Life Of Johnson, Vol. 1
by Boswell
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'The strolling tribe, a despicable race, Like wand'ring Arabs shift from place to place. Vagrants by law, to Justice open laid, They tremble, of the beadle's lash afraid, And fawning cringe, for wretched means of life, To Madam May'ress, or his Worship's Wife.'

[488] Johnson himself recognises the change in the public estimation:—'In Dryden's time,' he writes, 'the drama was very far from that universal approbation which it has now obtained.' Works, vii. 270.

[489] Giffard was the manager of the theatre in Goodman's Fields, where Garrick, on Oct. 19, 1741, made his first appearance before a London audience. Murphy's Garrick, pp. 13, 16.

[490] 'Colonel Pennington said, Garrick sometimes failed in emphasis; as, for instance, in Hamlet,

"I will speak daggers to her; but use none;"

instead of

"I will speak daggers to her; but use none."'

Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 28, 1773.

[491] I suspect Dr. Taylor was inaccurate in this statement. The emphasis should be equally upon shalt and not, as both concur to form the negative injunction; and false witness, like the other acts prohibited in the Decalogue, should not be marked by any peculiar emphasis, but only be distinctly enunciated. BOSWELL.

[492] This character of the Life of Savage was not written by Fielding as has been supposed, but most probably by Ralph, who, as appears from the minutes of the partners of The Champion, in the possession of Mr. Reed of Staple Inn, succeeded Fielding in his share of the paper, before the date of that eulogium. BOSWELL. Ralph is mentioned in The Dunciad, iii. 165. A curious account of him is given in Benjamin Franklin's Memoirs, i. 54-87 and 245.

[493] The late Francis Cockayne Cust, Esq., one of his Majesty's Counsel. BOSWELL.

[494] Savage's veracity was questioned, but with little reason; his accounts, though not indeed always the same, were generally consistent. 'When he loved any man, he suppressed all his faults: and, when he had been offended by him, concealed all his virtues: but his characters were generally true so far as he proceeded; though it cannot be denied that his partiality might have sometimes the effect of falsehood.' Johnson's Works, viii. 190.

[495] 1697. BOSWELL.

[496] Johnson's Works, viii. 98.

[497] The story on which Mr. Cust so much relies, that Savage was a supposititious child, not the son of Lord Rivers and Lady Macclesfield, but the offspring of a shoemaker, introduced in consequence of her real son's death, was, without doubt, grounded on the circumstance of Lady Macclesfield having, in 1696, previously to the birth of Savage, had a daughter by the Earl Rivers, who died in her infancy; a fact which was proved in the course of the proceedings on Lord Macclesfield's Bill of Divorce. Most fictions of this kind have some admixture of truth in them. MALONE. From The Earl of Macclesfield's Case, it appears that 'Anne, Countess of Macclesfield, under the name of Madam Smith, in Fox Court, near Brook Street, Holborn, was delivered of a male child on the 16th of January, 1696-7, who was baptized on the Monday following, the 18th, and registered by the name of Richard, the son of John Smith, by Mr. Burbridge; and, from the privacy, was supposed by Mr. Burbridge to be "a by-blow or bastard."' It also appears, that during her delivery, the lady wore a mask; and that Mary Pegler, on the next day after the baptism, took a male child, whose mother was called Madam Smith, from the house of Mrs. Pheasant, in Fox Court [running from Brook Street in Gray's Inn Lane], who went by the name of Mrs. Lee.

Conformable to this statement is the entry in the register of St. Andrew's, Holborn, which is as follows, and which unquestionably records the baptism of Richard Savage, to whom Lord Rivers gave his own Christian name, prefixed to the assumed surname of his mother:—'Jan. 1696-7. Richard, son of John Smith and Mary, in Fox Court, in Gray's Inn Lane, baptized the 18th.' BINDLEY. According to Johnson's account Savage did not learn who his parents were till the death of his nurse, who had always treated him as her son. Among her papers he found some letters written by Lady Macclesfield's mother proving his origin. Johnson's Works, viii. 102. Why these letters were not laid before the public is not stated. Johnson was one of the least credulous of men, and he was convinced by Savage's story. Horace Walpole, too, does not seem to have doubted it. Walpole's Letters, i. cv.

[498] Johnson's Works, viii. 97.

[499] Ib. p. 142.

[500] Johnson's Works, p. 101.

[501] According to Johnson's account (Johnson's Works, viii. 102), the shoemaker under whom Savage was placed on trial as an apprentice was not the husband of his nurse.

[502] He was in his tenth year when she died. 'He had none to prosecute his claim, to shelter him from oppression, or call in law to the assistance of justice.' Ib. p. 99.

[503] Johnson's companion appears to have persuaded that lofty-minded man, that he resembled him in having a noble pride; for Johnson, after painting in strong colours the quarrel between Lord Tyrconnel and Savage, asserts that 'the spirit of Mr. Savage, indeed, never suffered him to solicit a reconciliation: he returned reproach for reproach, and insult for insult.' [Ib. p. 141.] But the respectable gentleman to whom I have alluded, has in his possession a letter, from Savage, after Lord Tyrconnel had discarded him, addressed to the Reverend Mr. Gilbert, his Lordship's Chaplain, in which he requests him, in the humblest manner, to represent his case to the Viscount. BOSWELL.

[504] 'How loved, how honoured once avails thee not, To whom related, or by whom begot.'

POPE'S Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady.

[505] Trusting to Savage's information, Johnson represents this unhappy man's being received as a companion by Lord Tyrconnel, and pensioned by his Lordship, as if posteriour to Savage's conviction and pardon. But I am assured, that Savage had received the voluntary bounty of Lord Tyrconnel, and had been dismissed by him, long before the murder was committed, and that his Lordship was very instrumental in procuring Savage's pardon, by his intercession with the Queen, through Lady Hertford. If, therefore, he had been desirous of preventing the publication by Savage, he would have left him to his fate. Indeed I must observe, that although Johnson mentions that Lord Tyrconnel's patronage of Savage was 'upon his promise to lay aside his design of exposing the cruelty of his mother,' [Johnson's Works, viii. 124], the great biographer has forgotten that he himself has mentioned, that Savage's story had been told several years before in The Plain Dealer; from which he quotes this strong saying of the generous Sir Richard Steele, that 'the inhumanity of his mother had given him a right to find every good man his father.' [Ib. p. 104.] At the same time it must be acknowledged, that Lady Macclesfield and her relations might still wish that her story should not be brought into more conspicuous notice by the satirical pen of Savage. BOSWELL.

[506] According to Johnson, she was at Bath when Savage's poem of The Bastard was published. 'She could not,' he wrote, 'enter the assembly-rooms or cross the walks without being saluted with some lines from The Bastard. This was perhaps the first time that she ever discovered a sense of shame, and on this occasion the power of wit was very conspicuous; the wretch who had without scruple proclaimed herself an adulteress, and who had first endeavoured to starve her son, then to transport him, and afterwards to hang him, was not able to bear the representation of her own conduct; but fled from reproach, though she felt no pain from guilt, and left Bath with the utmost haste to shelter herself among the crowds of London.' Johnson's Works, viii. 141.

[507] Miss Mason, after having forfeited the title of Lady Macclesfield by divorce, was married to Colonel Brett, and, it is said, was well known in all the polite circles. Colley Cibber, I am informed, had so high an opinion of her taste and judgement as to genteel life, and manners, that he submitted every scene of his Careless Husband to Mrs. Brett's revisal and correction. Colonel Brett was reported to be too free in his gallantry with his Lady's maid. Mrs. Brett came into a room one day in her own house, and found the Colonel and her maid both fast asleep in two chairs. She tied a white handkerchief round her husband's neck, which was a sufficient proof that she had discovered his intrigue; but she never at any time took notice of it to him. This incident, as I am told, gave occasion to the well-wrought scene of Sir Charles and Lady Easy and Edging. BOSWELL. Lady Macclesfield died 1753, aged above 80. Her eldest daughter, by Col. Brett, was, for the few last months of his life, the mistress of George I, (Walpole's Reminiscences, cv.) Her marriage ten years after her royal lover's death is thus announced in the Gent. Mag., 1737:—'Sept. 17. Sir W. Leman, of Northall, Bart., to Miss Brett [Britt] of Bond Street, an heiress;' and again next month—'Oct. 8. Sir William Leman, of Northall, Baronet, to Miss Brett, half sister to Mr. Savage, son to the late Earl Rivers;' for the difference of date I know not how to account; but the second insertion was, no doubt, made by Savage to countenance his own pretensions. CROKER.

[508] 'Among the names of subscribers to the Harleian Miscellany there occurs that of "Sarah Johnson, bookseller in Lichfield."' Johnsoniana, p. 466.

[509] A brief account of Oldys is given in the Gent. Mag. liv. 161, 260. Like so many of his fellows he was thrown into the Fleet. 'After poor Oldys's release, such was his affection for the place that he constantly spent his evenings there.'

