HotFreeBooks.com
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

[669] In the original Raleigh's.

[670] The italics are Boswell's.

[671] Mrs. Williams is probably the person meant. BOSWELL.

[672] 'In 1750, April 5, Comus was played for her benefit. She had so little acquaintance with diversion or gaiety, that she did not know what was intended when a benefit was theatre was offered her. The profits of the night were only 130, though Dr. Newton brought a large contribution; and 20 were given by Tonson, a man who is to be praised as often as he is named.... This was the greatest benefaction that Paradise Lost ever procured the author's descendants; and to this he who has now attempted to relate his life had the honour of contributing a Prologue.' Johnson's Works, vii. 118. In the Gent. Mag. (xx. 152) we read that, as on 'April 4, the night first appointed, many in convenient circumstances happened to disappoint the hopes of success, the managers generously quitted the profits of another night, in which the theatre was expected to be fuller. Mr. Samuel Johnson's prologue was afterwards printed for Mrs. Foster's benefit.'

[673] Johnson is thinking of Pope's lines—

'But still the great have kindness in reserve, He helped to bury whom he helped to starve.'

Prologue to the Satires, 1. 247. In the Life of Milton he writes:—'In our time a monument has been erected in Westminster Abbey To the author of Paradise Lost by Mr. Benson, who has in the inscription bestowed more words upon himself than upon Milton.' Johnson's Works, vii. 112. Pope has a hit at Benson in the Dunciad, iii. 325:—

'On poets' tombs see Benson's titles writ!'

Moore, describing Sheridan's funeral, says:—'It was well remarked by a French Journal, in contrasting the penury of Sheridan's latter years with the splendour of his funeral, that "France is the place for a man of letters to live in, and England the place for him to die in."' Moore himself wrote:—

'How proud they can press to the funeral array Of him whom they shunned in his sickness and sorrow— How bailiffs may seize his last blanket to-day, Whose pall shall be held up by Nobles to-morrow.'

Moore's Sheridan, ii. 460-2.

[674] Johnson's Works, i. 115.

[675] Among the advertisements in the Gent. Mag. for February of this year is the following:—'An elegy wrote in a country churchyard, 6d.'

[676] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 17, 1773.

[677] 'Lest there should be any person, at any future period, absurd enough to suspect that Johnson was a partaker in Lauder's fraud, or had any knowledge of it, when he assisted him with his masterly pen, it is proper here to quote the words of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury, at the time when he detected the imposition. 'It is to be hoped, nay it is expected, that the elegant and nervous writer, whose judicious sentiments and inimitable style point out the authour of Lauder's Preface and Postscript, will no longer allow one to plume himself with his feathers, who appeareth so little to deserve [his] assistance: an assistance which I am persuaded would never have been communicated, had there been the least suspicion of those facts which I have been the instrument of conveying to the world in these sheets.' Milton no Plagiary, 2nd edit. p. 78. And his Lordship has been pleased now to authorise me to say, in the strongest manner, that there is no ground whatever for any unfavourable reflection against Dr. Johnson, who expressed the strongest indignation against Lauder. BOSWELL. To this letter Lauder had the impudence to add a shameless postscript and some 'testimonies' concerning himself. Though on the face of it it is evident that this postscript is not by Johnson, yet it is included in his works (v. 283). The letter was dated Dec. 20, 1750. In the Gent. Mag. for the next month (xxi. 47) there is the following paragraph:—'Mr. Lauder confesses here and exhibits all his forgeries; for which he assigns one motive in the book, and after asking pardon assigns another in the postscript; he also takes an opportunity to publish several letters and testimonials to his former character.' Goldsmith in Retaliation has a hit at Lauder:—

'Here Douglas retires from his toils to relax, The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks. New Lauders and Bowers the Tweed shall cross over, No countryman living their tricks to discover.'

Dr. Douglas was afterwards Bishop of Salisbury (ante, p. 127). See post, June 25, 1763, for the part he took in exposing the Cock Lane Ghost imposture.

[678] Scott writing to Southey in 1810 said:—'A witty rogue the other day, who sent me a letter signed Detector, proved me guilty of stealing a passage from one of Vida's Latin poems, which I had never seen or heard of.' The passage alleged to be stolen ends with,—

'When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou!'

which in Vida ad Eranen. El. ii. v. 21, ran,—

'Cum dolor atque supercilio gravis imminet angor, Fungeris angelico sola ministerio.'

'It is almost needless to add,' says Mr. Lockhart, 'there are no such lines.' Life of Scott, iii. 294.

[679] The greater part of this Preface was given in the Gent. Mag. for August 1747 (xvii. 404).

[680] 'Persuasive' is scarcely a fit description for this noble outburst of indignation on the part of one who knew all the miseries of poverty. After quoting Dr. Newton's account of the distress to which Milton's grand-daughter had been reduced, he says:—'That this relation is true cannot be questioned: but surely the honour of letters, the dignity of sacred poetry, the spirit of the English nation, and the glory of human nature require—that it should be true no longer.... In an age, which amidst all its vices and all its follies has not become infamous for want of charity, it may be surely allowed to hope, that the living remains of Milton will be no longer suffered to languish in distress.' Johnson's Works, v. 270.

[681] Hawkins's Johnson, p. 275.

[682] In the original retrospection. Johnson's Works, v. 268.

[683] In this same year Johnson thus ends a severe criticism on Samson Agonistes: 'The everlasting verdure of Milton's laurels has nothing to fear from the blasts of malignity; nor can my attempt produce any other effect than to strengthen their shoots by lopping their luxuriance.' The Rambler, No. 140. 'Mr. Nichols shewed Johnson in 1780 a book called Remarks on Johnson's Life of Milton, in which the affair of Lauder was renewed with virulence. He read the libellous passage with attention, and instantly wrote on the margin:—"In the business of Lauder I was deceived; partly by thinking the man too frantic to be fraudulent.'" Murphy's Johnson, p. 66.

[684] 'Johnson turned his house,' writes Lord Macaulay, 'into a place of refuge for a crowd of wretched old creatures who could find no other asylum; nor could all their peevishness and ingratitude weary out his benevolence' (Essays, i. 390). In his Biography of Johnson (p. 388) he says that Mrs. Williams's 'chief recommendations were her blindness and her poverty.' No doubt in Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale are found amusing accounts of the discord of the inmates of his house. But it is abundantly clear that in Mrs. Williams's company he had for years found pleasure. A few months after her death he wrote to Mrs. Thrale: 'You have more than once wondered at my complaint of solitude, when you hear that I am crowded with visits. Inopem me copia fecit. Visitors are no proper companions in the chamber of sickness.... The amusements and consolations of languor and depression are conferred by familiar and domestic companions.... Such society I had with Levett and Williams' (Piozzi Letters, ii. 341). To Mrs. Montagu he wrote:—'Thirty years and more she had been my companion, and her death has left me very desolate' (Croker's Boswell, p. 739). Boswell says that 'her departure left a blank in his house' (post, Aug. 1783). 'By her death,' writes Murphy, 'he was left in a state of destitution, with nobody but his black servant to soothe his anxious moments' (Murphy's Johnson, p. 122). Hawkins (Life, p. 558) says that 'she had not only cheered him in his solitude, and helped him to pass with comfort those hours which otherwise would have been irksome to him, but had relieved him from domestic cares, regulated and watched over the expenses of his house, etc.' 'She had,' as Boswell says (post, Aug. 1783), 'valuable qualities.' 'Had she had,' wrote Johnson, 'good humour and prompt elocution, her universal curiosity and comprehensive knowledge would have made her the delight of all that knew her' (Piozzi Letters, ii. 311). To Langton he wrote:—'I have lost a companion to whom I have had recourse for domestic amusement for thirty years, and whose variety of knowledge never was exhausted' (post, Sept. 29, 1783). 'Her acquisitions,' he wrote to Dr. Burney, 'were many and her curiosity universal; so that she partook of every conversation' (post, Sept. 1783). Murphy (Life p. 72) says:—'She possessed uncommon talents, and, though blind, had an alacrity of mind that made her conversation agreeable, and even desirable.' According to Hawkins (Life, 322-4) 'she had acquired a knowledge of French and Italian, and had made great improvements in literature. She was a woman of an enlightened understanding. Johnson in many exigencies found her an able counsellor, and seldom shewed his wisdom more than when he hearkened to her advice.' Perhaps Johnson had her in his thoughts when, writing of Pope's last years and Martha Blount, he said:—'Their acquaintance began early; the life of each was pictured on the other's mind; their conversation therefore was endearing, for when they met there was an immediate coalition of congenial notions.' (Johnson's Works, viii. 304.) Miss Mulso (Mrs. Chapone) writing to Mrs. Carter in 1753, says:—'I was charmed with Mr. Johnson's behaviour to Mrs. Williams, which was like that of a fond father to his daughter. She shewed very good sense, with a great deal of modesty and humility; and so much patience and cheerfulness under her misfortune that it doubled my concern for her' (Mrs. Chapone's Life, p. 73). Miss Talbot wrote to Mrs. Carter in 1756:—'My mother the other day fell in love with your friend, Mrs. Williams, whom we met at Mr. Richardson's [where Miss Mulso also had met her], and is particularly charmed with the sweetness of her voice' (Talbot and Carter Corresp. ii. 221). Miss Talbot was a niece of Lord Chancellor Talbot. Hannah More wrote in 1774:—'Mrs. Williams is engaging in her manners; her conversation lively and entertaining' (More's Memoirs, i.49). Boswell, however, more than once complains that she was 'peevish' (post, Oct. 26, 1769 and April 7, 1776). At a time when she was very ill, and had gone into the country to try if she could improve her health, Johnson wrote:—'Age, and sickness, and pride have made her so peevish, that I was forced to bribe the maid to stay with her by a secret stipulation of half-a-crown a week over her wages' (post, July 22, 1777). Malone, in a note on August 2, 1763, says that he thinks she had of her own 'about 35 or 40 a year.' This was in her latter days; Johnson had prevailed on Garrick to give her a benefit and Mrs. Montagu to give her a pension. She used, he adds, to help in the house-work.

