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told, to think my absence an inconvenience. I 1784. should certainly have been very glad to give so skilful a lover of antiquities any information about my native place, of which, however, I know not much, and have reason to believe that not much is known. Though I have not given you any amusement, I have received amusement from you. At Ashbourne, where I had very little company, I had the luck to borrow Mr, Bowyer's Life; a book so full of con, temporary history, that a literary man must find some of his old friends. I thought that I could, now and then, have told you some hints worth your notice ; and perhaps we may talk a life over. I hope we shall be much together ; you must now be to me what you were before, and what dear Mr. Allen was, besides. He was taken unexpectedly away, but I think he was a very good man. I have made little progress in recovery. I am very weak, and very sleepless : but I live on and hope.”
This various mass of correspondence, which I have this brought together, is valuable, both as an addition to the store which the publick already has of Johnson's writings, and as exhibiting a genuine and noble specimen of vigour and vivacity of mind, which neither age nor sickness could impair or diminish.
It may be observed, that his writings in every way, whether for the publick, or privately to his friends, was by fits and starts ; for we see frequently, that many letters are written on the same day. When he had once overcome his aversion to begin, he was, I suppose, desirous to go on, in order to relieve his mind from the uneasy reflection of delaying what he ought to do.
While in the country, notwithstanding the accu.
mulation of illness which he endured, his mind did Ætat. 75.
not lose its powers. He translated an Ode of Horace, which is printed in his works, and composed several prayers. I shall insert one of them, which is so wise and energetick, so philosophical and so pious, that I doubt not of its affording consolation to many a sincere Christian, when in a state of mind to which I believe the best are sometimes liable.5
And here I am enabled fully to refute a very unjust reflection, by Sir John Hawkins, both against Dr. Johnson, and his faithful servant, Mr. Francis Barber ; as if both of them had been guilty of culpable neglect towards a person of the name of Heely, whom Sir John chooses to call a relation of Dr. Johnson's. The fact is, that Mr. Heely was not his relation; he had indeed been married to one of his cousins, but she had died without having children, and he had married another womnan ; so that even the
s Against inquisitive and perplexing thoughts, “ O LORD, my Maker and Protector, who hast graciously sent me into this world to work out my salvation, enable me to drive from me all such unquiet and perplexing thoughts as may mislead or hinder me in the practice of those duties which Thou hast required. When I behold the works of thy hands, and consider the course of thy providence, give me grace always to remember that thy thoughts are not my thoughts, nor thy ways iny ways. And while it shall please thee to continue me in this world, where much is to be done, and little to be known, teach me by thy Holy Spirit, to withdraw my mind from unprofitable and dangerous enquiries, from difficulties vainly curious, and doubts impossible to be solved. Let me rejoice in the light which Thou hast imparted, let me serve Thee with active zeal and humble confidence, and wait with patient expectation for the time in which the soul which Thou receivest shall be satisfied with knowledge. Grant this, o LORD, for Jesus CHRIST's sake. Amen."
slight connection which there once had been by 1784. alliance was dissolved. Dr. Johnson, who had shewn very great liberality to this man while his first wife was alive, as has appeared in a former part of this work, was humane and charitable enough to continue his bounty to him occasionally; but surely there was no strong call of duty upon him or upon his legatee, to do more. The following letter, obligingly communicated to me by Mr. Andrew Strahan, will confirm what I have stated :
" TO MR, HEELY, NO. 5, IN PYE-STREET, WEST
“ As necessity obliges you to call so soon again upon me, you should at least have told the smallest sum that will supply your present want; you cannot .suppose that I have much to spare. Two guineas is as much as you ought to be behind with your creditor. If you wait on Mr. Strahan, in New-street, Fetter-lane, or in his absence, on Mr. Andrew Strahan, show this, by which they are entreated to advance you two guineas, and to keep this as a youcher.
« I am, Sir,
“ Your humble servant,
Indeed it is very necessary to keep in mind that Sir John Hawkins has unaccountably viewed John
1784. Son's character and conduct in almost every particu
rolar, with an unhappy prejudice. Ætat. 75.'
We now behold Johnson for the last time, in his native city, for which he ever retained a warm affection, and which, by a sudden apostrophe, under the word Lich, he introduces with reverence, into his immortal Work, THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY :- Salve,
? I shall add one instance only to those which I have thought it incumbent on me to point out. Talking of Mr. Garrick's having signified his willingness to let Johnson have the loan of any of his books to assist him in his edition of Shakspeare ; Sir John says, (page 444,) “Mr. Garrick knew not what risque he ran by this offer. Johnson had so strange a forgetfulness of obligations of this sort, that few who lent him books ever saw them again.” This surely conveys a most unfavourable insinuation, and has been so understood. Sir John mentions the single case of a curious edition of Politian, which he tells us, appeared to belong to Pembroke College, which, probably, had been considered by Jolinson as his own, for upwards of fifty years.” Would it not be fairer to consider this as an inadvertence, and draw no general inference? The truth is, that Johnson waa so attentive, that in one of his manuscripts in my possession, he has marked in two columns, books borrowed, and books lent.
In Sir John Hawkins's compilation, there are, however, some passages concerning Johnson which have unquestionable merit. ' One of them I shall transcribe, in justice to a writer whom I have · had too much occasion to censure, and to shew my fairness as the biographer of my illustrious friend: “ There was wanting in his conduct and behaviour, that dignity which results from a regular and orderly course of action, and by an irresistible power commands esteem. He could not be said to be a stayed man, nor so to have adjusted in his mind the balance of reason and passion, as to give occasion to say what may be observed of some men, that all
they do is just, fit, and right.” Yet a judicious friend well sugi gests, “ It might, however, have been added, that such men are
often merely just, and rigidly correct, while their hearts are cold and unfeeling; and that Johnson's virtues were of a much higher tone than those of the stayed, orderly man, here described."
magna parens /"8 While here, he felt a revival of all 1784. the tenderness of filial affection, an instance of which,
Ætat. 75. appeared in his ordering the grave-stone and inscription over Elizabeth Blaneyo to be substantially and carefully renewed.
To Mr. Henry White, a young clergyman, with. whom he now formed an intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an un, dutiful son. “ Once, indeed, (said he,) I was disobedient; I refused to attend my father to Uttoxetermarket. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault, I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory."
8 The following circumstance, mutually to the honour of Johnson and the corporation of his native city, has been communicated to me by the reverend Dr. Vyse, from the Town-Clerk : " Mr. Simpson has now before him, a record of the respect and veneration which the Corporation of Lichfield, in the year 1767, had for the merits and learning of Dr. Johnson. His father built the corner house in the Market-place, the two fronts of which, towards Market and Broad-market-street, stood upon waste land of the Corporation, under a forty years' lease, which was then expired. On the 15th of August, 1767, at a common-hall of the bailiffs and citizens, it was ordered (and that without any solicitation,) that a lease should be granted to Samuel Johnson, Doctor of Laws, of the encroachments at his house, for the term of ninety-nine years, at the old rent, which was five shillings. Of which, as Town-Clerk, Mr. Simpson had the honour and pleasure of informing him, and that he was desired to accept it, without paying any fine on the occasion, which lease was afterwards granted, and the Doctor died possessed of this property." 9. See Vol. I. p. 14. ,