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" The difference between us and the blind man is this:--the blind man is 1-83. unconvinced, because he cannot see; and we, because though we can see, we Atat. 77. find that nothing can be shown.”
Notwithstanding the complication of disorders under which Johnson now laboured, he did not resign himself to despondency and discontent, but with wisdom and spirit endeavoured to console and amuse his mind with as many innocent enjoyments as he could procure. Sir John Hawkins has mentioned the cordiality with which he insisted that such of the members of the old club in Ivy-lane as survived should meet again and dine together, which they did, twice at a tavern, and once at his house: and in order to insure himself society in the evening for three days in the week, he instituted a Club at the Essex Head, in Esex-street, then kept by Samuel Greaves, an old servant of Mr. Thrale's.
To Sir Joshua REYNOLDS. « DEAR SIR,
“ IT is inconvenient to me to come out, I should else have waited
“ If you are willing to become a member, draw a line under your name.
It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this Club. But when I mention only
· I was in Scotland when this Club was founded, and during all the winter. Johnson, however, declared I should be a member, and invented a word upon the occasion : “ Boswell (faid he! is a very clubable man.” When I came to town I was proposed by Mr. Barrington, and chosen. I believe there are few societies where there is better conversation or more decorum. Several of us resolved to continue it after our great founder was removed by death. Other members were added; and now, above six years since that loss, we go on happily.
association, by which Johnson was degraded. Johnson himself, like his
In the end of this year he was seized with a spasmodick asthma of such
To-day deep thoughts with me resolve to drench
“ In mirth, which after no repenting draws." MILTON. “ The Club shall consist of four-and-twenty.
“ The meetings shall be on the Monday, Thursday, and Saturday of every week; but in the
Every member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not oftener.
“ Every member present at the Club shall spend at least fix-pence; and every member who
“ The master of the house Niall keep an account of the absent members; and deliver to the President of the night a list of the forfeits incurred.
" When any member returns after absence, he shall immediately lay down his forfeits; which if he omits to do, the President shall require.
“ There shall be no general reckoning, but every man shall adjust his own expences.
“ The night of indispensable attendance will come to every member once a month. Whoever shall for three months together omit to attend himself, or by substitution, nor shall make any apology in the fourth month, fall be considered as having abdicated the Club.
“ When a vacancy is to be filled, the name of the candidate, and of the member recommend
“ The master of the house shall give notice, fix days before, to each of those members whose
“ One penny shall be left by each member for the waiter."
Johnfon's definition of a Club in this sense in his Dictionary is, “ An assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions."
ill that she could contribute very little to his relief. He, however, had none of that unsocial shyness which we commonly see in people afficted with sickness. He did not hide his head in abstraction; he did not deny himself to the visits of his friends and acquaintances; but at all times, when he was not overcome by Neep, was ready for conversation as in his best days.
To Mrs. Lucy PORTER, in Lichfield. « DEAR MADAM,
“ YOU may perhaps think me negligent that I have not written to you again upon the loss of your brother; but condolences and confolations are such common and such useless things, that the omission of them is no great crime; and my own diseases occupy my mind, and engage my care. My nights are miserably restlefs, and my days, therefore, are heavy. I try, however, to hold up my head as high as I can.
“ I am sorry that your health is impaired; perhaps the spring and the summer may, in some degree, restore it; but if not, we must submit to the inconveniencies of time, as to the other dispensations of Eternal Goodness. Pray for me, and write to me, or let Mr. Pearson write for
I am, &c. • London, Nov. 29, 1783.
And now I am arrived at the last year of the life of SAMUEL Johnson, 1784. a year in which, although passed in severe indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of those wondrous powers of mind, which raised him so high in the intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were in no respect inferiour to those of former years.
The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most minute curiosities of literature.
“ THERE is in the world a set of books, which used to be fold by the booksellers on the bridge, and which I must entreat you to procure me. They are called, Burton's Books; the title of one is, xidmirable 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. « Jan, 6, 1784.
. His attention to the Effex Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard.
T. RICHARD CLARK, Esq. « DEAR SIR,
“ YOU will receive a requisition, according 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 enrolled in the Club by my invitation, 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 hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant. I am, Sir, &c. “ Jan. 27, 1784.
SAM. JOHNSON. « You ought to be informed, that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulet of three-pence, that is, nine-pence 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 (faid 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 honeft zeal as an ancient and faithful Baron. 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."
TO JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. « 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 spasmodick asthma so violent, that with difficulty
I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, 1784.
“My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect
“ 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, politicks, 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. « Feb. 11, 1784.
To Mrs. Lucy PORTER, in Lichfield. « MY DEAREST LOVE,
“ I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropfy, but received,, by the mercy of God, sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water. Whether I fhall 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 interceffion of our Saviour. I am, dear Madam,
“ Your most humble servant, • Feb. 23, 1784.