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

The Livery, for a time at least, was Wilkite. Wilkes's name was sent up as Lord Mayor at the top of the list in 1772 and 1773, but he was in each case passed over by the Court of Aldermen. It was not till 1774 that he was elected by a kind of 'Hobson's choice.' The Aldermen had to choose between him and the retiring Lord Mayor, Bull. Walpole, writing of Nov. 1776, says the new Lord Mayor 'invited the Ministers to his feast, to which they had not been asked for seven years' (Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 84). See Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 339.



In September of this year (1778) Miss Burney records the following conversation at Streatham:—'MRS. THRALE. "Pray, Sir, how does Mrs. Williams like all this tribe?" DR. J. "Madam, she does not like them at all; but their fondness for her is not greater. She and Desmoulins quarrel incessantly; but as they can both be occasionally of service to each other, and as neither of them have any other place to go to, their animosity does not force them to separate." ... MR. T. "And pray who is clerk of your kitchen, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, Sir, I am afraid there is none; a general anarchy prevails in my kitchen, as I am told by Mr. Levett, who says it is not now what it used to be." MRS. T. "Mr. Levett, I suppose, Sir, has the office of keeping the hospital in health, for he is an apothecary." DR. J. "Levett, Madam, is a brutal fellow, but I have a good regard for him; for his brutality is in his manners, not his mind." MR. T. "But how do you get your dinners drest?" DR. J. "Why, Desmoulins has the chief management of the kitchen; but our roasting is not magnificent, for we have no jack." MR. T. "No jack! Why, how do they manage without?" DR. J. "Small joints, I believe, they manage with a string, and larger are done at the tavern. I have some thoughts (with a profound gravity) of buying a jack, because I think a jack is some credit to a house." MR. T. "Well, but you'll have a spit too." DR. J. "No, Sir, no; that would be superfluous; for we shall never use it; and if a jack is seen, a spit will be presumed." MRS. T. "But pray, Sir, who is the Poll you talk of? She that you used to abet in her quarrels with Mrs. Williams, and call out, At her again, Poll! Never flinch, Poll!" DR. J. "Why, I took to Poll very well at first, but she won't do upon a nearer examination." MRS. T. "How came she among you, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, I don't rightly remember, but we could spare her very well from us. Poll is a stupid slut. I had some hopes of her at first; but when I talked to her tightly and closely, I could make nothing of her; she was wiggle waggle, and I could never persuade her to be categorical."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 114.

More than a year later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Discord keeps her residence in this habitation, but she has for some time been silent. We have much malice, but no mischief. Levett is rather a friend to Williams, because he hates Desmoulins more. A thing that he should hate more than Desmoulins is not to be found.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 80. Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 213) says:—'He really was oftentimes afraid of going home, because he was so sure to be met at the door with numberless complaints; and he used to lament pathetically to me that they made his life miserable from the impossibility he found of making theirs happy, when every favour he bestowed on one was wormwood to the rest. If, however, I ventured to blame their ingratitude, and condemn their conduct, he would instantly set about softening the one and justifying the other; and finished commonly by telling me, that I knew not how to make allowances for situations I never experienced.' Hawkins (Life, p. 404) says:—'Almost throughout Johnson's life poverty and distressed circumstances seemed to be the strongest of all recommendations to his favour. When asked by one of his most intimate friends, how he could bear to be surrounded by such necessitous and undeserving people as he had about him, his answer was, "If I did not assist them, no one else would, and they must be lost for want."' 'His humanity and generosity, in proportion to his slender income, were,' writes Murphy (Life, p. 146), 'unbounded. It has been truly said that the lame, the blind, and the sorrowful found in his house a sure retreat.' See also ante, iii. 222. At the same time it must be remembered that while Mrs. Desmoulins and Miss Carmichael only brought trouble into the house, in the society of Mrs. Williams and Levett he had real pleasure. See ante, i. 232, note 1, and 243, note 3.

* * * * *



(Page 370, note i.)


'Agli Illustrissimi Signori Il Presidente e Consiglieri dell' Academia Reale delle arti in Londra.

'Avreste forse illustrissimi Signori potuto scegliere molte persone piu degne dell' ufficcio di Segretario per la corrispondenza straniera; ma non sarebbe, son certo, stato possibile di trovar alcuno dal quale questa distinzione sarebbe stata piu stimata. Sento con un animo molto riconoscente la parzialit che l'Academia a ben voluto mostrar per me; e mi conto felicissimo che la mia elezione sia stata graziosamente confirmata dalla sua Maest lo stesso Sovrano che a fondato l'Academia, e che si sempre mostrato il suo beneficente Protettore.

'Vi prego, Signori, di credere que porro ogni mio studio a contribuire tanto che potro alia prosperita della nostra instituzione ch' gia arrivata ad un punto si rispettevole.

'Ho l'onore d'essere, 'Illustrissimi Signori, 'Vostro umilissimo, 'e divotissimo servo, 'Giacomo Boswell.' 'Londra, '31 d'Ottobre, 1791.'


'A Messieurs Le President et les autres Membres du Conseil de l'Academie Royale des Arts Londres.


'C'est avec la plus vive reconnoissance que J'accepte la charge de Secretaire pour la Correspondence etrangre de votre Academie laquelle J'ai eu l'honneur d'etre choisi par vos suffrages unanimes gracieusement confirms par sa Majest.

'Ce choix spontan Messieurs me flatte beaucoup; et m'inspire des desirs les plus ardens de m'en montrer digne, au moins par la promptitude avec laquelle Je saisirai toute occasion de faire ce que Je pourrai pour contribuer l'avantage des Arts et la celebrit de l'Academie.

'J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec toute la consideration possible,


'Votre serviteur tres oblig tres humble et tres fidel, 'Boswell.' 'A Londres, 'ce 31 d'Octobre, 1791'

[In this letter I have made no attempt to correct Boswell's errors.]


'To the President and Council of The Royal Academy of Arts in London.


'Your unsolicited and unanimous election of me to be Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to your Academy, and the gracious confirmation of my election by his Majesty, I acknowledge with the warmest sentiments of gratitude and respect.

'I have always loved the Arts, and during my travels on the Continent I did not neglect the opportunities which I had of cultivating a taste for them.[1372] That taste I trust will now be much improved, when I shall be so happy as to share in the advantages which the Royal Academy affords; and I fondly embrace this very pleasing distinction as giving me the means of providing additional solace for the future years of my life.

'Be assured, Gentlemen, that as I am proud to be a member of an Academy which has the peculiar felicity of not being at all dependant on a Minister[1373], but under the immediate patronage and superintendence of the Sovereign himself, I shall be zealous to do every thing in my power that can be of any service to our excellent Institution.

'I have the honour to be,


'Your much obliged

'And faithful humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.'



'I am much obliged to you for the very polite terms in which you have been pleased to communicate to me my election to be Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and I request that you will lay before the President and Council the enclosed letters signifying my acceptance of that office.

'I am with great regard,


'Your most obedient humble servant,



'31 October, 1791.

'To John Richards, Esq., R.A. &c.'

Bennet Langton's letter of acceptance of the Professorship of Ancient Literature in the place of Johnson is dated April 2, 1788.

I must express my acknowledgments to the President and Council of the Royal Academy for their kindness in allowing me to copy the above letters from the originals that are in their possession.


[1] See ante, March 15, 1776.

[2] Anecdotes of Johnson, p. 176. BOSWELL. 'It is,' he said, 'so very difficult for a sick man not to be a scoundrel.' Ib. p. 175. He called Fludyer a scoundrel (ante, March 20, 1776), apparently because he became a Whig. 'He used to say a man was a scoundrel that was afraid of anything. "Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is," he said, "a scoundrel."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 199, 211. Mr. Croker points out that 'Johnson in his Dictionary defined knave, a scoundrel; sneakup, a scoundrel; rascal, a scoundrel; loon, a scoundrel; lout, a scoundrel; poltroon, a scoundrel; and that he coined the word scoundrelism' (Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773). Churchill, in The Ghost, Book ii. (Poems, i. 1. 217), describes Johnson as one

'Who makes each sentence current pass, With puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass.'

Swift liked the word. 'God forbid,' he wrote, 'that ever such a scoundrel as Want should dare to approach you.' Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xviii. 39.

[3] See ante, i. 49, for Johnson's fondness for the old romances.

[4] Boswell, ante, i. 386, implies that Sheridan's pension was partly due to Wedderburne's influence.

[5] See ante, i. 386.

[6] Akenside, in his Ode to Townshend (Book ii. 4), says:—

'For not imprudent of my loss to come, I saw from Contemplation's quiet cell His feet ascending to another home, Where public praise and envied greatness dwell.'

He had, however, no misgivings, for he thus ends:—

'Then for the guerdon of my lay, This man with faithful friendship, will I say, From youth to honoured age my arts and me hath viewed.'

