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by James BoswellEsq.



EVERY liberal motive that can actuate an Authour in the dedication of hislaboursconcurs in directing me to youas the person to whom the followingWork should be inscribed.

If there be a pleasure in celebrating the distinguished merit of acontemporarymixed with a certain degree of vanity not altogether inexcusablein appearing fully sensible of itwhere can I find onein complimenting whom Ican with more general approbation gratify those feelings? Your excellence notonly in the Art over which you have long presided with unrivalled famebut alsoin Philosophy and elegant Literatureis well known to the presentand willcontinue to be the admiration of future ages. Your equal and placid temperyourvariety of conversationyour true politenessby which you are so amiable inprivate societyand that enlarged hospitality which has long made your house acommon centre of union for the greatthe accomplishedthe learnedand theingenious; all these qualities I canin perfect confidence of not being accusedof flatteryascribe to you.

If a man may indulge an honest pridein having it known to the worldthathe has been thought worthy of particular attention by a person of the firsteminence in the age in which he livedwhose company has been universallycourtedI am justified in availing myself of the usual privilege of aDedicationwhen I mention that there has been a long and uninterruptedfriendship between us.

If gratitude should be acknowledged for favours receivedI have thisopportunitymy dear Sirmost sincerely to thank you for the many happy hourswhich I owe to your kindness- for the cordiality with which you have at alltimes been pleased to welcome me- for the number of valuable acquaintances towhom you have introduced me- for the noctes coenaeque Deum* which I haveenjoyed under your roof.

If a work should be inscribed to one who is master of the subject of itandwhose approbationthereforemust ensure it credit and successthe life of Dr.Johnson iswith the greatest proprietydedicated to Sir Joshua Reynoldswhowas the intimate and beloved friend of that great man; the friendwhom hedeclared to be "the most invulnerable man he knew; whomif he shouldquarrel with himhe should find the most difficulty how to abuse." Youmydear Sirstudied himand knew him well: you venerated and admired him. Yetluminous as he was upon the wholeyou perceived all the shades which mingled inthe grand composition; all the little peculiarities and slight blemishes whichmarked the literary Colossus. Your very warm commendation of the specimen whichI gave in my "Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides" of my being able topreserve his conversation in an authentick and lively mannerwhich opinion thePublick has confirmedwas the best encouragement for me to persevere in mypurpose of producing the whole of my stores.

In one respectthis Work willin some passagesbe different from theformer. In my "Tour" I was almost unboundedly open in mycommunicationsand from my eagerness to display the wonderful fertility andreadiness of Johnson's witfreely shewed to the world its dexterityeven whenI was myself the object of it. I trusted that I should be liberally understoodas knowing very well what I was aboutand by no means as simply unconscious ofthe pointed effects of the satire. I ownindeedthat I was arrogant enough tosuppose that the tenour of the rest of the book would sufficiently guard meagainst such a strange imputation. But it seems I judged too well of the world;forthough I could scarcely believe itI have been undoubtedly informedthatmany personsespecially in distant quartersnot penetrating enough intoJohnson's characterso as to understand his mode of treating his friendshavearraigned my judgementinstead of seeing that I was sensible of all that theycould observe.

It is related of the great Dr. Clarkethat when in one of his leisure hourshe was unbending himself with a few friends in the most playful and frolicksomemannerhe observed Beau Nash approaching; upon which he suddenly stopped;-"My boys(said he) let us be grave: here comes a fool." The worldmy friendI have found to be a great foolas to that particular on which ithas become necessary to speak very plainly. I havethereforein this Work beenmore reserved; and though I tell nothing but the truthI have still kept in mymind that the whole truth is not always to be exposed. ThishoweverI havemanaged so as to occasion no diminution of the pleasure which my book shouldafford; though malignity may sometimes be disappointed of its gratifications.

I am

My dear Sir

Your much obliged friend

And faithful humble servant



April 201791. -

* In DOS versions italicized text is enclosed in chevrons .


I AT last deliver to the world a Work which I have long promisedand ofwhichI am afraidtoo high expectations have been raised. The delay of itspublication must be imputedin a considerable degreeto the extraordinary zealwhich has been shewn by distinguished persons in all quarters to supply me withadditional information concerning its illustrious subject; resembling in thisthe grateful tribes of ancient nationsof which every individual was eager tothrow a stone upon the grave of a departed Heroand thus to share in the piousoffice of erecting an honourable monument to his memory.

The labour and anxious attention with which I have collected and arranged thematerials of which these volumes are composedwill hardly be conceived by thosewho read them with careless facility. The stretch of mind and prompt assiduityby which so many conversations were preservedI myselfat some distance ortimecontemplate with wonder; and I must be allowed to suggestthat the natureof the workin other respectsas it consists of innumerable detachedparticularsall whicheven the most minuteI have spared no pains toascertain with a scrupulous authenticityhas occasioned a degree of trouble farbeyond that of any other species of composition. Were I to detail the bookswhich I have consultedand the inquiries which I have found it necessary tomake by various channelsI should probably be thought ridiculously ostentatious.Let me only observeas a specimen of my troublethat I have sometimes beenobliged to run half over Londonin order to fix a date correctly; whichwhen Ihad accomplishedI well knew would obtain me no praisethough a failure wouldhave been to my discredit. And after allperhapshard as it may beI shallnot be surprised if omissions or mistakes be pointed out with invidious severity.I have also been extremely careful as to the exactness of my quotations; holdingthat there is a respect due to the publickwhich should oblige every Authour toattend to thisand never to presume to introduce them with- "I think Ihave read;"- or- "If I remember right;" when the originals may beexamined.

I beg leave to express my warmest thanks to those who have been pleased tofavour me with communications and advice in the conduct of my Work. But I cannotsufficiently acknowledge my obligations to my friend Mr. MALONEwho was so goodas to allow me to read to him almost the whole of my manuscriptand made suchremarks as were greatly for the advantage of the Work; though it is but fair tohim to mentionthat upon many occasions I differed from himand followed myown judgement. I regret exceedingly that I was deprived of the benefit of hisrevisionwhen not more than one-half of the book had passed through the press;but after having completed his very laborious and admirable edition ofSHAKSPEAREfor which he generously would accept of no other reward but thatfame which he has so deservedly obtainedhe fulfilled his promise of along-wished-for visit to his relations in Ireland; from whence his safe returnfinibus Atticis is desired by his friends herewith all the classical ardour ofSic te Diva potens Cypri; for there is no man in whom more elegant and worthyqualities are united; and whose societythereforeis more valued by those whoknow him.

It is painful to me to thinkthat while I was carrying on this Workseveralof those to whom it would have been most interesting have died. Such melancholydisappointments we know to be incident to humanity; but we do not feel them theless. Let me particularly lament the Reverend THOMAS WARTONand the ReverendDr. ADAMS. Mr. WARTONamidst his variety of genius and learningwas anexcellent Biographer. His contributions to my Collection are highly estimable;and as he had a true relish of my "Tour to the Hebrides" I trust Ishould now have been gratified with a larger share of his kind approbation. Dr.ADAMSeminent as the Head of a Collegeas a writerand as a most amiable manhad known JOHNSON from his early yearsand was his friend through life. Whatreason had I to hope for the countenance of that venerable Gentleman to thisWorkwill appear from what he wrote to me upon a former occasion from OxfordNovember 171785:- "Dear SirI hazard this letternot knowing where itwill find youto thank you for your very agreeable 'Tour' which I found hereon my return from the countryand in which you have depicted our friend soperfectly to my fancyin every attitudeevery scene and situationthat I havethought myself in the companyand of the party almost throughout. It has givenvery general satisfaction; and those who have found most fault with a passagehere and therehave agreed that they could not help going throughand beingentertained with the whole. I wishindeedsome few gross expressions had beensoftenedand a few of our hero's foibles had been a little more shaded; but itis useful to see the weaknesses incident to great minds; and you have given usDr. Johnson's authority that in history all ought to be told."

Such a sanction to my faculty of giving a just representation of Dr. JOHNSONI could not conceal. Nor will I suppress my satisfaction in the consciousnessthat by recording so considerable a portion of the wisdom and wit of "thebrightest ornament of the eighteenth century" * I have largely providedfor the instruction and entertainment of mankind. -

LondonApril 201791. -

* See Mr. Malone's Preface to his edition of Shakspeare.


THAT I was anxious for the success of a work which had employed much of mytime and labourI do not wish to conceal: but whatever doubts I at any timeentertainedhave been entirely removed by the very favourable reception withwhich it has been honoured. That reception has excited my best exertions torender my Book more perfect; and in this endeavour I have had the assistance notonly of some of my particular friendsbut of many other learned and ingeniousmenby which I have been enabled to rectify some mistakesand to enrich theWork with many valuable additions. These I have ordered to be printed separatelyin quartofor the accommodation of the purchasers of the first edition. May Ibe permitted to say that the typography of both editions does honour to thepress of Mr. HENRY BALDWINnow Master of the Worshipful Company of Stationerswhom I have long known a worthy man and an obliging friend.

In the strangely mixed scenes of human existenceour feelings are often atonce pleasing and painful. Of this truththe progress of the present Workfurnishes a striking instance. It was highly gratifying to me that my friend SirJOSHUA REYNOLDSto whom it is inscribedlived to peruse itand to give thestrongest testimony to its fidelity; but before a second editionwhich hecontributed to improvecould be finishedthe world has been deprived of thatmost valuable man; a loss of which the regret will be deepand lastingandextensiveproportionate to the felicity which he diffused through a wide circleof admirers and friends.

In reflecting that the illustrious subject of this Workby being moreextensively and intimately knownhowever elevated beforehas risen in theveneration and love of mankindI feel a satisfaction beyond what fame canafford. We cannotindeedtoo much or too often admire his wonderful powers ofmindwhen we consider that the principal store of wit and wisdom which thisWork containswas not a particular selection from his general conversationbutwas merely his occasional talk at such times as I had the good fortune to be inhis company; andwithout doubtif his discourse at other periods had beencollected with the same attentionthe whole tenor of what he uttered would havebeen found equally excellent.

His strongclearand animated enforcement of religionmoralityloyaltyand subordinationwhile it delights and improves the wise and the goodwillItrustprove an effectual antidote to that detestable sophistry which has beenlately imported from Franceunder the false name of Philosophyand with amalignant industry has been employed against the peacegood orderandhappiness of societyin our free and prosperous country; butthanks be to Godwithout producing the pernicious effects which were hoped for by its propagators.

It seems to mein my moments of self-complacencythat this extensivebiographical workhowever inferior in its naturemay in one respect beassimilated to the Odyssey. Amidst a thousand entertaining and instructiveepisodes the Hero is never long out of sight; for they are all in some degreeconnected with him; and Hein the whole course of the Historyis exhibited bythe Authour for the best advantage of his readers: -

-Quid virtus et quid sapientia possit

Utile proposuit nobis examplar Ulyssen. -

Should there be any cold-blooded and morose mortals who really dislike thisBookI will give them a story to apply. When the great Duke of Marlboroughaccompanied by Lord Cadoganwas one day reconnoitering the army in Flandersaheavy rain came onand they both called for their cloaks. Lord Cadogan'sservanta good humoured alert ladbrought his Lordship's in a minute. TheDuke's servanta lazy sulky dogwas so sluggishthat his Grace being wet tothe skinreproved himand had for answer with a grunt"I came as fast asI could;" upon which the Duke calmly said- "CadoganI would not fora thousand pounds have that fellow's temper."

There are some menI believewho haveor think they havea very smallshare of vanity. Such may speak of their literary fame in a decorous style ofdiffidence. But I confessthat I am so formed by nature and by habitthat torestrain the effusion of delighton having obtained such fameto me would betruly painful. Why then should I suppress it? Why "out of the abundance ofthe heart" should I not speak? Let me then mention with a warmbut noinsolent exultationthat I have been regaled with spontaneous praise of my workby many and various persons eminent for their ranklearningtalentsandaccomplishments; much of which praise I have under their hands to be repositedin my archives at Auchinleck. An honourable and reverend friend speaking of thefavourable reception of my volumeseven in the circles of fashion and elegancesaid to me"you have made them all talk Johnson."- YesI may addIhave Johnsonised the land; and I trust they will not only talkbut thinkJohnson.

To enumerate those to whom I have been thus indebtedwould be tediouslyostentatious. I cannot however but name one whose praise is truly valuablenotonly on account of his knowledge and abilitiesbut on account of themagnificentyet dangerous embassyin which he is now employedwhich makesevery thing that relates to him peculiarly interesting. Lord Macartney favouredme with his own copy of my bookwith a number of notesof which I have availedmyself. On the first leaf I found in his Lordship's handwritingan inscriptionof such high commendationthat even Ivain as I amcannot prevail on myselfto publish it. -

[July 11793.]



1709-1775 -

1709. Samuel Johnson born at Lichfield (Sept. 18N.S.)the son of MichaelJohnsona bookseller. No. 1 of the TatlerBerkeley's Essay towards a NewTheory of Visionand Matthew Prior's Poems. -

1711. No. 1 of the Spectator. Hume born. -

1712. Johnson is taken to London to be touched for the evil by Queen Anne.Pope's Rape of the Lock. Gray's Trivia. -

1713. Addison's Catoand Berkeley's Three Dialogues. Sterne born. -

1714. Accession of George I. -

1715. Vol. I. of Pope's Homer's Iliad. Burnet and Wycherley died. JacobiteRebellion. -

1716. Garrick and Gray born. -

1717. Johnson sent to Lichfield Grammar-School. Horace Walpole born. -

1719. Part I. of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Addison died. -

1721. Smollett and Collins born. -

1723. Adam Smith born. -

1724. Allan Ramsay's Evergreen and Tea-Table Miscellanyand Vol. I. ofBurnet's History of His Own Time. -

1725. Johnson removed to Stourbridge School. Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd.-

1726. Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Thomson's Winter. -

1727. Accession of George II. Gay's Fables. Sir Isaac Newton died. -

1728. Johnsonafter spending two years at homegoes to Pembroke CollegeOxford (Oct.). Pope's Dunciad. Goldsmith born. -

1729. Law's Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. Burke born Steele andCongreve died. -

1731. Johnson leaves Oxford without a degree (Dec.). -

1731. Johnson's father dies (Dec.)Johnson receiving L 20 from his effects.The Gentleman's Magazine established. Cowper and Churchill born. Defoe died. -

1732. Johnson an usher at the Market-Bosworth School. Pope's Essay on Man (EpistlesI. and II.). Gay died. -

1733. Johnsonliving chiefly at Birminghamtranslates Lobo's Voyage toAbyssinia. -

1734. Johnson publishes proposals for printing the poems of Politianand forthe first time offers his services to Caveproprietor of the Gentleman'sMagazine. -

1735. Johnson marries (July 9) Elizabeththe widow of Henry PorteraBirmingham mercer. (Johnson's wife is supposed to have brought him

about L 700 or L 800.) He publishes his translation of Lobo's Voyage toAbyssinia. -

1736. Johnson sets up a "private academy" at EdialinStaffordshireone of his pupils being David Garrick. Butler's Analogy ofReligion. -

1737. Johnson and Garrick set out together for London. Johnson makes furtherproposals to Caveand returns to Lichfieldwhere he completes his tragedy ofIrene. After staying at Lichfield for three months he settles with Mrs. Johnsonin London. Gibbon born. -

1738. Johnson "enlisted by Mr. Cave as a regular coadjutor in hismagazine." He publishesLondon (May). With a view to obtaining themastership of Appleby School he endeavoursunsuccessfullyto obtain the degreeof M.A. from Oxford University. -

1739. Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. -

1740. Cibber's Apology for his Lifeand Richardson's Pamela. James Boswellborn. -

1741. This year and the two following Johnson is the "sole composer"of the Parliamentary Debates in the Gentleman's Magazine. -

1742. Fielding's Joseph AndrewsShenstone's Schoolmistressand Young'sNight Thoughts. -

1744. Johnson publishes his Life of Savage. Akenside's Pleasures of theImagination. Pope died. -

1745. Swift died. Jacobite Rebellion. -

1746. Collins's Odes (dated 1747). -

1747. Johnson publishes his Plan for a Dictionary of the English Languageaddressed to Lord Chesterfield. Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of EtonCollege. -

1748. Richardson's Clarissa HarloweSmollett's Roderick RandomandThomson's Castle of Indolence. Thomson died. -

1749. Johnson publishes The Vanity of Human Wishes and Irene. Irene isbrought out by Garrick at Drury Lane. Fielding's Tom Jones. -

1750. Johnson begins the publication of the Rambler. -

1751. Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyardand Hume's Inquiry concerning thePrinciples of Morals. R.B. Sheridan born. -

1752. Johnson's wife dies. The last Rambler published. Hume's PoliticalDiscourses. Bishop Butler died. Frances Burney and Chatterton born. -

1753. Johnson begins to contribute to Hawkesworth's Adventurer. Berkeley died.-

1754. Hume's History of England (Vol. I.)and Lord Bolingbroke'sPhilosophical Writings (edited by David Mallet). Fielding died. -

1755. Johnson receives the degree of M.A. from Oxford University. HisDictionary of the English Language published. -

1756. Johnson contributes to the Literary Magazine established this yearandissues Proposals for an edition of Shakspeare. He refuses a living offered tohim in Lincolnshire. Burke's Vindication of Natural Societyand Essay on theSublime and Beautiful. -

1757. Smollett's History of England (Vols. I.-IV.). Blake born. -

1758. Johnson begins a new periodical paperThe Idler. Allan Ramsay died. -

1759. Johnson's mother diesand he publishes Rasselas"that with theprofits he might defray the expence of [her] funeraland pay some little debtswhich she left." Sterne's Tristram Shandy (Vols. I. and II.)andRobertson's History of Scotland. Robert Burns born. -

1760. Accession of George III. -

1761. Churchill's Rosciad. Richardson died. -

1762. A pension of L 300 a year granted to Johnson. Macpherson's Ossian. -

1763. Johnson meets Boswell (May 16)who in August starts on a tour of threeyears on the Continent. Churchill's Prophecy of Famineand Smart's Song toDavid. -

1764. The Literary Club foundedSir Joshua Reynolds being the first proposerof itand ReynoldsJohnsonBurkeand Goldsmith among the first members.Goldsmith's TravellerWalpole's Castle of Otrantoand Chatterton's Elinour andJuga. -

1765. Johnson receives the degree of LL.D. from Trinity CollegeDublin. Heis introduced to the Thrales. His edition of Shakspeare published. Percy'sReliques of Ancient Poetry. -

1766. Boswell returns to England (February). Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield.-

1767. Johnson has a conversation with George III. in the library atBuckingham Palace. -

1768. Sterne's Sentimental JourneyGoldsmith's Good-Natured ManGray'sPoems (the first collected edition)and Boswell's Account of Corsica. Sternedied. -

1769. Burke's Observations on the Present State of the Nationthe firstLetter of "Junius" and Robertson's History of Charles V. -

1770. Johnson publishes his pamphletThe False Alarmon the Middlesexelection. Burke's Thoughts on the Present Discontent and Goldsmith's DesertedVillage. Chatterton died. Wordsworth born. -

1771. Beattie's Minstrel (Book I.)and Smollett's Humphrey Clinker. Gray andSmollett died. Walter Scott born. -

1772. The Letters of Junius (first collected edition). Sir Joshua Reynolds'sDiscourses. Coleridge born. -

1773. Johnson visits Scotland with Boswell (Aug. 14 to Nov. 22). Goldsmith'sShe Stoops to Conquerand Fergusson's Poems. -

1774. Johnson visits Wales with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale (July-September). Burke'sSpeech on American TaxationLord Chesterfield's Letters to his Sonand Vol. I.of Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry. Goldsmith died. Southey born. -

1775. Johnson receives the degree of D.C.L. from Oxford University. He visitsFrance with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale (October and November). His Journey to theWestern Islands of Scotland and Taxation no Tyranny published. Burke's Speech onConciliation with Americaand Sheridan's Rivals. Jane AustenLamband Landorborn.


To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives ofothersand whowhether we consider his extraordinary endowmentsor hisvarious workshas been equalled by few in any ageis an arduousand may bereckoned in me a presumptuous task.

Had Dr. Johnson written his own Lifein conformity with the opinion which hehas given* that every man's life may be best written by himself; had heemployed in the preservation of his own historythat clearness of narration andelegance of language in which he has embalmed so many eminent personsthe worldwould probably have had the most perfect example of biography that was everexhibited. But although he at different timesin a desultory mannercommittedto writing many particulars of the progress of his mind and fortuneshe neverhad persevering diligence enough to form them into a regular composition. Ofthese memorials a few have been preserved; but the greater part was consigned byhim to the flamesa few days before his death. -

* IdlerNo. 84. -

As I had the honour and happiness of enjoying his friendship for upwards oftwenty years; as I had the scheme of writing his life constantly in view; as hewas well apprised of this circumstanceand from time to time obliginglysatisfied my enquiriesby communicating to me the incidents of his early years;as I acquired a facility in recollectingand was very assiduous in recordinghis conversationof which the extraordinary vigour and vivacity constituted oneof the first features of his character; and as I have spared no pains inobtaining materials concerning himfrom every quarter where I could discoverthat they were to be foundand have been favoured with the most liberalcommunications by his friends; I flatter myself that few biographers haveentered upon such a work as thiswith more advantages; independent of literaryabilitiesin which I am not vain enough to compare myself with some great nameswho have gone before me in this kind of writing.

Since my work was announcedseveral Lives and Memoirs of Dr. Johnson havebeen publishedthe most voluminous of which is one compiled for the booksellersof Londonby Sir John HawkinsKnight* a manwhomduring my long intimacywith Dr. JohnsonI never saw in his companyI thinkbut onceand I am surenot above twice. Johnson might have esteemed him for his decentreligiousdemeanourand his knowledge of books and literary history; but from the rigidformality of his mannersit is evident that they never could have livedtogether with companionable ease and familiarity; nor had Sir John Hawkins thatnice perception which was necessary to mark the finer and less obvious parts ofJohnson's character. His being appointed one of his executorsgave him anopportunity of taking possession of such fragments of a diary and other papersas were left; of whichbefore delivering them up to the residuary legateewhose property they werehe endeavoured to extract the substance. In this hehas not been very successfulas I have found upon a perusal of those paperswhich have been since transferred to me. Sir John Hawkins's ponderous laboursImust acknowledgeexhibit a farragoof which a considerable portion is notdevoid of entertainment to the lovers of literary gossiping; but besides itsbeing swelled out with long unnecessary extracts from various works(even oneof several leaves from Osborne's Harleian Catalogueand those not compiled byJohnsonbut by Oldys) a very small part of it relates to the person who is thesubject of the book; andin thatthere is such an inaccuracy in the statementof factsas in so solemn an authour is hardly excusableand certainly makeshis narrative very unsatisfactory. But what is still worsethere is throughoutthe whole of it a dark uncharitable castby which the most unfavourableconstruction is put upon almost every circumstance in the character and conductof my illustrious friend; whoI trustwillby a true and fair delineationbevindicated both from the injurious misrepresentations of this authourand fromthe slighter aspersions of a lady who once lived in great intimacy with him. -

* The greatest part of this book was written while Sir John Hawkins was alive:and I avowthat one object of my strictures was to make him feel somecompunction for his illiberal treatment of Dr. Johnson. Since his deceaseIhave suppressed several of my remarks upon his work. But though I would not"war with the dead" offensivelyI think it necessary to be strenuousin defence of my illustrious friendwhich I cannot bewithout stronganimadversions upon a writer who has greatly injured him. Let me addthatthough I doubt I should not have been very prompt to gratify Sir John Hawkinswith any compliment in his life-timeI do now frankly acknowledgethatin myopinionhis volumehowever inadequate and improper as a life of Dr. Johnsonand however discredited by unpardonable inaccuracies in other respectscontainsa collection of curious anecdotes and observationswhich few men but itsauthour could have brought together. -

There isin the British Museuma letter from Bishop Warburton to Dr. Birchon the subject of biography; whichthough I am aware it may expose me to acharge of artfully raising the value of my own workby contrasting it with thatof which I have spokenis so well conceived and expressedthat I cannotrefrain from here inserting it: -

"I shall endeavour(says Dr. Warburton) to give you what satisfactionI can in any thing you want to be satisfied in any subject of Miltonand amextremely glad you intend to write his life. Almost all the life-writers we havehad before Toland and Desmaiseauxare indeed strange insipid creatures; and yetI had rather read the worst of themthan be obliged to go through with this ofMilton'sor the other's life of Boileauwhere there is such a dullheavysuccession of long quotations of disinteresting passagesthat it makes theirmethod quite nauseous. But the verbosetasteless Frenchman seems to lay it downas a principlethat every life must be a bookand what's worseit proves abook without a life; for what do we know of Boileauafter all his tedious stuff?You are the only one

(and I speak it without a compliment) that by the vigour of your stile andsentimentsand the real importance of your materialshave the art(which onewould imagine no one could have missed) of adding agreements to the mostagreeable subject in the worldwhich is literary history." *

"Nov. 241737." -

* Brit. Mus. 4320Ayscough's Catal. Sloane MSS. -

Instead of melting down my materials into one massand constantly speakingin my own personby which I might have appeared to have more merit in theexecution of the workI have resolved to adopt and enlarge upon the excellentplan of Mr. Masonin his Memoirs of Gray. Wherever narrative is necessary toexplainconnectand supplyI furnish it to the best of my abilities; but inthe chronological series of Johnson's lifewhich I trace as distinctly as Icanyear by yearI producewherever it is in my powerhis own minuteslettersor conversationbeing convinced that this mode is more livelyandwill make my readers better acquainted with himthan even most of those werewho actually knew himbut could know him only partially; whereas there is herean accumulation of intelligence from various pointsby which his character ismore fully understood and illustrated.

Indeed I cannot conceive a more perfect mode of writing any man's lifethannot only relating all the most important events of it in their orderbutinterweaving what be privately wroteand saidand thought; by which mankindare enabled as it were to see him liveand to "live o'er each scene"with himas he actually advanced through the several stages of his life. Hadhis other friends been as diligent and ardent as I washe might have beenalmost entirely preserved. As it isI will venture to say that he will be seenin this work more completely than any man who has ever yet lived.

And he will be seen as he really was; for I profess to writenot hispanegyrickwhich must be all praisebut his Life; whichgreat and good as hewasmust not be supposed to be entirely perfect. To be as he wasis indeedsubject of panegyrick enough to any man in this state of being; but in everypicture there should be shade as well as lightand when I delineate him withoutreserveI do what he himself recommendedboth by his precept and his example.

"If the biographer writes from personal knowledgeand makes haste togratify the publick curiositythere is danger lest his interesthis fearhisgratitudeor his tendernessoverpower his fidelityand tempt him to concealif not to invent. There are many who think it an act of piety to hide the faultsor failings of their friendseven when they can no longer suffer by theirdetection; we therefore see whole ranks of characters adorned with uniformpanegyrickand not to be known from one another but by extrinsick and casualcircumstances. 'Let me remember(says Hale) when I find myself inclined topity a criminalthat there is likewise a pity due to the country.' If we oweregard to the memory of the deadthere is yet more respect to be paid toknowledgeto virtueand to truth. * -

* RamblerNo. 60. -

What I consider as the peculiar value of the following workisthe quantityit contains of Johnson's conversation; which is universally acknowledged to havebeen eminently instructive and entertaining; and of which the specimens that Ihave given upon a former occasionhave been received with so much approbationthat I have good grounds for supposing that the world will not be indifferent tomore ample communications of a similar nature.

That the conversation of a celebrated manif his talents have been exertedin conversationwill best display his characterisI trusttoo wellestablished in the judgement of mankindto be at all shaken by a sneeringobservation of Mr. Masonin his Memoirs of Mr. William Whiteheadin whichthere is literally no Lifebut a mere dry narrative of facts. I do not think itwas quite necessary to attempt a depreciation of what is universally esteemedbecause it was not to be found in the immediate object of the ingenious writer'spen; for in truthfrom a man so still and so tameas to be contented to passmany years as the domestick companion of a superannuated lord and ladyconversation could no more be expectedthan from a Chinese mandarin on achimney-pieceor the fantastick figures on a gilt leather skreen.

If authority be required let us appeal to Plutarchthe prince of ancientbiographers. Oute tais epiphanestatais praxesi pantos enesti delosis aretes ekakiasalla pragma brachu pollakiskai rhemakai paidia tis emphasin ethousepoiesen mallon e machai murionekroiparataxeis ai megistaikai poliorkiapoleon. "Nor is it always in the most distinguished atchievements thatmen's virtues or vices may be best discerned; but very often an action of smallnotea short sayingor a jestshall distinguish a person's real charactermore than the greatest siegesor the most important battles." * -

* Plutarch's Life of Alexander.- Langhornes's Translation. -

To this may be added the sentiments of the very man whose life I am about toexhibit. "The business of the biographer is often to pass slightly overthose performances and incidents which produce vulgar greatnessto lead thethoughts into domestick privaciesand display the minute details of daily lifewhose exteriour appendages are cast asideand men excel each other only byprudence and by virtue. The account of Thuanus is with great propriety said byits authour to have been writtenthat it might lay open to posterity theprivate and familiar character of that mancujus ingenium et candorem ex ipsiusscriptis sunt olim semper miraturiwhose candour and genius will to the end oftime be by his writings preserved in admiration.

"There are many invisible circumstanceswhich whether we read asenquirers after natural or moral knowledgewhether we intend to inlarge ourscience or increase our virtueare more important than publick occurrences.Thus Sallustthe great master of naturehas not forgot in his account ofCatiline to remarkthat his walk was now quickand again slowas anindication of a mind revolving with violent commotion. Thus the story ofMelancthon affords a striking lecture on the value of timeby informing usthat when he had made an appointmenthe expected not only the hourbut theminute to be fixedthat the day might not run out in the idleness of suspense;and all the plans and enterprises of De Witt are now of lessimportance to theworld than that part of his personal characterwhich represents him as carefulof his healthand negligent of his life.

"But biography has often been allotted to writerswho seem very littleacquainted with the nature of their taskor very negligent about theperformance. They rarely afford any other account than might be collected frompublick papersbut imagine themselves writing a lifewhen they exhibit achronological series of actions or preferments; and have so little regard to themanners or behaviour of their heroesthat more knowledge may be gained of aman's real characterby a short conversation with one of his servantsthanfrom a formal and studied narrativebegun with his pedigreeand ended with hisfuneral. "There are indeedsome natural reasons why these narratives areoften written by such as were not likely to give much instruction or delightand why most accounts of particular persons are barren and useless. If a life bedelayed till interest and envy are at an endwe may hope for impartialitybutmust expect little intelligence; for the incidents which give excellence tobiography are of a volatile and evanescent kindsuch as soon escape the memoryand are rarely transmitted by tradition. We know how few can pourtray a livingacquaintanceexcept by his most prominent and observable particularitiesandthe grosser features of his mind; and it may be easily imagined how much of thislittle knowledge may be lost in imparting itand how soon a succession ofcopies will lose all resemblance of the original." * -

* RamblerNo. 60. -

I am fully aware of the objections which may be made to the minuteness onsome occasions of my detail of Johnson's conversationand how happily it isadapted for the petty exercise of ridiculeby men of superficial understandingand ludicrous fancy; but I remain firm and confident in my opinionthat minuteparticulars are frequently characteristickand always amusingwhen they relateto a distinguished man. I am therefore exceedingly unwilling that any thinghowever slightwhich my illustrious friend thought it worth his while toexpresswith any degree of pointshould perish. For this almost superstitiousreverenceI have found very old and venerable authorityquoted by our greatmodern prelateSeckerin whose tenth sermon there is the following passage:

"Rabbi David Kimchia noted Jewish Commentatorwho lived about fivehundred years agoexplains that passage in the first PsalmHis leaf also shallnot witherfrom Rabbins yet older than himselfthus: That even the idle talkso he expresses itof a good man ought to be regarded; the most superfluousthings he saith are always of some value. And other ancient authours have thesame phrasenearly in the same sense."

Of one thing I am certainthat considering how highly the small portionwhich we have of the table-talk and other anecdotes of our celebrated writers isvaluedand how earnestly it is regretted that we have not moreI am justifiedin preserving rather too many of Johnson's sayingsthan too few; especially asfrom the diversity of dispositions it cannot be known with certainty beforehandwhether what may seem trifling to someand perhaps to the collector himselfmay not be most agreeable to many; and the greater number that an authour canplease in any degreethe more pleasure does there arise to a benevolent mind.

To those who are weak enough to think this a degrading taskand the time andlabour which have been devoted to it misemployedI shall content myself withopposing the authority of the greatest man of any ageJULIUS CAESARof whomBacon observesthat "in his book of Apothegms which he collectedwe seethat he esteemed it more honour to make himself but a pair of tablesto takethe wise and pithy words of othersthan to have every word of his own to bemade an apothegm or an oracle." * -

* Bacon's Advancement of LearningBook I. -

Having said thus much by way of introductionI commit the following pages tothe candour of the Publick.

1709-1727: EARLY YEARS -

SAMUEL JOHNSON was born in Lichfieldin Staffordshireon the 18th ofSeptemberN.S. 1709; and his initiation into the Christian Church was notdelayed; for his baptism is recorded in the register of St. Mary's parish inthat cityto have been performed on the day of his birth: His father is therestiled Gentlemana circumstance of which an ignorant panegyrist has praised himfor not being proud; when the truth isthat the appellation of Gentlemanthough now lost in the indiscriminate assumption of Esquirewas commonly takenby those who could not boast of gentility. His father was Michael Johnsonanative of Derbyshireof obscure extractionwho settled in Lichfield as abookseller and stationer. His mother was Sarah Forddescended of an ancientrace of substantial yeomanry in Warwickshire. They were well advanced in yearswhen they marriedand never had more than two childrenboth sonsSamueltheir first-bornwho lived to be the illustrious character whose variousexcellence I am to endeavour to recordand Nathanaelwho died in histwenty-fifth year. * -

* [Nathanael was born in 1712and died in 1737. Their fatherMichaelJohnsonwas born at Cubley in Derbyshirein 1656and died at Lichfield in1731at the age of seventy-six. Sarah Fordhis wifewas born at King's-Nortonin the county of Worcesterin 1669and died at Lichfieldin January 1759inher ninetieth year.- King's-Norton Dr. Johnson supposed to be in Warwickshire (seehis inscription for his mother's tomb)but it is in Worcestershireprobably onthe confines of the county of Warwick.- M.] -

Mr. Michael Johnson was a man of a large and robust bodyand of a strong andactive mind; yetas in the most solid rocksveins of unsound substance areoften discoveredthere was in him a mixture of that diseasethe nature ofwhich eludes the most minute enquirythough the effects are well known to be aweariness of lifean unconcern about those things which agitate the greaterpart of mankindand a general sensation of gloomy wretchedness. From him thenhis son inheritedwith some other qualities"a vile melancholy"which in his too strong expression of any disturbance of mind"made himmad all his lifeat least not sober." * Michael washoweverforced bythe narrowness of his circumstances to be very diligent in businessnot only inhis shopbut by occasionally resorting to several towns in the neighbourhood*(2) some of which were at a considerable distance from Lichfield. At that timebooksellers' shops in the provincial towns of England were very rareso thatthere was not one even in Birminghamin which town old Mr. Johnson used to opena shop every market-day. He was a pretty good Latin scholarand a citizen socreditable as to be made one of the magistrates of Lichfield; andbeing a manof good senseand skill in his tradehe acquired a reasonable share of wealthof which however he afterwards lost the greatest partby engagingunsuccessfully in a manufacture of parchment. He was a zealous high-church manand royalistand retained his attachment to the unfortunate house of Stuartthough he reconciled himselfby casuistical arguments of expediency andnecessityto take the oaths imposed by the prevailing power. -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebridesthird editionp. 213 [Sept. 16].

*(2) Extract of a letterdated "TrenthamSt. Peter's day1716"written by the Rev. George PlaxtonChaplain at that time to Lord Gowerwhichmay serve to show the high estimation in which the Father of our great Moralistwas held:- "Johnsonthe Lichfield Librarianis now here; he propagateslearning all over this dioceseand advanceth knowledge to its just height; allthe Clergy here are his pupilsand suck all they have from him; Allen cannotmake a warrant without his precedentnor our quondam John Evans draw arecognizance sine directione Michaelis. "- Gentleman's MagazineOctober1791. -

There is a circumstance in his life somewhat romantickbut so wellauthenticatedthat I shall not omit it. A young woman of Leekin Staffordshirewhile he served his apprenticeship thereconceived a violent passion for him;and though it met with no favourable returnfollowed him to Lichfieldwhereshe took lodgings opposite to the house in which he livedand indulged herhopeless flame. When he was informed that it so preyed upon her mind that herlife was in dangerhe with a generous humanity went to her and offered to marryherbut it was then too late: Her vital power was exhausted; and she actuallyexhibited one of the very rare instances of dying for love. She was buried inthe cathedral of Lichfield; and hewith a tender regardplaced a stone overher grave with this inscription: -

Here lies the body of

Mrs. ELIZABETH BLANEYa stranger:

She departed this life

20 of September1694. -

Johnson's mother was a woman of distinguished understanding. * I asked hisold school-fellowMr. Hectorsurgeonof Birminghamif she was not vain ofher son. He said"she had too much good sense to be vainbut she knew herson's value." Her piety was not inferiour to her understanding; and to hermust be ascribed those early impressions of religion upon the mind of her sonfrom which the world afterwards derived so much benefit. He told methat heremembered distinctly having had the first notice of Heaven"a place towhich good people went" and hell"a place to which bad people went"communicated to him by herwhen a little child in bed with her; and that itmight be the better fixed in his memoryshe sent him to repeat it to ThomasJacksontheir man-servant; he not being in the waythis was not done; butthere was no occasion for any artificial aid for its preservation. -

* [It was nothowevermuch cultivatedas we may collect from Dr. Johnson'sown account of his early yearspublished by R. Phillips8vo. 1805a workundoubtedly authentickand whichthough shortis curiousand well worthy ofperusal. "My father and mother (says Johnson) had not much happiness fromeach other. They seldom conversed; for my father could not bear to talk of hisaffairs; and my motherbeing unacquainted with bookscared not to talk of anything else. Had my mother been more literatethey had been better companions.She might have sometimes introduced her unwelcome topick with more successifshe could have diversified her conversation. Of business she had no distinctconception; and therefore her discourse was composed only of complaintfearand suspicion. Neither of them ever tried to calculate the profits of tradeorthe expences of living. My mother concluded that we were poorbecause we lostby some of our trades; but the truth wasthat my fatherhaving in the earlypart of his life contracted debtsnever had trade sufficient to enable him topay themand to maintain his family: he got somethingbut not enough. It wasnot till about 1768that I thought to calculate the returns of my father'stradeand by that estimate his probable profits. ThisI believemy parentsnever did."- M.] -

In following so very eminent a man from his cradle to his graveevery minuteparticularwhich can throw light on the progress of his mindis interesting.That he was remarkableeven in his earliest yearsmay easily be supposed; forto use his own words in his Life of Sydenham"That the strength of hisunderstandingthe accuracy of his discernmentand the ardour of his curiositymight have been remarked from his infancyby a diligent observerthere is noreason to doubt. Forthere is no instance of any manwhose history has beenminutely relatedthat did not in every part of life discover the sameproportion of intellectual vigour."

In all such investigations it is certainly unwise to pay too much attentionto incidents which the credulous relate with eager satisfactionand the morescrupulous or witty enquirer considers only as topicks of ridicule: Yet there isa traditional story of the infant Hercules of toryismso curiouslycharacteristickthat I shall not withhold it. It was communicated to me in aletter from Miss Mary Adyeof Lichfield.

"When Dr. Sacheverel was at LichfieldJohnson was not quite three yearsold. My grandfather Hammond observed him at the cathedral perched upon hisfather's shoulderslistening and gaping at the much celebrated preacher. Mr.Hammond asked Mr. Johnson how he could possibly think of bringing such an infantto churchand in the midst of so great a croud. He answeredbecause it wasimpossible to keep him at home; foryoung as he washe believed he had caughtthe publick spirit and zeal for Sachevereland would have staid for ever in thechurchsatisfied with beholding him."

Nor can I omit a little instance of that jealous independence of spiritandimpetuosity of temperwhich never forsook him. The fact was acknowledged to meby himselfupon the authority of his mother. One daywhen the servant who usedto be sent to school to conduct him homehad not come in timehe set out byhimselfthough he was then so near-sightedthat he was obliged to stoop downon his hands and knees to take a view of the kennel before he ventured to stepover it. His school-mistressafraid that he might miss his wayor fall intothe kennelor be run over by a cartfollowed him at some distance. He happenedto turn about and perceive her. Feeling her careful attention as an insult tohis manlinesshe ran back to her in a rageand beat heras well as hisstrength would permit.

Of the power of his memoryfor which he was all his life eminent to a degreealmost incrediblethe following early instance was told me in his presence atLichfieldin 1776by his step-daughterMrs. Lucy Porteras related to her byhis mother. When he was a child in petticoatsand had learnt to readMrs.Johnson one morning put the common prayer-book into his handspointed to thecollect for the dayand said"Samyou must get this by heart." Shewent up stairsleaving him to study it: but by the time she had reached thesecond floorshe heard him following her. "What's the matter?" saidshe. "I can say it" he replied; and repeated it distinctlythough hecould not have read it more than twice.

But there has been another story of his infant precocity generally circulatedand generally believedthe truth of which I am to refute upon his own authority.It is told* thatwhen a child of three years oldhe chanced to tread upon aducklingthe eleventh of a broodand killed it; upon whichit is saidhedictated to his mother the following epitaph: -

"Here lies good master duck

Whom Samuel Johnson trod on; If it had liv'dit had been good luck

For then we'd had an odd one. " -

* Anecdotes of Dr. Johnsonby Hester Lynch Piozzip. 11. Life of Dr.Johnsonby Sir John Hawkinsp. 6. -

There is surely internal evidence that this little composition combines in itwhat no child of three years old could producewithout an extension of itsfaculties by immediate inspiration; yet Mrs. Lucy PorterDr. Johnson'sstep-daughterpositively maintained to mein his presencethat there could beno doubt of the truth of this anecdotefor she had heard it from his mother. Sodifficult is it to obtain an authentick relation of factsand such authoritymay there be for errour; for he assured methat his father made the versesandwished to pass them for his child's. He added"my father was a foolish oldman; that is to sayfoolish in talking of his children." * -

* This anecdote of the duckthough disproved by internal and externalevidencehas neverthelessupon supposition of its truthbeen made thefoundation of the following ingenious and fanciful reflections of Miss Sewardamongst the communications concerning Dr. Johnson with which she has beenpleased to favour me:- "These infant numbers contain the seeds of thosepropensities which through his life so strongly marked his characterof thatpoetick talent which afterwards bore such rich and plentiful fruits; forexcepting his orthographick worksevery thing which Dr. Johnson wrote wasPoetrywhose essence consists not in numbersor in jinglebut in the strengthand glow of a fancyto which all the stores of nature and of art stand inprompt administration; and in an eloquence which conveys their blendedillustrations in a language'more tuneable than needs or rhyme or verse to addmore harmony.'

"The above little verses also shew that superstitious bias which 'grewwith his growthand strengthened with his strength' andof late yearsparticularlyinjured his happinessby presenting to him the gloomy side ofreligionrather than that bright and cheering one which gilds the period ofclosing life with the light of pious hope."

This is so beautifully imaginedthat I would not suppress it. Butlike manyother theoriesit is deduced from a supposed factwhich isindeeda fiction.-

Young Johnson had the misfortune to be much afflicted with the scrophulaorking's-evilwhich disfigured a countenance naturally well formedand hurt hisvisual nerves so muchthat he did not see at all with one of his eyesthoughits appearance was little different from that of the other. There is amongst hisprayers* one inscribed "When my EYE was restored to its use" whichascertains a defect that many of his friends knew he hadthough I neverperceived it. *(2) I supposed him to be only near-sighted; and indeed I mustobservethat in no other respectcould I discern any defect in his vision; onthe contrarythe force of his attention and perceptive quickness made him seeand distinguish all manner of objectswhether of nature or of artwith anicety that is rarely to be found. When he and I were travelling in theHighlands of Scotlandand I pointed out to him a mountain which I observedresembled a conehe corrected my inaccuracyby shewing methat it was indeedpointed at the topbut that one side of it was larger than the other. And theladies with whom he was acquainted agreethat no man was more nicely andminutely critical in the elegance of female dress. When I found that he saw theromantick beauties of Islamin Derbyshiremuch better than I didI told himthat he resembled an able performer upon a bad instrument. How false andcontemptible then are all the remarks which have been made to the prejudiceeither of his candour or of his philosophyfounded upon a supposition that hewas almost blind. It has been saidthat he contracted this grievous malady fromhis nurse. *(3) His motheryielding to the superstitious notionwhichit iswonderful to thinkprevailed so long in this countryas to the virtue of theregal touch; a notionwhich our kings encouragedand to which a man of suchenquiry and such judgement as Carte could give credit; carried him to Londonwhere he was actually touched by Queen Anne. *(4) Mrs. Johnson indeedas Mr.Hector informed meacted by the advice of the celebrated Sir John Floyerthena physician in Lichfield. Johnson used to talk of this very frankly; and Mrs.Piozzi has preserved his very picturesque description of the sceneas itremained upon his fancy. Being asked if he could remember Queen Anne- "Hehad (he said) a confusedbut somehow a sort of solemn recollection of a lady indiamondsand a long black hood." *(5) This touchhoweverwas without anyeffect. I ventured to say to himin allusion to the political principles inwhich he was educatedand of which he ever retained some odourthat "hismother had not carried him far enough; she should have taken him to ROME."-

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 27.

*(2) [Speaking himself of the imperfection of one of his eyeshe said to Dr.Burney"the dog was never good for much."- BURNEY.]

*(3) [Such was the opinion of Dr. Swinfen. Johnson's eyes were very soondiscovered to be badand to relieve theman issue was cut in his left arm. Atthe end of ten weeks from his birthhe was taken home from his nurse"apoor diseased infantalmost blind." See a workalready quotedentitled"An account of the life of Dr. Samuel Johnsonfrom his birth to hiseleventh year; written by himself." 8vo. 1805.- M.]

*(4) [He was only thirty months oldwhen he was taken to London to betouched for the evil. During this visithe tells ushis mother purchased forhim a small silver cup and spoon. "The cup" he affectingly adds"was one of the last pieces of plate which dear Tetty soldin our distress.I have now the spoon. She bought at the same time two tea-spoonsand till mymanhoodshe had no more." Ibid.- M.]

*(5) Anecdotesp. 10. -

He was first taught to read English by Dame Olivera widowwho kept aschool for young children in Lichfield. He told me she could read the blackletterand asked him to borrow for herfrom his fathera bible in thatcharacter. When he was going to Oxfordshe came to take leave of himbroughthimin the simplicity of her kindnessa present of gingerbreadand said hewas the best scholar she ever had. He delighted in mentioning this earlycompliment: addingwith smilethat "this was as high a proof of his meritas he could conceive." His next instructor in English was a masterwhomwhen he spoke of him to mehe familiarly called Tom Brownwhosaid he"publisheda spelling-bookand dedicated it to the UNIVERSE; butI fearno copy of itcan now be had."

He began to learn Latin with Mr. Hawkinsusheror under-master of Lichfieldschool"a man (said he) very skilful in his little way." With him hecontinued two yearsand then rose to be under the care of Mr. Huntertheheadmasterwhoaccording to his account"was very severeandwrong-headedly severe. He used (said he) to beat us unmercifully; and he did notdistinguish between ignorance and negligence; for he would beat a boy equallyfor not knowing a thingas for neglecting to know it. He would ask a boy aquestionand if he did not answer ithe would beat himwithout consideringwhether he had an opportunity of knowing how to answer it. For instancehewould call up a boy and ask him Latin for a candlestickwhich the boy could notexpect to be asked. NowSirif a boy could answer every questionthere wouldbe no need of a master to teach him."

It ishoweverbut justice to the memory of Mr. Hunter to mentionthatthough he might err in being too severethe school of Lichfield was veryrespectable in his time. The late Dr. TaylorPrebendary of Westminsterwho waseducated under himtold methat "he was an excellent masterand that hisushers were most of them men of eminence; that Holbrookone of the mostingenious menbest scholarsand best preachers of his agewas usher duringthe greatest part of the time that Johnson was at school. Then came Hagueofwhom as much might be saidwith the addition that he was an elegant poet. Haguewas succeeded by Greenafterwards Bishop of Lincolnwhose character in thelearned world is well known. In the same form with Johnson was Congrevewhoafterwards became chaplain to Archbishop Boulterand by that connectionobtained good preferment in Ireland. He was a younger son of the ancient familyof Congrevein Staffordshireof which the poet was a branch. His brother soldthe estate. There was also Loweafterwards Canon of Windsor."

Indeed Johnson was very sensible how much he owed to Mr. Hunter. Mr. Langtonone day asked him how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latinin whichI believehe was exceeded by no man of his time; he said"My master whiptme very well. Without thatSirI should have done nothing." He told Mr.Langtonthat while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifullyhe used to say"And this I do to save you from the gallows." Johnsonupon alloccasionsexpressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of therod. * "I would rather (said he) have the rod to be the general terrour toallto make them learnthan tell a childif you do thusor thusyou will bemore esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect whichterminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whippedand gets his taskandthere's an end on't; whereasby exciting emulation and comparisons ofsuperiorityyou lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers andsisters hate each other." -

* [Johnson's observations to Dr. Rose on this subjectmay be found in asubsequent part of this work. See postnear the end of the year 1775.- BURNEY.]-

When Johnson saw some young ladies in Lincolnshire who were remarkably wellbehavedowing to their mother's strict discipline and severe correctionheexclaimedin one of Shakespeare's lines a little varied*

"RodI will honour thee for this thy duty." -

* [More than a little. The line is in KING HENRY VI. Part ii. act iv. sc.last:

"SwordI will hallow thee for this thy deed."- M.] -

That superiority over his fellowswhich he maintained with so much dignityin his march through lifewas not assumed from vanity and ostentationbut wasthe natural and constant effect of those extraordinary powers of mindof whichhe could not but be conscious by comparison; the intellectual differencewhichin other cases of comparison of charactersis often a matter of undecidedcontestbeing as clear in his case as the superiority of stature in some menabove others. Johnson did not strut or stand on tip-toe; he only did not stoop.From his earliest yearshis superiority was perceived and acknowledged. He wasfrom the beginningAnax androna king of men. His schoolfellowMr. Hectorhas obligingly furnished me with many particulars of his boyish days; andassured me that he never knew him corrected at schoolbut for talking anddiverting other boys from their business. He seemed to learn by intuition; forthough indolence and procrastination were inherent in his constitutionwheneverhe made an exertion he did more than any one else. In shorthe is a memorableinstance of what has been often observedthat the boy is the man in miniature:and that the distinguishing characteristicks of each individual are the samethrough the whole course of life. His favourites used to receive very liberalassistance from him; and such was the submission and deference with which he wastreatedsuch the desire to obtain his regardthat three of the boysof whomMr. Hector was sometimes oneused to come in the morning as his humbleattendantsand carry him to school. One in the middle stoopedwhile he satupon his backand one on each side supported him; and thus he was bornetriumphant. Such a proof of the early predominance of intellectual vigour isvery remarkableand does honour to human nature.- Talking to me once himself ofhis being much distinguished at schoolhe told me"they never thought toraise me by comparing me to any one; they never saidJohnson is as good ascholar as such a one; but such a one is as good a scholar as Johnson; and thiswas said but of onebut of Lowe; and I do not think he was as good a scholar."

He discovered a great ambition to excelwhich roused him to counteract hisindolence. He was uncommonly inquisitive; and his memory was so tenaciousthathe never forgot anything that he either heard or read. Mr. Hector remembershaving recited to him eighteen verseswhichafter a little pausehe repeatedverbatimvarying only one epithetby which he improved the line.

He never joined with the other boys in their ordinary diversions: his onlyamusement was in winterwhen he took a pleasure in being drawn upon the ice bya boy barefootedwho pulled him along by a garter fixed around him; no veryeasy operationas his size was remarkably large. His defective sightindeedprevented him from enjoying the common sports; and he once pleasantly remarkedto me"how wonderfully well he had contrived to be idle without them."Lord Chesterfieldhoweverhas justly observed in one of his letterswhenearnestly cautioning a friend against the pernicious effects of idlenessthatactive sports are not to be reckoned idleness in young people; and that thelistless torpor of doing nothing alone deserves that name. Of this dismalinertness of dispositionJohnson had all his life too great a share. Mr. Hectorrelatesthat "he could not oblige him more than by sauntering away thehours of vacation in the fieldsduring which he was more engaged in talking tohimself than to his companion."

Dr. Percythe Bishop of Dromorewho was long intimately acquainted with himand has preserved a few anecdotes concerning himregretting that he was not amore diligent collectorinforms methat "when a boy he was immoderatelyfond of reading romances of chivalryand he retained his fondness for themthrough life; so that (adds his Lordship) spending part of a summer at myparsonage-house in the countryhe chose for his regular reading the old Spanishromance of FELIXMARTE OF HIRCANIAin foliowhich he read quite through. Yet Ihave heard him attribute to these extravagant fictions that unsettled turn ofmind which prevented his ever fixing in any profession."

After having resided for some time at the house of his uncle*

Cornelius FordJohnson wasat the age of fifteenremoved to the school ofStourbridgein Worcestershireof which Mr. Wentworth was then master. Thisstep was taken by the advice of his cousinthe Rev. Mr. Forda man in whomboth talents and good dispositions were disgraced by licentiousness*(2) butwho was a very able judge of what was right. At this school he did not receiveso much benefit as was expected. It has been saidthat he acted in the capacityof an assistant to Mr. Wentworthin teaching the younger boys. "Mr.Wentworth (he told me) was a very able manbut an idle manand to me verysevere; but I cannot blame him much. I was then a big boy; he saw I did notreverence him; and that he should get no honour by me. I had brought enough withmeto carry me through; and all I should get at his school would be ascribed tomy own labouror to my former master. Yet he taught me a great deal." -

* [Cornelius Fordaccording to Sir John Hawkinswas his cousin-germanbeing the son of Dr. Joseph [Q. Nathanael] Fordan eminent Physicianwho wasbrother to Johnson's mother.- M.]

*(2) He is said to be the original of the parson in Hogarth's Modern MidnightConversation. -

He thus discriminatedto Dr. PercyBishop of Dromorehis progress at histwo grammar-schools. "At oneI learned much in the schoolbut little fromthe master; in the otherI learnt much from the masterbut little in theschool."

The Bishop also informs methat "Dr. Johnson's fatherbefore he wasreceived at Stourbridgeapplied to have him admitted as a scholar and assistantto the Rev. Samuel LeaM.A.head master of Newport schoolin Shropshire; (avery diligent good teacherat that time in high reputationunder whom Mr.Hollis is saidin the Memoirs of his Lifeto have been also educated). * Thisapplication to Mr. Lea was not successful; but Johnson had afterwards thegratification to hear that the old gentlemanwho lived to a very advanced agementioned it as one of the most memorable events of his lifethat "he wasvery near having that great man for his scholar." -

* As was likewise the Bishop of Dromore many years afterwards. -

He remained at Stourbridge little more than a yearand then he returnedhomewhere he may be said to have loiteredfor two yearsin a state veryunworthy his uncommon abilities. He had already given several proofs of hispoetical geniusboth in his school-exercises and in other occasionalcompositions. Of these I have obtained a considerable collectionby the favourof Mr. Wentworthson of one of his mastersand of Mr. Hectorhisschool-fellow and friend; from which I select the following specimens: -

Translation of VIRGIL. Pastoral I -


NowTityrusyousupine and careless laid

Play on your pipe beneath this beechen shade;

While wretched we about the world must roam

And leave our pleasing fields and native home

Here at your ease you sing your amorous flame

And the wood rings with Amarillis' name. -


Those blessingsfrienda deity bestow'd

For I shall never think him less than God;

Oft on his altar shall my firstlings lie

Their blood the consecrated stones shall dye:

He gave my flocks to graze the flowery meads

And me to tune at ease th' unequal reeds. -


My admiration only I exprest

(No spark of envy harbours in my breast)

Thatwhen confusion o'er the country reigns

To you alone this happy state remains.

Here Ithough faint myselfmust drive my goats

Far from their antient fields and humble cots.

This scarce I leadwho left on yonder rock

Two tender kidsthe hopes of all the flock.

Had we not been perverse and careless grown

This dire event by omens was foreshown;

Our trees were blasted by the thunder stroke

And left-hand crowsfrom an old hollow oak

Foretold the coming evil by their dismal croak. -

Translation of HORACE. Book I. Ode xxii -

THE manmy friendwhose conscious heart

With virtue's sacred ardour glows

Nor taints with death the envenom'd dart

Nor needs the guard of Moorish bows; -

Though Scythia's icy cliffs he treads

Or horrid Africk's faithless sands;

Or where the fam'd Hydaspes spreads

His liquid wealth o'er barbarous lands. -

For while by Chloe's image charm'd

Too far in Sabine woods I stray'd;

Me singingcareless and unarm'd

A grizly wolf surprisedand fled. -

No savage more portentous stain'd

Apulia's spacious wilds with gore;

No fiercer Juba's thirsty land

Dire nurse of raging lionsbore. -

Place me where no soft summer gale

Among the quivering branches sighs;

Where clouds condens'd for ever veil

With horrid gloom the frowning skies: -

Place me beneath the burning line

A clime deny'd to human race:

I'll sing of Chloe's charms divine

Her heav'nly voiceand beauteous face. -

Translation of HORACE. Book II. Ode ix -

CLOUDS do not always veil the skies

Nor showers immerse the verdant plain:

Nor do the billows always rise

Or storms afflict the ruffled main. -

NorValgiuson th' Armenian shores

Do the chain'd waters always freeze;


Not always furious Boreas roars

Or bends with violent force the trees. -

But you are ever drown'd in tears

For Mystes dead you ever mourn;

No setting Sol can ease your care

But finds you sad at his return. -

The wise experienc'd Grecian sage

Mourn'd not Antilochus so long;

Nor did King Priam's hoary age

So much lament his slaughter'd son. -

Leave offat lengththese women's sighs

Augustus' numerous trophies sing;

Repeat that prince's victories

To whom all nations tribute bring. -

Niphates rolls an humbler wave

At length the undaunted Scythian yields

Content to live the Roman's slave

And scarce forsakes his native fields. -

Translation of Part of the Dialogue between


from the Sixth Book of HOMER'S ILIAD -

SHE ceas'd; then godlike Hector answer'd kind

(His various plumage sporting in the wind)

That postand all the restshall be my care;

But shall Ithenforsake the unfinished war?

How would the Trojans brand great Hector's name!

And one base action sully all my fame

Acquired by wounds and battles bravely fought!

Oh! how my soul abhors so mean a thought.

Long since I learn'd to slight this fleeting breath

And view with cheerful eyes approaching death.

The inexorable sisters have decreed

That Priam's houseand Priam's self shall bleed:

The day will comein which proud Troy shall yield

And spread its smoking ruins o'er the field.

Yet Hecuba'snor Priam's hoary age

Whose blood shall quench some Grecian's thirsty rage

Nor my brave brothersthat have bit the ground

Their souls dismiss'd through many a ghastly wound

Can in my bosom half that grief create

As the sad thought of your impending fate:

When some proud Grecian dame shall tasks impose

Mimick your tearsand ridicule your woes;

Beneath Hyperia's waters shall you sweat

Andfaintingscarce support the liquid weight:

Then shall some Argive loud insulting cry

Behold the wife of Hectorguard of Troy!

Tearsat my nameshall drown those beauteous eyes

And that fair bosom heave with rising sighs!

Before that dayby some brave hero's hand

May I lie slainand spurn the bloody sand. -

To a YOUNG LADY on her BIRTH-DAY * -

THIS tributary verse receive my fair

Warm with an ardent lover's fondest pray'r.

May this returning day for ever find

Thy form more lovelymore adorn'd thy mind;

All painsall caresmay favouring heav'n remove

All but the sweet solicitudes of love!

May powerful nature join with grateful art

To point each glanceand force it to the heart!

O thenwhen conquered crouds confess thy sway

When ev'n proud wealth and prouder wit obey

My fairbe mindful of the mighty trust

Alas! 'tis hard for beauty to be just.

Those sovereign charms with strictest care employ;

Nor give the generous painthe worthless joy:

With his own form acquaint the forward fool

Shewn in the faithful glass of ridicule;

Teach mimick censure her own faults to find

No more let coquettes to themselves be blind

So shall Belinda's charms improve mankind. -

* Mr. Hector informs me that this was made almost impromptuin his presence.-


WHEN first the peasantlong inclin'd to roam

Forsakes his rural sports and peaceful home

Pleas'd with the scene the smiling ocean yields

He scorns the verdant meads and flow'ry fields;

Then dances jocund o'er the watery way

While the breeze whispersand the streamers play:

Unbounded prospects in his bosom roll

And future millions lift his rising soul;

In blissful dreams he digs the golden mine

And raptur'd sees the new-found ruby shine.

Joys insincere! thick clouds invade the skies

Loud roar the billowshigh the waves arise;

Sick'ning with fearhe longs to view the shore

And vows to trust the faithless deep no more.

So the young Authourpanting after fame

And the long honours of a lasting name

Entrusts his happiness to human kind

More falsemore cruelthan the seas or wind.

"Toil ondull croudin extacies he cries

For wealth or titleperishable prize;

While I those transitory blessings scorn

Secure of praise from ages yet unborn."

This thought once form'dall council comes too late

He flies to pressand hurries on his fate;

Swiftly he sees the imagin'd laurels spread

And feels the unfading wreath surround his head.

Warn'd by another's fatevain youth be wise

Those dreams were Settle's onceand Ogilby's:

The pamphlet spreadsincessant hisses rise

To some retreatthe baffled writer flies;

Where no sour criticks snarlno sneers molest

Safe from the tart lampoonand stinging jest;

There begs of heaven a less distinguish'd lot

Glad to be hidand proud to be forgot. -

* This he inserted with many alterationsin the Gentleman's

Magazine1743. [He howeverdid not add his name. See Gent. Mag. vol. xiiip. 378.- M.] -

EPILOGUEintended to have been spoken by a LADY

who was to personate the Ghost of HERMIONE * -

YE blooming trainwho give despair or joy

Bless with a smileor with a frown destroy;

In whose fair cheeks destructive Cupids wait

And with unerring shafts distribute fate;

Whose snowy breastswhose animated eyes

Each youth admiresthough each admirer dies;

Whilst you deride their pangs in barb'rous play

Unpitying see them weepand hear them pray

And unrelenting sport ten thousand lives away;

For youye fairI quit the gloomy plains;

Where sable night in all her horrour reigns;

No fragrant bowersno delightful glades

Receive the unhappy ghosts of scornful maids.

For kindfor tender nymphs the myrtle blooms

And weaves her bending boughs in pleasing glooms:

Perennial roses deck each purple vale

And scents ambrosial breathe in every gale:

Far hence are banish'd vapoursspleenand tears

Teascandalivory teethand languid airs:

No pugnor favourite Cupid there enjoys

The balmy kissfor which poor Thyrsis dies;

Form'd to delightthey use no foreign arms

Nor torturing whalebones pinch them into charms;

No conscious blushes there their cheeks inflame

For those who feel no guilt can know no shame;

Unfaded still their former charms they shew

Around them pleasures waitand joys for ever new.

But cruel virgins meet severer fates;

Expell'd and exil'd from the blissful seats

To dismal realmsand regions void of peace

Where furies ever howland serpents hiss.

O'er the sad plains perpetual tempests sigh

And pois'nous vapoursblack'ning all the sky

With living hue the fairest face o'ercast

And every beauty withers at the blast:

Where'er they fly their lovers' ghosts pursue

Inflicting all those ills which once they knew;


Vex ev'ry eyeand every bosom tear;

Their foul deformities by all descry'd

No maid to flatterand no paint to hide.

Then meltye fairwhile crouds around you sigh

Nor let disdain sit lowring in your eye;

With pity soften every awful grace

And beauty smile auspicious in each face;

To ease their pains exert your milder power

So shall you guiltless reignand all mankind adore. -

* Some young ladies at Lichfield having proposed to act "The DistressedMother" Johnson wrote thisand gave it to Mr. Hector to convey itprivately to them. -

The two years which he spent at homeafter his return from Stourbridgehepassed in what he thought idlenessand was scolded by his father for his wantof steady application. He had no settled plan of lifenor looked forward atallbut merely lived from day to day. Yet he read a great deal in a desultorymannerwithout any scheme of studyas chance threw books in his waysandinclination directed him through them. He used to mention one curious instanceof his casual readingwhen but a boy. Having imagined that his brother had bidsome apples behind a large folio upon an upper shelf in his father's shopheclimbed up to search for them. There were no apples; but the large folio provedto be Petrarchwhom he had seen mentionedin some prefaceas one of therestorers of learning. His curiosity having been thus excitedhe sat down withavidityand read a great part of the book. What he read during these two years;he told mewas not works of mere amusement"not voyages and travelsbutall literatureSirall ancient writersall manly: though but little Greekonly some of Anacreon and Hesiod: but in this irregular manner (added he) I hadlooked into a great many bookswhich were not commonly known at theUniversitieswhere they seldom read any books but what are put into their handsby their tutors; so that when I came to OxfordDr. Adamsnow master ofPembroke Collegetold meI was the best qualified for the University that hehad ever known come there."

In estimating the progress of his mind during these two yearsas well as infuture periods of his lifewe must not regard his own hasty confession ofidleness; for we seewhen he explains himselfthat he was acquiring variousstores; andindeed he himself concluded the accountwith saying"I wouldnot have you think I was doing nothing then." He mightperhapshavestudied more assiduously; but it may be doubtedwhether such a mind as his wasnot more enriched by roaming at large in the fields of literaturethan if ithad been confined to any single spot. The analogy between body and mind is verygeneraland the parallel will hold as to their foodas well as any otherparticular. The flesh of animals who feed excursivelyis allowed to have ahigher flavour than that of those who are cooped up. May there not be the samedifference between men who read as their taste promptsand men who are confinedin cells and colleges to stated tasks?

1728: AETAT. 19 -

That a man in Mr. Michael Johnson's circumstances should think of sending hisson to the expensive University of Oxfordat his own chargeseems veryimprobable. The subject was too delicate to question Johnson upon; but I havebeen assured by Dr. Taylorthat the scheme never would have taken placehadnot a gentleman of Shropshireone of his school-fellowsspontaneouslyundertaken to support him at Oxfordin the character of his companion: thoughin facthe never received any assistance whatever from that gentleman.

Hehoweverwent to Oxfordand was entered a Commoner of Pembroke Collegeon the 31st of October1728being then in his nineteenth year.

The Reverend Dr. Adamswho afterwards presided over Pembroke College withuniversal esteemtold me he was presentand gave me some account of whatpassed on the night of Johnson's arrival at Oxford. On that eveninghis fatherwho had anxiously accompanied himfound means to have him introduced to Mr.Jordenwho was to be his tutor. His being put under any tutorreminds us ofwhat Wood says of Robert Burtonauthour of the "Anatomy ofMelancholy" when elected student of Christ Church; "for form's sakethough he wanted not a tutorhe was put under the tuition of Dr. John Bancroftafterwards Bishop of Oxon." * -


* Athen. Oxon. edit. 1721i. 627. -

His father seemed very full of the merits of his sonand told the company hewas a good scholarand a poetand wrote Latin verses. His figure and mannerappeared strange to them; but he behaved modestlyand sat silenttill uponsomething which occurred in the course of conversationhe suddenly struck inand quoted Macrobius; and thus he gave the first impression of that moreextensive reading in which he had indulged himself.

His tutorMr. Jordenfellow of Pembrokewas notit seemsa man of suchabilities as we should conceive requisite for the instructor of Samuel Johnsonwho gave me the following account of him. "He was a very worthy manbut aheavy manand I did not profit much by his instructions. IndeedI did notattend him much. The first day after I came to collegeI waited upon himandthen staid away four. On the sixthMr. Jorden asked me why I had not attended.I answeredI had been sliding in Christ-Church meadow. And this I said with asmuch nonchalance as I am now * talking to you. I had no notion that I was wrongor irreverent to my tutor." BOSWELL. "ThatSirwas great fortitudeof mind." JOHNSON. "NoSirstark insensibility." *(2) -

* Oxford20th March 1776.

*(2) It ought to be rememberedthat Dr. Johnson was aptin his literary aswell as moral exercisesto overcharge his defects. Dr. Adams informed methathe attended his tutor's lecturesand also the lectures in the College Hallvery regularly. -

The fifth of November was at that time kept with great solemnity at PembrokeCollegeand exercises upon the subject of the day were required. Johnsonneglected to perform hiswhich is much to be regretted; for his vivacity ofimaginationand force of languagewould probably have produced somethingsublime upon the gunpowder plot. To apologise for his neglecthe gave in ashort copy of versesintitled Somniumcontaining a common thought; "thatthe Muse had come to him in his sleepand whisperedthat it did not become himto write on such subjects as politicks; he should confine himself to humblerthemes:" but the versification was truly Virgilian.

He had a love and respect for Jordennot for his literaturebut for hisworth. "Whenever (said he) a young man becomes Jorden's pupilhe becomeshis son."

Having given such a specimen of his poetical powershe was asked by Mr.Jordento translate Pope's Messiah into Latin verseas a Christmas exercise.He performed it with uncommon rapidityand in so masterly a mannerthat heobtained great applause from itwhich ever after kept him high in theestimation of his Collegeandindeedof all the University.

It is saidthat Mr. Pope expressed himself concerning it in terms of strongapprobation. Dr. Taylor told methat it was first printed for old Mr. Johnsonwithout the knowledge of his sonwho was very angry when he heard of it. AMiscellany of Poems collected by a person of the name of Husbandswas publishedat Oxford in 1731. In that Miscellany Johnson's translation of the Messiahappearedwith this modest motto from Scaliger's Poeticks"Ex alienoingenio Poetaex suo tantum versificator."

I am not ignorant that critical objections have been made to this and otherspecimens of Johnson's Latin Poetry. I acknowledge myself not competent todecide on a question of such extreme nicety. But I am satisfied with the justand discriminative eulogy pronounced upon it by my friend Mr. Courtenay. -

"And with like ease his vivid lines assume

The garb and dignity of ancient Rome.-

Let college verse-men trite conceits express

Trick'd out in splendid shreds of Virgil's dress.

From playful Ovid cull the tinsel phrase

And vapid notions hitch in pilfer'd lays;

Then with mosaick art the piece combine

And boast the glitter of each dulcet line:

Johnson adventur'd boldly to transfuse

His vigorous sense into the Latin muse;

Aspir'd to shine by unreflected light

And with a Roman's ardour think and write.

He felt the tuneful Nine his breast inspire

Andlike a masterwak'd the soothing lyre:

Horatian strains a grateful heart proclaim

While Sky's wild rocks resound his Thralia's name.-

Hesperia's plantin some less skilful hands.

To bloom a whilefactitious heat demands:

Though glowing Maro a faint warmth supplies

The sickly blossom in the hot-house dies:

By Johnson's genial cultureartand toil

Its root strikes deepand owns the fost'ring soil;

Imbibes our sun through all its swelling veins

And grows a native of Britannia's plains." * -

* Poetical Review of the Literary and Moral Character of Dr. Johnsonby JohnCourtenayEsq. M.P.

1729: AETAT. 20 -

The "morbid melancholy" which was lurking in his constitutionandto which we may ascribe those particularitiesand that aversion to regularlifewhichat a very early periodmarked his charactergathered suchstrength in his twentieth yearas to afflict him in a dreadful manner. While hewas at Lichfieldin the college vacation of the year 1729he felt himselfoverwhelmed with an horrible hypochondriawith perpetual irritationfretfulnessand impatience; and with a dejectiongloomand despairwhichmade existence misery. From this dismal malady he never afterwards was perfectlyrelieved; and all his laboursand all his enjoymentswere but temporaryinterruptions of its baleful influence. How wonderfulhow unsearchable are theways of God! Johnsonwho was blest with all the powers of genius andunderstanding in a degree far above the ordinary state of human naturewas atthe same time visited with a disorder so afflictivethat they who know it bydire experiencewill not envy his exalted endowments. That it wasin somedegreeoccasioned by a defect in his nervous systemthat inexplicable part ofour frameappears highly probable. He told Mr. Paradise that he was sometimesso languid and inefficientthat he could not distinguish the hour upon thetown-clock.

Johnsonupon the first violent attack of this disorderstrove to overcomeit by forcible exertions. He frequently walked to Birmingham and back againandtried many other expedientsbut all in vain. His expression concerning it to mewas "I did not then know how to manage it." His distress became sointolerablethat he applied to Dr. Swinfenphysician in Lichfieldhisgod-fatherand put into his hands a state of his casewritten in Latin. Dr.Swinfen was so much struck with the extraordinary acutenessresearchandeloquence of this paperthat in his zeal for his godson he shewed it to severalpeople. His daughterMrs. Desmoulinswho was many years humanely supported inDr. Johnson's house in Londontold methat upon his discovering that Dr.Swinfen had communicated his casehe was so much offendedthat he was neverafterwards fully reconciled to him. He indeed had good reason to be offended;for though Dr. Swinfen's motive was goodhe inconsiderately betrayed a matterdeeply interesting and of great delicacywhich had been entrusted to him inconfidence: and exposed a complaint of his young friend and patientwhichinthe superficial opinion of the generality of mankindis attended with contemptand disgrace.

But let not little men triumph upon knowing that Johnson was anHYPOCHONDRIACKwas subject to what the learnedphilosophicaland pious Dr.Cheyne has so well treated under the title of "The English Malady."Though he suffered severely from ithe was not therefore degraded. The powersof his great mind might be troubledand their full exercise suspended at times;but the mind itself was ever entire. As a proof of thisit is only necessary toconsiderthatwhen he was at the very worsthe composed that state of his owncasewhich shewed an uncommon vigournot only of fancy and tastebut ofjudgement. I am aware that he himself was too ready to call such a complaint bythe name of madness; in conformity with which notionhe has traced itsgradationswith exquisite nicetyin one of the chapters of his RASSELAS. Butthere is surely a clear distinction between a disorder which affects only theimagination and spiritswhile the judgement is soundand a disorder by whichthe judgement itself is impaired. The distinction was made to me by the lateProfessor Gaubius of Leydenphysician to the Prince of Orangein aconversation which I had with him several years agoand he explained it thus:"If (said he) a man tells me that he is grievously disturbedfor that heimagines he sees a ruffian coming against him with a drawn swordthough at thesame time he is conscious it is a delusionI pronounce him to have a disorderedimagination; but if a man tells me that he sees thisand in consternation callsto me to look at itI pronounce him to be mad. "

It is a common effect of low spirits or melancholyto make those who areafflicted with it imagine that they are actually suffering those evils whichhappen to be most strongly presented to their minds. Some have fanciedthemselves to be deprived of the use of their limbssome to labour under acutediseasesothers to be in extreme poverty; whenin truththere was not theleast reality in any of the suppositions; so that when the vapours weredispelledthey were convinced of the delusion. To Johnsonwhose supremeenjoyment was the exercise of his reasonthe disturbance or obscuration of thatfaculty was the evil most to be dreaded. Insanitythereforewas the object ofhis most dismal apprehension; and he fancied himself seized by itorapproaching to itat the very time when he was giving proofs of a more thanordinary soundness and vigour of judgement. That his own diseased imaginationshould have so far deceived himis strange; but it is stranger still that someof his friends should have given credit to his groundless opinionwhen they hadsuch undoubted proofs that it was totally fallacious; though it is by no meanssurprising that those who wish to depreciate himshouldsince his deathhavelaid hold of this circumstanceand insisted upon it with very unfairaggravation.

Amidst the oppression and distraction of a disease which very few have feltin its full extentbut many have experienced in a slighter degreeJohnsoninhis writingsand in his conversationnever failed to display all the varietiesof intellectual excellence. In his march through this world to a betterhismind still appeared grand and brilliantand impressed all around him with thetruth of Virgil's noble sentiment- -

"Igneus est ollis vigor et caelestis origo." -

The history of his mind as to religion is an important article. I havementioned the early impressions made upon his tender imagination by his motherwho continued her pious cares with assiduitybutin his opinionnot withjudgement. "Sunday (said he) was a heavy day to me when I was a boy. Mymother confined me on that dayand made me read 'The Whole Duty of Man' from agreat part of which I could derive no instruction. Whenfor instanceI hadread the chapter on theftwhich from my infancy I had been taught was wrongIwas no more convinced that theft was wrong than before; so there was noaccession of knowledge. A boy should be introduced to such books by having hisattention directed to the arrangementto the styleand other excellencies ofcomposition; that the mind being thus engaged by an amusing variety of objectsmay not grow weary."

He communicated to me the following particulars upon the subject of hisreligious progress. "I fell into an inattention to religionor anindifference about itin my ninth year. The church at Lichfieldin which wehad a seatwanted reparationso I was to go and find a seat in other churches;and having bad eyesand being awkward about thisI used to go and read in thefields on Sunday. This habit continued till my fourteenth year; and still I finda great reluctance to go to church. I then became a sort of lax talker againstreligionfor I did not much think against it; and this lasted till I went toOxfordwhere it would not be suffered. When at OxfordI took up Law's 'SeriousCall to a Holy Life' expecting to find it a dull book(as such books generallyare) and perhaps to laugh at it. But I found Law quite an overmatch for me; andthis was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religionafter Ibecame capable of rational enquiry." * From this time forward religion wasthe predominant object of his thoughts; thoughwith the just sentiments of aconscientious christianhe lamented that his practice of its duties fell farshort of what it ought to be. -

* Mrs. Piozzi has given a strange fantastical account of the original of Dr.Johnson's belief in our most holy religion. "At the age of ten years hismind was disturbed by scruples of infidelitywhich preyed upon his spiritsandmade him very uneasythe more soas he revealed his uneasiness to nonebeingnaturally (as he said) of a sullen temperand reserved disposition. Hesearchedhoweverdiligentlybut fruitlesslyfor evidences of the truth ofrevelation; andat lengthrecollecting a book he had once seen [I suppose atfive years old ] in his father's shopintitled De veritate Religionis&c.he began to think himself highly culpable for neglecting such a means ofinformationand took himself severely to task for this sinadding many acts ofvoluntaryandto othersunknown penance. The first opportunity which offeredof coursehe seized the book with avidity; buton examinationnot findinghimself scholar enough to peruse its contentsset his heart at rest; and notthinking to enquire whether there were any English books written on the subjectfollowed his usual amusements and considered his conscience as lightened of acrime. He redoubled his diligence to learn the language that contained theinformation he most wished for; but from the pain which guilt [namely havingomitted to read what he did not understand] had given himhe now began todeduce the soul's immortality; [a sensation of pain in this world being anunquestionable proof of existence in another] which was the point that belieffirst stopped at; and from that moment resolving to be a Christianbecame oneof the most zealous and pious ones our nation ever produced." Anecdotesp.


This is one of the numerous misrepresentations of this lively ladywhich itis worth while to correct; for if credit should be given to such a childishirrationaland ridiculous statement of the foundation of Dr. Johnson's faith inChristianityhow little credit would be due to it. Mrs. Piozzi seems to wishthat the world should think Dr. Johnson also under the influence of that easylogickStet pro ratione voluntas. -

This instance of a mind such as that of Johnson being first disposedby anunexpected incidentto think with anxiety of the momentous concerns ofeternityand of "what he should do to be saved" may for ever beproduced in opposition to the superficial and sometimes profane contempt thathas been thrown upon those occasional impressions which it is certain manychristians have experienced; though it must be acknowledged that weak mindsfrom an erroneous supposition that no man is in a state of grace who has notfelt a particular conversionhavein some casesbrought a degree of ridiculeupon them; a ridiculeof which it is inconsiderate or unfair to make a generalapplication.

How seriously Johnson was impressed with a sense of religioneven in thevigour of his youthappears from the following passage in his minutes kept byway of diary: Sept. 71736. I have this day entered upon my 28th year."Mayest thouO Godenable mefor JESUS CHRIST'S saketo spend this insuch a mannerthat I may receive comfort from it at the hour of deathand inthe day of judgment! Amen."

The particular course of his reading while at Oxfordand during the time ofvacation which he passed at homecannot be traced. Enough has been said of hisirregular mode of study. He told methat from his earliest years he loved toread poetrybut hardly ever read any poem to an end; that he read Shakspeare ata period so earlythat the speech of the Ghost in Hamlet terrified him when hewas alone; that Horace's Odes were the compositions in which he took mostdelightand it was long before he liked his Epistles and Satires. He told mewhat he read solidly at Oxford was Greek; not the Grecian historiansbut Homerand Euripidesand now and then a little Epigram; that the study of which he wasthe most fond was Metaphysicksbut he had not read mucheven in that way. Ialways thought that he did himself injustice in his account of what he had readand that he must have been speaking with reference to the vast portion of studywhich is possibleand to which a few scholars in the whole history ofliterature have attained; for when I once asked him whether a person whose nameI have now forgottenstudied hardhe answered "NoSir. I do not believehe studied hard. I never knew a man who studied hard. I concludeindeedfromthe effectsthat some men have studied hardas Bentley and Clarke."Trying him by that criterion upon which he formed his judgement of otherswemay be absolutely certainboth from his writings and his conversationthat hisreading was very extensive. Dr. Adam Smiththan whom few were better judges onthis subjectonce observed to methat "Johnson knew more books than anyman alive." He had a peculiar facility in seizing at once what was valuablein any bookwithout submitting to the labour of perusing it from beginning toend. He hadfrom the irritability of his constitutionat all timesanimpatience and hurry when he either read or wrote. A certain apprehensionarising from noveltymade him write his first exercise at College twice over;but he never took that trouble with any other composition: and we shall see thathis most excellent works were struck off at a heatwith rapid exertion. * -

* [He told Dr. Burneythat he never wrote any of his works that wereprintedtwice over. Dr. Burney's wonder at seeing several pages of his"Lives of the Poets" in Manuscriptwith scarce a blot or erasuredrew this observation from him.- M.] -

Yet he appearsfrom his early notes or memorandums in my possessionto haveat various times attemptedor at least planneda methodical course of studyaccording to computationof which he was all his life fondas it fixed hisattention steadily upon something withoutand prevented his mind from preyingupon itself. Thus I find in his handwriting the number of lines in each of twoof Euripides's Tragediesof the Georgicks of Virgilof the first six books ofthe Aeneidof Horace's Art of Poetryof three of the books of Ovid'sMetamorphosesof some parts of Theocritusand of the tenth Satire of Juvenal;and a tableshowing at the rate of various numbers a day(I suppose verses tobe read) what would bein each casethe total amount in a weekmonthandyear.

No man had a more ardent love of literatureor a higher respect for itthanJohnson. His apartment in Pembroke College was that upon the second floor overthe gateway. The enthusiast of learning will ever contemplate it withveneration. One daywhile he was sitting in it quite aloneDr. Pantingthenmaster of the Collegewhom he called "a fine Jacobite fellow"overheard him uttering this soliloquy in his strong emphatick voice: "WellI have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I'll go and visitthe Universities abroad. I'll go to France and Italy. I'll go to Padua.- AndI'll mind my business. For an Athenian blockhead is the worst of allblockheads." * -

* I had this anecdote from Dr. Adamsand Dr. Johnson confirmed it. Bramstonin his "Man of Taste" has the same thought:

"Sureof all blockheadsscholars are the worst."

[Johnson's meaning howeveristhat a scholar who is a blockheadmust bethe worst of all blockheadsbecause he is without excuse. But Bramstonin theassumed character of an ignorant coxcombmaintainsthat all scholars areblockheadson account of their scholarship.- J. BOSWELL.] -

Dr. Adams told me that Johnsonwhile he was at Pembroke College"wascaressed and loved by all about himwas a gay and frolicksome fellowandpassed there the happiest part of his life." But this is a striking proofof the fallacy of appearancesand how little any of us know of the realinternal state even of those whom we see most frequently; for the truth isthathe was then depressed by povertyand irritated by disease. When I mentioned tohim this account as given me by Dr. Adamshe said"AhSirI was mad andviolent. It was bitterness which they mistook for frolick. I was miserably poorand I thought to fight my way by my literature and my wit; so I disregarded allpower and all authority."

The Bishop of Dromore observes in a letter to me"The pleasure he tookin vexing the tutors and fellows has been often mentioned. But I have heard himsaywhat ought to be recorded to the honour of the present venerable master ofthat Collegethe Reverend William AdamsD.D.who was then very youngand oneof the junior fellows; that the mild but judicious expostulations of this worthymanwhose virtue awed himand whose learning he reveredmade him reallyashamed of himself'though I fear (said he) I was too proud to own it.'

"I have heard from some of his contemporaries that he was generally seenlounging at the College gatewith a circle of young

students round himwhom he was entertaining with witand keeping from theirstudiesif not spiriting them up to rebellion against the College disciplinewhich in his maturer years he so much extolled."

He very early began to attempt keeping notes or memorandumsby way of adiary of his life. I findin a parcel of loose leavesthe following spiritedresolution to contend against his natural indolence: Oct. 1729. Desidiaevaledixi; syrenis istius cantibus surdam posthac aurem obversurus. - I bidfarewell to Slothbeing resolved henceforth not to listen to her syrenstrains." I have also in my possession a few leaves of another Libellusorlittle bookentitled ANNALESin which some of the early particulars of hishistory are registered in Latin.

I do not find that he formed any close intimacies with his fellow-collegians.But Dr. Adams told methat he contracted a love and regard for PembrokeCollegewhich he retained to the last. A short time before his death he sent tothat Collegea present of all his worksto be deposited in their library; andhe had thoughts of leaving to it his house at Lichfield; but his friends whowere about him very properly dissuaded him from itand he bequeathed it to somepoor relations. He took a pleasure in boasting of the many eminent men who hadbeen educated at Pembroke. In this list are found the names of Mr. Hawkins thePoetry ProfessorMr. ShenstoneSir William Blackstoneand others; * notforgetting the celebrated popular preacherMr. George Whitefieldof whomthough Dr. Johnson did not think very highlyit must be acknowledged that hiseloquence was powerfulhis views pious and charitablehis assiduity almostincredible; andthat since his deaththe integrity of his character has beenfully vindicated. Being himself a poetJohnson was peculiarly happy inmentioning how many of the sons of Pembroke were poets; addingwith a smile ofsportive triumph"Sirwe are a nest of singing birds." -

* See Nash's History of WorcestershireVol. Ip. 529. -

He was nothoweverblind to what he thought the defects of his own college:and I havefrom the information of Dr. Taylora very strong instance of thatrigid honesty which he ever inflexibly preserved. Taylor had obtained hisfather's consent to be entered of Pembrokethat he might be with hisschoolfellow Johnsonwith whomthough some years older than himselfhe wasvery intimate. This would have been a great comfort to Johnson. But he fairlytold Taylor that he could notin consciencesuffer him to enter where he knewhe could not have an able tutor. He then made enquiry all round the Universityand having found that Mr. Batemanof Christ-Churchwas the tutor of highestreputationTaylor was entered of that College. Mr. Bateman's lectures were soexcellentthat Johnson used to come and get them at second-hand from Taylortill his poverty being so extremethat his shoes were worn outand his feetappeared through themhe saw that this humiliating circumstance was perceivedby the Christ-Church menand he came no more. He was too proud to accept ofmoneyand somebody having set a pair of new shoes at his doorhe threw themaway with indignation. How must we feel when we read such an anecdote of SamuelJohnson!

His spirited refusal of an eleemosynary supply of shoesaroseno doubtfrom a proper pride. Butconsidering his ascetick disposition at timesasacknowledged by himself in his Meditationsand the exaggeration with which somehave treated the peculiarities of his characterI should not wonder to hear itascribed to a principle of superstitious mortification; as we are told byTursellinusin his Life of St. Ignatius Loyolathat this intrepid founder ofthe order of Jesuitswhen he arrived at Goaafter having made a severepilgrimage through the eastern desartspersisted in wearing his miserableshattered shoesand when new ones were offered himrejected them as unsuitableindulgence.

1731: AETAT. 22 -

The res angusta domi prevented him from having the advantage of a completeacademical education. The friend to whom he had trusted for support had deceivedhim. His debts in Collegethough not greatwere increasing; and his scantyremittances from Lichfieldwhich had all along been made with great difficultycould be supplied no longerhis father having fallen into a state ofinsolvency. Compelledthereforeby irresistible necessityhe left the Collegein autumn1731without a degreehaving been a member of it little more thanthree years.

Dr. Adamsthe worthy and respectable master of Pembroke Collegehasgenerally had the reputation of being Johnson's tutor. The facthoweveristhat in 1731Mr. Jorden quitted the Collegeand his pupils were transferred toDr. Adams; so that had Johnson returnedDr. Adams would have been his tutor. Itis to be wishedthat this connection had taken place. His equal tempermilddispositionand politeness of mannermight have insensibly softened theharshness of Johnsonand infused into him those more delicate charitiesthosepetites moralesin whichit must be confessedour great moralist was moredeficient than his best friends could fully justify. Dr. Adams paid Johnson thishigh compliment. He said to me at Oxfordin 1776"I was his nominaltutor; but he was above my mark." When I repeated it to Johnsonhis eyesflashed with grateful satisfactionand he exclaimed"That was liberal andnoble."

And now (I had almost said poor ) Samuel Johnson returned to his native citydestituteand not knowing how he should gain even a decent livelihood. Hisfather's misfortunes in trade rendered him unable to support his son; and forsome time there appeared no means by which he could maintain himself. In theDecember of this year his father died.

The state of poverty in which he diedappears from a note in one ofJohnson's little diaries of the following yearwhich strongly displays hisspirit and virtuous dignity of mind. "1732Julii 15. Undecim aureosdeposuiquo die quicquid ante matris funus (quod serum sit precor) de paternisbonis sperari licetviginti scilicet librasaccepi. Usque adeo mihi fortunafingenda est. Intereane paupertate vires animi languescantnec in flagitiaegestas abigatcavendum. - I layed by eleven guineas on this daywhen Ireceived twenty poundsbeing all that I have reason to hope for out of myfather's effectsprevious to the death of my mother; an event which I pray GODmay be very remote. I now therefore see that I must make my own fortune.Meanwhilelet me take care that the powers of my mind be not debilitated bypovertyand that indigence do not force me into any criminal act."

1732: AETAT. 23 -

Johnson was so far fortunatethat the respectable character of his parentsand his own merithadfrom his earliest yearssecured him a kind reception inthe best families at Lichfield. Among these I can mention Mr. HowardDr.SwinfenMr. SimpsonMr. LevettCaptain Garrickfather of the great ornamentof the British stage; but above allMr. Gilbert Walmsley* Registrar of theEcclesiastical Court of Lichfieldwhose characterlong after his

deceaseDr. Johnson hasin his life of Edmund Smiththus drawn in theglowing colours of gratitude: -

* Mr. Warton informs me"that this early friend of Johnson was entereda Commoner of Trinity CollegeOxfordaged 17in 1698; and is the authour ofmany Latin verse translations in the Gentleman's Magazine. One of them is atranslation of

"My timeO ye Museswas happily spent" &c.

He died August 31751and a monument to his memory has been erected in thecathedral of Lichfieldwith an inscription written by Mr. Sewardone of thePrebendaries.

[His translation of "My timeO ye Muses" &c. may be found inthe Gentleman's Magazine for 1745vol. XV. p. 102. It is there subscribed withhis name.- M.] -

"Of Gilbert Walmsleythus presented to my mindlet me indulge myselfin the remembrance. I knew him very early; he was one of the first friends thatliterature procured meand I hopethat at leastmy gratitude made me worthyof his notice.

"He was of an advanced ageand I was only not a boyyet he neverreceived my notions with contempt. He was a whigwith all the virulence andmalevolence of his party; yet difference of opinion did not keep us apart. Ihonoured him and he endured me.

"He had mingled with the gay world without exemption from its vices orits follies; but had never neglected the cultivation of his mind. His belief ofrevelation was unshaken; his learning preserved his principles; he grew firstregularand then pious.

"His studies had been so variousthat I am not able to name a man ofequal knowledge. His acquaintance with books was greatand what he did notimmediately knowhe couldat leasttell where to find. Such was his amplitudeof learningand such his copiousness of communicationthat it may be doubtedwhether a day now passesin which I have not some advantage from hisfriendship.

"At this man's table I enjoyed many cheerful and instructive hourswithcompanionssuch as are not often found- with one who has lengthenedand onewho has gladdened life; with Dr. Jameswhose skill in physick will be longremembered; and with David Garrickwhom I hoped to have gratified with thischaracter of our common friend. But what are the hopes of man! I am disappointedby that stroke of deathwhich has eclipsed the gaiety of nationsandimpoverished the publick stock of harmless pleasure."

In these families he passed much time in his early years. In most of themhewas in the company of ladiesparticularly at Mr. Walmsley'swhose wife andsisters-in-lawof the name of Astonand daughters of a Baronetwereremarkable for good breeding; so that the notion which has been industriouslycirculated and believedthat he never was in good company till late in lifeand consequently had been confirmed in coarse and ferocious manners by longhabitsis wholly without foundation. Some of the ladies have assured metheyrecollected him well when a young manas distinguished for his complaisance.

And that his politeness was not merely occasional and temporaryor confinedto the circles of Lichfieldis ascertained by the testimony of a ladywhoina paper with which I have been favoured by a daughter of his intimate friend andphysicianDr. Lawrencethus describes Dr. Johnson some years afterwards:

"As the particulars of the former part of Dr. Johnson's life do not seemto be very accurately knowna lady hopes that the following information may notbe unacceptable.

"She remembers Dr. Johnson on a visit to Dr. Taylorat Ashbournsometime between the end of the year 37and the middle of the year 40; she ratherthinks it to have been after he and his wife were removed to London. During hisstay at Ashbournhe made frequent visits to Mr. Meynellat Bradleywhere hiscompany was much desired by the ladies of the familywho wereperhapsinpoint of elegance and accomplishmentsinferiour to few of those with whom hewas afterwards acquainted. Mr. Meynell's eldest daughter was afterwards marriedto Mr. Fitzherbertfather to Mr. Alleyne Fitzherbertlately minister to thecourt of Russia. Of herDr. Johnson saidin Dr. Lawrence's studythat she hadthe best understanding he ever met with in any human being. At Mr. Meynell's healso commenced that friendship with Mrs. Hill Boothbysister to the present SirBrook Boothbywhich continued till her death. The young woman whom he used tocall Molly Aston* was sister to Sir Thomas Astonand daughter to a Baronet;she was also sister to the wife of his friendMr. Gilbert Walmsley. *(2)Besides his intimacy with the above-mentioned personswho were surely people ofrank and educationwhile he was yet at Lichfield he used to be frequently atthe house of Dr. Swinfena gentleman of very ancient family in Staffordshirefrom whichafter the death of his elder brotherhe inherited a good estate. Hewasbesidesa physician of very extensive practice; but for want of dueattention to the management of his domestick concernsleft a very large familyin indigence. One of his daughtersMrs. Desmoulinsafterwards found an asylumin the house of her old friendwhose doors were always open to the unfortunateand who well observed the precept of the Gospelfor he 'was kind to theunthankful and to the evil.'" -

* The words of Sir John Hawkinsp. 316.

*(2) [Sir Thomas AstonBart.who died in January 1724-5left one sonnamed Thomas alsoand eight daughters. Of the daughtersCatharine marriedJohnson's friendthe Hon. Henry Hervey; MargaretGilbert Walmsley. Another ofthese ladies married the Rev. Mr. Gastrell. Maryor Molly Astonas she wasusually calledbecame the wife of Captain Brodie of the Navy. Another sisterwho was unmarriedwas living at Lichfield in 1776.- M.] -

In the forlorn state of his circumstanceshe accepted of an offer to beemployed as usher in the school of Market-Bosworthin Leicestershireto whichit appears from one of his little fragments of a diarythat he went on footonthe 16th of July.- "Julii 16. Bosvortiam pedes petii." But it is nottrueas has been erroneously relatedthat he was assistant to the famousAnthony Blackwallwhose merit has been honoured by the testimony of BishopHurd* who was his scholar; for Mr. Blackwall died on the 8th of April1730*(2) more than a year before Johnson left the University. -

* [There is here (as Mr. James Boswell observes to me) a slight inaccuracy.Bishop Hurdin the Epistle Dedicatory prefixed to his commentary on Horace'sArt of Poetry&c. does not praise Blackwallbut the Rev. Mr. Budworthhead-master of the grammar school at Brewood in Staffordshirewho had himselfbeen bred under Blackwall. From the information of Mr. John NicholsJohnson issaid to have applied in 1763 to Mr. Budworthto be received by him as anassistant in his school in Staffordshire.- M.]

*(2) See Gent. Mag. Dec. 1784p. 957. -

This employment was very irksome to him in every respectand he complainedgrievously of it in his letters to his friendMr. Hectorwho was now settledas a surgeon at Birmingham. The letters are lost; but Mr. Hector recollects hiswriting "that the poet had described the dull sameness of his existence inthese words'Vitam continet una dies' (one day contains the whole of my life);that it was unvaried as the note of the cuckow; and that he did not know whetherit was more disagreeable for him to teachor the boys to learnthe grammarrules." His general aversion to this painful drudgery was greatly enhancedby a disagreement between him and Sir Wolstan Dixiethe patron of the schoolin whose houseI have been toldhe officiated as a kind of domestick chaplainso farat leastas to say grace at tablebut was treated with what herepresented as intolerable harshness; andafter suffering for a few months suchcomplicated misery* he relinquished a situation which all his life afterwardshe recollected with the strongest aversionand even a degree of horror. But itis probable that at this periodwhatever uneasiness he may have enduredhelaid the foundation of much future eminence by application to his studies. -

* [It appears from a letter of Johnson's to a friendwhich I have readdated LichfieldJuly 271732that he had left Sir Wolstan Dixie's houserecently before that letter was written. He then had hopes of succeeding eitheras master or usherin the school of Ashbourne.- M.]

1733: AETAT. 24 -

Being now again totally unoccupiedhe was invited by Mr. Hector to pass sometime with him at Birminghamas his guestat the house of Mr. Warrenwith whomMr. Hector lodged and boarded. Mr. Warren was the first established booksellerin Birminghamand was very attentive to Johnsonwho he soon found could be ofmuch service to him in his tradeby his knowledge of literature; and he evenobtained the assistance of his pen in furnishing some numbers of a periodicalEssay printed in the newspaperof which Warren was the proprietor. After verydiligent enquiryI have not been able to recover those early specimens of thatparticular mode of writing by which Johnson afterwards so greatly distinguishedhimself.

He continued to live as Mr. Hector's guest for about six monthsand thenhired lodgings in another part of the town* finding himself as well situatedat Birmingham as he supposed he could be any wherewhile he had no settled planof lifeand very scanty means of subsistence. He made some valuableacquaintances thereamongst whom were Mr. Portera mercerwhose widow heafterwards marriedand Mr. Taylorwho by his ingenuity in mechanicalinventionsand his success in tradeacquired an immense fortune. But thecomfort of being near Mr. Hectorhis old school-fellow and intimate friendwasJohnson's chief inducement to continue here. -

* [In June 1733Sir John Hawkins statesfrom one of Johnson's diariesthathe lodged in Birmingham at the house of a person named Jarvisprobably arelation of Mrs. Porterwhom he afterwards married.- M.] -

In what manner he employed his pen at this periodor whether he derived fromit any pecuniary advantageI have not been able to ascertain. He probably got alittle money from Mr. Warren; and we are certainthat he executed here onepiece of literary labourof which Mr. Hector has favoured me with a minuteaccount. Having mentioned that he had read at Pembroke College a Voyage toAbyssiniaby Loboa Portuguese Jesuitand that he thought an abridgement andtranslation of it from the French into English might be an useful and profitablepublicationMr. Warren and Mr. Hector joined in urging him to undertake it. Heaccordingly agreed; and the book not being to be found in Birminghamheborrowed it of Pembroke College. A part of the work being very soon doneoneOsbornwho was Mr. Warren's printerwas set to work with what was readyandJohnson engaged to supply the press with copy as it should be wanted; but hisconstitutional indolence soon prevailedand the work was at a stand. Mr.Hectorwho knew that a motive of humanity would be the most prevailing argumentwith his friendwent to Johnsonand represented to himthat the printer couldhave no other employment till this undertaking was finishedand that the poorman and his family were suffering. Johnson upon this exerted the powers of hismindthough his body was relaxed. He lay in bed with the bookwhich was aquartobefore himand dictated while Hector wrote. Mr. Hector carried thesheets to the pressand corrected almost all the proof sheetsvery few ofwhich were even seen by Johnson. In this mannerwith the aid of Mr. Hector'sactive friendshipthe book was completedand was published in 1735withLondon upon the title-pagethough it was in reality printed at Birminghamadevice too common with provincial publishers. For this work he had from Mr.Warren only the sum of five guineas.

This being the first prose work of Johnsonit is a curious object of enquiryhow much may be traced in it of that style which marks his subsequent writingswith such peculiar excellence; with so happy an union of forcevivacityandperspicuity. I have perused the book with this viewand have found that hereas I believe in every other translationthere is in the work itself no vestigeof the translator's own style; for the language of translation being adapted tothe thoughts of another personinsensibly follows their castand as it wereruns into a mould that is ready prepared.

Thusfor instancetaking the first sentence that occurs at the opening ofthe bookp. 4. "I lived here above a yearand completed my studies indivinity; in which time some letters were received from the fathers of Ethiopiawith an account that Sultan SegnedEmperour of Abyssiniawas converted to thechurch of Rome; that many of his subjects had followed his exampleand thatthere was a great want of missionaries to improve these prosperous beginnings.Every body was very desirous of seconding the zeal of our fathersand ofsending them the assistance they requested; to which we were the moreencouragedbecause the Emperour's letter informed our Provincialthat we mighteasily enter his dominions by the way of Dancala; butunhappilythe secretarywrote Geila for Dancalawhich cost two of our fathers their lives." Everyone acquainted with Johnson's manner will be sensible that there is nothing ofit here; but that this sentence might have been composed by any other man.

Butin the Prefacethe Johnsonian style begins to appear; and though usehad not yet taught his wing a permanent and equable flightthere are parts ofit which exhibit his best manner in full vigour. I had once the pleasure ofexamining it with Mr. Edmund Burkewho confirmed me in this opinionby hissuperiour critical sagacityand wasI remembermuch delighted with thefollowing specimen:

"The Portuguese travellercontrary to the general vein of hiscountrymenhas amused his reader with no romantick absurdityor incrediblefictions; whatever he relateswhether true or notis at least probable; and hewho tells nothing exceeding the bounds of probability has a right to demand thatthey should believe him who cannot contradict him.

"He appears by his modest and unaffected narrationto have describedthings as he saw themto have copied nature from the lifeand to haveconsulted his sensesnot his imagination. He meets with no basilisks thatdestroy with their eyeshis crocodiles devour their prey without tearsand hiscataracts fall from the rocks without deafening the neighbouring inhabitants.

"The reader will here find no regions cursed with irremediablebarrenessor blest with spontaneous fecundity; no perpetual gloomor unceasingsunshine; nor are the nations here describedeither devoid of all sense ofhumanityor consummate in all private or social virtues. Here are no Hottentotswithout religious policy or articulate language; no Chinese perfectly politeand completely skilled in all sciences; he will discoverwhat will always bediscovered by a diligent and impartial enquirerthat wherever human nature isto be foundthere is a mixture of vice and virtuea contest of passion andreason; and that the Creator doth not appear partial in his distributionsbuthas balancedin most countriestheir particular inconveniences by particularfavours."

Here we have an early example of that brilliant and energetick expressionwhichupon innumerable occasions in his subsequent lifejustly impressed theworld with the highest admiration.

Nor can any oneconversant with the writings of Johnsonfail to discern hishand in this passage of the Dedication to John WarrenEsq. of Pembrokeshirethough it is ascribed to Warren the bookseller. "A generous and elevatedmind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree ofcuriosity; * nor is that curiosity ever more agreeably or usefully employedthan in examining the laws and customs of foreign nations. I hopethereforethe present I now presume to makewill not be thought improper; whichhoweverit is not my business as a dedicator to commendnor as a bookseller todepreciate." -

* See RAMBLERNo. 103. -

It is reasonable to supposethat his having been thus accidentally led to aparticular study of the history and manners of Abyssiniawas the remoteoccasion of his writingmany years afterwardshis admirable philosophicaltalethe principal scene of which is laid in that country.

1734: AETAT. 25 -

Johnson returned to Lichfield early in 1734and in August that year he madean attempt to procure some little subsistence by his pen; for he publishedproposals for printing by subscription the Latin Poems of Politian: *"Angeli Politiani Poemata LatinaquibusNotas cum historia Latinaepoeseos a Petrarchae aevo ad Politiani tempora deductaet vita Politiani fusiusquam antehac enarrataaddidit SAM JOHNSON." *(2) -

* May we not trace a fanciful similarity between Politianand Johnson?Huetiusspeaking of Paulus Pelissonius Fontaneriussays "-in quo Naturaut olim in Angelo Politianodeformitatem oris excellentis ingenii praestantiacompensavit." Comment. de reb. ad eum pertin. Edit. Amstel. 1718p. 200.

*(2) The book was to contain more than thirty sheetsthe price to be twoshillings and sixpence at the time of subscribingand two shillings andsixpence at the delivery of a perfect book in quires. -

It appears that his brother Nathanael had taken up his father's trade; for itis mentioned that "subscriptions are taken in by the Editoror N. Johnsonbooksellerof Lichfield." Notwithstanding the merit of Johnsonand thecheap price at which this book was offeredthere were not subscribers enough toinsure a sufficient sale; so the work never appearedand probablynever wasexecuted.

We find him again this year at Birminghamand there is preserved thefollowing letter from him to Mr. Edward Cave* the original compiler and editorof the Gentleman's Magazine: -


"Nov. 251734.


