The Life Of Johnson, Volume 3 of 6
by Boswell
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[432] 'It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him he is at the end of his nature.' Sir Thomas Browne quoted in Johnson's Works, vi. 485. See post, April 15, 1778, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 12, 1773.

[433] In the last number of The Idler Johnson says:—'There are few things not purely evil of which we can say without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last.... The secret horrour of the last is inseparable from a thinking being whose life is limited, and to whom death is dreadful.'

[434] In the first edition for scarce any man we find almost no man. See ante, March 20, 1776, note.

[435] Bacon, in his Essay on Death, says:—'It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak but it mates and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him.' In the De Aug. Sci. vi. 3. 12, he says:—'Non invenias inter humanos affetum tam pusillum, qui si intendatur paullo vehementius, non mortis metum superet.'

[436] Johnson, in his Lives of Addison and Parnell (Works, vii. 399, 449), mentions that they drank too freely. See post, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[437] Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. 3d edit. p. 240 [Sept. 22]. BOSWELL.

[438] In the Life of Addison (Works, vii. 444) he says:—'The necessity of complying with times, and of sparing persons, is the great impediment of biography. History may be formed from permanent monuments and records; but Lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost for ever. What is known can seldom be immediately told; and when it might be told, it is no longer known. The delicate features of the mind, the nice discriminations of character, and the minute peculiarities of conduct, are soon obliterated; and it is surely better that caprice, obstinacy, frolick and folly, however they might delight in the description, should be silently forgotten, than that, by wanton merriment and unseasonable detection, a pang should be given to a widow, a daughter, a brother, or a friend. As the process of these narratives is now bringing me among my contemporaries, I begin to feel myself "walking upon ashes under which the fire is not extinguished," and coming to the time of which it will be proper rather to say "nothing that is false, than all that is true."' See ante, i. 9, and 30.

[439] Dr. Taylor was very ready to make this admission, because the party with which he was connected was not in power. There was then some truth in it, owing to the pertinacity of factious clamour. Had he lived till now, it would have been impossible for him to deny that his Majesty possesses the warmest affection of his people. BOSWELL. See post, March 21, 1783.

[440] The Duke of York in 1788, speaking in the House of Lords on the King's illness, said:—'He was confident that his Royal Highness [the Prince of Wales] understood too well the sacred principles which seated the House of Brunswick on the throne of Great Britain ever to assume or exercise any power, be his claim what it might, not derived from the will of the people, expressed by their representatives, and their lordships in parliament assembled.' Parl. Hist. xxvii. 678.

[441] See ante, i. 430.

[442] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 18, 1773, and post, under date of Sept. 9, 1779, note.

[443] 'The return of my birth-day,' he wrote in 1773, 'if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.' Piozzi Letters, i. 134. In 1781 he viewed the day with calmness, if not with cheerfulness. He writes:—'I rose, breakfasted, and gave thanks at church for my creation, preservation and redemption. As I came home, I thought I had never begun any period of life so placidly. I have always been accustomed to let this day pass unnoticed, but it came this time into my mind that some little festivity was not improper. I had a dinner; and invited Allen and Levet.' Pr. and Med. p. 198. In 1783 he again had 'a little dinner,' and invited four friends to keep the day. Croker's Boswell, p. 739. At Streatham the day, it would seem, was always kept. Mrs. Piozzi writes (Anec. p. 211):—'On the birthday of our eldest daughter, and that of our friend, Dr. Johnson, the 17th and 18th of September, we every year made up a little dance and supper to divert our servants and their friends.'

[444] The son of a Mr. Coxeter, 'a gentleman,' says Johnson, 'who was once my friend,' enlisted in the service of the East India Company. Johnson asked Mr. Thrale to use his influence to get his discharge. Piozzi Letters, i. 33.

[445] The bookseller whom Johnson beat, ante, i. 154.

[446] 'When a well-known author published his poems in the year 1777, "Such a one's verses are come out," said I: "Yes," replied Johnson, "and this frost has struck them in again. Here are some lines I have written to ridicule them; but remember that I love the fellow dearly now—for all I laugh at him.

'Wheresoe'er I turn my view, All is strange, yet nothing new; Endless labour all along, Endless labour to be wrong; Phrase that time has flung away; Uncouth words in disarray, Trick'd in antique ruff and bonnet, Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.'"'

Piozzi's Anec. p. 64.

Thomas Warton in 1777 published a volume of his poems. He, no doubt, is meant.

[447] In The Rambler, No. 121. Johnson, twenty-six years earlier, attacked 'the imitation of Spenser, which, by the influence of some men of learning and genius, seems likely to gain upon the age.... They seem to conclude that, when they have disfigured their lines with a few obsolete syllables, they have accomplished their design, without considering that they ought, not only to admit old words, but to avoid new. The laws of imitation are broken by every word introduced since the time of Spenser.'

[448] Warton's Ode on the First of April is found a line which may have suggested these two lines:—'The morning hoar, and evening chill.'

[449] 'Collins affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, seeming to think, with some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry.' Johnson's Works, viii. 404. Goldsmith, eleven years earlier, said in his Life of Parnell (Misc. Works, iv. 22):—'These misguided innovators have not been content with restoring antiquated words and phrases, but have indulged themselves in the most licentious transpositions and the harshest constructions, vainly imagining that the more their writings are unlike prose, the more they resemble poetry.' Collins and Warton might have quoted by way of defence the couplet in Milton's L'Allegro.—

'While the cock with lively din Scatters the rear of darkness thin.'

[450] As some of my readers may be gratified by reading the progress of this little composition, I shall insert it from my notes. 'When Dr. Johnson and I were sitting tte—tte at the Mitre tavern, May 9, 1778, he said "Where is bliss," would be better. He then added a ludicrous stanza, but would not repeat it, lest I should take it down. It was somewhat as follows; the last line I am sure I remember:

"While I thus cried, The hoary seer reply'd, Come, my lad, and drink some beer."

In spring, 1779, when in better humour, he made the second stanza, as in the text. There was only one variation afterwards made on my suggestion, which was changing hoary in the third line to smiling, both to avoid a sameness with the epithet in the first line, and to describe the hermit in his pleasantry. He was then very well pleased that I should preserve it.' BOSWELL.

[451] When I mentioned Dr. Johnson's remark to a lady of admirable good sense and quickness of understanding, she observed, 'It is true, all this excludes only one evil; but how much good does it let in?'—To this observation much praise has been justly given. Let me then now do myself the honour to mention that the lady who made it was the late Margaret Montgomerie, my very valuable wife, and the very affectionate mother of my children, who, if they inherit her good qualities, will have no reason to complain of their lot. Dos magna parentum virtus. BOSWELL. The latter part of this note was first given in the second edition. The quotation if from Horace:—

'Cos est magna parentium Virtus.' 'The lovers there for dowry claim The father's virtue and the mother's fame.'

FRANCIS, Horace, Odes, iii. 24. 21.

[452] He saw it in 1774 on his way to Wales; but he must, I think, have seen it since, for it does not appear from his Journal of a Tour into Wales that he then saw Lord Scarsdale. He met him also at Dr. Taylor's in July 1775. Piozzi Letters, i. 267.

[453] I do not find the description in Young's Six Months' Tour through the North of England, but in Pilkington's Present State of Derbyshire, ii. 120.


'Quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris?' 'What place, what land in all the earth but with our grief is stored?'

Morris, neids, i. 460.

[455] See ante, March 21 and 28, 1776.

[456] At Derby.

[457] Baretti in his Italy, i. 236, says:—'It is the general custom for our authors to make a present of their works to booksellers, who in return scarcely give a few copies when printed.' The Venetian bookseller to whom Metastasio gave his cleared, Baretti says, more than 10,000. Goldoni scarcely got for each of his plays ten pounds from the manager of the Venetian theatre, and much less from the booksellers. 'Our learned stare when they are told that in England there are numerous writers who get their bread by their productions only.'

[458] I am now happy to understand, that Mr. John Home, who was himself gallantly in the field for the reigning family, in that interesting warfare, but is generous enough to do justice to the other side, is preparing an account of it for the press. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle, who knew Home well, says (Auto. p. 295):—'All his opinions of men and things were prejudices, which, though it did not disqualify him for writing admirable poetry, yet made him unfit for writing history.' See ante, i. 225, for Boswell's projected works.

[459] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale the next day:—'The finer pieces [of the Derby china] are so dear that perhaps silver vessels of the same capacity may be sometimes bought at the same price; and I am not yet so infected with the contagion of china-fancy as to like anything at that rate which can so easily be broken.' Piozzi Letters, i. 380.

[460] See ante, April 14, 1775.

[461] See Hutton's History of Derby, a book which is deservedly esteemed for its information, accuracy, and good narrative. Indeed the age in which we live is eminently distinguished by topographical excellence. BOSWELL. According to Hutton the Italians at the beginning of the eighteenth century had 'the exclusive art of silk-throwing.' Lombe went to Italy, and by bribery got admittance into the works. Having mastered the secret he returned to England with two of the workmen. About the year 1717 he founded a great silk-mill at Derby. He died early, being poisoned, it was asserted, by an Italian woman who had been sent over to destroy him. In this mill, Hutton, as a child, 'had suffered intolerable severity.' Hutton's Derby, pp. 193-205.

[462] 'I have enlarged my notions,' recorded Johnson in his Journal of a Tour into Wales (Aug. 3, 1774), after he had seen some iron-works.

[463] Young. BOSWELL.

