« AnteriorContinuar »
"You do not take the least notice of my proposal for our meeting at Carlisle. Though I have meritoriously refrained from visiting London this year, I ask you if it would not be wrong that I should be two years without having the benefit of your conversation, when, if you come down as far as Derbyshire, we may meet at the expense of a few days' journeying, and not many pounds. I wish you to see Carlisle, which made me mention that place. But if you have not a desire to complete your tour of the English cathedrals, I will take a larger share of the road between this place and Ashbourne. So tell me where you will fix for our passing a few days by ourselves. Now don't cry 'foolish fellow,' or 'idle dog.' Chain your humour and let your kindness play.
"You will rejoice to hear that Miss Macleod, of Rasay, is married to Colonel Mure Campbell, an excellent man, with a pretty good estate of his own, and the prospect of having the Earl of Loudon's fortune and honours. Is not this a noble lot for our fair Hebridean? How happy am I that she is to be in Ayrshire. We shall have the Laird of Rasay, and old Malcolm, and I know not how many gallant Macleods, and bagpipes, &c. &c., at Auchinleck. Perhaps you may meet them all there.
"Without doubt you have read what is called The Life of David Hume, written by himself, with the letter from Dr. Adam Smith subjoined to it. Is not this an age of daring effrontery? My friend Mr. Anderson,2 Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow, at whose house you and I supped, and to whose care Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, was intrusted at that University, paid me a visit lately; and after we had talked with indignation and contempt of the poisonous productions with which this age is infested, he said there was now an excellent opportunity for Dr. Johnson to step forth. I agreed with him that you might knock Hume's and Smith's heads together, and make vain and ostentatious infidelity exceedingly ridiculous. Would it not be worth your while to crush such noxious weeds in the moral garden?
"You have said nothing to me of Dr. Dodd. I know not how you think on that subject; though the newspapers give us a saying of yours in favour of mercy to him. But I own I am very desirous that the royal prerogative of remission of punishment should be employed to exhibit an illustrious instance of the regard which GOD'S VICEGERENT will ever show to piety and virtue. If for ten righteous men the ALMIGHTY would have spared Sodom, shall not a thousand acts of goodness done by Dr. Dodd counterbalance one crime?
1 Dr. Johnson had himself talked of our seeing Carlisle together. High was a favourite word of his to denote a person of rank. He said to me, "Sir, I believe we may meet at the house of a Roman Catholic lady in Cumberland; a high lady, Sir." I afterwards discovered that he meant Mrs. Strickland, sister of Charles Townley, Esq., whose very noble collection of statues and pictures is not more to be admired than his extraordinary and polite readiness in showing it, which I and several of my friends have agreeably experienced. They who are possessed of valuable stores of gratification to persons of taste, should exercise their benevolence in imparting the pleasure. Grateful acknowledgments are due to Welbore Ellis Agar, Esq., for the liberal access which he is pleased to allow to his exquisite collection of pictures. -BOSWELL.
Mr.John Anderson was the founder of an educational institution in Glasgow, denominated "The Andersonian University," established for the use of unacademical classes. He was born at Roseneath, co. Dumbarton, in 1726, and died in 1796.-Ed.
Such an instance would do more to encourage goodness than his execution would do to deter from vice. I am not afraid of any bad consequence to society; for who will persevere for a long course of years in a distinguished discharge of religious duties, with a view to commit a forgery with impunity?
"Pray make my best compliments acceptable to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, by assuring them of my hearty joy that the Master, as you call him, is alive. I hope I shall often taste his champagne-soberly.
"I have not heard from Langton for a long time; I suppose he is as usual, 'Studious the busy moments to deceive.'
"I remain, my dear Sir, your most affectionate
On the 23rd of June I again wrote to Dr. Johnson, enclosing a shipmaster's receipt for a jar of orange marmalade, and a large packet of Lord Hailes's "Annals of Scotland."
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
June 28, 1777. "I have just received your packet from Mr. Thrale's, but have not daylight enough to look much into it. I am glad that I have credit enough with Lord Hailes to be trusted with more copy. I hope to take more care of it than of the last. I return Mrs. Boswell my affectionate thanks for her present, which I value as a token of reconciliation.
"Poor Dodd was put to death yesterday, in opposition to the recommendation of the jury-the petition of the city of London-and a subsequent petition signed by three-and-twenty thousand hands. Surely the voice of the public, when it calls so loudly, and only for mercy, ought to be heard.