"As you appear no less sensible than your readers of the defects of yourpoetical articleyou will not be displeasedif in order to the improvement ofitI communicate to you the sentiments of a personwho will undertakeonreasonable termssometimes to fill a column.

"His opinion isthat the publick would not give you a bad receptionifbeside the current wit of the monthwhich a critical examination wouldgenerally reduce to a narrow compassyou admitted not only poemsinscriptions&c. never printed beforewhich he will sometimes supply you with; butlikewise short literary dissertations in Latin or Englishcritical remarks onauthours ancient or modernforgotten poems that deserve revivalor loosepieceslike Floyer's*(2) worth preserving. By this methodyour literaryarticlefor so it might be calledwillhe thinksbe better recommended tothe publick than by low jestsawkward buffooneryor the dull scurrilities ofeither party.

"If such a correspondence will be agreeable to yoube pleased to informme in two postswhat the conditions are on which you shall expect it. Your lateoffer *(3) gives me no reason to distrust your generosity. If you engage in anyliterary projects besides this paperI have other designs to impartif I couldbe secure from having others reap the advantage of what I should hint.

"Your letter by being directed to S. Smithto be left at the Castle inBirminghamWarwickshirewill reach

"Your humble servant." -

* Miss Cavethe grand-niece of Mr. Edw. Cavehas obligingly shewn me theoriginals of this and the other letters of Dr. Johnsonto himwhich were firstpublished in the Gentleman's Magazinewith notes by Mr. John Nicholstheworthy and indefatigable editor of that valuable miscellanysigned N.; some ofwhich I shall occasionally transcribe in the course of this work.

*(2) Sir John Floyer's Treatise on Cold Baths. Gent. Mag. 734p. 197.

*(3) A prize of fifty pounds for the best poem "on LifeDeathJudgementHeavenand Hell." See Gentleman's Magazinevol. iv. p. 560.-NICHOLS. -

Mr. Cave has put a note on this letter"Answered Dec. 2." Butwhether any thing was done in consequence of it we are not informed.

Johnson hadfrom his early youthbeen sensible to the influence of femalecharms. When at Stourbridge schoolhe was much enamoured of Olivia Lloydayoung quakerto whom he wrote a copy of verseswhich I have not been able torecover; * but with what facility and elegance he could warble the amorous laywill appear from the following lines which he wrote for his friend Mr. EdmundHector. -

* [He also wrote some amatory versesbefore he left Staffordshirewhich ourauthour appears not to have seen. They were addressed "to Miss Hickmanplaying on the Spinet." At the back of this early poetical effusionofwhich the original copyin Johnson's handwritingwas obligingly communicatedto me by Mr. John Tayloris the following attestation: "Written by thelate Dr. Samuel Johnsonon my mother

then Miss Hickmanplaying on the Spinet. J. TURTON."

Dr. Turtonthe physicianthe writer of this certificatewho died in April1806in his 71st yearwas born in 1735. The verses in question thereforewhich have been printed in some late editions of Johnson's poems must have beenwritten before that year.- Miss Hickmanit is believedwas a lady ofStaffordshire.

The concluding lines of this early copy of verses have much of the vigour ofJohnson's poetry in his maturer years:

"When old Timotheus struck the vocal string

Ambitious fury fir'd the Grecian king:

Unbounded projects lab'ring in his mind

He pants for roomin one poor world confin'd.

Thus wak'd to rage by musick's dreadful power

He bids the sword destroythe flame devour.

Had Stella's gentle touches mov'd the lyre

Soon had the monarch felt a nobler fire;

No more delighted with disastrous war

Ambitious only now to please the fair

Resign'd his thirst of empire to her charms

And found a thousand worlds in Stella's arms.- M.] -

VERSES to a LADYon receiving from her a SPRIG of MYRTLE -

"What hopeswhat terrours does thy gift create

Ambiguous emblem of uncertain fate!

The myrtleensign of supreme command

Consign'd by Venus to Melissa's hand;

Not less capricious than a reigning fair

Now grantsand now rejects a lover's prayer.

In myrtle shades oft sings the happy swain

In myrtle shades despairing ghosts complain:

The myrtle crowns the happy lovers' heads

The unhappy lover's grave the myrtle spreads;

O then the meaning of thy gift impart

And ease the throbbings of an anxious heart!

Soon must this boughas you shall fix his doom

Adorn Philander's heador grace his tomb." * -

* Mrs. Piozzi gives the following account of this little composition from Dr.Johnson's own relation to heron her inquiring whether it was rightlyattributed to him.- "I think it is now just forty years agothat a youngfellow had a sprig of myrtle given him by a girl he courtedand asked me towrite him some verses that he might present her in return. I promisedbutforgot; and when he called for his lines at the time agreed on- Sit still amoment(says I) dear Mundand I'll fetch them thee- So stepped aside for fiveminutesand wrote the nonsense you now keep such a stir about." Anecdotesp. 34.

In my first edition I was induced to doubt the authenticity of this accountby the following circumstantial statement in a letter to me from Miss SewardofLichfield:- "I know those verses were addressed to Lucy Porterwhen he wasenamoured of her in his boyish daystwo or three years before he had seen hermotherhis future wife. He wrote them at my grandfather'sand gave them toLucy in the presence of my motherto whom he shewed them on the instant. Sheused to repeat them to mewhen I asked her for the Verses Dr. Johnson gave heron a Sprig of Myrtlewhich he had stolen or begged from her bosom. We all knowhonest Lucy Porter to have been incapable of the mean vanity of applying toherself a compliment not intended for her." Such was this lady's statementwhich I make no doubt she supposed to be correct; but it shews how dangerous itis to trust too implicitly to traditional testimony and ingenious inference; forMr. Hector has lately assured me that Mrs. Piozzi's account is in this instanceaccurateand that he was the person for whom Johnson wrote those verseswhichhave been erroneously ascribed to Mr. Hammond.

I am obliged in so many instances to notice Mrs. Piozzi's incorrectness ofrelationthat I gladly seize this opportunity of acknowledgingthat howeveroftenshe is not always inaccurate.

The authour having been drawn into a controversy with Miss Anna Sewardinconsequence of the preceding statement (which may be found in "theGentleman's Magazine" Vol. lxiii and lxiv) received the following letterfrom Mr. Edmund Hectoron the subject:


"I am sorry to see you are engaged in altercation with a Ladywho seemsunwilling to be convinced of her errors. Surely it would be more ingenuous toacknowledge than to persevere.

"Latelyin looking over some papers I meant to burnI found theoriginal manuscript of the myrtlewith the date on it1731which I haveinclosed.

"The true history (which I could swear to) is as follows: Mr. MorganGravesthe elder brother of a worthy Clergyman near Bathwith whom I wasacquaintedwaited upon a Lady in this neighbourhoodwho at parting presentedhim the branch. He shewed it meand wished much to return the compliment inverse. I applied to Johnsonwho was with meand in about half an hour dictatedthe verses which I sent to my friend.

"I most solemnly declareat that timeJohnson was an entire strangerto the Porter family; and it was almost two years after that I introduced him tothe acquaintance of Porterwhom I bought my cloaths of.

"If you intend to convince this obstinate womanand to exhibit to thepublick the truth of your narrativeyou are at liberty to make what use youplease of this statement.

"I hope you will pardon me for taking up so much of your time. Wishingyou multos et felices annosI shall subscribe myself

"Your obliged humble servant



Jan. 9th1794."

1736: AETAT. 27 -

His juvenile attachments to the fair sex werehoweververy transient: andit is certainthat he formed no criminal connection whatsoever. Mr. Hectorwholived with him in his younger days in the utmost intimacy and social freedomhas assured methat even at that ardent season his conduct was strictlyvirtuous in that respect; and that though he loved to exhilarate himself withwinehe never knew him intoxicated but once.

In a man whom religious education has secured from licentious indulgencesthe passion of lovewhen once it has seized himis exceedingly strong; beingunimpaired by dissipationand totally concentrated in one object. This wasexperienced by Johnsonwhen he became the fervent admirer of Mrs. Porterafterher first husband's death. * Miss Porter told methat when he was firstintroduced to her motherhis appearance was very forbidding: he was then leanand lankso that his immense structure of bones was hideously striking to theeyeand the scars of the scrophula were deeply visible. He also wore his hairwhich was straight and stiffand separated behind: and

he often hadseeminglyconvulsive starts and odd gesticulationswhichtended to excite at once surprise and ridicule. Mrs. Porter was so much engagedby his conversation that she overlooked all these external disadvantagesandsaid to her daughter"this is the most sensible man that I ever saw in mylife." -

* [It appearsfrom Mr. Hector's letterthat Johnson became acquainted withher three years before he married her.- M.] -

Though Mrs. Porter was double the age of Johnson* and her person andmanneras described to me by the late Mr. Garrickwere by no means pleasing toothers*(2) she must have had a superiority of understanding and talents *(3)as she certainly inspired him with a more than ordinary passion; and she havingsignified her willingness to accept of his handhe went to Lichfield to ask hismother's consent to the marriage; which he could not but be conscious was a veryimprudent schemeboth on account of their disparity of yearsand her want offortune. But Mrs. Johnson knew too well the ardour of her son's temperand wastoo tender a parent to oppose his inclinations. -

* [Mrs. Johnson's maiden name was Jervis. Though there was a great disparityof years between her and Dr. Johnsonshe was not quite so old as she is hererepresentedhaving only completed her forty-eighth year in the month ofFebruary preceding her marriageas appears by the following extract from theparish-register of Great Peatling in Leicestershirewhich was obligingly madeat my requestby the Hon. and Rev. Mr. RyderRector of Lutterworthin thatcounty:

"Anno Dom. 1688 [-9] Elizabeththe daughter of William JervisEsq andMrs. Anne his wifeborn the fourth day of February and manebaptized 16th dayof the same month by Mr. SmithCurate of Little Peatling.

"John AllenVicar."

The family of JervisMr. Ryder informs meonce possessed nearly the wholelordship of Great Peatling(about 2000 acres)and there are many monuments ofthem in the Church; but the estate is now much reduced. The presentrepresentative of this ancient family is Mr. Charles Jervisof HinckleyAttorney at Law.- M.]

*(2) [That in Johnson's eyes she was handsomeappears from the epitaph whichhe caused to be inscribed on her tomb-stone not long before his own deathandwhich may be found in a subsequent pageunder the year 1752.- M.]

*(3) [The following account of Mrs. Johnsonand her familyis copied from apaper (chiefly relating to Mrs. Anna Williams) written by Lady Knight at Romeand transmitted by her to the late John HooleEsq.the translator ofMetastasio& whom it was inserted in the European Magazine forOctober1799.

"Mrs. Williams's account of Mrs. Johnson wasthat she had a goodunderstandingand great sensibilitybut inclined to be satirical. Her firsthusband died insolvent; her sons were much disgusted with her for her secondmarriageperhaps because they being struggling to get advanced in lifeweremortified to think that she had allied herself to a man who had not any visiblemeans of being useful to them; howevershe always retained her affection forthem. While they [Dr. and Mrs. Johnson] resided in Gough Squareher sontheofficerknocked at the doorand asked the maidif her mistress was at home.She answered'YesSir; but she is sick in bed.' 'O' says he'if it's sotell her that her son Jerviscalled to know how she did;' and was going away.The maid begged she might run up to tell her mistressand without attending tohis answerleft him. Mrs. Johnson enraptured to hear her son was belowdesiredthe maid to tell him she longed to embrace him. When the maid descendedthegentleman was goneand poor Mrs. Johnson was much agitated by the adventure; itwas the only time he ever made an effort to see her. Dr. Johnson did all hecould to console his wifebut told Mrs. Williams'Her son is uniformlyundutiful; so I concludelike many other sober menhe might once in his lifebe drunkand in that fit nature got the better of his pride.'"

The following anecdotes of Dr. Johnson are recorded by the same lady:

"One day that he came to my house to meet many otherswe told him thatwe had arranged our party to go to Westminster Abbey: would not he go with us?'No' he replied'not while I can keep out.'

"Upon our saying that the friends of a lady had been in great fear lestshe should make a certain matchhe said'We that are his friends have hadgreat fears for him.'

"Dr. Johnson's political principles ran highboth in church and state:he wished power to the King and to the Heads of the Churchas the laws ofEngland have established; but I know he disliked absolute power; and I am verysure of his disapprobation of the doctrines of the church of Rome; because aboutthree weeks before we came abroadhe said to my Cornelia'you are going wherethe ostentatious pomp of church ceremonies attracts the imagination; but if theywant to persuade you to changeyou must rememberthat by increasing yourfaithyou may be persuaded to become Turk.' If these were not the words. I havekept up to the express meaning."- M.] -

I know not for what reason the marriage ceremony was not performed atBirmingham; but a resolution was taken that it should be at Derbyfor whichplace the bride and bridegroom set out on horsebackI suppose in very goodhumour. But though Mr. Topham Beauclerk used archly to mention Johnson's havingtold him with much gravity"Sirit was a love marriage on bothsides" I have had from my illustrious friend the following curious accountof their journey to church upon the nuptial morn:- "Sirshe had read theold romancesand had got into her head the fantastical notion that a woman ofspirit should use her lover like a dog. SoSirat first she told me that Irode too fastand she could not keep up with me: andwhen I rode a littleslowershe passed meand complained that I lagged behind. I was not to be madethe slave of caprice; and I resolved to begin as I meant to end. I thereforepushed on brisklytill I was fairly out of her sight. The road lay between twohedgesso I was sure she could not miss it; and I contrived that she shouldsoon come up with me. When she didI observed her to be in tears."

Thisit must be allowedwas a singular beginning of connubial felicity; butthere is no doubt that Johnsonthough he thus shewed a manly firmnessproved amost affectionate and indulgent husband to the last moment of Mrs. Johnson'slife: and in his "Prayers and Meditations" we find very remarkableevidence that his regard and fondness for her never ceasedeven after herdeath.

He now set up a private academyfor which purpose he hired a large housewell situated near his native city. In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1736thereis the following advertisement: "At Edialnear LichfieldinStaffordshireyoung gentlemen are boarded and taught the Latin and GreekLanguagesby SAMUEL JOHNSON." But the only pupils that were put under hiscare were the celebrated David Garrick and his brother Georgeand a Mr. Offelya young gentleman of good fortune who died early. As yethis name had nothingof that celebrity which afterwards commanded the highest attention and respectof mankind. Had such an advertisement appeared after the publication of hisLONDONor his RAMBLERor his DICTIONARYhow would it have burst upon theworld! with what eagerness would the great and the wealthy have embraced anopportunity of putting their sons under the learned tuition of SAMUEL JOHNSON.The truthhoweveristhat he was not so well qualified for being a teacher ofelementsand a conductor in learning by regular gradationsas men of inferiourpowers of mind. His own acquisitions had been made by fits and startsbyviolent irruptions into the regions of knowledge; and it could not be expectedthat his impatience would be subduedand his impetuosity restrainedsoas tofit him for a quiet guide to novices. The art of communicating instructionofwhatever kindis much to be valued; and I have ever thought that those whodevote themselves to this employmentand do their duty with diligence andsuccessare entitled to very high respect from the communityas Johnsonhimself often maintained. Yet I am of opinionthat the greatest abilities arenot only not required for this officebut render a man less fit for it.

While we acknowledge the justness of Thomson's beautiful remark-

"Delightful task! to rear the tender thought

And teach the young idea how to shoot!" -

we must consider that this delight is perceptible only by "a mind atease" a mind at once calm and clear; but that a mind gloomy and impetuouslike that of Johnsoncannot be fixed for any length of time in minuteattentionand must be so frequently irritated by unavoidable slowness anderrour in the advances of scholarsas to perform the dutywith little pleasureto the teacherand no great advantage to the pupils. Good temper is a mostessential requisite in a Preceptor. Horace paints the character as bland: -

"-Ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi

Doctoreselementa velint ut discere prima." -

Johnson was not more satisfied with his situation as the master of anacademythan with that of the usher of a school; we need not wonderthereforethat he did not keep his academy above a year and a half. From Mr. Garrick'saccount he did not appear to have been profoundly reverenced by his pupils. Hisoddities of mannerand uncouth gesticulationscould not but be the subject ofmerriment to them; and in particularthe young rogues used to listen at thedoor of his bed-chamberand peep through the key-holethat they might turninto ridicule his tumultuous and awkward fondness for Mrs Johnsonwhom he usedto name by the familiar appellation of Tetty or Tetseywhichlike Betty orBetseyis provincially used as a contraction for Elizabethher christian namebut which to us seems ludicrouswhen applied to a woman of her age andappearance. Mr. Garrick described her to me as very fatwith a bosom of morethan ordinary protuberancewith swelled cheeksof a florid redproduced bythick paintingand increased by the liberal use of cordials; flaring andfantastick in her dressand affected both in her speech and her generalbehaviour. I have seen Garrick exhibit herby his exquisite talent of mimickryso as to excite the heartiest burst of laughter; but heprobablyas is thecase in all such representationsconsiderably aggravated the picture.

That Johnson well knew the most proper course to be pursued in theinstruction of youth is authentically ascertained by the following paper in hisown hand-writinggiven about this period to a relationand now in thepossession of Mr. John Nichols: -


"WHEN the introductionor formation of nouns and verbsis perfectlymasteredlet them learn

"Corderius by Mr. Clarkebeginning at the same time to translate out ofthe introductionthat by this means they may learn the syntax. Then let themproceed to

"Erasmuswith an English translationby the same authour

"Class II. Learns Eutropius and Cornelius Neposor Justinwith thetranslation.

"N.B. The first class gets for their part every morning the rules whichthey have learned beforeand in the afternoon learns the Latin rules of thenouns and verbs.

"They are examined in the rules which they have learnedevery Thursdayand Saturday.

"The second class does the same whilst they are in Eutropius; afterwardstheir part is in the irregular nouns and verbsand in the rules for making andscanning verses. They are examined as the first.

"Class III. Ovid's Metamorphoses in the morningand Caesar'sCommentaries in the afternoon.

"Practise in the Latin rules till they are perfect in them; afterwardsin Mr Leeds's Greek Grammar. Examined as before.

"Afterwards they proceed to Virgilbeginning at the same time to writethemes and versesand to learn Greek; from thence passing on to Horace& shall seem most proper.

"I know not well what books to direct you tobecause you have notinformed me what study you will apply yourself to. I believe it will be most foryour advantage to apply yourself wholly to the languagestill you go to theuniversity. The Greek authours I think it best for you to read are these:

"Cebes. Attick.

"Aelian. Attick.

"Lucian by Leeds. Attick.

"Xenophon. Attick.

"Homer. Ionick.

"Theocritus. Dorick.

"Euripides. Attick and Dorick.

"Thus you will be tolerably skilled in all the dialectsbeginning withthe Attickto which the rest must be referred.

"In the study of Latinit is proper not to read the latter authourstill you are well versed in those of the purest ages; as TerenceTullyCaesarSallustNeposVelleius PaterculusVirgilHoracePhaedrus.

"The greatest and most necessary task still remainsto attain a habitof expressionwithout which knowledge is of little use. This is necessary inLatinand more necessary in English; and can only be acquired by a dailyimitation of the best and correctest authours.


1737: AETAT. 28 -

While Johnson kept his academythere can be no doubt that he was insensiblyfurnishing his mind with various knowledge; but I have not discovered that hewrote any thing except a great part of his tragedy of IRENE. Mr. Peter Garrickthe elder brother of Davidtold me that he remembered Johnson's borrowing theTurkish History of himin order to form his play from it. When he had finishedsome part of ithe read what he had done to Mr. Walmsleywho objected to hishaving already brought his heroine into great distressand asked him"howcan you possibly contrive to plunge her into deeper calamity!" Johnsoninsly allusion to the supposed oppressive proceedings of the court of which Mr.Walmsley was registrarrepliedSirI can put her into the SpiritualCourt!"

Mr. Walmsleyhoweverwas well pleased with this proof of Johnson'sabilities as a dramatick writerand advised him to finish the tragedyandproduce it on the stage.

Johnson now thought of trying his fortune in Londonthe great field ofgenius and exertionwhere talents of every kind have the fullest scopeand thehighest encouragement. It is a memorable circumstance that his pupil DavidGarrick went thither at the same time* with intent to complete his educationand follow the profession of the lawfrom which he was soon diverted by hisdecided preference for the stage. -

* Both of them used to talk pleasantly of this their first journey to London.Garrickevidently meaning to embellish a littlesaid one day in my hearing'we rode and tied.' And the Bishop of Killaloe [Dr. Barnard] informed methatat another timewhen Johnson and Garrick were dining together in a pretty largecompanyJohnson humorously ascertaining the chronology of somethingexpressedhimself thus: "that was the year when I came to London with two-pencehalf-penny in my pocket." Garrick overhearing himexclaimed"eh?what do you say? with two-pence half-penny in your pocket?"- JOHNSON."Whyyes; when I came with two-pence half-penny in my pocketand thouDavywith three half-pence in thine." -

This joint expedition of these two eminent men to the metropoliswas manyyears afterwards noticed in an allegorical poem on Shakespeare's Mulberry-treeby Mr. Lovibondthe ingenious authour of "The Tears of Old-May-day."

They were recommended to Mr. Colson* an eminent mathematician and master ofan academyby the following letter from Mr. Walmsley: -

"To the Reverend Mr. Colson.

LichfieldMarch 21737.


"I had the favour of yoursand am extremely obliged to you; but Icannot say I had a greater affection for you upon it than I had beforebeinglong since so much endeared to youas well by an early friendshipas by yourmany excellent and valuable qualifications; andhad I a son of my ownit wouldbe my ambitioninstead of sending him to the Universityto dispose of him asthis young gentleman is.

"Heand another neighbour of mineone Mr. Samuel Johnsonset out thismorning for London together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next weekand Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedyand to see to get himselfemployed in some translationeither from the Latin or the French. Johnson is avery good scholar and poetand I have great hopes will turn out a finetragedy-writer. If it should any way lie in your waydoubt not but you would beready to recommend and assist your countryman.


* [The Reverend John Colson was bred at Emmanuel College in Cambridgeand in1728when George the Second visited that Universitywas created Master ofArts. About that time he became First Master of the Free School at Rochesterfounded by Sir Joseph Williamson. In 1739he was appointed Lucasian Professorof Mathematics in the University of Cambridgeon the death of ProfessorSandersonand held that office till 1759when he died. He published Lectureson Experimental Philosophytranslated from the French of l'Abbe Nodet8vo.1732and some other tracts. Our authourit is believedwas mistaken instating him to have been Master of an Academy. Garrickprobablyduring hisshort residence at Rochesterlived in his house as a private pupil.

The character of GELIDUSthe philosopherin the Rambler. (No. 24) was meantto represent this gentleman. See Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes&c. p. 49.- M] -

How he employed himself upon his first coming to London is not particularlyknown. * I never heard that he found any protection or encouragement by themeans of Mr. Colsonto whose academy David Garrick went. Mrs. Lucy Porter toldmethat Mr. Walmsley gave him a letter of introduction to Lintot hisbooksellerand that Johnson wrote some things for him; but I imagine this to bea mistakefor I have discovered no trace of itand I am pretty sure he toldmethat Mr. Cave was the first publisher by whom his pen was engaged in London.-

* One curious anecdote was communicated by himself to Mr. John Nichols. Mr.Wilcoxthe bookselleron being informed by him that his intention was to gethis livelihood as an authoureyed his robust frame attentivelyand with asignificant looksaid"You had better buy a porter's knot." Hehowever added"Wilcox was one of my best friends." -

He had a little money when he came to townand he knew how he could live inthe cheapest manner. His first lodgings were at the house of Mr. Norrisastaymakerin Exeter-streetadjoining Catharine-streetin the Strand. "Idined (said he) very well for eight-pencewith very good companyat thePine-Apple in Newstreetjust by. Several of them had travelled. They expectedto meet every day; but did not know one another's names. It used to cost therest a shillingfor they drank wine; but I had a cut of meat for six-penceandbread for a pennyand gave the waiter a penny; so that I was quite well servednaybetter than the restfor they gave the waiter nothing."

He at this timeI believeabstained entirely from fermented liquors: apractice to which he rigidly conformed for many years togetherat differentperiods of his life.

His OFELLUS in the Art of Living in LondonI have heard him relatewas anIrish painterwhom he knew at Birminghamand who had practiced his ownprecepts of economy for several years in the British capital. He assuredJohnsonwhoI supposewas then meditating to try his fortune in Londonbutwas apprehensive of the expence"that thirty pounds a year was enough toenable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds forcloaths and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen-pence aweek; few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they didit was easy tosay'SirI am to be found at such a place.' By spending three-pence in acoffee-househe might be for some hours every day in very good company; hemight dine for six-pencebreakfast on bread and milk for a pennyand dowithout supper. On clean-shirt day he went abroadand paid visits." I haveheard him more than once talk of his frugal friendwhom he recollected withesteem and kindnessand did not like to have one smile at the recital."This man (said hegravely) was a very sensible manwho perfectlyunderstood common affairs: a man of a great deal of knowledge of the worldfresh from lifenot strained through books. He borrowed a horse and ten poundsat Birmingham. Finding himself master of so much moneyhe set off for WestChesterin order to get to Ireland. He returned the horseand probably the tenpounds tooafter he got home."

Considering Johnson's narrow circumstances in the early part of his lifeandparticularly at the interesting aera of his launching into the ocean of Londonit is not to be wondered atthat an actual instanceproved by experienceofthe possibility of enjoying the intellectual luxury of social life upon a verysmall incomeshould deeply engage his attentionand be ever recollected by himas a circumstance of much importance. He amused himselfI rememberbycomputing how much more expence was absolutely necessary to live upon the samescale with that which his friend describedwhen the value of money wasdiminished by the progress of commerce. It may be estimated that double themoney might now with difficulty be sufficient.

Amidst this cold obscuritythere was one brilliant circumstance to cheerhim; he was well acquainted with Mr. Henry Hervey* one of the branches of thenoble family of that namewho had been quartered at Lichfield as an officer ofthe armyand had at this time a house in Londonwhere Johnson was frequentlyentertainedand had an opportunity of meeting genteel company. Not very longbefore his deathhe mentioned thisamong other particulars of his lifewhichhe was kindly communicating to me; and he described this early friend"Harry Hervey" thus: "He was a vicious manbut very kind to me.If you call a dog HERVEYI shall love him." -

* The Honourable Henry Herveythird son of the first Earl of Bristolquitted the army and took orders. He married a sister of Sir Thomas Astonbywhom he got the Aston Estateand assumed the name and arms of that family. VideCollins's Peerage.

[The Honourable Henry Hervey was nearly of the same age with Johnsonhavingbeen born about nine months before himin the year 1709. He married Catharinethe sister of Sir Thomas Astonin 1739; and as that lady had seven sisterssheprobably succeeded to the Aston Estate on the death of her brother under hiswill. Mr. Hervey took the degree of Master of Arts at Cambridgeat the late ageof thirty-fivein 1744; about which timeit is believedhe entered into holyorders.- M.] -

He told me he had now written only three acts of his IRENEand that heretired for some time to lodgings at Greenwichwhere he proceeded in itsomewhat furtherand used to composewalking in the Park; but did not staylong enough at that place to finish it.

At this period we find the following letter from him to Mr. Edward Cavewhichas a link in the chain of his literary historyit is proper to insert: -


"Greenwichnext door to the Golden Heart

"Church-streetJuly 121737.


"Having observed in your papers very uncommon offers of encouragement tomen of lettersI have chosenbeing a stranger in Londonto communicate to youthe following designwhichI hopeif you join in itwill be of advantage toboth of us.

"The History of the Council of Trent having been lately translated intoFrenchand published with large Notes by Dr. Le Courayerthe reputation ofthat book is so much revived in Englandthatit is presumeda new translationof it from the Italiantogether with Le Courayer's Notes from the Frenchcouldnot fail of a favourable reception.

"If it be answeredthat the History is already in Englishit must berememberedthat there was the same objection against Le Courayer's undertakingwith this advantagethat the French had a version by one of their besttranslatorswhereas you cannot read three pages of the English History withoutdiscovering that the style is capable of great improvements; but whether thoseimprovements are to be expected from this attemptyou must judge from thespecimenwhichif you approve the proposalI shall submit to yourexamination.

"Suppose the merit of the versions equalwe may hope that the additionof the Notes will turn the balance in our favourconsidering the reputation ofthe Annotator.

"Be pleased to favour me with a speedy answerif you are not willing toengage in this scheme; and appoint me a day to wait upon youif you are.

"I amSir

"Your humble servant


It should seem from this letterthough subscribed with his own namethat hehad not yet been introduced to Mr. Cave. We shall presently see what was done inconsequence of the proposal which it contains.

In the course of the summer he returned to Lichfieldwhere he had left Mrs.Johnsonand there he at last finished his tragedywhich was not executed withhis rapidity of composition upon other occasionsbut was slowly and painfullyelaborated. A few days before his deathwhile burning a great mass of papershe picked out from among them the original unformed sketch of this tragedyinhis own handwritingand gave it to Mr. Langtonby whose favour a copy of it isnow in my possession. It contains fragments of the intended plotand speechesfor the different persons of the dramapartly in the raw materials of prosepartly worked up into verse; as also a variety of hints for illustrationborrowed from the GreekRomanand modern writers. The hand-writing is verydifficult to be readeven by those who were best acquainted with Johnson's modeof penmanshipwhich at all times was very particular. The King havinggraciously accepted of this manuscript as a literary curiosityMr. Langton madea fair and distinct copy of itwhich he ordered to be bound up with theoriginal and the printed tragedy; and the volume is deposited in the King'slibrary. His Majesty was pleased to permit Mr. Langton to take a copy of it forhimself.

The whole of it is rich in thought and imageryand happy expressions; and ofthe disjecta membra scattered throughoutand as yet unarrangeda gooddramatick poet might avail himself with considerable advantage. I shall give myreaders some specimens of different kindsdistinguishing them by the Italickcharacter. -

"Nor think to say here will I stop

Here will I fix the limits of transgression

Nor farther tempt the avenging rage of heaven.

When guilt like this once harbours in the breast

Those holy beingswhose unseen direction

Guides through the maze of life the steps of man

Fly the detested mansions of impiety

And quit their charge to horrour and to ruin." -

A small part only of this interesting admonition is preserved in the playand is variedI thinknot to advantage: -

"The soul once tainted with so foul a crime

No more shall glow with friendship's hallow'd ardour

Those holy beings whose superior care

Guides erring mortals to the paths of virtue

Affrighted at impiety like thine

Resign their charge to baseness and to ruin." -

"I feel the soft infection

Flush in my cheekand wander in my veins.

Teach me the Grecian arts of soft persuasion." -

"Sure this is lovewhich heretofore I conceived the dream of idlemaidsand wanton poets." -

"Though no comets or prodigies foretold the ruin of Greecesigns whichheaven must by another miracle enable us to understandyet might it beforeshewnby tokens no less certainby the vices which always bring iton." -

This last passage is worked up in the tragedy itselfas follows: -


"-That power that kindly spreads

The cloudsa signal of impending showers

To warn the wand'ring linnet to the shade

Beheldwithout concernexpiring Greece

And not one prodigy foretold our fate. -


"A thousand horrid prodigies foretold it;

A feeble governmenteluded laws

A factious populaceluxurious nobles

And all the maladies of sinking States.

When publick villanytoo strong for justice

Shews his bold frontthe harbinger of ruin

Can brave Leontius call for airy wonders

Which cheats interpretand which fools regard?

When some neglected fabrick nods beneath

The weight of yearsand totters to the tempest

Must heaven despatch the messengers of light

Or wake the deadto warn us of its fall?" -

MAHOMET (to IRENE). "I have tried theeand joy to find that thoudeservest to be loved by Mahomet- with a mind great as his own. Surethou artan errour of natureand an exception to the rest of thy sexand art immortal;for sentiments like thine were never to sink into nothing. I thought all thethoughts of the fair had been to select the graces of the daydispose thecolours of the flaunting (flowing) robetune the voice and roll the eyeplacethe gemchoose the dressand add new roses to the faded cheekbut-sparkling." -

Thus in the tragedy: -

"Illustrious maidnew wonders fix me thine;

Thy soul completes the triumphs of thy face

I thoughtforgive my fairthe noblest aim

The strongest effort of a female soul

Was but to choose the graces of the day

To tune the tongueto teach the eyes to roll

Dispose the colours of the flowing robe

And add new roses to the faded cheek." -

I shall select one other passageon account of the doctrine which itillustrates. IRENE observes"that the Supreme Being will accept of virtuewhatever outward circumstances it may be accompanied withand may be delightedwith varieties of worship: but is answeredThat variety cannot affect thatBeingwhoinfinitely happy in his own perfectionswants no externalgratifications; nor can infinite truth be delighted with falsehood; that thoughhe may guide or pity those he leaves in darknesshe abandons those who shuttheir eyes against the beams of day."

Johnson's residence at Lichfieldon his return to it at this timewas onlyfor three months; and as he had as yet seen but a small part of the wonders ofthe Metropolishe had little to tell his townsmen. He related to me thefollowing minute anecdote of this period: "In the last agewhen my motherlived in Londonthere were two sets of peoplethose who gave the wallandthose who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome. When I returned toLichfieldafter having been in Londonmy mother asked mewhether I was one ofthose who gave the wallor those who took it. Now it is fixed that every mankeeps to the right; orif one is taking the wallanother yields it; and it isnever a dispute." * -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edi.p. 232 [Sep. 201773]. -

He now removed to London with Mrs. Johnson; but her daughterwho had livedwith them at Edialwas left with her relations in the country. His lodgingswere for some time in Woodstock-streetnear Hanover-squareand afterwards inCastle-streetnear Cavendish-square. As there is something pleasinglyinterestingto manyin tracing so great a man through all his differenthabitationsI shallbefore this work is concludedpresent my readers with anexact list of his lodgings and housesin order of timewhichin placidcondescension to my respectful curiosityhe one evening dictated to mebutwithout specifying how long he lived at each. In the progress of his life Ishall have occasion to mention some of them as connected with particularincidentsor with the writing of particular parts of his works. To somethisminute attention may appear trifling; but when we consider the punctiliousexactness with which the different houses in which Milton resided have beentraced by the writers of his lifea similar enthusiasm may be pardoned in thebiographer of Johnson.

His tragedy being by this timeas he thoughtcompletely finished and fitfor the stagehe was very desirous that it should be brought forward. Mr. PeterGarrick told methat Johnson and he went together to the Fountain Tavernandread it overand that he afterwards solicited Mr. Fleetwoodthe patentee ofDrury-lane theatreto have it acted at his house; but Mr. Fleetwood would notaccept itprobably because it was not patronized by some man of high rank; andit was not acted till 1749when his friend David Garrick was manager of thattheatre.

The GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINEbegun and carried on by Mr. Edward Caveunder thename of SYLVANUS URBANhad attracted the notice and esteem of Johnsonin aneminent degreebefore he came to London as an adventurer in literature. He toldmethat when he first saw St. John's Gatethe place where that deservedlypopular miscellany was originally printedhe "beheld it withreverence." I supposeindeedthat every young authour has had the samekind of feeling for the magazine or periodical publication which has firstentertained himand in which he has first had an opportunity to see himself inprintwithout the risk of exposing his name. I myself recollect suchimpressions from "THE SCOTS MAGAZINE" which was begun at Edinburgh inthe year 1739and has been ever conducted with judgementaccuracyandpropriety. I yet cannot help thinking of it with an affectionate regard. Johnsonhas dignified the Gentleman's by the various admirable Essays which he wrote forit.

Though Johnson was often solicited by his friends to make a complete list ofhis writingsand talked of doing itI believe with a serious intention thatthey should all be collected on his own accounthe put it off from year toyearand at last died without having done it perfectly. I have one in his ownhand-writingwhich contains a certain number; I indeed doubt if he could haveremembered every one of themas they were so numerousso variousandscattered in such a multiplicity of unconnected publications; nayseveral ofthem published under the names of other persons to whom he liberally contributedfrom the abundance of his mind. We mustthereforebe content to discover thempartly from occasional information given by him to his friendsand partly frominternal evidence. * -

* While in the course of my narrative I enumerate his writingsI shall takecare that my readers shall not be left to waver in doubtbetween certainty andconjecturewith regard to their authenticity; andfor that purposeshall markwith an 'at' symbol enclosed in parenthesis (@) those which he acknowledged tohis friendsand with a 'plus' sign enclosed in parenthesis (+) those which areascertained to be his by internal evidence. When any other pieces are ascribedto himI shall give my reasons.

1738: AETAT. 29 -

His first performance in the Gentleman's Magazinewhich for many years washis principal source for employment and supportwas a copy of Latin versesinMarch1738addressed to the editor in so happy a style of complimentthatCave must have been destitute both of taste and sensibilityhad he not felthimself highly gratified. -

Ad URBANUM (@) -

URBANEnullis fesse laboribus

URBANEnullis victe calumniis

Cui fronte sertum in erudita

Perpetuo viret et virebit; -

Quid moliatur gens imitantium

Quid et minetursolicitus parum

Vacaresolis perge Musis

Juxta animo studiisque felix. -

Linguae procacis plumbea spicula

Fidenssuperbo frange silentio;

Victrix per obstantes catervas

Sedulitas animosa tendet. -

Intende nervosfortisinanibus

Risurus olim nisibus aemuli;

Intende jam nervoshabebis

Participes operae Camaenas. -

Non ulla Musis pagina gratior

Quam quae severis ludicra jungere

Novitfatigatamque nugis

Utilibus recreare mentem. -

Texante Nymphis serta Lycoride

Rosae ruborem sic viola adjuvat

Immistasic Iris refulget

Aethereis variata fucis. * S.J. -

* A translation of this Odeby an unknown correspondentappeared in theMagazine for the month of May following:

"Hail URBAN! indefatigable man

Unwearied yet by all thy useful toil!

Whom num'rous slanderers assault in vain;

Whom no base calumny can put to foil.

But still the laurel on thy learned brow

Flourishes fairand shall for ever grow. -

"What means the servile imitating crew

What their vain blust'ringand their empty noise

Ne'er seek: but still thy noble ends pursue

Unconquer'd by the rabble's venal voice

Still to the Muse thy studious mind apply

Happy in temper as in industry. -

"The senseless sneerings of an haughty tongue

Unworthy thy attention to engage

Unheeded pass: and tho' they mean thee wrong

By manly silence disappoint their rage.

Assiduous diligence confounds its foes

Resistlesstho' malicious crouds oppose. -

"Exert thy powersnor slacken in the course

Thy spotless fame shall quash all false reports:

Exert thy powersnor fear a rival's force

But thou shalt smile at all his vain efforts;

Thy labours shall be crown'd with large success:

The Muse's aid thy Magazine shall bless. -

"No page more grateful to th' harmonious nine

Than that wherein thy labours we survey;

Where solemn themes in fuller splendour shine

(Delightful mixture) blended with the gay

Where in improvingvarious joys we find

A welcome respite to the wearied mind. -

"Thus when the nymphs in some fair verdant mead

Of various flow'rs a beauteous wreath compose

The lovely violet's azure-painted head

Adds lustre to the crimson-blushing rose.

Thus splendid Iriswith her varied dye

Shines in the aetherand adorns the sky."


It appears that he was now enlisted by Mr. Cave as a regular coadjutor in hismagazineby which he probably obtained a tolerable livelihood. At what timeorby what meanshe had acquired a competent knowledge both of French and ItalianI do not know; but he was so well skilled in themas to be sufficientlyqualified for a translator. That part of his labour which consisted inemendation and improvement of the productions of other contributorslike thatemployed in levelling groundcan be perceived only by those who had anopportunity of comparing the original with the altered copy. What we certainlyknow to have been done by him in this waywas the Debates in both houses ofParliamentunder the name of "The Senate of Lilliput" sometimes withfeigned denominations of the several speakerssometimes with denominationsformed of the letters of their real namesin the manner of what is calledanagramso that they might easily be decyphered. Parliament then kept the pressin a kind of mysterious awewhich made it necessary to have recourse to suchdevices. In our time it has acquired an unrestrained freedomso that the peoplein all parts of the kingdom have a fairopenand exact report of the actualproceedings of their representatives and legislatorswhich in our constitutionis highly to be valued; thoughunquestionablythere has of late been too muchreason to complain of the petulance with which obscure scribblers have presumedto treat men of the most respectable character and situation.

This important article of the Gentleman's Magazine wasfor several yearsexecuted by Mr. William Guthriea man who deserves to be respectably recordedin the literary annals of this country. He was descended of an ancient family inScotland; but having a small patrimonyand being an adherent of the unfortunatehouse of Stuarthe could not accept of any office in the state; he thereforecame to Londonand employed his talents and learning as an "Authour byprofession." His writings in historycriticismand politickshadconsiderable merit. * He was the first English historian who had recourse tothat authentick source of informationthe Parliamentary Journals; and such wasthe power of his political penthatat an early periodGovernment thought itworth their while to keep it quiet by a pensionwhich he enjoyed till hisdeath. Johnson esteemed him enough to wish that his life should be written. Thedebates in Parliamentwhich were brought home and digested by Guthriewhosememorythough surpassed by others who have since followed him in the samedepartmentwas yet very quick and tenaciouswere sent by Cave to Johnson forhis revision; andafter some timewhen Guthrie had attained to greater varietyof employmentand the speeches were more and more enriched by the accession ofJohnson's geniusit was resolved that he should do the whole himselffrom thescanty notes furnished by persons employed to attend in both houses ofParliament. Sometimeshoweveras he himself told mehe had nothing morecommunicated to him than the names of the several speakersand the part whichthey had taken in the debate. -

* How much poetry he wroteI know not; but he informed me that he was theauthour of the beautiful little piece"The Eagle and RobinRed-breast" in the collection of poems entitled"THE UNION"though it is there said to be written by Archibald Scottbefore the year 1600.-

Thus was Johnson employed during some of the best years of his lifeas amere literary labourer "for gainnot glory" solely to obtain anhonest support. He however indulged himself in occasional little sallieswhichthe French so happily express by the term jeux d'espritand which will benoticed in their orderin the progress of this work.

But what first displayed his transcendent powersand "gave the worldassurance of the MAN" was his "LONDONa Poemin Imitation of theThird Satire of Juvenal;" which came out in May this yearand burst forthwith a splendourthe rays of which will for ever encircle his name. Boileau hadimitated the same satire with great successapplying it to Paris: but anattentive comparison will satisfy every readerthat he is much excelled by theEnglish Juvenal. Oldham had also imitated itand applied it to London: allwhich performances concur to provethat great citiesin every ageand everycountrywill furnish similar topicks of satire. Whether Johnson had previouslyread Oldham's imitationI do not know; but it is not a little remarkablethatthere is scarcely any coincidence found between the two performancesthoughupon the very same subject. The only instances arein describing London as thesink of foreign worthlessness: -

"-the common shore

Where France doth all her filth and ordure pour."


"The common shore of Paris and of Rome."



"No calling or profession comes amiss

A needy monsieur can be what he please."


"All sciences a fasting monsieur knows."


The particulars which Oldham has collectedboth as exhibiting the horroursof Londonand of the timescontrasted with better daysare different fromthose of Johnsonand in general well chosenand well exprest. * -

* I own it pleased me to find amongst them one trait of the manners of theage in Londonin the last centuryto shield from the sneer of Englishridiculewhat was some time ago too common a practice in my native city ofEdinburgh!

"If what I've said can't from the town affright

Consider other dangers of the night;

When brickbats are from upper stories thrown

And emptied chamber-pots came pouring down

From garret windows." -

There arein Oldham's imitationmany prosaick verses and bad rhymesandhis poem sets out with a strange inadvertent blunder: -

"Tho' much concern'd to leave my dear old friend

I musthoweverhis design commend

Of fixing in the country-." -

It is plain he was not going to leave his friend; his friend was going toleave him. A young lady at once corrected this with good critical sagacityto -

"Tho' much concern'd to lose my dear old friend." -

There is one passage in the originalbetter transfused by Oldham than byJohnson: -

"Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se

Quam quod ridiculos homines facit." -

which is an exquisite remark on the galling meanness and contempt annexed topoverty: JOHNSON'S imitation is-

"Of all the griefs that harass the distrest

Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest."

OLDHAM'Sthough less elegantis more just: -

"Nothing in poverty so ill is borne

As its exposing men to grinning scorn." -

Whereor in what manner this poem was composedI am sorry that I neglectedto ascertain with precisionfrom Johnson's own authority. He has marked uponhis corrected copy of the first edition of it"Written in 1738;" andas it was published in the month of May in that yearit is evident that muchtime was not employed in preparing it for the press. The history of itspublication I am enabled to give in a very satisfactory manner; and judging frommyselfand many of my friendsI trust that it will not be uninteresting to myreaders.

We may be certainthough it is not expressly named in the following lettersto Mr. Cavein 1738that they all relate to it: -


"Castle-streetWednesday Morning.

[No date. 1738.]


"WHEN I took the liberty of writing to you a few days agoI did notexpect a repetition of the same pleasure so soon; for a pleasure I shall alwaysthink itto converse in any manner with an ingenuous and candid man; but havingthe inclosed poem in my hands to dispose of for the benefit of the authour(ofwhose abilities I shall say nothingsince I send you his performance) Ibelieved I could not procure more advantageous terms from any person than fromyouwho have so much distinguished yourself by your generous encouragement ofpoetry; and whose judgement of that art nothing but your commendation of mytrifle * can give me any occasion to call in question. I do not doubt you willlook over this poem with another eyeand reward it in a different manner from amercenary booksellerwho counts the lines he is to purchaseand considersnothing but the bulk. I cannot help taking noticethat besides what the authourmay hope for on account of his abilitieshe has likewise another claim to yourregardas he lies at present under very disadvantageous circumstances offortune. I begthereforethat you will favour me with a letter to-morrowthatI may know what you can afford to allow himthat he may either part with it toyouor find out(which I do not expect) some other way more to hissatisfaction.

"I have only to addthat as I am sensible I have transcribed it verycoarselywhichafter having altered itI was obliged to doI willif youplease to transmit the sheets from the presscorrect it for you; and take thetrouble of altering any stroke of satire which you may dislike.

"By exerting on this occasion your usual generosityyou will not onlyencourage learningand relieve distressbut (though it be in comparison of theother motives of very small account) oblige in a very sensible mannerSir

"Your very humble Servant


* His Ode "Ad Urbanum" probably.- NICHOLS. -


"MondayNo. 6Castle-street."


"I AM to return you thanks for the present you were so kind as to sendby meand to intreat that you will be pleased to inform me by the penny-postwhether you resolve to print the poem. If you please to send it me by the postwith a note to DodsleyI will go and read the lines to himthat we may havehis consent to put his name in the title-page. As to the printingif it can beset immediately aboutI will be so much the authour's friendas not to contentmyself with mere solicitations in his favour. I proposeif my calculation benear the truthto engage for the reimbursement of all that you shall lose by animpression of 500; providedas you very generously proposethat the profitifanybe set aside for the authour's useexcepting the present you madewhichif he be a gainerit is fit he should repay. I beg that you will let one ofyour servants write an exact account of the expense of such an impressionandsend it with the poemthat I may know what I engage for. I am very sensiblefrom your generosity on this occasionof your regard to learningeven in itsunhappiest state; and cannot but think such a temper deserving of the gratitudeof those who suffer so often from a contrary disposition. I amSir

"Your most humble Servant



[No date. ]


"I WAITED on you to take the copy to Dodsley's: as I remember the numberof lines which it containsit will be no longer than EUGENIO* with thequotationswhich must be subjoined at the bottom of the page; part of thebeauty of the performance (if any beauty be allowed it) consisting in adaptingJuvenal's sentiments to modern facts and persons. It willwith those additionsvery conveniently make five sheets. And since the expense will be no moreIshall contentedly insure itas I mentioned in my last. If it be not thereforegone to Dodsley'sI beg it may be sent me by the penny-postthat I may have itin the evening. I have composed a Greek Epigram to Eliza*(2) and think sheought to be celebrated in as many different languages as Lewis le Grand. Praysend me word when you will begin upon the poemfor it is a long way to walk. Iwould leave my Epigrambut have not daylight to transcribe it. I am



* A poempublished in 1737of which see an account under April 301773.

*(2) [The learned Mrs. Elizabeth Carter. This ladyof whom frequent mentionwill be found in these Memoirswas daughter of Nicholas CarterD.D. She diedin Clarges-streetFeb. 191806in her eighty-ninth year.- M.] -


[No date. ]


"I AM extremely obliged by your kind letterand will not fail to attendyou to-morrow with IRENEwho looks upon you as one of her best friends.

"I was to-day with MrDodsleywho declares very warmly in favour ofthe paper you sent himwhich he desires to have a share init beingas hesaysa creditable thing to be concerned in. I knew not what answer to make tillI had consulted younor what to demand on the authour's partbut am verywilling thatif you pleasehe should have a part in itas he will undoubtedlybe more diligent to disperse and promote it. If you can send me word to-morrowwhat I shall say to himI will settle mattersand bring the poem with me forthe presswhichas the town emptieswe cannot be too quick with. I amSir



To us who have long known the manly forcebold spiritand masterlyversification of this poemit is a matter of curiosity to observe thediffidence with which its authour brought it forward into publick noticewhilehe is so cautious as not to avow it to be his own production; and with whathumility he offers to allow the printer to "alter any stroke of satirewhich he might dislike." That any such alteration was madewe do not know.If we didwe could but feel an indignant regret; but how painful is it to seethat a writer of such vigorous powers of mind was actually in such distressthat the small profit which so short a poemhowever excellentcould yieldwascourted as a "relief."

It has been generally saidI know not with what truththat Johnson offeredhis "London" to several booksellersnone of whom would purchase it.To this circumstance Mr. Derrick alludes in the following lines of his"FORTUNEA RHAPSODY:" -

"Will no kind patron JOHNSON own?

Shall JOHNSON friendless range the town?

And every publisher refuse

The offspring of his happy Muse?" -

But we have seen that the worthymodestand ingenious Mr. Robert Dodsleyhad taste enough to perceive its uncommon meritand thought it creditable tohave a share in it. The fact isthat at a future conferencehe bargained forthe whole property of itfor which he gave Johnson ten guineas; who told me"I might perhaps have accepted of less; but that Paul Whitehead had alittle before got ten guineas for a poem; and I would not take less than PaulWhitehead."

I may here observethat Johnson appeared to me to under-value Paul Whiteheadupon every occasion when he was mentionedandin my opiniondid not do himjustice; but when it is considered that Paul Whitehead was a member of a riotousand profane clubwe may account for Johnson's having a prejudice against him.Paul Whitehead wasindeedunfortunate in being not only slighted by Johnsonbut violently attacked by Churchillwho utters the following imprecation: -

"May I (can worse disgrace on manhood fall?)

Be born a Whiteheadand baptized a Paul!" -

yet I shall never be persuaded to think meanly of the authour of so brilliantand pointed a satire as "MANNERS."

Johnson's "London" was published in May1738; * and it isremarkablethat it came out on the same morning with Pope's satireentitled"1738;" so that England had at once its Juvenal and Horace as poeticalmonitors. The Reverend Dr. Douglasnow Bishop of Salisburyto whom I amindebted for some obliging communicationswas then a student at Oxfordandremembers well the effect which "London" produced. Every body wasdelighted with it; and there being no name to itthe first buz of the literarycircle was"here is an unknown poetgreater even than Pope." And itis recorded in the Gentleman's Magazine of that year*(2) that it "got tothe second edition in the course of a week." -

* Sir John Hawkinsp. 86tells us"The event is antedatedin thepoem of 'London;' but in every particularexcept the difference of a yearwhatis there said of the departure of Thalesmust be understood of Savageandlooked upon as true history. " This conjecture isI believeentirelygroundless. I have been assured that Johnson said he was not so much asacquainted with Savagewhen he wrote his "London." If the departurementioned in it was the departure of Savagethe event was not antedated butforeseen; for "London" was published in May1738and Savage did notset out for Wales till July1739. However well Johnson could defend thecredibility of second sighthe did not pretend that he himself was possessed ofthat faculty.

[The assertion that Johnson was not even acquainted with Savagewhen hepublished his "LONDON" may be doubtful. Johnson took leave of Savagewhen he went to Wales in 1739and must have been acquainted with him beforethat period. See his Life of Savage.- A. CHALMERS.]

*(2) Page 269. -

One of the warmest patrons of this poem on its first appearance was GENERALOGLETHORPEwhose "strong benevolence of soul" was unabated during thecourse of a very long life; though it is painful to thinkthat he had but toomuch reason to become cold and callousand discontented with the worldfromthe neglect which he experienced of his publick and private worthby those inwhose power it was to gratify so gallant a veteran with marks of distinction.This extraordinary person was as remarkable for his learning and tasteas forhis other eminent qualities; and no man was more promptactiveand generousin encouraging merit. I have heard Johnson gratefully acknowledgein hispresencethe kind and effectual support which he gave to his"London" though unacquainted with its author.

POPEwho then filled the poetical throne without a rivalit may reasonablybe presumedmust have been particularly struck by the sudden appearance of sucha poet; andto his creditlet it be rememberedthat his feelings and conducton the occasion were candid and liberal. He requested Mr. Richardsonson of thepainterto endeavour to find out who this new authour was. Mr. Richardsonafter some inquiryhaving informed him that he had discovered only that hisname was Johnsonand that he was some obscure manPope said"He willsoon be deterre. " * We shall presently seefrom a note written by Pope*(2) that he was himself afterwards more successful in his inquiries than hisfriend. -

* Sir Joshua Reynoldsfrom the information of the younger Richardson.

*(2) [See Aetat. 30.- M.] -

That in this justly-celebrated poem may be found a few rhymes which thecritical precision of English prosody at this day would disallowcannot bedenied; but with this small imperfectionwhich in the general blaze of itsexcellence is not perceivedtill the mind has subsided into cool attentionitisundoubtedlyone of the noblest productions in our languageboth forsentiment and expression. The nation was then in that ferment against the Courtand the Ministrywhich some years after ended in the downfall of Sir RobertWalpole; and as it has been saidthat Tories are Whigs when out of placeandWhigs Tories when in place; soas a Whig Administration ruled with what forceit coulda Tory Opposition had all the animation and all the eloquence ofresistance to poweraided by the common topicks of patriotismlibertyandindependence! Accordinglywe find in Johnson's "London" the mostspirited invectives against tyranny and oppressionthe warmest predilection forhis own countryand the purest love of virtue; interspersed with traits of hisown particular character and situationnot omitting his prejudices as a"true-born Englishman" * not only against foreign countriesbutagainst Ireland and Scotland. On some of these topicks I shall quote a fewpassages: -

"The cheated nation's happy fav'rites see;

Mark whom the great caresswho frown on me." -

"Has heaven reserv'din pity to the poor

No pathless wasteor undiscover'd shore?

No secret island in the boundless main?

No peaceful desart yet unclaim'd by Spain?

Quick let us risethe happy seats explore

And bear Oppression's insolence no more." -

"Howwhen competitors like these contend

Can surly Virtue hope to find a friend?" -

"This mournful truth is every where confess'd


* It ishoweverremarkablethat he uses the epithetwhich undoubtedlysince the union between England and Scotlandought to denominate the natives ofboth parts of our island

"Was early taught a BRITON's right to prize." -

We may easily conceive with what feeling a great mind like hiscramped andgalled by narrow circumstancesuttered this last linewhich he marked bycapitals. The whole of the poem is eminently excellentand there are in it suchproofs of a knowledge of the worldand of a mature acquaintance with lifeascannot be contemplated without wonderwhen we consider that he was then only inhis twenty-ninth yearand had yet been so little in the "busy haunts ofmen."

Yetwhile we admire the poetical excellence of this poemcandour obliges usto allowthat the flame of patriotism and zeal for popular resistance withwhich it is fraughthad no just cause. There wasin truthno"oppression;" the "nation" was not "cheated." SirRobert Walpole was a wise and a benevolent ministerwho thought that thehappiness and prosperity of a commercial country like ourswould be bestpromoted by peacewhich he accordingly maintained with creditduring a verylong period. Johnson himself afterwards honestly acknowledged the merit ofWalpolewhom he called "a fixed star;" while he characterised hisopponentPittas "a meteor." But Johnson's juvenile poem wasnaturally impregnated with the fire of oppositionand upon every account wasuniversally admired.

Though thus elevated into fameand conscious of uncommon powershe had notthat bustling confidenceorI may rather saythat animated ambitionwhichone might have supposed would have urged him to endeavour at rising in life. Butsuch was his inflexible dignity of characterthat he could not stoop to courtthe great; without which hardly any man has made his way to a high station. Hecould not expect to produce many such works as his "LONDON" and hefelt the hardships of writing for bread; he wasthereforewilling to resumethe office of a schoolmasterso as to have a surethough moderate income forhis life; and an offer being made to him of the mastership of a school*provided he could obtain the degree of Master of ArtsDr. Adams was applied toby a common friendto know whether that could be granted him as a favour fromthe University of Oxford. But though he had made such a figure in the literaryworldit was then thought too great a favour to be asked. -

* In a billet written by Mr. Pope in the following yearthis school is saidto have been in Shropshire; but as it appears from a letter from Earl Gowerthat the trustees of it were "some worthy gentlemen in Johnson'sneighbourhood" I in my first edition suggested that Pope must have bymistakewritten Shropshireinstead of Staffordshire. But I have since beenobliged to Mr. Spearingattorney-at-lawfor the following information:-"William Adamsformerly citizen and haberdasher of Londonfounded aschool at Newportin the county of Salopby deed dated 27th November1656bywhich he granted the 'yearly sum of sixty pounds to such able and learnedschoolmasterfrom time to timebeing of godly life and conversationwhoshould have been educated at one of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridgeandhad taken the degree of Master of Artsand was well read in the Greek and Latintonguesas should be nominated from time to time by the said William Adamsduring his lifeand after the decease of the said William Adams by thegovernours (namelythe Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company of theCity of London) and their successors.' The manour and lands out of which therevenues for the maintenance of the school were to issue are situate at Knightonand Adbastonin the county of Stafford. " From the foregoing account ofthis foundationparticularly the circumstances of the salary being sixtypoundsand the degree of Master of Arts being a requisite qualification in theteacherit seemed probable that this was the school in contemplation; and thatLord Gower erroneously supposed that the gentlemen who possessed the landsoutof which the revenues issuedwere trustees of the charity.

Such was probable conjecture. But in the "Gentleman's Magazine" forMay1793there is a letter from Mr. Hennone of the masters of the school ofApplebyin Leicestershirein which he writes as follows:

"I compared time and circumstance togetherin order to discover whetherthe school in question might not be this of Appleby. Some of the trustees atthat period were 'worthy gentlemen of the neighbourhood of Lichfield.' Applebyitself is not far from the neighbourhood of Lichfield: the salarythe degreerequisitetogether with the time of electionall agreeing with the statutes ofAppleby. The electionas said in the letter'could not be delayed longer thanthe 11th of next month' which was the 11th of Septemberjust three monthsafter the annual audit-day of Appleby schoolwhich is always on the 11th ofJune; and the statutes enjoinne ullius praeceptorum electio diutius tribusmensibus moraretur&c.

"These I thought to be convincing proofs that my conjecture was notill-foundedand thatin a future edition of that bookthe circumstance mightbe recorded as fact.

"But what banishes every shadow of doubt is the Minute-book of theschoolwhich declares the head-mastership to be at that time VACANT."

I cannot omit returning thanks to this learned gentleman for the veryhandsome manner in which he has in that letter been so good as to speak of thiswork. -

Popewithout any knowledge of him but from his "London"recommended him to Earl Gowerwho endeavoured to procure for him a degree fromDublinby the following letter to a friend of Dean Swift: -


"MR. SAMUEL JOHNSON (author of LONDONa satireand some other poeticalpieces) is a native of this countryand much respected by some worthy gentlemenin his neighbourhoodwho are trustees of a charity-school now vacant; thecertain salary is sixty pounds a yearof which they are desirous to make himmaster; butunfortunatelyhe is not capable of receiving their bountywhichwould make him happy for lifeby not being a Master of Arts; whichby thestatutes of this schoolthe master of it must be.

"Now these gentlemen do me the honour to think that I have interestenough in youto prevail upon you to write to Dean Swiftto persuade theUniversity of Dublin to send a diploma to meconstituting this poor man Masterof Arts in their University. They highly extol the man's learning and probity;and will not be persuaded that the University will make any difficulty ofconferring such a favour upon a strangerif he is recommended by the Dean. Theysayhe is not afraid of the strictest examinationthough he is of so long ajourney; and will venture itif the Dean thinks it necessary; choosing ratherto die upon the roadthan be starved to death in translating for booksellers;which has been his only subsistence for some time past.

"I fear there is more difficulty in this affairthan those good-naturedgentlemen apprehended; especially as their election cannot be delayed longerthan the 11th of next month. If you see this matter in the same light that itappears to meI hope you will burn thisand pardon me for giving you so muchtrouble about an impracticable thing; butif you think there is a probabilityof obtaining the favour askedI am sure your humanityand propensity torelieve merit in distresswill incline you to serve the poor manwithout myadding any more to the trouble I have already given youthan assuring you thatI amwith great truthSir

"Your faithful servant


"TrenthamAug. 11739." -

It wasperhapsno small disappointment to Johnson that this respectableapplication had not the desired effect; yet how much reason has there beenbothfor himself and his countryto rejoice that it did not succeedas he mightprobably have wasted in obscurity those hours in which he afterwards producedhis incomparable works.

About this time he made one other effort to emancipate himself from thedrudgery of authourship. He applied to Dr. Adamsto consult Dr. Smalbroke ofthe Commonswhether a person might be permitted to practise as an advocatetherewithout a doctor's degree in Civil Law. "I am (said he) a totalstranger to these studies; but whatever is a professionand maintains numbersmust be within the reach of common abilitiesand some degree of industry."Dr. Adams was much pleased with Johnson's design to employ his talents in thatmannerbeing confident he would have attained to great eminence. AndindeedIcannot conceive a man better qualified to make a distinguished figure as alawyer; forhe would have brought to his profession a rich store of variousknowledgean uncommon acutenessand a command of languagein which few couldhave equalledand none have surpassed him. He who could display eloquence andwit in defence of the decision of the House of Commons upon Mr. Wilkes'selection for Middlesexand of the unconstitutional taxation of ourfellow-subjects in Americamust have been a powerful advocate in any cause. Butherealsothe want of a degree was an insurmountable bar.

He wasthereforeunder the necessity of persevering in that courseintowhich he had been forced; and we findthat his proposal from Greenwich to Mr.Cavefor a translation of Father Paul Sarpi's Historywas accepted. * -

* In the Weekly MiscellanyOctober 211738there appeared the followingadvertisement: "Just publishedproposals for printing the History of theCouncil of Trenttranslated from the Italian of Father Paul Sarpi; with theAuthour's Lifeand Notes theologicalhistoricaland criticalfrom the Frenchedition of Dr. Le Courayer. To which are addedObservations on the HistoryandNotes and Illustrations from various Authoursboth printed and manuscript. ByS. Johnson. 1. The work will consist of two hundred sheetsand be two volumesin quartoprinted on good paper and letter. 2. The price will be 18s. eachvolumeto be paidhalf a guinea at the delivery of the first volumeand therest at the delivery of the second volume in sheets. 3. Twopence to be abatedfor every sheet less than two hundred. It may be had on a large paperin threevolumesat the price of three guineas; one to be paid at the time ofsubscribinganother at the delivery of the firstand the rest at the deliveryof the other volumes. The work is now in the pressand will be diligentlyprosecuted. Subscriptions are taken in by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-MallMr.Rivingtonin St. Paul's Churchyardby E. Cave at St. John's Gateand theTranslatorat No. 6in Castle-streetby Cavendish-square." -

Some sheets of this translation were printed offbut the design was dropt;for it happenedoddly enoughthat another person of the name of SamuelJohnsonLibrarian of St. Martin's in the Fieldsand Curate of that parishengaged in the same undertakingand was patronized by the Clergyparticularlyby Dr. Pearceafterwards Bishop of Rochester. Several light skirmisher passedbetween the rival translatorsin the news-papers of the day; and theconsequence was that they destroyed each otherfor neither of them went on withthe work. It is much to be regrettedthat the able performance of thatcelebrated genius FRA PAOLOlost the advantage of being incorporated intoBritish Literature by the masterly hand of Johnson.

I have in my possessionby the favour of Mr. John Nicholsa paper inJohnson's hand-writingentitled "Account between Mr. Edward Cave and Sam.Johnsonin relation to a version of Father Paul&c. begun August the 2d1738;" by which it appearsthat from that day to the 21st of April1739Johnson received for this work 49l 7s. in sums of onetwothreeand sometimesfour guineas at a timemost frequently two. And it is curious to observe theminute and scrupulous accuracy with which Johnson had pasted upon it a slip ofpaperwhich he has entitled "Small account" and which contains onearticle"Sept. 9thMr. Cave laid down 2s. 6d. " There is subjoinedto this accounta list of some subscribers to the workpartly in Johnson'shand-writingpartly in that of another person; and there follows a leaf or twoon which are written a number of characters which have the appearance of a shorthandwhichperhapsJohnson was then trying to learn. -




"I DID not care to detain your servant while I wrote an answer to yourletterin which you seem to insinuate that I had promised more than I am readyto perform. If I have raised your expectations by any thing that may haveescaped my memoryI am sorry; and if you remind me of itshall thank you forthe favour. If I made fewer alterations than usual in the Debatesit was onlybecause there appearedand still appears to beless need of alteration. Theverses to Lady Firebrace * may be had when you pleasefor you know that such asubject neither deserves much thoughtnor requires it.

"The Chinese stories *(2) may be had folded down when you please tosendin which I do not recollect that you desired any alteration to be made.

"An answer to another query I am very willing to writeand hadconsulted with you about it last nightif there had been time; for I think itthe most proper way of inviting such a correspondence as may be an advantage tothe papernot a load upon it.

"As to the Prize Versesa backwardness to determine their degrees ofmerit is not peculiar to me. You mayif you pleasestill have what I can say;but I shall engage with little spirit in an affairwhich I shall hardly end tomy own satisfactionand certainly not to the satisfaction of the partiesconcerned. *(3)

"As to Father PaulI have not yet been just to my proposalbut havemet with impedimentswhichI hopeare now at an end; and if you find theprogress hereafter not such as you have a right to expectyou can easilystimulate a negligent translator.

"If any or all of these have contributed to your discontentI willendeavour to remove it; and desire you to propose the question to which you wishfor an answer.

"I amSir

"Your humble servant


* They afterwards appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine with this title-"Verses to Lady Firebraceat Bury Assizes."

*(2) Du Halde's Description of China was then publishing by Mr. Cave inweekly numberswhence Johnson was to select pieces for the embellishment of theMagazine.- NICHOLS.

*(3) The premium of forty pounds proposed for the best poem on the DivineAttributes is here alluded to.- NICHOLS. -


[No date. ]


"I AM pretty much of your opinionthat the Commentary cannot beprosecuted with any appearance of success; for as the names of the authoursconcerned are of more weight in the performance than its own intrinsick meritthe publick will be soon satisfied with it. And I think the Examen should bepushed forward with the utmost expedition. Thus'This day&c. An Examen ofMr. Pope's Essay&c. containing a succinct Account of the Philosophy of Mr.Leibnitz on the System of the Fatalistswith a Confutation of their Opinionsand an Illustration of the Doctrine of Free-will;' [with what else you thinkproper.]

"It willabove allbe necessary to take noticethat it is a thingdistinct from the Commentary.

"I was so far from imagining they stood still* that I conceived themto have a good deal beforehandand therefore was less anxious in providing themmore. But if ever they stand still on my accountit must doubtless be chargedto me; and whatever else shall be reasonableI shall not oppose; but beg asuspense of judgement till morningwhen I must entreat you to send me a dozenproposalsand you shall then have copy to spare.

"I amSir



"Pray muster up the Proposals if you canor let the boy recall themfrom the booksellers." -

* The Compositors in Mr. Cave's printing-officewho appeared by this letterto have then waited for copy.- NICHOLS. -

But although he corresponded with Mr. Cave concerning a translation ofCrousaz's Examen of Pope's Essay on Manand gave advice as one anxious for itssuccessI was long ago convinced by a perusal of the Prefacethat thistranslation was erroneously ascribed to him; and I have found this pointascertainedbeyond all doubtby the following article in Dr. Birch'sManuscripts in the British Museum: -


"Versionem tuam Examinis Crousaziani jam perlegi. Summam styli etelegantiamet in re difficillima proprietatemadmiratus.

"Dabam Novemb. 27 1738." * -

* Birch MSS. Brit. Mus. 4323. -

Indeed Mrs. Carter has lately acknowledged to Mr. Sewardthat she was thetranslator of the "Examen."

It is remarkablethat Johnson's last quoted letter to Mr. Cave concludeswith a fair confession that he had not a dinner; and it is no less remarkablethat though in this state of want himselfhis benevolent heart was notinsensible to the necessities of an humble labourer in literatureas appearsfrom the very next letter: -


[No date. ]


"You may remember I have formerly talked with you about a MilitaryDictionary. The eldest Mr. Macbeanwho was with Mr. Chambershas very goodmaterials for such a workwhich I have seenand will do it at a very low rate.* I think the terms of War and Navigation might be comprisedwith goodexplanationsin one 8vo. Picawhich he is willing to do for twelve shillings asheetto be made up a guinea at the second impression. If you think on itIwill wait on you with him.

"I amSir

"Your humble servant


"Pray lend me Topsel on Animals." -

* This book was published. -

I must not omit to mentionthat this Mr. Macbean was a native of Scotland.

In the Gentleman's Magazine of this yearJohnson gave a Life of Father Paul;(@) and he wrote the Preface to the Volume(+) whichthough prefixed to itwhen boundis always published with the Appendixand is therefore the lastcomposition belonging to it. The ability and nice adaptation with which he coulddraw up a prefatory addresswas one of his peculiar excellencies.

It appears toothat he paid a friendly attention to Mrs. Elizabeth Carter;for in a letter from Mr. Cave to Dr. BirchNovember 28this yearI find"Mr. Johnson advises Miss C. to undertake a translation of Boethius deCons. because there is prose and verseand to put her name to it whenpublished." This advice was not followed; probably from an apprehensionthat the work was not sufficiently popular for an extensive sale. How wellJohnson himself

could have executed a translation of this philosophical poetwe may judgefrom the following specimen which he has given in the Rambler: (Motto to No. 7.)-

"O qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas

Terrarum coelique sator!-

Disjice terrenae nebulas et pondera molis

Atque tuo splendore mica! Tu namque serenum

Tu requies tranquilla piis. Te cernere finis

Principiumvectorduxsemitaterminusidem." -

"O Thou whose power o'er moving worlds presides

Whose voice createdand whose wisdom guides

On darkling man in pure effulgence shine

And cheer the clouded mind with light divine.

'Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast

With silent confidence and holy rest;

From theegreat God! we springto thee we tend

Pathmotiveguideoriginaland end!"

1739: AETAT. 30 -

In 1739beside the assistance which he gave to the Parliamentary Debateshis writings in the Gentleman's Magazine were"The Life ofBoerhaave" (@) in which it is to be observedthat he discovers that loveof chymistry which never forsook him; "An Appeal to the Publick in behalfof the Editor;" (+) "An Address to the Reader;" (+) "AnEpigram both in Greek and Latin to Eliza" (@) and also English verses toher; (@) and"A Greek Epigram to Dr. Birch." (@) It has beenerroneously supposedthat an Essay published in that Magazine this yearentitled "The Apotheosis of Milton" was written by Johnson; and onthat supposition it has been improperly inserted in the edition of his works bythe Booksellersafter his decease. Were there no positive testimony as to thispointthe style of the performanceand the name of Shakspeare not beingmentioned in an Essay professedly reviewing the principal English poetswouldascertain it not to be the production of Johnson. But there is here no occasionto resort to internal evidence; for my Lord Bishop of Salisbury (Dr. Dougles)has assured methat it was written by Guthrie. His separate publications were"A Complete Vindication of the Licensers of the Stagefrom the maliciousand scandalous Aspersions of Mr. BrookeAuthour of Gustavus Vasa" (@)being an ironical Attack upon them for their Suppression of that Tragedy; and"Marmor Norfolciense; or an Essay on an ancient prophetical Inscriptioninmonkish Rhymelately discovered near Lynne in Norfolkby PROBUSBRITANNICUS." (@) In this performancehein a feigned inscriptionsupposed to have been found in Norfolkthe county of Sir Robert Walpolethenthe obnoxious prime minister of this countryinveighs against the Brunswicksuccessionand the measures of government consequent upon it. * To thissupposed prophecy he added a Commentarymaking each expression apply to thetimes with warm Anti-Hanoverian zeal. -

* The Inscription and the Translation of it are preserved in the LondonMagazine for the year 1739p. 244. -

This anonymous pamphletI believedid not make so much noise as wasexpectedandthereforehad not a very extensive circulation. Sir John Hawkinsrelatesthat "warrants were issuedand messengers employed to apprehendthe author; whothough he had forborne to subscribe his name to the pamphletthe vigilance of those in pursuit of him had discovered;" and we areinformedthat he lay concealed in Lambethmarsh till the scent after him grewcold. Thishoweveris altogether without foundation; for Mr. Steeleone ofthe Secretaries of the Treasurywho amidst a variety of important businesspolitely obliged me with his attention to my enquiryinformed methat "hedirected every possible search to be made in the records of the Treasury andSecretary of State's Officebut could find no trace whatever of any warranthaving been issued to apprehend the authour of this pamphlet."

"Marmor Norfolciense" became exceedingly scarceso that I for manyyears endeavoured in vain to procure a copy of it. At last I was indebted to themalice of one of Johnson's numerous petty adversarieswhoin 1775published anew edition of it"with Notes and a Dedication to SAMUEL JOHNSONLL.D. byTRIBUNUS;" in which some puny scribbler invidiously attempted to found uponit a charge of inconsistency against its authorbecause he had accepted of apension from his present Majesty and had written in support of the measures ofgovernment. As a mortification to such impotent maliceof which there are somany instances towards men of eminenceI am happy to relatethat this telumimbelle did not reach its exalted objecttill about a year after it thusappearedwhen I mentioned it to himsupposing that he knew of therepublication. To my surprise he had not yet heard of it. He requested me to godirectly and get it for himwhich I did. He looked at it and laughedandseemed to be much diverted with the feeble efforts of his unknown adversarywhoI hopeis alive to read this account. "Now (said he) here is somebodywho thinks he has vexed me sadly; yetif it had not been for youyou rogueIshould probably never have seen it."

As Mr. Pope's note concerning Johnsonalluded to in a former pagerefersboth to his "London" and his "Marmor Norfolciense" I havedeferred inserting it till now. I am indebted for it to Dr. Percythe Bishop ofDromorewho permitted me to copy it from the original in his possession. It waspresented to his Lordship by Sir Joshua Reynoldsto whom it was given by theson of Mr. Richardson the painterthe person to whom it is addressed. I havetranscribed it with minute exactnessthat the peculiar mode of writingandimperfect spelling of that celebrated poetmay be exhibited to the curious inliterature. It justifies Swift's epithet of "papersparing Pope" forit is written on a slip no larger than a common message-cardand was sent toMr. Richardsonalong with the imitation of Juvenal.

"This is imitated by one Johnson who put in for a Publick-school inShropshire* but was disappointed. He has an infirmity of the convulsive kindthat attacks him sometimesso as to make Him a sad Spectacle. Mr. P. from theMerit of This Work which was all the knowledge he had of Him endeavour'd toserve Him without his own application; & wrote to my Ld. gorebut he didnot succeed. Mr. Johnson published afterwds another Poem in Latin with Notes thewhole very Humerous call'd the Norfolk Prophecy.

"P." -

* See earlier note"In a billet written by Mr. Pope..." -

Johnson had been told of this note; and Sir Joshua Reynolds informed him ofthe compliment which it containedbutfrom delicacyavoided shewing him thepaper itself. When Sir Joshua observed to Johnson that he seemed very desirousto see Pope's notehe answered"Who would not be proud to have such a manas Pope so solicitous in enquiring about him?"

The infirmity to which Mr. Pope alludesappeared to me alsoas I haveelsewhere * observedto be of the convulsive kindand of the nature of thatdistemper called St. Vitus's dance; and in this opinion I am confirmed by thedescription which Sydenham gives of that disease. "This disorder is a kindof convulsion. It manifests itself by halting or unsteadiness of one of thelegswhich the patient draws after him like an ideot. If the hand of the sameside be applied to the breastor any other part of the bodyhe cannot keep ita moment in the same posturebut it will be drawn into a different one by aconvulsionnotwithstanding all his efforts to the contrary." Sir JoshuaReynoldshoweverwas of a different opinionand favoured me with thefollowing paper. -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (Introduction). -

"Those motions or tricks of Dr. Johnson are improperly calledconvulsions. He could sit motionlesswhen he was told so to doas well as anyother man. My opinion isthat it proceeded from a habit * which he had indulgedhimself inof accompanying his thoughts with certain untoward actionsandthose actions always appeared to me as if they were meant to reprobate some partof his past conduct. Whenever he was not engaged in conversationsuch thoughtswere sure to rush into his mind; andfor this reasonany companyanyemployment whateverhe preferred to being alone. The great business of his life(he said) was to escape from himself; this disposition he considered as thedisease of his mindwhich nothing cured but company. -

* [Sir Joshua Reynolds's motion on this subject is confirmed by what Johnsonhimself said to a young ladythe niece of his friend Christopher Smart. See anote by Mr. Boswell on some particulars communicated by Reynoldsunder March301783.- M.] -

"One instance of his absence of mind and particularityas it ischaracteristick of the manmay be worth relating. When he and I took a journeytogether into the Westwe visited the late Mr. Banksof Dorsetshire; theconversationturning upon pictureswhich Johnson could not well seeheretired to a corner of the roomstretching out his right leg as far as he couldreach before himthen bringing up his left legand stretching his right stillfurther on. The old gentleman observing himwent up to himand in a verycourteous manner assured himthough it was not a new housethe flooring wasperfectly safe. The Doctor started from his reverie like a person waked out ofhis sleepbut spoke not a word."

While we are on this subjectmy readers may not be displeased with anotheranecdotecommunicated to me by the same friendfrom the relation of Mr.Hogarth.

Johnson used to be a pretty frequent visitor at the house of Mr. Richardsonauthour of Clarissaand other novels of extensive reputation. Mr. Hogarth cameone day to see Richardsonsoon after the execution of Dr. Cameronfor havingtaken arms for the house of Stuart in 1745-6; and being a warm partisan ofGeorge the Secondhe observed to Richardsonthat certainly there must havebeen some very unfavourable circumstances lately discovered in this particularcasewhich had induced the King to approve of an execution for rebellion solong after the time when it was committedas this had the appearance of puttinga man to death in cold blood* and was very unlike his Majesty's usualclemency. While he was talkinghe perceived a person standing at a window inthe roomshaking his headand rolling himself about in a strange ridiculousmanner. He concluded that he was an ideotwhom his relations had put under thecare of Mr. Richardsonas a very good man. To his great surprizehoweverthisfigure stalked forwards to where he and Mr. Richardson were sittingand all atonce took up the argumentand burst out into an invective against George theSecondas onewhoupon all occasionswas unrelenting and barbarous;mentioning many instancesparticularlythat when an officer of high rank hadbeen acquitted by a Court MartialGeorge the Second had with his own handstruck his name off the list. In shorthe displayed such a power of eloquencethat Hogarth looked at him with astonishmentand actually imagined that thisideot had been at the moment inspired. Neither Hogarth nor Johnson were madeknown to each other at this interview. -

* Impartial posterity mayperhapsbe as little inclined as Dr. Johnson wasto justify the uncommon rigour exercised in the case of Dr. Archibald Cameron.He was an amiable and truly honest man; and his offence was owing to a generousthough mistaken principle of duty. Being obligedafter 1746to give up hisprofession as a physicianand to go into foreign partshe was honoured withthe rank of Colonelboth in the French and Spanish service. He was a son of theancient and respectable family of Cameronof Lochiel; and his brotherwho wasthe Chief of that brave clandistinguished himself by moderation and humanitywhile the Highland army marched victorious through Scotland. It is remarkable ofthis Chiefthat though he had earnestly remonstrated against the attempt ashopelesshe was of too heroick a spirit not to venture his life and fortune inthe causewhen personally asked by him whom he thought his Prince.

1740: AETAT. 31 -

In 1740 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine the "Preface" (+)"the Life of Admiral Blake" (@) and the first parts of those of"Sir Francis Drake" (@) and "Philip Barretier" (@) * bothwhich he finished the following year. He also wrote an "Essay onEpitaphs" (@) and an "Epitaph on Phillipsa Musician" (@)which was afterwards published with some other pieces of hisin Mrs. Williams'sMiscellanies. This Epitaph is so exquisitely beautifulthat I remember evenLord Kamesstrangely prejudiced as he was against Dr. Johnsonwas compelled toallow it very high praise. It has been ascribed to Mr. Garrickfrom itsappearing at first with the signature G; but I have heard Mr. Garrick declarethat it was written by Dr. Johnsonand give the following account of the mannerin which it was composed. Johnson and he were sitting together; whenamongstother thingsGarrick repeated an Epitaph upon this Phillips by a Dr. Wilkesinthese words: -

"Exalted soul! whose harmony could please

The love-sick virginand the gouty ease;

Could jarring discordlike Amphionmove

To beauteous order and harmonious love;

Rest here in peacetill angels bid thee rise

And meet thy blessed Saviour in the skies." -

* [To which in 1742 he made very large additionswhich have never yet beenincorporated in any edition of Barretier's Life.- A. CHALMERS.] -

Johnson shook his head at these common-place funeral linesand said toGarrick"I thinkDavyI can make a better." Then stirring about histea for a little whilein a state of meditationhe almost extempore producedthe following verses: -

"Phillipswhose touch harmonious could remove

The pangs of guilty power or hapless love;

Rest heredistress'd by poverty no more

Here find that calm thou gav'st so oft before;

Sleepundisturb'dwithin this peaceful shrine

Till angels wake thee with a note like thine!" * -

* [The epitaph of Phillips is in the porch of Wolverhampton church. The prosepart of it is curious:

"Near this place lies


Whose absolute contempt of riches

and inimitable performances upon the violin

made him the admiration of all that knew him.

He was born in Wales

made the tour of Europe

andafter the experience of both kinds of fortune

Died in 1732."

Mr. Garrick appears not to have recited the verses correctlythe originalbeing as follows. One of the various readings is remarkableas it is the germof Johnson's concluding line:

"Exalted soulthy various sounds could please

The love-sick virginand the gouty ease;

Could jarring crowdslike old Amphionmove

To beauteous order and harmonious love;

Rest here in peacetill Angels bid thee rise

And meet thy SAVIOUR's consort in the skies."

Dr. Wilkesthe authour of these lineswas a Fellow of Trinity CollegeinOxfordand rector of Pitchfordin Shropshire: he collected materials for ahistory of that countyand is spoken of by Brown Willisin his History ofMitred Abbiesvol. iip. 189. But he was a native of Staffordshire; and to theantiquities of that county was his attention chiefly confined. Mr. Shaw has hadthe use of his papers.- BLAKEWAY.] -

At the same time that Mr. Garrick favoured me with this anecdotehe repeateda very pointed Epigram by Johnsonon George the Second and Colley Cibberwhichhas never yet appearedand of which I know not the exact date. Dr. Johnsonafterwards gave it to me himself: -

"Augustus still survives in Maro's strain

And Spenser's verse prolongs Eliza's reign;

Great George's acts let tuneful Cibber sing;

For Nature form'd the Poet for the King."

1741: AETAT. 32 -

In 1741 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine "the Preface" (+)"Conclusion of his lives of Drake and Barretier" (@) "A freetranslation of the Jests of Hierocleswith an Introduction;" (+) andIthinkthe following pieces: "Debate on the Proposal of parliament toCromwellto assume the Title of Kingabridgedmodifiedand digested;"(+) "Translation of Abbe Guyon's Dissertation on the Amazons;" (+)"Translation of Fontenelle's Panegyrick on Dr. Morin." (+) Two notesupon this appear to me undoubtedly his. He this yearand the two followingwrote the Parliamentary Debates. He told me himselfthat he was the solecomposer of them for those three years only. He was nothoweverpreciselyexact in his statementwhich he mentioned from hasty recollection; for it issufficiently evidentthat his composition of them began November 191740andended February 231742-3.

It appears from some of Cave's letters to Dr. Birchthat Cave had betterassistance for that branch of his Magazinethan has been generally supposed;and that he was indefatigable in getting it made as perfect as he could.

Thus 21st July1735"I trouble you with the inclosedbecause you saidyou could easily correct what is here given for Lord C__ld's speech. I beg youwill do so as soon as you can for mebecause the month is far advanced."

And 15th July1737"As you remember the debates so far as to perceivethe speeches already printed are not exactI beg the favour that you willperuse the inclosedandin the best manner your memory will servecorrect themistaken passagesor add any thing that is omitted. I should be very glad tohave something of the Duke of N__le's speechwhich would be particularly ofservice.

"A gentleman has Lord Bathurst's speech to add something to."

And July 31744"You will see what stupidlowabominable stuff isput * upon your noble and learned friend's *(2) charactersuch as I shouldquite rejectand endeavour to do something better towards doing justice to thecharacter. But as I cannot expect to attain my desire in that respectit wouldbe a great satisfactionas well as an honour to our workto have the favour ofthe genuine speech. It is a method that several have been pleased to takeas Icould showbut I think myself under a restraint. I shall say so farthat Ihave had some by a third handwhich I understood well enough to come from thefirst; others by penny-postand others by the speakers themselveswho havebeen pleased to visit St. John's gateand show particular marks of their beingpleased." *(3) -

* I suppose in another compilation of the same kind.

*(2) DoubtlessLord Hardwick.

*(3) Birch's MSS. in the British Museum4302. -

There is no reasonI believeto doubt the veracity of Cave. It ishoweverremarkablethat none of these letters are in the years during which Johnsonalone furnished the Debatesand one of them is in the very year after he ceasedfrom that labour. Johnson told methat as soon as he found that the speecheswere thought genuinehe determined that he would write no more of them;"for he would not be accessary to the propagation of falsehood." Andsuch was the tenderness of his consciencethat a short time before his death heexpressed his regret for his having been the author of fictionswhich hadpassed for realities.

He nevertheless agreed with me in thinkingthat the debates which he hadframed were to be valued as orations upon questions of publick importance. Theyhave accordingly been collected in volumesproperly arrangedand recommendedto the notice of parliamentary speakers by a prefacewritten by no inferiorhand. * I musthoweverobservethat although there is in those debates awonderful store of political informationand very powerful eloquenceI cannotagree that they exhibit the manner of each particular speakeras Sir JohnHawkins seems to think. Butindeedwhat opinion can we have of his judgmentand taste in publick speakingwho presumes to giveas the characteristicks oftwo celebrated orators"the deep mouthed rancour of Pulteneyand theyelping pertinacity of Pitt." *(2) -

* I am assured that the editor is Mr. George Chalmerswhose commercial worksare well known and esteemed.

*(2) Hawkins's Life of Johnsonp. 100. -

This year I find that his tragedy of IRENE had been for some time ready forthe stageand that his necessities made him desirous of getting as much as hecould for itwithout delay; for there is the following letter from Mr. Cave toDr. Birchin the same volume of manuscripts in the British Museumfrom which Icopied those above quoted. They were most obligingly pointed out to me by SirWilliam Musgraveone of the Curators of that noble repository. -

"Sept. 91741.

"I HAVE put Mr. Johnson's play into Mr. Gray's * handsin order to sellit to himif he is inclined to buy it; but I doubt whether he will or not. Hewould dispose of the copyand whatever advantage may be made by acting it.Would your society*(2) or any gentlemanor body of men that you knowtakesuch a bargain? He and I are very unfit to deal with theatrical persons.Fleetwood was to have acted it last seasonbut Johnson's diffidence or *(3)prevented it." -

* A bookseller of London.

*(2) Not the Royal Society: but the Society for the encouragement oflearningof which Dr. Birch was a leading member. Their object wasto assistauthors in printing expensive works. It existed from about 1735 to 1746whenhaving incurred a considerable debtit was dissolved.

*(3) There is no erasure herebut a mere blank: to fill up which may be anexercise for ingenious conjecture. -

I have already mentioned that "Irene" was not brought into publicknotice till Garrick was manager of Drury-lane theatre.

1742: AETAT. 33 -

In 1742 * he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine the "Preface" (+)the "Parliamentary Debates" (@) "Essay on the Account of theConduct of the Duchess of Marlborough" (@) then the popular topick ofconversation. This Essay is a short but masterly performance. We find him in No.13 of his Ramblercensuring a profligate sentiment in that "Account:"and again insisting upon it strenuously in conversation." *(2) "AnAccount of the Life of Peter Burman" (@) I believe chiefly taken from aforeign publication; asindeedhe could not himself know much about Burman;"Additions to his Life of Barretier;" (@) "The Life ofSydenham" (@) afterwards prefixed to Dr. Swan's edition of his works;"Proposals for printing Bibliotheca Harleianaor a Catalogue of theLibrary of the Earl of Oxford." (@) His account of that celebratedcollection of booksin which he displays the importance to literatureof whatthe French call a catalogue raisonnewhen the subjects of it are extensive andvariousand it is executed with abilitycannot fail to impress all his readerswith admiration of his philological attainments. It was afterwards prefixed tothe first volume of the Cataloguein which the Latin accounts of books werewritten by him. He was employed in this business by Mr. Thomas Osborne thebooksellerwho purchased the library for 13000l. a sum which Mr. Oldys saysin one of his manuscriptswas not more than the binding of the books had cost;yetas Dr. Johnson assured methe slowness of the sale was suchthat therewas not much gained by it. It has been confidently relatedwith manyembellishmentsthat Johnson one day knocked Osborne down in his shopwith afolioand put his foot upon his neck. The simple truth I had from Johnsonhimself. "Sirhe was impertinent to meand I beat him. But it was not inhis shop: it was in my own chamber." -

* [From one of his letters to a friendwritten in June1742it should seemthat he then purposed to write a play on the subject of Charles the TwelfthofSwedenand to have it ready for the ensuing winter. The passage alluded tohoweveris somewhat ambiguous; and the work which he then had in contemplationmay have been a history of that monarch.- M.]

*(2) Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit.p. 167 [Sept. 101773]. -

A very diligent observer may trace him where we should not easily suppose himto be found. I have no doubt that he wrote the little abridgement entitled"Foreign History" in the Magazine for December. To prove itI shallquote the Introduction. "As this is that season of the year in which Naturemay be said to command a suspension of hostilitiesand which seems intendedbyputting a short stop to violence and slaughterto afford time for malice torelentand animosity to subside; we can scarce expect any other account than ofplansnegociations and treatiesof proposals for peaceand preparations forwar." As also this passage: "Let those who despise the capacity of theSwisstell us by what wonderful policyor by what happy conciliation ofinterestsit is brought to passthat in a body made up of differentcommunities and different religionsthere should be no civil commotionsthoughthe people are so war-likethat to nominate and raise an army is thesame."

I am obliged to Mr. Astle for his ready permission to copy the two followinglettersof which the originals are in his possession. Their contents shew thatthey were written about this timeand that Johnson was now engaged in preparingan historical account of the British Parliament. -


[No date ].


"I BELIEVE I am going to write a long letterand have therefore taken awhole sheet of paper. The first thing to be written about is our historicaldesign.

"You mentioned the proposal of printing in numbersas an alteration inthe schemebut I believe you mistooksome way or othermy meaning; I had noother view than that you might rather print too many of five sheets than of fiveand thirty.

"With regard to what I shall say on the manner of proceedingI wouldhave it understood as wholly indifferent to meand my opinion onlynot myresolution. Emptoris sit eligere.

"I think the insertion of the exact dates of the most important eventsin the marginor of so many events as may enable the reader to regulate theorder of facts with sufficient exactnessthe proper medium between a journalwhich has regard only to timeand a history which ranges facts according totheir dependence on each otherand postpones or anticipates according to theconvenience of narration. I think the work ought to partake of the spirit ofhistorywhich is contrary to minute exactnessand of the regularity of ajournalwhich is inconsistent with spirit. For this reasonI neither admitnumbers or datesnor reject them.

"I am of your opinion with regard to placing most of the resolutions&c. in the marginand think we shall give the most complete account ofParliamentary proceedings that can be contrived. The naked paperswithout anhistorical treatise interwovenrequire some other book to make them understood.I will date the succeeding facts with some exactnessbut I think in the margin.You told me on Saturday that I had received money on this workand found setdown 13l. 2s. 6d. reckoning the half guinea of last Saturday. As you hinted tome that you had many calls for moneyI would not press you too hardandtherefore shall desire onlyas I send it intwo guineas for a sheet of copy;the rest you may pay me when it may be more convenient; and even by this sheetpayment I shallfor some timebe very expensive.

"The Life of Savage I am ready to go upon; and in Great Primerand PicanotesI reckon on sending in half a sheet a day; but the money for that shalllikewise lye by in your hands till it is done. With the debatesshall not Ihave business enough? if I had but good pens.

"Towards Mr. Savage's Life what more have you got? I would willinglyhave his trial&c. and know whether his defence be at Bristoland wouldhave his collection of Poemson account of the Preface;- "The PlainDealer"- * all the magazines that have any thing of his or relating tohim.

"I thought my letter would be longbut it is now ended; and I amSir



"The boy found me writing this almost in the darkwhen I could notquite easily read yours.

"I have read the Italian:- nothing in it is well.

"I had no notion of having anything for the Inscription. *(2) I hope youdon't think I kept it to extort a price. I could think of nothingtill to-day.If you could spare me another guinea for the historyI should take it verykindlyto-night; but if you do notI shall not think it an injury.- I amalmost well again." -

* "The Plain Dealer" was published in 1724and contained someaccount of Savage.

*(2) [Perhaps the Runick InscriptionGent. Mag. vol. xii. p. 132.- M.] -



"YOU did not tell me your determination about the Soldier's Letter*which I am confident was never printed. I think it will not do by itselfor inany other placeso well as the Mag. Extraordinary. If you will have it at allI believe you do not think I set it highand I will be glad if what you giveyou will give quickly.

"You need not be in care about something to printfor I have got theState Trialsand shall extract LayerAtterburyand Macclesfield from themand shall bring them to you in a fortnight; after which I will try to get theSouth Sea Report."

[No datenor signature. ] -

* I have not discovered what this was. -

I would also ascribe to him an "Essay on the Description of Chinafromthe French of Du Halde." (+)

1743: AETAT. 34 -

His writings in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1743arethe"Preface" (+) the "Parliamentary Debates" (+)"Considerations on the Dispute between Crousaz and Warburtonon Pope'sEssay on Man;" (+) in which while he defends Crousazhe shews an admirablemetaphysical acuteness and temperance in controversy; "Ad Lauram parituramEpigramma;" (@) * and"A latin Translation of Pope's Verses on hisGrotto;" (@) andas he could employ his pen with equal success upon asmall matter as a greatI suppose him to be the authour of an advertisement forOsborneconcerning the great Harleian Catalogue. -

* Angliacas inter pulcherrima Laura puellas

Mox uteri pondus depositura grave

AdsitLauratibi facilis Lucina dolenti

Neve tibi noceat praenituisse Deae.

Mr. Hecor was present when this Epigram was made impromptu. The first linewas proposed by Dr. Jamesand Johnson was called upon by the company to finishitwhich he instantly did.

[The following elegant Latin Odewhich appeared in the Gentleman's Magazinefor 1743(vol. xiii. p. 548) was many years ago pointed out to James BindleyEsq. as written by Johnsonand may safely be attributed to him.


VANAE sit artisit studio modus

Formosa virgo: sit speculo quies

Curamque quaerendi decoris

Mittesupervacuosque cultus. -

Ut fortuitis verna coloribus

Depicta vulgo rura magis placent

Nec invident horto nitenti

Divitis operosiores: -

Lenique fons cum murmure pulchrior

Obliquat ultro praecipitem fugam

Inter reluctantes lapilloset

Ducit aquas temere sequentes: -

Utque inter undasinter et arbores

Jam vere primo dulce strepunt aves

Et arte nulla gratiores

Ingeminant sine lege cantus: -

Nativa sic te gratiate nitor

Simplex decebitte veneres tuae;

Nudus Cupido suspicatur

Artifices nimis apparatus. -

Ergo fluentem tu; male sedula

Ne saeva inuras semper acu comam;

Nec sparsa odorato nitentes

Pulvere dedecores capillos; -

Quales nec olim vel Ptolemaeia

Jactabat uxorsidereo in choro

Utcunque devotae refulgent

Verticis exuviae decori; -

Nec diva matercum similem tuae

Mentita formamet pulchrior aspici

Permisit incomtas protervis

Fusa comas agitare ventis. -

In vol. xivp. 46of the same workan elegant Epigram was insertedinanswer to the foregoing Odewhich was written by Dr. Inyon of PulhaminNorfolka physicianand an excellent classical scholar:


O cui non potuitquia cultaplacere puella

Qui speras Musam posse placere tuam?- M.] -

But I should think myself much wantingboth to my illustrious friend and myreadersdid I not introduce herewith more than ordinary respectanexquisitely beautiful Odewhich has not been inserted in any of the collectionsof Johnson's poetrywritten by him at a very early periodas Mr. Hectorinforms meand inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine of this year. -


FRIENDSHIPpeculiar boon of heav'n

The noble mind's delight and pride

To men and angels only giv'n

To all the lower world deny'd. -

While loveunknown among the blest

Parent of thousand wild desires

The savage and the human breast

Torments alike with raging fires; -

With brightbut oft destructivegleam

Alike o'er all his lightnings fly;

Thy lambent glories only beam

Around the fav'rites of the sky. -

Thy gentle flows of guiltless joys

On fools and villains ne'er descend;

In vain for thee the tyrant sighs

And hugs a flatterer for a friend. -

Directress of the brave and just

O guide us through life's darksome way!

And let the tortures of mistrust

On selfish bosoms only prey. -

Nor shall thine ardour cease to glow

When souls to blissful climes remove:

What rais'd our virtue here below

Shall aid our happiness above. -

Johnson had now an opportunity of obliging his schoolfellow Dr. Jamesofwhom he once observed"no man brings more mind to his profession."James published this year his "Medicinal Dictionary" in three volumesfolio. Johnsonas I understood from himhad writtenor assisted in writingthe proposals for this work; and being very fond of the study of physickinwhich James was his masterhe furnished some of the articles. Hehowevercertainly wrote for it the Dedication to Dr. Mead(+) which is conceived withgreat addressto conciliate the patronage of that very eminent man. * -



"THAT the Medicinal Dictionary is dedicated to youis to be imputedonly to your reputation for superiour skill in those sciences which I haveendeavoured to explain and facilitate: and you arethereforeto consider thisaddressif it be agreeable to youas one of the rewards of merit; and ifotherwiseas one of the inconveniences of eminence.

"However you shall receive itmy design cannot be disappointed; becausethis publick appeal to your judgement will shew that I do not found my hopes ofapprobation upon the ignorance of my readersand that I fear his censure leastwhose knowledge is most extensive. I amSir

"Your most obedient humble servant

"R. JAMES." -

It has been circulatedI know not with what authenticitythat Johnsonconsidered Dr. Birch as a dull writerand said of him"Tom Birch is asbrisk as a bee in conversation; but no sooner does he take a pen in his handthan it becomes a torpedo to himand benumbs all his faculties." That theliterature of this country is much indebted to Birch's activity and diligencemust certainly be acknowledged. We have seen that Johnson honoured him with aGreek Epigram; and his correspondence with himduring many yearsproves thathe had no mean opinion of him. -


"ThursdaySept. 291743.


"I HOPE you will excuse me for troubling you on an occasion on which Iknow not whom else I can apply to; I am at a loss for the Lives and Charactersof Earl Stanhopethe two Craggsand the minister Sunderland; and beg that youwill inform [me] where I may find themand send my pamphlets&c. relatingto them to Mr. Cave to be perused for a few days bySir

"Your most humble servant


His circumstances were at this time embarrassed; yet his affection for hismother was so warmand so liberalthat he took upon himself a debt of herswhichthough small in itselfwas then considerable to him. This appears fromthe following letter which he wrote to Mr. Levettof Lichfieldthe original ofwhich lies now before me. -


"December 11743.


"I AM extremely sorry that we have encroached so much upon yourforbearance with respect to the interestwhich a great perplexity of affairshindered me from thinking of with that attention that I oughtand which I amnot immediately able to remit to youbut will pay it (I think twelve pounds)in two months. I look upon thisand on the future interest of that mortgageasmy own debt; and beg that you will be pleased to give me directions how to payitand not mention it to my dear mother. If it be necessary to pay this in lesstimeI believe I can do it; but I take two months for certaintyand beg ananswer whether you can allow me so much time. I think myself very much obligedto your forbearanceand shall esteem it a great happiness to be able to serveyou. I have great opportunities of dispersing any thing that you may think itproper to make publick. I will give a note for the moneypayable at the timementionedto any one here that you shall appoint. I amSir

"Your most obedient

"And most humble servant


"At Mr. Osborne'sbooksellerin Gray's Inn."

1744: AETAT. 3

It does not appear that he wrote anything in 1744 for the Gentleman'sMagazinebut the Preface.(+) His life of Barretier was now re-published in apamphlet by itself. But he produced one work this yearfully sufficient tomaintain the high reputation which he had acquired. This was "THE LIFE OFRICHARD SAVAGE" (@) a manof whom it is difficult to speak impartiallywithout wondering that he was for some time the intimate companion of Johnson;for his character * was marked by profligacyinsolenceand ingratitude: yetas he undoubtedly had a warm and vigorousthough unregulated mindhad seenlife in all its varietiesand been much in the company of the statesmen andwits of his timehe could communicate to Johnson an abundant supply of suchmaterials as his philosophical curiosity most eagerly desired; and as Savage'smisfortunes and misconduct had reduced him to the lowest state of wretchednessas a writer for breadhis visits to St. John's Gate naturally brought Johnsonand him together. *(2) -

* As a specimen of his temperI insert the following letter from him to anoble Lordto whom he was under great obligationsbut whoon account of hisbad conductwas obliged to discard him. The original was in the hands of thelate Francis Cockayne CustEsq. one of his Majesty's Counsel learned in thelaw:

"Right Honourable BRUTEand BOOBY

"I FIND you want (as Mr. __ is pleased to hint) to swear away my lifethat isthe life of your creditorbecause he asks you for a debt.- The Publickshall soon be acquainted with thisto judge whether you are not fitter to be anIrish Evidencethan to be an Irish Peer.- I defy and despise you.

"I am

"Your determined adversary

"R. S."

*(2) Sir John Hawkins gives the world to understandthat Johnson"being an admirer of genteel mannerswas captivated by the address anddemeanour of Savagewhoas to his exteriorwas to a remarkable degreeaccomplished."- Hawkins's Lifep. 52. But Sir John's notions of gentilitymust appear somewhat ludicrousfrom his stating the following circumstance aspresumptive evidence that Savage was a good swordsman: "That he understoodthe exercise of a gentleman's weaponmay be inferred from the use made of it inthat rash encounter which is related in his life." The dexterity herealluded to wasthat Savagein a nocturnal fit of drunkennessstabbed a man ata coffee-houseand killed him: for which he was tried at the Old Baileyandfound guilty of murder.

Johnsonindeeddescribes him as having "a grave and manly deportmenta solemn dignity of mien; but whichupon a nearer acquaintancesoftened intoan engaging easiness of manners." How highly Johnson admired him for thatknowledge which he himself so much cultivatedand what kindness he entertainedfor himappears from the following lines in the Gentleman's Magazine for April1738which I am assured were written by Johnson:


"Humani studium generis cui pectore fervet

O colat humanum te foveatque genus." -

It is melancholy to reflectthat Johnson and Savage were sometimes in suchextreme indigence* that they could not pay for a lodging; so that they havewandered together whole nights in the streets. *(2) Yet in these almostincredible scenes of distresswe may suppose that Savage mentioned many of theanecdotes with which Johnson afterwards enriched the life of his unhappycompanionand those of other Poets. -

* [The following striking proof of Johnson's extreme indigencewhen hepublished the Life of Savagewas communicated to Mr. Boswellby Mr. RichardStoweof Apsleyin Bedfordshirefrom the information of Mr. Walter Harteauthour of the Life of Gustavus Adolphus:

"Soon after Savage's Life was publishedMr. Harte dined with EdwardCaveand occasionally praised it. Soon aftermeeting himCave said'You madea man very happy t'other day.'- 'How could that be' says Harte; 'nobody wasthere but ourselves.' Cave answeredby reminding him that a plate of victualswas sent behind a screenwhich was to Johnsondressed so shabbilythat he didnot choose to appear; but on hearing the conversationhe was highly delightedwith the encomiums on his book."- M.]

*(2) [As Johnson was married before he settled in Londonand must havealways had a habitation for his wifesome readers have wonderedhow he evercould have been driven to stroll about with Savageall nightfor want of alodging. But it should be rememberedthat Johnsonat different periodshadlodgings in the vicinity of London; and his finances certainly would not admitof a double establishment. Whenthereforehe spent a convivial day in Londonand found it too late to return to any country residence he may occasionallyhave hadhaving no lodging in townhe was obliged to pass the night in themanner described above; forthough at that periodit was not uncommon for twomen to sleep togetherSavage it appearscould accommodate him with nothing buthis company in the open air.- The Epigram given abovewhich doubtless waswritten by Johnsonshews that their acquaintance commenced before April1738.See Aetat. 29note of Sir John Hawkinsp. 86.- M.] -

He told Sir Joshua Reynoldsthat one night in particularwhen Savage and hewalked round St. James's-square for want of a lodgingthey were not at alldepressed by their situation; but in high spirits and brimful of patriotismtraversed the square for several hoursinveighed against the ministerand"resolved they would stand by their country."

