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little parted from us since. She buried my father, my brother, and my mother. She is now fifty-eight years old.
I desired all to withdraw, then told her that we were to part forever; that as Christians, we should part with prayer, and that I would, if she was willing, say a short prayer beside her. She expressed great desire to hear me ; and held up her poor hands, as she lay in bed, with great fervor while I prayed, kneeling by her, nearly in the following words:
“Almighty and most merciful Father, whose loving kindness is over all thy works, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness may add strength to her faith, and seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help of thy Holy Spirit, after the pains and labors of this short life, we may all obtain everlasting happiness through Jesus Christ our Lord; for whose sake hear our prayers.
Amen. Our Father,” etc. I then kissed her. She told me that to part was the greatest pain that she had ever felt, and that she hoped we should ineet again in a better place. I expressed, with swelled eyes and great emotion of tenderness, the same hopes. We kissed and parted, I humbly hope to meet again and to part no more.
To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.
DEAR SIR: What can possibly have happened that keeps us two such strangers to each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home; I expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned; and yet there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill I hope has happened; and if ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves you? Is it a fit of humor, that has disposed you to try who can hold out longest without writing? If it be, you have the victory. But I am afraid of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.
My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your silence: you must not expect that I should tell you any. thing, if I had anything to tell. Write, pray write to me, and et me know what is, or what has been, the cause of this long interruption. I am, dear Sir, Your most affectionate humble servant,
SAM. JOHNSON. July 13, 1779.
To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. MY DEAR SIR: Are you playing the same trick again, and trying who can keep silence longest? Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish ; and that it is as foolish to make experiments upon the constancy of a friend as upon the chastity of a wife.
What can be the cause of this second fit of silence I cannot conjecture ; but after one trick, I will not be cheated by another, nor will I harass my thoughts with conjectures about the motives of a man who probably acts only by caprice. I therefore suppose you are well, and that Mrs. Boswell is well too; and that the fine summer has restored Lord Auchinleck. I am much better, better than you left me; I think I am better than when I was in Scotland.
I forgot whether I informed you that poor Thrale has been in great danger. Mrs. Thrale likewise has ... been much indisposed. Everybody else is well; Langton is in 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 gayety, 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. STREATHAM, September 9, 1779.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. DEAR SIR: Why should you importune me so earnestly to write? Of what importance can it be to hear of distant friends to a man who finds himself welcome wherever he
and makes new friends faster than he can want them? If to the delight of such universal kindness of reception, anything can be added by knowing that you retain my good-will, you may indulge yourself in the full enjoyment of that small addition.
I am glad that you made the round of Lichfield with so much success: the oftener you are seen, the more you will be
VOL. XII. - - 32
liked. It was pleasing to me to read that Mrs. Aston was so well, and that Lucy Porter was so glad to see you.
In the place where you now are, there is much to be observed; and you will easily procure yourself skillful 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 public record; and the past time of Scotland is so unlike the present, that it is already difficult for a Scotchman to imagine the economy of his grandfather. Do not be tardy nor negligent; but gather up eagerly what can yet be found.
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 for both, as opportunities occur, and digest your materials at leisure. The great direction which Burton has left to men disordered like you, is this: Be not solitary; be not idle - which I would thus modify: If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle. There is a letter for you, from
Your humble servant,
SAM JOHNSON. LONDON, October 27, 1779.
To MRS. LUCY PORTER IN LICHFIELD. DEAR MADAM: Life is full of troubles. I have just lost my dear friend Thrale. I hope he is happy ; but I have had a great loss. I am otherwise pretty well. I require some care of my. self, but that care is not ineffectual; and when I am out of order I think it often my own fault.
The spring is now making quick advances. As it is the season in which the whole world is enlivened and invigorated, I hope that both you and I shall partake of its benefits. My desire is to see Lichfield ; but being left executor to my friend, I know not whether I can be spared; but I will try, for it is now long since we saw one another; and how little we can promise ourselves many more interviews, we are taught by hourly examples of mortality. Let us try to live so as that mortality may not be an evil. Write to me soon, my dearest; your letters will give me great pleasure.
I am sorry that Mr. Porter has not had his box; but by sending it to Mr. Mathias, who very readily undertook its conveyance, I did the best I could, and perhaps before now he has it.
Be so kind as to make my compliments to my friends : I have a great value for their kindness, and hope to enjoy it before summer is past. Do write to me.
I am, dearest love,
To MR. PERKINS. DEAR SIR: I am much pleased that you are going a very long journey, which may, by proper conduct, restore your health and prolong your life.
Observe these rules:
1. Turn all care out of your head as soon as you mount the chaise.
2. Do not think about frugality: your health is worth more than it can cost.
3. Do not continue any day's journey to fatigue.
This last direction is the principal; with an unquiet mind neither exercise, nor diet, nor physic can be of much use.
I wish you, dear Sir, a prosperous journey, and a happy recovery.
I am, dear Sir,
SAM JOHNSON. July 28, 1782
FROM A LETTER TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. 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
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, it grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interests of this.
Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and factors; do not disgust them by asperity, or inwelcome gayety, or apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of
Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell: I think her expectations from air and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long and happily.
To MRS. TARALE.
On Monday the 16th I sat for my picture, and walked a considerable way with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed, and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom; when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted I suppose about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God that however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding. This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in Latin
The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be very good; I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired in my faculties.
Soon after, I perceived that I had suffered a paralytic stroke, and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my