Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

[TO MRS. LUCY POKTER, IN LICHFIELD.

1783. " DEAR MADAM,

Ætat. 74. “The death of poor Mr. Porter, of which your maid has sent an account, must have very much surprised you. The death of a friend is almost always unexpected : we do not love to think of it, and therefore are not prepared for its coming. He was, I think, a religious man, and therefore that his end was happy.

6 Death has likewise visited my mournful habitation, Last month died Mrs. Williams, who had been to me for thirty years in the place of a sister : her knowledge was great, and her conversation pleasing I now live in cheerless solitude.

[ocr errors]

ceived in a very courteous manner,-See “Gentleman's Magazine.” June 1791.

I found among Dr. Johnson's papers, the following letter to him, from the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy :

TO DR. JOHNSON.

ro SIR,

“The flattering rensembrance of the partiality you honoured me with, some years ago, as well as the humanity you are known to possess, has encouraged me to solicit your patronage at my Benefit.

"By a long Chancery suit, and a complicated train of unfortunate events, I am reduced to the greatest distress ; which obliges ine, once more, to request the indulgence of the publick.

“Give me leave to solicit the honour of your company, and to assure yon, if you grant my request, the gratification I shall feel, from being patronized by Dr. Johnson, will be infinitely superiour to any advantage that may arise from the Benefit ;' as I am, with the profoundest respect, Sir,

"Your most obedient, humble servant, “ No. 10, Duke-street, St. Jaines's, “ G. A. BELLAMY."

May 11, 1783.

I am happy in recording these particulars, which prove that my illustrious friend lived to think much more favourably of Players than he appears to have done in the early part of his life.

1783. “My two last years have past under the pressure za of successive diseases. I have lately had the gout

with some severity. But I wonderfully escaped the operation which I mentioned, and am upon the whole restored to health beyond my own expectation.

" As we daily see our friends die round us, we that are left must cling closer, and, if we can do nothing more, at least pray for one another; and remember, that as others die we must die too, and prepare ourselves diligently for the last great trial. I am, Madam,

. “ Yours affectionately, .“ Bolt-court, Fleet-street,

“ SAM. Johnson.”] Nov. 10, 1783.

A pleasing instance of the generous attention of one of his friends has been discovered by the publication of Mrs. Thrale's collection of Letters. In a letter to one of the Miss Thrales,? he writes, “ A friend, whose name I will tell when your mamma has tried to guess it, sent to my physician to enquire whether this long train of illness had brought me into difficulties for want of money, with an invitation to send to him for what occasion required. I shall -write this night to thank him, having no need to borrow.” And afterwards, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, “ Since you cannot guess, I will tell you, that the generous man was Gerard Hamilton. I returned him a very'thankful and respectful letter."

I applied to Mr. Hamilton, by a common friend, and he has been so obliging as to let me have Johnson's letter to him upon this occasion, to adorn my collection.

[ocr errors]

Vol. II. p. 328.

* Ibid. p. 342.

BE TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAM GERARD 1783. HAMILTON.

Ætat. 74.

6 DEAR SIR,

“ Your kind enquiries after my affairs, and your generous offers, have been communicated to me by Dr. Brocklesby.' I return thanks with great sincerity, having lived long enough to know what gratitude is due to such friendship; and entreat that my refusal may not be imputed to sullenness or pride. I am, indeed, in no want. Sickness is, by the generosity of my physicians, of little expence to me. But if any unexpected éxigence should press me, you shall see, dear Sir, how cheerfully I can be obliged to so much liberality.

" I am, Sir,
“ Your most obedient

And most humble servant, * November 19, 1783.

“ SAM. JOHkson."

I find in this, as in former years, notices of his kind attention to Mrs. Gardiner, who, though in the humble station of a tallow-chandler upon Snow-hill, was a woman of excellent good sense, pious, and charitable.? She told me, she had been introduced to him by Mrs. Masters, the poetess, whose volumes he revised, and, it is said, illuminated here and there with a ray of his own gevius, Mrs, Gardiner was very zealous for the support of the Ladies' charity-school, in the parish of St. Sepulchre. It is confined to females; and, I am told, it afforded a hint for the story of Betty Broom in “ The Idler.” Johnson this

3 [In his Will Dr. Johnson left her a book “at her election, to keep as a token of remembrance.” M.]

[This excellent woman died September 13, 1789, aged 74, Ą. C.]

1783. year, I find, obtained for it a sermon from the late

Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Shipley, whom he, in one Ætat. 74.

of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, characterises as "knowing and conversible ;” and whom all who knew his Lordship, even those who differed from him in politicks, remember with much respect.

The Earl of Carlisle having written a tragedy, entitled “ The FATHER's Revenge," some of his Lordship’s friends applied to Mrs. Chapone, to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read and give his opinion of it, which he accordingly did, in a letter to that lady, Sir Joshua Reynolds having informed me that this letter was in Lord Carlisle's possession, though I was not fortunate enough to have the honour of being known to his Lordship, trusting to the general courtesy of literature, I wrote to him, requesting the favour of a copy of it, and to be permitted to insert it in my life of Dr. Johnson. His Lordship was so good as to comply with my request, and has thus enabled me to enrich my work with a very fine piece of writing, which displays both the critical skill and politeness of my illustrious friend ; and perhaps the curiosity which it will excite, may induce the noble and elegant Authour to gratify the world by the publication of a performance, of which Dr. Johnson has spoken in such terms.

Own

as

SO

" TO MRS. CHAPONE. “ MADAM,

“ By sending the tragedy to me a second time, I think that a very honourable distinction has been

* A few copies only of this tragedy have been printed, and given to the authour's friends.

5 Dr. Johnson having been very ill when the tragedy was first sent to him, had declined the consideration of it.

shewn me, and I did not delay the perusal, of which 1783. I am now to tell the effect.

Ætat. 74. 6. The construction of the play is not completely regular; the stage is too often vacant, and the scenes are not sufficiently connected. This, however, would be called by Dryden only a mechanical defect; which takes away little from the power of the poem, and which is seen rather thay felt.

- A rigid examiner of the diction might, perhaps, wish some words changed, and some lines more vigorously terminated. But from such petty imperfections what writer was ever free?

" The general form and force of the dialogue is of more importance. It seems to want that quickness of reciprocation which characterises the English drama, and is not always sufficiently fervid or animated.

" Of the sentiments, I remember not one that I wished onnitted. In the imagery I cannot forbear to distinguish the comparison of joy succeeding grief to light rushing on the eye accustomed to darkness. It seems to have all that can be desired to make it please. It is new, just, and delightful. :

os With the characters, either as conceived or preserved, I have no fault to find ; but was much inclined to congratulate a writer, who, in defiance of prejudice and fashion, made the Archbishop a good man, and scorned all thoughtless applause, which a · vicious churchman would have brought him.

I could have born my woes; that stranger Joy

Wounds while it smiles :-The long-imprison'd wretch,
“ Emerging from the night of his damp cell,
" Shrinks from the sun's bright beams; and that which flings
“ Gladness o’er all, to him is agony.".

« ElőzőTovább »