'Think nought a trifle, though it small appear.' Small sands the mountain, moments make the year, And trifles life.'

Love of Fame, Satire vi.

[464] 'Pray, Sir, don't leave us;' said Johnson to an upholder of Berkeley's philosophy, 'for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and then you will cease to exist.' Post, 1780, in Langton's Collection. See also ante, i. 471.

[465] Perhaps Boswell is thinking of Gray's lines at the close of the Progress of Poesy:—

'Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate.'

[466] Goldsmith wrote:—'In all Pope's letters, as well as in those of Swift, there runs a strain of pride, as if the world talked of nothing but themselves. "Alas," says he in one of them, "the day after I am dead the sun will shine as bright as the day before, and the world will be as merry as usual." Very strange, that neither an eclipse nor an earthquake should follow the loss of a poet!' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 85. Goldsmith refers, I suppose, to Pope's letter to Steele of July 15, 1712, where he writes:—'The morning after my exit the sun will rise as bright as ever, the flowers smell as sweet, the plants spring as green, the world will proceed in its old course, people will laugh as heartily, and marry as fast as they were used to do.' Elwin's Pope's Works, vi. 392. Gray's friend, Richard West, in some lines suggested by this letter, gives a pretty turn to Pope's thoughts where he says:—

'For me, whene'er all-conquering Death shall spread His wings around my unrepining head, I care not; tho' this face be seen no more, The world will pass as cheerful as before; Bright as before the day-star will appear, The fields as verdant, and the skies as clear.'

Mason's Gray, ed. 1807, i. 152.

[467] See post, April 12, 1778.

[468] A brother of Dodd's wife told Hawkins that 'Dodd's manner of living was ever such as his visible income would no way account for. He said that he was the most importunate suitor for preferment ever known; and that himself had been the bearer of letters to great men, soliciting promotion to livings, and had hardly escaped kicking down stairs.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 435.

[469] Hawkins (Life, p. 523) says that a Mr. Selwin, who just missed being elected Chamberlain of the City, went by request to see a man under sentence of death in Newgate, 'who informed him that he was in daily expectation of the arrival of the warrant for his execution; "but," said he, "I have 200, and you are a man of character, and had the court-interest when you stood for Chamberlain; I should therefore hope it is in your power to get me off." Mr. Selwin was struck with so strange a notion, and asked, if there were any alleviating circumstances in his case. The man peevishly answered "No;" but that he had enquired into the history of the place where he was, and could not find that any one who had 200 was ever hanged. Mr. Selwin told him it was out of his power to help him, and bade him farewell—"which," added he, "he did; for he found means to escape punishment."'

[470] Dodd, in his Dedication of this Sermon to Mr. Villette, the Ordinary of Newgate, says:—'The following address owes its present public appearance to you. You heard it delivered, and are pleased to think that its publication will be useful. To a poor and abject worm like myself this is a sufficient inducement to that publication.'

[471] See ante, p. 97. 'They have,' says Lowndes (Bibl. Man.), 'passed through innumerable editions.' To how many the book-stalls testify, where they are offered second-hand for a few pence.

[472] Goldsmith was thirty when he published An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe; thirty-six when he published The Traveller; thirty-seven when he published The Vicar of Wakefield, and thirty-nine when he brought out The Good-Natured Man. In flowering late he was like Swift. 'Swift was not one of those minds which amaze the world with early pregnancy; his first work, except his few poetical Essays, was the Dissentions in Athens and Rome, published in his thirty-fourth year.' Johnson's Works, viii. 197. See post, April 9, 1778.

[473] Burke, I think, is meant.

[474] This walking about his room naked was, perhaps, part of Lord Monboddo's system that was founded 'on the superiority of the savage life.' Ante, ii. 147.

[475] This regimen was, however, practised by Bishop Ken, of whom Hawkins (not Sir John) in his life of that venerable Prelate, p. 4, tells us: 'And that neither his study might be the aggressor on his hours of instruction, or what he judged his duty prevent his improvements; or both, his closet addresses to his GOD; he strictly accustomed himself to but one sleep, which often obliged him to rise at one or two of the clock in the morning, and sometimes sooner; and grew so habitual, that it continued with him almost till his last illness. And so lively and chearful was his temper, that he would be very facetious and entertaining to his friends in the evening, even when it was perceived that with difficulty he kept his eyes open; and then seemed to go to rest with no other purpose than the refreshing and enabling him with more vigour and chearfulness to sing his morning hymn, as he then used to do to his lute before he put on his cloaths.' BOSWELL.

[476] See ante, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[477] Boswell shortened his life by drinking, if, indeed, he did not die of it. Less than a year before his death he wrote to Temple:—'I thank you sincerely for your friendly admonition on my frailty in indulging so much in wine. I do resolve anew to be upon my guard, as I am sensible how very pernicious as well as disreputable such a habit is! How miserably have I yielded to it in various years!' Letters of Boswell, p. 353. In 1776 Paoli had taken his word of honour that he would not taste fermented liquor for a year, that he might recover sobriety. Ib. p. 233. For a short time also in 1778 Boswell was a water-drinker, Post, April 28, 1778.

[478] Sir James Mackintosh told Mr. Croker that he believed Lord Errol was meant here as well as post, April 28, 1778. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773.

[479] 'Must give us pause.' Hamlet, act iii. sc. 1.

[480] 'He was the first,' writes Dr. T. Campbell (Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 373), 'who gave histories of the weather, seasons, and diseases of Dublin.' Wesley records (Journal, iv. 40):—'April 6, 1775. I visited that venerable man, Dr. Rutty, just tottering over the grave; but still clear in his understanding, full of faith and love, and patiently waiting till his change should come.'

[481] Cowper wrote of Johnson's Diary:—'It is certain that the publisher of it is neither much a friend to the cause of religion nor to the author's memory; for, by the specimen of it that has reached us, it seems to contain only such stuff as has a direct tendency to expose both to ridicule.' Southey's Cowper, v. 152.

[482] Huet, Bishop of Avranches, born 1630, died 1721, published in 1718 Commentarius de rebus ad eum pertinentibus. Nouv. Biog. Gene. xxv. 380.

[483] When Dr. Blair published his Lectures, he was invidiously attacked for having omitted his censure on Johnson's style, and, on the contrary, praising it highly. But before that time Johnson's Lives of the Poets had appeared, in which his style was considerably easier than when he wrote The Rambler. It would, therefore, have been uncandid in Blair, even supposing his criticism to have been just, to have preserved it. BOSWELL.

[484] Johnson refers no doubt to the essay On Romances, An Imitation, by A. L. Aikin (Mrs. Barbauld); in Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose, by J. and A. L. Aikin (1773), p. 39. He would be an acute critic who could distinguish this Imitation from a number of The Rambler.

[485] See post, under Dec. 6, 1784.

[486] Id est, The Literary Scourge.

[487] See ante, ii. 236, where Johnson attacks 'the verbiage of Robertson.'

[488] 'We were now treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such rigid philosophy, as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery or virtue. The [That] man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.' Had our Tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage, the world must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain. Sir Joseph Banks, the present respectable President of the Royal Society, told me, he was so much struck on reading it, that he clasped his hands together, and remained for some time in an attitude of silent admiration. BOSWELL. See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 19, 1773, and Johnson's Works, ix. 145.

[489] 'He that thinks with more extent than another will want words of larger meaning.' Ante, i. 218.

[490] In the original island.

[491] See ante, ii. 203, note 3.

[492] In this censure which has been carelessly uttered, I carelessly joined. But in justice to Dr. Kippis, who with that manly candid good temper which marks his character, set me right, I now with pleasure retract it; and I desire it may be particularly observed, as pointed out by him to me, that 'The new lives of dissenting Divines in the first four volumes of the second edition of the Biographia Brittanica, are those of John Abernethy, Thomas Amory, George Benson, Hugh Broughton the learned Puritan, Simon Browne, Joseph Boyse of Dublin, Thomas Cartwright the learned Puritan, and Samuel Chandler. The only doubt I have ever heard suggested is, whether there should have been an article of Dr. Amory. But I was convinced, and am still convinced, that he was entitled to one, from the reality of his learning, and the excellent and candid nature of his practical writings.

'The new lives of clergymen of the Church of England, in the same four volumes, are as follows: John Balguy, Edward Bentham, George Berkley Bishop of Cloyne, William Berriman, Thomas Birch, William Borlase, Thomas Bott, James Bradley, Thomas Broughton, John Brown, John Burton, Joseph Butler Bishop of Durham, Thomas Carte, Edmund Castell, Edmund Chishull, Charles Churchill, William Clarke, Robert Clayton Bishop of Clogher, John Conybeare Bishop of Bristol, George Costard, and Samuel Croxall.—"I am not conscious (says Dr. Kippis) of any partiality in conducting the work. I would not willingly insert a Dissenting Minister that does not justly deserve to be noticed, or omit an established Clergyman that does. At the same time, I shall not be deterred from introducing Dissenters into the Biographia, when I am satisfied that they are entitled to that distinction, from their writings, learning, and merit."'

Let me add that the expression 'A friend to the Constitution in Church and State,' was not meant by me, as any reflection upon this reverend gentleman, as if he were an enemy to the political constitution of his country, as established at the revolution, but, from my steady and avowed predilection for a Tory, was quoted from Johnson's Dictionary, where that distinction is so defined. BOSWELL. In his Dictionary a Tory is defined as 'one who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of England.' It was on the Biographia Britannica that Cowper wrote the lines that end:—

'So when a child, as playful children use, Has burnt to tinder a stale last year's news, The flame extinct he views the roving fire, There goes my lady, and there goes the squire, There goes the parson, oh! illustrious spark, And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.'

