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me from the dropsy, I am yet very weak, and have not passed the door since the 13th of December. I hope for some help from warm weather, which will surely come in time.

I could not have the consent of physicians to go to church yesterday; I therefore received the holy sacrament at home, in the room where I communicated with dear Mrs. Williams, a little before her death. O! my friend, the approach of death is very dreadful. I anı afraid to think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is vain to look round and round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy that he who has lived to-day may live to-morrow. But let us learn to derive our hope only from God.

In the meantime let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now living but you and Mr. Hector, that was the friend of my youth. Do not neglect, dear Sir, Yours affectionately, SAM. JOHNSON.

London, Easter Monday,
April 12, 1784.

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And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tower, Untouched his cottage, and his slumbers sound,


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Still raise for good the supplicating voice, But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

Safe in his power whose eyes discern afar The secret ambush of a specious prayer; Implore his aid, in his decisions rest, 111 Secure, whate'er he gives, he gives the best. Yet, when the sense of sacred presence fires, And strong devotion to the skies aspires, Pour forth thy fervors for a healthful mind, Obedient passions, and a will resign'd; 116 For love, which scarce collective man can fill;

For patience, sovereign o'er transmuted ill; For faith, that, panting for a happier seat, Counts death kind Nature's signal of re

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JAMES BOSWELL (1740–1795)

James Boswell was the son of a Scotch laird at Auchinleck, in Ayrshire, and was prepared for the bar at Edinburgh and Glasgow. He also studied at Utrecht, later, entered the Middle Temple in London, and, in 1786, was admitted to the English bar. He traveled widely, cultivated assiduously the society of famous men, and made literary stock of their conversation and correspondence. During one of his tours he 'gratified his curiosity much in dining with Jean Jacques Rousseau,' then an exile in the wilds of Neufchatel.' At another time, he got as far as Corsica, published an Account on his return, and, when Paoli, the Corsican patriot, took refuge in London in 1776, became his constant guest. But the acquaintance which was particularly fruitful for English literature was that with Dr. Samuel Johnson, begun in 1763 and lasting until Johnson's death. Boswell was gifted with a high degree of curiosity, acute perception and a retentive memory, and he early formed the habit of keeping an exact journal. It is reported of him that he would lay down his knife and fork, and take out his tablets to record a good anecdote.' In spite of toadyism and vanity and his habit of taking notes, he had the faculty of making himself agreeable as a companion and, in 1773, Johnson got him elected to the Literary Club, thus vastly extending his opportunities for observation. The same year, the two toured the Hebrides together. During this journey Boswell allowed Johnson to read portions of his journal, and the great man acknowledged that it was 'a very exact picture of a portion of his life.' The year after Johnson's death Boswell published his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Dr. Johnson, and during the next few years, he brought to completion the Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791). This remarkable book is as vital and intimate as a masterpiece of fiction and has the additional interest that it is an authentic transcript from the life of a great and influential man of peculiar social qualities, the whole exhibiting,' as the title page has it, a view of literature and literary men in Great Britain for near half a century, during which he flourished.'


avowed principles, and become the tool of a government which he held to be founded in usurpation. I have taken care to have it in my power to refute 5 them from the most authentic information. Lord Bute told me that Mr. Wedderburne, now Lord Loughborough, was the person who first mentioned this subject to him. Lord Loughborough told me that the pension was granted to Johnson solely as the reward of his literary merit, without any stipulation whatever, or even tacit understanding that he should write for the administration. His lordship added, that he was confident the political tracts which Johnson afterwards did write, as they were entirely consonant with his own opinions, would have been written by him though no pension had been granted to him.

