Life Of Johnson, Vol. 1
by Boswell
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[305] Bernard Lintot (post, July 19, 1763) died Feb. 3, 1736. Gent. Mag. vi. 110. This, no doubt, was his son.

[306] Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 195) says that being in London in 1746 he dined frequently with a club of officers, where they had an excellent dinner at ten-pence. From what he adds it is clear that the tavern-keeper made his profit on the wine. At Edinburgh, four years earlier, he and his fellow-students used to get 'at four-pence a-head a very good dinner of broth and beef, and a roast and potatoes every day, with fish three or four times a-week, and all the small beer that was called for till the cloth was removed' (ib. p. 63). W. Hutton, who in 1750 opened a very small book-shop in Birmingham, for which he paid rent at a shilling a week, says (Life of Hutton, p. 84): 'Five shillings a week covered every expense; as food, rent, washing, lodging, &c.' He knew how to live wretchedly.

[307] On April 17, 1778, Johnson said: 'Early in life I drank wine; for many years I drank none. I then for some years drank a great deal. I then had a severe illness, and left it off, and I have never begun it again.' Somewhat the same account is given in Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 16, 1773. Roughly speaking, he seems to have been an abstainer from about 1736 to at least as late as 1757, and from about 1765 to the end of his life. In 1751 Hawkins (Life, p. 286) describes him as drinking only lemonade 'in a whole night spent in festivity' at the Ivy Lane Club. In 1757 he described himself 'as a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with only tea' (Johnson's Works, vi. 21). It was, I believe, in his visit to Oxford in 1759 that 'University College witnessed his drinking three bottles of port without being the worse for it' (post, April 7, 1778). When he was living in the Temple (between 1760-65) he had the frisk with Langton and Beauclerk when they made a bowl of Bishop (post, 1753). On his birthday in 1760, he 'resolved to drink less strong liquors' (Pr. and Med. p. 42). In 1762 on his visit to Devonshire he drank three bottles of wine after supper. This was the only time Reynolds had seen him intoxicated. (Northcote's Reynolds, ii. 161). In 1763 he affected Boswell's nerves by keeping him up late to drink port with him (post, July 14, 1763). On April 21, 1764, he records: 'From the beginning of this year I have in some measure forborne excess of strong drink' (Pr. and Med. p. 51). On Easter Sunday he records: 'Avoided wine' (id. p. 55). On March 1, 1765, he is described at Cambridge as 'giving Mrs. Macaulay for his toast, and drinking her in two bumpers.' It was about this time that he had the severe illness (post, under Oct. 17, 1765, note). In Feb. 1766, Boswell found him no longer drinking wine. He shortly returned to it again; for on Aug. 2, 1767, he records, 'I have for some days forborne wine;' and on Aug. 17, 'By abstinence from wine and suppers I obtained sudden and great relief' (Pr. and Med. pp. 73, 4). According to Hawkins, Johnson said:—'After a ten years' forbearance of every fluid except tea and sherbet, I drank one glass of wine to the health of Sir Joshua Reynolds on the evening of the day on which he was knighted' (Hawkins's Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 215). As Reynolds was knighted on April 21, 1769 (Taylor's Reynolds, i. 321), Hawkins's report is grossly inaccurate. In Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 16, 1773, and post, March 16, 1776, we find him abstaining. In 1778 he persuaded Boswell to be 'a water-drinker upon trial' (post, April 28, 1778). On April 7, 1779, 'he was persuaded to drink one glass of claret that he might judge of it, not from recollection.' On March 20, 1781, Boswell found that Johnson had lately returned to wine. 'I drink it now sometimes,' he said, 'but not socially.' He seems to have generally abstained however. On April 20, 1781, he would not join in drinking Lichfield ale. On March 17, 1782, he made some punch for himself, by which in the night he thought 'both his breast and imagination disordered' (Pr. and Med. p. 205). In the spring of this year Hannah More urged him to take a little wine. 'I can't drink a little, child,' he answered; 'therefore I never touch it' (H. More's Memoirs, i. 251). On July 1, 1784, Beattie, who met him at dinner, says, 'he cannot be prevailed on to drink wine' (Beattie's Life, p. 316). On his death-bed he refused any 'inebriating sustenance' (post, Dec. 1784). It is remarkable that writing to Dr. Taylor on Aug. 5, 1773, he said:—'Drink a great deal, and sleep heartily;' and that on June 23, 1776, he again wrote to him:—'I hope you presever in drinking. My opinion is that I have drunk too little, and therefore have the gout, for it is of my own acquisition, as neither my father had it nor my mother' (Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. pp. 422, 3). On Sept. 19, 1777 (post), he even 'owned that in his opinion a free use of wine did not shorten life.' Johnson disapproved of fermented liquors only in the case of those who, like himself and Boswell, could not keep from excess.

[308] Ofellus, or rather Ofella, is the 'rusticus, abnormis sapiens, crassaque Minerva' of Horace's Satire, ii. 2. 3. What he teaches is briefly expressed in Pope's Imitation, ii. 2. 1:

'What, and how great, the virtue and the art To live on little with a cheerful heart (A doctrine sage, but truly none of mine); Let's talk, my friends, but talk before we dine.'

In 1769 was published a worthless poem called The Art of Living in London; in which 'instructions were given to persons who live in a garret, and spend their evenings in an ale-house.' Gent. Mag. xxxix. 45. To this Boswell refers.

[309] 'Johnson this day, when we were by ourselves, observed how common it was for people to talk from books; to retail the sentiments of others, and not their own; in short, to converse without any originality of thinking. He was pleased to say, "You and I do not talk from books."' Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 3, 1773.

[310] The passage to Ireland was commonly made from Chester.

[311] The honourable Henry Hervey, third son of the first Earl of Bristol, quitted the army and took orders. He married a sister of Sir Thomas Aston, by whom he got the Aston Estate, and assumed the name and arms of that family. Vide Collins's Peerage. BOSWELL.

[312] The following brief mention of Greenwich Park in 1750 is found in one of Miss Talbot's Letters. 'Then when I come to talk of Greenwich—Did you ever see it? It was quite a new world to me, and a very charming one. Only on the top of a most inaccessible hill in the park, just as we were arrived at a view that we had long been aiming at, a violent clap of thunder burst over our heads.'—Carter and Talbot Corres, i. 345.

[313] At the Oxford Commemoration of 1733 Courayer returned thanks in his robes to the University for the honour it had done him two years before in presenting him with his degree. Dr. Johnson: His Friends and his Critics, p. 94.

[314] This library was given by George IV to the British Museum. CROKER.

[315] Ovid, Meta. iii. 724.

[316] Act iii. sc. 8.

[317] Act i. sc. 1.

[318] Act ii. sc. 7.

[319] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 232 [Sept. 20, 1773]. BOSWELL.

[320] Johnson's letter to her of Feb. 6, 1759, shows that she was, at that time, living in his house at Lichfield. Miss Seward (Letters, i. 116) says that 'she boarded in Lichfield with his mother.' Some passages in other of his letters (Croker's Boswell, pp. 144, 145, 173) lead me to think that she stayed on in this house till 1766, when she had built herself a house with money left her by her brother.

[321] See post, Oct. 10, 1779.

[322] He could scarcely have solicited a worse manager. Horace Walpole writing in 1744 (Letters, i. 332) says: 'The town has been trying all this winter to beat pantomimes off the stage very boisterously. Fleetwood, the master of Drury-Lane, has omitted nothing to support them as they supported his house. About ten days ago, he let into the pit great numbers of Bear-garden bruisers (that is the term) to knock down everybody that hissed. The pit rallied their forces and drove them out.'

[323] It was not till volume v. that Cave's name was given on the title-page. In volumes viii. and ix., and volumes xii. to xvii. the name is Edward Cave, Jun. Cave in his examination before the House of Lords on April 30, 1747, said:—'That he was concerned in the Gentleman's Magazine at first with his nephew; and since the death of his nephew he has done it entirely himself.' Parl. Hist. xiv. 59.

[324] Its sale, according to Johnson, was ten thousand copies. Post, April 25, 1778. So popular was it that before it had completed its ninth year the fifth edition of some of the earliest numbers was printed. Johnson's Works, v. 349. In the Life of Cave Johnson describes it as 'a periodical pamphlet, of which the scheme is known wherever the English language is spoken.' Ib. vi. 431.

[325] Yet the early numbers contained verses as grossly indecent as they were dull. Cave moreover advertised indecent books for sale at St. John's Gate, and in one instance, at least, the advertisement was in very gross language.

[326] See post, April 25, 1778.

[327] While in the course of my narrative I enumerate his writings, I shall take care that my readers shall not be left to waver in doubt, between certainty and conjecture, with regard to their authenticity; and, for that purpose, shall mark with an asterisk (*) those which he acknowledged to his friends, and with a dagger (dagger) those which are ascertained to be his by internal evidence. When any other pieces are ascribed to him, I shall give my reasons. BOSWELL.