[685] March 14. See ante, p. 203, note 1. He had grown weary of his work. In the last Rambler but one he wrote: 'When once our labour has begun, the comfort that enables us to endure it is the prospect of its end.... He that is himself weary will soon weary the public. Let him therefore lay down his employment, whatever it be, who can no longer exert his former activity or attention; let him not endeavour to struggle with censure, or obstinately infest the stage, till a general hiss commands him to depart.'

[686] How successful an imitator Hawkesworth was is shewn by the following passage in the Carter and Talbot Corresp., ii. 109:—'I discern Mr. Johnson through all the papers that are not marked A, as evidently as if I saw him through the keyhole with the pen in his hand.'

[687] In the Rambler for Feb. 25 of this year (No. 203) he wrote in the following melancholy strain:—'Every period of life is obliged to borrow its happiness from the time to come. In youth we have nothing past to entertain us, and in age we derive little from retrospect but hopeless sorrow. Yet the future likewise has its limits which the imagination dreads to approach, but which we see to be not far distant. The loss of our friends and companions impresses hourly upon us the necessity of our own departure; we know that the schemes of man are quickly at an end, that we must soon lie down in the grave with the forgotten multitudes of former ages, and yield our place to others, who, like us, shall be driven a while by hope or fear about the surface of the earth, and then like us be lost in the shades of death.' In Prayers and Meditations, pp. 12-15, in a service that he used on May 6, 'as preparatory to my return to life to-morrow,' he prays:—'Enable me to begin and perfect that reformation which I promised her, and to persevere in that resolution which she implored Thee to continue, in the purposes which I recorded in Thy sight when she lay dead before me.' See post, Jan. 20, 1780. The author of Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Johnson, 1785, says, p. 113, that on the death of his wife, 'to walk the streets of London was for many a lonesome night Johnson's constant substitute for sleep.'

[688] 'I have often been inclined to think that, if this fondness of Johnson for his wife was not dissembled, it was a lesson that he had learned by rote, and that, when he practised it, he knew not where to stop till he became ridiculous.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 313

[689] The son of William Strahan, M.P., 'Johnson's old and constant friend, Printer to His Majesty' (post, under April 20, 1781). He attended Johnson on his death-bed, and published the volume called Prayers and Meditations.

[690] Southey in his Life of Wesley, i. 359, writes:—'The universal attention which has been paid to dreams in all ages proves that the superstition is natural; and I have heard too many well-attested facts (facts to which belief could not be refused upon any known laws of evidence) not to believe that impressions are sometimes made in this manner, and forewarnings communicated, which cannot be explained by material philosophy or mere metaphysics.'

[691] Warburton in his Divine Legation, i. 284, quotes the 'famous sepulchral inscription of the Roman widow.' 'Ita peto vos Manes sanctissimi commendatum habeatis meum conjugem et velitis huic indulgentissimi esse horis nocturnis ut eum videam,' etc.

[692] Mrs. Boswell died in June 1789. Johnson's prayer with Boswell's comments on it was first inserted in the Additions to the second edition.

[693] Mrs. Johnson died on March 17, O. S., or March 28, N. S. The change of style was made in September, 1752. He might have kept either the 17th, or the 28th as the anniversary. In like manner, though he was born on Sept. 7, after the change he kept the 18th as his birth-day. See post, beginning of 1753, where he writes, 'Jan. 1, N. S., which I shall use for the future.'

[694] In Prayers and Meditations, p. 22, he recorded: 'The melancholy of this day hung long upon me.' P. 53: 'April 22, 1764, Thought on Tetty, dear, poor Tetty, with my eyes full.' P. 91: 'March 28, 1770. This is the day on which, in 1752, I was deprived of poor, dear Tetty.... When I recollect the time in which we lived together, my grief for her departure is not abated; and I have less pleasure in any good that befalls me because she does not partake it.' P. 170: 'April 20, 1778. Poor Tetty, whatever were our faults and failings, we loved each other. I did not forget thee yesterday [Easter Sunday]. Couldest thou have lived!' P. 210: 'March 28, 1782. This is the day on which, in 1752, dear Tetty died. I have now uttered a prayer of repentance and contrition; perhaps Tetty knows that I prayed for her. Perhaps Tetty is now praying for me. God help me.' In a letter to Mrs. Thrale on the occasion of the death of her son (dated March 30, 1776) he thus refers to the loss of his wife:—'I know that a whole system of hopes, and designs, and expectations is swept away at once, and nothing left but bottomless vacuity. What you feel I have felt, and hope that your disquiet will be shorter than mine.' Piozzi Letters, i. 310. In a letter to Mr. Elphinston, who had just lost his wife, written on July 27, 1778, he repeats the same thought:—'A loss such as yours lacerates the mind, and breaks the whole system of purposes and hopes. It leaves a dismal vacuity in life, which affords nothing on which the affections can fix, or to which endeavour may be directed. All this I have known.' Croker's Boswell, p. 66, note. See also post, his letter to Mr. Warton of Dec. 21, 1754, and to Dr. Lawrence of Jan. 20, 1780.

[695] In the usual monthly list of deaths in the Gent. Mag. her name is not given. Johnson did not, I suppose, rank among 'eminent persons.'

[696] Irene, Act i. sc. 1.

[697] See post, Nov. 16, 1784, note.

[698] The Anderdon MSS. contain an importunate letter, dated July 3, 1751, from one Mitchell, a tradesman in Chandos-street, pressing Johnson to pay 2, due by his wife ever since August, 1749, and threatening legal proceedings to enforce payment. This letter Mr. Boswell had endorsed, 'Proof of Dr. Johnson's wretched circumstances in 1751.' CROKER.

[699] In the Gent. Mag. for February, 1794, (p. 100,) was printed a letter pretending to be that written by Johnson on the death of his wife. But it is merely a transcript of the 41st number of The Idler. A fictitious date (March 17, 1751, O. S.) was added by some person previous to this paper being sent to the publisher of that miscellany, to give a colour to this deception. MALONE.

[700] Francis Barber was born in Jamaica, and was brought to England in 1750 by Colonel Bathurst, father of Johnson's very intimate friend, Dr. Bathurst. He was sent, for some time, to the Reverend Mr. Jackson's school, at Barton, in Yorkshire. The Colonel by his will left him his freedom, and Dr. Bathurst was willing that he should enter into Johnson's service, in which he continued from 1752 till Johnson's death, with the exception of two intervals; in one of which, upon some difference with his master, he went and served an apothecary in Cheapside, but still visited Dr. Johnson occasionally; in another, he took a fancy to go to sea. Part of the time, indeed, he was, by the kindness of his master, at a school in Northamptonshire, that he might have the advantage of some learning. So early and so lasting a connection was there between Dr. Johnson and this humble friend. BOSWELL. 'I believe that Francis was scarcely as much the object of Mr. Johnson's personal kindness as the representative of Dr. Bathurst, for whose sake he would have loved anybody or anything.' Piozzi's Anec. p. 212.

[701] 'I asked him,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. pp. 146-150), 'if he ever disputed with his wife. "Perpetually," said he; "my wife had a particular reverence for cleanliness, and desired the praise of neatness in her dress and furniture, as many ladies do, till they become troublesome to their best friends, slaves to their own besoms, and only sigh for the hour of sweeping their husbands out of the house as dirt and useless lumber. A clean floor is so comfortable, she would say sometimes by way of twitting; till at last I told her that I thought we had had talk enough about the floor, we would now have a touch at the ceiling." I asked him if he ever huffed his wife about his dinner. "So often," replied he, "that at last she called to me and said, Nay, hold, Mr. Johnson, and do not make a farce of thanking God for a dinner which in a few minutes you will protest not eatable."'

[702] 'When a friend is carried to his grave, we at once find excuses for every weakness, and palliations of every fault; we recollect a thousand endearments, which before glided off our minds without impression, a thousand favours unrepaid, a thousand duties unperformed; and wish, vainly wish, for his return, not so much that we may receive, as that we may bestow happiness, and recompense that kindness which before we never understood.' Rambler, No. 54.

[703] Pr. and Med. p. 19. BOSWELL.

[704] Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 316. BOSWELL.

[705] See post, Oct. 26, 1769, where the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory or 'a middle state,' as Johnson calls it is discussed, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25, 1773.

[706] In the original, 'lawful for me.' Much the same prayer Johnson made for his mother. Pr. and Med. p. 38. 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. I did it only once, so far as it might be lawful for me.' Ib. p. 54. On the death of Mr. Thrale he wrote, 'May God that delighteth in mercy have had mercy on thee.' Ib. p. 191; and later on, 'for Henry Thrale, so far as is lawful, I humbly implore thy mercy in his present state.' Ib. p. 197.

[707] Pr. and Med., p. 20. BOSWELL.

[708] Shortly before his death (see post, July 12, 1784) Johnson had a stone placed over her grave with the following inscription:—

Hic conduntur reliquiae ELIZABETH Antiqua Jarvisiorum Leicestrienses, ortae; Formosae, cultae, ingeniosae, piae; Uxoris, primis nuptiis, Henrici Porter, Secundis Samuelis Johnson: Qui multum amatam, diuque defletam Hoc lapide contexit. Obiit Londini Mense Mart. A.D. MDCCLIII

As Mrs. Johnson died in 1752, the date is wrong.

[709] See post, Sept. 21. 1777.