[7] We have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read now 'which is a great extension.' Post, April 29, 1778.

[8] See post, April, 28, 1783.

[9] See post, March 22, 1783.

[10] See post, March 18, 1784.

[11] Newbery, the publisher, was the vendor of Dr. James's famous powder. It was known that on the doctor's death a chemist whom he had employed meant to try to steal the business, under the pretence that he alone knew the secret of the preparation. A supply of powders enough to last for many years was laid in by Newbery in anticipation, while James left an affidavit that the chemist was never employed in the manufacture. He, however, asserted that James was deprived of his mental faculties when the affidavit was made. Evidence against this was collected and published; the conclusion to the Preface being written by Johnson. A Bookseller of the Last Century, p. 138. See ante, i. 159.

[12] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on the birth of a second son who died early:—'I congratulate you upon your boy; but you must not think that I shall love him all at once as well as I love Harry, for Harry you know is so rational. I shall love him by degrees.' Piozzi Letters, i. 206. A week after Harry's death he wrote:—'I loved him as I never expect to love any other little boy; but I could not love him as a parent.' Ib. p. 310.

[13] Johnson had known this anxiety. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale from Ashbourne on July 7, 1775:—'I cannot think why I hear nothing from you. I hope and fear about my dear friends at Streatham. But I may have a letter this afternoon—Sure it will bring me no bad news.' Ib. i. 263. See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 21, 1773.

[14] See ante, ii. 75.

[15] ante, April 10, 1775.

[16] See ante, March 21, 1776, and post, Sept. 19, 1777.

[17] The phrase 'vexing thoughts,' is I think, very expressive. It has been familiar to me from my childhood; for it is to be found in the Psalms in Metre, used in the churches (I believe I should say kirks) of Scotland, Psal. xliii. v. 5;

'Why art thou then cast down, my soul? What should discourage thee? And why with vexing thoughts art thou Disquieted in me?'

Some allowance must no doubt be made for early prepossession. But at a maturer period of life, after looking at various metrical versions of the Psalms, I am well satisfied that the version used in Scotland is, upon the whole, the best; and that it has in general a simplicity and unction of sacred Poesy; and in many parts its transfusion is admirable. BOSWELL.

[18] 'Burke and Reynolds are the same one day as another,' Johnson said, post, under Sept. 22, 1777. Boswell celebrates Reynolds's 'equal and placid temper,' ante, i. I. On Aug. 12, 1775, he wrote to Temple:—'It is absurd to hope for continual happiness in this life; few men, if any, enjoy it. I have a kind of belief that Edmund Burke does; he has so much knowledge, so much animation, and the consciousness of so much fame.' Letters of Boswell, p. 212.

[19] ante, i. 446.

[20] Baretti says, that 'Mrs. Thrale abruptly proposed to start for Bath, as wishing to avoid the sight of the funeral. She had no man-friend to go with her,' and so he offered his services. Johnson at that moment arrived. 'I expected that he would spare me the jaunt, and go himself to Bath with her; but he made no motion to that effect.' European Mag. xiii. 315. It was on the evening of the 29th that Boswell found Johnson, as he thought, not in very good humour. Yet on the 30th he wrote to Mrs. Thrale, and called on Mr. Thrale. On April 1 and April 4 he again wrote to Mrs. Thrale. He would have gone a second time, he says, to see Mr. Thrale, had he not been made to understand that when he was wanted he would be sent for. Piozzi Letters, i. 309-314.

[21] Pope, Essay on Man, iv. 390. Boswell twice more applies the same line to Johnson, post, June 3, 1781, and under Dec. 13, 1784.

[22] Imlac consoles the Princess for the loss of Pekuah. 'When the clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can imagine how they will be dispelled; yet a new day succeeded to the night, and sorrow is never long without a dawn of ease. But they who restrain themselves from receiving comfort do as the savages would have done, had they put out their eyes when it was dark.' Rasselas, ch. 35. 'Keep yourself busy,' wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'and you will in time grow cheerful. New prospects may open, and new enjoyments may come within your reach.' Piozzi Letters.

[23] See ante, i. 86. It was reprinted in 1789.

[24] See Boswell's Hebrides under Nov. 11, 1773.

[25] See post, under April 29, 1776.

[26] In like manner he writes, 'I catched for the moment an enthusiasm with respect to visiting the Wall of China.' post April 10, 1778. Johnson had had some desire to go upon Cook's expedition in 1772. ante, March 21, 1772.

[27] Mme. D'Arblay (Memoirs of Dr. Burney, i. 284) describes 'the perfect case with which Omai managed a sword which he had received from the King, and which he had that day put on for the first time in order to go to the House of Lords.' He is the 'gentle savage' in Cowpers Task, i. 632.

[28] See ante, ii. 50.

[29] Voltaire (Sicle de Louis XV, ch. xv.), in his account of the battle of Fontenoy, thus mentions him:—'On tait cinquante pas de distance.... Les officiers anglais salurent les Franais en tant leurs chapeaux.... Les officiers des gardes franaises leur rendirent le salut, Mylord Charles Hay, capitaine aux gardes anglaises, cria:—Messieurs des gardes franaises, tirez. Le comte d'Auteroche leur dit a voix haute:—Messieurs, nous ne tirons jamais les premiers; tirez vous-mmes.'

[30] See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection. Hay was third in command in the expedition to North America in 1757. It was reported that he said that 'the nation's wealth was expended in making sham-fights and planting cabbages.' He was put under arrest and sent home to be tried. Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 170. Mr. Croker says that 'the real state of the case was that he had gone mad, and was in that state sent home.' He died before the sentence of the court-martial was promulgated. Croker's Boswell, p. 497.

[31] In Thoughts on the Coronation of George III (Works, v. 458) he expressed himself differently, if indeed the passage is of his writing (see ante, i. 361). He says: 'It cannot but offend every Englishman to see troops of soldiers placed between him and his sovereign, as if they were the most honourable of the people, or the King required guards to secure his person from his subjects. As their station makes them think themselves important, their insolence is always such as may be expected from servile authority.' In his Journey to the Hebrides (ib. ix. 30) he speaks of 'that courtesy which is so closely connected with the military character.' See post, April 10, 1778.

[32] 'It is not in the power even of God to make a polite soldier.' Meander; quoted by Hume, Essays, Part i. 20, note.

[33] In Johnson's Debates for 1741 (Works, x. 387) is on the quartering of soldiers. By the Mutiny Act the innkeeper was required to find each foot-soldier lodging, diet, and small beer for fourpence a day. By the Act as amended that year if he furnished salt, vinegar, small-beer, candles, fire, and utensils to dress their victuals, without payment, he had not to supply diet except on a march. Ib. pp. 416, 420. The allowance of small-beer was fixed at five pints a day, though it was maintained that it should be six. Lord Baltimore, according to Johnson, said that 'as every gentleman's servants each consumed daily six pints, it surely is not to be required that a soldier should live in a perpetual state of warfare with his constitution.' Ib. p. 418. Burke, writing in 1794, says:—'In quarters the innkeepers are obliged to find for the soldiers lodging, fire, candle-light, small-beer, salt and vinegar gratis.' Burke's Corres. iv. 258. Johnson wrote in 1758 (Works, vi. 150):—'The manner in which the soldiers are dispersed in quarters over the country during times of peace naturally produces laxity of discipline; they are very little in sight of their officers; and when they are not engaged in the slight duty of the guard are suffered to live every man his own way.' Fielding, in Tom Jones, bk. ix. ch. 6, humourously describes an innkeeper's grievances.

[34] This alludes to the pleadings of a Stoic and an Epicurean for and against the existence of the Divinity in Lucian's Jupiter the Tragic. CROKER.

[35] 'There is a time when every man is weary of raising difficulties only to ask himself with the solution and desires to enjoy truth without the labour or hazard of contest.' Johnson's Works, vi. 497. See ante May 7, 1773, and post, April 3, 1779, where he says, 'Sir, you are to a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe.' Hume, in his Essay Of Parties in General, had written:—'Such is the nature of the human mind, that it always takes hold of every mind that approaches it; and as it is wonderfully fortified and corroborated by an unanimity of sentiments, so is it, shocked and disturbed by any contrariety.' 'Carlyle was fond of quoting a sentence of Novalis:—"My conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in it."' Saturday Review, No. 1538, p. 521. 'The introducing of new doctrines,' said Bacon, 'is an affectation of tyranny over the understandings and beliefs of men.' Bacon's Nat. Hist., Experiment 1000.

[36] 'We must own,' said Johnson, 'that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 22, 1773. See ante, under Dec. 5, 1775. On June 16, 1784, he said of a very timid boy:—'Placing him at a public school is forcing an owl upon day.' Lord Shelburne says that the first Pitt told him 'that his reason for preferring private to public education was, that he scarce observed a boy who was not cowed for life at Eton; that a public school might suit a boy of a turbulent forward disposition, but would not do where there was any gentleness.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 72.