[328] Hawkins says that 'Cave had few of those qualities that constitute the character of urbanity. Upon the first approach of a stranger his practice was to continue sitting, and for a few minutes to continue silent. If at any time he was inclined to begin the discourse, it was generally by putting a leaf of the Magazine then in the press into the hand of his visitor and asking his opinion of it. He was so incompetent a judge of Johnson's abilities that, meaning at one time to dazzle him with the splendour of some of those luminaries in literature who favoured him with their correspondence, he told him that, if he would in the evening be at a certain alehouse in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, he might have a chance of seeing Mr. Browne and another or two of the persons mentioned in the preceding note. [The note contained the names of some of Cave's regular writers.] Johnson accepted the invitation; and being introduced by Cave, dressed in a loose horseman's coat, and such a great bushy uncombed wig as he constantly wore, to the sight of Mr. Browne, whom he found sitting at the upper end of a long table, in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, had his curiosity gratified.' [Mr. Carlyle writes of 'bushy-wigged Cave;' but it was Johnson whose wig is described, and not Cave's. On p. 327 Hawkins again mentions his 'great bushy wig,' and says that 'it was ever nearly as impenetrable by a comb as a quickset hedge.'] Hawkins's Johnson, pp. 45-50. Johnson, after mentioning Cave's slowness, says: 'The same chillness of mind was observable in his conversation; he was watching the minutest accent of those whom he disgusted by seeming inattention; and his visitant was surprised, when he came a second time, by preparations to execute the scheme which he supposed never to have been heard.' Johnson's Works, vi. 434.

[329] 'The first lines put one in mind of Casimir's Ode to Pope Urban:—

"Urbane, regum maxime, maxime Urbane vatum."

The Polish poet was probably at that time in the hands of a man who had meditated the history of the Latin poets.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 42.

[330] Cave had been grossly attacked by rival booksellers; see Gent. Mag., viii. 156. Hawkins says (Life, p. 92), 'With that sagacity which we frequently observe, but wonder at, in men of slow parts, he seemed to anticipate the advice contained in Johnson's ode, and forbore a reply, though not his revenge.' This he gratified by reprinting in his own Magazine one of the most scurrilous and foolish attacks.

[331] A translation of this Ode, by an unknown correspondent, appeared in the Magazine 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 fair, and shall for ever grow.

'What mean the servile imitating crew, What their vain blust'ring, and 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, Resistless, tho' malicious crouds oppose.

'Exert thy powers, nor slacken in the course, Thy spotless fame shall quash all false reports: Exert thy powers, nor 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 improving, various joys we find, A welcome respite to the wearied mind.

'Thus when the nymphs in some fair verdant mead, Of various flowr's a beauteous wreath compose, The lovely violet's azure-painted head Adds lustre to the crimson-blushing rose. Thus splendid Iris, with her varied dye, Shines in the aether, and adorns the sky. BRITON.'


[332] 'I have some reason to think that at his first coming to town he frequented Slaughter's coffee-house with a view to acquire a habit of speaking French, but he never could attain to it. Lockman used the same method and succeeded, as Johnson himself once told me.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 516. Lockman is l'ilustre Lockman mentioned post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection. It was at 'Old Slaughter's Coffee-house, when a number of foreigners were talking loud about little matters, that Johnson one evening said, "Does not this confirm old Meynell's observation, For anything I see, foreigners are fools"?' post, ib.

[333] He had read Petrarch 'when but a boy;' ante, p. 57.

[334] Horace Walpole, writing of the year 1770, about libels, says: 'Their excess was shocking, and in nothing more condemnable than in the dangers they brought on the liberty of the press.' This evil was chiefly due to 'the spirit of the Court, which aimed at despotism, and the daring attempts of Lord Mansfield to stifle the liberty of the press. His innovations had given such an alarm that scarce a jury would find the rankest satire libellous.' Memoirs of the Reign of George III, iv. 167. Smollett in Humphrey Clinker (published in 1771) makes Mr. Bramble write, in his letter of June 2: 'The public papers are become the infamous vehicles of the most cruel and perfidious defamation; every rancorous knave—every desperate incendiary, that can afford to spend half-a-crown or three shillings, may skulk behind the press of a newsmonger, and have a stab at the first character in the kingdom, without running the least hazard of detection or punishment.' The scribblers who had of late shewn their petulance were not always obscure. Such scurrilous but humorous pieces as Probationary Odes for the Laureateship, The Rolliad, and Royal Recollections, which were all published while Boswell was writing The Life of Johnson, were written, there can be little doubt, by men of position. In the first of the three (p. 27) Boswell is ridiculed. He is made to say:—'I know Mulgrave is a bit of a poet as well as myself; for I dined in company once where he dined that very day twelve-month.' This evil of libelling had extended to America. Benjamin Franklin (Memoirs, i. 148), writing in 1784, says that 'libelling and personal abuse have of late years become so disgraceful to our country. Many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters.'

[335] Boswell perhaps refers to a book published in 1758, called The Case of Authors by Profession. Gent. Mag. xxviii. 130. Guthrie applies the term to himself in the letter below.

[336] How much poetry he wrote, I know not: but he informed me, that he was the authour of the beautiful little piece, The Eagle and Robin Redbreast, in the collection of poems entitled The Union, though it is there said to be written by Archibald Scott, before the year 1600. BOSWELL. Mr. P. Cunningham has seen a letter of Jos. Warton's which states that this poem was written by his brother Tom, who edited the volume. CROKER.

[337] Dr. A. Carlyle in his Autobiography (p. 191) describes a curious scene that he witnessed in the British Coffee-house. A Captain Cheap 'was employed by Lord Anson to look out for a proper person to write his voyage. Cheap had a predilection for his countrymen, and having heard of Guthrie, he had come down to the coffee-house to inquire about him. Not long after Cheap had sat down, Guthrie arrived, dressed in laced clothes, and talking loud to everybody, and soon fell awrangling with a gentleman about tragedy and comedy and the unities, &c., and laid down the law of the drama in a peremptory manner, supporting his arguments with cursing and swearing. I saw Cheap was astonished, when, going to the bar, he asked who this was, and finding it was Guthrie he paid his coffee and slunk off in silence.' Guthrie's meanness is shown by the following letter in D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, i. 5:—

'June 3, 1762.

'My Lord,

'In the year 1745-6 Mr. Pelham, then First Lord of the Treasury, acquainted me that it was his Majesty's pleasure I should receive till better provided for, which never has happened, 200. a year, to be paid by him and his successors in the Treasury. I was satisfied with the august name made use of, and the appointment has been regularly and quarterly paid me ever since. I have been equally punctual in doing the Government all the services that fell within my abilities or sphere of life, especially in those critical situations that call for unanimity in the service of the Crown.

'Your Lordship may possibly now suspect that I am an Author by profession; you are not deceived; and will be less so, if you believe that I am disposed to serve his Majesty under your Lordship's future patronage and protection with greater zeal, if possible, than ever.

'I have the honour to be

'My Lord &c.


The lord's name is not given. See post, spring of 1768, and 1780 in Mr. Langton's Collection for further mention of Guthrie.

[338] Perhaps there were Scotticisms for Johnson to correct; for Churchill in The Author, writing of Guthrie, asks:—

'With rude unnatural jargon to support Half Scotch, half English, a declining Court

* * * * *

Is there not Guthrie?'

Churchill's Poems, ii. 39.

[339] See Appendix A.

[340] Pope, Imitations of Horace, ii. l. 71.

[341] 'To give the world assurance of a man.' Hamlet, Act iii. sc. 4.

[342] In his Life of Pope Johnson says: 'This mode of imitation ... was first practised in the reign of Charles II. by Oldham and Rochester; at least I remember no instances more ancient. It is a kind of middle composition between translation and original design, which pleases when the thoughts are unexpectedly applicable and the parallels lucky. It seems to have been Pope's favourite amusement, for he has carried it farther than any former poet.' Johnson's Works, viii. 295.

[343] I own it pleased me to find amongst them one trait of the manners of the age in London, in the last century, to shield from the sneer of English ridicule, which was some time ago too common a practice in my native city of Edinburgh:—

'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 chamberpots come pouring down From garret windows.'


See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 14, 1773, where Johnson, on taking his first walk in Edinburgh, 'grumbled in Boswell's ear, "I smell you in the dark."' I once spent a night in a town of Corsica, on the great road between Ajaccio and Bastia, where, I was told, this Edinburgh practice was universal. It certainly was the practice of the hotel.

[344] His Ode Ad Urbanum probably. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[345] Johnson, on his death-bed, had to own that 'Cave was a penurious paymaster; he would contract for lines by the hundred, and expect the long hundred.' See post, Dec. 1784.

[346] Cave sent the present by Johnson to the unknown author.

[347] See post, p. 151, note 5.

[348] The original letter has the following additional paragraph:—'I beg that you will not delay your answer.'

