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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.




“ IT is inconvenient to me to come out, I should else have waited
on you with an account of a little evening Club which we are establishing in
Effex-street, in the Strand, and of which you are desired to be one. It will
be held at the Effex Head, now kept by an old servant of Thrale’s. The
company is numerous, and, as you will see by the list, miscellaneous. The
terms are lax, and the expences light. Mr. Barry was adopted by Dr.
Brocklesby, who joined with me in forming the plan. We meet thrice a
week, and he who misses forfeits two-pence.

“ If you are willing to become a member, draw a line under your name.
Return the list. We meet for the first time on Monday at eight. I am, &c.
“ Dec. 4, 1783.

SAM. Johnson.

It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this Club. But when I mention only
Mr. Daines Barrington, Dr. Brocklesby, Mr. Murphy, Mr.Cooke, Mr. Joddrel,
Mr. Paradise, Dr. Horney, Mr. Windham', I shall sufficiently obviate the mil-
representation of it by Sir John Hawkins, as if it had been a low ale-house

· 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.




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Ætat. 74•

association, by which Johnson was degraded. Johnson himself, like his
name-fake Old Ben, composed the Rules of his Club'.

In the end of this year he was seized with a spasmodick asthma of such
violence, that he was confined to the house in great pain, being sometimes
obliged to fit all night in his chair, à recumbent posture being so hurtful to
his respiration, that he could not endure lying in bed; and there came upon
him at the same time that oppressive and fatal disease, a dropsy. It was a
very severe winter, which probably aggravated his complaints ; and the
solitude in which Mr. Levett and Mrs. Williams had left him, rendered
his life very gloomy. Mrs. Desmoulins, who still lived, was herself so very

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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
week before Easter there shall be no meeting.

Every member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not oftener.
“ Two members shall oblige themselves to attend in their turn every night from eight to ten,
or to procure two to attend in their room.

“ Every member present at the Club shall spend at least fix-pence; and every member who
stays away fall forfeit three-pence.

“ 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
ing him, shall stand in the Club-room three nights. On the fourth he may be chosen by ballot ;
fix members, at least, being present, and two-thirds of the ballot being in his favour ; or the
majority, Mould the numbers not be divisible by three.

“ The master of the house shall give notice, fix days before, to each of those members whose
turn of necessary attendance is come.
“ The notice may be in these words :- Sir, On


will be your turn of presiding at the Essex Head. Your company is therefore earnestly

“ 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."



Ætat. 74

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.

SAM. JOHNson.”

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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.

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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.

SAM. Johnson.



Ætat. 75:

. 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.


“ 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."


“ 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

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I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, 1784.
and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. Ætat. 75.
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 Neepless 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, 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.

Sam. Johnson.”

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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.



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