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that your lordship should be told of it by Sir • Joshua Reynolds, as an event very uncertain, for, - if I grew much better, I should not be willing, i
much worfe, I should not be able, to migrate. — * Your lordship was first solicited without my know
ledge; but, when I was told, that you were pleased "to honour me with your patronage, I did not ex<pect to hear of a refusal; yet, as I have had no • long time to brood hope, and have not rioted in ? imaginary opulence, this cold reception has been < scarce a disappointment; and, from your lordship's • kindness, I have received a benefit, which only men
like you are able to bestow. I shall now live mihi carior, with a higher opinion of my own merit,
? I am, my lord,
Your lordship's most obliged,
. Most grateful,
? And most humble servant, Sept. 1784.
SAM. Johnson. An incorrect copy of the above letter, though of a private nature, found its way into the public papers * in this manner, It was given to Sir Joshua Reynolds, unsealed, to be delivered to lord Thurlow. Sir Joshua, looking upon it as a handsome testimony of gratitude, and, as it related to a transaction in which he had concerned himself, took a copy of it, and shewed it to a few of his friends. Among these, was a lady of quality, who, having heard it red, the next day desired to be gratified with the perusal of it at home: the use she made of this favour was, the copying and sending it to one of the news-papers,
* Among the corruptions in the printed copies, are the words, you was pleased, for you were pleased, and refied for ricted.
whence it was taken and inserted in others, as also in the Gentleman's and many other Magazines. Johnson, upon being told that it was in print, exclaimed in my hearing_' I am betrayed,'-—but soon after forgot, as he was ever ready to do all real or supposed injuries, the error that made the publication possible.
Dr. Brocklesby was one of those physicians who would not encourage Johnson in a wish to visit the continent; nevertheless, to console him for his late difappointment, and that the supposed narrowness of his circumstances might be no hindrance to such a design, he made him a voluntary offer of 100l. a year, payable quarterly, towards his support abroad, but could not prevail on him to accept it*.
* A&tuated by a like spirit of beneficence, the same person, by his interest with his friends, and in conjunction with that christianlike jew, Sampson Gideon, procured a contribution, amounting to upwards of rool. a year, for the support, during the remaining years of his life, of old captain Coram, the original mover in the establishmeat of the Foundling-hospital. Upon Dr. Brocklesby's applying to the good old man, to know whether his setting on foot a subscription for his benefit would not offend him, he received this noble answer :-- I have not wasted - the little wealth, of which I was formerly possessed, in self-indul• gence, or vain expences, and am not ashamed to confess, that in • this my old age I am poor.'-_Upon the death of Coram, this pension was continued to Leveridge, a worn-out finger at the theatres, who, at the age of ninety, had scarce any other prospect than that of a parish subfiftence,
Those writers on morality, such as Hobbes and Mandeville, who resolve all beneficence into self-love, would be hard put to it to reconcile such acts as these with their tenets. They would say, that the motive to them was a defire to get rid of those sensations which the distresses of others are apt to excite, and, by consequence, that the exertions of beneficence are selfish. Never considering that, before these sensations can arise, a man must be kindly affectioned to his fellow-creatures, and possess that benevolence which the objection supposes to be wanting.
His excursion to Ashbourn was less beneficial than he hoped it would be : his disorders began to return, and he wanted company and amusement. During his stay there, he composed sundry prayers, adapted to the state of his body and mind; and translated from Horace, lib. IV. the ode, Diffugere nives, redeunt
jam gramina campis,' in the words following:
i The snow, diffolv'd, no more is seen ;
The sprightly nymph and naked grace
The mazy dance together trace :
Proclaims mortality to Man. .
Spring yields to summer's sovereign rays
But wretched Man, when once he lies
Is nought but ashes and a shade.
Will rouse us in a morning more?
Not you, Torquatus, boast of Rome,
Or virtue shall replace on earth :
* Hippolytus unjustly Nain,
Diana calls to life in vain ;
In his return to London, he stopped at Lichfield, and from thence wrote to me several letters, that ferved but to prepare me for meeting him in a worse state of health than I had ever seen him in. The concluding paragraph of the last of them is as follows: "I am relapsing into the dropfy very fait, and shall I make such hafte to town that it will be useless to I write to me; but when I come, let me have the
benefit of your advice, and the consolation of your
company.' [dated Nov. 7, 1784.] After about a fortnight's stay there, he took his leave of that city, and of Mrs. Porter, whom he never afterwards faw, and arrived in town on the sixteenth day of November.
After the declaration he had made of his intention to provide for his servant Frank, and before his going into the country, I had frequently pressed him to make a will, and had gone so far as to make a draft of one, with blanks for the names of the executors and residuary legatee, and directing in what inanner it was to be executed and attested; but he was exceedingly averse to this business; and, while he was in Derbyshire, I repeated my solicitations, for this purpose, by letters. When he arrived in town, he had done nothing in it, and, to what I formerly faid, I now added, that he had never mentioned to me the disposal of the residue of his estate, which, ,
after the purchase of an annuity for Frank, I found would be something considerable, and that he would do well to bequeath it to his relations. His answer was, “I care not what becomes of the residue.'-A few days after, it appeared that he had executed the draft, the blanks remaining, with all the solemnities of a real will. I could get him no farther, and thus, for some time, the matter rested.
He had scarce arrived in town, before it was found to be too true, that he was relapsing into a dropfy; and farther, that he was at times grievously afflicted with an asthma. Under an apprehension that his end was approaching, he enquired of Dr. Brocklesby, with great earnestness indeed, how long he might probably live, but could obtain no other than unsatisfactory answers: and, at the same time, if I remember right, under a seeming great pressure of mind, he thus addressed him, in the words of Shakespeare :
· Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd;
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote,
. MACBETH. To which the doctor, who was nearly as well red in the above author as himself, readily replied,
---- Therein the patient
* Must minister unto himself.' Upon which Johnson exclaimed –Well applied :that's more than poetically true.'