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“On Monday we hope to see Birmingham, the seat of the mechanick arts; and I know not whether our next stage will be Oxford, the mansion of the liberal arts; or London, the residence of all the arts together. The chymists call the world Academia Paracelsi ; my ambition is to be his fellow-studentto see the works of nature, and hear the lectures of truth. To London, therefore! London may, perhaps, fill me; and I hope to fill my part of London.] (“DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. ASTON.

6. London, 20th Nov. 1777. “DEAR MADAM,—Through Birmingham and Oxford I got without any difficulty or disaster to London, though not in so short a time as I expected, for I did not reach Oxford before the second day. I came home very much incommoded by obstructed respiration ; but by vigorous methods am something better. I have since been at Brighthelmstone, and am now designing to settle.

“Different things, madam, are fit for different people. It is fit for me to settle, and for you to move. I wish I could hear of you at Bath ; but I am afraid that is hardly to be expected from your resolute inactivity. My next hope is that you will endeavour to grow well where you are. I cannot help thinking that I saw a visible amendment between the time when I left

you to go to Ashbourne, and the time when I came back. I hope you will go on mending and mending, to which exercise and cheerfulness will very much contribute. Take care, therefore, dearest madam, to be busy and cheerful.

“I have great confidence in the care and conversation of dear Mrs. Gastrell. It is very much the interest of all that know her that she should continue well, for she is one of few people that has the proper regard for those that are sick. She was so kind to me that I hope I never shall forget it, and if it be troublesome to you to write, I shall hope that she will do me another act of kindness by answering this letter, for I beg that I may hear from you by some hand or another. I am, madam, your most obedient servant,




“ London, 20th Nov. 1777. DEAR LOVE,-You ordered me to write you word when I came home. I have been for some days at Brighthelmstone, and came back on Tuesday night.

“ You know that when I left you I was not well ; I have taken physick very diligently, and am perceptibly better; so

much better that I hope by care and perseverance to recover, Pearson and see you again from time to time.

MS. “Mr. Nollikens, the statuary, has had my direction to send you a cast of my head. I will pay the carriage when we meet. Let me know how you like it; and what the ladies of your rout say to it. I have heard different opinions. I cannot think where you can put it.

“ I found every body here well. Miss [Thrale] has a mind to be womanly, and her womanhood does not sit well upon her.

“ Please to make my compliments to all the ladies and all the gentlemen to whom I owe them, that is, to a great part of the town. I am, dear madam, your most humble servant,



“ Edinburgh, 29th Sept. 1777. “MY DEAR SIR,-By the first post I inform you of my safe arrival at my own house, and that I had the comfort of finding my wife and children all in good health.

« When I look back upon our late interview, it appears to me to have answered expectation better than almost any scheme of happiness that I ever put in execution. My Journal is stored with wisdom and wit; and my memory is filled with the recollection of lively and affectionate feelings, which now, I think, yield me more satisfaction than at the time when they were first excited. I have experienced this upon other occasions. I shall be obliged to you if you will explain it to me; for it seems wonderful that pleasure should be more vivid at a distance than when near. I wish you may find yourself in a humour to do me this favour ; but I fatter myself with no strong hope of it; for I have observed, that unless upon very serious occasions, your letters to me are not answers to those which I write."

(I then expressed much uneasiness that I had mentioned to him the name of the gentleman who had told me the story so much to his disadvantage, the truth of which he had completely refuted; for that my having done so might be interpreted as a breach of confidence, and offend one whose society I valued :

[This letter is put a little out of its chronological place, to keep it near the answer.-ED.)

therefore earnestly requesting that no notice might be taken of it to any body, till I should be in London, and have an opportunity to talk it over with the gentleman.)


“ London, 29th Nov. 1777. “DEAR SIR,-You will wonder, or you have wondered, why no letter has come from me. What you wrote at your return had in it such a strain of cowardly caution as gave me no pleasure. I could not well do what you wished; I had no need to vex you with a refusal. I have seen Mr. —, and as to him have set all right, without any inconvenience, so far as I know, to you. Mrs. Thrale had forgot the story. You may now be at ease.

“ And at ease I certainly wish you, for the kindness that you showed in coming so long a journey to see me.

It was pity to keep you so long in pain, but, upon reviewing the matter, I do not see what I could have done better than I did.

“I hope you found at your return my dear enemy and all her little people quite well, and had no reason to repent of your journey. I think on it with great gratitude.

