The Project Gutenberg EBook of Life Of Johnson, Volume 4 (of 6), by Boswell

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Title: Life Of Johnson, Volume 4 (of 6)

Author: Boswell

Release Date: December 1, 2003 [EBook #10357]

Language: English

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VOLUME IV.—LIFE (1780-1784)
















LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. (1780-DEC. 13, 1784)








Being disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so that I could hear none of his admirable sayings, I shall compensate for this want[1] by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to my worthy friend Mr. Langton, whose kind communications have been separately interwoven in many parts of this work. Very few articles of this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that habit; which he regrets, and which those who know the numerous opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of Johnsonian wit and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversations with him, that a good store of Johnsoniana treasured in his mind[2]; and I compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which when dug, fully rewards the labour employed. The authenticity of every article is unquestionable. For the expression, I, who wrote them down in his presence, am partly answerable.

'Theocritus is not deserving of very high respect as a writer; as to the pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superiour. He wrote when there had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in description, though living in a beautiful country: the manners painted are coarse and gross. Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of Nature, and more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the King of that country; which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it; and the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumphant. Theocritus seems not to have seen that the brothers have the advantage in their argument over his Argonaut heroes. The Sicilian Gossips is a piece of merit.'

'Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of ancient authours, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their writings.'

'Mattaire's account of the Stephani[3] is a heavy book. He seems to have been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship, but with little geometry or logick in his head, without method, and possessed of little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a set in his old age, which he called 'Senilia;' in which he shews so little learning or taste in writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl[4]. In matters of genealogy it is necessary to give the bare names as they are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they require to have inflection given to them. His book of the Dialects[5] is a sad heap of confusion; the only way to write on them is to tabulate them with Notes, added at the bottom of the page, and references.'

'It may be questioned, whether there is not some mistake as to the methods of employing the poor, seemingly on a supposition that there is a certain portion of work left undone for want of persons to do it; but if that is otherwise, and all the materials we have are actually worked up, or all the manufactures we can use or dispose of are already executed, then what is given to the poor, who are to be set at work, must be taken from some who now have it; as time must be taken for learning, according to Sir William Petty's observation, a certain part of those very materials that, as it is, are properly worked up, must be spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. We may apply to well-meaning, but misjudging persons in particulars of this nature, what Giannone[6] said to a monk, who wanted what he called to convert him: "Tu sei santo, ma tu non sei filosofo"—It is an unhappy circumstance that one might give away five hundred pounds in a year to those that importune in the streets, and not do any good[7].'

'There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity than condescension; when he seems to suppose his understanding too powerful for his company[8].'

'Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, "Sir, among the anfractuosities[9] of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one, that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture."'

'John Gilbert Cooper[10] related, that soon after the publication of his Dictionary, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it, told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned Richardson. "Nay, (said Johnson,) I have done worse than that: I have cited thee, David[11]."'

'Talking of expence, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. "Whereas (said he) you will hardly ever find a country gentleman who is not a good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged to lay out ten pounds[12]."'

'When in good humour he would talk of his own writings with a wonderful frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton asked him, how he liked that paper; he shook his head, and answered, "too wordy." At another time, when one was reading his tragedy of Irene to a company at a house in the country, he left the room; and somebody having asked him the reason of this, he replied, Sir, I thought it had been better[13].'

'Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosity[14] of moral conduct, he said to Mr. Langton, "Men of harder minds than ours will do many things from which you and I would shrink; yet, Sir, they will perhaps do more good in life than we. But let us try to help one another. If there be a wrong twist it may be set right. It is not probable that two people can be wrong the same way."'

'Of the Preface to Capel's Shakspeare, he said, "If the man would have come to me, I would have endeavoured to endow his purposes with words; for as it is, he doth gabble monstrously[15]."'

'He related, that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him. "Now, (said he,) one may mark here the effect of sleep in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my judgement failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own character."'

'One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the Professors of a foreign University. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there was too much ostentation, said, "I never receive any of these tributes of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign publication, in which mention is made of l'illustre Lockman[16]."'

'Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, "Sir, I know no man who has passed through life with more observation than Reynolds."'

'He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our SAVIOUR'S gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalen, "[Greek: Ae pistis sou sesoke se poreuou eis eiraeuaeu.] Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace[17]." He said, "the manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting."'

'He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth; "Physical truth, is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral truth, is, when you tell a thing sincerely and precisely as it appears to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so, I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been mistaken, I told a moral truth."'

'Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom Mr. Warton in his Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen, gave some account, which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, "I will militate no longer against his nescience." Huggins was master of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant[18]. Johnson said, "It appears to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder without ball."'

'Talking of the Farce of High Life below Stairs[19], he said, "Here is a Farce, which is really very diverting when you see it acted; and yet one may read it, and not know that one has been reading any thing at all."'

'He used at one time to go occasionally to the green room of Drury-lane Theatre[20], where he was much regarded by the players, and was very easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's comick powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He said, "Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands what you say[21]." And she said of him, "I love to sit by Dr. Johnson; he always entertains me." One night, when The Recruiting Officer was acted, he said to Mr. Holland[22], who had been expressing an apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar; "No, Sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit."'

'His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could not have so much intercourse as Mr. Garrick used to profess an anxious wish that there should be[23]. There might, indeed, be something in the contemptuous severity as to the merit of acting, which his old preceptor nourished in himself, that would mortify Garrick after the great applause which he received from the audience. For though Johnson said of him, "Sir, a man who has a nation to admire him every night, may well be expected to be somewhat elated[24];" yet he would treat theatrical matters with a ludicrous slight. He mentioned one evening, "I met David coming off the stage, drest in a woman's riding-hood, when he acted in The Wonder[25]; I came full upon him, and I believe he was not pleased."'

'Once he asked Tom Davies, whom he saw drest in a fine suit of clothes, "And what art thou to-night?" Tom answered, "The Thane of Ross[26];" (which it will be recollected is a very inconsiderable character.) "O brave!" said Johnson.'

'Of Mr. Longley, at Rochester, a gentleman of very considerable learning, whom Dr. Johnson met there, he said, "My heart warms towards him. I was surprised to find in him such a nice acquaintance with the metre in the learned languages; though I was somewhat mortified that I had it not so much to myself, as I should have thought[27]."'

'Talking of the minuteness with which people will record the sayings of eminent persons, a story was told, that when Pope was on a visit to Spence[28] at Oxford, as they looked from the window they saw a Gentleman Commoner, who was just come in from riding, amusing himself with whipping at a post. Pope took occasion to say, "That young gentleman seems to have little to do." Mr. Beauclerk observed, "Then, to be sure, Spence turned round and wrote that down;" and went on to say to Dr. Johnson, "Pope, Sir, would have said the same of you, if he had seen you distilling[29]." JOHNSON. "Sir, if Pope had told me of my distilling, I would have told him of his grotto[30]."'

'He would allow no settled indulgence of idleness upon principle, and always repelled every attempt to urge excuses for it, A friend one day suggested, that it was not wholesome to study soon after dinner. JOHNSON. "Ah, Sir, don't give way to such a fancy. At one time of my life I had taken it into my head that it was not wholesome to study between breakfast and dinner[31]."'

'Mr. Beauclerk one day repeated to Dr. Johnson Pope's lines,

     "Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
      Ten metropolitans in preaching well:" 32

Then asked the Doctor, "Why did Pope say this?" JOHNSON. 'Sir, he hoped it would vex somebody.'

'Dr. Goldsmith, upon occasion of Mrs. Lennox's bringing out a play[33], said to Dr. Johnson at the CLUB, that a person had advised him to go and hiss it, because she had attacked Shakspeare in her book called Shakspeare Illustrated[34]. JOHNSON. "And did not you tell him he was a rascal[35]?" GOLDSMITH. "No, Sir, I did not. Perhaps he might not mean what he said." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, if he lied, it is a different thing." Colman slily said, (but it is believed Dr. Johnson did not hear him,) "Then the proper expression should have been,—Sir, if you don't lie, you're a rascal."'

'His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his death, Johnson said, (with a voice faultering with emotion,) "Sir, I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk[36]."'

'One night at the CLUB he produced a translation of an Epitaph which Lord Elibank had written in English, for his Lady, and requested of Johnson to turn into Latin for him. Having read Domina de North et Gray, he said to Dyer, "You see, Sir, what barbarisms we are compelled to make use of, when modern titles are to be specifically mentioned in Latin inscriptions." When he had read it once aloud, and there had been a general approbation expressed by the company, he addressed himself to Mr. Dyer in particular, and said, "Sir, I beg to have your judgement, for I know your nicety[37]." Dyer then very properly desired to read it over again; which having done, he pointed out an incongruity in one of the sentences. Johnson immediately assented to the observation, and said, "Sir, this is owing to an alteration of a part of the sentence, from the form in which I had first written it; and I believe, Sir, you may have remarked, that the making a partial change, without a due regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent cause of errour in composition."'

'Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, authour of a treatise on Agriculture[38]; and said of him, "Sir, of the objects which the Society of Arts have chiefly in view, the chymical effects of bodies operating upon other bodies, he knows more than almost any man." Johnson, in order to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of this Society, paid up an arrear which had run on for two years. On this occasion he mentioned a circumstance as characteristick of the Scotch. One of that nation, (said he,) who had been a candidate, against whom I had voted, came up to me with a civil salutation. Now, Sir, this is their way. An Englishman would have stomached it, and been sulky, and never have taken further notice of you; but a Scotchman, Sir, though you vote nineteen times against him, will accost you with equal complaisance after each time, and the twentieth time, Sir, he will get your vote.'

'Talking on the subject of toleration, one day when some friends were with him in his study, he made his usual remark, that the State has a right to regulate the religion of the people, who are the children of the State[39]. A clergyman having readily acquiesced in this, Johnson, who loved discussion, observed, "But, Sir, you must go round to other States than our own. You do not know what a Bramin has to say for himself[40]. In short, Sir, I have got no further than this: Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test[41]."'

'A man, he observed, should begin to write soon; for, if he waits till his judgement is matured, his inability, through want of practice to express his conceptions, will make the disproportion so great between what he sees, and what he can attain, that he will probably be discouraged from writing at all[42]. As a proof of the justness of this remark, we may instance what is related of the great Lord Granville[43]; that after he had written his letter, giving an account of the battle of Dettingen, he said, "Here is a letter, expressed in terms not good enough for a tallow-chandler to have used.'"

'Talking of a Court-martial that was sitting upon a very momentous publick occasion, he expressed much doubt of an enlightened decision; and said, that perhaps there was not a member of it, who in the whole course of his life, had ever spent an hour by himself in balancing probabilities[44].'

'Goldsmith one day brought to the CLUB a printed Ode, which he, with others, had been hearing read by its authour in a publick room at the rate of five shillings each for admission[45]. One of the company having read it aloud, Dr. Johnson said, "Bolder words and more timorous meaning, I think never were brought together."'

'Talking of Gray's Odes, he said, "They are forced plants raised in a hot-bed[46]; and they are poor plants; they are but cucumbers after all." A gentleman present, who had been running down Ode-writing in general, as a bad species of poetry, unluckily said, "Had they been literally cucumbers, they had been better things than Odes."—"Yes, Sir, (said Johnson,) for a hog."'

'His distinction of the different degrees of attainment of learning was thus marked upon two occasions. Of Queen Elizabeth he said, "She had learning enough to have given dignity to a bishop;" and of Mr. Thomas Davies he said, "Sir, Davies has learning enough to give credit to a clergyman[47]."'

'He used to quote, with great warmth, the saying of Aristotle recorded by Diogenes Laertius[48]; that there was the same difference between one learned and unlearned, as between the living and the dead.'

'It is very remarkable, that he retained in his memory very slight and trivial, as well as important things[49]. As an instance of this, it seems that an inferiour domestick of the Duke of Leeds had attempted to celebrate his Grace's marriage in such homely rhimes as he could make; and this curious composition having been sung to Dr. Johnson he got it by heart, and used to repeat it in a very pleasant manner. Two of the stanzas were these:—

     "When the Duke of Leeds shall married be
      To a fine young lady of high quality,
      How happy will that gentlewoman be
      In his Grace of Leeds's good company.
      She shall have all that's fine and fair,
      And the best of silk and sattin shall wear;
      And ride in a coach to take the air,
      And have a house in St. James's-square50."

To hear a man, of the weight and dignity of Johnson, repeating such humble attempts at poetry, had a very amusing effect. He, however, seriously observed of the last stanza repeated by him, that it nearly comprized all the advantages that wealth can give.'

'An eminent foreigner, when he was shewn the British Museum, was very troublesome with many absurd inquiries. "Now there, Sir, (said he,) is the difference between an Englishman and a Frenchman. A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows any thing of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing, when he has nothing to say."'

'His unjust contempt for foreigners was, indeed, extreme. One evening, at old Slaughter's coffee-house[51], when a number of them were talking loud about little matters, he said, "Does not this confirm old Meynell's[52] observation—For any thing I see, foreigners are fools[53]."'

'He said, that once, when he had a violent tooth-ach, a Frenchman accosted him thus:—Ah, Monsieur vous etudiez trop[54].'

'Having spent an evening at Mr. Langton's with the Reverend Dr. Parr, he was much pleased with the conversation of that learned gentleman; and after he was gone, said to Mr. Langton, "Sir, I am obliged to you for having asked me this evening. Parr is a fair man. I do not know when I have had an occasion of such free controversy. It is remarkable how much of a man's life may pass without meeting with any instance of this kind of open discussion[55]."'

'We may fairly institute a criticism between Shakspeare and Corneille[56], as they both had, though in a different degree, the lights of a latter age. It is not so just between the Greek dramatick writers and Shakspeare. It may be replied to what is said by one of the remarkers on Shakspeare, that though Darius's shade[57] had prescience, it does not necessarily follow that he had all past particulars revealed to him.'

'Spanish plays, being wildly and improbably farcical, would please children here, as children are entertained with stories full of prodigies; their experience not being sufficient to cause them to be so readily startled at deviations from the natural course of life[58]. The machinery of the Pagans is uninteresting to us[59]: when a Goddess appears in Homer or Virgil, we grow weary; still more so in the Grecian tragedies, as in that kind of composition a nearer approach to Nature is intended. Yet there are good reasons for reading romances; as—the fertility of invention, the beauty of style and expression, the curiosity of seeing with what kind of performances the age and country in which they were written was delighted: for it is to be apprehended, that at the time when very wild improbable tales were well received, the people were in a barbarous state, and so on the footing of children, as has been explained.'

'It is evident enough that no one who writes now can use the Pagan deities and mythology; the only machinery, therefore, seems that of ministering spirits, the ghosts of the departed, witches[60], and fairies, though these latter, as the vulgar superstition concerning them (which, while in its force, infected at least the imagination of those that had more advantage in education, though their reason set them free from it,) is every day wearing out, seem likely to be of little further assistance in the machinery of poetry. As I recollect, Hammond introduces a hag or witch into one of his love elegies, where the effect is unmeaning and disgusting[61].'

'The man who uses his talent of ridicule in creating or grossly exaggerating the instances he gives, who imputes absurdities that did not happen, or when a man was a little ridiculous describes him as having been very much so, abuses his talents greatly. The great use of delineating absurdities is, that we may know how far human folly can go; the account, therefore, ought of absolute necessity to be faithful. A certain character (naming the person) as to the general cast of it, is well described by Garrick, but a great deal of the phraseology he uses in it, is quite his own, particularly in the proverbial comparisons, "obstinate as a pig," &c., but I don't know whether it might not be true of Lord ———[62], that from a too great eagerness of praise and popularity, and a politeness carried to a ridiculous excess, he was likely, after asserting a thing in general, to give it up again in parts. For instance, if he had said Reynolds was the first of painters, he was capable enough of giving up, as objections might happen to be severally made, first his outline,—then the grace in form,—then the colouring,—and lastly, to have owned that he was such a mannerist, that the disposition of his pictures was all alike.'

'For hospitality, as formerly practised, there is no longer the same reason; heretofore the poorer people were more numerous, and from want of commerce, their means of getting a livelihood more difficult; therefore the supporting them was an act of great benevolence; now that the poor can find maintenance for themselves, and their labour is wanted, a general undiscerning hospitality tends to ill, by withdrawing them from their work to idleness and drunkenness. Then, formerly rents were received in kind, so that there was a great abundance of provisions in possession of the owners of the lands, which, since the plenty of money afforded by commerce, is no longer the case.'

'Hospitality to strangers and foreigners in our country is now almost at an end, since, from the increase of them that come to us, there have been a sufficient number of people that have found an interest in providing inns and proper accommodations, which is in general a more expedient method for the entertainment of travellers. Where the travellers and strangers are few, more of that hospitality subsists, as it has not been worth while to provide places of accommodation. In Ireland there is still hospitality to strangers, in some degree; in Hungary and Poland probably more.'

'Colman, in a note on his translation of Terence, talking of Shakspeare's learning, asks, "What says Farmer to this? What says Johnson[63]?" Upon this he observed, "Sir, let Farmer answer for himself: I never engaged in this controversy. I always said, Shakspeare had Latin enough to grammaticise his English[64]."'

'A clergyman, whom he characterised as one who loved to say little oddities, was affecting one day, at a Bishop's table, a sort of slyness and freedom not in character, and repeated, as if part of The Old Mans Wish, a song by Dr. Walter Pope, a verse bordering on licentiousness. Johnson rebuked him in the finest manner, by first shewing him that he did not know the passage he was aiming at, and thus humbling him: "Sir, that is not the song: it is thus." And he gave it right. Then looking stedfastly on him, "Sir, there is a part of that song which I should wish to exemplify in my own life:—

"May I govern my passions with absolute sway[65]!"'

'Being asked if Barnes knew a good deal of Greek, he answered, "I doubt, Sir, he was unoculus inter caecos[66]."'

'He used frequently to observe, that men might be very eminent in a profession, without our perceiving any particular power of mind in them in conversation. "It seems strange (said he) that a man should see so far to the right, who sees so short a way to the left. Burke is the only man whose common conversation corresponds with the general fame which he has in the world. Take up whatever topick you please, he is ready to meet you[67]."'

'A gentleman, by no means deficient in literature, having discovered less acquaintance with one of the Classicks than Johnson expected, when the gentleman left the room, he observed, "You see, now, how little any body reads." Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good deal in Clenardus's Greek Grammar, "Why, Sir, (said he,) who is there in this town who knows any thing of Clenardus but you and I?" And upon Mr. Langton's mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that Grammar as a praxis, "Sir, (said he,) I never made such an effort to attain Greek[68]."'

'Of Dodsley's Publick Virtue, a Poem, he said, "It was fine blank (meaning to express his usual contempt for blank verse[69]); however, this miserable poem did not sell, and my poor friend Doddy said, Publick Virtue was not a subject to interest the age."'

'Mr. Langton, when a very young man, read Dodsley's Cleone a Tragedy[70], to him, not aware of his extreme impatience to be read to. As it went on he turned his face to the back of his chair, and put himself into various attitudes, which marked his uneasiness. At the end of an act, however, he said, "Come let's have some more, let's go into the slaughter-house again, Lanky. But I am afraid there is more blood than brains." Yet he afterwards said, "When I heard you read it, I thought higher of its power of language: when I read it myself, I was more sensible of its pathetick effect;" and then he paid it a compliment which many will think very extravagant. "Sir, (said he,) if Otway had written this play, no other of his pieces would have been remembered." Dodsley himself, upon this being repeated to him, said, "It was too much:" it must be remembered, that Johnson always appeared not to be sufficiently sensible of the merit of Otway[71].'

'Snatches of reading (said he) will not make a Bentley or a Clarke. They are, however, in a certain degree advantageous. I would put a child into a library (where no unfit books are) and let him read at his choice. A child should not be discouraged from reading any thing that he takes a liking to, from a notion that it is above his reach. If that be the case, the child will soon find it out and desist; if not, he of course gains the instruction; which is so much the more likely to come, from the inclination with which he takes up the study[72].'

'Though he used to censure carelessness with great vehemence, he owned, that he once, to avoid the trouble of locking up five guineas, hid them, he forgot where, so that he could not find them.'

'A gentleman who introduced his brother to Dr. Johnson was earnest to recommend him to the Doctor's notice, which he did by saying, "When we have sat together some time, you'll find my brother grow very entertaining."—"Sir, (said Johnson,) I can wait."'

'When the rumour was strong that we should have a war, because the French would assist the Americans, he rebuked a friend with some asperity for supposing it, saying, "No, Sir, national faith is not yet sunk so low."'

'In the latter part of his life, in order to satisfy himself whether his mental faculties were impaired, he resolved that he would try to learn a new language, and fixed upon the Low Dutch, for that purpose, and this he continued till he had read about one half of Thomas à Kempis; and finding that there appeared no abatement of his power of acquisition, he then desisted, as thinking the experiment had been duly tried[73]. Mr. Burke justly observed, that this was not the most vigorous trial, Low Dutch being a language so near to our own; had it been one of the languages entirely different, he might have been very soon satisfied.'

'Mr. Langton and he having gone to see a Freemason's funeral procession, when they were at Rochester[74], and some solemn musick being played on French horns, he said, "This is the first time that I have ever been affected by musical sounds;" adding, "that the impression made upon him was of a melancholy kind." Mr. Langton saying, that this effect was a fine one,—JOHNSON. "Yes, if it softens the mind, so as to prepare it for the reception of salutary feelings, it may be good: but inasmuch as it is melancholy per se, it is bad[75]."'

'Goldsmith had long a visionary project, that some time or other when his circumstances should be easier, he would go to Aleppo, in order to acquire a knowledge as far as might be of any arts peculiar to the East, and introduce them into Britain. When this was talked of in Dr. Johnson's company, he said, "Of all men Goldsmith is the most unfit to go out upon such an inquiry; for he is utterly ignorant of such arts as we already possess, and consequently could not know what would be accessions to our present stock of mechanical knowledge. Sir, he would bring home a grinding barrow, which you see in every street in London, and think that he had furnished a wonderful improvement[76]."'

'Greek, Sir, (said he,) is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he can[77].'

'When Lord Charles Hay[78], after his return from America, was preparing his defence to be offered to the Court-Martial which he had demanded, having heard Mr. Langton as high in expressions of admiration of Johnson, as he usually was, he requested that Dr. Johnson might be introduced to him; and Mr. Langton having mentioned it to Johnson, he very kindly and readily agreed; and being presented by Mr. Langton to his Lordship, while under arrest, he saw him several times; upon one of which occasions Lord Charles read to him what he had prepared, which Johnson signified his approbation of, saying, "It is a very good soldierly defence." Johnson said, that he had advised his Lordship, that as it was in vain to contend with those who were in possession of power, if they would offer him the rank of Lieutenant-General, and a government, it would be better judged to desist from urging his complaints. It is well known that his Lordship died before the sentence was made known.'

'Johnson one day gave high praise to Dr. Bentley's verses[79] in Dodsley's Collection, which he recited with his usual energy. Dr. Adam Smith, who was present, observed in his decisive professorial manner, "Very well—Very well." Johnson however added, "Yes, they are very well, Sir; but you may observe in what manner they are well. They are the forcible verses of a man of a strong mind, but not accustomed to write verse[80]; for there is some uncouthness in the expression[81]."'

'Drinking tea one day at Garrick's with Mr. Langton, he was questioned if he was not somewhat of a heretick as to Shakspeare; said Garrick, "I doubt he is a little of an infidel[82]."—"Sir, (said Johnson) I will stand by the lines I have written on Shakspeare in my Prologue at the opening of your Theatre[83]." Mr. Langton suggested, that in the line

     "And panting Time toil'd after him in vain,"

Johnson might have had in his eye the passage in The Tempest, where Prospero says of Miranda,

     "———-She will outstrip all praise,
      And make it halt behind her84."

Johnson said nothing. Garrick then ventured to observe, "I do not think that the happiest line in the praise of Shakspeare." Johnson exclaimed (smiling,) "Prosaical rogues! next time I write, I'll make both time and space pant[85]."'

'It is well known that there was formerly a rude custom for those who were sailing upon the Thames, to accost each other as they passed, in the most abusive language they could invent, generally, however, with as much satirical humour as they were capable of producing. Addison gives a specimen of this ribaldry, in Number 383 of The Spectator, when Sir Roger de Coverly and he are going to Spring-garden[86]. Johnson was once eminently successful in this species of contest; a fellow having attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus, "Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy-house, is a receiver of stolen goods[87]." One evening when he and Mr. Burke and Mr. Langton were in company together, and the admirable scolding of Timon of Athens was mentioned, this instance of Johnson's was quoted, and thought to have at least equal excellence.'

'As Johnson always allowed the extraordinary talents of Mr. Burke, so Mr. Burke was fully sensible of the wonderful powers of Johnson. Mr. Langton recollects having passed an evening with both of them, when Mr. Burke repeatedly entered upon topicks which it was evident he would have illustrated with extensive knowledge and richness of expression; but Johnson always seized upon the conversation, in which, however, he acquitted himself in a most masterly manner. As Mr. Burke and Mr. Langton were walking home, Mr. Burke observed that Johnson had been very great that night; Mr. Langton joined in this, but added, he could have wished to hear more from another person; (plainly intimating that he meant Mr. Burke.) "O, no (said Mr. Burke) it is enough for me to have rung the bell to him[88]."'

'Beauclerk having observed to him of one of their friends, that he was aukward at counting money, "Why, Sir, said Johnson, I am likewise aukward at counting money. But then, Sir, the reason is plain; I have had very little money to count."'

'He had an abhorrence of affectation[89]. Talking of old Mr. Langton, of whom he said, "Sir, you will seldom see such a gentleman, such are his stores of literature, such his knowledge in divinity, and such his exemplary life;" he added, "and Sir, he has no grimace, no gesticulation, no bursts of admiration on trivial occasions; he never embraces you with an overacted cordiality[90]."'

'Being in company with a gentleman who thought fit to maintain Dr. Berkeley's ingenious philosophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by some mind[91]; when the gentleman was going away, Johnson said to him, "Pray, Sir, don't leave us; for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and then you will cease to exist[92]."'

'Goldsmith, upon being visited by Johnson one day in the Temple, said to him with a little jealousy of the appearance of his accommodation, "I shall soon be in better chambers than these." Johnson at the same time checked him and paid him a handsome compliment, implying that a man of his talents should be above attention to such distinctions,—'Nay, Sir, never mind that. Nil te quaesiveris extra[93].'

'At the time when his pension was granted to him, he said, with a noble literary ambition, "Had this happened twenty years years ago, I should have gone to Constantinople to learn Arabick, as Pococke did[94]."'

'As an instance of the niceness of his taste, though he praised West's translation of Pindar, he pointed out the following passage as faulty, by expressing a circumstance so minute as to detract from the general dignity which should prevail:

     "Down then from thy glittering nail,
      Take, O Muse, thy Dorian lyre95.'"

'When Mr. Vesey[96] was proposed as a member of the LITERARY CLUB, Mr. Burke began by saying that he was a man of gentle manners. "Sir, said Johnson, you need say no more. When you have said a man of gentle manners; you have said enough."'

'The late Mr. Fitzherbert[97] told Mr. Langton that Johnson said to him, "Sir, a man has no more right to say an uncivil thing, than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down."'

'My dear friend Dr. Bathurst[98], (said he with a warmth of approbation) declared he was glad that his father, who was a West-Indian planter, had left his affairs in total ruin, because having no estate, he was not under the temptation of having slaves.'

'Richardson had little conversation[99], except about his own works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad to have them introduced. Johnson when he carried Mr. Langton to see him, professed that he could bring him out into conversation, and used this allusive expression, "Sir, I can make him rear." But he failed; for in that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the room a translation of his Clarissa into German[100].'

'Once when somebody produced a newspaper in which there was a letter of stupid abuse of Sir Joshua Reynolds, of which Johnson himself came in for a share,—"Pray," said he, "let us have it read aloud from beginning to end;" which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestness, and not directing his look to any particular person, called out, "Are we alive after all this satire!"'

'He had a strong prejudice against the political character of Seeker[101], one instance of which appeared at Oxford, where he expressed great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established toast, "Church and King." "The Archbishop of Canterbury, said he (with an affected smooth smiling grimace) drinks,' Constitution in Church and State.'" Being asked what difference there was between the two toasts, he said, "Why, Sir, you may be sure he meant something." Yet when the life of that prelate, prefixed to his sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr. Stinton his chaplains, first came out, he read it with the utmost avidity, and said, "It is a life well written, and that well deserves to be recorded."'

'Of a certain noble Lord, he said, "Respect him, you could not; for he had no mind of his own. Love him you could not; for that which you could do with him, every one else could[102]."'

'Of Dr. Goldsmith he said, "No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had[103]."'

'He told in his lively manner the following literary anecdote: "Green and Guthrie[104], an Irishman and a Scotchman, undertook a translation of Duhalde's History of China. Green said of Guthrie, that he knew no English, and Guthrie of Green, that he knew no French; and these two undertook to translate Duhalde's History of China. In this translation there was found 'the twenty-sixth day of the new moon.' Now as the whole age of the moon is but twenty-eight days, the moon instead of being new, was nearly as old as it could be. Their blunder arose from their mistaking the word neuvième ninth, for nouvelle or neuve, new."'

'Talking of Dr. Blagden's copiousness and precision of communication, Dr. Johnson said, "Blagden, Sir, is a delightful fellow[105]."'

'On occasion of Dr. Johnson's publishing his pamphlet of The False Alarm[106], there came out a very angry answer (by many supposed to be by Mr. Wilkes). Dr. Johnson determined on not answering it; but, in conversation with Mr. Langton, mentioned a particular or two, which if he had replied to it, he might perhaps have inserted. In the answerer's pamphlet, it had been said with solemnity, "Do you consider, Sir, that a House of Commons is to the people as a Creature is to its Creator[107]?" To this question, said Dr. Johnson, I could have replied, that—in the first place—the idea of a CREATOR must be such as that he has a power to unmake or annihilate his creature.'

'Then it cannot be conceived that a creature can make laws for its


'Depend upon it, said he, that if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery, there never is any recourse to the mention of it[109].'

'A man must be a poor beast that should read no more in quantity than he could utter aloud.'

'Imlac in Rasselas, I spelt with a c at the end, because it is less like English, which should always have the Saxon k added to the c[110].'

'Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life without having it perceived[111]: for example, a madness has seized a person of supposing himself obliged literally to pray continually[112]—had the madness turned the opposite way and the person thought it a crime ever to pray, it might not improbably have continued unobserved.'

'He apprehended that the delineation of characters in the end of the first Book of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand was the first instance of the kind that was known.'

'Supposing (said he) a wife to be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome[113]: for instance,—if a woman should continually dwell upon the subject of the Arian heresy.'

'No man speaks concerning another, even suppose it be in his praise, if he thinks he does not hear him, exactly as he would, if he thought he was within hearing.'

'The applause of a single human being is of great consequence[114]: This he said to me with great earnestness of manner, very near the time of his decease, on occasion of having desired me to read a letter addressed to him from some person in the North of England; which when I had done, and he asked me what the contents were, as I thought being particular upon it might fatigue him, it being of great length, I only told him in general that it was highly in his praise;—and then he expressed himself as above.'

'He mentioned with an air of satisfaction what Baretti had told him; that, meeting, in the course of his studying English, with an excellent paper in the Spectator, one of four[115] that were written by the respectable Dissenting Minister, Mr. Grove of Taunton, and observing the genius and energy of mind that it exhibits, it greatly quickened his curiosity to visit our country; as he thought if such were the lighter periodical essays of our authours, their productions on more weighty occasions must be wonderful indeed!'

'He observed once, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, that a beggar in the street will more readily ask alms from a man, though there should be no marks of wealth in his appearance, than from even a well-dressed woman[116]; which he accounted for from the greater degree of carefulness as to money that is to be found in women; saying farther upon it, that the opportunities in general that they possess of improving their condition are much fewer than men have; and adding, as he looked round the company, which consisted of men only,—there is not one of us who does not think he might be richer if he would use his endeavour.'

'He thus characterised an ingenious writer of his acquaintance: "Sir, he is an enthusiast by rule[117]."'

'He may hold up that SHIELD against all his enemies;'—was an observation on Homer, in reference to his description of the shield of Achilles, made by Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife to his friend Mr. Fitzherbert of Derbyshire, and respected by Dr. Johnson as a very fine one[118]. He had in general a very high opinion of that lady's understanding.'

'An observation of Bathurst's may be mentioned, which Johnson repeated, appearing to acknowledge it to be well founded, namely, it was somewhat remarkable how seldom, on occasion of coming into the company of any new person, one felt any wish or inclination to see him again[119].'

This year the Reverend Dr. Franklin[120] having published a translation of Lucian, inscribed to him the Demonax thus:—

'To DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, the Demonax of the present age, this piece is inscribed by a sincere admirer of his respectable[121] talents,


Though upon a particular comparison of Demonax and Johnson, there does not seem to be a great deal of similarity between them, this Dedication is a just compliment from the general character given by Lucian of the ancient Sage, '[Greek: ariston on oida ego philosophon genomenon], the best philosopher whom I have ever seen or known.'

1781: AETAT. 72.—In 1781 Johnson at last completed his Lives of the Poets, of which he gives this account: 'Some time in March I finished the Lives of the Poets, which I wrote in my usual way, dilatorily and hastily, unwilling to work, and working with vigour and haste[122].' In a memorandum previous to this, he says of them: 'Written, I hope, in such a manner as may tend to the promotion of piety[123].'

This is the work which of all Dr. Johnson's writings will perhaps be read most generally, and with most pleasure. Philology and biography[124] were his favourite pursuits, and those who lived most in intimacy with him, heard him upon all occasions, when there was a proper opportunity, take delight in expatiating upon the various merits of the English Poets: upon the niceties of their characters, and the events of their progress through the world which they contributed to illuminate. His mind was so full of that kind of information, and it was so well arranged in his memory, that in performing what he had undertaken in this way, he had little more to do than to put his thoughts upon paper, exhibiting first each Poet's life, and then subjoining a critical examination of his genius and works. But when he began to write, the subject swelled in such a manner, that instead of prefaces to each poet, of no more than a few pages, as he had originally intended[125], he produced an ample, rich, and most entertaining view of them in every respect. In this he resembled Quintilian, who tells us, that in the composition of his Institutions of Oratory[126], Latiùs se tamen aperiente materiâ, plus quàm imponebatur oneris sponte suscepi. The booksellers, justly sensible of the great additional value of the copy-right, presented him with another hundred pounds, over and above two hundred, for which his agreement was to furnish such prefaces as he thought fit[127].

This was, however, but a small recompense for such a collection of biography, and such principles and illustrations of criticism, as, if digested and arranged in one system, by some modern Aristotle or Longinus, might form a code upon that subject, such as no other nation can shew. As he was so good as to make me a present of the greatest part of the original and indeed only[128] manuscript of this admirable work, I have an opportunity of observing with wonder, the correctness with which he rapidly struck off such glowing composition. He may be assimilated to the Lady in Waller, who could impress with 'Love at first sight:'

     'Some other nymphs with colours faint,
      And pencil slow may Cupid paint,
      And a weak heart in time destroy;
      She has a stamp, and prints the boy129.'

That he, however, had a good deal of trouble, and some anxiety in carrying on the work[130], we see from a series of letters to Mr. Nichols the printer[131], whose variety of literary inquiry and obliging disposition, rendered him useful to Johnson. Mr. Steevens appears, from the papers in my possession, to have supplied him with some anecdotes and quotations; and I observe the fair hand of Mrs. Thrale as one of his copyists of select passages. But he was principally indebted to my steady friend Mr. Isaac Reed, of Staple-inn, whose extensive and accurate knowledge of English literary history I do not express with exaggeration, when I say it is wonderful; indeed his labours[132] have proved it to the world; and all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance can bear testimony to the frankness of his communications in private society.

It is not my intention to dwell upon each of Johnson's Lives of the Poets, or attempt an analysis of their merits, which, were I able to do it, would take up too much room in this work; yet I shall make a few observations upon some of them, and insert a few various readings.

The Life of COWLEY he himself considered as the best of the whole, on account of the dissertation which it contains on the Metaphysical Poets. Dryden, whose critical abilities were equal to his poetical, had mentioned them in his excellent Dedication of his Juvenal, but had barely mentioned them[133]. Johnson has exhibited them at large, with such happy illustration from their writings, and in so luminous a manner, that indeed he may be allowed the full merit of novelty, and to have discovered to us, as it were, a new planet in the poetical hemisphere[134].

It is remarked by Johnson, in considering the works of a poet[135], that 'amendments are seldom made without some token of a rent;' but I do not find that this is applicable to prose[136]. We shall see that though his amendments in this work are for the better, there is nothing of the pannus assutus[137]; the texture is uniform: and indeed, what had been there at first, is very seldom unfit to have remained.

Various Readings[138] in the Life of COWLEY.

'All [future votaries of] that may hereafter pant for solitude.

'To conceive and execute the [agitation or perception] pains and the pleasures of other minds.

'The wide effulgence of [the blazing] a summer noon.'

In the Life of WALLER, Johnson gives a distinct and animated narrative of publick affairs in that variegated period, with strong yet nice touches of character; and having a fair opportunity to display his political principles, does it with an unqualified manly confidence, and satisfies his readers how nobly he might have executed a Tory History of his country.

So easy is his style in these Lives, that I do not recollect more than three uncommon or learned words[139]; one, when giving an account of the approach of Waller's mortal disease, he says, 'he found his legs grow tumid;' by using the expression his legs swelled, he would have avoided this; and there would have been no impropriety in its being followed by the interesting question to his physician, 'What that swelling meant?' Another, when he mentions that Pope had emitted proposals; when published or issued would have been more readily understood; and a third, when he calls Orrery and Dr. Delany[140], writers both undoubtedly veracious[141], when true, honest, or faithful, might have been used. Yet, it must be owned, that none of these are hard or too big words; that custom would make them seem as easy as any others; and that a language is richer and capable of more beauty of expression, by having a greater variety of synonimes.

His dissertation[142] upon the unfitness of poetry for the aweful subjects of our holy religion, though I do not entirely agree with with him, has all the merit of originality, with uncommon force and reasoning.

Various Readings in the Life of WALLER.

'Consented to [the insertion of their names] their own nomination.

'[After] paying a fine of ten thousand pounds.

'Congratulating Charles the Second on his [coronation] recovered right.

'He that has flattery ready for all whom the vicissitudes of the world happen to exalt, must be [confessed to degrade his powers] scorned as a prostituted mind.

'The characters by which Waller intended to distinguish his writings are [elegance] sprightliness and dignity.

'Blossoms to be valued only as they [fetch] foretell fruits.

'Images such as the superficies of nature [easily] readily supplies.

'[His] Some applications [are sometimes] may be thought too remote and unconsequential.

'His images are [sometimes confused] not always distinct?

Against his Life of MILTON, the hounds of Whiggism have opened in full cry[143]. But of Milton's great excellence as a poet, where shall we find such a blazon as by the hand of Johnson? I shall select only the following passage concerning Paradise Lost[144]:

'Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with what temper Milton surveyed the silent progress of his work, and marked his reputation stealing its way in a kind of subterraneous current, through fear and silence. I cannot but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting without impatience the vicissitudes of opinion, and the impartiality of a future generation[145].'

Indeed even Dr. Towers, who may be considered as one of the warmest zealots of The Revolution Society[146] itself, allows, that 'Johnson has spoken in the highest terms of the abilities of that great poet, and has bestowed on his principal poetical compositions the most honourable encomiums[147].'

That a man, who venerated the Church and Monarchy as Johnson did, should speak with a just abhorrence of Milton as a politician, or rather as a daring foe to good polity, was surely to be expected; and to those who censure him, I would recommend his commentary on Milton's celebrated complaint of his situation, when by the lenity of Charles the Second, 'a lenity of which (as Johnson well observes) the world has had perhaps no other example, he, who had written in justification of the murder of his Sovereign, was safe under an Act of Oblivion[148].'

'No sooner is he safe than he finds himself in danger, fallen on evil days and evil tongues, [and] with darkness and with danger compassed round[149]. This darkness, had his eyes been better employed, had undoubtedly deserved compassion; but to add the mention of danger, was ungrateful and unjust. He was fallen, indeed, on evil days; the time was come in which regicides could no longer boast their wickedness. But of evil tongues for Milton to complain, required impudence at least equal to his other powers; Milton, whose warmest advocates must allow, that he never spared any asperity of reproach, or brutality of insolence[150].'

I have, indeed, often wondered how Milton, 'an acrimonious and surly Republican[151],'—'a man who in his domestick relations was so severe and arbitrary[152],' and whose head was filled with the hardest and most dismal tenets of Calvinism[153], should have been such a poet; should not only have written with sublimity, but with beauty, and even gaiety; should have exquisitely painted the sweetest sensations of which our nature is capable; imaged the delicate raptures of connubial love; nay, seemed to be animated with all the spirit of revelry. It is a proof that in the human mind the departments of judgement and imagination, perception and temper, may sometimes be divided by strong partitions; and that the light and shade in the same character may be kept so distinct as never to be blended[154].

In the Life of Milton, Johnson took occasion to maintain his own and the general opinion of the excellence of rhyme over blank verse, in English poetry[155]; and quotes this apposite illustration of it by 'an ingenious critick,' that it seems to be verse only to the eye[156]. The gentleman whom he thus characterises, is (as he told Mr. Seward) Mr. Lock[157], of Norbury Park, in Surrey, whose knowledge and taste in the fine arts is universally celebrated; with whose elegance of manners the writer of the present work has felt himself much impressed, and to whose virtues a common friend, who has known him long, and is not much addicted to flattery, gives the highest testimony.

Various Readings in the Life of MILTON.

'I cannot find any meaning but this which [his most bigotted advocates] even kindness and reverence can give.

'[Perhaps no] scarcely any man ever wrote so much, and praised so few.

'A certain [rescue] perservative from oblivion.

'Let me not be censured for this digression, as [contracted] pedantick or paradoxical.

'Socrates rather was of opinion, that what we had to learn was how to [obtain and communicate happiness] do good and avoid evil.

'Its elegance [who can exhibit?] is less attainable.'

I could, with pleasure, expatiate upon the masterly execution of the Life of DRYDEN, which we have seen[158] was one of Johnson's literary projects at an early period, and which it is remarkable, that after desisting from it, from a supposed scantiness of materials, he should, at an advanced age, have exhibited so amply.

His defence[159] of that great poet against the illiberal attacks upon him, as if his embracing the Roman Catholick communion had been a time-serving measure, is a piece of reasoning at once able and candid. Indeed, Dryden himself, in his Hind and Panther, has given such a picture of his mind, that they who know the anxiety for repose as to the aweful subject of our state beyond the grave, though they may think his opinion ill-founded, must think charitably of his sentiment:—

     'But, gracious GOD, how well dost thou provide
      For erring judgements an unerring guide!
      Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light,
      A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
      O! teach me to believe thee thus conceal'd,
      And search no farther than thyself reveal'd;
      But Her alone for my director take,
      Whom thou hast promis'd never to forsake.
      My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires;
      My manhood long misled by wand'ring fires,
      Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
      My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
      Such was I, such by Nature still I am;
      Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
      Good life be now my task: my doubts are done;
      What more could shock160 my faith than Three in One?'

In drawing Dryden's character, Johnson has given, though I suppose unintentionally, some touches of his own. Thus:—'The power that predominated in his intellectual operations was rather strong reason than quick sensibility. Upon all occasions that were presented, he studied rather than felt; and produced sentiments not such as Nature enforces, but meditation supplies. With the simple and elemental passions as they spring separate in the mind, he seems not much acquainted. He is, therefore, with all his variety of excellence, not often pathetick; and had so little sensibility of the power of effusions purely natural, that he did not esteem them in others[161].' It may indeed be observed, that in all the numerous writings of Johnson, whether in prose or verse, and even in his Tragedy, of which the subject is the distress of an unfortunate Princess, there is not a single passage that ever drew a tear[162].

Various Readings in the Life of DRYDEN.

'The reason of this general perusal, Addison has attempted to [find in] derive from the delight which the mind feels in the investigation of secrets.

'His best actions are but [convenient] inability of wickedness.

'When once he had engaged himself in disputation, [matter] thoughts flowed in on either side.

'The abyss of an un-ideal [emptiness] vacancy.

'These, like [many other harlots,] the harlots of other men, had his love though not his approbation.

'He [sometimes displays] descends to display his knowledge with pedantick ostentation.

'French words which [were then used in] had then crept into conversation.'

The Life of POPE[163] was written by Johnson con amore, both from the early possession which that writer had taken of his mind, and from the pleasure which he must have felt, in for ever silencing all attempts to lessen his poetical fame, by demonstrating his excellence, and pronouncing the following triumphant eulogium[164]:—'After all this, it is surely superfluous to answer the question that has once been asked, Whether Pope was a poet? otherwise than by asking in return, If Pope be not a poet, where is poetry to be found? To circumscribe poetry by a definition, will only shew the narrowness of the definer; though a definition which shall exclude Pope will not easily be made. Let us look round upon the present time, and back upon the past; let us enquire to whom the voice of mankind has decreed the wreath of poetry; let their productions be examined, and their claims stated, and the pretensions of Pope will be no more disputed.'

I remember once to have heard Johnson say, 'Sir, a thousand years may elapse before there shall appear another man with a power of versification equal to that of Pope.' That power must undoubtedly be allowed its due share in enhancing the value of his captivating composition.

Johnson, who had done liberal justice to Warburton in his edition of Shakspeare[165], which was published during the life of that powerful writer, with still greater liberality[166] took an opportunity, in the Life of Pope, of paying the tribute due to him when he was no longer in 'high place,' but numbered with the dead[167].

It seems strange, that two such men as Johnson and Warburton, who lived in the same age and country, should not only not have been in any degree of intimacy, but been almost personally unacquainted. But such instances, though we must wonder at them, are not rare. If I am rightly informed, after a careful enquiry, they never met but once, which was at the house of Mrs. French, in London, well known for her elegant assemblies, and bringing eminent characters together. The interview proved to be mutually agreeable[168].

I am well informed, that Warburton said of Johnson, 'I admire him, but I cannot bear his style:' and that Johnson being told of this, said, 'That is exactly my case as to him[169].' The manner in which he expressed his admiration of the fertility of Warburton's genius and of the variety of his materials was, 'The table is always full, Sir. He brings things from the north, and the south, and from every quarter. In his Divine Legation, you are always entertained. He carries you round and round, without carrying you forward to the point; but then you have no wish to be carried forward.' He said to the Reverend Mr. Strahan, 'Warburton is perhaps the last man who has written with a mind full of reading and reflection[170].'

It is remarkable, that in the Life of Broome[171], Johnson takes notice of Dr. Warburton using a mode of expression which he himself used, and that not seldom, to the great offence of those who did not know him. Having occasion to mention a note, stating the different parts which were executed by the associated translators of The Odyssey, he says, 'Dr. Warburton told me, in his warm language, that he thought the relation given in the note a lie. The language is warm indeed; and, I must own, cannot be justified in consistency with a decent regard to the established forms of speech. Johnson had accustomed himself to use the word lie[172], to express a mistake or an errour in relation; in short, when the thing was not so as told, though the relator did not mean to deceive. When he thought there was intentional falsehood in the relator, his expression was, 'He lies, and he knows he lies.'

Speaking of Pope's not having been known to excel in conversation, Johnson observes, that 'traditional memory retains no sallies of raillery, or[173] sentences of observation; nothing either pointed or solid, wise or merry[174]; and that one apophthegm only is recorded[175].' In this respect, Pope differed widely from Johnson, whose conversation was, perhaps, more admirable than even his writings, however excellent. Mr. Wilkes has, however, favoured me with one repartee of Pope, of which Johnson was not informed. Johnson, after justly censuring him for having 'nursed in his mind a foolish dis-esteem of Kings,' tells us, 'yet a little regard shewn him by the Prince of Wales melted his obduracy; and he had not much to say when he was asked by his Royal Highness, how he could love a Prince, while he disliked Kings[176]?' The answer which Pope made, was, 'The young lion is harmless, and even playful; but when his claws are full grown he becomes cruel, dreadful, and mischievous.'

But although we have no collection of Pope's sayings, it is not therefore to be concluded, that he was not agreeable in social intercourse; for Johnson has been heard to say, that 'the happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.' The late Lord Somerville[177], who saw much both of great and brilliant life, told me, that he had dined in company with Pope, and that after dinner the little man, as he called him, drank his bottle of Burgundy, and was exceedingly gay and entertaining.

I cannot withhold from my great friend a censure of at least culpable inattention, to a nobleman, who, it has been shewn[178], behaved to him with uncommon politeness. He says, 'Except Lord Bathurst, none of Pope's noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his intimacy with them known to posterity[179].' This will not apply to Lord Mansfield, who was not ennobled in Pope's life-time; but Johnson should have recollected, that Lord Marchmont was one of those noble friends. He includes his Lordship along with Lord Bolingbroke, in a charge of neglect of the papers which Pope left by his will; when, in truth, as I myself pointed out to him, before he wrote that poet's life, the papers were 'committed to the sole care and judgement of Lord Bolingbroke, unless he (Lord Bolingbroke) shall not survive me;' so that Lord Marchmont had no concern whatever with them[180]. After the first edition of the Lives, Mr. Malone, whose love of justice is equal to his accuracy, made, in my hearing, the same remark to Johnson; yet he omitted to correct the erroneous statement[181]. These particulars I mention, in the belief that there was only forgetfulness in my friend; but I owe this much to the Earl of Marchmont's reputation, who, were there no other memorials, will be immortalised by that line of Pope, in the verses on his Grotto:

     'And the bright flame was shot through Marchmont's soul.'

Various Readings in the Life of POPE.

'[Somewhat free] sufficiently bold in his criticism.

'All the gay [niceties] varieties of diction.

'Strikes the imagination with far [more] greater force.

'It is [probably] certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen.

'Every sheet enabled him to write the next with [less trouble] more facility.

'No man sympathizes with [vanity, depressed] the sorrows of vanity.

'It had been [criminal] less easily excused.

'When he [threatened to lay down] talked of laying down his pen.

'Society [is so named emphatically in opposition to] politically regulated, is a state contra-distinguished from a state of nature.

'A fictitious life of an [absurd] infatuated scholar.

'A foolish [contempt, disregard,] disesteem of Kings.

'His hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows [were like those of other mortals] acted strongly upon his mind.

'Eager to pursue knowledge and attentive to [accumulate] retain it.

'A mind [excursive] active, ambitious, and adventurous.

'In its [noblest] widest researches still longing to go forward.

'He wrote in such a manner as might expose him to few [neglects] hazards.

'The [reasonableness] justice of my determination.

'A [favourite] delicious employment of the poets.

'More terrifick and more powerful [beings] phantoms perform on the stormy ocean.

'The inventor of [those] this petty [beings] nation.

'The [mind] heart naturally loves truth.'

In the Life of ADDISON we find an unpleasing account of his having lent Steele a hundred pounds, and 'reclaimed his loan by an execution[182].' In the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, the authenticity of this anecdote is denied. But Mr. Malone has obliged me with the following note concerning it:—

'Many persons having doubts concerning this fact, I applied to Dr. Johnson to learn on what authority he asserted it. He told me, he had it from Savage, who lived in intimacy with Steele, and who mentioned, that Steele told him the story with tears in his eyes.—Ben Victor[183], Dr. Johnson said, likewise informed him of this remarkable transaction, from the relation of Mr. Wilkes[184] the comedian, who was also an intimate of Steele's.—Some in defence of Addison, have said, that "the act was done with the good natured view of rousing Steele, and correcting that profusion which always made him necessitous."—"If that were the case, (said Johnson,) and that he only wanted to alarm Steele, he would afterwards have returned the money to his friend, which it is not pretended he did."—"This too, (he added,) might be retorted by an advocate for Steele, who might alledge, that he did not repay the loan intentionally, merely to see whether Addison would be mean and ungenerous enough to make use of legal process to recover it. But of such speculations there is no end: we cannot dive into the hearts of men; but their actions are open to observation[185]."

'I then mentioned to him that some people thought that Mr. Addison's character was so pure, that the fact, though true, ought to have been suppressed[186]. He saw no reason for this[187]. "If nothing but the bright side of characters should be shewn, we should sit down in despondency, and think it utterly impossible to imitate them in any thing. The sacred writers (he observed) related the vicious as well as the virtuous actions of men; which had this moral effect, that it kept mankind from despair, into which otherwise they would naturally fall, were they not supported by the recollection that others had offended like themselves, and by penitence and amendment of life had been restored to the favour of Heaven."


'March 15, 1782.'

The last paragraph of this note is of great importance; and I request that my readers may consider it with particular attention. It will be afterwards referred to in this work[188].

Various Readings in the Life of ADDISON.

'[But he was our first great example] He was, however, one of our earliest examples of correctness.

And [overlook] despise their masters.

His instructions were such as the [state] character of his [own time] readers made [necessary] proper.

His purpose was to [diffuse] infuse literary curiosity by gentle and unsuspected conveyance [among] into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy.

Framed rather for those that [wish] are learning to write.

Domestick [manners] scenes.'

In his Life of PARNELL, I wonder that Johnson omitted to insert an Epitaph which he had long before composed for that amiable man, without ever writing it down, but which he was so good as, at my request, to dictate to me, by which means it has been preserved.

     'Hic requiescit THOMAS PARNELL, S.T.P.
        Qui sacerdos pariter et poeta,
        Utrasque partes ita implevit,
        Ut neque sacerdoti suavitas poetae,
        Neo poetae sacerdotis sanctitas189, deesset.'
     Various Readings in the Life of PARNELL.

'About three years [after] afterwards.

[Did not much want] was in no great need of improvement.

But his prosperity did not last long [was clouded by that which took away all his powers of enjoying either profit or pleasure, the death of his wife, whom he is said to have lamented with such sorrow, as hastened his end[190].] His end, whatever was the cause, was now approaching.

In the Hermit, the [composition] narrative, as it is less airy, is less pleasing.'

In the Life of BLACKMORE, we find that writer's reputation generously cleared by Johnson from the cloud of prejudice which the malignity of contemporary wits had raised around it[191]. In this spirited exertion of justice, he has been imitated by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his praise of the architecture of Vanburgh[192].

We trace Johnson's own character in his observations on Blackmore's 'magnanimity as an authour.' 'The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself.' Johnson, I recollect, once told me, laughing heartily, that he understood it had been said of him, 'He appears not to feel; but when he is alone, depend upon it, he suffers sadly.' I am as certain as I can be of any man's real sentiments, that he enjoyed the perpetual shower of little hostile arrows as evidences of his fame.

Various Readings in the Life of BLACKMORE.

To [set] engage poetry [on the side] in the cause of virtue.

He likewise [established] enforced the truth of Revelation.

[Kindness] benevolence was ashamed to favour.

His practice, which was once [very extensive] invidiously great. There is scarcely any distemper of dreadful name [of] which he has not [shewn] taught his reader how [it is to be opposed] to oppose.

Of this [contemptuous] indecent arrogance.

[He wrote] but produced likewise a work of a different kind.

At least [written] compiled with integrity.

Faults which many tongues [were desirous] would have made haste to publish.

But though he [had not] could not boast of much critical knowledge.

He [used] waited for no felicities of fancy.

Or had ever elevated his [mind] views to that ideal perfection which every [mind] genius born to excel is condemned always to pursue and never overtake.

The [first great] fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.'

Various Readings in the Life of PHILIPS.

'His dreaded [rival] antagonist Pope.

They [have not often much] are not loaded with thought.

In his translations from Pindar, he [will not be denied to have reached] found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard.'

Various Readings in the Life of CONGREVE.

'Congreve's conversation must surely have been at least equally pleasing with his writings.

It apparently [requires] pre-supposes a familiar knowledge of many characters.

Reciprocation of [similes] conceits.

The dialogue is quick and [various] sparkling.

Love for Love; a comedy [more drawn from life] of nearer alliance to life.

The general character of his miscellanies is, that they shew little wit and [no] little virtue.

[Perhaps] certainly he had not the fire requisite for the higher species of lyrick poetry.'

Various Readings in the Life of TICKELL.

'[Longed] long wished to peruse it.

At the [accession] arrival of King George.

Fiction [unnaturally] unskilfully compounded of Grecian deities and Gothick fairies.'

Various Readings in the Life of AKENSIDE.

'For [another] a different purpose.

[A furious] an unnecessary and outrageous zeal.

[Something which] what he called and thought liberty.

A [favourer of innovation] lover of contradiction.

Warburton's [censure] objections.

His rage [for liberty] of patriotism.

Mr. Dyson with [a zeal] an ardour of friendship.'

In the Life of LYTTELTON, Johnson seems to have been not favourably disposed towards that nobleman[193]. Mrs. Thrale suggests that he was offended by Molly Aston's[194] preference of his Lordship to him[195]. I can by no means join in the censure bestowed by Johnson on his Lordship, whom he calls 'poor Lyttelton,' for returning thanks to the Critical Reviewers for having 'kindly commended' his Dialogues of the Dead. Such 'acknowledgements (says my friend) never can be proper, since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice.' In my opinion, the most upright man, who has been tried on a false accusation, may, when he is acquitted, make a bow to his jury. And when those who are so much the arbiters of literary merit, as in a considerable degree to influence the publick opinion, review an authour's work, placido lumine[196], when I am afraid mankind in general are better pleased with severity, he may surely express a grateful sense of their civility[197].

Various Readings in the Life of LYTTELTON.

'He solaced [himself] his grief by writing a long poem to her memory.

The production rather [of a mind that means well than thinks vigorously] as it seems of leisure than of study, rather effusions than compositions.

His last literary [work] production.

[Found the way] undertook to persuade.'

As the introduction to his critical examination of the genius and writings of YOUNG, he did Mr. Herbert Croft[198], then a Barrister of Lincoln's-inn, now a clergyman, the honour to adopt[199] a Life of Young written by that gentleman, who was the friend of Dr. Young's son, and wished to vindicate him from some very erroneous remarks to his prejudice. Mr. Croft's performance was subjected to the revision of Dr. Johnson, as appears from the following note to Mr. John Nichols[200]:—

'This Life of Dr. Young was written by a friend of his son. What is crossed with black is expunged by the authour, what is crossed with red is expunged by me. If you find any thing more that can be well omitted, I shall not be sorry to see it yet shorter[201]'

It has always appeared to me to have a considerable share of merit, and to display a pretty successful imitation of Johnson's style. When I mentioned this to a very eminent literary character[202], he opposed me vehemently, exclaiming, 'No, no, it is not a good imitation of Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength.' This was an image so happy, that one might have thought he would have been satisfied with it; but he was not. And setting his mind again to work, he added, with exquisite felicity, 'It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the inspiration.'

Mr. Croft very properly guards us against supposing that Young was a gloomy man[203]; and mentions, that 'his parish was indebted to the good-humour of the authour of the Night Thoughts for an Assembly and a Bowling-Green[204].' A letter from a noble foreigner is quoted, in which he is said to have been 'very pleasant in conversation[205].'

Mr. Langton, who frequently visited him, informs me, that there was an air of benevolence in his manner, but that he could obtain from him less information than he had hoped to receive from one who had lived so much in intercourse with the brightest men of what has been called the Augustan age of England; and that he shewed a degree of eager curiosity concerning the common occurrences that were then passing, which appeared somewhat remarkable in a man of such intellectual stores, of such an advanced age, and who had retired from life with declared disappointment in his expectations.

An instance at once of his pensive turn of mind, and his cheerfulness of temper, appeared in a little story which he himself told to Mr. Langton, when they were walking in his garden: 'Here (said he) I had put a handsome sun-dial, with this inscription, Eheu fugaces![206] which (speaking with a smile) was sadly verified, for by the next morning my dial had been carried off.'[207]

'It gives me much pleasure to observe, that however Johnson may have casually talked,[208] yet when he sits, as "an ardent judge zealous to his trust, giving sentence" [209] upon the excellent works of Young, he allows them the high praise to which they are justly entitled. "The Universal Passion (says he) is indeed a very great performance,—his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the sharpness of resistless truth."'[210]

But I was most anxious concerning Johnson's decision upon Night Thoughts, which I esteem as a mass of the grandest and richest poetry that human genius has ever produced; and was delighted to find this character of that work: 'In his Night Thoughts, he has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allusions; a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhime but with disadvantage.'[211] And afterwards, 'Particular lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantation[212], the magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.'

But there is in this Poem not only all that Johnson so well brings in view, but a power of the Pathetick beyond almost any example that I have seen. He who does not feel his nerves shaken, and his heart pierced by many passages in this extraordinary work, particularly by that most affecting one, which describes the gradual torment suffered by the contemplation of an object of affectionate attachment, visibly and certainly decaying into dissolution, must be of a hard and obstinate frame[213].

To all the other excellencies of Night Thoughts let me add the great and peculiar one, that they contain not only the noblest sentiments of virtue, and contemplations on immortality, but the Christian Sacrifice, the Divine Propitiation, with all its interesting circumstances, and consolations to 'a wounded spirit[214],' solemnly and poetically displayed in such imagery and language, as cannot fail to exalt, animate, and soothe the truly pious. No book whatever can be recommended to young persons, with better hopes of seasoning their minds with vital religion, than YOUNG'S Night Thoughts.

In the Life of SWIFT, it appears to me that Johnson had a certain degree of prejudice against that extraordinary man, of which I have elsewhere had occasion to speak[215]. Mr. Thomas Sheridan imputed it to a supposed apprehension in Johnson, that Swift had not been sufficiently active in obtaining for him an Irish degree when it was solicited[216], but of this there was not sufficient evidence; and let me not presume to charge Johnson with injustice, because he did not think so highly of the writings of this authour, as I have done from my youth upwards. Yet that he had an unfavourable bias is evident, were it only from that passage in which he speaks of Swift's practice of saving, as, 'first ridiculous and at last detestable;' and yet after some examination of circumstances, finds himself obliged to own, that 'it will perhaps appear that he only liked one mode of expence better than another, and saved merely that he might have something to give[217].'

One observation which Johnson makes in Swift's life should be often inculcated:—

'It may be justly supposed, that there was in his conversation what appears so frequently in his letters, an affectation of familiarity with the great, an ambition of momentary equality, sought and enjoyed by the neglect of those ceremonies which custom has established as the barriers between one order of society and another. This transgression of regularity was by himself and his admirers termed greatness of soul; but a great mind disdains to hold any thing by courtesy, and therefore never usurps what a lawful claimant may take away. He that encroaches on another's dignity puts himself in his power; he is either repelled with helpless indignity, or endured by clemency and condescension[218].'

Various Readings in the Life of Swift.

'Charity may be persuaded to think that it might be written by a man of a peculiar [opinions] character, without ill intention.

He did not [disown] deny it.

'[To] by whose kindness it is not unlikely that he was [indebted for] advanced to his benefices.

[With] for this purpose he had recourse to Mr. Harley.

Sharpe, whom he [represents] describes as "the harmless tool of others' hate."

Harley was slow because he was [irresolute] doubtful.

When [readers were not many] we were not yet a nation of readers.

[Every man who] he that could say he knew him.

Every man of known influence has so many [more] petitions [than] which he [can] cannot grant, that he must necessarily offend more than he [can gratify] gratifies.

Ecclesiastical [preferments] benefices.

'Swift [procured] contrived an interview.

[As a writer] In his works he has given very different specimens.

On all common occasions he habitually [assumes] affects a style of [superiority] arrogance.

By the [omission] neglect of those ceremonies.

That their merits filled the world [and] or that there was no [room for] hope of more.'

I have not confined myself to the order of the Lives, in making my few remarks. Indeed a different order is observed in the original publication, and in the collection of Johnson's Works. And should it be objected, that many of my various readings are inconsiderable, those who make the objection will be pleased to consider, that such small particulars are intended for those who are nicely critical in composition, to whom they will be an acceptable selection[219].

Spence's Anecdotes, which are frequently quoted and referred to in Johnson's Lives of the Poets, are in a manuscript collection, made by the Reverend Mr. Joseph Spence[220], containing a number of particulars concerning eminent men. To each anecdote is marked the name of the person on whose authority it is mentioned. This valuable collection is the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who upon the application of Sir Lucas Pepys, was pleased to permit it to be put into the hands of Dr. Johnson, who I am sorry to think made but an aukward return. 'Great assistance (says he) has been given me by Mr. Spence's Collection, of which I consider the communication as a favour worthy of publick acknowledgement[221];' but he has not owned to whom he was obliged; so that the acknowledgement is unappropriated to his Grace.

While the world in general was filled with admiration of Johnson's Lives of the Poets, there were narrow circles in which prejudice and resentment were fostered, and from which attacks of different sorts issued against him[222]. By some violent Whigs he was arraigned of injustice to Milton; by some Cambridge men of depreciating Gray; and his expressing with a dignified freedom what he really thought of George, Lord Lyttelton, gave offence to some of the friends of that nobleman, and particularly produced a declaration of war against him from Mrs. Montagu, the ingenious Essayist on Shakspeare, between whom and his Lordship a commerce of reciprocal compliments had long been carried on[223]. In this war the smaller powers in alliance with him were of course led to engage, at least on the defensive, and thus I for one was excluded from the enjoyment of 'A Feast of Reason,' such as Mr. Cumberland has described, with a keen, yet just and delicate pen, in his Observer[224]. These minute inconveniencies gave not the least disturbance to Johnson. He nobly said, when I talked to him of the feeble, though shrill outcry which had been raised, 'Sir, I considered myself as entrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my opinion sincerely; let them shew where they think me wrong[225].'

While my friend is thus contemplated in the splendour derived from his last and perhaps most admirable work, I introduce him with peculiar propriety as the correspondent of WARREN HASTINGS! a man whose regard reflects dignity even upon JOHNSON; a man, the extent of whose abilities was equal to that of his power; and who, by those who are fortunate enough to know him in private life, is admired for his literature and taste, and beloved for the candour, moderation, and mildness of his character. Were I capable of paying a suitable tribute of admiration to him, I should certainly not withhold it at a moment[226] when it is not possible that I should be suspected of being an interested flatterer. But how weak would be my voice after that of the millions whom he governed. His condescending and obliging compliance with my solicitation, I with humble gratitude acknowledge; and while by publishing his letter to me, accompanying the valuable communication, I do eminent honour to my great friend, I shall entirely disregard any invidious suggestions, that as I in some degree participate in the honour, I have, at the same time, the gratification of my own vanity in view.

'TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. Park Lane, Dec. 2, 1790.


I have been fortunately spared the troublesome suspense of a long search, to which, in performance of my promise, I had devoted this morning, by lighting upon the objects of it among the first papers that I laid my hands on: my veneration for your great and good friend, Dr. Johnson, and the pride, or I hope something of a better sentiment, which I indulged in possessing such memorials of his good will towards me, having induced me to bind them in a parcel containing other select papers, and labelled with the titles appertaining to them. They consist but of three letters, which I believe were all that I ever received from Dr. Johnson. Of these, one, which was written in quadruplicate, under the different dates of its respective dispatches, has already been made publick[227], but not from any communication of mine. This, however, I have joined to the rest; and have now the pleasure of sending them to you for the use to which you informed me it was your desire to destine them.

'My promise was pledged with the condition, that if the letters were found to contain any thing which should render them improper for the publick eye, you would dispense with the performance of it. You will have the goodness, I am sure, to pardon my recalling this stipulation to your recollection, as I should be both to appear negligent of that obligation which is always implied in an epistolary confidence. In the reservation of that right I have read them over with the most scrupulous attention, but have not seen in them the slightest cause on that ground to withhold them from you. But, though not on that, yet on another ground I own I feel a little, yet but a little, reluctance to part with them: I mean on that of my own credit, which I fear will suffer by the information conveyed by them, that I was early in the possession of such valuable instructions for the beneficial employment of the influence of my late station, and (as it may seem) have so little availed myself of them. Whether I could, if it were necessary, defend myself against such an imputation, it little concerns the world to know. I look only to the effect which these relicks may produce, considered as evidences of the virtues of their authour: and believing that they will be found to display an uncommon warmth of private friendship, and a mind ever attentive to the improvement and extension of useful knowledge, and solicitous for the interests of mankind, I can cheerfully submit to the little sacrifice of my own fame, to contribute to the illustration of so great and venerable a character. They cannot be better applied, for that end, than by being entrusted to your hands. Allow me, with this offering, to infer from it a proof of the very great esteem with which I have the honour to profess myself, Sir,

     Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,
              'WARREN HASTINGS.'

'P.S. At some future time, and when you have no further occasion for these papers, I shall be obliged to you if you would return them.'

The last of the three letters thus graciously put into my hands, and which has already appeared in publick, belongs to this year; but I shall previously insert the first two in the order of their dates. They altogether form a grand group in my biographical picture.


Though I have had but little personal knowledge of you, I have had enough to make me wish for more; and though it be now a long time since I was honoured by your visit, I had too much pleasure from it to forget it. By those whom we delight to remember, we are unwilling to be forgotten; and therefore I cannot omit this opportunity of reviving myself in your memory by a letter which you will receive from the hands of my friend Mr. Chambers[228]; a man, whose purity of manners and vigour of mind are sufficient to make every thing welcome that he brings.

That this is my only reason for writing, will be too apparent by the uselessness of my letter to any other purpose. I have no questions to ask; not that I want curiosity after either the ancient or present state of regions in which have been seen all the power and splendour of wide-extended empire; and which, as by some grant of natural superiority, supply the rest of the world with almost all that pride desires and luxury enjoys. But my knowledge of them is too scanty to furnish me with proper topicks of enquiry; I can only wish for information; and hope, that a mind comprehensive like yours will find leisure, amidst the cares of your important station, to enquire into many subjects of which the European world either thinks not at all, or thinks with deficient intelligence and uncertain conjecture. I shall hope, that he who once intended to increase the learning of his country by the introduction of the Persian language[229], will examine nicely the traditions and histories of the East; that he will survey the wonders of its ancient edifices, and trace the vestiges of its ruined cities; and that, at his return, we shall know the arts and opinions of a race of men, from whom very little has been hitherto derived.

You, Sir, have no need of being told by me, how much may be added by your attention and patronage to experimental knowledge and natural history. There are arts of manufacture practised in the countries in which you preside, which are yet very imperfectly known here, either to artificers or philosophers. Of the natural productions, animate and inanimate, we yet have so little intelligence, that our books are filled, I fear, with conjectures about things which an Indian peasant knows by his senses.

Many of those things my first wish is to see; my second to know, by such accounts as a man like you will be able to give.

As I have not skill to ask proper questions, I have likewise no such access to great men as can enable me to send you any political information. Of the agitations of an unsettled government, and the struggles of a feeble ministry[230], care is doubtless taken to give you more exact accounts than I can obtain. If you are inclined to interest yourself much in publick transactions, it is no misfortune to you to be so distant from them.

