Images de page
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

ORIGINAL

which will appear, either entire or MEMORIALS OF DR. JOHNSON'S in part, in the sequel; I seem to RELIGIOUS FRIENDS.

discovered, with clearer evi

dence than has hitherto beamed To the Editor of the Christian Observer. upon the subject, some of the hu

man sources whence Dr. Johnson Although the life and genius of derived his spiritual knowledge. Dr. Johnson have been illustrated The manuscripts in question now by a greater variety of biographical lie on my table; but, before I offer disquisition than has distinguished any extracts from them, it will be any other name in our national expedient to give some preliminary literature, little is yet known, information respecting the parties comparatively, of this eminent to whom they refer. To those who man's character as a Christian. are not familiar with the life and An effort was made, in a work times of Dr. Johnson, it is necesentitled “Christian Essays,” first sary to state,

that
among

his most published in 1817, to disentangle intimate friends, during the period the account of Johnson's death, from about 1737 to 1756, were from the confusion in which it Mrs. Fitzherbert and Miss Hill had been left by Hawkins and Boothby; both of them resident Boswell ; neither of whom was

in Derbyshire; and with whom competent to the task they seve Dr. Johnson probably became acrally undertook; and each of them quainted from their vicinity to his was evidently anxious to rescue friend Dr. Taylor, of Ashbourne. Johnson's memory from all sus

The former of these ladies was picion of what they considered Mary, eldest daughter of Lyttelton enthusiasm.

The report from Poyntz Meynell, Esq. of Bradley, Christian Essays” is reprinted and wife of William Fitzherbert, in the October and November Esq. of Tissington. Her fourth Numbers of your work for 1827; son, Alleyne, was created Lord St. and the truth of the account con Helens, and is yet alive; and her tained in it was forcibly attested grandson, Sir Henry Fitzherbert, by the Rev. C. I. La Trobe, in the Bart. is the present representative Christian Observer for January of the family. Of Mrs. Fitzherbert 1828 ; where, nearly half a cen herself Dr. Johnson said, that tury after Johnson's death, ap- she had the best understanding peared the first satisfactory record he ever met with in any human

being*.”

“That woman,” he reBy the kindness of a friend, who * Boswell's Life of Johnson. Fourth has lent me some original letters, edition. Vol. i. p. 55, Christ. Observ. No. 349.

B

[ocr errors]

of his last days.

i

marked, “ loved her husband as was handsome? She would have we hope and desire to be loved by been handsome for a queen,' reour guardian angel.” “ Fitzher- plied the panegyrist ; 'her beauty bert,” he adds, “ was a gay, good. had more in it of majesty than of humoured fellow, generous of his attraction, more of the dignity of money and his meat, and desirous virtue than the vivacity of wit*.'" of nothing but cheerful society Mrs. Fitzherbert died in 1753 ; among people distinguished in and was succeeded in the managesome way—in any way, I think ; ment of the family at Tissington for Rousseau and St. Austin would by Miss Hill Boothby, who was have been equally welcome to his the only daughter of Brook Boothtable and to his kindness*. The by, Esq. and his wife Elizabeth lady, however, was of another way Fitzherbert. Of 'this lady Mrs. of thinking: her first care was to Thrale relates : “Dr. Johnson told preserve her husband's soul from

me she pushed her piety to bigotry, corruption ; her second, to keep her devotion to enthusiasm ; that his estate entire for their children: she somewhat disqualified herself and I owed my good reception in for the duties of this life, by her the family to the idea she had en- perpetual aspirations after the nert. tertained, that I was fit company Such was, however, the purity of for Fitzherbert, whom I loved ex her mind, he said, and such the tremely. • They dare not,' said graces of her manner, that Lord she, 'swear, and take other con Lyttelton and he used to strive for versation-liberties, before you.' her preference with an emulation “I asked,” says Mrs. Thrale, who that occasioned hourly disgust, and gives this account, "if her husband ended in lasting animosity. You retained her regard ? 'He felt her may see,' said he to me, when the influence too powerfully,' replied Poets' Lives were printed, that Dr. Johnson: ‘no man will be dear Boothby is at my heart still. fond of what forces him daily to She would delight in that fellow feel himself inferior, She stood Lyttelton's company though, all at the door of her paradise in that I could do ; and I cannot Derbyshire, like an angel with the forgive even his memory the preflaming sword, to keep the devil at ference given by a mind like hers.' a distance, But she was not im I have heard Baretti say,