[510] In the Feb. number of the Gent. Mag. for this year (p. 112) is the following advertisement:—'Speedily will be published (price 1s.) Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, with remarks on Sir T.H.'s edition of Shakespear; to which is affix'd proposals for a new edition of Shakespear, with a specimen. Printed for J. Roberts in Warwick Lane.' In the March number (p. 114), under the date of March 31, it is announced that it will be published on April 6. In spite of the two advertisements, and the title-page which agrees with the advertisements, I believe that the Proposals were not published till eleven years later (see post, end of 1756). I cannot hear of any copy of the Miscellaneous Observations which contains them. The advertisement is a third time repeated in the April number of the Gent. Mag. for 1745 (p. 224), but the Proposals are not this time mentioned. Tom Davies the bookseller gives 1756 as the date of their publication (Misc. and Fugitive Pieces, ii. 87). Perhaps Johnson or the booksellers were discouraged by Hanmer's Shakespeare as well as by Warburton's. Johnson at the end of the Miscellaneous Observations says:—'After the foregoing pages were printed, the late edition of Shakespeare ascribed to Sir T. H. fell into my hands.'

[511] 'The excellence of the edition proved to be by no means proportionate to the arrogance of the editor.' Cambridge Shakespeare, i. xxxiv.

[512] 'When you see Mr. Johnson pray [give] my compliments, and tell him I esteem him as a great genius—quite lost both to himself and the world.' Gilbert Walmesley to Garrick, Nov. 3, 1746. Garrick Correspondence, i. 45. Mr. Walmesley's letter does not shew that Johnson was idle. The old man had expected great things from him. 'I have great hopes,' he had written in 1737 (see ante, p. 102), 'that he will turn out a fine tragedy writer.' In the nine years in which Johnson had been in town he had done, no doubt, much admirable work; but by his poem of London only was he known to the public. His Life of Savage did not bear his name. His Observations on Macbeth were published in April, 1745; his Plan of the Dictionary in 1747 [Transcriber's note: Originally 1774, corrected in Errata.]. What was Johnson doing meanwhile? Boswell conjectures that he was engaged on his Shakespeare and his Dictionary. That he went on working at his Shakespeare when the prospect of publishing was so remote that he could not issue his proposals is very unlikely. That he had been for some time engaged on his Dictionary before he addressed Lord Chesterfield is shewn by the opening sentences of the Plan. Mr. Croker's conjecture that he was absent or concealed on account of some difficulties which had arisen through the rebellion of 1745 is absurd. At no time of his life had he been an ardent Jacobite. 'I have heard him declare,' writes Boswell, 'that if holding up his right hand would have secured victory at Culloden to Prince Charles's army, he was not sure he would have held it up;' post, July 14, 1763. 'He had never in his life been in a nonjuring meeting-house;' post, June 9, 1784.

For the fact that he wrote very little, if indeed anything, in the Gent. Mag. during these years more than one reason may be given. In the first place, public affairs take up an unusual amount of room in its columns. Thus in the number for Dec. 1745 we read:—'Our readers being too much alarmed by the present rebellion to relish with their usual delight the Debates in the Senate of Lilliput we shall postpone them for a season, that we may be able to furnish out a fuller entertainment of what we find to be more suitable to their present taste.' In the Preface it is stated:—'We have sold more of our books than we desire for several months past, and are heartily sorry for the occasion of it, the present troubles.' During these years then much less space was given to literature. But besides this, Johnson likely enough refused to write for the Magazine when it shewed itself strongly Hanoverian. He would highly disapprove of A New Protestant Litany, which was written after the following fashion:—

'May Spaniards, or French, all who join with a Highland, In disturbing the peace of this our bless'd island, Meet tempests on sea and halters on dry land. We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.'

Gent. Mag. xv. 551.

He would be disgusted the following year at seeing the Duke of Cumberland praised as 'the greatest man alive' (Gent. Mag. xvi. 235), and sung in verse that would have almost disgraced Cibber (p. 36). It is remarkable that there is no mention of Johnson's Plan of a Dictionary in the Magazine. Perhaps some coolness had risen between him and Cave.

[513] Boswell proceeds to mention six.

[514] In Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies, in which this paraphrase is inserted, it is stated that the Latin epitaph was written by Dr. Freind. I do not think that the English version is by Johnson. I should be sorry to ascribe to him such lines as:—

'Illustrious age! how bright thy glories shone, When Hanmer filled the chair—and Anne the throne.'

[515] In the Observations, Johnson, writing of Hanmer, says:—'Surely the weapons of criticism ought not to be blunted against an editor who can imagine that he is restoring poetry while he is amusing himself with alterations like these:—

For,—This is the sergeant Who like a good and hardy soldier fought; —This is the sergeant who Like a right good and hardy soldier fought.

Such harmless industry may surely be forgiven, if it cannot be praised; may he therefore never want a monosyllable who can use it with such wonderful dexterity.' Johnson's Works, v. 93. In his Preface to Shakespeare published eighteen years later, he describes Hanmer as 'A man, in my opinion, eminently qualified by nature for such studies.' Ib. p. 139. The editors of the Cambridge Shakespeare (i. xxxii) thus write of Hanmer:—

'A country gentleman of great ingenuity and lively fancy, but with no knowledge of older literature, no taste for research, and no ear for the rhythm of earlier English verse, amused his leisure hours by scribbling down his own and his friend's guesses in Pope's Shakespeare.'

[516] In the Universal Visiter, to which Johnson contributed, the mark which is affixed to some pieces unquestionably his, is also found subjoined to others, of which he certainly was not the author. The mark therefore will not ascertain the poems in question to have been written by him. They were probably the productions of Hawkesworth, who, it is believed, was afflicted with the gout. MALONE.

It is most unlikely that Johnson wrote such poor poems as these. I shall not easily be persuaded that the following lines are his:—

'Love warbles in the vocal groves, And vegetation paints the plain.'

'And love and hate alike implore The skies—"That Stella mourn no more."'

'The Winter's Walk' has two good lines, but these may have been supplied by Johnson. The lines to 'Lyce, an elderly Lady,' would, if written by him, have been taken as a satire on his wife.

[517] See post under Sept. 18, 1783.

[518] See Johnson's Works, vii. 4, 34.

[519] Boswell italicises conceits to shew that he is using it in the sense in which Johnson uses it in his criticism of Cowley:—'These conceits Addison calls mixed wit; that is, wit which consists of thoughts true in one sense of the expression and false in the other.' Ib. vii 35.

[520] Namby Pamby was the name given to Ambrose Philips by Pope Ib. viii. 395

[521] Malone most likely is meant. Mr. Croker says:—'Johnson has "indifferently" in the sense of "without concern" in his Dictionary, with this example from Shakespeare, "And I will look on death indifferently."' Johnson however here defines indifferently as in a neutral state; without wish or aversion; which is not the same as without concern. The passage, which is from Julius Caesar, i. 2, is not correctly given. It is—

'Set honour in one eye and death i' the other And I will look on both indifferently.'

We may compare Johnson's use of indifferent in his Letter to Chesterfield, post, Feb. 7, 1755:—'The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours ... has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it.'

[522] 'Radcliffe, when quite a boy, had been engaged in the rebellion of 1715, and being attainted had escaped from Newgate.... During the insurrection [of 1745], having been captured on board a French vessel bound for Scotland, he was arraigned on his original sentence which had slumbered so long. The only trial now conceded to him was confined to his identity. For such a course there was no precedent, except in the case of Sir Walter Raleigh, which had brought shame upon the reign of James I.' Campbell's Chancellors (edit. 1846), v. 108. Campbell adds, 'his execution, I think, reflects great disgrace upon Lord Hardwicke [the Lord Chancellor].'

[523] In the original end.

[524] "These verses are somewhat too severe on the extraordinary person who is the chief figure in them, for he was undoubtedly brave. His pleasantry during his solemn trial (in which, by the way, I have heard Mr. David Hume observe, that we have one of the very few speeches of Mr. Murray, now Earl of Mansfield, authentically given) was very remarkable. When asked if he had any questions to put to Sir Everard Fawkener, who was one of the strongest witnesses against him, he answered, 'I only wish him joy of his young wife.' And after sentence of death, in the horrible terms in cases of treason, was pronounced upon him, and he was retiring from the bar, he said, 'Fare you well, my Lords, we shall not all meet again in one place.' He behaved with perfect composure at his execution, and called out 'Dulce et decorum est pro patri mori?'

'What joys, what glories round him wait, Who bravely for his country dies!"

FRANCIS. Horace, Odes, iii.2. 13.


'Old Lovat was beheaded yesterday,' wrote Horace Walpole on April 10, 1747, 'and died extremely well: without passion, affectation, buffoonery, or timidity; his behaviour was natural and intrepid.' Letters, ii. 77.

[525] See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[526] My friend, Mr. Courtenay, whose eulogy on Johnson's Latin Poetry has been inserted in this Work [ante, p. 62], is no less happy in praising his English Poetry.

But hark, he sings! the strain ev'n 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.


[527] The play is by Ambrose Philips. 'It was concluded with the most successful Epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play; but, whenever it is recalled to the stage, where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the French, it yet keeps its place, the Epilogue is still expected, and is still spoken.' Johnson's Works, viii. 389. See post, April 21, 1773, note on Eustace Budgel. The Epilogue is given in vol. v. p. 228 of Bonn's Addison, and the great success that it met with is described in The Spectator, No. 341.