[710] He described her as a woman 'whom none, who were capable of distinguishing either moral or intellectual excellence, could know without esteem or tenderness. She was extensively charitable in her judgements and opinions, grateful for every kindness that she received, and willing to impart assistance of every kind to all whom her little power enabled her to benefit. She passed through many months of languor, weakness, and decay without a single murmur of impatience, and often expressed her adoration of that mercy which granted her so long time for recollection and penitence.' Johnson's Works, ix. 523.

[711] See ante, p. 187.

[712] Dr. Bathurst, though a Physician of no inconsiderable merit, had not the good fortune to get much practice in London. He was, therefore willing to accept of employment abroad, and, to the regret of all who knew him, fell a sacrifice to the destructive climate, in the expedition against the Havannah. Mr. Langton recollects the following passage in a letter from Dr. Johnson to Mr. Beauclerk: 'The Havannah is taken;—a conquest too dearly obtained; for, Bathurst died before it. "Vix Priamus tanti totaque Troja fuit."' BOSWELL.

The quotation is from Ovid, Heroides, i. 4. Johnson (post, Dec. 21, 1762) wrote to Baretti, 'Bathurst went physician to the army, and died at the Havannah.' Mr. Harwood in his History of Lichfield, p. 451, gives two letters from Bathurst to Johnson dated 1757. In the postscript to one he says:—'I know you will call me a lazy dog, and in truth I deserve it; but I am afraid I shall never mend. I have indeed long known that I can love my friends without being able to tell them so.... Adieu my dearest friend.' He calls Johnson 'the best of friends, to whom I stand indebted for all the little virtue and knowledge that I have.' 'Nothing,' he continues, 'I think, but absolute want can force me to continue where I am.' Jamaica he calls 'this execrable region.' Hawkins (Life, p. 235) says that 'Bathurst, before leaving England, confessed to Johnson that in the course of ten years' exercise of his faculty he had never opened his hand to more than one guinea.' Johnson perhaps had Bathurst in mind when, many years later, he wrote:—'A physician in a great city seems to be the mere plaything of fortune; his degree of reputation is for the most part totally casual; they that employ him know not his excellence; they that reject him know not his deficience. By any acute observer, who had looked on the transactions of the medical world for half a century, a very curious book might be written on the Fortune of Physicians.' Works, viii. 471.

[713] Mr. Ryland was one of the members of the old club in Ivy Lane who met to dine in 1783. Mr. Payne was another, (post, end of 1783).

[714] Johnson revised her volumes: post, under Nov. 19, 1783.

[715] Catherine Sawbridge, sister of Mrs. [? Mr.] Alderman Sawbridge, was born in 1733; but it was not till 1760 that she was married to Dr. Macaulay, a physician; so that Barber's account was incorrect either in date or name. CROKER. For Alderman Sawbridge see post, May 17, 1778, note.

[716] See post, under Nov. 19, 1783. Johnson bequeathed to her a book to keep as a token of remembrance (post, Dec. 9, 1784). I find her name in the year 1765 in the list of subscribers to the edition of Swift's Works, in 17 vols., so that perhaps she was more 'in the learned way' than Barber thought.

[717] Reynolds did not return to England from Italy till the October of this year, seven months after Mrs. Johnson's death. Taylor's Reynolds, i. 87. He writes of his 'thirty years' intimacy with Dr. Johnson.' He must have known him therefore at least as early as 1754. Ib. ii. 454.

[718] See ante, p. 185.

[719] 'Lord Southwell,' said Johnson, 'was the most qualitied man I ever saw.' Post, March 23, 1783.

[720] The account given of Levet in Gent. Mag. lv. 101, shews that he was a man out of the common run. He would not otherwise have attracted the notice of the French surgeons. The writer says:—'Mr. Levet, though an Englishman by birth, became early in life a waiter at a coffee-house in Paris. The surgeons who frequented it, finding him of an inquisitive turn and attentive to their conversation, made a purse for him, and gave him some instructions in their art. They afterwards furnished him with the means of further knowledge, by procuring him free admission to such lectures in pharmacy and anatomy as were read by the ablest professors of that period.' When he lived with Johnson, 'much of the day was employed in attendance on his patients, who were chiefly of the lowest rank of tradesmen. The remainder of his hours he dedicated to Hunter's lectures, and to as many different opportunities of improvement as he could meet with on the same gratuitous conditions.' 'All his medical knowledge,' said Johnson, 'and it is not inconsiderable, was obtained through the ear. Though he buys books, he seldom looks into them, or discovers any power by which he can be supposed to judge of an author's merit.' 'Dr. Johnson has frequently observed that Levet was indebted to him for nothing more than house-room, his share in a penny-loaf at breakfast, and now and then a dinner on a Sunday. His character was rendered valuable by repeated proof of honesty, tenderness, and gratitude to his benefactor, as well as by an unwearied diligence in his profession. His single failing was an occasional departure from sobriety. Johnson would observe, "he was perhaps the only man who ever became intoxicated through motives of prudence. He reflected that, if he refused the gin or brandy offered him by some of his patients, he could have been no gainer by their cure, as they might have had nothing else to bestow on him. This habit of taking a fee, in whatever shape it was exhibited, could not be put off by advice. He would swallow what he did not like, nay what he knew would injure him, rather than go home with an idea that his skill had been exerted without recompense. Though he took all that was offered him, he demanded nothing from the poor."' The writer adds that 'Johnson never wished him to be regarded as an inferior, or treated him like a dependent.' Mrs. Piozzi says:—'When Johnson raised contributions for some distressed author, or wit in want, he often made us all more than amends by diverting descriptions of the lives they were then passing in corners unseen by anybody but himself, and that odd old surgeon whom he kept in his house to tend the outpensioners, and of whom he said most truly and sublimely, that

"In misery's darkest caverns known,"' etc. Piozzi's Anec., p. 118.

'Levet, madam, is a brutal fellow, but I have a good regard for him; for his brutality is in his manners, not in his mind.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 115. 'Whoever called in on Johnson at about midday found him and Levet at breakfast, Johnson, in deshabille, as just risen from bed, and Levet filling out tea for himself and his patron alternately, no conversation passing between them. All that visited him at these hours were welcome. A night's rest and breakfast seldom failed to refresh and fit him for discourse, and whoever withdrew went too soon.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 435.

How much he valued his poor friend he showed at his death, post, Jan. 20, 1782.

[721]

'O et praesidium et dulce decus meum.' 'My joy, my guard, and sweetest good.'

CREECH. Horace, Odes, i. I. 2.

[722] It was in 1738 that Johnson was living in Castle Street. At the time of Reynolds's arrival in London in 1752 he had been living for some years in Gough Square. Boswell, I suppose, only means to say that Johnson's acquaintance with the Cotterells was formed when he lived in their neighbourhood. Northcote (Life of Reynolds, i. 69) says that the Cotterells lived 'opposite to Reynolds's,' but his account seems based on a misunderstanding of Boswell.

[723] Ante, p. 165.

[724] 'We are both of Dr. Johnson's school,' wrote Reynolds to some friend. 'For my own part, I acknowledge the highest obligations to him. He may be said to have formed my mind, and to have brushed from it a great deal of rubbish. Those very persons whom he has brought to think rightly will occasionally criticise the opinions of their master when he nods. But we should always recollect that it is he himself who taught us and enabled us to do it.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 461. Burke, writing to Malone, said:—'You state very properly how much Reynolds owed to the writings and conversation of Johnson; and nothing shews more the greatness of Sir Joshua's parts than his taking advantage of both, and making some application of them to his profession, when Johnson neither understood nor desired to understand anything of painting.' Ib. p. 638. Reynolds, there can be little question, is thinking of Johnson in the following passage in his Seventh Discourse:—'What partial and desultory reading cannot afford may be supplied by the conversation of learned and ingenious men, which is the best of all substitutes for those who have not the means or opportunities of deep study. There are many such men in this age: and they will be pleased with communicating their ideas to artists, when they see them curious and docile, if they are treated with that respect and deference which is so justly their due. Into such society young artists, if they make it the point of their ambition, will by degrees be admitted. There, without formal teaching, they will insensibly come to feel and reason like those they live with, and find a rational and systematic taste imperceptibly formed in their minds, which they will know how to reduce to a standard, by applying general truth to their own purposes, better perhaps than those to whom they owned [?owed] the original sentiment.' Reynolds's Works, edit. 1824, i. 149. 'Another thing remarkable to shew how little Sir Joshua crouched to the great is, that he never gave them their proper titles. I never heard the words "your lordship" or "your ladyship" come from his mouth; nor did he ever say "Sir" in speaking to any one but Dr. Johnson; and when he did not hear distinctly what the latter said (which often happened) he would then say "Sir?" that he might repeat it.' Northcote's Conversations, p. 289. Gibbon called Johnson 'Reynolds's oracle.' Gibbon's Misc. Works, i. 149. See also post, under Dec. 29, 1778.

[725] The thought may have been suggested to Reynolds by Johnson's writings. In The Rambler, No. 87, he had said:—'There are minds so impatient of inferiority, that their gratitude is a species of revenge, and they return benefits, not because recompense is a pleasure, but because obligation is a pain.' In No. 166, he says:—'To be obliged is to be in some respect inferior to another.'

[726] Northcote tells the following story on the authority of Miss Reynolds. It is to be noticed, however, that in her Recollections (Croker's Boswell, p. 832) the story is told somewhat differently. Johnson, Reynolds and Miss Reynolds one day called on the Miss Cotterells. 'Johnson was the last of the three that came in; when the maid, seeing this uncouth and dirty figure of a man, and not conceiving he could be one of the company, laid hold of his coat, just as he was going up-stairs, and pulled him back again, saying, "You fellow, what is your business here? I suppose you intended to rob the house." This most unlucky accident threw him into such a fit of shame and anger that he roared out like a bull, "What have I done? What have I done?"' Northcote's Reynolds, i. 73.