that when mortal, poor dear! She died, and this lady died Dr. Johnson was her husband felt at once afflicted almost distracted with his grief, and releasedt. I inquired if she and that the friends about him

• At Ashbourne, in 1776, Dr. Johnson had much ado to calm the viothus characterized his friend :-" There lence of his emotiont.” A Hebrew was no sparkle, no brilliancy in Fitzher- grammar, or the sketch of one, bert; but I never knew a man who was so generally acceptable. He made

composed for her own use, and

every body quite easy, overpowered nobody by written in a character eminently the superiority of his talents, made no beautiful, has been preserved by man think worse of himself by being his her family, as a specimen of her rival, seemed always to listen, did not

literature. Mrs. Piozzi was peroblige you to hear much from him, and did not oppose what you said. Everymitted to publish six letters adbody liked him; but he had no friend, as dressed by Johnson to Miss BoothI understand the word-nobody with whom he exchanged intimate thoughts. London – by his own hand! nineteen He was an instance of the truth of the years after the departure of one, to whom observation, that a man will please more others might have said, upon the whole by negative qualities than Cara Maria vale! at veniet felicius aevum, by positive.” Boswell, vol. iii. p. 163. Quandoiterum tecum,simmododignus, ero!

# Mr. Fitzherbert, who was member • Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnfor the Borough of Derby in several Par son, LL.D; by Hester Lynch Piozzi. liaments, and one of the Lords of Trade Fourth edition. p. 159. and Plantations, died at his house in + Ibid. p. 160.

Digots

[ocr errors]

hers

uch the

[ocr errors]

ust, and

hen the

by, which appeared in 1788, in a I died to-day; which I mention
collection now very scarce, and lest you should hear it and be

never reprinted. Neither, with alarmed. You see that I think than the exception of the first, have my death may alarm you ; which,

they been copied by any of John- for me, is to think very highly of

son's biographers ; por are they earthly friendship. I believe it 13 inserted in his Works. They are arose from the death of one of

consequently, comparatively, un- my neighbours. You know Des
known; and the following extracts Cartes's argument, I think, there.

from them will illustrate the pre- fore I am.' It is as good a conBari . sent memorials.

sequence, ‘I write, therefore I am izabet "Jan.1,1755.—Dearest Madam, alive.' I might give another, ‘I --Though I am afraid

your illness am alive, therefore I love Miss leaves you little leisure for the Boothby,' but that I hope our reception of airy civilities, yet I friendship may be of far longer cannot forbear to pay you my duration than life. I am, dearest congratulations on the new year; Madam, with sincere affection,

and to declare my wishes that your," &c. hement

your years to come may be many Dec. 31, 1755.- My sweet
and happy. In this wish, indeed, Angel,—I have read your book, I
I include myself, who have none am afraid you will think without
but

you on whom my heart re any great improvement; whether

poses ; yet surely I wish you good, you can read my notes I know bulat.co

even though your situation were not. You ought not to be of

such as should permit you to fended : I am, perhaps, as sincere i prove by communicate no gratification to, as the writer. In all things that Dearest, dearest, Madam, your,'

terminate here I shall be much &c.