I am afraidhoweverthat by associating with Savagewho was habituated tothe dissipation and licentiousness of the townJohnsonthough his goodprinciples remained steadydid not entirely preserve that conductfor whichin days of greater simplicityhe was remarked by his friend Mr. Hector; but wasimperceptibly led into some indulgences which occasioned much distress to hisvirtuous mind.

That Johnson was anxious that an authentick and favourable account of hisextraordinary friend should first get possession of the publick attentionisevident from a letter which he wrote in the Gentleman's Magazine for August ofthe year preceding its publication. -


"AS your collections show how often you have owed the ornaments of yourpoetical pages to the correspondence of the unfortunate and ingenious Mr.SavageI doubt not but you have so much regard to his memory as to encourageany design that may have a tendency to the preservation of it from insults orcalumnies; and thereforewith some degree of assuranceintreat you to informthe publickthat his life will speedily be published by a person who wasfavoured with his confidenceand received from himself an account of most ofthe transactions which he proposes to mentionto the time of his retirement toSwansea in Wales.

"From that periodto his death in the prison of Bristolthe accountwill be continued from materials still less liable to objection; his ownlettersand those of his friendssome of which will be inserted in the workand abstracts of others subjoined in the margin.

"It may be reasonably imaginedthat others may have the same design;but as it is not credible that they can obtain the same materialsit must beexpected they will supply from invention the want of intelligence; and thatunder the title of 'The Life of Savage' they will publish only a novelfilledwith romantick adventuresand imaginary amours. You may thereforeperhapsgratify the lovers of truth and witby giving me leave to inform them in yourMagazinethat my account will be published in 8vo. by Mr. RobertsinWarwick-lane."

[No signature. ] -

In February1744it accordingly came forth from the shop of Robertsbetween whom and Johnson I have not traced any connectionexcept the casual oneof this publication. In Johnson's "Life of Savage" although it mustbe allowed that its moral is the reverse of- "Respicere exemplar vitaemorumque jubebo" a very useful lesson is inculcatedto guard men of warmpassions from a too free indulgence of them; and the various incidents arerelated in so clear and animated a mannerand illuminated throughout with somuch philosophythat it is one of the most interesting narratives in theEnglish language. Sir Joshua Reynolds told methat upon his return from Italyhe met with it in Devonshireknowing nothing of its authourand began to readit while he was standing with his arm leaning against a chimney-piece. It seizedhis attention so stronglythatnot being able to lay down the book till he hadfinished itwhen he attempted to movehe found his arm totally benumbed. Therapidity with which this work was composedis a wonderful circumstance. Johnsonhas been heard to say"I wrote forty-eight of the printed octavo pages ofthe Life of Savage at a sitting; but then I sat up all night." * -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit.p. 55 [Aug. 191773]. -

He exhibits the genius of Savage to the best advantagein the specimens ofhis poetry which he has selectedsome of which are of uncommon merit. Weindeedoccasionally find such vigour and such pointas might make us supposethat the generous aid of Johnson had been imparted to his friend. Mr. ThomasWarton made this remark to me; andin support of itquoted from the poementitled "The Bastard" a line in which the fancied superiority of one"stamped in Nature's mint with extasy" is contrasted with a regularlawful descendant of some great and ancient family: -

"No tenth transmitter of a foolish face." -

But the fact isthat this poem was published some years before Johnson andSavage were acquainted.

It is remarkablethat in this biographical disquisition there appears a verystrong symptom of Johnson's prejudice against players; a prejudice that may beattributed to the following causes: firstthe imperfection of his organswhichwere so defective that he was not susceptible of the fine impressions whichtheatrical excellence produces upon the generality of mankind; secondlythecold rejection of his tragedy; andlastlythe brilliant success of Garrickwho had been his pupilwho had come to London at the same time with himnot ina much more prosperous state than himselfand whose talents he undoubtedlyrated lowcompared with his own. His being outstripped by his pupil in the raceof immediate fameas well as of fortuneprobably made him feel someindignationas thinking that whatever might be Garrick's merits in his artthereward was too great when compared with what the most successful efforts ofliterary labour could attain. At all periods of his life Johnson used to talkcontemptuously of players; but in this work he speaks of them with peculiaracrimony; for whichperhapsthere was formerly too much reason from thelicentious and dissolute manners of those engaged in that profession. It is butjustice to addthat in our own time such a change has taken placethat thereis no longer room for such an unfavourable distinction.

His schoolfellow and friendDr. Taylortold me a pleasant anecdote ofJohnson's triumphing over his pupilDavid Garrick. When that great actor hadplayed some little time at Goodman's-fieldsJohnson and Taylor went to see himperformand afterwards passed the evening at a tavern with him and old Giffard.Johnsonwho was ever depreciating stage-playersafter censuring some mistakesin emphasiswhich Garrick had committed in the course of that night's actingsaid"the playersSirhave got a kind of rantwith which they run onwithout any regard either to accent or emphasis." Both Garrick and Giffardwere offended at this sarcasmand endeavoured to refute it; upon which Johnsonrejoined"Well nowI'll give you something to speakwith which you arelittle acquaintedand then we shall see how just my observation is. That shallbe the criterion. Let me hear you repeat the ninth Commandment'Thou shalt notbear false witness against thy neighbour.'" Both tried at itsaid Dr.Taylorand both mistook the emphasiswhich should be upon not and falsewitness. * Johnson put them rightand enjoyed his victory with great glee. -

* I suspect Dr. Taylor was inaccurate in this statement. The emphasis shouldbe equally upon shalt and notas both concur to form the negative injunction;and false witnesslike the other acts prohibited in the Decalogueshould notbe marked by any peculiar emphasisbut only be distinctly enunciated.

[A moderate emphasis should be placed on false. - KEARNEY.] -

His "Life of Savage" was no sooner publishedthan the followingliberal praise was given to itin "The Champion" a periodical paper:"This pamphlet iswithout flattery to its authouras just and wellwritten a piece as of its kind I ever saw; so that at the same time that ithighly deservesit certainly stands very little in need of this recommendation.As to the history of the unfortunate personwhose memoirs compose this workitis certainly penned with equal accuracy and spiritof which I am so much thebetter judgeas I know many of the facts mentioned to be strictly trueandvery fairly related. Besidesit is not only the story of Mr. Savagebutinnumerable incidents relating to other personsand other affairswhichrenders this a very amusingandwithala very instructive and valuableperformance. The authour's observations are shortsignificantand justas hisnarrative is remarkably smoothand well disposed. His reflections open to allthe recesses of the human heart; andin a worda more just or pleasanta moreengaging or a more improving treatiseon all the excellencies and defects ofhuman natureis scarce to be found in our ownor perhapsany otherlanguage." * -

* This character of the Life of Savage was not written by Fieldingas hasbeen supposedbut most probably by Ralphwhoas appears from the minutes ofthe Partners of 'The Champion' in the possession of Mr. Reed of Staple Innsucceeded Fielding in his share of the paperbefore the date of that eulogium.-

Johnson's partiality for Savage made him entertain no doubt of his storyhowever extraordinary and improbable. It never occurred to him to question hisbeing the son of the Countess of Macclesfieldof whose unrelenting barbarity heso loudly complainedand the particulars of which are related in so strong andaffecting a manner in Johnson's Life of him. Johnson was certainly wellwarranted in publishing his narrativehowever offensive it might be to the ladyand her relationsbecause her alleged unnatural and cruel conduct to her sonand shameful avowal of guiltwere stated in a Life of Savage now lying beforemewhich came out so early as 1727and no attempt had been made to confute itor to punish the authour or printer as a libeller: but for the honour of humannaturewe should be glad to find the shocking tale not true; and from arespectable gentleman * connected with the lady's familyI have received suchinformation and remarksas joined to my own inquirieswillI thinkrender itat least somewhat doubtfulespecially when we consider that it must haveoriginated from the person himself who went by the name of Richard Savage. -

* The late Francis Cockayne of his Majesty's Counsel. -

If the maximfalsum in unofalsum in omnibuswere to be received withoutqualificationthe credit of Savage's narrativeas conveyed to uswould beannihilated; for it contains some assertions whichbeyond a questionare nottrue.

1. In order to induce a belief that the Earl Riverson account of a criminalconnection with whomLady Macclesfield is said to have been divorced from herhusbandby Act of Parliament* had a peculiar anxiety about the child whichshe bore to himit is alledgedthat his Lordship gave him his own nameandhad it duly recorded in the register of St. Andrew'sHolborn. I have carefullyinspected that registerbut no such entry is to be found. *(2) -

* 1697.

*(2) [Mr. Cust's reasoningwith respect to the filiation of Richard Savagealways appeared to me extremely unsatisfactory; and is entirely overturned bythe following decisive observationsfor which the reader is indebted to theunwearied researches of Mr. Bindley.- The story on which Mr. Cust so muchreliesthat Savage was a supposititious childnot the son of Lord Rivers andLady Macclesfieldbut the offspring of a shoemakerintroduced in consequenceof her real son's deathwaswithout doubtgrounded on the circumstance ofLady Macclesfield's havingin 1696previously to the birth of Savagehad adaughter by the Earl Riverswho died in her infancy: a factwhichas the samegentleman observes to mewas proved in the course of the proceedings on LordMacclesfield's Bill of Divorce. Most fictions of this kind have some admixtureof truth in them.- M.]

[From "the Earl of Macclesfield's Case" whichin 1697-8waspresented to the Lords in order to procure an act of divorceit appearsthat"AnneCountess of Macclesfieldunder the name of Madam SMITHwasdelivered of a male child in Fox Courtnear Brook-streetHolbornby Mrs.Wrighta midwifeon Saturday the 16th of January1696-7at six o'clock inthe morningwho was baptized on the Monday followingand registered by thename of RICHARDthe son of John Smithby Mr. Burbridgeassistant to Dr.Manningham's Curate for St. Andrew'sHolborn: that the child was christened onMonday the 18th of Januaryin Fox Court; andfrom the privacywas supposed byMr. Burbridge to be 'a by-blowor bastard.' It also appearsthat during herdeliverythe lady wore a mask; and that Mary Pegler on the next day after thebaptism (Tuesday) took a male-childwhose mother was called Madam Smithfromthe house of Mrs. Pheasantin Fox Court[running from Brook-street intoGray's-Inn Lane] who went by the name of Mrs. Lee."

Conformable to this statement is the entry in the Register of St. Andrew'sHolbornwhich is as followsand which unquestionably records the baptism ofRichard Savageto whom Lord Rivers gave his own Christian nameprefixed to theassumed surname of his mother: Jan. 1696-7 "RICHARDson of John Smith andMaryin Fox Courtin Gray's-Inn Lanebaptized the 18th."- M.] -

2. It is statedthat "Lady Macclesfield having lived for sometime uponvery uneasy terms with her husbandthought a publick confession of adultery themost obvious and expeditious method of obtaining her liberty;" and Johnsonassuming this to be truestigmatises her with indignationas "the wretchwho hadwithout scrupleproclaimed herself an adulteress." * But I haveperused the Journals of both houses of Parliament at the period of her divorceand there find it authentically ascertainedthat so far from voluntarilysubmitting to the ignominious charge of adulteryshe made a strenuous defenceby her Counsel; the bill having been first moved the 15th of January1697-8inthe house of Lordsand proceeded on(with various applications for time tobring up witnesses at a distance&c.) at intervalstill the 3d of Marchwhen it passed. It was brought to the Commonsby a message from the Lordsthe5th of Marchproceeded on the 7th10th11th14thand 15thon which dayafter a full examination of witnesses on both sidesand hearing of Counselitwas reported without amendmentspassedand carried to the Lords. That LadyMacclesfield was convicted of the crime of which she was accusedcannot bedenied; but the question now iswhether the person calling himself RichardSavage was her son. -

* [No divorce can be obtained in the Courtson confession of the party.There must be proofs.- KEARNEY.] -

It has been said* that when Earl Rivers was dyingand anxious to providefor all his natural childrenhe was informed by Lady Macclesfield that her sonby him was dead. Whetherthenshall we believe that this was a malignant lieinvented by a mother to prevent her own child from receiving the bounty of hisfatherwhich was accordingly the consequenceif the person whose life Johnsonwrotewas her son; or shall we not rather believe that the person who thenassumed the name of Richard Savage was an impostorbeing in reality the son ofthe shoemakerunder whose wife's care *(2) Lady Macclesfield's child wasplaced; that after the death of the real Richard Savagehe attempted topersonate him; and that the fraud being known to Lady Macclesfieldhe wastherefore repulsed by her with just resentment. -

* [By Johnsonin his Life of Savage.- M.]

*(2) [Thisas an accurate friend remarks to meis not correctly stated. Theshoemaker under whose care Savage was placedwith a view to his becoming hisapprentice was not the husband of his nurse.- See Johnson's Life of Savage.- J.BOSWELL.] -

There is a strong circumstance in support of the last supposition; though ithas been mentioned as an aggravation of Lady Macclesfield's unnatural conductand that isher having prevented him from obtaining the benefit of a legacyleft to him by Mrs. Lloydhis god-mother. For if there was such a legacy lefthis not being able to obtain payment of itmust be imputed to his consciousnessthat he was not the real person. The just inference should bethat by the deathof Lady Macclesfield's child before its god-motherthe legacy became lapsedand therefore that Johnson's Richard Savage was an impostor.

If he had a title to the legacyhe could not have found any difficulty inrecovering it; for had the executors resisted his claimthe whole costsaswell as the legacymust have been paid by themif he had been the child towhom it was given.

The talents of Savageand the mingled firerudenesspridemeannessandferocity of his character* concur in making it credible that he was fit toplan and carry on an ambitious and daring scheme of impostorsimilar instancesof which have not been wanting in higher spheresin the history of differentcountriesand have had a considerable degree of success. -

* Johnson's companion appears to have persuaded that lofty-minded manthathe resembled him in having a noble pride; for Johnsonafter painting in strongcolours the quarrel between Lord Tyrconnel and Savageasserts that "thespirit of Mr. Savageindeednever suffered him to solicit a reconciliation: hereturned reproach for reproachand insult for insult." But the respectablegentleman to whom I have alludedhas in his possession a letter from Savageafter Lord Tyrconnel had discarded himaddressed to the Reverend Mr. Gilberthis Lordship's Chaplainin which he requests himin the humblest mannertorepresent his case to the Viscount. -

Yeton the other handto the companion of Johnson(whothrough whatevermedium he was conveyed into this world- be it ever so doubtful "To whomrelatedor by whom begot" wasunquestionablya man of no commonendowments) we must allow the weight of general repute as to his Status orparentagethough illicit; and supposing him to be an impostorit seems strangethat Lord Tyrconnelthe nephew of Lady Macclesfieldshould patronise himandeven admit him as a guest in his family. * Lastlyit must ever appear verysuspiciousthat three different accounts of the Life of Richard Savageonepublished in "The Plain Dealer" in 1724another in 1727and anotherby the powerful pen of Johnsonin 1744and all of them while Lady Macclesfieldwas aliveshouldnotwithstanding the severe attacks upon herhave beensuffered to pass without any publick and effectual contradiction. -

* Trusting to Savage's informationJohnson represents this unhappy man'sbeing received as a companion by Lord Tyrconneland pensioned by his Lordshipas posteriour to Savage's conviction and pardon. But I am assuredthat Savagehad received the voluntary bounty of Lord Tyrconneland had been dismissed byhim long before the murder was committedand that his Lordship was veryinstrumental in procuring Savage's pardonby his intercession with the Queenthrough Lady Hertford. Ifthereforehe had been desirous of preventing thepublication by Savagehe would have left him to his fate. Indeed I mustobservethat although Johnson mentions that Lord Tyrconnel's patronage ofSavage was "upon his promise to lay aside his design of exposing thecruelty of his mother" the great biographer has forgotten that he himselfhas mentionedthat Savage's story had been told several years before in"The Plain Dealer;" from which he quotes this strong saying of thegenerous Sir Richard Steelethat the "inhumanity of his mother had givenhim a right to find every good man his father." At the same time it must beacknowledgedthat Lady Macclesfield and her relations might still wish that herstory should not be brought into more conspicuous notice by the satirical pen ofSavage. -

I have thus endeavoured to sum up the evidence upon the caseas fairly as Ican; and the result seems to bethat the world must vibrate in a state ofuncertainty as to what was the truth.

This digressionI trustwill not be censuredas it relates to a matterexceedingly curiousand very intimately connected with Johnsonboth as a manand an authour. * -

* Miss Masonafter having forfeited the title of Lady Macclesfield bydivorcewas married to Colonel Brettandit is saidwas well known in allthe polite circles. Colley CibberI am informedhad so high an opinion of hertaste and judgement as to genteel life and mannersthat he submitted everyscene of his "Careless Husband" to Mrs. Brett's revisal andcorrection. Colonel Brett was reported to be free in his gallantry with hisLady's Maid. Mrs. Brett came into a room one day in her own houseand found theColonel and her maid both fast asleep in two chairs. She tied a whitehandkerchief round her husband's neckwhich was a sufficient proof that she haddiscovered his intrigue; but she never at any time took notice of it to him.This incident as I am toldgave occasion to the well-wrought scene of SirCharles and Lady Easy and Edging. -

He this year wrote "the Preface to the Harleian Miscellany." (@)The selection of the pamphlets of which it was composed was made by Mr. Oldysaman of eager curiosityand indefatigable diligencewho first exerted thatspirit of inquiry into the literature of the old English writersby which theworks of our great dramatick poet have of late been so signally illustrated.

1745: AETAT. 36 -

In 1745 he published a pamphlet entitled"Miscellaneous Observations onthe Tragedy of Macbethwith Remarks on Sir T. H.'s (Sir Thomas Hanmer's)Edition of Shakspeare." (@) To which he affixedproposals for a newedition of that poet.

As we do not trace any thing else published by him during the course of thisyearwe may conjecture that he was occupied entirely with that work. But thelittle encouragement which was given by the publick to his anonymous proposalsfor the execution of a task which Warburton was known to have undertakenprobably damped his ardour. His pamphlethoweverwas highly esteemedand wasfortunate enough to obtain the approbation even of the supercilious Warburtonhimselfwhoin the Preface to his Shakspeare published two years afterwardsthus mentioned it: "As to all those things which have been published underthe titles of EssaysRemarksObservations&c. on Shakspeareif youexcept some Critical Notes on Macbethgiven as a specimen of a projectededitionand writtenas appearsby a man of parts and geniusthe rest areabsolutely below a serious notice."

Of this flattering distinction shewn to him by Warburtona very gratefulremembrance was ever entertained by Johnsonwho said"He praised me at atime when praise was of value to me."

1746: AETAT. 37 -

In 1746 it is probable that he was still employed upon his Shakspearewhichperhaps he laid aside for a timeupon account of the high expectations whichwere formed of Warburton's edition of that great poet. It is somewhat curiousthat his career appears to have been almost totally suspended in the years 1745and 1746those years which were marked by a civil war in Great-Britainwhen arash attempt was made to restore the House of Stuart to the throne. That he hada tenderness for that unfortunate Houseis well known; and some may fancifullyimaginethat a sympathetick anxiety impeded the exertion of his intellectualpowers: but I am inclined to thinkthat he wasduring his timesketching theoutlines of his great philological work.

None of his letters during those years are extantso far as I can discover.This is much to be regretted. It might afford some entertainment to see how hethen expressed himself to his private friends concerning State affairs. Dr.Adams informs methat "at this time a favourite object which he had incontemplation was 'The Life of Alfred;' in whichfrom the warmth with which hespoke about ithe wouldI believehad he been master of his own willhaveengaged himselfrather than on any other subject."

1747: AETAT. 38 -

In 1747 it is supposed that the Gentleman's Magazine for May was enriched byhim with five short poetical piecesdistinguished by three asterisks. The firstis a translationor rather a paraphraseof a Latin Epitaph on Sir ThomasHanmer. Whether the Latin was hisor notI have never heardthough I shouldthink it probably wasif it be certain that he wrote the English; as to whichmy only cause of doubt isthat his slighting character of Hanmer as an editorin his "Observations on Macbeth" is very different from that in theEpitaph. It may be saidthat there is the same contrariety between thecharacter in the Observationsand that in his own Preface to Shakspeare; but aconsiderable time elapsed between the one publication and the otherwhereas theObservations and the Epitaph came close together. The others are"To Miss__on her giving the Authour a gold and silk net-work Purse of her ownweaving;" "Stella in Mourning;" "The Winter's Walk; "AnOde;" and"To Lycean elderly Lady." I am not positive that allthese were his productions; * but as "The Winter's Walk" has neverbeen controverted to be hisand all of them have the same markit isreasonable to conclude that they are all written by the same hand. Yet to theOdein which we find a passage very characteristick of himbeing a learneddescription of the gout-

"Unhappywhom to beds of pain

Arthritick tyranny consigns;" -

there is the following note"The authour being ill of the gout:"but Johnson was not attacked with that distemper till a very late period of hislife. May not thishoweverbe a poetical fiction? Why may not a poet supposehimself to have the goutas well as suppose himself to be in loveof which wehave innumerable instancesand which has been admirably ridiculed by Johnson inhis "Life of Cowley"? I have also some difficulty to believe that hecould produce such a group of conceits as appear in the verses to Lycein whichhe claims for this ancient personage as good a right to be assimilated toheavenas nymphs whom other poets have flattered; he therefore ironicallyascribes to her the attributes of the skyin such stanzas as this: -

"Her teeth the night with darkness dies

She's starr'd with pimples o'er;

Her tongue like nimble lightning plies

And can with thunder roar." -

But as at a very advanced age he could condescend to trifle in namby-pambyrhymesto please Mrs. Thrale and her daughterhe may havein his earlieryearscomposed such a piece as this. -

* [In the UNIVERSAL VISITERto which Johnson contributedthe mark which isaffixed to some pieces unquestionably hisis also found subjoined to othersofwhich he certainly was not the authour. The mark therefore will not ascertainthe poems in question to have been written by him. Some of them were probablythe productions of Hawkesworthwhoit is believedwas afflicted with thegout. The verses on a Purse were inserted afterwards in Mrs. Williams'sMiscellaniesand areunquestionablyJohnson's.- M.] -

It is remarkablethat in this first edition of "The Winter'sWalk" the concluding line is much more Johnsonian than it was afterwardsprinted; for in subsequent editionsafter praying Stella to "snatch him toher arms" he says-

"And shield me from the ills of life." -

Whereas in the first edition it is -

"And hide me from the sight of life." -

A horrour at life in general is more consonant with Johnson's habitual gloomycast of thought.

I have heard him repeat with great energy the following verseswhichappeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for April this year; but I have noauthority to say they were his own. Indeed one of the best criticks of our agesuggests to methat "the word indifferently being used in the sense ofwithout concernand being also very unpoeticalrenders it improbable that theyshould have been his composition." -

"On Lord LOVAT's Execution -

"Pity'd by gentle minds KILMARNOCK died;

The braveBALMERINOwere on thy side;

RADCLIFFEunhappy in his crimes of youth

Steady in what he still mistook for truth

Beheld his death so decently unmov'd

The soft lamentedand the brave approv'd.

But LOVAT'S fate indifferently we view

True to no Kingto no religion true:

No fair forgets the ruin he has done;

No child laments the tyrant of his son;

No tory pitiesthinking what he was;

No whig compassionsfor he left the cause;

The brave regret notfor he was not brave;

The honest mourn notknowing him a knave!" * -

* These verses are somewhat too severe on the extraordinary person who is thechief figure in them; for he was undoubtedly brave. His pleasantry during hissolemn trial (in whichby the wayI have heard Mr. David Hume observethat wehave one of the very few speeches of Mr. Murraynow Earl of Mansfieldauthentically given) was very remarkable. When asked if he had any questions toput to Sir Everard Fawkenerwho was one of the strongest witnesses against himhe answered "I only wish joy of his young wife." And after sentence ofdeathin the horrible terms in such cases of treasonwas pronounced upon himand he was retiring from the barhe said"Fare you wellmy Lordsweshall not all meet again in one place." He behaved with perfect composureat his executionand called out "Dulce et decorum est pro patriamori." -

This year his old pupil and friendDavid Garrickhaving become jointpatentee and manager of Drury-lane theatreJohnson honoured his opening of itwith a Prologue(@) which for just and manly dramatick criticism on the wholerange of the English stageas well as for poetical excellence* is unrivalled.Like the celebrated Epilogue to the "Distressed Mother" it wasduring the seasonoften called for by the audience. The most striking andbrilliant passages of it have been so often repeatedand are so wellrecollected by all the lovers of the dramaand of poetrythat it would besuperfluous to point them out. In the Gentleman's Magazine for December thisyearhe inserted an "Ode on Winter" which isI thinkan admirablespecimen of his genius for lyrick poetry. -

* My friend Mr. Courtenaywhose eulogy on Johnson's Latin Poetry has beeninserted in this Workis no less happy in praising his English Poetry.

But harkhe sings! the strain even Pope admires;

Indignant virtue her own bard inspires

Sublime as Juvenal he pours his lays

And with the Roman shares congenial praise;-

In glowing numbers now he fires the age

And Shakspeare's sun relumes the clouded stage. -

But the year 1747 is distinguished as the epochwhen Johnson's arduous andimportant workhis DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGEwas announced to theworldby the publication of its Plan or PROSPECTUS.

How long this immense undertaking had been the object of his contemplationIdo not know. I once asked him by what means he had attained to that astonishingknowledge of our languageby which he was enabled to realise a design of suchextent and accumulated difficulty. He told methat "it was not the effectof particular study; but that it had grown up in his mind insensibly." Ihave been informed by Mr. James Dodsleythat several years before this periodwhen Johnson was one day sitting in his brother Robert's shophe heard hisbrother suggest to himthat a Dictionary of the English Language would be awork that would be well received by the publick; that Johnson seemed at first tocatch at the propositionbutafter a pausesaidin his abrupt decisivemanner"I believe I shall not undertake it." That hehoweverhadbestowed much thought upon the subjectbefore be published his"Plan" is evident from the enlargedclearand accurate views whichit exhibits; and we find him mentioning in that tractthat many of the writerswhose testimonies were to be produced as authoritieswere selected by Pope;which proves that he had been furnishedprobably by Mr. Robert Dodsleywithwhatever hints that eminent poet had contributed towards a great literaryprojectthat had been the subject of important consideration in a former reign.

The booksellers who contracted with Johnsonsingle and unaidedfor theexecution of a workwhich in other countries has not been effected but by theco-operating exertions of manywere Mr. Robert DodsleyMr. Charles HitchMr.Andrew Millarthe two Messieurs Longmanand the two Messieurs Knapton. Theprice stipulated was fifteen hundred and seventy-five pounds.

The "Plan" was addressed to Philip DormerEarl of Chesterfieldthen one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State; a nobleman who wasvery ambitious of literary distinctionand whoupon being informed of thedesignhad expressed himself in terms very favourable to its success. There isperhapsin every thing of any consequencea secret history which it would beamusing to knowcould we have it authentically communicated. Johnson told me*"Sirthe way in which the plan of my Dictionary came to be inscribed toLord Chesterfieldwas this: I had neglected to write it by the time appointed.Dodsley suggested a desire to have it addressed to Lord Chesterfield. I laidhold of this as a pretext for delaythat it might be better doneand letDodsley have his desire. I said to my friendDr. Bathurst'Now if any goodcomes of my addressing to Lord Chesterfieldit will be ascribed to deeppolicy' whenin factit was only a casual excuse for laziness." -

* September 221777going from Ashbourne in Derbyshireto see Islam. -

It is worthy of observationthat the "Plan" has not only thesubstantial merit of comprehensionperspicuityand precisionbut that thelanguage of it is unexceptionably excellent; it being altogether free from thatinflation of styleand those uncommon but apt and energetick wordswhich insome of his writings have been censuredwith more petulance than justice; andnever was there a more dignified strain of compliment than that in which hecourts the attention of onewhohe had been persuaded to believewould be arespectable patron.

"With regard to questions of purity or propriety(says he) I was oncein doubt whether I should not attribute to myself too much in attempting todecide themand whether my province was to extend beyond the proposition of thequestionand the display of the suffrages on each side; but I have been sincedetermined by your Lordship's opinionto interpose my own judgementand shalltherefore endeavour to support what appears to me most consonant to grammar andreason. Ausonius thought that modesty forbade him to plead inability for a taskto which Caesar had judged him equal: -

Cur me posse negemposse quod ille putat? -

And I may hopemy Lordthat since youwhose authority in our language isso generally acknowledgedhave commissioned me to declare my own opinionIshall be considered as exercising a kind of vicarious jurisdiction; and that thepower which might have been denied to my own claimwill be readily allowed meas the delegate of your Lordship."

This passage provesthat Johnson's addressing his "Plan" to LordChesterfield was not merely in consequence of the result of a report by means ofDodsleythat the Earl favoured the design; but that there had been a particularcommunication with his Lordship concerning it. Dr. Taylor told methat Johnsonsent his "Plan" to him in manuscriptfor his perusal; and that whenit was lying upon his tableMr. William Whitehead happened to pay him a visitand being shewn itwas highly pleased with such parts of it as he had time toreadand begged to take it home with himwhich he was allowed to do; that fromhim it got into the hands of a noble Lordwho carried it to Lord Chesterfield.When Taylor observed this might be an advantageJohnson replied"NoSirit would have come out with more bloomif it had not been seen before by anybody."

The opinion conceived of it by another noble authourappears from thefollowing extract of a letter from the Earl of Orrery to Dr. Birch: -

"CaledonDec. 301747.

"I have just now seen the specimen of Mr. Johnson's Dictionaryaddressed to Lord Chesterfield. I am much pleased with the planand I think thespecimen is one of the best that I have ever read. Most specimens disgustrather than prejudice us in favour of the work to follow; but the language ofMr. Johnson's is goodand the arguments are properly and modestly expressed.Howeversome expressions may be cavilled atbut they are trifles. I'll mentionone: the barren laurel. The laurel is not barrenin any sense whatever; itbears fruits and flowers. Sed hae sunt nugaeand I have great expectations fromthe performance." * -

* Birch MSS. Brit. Mus. 4303.

1748: AETAT. 39 -

That he was fully aware of the arduous nature of the undertakingheacknowledges; and shews himself perfectly sensible of it in the conclusion ofhis "Plan;" but he had a noble consciousness of his own abilitieswhich enabled him to go on with undaunted spirit.

Dr. Adams found him one day busy at his Dictionarywhen the followingdialogue ensued.- "ADAMS. This is a great workSirHow are you to get allthe etymologies? JOHNSON. WhySirhere is a shelf with Juniusand Skinnerand others; and there is a Welch gentleman who has published a collection ofWelch proverbswho will help me with the Welch. ADAMS. ButSirhow can you dothis in three years? JOHNSON. SirI have no doubt that I can do it in threeyears. ADAMS. But the French Academywhich consists of forty memberstookforty years to compile their Dictionary. JOHNSON. Sirthus it is. This is theproportion. Let me see; forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three tosixteen hundredso is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman."With so much ease and pleasantry could he talk of that prodigious labour whichhe had undertaken to execute.

The publick has hadfrom another pen* a long detail of what had been donein this country by prior Lexicographers; and no doubt Johnson was wiseto availhimself of themso far as they went: but the learnedyet judicious research ofetymologythe variousyet accurate display of definitionand the richcollection of authoritieswere reserved for the superiour mind of our greatphilologist. For the mechanical part he employedas he told mesix amanuenses;and let it be remembered by the natives of North-Britainto whom he is supposedto have been so hostilethat five of them were of that country. There were twoMessieurs Macbean; Mr. Shielswhowe shall hereafter seepartly wrote theLives of the Poets to which the name of Cibber is affixed: *(2) Mr. Stewartsonof Mr. George Stewartbookseller at Edinburgh; and a Mr. Maitland. The sixth ofthese humble assistants was Mr. PeytonwhoI believetaught Frenchandpublished some elementary tracts. -

* See Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson.

[Sir John Hawkins's list of former English Dictionaries ishoweverby nomeans complete.- M.]

*(2) See postunder April 101776. -

To all these painful labourers Johnson shewed a never-ceasing kindnesssofar as they stood in need of it. The elder Mr. Macbean had afterwards the honourof being Librarian to ArchibaldDuke of Argylefor many yearsbut was leftwithout a shilling. Johnson wrote for him a Preface to "A System of AncientGeography;" andby the favour of Lord Thurlowgot him admitted a poorbrother of the Charterhouse. For Shielswho died of a consumptionhe had muchtenderness; and it has been thought that some choice sentences in the Lives ofthe Poets were supplied by him. Peytonwhen reduced to penuryhad frequent aidfrom the bounty of Johnsonwho at last was at the expense of burying him andhis wife.

While the Dictionary was going forwardJohnson lived part of the time inHolbornpart in Gough-squareFleet-street; and he had an upper room fitted uplike a counting-house for the purposein which he gave to the copyists theirseveral tasks: The wordspartly taken from other dictionariesand partlysupplied by himselfhaving been first written down with spaces left betweenthemhe delivered in writing their etymologiesdefinitionsand varioussignifications. The authorities were copied from the books themselvesin whichhe had marked the passages with a black-lead pencilthe traces of which couldeasily be effaced. I have seen several of themin which that trouble had notbeen taken; so that they were just as when used by the copyists. It isremarkablethat he was so attentive in the choice of the passages in whichwords were authorisedthat one may read page after page of his Dictionary withimprovement and pleasure; and it should not pass unobservedthat he has quotedno authour whose writings had a tendency to hurt sound religion and morality.

The necessary expence of preparing a work of such magnitude for the pressmust have been a considerable deduction from the price stipulated to be paid forthe copyrightI understand that nothing was allowed by the booksellers on thataccount; and I remember his telling methat a large portion of it havingbymistakebeen written upon both sides of the paperso as to be inconvenient forthe compositorit cost him twenty pounds to have it transcribed upon one sideonly.

He is now to be considered as "tugging at his oar" as engaged in asteadycontinued course of occupationsufficient to employ all his time forsome years; and which was the best preventive of that constitutional melancholywhich was ever lurking about himready to trouble his quiet. But his enlargedand lively mind could not be satisfied without more diversity of employmentandthe pleasure of animated relaxation. * He therefore not only exerted his talentsin occasional compositionvery different from Lexicographybut formed a clubin Ivy lanePaternoster Rowwith a view to enjoy literary discussionandamuse his evening hours. The members associated with him in this little societywerehis beloved friend Dr. Richard BathurstMr. Hawkesworthafterwards wellworth his writingsMr. John Hawkinsan attorney*(2) and a few others ofdifferent professions. -

* [For the sake of relaxation from his literary laboursand probably alsofor Mrs. Johnson's healthhe this summer visited Tunbridge Wellthen a placeof much greater resort than it is at present. Here he met Mr. CibberMr.GarrickMr. Samuel RichardsonMr. WhistonMr. Onslow(the Speaker) Mr.PittMr. Lytteltonand several other distinguished persons. In a printrepresenting some of "the remarkable characters" who were at TunbridgeWells in 1748and copied from a drawing of the sane size(See RICHARDSON'SCORRESPONDENCE) Dr. Johnson stands the first figure.- M.]

*(2) He was afterwards for several years Chairman of the Middlesex Justicesand upon occasion of presenting an address to the King

accepted the usual offer of Knighthood. He is authour of "A History ofMusick" in five volumes in quarto. By assiduous attendance upon Johnson inhis last illnesshe obtained the office of one of his executors; in consequenceof whichthe booksellers of London employed him to publish an edition of Dr.Johnson's worksand to write his Life. -

In the Gentleman's Magazine for May of this year he wrote a "Life ofRoscommon" (@) with Notes; which he afterwards much improved(indentingthe notes into text) and inserted amongst his Lives of the English Poets.

Mr. Dodsley this year brought out his PRECEPTORone of the most valuablebooks for the improvement of young minds that has appeared in any language; andto this meritorious work Johnson furnished "The Preface" (@)containing a general sketch of the bookwith a short and perspicuousrecommendation of each article; as also"The Vision of TheodoretheHermitfound in his Cell" (@) a most beautiful allegory of human lifeunder the figure of ascending the mountain of Existence. The Bishop of Dromoreheard Dr. Johnson saythat he thought this was the best thing he ever wrote.

1749: AETAT. 40 -

In January1749he published "THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHESbeing theTenth Satire of Juvenal imitated." (@) HeI believecomposed it thepreceding year. * Mrs. Johnsonfor the sake of country airhad lodgings atHampsteadto which he resorted occasionallyand there the greatest partifnot the wholeof this Imitation was written. The fervid rapidity with which itwas producedis scarcely credible. I have heard him saythat he composedseventy lines of it in one daywithout putting one of them upon paper till theywere finished. I remember when I once regretted to him that he had not given usmore of Juvenal's Satireshe saidhe probably should give morefor he hadthem all in his head; by which I understoodthat he had the originals andcorrespondent allusions floating in his mindwhich he couldwhen he pleasedembody and render permanent without much labour. Some of themhoweverheobserved were too gross for imitation. -

* Sir John Hawkinswith solemn inaccuracyrepresents this poem as aconsequence of the indifferent reception of his tragedy. But the fact isthatthe poem was published on the 9th of Januaryand the tragedy was not acted tillthe 6th of the February following. -

The profits of a single poemhowever excellentappear to have been verysmall in the last reigncompared with what a publication of the same size hassince been known to yield. I have mentioned upon Johnson's own authoritythatfor his LONDON he had only ten guineas; and nowafter his fame was establishedhe got for his "Vanity of Human Wishes" but five guineas moreas isproved by an authentick document in my possession. * -

* "Nov. 251748I received of Mr. Dodsley fifteen guineasfor which Iassign to him the right of copy of an Imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenalwritten by me; reserving to myself the right of printing one edition. "SAM.JOHNSON."

"London29 June1786. A true copyfrom the original in Dr. Johnson'shandwriting. "JAS DODSLEY." -

It will be observedthat he reserves to himself the right of printing oneedition of this satirewhich was his practice upon occasion of the sale of allhis writings; it being his fixed intention to publish at some periodfor hisown profita complete collection of his works.

His "Vanity of Human Wishes" has less of common lifebut more of aphilosophick dignity than his "London." More readersthereforewillbe delighted with the pointed spirit of "London" than with theprofound reflection of "The Vanity of Human Wishes." Garrickforinstanceobserved in his sprightly mannerwith more vivacity than regard tojust discriminationas is usual with wits"When Johnson lived much withthe Herveysand saw a good deal of what was passing in lifehe wrote his'London' which is lively and easy: when he became more retiredhe gave us his'Vanity of Human Wishes' which is as hard as Greek. Had he gone on to imitateanother satireit would have been as hard as Hebrew." * -

* From Mr. Langton. -

But "The Vanity of Human Wishes" isin the opinion of the bestjudgesas high an effort of ethick poetry as any language can shew. Theinstances of variety of disappointment are chosen so judiciouslyand painted sostronglythatthe moment they are readthey bring conviction to everythinking mind. That of the scholar must have depressed the too sanguineexpectations of many an ambitious student. * That of the warriorCharles ofSwedenisI thinkas highly finished a picture as can possibly be conceived.-

* In this poem one of the instances mentioned of unfortunate learned men isLydiat:

"Hear Lydiat's lifeand Galileo's end."

The History of Lydiat being little knownthe following account of him may beacceptable to many of my readers. It appeared as a note in the Supplement to theGentleman's Magazine for 1748in which some passages extracted from Johnson'spoem were insertedand it should have been added in the subsequent editions.-"A very learned divine and mathematicianfellow of New CollegeOxonandRector of Okertonnear Banbury. He wroteamong many othersa Latin treatise'De natura caeli&c.' in which he attacked the sentiments of Scaliger andAristotlenot bearing to hear it urgedthat some things are true inphilosophyand false in divinity. He made above 600 Sermons on the harmony ofthe Evangelists. Being unsuccessful in publishing his workshe lay in theprison of Bocardo at Oxfordand in the King's Beachtill Bishop UsherDr.LaudSir William Boswelland Dr. Pinkreleased him by paying his debts. Hepetitioned King Charles I. to be sent into Ethiopia&c. to procure MSS.Having spoken in favour of Monarchy and bishopshe was plundered by theparliament forcesand twice carried away prisoner from his rectory; andafterwards had not a shirt to shift him in three monthswithout he borrowed itand died very poor in 1646." -

Were all the other excellencies of this poem annihilatedit must ever haveour grateful reverence from its noble conclusion; in which we are consoled withthe assurance that happiness may be attainedif we "apply our hearts"to piety: -

"Where then shall hope and fear their objects find?

Shall dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?

Must helpless manin ignorance sedate

Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?

Shall no dislike alarmno wishes rise

No cries attempt the mercy of the skies?

Inquirercease; petitious yet remain

Which Heav'n may hearnor deem Religion vain.

Still raise for good the supplicating voice

But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

Safe in His handwhose eye discerns afar

The secret ambush of a specious pray'r;

Implore His aidin His decisions rest

Securewhate'er He givesHe gives the best:

Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires

And strong devotion to the skies aspires

Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind

Obedient passionsand a will resign'd;

For lovewhich scarce collective man can fill;

For patiencesovereign o'er transmuted ill;

For faithwhich panting for a happier seat

Counts death kind Nature's signal for retreat.

These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain

These goods He grantswho grants the power to gain;

With these celestial wisdom calms the mind

And makes the happiness she does not find." * -

* [In this poema line in which the danger attending on female beauty ismentionedhas very generallyI believebeen misunderstood:

"Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring

And Sedley curs'd the form that pleas'd a king."

The lady mentioned in the first of these verseswas not the celebrated LadyVanewhose memoirs were given to the publick by Dr. Smollettbut Anne Vanewho was mistress to FrederickPrince of Walesand died in 1736not longbefore Johnson settled in London. Some account of this lady was publishedunderthe title of The Secret History of Vanella8vo. 1732. See also Vanella in theStraw4to.1732. In Mr. Boswell's TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES (Aug. 17)we find someobservations respecting the lines in question:

"In Dr. Johnson's VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES there is the following passage:

"The teeming mother anxious for her race

Begs for each birth the fortune of a face:

Yet Vane" &c.

"Lord Hailes told him[Johnson] he was mistaken in the instances he hadgiven of unfortunate fair onesfor neither Vane nor Sedley had a title to thatdescription."- His lordship therefore thoughtthat the lines should ratherhave run thus:

Yet Shore could tell-

And Valiere curs'd-

"Our friend (he added in a subsequent noteaddressed to Mr. Boswell onthis subject) chose Vanewho was far from being well-look'dand Sedleywhowas so ugly that Charles II. said- his brother had her by way of penance."-M.] -

Garrick being now vested with theatrical power by being manager of Drury-lanetheatrehe kindly and generously made use of it to bring out Johnson's tragedywhich had been long kept back for want of encouragement. But in this benevolentpurpose he met with no small difficulty from the temper of Johnsonwhich couldnot brook that a drama which he had formed with much studyand had been obligedto keep more than the nine years of Horaceshould be revised and altered at thepleasure of an actor. Yet Garrick knew wellthat without some alterations itwould not be fit for the stage. A violent dispute having ensued between themGarrick applied to the Reverend Dr. Taylor to interpose. Johnson was at firstvery obstinate. "Sir(said he) the fellow wants me to make Mahomet runmadthat he may have an opportunity of tossing his hands and kicking hisheels." * He washoweverat lastwith difficultyprevailed on to complywith Garrick's wishesso as to allow of some changes; but still there were notenough. -

* Mahomet was in fact played by Mr. Barryand Demetrius by Mr. Garrick: butprobably at this time the parts were not yet cast. -

Dr. Adams was present the first night of the representation of IRENEandgave me the following account: "Before the curtain drew upthere werecatcalls whistlingwhich alarmed Johnson's friends. The Prologuewhich waswritten by himself in a manly strainsoothed the audience* and the play wentoff tolerablytill it came to the conclusionwhen Mrs. Pritchardthe Heroineof the piecewas to be strangled upon the stageand was to speak two lineswith the bow-string round her neck. The audience cried out 'Murder! Murder!'*(2) She several times attempted to speak; but in vain. At last she was obligedto go off the stage alive." This passage was afterwards struck outand shewas carried off to be put to death behind the scenesas the play now has it.The Epilogueas Johnson informed mewas written by Sir William Yonge. I knownot how his play came to be thus graced by the pen of a person then so eminentin the political world. -

* The expression used by Dr. Adams was "soothed." I should ratherthink the audience was awed by the extraordinary spirit and dignity of thefollowing lines:

"Be this at least his praisebe this his pride

To force applause no modern arts are tried:

Should partial catcalls all his hopes confound

He bids no trumpet quell the fatal sound;

Should welcome sleep relieve the weary wit

He rolls no thunders o'er the drowsy pit;

No snares to captivate the judgement spreads

Nor bribes your eyesto prejudice your heads.

Unmov'dthough witlings sneer and rivals rail

Studious to pleaseyet not asham'd to fail

He scorns the meek addressthe suppliant strain

With merit needlessand without it vain;

In ReasonNatureTruthhe dares to trust;

Ye fops be silentand ye wits be just!"

*(2) [This shewshow ready modern audiences are to condemn in a new playwhat they have frequently endured very quietly in an old one. Rowe has madeMoneses in TAMERLANE die by the bow-stringwithout offence.- M.] -

Notwithstanding all the support of such performers as GarrickBarryMrs.CibberMrs. Pritchardand every advantage of dress and decorationsthetragedy of Irene did not please the publick. * Mr. Garrick's zeal carried itthrough for nine nightsso that the authour had his three nights' profits; andfrom a receipt signed by himnow in the hands of Mr. James Dodsleyit appearsthat his friendMr. Robert Dodsleygave him one hundred pounds for the copywith his usual reservation of the right of one edition. -

* [I know not what Sir John Hawkins means by the cold reception of IRENE.[See earlier note beginning"Sir John Hawkinswith solemninaccuracy..."] I was at the first representationand most of thesubsequent. It was much applauded the first nightparticularly the speech onto-morrow. It ran nine nights at least. It did not indeed become a stock-playbut there was not the least opposition during the representationexcept thefirst night in the last actwhere Irene was to be strangled on the stagewhichJohn could not bearthough a dramatick poet may stab or slay by hundreds. Thebow-string was not a Christian nor an ancient Greek or Roman death. But thisoffence was removed after the first nightand Irene went off the stage to bestrangled.- Many stories were circulated at the timeof the authour's beingobserved at the representation to be dissatisfied with some of the speeches andconduct of the playhimself; andlike la Fontaineexpressing hisdisapprobation aloud.- BURNEY.]

[Mr. Murphy in his Life of Johnsonp. 53says"the amount of thethree benefit nights for the tragedy of IRENEit is to be fearedwere not veryconsiderableas the profitthat stimulating motivenever invited the authourto another dramatick attempt."

On the word "profit" the late Mr. Isaac Reed in his copy of thatLifewhich I purchased at the sale of his libraryhas added a manuscript notecontaining the following receipts on Johnson's three benefit nights:

"3rd night's receipt L 177 1 6

6th 106 4 0

9th 101 11 6

- ----------

- 384 17 0

Charges of the House 189 0 0

- ----------

Profit 195 17 0

He also received for the Copy 100 0 0

- ----------

In all 295 17 0"

In a preceding page (52) Mr. Murphy says"IRENE was acted at Drury-laneon MondayFeb. 6and from that timewithout interruptionto MondayFebruarythe 20thbeing in all thirteen nights."

On this Mr. Reed somewhat indignantly has written- "This is false. Itwas acted only nine nightsand never repeated afterwards. Mr. Murphyin makingthe above calculationincludes both the Sundays and Lent days."

The blunderhoweveris that of the Monthly Reviewerfrom whom Murphy tookwithout acknowledgmentthe greater part of his Essay. M. R. vol. lxxvii. p.135.- A. CHALMERS.] -

IRENEconsidered as a poemis entitled to the praise of superiourexcellence. Analysed into partsit will furnish a rich store of noblesentimentsfine imageryand beautiful language; but it is deficient in pathosin that delicate power of touching the human feelingswhich is the principalend of the drama. * Indeed Garrick has complained to methat Johnson not onlyhad not the faculty of producing the impressions of tragedybut that he had notthe sensibility to perceive them. His great friend Mr. Walmsley's predictionthat he would "turn out a fine tragedy writer" wasthereforeill-founded. Johnson was wise enough to be convinced that he had not the talentsnecessary to write successfully for the stageand never made another attempt inthat species of composition. -

* Aaron Hill (Vol. II. p. 355) in a letter to Mr. Malletgives thefollowing account of Irene after having seen it: "I was at the anomalousMr. Johnson's benefitand found the play his proper representative; strongsense ungraced by sweetness or decorum." -

When asked how he felt upon the ill success of his tragedyhe replied"Like the Monument!" meaning that he continued firm and unmoved asthat column. And let it be rememberedas an admonition to the genus irritabileof dramatick writersthat this great maninstead of peevishly complaining ofthe bad taste of the townsubmitted to its decision without a murmur. He hadindeedupon all occasions a great deference for the general opinion: "Aman (said he) who writes a bookthinks himself wiser or wittier than the restof mankind; he supposes that he can instruct or amuse themand the publick towhom he appealsmustafter allbe the judges of his pretensions."

On occasion of this play being brought upon the stageJohnson had a fancythat as a dramatick authour his dress should be more gay than what he ordinarilywore; he therefore appeared behind the scenesand even in one of the sideboxesin a scarlet waistcoatwith rich gold laceand a gold-laced hat. Hehumourously observed to Mr. Langton"that when in that dress he could nottreat people with the same ease as when in his usual plain clothes." Dressindeedwe must allowhas more effect even upon strong minds than one shouldsupposewithout having had the experience of it. His necessary attendance whilehis play was in rehearsaland during its performancebrought him acquaintedwith many of the performers of both sexeswhich produced a more favourableopinion of their profession than he had harshly expressed in his Life of Savage.With some of them he kept up an acquaintance as long as he and they livedandwas ever ready to shew them acts of kindness. He for a considerable time used tofrequent the Green-Roomand seemed to take delight in dissipating his gloombymixing in the sprightly chit-chat of the motley circle then to be found there.Mr. David Hume related to me from Mr. Garrickthat Johnson at last deniedhimself this amusementfrom considerations of rigid virtue; saying"I'llcome no more behind your scenesDavid; for the silk stockings and white bosomsof your actresses excite my amorous propensities."

1750: AETAT. 41 -

In 1750 he came forth in the character for which he was eminently qualifieda majestick teacher of moral and religious wisdom. The vehicle which he chosewas that of a periodical paperwhich he knew had beenupon former occasionsemployed with great success. The TatlerSpectatorand Guardianwere the lastof the kind published in Englandwhich had stood the test of a long trial; andsuch an interval had now elapsed since their publicationas made him justlythink thatto many of his readersthis form of instruction wouldin somedegreehave the advantage of novelty. A few days before the first of his Essayscame outthere started another competitor for fame in the same formunder thetitle of "The Tatler Revived" which I believe was "born but todie." Johnson wasI thinknot very happy in the choice of his title-"The Rambler;" which certainly is not suited to a series of grave andmoral discourses; which the Italians have literallybut ludicrouslytranslatedby Il Vagabondo; and which has been lately assumed as the denomination of avehicle of licentious tales"The Rambler's Magazine." He gave SirJoshua Reynolds the following account of its getting this name: "What mustbe doneSirwill be done. When I was to begin publishing that paperI was ata loss how to name it. I sat down at night upon my bedsideand resolved that Iwould not go to sleep till I had fixed its title. The Rambler seemed the bestthat occurredand I took it." * -

* I have heard Dr. Warton mentionthat he was at Mr. Robert Dodsley's withthe late Mr. Mooreand several of his friendsconsidering what should be thename of the periodical paper which Moore had undertaken. Garrick proposed theSalladwhichby a curious coincidencewas afterwards applied to himself byGoldsmith:

"Our Garrick's a salladfor in him we see

Oilvinegarsugarand saltness agree!"

At lastthe company having separatedwithout any thing of which theyapproved having been offeredDodsley himself thought of The World. -

With what devout and conscientious sentiments this paper was undertakenisevidenced by the following prayerwhich he composed and offered up on theoccasion: "Almighty Godthe giver of all good thingswithout whose helpall labour is ineffectualand without whose grace all wisdom is folly: grantIbeseech Theethat in this undertaking thy Holy Spirit may not be with-held frommebut that I may promote thy gloryand the salvation of myself and others:grant thisO Lordfor the sake of thy sonJESUS CHRIST. Amen." * -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 9. -

The first paper of the Rambler was published on Tuesday the 20th of March1749-50; and its authour was enabled to continue itwithout interruptioneveryTuesday and Saturdaytill Saturday the 17th day of March* 1752on which dayit closed. This is a strong confirmation of the truth of a remark of hiswhichI have had occasion to quote elsewhere*(2) that "a man may write at anytimeif he will set himself doggedly to it;" fornotwithstanding hisconstitutional indolencehis depression of spiritsand his labour in carryingon his Dictionaryhe answered the stated calls of the press twice a week fromthe stores of his mindduring all that time; having received no assistanceexcept four billets in No. 10by Miss Mulsonow Mrs. Chapone; No. 30by Mrs.Catharine Talbot; No. 97by Mr. Samuel Richardsonwhom he describes in anintroductory note as "An authour who has enlarged the knowledge of humannatureand taught the passions to move at the command of virtue;" andNumbers 44 and 100by Mrs. Elizabeth Carter. -

* [This is a mistakeinto which the authour was very pardonably led by theinaccuracy of the original folio edition of the Ramblerin which the concludingpaper of that work is dated on "SaturdayMarch 17." But Saturday wasin fact the fourteenth of March. This circumstancethough it may at firstappear of very little importanceis yet worth notice; for Mrs. Johnson died onthe seventeenth of March.- M.]

*(2) Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd editp. 28 [Aug. 161773]. -

Posterity will be astonished when they are toldupon the authority ofJohnson himselfthat many of these discourseswhich we should suppose had beenlaboured with all the slow attention of literary leisurewere written in hasteas the moment pressedwithout even being read over by him before they wereprinted. It can be accounted for only in this way; that by reading andmeditationand a very close inspection of lifehe had accumulated a great fundof miscellaneous knowledgewhichby a peculiar promptitude of mindwas everready at his calland which he had constantly accustomed himself to clothe inthe most apt and energetick expression. Sir Joshua Reynolds once asked him bywhat means he had attained his extraordinary accuracy and flow of language. Hetold himthat he had early laid it down as a fixed rule to do his best on everyoccasionand in every company: to impart whatever he knew in the most forciblelanguage he could put it in; and that by constant practiceand never sufferingany careless expressions to escape himor attempting to deliver his thoughtswithout arranging them in the clearest mannerit became habitual to him. * -

* [The rule which Dr. Johnson observedis sanctioned by the authority of twogreat writers of antiquity: "Ne id quidem tacendum estquod eidem Ciceroniplacetnullum nostrum usquam negligentem esse sermonem: quicquid loquemurubicunquesit pro sua scilicet portione perfectum." Quinctil. x. 7.- M.] -

Yet he was not altogether unprepared as a periodical writer; for I have in mypossession a small duodecimo volumein which he has writtenin the form of Mr.Locke's Common-Place Booka variety of hints for essays on different subjects.He has marked upon the first blank leaf of it"To the 128th pagecollections for the RAMBLER;" and in another place"In fifty-twothere were seventeen provided; in 97-21; in 190-25." At a subsequent period(probably after the work was finished) he added"In alltaken of providedmaterials30."

Sir John Hawkinswho is unlucky upon all occasionstells usthat"this method of accumulating intelligence had been practised by Mr.Addisonand is humourously described in one of the Spectatorswherein hefeigns to have dropped his paper of notandaconsisting of a diverting medley ofbroken sentences and loose hintswhich he tells us he had collectedand meantto make use of. Much of the same kind is Johnson's Adversaria." * But thetruth isthat there is no resemblance at all between them. Addison's note was afictionin which unconnected fragments of his lucubrations were purposelyjumbled togetherin as odd a manner as he couldin order to produce alaughable effect. Whereas Johnson's abbreviations are all distinctandapplicable to each subject of which the head is mentioned. -

* Hawkins's Life of Johnsonp. 268. -

For instancethere is the following specimen: -

Youth's Entry&c. -

Baxter's account of things in which he had changed his mind as he grew up.Voluminous.- No wonder.- If every man was to tellor markon how many subjectshe has changedit would make vols. but the changes not always observed by man'sself.- From pleasure to bus. [business] to quiet; from thoughtfulness toreflect. to piety; from dissipation to domestic. by impercept. gradat. but thechange is certain. Dial. non progrediprogress. esse conspicimus. Look backconsider what was thought at some dist. period.

"Hope predom. in youth. Mind not willingly indulges unpleasing thoughts.The world lies all enamelled before himas a distant prospect sun-gilt;- *inequalities only found by coming to it. Love is to be all joy- childrenexcellent- Fame to be constant- caresses of the great- applauses of the learned-smiles of Beauty.

"Fear of disgrace- Bashfulness- Finds things of less importance.Miscarriages forgot like excellencies;- if rememberedof no import. Danger ofsinking into negligence of reputation;- lest the fear of disgrace destroyactivity.

"Confidence in himself.- Long tract of life before him.- No

thought of sickness.- Embarrassment of affairs.- Distraction of family.Publick calamities.- No sense of the prevalence of bad habits. Negligent oftime- ready to undertake- careless to pursue- all changed by time.

"Confident of others- unsuspecting as unexperienced- imagining himselfsecure against neglectnever imagines they will venture to treat him ill. Readyto trust; expecting to be trusted. Convinced by time of the selfishnessthemeannessthe cowardicethe treachery of men.

"Youth ambitiousas thinking honours easy to be had.

"Different kinds of praise pursued at different periods. Of the gay inyouth.- dang. hurt&c. despised.

"Of the fancy in manhood. Ambit.- stocks- bargains.- Of the wise andsober in old age- seriousness- formality- maximsbut general- only of the richotherwise age is happy- but at last every thing referred to riches- no havingfamehonourinfluencewithout subjection to caprice.


"Hard it would be if men entered life with the same views with whichthey leave itor left as they enter it.- No hope- no undertaking- no regard tobenevolence- no fear of disgrace&c.

"Youth to be taught the piety of age- age to retain the honour ofyouth." -

* This most beautiful image of the enchanting delusion of youthful prospecthas not been used in any of Johnson's essays. -

Thisit will be observedis the sketch of Number 196 of the Rambler. Ishall gratify my readers with another specimen: -

"Confederacies difficult; why. -

"Seldom in war a match for single persons- nor in peace; therefore kingsmake themselves absolute. Confederacies in learning- every great work the workof one. Bruy. Scholars' friendship like ladies. Scribebamus&c. Mart. * Theapple of discord- the poverty of criticism. Swift's opinion of the power of sixgeniuses united. That union scarce possible. His remarks just;- man a socialnot steady nature. Drawn to man by wordsrepelled by passions. Orb drawn byattractionrep. [repelled] by centrifugal.

"Common danger unites by crushing other passions- but they return.Equality hinders compliance. Superiority produces insolence and envy. Too muchregard in each to private interest:- too little.

"The mischiefs of private and exclusive societies.- The fitness ofsocial attraction diffused through the whole. The mischiefs of too partial loveof our country. Contraction of moral duties- oi philoiou philos.

"Every man moves upon his own centerand therefore repels others fromtoo near a contactthough he may comply with some general laws.

"Of confederacy with superiors every one knows the inconvenience. Withequalsno authority;- every man his own opinion- his own interest.

"Man and wife hardly united;- scarce ever without children. Computationif two to one against twohow many against five? If confederacies were easy-useless;- many oppresses many.- If possible only to somedangerous. Principumamicitias. " -

* [Lib. xii. 96. "In Tuccam aemulum omnium suorum studiorum."- M.]-

Here we see the embryo of Number 45 of the Adventurer; and it is aconfirmation of what I shall presently have occasion to mentionthat the papersin that collection marked T. were written by Johnson.

This scanty preparation of materials will nothowevermuch diminish ourwonder at the extraordinary fertility of his mind; for the proportion which theybear to the number of essays which he wroteis very small; and it isremarkablethat those for which he had made no preparationare as rich and ashighly finishedas those for which the hints were lying by him. It is also tobe observedthat the papers formed from his hints are worked up with suchstrength and elegancethat we almost lose sight of the hintswhich become like"drops in the bucket." Indeedin several instanceshe has made avery slender use of themso that many of them remain still unapplied. * -

* Sir John Hawkins has selected from this little collection of materialswhat he calls the "Rudiments of two of the papers of the Rambler." Buthe has not been able to read the manuscript distinctly. Thus he writesp. 266"Sailor's fate any mansion;" whereas the original is "Sailor'slife my aversion." He has also transcribed the unappropriated hints onWriters for breadin which he decyphers these notable passagesone in Latinfatui non famaeinstead of fami non famae; Johnson having in his mind whatThuanus says of the learned German antiquary and linguistXylanderwhohetells uslived in such povertythat he was supposed fami non famae scribere;and another in FrenchDegente de fate et affame d'argentinstead of Degoute defame (an old word for renomme) et affame d'argent. The manuscript being writtenin an exceedingly small handis indeed very hard to read; but it would havebeen better to have left blanks than to write nonsense. -

As the Rambler was entirely the work of one manthere wasof coursesuch auniformity in its textureas very much to exclude the charm of variety; and thegrave and often solemn cast of thinkingwhich distinguished it from otherperiodical papersmade itfor some timenot generally liked. So slowly didthis excellent workof which twelve editions have now issued from the pressgain upon the world at largethat even in the closing number the authour says"I have never been much a favourite of the publick." * -

* [The Ramblers certainly were little noticed at first. Smartthe poetfirst mentioned them to me as excellent papersbefore I had heard any one elsespeak of them. When I went into Norfolkin the autumn of 1751I found but oneperson (the Rev. Mr. Squiresa man of learningand a general purchaser of newbooks) who knew any thing of them. But he had been misinformed concerning thetrue authourfor he had been told they were written by a Mr. Johnson ofCanterburythe son of a clergyman who had had a controversy with Bentley: andwho had changed the readings of the ballad entitled Norton Falgatein Bentley'sbold style(meo periculo) till not a single word of the original song was left.Before I left Norfolk in the year 1760the Ramblers were in high favour amongpersons of learning and good taste. Others there weredevoid of bothwho saidthat the hard words in the Rambler were used by the authour to render hisDictionary indispensably necessary- BURNEY.]

[It may not be improper to correct a slight errour in the preceding notethough it does not at all affect the principal object of Dr. Burney's remark.The clergyman above alluded towas Mr. Richard JohnsonSchoolmaster atNottinghamwho in 1717 published an octavo volume in Latinagainst Bentley'sedition of Horaceentitled ARISTARCHUS ANTI-BENTLEIANUS. In the middle of thisLatin work (as Mr. Bindley observes to me) he has introduced four pages ofEnglish criticismin which he ludicrously correctsin Bentley's manneronestanzanot of the ballad the hero of which lived in Norton Falgatebut of aballad celebrating the achievements of TOM BOSTOCK; who in a sea-fight performedprodigies of valour. The stanzaon which this ingenious writer has exercisedhis witis as follows:

"Then old Tom Bostock he fell to the work

He pray'd like a Christianbut fought like a Turk

And cut 'em off all in a jerk

Which no body can deny" &c.- M.] -

Yetvery soon after its commencementthere were who felt and acknowledgedits uncommon excellence. Verses in its praise appeared in the newspapers; andthe editor of the Gentleman's Magazine mentionsin Octoberhis having receivedseveral letters to the same purpose from the learned. "The StudentorOxford and Cambridge Miscellany" in which Mr. Bonnell Thornton and Mr.Colman were the principal writersdescribes it as "a work that exceeds anything of the kind ever published in this kingdomsome of the Spectatorsexcepted- if indeed they may be excepted." And afterwards"May thepublick favours crown his meritsand may not the Englishunder the auspiciousreign of GEORGE the secondneglect a manwhohad he lived in the firstcenturywould have been one of the greatest favourites of Augustus." Thisflattery of the monarch had no effect. It is too well knownthat the secondGeorge never was an Augustus to learning or genius.

Johnson told mewith an amiable fondnessa little pleasing circumstancerelative to this work. Mrs. Johnsonin whose judgement and taste he had greatconfidencesaid to himafter a few numbers of the Rambler had come out"I thought very well of you before; but I did not imagine you could havewritten any thing equal to this." Distant praisefrom whatever quarterisnot so delightful as that of a wife whom a man loves and esteems. Herapprobation may be said to "come home to his bosom; " and being sonearits effect is most sensible and permanent.

Mr. James Elphinstonwho has since published various worksand who was everesteemed by Johnson as a worthy manhappened to be in Scotland while theRambler was coming out in single papers at London. With a laudable zeal at oncefor the improvement of his countrymenand the reputation of his friendhesuggested and took the charge of an edition of those Essays at Edinburghwhichfollowed progressively the London publication. * -

* It was executed in the printing-office of SandsMurrayand Cochranwithuncommon eleganceupon writing paperof a duodecimo sizeand with thegreatest correctness: and Mr. Elphinston enriched it with translations of themottos. When completedit made eight handsome volumes. It isunquestionablythe most accurate and beautiful edition of this work; and there being but asmall impressionit is now become scarceand sells at a very high price.

[With respect to the correctness of this editionthe authour probablyderived his information from some other personand appears to have beenmisinformed; for it was not accurately printedas we learn from Mr. A.Chalmers.- J. BOSWELL.] -

The following letter written at this timethough not datedwill show howmuch pleased Johnson was with this publicationand what kindness and regard hehad for Mr. Elphinston. -


[No date. ]


"I cannot but confess the failures of my correspondencebut hope thesame regard which you express for me on every other occasionwill incline youto forgive me. I am oftenvery oftenill; andwhen I am wellam obliged towork: andindeedhave never much used myself to punctuality. You arehowevernot to make unkind inferenceswhen I forbear to reply to your kindness; for beassuredI never receive a letter from you without great pleasureand a verywarm sense of your generosity and friendshipwhich I heartily blame myself fornot cultivating with more care. In thisas in many other casesI go wronginopposition to conviction; for I think scarce any temporal good equally to bedesired with the regard and familiarity of worthy men. I hope we shall be sometime nearer to each otherand have a more ready way of pouring out our hearts.

"I am glad that you still find encouragement to proceed in yourpublicationand shall beg the favour of six more volumes to add to my formersixwhen you canwith any conveniencesend them me. Please to present a setin my nameto Mr. Ruddiman* of whomI hearthat his learning is not hishighest excellence. I have transcribed the mottosand returned themI hope nottoo lateof which I think many very happily performed. Mr. Cave has put thelast in the magazine*(2) in which I think he did well. I beg of you to writesoonand to write oftenand to write long letterswhich I hope in time torepay you; but you must be a patient creditor. I havehoweverthis ofgratitudethat I think of you with regardwhen I do notperhapsgive theproofs which I oughtof beingSir

"Your most obliged and

"Most humble servant


* Mr. Thomas Ruddimanthe learned grammarian of Scotlandwell known forknown for his various excellent worksand for his accurate editions of severalauthours. He was also a man of a most worthy private character. His zeal for theRoyal House of Stewart did not render him less estimable in Dr. Johnson's eye.

*(2) [If the Magazine here referred to be that for October 1752(See GENT.MAG. vol. 22p. 468) then this letter belongs to a later period. If it relatesto the Magazine for Sept. 1750(See GENT. MAG. vol. 20p. 406.) then it may beascribed to the month of October in that yearand should have followed thesubsequent letter.- M.] -

This year he wrote to the same gentleman another letter upon a mournfuloccasion. -


"September 251750.


"You haveas I find by every kind of evidencelost an excellentmother; and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. Ihave a mothernow eighty-two years of agewhomthereforeI must soon loseunless it please GOD that she should rather mourn for me. I read the letters inwhich you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahanand think I do myselfhonourwhen I tell you that I read them with tears; but tears are neither toyou nor to me of any farther usewhen once the tribute of nature has been paid.The business of life summons us away from useless griefand calls us to theexercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. Thegreatest benefit which one friend can confer upon anotheris to guardandexciteand elevatehis virtues. This your mother will still performif youdiligently preserve the memory of her lifeand of her death: a lifeso far asI

can learnusefulwiseand innocent; and a death resignedpeacefulandholy. I cannot forbear to mentionthat neither reason nor revelation denies youto hopethat you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and thatshe mayin her present statelook with pleasure upon every act of virtue towhich her instructions or example have contributed. Whether this be more than apleasing dreamor a just opinion of separate spiritsisindeedof no greatimportance to uswhen we consider ourselves as acting under the eye of GOD:yetsurelythere is something pleasing in the beliefthat our separation fromthose whom we love is merely corporeal; and it may be a great incitement tovirtuous friendshipif it can be made probablethat that union that hasreceived the divine approbation shall continue to eternity.

"There is one expedient by which you mayin some degreecontinue herpresence. If you write down minutely what you remember of her from your earliestyearsyou will read it with great pleasureand receive from it many hints ofsoothing recollectionwhen time shall remove her yet farther from youand yourgrief shall be matured to veneration. To thishowever painful for the presentI cannot but advise youas to a source of comfort and satisfaction in the timeto come; for all comfort and all satisfaction is sincerely wished you bydearSir

"Your most obligedmost obedient

"And most humble servant


The Rambler has increased in fame as in age. Soon after its first folioedition was concludedit was published in six duodecimo volumes; * and itsauthour lived to see ten numerous editions of it in Londonbeside those ofIreland and Scotland. -

* This is not quite accurate. In the GENT. MAG. for Nov. 1751while the workwas yet proceedingis an advertisementannouncing that four volumes of theRambler would speedily be published; and it is believed that they were publishedin the next month. The fifth and sixth volumeswith tables of contents andtranslations of the mottoswere published in July 1752by Payne (the originalpublisher) three months after the close of the work.

When the Rambler was collected into volumesJohnson revised and corrected itthroughout. Mr. Boswell was not aware of this circumstancewhich has latelybeen discovered and accurately stated by Mr. Alexander Chalmers in a new editionof these and various other periodical Essaysunder the title of "theBritish Essayists."- M.] -

I profess myself to have ever entertained a profound veneration for theastonishing force and vivacity of mindwhich the Rambler exhibits. That Johnsonhad penetration enough to seeand seeing would not disguise the general miseryof man in this state of beingmay have given rise to the superficial notion ofhis being too stern a philosopher. But men of reflection will be sensible thathe has given a true representation of human existenceand that he hasat thesame timewith a generous benevolence displayed every consolation which ourstate affords us; not only those arising from the hopes of futuritybut such asmay be attained in the immediate progress through life. He has not depressed thesoul to despondency and indifference. He has every where inculcated studylabourand exertion. Nayhe has shewnin a very odious lighta man whosepractice is to go about darkening the views of othersby perpetual complaintsof eviland awakening those considerations of danger and distresswhich arefor the most partlulled into a quiet oblivion. This he has done very stronglyin his character of Suspirius* from which Goldsmith took that of Croakerinhis comedy of "The Good-natured Man" as Johnson told me heacknowledged to himand which isindeedvery obvious. -

* No. 55. -

To point out the numerous subjects which the Rambler treatswith a dignityand perspicuity which are there united in a manner which we shall in vain lookfor anywhere elsewould take up too large a portion of my bookand wouldItrustbe superfluousconsidering how universally those volumes are nowdisseminated. Even the most condensed and brilliant sentences which theycontainand which have very properly been selected under the name of"BEAUTIES" * are of considerable bulk. But I may shortly observethat the Rambler furnishes such an assemblage of discourses on practicalreligion and moral dutyof critical investigationsand allegorical andoriental talesthat no mind can be thought very deficient that hasby constantstudy and meditationassimilated to itself all that may be found there. No. 7written in Passion-week on abstraction and self-examinationand No. 110onpenitence and the placability of the Divine Naturecannot be too often read.No. 54on the effect which the death of a friend should have upon usthoughrather too dispiritingmay be occasionally very medicinal to the mind. Everyone must suppose the writer to have been deeply impressed by a real scene; buthe told me that was not the case; which shews how well his fancy could conducthim to the "house of mourning." Some of these more solemn papersIdoubt notparticularly attracted the notice of Dr. Youngthe authour of"The Night Thoughts" of whom my estimation is suchas to reckon hisapplause an honour even to Johnson. I have seen volumes of Dr. Young's copy ofthe Ramblerin which he has marked the passages which he thought particularlyexcellentby folding down a corner of the page; and such as he rated in asuper-eminent degree are marked by double folds. I am sorry that some of thevolumes are lost. Johnson was pleased when told of the minute attention withwhich Young had signified his approbation of his Essays. -

* Dr. Johnson was gratified by seeing this selectionand wrote to Mr.Kearsleybookseller in Fleet-streetthe following note:

"Mr. Johnson sends compliments to Mr. Kearsleyand begs the favour ofseeing him as soon as he can. Mr. Kearsley is desired to bring with him the lastedition of what he has honoured with the name of BEAUTIES. May 201782." -

I will venture to saythat in no writings whatever can be found more barkand steel for the mindif I may use the expression; more that can brace andinvigorate every manly and noble sentiment. No. 32 on patienceeven underextreme miseryis wonderfully loftyand as much above the rant of stoicismasthe Sun of Revelation is brighter than the twilight of Pagan philosophy. I neverread the following sentence without feeling my frame thrill: "I think thereis some reason for questioning whether the body and mind are not soproportionedthat the one can bear all which can be inflicted on the other;whether virtue cannot stand its ground as long as lifeand whether a soul wellprincipled will not be sooner separated than subdued."

Though instruction be the predominant purpose of the Rambleryet it isenlivened with a considerable portion of amusement. Nothing can be moreerroneous than the notion which some persons have entertainedthat Johnson wasthen a retired authourignorant of the world; and

of consequencethat he wrote only from his imaginationwhen he describedcharacters and manners. He said to methat before he wrote that workhe hadbeen "running about the world" as he expressed itmore than almostany body; and I have heard him relatewith much satisfactionthat several ofthe characters in the Rambler were drawn so naturallythat when it firstcirculated in numbersa club in one of the towns in Essex imagined themselvesto be severally exhibited in itand were much incensed against a person whothey suspectedhad thus made them objects of publick notice; nor were theyquieted till authentick assurance was given themthat the Rambler was writtenby a person who had never heard of any one of them. Some of the characters arebelieved to have been actually drawn from the lifeparticularly that ofProspero from Garrick* who never entirely forgave its pointed satire. Forinstances of fertility of fancyand accurate description of real lifeI appealto No. 19a man who wanders from one profession to anotherwith most plausiblereason for every change: No. 34female fastidiousness and timorous refinement:No. 82a Virtuoso who has collected curiosities: No. 88petty modes ofentertaining a companyand conciliating kindness: No. 182fortune-hunting: No.194-195a tutor's account of the follies of his pupil: No. 197-198legacy-hunting. He has given a specimen of his nice observation of the mereexternal appearances of lifein the following passage in No. 179againstaffectationthat frequent and most disgusting quality: "He that stands tocontemplate the crowds that fill the streets of a populous citywill see manypassengerswhose air and motions it will be difficult to behold withoutcontempt and laughter; but if he examine what are the appearances that thuspowerfully excite his risibilityhe will find among them neither poverty nordiseasenor any involuntary or painful defect. The disposition to derision andinsultis awakened by the softness of fopperythe swell of insolencetheliveliness of levityor the solemnity of grandeur; by the sprightly tripthestately stalkthe formal strutand the lofty mien; by gestures intended tocatch the eyeand by looks elaborately formed as evidences of importance."-

* [That of GELIDUS in No. 24from Professor Colson(see p. 54 of this vol.)and that of EUPHUES in the same paperwhichwith many otherswas doubtlessdrawn from the life. EUPHUESI once thoughtmight have been intended torepresent either Lord Chesterfield or Soame Jenyns: but Mr. Bindleywith moreprobabilitythinksthat George Bubb Dodingtonwho was remarkable for thehomeliness of his personand the finery of his dresswas the person meantunder that character.- M.] -

Every page of the Rambler shews a mind teeming with classical allusion andpoetical imagery: illustrations from other writers areupon all occasionssoreadyand mingle so easily in his periodsthat the whole appears of oneuniform vivid texture.

The style of this work has been censured by some shallow criticks as involvedand turgidand abounding with antiquated and hard words. So ill-founded is thefirst part of this objectionthat I will challenge all who may honour this bookwith a perusalto point out any English writer whose language conveys hismeaning with equal force and perspicuity. It mustindeedbe allowedthat thestructure of his sentences is expandedand often has somewhat of the inversionof Latin; and that he delighted to express familiar thoughts in philosophicallanguage; being in this the reverse of Socrateswhoit is saidreducedphilosophy to the simplicity of common life. But us attend to what he himselfsays in his concluding paper: "When common words were less pleasing to theearor less distinct in their significationI have familiarised the terms ofphilosophyby applying them to popular ideas." * Andas to the secondpart of this objectionupon a late careful revision of the workI can withconfidence saythat it is amazing how few of those wordsfor which it has beenunjustly characterisedare actually to be found in it; I am surenot theproportion of one to each paper. This idle charge has been echoed from onebabbler to anotherwho have confounded Johnson's Essays with Johnson'sDictionary; and because he thought it right in a Lexicon of our language tocollect many words which had fallen into disusebut were supported by greatauthoritiesit has been imagined that all of this have been woven into his owncompositions. That some of them have been adopted by him unnecessarilymayperhapsbe allowed; butin general they are evidently an advantageforwithout them his stately ideas would be confined and cramped. "He thatthinks with more extent than anotherwill want words of larger meaning."*(2) He once told methat he had formed his style upon that of Sir WilliamTempleand upon Chambers's Proposal for his Dictionary. *(3) He certainly wasmistaken; or if he imagined at first that he was imitating Templehe was veryunsuccessful*(4) for nothing can be more unlike than the simplicity of Templeand the richness of Johnson. Their styles differ as plain cloth and brocade.Templeindeedseems equally erroneous in supposing that he himself had formedhis style upon Sandys's View of the State of Religion in the Western parts ofthe World. -

* Yet his style did not escape the harness shafts of pleasant humour; for theingenious Bonnell Thornton published a mock Rambler in the Drury-lane Journal.

*(2) IdlerNo. 70.

*(3) [The paper here alluded to wasI believeChambers's Proposal for asecond and improved edition of his DictionarywhichI thinkappeared in 1738.This Proposal was probably in circulation in 1737when Johnson first came toLondon.- M.]

*(4) [The authour appears to me to have misunderstood Johnson in thisinstance. He did notI conceivemean to saythatwhen he first began towritehe made Sir William Temple his modelwith a view to form a style thatshould resemble his in all its parts; but that he formed his style on that ofTemple and others; by taking from each those characteristic excellencies whichwere most worthy of imitation.- See this matter further explained under April 91778; wherein a conversation at Sir Joshua Reynolds'sJohnson himselfmentions the particular improvements which Temple made in the English style.Thesedoubtlesswere the objects of his imitationso far as that writer washis model.- M.] -

The style of Johnson wasundoubtedlymuch formed upon that of the greatwriters in the last centuryHookerBaconSandersonHakewelland others;those "GIANTS" as they were well characterised by A GREAT PERSONAGEwhose authoritywere I to name himwould stamp a reverence on the opinion.

We maywith the utmost proprietyapply to his learned style that passage ofHoracea part of which he has taken as the motto to his Dictionary: -

"Cum tabulis animum censoris sumet honesti;

Audebit quaecumque parum splendoris habebunt

Et sine pondere eruntet honore indigna ferentur

Verba movere locoquamvis invita recedant

Et versentur adhuc intra penetralia Vestae.

Obscurata diu populo bonus eruetatque

Proferet in lucem speciosa vocabula rerum

Quae priscis memorata Catonibus atque Cethegis

Nunc situs informis premit et deserta vetustas:

Adsciscet novaquae genitor produxerit usus:

Vehemenset liquiduspuroque simillimus amni

Fundet opes Latiumque beabit divite lingua." * -

* Horat. Epist. Lib. ii. Epist. ii. -

To so great a master of thinkingto one of such vast and various knowledgeas Johnsonmight have been allowed a liberal indulgence of that licence whichHorace claims in another place: -

"-Si forte necesse est

Indiciis monstrare recentibus abdita rerum

Fingere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis

Contingetdabiturque licentia sumpta pudenter:

Et nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidemsi

Graeco fonte cadantparce detorta. Quid autem

Caecilio Plautoque dabit Romanusademptum

Virgilio Varioque? Ego curacquirere pauca

Si possuminvideor; cum lingua Catonis et Enni

Sermonem patrium ditaveritet nova rerum

Nomina protulerit? Licuitsemperque licebit

Signatum praesente nota producere nomen." * -

* Horat. De Arte Poetica. -

Yet Johnson assured methat he had not taken upon him to add more than fouror five words to the English languageof his own formation; and he was verymuch offended at the general licence by no means "modestly taken" inhis timenot only to coin new wordsbut to use many words in senses quitedifferent from their established meaningand those frequently very fantastical.

Sir Thomas Brownwhose Life Johnson wrotewas remarkably fond ofAnglo-Latin diction; and to his example we are to ascribe Johnson's sometimesindulging himself in this kind of phraseology. * Johnson's comprehension of mindwas the mould for his language. Had his conceptions been narrowerhisexpression would have been easier. His sentences have a dignified march; anditis certainthat his example has given a general elevation to the language ofhis countryfor many of our best writers have approached very near to him; andfrom the influence which he has had upon our compositionscarcely any thing iswritten now that is not better expressed than was usual before he appeared tolead the national taste. -

* The observation of his having imitated Sir Thomas Brown has been made bymany people; and lately it has been insisted onand illustrated by a variety ofquotations from Brownin one of the popular Essays written by the Reverend Mr.Knoxmaster of Tunbridge-schoolwhom I have set down in my list of those whohave sometimes not unsuccessfully imitated Dr. Johnson's style. -

This circumstancethe truth of which must strike every critical readerhasbeen so happily enforced by Mr. Courtenayin his "Moral and LiteraryCharacter of Dr. Johnson" that I cannot prevail on myself to withhold itnotwithstanding hisperhapstoo great partiality for one of his friends: -

"By nature's gifts ordain'd mankind to rule

Helike a Titianform'd his brilliant school;

And taught congenial spirits to excel

While from his lips impressive wisdom fell.

Our boasted GOLDSMITH felt the sovereign sway;

From him deriv'd the sweetyet nervous lay.

To Fame's proud cliff he bade our Raffaelle rise:

Hence REYNOLDS' pen with REYNOLDS' pencil vies.

With Johnson's flame melodious BURNEY glows

While the grand strain in smoother cadence flows.

And youMALONEto critick learning dear

Correct and elegantrefin'd though clear

By studying himacquir'd that classick taste

Which high in Shakspeare's fane thy statue plac'd.

Near Johnson STEVENS standson scenick ground

Acutelaboriousfertileand profound.

Ingenious HAWKESWORTH to this school we owe

And scarce the pupil from the tutor know.

Here early parts accomplish'd JONES sublimes

And science blends with Asia's lofty rhymes:

Harmonious JONES! who in his splendid strains

Sings Camdeo's sportson Agra's flowery plains

In Hindu fictions while we fondly trace

Love and the Musesdeck'd with Attick grace.

Amid these names can BOSWELL be forgot

Scarce by North Britons now esteem'd a Scot? *

Who to the sage devoted from his youth

Imbib'd from him the sacred love of truth;

The keen researchthe exercise of mind

And that best artthe art to know mankind.-

Nor was his energy confin'd alone

To friends around his philosophick throne;

Its influence wide improv'd our letter'd isle

And lucid vigour mark'd the general style:

As Nile's proud wavesswoln from their oozy bed

First o'er the neighbouring meads majestick spread;

Till gathering forcethey more and more expand

And with new virtue fertilise the land." -

* The following observation in Mr. Boswell's Journal of a Tour to theHebrides may sufficiently account for that Gentleman's being "now scarcelyesteemed a Scot" by many of his countrymen: "If he [Dr. Johnson] wasparticularly prejudiced against the Scotsit was because they were more in hisway; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the dueproportion of their real merit; and because he could not but see in them thatnationality whichI believeno liberal-minded Scotchman will deny." Mr.Boswellindeedis so free from national prejudicesthat he might with equalpropriety have been described as-

"Scarce by South Britons now esteem'd a Scot."


Johnson's languagehowevermust be allowed to be too masculine for thedelicate gentleness of female writing. His ladiesthereforeseem strangelyformaleven to ridicule; and are well denominated by the names which he hasgiven themas MisellaZozimaProperantiaRhodoclia.

It has of late been the fashion to compare the style of Addison and Johnsonand to depreciateI thinkvery unjustlythe style of Addison as nerveless andfeeblebecause it has not the strength and energy of that of Johnson. Theirprose may be balanced like the poetry of Dryden and Pope. Both are excellentthough in different ways.

Addison writes with the ease of a gentleman. His readers fancy that a wiseand accomplished companion is talking to them; so that he insinuates hissentiments and taste into their minds by an imperceptible influence. Johnsonwrites like a teacher. He dictates to his readers as if from an academicalchair. They attend with awe and admiration; and his precepts are impressed uponthem by his commanding eloquence. Addison's stylelike a light winepleaseseverybody from the first. Johnson'slike a liquor of more bodyseems toostrong at firstbutby degreesis highly relished; and such is the melody ofhis periodsso much do they captivate the earand seize upon the attentionthat there is scarcely any writerhowever inconsiderablewho does not aiminsome degreeat the same species of excellence. But let us not ungratefullyundervalue that beautiful stylewhich has pleasingly conveyed to us muchinstruction and entertainment. Though comparatively weakopposed to Johnson'sHerculean vigourlet us not call it positively feeble. Let us remember thecharacter of his styleas given by Johnson himself: "What he attempted heperformed: he is never feebleand he did not wish to be energetick; he is neverrapidand he never stagnates. His sentences have neither studied amplitudenoraffected brevity: his periodsthough not diligently roundedare voluble andeasy. * Whoever wishes to attain an English stylefamiliar but not coarseandelegant but not ostentatiousmust give his days and nights to the volumes ofAddison." *(2) -

* [When Johnson shewed me a proof-sheet of the character of Addisonin whichhe so highly extols his styleI could not help observingthat it had not beenhis own modelas no two styles could differ more from each other.- "SirAddison had his styleand I have mine."- When I ventured to ask himwhether the difference did not consist in thisthat Addison's style was full ofidiomscolloquial phrasesand proverbs; and his own more strictly grammaticaland free from such phraseology and modes of speech as can never be literallytranslated or understood by foreigners; he allowed the discrimination to bejust.- Let any one who doubts ittry to translate one of Addison's Spectatorsinto LatinFrenchor Italian; and though so easyfamiliarand elegant to anEnglishmanas to give the intellect no trouble; yet he would find thetransfusion into another language extremely difficultif not impossible. But aRamblerAdventureror Idlerof Johnsonwould fall into any classical orEuropean languageas easily as if it had been originally conceived in it.-BURNEY.]

*(2) I shall probablyin another workmaintain the merit of Addison'spoetrywhich has been very unjustly depreciated. -

Though the Rambler was not concluded till the year 1752I shallunder thisyearsay all that I have to observe upon it. Some of the translations of themottos by himselfare admirably done. He acknowledges to have received"elegant translations" of many of them from Mr. James Elphinston; andsome are very happily translated by a Mr. F. Lewisof whom I never heard moreexcept that Johnson thus described him to Mr. Malone: "Sirhe lived inLondonand hung loose upon society." * The concluding paper of his Rambleris at once dignified and pathetick. I cannothoweverbut wishthat he had notended it with an unnecessary Greek versetranslated *(2) also into an Englishcouplet. It is too much like the conceit of those dramatick poetswho used toconclude each act with a rhyme; and the expression in the first line of hiscouplet"Celestial powers" though proper in Pagan poetryis illsuited to Christianitywith "a conformity" to which he consoleshimself. How much better would it have beento have ended with the prosesentence "I shall never envy the honours which wit and learning obtain inany other causeif I can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour tovirtueand confidence to truth." -

* [In the Gentleman's Magazine for October1752p. 468he is styled"the Rev. Francis Lewisof Chiswick." The late Lord Macartneywhilehe resided at Chiswickat my requestmade some inquiry concerning him at thatplacebut no intelligence was obtained.

The translations of the mottos supplied by Mr. Elphinstonappeared first inthe Edinburgh edition of the Ramblerand in some instances were revised andimprovedprobably by Johnsonbefore they were inserted in the London octavoedition. The translations of the mottos affixed to the first thirty numbers ofthe Ramblerwere publishedfrom the Edinburgh editionin the Gentleman'sMagazine for September1750before the work was collected into volumes.- M.]

*(2) [Not in the original editionin folio.- M.] -

His friendDr. Birchbeing now engaged in preparing an edition of Raleigh'ssmaller piecesDr. Johnson wrote the following letter to that gentleman: -


"Gough-squareMay 121750.


"KNOWING that you are now preparing to favour the publick with a newedition of Raleigh's miscellaneous piecesI have taken the liberty to send youa Manuscriptwhich fell by chance within my notice. I perceive no proofs offorgery in my examination of it; and the owner tells methat he has heardthehand-writing is Sir Walter's. If you should find reason to conclude it genuineit will be a kindness to the ownera blind person* to recommend it to thebooksellers. I amSir

"Your most humble servant


* Mrs. Williams is probably the person meant. -

His just abhorrence of Milton's political notions was ever strong. But thisdid not prevent his warm admiration of Milton's great poetical meritto whichhe has done illustrious justicebeyond all who have written upon the subject.And this year he not only wrote a Prologuewhich was spoken by Mr. Garrickbefore the acting of Comus at Drury-lane theatrefor the benefit of Milton'sgrand-daughterbut took a very zealous interest in the success of the charity.On the day preceding the performancehe published the following letter in the"General Advertiser" addressed to the printer of that paper: -


"THAT a certain degree of reputation is acquired merely by approving theworks of geniusand testifying a regard to the memory of authoursis a truthtoo evident to be denied; and therefore to ensure a participation of fame with acelebrated poetmanywho wouldperhapshave contributed to starve him whenalivehave heaped expensive pageants upon his grave. *

"It mustindeedbe confessedthat this method of becoming known toposterity with honouris peculiar to the greator at least to the wealthy; butan opportunity now offers for almost every individual to secure the praise ofpaying a just regard to the illustrious deadunited with the pleasure of doinggood to the living. To assist industrious indigencestruggling with distressand debilitated by ageis a display of virtueand an acquisition of happinessand honour.

"Whoeverthenwould be thought capable of pleasure in reading theworks of our incomparable Miltonand not so destitute of gratitude as to refuseto lay out a trifle in rational and elegant entertainmentfor the benefit ofhis living remainsfor the exercise of their own virtuethe increase of theirreputationand the pleasing consciousness of doing goodshould appear atDrury-lane theatre to-morrowApril 5when Comus will be performed for thebenefit of Mrs. Elizabeth Fostergrand-daughter to the authour*(2) and theonly surviving branch of his family.

"N.B. There will be a new prologue on the occasionwritten by theauthour of Ireneand spoken by Mr. Garrick; andby particular desiretherewill be added to the Masque a dramatick satirecalled Lethein which Mr.Garrick will perform." -

* [Alluding probably to Mr. Auditor Benson. See the Dunciadb. iv.- M.]

*(2) [Mrs. Elizabeth Foster died May 91754.- A. CHALMERS.]

1751: AETAT. 42 -

In 1751 we are to consider him as carrying on both his Dictionary andRambler. But he also wrote "The Life of Cheynel" (@) in themiscellany called "The Student;" and the Reverend Dr. Douglas havingwith uncommon acuteness clearly detected a gross forgery and imposition upon thepublick by William Laudera Scotch schoolmasterwho hadwith equal impudenceand ingenuityrepresented Milton as a plagiary from certain modern Latin poetsJohnsonwho had been so far imposed upon as to furnish a Preface and Postscriptto his worknow dictated a letter for Lauderaddressed to Dr. Douglasacknowledging his fraud in terms of suitable contrition. * -

* Lest there should be any personat any future periodabsurd enough tosuspect that Johnson was a partaker in Lauder's fraudor had any knowledge ofitwhen he assisted him with his masterly penit is proper here to quote thewords of Dr. Douglasnow Bishop of Salisburyat the time when he detected theimposition. "It is to be hopednay it is expectedthat the elegant andnervous writerwhose judicious sentiments and inimitable style point out theauthour of Lauder's Preface and postscriptwill no longer allow one to plumehimself with his featherswho appeareth so little to deserve assistance: anassistance which I am persuaded would never have been communicatedhad therebeen the least suspicion of those facts which I have been the instrument ofconveying to the world in these sheets." Milton no Plagiary2d. edit. p.78. And his Lordship has been pleased now to authorise me to sayin thestrongest mannerthat there is no ground whatever for any unfavourablereflection against Dr. Johnsonwho expressed the strongest indignation againstLauder.

[Lauder renewed his attempts on Milton's character in 1754in a pamphletentitled"The Grand Impostor detectedor Milton convicted of forgeryagainst King Charles I;"- which was reviewedprobably by Johnsonin theGent. Mag. 1754p. 97.- A. CHALMERS.]

[Lauder afterwards went to Barbadoeswhere he died very miserably about theyear 1771.- M.] -

This extraordinary attempt of Lauder was no sudden effort. He had broodedover it for many years: and to this hour it is uncertain what his principalmotive wasunless it were a vain notion of his superiorityin being ablebywhatever meansto deceive mankind. To effect thishe produced certain passagesfrom GrotiusMaseniusand otherswhich had a faint resemblance to some partsof the "Paradise Lost." In these he interpolated some fragments ofHog's Latin translation of that poemalledging that the mass thus fabricatedwas the archetype from which Milton copied. These fabrications he published fromtime to time in the Gentleman's Magazine; andexulting in his fancied successhe in 1750 ventured to collect them into a pamphletentitled "An Essay onMilton's Use and Imitation of the Moderns in his Paradise Lost." To thispamphlet Johnson wrote a Prefacein full persuasion of Lauder's honestyand aPostcript recommendingin the most persuasive termsa subscription for therelief of a grand-daughter of Miltonof whom he thus speaks: "It is yet inthe power of a great people to reward the poet whose name they boastand fromtheir alliance to whose genius they claim some kind of superiority to everyother nation of the earth; that poetwhose works may possibly be read whenevery other monument of British greatness shall be obliterated; to reward himnot with pictures or with medalswhichif he seeshe sees with contemptbutwith tokens of gratitudewhich heperhapsmay even now consider as notunworthy the regard of an immortal spirit." Surely this is inconsistentwith "enmity towards Milton" which Sir John Hawkins imputes toJohnson upon this occasionadding"I could all along observe that Johnsonseemed to approve not only of the designbut of the argument; and seemed toexult in a persuasionthat the reputation of Milton was likely to suffer bythis discovery. That he was not privy to the impostureI am well persuaded;that he wished well to the argumentmay be inferred from the Prefacewhichindubitably was written by Johnson." Is it possible for any man of clearjudgement to suppose that Johnsonwho so nobly praised the poetical excellenceof Milton in a Postscript to this very "discovery" as he thensupposed itcouldat the same timeexult in a persuasion that the greatpoet's reputation was likely to suffer by it? This is an inconsistency of whichJohnson was incapable; nor can any thing more be fairly inferred from thePrefacethan that Johnsonwho was alike distinguished for ardent curiosity andlove of truthwas pleased with an investigation by which both were gratified.That he was actuated by these motivesand certainly by no unworthy desire todepreciate our great epick poetis evident from his own words; foraftermentioning the general zeal of men of genius and literature"to advancethe honourand distinguish the beauties of Paradise Lost" he says"Among the inquiries to which this ardour of criticism has naturally givenoccasionnone is more obscure in itselfor more worthy of rational curiositythan a retrospect of the progress of this mighty genius in the construction ofhis work; a view of the fabrick gradually risingperhapsfrom smallbeginningstill its foundation rests in the centreand its turrets sparkle inthe skies; to trace back the structure through all its varietiesto thesimplicity of its first plan; to find what was first projectedwhence thescheme was takenhow it was improvedby what assistance it was executedandfrom what stores the materials were collected; whether its founder dug them fromthe quarries of Natureor demolished other buildings to embellish hisown."- * Is this the language of one who wished to blast the laurels ofMilton? -

* ["Proposals (written evidently by Johnson) for printing the ADAMUSEXUL of Grotiuswith a Translation and Notes by Wm. LauderA.M." Gent.Mag. 1747. vol. 17. p. 404.- M.] -

Though Johnson's circumstances were at this time far from being easyhishumane and charitable disposition was constantly exerting

itself. Mrs. Anna Williamsdaughter of a very ingenious Welsh physiciananda woman of more than ordinary talents and literaturehaving come to London inhopes of being cured of a cataract in both her eyeswhich afterwards ended intotal blindnesswas kindly received as a constant visitor at his house whileMrs. Johnson lived; andafter her deathhaving come under his roof in order tohave an operation upon her eyes performed with more comfort to her than inlodgingsshe had an apartment from him during the rest of her lifeat alltimes when he had a house.

1752: AETAT. 43 -

In 1752 he was almost entirely occupied with his Dictionary. The last paperof his Rambler was published March 2* this year; after whichthere was acessation for some time of any exertion of his talents as an essayist. Butinthe same yearDr. Hawkesworthwho was his warm admirerand a studiousimitator of his styleand then lived in great intimacy with himbegan aperiodical paperentitled"THE ADVENTURER" in connection with othergentlemenone of whom was Johnson's much-loved friendDr. Bathurst; andwithout doubtthey received many valuable hints from his conversationmost ofhis friends having been so assisted in the course of their works. -

* [Here the author's memory failed himforaccording to the account givenin a former page(see Aetat. 41) we should here read March 17; but in truthashas been already observedthe Rambler closed on Saturday the fourteenth ofMarch; at which time Mrs. Johnson was near her endfor she died on thefollowing TuesdayMarch 17. Had the concluding paper of that work been writtenon the day of her deathit would have been still more extraordinary than it isconsidering the extreme grief into which the author was plunged by that event.-The melancholy cast of that concluding essay is sufficiently accounted for bythe situation of Mrs. Johnson at the time it was written; and her death threedays afterwards put an end to the Paper.- M.] -

That there should be a suspension of his literary labours during a part ofthe year 1752will not seem strangewhen it is considered that soon afterclosing his Ramblerhe suffered the loss which there can be no doubtaffectedhim with the deepest distress. For on the 17th of MarchO.S.his wife died.Why Sir John Hawkins should unwarrantably take upon him even to suppose thatJohnson's fondness for her was dissembled (meaning simulated or assumed) and toassertthat if it was not the case"it was a lesson he had learned byrote" I cannot conceive; unless it proceeded from a want of similarfeelings in his own breast. To argue from her being much older than Johnsonorany other circumstancesthat he could not really love heris absurd; for loveis not a subject of reasoningbut of feelingand therefore there are no commonprinciples upon which one can persuade another concerning it. Every man feelsfor himselfand knows how he is affected by particular qualities in the personhe admiresthe impressions of which are too minute and delicate to besubstantiated in language.

The following very solemn and affecting prayer was found after Dr. Johnson'sdeceaseby his servantMr. Francis Barberwho delivered it to my worthyfriend the Reverend Mr. StrahanVicar of Islingtonwho at my earnest requesthas obligingly favoured me with a copy of itwhich he and I compared with theoriginal. I present it to the world as an undoubted proof of a circumstance inthe character of my illustrious friendwhichthough some whose hard minds Inever shall envymay attack as superstitiouswill I am sure endear him more tonumbers of good men. I have an additionaland that a personal motive forpresenting itbecause it sanctions what I myself have always maintained and amfond to indulge: -

"April 261752being after 12

at Night of the 25th.

"O Lord! Governor of heaven and earthin whose hands are embodied anddeparted Spiritsif thou hast ordained the Souls of the Dead to minister to theLivingand appointed my departed Wife to have care of megrant that I mayenjoy the good effects of her attention and ministrationwhether exercised byappearanceimpulsesdreamsor in any other manner agreeable to thyGovernment. Forgive my presumptionenlighten my ignoranceand however meaneragents are employedgrant me the blessed influences of thy holy SpiritthroughJesus Christ our Lord. Amen." -

What actually followed upon this most interesting piece of devotion byJohnsonwe are not informed; but Iwhom it has pleased to afflict in a similarmanner to that which occasioned ithave certain experience of benignantcommunication by dreams.

That his love for his wife was of the most ardent kindandduring the longperiod of fifty yearswas unimpaired by the lapse of timeis evident fromvarious passages in the series of his Prayers and Meditationspublished by theReverend Mr. Strahanas well as from other memorialstwo of which I selectasstrongly marking the tenderness and sensibility of his mind.

"March 281753. I kept this day as the anniversary of my Tetty's deathwith prayer and tears in the morning. In the evening I prayed for herconditionallyif it were lawful."

"April 231753. I know not whether I do not too much indulge the vainlongings of affection; but I hope they intenerate my heartand that when I dielike my Tettythis affection will be acknowledged in a happy interviewandthat in the mean time I am incited by it to piety. I willhowevernot deviatetoo much from common and received methods of devotion."

Her wedding-ringwhen she became his wifewasafter her deathpreservedby himas long as he livedwith an affectionate carein a little round woodenboxin the inside of which he pasted a slip of paperthus inscribed by him infair charactersas follows: -


Eliz. Johnson

Nupta Jul. 91736


Mart. 171752." -

After his deathMr. Francis Barberhis faithful servantand residuarylegateeoffered this memorial of tenderness to Mrs. Lucy PorterMrs. Johnson'sdaughter; but she having declined to accept of ithe had it enamelled as amourning ring for his old masterand presented it to his wifeMrs. Barberwhonow has it.

The state of mind in which a man must be upon the death of a woman whom hesincerely loveshad been in his contemplation for many years before. In hisIRENEwe find the following fervent and tender speech of Demetriusaddressedto his Aspasia: -

"From those bright regions of eternal day

Where now thou shin'st amongst thy fellow saints

Array'd in purer lightlook down on me!

In pleasing visions and assuasive dreams

O! sooth my souland teach me how to lose thee." -

I haveindeedbeen told by Mrs. Desmoulinswhobefore her marriagelivedfor some time with Mrs. Johnson at Hampsteadthat she indulged herself incountry air and nice livingat an unsuitable expencewhile her husband wasdrudging in the smoke of Londonand that she by no means treated him with thatcomplacency which is the most engaging quality in a wife. But all this isperfectly compatible with his fondness for herespecially when it is rememberedthat he had a high opinion of her understandingand that the impressions whichher beautyreal or imaginaryhad originally made upon his fancybeingcontinued by habithad not been effacedthough she herself was doubtless muchaltered for the worse. The dreadful shock of separation took place in the night;and he immediately dispatched a letter to his friendthe Reverend Dr. Taylorwhichas Taylor told meexpressed grief in the strongest manner he had everread; so that it is much to be regretted it has not been preserved. * The letterwas brought to Dr. Taylorat his house in the CloystersWestminsteraboutthree in the morning; and as it signified an earnest desire to see himhe gotupand went to Johnson as soon as he was dressedand found him in tears and inextreme agitation. After being a little while togetherJohnson requested him tojoin with him in prayer. He then prayed extemporeas did Dr. Taylor; and thusby means of that piety which was ever his primary objecthis troubled mind wasin some degreesoothed and composed. -

* [In the Gentleman's Magazine for February1794(p. 100) was printed aletter pretending to be that written by Johnson on the death of his wife. But itis merely a transrcipt of the 41st number of "The Idler" on the deathof a friend. A fictitious dateMarch 171751O.S.was added by some personpreviously to this paper's being sent to the publisher of that miscellanytogive a colour to this deception.- M.] -

The next day he wrote as follows: -



"Let me have your company and instruction. Do not live away from me. Mydistress is great.

"Pray desire Mrs. Taylor to inform me what mourning I should buy for mymother and Miss Porterand bring a note in writing with you.

"Remember me in your prayersfor vain is the help of man.

"I amdear Sir&c.


"March 181752." -

That his sufferings upon the death of his wife were severebeyond what arecommonly enduredI have no doubtfrom the information of many who were thenabout himto none of whom I give more credit than to Mr. Francis Barberhisfaithful negro servant* who came into his family about a fortnight after thedismal event. These sufferings were aggravated by the melancholy inherent in hisconstitution; and although he probably was not oftener in the wrong than shewasin the little disagreements which sometimes troubled his married stateduring whichhe owned to methat the gloomy irritability of his existence wasmore painful to him than everhe might very naturallyafter her deathbetenderly disposed to charge himself with slight omissions and offencesthesense of which would give him much uneasiness. *(2) Accordingly we findabout ayear after her deceasethat he thus addressed the Supreme Being: "O LORDwho givest the grace of repentanceand hearest the prayers of the penitentgrant that by true condition I may obtain forgiveness of all the sins committedand of all duties neglectedin my union with the wife whom thou hast taken fromme; for the neglect of joint devotionpatient exhortationand mildinstruction." *(3) The kindness of his heartnotwithstanding theimpetuosity of his temperis well known to his friends; and I cannot trace thesmallest foundation for the following dark and uncharitable assertion by SirJohn Hawkins: "The apparition of his departed wife was altogether of theterrifick kindand hardly afforded him a hope that she was in a state ofhappiness." *(4) That hein conformity with the opinion of many of themost ablelearnedand pious Christians in all agessupposed that there was amiddle state after deathprevious to the time at which departed souls arefinally received to eternal felicityappearsI thinkunquestionably from hisdevotions: *(5) "AndO LORDso far as it may be lawful in meI commendto thy fatherly goodness the soul of my departed wife; beseeching thee to granther whatever is best in her present stateand finally to receive her to eternalhappiness." *(6) But this state has not been looked upon with horrourbutonly as less gracious. -

* Francis Barber was born in Jamaicaand was brought to England in 1750 byColonel Bathurstfather of Johnson's very intimate friendDr. Bathurst. He wassentfor some timeto the Reverend Mr. Jackson's schoolat BartoninYorkshire. The Colonel by his will left him his freedomand Dr. Bathurst waswilling that he should enter into Johnson's servicein which he continued from1752 till Johnson's deathwith the exception of two intervals; in one of whichupon some difference with his masterhe went and served an apothecary inCheapsidebut still visited Dr. Johnson occasionally; in anotherhe took afancy to go to sea. Part of the timeindeedhe wasby the kindness of hismasterat a school in Northamptonshirethat he might have the advantage ofsome learning. So earlyand so lasting a connection was there between Dr.Johnson and this humble friend.

