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“ An ancient estate should always go to males. It is Ætat. 61. mighty foolish to let a stranger have it because he
marries your daughter, and takes your name. As for an estate newly acquired by trade, you may give it, if you will, to the dog Towser, and let him keep his own name.”
I have known him at times exceedingly diverted at what seemed to others a very small sport. He now laughed immoderately, without any reason that we could perceive, at our friend's making his will; called him the testator, and added, “ I dare say, he thinks he has done a mighty thing. He won't stay till he gets home to his seat in the country, to produce this wonderful deed: he'll call up the landlord of the first inn on the road; and, after a suitable preface upon mortality and the uncertainty of life, will tell him that he should not delay making his will; and here, Sir, will he
my will, which I have just made, with the assistance of one of the ablest lawyers in the kingdom; and he will read it to him, (laughing all the time.) He believes he has made this will; but he did not make it: you, Chambers, made it for him, I trust
have had more conscience than to make him say, being of sound understanding ;' ha, ha, ha! I hope he has left me a legacy. I'd have his will turned into verse, like a ballad."
In this playful manner did he run on, exulting in his own pleasantry, which certainly was not such as might be expected from the authour of “The Rambler," but which is here preserved, that my
readers may be acquainted even with the slightest occasional 'characteristicks of so eminent a man.
Mr. Chambers did not by any means relish this jocularity upon a matter of which pars magna fuit,
and seemed impatient till he got rid of us. Johnson 1773. could not stop his merriment, but continued it all
Ætat. 64. the way
till we got without the Temple-gate. He then burst into such a fit of laughter, that he appeared to be almost in a convulsion; and, in order to support himself, laid hold of one of the posts at the side of the foot pavement, and sent forth peals so loud, that in the silence of the night his voice seemed to resound from Temple-bar to Fleet-ditch.
This most ludicrous exhibition of the aweful, melancholy, and venerable Johnson, happened well to counteract the feelings of sadness which I used to experience when parting with him for a considerable time. I accompanied him to his door, where he gave me his blessing. He records of himself this
6 Between Easter and Whitsuntide, having always considered that time as propitious to study, I attempted to learn the Low Dutch language." It is to be observed, that he here admits an opinion of the human mind being influenced by seasons, which he ridicules in his writings. His progress, he says, was interrupted by a fever, “ which, by the imprudent use of a small print, left an inflammation in his useful eye.” We cannot but admire his spirit when we know, that amidst a complication of bodily and mental distress, he was still animated with the desire of intellectual improvement. Various notes of his studies appear on different days, in his manuscript diary of this year; such as,
« Inchoavi lectionem Pentateuchi-Fi
3 Prayers and Meditations, p. 129.
* [Not six months before his death, he wished me to teach him the Scale of Musick:-" Dr. Burney, teach me at least the alphabet of your language." B.]
1773. nivi lectionem Conf. Fab. Burdonum.-Legi primum
actum Troadun.--Legi Dissertationem Clerici postretat. 64.
mam de Pent.—2 of Clark's Sermons.-L. Appolonii pugnam Betriciam.-L. centum versus Homeri." Let this serve as a specimen of what accessions of literature he was perpetually infusing into his mind, while he charged himself with idleness.
This year died Mrs. Salusbury, (mother of Mrs. Thrale,) a lady whom he appears to have esteemed much, and whose memory he honoured with an Epitaph.
In a letter from Edinburgh, dated the 29th of May, I pressed bim to persevere in his resolution to make this year the projected visit to the Hebrides, of which he and I had talked for many years, and which I was confident would afford us much entertainment.
TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
• When your letter came to me, I was so darkened by an inflammation in my eye, that I could not for some time read it. I can now' write without trouble, and can read large prints. My eye is gradually growing stronger; and I hope will be able to take some delight in the survey of a Caledonian loch.
“ Chambers is going a Judge, with six thousand a year, to Bengal. He and I shall come down together as far as Newcastle, and thence I shall easily get to Edinburgh. Let me know the exact time when your Courts intermit. I must conform a little to
4 Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes of Johnson, p. 131.
Chambers's occasions, and he must conform a little 1773. to mine. The time which you shall fix, must be the
Ætat, 64. common point to which we will come as near as we can. Except this eye, ,
am very well. 6 Beattie is so caressed, and invited, and treated, and liked, and flattered, by the great, that I can see nothing of him. I am in great hope that he will be well provided for, and then we will live upon him at the Marischal College, without pity or modesty.
“left the town without taking leave of me, and is gone in deep dudgeon to
Is not this very childish ?
childish? Where is now my legacy? “ I hope your dear lady and her dear baby are both well. I shall see them too when I come; and I have that opinion of your choice, as to suspect that when I have seen Mrs. Boswell, I shall be less willing to go away. I am, dear Sir,
Your affectionate humble servant, " Johnson's-court, Fleet
“ Sam. Johnson." street, July 5, 1773. “ Write to me as soon as you can.
Chambers is now at Oxford.”
I again wrote to him, informing him that the Court of Session rose on the twelfth of August, hoping “7 see him before that time, and expressing, perhaps in too extravagant terms, my admiration of him, and my expectation of pleasure from our intended tour.
" TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
“ I SHALL set out from London on Friday the sixth of this month, and purpose not to loiter much
1773. by the way. Which day I shall be at Edinburgh, I
cannot exactly tell. I suppose I must drive to an Ætat. 64.
inn, and send a porter to find you.
“I am afraid Beattie will not be at his College soon enough for us, and I shall be sorry to miss him; but there is no staying for the concurrence of all conveniences. We will do as well as we can. I
- Your most humble servant, August 3, 1773.
“ SAM. Johnson."
TO THE SAME.
« DEAR SIR,
“ Not being at Mr. Thrale's when your letter čame, I had written the inclosed paper and sealed it; bringing it hither for a frank, I found your's. If any thing could repress my ardour, it would be such a letter as yours. To disappoint a friend is unpleasing: and he that forms expectations like yours, must be disappointed. Think only when you see me, that you see a man who loves you, and is proud and glad that you love him. I am, Sir,
“Your most affectionate
“ Sam. Johnson."
TO THE SAME.
66 DEAR SIR,
“ Newcastle, Aug. 11, 1773, “ I CAME hither last night, and hope, but do not absolutely promise to be in Edinburgh on Saturday. Beattie will not come so soon. I am, Sir, 6 Your most humble servant,
“ SAM. JOHNSON. My compliments to your lady."