[727] Johnson writing to Langton on January 9, 1759, describes him as 'towering in the confidence of twenty-one.' The conclusion of The Rambler was in March 1752, when Langton must have been only fourteen or just fifteen at most; Johnson's first letter to him dated May 6, 1755, shews that at that time their acquaintance had been but short. Langton's subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles in the Register of the University of Oxford was on July 7, 1757. Johnson's first letter to him at Oxford is dated June 28, 1757.

[728] See post, March 20, 1782.

[729] 'My friend Maltby and I,' said Samuel Rogers, 'when we were very young men, had a strong desire to see Dr. Johnson; and we determined to call upon him, and introduce ourselves. We accordingly proceeded to his house in Bolt Court; and I had my hand on the knocker when our courage failed us, and we retreated. Many years afterwards I mentioned this circumstance to Boswell, who said, "What a pity that you did not go boldly in! He would have received you with all kindness."' Rogers's Table Talk, p. 9. For Johnson's levee see post, 1770, in Dr. Maxwell's Collectanea.

[730] 'George Langton,' writes Mr. Best in his Memorials (p. 66), 'shewed me his pedigree with the names and arms of the families with which his own had intermarried. It was engrossed on a piece of parchment about ten inches broad, and twelve to fifteen feet long. "It leaves off at the reign of Queen Elizabeth," said he.'

[731] Topham Beauclerk was the only son of Lord Sidney Beauclerk, fifth son of the first Duke of St. Alban's. He was therefore the great-grandson of Charles II. and Nell Gwynne. He was born in Dec. 1739. In my Dr. Johnson: His Friends and his Critics I have put together such facts as I could find about Langton and Beauclerk.

[732] Mr. Best describes Langton as 'a very tall, meagre, long-visaged man, much resembling a stork standing on one leg near the shore in Raphael's cartoon of the Miraculous Draught of Fishes. His manners were, in the highest degree, polished; his conversation mild, equable and always pleasing.' Best's Memorials, p. 62. Miss Hawkins writes:—'If I were called on to name the person with whom Johnson might have been seen to the fairest advantage, I should certainly name Mr. Langton.' Miss Hawkins's Memoirs, i. 144. Mrs. Piozzi wrote in 1817:—'I remember when to have Langton at a man's house stamped him at once a literary character.' Hayward's Piozzi, ii. 203.

[733] In the summer of 1759. See post, under April 15, 1758, and 1759.

[734] Lord Charlemont said that 'Beauclerk possessed an exquisite taste, various accomplishments, and the most perfect good breeding. He was eccentric, often querulous, entertaining a contempt for the generality of the world, which the politeness of his manners could not always conceal; but to those whom he liked most generous and friendly. Devoted at one time to pleasure, at another to literature, sometimes absorbed in play, sometimes in books, he was altogether one of the most accomplished, and when in good humour and surrounded by those who suited his fancy, one of the most agreeable men that could possibly exist.' Lord Charlemont's Life, i. 210. Hawkins writes (Life, p. 422) that 'over all his behaviour there beamed such a sunshine of cheerfulness and good-humour as communicated itself to all around him.' Mrs. Piozzi said of him:—'Topham Beauclerk (wicked and profligate as he wished to be accounted) was yet a man of very strict veracity. Oh Lord! how I did hate that horrid Beauclerk.' Hayward's Piozzi, i. 348. Rogers (Table-Talk, p. 40) said that 'Beauclerk was a strangely absent person.' He once went to dress for a dinner-party in his own house. 'He forgot all about his guests; thought that it was bed-time, and got into bed. His servant, coming to tell him that his guests were waiting for him, found him fast asleep.'

[735] It was to the Round-house that Captain Booth was first taken in Fielding's Amelia, Book i, chap. 2.

[736]

'Blends, in exception to all general rules, Your taste of follies with our scorn of fools.'

Pope, Moral Essays, ii. 275.

[737] In the college which The Club was to set up at St. Andrew's, Beauclerk was to have the chair of natural philosophy. Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773. Goldsmith, writing to Langton in 1771, says: 'Mr. Beauclerk is now going directly forward to become a second Boyle; deep in chymistry and physics.' Forster's Goldsmith, ii. 283. Boswell described to Temple, in 1775, Beauclerk's villa at Muswell Hill, with its 'observatory, laboratory for chymical experiments.' Boswell's Letters, p. 194.

[738] 'I'll purge, and leave sack, and live cleanly as a nobleman should do.' 1 Henry IV. Act v. sc. 4.

[739] 'Bishop. A cant word for a mixture of wine, oranges, and sugar.' Johnson's Dictionary.

[740] Mr. Langton has recollected, or Dr. Johnson repeated, the passage wrong. The lines are in Lord Lansdowne's Drinking Song to Sleep, and run thus:—

'Short, very short be then thy reign, For I'm in haste to laugh and drink again.' BOSWELL.

Lord Lansdowne was the Granville of Pope's couplet—

'But why then publish? Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write.'

Prologue to the Satires, 1.135.

[741] Boswell in Hebrides (Aug. 18, 1773) says that Johnson, on starting from Edinburgh, left behind in an open drawer in Boswell's house 'one volume of a pretty full and curious Diary of his life, of which I have a few fragments.' He also states (post, under Dec 9, 1784):—'I owned to him, that having accidentally seen them [two quarto volumes of his Life] I had read a great deal in them.' It would seem that he had also transcribed a portion.

[742] This is inconsistent with what immediately follows, for No. 39 on Sleep was published on March 20.

[743] Hawkesworth in the last number of The Adventurer says that he had help at first from A.; 'but this resource soon failing, I was obliged to carry on the publication alone, except some casual supplies, till I obtained from the gentlemen who have distinguished their papers by T and Z, such assistance as I most wished.' In a note he says that the papers signed Z are by the Rev. Mr. Warton. The papers signed A are written in a light style. In Southey's Cowper, i. 47, it is said that Bonnell Thornton wrote them.

[744] Boswell had read the passage carelessly. Statius is mentioned, but the writer goes on to quote Cowley, whose Latin lines C. B. has translated. Johnson's Works, iv. 10.

[745] Malone says that 'Johnson was fond of him, but latterly owned that Hawkesworth—who had set out a modest, humble man—was one of the many whom success in the world had spoiled. He was latterly, as Sir Joshua Reynolds told me, an affected insincere man, and a great coscomb in his dress. He had no literature whatever.' Prior's Malone, p. 441. See post, April 11 and May 7, 1773, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 3.

[746] 'Johnson's statement to Warton is definite and is borne out by internal evidence, if internal evidence can be needful when he had once made a definite statement. The papers signed Misargyrus, the first of which appeared on March 3, are all below his style. They were not, I feel sure, written by him, and are improperly given in the Oxford edition of his works. I do not find in them even any traces of his hand. The paper on Sleep, No. 39, is I am almost sure, partly his, but I believe it is not wholly. In the frequency of quotations in the first part of it I see another, and probably a younger author. The passage on the 'low drudgery of digesting dictionaries' is almost certainly his. Dr. Bathurst, perhaps, wrote the Essay, and Johnson corrected it. Whether it was Johnson's or not, it was published after the letter to Dr. Warton was written.

[747] See post, April 25, 1778, for an instance where Johnson's silence did not imply assent.

[748] 'One evening at the Club Johnson proposed to us the celebrating the birth of Mrs. Lennox's first literary child, as he called her book, [The Life of Harriet Stuart, a novel, published Dec. 1750] by a whole night spent in festivity. Our supper was elegant, and Johnson had directed that a magnificent hot apple-pie should make a part of it, and this he would have stuck with bay-leaves, because, forsooth, Mrs. Lennox was an authoress, and had written verses; and further, he had prepared for her a crown of laurel, with which, but not till he had invoked the Muses by some ceremonies of his own invention, he encircled her brows. About five Johnson's face shone with meridian splendour, though his drink had been only lemonade.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 286. See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's 'Collection,' and May 15, 1784.

[749] In a document in the possession of one of Cave's collateral descendants which I have seen dated May 3, 1754, and headed, 'Present state of the late Mr. Edward Cave's effects,' I found entered 'Magazine, 3,000. Daily Advertiser, 900.' The total value of the effects was 8,708.

[750] Johnson records of his friend that 'one of the last acts of reason which he exerted was fondly to press the hand that is now writing this little narrative.' Works, vi. 433.

[751] See Hawkins's Johnson, p. 189.

[752] Lord Chesterfield writing to his son in 1751 (Letters, iii. 136) said:—'People in high life are hardened to the wants and distresses of mankind, as surgeons are to their bodily pains; they see and hear of them all day long, and even of so many simulated ones, that they do not know which has are real, and which are not. Other sentiments are therefore to be applied to than those of mere justice and humanity; their favour must be captivated by the suaviter in modo; their love of ease disturbed by unwearied importunity; or their fears wrought upon by a decent intimation of implacable, cool resentment: this is the true fortiter in re! He was himself to experience an instance of the true fortiter in re.

[753] If Lord Chesterfield had read the last number of The Rambler (published in March, 1752) he could scarcely have flattered himself with these expectations. Johnson, after saying that he would not endeavour to overbear the censures of criticism by the influence of a patron, added:—'The supplications of an author never yet reprieved him a moment from oblivion; and, though greatness sometimes sheltered guilt, it can afford no protection to ignorance or dulness. Having hitherto attempted only the propagation of truth, I will not at last violate it by the confession of terrors which I do not feel; having laboured to maintain the dignity of virtue, I will not now degrade it by the meanness of dedication.'

