« PoprzedniaDalej »
THE LAST YEAR OF JOHNSON'S LIFE_"Burton's Books"—THE Essex HEADCORRESPONDENCE-JOHNSON'S CONTINUED ILL-HEALTH-DRs. Gillespie, HEBER DEN, CULLEN, HOPE, AND MUNRO — Johnson's ADVICE TO BOSWELL - LORD PORTMORE -- MR. Ozias HUMPHRY — JOHNSON'S MELANCHOLY ThoughTS AT THE APPROACH OF DEATH-HIS ADVICE TO Miss LANGTON - Boswell's ARRIVAL IN LONDON – COLONEL VALLANCY-JOHNSON ON EARNEST DISPUTATION - Dines at THE Essex HEAD CLUB WITH A ConsTELLATION OF LADIES — MRS. MONTAGUFoote- MRS. THRALE'S ALTERED CONDUCT Bishop DOUGLAS- CAPEL LOFFT — Thomas À KEMPIS— Miss HELEN MARIA William S.
a year in which, although passed in severe indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of those wondrous powers of mind, which raised him so high in the intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were in no respect inferior to those of former years.
The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most minute curiosities of literature.
“TO MR. DILLY, BOOKSELLER, IN THE POULTRY, “SIR,
Jan. 6, 1784. “ There is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the booksellers on the bridge, and which I must entreat you to procure me. They are called · Burton's Books ;'1 the title of one is ‘Admirable Curiosities,' • Rarities,' and Wonders in England.' I believe there are about five or six of them; they seem very proper to allure backward readers : be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them with the best printed edition of . Baxter's Call to the Unconverted,
“I am, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." " TO MR. PERKINS. * DEAR SIR,
Jan. 21, 1784. “I was very sorry not to see you when you were so kind as to call on me; but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good-natured, to disoblige them, is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured with another visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will take all the measures that I can to be pretty well at that time. I am, dear Sir,
“Your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON.” His attention to the Essex Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard.
“TO RICHARD CLARK, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
Jan. 27, 1784. “You will receive a requisition, according to the rules of the Club, to be at the house as president of the night. This turn comes once a month, and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You were enrolled in the Club by my invitation, and I ought to introduce you; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly supply my place as introductor, or yours as president. I hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant.
“I am, Sir, &c.
The following list comprises several of these bouks; but probably is incomplete: 1. Historical Remarks on London and Westminster.
1681 2. Wars in England, Scotland, and Ireland..
1681 3. Wonderful Prodigies
1681 4. English Empire in America..
1685 5. Surprising Miracles of Nature and Art
1685 6. History of Scotland and Ireland..
1685 7. Nine Worthies of the World
1687 8. The English Hero, or Sir Francis Drake
1687 9. Memorable Accidents, and unheard-ot Transactions
1693 10. History of Oliver Cromwell
1698 11. Unparalleled Varieties .
“You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of threepence; that is, nine pence a week.”
On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his health, and enclosing my “ Letter to the People of Scotland on the present State of the Nation.”
“I trust,” said I, “that you will be liberal enough to make allowance for my differing from you on two points (the Middlesex election and the American War), when my general principles of government are according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of ministerial power.”
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
Feb. 11, 1784. “I hear of many inquiries which your kindness has disposed you to make
I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the imagination of its length hindered me from beginning. I will, therefore, content myself with a shorter.
Having promoted the institution of a new Club in the neighbourhood, at the house of an old servant of Thrale's, I went thither to meet the company, and was seized with a spasmodic asthma, so violent, that with difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground upon me; my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I should be content if I could keep there, but I am afraid that it will soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious. And yet I am extremely afraid of dying.
· My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected from vernal breezes and summer suns. If my life is prolonged to autumn, I should be glad to try a warmer climate ; though how to travel with a diseased body, without a companion to conduct me, and with very little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in Italy; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died; but he was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.
“I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with disease his neglect of disputes, politics, and pamphlets. Let me have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and young ones. Ask your physicians about my case : and desire Sir Alexander Dick to write me his opinion.
“I am, dear Sir, &c.,
“ TO MRS. LUCY PORTER, IN LICHFIELD.
"MY DEAREST LOVE,
Feb. 23, 1784. "I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received, by the mercy of GOD, sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me.
“Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it; what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of God, and the intercession of our SAVIOUR. I am, dear Madam, your most humble servant,
“SAM. JOHNSON.” “TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. "DEAR SIR,
London, Feb. 27, 1784. “I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet ; and you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great indignation at the indecency with which the King is every day treated. Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the constitution, very properly produced and applied. It will certainly raise your character,' though perhaps it may not make you a Minister of State.
“I desire you to see Mrs. Stewart once again, and tell her, that in the lettercase was a letter relating to me, for which I will give her, if she is willing to give it me, another guinea. The letter is of consequence only to me.
“I am, dear Sir, &c.,
“SAM. JOHNSON." In consequence of Johnson's request that I should ask our physicians about his case, and desire Sir Alexander Dick to send his opinion, I transmitted him a letter from that very amiable baronet, then in his eighty-first year, with his faculties as entire as ever ; and mentioned his expressions to me in the note accompanying it,- -“ With my most affectionate wishes for Dr. Johnson's recovery, in which his friends, his country, and all mankind have so deep a stake ;” and at the same time a full opinion upon his case by Dr. Gillespie, who, like Dr. Cullen, had the advantage of having passed through the gradations of surgery and pharmacy, and by study and practice had attained to such skill, that
? I sent it to Mr. Pitt, with a letter, in which I thus expressed myself: "My principles may appear to you too monarchical : but I know and am persuaded, they are not incon. sistent with the true principles of liberty. Be this as it may, you, Sir, are now the Prime Minister, called by the Sovereign to maintain the rights of the crown, as well as those of the people, against a violent faction. As such, you are entitled to the warmest support of every good subject in every department.” He answered, “ I am extremely obliged to you for the sentiments you do me the honour to express, and have observed with great pleasure the zealous and able support given to the cause of the public in the work you were so good lo transmit me."-Boswell.
my father settled on him two hundred pounds a year for five years, and fifty pounds a year during his life, as an honorarium to secure his particular attendance. The opinion was conveyed in a letter to me, beginning, “I am sincerely sorry for the bad state of health your very learned and illustrious friend, Dr. Johnson, labours under at present.
"TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. "DEAR SIR,
London, March 2, 1784. “Presently after I had sent away my last letter, I received your kind medical packet. I am very much obliged both to you and to your physicians for your kind attention to my disease. Dr. Gillespie has sent me an excellent consilium medicum, all solid practical experimental knowledge. I am at present, in the opinion of my physicians (Dr. Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby), as well as my own, going on very hopefully. I have just begun to take vinegar of squills. The powder hurt my stomach so much, that it could not be continued.
“Return Sir Alexander Dick my sincere thanks for his kind letter ; and bring with you the rhubarb 1 which he so tenderly offers me.
“I hope dear Mrs. Boswell is now quite well, and that no evil, either real or imaginary, now disturbs you.
I am, &c.
"SAM. JOHNSON.” I also applied to three of the eminent physicians who had chairs in our celebrated school of medicine at Edinburgh, Doctors Cullen, Hope, and Munro, to each of whom I sent the following letter :“DEAR SIR,
March 7, 1784. “Dr. Johnson has been very ill for some time; and in a letter of anxious
apprehension he writes to me, 'Ask your physicians about my case.'
“This you see, is not authority for a regular consultation : but I have no doubt of your readiness to give your advice to a man so eminent, and who, in his Life of Garth, has paid your profession a just and elegant compliment: 'I believe. every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusions of beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art, where there is no hope of lucre.'
“Dr. Johnson is aged seventy-four. Last summer he had a stroke of the palsy, from which he recovered almost entirely. He had, before that, been troubled with a catarrhous cough. This winter he was seized with a spasmodic asthma, by which he has been confined to his house for about three months. Dr. Brocklesby writes to me, that upon the least admission of cold, there is such a constriction upon his breast, that he cannot lie down in his bed, but is obliged to sit
up all night, and gets rest and sometimes sleep, only by means of laudanum and syrup of poppies; and that there are ædematous tumours in his legs and thighs. Dr. Brocklesby trusts a good deal to the return of mild weather. Dr. Johnson says, that a dropsy gains ground upon him; and he seems to think that
From his garden at Prestonfield, where he cultivated that plant with such success, that he was presented with a gold medal by the Society of London for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.-BOSWELL.