That literature is not totally forsaking us, and that your favourite language is not neglected, will appear from the book[231], which I should have pleased myself more with sending, if I could have presented it bound: but time was wanting. I beg, however, Sir, that you will accept it from a man very desirous of your regard; and that if you think me able to gratify you by any thing more important you will employ me.

I am now going to take leave, perhaps a very long leave, of my dear Mr. Chambers. That he is going to live where you govern, may justly alleviate the regret of parting; and the hope of seeing both him and you again, which I am not willing to mingle with doubt, must at present comfort as it can, Sir, Your most humble servant,


March 30, 1774.'



Being informed that by the departure of a ship, there is now an opportunity of writing to Bengal, I am unwilling to slip out of your memory by my own negligence, and therefore take the liberty of reminding you of my existence, by sending you a book which is not yet made publick.

I have lately visited a region less remote, and less illustrious than India, which afforded some occasions for speculation; what has occurred to me, I have put into the volume[232], of which I beg your acceptance.

Men in your station seldom have presents totally disinterested; my book is received, let me now make my request.

There is, Sir, somewhere within your government, a young adventurer, one Chauncey Lawrence, whose father is one of my oldest friends. Be pleased to shew the young man what countenance is fit, whether he wants to be restrained by your authority, or encouraged by your favour. His father is now President of the College of Physicians, a man venerable for his knowledge, and more venerable for his virtue[233].

I wish you a prosperous government, a safe return, and a long enjoyment of plenty and tranquillity.

     I am, Sir,
        Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,
                 SAM. JOHNSON234.

London, Dec. 20, 1774.'


'Jan. 9, 1781.


Amidst the importance and multiplicity of affairs in which your great office engages you, I take the liberty of recalling your attention for a moment to literature, and will not prolong the interruption by an apology which your character makes needless.

Mr. Hoole, a gentleman long known, and long esteemed in the India-House, after having translated Tasso[235], has undertaken Ariosto. How well he is qualified for his undertaking he has already shewn. He is desirous, Sir, of your favour in promoting his proposals, and flatters me by supposing that my testimony may advance his interest.

It is a new thing for a clerk of the India-House to translate poets; —it is new for a Governour of Bengal to patronize learning. That he may find his ingenuity rewarded, and that learning may flourish under your protection, is the wish of, Sir, Your most humble servant,


I wrote to him in February, complaining of having been troubled by a recurrence of the perplexing question of Liberty and Necessity;—and mentioning that I hoped soon to meet him again in London.



I hoped you had got rid of all this hypocrisy of misery. What have you to do with Liberty and Necessity[236]? Or what more than to hold your tongue about it? Do not doubt but I shall be most heartily glad to see you here again, for I love every part about you but your affectation of distress.

I have at last finished my Lives, and have laid up for you a load of copy[237], all out of order, so that it will amuse you a long time to set it right. Come to me, my dear Bozzy, and let us be as happy as we can. We will go again to the Mitre, and talk old times over.

     I am, dear Sir,
          Yours affectionately,
               'SAM. JOHNSON.'

March, 14, 1781.

On Monday, March 19, I arrived in London, and on Tuesday, the 20th, met him in Fleet-street, walking, or rather indeed moving along; for his peculiar march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner, in a short Life[238] of him published very soon after his death:—'When he walked the streets, what with the constant roll of his head, and the concomitant motion of his body, he appeared to make his way by that motion, independent of his feet.' That he was often much stared at while he advanced in this manner, may easily be believed; but it was not safe to make sport of one so robust as he was. Mr. Langton saw him one day, in a fit of absence, by a sudden start, drive the load off a porter's back, and walk forward briskly, without being conscious of what he had done.

The porter was very angry, but stood still, and eyed the huge figure with much earnestness, till he was satisfied that his wisest course was to be quiet, and take up his burthen again.

Our accidental meeting in the street after a long separation was a pleasing surprize to us both. He stepped aside with me into Falcon-court, and made kind inquiries about my family, and as we were in a hurry going different ways, I promised to call on him next day; he said he was engaged to go out in the morning. 'Early, Sir?' said I. JOHNSON: 'Why, Sir, a London morning does not go with the sun.'

I waited on him next evening, and he gave me a great portion of his original manuscript of his Lives of the Poets, which he had preserved for me.

I found on visiting his friend, Mr. Thrale, that he was now very ill, and had removed, I suppose by the solicitation of Mrs. Thrale, to a house in Grosvenor-square[239]. I was sorry to see him sadly changed in his appearance.

He told me I might now have the pleasure to see Dr. Johnson drink wine again, for he had lately returned to it. When I mentioned this to Johnson, he said, 'I drink it now sometimes, but not socially.' The first evening that I was with him at Thrale's, I observed he poured a large quantity of it into a glass, and swallowed it greedily. Every thing about his character and manners was forcible and violent; there never was any moderation; many a day did he fast, many a year did he refrain from wine; but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance[240].

Mrs. Thrale and I had a dispute, whether Shakspeare or Milton had drawn the most admirable picture of a man[241]. I was for Shakspeare; Mrs. Thrale for Milton; and after a fair hearing, Johnson decided for my opinion.

I told him of one of Mr. Burke's playful sallies upon Dean Marlay[242]: 'I don't like the Deanery of Ferns, it sounds so like a barren title.'—'Dr. Heath should have it;' said I. Johnson laughed, and condescending to trifle in the same mode of conceit, suggested Dr. Moss[243].

He said, 'Mrs. Montagu has dropt me. Now, Sir, there are people whom one should like very well to drop, but would not wish to be dropped by[244].' He certainly was vain of the society of ladies, and could make himself very agreeable to them, when he chose it; Sir Joshua Reynolds agreed with me that he could. Mr. Gibbon, with his usual sneer, controverted it, perhaps in resentment of Johnson's having talked with some disgust of his ugliness[245], which one would think a philosopher would not mind. Dean Marlay wittily observed, 'A lady may be vain, when she can turn a wolf-dog into a lap-dog.'

The election for Ayrshire, my own county, was this spring tried upon a petition, before a Committee of the House of Commons. I was one of the Counsel for the sitting member, and took the liberty of previously stating different points to Johnson, who never failed to see them clearly, and to supply me with some good hints. He dictated to me the following note upon the registration of deeds:—

'All laws are made for the convenience of the community: what is legally done, should be legally recorded, that the state of things may be known, and that wherever evidence is requisite, evidence may be had. For this reason, the obligation to frame and establish a legal register is enforced by a legal penalty, which penalty is the want of that perfection and plentitude of right which a register would give. Thence it follows, that this is not an objection merely legal: for the reason on which the law stands being equitable, makes it an equitable objection.'

'This (said he) you must enlarge on, when speaking to the Committee. You must not argue there as if you were arguing in the schools[246]; close reasoning will not fix their attention; you must say the same thing over and over again, in different words. If you say it but once, they miss it in a moment of inattention. It is unjust, Sir, to censure lawyers for multiplying words when they argue; it is often necessary for them to multiply words[247].' His notion of the duty of a member of Parliament, sitting upon an election-committee[248], was very high; and when he was told of a gentleman upon one of those committees, who read the newspapers part of the time, and slept the rest, while the merits of a vote were examined by the counsel; and as an excuse, when challenged by the chairman for such behaviour, bluntly answered, 'I had made up my mind upon that case;'—Johnson, with an indignant contempt, said, 'If he was such a rogue as to make up his mind upon a case without hearing it, he should not have been such a fool as to tell it.' 'I think (said Mr. Dudley Long[249], now North) the Doctor has pretty plainly made him out to be both rogue and fool.'

Johnson's profound reverence for the Hierarchy[250] made him expect from bishops the highest degree of decorum; he was offended even at their going to taverns; 'A bishop (said he) has nothing to do at a tippling-house. It is not indeed immoral in him to go to a tavern; neither would it be immoral in him to whip a top in Grosvenor-square. But, if he did, I hope the boys would fall upon him, and apply the whip to him. There are gradations in conduct; there is morality,—decency,—propriety. None of these should be violated by a bishop. A bishop should not go to a house where he may meet a young fellow leading out a wench.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, every tavern does not admit women.' JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, any tavern will admit a well-drest man and a well-drest woman; they will not perhaps admit a woman whom they see every night walking by their door, in the street. But a well-drest man may lead in a well-drest woman to any tavern in London. Taverns sell meat and drink, and will sell them to any body who can eat and can drink. You may as well say that a mercer will not sell silks to a woman of the town.'

He also disapproved of bishops going to routs, at least of their staying at them longer than their presence commanded respect. He mentioned a particular bishop. 'Poh! (said Mrs. Thrale) the Bishop of ——[251] is never minded at a rout.' BOSWELL. 'When a bishop places himself in a situation where he has no distinct character, and is of no consequence, he degrades the dignity of his order.' JOHNSON. 'Mr. Boswell, Madam, has said it as correctly as it could be.'

Nor was it only in the dignitaries of the Church that Johnson required a particular decorum and delicacy of behaviour; he justly considered that the clergy, as persons set apart for the sacred office of serving at the altar, and impressing the minds of men with the aweful concerns of a future state, should be somewhat more serious than the generality of mankind, and have a suitable composure of manners. A due sense of the dignity of their profession, independent of higher motives, will ever prevent them from losing their distinction in an indiscriminate sociality; and did such as affect this, know how much it lessens them in the eyes of those whom they think to please by it, they would feel themselves much mortified.

Johnson and his friend, Beauclerk, were once together in company with several clergymen, who thought that they should appear to advantage, by assuming the lax jollity of men of the world; which, as it may be observed in similar cases, they carried to noisy excess. Johnson, who they expected would be entertained, sat grave and silent for some time; at last, turning to Beauclerk, he said, by no means in a whisper, 'This merriment of parsons is mighty offensive.'

Even the dress of a clergyman should be in character, and nothing can be more despicable than conceited attempts at avoiding the appearance of the clerical order; attempts, which are as ineffectual as they are pitiful. Dr. Porteus, now Bishop of London, in his excellent charge when presiding over the diocese of Chester, justly animadverts upon this subject; and observes of a reverend fop, that he 'can be but half a beau[252].'

Addison, in The Spectator[253], has given us a fine portrait of a clergyman, who is supposed to be a member of his Club; and Johnson has exhibited a model, in the character of Mr. Mudge[254], which has escaped the collectors of his works, but which he owned to me, and which indeed he shewed to Sir Joshua Reynolds at the time when it was written. It bears the genuine marks of Johnson's best manner, and is as follows[255]:—

'The Reverend Mr. Zacariah Mudge, Prebendary of Exeter, and Vicar of St. Andrew's in Plymouth; a man equally eminent for his virtues and abilities, and at once beloved as a companion and reverenced as a pastor. He had that general curiosity to which no kind of knowledge is indifferent or superfluous; and that general benevolence by which no order of men is hated or despised.

His principles both of thought and action were great and comprehensive. By a solicitous examination of objections, and judicious comparison of opposite arguments, he attained what enquiry never gives but to industry and perspicuity, a firm and unshaken settlement of conviction. But his firmness was without asperity; for, knowing with how much difficulty truth was sometimes found, he did not wonder that many missed it.

The general course of his life was determined by his profession; he studied the sacred volumes in the original languages; with what diligence and success, his Notes upon the Psalms give sufficient evidence. He once endeavoured to add the knowledge of Arabick to that of Hebrew; but finding his thoughts too much diverted from other studies, after some time desisted from his purpose.

His discharge of parochial duties was exemplary. How his Sermons[256] were composed, may be learned from the excellent volume which he has given to the publick; but how they were delivered, can be known only to those that heard them; for as he appeared in the pulpit, words will not easily describe him. His delivery, though unconstrained was not negligent, and though forcible was not turbulent; disdaining anxious nicety of emphasis, and laboured artifice of action, it captivated the hearer by its natural dignity, it roused the sluggish, and fixed the volatile, and detained the mind upon the subject, without directing it to the speaker.

The grandeur and solemnity of the preacher did not intrude upon his general behaviour; at the table of his friends he was a companion communicative and attentive, of unaffected manners, of manly cheerfulness, willing to please, and easy to be pleased. His acquaintance was universally solicited, and his presence obstructed no enjoyment which religion did not forbid. Though studious he was popular; though argumentative he was modest; though inflexible he was candid; and though metaphysical yet orthodox[257].'

On Friday, March 30, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with the Earl of Charlemont, Sir Annesley Stewart, Mr. Eliot of Port-Eliot, Mr. Burke, Dean Marlay, Mr. Langton; a most agreeable day, of which I regret that every circumstance is not preserved; but it is unreasonable to require such a multiplication of felicity.

Mr. Eliot, with whom Dr. Walter Harte had travelled[258], talked to us of his History of Gustavus Adolphus, which he said was a very good book in the German translation. JOHNSON. 'Harte was excessively vain. He put copies of his book in manuscript into the hands of Lord Chesterfield and Lord Granville, that they might revise it. Now how absurd was it to suppose that two such noblemen would revise so big a manuscript. Poor man! he left London the day of the publication of his book, that he might be out of the way of the great praise he was to receive; and he was ashamed to return, when he found how ill his book had succeeded. It was unlucky in coming out on the same day with Robertson's History of Scotland[259]. His husbandry[260], however, is good.' BOSWELL. 'So he was fitter for that than for heroick history: he did well, when he turned his sword into a plough-share.'

Mr. Eliot mentioned a curious liquor peculiar to his country, which the Cornish fishermen drink. They call it Mahogany; and it is made of two parts gin, and one part treacle, well beaten together. I begged to have some of it made, which was done with proper skill by Mr. Eliot. I thought it very good liquor; and said it was a counterpart of what is called Athol Porridge in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a mixture of whisky and honey. Johnson said, 'that must be a better liquor than the Cornish, for both its component parts are better.' He also observed, 'Mahogany must be a modern name; for it is not long since the wood called mahogany was known in this country.' I mentioned his scale of liquors[261];—claret for boys—port for men—brandy for heroes. 'Then (said Mr. Burke) let me have claret: I love to be a boy; to have the careless gaiety of boyish days.' JOHNSON. 'I should drink claret too, if it would give me that; but it does not: it neither makes boys men, nor men boys. You'll be drowned by it, before it has any effect upon you.'

I ventured to mention a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that Dr. Johnson was learning to dance of Vestris[262]. Lord Charlemont, wishing to excite him to talk, proposed in a whisper, that he should be asked, whether it was true. 'Shall I ask him?' said his Lordship. We were, by a great majority, clear for the experiment. Upon which his Lordship very gravely, and with a courteous air said, 'Pray, Sir, is it true that you are taking lessons of Vestris?' This was risking a good deal, and required the boldness of a General of Irish Volunteers to make the attempt. Johnson was at first startled, and in some heat answered, 'How can your Lordship ask so simple a question?' But immediately recovering himself, whether from unwillingness to be deceived, or to appear deceived, or whether from real good humour, he kept up the joke: 'Nay, but if any body were to answer the paragraph, and contradict it, I'd have a reply, and would say, that he who contradicted it was no friend either to Vestris or me. For why should not Dr.[263] Johnson add to his other powers a little corporeal agility? Socrates learnt to dance at an advanced age, and Cato learnt Greek at an advanced age. Then it might proceed to say, that this Johnson, not content with dancing on the ground, might dance on the rope; and they might introduce the elephant dancing on the rope. A nobleman[264] wrote a play, called Love in a hollow Tree. He found out that it was a bad one, and therefore wished to buy up all the copies, and burn them. The Duchess of Marlborough had kept one; and when he was against her at an election, she had a new edition of it printed, and prefixed to it, as a frontispiece, an elephant dancing on a rope; to shew, that his Lordship's writing comedy was as aukward as an elephant dancing on a rope[265].'

On Sunday, April 1, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, with Sir Philip Jennings Clerk and Mr. Perkins[266], who had the superintendence of Mr. Thrale's brewery, with a salary of five hundred pounds a year. Sir Philip had the appearance of a gentleman of ancient family, well advanced in life. He wore his own white hair in a bag of goodly size, a black velvet coat, with an embroidered waistcoat, and very rich laced ruffles; which Mrs. Thrale said were old fashioned, but which, for that reason, I thought the more respectable, more like a Tory; yet Sir Philip was then in Opposition in Parliament[267]. 'Ah, Sir, (said Johnson,) ancient ruffles and modern principles do not agree.' Sir Philip defended the Opposition to the American war ably and with temper, and I joined him. He said, the majority of the nation was against the ministry. JOHNSON. 'I, Sir, am against the ministry[268]; but it is for having too little of that, of which Opposition thinks they have too much. Were I minister, if any man wagged his finger against me, he should be turned out[269]; for that which it is in the power of Government to give at pleasure to one or to another, should be given to the supporters of Government. If you will not oppose at the expence of losing your place, your opposition will not be honest, you will feel no serious grievance; and the present opposition is only a contest to get what others have. Sir Robert Walpole acted as I would do. As to the American war, the sense of the nation is with the ministry. The majority of those who can understand is with it; the majority of those who can only hear, is against it; and as those who can only hear are more numerous than those who can understand, and Opposition is always loudest, a majority of the rabble will be for Opposition.'

This boisterous vivacity entertained us; but the truth in my opinion was, that those who could understand the best were against the American war, as almost every man now is, when the question has been coolly considered.

Mrs. Thrale gave high praise to Mr. Dudley Long, (now North). JOHNSON. 'Nay, my dear lady, don't talk so. Mr. Long's character is very short. It is nothing. He fills a chair. He is a man of genteel appearance, and that is all[270]. I know nobody who blasts by praise as you do: for whenever there is exaggerated praise, every body is set against a character. They are provoked to attack it. Now there is Pepys[271]; you praised that man with such disproportion, that I was incited to lessen him, perhaps more than he deserves[272]. His blood is upon your head[273]. By the same principle, your malice defeats itself; for your censure is too violent. And yet (looking to her with a leering smile) she is the first woman in the world, could she but restrain that wicked tongue of hers;—she would be the only woman, could she but command that little whirligig[274].'

Upon the subject of exaggerated praise I took the liberty to say, that I thought there might be very high praise given to a known character which deserved it, and therefore it would not be exaggerated. Thus, one might say of Mr. Edmund Burke, He is a very wonderful man. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, you would not be safe if another man had a mind perversely to contradict. He might answer, "Where is all the wonder? Burke is, to be sure, a man of uncommon abilities, with a great quantity of matter in his mind, and a great fluency of language in his mouth. But we are not to be stunned and astonished by him." So you see, Sir, even Burke would suffer, not from any fault of his own, but from your folly.'

Mrs. Thrale mentioned a gentleman who had acquired a fortune of four thousand a year in trade, but was absolutely miserable, because he could not talk in company; so miserable, that he was impelled to lament his situation in the street to ——[275], whom he hates, and who he knows despises him. 'I am a most unhappy man (said he). I am invited to conversations. I go to conversations; but, alas! I have no conversation.' JOHNSON. 'Man commonly cannot be successful in different ways. This gentleman has spent, in getting four thousand pounds a year, the time in which he might have learnt to talk; and now he cannot talk.' Mr. Perkins made a shrewd and droll remark: 'If he had got his four thousand a year as a mountebank, he might have learnt to talk at the same time that he was getting his fortune.'

Some other gentlemen came in. The conversation concerning the person whose character Dr. Johnson had treated so slightingly, as he did not know his merit, was resumed. Mrs. Thrale said, 'You think so of him, Sir, because he is quiet, and does not exert himself with force. You'll be saying the same thing of Mr. —— there, who sits as quiet—.' This was not well-bred; and Johnson did not let it pass without correction. 'Nay, Madam, what right have you to talk thus? Both Mr. —— and I have reason to take it ill. You may talk so of Mr. ——; but why do you make me do it. Have I said anything against Mr. ——? You have set him, that I might shoot him: but I have not shot him.'

One of the gentlemen said, he had seen three folio volumes of Dr. Johnson's sayings collected by me. 'I must put you right, Sir, (said I;) for I am very exact in authenticity. You could not see folio volumes, for I have none: you might have seen some in quarto and octavo. This is inattention which one should guard against.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is a want of concern about veracity. He does not know that he saw any volumes. If he had seen them he could have remembered their size[276].'

Mr. Thrale appeared very lethargick to-day. I saw him again on Monday evening, at which time he was not thought to be in immediate danger; but early in the morning of Wednesday, the 4th[277], he expired[278]. Johnson was in the house, and thus mentions the event: 'I felt almost the last flutter of his pulse, and looked for the last time upon the face that for fifteen years had never been turned upon me but with respect and benignity[279].' Upon that day there was a Call of the LITERARY CLUB; but Johnson apologised for his absence by the following note:—

'MR. JOHNSON knows that Sir Joshua Reynolds and the other gentlemen will excuse his incompliance with the call, when they are told that Mr. Thrale died this morning.' Wednesday.'

Mr. Thrale's death was a very essential loss to Johnson[280], who, although he did not foresee all that afterwards happened, was sufficiently convinced that the comforts which Mr. Thrale's family afforded him, would now in a great measure cease. He, however continued to shew a kind attention to his widow and children as long as it was acceptable; and he took upon him, with a very earnest concern, the office of one of his executors, the importance of which seemed greater than usual to him, from his circumstances having been always such, that he had scarcely any share in the real business of life[281]. His friends of the CLUB were in hopes that Mr. Thrale might have made a liberal provision for him for his life, which, as Mr. Thrale left no son, and a very large fortune, it would have been highly to his honour to have done; and, considering Dr. Johnson's age, could not have been of long duration; but he bequeathed him only two hundred pounds, which was the legacy given to each of his executors[282]. I could not but be somewhat diverted by hearing Johnson talk in a pompous manner of his new office, and particularly of the concerns of the brewery, which it was at last resolved should be sold[283]. Lord Lucan[284] tells a very good story, which, if not precisely exact, is certainly characteristic: that when the sale of Thrale's brewery was going forward, Johnson appeared bustling about, with an ink-horn and pen in his button-hole, like an excise-man; and on being asked what he really considered to be the value of the property which was to be disposed of, answered, 'We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats but the potentiality of growing rich, beyond the dreams of avarice[285].'

On Friday, April 6, he carried me to dine at a club, which, at his desire, had been lately formed at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Church-yard. He told Mr. Hoole, that he wished to have a City Club, and asked him to collect one; but, said he, 'Don't let them be patriots[286].' The company were to-day very sensible, well-behaved men. I have preserved only two particulars of his conversation. He said he was glad Lord George Gordon had escaped[287], rather than that a precedent should be established for hanging a man for constructive treason; which, in consistency with his true, manly, constitutional Toryism, he considered would be a dangerous engine of arbitrary power. And upon its being mentioned that an opulent and very indolent Scotch nobleman, who totally resigned the management of his affairs to a man of knowledge and abilities, had claimed some merit by saying, 'The next best thing to managing a man's own affairs well is being sensible of incapacity, and not attempting it, but having full confidence in one who can do it:' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is paltry. There is a middle course. Let a man give application; and depend upon it he will soon get above a despicable state of helplessness, and attain the power of acting for himself.'

On Saturday, April 7, I dined with him at Mr. Hoole's with Governour Bouchier and Captain Orme, both of whom had been long in the East-Indies; and being men of good sense and observation, were very entertaining. Johnson defended the oriental regulation of different casts of men, which was objected to as totally destructive of the hopes of rising in society by personal merit. He shewed that there was a principle in it sufficiently plausible by analogy. 'We see (said he) in metals that there are different species; and so likewise in animals, though one species may not differ very widely from another, as in the species of dogs,—the cur, the spaniel, the mastiff. The Bramins are the mastiffs of mankind.'

On Thursday, April 12, I dined with him at a Bishop's, where were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Berrenger, and some more company. He had dined the day before at another Bishop's. I have unfortunately recorded none of his conversation at the Bishop's where we dined together[288]: but I have preserved his ingenious defence of his dining twice abroad in Passion-week[289]; a laxity, in which I am convinced he would not have indulged himself at the time when he wrote his solemn paper in The Rambler[290], upon that aweful season. It appeared to me, that by being much more in company, and enjoying more luxurious living, he had contracted a keener relish of pleasure, and was consequently less rigorous in his religious rites. This he would not acknowledge; but he reasoned with admirable sophistry, as follows: 'Why, Sir, a Bishop's calling company together in this week is, to use the vulgar phrase, not the thing. But you must consider laxity is a bad thing; but preciseness is also a bad thing; and your general character may be more hurt by preciseness than by dining with a Bishop in Passion-week. There might be a handle for reflection. It might be said, 'He refused to dine with a Bishop in Passion-week, but was three Sundays absent from Church.' BOSWELL. 'Very true, Sir. But suppose a man to be uniformly of good conduct, would it not be better that he should refuse to dine with a Bishop in this week, and so not encourage a bad practice by his example?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider whether you might not do more harm by lessening the influence of a Bishop's character by your disapprobation in refusing him, than by going to him.'


'Life is full of troubles. I have just lost my dear friend Thrale. I hope he is happy; but I have had a great loss. I am otherwise pretty well. I require some care of myself, but that care is not ineffectual; and when I am out of order, I think it often my own fault.

'The spring is now making quick advances. As it is the season in which the whole world is enlivened and invigorated, I hope that both you and I shall partake of its benefits. My desire is to see Lichfield; but being left executor to my friend, I know not whether I can be spared; but I will try, for it is now long since we saw one another, and how little we can promise ourselves many more interviews, we are taught by hourly examples of mortality. Let us try to live so as that mortality may not be an evil. Write to me soon, my dearest; your letters will give me great pleasure.

'I am sorry that Mr. Porter has not had his box; but by sending it to Mr. Mathias, who very readily undertook its conveyance, I did the best I could, and perhaps before now he has it.

'Be so kind as to make my compliments to my friends; I have a great value for their kindness, and hope to enjoy it before summer is past. Do write to me. I am, dearest love,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, April 12, 1781.'

On Friday, April 13, being Good-Friday, I went to St. Clement's church with him as usual. There I saw again his old fellow-collegian, Edwards[291], to whom I said, 'I think, Sir, Dr. Johnson and you meet only at Church.'—'Sir, (said he,) it is the best place we can meet in, except Heaven, and I hope we shall meet there too.' Dr. Johnson told me, that there was very little communication between Edwards and him, after their unexpected renewal of acquaintance. 'But (said he, smiling) he met me once, and said, "I am told you have written a very pretty book called The Rambler." I was unwilling that he should leave the world in total darkness, and sent him a set.'

Mr. Berrenger[292] visited him to-day, and was very pleasing. We talked of an evening society for conversation at a house in town, of which we were all members, but of which Johnson said, 'It will never do, Sir. There is nothing served about there, neither tea, nor coffee, nor lemonade, nor any thing whatever; and depend upon it, Sir, a man does not love to go to a place from whence he comes out exactly as he went in.' I endeavoured, for argument's sake, to maintain that men of learning and talents might have very good intellectual society, without the aid of any little gratifications of the senses. Berrenger joined with Johnson, and said, that without these any meeting would be dull and insipid. He would therefore have all the slight refreshments; nay, it would not be amiss to have some cold meat, and a bottle of wine upon a side-board. 'Sir, (said Johnson to me, with an air of triumph,) Mr. Berrenger knows the world. Every body loves to have good things furnished to them without any trouble. I told Mrs. Thrale once, that as she did not choose to have card tables, she should have a profusion of the best sweetmeats, and she would be sure to have company enough come to her[293].' I agreed with my illustrious friend upon this subject; for it has pleased GOD to make man a composite animal, and where there is nothing to refresh the body, the mind will languish.

On Sunday, April 15, being Easter-day, after solemn worship in St. Paul's church, I found him alone; Dr. Scott of the Commons came in. He talked of its having been said that Addison wrote some of his best papers in The Spectator when warm with wine[294]. Dr. Johnson did not seem willing to admit this. Dr. Scott, as a confirmation of it, related, that Blackstone, a sober man, composed his Commentaries with a bottle of port before him; and found his mind invigorated and supported in the fatigue of his great work, by a temperate use of it[295].

I told him, that in a company where I had lately been, a desire was expressed to know his authority for the shocking story of Addison's sending an execution into Steele's house[296]. 'Sir, (said he,) it is generally known, it is known to all who are acquainted with the literary history of that period. It is as well known, as that he wrote Cato.' Mr. Thomas Sheridan once defended Addison to me, by alledging that he did it in order to cover Steele's goods from other creditors, who were going to seize them.

We talked of the difference between the mode of education at Oxford, and that in those Colleges where instruction is chiefly conveyed by lectures[297]. JOHNSON. 'Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back as you do upon a book.' Dr. Scott agreed with him. 'But yet (said I), Dr. Scott, you yourself gave lectures at Oxford[298].' He smiled. 'You laughed (then said I) at those who came to you.'

Dr. Scott left us, and soon afterwards we went to dinner. Our company consisted of Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Desmoulins, Mr. Levett, Mr. Allen, the printer, and Mrs. Hall[299], sister of the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, and resembling him, as I thought, both in figure and manner. Johnson produced now, for the first time, some handsome silver salvers, which he told me he had bought fourteen years ago; so it was a great day. I was not a little amused by observing Allen perpetually struggling to talk in the manner of Johnson, like the little frog in the fable blowing himself up to resemble the stately ox[300].

I mentioned a kind of religious Robinhood Society[301], which met every Sunday evening, at Coachmakers'-hall, for free debate; and that the subject for this night was, the text which relates, with other miracles, which happened at our SAVIOUR'S death, 'And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many[302].' Mrs. Hall said it was a very curious subject, and she should like to hear it discussed. JOHNSON, (somewhat warmly) 'One would not go to such a place to hear it,—one would not be seen in such a place—to give countenance to such a meeting.' I, however, resolved that I would go. 'But, Sir, (said she to Johnson,) I should like to hear you discuss it.' He seemed reluctant to engage in it. She talked of the resurrection of the human race in general, and maintained that we shall be raised with the same bodies. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, we see that it is not to be the same body; for the Scripture uses the illustration of grain sown, and we know that the grain which grows is not the same with what is sown[303]. You cannot suppose that we shall rise with a diseased body; it is enough if there be such a sameness as to distinguish identity of person.' She seemed desirous of knowing more, but he left the question in obscurity.

Of apparitions[304], he observed, 'A total disbelief of them is adverse to the opinion of the existence of the soul between death and the last day; the question simply is, whether departed spirits ever have the power of making themselves perceptible to us; a man who thinks he has seen an apparition, can only be convinced himself; his authority will not convince another, and his conviction, if rational, must be founded on being told something which cannot be known but by supernatural means.'

He mentioned a thing as not unfrequent, of which I had never heard before,—being called, that is, hearing one's name pronounced by the voice of a known person at a great distance, far beyond the possibility of being reached by any sound uttered by human organs. 'An acquaintance, on whose veracity I can depend, told me, that walking home one evening to Kilmarnock, he heard himself called from a wood, by the voice of a brother who had gone to America; and the next packet brought accounts of that brother's death.' Macbean[305] asserted that this inexplicable calling was a thing very well known. Dr. Johnson said, that one day at Oxford, as he was turning the key of his chamber, he heard his mother distinctly call Sam. She was then at Lichfield; but nothing ensued[306]. This phaenomenon is, I think, as wonderful as any other mysterious fact, which many people are very slow to believe, or rather, indeed, reject with an obstinate contempt.

Some time after this, upon his making a remark which escaped my attention, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Hall were both together striving to answer him. He grew angry, and called out loudly, 'Nay, when you both speak at once, it is intolerable.' But checking himself, and softening, he said, 'This one may say, though you are ladies.' Then he brightened into gay humour, and addressed them in the words of one of the songs in The Beggar's Opera[307]:—

     'But two at a time there's no mortal can bear.'

'What, Sir, (said I,) are you going to turn Captain Macheath?' There was something as pleasantly ludicrous in this scene as can be imagined. The contrast between Macheath, Polly, and Lucy—and Dr. Samuel Johnson, blind, peevish Mrs. Williams, and lean, lank, preaching Mrs. Hall, was exquisite.

I stole away to Coachmakers'-hall, and heard the difficult text of which we had talked, discussed with great decency, and some intelligence, by several speakers. There was a difference of opinion as to the appearance of ghosts in modern times, though the arguments for it, supported by Mr. Addison's authority[308], preponderated. The immediate subject of debate was embarrassed by the bodies of the saints having been said to rise, and by the question what became of them afterwards; did they return again to their graves? or were they translated to heaven? Only one evangelist mentions the fact[309], and the commentators whom I have looked at, do not make the passage clear. There is, however, no occasion for our understanding it farther, than to know that it was one of the extraordinary manifestations of divine power, which accompanied the most important event that ever happened.

On Friday, April 20, I spent with him one of the happiest days that I remember to have enjoyed in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick, whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with her[310]. The company was Miss Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom she called her Chaplain[311]; Mrs. Boscawen[312], Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found ourselves very elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi[313], where I have passed many a pleasing hour with him 'who gladdened life[314].' She looked well, talked of her husband with complacency, and while she cast her eyes on his portrait, which hung over the chimney-piece, said, that 'death was now the most agreeable object to her[315].' The very semblance of David Garrick was cheering. Mr. Beauclerk, with happy propriety, inscribed under that fine portrait of him, which by Lady Diana's kindness is now the property of my friend Mr. Langton, the following passage from his beloved Shakspeare:—

     'A merrier man,
      Within the limit of becoming mirth,
      I never spent an hour's talk withal.
      His eye begets occasion for his wit;
      For every object that the one doth catch,
      The other turns to a mirth-moving jest;
      Which his fair tongue (Conceit's expositor)
      Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
      That aged ears play truant at his tales,
      And younger hearings are quite ravished:
      So sweet and voluble is his discourse316.'

We were all in fine spirits; and I whispered to Mrs. Boscawen, 'I believe this is as much as can be made of life.' In addition to a splendid entertainment, we were regaled with Lichfield ale[317], which had a peculiar appropriated value. Sir Joshua, and Dr. Burney, and I, drank cordially of it to Dr. Johnson's health; and though he would not join us, he as cordially answered, 'Gentlemen, I wish you all as well as you do me.'

The general effect of this day dwells upon my mind in fond remembrance; but I do not find much conversation recorded. What I have preserved shall be faithfully given.

One of the company mentioned Mr. Thomas Hollis, the strenuous Whig, who used to send over Europe presents of democratical books, with their boards stamped with daggers and caps of liberty. Mrs. Carter said, 'He was a bad man. He used to talk uncharitably.' JOHNSON. 'Poh! poh! Madam; who is the worse for being talked of uncharitably? Besides, he was a dull poor creature as ever lived: And I believe he would not have done harm to a man whom he knew to be of very opposite principles to his own. I remember once at the Society of Arts, when an advertisement was to be drawn up, he pointed me out as the man who could do it best. This, you will observe, was kindness to me. I however slipt away, and escaped it.'

Mrs. Carter having said of the same person, 'I doubt he was an Atheist[318].' JOHNSON. 'I don't know that. He might perhaps have become one, if he had had time to ripen, (smiling.) He might have exuberated into an Atheist.'

Sir Joshua Reynolds praised Mudge's Sermons[319]. JOHNSON. 'Mudge's Sermons are good, but not practical. He grasps more sense than he can hold; he takes more corn than he can make into meal; he opens a wide prospect, but it is so distant, it is indistinct. I love Blair's Sermons. Though the dog is a Scotchman, and a Presbyterian, and every thing he should not be, I was the first to praise them[320]. Such was my candour.' (smiling.) MRS. BOSCAWEN. 'Such his great merit to get the better of all your prejudices.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, let us compound the matter; let us ascribe it to my candour, and his merit.'

In the evening we had a large company in the drawing-room, several ladies, the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Percy, Mr. Chamberlayne[321], of the Treasury, &c. &c. Somebody said the life of a mere literary man could not be very entertaining. JOHNSON. 'But it certainly may. This is a remark which has been made, and repeated, without justice; why should the life of a literary man be less entertaining than the life of any other man? Are there not as interesting varieties in such a life[322]? As a literary life it may be very entertaining.' BOSWELL. 'But it must be better surely, when it is diversified with a little active variety— such as his having gone to Jamaica; or—his having gone to the Hebrides.' Johnson was not displeased at this.

Talking of a very respectable authour, he told us a curious circumstance in his life, which was, that he had married a printer's devil. REYNOLDS. 'A printer's devil, Sir! Why, I thought a printer's devil was a creature with a black face and in rags.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. But I suppose, he had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her. (Then looking very serious, and very earnest.) And she did not disgrace him; the woman had a bottom of good sense. The word bottom thus introduced, was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slyly hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should excite ridicule, when he did not intend it; he therefore resolved to assume and exercise despotick power, glanced sternly around, and called out in a strong tone, 'Where's the merriment?' Then collecting himself, and looking aweful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly pronounced, 'I say the woman was fundamentally sensible;' as if he had said, hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as at a funeral[323].

He and I walked away together; we stopped a little while by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to him with some emotion that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost, who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. 'Ay, Sir, (said he, tenderly) and two such friends as cannot be supplied[324].'

For some time after this day I did not see him very often, and of the conversation which I did enjoy, I am sorry to find I have preserved but little. I was at this time engaged in a variety of other matters, which required exertion and assiduity, and necessarily occupied almost all my time.

One day having spoken very freely of those who were then in power, he said to me, 'Between ourselves, Sir, I do not like to give opposition the satisfaction of knowing how much I disapprove of the ministry.' And when I mentioned that Mr. Burke had boasted how quiet the nation was in George the Second's reign, when Whigs were in power, compared with the present reign, when Tories governed;—'Why, Sir, (said he,) you are to consider that Tories having more reverence for government, will not oppose with the same violence as Whigs, who being unrestrained by that principle, will oppose by any means.'

This month he lost not only Mr. Thrale, but another friend, Mr. William Strahan, Junior, printer, the eldest son of his old and constant friend, Printer to his Majesty.


'The grief which I feel for the loss of a very kind friend is sufficient to make me know how much you suffer by the death of an amiable son; a man, of whom I think it may truly be said, that no one knew him who does not lament him. I look upon myself as having a friend, another friend, taken from me.

'Comfort, dear Madam, I would give you if I could, but I know how little the forms of consolation can avail. Let me, however, counsel you not to waste your health in unprofitable sorrow, but go to Bath, and endeavour to prolong your own life; but when we have all done all that we can, one friend must in time lose the other.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 23, 1781.'

On Tuesday, May 8[325], I had the pleasure of again dining with him and Mr. Wilkes, at Mr. Billy's[326]. No negociation was now required to bring them together; for Johnson was so well satisfied with the former interview, that he was very glad to meet Wilkes again, who was this day seated between Dr. Beattie and Dr. Johnson; (between Truth[327] and Reason, as General Paoli said, when I told him of it.) WILKES. 'I have been thinking, Dr. Johnson, that there should be a bill brought into parliament that the controverted elections for Scotland should be tried in that country, at their own Abbey of Holy-Rood House, and not here; for the consequence of trying them here is, that we have an inundation of Scotchmen, who come up and never go back again. Now here is Boswell, who is come up upon the election for his own county, which will not last a fortnight.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I see no reason why they should be tried at all; for, you know, one Scotchman is as good as another.' WILKES. 'Pray, Boswell, how much may be got in a year by an Advocate at the Scotch bar?' BOSWELL. 'I believe two thousand pounds.' WlLKES. 'How can it be possible to spend that money in Scotland?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the money may be spent in England: but there is a harder question. If one man in Scotland gets possession of two thousand pounds, what remains for all the rest of the nation?' WILKES. 'You know, in the last war, the immense booty which Thurot[328] carried off by the complete plunder of seven Scotch isles; he re-embarked with three and six-pence.' Here again Johnson and Wilkes joined in extravagant sportive raillery upon the supposed poverty of Scotland, which Dr. Beattie and I did not think it worth our while to dispute.

The subject of quotation being introduced, Mr. Wilkes censured it as pedantry[329]. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, it is a good thing; there is a community of mind in it. Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.' WlLKES. 'Upon the continent they all quote the vulgate Bible. Shakspeare is chiefly quoted here; and we quote also Pope, Prior, Butler, Waller, and sometimes Cowley[330].'

We talked of Letter-writing. JOHNSON. 'It is now become so much the fashion to publish letters, that in order to avoid it, I put as little into mine as I can.[331]' BOSWELL. 'Do what you will, Sir, you cannot avoid it. Should you even write as ill as you can, your letters would be published as curiosities:

     "Behold a miracle! instead of wit,
      See two dull lines with Stanhope's pencil writ332."'

He gave us an entertaining account of Bet Flint[333], a woman of the town, who, with some eccentrick talents and much effrontery, forced herself upon his acquaintance. 'Bet (said he) wrote her own Life in verse[334], which she brought to me, wishing that I would furnish her with a Preface to it. (Laughing.) I used to say of her that she was generally slut and drunkard; occasionally, whore and thief. She had, however, genteel lodgings, a spinnet on which she played, and a boy that walked before her chair. Poor Bet was taken up on a charge of stealing a counterpane, and tried at the Old Bailey. Chief Justice ———[335], who loved a wench, summed up favourably, and she was acquitted. After which Bet said, with a gay and satisfied air, 'Now that the counterpane is my own, I shall make a petticoat of it.'

Talking of oratory, Mr. Wilkes described it as accompanied with all the charms of poetical expression. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; oratory is the power of beating down your adversary's arguments, and putting better in their place.' WlLKES. 'But this does not move the passions.' JOHNSON. 'He must be a weak man, who is to be so moved.' WlLKES. (naming a celebrated orator) 'Amidst all the brilliancy of ——'s[336] imagination, and the exuberance of his wit, there is a strange want of taste. It was observed of Apelles's Venus[337], that her flesh seemed as if she had been nourished by roses: his oratory would sometimes make one suspect that he eats potatoes and drinks whisky.'

Mr. Wilkes observed, how tenacious we are of forms in this country, and gave as an instance, the vote of the House of Commons for remitting money to pay the army in America in Portugal pieces[338], when, in reality, the remittance is made not in Portugal money, but in our own specie. JOHNSON. 'Is there not a law, Sir, against exporting the current coin of the realm?' WlLKES. 'Yes, Sir: but might not the House of Commons, in case of real evident necessity, order our own current coin to be sent into our own colonies?' Here Johnson, with that quickness of recollection which distinguished him so eminently, gave the Middlesex Patriot an admirable retort upon his own ground. 'Sure, Sir, you don't think a resolution of the House of Commons equal to the law of the land[339].' WlLKES. (at once perceiving the application) 'GOD forbid, Sir.' To hear what had been treated with such violence in The False Alarm, now turned into pleasant repartee, was extremely agreeable. Johnson went on;—'Locke observes well, that a prohibition to export the current coin is impolitick; for when the balance of trade happens to be against a state, the current coin must be exported[340].'

Mr. Beauclerk's great library[341] was this season sold in London by auction. Mr. Wilkes said, he wondered to find in it such a numerous collection of sermons; seeming to think it strange that a gentleman of Mr. Beauclerk's character in the gay world should have chosen to have many compositions of that kind. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider, that sermons make a considerable branch of English literature[342]; so that a library must be very imperfect if it has not a numerous collection of sermons[343]: and in all collections, Sir, the desire of augmenting it grows stronger in proportion to the advance in acquisition; as motion is accelerated by the continuance of the impetus. Besides, Sir, (looking at Mr. Wilkes with a placid but significant smile) a man may collect sermons with intention of making himself better by them. I hope Mr. Beauclerk intended, that some time or other that should be the case with him.'

Mr. Wilkes said to me, loud enough for Dr. Johnson to hear, 'Dr. Johnson should make me a present of his Lives of the Poets, as I am a poor patriot, who cannot afford to buy them.' Johnson seemed to take no notice of this hint; but in a little while, he called to Mr. Dilly, 'Pray, Sir, be so good as to send a set of my Lives to Mr. Wilkes, with my compliments.' This was accordingly done; and Mr. Wilkes paid Dr. Johnson a visit, was courteously received, and sat with him a long time.

The company gradually dropped away. Mr. Dilly himself was called down stairs upon business; I left the room for some time; when I returned, I was struck with observing Dr. Samuel Johnson and John Wilkes, Esq., literally tête-à-tête; for they were reclined upon their chairs, with their heads leaning almost close to each other, and talking earnestly, in a kind of confidential whisper, of the personal quarrel between George the Second and the King of Prussia[344]. Such a scene of perfectly easy sociality between two such opponents in the war of political controversy, as that which I now beheld, would have been an excellent subject for a picture. It presented to my mind the happy days which are foretold in Scripture, when the lion shall lie down with the kid[345].

After this day there was another pretty long interval, during which Dr. Johnson and I did not meet. When I mentioned it to him with regret, he was pleased to say, 'Then, Sir, let us live double.'

About this time it was much the fashion for several ladies to have evening assemblies, where the fair sex might participate in conversation with literary and ingenious men, animated by a desire to please. These societies were denominated Blue-stocking Clubs, the origin of which title being little known, it may be worth while to relate it. One of the most eminent members of those societies, when they first commenced, was Mr. Stillingfleet[346], whose dress was remarkably grave, and in particular it was observed, that he wore blue stockings[347]. Such was the excellence of his conversation, that his absence was felt as so great a loss, that it used to be said, 'We can do nothing without the blue stockings;' and thus by degrees the title was established. Miss Hannah More has admirably described a Blue-stocking Club, in her Bas Bleu[348], a poem in which many of the persons who were most conspicuous there are mentioned.

Johnson was prevailed with to come sometimes into these circles, and did not think himself too grave even for the lively Miss Monckton[349] (now Countess of Corke), who used to have the finest bit of blue at the house of her mother, Lady Galway. Her vivacity enchanted the Sage, and they used to talk together with all imaginable ease. A singular instance happened one evening, when she insisted that some of Sterne's writings were very pathetick. Johnson bluntly denied it. 'I am sure (said she) they have affected me.' 'Why (said Johnson, smiling, and rolling himself about,) that is, because, dearest, you're a dunce[350].' When she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with equal truth and politeness; 'Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said it.'

Another evening Johnson's kind indulgence towards me had a pretty difficult trial. I had dined at the Duke of Montrose's with a very agreeable party, and his Grace, according to his usual custom, had circulated the bottle very freely. Lord Graham[351] and I went together to Miss Monckton's, where I certainly was in extraordinary spirits, and above all fear or awe. In the midst of a great number of persons of the first rank, amongst whom I recollect with confusion, a noble lady of the most stately decorum, I placed myself next to Johnson, and thinking myself now fully his match, talked to him in a loud and boisterous manner, desirous to let the company know how I could contend with Ajax. I particularly remember pressing him upon the value of the pleasures of the imagination, and as an illustration of my argument, asking him, 'What, Sir, supposing I were to fancy that the—(naming the most charming Duchess in his Majesty's dominions) were in love with me, should I not be very happy?' My friend with much address evaded my interrogatories, and kept me as quiet as possible; but it may easily be conceived how he must have felt[352]. However, when a few days afterwards I waited upon him and made an apology, he behaved with the most friendly gentleness[353].

While I remained in London this year[354], Johnson and I dined together at several places. I recollect a placid day at Dr. Butter's[355], who had now removed from Derby to Lower Grosvenor-street, London; but of his conversation on that and other occasions during this period, I neglected to keep any regular record[356], and shall therefore insert here some miscellaneous articles which I find in my Johnsonian notes.

His disorderly habits, when 'making provision for the day that was passing over him[357],' appear from the following anecdote, communicated to me by Mr. John Nichols:—'In the year 1763, a young bookseller, who was an apprentice to Mr. Whiston, waited on him with a subscription to his Shakspeare: and observing that the Doctor made no entry in any book of the subscriber's name, ventured diffidently to ask, whether he would please to have the gentleman's address, that it might be properly inserted in the printed list of subscribers. 'I shall print no list of subscribers;' said Johnson, with great abruptness: but almost immediately recollecting himself, added, very complacently, 'Sir, I have two very cogent reasons for not printing any list of subscribers;—one, that I have lost all the names,—the other, that I have spent all the money.'

Johnson could not brook appearing to be worsted in argument, even when he had taken the wrong side, to shew the force and dexterity of his talents. When, therefore, he perceived that his opponent gained ground, he had recourse to some sudden mode of robust sophistry. Once when I was pressing upon him with visible advantage, he stopped me thus:—'My dear Boswell, let's have no more of this; you'll make nothing of it. I'd rather have you whistle a Scotch tune.'

Care, however, must be taken to distinguish between Johnson when he 'talked for victory[358],' and Johnson when he had no desire but to inform and illustrate. 'One of Johnson's principal talents (says an eminent friend of his)[359] was shewn in maintaining the wrong side of an argument, and in a splendid perversion of the truth. If you could contrive to have his fair opinion on a subject, and without any bias from personal prejudice, or from a wish to be victorious in argument, it was wisdom itself, not only convincing, but overpowering.'

He had, however, all his life habituated himself to consider conversation as a trial of intellectual vigour and skill[360]; and to this, I think, we may venture to ascribe that unexampled richness and brilliancy which appeared in his own. As a proof at once of his eagerness for colloquial distinction, and his high notion of this eminent friend, he once addressed him thus:-'——, we now have been several hours together; and you have said but one thing for which I envied you.'

He disliked much all speculative desponding considerations, which tended to discourage men from diligence and exertion. He was in this like Dr. Shaw, the great traveller[361], who Mr. Daines Barrington[362] told me, used to say, 'I hate a cui bono man.' Upon being asked by a friend[363] what he should think of a man who was apt to say non est tanti;-'That he's a stupid fellow, Sir; (answered Johnson): What would these tanti men be doing the while?' When I in a low-spirited fit, was talking to him with indifference of the pursuits which generally engage us in a course of action, and inquiring a reason for taking so much trouble; 'Sir (said he, in an animated tone) it is driving on the system of life.'

He told me, that he was glad that I had, by General Oglethorpe's means, become acquainted with Dr. Shebbeare. Indeed that gentleman, whatever objections were made to him, had knowledge and abilities much above the class of ordinary writers, and deserves to be remembered as a respectable name in literature, were it only for his admirable Letters on the English Nation, under the name of 'Battista Angeloni, a Jesuit[364].'

Johnson and Shebbeare[365] were frequently named together, as having in former reigns had no predilection for the family of Hanover. The authour of the celebrated Heroick Epistle to Sir William Chambers, introduces them in one line, in a list of those 'who tasted the sweets of his present Majesty's reign[366].' Such was Johnson's candid relish of the merit of that satire, that he allowed Dr. Goldsmith, as he told me, to read it to him from beginning to end, and did not refuse his praise to its execution[367].

Goldsmith could sometimes take adventurous liberties with him, and escape unpunished. Beauclerk told me that when Goldsmith talked of a project for having a third Theatre in London, solely for the exhibition of new plays, in order to deliver authours from the supposed tyranny of managers, Johnson treated it slightingly; upon which Goldsmith said, 'Ay, ay, this may be nothing to you, who can now shelter yourself behind the corner of a pension;' and that Johnson bore this with good-humour.

Johnson praised the Earl of Carlisle's Poems[368], which his Lordship had published with his name, as not disdaining to be a candidate for literary fame. My friend was of opinion, that when a man of rank appeared in that character, he deserved to have his merit handsomely allowed[369]. In this I think he was more liberal than Mr. William Whitehead[370], in his Elegy to Lord Villiers, in which under the pretext of 'superiour toils, demanding all their care,' he discovers a jealousy of the great paying their court to the Muses:—

     '———to the chosen few
        Who dare excel, thy fost'ring aid afford,
      Their arts, their magick powers, with honours due
        Exalt;—but be thyself what they record371.'

Johnson had called twice on the Bishop of Killaloe[372] before his Lordship set out for Ireland, having missed him the first time. He said, 'It would have hung heavy on my heart if I had not seen him. No man ever paid more attention to another than he has done to me[373]; and I have neglected him, not wilfully, but from being otherwise occupied. Always, Sir, set a high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord, will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.'

Johnson told me, that he was once much pleased to find that a carpenter, who lived near him, was very ready to shew him some things in his business which he wished to see: 'It was paying (said he) respect to literature.'

I asked him if he was not dissatisfied with having so small a share of wealth, and none of those distinctions in the state which are the objects of ambition. He had only a pension of three hundred a year. Why was he not in such circumstances as to keep his coach? Why had he not some considerable office? JOHNSON, 'Sir, I have never complained of the world[374]; nor do I think that I have reason to complain. It is rather to be wondered at that I have so much. My pension is more out of the usual course of things than any instance that I have known. Here, Sir, was a man avowedly no friend to Government at the time, who got a pension without asking for it. I never courted the great; they sent for me; but I think they now give me up. They are satisfied; they have seen enough of me.' Upon my observing that I could not believe this, for they must certainly be highly pleased by his conversation; conscious of his own superiority, he answered, 'No, Sir; great lords and great ladies don't love to have their mouths stopped[375].' This was very expressive of the effect which the force of his understanding and brilliancy of his fancy could not but produce; and, to be sure, they must have found themselves strangely diminished in his company. When I warmly declared how happy I was at all times to hear him;—'Yes, Sir, (said he); but if you were Lord Chancellor, it would not be so: you would then consider your own dignity.'

There was much truth and knowledge of human nature in this remark. But certainly one should think, that in whatever elevated state of life a man who knew the value of the conversation of Johnson might be placed, though he might prudently avoid a situation in which he might appear lessened by comparison; yet he would frequently gratify himself in private with the participation of the rich intellectual entertainment which Johnson could furnish. Strange, however, it is, to consider how few of the great sought his society[376]; so that if one were disposed to take occasion for satire on that account, very conspicuous objects present themselves. His noble friend, Lord Elibank, well observed, that if a great man procured an interview with Johnson, and did not wish to see him more, it shewed a mere idle curiosity, and a wretched want of relish for extraordinary powers of mind[377]. Mrs. Thrale justly and wittily accounted for such conduct by saying, that Johnson's conversation was by much too strong for a person accustomed to obsequiousness and flattery; it was mustard in a young child's mouth!

One day, when I told him that I was a zealous Tory, but not enough 'according to knowledge[378],' and should be obliged to him for 'a reason[379],' he was so candid, and expressed himself so well, that I begged of him to repeat what he had said, and I wrote down as follows:—


'A wise Tory and a wise Whig, I believe, will agree[380]. Their principles are the same, though their modes of thinking are different. A high Tory makes government unintelligible: it is lost in the clouds. A violent Whig makes it impracticable: he is for allowing so much liberty to every man, that there is not power enough to govern any man. The prejudice of the Tory is for establishment; the prejudice of the Whig is for innovation. A Tory does not wish to give more real power to Government; but that Government should have more reverence. Then they differ as to the Church. The Tory is not for giving more legal power to the Clergy, but wishes they should have a considerable influence, founded on the opinion of mankind; the Whig is for limiting and watching them with a narrow jealousy.'



However often I have seen you, I have hitherto forgotten the note, but I have now sent it: with my good wishes for the prosperity of you and your partner[381], of whom, from our short conversation, I could not judge otherwise than favourably.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant,


June 2, 1781.'

On Saturday, June 2, I set out for Scotland, and had promised to pay a visit in my way, as I sometimes did, at Southill, in Bedfordshire, at the hospitable mansion of 'Squire Dilly, the elder brother of my worthy friends, the booksellers, in the Poultry. Dr. Johnson agreed to be of the party this year, with Mr. Charles Dilly and me, and to go and see Lord Bute's seat at Luton Hoe. He talked little to us in the carriage, being chiefly occupied in reading Dr. Watson's[382] second volume of Chemical Essays[383], which he liked very well, and his own Prince of Abyssinia, on which he seemed to be intensely fixed; having told us, that he had not looked at it since it was first published. I happened to take it out of my pocket this day, and he seized upon it with avidity. He pointed out to me the following remarkable passage[384]:—

'By what means (said the prince) are the Europeans thus powerful; or why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or conquest, cannot the Asiaticks and Africans invade their coasts, plant colonies in their ports, and give laws to their natural princes? The same wind that carries them back would bring us thither.' 'They are more powerful, Sir, than we, (answered Imlac,) because they are wiser. Knowledge will always predominate over ignorance, as man governs the other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not what reason can be given, but the unsearchable will of the Supreme Being.'

He said, 'This, Sir, no man can explain otherwise.'

We stopped at Welwyn, where I wished much to see, in company with Dr. Johnson, the residence of the authour of Night Thoughts, which was then possessed by his son, Mr. Young. Here some address was requisite, for I was not acquainted with Mr. Young, and had I proposed to Dr. Johnson that we should send to him, he would have checked my wish, and perhaps been offended. I therefore concerted with Mr. Dilly, that I should steal away from Dr. Johnson and him, and try what reception I could procure from Mr. Young; if unfavourable, nothing was to be said; but if agreeable, I should return and notify it to them. I hastened to Mr. Young's, found he was at home, sent in word that a gentleman desired to wait upon him, and was shewn into a parlour, where he and a young lady, his daughter, were sitting. He appeared to be a plain, civil, country gentleman; and when I begged pardon for presuming to trouble him, but that I wished much to see his place, if he would give me leave; he behaved very courteously, and answered, 'By all means, Sir; we are just going to drink tea; will you sit down?' I thanked him, but said, that Dr. Johnson had come with me from London, and I must return to the inn and drink tea with him; that my name was Boswell, I had travelled with him in the Hebrides. 'Sir, (said he) I should think it a great honour to see Dr. Johnson here. Will you allow me to send for him?' Availing myself of this opening, I said that 'I would go myself and bring him, when he had drunk tea; he knew nothing of my calling here.' Having been thus successful, I hastened back to the inn, and informed Dr. Johnson that 'Mr. Young, son of Dr. Young, the authour of Night Thoughts, whom I had just left, desired to have the honour of seeing him at the house where his father lived.' Dr. Johnson luckily made no inquiry how this invitation had arisen, but agreed to go, and when we entered Mr. Young's parlour, he addressed him with a very polite bow, 'Sir, I had a curiosity to come and see this place. I had the honour to know that great man[385], your father.' We went into the garden, where we found a gravel walk, on each side of which was a row of trees, planted by Dr. Young, which formed a handsome Gothick arch; Dr. Johnson called it a fine grove. I beheld it with reverence.

We sat some time in the summer-house, on the outside wall of which was inscribed, 'Ambulantes in horto audiebant vocem Dei[386];' and in reference to a brook by which it is situated, 'Vivendi rectè qui prorogat horam[387],' &c. I said to Mr. Young, that I had been told his father was cheerful[388]. 'Sir, (said he) he was too well-bred a man not to be cheerful in company; but he was gloomy when alone. He never was cheerful after my mother's death, and he had met with many disappointments.' Dr. Johnson observed to me afterwards, 'That this was no favourable account of Dr. Young; for it is not becoming in a man to have so little acquiescence in the ways of Providence, as to be gloomy because he has not obtained as much preferment as he expected[389]; nor to continue gloomy for the loss of his wife. Grief has its time[390].' The last part of this censure was theoretically made. Practically, we know that grief for the loss of a wife may be continued very long, in proportion as affection has been sincere. No man knew this better than Dr. Johnson.

We went into the church, and looked at the monument erected by Mr. Young to his father. Mr. Young mentioned an anecdote, that his father had received several thousand pounds of subscription-money for his Universal Passion, but had lost it in the South-Sea[391]. Dr. Johnson thought this must be a mistake; for he had never seen a subscription-book.

Upon the road we talked of the uncertainty of profit with which authours and booksellers engage in the publication of literary works. JOHNSON. 'My judgement I have found is no certain rule as to the sale of a book.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, have you been much plagued with authours sending you their works to revise?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; I have been thought a sour, surly fellow.' BOSWELL. 'Very lucky for you, Sir,—in that respect.' I must however observe, that notwithstanding what he now said, which he no doubt imagined at the time to be the fact, there was, perhaps, no man who more frequently yielded to the solicitations even of very obscure authours, to read their manuscripts, or more liberally assisted them with advice and correction[392].

He found himself very happy at 'Squire Dilly's, where there is always abundance of excellent fare, and hearty welcome.

On Sunday, June 3, we all went to Southill church, which is very near to Mr. Dilly's house. It being the first Sunday of the month, the holy sacrament was administered, and I staid to partake of it. When I came afterwards into Dr. Johnson's room, he said, 'You did right to stay and receive the communion; I had not thought of it.' This seemed to imply that he did not choose to approach the altar without a previous preparation, as to which good men entertain different opinions, some holding that it is irreverent to partake of that ordinance without considerable premeditation; others, that whoever is a sincere Christian, and in a proper frame of mind to discharge any other ritual duty of our religion, may, without scruple, discharge this most solemn one. A middle notion I believe to be the just one, which is, that communicants need not think a long train of preparatory forms indispensibly necessary; but neither should they rashly and lightly venture upon so aweful and mysterious an institution. Christians must judge each for himself, what degree of retirement and self-examination is necessary upon each occasion.

Being in a frame of mind which, I hope for the felicity of human nature, many experience,—in fine weather,—at the country house of a friend,—consoled and elevated by pious exercises,—I expressed myself with an unrestrained fervour to my 'Guide, Philosopher, and Friend[393];' 'My dear Sir, I would fain be a good man; and I am very good now[394]. I fear GOD, and honour the King, I wish to do no ill, and to be benevolent to all mankind.' He looked at me with a benignant indulgence; but took occasion to give me wise and salutary caution. 'Do not, Sir, accustom yourself to trust to impressions. There is a middle state of mind between conviction and hypocrisy, of which many are conscious[395]. By trusting to impressions, a man may gradually come to yield to them, and at length be subject to them, so as not to be a free agent, or what is the same thing in effect, to suppose that he is not a free agent. A man who is in that state, should not be suffered to live; if he declares he cannot help acting in a particular way, and is irresistibly impelled, there can be no confidence in him, no more than in a tyger. But, Sir, no man believes himself to be impelled irresistibly; we know that he who says he believes it, lies. Favourable impressions at particular moments, as to the state of our souls, may be deceitful and dangerous. In general no man can be sure of his acceptance with God; some, indeed, may have had it revealed to them. St. Paul, who wrought miracles, may have had a miracle wrought on himself, and may have obtained supernatural assurance of pardon, and mercy, and beatitude; yet St. Paul, though he expresses strong hope, also expresses fear, lest having preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away[396].'

The opinion of a learned Bishop of our acquaintance, as to there being merit in religious faith, being mentioned;—JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, the most licentious man, were hell open before him, would not take the most beautiful strumpet to his arms. We must, as the Apostle says, live by faith, not by sight[397].'

I talked to him of original sin[398], in consequence of the fall of man, and of the atonement made by our SAVIOUR. After some conversation, which he desired me to remember, he, at my request, dictated to me as follows:—

'With respect to original sin, the inquiry is not necessary; for whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evidently and confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from crimes.

'Whatever difficulty there may be in the conception of vicarious punishments, it is an opinion which has had possession of mankind in all ages. There is no nation that has not used the practice of sacrifices. Whoever, therefore, denies the propriety of vicarious punishments, holds an opinion which the sentiments and practice of mankind have contradicted, from the beginning of the world. The great sacrifice for the sins of mankind was offered at the death of the MESSIAH, who is called in scripture "The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins[399] of the world." To judge of the reasonableness of the scheme of redemption, it must be considered as necessary to the government of the universe, that GOD should make known his perpetual and irreconcileable detestation of moral evil. He might indeed punish, and punish only the offenders; but as the end of punishment is not revenge of crimes, but propagation of virtue, it was more becoming the Divine clemency to find another manner of proceeding, less destructive to man, and at least equally powerful to promote goodness. The end of punishment is to reclaim and warn. That punishment will both reclaim and warn, which shews evidently such abhorrence of sin in GOD, as may deter us from it, or strike us with dread of vengeance when we have committed it. This is effected by vicarious punishment. Nothing could more testify the opposition between the nature of GOD and moral evil, or more amply display his justice, to men and angels, to all orders and successions of beings, than that it was necessary for the highest and purest nature, even for DIVINITY itself, to pacify the demands of vengeance, by a painful death; of which the natural effect will be, that when justice is appeased, there is a proper place for the exercise of mercy; and that such propitiation shall supply, in some degree, the imperfections of our obedience, and the inefficacy of our repentance: for, obedience and repentance, such as we can perform, are still necessary. Our SAVIOUR has told us, that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill; to fulfill the typical law, by the performance of what those types had foreshewn; and the moral law, by precepts of greater purity and higher exaltation.'

[Here he said, 'GOD bless you with it.' I acknowledged myself much obliged to him; but I begged that he would go on as to the propitiation being the chief object of our most holy faith. He then dictated this one other paragraph.]

'The peculiar doctrine of Christianity is, that of an universal sacrifice, and perpetual propitiation. Other prophets only proclaimed the will and the threatenings of GOD. CHRIST satisfied his justice[400].'

The Reverend Mr. Palmer[401], Fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge, dined with us. He expressed a wish that a better provision were made for parish-clerks. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, a parish-clerk should be a man who is able to make a will, or write a letter for any body in the parish.'

I mentioned Lord Monboddo's notion[402] that the ancient Egyptians, with all their learning, and all their arts, were not only black, but woolly-haired. Mr. Palmer asked how did it appear upon examining the mummies? Dr. Johnson approved of this test[403].

Although upon most occasions[404] I never heard a more strenuous advocate for the advantages of wealth, than Dr. Johnson: he this day, I know not from what caprice, took the other side. 'I have not observed (said he) that men of very large fortunes enjoy any thing extraordinary that makes happiness. What has the Duke of Bedford? What has the Duke of Devonshire? The only great instance that I have ever known of the enjoyment of wealth was, that of Jamaica Dawkins, who, going to visit Palmyra, and hearing that the way was infested by robbers, hired a troop of Turkish horse to guard him[405].'

Dr. Gibbons[406], the Dissenting minister, being mentioned, he said, 'I took to Dr. Gibbons.' And addressing himself to Mr. Charles Dilly, added, 'I shall be glad to see him. Tell him, if he'll call on me, and dawdle[407] over a dish of tea in an afternoon, I shall take it kind.'

The Reverend Mr. Smith, Vicar of Southill, a very respectable man, with a very agreeable family, sent an invitation to us to drink tea. I remarked Dr. Johnson's very respectful[408] politeness. Though always fond of changing the scene, he said, 'We must have Mr. Dilly's leave. We cannot go from your house, Sir, without your permission.' We all went, and were well satisfied with our visit. I however remember nothing particular, except a nice distinction which Dr. Johnson made with respect to the power of memory, maintaining that forgetfulness was a man's own fault[409]. 'To remember and to recollect (said he) are different things. A man has not the power to recollect what is not in his mind; but when a thing is in his mind he may remember it.' The remark was occasioned by my leaning back on a chair, which a little before I had perceived to be broken, and pleading forgetfulness as an excuse. 'Sir, (said he,) its being broken was certainly in your mind[410].'

When I observed that a housebreaker was in general very timorous; JOHNSON. 'No wonder, Sir; he is afraid of being shot getting into a house, or hanged when he has got out of it.'

He told us, that he had in one day written six sheets of a translation from the French[411], adding, 'I should be glad to see it now. I wish that I had copies of all the pamphlets written against me, as it is said Pope had. Had I known that I should make so much noise in the world, I should have been at pains to collect them. I believe there is hardly a day in which there is not something about me in the newspapers.'

On Monday, June 4, we all went to Luton-Hoe, to see Lord Bute's magnificent seat[412], for which I had obtained a ticket. As we entered the park, I talked in a high style of my old friendship with Lord Mountstuart[413], and said, 'I shall probably be much at this place.' The Sage, aware of human vicissitudes, gently checked me: 'Don't you be too sure of that.' He made two or three peculiar observations; as when shewn the botanical garden, 'Is not every garden a botanical garden?' When told that there was a shrubbery to the extent of several miles: 'That is making a very foolish use of the ground; a little of it is very well.' When it was proposed that we should walk on the pleasure-ground; 'Don't let us fatigue ourselves. Why should we walk there? Here's a fine tree, let's get to the top of it.' But upon the whole, he was very much pleased. He said, 'This is one of the places I do not regret having come to see. It is a very stately place, indeed; in the house magnificence is not sacrificed to convenience, nor convenience to magnificence. The library is very splendid: the dignity of the rooms is very great; and the quantity of pictures is beyond expectation, beyond hope.'

It happened without any previous concert, that we visited the seat of Lord Bute upon the King's birthday; we dined and drank his Majesty's health at an inn, in the village of Luton.

In the evening I put him in mind of his promise to favour me with a copy of his celebrated Letter to the Earl of Chesterfield, and he was at last pleased to comply with this earnest request, by dictating it to me from his memory; for he believed that he himself had no copy[414]. There was an animated glow in his countenance while he thus recalled his high-minded indignation.

He laughed heartily at a ludicrous action in the Court of Session, in which I was Counsel. The Society of Procurators, or Attornies, entitled to practise in the inferiour courts at Edinburgh, had obtained a royal charter, in which they had taken care to have their ancient designation of Procurators changed into that of Solicitors, from a notion, as they supposed, that it was more genteel[415]; and this new title they displayed by a publick advertisement for a General Meeting at their HALL.

It has been said, that the Scottish nation is not distinguished for humour; and, indeed, what happened on this occasion may in some degree justify the remark: for although this society had contrived to make themselves a very prominent object for the ridicule of such as might stoop to it, the only joke to which it gave rise, was the following paragraph, sent to the newspaper called The Caledonian Mercury:—

'A correspondent informs us, that the Worshipful Society of Chaldeans, Cadies[416], or Running Stationers of this city are resolved, in imitation, and encouraged by the singular success of their brethren, of an equally respectable Society, to apply for a Charter of their Privileges, particularly of the sole privilege of PROCURING, in the most extensive sense of the word[417], exclusive of chairmen, porters, penny-post men, and other inferiour ranks; their brethren the R—Y—L S—LL—RS, alias P—C—RS, before the INFERIOUR Courts of this City, always excepted.

'Should the Worshipful Society be successful, they are farther resolved not to be puffed up thereby, but to demean themselves with more equanimity and decency than their R—y—l, learned, and very modest brethren above mentioned have done, upon their late dignification and exaltation.'

A majority of the members of the Society prosecuted Mr. Robertson, the publisher of the paper, for damages; and the first judgement of the whole Court very wisely dismissed the action: Solventur risu tabulae, tu missus abibis[418]. But a new trial or review was granted upon a petition, according to the forms in Scotland. This petition I was engaged to answer, and Dr. Johnson with great alacrity furnished me this evening with what follows:—

'All injury is either of the person, the fortune, or the fame. Now it is a certain thing, it is proverbially known, that a jest breaks no bones. They never have gained half-a-crown less in the whole profession since this mischievous paragraph has appeared; and, as to their reputation, What is their reputation but an instrument of getting money? If, therefore, they have lost no money, the question upon reputation may be answered by a very old position,—De minimis non curat Praetor.