[528] Such poor stuff as the following is certainly not by Johnson:—

'Let musick sound the voice of joy! Or mirth repeat the jocund tale; Let Love his wanton wiles employ, And o'er the season wine prevail.'

[529] 'Dodsley first mentioned to me the scheme of an English Dictionary; but I had long thought of it.' Post, Oct. 10, 1779.

[530] It would seem from the passage to which Boswell refers that Pope had wished that Johnson should undertake the Dictionary. Johnson, in mentioning Pope, says:—'Of whom I may be justified in affirming that were he still alive, solicitous as he was for the success of this work, he would not be displeased that I have undertaken it.' Works, v. 20. As Pope died on May 30, 1744, this renders it likely that the work was begun earlier than Boswell thought.

[531] In the title-page of the first edition after the name of Hirch comes that of L. Hawes.

[532] 'During the progress of the work he had received at different times the amount of his contract; and when his receipts were produced to him at a tavern-dinner given by the booksellers, it appeared that he had been paid a hundred pounds and upwards more than his due.' Murphy's Johnson. p. 78. See post, beginning of 1756.

[533] 'The truth is, that the several situations which I have been in having made me long the plastron [butt] of dedications, I am become as callous to flattery as some people are to abuse.' Lord Chesterfield, date of Dec. 15, 1755; Chesterfield's Misc. Works, iv. 266.

[534] September 22, 1777, going from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, to see Islam. BOSWELL.

[535] Boswell here says too much, as the following passages in the Plan prove:—'Who upon this survey can forbear to wish that these fundamental atoms of our speech might obtain the firmness and immutability of the primogenial and constituent particles of matter?' 'Those translators who, for want of understanding the characteristical difference of tongues, have formed a chaotick dialect of heterogeneous phrases;' 'In one part refinement will be subtilised beyond exactness, and evidence dilated in another beyond perspicuity.' Johnson's Works, v. 12, 21, 22.

[536] Ausonius, Epigram i. 12.

[537] Whitehead in 1757 succeeded Colley Cibber as poet-laureate, and dying in 1785 was followed by Thomas Warton. From Warton the line of succession is Pye, Southey, Wordsworth, Tennyson. See post, under June 13, 1763.

[538] Hawkins (Life, p. 176) likewise says that the manuscript passed through Whitehead and 'other hands' before it reached Chesterfield. Mr. Croker had seen 'a draft of the prospectus carefully written by an amanuensis, but signed in great form by Johnson's own hand. It was evidently that which was laid before Lord Chesterfield. Some useful remarks are made in his lordship's hand, and some in another. Johnson adopted all these suggestions.'

[539] This poor piece of criticism confirms what Johnson said of Lord Orrery:—'He grasped at more than his abilities could reach; tried to pass for a better talker, a better writer, and a better thinker that he was.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22, 1773. See post, under April 7, 1778.

[540] Birch, MSS. Brit. Mus. 4303. BOSWELL.

[541] 'When I survey the Plan which I have laid before you, I cannot, my Lord, but confess that I am frighted at its extent, and, like the soldiers of Csar, look on Britain as a new world, which it is almost madness to invade.' Johnson's Works, v. 21.

[542] There might be applied to him what he said of Pope:—"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. He, indeed, who forms his opinion of himself in solitude without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to error; but it was the felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value." Johnson's Works, viii, 237.

[543] 'For the Teutonick etymologies I am commonly indebted to Junius and Skinner.... Junius appears to have excelled in extent of learning and Skinner in rectitude of understanding.... Skinner is often ignorant, but never ridiculous: Junius is always full of knowledge, but his variety distracts his judgment, and his learning is very frequently disgraced by his absurdities.' Ib. v. 29. Francis Junius the younger was born at Heidelberg in 1589, and died at Windsor, at the house of his nephew Isaac Vossius, in 1678. His Etymologicum Anglicanum was not published till 1743. Stephen Skinner, M.D., was born in 1623, and died in 1667. His Etymologicon Lingu Anglican was published in 1671. Knight's Eng. Cycle.

[544] Thomas Richards published in 1753 Antiqu Lingu Britannic Thesaurus, to which is prefixed a Welsh Grammar and a collection of British proverbs.

[545] See Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson [p. 171], BOSWELL.

[546] 'The faults of the book resolve themselves, for the most part, into one great fault. Johnson was a wretched etymologist.' Macaulay's Misc. Writings, p. 382. See post, May 13, 1778, for mention of Horne Tooke's criticism of Johnson's etymologies.

[547] 'The etymology, so far as it is yet known, was easily found in the volumes where it is particularly and professedly delivered ... But to COLLECT the WORDS of our language was a task of greater difficulty: the deficiency of dictionaries was immediately apparent; and when they were exhausted, what was yet wanting must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions into books, and gleaned as industry should find, or chance should offer it, in the boundless chaos of a living speech.' Johnson's Works, v. 31.

[548] See post, under April 10, 1776. BOSWELL.

[549] 'Mr. Macbean,' said Johnson in 1778, 'is a man of great learning, and for his learning I respect him, and I wish to serve him. He knows many languages, and knows them well; but he knows nothing of life. I advised him to write a geographical dictionary; but I have lost all hopes of his ever doing anything properly, since I found he gave as much labour to Capua as to Rome.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i, 114. See post beginning of 1773, and Oct 24, 1780.

[550] Boswell is speaking of the book published under the name of Cibber mentioned above, but 'entirely compiled,' according to Johnson, by Shiels. See post, April 10, 1776.

[551] See Piozzi Letters, i. 312, and post, May 21, 1775, note.

[552] 'We ourselves, not without labour and risk, lately discovered Gough Square.... and on the second day of search the very House there, wherein the English Dictionary was composed. It is the first or corner house on the right hand, as you enter through the arched way from the North-west ... It is a stout, old-fashioned, oak-balustraded house: "I have spent many a pound and penny on it since then," said the worthy Landlord: "here, you see, this bedroom was the Doctor's study; that was the garden" (a plot of delved ground somewhat larger than a bed-quilt) "where he walked for exercise; these three garret bedrooms" (where his three [six] copyists sat and wrote) "were the place he kept his—pupils in": Tempus edax rerum! Yet ferax also: for our friend now added, with a wistful look, which strove to seem merely historical: "I let it all in lodgings, to respectable gentlemen; by the quarter or the month; it's all one to me."—"To me also," whispered the ghost of Samuel, as we went pensively our ways.' Carlyle's Miscellanies, edit, of 1872, iv. 112.

[553] Boswell's account of the manner in which Johnson compiled his Dictionary is confused and erroneous. He began his task (as he himself expressly described to me), by devoting his first care to a diligent perusal of all such English writers as were most correct in their language, and under every sentence which he meant to quote he drew a line, and noted in the margin the first letter of the word under which it was to occur. He then delivered these books to his clerks, who transcribed each sentence on a separate slip of paper, and arranged the same under the word referred to. By these means he collected the several words and their different significations; and when the whole arrangement was alphabetically formed, he gave the definitions of their meanings, and collected their etymologies from Skinner, Junius, and other writers on the subject. PERCY.

[554] 'The books he used for this purpose were what he had in his own collection, a copious but a miserably ragged one, and all such as he could borrow; which latter, if ever they came back to those that lent them, were so defaced as to be scarce worth owning, and yet some of his friends were glad to receive and entertain them as curiosities.' Hawkins, p. 175.

[555] In the copy that he thus marked of Sir Matthew Hale's Primitive Origination of Mankind, opposite the passage where it is stated, that 'Averroes says that if the world were not eternal ... it could never have been at all, because an eternal duration must necessarily have anteceded the first production of the world,' he has written:—'This argument will hold good equally against the writing that I now write.'

[556] Boswell must mean 'whose writings taken as a whole had a tendency,' &c. Johnson quotes Dryden, and of Dryden he says:—'Of the mind that can trade in corruption, and can deliberately pollute itself with ideal wickedness for the sake of spreading the contagion in society, I wish not to conceal or excuse the depravity. Such degradation of the dignity of genius, such abuse of superlative abilities, cannot be contemplated but with grief and indignation. What consolation can be had Dryden has afforded by living to repent, and to testify his repentance.' Johnson's Works, vii. 293. He quotes Congreve, and of Congreve he says: 'It is acknowledged, with universal conviction, that the perusal of his works will make no man better; and that their ultimate effect is to represent pleasure in alliance with vice, and to relax those obligations by which life ought to be regulated.' Ib. viii. 28. He would not quote Dr. Clarke, much as he admired him, because he was not sound upon the doctrine of the Trinity. Post, Dec., 1784, note.

[557] In the Plan to the Dictionary, written in 1747, he describes his task as one that 'may be successfully performed without any higher quality than that of bearing burdens with dull patience, and beating the track of the alphabet with sluggish resolution.' Works, v. 1. In 1751, in the Rambler, No. 141, he thus pleasantly touches on his work: 'The task of every other slave [except the 'wit'] has an end. The rower in time reaches the port; the lexicographer at last finds the conclusion of his alphabet.' On April 15, 1755, he writes to his friend Hector:—'I wish, come of wishes what will, that my work may please you, as much as it now and then pleased me, for I did not find dictionary making so very unpleasant as it may be thought.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. 111, 301. He told Dr. Blacklock that 'it was easier to him to write poetry than to compose his Dictionary. His mind was less on the stretch in doing the one than the other.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 17, 1773.