guided by your influence, and " Dec. 30, 1755.—It is again should take or leave by your dimidnight, and I am again alone. rection ; but I cannot receive my With what meditation shall I religion from any human hand. I amuse this waste hour of dark- desire, however, to be instructed, ness and vacuity? If I turn my and am far from thinking myself thoughts upon myself, what do I perfect...... It affords me a new perceive, but a poor helpless being, conviction, that in these books reduced by a blast of wind to there is little new, except new

weakness and misery?...... This forms of expression; which may qt bin illness

, in which I have suffered be sometimes taken, even by the
something, and feared much more, writer, for new doctrines. I sin-
bas depressed my confidence and cerely hope that God, whom you
elation; and made me consider so much desire to serve aright,
all that I have promised myself, will bless you, and restore you to
as less certain to be attained or health, if he sees best. Surely no
enjoyed. I have endeavoured to human understanding can pray
form resolutions of a better life; for any thing temporal otherwise
but I form them weakly, under than conditionally. Dear Angel,
the consciousness of an external do not forget me. My heart is
motive...... Continue, my dearest, full of tenderness.”
your prayers for me, that no good Jan. 8, 1756.—I beg of you to
resolution may be in vain. You endeavour to live. I have returned
think, I believe, better of me than your Law, which, however, I ear-
I deserve. I hope to be, in time, nestly entreat you to give me. I
what I wish to be, and what I am in great trouble; if you can
have hitherto satisfied myself too write three words to me,

be pleased
readily with only wishing......... to do it. I am afraid to say much,
There has gone about a report that and cannot say nothing when my

rt stil

fellur

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

he pre

e hers

[ocr errors]

grid

[ocr errors]

of one

:e, and inently ied by of het

irs ad. Booth

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

dearest is in danger. The all Having furnished these reminismerciful God have mercy on you." cences from sources already open

Miss Boothby died on the six- to public examination, I shall proteenth of January, eight days after ceed to draw from the private the date of this letter! She was treasury in my temporary posburied in Ashbourne church*; and session some illustrations of the the following lines, inscribed on character of the two ladies who her tomb, were written by a gen- honoured Dr. Johnson with their tleman of her family, the late Sir intimacy. The first of these is a Brooke Boothby.—

letter from Miss Boothby to Mrs. Could beauty, learning, talents, virtue, save

Fitzherbert, dated Holly Bush*, From the dark confines of the insatiate

October 8, 1746. grave, This frail memorial had not asked a tear “My dearest, best friend on O'er Hill's cold relics, sadly mouldering earth,—The trial which our Lord,

here. Her soul, too heavenly for a house of clay, at this time ordered for us, has

in his wise disposal of events, has Soon wore its earth-built fabric to decay; In the last struggles of departing breath

given me a new and surprising She saw her Saviour gild the bed of death; proof of your affection and tenHeard his mild accents, tun'd to peace derness for met; founded on such and love,

motives as I think I may say, withGive glorious welcome to the realms above, In those bright regions,that celestial shore, out presumption, Heaven approves, Where friends long lost shall meet to part from the great success your most no more;

kind endeavours for me have met • Blest Lord, I come; my hopes have not

with. The heart may be too full been vain!'Upon her lifeless cheek ecstatic smiles re

to disclose its thoughts; and, in main.

some cases, the tongue is an inDr. Johnson composed the fol- strument which fails us in expresslowing prayer on occasion of her ing them: out of the abundance of death :-“O Lord God, almighty the heart it may be silent, as well Disposer of all things, in whose as speak. This is my case ;

from hands are life and death; who the abundance of my heart I cangivest comforts, and takest them not speak; but I must w[onder ). away; I return Thee thanks for the That nothing may be wanting to good example of Hill Boothby, encourage perseverance in offices whom Thou hast now taken away; of charity, our gracious Master and implore thy grace, that I may [has] added a temporal reward, improve the opportunity of in- by putting into the [minds] of struction which Thou hast afforded those on whom it is exercised the me, by the knowledge of her life, sincerest gratitude and acknowand by the sense of her death; ledgment. 'Tis this I would give that I may consider the uncer • The house thus designated is close on tainty of my present state, and the border of Needwood Forest, and beapply myself earnestly to the du- longed at that time to the Fitzherbert ties which Thou hast set before the property and residence of John Gis

family. It became, many years afterwards, me; that, living in thy fear, I may borne, Esq. now of Darby Dale, Derbydie in thy favour, through Jesus shire; and is situated within a few miles Christ our Lord. Ament.”

of Yoxall Lodge, the mansion of his re

vered brother, the Rev. Thomas Gisborne. * Or rather in a chantry, or chapel, at All the extracts in the text are faithful to tached to this fine building, containing their originals, except with regard to a the cemetery of the Boothby family.