'Whether there was, or was not, an animus injuriandi, is not worth inquiring, if no injuria can be proved. But the truth is, there was no animus injuriandi. It was only an animus irritandi[419], which, happening to be exercised upon a genus irritabile, produced unexpected violence of resentment. Their irritability arose only from an opinion of their own importance, and their delight in their new exaltation. What might have been borne by a Procurator could not be borne by a Solicitor. Your Lordships well know, that honores mutant mores. Titles and dignities play strongly on the fancy. As a madman is apt to think himself grown suddenly great, so he that grows suddenly great is apt to borrow a little from the madman. To co-operate with their resentment would be to promote their phrenzy; nor is it possible to guess to what they might proceed, if to the new title of Solicitor, should be added the elation of victory and triumph.

'We consider your Lordships as the protectors of our rights, and the guardians of our virtues; but believe it not included in your high office, that you should flatter our vices, or solace our vanity: and, as vanity only dictates this prosecution, it is humbly hoped your Lordships will dismiss it.

'If every attempt, however light or ludicrous, to lessen another's reputation, is to be punished by a judicial sentence, what punishment can be sufficiently severe for him who attempts to diminish the reputation of the Supreme Court of Justice, by reclaiming upon a cause already determined, without any change in the state of the question? Does it not imply hopes that the Judges will change their opinion? Is not uncertainty and inconstancy in the highest degree disreputable to a Court? Does it not suppose, that the former judgement was temerarious or negligent? Does it not lessen the confidence of the publick? Will it not be said, that jus est aut incognitum aut vagum? and will not the consequence be drawn, misera est servitus[420]? Will not the rules of action be obscure? Will not he who knows himself wrong to-day, hope that the Courts of Justice will think him right to-morrow? Surely, my Lords, these are attempts of dangerous tendency, which the Solicitors, as men versed in the law, should have foreseen and avoided. It was natural for an ignorant printer to appeal from the Lord Ordinary; but from lawyers, the descendants of lawyers, who have practised for three hundred years, and have now raised themselves to a higher denomination, it might be expected, that they should know the reverence due to a judicial determination; and, having been once dismissed, should sit down in silence.'

I am ashamed to mention, that the Court, by a plurality of voices, without having a single additional circumstance before them, reversed their own judgement, made a serious matter of this dull and foolish joke, and adjudged Mr. Robertson to pay to the Society five pounds (sterling money) and costs of suit. The decision will seem strange to English lawyers.

On Tuesday, June 5, Johnson was to return to London. He was very pleasant at breakfast; I mentioned a friend of mine having resolved never to marry a pretty woman. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is a very foolish resolution to resolve not to marry a pretty woman. Beauty is of itself very estimable. No, Sir, I would prefer a pretty woman, unless there are objections to her. A pretty woman may be foolish; a pretty woman may be wicked; a pretty woman may not like me. But there is no such danger in marrying a pretty woman as is apprehended: she will not be persecuted if she does not invite persecution. A pretty woman, if she has a mind to be wicked, can find a readier way than another; and that is all.'

I accompanied him in Mr. Dilly's chaise to Shefford, where talking of Lord Bute's never going to Scotland, he said, 'As an Englishman, I should wish all the Scotch gentlemen should be educated in England; Scotland would become a province; they would spend all their rents in England.' This is a subject of much consequence, and much delicacy. The advantage of an English education is unquestionably very great to Scotch gentlemen of talents and ambition; and regular visits to Scotland, and perhaps other means, might be effectually used to prevent them from being totally estranged from their native country, any more than a Cumberland or Northumberland gentleman who has been educated in the South of England. I own, indeed, that it is no small misfortune for Scotch gentlemen, who have neither talents nor ambition, to be educated in England, where they may be perhaps distinguished only by a nick-name, lavish their fortune in giving expensive entertainments to those who laugh at them, and saunter about as mere idle insignificant hangers on even upon the foolish great; when if they had been judiciously brought up at home, they might have been comfortable and creditable members of society.

At Shefford I had another affectionate parting from my revered friend, who was taken up by the Bedford coach and carried to the metropolis. I went with Messieurs Dilly, to see some friends at Bedford; dined with the officers of the militia of the county, and next day proceeded on my journey.



'How welcome your account of yourself and your invitation to your new house was to me, I need not tell you, who consider our friendship not only as formed by choice, but as matured by time. We have been now long enough acquainted to have many images in common, and therefore to have a source of conversation which neither the learning nor the wit of a new companion can supply.

'My Lives are now published; and if you will tell me whither I shall send them, that they may come to you, I will take care that you shall not be without them.

'You will, perhaps, be glad to hear, that Mrs. Thrale is disencumbered of her brewhouse; and that it seemed to the purchaser so far from an evil, that he was content to give for it an hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds. Is the nation ruined?

'Please to make my respectful compliments to Lady Rothes, and keep me in the memory of all the little dear family, particularly pretty Mrs. Jane.[421]

'I am, Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant, 'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Bolt-Court, June 16, 1781.'

Johnson's charity to the poor was uniform and extensive, both from inclination and principle. He not only bestowed liberally out of his own purse, but what is more difficult as well as rare, would beg from others, when he had proper objects in view. This he did judiciously as well as humanely. Mr. Philip Metcalfe[422] tells me, that when he has asked him for some money for persons in distress, and Mr. Metcalfe has offered what Johnson thought too much, he insisted on taking less, saying 'No, no, Sir; we must not pamper them.'

I am indebted to Mr. Malone, one of Sir Joshua Reynolds's executors, for the following note, which was found among his papers after his death, and which, we may presume, his unaffected modesty prevented him from communicating to me with the other letters from Dr. Johnson with which he was pleased to furnish me. However slight in itself, as it does honour to that illustrious painter, and most amiable man, I am happy to introduce it.


'It was not before yesterday that I received your splendid benefaction. To a hand so liberal in distributing, I hope nobody will envy the power of acquiring.

'I am, dear Sir,

Your obliged and most humble servant, SAM, JOHNSON. June 23, 1781.'

'To THOMAS ASTLE, Esq.[423]


'I am ashamed that you have been forced to call so often for your books, but it has been by no fault on either side. They have never been out of my hands, nor have I ever been at home without seeing you; for to see a man so skilful in the antiquities of my country, is an opportunity of improvement not willingly to be missed.

'Your notes on Alfred[424] appear to me very judicious and accurate, but they are too few. Many things familiar to you, are unknown to me, and to most others; and you must not think too favourably of your readers: by supposing them knowing, you will leave them ignorant. Measure of land, and value of money, it is of great importance to state with care. Had the Saxons any gold coin?

'I have much curiosity after the manners and transactions of the middle ages, but have wanted either diligence or opportunity, or both. You, Sir, have great opportunities, and I wish you both diligence and success.

'I am, Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON. July 17, 1781.'

The following curious anecdote I insert in Dr. Burney's own words:—

'Dr. Burney related to Dr. Johnson the partiality which his writings had excited in a friend of Dr. Burney's, the late Mr. Bewley, well known in Norfolk by the name of the Philosopher of Massingham[425]: who, from the Ramblers and Plan of his Dictionary, and long before the authour's fame was established by the Dictionary itself, or any other work, had conceived such a reverence for him, that he urgently begged Dr. Burney to give him the cover of the first letter he had received from him, as a relick of so estimable a writer. This was in 1755. In 1760[426], when Dr. Burney visited Dr. Johnson at the Temple in London, where he had then Chambers, he happened to arrive there before he was up; and being shewn into the room where he was to breakfast, finding himself alone, he examined the contents of the apartment, to try whether he could undiscovered steal any thing to send to his friend Bewley, as another relick of the admirable Dr. Johnson. But finding nothing better to his purpose, he cut some bristles off his hearth-broom, and enclosed them in a letter to his country enthusiast, who received them with due reverence. The Doctor was so sensible of the honour done him by a man of genius and science, to whom he was an utter stranger, that he said to Dr. Burney, "Sir, there is no man possessed of the smallest portion of modesty, but must be flattered with the admiration of such a man. I'll give him a set of my Lives, if he will do me the honour to accept of them[427]." In this he kept his word; and Dr. Burney had not only the pleasure of gratifying his friend with a present more worthy of his acceptance than the segment from the hearth-broom, but soon after of introducing him to Dr. Johnson himself in Bolt-court, with whom he had the satisfaction of conversing a considerable time, not a fortnight before his death; which happened in St. Martin's-street, during his visit to Dr. Burney, in the house where the great Sir Isaac Newton had lived and died before.'

In one of his little memorandum-books is the following minute:—

'August 9, 3 P.M., aetat. 72, in the summer-house at Streatham. After innumerable resolutions formed and neglected, I have retired hither, to plan a life of greater diligence, in hope that I may yet be useful, and be daily better prepared to appear before my Creator and my Judge, from whose infinite mercy I humbly call for assistance and support.

'My purpose is,

'To pass eight hours every day in some serious employment.

'Having prayed, I purpose to employ the next six weeks upon the Italian language, for my settled study.'

How venerably pious does he appear in these moments of solitude, and how spirited are his resolutions for the improvement of his mind, even in elegant literature, at a very advanced period of life, and when afflicted with many complaints[428].

In autumn he went to Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, and Ashbourne, for which very good reasons might be given in the conjectural yet positive manner of writers, who are proud to account for every event which they relate[429]. He himself, however, says,

'The motives of my journey I hardly know; I omitted it last year, and am not willing to miss it again[430].'

But some good considerations arise, amongst which is the kindly recollection of Mr. Hector, surgeon at Birmingham:

'Hector is likewise an old friend, the only companion of my childhood that passed through the school with me. We have always loved one another; perhaps we may be made better by some serious conversation, of which however I have no distinct hope.'

He says too,

'At Lichfield, my native place, I hope to shew a good example by frequent attendance on publick worship.'

My correspondence with him during the rest of this year was I know not why very scanty, and all on my side. I wrote him one letter to introduce Mr. Sinclair (now Sir John), the member for Caithness, to his acquaintance; and informed him in another that my wife had again been affected with alarming symptoms of illness.

1782: AETAT. 73.—In 1782, his complaints increased, and the history of his life this year, is little more than a mournful recital of the variations of his illness, in the midst of which, however, it will appear from his letters, that the powers of his mind were in no degree impaired.


'I sit down to answer your letter on the same day in which I received it, and am pleased that my first letter of the year is to you. No man ought to be at ease while he knows himself in the wrong; and I have not satisfied myself with my long silence. The letter relating to Mr. Sinclair, however, was, I believe, never brought.

'My health has been tottering this last year; and I can give no very laudable account of my time. I am always hoping to do better than I have ever hitherto done.

'My journey to Ashbourne and Staffordshire was not pleasant; for what enjoyment has a sick man visiting the sick[431]?—Shall we ever have another frolick like our journey to the Hebrides?

'I hope that dear Mrs. Boswell will surmount her complaints; in losing her you would lose your anchor, and be tost, without stability, by the waves of life[432]. I wish both her and you very many years, and very happy.

'For some months past I have been so withdrawn from the world, that I can send you nothing particular. All your friends, however, are well, and will be glad of your return to London.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours most affectionately,


'January 5, 1782.'

At a time when he was less able than he had once been to sustain a shock, he was suddenly deprived of Mr. Levett, which event he thus communicated to Dr. Lawrence:—


'Our old friend, Mr. Levett, who was last night eminently cheerful, died this morning. The man who lay in the same room, hearing an uncommon noise, got up and tried to make him speak, but without effect. He then called Mr. Holder, the apothecary, who, though when he came he thought him dead, opened a vein, but could draw no blood. So has ended the long life of a very useful and very blameless man.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Jan. 17, 1782.'

In one of his memorandum-books in my possession, is the following entry:—

'January 20, Sunday. Robert Levett was buried in the church-yard of Bridewell, between one and two in the afternoon. He died on Thursday 17, about seven in the morning, by an instantaneous death. He was an old and faithful friend; I have known him from about 46. Commendavi. May GOD have mercy on him. May he have mercy on me.'

Such was Johnson's affectionate regard for Levett[433], that he honoured his memory with the following pathetick verses:—

     'Condemd'd to Hope's delusive mine,
        As on we toil from day to day,
      By sudden blast or slow decline
        Our social comforts drop away.
      Well try'd through many a varying year,
        See LEVETT to the grave descend;
      Officious, innocent, sincere,
        Of every friendless name the friend434.
      Yet still he fills affection's eye,
        Obscurely wise435, and coarsely kind;
      Nor, letter'd arrogance436, deny
        Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.
      When fainting Nature call'd for aid,
        And hov'ring Death prepar'd the blow,
      His vigorous remedy display'd
        The power of art without the show.
      In Misery's darkest caverns known,
        His ready help was ever nigh,
      Where hopeless Anguish pour'd his groan,
        And lonely want retir'd to die437.
      No summons mock'd by chill delay,
        No petty gains disdain'd by pride;
      The modest wants of every day
        The toil of every day supply'd.
      His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
        Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
      And sure the Eternal Master found
        His single talent well employ'd.
      The busy day, the peaceful night438,
        Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
      His frame was firm, his powers were bright,
        Though now his eightieth year was nigh439.
      Then, with no throbs of fiery pain,
        No cold gradations of decay,
      Death broke at once the vital chain,
        And freed his soul the nearest way.'

In one of Johnson's registers of this year, there occurs the following curious passage:—

'Jan. 20[440]. The Ministry is dissolved. I prayed with Francis and gave thanks[441].'

It has been the subject of discussion, whether there are two distinct particulars mentioned here? or that we are to understand the giving of thanks to be in consequence of the dissolution of the Ministry? In support of the last of these conjectures may be urged his mean opinion of that Ministry, which has frequently appeared in the course of this work[442]; and it is strongly confirmed by what he said on the subject to Mr. Seward:—'I am glad the Ministry is removed. Such a bunch of imbecility never disgraced a country[443]. If they sent a messenger into the City to take up a printer, the messenger was taken up instead of the printer, and committed by the sitting Alderman[444]. If they sent one army to the relief of another, the first army was defeated and taken before the second arrived[445]. I will not say that what they did was always wrong; but it was always done at a wrong time[446].'


'Mrs. Williams shewed me your kind letter. This little habitation is now but a melancholy place, clouded with the gloom of disease and death. Of the four inmates, one has been suddenly snatched away; two are oppressed by very afflictive and dangerous illness; and I tried yesterday to gain some relief by a third bleeding, from a disorder which has for some time distressed me, and I think myself to-day much better.

'I am glad, dear Madam, to hear that you are so far recovered as to go to Bath. Let me once more entreat you to stay till your health is not only obtained, but confirmed. Your fortune is such as that no moderate expence deserves your care; and you have a husband, who, I believe, does not regard it. Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my part, very much deserted; but complaint is useless. I hope GOD will bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish for me.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 4, 1782.'



'I have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with you and Dr. Farmer. I hope hereafter to see you often.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 27, 1782.'



'I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton[447] more unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'March 7, 1782.'

These short letters shew the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every respect have been fully gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably succeeded him as an Editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done great and just honour to Johnson's memory.


'I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my breath; for some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I could not get the violence abated, till I had been let blood three times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written, and am sorry that I neglected it.

'My dwelling is but melancholy; both Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself, are very sickly: Frank is not well; and poor Levett died in his bed the other day, by a sudden stroke; I suppose not one minute passed between health and death; so uncertain are human things.

'Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. Let us, therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can; though the loss of friends will be felt, and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for thirty years.

'Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing; I hope to mend that and my other faults. Let me have your prayers.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and the whole company of my friends.

I am, my dear,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, March 2, 1782.'


'My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much more cheerful; I am, however, willing to write, because you are desirous to hear from me.

'My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet over. I was last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself much relieved, but I am very tender and easily hurt; so that since we parted I have had but little comfort, but I hope that the spring will recover me; and that in the summer I shall see Lichfield again, for I will not delay my visit another year to the end of autumn.

'I have, by advertising, found poor Mr. Levett's brothers in Yorkshire, who will take the little he has left: it is but little, yet it will be welcome, for I believe they are of very low condition.

'To be sick, and to see nothing but sickness and death, is but a gloomy state; but I hope better times, even in this world, will come, and whatever this world may withhold or give, we shall be happy in a better state. Pray for me, my dear Lucy.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and my old friend Hetty Baily, and to all the Lichfield ladies.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Yours, affectionately,


'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,

March 19, 1782.'

On the day on which this letter was written, he thus feelingly mentions his respected friend and physician, Dr. Lawrence:—

'Poor Lawrence has almost lost the sense of hearing; and I have lost the conversation of a learned, intelligent, and communicative companion, and a friend whom long familiarity has much endeared. Lawrence is one of the best men whom I have known.—Nostrum omnium miserere Deus[448].'

It was Dr. Johnson's custom when he wrote to Dr. Lawrence concerning his own health, to use the Latin language[449]. I have been favoured by Miss Lawrence with one of these letters as a specimen:—

'T. LAWRENCIO, Medico, S.

'NOVUM frigus, nova tussis, nova spirandi difficultas, novam sanguinis missionem suadent, quam tamen te inconsulto nolim fieri. Ad te venire vix possum, nec est cur ad me venias. Licere vel non licere uno verbo dicendum est; catera mihi et Holdero[450] reliqueris. Si per te licet, imperatur[451] nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.

'Maiis Calendis, 1782.

'Postquàm tu discesseris, quò me vertam[452]?'


'It is now long since we saw one another; and whatever has been the reason neither you have written to me, nor I to you. To let friendship die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which when it is, as it must be, taken finally away, he that travels on alone, will wonder how his esteem could be so little. Do not forget me; you see that I do not forget you. It is pleasing in the silence of solitude to think, that there is one at least, however distant, of whose benevolence there is little doubt, and whom there is yet hope of seeing again[454].

'Of my life, from the time we parted, the history is mournful. The spring of last year deprived me of Thrale, a man whose eye for fifteen years had scarcely been turned upon me but with respect or tenderness[455]; for such another friend, the general course of human things will not suffer man to hope. I passed the summer at Streatham, but there was no Thrale; and having idled away the summer with a weakly body and neglected mind, I made a journey to Staffordshire on the edge of winter. The season was dreary, I was sickly, and found the friends sickly whom I went to see. After a sorrowful sojourn, I returned to a habitation possessed for the present by two sick women, where my dear old friend, Mr. Levett, to whom as he used to tell me, I owe your acquaintance[456], died a few weeks ago, suddenly in his bed; there passed not, I believe, a minute between health and death. At night, as at Mrs. Thrale's I was musing in my chamber, I thought with uncommon earnestness, that however I might alter my mode of life, or whithersoever I might remove[457], I would endeavour to retain Levett about me; in the morning my servant brought me word that Levett was called to another state, a state for which, I think, he was not unprepared, for he was very useful to the poor. How much soever I valued him, I now wish that I had valued him more[458].

'I have myself been ill more than eight weeks of a disorder, from which at the expence of about fifty ounces of blood, I hope I am now recovering.

'You, dear Sir, have, I hope, a more cheerful scene; you see George fond of his book, and the pretty misses airy and lively, with my own little Jenny[459] equal to the best[460]: and in whatever can contribute to your quiet or pleasure, you have Lady Rothes ready to concur. May whatever you enjoy of good be encreased, and whatever you suffer of evil be diminished.

     I am, dear Sir,
          Your humble servant,
              'SAM. JOHNSON.'
'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,
  March 20, 1782.'

'I hope I do not very grossly flatter myself to imagine that you and dear Mrs. Careless[462] will be glad to hear some account of me. I performed the journey to London with very little inconvenience, and came safe to my habitation, where I found nothing but ill health, and, of consequence, very little cheerfulness. I then went to visit a little way into the country, where I got a complaint by a cold which has hung eight weeks upon me, and from which I am, at the expence of fifty ounces of blood, not yet free. I am afraid I must once more owe my recovery to warm weather, which seems to make no advances towards us.

'Such is my health, which will, I hope, soon grow better. In other respects I have no reason to complain. I know not that I have written any thing more generally commended than the Lives of the Poets; and have found the world willing enough to caress me, if my health had invited me to be in much company; but this season I have been almost wholly employed in nursing myself.

'When summer comes I hope to see you again, and will not put off my visit to the end of the year. I have lived so long in London, that I did not remember the difference of seasons.

'Your health, when I saw you, was much improved. You will be prudent enough not to put it in danger. I hope, when we meet again, we shall all congratulate each other upon fair prospects of longer life; though what are the pleasures of the longest life, when placed in comparison with a happy death?

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours most affectionately,


'London, March 21, 1782.'


[Without a date, but supposed to be about this time.][463]


'That you and dear Mrs. Careless should have care or curiosity about my health, gives me that pleasure which every man feels from finding himself not forgotten. In age we feel again that love of our native place and our early friends, which in the bustle or amusements of middle life were overborne and suspended. You and I should now naturally cling to one another: we have outlived most of those who could pretend to rival us in each other's kindness. In our walk through life we have dropped our companions, and are now to pick up such as chance may offer us, or to travel on alone[464]. You, indeed, have a sister, with whom you can divide the day: I have no natural friend left; but Providence has been pleased to preserve me from neglect; I have not wanted such alleviations of life as friendship could supply. My health has been, from my twentieth year, such as has seldom afforded me a single day of ease[465]; but it is at least not worse: and I sometimes make myself believe that it is better. My disorders are, however, still sufficiently oppressive.

'I think of seeing Staffordshire again this autumn, and intend to find my way through Birmingham, where I hope to see you and dear Mrs. Careless well. I am Sir,

'Your affectionate friend,


I wrote to him at different dates; regretted that I could not come to London this spring, but hoped we should meet somewhere in the summer; mentioned the state of my affairs, and suggested hopes of some preferment; informed him, that as The Beauties of Johnson had been published in London, some obscure scribbler had published at Edinburgh what he called The deformities of Johnson.



'The pleasure which we used to receive from each other on Good-Friday and Easter-day[466], we must be this year content to miss. Let us, however, pray for each other, and hope to see one another yet from time to time with mutual delight. My disorder has been a cold, which impeded the organs of respiration, and kept me many weeks in a state of great uneasiness; but by repeated phlebotomy it is now relieved; and next to the recovery of Mrs. Boswell, I flatter myself, that you will rejoice at mine.

'What we shall do in the summer it is yet too early to consider. You want to know what you shall do now; I do not think this time of bustle and confusion[467] likely to produce any advantage to you. Every man has those to reward and gratify who have contributed to his advancement. To come hither with such expectations at the expence of borrowed money, which, I find, you know not where to borrow, can hardly be considered as prudent. I am sorry to find, what your solicitation seems to imply, that you have already gone the whole length of your credit. This is to set the quiet of your whole life at hazard. If you anticipate your inheritance, you can at last inherit nothing; all that you receive must pay for the past. You must get a place, or pine in penury, with the empty name of a great estate. Poverty, my dear friend, is so great an evil, and pregnant with so much temptation, and so much misery, that I cannot but earnestly enjoin you to avoid it[468]. Live on what you have; live if you can on less; do not borrow either for vanity or pleasure; the vanity will end in shame, and the pleasure in regret: stay therefore at home, till you have saved money for your journey hither.

The Beauties of Johnson are said to have got money to the collector; if the Deformities have the same success, I shall be still a more extensive benefactor.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who is, I hope, reconciled to me; and to the young people whom I never have offended.

'You never told me the success of your plea against the Solicitors[469].

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,


'London, March 28, 1782.'

Notwithstanding his afflicted state of body[470] and mind this year, the following correspondence affords a proof not only of his benevolence and conscientious readiness to relieve a good man from errour, but by his cloathing one of the sentiments in his Rambler in different language, not inferiour to that of the original, shews his extraordinary command of clear and forcible expression.

A clergyman at Bath wrote to him, that in The Morning Chronicle, a passage in The Beauties of Johnson[471], article DEATH, had been pointed out as supposed by some readers to recommend suicide, the words being, 'To die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish is generally his folly;' and respectfully suggesting to him, that such an erroneous notion of any sentence in the writings of an acknowledged friend of religion and virtue, should not pass uncontradicted.

Johnson thus answered the clergyman's letter:—


'Being now[472] in the country in a state of recovery, as I hope, from a very oppressive disorder, I cannot neglect the acknowledgement of your Christian letter. The book called The Beauties of Johnson is the production of I know not whom: I never saw it but by casual inspection, and considered myself as utterly disengaged from its consequences. Of the passage you mention, I remember some notice in some paper; but knowing that it must be misrepresented, I thought of it no more, nor do I know where to find it in my own books. I am accustomed to think little of newspapers; but an opinion so weighty and serious as yours has determined me to do, what I should, without your seasonable admonition, have omitted; and I will direct my thought to be shewn in its true state[473]. If I could find the passage, I would direct you to it. I suppose the tenour is this:—'Acute diseases are the immediate and inevitable strokes of Heaven; but of them the pain is short, and the conclusion speedy; chronical disorders, by which we are suspended in tedious torture between life and death, are commonly the effect of our own misconduct and intemperance. To die, &c.'—This, Sir, you see is all true and all blameless. I hope, some time in the next week, to have all rectified. My health has been lately much shaken: if you favour me with any answer, it will be a comfort to me to know that I have your prayers.

'I am, &c.,


'May 15, 1782.'

This letter, as might be expected, had its full effect, and the clergyman acknowledged it in grateful and pious terms[474].

The following letters require no extracts from mine to introduce them:—


'The earnestness and tenderness of your letter is such, that I cannot think myself shewing it more respect than it claims by sitting down to answer it the day on which I received it.

'This year has afflicted me with a very irksome and severe disorder. My respiration has been much impeded, and much blood has been taken away. I am now harrassed by a catarrhous cough, from which my purpose is to seek relief by change of air; and I am, therefore, preparing to go to Oxford[475].

'Whether I did right in dissuading you from coming to London this spring, I will not determine. You have not lost much by missing my company; I have scarcely been well for a single week. I might have received comfort from your kindness; but you would have seen me afflicted, and, perhaps, found me peevish. Whatever might have been your pleasure or mine, I know not how I could have honestly advised you to come hither with borrowed money. Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided. Consider a man whose fortune is very narrow; whatever be his rank by birth, or whatever his reputation by intellectual excellence, what good can he do? or what evil can he prevent? That he cannot help the needy is evident; he has nothing to spare. But, perhaps, his advice or admonition may be useful. His poverty will destroy his influence: many more can find that he is poor, than that he is wise; and few will reverence the understanding that is of so little advantage to its owner. I say nothing of the personal wretched-ness of a debtor, which, however, has passed into a proverb[476]. Of riches, it is not necessary to write the praise[477]. Let it, however, be remembered, that he who has money to spare, has it always in his power to benefit others; and of such power a good man must always be desirous.

'I am pleased with your account of Easter[478]. We shall meet, I hope in Autumn, both well and both cheerful; and part each the better for the other's company.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to the young charmers.

'I am, &c.

'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'London, June 3, 1782.'

'To MR. PERKINS[479].


I am much pleased that you are going a very long journey, which may by proper conduct restore your health and prolong your life.

'Observe these rules:

1. Turn all care out of your head as soon as you mount the chaise.

2. Do not think about frugality; your health is worth more than it can cost.

3. Do not continue any day's journey to fatigue.

4. Take now and then a day's rest.

5. Get a smart sea-sickness, if you can.

6. Cast away all anxiety, and keep your mind easy.

'This last direction is the principal; with an unquiet mind, neither exercise, nor diet, nor physick, can be of much use.

'I wish you, dear Sir, a prosperous journey, and a happy recovery.

I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, humble servant,


'July 28, 1782.'



'Being uncertain whether I should have any call this autumn into the country, I did not immediately answer your kind letter. I have no call; but if you desire to meet me at Ashbourne, I believe I can come thither; if you had rather come to London, I can stay at Streatham; take your choice.

'This year has been very heavy. From the middle of January to the middle of June I was battered by one disorder after another! I am now very much recovered, and hope still to be better. What happiness it is that Mrs. Boswell has escaped.

'My Lives are reprinting, and I have forgotten the authour of Gray's character[480]: write immediately, and it may be perhaps yet inserted.

'Of London or Ashbourne you have your free choice; at any place I shall be glad to see you. I am, dear Sir,

'Yours &c.


'Aug. 24, 1782.'

On the 3Oth of August, I informed him that my honoured father had died that morning; a complaint under which he had long laboured having suddenly come to a crisis, while I was upon a visit at the seat of Sir Charles Preston, from whence I had hastened the day before, upon receiving a letter by express.


'I have struggled through this year with so much infirmity of body, and such strong impressions of the fragility of life, that death, whenever it appears, fills me with melancholy; and I cannot hear without emotion, of the removal of any one, whom I have known, into another state.

'Your father's death had every circumstance that could enable you to bear it; it was at a mature age, and it was expected; and as his general life had been pious, his thoughts had doubtless for many years past been turned upon eternity. That you did not find him sensible must doubtless grieve you; his disposition towards you was undoubtedly that of a kind, though not of a fond father. Kindness, at least actual, is in our power, but fondness is not; and if by negligence or imprudence you had extinguished his fondness, he could not at will rekindle it. Nothing then remained between you but mutual forgiveness of each other's faults, and mutual desire of each other's happiness.

'I shall long to know his final disposition of his fortune[481].

'You, dear Sir, have now a new station, and have therefore new cares, and new employments. Life, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a well-ordered poem[482]; of which one rule generally received is, that the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new course of life with the least show, and the least expence possible; you may at pleasure encrease both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do not think your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay; therefore, begin with timorous parsimony. Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.

'When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct, and maxims of prudence, which one generation of men has transmitted to another; but upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced, and how much good is impeded by embarrassment and distress, and how little room the expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue, it grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces some attention to the interests of this.

'Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and factors; do not disgust them by asperity, or unwelcome gaiety, or apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of your lands[483].

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell; I think her expectations from air and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long and happily.

'I forget whether I told you that Rasay[484] has been here; we dined cheerfully together. I entertained lately a young gentleman from Corrichatachin[485].

'I received your letters only this morning. I am, dear Sir,

'Yours &c.


'London, Sept. 7, 1782.'

In answer to my next letter, I received one from him, dissuading me from hastening to him as I had proposed[486]; what is proper for publication is the following paragraph, equally just and tender:—

'One expence, however, I would not have you to spare: let nothing be omitted that can preserve Mrs. Boswell, though it should be necessary to transplant her for a time into a softer climate. She is the prop and stay of your life. How much must your children suffer by losing her.'

My wife was now so much convinced of his sincere friendship for me, and regard for her, that, without any suggestion on my part, she wrote him a very polite and grateful letter:—


'I have not often received so much pleasure as from your invitation to Auchinleck. The journey thither and back is, indeed, too great for the latter part of the year; but if my health were fully recovered, I would suffer no little heat and cold, nor a wet or a rough road to keep me from you. I am, indeed, not without hope of seeing Auchinleck again; but to make it a pleasant place I must see its lady well, and brisk, and airy. For my sake, therefore, among many greater reasons, take care, dear Madam, of your health, spare no expence, and want no attendance that can procure ease, or preserve it. Be very careful to keep your mind quiet; and do not think it too much to give an account of your recovery to, Madam,

'Yours, &c.


'London, Sept. 7, 1782.'



'Having passed almost this whole year in a succession of disorders, I went in October to Brighthelmston, whither I came in a state of so much weakness, that I rested four times in walking between the inn and the lodging. By physick and abstinence I grew better, and am now reasonably easy, though at a great distance from health[487]. I am afraid, however, that health begins, after seventy, and long before, to have a meaning different from that which it had at thirty. But it is culpable to murmur at the established order of the creation, as it is vain to oppose it. He that lives must grow old; and he that would rather grow old than die, has GOD to thank for the infirmities of old age[488].

'At your long silence I am rather angry. You do not, since now you are the head of your house, think it worth your while to try whether you or your friend can live longer without writing[489], nor suspect that after so many years of friendship, that when I do not write to you, I forget you. Put all such useless jealousies out of your head, and disdain to regulate your own practice by the practice of another, or by any other principle than the desire of doing right.

'Your oeconomy, I suppose, begins now to be settled; your expences are adjusted to your revenue, and all your people in their proper places. Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.

'Let me know the history of your life, since your accession to your estate. How many houses, how many cows, how much land in your own hand, and what bargains you make with your tenants.

'Of my Lives of the Poets, they have printed a new edition in octavo, I hear, of three thousand. Did I give a set to Lord Hailes? If I did not, I will do it out of these. What did you make of all your copy[490]?

'Mrs. Thrale and the three Misses[491] are now for the winter in Argyll-street. Sir Joshua Reynolds has been out of order, but is well again; and I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,


'London, Dec. 7, 1782.'


'Edinburgh, Dec. 20, 1782.


'I was made happy by your kind letter, which gave us the agreeable hopes of seeing you in Scotland again.

'I am much flattered by the concern you are pleased to take in my recovery. I am better, and hope to have it in my power to convince you by my attention of how much consequence I esteem your health to the world and to myself. I remain, Sir, with grateful respect,

'Your obliged and obedient servant,


The death of Mr. Thrale had made a very material alteration with respect to Johnson's reception in that family. The manly authority of the husband no longer curbed the lively exuberance of the lady; and as her vanity had been fully gratified, by having the Colossus of Literature attached to her for many years, she gradually became less assiduous to please him. Whether her attachment to him was already divided by another object, I am unable to ascertain; but it is plain that Johnson's penetration was alive to her neglect or forced attention; for on the eth of October this year, we find him making a 'parting use of the library[492]' at Streatham, and pronouncing a prayer, which he composed on leaving Mr. Thrale's family[493]:—

'Almighty God, Father of all mercy, help me by thy grace, that I may, with humble and sincere thankfulness, remember the comforts and conveniences which I have enjoyed at this place; and that I may resign them with holy submission, equally trusting in thy protection when thou givest, and when thou takest away. Have mercy upon me, Lord, have mercy upon me.

'To thy fatherly protection, O Lord, I commend this family. Bless, guide, and defend them, that they may so pass through this world, as finally to enjoy in thy presence everlasting happiness, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen[494].'

One cannot read this prayer, without some emotions not very favourable to the lady whose conduct occasioned it[495].

In one of his memorandum-books I find, 'Sunday, went to church at Streatham. Templo valedixi cum osculo[496].'

He met Mr. Philip Metcalfe[497] often at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, and other places, and was a good deal with him at Brighthelmston[498] this autumn, being pleased at once with his excellent table and animated conversation. Mr. Metcalfe shewed him great respect, and sent him a note that he might have the use of his carriage whenever he pleased. Johnson (3d October, 1782) returned this polite answer:—'Mr. Johnson is very much obliged by the kind offer of the carriage, but he has no desire of using Mr. Metcalfe's carriage, except when he can have the pleasure of Mr. Metcalfe's company.' Mr. Metcalfe could not but be highly pleased that his company was thus valued by Johnson, and he frequently attended him in airings. They also went together to Chichester[499], and they visited Petworth, and Cowdry, the venerable seat of the Lords Montacute. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) I should like to stay here four-and-twenty hours. We see here how our ancestors lived.'

That his curiosity was still unabated, appears from two letters to Mr. John Nichols, of the 10th and 20th[500] of October this year. In one he says, 'I have looked into your Anecdotes, and you will hardly thank a lover of literary history for telling you, that he has been much informed and gratified. I wish you would add your own discoveries and intelligence to those of Dr. Rawlinson, and undertake the Supplement to Wood[501]'. Think of it.' In the other, 'I wish, Sir, you could obtain some fuller information of Jortin[502], Markland[503], and Thirlby[504]. They were three contemporaries of great eminence.'


'I heard yesterday of your late disorder[505], and should think ill of myself if I had heard of it without alarm. I heard likewise Of your recovery, which I sincerely wish to be complete and permanent. Your country has been in danger of losing one of its brightest ornaments, and I of losing one of my oldest and kindest friends: but I hope you will still live long, for the honour of the nation: and that more enjoyment of your elegance, your intelligence, and your benevolence, is still reserved for, dear Sir, your most affectionate, &c.



Nov. 14, 1782.'

The Reverend Mr. Wilson having dedicated to him his Archaeological Dictionary[506], that mark of respect was thus acknowledged:—


'That I have long omitted to return you thanks for the honour conferred upon me by your Dedication, I entreat you with great earnestness not to consider as more faulty than it is. A very importunate and oppressive disorder has for some time debarred me from the pleasures, and obstructed me in the duties of life. The esteem and kindness of wise and good men is one of the last pleasures which I can be content to lose; and gratitude to those from whom this pleasure is received, is a duty of which I hope never to be reproached with the final neglect. I therefore now return you thanks for the notice which I have received from you, and which I consider as giving to my name not only more bulk, but more weight; not only as extending its superficies, but as increasing its value. Your book was evidently wanted, and will, I hope, find its way into the school, to which, however, I do not mean to confine it; for no man has so much skill in ancient rites and practices as not to want it. As I suppose myself to owe part of your kindness to my excellent friend, Dr. Patten, he has likewise a just claim to my acknowledgements, which I hope you, Sir, will transmit. There will soon appear a new edition of my Poetical Biography; if you will accept of a copy to keep me in your mind, be pleased to let me know how it may be conveniently conveyed to you. The present is small, but it is given with good will by, Reverend Sir,

'Your most, &c.


'December 31, 1782[507].'

1783: AETAT. 74.—In 1783, he was more severely afflicted than ever, as will appear in the course of his correspondence[508]; but still the same ardour for literature, the same constant piety, the same kindness for his friends, and the same vivacity, both in conversation and writing, distinguished him.

Having given Dr. Johnson a full account of what I was doing at Auchinleck, and particularly mentioned what I knew would please him,—my having brought an old man of eighty-eight from a lonely cottage to a comfortable habitation within my enclosures, where he had good neighbours near to him,—I received an answer in February, of which I extract what follows:—

'I am delighted with your account of your activity at Auchinleck, and wish the old gentleman, whom you have so kindly removed, may live long to promote your prosperity by his prayers. You have now a new character and new duties: think on them and practise them.

'Make an impartial estimate of your revenue, and whatever it is, live upon less. Resolve never to be poor. Frugality is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.

'I am glad to find that Mrs. Boswell grows well; and hope that to keep her well, no care nor caution will be omitted. May you long live happily together.

'When you come hither, pray bring with you Baxter's Anacreon[509]. I cannot get that edition in London.'

On Friday, March 31, having arrived in London the night before, I was glad to find him at Mrs. Thrale's house, in Argyll-street, appearances of friendship between them being still kept up. I was shewn into his room, and after the first salutation he said, 'I am glad you are come. I am very ill.' He looked pale, and was distressed with a difficulty of breathing; but after the common inquiries he assumed his usual strong animated style of conversation. Seeing me now for the first time as a Laird, or proprietor of land, he began thus: 'Sir, the superiority of a country-gentleman over the people upon his estate is very agreeable; and he who says he does not feel it to be agreeable, lies; for it must be agreeable to have a casual superiority over those who are by nature equal with us[510].' BOSWELL. 'Yet, Sir, we see great proprietors of land who prefer living in London.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the pleasure of living in London, the intellectual superiority that is enjoyed there, may counter-balance the other. Besides, Sir, a man may prefer the state of the country-gentleman upon the whole, and yet there may never be a moment when he is willing to make the change to quit London for it.' He said, 'It is better to have five per cent. out of land than out of money, because it is more secure; but the readiness of transfer, and promptness of interest, make many people rather choose the funds. Nay, there is another disadvantage belonging to land, compared with money. A man is not so much afraid of being a hard creditor, as of being a hard landlord.' BOSWELL. 'Because there is a sort of kindly connection between a landlord and his tenants.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; many landlords with us never see their tenants. It is because if a landlord drives away his tenants, he may not get others; whereas the demand for money is so great, it may always be lent.'

He talked with regret and indignation of the factious opposition to Government at this time[511], and imputed it in a great measure to the Revolution. 'Sir, (said he, in a low voice, having come nearer to me, while his old prejudices seemed to be fermenting in his mind,) this Hanoverian family is isolée here[512]. They have no friends. Now the Stuarts had friends who stuck by them so late as 1745. When the right of the King is not reverenced, there will not be reverence for those appointed by the King.'

His observation that the present royal family has no friends, has been too much justified by the very ungrateful behaviour of many who were under great obligations to his Majesty; at the same time there are honourable exceptions; and the very next year after this conversation, and ever since, the King has had as extensive and generous support as ever was given to any monarch, and has had the satisfaction of knowing that he was more and more endeared to his people[513].

He repeated to me his verses on Mr. Levett, with an emotion which gave them full effect[514]; and then he was pleased to say, 'You must be as much with me as you can. You have done me good. You cannot think how much better I am since you came in.'

He sent a message to acquaint Mrs. Thrale that I was arrived. I had not seen her since her husband's death. She soon appeared, and favoured me with an invitation to stay to dinner, which I accepted. There was no other company but herself and three of her daughters, Dr. Johnson, and I. She too said, she was very glad I was come, for she was going to Bath, and should have been sorry to leave Dr. Johnson before I came. This seemed to be attentive and kind; and I who had not been informed of any change, imagined all to be as well as formerly. He was little inclined to talk at dinner, and went to sleep after it; but when he joined us in the drawing-room, he seemed revived, and was again himself.

Talking of conversation, he said, 'There must, in the first place, be knowledge, there must be materials; in the second place, there must be a command of words; in the third place, there must be imagination, to place things in such views as they are not commonly seen in; and in the fourth place, there must be presence of mind, and a resolution that is not to be overcome by failures: this last is an essential requisite; for want of it many people do not excel in conversation. Now I want it: I throw up the game upon losing a trick.' I wondered to hear him talk thus of himself, and said, 'I don't know, Sir, how this may be; but I am sure you beat other people's cards out of their hands.' I doubt whether he heard this remark. While he went on talking triumphantly, I was fixed in admiration, and said to Mrs. Thrale, 'O, for short-hand to take this down!' 'You'll carry it all in your head; (said she;) a long head is as good as short-hand.'

It has been observed and wondered at, that Mr. Charles Fox never talked with any freedom in the presence of Dr. Johnson[515], though it is well known, and I myself can witness, that his conversation is various, fluent, and exceedingly agreeable. Johnson's own experience, however, of that gentleman's reserve was a sufficient reason for his going on thus: 'Fox never talks in private company; not from any determination not to talk, but because he has not the first motion[516]. A man who is used to the applause of the House of Commons, has no wish for that of a private company. A man accustomed to throw for a thousand pounds, if set down to throw for sixpence, would not be at the pains to count his dice. Burke's talk is the ebullition of his mind; he does not talk from a desire of distinction, but because his mind is full[517].

He thus curiously characterised one of our old acquaintance: '——[518] is a good man, Sir; but he is a vain man and a liar. He, however, only tells lies of vanity; of victories, for instance, in conversation, which never happened.' This alluded to a story which I had repeated from that gentleman, to entertain Johnson with its wild bravado: 'This Johnson, Sir, (said he,) whom you are all afraid of will shrink, if you come close to him in argument and roar as loud as he. He once maintained the paradox, that there is no beauty but in utility[519]. "Sir, (said I,) what say you to the peacock's tail, which is one of the most beautiful objects in nature, but would have as much utility if its feathers were all of one colour." He felt what I thus produced, and had recourse to his usual expedient, ridicule; exclaiming, "A peacock has a tail, and a fox has a tail;" and then he burst out into a laugh. "Well, Sir, (said I, with a strong voice, looking him full in the face,) you have unkennelled your fox; pursue him if you dare." He had not a word to say, Sir.' Johnson told me, that this was a fiction from beginning to end[520].

After musing for some time, he said, 'I wonder how I should have any enemies; for I do harm to nobody[521].' BOSWELL. 'In the first place, Sir, you will be pleased to recollect, that you set out with attacking the Scotch; so you got a whole nation for your enemies.' JOHNSON. 'Why, I own, that by my definition of oats[522] I meant to vex them.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, can you trace the cause of your antipathy to the Scotch.' JOHNSON. 'I cannot, Sir[523].' BOSWELL. 'Old Mr. Sheridan says, it was because they sold Charles the First.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, old Mr. Sheridan has found out a very good reason.'

Surely the most obstinate and sulky nationality, the most determined aversion to this great and good man, must be cured, when he is seen thus playing with one of his prejudices, of which he candidly admitted that he could not tell the reason. It was, however, probably owing to his having had in his view the worst part of the Scottish nation, the needy adventurers, many of whom he thought were advanced above their merits by means which he did not approve. Had he in his early life been in Scotland, and seen the worthy, sensible, independent gentlemen, who live rationally and hospitably at home, he never could have entertained such unfavourable and unjust notions of his fellow-subjects. And accordingly we find, that when he did visit Scotland, in the latter period of his life, he was fully sensible of all that it deserved, as I have already pointed out, when speaking of his Journey to the Western Islands.[524]

Next day, Saturday, March 22, I found him still at Mrs. Thrale's, but he told me that he was to go to his own house in the afternoon[525]. He was better, but I perceived he was but an unruly patient, for Sir Lucas Pepys, who visited him, while I was with him said, 'If you were tractable, Sir, I should prescribe for you.'

I related to him a remark which a respectable friend had made to me, upon the then state of Government, when those who had been long in opposition had attained to power, as it was supposed, against the inclination of the Sovereign[526]. 'You need not be uneasy (said this gentleman) about the King. He laughs at them all; he plays them one against another.' JOHNSON. 'Don't think so, Sir. The King is as much oppressed as a man can be. If he plays them one against another, he wins nothing.'

I had paid a visit to General Oglethorpe in the morning, and was told by him that Dr. Johnson saw company on Saturday evenings, and he would meet me at Johnson's that night. When I mentioned this to Johnson, not doubting that it would please him, as he had a great value for Oglethorpe, the fretfulness of his disease unexpectedly shewed itself; his anger suddenly kindled, and he said, with vehemence, 'Did not you tell him not to come? Am I to be hunted in this manner?' I satisfied him that I could not divine that the visit would not be convenient, and that I certainly could not take it upon me of my own accord to forbid the General.

I found Dr. Johnson in the evening in Mrs. Williams's room, at tea and coffee with her and Mrs. Desmoulins, who were also both ill; it was a sad scene, and he was not in very good humour. He said of a performance that had lately come out, 'Sir, if you should search all the madhouses in England, you would not find ten men who would write so, and think it sense.'

I was glad when General Oglethorpe's arrival was announced, and we left the ladies. Dr. Johnson attended him in the parlour, and was as courteous as ever. The General said he was busy reading the writers of the middle age. Johnson said they were very curious. OGLETHORPE. 'The House of Commons has usurped the power of the nation's money, and used it tyrannically. Government is now carried on by corrupt influence, instead of the inherent right in the King.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the want of inherent right in the King occasions all this disturbance. What we did at the Revolution was necessary: but it broke our constitution[527].' OGLETHORPE. 'My father did not think it necessary.'

On Sunday, March 23, I breakfasted with Dr. Johnson, who seemed much relieved, having taken opium the night before. He however protested against it, as a remedy that should be given with the utmost reluctance, and only in extreme necessity. I mentioned how commonly it was used in Turkey, and that therefore it could not be so pernicious as he apprehended. He grew warm and said, 'Turks take opium, and Christians take opium; but Russel, in his Account of Aleppo[528], tells us, that it is as disgraceful in Turkey to take too much opium, as it is with us to get drunk. Sir, it is amazing how things are exaggerated. A gentleman was lately telling in a company where I was present, that in France as soon as a man of fashion marries, he takes an opera girl into keeping; and this he mentioned as a general custom. 'Pray, Sir, (said I,) how many opera girls may there be?' He answered, 'About fourscore.' Well then, Sir, (said I,) you see there can be no more than fourscore men of fashion who can do this[529].'

Mrs. Desmoulins made tea; and she and I talked before him upon a topick which he had once borne patiently from me when we were by ourselves[530],—his not complaining of the world, because he was not called to some great office, nor had attained to great wealth. He flew into a violent passion, I confess with some justice, and commanded us to have done. 'Nobody, (said he) has a right to talk in this manner, to bring before a man his own character, and the events of his life, when he does not choose it should be done. I never have sought the world; the world was not to seek me. It is rather wonderful that so much has been done for me. All the complaints which are made of the world are unjust[531]. I never knew a man of merit neglected[532]: it was generally by his own fault that he failed of success. A man may hide his head in a hole: he may go into the country, and publish a book now and then, which nobody reads, and then complain he is neglected[533]. There is no reason why any person should exert himself for a man who has written a good book: he has not written it for any individual. I may as well make a present to the postman who brings me a letter. When patronage was limited, an authour expected to find a Maecenas, and complained if he did not find one. Why should he complain? This Maecenas has others as good as he, or others who have got the start of him.' BOSWELL. 'But surely, Sir, you will allow that there are men of merit at the bar, who never get practice.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are sure that practice is got from an opinion that the person employed deserves it best; so that if a man of merit at the bar does not get practice, it is from errour, not from injustice. He is not neglected. A horse that is brought to market may not be bought, though he is a very good horse: but that is from ignorance, not from intention[534].'

There was in this discourse much novelty, ingenuity, and discrimination, such as is seldom to be found. Yet I cannot help thinking that men of merit, who have no success in life, may be forgiven for lamenting, if they are not allowed to complain. They may consider it as hard that their merit should not have its suitable distinction. Though there is no intentional injustice towards them on the part of the world, their merit not having been perceived, they may yet repine against fortune, or fate, or by whatever name they choose to call the supposed mythological power of Destiny. It has, however, occurred to me, as a consolatory thought, that men of merit should consider thus:-How much harder would it be if the same persons had both all the merit and all the prosperity. Would not this be a miserable distribution for the poor dunces? Would men of merit exchange their intellectual superiority, and the enjoyments arising from it, for external distinction and the pleasures of wealth? If they would not, let them not envy others, who are poor where they are rich, a compensation which is made to them. Let them look inwards and be satisfied; recollecting with conscious pride what Virgil finely says of the Corycius Senex, and which I have, in another place[535], with truth and sincerity applied to Mr. Burke:—

     'Regum aequabat opes animis536.'

On the subject of the right employment of wealth, Johnson observed, 'A man cannot make a bad use of his money, so far as regards Society, if he does not hoard it; for if he either spends it or lends it out, Society has the benefit. It is in general better to spend money than to give it away; for industry is more promoted by spending money than by giving it away. A man who spends his money is sure he is doing good with it: he is not so sure when he gives it away. A man who spends ten thousand a year will do more good than a man who spends two thousand and gives away eight[537].'

In the evening I came to him again. He was somewhat fretful from his illness. A gentleman[538] asked him, whether he had been abroad to-day. 'Don't talk so childishly, (said he.) You may as well ask if I hanged myself to-day.' I mentioned politicks. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I'd as soon have a man to break my bones as talk to me of publick affairs, internal or external. I have lived to see things all as bad as they can be.'

Having mentioned his friend the second Lord Southwell, he said, 'Lord Southwell was the highest-bred man without insolence that I ever was in company with; the most qualified I ever saw. Lord Orrery[539] was not dignified: Lord Chesterfield was, but he was insolent[540]. Lord ——[541] is a man of coarse manners, but a man of abilities and information. I don't say he is a man I would set at the head of a nation, though perhaps he may be as good as the next Prime Minister that comes; but he is a man to be at the head of a Club; I don't say our CLUB; for there's no such Club.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, was he not once a factious man?' JOHNSON. 'O yes, Sir; as factious a fellow as could be found: one who was for sinking us all into the mob[542].' BOSWELL. 'How then, Sir, did he get into favour with the King?' JOHNSON. 'Because, Sir, I suppose he promised the King to do whatever the King pleased.'

He said, 'Goldsmith's blundering speech to Lord Shelburne, which has been so often mentioned, and which he really did make to him, was only a blunder in emphasis: "I wonder they should call your Lordship Malagrida[543], for Malagrida was a very good man;" meant, I wonder they should use Malagrida as a term of reproach[544].'

Soon after this time I had an opportunity of seeing, by means of one of his friends[545], a proof that his talents, as well as his obliging service to authours, were ready as ever. He had revised The Village, an admirable poem, by the Reverend Mr. Crabbe. Its sentiments as to the false notions of rustick happiness and rustick virtue were quite congenial with his own[546]; and he had taken the trouble not only to suggest slight corrections and variations, but to furnish some lines, when he thought he could give the writer's meaning better than in the words of the manuscript[547].

On Sunday, March 30, I found him at home in the evening, and had the pleasure to meet with Dr. Brocklesby[548], whose reading, and knowledge of life, and good spirits, supply him with a never-failing source of conversation. He mentioned a respectable gentleman, who became extremely penurious near the close of his life. Johnson said there must have been a degree of madness about him. 'Not at all, Sir, (said Dr. Brocklesby,) his judgement was entire.' Unluckily, however, he mentioned that although he had a fortune of twenty-seven thousand pounds, he denied himself many comforts, from an apprehension that he could not afford them. 'Nay, Sir, (cried Johnson,) when the judgement is so disturbed that a man cannot count, that is pretty well.'

I shall here insert a few of Johnson's sayings, without the formality of dates, as they have no reference to any particular time or place.

'The more a man extends and varies his acquaintance the better.' This, however, was meant with a just restriction; for, he on another occasion said to me, 'Sir, a man may be so much of every thing, that he is nothing of any thing.'

'Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong[549]; for it does not make them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad thing for human nature.'

'It is a very good custom to keep a journal[550] for a man's own use; he may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be written, because there is a great deal of novelty; but when once a man has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down.'

'There is nothing wonderful in the journal which we see Swift kept in London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be written[551].'

I praised the accuracy of an account-book of a lady whom I mentioned. JOHNSON. 'Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.' I mentioned another lady who thought as he did, so that her husband could not get her to keep an account of the expence of the family, as she thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes it; but I do not see its use[552].' I maintained that keeping an account has this advantage, that it satisfies a man that his money has not been lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt to imagine, were there no written state of his expence; and beside, a calculation of oeconomy so as not to exceed one's income, cannot be made without a view of the different articles in figures, that one may see how to retrench in some particulars less necessary than others. This he did not attempt to answer.

Talking of an acquaintance of ours[553], whose narratives, which abounded in curious and interesting topicks, were unhappily found to be very fabulous; I mentioned Lord Mansfield's having said to me, 'Suppose we believe one half of what he tells.' JOHNSON. 'Ay; but we don't know which half to believe. By his lying we lose not only our reverence for him, but all comfort in his conversation.' BOSWELL. 'May we not take it as amusing fiction?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the misfortune is, that you will insensibly believe as much of it as you incline to believe.'

It is remarkable, that notwithstanding their congeniality in politicks, he never was acquainted with a late eminent noble judge[554], whom I have heard speak of him as a writer, with great respect[555]. Johnson, I know not upon what degree of investigation, entertained no exalted opinion of his Lordship's intellectual character[556]. Talking of him to me one day, he said, 'It is wonderful, Sir, with how little real superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in publick life.' He expressed himself to the same purpose concerning another law-Lord, who, it seems, once took a fancy to associate with the wits of London; but with so little success, that Foote said, 'What can he mean by coming among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others[557].' Trying him by the test of his colloquial powers, Johnson had found him very defective. He once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'This man now has been ten years about town, and has made nothing of it;' meaning as a companion[558]. He said to me, 'I never heard any thing from him in company that was at all striking; and depend upon it, Sir, it is when you come close to a man in conversation, that you discover what his real abilities are; to make a speech in a publick assembly is a knack. Now I honour Thurlow, Sir; Thurlow is a fine fellow; he fairly puts his mind to yours[559].'

After repeating to him some of his pointed, lively sayings, I said, 'It is a pity, Sir, you don't always remember your own good things, that you may have a laugh when you will.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, it is better that I forget them, that I may be reminded of them, and have a laugh on their being brought to my recollection.'

When I recalled to him his having said as we sailed up Loch-lomond[560], 'That if he wore any thing fine, it should be very fine;' I observed that all his thoughts were upon a great scale. JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, every man will have as fine a thing as he can get; as a large diamond for his ring.' BOSWELL. 'Pardon me, Sir: a man of a narrow mind will not think of it, a slight trinket will satisfy him:

     "Nee sufferre queat majoris pondera gemmae561."'

I told him I should send him some Essays which I had written[562], which I hoped he would be so good as to read, and pick out the good ones. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, send me only the good ones; don't make me pick them.'

I heard him once say, 'Though the proverb Nullum numen abest, si sit prudentia[563], does not always prove true, we may be certain of the converse of it, Nullum numen adest, si sit imprudentia.'

Once, when Mr. Seward was going to Bath, and asked his commands, he said, 'Tell Dr. Harrington that I wish he would publish another volume of the Nugae antiquae[564]; it is a very pretty book[565].' Mr. Seward seconded this wish, and recommended to Dr. Harrington to dedicate it to Johnson, and take for his motto, what Catullus says to Cornelius Nepos:—

     '——namque tu solebas,
      Meas esse aliquid putare NUGAS566.'

As a small proof of his kindliness and delicacy of feeling, the following circumstance may be mentioned: One evening when we were in the street together, and I told him I was going to sup at Mr. Beauclerk's, he said, 'I'll go with you.' After having walked part of the way, seeming to recollect something, he suddenly stopped and said, 'I cannot go,—but I do not love Beauclerk the less.'

On the frame of his portrait, Mr. Beauclerk had inscribed,—

     '——Ingenium ingens
      Inculto latet hoc sub corpore567.'

After Mr. Beauclerk's death, when it became Mr. Langton's property, he made the inscription be defaced. Johnson said complacently, 'It was kind in you to take it off;' and then after a short pause, added, 'and not unkind in him to put it on.'

He said, 'How few of his friends' houses would a man choose to be at when he is sick.' He mentioned one or two. I recollect only Thrale's[568].

He observed, 'There is a wicked inclination in most people to suppose an old man decayed in his intellects. If a young or middle-aged man, when leaving a company, does not recollect where he laid his hat, it is nothing; but if the same inattention is discovered in an old man, people will shrug up their shoulders, and say, 'His memory is going[569].'

When I once talked to him of some of the sayings which every body repeats, but nobody knows where to find, such as Quos DEUS vult perdere, prius dementat[570]; he told me that he was once offered ten guineas to point out from whence Semel insanivimus omnes was taken. He could not do it; but many years afterwards met with it by chance in Johannes Baptista Mantuanus[571].

I am very sorry that I did not take a note of an eloquent argument in which he maintained that the situation of Prince of Wales was the happiest of any person's in the kingdom, even beyond that of the Sovereign. I recollect only—the enjoyment of hope[572],—the high superiority of rank, without the anxious cares of government,—and a great degree of power, both from natural influence wisely used, and from the sanguine expectations of those who look forward to the chance of future favour.

Sir Joshua Reynolds communicated to me the following particulars:—

Johnson thought the poems published as translations from Ossian had so little merit, that he said, 'Sir, a man might write such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to it[573].'

He said, 'A man should pass a part of his time with the laughers, by which means any thing ridiculous or particular about him might be presented to his view, and corrected.' I observed, he must have been a bold laugher who would have ventured to tell Dr. Johnson of any of his particularities[574].

Having observed the vain ostentatious importance of many people in quoting the authority of Dukes and Lords, as having been in their company, he said, he went to the other extreme, and did not mention his authority when he should have done it, had it not been that of a Duke or a Lord[575].

Dr. Goldsmith said once to Dr. Johnson, that he wished for some additional members to the LITERARY CLUB, to give it an agreeable variety; for (said he,) there can now be nothing new among us: we have travelled over one another's minds. Johnson seemed a little angry, and said, 'Sir, you have not travelled over my mind, I promise you.' Sir Joshua, however, thought Goldsmith right; observing, that 'when people have lived a great deal together, they know what each of them will say on every subject. A new understanding, therefore, is desirable; because though it may only furnish the same sense upon a question which would have been furnished by those with whom we are accustomed to live, yet this sense will have a different colouring; and colouring is of much effect in every thing else as well as in painting.'

Johnson used to say that he made it a constant rule to talk as well as he could both as to sentiment and expression, by which means, what had been originally effort became familiar and easy[576]. The consequence of this, Sir Joshua observed, was, that his common conversation in all companies was such as to secure him universal attention, as something above the usual colloquial style was expected[577].

Yet, though Johnson had this habit in company, when another mode was necessary, in order to investigate truth, he could descend to a language intelligible to the meanest capacity. An instance of this was witnessed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, when they were present at an examination of a little blackguard boy, by Mr. Saunders Welch[578], the late Westminster Justice. Welch, who imagined that he was exalting himself in Dr. Johnson's eyes by using big words, spoke in a manner that was utterly unintelligible to the boy; Dr. Johnson perceiving it, addressed himself to the boy, and changed the pompous phraseology into colloquial language. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was much amused by this procedure, which seemed a kind of reversing of what might have been expected from the two men, took notice of it to Dr. Johnson, as they walked away by themselves. Johnson said, that it was continually the case; and that he was always obliged to translate the Justice's swelling diction, (smiling,) so as that his meaning might be understood by the vulgar, from whom information was to be obtained[579].

Sir Joshua once observed to him, that he had talked above the capacity of some people with whom they had been in company together. 'No matter, Sir, (said Johnson); they consider it as a compliment to be talked to, as if they were wiser than they are. So true is this, Sir, that Baxter made it a rule in every sermon that he preached, to say something that was above the capacity of his audience[580].'

Johnson's dexterity in retort, when he seemed to be driven to an extremity by his adversary, was very remarkable. Of his power in this respect, our common friend, Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, has been pleased to furnish me with an eminent instance. However unfavourable to Scotland, he uniformly gave liberal praise to George Buchanan[581], as a writer. In a conversation concerning the literary merits of the two countries, in which Buchanan was introduced, a Scotchman, imagining that on this ground he should have an undoubted triumph over him, exclaimed, 'Ah, Dr. Johnson, what would you have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman?' 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson, after a little pause,) I should not have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman, what I will now say of him as a Scotchman,—that he was the only man of genius his country ever produced.'

And this brings to my recollection another instance of the same nature. I once reminded him that when Dr. Adam Smith was expatiating on the beauty of Glasgow, he had cut him short by saying, 'Pray, Sir, have you ever seen Brentford?' and I took the liberty to add, 'My dear Sir, surely that was shocking.' 'Why, then, Sir, (he replied,) YOU have never seen Brentford.'

Though his usual phrase for conversation was talk[582], yet he made a distinction; for when he once told me that he dined the day before at a friend's house, with 'a very pretty company;' and I asked him if there was good conversation, he answered, 'No, Sir; we had talk enough, but no conversation; there was nothing discussed.'

Talking of the success of the Scotch in London, he imputed it In a considerable degree to their spirit of nationality. 'You know, Sir, (said he,) that no Scotchman publishes a book, or has a play brought upon the stage, but there are five hundred people ready to applaud him.[583]'

He gave much praise to his friend, Dr. Burney's elegant and entertaining travels[584], and told Mr. Seward that he had them in his eye, when writing his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.

Such was his sensibility, and so much was he affected by pathetick poetry, that, when he was reading Dr. Beattie's Hermit in my presence, it brought tears into his eyes[585].

He disapproved much of mingling real facts with fiction. On this account he censured a book entitled Love and Madness[586].

Mr. Hoole told him, he was born in Moorfields, and had received part of his early instruction in Grub-street. 'Sir, (said Johnson, smiling) you have been regularly educated.' Having asked who was his instructor, and Mr. Hoole having answered, 'My uncle, Sir, who was a taylor;' Johnson, recollecting himself, said, 'Sir, I knew him; we called him the metaphysical taylor. He was of a club in Old-street, with me and George Psalmanazar, and some others[587]: but pray, Sir, was he a good taylor?' Mr. Hoole having answered that he believed he was too mathematical, and used to draw squares and triangles on his shop-board, so that he did not excel in the cut of a coat;—'I am sorry for it (said Johnson,) for I would have every man to be master of his own business.'

In pleasant reference to himself and Mr. Hoole, as brother authours, he often said, 'Let you and I, Sir, go together, and eat a beef-steak in Grub-street[588].'

Sir William Chambers, that great Architect[589], whose works shew a sublimity of genius, and who is esteemed by all who know him for his social, hospitable, and generous qualities, submitted the manuscript of his Chinese Architecture to Dr. Johnson's perusal. Johnson was much pleased with it, and said, 'It wants no addition nor correction, but a few lines of introduction;' which he furnished, and Sir William adopted[590].

He said to Sir William Scott, 'The age is running mad after innovation; all the business of the world is to be done in a new way; men are to be hanged in a new way; Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of innovation[591].' It having been argued that this was an improvement,—'No, Sir, (said he, eagerly,) it is not an improvement: they object that the old method drew together a number of spectators. Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw spectators they don't answer their purpose. The old method was most satisfactory to all parties; the publick was gratified by a procession[592]; the criminal was supported by it. Why is all this to be swept away?' I perfectly agree with Dr. Johnson upon this head, and am persuaded that executions now, the solemn procession being discontinued, have not nearly the effect which they formerly had[593]. Magistrates both in London, and elsewhere, have, I am afraid, in this had too much regard to their own ease[594].

Of Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, Johnson said to a friend, 'Hurd, Sir, is one of a set of men who account for every thing systematically; for instance, it has been a fashion to wear scarlet breeches; these men would tell you, that according to causes and effects, no other wear could at that time have been chosen.' He, however, said of him at another time to the same gentleman, 'Hurd, Sir, is a man whose acquaintance is a valuable acquisition.'

That learned and ingenious Prelate[595] it is well known published at one period of his life Moral and Political Dialogues, with a woefully whiggish cast. Afterwards, his Lordship having thought better, came to see his errour, and republished the work with a more constitutional spirit. Johnson, however, was unwilling to allow him full credit for his political conversion. I remember when his Lordship declined the honour of being Archbishop of Canterbury, Johnson said, 'I am glad he did not go to Lambeth; for, after all, I fear he is a Whig in his heart.'

Johnson's attention to precision and clearness in expression was very remarkable. He disapproved of parentheses; and I believe in all his voluminous writings, not half a dozen of them will be found. He never used the phrases the former and the latter, having observed, that they often occasioned obscurity; he therefore contrived to construct his sentences so as not to have occasion for them, and would even rather repeat the same words, in order to avoid them[596]. Nothing is more common than to mistake surnames when we hear them carelessly uttered for the first time. To prevent this, he used not only to pronounce them slowly and distinctly, but to take the trouble of spelling them; a practice which I have often followed; and which I wish were general.

Such was the heat and irritability of his blood, that not only did he pare his nails to the quick; but scraped the joints of his fingers with a pen-knife, till they seemed quite red and raw.

The heterogeneous composition of human nature was remarkably exemplified in Johnson. His liberality in giving his money to persons in distress was extraordinary. Yet there lurked about him a propensity to paultry saving. One day I owned to him that 'I was occasionally troubled with a fit of narrowness.' 'Why, Sir, (said he,) so am I. But I do not tell it.' He has now and then borrowed a shilling of me; and when I asked for it again, seemed to be rather out of humour. A droll little circumstance once occurred: as if he meant to reprimand my minute exactness as a creditor, he thus addressed me;—'Boswell, lend me sixpence—not to be repaid[597].'

This great man's attention to small things was very remarkable. As an instance of it, he one day said to me, 'Sir, when you get silver in change for a guinea, look carefully at it; you may find some curious piece of coin.'

Though a stern true-born Englishman[598], and fully prejudiced against all other nations, he had discernment enough to see, and candour enough to censure, the cold reserve too common among Englishmen towards strangers: 'Sir, (said he,) two men of any other nation who are shewn into a room together, at a house where they are both visitors, will immediately find some conversation. But two Englishmen will probably go each to a different window, and remain in obstinate silence. Sir, we as yet do not enough understand the common rights of humanity[599].'

Johnson was at a certain period of his life a good deal with the Earl of Shelburne[600], now Marquis of Lansdown, as he doubtless could not but have a due value for that nobleman's activity of mind, and uncommon acquisitions of important knowledge, however much he might disapprove of other parts of his Lordship's character, which were widely different from his own.

Maurice Morgann, Esq., authour of the very ingenious Essay on the character of Falstaff[601], being a particular friend of his Lordship, had once an opportunity of entertaining Johnson for a day or two at Wickham, when its Lord was absent, and by him I have been favoured with two anecdotes.

One is not a little to the credit of Johnson's candour. Mr. Morgann and he had a dispute pretty late at night, in which Johnson would not give up, though he had the wrong side, and in short, both kept the field. Next morning, when they met in the breakfasting-room, Dr. Johnson accosted Mr. Morgann thus:—'Sir, I have been thinking on our dispute last night—You were in the right[602].'

The other was as follows:—Johnson, for sport perhaps, or from the spirit of contradiction, eagerly maintained that Derrick[603] had merit as a writer. Mr. Morgann argued with him directly, in vain. At length he had recourse to this device. 'Pray, Sir, (said he,) whether do you reckon Derrick or Smart[604] the best poet?' Johnson at once felt himself roused; and answered, 'Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.'

Once, when checking my boasting too frequently of myself in company, he said to me, 'Boswell, you often vaunt so much, as to provoke ridicule. You put me in mind of a man who was standing in the kitchen of an inn with his back to the fire, and thus accosted the person next him, "Do you know, Sir, who I am?" "No, Sir, (said the other,) I have not that advantage." "Sir, (said he,) I am the great TWALMLEY, who invented the New Floodgate Iron[605]."' The Bishop of Killaloe, on my repeating the story to him, defended Twalmley, by observing, that he was entitled to the epithet of great; for Virgil in his groupe of worthies in the Elysian fields—

     Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi, &c.


     Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes606.

He was pleased to say to me one morning when we were left alone in his study, 'Boswell, I think I am easier with you than with almost any body.'

He would not allow Mr. David Hume any credit for his political principles, though similar to his own; saying of him, 'Sir, he was a Tory by chance[607].'

His acute observation of human life made him remark, 'Sir, there is nothing by which a man exasperates most people more, than by displaying a superiour ability or brilliancy in conversation. They seem pleased at the time; but their envy makes them curse him at their hearts[608].'

My readers will probably be surprised to hear that the great Dr. Johnson could amuse himself with so slight and playful a species of composition as a Charade. I have recovered one which he made on Dr. Barnard, now Lord Bishop of Killaloe; who has been pleased for many years to treat me with so much intimacy and social ease, that I may presume to call him not only my Right Reverend, but my very dear Friend. I therefore with peculiar pleasure give to the world a just and elegant compliment thus paid to his Lordship by Johnson[609].

'My first610 shuts out thieves from your house or your room,
 My second611 expresses a Syrian perfume.
 My whole612 is a man in whose converse is shar'd,
 The strength of a Bar and the sweetness of Nard.'

Johnson asked Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq., if he had read the Spanish translation of Sallust, said to be written by a Prince of Spain[613], with the assistance of his tutor, who is professedly the authour of a treatise annexed, on the Phoenician language.

Mr. Cambridge commended the work, particularly as he thought the Translator understood his authour better than is commonly the case with Translators: but said, he was disappointed in the purpose for which he borrowed the book; to see whether a Spaniard could be better furnished with inscriptions from monuments, coins, or other antiquities which he might more probably find on a coast, so immediately opposite to Carthage, than the Antiquaries of any other countries. JOHNSON. 'I am very sorry you was[614] not gratified in your expectations.' CAMBRIDGE. 'The language would have been of little use, as there is no history existing in that tongue to balance the partial accounts which the Roman writers have left us.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. They have not been partial, they have told their own story, without shame or regard to equitable treatment of their injured enemy; they had no compunction, no feeling for a Carthaginian. Why, Sir, they would never have borne Virgil's description of Aeneas's treatment of Dido, if she had not been a Carthaginian[615].'

