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whether memory, judgment, or imagination, was not in the least abated; for this year came out the first four volumes of his “ Prefaces, biographical and critical, to the most eminent of the English Poets *, published by the booksellers of London. The remaining volumes came out in the year 1780. The poets were selected by the several booksellers who had the honorary copyright, which is still preserved among them by mutual compact, notwithstanding the decision of the house of lords against the perpetuity of literary property. We have his own authority', that by his recommendation the poems of Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden, were added to the collection. Of this work I shall speak more particularly hereafter.
[DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. ASTON.
“ London, Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 2d Jan. 1779. “ DEAR MADAM,—Now the new year is come, of which I wish you and dear Mrs. Gastrel many and many returns, it is fit that I give you some account of the year past. In the beginning of it I had a difficulty of breathing, and other illness, from which, however, I by degrees recovered, and from which I am now tolerably free. In the spring and summer I flattered myself that I should come to Lichfield, and forbore to write till I could tell of my intentions with some certainty, and one thing or other making the journey always improper, as I did not come, I omitted to write, till at last I grew afraid of hearing ill news. But the other day Mr. Prujeano called and left word, that you, dear madam, are grown better ; and I know not when I heard any thing that pleased me so much. I shall now long more and more to see Lichfield, and partake the happiness of your recovery.
“ Now you begin to mend, you have great encouragement to take care of yourself. Do not omit any thing that can conduce to your health, and when I come, I shall hope to enjoy with you, and dearest Mrs. Gastrel, many pleasing hours.
“Do not be angry at my long omission to write, but let me hear how you both do, for you will write to nobody, to whom
1 Life of Watts. --BOSWELL.
your welfare will give more pleasure, than to, dearest madám, your most humble 'servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON."]
["DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 20 Jan. 1779. “DEAREST LOVE,—Though I have so long omitted to write, I will omit it no longer. I hope the new year finds you not worse than you have formerly been; and I wish that many years may pass over you without bringing either pain or discontent. For my part, I think my health, though not good, yet rather better than when I left
you. My purpose was to have paid you my annual visit in the summer, but it happened otherwise, not by any journey another way, for I have never been many miles from London, but by such hindrances as it is hard to bring to any account.
“Do not follow my bad example, but write to me soon again, and let me know of you what you have to tell ; I hope it is all good.
“ Please to make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, Mrs. Adey, and Miss Adey, and all the ladies and gentlemen that frequent your mansion.
“ If you want any books, or any thing else that I can send you, let me know. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”]
On the 22d of January, I wrote to him on several topicks, and mentioned that as he had been so good as to permit me to have the proof sheets of his “Lives of the Poets," I had written to his servant, Francis, to take care of them for me.
“ MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.
“ Edinburgh, 20 February, 1779. “MY DEAR SIR,—Garrick's death is a striking event ; not that we should be surprised with the death of any man, who has lived sixty-two years '; but because there was a vivacity in our late celebrated friend, which drove away the thoughts of death from any association with him. I am sure you will be tenderly affected with his departure; and I would wish to hear from you upon the subject. I was obliged to him in my days of effervescence in London, when poor Derrick was my governour; and since that time I received many civilities from him. Do you remember how pleasing it was, when I received a letter from him at Inverary, upon our first return to civilized living after our Hebridean journey? I shall always remember him with affection as well as admiration.
1 On Mr. Garrick's monument in Lichfield Cathedral, he is said to have died, 36 aged 64 years." But it is a mistake, and Mr. Boswell is perfectly correct. Garrick was baptised at Hereford, Feb. 28, 1716-17, and died at his house in London, Jan. 20, 1779. The inaccuracy of lapidary inscriptions is well known. _MALONE. (The inscription, as given in Harwood's History of Lichfield, has sixty-three years. -Ed.]
“On Saturday last, being the 30th of January, I drank coffee and old port, and had solemn conversation with the Reverend Mr. Falconer, a nonjuring bishop, a very learned and worthy man. He gave two toasts, which you will believe I drank with cordiality, Dr. Samuel Johnson and Flora Macdonald. I sat about four hours with him, and it was really as if I had been living in the last century. The episcopal church of Scotland, though faithful to the royal house of Stuart, has never accepted of any congé d'élire since the revolution ; it is the only true episcopal church in Scotland, as it has its own succession of bishops. For as to the episcopal clergy, who take the oaths to the present government, they indeed follow the rites of the church of England, but, as Bishop Falconer observed, they are not episcopals; for they are under no bishop, as a bishop cannot have authority beyond his diocese.' This venerable gentleman did me the honour to dine with me yesterday, and he laid his hands upon the heads of my little ones. We had a good deal of curious literary conversation, particularly about Mr. Thomas Ruddiman, with whom he lived in great friendship.