*(2) [See his beautiful and affecting RamblerNo. 54.- M.]

*(3) Prayers and Meditationsp. 19.

*(4) Hawkins's Life of Johnsonp. 316.

*(5) [It does not appear that Johnson was fully persuaded that there was amiddle state: his prayers being only conditionali.e. if such a state existed.-M.]

*(6) Prayers and Meditationsp. 20. -

He deposited the remains of Mrs. Johnson in the Church of Bromley in Kent*to which he was probably led by the residence of his friend Hawkesworth at thatplace. The funeral sermon which he composed for herwhich was never preachedbut having been given to Dr. Taylorhas been published since his deathis aperformance of uncommon excellenceand full of rational and pious comfort tosuch as are depressed by that severe affliction which Johnson felt when he wroteit. When it is considered that it was written in such an agitation of mindandin the short interval between her death and burialit cannot be read withoutwonder. -

* [A few months before his deathJohnson honoured her memory by thefollowing epitaphwhich was inscribed on her tombstonein the church ofBromley:

Hic conduntur reliquiae


Antiqua Jarvisiorum gente

Peatlingaeapud Leicestriensesortae;


Uxorisprimis nuptiisHENRICI PORTER


Qui multum amatamdiuque defletam

Hoc lapide contexit.

Obiit LondiniMense Mart.

A.D. MDCCLII. -M.] -

From Mr. Francis Barber I have had the following authentick and artlessaccount of the situation in which he found him recently after his wife's death:"He was in great affliction. Mrs. Williams was then living in his housewhich was in Gough-square. He was busy with the Dictionary. Mr. Shielsand someothers of the gentlemen who had formerly written for himused to come abouthim. He had then little for himselfbut frequently sent money to Mr. Shielswhen in distress. The friends who visited him at that timewere chiefly Dr.Bathurst* and Mr. Diamondan apothecary in Cork-streetBurlington-gardenswith whom he and Mrs. Williams generally dined every Sunday. There was a talk ofhis going to Iceland with himwhich would probably have happenedhad he lived.There was also Mr. CaveDr. HawkesworthMr. Rylandmerchant on Tower-hillMrs. Mastersthe poetesswho lived with Mr. CaveMrs. Carterand sometimesMrs. Macaulay; alsoMrs. Gardinerwife of a tallow-chandler on Snow-hillnotin the learned waybut a worthy good woman; Mr. (now Sir Joshua) Reynolds; Mr.MillerMr. DodsleyMr. BouquetMr. Payneof Paternoster-rowbooksellers;Mr. Strahanthe printer; the Earl of OrreryLord SouthwellMr. Garrick."-

* Dr. Bathurstthough a physician of no inconsiderable merithad not thegood fortune to get much practice in London. He wasthereforewilling toaccept of employment abroadandto the regret of all who knew himfell asacrifice to the destructive climatein the expedition against the Havannah.Mr. Langton recollects the following passage in a letter from Dr. Johnson to Mr.Beauclerk: "The Havannah is taken:- a conquest too dearly obtained; forBathurst died before it.

'Vix Priamus tanti totaque Troja fuit.'" -

Many areno doubtomitted in this catalogue of his friendsand inparticularhis humble friend Mr. Robert Levetan obscure practiser in physickamongst the lower peoplehis fees being sometimes very small sumssometimeswhatever provisions his patients could afford him; but of such extensivepractice in that waythat Mrs. Williams has told mehis walk was fromHoundsditch to Marylebone. It appears from Johnson's diarythat theiracquaintance commenced about the year 1746; and such was Johnson's predilectionfor himand fanciful estimation of his moderate abilitiesthat I have heardhim say he should not be satisfiedthough attended by all the College ofPhysiciansunless he had Mr. Levet with him. Ever since I was acquainted withDr. Johnsonand many years beforeas I have been assured by those who knew himearlierMr. Levet had an apartment in his houseor his chambersand waitedupon him every morningthrough the whole course of his late and tediousbreakfast. He was of a strange grotesque appearancestiff and formal in hismannerand seldom said a word while any company was present. * -

* [A more particular account of this person may be found in the Gentleman'sMagazine for February 1785. It originally appeared in the St. James's ChronicleandI believewas written by the late George SteevensEsq.- M.] -

The circle of his friendsindeedat this time was extensive and variousfar beyond what has been generally imagined. To trace his acquaintance with eachparticular personif it could be donewould be a taskof which the labourwould not be repaid by the advantage. But exceptions are to be made; one ofwhich must be a friend so eminent as Sir Joshua Reynoldswho was truly hisdulce decusand with whom he maintained an uninterrupted intimacy to the lasthour of his life. When Johnson lived in Castle-streetCavendish-squarehe usedfrequently to visit two ladies who lived opposite to himMiss Cotterellsdaughters of Admiral Cotterell. Reynolds used also to visit thereand thus theymet. Mr. Reynoldsas I have observed abovehadfrom the first reading of hisLife of Savageconceived a very high admiration of Johnson's powers of writing.His conversation no less delighted him; and he cultivated his acquaintance withthe laudable zeal of one who was ambitious of general improvement. Sir Joshuaindeedwas lucky enough at their very first meeting to make a remarkwhich wasso much above the commonplace style of conversationthat Johnson at onceperceived that Reynolds had the habit of thinking for himself. The ladies wereregretting the death of a friendto whom they owed great obligations; uponwhich Reynolds observed"You have howeverthe comfort of being relievedfrom a burthen of gratitude." They were shocked a little at thisalleviating suggestionas too selfish; but Johnson defended it in his clear andforcible mannerand was much pleased with the mindthe fair view of humannature* which is exhibitedlike some of the reflections of Rochefoucauld. Theconsequence wasthat he went home with Reynoldsand supped with him. -

* [Johnson himself has a sentiment somewhat similar in his 87th Rambler:"There are minds so impatient of inferioritythat their gratitude is aspecies of revengeand they return benefitsnot because recompence is apleasurebut because obligation is a pain."- J. BOSWELL.] -

Sir Joshua told me a pleasant characteristical anecdote of Johnson about thetime of their first acquaintance. When they were one evening together at theMiss Cotterells'the then Duchess of Argyle and another lady of high rank camein. Johnson thinking that the Miss Cotterells were too much engrossed by themand that he and his friend were neglectedas low company of whom they weresomewhat ashamedgrew angry; and resolving to shock their supposed pridebymaking their great visitors imagine that his friend and he were low indeedheaddressed himself in a loud tone to Mr. Reynoldssaying"How much do youthink you and I could get in a weekif we were to work as hard as wecould?"- as if they had been common mechanicks.

His acquaintance with Bennet LangtonEsq. of Langtonin Lincolnshireanother much valued friendcommenced soon after the conclusion of his Rambler;which that gentlemanthen a youthhad read with so much admirationthat hecame to London chiefly with a view of endeavouring to be introduced to itsauthour. By a fortunate chance he happened to take lodgings in a house where Mr.Levet frequently visited; and having mentioned his wish to his landladysheintroduced him to Mr. Levetwho readily obtained Johnson's permission to bringMr. Langton to him; asindeedJohnsonduring the whole course of his lifehad no shynessreal or affectedbut was easy of access to all who wereproperly recommendedand even wished to see numbers at his leveeas hismorning circle of company mightwith strict proprietybe called. Mr. Langtonwas exceedingly surprised when the sage first appeared. He had not received thesmallest intimation of his figuredressor manner. From perusing his writingshe fancied he should see a decentwell-drestin shorta remarkably decorousphilosopher. Instead of whichdown from his bed-chamberabout nooncameasnewly risena hugeuncouth figurewith a little dark wig which scarcelycovered his headand his clothes hanging loose about him. But his conversationwas so richso animatedand so forcibleand his religious and politicalnotions so congenial with those in which Langton had been educatedthat heconceived for him that veneration and attachment which he ever preserved.Johnson was not the less ready to love Mr. Langtonfor his being of a veryancient family; for I have heard him saywith pleasure"LangtonSirhasa grant of free warren from Henry the Second; and Cardinal Stephen LangtoninKing John's reignwas of this family."

Mr. Langton afterwards went to pursue his studies at Trinity CollegeOxfordwhere he formed an acquaintance with his fellow-studentMr. Topham Beauclerk;whothough their opinions and modes of life were so differentthat it seemedutterly improbable that they should at all agreehad so ardent a love ofliteratureso acute an understandingsuch elegance of mannersand so welldiscerned the excellent qualities of Mr. Langtona gentleman eminent not onlyfor worth and learningbut for an inexhaustible fund of entertainingconversationthat they became intimate friends.

Johnsonsoon after this acquaintance beganpassed a considerable time atOxford. He at first thought it strange that Langton should associate so muchwith one who had the character of being looseboth in his principles andpractice: butby degreeshe himself was fascinated. Mr. Beauclerk's being ofthe St. Alban's familyandhavingin some particularsa resemblance toCharles the Secondcontributedin Johnson's imaginationto throw a lustreupon his other qualities; and in a short timethe moralpious Johnsonand thegay dissipated Beauclerkwere companions. "What a coalition! (saidGarrickwhen he heard of this:) I shall have my old friend to bail out of theRound-house." But I can bear testimony that it was a very agreeableassociation. Beauclerk was too politeand valued learning and wit too muchtooffend Johnson by sallies of infidelity or licentiousness; and Johnson delightedin the good qualities of Beauclerkand hoped to correct the evil. Innumerablewere the scenes in which Johnson was amused by these young men. Beauclerk couldtake more liberty with himthan any body with whom I ever saw him; buton theother handBeauclerk was not spared by his respectable companionswhen reproofwas proper. Beauclerk had such a propensity to satirethat at one time Johnsonsaid to him"You never open your mouth but with intention to give pain;and you have often given me painnot from the power of what you saidbut fromseeing your intention." At another time applying to himwith a slightalterationa line of Popehe said-

Thy love of follyand thy scorn of fools- -

Every thing thou dost shews the oneand every thing thou say'st theother." At another time he said to him"Thy body is all viceand thymind all virtue." Beauclerk not seeming to relish the complimentJohnsonsaid"NaySirAlexander the Greatmarching in triumph into Babyloncould not have desired to have had more said to him."

Johnson was some time with Beauclerk at his house at Windsorwhere he wasentertained with experiments in natural philosophy. One Sundaywhen the weatherwas very fineBeauclerk enticed himinsensiblyto saunter about all themorning. They went into a church-yardin the time of divine serviceandJohnson laid himself down at his ease upon one of the tomb-stones. "NowSir(said Beauclerk) you are like Hogarth's Idle Apprentice." When Johnsongot his pensionBeauclerk said to himin the humourous phrase of Falstaff"I hope you'll now purge and live cleanlylike a gentleman."

One nightwhen Beauclerk and Langton had supped at a tavern in Londonandsat till about three in the morningit came into their heads to go and knock upJohnsonand see if they could prevail on him to join them in a ramble. Theyrapped violently at the door of his chambers in the Templetill at last heappeared in his shirtwith his little black wig on the top of his headinsteadof a night-capand a poker in his handimaginingprobablythat some ruffianswere coming to attack him. When he discovered who they wereand was told theirerrandhe smiledand with great good humour agreed to their proposal:"Whatis it youyou dogs! I'll have a frisk with you." * He was soondrestand they sallied forth together into Covent-Gardenwhere thegreengrocers and fruiterers were beginning to arrange their hampersjust comein from the country. Johnson made some attempts to help them; but the honestgardeners stared so at his figure and mannerand odd interferencethat he soonsaw his services were not relished. They then repaired to one of theneighbouring tavernsand made a bowl of that liquor called BishopwhichJohnson had always liked; while in joyous contempt of sleepfrom which he hadbeen rousedhe repeated the festive lines-

"ShortO short then be thy reign

And give us to the world again!" *(2) -

* [Johnsonas Mr. Kemble observes to memight here have had in his thoughtsthe words of Sir John Brute(a character which doubtless he had seenrepresented by Garrick) who uses nearly the same expression in "theProvoked Wife" Act III. Sc. i- M.]

*(2) Mr. Langton recollectedor Dr. Johnson repeatedthe passage wrong. Thelines are in Lord Lansdowne's Drinking Song to Sleepand run thus:

"Shortvery short be then they reign

For I'm in haste to laugh and drink again." -

They did not stay longbut walked down to the Thamestook a boatand rowedto Billingsgate. Beauclerk and Johnson were so well pleased with theiramusementthat they resolved to persevere in dissipation for the rest of theday: but Langton deserted thembeing engaged to breakfast with some youngLadies. Johnson scolded him for "leaving his social friends to go and sitwith a set of wretched un-idea'd girls." Garrick being told of this ramblesaid to him smartly"I heard of your frolick t'other night. You'll be inthe Chronicle." Upon which Johnson afterwards observed"He durst notdo such a thing. His wife would not let him!"

1753: AETAT. 44 -

He entered upon this year 1753 with his usual pietyas appears followingprayerwhich I transcribed from that part of his diary which he burnt a fewdays before his death:

"Jan. 11753N.S. which I shall use for the future.

"Almighty GODwho has continued my life to this daygrant thatby theassistance of thy Holy SpiritI may improve the time that thou shalt grant meto my eternal salvation. Make me to rememberto thy glorythy judgements andthy mercies. Make me so to consider the loss of my wifewhom thou hast takenfrom methat it may dispose meby thy graceto lead the residue of my life inthy fear. Grant thisO Lordfor JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen."

He now relieved the drudgery of his Dictionaryand the melancholy of hisgriefby taking an active part in the composition of "TheAdventurer" in which he began to writeApril 10marking his essays withthe signature Tby which most of his papers in that collection aredistinguished: thosehoweverwhich have that signature and also that ofMysargyruswere not written by himbutas I supposeby Dr. Bathurst. IndeedJohnson's energy of thought and richness of languageare still more decisivemarks than any signature. As a proof of thismy readersI imaginewill notdoubt that number 39on sleepis his; for it not only has the general textureand colour of his stylebut the authours with whom he was peculiarly conversantare readily introduced in it in cursory allusion. The translation of a passagein Statius * quoted in that paperand marked C.B. has been erroneously ascribedto Dr. Bathurstwhose Christian name was Richard. How much this amiable manactually contributed to "The Adventurer" cannot be known. Let me addthat Hawkesworth's imitations of Johnson are sometimes so happythat it isextremely difficult to distinguish themwith certaintyfrom the compositionsof his great archetype. Hawkesworth was his closest imitatora circumstance ofwhich that writer would once have been proud to be told; thoughwhen he hadbecome elated by having risen into some degree of consequencehein aconversation with mehad the provoking effrontery to say he was not sensible ofit. -

* [This is a slight inaccuracy. The Latin Sapphicks translated by C.B. inthat paper were written by Cowleyand are in his fourth book on Plants.- M.] -

Johnson was truly zealous for the success of "The Adventurer;" andvery soon after his engaging in ithe wrote the following letter: -



"I OUGHT to have written to you before nowbut I ought to do manythings which I do not; nor can Iindeedclaim any merit from this letter; forbeing desired by the authours and proprietor of the Adventurer to look out foranother handmy thoughts necessarily fixed upon youwhose fund of literaturewill enable you to assist themwith very little interruption of your studies.

"They desire you to engage to furnish one paper a monthat two guineasa paperwhich you may very readily perform. We have considered that a papershould consist of pieces of imaginationpictures of lifeand disquisitions ofliterature. The part which depends on the imagination is very well suppliedasyou will find when you read the paper; for descriptions of lifethere is now atreaty almost made with an authour and an authouress; * and the province ofcriticism and literature they are very desirous to assign to the commentator onVirgil.

"I hope this proposal will not be rejectedand that the next post willbring us your compliance. I speak as one of the fraternitythough I have nopart in the paperbeyond now and then a motto; but two of the writers are myparticular friendsand I hope the pleasure of seeing a third united to themwill not be denied todear Sir

"Your most obedient

"And most humble servant


"March 81753." -

* [It is not improbablethat the "authour and authouresswith whom atreaty was almost made- for descriptions of life" and who are mentionedin a manner that seems to indicate some connexion between themwere Henryandhis sister SallyFieldingas she was then popularly called. Fielding hadpreviously been a periodical essayistand certainly was well acquainted withlife in all its varietiesmore especially within the precincts of London; andhis sister was a lively and ingenious writer. To this notion perhaps it may beobjectedthat no papers in THE ADVENTURER are known to be their productions.But it should be rememberedthat of several of the Essays in that work theauthours are unknown; and some of these may have been written by the personshere supposed to be alluded to. Nor would the objection be decisiveeven if itwere ascertained that neither of them contributed any thing to THE ADVENTURER;for the treaty above-mentioned might afterwards have been broken off. Thenegotiatordoubtlesswas Hawkesworthand not Johnson.- Fielding was at thistime in the highest reputation; havingin 1751produced his AMELIAof whichthe whole impression was sold off on the day of its publication.- M.] -

The consequence of this letter wasDr. Warton's enriching the collectionwith several admirable essays.

Johnson's saying "I have no part in the paperbeyond now and then amotto" may seem inconsistent with his being the authour of the papersmarked T. But he hadat this timewritten only one number; * and besidesevenat any after periodhe might have used the same expressionconsidering it as apoint of honour not to own them; for Mrs. Williams told me thatas he had giventhose Essays to Dr. Bathurstwho sold them at two guineas eachhe never wouldown them; nayhe used to sayhe did not write them; but the fact wasthat hedictated themwhile Bathurst wrote." I read to him Mrs. Williams' account;he smiledand said nothing. -

* [The authourI conceiveis here in an errour. He had before statedthatJohnson began to write in "the Adventurer" on April 10th (when No. 45was published) above a month after the date of his letter to Dr. Warton. Thetwo papers published previouslywith the signature Tand subscribedMYSARGYRUS(No. 34 and 41) were writtenI believeby Bonnell Thorntonwhocontributed also all the papers signed A. This information I received severalyears ago; but do not precisely remember from whom I derived it. I believehowevermy informer was Dr. Warton.

With respect to No. 39on Sleepwhich our authour has ascribed to Johnson(see earlier in this section) even if it were written by himit would not beunconsistent with his statement to Dr. Warton; for it appeared on March 20thnear a fortnight after the date of Johnson's letter to that gentleman.- But onconsidering it attentivelythough the style bears a strong resemblance to thatof JohnsonI believe it was written by his friendDr. Bathurstand perhapstouched in a few places by Johnson. Mr. Boswell has observedthat "thispaper not only has the general texture and colour of his stylebut the authourswith whom he was peculiarly conversant are readily introduced in itin cursoryallusion." Now the authours mentioned in that paper areFontenelleMiltonRamazziniMadlle. de ScuderiSwiftHomerBarretierStatiusCowleyand Sir Thomas Browne. With many of thesedoubtlessJohnson was particularlyconversant; but I doubt whether he would have characterised the expressionquoted from Swiftas elegant; and with

the works of RAMAZZINI it is very improbable that he should have beenacquainted. Ramazzini was a celebrated physicianwho died at Paduain 1714atthe age of 81; with whose writings Dr. Bathurst may be supposed to have beenconversant. So also with respect to Cowley: Johnsonwithout doubthad read hisLatin poem on Plants; but Bathurst's profession probably led him to read it withmore attention than his friend had given to it; and Cowley's eulogy on the Poppywould more readily occur to the Naturalist and the Physicianthan to a moregeneral reader. I believehoweverthat the last paragraph of the paper onSleepin which Sir Thomas Browne is quotedto shew the propriety of prayerbefore we lie down to restwas added by Johnson.- M.] -

I am not quite satisfied with the casuistry by which the productions of oneperson are thus passed upon the world for the productions of another. I allowthat not only knowledgebut powers and qualities of mind may be communicated;but the actual effect of individual exertion never can be transferredwithtruthto any other than its own original cause. One person's child may be madethe child of another person by adoptionas among the Romansor by the ancientJewish mode of a wife having children borne to her upon her kneesby herhandmaid. But these were children in a different sense from that of nature. Itwas clearly understood that they were not of the blood of their nominal parents.So in literary childrenan authour may give the profits and fame of hiscomposition to another manbut cannot make that other the real authour. AHighland gentlemana younger branch of a familyonce consulted me if he couldnot validly purchase the Chieftainship of his family from the Chiefwho waswilling to sell it. I told him it was impossible for him to acquirebypurchasea right to be a different person from what he really was; for that theright of Chieftainship attached to the blood of primogenitureandthereforewas incapable of being transferred. I addedthat though Esau sold hisbirth-rightor the advantages belonging to ithe still remained the first-bornof his parents; and that whatever agreement a Chief might make with any of theclanthe Heralds-Office could not admit of the metamorphosisor with anydecency attest that the younger was the elder; but I did not convince the worthygentleman.

Johnson's papers in the Adventurer are very similar to those of the Rambler;but being rather more varied in their subjects* and being mixed with essays byother writersupon topicks more generally attractive than even the most elegantethical discoursesthe sale of the workat firstwas more extensive. Withoutmeaninghoweverto depreciate the AdventurerI must observethat as thevalue of the Rambler camein the progress of timeto be better knownit grewupon the publick estimationand that its sale has far exceeded that of anyother periodical papers since the reign of Queen Anne. -

* [Dr. Johnson lowered and somewhat disguised his stylein writing theAdventurersin order that his Papers might pass for those of Dr. Bathursttowhom he consigned the profits. This was Hawkesworth's opinion.- BURNEY.] -

In one of the books of his diary I find the following entry: -

"Apr. 31753. I began the second vol. of my Dictionaryroom being leftin the first for PrefaceGrammarand History none of them yet begun.

"O GODwho hast hitherto supported meenable me to proceed in thislabourand in the whole task of my present state; that when I shall render upat the last dayan account of the talent committed to meI may receive pardonfor the sake of JESUS CHRIST. Amen." -

He this year favoured Mrs. Lennox with a Dedication (@) to the Earl ofOrreryof her "Shakspeare illustrated. * -

* [Two of Johnson's Lettersaddressed to Samuel Richardsonauthour ofCLARRISSA&c. the former dated March 91750-1the other September 261753are preserved in Richardson's CORRESPONDENCE8vo. 1804vol. v. pp.281-284. In the latter of these letters Johnson suggested to Richardsonthepropriety of making an Index to his three works: "but while I am writing(he adds) an objection arises; such an index to the three would look like thepreclusion of a fourthto which I will never contribute; for if I cannotbenefit mankindI hope never to injure them." Richardsonhoweveradoptedthe hint; for in 1755 he published in octavo"A collection of the Moraland Instructive SentimentsMaximsCautionsand Reflectionscontained in theHistories of PamelaClarissaand Sir Charles Grandisondigested under properheads."

It is remarkablethat both to this bookand to the first two volumes ofClarissais prefixed a Prefaceby a friend. The "friend" in thislatter instancewas the celebrated Dr. Warburton.- M.]

1754: AETAT. 45 -

In 1754 I can trace nothing published by himexcept his numbers of theAdventurerand "The Life of Edward Cave" (@) in the Gentleman'sMagazine for February. In biography there can be no question that he excelledbeyond all who have attempted that species of composition; upon whichindeedhe set the highest value. To the minute selection of characteristicalcircumstancesfor which the ancients were remarkablehe added a philosophicalresearchand the most perspicuous and energetick language. Cave was certainly aman of estimable qualitiesand was eminently diligent and successful in his ownbusinesswhich doubtless entitled him to respect. But he was peculiarlyfortunate in being recorded by Johnson; whoof the narrow life of a printer andpublisherwithout any digressions or adventitious circumstanceshas made aninteresting and agreeable narrative.

The Dictionarywe may believeafforded Johnson full occupation this year.As it approached to its conclusionhe probably worked with redoubled vigourasseamen increase their exertion and alacrity when they have a near prospect oftheir haven.

Lord Chesterfieldto whom Johnson had paid the high compliment of addressingto his Lordship the Plan of his Dictionaryhad behaved to him in such a manneras to excite his contempt and indignation. The world has been for many yearsamused with a story confidently toldand as confidently repeated withadditional circumstancesthat a sudden disgust was taken by Johnson uponoccasion of his having been one day kept long in waiting in his Lordship'santechamberfor which the reason assigned wasthat he had company with him;and that at lastwhen the door openedout walked Colley Cibber; and thatJohnson was so violently provoked when he found for whom he had been so longexcludedthat he went away in a passionand never would return. I rememberhaving mentioned this story to George Lord Lytteltonwho told mehe was veryintimate with Lord Chesterfield; and holding it as a well-known truthdefendedLord Chesterfield by sayingthat "Cibberwho had been introducedfamiliarly by the back-stairshad probably not been there above tenminutes." It may seem strange even to entertain a doubt concerning a storyso long and so wildly currentand thus implicitly adoptedif not sanctionedby the authority which I have mentioned; but Johnson himself assured methatthere was not the least foundation for it. He told methat there never was anyparticular incident which produced a quarrel between Lord Chesterfield and him;but that his Lordship's continued neglect was the reason why he resolved to haveno connexion with him. When the Dictionary was upon the eve of publicationLordChesterfieldwhoit is saidhad flattered himself with expectations thatJohnson would dedicate the work to himattemptedin a courtly mannertosoothe and insinuate himself with the Sageconsciousas it should seemof thecold indifference with which he had treated its learned authour; and furtherattempted to conciliate himby writing two papers in "The World" inrecommendation of the work; and it must be confessedthat they contain somestudied complimentsso finely turnedthat if there had been no previousoffenceit is probable that Johnson would have been highly delighted. Praisein generalwas pleasing to him; but by praise from a man of rank and elegantaccomplishmentshe was peculiarly gratified.

His Lordship says"I think the publick in generaland the republick ofletters in particularare greatly obliged to Mr. Johnsonfor havingundertakenand executed so great and desirable a work. Perfection is not to beexpected from man: but if we are to judge by the various works of Johnsonalready publishedwe have good reason to believethat be will bring this asnear to perfection as any man could do. The plan of itwhich he published someyears agoseems to me to be a proof of it. Nothing can be more rationallyimaginedor more accurately and elegantly expressed. I therefore recommend theprevious perusal of it to all those who intend to buy the Dictionaryand whoIsupposeare all those who can afford it." -

* * * * * * -

"It must be ownedthat our language isat presentin a state ofanarchyand hithertoperhapsit may not have been the worse for it. Duringour free and open trademany words and expressions have been importedadoptedand naturalized from other languageswhich have greatly enriched our own. Letit still preserve what real strength and beauty it may have borrowed fromothers; but let it notlike the Tarpeian maidbe overwhelmed and crushed byunnecessary ornaments. The time for discrimination seems to be now come.Tolerationadoptionand naturalization have run their lengths. Good order andauthority are now necessary. But where shall we find themand at the same timethe obedience due to them? We must have recourse to the old Roman expedient intimes of confusionand chuse a dictator. Upon this principleI give my votefor Mr. Johnsonto fill that great and arduous postand I hereby declarethatI make a total surrender of all my rights and privileges in the Englishlanguageas a free-born British subjectto the said Mr. Johnsonduring theterm of his dictatorship. Nay moreI will not only obey him like an old Romanas my dictatorbutlike a modern RomanI will implicitly believe in him as myPopeand hold him to be infallible while in the chairbut no longer. More thanthis he cannot well require; forI presumethat obedience can never beexpectedwhere there is neither terrour to enforcenor interest to inviteit." -

* * * * * * -

"But a Grammara Dictionaryand a History of our Languagethrough itsseveral stageswere still wanting at homeand importunately called for fromabroad. Mr. Johnson's labours will nowI dare sayvery fully supply that wantand greatly contribute to the farther spreading of our language in othercountries. Learners were discouragedby finding no standard to resort to; andconsequentlythought it incapable of any. They will now be undeceived andencouraged."

This courtly device failed of its effect. Johnsonwho thought that "allwas false and hollow" despised the honeyed wordsand was even indignantthat Lord Chesterfield shouldfor a momentimaginethat he could be the dupeof such an artifice. His expression to me concerning Lord Chesterfielduponthis occasionwas"Sirafter making great professionshe hadfor manyyearstaken no notice of me; but when my Dictionary was coming outhe fell ascribbling in 'The World' about it. Upon whichI wrote him a letter expressedin civil termsbut such as might shew him that I did not mind what he said orwroteand that I had done with him."

This is that celebrated letter of which so much has been saidand aboutwhich curiosity has been so long excitedwithout being gratified. I for manyyears solicited Johnson to favour me with a copy of itthat so excellent acomposition might not be lost to posterity. He delayed from time to time to giveit me; * till at last in 1781when we were on a visit at Mr. Dilly'satSouthill in Bedfordshirehe was pleased to dictate it to me from memory. Heafterwards found among his papers a copy of itwhich he had dictated to Mr.Barettiwith its title and correctionsin his own hand-writing. This he gaveto Mr. Langton; adding that if it were to come into printhe wished it to befrom that copy. By Mr. Langton's kindnessI am enabled to enrich my work with aperfect transcript of what the world has so eagerly desired to see. -

* Dr. Johnson appeared to have had a remarkable delicacy with respect to thecirculation of this letter; for Dr. DouglasBishop of Salisburyinforms methat having many years ago pressed him to be allowed to read it to the secondLord Hardwickewho was very desirous to hear it(promising at the same timethat no copy of it should be taken) Johnson seemed much pleased that it hadattracted the attention of a nobleman of such a respectable character; but afterpausing some timedeclined to comply with the requestsayingwith a smile"NoSir; I have hurt the dog too much already;" or words to thatpurpose. -


"February 71755.


"I HAVE been lately informedby the proprietor of the Worldthat twopapersin which my Dictionary is recommended to the publickwere written byyour Lordship. To be so distinguishedis an honourwhichbeing very littleaccustomed to favours from the greatI know not well how to receiveor in whatterms to acknowledge.

"Whenupon some slight encouragementI first visited your LordshipIwas overpoweredlike the rest of mankindby the enchantment of your addressand could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainqueur duvainqueur de la terre;- that I might obtain that regard for which I saw theworld contending; but I found my attendance so little encouragedthat neitherpride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed yourLordship in publickI had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired anduncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is wellpleased to have his all neglectedbe it ever so little.

"Seven yearsmy Lordhave now pastsince I waited in your outwardroomsor was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing onmy work through difficultiesof which it is useless to complainand havebrought itat lastto the verge of publicationwithout one act of assistance* one word of encouragementor one smile of favour. Such treatment I did notexpectfor I never had a Patron before.

"The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Loveand found hima native of the rocks.

"Is not a Patronmy Lordone who looks with unconcern on a manstruggling for life in the waterandwhen he has reached groundencumbers himwith help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labourshad itbeen earlyhad been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferentandcannot enjoy it; till I am solitaryand cannot impart it; *(2) till I am knownand do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperitynot to confessobligations where no benefit has been receivedor to be unwilling that thePublick should consider me as owing that to a Patronwhich Providence hasenabled me to do for myself.

"Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to anyfavourer of learningI shall not be disappointed though I should conclude itif less be possiblewith less; for I have been long wakened from that dream ofhopein which I once boasted myself with so much exultation

"My Lord

"Your Lordship's most humble

"Most obedient servant

"SAM. JOHNSON." *(3) -

* The following note is subjoined by Mr. Langton. "Dr. Johnsonwhen hegave me this copy of his letterdesired that I would annex to it hisinformation to methat whereas it is said in the letter that 'no assistance hasbeen received' he did once receive from Lord Chesterfield the sum of tenpounds; but as that was so inconsiderable a sumhe thought the mention of itcould not properly find a place in a letter of the kind that this was."

*(2) In this passage Dr. Johnson evidently alludes to the loss of his wife.We find the same tender recollection recurring to his mind upon innumerableoccasions; andperhaps no man ever more forcibly felt the truth of thesentiment so elegantly expressed by my friend Mr. Malonein his Prologue to Mr.Jephson's tragedy of JULIA:

"Vain- wealthand fameand fortune's fostering care

If no fond breast the splendid blessings share;

Andeach day's bustling pageantry once past

Thereonly thereour bliss is found at last."

*(3) Upon comparing this copy with that which Dr. Johnson dictated to me fromrecollectionthe variations are found to be so slightthat this must be addedto the many other proofs which he gave of the wonderful extent and accuracy ofhis memory. To gratify the curious in compositionI have deposited both thecopies in the British Museum. -

"While this was the talk of the town(says Dr. Adamsin a letter tome) I happened to visit Dr. Warburtonwho finding that I was acquainted withJohnsondesired me earnestly to carry his compliments to himand to tell himthat he honoured him for his manly behaviour in rejecting these condescensionsof Lord Chesterfieldand for resenting the treatment he had received from himwith a proper spirit. Johnson was visibly pleased with this complimentfor hehad always a high opinion of Warburton. * Indeedthe force of mind whichappeared in this letterwas congenial with that which Warburton himself amplypossessed." -

* Soon after Edwards's "Canons of Criticism" came outJohnson wasdining at Tonson the bookseller'swith Hayman the Painter and some morecompany. Hayman related to Sir Joshua Reynoldsthat the conversation havingturned upon Edwards's bookthe gentleman praised it muchand Johnson allowedits merit. But when they went furtherand appeared to put that authour upon alevel with Warburton"Nay(said Johnson) he has given him some smarthits to be sure; but there is no proportion between the two men; they must notbe named together. A flySirmay sting a stately horseand make him wince;but one is but an insectand the other is a horse still." -

There is a curious minute circumstance which struck mein comparing thevarious editions of Johnson's Imitations of Juvenal. In the tenth Satire one ofthe couplets upon the vanity of wishes even for literary distinction stood thus:-

"Yet think what ills the scholar's life assail

Toilenvywantthe garretand the jail." -

But after experiencing the uneasiness which Lord Chesterfield's fallaciouspatronage made him feelhe dismissed the word garret from the sad groupand inall the subsequent editions the line stands-

"Toilenvywantthe Patronand the jail." -

That Lord Chesterfield must have been mortified by the lofty contemptandpoliteyet keensatire with which Johnson exhibited him to himself in thisletterit is impossible to doubt. Hehoweverwith that glossy duplicity whichwas his constant studyaffected to be quite unconcerned. Dr. Adams mentioned toMr. Robert Dodsley that he was sorry Johnson had written his letter to LordChesterfield. Dodsleywith the true feelings of tradesaid "he was verysorry too; for that he had a property in the Dictionaryto which his Lordship'spatronage might have been of consequence." He then told Dr. AdamsthatLord Chesterfield had shewn him the letter. "I should have imagined(replied Dr. Adams) that Lord Chesterfield would have concealed it.""Poh! (said Dodsley) do you think a letter from Johnson could hurt LordChesterfield? Not at allSir. It lay upon his tablewhere any body might seeit. He read it to me; said'this man has great powers' pointed out theseverest passagesand observed how well they were expressed." This air ofindifferencewhich imposed upon the worthy Dodsleywas certainly nothing but aspecimen of that dissimulation which Lord Chesterfield inculcated as one of themost essential lessons for the conduct of life. His Lordship endeavoured tojustify himself to Dodsley from the charges brought against him by Johnson; butwe may judge of the flimsiness of his defencefrom his having excused hisneglect of Johnsonby sayingthat "he had heard he had changed hislodgingsand did not know where he lived;" as if there could have been thesmallest difficulty to inform himself of that circumstanceby enquiring in theliterary circle with which his Lordship was well acquaintedand wasindeedhimselfone of its ornaments.

Dr. Adams expostulated with Johnsonand suggestedthat his not beingadmitted when he called on himwas probably not to be imputed to LordChesterfield; for his Lordship had declared to Dodsleythat "he would haveturned off the best servant he ever hadif he had known that he denied him to aman who would have been always more than welcome;" and in confirmation ofthishe insisted on Lord Chesterfield's general affability and easiness ofaccessespecially to literary men. "Sir(said Johnson) that is not LordChesterfield; he is the proudest man this day existing." "No(saidDr. Adams) there is one personat leastas proud; I thinkby your own accountyou are the prouder man of the two." "But mine (replied Johnsoninstantly) was defensive pride." Thisas Dr. Adams well observedwas oneof those happy turns for which he was so remarkably ready.

Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfielddidnot refrain from expressing himself concerning that nobleman with pointedfreedom: "This man (said he) I thought had been a Lord among wits; butIfindhe is only a wit among Lords!" * And when his Letters to his naturalson were publishedhe observedthat "they teach the morals of a whoreand the manners of a dancing-master." *(2) -

* [Johnson's character of Chesterfield seems to be imitated from- interdoctos nobilissimusinter nobiles doctissimusinter utrosque optimus; (exApuleio. v. Erasm.- Dedication of Adages to Lord Mountjoy; and from idiotes enphilosophoisphilosophs en idiotais. Proclus de Critia.- KEARNEY.]

*(2) That collection of letters cannot be vindicated from the serious chargeof encouragingin some passagesone of the vices most destructive to the goodorder and comfort of societywhich his Lordship represents as mere fashionablegallantry; andin othersof inculcating the base practice of dissimulationand recommendingwith disproportionate anxietya perpetual attention toexternal elegance of manners. But it mustat the same timebe allowedthatthey contain many good precepts of conductand much genuine information uponlife and mannersvery happily expressed; and that there was considerable meritin paying so much attention to the improvement of one who was dependent upon hisLordship's protection; it hasprobablybeen exceeded in no instance by themost exemplary parent; and though I can by no means approve of confounding thedistinction between lawful and illicit offspringwhich is in effectinsultingthe civil establishment of our countryto look no higher; I cannot helpthinking it laudable to be kindly attentive to thoseof whose existence wehavein any waybeen the cause. Mr. Stanhope's character has been unjustlyrepresented as diametrically opposite to what Lord Chesterfield wished him tobe. He has been called dullgrossand awkward: but I knew him at Dresdenwhenhe was Envoy to that court; and though he could not boast of the graceshe wasin trutha sensiblecivilwell-behaved man. -

The character of a "respectable Hottentot" in Lord Chesterfield'slettershas been generally understood to be meant for Johnsonand I have nodoubt that it was. But I remember when the Literary Property of those letterswas contested in the Court of Session in Scotlandand Mr. Henry Dundas* oneof the counsel for the proprietorsread this character as an exhibition ofJohnsonSir David DalrympleLord Hailesone of the judgesmaintainedwithsome warmththat it was not intended as a portrait of Johnsonbut of a latenoble Lorddistinguished for abstruse science. I have heard Johnson himselftalk of the characterand say that it was meant for George Lord Lytteltoninwhich I could by no means agree; for his Lordship had nothing of that violencewhich is a conspicuous feature in the composition. Finding that my illustriousfriend could bear to have it supposed that it might be meant for himI saidlaughinglythat there was one trait which unquestionably did not belong to him;"he throws his meat any where but down his throat." "Sir(saidhe) Lord Chesterfield never saw me eat in his life." -

* Now [1792] one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State. -

On the 6th of March came out Lord Bolingbroke's workspublished by Mr. DavidMallet. The wild and pernicious ravingsunder the name of"Philosophy" which were thus ushered into the worldgave greatoffence to all well-principled men. Johnsonhearing of their tendencywhichnobody disputedwas roused with a just indignationand pronounced thismemorable sentence upon the noble authour and his editor. "Sirhe was ascoundreland a coward: a scoundrel for charging a blunderbuss against religionand morality; a cowardbecause he had not resolution to fire it off himselfbut left half a crown to a beggarly Scotchmanto draw the trigger after hisdeath!" Garrickwho I can attest from my own knowledgehad his mindseasoned with pious reverenceand sincerely disapproved of the infidel writingsof severalwhom in the course of his almost universal gay intercourse with menof eminencehe treated with external civilitydistinguished himself upon thisoccasion. Mr. Pelham having died on the very day on which Lord Bolingbroke'sworks came outhe wrote an elegant Ode on his deathbeginning -

"Let others hail the rising sun

I bow to that whose course is run;" -

in which is the following stanza-

"The same sad mornto Church and State

(So for our sins'twas fixed by fate)

A double stroke was given;

Black as the whirlwinds of the North

St. John's fell genius issued forth

And Pelham fled to heaven." -

Johnson this year found an interval of leisure to make an excursion toOxfordfor the purpose of consulting the libraries there. Of thisand of manyinteresting circumstances concerning himduring a part of his life when heconversed but little with the worldI am enabled to give a particular accountby the liberal communications of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Wartonwho obliginglyfurnished me with several of our common friend's letterswhich he illustratedwith notes. These I shall insert in their proper places. -



"IT is but an ill return for the book with which you were pleased tofavour me* to have delayed my thanks for it till now. I am too apt to benegligent; but I can never deliberately shew my disrespect to a man of yourcharacter; and I now pay you a very honest acknowledgementfor the advancementof the literature of our native country. You have shewn to allwho shallhereafter attempt the study of our ancient authoursthe way to success; bydirecting them to the perusal of the books which those authours had read. Ofthis methodHughes*(2) and men much greater than Hughesseem never to havethought. The reason why the authourswhich are yet readof the sixteenthcenturyare so little understoodisthat they are read alone; and no help isborrowed from those who lived with themor before them. Some part of thisignorance I hope to remove by my book*(3) which now draws towards its end; butwhich I cannot finish to my mindwithout visiting the libraries of Oxfordwhich I therefore hope to see in a fortnight. *(4) I know not how long I shallstayor where I shall lodge; but shall be sure to look for you at my arrivaland we shall easily settle the rest. I amdear Sir

"Your most obedient&c.


"[London] July 161754." -

* Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queenthe first edition of which was nowpublished.

*(2) "Hughes published an edition of Spenser."

*(3) "His Dictionary."

*(4) "He came to Oxford within a fortnightand stayed about five weeks.He lodged at a house called Kettel Hallnear Trinity College. But during thisvisit at Oxfordhe collected nothing in the libraries for his Dictionary."-

Of his conversation while at Oxford at this timeMr. Warton preserved andcommunicated to me the following memorialwhichthough not written with allthe care and attention which that learned and elegant writer bestowed on thosecompositions which he intended for the publick eyeis so happily expressed inan easy stylethat I should injure it by any alteration:

"When Johnson came to Oxford in 1754the long vacation was beginningand most people were leaving the place. This was the first time of his beingthereafter quitting the University. The next morning after his arrivalhewished to see his old CollegePembroke. I went with him. He was highly pleasedto find all the College-servants which he had left there still remainingparticularly a very old butler; and expressed great satisfaction at beingrecognised by themand conversed with them familiarly. He waited on the masterDr. Radcliffewho received him very coldly. Johnson at least expectedthat themaster would order a copy of his Dictionarynow near publication; but themaster did not choose to talk on the subjectnever asked Johnson to dinenoreven to visit himwhile he stayed at Oxford. After we had left the lodgingsJohnson said me'There lives a manwho lives by the revenues of literatureand will not move a finger to support it. If I come to live at OxfordI shalltake up my abode at Trinity.' We then called on the Reverend Mr. Meekeone ofthe fellowsand of Johnson's standing. Here was a most cordial greeting on bothsides. On leaving himJohnson said'I used to think Meeke had excellent partswhen we were boys together at the college: butalas! -

'Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!'- -

'I rememberat the classical lecture in the HallI could not bear Meeke'ssuperiorityand I tried to sit as far from him as I couldthat I might nothear him construe.'

"As we were leaving the Collegehe said'Here I translated Pope'sMessiah. Which do you think is the best line in it?- My own favourite is-

'Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes.' -

I told himI thought it a very sonorous hexameter. I did not tell himitwas not in the Virgilian style. He much regretted that his first tutor was dead;for whom he seemed to retain the greatest regard. He said'I once had been awhole morning sliding in Christ-Church meadowsand missed his lecture inlogick. After dinner he sent for me to his room. I expected a sharp rebuke formy idlenessand went with a beating heart. When we were seatedhe told me hehad sent for me to drink a glass of wine with himand to tell mehe was notangry with me for missing his lecture. This wasin facta most severereprimand. Some more of the boys were then sent forand we spent a verypleasant afternoon.' Besides Mr. Meekethere was only one other Fellow ofPembroke now resident: from both of whom Johnson received the greatestcivilities during this visitand they pressed him very much to have a room inthe College.

"In the course of this visit (1754)Johnson and I walked three or fourtimes to Ellsfielda village beautifully situated about three miles fromOxfordto see Mr. WiseRadclivian librarianwith whom Johnson was muchpleased. At this placeMr. Wise had fitted up a house and gardensin asingular mannerbut with great taste. Here was an excellent libraryparticularly a valuable collection of books in Northern literature with whichJohnson was often very busy. One day Mr. Wise read to us a dissertation which hewas preparing for the pressintitled'A History and Chronology of the fabulousAges.' Some old divinities of Thracerelated to the Titansand called theCABIRImade a very important part of the theory of this piece; and inconversation afterwardsMr. Wise talked much of his CABIRI. As we returned toOxford in the eveningI out-walked Johnsonand he cried out SufflaminaaLatin wordwhich came from his mouth with peculiar graceand was as much as tosayPut on your drag chain. Before we got homeI again walked too fast forhim; and he now cried out'Whyyou walk as if you were pursued by all theCABIRI in a body.' In an evening we frequently took long walks from Oxford intothe countryreturning to supper. Oncein our way homewe viewed the ruins ofthe abbies of Oseney and Rewleynear Oxford. After at least half an hour'ssilenceJohnson said 'I viewed them with indignation!' We had then a longconversation on Gothic buildings; and in talking of the form of old hallshesaid'In these hallsthe fire-place was anciently always in the middle of theroom till the Whigs removed it on one side.'- About this time there had been anexecution of two or three criminals at Oxford on a Monday. Soon afterwardsoneday at dinnerI was saying that Mr. Swintonthe chaplain of the gaoland alsoa frequent preacher before the Universitya learned manbut often thoughtlessand absentpreached the condemnation-sermon on repentancebefore the convictson the preceding daySunday; and that in the close he told hisaudiencethathe should give them the remainder of what he had to say on the subjectthe nextLord's Day. Upon whichone of our companya Doctor of Divinityand a plainmatter-of-fact manby way of offering an apology for Mr. Swintongravelyremarkedthat he had probably preached the same sermon before the University:'YesSir(says Johnson) but the University were not to be hanged the nextmorning.'

"I forgot to observe beforethat when he left Mr. Meeke(as I havetold above) he added'About the same time of lifeMeeke was left behind atOxford to feed on a Fellowshipand I went to London to get my living: nowSirsee the difference of our literary characters!'"

The following letter was written by Dr. Johnson to Mr. Chambersof LincolnCollegeafterwards Sir Robert Chambersone of the judges in India: * -

* Communicated by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Wartonwho had the original. -



"THE commission which I delayed to trouble you with at your departureIam now obliged to send you; and beg that you will be so kind as to carry it toMr. Wartonof Trinityto whom I should have

written immediatelybut that I know not if he be yet come back to Oxford.

"In the Catalogue of MSS. of Gr. Brit. see vol. I. pag. 18. MSS. Bodl.MARTYRIUM XV. martyrum sub Julianoauctore Theophylacto.

"It is desired that Mr. Warton will enquireand send wordwhat will bethe cost of transcribing this manuscript.

Vol. II p. 32. Num. 1022. 58. COLL. Nov.- Commentaria in Acta Apostol.-Comment. in Septem Epistolas Catholicas.

"He is desired to tell what is the age of each of these manuscripts: andwhat it will cost to have a transcript of the two first pages of each.

"If Mr. Warton be not in Oxfordyou may try if you can get it done byany body else; or stay till he comes according to your own convenience. It isfor an Italian literato.

"The answer is to be directed to his Excellency Mr. ZonVenetianResidentSoho-Square.

"I hopedear Sirthat you do not regret the change of London forOxford. Mr. Baretti is welland Miss Williams; * and we shall all be glad tohear from youwhenever you shall be so kind as to write toSir

"Your most humble servant


"Nov. 211754." -

* "I presume she was a relation of Mr. Zachariah Williamswho died inhis eighty-third yearJuly 121755. When Dr. Johnson was with me at Oxfordin1755he gave to the Bodleian Library a thin quarto of twenty-one pagesa workin Italianwith an English translation on the opposite page. The Englishtitle-page is this: 'An account of an Attempt to ascertain the Longitude at Seaby an exact Variation of the Magnetical Needle&c. By Zachariah Williams.Londonprinted for Dodsley1755.' The English translationfrom the strongestinternal marksis unquestionably the work of Johnson. In a blank leafJohnsonhas written the ageand time of deathof the author Z. Williamsas I havesaid above. On another blank leafis pasted a paragraph from a news-paperofthe death and character of Williamswhich is plainly written by Johnson. He wasvery anxious about placing this book in the Bodleian; andfor fear of anyomission or mistakehe enteredin the great Cataloguethe title-page of itwith his own hand."

[In this statement there is a slight mistake. The English accountwhich waswritten by Johnsonwas the original; the Italian was a translationdone byBaretti. See post1755.- M.] -

The degree of Master of Artswhichit has been observedcould not beobtained for him at an early period of his lifewas now considered as an honourof considerable importancein order to grace the title-page of his Dictionary;and his character in the literary world being by this time deservedly highhisfriends thought thatif proper exertions were madethe University of Oxfordwould pay him the compliment. -



"I AM extremely obliged to you and to Mr. Wisefor the uncommon carewhich you have taken of my interest; * if you can accomplish your kind designIshall certainly take me a little habitation among you.

"The books which I promised to Mr. Wise*(2) I have not been able toprocure: but I shall send him a Finnick Dictionarythe only copyperhapsinEnglandwhich was presented me by a learned Swede: but I keep it backthat itmay make a set of my own books of the new editionwith which I shall accompanyitmore welcome. You will assure him of my gratitude.

"Poor dear Collins!- *(3) Would a letter give him any pleasure? I have amind to write.

"I am glad of your hindrance in your Spenserian design*(4) yet I wouldnot have it delayed. Three hours a day stolen from sleep and amusement willproduce it. Let a Servitour *(5) transcribe the quotationsand interleave themwith referencesto save time. This will shorten the workand lessen thefatigue.

"Can I do any thing to promoting the diploma? I would not be wanting toco-operate with your kindness; of whichwhatever be the effectI shall bedear Sir

"Your most obliged&c.


"[London] Nov. 281754." -

* "In procuring him the degree of Master of Arts by diploma atOxford."

*(2) "Lately fellow of Trinity Collegeand at this time Radclivianlibrarianat Oxford. He was a man of very considerable learningand eminentlyskilled in Roman and Anglo-Saxon antiquities. He died in 1767."

*(3) "Collins (the poet) was at this time at Oxfordon a visit to Mr.Warton; but labouring under the most deplorable languor of body and dejection ofmind."

[In a letter to Dr. Joseph Wartonwritten some months before(March 81754) Dr. Johnson thus speaks of Collins:

"But how little can we venture to exult in any intellectual powers orliterary attainmentswhen we consider the condition of poor Collins. I knew hima few years ago full of hopesand full of projectsversed in many languageshigh in fancyand strong in retention. This busy and forcible mind is now underthe government of thosewho lately could not have been able to comprehend theleast and most narrow of his designs. What do you hear of him? are there hopesof his recovery? or is he to pass the remainder of his life in misery anddegradation? perhapswith complete consciousness of his calamity."

In a subsequent letter to the same gentleman(Dec. 241754) he thusfeelingly alludes to their unfortunate friend:

"Poor dear Collins! Let me know whether you think it would give himpleasure if I should write to him. I have often been near his stateandtherefore have it in great commiseration."

Again- April 91756:

"What becomes of poor dear Collins? I wrote him a letter which he neveranswered. I suppose writing is very troublesome to him. That man is no commonloss. The moralists all talk of the uncertainty of fortuneand thetransitoriness of beauty: but it is yet more dreadful to consider that thepowers of the mind are equally liable to changethat understanding may make itsappearance and departthat it may blaze and expire."

See Biographical Memoirs of the late Reverend Dr. Joseph Wartonby theReverend John WoolA.M. 4to. 1806.

Mr. Collinswho was the son of a hatter at Chichesterwas born December 251720and released from the dismal state here so pathetically describedin1756.- M.]

*(4) "Of publishing a volume of observations on the best of Spenser'sworks. It was hindered by my taking pupils in this College."

*(5) "Young students of the lowest rank at Oxford are so called." -



"I AM extremely sensible of the favour done meboth by Mr. Wise andyourself. The book * cannotI thinkbe printed in less than six weeksnorprobably so soon; and I will keep back the title-pagefor such an insertion asyou seem to promise me. Be pleased to let me know what money I shall send youfor bearing the expence of the affair; and I will take care that you may have itready at your hand.

"I had lately the favour of a letter from your brotherwith someaccount of poor Collinsfor whom I am much concerned. I have a notionthat byvery great temperanceor more properly abstinence he may yet recover.

"There is an old English and Latin book of poems by Barclaycalled 'TheShip of Fools;' at the end of which are a number of Eglogues- so he writes itfrom Egloga- which are probably the first in our language. If you cannot findthe bookI will get Mr. Dodsley to send it you.

"I shall be extremely glad to hear from you againto knowif theaffair proceeds. *(2) I have mentioned it to none of my friendsfor fear ofbeing laughed at for my disappointment.

"You know poor Mr. Dodsley has lost his wife; I believe he is muchaffected. I hope he will not suffer so much as I yet suffer for the loss ofmine. -

Oimoi ti d' oimoi; thneta gar peponthamen. *(3) -

I have ever since seemed to myself broken off from mankind; a kind ofsolitary wanderer in the wild of lifewithout any directionor fixed point ofview: a gloomy gazer on the world to which I have little relation. Yet I wouldendeavourby the help of you and your brotherto supply the want of closerunionby friendship: and hope to have long the pleasure of beingdear Sir

"Most affectionately your's


"[London] Dec. 211754." -

* "His Dictionary."

*(2) "Of the degree at Oxford."

*(3) [This verse is taken from the long lost BELLEROPHONa tragedy byEuripides. It is preserved by Suidas in his LexiconVoc. Oimoi II. p. 666;where the reading isthneta toi peponthamen. - REV. C. BURNEY.]

1755: AETAT. 46 -

In 1755 we behold him to great advantage; his degree of Master of Artsconferred upon himhis Dictionary publishedhis correspondence animatedhisbenevolence exercised. -



"I WROTE to you some weeks agobut believe did not direct accuratelyand therefore know not whether you had my letter. I wouldlikewisewrite toyour brotherbut know not where to find him. I now begin to see landafterhaving wanderedaccording to Mr. Warburton's phrasein this vast sea of words.What reception I shall meet with on the shoreI know not; whether the sound ofbellsand acclamations of the peoplewhich Ariosto talks of in his last Cantoor a general murmur of dislikeI know not: whether I shall find upon the coasta Calypso that will courtor a Polypheme that will resist. But if Polyphemecomeshave at his eye. I hopehoweverthe criticks will let me be at peace;for though I do not much fear their skill and strengthI am a little afraid ofmyselfand would not willingly feel so much ill-will in my bosom as literaryquarrels are apt to excite.

"Mr. Baretti is about a work for which he is in great want ofCrescimbeniwhich you may have again when you please.

"There is nothing considerable done or doing among us here. We are notperhapsas innocent as villagersbut most of us seem to be as idle. I hopehoweveryou are busy; and should be glad to know what you are doing.

"I amdearest Sir

"Your humble servant


["London] Feb. 41755." -



"I RECEIVED your letter this daywith great sense of the favour thathas been done me; * for which I return my most sincere thanks; and entreat youto pay to Mr. Wise such returns as I ought to make for so much kindness solittle deserved.

"I sent Mr. Wise the Lexiconand afterwards wrote to him; but know notwhether he had either the book or letter. Be so good as to contrive to enquire.

"But why does my dear Mr. Warton tell me nothing of himself? Where hangsthe new volume? *(2) Can I help? Let not the past labour be lostfor want of alittle more; but snatch what time you can from the Halland the pupilsand thecoffee-houseand the parksand complete your design.

"I amdear Sir&c.


"[London] Feb. 41755." -

* "His degree had now pastaccording to the usual formthe suffragesof the heads of Colleges; but was not yet finally granted by the University. Itwas carried without a single dissentient voice."

*(2) "On Spenser." -



"I HAD a letter last week from Mr. Wisebut have yet heard nothing fromyounor know in what state my affair * stands; of which I beg you to inform meif you cantomorrowby the return of the post.

"Mr. Wise sends me wordthat he has not had the Finnick Lexicon yetwhich I sent some time ago; and if he has it notyou must enquire after it.Howeverdo not let your letter stay for that.

"Your brotherwho is a better correspondent than youand not muchbettersends me wordthat your pupils keep you in College: but they do notkeep you from writing too? Let themat leastgive you time to write todearSir

"Your most affectionate&c.


["London] Feb. 131755." -

* "Of the degree." -



"DR. KING * was with me a few minutes before your letter; thishoweveris the first instance in which your kind intentions to me have ever beenfrustrated. *(2) I have now the full effect of your care and benevolence; and amfar from thinking it a slight honouror a small advantage; since it will putthe enjoyment of your conversation more frequently in the power ofdear Sir

"Your most obliged and affectionate


"P.S. I have enclosed a letter to the Vice-Chancellor *(3) which youwill read; andif you like itseal and give him.

"[London] Feb. 1755." -

* "Principal of Saint Mary Hall at Oxford. He brought with him thediploma from Oxford."

*(2) "I suppose Johnson means that my kind intention of being the firstto give him the good news of the degree being granted was frustratedbecauseDr. King brought it before my intelligence arrived."

*(3) "Dr. HuddesfordPresident of Trinity College." -

As the Publick will doubtless be pleased to see the whole progress of thiswell-earned academical honourI shall insert the Chancellor of Oxford's letterto the University* the diplomaand Johnson's letter of thanks to theVice-Chancellor. -

* Extracted from the Convocation RegisterOxford. -

"To the Reverend Dr. HUDDESFORDVice-Chancellor of the

University of Oxford: to be communicated to the Heads of

Housesand proposed in Convocation. -


"MR. SAMUEL JOHNSONwho was formerly of Pembroke Collegehaving veryeminently distinguished himself by the publication of a series of Essaysexcellently calculated to form the manners of the peopleand in which the causeof religion and morality is every where maintained by the strongest powers ofargument and language; and who shortly intends to publish a Dictionary of theEnglish Tongueformed on a new planand executed with the greatest labour andjudgement; I persuade myself that I shall act agreeably to the sentiments of thewhole Universityin desiring that it may be proposed in convocation to conferon him the degree of Master of Arts by diplomato which I readily give myconsent; and am

"Mr. Vice-Chancellorand Gentlemen

"Your affectionate friend and servant


"Grosvenor-streetFeb. 41755." -

"Term. Scti.



"CANCELLARIUSMagistri et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis omnibus adquos hoc presens scriptum perveneritsalutem in Domino sempiternam.

"Cum eum in finem gradus academici a majoribus nostris institutifuerintut viri ingenio et doctrina praestantes titulis quoque praeter coeterosinsignirentur; cumque vir doctissimus Samuel Johnson e Collegio Pembrochiensiscriptis suis popularium mores informantibus dudum literato orbi innotuerit;quin et linguae patriae tum ornandae tum stabiliendae (Lexicon scilicetAnglicanum summo studiosummo a se judicio congestum propediem editurus) etiamnunc utilissimam impendat operam; Nos igitur CancellariusMagistrietScholares antedictine virum de literis humanioribus optime meritum diutiusinhonoratum praetereamus in solenni Convocatione DoctorumMagistrorumRegentiumet non Regentiumdecimo die Mensis Februarii Anno Domini MillesimoSeptingentesimo Quinquagesimo quinto habitapraefatum virum Samuelem Johnson(conspirantibus omnium suffragiis) Magistrum in Artibus renunciavimus etconstituimus; eumquevirtute praesentis diplomatissingulis juribusprivilegiis et honoribus ad istum gradum quaqua pertinentibus frui et gauderejussimus.

"In cujus rei testimonium sigillum Universitatis Oxoniensis praesentibusapponi fecimus.

"Datum in Domo nostrae Convocationis die 20 Mensis Feb. Anno Dom.Praedicto.

"Diploma supra scriptum per Registrarium lectum eratet ex decretovenerabilis Domus communi Universitatis sigillo munitum." *

"Londini. 4to Cal. Mart. 1755. -

* The original is in my possession. -




"INGRATUS plane et tibi et mihi videarnisi quanto me gaudio affecerintquos nuper mihi honores (tecredoauctore) decrevit Senatus Academicusliterarumquo tamen nihil leviusofficiosignificem; ingratus etiamnisicomitatemqua vir eximius *(2) mihi vestri testimonium amoris in manustradiditagnoscam et laudem. Si quid estunde rei tam gratae accedat gratiahoc ipso magis mihi placetquod eo tempore in ordines Academicos denuocooptatus simquo tuam imminuere auctoritatemfamamque Oxonii laedereomnibusmodis conantur homines vafrinec tamen acuti: quibus egoprout viro umbraticolicuitsemper restitisemper restiturus. Qui eniminter has rerum procellasvel tibi vel Academiae defueritillum virtuti et literissibique et posterisdefuturum existimo. Vale." -

* [The superscription of this letter was not quite correct in the earlyeditions of this work. It is here given from Dr. Johnson's original letternowbefore me.- M.]

*(2) We may conceive what a high gratification it must have been to Johnsonto receive his diploma from the hands of the great Dr. KINGwhose principleswere so congenial with his own. -



"AFTER I received my diplomaI wrote you a letter of thankswith aletter to the Vice-Chancellorand sent another to Mr. Wise; but have heard fromnobody sinceand begin to think myself forgotten. It is trueI sent you adouble letterand you may fear an expensive correspondent; but I would havetaken it kindlyif you had returned it treble: and what is a double letter to apetty kingthat having fellowship and finescan sleep without a Modus in hishead? *

"Dear Mr. Wartonlet me hear from youand tell me somethingI carenot whatso I hear it but from you. Something I will tell you:- I hope to seemy Dictionary bound and letterednext week;- vasta mole superbus. And I have agreat mind to come to Oxford at Easter; but you will not invite me. Shall I comeuninvitedor stay here where nobody perhaps would miss me if I went? A hardchoice! But such is the world todear Sir



"[London] March 201755." -

* "The words in Italicks are allusions to passages in Mr. Warton's poemcalled 'The PROGRESS Of DISCONTENT' now lately published." -



"THOUGH not to writewhen a man can write so wellis an offencesufficiently heinousyet I shall pass it by. I am very glad that theVice-Chancellor was pleased with my note. I shall impatiently expect you atLondonthat we may consider what to do next. I intend in the winter to open aBibliothequeand rememberthat you are to subscribe a sheet a year: let ustrylikewiseif we cannot persuade your brother to subscribe another. My bookis now coming in luminis oras. What will be its fate I know notnor think muchbecause thinking is to no purpose. I must stand the censure of the great vulgarand the small; of those that understand itand that understand it not. But inall thisI suffer not alone; every writer has the same difficultiesandperhapsevery writer talks of them more than he thinks.

"You will be pleased to make my compliments to all my friends; and be sokindat every idle houras to rememberdear Sir



"[London] March 251755." -

Dr. Adams told methat this scheme of a Bibliotheque was a serious one: forupon his visiting him one dayhe found his parlour floor covered with parcelsof foreign and English literary journalsand he told Dr. Adams he meant toundertake a Review. "HowSir(said Dr. Adams) can you think of doing italone? All branches of knowledge must be considered in it. Do you knowMathematicks? Do you know Natural History?" Johnson answered"WhySirI must do as well as I can. My chief purpose is to give my countrymen aview of what is doing in literature upon the continent; and I shall havein agood measurethe choice of my subjectfor I shall select such books as I bestunderstand." Dr. Adams suggestedthat as Dr. Maty had just then finishedhis Bibliotheque Britanniquewhich was a well-executed workgiving foreignersan account of British publicationshe mightwith great advantage assume him asan assistant. "He(said Johnson) the little black dog! I'd throw him intothe Thames." The schemehoweverwas dropped.

In one of his little memorandum books I find the following hints for hisintended Review or Literary Journal: "The Annals of Literatureforeign aswell as domestick. Imitate Le Clerc- Bayle- Barbeyrac. Infelicity of Journals inEngland. 'Works of the learned.' We cannot take in all. Sometimes copy fromforeign Journalists. Always tell." -


"March 291755.


"I HAVE sent some parts of my Dictionarysuch as were at handfor yourinspection. The favour which I beg isthat if you do not like themyou willsay nothing. I amSir

"Your most affectionate humble servant



"Norfolk-streetApril 231755.


"THE part of your Dictionary which you have favoured me with the sightof has given me such an idea of the wholethat I most sincerely congratulatethe publick upon the acquisition of a work long wantedand now executed with anindustryaccuracyand judgementequal to the importance of the subject. Youmightperhapshave chosen one in which your genius would have appeared to moreadvantagebut you could not have fixed upon any other in which your labourswould have done such substantial service to the present age and to posterity. Iam glad that your health has supported the application necessary to theperformance of so vast a task; and can undertake to promise you as one (thoughperhaps the only) reward of itthe approbation and thanks of every well-wisherto the honour of the English language. I amwith the greatest regardSir

"Your most faithful and

"Most affectionate humble servant


Mr. Charles Burneywho has since distinguished himself so much in thescience of Musickand obtained a Doctor's degree from the University of Oxfordhad been driven from the capital by bad healthand was now residing at LynneRegis in Norfolk. He had been so much delighted with Johnson's Ramblerand theplan of his Dictionarythat when the great work was announced in the newspapersas nearly finishedhe wrote to Dr. Johnsonbegging to be informed when and inwhat manner his Dictionary would be published; entreatingif it should be bysubscriptionor he should have any books at his own disposalto be favouredwith six copies for himself and friends.

In answer to this applicationDr. Johnson wrote the following letterofwhich (to use Dr. Burney's own words) "if it be remembered that it waswritten to an obscure young manwho at this time had not distinguished himselfeven in his own professionbut whose name could never have reached the authourof THE RAMBLERthe politeness and urbanity may be opposed to some of thestories which have been lately circulated of Dr. Johnson's natural rudeness andferocity." -



"IF you imagine that by delaying my answer I intended to show anyneglect of the notice with which you have favoured meyou will neither thinkjustly of yourself nor of me. Your civilities were offered with too muchelegance not to engage attention; and I have too much pleasure in pleasing menlike younot to feel very sensibly the distinction which you have bestowed uponme.

"Few consequences of my endeavours to please or to benefit mankind havedelighted me more than your friendship thus voluntarily offeredwhich now Ihave it I hope to keepbecause I hope to continue to deserve it.

"I have no Dictionaries to dispose of for myselfbut shall be glad tohave you direct your friends to Mr. Dodsleybecause it was by hisrecommendation that I was employed in the work.

"When you have leisure to think again upon melet me be favoured withanother letter; and another yetwhen you have looked into my Dictionary. If youfind faultsI shall endeavour to mend them; if you find noneI shall think youblinded by kind partiality: but to have made you partial in his favourwillvery much gratify the ambition ofSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant



"April 81755." -

Mr. Andrew Millarbookseller in the Strandtook the principal charge ofconducting the publication of Johnson's Dictionary; and as the patience of theproprietors was repeatedly tried and almost exhaustedby their expecting thatthe work would be compleatedwithin the time which Johnson had sanguinelysupposedthe learned author was often goaded to dispatchmore especially as hehad received all the copy moneyby different draftsa considerable time beforehe had finished his task. When the messenger who carried the last sheet toMillar returnedJohnson asked him"Wellwhat did he say?"-"Sir(answered the messenger) he saidthank GOD I have done withhim." "I am glad (replied Johnsonwith a smile) that he thanks GODfor any thing." * It is remarkablethat those with whom Johnson chieflycontracted for his literary labours were ScotchmenMr. Millar and Mr. Strahan.Millarthough himself no great judge of literaturehad good sense enough tohave for his friends very able mento give him their opinion and advice in thepurchase of copyright; the consequence of which was his acquiring a very largefortunewith liberality. Johnson said of him"I respect MillarSir; hehas raised the price of literature." The same praise may be justly given toPanckouckethe eminent bookseller of Paris. Mr. Strahan's liberalityjudgementand successare well known. -

* Sir John Hawkinsp. 341inserts two notes as having passed formallybetween Andrew Millar and Johnsonto the above effect. I am assured this wasnot the case. In the way of incidental remark it was a pleasant play ofraillery. To have deliberately written notes in such terms would have beenmorose. -



"IT has been long observedthat men do not suspect faults which they donot commit; your own elegance of mannersand punctuality of complaisancedidnot suffer you to impute to me that negligence of which I was guiltyand whichI have not since atoned. I received both your lettersand received them withpleasure proportioned to the esteem which so short an acquaintance stronglyimpressedand which I hope to confirm by nearer knowledgethough I am afraidthat gratification will be for a time withheld.

"I haveindeedpublished my Book* of which I beg to know yourfather's judgementand yours; and I have now staid long enough to watch itsprogress in the world. It hasyou seeno patronsandI thinkhas yet had noopponentsexcept the criticks of the coffee-housewhose outcries are soondispersed into the airand are thought on no more; from thisthereforeI amat libertyand think of taking the opportunity of this interval to make anexcursionand why not then into Lincolnshire? orto mention a strongerattractionwhy not to dear Mr. Langton? I will give the true reasonwhich Iknow you will approve:- I have a mother more than eighty years oldwho hascounted the days to the publication of my bookin hopes of seeing me; and toherif I can disengage myself hereI resolve to go.

"As I knowdear Sirthat to delay my visit for a reason like thiswill not deprive me of your esteemI beg it may not lessen your kindness. Ihave very seldom received an offer of friendship which I so earnestly desire tocultivate and mature. I shall rejoice to hear from youtill I can see youandwill see you as soon as I can; for when the duty that calls me to Lichfield isdischargedmy inclination will carry me to Langton. I shall delight to hear theocean roaror see the stars twinklein the company of men to whom Nature doesnot spread her volumesor utter her voice in vain.

"Do notdear Sirmake the slowness of this letter a precedent fordelayor imagine that I approved the incivility that I have committed; for Ihave known you enough to love youand sincerely to wish a further knowledge;and I assure you once morethat to live in a house that contains such a fatherand such a sonwill be accounted a very uncommon degree of pleasurebydearSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant


"May 61755." -

* His Dictionary. -



"I AM grieved that you should think me capable of neglecting yourletters; and beg you will never admit any such suspicion again. I purpose tocome down next weekif you shall be there; or any other weekthat shall bemore agreeable to you. Therefore let me know. I can stay this visit but a week;but intend to make preparations for a longer stay next time; being resolved notto lose sight of the University. How goes Apollonius? * Don't let him beforgotten. Some things of this kind must be doneto keep us up. Pay mycompliments to Mr. Wiseand all my other friends. I think to come toKettel-Hall. *(2) I amSir

"Your most affectionate&c.


"[London] May 131755:" -

* "A translation of Apollonius Rhodius was now intended by Mr.Warton."

*(2) [Kettel-Hall is an ancient tenementadjoining to Trinity Collegebuiltabout the year 1615by Dr. Ralph Kettelthen Presidentfor the accommodationof Commoners of that Society. In this ancient hostelthen in a very ruinousstateabout forty years after Johnson had lodged thereMr. Windham and thepresent writer were accommodated with two chambersof primitive simplicityduring the installation of the Duke of Portland as Chancellor of the Universityof Oxfordin 1793. It has since been converted into a commodious privatehouse.- M.] -



"IT is strange how many things will happen to intercept every pleasurethough it [be] only that of two friends meeting together. I have promised myselfevery day to inform you when you might expect me at Oxfordand have not beenable to fix a time. The timehoweverisI thinkat last comeand I promisemyself to repose in Kettel-Hallone of the first nights of the next week. I amafraid my stay with you cannot be long; but what is the inference? We mustendeavour to make it cheerful. I wish your brother could meet usthat we mightgo and drink tea with Mr. Wise in a body. I hope he will be at Oxfordor at hisnest of British and Saxon antiquities. * I shall expect to see Spenser finishedand many other things begun. Dodsley is gone to visit the Dutch. The Dictionarysells well. The rest of the world goes on as it did. Dear Sir

"Your most affectionate&c.


"[London] June 101755." -

* "At Ellsfielda village three miles from Oxford." -



"TO talk of coming to youand not yet to comehas an air of triflingwhich I would not willingly have among you; and whichI believeyou will notwillingly impute to mewhen I have told youthat since my promisetwo of ourpartners * are deadand that I was solicited to suspend my excursion till wecould recover from our confusion.

"I have not laid aside my purpose; for every day makes me more impatientof staying from you. But deathyou knowhears not supplicationsnor pays anyregard to the convenience of mortals. I hope now to see you next week; but nextweek is but another name for to-morrowwhich has been noted for promising anddeceiving.

"I am&c.


["London] June 241755." -

* "Booksellers concerned in his Dictionary." -



"I TOLD you that among the manuscripts are some things of Sir ThomasMore. I beg you to pass an hour in looking on themand procure a transcript ofthe ten or twenty first lines of eachto be compared with what I have; that Imay know whether they are yet published. The manuscripts are these:

"Catalogue of Bodl. MS. pag. 122. F. 3. Sir Thomas More.

"1. Fall of angels. 2. Creation and fall of mankind. 3. Determination ofthe Trinity for the rescue of mankind. 4. Five lectures of our Saviour'spassion. 5. Of the institution of the Sacramentthree lectures. 6. How toreceive the blessed body of our Lord sacramentally. 7. Neomeniathe new moon.8. De tristitiataediopavoreet oratione Christi ante captionem ejus.

"Cataloguepag. 154. Life of Sir Thomas More. Qu. Whether Roper's? Pag.363. De resignatione Magni Sigilli in manus Regis per D. Thomam Morum. Pag. 364.Mori Defensio Moriae.

"If you procure the young gentleman in the library to write out what youthink fit to be writtenI will send to Mr. Prince the bookseller to pay himwhat you shall think proper.

"Be pleased to make my compliments to Mr. Wiseand all my friends. IamSir

"Your affectionate&c.


"[London] Aug. 71755." -

The Dictionarywith a Grammar and History of the English Languagebeing nowat length publishedin two volumes foliothe world contemplated with wonder sostupendous a work atchieved by one manwhile other countries had thought suchundertakings fit only for whole academies. Vast as his powers wereI cannot butthink that his imagination deceived himwhen he supposed that by constantapplication he might have performed the task in three years. Let the Preface beattentively perusedin which is givenin a clearstrongand glowing styleacomprehensiveyet particular view of what he had done; and it will be evidentthat the time he employed upon it was comparatively short. I am unwilling toswell my book with long quotations from what is in every body's handsand Ibelieve there are few prose compositions in the English language that are readwith more delightor are more impressed upon the memorythan that preliminarydiscourse. One of its excellencies has always struck me with peculiaradmiration; I mean the perspicuity with which he has expressed abstractscientifick notions. As an instance of thisI shall quote the followingsentence: "When the radical idea branches out into parallel ramificationshow can a consecutive series be formed of senses in their own naturecollateral?" We have here an example of what has been often saidand Ibelieve with justicethat there is for every thought a certain nice adaptationof words which none other could equaland whichwhen a man has been sofortunate as to hithe has attainedin that particular casethe perfection oflanguage.

The extensive reading which was absolutely necessary for the accumulation ofauthoritiesand which alone may account for Johnson'sretentive mind beingenriched with a very large and various store of knowledge and imagerymust haveoccupied several years. The Preface furnishes an eminent instance of a doubletalentof which Johnson was fully conscious. Sir Joshua Reynolds heard him say"There are two things which I am confident I can do very well: one is anintroduction to any literary workstating what it is to containand how itshould be executed in the most perfect manner: the other is a conclusionshewing from various causes why the execution has not been equal to what theauthour promised to himself and to the publick."

How should puny scribblers be abashed and disappointedwhen they find himdisplaying a perfect theory of lexicographical excellenceyet at the same timecandidly and modestly allowing that he "had not satisfied his ownexpectations." Here was a fair occasion for the exercise of Johnson'smodestywhen he was called upon to compare his own arduous performancenotwith those of other individuals(in which case his inflexible regard to truthwould have been violated had he affected diffidence) but with speculativeperfection; as hewho can outstrip all his competitors in the racemay yet besensible of his deficiency when he runs against time. Well might he saythat"the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of thelearned;" for he told methat the only aid which he received was a papercontaining twenty etymologiessent to him by a person then unknownwho he wasafterwards informed was Dr. PearceBishop of Rochester. The etymologiesthoughthey exhibit learning and judgementare notI thinkentitled to the firstpraise amongst the various parts of this immense work. The definitions havealways appeared to me such astonishing proofs of acuteness of intellect andprecision of languageas indicate a genius of the highest rank. This it iswhich marks the superior excellence of Johnson's Dictionary over others equallyor even more voluminousand must have made it a work of much greater mentallabour than mere Lexiconsor Word-Booksas the Dutch call them. Theywho willmake the experiment of trying how they can define a few words of whatevernaturewill soon be satisfied of the unquestionable justice of thisobservationwhich I can assure my readers is founded upon much studyand uponcommunication with more minds than my own.

A few of his definitions must be admitted to be erroneous. ThusWindward andLeewardthough directly of opposite meaningare defined identically the sameway; * as to which inconsiderable specks it is enough to observethat hisPreface announces that he was aware there might be many such in so immense awork; nor was he at all disconcerted when an instance was pointed out to him. Alady once asked him how he came to define Pastern the knee of a horse: insteadof making an elaborate defenceas she expectedhe at once

answered"IgnoranceMadampure ignorance." His definition ofNetwork has been often quoted with sportive malignityas obscuring a thing initself very plain. But to these frivolous censures no other answer is necessarythan that with which we are furnished by his own Preface. "To explainrequires the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explainedandsuch terms cannot always be found. For as nothing can be proved but by supposingsomething intuitively knownand evident without proofso nothing can bedefined but by the use of words too plain to admit of definition. Sometimeseasier words are changed into harder; asburialinto sepulture or interment;dryinto desiccative; drynessinto siccity or aridity; fitinto paroxism;forthe easiest wordwhatever it becan never be translated into one moreeasy." -

* [He owns in his Preface the deficiency of the technical part of his work;and he saidhe should be much obliged to me for definitions of musical termsfor his next editionwhich he did not live to superintend.- BURNEY.] -

His introducing his own opinionsand even prejudicesunder generaldefinitions of wordswhile at the same time the original meaning of the wordsis not explainedas his ToryWhigPensionOatsExcise* and a few morecannot be fully defendedand must be placed to the account of capricious andhumorous indulgence. Talking to me upon this subject when we were at Ashbournein 1777he mentioned a still stronger instance of the predominance of hisprivate feelings in the composition of this workthan any now to be found init. "You knowSirLord Gower forsook the old Jacobite interest. When Icame to the Renegadoafter telling that it meant 'one who deserts to the enemya revolter' I addedSometimes we say a GOWER. Thus it went to the press: butthe printer had more wit than Iand struck it out." -

* He thus defines Excise: "A hateful tax levied upon commoditiesandadjudged not by the common judges of propertybut wretches hired by those towhom Excise is paid." The Commissioners of Excise being offended by thissevere reflectionconsulted Mr. Murraythen Attorney-Generalto know whetherredress could be legally obtained. I wished to have procured for my readers acopy of the opinion which he gaveand which may now be justly considered ashistory: but the mysterious secrecy of office it seems would not permit it. Iamhoweverinformed by very good authoritythat its import wasthat thepassage might be considered as actionable; but that it would be more prudent inthe board not to prosecute. Johnson never made the smallest alteration in thispassage. We find he still retained his early prejudice against Excise; for in"The IdlerNo. 65" there is the following very extraordinaryparagraph: "The authenticity of Clarendon's historythough printed withthe sanction of one of the first Universities of the worldhad not anunexpected manuscript been happily discoveredwouldwith the help of factiouscredulityhave been brought into questionby the two lowest of all humanbeingsa Scribbler for a partyand a Commissioner of Excise." The personsto whom he alludes were Mr. John Oldmixonand George DucketEsq. -

Let ithoweverbe rememberedthat this indulgence does not display itselfonly in sarcasm towards othersbut sometimes in playful illusion to the notionscommonly entertained of his own laborious task. Thus: "Grub-streetthename of a street in Londonmuch inhabited by writers of small historiesdictionariesand temporary poems; whenceany mean production is calledGrub-street."- "Lexicographera writer of dictionariesa harmlessdrudge. "

At the time when he was concluding his very eloquent PrefaceJohnson's mindappears to have been in such a state of depressionthat we cannot contemplatewithout wonder the vigourous and splendid thoughts which so highly distinguishthat performance. "I (says he) may surely be contented without the praiseof perfectionwhich if I could obtain in this gloom of solitudewhat would itavail me? I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to pleasehave sunk into the grave; and success and miscarriage are empty sounds. Itherefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillityhaving little to fear or hopefrom censure or from praise." That this indifference was rather a temporarythan an habitual feelingappearsI thinkfrom his letters to Mr. Warton; andhowever he may have been affected for the momentcertain it is that the honourswhich his great work procured himboth at home and abroadwere very gratefulto him. His friend the Earl of Corke and Orrerybeing at Florencepresented itto the Accademia della Crusca. That Academy sent Johnson their Vocabolarioandthe French Academy sent him their Dictionnairewhich Mr. Langton had thepleasure to convey to him.

It must undoubtedly seem strangethat the conclusion of his Preface shouldbe expressed in terms so despondingwhen it is considered that the authour wasthen only in his forty-sixth year. But we must ascribe its gloom to thatmiserable dejection of spirits to which he was constitutionally subjectandwhich was aggravated by the death of his wife two years before. I have heard itingeniously observed by a lady of rank and elegancethat "his melancholywas then at its meridian." It pleased GOD to grant him almost thirty yearsof life after this time; and once when he was in a placid frame of mindhe wasobliged to own to me that he had enjoyed happier daysand had many morefriendssince that gloomy hourthan before.

It is a sad sayingthat "most of those whom he wished to please hadsunk into the grave;" and his case at forty-five was singularly unhappyunless the circle of his friends was very narrow. I have often thoughtthat aslongevity is generally desiredand I believegenerally expectedit would bewise to be continually adding to the number of our friendsthat the loss ofsome may be supplied by others. Friendship"the wine of life"shouldlike a well-stocked cellarbe thus continually renewed; and it isconsolatory to thinkthat although we can seldom add what will equal thegenerous first growths of our youthyet friendship becomes insensibly old inmuch less time than is commonly imaginedand not many years are required tomake it very mellow and pleasant. Warmth willno doubtmake a considerabledifference. Men of affectionate temper and bright fancy will coalesce a greatdeal sooner than those who are cold and dull.

The proposition which I have now endeavoured to illustrate wasat asubsequent period of his lifethe opinion of Johnson himself. He said to SirJoshua Reynolds"If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advancesthrough lifehe will soon find himself left alone. A manSirshould keep hisfriendship in constant repair. "

The celebrated Mr. Wilkeswhose notions and habits of life were veryopposite to hisbut who was ever eminent for literature and vivacitysalliedforth with a little Jeu d'Esprit upon the following passage in his Grammar ofthe English Tongueprefixed to the Dictionary: "H seldomperhaps neverbegins any but the first syllable." In an essay printed in "the PublicAdvertiser" this lively writer enumerated many instances in opposition tothis remark; for example"The authour of this observation must be a man ofa quick appre-hensionand of a most compre-hensive genius." The

position is undoubtedly expressed with too much latitude.

This light sallywe may supposemade no great impression on ourLexicographer; for we find that he did not alter the passage till many yearsafterwards. * -

* In the third editionpublished in 1773he left out the words perhapsneverand added the following paragraph:

"It sometimes begins middle or final syllables in words compoundedasblock-heador derived from the Latinas comprehended." -

He had the pleasure of being treated in a very different manner by his oldpupil Mr. Garrickin the following complimentary Epigram: -


"TALK of war with a Britonhe'll boldly advance

That one English soldier will beat ten of France;

Would we alter the boast from the sword to the pen

Our odds are still greaterstill greater our men;

In the deep mines of science though Frenchmen may toil

Can their strength be compar'd to LockeNewtonand Boyle?

Let them rally their heroessend forth all their pow'rs

Their verse-men and prose-menthen match them with ours!

First Shakspeare and Miltonlike Gods in the fight

Have put their whole drama and epick to flight;

In satiresepistlesand odeswould they cope

Their numbers retreat before Dryden and Pope;

And Johnsonwell-arm'd like a hero of yore

Has beat forty French* and will beat forty more!" -

* The number of the French Academy employed in settling their language. -

Johnson this year gave at once a proof of his benevolencequickness ofapprehensionand admirable art of compositionin the assistance which he gaveto Mr. Zachariah Williamsfather of the blind lady whom he had humanelyreceived under his roof. Mr. Williams had followed the profession of physick inWales; but having a very strong propensity to the study of natural philosophyhad made many ingenious advances towards a discovery of the longitudeandrepaired to London in hopes of obtaining the great parliamentary reward. Hefailed of success; but Johnson having made himself master of his principles andexperimentswrote for him a pamphletpublished in quartowith the followingtitle: "An Account of an Attempt to ascertain the Longitude at Seaby anexact Theory of the Variation of the Magnetical Needle; with a Table of theVariations at the most remarkable Cities in Europefrom the year 1660 to1680." (+) To diffuse it more extensivelyit was accompanied with anItalian translation on the opposite pagewhich it is supposed was the work ofSignor Baretti* an Italian of considerable literaturewho having come toEngland a few years beforehad been employed in the capacity both of a languagemaster and an authourand formed an intimacy with Dr. Johnson. This pamphletJohnson presented to the Bodleian Library. *(2) On a blank leaf of it is pasteda paragraph cut out of a newspapercontaining an account of the death andcharacter of Williamsplainly written by Johnson. *(3) -

* [This ingenious foreignerwho was a native of Piedmontcame to Englandabout the year 1753and died in LondonMay 51789. A very candid andjudicious account of him and his worksbeginning with the words"So muchasperity" and writtenit is believedby a distinguished dignitary in thechurchmay be found in the Gentleman's Magazinefor that yearp. 469.- M.]

*(2) See note by Mr. WartonAetat. 45 (Letter "To Mr. ChambersofLincoln College.") [from which it appears that "12th" in the nextnote means the 12th of July1755.- M].

*(3) "On Saturday the 12thabout twelve at nightdied Mr. ZachariahWilliamsin his eighty-third yearafter an illness of eight monthsin fullpossession of his mental faculties. He has been long known to philosophers andseamen for his skill in magnetismand his proposal to ascertain the longitudeby a peculiar system of the compass. He was a man of industry indefatigableofconversation inoffensivepatient of adversity and diseaseeminently sobertemperateand pious; and worthy to have ended life with better fortune." -

In July this year he had formed some scheme of mental improvementtheparticular purpose of which does not appear. But we find in his "Prayersand Meditations" p. 25a prayer entitled"On the Study ofPhilosophyas an instrument of living;" and after it follows a note"This study was not pursued."

On the 13th of the same month he wrote in his Journal the following scheme oflifefor Sunday: "Having lived" (as he with tenderness of conscienceexpresses himself) "not without an habitual reverence for the Sabbathyetwithout that attention to its religious duties which Christianity requires;

"1. To rise earlyand in order to itto go to sleep early on Saturday.

"2. To use some extraordinary devotion in the morning.

"3. To examine the tenour of my lifeand particularly the last week;and to mark my advances in religionor recession from it.

"4. To read the Scripture methodically with such helps as are at hand.

"5. To go to church twice.

"6. To read books of Divinityeither speculative or practical.

"7. To instruct my family.

"8. To wear off by meditation any worldly soil contracted in theweek."

1756: AETAT. 47 -

IN 1756 Johnson found that the great fame of his Dictionary had not set himabove the necessity of "making provision for the day that was passing overhim." * No royal or noble patron extended a munificent hand to giveindependence to the man who had conferred stability on the language of hiscountry. We may feel indignant that there should have been such unworthyneglect; but we mustat the same timecongratulate ourselveswhen weconsiderthat to this very neglectoperating to rouse the natural indolence ofhis constitutionwe owe many valuable productionswhich otherwiseperhapsmight never have appeared. -

* [He was so far from being "set above the necessity of making provisionfor the day that was passing over him" that he appears to have been inthis year in great pecuniary distresshaving been arrested for debt; on whichoccasion his friendSamuel Richardsonbecame his surety. See a letter fromJohnson to himon the subjectdated Feb. 191756. Richardson'sCORRESPONDENCEvol. v. p. 283.- M.] -

He had spentduring the progress of the workthe money for which he hadcontracted to write his Dictionary. We have seen that the reward of his labourwas only fifteen hundred and seventy-five pounds; and when the expence ofamanuenses and paperand other articlesare deductedhis clear profit wasvery inconsiderable. I once said to him"I am sorrySiryou did not getmore for your Dictionary." His answer was"I am sorry too. But it wasvery well. The booksellers are generous liberal-minded men." Heupon alloccasionsdid ample justice to their character in this respect. He consideredthem as the patrons of literature; andindeedalthough they have eventuallybeen considerable gainers by his Dictionaryit is to them that we owe itshaving been undertaken and carried through at the risk of great expenceforthey were not absolutely sure of being indemnified.

On the first day of this year * we find from his private devotionsthat hehad then recovered from sickness*(2) and in Februarythat his eye wasrestored to its use. *(3) The pious gratitude with which he acknowledges merciesupon every occasion is very edifying; as is the humble submission which hebreatheswhen it is the will of his heavenly Father to try him withafflictions. As such dispositions become the state of man hereand are the trueeffects of religious disciplinewe cannot but venerate in Johnson one of themost exercised minds that our holy religion hath ever formed. If there be anythoughtless enough to suppose such exercise the weakness of a greatunderstandinglet them look up to Johnsonand be convinced that what he soearnestly practised must have a rational foundation. -

* [In April in this yearJohnson wrote a letter to Dr. Joseph Wartoninconsequence of having read a few pages of that gentleman's newly published"Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope." The only paragraph in itthat respects Johnson's personal history is this: "For my part I have notlately done much. I have been ill in the winterand my eye has been inflamed;but I please myself with the hopes of doing many thingswith which I have longpleased and deceived myself!" Memoirs of Dr. J. Warton&c. 4to. 1806.-M.]

*(2) Prayers and Meditations.

*(3) Ibid. 27. -

His works this year werean abstract or epitomein octavoof his folioDictionaryand a few essays in a monthly publication"THE UNIVERSALVISITER." Christopher Smartwith whose unhappy vacillation of mind hesincerely sympathisedwas one of the stated undertakers of this miscellany; andit was to assist him that Johnson sometimes employed his pen. All the essaysmarked with two asterisks have been ascribed to him; but I am confidentfrominternal evidencethat of theseneither "The Life of Chaucer""Reflections on the State of Portugal" nor an "Essay OnArchitecture" were written by him. I am equally confidentupon the sameevidencethat he wrote"Further Thoughts on Agriculture;" (+) beingthe sequel of a very inferiour essay on the same subjectand whichthoughcarried on as if by the same handis both in thinking and expression so farabove itand so strikingly peculiaras to leave no doubt of its true parent;and that he also wrote "A Dissertation on the State of Literature andAuthours" (+) and "A Dissertation on the Epitaphs written byPope." (@) The last of theseindeedhe afterwards added to his"Idler." Why the essays truly written by him are marked in the samemanner with some which he did not writeI cannot explain; but with deference tothose who have ascribed to him the three essays which I have rejected they wantall the characteristical marks of Johnsonian composition.

He engaged also to superintend and contribute largely to another monthlypublicationentitled "THE LITERARY MAGAZINEOR UNIVERSAL REVIEW;"(@) the first number of which came out in May this year. What were hisemoluments from this undertakingand what other writers were employed in itIhave not discovered. He continued to write in itwith intermissionstill thefifteenth number; and I think that he never gave better proofs of the forceacutenessand vivacity of his mindthan in this miscellanywhether weconsider his original essaysor his reviews of the works of others. The"Preliminary Address" (+) to the publickis a proof how this greatman could embellishwith the graces of superiour compositioneven so trite athing as the plan of a magazine.

His original essays are"An Introduction to the Political State ofGreat Britain;" (+) "Remarks on the Militia Bill;" (+)"Observations on his Britannick Majesty's Treaties with the Empress ofRussia and the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel;" (+) "Observations on thePresent State of Affairs;" (+) and"Memoirs of Frederick III. King ofPrussia." (+) In all these he displays extensive political knowledge andsagacityexpressed with uncommon energy and perspicuitywithout any of thosewords which he sometimes took a pleasure in adoptingin imitation of Sir ThomasBrowne; of whose "Christian Morals" he this year gave an editionwithhis "Life" (@) prefixed to itwhich is one of Johnson's bestbiographical performances. In one instance only in these essays has he indulgedhis Brownism. Dr. Robertsonthe historianmentioned it to meas having atonce convinced him that Johnson was the authour of the "Memoirs of the Kingof Prussia." Speaking of the pride which the old Kingthe father of hisherotook in being master of the tallest regiment in Europehe says"Toreview this towering regiment was his daily pleasure; and to perpetuate it wasso much his carethat when he met a tall woman he immediately commanded one ofhis Titanian retinue to marry herthat they might propagate procerity. "For this Anglo-Latin word procerityJohnson hadhoweverthe authority ofAddison.

His reviews are of the following books: "Birch's History of the RoyalSociety; (+) "Murphy's Gray's-Inn Journal;" (+) "Warton's Essayon the Writings and Genius of PopeVol. I." (+) "Hampton'sTranslation of Polybius;" (+) "Blackwell's Memoirs of the Court ofAugustus;" (+) "Russel's Natural History of Aleppo;" (+)"Sir Isaac Newton's Arguments in Proof of a Deity;" (+)"Borlase's History of the Isles of Scilly;" (+) "Holme'sExperiments on Bleaching;" (+) "Browne's Christian Morals;" (+)"Hales on distilling Sea-WaterVentilators in Shipsand curing an illTaste in Milk;" (+) "Lucas's Essay on Water;" (+) "Keith'sCatalogue of the Scottish Bishops;" (+) "Browne's History ofJamaica;" (+) "Philosophical TransactionsVol. XLIX." (+)"Mrs. Lennox's Translation of Sully's Memoirs;" (@) "Miscellaniesby Elizabeth Harrison;" (+) "Evans's Map and Account of the MiddleColonies in America;" (+) "Letter on the Case of Admiral Byng;"(@) "Appeal to the People concerning Admiral Byng;" (@) "Hanway'sEight Days Journeyand Essay on Tea;" (@) "The Cadeta MilitaryTreatise;" (+) "Some further Particulars in Relation to the Case ofAdmiral Byngby a Gentleman of Oxford;" (@) "The Conduct of theMinistry relating to the present War impartially examined;" (+) "AFree Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil." (@) All thesefrominternal evidencewere written by Johnson: some of them I know he avowedandhave marked them with an "at" symbol (@) accordingly. Mr. Thomas Davisindeedascribed to him the Review of Mr. Burke's "Inquiry into the Originof our ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful;" and Sir John Hawkinswithequal discernmenthas inserted it in his collection of Johnson's works: whereasit has no resemblance to Johnson's compositionand is well known to have beenwritten by Mr.

Murphywho has acknowledged it to me and many others.

It is worthy of remarkin justice to Johnson's political characterwhichhas been misrepresented as abjectly submissive to powerthat his"Observations on the present State of Affairs" glow with as animateda spirit of constitutional liberty as can be found any where. Thus he begins:"The time is now comein which every Englishman expects to be informed ofthe national affairs; and in which he has a right to have that expectationgratified. Forwhatever may be urged by Ministersor those whom vanity orinterest make the followers of ministersconcerning the necessity of confidencein our governoursand the presumption of prying with profane eyes into therecesses of policyit is evident that this reverence can be claimed only bycounsels yet unexecutedand projects suspended in deliberation. But when adesign has ended in miscarriage or successwhen every eye and every ear iswitness to general discontentor general satisfactionit is then a proper timeto disentangle confusion and illustrate obscurity; to shew by what causes everyevent was producedand in what effects it is likely to terminate; to lay downwith distinct particularity what rumour always huddles in general exclamationor perplexes by indigested narratives; to shew whence happiness or calamity isderivedand whence it may be expected; and honestly to lay before the peoplewhat inquiry can gather of the pastand conjecture can estimate of thefuture."

Here we have it assumed as an incontrovertible principlethat in thiscountry the people are the superintendents of the conduct and measures of thoseby whom government is administered; of the beneficial effect of which thepresent reign afforded an illustrious examplewhen addresses from all parts ofthe kingdom controuled an audacious attempt to introduce a new power subversiveof the crown.

A still stronger proof of his patriotick spirit appears in his review of an"Essay on Watersby Dr. Lucas" of whomafter describing him as aman well known to the world for his daring defiance of powerwhen he thought itexerted on the side of wronghe thus speaks: "The Irish Ministers drovehim from his native country by a proclamationin which they charge him withcrimes of which they never intended to be called to the proofand oppressed himby methods equally irresistible by guilt and innocence.

"Let the man thus driven into exilefor having been the friend of hiscountrybe received in every other place as a confessor of liberty; and let thetools of power be taught in timethat they may robbut cannotimpoverish."

Some of his reviews in this Magazine are very short accounts of the piecesnoticedand I mention them only that Dr. Johnson's opinion of the works may beknown; but many of them are examples of elaborate criticismin the mostmasterly style. In his review of the "Memoirs of the Court ofAugustus" he has the resolution to think and speak from his own mindregardless of the cant transmitted from age to agein praise of the ancientRomans. Thus: "I know not why any one but a school-boy in his declamationshould whine over the Commonwealth of Romewhich grew great only by the miseryof the rest of mankind. The Romanslike othersas soon as they grew richgrewcorrupt; and in their corruption sold the lives and freedoms of themselvesandof one another." Again"A peoplewho while they were poor robbedmankind; and as soon as they became richrobbed one another." In hisreview of the Miscellanies in prose and versepublished by Elizabeth Harrisonbut written by many handshe gives an eminent proof at once of his orthodoxyand candour. "The authours of the essays in prose seem generally to haveimitatedor tried to imitatethe copiousness and luxuriance of Mrs. Rowe.Thishoweveris not all their praise; they have laboured to add to herbrightness of imageryher purity of sentiments. The poets have had Dr. Wattsbefore their eyes; a writerwhoif he stood not in the first class of geniuscompensated that defect by a ready application of his powers to the promotion ofpiety. The attempt to employ the ornaments of romance in the decoration ofreligionwasI thinkfirst made by Mr. Boyle's Martyrdom of Theodora; butBoyle's philosophical studies did not allow him time for the cultivation ofstyle: and the completion of the great design was reserved for Mrs. Rowe. Dr.Watts was one of the first who taught the Dissenters to write and speak likeother menby shewing them that elegance might consist with piety. They wouldhave both done honour to a better societyfor they had that charity which mightwell make their failings be forgottenand with which the whole Christian worldwish for communion. They were pure from all the heresies of an ageto whichevery opinion is become a favourite that the universal church has hithertodetested!

"This praise the general interest of mankind requires to be given towriters who please and do not corruptwho instruct and do not weary. But tothem all human eulogies are vainwhom I believe applauded by angelsandnumbered with the just."

His defence of tea against Mr. Jonas Hanway's violent attack upon thatelegant and popular beverageshews how very well a man of genius can write uponthe slightest subjectwhen he writesas the Italians saycon amore: I supposeno person ever enjoyed with more relish the infusion of that fragrant leaf thanJohnson. The quantities which he drank of it at all hours were so greatthathis nerves must have been uncommonly strongnot to have been extremely relaxedby such an intemperate use of it. He assured methat he never felt the leastinconvenience from it; which is a proof that the fault of his constitution wasrather a too great tension of fibresthan the contrary. Mr. Hanway wrote anangry answer to Johnson's review of his Essay on Teaand Johnsonafter a fulland deliberate pausemade a reply to it; the only instanceI believein thewhole course of his life when he condescended to oppose any thing that waswritten against him. I suppose when he thought of any of his little antagonistshe was ever justly aware of the high sentiment of Ajax in Ovid: -

"Iste tulit pretium jam nunc certaminis hujus

Quicum victus eritmecum certasse feretur." -

Butindeedthe good Mr. Hanway laid himself so open to ridiculethatJohnson's animadversions upon his attack were chiefly to make sport.

The generosity with which he pleads the cause of Admiral Byng is highly tothe honour of his heart and spirit. Though Voltaire affects to be witty upon thefate of that unfortunate officerobserving that he was shot "pourencourager les autres" the nation has long been satisfied that his lifewas sacrificed to the political fervour of the times. In the vault belonging tothe Torrington familyin the church of Southillin Bedfordshirethere is thefollowing Epitaph upon his monumentwhich I have transcribed: -












Johnson's most exquisite critical essay in the Literary Magazineand indeedany whereis his review of Soame Jenyns's "Inquiry into the Origin ofEvil." Jenyns was possessed of lively talentsand a style eminently pureand easyand could very happily play with a light subjecteither in prose orverse; but when he speculated on that most difficult and excruciating questionthe Origin of Evilhe "ventured far beyond his depth" andaccordinglywas exposed by Johnsonboth with acute argument and brilliant wit.I remember when the late Mr. Bicknell's humourous performance entitled "TheMusical Travels of Joel Collyer" in which a slight attempt is made toridicule Johnsonwas ascribed to Soame Jenyns"Ha! (said Johnson) Ithought I had given him enough of it."

His triumph over Jenyns is thus described by my friend Mr. Courtenay in his"Poetical Review of the literary and moral Character of Dr. Johnson;"a performance of such meritthat had I not been honoured with a very kind andpartial notice in itI should echo the sentiments of men of the first tasteloudly in its praise: -

"When specious sophists with presumption scan

The source of evil hidden still from man;

Revive Arabian talesand vainly hope

To rival St. Johnand his scholar Pope:

Though metaphysicks spread the gloom of night

By reason's star he guides our aching sight;

The bounds of knowledge marksand points the way

To pathless wasteswhere wilder'd sages stray;

Wherelike a farthing link-boyJenyns stands

And the dim torch drops from his feeble hands." * -

* Some time after Dr. Johnson's deaththere appeared in the news-papers andmagazines an illiberal and petulant attack upon himin the form of an Epitaphunder the name of Mr. Soame Jenynsvery unworthy of that gentlemanwho hadquietly submitted to the critical lash while Johnson lived. It assumedascharacteristicks of himall the vulgar circumstances of abuse which hadcirculated amongst the ignorant. It was an unbecoming indulgence of punyresentmentat a time when he himself was at a very advanced ageand had a nearprospect of descending to the grave. I was truly sorry for it; for he was thenbecome an avowedand (as my Lord Bishop of Londonwho had a seriousconversation with him on the subjectassures me) a sincere Christian. He couldnot expect that Johnson's numerous friends would patiently bear to have thememory of their master stigmatized by no mean penbut thatat leastone wouldbe found to retort. Accordinglythis unjust and sarcastick Epitaph was met inthe same publick field by an answerin terms by no means softand such aswanton provocation only could justify:


Prepared for a creature not quite dead yet.

"HERE lies a little ugly nauseous elf

Who judging only from its wretched self

Feebly attemptedpetulant and vain

The 'Origin of Evil' to explain.

A mighty Genius at this elf displeas'd

With a strong critick grasp the urchin squeez'd.

For thirty years its coward spleen it kept

Till in the dust the mighty Genius slept:

Then stunk and fretted in expiring snuff

And blink'd at JOHNSON with its last poor puff." -

This year Mr. William Paynebrother of the respectable bookseller of thatnamepublished "An Introduction to the Game of Draughts" to whichJohnson contributed a Dedication to the Earl of Rochford(@) and a Preface(@)both of which are admirably adapted to the treatise to which they are prefixed.JohnsonI believedid not play at draughts after leaving Collegeby which hesuffered; for it would have afforded him an innocent soothing relief from themelancholy which distressed him so often. I have heard him regret that he hadnot learnt to play at cards; and the game of draughts we know is peculiarlycalculated to fix the attention without straining it. There is a composure andgravity in draughts which insensibly tranquillises the mind; andaccordinglythe Dutch are fond of itas they are of smoakingof the sedative influence ofwhichthough he himself never smoakedhe had a high opinion. * Besidesthereis in draughts some exercise of the faculties; andaccordinglyJohnson wishingto dignify the subject in his Dedication with what is most estimable in itobserves"Triflers may find or make any thing a trifle: but since it isthe great characteristick of a wise man to see events in their causestoobviate consequencesand ascertain contingenciesyour Lordship will thinknothing a trifle by which the mind is inured to cautionforesightandcircumspection." -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit.p. 48 (Aug. 19). -

As one of the little occasional advantages which he did not disdain to takeby his penas a man whose profession was literaturehe this year accepted of aguinea from Mr. Robert Dodsleyfor writing the introduction to "The LondonChronicle" an evening news-paper; and even so slight a performanceexhibited peculiar talents. This Chronicle still subsistsand from what Iobservedwhen I was abroadhas a more extensive circulation upon the Continentthan any of the English news-papers. It was constantly read by Johnson himself;and it is but just to observethat it has all along been distinguished for goodsenseaccuracymoderationand delicacy.