[37] 'There are,' wrote Hume in 1767, 'several advantages of a Scots education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English.' He decides it does. He continues:—'The only inconvenience is, that few Scotsmen that have had an English education have ever settled cordially in their own country; and they have been commonly lost ever after to their friends.' J.H. Burton's Hume, ii. 403.

[38] He wrote to Temple on Nov. 28, 1789:—'My eldest son has been at Eton since the 15th of October. You cannot imagine how miserable he has been; he wrote to me for some time as if from the galleys, and intreated me to come to him.' Letters of Boswell, p. 314. On July 21, 1790, he wrote of his second son who was at home ill:—'I am in great concern what should be done with him, for he is so oppressed at Westminster School by the big boys that I am almost afraid to send him thither.' Ib. p. 327. On April 6, 1791, he wrote:—'Your little friend James is quite reconciled to Westminster.' Ib. p. 337. Southey, who was at Westminster with young Boswell, describes 'the capricious and dangerous tyranny' under which he himself had suffered. Southey's Life, i. 138.

[39] Horace, Satires, i. 6. 65-88.

[40] Dr. Adam Smith, who was for some time a Professor in the University of Glasgow, has uttered, in his Wealth of Nations [v. I, iii. 2], some reflections upon this subject which are certainly not well founded, and seem to be invidious. BOSWELL.

[41] See ante, ii. 98.

[42] Gibbon denied this. 'The diligence of the tutors is voluntary, and will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change,' Misc. Works, i. 54. Of one of his tutors he wrote:—'He well remembered that he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to perform.' Ib. p. 58. Boswell, post, end of Nov. 1784, blames Dr. Knox for 'ungraciously attacking his venerable Alma Mater.' Knox, who was a Fellow of St. John's, left Oxford in 1778. In his Liberal Education, published in 1781, he wrote:—'I saw immorality, habitual drunkenness, idleness and ignorance, boastingly obtruding themselves on public view.' Knox's Works, iv. 138. 'The general tendency of the universities is favourable to the diffusion of ignorance, idleness, vice, and infidelity among young men.' Ib. p. 147. 'In no part of the kingdom will you meet with more licentious practices and sentiments, and with less learning than in some colleges.' Ib. p. 179. 'The tutors give what are called lectures. The boys construe a classic, the jolly young tutor lolls in his elbow-chair, and seldom gives himself the trouble of interrupting the greatest dunce.' Ib. p. 199. 'Some societies would have been glad to shut themselves up by themselves, and enjoy the good things of the cook and manciple, without the intrusion of commoners who come for education.' Ib. p. 200. 'The principal thing required is external respect from the juniors. However ignorant or unworthy a senior fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty.' Ib. p. 201. The Proctors gave far 'more frequent reprimands to the want of a band, or to the hair tied in queue, than to important irregularities. A man might be a drunkard, a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's animadversion; but no virtue could protect you if you walked on Christ-church meadow or the High Street with a band tied too low, or with no band at all; with a pig-tail, or with a green or scarlet coat.' Ib. p. 159. Only thirteen weeks' residence a year was required. Ib. p. 172. The degree was conferred without examination. Ib. p. 189. After taking it 'a man offers himself as a candidate for orders. He is examined by the Bishop's chaplain. He construes a few verses in the Greek testament, and translates one of the articles from Latin into English. His testimonial being received he comes from his jolly companions to the care of a large parish.' Ib. p. 197. Bishop Law gave in 1781 a different account of Cambridge. There, he complains, such was the devotion to mathematics, that 'young men often sacrifice their whole stock of strength and spirits, and so entirely devote most of their first few years to what is called taking a good degree, as to be hardly good for anything else.' Preface to Archbishop King's Essay on the Origin of Evil, p. xx.

[43] According to Adam Smith this is true only of the Protestant countries. In Roman Catholic countries and England where benefices are rich, the church is continually draining the universities of all their ablest members. In Scotland and Protestant countries abroad, where a chair in a university is generally a better establishment than a benefice, by far the greater part of the most eminent men of letters have been professors. Wealth of Nations, v. i. iii. 3.

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

[45] Dr. Goldsmith was dead before Mr. Maclaurin discovered the ludicrous errour. But Mr. Nourse, the bookseller, who was the proprietor of the work, upon being applied to by Sir John Pringle, agreed very handsomely to have the leaf on which it was contained cancelled, and re-printed without it, at his own expence. BOSWELL. In the second edition, published five years after Goldsmith's death, the story remains. In a foot-note the editor says, that 'he has been credibly informed that the professor had not the defect here mentioned.' The story is not quite as Boswell tells it. 'Maclaurin,' writes Goldsmith (ii. 91), 'was very subject to have his jaw dislocated; so that when he opened his mouth wider than ordinary, or when he yawned, he could not shut it again. In the midst of his harangues, therefore, if any of his pupils began to be tired of his lecture, he had only to gape or yawn, and the professor instantly caught the sympathetic affection; so that he thus continued to stand speechless, with his mouth wide open, till his servant, from the next room, was called in to set his jaw again.'

[46] Dr. Shebbeare (post, April 18, 1778) was tried for writing a libellous pamphlet. Horace Walpole says:—'The bitterest parts of the work were a satire on William III and George I. The most remarkable part of this trial was the Chief Justice Mansfield laying down for law that satires even on dead Kings were punishable. Adieu! veracity and history, if the King's bench is to appreciate your expressions!' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 153.

[47] What Dr. Johnson has here said, is undoubtedly good sense; yet I am afraid that law, though defined by Lord Coke 'the perfection of reason,' is not altogether with him; for it is held in the books, that an attack on the reputation even of a dead man, may be punished as a libel, because tending to a breach of the peace. There is, however, I believe, no modern decided case to that effect. In the King's Bench, Trinity Term, 1790, the question occurred on occasion of an indictment, The King v. Topham, who, as a proprietor of a news-paper entitled The World, was found guilty of a libel against Earl Cowper, deceased, because certain injurious charges against his Lordship were published in that paper. An arrest of Judgment having been moved for, the case was afterwards solemnly argued. My friend Mr. Const, whom I delight in having an opportunity to praise, not only for his abilities but his manners; a gentleman whose ancient German blood has been mellowed in England, and who may be truely said to unite the Baron and the Barrister, was one of the Counsel for Mr. Topham. He displayed much learning and ingenuity upon the general question; which, however, was not decided, as the Court granted an arrest chiefly on the informality of the indictment. No man has a higher reverence for the law of England than I have; but, with all deference I cannot help thinking, that prosecution by indictment, if a defendant is never to be allowed to justify, must often be very oppressive, unless Juries, whom I am more and more confirmed in holding to be judges of law as well as of fact, resolutely interpose. Of late an act of Parliament has passed declaratory of their full right to one as well as the other, in matter of libel; and the bill having been brought in by a popular gentleman, many of his party have in most extravagant terms declaimed on the wonderful acquisition to the liberty of the press. For my own part I ever was clearly of opinion that this right was inherent in the very constitution of a Jury, and indeed in sense and reason inseparable from their important function. To establish it, therefore, by Statute, is, I think, narrowing its foundation, which is the broad and deep basis of Common Law. Would it not rather weaken the right of primo-geniture, or any other old and universally-acknowledged right, should the legislature pass an act in favour of it? In my Letter to the People of Scotland, against diminishing the number of the Lords of Session, published in 1785, there is the following passage, which, as a concise, and I hope a fair and rational state of the matter, I presume to quote: 'The Juries of England are Judges of law as well as of fact, in many civil, and in all criminals trials. That my principles of resistance may not be misapprehended and more than my principles of submission, I protest that I should be the last man in the world to encourage Juries to contradict rashly, wantonly, or perversely, the opinion of the Judges. On the contrary, I would have them listen respectfully to the advise they receive from the Bench, by which they may be often well directed in forming their own opinion; which, "and not anothers," is the opinion they are to return upon their oaths. But where, after due attention to all that the judge has said, they are decidedly of a different opinion from him, they have not only a power and a right, but they are bound in conscience to bring in a verdict accordingly.' BOWELL. The World is described by Gifford in his Baviad and Marviad, as a paper set up by 'a knot of fantastic coxcombs to direct the taste of the town.' Lowndes (Bibl. Man. ed. 1871, p. 2994) confounds it with The World mentioned ante, i. 257. The 'popular gentleman' was Fox, whose Libel Bill passed the House of Lords in June 1792. Parl. Hist. xxix. 1537.

[48] Nobody, that is to say, but Johnson. Post, p. 24, note 2.

[49] Of this service Johnson recorded:—'In the morning I had at church some radiations of comfort.' Pr. and Med. p. 146.

