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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
• HENRY THRALE.' Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.' On his birth-day, Johnson has this note : *I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with
Lord Chancellor Thurlow's letter. (A.D. 1780.
more strength of body, and greater vigour of mind, than I think is common at that age'.'
But still he complains of sleepless nights and idle days, and forgetfulness, or neglect of resolutions. He thus pathetically expresses himself,-
Surely I shall not spend my whole life with my own total disapprobation.'
Mr. Macbean, whom I have mentioned more than once, as one of Johnson's humble friends, a deserving but unfortunate man, being now oppressed by age and poverty, Johnson solicited the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, to have him admitted into the Charterhouse. I take the liberty to insert his Lordship's answer", as I am eager to embrace every occasion of augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my illustrious friend:• To DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
• London, October 24, 1780. SIR,
“I have this moment received your letter, dated the 19th, and returned from Bath.
• In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux', without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to the establishment of the House, the opportunity of making the charity so good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if you'll favour me with notice of it, I will
Miss Burney described an evening spent by Johnson at Dr. Burney's some weeks earlier :- He was in high spirits and good humour. talked all the talk, affronted nobody, and delighted everybody. I never saw him more sweet, nor better attended to by his audience.' In December she wrote :-Dr. Johnson is very gay, and sociable, and comfortable, and quite as kind to me as ever.' A little later she wrote to Mrs. Thrale: Does Dr. Johnson continue gay and good-humoured, and " valuing nobody" in a morning? Jme. D'Arblay's Diary, i.412, 429, 432.
* Pr. and Med. p. 185. BOSWELL.
try Aetat. 71.)
Mr. Thrale loses the election.
try to recommend him to the place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate.
'I am, Sir, with great regard,
• Your most faithful
• Thurlow'.' "To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq. • DEAR SIR,
'I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without working much.
“Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election”; he is now going to Brighthelmston, and expects me to go with him; and how long I shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall go, and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of man, that we love one another, and
· Macbean was, on Lord Thurlow's nomination, admitted “a poor brother of the Charterhouse.' Ante, i. 216. Johnson, on Macbean's death on June 26, 1784, wrote :—He was one of those who, as Swift says, stood as a screen between me and death. He has, I hope, made a good exchange. He was very pious; he was very innocent; he did no ill; and of doing good a continual tenour of distress allowed him few opportunities; he was very highly esteemed in the house [the Charterhouse].' Piozzi Letters, ii. 373. The quotation from Swift is found in the lines on the Death of Dr. Swift:
• The fools, my juniors by a year,
Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xi. 246. Johnson, in May, had persuaded Mrs. Thrale to come up from Bath to canvass for Mr. Thrale. My opinion is that you should come for a week, and show yourself, and talk in high terms. Be brisk, and be splendid, and be publick. The voters of the Borough are too proud and too little dependant to be solicited by deputies; they expect the gratification of seeing the candidate bowing or curtseying before them. If you are proud, they can be sullen. Mr. Thrale certainly shall not come, and yet somebody must appear whom the people think it worth the while to look at. Piozzi Letters, ii. 114.
Johnson's liking for David Boswell.
that we wish each other's happiness, and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.
'I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.
'I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father received him kindly, but not fondly; however, you seem to have lived well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as you can.
*You lately told me of your health : I can tell you in return, that my health has been for more than a year past, better than it has been for many years before. Perhaps it may please God to give us some time together before we are parted.
“I am, dear Sir,
Sam. JOHNSON. October 17, 1780.'
The alehouse in the city where Johnson used to go and sit with George Psalmanazar was, no doubt, the club in Old Street, where he met also the metaphysical tailor,' the uncle of Hoole the poet (post, under March 30, 1783). Psalmanazar is mentioned a third time by Boswell (post, May 15, 1784) in a passage borrowed from Hawkins's edition of Johnson's Works, xi. 206, where it is stated that “Johnson said: “ He had never seen the close of the life of any one that he wished so much his own to resemble as that of him, for its purity and devotion." He was asked whether he ever contradicted him. “I should as soon,” said he,“ have thought of contradicting a bishop." When he was asked whether he had ever mentioned Formosa before him, he said, "he was afraid to mention even China."! We learn from Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 547, that ' Psalmanazar lived in Ironmonger Row, Old Street; in the neighbourhood whereof he was so well known and esteemed, that, as Dr. Hawkesworth once told me, scarce any person, even children, passed him without shewing him the usual signs of respect.' In the list of the writers of the Universal History that Johnson drew up a few days before his death his name is given as the historian of the Jews, Gauls, and Spaniards (post, November 1784). According to Mrs. Piozzi (Anecdotes, p. 175):–His pious and patient endurance of a tedious illness, ending in an exemplary death, confirmed the strong impression his merit had made upon the mind of Mr. Johnson. “It is so very difficult," said he always, “for a sick man not to be a scoundrel.” Johnson, in Prayers and Meditations, p. 102, mentions him as a man whose life was, I think, uniform.' Smollett, in Humphry Clinker (in Melford's Letter of June 10), describes him as one who, after having drudged half a century in the literary mill, in all the simplicity and abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few booksellers,