dr. Johnson concerning them; and then he very candidly wrote again to Dr. Blair, enclosing Johnson's note, and agreeing to purchase the volume, for which he and Mr. Cadell gave one hun
* [It turned out, however, a very fortunate bargain; for Foote, though not then fifty-six, died at an inn in Dover, in less than a year, Oct. 21, 1777. MALONE.]
dred pounds. The sale was so rapid and extensive, and the approbation of the public so high, that to their honour be it recorded, the proprietors made Dr. Blair a present first of one sum, and afterwards.of another, of fifty pounds, thus voluntarily doubling the stipulated price; and, when he prepared another volume, they gave him at once three hundred pounds, being in all five hundred pounds, by an agreement to which I am a subscribing witness ; and now for a third octavo volume he has received no less than six hundred pounds.
In 1777, it appears from his “Prayers and Meditations," that Johnson suffered much from a state of mind “ unsettled and perplexed," and from that constitutional gloom, which, together with his extreme humility and anxiety with regard to his religious state, made him contemplate himself through too dark and unfavourable a medium. It may be said of him, that he “ saw GOD in clouds.” Certain we may be of his injustice to himself in the following lamentable paragraph, which it is painful to think came from the contrite heart of this great man, to whose labours the world is so much indebted : “ When I survey my past life, I discover nothing but a barren waste of time, with some disorders of body, and disturbances of the mind, very near to madness, which I hope He that made me will suffer to extenuate many faults, and excuse many deficiencies.") But we find his devotions in this year eminently fervent; and we are comforted by observing intervals of quiet, composure, and gladness.
On Easter-day we find the following emphatick
6 [A fourth volume was purchased on the same liberal terms, and a fifth was published after his death, in 1801, with " A short account of his Life,” by the Rev. Dr. Finlayson. A larger life appeared in 1807, by Dr. Hill, A. C.]
7 Prayers and Meditations, p. 155.
prayer: “ Almighty and most merciful Father, who seest all our miseries, and knowest all our necessities, look down upon me and pity mę. Defend me from the violent incursion of evil thoughts, and enable me to form and keep such resolutions as may conduce to the discharge of the duties which thy providence shall appoint me; and so help me, by thy Holy spirit, that my heart may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found, and that I may serve thee with pure affection and a cheerful mind. Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me; years and infirmities oppress me; terrour and anxiety beset me. Have mercy upon me, my Creator and my Judge. In all perplexities relieve and free me; and so help me by thy Holy Spirit, that I may now so commemorate the death of thy Son our Saviour JESUS CHRIST, as that when this short and painful life shall have an end, I may, for his sake, be received to everlasting happiness.
While he was at church, the agreeable impressions upon his mind are thus commemorated : “ I was for some time distressed, but at last obtained, I hope, from the God of Peace, more quiet than I have enjoyed for. a long time. I had made no resolution, but as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased ; and I wrote with my pencil, in my Common Prayer Book,
66 Vita ordinanda.
Mr. Steevens, whose generosity is well known, joined Dr. Johnson in kind assistance to a female rela.
8 Prayers and Meditations, p. 158.
tion of Dr. Goldsmith, and desired that on her return to Ireland she would procure authentick particulars of the life of her celebrated relation. Concerning her is the following letter :
TO GEORGE STEEVENS, ESQ.
“ You will be glad to hear that from Mrs. Goldsmith, whom we lamented as drowned, I have received a letter full of gratitude to us all, with promise to make the enquiries which we recommended to her.
“ I would have had the honour of conveying this intelligence to Miss Caulfield, but that her letter is not at hand, and I know not the direction. You will tell the good news. I am, Sir,
“ Your most, &c. " February 25, 1777.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
66 MY DEAR SIR,
“Edinburgh, February 14, 1777 “ My state of epistolary accounts with you at present is extraordinary. The balance, as to number, is on your side. I am indebted to you for two letters; one dated the 16th of November, upon which very day I wrote to you, so that our letters were exactly exchanged; and one dated the 21st of December last.
“ My heart was warmed with gratitude by the truly kind contents of both of them; and it is amazing and vexing that I have allowed so much time to elapse without writing to you. But delay is inherent in me, by nature or by bad habit. I waited till I should have an opportunity of paying you my compliments on a new year. I have procrastinated till the year is no longer new.