[558] The well-known picture of the company at Tunbridge Wells in Aug. 1748, with the references in Richardson's own writing, is given as a frontispiece to vol. iii. of Richardson's Correspondence. There can be no doubt that the figure marked by Richardson as Dr. Johnson is not Samuel Johnson, who did not receive a doctor's degree till more than four years after Richardson's death.

[559] 'Johnson hardly ever spoke of Bathurst without tears in his eyes.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 56. Mrs. Piozzi, after recording an anecdote that he had related to her of his childhood, continues:—'"I cannot imagine," said he, "what makes me talk of myself to you so, for I really never mentioned this foolish story to anybody except Dr. Taylor, not even to my dear, dear Bathurst, whom I loved better than ever I loved any human creature; but poor Bathurst is dead!" Here a long pause and a few tears ensued.' Piozzi's Anec., p. 18. Another day he said to her:—'Dear Bathurst was a man to my very heart's content: he hated a fool, and he hated a rogue, and he hated a Whig; he was a very good hater.' Ib. p. 83. In his Meditations on Easter-Day, 1764, he records:—'After sermon I recommended Tetty in a prayer by herself; and my father, mother, brother, and Bathurst in another.' Pr. and Med., p. 54. See also post, under March 18, 1752, and 1780 in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[560] Of Hawkesworth Johnson thus wrote: 'An account of Dr. Swift has been already collected, with great diligence and acuteness, by Dr. Hawkesworth, according to a scheme which I laid before him in the intimacy of our friendship. I cannot therefore be expected to say much of a life concerning which I had long since communicated my thoughts to a man capable of dignifying his narrations with so much elegance of language and force of sentiment.' Johnson's Works, viii. 192. Hawkesworth was an imitator of Johnson's style; post, under Jan. 1, 1753.

[561] He was afterwards for several years Chairman of the Middlesex justices, and upon occasion of presenting an address to the King, accepted the usual offer of Knighthood. He is authour of 'A History of Musick,' in five volumes in quarto. By assiduous attendance upon Johnson in his last illness, he obtained the office of one of his executors; in consequence of which, the booksellers of London employed him to publish an edition of Dr. Johnson's works, and to write his Life. BOSWELL. This description of Hawkins, as 'Mr. John Hawkins, an attorney,' is a reply to his description of Boswell as 'Mr. James Boswell, a native of Scotland.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 472. According to Miss Hawkins, 'Boswell complained to her father of the manner in which he was described. Where was the offence? It was one of those which a complainant hardly dares to embody in words; he would only repeat, "Well, but Mr. James Boswell, surely, surely, Mr. James Boswell"' Miss Hawkins's Memoirs, i. 235. Boswell in thus styling Hawkins remembered no doubt Johnson's sarcasm against attorneys. See post, 1770, in Dr. Maxwell's Collectanea. Hawkins's edition of Johnson's Works was published in 1787-9, in 13 vols., 8vo., the last two vols. being edited by Stockdale. In vol. xi. is a collection of Johnson's sayings, under the name of Apothegms, many of which I quote in my notes.

[562] Boswell, it is clear, has taken his account of the club from Hawkins, who writes:—'Johnson had, in the winter of 1749, formed a club that met weekly at the King's Head, a famous beef-steak house in Ivy Lane, near St. Paul's, every Tuesday evening. Thither he constantly resorted with a disposition to please and be pleased. Our conversations seldom began till after a supper so very solid and substantial as led us to think that with him it was a dinner.

'By the help of this refection, and no other incentive to hilarity than lemonade, Johnson was in a short time after our assembling transformed into a new creature; his habitual melancholy and lassitude of spirit gave way; his countenance brightened.' Hawkins's Johnson, pp. 219, 250. Other parts of Hawkins's account do not agree with passages in Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale written in 1783-4. 'I dined about a fortnight ago with three old friends [Hawkins, Ryland, and Payne]; we had not met together for thirty years. In the thirty years two of our set have died.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 339. 'We used to meet weekly about the year fifty.' Ib. p. 361. 'The people whom I mentioned in my letter are the remnant of a little club that used to meet in Ivy Lane about three and thirty years ago, out of which we have lost Hawkesworth and Dyer, the rest are yet on this side the grave.' Ib. p. 363. Hawkins says the club broke up about 1756 (Life, p. 361). Johnson in the first of the passages says they had not met at all for thirty years—that is to say, not since 1753; while in the last two passages he implies that their weekly meetings came to an end about 1751. I cannot understand moreover how, if Bathurst, 'his beloved friend,' belonged to the club, Johnson should have forgotten it. Bathurst died in the expedition to the Havannah about 1762. Two others of those given in Hawkins's list were certainly dead by 1783. M'Ghie, who died while the club existed (Ib. p. 361), and Dr. Salter. A writer in the Builder (Dec. 1884) says, 'The King's Head was burnt down twenty-five years ago, but the cellarage remains beneath No. 4, Alldis's dining-rooms, on the eastern side.'

[563] Tom Tyers said that Johnson 'in one night composed, after finishing an evening in Holborn, his Hermit of Teneriffe.' Gent. Mag. for 1784, p. 901. The high value that he set on this piece may be accounted for in his own words. 'Many causes may vitiate a writer's judgment of his own works.... What has been produced without toilsome efforts is considered with delight, as a proof of vigorous faculties and fertile invention.' Johnson's Works, vii. 110. He had said much the same thirty years earlier in The Rambler (No. 21).

[564] 'On January 9 was published, long wished, another satire from Juvenal, by the author of London.' Gent. Mag. xviii. 598, 9.

[565] Sir John Hawkins, with solemn inaccuracy, represents this poem as a consequence of the indifferent reception of his tragedy. But the fact is, that the poem was published on the 9th of January, and the tragedy was not acted till the 6th of the February following. BOSWELL. Hawkins perhaps implies what Boswell says that he represents; but if so, he implies it by denying it. Hawkins's Johnson, p. 201.

[566] 'I wrote,' he said, 'the first seventy lines in The Vanity of Human Wishes in the course of one morning in that small house beyond the church at Hampstead.' Works (1787), xi. 212.

[567] See post under Feb. 15, 1766. That Johnson did not think that in hasty composition there is any great merit, is shewn by The Rambler, No. 169, entitled Labour necessary to excellence. There he describes 'pride and indigence as the two great hasteners of modern poems.' He continues:—'that no other method of attaining lasting praise [than multa dies et multa litura] has been yet discovered may be conjectured from the blotted manuscripts of Milton now remaining, and from the tardy emission of Pope's compositions.' He made many corrections for the later editions of his poem.

[568] 'Nov. 25, 1748. I received of Mr. Dodsley fifteen guineas, for which assign to him the right of copy of an imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, written by me; reserving to myself the right of printing one edition. SAM. JOHNSON.'

'London, 29 June, 1786. A true copy, from the original in Dr. Johnson's handwriting. JAS. DODSLEY. BOSWELL.

London was sold at a shilling a copy. Johnson was paid at the rate of about 9-1/2d. a line for this poem; for The Vanity of Human Wishes at the rate of about 10d. a line. Dryden by his engagement with Jacob Tonson (see Johnson's Works, vii. 298) undertook to furnish 10,000 verses at a little over 6d. a verse. Goldsmith was paid for The Traveller 21, or about 11-1/2d. a line.

[569] He never published it. See post under Dec. 9, 1784.

[570] 'Jan. 9, 1821. Read Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes,—all the examples and mode of giving them sublime, as well as the latter part, with the exception of an occasional couplet. I do not so much admire the opening. The first line, 'Let observation,' etc., is certainly heavy and useless. But 'tis a grand poem—and so true!—true as the Tenth of Juvenal himself. The lapse of ages changes all things—time—language— the earth—the bounds of the sea—the stars of the sky, and everything "about, around, and underneath" man, except man himself. The infinite variety of lives conduct but to death, and the infinity of wishes lead but to disappointment.' Byron, vol. v. p. 66. WRIGHT. Sir Walter Scott said 'that he had more pleasure in reading London, and The Vanity of Human Wishes than any other poetical composition he could mention.' Lockhart's Scott, iii. 269. Mr. Lockhart adds that 'the last line of MS. that Scott sent to the press was a quotation from The Vanity of Human Wishes.' Of the first lines

'Let observation with extensive view Survey mankind from China to Peru,'

De Quincey quotes the criticism of some writer, who 'contends with some reason that this is saying in effect:—"Let observation with extensive observation observe mankind extensively."' De Quincey's Works, x. 72.

[571] From Mr. Langton. BOSWELL.

[572] In this poem one of the instances mentioned of unfortunate learned men is Lydiat:

'Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end.'