[349] In later life Johnson strongly insisted on the importance of fully dating all letters. After giving the date in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, he would add,—'Now there is a date, look at it' (Piozzi Letters, ii. 109); or, 'Mark that—you did not put the year to your last' (Ib. p. 112); or, 'Look at this and learn' (Ib. p. 138). She never did learn. The arrangement of the letters in the Piozzi Letters is often very faulty. For an omission of the date by Johnson in late life see post, under March 5, 1774.

[350] A poem, published in 1737, of which see an account under April 30, 1773—BOSWELL.

[351] The learned Mrs. Elizabeth Carter. BOSWELL. She was born Dec. 1717, and died Feb. 19, 1806. She never married. Her father gave her a learned education. Dr. Johnson, speaking of some celebrated scholar [perhaps Langton], said, 'that he understood Greek better than any one whom he he had ever known, except Elizabeth Carter.' Pennington's Carter, i. 13. Writing to her in 1756 he said, 'Poor dear Cave! I owed him much; for to him I owe that I have known you' (Ib. p. 40). Her father wrote to her on June 25, 1738:—'You mention Johnson; but that is a name with which I am utterly unacquainted, Neither his scholastic, critical, or poetical character ever reached my ears. I a little suspect his judgement, if he is very fond of Martial' (Ib. p. 39). Since 1734 she had written verses for the Gent. Mag. under the name of Eliza (Ib. p. 37)! They are very poor. Her Ode to Melancholy her biographer calls her best. How bad it is three lines will show:—

'Here, cold to pleasure's airy forms, Consociate with my sister worms, And mingle with the dead.'

Gent. Mag. ix. 599.

Hawkins records that Johnson, upon hearing a lady commended for her learning, said:—'A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table than when his wife talks Greek. My old friend, Mrs. Carter, could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 205. Johnson, joining her with Hannah More and Fanny Burney, said:—'Three such women are not to be found.' Post, May 15, 1784.

[352] See Voltaire's Sicle de Louis XIV, ch. xxv..

[353] At the end of his letter to Cave, quoted post, 1742, he says:—'The boy found me writing this almost in the dark, when I could not quite easily read yours.' A man who at times was forced to walk the streets, for want of money to pay for a lodging, was likely also at times to be condemned to idleness for want of a light.

[354] At the back of this letter is written: 'Sir, Please to publish the enclosed in your paper of first, and place to acc't of Mr. Edward Cave. For whom I am, Sir, your hum. ser't J. Bland. St. John's Gate, April 6, 1738.' London therefore was written before April 6.

[355] Boswell misread the letter. Johnson does not offer to allow the printer to make alterations. He says:—'I will take the trouble of altering any stroke of satire which you may dislike.' The law against libel was as unjust as it was severe, and printers ran a great risk.

[356] Derrick was not merely a poet, but also Master of the Ceremonies at Bath; post, May 16, 1763. For Johnson's opinion of his 'Muse' see post under March 30, 1783. Fortune, a Rhapsody, was published in Nov. 1751. Gent. Mag. xxi. 527. He is described in Humphrey Clinker in the letters of April 6 and May 6.

[357] See post, March 20, 1776.

[358] Six years later Johnson thus wrote of Savage's Wanderer:—'From a poem so diligently laboured, and so successfully finished, it might be reasonably expected that he should have gained considerable advantage; nor can it without some degree of indignation and concern be told, that he sold the copy for ten guineas.' Johnson's Works, viii. 131. Mrs. Piozzi sold in 1788 the copyright of her collection of Johnson's Letters for 500; post, Feb. 1767.

[359] The Monks of Medmenham Abbey. See Almon's Life of Wilkes, iii. 60, for Wilkes's account of this club. Horace Walpole (Letters, i. 92) calls Whitehead 'an infamous, but not despicable poet.'

[360] From The Conference, Churchill's Poems, ii. 15.

[361] In the Life of Pope Johnson writes:—'Paul Whitehead, a small poet, was summoned before the Lords for a poem called Manners, together with Dodsley his publisher. Whitehead, who hung loose upon society, sculked and escaped; but Dodsley's shop and family made his appearance necessary.' Johnson's Works, viii. 297. Manners was published in 1739. Dodsley was kept in custody for a week. Gent. Mag. ix. 104. 'The whole process was supposed to be intended rather to intimidate Pope [who in his Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-Eight had given offence] than to punish Whitehead, and it answered that purpose.' CHALMERS, quoted in Parl. Hist. x. 1325

[362] Sir John Hawkins, p. 86, tells us:—'The event is antedated, in the poem of London; but in every particular, except the difference of a year, what is there said of the departure of Thales, must be understood of Savage, and looked upon as true history.' This conjecture is, I believe, entirely groundless. I have been assured, that Johnson said he was not so much as acquainted with Savage when he wrote his London. If the departure mentioned in it was the departure of Savage, the event was not antedated but foreseen; for London was published in May, 1738, and Savage did not set out for Wales till July, 1739. However well Johnson could defend the credibility of second sight [see post, Feb. 1766], he did not pretend that he himself was possessed of that faculty. BOSWELL. I am not sure that Hawkins is altogether wrong in his account. Boswell does not state of his own knowledge that Johnson was not acquainted with Savage when he wrote London. The death of Queen Caroline in Nov. 1737 deprived Savage of her yearly bounty, and 'abandoned him again to fortune' (Johnson's Works, viii. 166). The elegy on her that he composed on her birth-day (March 1) brought him no reward. He was 'for some time in suspense,' but nothing was done. 'He was in a short time reduced to the lowest degree of distress, and often wanted both lodging and food' (Ib. p. 169). His friends formed a scheme that 'he should retire into Wales.' 'While this scheme was ripening' he lodged 'in the liberties of the Fleet, that he might be secure from his creditors' (Ib. p. 170). After many delays a subscription was at length raised to provide him with a small pension, and he left London in July 1739 (Ib. p 173). London, as I have shewn, was written before April 6, 1738. That it was written with great rapidity we might infer from the fact that a hundred lines of The Vanity of Human Wishes were written in a day. At this rate London might have been the work of three days. That it was written in a very short time seems to be shown by a passage in the first of these letters to Cave. Johnson says:—'When I took the liberty of writing to you a few days ago, I did not expect a repetition of the same pleasure so soon; ... but having the enclosed poem, &c.' It is probable that in these few days the poem was written. If we can assume that Savage's elegy was sent to the Court not later than March 1—it may have been sent earlier—and that Johnson's poem was written in the last ten days of March, we have three weeks for the intervening events. They are certainly not more than sufficient, if indeed they are sufficient. The coincidence is certainly very striking between Thales's retirement to 'Cambria's solitary shore' and Savage's retirement to Wales. There are besides lines in the poem—additions to Juvenal and not translations—which curiously correspond with what Johnson wrote of Savage in his Life. Thus he says that Savage 'imagined that he should be transported to scenes of flowery felicity; ... he could not bear ... to lose the opportunity of listening, without intermission, to the melody of the nightingale, which he believed was to be heard from every bramble, and which he did not fail to mention as a very important part of the happiness of a country life' (Ib. p. 170). In like manner Thales prays to find:—

'Some pleasing bank where verdant osiers play, Some peaceful vale, with nature's paintings gay.

* * * * *

There every bush with nature's musick rings; There every breeze bears health upon its wings.'

Mr. Croker objects that 'if Thales had been Savage, Johnson could never have admitted into his poem two lines that point so forcibly at the drunken fray, in which Savage stabbed a Mr. Sinclair, for which he was convicted of murder:—

"Some frolic drunkard, reeling from a feast, Provokes a broil, and stabs you in a jest."'

But here Johnson is following Juvenal. Mr. Croker forgets that, if Savage was convicted of murder, 'he was soon after admitted to bail, and pleaded the King's pardon.' 'Persons of distinction' testified that he was 'a modest inoffensive man, not inclined to broils or to insolence;' the witnesses against him were of the lowest character, and his judge had shewn himself as ignorant as he was brutal. Sinclair had been drinking in a brothel, and Savage asserted that he had stabbed him 'by the necessity of self defence' (Ib. p. 117). It is, however, not unlikely that Wales was suggested to Johnson as Thales's retreat by Swift's lines on Steele, in Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (v. 181), published only three years before London:—

'Thus Steele who owned what others writ, And flourished by imputed wit, From perils of a hundred jails Withdrew to starve and die in Wales.'

[363] The first dialogue was registered at Stationers' Hall, 12th May, 1738, under the title One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight. The second dialogue was registered 17th July, 1738, as One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight, Dialogue 2. Elwin's Pope, iii. 455.

David Hume was in London this spring, finding a publisher for his first work, A Treatise of Human Nature. J. H. Burton's Hume, i. 66.

[364] Pope had published Imitations of Horace.

[365] P. 269. BOSWELL. 'Short extracts from London, a Poem, become remarkable for having got to the second edition in the space of a week.' Gent. Mag. viii. 269. The price of the poem was one shilling. Pope's satire, though sold at the same price, was longer in reaching its second edition (Ib. p. 280).


'One driven by strong benevolence of soul Shall fly, like Oglethorpe, from pole to pole.'