Another instance of the same nature has been communicated to me by theReverend Dr. Thomas Campbellwho has done himself considerable credit by hisown writings. "Sitting with Dr. Johnson one morning alonehe asked me if Ihad known Dr. Maddenwho was authour of the premium-scheme * in Ireland. On myanswering in the affirmativeand also that I had for some years lived in hisneighbourhood&c. he begged of me that when I returned to IrelandI wouldendeavour to procure for him a poem of Dr. Madden's called "Boulter'sMonument." *(2) The reason (said he) why I wish for it is this: when Dr.Madden came to London he submitted that work to my castigation; and I remember Iblotted a great many linesand might have blotted many more without making thepoem worse. *(3) Howeverthe Doctor was very thankfuland very generousforhe gave me ten guineaswhich was to me at that time a great sum." -

* [In the College of Dublinfour quarterly Examinations of the students areheld in each yearin various prescribed branches of literature and science; andpremiumsconsisting of books impressed with the College Armsare adjudged byExaminers (composed generally of the Junior Fellows)to those who have mostdistinguished themselves in the several classesafter a very rigid trialwhichlasts two days. This regulationwhich has subsisted about seventy yearshasbeen attended with the most beneficial effects.

Dr. Samuel Madden was the first proposer of premiums in that University. Theywere instituted about the year 1734. He was also one of the founders of theDUBLIN SOCIETY for the encouragement of arts and agriculture. In addition to thepremiums which were and are still annually given by that society for thispurposeDr. Madden gave others from his own fund. Hence he was usually called"Premium Madden."- M.]

*(2) [Dr. Hugh BoulterArchbishop of Armaghand Primate of Ireland. He diedSept. 271742at which time he wasfor the thirteenth timeone of the LordsJustices of that kingdom. Johnson speaks of him in high terms of commendationin his Life of Ambrose Philips.- J. BOSWELL.]

*(3) [Dr. Madden wrote very bad verses. V. those prefixed to Leland's Life ofPhilip of Macedon4to. 1758.- KEARNEY.] -

He this year resumed his scheme of giving an edition of Shakspeare withnotes. He issued proposals of considerable length* in which he shewed that heperfectly well knew what variety of research such an undertaking required; buthis indolence prevented him from pursuing it with that diligence which alone cancollect those scattered factsthat geniushowever acutepenetratingandluminouscannot discover by its own force. It is remarkablethat at this timehis fancied activity was for the moment so vigourousthat he promised his workshould be published before Christmas1757. Yet nine years elapsed before it sawthe light. His throes in bringing it forth had been severe and remittent; and atlast we may almost conclude that the Caesarian operation was performed by theknife of Churchillwhose upbraiding satireI dare saymade Johnson's friendsurge him to dispatch. -

* They have been reprinted by Mr. Malone in the Preface to his edition ofShakspeare. -

"He for subscribers baits his hook

And takes your cash; but where's the book?

No matter where; wise fearyou know

Forbids the robbing of a foe;

But whatto serve our private ends

Forbids the cheating of our friends?" -

About this period he was offered a living of considerable value inLincolnshireif he were inclined to enter into holy orders. It was a rectory inthe gift of Mr. Langtonthe father of his much-valued friend. But he did notaccept of it; partly I believe from a conscientious motivebeing persuaded thathis temper and habits rendered him unfit for that assiduous and familiarinstruction of the vulgar and ignorantwhich he held to be an essential duty ina clergyman; and partly because his love of a London life was so strongthat hewould have thought himself an exile in any other placeparticularly if residingin the country. Whoever would wish to see his thoughts upon that subjectdisplayed in their full forcemay peruse the AdventurerNumber 126.

1757: AETAT. 48 -

In 1757 it does not appear that he published any thingexcept some of thosearticles in the Literary Magazinewhich have been mentioned. That magazineafter Johnson ceased to write in itgradually declinedthough the popularepithet of Antigallican was added to it; and in July 1758 it expired. Heprobably prepared a part of his Shakspeare this yearand he dictated a speechon the subject of an address to the Throneafter the expedition to Rochfortwhich was delivered by one of his friendsI know not in what publick meeting.It is printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for October 1785 as hisand bearssufficient marks of authenticity.

By the favour of Mr. Joseph Cooper Walkerof the TreasuryDublinI haveobtained a copy of the following letter from Johnson to the venerable authour of"Dissertations on the History of Ireland." -



"I HAVE latelyby the favour of Mr. Faulknerseen your account ofIrelandand cannot forbear to solicit a prosecution of your design. Sir WilliamTemple complains that Ireland is less known than any other countryas to itsancient state. The natives have had little leisureand little encouragement forenquiry; and strangersnot knowing the languagehave had no ability.

"I have long wished that the Irish literature were cultivated. *(2)Ireland is known by tradition to have been once the seat of piety and learning;and surely it would be very acceptable to all those who are curious either inthe original of nationsor the affinities of languagesto be further informedof the revolution of a people so ancientand once so illustrious.

"What relation there is between the Welsh and Irish languageor betweenthe language of Ireland and that of Biscaydeserves enquiry. Of theseprovincial and unextended tonguesit seldom happens that more than one areunderstood by any one man; andthereforeit seldom happens that a faircomparison can be made. I hope you will continue to cultivate this kind oflearningwhich has too long lain neglectedand whichif it be suffered toremain in oblivion for another centurymayperhapsnever be retrieved. As Iwish well to all useful undertakingsI would not forbear to let you know howmuch you deserve in my opinionfrom all lovers of studyand how much pleasureyour work has given toSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant


"LondonApril 91757." -

* [Of this gentlemanwho died at his seat at Ballinegarein the county ofRoscommon in IrelandJuly 11791in his 82nd yearsome account may be foundin the Gentleman's Magazine of that date. Of the work here alluded to by Dr.Johnson- "Dissertations on the History of Ireland"- a second and muchimproved edition was published by the authour in 1766.- M.]

*(2) The celebrated oratourMr. Floodhas shown himself to be of Dr.Johnson's opinion; having by his will bequeathed his estateafter the death ofhis wife Lady Francesto the University of Dublin; desiring that immediatelyafter the said estate shall come into their possessionthey shall appoint twoprofessorsone for the study of the native Erse or Irish languageand theother for the study of Irish antiquities and Irish historyand for the study ofany other European language illustrative ofor auxiliary tothe study of Irishantiquities or Irish history; and that they shall give yearly two liberalpremiums for two compositionsone in verseand the other in prosein theIrish language.

[Since the above was writtenMr. Flood's Will has been set asideafter atrial at barin the Court of Exchequer in Ireland.- M.] -



"DR. MARSILI Of Paduaa learned gentlemanand good Latin poethas amind to see Oxford. I have given him a letter to Dr. Huddesford* and shall beglad if you will introduce himand shew him any thing in Oxford.

"I am printing my new edition of Shakspeare.

"I long to see you allbut cannot conveniently come yet. You mightwrite to me now and thenif you were good for any thing. But honores mutantmores. Professors forget their friends. *(2) I shall certainly complain to MissJones. *(3) I am



"[London] June 211757.

"Please to make my compliments to Mr. Wise." -

* "Nowor lateVice-Chancellor."

*(2) "Mr. Warton was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in thepreceding year."

*(3) "Miss Jones lived at Oxfordand was often of our parties. She wasa very ingenious poetessand published a volume of poems; andon the wholewas a most sensibleagreeableand amiable woman. She was sister to theReverend River JonesChanter of Christ-Church cathedral at Oxfordand Johnsonused to call her the Chantress. I have heard him often address her in thispassage from 'IL PENSEROSO':

'TheeChantressoft the woods among

I woo' &c.

She died unmarried." -

Mr. Burney having enclosed to him an extract from the review of hisDictionary in the Bibliotheque des Savans* and a list of subscribers to hisShakspearewhich Mr. Burney had procured in Norfolkhe wrote the followinganswer: -

* Tom. IIIp. 482. -



"THAT I may show myself sensible of your favoursand not commit thesame fault a second timeI make haste to answer the letter which I receivedthis morning. The truth isthe other likewise was receivedand I wrote ananswer; but being desirous to transmit you some proposals and receiptsI waitedtill I could find a convenient conveyanceand day was passed after daytillother things drove it from my thoughts; yet not sobut that I remember withgreat pleasure your commendation of my Dictionary. Your praise was welcomenotonly because I believe it was sincerebut because praise has been very scarce.A man of your candour will be surprised when I tell youthat among all myacquaintance there were only twowho upon the publication of my book did notendeavour to depress me with threats of censure from the publickor withobjections learned from those who had learned them from my own preface. Your'sis the only letter of good-will that I have received; thoughindeedI ampromised something of that sort from Sweden.

"How my new edition * will be received I know not; the subscription hasnot been very successful. I shall publish about March.

"If you can direct me how to send proposalsI should wish that theywere in such hands.

"I rememberSirin some of the first letters with which you favouredmeyou mentioned your lady. May I enquire after her? In return for the favourswhich you have shewn meit is not much to tell youthat I wish you and her allthat can conduce to your happiness. I amSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant


"Gough-squareDec. 241757." -

* Of Shakspeare.

1758: AETAT. 49 -

In 1758 we find himit should seemin as easy and pleasant a state ofexistenceas constitutional unhappiness ever permitted him to enjoy. -



"I MUST have indeed slept very fastnot to have been awakened by yourletter. None of your suspicions are true; I am not much richer than when youleft me; andwhat is worsemy omission of an answer to your first letterwillprove that I am not much wiser. But I go on as I formerly diddesigning to besome time or other both rich and wise; and yet cultivate neither mind norfortune. Do you take notice of my exampleand learn the danger of delay. When Iwas as you are nowtowering in the confidence of twenty-onelittle did Isuspect that I should be at forty-ninewhat I now am.

"But you do not seem to need my admonition. You are busy in acquiringand in communicating knowledgeand while you are studyingenjoy the end ofstudyby making others wiser and happier. I was much pleased with the tale thatyou told me of being tutour to your sisters. Iwho have no sisters norbrotherslook with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to beborn to friends; and cannot seewithout wonderhow rarely that native union isafterwards regarded. It sometimesindeedhappensthat some supervenient causeof discord may overpower the original amity; but it seems to me more frequentlythrown away with levityor lost by negligencethan destroyed by injury orviolence. We tell the ladies that good wives make good husbands; I believe it isa more certain position that good brothers make good sisters.

"I am satisfied with your stay at homeas Juvenal with his friend'sretirement to Cumae: I know that your absence is bestthough it be not best forme. -

'Quamvis digressu veteris confusus amici

Laudo tamen vacuis quod sedem figere Cumis

Destinetatque unum civem donare Sibyllae.' -

"Langton is a good Cumaebut who must be Sibylla? Mrs. Langton is aswise as Sibyland as good; and will liveif my wishes can prolong lifetillshe shall in time be as old. But she differs in thisthat she has not scatteredher precepts in the windat least not those which she bestowed upon you.

"The two Wartons just looked into the townand were taken to seeCleonewhereDavid * saysthey were starved for want of company to keep themwarm. David and Doddy *(2) have had a new quarrelandI thinkcannotconveniently quarrel any more. 'Cleone' was well acted by all the charactersbut Bellamy left nothing to be desired. I went the first nightand supported itas well as I might; for Doddyyou knowis my patronand I would not deserthim. The play was very well received. Doddyafter the danger was overwentevery night to the stage-sideand cryed at the distress of poor Cleone. "Ihave left off housekeepingand therefore made presents of the game which youwere pleased to send me. The pheasant I gave to Mr. Richardson*(3) the bustardto Dr. Lawrenceand the pot I placed with Miss Williamsto be eaten by myself.She desires that her compliments and good wishes may be accepted by the family;and I make the same request for myself.

"Mr. Reynolds has within these few days raised his price to twentyguineas a headand Miss is much employed in miniatures. I know not any body[else] whose prosperity has increased since you left them.

"Murphy is to have his 'Orphan of China' acted next month; and isthereforeI supposehappy. I wish I could tell you of any great good to whichI was approachingbut at present my prospects do not much delight me; howeverI am always pleased when I find that youdear Sirremember

"Your affectionatehumble servant


"Jan. 91758." -

* Mr. Garrick.

*(2) Mr. Dodsleythe Authour of Cleone.

*(3) Mr. Samuel RichardsonAuthor of Clarissa. -



"YOUR kindness is so greatand my claim to any particular regard fromyou so littlethat I am at a loss how to express my sense of your favours; *but I amindeedmuch pleased to be thus distinguished by you.

"I am ashamed to tell you that my Shakspeare will not be out as soon asI promised my subscribers; but I did not promise them more than I promisedmyself. It willhoweverbe published before summer.

"I have sent you a bundle of proposalswhichI thinkdo not professmore than I have hitherto performed. I have printed many of the playsand havehitherto left very few passages unexplained; where I am quite at lossI confessmy ignorancewhich is seldom done by commentators.

"I havelikewiseinclosed twelve receipts; not that I mean to imposeupon you the trouble of pushing them with more importunity than may seem properbut that you may rather have more than fewer than you shall want. The proposalsyou will disseminate as there shall be an opportunity. I once printed them atlength in the Chronicleand some of my friends (I believe Mr. Murphywhoformerly wrote the Gray's-Inn Journal) introduced them with a splendid encomium.

"Since the Life of BrowneI have been a little engagedfrom time totimein the Literary Magazinebut not very lately. I have not the collectionby meand therefore cannot draw out a catalogue of my own partsbut will doitand send it. Do not buy themfor I will gather all those that have anything of mine in themand send them to Mrs. Burneyas a small token ofgratitude for the regard which she is pleased to bestow upon me.

"I amSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant


"LondonMarch 81758." -

* This letter was an answer to onein which was inclosed a draft for thepayment of some subscriptions to his Shakspeare. -

Dr. Burney has kindly favoured me with the following memorandumwhich I takethe liberty to insert in his own genuine easy style. I love to exhibit sketchesof my illustrious friends by various eminent hands.

"Soon after thisMr. Burneyduring a visit to the capitalhad aninterview with him in Gough-squarewhere he dined and drank tea with himandwas introduced to the acquaintance of Mrs. Williams. After dinnerMr. Johnsonproposed to MrBurney to go up with him into his garretwhich being acceptedhe there found about five or six Greek foliosa deal writing-deskand a chairand a half. Johnson giving to his guest the entire seattottered himself on onewith only three legs and one arm. Here he gave Mr. Burney Mrs. Williams'shistoryand shewed him some volumes of his Shakspeare already printedto provethat he was in earnest. Upon Mr. Burney's opening the first volumeat theMerchant of Venicehe observed to himthat he seemed to be more severe onWarburton than Theobald. 'O poor Tib.! (said Johnson) he was ready knocked downto my hands; Warburton stands between me and him.' 'But Sir(said Mr. Burney)you'll have Warburton upon your boneswon't you?' 'No Sir; he'll not come out;he'll only growl in his den.' 'But you thinkSirthat Warburton is a superiorcritick to Theobald?'- 'OSirhe'd make two-and-fifty Theobaldscut intoslices! The worst of Warburton isthat he has a rage for saying somethingwhenthere's nothing to be said.'- Mr. Burney then asked him whether he had seen theletter which Warburton had written in answer to a pamphlet addressed 'To themost impudent Man alive.' He answered in the negative. Mr. Burney told him itwas supposed to be written by Mallet. The controversy now raged between thefriends of Pope and Bolingbroke; and Warburtorn and Mallet were the leaders ofthe several parties. Mr. Burney asked him then if he had seen Warburton's bookagainst Bolingbroke's Philosophy? 'NoSirI have never read Bolingbroke'simpietyand therefore am not interested about its confutation.'"

On the fifteenth of April he began a new periodical paperentitled "THEIDLER" (@) which came out every Saturday in a weekly news-papercalled"The Universal Chronicleor Weekly Gazette" published by Newbery. *These essays were continued till April 51760. Of one hundred and threetheirtotal numbertwelve were contributed by his friends; of whichNumbers 3393and 96were written by Mr. Thomas Warton; No. 67 by Mr. Langton; and Nos. 7679and 82by Sir Joshua Reynolds; the concluding words of No. 82"andpollute his canvas with deformity" being added by Johnson; as Sir Joshuainformed me. -

* [This is a slight mistake. The first number of "The Idler"appeared on the 15th of April1758in No. 2 of the Universal Chronicle&c.which was published by J. Paynefor whom also the Rambler had beenprinted. On the 29th of April this newspaper assumed the title of PAYNE'SUniversal Chronicle&c.- M.] -

The IDLER is evidently the work of the same mind which produced the RAMBLERbut has less body and more spirit. It has more variety of real lifeand greaterfacility of language. He describes the miseries of idlenesswith the livelysensations of one who has felt them; and in his private memorandums whileengaged in itwe find "This year I hope to learn diligence." * Manyof these excellent essays were written as hastily as an ordinary letter. Mr.Langton remembers Johnsonwhen on a visit at Oxfordasking him one evening howlong it was till the post went out; and on being told about half an hourheexclaimed"then we shall do very well." He upon this instantly satdown and finished an Idlerwhich it was necessary should be in London the nextday. Mr. Langton having signified a wish to read it"Sir(said he) youshall not do more than I have done myself." He then folded it upand sentit off. -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 30. -

Yet there are in the Idler several papers which shew as much profundity ofthoughtand labour of languageas any of this great man's writings. No. 14"Robbery of time;" No. 24"Thinking;" No. 41"Deathof a friend;" No. 43"Flight of time;" No. 51"Domestickgreatness unattainable;" No. 52"Self-denial;" No. 58"Actualhow short of fanciedexcellence;" No. 89"Physicalevil moral good;" and his concluding paper on "The horrour of thelast" will prove this assertion. I know not why a mottothe usualtrapping of periodical papersis prefixed to very few of the Idlersas I haveheard Johnson commend the custom; and he never could be at a loss for onehismemory being stored with innumerable passages of the classicks. In this seriesof essays he exhibits admirable instances of grave humourof which he had anuncommon share. Nor on some occasions has he repressed that power of sophistrywhich he possessed in so eminent a degree. In No. 11he treats with the utmostcontempt the opinion that our mental faculties dependin some degreeupon theweather; an opinionwhich they who have never experienced its truth are not tobe enviedand of which he himself could not but be sensibleas the effects ofweather upon him were very visible. Yet thus he declaims: "Surelynothingis more reproachful to a being endowed with reasonthan to resign its powers tothe influence of the airand live in dependence on the weather and the wind forthe only blessings which nature has put into our powertranquillity andbenevolence.- This distinction of seasons is produced only by imaginationoperating on luxury. To temperanceevery day is bright; and every hour ispropitious to diligence. He that shall resolutely excite his facultiesor exerthis virtueswill soon make himself superiour to the seasons; and may set atdefiance the morning mist and the evening dampthe blasts of the eastand theclouds of the south."

Alas! it is too certainthat where the frame has delicate fibresand thereis a fine sensibilitysuch influences of the air are irresistible. He might aswell bid defiance to the aguethe palsyand all other bodily disorders. Suchboasting of the mind is false elevation. -

"I think the Romans call it Stoicism." -

But in this number of his Idler his spirits seem to run riot; for in thewantonness of his disquisition he forgetsfor a momenteven the reverence forthat which he held in high respect; and describes "the attendant on aCourt" as one "whose business is to watch the looks of a beingweakand foolish as himself."

His unqualified ridicule of rhetorical gesture or action is notsurelyatest of truth; yet we cannot help admiring how well it is adapted to produce theeffect which he wished. "Neither the judges of our lawsnor therepresentatives of our peoplewould be much affected by labouredgesticulationsor believe any man the more because he rolled his eyesorpuffed his cheeksor spread abroad his armsor stamped the groundor thumpedhis breast; or turned his eyes sometimes to the ceilingand sometimes to thefloor."

A casual coincidence with other writersor an adoption of a sentiment orimage which has been found in the writings of anotherand afterwards appears inthe mind as one's ownis not unfrequent. The richness of Johnson's fancywhichcould supply his page abundantly on all occasionsand the strength of hismemorywhich at once detected the real owner of any thoughtmade him lessliable to the imputation of plagiarism thanperhapsany of our writers. In theIdlerhoweverthere is a paperin which conversation is assimilated to a bowlof punchwhere there is the same train of comparison as in a poem by Blacklockin his collection published in 1756; in which a parallel is ingeniously drawnbetween human life and that liquor. It ends-

"Saythenphysicians of each kind

Who cure the body or the mind

What harm in drinking can there be

Since punch and life so well agree?" -

To the Idlerwhen collected in volumeshe addedbeside the Essay onEpitaphsand the Dissertation on those of Popean Essay on the Bravery of theBritish common Soldiers. Hehoweveromitted one of the original paperswhichin the folio copyis No. 22. * -

* This paper may be found in Stockdale's supplemental volumeof Johnson'sMiscellaneous Pieces. -



"YOUR notes upon my poet were very acceptable. I beg that you will be sokind as to continue your searches. It will be reputable to my workand suitableto your professorshipto have something of yours in the notes. As you havegiven no directions about your nameI shall therefore put it. I wish yourbrother would take the same trouble. A commentary must arise from the fortuitousdiscoveries of many men in devious walks of literature. Some of your remarks areon plays already printed: but I purpose to add an Appendix of Notesso thatnothing comes too late.

"You give yourself too much uneasinessdear Sirabout the loss of thepapers. * The loss is nothingif nobody has found them; nor even thenperhapsif the numbers be known. You are not the only friend that has had the samemischance. You may repair your want out of a stockwhich is deposited with Mr.Allenof Magdalen-Hall; or out of a parcel which I have just sent to Mr.Chambers *(2) for the use of any body that will be so kind as to want them. Mr.Langtons are well; and Miss Robertswhom I have at last brought to speakuponthe information which you gave methat she had something to say.

"I am&c.


"[London] April 141758." -

* "Receipts for Shakespeare."

*(2) "Then of Lincoln College. Now Sir Robert Chambersone of theJudges in India." -



"YOU will receive this by Mr. Barettia gentleman particularly intitledto the notice and kindness of the Professor of poesy. He has time but for ashort stayand will be glad to have it filled up with as much as he can hearand see.

"In recommending another to your favourI ought not to omit thanks forthe kindness which you have shown to myself. Have you any more notes onShakspeare? I shall be glad of them.

"I see your pupil sometimes; * his mind is as exalted as his stature. Iam half afraid of him; but he is no less amiable than formidable. He willifthe forwardness of his spring be not blastedbe a credit to youand to theUniversity. He brings some of my plays *(2) with himwhich he has my permissionto shew youon condition you will hide them from every body else.

"I amdear Sir&c.


"[London] June 11758." -

* "Mr. Langton."

*(2) "Part of the impression of the Shakspearewhich Dr. Johnsonconducted aloneand published by subscription. This edition came out in1765." -



"THOUGH I might have expected to hear from youupon your entrance intoa new state of life at a new placeyet recollecting(not without some degreeof shame) that I owe you a letter upon an old accountI think it my part towrite first. ThisindeedI do not only from complaisance but from interest;for living on in the old wayI am very glad of a correspondent so capable asyourselfto diversify the hours. You haveat presenttoo many novelties aboutyou to need any help from me to drive along your time.

"I know not any thing more pleasantor more instructivethan tocompare experience with expectationor to register from time to time thedifference between idea and reality. It is by this kind of observation that wegrow daily less liable to be disappointed. Youwho are very capable ofanticipating futurityand raising phantoms before your own eyesmust oftenhave imagined to yourself an academical lifeand have conceived what would bethe mattersthe viewsand the conversationof men devoted to letters; howthey would choose their companionshow they would direct their studiesand howthey would regulate their lives. Let me know what you expectedand what youhave found. At least record it to yourself before custom has reconciled you tothe scenes before youand the disparity of your discoveries to your hopes hasvanished from your mind. It is a rule never to be forgottenthat whateverstrikes stronglyshould be described while the first impression remains freshupon the mind.

"I lovedear Sirto think on youand thereforeshould willinglywrite more to youbut that the post will not now give me leave to do more thansend my compliments to Mr. Wartonand tell you that I amdear Sirmostaffectionately

"Your very humble servant


"June 281758." -



"I SHOULD be sorry to think that what engrosses the attention of myfriendshould have no part of mine. Your mind is now full of the fate of Dury;* but his fate is pastand nothing remains but to try what reflection willsuggest to mitigate the terrours of a deathwhich is more formidable at thefirst glancethan on a nearer and more steady view. A violent death is neververy painful; the only danger islest it should be unprovided. But if a man canbe supposed to make no provision for death in warwhat can be the state thatwould have awakened him to the care of futurity? When would that man haveprepared himself to diewho went to seek death without preparation? What thencan be the reason why we lament more him that dies of a woundthan him thatdies of a fever? A man that languishes with diseaseends his life with morepainbut with less virtue: he leaves no example to his friendsnor bequeathsany honour to his descendants. The only reason why we lament a Soldier's deathisthat we think he might have lived longer; yet this cause of grief is commonto many other kinds of deathwhich are not so passionately bewailed. The truthisthat every death is violent which is the effect of accident; every deathwhich is not gradually brought on by the miseries of ageor when life isextinguished for any other reason than that it is burnt out. He that dies beforesixtyof a cold or consumptiondiesin realityby a violent death; yet hisdeath is borne with patienceonly because the cause of his untimely end issilent and invisible. Let us endeavour to see things as they areand thenenquire whether we ought to complain. Whether to see life as it iswill give usmuch consolationI know not; but the consolation which is drawn from truthifany there beis solid and durable; that which may be derived from errourmustbelike its original fallacious and fugitive.

"I amdeardear Sir

"Your most humble Servant


"Sept. 211758." -

* Major-General Alexander Duryof the first regiment of foot-guardswhofell in the gallant discharge of his dutynear St. Casin the well-knownunfortunate expedition against Francein 1758. His lady and Mr. Langton'smother were sisters. He left an only sonLieutenant-Colonel Durywho has acompany in the same regiment.

1759: AETAT. 50 -

In 1759in the month of Januaryhis mother died at the great age of ninetyan event which deeply affected him; not that "his mind had acquired nofirmness by the contemplation of morality;" * but that his reverentialaffection for her was not abated by yearsas indeed he retained all his tenderfeelings even to the latest period of his life. I have been toldthat heregretted much his not having gone to visit his mother for several yearsprevious to her death. But he was constantly engaged in literary labours whichconfined him to London; and though he had not the comfort of seeing his agedparenthe contributed to her support. -

* Hawkins's Life of Johnsonp. 365. -



"THE account which Miss [Porter] gives me of your healthpierces myheart. GOD comfortand preserve youand save youfor the sake of JesusChrist.

"I would have Miss read to you from time to time the Passion of ourSaviourand sometimes the sentences in the Communion Servicebeginning- Comeunto me all ye that travail and are heavy ladenand I will give you rest.

"I have just now read a physical bookwhich inclines me to think that astrong infusion of the bark would do you good. Dodear mothertry it.

"Praysend me your blessingand forgive all that I have done amiss toyou. And whatever you would have doneand what debts you would have paid firstor any thing else that you would directlet Miss put it down; I shall endeavourto obey you.

"I have got twelve guineas *(2) to send youbut unhappily am at a losshow to send it to-night. If I cannot send it to-nightit will come by the nextpost.

"Praydo not omit any thing mentioned in this letter. GOD bless you forever and ever.

"I am

"Your dutiful Son


"Jan. 131758." *(3) -

* [Since the publication of the third edition of this workthe followingletters of Dr. Johnsonoccasioned by the last illness of his motherwereobligingly communicated to Mr. Malone by the Rev. Dr. Vyse. They are placed hereagreeably to the chronological order almost uniformly observed by the authour;and so strongly evince Dr. Johnson's pietyand tenderness of heartthat everyreader must be gratified by their insertion.- M.]

*(2) [Six of these twelve guineas Johnson appears to have borrowed from Mr.Allenthe Printer. See Hawkins's Life of Johnsonp. 366n.- M.]

*(3) Written by mistake for 1759as the subsequent letters shew. In the nextletterhe had inadvertently fallen into the same errourbut corrected it. Onthe outside of the letter of the 13th was written by another hand- "Prayacknowledge the receipt of this by return of the postwithout fail."- M.]-



"I THINK myself obliged to you beyond all expression of gratitude foryour care of my dear mother. GOD grant it may not be without success. TellKitty* that I shall never forget her tenderness for her mistress. Whatever youcan docontinue to do. My heart is very full.

"I hope you received twelve guineas on Monday. I found a way of sendingthem by means of the Postmasterafter I had written my letterand hope theycame safe. I will send you more in a few days. GOD bless you all.

"I ammy dear

"Your most obliged

"and most humble Servant


"Jan. 161759."

"Over the leaf is a letter to my mother." -


"YOUR weakness afflicts me beyond what I am willing to communicate toyou. I do not think you unfit to face deathbut I know not how to bear thethought of losing you. Endeavour to do all you [can] for yourself. Eat as muchas you can.

"I pray often for you; do you pray for me.- I have nothing to add to mylast letter.

"I amdeardear Mother

"Your dutiful Son


"Jan. 161759." -

* [Catharine ChambersMrs. Johnson's maid-servant. She died in October1767. See Dr. Johnson's PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONSp. 71: "SundayOct. 181767. YesterdayOct. 17I took my leave for ever of my dear old friendCatharine Chamberswho came to live with my mother about 1724and has been butlittle parted from us since. She buried my fathermy brotherand my mother.She is now fifty-eight years old."- M.] -



"I FEAR you are too ill for long letters; therefore I will only tellyouyou have from me all the regard that can possibly subsist in the heart. Ipray GOD to bless you for evermorefor Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

"Let Miss write to me every posthowever short.

"I amdear Mother

"Your dutiful Son


"Jan. 181759." -



"I WILLif it be possiblecome down to you. GOD grant I may yet [find]my dear mother breathing and sensible. Do not tell herlest I disappoint her.If I miss to write next postI am on the road.

"I ammy dearest Miss

"Your most humble servant


"Jan. 201759." -

"On the other side."


"NEITHER your condition nor your character make it fit for me to saymuch. You have been the best motherand I believe the best woman in the world.I thank you for your indulgence to meand beg forgiveness of all that I havedone illand all that I have omitted to do well. *(2) GOD grant you his HolySpiritand receive you to everlasting happinessfor Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.Lord Jesus receive your spirit. Amen.

"I amdeardear Mother

"Your dutiful Son


"Jan. 201759." -

* [This letter was written on the second leaf of the precedingaddressed toMiss Porter.- M.]

*(2) [Soin the Prayer which he composed on this occasion: "AlmightyGODmerciful Fatherin whose hands are life and deathsanctify unto me thesorrow which I now feel. Forgive me whatever I have done unkindly to my Motherand whatever I have omitted to do kindly. Make me to remember her good preceptsand good exampleand to reform my life according to thy holy word&c." PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS. p. 31.- M.] -


"YOU will conceive my sorrow for the loss of my motherof the bestmother. If she were to live againsurely I should behave better to her. But sheis happyand what is past is nothing to her; and for mesince I cannot repairmy faults to herI hope repentance will efface them. I return you and all thosethat have been good to her my sincere thanksand pray GOD to repay you all withinfinite advantage. Write to meand comfort medear child. I shall be gladlikewiseif Kitty will write to me. I shall send a bill of twenty pounds in afew dayswhich I thought to have brought to my mother; but GOD suffered it not.I have not power or composure to say much more. GOD bless youand bless us all.

"I amdear Miss

"Your affectionate humble Servant


"Jan. 231759." * -

* [Mrs. Johnson probably died on the 20th or 21st of Januaryand was buriedon the day this letter was written.- M.] -

Soon after this eventhe wrote his "RASSELASPRINCE OFABYSSINIA:" (@) concerning the publication of which Sir John Hawkinsguesses vaguely and idlyinstead of having taken the trouble to inform himselfwith authentick precision. Not to trouble my readers with a repetition of theKnight's reveriesI have to mentionthat the late Mr. Strahan the printer toldmethat Johnson wrote itthat with the profits he might defray the expence ofhis mother's funeraland pay some little debts which she had left. He told SirJoshua Reynoldsthat he composed it in the evenings of one week* sent it tothe press in portions as it was writtenand had never since read it over. *(2)Mr. StrahanMr. Johnsonand Mr. Dodsleypurchased it for a hundred poundsbut afterwards paid him twenty-five pounds morewhen it came to a secondedition. -

* [RASSELAS was published in March or April1759.]

*(2) [See postunder June 21781. Finding it then accidentally in a chaisewith Mr. Boswellhe read it eagerly.- This was doubtless long after hisdeclaration to Sir Joshua Reynolds.- M.] -

Considering the large sums which have been received for compilationsandworks requiring not much more genius than compilationswe cannot but wonder atthe very low price which he was content to receive for this admirableperformance; whichthough he had written nothing elsewould have rendered hisname immortal in the world of literature. None of his writings has been soextensively diffused over Europe; for it has been translated into mostif notallof the modern languages. This Talewith all the charms of orientalimageryand all the force and beauty of which the English language is capableleads us through the most important scenes of human lifeand shews us that thisstage of our being is full of "vanity and vexation of spirit." Tothose who look no further than the present lifeor who maintain that humannature has not fallen from the state in which it was createdthe instruction ofthis sublime story will be of no avail. But they who think justlyand feel withstrong sensibilitywill listen with eagerness and admiration to its truth andwisdom. Voltaire's CANDIDEwritten to refute the system of Optimismwhich ithas accomplished with brilliant successis wonderfully similar in its plan andconduct to Johnson's RASSELAS; insomuchthat I have heard Johnson saythat ifthey had not been published so closely one after the other that there was nottime for imitationit would have been in vain to deny that the scheme of thatwhich came latest was taken from the other. Though the proposition illustratedby both these works was the samenamelythat in our present state there ismore evil than goodthe intention of the writers was very different. VoltaireI am afraidmeant only by wanton profaneness to obtain a sportive victory overreligionand to discredit the belief of a superintending Providence: Johnsonmeantby shewing the unsatisfactory nature of things temporalto direct thehopes of man to things eternal. Rasselasas was observed to me by a veryaccomplished ladymay be considered as a more enlarged and more deeplyphilosophical discourse in proseupon the interesting truthwhich in his"Vanity of Human Wishes" he had so successfully enforced in verse.

The fund of thinking which this work contains is suchthat almost everysentence of it may furnish a subject of long meditation. I am not satisfied if ayear passes without my having read it through; and at every perusalmyadmiration of the mind which produced it is so highly raisedthat I canscarcely believe that I had the honour of enjoying the intimacy of such a man.

I restrain myself from quoting passages from this excellent workor evenreferring to thembecause I should not know what to selectorratherwhat toomit. I shallhowevertranscribe oneas it shews how well he could state thearguments of those who believe in the appearance of departed spirits; a doctrinewhich it is a mistake to suppose that he himself ever positively held:

"If all your fear be of apparitions(said the Prince) I will promiseyou safety: there is no danger from the dead; he that is once buried will beseen no more.

"That the dead are seen no more(said Imlac) I will not undertake tomaintainagainst the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all agesand of allnations. There is no peoplerude or learnedamong whom apparitions of the deadare not related and believed. This opinionwhich prevails as far as humannature is diffusedcould become universal only by its truth; those that neverheard of one anotherwould not have agreed in a tale which nothing butexperience can make credible. That it is doubted by single cavillerscan verylittle weaken the general evidence; and some who deny it with their tonguesconfess it by their fears."

Notwithstanding my high admiration of RasselasI will not maintain that the"morbid melancholy" in Johnson's constitution may notperhapshavemade life appear to him more insipid and unhappy than it generally is: for I amsure that he had less enjoyment from it than I have. Yetwhatever additionalshade his own particular sensations may have thrown on his representation oflifeattentive observation and close enquiry have convinced methat there istoo much reality in the gloomy picture. The truthhoweveristhat we judge ofthe happiness and misery of life differently at different timesaccording tothe state of our changeable frame. I always remember a remark made to me by aTurkish ladyeducated in France"Ma foiMonsieurnotre bonheur dependde la facon que notre sang circule." This have I learnt from a pretty hardcourse of experienceand wouldfrom sincere benevolenceimpress upon all whohonour this book with a perusalthat until a steady conviction is obtainedthat the present life is an imperfect stateand only a passage to a betterifwe comply with the divine scheme of progressive improvement; and also that it isa part of the mysterious plan of Providencethat intellectual beings must"be made perfect through suffering;" there will be a continualrecurrence of disappointment and uneasiness. But if we walk with hope in"the mid-day sun" of revelationour temper and disposition will besuchthat the comforts and enjoyments in our way will be relishedwhile wepatiently support the inconveniences and pains. After much speculation andvarious reasoningsI acknowledge myself convinced of the truth of Voltaire'sconclusion"Apres tout c'est un monde passable." But we must notthink too deeply: -

"-where ignorance is bliss

'Tis folly to be wise" -

isin many respectsmore than poetically just. Let us cultivateunder thecommand of good principles"la theorie des sensations agreables;"andas Mr. Burke once admirably counselled a grave and anxious gentleman"live pleasant."

The effect of Rasselasand of Johnson's other moral talesis thusbeautifully illustrated by Mr. Courtenay:

"Impressive truthin splendid fiction drest

Checks the vain wishand calms the troubled breast;

O'er the dark mind a light celestial throws

And soothes the angry passions to repose;

As oil effus'd illumes and smooths the deep

When round the bark the foaming surges sweep." * -

* Literary and Moral Character of Dr. Johnson. -

It will be recollectedthat during all this year he carried on his IDLER*andno doubtwas proceedingthough slowlyin his edition of Shakspeare. Hehoweverfrom that liberality which never failedwhen called upon to assistother labourers in literaturefound time to translate for Mrs. Lennox's Englishversion of Brumoy"A Dissertation on the Greek Comedy" (+) and"The General Conclusion of the Book." (+) -

* This paper was in such high estimation before it was collected intovolumesthat it was seized on with avidity by various publishers of news-papersand magazinesto enrich their publications. Johnsonto put a stop to thisunfair proceedingwrote for the Universal Chronicle the followingadvertisement; in which there isperhapsmore pomp of words than the occasiondemanded:

"LondonJanuary 51759. ADVERTISEMENT. The proprietors of the paperentitled 'The Idler' having found that those essays are inserted in thenewspapers and magazines with so little regard to justice or decencythat theUniversal Chroniclein which they first appearis not always mentionedthinkit necessary to declare to the publishers of those collectionsthat howeverpatiently they have hitherto endured these injuriesmade yet more injurious bycontemptthey have now determined to endure them no longer. They have alreadyseen essaysfor which a very large price is paidtransferredwith the mostshameless rapacityinto the weekly or monthly compilationsand their rightatleast for the presentalienated from thembefore they could themselves be saidto enjoy it. But they would not willingly be thought to want tendernessevenfor men by whom no tenderness hath been shewn. The past is without remedyandshall be without resentment. But those who have been thus busy with theirsickles in the fields of their neighboursare henceforward to take noticethatthe time of impunity is at an end. Whoever shallwithout leavelay the hand ofrapine upon our papersis to expect that we shall vindicate our dueby themeans which justice prescribesand which are warranted by the immemorialprescriptions of honourable trade. We shall lay hold in our turnon theircopiesdegrade them from the pomp of wide margin and diffuse typographycontract them into a narrow spaceand sell them at an humble price; yet notwith a view of growing rich by confiscationsfor we think not much better ofmoney got by punishment than by crimes. We shall thereforewhen our losses arerepaidgive what profit shall remain to the Magdalens; for we know not who canbe more properly taxed for the support of penitent prostitutesthan prostitutesin whom there yet appears neither penitence nor shame." -

An enquiry into the state of foreign countries was an object that seems atall times to have interested Johnson. Hence Mr. Newbery found no greatdifficulty in persuading him to write the Introduction (@) to a collection ofvoyages and travels published by him under the title of "The WorldDisplayed:" the first volume of which appeared this yearand the remainingvolumes in subsequent years.

I would ascribe to this year the following letter to a son of one of hisearly friends at LichfieldMr. Joseph SimpsonBarristerand authour of atract entitled "Reflections on the Study of the Law." -



"YOUR father's inexorability not only grieves but amazes me: he is yourfather; he was always accounted a wise man; nor do I remember any thing to thedisadvantage of his good nature; but in his refusal to assist you there isneither good naturefatherhoodnor wisdom. It is the practice of good natureto overlook faults which have alreadyby the consequencespunished thedelinquent. It is natural for a father to think more favourably than others ofhis children; and it is always wise to give assistancewhile a little help willprevent the necessity of greater.

"If you married imprudentlyyou miscarried at your own hazardat anage when you had a right of choice. It would be hard if the man might not choosehis own wifewho has a right to plead before the judges of his country.

"If your imprudence has ended in difficulties and inconveniencesyouare yourself to support themandwith the help of a little better healthyouwould support them and conquer them. Surelythat want which accident andsickness producesis to be supported in every region of humanitythough therewere neither friends nor fathers in the world. You have certainly from yourfather the highest claim of charitythough none of right: and therefore I wouldcounsel you to omit no decent nor manly degree of importunity. Your debts in thewhole are not largeand of the whole but a small part is troublesome. Smalldebts are like small shot; they are rattling on every sideand can scarcely beescaped without a wound: great debts are like cannon; of loud noisebut littledanger. You must thereforebe enabled to discharge petty debtsthat you mayhave leisurewith securityto struggle with the rest. Neither the great norlittle debts disgrace you. I am sure you have my esteem for the courage withwhich you contracted themand the spirit with which you endure them. I wish myesteem could be of more use. I have been invitedor have invited myself toseveral parts of the kingdom; and will not incommode my dear Lucy by coming toLichfieldwhile her present lodging is of any use to her. I hopein a fewdaysto be at leisureand to make visits. Whither I shall fly is matter of noimportance. A man unconnected is at home every where; unless he may be said tobe at home no where. I am sorrydear Sirthat where you have parentsa man ofyour merits should not have a home. I wish I could give it you. I ammy dearSir

"Affectionately yours


He now refreshed himself by an excursion to Oxfordof which the followingshort characteristical noticein his own wordsis preserved:- " nowmaking tea for me. I have been in my gown ever since I came here. It wasat myfirst comingquite new and handsome. I have swum thricewhich I had disusedfor many yearsI have proposed to Vansittart * climbing over the wallbut hehas refused me. And I have clapped my hands till they are soreat Dr. King'sspeech." *(2) -

* Dr. Robert Vansittartof the ancient and respectable family of that namein Berkshire. He was eminent for learning and worthand much esteemed by Dr.Johnson.

*(2) Gentleman's MagazineApril1785. -

His negro servantFrancis Barberhaving left himand been some time atseanot pressed as has been supposedbut with his own consentit appears froma letter to John WilkesEsq.from Dr. Smollettthat his master kindlyinterested himself in procuring his release from a state of life of whichJohnson always expressed the utmost abhorrence. He said"No man will be asailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in aship is being in a jailwith the chance of being drowned." * And atanother time"A man in a jail has more roombetter foodand commonlybetter company." *(2) The letter was as follows: -

"ChelseaMarch 161759.


"I AM again your petitionerin behalf of that great CHAM *(3) ofliteratureSamuel Johnson. His black servantwhose name is Francis Barberhasbeen pressed on board the Stag FrigateCaptain Angeland our lexicographer isin great distress. He saysthe boy is a sickly ladof a delicate frameandparticularly subject to a malady in his throatwhich renders him very unfit forhis Majesty's service. You know what matter of animosity the said Johnson hasagainst you: and I dare say you desire no other opportunity of resenting itthan that of laying him under an obligation. He was humble enough to desire myassistance on this occasionthough he and I were never cater-cousins; and Igave him to understand that I would make application to my friend Mr. Wilkeswhoperhapsby his interest with Dr. Hay and Mr. Elliotmight be able toprocure the discharge of his lacquey. It would be superfluous to say more on thesubjectwhich I leave to your own consideration; but I cannot let slip thisopportunity of declaring that I amwith the most inviolable esteem andattachmentdear Sir

"Your affectionate obliged humble servant


* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit.p. 126 (Aug. 31).

*(2) Ibid.p. 251Sep. 23.

*(3) In my first edition this word was printed Chumas it appears in one ofMr. Wilkes's Miscellaniesand I animadverted on Dr. Smollett's ignorance; forwhich let me propitiate the manes of that ingenious and benevolent gentleman.CHUM was certainly a mistaken reading for CHAMthe title of the Sovereign ofTartarywhich is well applied to Johnsonthe Monarch of Literature: and was anepithet familiar to Smollett. See "Roderick Random" chap. 56. Forthis correction I am indebted to Lord Palmerstonwhose talents and literaryacquirements accord well with his respectable pedigree of TEMPLE.

[After the publication of the second edition of this workthe authour wasfurnished by Mr. Abercrombie of Philadelphiawith the copy of a letter writtenby Dr. John Armstrongthe poetto Dr. Smollettat Leghorncontaining thefollowing paragraph:

"As to the K. Bench patriotit is hard to say from what motive hepublished a letter of yours asking some trifling favour of him in behalf ofsomebody for whom the great CHAM of LiteratureMr. Johnsonhad interestedhimself."- M.] -

Mr. Wilkeswho upon all occasions has acted as a private gentlemanwithmost polite liberalityapplied to his friend Sir George Haythen one of theLords Commissioners of the Admiralty; and Francis Barber was dischargedas hehas told mewithout any wish of his own. He found his old master in Chambers inthe Inner Templeand returned to his service.

What particular new scheme of life Johnson had in view this yearI have notdiscovered; but that he meditated one of some sortis clear from his privatedevotionsin which we find* "the change of outward things which I am nowto make;" and "Grant me the grace of thy Holy Spiritthat the coursewhich I am now beginning may proceed according to thy lawsand end in theenjoyment of thy favour." But he did notin factmake any external orvisible change. -

* Prayers and Meditationspp. 39 and 40. -

At this time there being a competition among the architects of London to beemployed in the building of Blackfriars-bridgea question was very warmlyagitated whether semicircular or elliptical arches were preferable. In thedesign offered by Mr. Mylne the elliptical form was adoptedand therefore itwas the great object of his rivals to attack it. Johnson's regard for his friendMr. Gwyn induced him to engage in this controversy against Mr. Mylne; * andafter being at considerable pains to study the subjecthe wrote three severalletters in the Gazetteerin opposition to his plan. -

* Sir John Hawkins has given a long detail of itin that manner vulgarlybut significantly called rigmarole; in whichamidst an ostentatious exhibitionof arts and artistshe talks of "proportions of a column being taken fromthat of the human figureand adjusted by Nature - masculine and feminine- in amansesquioctave of the headand in a woman sequinonal "; nor has hefailed to introduce a jargon of musical termswhich do not seem much tocorrespond with the subjectbut serve to make up the heterogeneous mass. Tofollow the Knight through all thiswould be an useless fatigue to myselfandnot a little disgusting to my readers. I shallthereforeonly make a fewremarks upon his statement.- He seems to exult in having detected Johnson inprocuring "from a person eminently skilled in mathematicks and theprinciples of architectureanswers to a string of questions drawn up byhimselftouching the comparative strength of semicircular and ellipticalarches." Now I cannot conceive how Johnson could have acted more wisely.Sir John complains that the opinion of that excellent mathematicianMr. ThomasSimpsondid not preponderate in favour of the semicircular arch. But he shouldhave knownthat however eminent Mr. Simpson was in the higher parts of abstractmathematical sciencehe was little versed in mixed and practical mechanicks.Mr. Mullerof Woolwich Academythe scholastick father of all the greatengineers which this country has employed for forty yearsdecided the questionby declaring clearly in favour of the elliptical arch.

It is ungraciously suggestedthat Johnson's motive for opposing Mr. Mylne'sscheme may have been his prejudice against him as a native of North-Britain;whenin truthas has been statedhe gave the aid of his able pen to a friendwho was one of the candidates; and so far was he from having any illiberalantipathy to Mr. Mylnethat he afterwards lived with that gentleman upon veryagreeable terms of acquaintanceand dined with him at his house. Sir JohnHawkinsindeedgives full vent to his own prejudice in abusingBlackfriars-bridgecalling it "an edificein which beauty and symmetryare in vain sought for; by which the citizens of London have perpetuated theirown disgraceand subjected a whole nation to the reproach of foreigners."Whoever has contemplatedplacido luminethis statelyelegantand airystructurewhich has so fine an effectespecially on approaching the capital onthat quartermust wonder at such unjust and ill-tempered censure; and I appealto all foreigners of good tastewhether this bridge be not one of the mostdistinguished ornaments of London. As to the stability of the fabrickit iscertain that the City of London took every precaution to have the best Portlandstone for it; but as this is to be found in the quarries belonging to thepublickunder the direction of the Lords of the Treasuryit so happened thatparliamentary interestwhich is often the bane of fair pursuitsthwarted theirendeavours. Notwithstanding this disadvantageit is well known that not onlyhas Blackfriars-bridge never sunk either in its foundation or in its archeswhich were so much the subject of contestbut any injuries which it hassuffered from the effects of severe frosts have been alreadyin some measurerepaired with sounder stoneand every necessary renewal can be completed at amoderate expence. -

If it should be remarked that this was a controversy which lay quite out ofJohnson's waylet it be rememberedthat after allhis employing his powers ofreasoning and eloquence upon a subject which he had studied on the momentisnot more strange than what we often observe in lawyerswhoas Quicquid agunthomines in the matter of law-suitsare sometimes obliged to pick up a temporaryknowledge of an art or scienceof which they understood nothing till theirbrief was deliveredand appear to be much masters of it. In like mannermembers of the legislature frequently introduce and expatiate upon subjects ofwhich they have informed themselves for the occasion.

1760: AETAT. 51 -

In 1760 he wrote "an Address of the Painters to George III. on hisAccession to the Throne of these Kingdoms" (+) which no monarch everascended with more sincere congratulations from his people. Two generations offoreign princes had prepared their minds to rejoice in having again a Kingwhogloried in being "born a Briton." He also wrote for Mr. Baretti theDedication (+) of his Italian and English Dictionaryto the Marquis of Abreuthen Envoy-Extraordinary from Spain at the Court of Great-Britain.

Johnson was now either very idleor very busy with his Shakspeare; for I canfind no other publick composition by him except an Introduction to theproceedings of the Committee for cloathing the French Prisoners; (@) one of themany proofs that he was ever awake to the calls of humanity; and an accountwhich he gave in the Gentleman's Magazine of Mr. Tytler's acute and ablevindication of MaryQueen of Scots. (@) The generosity of Johnson's feelingsshines forth in the following sentence: "It has now been fashionablefornear half a centuryto defame and vilify the house of Stuartand to exalt andmagnify the reign of Elizabeth. The Stuarts have found few apologistsfor thedead cannot pay for praise; and who willwithout rewardoppose the tide ofpopularity? Yet there remains still among usnot wholly extinguisheda zealfor trutha desire of establishing right in opposition to fashion."

In this year I have not discovered a single private letter written by him toany of his friends. It should seemhoweverthat he had at this period afloating intention of writing a history of the recent and wonderful successes ofthe British arms in all quarters of the globe; for among his resolutions ormemorandumsSeptember 18there is"Send for books for Hist. ofWar." * How much is it to be regretted that this intention was notfulfilled. His majestick expression would have carried down to the latestposterity the glorious achievements of his countrywith the same fervent glowwhich they produced on the mind at the time. He would have been under notemptation to deviate in any degree from truthwhich he held very sacredor totake a licencewhich a learned divine told me he once seemedin aconversationjocularly to allow to historians. "There are (said he)inexcusable liesand consecrated lies. For instancewe are told that on thearrival of the news of the unfortunate battle of Fontenoyevery heart beatandevery eye was in tears. Now we know that no man eat his dinner the worsebutthere should have been all this concern; and to say there was(smiling) may bereckoned a consecrated lie." -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 42. -

This year Mr. Murphyhaving thought himself ill-treated by the Reverend Dr.Franklinwho was one of the writers of "The Critical Review"published an indignant vindication in "A Poetical Epistle to SamuelJohnsonA.M." in which he compliments Johnson in a just and elegantmanner: -

"Transcendant Genius! whose prolifick vein

Ne'er knew the frigid poet's toil and pain;

To whom APOLLO opens all his store

And every Muse presents her sacred lore;

Saypow'rful JOHNSONwhence thy verse is fraught

With so much gracesuch energy of thought;

Whether thy JUVENAL instructs the age

In chaster numbersand new points his rage;

Or fair IRENE seesalas! too late

Her innocence exchang'd for guilty state;

Whate'er you writein every golden line

Sublimity and elegance combine;

Thy nervous phrase impresses every soul

While harmony gives rapture to the whole." -

Again towards the conclusion: -

"Thou thenmy friendwho see'st the dang'rous strife

In which some demon bids me plunge my life

To the Aonian fount direct my feet

Saywhere the Nine thy lonely musings meet?

Where warbles to thy ear the sacred throng

Thy moral sensethy dignity of song?

Tellfor you canby what unerring art

You wake to finer feelings every heart;

In each bright page some truth important give

And bid to future times thy RAMBLER live." -

I take this opportunity to relate the manner in which an acquaintance firstcommenced between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Murphy. During the publication of"The Gray's-Inn Journal" a periodical paper which was successfullycarried on by Mr. Murphy alonewhen a very young manhe happened to be in thecountry with Mr. Foote; and having mentioned that he was obliged to go to Londonin order to get ready for the press one of the numbers of that JournalFootesaid to him"You need not go on that account. Here is a French magazinein which you will find a very pretty oriental tale; translate thatand send itto your printer." Mr. Murphy having read the talewas highly pleased withitand followed Foote's advice. When he returned to Townthe tale was pointedout to him in "The Rambler" from whence it had been translated intothe French magazine. Mr. Murphy then waited upon Johnsonto explain thiscurious incident. His talentsliteratureand gentlemanlike mannerswere soonperceived by Johnsonand a friendship was formed which was never broken. * -

* [When Mr. Murphy first became acquainted with Dr. Johnsonhe was aboutthirty-one years old. He died at KnightsbridgeJune 181805it is believed inhis eighty-second year.

In an account of this gentlemanpublished recently after his deathhe isreported to have saidthat "he was but twenty-onewhen he had theimpudence to write a periodical paperduring the time that Johnson waspublishing the Rambler."- In a subsequent pagein which Mr. Boswell givesan account of his first introduction to Johnsonwill be found a strikinginstance of the incorrectness of Mr. Murphy's memory; and the assertionabove-mentionedif indeed he made itwhich is by no means improbablefurnishes an additional proof of his inaccuracy; for both the facts asserted areunfounded. He appears to have been eight years older than twenty-onewhen hebegan the Gray's-Inn Journal; and that paperinstead of running a race withJohnson's productiondid not appear till after the closing of the Ramblerwhich ended March 141752. The first number of the Gray's-Inn Journal made itsappearance about seven months afterwardsin a news-paper of the timecalledthe CraftsmanOctober 211752; and in that form the first forty-nine numberswere given to the publick. On SaturdaySept. 291753it assumed a new formand was published as a distinct periodical paper; and in that shape it continuedto be published till the 21st of Sept. 1754when it finally closed; forming inthe whole one hundred and one Essaysin the folio copy. The extraordinary papermentioned in the textis No. 38 of the second seriespublished on June 151754; which is a re-translation from the French version of Johnson's RamblerNo. 190. It was omitted in the re-publication of these Essays in two volumes12mo. in which one hundred and four are foundand in which the papers are notalways dated on the days when they really appeared; so that the motto prefixedto this Anglo-Gallick Eastern taleobscuris vera involvensmight very properlyhave been prefixed to this workwhen re-published. Mr. Murphy did notIbelievewait on Johnson recently after the publication of this adumbration ofone of his Ramblersas seems to be stated in the text; forin his concludingEssaySept. 211754we find the following paragraph:

"Besideswhy may not a person rather choose an air of bold negligencethan the obscure diligence of pedants and writers of affected phraseology. Formy partI have always thought an easy style more eligible than a pompousdictionlifted up by metaphoramplified by epithetand dignified by toofrequent insertions of the Latin idiom." It is probable that the Ramblerwas here intended to be ensuredand that the authourwhen he wrote itwas notacquainted with Johnsonwhomfrom his first introductionhe endeavoured toconciliate. Their acquaintancethereforeit may be presumeddid not commencetill towards the end of this year 1754. Murphy however had highly praisedJohnson in the preceding yearNo. 14 of the second seriesDec. 221753.- M.]-



"YOU that travel about the worldhave more materials for lettersthanI who stay at home: and shouldthereforewrite with frequency equal to youropportunities. I should be glad to have all England surveyed by youif youwould impart your observations in narratives as agreeable as your last.Knowledge is always to be wished to those who can communicate it well. While youhave been riding and runningand seeing the tombs of the learnedand the campsof the valiantI have only staid at homeand intended to do great thingswhich I have not done. Beau * went away to Cheshireand has not yet found hisway back. Chambers passed the vacation at Oxford.

"I am very sincerely solicitous for the preservation or curing of Mr.Langton's sightand am glad that the chirurgeon at Coventry gives him so muchhope. Mr. Sharpe is of opinion that the tedious maturation of the cataract is avulgar errourand that it may be removed as soon as it is formed. This notiondeserves to be consideredI doubt whether it be universally true; but if it betrue in some casesand those cases can be distinguishedit may save a long anduncomfortable delay.

"Of dear Mrs. Langton you give me no account; which is the lessfriendlyas you know how highly I think of herand how much I interest myselfin her health. I suppose you told her of my opinionand likewise suppose it wasnot followed; howeverI still believe it to be right.

"Let me hear from you againwherever you areor whatever you aredoing; whether you wander or sit stillplant trees or make Rustics*(2) playwith your sisters or muse alone; and in return I will tell you the success ofSheridanwho at this instant is playing Catoand has already played Richardtwice. He had more company the second than the first nightand will make Ibelieve a good figure in the wholethough his faults seem to be very many; someof natural deficienceand some of laborious affectation. He has I thinknopower of assuming either that dignity or elegance which some menwho havelittle of either in common lifecan exhibit on the stage. His voice whenstrained is unpleasingand when low is not always heard. He seems to think toomuch on the audienceand turns his face too often to the galleries.

"HoweverI wish him well; and among other reasonsbecause I like hiswife. *(3)

"Make haste to write todear Sir

"Your most affectionate servant


"Oct. 181760." -

* Topham BeauclerkEsq.

*(2) Essays with that titlewritten about this time by Mr. Langtonbut notpublished.

*(3) Mrs. Sheridan was authour of "Memoirs of Miss SydneyBiddulph" a novel of great meritand of some other pieces.- See hercharacterpostAetat. 54.

1761: AETAT. 52 -

In 1761 Johnson appears to have done little. He was stillno doubtproceeding in his edition of Shakspeare; but what advances he made in it cannotbe ascertained. He certainly was at this time not active; forin his scrupulousexamination of himself on Easter evehe lamentsin his too rigorous mode ofcensuring his own conductthat his lifesince the communion of the precedingEasterhad been "dissipated and useless." * Hehowevercontributedthis year the Preface (@) to Rolt's "Dictionary of Trade andCommerce" in which he displays such a clear and comprehensive knowledge ofthe subjectas might lead the reader to think that its authour had devoted allhis life to it. I asked himwhether he knew much of Roltand of his work."Sir(said he) I never saw the manand never read the book. Thebooksellers wanted a Preface to a Dictionary of Trade and Commerce. I knew verywell what such a Dictionary should beand I wrote a Preface accordingly."Roltwho wrote a great deal for the booksellerswasas Johnson told measingular character. Though not in the least acquainted with himhe used to say"I am just come from Sam. Johnson." This was a sufficient specimen ofhis vanity and impudence. But he gave a more eminent proof of it in our sisterkingdomas Dr. Johnson informed me. When Akenside's "Pleasures of theImagination" first came outhe did not put his name to the poem. Rolt wentover to Dublinpublished an edition of itand put his own name to it. Upon thefame of this he lived for several monthsbeing entertained at the best tablesas "the ingenious Mr. Rolt." *(2) His conversation indeeddid notdiscover much of the fire of a poet; but it was recollectedthat both Addisonand Thomson were equally dull till excited by wine. Akenside having beeninformed of this impositionvindicated his right by publishing the poem withits real authour's name. Several instances of such literary fraud have beendetected. The Reverend Dr. Campbellof St. Andrew'swrote "An Enquiryinto the original of Moral Virtue" the manuscript of which he sent to Mr.Innesa clergyman in Englandwho was his countryman and acquaintance. Innespublished it with his own name to it; and before the imposition was discoveredobtained considerable promotionas a reward of his merit. *(3) The celebratedDr. Hugh Blairand his cousin Mr. George Bannatinewhen students in divinitywrote a poementitled "The Resurrection" copies of which were handedabout in manuscript. They wereat lengthvery much surprized to see a pompousedition of it in foliodedicated to the Princess Dowager of Walesby a Dr.Douglasas his own. Some years ago a little novelentitled "The Man ofFeeling" was assumed by Mr. Ecclesa young Irish clergymanwho wasafterwards drowned near Bath. He had been at the pains to transcribe the wholebookwith blottingsinterlineationsand correctionsthat it might be shewnto several people as an original. It wasin truththe production of Mr. HenryMackenziean attorney in the Exchequer at Edinburghwho is the authour ofseveral other ingenious pieces; but the belief with regard to Mr. Eccles becameso generalthat it was thought necessary for Messieurs Strahan and Cadell topublish an advertisement in the news-paperscontradicting the reportandmentioning that they purchased the copy-right of Mr. Mackenzie. I can conceivethis kind of fraud to be very easily practised with successful effrontery. TheFiliation of a literary performance is difficult of proof; seldom is there anywitness present at its birth. A maneither in confidence or by improper meansobtains possession of a copy of it in manuscriptand boldly publishes it as hisown. The true authourin many casesmay not be able to make his title clear.Johnsonindeedfrom the peculiar features of his literary offspringmight biddefiance to any attempt to appropriate them to others: -

"But Shakspear's magick could not copied be

Within that circle none durst walk but he." -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 44.

*(2) I have had enquiry made in Ireland as to this storybut do not find itrecollected there. I give it on the authority of Dr. Johnsonto which may beaddedthat of the "Biographical Dictionary" and "BiographiaDramatica;" in both of which it has stood many years. Mr. Malone observesthat the truth probably isnot that an edition was published with Rolt's namein the title-pagebutthat the poem being then anonymousRolt acquiesced inits being attributed to him in conversation.

*(3) I have both the books. Innes was the clergyman who brought Psalmanazarto Englandand was an accomplice in his extraordinary fiction. -

He this year lent his friendly assistance to correct and improve a pamphletwritten by Mr. Gwynthe architectentitled "Thoughts on the Coronation ofGeorge III." (@)

Johnson had now for some years admitted Mr. Baretti to his intimacy; nor didtheir friendship cease upon their being separated by Baretti's revisiting hisnative countryas appears from Johnson's letters to him. -


"You reproach me very often with parsimony of writing; but you maydiscover by the extent of my paperthat I design to recompence rarity bylength. A short letter to a distant friend isin my opinionan insult likethat of a slight bow or cursory salutation;- a proof of unwillingness to domucheven where there is a necessity of doing something. Yet it must berememberedthat he who continues the same course of life in the same placewill have little to tell. One week and one year are very like one another. Thesilent changes made by time are not always perceived; and if they are notperceivedcannot be recounted. I have risen and lain downtalked and musedwhile you have roved over a considerable part of Europe; yet I have not enviedmy Baretti any of his pleasuresthoughperhapsI have envied others hiscompany: and I am glad to have other nations made acquainted with the characterof the Englishby a traveller who has so nicely inspected our mannersand sosuccessfully studied our literature. I received your kind letter from Falmouthin which you gave me notice of your departure for Lisbon; and another fromLisbonin which you told methat you were to leave Portugal in a few days. Toeither of these how could any answer be returned? I have had a third from Turincomplaining that I had not answered the former. Your English style stillcontinues in its purity and vigour. With vigour your genius will supply it: butits purity must be continued by close attention. To usetwo languagesfamiliarlyand without contaminating one by the otheris very difficult; andto use more than twois hardly to be hoped. The praises which some havereceived for their multiplicity of languagesmay be sufficient to exciteindustrybut can hardly generate confidence.

"I know not whether I can heartily rejoice at the kind reception whichyou have foundor at the popularity to which you are exalted. I am willing thatyour merit should be distinguished; but cannot wish that your affections may begained. I would have you happy wherever you are: yet I would have you wish toreturn to England. If ever you visit us againyou will find the kindness ofyour friends undiminished. To tell you how many enquiries are made after youwould be tediousor if not tediouswould be vain; because you may be told in avery few wordsthat all who knew you wish you well; and that all that youembraced at your departurewill caress you at your return: therefore do not letItalian academicians nor Italian ladies drive us from your thoughts. You mayfind among us what you will leave behindsoft smiles and easy sonnets. Yet Ishall not wonder if all our invitations should be rejected: for there is apleasure in being considerable at homewhich is not easily resisted.

"By conducting Mr. Southwell to Veniceyou fulfilledI knowtheoriginal contract: yet I would wish you not wholly to lose him from your noticebut to recommend him to such acquaintance as may best secure him from sufferingby his own folliesand to take such general care both of his safety and hisinterest as may come within your power. His relations will thank you for anysuch gratuitous attention: at least they will not blame you for any evil thatmay happenwhether they thank you or not for any good.

"You know that we have a new King and a new Parliament. Of the newParliament Fitzherbert is a member. We were so weary of our old Kingthat weare much pleased with his successor; of whom we are so much inclined to hopegreat thingsthat most of us begin already to believe them. The young man ishitherto blameless; but it would be

unreasonable to expect much from the immaturity of juvenile yearsand theignorance of princely education. He has been long in the hands of the Scotsandhas already favoured them more than the English will contentedly endure. Butperhapshe scarcely knows whom he has distinguishedor whom he has disgusted.

"The Artists have instituted a yearly Exhibition of pictures andstatuesin imitationas I am toldof foreign academies. This year was thesecond exhibition. They please themselves much with the multitude of spectatorsand imagine that the English School will rise in reputation. Reynolds is withouta rivaland continues to add thousands to thousandswhich he deservesamongother excellenciesby retaining his kindness for Baretti. This Exhibition hasfilled the heads of the Artists and lovers of art. Surely lifeif it be notlongis tedioussince we are forced to call in the assistance of so manytrifles to rid us of our timeof that time which never can return.

"I know my Baretti will not be satisfied with a letter in which I givehim no account of myself: yet what account shall I give him? I have notsincethe day of our separationsuffered or done any thing considerable. The onlychange in my way of life isthat I have frequented the theatre more than informer seasons. But I have gone thither only to escape from myself. We have hadmany new farcesand the comedy called 'The Jealous Wife' whichthough notwritten with much geniuswas yet so well adapted to the stageand so wellexhibited by the actorsthat it was crowded for near twenty nights. I amdigressing from myself to the play-house; but a barren plan must be filled withepisodes. Of myself I have nothing to saybut that I have hitherto livedwithout the concurrence of my own judgement; yet I continue to flatter myselfthatwhen you returnyou will find me mended. I do not wonder thatwhere themonastick life is permittedevery order finds votariesand every monasteryinhabitants. Men will submit to any ruleby which they may be exempted from thetyranny of caprice and of chance. They are glad to supply by external authoritytheir own want of constancy and resolutionand court the government of otherswhen long experience has convinced them of their own inability to governthemselves. If I were to visit Italymy curiosity would be more attracted byconvents than by palaces; though I am afraid that I should find expectation inboth places equally disappointedand life in both places supported withimpatience and quitted with reluctance. That it must be so soon quittedis apowerful remedy against impatience; but what shall free us from reluctance?Those who have endeavoured to teach us to die wellhave taught few to diewillingly: yet I cannot but hope that a good life might end at last in acontented death.

"You see to what a train of thought I am drawn by the mention of myself.Let me now turn my attention upon you. I hope you take care to keep an exactjournaland to register all occurrences and observations; for your friends hereexpect such a book of travels as has not been often seen. You have given us goodspecimens in your letters from Lisbon. I wish you had stayed longer in Spainfor no country is less known to the rest of Europe; but the quickness of yourdiscernment must make amends for the celerity of your emotions. He that knowswhich way to direct his viewsees much in a little time.

"Write to me very oftenand I will not neglect to write to you; and Imayperhapsin timeget something to write; at leastyou will know by myletterswhatever else they may have or wantthat I continue to be

"Your most affectionate friend


"[London] June 101761." -

* The originals of Dr. Johnson's three letters to Mr. Barettiwhich areamong the very best he ever wrotewere communicated to the proprietors of thatinstructive and elegant monthly miscellany"The European Magazine"in which they first appeared.

1762: AETAT. 53 -

In 1762 he wrote for the Reverend Dr. KennedyRector of Bradley inDerbyshirein a strain of very courtly elegancea Dedication to the King (@)of that gentleman's workentitled "A complete System of AstronomicalChronologyunfolding the Scriptures." He had certainly looked at this workbefore it was printed; for the concluding paragraph is undoubtedly of hiscompositionof which let my readers judge:

"Thus have I endeavoured to free Religion and History from the darknessof a disputed and uncertain chronology; from difficulties which have hithertoappeared insuperableand darkness which no luminary of learning has hithertobeen able to dissipate. I have established the truth of the Mosaical accountbyevidence which no transcription can corruptno negligence can loseand nointerest can pervert. I have shewn that the universe bears witness to theinspiration of its historianby the revolution of its orbs and the successionof its seasons; that the stars in their courses fight against incredulitythatthe works of GOD give hourly confirmation to the lawthe prophetsand thegospelof which one day telleth anotherand one night certifieth another; andthat the validity of the sacred writings never can be deniedwhile the moonshall increase and waneand the sun shall know his going down."

He this year wrote also the Dedication (+) to the Earl of Middlesex of Mrs.Lennox's "Female Quixote" and the Preface to the "Catalogue ofthe Artists' Exhibition." (+)

The following letterwhichon account of its intrinsick meritit wouldhave been unjust both to Johnson and the publick to have withheldwas obtainedfor me by the solicitation of my friend Mr. Seward: -



"I MAKE haste to answer your kind letterin hope of hearing again fromyou before you leave us. I cannot but regret that a man of your qualificationsshould find it necessary to seek an establishment in Guadaloupewhich if apeace should restore to the FrenchI shall think it some alleviation of thelossthat it must restore likewise Dr. Staunton to the English.

"It is a melancholy considerationthat so much of our time isnecessarily to be spent upon the care of livingand that we can seldom obtainease in one respect but by resigning it in another: yet I suppose we are by thisdispensation not less happy in the wholethan if the spontaneous bounty ofNature poured all that we want into our hands. A fewif they were left thus tothemselveswouldperhapsspend their time in laudable pursuits; but thegreater part would prey upon the quiet of each otherorin the want of otherobjectswould prey upon themselves.

"Thishoweveris our conditionwhich we must improve and solace as wecan: and though we cannot choose always our place of residencewe may in everyplace find rational amusementsand possess in every place the comforts of pietyand a pure conscience.

"In America there is little to be observed except natural curiosities.The new world must have many vegetables and animals

with which philosophers are but little acquainted. I hope you will furnishyourself with some books of natural historyand some glasses and otherinstruments of observation. Trust as little as you can to report; examine allyou can by your own senses. I do not doubt but you will be able to add much toknowledgeandperhapsto medicine. Wild nations trust to simples; andperhapsthe Peruvian bark is not the only specifick which those extensiveregions may afford us.

"Wherever you areand whatever be your fortunebe certaindear Sirthat you carry with you my kind wishes; and that whether you return hitherorstay in the other hemisphereto hear that you are happy will give pleasure toSir

"Your most affectionate humble servant


"June 11762." -

A lady having at this time solicited him to obtain the Archbishop ofCanterbury's patronage to have her son sent to the Universityone of thosesolicitations which are too frequentwhere peopleanxious for a particularobjectdo not consider proprietyor the opportunity which the persons whomthey solicit have to assist themhe wrote to her the following answer; with acopy of which I am favoured by the Reverend Dr. FarmerMaster of EmanuelCollegeCambridge. -


"I HOPE you will believe that my delay in answering your letter couldproceed only from my unwillingness to destroy any hope that you had formed. Hopeis itself a species of happinessandperhapsthe chief happiness which thisworld affords: butlike all other pleasures immoderately enjoyedthe excessesof hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulgedmust endin disappointment. If it be askedwhat is the improper expectation which it isdangerous to indulgeexperience will quickly answerthat it is suchexpectation as is dictated not by reasonbut by desire; expectation raisednotby the common occurrences of lifebut by the wants of the expectant; anexpectation that requires the common course of things to be changedand thegeneral rules of action to be broken.

"When you made your request to meyou should have consideredMadamwhat you were asking. You ask me to solicit a great manto whom I never spokefor a young person whom I have never seenupon a supposition which I had nomeans of knowing to be true. There is no reason whyamongst all the greatIshould chuse to supplicate the Archbishopnor whyamong all the possibleobjects of his bountythe Archbishop should chuse your son. I knowMadamhowunwillingly conviction is admittedwhen interest opposes it; but surelyMadamyou must allowthat there is no reason why that should be done by mewhichevery other man may do with equal reasonand whichindeedno man can doproperlywithout some very particular relation both to the Archbishop and toyou. If I could help you in this exigence by any proper meansit would give mepleasure: but this proposal is so very remote from usual methodsthat I cannotcomply with itbut at the risk of such answer and suspicions as I believe youdo not wish me to undergo.

"I have seen your son this morning; he seems a pretty youthand willperhapsfind some better friend than I can procure him; but though he should atlast miss the Universityhe may still be wiseusefuland happy.

"I amMadam

"Your most humble servant


"June 81762." -


"LondonJuly 201762.


"HOWEVER justly you may accuse me for want of punctuality incorrespondenceI am not so far lost in negligence as to omit the opportunity ofwriting to youwhich Mr. Beauclerk's passage through Milan affords me.

"I suppose you received the Idlersand I intend that you shall soonreceive Shakspearethat you may explain his works to the ladies of Italyandtell them the story of the editoramong the other strange narratives with whichyour long residence in this unknown region has supplied you.

"As you have now been long awayI suppose your curiosity may pant forsome news of your old friends. Miss Williams and I live much as we did. MissCotterel still continues to cling to Mrs. Porterand Charlotte is now big ofthe fourth child. Mr. Reynolds gets six thousands a year. Levet is latelymarriednot without much suspicion that he has been wretchedly cheated in hismatch. Mr. Chambers is gone this dayfor the first timethe circuit with theJudges. Mr. Richardson * is dead of an apoplexyand his second daughter hasmarried a merchant.

"My vanityor my kindnessmakes me flatter myselfthat you wouldrather hear of me than of those whom I have mentioned; but of myself I have verylittle which I care to tell. Last winter I went down to my native townwhere Ifound the streets much narrower and shorter than I thought I had left theminhabited by a new race of peopleto whom I was very little known. Myplay-fellows were grown oldand forced me to suspect that I was no longeryoung. My only remaining friend has changed his principlesand was become thetool of the predominant faction. My daughter-in-lawfrom whom I expected mostand whom I met with sincere benevolencehas lost the beauty and gaiety ofyouthwithout having gained much of the wisdom of age. I wandered about forfive daysand took the first convenient opportunity of returning to a placewhereif there is not much happinessthere isat leastsuch a diversity ofgood and evilthat slight vexations do not fix upon the heart.

"I think in a few weeks to try another excursion; though to what end?Let me knowmy Barettiwhat has been the result of your return to your owncountry: whether time has made any alteration for the betterand whetherwhenthe first raptures of salutation were overyou did not find your thoughtsconfessed their disappointment.

"Moral sentences appear ostentatious and tumidwhen they have nogreater occasions than the journey of a wit to his own town: yet such pleasuresand such pains make up the general mass of life; and as nothing is little to himthat feels it with great sensibilitya mind able to see common incidents intheir real stateis disposed by very common incidents to very seriouscontemplations. Let us trust that a time will comewhen the present momentshall be no longer irksome; when we shall not borrow all our happiness fromhopewhich at last is to end in disappointment.

"I beg that you will shew Mr. Beauclerk all the civilities which youhave in your power; for he has always been kind to me.

"I have lately seen Mr. StraticoProfessor of Paduawho has told me ofyour quarrel with an Abbot of the Celestine order; but had not the particularsvery ready in his memory. When you write to Mr. Marsililet him know that Iremember him with kindness.

"May youmy Barettibe very happy at Milanor some other place nearertoSir

"Your most affectionate humble servant


* [Samuel Richardsonthe authour of ClarrissaSir Charles Grandison&c. He died July 41761aged 72.- M.] -

The accession of George the Third to the throne of these kingdomsopened anew and brighter prospect to men of literary meritwho had been honoured withno mark of royal favour in the preceding reign. His present Majesty's educationin this countryas well as his taste and beneficenceprompted him to be thepatron of science and the arts; and early this year Johnson having beenrepresented to him as a very learned and good manwithout any certainprovisionhis Majesty was pleased to grant him a pension of three hundredpounds a year. The Earl of Butewho was then Prime Ministerhad the honour toannounce this instance of his Sovereign's bountyconcerning whichmany andvarious storiesall equally erroneoushave been propagated; maliciouslyrepresenting it as a political bribe to Johnsonto desert his avowedprinciplesand become the tool of a government which he held to be founded inusurpation. I have taken care to have it in my power to refute them from themost authentick information. Lord Bute told methat Mr. Wedderburnenow LordLoughboroughwas the person who first mentioned this subject to him. LordLoughborough told methat the pension was granted to Johnson solely as thereward of his literary meritwithout any stipulation whateveror even tacitunderstanding that he should write for administration. His Lordship addedthathe was confident the political tracts which Johnson afterwards did writeasthey were entirely consonant with his own opinionswould have been written byhimthough no pension had been granted to him.

Mr. Thomas Sheridan and Mr. Murphywho then lived a good deal both with himand Mr. Wedderburnetold methat they previously talked with Johnson upon thismatterand that it was perfectly understood by all parties that the pension wasmerely honorary. Sir Joshua Reynolds told methat Johnson called on him afterhis Majesty's intention had been notified to himand said he wished to consulthis friends as to the propriety of his accepting this mark of the royal favourafter the definitions which he had given in his Dictionary of pension andpensioners. He said he should not have Sir Joshua's answer till next daywhenhe would call againand desired he might think of it. Sir Joshua answered thathe was clear to give his opinion thenthat there could be no objection to hisreceiving from the King a reward for literary merit; and that certainly thedefinitions in his Dictionary were not applicable to him. Johnsonit shouldseemwas satisfiedfor he did not call again till he had accepted the pensionand had waited on Lord Bute to thank him. He then told Sir Joshua that Lord Butesaid to him expressly"It is not given you for any thing you are to dobut for what you have done." * His Lordshiphe saidbehaved in thehandsomest manner. He repeated the words twicethat he might be sure Johnsonheard themand thus set his mind perfectly at ease. This noblemanwho has beenso virulently abusedacted with great honour in this instanceand displayed amind truly liberal. A minister of a more narrow and selfish disposition wouldhave availed himself of such an opportunity to fix an implied obligation on aman of Johnson's powerful talents to give him his support. -

* [This was said by Lord Buteas Dr. Burney was informed by Johnson himselfin answer to a question which he putpreviously to his acceptance of theintended bounty: "Praymy lord. what am I expected to do for thispension?"- M.] -

Mr. Murphy and the late Mr. Sheridan severally contended for the distinctionof having been the first who mentioned to Mr. Wedderburne that Johnson ought tohave a pension. When I spoke of this to Lord Loughboroughwishing to know if herecollected the prime mover in the businesshe said "All his friendsassisted:" and when I told him that Mr. Sheridan strenuously asserted hisclaim to ithis Lordship said"He rang the bell." And it is but justto addthat Mr. Sheridan told methat when he communicated to Dr. Johnson thata pension was to be granted himhe replied in a fervour of gratitude"TheEnglish language does not afford me terms adequate to my feelings on thisoccasion. I must have recourse to the French. I am penetre with his Majesty'sgoodness." When I repeated this to Dr. Johnsonhe did not contradict it.

His definition of pension and pensionerpartly founded on the satiricalverses of Popewhich he quotesmay be generally true; and yet every body mustallowthat there may beand have beeninstances of pensions given andreceived upon liberal and honourable terms. Thusthenit is clearthat therewas nothing inconsistent or humiliating in Johnson's accepting of a pension sounconditionally and so honourably offered to him.

But I shall not detain my readers longer by any words of my ownon a subjecton which I am happily enabledby the favour of the Earl of Buteto presentthem with what Johnson himself wrote; his lordship having been pleased tocommunicate to me a copy of the following letter to his late fatherwhich doesgreat honour both to the writerand to the noble person to whom it isaddressed: -



"WHEN the bills were yesterday delivered to me by Mr. WedderburneI wasinformed by him of the future favours which his Majesty hasby your Lordship'srecommendationbeen induced to intend for me.

"Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner in which it isbestowed; your Lordship's kindness includes every circumstance that can gratifydelicacyor enforce obligation. You have conferred your favours on a man whohas neither alliance nor interestwho has not merited them by servicesnorcourted them by officiousness; you have spared him the shame of solicitationand the anxiety of suspense.

"What has been thus elegantly givenwillI hopenot be reproachfullyenjoyed; I shall endeavour to give your Lordship the only recompense whichgenerosity desires- the gratification of finding that your benefits are notimproperly bestowed. I ammy Lord

"Your Lordship's most obliged

"Most obedientand most humble servant


"July 201762." -

This year his friendSir Joshua Reynoldspaid a visit of some weeks to hisnative countryDevonshirein which he was accompanied by Johnsonwho was muchpleased with this jauntand declared he had derived from it a great accessionof new ideas. He was entertained at the seats of several noblemen and gentlemenin the west of England; * but the greatest part of this time was passed atPlymouthwhere the magnificence of the navythe ship-building and all itscircumstancesafforded him a grand subject of contemplation. The Commissionerof the Dock-yard paid him the compliment of ordering the yacht to convey him andhis friend to the Eddystoneto which they accordingly sailed. But the weatherwas so tempestuous that they could not land.

* At one of these seats Dr. AmyatPhysician in Londontold me he happenedto meet him. In order to amuse him till dinner should be readyhe was taken outto walk in the garden. The master of the housethinking it proper to introducesomething scientifick into the conversationaddressed him thus: "Are you abotanistDr. Johnson?" "NoSir(answered Johnson) I am not abotanist; and(alludingno doubtto his near sightedness) should I wish tobecome a botanistI must first turn myself into a reptile." -

Reynolds and he were at this time the guests of Dr. Mudgethe celebratedsurgeonand now physician of that placenot more distinguished for quicknessof parts and variety of knowledgethan loved and esteemed for his amiablemanners; and here Johnson formed an acquaintance with Dr. Mudge's fatherthatvery eminent divineReverend Zachariah MudgePrebendary of Exeterwho wasidolised in the westboth for his excellence as a preacher and the uniformperfect propriety of his private conduct. He preached a sermon purposely thatJohnson might hear him; and we shall see afterwards that Johnson honoured hismemory by drawing his character. While Johnson was at Plymouthhe saw a greatmany of its inhabitantsand was not sparing of his very entertainingconversation. It was here that he made that frank and truly original confessionthat "ignorancepure ignorance" was the cause of a wrong definitionin his Dictionary of the word pastern* to the no small surprise of the Ladywho put the question to him; who having the most profound reverence for hischaracterso as almost to suppose him endowed with infallibilityexpected tohear an explanation (of whatto be sureseemed strange to a common reader)drawn from some deep-learned source with which she was unacquainted. -

* See anteAetat. 46. -

Sir Joshua Reynoldsto whom I was obliged for my information concerning thisexcursionmentions a very characteristical anecdote of Johnson while atPlymouth. Having observedthat in consequence of the Dock-yard a new town hadarisen about two miles off as a rival to the old; and knowing from his sagacityand just observation of human naturethat it is certain if a man hates at allhe will hate his next neighbour; he concluded that this new and rising towncould not but excite the envy and jealousy of the oldin which conjecture hewas very soon confirmed; he therefore set himself resolutely on the side of theold townthe established townin which his lot was castconsidering it as akind of duty to stand by it. He accordingly entered warmly into its interestsand upon every occasion talked of the dockersas the inhabitants of the newtown were calledas upstarts and aliens. Plymouth is very plentifully suppliedwith water by a river brought into it from a great distancewhich is soabundant that it runs to waste in the town. The Dockor New-townbeing totallydestitute of waterpetitioned Plymouth that a small portion of the conduitmight be permitted to go to themand this was now under consideration. Johnsonaffecting to entertain the passions of the placewas violent in opposition; andhalf laughing at himself for his pretended zealwhere he had no concernexclaimed"Nono! I am against the dockers; I am a Plymouth man. Rogues!let them die of thirst. They shall not have a drop!" * -

* [A friend of mine once heard himduring his visitexclaim with the utmostvehemence"I HATE a Docker."- BLAKEWAY.] -

Lord Macartney obligingly favoured me with a copy of the following letterinhis own handwritingfrom the originalwhich was foundby the present Earl ofButeamong his father's papers. -



"THAT generosity by which I was recommended to the favour of hisMajestywill not be offended at a solicitation necessary to make that favourpermanent and effectual.

"The pension appointed to be paid me at Michaelmas I have not receivedand know not where or from whom I am to ask it. I begthereforethat yourLordship will be pleased to supply Mr. Wedderburne with such directions as maybe necessarywhichI believehis friendship will make him think it no troubleto convey to me.

"To interrupt your Lordshipat a time like thiswith such pettydifficultiesis improper and unseasonable; but your knowledge of the world haslong since taught youthat every man's affairshowever littleare importantto himself. Every man hopes that he shall escape neglect; andwith reasonmayevery manwhose vices do not preclude his claimexpect favour from thatbeneficence which has been extended to

"My Lord

"Your Lordship's

"Most obliged


"Most humble servant


"Temple Lane

"Nov. 31762." -


"LondonDec. 211762.


"YOU are not to supposewith all your conviction of my idlenessthat Ihave passed all this time without writing to my Baretti. I gave a letter to Mr.Beauclerkwho in my opinionand in his ownwas hastening to Naples for therecovery of his health; but he has stopped at Parisand I know not when he willproceed. Langton is with him.

"I will not trouble you with speculations about peace and war. The goodor ill success of battles and embassies extends itself to a very small part ofdomestick life: we all have good and evilwhich we feel more sensibly than ourpetty part of publick miscarriage or prosperity. I am sorry for yourdisappointmentwith which you seem more touched than I should expect a man ofyour resolution and experience to have beendid I not know that general truthsare seldom applied to particular occasions; and that the fallacy of ourself-love extends itself as wide as our interest or affections. Every manbelieves that mistresses are unfaithfuland patrons capricious; but he exceptshis own mistressand his own patron. We have all learned that greatness isnegligent and contemptuousand that in Courts life is often languished away inungratified expectation; but he that approaches greatnessor glitters in aCourtimagines that destiny has at last exempted him from the common lot.

"Do not let such evils overwhelm you as thousands have sufferedandthousands have surmounted; but turn your thoughts with vigour to some other planof lifeand keep always in your mindthatwith due submission to Providencea man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself. Your Patron's weakness orinsensibility will finally do you little hurtif he is not assisted by your ownpassions. Of your love I know not the proprietynor can estimate the power; butin loveas in every other passion of which hope is the essencewe ought alwaysto remember the uncertainty of events. There isindeednothing that so muchseduces reason from vigilanceas the thought of passing life with an amiablewoman; and if all would happen that a lover fanciesI know not what otherterrestrial happiness would deserve pursuit. But love and marriage are differentstates. Those who are to suffer the evils together* and to suffer often forthe sake of one anothersoon lose that tenderness of lookand that benevolenceof mindwhich arose from the participation of unmingled pleasure and successiveamusement. A womanwe are surewill not be always fair; we are not sure shewill always be virtuous: and man cannot retain through life that respect andassiduity by which he pleases for a day or for a month. I do nothoweverpretend to have discovered that life has any thing more to be desired than aprudent and virtuous marriage; therefore know not what counsel to give you.

"If you can quit your imagination of love and greatnessand leave yourhopes of preferment and bridal raptures to try once more the fortune ofliterature and industrythe way through France is now open. We flatterourselves that we shall cultivatewith great diligencethe arts of peace; andevery man will be welcome among us who can teach us any thing we do not know.For your partyou will find all your old friends willing to receive you.

"Reynolds still continues to increase in reputation and in riches. MissWilliamswho very much loves yougoes on in the old way. Miss Cotterel isstill with Mrs. Porter. Miss Charlotte is married to Dean Lewisand has threechildren. Mr. Levet has married a street-walker. But the gazette of my narrationmust now arrive to tell youthat Bathurst went physician to the armyand diedat the Havannah.

"I know not whether I have not sent you word that Huggins and Richardsonare both dead. When we see our enemies and friends gliding away before usletus not forget that we are subject to the general law of mortalityand shallsoon be where our doom will be fixed for ever.

"I pray GOD to bless youand amSir

"Your most affectionate humble servant


"Write soon." -

* [Johnson probably wrote "the evils of life together." The wordsin Italickshoweverare not found in Baretti's original edition of thisletterbut they may have been omitted inadvertently either in his transcript orat the press.- M.]

1763: AETAT. 54 -

In 1763 he furnished to "The Poetical Calendar" published byFawkes and Wotya character of Collins(@) which he afterwards ingrafted intohis entire life of that admirable poetin the collection of lives which hewrote for the body of English poetryformed and published by the booksellers ofLondon. His account of the melancholy depression with which Collins was severelyafflictedand which brought him to his graveisI thinkone of the mosttender and interesting passages in the whole series of his writings. He alsofavoured Mr. Hoole with the Dedication of his translations of Tasso to theQueen(@) which is so happily conceived and elegantly expressedthat I cannotbut point it out to the peculiar notice of my readers. * -


"To approach the high and illustrious has been in all ages the privilegeof Poets; and though translators cannot justly claim the same honouryet theynaturally follow their authours as attendants; and I hope that in return forhaving enabled TASSO to diffuse his fame through the British dominionsI may beintroduced by him to the presence of YOUR MAJESTY.

"TASSO has a peculiar claim to YOUR MAJESTY'S favour as follower andpanegyrist of the House of Estewhich has one common ancestor with the House ofHANOVER; and in reviewing his life it is not easy to forbear a wish that he hadlived in a happier timewhen he might among the descendants of that illustriousfamily have found a more liberal and potent patronage.

"I cannot but observeMADAMhow unequally reward is proportioned tomeritwhen I reflect that the happiness which was withheld from TASSO isreserved for me; and that the poem which once hardly procured to its authour thecountenance of the Princess of Ferrarahas attracted to its translator thefavourable notice of a BRITISH QUEEN.

"Had this been the fate of TASSOhe would have been able to havecelebrated the condescension of YOUR MAJESTY in nobler languagebut could nothave felt it with more ardent gratitude than



"Most faithful and devoted servant." -

This is to me a memorable year; for in it I had the happiness to obtain theacquaintance of that extraordinary man whose memoirs I am now writing; anacquaintance which I shall ever esteem as one of the most fortunatecircumstances in my life. Though then but two-and-twentyI had for severalyears read his works with delight and instructionand had the highest reverencefor their authourwhich had grown up in my fancy into a kind of mysteriousvenerationby figuring to myself a state of solemn elevated abstractioninwhich I supposed him to live in the immense metropolis of London. Mr. Gentlemana native of Irelandwho passed some years in Scotland as a playerand as aninstructor in the English languagea man whose talents and worth were depressedby misfortuneshad given me a representation of the figure and manner ofDICTIONARY JOHNSON! as he was then generally called; * and during my first visitto Londonwhich was for three months in 1760Mr. Derrick the poetwho wasGentleman's friend and countrymanflattered me with hopes that he wouldintroduce me to Johnsonan honour of which I was very ambitious. But he neverfound an opportunity; which made me doubt that he had promised to do what wasnot in his power; till Johnson some years afterwards told me"DerrickSirmight very well have introduced you. I had a kindness for Derrickand amsorry he is dead." -

* As great men of antiquity such as Scipio Africanus had an epithet added totheir namesin consequence of some celebrated actionso my illustrious friendwas often called DICTIONARY JOHNSONfrom that wonderful achievement of geniusand labourhis "Dictionary of the English Language;" the merit ofwhich I contemplate with more and more admiration. -

In the summer of 1761 Mr. Thomas Sheridan was at Edinburghand deliveredlectures upon the English Language and Publick Speaking to large and respectableaudiences. I was often in his companyand heard him frequently expatiate uponJohnson's extraordinary knowledgetalentsand virtuesrepeat his pointedsayingsdescribe his particularitiesand boast of his being his guestsometimes till two or three in the morning. At his house I hoped to have manyopportunities of seeing the sageas Mr. Sheridan obligingly assured me I shouldnot be disappointed.

When I returned to London in the end of 1762to my surprise and regret Ifound an irreconcileable difference had taken place between Johnson andSheridan. A pension of two hundred pounds a year had been given to Sheridan.Johnsonwhoas has been already mentionedthought slightingly of Sheridan'sartupon hearing that he was also pensionedexclaimed"What! have theygiven him a pension? Then it is time for me to give up mine." Whether thisproceeded from a momentary indignationas if it were an affront to his exaltedmerit that a player should be rewarded in the same manner with himor was thesudden effect of a fit of peevishnessit was unluckily saidandindeedcannot be justified. Mr. Sheridan's pension was granted to him not as a playerbut as a sufferer in the cause of governmentwhen he was manager of the TheatreRoyal in Irelandwhen parties ran high in 1753. And it must also be allowedthat he was a man of literatureand had considerably improved the arts ofreading and speaking with distinctness and propriety.

BesidesJohnson should have recollected that Mr. Sheridan taughtpronunciation to Mr. Alexander Wedderburnewhose sister was married to SirHarry Erskinean intimate friend of Lord Butewho was the favourite of theKing; and surely the most outrageous Whig will not maintainthat whatever oughtto be the principle in the disposal of officesa pension ought never to begranted from any bias of court connection. Mr. Macklinindeedshared with Mr.Sheridan the honour of instructing Mr. Wedderburne; and though it was too latein life for a Caledonian to acquire the genuine English cadenceyet sosuccessful were Mr. Wedderburne's instructorsand his own unabating endeavoursthat he got rid of the coarse part of his Scotch accentretaining only as muchof the "native woodnote wild" as to mark his country; whichif anyScotchman should affect to forgetI should heartily despise him.Notwithstanding the difficulties which are to be encountered by those who havenot had the advantage of an English educationhe by degrees formed a mode ofspeakingto which Englishmen do not deny the praise of elegance. Hence hisdistinguished oratorywhich he exerted in his own country as an advocate in theCourt of Sessionand a ruling elder of the Kirkhas had its fame and amplerewardin much higher spheres. When I look back on this noble person atEdinburghin situations so unworthy of his brilliant powersand behold LORDLOUGHBOROUGH at Londonthe change seems almost like one of the metamorphoses inOvid; and as his two preceptorsby refining his utterancegave currency to histalentswe may say in the words of that poet"Nam vos mutastis."

I have dwelt the longer upon this remarkable instance of successful parts andassiduitybecause it affords animating encouragement to other gentlemen ofNorth-Britain to try their fortunes in the southern part of the islandwherethey may hope to gratify their utmost ambition; and now that we are one peopleby the Unionit would surely be illiberal to maintainthat they have not anequal title with the natives of any other part of his Majesty's dominions.

Johnson complained that a man who disliked him repeated his sarcasm to Mr.Sheridanwithout telling him what followedwhich wasthat after a pause headded"HoweverI am glad that Mr. Sheridan has a pensionfor he is avery good man." Sheridan could never forgive this hasty contemptuousexpression. It rankled in his mind; and though I informed him of all thatJohnson saidand that he would be very glad to meet him amicablyhe positivelydeclined repeated offers which I madeand once went off abruptly from a housewhere he and I were engaged to dinebecause he was told that Dr. Johnson was tobe there. I have no sympathetick feeling with such persevering resentment. It ispainful when there is a breach between those who have lived together sociallyand cordially; and I wonder that there is notin all such casesa mutual wishthat it should be healed. I could perceive that Mr. Sheridan was by no meanssatisfied with Johnson's acknowledging him to be a good man. That could notsoothe his injured vanity. I could not but smileat the same time that I wasoffendedto observe Sheridan in the life of Swiftwhich he afterwardspublishedattemptingin the writhings of his resentmentto depreciateJohnsonby characterising him as "A writer of gigantick famein thesedays of little men;" that very Johnson whom he once so highly admired andvenerated.

This rupture with Sheridan deprived Johnson of one of his most agreeableresources for amusement in his lonely evenings; for Sheridan's well-informedanimatedand bustling mind never suffered conversation to stagnate; and Mrs.Sheridan was a most agreeable companion to an intellectual man. She wassensibleingeniousunassumingyet communicative. I recollectwithsatisfactionmany pleasing hours which I passed with her under the hospitableroof of her husbandwho was to me a very kind friend. Her novelentitled"Memoirs of Miss Sydney Biddulph" contains an excellent moralwhileit inculcates a future state of retribution; * and what it teaches is impressedupon the mind by a series of as deep distress as can affect humanityin theamiable and pious heroine who goes to her grave unrelievedbut resignedandfull of hope of "heaven's mercy." Johnson paid her this highcompliment upon it: "I know notMadamthat you have a rightupon moralprinciplesto make your readers suffer so much." -

* My position has been very well illustrated by Mr. Belsham of Bedfordinhis Essay on Dramatick Poetry. "The fashionable doctrine (says he) both ofmoralists and criticks in these times isthat virtue and happiness are constantconcomitants; and it is regarded as a kind of dramatick impiety to maintain thatvirtue should not be rewardednor vice punished in the last scene of the lastact of every tragedy. This conduct in our modern poets ishoweverin myopinionextremely injudicious; forit labours in vain to inculcate a doctrinein theorywhich every one knows to be false in factviz.that virtue in reallife is always productive of happiness; and vice of misery. Thus Congreveconcludes the Tragedy of 'The Mourning Bride' with the following foolishcouplet:

'For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds

Andthough a latea sure reward succeeds.'

"When a man eminently virtuousa Brutusa Catoor a Socratesfinallysinks under the pressure of accumulated misfortunewe are not only led toentertain a more indignant hatred of vice than if he rose from his distressbutwe are inevitably induced to cherish the sublime idea that a day of futureretribution will arrive when he shall receive not merely poeticalbut real andsubstantial justice." Essays PhilosophicalHistorical and LiteraryLondon1791Vol. II. 8vo. p. 317.

This is well reasoned and well expressed. I wishindeedthat the ingeniousauthour had not thought it necessary to introduce any instance of "a maneminently virtuous;" as he would then have avoided mentioning such aruffian as Brutus under that description. Mr. Belsham discovers in his"Essays" so much reading and thinkingand good compositionthat Iregret his not having been fortunate enough to be educated a member of ourexcellent national establishment. Had he not been nursed in nonconformityheprobably would not have been tainted with those heresies (as I sincerelyand onno slight investigationthink them) both in religion and politickswhichwhile I readI am surewith candourI cannot read without offence. -

Mr. Thomas Davies the actorwho then kept a bookseller's shop inRussel-streetCovent-garden* told me that Johnson was very much his friendand came frequently to his housewhere he more than once invited me to meethim: but by some unlucky accident or other he was prevented from coming to us. -

* No. 8- The very place whereI was fortunate enough to be introduced to theillustrious subject of this workdeserves to be particularly marked. I neverpass by it without feeling reverence and regret. -

Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good understanding and talentswith theadvantage of a liberal education. Though somewhat pompoushe was anentertaining companion; and his literary performances have no inconsiderableshare of merit. He was a friendly and very hospitable man. Both he and his wife(who has been celebrated for her beauty) though upon the stage for many yearsmaintained an uniform decency of character; and Johnson esteemed themand livedin as easy an intimacy with them as with any family which he used to visit. Mr.Davies recollected several of Johnson's remarkable sayingsand was one of thebest of the many imitators of his voice and mannerwhile relating them. Heincreased my impatience more and more to see the extraordinary man whose works Ihighly valuedand whose conversation was reported to be so peculiarlyexcellent.

At laston Monday the 16th of Maywhen I was sitting in Mr Davies'sback-parlourafter having drunk tea with him and Mrs. DaviesJohnsonunexpectedly came into the shop; * and Mr. Davies having perceived him throughthe glass-door in the room in which we were sittingadvancing towards us- heannounced his awful approach to mesomewhat in the manner of an actor in thepart of Horatiowhen he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father'sghost"Lookmy Lordit comes." I found that I had a very perfectidea of Johnson's figurefrom the portrait of him painted by Sir JoshuaReynolds soon after he had published his Dictionaryin the attitude of sittingin his easy chair in deep meditation; which was the first picture his friend didfor himwhich Sir Joshua very kindly presented to meand from which anengraving has been made for this work. Mr. Davies mentioned my nameandrespectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated; and recollecting hisprejudice against the Scotchof which I had heard muchI said to Davies"Don't tell where I come from."- "From Scotland" criedDaviesroguishly. "Mr. Johnson(said I) I do indeed come from Scotlandbut I cannot help it." I am willing to flatter myself that I meant this aslight pleasantry to soothe and conciliate himand not as an humiliatingabasement at the expence of my country. But however that might bethis speechwas somewhat unlucky; for with that quickness of wit for which he was soremarkablehe seized the expression "come from Scotland" which Iused in the sense of being of that country; andas if I had said that I hadcome away from itor left itretorted"ThatSirI findis what a verygreat many of your countrymen cannot help." This stroke stunned me a gooddeal; and when we had sat downI felt myself not a little embarrassedandapprehensive of what might come next. He then addressed himself to Davies:"What do you think of Garrick? He has refused me an order for the play forMiss Williamsbecause he knows the house will be fulland that an order wouldbe worth three shillings." Eager to take any opening to get intoconversation with himI ventured to say"OSirI cannot think Mr.Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you." "Sir(said hewith astern look) I have known David Garrick longer than you have done: and I know noright you have to talk to me on the subject." Perhaps I deserved thischeck; for it was rather presumptuous in mean entire strangerto express anydoubt of the justice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil.*(2) I now felt myself much mortifiedand began to thinkthat the hope which Ihad long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted. Andin truthhadnot my ardour been uncommonly strongand my resolution uncommonly perseveringso rough a reception might have deterred me for ever from making any furtherattempts. FortunatelyhoweverI remained upon the field not whollydiscomfited; and was soon rewarded by hearing some of his conversationof whichI preserved the following short minutewithout marking the questions andobservations by which it was produced. -

* Mr. Murphy in his "Essay on the Life and Genius of Dr. Johnson"has given an account of this meeting considerably different from mineI ampersuaded without any consciousness of errour. His memoryat the end of nearthirty yearshas undoubtedly deceived himand he supposes himself to have beenpresent at a scenewhich he has probably heard inaccurately described byothers. In my note taken on the very dayin which I am confident I marked everything material that passedno mention is made of this gentleman; and I am surethat I should not have omitted one so well known in the literary world. It mayeasily be imagined that this my first interview with Dr. Johnsonwith all itscircumstancesmade a strong impression on my mindand would be registered withpeculiar attention.

[It is remarkablethat in the editions of Murphy's Life of Johnsonpublished subsequently to the appearance of this notein 1791he nevercorrected the misstatement here mentioned.- M.]

*(2) That this was a momentary sally against Garrick there can be no doubt;for at Johnson's desire he hadsome years beforegiven a benefit-night at histheatre to this very personby which she had got two hundred pounds. Johnsonindeedupon all other occasionswhen I was in his companypraised the veryliberal charity of Garrick. I once mentioned to him"It is observedSirthat you attack Garrick yourselfbut will suffer nobody else to do it."JOHNSON(smiling) "WhySirthat is true." -

"People (he remarked) may be taken in oncewho imagine that an authouris greater in private life than other men. Uncommon parts require uncommonopportunities for their exertion.

"In barbarous societysuperiority of parts is of real consequence.Great strength or great wisdom is of much value to an individual. But in morepolished times there are people to do every thing for money; and then there area number of other superioritiessuch as those of birth and fortuneand rankthat dissipate men's attentionand leave no extraordinary share of respect forpersonal and intellectual superiority. This is wisely ordered by Providencetopreserve some equality among mankind."

"Sirthis book ('The Elements of Criticism' which he had taken up) isa pretty essayand deserves to be held in some estimationthough much of it ischimerical."

Speaking of one who with more than ordinary boldness attacked publickmeasures and the royal familyhe said"I think he is safe from the lawbut he is an abusive scoundrel; and instead of applying to my Lord Chief Justiceto punish himI would send half a dozen footmen and have him well ducked."

"The notion of liberty amuses the people of Englandand helps to keepoff the tedium vitae. When a butcher tells you that his heart bleeds for hiscountryhe hasin factno uneasy feeling."

"Sheridan will not succeed at Bath with his oratory. Ridicule has gonedown before himand I doubtDerrick is his enemy. * -

* Mr. Sheridan was then reading lectures upon Oratory at Bathwhere Derrickwas Master of the Ceremonies; oras the phrase isKING. -

"Derrick may do very wellas long as he can outrun his character; butthe moment his character gets up with himit is all over."

It ishoweverbut just to recordthat some years afterwardswhen Ireminded him of this sarcasmhe said"Wellbut Derrick has now got acharacter that he need not run away from."

I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigour of his conversationandregretted that I was drawn away from it by an engagement at another place. Ihadfor a part of the eveningbeen left alone with himand had ventured tomake an observation now and thenwhich he received very civilly; so that I wassatisfied that though there was a roughness in his mannerthere was noill-nature in his disposition. Davies followed me to the doorand when Icomplained to him a little of the hard blows which the great man had given mehe kindly took upon him to console me by saying"Don't be uneasy. I cansee he likes you very well."