"The saying that was given me in the papers I never spoke; but I wrote many of his petitions, and some of his letters. He applied to me very often. He was, I am afraid, long flattered with hopes of life; but I had no part in the dreadful delusion; for as soon as the king had signed his sentence, I obtained from Mr. Chamier an account of the disposition of the court towards him, with a declaration that there was no hope even of a respite. This letter immediately was laid before Dodd; but he believed those whom he wished to be right, as it is thought, till within three days of his end. He died with pious composure and resolution. I have just seen the ordinary that attended him. His address to his fellow-convicts offended the Methodists; but he had a Moravian with him much of his time. His moral character is very bad: I hope all is not true that is charged upon him. Of his behaviour in prison an account will be published.
"I give you joy of your country-house and your pretty garden: and hope some time to see you in your felicity. I was much pleased with your two
letters that had been kept so long in store; and rejoice at Miss Rasay's advancement, and wish Sir Allan success.
"I hope to meet you somewhere towards the north, but am loth to come quite to Carlisle. Can we not meet at Manchester? But we will settle it in some other letters.
"Mr. Seward, a great favourite at Streatham, has been, I think, enkindled by our travels with a curiosity to see the Highlands. I have given him letters to you and Beattie. He desires that a lodging may be taken for him at Edinburgh, against his arrival. He is just setting out.
"Langton has been exercising the militia. Mrs. Williams is, I fear, declining. Dr. Lawrence says he can do no more. She is gone to summer in the country, with as many conveniences about her as she can expect; but I have no great hope. We must all die: may we all be prepared!
"I suppose Miss Boswell reads her book, and young Alexander takes to his learning. Let me hear about them; for everything that belongs to you, belongs in a more remote degree, and not, I hope, very remote, to, dear Sir,
1 Since they have been so much honoured by Johnson, I shall here insert them :
"TO ME. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
"Sunday, Sept. 30, 1764.
"MY EVER DEAR AND MUCH RESPECTED SIR,
"You know my solemn enthusiasm of mind. You love me for it, and I respect myself for it, because in so far as I resemble Mr. Johnson, You will be agreeably surprised when you learn the reason of my writing this letter. I am at Wittemberg, in Saxony. I am in the old church where the Reformation was first preached, and where some of the Reformers lie interred. I cannot resist the serious pleasure of writing to Mr. Johnson from the tomb of Melancthon. My paper rests upon the grave-stone of that great and good man, who was undoubtedly the worthiest of all the Reformers. He wished to reform abuses which had been introduced into the Church; but had no private resentment to gratify. So mild was he, that when his aged mother consulted him with anxiety on the perplexing disputes of the times, he advised her 'to keep to the old religion. At this tomb, then, my ever dear and respected friend, I vow to thee an eternal attachment. It shall be my study to do what I can to render your life happy; and if you die before me, I shall endeavour to do honour to your memory; and, elevated by the remembrance of you, persist in noble piety. May God, the father of all beings, ever bless you, and may you continue to love
"Your most affectionate friend and devoted servant,
TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
"MY DEAR SIR,
Wilton-house, April 22, 1775. "Every scene of my life confirms the truth of what you have told me, 'there is no certain happiness in this state of being. I am here, amidst all that you know is at Lord Pembroke's⚫ and yet I am weary and gloomy. I am just setting out for the house of an old friend in Devonshire, and shall not get back to London for a week yet. You said to me last Good Friday, with a cordiality that warmed my heart, that if I came to settle in London, we should have a day fixed every week to meet by ourselves and talk freely. To be thought worthy of such a privilege cannot but exalt me. During my present absence from you, while, notwithstanding the gaiety which you allow me to possess, I am darkened by temporary clouds, I beg to have a few lines from you-a few lines merely of kindness, as a viaticum till I see you again. In your 'Vanity of Human Wishes,' and in Parnell's 'Contentment,' I find the only sure means of enjoying happiness; or, at least, the hopes of happiness. I ever am, with reverence and affection, most faithfully yours, JAMES BOSWELL." 2 William Seward, Esq., F.R.S., editor of "Anecdotes of some Distinguished Persons,"
TO THE SAME.
June 24, 1777.
"This gentleman is a great favourite at Streatham, and therefore you will easily believe that he has very valuable qualities. Our narrative has kindled him with a desire of visiting the Highlands after having already seen a great part of Europe. You must receive him as a friend, and, when you have directed him to the curiosities of Edinburgh, give him instructions and recommendations for the rest of his journey. I am, dear Sir, "Your most humble servant, "SAM. JOHNSON."