Cowper's Works, viii. 320.

Horace Walpole said that the 'Biographia Britannica ought rather to be called Vindicatio Britannica, for that it was a general panegyric upon everybody.' Prior's Malone, p. 115.

[493] See ante, p. 99.


'Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide.'

Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, 1, 163.

[495] Observations on Insanity, by Thomas Arnold, M.D., London, 1782. BOSWELL.

[496] We read in the Gospels, that those unfortunate persons who were possessed with evil spirits (which, after all, I think is the most probable cause of madness, as was first suggested to me by my respectable friend Sir John Pringle), had recourse to pain, tearing themselves, and jumping sometimes into the fire, sometimes into the water. Mr. Seward has furnished me with a remarkable anecdote in confirmation of Dr. Johnson's observation. A tradesman, who had acquired a large fortune in London, retired from business, and went to live at Worcester. His mind, being without its usual occupation, and having nothing else to supply its place, preyed upon itself, so that existence was a torment to him. At last he was seized with the stone; and a friend who found him in one of its severest fits, having expressed his concern, 'No, no, Sir, (said he) don't pity me: what I now feel is ease compared with that torture of mind from which it relieves me.' BOSWELL.

[497] See ante, i. 446. 'Johnson was a great enemy to the present fashionable way of supposing worthless and infamous persons mad.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 203.

[498] See post, April 1, 1779.

[499] See post, April 7, 1778.

[500] 'Reynolds,' writes Malone, 'was as fond of London as Dr. Johnson; always maintaining that it was the only place in England where a pleasant society might be found.' Prior's Malone p. 433. Gibbon wrote to Holroyd Misc. Works, ii 126:—'Never pretend to allure me by painting in odious colours the dust of London. I love the dust, and whenever I move into the Weald it is to visit you and my Lady, and not your trees.' Burke, on the other hand, wrote (Corres. iii 422):—'What is London? clean, commodious, neat; but, a very few things indeed excepted, and endless addition of littleness to littleness, extending itself over a great tract of land.' 'For a young man,' he says, 'for a man of easy fortune, London is the best place one can imagine. But for the old, the infirm, the straightened in fortune, the grave in character or in disposition, I do not believe a much worse place can be found.' Ib. iv. 250.


'Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine captos Ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui.' Ovid, Ep. ex Ponto, i. 3. 35.

[502] 'In the morn and liquid dew of youth.' Hamlet, act i. sc. 3.

[503] Now, at the distance of fifteen years since this conversation passed, the observation which I have had an opportunity of making in Westminster Hall has convinced me, that, however true the opinion of Dr. Johnson's legal friend may have been some time ago, the same certainty of success cannot now be promised to the same display of merit. The reasons, however, of the rapid rise of some, and the disappointment of others equally respectable, are such as it might seem invidious to mention, and would require a longer detail than would be proper for this work. BOSWELL. Boswell began to eat his dinners in the Inner Temple in 1775. Ante, p. 45 note 1, and Letters of Boswell, p. 196. In writing to Temple he thus mentions his career as a barrister. 'Jan. 10, 1789. In truth I am sadly discouraged by having no practice, nor probable prospect of it; and to confess fairly to you, my friend, I am afraid that, were I to be tried, I should be found so deficient in the forms, the quirks and the quiddities, which early habit acquires, that I should expose myself. Yet the delusion of Westminster Hall, of brilliant reputation and splendid fortune as a barrister, still weighs upon my imagination.' Ib. p. 267. 'Aug. 23, 1789. The Law life in Scotland amongst vulgar familiarity would now quite destroy me. I am not able to acquire the Law of England.' Ib. p. 304. 'Nov. 28, 1789. I have given up my house and taken good chambers in the Inner Temple, to have the appearance of a lawyer. O Temple! Temple! is this realising any of the towering hopes which have so often been the subject of our conversations and letters? ... I do not see the smallest opening in Westminster Hall but I like the scene, though I have attended only one day this last term, being eager to get my Life of Johnson finished.' Ib. p. 314. 'April 6, 1791. When my book is launched, I shall, if I am alone and in tolerable health and spirits, have some furniture put into my chambers in the Temple, and force myself to sit there some hours a-day, and to attend regularly in Westminster Hall. The chambers cost me 20 yearly, and I may reckon furniture and a lad to attend there occasionally 20 more. I doubt whether I shall get fees equal to the expense.' Ib. p. 335. 'Nov. 22, 1791. I keep chambers open in the Temple, I attend in Westminster Hall, but there is not the least prospect of my having business.' Ib. p. 344. His chambers, as he wrote to Malone, were 'in the very staircase where Johnson lived.' Croker's Boswell, p. 830.

[504] Sunday was the 21st.

[505] See ante, March 26, 1776, and post, under Nov. 17, 1784.

[506] In Notes and Queries for April, May, and June 1882, is a series of Johnson's letters to Taylor, between June 10, 1742 and April 12, 1784. In the first Johnson signs himself:—'Your very affectionate,' (p. 304). On Nov. 18, 1756, he writes:—'Neither of us now can find many whom he has known so long as we have known each other.... We both stand almost single in the world,' (p. 324). On July 15, 1765, he reproaches Taylor with not writing:—'With all your building and feasting you might have found an hour in some wet day for the remembrance of your old friend. I should have thought that since you have led a life so festive and gay, you would have [invited] me to partake of your hospitality,' (p. 383). On Oct. 19, 1779, he says:—'Write to me soon. We are both old. How few of those whom we have known in our youth are left alive!' (p. 461). On April 12, 1784, he writes:—'Let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now living but you and Mr. Hector that was the friend of my youth,' (p. 482, and post, April 12, 1784). See ante, p. 131, for his regret on the death of his school-fellow, Henry Jackson, who seemed to Boswell (ante, under March 22, 1776) to be a low man, dull and untaught. 'One of the old man's miseries,' he wrote, (post, Feb. 3, 1778), 'is that he cannot easily find a companion able to partake with him of the past.' 'I have none to call me Charley now,' wrote Charles Lamb on the death of a friend of his boyhood (Talfourd's Lamb, ed. 1865, p. 145). Such a companion Johnson found in Taylor. That, on the death of his wife, he at once sent for him, not even waiting for the light of morning to come, is a proof that he had a strong affection for the man.

[507] Ecclesiasticus, ch. xxxviii. verse 25. The whole chapter may be read as an admirable illustration of the superiority of cultivated minds over the gross and illiterate. BOSWELL.

[508] Passages in Johnson's Letters to Mrs. Thrale are to the same effect. 'Aug. 3, 1771. Having stayed my month with Taylor I came away on Wednesday, leaving him, I think, in a disposition of mind not very uncommon, at once weary of my stay, and grieved at my departure.' Piozzi Letters, i. 52. 'July 13, 1775. Dr. Taylor and I spend little time together, yet he will not yet be persuaded to hear of parting.' Ib. p. 276. 'July 26, 1775. Having stayed long enough at Ashbourne, I was not sorry to leave it. I hindered some of Taylor's diversions, and he supplied me with very little.' Ib p. 287.

[509] The second volume of these Sermons, which was published in 1789, a year after the first, contains the following addition to the title:—'To which is added a Sermon written by Samuel Johnson, L.L.D., for the Funeral of his Wife.' 'Dr. Taylor had,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 171), 'The LARGEST BULL in England, and some of the best Sermons.'

[510] If the eminent judge was Lord Mansfield, we may compare with Boswell's regret the lines in which Pope laments the influence of Westminster Hall and Parliament:—

'There truant Windham every muse gave o'er, There Talbot sunk, and was a wit no more. How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast! How many Martials were in Pulteney lost!'

The Dunciad, iv. 167.

[511] Boswell's brother David had been settled in Spain since 1768. (Boswelliana, p. 5.) He therefore is no doubt the son, and Lord Auchinleck the father.

[512] See ante, ii. 129, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22, 1773.

[513] 'Jack' had not shown all his manners to Johnson. Gibbon thus describes him in 1762 (Misc. Works, i. 142):—'Colonel Wilkes, of the Buckinghamshire militia, dined with us. I scarcely ever met with a better companion; he has inexhaustible spirits, infinite wit and humour, and a great deal of knowledge; but a thorough profligate in principle as in practice, his life stained with every vice, and his conversation full of blasphemy and indecency. These morals he glories in—for shame is a weakness he has long since surmounted.' The following anecdote in Boswelliana (p. 274) is not given in the Life of Johnson:—'Johnson had a sovereign contempt for Wilkes and his party, whom he looked upon as a mere rabble. "Sir," said he, "had Wilkes's mob prevailed against government, this nation had died of phthiriasis. Mr. Langton told me this. The expression, morbus pediculosus, as being better known would strike more."'

[514] See ante, p. 79, note 1.

[515] See ante, p. 69.

[516] See ante, i. 402.

[517] See ante, i. 167.

[518] See post, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[519] See post, ib., where Johnson told Mrs. Siddons that 'Garrick was no declaimer.'

[520] Hannah More (Memoirs, ii. 16) says that she once asked Garrick 'why Johnson was so often harsh and unkind in his speeches both of him and to him:—"Why," he replied, "it is very natural; is it not to be expected he should be angry that I, who have so much less merit than he, should have had so much greater success?"'