“Any fresh instance of the uncertainty of life makes one embrace more closely a valuable friend. My dear and much respected sir, may God preserve you long in this world while I am in it. I am ever, your much obliged, and affectionate humble servant,
- JAMES BOSWELL,"
[When Garrick was on his last sick-bed, no argu- Piozzi, ments or recitals of such facts as reached him would p. 145. persuade Dr. Johnson of his danger: he had prepossessed himself with a notion, that to say a man was sick, was very near wishing him so; and few things offended him more, than prognosticating even the death of an ordinary acquaintance. “Ay, ay,” said
Piozzi, he, “ Swift knew the world pretty well, when he said, that,
Some dire misfortune to portend,
No enemy can match a friend.” The danger then of Mr. Garrick, or of Mr. Thrale, whom he loved better, was an image which no one durst present before his view; he always persisted in the possibility and hope of their recovering disorders from which no human creatures by human means alone ever did recover. His distress for their loss was for that very reason poignant to excess: but his fears of his own salvation were excessive : his truly tolerant spirit, and Christian charity, which hopeth all things, and believeth all things, made him rely securely on the safety of his friends, while his earnest aspiration after a blessed immortality made him cautious of his own steps, and timorous concerning their consequences.
He knew how much had been given, and filled his mind with fancies of how much would be required, till his impressed imagination was often disturbed by them, and his health suffered from the sensibility of his too tender conscience: a real Christian is so apt to find his task above his power of performance !]
[“ DR. JOHNSON TO MISS REYNOLDS.
“ 15th February, 1779. “ DEAREST MADAM,—I have never deserved to be treated as you treat me. When you employed me before, I undertook your affair and succeeded, but then I succeeded by choosing a proper time, and a proper time I will try to choose again.
“ I have about a week's work to do, and then I shall come to live in town, and will first wait on you in Dover-street. You are not to think that I neglect you, for your nieces will tell you how rarely they have seen me. I will wait on you as soon as I can, and yet you must resolve to talk things over without
[This seems to allude to some favour (probably a pecuniary one) which Johnson was to solicit from Sir Joshua for Miss Reynolds.—ED.]
anger, and you must leave me to catch opportunities, and be assured, dearest dear, that I should have very little enjoyment of that day in which I had neglected any opportunity of doing good to you. I am, dearest madam, your most humble servant,
(“TO MRS. LUCY PORTER.
Pearson “ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 4th March, 1779.
MS. * MY DEAR LOVE,-Since I heard from
a little print, and two barrels of oysters, and I shall have some little books to send you soon.
“I have seen Mr. Pearson, and am pleased to find that he has got a living. I was hurried when he was with me, but had time to hear that
“My old complaint of flatulence, and tight and short breath, oppress me heavily. My nights are very restless. I think of consulting the doctor to-morrow.
“ This has been a mild winter, for which I hope you have been the better. Take what care you can of yourself, and do not forget to drink. I was somehow or other hindered from coming into the country last summer, but I think of coming this year. I am, dear love, your most humble servant,
“ Sam. JOHNSON.”]
[“ TO MRS. ASTON.
Pemb. “ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 4th March, 1779. MSS. “DEAR MADAM,-Mrs. Gastrell and you are very often in my thoughts, though I do not write so often as might be expected from so much love and so much respect. I please myself with thinking that I shall see you again, and shall find you better. But futurity is uncertain : poor David' had doubtless many futurities in his head, which death has intercepted_a death, I believe, totally unexpected: he did not in his last hour seem to think his life in danger.
“My old complaints hang heavy on me, and my nights are very uncomfortable and unquiet; and sleepless nights make heavy days. I think to go to my physician, and try what can be done. For why should not I grow better as well as you?
“Now you are better, pray, dearest madam, take care of
· [Mr. Garrick.-Ed.)