Pope's Imitations of Horace, ii. 2. 276.

'General Oglethorpe, died 1785, earned commemoration in Pope's gallery of worthies by his Jacobite politics. He was, however, a remarkable man. He first directed attention to the abuses of the London jails. His relinquishment of all the attractions of English life and fortune for the settlement of the colony of Georgia is as romantic a story at that of Bishop Berkeley' (Pattison's Pope, p. 152). It is very likely that Johnson's regard for Oglethorpe was greatly increased by the stand that he and his brother-trustees in the settlement of Georgia made against slavery (see post, Sept. 23, 1777). 'The first principle which they laid down in their laws was that no slave should be employed. This was regarded at the time as their great and fundamental error; it was afterwards repealed' (Southey's Wesley, i. 75). In spite, however, of Oglethorpe's 'strong benevolence of soul' he at one time treated Charles Wesley, who was serving as a missionary in Georgia, with great brutality (Ib. p. 88). According to Benjamin Franklin (Memoirs, i. 162) Georgia was settled with little forethought. 'Instead of being made with hardy industrious husbandmen, it was with families of broken shop-keepers, and other insolvent debtors; many of idle habits, taken out of the jails, who being set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for.' Johnson wished to write Oglethorpe's life; post, April 10, 1775.

[367] Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 548), writing of him 47 years after London was published, when he was 87 years old, says:—'His eyes, ears, articulation, limbs, and memory would suit a boy, if a boy could recollect a century backwards. His teeth are gone; he is a shadow, and a wrinkled one; but his spirits and his spirit are in full bloom: two years and a-half ago he challenged a neighbouring gentleman for trespassing on his manor.'

[368] Once Johnson being at dinner at Sir Joshua's in company with many painters, in the course of conversation Richardson's Treatise on Painting happened to be mentioned, 'Ah!' said Johnson, 'I remember, when I was at college, I by chance found that book on my stairs. I took it up with me to my chamber, and read it through, and truly I did not think it possible to say so much upon the art.' Sir Joshua desired of one of the company to be informed what Johnson had said; and it being repeated to him so loud that Johnson heard it, the Doctor seemed hurt, and added, 'But I did not wish, Sir, that Sir Joshua should have been told what I then said.' Northcote's Reynolds, i. 236. Jonathan Richardson the painter had published several works on painting before Johnson went to college. He and his son, Jonathan Richardson, junior, brought out together Explanatory Notes on Paradise Lost.

[369] Sir Joshua Reynolds, from the information of the younger Richardson. BOSWELL. See post, Oct. 16, 1769, where Johnson himself relates this anecdote. According to Murphy, 'Pope said, "The author, whoever he is, will not be long concealed;" alluding to the passage in Terence [Eun. ii. 3, 4], Ubi, ubi est, diu celari non potest.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 35.

[370] Such as far and air, which comes twice; vain and man, despair and bar.

[371] It is, however, remarkable, that he uses the epithet, which undoubtedly, since the union between England and Scotland, ought to denominate the natives of both parts of our island:—

'Was early taught a BRITON'S rights to prize.'


Swift, in his Journal to Stella (Nov. 23, 1711), having to mention England, continues:—'I never will call it Britain, pray don't call it Britain.' In a letter written on Aug. 8, 1738, again mentioning England, he adds,—'Pox on the modern phrase Great Britain, which is only to distinguish it from Little Britain, where old clothes and old books are to be bought and sold' (Swift's Works, 1803, xx. 185). George III 'gloried in being born a Briton;' post, 1760. Boswell thrice more at least describes Johnson as 'a true-born Englishman;' post, under Feb. 7, 1775, under March 30, 1783, and Boswell's Hebrides under Aug. 11, 1773. The quotation is from Richard II, Act i. sc. 3.


'For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land, Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand? There none are swept by sudden fate away, But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.'

London, 1. 9-12.

[373] In the Life of Savage, Johnson, criticising the settlement of colonies, as it is considered by the poet and the politician, seems to be criticising himself. 'The politician, when he considers men driven into other countries for shelter, and obliged to retire to forests and deserts, and pass their lives, and fix their posterity, in the remotest corners of the world, to avoid those hardships which they suffer or fear in their native place, may very properly enquire, why the legislature does not provide a remedy for these miseries, rather than encourage an escape from them. He may conclude that the flight of every honest man is a loss to the community.... The poet guides the unhappy fugitive from want and persecution to plenty, quiet, and security, and seats him in scenes of peaceful solitude, and undisturbed repose.' Johnson's Works, viii. 156.

[374] Three years later Johnson wrote:—'Mere unassisted merit advances slowly, if, what is not very common, it advances at all.' Ib. vi. 393.

[375] 'The busy hum of men.' Milton's L'Allegro, 1. 118.

[376] See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 21, 1773, and post, March 21, 1775, for Johnson's attack on Lord Chatham. In the Life of Thomson Johnson wrote:—'At this time a long course of opposition to Sir Robert Walpole had filled the nation with clamours for liberty, of which no man felt the want, and with care for liberty, which was not in danger.' Johnson's Works, viii. 370. Hawkins says (Life, p. 514);—'Of Walpole he had a high opinion. He said of him that he was a fine fellow, and that his very enemies deemed him so before his death. He honoured his memory for having kept this country in peace many years, as also for the goodness and placability of his temper.' Horace Walpole (Letters, v. 509), says:—'My father alone was capable of acting on one great plan of honesty from the beginning of his life to the end. He could for ever wage war with knaves and malice, and preserve his temper; could know men, and yet feel for them; could smile when opposed, and be gentle after triumph.'

[377] Johnson in the Life of Milton describes himself:—'Milton was naturally a thinker for himself, confident of his own abilities, and disdainful of help or hindrance. From his contemporaries he neither courted nor received support; there is in his writings nothing by which the pride of other authors might be gratified, or favour gained; no exchange of praise, nor solicitation of support.' Johnson's Works, vii. 142. See post Feb. 1766, for Johnson's opinion on 'courting great men.'

[378] In a billet written by Mr. Pope in the following year, this school is said to have been in Shropshire; but as it appears from a letter from Earl Gower, that the trustees of it were 'some worthy gentlemen in Johnson's neighbourhood,' I in my first edition suggested that Pope must have, by mistake, written Shropshire, instead of Staffordshire. But I have since been obliged to Mr. Spearing, attorney-at-law, for the following information:—'William Adams, formerly citizen and haberdasher of London, founded a school at Newport, in the county of Salop, by deed dated 27th November, 1656, by which he granted "the yearly sum of sixty pounds to such able and learned schoolmaster, from time to time, being of godly life and conversation, who should have been educated at one of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and had taken the degree of Master of Arts, and was well read in the Greek and Latin tongues, as should be nominated from time to time by the said William Adams, during his life, and after the decease of the said William Adams, by the Governours (namely, the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company of the City of London) and their successors." The manour and lands out of which the revenues for the maintenance of the school were to issue are situate at Knighton and Adbaston, in the county of Stafford.' From the foregoing account of this foundation, particularly the circumstances of the salary being sixty pounds, and the degree of Master of Arts being a requisite qualification in the teacher, it seemed probable that this was the school in contemplation; and that Lord Gower erroneously supposed that the gentlemen who possessed the lands, out of which the revenues issued, were trustees of the charity.

Such was probable conjecture. But in the Gent. Mag. for May, 1793, there is a letter from Mr. Henn, one of the masters of the school of Appleby, in Leicestershire, in which he writes as follows:—

'I compared time and circumstance together, in order to discover whether the school in question might not be this of Appleby. Some of the trustees at that period were "worthy gentlemen of the neighbourhood of Litchfield." Appleby itself is not far from the neighbourhood of Litchfield. The salary, the degree requisite, together with the time of election, all agreeing with the statutes of Appleby. The election, as said in the letter, "could not be delayed longer than the 11th of next month," which was the 11th of September, just three months after the annual audit-day of Appleby school, which is always on the 11th of June; and the statutes enjoin ne ullius praeceptorum electio diutius tribus mensibus moraretur, etc.

'These I thought to be convincing proofs that my conjecture was not ill-founded, and that, in a future edition of that book, the circumstance might be recorded as fact.

'But what banishes every shadow of doubt is the Minute-book of the school, which declares the headmastership to be at that time VACANT.'

I cannot omit returning thanks to this learned gentleman for the very handsome manner in which he has in that letter been so good as to speak of this work. BOSWELL.

[379] 'What a pity it is, Sir,' said to him Sir William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell, 'that you did not follow the profession of the law! You might have been Lord Chancellor of Great Britain' Post, April 17, 1778.

[380] See post, beginning of 1770.

[381] See post, March 21, 1775.