I gratefully acknowledge this and other communications from Mr. Cambridge, whom, if a beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames, a few miles distant from London, a numerous and excellent library, which he accurately knows and reads, a choice collection of pictures, which he understands and relishes, an easy fortune, an amiable family, an extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, distinguished by rank, fashion and genius, a literary fame, various, elegant and still increasing, colloquial talents rarely to be found[616], and with all these means of happiness, enjoying, when well advanced in years, health and vigour of body, serenity and animation of mind, do not entitle to be addressed fortunate senex![617] I know not to whom, in any age, that expression could with propriety have been used. Long may he live to hear and to feel it!

Johnson's love of little children, which he discovered upon all occasions, calling them 'pretty dears,' and giving them sweetmeats, was an undoubted proof of the real humanity and gentleness of his disposition[618].

His uncommon kindness to his servants, and serious concern, not only for their comfort in this world, but their happiness in the next, was another unquestionable evidence of what all, who were intimately acquainted with him, knew to be true.

Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he shewed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, 'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'

He thought Mr. Beauclerk made a shrewd and judicious' remark to Mr. Langton, who, after having been for the first time in company with a well-known wit about town, was warmly admiring and praising him, 'See him again,' said Beauclerk.

His respect for the Hierarchy, and particularly the Dignitaries of the Church, has been more than once exhibited in the course of this work[619]. Mr. Seward saw him presented to the Archbishop of York[620], and described his Bow to an ARCH-BISHOP, as such a studied elaboration of homage, such an extension of limb, such a flexion of body, as have seldom or ever been equalled.

I cannot help mentioning with much regret, that by my own negligence I lost an opportunity of having the history of my family from its founder Thomas Boswell, in 1504, recorded and illustrated by Johnson's pen. Such was his goodness to me, that when I presumed to solicit him for so great a favour, he was pleased to say, 'Let me have all the materials you can collect, and I will do it both in Latin and English; then let it be printed and copies of it be deposited in various places for security and preservation.' I can now only do the best I can to make up for this loss, keeping my great Master steadily in view. Family histories, like the imagines majorum of the Ancients, excite to virtue; and I wish that they who really have blood, would be more careful to trace and ascertain its course. Some have affected to laugh at the history of the house of Yvery[621]: it would be well if many others would transmit their pedigrees to posterity, with the same accuracy and generous zeal with which the Noble Lord who compiled that work has honoured and perpetuated his ancestry.

On Thursday, April 10[622], I introduced to him, at his house in Bolt-court, the Honourable and Reverend William Stuart, son of the Earl of Bute; a gentleman truly worthy of being known to Johnson; being, with all the advantages of high birth, learning, travel, and elegant manners, an exemplary parish priest in every respect.

After some compliments on both sides, the tour which Johnson and I had made to the Hebrides was mentioned. JOHNSON. 'I got an acquisition of more ideas by it than by any thing that I remember. I saw quite a different system of life[623].' BOSWELL. 'You would not like to make the same journey again?' JOHNSON. 'Why no, Sir; not the same: it is a tale told. Gravina, an Italian critick, observes, that every man desires to see that of which he has read; but no man desires to read an account of what he has seen: so much does description fall short of reality. Description only excites curiosity: seeing satisfies it. Other people may go and see the Hebrides.' BOSWELL. 'I should wish to go and see some country totally different from what I have been used to; such as Turkey, where religion and every thing else are different.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity,—the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous.' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, is the Turkish Spy[624] a genuine book?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. Mrs. Manley, in her Life, says that her father wrote the first two volumes[625]: and in another book, Dunton's Life and Errours, we find that the rest was written by one Sault, at two guineas a sheet, under the direction of Dr. Midgeley[626].

BOSWELL. 'This has been a very factious reign, owing to the too great indulgence of Government.' JOHNSON. 'I think so, Sir. What at first was lenity, grew timidity[627]. Yet this is reasoning à posteriori, and may not be just. Supposing a few had at first been punished, I believe faction would have been crushed; but it might have been said, that it was a sanguinary reign. A man cannot tell à priori what will be best for Government to do. This reign has been very unfortunate. We have had an unsuccessful war; but that does not prove that we have been ill governed. One side or other must prevail in war, as one or other must win at play. When we beat Louis we were not better governed; nor were the French better governed when Louis beat us.'

On Saturday, April 12, I visited him, in company with Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, whom, though a Whig, he highly valued. One of the best things he ever said was to this gentleman; who, before he set out for Ireland as Secretary to Lord Northington, when Lord Lieutenant, expressed to the Sage some modest and virtuous doubts, whether he could bring himself to practise those arts which it is supposed a person in that situation has occasion to employ. 'Don't be afraid, Sir, (said Johnson, with a pleasant smile,) you will soon make a very pretty rascal[628].

He talked to-day a good deal of the wonderful extent and variety of London, and observed, that men of curious enquiry might see in it such modes of life as very few could even imagine. He in particular recommended to us to explore Wapping, which we resolved to do[629].

Mr. Lowe, the painter, who was with him, was very much distressed that a large picture which he had painted was refused to be received into the Exhibition of the Royal Academy. Mrs. Thrale knew Johnson's character so superficially, as to represent him as unwilling to do small acts of benevolence; and mentions in particular, that he would hardly take the trouble to write a letter in favour of his friends[630]. The truth, however, is, that he was remarkable, in an extraordinary degree, for what she denies to him; and, above all, for this very sort of kindness, writing letters for those to whom his solicitations might be of service. He now gave Mr. Lowe the following, of which I was diligent enough, with his permission, to take copies at the next coffee-house, while Mr. Windham was so good as to stay by me.


'Mr. Lowe considers himself as cut off from all credit and all hope, by the rejection of his picture from the Exhibition. Upon this work he has exhausted all his powers, and suspended all his expectations: and, certainly, to be refused an opportunity of taking the opinion of the publick, is in itself a very great hardship. It is to be condemned without a trial.

If you could procure the revocation of this incapacitating edict, you would deliver an unhappy man from great affliction. The Council has sometimes reversed its own determination; and I hope, that by your interposition this luckless picture may be got admitted. I am, &c.


April 12, 1783.



Mr. Lowe's exclusion from the exhibition gives him more trouble than you and the other gentlemen of the Council could imagine or intend. He considers disgrace and ruin as the inevitable consequence of your determination.

He says, that some pictures have been received after rejection; and if there be any such precedent, I earnestly entreat that you will use your interest in his favour. Of his work I can say nothing; I pretend not to judge of painting; and this picture I never saw: but I conceive it extremely hard to shut out any man from the possibility of success; and therefore I repeat my request that you will propose the re-consideration of Mr. Lowe's case; and if there be any among the Council with whom my name can have any weight, be pleased to communicate to them the desire of, Sir, Your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON. April 12, 1783.

Such intercession was too powerful to be resisted; and Mr. Lowe's performance was admitted at Somerset Place[631]. The subject, as I recollect, was the Deluge, at that point of time when the water was verging to the top of the last uncovered mountain. Near to the spot was seen the last of the antediluvian race, exclusive of those who were saved in the ark of Noah. This was one of those giants, then the inhabitants of the earth, who had still strength to swim, and with one of his hands held aloft his infant child. Upon the small remaining dry spot appeared a famished lion, ready to spring at the child and devour it. Mr. Lowe told me that Johnson said to him, 'Sir, your picture is noble and probable.' 'A compliment, indeed, (said Mr. Lowe,) from a man who cannot lie, and cannot be mistaken.'

About this time he wrote to Mrs. Lucy Porter, mentioning his bad health, and that he intended a visit to Lichfield. 'It is, (says he,) with no great expectation of amendment that I make every year a journey into the country; but it is pleasant to visit those whose kindness has been often experienced.'

On April 18, (being Good-Friday,) I found him at breakfast, in his usual manner upon that day, drinking tea without milk, and eating a cross-bun to prevent faintness; we went to St. Clement's church, as formerly. When we came home from church, he placed himself on one of the stone-seats at his garden-door, and I took the other, and thus in the open air and in a placid frame of mind, he talked away very easily. JOHNSON. 'Were I a country gentleman, I should not be very hospitable, I should not have crowds in my house[632].' BOSWELL. 'Sir Alexander Dick[633] tells me, that he remembers having a thousand people in a year to dine at his house: that is, reckoning each person as one, each time that he dined there.' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir, is about three a day.' BOSWELL. 'How your statement lessens the idea.' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir, is the good of counting[634]. It brings every thing to a certainty, which before floated in the mind indefinitely.' BOSWELL. 'But Omne ignotum pro magnifico est[635]: one is sorry to have this diminished.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you should not allow yourself to be delighted with errour.' BOSWELL. 'Three a day seem but few.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, he who entertains three a day, does very liberally. And if there is a large family, the poor entertain those three, for they eat what the poor would get: there must be superfluous meat; it must be given to the poor, or thrown out.' BOSWELL. 'I observe in London, that the poor go about and gather bones, which I understand are manufactured.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; they boil them, and extract a grease from them for greasing wheels and other purposes. Of the best pieces they make a mock ivory, which is used for hafts to knives, and various other things; the coarser pieces they burn and pound, and sell the ashes.' BOSWELL. 'For what purpose, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, for making a furnace for the chymists for melting iron. A paste made of burnt bones will stand a stronger heat than any thing else. Consider, Sir; if you are to melt iron, you cannot line your pot with brass, because it is softer than iron, and would melt sooner; nor with iron, for though malleable iron is harder than cast iron, yet it would not do; but a paste of burnt-bones will not melt.' BOSWELL. 'Do you know, Sir, I have discovered a manufacture to a great extent, of what you only piddle at,—scraping and drying the peel of oranges[636]. At a place in Newgate-street, there is a prodigious quantity prepared, which they sell to the distillers.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I believe they make a higher thing out of them than a spirit; they make what is called orange-butter, the oil of the orange inspissated, which they mix perhaps with common pomatum, and make it fragrant. The oil does not fly off in the drying.'

BOSWELL. 'I wish to have a good walled garden.' JOHNSON. 'I don't think it would be worth the expence to you. We compute in England, a park wall at a thousand pounds a mile; now a garden-wall must cost at least as much. You intend your trees should grow higher than a deer will leap. Now let us see; for a hundred pounds you could only have forty-four square yards, which is very little; for two hundred pounds, you may have eighty-four square yards[637], which is very well. But when will you get the value of two hundred pounds of walls, in fruit, in your climate? No, Sir, such contention with Nature is not worth while. I would plant an orchard, and have plenty of such fruit as ripen well in your country. My friend, Dr. Madden[638], of Ireland, said, that "in an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot upon the ground." Cherries are an early fruit, you may have them; and you may have the early apples and pears.' BOSWELL. 'We cannot have nonpareils.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you can no more have nonpareils than you can have grapes.' BOSWELL. 'We have them, Sir; but they are very bad.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, never try to have a thing merely to shew that you cannot have it. From ground that would let for forty shillings you may have a large orchard; and you see it costs you only forty shillings. Nay, you may graze the ground when the trees are grown up; you cannot while they are young.' BOSWELL. 'Is not a good garden a very common thing in England, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Not so common, Sir, as you imagine[639]. In Lincolnshire there is hardly an orchard; in Staffordshire very little fruit.' BOSWELL. 'Has Langton no orchard?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'How so, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, from the general negligence of the county. He has it not, because nobody else has it.' BOSWELL. 'A hot-house is a certain thing; I may have that.' JOHNSON. 'A hot-house is pretty certain; but you must first build it, then you must keep fires in it, and you must have a gardener to take care of it.' BOSWELL. 'But if I have a gardener at any rate?—' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes.' BOSWELL.' I'd have it near my house; there is no need to have it in the orchard.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, I'd have it near my house. I would plant a great many currants; the fruit is good, and they make a pretty sweetmeat.'

I record this minute detail, which some may think trifling, in order to shew clearly how this great man, whose mind could grasp such large and extensive subjects, as he has shewn in his literary labours, was yet well-informed in the common affairs of life, and loved to illustrate them.

Mr. Walker, the celebrated master of elocution[640], came in, and then we went up stairs into the study. I asked him if he had taught many clergymen. JOHNSON. 'I hope not.' WALKER. 'I have taught only one, and he is the best reader I ever heard, not by my teaching, but by his own natural talents.' JOHNSON. 'Were he the best reader in the world, I would not have it told that he was taught.' Here was one of his peculiar prejudices. Could it be any disadvantage to the clergyman to have it known that he was taught an easy and graceful delivery? BOSWELL. 'Will you not allow, Sir, that a man may be taught to read well?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, so far as to read better than he might do without being taught, yes. Formerly it was supposed that there was no difference in reading, but that one read as well as another.' BOSWELL. 'It is wonderful to see old Sheridan as enthusiastick about oratory as ever[641],' WALKER. 'His enthusiasm as to what oratory will do, may be too great: but he reads well.' JOHNSON. 'He reads well, but he reads low[642]; and you know it is much easier to read low than to read high; for when you read high, you are much more limited, your loudest note can be but one, and so the variety is less in proportion to the loudness. Now some people have occasion to speak to an extensive audience, and must speak loud to be heard.' WALKER. 'The art is to read strong, though low.'

Talking of the origin of language; JOHNSON. 'It must have come by inspiration. A thousand, nay, a million of children could not invent a language. While the organs are pliable, there is not understanding enough to form a language; by the time that there is understanding enough, the organs are become stiff. We know that after a certain age we cannot learn to pronounce a new language. No foreigner, who comes to England when advanced in life, ever pronounces English tolerably well; at least such instances are very rare. When I maintain that language must have come by inspiration, I do not mean that inspiration is required for rhetorick, and all the beauties of language; for when once man has language, we can conceive that he may gradually form modifications of it. I mean only that inspiration seems to me to be necessary to give man the faculty of speech; to inform him that he may have speech; which I think he could no more find out without inspiration, than cows or hogs would think of such a faculty.' WALKER. 'Do you think, Sir, that there are any perfect synonimes in any language?' JOHNSON. 'Originally there were not; but by using words negligently, or in poetry, one word comes to be confounded with another.'

He talked of Dr. Dodd[643]. 'A friend of mine, (said he,) came to me and told me, that a lady wished to have Dr. Dodd's picture in a bracelet, and asked me for a motto. I said, I could think of no better than Currat Lex. I was very willing to have him pardoned, that is, to have the sentence changed to transportation: but, when he was once hanged, I did not wish he should be made a saint.'

Mrs. Burney, wife of his friend Dr. Burney, came in, and he seemed to be entertained with her conversation.

Garrick's funeral was talked of as extravagantly expensive. Johnson, from his dislike to exaggeration, would not allow that it was distinguished by any extraordinary pomp. 'Were there not six horses to each coach?' said Mrs. Burney. JOHNSON. 'Madam, there were no more six horses than six phoenixes[644].'

Mrs. Burney wondered that some very beautiful new buildings should be erected in Moorfields, in so shocking a situation as between Bedlam and St. Luke's Hospital; and said she could not live there. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, you see nothing there to hurt you. You no more think of madness by having windows that look to Bedlam, than you think of death by having windows that look to a church-yard.' MRS. BURNEY. 'We may look to a church-yard, Sir; for it is right that we should be kept in mind of death.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, if you go to that, it is right that we should be kept in mind of madness, which is occasioned by too much indulgence of imagination. I think a very moral use may be made of these new buildings: I would have those who have heated imaginations live there, and take warning.' MRS. BURNEY. 'But, Sir, many of the poor people that are mad, have become so from disease, or from distressing events. It is, therefore, not their fault, but their misfortune; and, therefore, to think of them is a melancholy consideration.'

Time passed on in conversation till it was too late for the service of the church at three o'clock. I took a walk, and left him alone for some time; then returned, and we had coffee and conversation again by ourselves.

I stated the character of a noble friend of mine, as a curious case for his opinion:—'He is the most inexplicable man to me that I ever knew. Can you explain him, Sir? He is, I really believe, noble-minded, generous, and princely. But his most intimate friends may be separated from him for years, without his ever asking a question concerning them. He will meet them with a formality, a coldness, a stately indifference; but when they come close to him, and fairly engage him in conversation, they find him as easy, pleasant, and kind, as they could wish. One then supposes that what is so agreeable will soon be renewed; but stay away from him for half a year, and he will neither call on you, nor send to inquire about you.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I cannot ascertain his character exactly, as I do not know him; but I should not like to have such a man for my friend. He may love study, and wish not to be interrupted by his friends; Amici fures temporis. He may be a frivolous man, and be so much occupied with petty pursuits, that he may not want friends. Or he may have a notion that there is a dignity in appearing indifferent, while he in fact may not be more indifferent at his heart than another.'

We went to evening prayers at St. Clement's, at seven, and then parted.

On Sunday, April 20, being Easter-day, after attending solemn service at St. Paul's, I came to Dr. Johnson, and found Mr. Lowe, the painter, sitting with him. Mr. Lowe mentioned the great number of new buildings of late in London, yet that Dr. Johnson had observed, that the number of inhabitants was not increased. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the bills of mortality prove that no more people die now than formerly; so it is plain no more live. The register of births proves nothing, for not one tenth of the people of London are born there.' BOSWELL. 'I believe, Sir, a great many of the children born in London die early.' JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'But those who do live, are as stout and strong people as any[645]: Dr. Price[646] says, they must be naturally stronger to get through.' JOHNSON. 'That is system, Sir. A great traveller observes, that it is said there are no weak or deformed people among the Indians; but he with much sagacity assigns the reason of this, which is, that the hardship of their life as hunters and fishers does not allow weak or diseased children to grow up. Now had I been an Indian, I must have died early; my eyes would not have served me to get food. I indeed now could fish, give me English tackle; but had I been an Indian I must have starved, or they would have knocked me on the head, when they saw I could do nothing.' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps they would have taken care of you: we are told they are fond of oratory, you would have talked to them.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I should not have lived long enough to be fit to talk; I should have been dead before I was ten years old. Depend upon it, Sir, a savage, when he is hungry, will not carry about with him a looby of nine years old, who cannot help himself. They have no affection, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'I believe natural affection, of which we hear so much, is very small.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, natural affection is nothing: but affection from principle and established duty is sometimes wonderfully strong.' LOWE. 'A hen, Sir, will feed her chickens in preference to herself.' JOHNSON. 'But we don't know that the hen is hungry; let the hen be fairly hungry, and I'll warrant she'll peck the corn herself. A cock, I believe, will feed hens instead of himself; but we don't know that the cock is hungry.' BOSWELL. 'And that, Sir, is not from affection but gallantry. But some of the Indians have affection.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that they help some of their children is plain; for some of them live, which they could not do without being helped.'

I dined with him; the company were, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Desmoulins, and Mr. Lowe. He seemed not to be well, talked little, grew drowsy soon after dinner, and retired, upon which I went away.

Having next day gone to Mr. Burke's seat in the country, from whence I was recalled by an express, that a near relation of mine had killed his antagonist in a duel, and was himself dangerously wounded[647], I saw little of Dr. Johnson till Monday, April 28, when I spent a considerable part of the day with him, and introduced the subject, which then chiefly occupied my mind. JOHNSON. 'I do not see, Sir, that fighting is absolutely forbidden in Scripture; I see revenge forbidden, but not self-defence.' BOSWELL. 'The Quakers say it is; "Unto him that smiteth thee on one cheek, offer him also the other[648]."' JOHNSON. 'But stay, Sir; the text is meant only to have the effect of moderating passion; it is plain that we are not to take it in a literal sense. We see this from the context, where there are other recommendations, which I warrant you the Quaker will not take literally; as, for instance, "From him that would borrow of thee, turn thou not away[649]." Let a man whose credit is bad, come to a Quaker, and say, "Well, Sir, lend me a hundred pounds;" he'll find him as unwilling as any other man. No, Sir, a man may shoot the man who invades his character, as he may shoot him who attempts to break into his house[650]. So in 1745, my friend, Tom Cumming the Quaker[651], said, he would not fight, but he would drive an ammunition cart; and we know that the Quakers have sent flannel waistcoats to our soldiers, to enable them to fight better.' BOSWELL. 'When a man is the aggressor, and by ill-usage forces on a duel in which he is killed, have we not little ground to hope that he is gone into a state of happiness?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, we are not to judge determinately of the state in which a man leaves this life. He may in a moment have repented effectually, and it is possible may have been accepted by GOD. There is in Camden's Remains, an epitaph upon a very wicked man, who was killed by a fall from his horse, in which he is supposed to say,

     '"Between the stirrup and the ground,
       I mercy ask'd, I mercy found652."'

BOSWELL. 'Is not the expression in the Burial-service, "in the sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection[653]," too strong to be used indiscriminately, and, indeed, sometimes when those over whose bodies it is said, have been notoriously profane?' JOHNSON. 'It is sure and certain hope, Sir; not belief.' I did not insist further; but cannot help thinking that less positive words would be more proper[654].

Talking of a man who was grown very fat, so as to be incommoded with corpulency; he said, 'He eats too much, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'I don't know, Sir; you will see one man fat who eats moderately, and another lean who eats a great deal.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, whatever may be the quantity that a man eats, it is plain that if he is too fat, he has eaten more than he should have done. One man may have a digestion that consumes food better than common; but it is certain that solidity is encreased by putting something to it.' BOSWELL. 'But may not solids swell and be distended?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, they may swell and be distended; but that is not fat.'

We talked of the accusation against a gentleman for supposed delinquencies in India[655]. JOHNSON. 'What foundation there is for accusation I know not, but they will not get at him. Where bad actions are committed at so great a distance, a delinquent can obscure the evidence till the scent becomes cold; there is a cloud between, which cannot be penetrated: therefore all distant power is bad. I am clear that the best plan for the government of India is a despotick governour; for if he be a good man, it is evidently the best government; and supposing him to be a bad man, it is better to have one plunderer than many. A governour whose power is checked, lets others plunder, that he himself may be allowed to plunder; but if despotick, he sees that the more he lets others plunder, the less there will be for himself, so he restrains them; and though he himself plunders, the country is a gainer, compared with being plundered by numbers.'

I mentioned the very liberal payment which had been received for reviewing; and, as evidence of this, that it had been proved in a trial, that Dr. Shebbeare[656] had received six guineas a sheet for that kind of literary labour. JOHNSON, 'Sir, he might get six guineas for a particular sheet, but not communibus sheetibus[657].' BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, by a sheet of review is it meant that it shall be all of the writer's own composition? or are extracts, made from the book reviewed, deducted.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir: it is a sheet, no matter of what.' BOSWELL. 'I think that it is not reasonable.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, it is. A man will more easily write a sheet all his own, than read an octavo volume to get extracts[658].' To one of Johnson's wonderful fertility of mind I believe writing was really easier than reading and extracting; but with ordinary men the case is very different. A great deal, indeed, will depend upon the care and judgement with which the extracts are made. I can suppose the operation to be tedious and difficult: but in many instances we must observe crude morsels cut out of books as if at random; and when a large extract is made from one place, it surely may be done with very little trouble. One however, I must acknowledge, might be led, from the practice of reviewers, to suppose that they take a pleasure in original writing; for we often find, that instead of giving an accurate account of what has been done by the authour whose work they are reviewing, which is surely the proper business of a literary journal, they produce some plausible and ingenious conceits of their own, upon the topicks which have been discussed[659].

Upon being told that old Mr. Sheridan, indignant at the neglect of his oratorical plans, had threatened to go to America; JOHNSON. 'I hope he will go to America.' BOSWELL. 'The Americans don't want oratory.' JOHNSON. 'But we can want Sheridan[660].'

On Monday[661], April 29, I found him at home in the forenoon, and Mr. Seward with him. Horace having been mentioned; BOSWELL. 'There is a great deal of thinking in his works. One finds there almost every thing but religion.' SEWARD. 'He speaks of his returning to it, in his Ode Parcus Deorum cultor et infrequens[662] JOHNSON. 'Sir, he was not in earnest: this was merely poetical.' BOSWELL. 'There are, I am afraid, many people who have no religion at all.' SEWARD. 'And sensible people too.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, not sensible in that respect. There must be either a natural or a moral stupidity, if one lives in a total neglect of so very important a concern.' SEWARD. 'I wonder that there should be people without religion.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you need not wonder at this, when you consider how large a proportion of almost every man's life is passed without thinking of it. I myself was for some years totally regardless of religion. It had dropped out of my mind. It was at an early part of my life. Sickness brought it back, and I hope I have never lost it since[663].' BOSWELL. 'My dear Sir, what a man must you have been without religion! Why you must have gone on drinking, and swearing, and—[664]' JOHNSON. (with a smile) 'I drank enough and swore enough, to be sure.' SEWARD. 'One should think that sickness and the view of death would make more men religious.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they do not know how to go about it: they have not the first notion. A man who has never had religion before, no more grows religious when he is sick, than a man who has never learnt figures can count when he has need of calculation.'

I mentioned a worthy friend of ours[665] whom we valued much, but observed that he was too ready to introduce religious discourse upon all occasions. JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, he will introduce religious discourse without seeing whether it will end in instruction and improvement, or produce some profane jest. He would introduce it in the company of Wilkes, and twenty more such.'

I mentioned Dr. Johnson's excellent distinction between liberty of conscience and liberty of teaching[666]. JOHNSON. 'Consider, Sir; if you have children whom you wish to educate in the principles of the Church of England, and there comes a Quaker who tries to pervert them to his principles, you would drive away the Quaker. You would not trust to the predomination of right, which you believe is in your opinions; you would keep wrong out of their heads. Now the vulgar are the children of the State. If any one attempts to teach them doctrines contrary to what the State approves, the magistrate may and ought to restrain him.' SEWARD. 'Would you restrain private conversation, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is difficult to say where private conversation begins, and where it ends. If we three should discuss even the great question concerning the existence of a Supreme Being by ourselves, we should not be restrained; for that would be to put an end to all improvement. But if we should discuss it in the presence of ten boarding-school girls, and as many boys, I think the magistrate would do well to put us in the stocks, to finish the debate there.'

Lord Hailes had sent him a present of a curious little printed poem, on repairing the University of Aberdeen, by David Malloch, which he thought would please Johnson, as affording clear evidence that Mallet had appeared even as a literary character by the name of Malloch; his changing which to one of softer sound, had given Johnson occasion to introduce him into his Dictionary, under the article Alias[667]. This piece was, I suppose, one of Mallet's first essays. It is preserved in his works, with several variations. Johnson having read aloud, from the beginning of it, where there were some common-place assertions as to the superiority of ancient times;—'How false (said he) is all this, to say that in ancient times learning was not a disgrace to a Peer as it is now. In ancient times a Peer was as ignorant as any one else. He would have been angry to have it thought he could write his name[668]. Men in ancient times dared to stand forth with a degree of ignorance with which nobody would dare now to stand forth. I am always angry when I hear ancient times praised at the expence of modern times. There is now a great deal more learning in the world than there was formerly; for it is universally diffused. You have, perhaps, no man who knows as much Greek and Latin as Bentley[669]; no man who knows as much mathematicks as Newton: but you have many more men who know Greek and Latin, and who know mathematicks[670].'

On Thursday, May 1, I visited him in the evening along with young Mr. Burke. He said, 'It is strange that there should be so little reading in the world, and so much writing. People in general do not willingly read, if they can have any thing else to amuse them[671]. There must be an external impulse; emulation, or vanity, or avarice. The progress which the understanding makes through a book, has more pain than pleasure in it. Language is scanty, and inadequate to express the nice gradations and mixtures of our feelings. No man reads a book of science from pure inclination. The books that we do read with pleasure are light compositions, which contain a quick succession of events. However, I have this year read all Virgil through[672]. I read a book of the Aeneid every night, so it was done in twelve nights, and I had great delight in it. The Georgicks did not give me so much pleasure, except the fourth book. The Eclogues I have almost all by heart. I do not think the story of the Aeneid interesting. I like the story of the Odyssey much better[673]; and this not on account of the wonderful things which it contains; for there are wonderful things enough in the Aeneid;—the ships of the Trojans turned to sea-nymphs,—the tree at Polydorus's tomb dropping blood. The story of the Odyssey is interesting, as a great part of it is domestick. It has been said, there is pleasure in writing, particularly in writing verses. I allow you may have pleasure from writing, after it is over, if you have written well; but you don't go willingly to it again[674]. I know when I have been writing verses, I have run my finger down the margin, to see how many I had made, and how few I had to make[675].'

He seemed to be in a very placid humour, and although I have no note of the particulars of young Mr. Burke's conversation, it is but justice to mention in general, that it was such that Dr. Johnson said to me afterwards, 'He did very well indeed; I have a mind to tell his father[676].'


'The gentleman who waits on you with this, is Mr. Cruikshanks[677], who wishes to succeed his friend Dr. Hunter[678] as Professor of Anatomy in the Royal Academy. His qualifications are very generally known, and it adds dignity to the institution that such men[679] are candidates.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 2[680], 1783.'

I have no minute of any interview with Johnson till Thursday, May 15, when I find what follows:—BOSWELL. 'I wish much to be in Parliament, Sir[681].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, unless you come resolved to support any administration, you would be the worse for being in Parliament, because you would be obliged to live more expensively.' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps, Sir, I should be the less happy for being in Parliament. I never would sell my vote, and I should be vexed if things went wrong.' JOHNSON. 'That's cant, Sir. It would not vex you more in the house, than in the gallery: publick affairs vex no man.' BOSWELL. 'Have not they vexed yourself a little, Sir? Have not you been vexed by all the turbulence of this reign, and by that absurd vote of the House of Commons, "That the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished[682]?"' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I have never slept an hour less, nor eat an ounce less meat[683]. I would have knocked the factious dogs on the head, to be sure; but I was not vexed.' BOSWELL. 'I declare, Sir, upon my honour, I did imagine I was vexed, and took a pride in it; but it was, perhaps, cant; for I own I neither ate less, nor slept less.' JOHNSON. 'My dear friend, clear your mind of cant[684]. You may talk as other people do: you may say to a man, "Sir, I am your most humble servant." You are not his most humble servant. You may say, "These are bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times." You don't mind the times. You tell a man, "I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet." You don't care six-pence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society[685]; but don't think foolishly[686].'

I talked of living in the country. JOHNSON. 'Don't set up for what is called hospitality; it is a waste of time, and a waste of money; you are eaten up, and not the more respected for your liberality. If your house be like an inn, nobody cares for you. A man who stays a week with another, makes him a slave for a week.'[687] BOSWELL. 'But there are people, Sir, who make their houses a home to their guests, and are themselves quite easy.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, home must be the same to the guests, and they need not come.'

Here he discovered a notion common enough in persons not much accustomed to entertain company, that there must be a degree of elaborate attention, otherwise company will think themselves neglected; and such attention is no doubt very fatiguing.[688] He proceeded: 'I would not, however, be a stranger in my own county; I would visit my neighbours, and receive their visits; but I would not be in haste to return visits. If a gentleman comes to see me, I tell him he does me a great deal of honour. I do not go to see him perhaps for ten weeks; then we are very complaisant to each other. No, Sir, you will have much more influence by giving or lending money where it is wanted, than by hospitality[689].'

On Saturday, May 17, I saw him for a short time. Having mentioned that I had that morning been with old Mr. Sheridan, he remembered their former intimacy with a cordial warmth, and said to me, 'Tell Mr. Sheridan, I shall be glad to see him, and shake hands with him[690].' BOSWELL. 'It is to me very wonderful that resentment should be kept up so long.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is not altogether resentment that he does not visit me; it is partly falling out of the habit,—partly disgust, as one has at a drug that has made him sick. Besides, he knows that I laugh at his oratory[691].'

Another day I spoke of one of our friends, of whom he, as well as I, had a very high opinion. He expatiated in his praise; but added, 'Sir, he is a cursed Whig, a bottomless Whig, as they all are now[692].'

I mentioned my expectations from the interest of an eminent person[693] then in power; adding, 'but I have no claim but the claim of friendship; however, some people will go a great way from that motive.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they will go all the way from that motive.' A gentleman talked of retiring. 'Never think of that,' said Johnson. The gentleman urged, 'I should then do no ill.' JOHNSON. Nor no good either. Sir, it would be a civil suicide[694].'

On Monday, May 26, I found him at tea, and the celebrated Miss Burney, the authour of Evelina[695] and Cecilia, with him. I asked if there would be any speakers in Parliament, if there were no places to be obtained. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. Why do you speak here? Either to instruct and entertain, which is a benevolent motive; or for distinction, which is a selfish motive.' I mentioned Cecilia. JOHNSON. (with an air of animated satisfaction) 'Sir, if you talk of Cecilia, talk on[696].'

We talked of Mr. Barry's exhibition of his pictures. JOHNSON. 'Whatever the hand may have done, the mind has done its part. There is a grasp of mind there which you find nowhere else[697].'

I asked whether a man naturally virtuous, or one who has overcome wicked inclinations, is the best. JOHNSON. 'Sir, to you, the man who has overcome wicked inclinations is not the best. He has more merit to himself: I would rather trust my money to a man who has no hands, and so a physical impossibility to steal, than to a man of the most honest principles. There is a witty satirical story of Foote. He had a small bust of Garrick placed upon his bureau, "You may be surprized (said he) that I allow him to be so near my gold;—but you will observe he has no hands."'

On Friday, May 29[698], being to set out for Scotland next morning, I passed a part of the day with him in more than usual earnestness; as his health was in a more precarious state than at any time when I had parted from him. He, however, was quick and lively, and critical as usual. I mentioned one who was a very learned man. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, he has a great deal of learning; but it never lies straight. There is never one idea by the side of another; 'tis all entangled: and then he drives it so aukwardly upon conversation.'

I stated to him an anxious thought, by which a sincere Christian might be disturbed, even when conscious of having lived a good life, so far as is consistent with human infirmity; he might fear that he should afterwards fall away, and be guilty of such crimes as would render all his former religion vain. Could there be, upon this aweful subject, such a thing as balancing of accounts? Suppose a man who has led a good life for seven years, commits an act of wickedness, and instantly dies; will his former good life have any effect in his favour? JOHNSON. 'Sir, if a man has led a good life for seven years, and then is hurried by passion to do what is wrong, and is suddenly carried off, depend upon it he will have the reward of his seven years' good life; GOD will not take a catch of him. Upon this principle Richard Baxter believes that a Suicide may be saved. "If, (says he) it should be objected that what I maintain may encourage suicide, I answer, I am not to tell a lie to prevent it."' BOSWELL. 'But does not the text say, "As the tree falls, so it must lie[699]?"' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; as the tree falls: but,—(after a little pause)—that is meant as to the general state of the tree, not what is the effect of a sudden blast.' In short, he interpreted the expression as referring to condition, not to position. The common notion, therefore, seems to be erroneous; and Shenstone's witty remark on Divines trying to give the tree a jerk upon a death-bed, to make it lie favourably, is not well founded[700].

I asked him what works of Richard Baxter's I should read. He said, 'Read any of them; they are all good[701].'

He said, 'Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income. Always have something saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be more than your exports, and you'll never go far wrong.'

I assured him, that in the extensive and various range of his acquaintance there never had been any one who had a more sincere respect and affection for him than I had. He said, 'I believe it, Sir. Were I in distress, there is no man to whom I should sooner come than to you. I should like to come and have a cottage in your park, toddle about, live mostly on milk, and be taken care of by Mrs. Boswell. She and I are good friends now; are we not?'

Talking of devotion, he said, 'Though it be true that "GOD dwelleth not in temples made with hands[702]," yet in this state of being, our minds are more piously affected in places appropriated to divine worship, than in others. Some people have a particular room in their house, where they say their prayers; of which I do not disapprove, as it may animate their devotion.'

He embraced me, and gave me his blessing, as usual when I was leaving him for any length of time. I walked from his door to-day, with a fearful apprehension of what might happen before I returned.


Sir, The bringer of this letter is the father of Miss Philips[703], a singer, who comes to try her voice on the stage at Dublin.

Mr. Philips is one of my old friends; and as I am of opinion that neither he nor his daughter will do any thing that can disgrace their benefactors, I take the liberty of entreating you to countenance and protect them so far as may be suitable to your station[704] and character; and shall consider myself as obliged by any favourable notice which they shall have the honour of receiving from you.

I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,

SAM JOHNSON. London, May 31, 1783.'

The following is another instance of his active benevolence:—


DEAR SIR, I have sent you some of my god-son's[705] performances, of which I do not pretend to form any opinion. When I took the liberty of mentioning him to you, I did not know what I have since been told, that Mr. Moser[706] had admitted him among the Students of the Academy. What more can be done for him I earnestly entreat you to consider; for I am very desirous that he should derive some advantage from my connection with him. If you are inclined to see him, I will bring him to wait on you, at any time that you shall be pleased to appoint.

I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,

SAM. JOHNSON. June 2, 1783.'

My anxious apprehensions at parting with him this year proved to be but too well founded; for not long afterwards he had a dreadful stroke of the palsy, of which there are very full and accurate accounts in letters written by himself, to shew with what composure of mind, and resignation to the Divine Will, his steady piety enabled him to behave.


DEAR SIR, It has pleased GOD, this morning, to deprive me of the powers of speech; and as I do not know but that it may be his further good pleasure to deprive me soon of my senses, I request you will on the receipt of this note, come to me, and act for me, as the exigencies of my case may require.

I am, Sincerely yours,

SAM. JOHNSON. June 17, 1783.'


'DEAR SIR, It has pleased GOD, by a Paralytick stroke in the night, to deprive me of speech.

I am very desirous of Dr. Heberden's[708] assistance, as I think my case is not past remedy. Let me see you as soon as it is possible. Bring Dr. Heberden with you, if you can; but come yourself at all events. I am glad you are so well, when I am so dreadfully attacked.

I think that by a speedy application of stimulants much may be done. I question if a vomit, vigorous and rough, would not rouse the organs of speech to action. As it is too early to send, I will try to recollect what I can, that can be suspected to have brought on this dreadful distress.

I have been accustomed to bleed frequently for an asthmatick complaint; but have forborne for some time by Dr. Pepys's persuasion, who perceived my legs beginning to swell. I sometimes alleviate a painful, or more properly an oppressive, constriction of my chest, by opiates; and have lately taken opium frequently, but the last, or two last times, in smaller quantities. My largest dose is three grains, and last night I took but two[709]. You will suggest these things (and they are all that I can call to mind) to Dr. Heberden.

I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON[710]. June 17, 1783.'

Two days after he wrote thus to Mrs. Thrale[711]:—

'On Monday, the 16th, I sat for my picture[712], and walked a considerable way with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed, and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom, when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted, I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God, that however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding. This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in Latin verse[713]. The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be very good: I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired in my faculties.

Soon after I perceived that I had suffered a paralytick stroke, and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy, and considered that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would excite less horrour than seems now to attend it.

In order to rouse the vocal organs, I took two drams. Wine has been celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself into violent motion, and I think repeated it; but all was vain. I then went to bed, and strange as it may seem, I think slept. When I saw light, it was time to contrive what I should do. Though God stopped my speech, he left me my hand; I enjoyed a mercy which was not granted to my dear friend Lawrence[714], who now perhaps overlooks me as I am writing, and rejoices that I have what he wanted. My first note was necessarily to my servant, who came in talking, and could not immediately comprehend why he should read what I put into his hands.

I then wrote a card to Mr. Allen, that I might have a discreet friend at hand, to act as occasion should require. In penning this note, I had some difficulty; my hand, I knew not how nor why, made wrong letters. I then wrote to Dr. Taylor to come to me, and bring Dr. Heberden; and I sent to Dr. Brocklesby, who is my neighbour. My physicians are very friendly, and give me great hopes; but you may imagine my situation. I have so far recovered my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer with no very imperfect articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was; but such an attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty.'


'DEAR SIR, I have had, indeed, a very heavy blow; but GOD, who yet spares my life, I humbly hope will spare my understanding, and restore my speech. As I am not at all helpless, I want no particular assistance, but am strongly affected by Mrs. Davies's tenderness; and when I think she can do me good, shall be very glad to call upon her. I had ordered friends to be shut out; but one or two have found the way in; and if you come you shall be admitted: for I know not whom I can see, that will bring more amusement on his tongue, or more kindness in his heart. I am, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON. June 18, 1783.'

It gives me great pleasure to preserve such a memorial of Johnson's regard for Mr. Davies, to whom I was indebted for my introduction to him[715]. He indeed loved Davies cordially, of which I shall give the following little evidence. One day when he had treated him with too much asperity. Tom, who was not without pride and spirit, went off in a passion; but he had hardly reached home, when Frank, who had been sent after him, delivered this note:—'Come, come, dear Davies, I am always sorry when we quarrel; send me word that we are friends.'


DEAR SIR, Your anxiety about my health is very friendly, and very agreeable with your general kindness. I have, indeed, had a very frightful blow. On the 17th of last month, about three in the morning, as near as I can guess, I perceived myself almost totally deprived of speech. I had no pain. My organs were so obstructed, that I could say no, but could scarcely say yes. I wrote the necessary directions, for it pleased GOD to spare my hand, and sent for Dr. Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby. Between the time in which I discovered my own disorder, and that in which I sent for the doctors, I had, I believe, in spite of my surprize and solicitude, a little sleep, and Nature began to renew its operations. They came, and gave the directions which the disease required, and from that time I have been continually improving in articulation. I can now speak, but the nerves are weak, and I cannot continue discourse long; but strength, I hope, will return. The physicians consider me as cured. I was last Sunday at church. On Tuesday I took an airing to Hampstead, and dined with THE CLUB[716], where Lord Palmerston was proposed, and, against my opinion, was rejected[717]. I designed to go next week with Mr. Langton to Rochester, where I purpose to stay about ten days, and then try some other air. I have many kind invitations. Your brother has very frequently enquired after me. Most of my friends have, indeed, been very attentive[718]. Thank dear Lord Hailes for his present.

I hope you found at your return every thing gay and prosperous, and your lady, in particular, quite recovered and confirmed. Pay her my respects.

I am, dear Sir, Your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON. London, July 3,



DEAR MADAM, The account which you give of your health is but melancholy. May it please GOD to restore you. My disease affected my speech, and still continues, in some degree, to obstruct my utterance; my voice is distinct enough for a while; but the organs being still weak are quickly weary: but in other respects I am, I think, rather better than I have lately been; and can let you know my state without the help of any other hand.

In the opinion of my friends, and in my own, I am gradually mending. The Physicians consider me as cured; and I had leave, four days ago, to wash the cantharides from my head. Last Tuesday I dined at THE CLUB.

I am going next week into Kent, and purpose to change the air frequently this summer; whether I shall wander so far as Staffordshire I cannot tell. I should be glad to come. Return my thanks to Mrs. Cobb, and Mr. Pearson, and all that have shewn attention to me.

Let us, my dear, pray for one another, and consider our sufferings as notices mercifully given us to prepare ourselves for another state.

I live now but in a melancholy way. My old friend Mr. Levett is dead, who lived with me in the house, and was useful and companionable; Mrs. Desmoulins is gone away[719]; and Mrs. Williams is so much decayed, that she can add little to another's gratifications. The world passes away, and we are passing with it; but there is, doubtless, another world, which will endure for ever. Let us all fit ourselves for it.

I am, &c., SAM. JOHNSON. London, July 5, 1783.'

Such was the general vigour of his constitution, that he recovered from this alarming and severe attack with wonderful quickness; so that in July he was able to make a visit to Mr. Langton at Rochester[720], where he passed about a fortnight, and made little excursions as easily as at any time of his life[721]. In August he went as far as the neighbourhood of Salisbury, to Heale[722], the seat of William Bowles, Esq[723]., a gentleman whom I have heard him praise for exemplary religious order in his family. In his diary I find a short but honourable mention of this visit: 'August 28, I came to Heale without fatigue. 30. I am entertained quite to my mind.'

'To DR. BROCKLESBY. Heale, near Salisbury, Aug. 29, 1783.

DEAR SIR, Without appearing to want a just sense of your kind attention, I cannot omit to give an account of the day which seemed to appear in some sort perilous. I rose at five and went out at six, and having reached Salisbury about nine[724], went forward a few miles in my friend's chariot. I was no more wearied with the journey, though it was a high-hung, rough coach, than I should have been forty years ago. We shall now see what air will do. The country is all a plain; and the house in which I am, so far as I can judge from my window, for I write before I have left my chamber, is sufficiently pleasant.

Be so kind as to continue your attention to Mrs. Williams; it is great consolation to the well, and still greater to the sick, that they find themselves not neglected; and I know that you will be desirous of giving comfort even where you have no great hope of giving help.

Since I wrote the former part of the letter, I find that by the course of the post I cannot send it before the thirty-first.

I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.'

While he was here he had a letter from Dr. Brocklesby, acquainting him of the death of Mrs. Williams, which affected him a good deal[725]. Though for several years her temper had not been complacent, she had valuable qualities, and her departure left a blank in his house[726]. Upon this occasion he, according to his habitual course of piety, composed a prayer[727].

I shall here insert a few particulars concerning him, with which I have been favoured by one of his friends[728].

'He had once conceived the design of writing the Life of Oliver Cromwell[729], saying, that he thought it must be highly curious to trace his extraordinary rise to the supreme power, from so obscure a beginning. He at length laid aside his scheme, on discovering that all that can be told of him is already in print; and that it is impracticable to procure any authentick information in addition to what the world is already possessed of[730].'

'He had likewise projected, but at what part of his life is not known, a work to shew how small a quantity of REAL FICTION there is in the world; and that the same images, with very little variation, have served all the authours who have ever written[731].'

'His thoughts in the latter part of his life were frequently employed on his deceased friends. He often muttered these, or such like sentences: "Poor man! and then he died."'

'Speaking of a certain literary friend, "He is a very pompous puzzling fellow, (said he); he lent me a letter once that somebody had written to him, no matter what it was about; but he wanted to have the letter back, and expressed a mighty value for it; he hoped it was to be met with again, he would not lose it for a thousand pounds. I layed my hand upon it soon afterwards, and gave it him. I believe I said, I was very glad to have met with it. O, then he did not know that it signified any thing. So you see, when the letter was lost it was worth a thousand pounds, and when it was found it was not worth a farthing."'

'The style and character of his conversation is pretty generally known; it was certainly conducted in conformity with a precept of Lord Bacon, but it is not clear, I apprehend, that this conformity was either perceived or intended by Johnson. The precept alluded to is as follows: "In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, severe, or ordinary, it is convenient to speak leisurely, and rather drawingly than hastily: because hasty speech confounds the memory, and oftentimes, besides the unseemliness, drives the man either to stammering, a non-plus, or harping on that which should follow; whereas a slow speech confirmeth the memory, addeth a conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a seemliness of speech and countenance[732]." Dr. Johnson's method of conversation was certainly calculated to excite attention, and to amuse and instruct, (as it happened,) without wearying or confusing his company. He was always most perfectly clear and perspicuous; and his language was so accurate, and his sentences so neatly constructed, that his conversation might have been all printed without any correction. At the same time, it was easy and natural; the accuracy of it had no appearance of labour, constraint, or stiffness; he seemed more correct than others, by the force of habit, and the customary exercises of his powerful mind[733].'

'He spoke often in praise of French literature. "The French are excellent in this, (he would say,) they have a book on every subject[734]." From what he had seen of them he denied them the praise of superiour politeness[735], and mentioned, with very visible disgust, the custom they have of spitting on the floors of their apartments. "This, (said the Doctor) is as gross a thing as can well be done; and one wonders how any man, or set of men, can persist in so offensive a practice for a whole day together; one should expect that the first effort towards civilization would remove it even among savages[736]."'

'Baxter's Reasons of the Christian Religion, he thought contained the best collection of the evidences of the divinity of the Christian system.'

'Chymistry[737] was always an interesting pursuit with Dr. Johnson. Whilst he was in Wiltshire, he attended some experiments that were made by a physician at Salisbury, on the new kinds of air[738]. In the course of the experiments frequent mention being made of Dr. Priestley, Dr. Johnson knit his brows, and in a stern manner enquired, "Why do we hear so much of Dr. Priestley[739]?" He was very properly answered, "Sir, because we are indebted to him for these important discoveries." On this Dr. Johnson appeared well content; and replied, "Well, well, I believe we are; and let every man have the honour he has merited."'

'A friend was one day, about two years before his death, struck with some instance of Dr. Johnson's great candour. "Well, Sir, (said he,) I will always say that you are a very candid man." "Will you," (replied the Doctor,) I doubt then you will be very singular. But, indeed, Sir, (continued he,) I look upon myself to be a man very much misunderstood. I am not an uncandid, nor am I a severe man. I sometimes say more than I mean, in jest; and people are apt to believe me serious: however, I am more candid than I was when I was younger. As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man, upon easier terms than I was formerly[740].'

On his return from Heale he wrote to Dr. Burney:—

'I came home on the 18th[741] at noon to a very disconsolate house. You and I have lost our friends[742]; but you have more friends at home. My domestick companion is taken from me. She is much missed, for her acquisitions were many, and her curiosity universal; so that she partook of every conversation[743]. I am not well enough to go much out; and to sit, and eat, or fast alone, is very wearisome. I always mean to send my compliments to all the ladies.'

His fortitude and patience met with severe trials during this year. The stroke of the palsy has been related circumstantially; but he was also afflicted with the gout, and was besides troubled with a complaint which not only was attended with immediate inconvenience, but threatened him with a chirurgical operation, from which most men would shrink. The complaint was a sarcocele, which Johnson bore with uncommon firmness, and was not at all frightened while he looked forward to amputation. He was attended by Mr. Pott and Mr. Cruikshank. I have before me a letter of the 30th of July this year, to Mr. Cruikshank, in which he says, 'I am going to put myself into your hands;' and another, accompanying a set of his Lives of the Poets, in which he says, 'I beg your acceptance of these volumes, as an acknowledgement of the great favours which you have bestowed on, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant.' I have in my possession several more letters from him to Mr. Cruikshank, and also to Dr. Mudge at Plymouth, which it would be improper to insert, as they are filled with unpleasing technical details. I shall, however, extract from his letters to Dr. Mudge such passages as shew either a felicity of expression, or the undaunted state of his mind.

'My conviction of your skill, and my belief of your friendship, determine me to intreat your opinion and advice.'—'In this state I with great earnestness desire you to tell me what is to be done. Excision is doubtless necessary to the cure, and I know not any means of palliation. The operation is doubtless painful; but is it dangerous? The pain I hope to endure with decency[744]; but I am loth to put life into much hazard.'—'By representing the gout as an antagonist to the palsy, you have said enough to make it welcome. This is not strictly the first fit, but I hope it is as good as the first; for it is the second that ever confined me; and the first was ten years ago[745], much less fierce and fiery than this.'—'Write, dear Sir, what you can to inform or encourage me. The operation is not delayed by any fears or objections of mine.'

To BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. 'Dear Sir, You may very reasonably charge me with insensibility of your kindness, and that of Lady Rothes, since I have suffered so much time to pass without paying any acknowledgement. I now, at last, return my thanks; and why I did it not sooner I ought to tell you. I went into Wiltshire as soon as I well could, and was there much employed in palliating my own malady. Disease produces much selfishness. A man in pain is looking after ease; and lets most other things go as chance shall dispose of them. In the mean time I have lost a companion[746], to whom I have had recourse for domestick amusement for thirty years, and whose variety of knowledge never was exhausted; and now return to a habitation vacant and desolate. I carry about a very troublesome and dangerous complaint, which admits no cure but by the chirurgical knife. Let me have your prayers. I am, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON. London, Sept. 29, 1783.'

Happily the complaint abated without his being put to the torture of amputation. But we must surely admire the manly resolution which he discovered while it hung over him.

In a letter to the same gentleman he writes, 'The gout has within these four days come upon me with a violence which I never experienced before. It made me helpless as an infant.' And in another, having mentioned Mrs. Williams, he says,—'whose death following that of Levett, has now made my house a solitude. She left her little substance to a charity-school. She is, I hope, where there is neither darkness, nor want, nor sorrow.'

I wrote to him, begging to know the state of his health, and mentioned that Baxter's Anacreon[747], 'which is in the library at Auchinleck, was, I find, collated by my father in 1727, with the MS. belonging to the University of Leyden, and he has made a number of Notes upon it. Would you advise me to publish a new edition of it?'

His answer was dated September 30:—

'You should not make your letters such rarities, when you know, or might know, the uniform state of my health. It is very long since I heard from you; and that I have not answered is a very insufficient reason for the silence of a friend. Your Anacreon is a very uncommon book; neither London nor Cambridge can supply a copy of that edition. Whether it should be reprinted, you cannot do better than consult Lord Hailes.—Besides my constant and radical disease, I have been for these ten days much harassed with the gout; but that has now remitted. I hope GOD will yet grant me a little longer life, and make me less unfit to appear before him.'

He this autumn received a visit from the celebrated Mrs. Siddons. He gives this account of it in one of his letters[748] to Mrs. Thrale:—

'Mrs. Siddons, in her visit to me, behaved with great modesty and propriety, and left nothing behind her to be censured or despised. Neither praise nor money, the two powerful corrupters of mankind, seem to have depraved her. I shall be glad to see her again. Her brother Kemble calls on me, and pleases me very well. Mrs. Siddons and I talked of plays; and she told me her intention of exhibiting this winter the characters of Constance, Catharine, and Isabella, in Shakspeare.'

Mr. Kemble has favoured me with the following minute of what passed at this visit:—

'When Mrs. Siddons came into the room, there happened to be no chair ready for her, which he observing, said with a smile, "Madam, you who so often occasion a want of seats to other people, will the more easily excuse the want of one yourself[749]."

Having placed himself by her, he with great good-humour entered upon a consideration of the English drama; and, among other inquiries, particularly asked her which of Shakspeare's characters she was most pleased with. Upon her answering that she thought the character of Queen Catharine, in Henry the Eighth, the most natural:—"I think so too, Madam, (said he;) and whenever you perform it, I will once more hobble out to the theatre myself[750]." Mrs. Siddons promised she would do herself the honour of acting his favourite part for him; but many circumstances happened to prevent the representation of King Henry the Eighth during the Doctor's life.

'In the course of the evening he thus gave his opinion upon the merits of some of the principal performers whom he remembered to have seen upon the stage. "Mrs. Porter,[751] in the vehemence of rage, and Mrs. Clive in the sprightliness of humour, I have never seen equalled. What Clive did best, she did better than Garrick; but could not do half so many things well; she was a better romp than any I ever saw in nature[752]. Pritchard[753], in common life, was a vulgar ideot; she would talk of her gownd: but, when she appeared upon the stage, seemed to be inspired by gentility and understanding. I once talked with Colley Cibber[754], and thought him ignorant of the principles of his art. Garrick, Madam, was no declaimer; there was not one of his own scene-shifters who could not have spoken To be, or not to be, better than he did[755]; yet he was the only actor I ever saw, whom I could call a master both in tragedy and comedy[756]; though I liked him best in comedy. A true conception of character, and natural expression of it, were his distinguished excellencies." Having expatiated, with his usual force and eloquence, on Mr. Garrick's extraordinary eminence as an actor, he concluded with this compliment to his social talents: "And after all, Madam, I thought him less to be envied on the stage than at the head of a table."'

Johnson, indeed, had thought more upon the subject of acting than might be generally supposed[757]. Talking of it one day to Mr. Kemble, he said, 'Are you, Sir, one of those enthusiasts who believe yourself transformed into the very character you represent?' Upon Mr. Kemble's answering that he had never felt so strong a persuasion himself[758]; 'To be sure not, Sir, (said Johnson;) the thing is impossible. And if Garrick really believed himself to be that monster, Richard the Third, he deserved to be hanged every time he performed it[759].'

A pleasing instance of the generous attention of one of his friends has been discovered by the publication of Mrs. Thrale's collection of Letters. In a letter to one of the Miss Thrales[760], he writes,—

'A friend, whose name I will tell when your mamma has tried to guess it, sent to my physician to enquire whether this long train of illness had brought me into difficulties for want of money, with an invitation to send to him for what occasion required. I shall write this night to thank him, having no need to borrow.'

And afterwards, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale,—

'Since you cannot guess, I will tell you, that the generous man was Gerard Hamilton. I returned him a very thankful and respectful letter[761].'

I applied to Mr. Hamilton, by a common friend, and he has been so obliging as to let me have Johnson's letter to him upon this occasion, to adorn my collection.



'Your kind enquiries after my affairs, and your generous offers, have been communicated to me by Dr. Brocklesby. I return thanks with great sincerity, having lived long enough to know what gratitude is due to such friendship; and entreat that my refusal may not be imputed to sullenness or pride. I am, indeed, in no want. Sickness is, by the generosity of my physicians, of little expence to me. But if any unexpected exigence should press me, you shall see, dear Sir, how cheerfully I can be obliged to so much liberality.

     'I am, Sir,
        Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,
                    SAM. JOHNSON.'

'November, 19, 1783[762].'

I find in this, as in former years, notices of his kind attention to Mrs. Gardiner[763], who, though in the humble station of a tallow-chandler upon Snow-hill, was a woman of excellent good sense, pious, and charitable. She told me, she had been introduced to him by Mrs. Masters[764], the poetess, whose volumes he revised, and, it is said, illuminated here and there with a ray of his own genius. Mrs. Gardiner was very zealous for the support of the Ladies' charity-school, in the parish of St. Sepulchre. It is confined to females; and, I am told, it afforded a hint for the story of Betty Broom in The Idler[765]. Johnson this year, I find, obtained for it a sermon from the late Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Shipley, whom he, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale[766], characterises as 'knowing and conversible;' and whom all who knew his Lordship, even those who differed from him in politicks, remember with much respect[767].

The Earl of Carlisle having written a tragedy, entitled The Fathers Revenge[768], some of his Lordship's friends applied to Mrs. Chapone[769] to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read and give his opinion of it[770], which he accordingly did, in a letter to that lady. Sir Joshua Reynolds having informed me that this letter was in Lord Carlisle's possession, though I was not fortunate enough to have the honour of being known to his Lordship, trusting to the general courtesy of literature, I wrote to him, requesting the favour of a copy of it, and to be permitted to insert it in my Life of Dr. Johnson. His Lordship was so good as to comply with my request, and has thus enabled me to enrich my work with a very fine piece of writing, which displays both the critical skill and politeness of my illustrious friend; and perhaps the curiosity which it will excite, may induce the noble and elegant Authour to gratify the world by the publication[771] of a performance, of which Dr. Johnson has spoken in such terms.



'By sending the tragedy to me a second time[772], I think that a very honourable distinction has been shewn me, and I did not delay the perusal, of which I am now to tell the effect.

'The construction of the play is not completely regular; the stage is too often vacant, and the scenes are not sufficiently connected. This, however, would be called by Dryden only a mechanical defect[773]; which takes away little from the power of the poem, and which is seen rather than felt.

'A rigid examiner of the diction might, perhaps, wish some words changed, and some lines more vigorously terminated. But from such petty imperfections what writer was ever free?

'The general form and force of the dialogue is of more importance. It seems to want that quickness of reciprocation which characterises the English drama, and is not always sufficiently fervid or animated.

'Of the sentiments I remember not one that I wished omitted. In the imagery I cannot forbear to distinguish the comparison of joy succeeding grief to light rushing on the eye accustomed to darkness. It seems to have all that can be desired to make it please. It is new, just, and delightful[774].

'With the characters, either as conceived or preserved, I have no fault to find; but was much inclined to congratulate a writer, who, in defiance of prejudice and fashion, made the Archbishop a good man, and scorned all thoughtless applause, which a vicious churchman would have brought him.

'The catastrophe is affecting. The Father and Daughter both culpable, both wretched, and both penitent, divide between them our pity and our sorrow.

'Thus, Madam, I have performed what I did not willingly undertake, and could not decently refuse. The noble writer will be pleased to remember, that sincere criticism ought to raise no resentment, because judgement is not under the controul of will; but involuntary criticism, as it has still less of choice, ought to be more remote from possibility of offence.

'I am, &c.,


'November 28, 1783.'

I consulted him on two questions of a very different nature: one, whether the unconstitutional influence exercised by the Peers of Scotland in the election of the representatives of the Commons[775], by means of fictitious qualifications, ought not to be resisted;—the other, What, in propriety and humanity, should be done with old horses unable to labour. I gave him some account of my life at Auchinleck: and expressed my satisfaction that the gentlemen of the county had, at two publick meetings, elected me their Praeses or Chairman[776].



'Like all other men who have great friends, you begin to feel the pangs of neglected merit; and all the comfort that I can give you is, by telling you that you have probably more pangs to feel, and more neglect to suffer. You have, indeed, begun to complain too soon; and I hope I am the only confidant of your discontent. Your friends have not yet had leisure to gratify personal kindness; they have hitherto been busy in strengthening their ministerial interest[777]. If a vacancy happens in Scotland, give them early intelligence; and as you can serve Government as powerfully as any of your probable competitors, you may make in some sort a warrantable claim.

'Of the exaltations and depressions of your mind you delight to talk, and I hate to hear. Drive all such fancies from you.

'On the day when I received your letter, I think, the foregoing page was written; to which, one disease or another has hindered me from making any additions. I am now a little better. But sickness and solitude press me very heavily. I could bear sickness better, if I were relieved from solitude[778].

'The present dreadful confusion of the publick[779] ought to make you wrap yourself up in your hereditary possessions, which, though less than you may wish, are more than you can want; and in an hour of religious retirement return thanks to GOD, who has exempted you from any strong temptation to faction, treachery, plunder[780], and disloyalty.

'As your neighbours distinguish you by such honours as they can bestow, content yourself with your station, without neglecting your profession. Your estate and the Courts will find you full employment; and your mind, well occupied, will be quiet.

'The usurpation of the nobility, for they apparently usurp all the influence they gain by fraud and misrepresentation, I think it certainly lawful, perhaps your duty, to resist. What is not their own they have only by robbery.

'Your question about the horses gives me more perplexity. I know not well what advice to give you. I can only recommend a rule which you do not want;—give as little pain as you can. I suppose that we have a right to their service while their strength lasts; what we can do with them afterwards I cannot so easily determine. But let us consider. Nobody denies that man has a right first to milk the cow, and to sheer the sheep, and then to kill them for his table. May he not, by parity of reason, first work a horse, and then kill him the easiest way, that he may have the means of another horse, or food for cows and sheep? Man is influenced in both cases by different motives of self-interest. He that rejects the one must reject the other.

'I am, &c.


'London, Dec. 24, 1783.'

'A happy and pious Christmas; and many happy years to you, your lady, and children.'

The late ingenious Mr. Mickle[781], some time before his death, wrote me a letter concerning Dr. Johnson, in which he mentions,—

'I was upwards of twelve years acquainted with him, was frequently in his company, always talked with ease to him, and can truly say, that I never received from him one rough word.'

In this letter he relates his having, while engaged in translating the Lusiad, had a dispute of considerable length with Johnson, who, as usual, declaimed upon the misery and corruption of a sea life, and used this expression:—'It had been happy for the world, Sir, if your hero Gama, Prince Henry of Portugal, and Columbus, had never been born, or that their schemes had never gone farther than their own imaginations.'

'This sentiment, (says Mr. Mickle,) which is to be found in his Introduction to the World displayed[782], I, in my Dissertation prefixed to the Lusiad, have controverted; and though authours are said to be bad judges of their own works[783], I am not ashamed to own to a friend, that that dissertation is my favourite above all that I ever attempted in prose. Next year, when the Lusiad was published, I waited on Dr. Johnson, who addressed me with one of his good-humoured smiles:—"Well, you have remembered our dispute about Prince Henry, and have cited me too. You have done your part very well indeed: you have made the best of your argument; but I am not convinced yet."

'Before publishing the Lusiad, I sent Mr. Hoole a proof of that part of the introduction, in which I make mention of Dr. Johnson, yourself, and other well-wishers to the work, begging it might be shewn to Dr. Johnson. This was accordingly done; and in place of the simple mention of him which I had made, he dictated to Mr. Hoole the sentence as it now stands[784].

'Dr. Johnson told me in 1772, that, about twenty years before that time, he himself had a design to translate the Lusiad, of the merit of which he spoke highly, but had been prevented by a number of other engagements.'

Mr. Mickle reminds me in this letter of a conversation, at dinner one day at Mr. Hoole's with Dr. Johnson, when Mr. Nicol the King's bookseller and I attempted to controvert the maxim, 'better that ten guilty should escape, than one innocent person suffer;' and were answered by Dr. Johnson with great power of reasoning and eloquence. I am very sorry that I have no record of that day[785]: but I well recollect my illustrious friend's having ably shewn, that unless civil institutions insure protection to the innocent, all the confidence which mankind should have in them would be lost.

I shall here mention what, in strict chronological arrangement, should have appeared in my account of last year; but may more properly be introduced here, the controversy having not been closed till this. The Reverend Mr. Shaw[786], a native of one of the Hebrides, having entertained doubts of the authenticity of the poems ascribed to Ossian, divested himself of national bigotry; and having travelled in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and also in Ireland, in order to furnish himself with materials for a Gaelick Dictionary, which he afterwards compiled[787], was so fully satisfied that Dr. Johnson was in the right upon the question, that he candidly published a pamphlet, stating his conviction and the proofs and reasons on which it was founded. A person at Edinburgh, of the name of Clark, answered this pamphlet with much zeal, and much abuse of its authour. Johnson took Mr. Shaw under his protection, and gave him his assistance in writing a reply, which has been admired by the best judges, and by many been considered as conclusive. A few paragraphs, which sufficiently mark their great Authour, shall be selected:—

'My assertions are, for the most part, purely negative: I deny the existence of Fingal, because in a long and curious peregrination through the Gaelick regions I have never been able to find it. What I could not see myself I suspect to be equally invisible to others; and I suspect with the more reason, as among all those who have seen it no man can shew it.

'Mr. Clark compares the obstinacy of those who disbelieve the genuineness of Ossian to a blind man, who should dispute the reality of colours, and deny that the British troops are cloathed in red. The blind man's doubt would be rational, if he did not know by experience that others have a power which he himself wants: but what perspicacity has Mr. Clark which Nature has withheld from me or the rest of mankind?

'The true state of the parallel must be this. Suppose a man, with eyes like his neighbours, was told by a boasting corporal, that the troops, indeed, wore red clothes for their ordinary dress, but that every soldier had likewise a suit of black velvet, which he put on when the King reviews them. This he thinks strange, and desires to see the fine clothes, but finds nobody in forty thousand men that can produce either coat or waistcoat. One, indeed, has left them in his chest at Port Mahon; another has always heard that he ought to have velvet clothes somewhere; and a third has heard somebody say, that soldiers ought to wear velvet. Can the enquirer be blamed if he goes away believing that a soldier's red coat is all that he has?

'But the most obdurate incredulity may be shamed or silenced by acts. To overpower contradictions, let the soldier shew his velvet-coat, and the Fingalist the original of Ossian[788].

'The difference between us and the blind man is this:—the blind man is unconvinced, because he cannot see; and we, because though we can see, we find that nothing can be shown.'

Notwithstanding the complication of disorders under which Johnson now laboured, he did not resign himself to despondency and discontent, but with wisdom and spirit endeavoured to console and amuse his mind with as many innocent enjoyments as he could procure. Sir John Hawkins has mentioned the cordiality with which he insisted that such of the members of the old club in Ivy-lane[789] as survived, should meet again and dine together, which they did, twice at a tavern and once at his house[790]: and in order to insure himself society in the evening for three days in the week[791], he instituted a club at the Essex Head, in Essex-street, then kept by Samuel Greaves, an old servant of Mr. Thrale's.



'It is inconvenient to me to come out, I should else have waited on you with an account of a little evening Club which we are establishing in Essex-street, in the Strand, and of which you are desired to be one. It will be held at the Essex Head, now kept by an old servant of Thrale's. The company is numerous, and, as you will see by the list, miscellaneous. The terms are lax, and the expences light. Mr. Barry was adopted by Dr. Brocklesby, who joined with me in forming the plan. We meet thrice a week, and he who misses forfeits two-pence[792].

'If you are willing to become a member, draw a line under your name. Return the list. We meet for the first time on Monday at eight.'

  'I am, &c.
     'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Dec. 4, 1783.'

It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this Club. But when I mention only Mr. Daines Barrington, Dr. Brocklesby, Mr. Murphy, Mr. John Nichols, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Paradise, Dr. Horsley, Mr. Windham[793], I shall sufficiently obviate the misrepresentation of it by Sir John Hawkins, as if it had been a low ale-house association, by which Johnson was degraded[794]. Johnson himself, like his namesake Old Ben[795], composed the Rules of his Club[796].

In the end of this year he was seized with a spasmodick asthma of such violence, that he was confined to the house in great pain, being sometimes obliged to sit all night in his chair, a recumbent posture being so hurtful to his respiration, that he could not endure lying in bed; and there came upon him at the same time that oppressive and fatal disease, a dropsy. It was a very severe winter, which probably aggravated his complaints; and the solitude in which Mr. Levett and Mrs. Williams had left him, rendered his life very gloomy. Mrs. Desmoulins[797], who still lived, was herself so very ill, that she could contribute very little to his relief[798]. He, however, had none of that unsocial shyness which we commonly see in people afflicted with sickness. He did not hide his head from the world, in solitary abstraction; he did not deny himself to the visits of his friends and acquaintances; but at all times, when he was not overcome by sleep, was ready for conversation as in his best days[799].



'You may perhaps think me negligent that I have not written to you again[800] upon the loss of your brother; but condolences and consolations are such common and such useless things, that the omission of them is no great crime: and my own diseases occupy my mind, and engage my care. My nights are miserably restless, and my days, therefore, are heavy. I try, however, to hold up my head as high as I can[801].

'I am sorry that your health is impaired; perhaps the spring and the summer may, in some degree, restore it: but if not, we must submit to the inconveniences of time, as to the other dispensations of Eternal Goodness. Pray for me, and write to me, or let Mr. Pearson write for you.

'I am, &c.


'London, Nov. 29, 1783.'

1784: Aetat. 75.—And now I am arrived at the last year of the life of SAMUEL JOHNSON, a year in which, although passed in severe indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of those wondrous powers of mind, which raised him so high in the intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were in no respect inferiour to those of former years.

The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most minute curiosities of literature.



'There is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the booksellers on the bridge[802], and which I must entreat you to procure me. They are called Burton's Books[803]; the title of one is Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England. I believe there are about five or six of them; they seem very proper to allure backward readers; be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them with the best printed edition of Baxter's Call to the Unconverted.

'I am, &c.


'Jan. 6, 1784.'



'I was very sorry not to see you when you were so kind as to call on me; but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good natured, to disoblige them, is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured with another visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will take all the measures that I can to be pretty well at that time[804].

