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“In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed ; and you will easily procure yourself skilful directors. But what will you do to keep away the black dog' that worries you at home? If you would, in compliance with your father's advice, inquire into the old tenures and old charters of Scotland, you would certainly open to yourself many striking scenes of the manners of the middle ages. The feudal system, in a country half-barbarous, is naturally productive of great anomalies in civil life. The knowledge of past times is naturally growing less in all cases not of publick record ; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to image the economy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found 2
“We have, I think, once talked of another project, a history of the late insurrection in Scotland, with all its incidents. Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history. Voltaire, who loved a striking story, has told what he could not find to be true.
“ You may make collections for either of these projects, or
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
[“ TO MRS. ASTON.
“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street, 5th Nov. 1779. “ DEAREST MADAM,-Having had the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Boswell that he found you better than he expected, I will not forbear to tell you how much I was delighted with the news. May your health increase and increase till you are as well as you can wish yourself, or I can wish you !
“My friends tell me that my health improves too. It is cer
· [This was a phrase in the familiar society at Streatham to express hypochondriacal anxieties of mind. It is frequently used in the correspondence between Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, and is equivalent to the “ dragons” of Madame de Sévigné. —Ep.)
2 Ï have a valuable collection made by my father, which, with some additions and illustrations of my own, I intend to publish. I have some hereditary claim w be an antiquary; not only from my father, but as being descended, by the mother's side, from the able and learned Sir John Skene, whose merit bids de. fiance to all the attempts which have been made to lessen his fame.--Boswell.
tain that I use both physick and abstinence; and my endeavours Pemb. have been blessed with more success than at my age I could reasonably hope. I please myself with the thoughts of visiting you next year in so robust a state, that I shall not be afraid of the hill between Mrs. Gastrell's house and yours, nor think it necessary to rest myself between Stowhill and Lucy Porter's.
“Of publick affairs I can give you no very comfortable account. The invasion has vanished for the present, as I expected. I never believed that any invasion was intended.
“ But whatever we have escaped, we have done nothing, nor are likely to do better another year. We, however, who have no part of the nation's welfare intrusted to our management, have nothing to do but to serve God, and leave the world submissively in his hands.
“ All trade is dead, and pleasure is scarce alive. Nothing almost is purchased but such things as the buyer cannot do without, so that a general sluggishness and general discontent are spread over the town. All the trades of luxury and elegance are nearly at a stand. What the parliament, when it meets, will do, and indeed what it ought to do, is very difficult to say.
“ Pray set Mrs. Gastrell, who is a dear good lady, to write to me from time to time; for I have great delight in hearing from you, especially when I hear any good news of your health. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant,
“ TO DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
" Carlisle, 7th Nov. 1779. “ MY DEAR SIR,—That I should importune you to write to me at Chester is not wonderful, when you consider what an avidity I have for delight; and that the amor of pleasure, like the amor nummi, increases in proportion with the quantity which we possess of it. Your letter, so full of polite kindness and masterly counsel, came like a large treasure upon me, while already glittering with riches. I was quite enchanted at Chester, so that I could with difficulty quit it. But the enchantment was the reverse of that of Circé; for so far was there from being any thing sensual in it, that I was all mind. I do not mean all reason only; for my fancy was kept finely in play. And why not? If you please I will send you a copy or an abridgment of my Chester journal, which is truly a log-book of felicity.
“The bishop' treated me with a kindness which was very
(Doctor Portcus, afterwards Bishop of London, in which see he died, -ED.)
flattering. I told him that you regretted you had seen so little of Chester. His lordship bade me tell you, that he should be glad to show you more of it. I am proud to find the friendship with which you honour me is known in so many places.
“ I arrived here late last night. Our friend the dean' has been gone from hence some months ; but I am told at my inn, that he is very populous (popular). However, I found Mr. Law?, the archdeacon, son to the bishop, and with him I have breakfasted and dined very agreeably. I got acquainted with him at the assizes here, about a year and a half ago. He is a man of great variety of knowledge, uncommon genius, and, I believe, sincere religion. I received the holy sacrament in the cathedral in the morning, this being the first Sunday in the month; and was at prayers there in the morning. It is divinely cheering to me to think that there is a cathedral so near Auchinleck; and I now leave Old England in such a state of mind as I am thankful to God for granting me.
“The black dog that worries me at home I cannot but dread; yet as I have been for some time past in a military train, I trust I shall repulse him. To hear from you will animate me like the sound of a trumpet ; I therefore hope, that soon after my return to the northern field, I shall receive a few lines from you.
