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62

BOSWELL'S ATTACK OF MELANCHOLY [1776

since young Alexander has appeared, I hope no more difficulties will arise among you; for I sincerely wish you all happy. Do not teach the young ones to dislike me, as you dislike me yourself; but let me at least have Veronica's kindness, because she is my acquaintance.

'You will now have Mr. Boswell home; it is well that you have him; he has led a wild life. I have taken him to Lichfield, and he has followed Mr. Thrale to Bath. Pray take care of him, and tame him. The only thing in which I have the honour to agree with you is, in loving him; and while we are so much of a mind in a matter of so much importance, our other quarrels will, I hope, produce no great bitterness. I am, Madam, your most humble servant,

May 16, 1776.'

SAM. JOHNSON.'

'MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.

'Edinburgh, June 25, 1776. "You have formerly complained that my letters were too long. There is no danger of that complaint being made at present; for I find it difficult for me to write to you at all. [Here an account of having been afflicted with a return of melancholy or bad spirits.]

The boxes of books which you sent to me are arrived; but I have not yet examined the contents.

'I send you Mr. Maclaurin's paper for the claims his freedom in the Court of Session.'

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6 DR. JOHNSON TO MR. BOSWELL.

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DEAR SIR,-These black fits, of which you complain, perhaps hurt your memory as well as your imagination. When did I complain that your letters were too long 2 ? Your last letter, after a very long delay, brought very bad news. [Here a series of reflections upon melancholy, andwhat I could not help thinking strangely unreasonable in him who had suffered so much from it himself,—a good deal of severity and reproof, as if it were owing to my own fault,

1 Upon a settlement of our account of expences on a Tour to the Hebrides, there was a balance due to me, which Dr. Johnson chose to discharge by sending books.

2 Baretti told me that Johnson complained of my writing very long letters to him when I was upon the continent; which was most certainly true; but it seems my friend did not remember it.

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or that I was, perhaps, affecting it from a desire of distinction.]

Read Cheyne's English Malady; but do not let him teach you a foolish notion that melancholy is a proof of

acuteness. . .

...

'To hear that you have not opened your boxes of books is very offensive. The examination and arrangement of so many volumes might have afforded you an amusement very seasonable at present, and useful for the whole of life. I am, I confess, very angry that you manage yourself so ill.

'I do not now say any more, than that I am, with great kindness, and sincerity, dear Sir, your humble servant, 'July 2, 1776.' 'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'It was last year determined by Lord Mansfield, in the Court of King's Bench, that a negro cannot be taken out of the kingdom without his own consent.'

'DR. JOHNSON TO MR. BOSWELL.

'DEAR SIR,-I make haste to write again, lest my last letter should give you too much pain. If you are really oppressed with overpowering and involuntary melancholy, you are to be pitied rather than reproached..

...

'Now, my dear Bozzy, let us have done with quarrels and with censure. Let me know whether I have not sent you a pretty library. There are, perhaps, many books among them which you never need read through; but there are none which it is not proper for you to know, and sometimes to consult. Of these books, of which the use is only occasional, it is often sufficient to know the contents, that, when any question arises, you may know where to look for information.

'Since I wrote, I have looked over Mr. Maclaurin's plea, and think it excellent. How is the suit carried on? If by subscription, I commission you to contribute, in my name, what is proper. Let nothing be wanting in such a case. Dr. Drummond', I see, is superseded. His father would

1 The son of Johnson's old friend, Mr. William Drummond. (See vol. i. pp. 352-5.) He was a young man of such distinguished merit, that he was nominated to one of the medical professorships in the College of Edinburgh without solicitation, while he was at Naples.

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BOSWELL'S MELANCHOLY RELIEVED [1776

have grieved; but he lived to obtain the pleasure of his son's election, and died before that pleasure was abated.

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

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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 compli ments to Mrs. Boswell. I am, my dear Sir, your most affectionate

¿ July 6, 1776.'

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.

'MY DEAR SIR,

'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 1 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:

'July 25, 1776. O GOD, who hast ordained that whatever

Having other views, he did not accept of the honour, and soon afterwards died.

1 A Florentine nobleman, mentioned by Johnson in his Notes of his Tour in France. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him in London, in the spring of this year.

1776]

A PRAYER BEFORE STUDY

65

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.'

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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.'

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'To SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

SIR,-A young man, whose name is Paterson, offers himself this evening to the Academy. He is the son of a man 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. I am, Sir, your most humble servant, Aug. 3, 1776.'

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'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'MR. BOSWELL TO DR. JOHNSON.

'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.:-]

BOSWELL. II

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GRANGER'S BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY [1776 'Lord Hailes was against the decree in the case of my client, the minister; 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 1 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 cathedrâ "."

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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 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,

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"While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.' 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. Lordship will give him generous encouragement.'

'To MR. ROBERT LEVETT.

His

'DEAR SIR,-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.

1

I did not go into the sea till last Friday, but think to go

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.'

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

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