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Jan. 21, 1784.'

His attention to the Essex-Head Club appears from the following letter to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a great regard.



'You will receive a requisition, according to the rules of the Club, to be at the house as President of the night. This turn comes once a month, and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You were enrolled in the Club by my invitation, and I ought to introduce you; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly supply my place as introductor, or yours as President. I hope in milder weather to be a very constant attendant.

'I am, Sir, &c.


'Jan. 27, 1784.'

'You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of three-pence, that is, nine pence a week.'

On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his health, and enclosing my Letter to the People of Scotland, on the present state of the nation[805].

'I trust, (said I,) that you will be liberal enough to make allowance for my differing from you on two points, (the Middlesex Election, and the American War[806]) when my general principles of government are according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of ministerial power.'



'I hear of many enquiries which your kindness has disposed you to make after me[807]. I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the imagination of its length hindered me from beginning. I will, therefore, content myself with a shorter.

'Having promoted the institution of a new Club in the neighbourhood, at the house of an old servant of Thrale's, I went thither to meet the company, and was seized with a spasmodick asthma so violent, that with difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground upon me; my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I should be content if I could keep there, but I am afraid that it will soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious. And yet I am extremely afraid of dying.

'My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected from vernal breezes and summer suns[808]. If my life is prolonged to autumn, I should be glad to try a warmer climate; though how to travel with a diseased body, without a companion to conduct me, and with very little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in Italy[809]; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died; but he was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.

'I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with disease his neglect of disputes, politicks, and pamphlets[810]. Let me have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and young ones. Ask your physicians about my case: and desire Sir Alexander Dick[811] to write me his opinion.

'I am, dear Sir, &c.


'Feb. 11, 1784.'


'I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received, by the mercy of GOD, sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the discharge of twenty pints of water[812]. Whether I shall continue free, or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me.

'Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care but how to prepare for it: what we know amiss in ourselves let us make haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of GOD, and the intercession of our Saviour. I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 23, 1784.'


'I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet; and you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great indignation at the indecency with which the King is every day treated. Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the constitution, very properly produced and applied. It will certainly raise your character[813], though perhaps it may not make you a Minister of State.

'I desire you to see Mrs. Stewart once again, and tell her, that in the letter-case was a letter relating to me, for which I will give her, if she is willing to give it me, another guinea[814]. The letter is of consequence only to me.

'I am, dear Sir, &c. 'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'London, Feb. 27, 1784.'

In consequence of Johnson's request that I should ask our physicians about his case, and desire Sir Alexander Dick to send his opinion, I transmitted him a letter from that very amiable Baronet, then in his eighty-first year, with his faculties as entire as ever; and mentioned his expressions to me in the note accompanying it: 'With my most affectionate wishes for Dr. Johnson's recovery, in which his friends, his country, and all mankind have so deep a stake:' and at the same time a full opinion upon his case by Dr. Gillespie, who, like Dr. Cullen, had the advantage of having passed through the gradations of surgery and pharmacy, and by study and practice had attained to such skill, that my father settled on him two hundred pounds a year for five years, and fifty pounds a year during his life, as an honorarium to secure his particular attendance. The opinion was conveyed in a letter to me, beginning, 'I am sincerely sorry for the bad state of health your very learned and illustrious friend, Dr. Johnson, labours under at present.'


'Presently after I had sent away my last letter, I received your kind medical packet. I am very much obliged both to you and your physicians for your kind attention to my disease. Dr. Gillespie has sent me an excellent consilium medicum, all solid practical experimental knowledge. I am at present, in the opinion of my physicians, (Dr. Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby,) as well as my own, going on very hopefully. I have just begun to take vinegar of squills. The powder hurt my stomach so much, that it could not be continued.

'Return Sir Alexander Dick my sincere thanks for his kind letter; and bring with you the rhubarb[815] which he so tenderly offers me.

'I hope dear Mrs. Boswell is now quite well, and that no evil, either real or imaginary, now disturbs you.

'I am, &c.


'London, March 2, 1784.'

I also applied to three of the eminent physicians who had chairs in our celebrated school of medicine at Edinburgh, Doctors Cullen, Hope, and Monro, to each of whom I sent the following letter:—


'Dr. Johnson has been very ill for some time; and in a letter of anxious apprehension he writes to me, "Ask your physicians about my case."

'This, you see, is not authority for a regular consultation: but I have no doubt of your readiness to give your advice to a man so eminent, and who, in his Life of Garth, has paid your profession a just and elegant compliment: "I believe every man has found in physicians great liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusions[816] of beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art, where there is no hope of lucre."

'Dr. Johnson is aged seventy-four. Last summer he had a stroke of the palsy, from which he recovered almost entirely. He had, before that, been troubled with a catarrhous cough. This winter he was seized with a spasmodick asthma, by which he has been confined to his house for about three months. Dr. Brocklesby writes to me, that upon the least admission of cold, there is such a constriction upon his breast, that he cannot lie down in his bed, but is obliged to sit up all night, and gets rest and sometimes sleep, only by means of laudanum and syrup of poppies; and that there are oedematous tumours on his legs and thighs. Dr. Brocklesby trusts a good deal to the return of mild weather. Dr. Johnson says, that a dropsy gains ground upon him; and he seems to think that a warmer climate would do him good. I understand he is now rather better, and is using vinegar of squills. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir,

'Your most obedient humble servant,


'March 7, 1784.'

All of them paid the most polite attention to my letter, and its venerable object. Dr. Cullen's words concerning him were, 'It would give me the greatest pleasure to be of any service to a man whom the publick properly esteem, and whom I esteem and respect as much as I do Dr. Johnson.' Dr. Hope's, 'Few people have a better claim on me than your friend, as hardly a day passes that I do not ask his opinion about this or that word.' Dr. Monro's, 'I most sincerely join you in sympathizing with that very worthy and ingenious character, from whom his country has derived much instruction and entertainment.'

Dr. Hope corresponded with his friend Dr. Brocklesby. Doctors Cullen and Monro wrote their opinions and prescriptions to me, which I afterwards carried with me to London, and, so far as they were encouraging, communicated to Johnson. The liberality on one hand, and grateful sense of it on the other, I have great satisfaction in recording.


'I am too much pleased with the attention which you and your dear lady[817] show to my welfare, not to be diligent in letting you know the progress which I make towards health. The dropsy, by GOD'S blessing, has now run almost totally away by natural evacuation; and the asthma, if not irritated by cold, gives me little trouble. While I am writing this, I have not any sensation of debility or disease. But I do not yet venture out, having been confined to the house from the thirteenth of December, now a quarter of a year.

'When it will be fit for me to travel as far as Auchinleck, I am not able to guess; but such a letter as Mrs. Boswell's might draw any man, not wholly motionless, a great way. Pray tell the dear lady how much her civility and kindness have touched and gratified me.

'Our parliamentary tumults have now begun to subside, and the King's authority is in some measure re-established[818]. Mr. Pitt will have great power: but you must remember, that what he has to give must, at least for some time, be given to those who gave, and those who preserve, his power. A new minister can sacrifice little to esteem or friendship; he must, till he is settled, think only of extending his interest.

'If you come hither through Edinburgh, send for Mrs. Stewart, and give from me another guinea for the letter in the old case, to which I shall not be satisfied with my claim, till she gives it me.

'Please to bring with you Baxter's Anacreon[819]; and if you procure heads of Hector Boece[820], the historian, and Arthur Johnston[821], the poet, I will put them in my room[822]; or any other of the fathers of Scottish literature.

'I wish you an easy and happy journey, and hope I need not tell you that you will be welcome to, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, humble servant,


'London, March 18, 1784.'

I wrote to him, March 28, from York, informing him that I had a high gratification in the triumph of monarchical principles over aristocratical influence, in that great country, in an address to the King[823]; that I was thus far on my way to him, but that news of the dissolution of Parliament having arrived, I was to hasten back to my own county, where I had carried an Address to his Majesty by a great majority, and had some intention of being a candidate to represent the county in Parliament.



'You could do nothing so proper as to haste back when you found the Parliament dissolved. With the influence which your Address must have gained you, it may reasonably be expected that your presence will be of importance, and your activity of effect.

'Your solicitude for me gives me that pleasure which every man feels from the kindness of such a friend: and it is with delight I relieve it by telling, that Dr. Brocklesby's account is true, and that I am, by the blessing of GOD, wonderfully relieved.

'You are entering upon a transaction which requires much prudence. You must endeavour to oppose without exasperating; to practise temporary hostility, without producing enemies for life. This is, perhaps, hard to be done; yet it has been done by many, and seems most likely to be effected by opposing merely upon general principles, without descending to personal or particular censures or objections. One thing I must enjoin you, which is seldom observed in the conduct of elections;—I must entreat you to be scrupulous in the use of strong liquors. One night's drunkenness may defeat the labours of forty days well employed. Be firm, but not clamorous; be active, but not malicious; and you may form such an interest, as may not only exalt yourself, but dignify your family.

'We are, as you may suppose, all busy here. Mr. Fox resolutely stands for Westminster, and his friends say will carry the election[824]. However that be, he will certainly have a seat[825]. Mr. Hoole has just told me, that the city leans towards the King.

'Let me hear, from time to time, how you are employed, and what progress you make.

'Make dear Mrs. Boswell, and all the young Boswells, the sincere compliments of, Sir, your affectionate humble servant,


'London, March 30, 1784.'

To Mr. Langton he wrote with that cordiality which was suitable to the long friendship which had subsisted between him and that gentleman[826].

March 27. 'Since you left me, I have continued in my own opinion, and in Dr, Brocklesby's, to grow better with respect to all my formidable and dangerous distempers: though to a body battered and shaken as mine has lately been, it is to be feared that weak attacks may be sometimes mischievous. I have, indeed, by standing carelessly at an open window, got a very troublesome cough, which it has been necessary to appease by opium, in larger quantities than I like to take, and I have not found it give way so readily as I expected; its obstinacy, however, seems at last disposed to submit to the remedy, and I know not whether I should then have a right to complain of any morbid sensation. My asthma is, I am afraid, constitutional and incurable; but it is only occasional, and unless it be excited by labour or by cold, gives me no molestation, nor does it lay very close siege to life; for Sir John Floyer[827], whom the physical race consider as authour of one of the best books upon it, panted on to ninety, as was supposed; and why were we content with supposing a fact so interesting, of a man so conspicuous? because he corrupted, at perhaps seventy or eighty, the register, that he might pass for younger than he was. He was not much less than eighty, when to a man of rank who modestly asked his age, he answered, "Go look;" though he was in general a man of civility and elegance.

'The ladies, I find, are at your house all well, except Miss Langton, who will probably soon recover her health by light suppers. Let her eat at dinner as she will, but not take a full stomach to bed. Pay my sincere respects to dear Miss Langton in Lincolnshire, let her know that I mean not to break our league of friendship, and that I have a set of Lives for her, when I have the means of sending it.'

April 8. 'I am still disturbed by my cough; but what thanks have I not to pay, when my cough is the most painful sensation that I feel? and from that I expect hardly to be released, while winter continues to gripe us with so much pertinacity. The year has now advanced eighteen days beyond the equinox, and still there is very little remission of the cold. When warm weather comes, which surely must come at last, I hope it will help both me and your young lady.

'The man so busy about addresses is neither more nor less than our own Boswell, who had come as far as York towards London, but turned back on the dissolution, and is said now to stand for some place. Whether to wish him success, his best friends hesitate.

'Let me have your prayers for the completion of my recovery: I am now better than I ever expected to have been. May GOD add to his mercies the grace that may enable me to use them according to his will. My compliments to all.'

April 13. 'I had this evening a note from Lord Portmore[828], desiring that I would give you an account of my health. You might have had it with less circumduction. I am, by GOD'S blessing, I believe, free from all morbid sensations, except a cough, which is only troublesome. But I am still weak, and can have no great hope of strength till the weather shall be softer. The summer, if it be kindly, will, I hope, enable me to support the winter. GOD, who has so wonderfully restored me, can preserve me in all seasons.

'Let me enquire in my turn after the state of your family, great and little. I hope Lady Rothes and Miss Langton are both well. That is a good basis of content. Then how goes George on with his studies? How does Miss Mary? And how does my own Jenny? I think I owe Jenny a letter, which I will take care to pay. In the mean time tell her that I acknowledge the debt.

'Be pleased to make my compliments to the ladies. If Mrs. Langton comes to London, she will favour me with a visit, for I am not well enough to go out.'



'Mr. Hoole has told me with what benevolence you listened to a request which I was almost afraid to make, of leave to a young painter[830] to attend you from time to time in your painting-room, to see your operations, and receive your instructions[831].

'The young man has perhaps good parts, but has been without a regular education. He is my god-son, and therefore I interest myself in his progress and success, and shall think myself much favoured if I receive from you a permission to send him.

'My health is, by GOD'S blessing, much restored, but I am not yet allowed by my physicians to go abroad; nor, indeed, do I think myself yet able to endure the weather.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 5, 1784.'



'The bearer is my god-son, whom I take the liberty of recommending to your kindness; which I hope he will deserve by his respect to your excellence, and his gratitude for your favours.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 10, 1784.'



'I am very much obliged by your civilities to my god-son, but must beg of you to add to them the favour of permitting him to see you paint, that he may know how a picture is begun, advanced and completed.

'If he may attend you in a few of your operations, I hope he will shew that the benefit has been properly conferred, both by his proficiency and his gratitude. At least I shall consider you as enlarging your kindness to, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'May 31, 1784.'



'What can be the reason that I hear nothing from you? I hope nothing disables you from writing. What I have seen, and what I have felt, gives me reason to fear every thing. Do not omit giving me the comfort of knowing, that after all my losses I have yet a friend left.

'I want every comfort. My life is very solitary and very cheerless. Though it has pleased GOD wonderfully to deliver me from the dropsy, I am yet very weak, and have not passed the door since the 13th of December[832]. I hope for some help from warm weather, which will surely come in time.

'I could not have the consent of the physicians to go to church yesterday; I therefore received the holy sacrament at home, in the room where I communicated with dear Mrs. Williams, a little before her death. O! my friend, the approach of death is very dreadful. I am afraid to think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is vain to look round and round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy that he who has lived to-day may live to-morrow. But let us learn to derive our hope only from GOD.

'In the mean time, 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. Do not neglect, dear Sir,

'Yours affectionately,

'SAM. JOHNSON[833].'

'London, Easter-Monday,

April 12, 1784.'

What follows is a beautiful specimen of his gentleness and complacency to a young lady his god-child, one of the daughters of his friend Mr. Langton, then I think in her seventh year. He took the trouble to write it in a large round hand, nearly resembling printed characters, that she might have the satisfaction of reading it herself. The original lies before me, but shall be faithfully restored to her; and I dare say will be preserved by her as a jewel as long as she lives[834].



'I am sorry that your pretty letter has been so long without being answered; but, when I am not pretty well, I do not always write plain enough for young ladies. I am glad, my dear, to see that you write so well, and hope that you mind your pen, your book, and your needle, for they are all necessary. Your books will give you knowledge, and make you respected; and your needle will find you useful employment when you do not care to read. When you are a little older, I hope you will be very diligent in learning arithmetick[835], and, above all, that through your whole life you will carefully say your prayers, and read your Bible.

'I am, my dear,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 10, 1784.'

On Wednesday, May 5, I arrived in London, and next morning had the pleasure to find Dr. Johnson greatly recovered. I but just saw him; for a coach was waiting to carry him to Islington, to the house of his friend the Reverend Mr. Strahan, where he went sometimes for the benefit of good air, which, notwithstanding his having formerly laughed at the general opinion upon the subject, he now acknowledged was conducive to health.

One morning afterwards, when I found him alone, he communicated to me, with solemn earnestness, a very remarkable circumstance which had happened in the course of his illness, when he was much distressed by the dropsy. He had shut himself up, and employed a day in particular exercises of religion,—fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On a sudden he obtained extraordinary relief, for which he looked up to Heaven with grateful devotion. He made no direct inference from this fact; but from his manner of telling it, I could perceive that it appeared to him as something more than an incident in the common course of events[836]. For my own part, I have no difficulty to avow that cast of thinking, which by many modern pretenders to wisdom is called superstitious. But here I think even men of dry rationality may believe, that there was an intermediate[837] interposition of Divine Providence, and that 'the fervent prayer of this righteous man[838]' availed[839].

On Sunday, May 9, I found Colonel Valiancy, the celebrated antiquarian and Engineer of Ireland, with him. On Monday, the 10th, I dined with him at Mr. Paradise's, where was a large company; Mr. Bryant, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Hawkins Browne, &c. On Thursday, the 13th, I dined with him at Mr. Joddrel's, with another large company; the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Monboddo[840], Mr. Murphy, &c.

On Saturday, May 15[841], I dined with him at Dr. Brocklesby's, where were Colonel Vallancy, Mr. Murphy, and that ever-cheerful companion Mr. Devaynes, apothecary to his Majesty. Of these days, and others on which I saw him, I have no memorials, except the general recollection of his being able and animated in conversation, and appearing to relish society as much as the youngest man. I find only these three small particulars:—When a person was mentioned, who said, 'I have lived fifty-one years in this world without having had ten minutes of uneasiness;' he exclaimed, 'The man who says so, lies: he attempts to impose on human credulity.' The Bishop of Exeter in vain observed, that men were very different. His Lordship's manner was not impressive, and I learnt afterwards that Johnson did not find out that the person who talked to him was a Prelate; if he had, I doubt not that he would have treated him with more respect; for once talking of George Psalmanazar[842], whom he reverenced for his piety, he said, 'I should as soon think of contradicting a BISHOP[843].' One of the company[844] provoked him greatly by doing what he could least of all bear, which was quoting something of his own writing, against what he then maintained. 'What, Sir, (cried the gentleman,) do you say to

     "The busy day, the peaceful night,
      Unfelt, uncounted, glided by845?"'—

Johnson finding himself thus presented as giving an instance of a man who had lived without uneasiness, was much offended, for he looked upon such a quotation as unfair. His anger burst out in an unjustifiable retort, insinuating that the gentleman's remark was a sally of ebriety; 'Sir, there is one passion I would advise you to command: when you have drunk out that glass, don't drink another[846].' Here was exemplified what Goldsmith said of him, with the aid of a very witty image from one of Cibber's Comedies: 'There is no arguing with Johnson; for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it[847].' Another was this: when a gentleman[848] of eminence in the literary world was violently censured for attacking people by anonymous paragraphs in newspapers; he, from the spirit of contradiction as I thought, took up his defence, and said, 'Come, come, this is not so terrible a crime; he means only to vex them a little. I do not say that I should do it; but there is a great difference between him and me; what is fit for Hephaestion is not fit for Alexander.' Another, when I told him that a young and handsome Countess had said to me, 'I should think that to be praised by Dr. Johnson would make one a fool all one's life;' and that I answered, 'Madam, I shall make him a fool to-day, by repeating this to him,' he said, 'I am too old to be made a fool; but if you say I am made a fool, I shall not deny it. I am much pleased with a compliment, especially from a pretty woman.'

On the evening of Saturday, May 15, he was in fine spirits, at our Essex-Head Club. He told us, 'I dined yesterday at Mrs. Garrick's, with Mrs. Carter[849], Miss Hannah More, and Miss Fanny Burney. Three such women are not to be found: I know not where I could find a fourth, except Mrs. Lennox, who is superiour to them all[850].' BOSWELL. 'What! had you them all to yourself, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'I had them all as much as they were had; but it might have been better had there been more company there.' BOSWELL. 'Might not Mrs. Montagu have been a fourth?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, Mrs. Montagu does not make a trade of her wit; but Mrs. Montagu is a very extraordinary woman; she has a constant stream of conversation, and it is always impregnated; it has always meaning[851].' BOSWELL. 'Mr. Burke has a constant stream of conversation.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; if a man were to go by chance at the same time with Burke under a shed, to shun a shower, he would say—"this is an extraordinary man." If Burke should go into a stable to see his horse drest, the ostler would say—we have had an extraordinary man here[852].' BOSWELL. 'Foote was a man who never failed in conversation. If he had gone into a stable—' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if he had gone into a stable, the ostler would have said, here has been a comical fellow; but he would not have respected him.' BOSWELL. 'And, Sir, the ostler would have answered him, would have given him as good as he brought, as the common saying is.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; and Foote would have answered the ostler.—When Burke does not descend to be merry, his conversation is very superiour indeed. There is no proportion between the powers which he shews in serious talk and in jocularity. When he lets himself down to that, he is in the kennel[853].' I have in another place[854] opposed, and I hope with success, Dr. Johnson's very singular and erroneous notion as to Mr. Burke's pleasantry. Mr. Windham now said low to me, that he differed from our great friend in this observation; for that Mr. Burke was often very happy in his merriment. It would not have been right for either of us to have contradicted Johnson at this time, in a Society all of whom did not know and value Mr. Burke as much as we did. It might have occasioned something more rough, and at any rate would probably have checked the flow of Johnson's good-humour. He called to us with a sudden air of exultation, as the thought started into his mind, 'O! Gentlemen, I must tell you a very great thing. The Empress of Russia has ordered the Rambler to be translated into the Russian language[855]: so I shall be read on the banks of the Wolga. Horace boasts that his fame would extend as far as the banks of the Rhone[856]; now the Wolga is farther from me than the Rhone was from Horace.' BOSWELL. 'You must certainly be pleased with this, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'I am pleased Sir, to be sure. A man is pleased to find he has succeeded in that which he has endeavoured to do.'

One of the company mentioned his having seen a noble person driving in his carriage, and looking exceedingly well, notwithstanding his great age. JOHNSON. 'Ah, Sir; that is nothing. Bacon observes, that a stout healthy old man is like a tower undermined.'

On Sunday, May 16, I found him alone; he talked of Mrs. Thrale with much concern, saying, 'Sir, she has done every thing wrong, since Thrale's bridle was off her neck;' and was proceeding to mention some circumstances which have since been the subject of publick discussion[857], when he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Salisbury.

Dr. Douglas, upon this occasion, refuted a mistaken notion which is very common in Scotland, that the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church of England, though duly enforced, is insufficient to preserve the morals of the clergy, inasmuch as all delinquents may be screened by appealing to the Convocation, which being never authorized by the King to sit for the dispatch of business, the appeal never can be heard. Dr. Douglas observed, that this was founded upon ignorance; for that the Bishops have sufficient power to maintain discipline, and that the sitting of the Convocation was wholly immaterial in this respect, it being not a Court of judicature, but like a parliament, to make Canons and regulations as times may require.

Johnson, talking of the fear of death, said, 'Some people are not afraid, because they look upon salvation as the effect of an absolute decree, and think they feel in themselves the marks of sanctification. Others, and those the most rational in my opinion, look upon salvation as conditional; and as they never can be sure that they have complied with the conditions, they are afraid[858].'

In one of his little manuscript diaries, about this time, I find a short notice, which marks his amiable disposition more certainly than a thousand studied declarations.—'Afternoon spent cheerfully and elegantly, I hope without offence to GOD or man; though in no holy duty, yet in the general exercise and cultivation of benevolence.'

On Monday, May 17, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were Colonel Valiancy, the Reverend Dr. Gibbons[859], and Mr. Capel Lofft, who, though a most zealous Whig, has a mind so full of learning and knowledge, and so much exercised in various departments, and withal so much liberality, that the stupendous powers of the literary Goliath, though they did not frighten this little David of popular spirit, could not but excite his admiration[860]. There was also Mr. Braithwaite of the Post-office, that amiable and friendly man, who, with modest and unassuming manners, has associated with many of the wits of the age. Johnson was very quiescent to-day. Perhaps too I was indolent. I find nothing more of him in my notes, but that when I mentioned that I had seen in the King's library sixty-three editions of my favourite Thomas à Kempis, amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabick, and Armenian, he said, he thought it unnecessary to collect many editions of a book, which were all the same, except as to the paper and print; he would have the original, and all the translations, and all the editions which had any variations in the text. He approved of the famous collection of editions of Horace by Douglas, mentioned by Pope[861], who is said to have had a closet filled with them; and he added, 'every man should try to collect one book in that manner, and present it to a publick library.'

On Tuesday, May 18, I saw him for a short time in the morning. I told him that the mob had called out, as the King passed[862], 'No Fox—No Fox,' which I did not like. He said, 'They were right, Sir.' I said, I thought not; for it seemed to be making Mr. Fox the King's competitor[863]. There being no audience, so that there could be no triumph in a victory, he fairly agreed with me[864]. I said it might do very well, if explained thus:—'Let us have no Fox;' understanding it as a prayer to his Majesty not to appoint that gentleman minister.

On Wednesday, May 19, I sat a part of the evening with him, by ourselves. I observed, that the death of our friends might be a consolation against the fear of our own dissolution, because we might have more friends in the other world than in this. He perhaps felt this as a reflection upon his apprehension as to death; and said, with heat, 'How can a man know where his departed friends are, or whether they will be his friends in the other world[865]? How many friendships have you known formed upon principles of virtue? Most friendships are formed by caprice or by chance, mere confederacies in vice or leagues in folly.'

We talked of our worthy friend Mr. Langton. He said, 'I know not who will go to Heaven if Langton does not. Sir, I could almost say, Sit anima mea cum Langtono' I mentioned a very eminent friend[866] a virtuous man. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but —— has not the evangelical virtue of Langton. ——, I am afraid, would not scruple to pick up a wench.'

He however charged Mr. Langton with what he thought want of judgement upon an interesting occasion. 'When I was ill, (said he) I desired he would tell me sincerely in what he thought my life was faulty. Sir, he brought me a sheet of paper, on which he had written down several texts of Scripture, recommending christian charity. And when I questioned him what occasion I had given for such an animadversion, all that he could say amounted to this,—that I sometimes contradicted people in conversation. Now what harm does it do to any man to be contradicted?' BOSWELL. 'I suppose he meant the manner of doing it; roughly,—and harshly.' JOHNSON. 'And who is the worse for that?' BOSWELL. 'It hurts people of weak nerves.' JOHNSON. 'I know no such weak-nerved people[867].' Mr. Burke, to whom I related this conference, said, 'It is well, if when a man comes to die, he has nothing heavier upon his conscience than having been a little rough in conversation.'

Johnson, at the time when the paper was presented to him, though at first pleased with the attention of his friend, whom he thanked in an earnest manner, soon exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone, 'What is your drift, Sir?' Sir Joshua Reynolds pleasantly observed, that it was a scene for a comedy, to see a penitent get into a violent passion and belabour his confessor[868].

I have preserved no more of his conversation at the times when I saw him during the rest of this month, till Sunday, the 30th of May, when I met him in the evening at Mr. Hoole's, where there was a large company both of ladies and gentlemen; Sir James Johnston[869] happened to say, that he paid no regard to the arguments of counsel at the bar of the House of Commons, because they were paid for speaking. 'JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, argument is argument. You cannot help paying regard to their arguments, if they are good. If it were testimony, you might disregard it, if you knew that it were purchased. There is a beautiful image in Bacon[870] upon this subject: testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot by a child.'

He had dined that day at Mr. Hoole's, and Miss Helen Maria Williams being expected in the evening, Mr. Hoole put into his hands her beautiful Ode on the Peace[871]: Johnson read it over, and when this elegant and accomplished young lady[872] was presented to him, he took her by the hand in the most courteous manner, and repeated the finest stanza of her poem; this was the most delicate and pleasing compliment he could pay. Her respectable friend, Dr. Kippis, from whom I had this anecdote, was standing by, and was not a little gratified.

Miss Williams told me, that the only other time she was fortunate enough to be in Dr. Johnson's company, he asked her to sit down by him, which she did, and upon her enquiring how he was, he answered, 'I am very ill indeed, Madam. I am very ill even when you are near me; what should I be were you at a distance?'[873]

He had now a great desire to go to Oxford, as his first jaunt after his illness; we talked of it for some days, and I had promised to accompany him. He was impatient, and fretful to-night, because I did not at once agree to go with him on Thursday. When I considered how ill he had been, and what allowance should be made for the influence of sickness upon his temper, I resolved to indulge him, though with some inconvenience to myself, as I wished to attend the musical meeting in honour of Handel[874], in Westminster-Abbey, on the following Saturday.

In the midst of his own diseases and pains, he was ever compassionate to the distresses of others, and actively earnest in procuring them aid, as appears from a note to Sir Joshua Reynolds, of June, in these words:—'I am ashamed to ask for some relief for a poor man, to whom, I hope, I have given what I can be expected to spare. The man importunes me, and the blow goes round. I am going to try another air on Thursday.'

On Thursday, June 3, the Oxford post-coach took us up in the morning at Bolt-court. The other two passengers were Mrs. Beresford and her daughter, two very agreeable ladies from America; they were going to Worcestershire, where they then resided. Frank had been sent by his master the day before to take places for us; and I found, from the way-bill, that Dr. Johnson had made our names be put down. Mrs. Beresford, who had read it, whispered me, 'Is this the great Dr. Johnson?' I told her it was; so she was then prepared to listen. As she soon happened to mention in a voice so low that Johnson did not hear it, that her husband had been a member of the American Congress, I cautioned her to beware of introducing that subject, as she must know how very violent Johnson was against the people of that country. He talked a great deal, but I am sorry I have preserved little of the conversation. Miss Beresford was so much charmed, that she said to me aside, 'How he does talk! Every sentence is an essay.' She amused herself in the coach with knotting; he would scarcely allow this species of employment any merit. 'Next to mere idleness (said he) I think knotting is to be reckoned in the scale of insignificance; though I once attempted to learn knotting. Dempster's sister (looking to me) endeavoured to teach me it; but I made no progress[875].'

I was surprised at his talking without reserve in the publick post-coach of the state of his affairs; 'I have (said he) about the world I think above a thousand pounds, which I intend shall afford Frank an annuity of seventy pounds a year.' Indeed his openness with people at a first interview was remarkable. He said once to Mr. Langton, 'I think I am like Squire Richard in The Journey to London, "I'm never strange in a strange place[876]."' He was truly social. He strongly censured what is much too common in England among persons of condition,—maintaining an absolute silence, when unknown to each other; as for instance, when occasionally brought together in a room before the master or mistress of the house has appeared. 'Sir, that is being so uncivilised as not to understand the common rights of humanity[877].'

At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton which we had for dinner. The ladies I saw wondered to see the great philosopher, whose wisdom and wit they had been admiring all the way, get into ill-humour from such a cause. He scolded the waiter, saying, 'It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest[878].'

He bore the journey very well, and seemed to feel himself elevated as he approached Oxford, that magnificent and venerable seat of learning, Orthodoxy, and Toryism. Frank came in the heavy coach, in readiness to attend him; and we were received with the most polite hospitality at the house of his old friend Dr. Adams, Master of Pembroke College, who had given us a kind invitation. Before we were set down, I communicated to Johnson, my having engaged to return to London directly, for the reason I have mentioned, but that I would hasten back to him again. He was pleased that I had made this journey merely to keep him company. He was easy and placid, with Dr. Adams, Mrs. and Miss Adams, and Mrs. Kennicot, widow of the learned Hebraean[879], who was here on a visit. He soon dispatched the inquiries which were made about his illness and recovery, by a short and distinct narrative; and then assuming a gay air, repeated from Swift,—

     'Nor think on our approaching ills,
      And talk of spectacles and pills880.'

Dr. Newton, the Bishop of Bristol, having been mentioned, Johnson, recollecting the manner in which he had been censured by that Prelate[881], thus retaliated:-' Tom knew he should be dead before what he has said of me would appear. He durst not have printed it while he was alive.' DR. ADAMS. 'I believe his Dissertations on the Prophecies is his great work.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is Tom's great work; but how far it is great, or how much of it is Tom's, are other questions. I fancy a considerable part of it was borrowed.' DR. ADAMS. 'He was a very successful man.' JOHNSON. 'I don't think so, Sir. He did not get very high. He was late in getting what he did get; and he did not get it by the best means. I believe he was a gross flatterer[882].'

I fulfilled my intention by going to London, and returned to Oxford on Wednesday the 9th of June, when I was happy to find myself again in the same agreeable circle at Pembroke College, with the comfortable prospect of making some stay. Johnson welcomed my return with more than ordinary glee.

He talked with great regard of the Honourable Archibald Campbell, whose character he had given at the Duke of Argyll's table, when we were at Inverary[883]; and at this time wrote out for me, in his own hand, a fuller account of that learned and venerable writer, which I have published in its proper place. Johnson made a remark this evening which struck me a good deal. 'I never (said he) knew a non-juror who could reason[884].' Surely he did not mean to deny that faculty to many of their writers; to Hickes, Brett[885], and other eminent divines of that persuasion; and did not recollect that the seven Bishops, so justly celebrated for their magnanimous resistance of arbitrary power, were yet Nonjurors to the new Government[886]. The nonjuring clergy of Scotland, indeed, who, excepting a few, have lately, by a sudden stroke, cut off all ties of allegiance to the house of Stuart, and resolved to pray for our present lawful Sovereign by name, may be thought to have confirmed this remark; as it may be said, that the divine indefeasible hereditary right which they professed to believe, if ever true, must be equally true still. Many of my readers will be surprized when I mention, that Johnson assured me he had never in his life been in a nonjuring meeting-house[887].

Next morning at breakfast, he pointed out a passage in Savage's Wanderer, saying, 'These are fine verses.' 'If (said he) I had written with hostility of Warburton in my Shakspeare, I should have quoted this couplet:—

     "Here Learning, blinded first and then beguil'd,
      Looks dark as Ignorance, as Fancy wild888."

You see they'd have fitted him to a T,' (smiling.) DR. ADAMS. 'But you did not write against Warburton.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I treated him with great respect both in my Preface and in my Notes[889].'

Mrs. Kennicot spoke of her brother, the Reverend Mr. Chamberlayne, who had given up great prospects in the Church of England on his conversion to the Roman Catholick faith. Johnson, who warmly admired every man who acted from a conscientious regard to principle, erroneous or not, exclaimed fervently, 'GOD bless him.'

Mrs. Kennicot, in confirmation of Dr. Johnson's opinion[890], that the present was not worse than former ages, mentioned that her brother assured her, there was now less infidelity on the Continent than there had been; Voltaire and Rousseau were less read. I asserted, from good authority, that Hume's infidelity was certainly less read. JOHNSON. 'All infidel writers drop into oblivion, when personal connections and the floridness of novelty are gone; though now and then a foolish fellow, who thinks he can be witty upon them, may bring them again into notice. There will sometimes start up a College joker, who does not consider that what is a joke in a College will not do in the world. To such defenders of Religion I would apply a stanza of a poem which I remember to have seen in some old collection:—

     "Henceforth be quiet and agree,
        Each kiss his empty brother;
      Religion scorns a foe like thee,
        But dreads a friend like t'other."

The point is well, though the expression is not correct; one, and not thee, should be opposed to t'other[891].'

On the Roman Catholick religion he said, 'If you join the Papists externally, they will not interrogate you strictly as to your belief in their tenets. No reasoning Papist believes every article of their faith. There is one side on which a good man might be persuaded to embrace it. A good man of a timorous disposition, in great doubt of his acceptance with GOD, and pretty credulous, might be glad to be of a church where there, are so many helps to get to Heaven. I would be a Papist if I could. I have fear enough; but an obstinate rationality prevents me. I shall never be a Papist, unless on the near approach of death, of which I have a very great terrour. I wonder that women are not all Papists.' BOSWELL. 'They are not more afraid of death than men are.' JOHNSON. 'Because they are less wicked.' DR. ADAMS. 'They are more pious.' JOHNSON. 'No, hang 'em, they are not more pious. A wicked fellow is the most pious when he takes to it. He'll beat you all at piety.'

He argued in defence of some of the peculiar tenets of the Church of Rome. As to the giving the bread only to the laity, he said, 'They may think, that in what is merely ritual, deviations from the primitive mode may be admitted on the ground of convenience, and I think they are as well warranted to make this alteration, as we are to substitute sprinkling in the room of the ancient baptism.' As to the invocation of saints[892], he said, 'Though I do not think it authorised, it appears to me, that "the communion of saints" in the Creed means the communion with the saints in Heaven, as connected with "The holy Catholick Church[893]."' He admitted the influence of evil spirits[894] upon our minds, and said, 'Nobody who believes the New Testament can deny it.'

I brought a volume of Dr. Hurd the Bishop of Worcester's Sermons, and read to the company some passages from one of them, upon this text, 'Resist the Devil, and he will fly[895] from you.' James, iv. 7. I was happy to produce so judicious and elegant a supporter[896] of a doctrine, which, I know not why, should, in this world of imperfect knowledge, and, therefore, of wonder and mystery in a thousand instances, be contested by some with an unthinking assurance and flippancy.

After dinner, when one of us talked of there being a great enmity between Whig and Tory;—JOHNSON. 'Why not so much, I think, unless when they come into competition with each other. There is none when they are only common acquaintance, none when they are of different sexes. A Tory will marry into a Whig family, and a Whig into a Tory family, without any reluctance. But indeed, in a matter of much more concern than political tenets, and that is religion, men and women do not concern themselves much about difference of opinion; and ladies set no value on the moral character of men who pay their addresses to them; the greatest profligate will be as well received as the man of the greatest virtue, and this by a very good woman, by a woman who says her prayers three times a day.' Our ladies endeavoured to defend their sex from this charge; but he roared them down! 'No, no, a lady will take Jonathan Wild as readily as St. Austin, if he has three-pence more; and, what is worse, her parents will give her to him. Women have a perpetual envy of our vices; they are less vicious than we, not from choice, but because we restrict them; they are the slaves of order and fashion; their virtue is of more consequence to us than our own, so far as concerns this world.'

Miss Adams mentioned a gentleman of licentious character, and said, 'Suppose I had a mind to marry that gentleman, would my parents consent?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, they'd consent, and you'd go. You'd go though they did not consent.' MISS ADAMS. 'Perhaps their opposing might make me go.' JOHNSON. 'O, very well; you'd take one whom you think a bad man, to have the pleasure of vexing your parents. You put me in mind of Dr. Barrowby[897], the physician, who was very fond of swine's flesh. One day, when he was eating it, he said, 'I wish I was a Jew.' 'Why so? (said somebody); the Jews are not allowed to eat your favourite meat.' 'Because, (said he,) I should then have the gust of eating it, with the pleasure of sinning.' Johnson then proceeded in his declamation.

Miss Adams soon afterwards made an observation that I do not recollect, which pleased him much: he said with a good-humoured smile, 'That there should be so much excellence united with so much depravity, is strange.'

Indeed, this lady's good qualities, merit, and accomplishments, and her constant attention to Dr. Johnson, were not lost upon him. She happened to tell him that a little coffee-pot, in which she had made his coffee, was the only thing she could call her own. He turned to her with a complacent gallantry, 'Don't say so, my dear; I hope you don't reckon my heart as nothing.'

I asked him if it was true as reported, that he had said lately, 'I am for the King against Fox; but I am for Fox against Pitt.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; the King is my master; but I do not know Pitt; and Fox is my friend[898].'

'Fox, (added he,) is a most extraordinary man; here is a man (describing him in strong terms of objection in some respects according as he apprehended, but which exalted his abilities the more) who has divided the Kingdom with Caesar[899]; so that it, was a doubt whether the nation should be ruled by the sceptre of George the Third, or the tongue of Fox.'

Dr. Wall, physician at Oxford, drank tea with us. Johnson had in general a peculiar pleasure in the company of physicians, which was certainly not abated by the conversation of this learned, ingenious, and pleasing gentleman. Johnson said, 'It is wonderful how little good Radcliffe's travelling fellowships[900] have done. I know nothing that has been imported by them; yet many additions to our medical knowledge might be got in foreign countries. Inoculation, for instance, has saved more lives than war destroys[901]: and the cures performed by the Peruvian-bark are innumerable. But it is in vain to send our travelling physicians to France, and Italy, and Germany, for all that is known there is known here; I'd send them out of Christendom; I'd send them among barbarous nations.'

On Friday, June 11, we talked at breakfast, of forms of prayer. JOHNSON. 'I know of no good prayers but those in the Book of Common Prayer.' DR. ADAMS, (in a very earnest manner): 'I wish, Sir, you would compose some family prayers.' JOHNSON. 'I will not compose prayers for you, Sir, because you can do it for yourself. But I have thought of getting together all the books of prayers which I could, selecting those which should appear to me the best, putting out some, inserting others, adding some prayers of my own, and prefixing a discourse on prayer.' We all now gathered about him, and two or three of us at a time joined in pressing him to execute this plan. He seemed to be a little displeased at the manner of our importunity, and in great agitation called out, 'Do not talk thus of what is so aweful. I know not what time GOD will allow me in this world. There are many things which I wish to do.' Some of us persisted, and Dr. Adams said, 'I never was more serious about any thing in my life.' JOHNSON. 'Let me alone, let me alone; I am overpowered.' And then he put his hands before his face, and reclined for some time upon the table[902].

I mentioned Jeremy Taylor's using, in his forms of prayer, 'I am the chief of sinners,' and other such self-condemning expressions[903]. 'Now, (said I) this cannot be said with truth by every man, and therefore is improper for a general printed form. I myself cannot say that I am the worst of men; I will not say so.' JOHNSON. 'A man may know, that physically, that is, in the real state of things, he is not the worst man; but that morally he may be so. Law observes that "Every man knows something worse of himself, than he is sure of in others[904]." You may not have committed such crimes as some men have done; but you do not know against what degree of light they have sinned. Besides, Sir, "the chief of sinners" is a mode of expression for "I am a great sinner." So St. Paul, speaking of our SAVIOUR'S having died to save sinners, says, "of whom I am the chief[905];" yet he certainly did not think himself so bad as Judas Iscariot.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, Taylor means it literally, for he founds a conceit upon it. When praying for the conversion of sinners, and of himself in particular, he says, "LORD, thou wilt not leave thy chief work undone." JOHNSON. 'I do not approve of figurative expressions in addressing the Supreme Being; and I never use them[906]. Taylor gives a very good advice: "Never lie in your prayers; never confess more than you really believe; never promise more than you mean to perform[907]." I recollected this precept in his Golden Grove; but his example for prayer contradicts his precept.'

Dr. Johnson and I went in Dr. Adams's coach to dine with Dr. Nowell, Principal of St. Mary Hall, at his beautiful villa at Iffley, on the banks of the Isis, about two miles from Oxford. While we were upon the road, I had the resolution to ask Johnson whether he thought that the roughness of his manner had been an advantage or not, and if he would not have done more good if he had been more gentle. I proceeded to answer myself thus: 'Perhaps it has been of advantage, as it has given weight to what you said: you could not, perhaps, have talked with such authority without it.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; I have done more good as I am. Obscenity and Impiety have always been repressed in my company[908].' BOSWELL. 'True, Sir; and that is more than can be said of every Bishop. Greater liberties have been taken in the presence of a Bishop, though a very good man, from his being milder, and therefore not commanding such awe. Yet, Sir, many people who might have been benefited by your conversation, have been frightened away. A worthy friend of ours[909] has told me, that he has often been afraid to talk to you.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, he need not have been afraid, if he had any thing rational to say. If he had not, it was better he did not talk[910].

Dr. Nowell is celebrated for having preached a sermon before the House of Commons, on the 3Oth of January, 1773, full of high Tory sentiments, for which he was thanked as usual, and printed it at their request; but, in the midst of that turbulence and faction which disgraced a part of the present reign, the thanks were afterwards ordered to be expunged[911]. This strange conduct sufficiently exposes itself; and Dr. Nowell will ever have the honour which is due to a lofty friend of our monarchical constitution. Dr. Johnson said to me, 'Sir, the Court will be very much to blame, if he is not promoted.' I told this to Dr. Nowell, and asserting my humbler, though not less zealous exertions in the same cause, I suggested that whatever return we might receive, we should still have the consolation of being like Butler's steady and generous Royalist,

     'True as the dial to the sun,
      Although it be not shone upon912.'

We were well entertained and very happy at Dr. Nowell's, where was a very agreeable company, and we drank 'Church and King' after dinner, with true Tory cordiality.

We talked of a certain clergyman[913] of extraordinary character, who by exerting his talents in writing on temporary topicks, and displaying uncommon intrepidity, had raised himself to affluence. I maintained that we ought not to be indignant at his success; for merit of every sort was entitled to reward. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I will not allow this man to have merit. No, Sir; what he has is rather the contrary; I will, indeed, allow him courage, and on this account we so far give him credit. We have more respect for a man who robs boldly on the highway, than for a fellow who jumps out of a ditch, and knocks you down behind your back. Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice[914].

I censured the coarse invectives which were become fashionable in the House of Commons[915], and said that if members of parliament must attack each other personally in the heat of debate, it should be done more genteely. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; that would be much worse. Abuse is not so dangerous when there is no vehicle of wit or delicacy, no subtle conveyance. The difference between coarse and refined abuse is as the difference between being bruised by a club, and wounded by a poisoned arrow.' I have since observed his position elegantly expressed by Dr. Young:—

     'As the soft plume gives swiftness to the dart,
      Good breeding sends the satire to the heart916.'

On Saturday, June 12, there drank tea with us at Dr. Adams's, Mr. John Henderson, student of Pembroke-College, celebrated for his wonderful acquirements in Alchymy, Judicial Astrology, and other abstruse and curious learning[917]; and the Reverend Herbert Croft, who, I am afraid, was somewhat mortified by Dr. Johnson's not being highly pleased with some Family Discourses, which he had printed; they were in too familiar a style to be approved of by so manly a mind. I have no note of this evening's conversation, except a single fragment. When I mentioned Thomas Lord Lyttelton's vision[918], the prediction of the time of his death, and its exact fulfilment;—JOHNSON. 'It is the most extraordinary thing that has happened in my day. I heard it with my own ears, from his uncle, Lord Westcote. I am so glad to have every evidence of the spiritual world, that I am willing to believe it.' DR. ADAMS. 'You have evidence enough; good evidence, which needs not such support.' JOHNSON. 'I like to have more[919].'

Mr. Henderson, with whom I had sauntered in the venerable walks of Merton-College, and found him a very learned and pious man, supped with us. Dr. Johnson surprised him not a little, by acknowledging with a look of horrour, that he was much oppressed by the fear of death[920]. The amiable Dr. Adams suggested that GOD was infinitely good. JOHNSON. 'That he is infinitely good, as far as the perfection of his nature will allow, I certainly believe; but it is necessary for good upon the whole, that individuals should be punished. As to an individual, therefore, he is not infinitely good; and as I cannot be sure that I have fulfilled the conditions on which salvation is granted, I am afraid I may be one of those who shall be damned.' (looking dismally.) DR. ADAMS. 'What do you mean by damned?' JOHNSON. (passionately and loudly) 'Sent to Hell, Sir, and punished everlastingly[921].' DR. ADAMS. 'I don't believe that doctrine.' JOHNSON. 'Hold, Sir, do you believe that some will be punished at all?' DR. ADAMS. 'Being excluded from Heaven will be a punishment; yet there may be no great positive suffering.' JOHNSON. 'Well, Sir; but, if you admit any degree of punishment, there is an end of your argument for infinite goodness simply considered; for, infinite goodness would inflict no punishment whatever. There is not infinite goodness physically considered; morally there is.' BOSWELL. 'But may not a man attain to such a degree of hope as not to be uneasy from the fear of death?' JOHNSON. 'A man may have such a degree of hope as to keep him quiet. You see I am not quiet, from the vehemence with which I talk; but I do not despair.' MRS. ADAMS. 'You seem, Sir, to forget the merits of our Redeemer.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, I do not forget the merits of my Redeemer; but my Redeemer has said that he will set some on his right hand and some on his left.' He was in gloomy agitation, and said, 'I'll have no more on't[922].' If what has now been stated should be urged by the enemies of Christianity, as if its influence on the mind were not benignant, let it be remembered, that Johnson's temperament was melancholy, of which such direful apprehensions of futurity are often a common effect. We shall presently see that when he approached nearer to his aweful change, his mind became tranquil, and he exhibited as much fortitude as becomes a thinking man in that situation.

From the subject of death we passed to discourse of life, whether it was upon the whole more happy or miserable. Johnson was decidedly for the balance of misery[923]: in confirmation of which I maintained, that no man would choose to lead over again the life which he had experienced. Johnson acceded to that opinion in the strongest terms[924]. This is an inquiry often made; and its being a subject of disquisition is a proof that much misery presses upon human feelings; for those who are conscious of a felicity of existence, would never hesitate to accept of a repetition of it. I have met with very few who would. I have heard Mr. Burke make use of a very ingenious and plausible argument on this subject;—'Every man (said he) would lead his life over again; for, every man is willing to go on and take an addition to his life, which, as he grows older, he has no reason to think will be better, or even so good as what has preceded.' I imagine, however, the truth is, that there is a deceitful hope that the next part of life will be free from the pains, and anxieties, and sorrows, which we have already felt[925]. We are for wise purposes 'Condemn'd to Hope's delusive mine;' as Johnson finely says[926]; and I may also quote the celebrated lines of Dryden, equally philosophical and poetical:—

     'When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
      Yet fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit:
      Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay;
      To-morrow's falser than the former day;
      Lies worse; and while it says we shall be blest
      With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
      Strange cozenage! none would live past years again;
      Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
      And from the dregs of life think to receive,
      What the first sprightly running could not give927.'

It was observed to Dr. Johnson, that it seemed strange that he, who has so often delighted his company by his lively and brilliant conversation, should say he was miserable. JOHNSON. 'Alas! it is all outside; I may be cracking my joke[928], and cursing the sun. Sun, how I hate thy beams[929]!' I knew not well what to think of this declaration; whether to hold it as a genuine picture of his mind[930], or as the effect of his persuading himself contrary to fact, that the position which he had assumed as to human unhappiness, was true. We may apply to him a sentence in Mr. Greville's[931] Maxims, Characters, and Reflections[932]; a book which is entitled to much more praise than it has received: 'ARISTARCHUS is charming: how full of knowledge, of sense, of sentiment. You get him with difficulty to your supper; and after having delighted every body and himself for a few hours, he is obliged to return home;—he is finishing his treatise, to prove that unhappiness is the portion of man[933].'

On Sunday, June 13, our philosopher was calm at breakfast. There was something exceedingly pleasing in our leading a College life, without restraint, and with superiour elegance, in consequence of our living in the Master's house, and having the company of ladies. Mrs. Kennicot related, in his presence, a lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had expressed a wonder that the poet who had written Paradise Lost should write such poor Sonnets:—' Milton, Madam, was a genius that could cut a Colossus from a rock; but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones[934].'

We talked of the casuistical question, Whether it was allowable at any time to depart from Truth? JOHNSON. 'The general rule is, that Truth should never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the comfort of life, that we should have a full security by mutual faith; and occasional inconveniences should be willingly suffered that we may preserve it. There must, however, be some exceptions. If, for instance, a murderer should ask you which way a man is gone, you may tell him what is not true, because you are under a previous obligation not to betray a man to a murderer[935].' BOSWELL. 'Supposing the person who wrote Junius were asked whether he was the authour, might he deny it?' JOHNSON. 'I don't know what to say to this. If you were sure that he wrote Junius, would you, if he denied it, think as well of him afterwards? Yet it may be urged, that what a man has no right to ask, you may refuse to communicate[936]; and there is no other effectual mode of preserving a secret and an important secret, the discovery of which may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial; for if you are silent, or hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confession. But stay, Sir; here is another case. Supposing the authour had told me confidentially that he had written Junius, and I were asked if he had, I should hold myself at liberty to deny it, as being under a previous promise, express or implied, to conceal it. Now what I ought to do for the authour, may I not do for myself? But I deny the lawfulness of telling a lie to a sick man for fear of alarming him. You have no business with consequences; you are to tell the truth. Besides, you are not sure what effect your telling him that he is in danger may have. It may bring his distemper to a crisis, and that may cure him. Of all lying, I have the greatest abhorrence of this, because I believe it has been frequently practised on myself.'

I cannot help thinking that there is much weight in the opinion of those who have held, that Truth, as an eternal and immutable principle, ought, upon no account whatever, to be violated, from supposed previous or superiour obligations, of which every man being to judge for himself, there is great danger that we too often, from partial motives, persuade ourselves that they exist; and probably whatever extraordinary instances may sometimes occur, where some evil may be prevented by violating this noble principle, it would be found that human happiness would, upon the whole, be more perfect were Truth universally preserved.

In the notes to the Dunciad[937], we find the following verses, addressed to Pope[938]:—

     'While malice, Pope, denies thy page
        Its own celestial fire;
      While criticks, and while bards in rage
        Admiring, won't admire:
      While wayward pens thy worth assail,
        And envious tongues decry;
      These times, though many a friend bewail,
        These times bewail not I.
      But when the world's loud praise is thine,
        And spleen no more shall blame;
      When with thy Homer thou shalt shine
        In one establish'd fame!
      When none shall rail, and every lay
        Devote a wreath to thee:
      That day (for come it will) that day
        Shall I lament to see.'

It is surely not a little remarkable, that they should appear without a name. Miss Seward[939], knowing Dr. Johnson's almost universal and minute literary information, signified a desire that I should ask him who was the authour. He was prompt with his answer: 'Why, Sir, they were written by one Lewis, who was either under-master or an usher of Westminster-school, and published a Miscellany, in which Grongar Hill[940] first came out[941].' Johnson praised them highly, and repeated them with a noble animation. In the twelfth line, instead of 'one establish'd fame,' he repeated 'one unclouded flame,' which he thought was the reading in former editions: but I believe was a flash of his own genius. It is much more poetical than the other.

On Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, 15, Dr. Johnson and I dined, on one of them, I forget which, with Mr. Mickle, translator of the Lusiad, at Wheatley, a very pretty country place a few miles from Oxford; and on the other with Dr. Wetherell, Master of University-College. From Dr. Wetherell's he went to visit Mr. Sackville Parker, the bookseller; and when he returned to us, gave the following account of his visit, saying, 'I have been to see my old friend, Sack. Parker; I find he has married his maid; he has done right. She had lived with him many years in great confidence, and they had mingled minds; I do not think he could have found any wife that would have made him so happy. The woman was very attentive and civil to me; she pressed me to fix a day for dining with them, and to say what I liked, and she would be sure to get it for me. Poor Sack! He is very ill, indeed. We parted as never to meet again. It has quite broke me down.' This pathetic narrative was strangely diversified with the grave and earnest defence of a man's having married his maid. I could not but feel it as in some degree ludicrous.

In the morning of Tuesday, June 15, while we sat at Dr. Adams's, we talked of a printed letter from the Reverend Herbert Croft[942], to a young gentleman who had been his pupil, in which he advised him to read to the end of whatever books he should begin to read. JOHNSON. 'This is surely a strange advice; you may as well resolve that whatever men you happen to get acquainted with, you are to keep to them for life. A book may be good for nothing; or there may be only one thing in it worth knowing; are we to read it all through[943]? These Voyages, (pointing to the three large volumes of Voyages to the South Sea[944], which were just come out) who will read them through? A man had better work his way before the mast, than read them through; they will be eaten by rats and mice, before they are read through. There can be little entertainment in such books; one set of Savages is like another.' BOSWELL. 'I do not think the people of Otaheité can be reckoned Savages.' JOHNSON. 'Don't cant in defence of Savages[945].' BOSWELL. 'They have the art of navigation.' JOHNSON. 'A dog or a cat can swim.' BOSWELL. 'They carve very ingeniously.' JOHNSON. 'A cat can scratch, and a child with a nail can scratch.' I perceived this was none of the mollia tempora fandi[946]; so desisted.

Upon his mentioning that when he came to College he wrote his first exercise twice over; but never did so afterwards[947]; MISS ADAMS. 'I suppose, Sir, you could not make them better?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Madam, to be sure, I could make them better. Thought is better than no thought.' MISS ADAMS. 'Do you think, Sir, you could make your Ramblers better?' JOHNSON. 'Certainly I could.' BOSWELL. 'I'll lay a bet, Sir, you cannot.' JOHNSON. 'But I will, Sir, if I choose. I shall make the best of them you shall pick out, better.' BOSWELL. 'But you may add to them. I will not allow of that.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, there are three ways of making them better;—putting out,—adding,—or correcting[948].'

During our visit at Oxford, the following conversation passed between him and me on the subject of my trying my fortune at the English bar[949]: Having asked whether a very extensive acquaintance in London, which was very valuable, and of great advantage to a man at large, might not be prejudicial to a lawyer, by preventing him from giving sufficient attention to his business;—JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will attend to business, as business lays hold of you. When not actually employed, you may see your friends as much as you do now. You may dine at a Club every day, and sup with one of the members every night; and you may be as much at publick places as one who has seen them all would wish to be. But you must take care to attend constantly in Westminster-Hall; both to mind your business, as it is almost all learnt there, (for nobody reads now;) and to shew that you want to have business[950]. And you must not be too often seen at publick places, that competitors may not have it to say, 'He is always at the Playhouse or at Ranelagh, and never to be found at his chambers.' And, Sir, there must be a kind of solemnity in the manner of a professional man. I have nothing particular to say to you on the subject. All this I should say to any one; I should have said it to Lord Thurlow twenty years ago.'

The PROFESSION may probably think this representation of what is required in a Barrister who would hope for success, to be by much too indulgent; but certain it is, that as

     'The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame951,'

some of the lawyers of this age who have risen high, have by no means thought it absolutely necessary to submit to that long and painful course of study which a Plowden, a Coke, and a Hale considered as requisite. My respected friend, Mr. Langton, has shewn me in the hand-writing of his grandfather[952], a curious account of a conversation which he had with Lord Chief Justice Hale, in which that great man tells him, 'That for two years after he came to the inn of court, he studied sixteen hours a day; however (his Lordship added) that by this intense application he almost brought himself to his grave, though he were of a very strong constitution, and after reduced himself to eight hours; but that he would not advise any body to so much; that he thought six hours a day, with attention and constancy, was sufficient; that a man must use his body as he would his horse, and his stomach; not tire him at once, but rise with an appetite.[953]'

On Wednesday, June 19[954], Dr. Johnson and I returned to London; he was not well to-day, and said very little, employing himself chiefly in reading Euripides. He expressed some displeasure at me, for not observing sufficiently the various objects upon the road. 'If I had your eyes, Sir, (said he) I should count the passengers.' It was wonderful how accurate his observation of visual objects was, notwithstanding his imperfect eyesight, owing to a habit of attention[955]. That he was much satisfied with the respect paid to him at Dr. Adams's is thus attested by himself: 'I returned last night from Oxford, after a fortnight's abode with Dr. Adams, who treated me as well as I could expect or wish; and he that contents a sick man, a man whom it is impossible to please, has surely done his part well[956].'

After his return to London from this excursion, I saw him frequently, but have few memorandums: I shall therefore here insert some particulars which I collected at various times.

The Reverend Mr. Astle, of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, brother to the learned and ingenious Thomas Astle[957], Esq., was from his early years known to Dr. Johnson, who obligingly advised him as to his studies, and recommended to him the following books, of which a list which he has been pleased to communicate, lies before me in Johnson's own hand-writing:—

Universal History (ancient.)—Rollin's Ancient History.—Puffendorf's Introduction to History.—Vertot's History of Knights of Malta.— Vertot's Revolution of Portugal.—Vertot's Revolutions of Sweden.— Carte's History of England.—Present State of England.—Geographical Grammar.—Prideaux's Connection.—Nelson's Feasts and Fasts.—Duty of Man.—Gentleman's Religion.—Clarendon's History.—Watts's Improvement of the Mind.—Watts's Logick.—Nature Displayed.—Lowth's English Grammar.—Blackwall on the Classicks.—Sherlock's Sermons.—Burnet's Life of Hale.—Dupin's History of the Church.—Shuckford's Connection.—Law's Serious Call.—Walton's Complete Angler.—Sandys's Travels.—Sprat's History of the Royal Society.—England's Gazetteer.—Goldsmith's Roman History.—Some Commentaries on the. Bible[958].

It having been mentioned to Dr. Johnson that a gentleman who had a son whom he imagined to have an extreme degree of timidity, resolved to send him to a publick school, that he might acquire confidence;—' Sir, (said Johnson,) this is a preposterous expedient for removing his infirmity; such a disposition should be cultivated in the shade. Placing him at a publick school is forcing an owl upon day[959].'

Speaking of a gentleman whose house was much frequented by low company; 'Rags, Sir, (said he,) will always make their appearance where they have a right to do it.'

Of the same gentleman's mode of living, he said, 'Sir, the servants, instead of doing what they are bid, stand round the table in idle clusters, gaping upon the guests; and seem as unfit to attend a company, as to steer a man of war[960].'

A dull country magistrate[961] gave Johnson a long tedious account of his exercising his criminal jurisdiction, the result of which was his having sentenced four convicts to transportation. Johnson, in an agony of impatience to get rid of such a companion, exclaimed, 'I heartily wish, Sir, that I were a fifth.'

Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in which there occurred this line:—

     'Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free962.'

The company having admired it much, 'I cannot agree with you (said Johnson:) It might as well be said,—

'Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.'

He was pleased with the kindness of Mr. Cator, who was joined with him in Mr. Thrale's important trust, and thus describes him[963]:—'There is much good in his character, and much usefulness in his knowledge.' He found a cordial solace at that gentleman's seat at Beckenham, in Kent, which is indeed one of the finest places at which I ever was a guest; and where I find more and more a hospitable welcome.

Johnson seldom encouraged general censure of any profession[964]; but he was willing to allow a due share of merit to the various departments necessary in civilised life. In a splenetick, sarcastical, or jocular frame, however, he would sometimes utter a pointed saying of that nature. One instance has been mentioned[965], where he gave a sudden satirical stroke to the character of an attorney. The too indiscriminate admission to that employment, which requires both abilities and integrity, has given rise to injurious reflections, which are totally inapplicable to many very respectable men who exercise it with reputation and honour.

Johnson having argued for some time with a pertinacious gentleman; his opponent, who had talked in a very puzzling manner, happened to say, 'I don't understand you, Sir:' upon which Johnson observed, 'Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding[966].'

Talking to me of Horry Walpole, (as Horace late Earl of Orford was often called[967],) Johnson allowed that he got together a great many curious little things, and told them in an elegant manner[968]. Mr. Walpole thought Johnson a more amiable character after reading his Letters to Mrs. Thrale: but never was one of the true admirers of that great man[969]. We may suppose a prejudice conceived, if he ever heard Johnson's account to Sir George Staunton[970], that when he made the speeches in parliament for the Gentleman's Magazine, 'he always took care to put Sir Robert Walpole in the wrong, and to say every thing he could against the electorate of Hanover[971].' The celebrated Heroick Epistle, in which Johnson is satyrically introduced, has been ascribed both to Mr. Walpole and Mr. Mason. One day at Mr. Courtenay's, when a gentleman expressed his opinion that there was more energy in that poem than could be expected from Mr. Walpole; Mr. Warton, the late Laureat, observed, 'It may have been written by Walpole, and buckram'd by Mason[972].'

He disapproved of Lord Hailes, for having modernised the language of the ever-memorable John Hales of Eton[973], in an edition which his Lordship published of that writer's works. 'An authour's language, Sir, (said he,) is a characteristical part of his composition, and is also characteristical of the age in which he writes. Besides, Sir, when the language is changed we are not sure that the sense is the same. No, Sir; I am sorry Lord Hailes has done this.'

Here it may be observed, that his frequent use of the expression, No, Sir, was not always to intimate contradiction; for he would say so, when he was about to enforce an affirmative proposition which had not been denied, as in the instance last mentioned. I used to consider it as a kind of flag of defiance; as if he had said, 'Any argument you may offer against this, is not just. No, Sir, it is not.' It was like Falstaff's 'I deny your Major[974].'

Sir Joshua Reynolds having said that he took the altitude of a man's taste by his stories and his wit, and of his understanding by the remarks which he repeated; being always sure that he must be a weak man who quotes common things with an emphasis as if they were oracles; Johnson agreed with him; and Sir Joshua having also observed that the real character of a man was found out by his amusements,—Johnson added, 'Yes, Sir; no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures[975].'

I have mentioned Johnson's general aversion to a pun[976]. He once, however, endured one of mine. When we were talking of a numerous company in which he had distinguished himself highly, I said, 'Sir, you were a COD surrounded by smelts. Is not this enough for you? at a time too when you were not fishing for a compliment?' He laughed at this with a complacent approbation. Old Mr. Sheridan observed, upon my mentioning it to him, 'He liked your compliment so well, he was willing to take it with pun sauce.' For my own part, I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.

Had Johnson treated at large De Claris Oratoribus[977], he might have given us an admirable work. When the Duke of Bedford attacked the ministry as vehemently as he could, for having taken upon them to extend the time for the importation of corn[978], Lord Chatham, in his first speech in the House of Lords, boldly avowed himself to be an adviser of that measure. 'My colleagues, (said he,) as I was confined by indisposition, did me the signal honour of coming to the bed-side of a sick man, to ask his opinion. But, had they not thus condescended, I should have taken up my bed and walked, in order to have delivered that opinion at the Council-Board.' Mr. Langton, who was present, mentioned this to Johnson, who observed, 'Now, Sir, we see that he took these words as he found them; without considering, that though the expression in Scripture, take up thy bed and walk[979], strictly suited the instance of the sick man restored to health and strength, who would of course be supposed to carry his bed with him, it could not be proper in the case of a man who was lying in a state of feebleness, and who certainly would not add to the difficulty of moving at all, that of carrying his bed.'

When I pointed out to him in the newspaper one of Mr. Grattan's animated and glowing speeches, in favour of the freedom of Ireland, in which this expression occurred (I know not if accurately taken): 'We will persevere, till there is not one link of the English chain left to clank upon the rags of the meanest beggar in Ireland;' 'Nay, Sir, (said Johnson,) don't you perceive that one link cannot clank?'

Mrs. Thrale has published[980], as Johnson's, a kind of parody or counterpart of a fine poetical passage in one of Mr. Burke's speeches on American Taxation. It is vigorously but somewhat coarsely executed; and I am inclined to suppose, is not quite correctly exhibited. I hope he did not use the words 'vile agents' for the Americans in the House of Parliament; and if he did so, in an extempore effusion, I wish the lady had not committed it to writing[981].

Mr. Burke uniformly shewed Johnson the greatest respect; and when Mr. Townshend, now lord Sydney, at a period when he was conspicuous in opposition, threw out some reflection in parliament upon the grant of a pension to a man of such political principles as Johnson; Mr. Burke, though then of the same party with Mr. Townshend, stood warmly forth in defence of his friend, to whom, he justly observed, the pension was granted solely on account of his eminent literary merit. I am well assured, that Mr. Townshend's attack upon Johnson was the occasion of his 'hitching in a rhyme[982];' for, that in the original copy of Goldsmith's character of Mr. Burke, in his Retaliation, another person's name stood in the couplet where Mr. Townshend is now introduced[983]:—

     'Though fraught with all learning kept984 straining his throat,
      To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote.'

It may be worth remarking, among the minutiae of my collection, that Johnson was once drawn to serve in the militia, the Trained Bands of the City of London, and that Mr. Rackstrow, of the Museum in Fleet-street, was his Colonel. It may be believed he did not serve in person; but the idea, with all its circumstances, is certainly laughable. He upon that occasion provided himself with a musket, and with a sword and belt, which I have seen hanging in his closet.

He was very constant to those whom he once employed, if they gave him no reason to be displeased. When somebody talked of being imposed on in the purchase of tea and sugar, and such articles: 'That will not be the case, (said he,) if you go to a stately shop, as I always do. In such a shop it is not worth their while to take a petty advantage.'

An authour of most anxious and restless vanity being mentioned, 'Sir, (said he,) there is not a young sapling upon Parnassus more severely blown about by every wind of criticism than that poor fellow.'

The difference, he observed, between a well-bred and an ill-bred man is this: 'One immediately attracts your liking, the other your aversion. You love the one till you find reason to hate him; you hate the other till you find reason to love him.'

The wife of one of his acquaintance had fraudulently made a purse for herself out of her husband's fortune. Feeling a proper compunction in her last moments, she confessed how much she had secreted; but before she could tell where it was placed, she was seized with a convulsive fit and expired. Her husband said, he was more hurt by her want of confidence in him, than by the loss of his money. 'I told him, (said Johnson,) that he should console himself: for perhaps the money might be found, and he was sure that his wife was gone.'

A foppish physician once reminded Johnson of his having been in company with him on a former occasion; 'I do not remember it, Sir.' The physician still insisted; adding that he that day wore so fine a coat that it must have attracted his notice. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) had you been dipt in Pactolus[985] I should not have noticed you.'

He seemed to take a pleasure in speaking in his own style; for when he had carelessly missed it, he would repeat the thought translated into it[986]. Talking of the Comedy of The Rehearsal[987], he said, 'It has not wit enough to keep it sweet.' This was easy; he therefore caught himself, and pronounced a more round sentence; 'It has not vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction.'

He censured a writer of entertaining Travels[988] for assuming a feigned character, saying, (in his sense of the word[989],) 'He carries out one lye; we know not how many he brings back.'[990] At another time, talking of the same person, he observed, 'Sir, your assent to a man whom you have never known to falsify, is a debt: but after you have known a man to falsify, your assent to him then is a favour.'

Though he had no taste for painting, he admired much the manner in which Sir Joshua Reynolds treated of his art, in his Discourses to the Royal Academy[991]. He observed one day of a passage in them, 'I think I might as well have said this myself: 'and once when Mr. Langton was sitting by him, he read one of them very eagerly, and expressed himself thus:—'Very well, Master Reynolds; very well, indeed. But it will not be understood.'

When I observed to him that Painting was so far inferiour to Poetry, that the story or even emblem which it communicates must be previously known, and mentioned as a natural and laughable instance of this, that a little Miss on seeing a picture of Justice with the scales, had exclaimed to me, 'See, there's a woman selling sweetmeats;' he said, 'Painting, Sir, can illustrate, but cannot inform.'

No man was more ready to make an apology when he had censured unjustly, than Johnson[992]. When a proof-sheet of one of his works was brought to him, he found fault with the mode in which a part of it was arranged, refused to read it, and in a passion[993] desired that the compositor[994] might be sent to him. The compositor was Mr. Manning, a decent sensible man, who had composed about one half of his Dictionary, when in Mr. Strahan's printing-house; and a great part of his Lives of the Poets, when in that of Mr. Nichols; and who (in his seventy-seventh year), when in Mr. Baldwin's printing-house, composed a part of the first edition of this work concerning him. By producing the manuscript, he at once satisfied Dr. Johnson that he was not to blame. Upon which Johnson candidly and earnestly said to him, 'Mr. Compositor, I ask your pardon. Mr. Compositor, I ask your pardon, again and again.'

His generous humanity to the miserable was almost beyond example. The following instance is well attested:—Coming home late one night, he found a poor woman lying in the street, so much exhausted that she could not walk; he took her upon his back, and carried her to his house, where he discovered that she was one of those wretched females who had fallen into the lowest state of vice, poverty, and disease. Instead of harshly upbraiding her, he had her taken care of with all tenderness for a long time, at considerable expence, till she was restored to health, and endeavoured to put her into a virtuous way of living[995].