“Colonel Stuart did me the honour to escort me in his carriage to show me Liverpool, and from thence back again to Warrington, where we parted". In justice to my valuable wife, I must inform you she wrote to me, that as I was so happy, she would not be so selfish as to wish me to return sooner than business absolutely required my presence. She made my clerk write to me a post or two after to the same purpose, by commission from her; and this day a kind letter from her met me at the post-office here, acquainting me that she and the little ones were well, and expressing all their wishes for my return home. I am, more and more, my dear sir, your affectionate and obliged humble servant,
“ JAMES Boswell." “ TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ London, 13th Nov. 1770. “DEAR SIR,– Your last letter was not only kind but fond. But I wish you to get rid of all intellectual excesses, and neither
(Dr. Percy.-ED.) » Dr. Edmond Law, master of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, Bishop of Carlisle, in which see he died in 1787.-Ed.]
3 (See ante, p. 292.-ED.]
4 His regiment was afterwards ordered to Jamaica, where he accompanied it, and almost lost his life by the climate. This impartial order I should think a sufficient refutation of the idle rumour that “ there was still something behind the throne greater than the throne itself.”_BOSWELL.
to exalt your pleasures, nor aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state. Why should you not be as happy at Edinburgh as at Chester? In culpa est animus, qui se non effugit usquam. Please yourself with your wife and children, and studies, and practice.
“I have sent a petition from Lucy Porter, with which I leave it to your discretion whether it is proper to comply. Return me her letter, which I have sent, that you may know the whole case, and not be seduced to any thing that you may afterwards repent. Miss Doxy perhaps you know to be Mr. Garrick's niece.
“ If Dean Percy can be popular at Carlisle, he may be very happy. He has in his disposal two livings, each equal or almost equal in value to the deanery; he may take one himself, and give the other to his son.
“ How near is the cathedral to Auchinleck, that you are so much delighted with it? It is, I suppose, at least an hundred and fifty miles off. However, if you are pleased, it is so far well.
“Let me know what reception you have from your father, and the state of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to his last years.
“Of our friends here I can recollect nothing to tell you. I have neither seen nor heard of Langton. Beauclerk is just returned from Brighthelmstone, I am told, much better. Mr. Thrale and his family are still there ; and his health is said to be visibly improved. He has not bathed, but hunted.
“At Bolt-court there is much malignity, but of late little open hostility”. I have had a cold, but it is gone.
“Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, &c. I am, sir, your humble servant,
On November 22, and December 21, I wrote to him from Edinburgh, giving a very favourable report of the family of Miss Doxy's lover;—that after a good deal of inquiry I had discovered the sister of Mr. Francis Stewart, one of his amanuenses when writing his Dictionary ;—that I had, as desired by him, paid her a guinea for an old pocket-book of her brother's,
Requesting me to inquire concerning the family of a gentleman who was then paying his addresses to Miss Doxy. --BOSWELL.
See ante, page 231.-BOSWELL.
which he had retained ; and that the good woman, who was in very moderate circumstances, but contented and placid, wondered at his scrupulous and liberal honesty, and received the guinea as if sent her by Providence;—that I had repeatedly begged of him to keep his promise to send me his letter to Lord Chesterfield; and that this memento, like Delenda est Carthago, must be in every letter that I should write to him, till I had obtained my object.
Letters, vol. ii.
(“TO MRS. THRALE.
“ London, 25th Oct. 1779. “ On Saturday I walked to Dover-street and back. Yesterday I dined with Sir Joshua. There was Mr. Elliot' of Cornwall, who inquired after my master. At night I was bespoken by Lady Lucan ; but she was taken ill, and the assembly was
am to dine with Renny to-morrow.
“ Some old gentlewomen at the next door are in very great distress. Their little annuity comes from Jamaica, and is therefore uncertain ; and one of them has had a fall, and both are very helpless; and the poor have you to help them. Persuade my master to let me give them something for him. It will be bestowed
In 1780, the world was kept in impatience for the completion of his “Lives of the Poets,” upon which he was employed so far as liis indolence allowed him to labour.
I wrote to him on January 1 and March 13, sending him my notes of Lord Marchmont's information concerning Pope ;-complaining that I had not heard from him for almost four months, though he was two letters in my debt; that I had suffered again from melancholy ;—hoping that he had been in so much better company (the Poets), that he had not time to think of his distant friends ; for if that were the case,
'[First Lord Eliot.
Sec post, sub 30th March, 1781.-Ed.]