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SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D.
IN 1764 and 1765 it should seem that Dr. Johnson was so busily employed with his edition of Shakspeare as to have had little leisure for any other literary exertion, or, indeed, even for private correspondence'. He did not favour me with a single letter for more than two years, for which it will appear that he afterwards apologised.
Notwithstanding his long silence, I never omitted to write to him, when I had any thing worthy of communicating. I generally kept copies of my letters to him, that I might have a full view of our correspondence, and never be at a loss to understand any reference in his letters. He kept the greater part of mine very carefully; and a short time before his death was attentive enough to seal them up in bundles, and order them to be delivered to me, which was accordingly done. Amongst them I found one, of which I had not made a copy, and which I own I
[This trait is amusing : Mr. Boswell concludes that because Johnson did not, for two years, write to him, he wrote to nobody, and was exclusively occupied with his Shakspeare, though we have seen, that, in those years, he found time to pay visits to his friends in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and at Cambridge and Winchester. "He also visited Brighton. If Mr. Boswell had been those two years in London, there can be no doubt that he would have found Johnson by no mcans absorbed in Shakspeare. --En.) VOL. II.
read with pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years. It is dated November, 1765, at the Palace of Pascal Paoli, in Corte, the capital of Corsica, and is full of generous enthusiasm. After giving a sketch of what I had seen and heard in that island, it proceeded thus: “I dare to call this a spirited tour. I dare to challenge your approbation.”
This letter produced the following answer, which I found on my arrival at Paris.
“ A MR. MR. BOSWELL, chez Mr. Waters, Banquier, à Paris.
“ Johnson's-court, Fleet-street, 14 Jan. 1766. “ Dear Sir,-Apologies are seldom of any use. We will delay till your arrival the reasons, good or bad, which have made me such a sparing and ungrateful correspondent. Be assured, for the present, that nothing has lessened either the esteem or love with which I dismissed you at Harwich. Both have been increased by all that I have been told of you by yourself, or others; and when you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I hope, unalterable friend.
« All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me. No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour; and the pleasure which I
promise myself from your journals and remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment will be sufficient to afford it.
“ Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come home, and expect such welcome as is due to him, whom a wise and noble curiosity has led, where perhaps no native of this country ever was before.
“ I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would I willingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your return. I am afraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind which has been so long feasted with variety. But let us try what esteem and kindness can effect.
“As your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a ramble, I doubt not but you will think his sickness, or even his desire to see you, a sufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we live, and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends. Parents we can have but once; and he
tained the newspapers these many weeks'; and what is greater still, I have risen every morning since New-year's day, at about eight: when I was up, I have indeed done but little; yet it is no slight advancement to obtain for so many hours more the consciousness of being
“I wish you were in my new study? ; I am now writing the first letter in it. I think it looks very pretty about me.
“Dyer is constant at THE CLUB; Hawkins is remiss; I am not over diligent. Dr. Nugent, Dr. Goldsmith, and Mr. Reynolds, are very constant. Mr. Lye' is printing his Saxon and Gothick Dictionary: all the club subscribes.
“You will pay my respects to all my Lincolnshire friends. I am, dear sir, most affectionately yours, Sam. JOHNSON." “ TO BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. AT LANGTON.
“ Johnson's-court, Fleet-streci, 10th May, 1766. “ Dear sir,- In supposing that I should be more than commonly affected by the death of Peregrine Langton , you were not mistaken; he was one of those whom I loved at once by instinct and by reason. I have seldom indulged more hope of any thing than of being able to improve our acquaintance to friendship. Many a time have I placed myself again at Langton, and imagined the pleasure with which I should walk to Partney in a summer morning; but this is no longer possible. We must now endeavour to preserve what is left us-his example of piety and economy. I hope you make what inquiries you can, and write down what is told you. The little things which distinguish domestick characters are soon forgotten: if you delay to inquire, you will have no information; if you neglect to write, information will be vain
(Probably with criticisms on his Shakspeare. -Ed.]
(He refers to some new accommodations of this kind in the prayer composed "on entering Novum Museum," two days previous to the date of this letter. Prayers and Meditations, 68.-Hall.]
3 ( Edward Lye is stated, in the Biographical Dictionary, to have been born in 1704, probably by mistake for 1694. He was of Hart Hall, A. B. in 1716, and A. M. in 1722. He published the Etymologicuin Anglicanum of Junius. His great work is that referred to above, the Arglo-saxon and Gothic Dictionary, which he had finished, and it seems was prinung, but he did not live to see the publication. He died in 1767, and the Dictionary was published by the Rev. Owen Manning in 1772.-ED.)
4 Mr. Langton's uncle. 5 The place of residence of Mr. Peregrine Langton. 6 Mr. Langton did not disregard this counsel, but wrote the following account, which he has been pleased to communicate to me:
“ The circumstances of Mr. Peregrine Langton were these. He had an annuity for life of two hundred pounds per annum. He resided in a village in Lincolnshire: the rent of his house, with two or three small fields, was twentyVOL. II.