Johnson's benevolence to the unfortunate was, I am confident, as steady and active as that of any of those who have been most eminently distinguished for that virtue. Innumerable proofs of it I have no doubt will be for ever concealed from mortal eyes. We may, however, form some judgment of it from the many and very various instances which have been discovered. One, which happened in the course of this summer, is remarkable from the name and connection of the person who was the object of it. The circumstance to which I allude is ascertained by two letters, one to Mr. Langton, and another to the Reverend Dr. Vyse, rector of Lambeth, son of the respectable clergyman at Lichfield, who was contemporary with Johnson, and in whose father's family Johnson had the happiness of being kindly received in his early years.
"DR. JOHNSON TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. "DEAR SIR,
June 29, 1777. "I have lately been much disordered by a difficulty of breathing, but am now better. I hope your house is well.
"You know we have been talking lately of St. Cross, at Winchester; I have an old acquaintance whose distress makes him very desirous of an hospital, and I am afraid I have not strength enough to get him into the Chartreux. He is a painter, who never rose higher than to get his immediate living, and from that, at eighty-three, he is disabled by a slight stroke of the palsy, such as does not make him at all helpless on common occasions, though his hand is not steady enough for his art.
"My request is, that you will try to obtain a promise of the next vacancy from the Bishop of Chester. It is not a great thing to ask, and I hope we shall obtain it. Dr. Warton has promised to favour him with his notice, and I hope he may end his days in peace.
"I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
&c., in four volumes 8vo., well known to a numerous and valuable acquaintance for his literature, love of the fine arts, and social virtues. I am indebted to him for several com. munications concerning Johnson-Boswell.
This gentleman, who was born in 1747, and was educated at the Charter-house, and at Oxford, died in London, April 24, 1799.-MALONE.
"TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.
July 9, 1777.
"SIR, "I doubt not but you will readily forgive me for taking the liberty of requesting your assistance in recommending an old friend to his Grace the Archbishop as Governor of the Charter-house.
"His name is De Groot; he was born at Gloucester. I have known him many years. He has all the common claims to charity, being old, poor, and infirm in a great degree. He has likewise another claim, to which no scholar can refuse attention; he is by several descents the nephew of Hugo Grotius; of him, from whom perhaps every man of learning has learnt something. Let it not be said that in any lettered country a nephew of Grotius asked a charity and was refused. I am, Reverend Sir, your most humble servant,
"TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.
66 'July 22, 1777.
"IF any notice should be taken of the recommendation which I took the liberty of sending you, it will be necessary to know that Mr. De Groot is to be found at No. 8, in Pye-street, Westminster. This information, when I wrote, I could not give you; and being going soon to Lichfield, think it necessary to be left behind me. More I will not say. You will want no persuasion to succour the nephew of Grotius. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
66 THE REVEREND DR. VYSE TO MR. BOSWELL.
Lambeth, June 9, 1777.
"SIR, "I have searched in vain for the letter which I spoke of, and which I wished, at your desire, to communicate to you. It was from Dr. Johnson, to return me thanks for my application to Archbishop Cornwallis in favour of poor De Groot.' He rejoices at the success it met with, and is lavish in the praise he bestows upon his favourite, Hugo Grotius. I am really sorry that I cannot ind this letter, as it is worthy of the writer. That which I send you enclosed,2 is at your service. It is very short, and will not perhaps be thought of any consequence, unless you should judge proper to consider it as a proof of the very humane part which Dr. Johnson took in behalf of a distressed and deserving person. I am, Sir,
"Your most obedient humble servant,
1 Through the benevolent intercession of Dr. Johnson, aided by Dr. Vyse, poor De Groot was admitted as a gentleman pensioner into the Charter-house, where he died in 1779.-ED. 2 The preceding letter.-BoSWELL.
3 Dr. Vyse, at my request, was so obliging as once more to endeavour to recover the letter of Johnson, to which he alludes, but without success; for April 23, 1800, he wrote to me thus: I have again searched, but in vain, for one of his letters, in which he speaks, in his own nervous style, of Hugo Grotius.-De Groot was clearly a descendant of the family of Grotius, and Archbishop Cornwallis willingly complied with Dr. Johnson's request."—MALONE,