[754] On Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, 1754. The World, by Adam Fitz-Adam, Jan. 1753 to Dec. 1765. The editor was Edward Moore. Among the contributors were the Earls of Chesterfield and Corke, Horace Walpole, R. O. Cambridge, and Soame Jenyns. See post, July 1, 1763.

[755] With these papers as a whole Johnson would have been highly offended. The anonymous writer hopes that his readers will not suspect him 'of being a hired and interested puff of this work.' 'I most solemnly protest,' he goes on to say, 'that neither Mr. Johnson, nor any booksellers have ever offered me the usual compliment of a pair of gloves or a bottle of wine.' It is a pretty piece of irony for a wealthy nobleman solemnly to protest that he has not been bribed by a poor author, whom seven years before he had repulsed from his door. But Chesterfield did worse than this. By way of recommending a work of so much learning and so much labour he tells a foolish story of an assignation that had failed 'between a fine gentleman and a fine lady.' The letter that had passed between them had been badly spelt, and they had gone to different houses. 'Such examples,' he wrote, 'really make one tremble; and will, I am convinced, determine my fair fellow-subjects and their adherents to adopt and scrupulously conform to Mr. Johnson's rules of true orthography.' Johnson, in the last year of his life, at a time of great weakness and depression, defended the roughness of his manner. 'I have done more good as I am. Obscenity and impiety have always been repressed in my company' (post, June 11, 1784).

[756] In the original 'Mr. Johnson.'

[757] In the original 'unnecessary foreign ornaments.'

[758] In the original, 'will now, and, I dare say.'

[759] Hawkins (Life, p. 191) says that Chesterfield, further to appease Johnson, sent to him Sir Thomas Robinson (see post, July 19, 1763), who was 'to apologise for his lordship's treatment of him, and to make him tenders of his future friendship and patronage. Sir Thomas, whose talent was flattery, was profuse in his commendations of Johnson and his writings, and declared that, were his circumstances other than they were, himself would settle 500 a year on him. 'And who are you,' asked Johnson, 'that talk thus liberally?' 'I am,' said the other, 'Sir Thomas Robinson, a Yorkshire baronet.' 'Sir,' replied Johnson, 'if the first peer of the realm were to make me such an offer, I would shew him the way down stairs.'

[760] Paradise Lost, ii. 112.

[761] Johnson, perhaps, was thinking of his interviews with Chesterfield, when in his Rambler on 'The Mischiefs of following a Patron' (No. 163) he wrote:—'If you, Mr. Rambler, have ever ventured your philosophy within the attraction of greatness, you know the force of such language, introduced with a smile of gracious tenderness, and impressed at the conclusion with an air of solemn sincerity.'

[762] Johnson said to Garrick:—'I have sailed a long and painful voyage round the world of the English language; and does he now send out two cock-boats to tow me into harbour?' Murphy's Johnson, p. 74. This metaphor may perhaps have been suggested to Johnson by Warburton. 'I now begin to see land, after having wandered, according to Mr. Warburton's phrase, in this vast sea of words.' Post, Feb. 1, 1755.

[763] See post, Nov. 22, 1779, and April 8, 1780. Sir Henry Ellis says that 'address' in Johnson's own copy of his letter to Lord Chesterfield is spelt twice with one d. Croker's Corres. ii. 44. In the series of Letters by Johnson given in Notes and Queries, 6th S. v, Johnson writes persuit (p. 325); 'I cannot butt (p. 342); 'to retain council' (p. 343); harrassed (p. 423); imbecillity (p. 482). In a letter to Nichols quoted by me, post, beginning of 1783, he writes ilness. He commonly, perhaps always, spelt Boswell Boswel, and Nichols's name in one series of letters he spelt Nichols, Nichol, and Nicol. Post, beginning of 1781, note.

[764] Dr. Johnson appeared to have had a remarkable delicacy with respect to the circulation of this letter; for Dr. Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury, informs me that, having many years ago pressed him to be allowed to read it to the second Lord Hardwicke, who was very desirous to hear it (promising at the same time, that no copy of it should be taken), Johnson seemed much pleased that it had attracted the attention of a nobleman of such a respectable character; but after pausing some time, declined to comply with the request, saying, with a smile, 'No, Sir; I have hurt the dog too much already;' or words to that purpose. BOSWELL.

[765] See post, June 4, 1781.

[766] In 1790, the year before the Life of Johnson came out, Boswell published this letter in a separate sheet of four quarto pages under the following title:—The celebrated Letter from Samuel Johnson, LL.D., to Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield; Now first published with Notes, by James Boswell, Esq., London. Printed by Henry Baldwin: for Charles Dilly in the Poultry, MDCCXC. Price Half-a-Guinea. Entered in the Hall-Book of the Company of Stationers. It belongs to the same impression as The Life of Johnson.

[767] 'Je chante le vainqueur des vainqueurs de la terre.' Boileau, L'Art potique, iii. 272.

[768] The following note is subjoined by Mr. Langton:—'Dr. Johnson, when he gave me this copy of his letter, desired that I would annex to it his information to me, that whereas it is said in the letter that "no assistance has been received," he did once receive from Lord Chesterfield the sum of ten pounds; but as that was so inconsiderable a sum, he thought the mention of it could not properly find place in a letter of the kind that this was.' BOSWELL. 'This surely is an unsatisfactory excuse,' writes Mr. Croker. He read Johnson's letter carelessly, as the rest of his note shews. Johnson says, that during the seven years that had passed since he was repulsed from Chesterfield's door he had pushed on his work without one act of assistance. These ten pounds, we may feel sure, had been received before the seven years began to run. No doubt they had been given in 1747 as an acknowledgement of the compliment paid to Chesterfield in the Plan. He had at first been misled by Chesterfield's one act of kindness, but he had long had his eyes opened. Like the shepherd in Virgil (Eclogues, viii. 43) he could say:—'Nunc scio quid sit Amor.'

[769] In this passage Dr. Johnson evidently alludes to the loss of his wife. We find the same tender recollection recurring to his mind upon innumerable occasions: and, perhaps no man ever more forcibly felt the truth of the sentiment so elegantly expressed by my friend Mr. Malone, in his Prologue to Mr. Jephson's tragedy of JULIA [Julia or the Italian Lover was acted for the first time on April 17, 1787. Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 354]:—

'Vain—wealth, and fame, and fortune's fostering care, If no fond breast the splendid blessings share; And, each day's bustling pageantry once past, There, only there, our bliss is found at last.' BOSWELL.

Three years earlier, when his wife was dying, he had written in one of the last Ramblers (No 203):—'It is necessary to the completion of every good, that it be timely obtained; for whatever comes at the close of life will come too late to give much delight ... What we acquire by bravery or science, by mental or corporal diligence, comes at last when we cannot communicate, and therefore cannot enjoy it.' Chesterfield himself was in no happy state. Less than a month before he received Johnson's letter he wrote (Works, iii. 308):—'For these six months past, it seems as if all the complaints that ever attacked heads had joined to overpower mine. Continual noises, headache, giddiness, and impenetrable deafness; I could not stoop to write; and even reading, the only resource of the deaf, was painful to me.' He wrote to his son a year earlier (Letters, iv. 43), 'Reading, which was always a pleasure to me in the time even of my greatest dissipation, is now become my only refuge; and I fear I indulge it too much at the expense of my eyes. But what can I do? I must do something. I cannot bear absolute idleness; my ears grow every day more useless to me, my eyes consequently more necessary. I will not hoard them like a miser, but will rather risk the loss than not enjoy the use of them.'

[770] 'The English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow.' Johnson's Works v. 51.

[771] Upon comparing this copy with that which Dr. Johnson dictated to me from recollection, the variations are found to be so slight, that this must be added to the many other proofs which he gave of the wonderful extent and accuracy of his memory. To gratify the curious in composition, I have deposited both the copies in the British Museum. BOSWELL.

[772] Soon after Edwards's Canons of Criticism came out, Johnson was dining at Tonson the Bookseller's with Hayman the Painter and some more company. Hayman related to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that the conversation having turned upon Edwards's book, the gentlemen praised it much, and Johnson allowed its merit. But when they went farther, and appeared to put that author upon a level with Warburton, 'Nay, (said Johnson,) he has given him some smart hits to be sure; but there is no proportion between the two men; they must not be named together. A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.' BOSWELL. Johnson in his Preface to Shakespeare (Works, v. 141) wrote:—'Dr. Warburton's chief assailants are the authors of The Canons of Criticism, and of The Revisal of Shakespeare's Text.... The one stings like a fly, sucks a little blood, takes a gay flutter and returns for more; the other bites like a viper.... When I think on one with his confederates, I remember the danger of Coriolanus, who was afraid that "girls with spits, and boys with stones, should slay him in puny battle;" when the other crosses my imagination, I remember the prodigy in Macbeth:

"A falcon tow'ring in his pride of place, Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd."

Let me, however, do them justice. One is a wit and one a scholar.'

[773] To Johnson might be applied what he himself said of Dryden:—'He appears to have known in its whole extent the dignity of his character, and to have set a very high value on his own powers and performances.' Works, vii. 291.

[774] In the original Yet mark.

[775] In the original Toil.

[776] In his Dictionary he defined patron as 'commonly a wretch who supports with insolence and is paid with flattery.' This definition disappears in the Abridgement, but remains in the fourth edition.

[777] Chesterfield, when he read Johnson's letter to Dodsley, was acting up to the advice that he had given his own son six years earlier (Letters, ii. 172):—'When things of this kind [bons mots] happen to be said of you, the most prudent way is to seem not to suppose that they are meant at you, but to dissemble and conceal whatever degree of anger you may feel inwardly: and, should they be so plain, that you cannot be supposed ignorant of their meaning, so join in the laugh of the company against yourself; acknowledge the hit to be a fair one, and the jest a good one, and play off the whole thing in seeming good humour; but by no means reply in the same way; which only shows that you are hurt, and publishes the victory which you might have concealed.'