[521] Foote died a month after this conversation. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Did you see Foote at Brighthelmstone? Did you think he would so soon be gone? Life, says Falstaff, is a shuttle [Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 1]. He was a fine fellow in his way; and the world is really impoverished by his sinking glories. Murphy ought to write his life, at least to give the world a Footeana. Now will any of his contemporaries bewail him? Will genius change his sex to weep? I would really have his life written with diligence.' This letter is wrongly dated Oct. 3, 1777. It was written early in November. Piozzi Letters, i. 396. Baretti, in a marginal note on Footeana, says:—'One half of it had been a string of obscenities.' See post, April 24, 1779, note.

[522] See ante, i. 447.

[523] To pit is not in Johnson's Dictionary.

[524] Very likely Mr. Langton. See ante, ii. 254.

[525] Two months earlier Johnson had complained that Langton's table was rather coarse. Ante, p. 128.

[526] See post, April 13, 1781, where he again mentions this advice. 'He said of a certain lady's entertainments, "What signifies going thither? There is neither meat, drink, nor talk."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 207.

[527] William, third Duke of Devonshire, who died in 1755. Johnson (post, April 1, 1779) 'commended him for a dogged veracity.' Horace Walpole records of him a fact that 'showed a conscientious idea of honesty in him. Sometime before his death he had given up to two of his younger sons 600 a-year in land, that they might not perjure themselves, if called upon to swear to their qualifications as Knights of the Shire.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, ii. 86.

[528] Philip Francis wrote to Burke in 1790:—'Once for all, I wish you would let me teach you to write English. To me who am to read everything you write, it would be a great comfort, and to you no sort of disparagement. Why will you not allow yourself to be persuaded that polish is material to preservation?' Burke's Corres, iii. 164.

[529] Edit. 2, p. 53. BOSWELL.

[530] This is a mistake. The Ports had been seated at Islam time out of mind. Congreve had visited there, and his seat, that is the bench on which he sometimes sat, used to be shown. CROKER. On the way to Islam, Johnson told Boswell about the dedication of his Plan to Lord Chesterfield. Ante, i. 183, note 4.

[531] See ante, i. 41.

[532] 'I believe more places than one are still shown in groves and gardens where he is related to have written his Old Bachelor.' Johnson's Works, viii. 23.

[533] Page 89. BOSWELL.

[534] See Plott's History of Staffordshire, p. 88, and the authorities referred to by him. BOSWELL.

[535] See ante, ii. 247, and post, March 31, 1778.

[536] See ante, i. 444.

[537] Mrs. Piozzi records (Anec. p. 109):—'In answer to the arguments urged by Puritans, Quakers, etc. against showy decorations of the human figure, I once heard him exclaim:—"Oh, let us not be found, when our Master calls us, ripping the lace off our waistcoats, but the spirit of contention from our souls and tongues! ... Alas! Sir, a man who cannot get to heaven in a green coat will not find his way thither the sooner in a grey one."' See ante, i, 405.

[538] Campbell, who was an exciseman, had in July, 1769, caught a favourite servant of Lord Eglintoune in smuggling 80 gallons of rum in one of his master's carts. This, he maintains, led to an ill-feeling. He had a right to carry a gun by virtue of his office, and from many of the gentry he had licences to shoot over their grounds. His lordship, however, had forbidden him to enter his. On Oct. 24, 1769, he passed into his grounds, and walked along the shore within the sea-mark, looking for a plover. Lord Eglintoune came up with him on the sea-sands and demanded his gun, advancing as if to seize it. Campbell warned him that he would fire if he did not keep off, and kept retiring backwards or sideways. He stumbled and fell. Lord Eglintoune stopped a little, and then made as if he would advance. Campbell thereupon fired, and hit him in the side. He was found guilty of murder. On the day after the trial he hanged himself in prison. Ann. Reg. xiii. 219. See ante, ii. 66, and Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 1.

[539] See ante, p. 40.

[540] See ante, ii. 10.

[541] Boswell here alludes to the motto of his Journal:—

'Oh! while along the stream of time thy name Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame; Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?'

Pope's Essay on Man, iv. 383.


'His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.'

Gray's Elegy.

[543] Johnson, a fortnight or so later, mentions this waterfall in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, after speaking of a pool that Mr. Thrale was having dug. 'He will have no waterfall to roar like the Doctor's. I sat by it yesterday, and read Erasmus's Militis Christiani Enchiridion.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 3.

[544] See post, April 9 and 30, 1778. At the following Easter he recorded: 'My memory is less faithful in retaining names, and, I am afraid, in retaining occurrences.' Pr. and Med. p. 170.

[545] I am told that Horace, Earl of Orford, has a collection of Bon-Mots by persons who never said but one. BOSWELL. Horace Walpole had succeeded to his title after the publication of the first edition of this book.

[546] See Macaulay's Essays, i. 370.

[547] Johnson (Works, vii. 158) tells how 'Rochester lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness; till, at the age of one and thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.' He describes how Burnet 'produced a total change both of his manners and opinions,' and says of the book in which this conversion is recounted that it is one 'which the critick ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.' In Johnson's answer to Boswell we have a play on the title of this work, which is, Some passages of the Life and Death of John Earl of Rochester.

[548] In the passages from Johnson's Life of Prior, quoted ante, ii. 78, note 3, may be found an explanation of what he here says. A poet who 'tries to be amorous by dint of study,' and who 'in his amorous pedantry exhibits the college,' may be gross and yet not excite to lewdness. Goldsmith, in 1766, in a book entitled Beauties of English Poetry Selected, had inserted two of Prior's tales, 'which for once interdicted from general reading a book with his name upon its title-page.' Mr. Forster hereupon remarks 'on the changes in the public taste. Nothing is more frequent than these, and few things so sudden.' Of these changes he gives some curious instances. Forster's Goldsmith, ii. 4.

[549] See ante, iii. 5.

[550] See ante, i. 428.

[551] Horace, Odes, ii. 14.

[552] I am informed by Mr. Langton, that a great many years ago he was present when this question was agitated between Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke; and, to use Johnson's phrase, they 'talked their best;' Johnson for Homer, Burke for Virgil. It may well be supposed to have been one of the ablest and most brilliant contests that ever was exhibited. How much must we regret that it has not been preserved. BOSWELL. Johnson (Works, vii. 332), after saying that Dryden 'undertook perhaps the most arduous work of its kind, a translation of Virgil,' continues:—'In the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the discriminative excellence of Homer is elevation and comprehension of thought, and that of Virgil is grace and splendour of diction. The beauties of Homer are therefore difficult to be lost, and those of Virgil difficult to be retained.' Mr. E.J. Payne, in his edition of Burke's Select Works, i. xxxviii, says:— 'Most writers have constantly beside them some favourite classical author from whom they endeavour to take their prevailing tone. Burke, according to Butler, always had a "ragged Delphin Virgil" not far from his elbow.' See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 21, note.

[553] According to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Mr. Burke, speaking of Bacon's Essays, said he thought them the best of his works. Dr. Johnson was of opinion that their excellence and their value consisted in being the observations of a strong mind operating upon life; and in consequence you find there what you seldom find in other books.' Northcote's Reynolds, ii. 281.

[554] Mr. Seward perhaps imperfectly remembered the following passage in the Preface to the Dictionary (Works, v. 40):—'From the authors which rose in the time of Elizabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of use and elegance. If the language of theology were extracted from Hooker and the translation of the Bible; the terms of natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakespeare, few ideas would be lost to mankind for want of English words in which they might be expressed.'

[555] Of Mallet's Life of Bacon, Johnson says (Works, viii. 465) that it is 'written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation; but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that when he afterwards undertook the Life of Marlborough, Warburton remarked, that he might perhaps forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.'

[556] It appears from part of the original journal in Mr. Anderdon's papers that the friend who told the story was Mr. Beauclerk and the gentleman and lady alluded to were Mr. (probably Henry) and Miss Harvey. CROKER. Not Harvey but Hervey. See ante, i. 106, and ii. 32, for another story told by Beauclerk against Johnson of Mr. Thomas Hervey.

[557] Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives as the 17th meaning of make, to raise as profit from anything. He quotes the speech of Pompey in Measure for Measure, act iv. sc. 3:—'He made five marks, ready money.' But Pompey, he might reply, was a servant, and his English therefore is not to be taken as a standard.

[558] Idea he defines as mental imagination.

[559] See post, May 15, 1783, note.

[560] In the first three editions of Boswell we find Tadnor for Tadmor. In Dodsley's Collection, iv. 229, the last couplet is as follows:—

'Or Tadmor's marble wastes survey, Or in yon roofless cloister stray.'

[561] This is the tune that William Crotch (Dr. Crotch) was heard playing before he was two years and a half old, on a little organ that his father, a carpenter, had made. Ann. Reg. xxii 79.

[562] See ante, under Dec. 17, 1775.

[563] In 1757 two battalions of Highlanders were raised and sent to North America. Gent. Mag. xxvii. 42, 333. Boswell (Hebrides, Sept. 3, 1773) mentions 'the regiments which the late Lord Chatham prided himself in having brought from "the mountains of the north."' Chatham said in the House of Lords on Dec. 2, 1777:—'I remember that I employed the very rebels in the service and defence of their country. They were reclaimed by this means; they fought our battles; they cheerfully bled in defence of those liberties which they attempted to overthrow but a few years before.' Parl. Hist. xix. 477.


'Yet hope not life from grief or danger free, Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee.'

Line 154.

