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like you are able to bestow. I shall ncw live uihi curior, with a higher opinion of my own ma11t. my Lord, &c.
Upon this unexpected failure I abstain from presuming to make any remarks, or to offer any conjectures. (1)
(1) This affair soon became a topic of conversation, and it was stated that the cause of the failure was the refusal of the king himself; but from the following letters it appears that the matter was never mentioned to his majesty ; that, as time pressed, his lordship proposed the before-mentioned arrangement as from himself, running the risk of obtaining the king's subsequent approbation when he should have an opportunity of mentioning it to his majesty This affords some, and yet not a satisfactory, explanation of the device suggested by Lord Thurlow of Johnson's giving him a mortgage on his pension.
Lord Thurlow to Sir J. Reynolds.
“ Thursday, Nov. 18. 1784. “ DEAR SIR, - My choice, if that had been left me, would certainly have been that the matter should not have been talked of at all. The only object I regarded was my own pleasure, in contributing to the health and comfort of a man whom I venerate sincerely and highly for every part, without exception, of his exalted character. This you know I proposed to do, as it might be without any expense, in all events at a rate infinitely below the satisfaction I proposed to inyself. It would have suited the purpose better if nobody had heard of it, except Dr. Johnson, you, and J. Boswell. But the chief objection to the rumour is that his majesty is supposed to have refused it. Had that been so, I should not have communicated the circumstance. It was impossible for me to take the king's pleasure on the suggestion I presumed to move. I am an untoward soli. citor. The time seemed to press, and I chose rather to take on mysef the risk of his majesty's concurrence than delay a journey which might conduce to Dr. Johnson's health and comfort.
“ But these are all trifles, and scarce deserve even this cursory explan. ation. The only question of any worth is whether Dr. Johnson has ariv wish to go abroad, or other occasion for my assistance. Indeed he shoula give me credit for perfect simplicity, when I treat this as merely a pleasure afforded me, and accept it accordingly: any reluctance, if he examines himself thoroughly, will certainly be found to rest, in some part or other, upon a doubt of the disposition with which I offer it. I am, &c.
That this letter was designedly kept from Mr. Boswell's knowledge, is rendered probable by the following curious circumstance. On the face of the original letter his name has peen obliterated with so much care that but for the different colour of the ink and some other small circumstances, it would not have been discoverable; it is artfully done, and the sentence VOL. VIII.
Having, after .epeated reasonings, brought Dr. Johnson to agree to my removing to London, and even to furnish me with arguments in favour of what he had opposed; I wrote to him, requesting he would write them for me. He was so good as to comply, and I shall extract that part of his letter to me of June 11., as a proof how well he could exhibit a cautious yet encouraging view of it.
“ I remember, and entreat you to remember, that virtus est vitium fugere, the first approach to riches is security from poverty. The condition upon which you have my consent to settle in London is, íhat your expense never exceeds your annual income. Fixing this basis of security, you cannot be hurt, and you may be very much advanced.
The loss of your Scottish business, which is all that you can lose, is not to be reckoned as any equivalent to the hopes and possibilities that open here upon you.
If you succeed, the question of prudence is at an end; every body will think that done right which ends happily; and though your expectations, of which I would not advise you to talk too much, should not be totally answered, you can hardly fail to get friends who will do for you all that your present situation allows you to hope ; and if, after a few years, you should return to Scotland, you will return with a mind supplied by various conversation, and many opportunities of inquiry, with much knowledge, and materials for reflection and instruction."
Let us now contemplate Johnson thirty years after the death of his wife, stiil retaining for her all the tenderness of affection.
Appears to run, except Dr. Johnson, you, and I”- Boerell being erased. This seems to be an uncandid trick, to defraud Baxwell of his merit in this matter. - C.
LETTER 467. TO THE REV. MR. BAGSHAW,
At Bromley. (1)
“ July 12. 1784. Perhaps you may remember, that in thic year 1753 you committed to the ground my dear wife. I now entreat your permission to lay a stone upon her: and have sent the inscription, that, if you find it proper you may signify your allowance.
“You will do me a great favour by showing the place where she lies, that the stone may protect her remains.
