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long and carious peregrination through the Gaelick 1783. regions I have never been able to find it. What I
Ætat. 74. could not see myself I suspect to be equally invisible to others; and I suspect with the more reason, as among all those who have seen it no man can shew it.
“Mr. Clark compares the obstinacy of those who disbelieve the genuineness of Ossian to a blind man, who should dispute the reality of colours, and deny that the British troops are cloathed in red. The blind man's doubt would be rational, if he did not know by experience that others have a power which he himself wants: but what perspicacity has Mr. Clark which Nature has withheld from me or the rest of mankind ?
“ The true state of the parallel must be this. Suppose a man, with eyes like his neighbours, was told by a boasting corporal, that the troops, indeed, wore red clothes for their ordinary dress, but that every soldier had likewise a suit of black velvet, which he put on when the King reviews them. This he thinks strange, and desires to see the fine clothes, but finds nobody in forty thousand men that can produce either coat or waistcoat. One, indeed, has left them in his chest at Port Mahon; another has always heard that he ought to have velvet clothes somewhere; and a third has heard somebody say, that soldiers ought to wear velvet. Can the enquirer be blamed if he goes away believing that a soldier's red coat is all that he has?
“ But the most obdurate incredulity may be shamed or silenced by facts. To overpower contradictions, let the soldier shew his velvet coat, and the Fingalist the original of Ossian,
« The difference between us and the blind man is Ætat. 71.
this: the blind man is unconvinced, because he cannot see; and we, because, though we can see, we find that nothing can be shown."
Notwithstanding the complication of disorders under which Johnson now laboured, he did not resign himself to despondency and discontent, but with wisdom and spirit endeavoured to console and amuse his mind with as many innocent enjoyments as he could procure. Sir John Hawkins has mentioned the cordiality with which he insisted that such of the members of the old club in Ivy-lane as survived, should meet again and dine together, which they did, twice at a tavern, and once at his house: and in order to ensure himself society in the evening for three days in the week, he instituted a club at the Essex Head, in Essex-street, then kept by Samuel Greaves, an old servant of Mr. Thrale's.
TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
“ It is inconvenient to me to come out; I should else have waited on you with an account of a little evening Club which we are establishing in Essex-street, in the Strand, and of which you are desired to be one. It will be held at the Essex Head, now kept by an old servant of Thrale's. The company is numerous, and, as you will see by the list, miscellaneous. The terms are lax, and the expences light. Mr. Barry was adopted by Dr. Brocklesby, who joined with me in forming the plan. We meet thrice a week, and he who misses forfeits two-pence. “ If you are willing to become a member, draw a 1783. line under your name. Return the list. We meet
Ætat 74. for the first time on Monday at eight.
so I am, &c. “ Dec. 4, 1783.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this Club, But when I mention only Mr. Daines Barrington, Dr. Brocklesby, Mr. Murphy, Mr. John Nichols, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Paradise, Dr. Horsley, Mr. Windham, I shall sufficiently obviate the misrepresentation of it by Sir John Hawkins, as if it had been a low ale-house association, by which Johnson was degraded. Johnson himself, like his namesake Old Ben, composed the Rules of his Club.
6 I was in Scotland when this Club was founded, and during all the winter. Johnson, however, declared I should be a member, and invented a word upon the occasion : " Boswell, (said he) is a very clubable man.” When I came to town, I was proposed by Mr. Barrington, and chosen. I believe there are few societies where there is better conversation or more decorum. Several of us resolved to continue it after our great founder was removed by death. Other members were added; and now, above eight years since that loss, we go on happily.
7 RULES. To-day deep thoughts with me resolve to drench “ In mirth, which after no repenting draws."-MILTON.
“ The Club shall consist of four-and-twenty.
" The meetings shall be on the Monday, Thursday, and Saturday of every week; but in the week before Easter there shall be no meeting.
Every member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not oftener.
“ Two members shall oblige themselves to attend in their turn every night from eight to ten, or to procure two to attend in their
Every member present at the Club shall spend at least six
In the end of this year he was seized with a spag
modick asthma of such violence, that he was conEtat. 74.
fined to the house in great pain, being sometimes obliged to sit all night in his chair, a recumbent posture being so hurtful to his respiration, that he could not endure lying in bed; and there came upon him at the same time that oppressive and fatal disease, a dropsy. It was a very severe winter, which proba
pence; and every miember who stays away shall forfeit three pence.
“ 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.
“ When any member returns after absence, he shall immediately lay down his forfeits; which if he omits to do, the President shall require.
- There shall be no general reckoning, but every man shall adjust his own expences.
“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 in the fourth month, shall be considered as having abdicated the Club.
“ When a vacancy is to be 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.
“ The master of the house shall give notice, six days before, to each of those members whose turn of necessary attendance is
“ The notice may be in these words :-- Sir, On the of
will be your turn of presiding at the EssexHead. Your company is therefore earnestly requested.'
“ One penny shall be left by each-member for the waiter."
Johnson's definition of a Club in this sense, in his Dictionary, is, “An assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions.”
bly aggravated his complaints; and the solitude in which Mr. Levett and Mrs. Williams had left him, Ætat. 74. rendered his life very gloomy. Mrs. Desmoulins, who still lived, was herself so very ill, that she could contribute
little to his relief. He, however, had none of that onsocial shyness which we commonly see in people afflicted with sickness. He did not hide his head from the world, in solitary abstraction; he did not deny himself to the visits of his friends and acquaintances; but at all times, when he was not overcome by sleep, was ready for conversation as in his best days.
TO MRS. LUCY PORTER IN LICHFIELD.
“ You may perhaps think me negligent that I have not written to you again upon the loss of your brother; but condolences and consolations are such common and such useless things, that the omission of them is no great crime: and my own diseases occupy my mind, and engage my care. My nights are miserably restless, and my days, therefore, are heavy. I try, however, to hold up my head as high as I can.
“ I am sorry that your health is impaired; perhaps the spring and the summer may, in some degree, restore it; but if not, we must submit to the inconveniencies of time, as to the other dispensations of Eternal Goodness. Pray for me, and write to me, or let Mr. Pearson write for
"I am, &c. “ London, Nov, 29, 1783.
" SAM, JOHNSON."
And now I am arrived at the last year of the life of SAMUEL JOHNSON, a year in which, although passed in severe indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evi