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Mr. William Seward.
and rejoice at Miss Rasay's advancement, and wish Sir Allan
'I hope to meet you somewhere towards the north, but am loath to come quite to Carlisle. Can we not meet at Manchester? But
we will settle it in some other letters.
'Mr. Seward', a great favourite at Streatham, has been, I think, enkindled by our travels with a curiosity to see the Highlands. I have given him letters to you and Beattie. He desires that a lodging may be taken for him at Edinburgh, against his arrival. He is just setting out.
'Langton has been exercising the militia'. Mrs. Williams is, I fear, declining. Dr. Lawrence says he can do no more. She is gone to summer in the country, with as many conveniences about her as she can expect; but I have no great hope. We must all die may we all be prepared!
'I suppose Miss Boswell reads her book, and young Alexander takes to his learning. Let me hear about them; for every thing
week, to meet by ourselves and talk freely. To be thought worthy of such a privilege cannot but exalt me. During my present absence from you, while, notwithstanding the gaiety which you allow me to possess, I am darkened by temporary clouds, I beg to have a few lines from you; a few lines merely of kindness, as a viaticum till I see you again. In your Vanity of Human Wishes, and in Parnell's Contentment, I find the only sure means of enjoying happiness; or, at least, the hopes of happiness. I ever am, with reverence and affection, Most faithfully yours, 'JAMES BOSWELL.'
1 William Seward, Esq., F.R.S., editor of Anecdotes of some distinguished persons, etc., in four volumes, 8vo., well known to a numerous and valuable acquaintance for his literature, love of the fine arts, and social virtues. I am indebted to him for several communications concerning Johnson. BOSWELL. Miss Burney frequently mentions him as visiting the Thrales. Few people do him justice,' said Mrs. Thrale to her, 'because as Dr. Johnson calls him, he is an abrupt young man; but he has excellent qualities, and an excellent understanding.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 141. Miss Burney, in one of her letters, says: Mr. Seward, who seems to be quite at home among them, appears to be a penetrating, polite, and agreeable young man. Mrs. Thrale says of him, that he does good to everybody, but speaks well of nobody.' Memoirs of Dr. Burney, ii. 89. He must not be confounded with the Rev. Mr. Seward of Lichfield.
* See post, under date of June 18, 1778.
that belongs to you, belongs in a more remote degree, and not, I hope, very remote, to, dear Sir,
'June 28, 1777.
TO THE SAME.
'This gentleman is a great favourite at Streatham, and therefore you will easily believe that he has very valuable qualities. Our narrative has kindled him with a desire of visiting the Highlands, after having already seen a great part of Europe. You must receive him as a friend, and when you have directed him to the curiosities of Edinburgh, give him instructions and recommendations for the rest of his journey. I am, dear Sir, 'Your most humble servant,
'June 24, 1777.'
Johnson's benevolence to the unfortunate was, I am confident, as steady and active as that of any of those who have been most eminently distinguished for that virtue. Innumerable proofs of it I have no doubt will be for ever concealed from mortal eyes. We may, however, form some judgement of it, from the many and very various instances which have been discovered. One, which happened in the course of this summer, is remarkable from the name and connection of the person who was the object of it. The circumstance to which I allude is ascertained by two letters, one to Mr. Langton, and another to the Reverend Dr. Vyse, rector of Lambeth, son of the respectable clergyman at Lichfield, who was contemporary with Johnson, and in whose father's family Johnson had the happiness of being kindly received in his early years.
'DR. JOHNSON TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. 'DEAR SIR,
'I have lately been much disordered by a difficulty of breathing, but am now better. I hope your house is well.
'You know we have been talking lately of St. Cross, at Winchester; I have an old acquaintance whose distress makes him very desirous of an hospital, and I am afraid I have not strength enough to get him into the Chartreux, He is a painter, who never rose
A descendant of Hugo Grotius.
higher than to get his immediate living, and from that, at eightythree, he is disabled by a slight stroke of the palsy, such as does not make him at all helpless on common occasions, though his hand is not steady enough for his art.
'My request is, that you will try to obtain a promise of the next vacancy, from the Bishop of Chester. It is not a great thing to ask, and I hope we shall obtain it. Dr. Warton has promised to favour him with his notice, and I hope he may end his days in peace. I am, Sir,
'June 29, 1777.'
'Your most humble servant,
'TO THE REVEREND DR. VYSE, AT LAMBETH.