He thought Mr. Caleb Whitefoord singularly happy in hitting on the signature of Papyrius Cursor, to his ingenious and diverting cross-readings of the newspapers; it being a real name of an ancient Roman, and clearly expressive of the thing done in this lively conceit[996].

He once in his life was known to have uttered what is called a bull: Sir Joshua Reynolds, when they were riding together in Devonshire, complained that he had a very bad horse, for that even when going down hill he moved slowly step by step. 'Ay (said Johnson,) and when he goes up hill, he stands still.'

He had a great aversion to gesticulating in company. He called once to a gentleman who offended him in that point, 'Don't attitudenise.' And when another gentleman thought he was giving additional force to what he uttered, by expressive movements of his hands, Johnson fairly seized them, and held them down[997].

An authour of considerable eminence[998] having engrossed a good share of the conversation in the company of Johnson, and having said nothing but what was trifling and insignificant; Johnson when he was gone, observed to us, 'It is wonderful what a difference there sometimes is between a man's powers of writing and of talking. —— writes with great spirit, but is a poor talker; had he held his tongue we might have supposed him to have been restrained by modesty; but he has spoken a great deal to-day; and you have heard what stuff it was.'

A gentleman having said that a congé d'élire[999] has not, perhaps, the force of a command, but may be considered only as a strong recommendation; 'Sir, (replied Johnson, who overheard him,) it is such a recommendation, as if I should throw you out of a two-pair of stairs window, and recommend to you to fall soft[1000].'

Mr. Steevens, who passed many a social hour with him during their long acquaintance, which commenced when they both lived in the Temple, has preserved a good number of particulars concerning him, most of which are to be found in the department of Apothegms, &c. in the Collection of Johnson's Works[1001]. But he has been pleased to favour me with the following, which are original:—

'One evening, previous to the trial of Barretti[1002], a consultation of his friends was held at the house of Mr. Cox, the Solicitor, in Southampton-buildings, Chancery-lane. Among others present were, Mr. Burke and Dr. Johnson, who differed in sentiments concerning the tendency of some part of the defence the prisoner was to make. When the meeting was over, Mr. Steevens observed, that the question between him and his friend had been agitated with rather too much warmth. "It may be so, Sir, (replied the Doctor,) for Burke and I should have been of one opinion, if we had had no audience[1003]."

'Dr. Johnson once assumed a character in which perhaps even Mr. Boswell never saw him. His curiosity having been excited by the praises bestowed on the celebrated Torré's fireworks at Marybone-Gardens, he desired Mr. Steevens to accompany him thither. The evening had proved showery; and soon after the few people present were assembled, publick notice was given, that the conductors to the wheels, suns, stars, &c., were so thoroughly water-soaked, that it was impossible any part of the exhibition should be made. "This is a mere excuse, (says the Doctor,) to save their crackers for a more profitable company. Let us but hold up our sticks, and threaten to break those coloured lamps that surround the Orchestra, and we shall soon have our wishes gratified. The core of the fireworks cannot be injured; let the different pieces be touched in their respective centers, and they will do their offices as well as ever." Some young men who overheard him, immediately began the violence he had recommended, and an attempt was speedily made to fire some of the wheels which appeared to have received the smallest damage; but to little purpose were they lighted, for most of them completely failed. The authour of The Rambler, however, may be considered, on this occasion, as the ringleader of a successful riot, though not as a skilful pyrotechnist.'

'It has been supposed that Dr. Johnson, so far as fashion was concerned, was careless of his appearance in publick. But this is not altogether true, as the following slight instance may show:—Goldsmith's last Comedy was to be represented during some court-mourning[1004]: and Mr. Steevens appointed to call on Dr. Johnson, and carry him to the tavern where he was to dine with others of the Poet's friends. The Doctor was ready dressed, but in coloured cloaths; yet being told that he would find every one else in black, received the intelligence with a profusion of thanks, hastened to change his attire, all the while repeating his gratitude for the information that had saved him from an appearance so improper in the front row of a front box. "I would not (added he,) for ten pounds, have seemed so retrograde to any general observance[1005]."

'He would sometimes found his dislikes on very slender circumstances. Happening one day to mention Mr. Flexman, a Dissenting Minister, with some compliment to his exact memory in chronological matters; the Doctor replied, "Let me hear no more of him, Sir. That is the fellow who made the Index to my Ramblers, and set down the name of Milton thus: Milton, Mr. John[1006]."'

Mr. Steevens adds this testimony:—

'It is unfortunate, however, for Johnson, that his particularities and frailties can be more distinctly traced than his good and amiable exertions. Could the many bounties he studiously concealed, the many acts of humanity he performed in private, be displayed with equal circumstantiality, his defects would be so far lost in the blaze of his virtues, that the latter only would be regarded.'

Though from my very high admiration of Johnson, I have wondered[1007] that he was not courted by all the great and all the eminent persons of his time, it ought fairly to be considered, that no man of humble birth, who lived entirely by literature, in short no authour by profession, ever rose in this country into that personal notice which he did. In the course of this work a numerous variety of names has been mentioned, to which many might be added. I cannot omit Lord and Lady Lucan, at whose house he often enjoyed all that an elegant table and the best company can contribute to happiness; he found hospitality united with extraordinary accomplishments, and embellished with charms of which no man could be insensible[1008].

On Tuesday, June 22, I dined with him at THE LITERARY CLUB, the last time of his being in that respectable society. The other members present were the Bishop of St. Asaph, Lord Eliot, Lord Palmerston, Dr. Fordyce, and Mr. Malone. He looked ill; but had such a manly fortitude, that he did not trouble the company with melancholy complaints. They all shewed evident marks of kind concern about him, with which he was much pleased, and he exerted himself to be as entertaining as his indisposition allowed him.

The anxiety of his friends to preserve so estimable a life, as long as human means might be supposed to have influence, made them plan for him a retreat from the severity of a British winter, to the mild climate of Italy[1009]. This scheme was at last brought to a serious resolution at General Paoli's, where I had often talked of it. One essential matter, however, I understood was necessary to be previously settled, which was obtaining such an addition to his income, as would be sufficient to enable him to defray the expence in a manner becoming the first literary character of a great nation, and, independent of all his other merits, the Authour of THE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. The person to whom I above all others thought I should apply to negociate this business, was the Lord Chancellor[1010], because I knew that he highly valued Johnson, and that Johnson highly valued his Lordship; so that it was no degradation of my illustrious friend to solicit for him the favour of such a man. I have mentioned[1011] what Johnson said of him to me when he was at the bar; and after his Lordship was advanced to the seals[1012], he said of him, 'I would prepare myself for no man in England but Lord Thurlow. When I am to meet with him I should wish to know a day before[1013]'. How he would have prepared himself I cannot conjecture. Would he have selected certain topicks, and considered them in every view so as to be in readiness to argue them at all points? and what may we suppose those topicks to have been? I once started the curious enquiry to the great man who was the subject of this compliment: he smiled, but did not pursue it.

I first consulted with Sir Joshua Reynolds, who perfectly coincided in opinion with me; and I therefore, though personally very little known to his Lordship, wrote to him[1014], stating the case, and requesting his good offices for Dr. Johnson. I mentioned that I was obliged to set out for Scotland early in the following week, so that if his Lordship should have any commands for me as to this pious negociation, he would be pleased to send them before that time; otherwise Sir Joshua Reynolds would give all attention to it.

This application was made not only without any suggestion on the part of Johnson himself, but was utterly unknown to him, nor had he the smallest suspicion of it. Any insinuations, therefore, which since his death have been thrown out, as if he had stooped to ask what was superfluous, are without any foundation. But, had he asked it, it would not have been superfluous; for though the money he had saved proved to be more than his friends imagined, or than I believe he himself, in his carelessness concerning worldly matters, knew it to be, had he travelled upon the Continent, an augmentation of his income would by no means have been unnecessary.

On Wednesday, June 23, I visited him in the morning, after having been present at the shocking sight of fifteen men executed before Newgate[1015]. I said to him, I was sure that human life was not machinery, that is to say, a chain of fatality planned and directed by the Supreme Being, as it had in it so much wickedness and misery, so many instances of both, as that by which my mind was now clouded. Were it machinery it would be better than it is in these respects, though less noble, as not being a system of moral government. He agreed with me now, as he always did[1016], upon the great question of the liberty of the human will, which has been in all ages perplexed with so much sophistry. 'But, Sir, as to the doctrine of Necessity, no man believes it. If a man should give me arguments that I do not see, though I could not answer them, should I believe that I do not see?' It will be observed, that Johnson at all times made the just distinction between doctrines contrary to reason, and doctrines above reason.

Talking of the religious discipline proper for unhappy convicts, he said, 'Sir, one of our regular clergy will probably not impress their minds sufficiently: they should be attended by a Methodist preacher[1017]; or a Popish priest.' Let me however observe, in justice to the Reverend Mr. Vilette, who has been Ordinary of Newgate for no less than eighteen years, in the course of which he has attended many hundreds of wretched criminals, that his earnest and humane exhortations have been very effectual. His extraordinary diligence is highly praiseworthy, and merits a distinguished reward[1018].

On Thursday, June 24, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were the Rev. Mr. (now Dr.) Knox, master of Tunbridge-school, Mr. Smith, Vicar of Southill, Dr. Beattie, Mr. Pinkerton, authour of various literary performances, and the Rev. Dr. Mayo. At my desire old Mr. Sheridan was invited, as I was earnest to have Johnson and him brought together again by chance, that a reconciliation might be effected. Mr. Sheridan happened to come early, and having learned that Dr. Johnson was to be there, went away[1019]; so I found, with sincere regret, that my friendly intentions were hopeless. I recollect nothing that passed this day, except Johnson's quickness, who, when Dr. Beattie observed, as something remarkable which had happened to him, that he had chanced to see both No. 1, and No. 1000, of the hackney-coaches, the first and the last; 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson,) there is an equal chance for one's seeing those two numbers as any other two.' He was clearly right; yet the seeing of the two extremes, each of which is in some degree more conspicuous than the rest, could not but strike one in a stronger manner than the sight of any other two numbers. Though I have neglected to preserve his conversation, it was perhaps at this interview that Dr. Knox formed the notion of it which he has exhibited in his Winter Evenings[1020].

On Friday, June 25, I dined with him at General Paoli's, where, he says in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, 'I love to dine[1021].' There was a variety of dishes much to his taste, of all which he seemed to me to eat so much, that I was afraid he might be hurt by it[1022]; and I whispered to the General my fear, and begged he might not press him. 'Alas! (said the General,) see how very ill he looks; he can live but a very short time. Would you refuse any slight gratifications to a man under sentence of death? There is a humane custom in Italy, by which persons in that melancholy situation are indulged with having whatever they like best to eat and drink, even with expensive delicacies.'

I shewed him some verses on Lichfield by Miss Seward, which I had that day received from her, and had the pleasure to hear him approve of them. He confirmed to me the truth of a high compliment which I had been told he had paid to that lady, when she mentioned to him The Colombiade, an epick poem, by Madame du Boccage[1023]:—'Madam, there is not any thing equal to your description of the sea round the North Pole, in your Ode on the death of Captain Cook[1024].'

On Sunday, June 27, I found him rather better. I mentioned to him a young man who was going to Jamaica with his wife and children, in expectation of being provided for by two of her brothers settled in that island, one a clergyman, and the other a physician. JOHNSON. 'It is a wild scheme, Sir, unless he has a positive and deliberate invitation. There was a poor girl, who used to come about me, who had a cousin in Barbadoes, that, in a letter to her, expressed a wish she should come out to that Island, and expatiated on the comforts and happiness of her situation. The poor girl went out: her cousin was much surprised, and asked her how she could think of coming. "Because, (said she,) you invited me." "Not I," answered the cousin. The letter was then produced. "I see it is true, (said she,) that I did invite you: but I did not think you would come." They lodged her in an out-house, where she passed her time miserably; and as soon as she had an opportunity she returned to England. Always tell this, when you hear of people going abroad to relations, upon a notion of being well received. In the case which you mention, it is probable the clergyman spends all he gets, and the physician does not know how much he is to get.'

We this day dined at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with General Paoli, Lord Eliot, (formerly Mr. Eliot, of Port Eliot,) Dr. Beattie, and some other company. Talking of Lord Chesterfield;—JOHNSON. 'His manner was exquisitely elegant[1025], and he had more knowledge than I expected.' BOSWELL. 'Did you find, Sir, his conversation to be of a superiour style?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, in the conversation which I had with him I had the best right to superiority, for it was upon philology and literature.' Lord Eliot, who had travelled at the same time with Mr. Stanhope[1026], Lord Chesterfield's natural son, justly observed, that it was strange that a man who shewed he had so much affection for his son as Lord Chesterfield did, by writing so many long and anxious letters to him, almost all of them when he was Secretary of State[1027], which certainly was a proof of great goodness of disposition, should endeavour to make his son a rascal. His Lordship told us, that Foote had intended to bring on the stage a father who had thus tutored his son, and to shew the son an honest man to every one else, but practising his father's maxims upon him, and cheating him[1028]. JOHNSON. 'I am much pleased with this design; but I think there was no occasion to make the son honest at all. No; he should be a consummate rogue: the contrast between honesty and knavery would be the stronger. It should be contrived so that the father should be the only sufferer by the son's villainy, and thus there would be poetical justice.'

He put Lord Eliot in mind of Dr. Walter Harte[1029]. 'I know (said he,) Harte was your Lordship's tutor, and he was also tutor to the Peterborough family. Pray, my Lord, do you recollect any particulars that he told you of Lord Peterborough? He is a favourite of mine, and is not enough known; his character has been only ventilated in party pamphlets[1030].' Lord Eliot said, if Dr. Johnson would be so good as to ask him any questions, he would tell what he could recollect. Accordingly some things were mentioned. 'But, (said his Lordship,) the best account of Lord Peterborough that I have happened to meet with, is in Captain Carleton's Memoirs. Carleton was descended of an ancestor who had distinguished himself at the siege of Derry[1031]. He was an officer; and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of engineering[1032].' Johnson said, he had never heard of the book. Lord Eliot had it at Port Eliot; but, after a good deal of enquiry, procured a copy in London, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he was going to bed when it came, but was so much pleased with it, that he sat up till he had read it through[1033], and found in it such an air of truth, that he could not doubt of its authenticity[1034]; adding, with a smile, (in allusion to Lord Eliot's having recently been raised to the peerage,) 'I did not think a young Lord could have mentioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to me[1035].'

An addition to our company came after we went up to the drawing-room; Dr. Johnson seemed to rise in spirits as his audience increased. He said, 'He wished Lord Orford's pictures[1036], and Sir Ashton Lever's Museum[1037], might be purchased by the publick, because both the money, and the pictures, and the curiosities, would remain in the country; whereas, if they were sold into another kingdom, the nation would indeed get some money, but would lose the pictures and curiosities, which it would be desirable we should have, for improvement in taste and natural history. The only question was, as the nation was much in want of money, whether it would not be better to take a large price from a foreign State?'

He entered upon a curious discussion of the difference between intuition and sagacity; one being immediate in its effect, the other requiring a circuitous process; one he observed was the eye of the mind, the other the nose of the mind[1038].

A young gentleman[1039] present took up the argument against him, and maintained that no man ever thinks of the nose of the mind, not adverting that though that figurative sense seems strange to us, as very unusual, it is truly not more forced than Hamlet's 'In my mind's eye, Horatio[1040].' He persisted much too long, and appeared to Johnson as putting himself forward as his antagonist with too much presumption; upon which he called to him in a loud tone, 'What is it you are contending for, if you be contending?' And afterwards imagining that the gentleman retorted upon him with a kind of smart drollery, he said, 'Mr. ——, it does not become you to talk so to me. Besides, ridicule is not your talent; you have there neither intuition nor sagacity.' The gentleman protested that he had intended no improper freedom, but had the greatest respect for Dr. Johnson. After a short pause, during which we were somewhat uneasy,—JOHNSON. 'Give me your hand, Sir. You were too tedious, and I was too short.' MR. ——. 'Sir, I am honoured by your attention in any way.' JOHNSON. 'Come, Sir, let's have no more of it. We offended one another by our contention; let us not offend the company by our compliments.'

He now said, 'He wished much to go to Italy, and that he dreaded passing the winter in England.' I said nothing; but enjoyed a secret satisfaction in thinking that I had taken the most effectual measures to make such a scheme practicable.

On Monday, June 28, I had the honour to receive from the Lord Chancellor the following letter:—


I should have answered your letter immediately, if, (being much engaged when I received it) I had not put it in my pocket, and forgot to open it till this morning.

I am much obliged to you for the suggestion; and I will adopt and press it as far as I can. The best argument, I am sure, and I hope it is not likely to fail, is Dr. Johnson's merit. But it will be necessary, if I should be so unfortunate as to miss seeing you, to converse with Sir Joshua on the sum it will be proper to ask,—it short, upon the means of setting him out. It would be a reflection on us all, if such a man should perish for want of the means to take care of his health.

Yours, &c. THURLOW.'

This letter gave me a very high satisfaction; I next day went and shewed it to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was exceedingly pleased with it. He thought that I should now communicate the negociation to Dr. Johnson, who might afterwards complain if the attention with which he had been honoured, should be too long concealed from him. I intended to set out for Scotland next morning; but Sir Joshua cordially insisted that I should stay another day, that Johnson and I might dine with him, that we three might talk of his Italian Tour, and, as Sir Joshua expressed himself, 'have it all out.' I hastened to Johnson, and was told by him that he was rather better to-day. BOSWELL. 'I am very anxious about you, Sir, and particularly that you should go to Italy for the winter, which I believe is your own wish.' JOHNSON. 'It is, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'You have no objection, I presume, but the money it would require.' JOHNSON. 'Why, no, Sir.' Upon which I gave him a particular account of what had been done, and read to him the Lord Chancellor's letter. He listened with much attention; then warmly said, 'This is taking prodigious pains about a man.' 'O! Sir, (said I, with most sincere affection,) your friends would do every thing for you.' He paused, grew more and more agitated, till tears started into his eyes, and he exclaimed with fervent emotion, 'GOD bless you all.' I was so affected that I also shed tears. After a short silence, he renewed and extended his grateful benediction, 'GOD bless you all, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake.' We both remained for some time unable to speak. He rose suddenly and quitted the room, quite melted in tenderness. He staid but a short time, till he had recovered his firmness; soon after he returned I left him, having first engaged him to dine at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, next day. I never was again under that roof which I had so long reverenced.

On Wednesday, June 30, the friendly confidential dinner with Sir Joshua Reynolds took place, no other company being present. Had I known that this was the last time that I should enjoy in this world, the conversation of a friend whom I so much respected, and from whom I derived so much instruction and entertainment, I should have been deeply affected. When I now look back to it, I am vexed that a single word should have been forgotten.

Both Sir Joshua and I were so sanguine in our expectations, that we expatiated with confidence on the liberal provision which we were sure would be made for him, conjecturing whether munificence would be displayed in one large donation, or in an ample increase of his pension. He himself catched so much of our enthusiasm, as to allow himself to suppose it not impossible that our hopes might in one way or other be realised. He said that he would rather have his pension doubled than a grant of a thousand pounds; 'For, (said he,) though probably I may not live to receive as much as a thousand pounds, a man would have the consciousness that he should pass the remainder of his life in splendour, how long soever it might be.' Considering what a moderate proportion an income of six hundred pounds a year bears to innumerable fortunes in this country, it is worthy of remark, that a man so truly great should think it splendour[1041].

As an instance of extraordinary liberality of friendship, he told us, that Dr. Brocklesby had upon this occasion offered him a hundred a year for his life[1042]. A grateful tear started into his eye, as he spoke this in a faultering tone.

Sir Joshua and I endeavoured to flatter his imagination with agreeable prospects of happiness in Italy. 'Nay, (said he,) I must not expect much of that; when a man goes to Italy merely to feel how he breathes the air, he can enjoy very little.'

Our conversation turned upon living in the country, which Johnson, whose melancholy mind required the dissipation of quick successive variety, had habituated himself to consider as a kind of mental imprisonment[1043]. 'Yet, Sir, (said I,) there are many people who are content to live in the country.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is in the intellectual world as in the physical world; we are told by natural philosophers that a body is at rest in the place that is fit for it; they who are content to live in the country, are fit for the country.'

Talking of various enjoyments, I argued that a refinement of taste was a disadvantage, as they who have attained to it must be seldomer pleased than those who have no nice discrimination, and are therefore satisfied with every thing that comes in their way. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir; that is a paltry notion. Endeavour to be as perfect as you can in every respect.'

I accompanied him in Sir Joshua Reynolds's coach, to the entry of Bolt-court. He asked me whether I would not go with him to his house; I declined it, from an apprehension that my spirits would sink. We bade adieu to each other affectionately in the carriage. When he had got down upon the foot-pavement, he called out, 'Fare you well;' and without looking back, sprung away with a kind of pathetick briskness, if I may use that expression, which seemed to indicate a struggle to conceal uneasiness, and impressed me with a foreboding of our long, long separation.

I remained one day more in town, to have the chance of talking over my negociation with the Lord Chancellor; but the multiplicity of his Lordship's important engagements did not allow of it; so I left the management of the business in the hands of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Soon after this time Dr. Johnson had the mortification of being informed by Mrs. Thrale, that, 'what she supposed he never believed[1044],' was true; namely, that she was actually going to marry Signor Piozzi, an Italian musick-master[1045]. He endeavoured to prevent it; but in vain. If she would publish the whole of the correspondence that passed between Dr. Johnson and her on the subject, we should have a full view of his real sentiments. As it is, our judgement must be biassed by that characteristick specimen which Sir John Hawkins has given us: 'Poor Thrale! I thought that either her virtue or her vice would have restrained her from such a marriage. She is now become a subject for her enemies to exult over; and for her friends, if she has any left, to forget, or pity[1046].'

It must be admitted that Johnson derived a considerable portion of happiness from the comforts and elegancies which he enjoyed in Mr. Thrale's family[1047]; but Mrs. Thrale assures us he was indebted for these to her husband alone, who certainly respected him sincerely. Her words are,—

'Veneration for his virtue, reverence for his talents, delight in his conversation, and habitual endurance of a yoke my husband first put upon me, and of which he contentedly bore his share for sixteen or seventeen years, made me go on so long with Mr. Johnson; but the perpetual confinement I will own to have been terrifying in the first years of our friendship, and irksome in the last; nor could I pretend to support it without help, when my coadjutor was no more[1048].'

Alas! how different is this from the declarations which I have heard Mrs. Thrale make in his life-time, without a single murmur against any peculiarities, or against any one circumstance which attended their intimacy[1049].

As a sincere friend of the great man whose Life I am writing, I think it necessary to guard my readers against the mistaken notion of Dr. Johnson's character, which this lady's Anecdotes of him suggest; for from the very nature and form of her book, 'it lends deception lighter wings to fly'.[1050]

'Let it be remembered, (says an eminent critick[1051],) that she has comprised in a small volume all that she could recollect of Dr. Johnson in twenty years, during which period, doubtless, some severe things were said by him; and they who read the book in two hours, naturally enough suppose that his whole conversation was of this complexion. But the fact is, I have been often in his company, and never once heard him say a severe thing to any one; and many others can attest the same[1052]. When he did say a severe thing, it was generally extorted by ignorance pretending to knowledge, or by extreme vanity or affectation.

'Two instances of inaccuracy, (adds he,) are peculiarly worthy of notice:

'It is said, "That natural[1053] roughness of his manner so often mentioned, would, notwithstanding the regularity of his notions, burst through them all from time to time; and he once bade a very celebrated lady, who praised him with too much zeal perhaps, or perhaps too strong an emphasis, (which always offended him,) consider what her flattery was worth, before she choaked him with it."

'Now let the genuine anecdote be contrasted with this. The person thus represented as being harshly treated, though a very celebrated lady[1054], was then just come to London from an obscure situation in the country. At Sir Joshua Reynolds's one evening, she met Dr. Johnson. She very soon began to pay her court to him in the most fulsome strain. "Spare me, I beseech you, dear Madam," was his reply. She still laid it on. "Pray, Madam, let us have no more of this;" he rejoined. Not paying any attention to these warnings, she continued still her eulogy. At length, provoked by this indelicate and vain obtrusion of compliment, he exclaimed, "Dearest lady, consider with yourself what your flattery is worth, before you bestow it so freely[1055]."

'How different does this story appear, when accompanied with all these circumstances which really belong to it, but which Mrs. Thrale either did not know, or has suppressed.

'She says, in another place[1056], "One gentleman, however, who dined at a nobleman's house in his company, and that of Mr. Thrale, to whom I was obliged for the anecdote, was willing to enter the lists in defence of King William's character; and having opposed and contradicted Johnson two or three times, petulantly enough, the master of the house began to feel uneasy, and expect disagreeable consequences; to avoid which, he said, loud enough for the Doctor to hear,—'Our friend here has no meaning now in all this, except just to relate at club to-morrow how he teized Johnson at dinner to-day; this is all to do himself honour.' No, upon my word, (replied the other,') I see no honour in it, whatever you may do. Well, Sir, (returned Mr. Johnson, sternly,) if you do not see the honour, I am sure I feel the disgrace."

'This is all sophisticated. Mr. Thrale was not in the company, though he might have related the story to Mrs. Thrale. A friend, from whom I had the story, was present; and it was not at the house of a nobleman. On the observation being made by the master of the house on a gentleman's contradicting Johnson, that he had talked for the honour, &c., the gentleman muttered in a low voice, "I see no honour in it;" and Dr. Johnson said nothing: so all the rest, (though bien trouvée) is mere garnish.'

I have had occasion several times, in the course of this work, to point out the incorrectness of Mrs. Thrale, as to particulars which consisted with my own knowledge[1057]. But indeed she has, in flippant terms enough, expressed her disapprobation of that anxious desire of authenticity which prompts a person who is to record conversations, to write them down at the moment[1058]. Unquestionably, if they are to be recorded at all, the sooner it is done the better. This lady herself says[1059],—

'To recollect, however, and to repeat the sayings of Dr. Johnson, is almost all that can be done by the writers of his Life; as his life, at least since my acquaintance with him, consisted in little else than talking, when he was not [absolutely] employed in some serious piece of work.'

She boasts of her having kept a common-place book[1060]; and we find she noted, at one time or other, in a very lively manner, specimens of the conversation of Dr. Johnson, and of those who talked with him; but had she done it recently, they probably would have been less erroneous; and we should have been relieved from those disagreeable doubts of their authenticity, with which we must now peruse them.

She says of him[1061],—

'He was the most charitable of mortals, without being what we call an active friend. Admirable at giving counsel; no man saw his way so clearly; but he would not stir a finger for the assistance of those to whom he was willing enough to give advice.' And again on the same page, 'If you wanted a slight favour, you must apply to people of other dispositions; for not a step would Johnson move to obtain a man a vote in a society, to repay a compliment which might be useful or pleasing, to write a letter of request, &c., or to obtain a hundred pounds a year more for a friend who, perhaps, had already two or three. No force could urge him to diligence, no importunity could conquer his resolution to stand still.'

It is amazing that one who had such opportunities of knowing Dr. Johnson, should appear so little acquainted with his real character. I am sorry this lady does not advert, that she herself contradicts the assertion of his being obstinately defective in the petites morales, in the little endearing charities of social life, in conferring smaller favours; for she says[1062],—

'Dr. Johnson was liberal enough in granting literary assistance to others, I think; and innumerable are the Prefaces, Sermons, Lectures, and Dedications which he used to make for people who begged of him.'

I am certain that a more active friend has rarely been found in any age[1063]. This work, which I fondly hope will rescue his memory from obloquy, contains a thousand instances of his benevolent exertions in almost every way that can be conceived; and particularly in employing his pen with a generous readiness for those to whom its aid could be useful. Indeed his obliging activity in doing little offices of kindness, both by letters and personal application, was one of the most remarkable features in his character; and for the truth of this I can appeal to a number of his respectable friends: Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Langton, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, Mr. Malone, the Bishop of Dromore, Sir William Scott, Sir Robert Chambers. And can Mrs. Thrale forget the advertisements which he wrote for her husband at the time of his election contest[1064]; the epitaphs on him and her mother[1065]; the playful and even trifling verses, for the amusement of her and her daughters; his corresponding with her children[1066], and entering into their minute concerns[1067], which shews him in the most amiable light? She relates[1068],—

That Mr. Ch-lm-ley unexpectedly rode up to Mr. Thrale's carriage, in which Mr. Thrale and she, and Dr. Johnson were travelling; that he paid them all his proper compliments, but observing that Dr. Johnson, who was reading, did not see him, 'tapt him gently on the shoulder. "'Tis Mr. Ch-lm-ley;" says my husband. "Well, Sir—and what if it is Mr. Ch-lm-ley;" says the other, sternly, just lifting his eyes a moment from his book, and returning to it again, with renewed avidity.'

This surely conveys a notion of Johnson, as if he had been grossly rude to Mr. Cholmondeley[1069], a gentleman whom he always loved and esteemed. If, therefore, there was an absolute necessity for mentioning the story at all, it might have been thought that her tenderness for Dr. Johnson's character would have disposed her to state any thing that could soften it. Why then is there a total silence as to what Mr. Cholmondeley told her?—that Johnson, who had known him from his earliest years, having been made sensible of what had doubtless a strange appearance, took occasion, when he afterwards met him, to make a very courteous and kind apology. There is another little circumstance which I cannot but remark. Her book was published in 1785, she had then in her possession a letter from Dr. Johnson, dated in 1777[1070], which begins thus:—'Cholmondeley's story shocks me, if it be true, which I can hardly think, for I am utterly unconscious of it: I am very sorry, and very much ashamed[1071].' Why then publish the anecdote? Or if she did, why not add the circumstances, with which she was well acquainted!

In his social intercourse she thus describes him[1072]:—

'Ever musing till he was called out to converse, and conversing till the fatigue of his friends, or the promptitude of his own temper to take offence, consigned him back again to silent meditation.'

Yet, in the same book[1073], she tells us,—

'He was, however, seldom inclined to be silent, when any moral or literary question was started; and it was on such occasions that, like the Sage in "Rasselas[1074]," he spoke, and attention watched his lips; he reasoned, and conviction closed his periods.'

His conversation, indeed, was so far from ever fatiguing his friends, that they regretted when it was interrupted, or ceased, and could exclaim in Milton's language,—

'With thee conversing, I forget all time[1075].'

I certainly, then, do not claim too much in behalf of my illustrious friend in saying, that however smart and entertaining Mrs. Thrale's Anecdotes are, they must not be held as good evidence against him; for wherever an instance of harshness and severity is told, I beg leave to doubt its perfect authenticity; for though there may have been some foundation for it, yet, like that of his reproof to the 'very celebrated lady,' it may be so exhibited in the narration as to be very unlike the real fact.

The evident tendency of the following anecdote[1076] is to represent Dr. Johnson as extremely deficient in affection, tenderness, or even common civility:—

'When I one day lamented the loss of a first cousin killed in America,—"Prithee, my dear, (said he,) have done with canting; how would the world be the worse for it, I may ask, if all your relations were at once spitted like larks, and roasted for Presto's supper?"—Presto[1077] was the dog that lay under the table while we talked.'

I suspect this too of exaggeration and distortion. I allow that he made her an angry speech; but let the circumstances fairly appear, as told by Mr. Baretti, who was present:—

'Mrs. Thrale, while supping very heartily upon larks, laid down her knife and fork, and abruptly exclaimed, "O, my dear Mr. Johnson, do you know what has happened? The last letters from abroad have brought us an account that our poor cousin's head was taken off by a cannon-ball." Johnson, who was shocked both at the fact, and her light unfeeling manner of mentioning it, replied, "Madam, it would give you very little concern if all your relations were spitted like those larks, and drest for Presto's supper[1078]."'

It is with concern that I find myself obliged to animadvert on the inaccuracies of Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, and perhaps I may be thought to have dwelt too long upon her little collection. But as from Johnson's long residence under Mr. Thrale's roof, and his intimacy with her, the account which she has given of him may have made an unfavourable and unjust impression, my duty, as a faithful biographer, has obliged me reluctantly to perform this unpleasing task.

Having left the pious negotiation, as I called it, in the best hands, I shall here insert what relates to it. Johnson wrote to Sir Joshua Reynolds on July 6, as follows:—

'I am going, I hope, in a few days, to try the air of Derbyshire, but hope to see you before I go. Let me, however, mention to you what I have much at heart. If the Chancellor should continue his attention to Mr. Boswell's request, and confer with you on the means of relieving my languid state, I am very desirous to avoid the appearance of asking money upon false pretences. I desire you to represent to his Lordship, what, as soon as it is suggested, he will perceive to be reasonable,—That, if I grow much worse, I shall be afraid to leave my physicians, to suffer the inconveniences of travel, and pine in the solitude of a foreign country; That, if I grow much better, of which indeed there is now little appearance, I shall not wish to leave my friends and my domestick comforts; for I do not travel for pleasure or curiosity; yet if I should recover, curiosity would revive. In my present state, I am desirous to make a struggle for a little longer life, and hope to obtain some help from a softer climate. Do for me what you can.'

He wrote to me July 26:—

'I wish your affairs could have permitted a longer and continued exertion of your zeal and kindness. They that have your kindness may want your ardour. In the mean time I am very feeble and very dejected.'

By a letter from Sir Joshua Reynolds I was informed, that the Lord Chancellor had called on him, and acquainted him that the application had not been successful; but that his Lordship, after speaking highly in praise of Johnson, as a man who was an honour to his country, desired Sir Joshua to let him know, that on granting a mortgage of his pension, he should draw on his Lordship to the amount of five or six hundred pounds; and that his Lordship explained the meaning of the mortgage to be, that he wished the business to be conducted in such a manner, that Dr. Johnson should appear to be under the least possible obligation. Sir Joshua mentioned, that he had by the same post communicated all this to Dr. Johnson.

How Johnson was affected upon the occasion will appear from what he wrote to Sir Joshua Reynolds:—

'Ashbourne, Sept. 9. Many words I hope are not necessary between you and me, to convince you what gratitude is excited in my heart by the Chancellor's liberality, and your kind offices....[1079] I have enclosed a letter to the Chancellor, which, when you have read it, you will be pleased to seal with a head, or any other general seal, and convey it to him: had I sent it directly to him, I should have seemed to overlook the favour of your intervention.'


MY LORD, After a long and not inattentive observation of mankind, the generosity of your Lordship's offer raises in me not less wonder than gratitude[1081]. Bounty, so liberally bestowed, I should gladly receive, if my condition made it necessary; for, to such a mind, who would not be proud to own his obligations? But it has pleased GOD to restore me to so great a measure of health, that if I should now appropriate so much of a fortune destined to do good, I could not escape from myself the charge of advancing a false claim. My journey to the continent, though I once thought it necessary, was never much encouraged by my physicians; and I was very desirous that your Lordship should be told of it by Sir Joshua Reynolds, as an event very uncertain; for if I grew much better, I should not be willing, if much worse, not able, to migrate. Your Lordship was first solicited without my knowledge; but, when I was told that you were pleased to honour me with your patronage, I did not expect to hear of a refusal; yet, as I have had no long time to brood hope, and have not rioted in imaginary opulence, this cold reception has been scarce a disappointment; and, from your Lordship's kindness, I have received a benefit, which only men like you are able to bestow. I shall now live mihi carior, with a higher opinion of my own merit.

     'I am, my Lord,
        Your Lordship's most obliged,
           Most grateful, and
              Most humble servant,
                       SAM. JOHNSON.'

'September, 1784.'

Upon this unexpected failure I abstain from presuming to make any remarks, or to offer any conjectures.[1082]

Having after repeated reasonings[1083], brought Dr. Johnson to agree to my removing to London, and even to furnish me with arguments in favour of what he had opposed; I wrote to him requesting he would write them for me; he was so good as to comply, and I shall extract that part of his letter to me of June 11[1084], as a proof how well he could exhibit a cautious yet encouraging view of it:—

'I remember, and intreat you to remember, that virtus est vitium fugere[1085]; the first approach to riches is security from poverty. The condition on which you have my consent to settle in London is, that your expence never exceeds your annual income. Fixing this basis of security, you cannot be hurt, and you may be very much advanced. The loss of your Scottish business, which is all that you can lose, is not to be reckoned as any equivalent to the hopes and possibilities that open here upon you. If you succeed, the question of prudence is at an end; every body will think that done right which ends happily; and though your expectations, of which I would not advise you to talk too much, should not be totally answered, you can hardly fail to get friends who will do for you all that your present situation allows you to hope; and if, after a few years, you should return to Scotland, you will return with a mind supplied by various conversation, and many opportunities of enquiry, with much knowledge, and materials for reflection and instruction.'

Let us now contemplate Johnson thirty years after the death of his wife, still retaining for her all the tenderness of affection.


'Perhaps you may remember, that in the year 1753[1087], you committed to the ground my dear wife. I now entreat your permission to lay a stone upon her; and have sent the inscription, that, if you find it proper, you may signify your allowance.

'You will do me a great favour by showing the place where she lies, that the stone may protect her remains.

'Mr. Ryland[1088] will wait on you for the inscription[1089], and procure it to be engraved. You will easily believe that I shrink from this mournful office. When it is done, if I have strength remaining, I will visit Bromley once again, and pay you part of the respect to which you have a right from, Reverend Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON[1090].'

'July 12, 1784.'

On the same day he wrote to Mr. Langton:—

'I cannot but think that in my languid and anxious state, I have some reason to complain that I receive from you neither enquiry nor consolation. You know how much I value your friendship, and with what confidence I expect your kindness, if I wanted any act of tenderness that you could perform; at least, if you do not know it, I think your ignorance is your own fault. Yet how long is it that I have lived almost in your neighbourhood without the least notice. I do not, however, consider this neglect as particularly shown to me; I hear two of your most valuable friends make the same complaint. But why are all thus overlooked? You are not oppressed by sickness, you are not distracted by business; if you are sick, you are sick of leisure:—And allow yourself to be told, that no disease is more to be dreaded or avoided. Rather to do nothing than to do good, is the lowest state of a degraded mind. Boileau says to his pupil,

     'Que les vers ne soient pas votre éternel emploi,
      Cultivez vos amis1091.'—

That voluntary debility, which modern language is content to term indolence, will, if it is not counteracted by resolution, render in time the strongest faculties lifeless, and turn the flame to the smoke of virtue. I do not expect nor desire to see you, because I am much pleased to find that your mother stays so long with you, and I should think you neither elegant nor grateful, if you did not study her gratification. You will pay my respects to both the ladies, and to all the young people. I am going Northward for a while, to try what help the country can give me; but, if you will write, the letter will come after me.'

Next day he set out on a jaunt to Staffordshire and Derbyshire, flattering himself that he might be in some degree relieved.

During his absence from London he kept up a correspondence with several of his friends, from which I shall select what appears to me proper for publication, without attending nicely to chronological order.

To Dr. BROCKLESBY, he writes, Ashbourne, July 20:—

'The kind attention which you have so long shewn to my health and happiness, makes it as much a debt of gratitude as a call of interest, to give you an account of what befals me, when accident recovers[1092] me from your immediate care. The journey of the first day was performed with very little sense of fatigue; the second day brought me to Lichfield, without much lassitude; but I am afraid that I could not have borne such violent agitation for many days together. Tell Dr. Heberden, that in the coach I read Ciceronianus which I concluded as I entered Lichfield. My affection and understanding went along with Erasmus, except that once or twice he somewhat unskilfully entangles Cicero's civil or moral, with his rhetorical, character. I staid five days at Lichfield, but, being unable to walk, had no great pleasure, and yesterday (19th) I came hither, where I am to try what air and attention can perform. Of any improvement in my health I cannot yet please myself with the perception.—The asthma has no abatement. Opiates stop the fit, so as that I can sit and sometimes lie easy, but they do not now procure me the power of motion; and I am afraid that my general strength of body does not encrease. The weather indeed is not benign; but how low is he sunk whose strength depends upon the weather[1093]! I am now looking into Floyer[1094] who lived with his asthma to almost his ninetieth year. His book by want of order is obscure, and his asthma, I think, not of the same kind with mine. Something however I may perhaps learn. My appetite still continues keen enough; and what I consider as a symptom of radical health, I have a voracious delight in raw summer fruit, of which I was less eager a few years ago[1095]. You will be pleased to communicate this account to Dr. Heberden, and if any thing is to be done, let me have your joint opinion. Now—abite curoe;—let me enquire after the Club[1096].'

July 31. 'Not recollecting that Dr. Heberden might be at Windsor, I thought your letter long in coming. But, you know, nocitura petuntur[1097], the letter which I so much desired, tells me that I have lost one of my best and tenderest friends[1098]. My comfort is, that he appeared to live like a man that had always before his eyes the fragility of our present existence, and was therefore, I hope, not unprepared to meet his judge. Your attention, dear Sir, and that of Dr. Heberden, to my health, is extremely kind. I am loth to think that I grow worse; and cannot fairly prove even to my own partiality, that I grow much better.'

August 5. 'I return you thanks, dear Sir, for your unwearied attention, both medicinal and friendly, and hope to prove the effect of your care by living to acknowledge it.'

August 12[1099]. 'Pray be so kind as to have me in your thoughts, and mention my case to others as you have opportunity. I seem to myself neither to gain nor lose strength. I have lately tried milk, but have yet found no advantage, and am afraid of it merely as a liquid. My appetite is still good, which I know is dear Dr. Heberden's criterion of the vis vitoe. As we cannot now see each other, do not omit to write, for you cannot think with what warmth of expectation I reckon the hours of a post-day.'

August 14. 'I have hitherto sent you only melancholy letters, you will be glad to hear some better account. Yesterday the asthma remitted, perceptibly remitted, and I moved with more ease than I have enjoyed for many weeks. May GOD continue his mercy. This account I would not delay, because I am not a lover of complaints, or complainers, and yet I have since we parted uttered nothing till now but terrour and sorrow. Write to me, dear Sir.'

August 16. 'Better I hope, and better. My respiration gets more and more ease and liberty. I went to church yesterday, after a very liberal dinner, without any inconvenience; it is indeed no long walk, but I never walked it without difficulty, since I came, before.—the intention was only to overpower the seeming vis inertioe of the pectoral and pulmonary muscles. I am favoured with a degree of ease that very much delights me, and do not despair of another race upon the stairs of the Academy[1100]. If I were, however, of a humour to see, or to shew the state of my body, on the dark side, I might say,

     "Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una1101?"

The nights are still sleepless, and the water rises, though it does not rise very fast. Let us, however, rejoice in all the good that we have. The remission of one disease will enable nature to combat the rest. The squills I have not neglected; for I have taken more than a hundred drops a day, and one day took two hundred and fifty, which, according to the popular equivalence of a drop to a grain, is more than half an ounce. I thank you, dear Sir, for your attention in ordering the medicines; your attention to me has never failed. If the virtue of medicines could be enforced by the benevolence of the prescriber, how soon should I be well.'

August 19. 'The relaxation of the asthma still continues, yet I do not trust it wholly to itself, but soothe it now and then with an opiate. I not only perform the perpetual act of respiration with less labour, but I can walk with fewer intervals of rest, and with greater freedom of motion. I never thought well of Dr. James's compounded medicines[1102]; his ingredients appeared to me sometimes inefficacious and trifling, and sometimes heterogeneous and destructive of each other. This prescription exhibits a composition of about three hundred and thirty grains, in which there are four grains of emetick tartar, and six drops [of] thebaick tincture. He that writes thus, surely writes for show. The basis of his medicine is the gum ammoniacum, which dear Dr. Lawrence used to give, but of which I never saw any effect. We will, if you please, let this medicine alone. The squills have every suffrage, and in the squills we will rest for the present.'

August 21. 'The kindness which you shew by having me in your thoughts upon all occasions, will, I hope, always fill my heart with gratitude. Be pleased to return my thanks to Sir George Baker[1103], for the consideration which he has bestowed upon me. Is this the balloon that has been so long expected, this balloon to which I subscribed, but without payment[1104]? It is pity that philosophers have been disappointed, and shame that they have been cheated; but I know not well how to prevent either. Of this experiment I have read nothing; where was it exhibited? and who was the man that ran away with so much money? Continue, dear Sir, to write often and more at a time; for none of your prescriptions operate to their proper uses more certainly than your letters operate as cordials.'

August 26. 'I suffered you to escape last post without a letter, but you are not to expect such indulgence very often; for I write not so much because I have any thing to say, as because I hope for an answer; and the vacancy of my life here makes a letter of great value. I have here little company and little amusement, and thus abandoned to the contemplation of my own miseries, I am sometimes gloomy and depressed; this too I resist as I can, and find opium, I think, useful, but I seldom take more than one grain. Is not this strange weather? Winter absorbed the spring, and now autumn is come before we have had summer. But let not our kindness for each other imitate the inconstancy of the seasons.'

Sept. 2. 'Mr. Windham has been here to see me; he came, I think, forty miles out of his way, and staid about a day and a half, perhaps I make the time shorter than it was. Such conversation I shall not have again till I come back to the regions of literature; and there Windham is, inter stellas[1105] Luna minores[1106].' He then mentions the effects of certain medicines, as taken; that 'Nature is recovering its original powers, and the functions returning to their proper state. God continue his mercies, and grant me to use them rightly.'

Sept. 9. 'Do you know the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire? And have you ever seen Chatsworth? I was at Chatsworth on Monday: I had indeed seen it before[1107], but never when its owners were at home; I was very kindly received, and honestly pressed to stay: but I told them that a sick man is not a fit inmate of a great house. But I hope to go again some time.'

Sept. 11. 'I think nothing grows worse, but all rather better, except sleep, and that of late has been at its old pranks. Last evening, I felt what I had not known for a long time, an inclination to walk for amusement; I took a short walk, and came back again neither breathless nor fatigued. This has been a gloomy, frigid, ungenial summer, but of late it seems to mend; I hear the heat sometimes mentioned, but I do not feel it:

     "Praterea minimus gelido jam in corpore sanguis
      Febre calet solá1108.——"

I hope, however, with good help, to find means of supporting a winter at home, and to hear and tell at the Club what is doing, and what ought to be doing in the world. I have no company here, and shall naturally come home hungry for conversation. To wish you, dear Sir, more leisure, would not be kind; but what leisure you have, you must bestow upon me.'

Sept. 16. 'I have now let you alone for a long time, having indeed little to say. You charge me somewhat unjustly with luxury. At Chatsworth, you should remember, that I have eaten but once; and the Doctor, with whom I live, follows a milk diet. I grow no fatter, though my stomach, if it be not disturbed by physick, never fails me. I now grow weary of solitude, and think of removing next week to Lichfield, a place of more society, but otherwise of less convenience. When I am settled, I shall write again. Of the hot weather that you mention, we have [not] had in Derbyshire very much, and for myself I seldom feel heat, and suppose that my frigidity is the effect of my distemper; a supposition which naturally leads me to hope that a hotter climate may be useful. But I hope to stand another English winter.'

Lichfield, Sept. 29. 'On one day I had three letters about the air-balloon[1109]: yours was far the best, and has enabled me to impart to my friends in the country an idea of this species of amusement. In amusement, mere amusement, I am afraid it must end, for I do not find that its course can be directed so as that it should serve any purposes of communication; and it can give no new intelligence of the state of the air at different heights, till they have ascended above the height of mountains, which they seem never likely to do. I came hither on the 27th. How long I shall stay I have not determined. My dropsy is gone, and my asthma much remitted, but I have felt myself a little declining these two days, or at least to-day; but such vicissitudes must be expected. One day may be worse than another; but this last month is far better than the former; if the next should be as much better than this, I shall run about the town on my own legs.'

October 6. 'The fate of the balloon I do not much lament[1110]: to make new balloons, is to repeat the jest again. We now know a method of mounting into the air, and, I think, are not likely to know more. The vehicles can serve no use till we can guide them; and they can gratify no curiosity till we mount with them to greater heights than we can reach without; till we rise above the tops of the highest mountains, which we have yet not done. We know the state of the air in all its regions, to the top of Teneriffe, and therefore, learn nothing from those who navigate a balloon below the clouds. The first experiment, however, was bold, and deserved applause and reward. But since it has been performed, and its event is known, I had rather now find a medicine that can ease an asthma.'

October 25. 'You write to me with a zeal that animates, and a tenderness that melts me. I am not afraid either of a journey to London, or a residence in it. I came down with little fatigue, and am now not weaker. In the smoky atmosphere I was delivered from the dropsy, which I consider as the original and radical disease. The town is my element[1111]; there are my friends, there are my books, to which I have not yet bid farewell, and there are my amusements. Sir Joshua told me long ago that my vocation was to publick life, and I hope still to keep my station, till GOD shall bid me Go in peace[1112].'


Ashbourne, Aug. 7. 'Since I was here I have two little letters from you, and have not had the gratitude to write. But every man is most free with his best friends, because he does not suppose that they can suspect him of intentional incivility. One reason for my omission is, that being in a place to which you are wholly a stranger, I have no topicks of correspondence. If you had any knowledge of Ashbourne, I could tell you of two Ashbourne men, who, being last week condemned at Derby to be hanged for a robbery, went and hanged themselves in their cell[1113]. But this, however it may supply us with talk, is nothing to you. Your kindness, I know, would make you glad to hear some good of me, but I have not much good to tell; if I grow not worse, it is all that I can say. I hope Mrs. Hoole receives more help from her migration. Make her my compliments, and write again to, dear Sir, your affectionate servant.'

Aug. 13. 'I thank you for your affectionate letter. I hope we shall both be the better for each other's friendship, and I hope we shall not very quickly be parted. Tell Mr. Nicholls that I shall be glad of his correspondence, when his business allows him a little remission; though to wish him less business, that I may have more pleasure, would be too selfish. To pay for seats at the balloon is not very necessary, because in less than a minute, they who gaze at a mile's distance will see all that can be seen. About the wings[1114] I am of your mind; they cannot at all assist it, nor I think regulate its motion. I am now grown somewhat easier in my body, but my mind is sometimes depressed. About the Club I am in no great pain. The forfeitures go on, and the house, I hear, is improved for our future meetings. I hope we shall meet often and sit long.'

Sept. 4. 'Your letter was, indeed, long in coming, but it was very welcome. Our acquaintance has now subsisted long[1115] and our recollection of each other involves a great space, and many little occurrences, which melt the thoughts to tenderness. Write to me, therefore, as frequently as you can. I hear from Dr. Brocklesby and Mr. Ryland, that the Club is not crouded. I hope we shall enliven it when winter brings us together.'


August 2. 'The weather, you know, has not been balmy; I am now reduced to think, and am at last content to talk of the weather. Pride must have a fall[1116]. I have lost dear Mr. Allen, and wherever I turn, the dead or the dying meet my notice, and force my attention upon misery and mortality. Mrs. Burney's escape from so much danger, and her ease after so much pain, throws, however, some radiance of hope upon the gloomy prospect. May her recovery be perfect, and her continuance long. I struggle hard for life. I take physick, and take air; my friend's chariot is always ready. We have run this morning twenty-four miles, and could run forty-eight more. But who can run the race with death?'

'Sept. 4. [Concerning a private transaction, in which his opinion was asked, and after giving it he makes the following reflections, which are applicable on other occasions.] Nothing deserves more compassion than wrong conduct with good meaning; than loss or obloquy suffered by one who, as he is conscious only of good intentions, wonders why he loses that kindness which he wishes to preserve; and not knowing his own fault, if, as may sometimes happen, nobody will tell him, goes on to offend by his endeavours to please. I am delighted by finding that our opinions are the same. You will do me a real kindness by continuing to write. A post-day has now been long a day of recreation.'

Nov. 1. 'Our correspondence paused for want of topicks. I had said what I had to say on the matter proposed to my consideration; and nothing remained but to tell you, that I waked or slept; that I was more or less sick. I drew my thoughts in upon myself, and supposed yours employed upon your book. That your book[1117] has been delayed I am glad, since you have gained an opportunity of being more exact. Of the caution necessary in adjusting narratives there is no end. Some tell what they do not know, that they may not seem ignorant, and others from mere indifference about truth. All truth is not, indeed, of equal importance; but, if little violations are allowed, every violation will in time be thought little; and a writer should keep himself vigilantly on his guard against the first temptations to negligence or supineness. I had ceased to write, because respecting you I had no more to say, and respecting myself could say little good. I cannot boast of advancement, and in cases of convalescence it may be said, with few exceptions, non progredi, est regredi. I hope I may be excepted. My great difficulty was with my sweet Fanny[1118], who, by her artifice of inserting her letter in yours, had given me a precept of frugality[1119] which I was not at liberty to neglect; and I know not who were in town under whose cover I could send my letter[1120]. I rejoice to hear that you are all so well, and have a delight particularly sympathetick in the recovery of Mrs. Burney.'


Aug. 25. 'The kindness of your last letter, and my omission to answer it, begins to give you, even in my opinion, a right to recriminate, and to charge me with forgetfulness for the absent. I will, therefore, delay no longer to give an account of myself, and wish I could relate what would please either myself or my friend. On July 13, I left London, partly in hope of help from new air and change of place, and partly excited by the sick man's impatience of the present. I got to Lichfield in a stage vehicle, with very little fatigue, in two days, and had the consolation[1121] to find, that since my last visit my three old acquaintance are all dead. July 20, I went to Ashbourne, where I have been till now; the house in which we live is repairing. I live in too much solitude, and am often deeply dejected: I wish we were nearer, and rejoice in your removal to London. A friend, at once cheerful and serious, is a great acquisition. Let us not neglect one another for the little time which Providence allows us to hope. Of my health I cannot tell you, what my wishes persuaded me to expect, that it is much improved by the season or by remedies. I am sleepless; my legs grow weary with a very few steps, and the water breaks its boundaries in some degree. The asthma, however, has remitted; my breath is still much obstructed, but is more free than it was. Nights of watchfulness produce torpid days; I read very little, though I am alone; for I am tempted to supply in the day what I lost in bed. This is my history; like all other histories, a narrative of misery. Yet am I so much better than in the beginning of the year, that I ought to be ashamed of complaining. I now sit and write with very little sensibility of pain or weakness; but when I rise, I shall find my legs betraying me. Of the money which you mentioned, I have no immediate need; keep it, however, for me, unless some exigence requires it. Your papers I will shew you certainly when you would see them, but I am a little angry at you for not keeping minutes of your own acceptum et expensum[1122], and think a little time might be spared from Aristophanes, for the res familiares. Forgive me for I mean well. I hope, dear Sir, that you and Lady Rothes, and all the young people, too many to enumerate, are well and happy. GOD bless you all.'


August. 'The tenderness with which you have been pleased to treat me, through my long illness, neither health nor sickness can, I hope, make me forget; and you are not to suppose, that after we parted you were no longer in my mind. But what can a sick man say, but that he is sick? His thoughts are necessarily concentered in himself; he neither receives nor can give delight; his enquiries are after alleviations of pain, and his efforts are to catch some momentary comfort. Though I am now in the neighbourhood of the Peak, you must expect no account of its wonders, of its hills, its waters, its caverns, or its mines; but I will tell you, dear Sir, what I hope you will not hear with less satisfaction, that, for about a week past, my asthma has been less afflictive.'

Lichfield. October 2[1123]. 'I believe you have been long enough acquainted with the phoenomena of sickness, not to be surprised that a sick man wishes to be where he is not, and where it appears to every body but himself that he might easily be, without having the resolution to remove. I thought Ashbourne a solitary place, but did not come hither till last Monday. I have here more company, but my health has for this last week not advanced; and in the languor of disease how little can be done? Whither or when I shall make my next remove I cannot tell; but I entreat you, dear Sir, to let me know, from time to time, where you may be found, for your residence is a very powerful attractive to, Sir, your most humble servant.'


'I cannot but flatter myself that your kindness for me will make you glad to know where I am, and in what state.

'I have been struggling very hard with my diseases. My breath has been very much obstructed, and the water has attempted to encroach upon me again. I past the first part of the summer at Oxford, afterwards I went to Lichfield, thence to Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, and a week ago I returned to Lichfield.

'My breath is now much easier, and the water is in a great measure run away, so that I hope to see you again before winter.

'Please to make my compliments to Mrs. Perkins, and to Mr. and Mrs. Barclay.

'I am, dear Sir, 'Your most humble servant, 'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'Lichfield, Oct. 4, 1784.'


'Considering what reason[1124] you gave me in the spring to conclude that you took part in whatever good or evil might befal me, I ought not to have omitted so long the account which I am now about to give you. My diseases are an asthma and a dropsy, and, what is less curable, seventy-five. Of the dropsy, in the beginning of the summer, or in the spring, I recovered to a degree which struck with wonder both me and my physicians: the asthma now is likewise, for a time, very much relieved. I went to Oxford, where the asthma was very tyrannical, and the dropsy began again to threaten me; but seasonable physick stopped the inundation: I then returned to London, and in July took a resolution to visit Staffordshire and Derbyshire, where I am yet struggling with my diseases. The dropsy made another attack, and was not easily ejected, but at last gave way. The asthma suddenly remitted in bed, on the 13th of August, and, though now very oppressive, is, I think, still something gentler than it was before the remission. My limbs are miserably debilitated, and my nights are sleepless and tedious. When you read this, dear Sir, you are not sorry that I wrote no sooner. I will not prolong my complaints. I hope still to see you in a happier hour[1125], to talk over what we have often talked, and perhaps to find new topicks of merriment, or new incitements to curiosity. I am, dear Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON. Lichfield, Oct. 20, 1784.'


Though in all my summer's excursion I have given you no account of myself, I hope you think better of me than to imagine it possible for me to forget you, whose kindness to me has been too great and too constant not to have made its impression on a harder breast than mine. Silence is not very culpable when nothing pleasing is suppressed. It would have alleviated none of your complaints to have read my vicissitudes of evil. I have struggled hard with very formidable and obstinate maladies; and though I cannot talk of health, think all praise due to my Creator and Preserver for the continuance of my life. The dropsy has made two attacks, and has given way to medicine; the asthma is very oppressive, but that has likewise once remitted. I am very weak, and very sleepless; but it is time to conclude the tale of misery. I hope, dear Sir, that you grow better, for you have likewise your share of human evil, and that your lady and the young charmers are well.

I am, dear Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.

Lichfield, Oct. 20, 1784.'

'To Mr. George Nicol[1127].

'Dear Sir, 'Since we parted, I have been much oppressed by my asthma, but it has lately been less laborious. When I sit I am almost at ease, and I can walk, though yet very little, with less difficulty for this week past, than before. I hope I shall again enjoy my friends, and that you and I shall have a little more literary conversation. Where I now am, every thing is very liberally provided for me but conversation. My friend is sick himself, and the reciprocation of complaints and groans affords not much of either pleasure or instruction. What we have not at home this town does not supply, and I shall be glad of a little imported intelligence, and hope that you will bestow, now and then, a little time on the relief and entertainment of, Sir, 'Yours, &c. 'Sam. Johnson.'

'Ashbourne, Aug. 19, 1784.'

'To Mr. Cruikshank.

'Dear Sir,

'Do not suppose that I forget you; I hope I shall never be accused of forgetting my benefactors[1128]. I had, till lately, nothing to write but complaints upon complaints, of miseries upon miseries; but within this fortnight I have received great relief. Have your Lectures any vacation? If you are released from the necessity of daily study, you may find time for a letter to me. [In this letter he states the particulars of his case.] In return for this account of my health, let me have a good account of yours, and of your prosperity in all your undertakings.

'I am, dear Sir, yours, &c. 'Sam. Johnson.' 'Ashbourne, Sept. 4, 1784.'

To Mr. Thomas Davies:—

August 14. 'The tenderness with which you always treat me, makes me culpable in my own eyes for having omitted to write in so long a separation; I had, indeed, nothing to say that you could wish to hear. All has been hitherto misery accumulated upon misery, disease corroborating disease, till yesterday my asthma was perceptibly and unexpectedly mitigated. I am much comforted with this short relief, and am willing to flatter myself that it may continue and improve. I have at present, such a degree of ease, as not only may admit the comforts, but the duties of life. Make my compliments to Mrs. Davies. Poor dear Allen, he was a good man.'


Ashbourne, July 21. 'The tenderness with which I am treated by my friends, makes it reasonable to suppose that they are desirous to know the state of my health, and a desire so benevolent ought to be gratified. I came to Lichfield in two days without any painful fatigue, and on Monday came hither, where I purpose to stay: and try what air and regularity will effect. I cannot yet persuade myself that I have made much progress in recovery. My sleep is little, my breath is very much encumbered, and my legs are very weak. The water has encreased a little, but has again run off. The most distressing symptom is want of sleep.'

August 19. 'Having had since our separation, little to say that could please you or myself by saying, I have not been lavish of useless letters; but I flatter myself that you will partake of the pleasure with which I can now tell you that about a week ago, I felt suddenly a sensible remission of my asthma, and consequently a greater lightness of action and motion. Of this grateful alleviation I know not the cause, nor dare depend upon its continuance, but while it lasts I endeavour to enjoy it, and am desirous of communicating, while it lasts, my pleasure to my friends. Hitherto, dear Sir, I had written before the post, which stays in this town but a little while, brought me your letter. Mr. Davies seems to have represented my little tendency to recovery in terms too splendid. I am still restless, still weak, still watery, but the asthma is less oppressive. Poor Ramsay[1129]! On which side soever I turn, mortality presents its formidable frown. I left three old friends at Lichfield when I was last there, and now found them all dead. I no sooner lose sight of dear Allen, than I am told that I shall see him no more. That we must all die, we always knew; I wish I had sooner remembered it. Do not think me intrusive or importunate, if I now call, dear Sir, on you to remember it.'

Sept. 2. 'I am glad that a little favour from the court has intercepted your furious purposes[1130]. I could not in any case have approved such publick violence of resentment, and should have considered any who encouraged it, as rather seeking sport for themselves, than honour for you. Resentment gratifies him who intended an injury, and pains him unjustly who did not intend it. But all this is now superfluous. I still continue by GOD'S mercy to mend. My breath is easier, my nights are quieter, and my legs are less in bulk, and stronger in use. I have, however, yet a great deal to overcome, before I can yet attain even an old man's health. Write, do write to me now and then; we are now old acquaintance, and perhaps few people have lived so much and so long together, with less cause of complaint on either side. The retrospection of this is very pleasant, and I hope we shall never think on each other with less kindness.'

Sept. 9. 'I could not answer your letter[1131] before this day, because I went on the sixth to Chatsworth, and did not come back till the post was gone. Many words, I hope, are not necessary between you and me, to convince you what gratitude is excited in my heart, by the Chancellor's liberality and your kind offices. I did not indeed expect that what was asked by the Chancellor would have been refused[1132], but since it has, we will not tell that any thing has been asked. I have enclosed a letter to the Chancellor which, when you have read it, you will be pleased to seal with a head, or other general seal, and convey it to him; had I sent it directly to him, I should have seemed to overlook the favour of your intervention. My last letter told you of my advance in health, which, I think, in the whole still continues. Of the hydropick tumour there is now very little appearance; the asthma is much less troublesome, and seems to remit something day after day. I do not despair of supporting an English winter. At Chatsworth, I met young Mr. Burke, who led me very commodiously into conversation with the Duke and Duchess. We had a very good morning. The dinner was publick[1133].'

Sept. 18. 'I flattered myself that this week would have given me a letter from you, but none has come. Write to me now and then, but direct your next to Lichfield. I think, and I hope, am sure, that I still grow better; I have sometimes good nights; but am still in my legs weak, but so much mended, that I go to Lichfield in hope of being able to pay my visits on foot, for there are no coaches. I have three letters this day, all about the balloon, I could have been content with one. Do not write about the balloon, whatever else you may think proper to say[1134].'

October 2. 'I am always proud of your approbation, and therefore was much pleased that you liked my letter. When you copied it[1135], you invaded the Chancellor's right rather than mine. The refusal I did not expect, but I had never thought much about it, for I doubted whether the Chancellor had so much tenderness for me as to ask. He, being keeper of the King's conscience, ought not to be supposed capable of an improper petition. All is not gold that glitters, as we have often been told; and the adage is verified in your place[1136] and my favour; but if what happens does not make us richer, we must bid it welcome, if it makes us wiser. I do not at present grow better, nor much worse; my hopes, however, are somewhat abated, and a very great loss is the loss of hope, but I struggle on as I can.'


Lichfield, Oct. 20. 'When you were here, you were pleased, as I am told, to think my absence an inconvenience. I should certainly have been very glad to give so skilful a lover of antiquities any information about my native place, of which, however, I know not much, and have reason to believe that not much is known. Though I have not given you any amusement, I have received amusement from you. At Ashbourne, where I had very little company, I had the luck to borrow Mr. Bowyer's Life[1137]; a book so full of contemporary history, that a literary man must find some of his old friends. I thought that I could, now and then, have told you some hints[1138] worth your notice; and perhaps we may talk a life over. I hope we shall be much together; you must now be to me what you were before, and what dear Mr. Allen was, besides. He was taken unexpectedly away, but I think he was a very good man. I have made little progress in recovery. I am very weak, and very sleepless; but I live on and hope[1139].'

This various mass of correspondence, which I have thus brought together, is valuable, both as an addition to the store which the publick already has of Johnson's writings, and as exhibiting a genuine and noble specimen of vigour and vivacity of mind, which neither age nor sickness could impair or diminish.

It may be observed, that his writing in every way, whether for the publick, or privately to his friends, was by fits and starts; for we see frequently, that many letters are written on the same day. When he had once overcome his aversion to begin, he was, I suppose, desirous to go on, in order to relieve his mind from the uneasy reflection of delaying what he ought to do[1140].

While in the country, notwithstanding the accumulation of illness which he endured, his mind did not lose its powers. He translated an Ode of Horace[1141], which is printed in his Works, and composed several prayers. I shall insert one of them, which is so wise and energetick, so philosophical and so pious, that I doubt not of its affording consolation to many a sincere Christian, when in a state of mind to which I believe the best are sometimes liable[1142].

And here I am enabled fully to refute a very unjust reflection, by Sir John Hawkins[1143], both against Dr. Johnson, and his faithful servant, Mr. Francis Barber[1144]; as if both of them had been guilty of culpable neglect towards a person of the name of Heely, whom Sir John chooses to call a relation of Dr. Johnson's. The fact is, that Mr. Heely was not his relation; he had indeed been married to one of his cousins, but she had died without having children, and he had married another woman; so that even the slight connection which there once had been by alliance was dissolved. Dr. Johnson, who had shewn very great liberality to this man while his first wife was alive, as has appeared in a former part of this work[1145], was humane and charitable enough to continue his bounty to him occasionally; but surely there was no strong call of duty upon him or upon his legatee, to do more. The following letter, obligingly communicated to me by Mr. Andrew Strahan, will confirm what I have stated:—



'As necessity obliges you to call so soon again upon me, you should at least have told the smallest sum that will supply your present want; you cannot suppose that I have much to spare. Two guineas is as much as you ought to be behind with your creditor. If you wait on Mr. Strahan, in New-street, Fetter-lane, or in his absence, on Mr. Andrew Strahan, shew this, by which they are entreated to advance you two guineas, and to keep this as a voucher.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'Ashbourne, Aug. 12, 1784.'

Indeed it is very necessary to keep in mind that Sir John Hawkins has unaccountably viewed Johnson's character and conduct in almost every particular, with an unhappy prejudice[1146].

We now behold Johnson for the last time, in his native city, for which he ever retained a warm affection, and which, by a sudden apostrophe, under the word Lich[1147], he introduces with reverence, into his immortal Work, THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY:—Salve, magna parens![1148] While here, he felt a revival of all the tenderness of filial affection, an instance of which appeared in his ordering the grave-stone and inscription over Elizabeth Blaney[1149] to be substantially and carefully renewed.

To Mr. Henry White[1150], a young clergyman, with whom he now formed an intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son. 'Once, indeed, (said he,) I was disobedient; I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter-market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago, I desired to atone for this fault; I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory[1151].'

'I told him (says Miss Seward) in one of my latest visits to him, of a wonderful learned pig, which I had seen at Nottingham; and which did all that we have observed exhibited by dogs and horses. The subject amused him. 'Then, (said he,) the pigs are a race unjustly calumniated. Pig has, it seems, not been wanting to man, but man to pig. We do not allow time for his education, we kill him at a year old.' Mr. Henry White, who was present, observed that if this instance had happened in or before Pope's time, he would not have been justified in instancing the swine as the lowest degree of groveling instinct[1152]. Dr. Johnson seemed pleased with the observation, while the person who made it proceeded to remark, that great torture must have been employed, ere the indocility of the animal could have been subdued. 'Certainly, (said the Doctor;) but, (turning to me,) how old is your pig?' I told him, three years old. 'Then, (said he,) the pig has no cause to complain; he would have been killed the first year if he had not been educated, and protracted existence is a good recompence for very considerable degrees of torture[1153].'

As Johnson had now very faint hopes of recovery, and as Mrs. Thrale was no longer devoted to him, it might have been supposed that he would naturally have chosen to remain in the comfortable house of his beloved wife's daughter, and end his life where he began it. But there was in him an animated and lofty spirit[1154], and however complicated diseases might depress ordinary mortals, all who saw him, beheld and acknowledged the invictum animum Catonis[1155]. Such was his intellectual ardour even at this time, that he said to one friend, 'Sir, I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance[1156];' and to another, when talking of his illness, 'I will be conquered; I will not capitulate[1157].' And such was his love of London, so high a relish had he of its magnificent extent, and variety of intellectual entertainment, that he languished when absent from it, his mind having become quite luxurious from the long habit of enjoying the metropolis; and, therefore, although at Lichfield, surrounded with friends, who loved and revered him, and for whom he had a very sincere affection, he still found that such conversation as London affords, could be found no where else. These feelings, joined, probably, to some flattering hopes of aid from the eminent physicians and surgeons in London, who kindly and generously attended him without accepting fees, made him resolve to return to the capital. From Lichfield he came to Birmingham, where he passed a few days with his worthy old schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, who thus writes to me:—

'He was very solicitous with me to recollect some of our most early transactions, and transmit them to him, for I perceive nothing gave him greater pleasure than calling to mind those days of our innocence. I complied with his request, and he only received them a few days before his death. I have transcribed for your inspection, exactly the minutes I wrote to him.'

This paper having been found in his repositories after his death, Sir John Hawkins has inserted it entire[1158], and I have made occasional use of it and other communications from Mr. Hector[1159], in the course of this Work. I have both visited and corresponded with him since Dr. Johnson's death, and by my inquiries concerning a great variety of particulars have obtained additional information. I followed the same mode with the Reverend Dr. Taylor, in whose presence I wrote down a good deal of what he could tell; and he, at my request, signed his name, to give it authenticity. It is very rare to find any person who is able to give a distinct account of the life even of one whom he has known intimately, without questions being put to them. My friend Dr. Kippis[1160] has told me, that on this account it is a practice with him to draw out a biographical catechism.