“ Mr. Ryland will wait on you for the inscription (?), and procure it to be engraved. You will easily believe that I shrink from this mournful office. When it is done, if I have strength remaining, I will visit Bromley once again, and pay you part of the respect to which you have a right from, reverend Sir, your most humble servant,
SAM. JOHNSON.” On the same day he wrote to Mr. Langton:
“ I cannot but think that in my languid and anxious s'ate, I have some reason to complain that I receive from you neither inquiry nor consolation. You know how much I value your friendship, and with what confidence I expect your kindness, if I wanted any act of tenderness that you could perform ; at least if you do not know it, I think your ignorance is your own fault. Yet how long is it that I have lived almost in your neighbourhood without the least notice? – I do not, however, consider this neglect as particularly shown to me; I hear two of your most valuable friends make the same complaint. But why are all thus overlooked ? You are not oppressed by sickness, you are not distracte:1 by business; if you are sick, you are sick of leisure : and allow yourself to be told, that no disease is more to be dreaded or avoided. Rather to do nothing than
(1) See antè, Vol. III. p. 302. - C
to do good, is the lowest state of a degraded nina. Boileau says to his pupil,
• Que les vers ne soient pas votre eternel emploi,
Cultivez vos amis.'. That voluntary debility which modern language is content to term indolence will, if it is not counteracted by resolution, render in time the strongest faculties lifeless, and turn the flame to the smoke of virtue. I do not expect or desire to see you, because I am much pleased to find that your mother stays so long with you, and I should think you neither elegant nor grateful, if you did not study her gratification. You will pay my respects to both the ladies, and to all the young people. — I am going northward for a while, to try what help the country can give me; but if you will write, the letter will come after me.”
Next day he set out on a jaunt to Staffordshire and Derbyshire, flattering himself that he might be in some degree relieved.
During his absence from London he kept up a correspondence with several of his friends, from which I shall select what appears to me proper for publication, without attending nicely to chronological order. To DR. BROCKLESBY he writes,
• Ashbourne, July 20. “ The kind attention which you have so long shown to in health and happiness makes it as much a debt of gratitude as a call of interest to give you an account of what befalls me, when accident removes me from your immediate care. The journey of the first day was performed with very little sense of fatigue; the second day brought me to Lichfield without much lassitude; but I am afraid that I could not have borne such violent agitation for many days together. Tell Dr. Heberden, that in the coach I read • Ciceronianus, which I concluded as I entered Lichfield. My affection and
understanding went along with Erasmus, except that once or twice he somewhat unskilfully entangles Cicero's civil or moral with his rhetorical character. — I staid five days at Lichtield, but, being unable to walk, had no great pleasure; and yesterday (19th) I came hither, where I am to try wbat air and attention can perform. – Of any improvement in my health I cannot yet please myself with the perception.
**- The asthma has no abatement. Opiates stop the fit, so as that I can sit and sometimes lie easy, but they do not now procure me the power of motion; and I am afraid that my general strength of body does not increase. The weather indeed is not benign ; but how low is he sank whose strength depends upon the weather! I am now looking into Floyer (1), who lived with his asthma to almost his ninetieth year. His book, by want of order, is obscure; and his asthma, I think, not of the same kind with mine. Something, however, I may perhaps learn. — My appetite still continues keen enough; and what I consider as a symptom of radical health, I have a voracious delight in raw summer fruit, of which I was less eager a few years ago.
You will be pleased to communicate this account to Dr. Heberden, and if any thing is to be done, let me have your joint opinion. Now - abite, curæ !
let me inquire after the club." (2)
July 31st. - Not recollecting that Dr. Heberden might be at Windsor, I thought your letter long in coming. But you know, nocitura petuntur, the letter which I so much desired tells me that I have lost one of my best and tenderest friends. (3) My comfort is, that he appeared to live like a man that had always before his eyes the fragility of our present existence, and was therefore, I hope, not unprepared to meet his Judge.
Your attention, dear Sir, and that of Dr. Heberden, to my health, is extremely kind. I am loth to think that I grow worse; and cannot fairly prove even to my own partiality that I grow much better.”
(1) Sir John Floyer, M.D. See antè, Vol. I. p. 96.- C. (2) At the Essex Head, Essex Street. (3) Mr. Allen, the printer.