[382] In the Weekly Miscellany, October 21, 1738, there appeared the following advertisement:—'Just published, Proposals for printing the History of the Council of Trent, translated from the Italian of Father Paul Sarpi; with the Authour's Life, and Notes theological, historical, and critical, from the French edition of Dr. Le Courayer. To which are added, Observations on the History, and Notes and Illustrations from various Authours, both printed and manuscript. By S. Johnson. 1. The work will consist of two hundred sheets, and be two volumes in quarto, printed on good paper and letter. 2. The price will be 18s. each volume, to be paid, half-a-guinea at the delivery of the first volume, and the rest at the delivery of the second volume in sheets. 3. Two-pence to be abated for every sheet less than two hundred. It may be had on a large paper, in three volumes, at the price of three guineas; one to be paid at the time of subscribing, another at the delivery of the first, and the rest at the delivery of the other volumes. The work is now in the press, and will be diligently prosecuted. Subscriptions are taken in by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, Mr. Rivington in St. Paul's Church-yard, by E. Cave at St. John's Gate, and the Translator, at No. 6, in Castle-street by Cavendish-square.' BOSWELL.

[383] They afterwards appeared in the Gent. Mag. [viii. 486] with this title—'Verses to Lady Firebrace, at Bury Assizes.' BOSWELL.

[384] Du Halde's Description of China was then publishing by Mr. Cave in weekly numbers, whence Johnson was to select pieces for the embellishment of the Magazine. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[385] The premium of forty pounds proposed for the best poem on the Divine Attributes is here alluded to. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[386] The Compositors in Mr. Cave's printing-office, who appear by this letter to have then waited for copy. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[387] Twenty years later, when he was lodging in the Temple, he had fasted for two days at a time; 'he had drunk tea, but eaten no bread; this was no intentional fasting, but happened just in the course of a literary life.' Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 4, 1773. See post, Aug. 5, 1763.

[388] Birch MSS. Brit. Mus. 4323. BOSWELL.

[389] See post, under Dec. 30, 1747, and Oct. 24, 1780.

[390] See post, 1750.

[391] This book was published. BOSWELL. I have not been able to find it.

[392] The Historie of four-footed beasts and serpents. By Edward Topsell. London, 1607. Isaac Walton, in the Complete Angler, more than once quotes Topsel. See p. 99 in the reprint of the first edition, where he says:—'As our Topsel hath with great diligence observed.'

[393] In this preface he describes some pieces as 'deserving no other fate than to be hissed, torn, and forgotten. Johnson's Works, v. 346.

[394] The letter to Mr. Urban in the January number of this year (p. 3) is, I believe, by Johnson.

[395] 'Yet did Boerhaave not suffer one branch of science to withdraw his attention from others; anatomy did not withhold him from chymistry, nor chymistry, enchanting as it is, from the study of botany.' Johnson's Works, vi. 276. See post, under Sept. 9, 1779.

[396] Gent. Mag. viii. 210, and Johnson's Works, i. 170.

[397] What these verses are is not clear. On p. 372 there is an epigram Ad Elisam Popi Horto Lauras carpentem, of which on p. 429 there are three translations. That by Urbanus may be Johnson's.

[398] Ib. p. 654, and Johnson's Works, i. 170. On p. 211 of this volume of the Gent. Mag. is given the epigram 'To a lady who spoke in defence of liberty.' This was 'Molly Aston' mentioned ante, p. 83.

[399] To the year 1739 belongs Considerations on the Case of Dr. T[rapp]s Sermons. Abridged by Mr. Cave, 1739; first published in the Gent. Mag. of July 1787. (See post under Nov. 5, 1784, note.) Cave had begun to publish in the Gent. Mag. an abridgment of four sermons preached by Trapp against Whitefield. He stopped short in the publication, deterred perhaps by the threat of a prosecution for an infringement of copy-right. 'On all difficult occasions,' writes the Editor in 1787, 'Johnson was Cave's oracle; and the paper now before us was certainly written on that occasion.' Johnson argues that abridgments are not only legal but also justifiable. 'The design of an abridgment is to benefit mankind by facilitating the attainment of knowledge ... for as an incorrect book is lawfully criticised, and false assertions justly confuted ... so a tedious volume may no less lawfully be abridged, because it is better that the proprietors should suffer some damage, than that the acquisition of knowledge should be obstructed with unnecessary difficulties, and the valuable hours of thousands thrown away.' Johnson's Works, v. 465. Whether we have here Johnson's own opinion cannot be known. He was writing as Cave's advocate. See also Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 20, 1773.

[400] In his Life of Thomson Johnson writes:—'About this time the act was passed for licensing plays, of which the first operation was the prohibition of Gustavus Vasa, a tragedy of Mr. Brooke, whom the public recompensed by a very liberal subscription; the next was the refusal of Edward and Eleonora, offered by Thomson. It is hard to discover why either play should have been obstructed.' Johnson's Works, viii. 373.

[401] The Inscription and the Translation of it are preserved in the London Magazine for the year 1739, p. 244. BOSWELL. See Johnson's Works, vi. 89.

[402] It is a little heavy in its humour, and does not compare well with the like writings of Swift and the earlier wits.

[403] Hawkins's Johnson, p. 72.


'Sic fatus senior, telumque imbelle sine ictu Conjecit.' 'So spake the elder, and cast forth a toothless spear and vain.'

Morris, neids, ii. 544.


'Get all your verses printed fair, Then let them well be dried; And Curll must have a special care To leave the margin wide. Lend these to paper-sparing Pope; And when he sits to write, No letter with an envelope Could give him more delight.'

Advice to the Grub Street Verse-Writers. (Swift's Works, 1803, xi 32.) Nichols, in a note on this passage, says:—'The original copy of Pope's Homer is almost entirely written on the covers of letters, and sometimes between the lines of the letters themselves.' Johnson, in his Life of Pope, writes:—'Of Pope's domestic character frugality was a part eminently remarkable.... This general care must be universally approved; but it sometimes appeared in petty artifices of parsimony, such as the practice of writing his compositions on the back of letters, as may be seen in the remaining copy of the Iliad, by which perhaps in five years five shillings were saved.' Johnson's Works, viii. 312.

[406] See note, p. 132. BOSWELL.

[407] The Marmor Norfolciense, price one shilling, is advertised in the Gent. Mag. for 1739 (p. 220) among the books for April.

[408] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 8. BOSWELL.

[409] According to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Every person who knew Dr. Johnson must have observed that the moment he was left out of the conversation, whether from his deafness or from whatever cause, but a few minutes without speaking or listening, his mind appeared to be preparing itself. He fell into a reverie accompanied with strange antic gestures; but this he never did when his mind was engaged by the conversation. These were therefore improperly called convulsions, which imply involuntary contortions; whereas, a word addressed to him, his attention was recovered. Sometimes, indeed, it would be near a minute before he would give an answer, looking as if he laboured to bring his mind to bear on the question' (Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 456). 'I still, however, think,' wrote Boswell, 'that these gestures were involuntary; for surely had not that been the case, he would have restrained them in the public streets' (Boswell's Hebrides, under date of Aug. 11, 1773, note). Dr. T. Campbell, in his Diary of a Visit to England, p. 33, writing of Johnson on March 16, 1775, says:—'He has the aspect of an idiot, without the faintest ray of sense gleaming from any one feature—with the most awkward garb, and unpowdered grey wig, on one side only of his head—he is for ever dancing the devil's jig, and sometimes he makes the most driveling effort to whistle some thought in his absent paroxysms.' Miss Burney thus describes him when she first saw him in 1778:—'Soon after we were seated this great man entered. I have so true a veneration for him that the very sight of him inspires me with delight and reverence, notwithstanding the cruel infirmities to which he is subject; for he has almost perpetual convulsive movements, either of his hands, lips, feet, or knees, and sometimes of all together.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 63. See post, under March 30, 1783, Boswell's note on Johnson's peculiarities.

[410] 'Solitude,' wrote Reynolds, 'to him was horror; nor would he ever trust himself alone but when employed in writing or reading. He has often begged me to go home with him to prevent his being alone in the coach. Any company was better than none; by which he connected himself with many mean persons whose presence he could command.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 455. Johnson writing to Mrs. Thrale, said:—'If the world be worth winning, let us enjoy it; if it is to be despised, let us despise it by conviction. But the world is not to be despised but as it is compared with something better. Company is in itself better than solitude, and pleasure better than indolence.' Piozzi Letters, i. 242. In The Idler, No. 32, he wrote:—'Others are afraid to be alone, and amuse themselves by a perpetual succession of companions; but the difference is not great; in solitude we have our dreams to ourselves, and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is forgetfulness of ourselves.' In The Rambler, No. 5, he wrote:—'It may be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his own company, there is something wrong. He must fly from himself, either because he feels a tediousness in life from the equipoise of an empty mind ... or he must be afraid of the intrusion of some unpleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is struggling to escape from the remembrance of a loss, the fear of a calamity, or some other thought of greater horror.'

Cowper, whose temperament was in some respects not unlike Johnson's, wrote:—'A vacant hour is my abhorrence; because, when I am not occupied, I suffer under the whole influence of my unhappy temperament.' Southey's Cowper, vi. 146.

