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CHAPTER VIII.

1784.

Burton's Books. Alderman Clark. Correspondence.

- Dr. Gillespie. Drs. Cullen, Hope, and Monro. - Divine Interposition. Lord Monboddo. Dr. Ross. George Steevens. — Mrs. Montagu. Burke's Conversation. Foote. - The Empress of Russia. Mrs. Thrale. Ecclesiastical Discipline. Fear of Death. Capel Lofft. - Thomas à Kempis. Dr. Douglas. - Editions of Horace. — Charles Fox.

And now I am arrived at the last year of the life of Samuel JohnSON; a year in which although passed in severe indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of those wonderous powers of mind which raised him so high in the intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were in no respect inferior to those of former years. The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most minute curiosities of literature. LETTER 448. TO MR. DILLY, BOOKSELLER, In the Poultry.

« Jan. 6. 1784. “ Sir, — There is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the booksellers on the bridge, and which I must entreat you to procure me. They are called Burton's Books (1): the title of one is · Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England.' I believe there are about five or six of them; they seem very proper to allure backward readers ; be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them with the best printed edition of " Baxter's Call to the Unconverted.' I am, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON.” LETTER 449. TO MR. PERKINS.

« Jan. 21. 1784. ? “ DEAR SIR, — I was very sorry not to see you when you were so kind as to call on me; but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good-natured, to disoblige them, is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured with another visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will take all the measures that I can to be pretty well at that time. I am, &c.

SAM. Johnson.” His attention to the Essex Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard. (2) LETTER 450. TO RICHARD CLARK, ESQ.

« Jan. 27. 1784. 1 - DEAR SIR, — You will receive a requisition, ac, cording to the rules of the club, to be at the house as president of the night. This turn comes once a month, and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You were inrolled in the club by my in. vitation, and I ought to introduce you ; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly supply my place as introductor, or yours as president. I

(1) These books are much more numerous than Johnson supposed.

(2) He died at Chertsey, January 16.1831, æt. 93. -C.

hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant, I am, Sir, &c.

SAM, JOHNSON. “ You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of threepence, that is, ninepence a-week.” · On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his health, and enclosing my “Letter to the People of Scotland on the Present State of the Nation.” “ I trust,” said I, “ that you will be liberal enough to make allowance for my differing from you on two points, [the Middlesex election and the American war,] when my general principles of government are according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of ministerial power.” LETTER 451. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.

“Feb. 11. 1784. “ DEAR SIR, — I hear of many inquiries which your kindness has disposed you to make after me. I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the imagination of its length hindered me from beginning. I will, therefore, content myself with a shorter.

“ Having promoted the institution of a new club in the neighbourhood, at the house of an old servant of Thrale's, I went thither to meet the company, and was seized with a spasmodic asthma, so violent, that with difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been

confined eight or nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground upon me: my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I should be content if I could keep there ; but I am afraid that it will soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious, and yet I am extremely afraid of dying.

“My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected from vernal breezes and summer suns. If my life is prolonged to autumn, I should be glad to try a warmer climate; though how to travel with a diseased body, without a companion to conduct me, and with very little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in Italy; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died ; but he was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.

“I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with disease his neglect of disputes, politics, and pamphlets. Let me have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and young ones. Ask your physicians about my case : and desire Sir Alexander Dick to write me his opinion. I am, dear, Sir, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON.”

LETTER 452. TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.

« Feb. 23. 1784. « MY DEAREST LOVE, — I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received by the mercy of God sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me. Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it: what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of God and the intercession of our Saviour. I am, &c.

“SAM. Johnson.”

LETTER 453. TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.

« London, Feb. 27. 1784. “ DEAR SIR, - I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet; and you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great indignation at the indecency with which the king is every day treated. Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the constitution, very properly produced and applied. It will certainly raise your character (1), though perhaps it may not make you a minister of state.

- I desire you to see Mrs. Stewart once again, and tell her, that in the letter-case was a letter relating to me, for which I will give her, if she is willing to give it me, another guinea. The letter is of consequence only to me. I am, dear Sir, &c.

“ Sam. JOANSON." In consequence of Johnson's request that I should ask our physicians about his case, and desire Sir

(1) « Letter to the People of Scotland on the present State of the Nation." I sent it to Mr. Pitt, with a letter, in which I thus expressed myself: -- My principles may appear to you too monarchical; but I know and am persuaded they are not inconsistent with the true principles of liberty. Be this as it may, you, Sir, are now the prime minister, called by the sovereign to maintain the rights of the crown, as well as those of the people, against a violent faction. As such, you are entitled to the warmest support of every good subject in every department.” He answered, “ I am extremely obliged to you for the sentiments you do me the honour to express, and have observed with great pleasure the zealous and able support given to the cause of the public in the work you were so good to transmit to

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