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camp. I intend to put Lord Hailes's description of Dryden! into another edition, and, as I know his accuracy, wish he would consider the dates, which I could not always settle to my own mind.
“ Mr. Thrale goes to Brighthelmstone, about Michaelmas, to be jolly and ride a-hunting. I shall go to town, or perhaps to Oxford. Exercise and gaiety, or rather carelessness, will, I hope, dissipate all remains of his malady; and I likewise hope, by the change of place, to find some opportunities of growing yet better myself. I am, dear sir, your humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
My readers will not be displeased at being told every slight circumstance of the manner in which Dr. Johnson contrived to amuse his solitary hours. He sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometimes in watering and pruning a vine, sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile should recollect that there are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifles ?.
[Dr. Johnson was always exceeding fond of chymistry; and they made up a sort of laboratory at Streatham one summer, and diverted themselves with drawing essences and colouring liquors. But the danger in which Mr. Thrale found Dr. Johnson one day (in Mrs. Thrale's absence), with the children and servants assembled round him to see some experiments performed, put an end to all that sort of entertain
Which I communicated to him from his lordship, but it has not yet been published. I have a copy of it.-BOSWELL. The few notices concerning Dryden, which Lord Hailes had collected, the authour afterwards gave me MALONE.
? In one of his manuscript Diaries, there is the following entry, which marks his curious minute attention : “ July 26, 1768.—I shaved my nail by accident in whetting the knife, about an eighth of an inch from the bottom, and about a fourth from the top. This I measure that I may know the growth of nails ; the whole is about five-eighths of an inch.” Another of the same kind appears August 7, 1779 : “ Partem brachii dextri carpo proximam et cutem pectoris circa mamillam dextram rasi, ut notum fieret quanto temporis pili renovarentur." And, “ Aug. 15, 1783:-I cut from the vine 41 leaves, which weighed five oz. and a half, and eight scruples : I lay them upon my bookcase, to see what weight they will lose by drying."-BoswELL.
ment; as Mr. Thrale was persuaded that his short- Piozzi
, sight would have occasioned his destruction in a moment, by bringing him close to a fierce and violent flame. Indeed, it was a perpetual miracle that he did not set himself on fire reading a-bed, as was his constant custom, when quite unable even to keep clear of mischief with our best help; and accordingly the foretops of all his wigs were burned by the candle down to the very network.
Future experiments in chemistry, however, were too dangerous, and Mr. Thrale insisted that we should do no more towards finding the philosopher's stone.)
On the 20th of September I defended myself against his suspicion of me, which I did not deserve; and added, “ Pray let us write frequently. A whim strikes me, that we should send off a sheet once a week, like a stage-coach, whether it be full or not; nay, though it should be empty. The very sight of your handwriting would comfort me; and were a sheet to be thus sent regularly, we should much oftener convey something, were it only a few kind words.”
My friend, Colonel James Stuart ', second son of the Earl of Bute, who had distinguished himself as a good officer of the Bedfordshire militia, had taken a publick-spirited resolution to serve his country in its difficulties, by raising a regular regiment, and taking the command of it himself. This, in the heir of the immense property of Wortley, was highly honourable. Having been in Scotland recruiting, he obligingly asked me to accompany him to Leeds, then the headquarters of his corps; from thence to London for a short time, and afterwards to other places to which
(Who assumed successively the names of Wortley and Mackenzie, but was best known as Mr. Stuart Wortley. He was the father of Lord Wharncliffe, and died in 1814.-ED.) VOL. IV.
he was up:
the regiment might be ordered. Such an offer, at a time of the year when I had full leisure, was very pleasing; especially as I was to accompany a man of sterling good sense, information, discernment, and conviviality, and was to have a second crop, in one year, of London and Johnson. Of this I informed my illustrious friend in characteristical warm terms, in a letter dated the 30th of September, from Leeds. On Monday, October 4, I called at his house before
He sent for me to his bedside, and expressed his satisfaction at this incidental meeting, with as much vivacity as if he had been in the gaiety of youth. He called briskly, “Frank, go and get coffee, and let us breakfast in splendour.”
