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Ætat. 70.

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“ WHAT can possibly have happened, that keeps us two such strangers
to each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home;
I expected afterwards. I went into the country, and returned; and yet there
is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill I hope has happened; and if ill

should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves you? Is it
a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold out longest without
writing? if it be, you have the victory. But I am afraid of fon.ething bad;
set me free from my suspicions.

My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your
filence : you must not expect that I Mould tell you any thing, if I had any
thing to tell. Write, pray write to me, and let me know what is, or what
has been the cause of this long interruption. I am, dear Sir,

" Your most affectionate humble servant, “ July 13, 1779.


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Edinburgh, July 17, 1779.
! WHAT may be justly denominated a supine indolence of mind
has been my state of existence since I last returned to Scotland. In a livelier
state I had often suffered severely from long intervals of silence on your part;
and I had even been chid by you for expressing my uneasiness. I was willing
to take advantage of my insensibility, and while I could bear the experiment,
to try whether

your affection for me, would, after an unusual silence on my
part, make you write first. This afternoon I have had very high fatisfaction
by receiving your kind letter of inquiry, for which I most gratefully thank
you. I am doubtful if it was right to make the experiment; though I have
gained by it. I was beginning to grow tender, and to upbraid myself,
especially after having dreamt two nights ago that I was with you. I and my
wife, and my four children, are all well. I would not delay one post to answer
your letter; but as it is late, I have not time to do more. You shall foon
hear from me, upon many and various particulars; and I shall never again
put you to any test. I ever am, with veneration, my dear Sir,

“ Your much obliged
« And faithful humble servant,


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On the 22d of July, I wrote to him again; and gave him an account of my last interview with my worthy friend, Mr. Edward Dilly, at his brother's house at Southill, in Bedfordshire, where he died soon after I parted from him, leaving me a very kind remembrance of his regard.

I informed him that Lord Hailes, who had promised to furnish him with fome anecdotes for his “ Lives of the Poets,” had fent me three instances of Prior’s borrowing from Gombauld, in “ Recueil des Poetes,” tome 3. Epigram “ To John I owed,' great obligation,” p. 25. " To the Duke of Noailles," p. 32. Sauntering Jack and idle Joan,” p. 25.

My let'er was a pretty long one, and contained a variety of particulars; but he, it would seem had not attended to it; for his next to me was as follows:


“ ARE you playing the same trick again, and trying who can keep silence longest? Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish; and that it is as foolish to make experiments upon the constancy of a friend, as upon the chastity of a wife.

“ What can be the cause of this second fit of silence, I cannot conjecture; but after one trick, I will not be cheated by another, nor will harrass my thoughts with conjectures about the motives of a man who, probably, acts only by caprice. I therefore suppose you are well, and that Mrs. Boswell is well too; and that the fine summer has restored Lord Auchinleck. I am much better than you left me; I think I am better than when I was in Scotland.

“ I forgot whether I informed you that poor Thrale has been in great danger. Mrs. Thrale likewise has miscarried, and been much indisposed. Every body else is well; Langton is in camp. I intend to put Lord Hailes's description of Drydent into another edition, and as I know his accuracy, wish

, he would consider the dates, which I could not always settle to my own mind.

“ Mr. Thrale goes to Brighthelmston, about Michaelmas, to be jolly and ride a hunting. I shall go to town, or perhaps to Oxford. Exercise and gaiety, or rather carelessness, will, I hope, dissipate all remains of his malady;

4 Which I communicated to him from his Lordship, but it has not yet been published. I have

a copy of it.


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and I likewise hope by the change of place, to find some opportunities of growing yet better myself. I am, dear Sir,

« Your humble servant, • Streatham, Sept. 9, 1779.

SAM. Johnson.”

Ætat. 70.

My readers will not be displeased at being told every night circumstance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his folitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometiines in watering and pruning a vine, and sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile, should recollect that there are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifies s.

On the 20th of September I defended myself against his fufpicion of me, which I did not deserve; and I added, “ Pray let us write frequently. A whim strikes me, that we should each fend off a theet once a week, like a stage-coach, whether it be full or not; nay, though it should be empty. The very sight of your hand-writing would comfort me; and were a sheet to be thus fent regularly, we should much oftener convey something, were it only a few kind words."

My friend Colonel James Stuart, second son of the Earl of Bute, who had distinguished himself as a good officer of the Bedfordshire militia, had taken a publick-spirited resolution to serve his country in its difficulties, by raising a regular regiment, and taking the command of it himself. This, in the heir of the immense property of Wortley, was highly honourable. Having been in Scotland recruiting, he obligingly asked me to accompany him to Leeds, then the head-quarters of his corps ; from thence to London for a short time, and afterwards to other places to which the regiment might be ordered. Such an offer, at a time of the year when I had full leisure, was very pleasing; especially as I was to accompany a man of sterling good sense, information, discernment, and conviviality; and was to have a second crop, in one year, of London and Johnson. Of this I informed my illustrious friend, ,


s In one of his manuscript Diaries, there is the following entry, which marks his curious minute attention : “ Aug. 7, 1779. Partem brachii dextri carpo proximam et cutem pectoris circa maxillam dextram rasi, ut notum fieret quanto temporis pili renovarentur."

