« ZurückWeiter »
ever, desirous to examine the question closely, and at 1779. the same time wished to be made acquainted with Mr. John Wesley; for though I differed from him in some 70. points, I admired his various talents, and loved his pious zeal.
At my request, therefore, Dr. Johnson gave me a letter of introduction to him.
TO THE REVEREND MR. JOHN WESLEY.
“ MR. Boswell, a gentleman who has been long known to ine, is desirous of being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him with great willingness, because, I think it very much to be wished that worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other.
“ I am, Sir,
66 Your most humble servant, May 3, 1779.
“ SAM. Johnson."
Mr. Wesley being in the course of his ministry at Edinburgh, I presented this letter to him, and was very politely received. I begged to have it returned to me, which was accordingly done.-His state of the evidence as to the ghost, did not satisfy me.
I did not write to Johnson, as usual, upon my return to my family : but tried how he would be affected by
Mr. Dilly sent me a copy of a note which he received from him on the 13th of July, in these words :
TO MR. DILLY.
“SINCE Mr. Boswell's departure I have never heard from him; please to send word what you know of him, and whether you have sent my books to his lady. I am, &c.
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
My readers will not doubt that his solicitude about me was very flattering. VOL. III.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. Ætat.
DEAR SIR, 70.
“ What can possibly have happened, that keeps us two such strangers to each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home ; I expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned and yet there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill I hope has happened ; and if ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves you? Is it a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold out longest without writing ? If it be, you have the victory. But I am afraid of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.
My thoughts are at present employed in guessing
“ I am, dear Sir,
“ SAM. JOHNSON.”
MY DEAR SIR, Edinburgh, July 17, 1779.
“ What may be justly denominated a supine indolence of mind has been my state of existence
since I last returned to Scotland. In a livelier state I had often suffered severely from long intervals of silence on your part ; and I had even been chid by you for expressing my uneasiness. I was willing to take advantage of my insensibility, and while I could bear the experiment, to try whether your affection for me, would, after an unusual silence on my part, make you write first. This afternoon I have had very high satisfaction by receiving your kind letter of enquiry, for which I most gratefully thank you. I am doubtful if it was right to make the experiment; though I have gained by it. I was beginning to grow tender, and to upbraid myself, especially after having dreamt two nights ago that I was
with you. I and my wife, and my four children, are 1779.
I all well. I would not delay one post to answer your Ætat. letter ; but as it is late, I have not time to do more. 70. You shall soon hear from me, upon many and various particulars ; and I shall never again put you to any test. I am, with veneration, my dear Sir,
“ Your much obliged,
“ James Bos WELL."
On the 22d of July, I wrote to him again ; and gave him an account of my last interview with my worthy friend, Mr. Edward Dilly, at his brother's house at Southill in Bedfordshire, where he died soon after I parted from him, leaving me a very kind remembrance of his regard.
I informed him that Lord Hailes, who had promised to furnish him with some anecdotes for his " Lives of the Poets,” had sent me three instances of Prior's borrowing from Gombauld, in “ Recueil des Poetes,” tome 3. Epigram “ To John I owed 'great obligation,” p. 25. “ To the Duke of Noailles," p. 32.
66 Sauntering Jack and idle Joan,” p. 25.
My letter was a pretty long one, and contained a va. riety of particulars; but he, it should seem, had not attended to it; for his next to me was as follows:
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
MY DEAR SIR,
“ Are you playing the same trick again, and trying who can keep silence longest ? Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish : and that it is as foolish to make experiments upon the constancy of a friend, as upon the chastity of a wife.
“ What can be the cause of this second fit of silence, I cannot conjecture ; but after one trick, I will not be
; cheated by another, nor will harass my thoughts with conjectures about the motives of a man who, probably, acts only by caprice. I therefore suppose you are well, and that Mrs. Boswell is well too : and that the fine
1779. summer has restored Lord Auchinleck. I am much
better than you left me ; I think I am better than 70. when I was in Scotland. “ I forgot whether I informed
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, “Streatham, Sept. 9, 1779. 66 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 author afterwards gave to Mr. Malone. M.]
2 In one of his manuscript Diaries, there is the following entry, 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 proximan et cutem pectoris circa mamillam dextram rasi ut notum fieret quanto temporis pili rezovarentur.
And, “ Aug. 15, 1783. I cut from the vine 41 leaves, which weighed five oz. and a half and eight scruples :-I lay them upon my book-case, to see what weight they will lose by drying."
On the 20th of September I defended myself against 1779. his suspicion of me, which I did not deserve ; and
Ætat. Pray, let us write frequently. A whim strikes 70. 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 handwriting 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 publickspirited 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 London 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 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