[50] Baretti, in a marginal note on Piozzi Letters, i. 311, says:— 'Mr. Thrale, who was a worldly man, and followed the direction of his own feelings with no philosophical or Christian distinctions, having now lost the strong hope of being one day succeeded in the profitable Brewery by the only son he had left, gave himself silently up to his grief, and fell in a few years a victim to it.' In a second note (ii. 22) he says:—'The poor man could never subdue his grief on account of his son's death.'

[51] A gentleman, who from his extraordinary stores of knowledge, has been stiled omniscient. Johnson, I think very properly, altered it to all-knowing, as it is a verbum solenne, appropriated to the Supreme Being. BOSWELL.

[52] Mrs. Thrale wrote to him on May 3:—'Should you write about Streatham and Croydon, the book would be as good to me as a journey to Rome, exactly; for 'tis Johnson, not Falkland's Islands that interest us, and your style is invariably the same. The sight of Rome might have excited more reflections indeed than the sight of the Hebrides, and so the book might be bigger, but it would not be better a jot.' Piozzi Letters, i 318.

[53] Hawkins says (Life, p. 84) that 'Johnson was never greedy of money, but without money could not be stimulated to write. I have been told by a clergyman with whom he had been long acquainted, that, being (sic) to preach on a particular occasion, he applied to him for help. "I will write a sermon for thee," said Johnson, "but thou must pay me for it."' See post, May 1, 1783. Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 150) records an anecdote that he had from Hawkins:—'When Dr. Johnson was at his work on his Shakespeare, Sir John said to him, "Well! Doctor, now you have finished your Dictionary, I suppose you will labour your present work con amore for your reputation." "No Sir," said Johnson, "nothing excites a man to write but necessity."' Walpole then relates the anecdote of the clergyman, and speaks of Johnson as 'the mercenary.' Walpole's sinecure offices thirty-nine years before this time brought him in 'near, 2000 a year.' In 1782 he wrote that his office of Usher of the Exchequer was worth 1800 a year. Letters, i. lxxix, lxxxii.

[54] Swift wrote in 1735, when he was sixty-seven:—'I never got a farthing by anything I writ, except one about eight years ago, and that was by Mr. Pope's prudent management for me.' Works, xix. 171. It was, I conjecture, Gulliver's Travels. Hume, in 1757, wrote:—'I am writing the History of England from the accession of Henry VII. I undertook this work because I was tired of idleness, and found reading alone, after I had often perused all good books (which I think is soon done), somewhat a languid occupation.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 33.

[55] This Mr. Ellis was, I believe, the last of that profession called Scriveners, which is one of the London companies, but of which the business is no longer carried on separately, but is transacted by attornies and others. He was a man of literature and talents. He was the authour of a Hudibrastick version of Maphsus's Canto, in addition to the neid; of some poems in Dodsley's Collections; and various other small pieces; but being a very modest man, never put his name to anything. He shewed me a translation which he had made of Ovid's Epistles, very prettily done. There is a good engraved portrait of him by Pether, from a picture by Fry, which hangs in the hall of the Scriveners' company. I visited him October 4, 1790, in his ninety-third year, and found his judgment distinct and clear, and his memory, though faded so as to fail him occasionally, yet, as he assured me, and I indeed perceived, able to serve him very well, after a little recollection. It was agreeable to observe, that he was free from the discontent and fretfulness which too often molest old age. He in the summer of that year walked to Rotherhithe, where he dined, and walked home in the evening. He died on the 31st of December, 1791. BOSWELL. The version of Maphsus's 'bombastic' additional Canto is advertised in the Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 233. The engraver of Mr. Ellis's portrait in the first two editions is called Peffer.

[56] 'Admiral Walsingham boasted that he had entertained more miscellaneous parties than any other man in London. At one time he had received the Duke of Cumberland, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Nairne the optician, and Leoni the singer. It was at his table that Dr. Johnson made that excellent reply to a pert coxcomb who baited him during dinner. "Pray now," said he to the Doctor, "what would you give, old gentleman, to be as young and sprightly as I am?" "Why, Sir, I think," replied Johnson, "I would almost be content to be as foolish."' Cradock's Memoirs, i. 172.

[57] 'Dr. Johnson almost always prefers the company of an intelligent man of the world to that of a scholar.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 241.

[58] See J.H. Burton's Hume, i. 174, for an account of him.

[59] Lord Macartney, who with his other distinguished qualities, is remarkable also for an elegant pleasantry, told me, that he met Johnson at Lady Craven's, and that he seemed jealous of any interference: 'So, (said his Lordship, smiling,) I kept back.' BOSWELL.

[60] See ante, i. 242.

[61] There is an account of him in Sir John Hawkins's Life of Johnson. BOSWELL. Hawkins (Life, p. 246) records the following sarcasm of Ballow. In a coffee-house he attacked the profession of physic, which Akenside, who was a physician as well as poet, defended. 'Doctor,' said Ballow, 'after all you have said, my opinion of the profession of physic is this. The ancients endeavoured to make it a science, and failed; and the moderns to make it a trade, and have succeeded.'

[62] See ante, i. 274.

[63] I have in vain endeavoured to find out what parts Johnson wrote for Dr. James. Perhaps medical men may. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 159. Johnson, needing medicine at Montrose, 'wrote the prescription in technical characters.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 21, 1773.

[64] Horace Walpole, writing of May in this year, says that General Smith, an adventurer from the East Indies, who was taken off by Foote in The Nabob, 'being excluded from the fashionable club of young men of quality at Almack's, had, with a set of sharpers, formed a plan for a new club, which, by the excess of play, should draw all the young extravagants thither. They built a magnificent house in St. James's-street, and furnished it gorgeously.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 39.

[65] He said the same when in Scotland. Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 22, 1773. On the other hand, in The Rambler, No. 80, he wrote:—'It is scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being able, when we rise from it, to please ourselves with having given or received some advantages; but a man may shuffle cards, or rattle dice, from noon to midnight, without tracing any new idea in his mind, or being able to recollect the day by any other token than his gain or loss, and a confused remembrance of agitated passions, and clamorous altercations.'

[66] 'Few reflect,' says Warburton, 'on what a great wit has so ingenuously owned. That wit is generally false reasoning.' The wit was Wycherley. See his letter xvi. to Pope in Pope's Works. Warburton's Divine Legation, i. xii.

[67] 'Perhaps no man was ever more happy than Dr. Johnson in the extempore and masterly defence of any cause which, at the given moment, he chose to defend.' Stockdale's Memoirs, i. 261.

[68] Burke, in a letter that he wrote in 1771 (Corres. i. 330), must have had in mind his talks with Johnson. 'Nay,' he said, 'it is not uncommon, when men are got into debates, to take now one side, now another, of a question, as the momentary humour of the man and the occasion called for, with all the latitude that the antiquated freedom and ease of English conversation among friends did, in former days, encourage and excuse.' H.C. Robinson (Diary, iii. 485) says that Dr. Burney 'spoke with great warmth of affection of Dr. Johnson, and said he was the kindest creature in the world when he thought he was loved and respected by others. He would play the fool among friends, but he required deference. It was necessary to ask questions and make no assertion. If you said two and two make four, he would say, 'How will you prove that, Sir?' Dr. Burney seemed amiably sensitive to every unfavourable remark on his old friend.

[69] Patrick Lord Elibank, who died in 1778. BOSWELL. See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 12, 1773.

[70] Yet he said of him:—'Sir, there is nothing conclusive in his talk.' See post, p. 57.

[71] Johnson records of this Good Friday:—'My design was to pass part of the day in exercises of piety, but Mr. Boswell interrupted me; of him, however, I could have rid myself; but poor Thrale, orbus et exspes, came for comfort, and sat till seven, when we all went to church.' Pr. and Med. p. 146.

[72] Johnson's entries at Easter shew this year, and some of the following years, more peace of mind than hitherto. Thus this Easter he records, 'I had at church some radiations of comfort.... When I received, some tender images struck me. I was so mollified by the concluding address to our Saviour that I could not utter it.' Pr. and Med. pp. 146, 149. 'Easter-day, 1777, I was for some time much distressed, but at last obtained, I hope from the God of peace, more quiet than I have enjoyed for a long time. I had made no resolution, but as my heart grew lighter, my hopes revived, and my courage increased.' Ib. p. 158. 'Good Friday, 1778. I went with some confidence and calmness through the prayers.' Ib. p. 164.

[73] 'Nunquam enim nisi navi plen tollo vectorem.' Lib. ii. c. vi. BOSWELL.

[74] See ante, i. 187.

[75] See ante, i. 232.

[76] See ante, ii, 219.