Another of the same kind appears, “ July 26, 1768. I shaved my nail by accident in whetting the knife, about an eighth of an inch from the bottom, and about a fourth from the top. This I measure that I may know the growth of nails; the whole is about five eighths of an inch.”

And, “ Aug. 15, 1783. I cut from the vine 41 leaves, which weighed five oz. and a half, and
eight scruples :- I lay them upon my book-case to see what weight they will lose by drying.





cat. 70.

in characteristical warm terms, in a letter dated the 30th of September, from Leeds.

On Monday, October 4, I called at his house before he was up. He sent for me to his bedside, and expressed his fatisfaction at this incidental meeting, with as much vivacity as if he had been in the gaiety of youth. He called briskly, “ Frank, go and get coffee, and let us breakfast in fplendour.”

. During this visit to London I had several interviews with him, which it is unnecessary to distinguish particularly. I consulted him as to the appointment of guardians to my children, in case of my death. “ Sir, (said he,) do not appoint a number of guardians. When they are many, they trust one to another, and the business is neglected. I would advise you to choose only one; let him be a man of respectable character, who, for his own credit, will do what is right; let him be a rich man, so that he may be under no temptation to take advantage; and let him be a man of business, who is used to conduct affairs with ability and expertness, to whom, therefore, the execution of the trust will not be burthenfome.”

On Sunday, October 10, we dined together at Mr. Strahan’s. The converfation having turned on the prevailing practice of going to the East-Indies in quest of wealth ;-JOHNSON. “A man had, better have ten thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in England, than twenty thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in India, because you muse compute what you give for money; and a man who has lived ten years in India, has given up ten years.

of social comfort and all those advantages which arise from living in England. The ingenious Mr. Brown, distinguished by the name of Capability Brown, told me, that he was once at the seat of Lord Clive, who had returned from India with great wealth ; and that he Thewed him at the door of his bed-chamber a large chest, which he said he had once had full of gold; upon which Brown observed, 'I am glad you can bear it so near your bedchamber.”

We talked of the state of the poor in London.—Johnson.“Saunders Welch, the Justice, who was once High-Constable of Holborn, and had the best opportunities of knowing the state of the poor, told me, that I under-rated the number, when I computed that twenty a week, that is, above a thousand a year, died of hunger;, not absolutely of immediate hunger, but of the wasting and other diseases which are the consequences of hunger. This happens only in fo large a place as London, where people are not known. What we are told about the great sums got by begging is not true: the trade is overstocked. And, you may depend upon it, there are many



many who




Atat. 70.

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cannot get work. A particular kind of manufacture fails. Those who harre
been used to work at it can, for some time, work at nothing else. You
meet a man begging; you charge him with idleness: he says, 'I am willing
to labour. Will you give me work ?'~' I cannot.'—Why then you have
no right to charge me with idleness.”

We left Mr. Strahan’s at seven, as Johnson had said he intended to go to
evening prayers. · As we walked along, he complained of a little gout in his
toe, and said, “ I man’t go to prayers to-night; I thall go to-morrow. When-

ever I miss church on a Sunday, I resolve to go another day. But I do not
always do it.” This was a fair exhibition of that vibration between pious
resolutions and indolence, which many of us have too often experienced.

I went home with him, and we had a long quiet conversation.

I read him a letter from Dr. Hugh Blair, concerning Pope, (in writing whose life he was now employed,) which I shall insert as a litcrary curiosity

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TO J AMEs Boswell, Esq.

“ IN the year 1763, being at London, I was carried by Dr. Jolin
Blair, Prebendary of Westminster, to dine at old Lord Bathurst's; where we
found the late Mr. Mallet, Sir James Porter, who had been Ambassadour at
Constantinople, the late Dr. Macaulay, and two or three more.
versation turning on Mr. Pope, Lord Bathurst told us, that "The Essay on
Man’ was originally composed by Lord Bolingbroke in profe, and that Mr.
Pope did no more than put it into verse : that he had read Lord Bolingbroke's
manuscript in his own hand-writing; and remembered well, that he was at
a loss whether most to admire the elegance of Lord Bolingbroke's prose, or
the beauty of Mr. Pope's verse. When Lord Bathurst told this, Mr.
Mallet bade me attend, and remember this remarkable piece of informa-
tion; as, by the course of Nature, I might survive his Lordship, and be a

The con

6 The Reverend Dr. Law, Bishop of Carlisle, in the Preface to his valuable edition of Archbishop King's “Essay on the Origin of Evil," mentions that the principles maintained in it had been adopted by Pope in his ~ Effay on Man;" and adds, “ The fact, notwithstanding such “

, denial, (Bishop Warburton's,) might have been strictly verified by an unexceptionable testimony, viz. that of the late Lord Bathurst, who saw the very same system of the to En Tier (taken from the Archbishop) in Lord Bolingbroke's own hand, lying before Mr. Pope, while he was composing his Essay.” This is respectable evidence; but that of Dr. Blair is more direct from the fountain-head, as well

more full.
Q 9.2


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