[778] See post, March 23, 1783, where Johnson said that 'Lord Chesterfield was dignified, but he was insolent;' and June 27, 1784, where he said that 'his manner was exquisitely elegant.'

[779]

'Whate'er of mongrel no one class admits, A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.'

Pope's Dunciad, iv. 90.

'A true choice spirit we admit; With wits a fool, with fools a wit.'

Churchill's Duellist' Book iii.

'The solemn fop, significant and budge; A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.'

Cowper's Poems, Conversation, 1. 299.

According to Rebecca Warner (Original Letters, p. 204), Johnson telling Joseph Fowke about his refusal to dedicate his Dictionary to Chesterfield, said: 'Sir, I found I must have gilded a rotten post.'

[780] That collection of letters cannot be vindicated from the serious charge of encouraging, in some passages, one of the vices most destructive to the good order and comfort of society, which his Lordship represents as mere fashionable gallantry; and, in others, of inculcating the base practice of dissimulation, and recommending, with disproportionate anxiety, a perpetual attention to external elegance of manners. But it must, at the same time, be allowed, that they contain many good precepts of conduct, and much genuine information upon life and manners, very happily expressed; and that there was considerable merit in paying so much attention to the improvement of one who was dependent upon his Lordship's protection; it has, probably, been exceeded in no instance by the most exemplary parent; and though I can by no means approve of confounding the distinction between lawful and illicit offspring, which is, in effect, insulting the civil establishment of our country, to look no higher; I cannot help thinking it laudable to be kindly attentive to those, of whose existence we have, in any way, been the cause. Mr. Stanhope's character has been unjustly represented as diametrically opposite to what Lord Chesterfield wished him to be. He has been called dull, gross, and awkward; but I knew him at Dresden, when he was Envoy to that court; and though he could not boast of the graces, he was, in truth, a sensible, civil, well-behaved man. BOSWELL. See post, March 28, 1775, under April, 29, 1776, and June 27, 1784.

[781] Chesterfield's Letters, iii. 129.

[782] Now one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State. BOSWELL. Afterwards Viscount Melville.

[783] Probably George, second Earl of Macclesfield, who was, in 1752, elected President of the Royal Society. CROKER. Horace Walpole (Letters, ii. 321) mentions him as 'engaged to a party for finding out the longitude.'

[784] In another work (Dr. Johnson: His Friends and his Critics, p. 214), I have shewn that Lord Chesterfield's 'Respectable Hottentot' was not Johnson. From the beginning of 1748 to the end of 1754 Chesterfield had no dealings of any kind with Johnson. At no time had there been the slightest intimacy between the great nobleman and the poor author. Chesterfield had never seen Johnson eat. The letter in which the character is drawn opens with the epigram:

Non amo te, Sabidi, nee possum dicere quare, Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.

Chesterfield goes on to show 'how it is possible not to love anybody, and yet not to know the reason why.... How often,' he says, 'have I, in the course of my life, found myself in this situation with regard to many of my acquaintance whom I have honoured and respected, without being able to love.' He then instances the case of the man whom he describes as a respectable Hottentot. It is clear that he is writing of a man whom he knows well and who has some claim upon his affection. Twice he says that it is impossible to love him. The date of this letter is Feb. 28, 1751, more than three years after Johnson had for the last time waited in Chesterfield's outward rooms. Moreover the same man is described in three other letters (Sept. 22, 1749; Nov. 1749; and May 27, 1753), and described as one with whom Chesterfield lived on terms of intimacy. In the two former of these letters he is called Mr. L. Lyttelton did not become Sir George Lyttelton till Sept. 14, 1751. He was raised to the peerage in 1757. Horace Walpole (Reign of George III, i. 256) says of him:—'His ignorance of mankind, want of judgment, with strange absence and awkwardness, involved him in mistakes and ridicule.' Had Chesterfield's letter been published when it was written, no one in all likelihood would have so much as dreamt that Johnson was aimed at. But it did not come before the world till twenty-three years later, when Johnson's quarrel with Chesterfield was known to every one, when Johnson himself was at the very head of the literary world, and when his peculiarities had become a matter of general interest.

[785] About four years after this time Gibbon, on his return to England, became intimate with Mr. and Mrs. Mallet. He thus wrote of them:—'The most useful friends of my father were the Mallets; they received me with civility and kindness at first on his account, and afterwards on my own; and (if I may use Lord Chesterfield's words) I was soon domesticated in their house. Mr. Mallet, a name among the English poets, is praised by an unforgiving enemy for the ease and elegance of his conversation, and his wife was not destitute of wit or learning.' Gibbon's Misc. Works, i 115. The 'unforgiving enemy' was Johnson, who wrote (Works, viii. 468):—'His conversation was elegant and easy. The rest of his character may, without injury to his memory, sink into silence.' Johnson once said:—'I have seldom met with a man whose colloquial ability exceeded that of Mallet.' Johnson's Works, 1787, xi. 214. See post, March 27, 1772, and April 28, 1783; and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 10, 1773.

[786] Johnson had never read Bolingbroke's Philosophy. 'I have never read Bolingbroke's impiety,' he said (post, under March 1, 1758). In the memorable sentence that he, notwithstanding, pronounced upon the author, he exposed himself to the retort which he had recorded in his Life of Boerhaave (Works, vi. 277). 'As Boerhaave was sitting in a common boat, there arose a conversation among the passengers upon the impious and pernicious doctrine of Spinosa, which, as they all agreed, tends to the utter overthrow of all religion. Boerhaave sat and attended silently to this discourse for some time, till one of the company ... instead of confuting the positions of Spinosa by argument began to give a loose to contumelious language and virulent invectives, which Boerhaave was so little pleased with, that at last he could not forbear asking him, whether he had ever read the author he declaimed against.'

[787] Lord Shelburne said that 'Bolingbroke was both a political and personal coward.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 29.

[788] It was in the summer of this year that Murphy became acquainted with Johnson. (See post, 1760.) 'The first striking sentence that he heard from him was in a few days after the publication of Lord Bolingbroke's posthumous works. Mr. Garrick asked him, "if he had seen them." "Yes, I have seen them." "What do you think of them?" "Think of them!" He made a long pause, and then replied: "Think of them! a scoundrel and a coward! A scoundrel who spent his life in charging a gun against Christianity; and a coward, who was afraid of hearing the report of his own gun; but left half-a-crown to a hungry Scotchman to draw the trigger after his death!" His mind, at this time strained and over laboured by constant exertion, called for an interval of repose and indolence. But indolence was the time of danger; it was then that his spirits, not employed abroad, turned with inward hostility against himself.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 79, and Piozzi's Anec., p. 235. Adam Smith, perhaps, had this saying of Johnson's in mind, when in 1776 he refused the request of the dying Hume to edit after his death his Dialogues on Natural Religion. Hume wrote back:—'I think your scruples groundless. Was Mallet anywise hurt by his publication of Lord Bolingbroke? He received an office afterwards from the present King and Lord Bute, the most prudish man in the world.' Smith did not yield. J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 491.

[789] According to Horace Walpole (Letters, ii. 374), Pelham died of a surfeit. As Johnson says (Works, viii. 310):—'The death of great men is not always proportioned to the lustre of their lives. The death of Pope was imputed by some of his friends to a silver saucepan, in which it was his delight to heat potted lampreys.' Fielding in The Voyage to Lisbon (Works, x. 201) records:—'I was at the worst on that memorable day when the public lost Mr. Pelham. From that day I began slowly, as it were, to draw my feet out of the grave.' '"I shall now have no more peace," the King said with a sigh; being told of his Minister's death.' Walpole's George II, i. 378.

[790] 'Thomas Warton, the younger brother of Dr. Warton, was a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. He was Poetry Professor from 1758 to 1768. Mant's Warton, i. xliv. In 1785 he was made Poet Laureate. Ib. lxxxiii. Mr. Mant, telling of an estrangement between Johnson and the Wartons, says that he had heard 'on unquestionable authority that Johnson had lamented, with tears in his eyes, that the Wartons had not called on him for the last four years; and that he has been known to declare that Tom Warton was the only man of genius whom he knew without a heart.' Ib. xxxix.

[791] 'Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen, the first edition of which was now just published.' WARTON.

[792] 'Hughes published an edition of Spenser.' WARTON. See Johnson's Works, vii.476.

[793] 'His Dictionary.' WARTON.

[794] 'He came to Oxford within a fortnight, and stayed about five weeks. He lodged at a house called Kettel hall, near Trinity College. But during this visit at Oxford, he collected nothing in the libraries for his Dictionary.' WARTON.

[795] Pitt this year described, in the House of Commons, a visit that he had paid to Oxford the summer before. He and his friends 'were at the window of the Angel Inn; a lady was desired to sing God save great George our King. The chorus was re-echoed by a set of young lads drinking at a college over the way [Queen's], but with additions of rank treason.' Walpole's George II, i. 413.

[796] A Fellow of Pembroke College, of Johnson's time, described the college servants as in 'the state of servitude the most miserable that can be conceived amongst so many masters.' He says that 'the kicks and cuffs and bruises they submit to entitle them, when those who were displeased relent,' to the compensation that is afforded by draughts of ale. 'There is not a college servant, but if he have learnt to suffer, and to be officious, and be inclined to tipple, may forget his cares in a gallon or two of ale every day of his life.' Dr. Johnson:—His Friends, &c., p. 45.

