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1779. with yours, soon made all easy; and Mrs. Cobb and Ætat.
Miss Adey re-assumed their seats at the breakfast table, which they had quitted with some precipitation. They received me with the kindness of an old acquaintance ; and after we had joined in a cordial chorus to your praise, Mrs. Cobb gave me the high satisfaction of hearing that you said, “Boswell is a man who I believe never left a house without leaving a wish for his return.' And she afterwards added, that she bid you tell me, that if ever I came to Lichfield, she hoped I would take a bed at the Friery. From thence I drove to Peter Garrick's, 8 where I also found a very flattering wel
He appeared to me to enjoy his usual cheerfulness ; and he very kindly asked me to come when I could, and pass a week with him. From Mr. Garrick's, I went to the Palace to wait on Mr. Seward. I was first entertained by his lady and daughter, he himself being in bed with a cold, according to his valetudinary custom. But he desired to see me, and I found him dressed in his black gown, with a white flannel nightgown above it ; so that he looked like a Dominican friar. He was good-humoured and polite ; and under his roof too my reception was very pleasing. I then proceeded to Stow-hill, and first paid my respects to Mrs. Gastrell, whose conversation I was not willing to quit. But my sand-glass was now beginning to run low, as I could not trespass too long on the Colonel's kindness, who obligingly waited for me ; so I hastened to Mrs. Aston's,' whom I found much better than I feared I should ; and there I met a brother-in-law of these ladies, who talked much of you, and very well too, as it appeared to me. It then only remained to visit Mrs. Lucy Porter, which I did, I really believe, with sincere satisfaction on both sides. I am sure I was glad to see her again ; and, as I take her to be very honest, I trust she was glad to see me again ; for she expressed herself so, that I could not doubt of her being in earnest.
[This gentleman survived his brother David many years; and died at Lichfield, Dec. 12, 1795, ætat. 86. A. C.]
[A maiden sister of Johnson's favourite, Molly Aston, who married Captain , Brodie, of the Navy. M.}
What a great key-stone of kindness, my dear Sir, were 1779. you
that morning ! for we were all held together by our État. common attachment to you. I cannot say that I ever 70.
I passed two hours with more self-complacency than I did those two at Lichfield. Let me not entertain any suspicion that this is idle vanity. Will not you confirm me in my persuasion, that he who finds himself so regarded has just reason to be happy?
“ We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment. Colonel Stuart and his officers treat me with all the civility I could wish ; and I play my part admirably. Lætus aliis, sapiens sibi, the classical sentence which you, I imagine, invented the other day, is exemplified
I in my present existence. The Bishop, to whom I had the honour to be known several years ago, shews me much attention ; and I am edified by his conversation. I must not omit to tell you, that his Lordship admires, very highly, your Prefaces to the Poets. Iam daily obtaining an extension of agreeable acquaintance, so that I am kept in animated variety; and the study of the place itself, by the assistance of books, and of the Bishop, is sufficient occupation. Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I ever saw. But I will not enter upon it at all in this letter. “ How long I shall stay here I cannot yet say.
I told a very pleasing young lady,' niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw her, I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it. Do not think me too juvenile. I beg it of you, my dear Sir, to favour me with a letter while I am here, and add to the happiness of a happy friend, who is ever, with affectionate veneration,
“ Most sincerely yours,
“JAMES BOSWELL.” “ If you do not write directly, so as to catch me here, I shall be disappointed. Two lines from you will keep my lamp burning bright."
Miss Letitia Barnston.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ: Ætat. 70.
“Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends, to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he goes, and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If to the delight of such universal kindness of reception, any thing can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.
“I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success : the oftener you are seen, the more you will be liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.
“In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog that worries you at home ? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, enquire into the old tenures and old characters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages. The feudel system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of great anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of publick record ; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to image the economy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.2
“ We have, I think, once talked of another project, a History of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents. Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, has told what he could not find to be true.
• 2 I have a valuable collection made by my Father, which, with some additions and illustrations of my own, I intend to publish. I have some hereditary claim to be an Antiquary; not only from my Father, but as being descended, by the mother's side, from the able and learned Sir John Skene, whose merit bids defiance to all the attempts which have been made to lessen his fame.
“ You may make collections for either of these pro- 1779. . jects, or for both, as opportunities occur, and digest #tat.
. your materials at leisure. The great direction which 70. Burton has left to men disordered like you, is this, Be not solitary ; be not idle : which I would thus modify;
you are idle, be not solitary ; if you are solitary,
66 Your humble servant,
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
MY DEAR SIR,
Carlisle, Nov. 7, 1779. “ That I should importune you to write to me at Chester, is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight ; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nummi, increases in proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter, so full of polite kindness and masterly counsel, came like a large treasure upon me, while already glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circé ; for so far was there from being any thing sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only ; for my
was kept finely in play. And why not ?-if you please I will send you a copy, or an abridgement of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of
“The Bishop treated me with a kindness which was very flattering. I told him, that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester. His Lordship bade me tell I am proud to find the friendship with which you, that he should be glad to shew you more of it.
honour me is known in so many places.
“I arrived here late last night. Our friend the Dean, has been gone from hence some months ; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popular.) However, I found Mr. Law, the Archdeacon, son to the Bishop, and with him I have breakfasted and dined
1779. very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the Ætat, assizes here, about a year and a half ago ; he is a man
, 70. of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and,
I believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the Cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month ; and was at prayers there in the morning. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a Cathedral so near Auchinleck ; and I
: now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to God for granting me.
“ The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread ; yet as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet, I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines from you.
" Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to shew me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted. 3 In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her ; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the Post-Office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more, my dear Sir,
66 Your affectionate
“ James BoswELL."
" YOUR last letter was not only kind but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses,
3 His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order I should think a sufficient refutation of the idle rumour that “there was still something behind the throne greater than the throne itself,"