[77] Cheyne's English Malady, or a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of All Kinds, 1733. He recommended a milk, seed, and vegetable diet; by seed he apparently meant any kind of grain. He did not take meat. He drank green tea. At one time he weighed thirty-two stones. His work shews the great change in the use of fermented liquors since his time. Thus he says:—'For nearly twenty years I continued sober, moderate, and plain in my diet, and in my greatest health drank not above a quart, or three pints at most of wine any day' (p. 235). 'For near one-half of the time from thirty to sixty I scarce drank any strong liquor at all. It will be found that upon the whole I drank very little above a pint of wine, or at most not a quart one day with another, since I was near thirty' (p. 243). Johnson a second time recommended Boswell to read this book, post, July 2, 1776. See ante, i. 65. Boswell was not the man to follow Cheyne's advice. Of one of his works Wesley says:—'It is one of the most ingenious books which I ever saw. But what epicure will ever regard it? for "the man talks against good eating and drinking."' Wesley's Journal, i. 347. Young, in his Epistles to Pope, No. ii. says:—

'—three ells round huge Cheyne rails at meat.'

Dr. J. H. Burton (Life of Hume, i. 45) shews reason for believing that a very curious letter by Hume was written to Cheyne.

[78] '"Solitude," he said one day, "is dangerous to reason, without being favourable to virtue; pleasures of some sort are necessary to the intellectual as to the corporeal health; and those who resist gaiety will be likely for the most part to fall a sacrifice to appetite; for the solicitations of sense are always at hand, and a dram to a vacant and solitary person is a speedy and seducing relief. Remember (continued he) that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and possibly mad."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 106.

[79] The day before he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Mr. Thrale's alteration of purpose is not weakness of resolution; it is a wise man's compliance with the change of things, and with the new duties which the change produces. Whoever expects me to be angry will be disappointed. I do not even grieve at the effect, I grieve only at the cause.' Piozzi Letters, i. 314. Mrs. Thrale on May 3 wrote:—'Baretti said you would be very angry, because this dreadful event made us put off our Italian journey, but I knew you better. Who knows even now that 'tis deferred for ever? Mr. Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome, and I am sure he will go no-where that he can help without you.' Ib. p. 317.

[80] See ante, i. 346.

[81] See post, July 22, 1777, note, where Boswell complains of children being 'suffered to poison the moments of festivity.'

[82] Boswell, post, under March 30, 1783, says, 'Johnson discovered a love of little children upon all occasions.'

[83] Johnson at a later period thought otherwise. Post, March 30, 1778.

[84] Pope borrowed from the following lines:—

'When on my sick bed I languish, Full of sorrow, full of anguish; Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying, Panting, groaning, speechless, dying— Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say, Be not fearful, come away.'

Campbell's Brit. Poets, p. 301.

[85] In Rochester's Allusion to the Tenth Satire of the First Book of Horace.

[86] In the Monthly Review for May, 1792, there is such a correction of the above passage, as I should think myself very culpable not to subjoin. 'This account is very inaccurate. The following statement of facts we know to be true, in every material circumstance:—Shiels was the principal collector and digester of the materials for the work: but as he was very raw in authourship, an indifferent writer in prose, and his language full of Scotticisms, Cibber, who was a clever, lively fellow, and then soliciting employment among the booksellers, was engaged to correct the style and diction of the whole work, then intended to make only four volumes, with power to alter, expunge, or add, as he liked. He was also to supply notes, occasionally, especially concerning those dramatick poets with whom he had been chiefly conversant. He also engaged to write several of the Lives; which, (as we are told,) he, accordingly, performed. He was farther useful in striking out the Jacobitical and Tory sentiments, which Shiels had industriously interspersed wherever he could bring them in:—and, as the success of the work appeared, after all, very doubtful, he was content with twenty-one pounds for his labour beside a few sets of the books, to disperse among his friends.—Shiels had nearly seventy pounds, beside the advantage of many of the best Lives in the work being communicated by friends to the undertaking; and for which Mr. Shiels had the same consideration as for the rest, being paid by the sheet, for the whole. He was, however, so angry with his Whiggish supervisor, (He, like his father, being a violent stickler for the political principles which prevailed in the Reign of George the Second,) for so unmercifully mutilating his copy, and scouting his politicks, that he wrote Cibber a challenge: but was prevented from sending it, by the publisher, who fairly laughed him out of his fury. The proprietors, too, were discontented, in the end, on account of Mr. Cibber's unexpected industry; for his corrections and alterations in the proof-sheets were so numerous and considerable, that the printer made for them a grievous addition to his bill; and, in fine, all parties were dissatisfied. On the whole, the work was productive of no profit to the undertakers, who had agreed, in case of success, to make Cibber a present of some addition to the twenty guineas which he had received, and for which his receipt is now in the booksellers' hands. We are farther assured, that he actually obtained an additional sum; when he, soon after, (in the year 1758,) unfortunately embarked for Dublin, on an engagement for one of the theatres there: but the ship was cast away, and every person on board perished. There were about sixty passengers, among whom was the Earl of Drogheda, with many other persons of consequence and property. [Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 555.]

'As to the alledged design of making the compilement pass for the work of old Mr. Cibber, the charges seem to have been founded on a somewhat uncharitable construction. We are assured that the thought was not harboured by some of the proprietors, who are still living; and we hope that it did not occur to the first designer of the work, who was also the printer of it, and who bore a respectable character.

'We have been induced to enter thus circumstantially into the foregoing detail of facts relating to The Lives of the Poets, compiled by Messrs. Cibber and Shiels, from a sincere regard to that sacred principle of Truth, to which Dr. Johnson so rigidly adhered, according to the best of his knowledge; and which we believe, no consideration would have prevailed on him to violate. In regard to the matter, which we now dismiss, he had, no doubt, been misled by partial and wrong information: Shiels was the Doctor's amanuensis; he had quarrelled with Cibber; it is natural to suppose that he told his story in his own way; and it is certain that he was not "a very sturdy moralist." [The quotation is from Johnson's Works, ix. 116.] This explanation appears to me very satisfactory. It is, however, to be observed, that the story told by Johnson does not rest solely upon my record of his conversation; for he himself has published it in his Life of Hammond [ib. viii. 90], where he says, "the manuscript of Shiels is now in my possession." Very probably he had trusted to Shiels's word, and never looked at it so as to compare it with The Lives of the Poets, as published under Mr. Cibber's name. What became of that manuscript I know not. I should have liked much to examine it. I suppose it was thrown into the fire in that impetuous combustion of papers, which Johnson I think rashly executed, when moribundus.' BOSWELL. Mr. Croker, quoting a letter by Griffiths the publisher, says:—'The question is now decided by this letter in opposition to Dr. Johnson's assertion.' Croker's Boswell, p. 818. The evidence of such an infamous fellow as Griffiths is worthless. (For his character see Forster's Goldsmith, i. 161.) As the Monthly Review was his property, the passage quoted by Boswell was, no doubt, written by his direction. D'Israeli (Curiosities of Literature, ed. 1834, vi. 375) says that Oldys (ante, i. 175) made annotations on a copy of Langbaine's Dramatic Poets. 'This Langbaine, with additions by Coxeter, was bought by Theophilus Cibber; on the strength of these notes he prefixed his name to the first collection of the Lives of Our Poets, written chiefly by Shiels.'

[87] Mason's Memoirs of Gray's Life was published in 1775. Johnson, in his Life of Gray (Works, viii. 476), praises Gray's portion of the book:—'They [Gray and Horace Walpole] wandered through France into Italy; and Gray's Letters contain a very pleasing account of many parts of their journey.' 'The style of Madame de Svign,' wrote Mackintosh (Life, ii. 221), 'is evidently copied, not only by her worshipper Walpole, but even by Gray; notwithstanding the extraordinary merits of his matter, he has the double stiffness of an imitator and of a college recluse.'

[88] See ante, ii. 164.

[89] This impartiality is very unlikely. In 1757 Griffiths, the owner of the Monthly, aiming a blow at Smollett, the editor of the Critical, said that The Monthly Review was not written by 'physicians without practice, authors without learning, men without decency, gentlemen without manners, and critics without judgement.' Smollett retorted:— 'The Critical Review is not written by a parcel of obscure hirelings, under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who presume to revise, alter, and amend the articles occasionally. The principal writers in the Critical Review are unconnected with booksellers, un-awed by old women, and independent of each other.' Forster's Goldsmith, i. 100. 'A fourth share in The Monthly Review was sold in 1761 for 755.' A Bookseller of the Last Century, p. 19.

[90] See ante, ii. 39.

[91] Horace Walpole writes:—'The scope of the Critical Review was to decry any work that appeared favourable to the principles of the Revolution.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 260.

