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“Our club ended its session about six weeks ago. We now only meet to dine once a fortnight. Mr. Dunning, the great lawyer, is one of our members. The Thrales are well.
“I long to know how the negro's cause will be decided. What is the opinion of lord Auchinleck, or lord Hailes, or lord Monboddo? I am, dear sir,
" Your most affectionate, etc.
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “July 22, 1777.”
DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. BOSWELL.
MADAM,—Though I am well enough pleased with the taste of sweetmeats, very little of the pleasure which I received at the arrival of your jar of marmalade arose from eating it. I received it as a token of friendship, as a proof of reconciliation, things much sweeter than sweetmeats; and upon this consideration I return you, dear madam, my sincerest thanks. By having your kindness I think I have a double security for the continuance of Mr. Boswell's, which it is not to be expected that any man can long keep, when the influence of a lady so highly and so justly valued operates against him. Mr. Boswell will tell you that I was always faithful to your interest, and always endeavoured to exalt you in his estimation. You must now do the same for me. We must all help one another, and ou must now consider me as, dear madam,
“ Your most obliged
" Sam. JOHNSON.
July 22, 1777."
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
Edinburgh, July 28, 1777. MY DEAR SIR,—This is the day on which you were to leave London; and I have been amusing myself, in the intervals of my law drudgery, with figuring you in the Oxford post-coach. I doubt, however, if you have had so merry a journey as you and I had in that vehicle last
year, when you made so much sport with Gwyn the architect. Incidents upon a journey are recollected with peculiar pleasure; they are preserved in brisk spirits, and come up again in our minds tinctured with that gaiety, or at least that animation, with which we first perceived them.”
[I added, that something had occurred which I was afraid might prevent me from meeting him; and that my wife had been affected with complaints which threatened a consumption, but was now better.]
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“DEAR SIR,-Do not disturb yourself about our interviews; I hope we shall have many: nor think it any thing hard or unusual, that your design of meeting me is interrupted. We have both endured greater evils, and have greater evils to expect.
“ Mrs. Boswell's illness makes a more serious distress. Does the blood rise from her lungs or from her stomach? From little vessels broken in the stomach there is no danger. Blood from the lungs is, I believe, always frothy, as mixed with wind. Your physicians know very well what is to be done. The loss of such a lady would, indeed, be very afflictive; and I hope she is in no danger. Take care to keep her mind as easy as possible.
“I have left Langton in London. He has been down with the militia, and is again quiet at home, talking to his little people, as I suppose you do sometimes. Make my compliments to Miss Veronica*. The rest are too young for ceremony.
“I cannot but hope that you have taken your country
This young lady, the author's eldest daughter, and at this time about five years old, died in London of a consumption, four months after her father, Sept. 26th, 1795.-MALONE,
house at a very seasonable time, and that it may conduce to restore or establish Mrs. Boswell's health, as well as provide room and exercise for the young ones. That you and your lady may both be happy, and long enjoy your happiness, is the sincere and earnest wish of, dear sir,
* Your most, etc.
“ SAM, JOHNSON. “Oxford, Aug. 4, 1777."
MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
[Informing him that my wife had continued to grow better, so that my alarming apprehensions were relieved ; and that I hoped to disengage myself from the other embarrassment which had occurred, and therefore requesting to know particularly when he intended to be at Ashbourne.]
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,—I am this day come to Ashbourne, and have only to tell you, that Dr. Taylor says you shall be welcome to him; and you know how welcome you will be to me. Make haste to let me know when you may be expected.
“ Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and tell her, I hope we shall be at variance no more.
“ I am, dear sir,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ Aug. 30, 1777.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,-On Saturday I wrote a very short letter, immediately upon my arrival hither, to show you that I am' not less desirous of the interview than yourself. Life admits not of delays; when pleasure can be had, it is fit to catch it: every hour takes away part of the things that please us, and perhaps part of our disposition to be pleased. When I came to Lichfield, I found my old friend Harry Jackson dead! It was a loss, and a loss not to be repaired, as he was one of the companions of my childhood. I hope we may long continue to gain friends; but the friends which merit or usefulness can procure us, are not able to supply the place of old acquaintance, with whom the days of youth may be retraced, and those images revived which gave the earliest delight. If you and I live to be much older, we shall take great delight in talking over the Hebridean journey.
“ In the mean time it may not be amiss to contrive some other little adventure, but what it can be I know not; leave it, as Sidney says,
To virtue, fortunę, time, and woman's breast m; for I believe Mrs. Boswell must have some part in the consultation.
| See vol. ii. p. 404.
By an odd mistake, in the first three editions we find a reading in this line to which Dr. Johnson would by no means have subscribed; wine having been substituted for time. That errour probably was a mistake in the transcript of Johnson's original letter, his handwriting being often very difficult to read. The other deviation in the beginning of the line (virtue, instead of nature,) must be attributed to his memory having deceived him; and therefore has not been disturbed.
The verse quoted is the concluding line of a sonnet of Sidney's, of which the earliest copy, I believe, is found in Harrington's translation of Ariosto, 1591, in the notes on the eleventh book :- :-" And therefore,” says he, “ that excellent verse of sir Philip Sydney in his first Arcadia, (which I know not by what mishap is left out in the printed booke,) [4to. 1590,] is in mine opinion worthie to be praised and followed, to make a true and virtuous wife :
Who doth desire that chast his wife should bee,
First be he true, for truth doth truth deserve ;
And, alwaies one, credit with her preserve :
Not stirring thoughts, nor yet denying right,
Never hard hand, nor ever rayns (reins) too light;
Th’one doth enforce, the other doth entice :
“One thing you will like. The doctor, so far as I can judge, is likely to leave us enough to ourselves. He was out to-day before I came down, and, I fancy, will stay out till dinner. I have brought the papers about poor Dodd, to show you, but you will soon have despatched them.
“ Before I came away I sent poor Mrs. Williams into the country, very ill of a pituitous defluxion, which wastes her gradually away, and which her physician declares himself unable to stop. I supplied her, as far as could be desired, with all conveniencies to make her excursion and abode pleasant and useful. But I am afraid she can only linger a short time in a morbid state of weakness and pain.
“ The Thrales, little and great, are all well, and purpose to go to Brighthelmstone at Michaelmas. They will invite me to go with them, and perhaps I may go, but I hardly think I shall like to stay the whole time; but of futurity we know but little.
Mrs. Porter is well; but Mrs. Aston, one of the ladies at Stowhill, has been struck with a palsy, from which she is not likely ever to recover.
How soon may such a stroke fall upon us !
“ Write to me, and let us know when we may expect you. I am, dear sir,
Your most humble servant, ** Ashbourne, Sept. 1, 1777.
All filthie mouths that glorie in their vice:
To nature, fortune, time, and woman's breast. I take this opportunity to add, that in England's Parnassus, a collection of poetry printed in 1600, the second couplet of this sonnet is thus corruptly exhibited :
Then he be such as he his words may see,
And alwaies one credit which her preserve: a variation which I the rather mention, because the readings of that book have been triumphantly quoted when they happened to coincide with the sophistications of the second folio edition of Shakespeare's plays in 1632, as adding I know not what degree of authority and authenticity to the latter : as if the corruptions of one book (and that abounding with the grossest falsifications of the authors from whose works its extracts are made) could give any kind of support to another, which in every page is still more adulterated and unfaithful. See Mr. Steevens's Shakespeare, vol. xx. p. 97, 5th edit. 1803.-Malone.