“I was not well when you left me at the doctor's, and I grew worse; yet I staid on, and at Lichfield was very ill. Travelling, however, did not make me worse; and when I came to London, I complied with a summons to go to Brighthelmstone, where I saw Beauclerk, and staid three days.

“Our club has recommenced last Friday, but I was not there. Langton has another wench! Mrs. Thrale is in hopes of a young brewer. They got by their trade last year a very large sum, and their expenses are proportionate.

“ Mrs. Williams's health is very bad. And I have had for some time a very difficult and laborious respiration ; but I am better by purges, abstinence, and other methods. I am yet, however, much behind-hand in my health and rest.

“ Dr. Blair's sermons are now universally commended; but let him think that I had the honour of first finding and first praising his excellencies. I did not stay to add my voice to that of the publick.

"My dear friend, let me thank you once more for your visit : you did me great honour, and I hope met with nothing that

" A daughter born to him._BOSWELL.

displeased you. I staid long at Ashbourne, not much pleased, yet awkward at departing. I then went to Lichfield, where I found my friend at Stowhill! very dangerously diseased. Such is life. Let us try to pass it well, whatever it be, for there is surely something beyond it.

“Well, now, I hope all is well ; write as soon as you can to, dear sir, your affectionate servant, “ Sam. JOHNSON.”


“ Edinburgh, 29th Nov. 1777. “MY DEAR SIR,—This day's post has at length relieved me from much uneasiness, by bringing me a letter from you. I was, indeed, doubly uneasy; on my own account and yours. I was very anxious to be secured against any bad consequences from my imprudence in mentioning the gentleman's name who had told me a story to your disadvantage; and as I could hardly suppose it possible that you would delay so long to make me easy, unless you were ill, I was not a little apprehensive about you. You must not be offended when I venture to tell you that you appear to me to have been too rigid upon this occasion. The cowardly caution which gave you no pleasure,' was suggested to me by a friend here, to whom I mentioned the strange story, and the detection of its falsity, as an instance how one may be deceived by what is apparently very good authority. But, as I am still persuaded, that as I might have obtained the truth without mentioning the gentleman's name, it was wrong in me to do it, I cannot see that you are just in blaming my caution. But if you were ever so just in your disapprobation, might you not have dealt more tenderly with me?

“I went to Auchinleck about the middle of October, and passed some time with my father very comfortably.

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“I am engaged in a criminal prosecution against a country schoolmaster, for indecent behaviour to his female scholars. There is no statute against such abominable conduct; but it is punishable at common law. I shall be obliged to you for your assistance in this extraordinary trial. I ever am, my dear sir, your faithful humble servant, James Boswell.”

About this time I wrote to Johnson, giving him an account of the decision of the negro cause, by the court of session, which by those who hold even the mildest and best regulated slavery in abomination (of which number I do not hesitate to declare that I am none) should be remembered with high respect, and to the credit of Scotland ; for it went upon a much broader ground than the case of Somerset, which was decided in England '; being truly the general question, whether a perpetual obligation of service to one master in any mode should be sanctified by the law of a free country. A negro, then called Joseph Knight, a native of Africa, having been brought to Jamaica in the usual course of the slave trade, and purchased by a Scotch gentleman in that island, had attended his master to Scotland, where it was officiously suggested to him that he would be found entitled to his liberty without any limitation. He accordingly brought his action, in the course of which the advocates on both sides did themselves great honour. Mr. Maclaurin has had the praise of Johnson, for his argumento in favour of the negro, and Mr. Macconochie 3 distinguished himself on the same side, by his ingenuity and extraordinary research. Mr. Cullen, on the part of the master, discovered good information and sound reasoning; in which he was well supported by Mr. James Ferguson, remarkable for a manly understanding, and a knowledge both of books and of the world. But I cannot too highly praise the speech which Mr. Henry Dundas generously contributed to the cause of the sooty

1 Mrs. Aston.-BOSWELL.


· See State Trials, vol. xi. p. 339, and Mr. Hargrave's argument.--Bos



The motto to it was happily chosen :

“Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses.” I cannot avoid mentioning a circumstance no less strange than true, that a brother advocate in considerable practice (Mr. Wright), but of whom it certainly cannot be said, Ingenuas didicit fideliter artes, asked Mr. Maclaurin, with a face of Aippant assurance, “Are these words your own?"_BOSWELL.

3(Afterwards a lord of session, by the title of Lord Meadowbank, and father of the present Lord Meadowbank. -Ed.)

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