[565] See ante, ii. 168. Boswell, when a widower, wrote to Temple of a lady whom he seemed not unwilling to marry:—'She is about seven-and-twenty, and he [Sir William Scott] tells me lively and gay— a Ranelagh girl—but of excellent principles, insomuch that she reads prayers to the servants in her father's family every Sunday evening.' Letters of Boswell, p. 336.

[566] Pope mentions [Dunciad, iv. 342],

'Stretch'd on the rack of a too easy chair.'

But I recollect a couplet quite apposite to my subject in Virtue an Ethick Epistle, a beautiful and instructive poem, by an anonymous writer, in 1758; who, treating of pleasure in excess, says:—

'Till languor, suffering on the rack of bliss, Confess that man was never made for this.' BOSWELL.

[567] See post, June 12, 1784.

[568] See ante, p. 86.

[569] 'For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.' Romans, x. 2.

[570] Horace Walpole wrote:—'Feb. 17, 1773. Caribs, black Caribs, have no representatives in Parliament; they have no agent but God, and he is seldom called to the bar of the House to defend their cause.' Walpole's Letters, v. 438. 'Feb. 14, 1774. 'If all the black slaves were in rebellion, I should have no doubt in choosing my side, but I scarce wish perfect freedom to merchants who are the bloodiest of all tyrants. I should think the souls of the Africans would sit heavy on the swords of the Americans.' Ib. vi. 60.

[571] See ante, ii. 27, 312.

[572] 'We are told that the subjection of Americans may tend to the diminution of our own liberties; an event which none but very perspicacious politicians are able to foresee. If slavery be thus fatally contagious, how is it that we hear,' etc. Works, vi. 262. In his Life of Milton (ib. vii. 116) he says:—'It has been observed that they who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it.'

[573] See page 76 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[574] The address was delivered on May 23, 1770. The editor of Rogers's Table Talk quotes, on p. 129, Mr. Maltby, the friend of Rogers, who says:—'Dr. C. Burney assured me that Beckford did not utter one syllable of the speech—that it was wholly the invention of Horne Tooke. Being very intimate with Tooke, I questioned him on the subject. "What Burney states," he said, "is true. I saw Beckford just after he came from St. James's. I asked him what he had said to the King; and he replied, that he had been so confused, he scarcely knew what he had said. But, cried I, your speech must be sent to the papers; I'll write it for you. I did so immediately, and it was printed forthwith."' Tooke gave the same account to Isaac Reed. Walpole's Letters, v. 238, note. Stephens (Life of Horne Tooke, i. 155-8) says, that the King's answer had been anticipated and that Horne had suggested the idea of a reply. Stephens continues:—'The speech in reply, as Mr. Horne lately acknowledged to me, was his composition.' Stephens does not seem to have heard the story that Beckford did not deliver the reply. He says that Horne inserted the account in the newspapers. 'No one,' he continues, 'was better calculated to give copies of those harangues than the person who had furnished the originals; and as to the occurrences at St. James's, he was enabled to detail the particulars from the lips of the members of the deputation.' Alderman Townshend assured Lord Chatham that Beckford did deliver the speech. Chatham Corres. iii. 460. Horne Tooke's word is not worth much. He did not resign his living till more than seven years after he wrote to Wilkes:—'It is true I have suffered the infectious hand of a bishop to be waved over me; whose imposition, like the sop given to Judas, is only a signal for the devil to enter.' Stephens's Horne Tooke, i. 76. Beckford, dying in his Mayoralty, is oddly connected with Chatterton. 'Chatterton had written a political essay for The North Briton, which, though accepted, was not printed on account of Lord Mayor Beckford's death. The patriot thus calculated the death of his great patron:—

s. d. Lost by his death in this Essay 1 11 6 Gained in Elegies 2.2 in Essays 3.3 —— 5 5 0 ——————- Am glad he is dead by 3 13 6

D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, i. 54.

[575] At the time that Johnson wrote this there were serfs in Scotland. An Act passed in 1775 (15 Geo. III. c. 22) contains the following preamble:—'Whereas by the law of Scotland, as explained by the judges of the courts of law there, many colliers and salters are in a state of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries or saltworks where they work for life, transferable with the coalwork and salteries,' etc. The Act was ineffectual in giving relief, and in 1779 by 39 Geo. III. c. 56 all colliers were 'declared to be free from their servitude.' The last of these emancipated slaves died in the year 1844. Tranent and its Surroundings, by P. M'Neill, p. 26. See also Parl. Hist. xxix. 1109, where Dundas states that it was only 'after several years' struggle that the bill was carried through both Houses.'

[576] See ante, ii. 13.

[577] 'The Utopians do not make slaves of the sons of their slaves; the slaves among them are such as are condemned to that state of life for the commission of some crime.' Sir T. More's Utopia—Ideal Commonwealths, p. 129.

[578] The Rev. John Newton (Cowper's friend) in 1763 wrote of the slave-trade, in which he had been engaged, 'It is indeed accounted a genteel employment, and is usually very profitable, though to me it did not prove so, the Lord seeing that a large increase of wealth could not be good for me.' Newton's Life, p. 148. A ruffian of a London Alderman, a few weeks before The Life of Johnson was published, said in parliament:—'The abolition of the trade would destroy our Newfoundland fishery, which the slaves in the West Indies supported by consuming that part of the fish which was fit for no other consumption, and consequently, by cutting off the great source of seamen, annihilate our marine.' Parl. Hist. xxix. 343.

[579] Gray's Elegy. Mrs. Piozzi maintained that 'mercy was totally abolished by French maxims; for, if all men are equal, mercy is no more.' Piozzi's Synonymy, i. 370. Johnson, in 1740, described slavery as 'the most calamitous estate in human life,' a state 'which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word.' Works, v. 265-6. Nineteen years later he wrote of the discoveries of the Portuguese:—'Much knowledge has been acquired, and much cruelty been committed; the belief of religion has been very little propagated, and its laws have been outrageously and enormously violated.' Ib. p. 219. Horace Walpole wrote, on July 9, 1754, (Letters, ii. 394), 'I was reading t'other day the Life of Colonel Codrington. He left a large estate for the propagation of the Gospel, and ordered that three hundred negroes should constantly be employed upon it. Did one ever hear a more truly Christian charity than keeping up a perpetuity of three hundred slaves to look after the Gospel's estate?' Churchill, in Gotham, published in 1764 (Poems, ii. 101), says of Europe's treatment of the savage race:—

'Faith too she plants, for her own ends imprest, To make them bear the worst, and hope the best.'


'With stainless lustre virtue shines, A base repulse nor knows nor fears;

Nor claims her honours, nor declines, As the light air of crowds uncertain veers.' FRANCIS. Horace Odes, iii. 2.

[581] Sir Walter Scott, in a note to Redgauntlet, Letter 1, says:— 'Sir John Nisbett of Dirleton's Doubts and Questions upon the Law especially of Scotland, and Sir James Stewart's Dirleton's Doubts and Questions resolved and answered, are works of authority in Scottish jurisprudence. As is generally the case, the Doubts are held more in respect than the solution.'

[582] When Boswell first made Johnson's acquaintance it was he who suffered from the late hours. Ante, i. 434.

[583] See ante, ii. 312.

[584] Burke, in Present Discontents, says:—'The power of the Crown, almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has grown up anew, with much more strength and far less odium, under the name of Influence.' Influence he explains as 'the method of governing by men of great natural interest or great acquired consideration.' Payne's Burke, i. 10, 11. 'Influence,' said Johnson,' must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 18. To political life might be applied what Johnson wrote of domestic life:—'It is a maxim that no man ever was enslaved by influence while he was fit to be free.' Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 343.

[585] Boswell falls into what he calls 'the cant transmitted from age to age in praise of the ancient Romans.' Ante, i. 311. To do so with Johnson was at once to provoke an attack, for he looked upon the Roman commonwealth as one 'which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind.' Ib. Moreover he disliked appeals to history. 'General history,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 138), 'had little of his regard. Biography was his delight. Sooner than hear of the Punic War he would be rude to the person that introduced the subject.' Mrs. Piozzi says (Anec. p. 80) that 'no kind of conversation pleased him less, I think, than when the subject was historical fact or general polity. 'What shall we learn from that stuff?' said he. 'He never,' as he expressed it, 'desired to hear of the Punic War while he lived.' The Punic War, it is clear, was a kind of humorous catch word with him. She wrote to him in 1773:—'So here's modern politics in a letter from me; yes and a touch of the Punic War too.' Piozzi Letters, i. 187. He wrote to her in 1775, just after she had been at the first regatta held in England:—'You will now find the advantage of having made one at the regatta.... It is the good of public life that it supplies agreeable topics and general conversation. Therefore wherever you are, and whatever you see, talk not of the Punic War; nor of the depravity of human nature; nor of the slender motives of human actions; nor of the difficulty of finding employment or pleasure; but talk, and talk, and talk of the regatta.' Ib. p. 260. He was no doubt sick of the constant reference made by writers and public speakers to Rome. For instance, in Bolingbroke's Dissertation upon Parties, we find in three consecutive Letters (xi-xiii) five illustrations drawn from Rome.

[586] It is strange that Boswell does not mention that on this day they met the Duke and Duchess of Argyle in the street. That they did so we learn from Piozzi Letters, i. 386. Perhaps the Duchess shewed him 'the same marked coldness' as at Inverary. Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25.

[587] At Auchinleck he had 'exhorted Boswell to plant assiduously.' Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 4.

