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N Tuesday, June 5, Johnson was to return to London, He was

very pleasant at breakfast. I mentioned a friend of mine having resolved never to marry a pretty woman.

JOHNSON : “ Sir, it is a very foolish resolution to resolve not to marry a pretty woman. Beauty is of itself very estimable. No, Sir, I would prefer a pretty woman, unless there are objections to her. A pretty woman may be foolish ; a pretty woman may be wicked ; a pretty woman may not like me. But there is no such danger in marrying a pretty woman as is apprehended ; she will not be persecuted if she does not invite persecution. A pretty woman, if she has a mind to be wicked, can find a readier way than another ; and that is all.”

I accompanied him in Mr. Dilly's chaise to Shefford, where, talking of Lord Bute's never going to Scotland, he said, “ As an Englishman, I should wish all the Scotch gentlemen should be educated in England, and Scotland would become a province; they would spend all their rents in England." This is a subject of much consequence, and much delicacy. The advantage of an English education is unquestionably very great to Scotch gentlemen of talents and ambition; and regular visits to Scotland, and perhaps other means, might be effectually used to prevent them from being totally estranged from their native country, i any more than a Cumberland or Northumberland gentleman, who has been educated in the south of England. I own, indeed, that it is no small misfortune for Scotch gentlemen, who have neither talents nor ambition, to be educated in England, where they may be perhaps distinguished only by a nickname, lavish their fortune in giving expensive entertainments to those who laugh at them, and saunter about as were idle insignificant hangers-on even upon the foolish great; when, if they had been judiciously brought up at home, they might have been comfortable and creditable members of society.

At Shefford I had another affectionate parting from my revered friend, who was taken up by the Bedford coach, and carried to the metropolis. I went with Messrs. Dilly, to see some friends at Bedford; dined with the officers of the militia of the county, and next day proceeded on my journey.


Bolt-court, June 16, 1781. “How welcome your account of yourself and your invitation to your new house was to me I need not tell you, who consider our friendship not only as formed by choice, but as matured by time. We have been now long enough acquainted to have many images in common, and therefore to have a source of conversation which neither the learning nor the wit of a new companion can supply.

My Lives are now published; and if you will tell me whither I shall send them, that they may come to you, I will take care that you shall not be without them.

“You will, perhaps, be glad to hear that Mrs. Thrale is disencumbered of her brewhouse ; and that it seemed to the purchaser so far from an evil, that he was content to give for it a hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds. Is the nation ruined ?

“Please to make my respectful compliments to Lady Rothes, and keep me in the memory of all the little dear family, particularly Mrs. Jane. I am, Sir,

“Your affectionate humble servant,

“SAM. JOHNSON.” Johnson's charity to the poor was uniform and extensive, both from inclination and principle. He not only bestowed liberally out of his own purse, but, what is more difficult as well as rare, would bey from others, when he had proper objects in view. This he did judiciously as


well as humanely. Mr. Philip Metcalfe tells me, that when he has asked him for some money for persons in distress, and Mr. Metcalfe has offered what Johnson thought too much, he insisted on taking less, saying, “No, no, Sir ; we must not pamper them.”

I am indebted to Mr. Malone, one of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s executors, for the following note, which was found among his papers after his death, and which, we may presume, his unaffected modesty prevented him from communicating to me with the other letters from Dr. Johnson with which he was pleased to furnish me. However slight in itself, as it does honour to that illustrious painter, and most amiable man, I am happy to introduce it.


June 23, 1781. “It was not before yesterday that I received your splendid benefaction. To a hand so liberal in distributing I hope nobody will envy the power of acquiring. “I am, dear Sir, your obliged and most humble servant,


July 17, 1781. “I am ashamed that you have been forced to call so often for your books; but it has been by no fault on either side. They have never been out of my hands, nor have I ever been at home without seeing you ; for to see a man so skilful in the antiquities of my country, is an opportunity of improvement not willingly to be missed.

“ Your notes on Alfred' appear to me very judicious and accurate; but they are too few. Many things familiar to you are unknown to me, and to most others; and you must not think too favourably of your readers. By supposing them knowing, you will leave them ignorant. Measure of land, and value of money, it is of great importance to state with care. llad the Saxons any gold coin?

"I have much curiosity after the manners and transactions of the middle ages, but have wanted either diligence or opportunity, or both. You, Sir, have great opportunities, and I wish you both diligence and success.

I am, Sir, &c.,

“SAM. Johnsox.” The following curious anecdote I insert in Dr. Burney's own words:

“ Dr. Burney related to Dr. Johnson the partiality which his writings had excited in a friend of Dr. Burney's, the late Mr. Bewley, well known in Norfolk by the name of the Philosopher of Massingham: who, from the Ramblers and Plan of his Dictionary, and long before the author's fame was established by the Dictionary itself, or any other

1 The will of King Alfred, alluded to in this letter, from the original Saxon, in the library of Mr. Astie, has been printed at the expense of the University of Oxford. BOSWELL.


work, had conceived such a reverence for him, that he earnestly begged Dr. Burney to give him the cover of his first letter he had received from him, as a relic of so estimable a writer. This was in 1753. In 1760, when Dr. Burney visited Dr. Johnson at the Temple in London, where he had then chambers, he happened to arrive there before he was up; and being shown into the room where he was to breakfast, finding himself alone, he examined the contents of the apartment, to try whether he could undiscovered steal anything to send to his friend Bewley, as another relic of the admirable Dr. Johnson, But finding nothing better to his purpose, he cut some bristles off his hearth-broom, and enclosed them in a letter to his country enthusiast, who received them with due

The doctor was so sensible of the honour done him by a man of genius and science, to whom he was an utter stranger, that he said to Dr. Burney, 'Sir, there is no man possessed of the smallest portion of modesty, but must be flattered with the admiration of such a man. I will give him a set of my Lives, if he will do me the honour to accept of them. In this he kept his word ; and Dr. Burney had not only the pleasure of gratifying his friend with a present more worthy of his acceptance than the segment from the hearth-broom, but soon after introducing him to Dr. Johnson himself in Bolt-court, with whom he had the satisfaction of conversing a considerable time, not a fortnight before his death; which happened in St. Martin's-street, during his visit to Dr. Burney, in the house where the great Sir Isaac Newton had lived and died before.”

In one of his little memorandum-books is the following minute :

· August 9, 3 P.M. ætat 72, in the summer-house at Streatham.

“Aster innumerable resolutions formed and neglected, I have retired hither, to plan a life of great diligence, in hope that I may yet be useful, and be daily better prepared to appear before my Creator and my Judge, from whose infinite mercy I humbly call for assistance and support.

My purpose is, “ To pass eight hours every day in some serious employment.

“Having prayed, I purpose to employ the next six weeks upon the Italian language, for my settled study."

How venerably pious does he appear in these moments of solitude, and how spirited are his resolutions for the improvement of his mind, even in elegant literature, at a very advanced period of life, and when afflicted with many complaints.

In autumn he went to Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, and Ashbourne, for which very good reasons might be given in the conjectural yet positive manner of writers, who are proud to account for every event which they relate. He himself, however, says,

The motives of my journey I hardly know ; I omitted it last year, and am not willing to miss it again.” But some good considerations arise, amongst which is

1 “Prayers and Meditations," p. 201.

the kindly recollection of Mr. Hector, surgeon, of Birmingham. “Hector is likewise an old friend, the only companion of my childhood that passed through the school with me. We have always loved one another; perhaps we may be made better by some serious conversation, of which, however, I have no distinct hope.”

He says too, “At Lichfield, my native place, I hope to show a good example by frequent attendance on public worship.”

My correspondence with him during the rest of this year was, I know not why, very scanty, and all on my side. I wrote him one letter to introduce Mr. Sinclair (now Sir John) the member for Caithness, to his acquaintance; and informed him in another, that my wife had again been affected with alarming symptoms of illness.

In 1782, his complaints increased, and the history of his life this year is little more than a mournful recital of the variations of his illness, in the midst of which, however, it will appear from his letters, that the powers of his mind were in no degree impaired.



January 5, 1782. " I sit down to answer your letter on the same day in which I received it, and am pleased that my first letter of the year is to you. No man ought to be at ease while he knows himself in the wrong: and I have not satisfied myself with my long silence. The letter relating to Mr. Sinclair, however, was, I believe, never brought.

“My health has been tottering this last year: and I can give no very laudable account of my time. I am always hoping to do better than I have ever hitherto dane.

“My journey to Ashbourne and Staffordshire was not pleasant; for what enjoyment has a sick man visiting the sick? Shall we ever have another frolic like our journey to the Hebrides?

'I hope that dear Mrs. Boswell will surmount her complaints. In losing her you will lose your anchor, and be tost, without stability, by the waves of life.1 I wish both her and you very many years, and very happy.

For some months past I have been so withdrawn from the world, that I can send you nothing particular. All your friends, however, are well, and will be glad of your return to London. I am, dear Sir, yours most affectionately,

SAM. JOHNSON." At a time when he was less able than he had once been to sustain a shock, he was suddenly deprived of Mr. Levett, which event he thus communicated to Dr. Lawrence.

i The truth of this has been proved by sad experience.-BOSWELL. Mrs. Boswell died June 4, 1789.-MALONE. 2 See an account of him in “The Gentleman's Magazine," Feb. 17,85.-BOSWELL.

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