During this visit to London I had several interviews with him, which it is unnecessary to distinguish particularly. I consulted him as to the appointment of guardians to my children in case of my death. “Sir,” said he, “do not appoint a number of guardians. When there are many, they trust one to another, and the business is neglected. I would advise you to choose only one: let him be a man of respectable character, who, for his own credit, will do what is right; let him be a rich man, so that he may be under no temptation to take advantage; and let him be a man of business, who is used to conduct affairs with ability and expertness, to whom, therefore, the execution of the trust will not be burdensome."
Letters, v. ii. p. 60.
[“ TO MRS. THRALE.
5th Oct. 1779. “ When Mr. Boswell waited on Mr. Thrale in Southwark, I directed him to watch all appearances with close attention, and bring me his observations. At his return he told me, that without previous intelligence he should not have discovered that Mr. Thrale had been lately ill.”]
[" TO MRS. THRALE.
Letters, “ London, 8th Oct. 1779.
vol. ii. “On Sunday the my ankles, and I went very commodiously to church. On Monday night I felt my feet uneasy. On Tuesday I was quite lame: that night I took an opiate, having first taken physick and fasted. Towards morning on Wednesday the pain remitted. Bozzy came to me, and much talk we had. I fasted another day; and on Wednesday night could walk tolerably. On Thursday, finding myself mending, I ventured on my dinner, which I think has a little interrupted my convalescence. To-day I have again taken physick, and eaten only some stewed apples.--I hope to starve it away. It is now no worse than it was at Brighthelmstone."]
On Sunday, October 10, we dined together at Mr. Strahan’s. The conversation having turned on the prevailing practice of going to the East Indies in quest of wealth ;-JOHNSON. “A man had better have ten thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in England, than twenty thousand pounds at the end of ten years passed in India, because you must compute what you give for money; and the man who has lived ten years in India has given up ten years of social comfort, and all those advantages which arise from living in England. The ingenious Mr. Brown, distinguished by the name of Capability Brown, told me, that he was once at the seat of Lord Clive, who had returned from India with great wealth ; and that he showed him at the door of his bed-chamber a large chest, which he said he had once had full of gold; upon which Brown observed, 'I am glad you can bear it so near your bed-chamber.””
We talked of the state of the poor in London. JOHNSON. “Saunders Welch, the justice, who was once high-constable of Holborn, and had the best opportunities of knowing the state of the poor, told me, that I under-rated the number, when I computed that twenty a week, that is, above a thousand a year,
died of hunger; not absolutely of immediate hunger; but of the wasting and other diseases which are the consequences of hunger. This happens only in so large a place as London, where people are not known. What we are told about the great sums got by begging is not true: the trade is overstocked. And, you may depend upon it, there are many who cannot get work. A particular kind of manufacture fails : those who have been used to work at it can, for some time, work at nothing else. You meet a man begging ; you charge him with idleness: he says, 'I am willing to labour. Will you give me work ? — I cannot.'
- Why, then, you have no right to charge me with idleness.”
We left Mr. Strahan's at seven, as Johnson had said he intended to go to evening prayers. As we walked alone, he complained of a little gout in his toe, and said, “I sha'n't go to prayers to-night: I shall go to-morrow : whenever I miss church on a Sunday, I resolve to go another day. But I do not always do it.” This was a fair exhibition of that vibration between pious resolutions and indolence, which many of us have too often experienced.
I went home with him, and we had a long quiet conversation.
I read him a letter from Dr. Hugh Blair concerning Pope (in writing whose life he was now employed), which I shall insert as a literary curiosity'.
· The Rev. Dr. Law, Bishop of Carlisle, in the preface to his valuable edi. tion of Archbishop King's “Essay on the Origin of Evil,” mentions that the principles maintained in it had been adopted by Pope in his " Essay on Man;" and adds, “ The fact, notwithstanding such denial (Bishop Warburton's), might have been strictly verified by an unexceptionable testimony, viz. that of the late Lord Bathurst, who saw the very same system of the To Biation (taken from the archbishop) in Lord Bolingbroke's own hand, lying before Mr. Pope, while he was composing his Essay." This is respectable evidence : but that of Dr. Blair is more direct from the fountain-head, as well as more full. Let me add to it that of Dr. Joseph Warton : “ The late Lord Bathurst repeatedly assured me that he had read the whole scheme of the Essay on Man,' in the hand.