'I doubt not but you will readily forgive me for taking the liberty of requesting your assistance in recommending an old friend to his Grace the Archbishop, as Governour of the Charter-house.
'His name is De Groot; he was born at Gloucester; I have known him many years. He has all the common claims to charity, being old, poor, and infirm, in a great degree. He has likewise another claim, to which no scholar can refuse attention; he is by several descents the nephew of Hugo Grotius; of him, from whom perhaps every man of learning has learnt something. Let it not be said that in any lettered country a nephew of Grotius asked a charity and was refused'.
'I have searched in vain for the letter which I spoke of, and which I wished, at your desire, to communicate to you. It was from Dr. Johnson, to return me thanks for my application to Archbishop Cornwallis in favour of poor De Groot. He rejoices at the success it met with, and is lavish in the praise he bestows upon
In the list of deaths in the Gent. Mag. for 1779, p. 103, we find, 'Feb. 8. Isaac de Groot, great-grandson to the learned Grotius. He had long been supported by private donations, and at length was provided for in the Charterhouse, where he died.'
his favourite, Hugo Grotius. I am really sorry that I cannot find this letter, as it is worthy of the writer. That which I send you enclosed' is at your service. It is very short, and will not perhaps be thought of any consequence, unless you should judge proper to consider it as a proof of the very humane part which Dr. Johnson took in behalf of a distressed and deserving person. I am, Sir, 'Your most obedient humble servant,
'DR. JOHNSON TO MR. EDWARD DILLY'.
'To the collection of English Poets, I have recommended the volume of Dr. Watts to be added; his name has long been held by me in veneration3, and I would not willingly be reduced to tell of him only that he was born and died. Yet of his life I know very little, and therefore must pass him in a manner very unworthy of his character, unless some of his friends will favour me with the necessary information; many of them must be known to you; and by your influence, perhaps I may obtain some instruction. My plan does not exact much; but I wish to distinguish Watts, a man who never wrote but for a good purpose. Be pleased to do for me what you can.
'I am, Sir, your humble servant,
'MY DEAR SIR,
'The fate of poor Dr. Dodd made a dismal impression upon my mind.
'I had sagacity enough to divine that you wrote his speech to the Recorder, before sentence was pronounced. I am glad you have written so much for him; and I hope to be favoured with an exact list of the several pieces when we meet.
'I received Mr. Seward as the friend of Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, and as a gentleman recommended by Dr. Johnson to my attention. I have introduced him to Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo, and Mr.
1 The preceding letter. Boswell.
'This letter was addressed not to Mr. Dilly, but to Mr. W. Sharp, Junior. See Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 99. CROKER.
• See ante, i. 361.
Some Scotch causes.
Nairne. He is gone to the Highlands with Dr. Gregory; when he returns I shall do more for him.
Sir Allan Maclean' has carried that branch of his cause, of which we had good hopes: the President and one other Judge only were against him. I wish the House of Lords may do as well as the Court of Session has done. But Sir Allan has not the lands of Brolos quite cleared by this judgement, till a long account is made up of debts and interests on the one side, and rents on the other. I am, however, not much afraid of the balance.
'Macquarry's estates', Staffa and all, were sold yesterday, and bought by a Campbell. I fear he will have little or nothing left out of the purchase money.
'I send you the case against the negro', by Mr. Cullen, son to Dr. Cullen, in opposition to Maclaurin's for liberty, of which you have approved. Pray read this, and tell me what you think as a Politician, as well as a Poet, upon the subject.
'Be so kind as to let me know how your time is to be distributed next autumn. I will meet you at Manchester, or where you please; but I wish you would complete your tour of the cathedrals, and come to Carlisle, and I will accompany you a part of the way homewards.
'I am ever,
'Most faithfully yours,
'To JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
'Your notion of the necessity of an yearly interview is very pleasing to both my vanity and tenderness. I shall, perhaps, come to Carlisle another year; but my money has not held out so well as it used to do. I shall go to Ashbourne, and I purpose to make Dr. Taylor invite you. If you live a while with me at his house, we shall have much time to ourselves, and our stay will be no expence to us or him. I shall leave London the 28th; and after some stay at Oxford and Lichfield, shall probably come to Ashbourne about the end of your Session, but of all this you shall have notice. Be satisfied we will meet somewhere.
'What passed between me and poor Dr. Dodd you shall know more fully when we meet.
1 See ante, p. 116.
'See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 16.
3 See ante, p. 99, and post, under Nov. 29, 1777.