[411] Richardson was of the same way of thinking as Hogarth. Writing of a speech made at the Oxford Commemoration of 1754 by the Jacobite Dr. King (see post, Feb. 1755), he said:—'There cannot be a greater instance of the lenity of the government he abuses than his pestilent harangues so publicly made with impunity furnishes (sic) all his readers with.'—Rich. Corresp. ii. 197.

[412] Impartial posterity may, perhaps, be as little inclined as Dr. Johnson was to 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 generous, though mistaken principle of duty. Being obliged, after 1746, to give up his profession as a physician, and to go into foreign parts, he was honoured with the rank of Colonel, both in the French and Spanish service. He was a son of the ancient and respectable family of Cameron, of Lochiel; and his brother, who was the Chief of that brave clan, distinguished himself by moderation and humanity, while the Highland army marched victorious through Scotland. It is remarkable of this Chief, that though he had earnestly remonstrated against the attempt as hopeless, he was of too heroick a spirit not to venture his life and fortune in the cause, when personally asked by him whom he thought his prince. BOSWELL.

Sir Walter Scott states, in his Introduction to Redgauntlet, that the government of George II were in possession of sufficient evidence that Dr. Cameron had returned to the Highlands, not, as he alleged on his trial, for family affairs merely, but as the secret agent of the Pretender in a new scheme of rebellion: the ministers, however, preferred trying this indefatigable partisan on the ground of his undeniable share in the insurrection of 1745, rather than rescuing themselves and their master from the charge of harshness, at the expense of making it universally known, that a fresh rebellion had been in agitation so late as 1752. LOCKHART. He was executed on June 7, 1753. Gent. Mag. xxiii. 292. Lord Campbell (Lives of the Chancellors, v. 109) says:—'I regard his execution as a wanton atrocity.' Horace Walpole, however, inclined to the belief that Cameron was engaged in a new scheme of rebellion. Walpole's Memoirs of George II, i. 333.

[413] Horace Walpole says that towards convicts under sentence of death 'George II's disposition in general was merciful, if the offence was not murder.' He mentions, however, a dreadful exception, when the King sent to the gallows at Oxford a young man who had been 'guilty of a most trifling forgery,' though he had been recommended to mercy by the Judge, who 'had assured him his pardon.' Mercy was refused, merely because the Judge, Willes, 'was attached to the Prince of Wales.' It is very likely that this was one of Johnson's 'instances,' as it had happened about four years earlier, and as an account of the young man had been published by an Oxonian. Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George II, i. 175.

[414] It is strange that when Johnson had been sixteen years in London he should not be known to Hogarth by sight. 'Mr. Hogarth,' writes Mrs. Piozzi, 'was used to be very earnest that I should obtain the acquaintance, and if possible, the friendship of Dr. Johnson, "whose conversation was to the talk of other men, like Titian's painting compared to Hudson's," he said.... Of Dr. Johnson, when my father and he were talking together about him one day, "That man," says Hogarth, "is not contented with believing the Bible, but he fairly resolves, I think, to believe nothing but the Bible."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 136.

[415] On October 29 of this year James Boswell was born.

[416] In this preface is found the following lively passage:—'The Roman Gazetteers are defective in several material ornaments of style. They never end an article with the mystical hint, this occasions great speculation. They seem to have been ignorant of such engaging introductions as, we hear it is strongly reported; and of that ingenious, but thread-bare excuse for a downright lie, it wants confirmation.'

[417] The Lives of Blake and Drake were certainly written with a political aim. The war with Spain was going on, and the Tory party was doing its utmost to rouse the country against the Spaniards. It was 'a time,' according to Johnson, 'when the nation was engaged in a war with an enemy, whose insults, ravages, and barbarities have long called for vengeance.' Johnson's Works, vi. 293.

[418] Barretier's childhood surpassed even that of J. S. Mill. At the age of nine he was master of five languages, Greek and Hebrew being two of them. 'In his twelfth year he applied more particularly to the study of the fathers.' At the age of fourteen he published Anti-Artemonius; sive initium evangelii S. Joannis adversus Artemonium vindicatum. The same year the University of Halle offered him the degree of doctor in philosophy. 'His theses, or philosophical positions, which he printed, ran through several editions in a few weeks.' He was a deep student of mathematics, and astronomy was his favourite subject. His health broke down under his studies, and he died in 1740 in the twentieth year of his age. Johnson's Works, vi. 376.

[419] He wrote also in 1756 A Dissertation on the Epitaphs written by Pope.

[420] See post, Oct. 16, 1769.

[421] In the original and. Gent. Mag. x. 464. The title of this poem as there given is:—'An epitaph upon the celebrated Claudy Philips, Musician, who died very poor.'

[422] The epitaph of Phillips is in the porch of Wolverhampton Church. The prose part of it is curious:—

'Near this place lies Charles Claudius Phillips, 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, and, after the experience of both kinds of fortune, Died in 1732.'

Mr. Garrick appears not to have recited the verses correctly, the original being as follows:—

'Exalted soul, thy various sounds could please The love-sick virgin and the gouty ease; Could jarring crowds, like old Amphion, move To beauteous order and harmonious love; Rest here in peace, till Angels bid thee rise, And meet thy Saviour's consort in the skies.' BLAKEWAY.

Consort is defined in Johnson's Dictionary as a number of instruments playing together.

[423] I have no doubt that it was written in 1741; for the second line is clearly a parody of a line in the chorus of Cibber's Birthday Ode for that year. The chorus is as follows:

'While thou our Master of the Main Revives Eliza's glorious reign, The great Plantagenets look down, And see your race adorn your crown.'

Gent. Mag. xi. 549.

In the Life of Barretier Johnson had also this fling at George II:—'Princes are commonly the last by whom merit is distinguished.' Johnson's Works, vi. 381.

[424] See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 23 and Nov. 21, 1773.

[425] Hester Lynch Salusbury, afterwards Mrs. Thrale, and later on Mrs. Piozzi, was born on Jan. 27, 1741.

[426] This piece is certainly not by Johnson. It contains more than one ungrammatical passage. It is impossible to believe that he wrote such a sentence as the following:—'Another having a cask of wine sealed up at the top, but his servant boring a hole at the bottom stole the greatest part of it away; sometime after, having called a friend to taste his wine, he found the vessel almost empty,' &c.

[427] Mr. Carlyle, by the use of the term 'Imaginary Editors' (Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, iii. 229), seems to imply that he does not hold with Boswell in assigning this piece to Johnson. I am inclined to think, nevertheless, that Boswell is right. If it is Johnson's it is doubly interesting as showing the method which he often followed in writing the Parliamentary Debates. When notes were given him, while for the most part he kept to the speaker's train of thoughts, he dealt with the language much as it pleased him. In the Gent. Mag. Cromwell speaks as if he were wearing a flowing wig and were addressing a Parliament of the days of George II. He is thus made to conclude Speech xi:—'For my part, could I multiply my person or dilate my power, I should dedicate myself wholly to this great end, in the prosecution of which I shall implore the blessing of God upon your counsels and endeavours.' Gent. Mag. xi. 100. The following are the words which correspond to this in the original:—'If I could help you to many, and multiply myself into many, that would be to serve you in regard to settlement.... But I shall pray to God Almighty that He would direct you to do what is according to His will. And this is that poor account I am able to give of myself in this thing.' Carlyle's Cromwell, iii. 255.

[428] See Appendix A.

[429] Lord Chesterfield.

[430] Duke of Newcastle.

[431] I suppose in another compilation of the same kind. BOSWELL.

[432] Doubtless, Lord Hardwick. BOSWELL.

[433] The delivery of letters by the penny-post 'was originally confined to the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark and the respective suburbs thereof.' In 1801 the postage was raised to twopence. The term 'suburbs' must have had a very limited signification, for it was not till 1831 that the limits of this delivery were extended to all places within three miles of the General Post Office. Ninth Report of the Commissioners of the Post Office, 1837, p. 4.

[434] Birch's MSS. in the British Museum, 4302. BOSWELL.

[435] See post, Dec. 1784, in Nichols's Anecdotes. If we may trust Hawkins, it is likely that Johnson's 'tenderness of conscience' cost Cave a good deal; for he writes that, while Johnson composed the Debates, the sale of the Magazine increased from ten to fifteen thousand copies a month. 'Cave manifested his good fortune by buying an old coach and a pair of older horses.' Hawkins's Johnson, P. 123.

[436] I am assured that the editor is Mr. George Chalmers, whose commercial works are well known and esteemed. BOSWELL.

[437] The characteristic of Pulteney's oratory is thus given in Hazlitts Northcole's Conversations (p. 288):—'Old Mr. Tolcher used to say of the famous Pulteney—"My Lord Bath always speaks in blank verse."'

[438] Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 100. BOSWELL.

[439] A bookseller of London. BOSWELL

[440] Not the Royal Society; but the Society for the encouragement of learning, of which Dr. Birch was a leading member. Their object was to assist authors in printing expensive works. It existed from about 1735 to 1746, when having incurred a considerable debt, it was dissolved. BOSWELL.