A few days afterwards I called on Daviesand asked him if he thought I mighttake the liberty of waiting on Mr. Johnson at his chambers in the Temple. Hesaid I certainly mightand that Mr. Johnson would take it as a compliment. Soon Tuesday the 24th of Mayafter having been enlivened by the witty sallies ofMessieurs ThortonWilkesChurchilland Lloydwith whom I had passed themorningI boldly repaired to Johnson. His chambers were on the first floor ofNo. 1Inner-Temple-laneand I entered them with an impression given me by theReverend Dr. Blairof Edinburghwho had been introduced to him not longbeforeand described his having "found the Giant in his den"; anexpression whichwhen I came to be pretty well acquainted with JohnsonIrepeated to himand he was diverted at this picturesque account of himself. Dr.Blair had been presented to him by Dr. James Fordyce. At this time thecontroversy concerning the pieces published by Mr. James Macphersonastranslations of Ossianwas at its height. Johnson had all along denied theirauthenticity; andwhat was still more provoking to their admirersmaintainedthat they had no merit. The subject having been introduced by Dr. FordyceDr.Blairrelying on the internal evidence of their antiquityasked Dr. Johnsonwhether he thought any man of a modern age could have written such poems?Johnson replied"YesSirmany menmany womenand many children."Johnson at this timedid not know that Dr. Blair had just published aDissertationnot only defending their authenticitybut seriously ranking themwith the poems of Homer and Virgil; and when he was afterwards informed of thiscircumstancehe expressed some displeasure at Dr. Fordyce's having suggestedthe topickand said"I am not sorry that they got thus much for theirpains. Sirit was like leading one to talk of a bookwhen the authour isconcealed behind the door."

He received me very courteously: butit must be confessedthat hisapartmentand furnitureand morning dresswere sufficiently uncouth. Hisbrown suit of cloaths looked very rusty: he had on a little old shrivelledunpowdered wigwhich was too small for his head; his shirt-neck and knees ofhis breeches were loose; his black worsted stockings ill drawn up; and he had apair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. But all these slovenlyparticularities were forgotten the moment that he began to talk. Some gentlemenwhom I do not recollectwere sitting with him; and when they went awayI alsorose; but he said to me"Naydon't go."- "Sir(said I)I amafraid that I intrude upon you. It is benevolent to allow me to sit and hearyou." He seemed pleased with this complimentwhich I sincerely paid himand answered"SirI am obliged to any man who visits me."- I havepreserved the following short minute of what passed this day.

"Madness frequently discovers itself merely by unnecessary deviationfrom the usual modes of the world. My poor friend Smart showed the disturbanceof his mindby falling upon his kneesand saying his prayers in the streetorin any other unusual place. Now althoughrationally speakingit is greatermadness not to pray at allthan to pray as Smart didI am afraid there are somany who do not praythat their understanding is not called in question."

Concerning this unfortunate poetChristopher Smartwho was confined in amad-househe hadat another timethe following conversation with Dr. Burney.-BURNEY. "How does poor Smart doSir; is he likely to recover?"JOHNSON. "It seems as if his mind had ceased to struggle with the disease;for he grows fat upon it." BURNEY. "PerhapsSirthat may be fromwant of exercise." JOHNSON. "NoSir; he has partly as much exerciseas he used to havefor he digs in the garden. Indeedbefore his confinementhe used for exercise to walk to the alehouse; but he was carried back again. Idid not think he ought to be shut up. His infirmities were not noxious tosociety. He insisted on people praying with him; and I'd as lief pray with KitSmart as any one else. Another charge wasthat he did not love clean linen; andI have no passion for it."

Johnson continued. "Mankind have a great aversion to intellectuallabour; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainablemore people wouldbe content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.

"The morality of an action depends on the motive from which we act. If Ifling half a crown to a beggar with intention to break his headand he picks itup and buys victuals with itthe physical effect is good; butwith respect tomethe action is very wrong. Soreligious exercisesif not performed with anintention to please GODavail us nothing. As our Saviour says of those whoperform them from other motives'Verily they have their reward.'"

"The Christian religion has very strong evidences. Itindeedappearsin some degree strange to reason; but in History we have undoubted factsagainst whichin reasoning a prioriwe have more arguments than we have forthem; but thentestimony has great weightand casts the balance. I wouldrecommend to every man whose faith is yet unsettledGrotius- Dr. Pearson- andDr. Clarke."

Talking of Garrickhe said"He is the first man in the world forsprightly conversation."

When I rose a second timehe again pressed me to staywhich I did.

He told methat he generally went abroad at four in the afternoonandseldom came home till two in the morning. I took the liberty to ask if he didnot think it wrong to live thusand not make more use of his great talents. Heowned it was a bad habit. On reviewingat the distance of many yearsmyjournal of this periodI wonder howat my first visitI ventured to talk tohim so freelyand that he bore it with so much indulgence.

Before we partedhe was so good as to promise to favour me with his companyone evening at my lodgings: andas I took my leaveshook me cordially by thehand. It is almost needless to addthat I felt no little elation at having nowso happily established an acquaintance of which I had been so long ambitious.

My readers willI trustexcuse me for being thus minutely circumstantialwhen it is considered that the acquaintance of Dr.

Johnson was to me a most valuable acquisitionand laid the foundation ofwhatever instruction and entertainment they may receive from my collectionsconcerning the great subject of the work which they are now perusing.

I did not visit him again till MondayJune 13at which time I recollect nopart of his conversationexcept that when I told him I had been to see Johnsonride upon three horseshe said"Such a manSirshould be encouraged;for his performances shew the extent of the human power in one instanceandthus tend to raise our opinion of the faculties of man. He shews what may beattained by persevering application; so that every man may hopethat by givingas much applicationalthough perhaps he may never ride three horses at a timeor dance upon a wireyet he may be equally expert in whatever profession he haschosen to pursue."

He again shook me by the hand at partingand asked me why I did not comeoftener to him. Trusting that I was now in his good gracesI answeredthat hehad not given me much encouragementand reminded him of the check I hadreceived from him at our first interview. "Pohpoh! (said hewith acomplacent smile)never mind these things. Come to me as often as you can. Ishall be glad to see you."

I had learnt that his place of frequent resort was the Mitre tavern inFleet-streetwhere he loved to sit up lateand I begged I might be allowed topass an evening with him there soonwhich he promised I should. A few daysafterwards I met him near Temple-barabout one o'clock in the morningandasked him if he would then go to the Mitre. "Sir(said he) it is too late;they won't let us in. But I'll go with you another night with all myheart."

A revolution of some importance in my plan of life had just taken place; forinstead of procuring a commission in the foot-guardswhich was my owninclinationI hadin compliance with my father's wishesagreed to study thelawand was soon to set out for Utrechtto hear the lectures of an excellentCivilian in that Universityand then to proceed on my travels. Though verydesirous of obtaining Dr. Johnson's advice and instructions on the mode ofpursuing my studiesI was at this time so occupiedshall I call it? or sodissipatedby the amusements of Londonthat our next meeting was not tillSaturdayJune 25when happening to dine at Clifton's eating-houseinButcher-rowI was surprised to perceive Johnson come in and take his seat atanother table. The mode of diningor rather being fedat such houses inLondonis well known to many to be particularly unsocialas there is noOrdinaryor united companybut each person has his own messand is under noobligation to hold any intercourse with any one. A liberal and full-minded manhoweverwho loves to talkwill break through this churlish and unsocialrestraint. Johnson and an Irish gentleman got into a dispute concerning thecause of some part of mankind being black. "WhySir(said Johnson) ithas been accounted for in three ways: either by supposing that they are theposterity of Hamwho was cursed; or that God at first created two kinds of menone black and another white; or that by the heat of the sun the skin isscorchedand so acquires a sooty hue. This matter has been much canvassed amongnaturalistsbut has never been brought to any certain issue." What theIrishman said is totally obliterated from my mind; but I remember that he becamevery warm and intemperate in his expressions: upon which Johnson roseandquietly walked away. When he had retiredhis antagonist took his revengeas hethoughtby saying"He has a most ungainly figureand an affectation ofpomposityunworthy of a man of genius."

Johnson had not observed that I was in the room. I followed himhoweverandhe agreed to meet me in the evening at the Mitre. I called on himand we wentthither at nine. We had a good supperand port wineof which he then sometimesdrank a bottle. The orthodox high-church sound of the MITRE- the figure andmanner of the celebrated SAMUEL JOHNSON- the extraordinary power and precisionof his conversationand the pride arising from finding myself admitted as hiscompanionproduced a variety of sensationsand a pleasing elevation of mindbeyond what I had ever before experienced. I find in my journal the followingminute of our conversationwhichthough it will give but a very faint notionof what passedisin some degreea valuable record; and it will be curious inthis viewas showing how habitual to his mind were some opinions which appearin his works.

"Colley CibberSirwas by no means a blockhead; but by arrogating tohimself too muchhe was in danger of losing that degree of estimation to whichhe was entitled. His friends gave out that he intended his birth-day Odes shouldbe bad: but that was not the caseSir; for he kept them many months by himanda few years before he died he shewed me one of themwith great solicitude torender it as perfect as might beand I made some correctionsto which he wasnot very willing to submit. I remember the following couplet in allusion to theKing and himself: -

'Perch'd on the eagle's soaring wing

The lowly linnet loves to sing.' -

Sirhe had heard something of the fabulous tale of the wren sitting upon theeagle's wingand he had applied it to a linnet. Cibber's familiar stylehoweverwas better than that which Whitehead has assumed. Grand nonsense isinsupportable. Whitehead is but a little man to inscribe verses toplayers."

I did not presume to controvert this censurewhich was tinctured with hisprejudice against playersbut I could not help thinking that a dramatick poetmight with propriety pay a compliment to an eminent performeras Whitehead hasvery happily done in his verses to Mr. Garrick.

"SirI do not think Gray a first-rate poet. He has not a boldimaginationnor much command of words. The obscurity in which he has involvedhimself will not persuade us that he is sublime. His Elegy in a church-yard hasa happy selection of imagesbut I don't like what are called his great things.His ode which begins -

'Ruin seize theeruthless King

Confusion on thy banners wait!' -

has been celebrated for its abruptnessand plunging into the subject all atonce. But such arts as these have no meritunless when they are original. Weadmire them only once; and this abruptness has nothing new in it. We have had itoften before. Naywe have it in the old song of Johnny Armstrong: -

'Is there ever a man in all Scotland

From the highest estate to the lowest degree&c.' -

And thenSir-

'Yesthere is a man in Westmoreland

And Johnny Armstrong they do him call.' -

Therenowyou plunge at once into the subject. You have no previousnarration to lead you to it.- The two next lines in that Ode areI thinkverygood:

'Though fann'd by conquest's crimson wing

They mock the air with idle state.'" * -

* My friend Mr. Malonein his valuable comments on Shakspearehas traced inthat great poet the disjecta membra of these lines. -

Here let it be observedthat although his opinion of Gray's poetry waswidely different from mineand I believe from that of most men of tastebywhom it is with justice highly admiredthere is certainly much absurdity in theclamour which has been raisedas if he had been culpably injurious to the meritof that bardand had been actuated by envy. Alas! ye little short-sightedcritickscould Johnson be envious of the talents of any of his contemporaries?That his opinion on this subject was what in private and in publick be uniformlyexpressedregardless of what others might thinkwe may wonderand perhapsregret; but it is shallow and unjust to charge him with expressing what he didnot think.

Finding him in a placid humourand wishing to avail myself of theopportunity which I fortunately had of consulting a sageto hear whose wisdomI conceivedin the ardour of youthful imaginationthat men filled with a nobleenthusiasm for intellectual improvement would gladly have resorted from distantlands;- I opened my mind to him ingenuouslyand gave him a little sketch of mylifeto which he was pleased to listen with great attention.

I acknowledgedthat though educated very strictly in the principles ofreligionI had for some time been misled into a certain degree of infidelity;but that I was come now to a better way of thinkingand was fully satisfied ofthe truth of the Christian revelationthough I was not clear as to every pointconsidered to be orthodox. Being at all times a curious examiner of the humanmindand pleased with an undisguised display of what had passed in ithecalled to me with warmth"Give me your hand; I have taken a liking toyou." He then began to descant upon the force of testimonyand the littlewe could know of final causes; so that the objections ofwhy was it so? or whywas it not so? ought not to disturb us; addingthat he himself had at oneperiod been guilty of a temporary neglect of religionbut that it was not theresult of argumentbut mere absence of thought.

After having given credit to reports of his bigotryI was agreeablysurprised when he expressed the following very liberal sentimentwhich has theadditional value of obviating an objection to our holy religionfounded uponthe discordant tenets of Christians themselves: "For my partSirI thinkall Christianswhether Papists or Protestantsagree in the essential articlesand that their differences are trivialand rather political thanreligious."

We talked of belief in ghosts. He said"SirI make a distinctionbetween what a man may experience by the mere strength of his imaginationandwhat imagination cannot possibly produce. Thussuppose I should think that Isaw a formand heard a voice cry'Johnsonyou are a very wicked fellowandunless you repent you will certainly be punished;' my own unworthiness is sodeeply impressed upon my mindthat I might imagine I thus saw and heardandtherefore I should not believe that an external communication had been made tome. But if a form should appearand a voice should tell me that a particularman had died at a particular placeand a particular houra fact which I had noapprehension ofnor any means of knowingand this factwith all itscircumstancesshould afterwards be unquestionably provedI shouldin thatcasebe persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence imparted to me."

Here it is properonce for allto give a true and fair statement ofJohnson's way of thinking upon the questionwhether departed spirits are everpermitted to appear in this worldor in any way to operate upon human life. Hehas been ignorantly misrepresented as weakly credulous upon that subject; andthereforethough I feel an inclination to disdain and treat with silentcontempt so foolish a notion concerning my illustrious friendyet as I find ithas gained groundit is necessary to refute it. The real fact then isthatJohnson had a very philosophical mindand such a rational respect fortestimonyas to make him submit his understanding to what was authenticallyprovedthough he could not comprehend why it was so. Being thus disposedhewas willing to inquire into the truth of any relation of supernatural agencyageneral belief of which has prevailed in all nations and ages. But so far was hefrom being the dupe of implicit faiththat he examined the matter with ajealous attentionand no man was more ready to refute its falsehood when he haddiscovered it. Churchill in his poem entitled "The Ghost" availedhimself of the absurd credulity imputed to Johnsonand drew a caricature of himunder the name of "POMPOSO" representing him as one of the believersof the story of a Ghost in Cock-lanewhichin the year 1762had gained verygeneral credit in London. Many of my readersI am convincedare to this hourunder an impression that Johnson was thus foolishly deceived. It will thereforesurprize them a good deal when they are informed upon undoubted authoritythatJohnson was one of those by whom the imposture was detected. The story hadbecome so popularthat he thought it should be investigated; and in thisresearch he was assisted by the Reverend Dr. Douglasnow Bishop of Salisburythe great detecter of impostures; who informs methat after the gentlemen whowent and examined into the evidence were satisfied of its falsityJohnson wrotein their presence an account of itwhich was published in the news-papers andGentleman's Magazineand undeceived the world. * -

* The account was as follows: "On the night of the 1st of Februarymanygentlemen eminent for their rank and characterwereby the invitation of theReverend Mr. Aldrichof Clerkenwellassembled at his housefor theexamination of the noises supposed to be made by a departed spiritfor the.detection of some enormous crime.

"About ten at night the gentlemen met in the chamber in which the girlsupposed to be disturbed by a spirithadwith proper cautionbeen put to bedby several ladies. They sat rather more than an hourand hearing nothingwentdown stairswhen they interrogated the father of the girlwho deniedinstrongest termsany knowledge or belief of fraud.

"The supposed spirit had before publickly promisedby an affirmativeknockthat it would attend one of the gentlemen into the vault under the churchof St. JohnClerkenwellwhere the body is depositedand give a token of herpresence thereby a knock upon her coffin; it was therefore determined to makethis trial of the existence or veracity of the supposed spirit.

"While they were enquiring and deliberatingthey were summoned into thegirl's chamber by some ladies who were near her bedand who had heard knocksand scratches. When the gentlemen enteredthe girl declared that she felt thespirit like a mouse upon her backand was required to hold her hands out ofbed. From that timethough the spirit was very solemnly required to manifestits existence by appearanceby impression on the hand or body of any presentby scratchesknocksor any other agencyno evidence of any preternaturalpower was exhibited.

"The Spirit was then very seriously advertised that the person to whomthe promise was made of striking the coffinwas then about to visit the vaultand that the performance of the promise was then claimed. The company at oneo'clock went into the churchand the gentleman to whom the promise was madewent with another into the vault. The spirit was solemnly required to performits promisebut nothing more than silence ensued: the person supposed to beaccused by the spiritthen went down with several othersbut no effect wasperceived. Upon their return they examined the girlbut could draw noconfession from her. Between two and three she desired and was permitted to gohome with her father.

"It isthereforethe opinion of the whole assemblythat the child hassome art of making or counterfeiting a particular noiseand that there is noagency of any higher cause." -

Our conversation proceeded. "Sir(said he) I am a friend tosubordinationas most conducive to the happiness of society. There is areciprocal pleasure in governing and being governed."

"Dr. Goldsmith is one of the first men we now have as an authourand heis a very worthy man too. He has been loose in his principlesbut he is comingright."

I mentioned Mallet's tragedy of "ELVIRA" which had been acted thepreceding winter at Drury-laneand that the Honourable Andrew ErskineMr.Dempsterand myselfhad joined in writing a pamphletentitled "CriticalStrictures" against it. * That the mildness of Dempster's disposition hadhoweverrelented; and he had candidly said"We have hardly a right toabuse this tragedy; for bad as it ishow vain should either of us be to writeone not near so good." JOHNSON. "Why noSir; this is not justreasoning. You may abuse a tragedythough you cannot write one. You may scold acarpenter who has made you a bad tablethough you cannot make a table. It isnot your trade to make tables." -

* The Critical Reviewin which Mallet himself sometimes wrotecharacterisedthis pamphlet as "the crude efforts of envypetulanceandself-conceit." There being thus three epithetswe the three authours had ahumourous contention how each should be appropriated. -

When I talked to him of the paternal estate to which I was heirhe said"Sirlet me tell youthat to be a Scotch landlordwhere you have anumber of families dependent upon youand attached to youisperhaps as higha situation as humanity can arrive at. A merchant upon the 'Change of Londonwith a hundred thousand poundsis nothing; an English Dukewith an immensefortuneis nothing: he has no tenants who consider themselves as under hispatriarchal careand who will follow him to the field upon an emergency."

His notion of the dignity of a Scotch landlord had been formed upon what hehad heard of the Highland Chiefs; for it is long since a lowland landlord hasbeen so curtailed in his feudal authoritythat he has little more influenceover his tenants than an English landlord; and of late years most of theHighland Chiefs have destroyedby means too well knownthe princely powerwhich they once enjoyed.

He proceeded: "Your going abroadSirand breaking off idle habitsmaybe of great importance to you. I would go where there are courts and learnedmen. There is a good deal of Spain that has not been perambulated. I would haveyou go thither. A man of inferiour talents to yours may furnish us with usefulobservations upon that country." His supposing meat that period of lifecapable of writing an account of my travels that would deserve to be readelated me not a little.

I appeal to every impartial reader whether this faithful detail of hisfranknesscomplacencyand kindness to a young mana stranger and a Scotchmandoes not refute the unjust opinion of the harshness of his general demeanour.His occasional reproofs of follyimpudenceor impietyand even the suddensallies of his constitutional irritability of temperwhich have been preservedfor the poignancy of their withave produced that opinion among those who havenot considered that such instancesthough collected by Mrs. Piozzi into a smallvolumeand read over in a few hourswerein factscattered through a longseries of years: yearsin which his time was chiefly spent in instructing anddelighting mankind by his writings and conversationin acts of piety to GODand good-will to men.

I complained to him that I had not yet acquired much knowledgeand asked hisadvice as to my studies. He said"Don't talk of study now. I will give youa plan; but it will require some time to consider of it." "It is verygood in you (I replied) to allow me to be with you thus. Had it been foretoldto me some years ago that I should pass an evening with the authour of theRAMBLERhow should I have exulted!" What I then expressed was sincerelyfrom the heart. He was satisfied that it wasand cordially answered"SirI am glad we have met. I hope we shall pass many evenings and mornings tootogether." We finished a couple of bottles of portand sat till betweenone and two in the morning.

He wrote this year in the Critical Review the account of "TelemachusaMask" by the Reverend George Grahamof Eton College. The subject of thisbeautiful poem was particularly interesting to Johnsonwho had much experienceof "the conflict of opposite principles" which he describes as"The contention between pleasure and virtuea struggle which will alwaysbe continued while the present system of nature shall subsist; nor can historyor poetry exhibit more than pleasure triumphing over virtueand virtuesubjugating pleasure."

As Dr. Oliver Goldsmith will frequently appear in this narrativeI shallendeavour to make my readers in some degree acquainted with his singularcharacter. He was a native of Irelandand a contemporary with Mr. BurkeatTrinity CollegeDublinbut did not then give much promise of future celebrity.* Hehoweverobserved to Mr. Malonethat "though he made no great figurein mathematickswhich was a study in much repute therehe could turn an Ode ofHorace into English better than any of them." He afterwards studied physickat Edinburghand upon the Continent: and I have been informedwas enabled topursue his travels on footpartly by demanding at Universities to enter thelists as a disputantby whichaccording to the custom of many of themhe wasentitled to the premium of a crownwhen luckily for him his challenge was notaccepted; so thatas I once observed to Dr. Johnsonhe disputed his passagethrough Europe. He then came to Englandand was employed successively in thecapacities of an usher to an academya corrector of the pressa revieweranda writer for a news-paper. He had sagacity enough to cultivate assiduously theacquaintance of Johnsonand his faculties were gradually enlarged by thecontemplation of such a model. To me and many others it appeared that hestudiously copied the manner of Johnsonthoughindeedupon a smaller scale. -

* [Goldsmith got a premium at a Christmas examination in Trinity CollegeDublinwhich I have seen.- KEARNEY.]

[A premium obtained at the Christmas examination is generally more honourablethan any otherbecause it ascertains the person who receives it to be the firstin literary merit. At the other examinationsthe person thus distinguished maybe only the second in merit; he who has previously obtained the same honoraryrewardsometimes receiving a written certificate that he was the best answererit being a rule that not more than one premium should be adjudged to the sameperson in one year. See anteAetat. 47.- M.] -

At this time I think he had published nothing with his namethough it waspretty generally known that one Dr. Goldsmith was the authour of "AnEnquiry into the present State of polite Learning in Europe" and of"The Citizen of the World" a series of letters supposed to be writtenfrom London by a Chinese. * No man had the art of displaying with more advantageas a writerwhatever literary acquisitions he made. "Nihil quod tetigitnon ornavit." *(2) His mind resembled a fertilebut thin soil. There was aquickbut not a strong vegetationof whatever chanced to be thrown upon it. Nodeep root could be struck. The oak of the forest did not grow there: but theelegant shrubbery and the fragrant parterre appeared in gay succession. It hasbeen generally circulated and believed that he was a mere fool in conversation;*(3) butin truththis has been greatly exaggerated. He hadno doubta morethan common share of that hurry of ideas which we often find in his countrymenand which sometimes produces a laughable confusion in expressing them. He wasvery much what the French call un etourdiand from vanity and an eager desireof being conspicuous wherever he washe frequently talked carelessly withoutknowledge of the subjector even without thought. His person was shorthiscountenance coarse and vulgarhis deportment that of a scholar awkwardlyaffecting the easy gentleman. Those who were in any way distinguishedexcitedenvy in him to so ridiculous an excessthat the instances of it are hardlycredible. When accompanying two beautiful young ladies *(4) with their mother ona tour in Francehe was seriously angry that more attention was paid to themthan to him; and once at the exhibition of the Fantoccini in Londonwhen thosewho sat next him observed with what dexterity a puppet was made to toss a pikehe could not bear that it should have such praiseand exclaimed with somewarmth"Pshaw! I can do it better myself." *(5) -

* [He had also published in 1759"THE BEEbeing Essays on the mostinteresting subjects."- M.]

*(2) See his Epitaph in Westminster Abbeywritten by Dr. Johnson.

*(3) In allusion to thisMr. Horace Walpolewho admired his writingssaidhe was "an inspired idiot"; and Garrick described him as one

"-for shortness called Noll

Who wrote like an angeland talk'd like poor Poll."

Sir Joshua Reynolds mentioned to me that he frequently heard Goldsmith talkwarmly of the pleasure of being likedand observe how hard it would be ifliterary excellence should preclude a man from that satisfactionwhich heperceived it often didfrom the envy which attended it; and therefore SirJoshua was convinced that he was intentionally more absurdin order to lessenhimself in social intercoursetrusting that his character would be sufficientlysupported by his work. If it indeed was his intention to appear absurd incompanyhe was often very successful. But with due deference to Sir Joshua'singenuityI think the conjecture too refined.

*(4) The Misses Hornecksone of whom is now married to Henry BunburyEsq.and the other to Colonel Gwyn.

*(5) He went home with Mr. Burke to supper; and broke his shin by attemptingto exhibit to the company how much better he could jump over a stick than thepuppets. -

HeI am afraidhad no settled system of any sortso that his conduct mustnot be strictly scrutinized; but his affections were social and generousandwhen he had money he gave it away very liberally. His desire of imaginaryconsequence predominated over his attention to truth. When he began to rise intonoticehe said he had a brother who was Dean of Durham* a fiction so easilydetectedthat it is wonderful how he should have been so inconsiderate as tohazard it. He boasted to me at this time of the power of his pen in commandingmoneywhich I believe was true in a certain degreethough in the instance hegave he was by no means correct. He told me that he had sold a novel for fourhundred pounds. This was his "Vicar of Wakefield." But Johnsoninformed methat he had made the bargain for Goldsmithand the price was sixtypounds. "AndSir(said he) a sufficient price toowhen it was sold; forthen the fame of Goldsmith had not been elevatedas it afterwards wasby his'Traveller;' and the bookseller had such faint hopes of profit by his bargainthat he kept the manuscript by him a long timeand did not publish it tillafter the 'Traveller' had appeared. Thento be sureit was accidentally worthmore money." -

* I am willing to hope that there may have been some mistake as to thisanecdotethough I had it from a dignitary of the church. Dr. Isaac Goldsmithhis near relationwas Dean of Cloynein 1747. -

Mrs. Piozzi * and Sir John Hawkins *(2) have strangely misstated the historyof Goldsmith's situation and Johnson's friendly interferencewhen this novelwas sold. I shall give it authentically from Johnson's own exact narration:

"I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was ingreat distressand as it was not in his power to come to mebegging that Iwould come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guineaand promised to cometo him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was drestand found that hislandlady had arrested him for his rentat which he was in a violent passion. Iperceived that he had already changed my guineaand had got a bottle of Madeiraand a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottledesired he would becalmand began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. Hethen told me that he had a novel ready for the presswhich he produced to me. Ilooked into itand saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon returnandhaving gone to a bookseller sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith themoneyand he discharged his rentnot without rating his landlady in a hightone for having used him so ill." *(3) -

* Anecdotes of Johnsonp. 119.

*(2) Life of Johnsonp. 420.

*(3) It may not be improper to annex here Mrs. Piozzi's account of thistransactionin her own wordsas a specimen of the extreme inaccuracy withwhich all her anecdotes of Dr. Johnson are relatedor rather discoloured anddistorted. "I have forgotten the yearbut it could scarcelyI thinkbelater than 1765 or 1766that he was called abruptly from our house afterdinnerand returning in about three hourssaid he had been with an enragedauthourwhose landlady pressed him for payment within doorswhile the bailiffsbeset him without; that he was drinking himself drunk with Madeirato drowncareand fretting over a novelwhichwhen finishedwas to be his wholefortunebut he could not get it done for distractionnor could he step out ofdoors to offer it for sale. Mr. Johnsonthereforesent away the bottleandwent to the booksellerrecommending the performanceand desiring someimmediate relief; which when he brought back to the writerhe called the womanof the house directly to partake of punch and pass their time inmerriment." Anecdotes of Dr. Johnsonp. 119. -

My next meeting with Johnson was on Friday the 1st of Julywhen he and I andDr. Goldsmith supped at the Mitre. I was before this time pretty well acquaintedwith Goldsmithwho was one of the brightest ornaments of the Johnsonian school.Goldsmith's respectful attachment to Johnson was then at its height; for his ownliterary reputation had not yet distinguished him so much as to excite a vaindesire of competition with his great Master. He had increased my admiration ofthe goodness of Johnson's heartby incidental remarks in the course ofconversationsuch aswhen I mentioned Mr. Levetwhom he entertained under hisroof"He is poor and honestwhich is recommendation enough toJohnson;" and when I wondered that he was very kind to a man of whom I hadheard a very bad character"He is now become miserableand that insuresthe protection of Johnson."

Goldsmith attempting this evening to maintainI suppose from an affectationof paradox"that knowledge was not desirable on its own accountfor itoften was a source of unhappiness." JOHNSON. "WhySirthat knowledgemay in some cases produce unhappinessI allow. Butupon the wholeknowledgeper seis certainly an object which every man would wish to attainalthoughperhapshe may not take the trouble necessary for attaining it."

Dr. John Campbellthe celebrated political and biographical writerbeingmentionedJohnson said"Campbell is a man of much knowledgeand has agood share of imagination. His 'Hermippus Redivivus' is very entertainingas anaccount of the Hermetick philosophyand as furnishing a curious history of theextravagances of the human mind. If it were merely imaginaryit would benothing at all. Campbell is not always rigidly careful of truth in hisconversation; but I do not believe there is any thing of this carelessness inhis books. Campbell is a good mana pious man. I am afraid he has not been inthe inside of a church for many years; * but he never passes a church withoutpulling off his hat. This shews that he has good principles. I used to go prettyoften to Campbell's on a Sunday evening till I began to consider that the shoalsof Scotchmen who flocked about him might probably saywhen any thing of minewas well done'Ayayhe has learnt this of CAWMELL!'" -

* I am inclined to think that he was misinformed as to this circumstance. Iown I am jealous for my worthy friend Dr. John Campbell. For though Milton couldwithout remorse absent himself from public worshipI cannot. On the contraryIhave the same habitual impressions upon my mindwith those of a truly venerableJudgewho said to Mr. Langton"Friend Langtonif I have not been atchurch on SundayI do not feel myself easy." Dr. Campbell was a sincerelyreligious man. Lord Macartneywho is eminent for his variety of knowledgeandattention to men of talentsand knew him welltold methat when he called onhim in a morninghe found him reading a chapter in the Greek New Testamentwhich he informed his Lordship was his constant practice. The quantity of Dr.Campbell's composition is almost incredibleand his labours brought him largeprofits. Dr. Joseph Warton told me that Johnson said of him"He is therichest authour that ever grazed the common of literature." -

He talked very contemptuously of Churchill's poetryobservingthat "ithad a temporary currencyonly from its audacity of abuseand being filled withliving namesthat it would sink into oblivion." I ventured to hint that hewas not quite a fair judgeas Churchill had attacked him violently. JOHNSON."NaySirI am a very fair judge. He did not attack me violently till hefound I did not like his poetry; and his attack on me shall not prevent me fromcontinuing to say what I think of himfrom an apprehension that it may beascribed to resentment. NoSirI called the fellow a blockhead at firstand Iwill call him a blockhead still. HoweverI will acknowledge that I have abetter opinion of him nowthan I once had; for he has shown more fertility thanI expected. To be surehe is a tree that cannot produce good fruit; he onlybears crabs. ButSira tree that produces a great many crabs is better than atree which produces only a few."

In this depreciation of Churchill's poetry I could not agree with him. It isvery true that the greatest part of it is upon the topicks of the dayon whichaccountas it brought him great fame and profit at the timeit mustproportionately slide out of the publick attention as other occasional objectssucceed. But Churchill had extraordinary vigour both of thought and expression.His portraits of the players will ever be valuable to the true lovers of thedrama; and his strong caricatures of several eminent men of his agewill not beforgotten by the curious. Let me addthat there are in his works many passageswhich are of a general nature; and his "Prophecy of Famine" is a poemof no ordinary merit. It isindeedfalsely injurious to Scotland; buttherefore may be allowed a greater share of invention.

Bonnell Thornton had just published a burlesque "Ode on St. Cecilia'sdayadapted to the ancient British musickviz. the salt-boxthe jews-harpthe marrow-bones and cleaverthe humstrum or hurdy-gurdy&c." Johnsonpraised its humourand seemed much diverted with it. He repeated the followingpassage: -

"In strains more exalted the salt-box shall join

And clattering and battering and clapping combine;

With a rap and a tap while the hollow side sounds

Up and down leaps the flapand with rattling rebounds." * -

* [In 1769 I set for Smart and NewberryThornton's burlesque Ode on St.Cecilia's day. It was performed at Ranelagh in masksto a very crowdedaudienceas I was told; for I then resided in Norfolk. Beard sung the salt-boxsongwhich was admirably accompanied on that instrument by Brentthe Fencingmasterand father of Miss Brentthe celebrated singer; Skeggs on thebroom-stickas bassoon; and a remarkable performer on the Jews-harp-"Buzzing twangs the iron lyre." Cleavers were cast in bell metal forthis entertainment. All the performers of the old woman's Oratoryemployed byFootewereI believeemployed at Ranelaghon this occasion.- BURNEY.] -

I mentioned the periodical paper called "THE CONNOISSEUR." He saidit wanted matter.- No doubt it had not the deep thinking of Johnson's writings.But surely it has just views of the surface of lifeand a very sprightlymanner. His opinion of THE WORLD was not much higher than of THE CONNOISSEUR.

Let me here apologize for the imperfect manner in which I am obliged toexhibit Johnson's conversation at this period. In the early part of myacquaintance with himI was so wrapt in admiration of his extraordinarycolloquial talentsand so little accustomed to his peculiar mode of expressionthat I found it extremely difficult to recollect and record his conversationwith its genuine vigour and vivacity. In progress of timewhen my mind wasasit werestrongly impregnated with the Johnsonian aetherI could with much morefacility and exactnesscarry in my memory and commit to paper the exuberantvariety of his wisdom and wit.

At this timeMiss Williams* as she was then calledthough she did notreside with him in the Temple under his roofbut had lodgings in Bolt-courtFleet-streethad so much of his attentionthat he every night drank tea withher before he went homehowever late it might beand she always sat up forhim. Thisit may be fairly conjecturedwas not alone a proof of his regard forherbut of his own unwillingness to go into solitudebefore that unseasonablehour at which he had habituated himself to expect the oblivion of repose. Dr.Goldsmithbeing a privileged manwent with him this nightstrutting awayandcalling to me with an air of superioritylike that of an esoterick over anexoterick disciple of a sage of antiquity"I go to see MissWilliams." I confessI then envied him this mighty privilegeof which heseemed so proud; but it was not long before I obtained the same mark ofdistinction. -

* [See anteAetat. 42. This lady resided in Dr. Johnson's house inGough-square from about 1753 to 1758; and in that yearon his removing toGray's Innshe went into lodgings. At a subsequent periodshe again became aninmate with Johnsonin Johnson's-court.- M.] -

On Tuesday the 5th of JulyI again visited Johnson. He told me he had lookedinto the poems of a pretty voluminous writerMr. (now Dr.) John Ogilvieone ofthe Presbyterian ministers of Scotlandwhich had lately come outbut couldfind no thinking in them. BOSWELL. "Is there not imagination in themSir?" JOHNSON. "WhySirthere is in them what was imaginationbutit is no more imagination in himthan sound is sound in the echo. And hisdiction too is not his own. We have long ago seen white-robed innocenceandflower-besplangled meads. "

Talking of Londonhe observed"Sirif you wish to have a just notionof the magnitude of this cityyou must not be satisfied with seeing its greatstreets and squaresbut must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. Itis not in the showy evolutions of buildingsbut in the multiplicity of humanhabitations which are crowded togetherthat the wonderful immensity of Londonconsists."- I have often amused myself with thinking how different a placeLondon is to different people. Theywhose narrow minds are contracted to theconsideration of some one particular pursuitview it only through that medium.A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its differentdepartments; a grazieras a vast market for cattle; a mercantile manas aplace where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatickenthusiastas the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasureas an assemblage of tavernsand the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue.But the intellectual man is struck with itas comprehending the whole of humanlife in all its varietythe contemplation of which is inexhaustible.

On WednesdayJuly 6he was engaged to sup with me at my lodgings inDowning-streetWestminster. But on the preceding night my landlord havingbehaved very rudely to me and some company who were with meI had resolved notto remain another night in his house. I was exceedingly uneasy at the awkwardappearance I supposed I should make to Johnson and the other gentleman whom Ihad invitednot being able to receive them at homeand being obliged to ordersupper at the Mitre. I went to Johnson in the morningand talked of it as of aserious distress. He laughedand said"ConsiderSirhow insignificantthis will appear a twelvemonth hence."- Were this consideration to beapplied to most of the little vexatious incidents of lifeby which our quiet istoo often disturbedit would prevent many painful sensations. I have tried itfrequently with good effect. "There is nothing (continued he) in thismighty misfortune; naywe shall be better at the Mitre." I told him that Ihad been at Sir John Fielding's officecomplaining of my landlordand had beeninformedthat though I had taken my lodgings for a yearI mightupon proof ofhis bad behaviourquit them when I pleasedwithout being under an obligationto pay rent for any longer time than while I possessed them. The fertility ofJohnson's mind could shew itself even upon so small a matter as this. "WhySir(said he) I suppose this must be the law since you have been told so inBow-street Butif your landlord could hold you to your bargainand thelodgings should be yours for a yearyou may certainly use them as you thinkfit. SoSiryou may quarter two life-guardmen upon him; or you may send thegreatest scoundrel you can find into your apartments; or you may say that youwant to make some experiments in natural philosophyand may burn a largequantity of assafoetida in his house."

I had as my guests this evening at the Mitre tavernDr. JohnsonDr.GoldsmithMr. Thomas DaviesMr. Ecclesan Irish gentlemanfor whoseagreeable company I was obliged to Mr. Daviesand the Reverend Mr. JohnOgilvie* who was desirous of being in company with my illustrious friendwhile I in my turnwas proud to have the honour of shewing one of my countrymenupon what easy terms Johnson permitted me to live with him. -

* The Northern bard mentioned earlier. When I asked Dr. Johnson's permissionto introduce himhe obligingly agreed; addinghoweverwith a sly pleasantry"but he must give us none of his poetry." It is remarkable thatJohnson and Churchillhowever much they differed in other pointsagreed onthis subject. See Churchill's "Journey." It ishoweverbut justiceto Dr. Ogilvie to observethat his "Day of Judgement" has noinconsiderable share of merit. -

Goldsmithas usualendeavouredwith too much eagernessto shineanddisputed very warmly with Johnson against the well known maxim of the Britishconstitution"the King can do no wrong;" affirmingthat"whatwas morally false could not be politically true; and as the King mightin theexercise of his regal powercommand and cause the doing of what was wrongitcertainly might be saidin sense and in reasonthat he could do wrong."JOHNSON. "Siryou are to considerthat in our constitutionaccording toits true principlesthe King is the headhe is supreme: he is above everythingand there is no power by which he can be tried. Thereforeit isSirthat we hold the King can do no wrong; that whatever may happen to be wrong ingovernment may not be above our reachby being ascribed to Majesty. Redress isalways to be had against oppressionby punishing the immediate agents. TheKingthough he should commandcannot force a Judge to condemn a man unjustly;therefore it is the Judge whom we prosecute and punish. Political institutionsare formed upon the consideration of what will most frequently tend to the goodof the wholealthough now and then exceptions may occur. Thus it is better ingeneral that a nation should have a supreme legislative poweralthough it mayat times be abused. And thenSirthere is this considerationthat if theabuse be enormousNature will rise upand claiming her original rightsoverturn a corrupt political system. " I mark this animated sentence withpeculiar pleasureas a noble instance of that truly dignified spirit of freedomwhich ever glowed in his heartthough he was charged with slavish tenets bysuperficial observers; because he was at all times indignant against that falsepatriotismthat pretended love of freedomthat unruly restlessness which isinconsistent with the stable authority of any good government. This generoussentimentwhich he uttered with great fervourstruck me exceedinglyandstirred my blood to that pitch of fancied resistancethe possibility of which Iam glad to keep in mindbut to which I trust I never shall be forced.

"Great abilities (said he) are not requisite for an Historian; for inhistorical compositionall the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent.He has facts ready to his handso there is no exercise of invention.Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is used inthe lower kinds of poetry. Some penetrationaccuracyand colouringwill fit aman for the taskif he can give the application which is necessary."

"Bayle's Dictionary is a very useful work for those to consult who lovethe biographical part of literaturewhich is what I love most."

Talking of the eminent writers in Queen Anne's reignhe observed"Ithink Dr. Arbuthnot the first man among them. He was the most universal geniusbeing an excellent physiciana man of deep learningand a man of much humour.Mr. Addison wasto be surea great man; his learning was not profound; but hismoralityhis humourand his elegance of writingset him very high."

Mr. Ogilvie was unlucky enough to choose for the topick of his conversationthe praises of his native country. He began with sayingthat there was veryrich land around Edinburgh. Goldsmithwho had studied physick therecontradicted thisvery untrulywith a sneering laugh. Disconcerted a little bythisMr. Ogilvie then took a new groundwhereI supposehe thought himselfperfectly safe; for he observedthat Scotland had a great many noble wildprospects. JOHNSON. "I believeSiryou have a great many. Norwaytoohas noble wild prospects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious noble wildprospects. ButSirlet me tell youthe noblest prospect which a Scotchmanever seesis the high road that leads him to England!" This unexpected andpointed sally produced a roar of applause. After allhoweverthose who admirethe rude grandeur of Naturecannot deny it to Caledonia.

On SaturdayJuly 9I found Johnson surrounded with a numerous leveebuthave not preserved any part of his conversation. On the 14th we had anotherevening by ourselves at the Mitre. It happening to be a very rainy nightI madesome common-place observations on the relaxation of nerves and depression ofspirits which such weather occasioned; * addinghoweverthat it was good forthe vegetable creation. Johnsonwhoas we have already seendenied that thetemperature of the air had any influence on the human frameansweredwith asmile of ridicule"WhyyesSirit is good for vegetablesand for theanimals who eat those vegetablesand for the animals who eat thoseanimals." This observation of his aptly enough introduced a good supper;and I soon forgotin Johnson's companythe influence of a moist atmosphere. -

* [Johnson would suffer none of his friends to fill up chasms in conversationwith remarks on the weather: "Let us not talk of the weather."-BURNEY.] -

Feeling myself now quite at ease as his companionthough I had all possiblereverence for himI expressed a regret that I could not be so easy with myfatherthough he was not much older than Johnsonand certainly howeverrespectable had not more learning and greater abilities to depress me. I askedhim the reason of this. JOHNSON. "WhySirI am a man of the world. I livein the worldand I take in some degreethe colour of the world as it movesalong. Your father is a Judge in a remote part of the islandand all hisnotions are taken from the old world. BesidesSirthere must always be astruggle between a father and sonwhile one aims at power and the other atindependence." I saidI was afraid my father would force me to be alawyer. JOHNSON. "Siryou need not be afraid of his forcing you to be alaborious practising lawyer; that is not in his power. For as the proverb says'One man may lead a horse to the waterbut twenty cannot make him drink.' Hemay be displeased that you are not what he wishes you to be; but thatdispleasure will not go far. If he insists only on your having as much law as isnecessary for a man of propertyand then endeavours to get you into Parliamenthe is quite in the right."

He enlarged very convincingly upon the excellence of rhyme over blank versein English poetry. I mentioned to him that Dr. Adam Smithin his lectures uponcompositionwhen I studied under him in the College of Glasgowhad maintainedthe same opinion strenuouslyand I repeated some of his arguments. JOHNSON"SirI was once in company with Smithand we did not take to each other;but had I known that he loved rhyme as much as you tell me he doesI shouldhave HUGGED him."

Talking of those who denied the truth of Christianityhe said"It isalways easy to be on the negative side. If a man were now to deny that there issalt upon the tableyou could not reduce him to an absurdity. Comelet us trythis a little further. I deny that Canada is takenand I can support my denialby pretty good arguments. The French are a much more numerous people than we;and it is not likely that they would allow us to take it. 'But the ministry haveassured usin all the formality of the Gazettethat it is taken.'- Very true.But the ministry have put us to an enormous expence by the war in Americaandit is their interest to persuade us that we have got something for our money.-'But the fact is confirmed by thousands of men who were at the taking of it.'-Aybut these men have still more interest in deceiving us. They don't want thatyou should think the French have beat thembut that they have beat the French.Now suppose you should go over and find that it really is takenthat would onlysatisfy yourself; for when you come homewe will not believe you. We will sayyou have been bribed.- YetSirnotwithstanding all these plausible objectionswe have no doubt that Canada is really ours. Such is the weight of commontestimony. How much stronger are the evidences of the Christian religion?"

"Idleness is a disease which must be combated; but I would not advise arigid adherence to a particular plan of study. I myself have never persisted inany plan for two days together. A man ought to read just as inclination leadshim: for what he reads as a task will do him little good. A young man shouldread five hours in a dayand so may acquire a great deal of knowledge."

To a man of vigourous intellect and ardent curiosity like his ownreadingwithout a regular plan may be beneficial; though even such a man must submit toitif he would attain a full understanding of any of the sciences.

To such a degree of unrestrained frankness had he now accustomed methat inthe course of this evening I talked of the numerous reflections which had beenthrown out against him on account of his having accepted a pension from hispresent Majesty. "WhySir(said hewith a hearty laugh) it is a mightyfoolish noise that they make. * I have accepted of a pension as a reward whichhas been thought due to my literary merit; and now that I have this pensionIam the same man in every respect that I have ever been; I retain the sameprinciples. It is truethat I cannot now curse (smiling) the House of Hanover;nor would it be decent for me to drink King James's health in the wine that KingGeorge gives me money to pay for. ButSirI think that the pleasure of cursingthe House of Hanoverand drinking King James's healthare amply overbalancedby three hundred pounds a year."

* When I mentioned the same idle clamour to him several years afterwardshesaid with a smile. "I wish my pension were twice as largethat they mightmake twice as much noise." -

There was heremost certainlyan affectation of more Jacobitism than hereally had; and indeed an intention of admittingfor the momentin a muchgreater extent than it really existedthe charge of disaffection imputed to himby the worldmerely for the purpose of shewing how dexterously he could repelan attackeven though he were placed in the most disadvantageous position; forI have heard him declarethat if holding up his right hand would have securedvictory at Culloden to Prince Charles's armyhe was not sure he would have heldit up; so little confidence had he in the right claimed by the house of Stuartand so fearful was he of the consequences of another revolution on the throne ofGreat-Britain; and Mr. Topham Beauclerk assured mehe had heard him say thisbefore he had his pension. At another time he said to Mr. Langton"Nothinghas ever offeredthat has made it worth my while to consider the questionfully." Hehoweveralso said to the same gentlemantalking of King Jamesthe Second"It was become impossible for him to reign any longer in thiscountry." He no doubt had an early attachment to the House of Stuart; buthis zeal had cooled as his reason strengthened. IndeedI heard him once say"that after the death of a violent Whigwith whom he used to contend withgreat eagernesshe felt his Toryism much abated. * I suppose he meant Mr.Walmsley. -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit. p. 402 (Nov. 10). -

Yet there is no doubt that at earlier periods he was wont often to exerciseboth his pleasantry and ingenuity in talking Jacobitism. My much respectedfriendDr. Douglasnow Bishop of Salisburyhas favoured me with the followingadmirable instance from his Lordship's own recollection. One day when dining atold Mr. Langton'swhere Miss Robertshis niecewas one of the companyJohnsonwith his usual complacent attention to the fair sextook her by thehand and said"My dearI hope you are a Jacobite." Old Mr. Langtonwhothough a high and steady Torywas attached to the present Royal Familyseemed offendedand asked Johnsonwith great warmthwhat he could mean byputting such a question to his niece! "WhySir(said Johnson) I meant nooffence to your nieceI meant her a great compliment. A JacobiteSirbelievesin the divine right of Kings. He that believes in the divine right of Kingsbelieves in a Divinity. A Jacobite believes in the divine right of Bishops. Hethat believes in the divine right of Bishops believes in the divine authority ofthe Christian religion. ThereforeSira Jacobite is neither an Atheist nor aDeist. That cannot be said of a Whig; for Whiggism is a negation of allprinciple." * -

* He used to tellwith great humourfrom my relation to himthe followinglittle story of my early yearswhich was literary true: "Boswellin theyear 1745was a fine boywore a white cockadeand prayed for King Jamestillone of his uncles (General Cochrane) gave him a shilling on condition that hewould pray for King Georgewhich he accordingly did. So you see (says Boswell)that Whigs of all ages are made the same way." -

He advised me when abroad to be as much as I could with the Professors in theUniversitiesand with the Clergy; for from their conversation I might expectthe best accounts of every thing in whatever country I should bewith theadditional advantage of keeping my learning alive.

It will be observedthat when giving me advice as to my travelsDr. Johnsondid not dwell upon citiesand palacesand picturesand showsand Arcadianscenes. He was of Lord Essex's opinionwho advises his kinsman Roger Earl ofRutland"rather to go a hundred miles to speak with one wise manthanfive miles to see a fair town." * -

* Letter to Rutland on Travel16mo. 1596. -

I described to him an impudent fellow from Scotlandwho affected to be asavageand railed at all established systems. JOHNSON. "There is nothingsurprizing in thisSir. He wants to make himself conspicuous. He would tumblein a hogstyeas long as you looked at him and called to him to come out. Butlet him alonenever mind himand he'll soon give it over."

I added that the same person maintained that there was no distinction betweenvirtue and vice. JOHNSON. "WhySirif the fellow does not think as hespeakshe is lying; and I see not what honour he can propose to himself fromhaving the character of a lyar. But if he does really think that there is nodistinction between virtue and vicewhySirwhen he leaves our houses let uscount our spoons."

Sir David Dalrymplenow one of the Judges of Scotland by the title of LordHaileshad contributed much to increase my high opinion of Johnsonon accountof his writingslong before I attained to a personal acquaintance with him; Iin returnhad informed Johnson of Sir David's eminent character for learningand religion; and Johnson was so much pleasedthat at one of our eveningmeetings he gave him for his toast. I at this time kept up a very frequentcorrespondence with Sir David; and I read to Dr. Johnson to-night the followingpassage from the letter which I had last received from him:

"It gives me pleasure to think that you have obtained the friendship ofMr. Samuel Johnson. He is one of the best moral writers which England hasproduced. At the same timeI envy you the free and undisguised converse withsuch a man. May I beg you to present my best respects to himand to assure himof the veneration which I entertain for the authour of the Rambler and ofRasselas? Let me recommend this last work to you; with the Rambler you certainlyare acquainted. In Rasselas you will see a tender-hearted operatorwho probesthe wound only to heal it. Swifton the contrarymangles human nature. He cutsand slashesas if he took pleasure in the operationlike the tyrant who saidIta feri ut se sentiat emori. " Johnson seemed to be much gratified by thisjust and well-turned compliment.

He recommended to me to keep a journal of my lifefull and unreserved. Hesaid it would be a very good exerciseand would yield me great satisfactionwhen the particulars were faded from my remembrance. I was uncommonly fortunatein having had a previous coincidence of opinion with him upon this subjectforI had kept such a journal for some time; and it was no small pleasure to me tohave this to tell himand to receive his approbation. He counselled me to keepit privateand said I might surely have a friend who would burn it in case ofmy death. From this habit I have been enabled to give the world so manyanecdoteswhich would otherwise have been lost to posterity. I mentioned that Iwas afraid I put into my journal too many little incidents. JOHNSON. "Thereis nothingSirtoo little for so little a creature as man. It is by studyinglittle things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and asmuch happiness as possible."

Next morning Mr. Dempster happened to call on meand was so much struck evenwith the imperfect account which I gave him of Dr. Johnson's conversationthatto his honour be it recordedwhen I complained that drinking port and sittingup late with himaffected my nerves for some time afterhe said"One hadbetter be palsied at eighteen than not keep company with such a man."

On TuesdayJuly 18I found tall Sir Thomas Robinson sitting with Johnson.Sir Thomas saidthat the King of Prussia valued himself upon three things;-upon being a heroa musicianand an authour. JOHNSON. "Pretty wellSirfor one man. As to his being an authourI have not looked at his poetry; buthis prose is poor stuff. He writes just as you may suppose Voltaire's foot-boyto dowho has been his amanuensis. He has such parts as the valet might haveand about as much of the colouring of the style as might be got by transcribinghis works." When I was at FerneyI repeated this to Voltairein order toreconcile him somewhat to Johnsonwhom hein affecting the English mode ofexpressionhad previously characterised as "a superstitious dog;" butafter hearing such a criticism on Frederick the Greatwith whom he was then onbad termshe exclaimed"An honest fellow!"

But I think the criticism much too severe; for the "Memoirs of the Houseof Brandenburgh" are written as well as many works of that kind. Hispoetryfor the style of which he himself makes a frank apology"Jargonnant un Francois barbare" though fraught with perniciousravings of infidelityhasin many placesgreat animationand in some apathetick tenderness.

Upon this contemptuous animadversion on the King of PrussiaI observed toJohnson"It would seem thenSirthat much less parts are necessary tomake a Kingthan to make an Authour: for the King of Prussia is confessedly thegreatest King now in Europeyet you think he makes a very poor figure as anAuthour."

Mr. Levet this day showed me Dr. Johnson's librarywhich was contained intwo garrets over his Chamberswhere Lintotson of the celebrated bookseller ofthat namehad formerly his warehouse. I found a number of good booksbut verydusty and in great confusion. The floor was strewed with manuscript leavesinJohnson's own hand-writingwhich I beheld with a degree of venerationsupposing they perhaps might contain portions of the Rambleror of Rasselas. Iobserved an apparatus for chymical experimentsof which Johnson was all hislife very fond. The place seemed to be very favourable for retirement andmeditation. Johnson told methat he went up thither without mentioning it tohis servant when he wanted to studysecure from interruption; for he would notallow his servant to say he was not at home when he really was. "Aservant's strict regard for truth(said he) must be weakened by such apractice. A philosopher may know that it is merely a form of denial; but fewservants are such nice distinguishers. If I accustom a servant to tell a lie formehave I not reason to apprehend that he will tell many lies for himself?" I amhoweversatisfied that every servantof any degree ofintelligenceunderstands saying his master is not at homenot at all as theaffirmation of a factbut as the customary wordsintimating that his masterwishes not to be seen; so that there can be no bad effect from it.

Mr. Templenow vicar of St. GluviasCornwallwho had been my intimatefriend for many yearshad at this time chambers in Farrar's-buildingsat thebottom of Inner Temple-lanewhich he kindly lent me upon my quitting mylodgingshe being to return to Trinity HallCambridge. I found themparticularly convenient for meas they were so near Dr. Johnson's.

On WednesdayJuly 20Dr. JohnsonMr. Dempsterand my uncle Dr. Boswellwho happened to be now in Londonsupped with me at these Chambers. JOHNSON."Pity is not natural to man. Children are always cruel. Savages are alwayscruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may haveuneasy sensations for seeing a creature in distresswithout pity; for we havenot pity unless we wish to relieve them. When I am on my way to dine with afriendand finding it latehave bid the coachman make hasteif I happen toattend when he whips his horsesI may feel unpleasantly that the animals areput to painbut I do not wish him to desist. NoSirI wish him to driveon."

Mr. Alexander Donaldsonbooksellerof Edinburghhad for some time opened ashop in Londonand sold his cheap editions of the most popular English booksin defiance of the supposed common-law right of Literary Property. Johnsonthough he concurred in the opinion which was afterwards sanctioned by ajudgement of the House of Lordsthat there was no such rightwas at this timevery angry that the Booksellers of Londonfor whom he uniformly professed muchregardshould suffer from an invasion of what they had ever considered to besecure; and he was loud and violent against Mr. Donaldson. "He is a fellowwho takes advantage of the law to injure his brethren; for notwithstanding thatthe statute secures only fourteen years of exclusive rightit has always beenunderstood by the tradethat hewho buys the copyright of a book from theauthourobtains a perpetual property; and upon that beliefnumberless bargainsare made to transfer that property after the expiration of the statutory term.Now DonaldsonI saytakes advantage hereof people who have really anequitable title from usage; and if we consider how few of the booksof whichthey buy the propertysucceed so well as to bring profitwe should be ofopinion that the term of fourteen years is too short; it should be sixtyyears." DEMPSTER. "DonaldsonSiris anxious for the encouragement ofliterature. He reduces the price of booksso that poor students may buythem." JOHNSON (laughing). "WellSirallowing that to be his motivehe is no better than Robin Hoodwho robbed the rich in order to give to thepoor."

It is remarkablethat when the great question concerning Literary Propertycame to be ultimately tried before the supreme tribunal of this countryinconsequence of the very spirited exertions of Mr. DonaldsonDr. Johnson waszealous against a perpetuity; but he thought that the term of the exclusiveright of authours should be considerably enlarged. He was then for granting ahundred years.

The conversation now turned upon Mr. David Hume's style. JOHNSON. "WhySirhis style is not English; the structure of his sentences is French. Now theFrench structure and the English structure mayin the nature of thingsbeequally good. But if you allow that the English language is establishedhe iswrong. My name might originally have been Nicholsonas well as Johnson; butwere you to call me Nicholson nowyou would call me very absurdly."

Rousseau's treatise on the inequality of mankind was at this time afashionable topick. It gave rise to an observation by Mr. Dempsterthat theadvantages of fortune and rank were nothing to a wise manwho ought to valueonly merit. JOHNSON. "If man were savageliving in the woods by himselfthis might be true; but in civilised society we all depend upon each otherandour happiness is very much owing to the good opinion of mankind. NowSirincivilized societyexternal advantages make us more respected. A man with a goodcoat upon his back meets with a better reception than he who has a bad one. Siryou may analyse thisand say what is there in it? But that will avail younothingfor it is a part of a general system. Pound St. Paul's church intoatomsand consider any single atom; it isto be suregood for nothing; butput all these atoms togetherand you have St. Paul's church. So it is withhuman felicitywhich is made up of many ingredientseach of which may be shewnto be very insignificant. In civilised societypersonal merit will not serveyou so much as money will. Siryou may make the experiment. Go into the streetand give one man a lecture on moralityand another a shillingand see whichwill respect you most. If you wish only to support natureSir William Pettyfixes your allowance at three pounds a year; but as times are much alteredletus call it six pounds. This sum will fill your bellyshelter you from theweatherand even get you a strong lasting coatsupposing it to be made of goodbull's hide. NowSirall beyond this is artificialand is desired in order toobtain a greater degree of respect from our fellow-creatures. AndSirif sixhundred pounds a year procure a man more consequenceandof coursemorehappiness than six pounds a yearthe same proportion will hold as to sixthousandand so onas far as opulence can be carried. Perhaps he who has alarge fortune may not be so happy as he who has a small one; but that mustproceed from other causes than from his having the large fortune: forcaeterisparibushe who is rich in a civilised societymust he happier than he who ispoor; as richesif properly used(and it is a man's own fault if they arenot) must be productive of the highest advantages. Moneyto be sureof itselfis of no use; for its only use is to part with it. Rousseauand all those whodeal in paradoxesare led away by a childish desire of novelty. * When I was aboyI used always to choose the wrong side of a debatebecause most ingeniousthingsthat is to saymost new thingscould be said upon it. Sirthere isnothing for which you may not muster up more plausible argumentsthan thosewhich are urged against wealth and other external advantages. Whynowthere isstealing; why should it be thought a crime? When we consider by what unjustmethods property has been often acquiredand that what was unjustly got it mustbe unjust to keepwhere is the harm in one man's taking the property of anotherfrom him? BesidesSirwhen we consider the bad use that many people make oftheir propertyand how much better use the thief may make of itit may bedefended as a very allowable practice. YetSirthe experience of mankind hasdiscovered stealing to be so very bad a thingthat they make no scruple to hanga man for it. When I was running about this town a very poor fellowI was agreat arguer for the advantages of poverty; but I wasat the same timeverysorry to be poor. Sirall the arguments which are brought to represent povertyas no evilshew it to be evidently a great evil. You never find peoplelabouring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentifulfortune.- So you hear people talking how miserable a King must be; and yet theyall wish to be in his place." -

* [Johnson told Dr. Burney that Goldsmith saidwhen he first began to writehe determined to commit to paper nothing but what was new; but he afterwardsfound that what was new was generally falseand from that time was no longersolicitous about novelty.- BURNEY.] -

It was suggested that Kings must be unhappybecause they are deprived of thegreatest of all satisfactionseasy and unreserved society. JOHNSON. "Thatis an ill-founded notion. Being a King does not exclude a man from such society.Great Kings have always been social. The King of Prussiathe only great King atpresentis very social. Charles the Secondthe last King of England who was aman of partswas social; and our Henrys and Edwards were all social."

Mr. Dempster having endeavoured to maintain that intrinsick merit ought tomake the only distinction amongst mankind. JOHNSON. "WhySirmankind havefound that this cannot be. How shall we determine the proportion of intrinsickmerit? Were that to be the only distinction amongst mankindwe should soonquarrel about the degrees of it. Were all distinctions abolishedthe strongestwould not long acquiescebut would endeavour to obtain a superiority by theirbodily strength. ButSiras subordination is very necessary for societyandcontentions for superiority very dangerousmankindthat is to sayallcivilised nationshave settled it upon a plain invariable principle. A man isborn to hereditary rank; or his being appointed to certain officesgives him acertain rank. Subordination tends greatly to human happiness. Were we all uponan equalitywe should have no other enjoyment than mere animal pleasure."

I saidI considered distinction of rank to be of so much importance incivilised societythat if I were asked on the same day to dine with the firstDuke in Englandand with the first man in Britain for geniusI should hesitatewhich to prefer. JOHNSON. "To be sureSirif you were to dine only onceand it were never to be known where you dinedyou would choose rather to dinewith the first man for genius; but to gain most respectyou should dine withthe first Duke in England. For nine people in ten that you meet withwould havea higher opinion of you for having dined with a Duke; and the great geniushimself would receive you betterbecause you had been with the greatDuke."

He took care to guard himself against any possible suspicion that his settledprinciples of reverence for rank and respect for wealth were at all owing tomean or interested motives; for he asserted his own independence as a literaryman. "No man (said he) who ever lived by literaturehas lived moreindependently than I have done." He said he had taken longer time than heneeded to have done in composing his Dictionary. He received our complimentsupon that great work with complacencyand told us that the Academy della Cruscacould scarcely believe that it was done by one man.

Next morning I found him aloneand have preserved the following fragments ofhis conversation. Of a gentleman who was mentionedhe said"I have notmet with any man for a long time who has given me such general displeasure. Heis totally unfixed in his principlesand wants to puzzle other people." Isaid his principles had been poisoned by a noted infidel writerbut that hewasneverthelessa benevolent good man. JOHNSON. "We can have nodependance upon that instinctivethat constitutional goodness which is notfounded upon principle. I grant you that such a man may be a very amiable memberof society. I can conceive him placed in such a situation that he is not muchtempted to deviate from what is right; and as every man prefers virtuewhenthere is not some strong incitement to transgress its preceptsI can conceivehim doing nothing wrong. But if such a man stood in need of moneyI should notlike to trust him; and I should certainly not trust him with young ladiesforthere there is always temptation. Humeand other sceptical innovatorsare vainmenand will gratify themselves at any expence. Truth will not affordsufficient food to their vanity; so they have betakenthemselves to errour.TruthSiris a cow which will yield such people no more milkand so they aregone to milk the bull. If I could have allowed myself to gratify my vanity atthe expence of truthwhat fame might I have acquired. Every thing which Humehas advanced against Christianity had passed through my mind long before hewrote. Always remember thisthat after a system is well settled upon positiveevidencea few partial objections ought not to shake it. The human mind is solimitedthat it cannot take in all the parts of a subjectso that there may beobjections raised against any thing. There are objections against a plenumandobjections against a vacuum; yet one of them must certainly be true."

I mentioned Hume's argument against the belief of miraclesthat it is moreprobable that the witnesses to the truth of them are mistakenor speak falselythan that the miracles should be true. JOHNSON. "WhySirthe greatdifficulty of proving miracles should make us very cautious in believing them.But let us consider; although GOD has made Nature to operate by certain fixedlawsyet it is not unreasonable to think that he may suspend those lawsinorder to establish a system highly advantageous to mankind. Now the ChristianReligion is a most beneficial systemas it gives us light and certainty wherewe were before in darkness and doubt. The miracles which prove it are attestedby men who had no interest in deceiving us; but whoon the contrarywere toldthat they should suffer persecutionand did actually lay down their lives inconfirmation of the truth of the facts which they asserted. Indeedfor somecenturies the heathens did not pretend to deny the miracles; but said they wereperformed by the aid of evil spiritsThis is a circumstance of great weight.ThenSirwhen we take the proofs derived from prophecies which have been soexactly fulfilledwe have most satisfactory evidence. Supposing a miraclepossibleas to whichin my opinionthere can be no doubtwe have as strongevidence for the miracles in support of Christianityas the nature of the thingadmits."

At nightMr. Johnson and I supped in a private room at the Turk's Headcoffee-housein the Strand. "I encourage this house (said he) for themistress of it is a good civil womanand has not much business."

"SirI love the acquaintance of young people; becausein the firstplaceI don't like to think myself growing old. In the next placeyoungacquaintances must last longestif they do last; and thenSiryoung men havemore virtue than old men; they have more generous sentiments in every respect. Ilove the young dogs of this agethey have more wit and humour and knowledge oflife than we had; but then the dogs are not so good scholars. Sirin my earlyyears I read very hard. It is a sad reflection but a true onethat I knewalmost as much at eighteen as I do now. * My judgementto be surewas not sogood; butI had all the facts. I remember very wellwhen I was at Oxfordanold gentleman said to me'Young manply your book diligently nowand acquirea stock of knowledge; for when years come upon youyou will find that poringupon books will be but an irksome task.'" -

* [His great period of study was from the age of twelve to that of eighteen;as he told Mr. Langtonwho gave me this information.- M.] -

This account of his readinggiven by himself in plain wordssufficientlyconfirms what I have already advanced upon the disputed question as to hisapplication. It reconciles any seeming inconsistency in his way of talking uponit at different times; and shews that idleness and reading hard were with himrelative termsthe import of whichas used by himmust be gathered from acomparison with what scholars of different degrees of ardour and assiduity havebeen known to do. And let it be rememberedthat he was now talkingspontaneouslyand expressing his genuine sentiments; whereas at other times hemight be inducedfrom his spirit of contradictionor more properly from hislove of argumentative contestto speak lightly of his own application to study.It is pleasing to consider that the old gentleman's gloomy prophecy as to theirksomeness of books to men of an advanced agewhich is too often fulfilledwas so far from being verified in Johnsonthat his ardour for literature neverfailedand his last writings had more ease and vivacity than any of his earlierproductions.

He mentioned to me nowfor the first timethat he had been distrest bymelancholyand for that reason had been obliged to fly from study andmeditationto the dissipating variety of life. Against melancholy herecommended constant occupation of minda great deal of exercisemoderation ineating and drinkingand especially to shun drinking at night. He saidmelancholy people were apt to fly to intemperance for reliefbut that it sunkthem much deeper in misery. He observedthat labouring men who work hardandlive sparinglyare seldom or never troubled with low spirits.

He again insisted on the duty of maintaining subordination of rank."SirI would no more deprive a nobleman of his respectthan of his money.I consider myself as acting a part in the great system of societyand I do toothers as I would have them to do to me. I would behave to a nobleman as Ishould expect he would behave to mewere I a nobleman and he Sam. Johnson. Sirthere is one Mrs. Macaulay * in this towna great republican. One day when Iwas at her houseI put on a very grave countenanceand said to her'MadamIam now become a convert to your way of thinking. I am convinced that all mankindare upon an equal footing; and to give you an unquestionable proofMadamthatI am in earnesthere is a very sensiblecivilwell-behaved fellow-citizenyour footman; I desire that he may be allowed to sit down and dine with us.' IthusSirshewed her the absurdity of the levelling doctrine. She has neverliked me since. Siryour levellers wish to level down as far as themselves; butthey cannot bear levelling up to themselves. They would all have some peopleunder them; why not then have some people above them?" I mentioned acertain authour who disgusted me by his forwardnessand by shewing no deferenceto noblemen into whose company he was admitted. JOHNSON. "Suppose ashoemaker should claim an equality with himas he does with a Lord: how hewould stare. 'WhySirdo you stare? (says the shoemaker) I do great serviceto society. 'Tis trueI am paid for doing it; but so are youSir: and I amsorry to say itbetter paid than I amfor doing something not so necessary.For mankind could do better without your booksthan without my shoes.' ThusSirthere would be a perpetual struggle for precedencewere there no fixedinvariable rules for the distinction of rankwhich creates no jealousyas itis allowed to be accidental." -

* This one Mrs. Macaulay was the same personage who afterwards made herselfso much known as "the celebrated female historian." -

He saidDr. Joseph Warton was a very agreeable manand his "Essay onthe Genius and Writings of Pope" a very pleasing book. I wondered that hedelayed so long to give us the continuation of it. JOHNSON. "WhySirIsuppose he finds himself a little disappointedin not having been able topersuade the world to be of his opinion as to Pope."

We have now been favoured with the concluding volumein whichto use aparliamentary expressionhe has explainedso as not to appear quite so adverseto the opinion of the worldconcerning Popeas was at first thought; and wemust all agreethat his work is a most valuable accession to Englishliterature.

A writer of deserved eminence being mentionedJohnson said"WhySirhe is a man of good partsbut being originally poorhe has got a love of meancompany and low jocularity; a very bad thingSir. To laugh is goodand to talkis good. But you ought no more to think it enough if you laughthan you are tothink it enough if you talk. You may laugh in as many ways as you talk; andsurely every way of talking that is practised cannot be esteemed."

I spoke of Sir James Macdonald as a young man of most distinguished meritwho united the highest reputation at Eton and Oxfordwith the patriarchalspirit of a great Highland Chieftain. I mentioned that Sir James had said to methat he had never seen Mr. Johnsonbut he had a great respect for himthoughat the same time it was mixed with some degree of terrour. JOHNSON. "Sirif he were to be acquainted with meit might lessen both."

The mention of this gentleman led us to talk of the Western Islands ofScotlandto visit which he expressed a wish that then appeared to be a veryromantick fancywhich I little thought would be afterwards realised. He toldmethat his father had put Martin's account of those islands into his handswhen he was very youngand that he was highly pleased with it; that he wasparticularly struck with the St. Kilda man's notion that the high church ofGlasgow had been hollowed out of a rock; a circumstance to which old Mr. Johnsonhad directed his attention. He saidhe would go to the Hebrides with mewhen Ireturned from my travelsunless some very good companion should offer when Iwas absentwhich he did not think probable; adding"There are few peoplewhom I take so much toas you." And when I talked of my leaving Englandhe said with a very affectionate air"My dear BoswellI should be veryunhappy at partingdid I think we were not to meet again."- I cannot toooften remind my readersthat although such instances of his kindness aredoubtless very flattering to meyet I hope my recording them will be ascribedto a better motive than to vanity; for they afford unquestionable evidence ofhis tenderness and complacencywhich somewhile they were forced toacknowledge his great powershave been so strenuous to deny.

He maintained that a boy at school was the happiest of human beings. Isupported a different opinionfrom which I have never yet variedthat a man ishappier: and I enlarged upon the anxiety and sufferings which are endured atschool. JOHNSON. "Ah! Sira boy's being flogged is not so severe as aman's having the hiss of the world against him. Men have a solicitude aboutfame; and the greater share they have of itthe more afraid they are of losingit." I silently asked myself"Is it possible that the great SAMUELJOHNSON really entertains any such apprehensionand is not confident that hisexalted fame is established upon a foundation never to be shaken?"

He this evening drank a bumper to Sir David Dalrymple"as a man ofwortha scholarand a wit." "I have (said he) never heard of himexcept from you; but let him know my opinion of him: for as he does not shewhimself much in the worldhe should have the praise of the few who hear ofhim."

On TuesdayJuly 26I found Mr. Johnson alone. It was a very wet dayand Iagain complained of the disagreeable effects of such weather. JOHNSON."Sirthis is all imaginationwhich physicians encourage; for man lives inairas a fish lives in waterso that if the atmosphere press heavy from abovethere is an equal resistance from below. To be surebad weather is hard uponpeople who are obliged to be abroad; and men cannot labour so well in the openair in bad weatheras in good: butSira smith or a taylorwhose work iswithin doorswill surely do as much in rainy weatheras in fair. Some verydelicate framesindeedmay be affected by wet weather; but not commonconstitutions."

We talked of the education of children; and I asked him what he thought wasbest to teach them first. JOHNSON. "Sirit is no matter what you teachthem firstany more than what leg you shall put into your breeches first. Siryou may stand disputing which is best to put in firstbut in the mean time yourbreech is bare. Sirwhile you are considering which of two things you shouldteach your child firstanother boy has learnt them both."

On ThursdayJuly 28we again supped in private at the Turk's Headcoffee-house. JOHNSON. "Swift has a higher reputation than he deserves. Hisexcellence is strong sense; for his humourthough very wellis not remarkablygood. I doubt whether the 'Tale of a Tub' be his; for he never owned itand itis much above his usual manner." * -

* This opinion was given by him more at large at a subsequent period. See"Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides." 3rd edit. p. 32 (Aug 16). -

"ThomsonI thinkhad as much of the poet about him as most writers.Everything appeared to him through the medium of his favourite pursuit. He couldnot have viewed those two candles burning but with a poetical eye."

"Has not __ a great deal of witSir?" JOHNSON. "I do notthink soSir. He isindeedcontinually attempting witbut he fails. And Ihave no more pleasure in hearing a man attempting wit and failingthan inseeing a man trying to leap over a ditch and tumbling into it."

He laughed heartily when I mentioned to him a saying of his concerning Mr.Thomas Sheridanwhich Foote took a wicked pleasure to circulate. "WhySirSherry is dullnaturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal ofpains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupiditySiris not inNature."- "So (said he) I allowed him all his own merit."

He now added"Sheridan cannot bear me. I bring his declamation to apoint. I ask him a plain question'What do you mean to teach?' BesidesSirwhat influence can Mr. Sheridan have upon the language of this great countrybyhis narrow exertions? Sirit is burning a farthing candle at Doverto shewlight at Calais."

Talking of a young man who was uneasy from thinking that he was verydeficient in learning and knowledgehe said"A man has no reason tocomplain who holds a middle placeand has many below him; and perhaps he hasnot six of his years above him;- perhaps not one. Though he may not know anything perfectlythe general mass of knowledge that he has acquired isconsiderable. Time will do for him all that is wanting."

The conversation then took a philosophical turn. JOHNSON. "Humanexperiencewhich is constantly contradicting theoryis the great test oftruth. A systembuilt upon the discoveries of a great many mindsis always ofmore strengththan what is produced by the mere workings of any one mindwhichof itselfcan do little. There is not so poor a book in the world thatwould not be a prodigious effort were it wrought out entirely by a single mindwithout the aid of prior investigators. The French writers are superficialbecause they are not scholarsand so proceed upon the mere power of their ownminds; and we see how very little power they have."

"As to the Christian ReligionSirbesides the strong evidence which wehave for itthere is a balance in its favour from the number of great men whohave been convinced of its truthafter a serious consideration of the question.Grotius was an acute mana lawyera man accustomed to examine evidenceand hewas convinced. Grotius was not a reclusebut a man of the worldwho certainlyhad no bias to the side of religion. Sir Isaac Newton set out an infidelandcame to be a very firm believer."

He this evening again recommended to me to perambulate Spain. * I said itwould amuse him to get a letter from me dated at Salamancha. JOHNSON. "Ilove the University of Salamancha; for when the Spaniards were in doubt as tothe lawfulness of their conquering Americathe University of Salamancha gave itas their opinion that it was not lawful." He spoke this with great emotionand with that generous warmth which dictated the lines in his"London" against Spanish encroachment. -

* I fully intended to have followed advice of such weight; but having staidmuch longer both in Germany and Italy than I proposed to doand having alsovisited CorsicaI found that I had exceeded the time allowed me by my fatherand hastened to France in my way homewards. -

I expressed my opinion of my friend Derrick as but a poor writer. JOHNSON."To be sureSirhe is: but you are to consider that his being a literaryman has got for him all that he has. It has made him King of Bath. Sirhe hasnothing to say for himself but that he is a writer. Had he not been a writerhemust have been sweeping the crossings in the streetsand asking halfpence fromeverybody that past."

In justicehoweverto the memory of Mr. Derrickwho was my first tutor inthe ways of Londonand shewed me the town in all its variety of departmentsboth literary and sportivethe particulars of which Dr. Johnson advised me toput in writingit is proper to mention what Johnsonat a subsequent periodsaid of him both as a writer and an editor: "SirI have often saidthatif Derrick's letters had been written by one of a more established nametheywould have been thought very pretty letters." * And"I sent Derrickto Dryden's relations to gather materials for his life; and I believe he got allthat I myself should have got." *(2) -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit. p. 104 (Aug 27).

*(2) Ibid. p. 142 (Sept 22). -

Poor Derrick! I remember him with kindness. Yet I cannot withhold from myreaders a pleasant humourous sally which could not have hurt him had he beenaliveand now is perfectly harmless. In his collection of poemsthere is oneupon entering the harbour of Dublinhis native cityafter a long absence. Itbegins thus: -

"Eblana! much lov'd cityhail!

Where first I saw the light of day." -

And after a solemn reflection on his being "numbered with forgottendead" there is the following stanza: -

"Unless my lines protract my fame

And thosewho chance to read themcry

I knew him! Derrick was his name

In yonder tomb his ashes lie." -

which was thus happily parodied by Mr. John Hometo whom we owe thebeautiful and pathetick tragedy of "Douglas:" -

"Unless my deeds protract my fame

And he who passes sadly sings

I knew him! Derrick was his name

On yonder tree his carcase swings!" -

I doubt much whether the amiable and ingenious authour of these burlesquelines will recollect them; for they were produced extempore one evening while heand I were walking together in the dining-room at Eglingtoune Castlein 1760and I have never mentioned them to him since.

Johnson said once to me"SirI honour Derrick for his presence ofmind. One nightwhen Floyd* another poor authourwas wandering about thestreets in the nighthe found Derrick fast asleep upon a bulk; upon beingsuddenly wakedDerrick started up'My dear FloydI am sorry to see you inthis destitute state: will you go home with me to my lodgings?' " -

* He published a biographical workcontaining an account of eminent writersin 3 vols. 8vo. -

I again begged his advice as to my method of study at Utrecht. "Come(said he) let us make a day of it. Let us go down to Greenwich and dineandtalk of it there." The following Saturday was fixed for this excursion.

As we walked along the Strand to-nightarm in arma woman of the townaccosted usin the usual enticing manner. "Nonomy girl(said Johnson)it won't do." Hehoweverdid not treat her with harshness; and we talkedof the wretched life of such womenand agreedthat much more misery thanhappinessupon the wholeis produced by illicit commerce between the sexes.

On SaturdayJuly 30Dr. Johnson and I took a sculler at the Temple-stairsand set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of theGreek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. JOHNSON."Most certainlySir; for those who know them have a very great advantageover those who do not. NaySirit is wonderful what a difference learningmakes upon people even in the common intercourse of lifewhich does not appearto be much connected with it." "And yet(said I) people go throughthe world very welland carry on the business of life to good advantagewithout learning." JOHNSON. "WhySirthat may be true in cases wherelearning cannot possibly be of any use; for instancethis boy rows us as wellwithout learningas if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonautswhowere the first sailors." He then called to the boy"What would yougivemy ladto know about the Argonauts?" "Sir(said the boy) Iwould give what I have." Johnson was much pleased with his answerand wegave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me"Sir(said he) adesire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human beingwhose mind is not debauchedwill be willing to give all that he hasto getknowledge."

We landed at the Old Swanand walked to Billingsgatewhere we took oars andmoved smoothly along the silver Thames. It was a very fine day. We wereentertained with the immense number and variety of ships that were lying atanchorand with the beautiful country on each side of the river.

I talked of preachingand of the great success which those called methodists* have. JOHNSON. "Sirit is owing to their expressing themselves in aplain and familiar mannerwhich is the only way to do good to the commonpeopleand which clergymen of genius and learning ought to do from a principleof dutywhen it is suited to their congregations; a practicefor which theywill be praised by men of sense. To insist against drunkenness as a crimebecause it debases reasonthe noblest faculty of manwould be of no service tothe common people; but to tell them that they may die in a fit of drunkennessand shew them how dreadful that would becannot fail to make a deep impression.Sirwhen your Scotch clergy give up their homely mannerreligion will soondecay in that country." Let this observationas Johnson meant itbe everremembered. -

* All who are acquainted with the history of religion(the most importantsurelythat concerns the human mind) know that the appellation of Methodistswas first given to a society of students in the University of Oxfordwho aboutthe year 1730were distinguished by an earnest and methodical attention todevout exercises. This disposition of mind is not a noveltyor peculiar to anysectbut has beenand still may be foundin many Christians of everydenomination. Johnson himself wasin a dignified mannera Methodist. In hisRamblerNo. 110he mentions with respect "the whole discipline ofregulated piety;" and in his "Prayers and Meditations" manyinstances occur of his anxious examination into his spiritual state. That thisreligious earnestnessand in particular an observation of the influence of theHoly Spirithas sometimes degenerated into follyand sometimes beencounterfeited for base purposescannot be denied. But it is notthereforefair to decry it when genuine. The principal argument in reason and good senseagainst methodism isthat it tends to debase human natureand prevent thegenerous exertions of goodnessby an unworthy supposition that God will pay noregard to them; although it is positively said in the scripturesthat he"will reward every man according to his works." But I am happy to haveit in my power to do justice to those whom it is the fashion to ridiculewithout any knowledge of their tenets; and this I can do by quoting a passagefrom one of their best apologistsMr. Milnerwho thus expresses their doctrineupon this subject: "Justified by faithrenewed in his facultiesandconstrained by the love of Christtheir believer moves in the sphere of loveand gratitudeand all his duties flow more or less from this principle. Andthough they are accumulating for him in heaven a treasure of bliss proportionedto his faithfulness and activityand it is by no means inconsistent with hisprinciples to feel the force of this considerationyet love itself sweetensevery duty to his mind; and he thinks there is no absurdity in his feeling thelove of GOD as the grand commanding principle of his life." Essay onseveral religious Subjects& Joseph MilnerA.M. Master of theGrammar School of Kingston-upon-Hull1789p. 11. -

I was much pleased to find myself with Johnson at Greenwichwhich hecelebrates in his "London" as a favourite scene. I had the poem in mypocketand read the lines aloud with enthusiasm: -

"On Thames's banks in silent thought we stood

Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood:

Pleas'd with the seat which gave ELIZA birth

We kneeland kiss the consecrated earth." -

He remarked that the structure of Greenwich hospital was too magnificent fora place of charityand that its parts were too much detachedto make one greatwhole.

Buchananhe saidwas a very fine poet; and observedthat he was the firstwho complimented a ladyby ascribing to her the different perfections of theheathen goddesses; * but that Johnson improved upon thisby making his ladyatthe same timefree from their defects. -

* [Epigram. Lib. II "In Elizabeth. Angliae Reg."- I suspect thatthe authour's memory here deceived him and that Johnson said"the firstmodern poet; "for there is a well known Epigram in the ANTHOLOGIAcontaining this kind of eulogy.- M.] -

He dwelt upon Buchanan's elegant verses to MaryQueen of ScotsNymphaCaledoniae&c. and spoke with enthusiasm of the beauty of Latin verse."All the modern languages (said he) cannot furnish so melodious a line as -

"Formosam resonare doces Amarillida silvas." -

Afterwards he entered upon the business of the daywhich was to give me hisadvice as to a course of study. And here I am to mention with much regretthatmy record of what he said is miserably scanty. I recollect with admiration ananimating blaze of eloquencewhich roused every intellectual power in me to thehighest pitchbut must have dazzled me so muchthat my memory could notpreserve the substance of his discourse; for the note which I find of it is nomore than this:- "He ran over the grand scale of human knowledge; advisedme to select some particular branch to excel inbut to acquire a little ofevery kind." The defect of my minutes will be fully supplied by a longletter upon the subjectwhich he favoured me withafter I had been some timeat Utrechtand which my readers will have the pleasure to peruse in its properplace.

We walked in the evening in Greenwich Park. He asked meI supposeby way oftrying my disposition"Is not this very fine?" Having no exquisiterelish of the beauties of Natureand being more delighted with "the busyhum of men" I answered"YesSir; but not equal toFleet-street." JOHNSON. "You are rightSir."

I am aware that many of my readers may censure my want of taste. Let mehowevershelter myself under the authority of a very fashionable Baronet * inthe brilliant worldwhoon his attention being called to the fragrance of aMay evening in the countryobserved"This may be very well; but for mypartI prefer the smell of a flambeau at the play-house." -

* My friend Sir Michael Le Fleming. This gentlemanwith all his experienceof sprightly and elegant lifeinheritswith the beautiful family domainnoinconsiderable share of that love of literaturewhich distinguished hisvenerable grandfatherthe Bishop of Carlisle. He one day observed to meof Dr.Johnsonin a felicity of phrase"There is a blunt dignity about him onevery occasion."

[Sir Michael Le Fleming died of an apoplectick fitwhile conversing at theAdmiralty with Lord Howick(now the Earl Grey) May 191806.- M.] -

We staid so long at Greenwichthat our sail up the riverin our return toLondonwas by no means so pleasant as in the morning; for the night air was socold that it made me shiver. I was the more sensible of it from having sat upall the night before recollecting and writing in my Journal what I thoughtworthy of preservation; an exertionwhichduring the first part of myacquaintance with JohnsonI frequently made. I remember having sat up fournights in one weekwithout being much incommoded in the day time.

Johnsonwhose robust frame was not in the least affected by the coldscolded meas if my shivering had been a paltry effeminacysaying"Whydo you shiver?" Sir William Scottof the Commonstold methat when hecomplained of a head-ach in the post-chaiseas they were travelling together toScotlandJohnson treated him in the same manner: "At your ageSirI hadno head-ach." It is not easy to make allowance for sensations in otherswhich we ourselves have not at the time. We must all have experienced how verydifferently we are affected by the complaints of our neighbourswhen we arewell and when we are ill. In full healthwe can scarcely believe that theysuffer much; so faint is the image of pain upon our imagination; when softenedby sicknesswe readily sympathise with the sufferings of others.

We concluded the day at the Turk's Head coffee-house very socially. He waspleased to listen to a particular account which I gave him of my familyand ofits hereditary estateas to the extent and population of which he askedquestionsand made calculations; recommendingat the same timea liberalkindness to the tenantryas people over whom the proprietor was placed byProvidence. He took delight in hearing my description of the romantick seat ofmy ancestors. "I must be thereSir(said he) and we will live in the oldcastle; and if there is not a room in it remainingwe will build one." Iwas highly flatteredbut could scarcely indulge a hope that Auchinleck wouldindeed be honoured by his presenceand celebrated by a descriptionas itafterwards wasin his "Journey to the Western Islands."

After we had again talked of my setting out for Hollandhe said"Imust see thee out of England; I will accompany you to Harwich." I could notfind words to express what I felt upon this unexpected and very great mark ofhis affectionate regard.

Next daySundayJuly 31I told him I had been that morning at a meeting ofthe people called Quakerswhere I had heard a woman preach. JOHNSON. "Sira woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not donewell; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

On TuesdayAugust 2(the day of my departure from London having been fixedfor the 5th) Dr. Johnson did me the honour to pass a part of the morning withme at my Chambers. He saidthat "he always felt an inclination to donothing." I observedthat it was strange to think that the most indolentman in Britain had written the most laborious workTHE ENGLISH DICTIONARY.

I mentioned an imprudent publicationby a certain friend of hisat an earlyperiod of lifeand asked him if he thought it would hurt him. JOHNSON."NoSir; not much. It mayperhapsbe mentioned at an election."

I had now made good my title to be a privileged manand was carried by himin the evening to drink tea with Miss Williams* whomthough under themisfortune of having lost her sightI found to be agreeable in conversation;for she had a variety of literatureand expressed herself well; but herpeculiar value was the intimacy in which she had long lived with Johnsonbywhich she was well acquainted with his habitsand knew how to lead him on totalk. -

* [In a paper already referred to(see anteAetat. 27) a lady who appearsto have been well acquainted with Mrs. Williamsthus speaks of her:

"Mrs. Williams was a person extremely interesting. She had an uncommonfirmness of minda boundless curiosityretentive memoryand strong judgement.She had various powers of pleasing. Her personal afflictions and slender fortuneshe seemed to forgetwhen she had the power of doing an act of kindness: shewas socialcheerfuland activein a state of body that was truly deplorable.Her regard to Dr. Johnson was formed with such strength of judgement and firmesteemthat her voice never hesitated when she repeated his maximsor recitedhis good deeds; though upon many other occasions her want of sight had led herto make so much use of her earas to affect her speech.

"Mrs. Williams was blind before she was acquainted with Dr. Johnson.-She had many resourcesthough none very great. With the Miss Wilkinsons shegenerally passed a part of the yearand received from them presentsand fromthe first who dieda legacy of cloaths and money. The last of themMrs. Janeleft her an annual rent; but from the blundering manner of the WillI fear shenever reaped the benefit of it. The lady left money to erect an hospital forancient maids: but the number she had allotted being too great for the donationthe Doctor [Johnson] saidit would be better to expunge the word maintainandput in to starve such a number of old maids. They asked himWhat name should begiven it? he replied'Let it be called JENNY'S WHIM. [The name of a well-knowntavern near Chelseain former days.]

"Lady Phillips made her a small allowanceand some other Welsh ladiesto all of whom she was related. Mrs. Montagueon the death of Mr. Montaguesettled upon her [by deed] ten pounds per annum.- As near as I can calculateMrs. Williams had about thirty-five or forty pounds a year. The furniture sheused [in her apartment in Dr. Johnson's house] was her own; her expenses weresmalltea and bread and butter being at least half of her nourishment.Sometimes she had a servant or charewoman to do the ruder offices of the house:but she was herself active and industrious. I have frequently seen her at work.Upon remarking one day her facility in moving about the housesearching intodrawersand finding bookswithout the help of sight'Believe me(said she)persons who cannot do those common offices without sightdid but little whilethey enjoyed that blessing.'- Scanty circumstancesbad healthand blindnessare surely a sufficient apology for her being sometimes impatient: her naturaldisposition was goodfriendlyand humane."- M.] -

After tea he carried me to what he called his walkwhich was a long narrowpaved court in the neighbourhoodovershadowed by some trees. There we sauntereda considerable time; and I complained to him that my love of London and of hiscompany was suchthat I shrunk almost from the thought of going away even totravelwhich is generally so much desired by young men. He roused me by manlyand spirited conversation. He advised mewhen settled in any place abroadtostudy with an eagerness after knowledgeand to apply to Greek an hour everyday; and when I was moving aboutto read diligently the great book of mankind.

On WednesdayAugust 3we had our last social evening at the Turk's Headcoffee-housebefore my setting out for foreign parts. I had the misfortunebefore we partedto irritate him unintentionally. I mentioned to him how commonit was in the world to tell absurd stories of himand to ascribe to him verystrange sayings. JOHNSON. "What do they make me saySir?" BOSWELL."WhySiras an instance very strange indeed(laughing heartily as Ispoke) David Hume told meyou said that you would stand before a battery ofcannon to restore the Convocation to its full powers."- Little did Iapprehend that he had actually said this: but I was soon convinced of my errour;forwith a determined lookhe thundered out"And would I notSir? Shallthe Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland have its General Assemblyand the Church ofEngland be denied its Convocation?" He was walking up and down the roomwhile I told him the anecdote; but when he uttered this explosion of high-churchzealhe had come close to my chairand his eye flashed with indignation. Ibowed to the stormand diverted the force of itby leading him to expatiate onthe influence which religion derived from maintaining the church with greatexternal respectability.

I must not omit to mention that he this year wrote "The Life ofAscham" (+) and the Dedication to the Earl of Shaftesbury(+) prefixed tothe edition of that writer's English workspublished by Mr. Bennet.

On FridayAugust 5we set out early in the morning in the Harwichstage-coach. A fat elderly gentlewomanand a young Dutchmanseemed the mostinclined among us to conversation. At the inn where we dinedthe gentlewomansaid that she had done her best to educate her children; andparticularlythatshe had never suffered them to be a moment idle. JOHNSON. "I wishMadamyou would educate me too; for I have been an idle fellow all my life.""I am sureSir(said she) you have not been idle." JOHNSON."NayMadamit is very true; and that gentleman there(pointing to me)has been idle. He was idle at Edinburgh. His father sent him to Glasgowwherehe continued to be idle. He then came to Londonwhere he has been very idle;and now he is going to Utrechtwhere he will be as idle as ever." I askedhim privately how he could expose me so. JOHNSON. "Pohpoh! (said he) theyknew nothing about youand will think of it no more." In the afternoon thegentlewoman talked violently against the Roman Catholicksand of the horroursof the Inquisition. To the utter astonishment of all the passengers but myselfwho knew that he could talk upon any side of a questionhe defended theInquisitionand maintainedthat "false doctrine should be checked on itsfirst appearance; that the civil power should unite with the church in punishingthose who dare to attack the established religionand that such only werepunished by the Inquisition." He had in his pocket "Pomponius Mela deSitu Orbis" in which he read occasionallyand seemed very intent uponancient geography. Though by no means niggardlyhis attention to what wasgenerally right was so minutethat having observed at one of the stages that Iostentatiously gave a shilling to the coachmanwhen the custom was for eachpassenger to give only six-pencehe took me aside and scolded mesaying thatwhat I had done would make the coachman dissatisfied with all the rest of thepassengers who gave him no more than his due. This was a just reprimand; for inwhatever way a man may indulge his generosity or his vanity in spending hismoneyfor the sake of others he ought not to raise the price of any article forwhich there is a constant demand.

He talked of Mr. Blacklock's poetryso far as it was descriptive of visibleobjects; and observedthat "as its authour had the misfortune to be blindwe may be absolutely sure that such passages are combinations of what he hasremembered of the works of other writers who could see. That foolish fellowSpencehas laboured to explain philosophically how Blacklock may have donebymeans of his own facultieswhat it is impossible he should do. The solutionasI have given itis plain. SupposeI know a man to be so lame that he isabsolutely incapable to move himselfand I find him in a different room fromthat in which I left him; shall I puzzle myself with idle conjecturesthatperhapshis nerves have by some unknown change all at once become effective?NoSirit is clear how he got into a different room: he was carried. "

Having stopped a night at ColchesterJohnson talked of that town withvenerationfor having stood a siege for Charles the First. The Dutchman alonenow remained with us. He spoke English tolerably well; and thinking to recommendhimself to us by expatiating on the superiority of the criminal jurisprudence ofthis country over that of Hollandhe inveighed against the barbarity of puttingan accused person to the torturein order to force a confession. But Johnsonwas as ready for thisas for the Inquisition. "WhySiryou do notIfindunderstand the law of your own country. To torture in Holland isconsidered as a favour to an accused person; for no man is put to the torturethereunless there is as much evidence against him as would amount toconviction in England. An accused person among youthereforehas one chancemore to escape punishmentthan those who are tried among us."

At supper this night he talked of good eating with uncommon satisfaction."Some people (said he) have a foolish way of not mindingor pretendingnot to mindwhat they eat. For my partI mind my belly very studiouslyandvery carefully; for I look upon itthat he who does not mind his bellywillhardly mind any thing else." He now appeared to me Jean Bull philosopheand he was for the momentnot only seriousbut vehement. Yet I have heard himupon other occasionstalk with great contempt of people who were anxious togratify their palates; and the 206th number of his Rambler is a masterly essayagainst gulosity. His practiceindeedI must acknowledgemay be considered ascasting the balance of his different opinions upon this subject; for I neverknew any man who relished good eating more than he did. When at tablehe wastotally absorbed in the business of the moment; his looks seemed rivetted to hisplate; nor would heunless when in very high companysay one wordor even paythe least attention to what was said by otherstill he had satisfied hisappetite: which was so fierceand indulged with such intensenessthat while inthe act of eatingthe veins of his forehead swelledand generally a strongperspiration was visible. To those whose sensations were delicatethis couldnot but be disgusting; and it was doubtless not very suitable to the characterof a philosopherwho should be distinguished by self-command. But it must beownedthat Johnsonthough he could be rigidly abstemiouswas not a temperateman either in eating or drinking. He could refrainbut he could not usemoderately. He told methat he had fasted two days without inconvenienceandthat he had never been hungry but once. They who beheld with wonder how much heeat upon all occasionswhen his dinner was to his tastecould not easilyconceive what he must have meant by hunger; and not only was he remarkable forthe extraordinary quantity which he eatbut he wasor affected to bea man ofvery nice discernment in the science of cookery. He used to descant criticallyon the dishes which had been at table where he had dined or suppedand torecollect very minutely what he had liked. I remember when he was in Scotlandhis praising "Gordon's palates" (a dish of palates at the HonourableAlexander Gordon's) with a warmth of expression which might have done honour tomore important subjects. "As for Maclaurin's imitation of a made dishitwas a wretched attempt." He about the same time was so much displeased withthe performances of a nobleman's French cookthat he exclaimed with vehemence"I'd throw such a rascal into the river;" and he then proceeded toalarm a lady at whose house he was to supby the following manifesto of hisskill: "IMadamwho live at a variety of good tablesam a much betterjudge of cookerythan any person who has a very tolerable cookbut lives muchat home; for his palate is gradually adapted to the taste of his cook: whereasMadamin trying by a wider rangeI can more exquisitely judge." Wheninvited to dineeven with an intimate friendhe was not pleased if somethingbetter than a plain dinner was not prepared for him. I have heard him say onsuch an occasion"This was a good dinner enoughto be sure: but it wasnot a dinner to ask a man to." On the other handhe was wont to expresswith great gleehis satisfaction when he had been entertained quite to hismind. One day when he had dined with his neighbour and landlordin Bolt-courtMr. Allenthe printerwhose old housekeeper had studied his taste in everythinghe pronounced this eulogy: "Sirwe could not have had a betterdinnerhad there been a Synod of Cooks. "

While we were left by ourselvesafter the Dutchman had gone to bedDr.Johnson talked of that studied behaviour which many have recommended andpractised. He disapproved of it; and said"I never considered whether Ishould be a grave manor a merry manbut just let inclinationfor the timehave its course."

He flattered me with some hopes that he wouldin the course of the followingsummercome over to Hollandand accompany me in a tour through theNetherlands.

I teased him with fanciful apprehensions of unhappiness. A moth havingfluttered round the candleand burnt itselfhe laid hold of this littleincident to admonish me; sayingwith a sly lookand in a solemn but a quiettone"That creature was its own tormentorand I believe its name wasBOSWELL."

Next day we got to Harwichto dinner; and my passage in the packet-boat toHelvoetsluys being securedand my baggage put on boardwe dined at our inn byourselves. I happened to sayit would be terrible if he should not find aspeedy opportunity of returning to Londonand be confined in so dull a place.JOHNSON. "Don'tSiraccustom yourself to use big words for littlematters. It would not be terriblethough I were to be detained some timehere." The practice of using words of disproportionate magnitudeisnodoubttoo frequent every where; butI thinkmost remarkable among the Frenchof whichall who have travelled in France must have been struck withinnumerable instances.

We went and looked at the churchand having gone into itand walked up tothe altarJohnsonwhose piety was constant and ferventsent me to my kneessaying"Now that you are going to leave your native countryrecommendyourself to the protection of your CREATOR and REDEEMER."

After we came out of the churchwe stood talking for some time together ofBishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matterandthat every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observedthat though we aresatisfied his doctrine is not trueit is impossible to refute it. I never shallforget the alacrity with which Johnson answeredstriking his foot with mightyforce against a large stonetill he rebounded from it- "I refute it thus." * This was a stout exemplification of the first truths of Pere Bouffieror the original principles of Reid and of Beattie; without admitting whichwecan no more argue in metaphysicsthan we can argue in mathematicks withoutaxioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by purereasoning; but I know that the nice and difficult task was to have beenundertaken by one of the most luminous minds of the present agehad notpoliticks "turned him from calm philosophy aside." What an admirabledisplay of subtiltyunited with brilliancemight his contending with Berkeleyhave afforded us! How must wewhen we reflect on the loss of such anintellectual feastregret that he should be characterised as the man-

"Who born for the universe narrow'd his mind

And to party gave up what was meant for mankind?" -

* [Dr. Johnson seems to have been imperfectly acquainted with Berkeley'sdoctrine: as his experiment only proves that we have the sensation of soliditywhich Berkeley did not deny.- He admitted that we had sensations or ideas thatare usually called sensible qualitiesone of which is solidity: he only deniedthe existence of matteri.e. an inert senseless substancein which they aresupposed to subsist.- Johnson's exemplification concurs with the vulgar notionthat solidity is matter.- KEARNEY.] -

My revered friend walked down with me to the beachwhere we embraced andparted with tendernessand engaged to correspond by letters. I said"IhopeSiryou will not forget me in my absence." JOHNSON. "NaySirit is more likely you should forget methan that I should forget you." Asthe vessel put out to seaI kept my eyes upon him for a considerable timewhile he remained rolling his majestic frame in his usual manner; and at last Iperceived him walk back into the townand he disappeared.

Utrecht seeming at first very dull to meafter the animated scenes ofLondonmy spirits were grievously affected; and I wrote to Johnson a plaintiveand desponding letterto which he paid no regard. Afterwardswhen I hadacquired a firmer tone of mindI wrote him a second letterexpressing muchanxiety to hear from him. At length I received the following epistlewhich wasof important service to meandI trustwill be so to many others. -

"A Mr. Mr. BOSWELLa la Cour de l'EmpereurUTRECHT.


"YOU are not to think yourself forgottenor criminally neglectedthatyou have had yet no letter from me. I love to see my friendsto hear from themto talk to themand to talk of them; but it is not without a considerableeffort of resolution that I prevail upon myself to write. I would nothowevergratify my own indolence by the omission of any important dutyor any office ofreal kindness.

"To tell you that I am or am not wellthat I have or have not been inthe countrythat I drank your health in the room in which we last sat togetherand that your acquaintance continue to speak of you with their former kindnesstopicks with which those letters are commonly filled which are written only forthe sake of writingI seldom shall think worth communicating; but if I can haveit in my power to calm any harassing disquietto excite any virtuous desiretorectify any important opinionor fortify any generous resolutionyou need notdoubt but I shall at least wish to prefer the pleasure of gratifying a friendmuch less esteemed than yourselfbefore the gloomy calm of idle vacancy.Whether I shall easily arrive at an exact punctuality of correspondenceIcannot tell. I shallat presentexpect that you will receive this in returnfor two which I have had from you. The firstindeedgave me an account sohopeless of the state of your mindthat it hardly admitted or deserved ananswer; by the second I was much better pleased; and the pleasure will still beincreased by such a narrative of the progress of your studiesas may evince thecontinuance of an equal and rational application of your mind to some usefulenquiry.

"You willperhapswish to askwhat study I would recommend. I shallnot speak of theologybecause it ought not to be considered as a questionwhether you shall endeavour to know the will of GOD.

"I shallthereforeconsider only such studies as we are at liberty topursue or to neglect; and of these I know not how you will make a better choicethan by studying the civil law as your father advisesand the ancientlanguagesas you had determined for yourself; at least resolvewhile youremain in any settled residenceto spend a certain number of hours every dayamongst your books. The dissipation of thought of which you complainis nothingmore than the vacillation of a mind suspended between different motivesandchanging its direction as any motive gains or loses strength. If you can butkindle in your mind any strong desireif you can but keep predominant any wishfor some particular excellence or attainmentthe gusts of imagination willbreak awaywithout any effect upon your conductand commonly without anytraces left upon the memory.

"There lurksperhapsin every human heart a desire of distinctionwhich inclines every man first to hopeand then to believethat nature hasgiven him something peculiar to himself. This vanity makes one mind nurseaversionand another actuate desirestill they rise by art much above theiroriginal state of power; and as affectation in time improves to habitthey atlast tyrannise over him who at first encouraged them only for show. Every desireis a viper in the bosomwhowhile be was chillwas harmless; but when warmthgave him strengthexerted it in poison. You know a gentlemanwhowhen firsthe set his foot in the gay worldas he prepared himself to whirl in the vortexof pleasureimagined a total indifference and universal negligence to be themost agreeable concomitants of youthand the strongest indication of an airytemper and a quick apprehension. Vacant to every objectand sensible of everyimpulsehe thought that all appearance of diligence would deduct something fromthe reputation of genius; and hoped that be should appear to attainamidst allthe ease of carelessnessand all the tumult of diversionthat knowledge andthose accomplishments which mortals of the common fabrick obtain only by muteabstraction and solitary drudgery. He tried this scheme of life awhilewas madeweary of it by his sense and his virtue; he then wished to return to hisstudies; and finding long habits of idleness and pleasure harder to be curedthan he expectedstill willing to retain his claim to some extraordinaryprerogativesresolved the common consequences of irregularity into anunalterable decree of destinyand concluded that Nature had originally formedhim incapable of rational employment.

"Let all such fanciesillusive and destructivebe banishedhenceforward from your thoughts for ever. Resolveand keep your resolution;chooseand pursue your choice. If you spend this day in studyyou will findyourself still more able to study to-morrow; not that you are to expect that youshall at once obtain a complete victory. Depravity is not very easily overcome.Resolution will sometimes relaxand diligence will sometimes be interrupted;but let no accidental surprise or deviationwhether short or longdispose youto despondency. Consider these failings as incident to all mankind. Begin againwhere you left offand endeavour to avoid the seducements that prevailed overyou before.

"Thismy dear Boswellis advice whichperhapshas been often givenyouand given you without effect. But this adviceif you will not take fromothersyou must take from your own reflectionsif you purpose to do the dutiesof the station to which the bounty of Providence has called you.

"Let me have a long letter from you as soon as you can. I hope youcontinue your Journaland enrich it with many observations upon the country inwhich you reside. It will be a favour if you can get me any books in the Frisicklanguageand can enquire how the poor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. Iamdear Sir

"Your most affectionate servant


"LondonDec. 81763." -

I am sorry to observethat neither in my own minutesnor in my letters toJohnson which have been preserved by himcan I find any information how thepoor are maintained in the Seven Provinces. But I shall extract from one of myletters what I learnt concerning the other subject of his curiosity.

