Page images
PDF
EPUB

« No summons mock'd by chill delay,

No petty gains disdain'd pride:
The modest wants of every day

The toil of every day supply'd.
“ His virtues walk'd their narrow round,

Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure the eternal Master found

His single talent well employ'd.
“ The busy day, the peaceful night,

Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
His frame was firm, his powers were bright,

Though now his eightieth year was nigh.
“ Then, with no throbs of fiery pain,

No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,

And freed his soul the nearest way.”

LETTER 407. TO MRS. STRAHAN.

- Feb. 4. 1782. “ DEAR MADAM, Mrs. Williams showed me your kind letter. This little habitation is now but a melan. choly place, clouded with the gloom of disease and death. Of the four inmates, one has been suddenly snatched away ; two are oppressed by very afflictive and danger. ous illness; and I tried yesterday to gain some relier by a third bleeding from a disorder which has for some time distressed me, and I think myself to-day much better.

“ I am glad, dear Madam, to hear that you are so far recovered as to go to Bath. Let me once more entreat you to stay till your health is not only obtained, but confirmed. Your fortune is such as that no moderate expense deserves your care ;

and

you husband who, I believe, does not regard it. Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my part, very much deserted ; but complaint is useless. I hope God will bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish for me. I am, dear Madam, &c.

- SAM. Johnson."

have a

[ocr errors]

LETTER 40: TO EDMUND MALONE, ES.

“ Feb. 27. 1782. have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with you and Dr. Farmer, I hope hereafter to see I am, Sir, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON."

you often.

LETTER 409. TO THE SAME.

« March 2. 1782. * Dear Sir, — I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton (1) more unaccountable

(1) This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled “ Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley," &c. Mr. Thomas Warton's very able “Inquiry” appeared about three months afterwards; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable “ Vindication of his Appendix,” in the summer of the same year, left the believers in this daring imposture nothing but “ the resolution to say again what had been said before." Daring, however, as this fiction was, and wild as was the adherence to Chatterton, both were greatly exceeded in 1795 and the following year, by a still more audacious imposture, and the pertinacity of one of its adherents, who has immortalised his name by publishing a bulky volume, of which the direct and manifest object was, to prove the authenticity of certain papers attributed to Shakspeare, after the fabricator of the spurious trash had publicly acknowledged the imposture.

- M. Mr. Malone alludes to the forgery, by Mr. William Henry Ireland, of the Shakspearian papers which were exhibited, with a ridiculous mixture of pomp and mystery at his father's house in Norfolk Street. It seems scarcely conceivable how such palpable impositions could have deceived the most ignorant, and yet there were numerous dupes in the critical and literary circles of the day. Mr. W. H. Ireland has since published a full and minute confession of the whole progress of his forgery; but, with a curious obstinacy, he, in this work, vehemently accuses of blindness, ignorance, and bad faith all those who detected what he confesses to have been an imposture, and is equally lavish in praise of the discernment and judgment of those whom he proves to have been dupes. -C. (w. H. liem land died in 1834.]

than the obstinate lefence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said. I am, Sir, &c.

SAM. Johnson." These short letters show the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every respect have been fully gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably succeeded him as an editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done great and just honour to Johnson's 'memory.

JETTER 410. TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.

“ London, March 2. 1782. “ DEAR MADAM, I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my breath. For some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I could not get the violence abated till I had been let blood three times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written, and am sorry that I neglected it.

“ My dwelling is but melancholy. Both Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself, are very sickly; Frank is not well ; and poor Levett died in his bed the other day by a sudden stroke. I suppose not one minute passed between health and death. So uncertain are human things.

“ Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be glooiny. Let us,

therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can ; though the loss of friends will be felt, and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for thirty years.

Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing ; I hope to mend that and my other faults. Let me have your prayers. Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and the whole company of my friends. I am, &c.

“ SAM. JOHNSON."

LETTER 411. TO THE SAME.

“ Bolt Court, March 19. 1782. “ DEAR MADAM, My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much more cheerful : I am, however, willing to write, because you are desirous to hear from me. My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet over. I was last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself much relieved, but I am very tender and easily hurt; so that since we parted I have had but little comfort. But I hope that the spring will recover me, and that in the summer I shall see Lichfield again, for I will not delay my visit another year to the end of autumn.

“I have, by advertising, found poor Mr. Levett's brothers, in Yorkshire, who will take the little he has left: it is but little, yet it will be welcome, for I believe they are of very low condition.

To be sick, and to see nothing but sickness and death, is but a gloomy state : but I hope better times, even in this world, will come, and whatever this world may withhold or give, we shall be happy in a better state. Pray for me, my dear Lucy. Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and my old friend, Hetty Bailey, and to all the Lichfield ladies. I

SAM. JOHNSON.” On the day on which this letter was written, he

am, &c.

thus feelingly mentions his respected friend and physician, Dr. Lawrence:- “Poor Lawrence has almost lost the sense of hearing; and I have lost the conversation of a learned, intelligent, and c9:imunicative companion, and a friend whom long familiarity as much endeared. Lawrence is one of the best men whom I have known. Nostrum omnium miserere Deus.(Pr. and Med. p. 203.)

It was Dr. Johnson's custom, when he wrote to Dr. Lawrence concerning his own health, to use the Latin language. I have been favoured by Miss Lawrence with one of these letters as a specimen :

LETTER 412. “ T. LAWRENCIO, MEDICO S.

« Maiis Calendis, 1782. “ Novum frigus, nova tussis, nova spirandi difficultas, novam sanguinis missionem suadent, quam tamen te inconsulto nolim fieri. Ad te venire vix possum, nec est cur ad me venias. Licere vel non licere uno verbo dicendum est; cætera mihi et Holdero (1) reliqueris. Si per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere. Postquàm tu discesseris quò me vertam ?" (2)

(1) Mr. Holder, in the Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary.

(2) “ May, 1782. Fresh cold, renewed cough, and an increased difficulty of breathing; all suggest a further letting of blood, which, however, I do not choose to have done without your advice. I cannot well come to you, nor is there any occasion for your coming to me. You may say, in one word, yes or no, and leave the rest to Holder and me. If you consent, the messenger will bring Holder to me.

When you shall be gone, whither shall I turn myself? ” —C.

Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, bu not before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to write for himself. The following are extracts frum letters addressed by Dr. Johnson to one of his daughters :

“ You will easily believe with what gladness I read that you had heard once again that voice to which we have all so often delighted to attend, May you often hear it. If we had his mind, and his tongue, we could 8. sie the rest

« PreviousContinue »