The accession of George the Third to the throne of these kingdoms, opened a new and brighter prospect to men of literary merit, who had been honored with no mark of royal favor in the preceding reign. His present Majesty's education in this country, as well as his taste and beneficence, prompted him to to be the patron of science and the arts; and early this year, Johnson having been represented to him as a very learned and good man, without any certain provision, his Majesty was pleased to grant him a 15 pension of three hundred pounds a year. The Earl of Bute, who was then prime minister, had the honor to announce this instance of his sovereign's bounty, concerning which, many and various stories, 20 all equally erroneous, have been propagated; maliciously representing it as a political bribe to Johnson, to desert his

Mr. Thomas Sheridan and Mr. Murphy, who then lived a good deal both with him and Mr. Wedderburne, told me


enforce obligation. You have conferred favors on a man who has neither alliance nor interest, who has not merited them by services, nor courted them by officiousness; you have spared him the shame of solicitation, and the anxiety of suspense.

'What has been thus elegantly given, will, I hope, be not reproach fully enjoyed; I shall endeavor to give your Lordship the only rec

gratification of finding that your benefits are
not improperly bestowed. I am, my Lord,
'Your Lordship's most obliged,
'Most obedient, and most humble servant,

that they previously talked with Johnson upon this matter, and that it was perfectly understood by all parties that the pension was merely honorary. Sir Joshua Reynolds told me, that Johnson called on him after his Majesty's intention had been notified to him, and said he I wished to consult his friends as to the propriety of his accepting this mark of the royal favor, after the definitions 10 ompense which generosity desires,- the which he had given in his Dictionary of 'pension' and 'pensioners.' He said he should not have Sir Joshua's answer till next day, when he would call again, and desired he might think of it. Sir 15 Joshua answered that he was clear to give his opinion then, that there could be no objection to his receiving from the king a reward for literary merit; and that certainly the definitions in his 20 Dictionary were not applicable to him. Johnson, it should seem, was satisfied, for he did not call again till he had accepted the pension, and had waited on Lord Bute to thank him. He then told Sir 25 Joshua that Lord Bute said to him expressly, 'It is not given you for anything you are to do, but what you have done.' His lordship, he said, behaved in the handsomest manner. He repeated the 30 words twice, that he might be sure Johnson heard them, and thus set his mind perfectly at ease. * * *

But I shall not detain my readers longer by any words of my own, on a 35 subject on which I am happily enabled, by the favor of the Earl of Bute, to present them with what Johnson himself wrote; his lordship having been pleased to communicate to me a copy of the fol- 40 lowing letter to his father, which does great honor both to the writer and to the noble person to whom it is addressed:

This year his friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, paid a visit of some weeks to his native county, Devonshire, in which he was accompanied by Johnson, who was much pleased with this jaunt, and declared he had derived from it a great accession of new ideas. He was entertained at the seats of several noblemen and gentlemen in the west of England, but the greatest part of this time was passed at Plymouth, where the magnificence of the navy, the ship-building and all its circumstances, afforded him a grand Subject for contemplation. The commissioner of the dockyard paid him the compliment of ordering the yacht to convey him and his friend to the Eddystone, to which they accordingly sailed. But the weather was so tempestuous that they could not land. *

Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom I was obliged for my information concerning this excursion, mentions a very characteristical anecdote of Johnson while at Plymouth. Having observed that, in consequence of the dock-yard, a new town had arisen about two miles off as a rival to the old; and knowing, from his

'To the Right Honorable the Earl of 45 sagacity and just observation of human Bute

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'MY LORD When the bills were yesterday delivered to me by Mr. Wedderburne, I was informed by him of the future favors 50 which his Majesty has, by your Lordship's recommendation, been induced to intend for


'Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner in which it is bestowed; your Lordship's kindness includes every circumstance that can gratify delicacy, or

nature, that it is certain, if a man hates at all, he will hate his next neighbor, he concluded that this new and rising

1 At one of these seats Dr. Amyat, physician in London, told me he happened to meet him. In order to amuse him till dinner should be ready, he was taken out to walk in the garden. The master of the house, thinking it proper to introduce something scientific into the conversation, addressed him thus: 'Are you a botanist, Dr. Johnson?' No. 55 sir,' answered Johnson, 'I am not a botanist; and (alluding no doubt to his near-sightedness), should I wish to become a botanist, I must first turn myself into a reptile.'


