Aetat. 67.]

Boswell's melancholy relieved.


'Langton's lady has brought him a girl, and both are well; I dined with him the other day. *

'It vexes me to tell you, that on the evening of the 29th of May I was seized by the gout, and am not quite well. The pain has not been violent, but the weakness and tenderness were very troublesome, and what is said to be very uncommon, it has not alleviated my other disorders. Make use of youth and health while you have them; make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell. I am, my dear Sir,

'July 6', 1776.'


'Your most affectionate


'Edinburgh, July 18, 1776.

'Your letter of the second of this month was rather a harsh medicine; but I was delighted with that spontaneous tenderness, which, a few days afterwards, sent forth such balsam as your next brought me. I found myself for some time so ill that all I could do was to preserve a decent appearance, while all within was weakness and distress. Like a reduced garrison that has some spirit left, I hung out flags, and planted all the force I could muster, upon the walls. I am now much better, and I sincerely thank you for your kind attention and friendly counsel.





'Count Manucci came here last week from travelling in Ireland. I have shewn him what civilities I could on his own account, on your's, and on that of Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. He has had a fall from his horse, and been much hurt. I regret this unlucky accident, for he seems to be a very amiable man.'

As the evidence of what I have mentioned at the beginning of this year, I select from his private register the following passage:

In the third and subsequent editions the date is wrongly given as the 16th.

2 A Florentine nobleman, mentioned by Johnson in his Notes of his Tour in France [ante, Oct. 18, 1775]. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him in London, in the spring of this year. BOSWELL. Mrs. Thrale wrote to Johnson from Bath on May 16:-'Count Manucci would

wait seven years to come with you; so do not disappoint the man, but bring him along with you. His delight in your company is like Boniface's exultation when the squire speaks Latin; for understand you he certainly cannot.' Piozzi Letters, i. 328. It was not the squire, but the priest, Foigard, who by his Latin did Boniface good. The Beaux Stratagem, act iii. sc. 2.



A prayer before study.

[A.D. 1776.

'July 25, 1776. O GOD, who hast ordained that whatever is to be desired should be sought by labour, and who, by thy blessing, bringest honest labour to good effect, look with mercy upon my studies and endeavours. Grant me, O LORD, to design only what is lawful and right; and afford me calmness of mind, and steadiness of purpose, that I may so do thy will in this short life, as to obtain happiness in the world to come, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST our Lord. Amen '.'

It appears from a note subjoined, that this was composed when he purposed to apply vigorously to study, particularly of the Greek and Italian tongues.'

Such a purpose, so expressed, at the age of sixty-seven, is admirable and encouraging; and it must impress all the thinking part of my readers with a consolatory confidence in habitual devotion, when they see a man of such enlarged intellectual powers as Johnson, thus in the genuine earnestness of secrecy, imploring the aid of that Supreme Being, 'from whom cometh down every good and every perfect gift".'



'A young man, whose name is Paterson, offers himself this evening to the Academy. He is the son of a man3 for whom I have long had a kindness, and who is now abroad in distress. I shall be glad that you will be pleased to shew him any little countenance, or pay him any small distinction. How much it is in your power to favour or to forward a young man I do not know; nor do I know how much this candidate deserves favour by his personal merit, or what hopes his proficiency may now give of future eminence. I recommend him as the son of my friend. Your character and station enable you to give a young man great encouragement by very easy means. You have heard of a man who asked no other favour of Sir Robert Walpole, than that he would bow to him at his levee.

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Aetat. 67.] Granger's BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY.


'Edinburgh, August 30, 1776.


[After giving him an account of my having examined the chests of books which he had sent to me, and which contained what may be truely called a numerous and miscellaneous Stall Library, thrown together at random :-]

'Lord Hailes was against the decree in the case of my client, the minister1; not that he justified the minister, but because the parishioner both provoked and retorted. I sent his Lordship your able argument upon the case for his perusal. His observation upon it in a letter to me was, "Dr. Johnson's Suasorium is pleasantly and artfully composed. I suspect, however, that he has not convinced himself; for, I believe that he is better read in ecclesiastical history, than to imagine that a Bishop or a Presbyter has a right to begin censure or discipline è cathedra3."

'For the honour of Count Manucci, as well as to observe that exactness of truth which you have taught me, I must correct what I said in a former letter. He did not fall from his horse, which might have been an imputation on his skill as an officer of cavalry; his horse fell with him.

'I have, since I saw you, read every word of Granger's Biographical History. It has entertained me exceedingly, and I do not think him the Whig that you supposed. Horace Walpole's being his patron 5 is, indeed, no good sign of his political principles. But he denied to Lord Mountstuart that he was a Whig, and said he had been accused by both parties of partiality. It seems he was like Pope,

"While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory"."

1 See ante, p. 58.


Why his Lordship uses the epithet pleasantly, when speaking of a grave piece of reasoning, I cannot conceive. But different men have different notions of pleasantry. I happened to sit by a gentleman one evening at the Opera-house in London, who, at the moment when Medea appeared to be in great agony at the thought of killing her children, turned to me with a smile, and said, "funny enough.' BOSWELL.