[92] 'The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole book was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expense of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him at least a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in 1764, and the conclusion in 1771. Andrew Reid undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was employed, I know not at what price, to point the pages of Henry the Second. When time brought the History to a third edition, Reid was either dead or discarded; and the superintendence of typography and punctuation was committed to a man originally a comb-maker, but then known by the style of Doctor. Something uncommon was probably expected, and something uncommon was at last done; for to the Doctor's edition is appended, what the world had hardly seen before, a list of errors in nineteen pages.' Johnson's Works, viii. 492. In the first edition of The Lives of the Poets 'the Doctor' is called Dr. Saunders. So ambitious was Lord Lyttelton's accuracy that in the second edition he gave a list of 'false stops which hurt the sense.' For instance, the punctuation of the following paragraph:—'The words of Abbot Suger, in his life of Lewis le Gros, concerning this prince are very remarkable,' he thus corrects, 'after prince a comma is wanting.' See ante, ii. 37.

[93] According to Horace Walpole, Lyttelton had angered Smollett by declining 'to recommend to the stage' a comedy of his. 'He promised,' Walpole continues, 'if it should be acted, to do all the service in his power for the author. Smollett's return was drawing an abusive portrait of Lord Lyttelton in Roderick Random.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 259.

[94] Spectator, No. 626. See post, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection, near the end.

[95] When Steele brought The Spectator to the close of its first period, he acknowledged in the final number (No. 555) his obligation to his assistants. In a postscript to the later editions he says:—'It had not come to my knowledge, when I left off The Spectator, that I owe several excellent sentiments and agreeable pieces in this work to Mr. Ince, of Gray's Inn.' Mr. Ince died in 1758. Gent. Mag. 1758, p. 504.

[96] Spectator, No. 364.

[97] Sir Edward Barry, Baronet. BOSWELL.

[98] 'We form our words with the breath of our nostrils, we have the less to live upon for every word we speak.' Jeremy Taylor's Holy Dying, ch. i. sec. 1.

[99] On this day Johnson sent the following application for rooms in Hampton Court to the Lord Chamberlain:—

'My Lord, Being wholly unknown to your lordship, I have only this apology to make for presuming to trouble you with a request, that a stranger's petition, if it cannot be easily granted, can be easily refused. Some of the apartments are now vacant in which I am encouraged to hope that by application to your lordship I may obtain a residence. Such a grant would be considered by me as a great favour; and I hope that to a man who has had the honour of vindicating his Majesty's Government, a retreat in one of his houses may not be improperly or unworthily allowed. I therefore request that your lordship will be pleased to grant such rooms in Hampton Court as shall seem proper to

'My Lord,

'Your lordship's most obedient and most faithful humble servant,


'April 11, 1776.'

'Mr. Saml. Johnson to the Earl of Hertford, requesting apartments at Hampton Court, 11th May, 1776.' And within, a memorandum of the answer:—'Lord C. presents his compliments to Mr. Johnson, and is sorry he cannot obey his commands, having already on his hands many engagements unsatisfied.' Prior's Malone, p. 337. The endorsement does not, it will be seen, agree in date with the letter. Lord C. stands for the Lord Chamberlain.

[100] Hogarth saw Garrick in Richard III, and on the following night in Abel Drugger; he was so struck, that he said to him, 'You are in your element when you are begrimed with dirt, or up to your elbows in blood.' Murphy's Garrick, p. 21. Cooke, in his Memoirs of Macklin, p. 110, says that a Lichfield grocer, who came to London with a letter of introduction to Garrick from Peter Garrick, saw him act Abel Drugger, and returned without calling on him. He said to Peter Garrick: 'I saw enough of him on the stage. He may be rich, as I dare say any man who lives like him must be; but by G-d, though he is your brother, Mr. Garrick, he is one of the shabbiest, meanest, most pitiful hounds I ever saw in the whole course of my life.' Abel Drugger is a character in Ben Jonson's Alchemist.

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

[102] Lord Shelburne in 1766, at the age of twenty-nine, was appointed Secretary of State in Lord Chatham's ministry. Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, ii. 1. Jeremy Bentham said of him:—'His head was not clear. He felt the want of clearness. He had had a most wretched education.' Ib. p. 175.

[103] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:—'I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy, but seventy-one.... But what if I am seventy-two; I remember Sulpitius says of Saint Martin (now that's above your reading), Est animus victor annorum et senectuti cedere nescius. Match me that among your young folks.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

[104] Lady Hesketh, taking up apparently a thought which Paoli, as reported by Boswell, had thrown out in conversation, proposed to Cowper the Mediterranean for a topic. 'He replied, "Unless I were a better historian than I am, there would be no proportion between the theme and my ability. It seems, indeed, not to be so properly a subject for one poem, as for a dozen."' Southey's Cowper, iii. 15, and vii. 44.

[105] Burke said:—'I do not know how it has happened, that orators have hitherto fared worse in the hands of the translators than even the poets; I never could bear to read a translation of Cicero.' Life of Sir W. Jones, p. 196.

[106] See ante, ii. 188.

[107] See ante, ii. 182.

[108] See post, under date of Dec. 24, 1783, where mention seems to be made of this evening.

[109] See ante, note, p. 30. BOSWELL

[110] 'Thomson's diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts "both their lustre and their shade;" such as invest them with splendour, through which, perhaps, they are not always easily discerned.' Johnson's Works, viii. 378. See ante, i. 453, and ii. 63.

[111] A Collection of Poems in six volumes by several hands, 1758.

[112] Ib. i. 116.

[113] Mr. Nicholls says, 'The Spleen was a great favourite with Gray for its wit and originality.' Gray's Works, v. 36. See post, Oct. 10, 1779, where Johnson quotes two lines from it. 'Fling but a stone, the giant dies,' is another line that is not unknown.

[114] A noted highwayman, who after having been several times tried and acquitted, was at last hanged. He was remarkable for foppery in his dress, and particularly for wearing a bunch of sixteen strings at the knees of his breeches. BOSWELL.

[115] Goldsmith wrote a prologue for it. Horace Walpole wrote on Dec. 14, 1771 (Letters, v. 356):—'There is a new tragedy at Covent Garden called Zobeide, which I am told is very indifferent, though written by a country gentleman.' Cradock in his old age published his own Memoirs.

[116] '"Dr. Farmer," said Johnson {speaking of this essay}, "you have done that which never was done before; that is, you have completely finished a controversy beyond all further doubt." "There are some critics," answered Farmer, "who will adhere to their old opinions." "Ah!" said Johnson, "that may be true; for the limbs will quiver and move when the soul is gone."' Northcote's Reynolds, i. 152. Farmer was Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge (ante, i. 368). In a letter dated Oct. 3, 1786, published in Romilly's Life (i. 332), it is said:—'Shakespeare and black letter muster strong at Emanuel.'

[117] 'When Johnson once glanced at this Liberal Translation of the New Testament, and saw how Dr. Harwood had turned Jesus wept into Jesus, the Saviour of the world, burst into a flood of tears, he contemptuously threw the book aside, exclaiming, "Puppy!" The author, Dr. Edward Harwood, is not to be confounded with Dr. Thomas Harwood, the historian of Lichfield.' Croker's Boswell, p. 836.

[118] See an ingenious Essay on this subject by the late Dr. Moor, Greek Professor at Glasgow. BOSWELL.

[119] See ante, i. 6, note 2.

[120] 'Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!' Job xix. 23.

[121] 'The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be said of him as he says of himself, that he is "a man not easily jealous," yet we cannot but pity him, when at last we find him "perplexed in the extreme."' Johnson's Works, v. 178.

[122] Of Dennis's criticism of Addison's Cato, he says:—'He found and shewed many faults; he shewed them indeed with anger, but he found them with acuteness, such as ought to rescue his criticism from oblivion.' Ib. vii. 457. In a note on 'thunder rumbling from the mustard-bowl' (The Dunciad, ii. 226) it is said:—'Whether Mr. Dennis was the inventor of that improvement, I know not; but is certain that, being once at a tragedy of a new author, he fell into a great passion at hearing some, and cried, "S'death! that is my thunder."' See D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, i. 135, for an amplification of this story.

[123] Sir James Mackintosh thought Cumberland was meant. I am now satisfied that it was Arthur Murphy. CROKER. The fact that Murphy's name is found close to the story renders it more likely that Mr. Croker is right.

[124] 'Obscenity and impiety,' Johnson boasted in the last year of his life, 'have always been repressed in my company.' Post, June 11, 1784. See also post, Sept. 22, 1777.

[125] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 18.

[126] See ib. Aug. 15.

[127] See post, April 28, 29, 1778.

[128] See ante, Jan. 21, 1775, note.

[129] See post, April 28, 1778. That he did not always scorn to drink when in company is shewn by what he said on April 7, 1778:—'I have drunk three bottles of port without being the worse for it. University College has witnessed this.'

[130] Copy is manuscript for printing.