[588] See ante, i. 72. In Scotland it was Cocker's Arithmetic that he took with him. Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 31. He was not always correct in his calculations. For instance, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Ashbourne less than a fortnight after Boswell's departure: 'Mr. Langdon bought at Nottingham fair fifteen tun of cheese; which, at an ounce a-piece, will suffice after dinner for four-hundred-and-eighty thousand men.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 2. To arrive at this number he must have taken a hundredweight as equal to, not 112, but 100, pounds.

[589] Johnson wrote the next day:—'Boswell is gone, and is, I hope, pleased that he has been here; though to look on anything with pleasure is not very common. He has been gay and good-humoured in his usual way, but we have not agreed upon any other expedition.' Piozzi Letters, i. 384.

[590] He lent him also the original journal of his Hebrides, and received in return a complimentary letter, which he in like manner published. Boswell's Hebrides, near the end.

[591] 'The landlord at Ellon said that he heard he was the greatest man in England, next to Lord Mansfield.' Ante, ii. 336.

[592] See ante, under March 15, 1776, where Johnson says that 'truth is essential to a story.'

[593] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Boswell kept his journal very diligently; but then what was there to journalize? I should be glad to see what he says of *********.' Piozzi Letters, i. 390. The number of stars renders it likely that Beauclerk is meant. See ante, p. 195, note 1.

[594] See ante, ii. 279.

[595] Mr. Beauclerk. See ante, p. 195.

[596] Beauclerk.

[597] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Boswell says his wife does not love me quite well yet, though we have made a formal peace.' Piozzi Letters, i. 390.

[598] A daughter born to him. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker says that this daughter was Miss Jane Langton, mentioned post, May 10, 1784.

[599] She had already had eleven children, of whom seven were by this time dead. Ante, p. 109. This time a daughter was born, and not a young brewer. Post, July 3, 1778.

[600] Three months earlier Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'We are not far from the great year of a hundred thousand barrels, which, if three shillings be gained upon each barrel, will bring us fifteen thousand pounds a year.' Piozzi Letters, i. 357. We may see how here, as elsewhere, he makes himself almost one with the Thrales.

[601] See ante, p. 97.

[602] Mrs. Aston. BOSWELL.

[603] See State Trials, vol. xi. p. 339, and Mr. Hargrave's argument. BOSWELL. See ante, p. 87.

[604] The motto to it was happily chosen:—

'Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses.'

I cannot avoid mentioning a circumstance no less strange than true, that a brother Advocate in considerable practice, but of whom it certainly cannot be said, Ingenuas didicit fideliter artes, asked Mr. Maclaurin, with a face of flippant assurance, 'Are these words your own?' BOSWELL. Sir Walter Scott shows where the humour of this motto chiefly lay. 'The counsel opposite,' he writes, 'was the celebrated Wight, an excellent lawyer, but of very homely appearance, with heavy features, a blind eye which projected from its socket, a swag belly, and a limp. To him Maclaurin applied the lines of Virgil:—

'Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses, O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori.'

['Though he was black, and thou art heavenly fair, Trust not too much to that enchanting face.'

DRYDEN. Virgil, Eclogues, ii. 16.] Mr. Maclaurin wrote an essay against the Homeric tale of 'Troy divine,' I believe, for the sole purpose of introducing a happy motto,—

'Non anni domuere decem non mille carin.'

[neid, ii. 198.] Croker's Boswell, p. 279.

[605] There is, no doubt, some malice in this second mention of Dundas's Scottish accent (see ante, ii. 160). Boswell complained to Temple in 1789 that Dundas had not behaved well to himself or his brother David. 'The fact is, he writes, 'on David's being obliged to quit Spain on account of the war, Dundas promised to my father that he would give him an office. Some time after my father's death, Dundas renewed the assurance to me in strong terms, and told me he had said to Lord Caermarthen, "It is a deathbed promise, and I must fulfil it." Yet David has now been kept waiting above eight years, when he might have established himself again in trade.... This is cruel usage.' Boswell adds:—'I strongly suspect Dundas has given Pitt a prejudice against me. The excellent Langton says it is disgraceful; it is utter folly in Pitt not to reward and attach to his Administration a man of my popular and pleasant talents, whose merit he has acknowledged in a letter under his own hand.' Letters of Boswell, p. 286.

[606] Knight was kidnapped when a child and sold to a Mr. Wedderburne of Ballandean, who employed him as his personal servant. In 1769 his master brought him to Britain, and from that time allowed him sixpence a week for pocket money. By the assistance of his fellow-servants he learnt to read. In 1772 he read in a newspaper the report of the decision in the Somerset Case. 'From that time,' said Mr. Ferguson, 'he had had it in his head to leave his master's service.' In 1773 he married a fellow-servant, and finding sixpence a week insufficient for married life, applied for ordinary wages. This request being refused, he signified his intention of seeking service elsewhere. On his master's petition to the Justices of Peace of Perthshire, he was brought before them on a warrant; they decided that he must continue with him as formerly. For some time he continued accordingly; but a child being born to him, he petitioned the Sheriff, who decided in his favour. He thereupon left the house of his master, who removed the cause into the Court of Session.' Ferguson maintained that there are 'many examples of greater servitude in this country [Scotland] than that claimed by the defender, i.e. [Mr. Wedderburne, the plaintiff]. There still exists a species of perpetual servitude, which is supported by late statutes and by daily practice, viz. That which takes place with regard to the coaliers and sailers, where, from the single circumstance of entering to work after puberty, they are bound to perpetual service, and sold along with the works.' Ferguson's Additional Information, July 4, 1775, pp. 3; 29; and Maclaurin's Additional Information, April 20, 1776, p. 2. See ante, p. 202.

[607] See ante, p. 106.

[608] Florence Wilson accompanied, as tutor, Cardinal Wolsey's nephew to Paris, and published at Lyons in 1543 his De Tranquillitate Animi Dialogus. Rose's Biog. Dict. xii. 508.

[609] When Johnson visited Boswell in Edinburgh, Mrs. Boswell 'insisted that, to show all respect to the Sage, she would give up her own bed-chamber to him, and take a worse.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 14. See post, April 18, 1778.

[610] See ante, Dec. 23, 1775.

[611] Fielding, in his Voyage to Lisbon (p. 2), writes of him as 'my friend Mr. Welch, whom I never think or speak of but with love and esteem.' See post, under March 30, 1783.

[612] Johnson defines police as the regulation and government of a city or country, so far as regards the inhabitants.

[613] At this time Under-secretary of State. See ante, i. 478, note 1.

[614] Fielding, after telling how, unlike his predecessor, he had not plundered the public or the poor, continues:—'I had thus reduced an income of about 500 a-year of the dirtiest money upon earth to little more than 300; a considerable proportion of which remained with my clerk.' He added that he 'received from the Government a yearly pension out of the public service money.' Voyage to Lisbon, Introduction.

[615] The friendship between Mr. Welch and him was unbroken. Mr. Welch died not many months before him, and bequeathed him five guineas for a ring, which Johnson received with tenderness, as a kind memorial. His regard was constant for his friend Mr. Welch's daughters; of whom, Jane is married to Mr. Nollekens the statuary, whose merit is too well known to require any praise from me. BOSWELL.

[616] See ante, ii. 50. It seems from Boswell's words, as the editor of the Letters of Boswell (p. 91) points out, that in this case he was 'only a friend and amateur, and not a duly appointed advocate.' He certainly was not retained in an earlier stage of the cause, for on July 22, 1767, he wrote:—'Though I am not a counsel in that cause, yet I am much interested in it.' Ib. p. 93.

[617] Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, humorously observed, that Levett used to breakfast on the crust of a roll, which Johnson, after tearing out the crumb for himself, threw to his humble friend. BOSWELL. Perhaps the word threw is here too strong. Dr. Johnson never treated Levett with contempt. MALONE. Hawkins (Life, p. 398) says that 'Dr. Johnson frequently observed that Levett 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.' Johnson's roll, says Dr. Harwood, was every morning placed in a small blue and white china saucer which had belonged to his wife, and which he familiarly called 'Tetty.' See the inscription on the saucer in the Lichfield Museum.

[618] See this subject discussed in a subsequent page, under May 3, 1779. BOSWELL.

[619] On Feb. 17, Lord North 'made his Conciliatory Propositions.' Parl. Hist. xix. 762.

[620] See ante, ii 111.

[621] See ante, ii. 312.

[622] Alluding to a line in his Vanity of Human Wishes, describing Cardinal Wolsey in his state of elevation:—

'Through him the rays of regal bounty shine.' BOSWELL.

[623] See ante, p. 205.

[624] 'In my mind's eye, Horatio.' Hamlet, act i. sc. 2.

[625] Mr. Langton. See ante, p. 48.

[626] See ante, May 12, 1775.

[627] Daughter of Dr. Swinfen, Johnson's godfather, and widow of Mr. Desmoulins, a writing-master. BOSWELL.

[628] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Montagu on March 5:—'Now, dear Madam, we must talk of business. Poor Davies, the bankrupt bookseller, is soliciting his friends to collect a small sum for the repurchase of part of his household stuff. Several of them gave him five guineas. It would be an honour to him to owe part of his relief to Mrs. Montagu.' Croker's Boswell, p. 570. J. D'Israeli says (Calamities of Authors, i. 265):—'We owe to Davies beautiful editions of some of our elder poets, which are now eagerly sought after; yet, though all his publications were of the best kinds, and are now of increasing value, the taste of Tom Davies twice ended in bankruptcy.' See post, April 7, 1778.