[441] There is no erasure here, but a mere blank; to fill up which may be an exercise for ingenious conjecture. BOSWELL.

[442] Johnson, writing to Dr. Taylor on June 10, 1742, says:—'I propose to get Charles of Sweden ready for this winter, and shall therefore, as I imagine, be much engaged for some months with the dramatic writers into whom I have scarcely looked for many years. Keep Irene close, you may send it back at your leisure.' Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 303. Charles of Sweden must have been a play which he projected.

[443] The profligate sentiment was, that 'to tell a secret to a friend is no breach of fidelity, because the number of persons trusted is not multiplied, a man and his friend being virtually the same.' Rambler, No. 13.

[444] Journal of a tour to the Hebrides, 3rd edit. p. 167. [Sept. 10, 1773.] BOSWELL.

[445] This piece contains a passage in honour of some great critic. 'May the shade, at least, of one great English critick rest without disturbance; and may no man presume to insult his memory, who wants his learning, his reason, or his wit.' Johnson's Works, v. 182. Bentley had died on July 14 of this year, and there can be little question that Bentley is meant.

[446] See post, end of 1744.

[447] 'There is nothing to tell, dearest lady, but that he was insolent and I beat him, and that he was a blockhead and told of it, which I should never have done.... I have beat many a fellow, but the rest had the wit to hold their tongues.' Piozzi's Anec. p. 233. In the Life of Pope Johnson thus mentions Osborne:—'Pope was ignorant enough of his own interest to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending for the prize among the booksellers [Dunciad, ii. 167]. Osborne was a man entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty.... The shafts of satire were directed equally in vain against Cibber and Osborne; being repelled by the impenetrable impudence of one, and deadened by the impassive dulness of the other.' Johnson's Works, viii. 302.

[448] In the original contentions.

[449] 'Dec. 21, 1775. In the Paper Office there is a wight, called Thomas Astle, who lives like moths on old parchments.' Walpole's Letters, vi. 299.

[450] Savage died on Aug. 1, 1743, so that this letter is misplaced.

[451] The Plain Dealer was published in 1724, and contained some account of Savage. BOSWELL.

[452] In the Gent. Mag. for Sept. 1743 (p. 490) there is an epitaph on R——d S——e, Esq., which may perhaps be this inscription. 'His life was want,' this epitaph declares. It is certainly not the Runick Inscription in the number for March 1742, as Malone suggests; for the earliest possible date of this letter is seventeen months later.

[453] I have not discovered what this was. BOSWELL.

[454] The Mag.-Extraordinary is perhaps the Supplement to the December number of each year.

[455] This essay contains one sentiment eminently Johnsonian. The writer had shown how patiently Confucius endured extreme indigence. He adds:—'This constancy cannot raise our admiration after his former conquest of himself; for how easily may he support pain who has been able to resist pleasure.' Gent. Mag. xii. 355.

[456] In this Preface there is a complaint that has been often repeated—'All kinds of learning have given way to politicks.'

[457] In the Life of Pope (Johnson's Works, viii. 287) Johnson says that Crousaz, 'however little known or regarded here, was no mean antagonist'

[458] It is not easy to believe that Boswell had read this essay, for there is nothing metaphysical in what Johnson wrote. Two-thirds of the paper are a translation from Crousaz. Boswell does not seem to have distinguished between Crousaz's writings and Johnson's. We have here a striking instance of the way in which Cave sometimes treated his readers. One-third of this essay is given in the number for March, the rest in the number for November.


Angliacas inter pulcherrima Laura puellas, Mox uteri pondus depositura grave, Adsit, Laura, tibi facilis Lucina dolenti, Neve tibi noceat praenituisse Deae.

Mr. Hector was present when this Epigram was made impromptu. The first line was proposed by Dr. James, and Johnson was called upon by the company to finish it, which he instantly did. BOSWELL. Macaulay (Essays, i. 364) criticises Mr. Croker's criticism of this epigram.

[460] The lines with which this poem is introduced seem to show that it cannot be Johnson's. He was not the man to allow that haste of performance was any plea for indulgence. They are as follows:—'Though several translations of Mr. Pope's verses on his Grotto have already appeared, we hope that the following attempt, which, we are assured, was the casual amusement of half an hour during several solicitations to proceed, will neither be unacceptable to our readers, nor (these circumstances considered) dishonour the persons concerned by a hasty publication.' Gent. Mag. xiii. 550.

[461] See Gent. Mag. xiii. 560. I doubt whether this advertisement be from Johnson's hand. It is very unlikely that he should make the advertiser in one and the same paragraph when speaking of himself use us and mine. Boswell does not mention the Preface to vol. iii. of the Harkian Catalogue. It is included in Johnson's Works (v. 198). Its author, be he who he may, in speaking of literature, says:—'I have idly hoped to revive a taste well-nigh extinguished.'

[462] Johnson did not speak equally well of Dr. James's morals. 'He will not,' he wrote, 'pay for three box tickets which he took. It is a strange fellow.' The tickets were no doubt for Miss Williams's benefit (Croker's Boswell, 8vo. p. 101). See ante, p. 81, and post, March 28, 1776, end of 1780, note.

[463] See post, April 5, 1776.

[464] 'TO DR. MEAD.


'That the Medicinal Dictionary is dedicated to you, is to be imputed only to your reputation for superior skill in those sciences which I have endeavoured to explain and facilitate: and you are, therefore, to consider this address, if it be agreeable to you, as one of the rewards of merit; and if, otherwise, as one of the inconveniences of eminence.

'However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed; because this publick appeal to your judgement will shew that I do not found my hopes of approbation upon the ignorance of my readers, and that I fear his censure least, whose knowledge is most extensive.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most obedient

'humble servant,


BOSWELL. See post, May 16, 1778, where Johnson said, 'Dr. Mead lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man.'

[465] Johnson was used to speak of him in this manner:—'Tom is a lively rogue; he remembers a great deal, and can tell many pleasant stories; but a pen is to Tom a torpedo, the touch of it benumbs his hand and his brain.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 209. Goldsmith in his Life of Nash (Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 54) says:—'Nash was not born a writer, for whatever humour he might have in conversation, he used to call a pen his torpedo; whenever he grasped it, it benumbed all his faculties.' It is very likely that Nash borrowed this saying from Johnson. In Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 24, 1773, we read:—Dr. Birch being mentioned, Dr. Johnson said he had more anecdotes than any man. I said, Percy had a great many; that he flowed with them like one of the brooks here. JOHNSON. "If Percy is like one of the brooks here, Birch was like the River Thames. Birch excelled Percy in that as much as Percy excels Goldsmith." Disraeli (Curiosities of Literature, iii, 425) describes Dr. Birch as 'one to whom British history stands more indebted than to any superior author. He has enriched the British Museum by thousands of the most authentic documents of genuine secret history.'

[466] Ante, p. 140.

[467] In 1761 Mr. John Levett was returned for Lichfield, but on petition was declared to be not duly elected (Parl. Hist. xv. 1088). Perhaps he was already aiming at public life.

[468] One explanation may be found of Johnson's intimacy with Savage and with other men of loose character. 'He was,' writes Hawkins, 'one of the most quick-sighted men I ever knew in discovering the good and amiable qualities of others' (Hawkins's Johnson, p. 50). 'He was,' says Boswell (post, April 13, 1778), 'willing to take men as they are, imperfect, and with a mixture of good and bad qualities.' How intimate the two men were is shown by the following passage in Johnson's Life of Savage:—'Savage left London in July, 1739, having taken leave with great tenderness of his friends, and parted from the author of this narrative with tears in his eyes.' Johnson's Works, viii. 173.

[469] As a specimen of his temper, I insert the following letter from him to a noble Lord, to whom he was under great obligations, but who, on account of his bad conduct, was obliged to discard him. The original was in the hands of the late Francis Cockayne Cust, Esq., one of His Majesty's Counsel learned in the law:

'Right Honourable BRUTE, and BOOBY,

'I find you want (as Mr. —— is pleased to hint,) to swear away my life, that is, the life of your creditor, because he asks you for a debt.—The publick shall soon be acquainted with this, to judge whether you are not fitter to be an Irish Evidence, than to be an Irish Peer.—I defy and despise you.

'I am,

'Your determined adversary,

'R. S.'

BOSWELL. The noble Lord was no doubt Lord Tyrconnel. See Johnson's Works, viii. 140. Mr. Cust is mentioned post, p. 170.

[470] 'Savage took all opportunities of conversing familiarly with those who were most conspicuous at that time for their power or their influence; he watched their looser moments, and examined their domestic behaviour with that acuteness which nature had given him, and which the uncommon variety of his life had contributed to increase, and that inquisitiveness which must always be produced in a vigorous mind by an absolute freedom from all pressing or domestic engagements.' Johnson's Works, viii. 135.