The history of Lydiat being little known, the following account of him may be acceptable to many of my readers. It appeared as a note in the Supplement to the Gent. Mag. for 1748, in which some passages extracted from Johnson's poem were inserted, and it should have been added in the subsequent editions.—A very learned divine and mathematician, fellow of New College, Oxon, and Rector of Okerton, near Banbury. He wrote, among many others, a Latin treatise De Natura call, etc., in which he attacked the sentiments of Scaliger and Aristotle, not bearing to hear it urged, that some things are true in philosophy and false in divinity. He made above 600 Sermons on the harmony of the Evangelists. Being unsuccessful in publishing his works, he lay in the prison of Bocardo at Oxford, and in the King's Bench, till Bishop Usher, Dr. Laud, Sir William Boswell, and Dr. Pink, released him by paying his debts. He petitioned King Charles I. to be sent into Ethiopia, etc., to procure MSS. Having spoken in favour of Monarchy and bishops, he was plundered by the parliament forces, and twice carried away prisoner from his rectory; and afterwards had not a shirt to shift him in three months, without he borrowed it, and died very poor in 1646. BOSWELL.

[573] Psalm xc. 12.

[574] In the original Inquirer.

[575] '... nonumque prematur in annum.' Horace, Ars Poet. l. 388.

[576] 'Of all authors,' wrote Johnson, 'those are the most wretched who exhibit their productions on the theatre, and who are to propitiate first the manager and then the public. Many an humble visitant have I followed to the doors of these lords of the drama, seen him touch the knocker with a shaking hand, and after long deliberation adventure to solicit entrance by a single knock.' Works, v. 360.

[577] Mahomet was, in fact, played by Mr. Barry, and Demetrius by Mr. Garrick: but probably at this time the parts were not yet cast. BOSWELL.

[578] The expression used by Dr. Adams was 'soothed.' I should rather think the audience was awed by the extraordinary spirit and dignity of the following lines:

'Be this at least his praise, be 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 eyes to prejudice your heads. Unmov'd, though witlings sneer and rivals rail, Studious to please, yet not asham'd to fail, He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain, With merit needless, and without it vain; In Reason, Nature, Truth, he dares to trust; Ye fops be silent, and ye wits be just!'


[579] Johnson said of Mrs. Pritchard's playing in general that 'it was quite mechanical;' post, April 7, 1775. See also post under Sept. 30, 1783.

[580] 'The strangling of Irene in the view of the audience was suggested by Mr. Garrick.' Davies's Garrick, i. 128. Dryden in his Essay of Dramatick Poesie (edit. 1701, i. 13), says:—'I have observed that in all our tragedies the audience cannot forbear laughing when the actors are to die; 'tis the most comick part of the whole play.' 'Suppose your Piece admitted, acted; one single ill-natured jest from the pit is sufficient to cancel all your labours.' Goldsmith's Present State of Polite Learning, chap. x.

[581] In her last speech two of the seven lines are very bad:—

'Guilt and despair, pale spectres! grin around me, And stun me with the yellings of damnation!'

Act v. sc. 9.

[582] Murphy referring to Boswell's statement says:—'The Epilogue, we are told in a late publication, was written by Sir William Young. This is a new discovery, but by no means probable. When the appendages to a Dramatic Performance are not assigned to a friend, or an unknown hand, or a person of fashion, they are always supposed to be written by the author of the Play.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 154. He overlooks altogether the statement in the Gent. Mag. (xix. 85) that the Epilogue is 'by another hand.' Mr. Croker points out that the words 'as Johnson informed me' first appear in the second edition. The wonder is that Johnson accepted this Epilogue, which is a little coarse and a little profane. Yonge was Secretary at War in Walpole's ministry. Walpole said of him 'that nothing but Yonge's character could keep down his parts, and nothing but his parts support his character.' Horace Walpole's Letters, i. 98, note.

[583] I know not what Sir John Hawkins means by the cold reception of Irene. (See note, p. 192.) I was at the first representation, and most of the subsequent. It was much applauded the first night, particularly the speech on to-morrow [Act iii. sc. 2]. It ran nine nights at least. It did not indeed become a stock-play, but there was not the least opposition during the representation, except the first night in the last act, where Irene was to be strangled on the stage, which John could not bear, though a dramatick poet may stab or slay by hundreds. The bow-string was not a Christian nor an ancient Greek or Roman death. But this offence was removed after the first night, and Irene went off the stage to be strangled.—BURNEY.

[584] According to the Gent. Mag. (xix. 76) 'it was acted from Monday, Feb. 6, to Monday, Feb. 20, inclusive.' A letter in the Garrick Corres, (i. 32), dated April 3, 1745, seems to shew that so long a run was uncommon. The writer addressing Garrick says:—'You have now performed it [Tancred] for nine nights; consider the part, and whether nature can well support the frequent repetition of such shocks. Permit me to advise you to resolve not to act upon any account above three times a week.' Yet against this may be set the following passage in the Rambler, No. l23:—'At last a malignant author, whose performance I had persecuted through the nine nights, wrote an epigram upon Tape the critic, which drove me from the pit for ever.' Murphy writing in 1792 said that Irene had not been exhbited on any stage since its first representation. Murphy's Johnson, p. 52.

[585] Mr. Croker says that 'it appears by a MS. note in Isaac Reed's copy of Murphy's Life, that the receipts of the third, sixth, and ninth nights, after deducting sixty guineas a night for the expenses of the house, amounted to 195 17s.: Johnson cleared therefore, with the copyright, very nearly 300.' Irene was sold at the price of 1s. 6d. a copy (Gent. Mag. xix. 96); so that Dodsley must have looked for a very large sale.

[586] See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection for Johnson's estimate of Irene in later life.

[587] Aaron Hill (vol. ii. p. 355), in a letter to Mr. Mallett, gives the following account of Irene after having seen it: 'I was at the anomalous Mr. Johnson's benefit, and found the play his proper representative; strong sense ungraced by sweetness or decorum.' BOSWELL.

[588] See ante, p. 102

[589] Murphy (Life, p. 53) says that some years afterwards, when he knew Johnson to be in distress, he asked Garrick why he did not produce another tragedy for his Lichfield friend? Garrick's answer was remarkable: "When Johnson writes tragedy, declamation roars, and passion sleeps: when Shakespeare wrote; he dipped his pen in his own heart." Johnson was perhaps aware of the causes of his failure as a tragedy-writer. In his criticism of Addison's Cato he says: 'Of Cato it has been not unjustly determined that it is rather a poem in dialogue than a drama, rather a succession of just sentiments in elegant language than a representation of natural affections, or any state probable or possible in human life ... The events are expected without solicitude, and are remembered without joy or sorrow.... Its success has introduced or confirmed among us the use of dialogue too declamatory, of unaffecting elegance and chill philosophy.' Works, vii. 456. 'Johnson thought: Cato the best model of tragedy we had; yet he used to say, of all things the most ridiculous would be to see a girl cry at the representation of it.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 207. Cato, if neglected, has added at least eight 'habitual quotations' to the language (see Thackeray's English Humourists, p. 98). Irene has perhaps not added a single one. It has neverthingless some quotable lines, such as—

'Crowds that hide a monarch from himself.' Act i. sc. 4. 'To cant ... of reason to a lover.' Act iii. sc. 1. 'When e'en as love was breaking off from wonder, And tender accents quiver'd on my lips.' Ib. 'And fate lies crowded in a narrow space.' Act iii. sc. 6. 'Reflect that life and death, affecting sounds, Are only varied modes of endless being.' Act ii. sc. 8. 'Directs the planets with a careless nod.' Ib. 'Far as futurity's untravell'd waste.' Act iv. sc. 1. 'And wake from ignorance the western world.' Act iv. sc. 2. 'Through hissing ages a proverbial coward, The tale of women, and the scorn of fools.' Act iv. sc. 3. 'No records but the records of the sky.' Ib. '... thou art sunk beneath reproach.' Act v. sc. 2. 'Oh hide me from myself.' Act v. sc. 3.

[590] Johnson wrote of Milton:—'I cannot but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting without impatience the vicissitudes of opinion, and the impartiality of a future generation.' Johnson's Works, vii. 108.


'Genus irritabile vatum.' 'The fretful tribe of rival poets.'

Francis, Horace, Ep. ii. 2. 102.

[592] This deference he enforces in many passages in his writings; as for instance:—'Dryden might have observed, that what is good only because it pleases, cannot be pronounced good till it has been found to please.' Johnson's Works, vii. 252. 'The authority of Addison is great; yet the voice of the people, when to please the people is the purpose, deserves regard.' Ib. 376. 'About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right.' Ib. 456. 'These apologies are always useless: "de gustibus non est disputandum;" men may be convinced, but they cannot be pleased against their will.' Ib. viii. 26. 'Of things that terminate in human life, the world is the proper judge; to despise its sentence, if it were possible, is not just; and if it were just, is not possible.' Ib. viii. 316. Lord Chesterfield in writing to his son about his first appearance in the world said, 'You will be tried and judged there, not as a boy, but as a man; and from that moment there is no appeal for character.' Lord Chesterfield's Letters, iii. 324. Addison in the Guardian, No. 98, had said that 'men of the best sense are always diffident of their private judgment, till it receives a sanction from the public. Provoco ad populum, I appeal to the people, was the usual saying of a very excellent dramatic poet, when he had any disputes with particular persons about the justness and regularity of his productions.' See post, March 23, 1783.