[629] See ante, i. 391. Davies wrote to Garrick in 1763:—'I remember that during the run of Cymbeline I had the misfortune to disconcert you in one scene of that play, for which I did immediately beg your pardon, and did attribute it to my accidentally seeing Mr. Churchill in the pit, with great truth; and that was the only time I can recollect of my being confused or unmindful of my business when that gentleman was before me. I had even then a more moderate opinion of my abilities than your candour would allow me, and have always acknowledged that gentleman's picture of me was fair.' He adds that he left the stage on account of Garrick's unkindness, 'who,' he says, 'at rehearsals took all imaginable pains to make me unhappy.' Garrick Corres. i. 165.

[630] He was afterwards Solicitor-General under Lord Rockingham and Attorney-General under the Duke of Portland. 'I love Mr. Lee exceedingly,' wrote Boswell, 'though I believe there are not any two specifick propositions of any sort in which we exactly agree. But the general mass of sense and sociality, literature and religion, in each of us, produces two given quantities, which unite and effervesce wonderfully well. I know few men I would go farther to serve than Jack Lee.' Letter to the People of Scotland, p. 75. Lord Eldon said that Lee, in the debates upon the India Bill, speaking of the charter of the East India Company, 'expressed his surprise that there could be such political strife about what he called "a piece of parchment, with a bit of wax dangling to it." This most improvident expression uttered by a Crown lawyer formed the subject of comment and reproach in all the subsequent debates, in all publications of the times, and in everybody's conversation.' Twiss's Eldon, iii. 97. In the debate on Fox's India Bill on Dec. 3, 1783, Lee 'asked what was the consideration of a charter, a skin of parchment with a waxed seal at the corner, compared to the happiness of thirty millions of subjects, and the preservation of a mighty empire.' Parl. Hist. xxiv. 49. See Twiss's Eldon, i. 106-9, and 131, for anecdotes of Lee; and ante, ii. 48, note 1.

[631] 'For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.' I Corinthians, xiii. 12.

[632] Goldsmith notices this in the Haunch of Venison:—

My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come; For I knew it (he cried), both eternally fail, The one with his speeches, and t'other with Thrale.'

CROKER. See ante, i. 493.

[633] See post, April 1, 1781. 'Johnson said:—"He who praises everybody praises nobody."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 216.

[634] See ante, p. 55.

[635] Johnson wrote in July 1775:—'Everybody says the prospect of harvest is uncommonly delightful; but this has been so long the summer talk, and has been so often contradicted by autumn, that I do not suffer it to lay much hold on my mind. Our gay prospects have now for many years together ended in melancholy retrospects.' Piozzi Letters, i. 259. On Aug. 27, 1777, he wrote:—'Amidst all these little things there is one great thing. The harvest is abundant, and the weather la merveille. No season ever was finer.' Ib. p. 360. In this month of March, 1778, wheat was selling at 5s. 3d. the bushel in London; at 6s. 10d. in Somerset; and at 5s. 1d. in Northumberland, Suffolk, and Sussex. Gent. Mag. xlviii. 98. The average price for 1778 was 5s. 3d. Ann. Reg. xxi. 282.

[636] See post, iii. 243, Oct. 10, 1779, and April 1, 1781.

[637] The first edition was in 1492. Between that period and 1792, according to this account, there were 3600 editions. But this is very improbable. MALONE. Malone assumes, as Mr. Croker points out, that this rate of publication continued to the year 1792. But after all, the difference is trifling. Johnson here forgot to use his favourite cure for exaggeration—counting. See post, April 18, 1783. 'Round numbers,' he said, 'are always false.' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 198. Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 300), after making a calculation, writes:—'I may err in my calculations, for I am a woeful arithmetician; but no matter, one large sum is as good as another.'

[638] The original passage is: 'Si non potes te talem facere, qualem vis, quomodo poteris alium ad tuum habere beneplacitum?' De Imit. Christ. lib. i. cap. xvi. J. BOSWELL, Jun.

[639] See p. 29 of this vol. BOSWELL.

[640] Since this was written the attainder has been reversed; and Nicholas Barnewall is now a peer of Ireland with this title. The person mentioned in the text had studied physick, and prescribed gratis to the poor. Hence arose the subsequent conversation. MALONE.

[641] See Franklin's Autobiography for his conversion from vegetarianism.

[642] See ante, ii. 217, where Johnson advised Boswell to keep a journal. 'The great thing to be recorded, is the state of your own mind.'

[643] 'Nobody can live long without knowing that falsehoods of convenience or vanity, falsehoods from which no evil immediately visible ensues, except the general degradation of human testimony, are very lightly uttered, and, once uttered, are sullenly supported.' Johnson's Works, viii. 23.

[644] Literary Magazine, 1756, p. 37. BOSWELL. Johnson's Works, vi. 42. See post, Oct. 10, 1779.


'Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi.' 'For while upon such monstrous scenes we gaze, They shock our faith, our indignation raise.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet. 1. 188. Johnson speaks of 'the natural desire of man to propagate a wonder.' Works, vii. 2. 'Wonders,' he says, 'are willingly told, and willingly heard.' Ib. viii. 292. Speaking of Voltaire he says:—'It is the great failing of a strong imagination to catch greedily at wonders.' Ib. vi. 455. See ante, i. 309, note 3, ii. 247, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 19, 1773. According to Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 137) Hogarth said:—'Johnson, though so wise a fellow, is more like King David than King Solomon; for he says in his haste that all men are liars.'

[646] The following plausible but over-prudent counsel on this subject is given by an Italian writer, quoted by 'Rhedi de generatione insectarum,' with the epithet of 'divini poet:'

'Sempre a quel ver ch'ha faccia di menzogna Dee l'uom chiuder le labbra quanto ei puote; Per che senza colpa fa vergogna.' BOSWELL.

It is strange that Boswell should not have discovered that these lines were from Dante. The following is Wright's translation:—

'That truth which bears the semblance of a lie, Should never pass the lips, if possible; Tho' crime be absent, still disgrace is nigh.'

Infern. xvi. 124. CROKER.

[647] See ante, i. 7, note 1.

[648] See ante, i. 405.

[649] 'Of John Wesley he said:—"He can talk well on any subject."' Post, April 15, 1778. Southey says that 'his manners were almost irresistibly winning, and his cheerfulness was like perpetual sunshine.' Life of Wesley, i. 409. Wesley recorded on Dec. 18, 1783 (Journal, iv. 258):—'I spent two hours with that great man Dr. Johnson, who is sinking into the grave by a gentle decay.'

[650] 'When you met him in the street of a crowded city, he attracted notice, not only by his band and cassock, and his long hair white and bright as silver, but by his pace and manner, both indicating that all his minutes were numbered, and that not one was to be lost. "Though I am always in haste," he says of himself, "I am never in a hurry; because I never undertake any more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit."' Southey's Wesley, ii. 397.

[651] No doubt the Literary Club. See ante, ii. 330, 345. Mr. Croker says 'that it appears by the books of the Club that the company on that evening consisted of Dr. Johnson president, Mr. Burke, Mr. Boswell, Dr. George Fordyce, Mr. Gibbon, Dr. Johnson (again named), Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Upper Ossory, and Mr. R. B. Sheridan.' E. no doubt stands for Edmund Burke, and J. for Joshua Reynolds. Who are meant by the other initials cannot be known. Mr. Croker hazards some guesses; but he says that Sir James Mackintosh and Chalmers were as dubious as himself.

[652] See Langhorne's Plutarch, ed. 1809, ii. 133.

[653] 'A man came in balancing a straw upon his nose, and the audience were clapping their hands in all the raptures of applause.' The Citizen of the World, Letter xxi. According to Davis (Life of Garrick, i. 113), 'in one year, after paying all expenses, 11,000 were the produce of Mr. Maddocks (the straw-man's agility), added to the talents of the players at Covent Garden theatre.'

[654] See ante, i. 399.

[655] 'Sir' said Edwards to Johnson (post, April 17, 1778), 'I remember you would not let us say prodigious at College.'

[656] 'Emigration was at this time a common topick of discourse. Dr. Johnson regretted it as hurtful to human happiness.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 15, 1773.

[657] In 1766 Johnson wrote a paper (first published in 1808) to prove that 'the bounty upon corn has produced plenty.' 'The truth of these principles,' he says, 'our ancestors discovered by reason, and the French have now found it by experience. In this regulation we have the honour of being masters to those who, in commercial policy, have been long accounted the masters of the world.' Works, v. 323, 326, and ante, i. 518. 'In 1688 was granted the parliamentary bounty upon the exportation of corn. The country gentlemen had felt that the money price of corn was falling. The bounty was an expedient to raise it artificially to the high price at which it had frequently been sold in the times of Charles I. and II.' Smith's Wealth of Nations, book I. c. xi. The year 1792, the last year of peace before the great war, was likewise the last year of exportation. Penny Cyclo. viii. 22.


'Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote.'

Goldsmith's Retaliation.

Horace Walpole says of Lord Mansfield's speech on the Habeas Corpus Bill of 1758:—'Perhaps it was the only speech that in my time at least had real effect; that is, convinced many persons.' Reign of George II, iii. 120.

[659] Gibbon, who was now a member of parliament, was present at this dinner. In his Autobiography (Misc. Works, i. 221) he says:—'After a fleeting illusive hope, prudence condemned me to acquiesce in the humble station of a mute.... Timidity was fortified by pride, and even the success of my pen discouraged the trial of my voice. But I assisted at the debates of a free assembly; I listened to the attack and defence of eloquence and reason; I had a near prospect of the character, views, and passions of the first men of the age.... The eight sessions that I sat in parliament were a school of civil prudence, the first and most essential virtue of an historian.'