“ His art of life certainly deserves to be known and studied. He lived in plenty and elegance upon an income which to many
eight pounds ; the county he lived in was not more than moderately cheap : his family consisted of a sister, who paid him eighteen pounds annually for her board, and a niece. The servants were two maids, and two men in livery. His common way of living, at his table, was three or four dishes; the appurtenances to his table' were neat and handsome ; he frequently entertained company at dinner, and then his table was well served with as many dishes as were usual at the tables of the other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. His own appearance, as to clothes, was genteelly neat and plain. He had always a post-chaise, and kept three horses.
* Such, with the resources I have mentioned, was his way of living, which he did not suffer to employ his whole income ; for he had always a sum of money lying by him for any extraordinary expenses that might arise. Some money he put into the stocks; at his death, the sum he had there amounted to one hundred and fifty pounds. He purchased out of his income bis household furniture and linen, of which latter he had a very ample stere ; and, as I am assured by those that had very good means of knowing, not less than the tenth part of his income was set apart for charity : at the time of his death, the sum of twenty-five pounds was found, with a direction to be employed in such uses.
" He had laid down a plan of living proportioned to his income, and did not practise any extraordinary degree of parsimony, but endeavoured that in his family there should be plenty without waste. As an instance that this was his endeavour, it may be worth while to mention a method he took in regulating a proper allowance of malt liquor to be drunk in his family, that there might not be a deficiency, or any intemperate profusion :-On a complaint made that his allowance of a hogshead in a month was not enough for his own family, he ordered the quantity of a hogshead to be put into bottles, had it locked up from the servants, and distributed out, every day, eight quarts, which is the quantity each day at one hogshead in a month; and told his servants, that if that did not suffice, he would allow them more; but, by this method, it appeared at once that the allowance was much more than sufficient for his small family, and this proved a clear conviction, that could not be answered, and saved all future dispute. He was, in general, very diligently and punctually attended and obeyed by his servants; he was very considerate as to the injunctions he gave, and explained them distinctly; and, at their first coming to his service, steadily exacted a close compliance with them, without any remission : and the servants finding this to be the case, soon grew habitually accustomed to the practice of their business, and then very little further attention was necessary. On extraordinary instances of good behaviour, or diligent service, he was not wanting in particular encouragements and presents above their wages : it is remarkable that he would permit their relations to visit them, and stay at his house two or three days at a time.
« The wonder, with most that hear an account of his economy, will be, how he was able, with such an income, to do so much, especially when it is consi. dered that he paid for every thing he had. He had no land, except the two or three small fields which I have said he rented ; and, instead of gaining any thing by their produce, I have reason to think he lost by them: however, they furnished him with no further assistance towards his housekeeping than grass for his horses (not hay, for that I know he bought), and for two cows. Every Monday morning he settled his family accounts, and so kept up a constant attention to the confining his expenses within his income; and to do it more exactly, com. pared those expenses with a computation he had made, how much that income would afford him every week and day of the year. One of his economical practices was, as soon as any repair was wanting in or about his house, to have it immediately performed. When he had money to spare, he chose to lay in a provision of linen or clothes, or any other necessaries ; as then, he said, lic could afford it, which he might not be so well able to do when the actual want came ; in consequence of which method he had a considerable supply of necessary articles lying by him, beside what was in use.
solution to take a seat in the church : this he might Hawk. possibly do about the time of this removal. The church 453,454. he frequented was that of St. Clement Danes, which, though not his parish church, he preferred to that of the Temple, which latter Sir John Hawkins had recommended to him as being free from noise, and, in other respects, more commodious. His only reason was, that in the former he was best known. He was not constant in his attendance on divine worship; but, from an opinion peculiar to himself, and which he once intimated to me, seemed to wait for some secret impulse as a motive to it. The Sundays which he passed at home were, nevertheless, spent in private exercises of devotion, and sanctified by acts of charity of a singular kind: on that day he accepted of no invitation abroad, but gave a dinner to such of his poor friends as might else have gone without one. He had little now to conflict with but what he called his morbid melancholy, which, though oppressive, had its intermissions, and left him the free exercise of all his faculties, and the power of enjoying the conversation of his numerous friends and visitants. These reliefs he owed in a great measure to the use of opium', which he was accustomed to take in large quantities, the effect whereof was generally such an exhilaration of his spirits as he sometimes suspected for intoxication.]
He received me with much kindness. The fragments of our first conversation, which I have preserved, are these: I told him that Voltaire, in a conversation with me, had distinguished Pope and Dryden thus :-“ Pope drives a handsome chariot, with a couple of neat trim nags; Dryden a coach,
(As Boswell does not contradict this statement, it must be presumed to be que, and is therefore admitted into the text; but it will be seen that, many years after this, and even when labouring under his last fatal illness, Johnson had some scruples about the use of opium. Perhaps, if we are to give credit to Hawkins's exertion, these later scruples may have arisen from his having formerly made no frequent use of this fascinating palliative. Ed.]