[593] 'Were I,' he said, 'to wear a laced or embroidered waistcoat, it should be very rich. I had once a very rich laced waistcoat, which I wore the first night of my tragedy.' Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 27, 1773.

[594] 'Topham Beauclerc used to give a pleasant description of this greenroom finery, as related by the author himself: 'But,' said Johnson, with great gravity, 'I soon laid aside my gold-laced hat, lest it should make me proud.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 52. In The Idler (No. 62) we have an account of a man who had longed to 'issue forth in all the splendour of embroidery.' When his fine clothes were brought, 'I felt myself obstructed,' he wrote, 'in the common intercourse of civility by an uneasy consciousness of my new appearance; as I thought myself more observed, I was more anxious about my mien and behaviour; and the mien which if formed by care is commonly ridiculous.'

[595] See ante, p. 167.

[596] See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[597] The Tatler came to an end on Jan 2, 1710-1; the first series of The Spectator on Dec 6, 1712; and the second series of The Spectator on December 20, 1714.

[598] 'Two new designs have appeared about the middle of this month [March, 1750], one entitled, The Tatler Revived; or The Christian Philosopher and Politician, half a sheet, price 2d. (stamped); the other, The Rambler, three half sheets (un-stamped); price 2d.' Gent. Mag. xx. 126.

[599] Pope's Essay on Man, ii. 10.

[600] See post, under Oct. 12, 1779.

[601] I have heard Dr. Warton mention, that he was at Mr. Robert Dodsley's with the late Mr. Moore, and several of his friends, considering what should be the name of the periodical paper which Moore had undertaken. Garrick proposed The Sallad, which, by a curious coincidence, was afterwards applied to himself by Goldsmith:

'Our Garrick's a sallad, for in him we see Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree!'

[Retaliation, line II.]

At last, the company having separated, without any thing of which they approved having been offered, Dodsley himself thought of The World. BOSWELL.

[602] In the original MS. 'in this my undertaking,' and below, 'the salvation both of myself and others.'

[603] Prayers and Meditations, p. 9. BOSWELL.

[604] In the original folio edition of the Rambler the concluding paper is dated Saturday, March 17. But Saturday was in fact March 14. This circumstance is worth notice, for Mrs. Johnson died on the 17th. MALONE.

[605] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3d edit. p. 28. [Aug. 16, 1773]. BOSWELL.

[606] 'Gray had a notion not very peculiar, that he could not write but at certain times, or at happy moments; a fantastic foppery, to which my kindness for a man of learning and virtue wishes him to have been superior.' Johnson's Works, viii. 482. See post, under April 15, 1758.

[607] Her correspondence with Richardson and Mrs. Carter was published in 1807.

[608] The correspondence between her and Mrs. Carter was published in 1808.

[609] Dr. Birch says:—'The proprietor of the Rambler, Cave, told me that copy was seldom sent to the press till late in the night before the day of publication,' Croker's Boswell, p. 121, note. See post, April 12, 1776, and beginning of 1781.

Johnson carefully revised the Ramblers for the collected edition. The editor of the Oxford edition of Johnson's Works states (ii. x), that 'the alterations exceeded six thousand.' The following passage from the last number affords a good instance of this revision.

First edition.

'I have never complied with temporary curiosity, nor furnished my readers with abilities to discuss the topic of the day; I have seldom exemplified my assertions by living characters; from my papers therefore no man could hope either censures of his enemies or praises of himself, and they only could be expected to peruse them, whose passions left them leisure for the contemplation of abstracted truth, and whom virtue could please by her native dignity without the assistance of modish ornaments.' Gent. Mag. xxii. 117.

Revised edition.

'I have never complied with temporary curiosity, nor enabled my readers to discuss the topic of the day; I have rarely exemplified my assertions by living characters; in my papers no man could look for censures of his enemies, or praises of himself; and they only were expected to peruse them, whose passions left them leisure for abstracted truth, and whom virtue could please by its naked dignity.' Johnson's Works, iii. 462.

[610] 'Such relicks [Milton's early manuscripts] shew how excellence is acquired; what we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.' Johnson's Works, vii. 119.

[611] Of the first 52 Ramblers 49 were wholly by Johnson; of the last 156, 154. He seems to say that in the first 49, 17 were written from notes, and in the last 154 only 13.

[612] No. 46.

[613] Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 268 [p. 265]. BOSWELL.

[614] 'The sly shadow steals away upon the dial, and the quickest eye can distinguish no more than that it is gone.' Glanville, quoted in Johnson's Dictionary.

[615] This most beautiful image of the enchanting delusion of youthful prospect has not been used in any of Johnson's essays. BOSWELL.

[616] From Horace (Ars Poet. 1. 175) he takes his motto for the number:—

'Multa ferunt anni venientes commoda secum, Multa recedentes adimunt.' The blessings flowing in with life's full tide Down with our ebb of life decreasing glide.'


[617] Lib. xii. 96 [95]. 'In Tuccam aemulum omnium suorum studiorum.' MALONE.

[618] 'There never appear,' says Swift, 'more than five or six men of genius in an age; but if they were united, the world could not stand before them.' Johnson's Works, iv. 18.

[619] In the first edition this is printed [Greek: o philoi on philos]; in the second, [Greek: o philoi on philos]; in the 'Corrections' to the second, we find 'for [Greek: o] read [Greek: oi];' in the third it is printed as above. In three editions we have therefore five readings of the first word. See post, April 15, 1778, where Johnson says:

'An old Greek said, "He that has friends has no friend,"' and April 24, 1779, where he says: 'Garrick had friends but no friend.'


'gravesque Principum amicitias.' 'And fatal friendships of the guilty great.'

FRANCIS, Horace, Odes, ii. 1. 4.

[621] 3 Post, under Jan. 1, 1753.

[622] Sir John Hawkins has selected from this little collection of materials, what he calls the 'Rudiments of two of the papers of the Rambler.' But he has not been able to read the manuscript distinctly. Thus he writes, p. 266, 'Sailor's fate any mansion;' whereas the original is 'Sailor's life my aversion.' He has also transcribed the unappropriated hints on Writers for bread, in which he decyphers these notable passages, one in Latin, fatui non fam, instead of fami non fam; Johnson having in his mind what Thuanus says of the learned German antiquary and linguist, Xylander, who, he tells us, lived in such poverty, that he was supposed fami non fam scribere; and another in French, Degente de fate [fatu] et affam a'argent, instead of Dgout de fame, (an old word for renomme) et affam d'argent. The manuscript being written in an exceedingly small hand, is indeed very hard to read; but it would have been better to have left blanks than to write nonsense. BOSWELL.

[623] When we know that of the 208 Ramblers all but five were written by Johnson, it is amusing to read a passage in one of Miss Talbot's letters to Mrs. Carter, dated Oct. 20, 1750:—'Mr. Johnson would, I fear, be mortified to hear that people know a paper of his own by the sure mark of somewhat a little excessive, a little exaggerated in the expression.' Carter Corres. i. 357.

[624] The _Ramblers_ certainly were little noticed at first. Smart, the poet, first mentioned them to me as excellent papers, before I had heard any one else speak of them. When I went into Norfolk, in the autumn of 1751, I found but one person, (the Rev. Mr. Squires, a man of learning, and a general purchaser of new books,) who knew anything of them. Before I left Norfolk in the year 1760, the _Ramblers_ were in high favour among persons of learning and good taste. Others there were, devoid of both, who said that the _hard words_ in the _Rambler_ were used by the authour to render his _Dictionary_ indispensably necessary. BURNEY. We have notices of the _Rambler_ in the _Carter Corres_:—'May 28, 1750. The author ought to be cautioned not to use over many hard words. In yesterday's paper (a very pretty one indeed) we had _equiponderant, and another so hard I cannot remember it [adscititious], both in one sentence.' 'Dec. 17, 1750:—Mr. Cave complains of him for not admitting correspondents; this does mischief. In the main I think he is to be applauded for it. But why then does he not write now and then on the living manners of the times?' In writing on April 22, 1752, just after the _Rambler_ had come to an end, Miss Talbot says:—'Indeed 'tis a sad thing that such a paper should have met with discouragement from wise and learned and good people too. Many are the disputes it has cost me, and not once did I come off triumphant.' Mrs. Carter replied:—'Many a battle have I too fought for him in the country, out with little success.' Murphy says:—'of this excellent production the number sold on each day did not amount to five hundred; of course the bookseller, who paid the author four guineas a week, did not carry on a successful trade.' Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 59.

[625] Richardson wrote to Cave on Aug. 9, 1750, after forty-one numbers had appeared:—'I hope the world tastes them; for its own sake I hope the world tastes them. The author I can only guess at. There is but one man, I think, that could write them.' Rich. Corres, i. 165. Cave replied:—'Mr. Johnson is the Great Rambler, being, as you observe, the only man who can furnish two such papers in a week, besides his other great business.' He mentioned the recommendation it received from high quarters, and continued:—'Notwithstanding, whether the price of two-pence, or the unfavourable season of their first publication hinders the demand, no boast can be made of it.' Johnson had not wished his name to be known. Cave says that 'Mr. Carrick and others, who knew the author's powers and style from the first, unadvisedly asserting their suspicions, overturned the scheme of secrecy.' Ib. pp. 168-170.

