« AnteriorContinuar »
Mrs. Lennox and her husband met them. Johnson, after an invocation of the muses, and some other ceremonies of his own invention, invested the authoress with a laurel crown. The festivity was protracted till morning, and Johnson through the night was a Bachanalian, without the use of wine.
Though his circumstances, at this time, . were far from being easy, he received as a constant visitor at his house, Miss Anna Williams, daughter of a Welsh physician, and a woman of more than ordinary talents and literature, who had just lost her fight. She had contracted a close intimacy with his wife; and after her death, The had an apartment from him, at all times when he had a house. In 17:55, Garrick gave her a benefit, which produced 2001. In 1766, she published a quarto volume of “ Miscellanies,” and thereby încreased her little stock to 300l. This,
and Johnson's protection, supported her during the rest of her life.
In 1752, he republished his version of Pope's Mefiab, in the Gentleman's Magazine. Soon after his closing the Rambler, March 2, he suffered a loss which affected him with the deepest distress. On the 17th of March, O. S. his wife died; and after a cohabitation of seventeen years, left him a childless widower, abandoned to forrow, and incapable of consolation. She was buried in the chapel of Bromley in Kent, under the care of his friend, Dr. Hawkesworth, who resided at that placé. In the interval between her death and burial, he composed a funeral sermon for her, which was never preached; but, being given to Dr. Taylor, has been published since his death. With the fingularity of his prayers for Tetty, from that time fo the end of his life, the world is fuffiçiently acquainted. By her first husband
the left a daughter, and a son, a captain in the navy, who, at his death, left 10,000l, to his fifter.
On this melancholy event Johnson felt the most poignant distress. She is, however, reported not to have been worthy of this sincere attachment. Mrs. Desmoulins, who lived for some time with her at Hampstead, told Mr. Bofwell, that she indulged herself in country air and nice living, at an unsuitable expence, while her husband was drudging in the smoke of London ; that she was negligent of economy in her domestic affairs ; and that she by no means treated him with that complacency which is the most engaging quality in a wife. But all this is perfectly compatible with his fondness for her ; especially when it is remembered, that he had a high opinion of her understanding; and that the impression which her beauty, real, or imaginary, had originally made
upon his imagination, being continued by habit, had not been effaced, though she herself was, doubtless, much altered for the worse. Sir John Hawkins has declared himself inclined to think, “ that if this fondness of Johnson for his wife was not dissembled, it was a lesson that he had learned by rote; and that when he practised it, he knew not where to stop, until he became ridiculous.” To argue from her being much older than Johnson, or any other circumstances, that he could not really love her, is abfurd; for love is not a subject of reasoning, but of feeling; and, therefore, there are no common principles upon which one can persuade another concerning it. That Johnson married her for love is believed. During her life he was fond and indulgent. At her death he was agonized ; and, ever after, cherished her image as the companion of his most folemn hours. If seventeen years passed in
acts of tenderness during their union, and a longer period spent in regret after death had divided them, cannot fix our opinion that Johnson's fondness was not the effect of diffimulation, or the unfelt lesson of a parrot, where shall we fix bounds to sufpicion, or place limits to the presumption of man, in passing sentence upon the feelings of his neighbour ? · The following authentic and artless account of his situation after his wife's death, was given to Mr. Boswell, by Francis Barbar, his faithful negro-servant, who was brought from Jamaica by Colonel Bathurst, father of his friend Dr. Bathurst, and came into his family about a fortnight after the dismal event.
“ He was in great affliction :_Miss Williams was then living in his house, which was in Gough-Square. He was busy with his Dictionary; Mr. Shiels, and some others of the gentlemen who had formerly writ