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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
left me; I think I am better than when I was in Scotland. “ I forgot whether I informed you
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 Dryden' 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 Brighthelmstone, 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; 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, c Streatham, Sept. 9, 1779.”
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
My readers will not be displeased at being told every slight circumstance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his solitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometimes in watering and pruning a vine, sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile should recollect that they are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifles. 2
1 Which I communicated to him from his Lordship, but it has not yet been published. I have a copy of it.
[The few notices concerning Dryden, which Lord Hailes had collected, the authour afterwards gave to Mr. Malone. M.]
2 In one of his manuscript Diaries, there is the following entry,
On the 20th of September I defended myself against his suspicion of me, which I did not deserve; and added, “ Pray let us write frequently. A whim strikes me, that we should send off a sheet 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 sent 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 Lon, don 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
which marks his curious minute attention : “ 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.”
Another of the same kind appears, “Aug. 7,1779, Partem brachii dextri carpo proximam et cutem pectoris circa mamillam dextram rasi, ut notum fieret quanto temporis pili renovarentur.”
And, “ Aug. 15, 1783. I cut from the vine 41 leaves, which weighed five oz. and a half and eight scruples :- I lay them upen. 2ny bookcase, to see what weight they will lose by drying.”
informed my illustrious friend, 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 bed-side, and expressed his satisfaction 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 splendour."
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 there 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 burdensome.”
On Sunday, October 10, we dined together at Mr. Strahan’s. The conversation having turned on the prevailing practice of going to the East-Indies in quest of wealth ;-Jounson. - 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 must 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 shewed 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 bed-chamber.'
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 so 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 who cannot get work. A particular kind of manufacture fails: those who have 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.'
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 shan't go to prayers to-night; I shall go tomorrow: whenever 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 literary curiosity."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ DEAR SIR,
“ In the year 1763, being at London, I was carried by Dr. John 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. Mam caulay, and two or three more. The conversation turning on Mr. Pope, Lord Bathurst told us, that • The Essay on Man' was originally composed by Lord Bolingbroke in prose, 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 information ;
1 The Rev. 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 “Essay 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 poßeasloy (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 as more full. Let me add to it that of Dr. Joseph Warton; “ The late Lord Bathurst repeatedly assured me that he had read the whole scheme of the Essay on Man,' in the hand-writing of Bolingbroke, and drawn up in a series of propositions, which Pope was to versify and il. lustrate." Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, vol. ii. p. 62.