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I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to any thing that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.
“ If dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy.
He has in his disposal two livings, each equal, or almost equal, in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.
“ How near is the cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an bundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well.
“ Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.
“Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there; and his health is said to be visibly improved : he has not bathed, but hunted.
“At Bolt-court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostilityk. I have had a cold, but it is “ Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, etc.
“ I am, sir,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ London, Nov. 13, 1779.”.
On November 22nd, and December 21st, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover :—that after a good deal of enquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his dictionary:—that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's which he had retained; and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence that I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter to lord Chesterfield ; and that this memento, like “ Delenda est Carthago," must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object.
* See page 327.
In 1780 the world was kept in impatience for the completion of his Lives of the Poets, upon which he was employed so far as his indolence allowed him to labour.
I wrote to him on January 1st, and March 13th, sending him my
notes of lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope;-complaining that I had not heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my debt; ---that I had suffered again from melancholy ;-hoping that he had been in so much better company, (the poets,) that he had not time to think of his distant friends; for if that were the case, I should have some recompense
my uneasiness ;—that the state of my affairs did not admit of my coming to London this year; and begging he would return me Goldsmith's two poems, with his lines marked.
His friend Dr. Lawrence having now suffered the greatest affliction to which a man is liable, and which Johnson himself had felt in the most severe manner; Johnson wrote to him in an admirable strain of sympathy and pious consolation.
TO DR. LAWRENCE.
“ Dear Sir,-At a time when all your friends ought to show their kindness, and with a character which ought to make all that know you your friends, you may wonder that you have yet heard nothing from me.
“ I have been hindered by a vexatious and incessant cough, for which within these ten days I have been bled once, fasted four or five times, taken physick five times, and opiates, I think, six. This day it seems to remit.
“ The loss, dear sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.
“ Our first recourse in this distressed solitude, is, perhaps for want of habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal beings, one must lose the other; but surely there is a higher and better comfort to be drawn from the consideration of that Providence which watches over all, and a belief that the living and the dead are equally in the hands of God, who will reunite those whom he has separated, or who sees that it is best not to reunite.
" I am, dear sir,
Your most affectionate
“ Sam. JOHNSON. · January 20, 1780.”
TO) JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,- Well, I had resolved to send you the Chesterfield letter; but I will write once again without it. Never impose tasks upon mortals. To require two things is the way to have them both undone.
For the difficulties which you mention in your affairs I am sorry; but difficulty is now very general: it is not therefore less grievous, for there is less hope of help. I pretend not to give you advice, not knowing the state of
your affairs; and general counsels about prudence and frugality would do you little good. You are, however, in the right not to increase your own perplexity by a journey hither; and I hope that by staying at home you will please
“ Poor dear Beauclerk _ nec, ut soles, dabis joca.' His wit and his folly, his acuteness and maliciousnes, his merriment and reasoning, are now over. Such another will not often be found among mankind. He directed himself to be buried by the side of his mother, an instance of tenderness which I hardly expected. He has left his children to the care of lady Di, and if she dies, of Mr. Langton, and of Mr. Leicester, his relation, and a man of good character. His library has been offered to sale to the Russian ambassadour.
“ Dr. Percy, notwithstanding all the noise of the newspapers, has had no literary lossm Clothes and moveables were burnt to the value of about one hundred pounds; but his papers, and I think bis books, were all preserved.
“ Poor Mr. Thrale has been in extreme danger from an apoplectical disorder, and recovered, beyond the expectation of his physicians: he is now at Bath, that his mind may be quiet, and Mrs. Thrale and miss are with him.
“ Having told you what has happened to your friends, let me say something to you of yourself. You are always complaining of melancholy, and I conclude from those complaints that you are fond of it. No man talks of that which he is desirous to conceal, and every man desires to conceal that of which he is ashamed. Do not pretend to deny it: 'manifestum habemus furem.' Make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself, never to mention your own mental diseases: if you are never to speak of them, you will think on them but little ; and if you think little of them, they will molest you rarely. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity: for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good ; therefore, from this hour speak no more, think no more about them.
| The hon. Topham Beauclerk died March 11, 1780. His library was sold by publick auction in April and May, 1781, for five thousand and eleven pounds. -Malone.
m By a fire in Northumberland-house, where he had an apartment in which I have passed many an agreeable hour.---Boswell.
“ Your transaction with Mrs. Stewart gave me great satisfaction; I am much obliged to you for your attention. Do not lose sight of her; your countenance may be of great credit, and, of consequence, of great advantage to ber. The memory of her brother is yet fresh in my mind : be was an ingenious and worthy man.
“Please to make my compliments to your lady and to the young ladies. I should like to see them, pretty loves. I am, dear sir, “ Yours affectionately,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. “ April 8, 1780.”
Mrs. Thrale being now at Bath with her husband, the correspondence between Johnson and her was carried on briskly. I shall present my readers with one of her original letters to him at this time, wbich will amuse them probably more than those well-written but studied epistles which she has inserted in her collection, because it exhibits the easy vivacity of their literary intercourse. It is also of value as a key to Johnson's answer, which she has printed by itself, and of which I shall subjoin extracts.
MRS. THRALE TO DR. JOHNSON.
“I HAD a very kind letter from you yesterday, dear sir, with a most circumstantial date. You took trouble with my circulating letter, Mr. Evans writes me word, and I thank you sincerely for so doing: one might do mischief else not being on the spot.
“ Yesterday's evening was passed at Mrs. Montagu's: there was Mr. Melmoth; I do not like him though, nor he me: it was expected we should have pleased each other;