3 Dr. Johnson afterwards told me, that he was of opinion that a clergyman had this right. BOSWELL.


* Johnson, nearly three years

earlier, had said of Granger :-'The dog is a Whig. I do not like much to see a Whig in any dress; but I hate to see a Whig in a parson's gown.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 24, 1773

5 'I did my utmost,' wrote Horace Walpole (Letters, v. 168), 'to dissuade Mr. Granger from the dedication, and took especial pains to get my virtues left out of the question.'

In moderation placing all my glory,

While Tories call me Whig,
and Whigs a Tory.'

Pope, Imitations of Horace, Bk. ii
Sat. 1. 1. 67.


Johnson at Brighthelmstone.

[A.D. 1776.

I wish you would look more into his book; and as Lord Mountstuart wishes much to find a proper person to continue the work upon Granger's plan, and has desired I would mention it to you; if such a man occurs, please to let me know. His Lordship will give him generous encouragement.'



'Having spent about six weeks at this place, we have at length resolved upon returning. I expect to see you all in Fleet-street on the 30th of this month.

'I did not go into the sea till last Friday1, but think to go most of this week, though I know not that it does me any good. My nights are very restless and tiresome, but I am otherwise well.

'I have written word of my coming to Mrs. Williams. Remember me kindly to Francis and Betsy. I am, Sir,

'Brighthelmstone3, Oct. 21, 1776.'

'Your humble servant,


I again wrote to Dr. Johnson on the 21st of October, informing

'One of the dippers at Brighthelmstone, seeing Mr. Johnson swim in the year 1766, said :-"Why, Sir, you must have been a stout-hearted gentleman forty years ago." Piozzi's Anec. p. 113. Johnson, in his verses entitled, In Rivum a Mola Stoana Lichfeldia diffluentem (Works, i. 163), writes :

'Errat adhuc vitreus per prata virentia rivus,

Quo toties lavi membra tenella puer;

Hic delusa rudi frustrabar brachia


Dum docuit blanda voce natare pater.'

2 For this and Dr. Johnson's other letters to Mr. Levett, I am indebted to my old acquaintance Mr. Nathaniel Thomas, whose worth and ingenuity have been long known to a respectable, though not a wide circle; and whose collection of medals would do credit to persons of greater opulence. BOSWELL.

3 Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale shew the difference between modern Brighton and the Brighthelmstone of his days. Thus he writes :— 'Ashbourne, Sept. 27, 1777. I know not when I shall write again, now you are going to the world's end [i.e. Brighton]. Extra anni solisque vias, where the post will be a long time in reaching you. I shall, notwithstanding all distance, continue to think on you.' Piozzi Letters, i. 387. 'Oct. 6, 1777. Methinks you are now a great way off; and if I come, I have a great way to come to you; and then the sea is so cold, and the rooms are so dull; yet I do love to hear the sea roar and my mistress talk-For when she talks, ye gods! how she will talk. I wish I were with you, but we are now near half the length of England asunder. It is frightful to think how much time must pass between writing this letter and receiving an answer, if any answer were necessary.' Ib. ii. 2.

Aetat. 67.]

Boswell's father.


him, that my father had, in the most liberal manner, paid a large debt for me1, and that I had now the happiness of being upon very good terms with him; to which he returned the following answer.



'I had great pleasure in hearing that you are at last on good terms with your father 2. Cultivate his kindness by all honest and manly means. Life is but short; no time can be afforded but for the indulgence of real sorrow, or contests upon questions seriously momentous. Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity. It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled. May you and your father pass the remainder of your time in reciprocal benevolence!

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'Do you ever hear from Mr. Langton? I visit him sometimes, but he does not talk. I do not like his scheme of life 3; but as I am not permitted to understand it, I cannot set any thing right that is wrong. His children are sweet babies.

Let me

'I hope my irreconcileable enemy, Mrs. Boswell, is well. Desire her not to transmit her malevolence to the young people. have Alexander, and Veronica, and Euphemia, for my friends.

'Mrs. Williams, whom you may reckon as one of your well-wishers, is in a feeble and languishing state, with little hope of growing better. She went for some part of the autumn into the country, but is little benefited; and Dr. Lawrence confesses that his art is at an end. Death is, however, at a distance; and what more than that can we say of ourselves? I am sorry for her pain, and more sorry for her decay. Mr. Levett is sound, wind and limb.

'I was some weeks this autumn at Brighthelmstone. The place was very dull, and I was not well; the expedition to the Hebrides was the

Boswell wrote to Temple on Nov. 3, 1780:-'I could not help smiling at the expostulation which you suggest to me to try with my father. It would do admirably with some fathers; but it would make mine much worse, for he cannot bear that his son should talk with him as a man. I can only lament his unmelting coldness to my wife and

children, for I fear it is hopeless to think of his ever being more affectionate towards them. Yet it must be acknowledged that his paying £1000 of my debt some years ago was a large bounty. He allows me £300 a year.' Letters of Boswell, p. 255.

2 See ante, Aug. 27, 1775, note. 3 See ante, p. 48, note 4.


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