[660] Horace, Odes, iii. 24, 46.

[661] Lord Bolingbroke, who, however detestable as a metaphysician, must be allowed to have had admirable talents as a political writer, thus describes the House of Commons, in his 'Letter to Sir William Wyndham:' —'You know the nature of that assembly; they grow, like hounds, fond of the man who shews them game, and by whose halloo they are used to be encouraged.' BOSWELL. Bolingbroke's Works, i. 15.

[662] Smollett says (Journey, i. 147) that he had a musquetoon which could carry eight balls. 'This piece did not fail to attract the curiosity and admiration of the people in every place through which we passed. The carriage no sooner halted than a crowd surrounded the man to view the blunderbuss, which they dignified with the name of petit canon. At Nuys in Burgundy, he fired it in the air, and the whole mob dispersed, and scampered off like a flock of sheep.'

[663] Smollett does not say that he frightened the nobleman. He mistook him for a postmaster and spoke to him very roughly. The nobleman seems to have been good-natured; for, at the next stage, says Smollett, 'observing that one of the trunks behind was a little displaced, he assisted my servant in adjusting it.' His name and rank were learnt later on. Journey, i. p. 134.

[664] The two things did not happen in the same town. 'I am sure, writes Thicknesse (Travels, ii. 147), 'there was but that single French nobleman in this mighty kingdom, who would have submitted to such insults as the Doctor says he treated him with; nor any other town but Sens [it was Nuys] where the firing of a gun would have so terrified the inhabitants.'

[665] Both Smollett and Thicknesse were great grumblers.

[666] Lord Bolingbroke said of Lord Oxford:—'He is naturally inclined to believe the worst, which I take to be a certain mark of a mean spirit and a wicked soul; at least I am sure that the contrary quality, when it is not due to weakness of understanding, is the fruit of a generous temper and an honest heart.' Bolingbroke's Works, i. 25. Lord Eldon asked Pitt, not long before his death, what he thought of the honesty of mankind. 'His answer was, that he had a favourable opinion of mankind upon the whole, and that he believed that the majority was really actuated by fair meaning and intention.' Twiss's Eldon, i. 499.

[667] Johnson wrote in 175l:—'We are by our occupations, education, and habits of life, divided almost into different species, which regard one another, for the most part, with scorn and malignity.' The Rambler, No. 160. In No. 173 he writes of 'the general hostility which every part of mankind exercises against the rest to furnish insults and sarcasm.' In 1783 he said:—'I am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.' Post, under Aug. 29, 1783.

[668] Johnson thirty-four years earlier, in the Life of Savage (Works, viii. 188), had written:—'The knowledge of life was indeed his chief attainment; and it is not without some satisfaction that I can produce the suffrage of Savage in favour of human nature.' On April 14, 1781, he wrote:—'The world is not so unjust or unkind as it is peevishly represented. Those who deserve well seldom fail to receive from others such services as they can perform; but few have much in their power, or are so stationed as to have great leisure from their own affairs, and kindness must be commonly the exuberance of content. The wretched have no compassion; they can do good only from strong principles of duty.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 199.

[669] Pope thus introduces this story:

'Faith in such case if you should prosecute, I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit, Who send the thief who [that] stole the cash away, And punish'd him that put it in his way.'

Imitations of Horace, book II. epist. ii. [l. 23]. BOSWELL.

[670] Very likely Boswell himself. See post, July 17, 1779, where he put Johnson's friendship to the test by neglecting to write to him.

[671] No doubt Dr. Barnard, Dean of Derry, afterwards Bishop of Killaloe. See ante, p. 84.

[672] The reverse of the story of Combabus, on which Mr. David Hume told Lord Macartney, that a friend of his had written a tragedy. It is, however, possible that I may have been inaccurate in my perception of what Dr. Johnson related, and that he may have been talking of the same ludicrous tragical subject that Mr. Hume had mentioned. BOSWELL. The story of Combabus, which was originally told by Lucian, may be found in Bayle's Dictionary. MALONE.

[673] Horace Walpole, less than three months later, wrote (Letters, vii. 83):—'Poor Mrs. Clive has been robbed again in her own lane [in Twickenham] as she was last year. I don't make a visit without a blunderbuss; one might as well be invaded by the French.' Yet Wesley in the previous December, speaking of highwaymen, records (Journal, iv. 110):—'I have travelled all roads by day and by night for these forty years, and never was interrupted yet.' Baretti, who was a great traveller, says:—'For my part I never met with any robbers in my various rambles through several regions of Europe.' Baretti's Journey from London to Genoa, ii. 266.

[674] A year or two before Johnson became acquainted with the Thrales a man was hanged on Kennington Common for robbing Mr. Thrale. Gent. Mag. xxxiii. 411.

[675] The late Duke of Montrose was generally said to have been uneasy on that account; but I can contradict the report from his Grace's own authority. As he used to admit me to very easy conversation with him, I took the liberty to introduce the subject. His Grace told me, that when riding one night near London, he was attacked by two highwaymen on horseback, and that he instantly shot one of them, upon which the other galloped off; that his servant, who was very well mounted, proposed to pursue him and take him, but that his Grace said, 'No, we have had blood enough: I hope the man may live to repent.' His Grace, upon my presuming to put the question, assured me, that his mind was not at all clouded by what he had thus done in self-defence. BOSWELL.

[676] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22, for a discussion on signing death-warrants.

[677] 'Mr. Dunning the great lawyer,' Johnson called him, ante, p. 128. Lord Shelburne says:—'The fact is well known of the present Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (Lord Loughborough, formerly Mr. Wedderburne) beginning a law argument in the absence of Mr. Dunning, but upon hearing him hem in the course of it, his tone so visibly [sic] changed that there was not a doubt in any part of the House of the reason of it.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, iii. 454.

[678] 'The applause of a single human being,' he once said, 'is of great consequence.' Post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[679] Most likely Boswell's father, for he answers to what is said of this person. He was known to Johnson, he had married a second time, and he was fond of planting, and entertained schemes for the improvement of his property. See Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 4 and 5, 1773. Respectable was still a term of high praise. It had not yet come down to signify 'a man who keeps a gig.' Johnson defines it as 'venerable, meriting respect.' It is not in the earlier editions of his Dictionary. Boswell, in his Hebrides (Oct. 27), calls Johnson the Duke of Argyle's 'respectable guest,' and post, under Sept. 5, 1780, writes of 'the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my illustrious friend.' Dr. Franklin in a dedication to Johnson describes himself as 'a sincere admirer of his respectable talents;' post, end of 1780. In the Gent. Mag. lv. 235, we read that 'a stone now covers the grave which holds his [Dr. Johnson's] respectable remains.' 'I do not know,' wrote Hannah More (Memoirs, i. 43) of Hampton Court, 'a more respectable sight than a room containing fourteen admirals, all by Sir Godfrey.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, ii. 487), congratulating Lord Loughborough on becoming Lord Chancellor, speaks of the support the administration will derive 'from so respectable an ally.' George III. wrote to Lord Shelburne on Sept. 16, 1782, 'when the tie between the Colonies and England was about to be formally severed,' that he made 'the most frequent prayers to heaven to guide me so to act that posterity may not lay the downfall of this once respectable empire at my door.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, iii. 297. Lord Chesterfield (Misc. Works, iv. 308) writing of the hour of death says:—'That moment is at least a very respectable one, let people who boast of not fearing it say what they please.'

[680] The younger Newbery records that Johnson, finding that he had a violin, said to him:—'Young man, give the fiddle to the first beggar man you meet, or you will never be a scholar.' A Bookseller of the Last Century, pp. 127, 145. See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 15.

[681] When I told this to Miss Seward, she smiled, and repeated, with admirable readiness, from Acis and Galatea,

'Bring me a hundred reeds of ample growth, To make a pipe for my CAPACIOUS MOUTH.' BOSWELL.

[682] See post, June 3, 1784, where Johnson again mentions this. In The Spectator, No. 536, Addison recommends knotting, which was, he says, again in fashion, as an employment for 'the most idle part of the kingdom; I mean that part of mankind who are known by the name of the women's-men, or beaus,' etc. In The Universal Passion, Satire i, Young says of fame:—

'By this inspired (O ne'er to be forgot!) Some lords have learned to spell, and some to knot.'

Lord Eldon says that 'at a period when all ladies were employed (when they had nothing better to do) in knotting, Bishop Porteous was asked by the Queen, whether she might knot on a Sunday. He answered, "You may not;" leaving her Majesty to decide whether, as knot and not were in sound alike, she was, or was not, at liberty to do so.' Twiss's Eldon, ii. 355.

[683] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 23.

[684] See post, p. 248.

[685] Martin's style is wanting in that 'cadence which Temple gave to English prose' (post, p. 257). It would not be judged now so severely as it was a century ago, as the following instance will show:—'There is but one steel and tinder-box in all this commonwealth; the owner whereof fails not upon every occasion of striking fire in the lesser isles, to go thither, and exact three eggs, or one of the lesser fowls from each man as a reward for his service; this by them is called the Fire-Penny, and this Capitation is very uneasy to them; I bid them try their chrystal with their knives, which, when they saw it did strike fire, they were not a little astonished, admiring at the strangeness of the thing, and at the same time accusing their own ignorance, considering the quantity of chrystal growing under the rock of their coast. This discovery has delivered them from the Fire-Penny-Tax, and so they are no longer liable to it.'

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