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*6 know but that it might be his farther good pleasure “ to deprive me soon of my senses, I request you will " on the receipt of this note, come to me, and act for “ me, as the exigencies of my case may require.
Mr. Allen immediately attended him, and sent for his usual physicians, Drs. Heberden and Brocklesby, who, in the course of a few months, recovered him so much, that he was able to take the air, and visit his friends, as usual.
He continued every day growing better; and as he found his spirits much relieved by society, it was proposed by some friends to establish a club in the neighbourhood, which would answer that purpose. The Doctor seemed highly pleased with the proposal, and after naming some friends, whom he wished to have about him, they met early in the winter of 1783, at the Essex-head, in Essex-street, for the first time, when the Doctor being unanimously called to the chair, he surprised them with a set of rules drawn by himself, as Ben. Johnson did his “ Leges Convivales,” which being read, and approved of by the rest of the members, were regularly entered in a book for that purpose.
These rules, to use his own words, are “ founded in frequency and parsimony;' and as the public may have some curiosity in seeing so learned a man as Dr. Johnson in his hours of social relaxation, the following is an authentic copy of them, together with the names of the gentlemen who composed the club, as they stood " on the rota of monthly attendance;"
General Rules of the Esser-Head Club, commenced the
... 10th of December, 1783.
II. Eyery member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not oftener.
UI. Two members shall oblige themselves to attend. in their turn every night from eight to ten o'clock, or procure two to attend in their room.
IV. Every member present at the club shall spend at least sixpence; and every man who stays away, shall forfeit threepence.
V. The master of the house shall keep an account of the absent members, and deliver to the president of the night a list of the forfeits incurred.
VI. When any member returns after absence, he shall immediately lay down his forfeits; which, if he omits to do, the President shall require them of him.
VII. There shall be no general reckoning, but every member shall adjust his own expences.
VIII. The night of indispensable attendance will come to every member once a month. Whoever shall for three months together omit to attend himself, or by substitution nor shall make any apology on the fourth month, shall be considered as having abdicated the Club. ,
. IX. When a vacancy is to he filled, the name of the candidate, and of the member recommending him, shall stand in the club-room three nights : on the fourth he may be chosen by ballot, six members at least being present, and two thirds of the ballot being in his favour, or the majority, should the numbers not be divisible by
three. • * Several of the members being Fellows of the Royal Society, this night was afterwards changed to Thursday for their convenience.
X. The master of the house shall give notice, six days before, to each of those members whose turn of! necessary attendance is come.
The notice may be in these words : [“ Sir,' On " the of will be your turn of presiding at " the Essex-head; your company is therefore earnestly ““ requested.”]
One penny shall be left by cach member for the waiter.
Nightly Rules of the Essex-head Club. I, The President will collect seven-pence from each. member at his entrance, marking his attendance thus V; and three-pence for every preceding night which is not marked against his name in the book thus V.
II. The forfeits to be paid over to the landlord. The seven-pence to be considered as part of each member's distinct reckoning.
III. Two letters of notice are to be forwarded each night, by the penny-post, to the Presidents of that' day seven-night, as by list of the members.
IV. When the forfeits are paid, they should be noted in the book thus W..
List of the Members of the Essex-head Club, when first ina
Mr. John Nichols (Printer).
Rd. Clarke, Esq: (late Lord Mayor of London).* .., William Strahan, Esq. M.P.
Arthur Murphy, Esq.
The Doctor, when his health permitted it, was a cone stant visitor, and seemed to reserve his spirits and conversation for those meetings, to the delight and improvement of his friends. In this career of innocent felaxation, the constant bleeding which he was obliged to undergo for the necessary reduction of an asthma (with which he was afflicted many years) brought on a dropsy, which again confined him to his house for some months in the spring of 1784.
In the summer of the same year he grew so much better, that supposing the air of Italy might be the best means of re-establishing his health, he hinted in conversation his desire to undertake that journey. His old and intimate friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, eager to extend a lite so dear to himself, and so valuable to the public, and yet thinking the Doctor's finances not equal to the project, mentioned the circumstance to the Lord Chancellor, adding, “ that if his pension could be in“ creased two hundred a-year more, it would be fully " sufficient for the purpose." His Lordship met the proposal cordially, and took the first opportunity to speak, of it to the K-g.
His M- y had been previously advertised of the Doctor's intention, and seemed to think favourably of
* 1785--Mr. Clarke's Mayoralty was distinguished by exemplary attendance to the duties of that high office; wisdom in his conduct, and politeness to his fellow-citizens, to whom he was always easy of access. : The Corporation of London unanimously voted him their thanks in a dittinguifhed manner, for his fingular services as their Chief Magistrate ; it was, however, his character as a private gentleman, which first procured him the Doctor's friendhip,
it; but whether he did not conceive the Lord Chancel·lor's application to be direct, or that he understood
Dr. Johnson's physicians had no opinion of this journey, when it was mentioned to him, he waved the con- . versation.
The Chancellor, on this, wrote to Dr. Johnson, informing him, that as the return of his health might not wait the forms of an addition to his pension, he might draw iinmediately upon him for 500l. which lay at his banker's for that purpose.
So liberal and unexpected an offer,' froiñ a quarter where he had no right to expect it, called forth the Doltor's gratitude, and he immediately wrote the Lord Chancellor the following letter:'.
“ My Lord, “ After a long and not inattentive observation on * mankind, the generosity of your Lordship’s offer " raises in me no less wonder than gratitude. Bounty “ so liberally bestowed I shouid gladly receive, if my " condition made it necessary; for to such a mind who 66 would not be proud to own his obligation ? But it “ hath pleased God to restore me to such a measure of “ health, that if I should now appropriate so much of a' “ fortune destined to do good, I could not escape from “ myself the charge of advancing a false claim. My “ journey to the continent, though I once thought it “ necessary, was never much encouraged by my phy. “ sicians, and I was very desirous that your Lordship " should be told of it by Sir Joshua Reynolds as an “ event very uncertain ; for if I should grow much “ better I should not be willing, and if much worse " I should not be able to migrate.
" Your Lordship was first solicited without my know"! ledge ; but when I was told that you was pleased " to honour me with your patronage, I did not expect “ to hear of a refusal; yet as I have had no long time " to brood hope, and have not rioted in imaginary “ opulence, this cold reception has scarce bcen a dis“ appointment; and from your Lordship’s kindness
“ I have