[131] In The Rambler, No. 134, he describes how he had sat deliberating on the subject for that day's paper, 'till at last I was awakened from this dream of study by a summons from the press; the time was now come for which I had been thus negligently purposing to provide, and, however dubious or sluggish, I was now necessitated to write. To a writer whose design is so comprehensive and miscellaneous that he may accommodate himself with a topick from every scene of life, or view of nature, it is no great aggravation of his task to be obliged to a sudden composition.' See ante, i. 203.

[132] See ante, i. 428.

[133] We have here an involuntary testimony to the excellence of this admirable writer, to whom we have seen that Dr. Johnson directly allowed so little merit. BOSWELL. 'Fielding's Amelia was the most pleasing heroine of all the romances,' he said; 'but that vile broken nose never cured [Amelia, bk. ii. ch. 1] ruined the sale of perhaps the only book, which being printed off betimes one morning, a new edition was called for before night.' Piozzi's Anec. p. 221. Mrs. Carter, soon after the publication of Amelia, wrote (Corres. ii. 71):—'Methinks I long to engage you on the side of this poor unfortunate book, which I am told the fine folks are unanimous in pronouncing to be very sad stuff.' See ante, ii. 49.

[134] Horace Walpole wrote, on Dec, 21, 1775 (Letters, vi. 298):— 'Mr. Cumberland has written an Ode, as he modestly calls it, in praise of Gray's Odes; charitably no doubt to make the latter taken notice of. Garrick read it the other night at Mr. Beauclerk's, who comprehended so little what it was about, that he desired Garrick to read it backwards, and try if it would not be equally good; he did, and it was.' It was to this reading backwards that Dean Barnard alludes in his verses—

'The art of pleasing, teach me, Garrick; Thou who reversest odes Pindaric, A second time read o'er.'

See post, under May 8, 1781.

[135] Mr. Romney, the painter, who has now deservedly established a high reputation. BOSWELL. Cumberland (Memoirs, i. 384) dedicated his Odes to him, shortly after 'he had returned from pursuing his studies at Rome.' 'A curious work might be written,' says Mr. Croker, 'on the reputation of painters. Hayley dedicated his lyre (such as it was) to Romney. What is a picture of Romney now worth?' The wheel is come full circle, and Mr. Croker's note is as curious as the work that he suggests.

[136] Page 32 of this vol. BOSWELL.

[137] Thurlow.

[138] Wedderburne. Boswell wrote to Temple on May 1:—'Luckily Dr. Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in some interesting business, and Johnson loves much to be so consulted and so comes up.' Letters of Boswell, p. 234. On the 14th Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'Mr. Wedderburne has given his opinion today directly against us. He thinks of the claim much as I think.' Piozzi Letters, i. 323. In Notes and Queries, 6th S., v. 423, in a letter from Johnson to Taylor, this business is mentioned.

[139] Goldsmith wrote in 1762:—'Upon a stranger's arrival at Bath he is welcomed by a peal of the Abbey bells, and in the next place by the voice and music of the city waits.' Cunningham's Goldsmith's Works, iv. 57. In Humphry Clinker (published in 1771), in the Letter of April 24, we read that there was 'a peal of the Abbey bells for the honour of Mr. Bullock, an eminent cow-keeper of Tottenham, who had just arrived at Bath to drink the waters for indigestion.' The town waits are also mentioned. The season was not far from its close when Boswell arrived. Melford, in Humphry Clinker, wrote from Bath on May 17:—'The music and entertainments of Bath are over for this season; and all our gay birds of passage have taken their flight to Bristol-well [Clifton], Tunbridge, Brighthelmstone, Scarborough, Harrowgate, &c. Not a soul is seen in this place, but a few broken-winded parsons, waddling like so many crows along the North Parade.' Boswell had soon to return to London 'to eat commons in the Inner Temple.' Delighted with Bath, and apparently pleasing himself with the thought of a brilliant career at the Bar, he wrote to Temple, 'Quin said, "Bath was the cradle of age, and a fine slope to the grave." Were I a Baron of the Exchequer and you a Dean, how well could we pass some time there!' Letters of Boswell, pp. 231, 234.

[140] To the rooms! and their only son dead three days over one month!

'That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two.'

Hamlet, act i. sc. 2.

[141] No doubt Mr. Burke. See ante, April 15, 1773, and under Oct. 1, 1774, note, and Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 15.

[142] Mr. E.J. Payne, criticising this passage, says:—'It is certain that Burke never thought he was deserting any principle of his own in joining the Rockinghams.' Payne's Burke, i. xvii.

[143] No doubt Mrs. Macaulay. See ante, i. 447. 'Being asked whether he had read Mrs. Macaulay's second volume of the History of England, "No, Sir," says he, "nor her first neither."' Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 205.

[144] 'Of this distinguished Epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate "the man who calls me cousin" [Spence's Anecdotes, ed. 1820, p. 161]; and when he was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, "The Epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first." [Ib. p. 257.] It was known in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.' Johnson's Works, viii. 389. See ante, i. 181.

[145] See post, Jan. 20, 1782.

[146] On May 10, 1768, on which day the new parliament met, a great body of people gathered round the King's Bench prison in St. George's Fields in expectation that Wilkes would go thence to the House of Commons. Some kind of a riot arose, a proclamation was made in the terms of the Riot-Act, and the soldiers firing by order of Justice Gillam, killed five or six on the spot. The justice and one of the soldiers were on the coroner's inquest brought in guilty of wilful murder, and two other soldiers of aiding and abetting therein. With great difficulty the prisoners were saved from the rage of the populace. They were all acquitted however. At Gillam's trial the judge ruled in his favour, so that the case did not go to the jury. Of the trial of one of the soldiers 'no account was allowed to be published by authority.' Ann. Reg. 1768, pp. 108-9, 112, 136-8, 233. Professor Dicey (Law of the Constitution, p. 308) points out that 'the position of a soldier may be both in theory and practice, a difficult one. He may, as it has been well said, be liable to be shot by a court-martial if he disobeys an order, and to be hanged by a judge and jury if he obeys it.' The remembrance of these cases was perhaps the cause of the feebleness shewn in the Gordon Riots in June 1780. Dr. Franklin wrote from London on May 14, 1768 (Memoirs, iii. 315):—'Even this capital is now a daily scene of lawless riot. Mobs patrolling the streets at noon-day, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal-merchants that refuse to give them more wages; sawyers destroying saw-mills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats, and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women, and children.' 'While I am writing,' he adds (ib. p. 316), 'a great mob of coal-porters fill the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles to be ducked for working at the old wages.' See also ib. p. 402. Hume agreed with Johnson about the 'imbecility' of the government; but he drew from it different conclusions. He wrote on Oct. 27, 1775, about the addresses to the King:—'I wish they would advise him first to punish those insolent rascals in London and Middlesex, who daily insult him and the whole legislature, before he thinks of America. Ask him, how he can expect that a form of government will maintain an authority at 3000 miles' distance, when it cannot make itself be respected, or even be treated with common decency, at home.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 479. On the 30th of this month of April—four days after the conversation in the text—John Home recorded:—'Mr. Hume cannot give any reason for the incapacity and want of genius, civil and military, which marks this period.' Ib. p. 503.

[147] See Dr. Johnson, His Friends, &c., p. 252.

[148] It was published in 1743.

[149] I am sorry that there are no memoirs of the Reverend Robert Blair, the author of this poem. He was the representative of the ancient family of Blair, of Blair, in Ayrshire, but the estate had descended to a female, and afterwards passed to the son of her husband by another marriage. He was minister of the parish of Athelstanford, where Mr. John Home was his successor; so that it may truely be called classick ground. His son, who is of the same name, and a man eminent for talents and learning, is now, with universal approbation, Solicitor-General of Scotland. BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 94) describes Blair 'as so austere and void of urbanity as to make him quite disagreeable to young people.'

[150] In 1775 Mrs. Montagu gave Mrs. Williams a small annuity. Croker's Boswell, pp. 458, 739. Miss Burney wrote of her:—'Allowing a little for parade and ostentation, which her power in wealth and rank in literature offer some excuse for, her conversation is very agreeable.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 325. See post, April 7, 1778, note.


'Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame, Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.'

Pope, Sat. Ep. i. 135.

[152] Johnson refers to Jenyns's View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion, published this spring. See post, April 15, 1778. Jenyns had changed his view, for in his Origin of Evil he said, in a passage quoted with applause by Johnson (Works, vi. 69), that 'it is observable that he who best knows our formation has trusted no one thing of importance to our reason or virtue; he trusts to our vanity or compassion for our bounty to others.'

[153] Mr. Langton is certainly meant. It is strange how often his mode of living was discussed by Johnson and Boswell. See post, Nov. 16, 1776, July 22, and Sept. 22, 1777, March 18, April 17, 18, and 20, May 12, and July 3, 1778.