, Among few corrections in orthography and puncits sepulchral monuments is the celebrated tuation. The parts within brackeis, as figure of Penelope Boothby, by Flaxman; being supplied, where the manuscript was which has been since eclipsed by Chantry's torn or illegible, by conjecture, are lest to Two Children, in the south choral isle of the reader's judgment. Lichfield cathedral.

+ There is no clue in the manuscript to + Prayers and Meditations, composed the cause of this affliction. by Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Published # To the copyist this is an unsatisfactory by the Rev. George Strahan, in 1785. conjecture. Query, " write."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

anew.

and 1

an 11

expre

you. I (thank] my God, and your helped to procure it, so I am sure God (the Father of all mercies, the your thankfulness for my preserGod of all comforts) for making vation would be full and sincere. you the great instrument of his I cannot yet learn any thing of wonderful and persevering (love) dear Lady Huntingdon. Nobody to me. That you have been re. I have seen were such as could markably so at [this] time, you be supposed to know any thing of must see, and I do, and ever shall her, alas !...... I was at the chapel * f[eel). My dearest creature, you yesterday, but so placed as not to have exactly followed (your] be able to get out, before Mr. C. Lord's example! gone about doing was gone......He preached a sergood; visited the fatherless and mon I heard, and mentioned to widow in their affliction ; sup- you last year, on 2 Cor. iv. 6: For ported the sick and weak, and God, who commanded the light to shine helped to raise up them who were out of darkness, &c. in which he falling. All this, if possible, still first remarked the allusion in the more endears you to me, and text to the chaos, and the speaking makes me more

earnest to be light into it at the creation; then every thing you would have me. shewed us what was the darkness Let us, my dearest, go hand in of every unconverted soul, fully and hand together in the great work strongly in all its parts, and what of our salvation; and in our way the light which could alone, by through this vale of tears be each shining in our hearts, create them other's best human assistant in

For this light all must go obtaining the one thing needful. My to Jesus Christ; and in him, and prayers shall be instant at the from him, by the influence of his Throne of Grace, that I may be Holy Spirit, be brought to the enabled to assist you effectually knowledge of the glory of God. He in all your (progress). From this displayed largely the folly of those inexhaustible fountain only can I who imagined they were to bring (hope to] have my weaknesses any thing of their own, and treat supplied; and be made to you in the way of purchase for the [what you) are to me, the greatest blessings of the Gospel ; [for} of earthly blessings...... Your ten which no claim could avail but the derly affect. and warmly grateful merits of Christ, and faith in him

Hill Boothby.who gave himself freely for us. He The next letter has no address concluded with an affecting exhoror envelope, but was evidently tation, drawn from several weighty written at Bath, and is dated June and striking observations he had 17, 1751.-“When you regarded made, on the different a poor weak helpless creature, quences of his doctrine, as immeundertaking what I was about diately and sincerely embraced, to do when I left you, my dearest or neglected; and hinted as if friend, you might figure to your many of his hearers had sat long self infinite hazards; but I bless under moving and persuasive orGod I always trust in him for dinances, without faith. 'Tis a vast strength, and lean not either to my blessing to have an opportunity of own understanding or power in any hearing the Gospel preached, so thing, as well knowing they must clearly, plainly, and, as I verily both fail me. I firmly trusted the believe, so experimentally: and I end of my journey would, as, thank pray God I may profit by it, as God, it has, pay my friends for any anxiety they might too kindly suf

* Not that erected by Lady Huntingfer with regard to the means and

don, which was not opened till 1765; but

one attached to the Established Church, way. And as I doubt not your near the Cross, Bath, superintended by prayers for my success much Mr. Chapman,

dancer

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

conse

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »