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and incurable; but it is only occasional, and unless it be excited by labour or
younger than he was ? He was not much less than eighty, when to a man
“ The ladies, I find, are at your house all well, except Miss Langton, who will probably soon recover her health by light suppers. Let her eat at dinner as she will, but not take a full stomach to bed. Páy my sincere respects to the two principal ladies in your house; and when you write to dear Miss. Langton in Lincolnshire, let her know that I mean not to break our league of friendship, and that I have a set of Lives for her, when I have the means of sending it.”
April 8. “I am still disturbed by my cough; but what thanks have I not to pay, when my cough is the most painful sensation that I feel? and from that I expect hardly to be released, while winter continues to gripe us with so much pertinacity. The year has now advanced eighteen days beyond the equinox, and still there is very little remission of the cold. When warm weather comes, which surely must come at last, I hope it will help both me and your young lady.
“ The man so busy about addresses is neither more nor less than our own Boswell, who had come as far as York towards London, but turned back on the dissolution, and is said now to stand for some place. Whether to wish him success, his best friends hesitate.
“ Let me have your prayers for the completion of my recovery: I am
April 13. “ I had this evening a note from Lord Portmore ', defiring that
To which Johnson returned this answer :
To the Right Honourable Earl of PORTMORE. “ DR. JOHNSON acknowledges with great respect the honour of Lord Portmore's notice. He is better than he was; and will, as his Lordhip directs, write to Mr. Langton.” Bolt-court, Fleet-ftreet, Apr. 13, 1784." I
1784. less circumduction. I am, by God's blefling, I believe, free from all morbid Ætat. 75. sensations, except a cough, which is only troublesome. But I am still weak,
and can have no great hope of strength till the weather shall be softer. The summer, if it be kindly, will, I hope, enable me to support the winter, God, who has so wonderfully restored me, can preserve me in all seasons.
“ Let me enquire in my turn after the state of your family, great and little. I hope Lady Rothes and Miss Langton are both well. That is a good basis of content. Then how goes George on with his studies? How does Miss Mary? And how does my own Jenny? I think I owe Jenny a letter, which I will take care to pay. In the mean time tell her that I acknowledge the debt.
“ Be pleased to make my compliments to the ladies. If Mrs. Langton comes to London, she will favour me with a visit, for I am not well enough
« Mr. Hoole has told me with what benevolence you listened to a request which I was almost afraid to make, of leave to a young painter ? to attend
from time to time in your painting-room, to see your operations, and receive your instructions.
« The young man has perhaps good parts, but has been without a regular education. He is my god-son, and therefore I interest myself in his progress and success, and shall think myself much favoured if I receive from you a permission to send him.
My health is, by God's blessing, much restored, but I am not yet allowed by my physicians to go abroad; nor, indeed, do I think myfelf yet able to endure the weather, I am, Sir, your most humble servant, « April 5. 1784.
6 The eminent painter, representative of the ancient family of Homfrey (now spelt Humphry) in the west of England; who, as appears from their arms which they have invariably used, have been (as I have seen authenticated by the best authority) one of those among the Knights and Esquires of honour who are represented by Holingshead as having issued from the Tower of London on coursers apparelled for the justes, accompanied by ladies of honour, leading every one a Knight, with a chain of gold, passing through the streets of London into Smithfield, on Sunday at three o'clock in the afternoon, being the first Sunday after Michaelmas, in the fourteenth year of King Richard the Second. This family once enjoyed large poffeffions, but, like others, have lost them in the progress of ages. Their blood, however, remains to them well ascertained ; and they may hope, in the revolution of events, to recover that rank in society for which, in modern times, fortune seems to be an indispensable requisite: Son of Mr. Samuel Paterson, eminent for his knowledge of books.
“ THE bearer is my godfon, whom I take the liberty of recommending to your kindness; which I hope he will deserve by his respect to your excellence, and his gratitude for your favours. I am, Sir,
" Your most humble servant, « April 10, 1784.
“ SAM. Johnson.”
“ I am very much obliged by your civilities to my god-fon, but
6. Your humble servant,
To the Reverend Dr. TAYLOR, Afbbourne, Derbyshire. " DEAR SIR,
« WHAT can be the reason that I hear nothing from you? I hope nothing disables you from writing. What I have seen, and what I have felt, gives me reason to fear every thing. Do not omit giving me the comfort of knowing, that after all my loffes I have yet a friend left.
« I want every comfort. My life is very solitary and very cheerless. Though it has pleased God wonderfully to deliver me from the dropsy, I am yet very weak, and have not passed the door since the 1 3th of December. I hope for fome help from warm weather, which will surely come in time.
“ I could not have the consent of the physicians to go to church yesterday; I therefore received the holy Sacrament at home, in the room where I communicated with dear Mrs. Williams, a little before her death. O! my friend, the approach of death is very dreadful. I am afraid to think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is vain to look round and round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy that he who has lived to-day may live to-morrow. But let us learn to derive our hope only from GOD,
-1784. " In the mean time, let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now Ætat. 75. living, but you and Mr. Hector, that was the friend of my youth. Do not
neglect, dear Sir, yours affectionately,
What follows is a beautiful specimen of his gentleness and complacency to a young lady his god-child, one of the daughters of his friend Mr. Langton, then I think in her seventh year. He took the trouble to write it in a large round hand, nearly resembling printed characters, that she might have the satisfaction of reading it herself. The original lies before me, but shall be faithfully restored to her; and I dare say will be preserved by her as a jewel as long as she lives.
To Miss JANE LANGTON, in Rochester, Kent. « MY DEAREST Miss JENNY,
“ I am sorry that your pretty letter has been so long without being answered; but, when I am not pretty well, I do not always write plain enough for
young ladies. I am glad, my dear, to see that you write so well, and hope that you
your pen, your book, and your needle, for they are all necessary. Your books will give you knowledge, and make you respected; and
your needle will find you useful employment when you do not care to read. When you are a little older, I hope you will be very diligent in learning arithmetick; and, above all, that through your whole life you will carefully Tay your prayers, and read your bible. I am, my dear,
- Your most humble servant, “ May 10, 1784.
On Wednesday, May 5, I arrived in London, and next morning had the pleasure to find Dr. Johnson greatly recovered. I but just saw him; for a coach was waiting to carry him to Inington, to the house of his friend the Reverend Mr. Strahan, where he went fometimes for the benefit of good air, which, notwithstanding his having formerly laughed at the general opinion upon the subject, he now acknowledged was conducive to health.
One morning afterwards, when I found him alone, he communicated to me, with folemn earnestness, a very remarkable circumstance which had happened in the course of his illness, when he was much distressed by the dropsy. He had shut himself up, and employed a day in particular exercises
of religion,-fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On a sudden he obtained 1784. extraordinary relief, for which he looked up to heaven with grateful devo- Ætat. 75. tion. He made.no direct inference from this fact; but from his manner of telling it, I could perceive that it appeared to him as something more than an incident in the common course of events. For my own part, I have no difficulty to avow that cast of thinking, which by many modern pretenders to wisdom, is called superstitious. But here I think even men of pretty dry rationality may believe, that there was an intermediate interposition of divine Providence, and that “the fervent prayer of this righteous man” availed R.
On Sunday, May 9, I found Colonel Vallancy, the celebrated antiquarian and engineer of Ireland, with him. On Monday the roth I dined with him at Mr. Paradise's, where was a large company; Mr. Bryant, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Hawkins Browne, &c. On Thursday the 13th I dined with him at Mr. Joddrel's, with another large company; the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Monboddo', Mr. Murphy, &c.
On Saturday, May 15, I dined with him at Dr. Brocklesby's, where were ColonelVallancy, Mr. Murphy, and that ever-cheerful companion Mr. Devaynes, apothecary to his Majesty. Of these days, and others on which I saw him, I have no memorials, except the general recollection of his being able and animated in conversation, and appearing to relish society as much as the youngest man.
& Upon this subject there is a very fair and judicious remark in the Life of Dr. Abernethy, in the first edition of the Biographia Britannica, which I should have been glad to see in his Life which has been written for the second edition of that valuable work, “ To deny the exercise of a particular providence in the Deity's government of the world is certainly impious : yet nothing ferves the cause of the scorner more than an incautious forward zeal in determining the particular instances of it."
In confirmation of my sentiments, I am also happy to quote that sensible and elegant writer Mr. Melmoth, in Letter VIII. of his collection, published under the name of Fitzasborne. may safely assert, that the belief of a particular Providence is founded upon such probable reasons as may well justify our assent. It would scarce, therefore, be wise to renounce an opinion which affords so firm a support to the soul, in those seasons wherein the stands in most need of assistance, merely because it is not possible, in questions of this kind, to solve every difficulty which attends them.”
9 I was sorry to observe Lord Monboddo avoid any communication with Dr. Johnson. I flattered myfelf that I had made them very good friends, (see " Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," third edition, page 67,) but unhappily his Lordship had resumed and cherished a violent prejudice against my illuftrious friend, to whom I must do the justice to say, there was on his part not the leaft anger, but a good-humoured sportiveness. Nay, though he knew of his Lordship’s disposition towards him, he was even kindly; as appeared from his inquiring of me after him, by an abbreviation of his name, “ Well, how does Monny?" VOL. II. Rrr