[471] 'Thus he spent his time in mean expedients and tormenting suspense, living for the greatest part in the fear of prosecutions from his creditors, and consequently skulking in obscure parts of the town, of which he was no stranger to the remotest corners.' Ib. p. 165.

[472] Sir John Hawkins gives the world to understand, that Johnson, 'being an admirer of genteel manners, was captivated by the address and demeanour of Savage, who, as to his exterior, was, to a remarkable degree, accomplished.' Hawkins's Life, p. 52. But Sir John's notions of gentility must appear somewhat ludicrous, from his stating the following circumstance as presumptive evidence that Savage was a good swordsman: 'That he understood the exercise of a gentleman's weapon, may be inferred from the use made of it in that rash encounter which is related in his life.' The dexterity here alluded to was, that Savage, in a nocturnal fit of drunkenness, stabbed a man at a coffee-house, and killed him; for which he was tried at the Old-Bailey, and found guilty of murder.

Johnson, indeed, describes him as having 'a grave and manly deportment, a solemn dignity of mien; but which, upon a nearer acquaintance, softened into an engaging easiness of manners.' [Johnson's Works, viii. 187.] How highly Johnson admired him for that knowledge which he himself so much cultivated, and what kindness he entertained for him, appears from the following lines in the Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1738, which I am assured were written by Johnson:


'Humani studium generis cui pectore fervet O colat humanum te foveatque genus.'

BOSWELL. The epigram is inscribed Ad Ricardum Savage, Arm. Humani Generis Amatorem. Gent. Mag. viii. 210.

[473] The following striking proof of Johnson's extreme indigence, when he published the Life of Savage, was communicated to the author, by Mr. Richard Stow, of Apsley, in Bedfordshire, from the information of Mr. Walter Harte, author of the Life of Gustavus Adolphus:

'Soon after Savage's Life was published, Mr. Harte dined with Edward Cave, and occasionally praised it. Soon after, meeting him, Cave said, 'You made a man very happy t'other day.'—'How could that be,' says Harte; 'nobody was there but ourselves.' Cave answered, by reminding him that a plate of victuals was sent behind a screen, which was to Johnson, dressed so shabbily, that he did not choose to appear; but on hearing the conversation, was highly delighted with the encomiums on his book.' MALONE. 'He desired much to be alone, yet he always loved good talk, and often would get behind the screen to hear it.' Great-Heart's account of Fearing; Pilgrim's Progress, Part II. Harte was tutor to Lord Chesterfield's son. See post, 1770, in Dr. Maxwell's Collectanea, and March 30, 1781.

[474] 'Johnson has told me that whole nights have been spent by him and Savage in a perambulation round the squares of Westminster, St. James's in particular, when all the money they could both raise was less than sufficient to purchase for them the shelter and sordid comforts of a night's cellar.' Hawkins's Johnson, P. 53. Where was Mrs. Johnson living at this time? This perhaps was the time of which Johnson wrote, when, after telling of a silver cup which his mother had bought him, and marked SAM. I., he says:—'The cup was one of the last pieces of plate which dear Tetty sold in our distress.' Account of Johnson's Early Life, p. 18. Yet it is not easy to understand how, if there was a lodging for her, there was not one for him. She might have been living with friends. We have a statement by Hawkins (p. 89) that there was 'a temporary separation of Johnson from his wife.' He adds that, 'while he was in a lodging in Fleet Street, she was harboured by a friend near the Tower.' This separation, he insinuates, rose by an estrangement caused by Johnson's 'indifference in the discharge of the domestic virtues.' It is far more likely that it rose from destitution.

Shenstone, in a letter written in 1743, gives a curious account of the streets of London through which Johnson wandered. He says;—'London is really dangerous at this time; the pickpockets, formerly content with mere filching, make no scruple to knock people down with bludgeons in Fleet Street and the Strand, and that at no later hour than eight o'clock at night; but in the Piazzas, Covent Garden, they come in large bodies, armed with couteaus, and attack whole parties, so that the danger of coming out of the play-houses is of some weight in the opposite scale, when I am disposed to go to them oftener than I ought.' Shenstone's Works (edit.), iii. 73.

[475] 'Savage lodged as much by accident as he dined, and passed the night sometimes in mean houses, ... and sometimes, when he had not money to support even the expenses of these receptacles, walked about the streets till he was weary, and lay down in the summer upon a bulk, or in the winter, with his associates in poverty, among the ashes of a glass-house. In this manner were passed those days and those nights which nature had enabled him to have employed in elevated speculations, useful studies, or pleasing conversation.' Johnson's Works, viii. 159.

[476] See ante, p. 94.

[477] Cave was the purchaser of the copyright, and the following is a copy of Johnson's receipt for the money:—'The 14th day of December, received of Mr. Ed. Cave the sum of fifteen guineas, in full, for compiling and writing The Life of Richard Savage, Esq., deceased; and in full for all materials thereto applied, and not found by the said Edward Cave. I say, received by me, SAM. JOHNSON. Dec. 14, 1743.' WRIGHT. The title-page is as follows:—'An account of the Life of Mr. Richard Savage, son of the Earl Rivers. London. Printed for J. Roberts, in Warwick-Lane. MDCCXLIV. It reached a second edition in 1748, a third in 1767, and a fourth in 1769. A French translation was published in 1771.

[478] Roberts published in 1745 Johnson's Observations on Macbeth. See Gent. Mag. xv. 112, 224.

[479] Horace, Ars Poetica l. 317.

[480] In the autumn of 1752. Northcote's Reynolds i. 52

[481] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd ed. p. 35 [p. 55. Aug. 19, 1773]. BOSWELL.

[482] 'mint of ecstasy:' Savage's Works (1777), ii. 91.

[483] 'He lives to build, not boast a generous race: No tenth transmitter of a foolish face.' Ib.

[484] 'The Bastard: A poem, inscribed with all due reverence to Mrs. Bret, once Countess of Macclesfield. By Richard Savage, son of the late Earl Rivers. London, printed for T. Worrall, 1728.' Fol. first edition. P. CUNNINGHAM. Between Savage's character, as drawn by Johnson, and Johnson himself there are many points of likeness. Each 'always preserved a steady confidence in his own capacity,' and of each it might be said:—'Whatever faults may be imputed to him, the virtue of suffering well cannot be denied him.' Each 'excelled in the arts of conversation and therefore willingly practised them.' In Savage's refusal to enter a house till some clothes had been taken away that had been left for him 'with some neglect of ceremonies,' we have the counterpart of Johnson's throwing away the new pair of shoes that had been set at his door. Of Johnson the following lines are as true as of Savage:—'His distresses, however afflictive, never dejected him; in his lowest state he wanted not spirit to assert the natural dignity of wit, and was always ready to repress that insolence which the superiority of fortune incited; ... he never admitted any gross familiarities, or submitted to be treated otherwise than as an equal.' Of both men it might be said that 'it was in no time of his life any part of his character to be the first of the company that desired to separate.' Each 'would prolong his conversation till midnight, without considering that business might require his friend's application in the morning;' and each could plead the same excuse that, 'when he left his company, he was abandoned to gloomy reflections.' Each had the same 'accurate judgment,' the same 'quick apprehension,' the same 'tenacious memory.' In reading such lines as the following who does not think, not of the man whose biography was written, but of the biographer himself?—'He had the peculiar felicity that his attention never deserted him; he was present to every object, and regardful of the most trifling occurrences ... To this quality is to be imputed the extent of his knowledge, compared with the small time which he spent in visible endeavours to acquire it. He mingled in cursory conversation with the same steadiness of attention as others apply to a lecture.... His judgment was eminently exact both with regard to writings and to men. The knowledge of life was indeed his chief attainment.' Of Johnson's London, as of Savage's The Wanderer, it might equally well be said:—'Nor can it without some degree of indignation and concern be told that he sold the copy for ten guineas.'

[485] 'Savage was now again abandoned to fortune without any other friend than Mr. Wilks; a man who, whatever were his abilities or skill as an actor, deserves at least to be remembered for his virtues, which are not often to be found in the world, and perhaps less often in his profession than in others. To be humane, generous, and candid is a very high degree of merit in any case, but those qualities deserve still greater praise when they are found in that condition which makes almost every other man, for whatever reason, contemptuous, insolent, petulant, selfish, and brutal.' Johnson's Works, viii. 107.

[486] In his old age he wrote as he had written in the vigour of his manhood:—'To the censure of Collier ... he [Dryden] makes little reply; being at the age of sixty-eight attentive to better things than the claps of a play-house.' Johnson's Works vii. 295. See post, April 29, 1773, and Sept. 21, 1777.

[487] Johnson, writing of the latter half of the seventeenth century, says:—'The playhouse was abhorred by the Puritans, and avoided by those who desired the character of seriousness or decency. A grave lawyer would have debased his dignity, and a young trader would have impaired his credit, by appearing in those mansions of dissolute licentiousness.' Johnson's Works, vii. 270. The following lines in Churchill's Apology (Poems, i. 65), published in 1761, shew how strong, even at that time, was the feeling against strolling players:—

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse