Page images

me hopes that we may all meet again with kindness and cheerfulness. I am, dear ladies, your most humble servant,

“Sam. Johnson." Pembroke MSS.


“ London, April 26, 1784. “MY DEAR,

“I write to you now, to tell you that I am so far recovered that on the 21st I went to church to return thanks, after a confinment of more than four long months.

“My recovery is such as neither myself nor the physicians at all expected, and is such as that very few examples have been known of the like. Join with me, my dear love, in returning thanks to God.

“ Dr. Vyse has been with (me) this evening; he tells me that you likewise have been much disordered, but that you are now better. I hope that we shall some time have a cheerful interview. In the mean time let us pray for one another. I am, Madam, your humble servant,

“SAM. Johnson." Pearson MSS.


“Bolt Court, 30th April, 1784. “Dear MADAM,

“Mr. Allen has looked over the papers, and thinks that one hundred copies will come to five pounds.

“ Fifty will cost £4 10s., and five and twenty will cost £4 5s. It seems therefore scarcely worth while to print fewer than a hundred.

“ Suppose you printed two hundred and fifty at £6 10s., and, without my name, tried the sale, which may be secretly donc. You would then see the opinion of the public without hazard, if nobody knows but I. If any body else is in the secret, you shall not have my consent to venture. I am, dear Madam, your most affectionate and most humble servant, “ SAM. JOHNSON.”

Reynolds MSS.


“May 28th, 1784. “ MADAM,

“You do me wrong by imputing my omission tɔ any captious punctiliousness. I have not yet seen Sir Joshua, and, when I do see him, I know not how to serve you. When I spoke upon your affairs to him, at Christmas, I received no encouragement to speak again

“But we shall never do business by letters. We must see one another.

“I have returned your papers, (pp. 83 note, and 354] and am glad tbat you laid aside the thought of printing them. I am, Madam, your most humble servant, “Sam. Johnson."

Reynolds MSS.


" June 2, 1784. “Sir,

“You do everything that is liberal and kind. Mrs. Pelle is a bad manager for herself, but I will employ a more skilful agent, one Mrs. Gardiner, who will wait on you and employ Pellè's money to the best advantage. Mrs. Gardiner will wait on you.

“I return, you, Sir, sincere thanks for your attention to me. I am ill, but hope to come back better, and to be made better still by your conversation. I am, Sir, &c., “Sam. Johnson."



“ General Paoli's, Upper Seymour Strect,

Portinan Square, June 24, 1781. - MY LORD,

“Dr. Samuel Johnson, though wonderfully recovered from a complication of dangerous illness, is by no means well, and I have reason to think that his valuable life cannot be pre

See antè, p. 247.


served long without the benignant influence of a southern climate.

“ It would therefore be of very great moment were he to go to Italy before winter sets in ; and I know he wishes it much. But the objection is, that his pension of three hundred pounds a year would not be sufficient to defray his expense, and make it convenient for M. Sastres, an ingenious and worthy native of that country, and a teacher of Italian here, to accompany him.

“As I am well assured of your lordship’s regard for Dr. Johnson, I presume, without his knowledge, so far to indulge my anxious concern for him, as to intrude upon your lordship with this suggestion, being persuaded that if a representation of the matter were made to his majesty by proper authority, the royal bounty would be extended in a suitable manner.

“ Your lordship, I cannot doubt, will forgive me for taking this liberty. I even flatter myself you will approve of it. I am to set out for Scotland on Monday morning, so that if your lordship should have any commands for me as to this pious negotiation, you will be pleased to send them before that time. But Sir Joshua Reynolds, with whom I have consulted, will be here, and will gladly give all attention to it. I am, &c., Reynolds MSS.



“ London, 11th June (July), 1784. “DEAR SIR,

“I am going into Staffordshire and Derbyshire in quest of some relief, of which my need is not less than when I was treated at your house with so much tenderness.

“I have now received the collations for Xenophon, which I have sent you with the letters that relate to them. I cannot at present take any part in the work, but I would rather pay for a collation of Oppian than see it neglected ; for the Frenchmen act with great liberality. Let us not fall below them.

“I know not in what state Dr. Edwards left his book. Some of his emendations seemed to me to (be) irrefragably certain, and such, therefore, as ought not to be lost. His rule was not (to) change the text; and, therefore, I suppose he has left notes to he subjoined. As the book is posthumous, some account of the editor ought to be given.

“ You have now the whole process of the correspondence before you. When the prior is answered, let some apology be made for me.

“I was forced to divide the collation, but as it is paged, you will easily put every part in its proper place.

“Be pleased to convey my respects to Mrs. and Miss Adams. I am, Sir, your most humble servant, “Sam. Johnson."


“ Lichfield, 13th October, 1784. “Though I doubt not but Dr. Brocklesby would communicate to you any incident in the variation of my health which appeared either curious or important, yet I think it time to give you some account of myself.

“Not long after the first great efflux of the water, I attained as much vigour of limbs and freedom of breath, that without rest or intermission, I went with Dr. Brocklesby to the top of the painters' Academy. This was the greatest degree of health that I have obtained, and this, if it could continue, were perhaps sufficient; but my breath soon failed, and my body grew weak.

“At Oxford (in June) I was much distressed by shortness of breath, so much that I never attempted to scale the Library : the water gained upon me, but by the use of squills was in a great measure driven away.

" In July I went to Lichfield, and performed the journey with very little fatigue in the cominon vehicle, but found no help from my native air. I then removed to Ashbourne, in Derbysbire, where for some time I was oppressed very heavily by the asthma ; and the dropsy had advanced so far, that I could not without great difficulty button me at my knees. * * *

“No hydropical humour has been lately visible. The relaxation of my breath has not continued as it was at first, but neither do I breathe with the same angustie and distress as before the remission. The summary of my state is this :

“I am deprived, by weakness and the asthma, of the power of walking beyond a very short space.

“I draw my breath with difficulty upon the least effort, but not with suffocation or pain.

“ The dropsy still threatens, but gives way to medicine.
“ The summer has passed without giving me any strength.

“My appetite is, I think, less keen than it was, but not so abated as that its decline can be observed by any but myself.

“ Be pleased to think on me sometimes. I am, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant,

“Sam. Johnson."




The words occur (as Mr. Bindley observes to me) in the first Eclogue of Mantuanus, “ De Honesto Amore," &c.

“Id commune malum ; semel insanivimus omnes.” With the following elucidation of the other saying—Quos Deus (it should rather be, Quem Jupiter) vult perdere, prius dementat Mr. Boswell was furnished by Mr. Richard How, of Apsley, in Bedfordshire, as communicated to that gentleman by his friend, Mr. John Pitts, late rector of Great Brickhill, in Buckingham : “ Perhaps no scrap of Latin whatever has been more quoted than this. It occasionally falls even from those who are scrupulous even to pedantry in their Latinity, and will not admit a word into their compositions which has not the sanction of the first age. The word demento is of no authority, either as a verb active or neuter. After a long search, for the purpose of deciding a bet, some gentlemen of Cambridge found it among the fragments of Euripides, in what edition I do not recollect, where it is given as a translation of a Greek Iambic :

Ov Okog Jɛlɛ åtolecai, npwr' åtoppɛvai. • The above scrap was found in the handwriting of a suicide of fashion, Sir D. O., some years ago, lying on the table of the room where he had destroyed himself. The suicide was a man of classical acquirements: he left no other paper behind him."

1 See ante, p. 124.

« PreviousContinue »