him to live in the immense metropolis of London. Mr. Gentleman, a native of Ireland, who passed some years in Scotland as a player, and as an instructor in the English language, a man whose talents and worth were depressed by misfortunes, had given me a representation of the figure and manner of DICTIONARY JOHNSON! as he was then generally called; and during my first visit to London, which was for three months in 1760, Mr. Derrick, the poet, who was Gentleman's friend and countryman, flattered me with hopes that he would in

town could not but excite the envy and jealousy of the old, in which conjecture he was very soon confirmed; he, therefore, set himself resolutely on the side of the old town, the established town, in which his lot was cast, considering it as a kind of duty to stand by it. He accordingly entered warmly into its interests, and upon every occasion talked of the dockers, as the inhabitants of the 10 new town were called, as upstarts and aliens. Plymouth is very plentifully supplied with water by a river brought into it from a great distance, which is so abundant that it runs to waste in the 15 troduce me to Johnson, an honor of which

town. The Dock, or New-town, being totally destitute of water, petitioned Plymouth that a small portion of the conduit might be permitted to go to them,

I was very ambitious. But he never found an opportunity, which made me doubt that he had promised to do what was not in his power; till Johnson, some

might very well have introduced you. I had a kindness for Derrick, and am sorry he is dead.'

and this was now under consideration. 20 years afterwards, told me, 'Derrick, sir, Johnson, affecting to entertain the passions of the place, was violent in opposition; and half-laughing at himself for his pretended zeal, where he had no concern, exclaimed, 'No, no; I am against 25 the dockers; I am a Plymouth man. Rogues! let them die of thirst. They shall not have a drop!'

* * *

In the summer of 1761 Mr. Thomas Sheridan was at Edinburgh, and delivered lectures upon the English language and public speaking to large and respectable audiences. I was often in his company, and heard him frequently expatiate upon 30 Johnson's extraordinary knowledge, talents, and virtues, repeat his pointed sayings, describe his particularities, and boast of his being his guest sometimes till two or three in the morning. At his house I hoped to have many opportunities of seeing the sage, as Mr. Sheridan obligingly assured me I should not be disappointed.

1763: Aetat. 54. In 1763, he furnished to The Poetical Calendar, published by Fawkes and Woty, a character of Collins, which he afterwards ingrafted into his entire life of that admirable poet, in the collection of lives which he wrote for 35 the body of English poetry, formed and published by the booksellers of London. His account of the melancholy depression with which Collins was severely afflicted, and which brought him to his grave, is, 40 I think, one of the most tender and interesting passages in the whole series of his writings. * * *

This is to me a memorable year; for

When I returned to London in the end of 1762, to my surprise and regret I found an irreconcilable difference had taken place between Johnson and Sheridan. A pension of two hundred pounds a year had been given to Sheridan. in it I had the happiness to obtain the 45 Johnson, who thought slightingly of acquaintance of that extraordinary man Sheridan's art, upon hearing that he was whose memoirs I am now writing: an also pensioned, exclaimed,What! have acquaintance which I shall ever esteem they given him a pension? Then it is as one of the most fortunate circumtime for me to give up mine.' Whether stances in my life. Though then but two- 50 this proceeded from a momentary indigand-twenty, I had for several years read nation, as if it were an affront to his his works with delight and instruction, exalted merit that a player should be reand had the highest reverence for their warded in the same manner with him, or author, which had grown up in my fancy was the sudden effect of a fit of peevishinto a kind of mysterious veneration, by 55 ness, it was unluckily said, and indeed figuring to myself a state of solemn, ele- cannot be justified. Mr. Sheridan's penvated abstraction in which I supposed sion was granted to him not as a player,

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