"I have made all possible enquiry with respect to the Frisick languageand find that it has been less cultivated than any other of the northerndialects; a certain proof of which is their deficiency of books. Of the oldFrisick there are no remainsexcept some ancient laws preserved by Schotanus inhis 'Beschryvinge van die Heerlykheid van Friesland;' and his 'HistoriaFrisica.' I have not yet been able to find these books. Professor Trotzwhoformerly was of the University of Vranyken in Frieslandand is at presentpreparing an edition of all the Frisick lawsgave me this information. Of themodern Frisickor what is spoken by the boors of this dayI have procured aspecimen. It is Gisbert Japix's 'Rymelerie' which is the only book that theyhave. It is amazing that they have no translation of the bibleno treatises ofdevotionnor even any of the ballads and story-books which are so agreeable tocountry people. You shall have Japix by the first convenient opportunity. Idoubt not to pick up Schotanus. Mynheer Trotz has promised me hisassistance."

1764: AETAT. 55 -

Early in 1764 Johnson paid a visit to the Langton familyat their seat ofLangton in Lincolnshirewhere he passed some timemuch to his satisfaction.His friendBennet Langtonit will not be doubteddid every thing in his powerto make the place agreeable to so illustrious a guest; and the elder Mr. Langtonand his ladybeing fully capable of understanding his valuewere not wantingin attention. Hehowevertold methat old Mr. Langtonthough a man ofconsiderable learninghad so little allowance to make for his occasional"laxity of talk" that because in the course of discussion hesometimes mentioned what might be said in favour of the peculiar tenets of theRomish churchhe went to his grave believing him to be of that communion.

Johnsonduring his stay at Langtonhad the advantage of a good libraryandsaw several gentlemen of the neighbourhood. I have obtained from Mr. Langton thefollowing particulars of this period.

He was now fully convinced that he could not have been satisfied with acountry living; for talking of a respectable clergyman in Lincolnshireheobserved"This manSirfills up the duties of his life well. I approveof himbut could not imitate him."

To a lady who endeavoured to vindicate herself from blame for neglectingsocial attention to worthy neighboursby saying"I would go to them if itwould do them any good;" he said"What goodMadamdo you expect tohave in your power to do them? It is shewing them respectand that is doingthem good."

So socially accommodating was hethat once when Mr. Langton and he weredriving together in a coachand Mr. Langton complained of being sickheinsisted that they should go outand sit on the back of it in the open airwhich they did. And being sensible how strange the appearance must beobservedthat a countryman whom they saw in a field would probably be thinking"Ifthese two madmen should come downwhat would become of me?"

Soon after his return to Londonwhich was in Februarywas founded that CLUBwhich existed long without a namebut at Mr. Garrick's funeral becamedistinguished by the title of THE LITERARY CLUB. Sir Joshua Reynolds had themerit of being the first proposer of itto which Johnson acceded; and theoriginal members wereSir Joshua ReynoldsDr. JohnsonMr. Edmund BurkeDr.NugentMr. BeauclerkMr. LangtonDr. GoldsmithMr. Chamierand Sir JohnHawkins. They met at the Turk's Headin Gerrard-streetSohoone evening inevery weekat sevenand generally continued their conversation till a prettylate hour. This club has been gradually increased to its present numberthirty-five. After about ten yearsinstead of supping weeklyit was resolvedto dine together once a fortnight during the meeting of Parliament. Theiroriginal tavern having been converted into a private housethey moved first toPrince's in Sackville-streetthen to Le Telier's in Dover-streetand now meetat Parsloe'sSt. James's-street. Between the time of its formationand thetime at which this work is passing through the press(June 1792) * thefollowing personsnow deadwere members of it: Mr. Dunning(afterwards LordAshburton) Mr. Samuel DyerMr. GarrickDr. Shipley Bishop of St. AsaphMr.VeseyMr. Thomas Wartonand Dr. Adam Smith. The present members areMr.BurkeMr. LangtonLord CharlemontSir Robert ChambersDr. Percy Bishop ofDromoreDr. Barnard Bishop of KillaloeDr. Marlay Bishop of ClonfertMr. FoxDr. George FordyceSir William ScottSir Joseph BanksSir Charles BunburyMr. Windham of NorfolkMr. Sheridan

Mr. GibbonSir William JonesMr. ColmanMr. SteevensDr. BurneyDr.Joseph WartonMr. MaloneLord OssoryLord SpencerLord LucanLordPalmerstonLord EliotLord MacartneyMr. Richard BurkejuniorSir WilliamHamiltonDr. WarrenMr. CourtenayDr. Hinchliffe Bishop of PeterboroughtheDuke of LeedsDr. Douglas Bishop of Salisburyand the writer of this account.*(2) -

* [The second edition is here spoken of.- M.]

*(2) [THE LITERARY CLUB has since been deprived by death of Dr. HinchliffeBishop of PeterboroughMr. GibbonSir William JonesMr. Richard BurkeMr.ColmanMr. Boswell(the author of this work) the Marquis of BathDr. WarrenMr. Burkethe Rev. Dr. Farmerthe Duke of Leedsthe Earl of LucanJames Earlof CharlemontMr. SteevensDr. WartonMr. LangtonLord PalmerstonDr.FordyceDr. Marlay Bishop of WaterfordSir William HamiltonSir RobertChambersLord ElliotLord MacartneyDr. Barnard Bishop of LimerickMr. FoxDr. Horsley Bishop of St. AsaphDr. Douglas Bishop of Salisburyand Dr. FrenchLawrence. Its latest and its irreparable loss was that of the Right Hon. WilliamWindhamthe delight and admiration of this societyand of every other withwhom he ever associated.- Of the persons above-mentioned some were chosenmembers of itafter the preceding account was written. It has since that timeacquired Sir Charles BlagdenMajor Rennellthe Hon. Frederick Norththe RightHon. George CanningMr. Marsdenthe Right Hon. J. H. Frerethe Right Hon.Thomas Grenvillethe Reverend Dr. VincentDean of WestminsterMr. WilliamLockJun.Mr. George EllisLord Mintothe Right Hon. Sir William GrantMaster of the RollsSir George StauntonBart.Mr. Charles Wilkinsthe RightHon. Sir William DrummondSir Henry HalfordM.D.Sir Henry EnglefieldBart.Henry Lord HollandJohn Earl of AberdeenMr. Charles HatchettMr. CharlesVaughanMr. Humphrey Davyand the Rev. Dr. Burney.- The Clubsome years afterMr. Boswell's deathremoved (in 1799) from Parsloe's to the Thatched House inSt. James's-streetwhere they still continue to meet.

The total number of those who have been members of this clubfrom itsfoundation to the present time(October 1810) isSEVENTY-SIX; of whomFIFTY-FIVE have been authours. Of the seventy-six members above mentionedforty-three are dead; thirty-three living.- M.] -

Sir John Hawkins * represents himself as a "seceder" from thissocietyand assigns as the reason of his "withdrawing" himself fromitthat its late hours were inconsistent with his domestick arrangements. Inthis he is not accurate; for the fact wasthat he one evening attacked Mr.Burkein so rude a mannerthat all the company testified their displeasure;and at their next meeting his reception was suchthat he never came again. *(2)-

* Life of Johnsonp. 425.

*(2) From Sir Joshua Reynolds.

[The Knight having refused to pay his portion of the reckoning for supperbecause he usually eat no supper at homeJohnson observed"Sir JohnSiris a very unclubable man. "- BURNEY.] -

He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr. Garrickof whom he says"he trusted that the least intimation of a desire to come among uswouldprocure him a ready admission; but in this he was mistaken. Johnson consulted meupon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving himexclaimed- 'Hewill disturb us by his buffoonery;'- and afterwards so managed mattersthat hewas never formally proposedandby consequencenever admitted." * -

* Life of Johnsonp. 425. -

In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. JohnsonI think it necessary torectify this mis-statement. The truth isthat not very long after theinstitution of our clubSir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick."I like it much(said he) I think I shall be of you." When SirJoshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnsonhe was much displeased with the actor'sconceit. "He'll be of us(said Johnson) how does he know we will permithim? the first Duke in England has no right to hold such language."Howeverwhen Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwardsJohnsonthough he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogancewarmly and kindlysupported himand he was accordingly elected* was a most agreeable memberand continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death. -

* [Mr. Garrick was elected in March 1773.- M.] -

Mrs. Piozzi * has also given a similar misrepresentation of Johnson'streatment of Garrick in this particularas if he had used these contemptuousexpressions: if Garrick does applyI'll black-ball him.- Surelyone ought tosit in a society like ours-

"Unelbow'd by a gamesterpimpor player." -

* Letters to and from Dr. Johnson. Vol. II. p. 278. -

I am happy to be enabled by such unquestionable authority as that of SirJoshua Reynoldsas well as from my own knowledgeto vindicate at once theheart of Johnson and the social merit of Garrick.

In this yearexcept what he may have done in revising Shakspearewe do notfind that he laboured much in literature. He wrote a review of Grainger's"Sugar Canea Poem" in the London Chronicle. He told methat Dr.Percy wrote the greatest part of this review; butI imaginehe did notrecollect it distinctlyfor it appears to be mostlyif not altogetherhisown. He also wrote in the Critical Reviewan account (+) of Goldsmith'sexcellent poem"The Traveller."

The ease and the independence to which he had at last attained by royalmunificenceincreased his natural indolence. In his "Meditations" hethus accuses himself: "GOOD FRIDAYApril 201764. I have made noreformation; I have lived totally uselessmore sensual in thoughtand moreaddicted to wine and meat." * And next morning he thus feelingly complains:"My indolencesince my last reception of the sacramenthas sunk intogrosser sluggishnessand my dissipation spread into wilder negligence. Mythoughts have been clouded with sensuality; andexcept that from the beginningof this year I havein some measureforborne excess of strong drinkmyappetites have predominated over my reason. A kind of strange oblivion hasoverspread meso that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceivethat incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving anyimpression." He then solemnly says"This is not the life to whichheaven is promised;" *(2) and he earnestly resolves an amendment. -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 50.

*(2) Ibid. p. 51. -

It was his custom to observe certain days with a pious abstraction: vizNew-year's daythe day of his wife's deathGood FridayEaster-dayand hisown birth-day. He this year says"I have now spent fifty-five years inresolving: havingfrom the earliest time almost that I can rememberbeenforming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doingthereforeis pressingsince the time of doing is short. O GODgrant me toresolve arightand to keep my resolutionsfor JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen."* Such a tenderness of consciencesuch a fervent desire of improvementwillrarely be found. It issurelynot decent in those who are hardened inindifference to spiritual improvementto treat this pious anxiety of Johnsonwith contempt. -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 58. -

About this time he was afflicted with a very severe return of thehypochondriack disorderwhich was ever lurking about him. He was so illasnotwithstanding his remarkable love of companyto be entirely averse tosocietythe most fatal symptom of that malady. Dr. Adams told methatas anold friend he was admitted to visit himand that he found him in a deplorablestatesighinggroaningtalking to himselfand restlessly walking from roomto room. He then used this emphatical expression of the misery which he felt:"I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits."

Talking to himself wasindeedone of his singularities ever since I knewhim. I was certain that he was frequently uttering pious ejaculations; forfragments of the Lord's Prayer have been distinctly overheard. * His friend Mr.Thomas Daviesof whom Churchill says-

"That Davies hath a very pretty wife-" -

when Dr. Johnson muttered- "lead us not into temptation" used withwaggish and gallant humour to whisper Mrs. Davies"Youmy dearare thecause of this." -

* [It used to be imagined at Mr. Thrale'swhen Johnson retired to a windowor corner of the roomby perceiving his lips in motionand hearing a murmurwithout audible articulationthat he was praying; but this was not always thecasefor I was onceperhaps unperceived by himwriting at a tableso nearthe place of his retreatthat I heard him repeating some lines in an ode ofHoraceover and over againas if by iteration to exercise the organs ofspeechand fix the ode in his memory:

Audiet cives accuisse ferrum

Quo graves Persae melius perirent

Audiet pugnas.

It was during the American war.- BURNEY.] -

He had another particularityof which none of his friends even ventured toask an explanation. It appeared to me some superstitious habitwhich he hadcontracted earlyand from which he had never called upon his reason todisentangle him. This was his anxious care to go out or in at a door or passageby a certain number of steps from a certain pointor at least so as that eitherhis right or his left foot(I am not certain which) should constantly make thefirst actual movement when he came close to the door or passage. Thus Iconjecture: for I haveupon innumerable occasionsobserved him suddenly stopand then seem to count his steps with a deep earnestness; and when he hadneglected or gone wrong in this sort of magical movementI have seen him goback againput himself in a proper posture to begin the ceremonyandhavinggone through itbreak from his abstractionwalk briskly onand join hiscompanion. A strange instance of something of this natureeven when onhorsebackhappened when he was in the Isle of Sky. * Sir Joshua Reynolds hasobserved him to go a good way aboutrather than cross a particular alley inLeicester-fields; but this Sir Joshua imputed to his having had somedisagreeable recollection associated with it. -

* Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides3rd edit. p. 316 (Oct 12). -

That the most minute singularities which belonged to himand made observableparts of his appearance and mannermay not be omittedit is requisite tomentionthat while talking or even musing as he sat in his chairhe commonlyheld his head to one side towards his right shoulderand shook it in atremulous mannermoving his body backwards and forwardsand rubbing his leftknee in the same directionwith the palm of his hand. In the intervals ofarticulating he made various sounds with his mouth; sometimes as if ruminatingor what is called chewing the cudsometimes giving a half whistlesometimesmaking his tongue play backwards from the roof of his mouthas if clucking likea henand sometimes protruding it against his upper gums in frontas ifpronouncing quickly under his breathtootootoo: all this accompaniedsometimes with a thoughtful lookbut more frequently with a smile. Generallywhen he had concluded a periodin the course of a disputeby which time he wasa good deal exhausted by violence and vociferationhe used to blow out hisbreath like a whale. This I suppose was a relief to his lungs; and seemed in himto be a contemptuous mode of expressionas if he had made the arguments of hisopponent fly like chaff before the wind.

I am fully aware how very obvious an occasion I here give for the sneeringjocularity of such as have no relish of an exact likeness; which to rendercompletehe who draws it must not disdain the slightest strokes. But ifwitlings should be inclined to attack this accountlet them have the candour toquote what I have offered in my defence.

He was for some time in the summer at Easton MauditNorthhamptonshireon avisit to the Reverend Dr. Percynow Bishop of Dromore. Whatever dissatisfactionhe felt at what he considered as a slow progress in intellectual improvementwefind that his heart was tenderand his affections warmas appears from thefollowing very kind letter: -



"I DID not hear of your sickness till I heard likewise of your recoveryand therefore escaped that part of your painwhich every man must feelto whomyou are known as you are known to me.

"Having had no particular account of your disorderI know not in whatstate it has left you. If the amusement of my company can exhilarate the languorof a slow recoveryI will not delay a day to come to you; for I know not how Ican so effectually promote my own pleasure as by pleasing youor my owninterest as by preserving youin whomif I should lose youI should losealmost the only man whom I call a friend.

"Praylet me hear of you from yourself or from dear Miss Reynolds. *Make my compliments to Mr. Mudge. I amdear Sir

"Your most affectionate

"And most humble servant


"At the Rev. Mr. Percy's at Easton


Castle Ashby) Aug. 191764." -

* Sir Joshua's sisterfor whom Johnson had a particular affectionand towhom he wrote many letters which I have seenand which I am sorry her too nicedelicacy will not permit to be published.

1765: AETAT. 56 -

Early in the year 1765 he paid a short visit to the University of Cambridgewith his friend Mr. Beauclerk. There is a lively picturesque account of hisbehaviour on this visitin the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1785being anextract of a letter from the late Dr. John Sharp. The two following sentencesare very characteristical: "He drank his large potations of tea with meinterrupted by many an indignant contradictionand many a noblesentiment."- "Several persons got into his company the last evening atTrinitywhereabout twelvehe began to be very great; stripped poor Mrs.Macaulay to the very skinthen gave her for his toastand drank her in twobumpers."

The strictness of his self-examinationand scrupulous Christian humilityappear in his pious meditation on Easter-day this year.- "I purpose againto partake of the blessed sacrament; yet when I consider how vainly I havehitherto resolved at this annual commemoration of my Saviour's deathtoregulate my life by his lawsI am almost afraid to renew my resolutions."

The concluding words are very remarkableand shew that he laboured under asevere depression of spirits. "Since the last Easter I have reformed noevil habit; my time has been unprofitably spentand seems as a dream that hasleft nothing behind. My memory grows confusedand I know not how the days passover me. Good Lorddeliver me!" * -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 61. -

No man was more gratefully sensible of any kindness done to him than Johnson.There is a little circumstance in his diary this yearwhich shews him in a veryamiable light.

"July 2. I paid Mr. Simpson ten guineaswhich he had formerly lent mein my necessityand for which Tetty expressed her gratitude."

"July 8. I lent Mr. Simpson ten guineas more."

Here he had a pleasing opportunity of doing the same kindness to an oldfriendwhich he had formerly received from him. Indeed his liberality as tomoney was very remarkable. The next article in his diary is"July 16thIreceived seventy-five pounds. Lent Mr. Davies twenty-five."

Trinity CollegeDublinat this time surprised Johnson with a spontaneouscompliment of the highest academical honoursby creating him Doctor of Laws.The diplomawhich is in my possessionis as follows: -

"OMNIBUS ad quos praesentes literae pervenerintsalutem. NosPraepositus et Socii Seniores Collegii sacrosantae et individuae TrinitatisReginaeElizabethae juxta DublintestamurSamueli JohnsonArmigeroobegregiam scriptorum elegantium et utilitatemgratiam concessam fuisse pro graduDoctoratus in utroque Jureoctavo die JuliiAnno Domini millesimoseptingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto. In cujus rei testimonium singulorum manus etsigillum quo in hisce utimur apposuimus; vicesimo tertio die JuliiAnno Dominimillesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo quinto. -




This unsolicited mark of distinctionconferred on so great a literarycharacterdid much honour to the judgement and liberal spirit of that learnedbody. Johnson acknowledged the favour in a letter to Dr. Lelandone of theirnumber; but I have not been able to obtain a copy of it. * -

* [Since the publication of the edition in 1804a copy of this letter hasbeen obligingly communicated to me by John LelandEsq. son to the learnedHistorianto whom it is addressed:



"Among the names subscribed to the degree which I have had the honour ofreceiving from the University of DublinI find none of which I have anypersonal knowledge but those of Dr. Andrews and yourself.

"Men can be estimated by those who know them notonly as they arerepresented by those who know them; and therefore I flatter myself that I owemuch of the pleasure which this distinction gives meto your concurrence withDr. Andrews in recommending me to the learned society.

"Having desired the Provost to return my general thanks to theUniversityI beg that youSirwill accept my particular and immediateacknowledgements.

"I amSir

"Your most obedient and most humble servant



LondonOct. 171765."

I have not been able to recover the letter which Johnson wrote to Dr. Andrewson this occasion.- M.] -

He appears this year to have been seized with a temporary fit of ambitionfor he had thoughts both of studying lawand of engaging in politicks. His"Prayer before the Study of Law" is truly admirable: -

"Sept. 261765.

"Almighty GODthe giver of wisdomwithout whose help resolutions arevainwithout whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable meif it be thy willto attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtfuland instructthe ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I mayuse that knowledge which I shall attainto thy glory and my own salvationforJESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen." * -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 66. -

His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled"Engagingin POLITICS with H__n" no doubthis friendthe Right Honourable WilliamGerard Hamiltonfor whomduring a long acquaintancehe had a great esteemand to whose conversation he once paid this high compliment: "I am veryunwilling to be left aloneSirand therefore I go with my company down thefirst pair of stairsin some hopes that they mayperhapsreturn again; I gowith youSiras far as the street-door." In what particular department heintended to engage* does not appearnor can Mr. Hamilton explain. His prayeris in general terms: "Enlighten my understanding with knowledge of rightand govern my will by thy lawsthat no deceit may mislead menor temptationcorrupt me; that I may always endeavour

to do goodand hinder evil." *(2) There is nothing upon the subject inhis diary. -

* [In the Preface to a late Collection of Mr. Hamilton's Piecesit has beenobservedthat our authour wasby the generality of Johnson's words"ledto suppose that he was seized with a temporary fit of ambitionand that hencehe was induced to apply his thoughts to law and politicks. But Mr. Boswell wascertainly mistaken in this respect; and these words merely allude to Johnson'shaving at that time entered into some engagement with Mr. Hamilton occasionallyto furnish him with his sentiments on the great political topicks which shouldbe considered in parliament." In consequence of this engagementJohnsonin November1766wrote a very valuable tractentitled"Considerationson Corn" which is printed as an Appendix to the works of Mr. Hamiltonpublished by T. Payne in 1808.- M.]

*(2) Prayers and Meditationsp. 67. -

This year was distinguished by his being introduced into the family of Mr.Thraleone of the most eminent brewers in Englandand member of Parliament forthe borough of Southwark. Foreigners are not a little amazedwhen they hear ofbrewersdistillersand men in similar departments of tradeheld forth aspersons of considerable consequence. In this great commercial country it isnatural that a situation which produces much wealth should be considered as veryrespectable; andno doubthonest industry is entitled to esteem. Butperhapsthe too rapid advances of men of low extraction tends to lessen the value ofthat distinction by birth and gentilitywhich has ever been found beneficial tothe grand scheme of subordination. Johnson used to give this account of the riseof Mr. Thrale's father: "He worked at six shillings a week for twenty yearsin the great brewerywhich afterwards was his own. The proprietor of it * hadan only daughterwho was married to a nobleman. It was not fit that a peershould continue the business. On the old man's deaththereforethe brewery wasto be sold. To find a purchaser for so large a property was a difficult matter;andafter some timeit was suggestedthat it would be adviseable to treatwith Thralea sensibleactivehonest manwho had been employed in the houseand to transfer the whole to him for thirty thousand poundssecurity beingtaken upon the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thralepaid the purchase-money. He acquired a large fortuneand lived to be a memberof Parliament for Southwark. *(2) But what was most remarkable was theliberality with which he used his riches. He gave his son and daughters the besteducation. The esteem which his good conduct procured him from the nobleman whohad married his master's daughtermade him to be treated with much attention;and his sonboth at school and at the University of Oxfordassociated withyoung men of the first rank. His allowance from his fatherafter he leftcollegewas splendid; not less than a thousand a year. Thisin a man who hadrisen as old Thrale didwas a very extraordinary instance of generosity. Heused to say'If this young dog does not find so much after I am gone as heexpectslet him remember that he has had a great deal in my own time.'" -

* [The predecessor of old Thrale was Edmund HalseyEsq.; the nobleman whomarried his daughterwas Lord Cobhamgreat uncle of the Marquis of Buckingham.But I believeDr. Johnson was mistaken in assigning so very low an origin toMr. Thrale. The Clerk of St. Alban'sa very aged mantold methat he(theelder Thrale) married a sister of Mr. Halsey. It is at least certain that thefamily of Thrale was of some consideration in that town; in the abbey church isa handsome monument to the memory of Mr. John Thralelate of LondonMerchantwho died in 1704aged 54; Margarethis wifeand three of their children whodied youngbetween the years 1676 and 1690. The arms upon this monument arepaly of eightgules and orimpalingermineon a chief indented vertthreewolves' (or gryphons') headsorcouped at the neck:- Crest on a ducal coroneta treevert.- BLAKEWAY.]

*(2) [In 1733 he served the office of High Sheriff for Surrey; and died April91758.- A. CHALMERS.] -

The sonthough in affluent circumstanceshad good sense enough to carry onhis father's tradewhich was of such extentthat I remember he once told mehe would not quit it for an annuity of ten thousand a year; "Not (said he)that I get ten thousand a year by itbut it is an estate to a family."Having left daughters onlythe property was sold for the immense sum of onehundred and thirty-five thousand pounds; a magnificent proof of what may be doneby fair trade in a long period of time.

There may be some who think that a new system of gentility * might beestablishedupon principles totally different from what have hithertoprevailed. Our present heraldryit may be saidis suited to the barbaroustimes in which it had its origin. It is chiefly founded upon ferocious meritupon military excellence. Whyin civilised timeswe may be askedshould therenot be rank and honoursupon principleswhichindependent of long customarecertainly not less worthyand whichwhen once allowed to be connected withelevation and precedencywould obtain the same dignity in our imagination? Whyshould not the knowledgethe skillthe expertnessthe assiduityand thespirited hazards of trade and commercewhen crowned with successbe entitledto give those flattering distinctions by which mankind are so universallycaptivated? -

* Mrs. Burney informs me that she heard Dr. Johnson say"An EnglishMerchant is a new species of Gentleman." Heperhapshad in his mind thefollowing ingenious passage in "The Conscious Lovers" Act iv. Sceneii.where Mr. Sealand thus addresses Sir John Bevil: "Give me leave tosaythat we merchants are a species of gentry that have grown into the worldthis last centuryand are as honourableand almost as useful as youlanded-folksthat have always thought yourselves so much above us; for yourtrading forsooth is extended no farther than a load of hayor a fat ox.- Youare pleasant people indeed! because you are generally bred up to be lazythereforeI warrant youindustry is dishonourable." -

Such are the speciousbut falsearguments for a proposition which alwayswill find numerous advocatesin a nation where men are every day starting upfrom obscurity to wealth. To refute them is needless. The general sense ofmankind cries outwith irresistible force"Un gentilhomme est toujoursgentilhomme."

Mr. Thrale had married Miss Hester Lynch Salusburyof good Welch extractiona lady of lively talentsimproved by education. That Johnson's introductioninto Mr. Thrale's familywhich contributed so much to the happiness of hislifewas owing to her desire for his conversationis a very probable and thegeneral supposition: but it is not the truth. Mr. Murphywho was intimate withMr. Thralehaving spoken very highly of Dr. Johnsonhe was requested to makethem acquainted. This being mentioned to Johnsonhe accepted of an invitationto dinner at Thrale'sand was so much pleased with his receptionboth by Mr.and Mrs. Thraleand they so much pleased with himthat his invitations totheir house were more and more frequenttill at last he became one of thefamilyand an apartment was appropriated to himboth in their house atSouthwark and in their villa at Streatham.

Johnson had a very sincere esteem for Mr. Thraleas a man of excellentprinciplesa good scholarwell skilled in tradeof a sound understandingandof manners such as presented the character of a plain independent English'Squire. As this family will frequently be mentioned in the course of thefollowing pagesand as a false notion has prevailed that Mr. Thrale wasinferiourand in some degree insignificantcompared with Mrs. Thraleit maybe proper to give a true state of the case from the authority of Johnson himselfin his own words.

"I know no man(said he) who is more master of his wife and familythan Thrale. If he but holds up a fingerhe is obeyed. It is a great mistake tosuppose that she is above him in literary attainments. She is more flippant; buthe has ten times her learning: he is a regular scholar; but her learning is thatof a school-boy in one of the lower forms." My readers may naturally wishfor some representation of the figures of this couple. Mr. Thrale was tallwellproportionedand stately. As for Madamor my Mistressby which epithetsJohnson used to mention Mrs. Thraleshe was shortplumpand brisk. She hasherself given us a lively view of the idea which Johnson had of her persononher appearing before him in a dark-coloured gown: "You little creaturesshould never wear those sort of clotheshowever; they are unsuitable in everyway. What! have not all insects gay colours!" * Mr. Thrale gave his wife aliberal indulgenceboth in the choice of their companyand in the mode ofentertaining them. He understood and valued Johnsonwithout remissionfromtheir first acquaintance to the day of his death. Mrs. Thrale was enchanted withJohnson's conversation for its own sakeand had also a very allowable vanity inappearing to be honoured with the attention of so celebrated a man. -

* Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotesp. 279. -

Nothing could be more fortunate for Johnson than this connection. He had atMr. Thrale's all the comforts and even luxuries of life: his melancholy wasdivertedand his irregular habits lessened by association with an agreeable andwell ordered family. He was treated with the utmost respectand even affection.The vivacity of Mrs. Thrale's literary talk roused him to cheerfulness andexertioneven when they were alone. But this was not often the case; for hefound here a constant succession of what gave him the highest enjoymentthesociety of the learnedthe wittyand the eminent in every way; who wereassembled in numerous companies; called forth his wonderful powersandgratified him with admirationto which no man could be insensible.

In the October of this year * he at length gave to the world his edition ofShakspearewhichif it had no other merit but that of producing his Prefacein which the excellencies and defects of that immortal bard are displayed with amasterly handthe nation would have had no reason to complain. A blindindiscriminate admiration of Shakspeare had exposed the British nation to theridicule of foreigners. Johnsonby candidly admitting the faults of his poethad the more credit in bestowing on him deserved and indisputable praise; anddoubtless none of all his panegyrists have done him half so much honour. Theirpraise was like that of a counselupon his own side of the cause; Johnson's waslike the gravewell consideredand impartial opinion of the judgewhich fallsfrom his lips with weightand is received with reverence. What he did as acommentator has no small share of meritthough his researches were not soampleand his investigations so acute as they might have been; which we nowcertainly know from the labours of other able and ingenious criticks who havefollowed him. He has enriched his edition with a concise account of each playand of his characteristick excellence. Many of his notes have illustratedobscurities in the textand placed passages eminent for beauty in a moreconspicuous light; and he hasin generalexhibited such a mode of annotationas may be beneficial to all subsequent editors. -

* [From a letter written by Dr. Johnson to Dr. Joseph Wartonthe day afterthe publication of his ShakspeareOct. 91765(See Wooll's Memoirs of Dr.Warton4to. 1806) it appears that Johnson spent some time with that gentlemanat Winchester in this year. In a letter written by Dr. Warton to Mr. ThomasWartonnot long afterwards (January 281766) is a paragraph which may throwsome light on various passages in Dr. Warton's edition of Poperelative toJohnson:- "I only dined with Johnsonwho seemed cold and indifferentandscarce said any thing to me: perhaps he has heard what I said of his Shakspeareor rather was offended at what I wrote to him:- as he pleases." The letterhere alluded toit is believedhas not been preserved: at leastit does notappear in the collection above referred to.- M.] -

His Shakspeare was virulently attacked by Mr. William Kenrickwho obtainedthe degree of LL.D. from a Scotch Universityand wrote for the booksellers in agreat variety of branches. Though he certainly was not without considerablemerithe wrote with so little regard to decencyand principlesand decorumand in so hasty a mannerthat his reputation was neither extensive nor lasting.I remember one eveningwhen some of his works were mentionedDr. Goldsmithsaidhe had never heard of them; upon which Dr. Johnson observed"Sirheis one of the many who have made themselves publickwithout making themselvesknown. "

A young student of Oxfordof the name of Barclaywrote an answer toKenrick's review of Johnson's ShakspeareJohnson was at first angry thatKenrick's attack should have the credit of an answer. But afterwardsconsidering the young man's good intentionhe kindly noticed himand probablywould have done morehad not the young man died.

In his Preface to ShakspeareJohnson treated Voltaire very contemptuouslyobservingupon some of his remarks"These are the petty cavils of pettyminds." Voltairein revengemade an attack upon Johnsonin one of hisnumerous literary sallies which I remember to have read; but there being nogeneral index to his voluminous workshave searched in vainand thereforecannot quote it.

Voltaire was an antagonist with whom I thought Johnson should not disdain tocontend. I pressed him to answer. He saidhe perhaps might; but he never did.

Mr. Burney having occasion to write to Johnson for some receipts forsubscriptions to his Shakspearewhich Johnson had omitted to deliver when themoney was paidhe availed himself of that opportunity of thanking Johnson forthe great pleasure which he had received from the perusal of his Preface toShakspeare; whichalthough it excited much clamour against him at firstis nowjustly ranked among the most excellent of his writings. To this letter Johnsonreturned the following answer: -



"I AM Sorry that your kindness to me has brought upon you so muchtroublethough you have taken care to abate that sorrowby the pleasure whichI receive from your approbation. I defend my criticism in the same manner withyou. We must confess the faults of our favouriteto gain credit to our praiseof his excellencies. He that claimseither in himself or for anotherthehonours of perfectionwill surely injure the reputation which he designs toassist.

"Be pleased to make my compliments to your family. I amSir

"Your most obliged

"And most humble servant


"Oct. 161765." -

From one of his Journals I transcribed what follows:

"At churchOct.- 65.

"To avoid all singularity; Bonaventura. *

"To come in before serviceand compose my mind by meditationor byreading some portions of scripture. Tetty.

"If I can hear the sermonto attend itunless attention be moretroublesome than useful."

"To consider the act of prayer as a reposal of myself upon Godand aresignation of all into his holy hand." -

* He was probably proposing to himself the model of this excellent personwho for his piety was named The Seraphick Doctor. -

In 1764 and 1765 it should seem that Dr. Johnson was so busily employed withhis edition of Shakspeareas to have had little leisure for any other literaryexertionorindeedeven for private correspondence. He did not favour me witha single letter for more than two yearsfor which it will appear that heafterwards apologised.

He washoweverat all times ready to give assistance to his friendsandothersin revising their worksand in writing for themor greatly improvingtheir Dedications. In that courtly species of composition no man excelled Dr.Johnson. Though the loftiness of his mind prevented him from ever dedicating inhis own personhe wrote a very great number of Dedications for others. Some ofthesethe persons who were favoured with themare unwilling should bementionedfrom a too anxious apprehensionas I thinkthat they might besuspected of having received larger assistance; and someafter all thediligence I have bestowedhave escaped my enquiries. He told mea great manyyears ago"he believed he had dedicated to all the Royal Familyround;" and it was indifferent to him what was the subject of the workdedicatedprovided it were innocent. He once dedicated some Musick for theGerman Flute to EdwardDuke of York. In writing Dedications for othersheconsidered himself as by no means speaking his own sentiments.

Notwithstanding his long silenceI never omitted to write to himwhen I hadany thing worthy of communicating. I generally kept copies of my letters to himthat I might have a full view of our correspondenceand never be at a loss tounderstand any reference in his letters. He kept the greater part of mine verycarefully; and a short time before his death was attentive enough to seal themup in bundlesand order them to be delivered to mewhich was accordingly done.Amongst them I found oneof which I had not made a copyand which I own I readwith pleasure at the distance of almost twenty years. It is dated November1765at the palace of Pascal Paoliin Cortethe capital of Corsicaand isfull of generous enthusiasm. After giving a sketch of what I had seen and heardin that islandit proceeded thus: "I dare to call this a spirited tour. Idare to challenge your approbation."

1766: AETAT. 57 -

This letter produced the following answerwhich I found on my arrival atParis. -

A Mr. Mr. BOSWELLchez Mr. WATERSBanquiera Paris.


"APOLOGIES are seldom of any use. We will delay till your arrival thereasonsgood or badwhich have made me such a sparing and ungratefulcorrespondent. Be assuredfor the presentthat nothing has lessened either theesteem or love with which I dismissed you at Harwich. Both have been increasedby all that I have been told of you by yourself or others; and when you returnyou will return to an unalteredandI hopeunalterable friend.

"All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me.No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour; andthe pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and remarks is so greatthat perhaps no degree of attention or discernment will be sufficient to affordit.

"Come homehoweverand take your chance. I long to see youand tohear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come homeandexpect such welcome as is due to himwhom a wise and noble curiosity has ledwhere perhaps no native of this country ever was before.

"I have no news to tell you that can deserve your notice; nor would Iwillingly lessen the pleasure that any novelty may give you at your return. I amafraid we shall find it difficult to keep among us a mind which has been so longfeasted with variety. But let us try what esteem and kindness can effect.

"As your father's liberality has indulged you with so long a rambleIdoubt not but you will think his sicknessor even his desire to see youasufficient reason for hastening your return. The longer we liveand the more wethinkthe higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness ofparents and of friends. Parents we can have but once; and he promises himselftoo muchwho enters life with the expectation of finding many friends. Uponsome motiveI hopethat you will be here soon; and am willing to think that itwill be an inducement to your returnthat it is sincerely desired bydear Sir

"Your affectionate humble servant


"Johnson's CourtFleet-street

January 141766." -

I returned to London in Februaryand found Dr. Johnson in a good house inJohnson's courtFleet-streetin which he had accommodated Miss Williams withan apartment on the ground floorwhile Mr. Levett occupied his post in thegarret: his faithful Francis was still attending upon him. He received me withmuch kindness. The fragments of our first conversationwhich I have preservedare these: I told him that Voltairein a conversation with mehaddistinguished Pope and Dryden thus: - "Pope drives a handsome chariotwitha couple of neat trim nags; Dryden a coachand six stately horses."JOHNSON. "WhySirthe truth is they both drive coaches and six; butDryden's horses are either galloping or stumbling: Pope's go at a steady eventrot." * He said of Goldsmith's "Traveller" which had beenpublished in my absence"There has not been so fine a poem since Pope'stime."

* It is remarkable that Mr. Gray has employed somewhat the same image tocharacterise Dryden. Heindeedfurnished his car with but two horses; but theyare of "ethereal race:"

"Behold where Dryden's less presumptuous car

Wide o'er the fields of glory bear

Two coursers of ethereal race

With necks in thunder cloath'dand long resounding pace."

Ode on the Progress of Poesy. -

And here it is proper to settlewith authentick precisionwhat has longfloated in publick reportas to Johnson's being himself the authour of aconsiderable part of that poem. Muchno doubtboth of the sentiments andexpression were derived from conversation with him; and it was certainlysubmitted to his friendly revision: but in the year 1783he at my requestmarked with a pencil the lines which he had furnishedwhich are only line420th-

"To stop too fearfuland too faint to go;" -

and the concluding ten linesexcept the last couplet but onewhich Idistinguish by the Italick character: -

"How small of all that human hearts endure

That part which kings or laws can cause or cure

Still to ourselves in every place consign'd

Our own felicity we make or find;

With secret coursewhich no loud storms annoy

Glides the smooth current of domestick joy:

The lifted axethe agonizing wheel

Luke's iron crownand Damien's bed of steel

To men remote from powerbut rarely known

Leave reasonfaithand conscienceall our own." -

He added"These are all of which I can be sure." They bear a smallproportion to the wholewhich consists of four hundred and thirty-eight verses.Goldsmithin the couplet which he insertedmentions Luke as a person wellknownand superficial readers have passed it over quite smoothly; while thoseof more attention have been as much perplexed by Luke as by Lydiatin "TheVanity of Human Wishes." The truth isthat Goldsmith himself was in amistake. In the Republicas Hungaricathere is an account of a desperaterebellion in the year 1514headed by two brothersof the name of ZeckGeorgeand Luke. When it was quelledGeorgenot Lukewas punished by his head beingencircled with a red hot iron crown: "corona candescente ferreacoronatur." The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl ofAtholone of the murderers of King James I. of Scotland. * -

* [On the iron crownsee Mr. Steevens's note 7on Act iv. sc. i. of RICHARDIII. It seems to be alluded to in MACBETHAct iv. sc i. "Thy crown doessear" &c. See also Gough's Camdenvol. iii. p. 396.- BLAKEWAY.] -

Dr. Johnson at the same time favoured me by marking the lines which hefurnished to Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" which are only the lastfour: -

"That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay

As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away:

While self-dependent power can time defy

As rocks resist the billows and the sky." -

Talking of education"People have now-a-days(said he) got a strangeopinion that everything should be taught by lectures. NowI cannot see thatlectures can do so much good as reading the books from which the lectures aretaken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lecturesexcept whereexperiments are to be shewn. You may teach chymistry by lectures:- You mightteach making of shoes by lectures!"

At night I supped with him at the Mitre Tavernthat we might renew oursocial intimacy at the original place of meeting. But there was now aconsiderable difference in his way of living. Having had an illnessin which hewas advised to leave off winehe hadfrom that periodcontinued to abstainfrom itand drank only wateror lemonade.

I told him that a foreign friend of hiswhom I had met with abroadwas sowretchedly perverted to infidelitythat he treated the hopes of immortalitywith brutal levity; and said"As man dies like a doglet him lie like adog." JOHNSON. "If he dies like a doglet him lie like a dog." Iaddedthat this man said to me"I hate mankindfor I think myself one ofthe best of themand I know how bad I am." JOHNSON. "Sirhe must bevery singular in his opinionif he thinks himself one of the best of men; fornone of his friends think him so."- He said"No honest man could be aDeist; for no man could be so after a fair examination of the proofs ofChristianity." I named Hume. JOHNSON. "NoSir; Hume owned to aclergyman in the bishoprick of Durhamthat he had never read the New Testamentwith attention."- I mentioned Hume's notionthat all who are happy areequally happy; a little Miss with a new gown at a dancing-school balla Generalat the head of a victorious armyand an oratorafter having made an eloquentspeech in a great assembly. JOHNSON. "Sirthat all who are happyareequally happyis not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equallysatisfiedbut not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity ofagreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happinesswith a philosopher." I remember this very question very happily illustratedin opposition to Humeby the Reverend Mr. Robert Brownat Utrecht. "Asmall drinking-glass and a large one(said he) may be equally full; but thelarge one holds more than the small." * -

* [Bishop Hallin discussing this subjecthas the same image: "Yet soconceive of these heavenly degreesthat the least is glorious. So do thesevessels differthat all are full. " EPISTLESDec. iii. cp. 6. "Ofthe different degrees of heavenly glory." This most learned and ingeniouswriterhoweverwas not the first who suggested this image; for it is foundalso in an old book entitled "A Work worth the reading" by CharlesGibbon4to1591. In the fifth dialogue of this workin which the questiondebated is"whether there be degrees of glorie in heavenor difference ofpaines in hell" one of the speakers observesthat "no doubt in theworld to come(where the least pleasure is unspeakable) it cannot be but thathe which hath bin most afflicted hereshall conceive and receive more exceedingjoythan he which hath bin touched with lesse tribulation; and yet the joyes ofheaven are fitlie compared to vessels filled with liquorof all quantities; foreverie man shall have his full measure there." By "allquantities" this writer (who seems to refer to a still more ancient authourthan himself) I supposemeans different quantities.- M.] -

Dr. Johnson was very kind this eveningand said to me"You have nowlived five-and-twenty yearsand you have employed them well."

AlasSir(said I) I fear not. Do I know history? Do I know mathematicks?Do I know law?" JOHNSON. "WhySirthough you may know no science sowell as to be able to teach itand no profession so well as to be able tofollow ityour general mass of knowledge of books and men renders you verycapable to make yourself master of any scienceor fit yourself for anyprofession." I mentioned that a gay friend had advised me against being alawyerbecause I should be excelled by plodding blockheads. JOHNSON. "WhySirin the formulary and statutory part of lawa plodding blockhead may excel;but in the ingenious and rational part of it a plodding blockhead can neverexcel."

I talked of the mode adopted by some to rise in the worldby courting greatmenand asked him whether he had ever submitted to it. JOHNSON. "WhySirI never was near enough to great mento court them. You may be prudentlyattached to great menand yet independent. You are not to do what you thinkwrong; andSiryou are to calculateand not pay too dear for what you get.You must not give a shilling's worth of court for sixpence worth of good. But ifyou can get a shilling's worth of good for sixpence worth of courtyou are afool if you do not pay court."

He said"If convents should be allowed at allthey should only beretreats for persons unable to serve the publickor who have served it. It isour first duty to serve society; andafter we have done thatwe may attendwholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracteddevotion should not be encouraged."

I introduced the subject of second sightand other mysteriousmanifestations; the fulfillment of whichI suggestedmight happen by chance.JOHNSON. "YesSirbut they have happened so oftenthat mankind haveagreed to think them not fortuitous."

I talked to him a great deal of what I had seen in Corsicaand of myintention to publish an account of it. He encouraged me by saying"Youcannot go to the bottom of the subject; but all that you tell us will be new tous. Give us as many anecdotes as you can."

Our next meeting at the Mitre was on Saturday the 15th of Februarywhen Ipresented to him my old and most intimate friendthe Reverend Mr. Templethenof Cambridge. I having mentioned that I had passed some time with Rousseau inhis wild retreatand having quoted some remark made by Mr. Wilkeswith whom Ihad spent many pleasant hours in ItalyJohnson said(sarcastically) "ItseemsSiryou have kept very good company abroadRousseau and Wilkes!"Thinking it enough to defend one at a timeI said nothing as to my gay friendbut answered with a smile"My dear Siryou don't call Rousseau badcompany. Do you really think him a bad man?" JOHNSON. "Sirif you aretalking jestingly of thisI don't talk with you. If you mean to be seriousIthink him one of the worst of men; a rascalwho ought to be hunted out ofsocietyas he has been. Three or four nations have expelled him: and it is ashame that he is protected in this country." BOSWELL. "I don't denySirbut that his novel mayperhapsdo harm; but I cannot think his intentionwas bad." JOHNSON. "Sirthat will not do. We cannot prove any man'sintention to be bad. You may shoot a man through the headand say you intendedto miss him; but the judge will order you to be hanged. An alleged want ofintentionwhen evil is committedwill not be allowed in a court of justice.RousseauSiris a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for histransportationthan that of any felon who has gone from the Old Bailey thesemany years. YesI should like to have him work in the plantations."BOSWELL. "Sirdo you think him as bad a man as Voltaire?" JOHNSON."WhySirit is difficult to settle the proportion of iniquity betweenthem."

This violence seemed very strange to mewho had read many of Rousseau'sanimated writings with great pleasureand even edification; had been muchpleased with his societyand was just come from the Continentwhere he wasvery generally admired. Nor can I yet allow that he deserves the very severecensure which Johnson pronounced upon him. His absurd preference of savage tocivilised lifeand other singularitiesare proofs rather of a defect in hisunderstandingthan of any depravity in his heart. And notwithstanding theunfavourable opinion which many unworthy men have expressed of his"Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard" I cannot help admiring it asthe performance of a man full of sincere reverential submission to DivineMysterythough beset with perplexing doubts; a state of mind to be viewed withpity rather than with anger.

On his favourite subject of subordinationJohnson said"So far is itfrom being true that men are naturally equalthat no two people can be half anhour togetherbut one shall acquire an evident superiority over theother."

I mentioned the advice given us by philosophersto console ourselveswhendistressed or embarrassedby thinking of those who are in a worse situationthan ourselves. ThisI observedcould not apply to allfor there must be somewho have nobody worse than they are. JOHNSON. "Whyto be sureSirthereare; but they don't know it. There is no being so poor and so contemptiblewhodoes not think there is somebody still poorerand still morecontemptible."

As my stay in London at this time was very shortI had not manyopportunities of being with Dr. Johnson; but I felt my veneration for him in nodegree lessenedby my having seen multorum hominum mores et urbes. On thecontraryby having it in my power to compare him with many of the mostcelebrated persons of other countriesmy admiration of his extraordinary mindwas increased and confirmed.

The roughnessindeedwhich sometimes appeared in his mannerswas morestriking to me nowfrom my having been accustomed to the studied smoothcomplying habits of the Continent; and I clearly recognised in himnot withoutrespect for his honest conscientious zealthe same indignant and sarcasticalmode of treating every attempt to unhinge or weaken good principles.

One eveningwhen a young gentleman teased him with an account of theinfidelity of his servantwhohe saidwould not believe the scripturesbecause he could not read them in the original tonguesand be sure that theywere not invented; "Whyfoolish fellow(said Johnson) has he any betterauthority for almost everything that he believes?" BOSWELL. "Then thevulgarSirnever can know they are rightbut must submit themselves to thelearned." JOHNSON. "To be sureSir. The vulgar are the children ofthe Stateand must be taught like children." BOSWELL. "ThenSirapoor Turk must be a Mahometanjust as a poor Englishman must be aChristian?" JOHNSON. "WhyyesSir; and what then? This now is suchstuff as I used to talk to my motherwhen I first began to think myself aclever fellow; and she ought to have whipt me for it."

Another evening Dr. Goldsmith and I called on himwith the hope ofprevailing on him to sup with us at the Mitre. We found him indisposedandresolved not to go abroad. "Come then(said Goldsmith) we will not go tothe Mitre to-nightsince we cannot have the big man with us." Johnson thencalled for a bottle of portof which Goldsmith and I partookwhile our friendnow a water-drinkersat by us. GOLDSMITH. "I thinkMr. Johnsonyou don'tgo near the theatres now. You give yourself no more concern about a new playthan if you had never had any thing to do with the stage." JOHNSON."WhySirour tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child'srattleand the old man does not care for the young man's whore."GOLDSMITH. "NaySir; but your Muse was not a whore." JOHNSON."SirI do not think she was. But as we advance in the journey of life wedrop some of the things which have pleased us; whether it be that we arefatigued and don't choose to carry so many things any fartheror that we findother things which we like better." BOSWELL. "ButSirwhy don't yougive us something in some other way?" GOLDSMITH. "AySirwe have aclaim upon you." JOHNSON. "NoSirI am not obliged to do any more.No man is obliged to do as much as he can do. A man is to have part of his lifeto himself. If a soldier has fought a good many campaignshe is not to beblamedif he retires to ease and tranquillity. A physicianwho has practisedlong in a great citymay be excusedif he retires to a small townand takesless practice. NowSirthe good I can do by my conversation bears the sameproportion to the good I can do by my writingsthat the practice of aphysicianretired to a small towndoes to his practice in a great city."BOSWELL. "But I wonderSiryou have not more pleasure in writing than innot writing." JOHNSON. "Siryou may wonder. "

He talked of making versesand observed. "The great difficulty istoknow when you have made good ones. When composingI have generally had them inmy mindperhaps fifty at a timewalking up and down in my room; and then Ihave written them downand oftenfrom lazinesshave written only half lines.I have written a hundred lines in a day. I rememberI wrote a hundred lines of'The Vanity of Human Wishes' in a day. Doctor(turning to Goldsmith) I am notquite idle; I made one line t'other day; but I made no more." GOLDSMITH."Let us hear it; we'll put a bad one to it." JOHNSON. "NoSir; Ihave forgot it."

Such specimens of the easy and playful conversation of the great Dr. SamuelJohnson areI thinkto be prized; as exhibiting the little varieties of a mindso enlarged and so powerful when objects of consequence required its exertionsand as giving us a minute knowledge of his character and modes of thinking. -



"WHAT your friends have donethat from your departure till now nothinghas been heard of younone of us are able to inform the rest; but as we are allneglected alikeno one thinks himself entitled to the privilege of complaint.

"I should have known nothing of you or of Langtonfrom the time thatdear Miss Langton left ushad not I met Mr. Simpsonof Lincolnone day in thestreetby whom I was informed that Mr. Langtonyour Mammaand yourselfhadbeen all illbut that you were all recovered.

"That sickness should suspend your correspondenceI did not wonder; buthoped that it would be renewed at your recovery.

"Since you will not inform us where you areor how you liveI know notwhether you desire to know any thing of us. HoweverI will tell you that THECLUB subsists; but we have the loss of Burke's company since he has been engagedin publick business in which he has gained more reputation than perhaps any manat his [first] appearance ever gained before. He made two speeches in the Housefor repealing the Stamp-actwhich were publickly commended by Mr. Pittandhave filled the town with wonder.

"Burke is a great man by natureand is expected soon to attain civilgreatness. I am grown greater toofor I have maintained the news-papers thesemany weeks; and what is greater stillI have risen every morning sinceNew-year's dayat about eight: when I was upI have indeed done but little;yet it is no slight advancement to obtain for so many hours moretheconsciousness of being.

"I wish you were in my new study; I am now writing my first letter init. I think it looks very pretty about me.

"Dyer * is constant at THE CLUB; Hawkins is remiss; I am not overdiligent. Dr. NugentDr. Goldsmithand Mr. Reynoldsare very constant. Mr.Lye is printing his Saxon and Gothick Dictionary: all THE CLUB subscribes.

"You will pay my respects to all my Lincolnshire friends.

"I amdear Sir

"Most affectionately your's


"March 91766.

"Johnson's-courtFleet-street." -

* [Samuel DyerEsq. a most learned and ingenious Member of the LITERARYCLUBfor whose understanding and attainments Dr. Johnson had great respect. Hedied Sept. 141772. A more particular account of this gentleman may be found ina Note on the Life of Drydenp. 186prefixed to the edition of that greatwriter's PROSE WORKSin four volumes8vo. 1800: in which his character isvindicatedand the very unfavourable and unjust representation of itgiven bySir John Hawkins in his Life of Johnsonpp. 222-232is minutely examined.- M.]-



"IN supposing that I should be more than commonly affected by the deathof Peregrine Langton* you were not mistaken; he was one of those whom I lovedat once by instinct and by reason. I have seldom indulged more hope of any thingthan of being able to improve our acquaintance to friendship. Many a time have Iplaced myself again at Langtonand imagined the pleasure with which I shouldwalk to Partney *(2) in a summer morning; but this is no longer possible. Wemust now endeavour to preserve what is left us- his example of piety andoeconomy. I hope you make what enquiries you canand write down what is toldyou. The little things which distinguish domestick characters are soonforgotten: if you delay to enquireyou will have no information; if you neglectto writeinformation will be vain. *(3)

"His art of life certainly deserves to be known and studied. He lived inplenty and elegance upon an income which to many would appear indigentand tomostscanty. How he livedthereforeevery man has an interest in knowing. HisdeathI hopewas peaceful; it was surely happy.

"I wish I had written soonerlestwriting nowI should renew yourgrief; but I would not forbear saying what I have now said.

"This loss isI hopethe only misfortune of a family to whom nomisfortune at all should happenif my wishes could avert it. Let me know howyou all go on. Has Mr. Langton got him the little horse that I recommended? Itwould do him good to ride about his estate in fine weather.

"Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Langtonand to dear MissLangtonand Miss Diand Miss Julietand to every body else.

"THE CLUB holds very well together. Monday is my night. *(4) I continueto raise tolerably welland read more than I did. I hope something will yetcome on it. I amSir

"Your most affectionate servant


"May 101766

"Johnson's-courtFleet-street." -

* Mr. Langton's uncle.

*(2) The place of residence of Mr. Peregrine Langton.

*(3) Mr. Langton did not disregard this counselbut wrote the followingaccountwhich he has been pleased to communicate to me:

"The circumstances of Mr. Peregrine Langton were these. He had anannuity for life of two hundred pounds per annum. He resided in a village inLincolnshire: the rent of his housewith two or three small fieldswastwenty-eight pounds; the county he lived in was not more than moderately cheap;his family consisted of a sisterwho paid him eighteen pounds annually for herboardand a niece. The servants were two maidsand two men in livery. Hiscommon way of livingat his tablewas three or four dishes; the appurtenancesto his table were neat and handsome; he frequently entertained company atdinnerand then his table was well served with as many dishes as were usual atthe tables of the other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. His own appearanceasto clotheswas genteelly neat and plain. He had always a post-chaiseand keptthree horses.

"Suchwith the resources I have mentionedwas his way of livingwhichhe did not suffer to employ his whole income; for he had always a sum of moneylying by him for any extraordinary expences that might arise. Some money he putinto the stocks; at his deaththe sum he had there amounted to one hundred andfifty pounds. He purchased out of his income his household-furniture and linenof which latter he had a very ample store; andas I am assured by those thathad very good means of knowingnot less than the tenth part of his income wasset apart for charity: at the time of his deaththe sum of twenty-five poundswas foundwith a direction to be employed in such uses.

"He had laid down a plan of living proportioned to his incomeand didnot practise any extraordinary degree of parsimonybut endeavoured that in hisfamily there should be plenty without waste. As an instance that this was hisendeavourit may be worth while to mention a method he took in regulating aproper allowance of malt liquor to be drunk in his familythat there might notbe a deficiencyor any intemperate profusion: On a complaint made that hisallowance of a hogshead in a monthwas not enough for his own familyheordered the quantity of a hogshead to be put into bottleshad it locked up fromthe servantsand distributed outevery dayeight quartswhich is thequantity each day at one hogshead in a month; and told his servantsthat ifthat did not sufficehe would allow them more; butby this methodit appearedat once that the allowance was much more than sufficient for his small family;and this proved a clear convictionthat could not be answeredand saved allfuture dispute. He wasin generalvery diligently and punctually attended andobeyed by his servants; he was very considerate as to the injunctions he gaveand explained them distinctly; andat their first coming to his servicesteadily exacted a close compliance with themwithout any remission; and theservants finding this to be the casesoon grew habitually accustomed to thepractice of their businessand then very little further attention wasnecessary. On extraordinary instances of good behaviouror diligent servicehewas not wanting in particular encouragements and presents above their wages: itis remarkable that he would permit their relations to visit themand stay athis house two or three days at a time.

"The wonderwith most that hear an account of his oeconomywill behow he was ablewith such an incometo do so muchespecially when it isconsidered that he paid for every thing he had. He had no landexcept the twoor three small fields which I have said he rented; andinstead of gaining anything by their produceI have reason to think he lost by them; howevertheyfurnished him with no further assistance towards his housekeepingthan grassfor his horses(not hayfor that I know he bought) and for two cows. EveryMonday morning he settled his family accountsand so kept up a constantattention to the confining his expenses within his income; and to do it moreexactlycompared those expences with a computation he had madehow much thatincome would afford him every week and day of the year. One of his oeconomicalpractices wasas soon as any repair was wanting in or about his houseto haveit immediately performed. When he had money to sparehe chose to lay in aprovision of linen or clothesor any other necessaries; as thenhe saidhecould afford itwhich he might not be so well able to do when the actual wantcame; in consequence of which methodhe had a considerable supply of necessaryarticles lying by himbeside what was in use.

"But the main particular that seems to have enabled him to do so muchwith his incomewasthat he paid for everything as soon as he had itexceptalonewhat were current accountssuch as rent for his houseand servants'wages; and these he paid at the stated times with the utmost exactness. He gavenotice to the tradesmen of the neighbouring market-townsthat they should nolonger have his customif they let any of his servants have any thing withouttheir paying for it. Thus he put it out of his power to commit those imprudencesto which those are liable that defer their payments by using their money someother way than where it ought to go. And whatever money he had by himhe knewthat it was not demanded elsewherebut that he might safely employ it as hepleased.

"His example was confinedby the sequestered place of his abodeto theobservation of fewthough his prudence and virtue would have made it valuableto all who could have known it.- These few particularswhich I knew myselforhave obtained from those who lived with himmay afford instructionand be anincentive to that wise art of livingwhich he so successfully practised."

*(4) Of his being in the chair of THE LITERARY CLUBwhich at this time metonce a week in the evening. -

After I had been some time in ScotlandI mentioned to him in a letter that"On my first return to my native countryafter some years of absenceIwas told of a vast number of my acquaintance who were all gone to the land offorgetfulnessand I found myself like a man stalking over a field of battlewho every moment perceives some one lying dead." I complained ofirresolutionand mentioned my having made a vow as a security for good conduct.I wrote to him again without being able to move his indolence: nor did I hearfrom him till he had received a copy of my inaugural Exerciseor Thesis inCivil Lawwhich I published at my admission as an Advocateas is the custom inScotland. He then wrote to me as follows: -



"THE reception of your Thesis put me in mind of my debt to you. Why didyou ____________. * I will punish you for itby telling you that your Latinwants correction. *(2) In the beginningSpei alteraenot to urge that itshould be primaeis not grammatical: alterae should be alteri. In the next lineyou seem to use genus absolutelyfor what we call familythat isforillustrious extractionI doubt without authority. Homines nullius originisforNullis orti majoribusorNullo loco natiisas I am afraidbarbarous.-Ruddiman is dead.

"I have now vexed you enoughand will try to please you. Yourresolution to obey your father I sincerely approve; but do not accustom yourselfto enchain your volatility by vows; they will sometime leave a thorn in yourmindwhich you willperhapsnever be able to extract or eject. Take thiswarning; it is of great importance.

"The study of the law is what you very justly term itcopious andgenerous; *(3) and in adding your name to its professorsyou have done exactlywhat I always wishedwhen I wished you best. I hope that you will continue topursue it vigorously and constantly. You gainat leastwhat is no smalladvantagesecurity from those troublesome and wearisome discontentswhich arealways obtruding themselves upon a mind vacantunemployedand undetermined.

"You ought to think it no small inducement to diligence andperseverancethat they will please your father. We all live upon the hope ofpleasing somebodyand the pleasure of pleasing ought to be greatestand atlast always will be greatestwhen our endeavours are exerted in consequence ofour duty.

"Life is not longand too much of it must not pass in idle deliberationhow it shall be spent: deliberationwhich those who begin it by prudenceandcontinue it with subtiltymustafter long expence of thoughtconclude bychance. To prefer one future mode of life to anotherupon just reasonsrequires faculties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us.

"If therefore the profession you have chosen has some unexpectedinconveniencesconsole yourself by reflecting that no profession is withoutthem; and that all the importunities and perplexities of business are softnessand luxurycompared with the incessant cravings of vacancyand theunsatisfactory expedients of idleness. -

'Haec sunt quae nostra potui te voce monere;

Vadeage.' -

"As to your History of Corsicayou have no materials which others havenotor may not have. You havesomehowor otherwarmed your imagination. Iwish there were some curelike the lover's leapfor all heads of which somesingle idea has obtained an unreasonable and irregular possession. Mind your ownaffairsand leave the Corsicans to theirs. I amdear Sir

"Your most humble servant


"LondonAug. 211766." -

* The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction.

*(2) This censure of my Latin relates to the Dedicationwhich was asfollows:




























D. D. C. Q.


*(3) This alludes to the first sentence of the Proaemium of my Thesis."JURISPRUDENTIAE studio nullum uberiusnullum generosius: in legibus enimagitandispopulorum moresvariasque fortunae vices ex quibus leges oriunturcontemplarisimul solemus." -


"AuchinleckNov. 61766.


"I PLEAD not guilty to __________________. *

"Having thusI hopecleared myself of the charges brought against meI presume you will not be displeased if I escape the punishment which you havedecreed for me unheard. If you have discharged the arrows of criticism againstan innocent manyou must rejoice to find they have missed himor have not beenpointed so as to wound him.

"To talk no longer in allegoryI amwith all deferencegoing to offera few observations in defence of my Latinwhich you have found fault with.

"You think I should have used spei primaeinstead of spei alterae. Spesisindeedoften used to express something on which we have a futuredependenceas in Virg. Eclog. i. l. 14. -

'-modo namque gemellos

Spem gregis ah silice in muda connixa reliquit.' -

and in Georg. iii. l. 473-

'Spemque gregemque simul' -

for the lambs and the sheep. Yet it is also used to express any thing onwhich we have a present dependenceand is well applied to a man ofdistinguished influence- our supportour refugeour praesidiumas Horacecalls Maecenas. SoAeneid xii. l. 57Queen Amata addresses her son-in-lawTurnus:- 'Spes tu nunc una: ' and he was then no future hopefor she adds-

'-decus imperiumque Latini

Te penes;' -

which might have been said of my Lord Bute some years ago. Now I consider thepresent Earl of Bute to be 'Excelsae familiae de Bute spes prima;' and my LordMountstuartas his eldest sonto be 'spes altera.' So in Aeneid xii. l. 168after having mentioned Pater Aeneaswho was the present spesthe reigningspesas my German friends would saythe spes primathe poet adds-

'Et juxta Ascaniusmugnae spes altera Romae.' -

"You think alterae ungrammaticaland you tell me it should have

been alteri. You must recollectthat in old times alter was declinedregularly; and when the ancient fragments preserved in the Juris Civilis Fonteswere writtenit was certainly declined in the way that I use it. ThisI shouldthinkmay protect a lawyer who writes alterae in a dissertation upon part ofhis own science. But as I could hardly venture to quote fragments of old law toso classical a man as Mr. JohnsonI have not made an accurate search into theseremainsto find examples of what I am able to produce in poetical composition.We find in Plaut. Rudensact iii. scene 4. -

'Nam huic alterae patria quae sit profecto nescio.' -

Plautus isto be surean old comick writer; but in the days of Scipio andLeliuswe find Terent. Heautontim. act ii. scene 3. -

'-hoc ipsa in itinere alterae

Dum narratforte audivi.' -

"You doubt my having authority for using genus absolutelyfor what wecall familythat isfor illustrious extraction. Now I take genus in Latintohave much the same signification with birth in English; both in their primarymeaning expressing simply descentbut both made to stand kat exochenfor nobledescent. Genus is thus used in Hor. lib. ii. Sat. v. l. 8. -

'Et genus et virtusnisi cum revilior alga est.' -

And in lib. i. Epist. vil. 37. -

'Et genus et formam Regina pecunia donat.' -

And in the celebrated contest between Ajax and UlyssesOvid's Metamorph.lib. xiii. l. 140. -

'Nam genus et proavoset quae non fecimus ipsi

Vix ea nostra voco.' -

"Homines nullius originisfor nullis orti majoribusor nullo loconatiis'you are afraidbarbarous.'

"Origo is used to signify extractionas in Virg. Aeneid i. 286-

'Nascetur pulchra Trojanus origine Caesar.' -

and in Aeneid x. l. 618-

'Ille tamen nostra deducit origine nomen.' -

and as nullus is used for obscureis it not in the genius of the Latinlanguage to write nullius originisfor obscure extraction?

"I have defended myself as well as I could.

"Might I venture to differ from you with regard to the utility of vows?I am sensible that it would be very dangerous to make vows rashlyand without adue consideration. But I cannot help thinking that they may often be of greatadvantage to one of a variable judgement and irregular inclinations. I alwaysremember a passage in one of your letters to our Italian friend Baretti; wheretalking of the monastick lifeyou say you do not wonder that serious men shouldput themselves under the protection of a religious orderwhen they have foundhow unable they are to take care of themselves. For my own partwithoutaffecting to be a SocratesI am sure I have a more than ordinary struggle tomaintain with the Evil Principle; and all the methods I can devise are littleenough to keep me tolerably steady in the paths of rectitude.

* * * * * * *

"I am everwith the highest veneration

"Your affectionate humble servant


* The passage omitted explained the transaction to which the preceding latterhad alluded. -

It appears from Johnson's diarythat he was this year at Mr. Thrale'sfrombefore Midsummer till after Michaelmasand that he afterwards passed a month atOxford. He had then contracted a great intimacy with Mr. Chambers of theUniversityafterwards Sir Robert Chambersone of the Judges in India.

He published nothing this year in his own name; but the noble dedication (@)to the Kingof Gwyn's "London and Westminster Improved" was writtenby him; and he furnished the Preface(+) and several of the pieceswhichcompose a volume of Miscellanies by Mrs. Anna Williamsthe blind lady who hadan asylum in his house. * Of thesethere are his "Epitaph onPhillips;" (@) "Translation of a Latin Epitaph on Sir ThomasHanmer;" (+) "Friendshipan Ode;" (@) and"The Ant"(@) a paraphrase from the Proverbsof which I have a copy in his ownhand-writing; andfrom internal evidenceI ascribe to him"To Miss __ onher giving the Authour a gold and silk net-work Purse of her own weaving; "(+) and "The happy Life." (+) -Most of the pieces in this volume haveevidently received additions from his superiour penparticularly "Versesto Mr. Richardsonon his Sir Charles Grandison;" "TheExcursion;" "Reflections on a Grave digging in WestminsterAbbey." There is in this collection a poem"On the death of StephenGreythe Electrician;" (@) whichon reading itappeared to me to beundoubtedly Johnson's. I asked Mrs. Williams whether it was not his. "Sir(said shewith some warmth) I wrote that poem before I had the honour of Dr.Johnson's acquaintance." Ihoweverwas so much impressed with my firstnotionthat I mentioned it to Johnsonrepeatingat the same timewhat Mrs.Williams had said. His answer was"It is trueSirthat she wrote itbefore she was acquainted with me; but she has not told you that I wrote it allover againexcept two lines." "The Fountains" (+) a beautifullittle Fairy tale in prosewritten with exquisite simplicityis one ofJohnson's productions; and I cannot withhold from Mrs. Thrale the praise ofbeing the authour of that admirable poem"The Three Warnings." -

* [In a paper already mentioned(See anteAetat. 27 and Aetat. 54) thefollowing account of this publication is given by a lady well acquainted withMrs. Williams:

"As to her poemsshe many years attempted to publish them: thehalf-crowns she had got towards the publicationshe confessed to mewent fornecessariesand that the greatest pain she ever felt was from the appearance ofdefrauding her subscribers: 'but what can I do? the Doctor [Johnson] always putme off with 'Wellwe'll think about it' and Goldsmith says'Leave it to me.'Howevertwo of her friendsunder her directionsmade a new subscription at acrownthe whole price of the workand in a very little time raised sixtypounds. Mrs. Carter was applied to by Mrs. Williams's desireand shewith theutmost activity and kindnessprocured a long list of names. At length the workwas publishedin which is a fine written but gloomy tale of Dr. Johnson. Themoney Mrs. Williams had various

uses forand a part of it was funded."

By this publication Mrs. Williams got 150l. Ibid.- M.] -

He wrote this year a letternot intended for publicationwhich hasperhapsas strong marks of his sentiment and style as any of his compositions.The original is in my possession. It is addressed to the late Mr. WilliamDrummondbookseller in Edinburgha gentleman of good familybut small estatewho took arms for the house of Stuart in 1745; and during his concealment inLondon till the act of general pardon came outobtained the acquaintance of Dr.Johnsonwho justly esteemed him as a very worthy man. It seemssome of themembers of the society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge hadopposed the scheme of translating the holy scriptures into the Erse or Gaelicklanguagefrom political considerations of the disadvantage of keeping up thedistinction between the Highlanders and the other inhabitants of North Britain.Dr. Johnson being informed of thisI suppose by Mr. Drummondwrote with agenerous indignation as follows: -



"I DID not expect to hear that it could bein an assembly convened forthe propagation of Christian knowledgea question whether any nationuninstructed in religion should receive instruction; or whether that instructionshould be imparted to them by a translation of the holy-books into their ownlanguage. If obedience to the will of GOD be necessary to happinessandknowledge of his will be necessary to obedienceI know not how he thatwithholds this knowledgeor delays itcan be said to love his neighbour ashimself. Hethat voluntarily continues ignoranceis guilty of all the crimeswhich ignorance produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of alight-housemight justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks. Christianityis the highest perfection of humanity; and as no man is good but as he wishesthe good of othersno man can be good in the highest degreewho wishes not toothers the largest measures of the greatest good. To omit for a yearor for adaythe most efficacious method of advancing Christianityin compliance withany purposes that terminate on this side of the graveis a crime of which Iknow not that the world has yet had an exampleexcept in the practice of theplanters of Americaa race of mortals whomI supposeno other man wishes toresemble.

"The Papists haveindeeddenied to the laity the use of the bible; butthis prohibitionin few places now very rigorously enforcedis defended byargumentswhich have for their foundation the care of souls. To obscureuponmotives merely politicalthe light of revelationis a practice reserved forthe reformed; andsurelythe blackest midnight of popery is meridian sunshineto such a reformation. I am not very willing that any language should be totallyextinguished. The similitude and derivation of languages afford the mostindubitable proof of the traduction of nationsand the genealogy of mankind.They add often physical certainty to historical evidence; and often supply theonly evidence of ancient migrationsand of the revolutions of ages which leftno written monuments behind them.

"Every man's opinionsat least his desiresare a little influenced byhis favourite studies. My zeal for languages may seemperhapsratherover-heatedeven to those by whom I desire to be well esteemed. To those whohave nothing in their thoughts but trade or policypresent poweror presentmoneyI should not think it necessary to defend my opinions; but with men ofletters I would not unwillingly compoundby wishing the continuance of everylanguagehowever narrow in its extentor however incommodious for commonpurposestill it is reposited in some version of a known bookthat it may bealways hereafter examined and compared with other languagesand then permittingits disuse. For this purpose the translation of the bible is most to be desired.It is not certain that the same method will not preserve the Highland languagefor the purposes of learningand abolish it from daily use. When theHighlanders read the Biblethey will naturally wish to have its obscuritiesclearedand to know the historycollateral or appendant. Knowledge alwaysdesires increase; it is like firewhich must first be kindled by some externalagentbut which will afterwards propagate itself. When they once desire tolearnthey will naturally have recourse to the nearest language by which thatdesire can be gratifiedand one will tell another that if he would attainknowledgehe must learn English.

"This speculation mayperhapsbe thought more subtle than thegrossness of real life will easily admit. Let ithoweverbe rememberedthatthe efficacy of ignorance has long been triedand has not produced theconsequence expected. Let knowledge thereforetake its turn; and let thepatrons of privation stand awhile asideand admit the operation of positiveprinciples.

"You will be pleasedSirto assure the worthy man who is employed inthe new translation* that he has my wishes for his success; and if here or atOxford I can be of any usethat I shall think it more than honour to promotehis undertaking.

"I am sorry that I delayed so long to write.

"I amSir

"Your most humble servant



August 131766." -

* The Rev. Mr. John CampbellMinister of the parish of KippennearStirlingwho has lately favoured me with a longintelligentand very obligingletter upon this workmakes the following remark. "Dr. Johnson has alludedto the worthy man employed in the translation of the New Testament. Might notthis have afforded you an opportunity of paying a proper tribute of respect tothe memory of the Rev. Mr. James Stuartlate Minister of Killindistinguishedby his eminent PietyLearningand Taste. The amiable simplicity of his lifehis warm benevolencehis indefatigable and successful exertions for civilisingand improving the Parish of which he was Minister for upwards of fifty yearsentitle him to the gratitude of his countryand the veneration of all good men.It certainly would be a pityif such a character should be permitted to sinkinto oblivion." -

The opponents of this pious scheme being made ashamed of their conductthebenevolent undertaking was allowed to go on.

1767: AETAT. 58 -

The following lettersthough not written till the year afterbeing chieflyupon the subjectare here inserted. -



"THAT my letter should have had such effects as you mentiongives megreat pleasure. I hope you do not flatter me by imputing to me more good than Ihave really done. Those whom my arguments have persuaded to change theiropinionshew such modesty and candour as deserve great praise.

"I hope the worthy translator goes diligently forward. He has a higherreward in prospect than any honours which this world can bestow. I wish I couldbe useful to him.

"The publication of my letterif it could be of use in a cause to whichall other causes are nothingI should not prohibit. But firstI would have youto consider whether the publication will really do any good; nextwhether byprinting and distributing a very small numberyou may not attain all that youpropose; andwhat perhaps I should have said firstwhether the letterwhich Ido not now perfectly rememberbe fit to be printed.

"If you can consult Dr. Robertsonto whom I am a little knownI shallbe satisfied about the propriety of whatever he shall direct. If he thinks thatit should be printedI entreat him to revise it; there mayperhapsbe somenegligent lines writtenand whatever is amisshe knows very well how torectify. *

"Be pleased to let me knowfrom time to timehow this excellent designgoes forward.

"Make my compliments to young Mr. Drummondwhom I hope you will live tosee such as you desire him.

"I have not lately seen Mr. Elphinstonbut believe him to beprosperous. I shall be glad to hear the same of youfor I amSir

"Your affectionate humble servant



April 211767." -

* This paragraph shews Johnson's real estimation of the character andabilities of the celebrated Scotish Historianhowever lightlyin a moment ofcapricehe may have spoken of his works. -



"I RETURNED this week from the countryafter an absence of near sixmonthsand found your letter with many otherswhich I should have answeredsoonerif I had sooner seen them.

"Dr. Robertson's opinion was surely right. Men should not be told of thefaults which they have mended. I am glad the old language is taughtand thehonour of the translator as a man whom GOD has distinguished by the high officeof propagating his word.

"I must take the liberty of engaging you in an office of charity. Mrs.Heelythe wife of Mr. Heelywho had lately some office in your theatreis mynear relationand now in great distress. They wrote me word of their situationsome time agoto which I returned them an answer which raised hopes of morethan it is proper for me to give them. Their representation of their affairs Ihave discovered to be such as cannot be trusted; and at this distancethoughtheir case requires hasteI know not how to act. Sheor her daughtersmay beheard of at Canongate Head. I must begSirthat you will enquire after themand let me know what is to be done. I am willing to go to ten poundsand willtransmit you such a sumif upon examination you find it likely to be of use. Ifthey are in immediate wantadvance them what you think proper. What I could doI would for the womanhaving no great reason to pay much regard to Heelyhimself. *

"I believe you may receive some intelligence from Mrs. Bakerof thetheatrewhose letter I received at the same time with yours; and to whomifyou see heryou will make my excuse for the seeming neglect of answering her.

"Whatever you advance within ten pounds shall be immediately returned toyouor paid as you shall order. I trust wholly to your judgement.

"I amSir&c.



Oct. 241767." -

* This is the person concerning whom Sir John Hawkins has thrown out veryunwarrantable reflections both against Dr. Johnson and Mr. Francis Barber. -

Mr. Cuthbert Shaw* alike distinguished by his geniusmisfortunesandmisconductpublished this year a poemcalled "The Raceby MercuriusSpurEsq." in which he whimsically made the living poets of Englandcontend for pre-eminence of fame by running: -

"Prove by their heels the prowess of the head." -

* See an account of him in the European MagazineJan. 1786. -

In this poem there was the following portrait of Johnson: -

"Here Johnson comes- unblest with outward grace

His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face.

While strong conceptions struggle in his brain;

(For even wit is brought to bed with pain:)

To view himporters with their loads would rest

And babes cling frightened to the nurse's breast.

With looks convulsed he roars in pompous strain

Andlike an angry lionshakes his mane.

The Ninewith terrour struckwho ne'er had seen

Aught human with so terrible a mien

Debating whether they should stay or run

Virtue steps forth and claims him for her son.

With gentle speech she warns him now to yield

Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field;

But wrapt in conscious worthcontent sit down

Since Fameresolv'd his various pleas to crown

Though forc'd his present claim to disavow

Had long reserv'd a chaplet for his brow.

He bowsobeys; for time shall first expire

Ere Johnson staywhen Virtue bids retire." -

The Honourable Thomas Hervey * and his ladyhaving unhappily disagreedandbeing about to separateJohnson interfered as their friendand wrote him aletter of expostulationwhich I have not been able to find; but the substanceof it is ascertained by a letter to Johnson in answer to itwhich Mr. Herveyprinted. The occasion of this correspondence between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Herveywas thus related to me by Mr. Beauclerk. "Tom Hervey had a great liking forJohnsonand in his will had left him a legacy of fifty pounds. One day he saidto me 'Johnson may want this money nowmore than afterwards. I have a mind togive it him directly. Will you be so good as to carry a fifty pound note from meto him?' This I positively refused to doas he mightperhapshave knocked medown for insulting himand have afterwards put the note in his pocket. But Isaidif Hervey would write him a letterand enclose him a fifty pound noteIshould take care to deliver it. He accordingly did write him a lettermentioning that he was only paying a legacy a little sooner. To his letter headded'P.S. I am going to part with my wife.' Johnson then wrote to himsayingnothing of the notebut remonstrating with him against parting with hiswife."

* [The Honourable Thomas Herveywhose letter to Sir Thomas Hammer in 1742was much read at that time. He was the second son of Johnthe first Earl ofBristoland one of the brothers of Johnson's early friendHenry Hervey. Hemarried in 1744Annedaughter of Francis CoughlanEsq. and died Jan. 201775.- M.] -

When I mentioned to Johnson the storyin as delicate terms as I couldhetold me that the fifty pound note was given to him by Mr. Hervey inconsideration of his having written for him a pamphlet against Sir CharlesHanbury WilliamswhoMr. Hervey imaginedwas the authour of an attack uponhim; but that it was afterwards discovered to be the work of a garreteerwhowrote "The Fool:" the pamphlet therefore against Sir Charles was notprinted.

In February1767there happened one of the most remarkable incidents ofJohnson's lifewhich gratified his monarchical enthusiasmand which he lovedto relate with all its circumstanceswhen requested by his friends. This washis being honoured by a private conversation with his Majestyin the library atthe Queen's house. He had frequently visited those splendid roomsand noblecollection of books* which he used to say was more numerous and curious thanhe supposed any person could have made in the time which the King had employed.Mr. Barnardthe librariantook care that he should have every accommodationthat should contribute to his ease and conveniencewhile indulging his literarytaste in that place: so that he had here a very agreeable resource at leisurehours. -

* Dr. Johnson had the honour of contributing his assistance towards theformation of this library; for I have read a long letter from him to MrBarnardgiving the most masterly instructions on the subject. I wished much tohave gratified my readers with the perusal of his letterand have reason tothink that his Majesty would have been graciously pleased to permit itspublication; but Mr. Barnardto whom I applieddeclined it "on his ownaccount." -

His Majesty having been informed of his occasional visitswas pleased tosignify a desire that he should be told when Dr. Johnson came next to thelibrary. Accordinglythe next time that Johnson did comeas soon as he wasfairly engaged with a bookon whichwhile he sat by the firehe seemed quiteintentMr. Barnard stole round to the apartment where the King wasandinobedience to his Majesty's commandsmentioned that Dr. Johnson was then in thelibrary. His Majesty said he was at leisureand would go to him: upon which Mr.Barnard took one of the candles that stood on the King's tableand lighted hisMajesty through a suite of roomstill they came to a private door into thelibraryof which his Majesty had the key. Being enteredMr. Barnard steppedforward hastily to Dr. Johnsonwho was still in a profound studyand whisperedhim"Sirhere is the King." Johnson started upand stood still. HisMajesty approached himand at once was courteously easy. * -

* The particulars of this conversation I have been at great pains to collectwith the utmost authenticityfrom Dr. Johnson's own detail to myself; from Mr.Langton who was present when he gave an account of it to Dr. Joseph Wartonandseveral other friends at Sir Joshua Reynolds's; from Mr. Barnard; from the copyof a letter written by the late Mr. Strahan the printerto Bishop Warburton;and from a minutethe original of which is among the papers of the late SirJames Caldwelland a copy of which was most obligingly obtained for me from hisson Sir John Caldwellby Sir Francis Lumm. To all these gentlemen I beg leaveto make my grateful acknowledgementsand particularly to Sir Francis Lummwhowas pleased to take a great deal of troubleand even had the minute laid beforethe King by Lord Caermarthennow Duke of Leedsthen one of his Majesty'sPrincipal Secretaries of Statewho announced to Sir Francis the Royal pleasureconcerning it by a letterin these words: "I have the King's commands toassure youSirhow sensible his Majesty is of your attention in communicatingthe minute of the conversation previous to its publication. As there appears noobjection to your complying with Mr. Boswell's wishes on the subjectyou are atfull liberty to deliver it to that gentlemanto make such use of in his Life ofDr. Johnsonas he may think proper." -

His Majesty began by observingthat be understood he came sometimes to thelibrary; and then mentioned his having heard that the Doctor had been lately atOxfordasked him if he was not fond of going thither. To which Johnsonansweredthat he was indeed fond of going to Oxford sometimesbut was likewiseglad to come back again. The King then asked him what they were doing at Oxford.Johnson answeredhe could not much commend their diligencebut that in somerespects they were mendedfor they had put their press under betterregulationsand were at that time printing Polybius. He was then asked whetherthere were better libraries at Oxford or Cambridge. He answeredhe believed theBodleian was larger than any they had at Cambridge; at the same time adding"I hopewhether we have more books or not than they have at Cambridgeweshall make as good use of them as they do." "Being asked whetherAll-Souls or Christ-Church library was the largesthe answered"All-Soulslibrary is the largest we haveexcept the Bodleian." "Ay(said theKing) that is the publick library."

His Majesty enquired if he was then writing any thing. He answeredhe wasnotfor he had pretty well told the world what he knewand must now read toacquire more knowledge. The Kingas it should seem with a view to urge him torely on his own stores as an original writerand to continue his laboursthensaid"I do not think you borrow much from any body." Johnson saidhethought he had already done his part as a writer. "I should have thought sotoo(said the King) if you had not written so well."- Johnson observed tomeupon thisthat "No man could have paid a handsomer compliment; and itwas fit for a King to pay. It was decisive." When asked by another friendat Sir Joshua Reynolds'swhether he made any reply to this high complimentheanswered"NoSir. When the King had said itit was to be so. It was notfor me to bandy civilities with my Sovereign." Perhaps no man who had spenthis whole life in courts could have shewn a more nice and dignified sense oftrue politeness than Johnson did in this instance.

His Majesty having observed to him that he supposed he must have read a greatdeal; Johnson answeredthat he thought more than he read; that he had read agreat deal in the early part of his lifebut having fallen into ill healthhehad not been able to read muchcompared with others: for instancehe said hehad not read muchcompared with Dr. Warburton. Upon which the King saidthathe heard Dr. Warburton was a man of such general knowledgethat you couldscarce talk with him on any subject on which he was not qualified to speak; andthat his learning resembled Garrick's actingin its universality. * His Majestythen talked of the controversy between Warburton and Lowthwhich he seemed tohave readand asked Johnson what he thought of it. Johnson answered"Warburton has most generalmost scholastic learning; Lowth is the morecorrect scholar. I do not know which of them calls names best." The Kingwas pleased to say he was of the same opinion; adding"You do not thinkthenDr. Johnsonthat there was much argument in the case." Johnson saidhe did not think there was. "Why truly(said the King) when once it comesto calling namesargument is pretty well at an end." -

* The Reverend Mr. Strahan clearly recollects having been told by Johnsonthat the King observed that Pope made Warburton a Bishop. "TrueSir(saidJohnson) but Warburton did more for Pope; he made him a Christian":alludingno doubtto his ingenious comments on the "Essay on Man." -

His Majesty then asked him what he thought of Lord Lyttelton's historywhichwas then just published. Johnson saidhe thought his style pretty goodbutthat he had blamed Henry the Second rather too much. "Why(said the King)they seldom do these things by halves." "NoSir(answered Johnson)not to Kings." But fearing to be misunderstoodhe proceeded to explainhimself; and immediately subjoined"That for those who spoke worse ofKings than they deservedhe could find no excuse; but that he could more easilyconceive how some might speak better of them than they deservedwithout any illintention; foras Kings had much in their power to givethose who werefavoured by them would frequentlyfrom gratitudeexaggerate their praises: andas this proceeded from a good motiveit was certainly excusableas far aserrour could be excusable."

The King then asked him what he thought of Dr. Hill. Johnson answeredthathe was an ingenious manbut had no veracity; and immediately mentionedas aninstance of itan assertion of that writerthat he had seen objects magnifiedto a much greater degree by using three or four microscopes at a time than byusing one. "Now(added Johnson) every one acquainted with microscopesknowsthat the more of them he looks throughthe less the object willappear." "Why(replied the King) this is not only telling anuntruthbut telling it clumsily; forif that be the caseevery one who canlook through a microscope will be able to detect him."

"I now(said Johnson to his friendswhen relating what had passed)began to consider that I was deprecating this man in the estimation of hisSovereignand thought it was time for me to say something that might be morefavourable." He addedthereforethat Dr. Hill wasnotwithstandingavery curious observer; and if he would have been contented to tell the world nomore than he knewhe might have been a very considerable manand needed not tohave recourse to such mean expedients to raise his reputation.

The King then talked of literary journalsmentioned particularly the Journaldes Savansand asked Johnson if it was well done. Johnson saidit was formerlyvery well doneand gave some account of the persons who began itand carriedit on for some years: enlarging at the same timeon the nature and use of suchworks. The King asked him if it was well done now. Johnson answeredhe had noreason to think that it was. The King then asked him if there were any otherliterary journals published in this kingdomexcept the Monthly and CriticalReviews; and on being answered there was no otherhis Majesty asked which ofthem was the best: Johnson answeredthat the Monthly Review was done with mostcarethe Critical upon the best principles; adding that the authours of theMonthly Review were enemies to the Church. This the King said he was sorry tohear.

The conversation next turned on the Philosophical Transactionswhen Johnsonobserved that they had now a better method of arranging their materials thanformerly. "Ay(said the King)they are obliged to Dr. Johnson forthat;" for his Majesty had heard and remembered the circumstancewhichJohnson himself had forgot.

His Majesty expressed a desire to have the literary biography of this countryably executedand proposed to Dr. Johnson to undertake it. Johnson signifiedhis readiness to comply with his Majesty's wishes.

During the whole of this interviewJohnson talked to his Majesty withprofound respectbut still in his firm manly mannerwith a sonorous voiceandnever in that subdued tone which is commonly used at the levee and in thedrawing room. After the King withdrewJohnson shewed himself highly pleasedwith his Majesty's conversationand gracious behaviour. He said to Mr. Barnard"Sirthey may talk of the King as they will; but he is the finestgentleman I have ever seen." And he afterwards observed to Mr. Langton"Sirhis manners are those of as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Lewisthe Fourteenth or Charles the Second."

At Sir Joshua Reynolds'swhere a circle of Johnson's friends was collectedround him to hear his account of this memorable conversationDr. Joseph Wartonin his frank and lively mannerwas very active in pressing him to mention theparticulars. "Come nowSirthis is an interesting matter; do favour uswith it." Johnsonwith great good humourcomplied.

He told them"I found his Majesty wished I should talk and I made it mybusiness to talk. I find it does a man good to be talked to by his sovereign. Inthe first placea man cannot be in a passion-." Here some questioninterrupted himwhich is to be regrettedas he certainly would have pointedout and illustrated many circumstances of advantagefrom being in a situationwhere the powers of the mind are at once excited to vigorous exertionandtempered by reverential awe.

During all the time in which Dr. Johnson was employed in relating to thecircle at Sir Joshua Reynolds's the particulars of what passed between the Kingand himDr. Goldsmith remained unmoved upon a sopha at some distanceaffectingnot to join in the least in the eager curiosity of the company. He assigned as areason for his gloom and seeming inattentionthat he apprehended Johnson hadrelinquished his purpose of furnishing him with a Prologue to his playwith thehopes of which he had been flattered; but it was strongly suspected that he wasfretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. Johnson had latelyenjoyed. At lengththe franknessand simplicity of his natural characterprevailed. He sprung from the sophaadvanced to Johnsonand in a kind offlutterfrom imagining himself in the situation which he had just been hearingdescribedexclaimed"Wellyou acquitted yourself in this conversationbetter than I should have done; for I should have bowed and stammered throughthe whole of it."

I received no letter from Johnson this year; nor have I discovered any of thecorrespondence * he hadexcept the two letters to Mr. Drummondwhich have beeninsertedfor the sake of connectionwith that to the same gentleman is 1766.His diary affords no light as to his employment at this time. He passed threemonths at Lichfield: *(2) and I cannot omit an affecting and solemn scene thereas related by himself: -

* It is proper here to mentionthat when I speak of his correspondenceIconsider it independent of the voluminous collection of letters whichin thecourse of many yearshe wrote to Mrs. Thralewhich forms a separate part ofhis works; and as a proof of the high estimation set on any thing which camefrom his penwas sold by that lady for the sum of five hundred pounds.

*(2) [In his letter to Mr. Drummond dated Oct. 241767he mentions that hehad arrived in Londonafter an absence of nearly six monthsin the country.Probably part of that time was spent at Oxford.- M.] -

"SundayOct. 181767. YesterdayOct. 17at about ten in the morningI took my leave forever of my dear old friendsCatharine Chamberswho came tolive with my mother about 1724and has been but little parted from us since.She buried my fathermy brotherand my mother. She is now fifty-eight yearsold.

"I desired all to withdrawthen told her that we were to part for ever;that as Christianswe should part with prayer; and that I wouldif she waswillingsay a short prayer beside her. She expressed great desire to hear me;and held up her poor hands as she lay in bedwith great fervourwhile Iprayedkneeling by hernearly in the following words:

"Almighty and most merciful Fatherwhose loving kindness is over allthy worksbeholdvisitand relieve this thy servantwho is grieved withsickness. Grant that the sense of her weakness may add strength to her faithand seriousness to her repentance. And grant that by the help of thy HolySpiritafter the pains and labours of this short lifewe may all obtaineverlasting happinessthrough JESUS CHRIST our Lordfor whose sake hear ourprayers. Amen. Our Father&c.

"I then kissed her. She told methat to part was the greatest pain thatshe had ever feltand that she hoped we should meet again in a better place. Iexpressedwith swelled eyesand great emotion of tendernessthe same hopes.We kissed and parted. I humbly hope to meet againand to part no more." *-

* Prayers and Meditations pp. 77 and 78. -

By those who have been taught to look upon Johnson as a man of a harsh andstern characterlet this tender and affectionate scene be candidly read; andlet them then judge whether more warmth of heartand grateful kindnessisoften found in human nature.

We have the following notice in his devotional record:

"August 21767. I have been disturbed and unsettled for a long timeand have been without resolution to apply to study or to businessbeinghindered by sudden snatches." * -

* Prayers and Meditations p. 73. -

Hehoweverfurnished Mr. Adams with a dedication (@) to the King of thatingenious gentleman's "Treatise on the Globes" conceived andexpressed in such a manner as could not fail to be very grateful to a Monarchdistinguished for his love of the sciences.

This year was published a ridicule of his styleunder the title of"Lexiphanes." Sir John Hawkins ascribes it to Dr. Kenrick; but itsauthour was one Campbella Scotch purser in the navy. The ridicule consisted inapplying Johnson's "words of large meaning" to insignificant mattersas if one should put the armour of Goliath upon a dwarf. The contrast might belaughable; but the dignity of the armour must remain the same in allconsiderable minds. This malicious drollerythereforeit may easily besupposedcould do no harm to its illustrious object. -




"THAT you have been all summer in London is one more reason for which Iregret my long stay in the country. I hope that you will not leave the townbefore my return. We have here only the chance of vacanciesin the passingcarriagesand I have bespoken one that mayif it happensbring me to town onthe fourteenth of this month: but this is not certain.

"It will be a favour if you communicate this to Mrs. Williams: I long tosee all my friends.

"I amdear Sir

"Your most humble servant


"LichfieldOct. 191767."

1768: AETAT. 59 -

It appears from his notes of the state of his mind* that he suffered greatperturbation and distraction in 1768. Nothing of his writings was given to thepublick this yearexcept the Prologue (@) to his friend Goldsmith's comedy of"The Good-natured Man." The first lines of this Prologue are stronglycharacteristical of the dismal gloom of his mind; which in his caseas in thecase of all who are distressed with the same malady of imaginationtransfers toothers its own feelings. Who could suppose it was to introduce a comedywhenMr. Bensley solemnly began-

"Press'd with the load of lifethe weary mind

Surveys the general toil of human kind." -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 81. -

But this dark ground might make Goldsmith's humour shine the more. * -

* [In this prologueas Mr. John Taylor informs meafter the fourth line-"And social sorrow loses half its pain" the following couplet wasinserted:

"Amidst the toils of this returning year

When senators and nobles learn to fear;

Our little bard without complaint may share

The bustling season's epidemick care:"

So the Prologue appeared in "the Publick Advertiser" (thetheatrical gazette of that day) soon after the first representation of thiscomedy in 1768.- Goldsmith probably thought that the lines printed in Italickcharacterswhichhoweverseem necessaryor at least improve the sensemightgive offenceand therefore prevailed on Johnson to omit them. The epithetlittlewhich perhaps the authour thought might diminish his dignitywas alsochanged to anxious. - M.] -

In the spring of this yearhaving published my "Account of Corsicawith the Journal of a Tour to that Island" I returned to Londonverydesirous to see Dr. Johnsonand hear him upon the subject. I found he was atOxfordwith his friend Mr. Chamberswho was now Vinerian Professorand livedin New Inn Hall. Having had no letter from him since that in which he criticisedthe Latinity of my Thesisand having been told by somebody that he was offendedat my having put into my book an extract of his letter to me at ParisI wasimpatient to be with himand therefore followed him to Oxfordwhere I wasentertained by Mr. Chamberswith a civility which I shall ever gratefullyremember. I found that Dr. Johnson had sent a letter to me to Scotlandand thatI had nothing to complain of but his being more indifferent to my anxiety than Iwished him to be. Instead of givingwith the circumstances of time and placesuch fragments of his conversation as I preserved during this visit to OxfordIshall throw them together in continuation.

I asked him whetheras a moralisthe did not think that the practice of thelawin some degreehurt the nice feeling of honesty. JOHNSON. "Why noSirif you act properly. You are not to deceive your clients with falserepresentations of your opinion: you are not to tell lies to a judge."BOSWELL. "But what do you think of supporting a cause which you know to bebad?" JOHNSON. "Siryou do not know it to be good or bad till thejudge determines it. I have said that you are to state facts fairly; so thatyour thinkingor what you call knowinga cause to be badmust be fromreasoningmust be from your supposing your arguments to be weak andinconclusive. ButSirthat is not enough. An argument which does not convinceyourselfmay convince the Judge to whom you urge it; and if it does convincehimwhythenSiryou are wrongand he is right. It is his business tojudge; and you are not to be confident in your own opinion that a cause is badbut to say all you can for your clientand then hear the Judge's opinion."BOSWELL. "ButSirdoes not affecting a warmth when you have no warmthand appearing to be clearly of one opinionwhen you are in reality of anotheropiniondoes not such dissimulation impair one's honesty? Is there not somedanger that a lawyer may put on the same mask in common lifein the intercoursewith his friends?" JOHNSON. "Why noSir. Every body knows you arepaid for affecting warmth for your client; and it isthereforeproperly nodissimulation: the moment you come from the bar you resume your usual behaviour.Sira man will no more carry the artifice of the bar into the commonintercourse of societythan a man who is paid for tumbling upon his hands willcontinue to tumble upon his hands when he should walk on his feet." * -

* [See "The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides" Aug. 15whereJohnson has supported the same argument.- J. BOSWELL.] -

Talking of some of the modern playshe said"False Delicacy" wastotally void of character. He praised Goldsmith's "Good-natured Man;"saidit was the best comedythat had appeared since "The ProvokedHusband" and that there had not been of late any such character exhibitedon the stage as that of Croaker. I observed it was the Suspirius of his Rambler.He saidGoldsmith had owned he had borrowed it from thence. "Sir(continued he) there is all the difference in the world between characters ofnature and characters of manners; and there is the difference between thecharacters of Fielding and those of Richardson. Characters of manners are veryentertaining; but they are to be understoodby a more superficial observerthan characters of naturewhere a man must dive into the recesses of the humanheart."

It always appeared to me that he estimated the compositions of Richardson toohighlyand that he had an unreasonable prejudice against Fielding. In comparingthose two writershe used this expression: "that there was as great adifference between themas between a man who knew how a watch was madeand aman who could tell the hour by looking on the dial-plate." This was a shortand figurative state of his distinction between drawing characters of nature andcharacters only of manners. But I cannot help being of opinionthat the neatwatches of Fielding are as well constructed as the large clocks of Richardsonand that his dial-plates are brighter. Fielding's charactersthough they do notexpand themselves so widely in dissertationare as just pictures of humannatureand I will venture to sayhave more striking featuresand nicertouches of the pencil; and though Johnson used to quote with approbation asaying of Richardson's"that the virtues of Fielding's heroes were thevices of a truly good man" I will venture to addthat the moral tendencyof Fielding's writingsthough it does not encourage a strained and rarelypossible virtueis ever favourable to honour and honestyand cherishes thebenevolent and generous affections. He who is as good as Fielding would makehimis an amiable member of societyand may be led on by more regulatedinstructorsto a higher state of ethical perfection.

Johnson proceeded: "Even Sir Francis Wronghead is a character ofmannersthough drawn with great humour." He then repeatedvery happilyall Sir Francis's credulous account to Manly of his being with "the greatman" and securing a place. I asked himif "The SuspiciousHusband" did not furnish a well-drawn characterthat of Ranger. JOHNSON:"NoSir; Ranger is just a rakea mere rakeand a lively young fellowbut no character. "

The great Douglas Cause was at this time a very general subject ofdiscussion. I found he had not studied it with much attentionbut had onlyheard parts of it occasionally. Hehowevertalked of itand said"I amof opinion that positive proof of fraud should not be required of the plaintiffbut that the Judges should decide according as probability shall appear topreponderategranting to the defendant the presumption of filiation to bestrong in his favour. And I think toothat a good deal of weight should beallowed to the dying declarationsbecause they were spontaneous. There is agreat difference between what is said without our being urged to itand what issaid from a kind of compulsion. If I praise a man's book without being asked myopinion of itthat is honest praiseto which one may trust. But if an authorasks me if I like his bookand I give him something like praiseit must not betaken as my real opinion."

"I have not been troubled for a long time with authours desiring myopinion of their works. I used once to be sadly plagued with a man who wroteversesbut who literally had no other notion of a versebut that it consistedof ten syllables. Lay your knife and your forkacross your platewas to him averse: -

(See illustration.) -

As he wrote a great number of verseshe sometimes by chance made good onesthough he did not know it."

He renewed his promise of coming to Scotlandand going with me to theHebridesbut said he would now content himself with seeing one or two of themost curious of them. He said "Macaulaywho writes the account of St.Kildaset out with a prejudice against prejudiceand wanted to be a smartmodern thinker; and yet affirms for a truththat when a ship arrives there allthe inhabitants are seized with a cold."

Dr. John Campbellthe celebrated writertook a great deal of pains toascertain this factand attempted to account for it on physical principlesfrom the effect of effluvia from human bodies. Johnsonat another timepraisedMacaulay for his "magnanimity" in asserting this wonderful storybecause it was well attested. A lady of Norfolkby a letter to my friend Dr.Burneyhas favoured me with the following solution: "Now for theexplication of this seeming mysterywhich is so very obvious asfor thatreasonto have escaped the penetration of Dr. Johnson and his friendas wellas that of the authour. Reading the book with my ingenious friendthe lateReverend Mr. Christian of Docking- after ruminating a little'The cause(sayshe) is a natural one. The situation of St. Kilda renders a North-East Windindispensably necessary before a stranger can land. The windnot the strangeroccasions an epidemick cold: If I am not mistakenMr. Macaulay is dead; iflivingthis solution might please himas I hope it will Mr. Boswellin returnfor the many agreeable hours his works have afforded us.'"

Johnson expatiated on the advantages of Oxford for learning. "There ishereSir(said he)such a progressive emulation. The students are anxious toappear well to their tutors; the tutors are anxious to have their pupils appearwell in the college; the colleges are anxious to have their students appear wellin the University; and there are excellent rules of discipline in every college.That the rules are sometimes ill observedmay be true; but is nothing againstthe system. The members of an University mayfor a seasonbe unmindful oftheir duty. I am arguing for the excellency of the institution."

Of Guthriehe said"Sirhe is a man of parts. He has no great regularfund of knowledge; but by reading so longand writing so longhe no doubt haspicked up a good deal."

He said he had lately been a long while at Lichfieldbut had grown veryweary before he left it. BOSWELL. "I wonder at thatSir; it is your nativeplace." JOHNSON. "Why so is Scotland your native place."

His prejudice against Scotland appeared remarkably strong at this time. WhenI talked of our advancement in literature"Sir(said he) you have learnta little from usand you think yourselves very great men. Hume would never havewritten Historyhad not Voltaire written it before him. He is an echo ofVoltaire." BOSWELL. "ButSirwe have Lord Kames." JOHNSON."You have Lord Kames. Keep him; hahaha! We don't envy you him. Do youever see Dr. Robertson?" BOSWELL. "YesSir." JOHNSON. "Doesthe dog talk of me?" BOSWELL. "IndeedSirhe doesand lovesyou." Thinking that I now had him in a cornerand being solicitous for theliterary fame of my countryI pressed him for his opinion on the merit of Dr.Robertson's History of Scotland. Butto my surprizehe escaped.- "SirIlove Robertsonand I won't talk of his book."

It is but justice both to him and Dr. Robertson to addthat though heindulged himself in this sally of withe had too good taste not to be fullysensible of the merits of that admirable work.

An essaywritten by Mr. Deanea Divine of the Church of Englandmaintaining the future life of brutesby an explication of certain parts of thescriptureswas mentionedand the doctrine insisted on by a gentleman whoseemed fond of curious speculation. Johnsonwho did not like to hear of anything concerning a future state which was not authorized by the regular canonsof orthodoxydiscouraged this talk; and being offended at its continuationhewatched an opportunity to give the gentleman a blow of reprehension. Sowhenthe poor speculatistwith a serious metaphysical pensive faceaddressed him"But reallySirwhen we see a very sensible dogwe don't know what tothink of him" Johnsonrolling with joy at the thought which beamed in hiseyeturned quickly roundand replied"TrueSir: and when we see a veryfoolish fellowwe don't know what to think of him. " He then rose upstrided to the fireand stood for some time laughing and exulting.

I told him that I had several times when in Italyseen the experiment ofplacing a scorpion within a circle of burning coals; that it ran round and roundin extreme pain; and finding no way to escaperetired to the centreand like atrue Stoick philosopherdarted its sting into its headand thus at oncefreeditself from its woes. "This must end 'em." I saidthis was a curiousfactas it shewed deliberate suicide in a reptile. Johnson would not admit thefact. He saidMaupertuis * was of opinion that it does not kill itselfbutdies of the heatthat it gets to the centre of the circleas the coolestplace; that its turning its tail in upon its head is merely a convulsionandthat it does not sting itself. He said he would be satisfied if the greatanatomist Morgagniafter dissecting a scorpion on which the experiment had beentriedshould certify that its sting had penetrated into its head. -

* I should think it impossible not to wonder at the variety of Johnson'sreadinghowever desultory it might have been. Who could have imagined that theHigh Church of England-man would be so prompt in quoting MaupertuiswhoI amsorry to thinkstands in the list of those unfortunate mistaken menwho callthemselves esprits forts. I havehowevera high respect for that Philosopherwhom the Great Frederick of Prussia loved and honouredand addressedpathetically in one of his Poems

"Maupertuis cher Maupertius

Que notre vie est peu de chose."

There was in Maupertuis a vigour and yet a tenderness of sentiment unitedwith strong intellectual powersand uncommon ardour of soul. Would he had beena Christian! I cannot help earnestly venturing to hope that he is one now.

[Maupertuis died in 1759 at the age of 62in the arms of the Bernoullistres Chretiennement. - BURNEY.] -

He seemed pleased to talk of natural philosophy. "That woodcocks(saidhe) fly over the northern countriesis provedbecause they have been observedat sea. Swallows certainly sleep all the winter. A number of them conglobulatetogetherby flying round and roundand then all in a heap throw themselvesunder waterand lye in the bed of a river." He told usone of his firstessays was a Latin poem upon the glow-worm. I am sorry I did not ask where itwas to be found.