[626] Horace Walpole, while justifying George II. against 'bookish men who have censured his neglect of literature,' says:—'In truth, I believe King George would have preferred a guinea to a composition as perfect as Alexander's Feast.' Reign of George II, iii. 304.

[627] 'Dr. Johnson said to an acquaintance of mine, "My other works are wine and water; but my Rambler is pure wine."' Rogers's Table Talk, p. 10.

[628] See post, April 5, 1772; April 19, 1773; and April 9, 1778.

[629] It was executed in the printing-office of Sands, Murray, and Cochran, with uncommon elegance, upon writing-paper, of a duodecimo size, and with the greatest correctness; and Mr. Elphinston enriched it with translations of the mottos. When completed, it made eight handsome volumes. It is, unquestionably, the most accurate and beautiful edition of this work; and there being but a small impression, it is now become scarce, and sells at a very high price. BOSWELL.

[630] Mr. Thomas Ruddiman, the learned grammarian of Scotland, well known for his various excellent works, and for his accurate editions of several authours. He was also a man of a most worthy private character. His zeal for the Royal House of Stuart did not render him less estimable in Dr. Johnson's eye. BOSWELL.

[631] In the Gent. Mag. for Sept. 1750, and for Oct. 1752, translations of many of the mottoes were given; but in each number there are several of Elphinston's. Johnson seems to speak of only one.

[632] Writing to Miss Porter on July 12, 1749, he said:—'I was afraid your letter had brought me ill news of my mother, whose death is one of the few calamities on which I think with terror.' Crokers Boswell, p. 62.

[633] Mr. Strahan was Elphinston's brother-in-law. Post, April 9, 1778.

[634] In the Gent. Mag. for January, 1752, in the list of books published is:—'A correct and beautiful edition of the Rambler in 4 volumes, in 12mo. Price 12s.' The Rambler was not concluded till the following March. The remaining two volumes were published in July. Gent. Mag. xxii. 338.

[635] According to Hawkins (Life, P. 269) each edition consisted of 1250 copies.

[636] No. 55 [59.]. BOSWELL.

[637] Miss Burney records in her Diary that one day at Streatham, while she and Mrs. Thrale 'were reading this Rambler, Dr. Johnson came in. We told him what we were about. "Ah, madam!" cried he, "Goldsmith was not scrupulous; but he would have been a great man had he known the real value of his own internal resources."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 83. See post, beginning of 1768.

[638] It is possible that Mrs. Hardcastle's drive in She Stoops to Conquer was suggested by the Rambler, No. 34. In it a young gentleman describes a lady's terror on a coach journey. 'Our whole conversation passed in dangers, and cares, and fears, and consolations, and stories of ladies dragged in the mire, forced to spend all the night on a heath, drowned in rivers, or burnt with lightning.... We had now a new scene of terror, every man we saw was a robber, and we were ordered sometimes to drive hard, lest a traveller whom we saw behind should overtake us; and sometimes to stop, lest we should come up to him who was passing before us. She alarmed many an honest man by begging him to spare her life as he passed by the coach.'

[639] Dr. Johnson was gratified by seeing this selection, and wrote to Mr. Kearsley, bookseller in Fleet-Street, the following note:—

'Mr. Johnson sends compliments to Mr. Kearsley, and begs the favour of seeing him as soon as he can. Mr. Kearsley is desired to bring with him the last edition of what he has honoured with the name of BEAUTIES. May 20, 1782.' BOSWELL. The correspondence, post, May 15, 1782, shews that Johnson sent for this book, not because he was gratified, but because he was accused, on the strength of one of the Beauties, of recommending suicide. On that day, being in the country, he wrote: 'I never saw the book but by casual inspection, and considered myself as utterly disengaged from its consequences.' He adds:—'I hope some time in the next week to have all rectified.' The letter of May 20 shews that on his return to town he lost little time, if any, in sending for Kearsley.

[640] See post, April 12, 1781.

[641] Ecclesiastes vii. 4.

[642] In the original 'separated sooner than subdued.' Johnson acted up to what he said. When he was close on his end, 'all who saw him beheld and acknowledged the invictum animum Catonis ... Talking of his illness he said:—"I will be conquered; I will not capitulate."' See post, Oct. 1784.

[643] In the Spectator, No. 568, Addison tells of a village in which 'there arose a current report that somebody had written a book against the 'squire and the whole parish.' The book was The Whole Duty of Man.

[644] 'The character of Prospero was, beyond all question, occasioned by Garrick's ostentatious display of furniture and Dresden china.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 144. If Garrick was aimed at, it is surprising that the severity of the satire did not bring to an end, not only all friendship, but even any acquaintance between the two men. The writer describes how he and Prospero had set out in the world together, and how for a long time they had assisted each other, till his friend had been lately raised to wealth by a lucky project. 'I felt at his sudden shoot of success an honest and disinterested joy.' Prospero reproached him with his neglect to visit him at his new house. When however he went to see him, he found that his friend's impatience 'arose not from any desire to communicate his happiness, but to enjoy his superiority.' He was kept waiting at the door, and when at length he was shewn up stairs, he found the staircase carefully secured by mats from the pollution of his feet. Prospero led him into a backroom, where he told him he always breakfasted when he had not great company. After the visitor had endured one act of insolence after another, he says:—'I left him without any intention of seeing him again, unless some misfortune should restore his understanding.' Rambler, No. 200. See post, May 15, 1776, where Johnson, speaking of the charge of meanness brought against Garrick, said, 'he might have been much better attacked for living with more splendour than is suitable to a player.'

[645] In C. C. Greville's Journal (ii. 316) we have an instance how stories about Johnson grew. He writes:—'Lord Holland told some stories of Johnson and Garrick which he had heard from Kemble.... When Garrick was in the zenith of his popularity, and grown rich, and lived with the great, and while Johnson was yet obscure, the Doctor used to drink tea with him, and he would say, "Davy, I do not envy you your money nor your fine acquaintance, but I envy you your power of drinking such tea as this." "Yes," said Garrick, "it is very good tea, but it is not my best, nor that which I give to my Lord this and Sir somebody t'other."' There can be little doubt that the whole story is founded on the following passage in the character of Prospero: 'Breakfast was at last set, and, as I was not willing to indulge the peevishness that began to seize me, I commended the tea. Prospero then told me that another time I should taste his finest sort, but that he had only a very small quantity remaining, and reserved it for those whom he thought himself obliged to treat with particular respect.' See post, April 10, 1778, where Johnson maintained that Garrick bore his good-fortune with modesty.

[646] No 98.

[647] Yet his style did not escape the harmless shafts of pleasant humour; for the ingenious Bonnell Thornton published a mock Rambler in the Drury-lane Journal. BOSWELL. Murphy (Life, p. 157), criticising the above quotation from Johnson, says:—'He forgot the observation of Dryden: "If too many foreign words are poured in upon us, it looks as if they were designed, not to assist the natives, but to conquer them."'

[648] Idler, No. 70. BOSWELL. In the same number Johnson writes:—'Few faults of style, whether real or imaginary, excite the malignity of a more numerous class of readers than the use of hard words.... But words are hard only to those who do not understand them; and the critic ought always to inquire, whether he is incommoded by the fault of the writer or by his own. Every author does not write for every reader.' See post, Sept. 19, 1777, where Johnson says:—'If Robertson's style be faulty he owes it to me; that is, having too many words, and those too big ones.'

[649] The following passages in Temple's writings shew that a likeness may be discovered between his style and Johnson's:—'There may be firmness and constancy of courage from tradition as well as of belief: nor, methinks, should any man know how to be a coward, that is brought up with the opinion, that all of his nation or city have ever been valiant.' Temple's Works, i. 167. 'This is a disease too refined for this country and people, who are well, when they are not ill, and pleased, when they are not troubled; are content, because they think little of it; and seek their happiness in the common eases and commodities of life, or the increase of riches; not amusing themselves with the more speculative contrivances of passion, or refinements of pleasure.' Ib. p. 170. 'They send abroad the best of their own butter into all parts, and buy the cheapest out of Ireland, or the north of England, for their own use. In short they furnish infinite luxury which they never practise, and traffic in pleasures which they never taste.' Ib. p. 195. See post, April 9, 1778, where Johnson says:—'Temple was the first writer who gave cadence to English prose.'

