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Death OF BOSWELL'S FATHER—Johnson's Advice-His CORRESPONDENCE WITH BoSWELL AND HIS LADY - POVERTY AN ENEMY TO HUMAN HAPPINESS — Mrs TARALE's CoolNESS TO JOHNSON-HIS PARTING PRAYER ON LEAVING STREATHAM -MR. METCALFE-VISIT TO COW DRAY-John NICHOLS – WILSON'S “ARCHÆ010GICAL DICTIONARY"—DR. PATTEN-BOSWELL'S ARRIVAL IN LONDON — The Royal FAMILY-CONVERSATION-LIES OF VANITY-Johnson's ANTIPATHY TO The Scotch -GENERAL OGLETHORPE-OPICM-NEGLECT OF MERIT-USE OF RICHES-GOLDSMITH AND LORD SHELBURNE—Crabbe's “VILLAGE."
N the 30th of August I informed him that my honoured father had
having suddenly come to a crisis, while I was upon a visit at the seat of Sir Charles Preston, from whence I had hastened the day before, upon receiving a letter by express.
“TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
London, Sept. 7, 1782. "I have struggled through this year with so much infirmity of body, and such strong impressions of the fragility of life, that death, whenever it appears, fills me with melancholy; and I cannot hear without emotion of the removal of any one, whom I have known, into another state.
“Your father's death had every circumstance that could enable you to bear it; it was at a mature age, and it was expected; and as his general life had been pious, his thoughts had doubtless for many years past been turned upon eternity. That you did not find him sensible must doubtless grieve you ; his disposition towards you was undoubtedly that of a kind, though not of a fond. father. Kindness, at least actual, is in our power, but fondness is not; and if by negligence or imprudence you had extinguished his fondness, he could not at will rekindle it. Nothing then remained between you but mutual forgiveness of each other's faults, and mutual desire of each other's happiness.
“I shall long to know his final disposition of his fortune.
"You, dear Sir, have now a new station, and have therefore new cares and new employments. Life, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a wellordered poem; of which one rule generally received is, that the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new course of life with the least show, and the least expense possible ; you may at pleasure increase both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do not think your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay; therefore begin with timorous parsimony. Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.
“When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct, and maxims of prudence, which one generation of men has transmitted to another ; but upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced, and how much good is impeded by embarrassment and distress, and how little room the expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue, it grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interest of this.
"Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and factors ; do not disgust them by asperity, or unwelcome gaiety, or apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of your lands.
"Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell; I think her expectations from air and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long and happily.
“I forgot whether I told you that Rasay has been here; we dined cheerfully together. I entertained lately a young gentleman from Corrichatachin. "I received your letters only this morning.
“I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." In answer to my next letter, I received one from him, dissuading me from hastening to him as I had proposed; what is proper for publication is the following paragraph, equally just and tender :
“One expense, however, I would not have you spare ; let nothing be omitted that can preserve Mrs. Boswell, though it should be necessary to transplant her for a time into a softer climate. She is the prop and stay of your life. How much must your children suffer by losing her."
My wife was now so much convinced of his sincere friendship for me, and regard for her, that, without any suggestion on my part, she wrote him a very polite and grateful letter.
"DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. BOSWELL. “DEAR LADY,
London, Sep. 7, 1782 "I have not often received so much pleasure as from your invitation to Auchinleck. The journey thither and back is, indeed, too great for the latter part of the year ; but if my health were fully recovered, I would suffer no little
heat and cold, nor a wet or a rough road to keep me from you. I am, indeed, not without hope of seeing Auchinleek again; but to make it a pleasant place I must see its lady well, and brisk, and airy. For my sake, therefore, among many greater reasons, take care, dear Madam, of your health, spare no expense, and want no attendance that can procure ease, or preserve it. Be very careful to keep your mind quiet; and do not think it too much to give an account of your recovery to, Madam, yours, &c.,
"SAM. JOHNSON.” “ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “DEAR SIR,
London, Dec. 7, 1782. · Having passed almost this whole year in a succession of disorders, I went in October to Brighthelmstone, whither I came in a state of so much weakness, that I rested four times in walking between the inn and the lodging. By physic and abstinence I grew better, and am now reasonably easy, though at a great distance from health. I am afraid, however, that health begins, after seventy, and long before, to have a meaning different from that which it had at thirty. But it is culpable to murmur at the established order of the creation, as it is vain to oppose it; he that lives, must grow old; and he that would rather grow old than die, has God to thank for the infirmities of old age.
“At your long silence I am rather angry. You do not, since now you are the head of your house, think it worth your while to try whether you or your friend can live longer without writing, nor suspect that, after so many years o. friendship, when I do not write to you, I forget you. Put all such useless jealousies out of your head, and disdain to regulate your own practice by the practice of another, or by any other principle than the desire of doing right.
"Your economy, I suppose, begins now to be settled; your expenses are adjusted to your revenue, and all your people in their proper places. Resolve not to be poor : whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.
“Let me know the history of your life since your accession to your estate ;how many houses, how many cows, how much land in your own hand, and what bargains you make with your tenants.
“Of my Lives of the Poets,' they have printed a new edition in octavo, I hear, of three thousand. Did I give a set to Lord Hailes? If I did not, I will do it out of these. What did you make of all your copy?
