Abbildungen der Seite

accordingly, while they remained, and were all preserved.

Johnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend, speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this eulogy upon his character:-"He who has long had constantly in his view the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his disposition, must have had it originally in a great degree, and continued to cultivate it very carefully."

In the course of this month my brother David waited apon Dr. Johnson, with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should be lying ready on his arrival in London.



[ocr errors]

Edinburgh, April 29, 1780. "THIS will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to stand by the old castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword;' that romantick family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with complacency upon the spot. I trust that twelve years of absence have not lessened his feudal attachment; and that you will find him worthy of being introduced to your acquaintance.

"I have the honour to be,

"With affectionate veneration,

"My dear sir,

"Your most faithful humble servant,


Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a letter to Mrs. Thrale: "I have had with me a brother of Boswell's, a Spanish mer

1 Vol. II. p. 163. Mre. Piozzi has omitted the name, she best knows why.

chant,' whom the war has driven from his residence at Valencia; he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch."

66 SIR,


"MORE years than I have any delight to reckon have past since you and I saw one another: of this, however, there is no reason for making any reprehensory complaint-Sic fata ferunt. But methinks there might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say, that I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees Southwards; a softer climate

may do you both good; winter is coming in; and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of amusement, than Aberdeen.

"My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is, I doubt, now but weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much better, and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well; and Mr. Davies has got great success as an author,3 generated by the corruption of a

1 Now settled in London.

2 I had been five years absent from London. BEATTIE.

3 Meaning his entertaining "Memoirs of David Garrick, Esq." of which Johnson (as Davies informed me) wrote the first sentence: thus giving, as it were, the key-note to the performance. It is, indeed, very characteristical of its author, beginning with a maxim, and proceeding to illustrate." All ́ excellence has a right to be recorded. I shall therefore think it superfluous to apologize for writing the life of a man, who by an uncommon assemblage of private virtues, adorned the highest eminence in a publick profession."

bookseller. More news I have not to tell you, and therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know not whether you much wish to hear,' that I am, sir,

"Your most humble servant,

"Bolt-court, Fleet-street, August 21, 1780."




"I FIND you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have resolved not to write till you are written to; it is but a peevish humour, but you shall have your way.

"I have sat at home in Bolt court all the summer, thinking to write the Lives, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them, however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.

"Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmston; but I have been at neither place. I would have gone to Lichfield if I could have had time, and I might have had time if I had been active; but I have missed much, and done little.

"In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great danger; the mob was pacified at their first invasion, with about fifty pounds in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the soldiers. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained them a fortnight; he was so frighted, that he removed part of his goods. Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country.

"I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn; it is now about the time when we were travel

1 I wish he had omitted the suspicion expressed here, though I believe he meant nothing but jocularity; for though he and I differed sometimes in opinion, he well knew how much I loved and revered him. BEATTIE.

ling. I have, however, better health than I had then, and hope you and I may yet shew ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa. In the mean 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 has 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,

This year he wrote to a young clergyman in the country the following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to Divines in General:


"Nor 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.

1 It will no doubt be remarked how he avoids the rebellious land of America. This puts me in mind of an anecdote for which I am obliged to my worthy social friend, Governour Richard Penn: "At one of Miss E. Hervey's assemblies, Dr. Johnson was following her up and down the room; upon which Lord Abington observed to her, Your great friend is very fond of you: you can go nowhere 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.""

[ocr errors]

2 66 Essays on the History of Mankind.”

"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 authors 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 burden 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

« ZurückWeiter »