Johnson then proceeded to Oxford, where he was again kindly received by Dr. Adams[1161], who was pleased to give me the following account in one of his letters, (Feb. 17th, 1785):—

'His last visit was, I believe, to my house, which he left, after a stay of four or five days. We had much serious talk together, for which I ought to be the better as long as I live. You will remember some discourse which we had in the summer upon the subject of prayer, and the difficulty of this sort of composition[1162]. He reminded me of this, and of my having wished him to try his hand, and to give us a specimen of the style and manner that he approved. He added, that he was now in a right frame of mind, and as he could not possibly employ his time better, he would in earnest set about it. But I find upon enquiry, that no papers of this sort were left behind him, except a few short ejaculatory forms suitable to his present situation.'

Dr. Adams had not then received accurate information on this subject; for it has since appeared that various prayers had been composed by him at different periods, which, intermingled with pious resolutions, and some short notes of his life, were entitled by him Prayers and Meditations, and have, in pursuance of his earnest requisition, in the hopes of doing good, been published, with a judicious well-written Preface, by the Reverend Mr. Strahan, to whom he delivered them[1163]. This admirable collection, to which I have frequently referred in the course of this Work, evinces, beyond all his compositions for the publick, and all the eulogies of his friends and admirers, the sincere virtue and piety of Johnson. It proves with unquestionable authenticity, that amidst all his constitutional infirmities, his earnestness to conform his practice to the precepts of Christianity was unceasing, and that he habitually endeavoured to refer every transaction of his life to the will of the Supreme Being.

He arrived in London on the 16th of November, and next day sent to Dr. Burney the following note, which I insert as the last token of his remembrance of that ingenious and amiable man, and as another of the many proofs of the tenderness and benignity of his heart:—

'MR. JOHNSON, who came home last night, sends his respects to dear Dr. Burney, and all the dear Burneys, little and great[1164].'


'I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning, and then I sent Francis to see the balloon fly, but could not go myself. I staid at Oxford till Tuesday, and then came in the common vehicle easily to London. I am as I was, and having seen Dr. Brocklesby, am to ply the squills; but, whatever be their efficacy, this world must soon pass away. Let us think seriously on our duty. I send my kindest respects to dear Mrs. Careless[1165]: let me have the prayers of both. We have all lived long, and must soon part. GOD have mercy on us, for the sake of our Lord JESUS CHRIST. Amen.

'I am, &c.


'London, Nov. 17, 1784.'

His correspondence with me, after his letter on the subject of my settling in London, shall now, so far as is proper, be produced in one series:—

July 26, he wrote to me from Ashbourne:—

'On the 14th I came to Lichfield, and found every body glad enough to see me. On the 20th, I came hither, and found a house half-built, of very uncomfortable appearance; but my own room has not been altered. That a man worn with diseases, in his seventy-second or third year, should condemn part of his remaining life to pass among ruins and rubbish, and that no inconsiderable part, appears to me very strange. I know that your kindness makes you impatient to know the state of my health, in which I cannot boast of much improvement. I came through the journey without much inconvenience, but when I attempt self-motion I find my legs weak, and my breath very short; this day I have been much disordered. I have no company; the Doctor[1166] is busy in his fields, and goes to bed at nine, and his whole system is so different from mine, that we seem formed for different elements[1167]; I have, therefore, all my amusement to seek within myself.'

Having written to him, in bad spirits, a letter filled with dejection and fretfulness, and at the same time expressing anxious apprehensions concerning him, on account of a dream which had disturbed me; his answer was chiefly in terms of reproach, for a supposed charge of 'affecting discontent, and indulging the vanity of complaint.' It, however, proceeded,—

'Write to me often, and write like a man. I consider your fidelity and tenderness as a great part of the comforts which are yet left me, and sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other.... My dear friend, life is very short and very uncertain; let us spend it as well as we can. My worthy neighbour, Allen, is dead. Love me as well as you can. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell. Nothing ailed me at that time; let your superstition at last have an end.'

Feeling very soon, that the manner in which he had written might hurt me, he two days afterwards, July 28, wrote to me again, giving me an account of his sufferings; after which, he thus proceeds:—

'Before this letter, you will have had one which I hope you will not take amiss; for it contains only truth, and that truth kindly intended.... Spartam quam nactus es orna[1168]; make the most and best of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you, but with the multitudes which are below you.... Go steadily forward with lawful business or honest diversions. Be (as Temple says of the Dutchmen) well when you are not ill, and pleased when you are not angry[1169].... This may seem but an ill return for your tenderness; but I mean it well, for I love you with great ardour and sincerity. Pay my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell, and teach the young ones to love me.'

I unfortunately was so much indisposed during a considerable part of the year, that it was not, or at least I thought it was not in my power to write to my illustrious friend as formerly, or without expressing such complaints as offended him. Having conjured him not to do me the injustice of charging me with affectation, I was with much regret long silent. His last letter to me then came, and affected me very tenderly:—


'I have this summer sometimes amended, and sometimes relapsed, but, upon the whole, have lost ground, very much. My legs are extremely weak, and my breath very short, and the water is now encreasing upon me. In this uncomfortable state your letters used to relieve; what is the reason that I have them no longer? Are you sick, or are you sullen? Whatever be the reason, if it be less than necessity, drive it away; and of the short life that we have, make the best use for yourself and for your friends.... I am sometimes afraid that your omission to write has some real cause, and shall be glad to know that you are not sick, and that nothing ill has befallen dear Mrs. Boswell, or any of your family.

'I am, Sir, your, &c.


'Lichfield, Nov. 5, 1784.'

Yet it was not a little painful to me to find, that in a paragraph of this letter, which I have omitted, he still persevered in arraigning me as before, which was strange in him who had so much experience of what I suffered. I, however, wrote to him two as kind letters as I could; the last of which came too late to be read by him, for his illness encreased more rapidly upon him than I had apprehended; but I had the consolation of being informed that he spoke of me on his death-bed, with affection, and I look forward with humble hope of renewing our friendship in a better world.

I now relieve the readers of this Work from any farther personal notice of its authour, who if he should be thought to have obtruded himself too much upon their attention, requests them to consider the peculiar plan of his biographical undertaking.

Soon after Johnson's return to the metropolis, both the asthma and dropsy became more violent and distressful. He had for some time kept a journal in Latin of the state of his illness, and the remedies which he used, under the title of Aegri Ephemeris, which he began on the 6th of July, but continued it no longer than the 8th of November; finding, I suppose, that it was a mournful and unavailing register. It is in my possession; and is written with great care and accuracy.

Still his love of literature[1170] did not fail. A very few days before his death he transmitted to his friend Mr. John Nichols, a list of the authours of the Universal History, mentioning their several shares in that work. It has, according to his direction, been deposited in the British Museum, and is printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for December, 1784.

During his sleepless nights he amused himself by translating into Latin verse, from the Greek, many of the epigrams in the Anthologica[1171]. These translations, with some other poems by him in Latin, he gave to his friend Mr. Langton, who, having added a few notes, sold them to the booksellers for a small sum, to be given to some of Johnson's relations, which was accordingly done; and they are printed in the collection of his works.

A very erroneous notion has circulated as to Johnson's deficiency in the knowledge of the Greek language, partly owing to the modesty with which, from knowing how much there was to be learnt, he used to mention his own comparative acquisitions. When Mr. Cumberland[1172] talked to him of the Greek fragments which are so well illustrated in The Observer[1173], and of the Greek dramatists in general, he candidly acknowledged his insufficiency in that particular branch of Greek literature. Yet it may be said, that though not a great, he was a good Greek scholar. Dr. Charles Burney[1174], the younger, who is universally acknowledged by the best judges to be one of the few men of this age who are very eminent for their skill in that noble language, has assured me, that Johnson could give a Greek word for almost every English one; and that although not sufficiently conversant in the niceties of the language, he upon some occasions discovered, even in these, a considerable degree of critical acumen. Mr. Dalzel, Professor of Greek at Edinburgh, whose skill in it is unquestionable, mentioned to me, in very liberal terms, the impression which was made upon him by Johnson, in a conversation which they had in London concerning that language. As Johnson, therefore, was undoubtedly one of the first Latin scholars in modern times, let us not deny to his fame some additional splendour from Greek[1175].

I shall now fulfil my promise[1176] of exhibiting specimens of various sorts of imitation of Johnson's style.

In the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, 1787, there is an 'Essay on the Style of Dr. Samuel Johnson,' by the Reverend Robert Burrowes, whose respect for the great object of his criticism[1177] is thus evinced in the concluding paragraph:—

'I have singled him out from the whole body of English writers, because his universally-acknowledged beauties would be most apt to induce imitation; and I have treated rather on his faults than his perfections, because an essay might comprize all the observations I could make upon his faults, while volumes would not be sufficient for a treatise on his perfections.'

Mr. BURROWES has analysed the composition of Johnson, and pointed out its peculiarities with much acuteness; and I would recommend a careful perusal of his Essay to those, who being captivated by the union of perspicuity and splendour which the writings of Johnson contain, without having a sufficient portion of his vigour of mind, may be in danger of becoming bad copyists of his manner. I, however, cannot but observe, and I observe it to his credit, that this learned gentleman has himself caught no mean degree of the expansion and harmony, which, independent of all other circumstances, characterise the sentences of Johnson. Thus, in the Preface to the volume in which his Essay appears, we find,—

'If it be said that in societies of this sort, too much attention is frequently bestowed on subjects barren and speculative, it may be answered, that no one science is so little connected with the rest, as not to afford many principles whose use may extend considerably beyond the science to which they primarily belong; and that no proposition is so purely theoretical as to be totally incapable of being applied to practical purposes. There is no apparent connection between duration and the cycloidal arch, the properties of which duly attended to, have furnished us with our best regulated methods of measuring time: and he who has made himself master of the nature and affections of the logarithmick curve, is not aware that he has advanced considerably towards ascertaining the proportionable density of the air at its various distances from the surface of the earth.'

The ludicrous imitators of Johnson's style are innumerable. Their general method is to accumulate hard words, without considering, that, although he was fond of introducing them occasionally, there is not a single sentence in all his writings where they are crowded together, as in the first verse of the following imaginary Ode by him to Mrs. Thrale[1178], which appeared in the newspapers:—

     'Cervisial coctor's viduate dame,
      Opin'st thou this gigantick frame,
        Procumbing at thy shrine:
      Shall, catenated by thy charms,
      A captive in thy ambient arms,
        Perennially be thine?'

This, and a thousand other such attempts, are totally unlike the original, which the writers imagined they were turning into ridicule. There is not similarity enough for burlesque, or even for caricature.

Mr. COLMAN, in his Prose on several occasions, has A Letter from LEXIPHANES[1179]; containing Proposals for a Glossary or Vocabulary of the Vulgar Tongue: intended as a Supplement to a larger DICTIONARY. It is evidently meant as a sportive sally of ridicule on Johnson, whose style is thus imitated, without being grossly overcharged:—

'It is easy to foresee, that the idle and illiterate will complain that I have increased their labours by endeavouring to diminish them; and that I have explained what is more easy by what is more difficult— ignotum per ignotius. I expect, on the other hand, the liberal acknowledgements of the learned. He who is buried in scholastick retirement, secluded from the assemblies of the gay, and remote from the circles of the polite, will at once comprehend the definitions, and be grateful for such a seasonable and necessary elucidation of his mother-tongue.'

Annexed to this letter is a short specimen of the work, thrown together

in a vague and desultory manner, not even adhering to alphabetical concatenation[1180].

The serious imitators of Johnson's style, whether intentionally or by the imperceptible effect of its strength and animation, are, as I have had already occasion to observe, so many, that I might introduce quotations from a numerous body of writers in our language, since he appeared in the literary world. I shall point out only the following:—


'In other parts of the globe, man, in his rudest state, appears as lord of the creation, giving law to various tribes of animals which he has tamed and reduced to subjection. The Tartar follows his prey on the horse which he has reared, or tends his numerous herds, which furnish him both with food and clothing; the Arab has rendered the camel docile, and avails himself of its persevering strength; the Laplander has formed the rein-deer to be subservient to his will; and even the people of Kamschatka have trained their dogs to labour. This command over the inferiour creatures is one of the noblest prerogatives of man, and among the greatest efforts of his wisdom and power. Without this, his dominion is incomplete. He is a monarch who has no subjects; a master without servants; and must perform every operation by the strength of his own arm[1182].'


'Of all our passions and appetites, the love of power is of the most imperious and unsociable nature, since the pride of one man requires the submission of the multitude. In the tumult of civil discord the laws of society lose their force, and their place is seldom supplied by those of humanity. The ardour of contention, the pride of victory, the despair of success, the memory of past injuries, and the fear of future dangers, all contribute to inflame the mind, and to silence the voice of pity[1184].'


'My family, mistaking ambition for honour, and rank for dignity, have long planned a splendid connection for me, to which, though my invariable repugnance has stopped any advances, their wishes and their views immovably adhere. I am but too certain they will now listen to no other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where I despair of success; I know not how to risk a prayer with those who may silence me by a command[1186].'


'In an enlightened and improving age, much perhaps is not to be apprehended from the inroads of mere caprice; at such a period it will generally be perceived, that needless irregularity is the worst of all deformities, and that nothing is so truly elegant in language as the simplicity of unviolated analogy. Rules will, therefore, be observed, so far as they are known and acknowledged: but, at the same time, the desire of improvement having been once excited will not remain inactive; and its efforts, unless assisted by knowledge, as much as they are prompted by zeal, will not unfrequently be found pernicious; so that the very persons whose intention it is to perfect the instrument of reason, will deprave and disorder it unknowingly. At such a time, then, it becomes peculiarly necessary that the analogy of language should be fully examined and understood; that its rules should be carefully laid down; and that it should be clearly known how much it contains, which being already right should be defended from change and violation: how much it has that demands amendment; and how much that, for fear of greater inconveniencies, must, perhaps, be left unaltered, though irregular.'

A distinguished authour in The Mirror[1188], a periodical paper, published at Edinburgh, has imitated Johnson very closely. Thus, in No. 16,—

'The effects of the return of spring have been frequently remarked as well in relation to the human mind as to the animal and vegetable world. The reviving power of this season has been traced from the fields to the herds that inhabit them, and from the lower classes of beings up to man. Gladness and joy are described as prevailing through universal Nature, animating the low of the cattle, the carol of the birds, and the pipe of the shepherd.'

The Reverend Dr. KNOX[1189], master of Tunbridge school, appears to have the imitari avco[1190] of Johnson's style perpetually in his mind; and to his assiduous, though not servile, study of it, we may partly ascribe the extensive popularity of his writings[1191].

In his Essays, Moral and Literary, No. 3, we find the following passage:—

'The polish of external grace may indeed be deferred till the approach of manhood. When solidity is obtained by pursuing the modes prescribed by our fore-fathers, then may the file be used. The firm substance will bear attrition, and the lustre then acquired will be durable.'

There is, however, one in No. 11, which is blown up into such tumidity, as to be truly ludicrous. The writer means to tell us, that Members of Parliament, who have run in debt by extravagance, will sell their votes to avoid an arrest[1192], which he thus expresses:—

'They who build houses and collect costly pictures and furniture with the money of an honest artisan or mechanick, will be very glad of emancipation from the hands of a bailiff, by a sale of their senatorial suffrage.'

But I think the most perfect imitation of Johnson is a professed one, entitled A Criticism on Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-Yard, said to be written by Mr. Young, Professor of Greek, at Glasgow, and of which let him have the credit, unless a better title can be shewn. It has not only the peculiarities of Johnson's style, but that very species of literary discussion and illustration for which he was eminent. Having already quoted so much from others, I shall refer the curious to this performance, with an assurance of much entertainment[1193].

Yet whatever merit there may be in any imitations of Johnson's style, every good judge must see that they are obviously different from the original; for all of them are either deficient in its force, or overloaded with its peculiarities; and the powerful sentiment to which it is suited is not to be found[1194].

Johnson's affection for his departed relations seemed to grow warmer as he approached nearer to the time when he might hope to see them again. It probably appeared to him that he should upbraid himself with unkind inattention, were he to leave the world without having paid a tribute of respect to their memory.



'I have enclosed the Epitaph[1196] for my Father, Mother, and Brother, to be all engraved on the large size, and laid in the middle aisle in St. Michael's church, which I request the clergyman and churchwardens to permit.

'The first care must be to find the exact place of interment, that the stone may protect the bodies[1197]. Then let the stone be deep, massy, and hard; and do not let the difference of ten pounds, or more, defeat our purpose.

'I have enclosed ten pounds, and Mrs. Porter will pay you ten more, which I gave her for the same purpose. What more is wanted shall be sent; and I beg that all possible haste may be made, for I wish to have it done while I am yet alive. Let me know, dear Sir, that you receive this.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Dec. 2, 1784.'



'I am very ill, and desire your prayers. I have sent Mr. Green the Epitaph, and a power to call on you for ten pounds.

'I laid this summer a stone over Tetty, in the chapel of Bromley, in Kent[1198]. The inscription is in Latin, of which this is the English. [Here a translation.]

'That this is done, I thought it fit that you should know. What care will be taken of us, who can tell? May GOD pardon and bless us, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake.

'I am, &c.

'SAM. JOHNSON[1199],'

'Dec. 2, 1784.'

My readers are now, at last, to behold SAMUEL JOHNSON preparing himself for that doom, from which the most exalted powers afford no exemption to man[1200]. Death had always been to him an object of terrour; so that, though by no means happy, he still clung to life with an eagerness at which many have wondered. At any time when he was ill, he was very much pleased to be told that he looked better. An ingenious member of the Eumelian Club[1201], informs me, that upon one occasion when he said to him that he saw health returning to his cheek, Johnson seized him by the hand and exclaimed, 'Sir, you are one of the kindest friends I ever had.'

His own state of his views of futurity will appear truly rational; and may, perhaps, impress the unthinking with seriousness.

'You know, (says he,)[1202] I never thought confidence with respect to futurity, any part of the character of a brave, a wise, or a good man. Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing; wisdom impresses strongly the consciousness of those faults, of which it is, perhaps, itself an aggravation; and goodness, always wishing to be better, and imputing every deficience to criminal negligence, and every fault to voluntary corruption, never dares to suppose the condition of forgiveness fulfilled, nor what is wanting in the crime supplied by penitence.

'This is the state of the best; but what must be the condition of him whose heart will not suffer him to rank himself among the best, or among the good? Such must be his dread of the approaching trial, as will leave him little attention to the opinion of those whom he is leaving for ever; and the serenity that is not felt, it can be no virtue to feign.'

His great fear of death, and the strange dark manner in which Sir John Hawkins[1203] imparts the uneasiness which he expressed on account of offences with which he charged himself, may give occasion to injurious suspicions, as if there had been something of more than ordinary criminality weighing upon his conscience. On that account, therefore, as well as from the regard to truth which he inculcated[1204], I am to mention, (with all possible respect and delicacy, however,) that his conduct, after he came to London, and had associated with Savage and others, was not so strictly virtuous, in one respect, as when he was a younger man. It was well known, that his amorous inclinations were uncommonly strong and impetuous. He owned to many of his friends, that he used to take women of the town to taverns, and hear them relate their history[1205]. In short, it must not be concealed, that, like many other good and pious men, among whom we may place the Apostle Paul upon his own authority, Johnson was not free from propensities which were ever 'warring against the law of his mind[1206],'—and that in his combats with them, he was sometimes overcome[1207].

Here let the profane and licentious pause; let them not thoughtlessly say that Johnson was an hypocrite, or that his principles were not firm, because his practice was not uniformly conformable to what he professed.

Let the question be considered independent of moral and religious association; and no man will deny that thousands, in many instances, act against conviction. Is a prodigal, for example, an hypocrite, when he owns he is satisfied that his extravagance will bring him to ruin and misery? We are sure he believes it; but immediate inclination, strengthened by indulgence, prevails over that belief in influencing his conduct. Why then shall credit be refused to the sincerity of those who acknowledge their persuasion of moral and religious duty, yet sometimes fail of living as it requires? I heard Dr. Johnson once observe, 'There is something noble in publishing truth, though it condemns one's self[1208].' And one who said in his presence, 'he had no notion of people being in earnest in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them,' was thus reprimanded by him:—'Sir, are you so grossly ignorant of human nature as not to know that a man may be very sincere in good principles, without having good practice[1209]?'

But let no man encourage or soothe himself in 'presumptuous sin[1210],' from knowing that Johnson was sometimes hurried into indulgences which he thought criminal. I have exhibited this circumstance as a shade in so great a character, both from my sacred love of truth, and to shew that he was not so weakly scrupulous as he has been represented by those who imagine that the sins, of which a deep sense was upon his mind, were merely such little venial trifles as pouring milk into his tea on Good-Friday. His understanding will be defended by my statement, if his consistency of conduct be in some degree impaired. But what wise man would, for momentary gratifications, deliberately subject himself to suffer such uneasiness as we find was experienced by Johnson in reviewing his conduct as compared with his notion of the ethicks of the gospel? Let the following passages be kept in remembrance:—

'O, GOD, giver and preserver of all life, by whose power I was created, and by whose providence I am sustained, look down upon me with tenderness and mercy; grant that I may not have been created to be finally destroyed; that I may not be preserved to add wickedness to wickedness[1211].' 'O, LORD, let me not sink into total depravity; look down upon me, and rescue me at last from the captivity of sin[1212].' 'Almighty and most merciful Father, who hast continued my life from year to year, grant that by longer life I may become less desirous of sinful pleasures, and more careful of eternal happiness[1213].' 'Let not my years be multiplied to increase my guilt; but as my age advances, let me become more pure in my thoughts, more regular in my desires, and more obedient to thy laws[1214].' 'Forgive, O merciful LORD, whatever I have done contrary to thy laws. Give me such a sense of my wickedness as may produce true contrition and effectual repentance; so that when I shall be called into another state, I may be received among the sinners to whom whom sorrow and reformation have obtained pardon, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen[1215].'

Such was the distress of mind, such the penitence of Johnson, in his hours of privacy, and in his devout approaches to his Maker. His sincerity, therefore, must appear to every candid mind unquestionable.

It is of essential consequence to keep in view, that there was in this excellent man's conduct no false principle of commutation, no deliberate indulgence in sin, in consideration of a counter-balance of duty. His offending, and his repenting, were distinct and separate[1216]: and when we consider his almost unexampled attention to truth, his inflexible integrity, his constant piety, who will dare to 'cast a stone at him[1217]?' Besides, let it never be forgotten, that he cannot be charged with any offence indicating badness of heart, any thing dishonest, base, or malignant; but that, on the contrary, he was charitable in an extraordinary degree: so that even in one of his own rigid judgements of himself, (Easter-eve, 1781,) while he says, 'I have corrected no external habits;' he is obliged to own, 'I hope that since my last communion I have advanced, by pious reflections, in my submission to GOD, and my benevolence to man[1218].'

I am conscious that this is the most difficult and dangerous part of my biographical work, and I cannot but be very anxious concerning it. I trust that I have got through it, preserving at once my regard to truth,—to my friend,—and to the interests of virtue and religion. Nor can I apprehend that more harm can ensue from the knowledge of the irregularity of Johnson, guarded as I have stated it, than from knowing that Addison and Parnell were intemperate in the use of wine; which he himself, in his Lives of those celebrated writers and pious men, has not forborne to record[1219].

It is not my intention to give a very minute detail of the particulars of Johnson's remaining days[1220], of whom it was now evident, that the crisis was fast approaching, when he must 'die like men, and fall like one of the Princes[1221].' Yet it will be instructive, as well as gratifying to the curiosity of my readers, to record a few circumstances, on the authenticity of which they may perfectly rely, as I have been at the utmost pains to obtain an accurate account of his last illness, from the best authority[1222].

Dr. Heberden[1223], Dr. Brocklesby, Dr. Warren[1224], and Dr. Butter, physicians, generously attended him, without accepting any fees, as did Mr. Cruikshank, surgeon; and all that could be done from professional skill and ability, was tried, to prolong a life so truly valuable. He himself, indeed, having, on account of his very bad constitution, been perpetually applying himself to medical inquiries, united his own efforts with those of the gentlemen who attended him; and imagining that the dropsical collection of water which oppressed him might be drawn off by making incisions in his body, he, with his usual resolute defiance of pain, cut deep, when he thought that his surgeon had done it too tenderly[1225].

About eight or ten days before his death, when Dr. Brocklesby paid him his morning visit, he seemed very low and desponding, and said, 'I have been as a dying man all night.' He then emphatically broke out in the words of Shakspeare,—

     'Can'st thou not minister to a mind diseas'd;
      Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;
      Raze out the written troubles of the brain;
      And, with some sweet oblivious antidote,
      Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff,
      Which weighs upon the heart?'

To which Dr. Brocklesby readily answered, from the same great poet:—

     '————————therein the patient
      Must minister to himself1226.'

Johnson expressed himself much satisfied with the application.

On another day after this, when talking on the subject of prayer, Dr. Brocklesby repeated from Juvenal,—

     'Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore Sano1227,'

and so on to the end of the tenth satire; but in running it quickly over, he happened, in the line,

     'Qui spatium vitae; extremum inter munera ponat,'

to pronounce supremum for extremum; at which Johnson's critical ear instantly took offence, and discoursing vehemently on the unmetrical effect of such a lapse, he shewed himself as full as ever of the spirit of the grammarian[1228].

Having no near relations[1229], it had been for some time Johnson's intention to make a liberal provision for his faithful servant, Mr. Francis Barber, whom he looked upon as particularly under his protection, and whom he had all along treated truly as an humble friend. Having asked Dr. Brocklesby what would be a proper annuity to a favourite servant, and being answered that it must depend on the circumstances of the master; and, that in the case of a nobleman, fifty pounds a year was considered as an adequate reward for many years' faithful service; 'Then, (said Johnson,) shall I be nobilissimus, for I mean to leave Frank seventy pounds a year, and I desire you to tell him so[1230].' It is strange, however, to think, that Johnson was not free from that general weakness of being averse to execute a will, so that he delayed it from time to time[1231]; and had it not been for Sir John Hawkins's repeatedly urging it, I think it is probable that his kind resolution would not have been fulfilled. After making one, which, as Sir John Hawkins informs us, extended no further than the promised annuity, Johnson's final disposition of his property was established by a Will and Codicil, of which copies are subjoined[1232].

The consideration of numerous papers of which he was possessed, seems to have struck Johnson's mind, with a sudden anxiety, and as they were in great confusion, it is much to be lamented that he had not entrusted some faithful and discreet person with the care and selection of them; instead of which, he in a precipitate manner, burnt large masses of them, with little regard, as I apprehend, to discrimination. Not that I suppose we have thus been deprived of any compositions which he had ever intended for the publick eye; but, from what escaped the flames, I judge that many curious circumstances relating both to himself and other literary characters have perished[1233].

Two very valuable articles, I am sure, we have lost, which were two quarto volumes, containing a full, fair, and most particular account of his own life, from his earliest recollection. I owned to him, that having accidentally seen them, I had read a great deal in them; and apologizing for the liberty I had taken, asked him if I could help it[1234]. He placidly answered, 'Why, Sir, I do not think you could have helped it.' I said that I had, for once in my life, felt half an inclination to commit theft. It had come into my mind to carry off those two volumes, and never see him more. Upon my inquiring how this would have affected him, 'Sir, (said he,) I believe I should have gone mad[1235].'

During his last illness, Johnson experienced the steady and kind attachment of his numerous friends. Mr. Hoole has drawn up a narrative of what passed in the visits which he paid him during that time, from the both of November to the 13th of December, the day of his death, inclusive, and has favoured me with a perusal of it, with permission to make extracts, which I have done. Nobody was more attentive to him than Mr. Langton, to whom he tenderly said, Te teneam moriens deficiente manu[1237]. And I think it highly to the honour of Mr. Windham, that his important occupations as an active statesman[1238] did not prevent him from paying assiduous respect to the dying Sage whom he revered. Mr. Langton informs me, that, 'one day he found Mr. Burke and four or five more friends sitting with Johnson. Mr. Burke said to him, "I am afraid, Sir, such a number of us may be oppressive to you." "No, Sir, (said Johnson,) it is not so; and I must be in a wretched state, indeed, when your company would not be a delight to me." Mr. Burke, in a tremulous voice, expressive of being very tenderly affected, replied, "My dear Sir, you have always been too good to me." Immediately afterwards he went away. This was the last circumstance in the acquaintance of these two eminent men[1239].'

The following particulars of his conversation within a few days of his death, I give on the authority of Mr. John Nichols[1240]:—

'He said, that the Parliamentary Debates were the only part of his writings which then gave him any compunction[1241]: but that at the time he wrote them, he had no conception he was imposing upon the world, though they were frequently written from very slender materials, and often from none at all,—the mere coinage of his own imagination. He never wrote any part of his works with equal velocity. Three columns of the Magazine, in an hour, was no uncommon effort, which was faster than most persons could have transcribed that quantity.

'Of his friend Cave, he always spoke with great affection. "Yet (said he,) Cave, (who never looked out of his window, but with a view to the Gentleman's Magazine,) was a penurious pay-master; he would contract for lines by the hundred, and expect the long hundred; but he was a good man, and always delighted to have his friends at his table."

'When talking of a regular edition of his own works, he said, "that he had power, [from the booksellers,] to print such an edition, if his health admitted it; but had no power to assign over any edition, unless he could add notes, and so alter them as to make them new works; which his state of health forbade him to think of. I may possibly live, (said he,) or rather breath, three days, or perhaps three weeks; but find myself daily and gradually weaker."

'He said at another time, three or four days only before his death, speaking of the little fear he had of undergoing a chirurgical operation, "I would give one of these legs for a year more of life, I mean of comfortable life, not such as that which I now suffer;"—and lamented much his inability to read during his hours of restlessness; "I used formerly, (he added,) when sleepless in bed, to read like a Turk[1242]."

'Whilst confined by his last illness, it was his regular practice to have the church-service read to him, by some attentive and friendly Divine. The Rev. Mr. Hoole performed this kind office in my presence for the last time, when, by his own desire, no more than the Litany was read; in which his responses were in the deep and sonorous voice which Mr. Boswell has occasionally noticed, and with the most profound devotion that can be imagined. His hearing not being quite perfect, he more than once interrupted Mr. Hoole, with "Louder, my dear Sir, louder, I entreat you, or you pray in vain[1243]!"—and, when the service was ended, he, with great earnestness, turned round to an excellent lady who was present, saying, "I thank you, Madam, very heartily, for your kindness in joining me in this solemn exercise. Live well, I conjure you; and you will not feel the compunction at the last, which I now feel[1244]." So truly humble were the thoughts which this great and good man entertained of his own approaches to religious perfection[1245].

'He was earnestly invited to publish a volume of Devotional Exercises[1246]; but this, (though he listened to the proposal with much complacency, and a large sum of money was offered for it,) he declined, from motives of the sincerest modesty.

'He seriously entertained the thought of translating Thuanus[1247]. He often talked to me on the subject; and once, in particular, when I was rather wishing that he would favour the world, and gratify his sovereign, by a Life of Spenser[1248], (which he said that he would readily have done, had he been able to obtain any new materials for the purpose,) he added, "I have been thinking again, Sir, of Thuanus: it would not be the laborious task which you have supposed it. I should have no trouble but that of dictation, which would be performed as speedily as an amanuensis could write."

It is to the mutual credit of Johnson and Divines of different communions, that although he was a steady Church-of-England man, there was, nevertheless, much agreeable intercourse between him and them. Let me particularly name the late Mr. La Trobe, and Mr. Hutton[1249], of the Moravian profession. His intimacy with the English Benedictines, at Paris, has been mentioned[1250]; and as an additional proof of the charity in which he lived with good men of the Romish Church, I am happy in this opportunity of recording his friendship with the Reverend Thomas Hussey[1251], D.D. His Catholick Majesty's Chaplain of Embassy at the Court of London, that very respectable man, eminent not only for his powerful eloquence as a preacher, but for his various abilities and acquisitions. Nay, though Johnson loved a Presbyterian the least of all, this did not prevent his having a long and uninterrupted social connection with the Reverend Dr. James Fordyce, who, since his death, hath gratefully celebrated him in a warm strain of devotional composition[1252].

Amidst the melancholy clouds which hung over the dying Johnson, his characteristical manner shewed itself on different occasions.

When Dr. Warren, in the usual style, hoped that he was better; his answer was, 'No, Sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I advance towards death.'

A man whom he had never seen before was employed one night to sit up with him[1253]. Being asked next morning how he liked his attendant, his answer was, 'Not at all, Sir: the fellow's an ideot; he is as aukward as a turn-spit when first put into the wheel, and as sleepy as a dormouse.'

Mr. Windham having placed a pillow conveniently to support him, he thanked him for his kindness, and said, 'That will do,—all that a pillow can do.'

He repeated[1254] with great spirit a poem, consisting of several stanzas, in four lines, in alternate rhyme, which he said he had composed some years before, on occasion of a rich, extravagant young gentleman's coming of age; saying he had never repeated it but once since he composed it, and had given but one copy of it. That copy was given to Mrs. Thrale, now Piozzi, who has published it in a Book which she entitles British Synonymy[1255], but which is truly a collection of entertaining remarks and stories, no matter whether accurate or not. Being a piece of exquisite satire, conveyed in a strain of pointed vivacity and humour, and in a manner of which no other instance is to be found in Johnson's writings, I shall here insert it[1256]:—

     Long-expected one-and-twenty,
       Ling'ring year, at length is flown;
     Pride and pleasure, pomp and plenty,
       Great —- ——1257, are now your own.
     Loosen'd from the Minor's tether,
       Free to mortgage or to sell,
     Wild as wind, and light as feather,
       Bid the sons of thrift farewell.
     Call the Betseys, Kates, and Jennies,
       All the names that banish care;
     Lavish of your grandsire's guineas,
       Shew the spirit of an heir.
     All that prey on vice or folly
       Joy to see their quarry fly;
     There the gamester, light and jolly,
       There the lender, grave and sly.
     Wealth, my lad, was made to wander,
       Let it wander as it will;
     Call the jockey, call the pander,
       Bid them come and take their fill.
     When the bonny blade carouses,
       Pockets full, and spirits high—
     What are acres? what are houses?
       Only dirt, or wet or dry.
     Should the guardian friend or mother
       Tell the woes of wilful waste;
     Scorn their counsel, scorn their pother,—
       You can hang or drown at last.

As he opened a note which his servant brought to him, he said, 'An odd thought strikes me: we shall receive no letters in the grave[1258].'

He requested three things of Sir Joshua Reynolds:—To forgive him thirty pounds which he had borrowed of him; to read the Bible; and never to use his pencil on a Sunday[1259]. Sir Joshua readily acquiesced[1260].

Indeed he shewed the greatest anxiety for the religious improvement of his friends, to whom he discoursed of its infinite consequence. He begged of Mr. Hoole to think of what he had said, and to commit it to writing: and, upon being afterwards assured that this was done, pressed his hands, and in an earnest tone thanked him. Dr. Brocklesby having attended him with the utmost assiduity and kindness as his physician and friend, he was peculiarly desirous that this gentleman should not entertain any loose speculative notions, but be confirmed in the truths of Christianity, and insisted on his writing down in his presence, as nearly as he could collect it, the import of what passed on the subject: and Dr. Brocklesby having complied with the request, he made him sign the paper, and urged him to keep it in his own custody as long as he lived[1261].

Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst all his bodily distress and mental sufferings, never forsook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby, as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could recover. 'Give me (said he) a direct answer.' The Doctor having first asked him if he could bear the whole truth, which way soever it might lead, and being answered that he could, declared that, in his opinion, he could not recover without a miracle. 'Then, (said Johnson,) I will take no more physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to GOD unclouded.' In this resolution he persevered, and, at the same time, used only the weakest kinds of sustenance. Being pressed by Mr. Windham to take somewhat more generous nourishment, lest too low a diet should have the very effect which he dreaded, by debilitating his mind, he said, 'I will take any thing but inebriating sustenance[1262].'

The Reverend Mr. Strahan, who was the son of his friend, and had been always one of his great favourites, had, during his last illness, the satisfaction of contributing to soothe and comfort him. That gentleman's house, at Islington, of which he is Vicar, afforded Johnson, occasionally and easily, an agreeable change of place and fresh air; and he attended also upon him in town in the discharge of the sacred offices of his profession.

Mr. Strahan has given me the agreeable assurance, that, after being in much agitation, Johnson became quite composed, and continued so till his death[1263].

Dr. Brocklesby, who will not be suspected of fanaticism, obliged me with the following accounts:—

'For some time before his death, all his fears were calmed and absorbed by the prevalence of his faith, and his trust in the merits and propitiation of JESUS CHRIST.

'He talked often to me about the necessity of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, as necessary beyond all good works whatever, for the salvation of mankind.

'He pressed me to study Dr. Clarke and to read his Sermons. I asked him why he pressed Dr. Clarke, an Arian[1264]. "Because, (said he,) he is fullest on the propitiatory sacrifice."'

Johnson having thus in his mind the true Christian scheme, at once rational and consolatory, uniting justice and mercy in the DIVINITY, with the improvement of human nature, previous to his receiving the Holy Sacrament in his apartment, composed and fervently uttered this prayer[1265]:—

'Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now as to human eyes, it seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of thy Son JESUS CHRIST, our Saviour and Redeemer. Grant, O LORD, that my whole hope and confidence may be in his merits, and thy mercy; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration available to the confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the enlargement of my charity; and make the death of thy Son JESUS CHRIST effectual to my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude of my offences. Bless my friends; have mercy upon all men. Support me, by thy Holy Spirit, in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death; and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST. Amen.'

Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and 9th of December, and settled all his worldly affairs, he languished till Monday, the 13th of that month, when he expired, about seven o'clock in the evening, with so little apparent pain that his attendants hardly perceived when his dissolution took place.

Of his last moments, my brother, Thomas David[1266], has furnished me with the following particulars:—

'The Doctor, from the time that he was certain his death was near, appeared to be perfectly resigned[1267], was seldom or never fretful or out of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, who gave me this account, "Attend, Francis, to the salvation of your soul, which is the object of greatest importance:" he also explained to him passages in the scripture, and seemed to have pleasure in talking upon religious subjects.

'On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss Morris[1268], daughter to a particular friend of his, called, and said to Francis, that she begged to be permitted to see the Doctor, that she might earnestly request him to give her his blessing. Francis went into his room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message. The Doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, "GOD bless you, my dear!" These were the last words he spoke. His difficulty of breathing increased till about seven o'clock in the evening, when Mr. Barber and Mrs. Desmoulins, who were sitting in the room, observing that the noise he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and found he was dead[1269].'

About two days after his death, the following very agreeable account was communicated to Mr. Malone, in a letter by the Honourable John Byng, to whom I am much obliged for granting me permission to introduce it in my work.


'Since I saw you, I have had a long conversation with Cawston[1270], who sat up with Dr. Johnson, from nine o'clock, on Sunday evening, till ten o'clock, on Monday morning. And, from what I can gather from him, it should seem, that Dr. Johnson was perfectly composed, steady in hope, and resigned to death. At the interval of each hour, they assisted him to sit up in his bed, and move his legs, which were in much pain; when he regularly addressed himself to fervent prayer; and though, sometimes, his voice failed him, his senses never did, during that time. The only sustenance he received, was cyder and water. He said his mind was prepared, and the time to his dissolution seemed long. At six in the morning, he enquired the hour, and, on being informed, said that all went on regularly, and he felt he had but a few hours to live.

'At ten o'clock in the morning, he parted from Cawston, saying, "You should not detain Mr. Windham's servant:—I thank you; bear my remembrance to your master." Cawston says, that no man could appear more collected, more devout, or less terrified at the thoughts of the approaching minute.

'This account, which is so much more agreeable than, and somewhat different from, yours, has given us the satisfaction of thinking that that great man died as he lived, full of resignation, strengthened in faith, and joyful in hope.'

A few days before his death, he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of his executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered, 'Doubtless, in Westminster-Abbey,' seemed to feel a satisfaction, very natural to a Poet; and indeed in my opinion very natural to every man of any imagination, who has no family sepulchre in which he can be laid with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave was placed a large blue flag-stone, with this inscription:—

      Obiit XIII die Decembris,
      Anno Domini      M. DCC. LXXXIV.
      Aetatis suoe LXXV.'

His funeral was attended by a respectable number of his friends, particularly such of the members of the LITERARY CLUB as were then in town; and was also honoured with the presence of several of the Reverend Chapter of Westminster. Mr. Burke, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Windham, Mr. Langton, Sir Charles Bunbury, and Mr. Colman, bore his pall[1271]. His schoolfellow, Dr. Taylor, performed the mournful office of reading the burial service[1272].

I trust, I shall not be accused of affectation, when I declare, that I find myself unable to express all that I felt upon the loss of such a 'Guide[1273], Philosopher, and Friend[1274].' I shall, therefore, not say one word of my own, but adopt those of an eminent friend[1275], which he uttered with an abrupt felicity, superior to all studied compositions:—'He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best:—there is nobody; no man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson[1276].'

As Johnson had abundant homage paid to him during his life[1277], so no writer in this nation ever had such an accumulation of literary honours after his death. A sermon upon that event was preached in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, before the University, by the Reverend Mr. Agutter, of Magdalen College[1278]. The Lives, the Memoirs, the Essays, both in prose and verse, which have been published concerning him, would make many volumes. The numerous attacks too upon him, I consider as part of his consequence, upon the principle which he himself so well knew and asserted[1279]. Many who trembled at his presence, were forward in assault, when they no longer apprehended danger. When one of his little pragmatical foes was invidiously snarling at his fame, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's table, the Reverend Dr. Parr exclaimed, with his usual bold animation, 'Ay, now that the old lion is dead, every ass thinks he may kick at him.'

A monument for him, in Westminster Abbey, was resolved upon soon after his death, and was supported by a most respectable contribution[1280]; but the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having come to a resolution of admitting monuments there, upon a liberal and magnificent plan, that Cathedral was afterwards fixed on, as the place in which a cenotaph should be erected to his memory[1281]: and in the cathedral of his native city of Lichfield, a smaller one is to be erected. To compose his epitaph, could not but excite the warmest competition of genius[1282]. If laudari à laudato viro be praise which is highly estimable[1283], I should not forgive myself were I to omit the following sepulchral verses on the authour of THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY, written by the Right Honourable Henry Flood[1284]:—

     'No need of Latin or of Greek to grace
        Our JOHNSON'S memory, or inscribe his grave;
      His native language claims this mournful space,
        To pay the Immortality he gave.'

The character of SAMUEL JOHNSON has, I trust, been so developed in the course of this work, that they who have honoured it with a perusal, may be considered as well acquainted with him. As, however, it may be expected that I should collect into one view the capital and distinguishing features of this extraordinary man, I shall endeavour to acquit myself of that part of my biographical undertaking[1285], however difficult it may be to do that which many of my readers will do better for themselves.

His figure was large and well formed, and his countenance of the cast of an ancient statue; yet his appearance was rendered strange and somewhat uncouth, by convulsive cramps, by the scars of that distemper which it was once imagined the royal touch could cure, and by a slovenly mode of dress. He had the use only of one eye; yet so much does mind govern and even supply the deficiency of organs, that his visual perceptions, as far as they extended, were uncommonly quick and accurate[1286]. So morbid was his temperament, that he never knew the natural joy of a free and vigorous use of his limbs: when he walked, it was like the struggling gait of one in fetters; when he rode, he had no command or direction of his horse, but was carried as if in a balloon[1287]. That with his constitution and habits of life he should have lived seventy-five years, is a proof that an inherent vivida vis[1288] is a powerful preservative of the human frame.

Man is, in general, made up of contradictory qualities; and these will ever shew themselves in strange succession, where a consistency in appearance at least, if not in reality, has not been attained by long habits of philosophical discipline. In proportion to the native vigour of the mind, the contradictory qualities will be the more prominent, and more difficult to be adjusted; and, therefore, we are not to wonder, that Johnson exhibited an eminent example of this remark which I have made upon human nature. At different times, he seemed a different man, in some respects; not, however, in any great or essential article, upon which he had fully employed his mind, and settled certain principles of duty, but only in his manners, and in the display of argument and fancy in his talk. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with jealousy[1289]. He was a sincere and zealous Christian, of high Church-of-England and monarchical principles, which he would not tamely suffer to be questioned; and had, perhaps, at an early period, narrowed his mind somewhat too much, both as to religion and politicks. His being impressed with the danger of extreme latitude in either, though he was of a very independent spirit, occasioned his appearing somewhat unfavourable to the prevalence of that noble freedom of sentiment which is the best possession of man. Nor can it be denied, that he had many prejudices; which, however, frequently suggested many of his pointed sayings, that rather shew a playfulness of fancy than any settled malignity. He was steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations of religion and morality; both from a regard for the order of society, and from a veneration for the GREAT SOURCE of all order; correct, nay stern in his taste; hard to please, and easily offended[1290]; impetuous and irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent heart[1291], which shewed itself not only in a most liberal charity, as far as his circumstances would allow, but in a thousand instances of active benevolence. He was afflicted with a bodily disease, which made him often restless and fretful; and with a constitutional melancholy, the clouds of which darkened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a gloomy cast to his whole course of thinking: we, therefore, ought not to wonder at his sallies of impatience and passion at any time; especially when provoked by obtrusive ignorance, or presuming petulance; and allowance must be made for his uttering hasty and satirical sallies even against his best friends. And, surely, when it is considered, that, 'amidst sickness and sorrow[1292],'he exerted his faculties in so many works for the benefit of mankind, and particularly that he atchieved the great and admirable DICTIONARY of our language, we must be astonished at his resolution. The solemn text, 'of him to whom much is given, much will be required[1293],' seems to have been ever present to his mind, in a rigorous sense, and to have made him dissatisfied with his labours and acts of goodness, however comparatively great; so that the unavoidable consciousness of his superiority was, in that respect, a cause of disquiet. He suffered so much from this, and from the gloom which perpetually haunted him, and made solitude frightful, that it may be said of him, 'If in this life only he had hope, he was of all men most miserable[1294].' He loved praise, when it was brought to him; but was too proud to seek for it. He was somewhat susceptible of flattery. As he was general and unconfined in his studies, he cannot be considered as master of any one particular science; but he had accumulated a vast and various collection of learning and knowledge, which was so arranged in his mind, as to be ever in readiness to be brought forth. But his superiority over other learned men consisted chiefly in what may be called the art of thinking, the art of using his mind; a certain continual power of seizing the useful substance of all that he knew, and exhibiting it in a clear and forcible manner; so that knowledge, which we often see to be no better than lumber in men of dull understanding, was, in him, true, evident, and actual wisdom. His moral precepts are practical; for they are drawn from an intimate acquaintance with human nature. His maxims carry conviction; for they are founded on the basis of common sense, and a very attentive and minute survey of real life. His mind was so full of imagery, that he might have been perpetually a poet; yet it is remarkable, that, however rich his prose is in this respect, his poetical pieces, in general, have not much of that splendour, but are rather distinguished by strong sentiment and acute observation, conveyed in harmonious and energetick verse, particularly in heroick couplets. Though usually grave, and even aweful, in his deportment, he possessed uncommon and peculiar powers of wit and humour; he frequently indulged himself in colloquial pleasantry; and the heartiest merriment[1295] was often enjoyed in his company; with this great advantage, that as it was entirely free from any poisonous tincture of vice or impiety, it was salutary to those who shared in it. He had accustomed himself to such accuracy in his common conversation[1296], that he at all times expressed his thoughts with great force, and an elegant choice of language, the effect of which was aided by his having a loud voice, and a slow deliberate utterance[1297]. In him were united a most logical head with a most fertile imagination, which gave him an extraordinary advantage in arguing: for he could reason close or wide, as he saw best for the moment. Exulting in his intellectual strength and dexterity, he could, when he pleased, be the greatest sophist that ever contended in the lists of declamation; and, from a spirit of contradiction and a delight in shewing his powers, he would often maintain the wrong side with equal warmth and ingenuity; so that, when there was an audience, his real opinions could seldom be gathered from his talk[1298]; though when he was in company with a single friend, he would discuss a subject with genuine fairness: but he was too conscientious to make errour permanent and pernicious, by deliberately writing it; and, in all his numerous works, he earnestly inculcated what appeared to him to be the truth; his piety being constant, and the ruling principle of all his conduct[1299].

Such was SAMUEL JOHNSON, a man whose talents, acquirements, and virtues, were so extraordinary, that the more his character is considered, the more he will be regarded by the present age, and by posterity, with admiration and reverence[1300].






(Page 115, note 4.)

There are at least three accounts of this altercation and three versions of the lines. Two of these versions nearly agree. The earliest is found in a letter by Richard Burke, senior, dated Jan. 6, 1773 (Burke Corres. i. 403); the second in The Annual Register for 1776, p. 223; and the third in Miss Reynolds's Recollections (Croker's Boswell, 8vo. p. 833). R. Burke places the scene in Reynolds's house. Whether he himself was present is not clear. 'The dean,' he says, 'asserted that after forty-five a man did not improve. "I differ with you, Sir," answered Johnson; "a man may improve, and you yourself have great room for improvement." The dean was confounded, and for the instant silent. Recovering, he said, "On recollection I see no cause to alter my opinion, except I was to call it improvement for a man to grow (which I allow he may) positive, rude, and insolent, and save arguments by brutality."' Neither the Annual Register nor Miss Reynolds reports the Dean's speech. But she says that 'soon after the ladies withdrew, Dr. Johnson followed them, and sitting down by the lady of the house [that is by herself, if they were at Sir Joshua's] he said, "I am very sorry for having spoken so rudely to the Dean." "You very well may, Sir." "Yes," he said, "it was highly improper to speak in that style to a minister of the gospel, and I am the more hurt on reflecting with what mild dignity he received it."' If Johnson really spoke of the Dean's mild dignity, it is clear that Richard Burke's account is wrong. But it was written just after the scene, and Boswell says there was 'a pretty smart altercation.' Miss Reynolds continues:—'When the Dean came up into the drawing-room, Dr. Johnson immediately rose from his seat, and made him sit on the sofa by him, and with such a beseeching look for pardon and with such fond gestures—literally smoothing down his arms and his knees,' &c. The Annual Register says that Barnard the next day sent the verses addressed to 'Sir Joshua Reynolds & Co.' On the next page I give Richard Burke's version of the lines, and show the various readings.

MISS REYNOLD'S       RICHARD BURKE'S VERSION.          Annual Register
                    I lately thought no man alive
                    Could e'er improve past forty-five,
                      And ventured to assert it;
                    The observation was not new,
                    But seem'd to me so just and true,
                      That none could controvert it.
                    'No, Sir,' says Johnson, ''tis not so;
'Tis                That's your mistake, and I can show
                      An instance, if you doubt it;
You who perhaps are You, Sir, who are near forty-eight,
still               May much improve, 'tis not too late;
                      I wish you'd set about it.'
                    Encouraged thus to mend my faults,
                    I turn'd his counsel in my thoughts,
could                 Which way I should apply it:
Genius I knew was   Learning and wit seem'd past my reach,
what none can       For who can learn where none will teach? when
                      And wit—I could not buy it.
                    Then come, my friends, and try your skill,
may                 You can improve me, if you will;          inform
                      (My books are at a distance).
                    With you I'll live and learn; and then
                    Instead of books I shall read men,
                      So lend me your assistance.            To
                    Dear Knight of Plympton1301, teach me how
unclouded           To suffer with unruffled brow,
as                    And smile serene like thine,
and                 The jest uncouth or truth severe,
Like thee to turn   To such apply my deafest ear,            To such
                      And calmly drink my wine.                I'll turn
                    Thou say'st, not only skill is gain'd,
attained            But genius too may be obtain'd,          attained
invitation            By studious imitation;
                    Thy temper mild, thy genius fine,
study               I'll copy till I make them mine,       thee
meditation            By constant application.
                    Thy art of pleasing teach me, Garrick,
reverest (sic)    Thou who reversest odes Pindarick1302,
                      A second time read o'er;
                    Oh! could we read thee backwards too,
Past                Last thirty years thou shouldst review,
                      And charm us thirty more.
                    If I have thoughts and can't express 'em,
                    Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em
                      In terms select and terse;
                    Jones teach me modesty—and Greek;
                    Smith how to think; Burke how to speak,   Burk
                      And Beauclerk to converse.
                    Let Johnson teach me how to place
                    In fairest light each borrowed grace,
                      From him I'll learn to write;
free and easy       Copy his clear and easy style,            clear
                    And from the roughness of his file,         familiar
like                  Grow as himself—polite.'               like

Horace Walpole, on Dec. 27, 1775, speaks of these verses as if they were fresh. 'They are an answer,' he writes, 'to a gross brutality of Dr. Johnson, to which a properer answer would have been to fling a glass of wine in his face. I have no patience with an unfortunate monster trusting to his helpless deformity for indemnity for any impertinence that his arrogance suggests, and who thinks that what he has read is an excuse for everything he says.' Horace Walpole's Letters, vi. 302. It is strange that Walpole should be so utterly ignorant of Johnson's courage and bodily strength. The date of Walpole's letter makes me suspect that Richard Burke dated his Jan. 6, 1775 (he should have written 1776), and that the blunder of a copyist has changed 1775 into 1773.






(Page 238.)

Had Boswell continued the quotation from Priestley's Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity he would have shown that though Priestley could not hate the rioters, he could very easily prosecute them. He says:—

'If as a Necessarian I cease to blame men for their vices in the ultimate sense of the word, though, in the common and proper sense of it, I continue to do as much as other persons (for how necessarily soever they act, they are influenced by a base and mischievous disposition of mind, against which I must guard myself and others in proportion as I love myself and others),' &c. Priestley's Works, iii. 508.

Of his interview with Johnson, Priestley, in his Appeal to the Public, part ii, published in 1792 (Works, xix. 502), thus writes, answering 'the impudent falsehood that when I was at Oxford Dr. Johnson left a company on my being introduced to it':—

'In fact we never were at Oxford at the same time, and the only interview I ever had with him was at Mr. Paradise's, where we dined together at his own request. He was particularly civil to me, and promised to call upon me the next time he should go through Birmingham. He behaved with the same civility to Dr. Price, when they supped together at Dr. Adams's at Oxford. Several circumstances show that Dr. Johnson had not so much of bigotry at the decline of life as had distinguished him before, on which account it is well known to all our common acquaintance, that I declined all their pressing solicitations to be introduced to him.'

Priestley expresses himself ill, but his meaning can be made out. Parr answered Boswell in the March number of the Gent. Mag. for 1795, p. 179. But the evidence that he brings is rendered needless by Priestley's positive statement. May peace henceforth fall on 'Priestley's injured name.' (Mrs. Barbauld's Poems, ii. 243.)

When Boswell asserts that Johnson 'was particularly resolute in not giving countenance to men whose writings he considered as pernicious to society,' he forgets that that very summer of 1783 he had been willing to dine at Wilkes's house (ante, p. 224, note 2).

Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, ed. 1833, iii. 157) wrote to Dr. Price in 1784:—'It is said that scarce anybody but yourself and Dr. Priestley possesses the art of knowing how to differ decently.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, i. 304), describing in 1789 the honestest members of the French Assembly, calls them 'a set of wild visionaries, like our Dr. Price, who gravely debate, and dream about the establishment of a pure and perfect democracy of five and twenty millions, the virtues of the golden age, and the primitive rights and equality of mankind.' Admiration of Price made Samuel Rogers, when a boy, wish to be a preacher. 'I thought there was nothing on earth so grand as to figure in a pulpit. Dr. Price lived much in the society of Lord Lansdowne [Earl of Shelburne] and other people of rank; and his manners were extremely polished. In the pulpit he was great indeed.' Rogers's Table Talk, p. 3.

The full title of the tract mentioned by Boswell is, A small Whole-Length of Dr. Priestley from his Printed Works. It was published in 1792, and is a very poor piece of writing.

Johnson had refused to meet the Abbé Raynal, the author of the Histoire Philosophique et Politique du Commerce des Deux Indes, when he was over in England in 1777. Mrs. Chapone, writing to Mrs. Carter on June 15 of that year, says:—

'I suppose you have heard a great deal of the Abbé Raynal, who is in London. I fancy you would have served him as Dr. Johnson did, to whom when Mrs. Vesey introduced him, he turned from him, and said he had read his book, and would have nothing to say to him.' Mrs. Chapone's Posthumous Works, i. 172.

See Walpole's Letters, v. 421, and vi. 444. His book was burnt by the common hangman in Paris. Carlyle's French Revolution, ed. 1857, i. 45.






(Page 253.)

Hawkins gives the two following notes:—


'As Mr. Ryland was talking with me of old friends and past times, we warmed ourselves into a wish, that all who remained of the club should meet and dine at the house which once was Horseman's, in Ivy-lane. I have undertaken to solicit you, and therefore desire you to tell on what day next week you can conveniently meet your old friends.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Bolt-court, Nov. 22, 1783.'


'In perambulating Ivy-lane, Mr. Ryland found neither our landlord Horseman, nor his successor. The old house is shut up, and he liked not the appearance of any near it; he therefore bespoke our dinner at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Church-yard, where, at half an hour after three, your company will be desired to-day by those who remain of our former society.

'Your humble servant,


'Dec. 3.'

Four met—Johnson, Hawkins, Ryland, and Payne (ante, i. 243).

'We dined,' Hawkins continues, 'and in the evening regaled with coffee. At ten we broke up, much to the regret of Johnson, who proposed staying; but finding us inclined to separate, he left us with a sigh that seemed to come from his heart, lamenting that he was retiring to solitude and cheerless meditation.' Hawkins's Johnson, p. 562.

Hawkins is mistaken in saying that they had a second meeting at a tavern at the end of a month; for Johnson, on March 10, 1784, wrote:—

'I have been confined from the fourteenth of December, and know not when I shall get out.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 351.

He thus describes these meetings:—

'Dec. 13. I dined about a fortnight ago with three old friends; we had not met together for thirty years, and one of us thought the other grown very old. In the thirty years two of our set have died; our meeting may be supposed to be somewhat tender.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 339.

'Jan. 12, 1784. I had the same old friends to dine with me on Wednesday, and may say that since I lost sight of you I have had one pleasant day.' Ib. p. 346.

'April 15, 1784. Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving another dinner to the remainder of the old club. We used to meet weekly, about the year fifty, and we were as cheerful as in former times; only I could not make quite so much noise, for since the paralytick affliction my voice is sometimes weak.' Ib. p. 361.

'April 19, 1784. The people whom I mentioned in my letter are the remnant of a little club that used to meet in Ivy-lane about three and thirty years ago, out of which we have lost Hawkesworth and Dyer; the rest are yet on this side the grave. Our meetings now are serious, and I think on all parts tender.' Ib. 363.

See ante, i. 191, note 5.






(Page 254.)

It is likely that Sir Joshua Reynolds refused to join the Essex Head Club because he did not wish to meet Barry. Not long before this time he had censured Barry's delay in entering upon his duties as Professor of painting.

'Barry answered:—"If I had no more to do in the composition of my lectures than to produce such poor flimsy stuff as your discourses, I should soon have done my work, and be prepared to read." It is said this speech was delivered with his fist clenched, in a menacing posture.' (Northcote's Life of Reynolds, ii. 146.)

The Hon. Daines Barrington was the author of an Essay on the Migration of Birds (ante, ii. 248) and of Observations on the Statutes (ante, iii. 314). Horace Walpole wrote on Nov. 24, 1780 (Letters, vii. 464):—

'I am sorry for the Dean of Exeter; if he dies I conclude the leaden mace of the Antiquarian Society will be given to Judge Barrington.' (He was 'second Justice of Chester.')

For Dr. Brocklesby see ante, pp. 176, 230, 338, 400.

Of Mr. John Nichols, Murphy says that 'his attachment to Dr. Johnson was unwearied.' Life of Johnson, p. 66. He was the printer of The Lives of the Poets (ante, p. 36), and the author of Biographical and Literary Anecdotes of William Bowyer, Printer, 'the last of the learned printers,' whose apprentice he had been (ante, p. 369). Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 259) says:—

'I scarce ever saw a book so correct as Mr. Nichols's Life of Mr. Bowyer. I wish it deserved the pains he has bestowed on it every way, and that he would not dub so many men great. I have known several of his heroes, who were very little men.'

The Life of Bowyer being recast and enlarged was republished under the title of Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century. From 1778 till his death in 1826 the Gentleman's Magazine was in great measure in his hands. Southey, writing in 1804, says:—

'I have begun to take in here at Keswick the Gentleman's Magazine, alias the Oldwomania, to enlighten a Portuguese student among the mountains; it does amuse me by its exquisite inanity, and the glorious and intense stupidity of its correspondents; it is, in truth, a disgrace to the age and the country.' Southey's Life and Correspondence, ii. 281.

Mr. William Cooke, 'commonly called Conversation Cooke,' wrote Lives of Macklin and Foote. Forster's Essays, ii. 312, and Gent. Mag. 1824, p. 374. Mr. Richard Paul Joddrel, or Jodrell, was the author of The Persian Heroine, a Tragedy, which, in Baker's Biog. Dram. i. 400, is wrongly assigned to Sir R.P. Jodrell, M.D. Nichols's Lit. Anec. ix. 2.

For Mr. Paradise see ante, p. 364, note 2.

Dr. Horsley was the controversialist, later on Bishop of St. David's and next of Rochester. Gibbon makes splendid mention of him (Misc. Works, i. 232) when he tells how 'Dr. Priestley's Socinian shield has repeatedly been pierced by the mighty spear of Horsley.' Windham, however, in his Diary in one place (p. 125) speaks of him as having his thoughts 'intent wholly on prospects of Church preferment;' and in another place (p. 275) says that 'he often lays down with great confidence what turns out afterwards to be wrong.' In the House of Lords he once said that 'he did not know what the mass of the people in any country had to do with the laws but to obey them.' Parl. Hist. xxxii. 258. Thurlow rewarded him for his Letters to Priestley by a stall at Gloucester, 'saying that "those who supported the Church should be supported by it."' Campbell's Chancellors, ed. 1846, v. 635.

For Mr. Windham, see ante, p. 200.

Hawkins (Life of Johnson, p. 567) thus writes of the formation of the Club:—

'I was not made privy to this his intention, but all circumstances considered, it was no matter of surprise to me when I heard that the great Dr. Johnson had, in the month of December 1783, formed a sixpenny club at an ale-house in Essex-street, and that though some of the persons thereof were persons of note, strangers, under restrictions, for three pence each night might three nights in a week hear him talk and partake of his conversation.'

Miss Hawkins (Memoirs, i. 103) says:—

'Boswell was well justified in his resentment of my father's designation of this club as a sixpenny club, meeting at an ale-house. ... Honestly speaking, I dare say my father did not like being passed over.'

Sir Joshua Reynolds, writing of the club, says:—

'Any company was better than none; by which Johnson connected himself with many mean persons whose presence he could command. For this purpose he established a club at a little ale-house in Essex-street, composed of a strange mixture of very learned and very ingenious odd people. Of the former were Dr. Heberden, Mr. Windham, Mr. Boswell, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Paradise. Those of the latter I do not think proper to enumerate.' Taylor's Life of Reynolds, ii. 455.

It is possible that Reynolds had never seen the Essex Head, and that the term 'little ale-house' he had borrowed from Hawkins's account. Possibly too his disgust at Barry here found vent. Murphy (Life of Johnson, p. 124) says:—

'The members of the club were respectable for their rank, their talents, and their literature.'

The 'little ale-house' club saw one of its members, Alderman Clarke (ante, p. 258), Lord Mayor within a year; another, Horsley, a Bishop within five years; and a third, Windham, Secretary at War within ten years. Nichols (Literary Anecdotes, ii. 553) gives a list of the 'constant members' at the time of Johnson's death.






(Page 399.)

Miss Burney's account of Johnson's last days is interesting, but her dates are confused more even than is common with her. I have corrected them as well as I can.

'Dec. 9. He will not, it seems, be talked to—at least very rarely. At times indeed he re-animates; but it is soon over and he says of himself:—"I am now like Macbeth—question enrages me."'

'Dec. 10. At night my father brought us the most dismal tidings of dear Dr. Johnson. He had thanked and taken leave of all his physicians. Alas! I shall lose him, and he will take no leave of me. My father was deeply depressed. I hear from everyone he is now perfectly resigned to his approaching fate, and no longer in terror of death.'

'Dec. 11. My father in the morning saw this first of men. He was up and very composed. He took his hand very kindly, asked after all his family, and then in particular how Fanny did. "I hope," he said, "Fanny did not take it amiss that I did not see her. I was very bad. Tell Fanny to pray for me." After which, still grasping his hand, he made a prayer for himself, the most fervent, pious, humble, eloquent, and touching, my father says, that ever was composed. Oh! would I had heard it! He ended it with Amen! in which my father joined, and was echoed by all present; and again, when my father was leaving him, he brightened up, something of his arch look returned, and he said: "I think I shall throw the ball at Fanny yet."'

'Dec. 12. [Miss Burney called at Bolt-court.] All the rest went away but a Mrs. Davis, a good sort of woman, whom this truly charitable soul had sent for to take a dinner at his house. [See ante, p. 239, note 2.] Mr. Langton then came. He could not look at me, and I turned away from him. Mrs. Davis asked how the Doctor was. "Going on to death very fast," was his mournful answer. "Has he taken," said she, "anything?" "Nothing at all. We carried him some bread and milk—he refused it, and said:—'The less the better.'"'

'Dec. 20. This day was the ever-honoured, ever-lamented Dr. Johnson committed to the earth. Oh, how sad a day to me! My father attended. I could not keep my eyes dry all day; nor can I now in the recollecting it; but let me pass over what to mourn is now so vain.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 333-339.






(Notes on Boswell's note on pages 403-405.)

[F-1] In a letter quoted in Mr. Croker's Boswell, p. 427, Dr. Johnson calls Thomas Johnson 'cousin,' and says that in the last sixteen months he had given him £40. He mentions his death in 1779. Piozzi Letters, ii. 45.

[F-2] Hawkins (Life, p. 603) says that Elizabeth Herne was Johnson's first-cousin, and that he had constantly—how long he does not say—contributed £15 towards her maintenance.

[F-3] For Mauritius Lowe, see ante, iii. 324, and iv. 201.

[F-4] To Mr. Windham, two days earlier, he had given a copy of the New Testament, saying:—'Extremum hoc munus morientis habeto.' Windham's Diary, p. 28.

[F-5] For Mrs. Gardiner see ante, i. 242.

[F-6] Mr. John Desmoulins was the son of Mrs. Desmoulins (ante, iii. 222, 368), and the grandson of Johnson's god-father, Dr. Swinfen (ante, i. 34). Johnson mentions him in a letter to Mrs. Thrale in 1778. 'Young Desmoulins is taken in an under-something of Drury Lane; he knows not, I believe, his own denomination.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 25.

[F-7] The reference is to The Rambler, No. 41 (not 42 as Boswell says), where Johnson mentions 'those vexations and anxieties with which all human enjoyments are polluted.'

[F-8] Bishop Sanderson described his soul as 'infinitely polluted with sin.' Walton's Lives, ed. 1838, p. 396.

[F-9] Hume, writing in 1742 about his Essays Moral and Political, says:—

'Innys, the great bookseller in Paul's Church-yard, wonders there is not a new edition, for that he cannot find copies for his customers.' J.H. Burton's Hume, i. 143.

[F-10] Nichols (Lit. Anec. ii. 554) says that, on Dec. 7,

'Johnson asked him whether any of the family of Faden the printer were living. Being told that the geographer near Charing Cross was Faden's son, he said, after a short pause:—"I borrowed a guinea of his father near thirty years ago; be so good as to take this, and pay it for me."'

[F-11] Nowhere does Hawkins more shew the malignancy of his character than in his attacks on Johnson's black servant, and through him on Johnson. With the passage in which this offensive caveat is found he brings his work to a close. At the first mention of Frank (Life, p. 328) he says:—

'His first master had in great humanity made him a Christian, and his last for no assignable reason, nay rather in despite of nature, and to unfit him for being useful according to his capacity, determined to make him a scholar.'

But Hawkins was a brutal fellow. See ante, i. 27, note 2, and 28, note


[F-12] Johnson had written to Taylor on Oct. 23 of this year:—

'"Coming down from a very restless night I found your letter, which made me a little angry. You tell me that recovery is in my power. This indeed I should be glad to hear if I could once believe it. But you mean to charge me with neglecting or opposing my own health. Tell me, therefore, what I do that hurts me, and what I neglect that would help me." This letter is endorsed by Taylor: "This is the last letter. My answer, which were (sic) the words of advice he gave to Mr. Thrale the day he dyed, he resented extremely from me."' Mr. Alfred Morrison's Collection of Autographs, &c., ii. 343.

'The words of advice' which were given to Mr. Thrale the day before the fatal fit seized him, were that he should abstain from full meals. Ante, iv. 84, note 4. Johnson's resentment of Taylor's advice may account for the absence of his name in his will.

[F-13] They were sold in 650 Lots, in a four days' sale. Besides the books there were 146 portraits, of which 61 were framed and glazed. These prints in their frames were sold in lots of 4, 8, and even 10 together, though certainly some of them—and perhaps many—were engravings from Reynolds. The Catalogue of the sale is in the Bodleian Library.






(Notes on Boswell's note on page 408.)

[G-1] Mrs. Piozzi records (Anecdotes, p. 120) that Johnson told her,—

'When Boyse was almost perishing with hunger, and some money was produced to purchase him a dinner, he got a bit of roast beef, but could not eat it without ketch-up; and laid out the last half-guinea he possessed in truffles and mushrooms, eating them in bed too, for want of clothes, or even a shirt to sit up in.'

Hawkins (Life, p. 159) gives 1740 as the year of Boyse's destitution.

'He was,' he says, 'confined to a bed which had no sheets; here, to procure food, he wrote; his posture sitting up in bed, his only covering a blanket, in which a hole was made to admit of the employment of his arm.'

Two years later Boyse wrote the following verses to Cave from a spunging-house:—

      'Hodie, teste coelo summo,
       Sine pane, sine nummo,
       Sorte positus infeste,
       Scribo tibi dolens moeste.
       Fame, bile tumet jecur:
       Urbane, mitte opem, precor.
       Tibi enim cor humanum
       Non a malis alienum:
       Mihi mens nee male grato,
       Pro a te favore dato.
     Ex gehenna debitoria,
     Vulgo, domo spongiatoria.'

He adds that he hopes to have his Ode on the British Nation done that day. This Ode, which is given in the Gent. Mag. 1742, p. 383, contains the following verse, which contrasts sadly with the poor poet's case:—

     'Thou, sacred isle, amidst thy ambient main,
      Enjoyst the sweets of freedom all thy own.'

