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Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but che resolution to say agaiu what has once been said. I am, Sir, &c.,
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.
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
“ 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 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 immortalized 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 !-Malone.
An allusion to Ireland's contemptible imposture of the Shakespeare manuscripts.--Editor.
wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. 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.,
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 am, &c.,
“ SAM. Johnson."
On the day on which this letter was written, he 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 communicative companion, and a friend whom long familiarity has much endeared. Lawrence is one of the best men whom I have known.—Nostrum omnium, miserere Deus.”!
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 :
“ 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? reliqueris. Si per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.
“ Postquàm tu discesseris quò me vertam ?”3 i Prayers and Meditations, p. 200. First edition.
Dr. Lawrence had long been his friend and confidant. The conversation I saw them hold together in Essex Street, one day in the year 1781 or 1782, was a melancholy one, and made a singular impression on my mind. He was himself exceedingly ill, and I accompanied him thither for advice. The physician was, however, in some respects, more to be pitied than the patient : Johnson was panting under an asthma and dropsy; but Lawrence had been brought home that very morning struck with the palsy, from which he had, two hours before we came, strove to awaken himself by blisters: they were both deaf, and scarcé able to speak besides; one from difficulty of breathing, the other from paralytic debility. To give and receive medical counsel, therefore, they fairly sat down on each side a table in the doctor's gloomy apartment, adorned with skeletons, preserved monsters, and agreed to write Latin billets to each other. Such a scene did I never see, “You," said Johnson, “are timidè and gelidè ;" finding that his friend had prescribed palliative not drastic remedies. “It is not me," replies poor Lawrence, in an interrupted voice; “'tis nature that is gelide and timidè." In fact he lived but a fow months after, I believe, and retained his faculties a still shorter time. He was a man of strict piety and profound learning, but little skilled in the knowledge of life or manners, and died without ever baving enjoyed the reputation he so justly deserved.- Anecdotes, Johnsoniana, p. 34.-Editor.
2 Mr. Holder, in the Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary. 3 Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, but not
TO CAPTAIN LANGTON,' in Rochester.
“Bolt Court, March 20, 1782. “ DEAR SIR,
“It is now long since we saw one another: and, what. ever has been the reason, neither you have written to me, nor I to you. To let friendship die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which when it is, as it must be, taken finally away, he that travels on alone will wonder how his esteem could be so little. Do not forget me; you see that I do not forget you. It is pleasing in the
before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to write for himself. The following are extracts from 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 spare the rest.
“I am not vigorous, but much better than when dear Dr. Lawrence held my pulse the last time. Be so kind as to let me know, from one little interval to another, the state of his body. I am pleased that he remembers me, and hope that it never can be possible for me to forget him. July 22d, 1782.
“I am much delighted even with the small advances which dear Dr. Lawrence makes towards recovery. If we could have again but his mind, and his tongue in his mind, and his right hand, we should not much lament the rest. I should not despair of helping the swelled hand by electricity, if it were frequently and diligently supplied.
“Let me know from time to time whatever happens; and I hope I need not tell you how much I am interested in every change. Aug. 26, 1782.
“ Though the account with which you favoured me in your last letter could not give me the pleasure that I wished, yet I was glad to receive it ; for my affection to my dear friend makes me desirous of knowing his state, whatever it be. I beg, therefore, that you continue to let me know, from time to time, all that you observe.
“Many fits of severe illness have, for about three months past, forced my kind physician often upon my mind. I am now better; and hope gratitude, as well as distress, can be a motive to remembrance.”—Bolt Court, Fleet Street, Feb. 4, 1783.
1 Mr. Langton being at this time on duty at Rochester, he is addressed by his military title.
silence of solitude to think that there is one at least, howerer distant, of whose benevolence there is little doubt, and whom there is yet hope of seeing again.
“Of my life, from the time we parted, the history is mournful. The spring of last year deprived me of Thrale, a man whose eye for fifteen years had scarcely been turned upon me but with respect or tenderness; for such another friend, the general course of human things will not suffer man to hope. I passed the summer at Streathan, but there was no Thrale; and having idled away the summer with a weakly body and neglected mind, I made a journey to Staffordshire on the edge of winter. The season was dreary, I was sickly, and found the friends sickly whom I went to see. After a sorrowful sojourn, I returned to a habitation possessed for the present by two sick women, where my dear old friend, Mr. Levett, to whom, as he used to tell me, I owe your acquaintance, died a few weeks ago, suddenly, in his bed; there passed not, I believe, a minute between health and death. At night, at Mrs. Thrale's, as I was musing in my chamber, I thought with uncommon earnestness, that, however I might alter my mode of life, or whithersoever I might remove, I would endeavour to retain Levett about me; in the morning my servant brought me word that Levett was called to another state, a state for which, I think, he was not unprepared, for .he was very useful to the poor. How much soever I valued him, I now wish that I had valued him more.
“ I have myself been ill more than eight weeks of a disorder, from which, at the expense of about fifty ounces of blood, I hope I am now recovering.
“ You, dear Sir, have, I hope, a more cheerful scene; you see George fond of his book, and the pretty Misses airy and lively, with my own little Jenny, equal to the best; and in whatever can contribute to your quiet or pleasure, you have Lady Rothes ready to concur. May whatever you enjoy of good be increased, and whatever you suffer of evil be diminished. I am, dear Sir, your humble servant,