[797] It was against the Butler that Johnson, in his college days, had written an epigram:—

'Quid mirum Maro quod digne canit arma virumque, Quid quod putidulum nostra Camoena sonat? Limosum nobis Promus dat callidus haustum; Virgilio vires uva Falerna dedit. Carmina vis nostri scribant meliora Poetae? Ingenium jubeas purior haustus alat.'

[798] Pope, Eloisa to Abelard, 1. 38.

[799] Johnson or Warton misquoted the line. It stands:—'Mittit aromaticas vallis Saronica nubes.' Husbands's Miscellany, p. 112.

[800] De Quincey (Works, xiii. 162), after saying that Johnson did not understand Latin 'with the elaborate and circumstantial accuracy required for the editing critically of a Latin classic,' continues:—'But if he had less than that, he also had more: he possessed that language in a way that no extent of mere critical knowledge could confer. He wrote it genially, not as one translating into it painfully from English, but as one using it for his original organ of thinking. And in Latin verse he expressed himself at times with the energy and freedom of a Roman.'

[801] Mr. Jorden. See ante, p. 59.

[802] Boswell (Hebrides, Aug. 19, 1773) says that Johnson looked at the ruins at St. Andrew's 'with a strong indignation. I happened to ask where John Knox was buried. Dr. Johnson burst out, "I hope in the highway, I have been looking at his reformations."'

[803] In Reasmus Philipps's Diary it is recorded that in Pembroke College early in every November 'was kept a great Gaudy [feast], when the Master dined in public, and the juniors (by an ancient custom they were obliged to observe) went round the fire in the hall.' Notes & Queries, 2nd S. x. 443.

[804] Communicated by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Warton, who had the original. BOSWELL. In the imaginary college which was to be opened by The Club at St. Andrew's, Chambers was to be the professor of the law of England. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773; also post, July 5, 1773 and March 30, 1774.

[805] I presume she was a relation of Mr. Zachariah Williams, who died in his eighty-third year, July 12, 1755. When Dr. Johnson was with me at Oxford, in 1755, he gave to the Bodleian Library a thin quarto of twenty-one pages, a work in Italian, with an English translation on the opposite page. The English titlepage is this: 'An Account of an Attempt to ascertain the Longitude at Sea, by an exact Variation of the Magnetical Needle, &c. By Zachariah Williams. London, printed for Dodsley, 1755.' The English translation, from the strongest internal marks, is unquestionably the work of Johnson. In a blank leaf, Johnson has written the age, and time of death, of the authour Z. Williams, as I have said above. On another blank leaf, is pasted a paragraph from a newspaper, of the death and character of Williams, which is plainly written by Johnson. He was very anxious about placing this book in the Bodleian: and, for fear of any omission or mistake, he entered, in the great Catalogue, the title-page of it with his own hand.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

In this statement there is a slight mistake. The English account, which was written by Johnson, was the original the Italian was a translation, done by Baretti. See post, end of 1755. MALONE. Johnson has twice entered in his own hand that 'Zachariah Williams, died July 12, 1755, in his eighty-third year,' and also on the title-page that he was 82.

[806] See ante, p. 133.

[807] The compliment was, as it were, a mutual one. Mr. Wise urged Thomas Warton to get the degree conferred before the Dictionary was published. 'It is in truth,' he wrote, 'doing ourselves more honour than him, to have such a work done by an Oxford hand, and so able a one too, and will show that we have not lost all regard for good letters, as has been too often imputed to us by our enemies.' Wooll's Warton, p. 228.

[808] 'In procuring him the degree of Master of Arts by diploma at Oxford.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[809] 'Lately fellow of Trinity College, and at this time Radclivian librarian, at Oxford. He was a man of very considerable learning, and eminently skilled in Roman and Anglo-Saxon antiquities. He died in 1767.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[810] No doubt The Rambler.

[811] 'Collins (the poet) was at this time at Oxford, on a visit to Mr. Warton; but labouring under the most deplorable languor of body, and dejection of mind.' WARTON. BOSWELL. Johnson, writing to Dr. Warton on March 8, 1754, thus speaks of Collins:-'I knew him a few years ago full of hopes, and full of projects, versed in many languages, high in fancy, and strong in retention. This busy and forcible mind is now under the government of those who lately would not have been able to comprehend the least and most narrow of its designs.' Wooll's Warton 1. 219. Again, on Dec. 24, 1754:—'Poor dear Collins! Let me know whether you think it would give him pleasure if I should write to him. I have often been near his state, and therefore have it in great commiseration.' Ib. p. 229. Again, on April 15, 1756:—'That man is no common loss. The moralists all talk of the uncertainty of fortune, and the transitoriness of beauty: but it is yet more dreadful to consider that the powers of the mind are equally liable to change, that understanding may make its appearance and depart, that it may blaze and expire.' Ib. p. 239. See post, beginning of 1763.

[812] 'Of publishing a volume of observations on the best of Spenser's works. It was hindered by my taking pupils in this College.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[813] 'Young students of the lowest rank at Oxford are so called.' WARTON.—BOSWELL. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 28, 1773.

[814] 'His Dictionary.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[815] Johnson says (Works, viii. 403) that when Collins began to feel the approaches of his dreadful malady 'with the usual weakness of men so diseased he eagerly snatched that temporary relief with which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce.'

[816] 'Petrarch, finding nothing in the word eclogue of rural meaning, supposed it to be corrupted by the copiers, and therefore called his own pastorals aeglogues, by which he meant to express the talk of goatherds, though it will mean only the talk of goats. This new name was adopted by subsequent writers.' Johnson's Works, viii. 390.

[817] 'Of the degree at Oxford.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[818] This verse is from the long-lost Bellerophon, a tragedy by Euripides. It is preserved by Suidas. CHARLES BURNEY. 'Alas! but wherefore alas? Man is born to sorrow.'

[819]

'Sento venir per allegrezza un tuono Que frmer l'aria, e rimbombar fa l'onrle:— Odo di squille,' &c.

Orlando Furioso. c. xlvi. s. 2.

[820] 'His degree had now past, according to the usual form, the surrages of the heads of Colleges; but was not yet finally granted by the University. It was carried without a single dissentient voice.' WARTON. BOSWELL.

[821] 'On Spenser.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[822] Lord Eldon wrote of him:—'Poor Tom Warton! He was a tutor at Trinity; at the beginning of every term he used to send to his pupils to know whether they would wish to attend lecture that term.' Twiss's Eldon, iii. 302.

[823] The fields north of Oxford.

[824] 'Of the degree.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[825] 'Principal of St. Mary Hall at Oxford. He brought with him the diploma from Oxford.' WARTON.—BOSWELL. Dr. King (Anec. p. 196) says that he was one of the Jacobites who were presented to the Pretender when, in September 1750, he paid a stealthy visit to England. The Pretender in 1783 told Sir Horace Mann that he was in London in that very month and year and had met fifty of his friends, among whom was the Earl of Westmoreland, the future Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Mahon's England, iv. II. Hume places the visit in 1753. Burton's Hume, ii. 462. See also in Boswell's Hebrides, the account of the Young Pretender. In 1754, writes Lord Shelburne, 'Dr. King in his speech upon opening the Radcliffe Library at Oxford, before a full theatre introduced three times the word Redeat, pausing each time for a considerable space, during which the most unbounded applause shook the theatre, which was filled with a vast body of peers, members of parliament, and men of property. Soon after the rebellion [of 1745], speaking of the Duke of Cumberland, he described him as a man, qui timet omnia prater Deum. I presented this same Dr. King to George III. in 1760.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 35.

[826] 'I suppose Johnson means that my kind intention of being the first to give him the good news of the degree being granted was frustrated, because Dr. King brought it before my intelligence arrived.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[827] Dr. Huddesford, President of Trinity College.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[828] Extracted from the Convocation-Register, Oxford. BOSWELL.

[829] The Earl of Arran, 'the last male of the illustrious House of Ormond,' was the third Chancellor in succession that that family had given to the University. The first of the three, the famous Duke of Ormond, had, on his death in 1688, been succeeded by his grandson, the young Duke. (Macaulay's England, iii. 159). He, on his impeachment and flight from England in 1715, was succeeded by his brother, the Earl of Arran. Richardson, writing in 1754 (Carres. ii. 198), said of the University, 'Forty years ago it chose a Chancellor in despite of the present reigning family, whose whole merit was that he was the brother of a perjured, yet weak, rebel.' On Arran's death in 1758, the Earl of Westmoreland, 'old dull Westmoreland' as Walpole calls him (Letters, i. 290), was elected. It was at his installation that Johnson clapped his hands till they were sore at Dr. King's speech (post, 1759). 'I hear,' wrote Walpole of what he calls the coronation at Oxford, 'my Lord Westmoreland's own retinue was all be-James'd with true-blue ribands.' Letters, iii. 237. It is remarkable that this nobleman, who in early life was a Whig, had commanded 'the body of troops which George I. had been obliged to send to Oxford, to teach the University the only kind of passive obedience which they did not approve.' Walpole's George II, iii. 167.

[830] The original is in my possession, BOSWELL.

[831] We may conceive what a high gratification it must have been to Johnson to receive his diploma from the hands of the great Dr. KING, whose principles were so congenial with his own. BOSWELL.

[832] Johnson here alludes, I believe, to the charge of disloyalty brought against the University at the time of the famous contested election for Oxfordshire in 1754. A copy of treasonable verses was found, it was said, near the market-place in Oxford, and the grand jury made a presentment thereon. 'We must add,' they concluded, 'that it is the highest aggravation of this crime to have a libel of a nature so false and scandalous, published in a famous University, &c. Gent. Mag. xxiv. 339. A reward of 200 was offered in the London Gazette for the detection of the writer or publisher,' Ib. p. 377.

[833] A single letter was a single piece of paper; a second piece of paper, however small, or any inclosure constituted a double letter; it was not the habit to prepay the postage. The charge for a single letter to Oxford at this time was three-pence, which was gradually increased till in 1812 it was eight-pence. Penny Cyclo. xviii. 455.

[834] 'The words in Italicks are allusions to passages in Mr. Warton's poem, called The Progress of Discontent, now lately published.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

'And now intent on new designs, Sighs for a fellowship—and fines.

* * * * *

These fellowships are pretty things, We live indeed like petty kings.

* * * * *

And ev'ry night I went to bed, Without a Modus in my head.'

Warton's Poems, ii. 192.

For modus and fines see post, April 25, 1778.

[835] Lucretius, i. 23

[836]

'Hence ye prophane; I hate ye all, Both the Great Vulgar and the Small.'

Cowley's Imit. of Horace, Odes, iii. 1.

[837] Journal Britannique. It was to Maty that Gibbon submitted the manuscript of his first work. Gibbon's Misc. Works, i. 123.

[838] Maty, as Prof. de Morgan pointed out, had in the autumn of 1755 been guilty of 'wilful suppression of the circumstances of Johnson's attack on Lord Chesterfield.' In an article in his Journal he regrets the absence from the Dictionary of the Plan. 'Elle et pargn l'auteur la composition d'une nouvelle prface, qui ne contient qu'en partie les mmes choses, et qu'on est tent de regarder comme destine faire perdre de vue quelques-unes des obligations que M. Johnson avait contractes, et le Mcne qu'il avait choisi.' Notes and Queries, 2nd S. iv. 341.

[839] He left London in 1751 and returned to it in 1760. Memoirs of Dr. Barney, i. 85, 133.

[840] See ante, p. 183, note 2.

[841] Sir John Hawkins, p. 341, inserts two notes as having passed formally between Andrew Millar and Johnson, to the above effect. I am assured this was not the case. In the way of incidental remark it was a pleasant play of raillery. To have deliberately written notes in such terms would have been morose. BOSWELL.

[842] 'Talking one day of the patronage the great sometimes affect to give to literature and literary men, "Andrew Millar," says Johnson, "is the Maecenas of the age."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 200. Horace Walpole, writing on May 18, 1749 (Letters ii. 163), says:—'Millar the bookseller has done very generously by Fielding; finding Tom Jones, for which he had given him six hundred pounds, sell so greatly, he has since given him another hundred.' Hume writing on July 6, 1759, says:—'Poor Andrew Millar is declared bankrupt; his debts amount to above 40,000, and it is said his creditors will not get above three shillings in the pound. All the world allows him to have been diligent and industrious; but his misfortunes are ascribed to the extravagance of his wife, a very ordinary case in this city.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 64. He must soon have recovered his position, for Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 434) met Millar at Harrogate in 1763. In the inn were several baronets, and great squires, members of parliament, who paid Millar civility for the use of his two newspapers which came to him by every post. 'Yet when he appeared in the morning, in his well-worn suit of clothes, they could not help calling him Peter Pamphlet; for the generous patron of Scotch authors, with his city wife and her niece, were sufficiently ridiculous when they came into good company.' Mr. Croker (Boswell, p. 630) says that Millar was the bookseller described by Johnson, post, April 24, 1779. as 'habitually and equably drunk.' He is, I think, mistaken.

[843] His Dictionary. BOSWELL.

[844] 'A translation of Apollonius Rhodius was now intended by Mr. Warton.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[845] Kettel Hall is an ancient tenement built about the year 1615 by Dr. Ralph Kettel, President of Trinity College, for the accommodation of commoners of that Society. It adjoins the College; and was a few years ago converted into a private house. MALONE.

[846] 'At Ellsfield, a village three miles from Oxford.' WARTON.—BOSWELL.

[847] It was published on April 15, 1755, in two vols. folio, price 4 10s. bound. Johnson's Works, v. 51.

[848] 'Booksellers concerned in his Dictionary.' WARTON.—BOSWELL. 'June 12, Mr. Paul Knapton, bookseller. June 18, Thos. Longman, Esq., bookseller.' Gent. Mag., xxv. 284. The 'Esq.' perhaps is a sign that even so early as 1755 the Longmans ranked higher than most of their brethren.

[849] 1. Own not in the original. Johnson's Works, v. 36.

[850] 'I have not always executed my own scheme, or satisfied my own expectations.' Johnson's Works, p. 41.

[851] In the Plan of an English Dictionary (ib. p. 16) Johnson, writing of 'the word perfection' says:—'Though in its philosophical and exact sense it can be of little use among human beings, it is often so much degraded from its original signification, that the academicians have inserted in their work, the perfection of a language, and, with a little more licentiousness, might have prevailed on themselves to have added the perfection of a Dictionary.' In the Preface to the fourth edition he writes:—'He that undertakes to compile a Dictionary undertakes that, which if it comprehends the full extent of his design, he knows himself unable to perform.' Ib. p. 52.

[852] Ib. p. 51.

[853] See post, under May 19, 1777.

[854] See ante, p. 186, note 5.

[855] He defines both towards the wind. The definitions remain unchanged in the fourth edition, the last corrected by Johnson, and also in the third edition of the abridgment, though this abridgment was made by him. Pastern also remains unaltered in this latter edition. In the fourth edition he corrected it. 'The drawback of his character,' wrote Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'is entertaining prejudices on very slight foundations; giving an opinion, perhaps, first at random, but from its being contradicted he thinks himself obliged always to support it, or, if he cannot support, still not to acquiesce. Of this I remember an instance of a defect or forgetfulness in his Dictionary. I asked him how he came not to correct it in the second edition. "No," says he, "they made so much of it that I would not flatter them by altering it."' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 461.

[856] In his Preface (Works, v. 50) he anticipated errors and laughter. 'A few wild blunders and risible absurdities, from which no work of such multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly with laughter and harden ignorance into contempt' In a letter written nearly thirty years later he said:—'Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 406.

[857] See post, under July 20, 1762.

[858] 'Network. Anything reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.' Reticulated is defined 'Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.'

[859] 'That part of my work on which I expect malignity most frequently to fasten is the Explanation.... Such is the fate of hapless lexicography, that not only darkness, but light, impedes and distresses it; things may be not only too little, but too much known, to be happily illustrated.' Johnson's Works, v. 34.

[860] In the original, 'to admit a definition.' Ib.

[861] In the original, 'drier.' Ib. 38.

[862] 'Tory. (A cant term derived, I suppose, from an Irish word signifying a savage.) One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of England: opposed to a whig.'

[863] 'Whig. The name of a faction.' Lord Marchmont (_post_, May 12, 1778) said that 'Johnson was the first that brought Whig and Tory into a dictionary.' In this he was mistaken. In the fourth edition of Dr. Adam Littleton's _Linguae Latinae Liber Dictionarius_, published in 1703, _Whig_ is translated _Homo fanaticus, factiosus; Whiggism, Enthusiasmus, Perduellio; Tory, bog-trotter or Irish robber, Praedo Hibernicus; Tory_ opposed to whig, _Regiarum partium assertor_. These definitions are not in the first edition, published in 1678. _A pensioner_ or _bride_ [bribed] _person_ is rendered _Mercenarius.

[864] 'Pension. An allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.' Pensioner is defined as 'One who is supported by an allowance paid at the will of another; a dependant.' These definitions remain in the fourth edition, corrected by Johnson in 1773.

[865] 'Oats. A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.' See post, March 23, 1776, and March 21, 1783. 'Did you ever hear,' wrote Sir Walter Scott, 'of Lord Elibank's reply when Johnson's famous definition of oats was pointed out first to him. "Very true, and where will you find such men and such horses?"' Croker's Carres, ii. 35.

[866] He thus defines Excise: 'A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom Excise is paid.' The Commissioners of Excise being offended by this severe reflection, consulted Mr. Murray, then Attorney General, to know whether redress could be legally obtained. I wished to have procured for my readers a copy of the opinion which he gave, and which may now be justly considered as history; but the mysterious secrecy of office, it seems, would not permit it. I am, however, informed, by very good authority, that its import was, that the passage might be considered as actionable; but that it would be more prudent in the board not to prosecute. Johnson never made the smallest alteration in this passage. We find he still retained his early prejudice against Excise; for in The Idler, No. 65, there is the following very extraordinary paragraph: 'The authenticity of Clarendon's history, though printed with the sanction of one of the first Universities of the world, had not an unexpected manuscript been happily discovered, would, with the help of factious credulity, have been brought into question by the two lowest of all human beings, a Scribbler for a party, and a Commissioner of Excise.'—The persons to whom he alludes were Mr. John Oldmixon, and George Ducket, Esq. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker obtained a copy of the case.

'Case for the opinion of Mr. Attorney-General.

'Mr. Samuel Johnson has lately published "A Dictionary of the English Language," in which are the following words:—

'"EXCISE, n.s. A hateful tax levied upon commodities and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but by wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid."

'The author's definition being observed by the Commissioners of Excise, they desire the favour of your opinion. "Qu. Whether it will not be considered as a libel, and if so, whether it is not proper to proceed against the author, printers, and publishers thereof, or any and which of them, by information, or how otherwise?"

'I am of opinion that it is a libel. But under all the circumstances, I should think it better to give him an opportunity of altering his definition; and, in case he do not, to threaten him with an information.

'29th Nov. 1755. W. Murray.' In one of the Parl. Debates of 1742 Johnson makes Pitt say that 'it is probable that we shall detect bribery descending through a long subordination of wretches combined against the public happiness, from the prime minister surrounded by peers and officers of state to the exciseman dictating politics amidst a company of mechanics whom he debauches at the public expense, and lists in the service of his master with the taxes which he gathers.' Parl. Hist., xii. 570. See ante, p. 36, note 5.

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