[154] Baretti made a brutal attack on Mrs. Piozzi in the European Mag. for 1788, xiii. 313, 393, and xiv. 89. He calls her 'the frontless female, who goes now by the mean appellation of Piozzi; La Piozzi, as my fiddling countrymen term her; who has dwindled down into the contemptible wife of her daughter's singing-master.' His excuse was the attacks made on him by her in the correspondence just published between herself and Johnson (see Piozzi Letters, i. 277, 319). He suspected her, and perhaps with reason, of altering some of these letters. Other writers beside Baretti attacked her. To use Lord Macaulay's words, grossly exaggerated though they are, 'She fled from the laughter and hisses of her countrymen and countrywomen to a land where she was unknown.' Macaulay's Writings and Speeches, ed. 1871, p. 393. According to Dr. T. Campbell (Diary, p. 33) Baretti flattered Mrs. Thrale to her face. 'Talking as we were at tea of the magnitude of the beer vessels, Baretti said there was one thing in Mr. Thrale's house still more extraordinary; meaning his wife. She gulped the pill very prettily—so much for Baretti.' See post, Dec. 21, 1776.

[155] Likely enough Boswell himself. On three other occasions he mentions Otaheit; ante, May 7, 1773, post, June 15, 1784 and in his Hebrides, Sept. 23, 1773. He was fond of praising savage life. See ante, ii. 73.

[156] Chatterton said that he had found in a chest in St. Mary Redcliffe Church manuscript poems by Canynge, a merchant of Bristol in the fifteenth century, and a friend of his, Thomas Rowley. He gave some of these manuscripts to George Catcot, a pewterer of Bristol, who communicated them to Mr. Barret, who was writing a History of Bristol. Rose's Biog. Dict. vi. 256.

[157] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 22.

[158] See ante, i. 396.

[159] 'Artificially. Artfully; with skill.' Johnson's dictionary.

[160] Mr. Tyrwhitt, Mr. Warton, Mr. Malone. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote on May 16:—'Steevens seems to be connected with Tyrwhitt in publishing Chatterton's poems; he came very anxiously to know the result of our inquiries, and though he says he always thought them forged, is not well pleased to find us so fully convinced.' Piozzi Letters, i. 326.

[161] Catcot had been anticipated by Smith the weaver (2 Henry VI. iv. 2)—'Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it; therefore deny it not.'

[162] Horace Walpole says (Works, iv. 224) that when he was 'dining at the Royal Academy, Dr. Goldsmith drew the attention of the company with an account of a marvellous treasure of ancient poems lately discovered at Bristol, and expressed enthusiastic belief in them; for which he was laughed at by Dr. Johnson, who was present.... You may imagine we did not at all agree in the measure of our faith; but though his credulity diverted me, my mirth was soon dashed; for, on asking about Chatterton, he told me he had been in London, and had destroyed himself.'

[163] Boswell returned a few days earlier. On May 1 he wrote to Temple: —'Luckily Dr. Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in some interesting business; and Johnson loves much to be so consulted, and so comes up. I am now at General Paoli's, quite easy and gay, after my journey; not wearied in body or dissipated in mind. I have lodgings in Gerrard Street, where cards are left to me; but I lie at the General's, whose attention to me is beautiful.' Letters of Boswell, p. 234. Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on May 6:—'Tomorrow I am to dine, as I did yesterday, with Dr. Taylor. On Wednesday I am to dine with Oglethorpe; and on Thursday with Paoli. He that sees before him to his third dinner has a long prospect.' Piozzi Letters, i. 320.

[164] See ante, May 12, 1775.

[165] In the Dramatis Person of the play are 'Aimwell and Archer, two gentlemen of broken fortunes, the first as master, and the second as servant.' See ante, March 23, 1776, for Garrick's opinion of Johnson's 'taste in theatrical merit.'

[166] Johnson is speaking of the Respublic Elzevirian, either 36 or 62 volumes. 'It depends on every collector what and how much he will admit.' Ebert's Bibl. Dict. iii. 1571. See ante, ii. 7.

[167] See post, under Oct. 20, 1784, for 'the learned pig.'

[168] In the first edition Mme. de Svign's name is printed Sevign, in the second Sevig, in the third Sevigne. Authors and compositors last century troubled themselves little about French words.

[169] Milton had put the same complaint into Adam's mouth:—

'Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me man? ... ... As my will Concurred not to my being,' &c.

Paradise Lost, x. 743.

[170] See ante, April 10, 1775.

[171] Fielding in the Covent Garden Journal for June 2, 1752 (Works, x. 80), says of the difficulty of admission at the hospitals:—'The properest objects (those I mean who are most wretched and friendless) may as well aspire at a place at Court as at a place in the Hospital.'

[172] 'We were talking of Dr. Barnard, the Provost of Eton. "He was the only man," says Mr. Johnson quite seriously, "that did justice to my good breeding; and you may observe that I am well-bred to a degree of needless scrupulosity. No man," continued he, not observing the amazement of his hearers, "no man is so cautious not to interrupt another; no man thinks it so necessary to appear attentive when others are speaking; no man so steadily refuses preference on himself, or so willingly bestows it on another, as I do; no man holds so strongly as I do the necessity of ceremony, and the ill effects which follow the breach of it; yet people think me rude; but Barnard did me justice."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 36. On p. 258, Mrs. Piozzi writes:—'No one was indeed so attentive not to offend in all such sort of things as Dr. Johnson; nor so careful to maintain the ceremonies of life; and though he told Mr. Thrale once, that he had never sought to please till past thirty years old, considering the matter as hopeless, he had been always studious not to make enemies by apparent preference of himself.' See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 27, 1773, where Johnson said:—'Sir, I look upon myself as a very polite man.'

[173] The younger Colman in his boyhood met Johnson and Gibbon. 'Johnson was in his rusty brown and his black worsteds, and Gibbon in a suit of flowered velvet, with a bag and sword. He condescended, once or twice in the course of the evening, to talk with me;—the great historian was light and playful, suiting his matter to the capacity of the boy; but it was done more sua [sic]; still his mannerism prevailed; still he tapped his snuff-box; still he smirked, and smiled, and rounded his periods with the same air of good-breeding, as if he were conversing with men. His mouth, mellifluous as Plato's, was a round hole, nearly in the centre of his visage.' Random Records, i. 121.

[174] Samuel Sharp's Letters from Italy were published in 1766. See ante, ii. 57, note 2, for Baretti's reply to them.

[175] It may be observed, that Mr. Malone, in his very valuable edition of Shakspeare, has fully vindicated Dr. Johnson from the idle censures which the first of these notes has given rise to. The interpretation of the other passage, which Dr. Johnson allows to be disputable, he has clearly shown to be erroneous. BOSWELL. The first note is on the line in Hamlet, act v. sc. 2—

'And many such like as's of great charge.'

Johnson says:—'A quibble is intended between as the conditional particle, and ass the beast of burthen.' On this note Steevens remarked:—'Shakespeare has so many quibbles of his own to answer for, that there are those who think it hard he should be charged with others which perhaps he never thought of.' The second note is on the opening of Hamlet's soliloquy in act iii. sc. i. The line—

'To be, or not to be, that is the question,'

is thus paraphrased by Johnson:—'Before I can form any rational scheme of action under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to decide whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be.'

[176] See post, March 30, April 14 and 15, 1778, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25.

[177] Wesley wrote on Jan. 21, 1767 (Journal, iii. 263):—'I had a conversation with an ingenious man who proved to a demonstration that it was the duty of every man that could to be "clothed in purple and fine linen," and to "fare sumptuously every day;" and that he would do abundantly more good hereby than he could do by "feeding the hungry and clothing the naked." O the depth of human understanding! What may not a man believe if he will?' Much the same argument Johnson, thirty-three years earlier, had introduced in one of his Debates (Works, xi. 349). He makes one of the speakers say:—'Our expenses are not all equally destructive; some, though the method of raising them be vexatious and oppressive, do not much impoverish the nation, because they are refunded by the extravagance and luxury of those who are retained in the pay of the court.' See post, March 23, 1783. The whole argument is nothing but Mandeville's doctrine of 'private vices, public benefits.' See post, April 15, 1778.

[178] See ante, iii. 24.

[179] Johnson no doubt refers to Walpole in the following passage (Works, viii. l37):—'Of one particular person, who has been at one time so popular as to be generally esteemed, and at another so formidable as to be universally detested, Mr. Savage observed that his acquisitions had been small, or that his capacity was narrow, and that the whole range of his mind was from obscenity to politicks, and from politicks to obscenity.' This passage is a curious comment on Pope's lines on Sir Robert—

'Seen him I have, but in his happier hour Of social pleasure, ill-exchanged for power.'

Epilogue to the Satires, i. 29.

[180] Most likely Boswell himself. See ante, March 25, 1776, and post, April 10, 1778, for Johnson's dislike of questioning. See also ante, ii. 84, note 3.

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