Talking of the Russians and the Chinesehe advised me to read Bell'sTravels. I asked him whether I should read Du Halde's Account of China."Why yes(said he) as one reads such a book; that is to sayconsultit."

He talked of the heinousness of the crime of adulteryby which the peace offamilies was destroyed. He said"Confusion of progeny constitutes theessence of the crime; and therefore a woman who breaks her marriage vows is muchmore criminal than a man who does it. A manto be sureis criminal in thesight of GOD; but he does not do his wife a very material injuryif he does notinsult her; iffor instancefrom mere wantonness of appetitehe stealsprivately to her chambermaid. Sira wife ought not greatly to resent this. Iwould not receive home a daughter who had run away from her husband on thataccount. A wife should study to reclaim her husband by more attention to pleasehim. Sira man will notonce in a hundred instancesleave his wife and go toa harlotif his wife has not been negligent of pleasing."

Here he discovered that acute discriminationthat solid judgementand thatknowledge of human naturefor which he was upon all occasions remarkable.Taking care to keep in view the moral and religious dutyas understood in ournationhe shewed clearly from reason and good sensethe greater degree ofculpability in the one sex deviating from it than the other; andat the sametimeinculcated a very useful lesson as to the way to keep him.

I asked him if it was not hard that one deviation from chastity should soabsolutely ruin a young woman. JOHNSON. "Why noSir; it is the greatprinciple which she is taught. When she has given up that principleshe hasgiven up every notion of female honour and virtuewhich are all included inchastity."

A gentleman talked to him of a lady whom he greatly admired and wished tomarrybut was afraid of her superiority of talents. "Sir(said he) youneed not be afraid; marry her. Before a year goes aboutyou'll find that reasonmuch weakerand that wit not so bright." Yet the gentleman may bejustified in his apprehension by one of Dr. Johnson's admirable sentences in hislife of Waller: "He doubtless praised many whom he would have been afraidto marry; andperhapsmarried one whom he would have been ashamed to praise.Many qualities contribute to domestick happinessupon which poetry has nocolours to bestow: and many airs and sallies may delight imaginationwhich hewho flatters them never can approve."

He praised Signor Baretti. "His account of Italy is a very entertainingbook; andSirI know no man who carries his head higher in conversation thanBaretti. There are strong powers in his mind. He has notindeedmany hooks;but with what hooks he hashe grapples very forcibly."

At this time I observed upon the dial-plate of his watch a short Greekinscriptiontaken from the New TestamentNux gar erchetaibeing the firstwords of our SAVIOUR'S solemn admonition to the improvement of that time whichis allowed us to prepare for eternity; "the night cometh when no man canwork." He sometime afterwards laid aside this dial-plate; and when I askedhim the reasonhe said"It might do very well upon a clock which a mankeeps in his closet; but to have it upon his watch which he carries about withhimand which is often looked at by othersmight be censured asostentatious." Mr. Steevens is now possessed of the dial-plate inscribed asabove.

He remained at Oxford a considerable time; I was obliged to go to Londonwhere I received his letterwhich had been returned from Scotland. -



"I HAVE omitted a long time to write to youwithout knowing very wellwhy. I could now tell why I should not write; for who would write to men whopublish the letters of their friendswithout their leave? Yet I write to you inspite of my cautionto tell you that I shall be glad to see youand that Iwish you would empty your head of Corsicawhich I think has filled it rathertoo long. Butat all eventsI shall be gladvery glad to see you.

"I amSir

"Yours affectionately


"OxfordMarch 231768." -

I answered thus: -


"London26th April1768.


"I HAVE received your last letterwhichthough very shortand by nomeans complimentaryyet gave me real pleasurebecause it contains these words'I shall be gladvery glad to see you.'- Surely you have no reason to complainof my publishing a single paragraph of one of your letters; the temptation to itwas so strong. An irrevocable grant of your friendshipand your dignifying mydesire of visiting Corsica with the epithet of 'a wise and noble curiosity' areto me more valuable than many of the grants of kings.

"But how can you bid me 'empty my head of Corsica?' My noble-mindedfrienddo you not feel for an oppressed nation bravely struggling to be free?Consider fairly what is the case. The Corsicans never received any kindness fromthe Genoese. They never agreed to be subject to them. They owe them nothingandwhen reduced to an abject state of slaveryby forceshall they not rise in thegreat cause of libertyand break the galling yoke? And shall not every liberalsoul be warm for them? Empty my head of Corsica? Empty it of honourempty it ofhumanityempty it of friendshipempty it of piety. No! while I liveCorsicaand the cause of the brave islanders shall ever employ much of my attentionshall ever interest me in the sincerest manner....

"I am&c.



"OxfordApr. 181768.


"YOU have had a very great loss. To lose an old friendis to be cut offfrom a great part of the little pleasure that this life allows. But such is thecondition of our naturethat as we live on we must see those whom we love dropsuccessivelyand find our circle of relation grow less and lesstill we arealmost unconnected with the world; and then it must soon be our turn to dropinto the grave. There is always this consolationthat we have one Protector whocan never be lost but by our own faultand every new experience of theuncertainty of all other comforts should determine us to fix our hearts wheretrue joys are to be found. All union with the inhabitants of earth must in timebe broken; and all the hopes that terminate heremust on [one] part or otherend in disappointment.

"I am glad that Mrs. Adey and Mrs. Cobb do not leave you alone. Pay myrespects to themand the Sewardsand all my friends. When Mr. Porter comeshewill direct you. Let me know of his arrivaland I will write to him.

"When I go back to LondonI will take care of your reading glass.Whenever I can do any thing for youremembermy dear darlingthat one of mygreatest pleasures is to please you.

"The punctuality of your correspondence I consider as a proof of greatregard. When we shall see each otherI know notbut let us often think on eachotherand think with tenderness. Do not forget me in your prayers. I have for along time back been very poorly; but of what use is it to complain?

"Write oftenfor your letters always give great pleasure to

"My dear

"Your most affectionate

"And most humble servant


Upon his arrival in London in Mayhe surprized me one morning with a visitat my lodging in Half-Moon-streetwas quite satisfied with my explanationandwas in the kindest and most agreeable frame of mind. As he had objected to apart of one of his letters being publishedI thought it right to take thisopportunity of asking him explicitly whether it would be improper to publish hisletters after his death. His answer was"NaySirwhen I am deadyou maydo as you will."

He talked in his usual style with a rough contempt of popular liberty."They make a rout about universal libertywithout considering that allthat is to be valuedor indeed can be enjoyed by individualsis privateliberty. Political liberty is good only so far as it produces private liberty.NowSirthere is the liberty of the presswhich you know is a constanttopick. Suppose you and I and two hundred more were restrained from printing ourthoughts: what then? What proportion would that restraint upon us bear to theprivate happiness of the nation?"

This mode of representing the inconveniences of restraint as light andinsignificantwas a kind of sophistry in which he delighted to indulge himselfin opposition to the extreme laxity for which it has been fashionable for toomany to arguewhen it is evident upon reflectionthat the very essence ofgovernment is restraint; and certain it isthat as government produces rationalhappinesstoo much restraint is better than too little. But when restraint isunnecessaryand so close as to gall those who are subject to itthe people mayand ought to remonstrate; andif relief is not grantedto resist. Of thismanly and spirited principleno man was more convinced than Johnson himself.

About this time Dr. Kenrick attacked himthrough my sidesin a pamphletentitled "An Epistle to James BoswellEsq. occasioned by his havingtransmitted the moral Writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson to Pascal PaoliGeneral ofthe Corsicans." I was at first inclined to answer this pamphlet; butJohnson who knew that my doing so would only gratify Kenrickby keeping alivewhat would soon die away of itselfwould not suffer me to take any notice ofit.

His sincere regard for Francis Barberhis faithful negro servantmade himso desirous of his further improvementthat he now placed him at school atBishop Stortfordin Hertfordshire. This humane attention does Johnson's heartmuch honour. Out of many letters which Mr. Barber received from his masterhehas preserved threewhich he kindly gave meand which I shall insert accordingto their dates. -



"I HAVE been very much out of order. I am glad to hear that you arewelland design to come soon to you. I would have you stay at Mrs. Clapp's forthe presenttill I can determine what we shall do. Be a good boy.

"My compliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Fowler. I am

"Your's affectionately


"May 281768." -

Soon afterwardshe supped at the Crown and Anchor tavernin the Strandwith a company whom I collected to meet him. They were Dr. Percynow Bishop ofDromoreDr. Douglasnow Bishop of SalisburyMr. LangtonDr. Robertson theHistorianDr. Hugh Blairand Mr. Thomas Davieswho wished much to beintroduced to these eminent Scotch literati; but on the present occasionhe hadvery little opportunity of hearing them talkfor with an excess of prudencefor which Johnson afterwards found fault with themthey hardly opened theirlipsand that only to say something which they were certain would not exposethem to the sword of Goliath; such was their anxiety for their fame when in thepresence of Johnson. He was this evening in remarkable vigour of mindand eagerto exert himself in conversationwhich he did with great readiness and fluency;but I am sorry to find that I have preserved but a small part of what passed.

He allowed high praise to Thomson as a poet; but when one of the company saidhe was also a very good manour moralist contested this with great warmthaccusing him of gross sensuality and licentiousness of manners. I was very muchafraid that in writing Thomson's lifeDr. Johnson would have treated hisprivate character with a stern severitybut I was agreeably disappointed; and Imay claim a little merit in itfrom my having been at pains to send himauthentick accounts of the affectionate and generous conduct of that poet to hissistersone of whomthe wife of Mr. Thomsonschoolmaster at LanarkI knewand was presented by her with three of his lettersone of which Dr. Johnson hasinserted in his life.

He was vehement against old Dr. Mounsey* of Chelsea Collegeas "afellow who swore and talked bawdy." "I have often been in his company(said Dr. Percy) and never heard him swear or talk bawdy." Mr. Davies whosat next to Dr. Percyhaving after this had some conversation aside with himmade a discovery whichin his zeal to pay court to Dr. Johnsonhe eagerlyproclaimed aloud from the foot of the table: "OSirI have found out avery good reason why Dr. Percy never heard Mounsey swear or talk bawdyfor hetells me he never saw him but at the Duke of Northumberland's table.""And soSir(said Dr. Johnson loudly to Dr. Percy) you would shield thisman from the charge of swearing and talking bawdybecause he did not do so atthe Duke of Northumberland's table. Siryou might as well tell us that you hadseen him hold up his hand at the Old Baileyand he neither swore nor talkedbawdy; or that you had seen him in the cart at Tyburnand he neither swore nortalked bawdy. And is it thusSirthat you presume to controvert what I haverelated?" Dr. Johnson's animadversion was uttered in such a mannerthatDr. Percy seemed to be displeasedand soon afterwards left the companyofwhich Johnson did not at that time take any notice. -

* [Messenger MounseyM.D. died at his apartments in Chelsea CollegeDec.261788at the great age of ninety-five. An extraordinary direction in hiswill may be found in the GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE vol. 50p. ii. p. 1183.- M.] -

Swift having been mentionedJohnsonas usualtreated him with littlerespect as an authour. Some of us endeavoured to support the Dean of St.Patrick'sby various arguments. One in particular praised his "Conduct ofthe Allies." JOHNSON. "Sirhis 'Conduct of the Allies' is aperformance of very little ability." "SurelySir(said Dr. Douglas)you must allow it has strong facts." * JOHNSON. "Why yesSir; butwhat is that to the merit of the composition? In the Sessions-paper of the OldBailey there are strong facts. House-breaking is a strong fact; robbery is astrong fact; and murder is a mighty strong fact: but is great praise due to thehistorian of those strong facts? NoSirSwift has told what he had to telldistinctly enoughbut that is all. He had to count tenand he has counted itright."- Then recollecting that Mr. Daviesby acting as an informerhadbeen the occasion of his talking somewhat too harshly to his friend Dr. Percyfor whichprobablywhen the first ebullition was overhe felt somecompunctionhe took an opportunity to give him a hit: so addedwith apreparatory laugh"WhySirTom Davies might have written 'the Conduct ofthe Allies.'" Poor Tom being thus suddenly dragged into ludicrous notice inpresence of the Scottish Doctorsto whom he was ambitious of appearing toadvantagewas grievously mortified. Nor did his punishment rest here; for uponsubsequent occasionswhenever he"statesman all o'er" *(2) assumeda strutting importanceI used to hail him- "the Authour of the Conduct ofthe Allies." -

* My respectable friendupon reading this passageobserved that he probablymust have said not simply "strong facts" but "strong facts wellarranged." His lordshiphoweverknows too well the value of writtendocuments to insist on setting his recollection against my notes taken at thetime. He does not attempt to traverse the record. The factperhapsmay havebeeneither that the additional words escaped me in the noise of a numerouscompanyor that Dr. Johnsonfrom his impetuosityand eagerness to seize anopportunity to make a lively retortdid not allow Dr. Douglas to finish hissentence.

*(2) See the hard drawing of him in Churchill's ROSCIAD.

When I called upon Dr. Johnson next morningI found him highly satisfiedwith his colloquial prowess the preceding evening. "Well(said he) we hadgood talk." BOSWELL. "YesSiryou tossed and gored severalpersons."

The late Alexander Earl of Eglintounewho loved wit more than wineand menof genius more than sycophantshad a great admiration of Johnson; but from theremarkable elegance of his own mannerswasperhapstoo delicately sensible ofthe roughness which sometimes appeared in Johnson's behaviour. One evening aboutthis timewhen his Lordship did me the honour to sup at my lodgings with Dr.Robertson and several other men of literary distinctionhe regretted thatJohnson had not been educated with more refinementand lived more in polishedsociety. "Nonomy Lord(said Signor Baretti) do with him what youwouldhe would always have been a bear." "True(answered the Earlwith a smile) but he would have been a dancing bear."

To obviate all the reflections which have gone round the world to Johnson'sprejudiceby applying to him the epithet of a bearlet me impress upon myreaders a just and happy saying of my friend Goldsmithwho knew him well:"Johnsonto be surehas a roughness in his manner: but no man alive has amore tender heart. He has nothing of the bear but his skin. "

1769: AETAT. 60 -

In 1769so far as I can discoverthe publick was favoured with nothing ofJohnson's compositioneither for himself or any of his friends. His"Meditations" too strongly prove that he suffered much both in bodyand mind; yet was he perpetually striving against eviland nobly endeavouringto advance his intellectual and devotional improvement. Every generous andgrateful heart must feel for the distresses of so eminent a benefactor tomankind; and now that his unhappiness is certainly knownmust respect thatdignity of character which prevented him from complaining.

His Majesty having the preceding year instituted the Royal Academy of Arts inLondonJohnson had now the honour of being appointed Professor in AncientLiterature. * In the course of the year he wrote some letters to Mrs. Thralepassed some part of the summer at Oxford and at Lichfieldand when at Oxford hewrote the following letter: -

* In which place he has been succeeded by Bennet LangtonEsq. When thattruly religious gentleman was elected to this honorary Professorshipat thesame time that Edward GibbonEsq. noted for introducing a kind of sneeringinfidelity into his Historical Writingswas elected Professor in AncientHistoryin the room of Dr. GoldsmithI observed that it brought to my mind"Wicked Will Whiston and good Mr. Ditton."- I am now also of thatadmirable institution as Secretary for Foreign Correspondenceby the favour ofthe Academiciansand the approbation of the Sovereign. -



"MANY years agowhen I used to read in the library of your CollegeIpromised to recompence the college for that permissionby adding to their booksa Baskerville's Virgil. I have now sent itand desire you to reposit it on theshelves in my name. *

"If you will be pleased to let me know when you have an hour of leisureI will drink tea with you. I am engaged for the afternoonto-morrow and onFriday: all my mornings are my own. *(2)

"I am &c.


"May 311769." -

* "It has this inscription in a blank-leaf: 'Hunc librum D.D. SamuelJohnsoneo quod hic loci studiis interdum vacaret.' Of this librarywhich isan old Gothic roomhe was very fond. On my observing to him that some of themodern libraries of the University were more commodious and pleasant for studyas being more spacious and airyhe replied'Sirif a man has a mind toprancehe must study at Christ-Church and All-Souls.'"

*(2) "During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to bedeeply engaged in some literary work. Miss Williams was now with him. atOxford." -

I came to London in the autumnand having informed him that I was going tobe married in a few monthsI wished to have as much of his conversation as Icould before engaging in a state of life which would probably keep me more inScotlandand prevent me seeing him so often as when I was a single man; but Ifound he was at Brighthelmstone with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale. I was very sorry thatI had not his company with me at the Jubileein honour of ShakspeareatStratford-upon-Avonthe great poet's native town. Johnson's connection bothwith Shakspeare and Garrick founded a double claim to his presence; and it wouldhave been highly gratifying to Mr. Garrick. Upon this occasion I particularlylamented that he had not that warmth of friendship for his brilliant pupilwhich we may suppose would have had a benignant effect on both. When almostevery man of eminence in the literary world was happy to partake in thisfestival of geniusthe absence of Johnson could not but be wondered at andregretted. The only trace of him therewas in the whimsical advertisement of ahaberdasherwho sold Shaksperian ribbands of various dyes; andby way ofillustrating their appropriation to the bardintroduced a line from thecelebrated Prologue at the opening of Drury-lane theater: -

"Each change of many-colour'd life he drew." -

From Brighthelmstone Dr. Johnson wrote me the following letterwhich theywho may think that I ought to have suppressedmust have less ardent feelingsthan I have always avowed. * -

* In the Preface to my Account of Corsicapublished in 1768I thus expressmyself:

"He who publishes a book affecting not to be an authourand professingan indifference for literary famemay possibly impose upon many people such anidea of his consequence as he wishes may be received. For my part I should beproud to be known as an authourand I have an ardent ambition for literaryfame; forof all possessions I should imagine literary fame to be the mostvaluable. A man who has been able to furnish a bookwhich has been approved bythe worldhas established himself as a respectable character in distantsocietywithout any danger of having that character lessened by the observationof his weaknesses. To preserve an uniform dignity among those who see us everydayis hardly possible; and to aim at itmust put us under the fetters ofperpetual restraint. The authour of an approved book may allow his naturaldisposition an easy playand yet indulge the pride of superiour geniuswhen heconsiders that by those who know him only as an authourhe never ceases to berespected. Such an authourwhen in his hours of gloom and discontentmay havethe consolation to thinkthat his writings areat that very timegivingpleasure to numbers; and such an authour may cherish the hope of beingremembered after deathwhich has been a great object to the noblest minds inall ages." -



"WHY do you charge me with unkindness? I have omitted nothing that coulddo you goodor give you pleasureunless it be that I have forborne to tell youmy opinion of your 'Account of Corsica.' I believe my opinionif you think wellof my judgementmight have given you pleasure; but when it is considered howmuch vanity is excited by praiseI am not sure that it would have done yougood. Your History is like other historiesbut your Journal is in a very highdegree curious and delightful. There is between the history and the journal thatdifference which there will always be found between notions borrowed fromwithoutand notions generated within. Your history was copied from books; yourjournal rose out of your own experience and observation. You express imageswhich operated strongly upon yourselfand you have impressed them with greatforce upon your readers. I know not whether I could name any narrative by whichcuriosity is better excitedor better gratified.

"I am glad that you are going to be married; and as I wish you well inthings of less importancewish you well with proportionate ardour in thiscrisis of your life. What I can contribute to your happinessI should be veryunwilling to withhold; for I have always loved and valued youand shall loveyou and value you still moreas you become more regular and useful: effectswhich a happy marriage will hardly fail to produce.

"I do not find that I am likely to come back very soon from this place.I shallperhapsstay a fortnight longer; and a fortnight is a long time to alover absent from his Mistress. Would a fortnight ever have an end?

"I amdear Sir

"Your most affectionate humble Servant



Sept. 91769." -

After his return to townwe met frequentlyand I continued the practice ofmaking notes of his conversationthough not with so much assiduity as I wish Ihad done. At this timeindeedI had a sufficient excuse for not being able toappropriate so much time to my journal; for General Paoliafter Corsica hadbeen overpowered by the monarchy of Francewas now no longer at the head of hisbrave countrymenbut having with difficulty escaped from his native islandhadsought an asylum in Great-Britain; and it was my dutyas well as my pleasureto attend much upon him. Such particulars of Johnson's conversation at thisperiod as I have committed to writingI shall here introducewithout anystrict attention to methodical arrangement. Sometimes short notes of differentdays shall be blended togetherand sometimes a day may seem important enough tobe separately distinguished.

He saidhe would not have Sunday kept with rigid severity and gloombutwith a gravity and simplicity of behaviour.

I told him that David Hume had made a short collection of Scotticisms."I wonder(said Johnson) that he should find them." * -

* [The first edition of Hume's History of England was full of Scotticismsmany of which he corrected in subsequent editions.- M.] -

He would not admit the importance of the question concerning the legality ofgeneral warrants. "Such a power (he observed) must be vested in everygovernmentto answer particular cases of necessity; and there can be no justcomplaint but when it is abusedfor which those who administer government mustbe answerable. It is a matter of such indifferencea matter about which thepeople care so very littlethat were a man to be sent over Britain to offerthem an exemption from it at a half-penny a piecevery few would purchaseit." This was a specimen of that laxity of talkingwhich I had heard himfairly acknowledge; forsurelywhile the power of granting general warrantswas supposed to be legaland the apprehension of them hung over our headswedid not possess that security of freedomcongenial to our happy constitutionand whichby the intrepid exertions of Mr. Wilkeshas been happilyestablished.

He said"The duration of Parliamentwhether for seven years or thelife of the Kingappears to me so immaterialthat I would not give half acrown to turn the scale one way or the other. The habeas corpus is the singleadvantage which our government has over that of other countries."

On the 30th of September we dined together at the Mitre. I attempted to arguefor the superiour happiness of the savage lifeupon the usual fanciful topicks.JOHNSON. "Sirthere can be nothing more false. The savages have no bodilyadvantages beyond those of civilised men. They have not better health; and as tocare or mental uneasinessthey are not above itbut below itlike bears. NoSir; you are not to talk such paradox: let me have no more on't. It cannotentertainfar less can it instruct. Lord Monboddoone of your Scotch Judgestalked a great deal of such nonsense. I suffered him; but I will not suffer you." BOSWELL. "ButSirdoes not Rousseau talk such nonsense?"JOHNSON. "TrueSirbut Rousseau knows he is talking nonsenseand laughsat the world for staring at him." BOSWELL. "How soSir?"JOHNSON. "WhySira man who talks nonsense so wellmust know that he istalking nonsense. But I am afraid(chuckling and laughing) Monboddo does notknow that he is talking nonsense." * BOSWELL. "Is it wrong thenSirto affect singularityin order to make people stare?" JOHNSON. "Yesif you do it by propagating errour; andindeedit is wrong in any way. Thereis in human nature a general inclination to make people stare; and every wiseman has himself to cure of itand does cure himself. If you wish to make peoplestare by doing better than otherswhy make them stare till they stare theireyes out. But consider how easy it is to make people stareby being absurd. Imay do it by going into a drawing-room without my shoes. You remember thegentleman in 'The Spectator' who had a commission of lunacy taken out againsthim for his extreme singularitysuch as never wearing a wigbut a night-cap.NowSirabstractedlythe night-cap was best: butrelativelythe advantagewas overbalanced by his making the boys run after him." -

* His Lordship having frequently spoken in an abusive manner of Dr. Johnsonin my companyI on one occasion during the life-time of my illustrious friendcould not refrain from retaliationand repeated to him this saying. He hassince published I don't know how many pages in one of his curious booksattemptingin much angerbut with pitiful effectto persuade mankind that myillustrious friend was not the great and good man which they esteem and everwill esteem him to be. -

Talking of a London lifehe said"The happiness of London is not to beconceived but by those who have been in it. I will venture to saythere is morelearning and science within the circumference of ten miles from where we nowsitthan in all the rest of the kingdom." BOSWELL. "The onlydisadvantage is the great distance at which people live from one another."JOHNSON. "YesSir; but that is occasioned by the largeness of itwhich isthe cause of all the other advantages." BOSWELL. "Sometimes I havebeen in the humour of wishing to retire to a desart." JOHNSON. "Siryou have desart enough in Scotland."

Although I had promised myself a great deal of instructive conversation withhim on the conduct of the married stateof which I had then a near prospecthedid not say much upon that topick. Mr. Seward heard him once saythat "aman has a very bad chance for happiness in that stateunless he marries a womanof very strong and fixed principles of religion." He maintained to mecontrary to the common notionthat a woman would not be the worse wife forbeing learned; in whichfrom all that I have observed of ArtemisiasI humblydiffered from him. That a woman should be sensible and well informedI allow tobe a great advantage; and think that Sir Thomas Overbury* in his rudeversificationhas very judiciously pointed out that degree of intelligencewhich is to be desired in a female companion: -

"Give menext goodan understanding wife

By Nature wisenot learned by much art;

Some knowledge on her side will all my life

More scope of conversation impart;

Besidesher inborne virtue fortifie;

They are most firmly goodwho best know why." -

* "A Wife" a poem1614. -

When I censured a gentleman of my acquaintance for marrying a second timeasit shewed a disregard of his first wifehe said "Not at all Sir. On thecontrarywere he not to marry againit might be concluded that his first wifehad given him a disgust to marriage; but by taking a second wife he pays thehighest compliment to the firstby shewing that she made him so happy as amarried manthat he wishes to be so a second time." So ingenious a turndid he give to this delicate question. And yeton another occasionhe ownedthat he once had almost asked a promise of Mrs. Johnson that she would not marryagainbut had checked himself. Indeed I cannot help thinkingthat in his casethe request would have been unreasonable; for if Mrs. Johnson forgotor thoughtit no injury to the memory of her first love- the husband of her youth and thefather of her children- to make a second marriagewhy should she be precludedfrom a thirdshould she be so inclined? In Johnson's persevering fondappropriation of his Tettyeven after her deceasehe seems totally to haveoverlooked the prior claim of the honest Birmingham trader. I presume that herhaving been married before hadat timesgiven him some uneasiness; for Iremember his observing upon the marriage of one of our common friends"Hehas done a very foolish thingSir; he has married a widowwhen he might havehad a maid."

We drank tea with Mrs. Williams. I had last year the pleasure of seeing Mrs.Thrale at Dr. Johnson's one morningand had conversation enough with her toadmire her talents; and to shew her that I was as Johnsonian as herself. Dr.Johnson had probably been kind enough to speak well of mefor this evening hedelivered me a very polite card from Mr. Thrale and herinviting me toStreatham.

On the 6th of October I complied with this obliging invitationand foundatan elegant villasix miles from townevery circumstance that can make societypleasing. Johnsonthough quite at homewas yet looked up to with an awetempered by affectionand seemed to be equally the care of his host andhostess. I rejoiced at seeing him so happy.

He played off his wit against Scotland with a good humoured pleasantrywhichgave methough no bigot to national prejudicesan opportunity for a littlecontest with him. I having said that England was obliged to us for gardenersalmost all their good gardeners being Scotchmen;- JOHNSON. "WhySirthatis because gardening is much more necessary amongst you than with uswhichmakes so many of your people learn it. It is all gardening with you. Thingswhich grow wild heremust be cultivated with great care in Scotland. Pray now(throwing himself back in his chairand laughing) are you ever able to bringthe sloe to perfection?"

I boasted that we had the honour of being the first to abolish theunhospitabletroublesomeand ungracious custom of giving vails to servants.JOHNSON. "Siryou abolished vailsbecause you were too poor to be able togive them."

Mrs. Thrale disputed with him on the merit of Prior. He attacked himpowerfully; said he wrote of love like a man who had never felt it: his loveverses were college verses; and he repeated the song "Alexis shunn'd hisfellow swains" &c. in so ludicrous a manneras to make us all wonderhow any one could have been pleased with such fantastical stuff. Mrs. Thralestood to her gun with great couragein defence of amorous dittieswhichJohnson despisedtill he at last silenced her by saying"My dear Ladytalk no more of this. Nonsense can be defended but by nonsense."

Mrs. Thrale then praised Garrick's talents for light gay poetry; andas aspecimenrepeated his song in "Florizel and Perdita" and dwelt withpeculiar pleasure on this line: -

"I'd smile with the simpleand feed with the poor." -

JOHNSON. "Naymy dear Ladythis will never do. Poor David! Smile withthe simple;- What folly is that? And who would feed with the poor that can helpit? Nono; let me smile with the wiseand feed with the rich." I repeatedthis sally to Garrickand wondered to find his sensibility as a writer not alittle irritated by it. To sooth him I observedthat Johnson spared none of us;and I quoted the passage in Horacein which he compares one who attacks hisfriends for the sake of a laughto a pushing oxthat is marked by a bunch ofhay put upon his horns: "faenum habet in cornu." "Ay(saidGarrickvehemently) he has a whole mow of it."

Talking of historyJohnson said "We may know historical facts to betrueas we may know facts in common life to be true. Motives are generallyunknown. We cannot trust to the characters we find in historyunless when theyare drawn by those who knew the persons; as thosefor instanceby Sallust andby Lord Clarendon."

He would not allow much merit to Whitfield's oratory. "His popularitySir(said he) is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of his manner. He would befollowed by crowds were he to wear a night-cap in the pulpitor were he topreach from a tree."

I know not from what spirit of contradiction he burst out into a violentdeclamation against the Corsicansof whose heroism I talked in high terms."Sir(said he) what is all this rout about the Corsicans? They have beenat war with the Genoese for upwards of twenty yearsand have never yet takentheir fortified towns. They might have battered down their wallsand reducedthem to powder in twenty years. They might have pulled the walls in piecesandcracked the stones with their teeth in twenty years." It was in vain toargue with him upon the want of artillery: he was not to be resisted for themoment.

On the evening of October 10I presented Dr. Johnson to General Paoli. I hadgreatly wished that two menfor whom I had the highest esteemshould meet.They met with a manly easemutually conscious of their own abilitiesand ofthe abilities of each other. The General spoke Italianand Dr. Johnson Englishand understood one another very wellwith a little aid of interpretation frommein which I compared myself to an isthmus which joins two great continents.Upon Johnson's approachthe General said"From what I have read of yourworksSirand from what Mr. Boswell has told me of youI have long held youin great veneration." The General talked of languages being formed on theparticular notions and manners of a peoplewithout knowing whichwe cannotknow the language. We may know the direct signification of single words; but bythese no beauty of expressionno sally of geniusno wit is conveyed to themind. All this must be by allusion to other ideas "Sir(said Johnson) youtalk of languageas if you had never done any thing else but study itinsteadof governing a nation." The General said"Questo e un troppo grancomplimento;" this is too great a compliment. Johnson answered"Ishould have thought soSirif I had not heard you talk." The Generalasked him what he thought of the spirit of infidelity which was so prevalent.JOHNSON. "Sirthis gloom of infidelityI hopeis only a transient cloudpassing through the hemispherewhich will soon be dissipated and the sun willbreak forth with his usual splendour." "You think then(said theGeneral) that they will change their principles like their clothes."JOHNSON. "WhySirif they bestow no more thought on principles than ondressit must be so." The General saidthat "a great part of thefashionable infidelity was owing to a desire of showing courage. Men who have noopportunities of shewing it as to things in this lifetake death and futurityas objects on which to display it." JOHNSON. "That is mighty foolishaffectation. Fear is one of the passions of human natureof which it isimpossible to divest it. You remember that the Emperour Charles V. when he readupon the tomb-stone of a Spanish nobleman'Here lies one who never knew fear'wittily said'Then he never snuffed a candle with his fingers.'"

He talked a few words of French to the General; but finding he did not do itwith facilityhe asked for peninkand paperand wrote the following note:

"J'ai lu dans la geographie de Lucas de Linda un Pater-noster ecrit dansune langue toute a-fait differente de l'Italienneet de toutes outreslesquelles se derivent du Latin. L'auteur l'appelle linguam Corsicae rusticam:elle a peut-etre passepeu a peu; mais elle a certainement prevalue autrefoisdans les montagnes et dans la campagne. Le meme auteur dit la meme chose enparlant de Sardaigne; qu'il y a deux langues dan l'Isleune des villesl'autrede la campagne."

The General immediately informed him that the lingua rustica was only inSardinia.

Dr. Johnson went home with meand drank tea till late in the night. He said"General Paoli had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen." Hedenied that military men were always the best bred men. "Perfect goodbreeding (he observed) consists in having no particular mark of any professionbut a general elegance of manners; whereasin a military manyou can commonlydistinguish the brand of a soldierl'homme d'epee. "

Dr. Johnson shunned to-night any discussion of the perplexed question of fateand free willwhich I attempted to agitate: "Sir(said he) we know ourwill is freeand there's an end on't."

He honoured me with his company at dinner on the 16th of Octoberat mylodgings in Old Bond-streetwith Sir Joshua ReynoldsMr. GarrickDr.GoldsmithMr. MurphyMr. Bickerstaffand Mr. Thomas Davies. Garrick playedround him with a fond vivacitytaking hold of the breasts of his coatandlooking up in his face with a lively archnesscomplimented him on the goodhealth which he seemed then to enjoy; while the sageshaking his headbeheldhim with a gentle complacency. One of the company not being come at theappointed hourI proposedas usual upon such occasionsto order dinner to beserved; adding"Ought six people to be kept waiting for one?""Whyyes(answered Johnsonwith a delicate humanity) if the one willsuffer more by your sitting downthan the six will do by waiting."Goldsmithto divert the tedious minutesstrutted aboutbragging of his dressand I believe was seriously vain of itfor his mind was wonderfully prone tosuch impressions. "Comecome(said Garrick) talk no more of that. Youare perhapsthe worst- eheh!"- Goldsmith was eagerly attempting tointerrupt himwhen Garrick went onlaughing ironically"Nayyou willalways look like a gentleman; but I am talking of being well or ill drest." "Welllet me tell you(said Goldsmith) when my taylor broughthome my bloom-coloured coathe said'SirI have a favour to beg of you. Whenany body asks you who made your clothesbe pleased to mention John Filbyatthe Harrowin Water-lane.'" JOHNSON. "WhySirthat was because heknew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at itand thus they mighthear of himand see how well he could make a coat even of so absurd acolour."

After dinner our conversation first turned upon Pope. Johnson saidhischaracters of men were admirably drawnthose of women not so well. He repeatedto usin his forcible melodious mannerthe concluding lines of the Dunciad. *While he was talking loudly in praise of those lines one of the company venturedto say"Too fine for such a poem:- a poem on what?" JOHNSON(with adisdainful look) "Whyon dunces. It was worth while being a dunce then.AhSirhadst thou lived in those days! It is not worth while being a duncenowwhen there are no wits." Bickerstaff observed as a peculiarcircumstancethat Pope's fame was higher when he was alive than it was then.Johnson saidhis Pastorals were poor thingsthough the versification was fine.He told uswith high satisfactionthe anecdote of Pope's enquiring who was theauthour of his "London" and sayinghe will be soon deterre. Heobservedthat in Dryden's poetry there were passages drawn from a profunditywhich Pope could never reach. He repeated some fine lines on loveby theformer(which I have now forgotten) and gave great applause to the characterof Zimri. Goldsmith saidthat Pope's character of Addison shewed a deepknowledge of the human heart. Johnson saidthat the description of the templein "The Mourning Bride" *(2) was the finest poetical passage he hadever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it.- "But(saidGarrickall alarmed for 'the God of his idolatry') we know not the extent andvariety of his powers. We are to suppose there are such passages in his works.Shakspeare must not suffer from the badness of our memories." Johnsondiverted by this enthusiastick jealousywent on with great ardour. "NoSir; Congreve has nature; " (smiling on the tragick eagerness of Garrick;)but composing himselfhe added"Sirthis is not comparing Congreve onthe whole with Shakspeare on the whole; but only maintaining that Congreve hasone finer passage than any that can be found in Shakspeare. Sira man may haveno more than ten guineas in the worldbut he may have those ten guineas in onepiece; and so may have a finer piece than a man who has ten thousand pounds: butthen he has only one ten-guinea piece.- What I mean isthat you can shew me nopassage where there is simply a description of material objectswithout anyintermixture of moral notions*(3) which produces such an effect." Mr.Murphy mentioned Shakspeare's

description of the night before the battle of Agincourt; but it was observedit had men in it. Mr. Davies suggested the speech of Julietin which shefigures herself awakening in the tomb of her ancestors. Some one mentioned thedescription of Dover Cliff. JOHNSON. "NoSir; it should be all precipice-all vacuum. The crows impede your fall. The diminished appearance of the boatsand other circumstancesare all very good description; but do not impress themind at once with the horrible idea of immense height. The impression isdivided; you pass on by computationfrom one stage of the tremendous space toanother. Had the girl in 'The Mourning Bride' saidshe could not cast her shoeto the top of one of the pillars in the templeit would not have aided theideabut weakened it." -

* [Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on the authorityof Spence) that Pope himself admired those lines so muchthat when he repeatedthemhis voice faltered: "and well it mightSir(said Johnson) for theyare noble lines."- J. BOSWELL.]

*(2) [Act ii. sc. 3.- M.]

*(3) [In Congreve's description there seems to be an intermixture of moralnations; as the affecting power of the passage arises from the vivid impressionof the described objects on the mind of the speaker: "And shoot achillness" &c.- KEARNEY.] -

Talking of a Barrister who had a bad utterancesome one(to rouse Johnson)wickedly saidthat he was unfortunate in not having been taught oratory bySheridan. JOHNSON. "NaySirif he had been taught by Sheridanhe wouldhave cleared the room." GARRICK. "Sheridan has too much vanity to be agood man."- We shall now see Johnson's mode of defending a man; taking himinto his own handsand discriminating. JOHNSON. "NoSir. There isto besurein Sheridansomething to reprehendand everything to laugh at; butSirhe is not a bad man. NoSirwere mankind to be divided into good and badhewould stand considerably within the ranks of good. AndSirit must be allowedthat Sheridan excels in plain declamationthough he can exhibit nocharacter."

I shouldperhapshave suppressed this disquisition concerning a person ofwhose merit and worth I think with respecthad he not attacked Johnson sooutrageously in his Life of Swiftandat the same timetreated us hisadmirers as a set of pigmies. He who has provoked the lash of witcannotcomplain that he smarts from it.

Mrs. Montaguea lady distinguished for having written an Essay onShakspearebeing mentioned;- REYNOLDS. "I think that essay does herhonour." JOHNSON. "YesSirit does her honourbut it would donobody else honour. I haveindeednot read it all. But when I take up the endof a weband find it packthreadI do not expectby looking furtherto findembroidery. SirI will venture to saythere is not one sentence of truecriticism in her book." GARRICK. "ButSirsurely it shews how muchVoltaire has mistaken Shakspearewhich nobody else has done." JOHNSON."Sirnobody else has thought it worth while. And what merit is there inthat? You may as well praise a schoolmaster for whipping a boy who has construedill. NoSirthere is no real criticism in it: none shewing the beauty ofthoughtas formed on the workings of the human heart."

The admirers of this Essay * may be offended at the slighting manner in whichJohnson spoke of it: but let it be rememberedthat he gave his honest opinionunbiassed by any prejudiceor any proud jealousy of a woman intruding herselfinto the chair of criticism; for Sir Joshua Reynolds has told methat when theEssay first came outand it was not known who had written itJohnson wonderedhow Sir Joshua could like it. At this time Sir Joshua himself had received noinformation concerning the authourexcept being assured by one of our mosteminent literatithat it was clear its authour did not know the Greek tragediesin the original. One day at Sir Joshua's tablewhen it was related that Mrs.Montaguein an excess of compliment to the authour of a modern tragedyhadexclaimed"I tremble for Shakspeare;" Johnson said"WhenShakspeare has got __ for his rivaland Mrs. Montague for his defenderhe isin a poor state indeed." -

* Of whom I acknowledge myself to be oneconsidering it as a piece of thesecondary or comparative species of criticism; and not of that profound specieswhich alone Dr. Johnson would allow to be "real criticism." It isbesidesclearly and elegantly expressedand has done effectually what itprofessed to donamelyvindicated Shakspeare from the misrepresentations ofVoltaire; and considering how many young people were misled by his wittythoughfalse observationsMrs. Montague's Essay was of service to Shakspeare with acertain class of readersand isthereforeentitled to praise. JohnsonI amassuredallowed the merit which I have stated saying(with reference toVoltaire) "it is conclusive ad hominem. " -

Johnson proceeded: "The Scotchman has taken the right method in his'Elements of Criticism.' I do not mean that he has taught us any thing; but hehas told us old things in a new way." MURPHY. "He seems to have read agreat deal of French criticismand wants to make it his own; as if he had beenfor years anatomising the heart of manand peeping into every cranny ofit." GOLDSMITH. "It is easier to write that bookthan to readit." JOHNSON. "We have an example of true criticism in Burke's 'Essayon the Sublime and Beautiful;' andif I recollectthere is also Du Bos; andBouhourswho shews all beauty to depend on truth. There is no great merit intelling how many plays have ghosts in themand how this Ghost is better thanthat. You must shew how terrour is impressed on the human heart.- In thedescription of night in Macbeththe beetle and the bat detract from the generalidea of darkness- inspissated gloom."

Politicks being mentionedhe said"This petitioning is a new mode ofdistressing governmentand a mighty easy one. I will undertake to get petitionseither against quarter guineas or half guineaswith the help of a little hotwine. There must be no yielding to encourage this. The object is not importantenough. We are not to blow up half a dozen palacesbecause one cottage isburning."

The conversation then took another turn. JOHNSON. "It is amazing whatignorance of certain points one sometimes finds in men of eminence. A wit abouttownwho wrote Latin bawdy versesasked mehow it happened that England andScotlandwhich were once two kingdomswere now one:- and Sir Fletcher Nortondid not seem to know that there were such publications as the Reviews."

"The ballad of Hardyknute has no great meritif it be really ancient. *People talk of nature. But mere obvious nature may be exhibited with very littlepower of mind." -

* [It is unquestionably a modern fiction. It was written by Sir John Bruce ofKinrossand first published at Edinburgh in folioin 1719. See Percy's"Reliques of ancient English Poetry" vol. ii. pp. 96III4th edit.-M.] -

On ThursdayOctober 19I passed the evening with him at his house. Headvised me to complete a Dictionary of words peculiar to Scotlandof which Ishewed him a specimen. "Sir(said he) Ray has made a collection ofnorth-country words. By collecting those of your countryyou will do a usefulthing towards the history of the language." He bade me also go on withcollections which I was making upon the antiquities of Scotland. "Make alarge book; a folio." BOSWELL. "But of what use will it beSir?"JOHNSON. "Never mind the use; do it."

I complained that he had not mentioned Garrick in his Preface to Shakspeare;and asked him if he did not admire him. JOHNSON. "Yesas 'a poor playerwho frets and struts his hour upon the stage;'- as a shadow." BOSWELL."But has he not brought Shakspeare into notice?" JOHNSON. "Sirto allow thatwould be to lampoon the age. Many of Shakspeare's plays are theworse for being acted: Macbethfor instance." BOSWELL. "WhatSirisnothing gained by decoration and action? IndeedI do wish that you hadmentioned Garrick." JOHNSON. "My dear Sirhad I mentioned himI musthave mentioned many more; Mrs. PritchardMrs. Cibber- nayand Mr. Cibber too;he too altered Shakspeare." BOSWELL. "You have read his apologySir?" JOHNSON. "Yesit is very entertaining. But as for Cibberhimselftaking from his conversation all that he ought not to have saidhe wasa poor creature. I remember when he brought me one of his Odes to have myopinion of itI could not bear such nonsenseand would not let him read it tothe end; so little respect had I for that great man! (laughing.) Yet I rememberRichardson wondering that I could treat him with familiarity."

I mentioned to him that I had seen the execution of several convicts atTyburntwo days beforeand that none of them seemed to be under any concern.JOHNSON. "Most of themSirhave never thought at all." BOSWELL."But is not the fear of death natural to man?" JOHNSON. "So muchsoSirthat the whole of life is but keeping away the thoughts of it." Hethenin a low and earnest tonetalked of his meditating upon the awful hour ofhis own dissolutionand in what manner he should conduct himself upon thatoccasion: "I know not (said he) whether I should wish to have a friend bymeor have it all between GOD and myself."

Talking of our feeling for the distresses of others;- JOHNSON"WhySirthere is much noise made about itbut it is greatly exaggerated. NoSirwe have a certain degree of feeling to prompt us to do good; more than thatProvidence does not intend. It would be misery to no purpose." BOSWELL."But suppose nowSirthat one of your intimate friends were apprehendedfor an offence for which he might be hanged." JOHNSON. "I should dowhat I could to bail himand give him any other assistance; but if he were oncefairly hangedI should not suffer." BOSWELL. "Would you eat yourdinner that daySir?" JOHNSON. "YesSir; and eat it as if he wereeating it with me. Whythere's Barettiwho is to be tried for his lifeto-morrowfriends have risen upfor him on every side; yet if he should behangednone of them will eat a slice of plum-pudding the less. Sirthatsympathetick feeling goes a very little way in depressing the mind."

I told him that I had dined lately at Foote'swho shewed me a letter whichhe had received from Tom Daviestelling him that he had not been able to sleepfrom the concern he felt on account of "This sad affair of Baretti"begging of him to try if he could suggest any thing that might be of service;andat the same timerecommending to him an industrious young man who kept apickle-shop. JOHNSON. "AySirhere you have a specimen of human sympathy;a friend hangedand a cucumber pickled. We know not whether Baretti or thepickle-man has kept Davies from sleep: nor does he know himself. And as to hisnot sleepingSir; Tom Davies is a very great man; Tom has been upon the stageand knows how to do those things: I have not been upon the stageand cannot dothose things." BOSWELL. "I have often blamed myselfSirfor notfeeling for othersas sensibly as many say they do." JOHNSON. "Sirdon't be duped by them any more. You will find these very feeling people are notvery ready to do you good. They pay you by feeling. "

BOSWELL. "Foote has a great deal of humour." JOHNSON. "YesSir." BOSWELL. "He has a singular talent of exhibitingcharacter." JOHNSON. "Sirit is not a talent; it is a vice; it iswhat others abstain from. It is not comedywhich exhibits the character of aspeciesas that of a miser gathered from many misers: it is a farce whichexhibits individuals." BOSWELL. "Did not he think of exhibiting youSir?" JOHNSON. "Sirfear restrained him; he knew I would have brokenhis bones. I would have saved him the trouble of cutting off a leg; I would nothave left him a leg to cut off." BOSWELL. "PraySiris not Foote aninfidel?" JOHNSON. "I do not knowSirthat the fellow is an infidel;but if he be an infidelhe is an infidel as a dog is an infidel; that is tosayhe has never thought upon the subject." * BOSWELL. "I supposeSirhe has thought superficiallyand seized the first notions which occurredto his mind." JOHNSON. "WhythenSirstill he is like a dogthatsnatches the piece next him. Did you never observe that dogs have not the powerof comparing? A dog will take a small bit of meat as readily as a largewhenboth are before him." -

* When Mr. Foote was at Edinburghhe thought fit to entertain a numerousScotch company with a great deal of coarse jocularityat the expence of Dr.Johnsonimagining it would be acceptable. I felt this as not civil to me; butsat very patiently till he had exhausted his merriment on that subject; and thenobservedthat surely Johnson must be allowed to have some sterling witandthat I had heard him say a very good thing of Mr. Foote himself. "Ahmyold friend Sam(cried Foote) no man says better things: do let us haveit." Upon which I told the above storywhich produced a very loud laughfrom the company. But I never saw Foote so disconcerted. He looked grave andangryand entered into a serious refutation of the justice of the remark."What Sir(said he) talk thus of a man of liberal education:- a man whofor years was at the University of Oxford:- a man who has added sixteen newcharacters to the English drama of his country!" -

"Buchanan (he observed) has fewer centos than any modern Latin poet. Henot only had great knowledge of the Latin language. but was a great poeticalgenius. Both the Scaligers praise him."

He again talked of the passage in Congreve with high commendationand said"Shakspeare never has six lines together without a fault. Perhaps you mayfind seven: but this does not refute my general assertion. If I come to anorchardand say there's no fruit hereand then comes a poring manwho findstwo apples and three pearsand tells me'Siryou are mistakenI have foundboth apples and pears' I should laugh at him: what would that be to thepurpose?"

BOSWELL. "What do you think of Dr. Young's 'Night Thoughts' Sir?"JOHNSON. "WhySirthere are very fine things in them." BOSWELL."Is there not less religion in the nation nowSirthan there wasformerly?" JOHNSON. "I don't knowSirthat there is." BOSWELL."For instancethere used to be a chaplain in every great familywhich wedo not find now." JOHNSON. "Neither do you find any of the stateservants which great families used formerly to have. There is a change of modesin the whole department of life."

Next dayOctober 20he appearedfor the only time I suppose in his lifeas a witness in a Court of Justicebeing called to give evidence to thecharacter of Mr. Barettiwho having stabbed a man in the streetwas arraignedat the Old Bailey for murder. Never did

such a constellation of genius enlighten the aweful Sessions Houseemphatically called JUSTICE HALL; Mr. BurkeMr. GarrickMr. Beauclerkand Dr.Johnson: and undoubtedly their favourable testimony had due weight with theCourt and Jury. Johnson gave his evidence in a slowdeliberateand distinctmannerwhich was uncommonly impressive. It is well known that Mr. Baretti wasacquitted.

On the 26th of Octoberwe dined together at the Mitre tavern. I found faultwith Foote for indulging his talent of ridicule at the expence of his visitorswhich I colloquially termed making fools of his company. JOHNSON. "WhySirwhen you go to see Footeyou do not go to see a saint: you go to see a manwho will be entertained at your houseand then bring you on a publick stage;who will entertain you at his housefor the very purpose of bringing you on apublick stage. Sirhe does not make fools of his company; they whom he exposesare fools already: he only brings them into action."

Talking of tradehe observed"It is a mistaken notion that a vast dealof money is brought into a nation by trade. It is not so. Commodities come fromcommodities; but trade produces no capital accession of wealth. Howeverthoughthere should be little profit in moneythere is a considerable profit inpleasureas it gives to one nation the productions of another; as we have winesand fruitsand many other foreign articlesbrought to us." BOSWELL."YesSirand there is a profit in pleasureby its furnishing occupationto such numbers of mankind." JOHNSON. "WhySiryou cannot call thatpleasure to which all are averseand which none begin but with the hope ofleaving off; a thing which men dislike before they have tried itand when theyhave tried it." BOSWELL. "ButSirthe mind must be employedand wegrow weary when idle." JOHNSON. "That isSirbecause others beingbusywe want company; but if we are all idlethere would be no growing weary;we should all entertain one another. There is indeedthis in trade:- it givesmen an opportunity of improving their situation. If there were no trademanywho are poor would always remain poor. But no man loves labour for itself."BOSWELL. "YesSirI know a person who does. He is a very laborious Judgeand he loves the labour." JOHNSON. "Sirthat is because he lovesrespect and distinction. Could he have them without labourhe would like itless." BOSWELL. "He tells me he likes it for itself."- "WhySirhe fancies so because he is not accustomed to abstract."

We went home to his house to tea. Mrs. Williams made it with sufficientdexteritynotwithstanding her blindnessthough her manner of satisfyingherself that the cups were full enoughappeared to me a little aukward; for Ifancied she put her finger down a certain waytill she felt the tea touch it. *In my first elation at being allowed the privilege of attending Dr. Johnson athis late visits to this ladywhich was like being e secretioribus consiliisIwillingly drank cup after cupas if it had been the Heliconian spring. But asthe charm of novelty went offI grew more fastidious; and besidesI discoveredthat she was of a peevish temper. -

* I have since had reason to think that I was mistaken; for I have beeninformed by a ladywho was long intimate with herand likely to be a moreaccurate observer of such mattersthat she had acquired such a niceness oftouchas to knowby the feeling on the outside of the cuphow near it was tobeing full. -

There was a pretty large circle this evening. Dr. Johnson was in very goodhumourlivelyand ready to talk upon all subjects. Mr. Fergussontheself-taught philosophertold him of a new invented machine which went withouthorses: a man who sat in it turned a handlewhich worked a spring that drove itforward. "ThenSir(said Johnson) what is gained isthe man has hischoice whether he will move himself aloneor himself and the machine too."Dominicettibeing mentionedhe would not allow him any merit. "There isnothing in all this boasted system. NoSir; medicated baths can be no betterthan warm water: their only effect can be that of tepid moisture." One ofthe company took the other sidemaintaining that medicines of various sortsand some too of most powerful effectare introduced into the human frame by themedium of the pores; andthereforewhen warm water is impregnated withsalutiferous substancesit may produce great effects as a bath. This appearedto me very satisfactory. Johnson did not answer it; but talking for victoryanddetermined to be master of the fieldhe had recourse to the device whichGoldsmith imputed to him in the witty words of one of Cibber's comedies:"There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his pistol misses fireheknocks you down with the butt end of it." He turned to the gentleman"WellSirgo to Dominicettiand get thyself fumigated; but be sure thatthe steam be directed to thy headfor that is the peccant part. " Thisproduced a triumphant roar of laughter from the motley assembly of philosophersprintersand dependentsmale and female.

I know not how so whimsical a thought came into my mindbut I asked"IfSiryou were shut up in a castleand a new-born child with youwhatwould you do?" JOHNSON. "WhySirI should not much like mycompany." BOSWELL. "But would you take the trouble of rearingit?" He seemedas may well be supposedunwilling to pursue the subject:but upon my persevering in my questionreplied"Why yesSirI would;but I must have all conveniences. If I had no gardenI would make a shed on theroofand take it there for fresh air. I should feed itand wash it muchandwith warm water to please itnot with cold water to give it pain."BOSWELL. "ButSirdoes not heat relax?" JOHNSON. "Siryou arenot to imagine the water is to be very hot. I would not coddle the child. NoSirthe hardy method of treating children does no good. I'll take you fivechildren from Londonwho shall cuff five Highland children. Sira man bred inLondon will carry a burthenor runor wrestleas well as a man brought up inthe hardest manner in the country." BOSWELL. "Good livingI supposemakes the Londoners strong." JOHNSON. "WhySirI don't know that itdoes. Our chairmen from Irelandwho are as strong men as anyhave been broughtup upon potatoes. Quantity makes up for quality." BOSWELL. "Would youteach this child that I have furnished you withanything?" JOHNSON."NoI should not be apt to teach it." BOSWELL. "Would not youhave a pleasure in teaching it?" JOHNSON. "NoSirI should not havea pleasure in teaching it." BOSWELL. "Have you not a pleasure inteaching men!- There I have you. You have the same pleasure in teaching menthat I should have in teaching children." JOHNSON. "Whysomethingabout that."

BOSWELL. "Do you thinkSirthat what is called natural affection isborn with us? It seems to me to be the effect of habitor of gratitude forkindness. No child has it for a parent whom it has not seen." JOHNSON."WhySirI think there is an instinctive natural affection in parentstowards their children."

Russia being mentioned as likely to become a great empireby the rapidincrease of population:- JOHNSON. "WhySirI see no prospect of theirpropagating more. They can have no more children than they can get. I know of noway to make them breed more than they do. It is not from reason and prudencethat people marrybut from inclination. A man is poor; he thinks'I cannot beworseand so I'll e'en take Peggy.'" BOSWELL. "But have not nationsbeen more populous at one period than another?" JOHNSON. "YesSir;but that has been owing to the people being less thinned at one period thananotherwhether by emigrationswaror pestilencenot by their being more orless prolifick. Births at all times bear the same proportion to the same numberof people." BOSWELL. "Butto consider the state of our own country;-does not throwing a number of farms into one hand hurt population?"JOHNSON. "Why noSir; the same quantity of food being producedwill beconsumed by the same number of mouthsthough the people may be disposed of indifferent ways. We seeif corn be dearand butchers' meat cheapthe farmersall apply themselves to the raising of corntill it becomes plentiful andcheapand then butchers' meat becomes dear; so that an equality is alwayspreserved. NoSirlet fanciful men do as they willdepend upon itit isdifficult to disturb the system of life." BOSWELL. "ButSiris itnot a very bad thing for landlords to oppress their tenantsby raising theirrents?" JOHNSON. "Very bad. ButSirit never can have any generalinfluence: it may distress some individuals. Forconsider this: landlordscannot do without tenants. Now tenants will not give more for landthan land isworth. If they can make more of their money by keeping a shopor any other waythey do itand so oblige landlords to let land come back to a reasonable rentin order that they may get tenants. Landin Englandis an article of commerce.A tenant who pays his landlord his rentthinks himself no more obliged to himthan you think yourself obliged to a man in whose shop you buy a piece of goods.He knows the landlord does not let him have his land for less than he can getfrom othersin the same manner as the shopkeeper sells his goods. No shopkeepersells a yard of ribband for six-pence when seven-pence is the currentprice." BOSWELL. "ButSiris it not better that tenants should bedependent on landlords?" JOHNSON. "WhySiras there are many moretenants than landlordsperhaps strictly speakingwe should wish not. But ifyou please you may let your lands cheapand so get the valuepart in money andpart in homage. I should agree with you in that." BOSWELL. "SoSiryou laugh at schemes of political improvement." JOHNSON. "WhySirmost schemes of political improvement are very laughable things."

He observed"Providence has wisely ordered that the more numerous menarethe more difficult it is for them to agree in any thingand so they aregoverned. There is no doubtthat if the poor should reason'We'll be the poorno longerwe'll make the rich take their turn' they could easily do itwereit not that they can't agree. So the common soldiersthough so much morenumerous than their officersare governed by them for the same reason."

He said"Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to whichthey have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with oneconsent quit itand go to some part of Americawhere there is a mild climateand where they may have the same produce from landwith the tenth part of thelabour. NoSir; their affection for their old dwellingsand the terrour of ageneral changekeep them at home. Thuswe see many of the finest spots in theworld thinly inhabitedand many rugged spots well inhabited."

"The London Chronicle" which was the only news-paper he constantlytook inbeing broughtthe office of reading it aloud was assigned to me. I wasdiverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of itthat mytask was very easy. He would not suffer one of the petitions to the King aboutthe Middlesex election to be read.

I had hired a Bohemian as my servant while I remained in Londonand beingmuch pleased with himI asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a Roman Catholickshould prevent my taking him with me to Scotland. JOHNSON. "Why noSir. Ifhe has no objectionsyou can have none." BOSWELL. "SoSiryou areno great enemy to the Roman Catholick Religion." JOHNSON. "No moreSirthan to the Presbyterian religion." BOSWELL. "You arejoking." JOHNSON. "NoSirI really think so. NaySirof the twoIprefer the Popish." BOSWELL. "How soSir?" JOHNSON. "WhySirthe Presbyterians have no churchno apostolical ordination." BOSWELL."And do you think that absolutely essentialSir?" JOHNSON. "WhySiras it was an apostolical institutionI think it is dangerous to be withoutit. AndSirthe Presbyterians have no publick worship: they have no form ofprayer in which they know they are to join. They go to hear a man prayand areto judge whether they will join with him." BOSWELL. "ButSirtheirdoctrine is the same with that of the Church of England. Their confession offaithand the thirty-nine articles contain the same pointseven the doctrineof predestination." JOHNSON. "WhyyesSir; predestination was a partof the clamour of the timesso it is mentioned in our articlesbut with aslittle positiveness as could be." BOSWELL. "Is it necessarySirtobelieve all the thirty-nine articles?" JOHNSON. "WhySirthat is aquestion which has been much agitated. Some have thought it necessary that theyshould all be believed; others have considered them to be only articles ofpeace* that is to sayyou are not to preach against them." BOSWELL."It appears to meSirthat predestinationor what is equivalent to itcannot be avoidedif we hold an universal prescience in the Deity."JOHNSON. "WhySirdoes not GOD every day see things going on withoutpreventing them?" BOSWELL. "TrueSirbut if a thing be certainlyforeseenit must be fixedand cannot happen otherwise; and if we apply thisconsideration to the human mindthere is no free willnor do I see how prayercan be of any avail." He mentioned Dr. Clarkeand Bishop Bramhall onLiberty and Necessityand bid me read South's Sermons on Prayer; but avoidedthe question which has excruciated philosophers and divinesbeyond any other. Idid not press it furtherwhen I perceived that he was displeasedand shrunkfrom any abridgement of an attribute usually ascribed to the Divinityhoweverirreconcileable in its full extent with the grand system of moral government.His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigourous powers of his understanding.He was confined by a chain which early imagination and long habit made him thinkmassy and strongbut whichhad he ventured to tryhe could at once have snaptasunder. -

* Dr. Simon Patrick(afterwards Bishop of Ely) thus expresses himself onthis subjectin a letter to the learned Dr. John Mapletoftdated Feb. 81682-3:

"I always took the ARTICLES to be only articles of communion; and soBishop Bramhall expressly maintains against the Bishop of Chalcedon; and Iremember wellthat Bishop Sandersonwhen the King was first restoredreceivedthe subscription of an acquaintance of minewhich he declared was not to themas articles of faithbut peace. I think you need make no scruple of the matterbecause all that I know so understand the meaning of subscriptionand uponother terms would not subscribe."- The above was printed some years ago inthe European Magazinefrom the originalnow in the hands of Mr. Mapletoftsurgeon at Chertseygrandson to Dr. John Mapletoft.- M.] -

I proceeded: "What do you thinkSirof Purgatoryas believed by theRoman Catholicks?" JOHNSON. "WhySirit is a very harmless doctrine.They are of opinion that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinatelywicked as to deserve everlasting punishmentnor so good as to merit beingadmitted into the society of blessed spirits; and therefore that GOD isgraciously pleased to allow of a middle statewhere they may be purified bycertain degrees of

suffering. You seeSirthere is nothing unreasonable in this."BOSWELL. "But thenSirtheir masses for the dead?" Johnson."WhySirif it be once established that there are souls in purgatoryitis as proper to pray for themas for our brethren of mankind who are yet inthis life." BOSWELL. "The idolatry of the Mass?" JOHNSON."Sirthere is no idolatry in the Mass. They believe GOD to be thereandthey adore him." BOSWELL. "The worship of Saints?" JOHNSON."Sirthey do not worship saints; they invoke them; they only ask theirprayers. I am talking all this time of the doctrines of the Church of Rome. Igrant you that in practicePurgatory is made a lucrative impositionand thatthe people do become idolatrous as they recommend themselves to the tutelaryprotection of particular saints. I think their giving the sacrament only in onekind is criminalbecause it is contrary to the express institution of CHRISTand I wonder how the Council of Trent admitted it." BOSWELL."Confession?" JOHNSON. "WhyI don't know but that is a goodthing. The scripture says'Confess your faults one to another' and the priestsconfess as well as the laity. Then it must be considered that their absolutionis only upon repentanceand often upon penance also. You think your sins may beforgiven without penanceupon repentance alone."

I thus ventured to mention all the common objections against the RomanCatholic Churchthat I might hear so great a man upon them. What he said ishere accurately recorded. But it is not improbable that if one had taken theother sidehe might have reasoned differently.

I must however mentionthat he had a respect for "the oldreligion" as the mild Melancthon called that of the Roman CatholickChurcheven while he was exerting himself for its reformation in someparticulars. Sir William Scott informs methat he heard Johnson say"Aman who is converted from Protestanism to Poperymay be sincere: he parts withnothing: he is only superadding to what he already had. But a convert fromPopery to Protestantismgives up so much of what he had held as sacred as anything that he retains: there is so much laceration of mind in such a conversionthat it can hardly be sincere and lasting." The truth of this reflectionmay be confirmed by many and eminent instancessome of which will occur to mostof my readers.

When we were aloneI introduced the subject of deathand endeavoured tomaintain that the fear of it might be got over. I told him that David Hume saidto mehe was no more uneasy to think he should not be after his lifethan thathe had not been before he began to exist. JOHNSON. "Sirif he reallythinks sohis perceptions are disturbed; he is mad; if he does not think sohelies. He may tell youhe holds his finger in the flame of a candlewithoutfeeling pain; would you believe him? When he dieshe at least gives up all hehas." BOSWELL. "FooteSirtold methat when he was very ill he wasnot afraid to die." JOHNSON. "It is not trueSir. Hold a pistol toFoote's breastor to Hume's breastand threaten to kill themand you'll seehow they behave." BOSWELL. "But may we not fortify our minds for theapproach of death"- Here I am sensible I was in the wrongto bring beforehis view what he ever looked upon with horrour; for although when in a celestialframe of mind in his "Vanity of Human Wishes" he has supposed deathto be "kind Nature's signal for retreat" from this state of being to"a happier seat" his thoughts upon this awful change were in generalfull of dismal apprehensions. His mind resembled the vast amphitheatretheColisaeum at Rome. In the centre stood his judgementwhich like a mightygladiatorcombated those apprehensions thatlike the wild beasts of the Arenawere all around in cellsready to be let out upon him. After a conflicthedrives them back into their dens; but not killing themthey were stillassailing him. To my questionwhether we might not fortify our minds for theapproach of deathhe answeredin a passion"NoSirlet it alone. Itmatters not how a man diesbut how he lives. The act of dying is not ofimportanceit lasts so short a time." He added(with an earnest look)"A man knows it must be soand submits. It will do him no good towhine."

I attempted to continue the conversation. He was so provokedthat he said:"Give us no more of this;" and was thrown into such a state ofagitationthat he expressed himself in a way that alarmed and distressed me;shewed an impatience that I should leave himand when I was going awaycalledto me sternly"Don't let us meet to-morrow."

I went home exceedingly uneasy. All the harsh observations which I had everheard made upon his charactercrowded into my mind; and I seemed to myself likethe man who had put his head into the lion's mouth a great many times withperfect safetybut at last had it bit off.

Next morning I sent him a notestating that I might have been in the wrongbut it was not intentionally; he was thereforeI could not help thinkingtoosevere upon me. That notwithstanding our agreement not to meet that dayI wouldcall on him in my way to the cityand stay five minutes by my watch. "Youare(said I) in my mindsince last nightsurrounded with cloud and storm. Letme have a glimpse of sunshineand go about my affairs in serenity andcheerfulness."

Upon entering his studyI was glad that he was not alonewhich would havemade our meeting more awkward. There were with him Mr. Stevens and Mr. Tyersboth of whom I now saw for the first time. My note hadon his own reflectionsoftened himfor he received me very complacently; so that I unexpectedly foundmyself at ease; and joined in the conversation.

He saidthe criticks had done too much honour to Sir Richard Blackmorebywriting so much against him. That in his "Creation" he had been helpedby various witsa line by Philipsand a line by Tickell; so that by their aidand that of othersthe poem had been made out." * -

* [Johnson himself has vindicated Blackmore upon this very point. See theLives of the Poetsvol. iii. p. 75. 8vo. 1791.- J. BOSWELL.] -

I defended Blackmore's supposed lineswhich have been ridiculed as absolutenonsense: -

"A painted vest Prince Vortiger had on

Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won." * -

* An acute correspondent of the European MagazineApril 1792has completelyexposed a mistake which has been unaccountably frequent in ascribing these linesto Blackmorenotwithstanding that Sir Richard Steelein that very popular work"The Spectator" mentions them as written by the Authour of "TheBritish Princes" the Hon. Edward Howard. The correspondent abovementionedshews this mistake to be so inveteratethat not only I defended thelines as Blackmore'sin the presence of Dr. Johnsonwithout any contradictionor doubt of their authenticitybut that the Reverend Mr. Whitaker has assertedin printthat he understands they were suppressed in the late edition oreditions of Blackmore. "After all (says this intelligent writer) it is notunworthy of particular observationthat these lines so often quoted do notexist either in Blackmore or Howard." In "The British Princes"8vo. 1669now before mep. 96they stand thus:

"A vest as admir'd Vortiger had on

Whichfrom this Island's foeshis grandsire won

Whose artful colour pass'd the Tyrian dye

Oblig'd to triumph in this legacy."

It is probableI thinkthat some wagin order to make Howard still moreridiculous than he really washas formed the couplet as it now circulates. -

I maintained it to be a poetical conceit. A Pict being paintedif he isslain in battleand a vest is made of his skinit is a painted vest won fromhimthough he was naked.

Johnson spoke unfavourably of a certain pretty voluminous authoursaying"He used to write anonymous booksand then other books commending thosebooksin which there was something of rascality."

I whispered him"WellSiryou are now in good humour." JOHNSON."YesSir." I was going to leave himand had got as far as thestaircase. He stopped meand smilingsaid"Get you gone in; " acurious mode of inviting me to staywhich I accordingly did for some timelonger.

This little incidental quarrel and reconciliationwhichperhapsI may bethought to have detailed too minutelymust be esteemed as one of many proofswhich his friends hadthat though he might be charged with bad humour at timeshe was always a good-natured man; and I have heard Sir Joshua Reynoldsa niceand delicate observer of mannersparticularly remarkthat when upon anyoccasion Johnson had been rough to any person in companyhe took the firstopportunity of reconciliationby drinking to himor addressing his discourseto him; but if he found his dignified indirect overtures sullenly neglectedhewas quite indifferentand considered himself as having done all that he oughtto doand the other as now in the wrong.

Being to set out for Scotland on the 10th of NovemberI wrote to him atStreathambegging that he would meet me in town on the 9th; but if this shouldbe very inconvenient to himI would go thither. His answer was as follows. -



"UPON balancing the inconveniences of both partiesI find it will lessincommode you to spend your night herethan me to come to town. I wish to seeyouand am ordered by the lady of this house to invite you hither. Whether youcan come or notI shall not have any occasion of writing to you again beforeyour marriageand therefore tell you nowthat with great sincerity I wish youhappiness. I amdear Sir

"Your most affectionate humble servant


"Nov. 91769." -

I was detained in town till it was too late on the ninthso went to himearly in the morning of the tenth of November. "Now (said he) that you aregoing to marrydo not expect more from lifethan life will afford. You mayoften find yourself out of humourand you may often think your wife notstudious enough to please you; and yet you may have reason to consider yourselfas upon the whole very happily married."

Talking of marriage in generalhe observed"Our marriage service istoo refined. It is calculated only for the best kind of marriages; whereasweshould have a form for matches of convenienceof which there are many." Heagreed with me that there was no absolute necessity for having the marriageceremony performed by a regular clergymanfor this was not commanded inscripture.

I was volatile enough to repeat to him a little epigrammatick song of mineon matrimonywhich Mr. Garrick had a few days before procured to be set tomusick by the very ingenious Mr. Dibden. -


"In the blithe days of honey-moon

With Kate's allurements smitten

I lov'd her lateI lov'd her soon

And call'd her dearest kitten. -

But now my kitten's grown a cat

And cross like other wives

O! by my soulmy honest Mat

I fear she has nine lives." -

My illustrious friend said"It is very wellSir; but you should notswear." Upon which I altered "O! by my soul" to "alasalas!"

He was so good as to accompany me to Londonand see me into the post-chaisewhich was to carry me on my road to Scotland. And sure I amthat howeverinconsiderable many of the particulars recorded at this time may appear to somethey will be esteemed by the best part of my readers as genuine traits of hischaractercontributing together to give a fullfairand distinct view of it.

1770: AETAT. 61 -

In 1770he published a political pamphletentitled "The FalseAlarm" intended to justify the conduct of ministry and their majority inthe House of Commons for having virtually assumed it as an axiomthat theexpulsion of a Member of Parliament was equivalent to exclusionand thus havingdeclared Colonel Lutterel to be duly elected for the county of Middlesexnotwithstanding Mr. Wilkes had a great majority of votes. This being justlyconsidered as a gross violation of the right of electionan alarm for theconstitution extended itself all over the kingdom. To prove this alarm to befalsewas the purpose of Johnson's pamphlet; but even his vast powers areinadequate to cope with constitutional truth and reasonand his argument failedof effect; and the House of Commons have since expunged the offensiveresolutions from their Journals. That the House of Commons might have expelledMr. Wilkes repeatedlyand as often as he should be re-chosenwas not denied;but incapacitation cannot be but an act of the whole legislature. It waswonderful to see how a prejudice in favour of government in generaland anaversion to popular clamourcould blind and contract such an understanding asJohnson'sin this particular case; yet the witthe sarcasmthe eloquentvivacity which this pamphlet displayedmade it be read with great avidity atthe timeand it will ever be read with pleasurefor the sake of itscomposition. That it endeavoured to infuse a narcotick indifferenceas topublick concernsinto the minds of the peopleand that it broke out sometimesinto an extreme coarseness of contemptuous abuseis but too evident.

It must nothoweverbe omittedthat when the storm of his violencesubsideshe takes a fair opportunity to pay a grateful compliment to the Kingwho had rewarded his merit: "These low-born railers have endeavouredsurely without effectto alienate the affections of the people from the onlyKing who for almost a century has much appeared to desireor much endeavouredto deserve them." And "Every honest man must lamentthat the factionhas been regarded with frigid neutrality by the Torieswho being longaccustomed to signalise their principles by opposition to the Courtdo not yetconsiderthat they have at last a King who knows not the name of partyand whowishes to be the common father of all his people."

To this pamphletwhich was at once discovered to be Johnson'sseveralanswers came outin whichcare was taken to remind the publick of his formerattacks upon governmentand of his now being a pensionerwithout allowing forthe honourable terms upon which Johnson's pension was granted and acceptedorthe change of system which the British court had undergone upon the accession ofhis present Majesty. He washoweversoothed in the highest strain ofpanegyrickin a poem called "The Remonstrance" by the Reverend Mr.Stockdaleto whom he wasupon many occasionsa kind protector.

The following admirable minute made by himdescribes so well his own stateand that of numbers to whom self-examination is habitualthat I cannot omit it.

"June 11770. Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keephis resolutionsnor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time andfrequency of experiment. This opinion of our own constancy is so prevalentthatwe always despise him who suffers his general and settled purpose to beoverpowered by an occasional desire. Theythereforewhom frequent failureshave made desperatecease to form resolutions; and they who are become cunningdo not tell them. Those who do not make them are very fewbut of their effectlittle is perceived; for scarcely any man persists in a course of life plannedby choicebut as he is restrained from deviation by some external power. He whomay live as he willseldom lives long in the observation of his ownrules." * -

* Prayers and Meditationsp. 95. -

Of this year I have obtained the following letters: -



"AS no man ought to keep wholly to himself any possession that may beuseful to the publickI hope you will not think me unreasonably intrusiveif Ihave recourse to you for such information as you are more able to give me thanany other man.

"In support of an opinion which you have already placed above the needof any more supportMr. Steevensa very ingenious gentlemanlately of King'sCollegehas collected an account of all the translations which Shakspeare mighthave seen and used. He wishes his catalogue to be perfectand thereforeintreats that you will favour him by the insertion of such additions as theaccuracy of your enquiries has enabled you to make. To this requestI take theliberty of adding my own solicitations.

"We have no immediate use for this catalogueand therefore do notdesire that it should interrupt or hinder your more important employments. Butit will be kind to let us know that you receive it.

"I amSir&c.



March 211770." -



"THE readiness with which you were pleased to promise me some notes onShakspearewas a new instance of your friendship. I shall not hurry you; but amdesired by Mr. Steevenswho helps me in this editionto let you knowthat weshall print the tragedies firstand shall therefore want first the notes whichbelong to them. We think not to incommode the readers with a supplement; andthereforewhat we cannot put into its proper placewill do us no good. Weshall not begin to print before the end of six weeksperhaps not so soon.

"I am&c.


"LondonJune 231770." -



"I AM revising my edition of Shakspeareand remember that I formerlymisrepresented your opinion of Lear. Be pleased to write the paragraph as youwould have itand send it. If you have any remarks of your own upon that or anyother playI shall gladly receive them.

"Make my compliments to Mrs. Warton. I sometimes think of wandering fora few days to Winchesterbut am apt to delay.

"I amSir

"Your most humble servant


"Sept. 271770." -




"I AM at last sat down to write to youand should very much blamemyself for having neglected you so longif I did not impute that and many otherfailings to want of health. I hope not to be so long silent again. I am verywell satisfied with your progressif you can really perform the exercises whichyou are set; and I hope Mr. Ellis does not suffer you to impose on himor onyourself.

"Make my compliments to Mr. Ellisand to Mrs. Clappand Mr. Smith.

"Let me know what English books you read for your entertainment. You cannever be wise unless you love reading.

"Do not imagine that I shall forget or forsake you; for ifwhen Iexamine youI find that you have not lost your timeyou shall want noencouragement from

"Yours affectionately


"LondonSept. 251770." -



"I HOPE you mind your business. I design you shall stay with Mrs. Clappthese holidays. If you are invited out you may goif Mr. Ellis gives leave. Ihave ordered you some clotheswhich you will receiveI believenext week. Mycompliments to Mrs. Clapp and to Mr. Ellisand Mr. Smith&c.

"I am

"Your affectionate


"December 71770." -

During this year there was a total cessation of all correspondence betweenDr. Johnson and mewithout any coldness on either sidebut merely fromprocrastinationcontinued from day to day; and as I was not in LondonI had noopportunity of enjoying his company and recording his conversation. To supplythis blankI shall present my readers with some Collectaneaobliginglyfurnished to me by the Rev. Dr. Maxwellof Falklandin Irelandsome timeassistant preacher at the Templeand for many years the social friend ofJohnsonwho spoke of him with a very kind regard. -

"My acquaintance with that great and venerable character commenced inthe year 1754. I was introduced to him by Mr. Grierson* his Majesty's printerat Dublina gentleman of uncommon learningand great wit and vivacity. Mr.Grierson died in Germanyat the age of twenty-seven. Dr. Johnson highlyrespected his abilitiesand often observed that he possesed more extensiveknowledge than any man of his years he had ever known. His industry was equal tohis talents; and he particularly excelled in every species of philologicallearningand wasperhapsthe best critick of the age he lived in. -

* Son of the learned Mrs. Griersonwho was patronized by the late LordGranvilleand was the editor of several of the classicks.

[Her edition of Tacituswith the notes of Ryckiusin three volumes8vo.1730was dedicated in very elegant Latin to JohnLord Carteret(afterwardsEarl Granville) by whom she was patronized during his residence in Ireland asLord Lieutenant between 1724 and 1730.- M.] -

"I must always remember with gratitude my obligation to Mr. Griersonfor the honour and happiness of Dr. Johnson's acquaintance and friendshipwhichcontinued uninterrupted and undiminished to his death: a connectionthat was atonce the pride and happiness of my life.

"What pity it isthat so much wit and good sense as he continuallyexhibited in conversation should perish unrecorded! Few persons quitted hiscompany without perceiving themselves wiser and better than they were before. Onserious subjects he flashed the most interesting conviction upon his auditors;and upon lighter topicksyou might have supposed- Albano musas de montelocutas.

"Though I can hope to add but little to the celebrity of so exalted acharacterby any communications I can furnishyet out of pure respect to hismemoryI will venture to transmit to you some anecdotes concerning himwhichfell under my own observation. The very minutiae of such a character must beinterestingand may be compared to the filings of diamonds.

"In politicks he was deemed a Torybut certainly was not so in theobnoxious or party sense of the term: for while he asserted the legal andsalutary prerogatives of the crownhe no less respected the constitutionalliberties of the people. Whiggismat the time of the Revolutionhe saidwasaccompanied with certain principles; but latterlyas a mere party distinctionunder Walpole and the Pelhamswas no better than the politicks of stockjobbersand the religion of infidels.

"He detested the idea of governing by parliamentary corruptionandasserted most strenuouslythat a prince steadily and conspicuously pursuing theinterests of his peoplecould not fail of parliamentary concurrence. A princeof abilityhe contendedmight and should be the directing soul and spirit ofhis own administration; in shorthis own ministerand not the mere head of aparty: and thenand not till thenwould the royal dignity be sincerelyrespected.

"Johnson seemed to think that a certain degree of crown influence overthe Houses of Parliament(not meaning a corrupt and shameful dependence) wasvery salutarynayeven necessaryin our mixed government. 'For (said he) ifthe members were under no crown influenceand disqualified from receiving anygratification from Courtand resembledas they possibly mightPym andHaslerigand other stubborn and sturdy members of the long Parliamentthewheels of government would be totally obstructed. Such men would opposemerelyto shew their powerfrom envyjealousyand perversity of disposition; and notgaining themselveswould hate and oppose all who did: not loving the person ofthe princeand conceiving they owed him little gratitudefrom the mere spiritof insolence and contradictionthey would oppose and thwart him upon alloccasions.'

"The inseparable imperfection annexed to all human governmentsconsistedhe saidin not being able to create a sufficient fund of virtue andprinciple to carry the laws into due and effectual execution. Wisdom might planbut virtue alone could execute. And where could sufficient virtue be found? Avariety of delegatedand often discretionarypowers must be entrustedsomewhere: whichif not governed by integrity and consciencewould necessarilybe abusedtill at last the constable would sell his for a shilling.

"This excellent person was sometimes charged with abetting slavish andarbitrary principles of government. Nothing in my opinion could be a grossercalumny and misrepresentation; for how can it be rationally supposedthat heshould adopt such pernicious and absurd opinionswho supported hisphilosophical character with so much dignitywas extremely jealous of hispersonal liberty and independence* and could not brook the smallest appearanceof neglect or insulteven from the highest personages? -

* [On the necessity of crown influencesee Boucher's Sermons on the AmericanRevolutionp. 218; and Paley's Moral PhilosophyB. VI.c. vii. p. 4914to.there quoted.- BLAKEWAY.] -

"But let us view him in some instances of more familiar life.

"His general mode of lifeduring my acquaintanceseemed to be prettyuniform. About twelve o'clock I commonly visited himand frequently found himin bedor declaiming over his teawhich he drank very plentifully. Hegenerally had a levee of morning visitorschiefly men of letters; HawkesworthGoldsmithMurphyLangtonSteevensBeauclerk&c. &c. and sometimeslearned ladies; particularly I remember a French lady of wit and fashion doinghim the honour of a visit. He seemed to me to be considered as a kind of publickoraclewhom every body thought they had a right to visit and consult; anddoubtless they were well rewarded. I never could discover how he found time forhis compositions. He declaimed all the morningthen went to dinner at a tavernwhere he commonly staid lateand then drank his tea at some friend's houseover which he loitered a great whilebut seldom took supper. I fancy he musthave read and wrote chiefly in the nightfor I can scarcely recollect that heever refused going with me to a tavernand he often went to Ranelaghwhich hedeemed a place of innocent recreation.

"He frequently gave all the silver in his pocket to the poorwhowatched himbetween his house and the tavern where he dined. He walked thestreets at all hoursand said he was never robbedfor the rogues knew he hadlittle moneynor had the appearance of having much.

"Though the most accessible and communicative man aliveyet when hesuspected he was invited to be exhibitedhe constantly spurned the invitation.

"Two young women from Staffordshire visited him when I was presenttoconsult him on the subject of methodismto which they were inclined. 'Come(said he) you pretty foolsdine with Maxwell and me at the Mitreand we willtalk over that subject;' which they didand after dinner he took one of themupon his kneeand fondled her for half an hour together.

"Upon a visit to me at a country lodging near Twickenhamhe asked whatsort of society I had there. I told himbut indifferent; as they chieflyconsisted of opulent tradersretired from business. He said he never much likedthat class of people; 'ForSir(said he) they have lost the civility oftradesmenwithout acquiring the manners of gentlemen.'

"Johnson was much attached to London: * he observedthat a man storedhis mind better there than anywhere else; and that in remote situations a man'sbody might be feastedbut his mind was starvedand his faculties apt todegeneratefrom want of exercise and competition. No place(he said) cured aman's vanity or arroganceso well as London; for as no man was either great orgood per sebut as compared with others not so good or greathe was sure tofind in the metropolis many his equalsand some his superiours. He observedthat a man in London was in less danger of falling in love indiscreetlythanany where else; for there the difficulty of deciding between the conflictingpretensions of a vast variety of objectskept him safe. He told me that he hadfrequently been offered country prefermentif he would consent to take orders;but he could not leave the improved society of the capitalor consent toexchange the exhilarating joys and splendid decorations of publick lifefor theobscurityinsipidityand uniformity of remote situations. -

* [Montaigne had the same affection for Pariswhich Johnson had for London.-"Je l'aime tendrement(says he in his Essay on Vanity) jusque a sesverrues et a ses taches. Je ne suis Francoisque par cette grande citegrandeen peuplesgrande en felicite de son assiettemais sur tout grande etincomparable en variete et diversite des commoditez: la gloire de la Franceetl'un des plus nobles ornaments du monde." Vol. iiip. 321edit.Amsterdam1781.- BLAKEWAY.] -

"Speaking of Mr. HarteCanon of Windsorand writer of 'The History ofGustavus Adolphus' he much commended him as a scholarand a man of the mostcompanionable talents he had ever known. He saidthe defects in his historyproceeded not from imbecilitybut from foppery.

"He lovedhe saidthe old black letter books; they were rich inmatterthough their style was inelegant; wonderfully soconsidering howconversant the writers were with the best models of antiquity.

"Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy' he saidwas the only book that evertook him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.

"He frequently exhorted me to set about writing a History of Irelandand archly remarkedthere had been some good Irish writersand that oneIrishman might at least aspire to be equal to another. He had great compassionfor the miseries and distresses of the Irish nationparticularly the Papists;and severely reprobated the barbarous debilitating policy of the Britishgovernmentwhichhe saidwas the most detestable mode of persecution. To agentlemanwho hinted such policy might be necessary to support the authority ofthe English governmenthe replied by saying'Let the authority of the Englishgovernment perishrather than be maintained by iniquity. Better would it be torestrain the turbulence of the natives by the authority of the swordand tomake them amenable to law and justice by an effectual and vigorous policethanto grind them to powder by all manner of disabilities and incapacities. Better(said he) to hang or drown people at oncethan by an unrelenting persecution tobeggar and starve them.' The moderation and humanity of the present times havein some measurejustified the wisdom of his observations.

"Dr. Johnson was often accused of prejudicesnayantipathywithregard to the natives of Scotland. Surelyso illiberal a prejudice neverentered his mind: and it is well knownmany natives of that respectable countrypossessed a large share in his esteem: nor were any of them ever excluded fromhis good offices as far as opportunity permitted. True it ishe considered theScotchnationallyas a craftydesigning peopleeagerly attentive to theirown interestand too apt to overlook the claims and pretensions of otherpeople. 'While they confine their benevolencein a mannerexclusively to thoseof their own countrythey expect to share in the good offices of other people.Now (said Johnson) this principle is either right or wrong; if rightwe shoulddo well to imitate such conduct; if wrongwe cannot too much detest it.'

"Being solicited to compose a funeral sermon for the daughter of atradesmanhe naturally inquired into the character of the deceased; and beingtold that she was remarkable for her humility and condescension to inferiourshe observedthat those were very laudable qualitiesbut it might not be soeasy to discover who the lady's inferiours were.

"Of a certain player he remarkedthat his conversation usuallythreatened and announced more than it performed; that he fed you with acontinual renovation of hopeto end in a constant succession of disappointment.

"When exasperated by contradictionhe was apt to treat his opponentswith too much acrimony: as'Siryou don't see your way through thatquestion:'- 'Siryou talk the language of ignorance.' On my observing to himthat a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole eveningin the midst ofa very brilliant and learned society'Sir(said he) the conversationoverflowedand drowned him.'

"His philosophythough austere and solemnwas by no means morose andcynicaland never blunted the laudable sensibilities of his characterorexempted him from the influence of the tender passions. Want of tendernesshealways allegedwas want of partsand was no less a proof of stupidity thandepravity.

"Speaking of Mr. Hanwaywho published 'An Eight Days' Journey fromLondon to Portsmouth' 'Jonas(said he) acquired some reputation by travellingabroadbut lost it all by travelling at home.'

"Of the passion of love he remarkedthat its violence and ill effectswere much exaggerated; for who knows any real sufferings on that headmore thanfrom the exorbitancy of any other passion?

"He much commended 'Law's Serious Call' which he said was the finestpiece of hortatory theology in any language. 'Law(said he) fell latterly intothe reveries of Jacob Behmenwhom Law alleged to have been somewhat in the samestate with St. Pauland to have seen unutterable things. Were it even so(saidJohnson) Jacob would have resembled St. Paul still moreby not attempting toutter them.'

"He observedthat the established clergy in general did not preachplain enough; and that polished periods and glittering sentences flew over theheads of the common peoplewithout any impression on their hearts. Somethingmight be necessaryhe observedto excite the affections of the common peoplewho were sunk in languor and lethargyand therefore he supposed that the newconcomitants of methodism might probably produce so desirable an effect. Themindlike the bodyhe observeddelighted in change and noveltyand even inreligion itselfcourted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might bethought of some methodist teachershe saidhe could scarcely doubt thesincerity of that manwho travelled nine hundred miles in a monthand preached

twelve times a week; for no adequate rewardmere temporalcould be givenfor such indefatigable labour.

"Of Dr. Priestley's theological workshe remarkedthat they tended tounsettle every thingand yet settled nothing.

"He was much affected by the death of his motherand wrote to me tocome and assist himto compose his mindwhich indeed I found extremelyagitated. He lamented that all serious and religious conversation was banishedfrom the society of menand yet great advantages might be derived from it. Allacknowledgedhe saidwhat hardly any body practisedthe obligations we wereunder of making the concerns of eternity the governing principles of our lives.Every manhe observedat lastwishes for retreat: he sees his expectationsfrustrated in the worldand begins to wean himself from itand to prepare foreverlasting separation.

"He observedthat the influence of London now extended every whereandthat from all manner of communication being openedthere shortly would be noremains of the ancient simplicityor places of cheap retreat to be found.

"He was no admirer of blank verseand said it always failedunlesssustained by the dignity of the subject. In blank versehe saidthe languagesuffered more distortionto keep it out of prosethan any inconvenience orlimitation to be apprehended from the shackles and circumspection of rhyme.

"He reproved me once for saying grace without mention of the name of ourLORD JESUS CHRISTand hoped in future I would be more mindful of theapostolical injunction.

"He refused to go out of a room before me at Mr. Langton's housesayinghe hoped he knew his rank better than to presume to take place of aDoctor in Divinity. I mention such little anecdotesmerely to show the peculiarturn and habit of his mind.

"He used frequently to observethat there was more to be endured thanenjoyedin the general condition of human life; and frequently quoted thoselines of Dryden: -

'Strange cozenage! none would live past years again

Yet all hope pleasure from what still remain.' -

For his parthe saidhe never passed that week in his life which he wouldwish to repeatwere an angel to make the proposal to him.

"He was of opinionthat the English nation cultivated both their soiland their reason better than any other people; but admitted that the Frenchthough not the highestperhapsin any department of literatureyet in everydepartment were very high. Intellectual pre-eminencehe observedwas thehighest superiority; and that every nation derived their highest reputation fromthe splendour and dignity of their writers. Voltairehe saidwas a goodnarratorand that his principal merit consisted in a happy selection andarrangement of circumstances.

"Speaking of the French novelscompared with Richardson'she saidthey might be pretty baublesbut a wren was not an eagle.

"In a Latin conversation with the Pere Boscovitchat the house of Mrs.CholmondeleyI heard him maintain the superiority of Sir Isaac Newton over allforeign philosophers* with a dignity and eloquence that surprised that learnedforeigner. It being observed to himthat a rage for every thing Englishprevailed much in France after Lord Chatham's glorious warhe saidhe did notwonder at itfor that we had drubbed those fellows into a proper reverence forusand that their national petulance required periodical chastisement. -

* [In a discourse by Sir William Jonesaddressed to the Asiatick SocietyFeb. 241785is the following passage:

"One of the most sagacious men in this age who continuesI hopetoimprove and adorn itSamuel Johnsonremarked in my hearingthat if Newton hadflourished in ancient Greecehe would have been worshipped as aDivinity."- M.] -

"Lord Lyttelton's Dialogueshe deemed a nugatory performance. 'Thatman(said he) sat down to write a bookto tell the world what the world hadall his life been telling him.'

"Somebody observing that the Scotch Highlandersin the year 1745hadmade surprising effortsconsidering their numerous wants and disadvantages:'YesSir(said he) their wants were numerous: but you have not mentioned thegreatest of them all- the want of law.'

"Speaking of the inward lightto which some methodists pretendedhesaidit was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil security. 'Ifa man (said he) pretends to a principle of action of which I can know nothingnaynot so much as that he has itbut only that he pretends to it; how can Itell what that person may be prompted to do? When a person professes to begoverned by a written ascertained lawI can then know where to find him.'

"The poem of Fingalhe saidwas a mere unconnected rhapsodyatiresome repetition of the same images. 'In vain shall we look for the lucidusordowhere there is neither end or objectdesign or moralnec certa recurritimago. '

"Being asked by a young noblemanwhat was become of the gallantry andmilitary spirit of the old English nobilityhe replied'Whymy LordI'lltell you what is become of it: it is gone into the city to look for a fortune.'

"Speaking of a dull tiresome fellowwhom he chanced to meethe said'That fellow seems to me to possess but one ideaand that is a wrong one.'

"Much enquiry having been made concerning a gentlemanwho had quitted acompany where Johnson wasand no information being obtained; at last Johnsonobservedthat 'he did not care to speak ill of any man behind his backbut hebelieved the gentleman was an attorney. '

"He spoke with much contempt of the notice taken of Woodhousethepoetical shoemaker. He saidit was all vanity and childishness: and that suchsubjects wereto those who patronized themmere mirrours of their ownsuperiority. 'They had better (said he) furnish the man with good implementsfor his tradethan raise subscriptions for his poems. He may make an excellentshoemakerbut can never make a good poet. A school-boy's exercise may be apretty thing for a school-boy; but it is no treat for a man.'

"Speaking of Boetiuswho was the favourite writer of the middle ageshe said it was very surprisingthat upon such a subjectand in such asituationhe should be magis philosophus quam Christianus.

"Speaking of Arthur Murphywhom he very much loved'I don't know (saidhe) that Arthur can be classed with the very first dramatick writers; yet atpresent I doubt much whether we have any thing superiour to Arthur.'

"Speaking of the national debthe saidit was an idle dream to supposethat the country could sink under it. Let the publick creditors be ever soclamourousthe interest of millions must ever prevail over that of thousands.

"Of Dr. Kennicott's Collationshe observedthat though the text shouldnot be much mended therebyyet it was no small advantage to know that we had asgood a text as the most consummate industry and diligence could procure.

"Johnson observedthat so many objections might be made to every thingthat nothing could overcome them but the necessity of doing something. No manwould be of any professionas simply opposed to not being of it: but every onemust do something.

"He remarkedthat a London parish was a very comfortless thing: for theclergyman seldom knew the face of one out of ten of his parishioners.

"Of the late Mr. Mallet he spoke with no great respect: saidhe wasready for any dirty job: that he had wrote against Byng at the instigation ofthe ministryand was equally ready to write for himprovided he found hisaccount in it.

"A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriagemarried immediatelyafter his wife died: Johnson saidit was the triumph of hope over experience.

"He observed that a man of sense and education should meet a suitablecompanion in a wife. It was a miserable thing when the conversation could onlybe such aswhether the mutton should be boiled or roastedand probably adispute about that.

"He did not approve of late marriagesobserving that more was lost inpoint of timethan compensated for by any possible advantages. Even illassorted marriages were preferable to cheerless celibacy.

"Of old Sheridan he remarkedthat he neither wanted parts norliterature; but that his vanity and Quixotism obscured his merits.

"He saidfoppery was never cured; it was the bad stamina of the mindwhichlike those of the bodywere never rectified: once a coxcomb always acoxcomb.

"Being told that Gilbert Cowper called him the Caliban of literature;'Well(said he) I must dub him the Punchinello.'

"Speaking of the old Earl of Cork and Orreryhe said'that man spenthis life in catching at an object[literary eminence] which he had not powerto grasp.'

"To find a substitution for violated moralityhe saidwas the leadingfeature in all perversions of religion.

"He often used to quotewith great pathosthose fine lines of Virgil:-

'Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi

Prima fugit; subeunt morbitristisque senectus

Et laboret durae rapit inclementia mortis.' -

"Speaking of Homerwhom he venerated as the prince of poetsJohnsonremarked that the advice given to Diomed * by his fatherwhen he sent him tothe Trojan Warwas the noblest exhortation that could be instanced in anyheathen writerand comprised in a single line: -

Aien aristeyeinkai upeirochon emmenai allou: -

whichif I recollect wellis translated by Dr. Clarke thus: semper appeterepraestantissimaet omnibus aliis antecellere. -

* [Dr. Maxwell's memory has deceived him. Glaucus is the person who receivedthis counsel; and Clarke's translation of the passage (Il. vi. l. 208) is asfollows:

"Ut semper fortissime rem gereremet superior virtute essemaliis."- BOSWELL.] -

"He observed'it was a most mortifying reflection for any man toconsiderwhat he had donecompared with what he might have done. '

"He said few people had intellectual resources sufficient to forego thepleasures of wine. They could not otherwise contrive how to fill the intervalbetween dinner and supper.

"He went with meone Sundayto hear my old MasterGregory Sharpepreach at the Temple.- In the prefatory prayerSharpe ranted about Libertyasa blessing most fervently to be imploredand its continuance prayed for.Johnson observed that our liberty was in no sort of danger:- he would have donemuch betterto pray against our licentiousness.

"One evening at Mrs. Montagu'swhere a splendid company was assembledconsisting of the most eminent literary charactersI thought he seemed highlypleased with the respect and attention that were shewn himand asked himonour return homeif he was not highly gratified by his visit: 'NoSir(saidhe) not highly gratified; yet I do not recollect to have passed many eveningswith fewer objections. '

"Though of no high extraction himselfhe had much respect for birth andfamilyespecially among ladies. He said'adventitious accomplishments may bepossessed by all ranks; but one may easily distinguish the born gentlewoman. '

"He said'the poor in England were better provided forthan in anyother country of the same extent: he did not mean little Cantonsor pettyRepublicks. Where a great proportion of the people (said he) are suffered tolanguish in helpless miserythat country must be ill policedand wretchedlygoverned: a decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.-Gentlemen of educationhe observedwere pretty much the same in all countries;the condition of the lower ordersthe poor especiallywas the true mark ofnational discrimination.'

"When the corn-laws were in agitation in Irelandby which that countryhas been enabled not only to feed itselfbut to export corn to a large amount;Sir Thomas Robinson observedthat those laws might be prejudicial to thecorn-trade of England. 'Sir Thomas(said he) you talk the language of asavage: whatSir? would you prevent any people from feeding themselvesif byany honest means they can do it?'

"It being mentionedthat Garrick assisted Dr. Brownthe authour of the'Estimate' in some dramatick composition'NoSir; (said Johnson) he would nomore suffer Garrick to write a line in his playthan he would suffer him tomount his pulpit.'

"Speaking of Burkehe said'It was commonly observed he spoke toooften in parliament; but nobody could say he did not speak wellthough toofrequently and too familiarly.'

"Speaking of economyhe remarkedit was hardly worth while to saveanxiously twenty pounds a year. If a man could save to that degreeso as toenable him to assume a different rank in societythenindeedit might answersome purpose.

"He observeda principal source of erroneous judgement wasviewingthings partially and only on one side: as for instancefortune hunterswhenthey contemplated the fortunes singly and separatelyit was a dazzling andtempting object; but when they came to possess the wives and their fortunestogetherthey began to suspect they had not made quite so good a bargain.

"Speaking of the late Duke of Northumberland living very magnificentlywhen Lord Lieutenant of Irelandsomebody remarkedit would be difficult tofind a suitable successor to him: thenexclaimed Johnsonhe is only fit tosucceed himself.

"He advised meif possibleto have a good orchard. He knewhe saidaclergyman of small incomewho brought up a family very reputablywhich hechiefly fed with apple dumplins.

"He saidhe had known several good scholars among the Irish gentlemen;but scarcely any of them correct in quantity. He extended the same observationto Scotland.

"Speaking of a certain Prelatewho exerted himself very laudably inbuilding churches and parsonage-houses; 'however' said he'I do not find thathe is esteemed a man of much professional learningor a liberal patron of it;-yetit is wellwhere a man possesses any strong positive excellence.- Few haveall kinds of merit belonging to their character. We must not examine matters toodeeply- NoSira fallible being will fail somewhere. '

"Talking of the Irish Clergyhe saidSwift was a man of great partsand the instrument of much good to his country.- Berkeley was a profoundscholaras well as a man of fine imagination; but Usherhe saidwas the greatluminary of the Irish Church; and a greaterhe addedno church could boast of;at least in modern times.

"We dined tete-a-tete at the Mitreas I was preparing to return toIrelandafter an absence of many years. I regretted much leaving LondonwhereI had formed many agreeable connections: 'Sir(said he) I don't wonder at it;no manfond of lettersleaves London without regret. But rememberSiryouhave seen and enjoyed a great deal;- you have seen life in its highestdecorationsand the world has nothing new to exhibit.- No man is so wellqualified to leave publick life as he who has long tried it and known it well.We are always hankering after untried situationsand imagining greater felicityfrom them than they can afford. NoSirknowledge and virtue may be acquired inall countriesand your local consequence will make you some amends for theintellectual gratifications you relinquish.' Then he quoted the following lineswith great pathos: -

'He who has early known the pomps of state

(For things unknown'tis ignorance to condemn;)

And after having viewed the gaudy bait

Can boldly saythe trifle I contemn;

With such a one contented could I live

Contented could I die.' * -

* [Being desirous to trace these verses to the fountain-beadafter having invain turned over several of our elder poets with the hope of lighting on themIapplied to Dr. Maxwellnow resident at Bathfor the purpose of ascertainingtheir authourbut that gentleman could furnish no aid on this occasion. Atlength the lines have been discovered by the authour's second sonMr. JamesBoswellin the London Magazine for July1732where they form part of a poemon RETIREMENTthere published anonymouslybut in fact (as he afterwards found)copied with some slight variations from one of Walsh's smaller poemsentitled"The Retirement;" and they exhibit another proof of what has beenelsewhere observed by the author of the work before usthat Johnson retained inhis memory fragments of obscure or neglected poetry. In quoting verses of thatdescriptionhe appears by a slight variation to have sometimes given them amoral turnand to have dexterously adapted them to his own sentimentswherethe original had a very different tendency. Thusin the present instance(asMr. J. Boswell observes to me) "the authour of the poem above-mentionedexhibits himself as having retired to the countryto avoid the vain follies ofa town life- ambitionavariceand the pursuit of pleasurecontrasted withthe enjoyments of the countryand the delightful conversation that the brooks&c. furnish: which he holds to be infinitely more pleasing and instructivethan any which towns afford. He is then led to consider the weakness of thehuman mindand after lamenting that he (the writer) who is neither enslaved byavariceambitionor pleasurehas yet made himself a slave to lovehe thusproceeds:

"If this dire passion never will be done

If beauty always must my heart enthral

Orather let me be enslaved by one

Than madly thus become a slave to all:

One who has early known the pomp of state

For things unknown 'tis ignorance to condemn

Andafter having viewed the gaudy bait

Can coldly saythe trifle I contemn;

In her blest arms contended could I live

Contented could I die. ButO my mind

Imaginary scenes of bliss deceive

With hopes of joys impossible to find."

Another instance of Johnson's retaining in his memory verses by obscureauthours is given in Mr. Boswell's "Journal of a Tour to theHebrides;" wherein consequence of hearing a girl spinning in a chamberover that in which he was sittinghe repeated these lineswhich he said werewritten by one Giffarda clergyman; but the poem in which they are introducedhas hitherto been undiscovered:

"Verse sweetens toilhowever rude the sound:

All at her work the village maiden sings;

Nor while she turns the giddy wheel around

Revolves the sad vicissitude of things."

In the autumn of 1782when he was at Brighthelmstonehe frequentlyaccompanied Mr. Philip Metcalfe in his chaiseto take the air; and theconversation in one of their excursions happening to turn on a celebratedhistoriansince deceasedhe repeatedwith great precisionsome versesasvery characteristick of that gentleman. These furnish another proof of what hasbeen above observed; for they are found in a very obscure quarteramong someanonymous poems appended to the second volume of a collection frequently printedby Lintotunder the title of Pope's MISCELLANIES:

"See how the wand'ring Danube flows

Realms and religions parting;

A friend to all true christian foes

To PeterJackand Martin.

Now Protestantand Papist now

Not constant long to either

At length an infidel does grow

And ends his journey neither.

Thus many a youth I've known set out

Half Protestanthalf Papist

And rambling long the world about

Turn infidel or atheist."

In reciting these verses I have no doubt that Johnson substituted some wordsfor infidel in the second stanzato avoid the disagreeable repetition of thesame expression.- M.] -

"He then took a most affecting leave of me; saidhe knew it was a pointof duty that called me away.- 'We shall all be sorry to lose yousaid he: laudotamen. '"

1771: AETAT. 62 -

In 1771 he published another political pamphlet entitled "Thoughts onthe late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands" in whichuponmaterials furnished to him by ministryand upon general topicks expanded in hisrich stylehe successfully endeavoured to persuade the nation that it was wiseand laudable to suffer the question of right to remain undecidedrather thaninvolve our country in another war. It has been suggested by somewith whattruth I shall not take upon me to decidethat he rated the consequence of thoseislands to Great-Britain too low. But however this may beevery humane mindmust surely applaud the earnestness with which he averted the calamity of war; acalamity so dreadfulthat it is astonishing how civilisednayChristiannationscan deliberately continue to renew it. His description of its miseriesin this pamphletis one of the finest pieces of eloquence in the Englishlanguage. Upon this occasiontoowe find Johnson lashing the party inopposition with unbounded severityand making the fullest use of what he everreckoned a most effectual argumentative instrument- contempt. His character oftheir very able mysterious championJUNIUSis executed with all the force ofhis geniusand finished with the highest care. He seems to have exulted insallying forth to single combat against the boasted and formidable herowhobade defiance to "principalities and powersand the rulers of thisworld."

This pamphletit is observablewas softened in one particularafter thefirst edition; for the conclusion of Mr. George Grenville's character stoodthus: "Let him nothoweverbe depreciated in his grave. He had powers notuniversally possessed: could he have enforced payment of the