[650] Dean Stanley calls Ephraim Chambers 'the Father of Cyclopedias.' Memorials of Westminster Abbey, p. 299, note. The epitaph which Chambers wrote for himself the Dean gives as:—'Multis pervulgatus, paucis notus, qui vitam inter lucem et umbram, nec eruditus nec idioticis literis deditus, transegit.' In the Gent. Mag. for 1740, p. 262, the last line is given, no doubt correctly, as:—'Nec eruditus nec idiota, literis deditus.' The second edition of Chambers's Cyclopaedia was published in 1738. There is no copy of his Proposal in the British Museum or Bodleian. The resemblance between his style and Johnson's is not great. The following passage is the most Johnsonian that I could find:—'None of my predecessors can blame me for the use I have made of them; since it is their own avowed practice. It is a kind of privilege attached to the office of lexicographer; if not by any formal grant, yet by connivance at least. I have already assumed the bee for my device, and who ever brought an action of trover or trespass against that avowed free-booter? 'Tis vain to pretend anything of property in things of this nature. To offer our thoughts to the public, and yet pretend a right reserved therein to oneself, if it be not absurd, yet it is sordid. The words we speak, nay the breath we emit, is not more vague and common than our thoughts, when divulged in print.' Chambers's Preface, p. xxiii.

[651] 'There were giants in the earth in those days.' Gen. vi. 4.

[652] A GREAT PERSONAGE first appears in the second edition. In the first edition we merely find 'by one whose authority,' &c. Boswell in his Hebrides, Aug. 28, 1773, speaks of George III. as 'a Great Personage.' In his Letter to the People of Scotland (p. 90) he thus introduces an anecdote about the King—and Paoli:—'I have one other circumstance to communicate; but it is of the highest value. I communicate it with a mixture of awe and fondness.—That Great Personage, who is allowed by all to have the best memory of any man born a Briton, &c. In the Probationary Odes for the Laureateship, published a few months after Boswell's Letter, a 'Great Personage' is ludicrously introduced; pp. xxx. 63.

[653] The first nine lines form the motto.

[654] Horat. Epist. Lib. ii. Epist. ii. {1, 110} BOSWELL.

But how severely with themselves proceed The men, who write such verse as we can read! Their own strict judges, not a word they spare That wants or force, or light, or weight, or care, Howe'er unwillingly it quits its place, Nay, though at court, perhaps, it may find grace: Such they'll degrade; and some-times, in its stead, In downright charity revive the dead; Mark where a bold expressive phrase appears, Bright through the rubbish of some hundred years; Command old words that long have slept to wake, Words that wise Bacon or brave Rawleigh spake; Or bid the new be English, ages hence, (For use will father what's begot by sense;) Pour the full tide of eloquence along, Serenely pure, and yet divinely strong, Rich with the treasures of each foreign tongue.'

Pope, Imitations of Horace, ii. 2. 157

[655] 'Horat. De Arte Poetica. [1. 48.] BOSWELL.

[656] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 29, 1773, where Boswell says that up that date he had twice heard Johnson coin words, peregrinity and depeditation.

[657] 'The words which our authors have introduced by their knowledge of foreign languages, or ignorance of their own, by vanity or wantonness, by compliance with fashion or lust of innovation, I have registered as they occurred, though commonly only to censure them, and warn others against the folly of naturalizing useless foreigners to the injury of the natives.... Our language for almost a century has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonick character, and deviating towards a Gallick structure and phraseology, from which it ought to be our endeavour to recall it, by making our ancient volumes the groundwork of style.... From the authors which rose in the time of Elizabeth a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of use and elegance.' Johnson's Works, v. pp. 31, 39. See post. May 12, 1778.

[658] If Johnson sometimes indulged his Brownism (see post, beginning of 1756), yet he saw much to censure in Browne's style. 'His style is, indeed, a tissue of many languages; a mixture of heterogeneous words, brought together from distant regions, with terms originally appropriated to one art, and drawn by violence into the service of another. He must however be confessed to have augmented our philosophical diction.... His innovations are sometimes pleasing, and his temerities happy.' Johnson's Works, vi. 500. 'It is remarkable that the pomp of diction, which has been objected to Johnson, was first assumed in the Rambler. His Dictionary was going on at the same time, and in the course of that work, as he grew familiar with technical and scholastic words, he thought that the bulk of his readers were equally learned; or at least would admire the splendour and dignity of the style.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 156.

'The observation of his having imitated Sir Thomas Brown has been made by many people; and lately it has been insisted on, and illustrated by a variety of quotations from Brown, in one of the popular Essays written by the Reverend Mr. Knox [the Essay is No. xxii. of Winter Evenings, Knox's Works, ii 397], master of Tumbridge school, whom I have set down in my list [post, under Dec. 6, 1784] of those who have sometimes not unsuccessfully imitated Dr. Johnson's style. BOSWELL.

[659] The following observation in Mr. Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides [p. 9] may sufficiently account for that Gentleman's being 'now scarcely esteem'd a Scot' by many of his countrymen:—If he [Dr. Johnson] was particularly prejudiced against the Scots, it was because they were more in his way; because he thought their success in England rather exceeded the due proportion of their real merit; and because he could not but see in them that nationality which, I believe, no liberal-minded Scotchman will deny.' Mr. Boswell, indeed, is so free from national prejudices, that he might with equal propriety have been described as—

'Scarce by South Britons now esteem'd a Scot.' COURTENAY. BOSWELL.

[660] Malone says that 'Baretti used sometimes to walk with Johnson through the streets at night, and occasionally entered into conversation with the unfortunate women who frequent them, for the sake of hearing their stories. It was from a history of one of these, which a girl told under a tree in the King's Bench Walk in the Temple to Baretti and Johnson, that he formed the story of Misella in the Rambler [Nos. 170 and 171].' Prior's Malone, p. 161. 'Of one [of these women] who was very handsome he asked, for what she thought God had given her so much beauty. She answered:—"To please gentlemen."' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 321. See also post, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[661] Hawkins (Life, p. 270) had said that 'the characteristics of Addison's style are feebleness and inanity.' He was thus happily ridiculed by Person:—'Soon after the publication of Sir John's book, a parcel of Eton boys, not having the fear of God before their eyes, etc., instead of playing truant, robbing orchards, annoying poultry, or performing any other part of their school exercise, fell foul in print (see the Microcosm, No. 36) upon his Worship's censure of Addison's middling style.... But what can you expect, as Lord Kames justly observes, from a school where boys are taught to rob on the highway?' Person, Tracts, p. 339.

[662] Works, vii. 473.

[663] When Johnson shewed me a proof-sheet of the character of Addison, in which he so highly extols his style, I could not help observing, that it had not been his own model, as no two styles could differ more from each other.—'Sir, Addison had his style, and I have mine.'—When I ventured to ask him, whether the difference did not consist in this, that Addison's style was full of idioms, colloquial phrases, and proverbs; and his own more strictly grammatical, and free from such phraseology and modes of speech as can never be literally translated or understood by foreigners; he allowed the discrimination to be just.—Let any one who doubts it, try to translate one of Addison's Spectators into Latin, French, or Italian; and though so easy, familiar, and elegant, to an Englishman, as to give the intellect no trouble; yet he would find the transfusion into another language extremely difficult, if not impossible. But a Rambler, Adventurer, or Idler, of Johnson, would fall into any classical or European language, as easily as if it had been originally conceived in it. BURNEY. Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 125) recounts how Johnson recommended Addison's works as a model for imitation to Mr. Woodhouse, a poetical shoemaker. '"Give nights and days, Sir, (said he) to the study of Addison, if you mean either to be a good writer, or, what is more worth, an honest man." When I saw something like the same expression in his criticism on that author, I put him in mind of his past injunctions to the young poet, to which he replied, "That he wished the shoemaker might have remembered them as well."' Yet he says in his Life of Pope ( Works, viii. 284), 'He that has once studiously formed a style rarely writes afterwards with complete ease.'

[664] I shall probably, in another work, maintain the merit of Addison's poetry, which has been very unjustly depreciated. BOSWELL. He proposed also to publish an edition of Johnson's poems (ante, p. 16), an account of his own travels (post, April 17, 1778), a collection, with notes, of old tenures and charters of Scotland (post, Oct. 27, 1779), and a History of James IV. of Scotland, 'the patron,' as he said, 'of my family' (Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 23, 1773).

[665] Lewis thus happily translates the lines in Martial,—

'Diligat ilia senm quondam: sed et ipsa marito, Tunc quoque cum fuerit, non videatur, anus. 'Wrinkled with age, may mutual love and truth To their dim eyes recall the bloom of youth.'

Rambler, No. 167.

Some of Johnson's own translations are happy, as:—

'Quam juvat immites ventos audire cubantem Aut, gelidas hibernus aquas quum fuderit auster, Securum somnos, imbre juvante, sequi! 'How sweet in sleep to pass the careless hours, Lull'd by the beating winds and dashing show'rs.'

Ib. No. 117.

[666] [Greek: Augon ek makaron antaxios eiae amoibae.]

'Celestial powers! that piety regard, From you my labours wait their last reward.'

A modification of the Greek line is engraved on the scroll in Johnson's monument in St. Paul's (post, Dec. 1784).

[667] 'The essays professedly serious, if I have been able to execute my own intentions, will be found exactly conformable to the precepts of Christianity.... I therefore look back on this part of my work with pleasure, which no blame or praise of man shall diminish or augment.' Rambler, No. 208.

[668] I have little doubt that this attack on the concluding verse is an indirect blow at Hawkins, who had quoted the whole passage, and had clearly thought it the more 'awful' on account of the couplet. See Hawkins's Johnson, p. 291.

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