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Aetat. 71.] A letter to a young clergyman.
time let us play no trick, but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.
'The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar, of Aberdeen, who has written and published a very ingenious book', and who I think has a kindness for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.
'I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son is become a learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I never shall persuade to love me. When the Lives are done, I shall send them to complete her collection, but must send them in paper, as for want of a pattern, I cannot bind them to fit the rest.
'I am, Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'London, Aug. 21, 1780.'
This year he wrote to a young clergyman' in the country, the following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to Divines in general:
'Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence shewed me a letter, in which you make mention of me: I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your letter suggested to me.
"Your great friend is very fond of you; you can go no where without him."—" Ay, (said she,) he would follow me to any part of the world.” Then, (said the Earl), ask him to go with you to America." BosWELL. This lady was the niece of Johnson's friends the Herveys [ante, i. 123]. CROKER.
Essays on the History of Mankind. BOSWELL. Johnson could scarcely have known that Dunbar was an active opponent of the American war. Mackintosh, who was his pupil, writes of him :—' I shall ever be grateful to his memory for having contributed to breathe into my mind a strong spirit of liberty.' Mackintosh's Life, i. 12. The younger Colman, who attended, or rather neglected to attend his lectures, speaks of him as 'an acute frosty-faced little Dr. Dunbar, a man of much erudition, and great good-nature.' Random Records,
* Mr. Seward (Biographiana, p. 601) says that this clergyman was 'the son of an old and learned friend of his '-the Rev. Mr. Hoole, I conjecture.
Advice about composition.
'You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without some peculiarity of manner : but that manner may be good or bad, and a little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.
'Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than yours will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authours from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible to forget.
My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burthen your mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise, in the first words that occur; and, when you have matter, you will easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary; for by habit, your thoughts and diction will flow together'.
'The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgement of the writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its proper place.
'What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your parish; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the parson. The Dean of Carlisle, who was then a little rector in Northamptonshire3, told me, that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in a parish by the civil or savage manner of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was
'See post, iv. 14, and Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 19.
' Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore. Boswell.
Johnson, in 1764, passed some weeks at Percy's rectory. Ante, i. 562.
Aetat. 71.] Boswell's hopes of a future state.
civilised by a decayed gentlewoman, who came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr. Wheeler' of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and, when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved'. Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I pray GOD to bless you.
'I am, Sir,
Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780.'
My next letters to him were dated August 24, September 6, and October 1, and from them I extract the following passages:
'Your most humble servant,
'My brother David and I find the long indulged fancy of our comfortable meeting again at Auchinleck, so well realised, that it in some degree confirms the pleasing hope of O! preclarum diem !3 in a future state.'
See ante, p. 416.
See ante, i. 530.
'I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a peevish humour, or playing tricks; you will recollect that when I confessed to you, that I had once been intentionally silent to try your regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again'.'
'I rejoice to hear of your good state of health; I pray GoD to
* ' O præclarum diem quum ad illud divinum animorum concilium cœtumque proficiscar.' Cicero's De Senectute, c. 23.
• See ante, p. 451. III. 32
Boswell's Yorkshire chief.
continue it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added to my life, to have ten taken from yours; I mean, that I would be ten years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being, trusting always, that in another state, we shall meet never to be separated. Of this we can form no notion; but the thought, though indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear'.'
"The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you give me no account of your own situation, during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it by DR. JOHNSON would be a great painting2; you might write another London, a Poem.'
'I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, "let us keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power;" my revered Friend! how elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson! All that you have said in grateful praise of Mr. Walmsley3, I have long thought of you; but we are both Tories', which has a very general influence upon our sentiments. I hope that you will agree to meet me at York, about the end of this month; or if you will come to Carlisle, that would be better still, in case the Dean be there. Please to consider, that to keep each other's kindness, we should every year have that free and intimate communication of mind which can be had only when we are together. We should have both our solemn and our pleasant talk.'
'I write now for the third time, to tell you that my desire for our meeting this autumn, is much increased. I wrote to 'Squire Godfrey Bosville', my Yorkshire chief, that I should, perhaps, pay him a visit, as I was to hold a conference with Dr. Johnson at York. I give you my word and honour that I said not a word of his inviting you; but he wrote to me as follows:
1 See ante, ii. 186.
'I had not then seen his letters to Mrs. Thrale. 'In the Life of Edmund Smith. See ante, i. 94, and Johnson's Works, vii. 380.
• Unlike Walmsley and Johnson, of whom one was a Whig, the other a Tory. 'Walmsley was a Whig,' wrote Johnson, 'with all the virulence and malevolence of his party; yet difference of opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, and he endured me.' 'See ante, ii. 194, note 2.
An address to the Electors.
"I need not tell you I shall be happy to see you here the latter end of this month, as you propose; and I shall likewise be in hopes that you will persuade Dr. Johnson to finish the conference here. It will add to the favour of your own company, if you prevail upon such an associate, to assist your observations. I have often been entertained with his writings, and I once belonged to a club of which he was a member, and I never spent an evening there, but I heard something from him well worth remembering."
'We have thus, my dear Sir, good comfortable quarters in the neighbourhood of York, where you may be assured we shall be heartily welcome. I pray you then resolve to set out; and let not the year 1780 be a blank in our social calendar, and in that record of wisdom and wit, which I keep with so much diligence, to your honour, and the instruction and delight of others.'
Mr. Thrale had now another contest for the representation in parliament of the borough of Southwark, and Johnson kindly lent him his assistance, by writing advertisements and letters for him. I shall insert one as a specimen :*
'TO THE WORTHY ELECTORS OF THE BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK. 'GENTLEMEN,
'A new Parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of independent constituents; superiour to fear, hope, and expectation, who has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the Hall, and hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.
'I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough.
'I am, Gentlemen,
'Your most faithful
'And obedient servant,
'Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.'
On his birth-day, Johnson has this note:
'I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with