« 前へ次へ »
and you will find that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work that you have undertaken I pray God to bless you. I am, sir, your most humble servant.
DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. THRALE,
On the Death of Mr. Thrale.
DEAREST MADAM, London, April 5, 1781. Of your injunctions to pray for you and write to you, I hope to leave neither unobserved; and I hope to find you willing in a short time to alleviate your trouble by some other exercise of the spind. I am not without my part of the calamity. No death since that of my wife has ever oppressed me like this. But let us remember, that we are in the hands of Him who knows when to give and when to take away; who will look upon us with mercy through all our variations of existence, and who · invites us to call on him in the day of trouble, Call upon him in this great revolution of life, and call with confidence. You will then find comfort for the past, and support for the future. He that has given you happiness in marriage, to a degree of which, without personal knowledge, I should have thought the description fabulous, can give you anom
ther mode of happiness as a mother; and at last, the happiness of losing all temporal cares in the thoughts of an eternity in heaven.
I do not exhort you to reason yourself into tranquillity. We must first pray, and then labour; first implore the blessing of God, and then use those means which he puts into our bands.' Cultivated ground has few weeds; a mind occupied by lawful business has little room for useless re.
We read the will to-day: but I will not fill my first letter with any other account than that, with all my zeal for your advantage, I am satisfied: and that the other executors, more used to consider property than 1, commended it for wisdom and equity. Yet why should I not tell you that you have five hundred pounds for your immediate expenses, and two thousand pounds a year, with both the houses and all the goods ?
Let us pray for one another, that the time, whether long or short, that shall yet be granted us, may be well spent; and that when this life, which at the longest is very short, shall come to an end, a better may begin which shall never end. I am, dearest madam, your, &c."
DR. JOHNSON TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ,
London, June 3, 1782. The earnestness and tenderness of your letter is such, that I cannot think myself showing it more respect than it claims by sitting down to answer it the day on which I received it.
This year has afflicted me with a very irksonie and severe disorder. My respiration has been much impeded, and much blood bas been taken away. I am now harassed by a catarrhous cough, from which my purpose is to seek relief by change of air; and I am, therefore, preparing to go to Oxford.
Whether I did right in dissuading you from coming to London this spring, I will not determine. You have not lost much by missing my company ; I have scarcely been well for a single week. I might have received comfort from your kindness; but you would have seen me afflicted, and, perhaps, found me peevish. Whatever might have been your pleasure or mine, I know not how I could have honestly advised you to come hither with borrowed money. Do not accustom your self to consider debt only as an inconvenience : you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided. Consider a man whose fortune is very narrow; whatever be his rank by birth, or whatever his reputation by intellectual excellence, what good can he do? or what evil can be prevent? That he cannot belp the needy is evideut, he has nothing to spare. But, perhaps, his advice or admonition may be useful. His poverty will destroy bis influence: many more can find that he is poor, than that he is wise; and few will reverence the under, standing that is of so little advantage to its owner.
I say nothing of the personal wretchedness of a debtor, which, bowever, has passed into a proverb. Of richies it is not necessary to write the praise. Let it, however, be remembered, that he who has money to spare, has it always in his power to benefit others; and of such power a good man must always be desirous.
I am pleased with your account of Easter. We shall meet, I hope, in autumn, both well and both cheerful; and part each the better for the other's company.
Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to the young charmers. I am, &c.
DR. JOHNSON TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
London, Sept. 7, 1782. I have struggled through this year with so much infirmity of body, and such strong impressions of fragility of life, that death, wherever it appears, fills me with melancholy: and I cannot hear without emotion, of the removal of any one, whom I have known, into another state.
Your father's death had every circumstance that could enable you to bear it; it was at a mature age, and it was expected; and as his general life had been pious, his thoughts had doubtless for many years past been turned upon eternity. That you did not find him sensible must doubtless grieve you; his disposition towards you was undoubtedly
that of a kind, though not of a fond father. Kindness, at least actual, is in our power, but fondness is not; and if by negligence or imprudence you had extinguished his fondness, he could not at will rekindle it. Nothing then remained between you but mutual forgiveness of each other's faults, and mutual desire of each other's happiness.
I shall long to know his final disposition of his fortune.
You, dear sir, have now a new station, and have therefore new cares, and new employments. Life, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a wellordered poem ; of which one rule generally received is, that the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new course of life with the least show, and the least expense possible; you may at pleasure increase both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do not think your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay; therefore, begin with timorous parsimony. Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.
When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct, and maxims of prudence, which one generation of men has transmitted to another; but upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced, and how much good is impeded' by embarrassment and distress, and how little room the 'expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue; its sorrows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interests of this.