"Mrs. Thrale and the three Misses are now, for the winter, in Argyle-street. Sir Joshua Reynolds has been out of order, but is well again ; and I am, dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,
“TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “ DEAR SIR,
Edinburgh, Dec. 20, 1782. “I was made happy by your kind letter, which gave us the agreeable hopes of seeing you in Scotland again.
“I am much flattered by the concern you are pleased to take in my recovery. I am better, and hope to have it in my power to convince you by my attention, of how much consequence I esteem your health to the world and to myself
‘MARGARET BOSWELL." The death of Mr. Thrale had made a very material alteration with respect to Johnson's reception in that family. The manly authority of the husband no longer curbed the lively exuberance of the lady ; and as her vanity had been fully gratified, by having the Colossus of Literature attached to her for many years, she gradually became less assiduous to please him. Whether her attachment to him was already divided by another object, I am unable to ascertain ; but it is plain that Johnson's penetration was alive to her neglect or forced attention; for on the 6th of October this year we find him making a parting use of the library” at Streatham, and pronouncing a prayer, which he composed on leaving Mr. Thrale's family."
Almighty God, Father of all mercy, help me by thy grace, that I may, with humble and sincere thankfulness, remember the comforts and conveniences which I have enjoyed at this place; and that I may resign them with holy submission, equally trusting in thy protection when Thou givest, and when Thou takest away. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, have mercy upon me.
"To thy fatherly protection, O Lord, I commend this family. Bless, guide, and defend them, that they may so pass through this world, as finally to enjoy in thy presence everlasting happiness, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.”
One cannot read this prayer, without some emotions not very favourable to the lady whose conduct occasioned it.
In one of his memorandum-books I find, " Sunday, went to church at Streatham. Templo valedixi cum osculo.
He met Mr. Philip Metcalfe often at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, and other places, and was a good deal with him at Brighthelmstone this autumn, being pleased at once with his excellent table and animated conversation. Mr. Metcalfe showed him great respect, and sent him a note that he might have the use of his carriage whenever he pleased. Johnson (3rd October, 1782) returned this polite answer :-“Mr. John son is very much obliged by the kind offer of the carriage, but he has no desire of using Mr. Metcalfe's carriage, except when he can have the pleasure of Mr. Metcalfe's company. Mr. Metcalfe could not but be highly pleased that his company was thus valued by Johnson, and he frequently attended him in airings. They also went together to Chichester, and they visited Petworth, and Cowdray, the venerable seat of the Lords Montacute. “Sir,” said Johnson, “I should like to stay here four-and-twenty hours. We see here how our ancestors lived."
I“ Prayers and Meditations," p. 214.
That his curiosity was still unabated, appears from two letters to Mr. John Nichols, of the 10th and 20th of October this year. In one he says, “I have looked into your Anecdotes,' and you will hardly thank' a lover of literary history for telling you, that he has been much informed and gratified. I wish you would add your own discoveries and intelligence to those of Dr. Rawlinson, and undertake the Supplement to Wood. Think of it.” In the other, “I wish, Sir, you could obtain some fuller information of Jortin, Markland, and Thirlby. They were three contemporaries of great eminence."
“TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. “DEAR SIR,
Brighthelmstone, Nov. 14, 1782. “I heard yesterday of your late disorder, and should think ill of myself if I had heard of it without alarm. I heard likewise of your recovery, which I sincerely wish to be complete and permanent. Your country has been in danger of losing one of its brightest ornaments, and I of losing one of my oldest and kindest friends ; but I hope you will still live long, for the honour of the nation : and that more enjoyment of your elegance, your intelligence, and your benevolence is still reserved for, dear Sir, your most affectionate, &c.,
“ SAM. JOHNSON." The Reverend Mr. Wilson, having dedicated to him his “ Archaological Dictionary,” that mark of respect was thus acknowledged :
“TO THE REVEREND MR. WILSON, CLITHEROE, LANCASHIRE.
December 31, 1782. "That I have long omitted to return you thanks for the honour conferred upon me by your dedication, I entreat you with great earnestness not to consider as more faulty than it is. A very importunate and oppressive disorder has for some time debarred me from the pleasures, and obstructed me in the duties, of life. The esteem and kindness of wise and good men is one of the last pleasures which I can be content to lose ; and gratitude to those from whom this pleasure is received, is a duty of which I hope never to be reproached with the final neglect. I therefore now return you thanks for the notice which I have received from you, and which I consider as giving to my name not only more bulk, but more weight; not only as extending its superficies, but as increasing its value. Your book was evidently wanted, and will, I hope, find its way into the school ; to which, however, I do not mean to confine it; for no man has so much skill in ancient rites and practices as not to want it. As I suppose myself to owe part of your kindness to my excellent friend, Dr. Patten, he has likewise a just claim to my acknowledgment, which I hope you, Sir, will transmit. There will soon appear a new edition of my Poetical Biography; if you will accept of a copy to keep me in your mind, be pleased to let me know how it may be conveniently conveyed to you. This present is small, but it is given with good will hy, Reverend Sir, your most, &c.,
SAM. JOHNSON." In 1783, he was more severely afflicted than ever, as will appear in the course of his correspondence ; but still the same ardour for literature,