[G-2] It is not likely that Johnson called a sixpence 'a serious consideration.' He who in his youth would not let his comrades say prodigious (ante/, in. 303) was not likely in his old age so to misuse a word.

[G-3] Hugh Kelly is mentioned ante, ii. 48, note 2, and iii. 113.

[G-4] It was not on the return from Sky, but on the voyage from Sky to Rasay, that the spurs were lost. Post, v. 163.

[G-5] Dr. White's Bampton Lectures of 1784 'became part of the triumphant literature of the University of Oxford,' and got the preacher a Christ Church Canonry. Of these Lectures Dr. Parr had written about one-fifth part. White, writing to Parr about a passage in the manuscript of the last Lecture, said:—'I fear I did not clearly explain myself; I humbly beg the favour of you to make my meaning more intelligible.' On the death of Mr. Badcock in 1788, a note for £500 from White was found in his pocket-book. White pretended that this was remuneration for some other work; but it was believed on good grounds that Badcock had begun what Parr had completed, and that these famous Lectures were mainly their work. Badcock was one of the writers in the Monthly Review. Johnstone's Life of Dr. Parr, i. 218-278. For Badcock's correspondence with the editor of the Monthly Review, see Bodleian MS. Add.

C. 90.

[G-6] 'Virgilium vidi tantum.' Ovid, Tristia, iv. 10. 51.

[G-7] Mackintosh says of Priestley:—'Frankness and disinterestedness in the avowal of his opinion were his point of honour.' He goes on to point out that there was 'great mental power in him wasted and scattered.' Life of Mackintosh, i. 349. See ante, ii. 124, and iv. 238 for Johnson's opinion of Priestley.

[G-8] Badcock, in using the term 'index-scholar,' was referring no doubt to Pope's lines:—

'How Index-learning turns no student pale,
 Yet holds the eel of science by the tail.'

Dunciad, i. 279.






(Notes on Boswell's note on pages 421-422.)

[H-1] The last lines of the inscription on this urn are borrowed, with a slight change, from the last paragraph of the last Rambler/. (Johnson's Works, iii. 465, and ante, i. 226.) Johnson visited Colonel Myddelton on August 29, 1774, in his Tour to Wales. See post, v. 453.

[H-2] Johnson, writing to Dr. Taylor on Sept. 3, 1783, said:—'I sat to Opey (sic) as long as he desired, and I think the head is finished, but it is not much admired.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 481. Hawkins (Life of Johnson, p. 569) says that in 1784 'Johnson resumed sitting to Opie, but,' he adds, 'I believe the picture was never finished.'

[H-3] Of this picture, which was the one painted for Beauclerk (ante, p. 180), it is stated in Johnson's Work, ed. 1787, xi. 204, that 'there is in it that appearance of a labouring working mind, of an indolent reposing body, which he had to a very great degree.'

[H-4] It seems almost certain that the portrait of Johnson in the Common Room of University College, Oxford, is this very mezzotinto. It was given to the College by Sir William Scott, and it is a mezzotinto from Opie's portrait. It has been reproduced for this work, and will be found facing page 244 of volume iii. Scott's inscription on the back of the frame is given on page 245, note 3, of the same volume.






(Page 424.)

Boswell most likely never knew that in the year 1790 Mr. Seward, in the name of Cadell the publisher, had asked Parr to write a Life of Johnson. (Johnstone's Life of Parr, iv. 678.) Parr, in his amusing vanity, was as proud of this Life as if he had written it. '"It would have been," he said, "the third most learned work that has ever yet appeared. The most learned work ever published I consider Bentley On the Epistles of Phalaris; the next Salmasius On the Hellenistic Language." Alluding to Boswell's Life he continued, "Mine should have been, not the droppings of his lips, but the history of his mind."' Field's Life of Parr, i. 164.

In the epitaph that he first sent in were found the words 'Probabili Poetae.'

'In arms,' wrote Parr, 'were all the Johnsonians: Malone, Steevens, Sir W. Scott, Windham, and even Fox, all in arms. The epithet was cold. They do not understand it, and I am a Scholar, not a Belles-Lettres man.'

Parr had wished to pass over all notice of Johnson's poetical character. To this, Malone said, none of his friends of the Literary Club would agree. He pointed out also that Parr had not noticed 'that part of Johnson's genius, which placed him on higher ground than perhaps any other quality that can be named—the universality of his knowledge, the promptness of his mind in producing it on all occasions in conversation, and the vivid eloquence with which he clothed his thoughts, however suddenly called upon.' Parr, regardless of Johnson's rule that 'in lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath' (ante, ii. 407), replied, that if he mentioned his conversation he should have to mention also his roughness in contradiction, &c. As for the epithet probabili, he 'never reflected upon it without almost a triumphant feeling in its felicity.' Nevertheless he would change it into 'poetae sententiarum et verborum ponderibus admirabili.' Yet these words, 'energetic and sonorous' though they were, 'fill one with a secret and invincible loathing, because they tend to introduce into the epitaph a character of magnificence.' With every fresh objection he rose in importance. He wrote for the approbation of real scholars of generations yet unborn. 'That the epitaph was written by such or such a man will, from the publicity of the situation, and the popularity of the subject, be long remembered.' Johnstone's Life of Parr, iv. 694-712. No objection seems to have been raised to the five pompous lines of perplexing dates and numerals in which no room is found even for Johnson's birth and birth-place.

'After I had written the epitaph,' wrote Parr to a friend, 'Sir Joshua Reynolds told me there was a scroll. I was in a rage. A scroll! Why, Ned, this is vile modern contrivance. I wanted one train of ideas. What could I do with the scroll? Johnson held it, and Johnson must speak in it. I thought of this, his favourite maxim, in the Life of Milton, [Johnson's Works, vii. 77],

    "[Greek: Otti toi en megaroisi kakon t agathon te tetuktai.]."

In Homer [Odyssey, iv. 392] you know—and shewing the excellence of Moral Philosophy. There Johnson and Socrates agree. Mr. Seward, hearing of my difficulty, and no scholar, suggested the closing line in the Rambler [ante, i. 226, note 1]; had I looked there I should have anticipated the suggestion. It is the closing line in Dionysius's Periegesis,

    "[Greek: Anton ek makaron antaxios eiae amoibae.]."

I adopted it, and gave Seward the praise. "Oh," quoth Sir William Scott, "[Greek: makaron] is Heathenish, and the Dean and Chapter will hesitate." "The more fools they," said I. But to prevent disputes I have altered it.

    "[Greek: En makaressi ponon antaxios ein amoibae]."
                  Johnstone's Life of Parr, iv. 713.

Though the inscription on the scroll is not strictly speaking part of the epitaph, yet this mixture of Greek and Latin is open to the censure Johnson passed on Pope's Epitaph on Craggs.

'It may be proper to remark,' he said, 'the absurdity of joining in the same inscription Latin and English, or verse and prose. If either language be preferable to the other, let that only be used; for no reason can be given why part of the information should be given in one tongue and part in another on a tomb more than in any other place, or on any other occasion.' Johnson's Works, viii. 353.

Bacon the sculptor was anxious, wrote Malone, 'that posterity should know that he was entitled to annex R.A. to his name.' Parr was ready to give his name, lest if it were omitted 'Bacon should slily put the figure of a hog on Johnson's monument'; just as 'Saurus and Batrachus, when Octavia would not give them leave to set their names on the Temples they had built in Rome, scattered one of them [Greek: saurai] [lizards], and the other [Greek: batrachoi] [frogs] on the bases and capitals of the columns.' But as for the R.A., the sculptor 'very reluctantly had to agree to its omission.' Johnstone's Parr, iv. 705 and 710.






[1] Nothing can compensate for this want this year of all years. Johnson's health was better than it had been for long, and his mind happier perhaps than it had ever been. The knowledge that in his Lives of the Poets, he had done, and was doing good work, no doubt was very cheering to him. At no time had he gone more into society, and at no time does he seem to have enjoyed it with greater relish. 'How do you think I live?' he wrote on April 25. 'On Thursday, I dined with Hamilton, and went thence to Mrs. Ord. On Friday, with much company at Reynolds's. On Saturday, at Dr. Bell's. On Sunday, at Dr. Burney's; at night, came Mrs. Ord, Mr. Greville, &c. On Monday with Reynolds, at night with Lady Lucan; to-day with Mr. Langton; to-morrow with the Bishop of St. Asaph; on Thursday with Mr. Bowles; Friday ——; Saturday, at the Academy; Sunday with Mr. Ramsay.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 107. On May 1, he wrote:—'At Mrs. Ord's, I met one Mrs. B—— [Buller], a travelled lady, of great spirit, and some consciousness of her own abilities. We had a contest of gallantry an hour long, so much to the diversion of the company that at Ramsay's last night, in a crowded room, they would have pitted us again. There were Smelt, [one of the King's favourites] and the Bishop of St. Asaph, who comes to every place; and Lord Monboddo, and Sir Joshua, and ladies out of tale.' Ib. p. 111. The account that Langton gives of the famous evening at Mrs. Vesey's, 'when the company began to collect round Johnson till they became not less than four, if not five deep (ante, May 2, 1780), is lively enough; but 'the particulars of the conversation' which he neglects, Boswell would have given us in full.

[2] In 1792, Miss Burney, after recording that Boswell told some of his Johnsonian stories, continues:—'Mr. Langton told some stories in imitation of Dr. Johnson; but they became him less than Mr. Boswell, and only reminded me of what Dr. Johnson himself once said to me—"Every man has some time in his life an ambition to be a wag."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, v. 307.

[3] Stephanorum Historia, vitas ipsorum ac libros complectens. London,


[4] Senilia was published in 1742. The line to which Johnson refers is, 'Mel, nervos, fulgur, Carteret, unus, habes,' p. 101. In another line, the poet celebrates Colley Cibber's Muse—the Musa Cibberi: 'Multa Cibberum levat aura.' p. 50. See Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843, i. 367.

[5] Graecae Linguae Dialecti in Scholae Westmonast. usum, 1738.

[6] Giannone, an Italian historian, born 1676, died 1748. When he published his History of the Kingdom of Naples, a friend congratulating him on its success, said:—'Mon ami, vous vous êtes mis une couronne sur la tête, mais une couronne d'épines.' His attacks on the Church led to persecution, in the end he made a retractation, but nevertheless he died in prison. Nouv. Biog. Gén. xx. 422.

[7] See ante, ii. 119.

[8] 'There is no kind of impertinence more justly censurable than his who is always labouring to level thoughts to intellects higher than his own; who apologises for every word which his own narrowness of converse inclines him to think unusual; keeps the exuberance of his faculties under visible restraint; is solicitous to anticipate inquiries by needless explanations; and endeavours to shade his own abilities lest weak eyes should be dazzled with their lustre.' The Rambler, No. 173.

[9] Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines Anfractuousness as Fulness of windings and turnings. Anfractuosity is not given. Lord Macaulay, in the last sentence in his Biography of Johnson, alludes to this passage.

[10] See ante, iii. 149, note 2.

[11] 'My purpose was to admit no testimony of living authors, that I might not be misled by partiality, and that none of my contemporaries might have reason to complain; nor have I departed from this resolution, but when some performance of uncommon excellence excited my veneration, when my memory supplied me from late books with an example that was wanting, or when my heart, in the tenderness of friendship, solicited admission for a favourite name.' Johnson's Works, v. 39. He cites himself under important, Mrs. Lennox under talent, Garrick under giggler; from Richardson's Clarissa, he makes frequent quotations. In the fourth edition, published in 1773 (ante, ii. 203), he often quotes Reynolds; for instance, under vulgarism, which word is not in the previous editions. Beattie he quotes under weak, and Gray under bosom. He introduces also many quotations from Law, and Young. In the earlier editions, in his quotations from Clarissa, he very rarely gives the author's name; in the fourth edition I have found it rarely omitted.

[12] In one of his Hypochondriacks (London Mag. 1782, p. 233) Boswell writes:—'I have heard it remarked by one, of whom more remarks deserve to be remembered than of any person I ever knew, that a man is often as narrow as he is prodigal for want of counting.'

[13] 'Sept. 1778. We began talking of Irene, and Mrs. Thrale made Dr. Johnson read some passages which I had been remarking as uncommonly applicable to the present time. He read several speeches, and told us he had not ever read so much of it before since it was first printed.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 96. 'I was told,' wrote Sir Walter Scott, 'that a gentleman called Pot, or some such name, was introduced to him as a particular admirer of his. The Doctor growled and took no further notice. "He admires in especial your Irene as the finest tragedy modern times;" to which the Doctor replied, "If Pot says so, Pot lies!" and relapsed into his reverie.' Croker Corres. ii. 32.

[14] Scrupulosity was a word that Boswell had caught up from Johnson. Sir W. Jones (Life, i. 177) wrote in 1776:—'You will be able to examine with the minutest scrupulosity, as Johnson would call it.' Johnson describes Addison's prose as 'pure without scrupulosity.' Works, vii. 472. 'Swift,' he says, 'washed himself with oriental scrupulosity.' Ib. viii. 222. Boswell (Hebrides, Aug. 15) writes of 'scrupulosity of conscience.'

     'When thou didst not, savage,
      Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
      A thing most brutish, I endow'd thy purposes
      With words that made them known.'
      The Tempest, act i. sc. 2.

[16] Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 115, note i. Lockman was known in France as the translator of Voltaire's La Henriade. See Marmontel's Preface. Voltaire's Works, ed. 1819, viii. 18.

[17] Luke vii. 50. BOSWELL.

[18] Miss Burney, describing him in 1783, says:—'He looks unformed in his manners and awkward in his gestures. He joined not one word in the general talk.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 237. See ante, ii. 41, note 1.

[19] By Garrick.

[20] See ante, i. 201.

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

[22] The actor. Churchill introduces him in The Rosciad (Poems, i. 16):—'Next Holland came. With truly tragic stalk, He creeps, he flies. A Hero should not walk.'

[23] In a letter written by Johnson to a friend in 1742-43, he says: 'I never see Garrick.' MALONE.

[24] See ante, ii. 227.

[25] The Wonder! A Woman keeps a Secret, by Mrs. Centlivre. Acted at Drury Lane in 1714. Revived by Garrick in 1757. Reed's Biog. Dram. iii. 420.

[26] In Macbeth.

[27] Mr. Longley was Recorder of Rochester, and father of Archbishop Longley. To the kindness of his grand-daughter, Mrs. Newton Smart, I owe the following extract from his manuscript Autobiography:—'Dr. Johnson and General Paoli came down to visit Mr. Langton, and I was asked to meet them, when the conversation took place mentioned by Boswell, in which Johnson gave me more credit for knowledge of the Greek metres than I deserved. There was some question about anapaestics, concerning which I happened to remember what Foster used to tell us at Eton, that the whole line to the Basis Anapaestica was considered but as one verse, however divided in the printing, and consequently the syllables at the end of each line were not common, as in other metres. This observation was new to Johnson, and struck him. Had he examined me farther, I fear he would have found me ignorant. Langton was a very good Greek scholar, much superior to Johnson, to whom nevertheless he paid profound deference, sometimes indeed I thought more than he deserved. The next day I dined at Langton's with Johnson, I remember Lady Rothes [Langton's wife] spoke of the advantage children now derived from the little books published purposely for their instruction. Johnson controverted it, asserting that at an early age it was better to gratify curiosity with wonders than to attempt planting truth, before the mind was prepared to receive it, and that therefore, Jack the Giant-Killer, Parisenus and Parismenus, and The Seven Champions of Christendom were fitter for them than Mrs. Barbauld and Mrs. Trimmer.' Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 16) says:—'Dr. Johnson used to condemn me for putting Newbery's books into children's hands. "Babies do not want," said he, "to hear about babies; they like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little minds." When I would urge the numerous editions of Tommy Prudent or Goody Two Shoes; "Remember always," said he, "that the parents buy the books, and that the children never read them.'" For Johnson's visit to Rochester, see post, July, 1783.

[28] See post, beginning of 1781, after The Life of Swift, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 15.

[29] See ante, under Sept. 9, 1779.

[30] Johnson wrote of this grotto (Works, viii. 270):—'It may be frequently remarked of the studious and speculative that they are proud of trifles, and that their amusements seem frivolous and childish.'

[31] See ante, i. 332.

[32] Epilogue to the Satires, i. 131. Dr. James Foster, the Nonconformist preacher. Johnson mentions 'the reputation which he had gained by his proper delivery.' Works, viii. 384. In The Conversations of Northcote, p. 88, it is stated that 'Foster first became popular from the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke stopping in the porch of his chapel in the Old Jewry out of a shower of rain: and thinking he might as well hear what was going on he went in, and was so well pleased that he sent all the great folks to hear him, and he was run after as much as Irving has been in our time.' Dr. T. Campbell (Diary, p. 34) recorded in 1775, that 'when Mrs. Thrale quoted something from Foster's Sermons, Johnson flew in a passion, and said that Foster was a man of mean ability, and of no original thinking.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, v. 300) wrote of Foster:—'Wonderful! a divine preferring reason to faith, and more afraid of vice than of heresy.'

[33] It is believed to have been her play of The Sister, brought out in 1769. 'The audience expressed their disapprobation of it with so much appearance of prejudice that she would not suffer an attempt to exhibit it a second time.' Gent. Mag. xxxix. 199. It is strange, however, if Goldsmith was asked to hiss a play for which he wrote the epilogue. Goldsmith's Misc. Works, ii. 80. Johnson wrote on Oct. 28, 1779 (Piozzi Letters, ii. 72):—'C—— L—— accuses —— of making a party against her play. I always hissed away the charge, supposing him a man of honour; but I shall now defend him with less confidence.' Baretti, in a marginal note, says that C—— L—— is 'Charlotte Lennox.' Perhaps —— stands for Cumberland. Miss Burney said that 'Mr. Cumberland is notorious for hating and envying and spiting all authors in the dramatic line.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 272.

[34] See ante, i. 255.

[35] In The Rambler, No. 195, Johnson describes rascals such as this man. 'They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity and denunciations against a man whose name they had never heard, and a performance which they could not understand; for they were resolved to judge for themselves, and would not suffer the town to be imposed upon by scribblers. In the pit they exerted themselves with great spirit and vivacity; called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked loudly at intervals of Shakespeare and Jonson,' &c.

[36] See ante, ii. 469.

[37] Dr. Percy told Malone 'that they all at the Club had such a high opinion of Mr. Dyer's knowledge and respect for his judgment as to appeal to him constantly, and that his sentence was final.' Malone adds that 'he was so modest and reserved, that he frequently sat silent in company for an hour, and seldom spoke unless appealed to. Goldsmith, who used to rattle away upon all subjects, had been talking somewhat loosely relative to music. Some one wished for Mr. Dyer's opinion, which he gave with his usual strength and accuracy. "Why," said Goldsmith, turning round to Dyer, whom he had scarcely noticed before, "you seem to know a good deal of this matter." "If I had not," replied Dyer, "I should not, in this company, have said a word upon the subject."' Burke described him as 'a man of profound and general erudition; his sagacity and judgment were fully equal to the extent of his learning.' Prior's Malone, pp. 419, 424. Malone in his Life of Dryden, p. 181, says that Dyer was Junius. Johnson speaks of him as 'the late learned Mr. Dyer.' Works, viii. 385. Had he been alive he was to have been the professor of mathematics in the imaginary college at St. Andrews. Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25. Many years after his death, Johnson bought his portrait to hang in 'a little room that he was fitting up with prints.' Croker's Boswell, p. 639.

[38] Memoirs of Agriculture and other Oeconomical Arts, 3 vols., by Robert Dossie, London, 1768-82.

[39] See ante, ii. 14.

[40] Here Lord Macartney remarks, 'A Bramin or any cast of the Hindoos will neither admit you to be of their religion, nor be converted to yours;—a thing which struck the Portuguese with the greatest astonishment, when they first discovered the East Indies.' BOSWELL.

[41] See ante, ii. 250.

[42] See ante, Aug. 30, 1780.

[43] John, Lord Carteret, and Earl Granville, who died Jan. 2, 1763. It is strange that he wrote so ill; for Lord Chesterfield says (Misc. Works, iv. Appendix, p. 42) that 'he had brought away with him from Oxford, a great stock of Greek and Latin, and had made himself master of all the modern languages. He was one of the best speakers in the House of Lords, both in the declamatory and argumentative way.'

[44] Walpole describes the partiality of the members of the court-martial that sat on Admiral Keppel in Jan. 1779. One of them 'declared frankly that he should not attend to forms of law, but to justice.' So friendly were the judges to the prisoner that 'it required the almost unanimous voice of the witnesses in favour of his conduct, and the vile arts practised against him, to convince all mankind how falsely and basely he had been accused.' Walpole, referring to the members, speaks of 'the feelings of seamen unused to reason.' Some of the leading politicians established themselves at Portsmouth during the trial. Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 329

[45] See ante, ii. 240.

[46] In all Gray's Odes, there is a kind of cumbrous splendour which we wish away.... The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural violence. "Double, double, toil and trouble." He has a kind of strutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tip-toe. His art and his struggle are too visible, and there is too little appearance of ease and nature.' Johnson's Works, viii. 484-87. See ante, i. 402, and ii. 327, 335.

[47] One evening, in the Haymarket Theatre, 'when Foote lighted the King to his chair, his majesty asked who [sic] the piece was written by? "By one of your Majesty's chaplains," said Foote, unable even then to suppress his wit; "and dull enough to have been written by a bishop."' Forster's Essays, ii. 435. See ante, i. 390, note 3.

[48] Bk. v. ch. 1.

[49] See ante, ii. 133, note 1; Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 27, and Oct. 28.

[50] The correspondent of The Gentleman's Magazine [1792, p. 214] who subscribes himself SCIOLUS furnishes the following supplement:—

'A lady of my acquaintance remembers to have heard her uncle sing those homely stanzas more than forty-five years ago. He repeated the second thus:—

     She shall breed young lords and ladies fair,
     And ride abroad in a coach and three pair,
     And the best, &c.
     And have a house, &c.

And remembered a third which seems to have been the introductory one, and is believed to have been the only remaining one:—

     When the Duke of Leeds shall have made his choice
     Of a charming young lady that's beautiful and wise,
     She'll be the happiest young gentlewoman under the skies,
     As long as the sun and moon shall rise,
     And how happy shall, &c.

It is with pleasure I add that this stanza could never be more truly applied than at this present time. BOSWELL. This note was added to the second edition.

[51] See ante, i. 115, note 1.

[52] See ante, i. 82.

[53] Baretti, in a MS. note on Piozzi Letters, i. 121, says:—'Johnson was a real true-born Englishman. He hated the Scotch, the French, the Dutch, the Hanoverians, and had the greatest contempt for all other European nations; such were his early prejudices which he never attempted to conquer.' Reynolds wrote of Johnson:—'The prejudices he had to countries did not extend to individuals. In respect to Frenchmen he rather laughed at himself, but it was insurmountable. He considered every foreigner as a fool till they had convinced him of the contrary.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 460. Garrick wrote of the French in 1769:—'Their politesse has reduced their character to such a sameness, and their humours and passions are so curbed by habit, that, when you have seen half-a-dozen French men and women, you have seen the whole.' Garrick Corres. i. 358.

[54] 'There is not a man or woman here,' wrote Horace Walpole from Paris (Letters iv. 434), 'that is not a perfect old nurse, and who does not talk gruel and anatomy with equal fluency and ignorance.'

[55] '"I remember that interview well," said Dr. Parr with great vehemence when once reminded of it; "I gave him no quarter." The subject of our dispute was the liberty of the press. Dr. Johnson was very great. Whilst he was arguing, I observed that he stamped. Upon this I stamped. Dr. Johnson said, "Why did you stamp, Dr. Parr?" I replied, "Because you stamped; and I was resolved not to give you the advantage even of a stamp in the argument."' This, Parr said, was by no means his first introduction to Johnson. Field's Parr, i. 161. Parr wrote to Romilly in 1811:—'Pray let me ask whether you have ever read some admirable remarks of Mr. Hutcheson upon the word merit. I remember a controversy I had with Dr. Johnson upon this very term: we began with theology fiercely, I gently carried the conversation onward to philosophy, and after a dispute of more than three hours he lost sight of my heresy, and came over to my opinion upon the metaphysical import of the term.' Life of Romilly, ii. 365. When Parr was a candidate for the mastership of Colchester Grammar School, Johnson wrote for him a letter of recommendation. Johnstone's Parr, i. 94.

[56] 'Somebody was praising Corneille one day in opposition to Shakespeare. "Corneille is to Shakespeare," replied Mr. Johnson, "as a clipped hedge is to a forest."' Piozzi's Anec. p. 59.

[57] Johnson, it is clear, discusses here Mrs. Montagu's Essay on Shakespeare. She compared Shakespeare first with Corneille, and then with Aeschylus. In contrasting the ghost in Hamlet with the shade of Darius in The Persians, she says:—'The phantom, who was to appear ignorant of what was past, that the Athenian ear might be soothed and flattered with the detail of their victory at Salamis, is allowed, for the same reason, such prescience as to foretell their future triumph at Plataea.' p. 161.

[58] Caution is required in everything which is laid before youth, to secure them from unjust prejudices, perverse opinions, and incongruous combinations of images. In the romances formerly written, every transaction and sentiment was so remote from all that passes among men, that the reader was in very little danger of making any applications to himself.' The Rambler, No. 4.

[59] Johnson says of Pope's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day:—'The next stanzas place and detain us in the dark and dismal regions of mythology, where neither hope nor fear, neither joy nor sorrow can be found.' Works, viii. 328. Of Gray's Progress of Poetry, he says:—'The second stanza, exhibiting Mars' car and Jove's eagle, is unworthy of further notice. Criticism disdains to chase a school-boy to his common-places.' Ib. p. 484.

[60] See ante, ii. 178.

     'A Wizard-Dame, the Lover's ancient friend,
      With magic charm has deaft thy husband's ear,
      At her command I saw the stars descend,
      And winged lightnings stop in mid career, &c.'

Hammond. Elegy, v. In Boswell's Hebrides (Sept. 29), he said 'Hammond's Love Elegies were poor things.'

[62] Perhaps Lord Corke and Orrery. Ante, iii. 183. CROKER.

[63] Colman assumed that Johnson had maintained that Shakespeare was totally ignorant of the learned languages. He then quotes a line to prove 'that the author of The Taming of the Shrew had at least read Ovid;' and continues:—'And what does Dr. Johnson say on this occasion? Nothing. And what does Mr. Farmer say on this occasion? Nothing.' Colman's Terence, ii. 390. For Farmer, see ante, iii. 38.

[64] 'It is most likely that Shakespeare had learned Latin sufficiently to make him acquainted with construction, but that he never advanced to an easy perusal of the Roman authors.' Johnson's Works, V. 129. 'The style of Shakespeare was in itself ungrammatical, perplexed, and obscure.' Ib. p. 135.

     'May I govern my passion with
        an absolute sway,
      And grow wiser and better, as
        my strength wears away,
      Without gout or stone by a
        gentle decay.'

The Old Man's Wish was sung to Sir Roger de Coverley by 'the fair one,' after the collation in which she ate a couple of chickens, and drank a full bottle of wine. Spectator, No. 410. 'What signifies our wishing?' wrote Dr. Franklin. 'I have sung that wishing song a thousand times when I was young, and now find at fourscore that the three contraries have befallen me, being subject to the gout and the stone, and not being yet master of all my passions.' Franklin's Memoirs, iii. 185.

[66] He uses the same image in The Life of Milton (Works, vii. 104):—'He might still be a giant among the pigmies, the one-eyed monarch of the blind.' Cumberland (Memoirs, i. 39) says that Bentley, hearing it maintained that Barnes spoke Greek almost like his mother tongue, replied:—'Yes, I do believe that Barnes had as much Greek and understood it about as well as an Athenian blacksmith.' See ante, iii 284. A passage in Wooll's Life of Dr. Warton (i. 313) shews that Barnes attempted to prove that Homer and Solomon were one and the same man. But I. D'Israeli says that it was reported that Barnes, not having money enough to publish his edition of Homer, 'wrote a poem, the design of which is to prove that Solomon was the author of the Iliad, to interest his wife, who had some property, to lend her aid towards the publication of so divine a work.' Calamities of Authors, i. 250.

[67] 'The first time Suard saw Burke, who was at Reynolds's, Johnson touched him on the shoulder and said, "Le grand Burke."' Boswelliana, p. 299. See ante, ii. 450.

[68] Miss Hawkins (Memoirs, i. 279, 288) says that Langton told her father that he meant to give his six daughters such a knowledge of Greek, 'that while five of them employed themselves in feminine works, the sixth should read a Greek author for the general amusement.' She describes how 'he would get into the most fluent recitation of half a page of Greek, breaking off for fear of wearying, by saying, "and so it goes on," accompanying his words with a gentle wave of his hand.'

[69] See post, p. 42.

[70] See ante, i. 326.

[71] This assertion concerning Johnson's insensibility to the pathetick powers of Otway, is too round. I once asked him, whether he did not think Otway frequently tender: when he answered, 'Sir, he is all tenderness.' BURNEY. He describes Otway as 'one of the first names in the English drama.' Works, vii. 173.

[72] See ante, April 16, 1779.

[73] Johnson; it seems, took up this study. In July, 1773, he recorded that between Easter and Whitsuntide, he attempted to learn the Low Dutch language. 'My application,' he continues, 'was very slight, and my memory very fallacious, though whether more than in my earlier years, I am not very certain.' Pr. and Med. p. 129, and ante, ii. 263. On his death-bed, he said to Mr. Hoole:—'About two years since I feared that I had neglected God, and that then I had not a mind to give him; on which I set about to read Thomas à Kempis in Low Dutch, which I accomplished, and thence I judged that my mind was not impaired, Low Dutch having no affinity with any of the languages which I knew.' Croker's Boswell, p. 844. See ante, iii. 235.

[74] See post, under July 5, 1783.

[75] See ante, ii. 409, and iii. 197.

[76] One of Goldsmith's friends 'remembered his relating [about the year 1756] a strange Quixotic scheme he had in contemplation of going to decipher the inscriptions on the written mountains, though he was altogether ignorant of Arabic, or the language in which they might be supposed to be written.' Goldsmith's Misc. Works, ed. 1801, i. 40. Percy says that Goldsmith applied to the prime minister, Lord Bute, for a salary to enable him to execute 'the visionary project' mentioned in the text. 'To prepare the way, he drew up that ingenious essay on this subject which was first printed in the Ledger, and afterwards in his Citizen of the World [No. 107].' Ib. p. 65. Percy adds that the Earl of Northumberland, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, regretted 'that he had not been made acquainted with his plan; for he would have procured him a sufficient salary on the Irish establishment.' Goldsmith, in his review of Van Egmont's Travels in Asia, says:—'Could we see a man set out upon this journey [to Asia] not with an intent to consider rocks and rivers, but the manners, and the mechanic inventions, and the imperfect learning of the inhabitants; resolved to penetrate into countries as yet little known, and eager to pry into all their secrets, with an heart not terrified at trifling dangers; if there could be found a man who could unite this true courage with sound learning, from such a character we might hope much information.' Goldsmith's Works, ed. 1854, iv. 225. Johnson would have gone to Constantinople, as he himself said, had he received his pension twenty years earlier. Post, p. 27.

[77] It should be remembered, that this was said twenty-five or thirty years ago, [written in 1799,] when lace was very generally worn. MALONE. 'Greek and Latin,' said Porson, 'are only luxuries.' Rogers's Table Talk, p. 325.

[78] See ante, iii. 8.

[79] Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Cowley, says, that these are 'the only English verses which Bentley is known to have written.' I shall here insert them, and hope my readers will apply them.

     'Who strives to mount Parnassus' hill,
        And thence poetick laurels bring,
      Must first acquire due force and skill,
        Must fly with swan's or eagle's wing.
      Who Nature's treasures would explore,
        Her mysteries and arcana know;
      Must high as lofty Newton soar,
        Must stoop as delving Woodward low.
      Who studies ancient laws and rites,
        Tongues, arts, and arms, and history;
      Must drudge, like Selden, days and nights,
        And in the endless labour die.
      Who travels in religious jars,
        (Truth mixt with errour, shades with rays;)
      Like Whiston, wanting pyx or stars,
        In ocean wide or sinks or strays.
      But grant our hero's hope, long toil
        And comprehensive genius crown,
      All sciences, all arts his spoil,
        Yet what reward, or what renown?
      Envy, innate in vulgar souls,
        Envy steps in and stops his rise,
      Envy with poison'd tarnish fouls
        His lustre, and his worth decries.
      He lives inglorious or in want,
        To college and old books confin'd;
      Instead of learn'd he's call'd pedant,
        Dunces advanc'd, he's left behind:
      Yet left content a genuine Stoick he,
      Great without patron, rich without South Sea.' BOSWELL.

In Mr. Croker's octavo editions, arts in the fifth stanza is changed into hearts. J. Boswell, jun., gives the following reading of the first four lines of the last stanza, not from Dodsley's Collection, but from an earlier one, called The Grove.

     'Inglorious or by wants inthralled,
        To college and old books confined,
      A pedant from his learning called,
        Dunces advanced, he's left behind.'

[80] Bentley, in the preface to his edition of Paradise Lost, says:—

     'Sunt et mihi carmina; me quoque dicunt
      Vatem pastores: sed non ego credulus illis.'

[81] The difference between Johnson and Smith is apparent even in this slight instance. Smith was a man of extraordinary application, and had his mind crowded with all manner of subjects; but the force, acuteness, and vivacity of Johnson were not to be found there. He had book-making so much in his thoughts, and was so chary of what might be turned to account in that way, that he once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that he made it a rule, when in company, never to talk of what he understood. Beauclerk had for a short time a pretty high opinion of Smith's conversation. Garrick, after listening to him for a while, as to one of whom his expectations had been raised, turned slyly to a friend, and whispered him, 'What say you to this?—eh? flabby, I think.' BOSWELL. Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 279), says:—'Smith's voice was harsh and enunciation thick, approaching to stammering. His conversation was not colloquial, but like lecturing. He was the most absent man in company that I ever saw, moving his lips, and talking to himself, and smiling in the midst of large companies. If you awaked him from his reverie and made him attend to the subject of conversation, he immediately began a harangue, and never stopped till he told you all he knew about it, with the utmost philosophical ingenuity.' Dugald Stewart (Life of Adam Smith, p. 117) says that 'his consciousness of his tendency to absence rendered his manner somewhat embarrassed in the company of strangers.' But 'to his intimate friends, his peculiarities added an inexpressible charm to his conversation, while they displayed in the most interesting light the artless simplicity of his heart.' Ib. p. 113. See also Walpole's Letters, vi. 302, and ante, ii. 430, note 1.

[82] Garrick himself was a good deal of an infidel: see ante, ii. 85, note 7.

[83] Ante, i. 181.

[84] The Tempest, act iv. sc. i. In The Rambler, No. 127, Johnson writes of men who have 'borne opposition down before them, and left emulation panting behind.' He quotes (Works, vii. 261) the following couplet by Dryden:—

     'Fate after him below with pain did move,
      And victory could scarce keep pace above.'

Young in The Last Day, book I, had written:—

     'Words all in vain pant after the distress.'

[85] I am sorry to see in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. ii, An Essay on the Character of Hamlet, written, I should suppose, by a very young man, though called 'Reverend;' who speaks with presumptuous petulance of the first literary character of his age. Amidst a cloudy confusion of words, (which hath of late too often passed in Scotland for Metaphysicks,) he thus ventures to criticise one of the noblest lines in our language:—'Dr. Johnson has remarked, that "time toil'd after him in vain." But I should apprehend, that this is entirely to mistake the character. Time toils after every great man, as well after Shakspeare. The workings of an ordinary mind keep pace, indeed, with time; they move no faster; they have their beginning, their middle, and their end; but superiour natures can reduce these into a point. They do not, indeed, suppress them; but they suspend, or they lock them up in the breast.' The learned Society, under whose sanction such gabble is ushered into the world, would do well to offer a premium to any one who will discover its meaning. BOSWELL.

[86] 'May 29, 1662. Took boat and to Fox-hall, where I had not been a great while. To the old Spring Garden, and there walked long.' Pepys's Diary, i. 361. The place was afterwards known as Faux-hall and Vauxhall. See ante, iii. 308.

[87] 'One that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar.' King Lear, act ii. sc. 2.

[88] Yet W.G. Hamilton said:—'Burke understands everything but gaming and music. In the House of Commons I sometimes think him only the second man in England; out of it he is always the first.' Prior's Burke, p. 484. See ante, ii. 450. Bismarck once 'rang the bell' to old Prince Metternich. 'I listened quietly,' he said, 'to all his stories, merely jogging the bell every now and then till it rang again. That pleases these talkative old men.' DR. BUSCH, quoted in Lowe's Prince Bismarck, i. 130.

[89] See ante, i. 470, for his disapproval of 'studied behaviour.'

[90] Johnson had perhaps Dr. Warton in mind. Ante, ii. 41, note 1.

[91] See ante, i. 471, and iii. 165.

[92] 'Oblivion is a kind of annihilation.' Sir Thomas Browne's Christian Morals, sect. xxi.

[93] 'Nec te quaesiveris extra.' Persius, Sat. i. 7. We may compare Milton's line,

     'In himself was all his state.'
      Paradise Lost, v. 353.

[94] See ante, iii. 269.

[95] 'A work of this kind must, in a minute examination, discover many imperfections; but West's version, so far as I have considered it, appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.' Johnson's Works, viii. 398.

[96] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 25, 1773.

[97] See ante, i. 82, and ii. 228.

[98] See ante, i. 242.

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

[100] A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristick anecdote of Richardson. One day at his country-house at Northend, where a large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very flattering circumstance,—that he had seen his Clarissa lying on the King's brother's table. Richardson observing that part of the company were engaged in talking to each other, affected then not to attend to it. But by and by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman, 'I think, Sir, you were saying something about,—' pausing in a high flutter of expectation. The gentleman provoked at his inordinate vanity, resolved not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of indifference answered, 'A mere trifle Sir, not worth repeating.' The mortification of Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words more the whole day. Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy it much. BOSWELL.

     'E'en in a bishop I can spy desert;
      Seeker is decent, Rundel has a heart.'

Pope, Epil. to Sat. ii. 70. Horace Walpole wrote on Aug. 4,1768 (Letters, v. 115):—'We have lost our Pope. Canterbury [Archbishop Seeker] died yesterday. He had never been a Papist, but almost everything else. Our Churchmen will not be Catholics; that stock seems quite fallen.'

[102] Perhaps the Earl of Corke. Ante, iii. 183.

[103] Garrick perhaps borrowed this saying when, in his epigram on Goldsmith, speaking of the ideas of which his head was full, he said:—

     'When his mouth opened all were in a pother,
      Rushed to the door and tumbled o'er each other,
      But rallying soon with all their force again,
      In bright array they issued from his pen.'

Fitzgerald's Garrick, ii. 363. See ante, ii. 231.

[104] See ante, i. 116, and ii. 52.

[105] Horace Walpole (Letters, ix. 318) writes of Boswell's Life of Johnson:—'Dr. Blagden says justly, that it is a new kind of libel, by which you may abuse anybody, by saying some dead person said so and so of somebody alive.'

[106] See ante, ii. III. In the Gent. Mag. 1770, p. 78, is a review of A Letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D., 'that is generally imputed to Mr. Wilkes.'

[107] 'Do you conceive the full force of the word CONSTITUENT? It has the same relation to the House of Commons as Creator to creature.' A Letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D., p. 23.

[108] His profound admiration of the GREAT FIRST CAUSE was such as to set him above that 'Philosophy and vain deceit' [Colossians, ii. 8] with which men of narrower conceptions have been infected. I have heard him strongly maintain that 'what is right is not so from any natural fitness, but because GOD wills it to be right;' and it is certainly so, because he has predisposed the relations of things so as that which he wills must be right. BOSWELL. Johnson was as much opposed as the Rev. Mr. Thwackum to the philosopher Square, who 'measured all actions by the unalterable rule of right and the eternal fitness of things.' Tom Jones, book iii. ch. 3.

[109] In Rasselas (ch. ii.) we read that the prince's look 'discovered him to receive some solace of the miseries of life, from consciousness of the delicacy with which he felt, and the eloquence with which he bewailed them.' See ante, April 8, 1780.

[110] I hope the authority of the great Master of our language will stop that curtailing innovation, by which we see critic, public, &c., frequently written instead of critick, publick, &c. BOSWELL. Boswell had always been nice in his spelling. In the Preface to his Corsica, published twenty-four years before The Life of Johnson, he defends his peculiarities, and says:—'If this work should at any future period be reprinted, I hope that care will be taken of my orthography.' Mr. Croker says that in a memorandum in Johnson's writing he has found 'cubic feet.'

[111] 'Disorders of intellect,' answered Imlac, 'happen much more often than superficial observers will easily believe. Perhaps, if we speak with rigorous exactness, no human mind is in its right state.' Rasselas, ch. 44.

[112] See ante, i. 397, for Kit Smart's madness in praying.

[113] Yet he gave lessons in Latin to Miss Burney and Miss Thrale. Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 243. In Skye he said, 'Depend upon it, no woman is the worse for sense and knowledge.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 19.

[114] See ante, iii, 240.

[115] Nos. 588, 601, 626 and 635. The first number of the Spectator was written by Addison, the last by Grove. See ante, iii. 33, for Johnson's praise of No. 626.

[116] Sterne is of a direct contrary opinion. See his Sentimental Journey, Article, 'The Mystery.' BOSWELL. Sterne had been of the same opinion as Johnson, for he says that the beggar he saw 'confounded all kind of reasoning upon him.' 'He passed by me,' he continues, 'without asking anything—and yet he did not go five steps farther before he asked charity of a little woman—I was much more likely to have given of the two. He had scarce done with the woman, when he pulled his hat off to another who was coming the same way.—An ancient gentleman came slowly—and, after him, a young smart one—He let them both pass, and asked nothing; I stood observing him half an hour, in which time he had made a dozen turns backwards and forwards, and found that he invariably pursued the same plan.' Sentimental Journey, ed. 1775, ii. 105.

[117] Very likely Dr. Warton. Ante, ii. 41.

[118] I differ from Mr. Croker in the explanation of this ill-turned sentence. The shield that Homer may hold up is the observation made by Mrs. Fitzherbert. It was this observation that Johnson respected as a very fine one. For his high opinion of that lady's understanding, see ante, i. 83.

[119] In Boswelliana (p. 323) are recorded two more of Langton's Anecdotes. 'Mr. Beauclerk told Dr. Johnson that Dr. James said to him he knew more Greek than Mr. Walmesley. "Sir," said he, "Dr. James did not know enough of Greek to be sensible of his ignorance of the language. Walmesley did."' See ante, i. 81. 'A certain young clergyman used to come about Dr. Johnson. The Doctor said it vexed him to be in his company, his ignorance was so hopeless. "Sir," said Mr. Langton, "his coming about you shows he wishes to help his ignorance." "Sir," said the Doctor, "his ignorance is so great, I am afraid to show him the bottom of it."'

[120] Dr. Francklin. See ante, iii. 83, note 3. Churchill attacked him in The Rosciad (Poems, ii. 4). When, he says, it came to the choice of a judge,

     'Others for Francklin voted; but 'twas known,
      He sickened at all triumphs but his own.'

[121] See ante, iii. 241, note 2.

[122] Pr. and Med. p.190. BOSWELL.

[123] Ib. 174. BOSWELL.

[124] 'Mr. Fowke once observed to Dr. Johnson that, in his opinion, the Doctor's literary strength lay in writing biography, in which he infinitely exceeded all his contemporaries. "Sir," said Johnson, "I believe that is true. The dogs don't know how to write trifles with dignity."'—R. Warner's Original Letters, p. 204.

[125] His design is thus announced in his Advertisement: 'The Booksellers having determined to publish a body of English Poetry, I was persuaded to promise them a Preface to the works of each authour; an undertaking, as it was then presented to my mind, not very tedious or difficult.

'My purpose was only to have allotted to every poet an Advertisement, like that [in original those] which we find in the French Miscellanies, containing a few dates, and a general character; but I have been led beyond my intention, I hope by the honest desire of giving useful pleasure.' BOSWELL.

[126] Institutiones, liber i, Prooemium 3.

[127] 'He had bargained for two hundred guineas, and the booksellers spontaneously added a third hundred; on this occasion Dr. Johnson observed to me, "Sir, I always said the booksellers were a generous set of men. Nor, in the present instance, have I reason to complain. The fact is, not that they have paid me too little, but that I have written too much." The Lives were soon published in a separate edition; when, for a very few corrections, he was presented with another hundred guineas.' Nichols's Lit. Anec. viii. 416. See ante, iii. 111. In Mr. Morrison's Collection of Autographs &c., vol. ii, 'is Johnson's receipt for 100l., from the proprietors of The Lives of the Poets for revising the last edition of that work.' It is dated Feb. 19, 1783. 'Underneath, in Johnson's autograph, are these words: "It is great impudence to put Johnson's Poets on the back of books which Johnson neither recommended nor revised. He recommended only Blackmore on the Creation, and Watts. How then are they Johnson's? This is indecent."' The poets whom Johnson recommended were Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden. Ante, under Dec. 29, 1778.

[128] Gibbon says of the last five quartos of the six that formed his History:—'My first rough manuscript, without any intermediate copy, has been sent to the press.' Misc. Works, i. 255. In the Memoir of Goldsmith, prefixed to his Misc. Works, i. 113, it is said:—'In whole quires of his Histories, Animated Nature, &c., he had seldom occasion to correct or alter a single word.' See ante, i. 203.

[129] From Waller's Of Loving at First Sight. Waller's Poems, Miscellanies, xxxiv.

[130] He trusted greatly to his memory. If it did not retain anything exactly, he did not think himself bound to look it up. Thus in his criticism on Congreve (Works, viii. 31) he says:—'Of his plays I cannot speak distinctly; for since I inspected them many years have passed.' In a note on his Life of Rowe, Nichols says:—'This Life is a very remarkable instance of the uncommon strength of Dr. Johnson's memory. When I received from him the MS. he complacently observed that the criticism was tolerably well done, considering that he had not read one of Rowe's plays for thirty years.' Ib. vii. 417.

[131] Thus:—'In the Life of Waller, Mr. Nichols will find a reference to the Parliamentary History from which a long quotation is to be inserted. If Mr. Nichols cannot easily find the book, Mr. Johnson will send it from Streatham.'

'Clarendon is here returned.'

'By some accident, I laid your note upon Duke up so safely, that I cannot find it. Your informations have been of great use to me. I must beg it again; with another list of our authors, for I have laid that with the other. I have sent Stepney's Epitaph. Let me have the revises as soon as can be. Dec. 1778.'

'I have sent Philips, with his Epitaphs, to be inserted. The fragment of a preface is hardly worth the impression, but that we may seem to do something. It may be added to the Life of Philips. The Latin page is to be added to the Life of Smith. I shall be at home to revise the two sheets of Milton. March 1, 1779.'

'Please to get me the last edition of Hughes's Letters; and try to get Dennis upon Blackmore, and upon Calo, and any thing of the same writer against Pope. Our materials are defective.'

'As Waller professed to have imitated Fairfax, do you think a few pages of Fairfax would enrich our edition? Few readers have seen it, and it may please them. But it is not necessary.'

'An account of the Lives and works of some of the most eminent English Poets. By, &c.—"The English Poets, biographically and critically considered, by SAM. JOHNSON."—Let Mr. Nichols take his choice, or make another to his mind. May, 1781.'

'You somehow forgot the advertisement for the new edition. It was not inclosed. Of Gay's Letters I see not that any use can be made, for they give no information of any thing. That he was a member of the Philosophical Society is something; but surely he could be but a corresponding member. However, not having his life here, I know not how to put it in, and it is of little importance.'

See several more in The Gent. Mag., 1785. The Editor of that Miscellany, in which Johnson wrote for several years, seems justly to think that every fragment of so great a man is worthy of being preserved. BOSWELL. In the original MS. in the British Museum, Your in the third paragraph of this note is not in italics. Johnson writes his correspondent's name Nichols, Nichol, and Nicol. In the fourth paragraph he writes, first Philips, and next Phillips. His spelling was sometimes careless, ante, i. 260, note 2. In the Gent. Mag. for 1785, p. 10, another of these notes is published:—'In reading Rowe in your edition, which is very impudently called mine, I observed a little piece unnaturally and odiously obscene. I was offended, but was still more offended when I could not find it in Rowe's genuine volumes. To admit it had been wrong; to interpolate it is surely worse. If I had known of such a piece in the whole collection, I should have been angry. What can be done?' In a note, Mr. Nichols says that this piece 'has not only appeared in the Works of Rowe, but has been transplanted by Pope into the Miscellanies he published in his own name and that of Dean Swift.'

[132] He published, in 1782, a revised edition of Baker's Biographia Dramatica. Baker was a grandson of De Foe. Gent. Mag. 1782, p. 77.

[133] Dryden writing of satiric poetry, says:—'Had I time I could enlarge on the beautiful turns of words and thoughts, which are as requisite in this as in heroic poetry itself; of which the satire is undoubtedly a species. With these beautiful turns I confess myself to have been unacquainted, till about twenty years ago, in a conversation which I had with that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he asked me why I did not imitate in my verses the turns of Mr. Waller, and Sir John Denham. ... This hint, thus seasonably given me, first made me sensible of my own wants, and brought me afterwards to seek for the supply of them in other English authors. I looked over the darling of my youth, the famous Cowley.' Dryden's Works, ed. 1821, xiii. III.

[134] In one of his letters to Nichols, Johnson says:—'You have now all Cowley. I have been drawn to a great length, but Cowley or Waller never had any critical examination before.' Gent. Mag. 1785, p.9.

[135] Life of Sheffield. BOSWELL. Johnson's Works, vii. 485.

[136] See, however, p.11 of this volume, where the same remark is made and Johnson is there speaking of prose. MALONE.

     'Purpureus, late qui splendeat unus et alter
      Assuitur pannus.'
     '... Shreds of purple with broad lustre shine
     Sewed on your poem.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Ars Poet. 15.

[138] The original reading is enclosed in crochets, and the present one is printed in Italicks. BOSWELL.

[139] I have noticed a few words which, to our ears, are more uncommon than at least two of the three that Boswell mentions; as, 'Languages divaricate,' Works, vii. 309; 'The mellifluence of Pope's numbers,' ib. 337; 'A subject flux and transitory,' ib. 389; 'His prose is pure without scrupulosity,' ib. 472; 'He received and accommodated the ladies' (said of one serving behind the counter), ib. viii. 62; 'The prevalence of this poem was gradual,' ib. p. 276; 'His style is sometimes concatenated,' ib. p. 458. Boswell, on the next page, supplies one more instance—'Images such as the superficies of nature readily supplies.'

[140] See ante, iii. 249.

[141] Veracious is perhaps one of the 'four or five words' which Johnson added, or thought that he added, to the English language. Ante, i. 221. He gives it in his Dictionary, but without any authority for it. It is however older than his time.

[142] See Johnson's Works, vii. 134, 212, and viii. 386.

[143] Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 452) writes of Johnson's 'Billingsgate on Milton.' A later letter shows that, like so many of Johnson's critics, he had not read the Life. Ib. p. 508.

[144] Works, vii. 108.

[145] Thirty years earlier he had written of Milton as 'that poet whose works may possibly be read when every other monument of British greatness shall be obliterated.' Ante, i. 230. See ante, ii. 239.

[146] Earl Stanhope (Life of Pitt, ii. 65) describes this Society in 1790, 'as a Club, till then of little note, which had a yearly festival in commemoration of the events of 1688. It had been new-modelled, and enlarged with a view to the transactions at Paris, but still retained its former name to imply a close connection between the principles of 1688 in England, and the principles of 1789 in France.' The Earl Stanhope of that day presided at the anniversary meeting on Nov. 4, 1789. Nov. 4 was the day on which William III. landed.

[147] See An Essay on the Life, Character, and writings of Dr. Samuel Johnson, London, 1787; which is very well written, making a proper allowance for the democratical bigotry of its authour; whom I cannot however but admire for his liberality in speaking thus of my illustrious friend:—

'He possessed extraordinary powers of understanding, which were much cultivated by study, and still more by meditation and reflection. His memory was remarkably retentive, his imagination uncommonly vigorous, and his judgement keen and penetrating. He had a strong sense of the importance of religion; his piety was sincere, and sometimes ardent; and his zeal for the interests of virtue was often manifested in his conversation and in his writings. The same energy which was displayed in his literary productions was exhibited also in his conversation, which was various, striking, and instructive; and perhaps no man ever equalled him for nervous and pointed repartees.'

'His Dictionary, his moral Essays, and his productions in polite literature, will convey useful instruction, and elegant entertainment, as long as the language in which they are written shall be understood.' BOSWELL.

[148] Boswell paraphrases the following passage:—'The King, with lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs; and promised to admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the Parliament should except; and the Parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately co-operated in the murder of the King. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they had done.' Johnson's Works, vii. 95.

     'Though fall'n on evil days,
      On evil days though fall'n and evil tongues,
      In darkness, and with dangers compast round.'
                Paradise Lost, vii. 26.

[150] Johnson's Works, vii. 105.

[151] 'His political notions were those of an acrimonious and surly republican.' Ib. p. 116.

[152] 'What we know of Milton's character in domestick relations is, that he was severe and arbitrary.' Ib. p. 116.

[153] 'His theological opinions are said to have been first, Calvinistical; and afterwards, perhaps when he began to hate the Presbyterians, to have tended towards Arminianism.... He appears to have been untainted by any heretical peculiarity of opinion.' Ib. p. 115.

[154] Mr. Malone things it is rather a proof that he felt nothing of those cheerful sensations which he has described: that on these topicks it is the poet, and not the man, that writes. BOSWELL.

[155] See ante, i. 427, ii. 124, and iv. 20, for Johnson's condemnation of blank verse. This condemnations was not universal. Of Dryden, he wrote (Works, vii. 249):—'He made rhyming tragedies, till, by the prevalence of manifest propriety, he seems to have grown ashamed of making them any longer.' His own Irene is in blank verse; though Macaulay justly remarks of it:—'He had not the slightest notion of what blank verse should be.' (Macaulay's Writings and Speeches, ed. 1871, p. 380.) Of Thomson's Seasons, he says (Works, vii. 377):—'His is one of the works in which blank verse seems properly used.' Of Young's Night Thoughts:—'This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage.' Ib. p. 460. Of Milton himself, he writes:—'Whatever be the advantages of rhyme, I cannot prevail on myself to wish that Milton had been a rhymer; for I cannot wish his work to be other than it is; yet, like other heroes, he is to be admired rather than imitated.' Ib. vii. 142. How much he felt the power of Milton's blank verse is shewn by his Rambler, No. 90, where, after stating that 'the noblest and most majestick pauses which our versification admits are upon the fourth and sixth syllables,' he adds:—' Some passages [in Milton] which conclude at this stop [the sixth syllable] I could never read without some strong emotions of delight or admiration.' 'If,' he continues, 'the poetry of Milton be examined with regard to the pauses and flow of his verses into each other, it will appear that he has performed all that our language would admit.' Cowper was so indignant at Johnson's criticism of Milton's blank verse that he wrote:—'Oh! I could thresh his old jacket till I made his pension jingle in his pocket.' Southey's Cowper, iii. 315.

[156] One of the most natural instances of the effect of blank verse occurred to the late Earl of Hopeton. His Lordship observed one of his shepherds poring in the fields upon Milton's Paradise Lost; and having asked him what book it was, the man answered, 'An't please your Lordship, this is a very odd sort of an authour: he would fain rhyme, but cannot get at it.' BOSWELL. 'The variety of pauses, so much boasted by the lovers of blank verse, changes the measures of an English poet to the periods of a declaimer; and there are only a few skilful and happy readers of Milton, who enable their audience to perceive where the lines end or begin. "Blank verse," said an ingenious critick, "seems to be verse only to the eye."' Johnson's Works, vii. 141. In the Life of Roscommon (ib. p. 171), he says:—'A poem frigidly didactick, without rhyme, is so near to prose, that the reader only scorns it for pretending to be verse.'

[157] Mr. Locke. Often mentioned in Mme. D'Arblay's Diary.

[158] See vol. in. page 71. BOSWELL.

[159] It is scarcely a defence. Whatever it was, he thus ends it:-'It is natural to hope, that a comprehensive is likewise an elevated soul, and that whoever is wise is also honest. I am willing to believe that Dryden, having employed his mind, active as it was, upon different studies, and filled it, capacious as it was, with other materials, came unprovided to the controversy, and wanted rather skill to discover the right than virtue to maintain it. But inquiries into the heart are not for man; we must now leave him to his judge.' Works, vii. 279.

[160] In the original fright. The Hind and the Panther, i. 79.

[161] In this quotation two passages are joined. Works, vii. 339, 340.

[162] 'The deep and pathetic morality of the Vanity of Human Wishes' says Sir Walter Scott, 'has often extracted tears from those whose eyes wander dry over the pages of professed sentimentality.' CROKER. It. drew tears from Johnson himself. 'When,' says Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 50), 'he read his own satire, in which the life of a scholar is painted, he burst into a passion of tears. The family and Mr. Scott only were present, who, in a jocose way, clapped him on the back, and said:—"What's all this, my dear Sir? Why you, and I, and Hercules, you know, were all troubled with melancholy." He was a very large man, and made out the triumvirate with Johnson and Hercules comically enough. The Doctor was so delighted at his odd sally, that he suddenly embraced him, and the subject was immediately changed.'

[163] In Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature, ed. 1834, iv. 180, is given 'a memorandum of Dr. Johnson's of hints for the Life of Pope.'

[164] Works, viii. 345.

[165] 'Of the last editor [Warburton] it is more difficult to speak. Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living reputation, and veneration to genius and learning; but he cannot be justly offended at that liberty of which he has himself so frequently given an example, nor very solicitous what is thought of notes which he ought never to have considered as part of his serious employments.' Works, v. 140. See post, June 10,1784.

[166] The liberality is certainly measured. With much praise there is much censure. Works, viii. 288. See ante, ii. 36, and Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 23.

[167] Of Johnson's conduct towards Warburton, a very honourable notice is taken by the editor of Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian, not admitted into the Collection of their respective Works. After an able and 'fond, though not undistinguishing,' consideration of Warburton's character, he says, 'In two immortal works, Johnson has stood forth in the foremost rank of his admirers. By the testimony of such a man, impertinence must be abashed, and malignity itself must be softened. Of literary merit, Johnson, as we all know, was a sagacious but a most severe judge. Such was his discernment, that he pierced into the most secret springs of human actions; and such was his integrity, that he always weighed the moral characters of his fellow-creatures in the "balance of the sanctuary." He was too courageous to propitiate a rival, and too proud to truckle to a superiour. Warburton he knew, as I know him, and as every man of sense and virtue would wish to be known,—I mean, both from his own writings, and from the writings of those who dissented from his principles, or who envied his reputation. But, as to favours, he had never received or asked any from the Bishop of Gloucester; and, if my memory fails me not, he had seen him only once, when they met almost without design, conversed without much effort, and parted without any lasting impressions of hatred or affection. Yet, with all the ardour of sympathetic genius, Johnson has done that spontaneously and ably, which, by some writers, had been before attempted injudiciously, and which, by others, from whom more successful attempts might have been expected, has not hitherto been done at all. He spoke well of Warburton, without insulting those whom Warburton despised. He suppressed not the imperfections of this extraordinary man, while he endeavoured to do justice to his numerous and transcendental excellencies. He defended him when living, amidst the clamours of his enemies; and praised him when dead, amidst the silence of his friends.'

Having availed myself of this editor's eulogy on my departed friend, for which I warmly thank him, let me not suffer the lustre of his reputation, honestly acquired by profound learning and vigorous eloquence, to be tarnished by a charge of illiberality. He has been accused of invidiously dragging again into light certain writings of a person respectable by his talents, his learning, his station and his age, which were published a great many years ago, and have since, it is said, been silently given up by their authour. But when it is considered that these writings were not sins of youth, but deliberate works of one well-advanced in life, overflowing at once with flattery to a great man of great interest in the Church, and with unjust and acrimonious abuse of two men of eminent merit; and that, though it would have been unreasonable to expect an humiliating recantation, no apology whatever has been made in the cool of the evening, for the oppressive fervour of the heat of the day; no slight relenting indication has appeared in any note, or any corner of later publications; is it not fair to understand him as superciliously persevering? When he allows the shafts to remain in the wounds, and will not stretch forth a lenient hand, is it wrong, is it not generous to become an indignant avenger? BOSWELL. Boswell wrote on Feb. 16, 1789:—'There is just come out a publication which makes a considerable noise. The celebrated Dr. Parr, of Norwich, has—wickedly, shall we say?—but surely wantonly—published Warburton's Juvenile Translations and Discourse on Prodigies, and Bishop Kurd's attacks on Jortin and Dr. Thomas Leland, with his Essay on the Delicacy of Friendship.' Letters of Boswell, p. 275. The 'editor,' therefore, is Parr, and the 'Warburtonian' is Hurd. Boswell had written to Parr on Jan. 10, 1791:—'I request to hear by return of post if I may say or guess that Dr. Parr is the editor of these tracts.' Parr's Works, viii. 12. See also ib. iii. 405.

[168] In Johnson's Works (1787), xi. 213, it is said, that this meeting was 'at the Bishop of St. ——'s [Asaph's]. Boswell, by his 'careful enquiry,' no doubt meant to show that this statement was wrong. Johnson is reported to have said:—' Dr. Warburton at first looked surlily at me; but after we had been jostled into conversation he took me to a window, asked me some questions, and before we parted was so well pleased with me that he patted me.'

[169] 'Warburton's style is copious without selection, and forcible without neatness; he took the words that presented themselves; his diction is coarse and impure; and his sentences are unmeasured.' Johnson's Works, viii. 288.

[170] Churchill, in The Duellist (Poems ed. 1766, ii. 85), describes Warburton as having

     'A heart, which virtue ne'er disgraced;
      A head where learning runs to waste.'

[171] Works, viii. 230.

[172] 'I never,' writes Mrs. Piozzi, 'heard Johnson pronounce the words, "I beg your pardon, Sir," to any human creature but the apparently soft and gentle Dr. Burney.' Burney had asked her whether she had subscribed £100 to building a bridge. '"It is very comical, is it not, Sir?" said I, turning to Dr. Johnson, "that people should tell such unfounded stories." "It is," answered he, "neither comical nor serious, my dear; it is only a wandering lie." This was spoken in his natural voice, without a thought of offence, I am confident; but up bounced Burney in a towering passion, and to my much amaze put on the hero, surprising Dr. Johnson into a sudden request for pardon, and protestation of not having ever intended to accuse his friend of a falsehood.' Hayward's Piozzi, i. 312.

[173] In the original, 'nor.' Works, viii. 311.

[174] In the original, 'either wise or merry.'

[175] In the original, 'stands upon record'.

[176] Works, viii. 316. Surely the words 'had not much to say' imply that Johnson had heard the answer, but thought little of its wit. According to Mr. Croker, the repartee is given in Ruffhead's Life of Pope, and this book Johnson had seen. Ante, ii. 166.

[177] Let me here express my grateful remembrance of Lord Somerville's kindness to me, at a very early period. He was the first person of high rank that took particular notice of me in the way most flattering to a young man, fondly ambitious of being distinguished for his literary talents; and by the honour of his encouragement made me think well of myself, and aspire to deserve it better. He had a happy art of communicating his varied knowledge of the world, in short remarks and anecdotes, with a quiet pleasant gravity, that was exceedingly engaging. Never shall I forget the hours which I enjoyed with him at his apartments in the Royal Palace of Holy-Rood House, and at his seat near Edinburgh, which he himself had formed with an elegant taste. BOSWELL.

[178] Ante, iii. 392.

[179] Boswell, I think, misunderstands Johnson. Johnson said (Works, viii. 313) that 'Pope's admiration of the Great seems to have increased in the advance of life.' His Iliad he had dedicated to Congreve, but 'to his latter works he took care to annex names dignified with titles, but was not very happy in his choice; for, except Lord Bathurst, none of his noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his intimacy with them known to posterity; he can derive little honour from the notice of Cobham, Burlington, or Bolingbroke.' Johnson, it seems clear, is speaking, not of the noblemen whom Pope knew in general, but of those to whom he dedicated any of his works. Among them Lord Marchmont is not found, so that on him no slight is cast.

[180] Neither does Johnson actually say that Lord Marchmont had 'any concern,' though perhaps he implies it. He writes:—'Pope left the care of his papers to his executors; first to Lord Bolingbroke; and, if he should not be living, to the Earl of Marchmont: undoubtedly expecting them to be proud of the trust, and eager to extend his fame. But let no man dream of influence beyond his life. After a decent time, Dodsley the bookseller went to solicit preference as the publisher, and was told that the parcel had not been yet inspected; and, whatever was the reason, the world has been disappointed of what was "reserved for the next age."' Ib. p. 306. As Bolingbroke outlived Pope by more than seven years, it is clear, from what Johnson states, that he alone had the care of the papers, and that he gave the answer to Dodsley. Marchmont, however, knew the contents of the papers. Ib. p. 319.

[181] This neglect did not arise from any ill-will towards Lord Marchmont, but from inattention; just as he neglected to correct his statement concerning the family of Thomson the poet, after it had been shewn to be erroneous (ante, in. 359). MALONE.

[182] Works, vii. 420.

[183] Benjamin Victor published in 1722, a Letter to Steele, and in 1776, Letters, Dramatic Pieces, and Poems Brit. Mus. Catalogue.

[184] Mr. Wilks. See ante, i. 167, note 1.

[185] See post, p. 91 and Macaulay's Essay on Addison (ed. 1974, iv.


[186] 'A better and more Christian man scarcely ever breathed than Joseph Addison. If he had not that little weakness for wine—why we could scarcely have found a fault with him, and could not have liked him as we do.' Thackery's English Humourists, ed. 1858, p. 94.

[187] See ante, i. 30, and iii. 155.

[188] See post, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[189] Parnell 'drank to excess.' Ante, iii. 155.

[190] I should have thought that Johnson, who had felt the severe affliction from which Parnell never recovered, would have preserved this passage. BOSWELL.

[191] Mrs. Thrale wrote to Johnson in May, 1780:-'Blackmore will be rescued from the old wits who worried him much to your disliking; so, a little for love of his Christianity, a little for love of his physic, a little for love of his courage—and a little for love of contradiction, you will save him from his malevolent critics, and perhaps do him the honour to devour him yourself.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 122. See ante, ii. 107.

[192] 'This is a tribute which a painter owes to an architect who composed like a painter; and was defrauded of the due reward of his merit by the wits of his time, who did not understand the principles of composition in poetry better than he did; and who knew little, or nothing, of what he understood perfectly, the general ruling principles of architecture and painting.' Reynolds's Thirteenth Discourse.

[193] Johnson had not wished to write Lyttelton's Life. He wrote to Lord Westcote, Lyttelton's brother, 'My desire is to avoid offence, and be totally out of danger. I take the liberty of proposing to your lordship, that the historical account should be written under your direction by any friend you may be willing to employ, and I will only take upon myself to examine the poetry.'—Croker's Boswell, p.650.

[194] It was not Molly Aston (ante i. 83) but Miss Hill Boothby (ib.) of whom Mrs. Thrale wrote. She says (Anec. p.160):—'Such was the purity of her mind, Johnson said, and such the graces of her manner, that Lord Lyttelton and he used to strive for her preference with an emulation that occasioned hourly disgust, and ended in lasting animosity.' There is surely much exaggeration in this account.

[195] Let not my readers smile to think of Johnson's being a candidate for female favour; Mr. Peter Garrick assured me, that he was told by a lady, that in her opinion Johnson was 'a very seducing man.' Disadvantages of person and manner may be forgotten, where intellectual pleasure is communicated to a susceptible mind; and that Johnson was capable of feeling the most delicate and disinterested attachment, appears from the following letter, which is published by Mrs. Thrale [Piozzi Letters, ii. 391], with some others to the same person, of which the excellence is not so apparent:—

'TO MISS BOOTHBY. January, 1755.


Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my congratulations on the new year; and to declare my wishes that your years to come may be many and happy. In this wish, indeed, I include myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes; yet surely I wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest, dearest Madam, Your, &c. SAM JOHNSON.' (BOSWELL.)

[196] Horace, Odes, iv. 3.2, quoted also ante, i.352, note.

[197] The passage which Boswell quotes in part is as follows:—'When they were first published they were kindly commended by the Critical Reviewers; [i.e. the writers in the Critical Review. In some of the later editions of Boswell these words have been printed, critical reviewers; so as to include all the reviewers who criticised the work]; and poor Lyttelton, with humble gratitude, returned, in a note which I have read, acknowledgements which can never be proper, since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice.' Works, viii.491. Boswell forgets that what may be proper in one is improper in another. Lyttelton, when he wrote this note, had long been a man of high position. He had 'stood in the first rank of opposition,' he had been Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when he lost his post, he had been 'recompensed with a peerage.' See ante, ii. 126.

[198] See post, June 12 and 15, 1784.

[199] He adopted it from indolence. Writing on Aug. 1, 1780, after mentioning the failure of his application to Lord Westcote, he continues:—'There is an ingenious scheme to save a day's work, or part of a day, utterly defeated. Then what avails it to be wise? The plain and the artful man must both do their own work.—But I think I have got a life of Dr. Young.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 173.

[200] Gent. Mag. vol. lv. p. 10. BOSWELL.

[201] By a letter to Johnson from Croft, published in the later editions of the Lives, it seems that Johnson only expunged one passage. Croft says:—'Though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you insisted on striking out one passage, because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long for your sake, I did for the sake of myself and the world.' Works viii.458.

[202] The Late Mr. Burke. MALONE.

[203] Seepost, June 2, 1781.

[204] Johnson's Works, viii 440.

[205] Ib. p.436

[206] 'Eheu! fugaces, Postume, Postume, Labuntur anni.' 'How swiftly glide our flying years!' FRANCIS. Horace, Odes, ii.14. i.

[207] The late Mr. James Ralph told Lord Macartney, that he passed an evening with Dr. Young at Lord Melcombe's (then Mr. Dodington) at Hammersmith. The Doctor happening to go out into the garden, Mr. Dodington observed to him, on his return, that it was a dreadful night, as in truth it was, there being a violent storm of rain and wind. 'No, Sir, (replied the Doctor) it is a very fine night. The LORD is abroad.' BOSWELL.

[208] See ante, ii.96, and iii.251; and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept.


[209] 'An ardent judge, who zealous in his trust, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just.' Pope's Essay on Criticism, l.677.

[210] Works, viii.459. Though the Life of Young is by Croft, yet the critical remarks are by Johnson.

[211] Ib. p.460.

[212] Johnson refers to Chambers's Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, which was ridiculed in the Heroic Epistle. See post, under May 8, 1781, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 13.

[213] Boswell refers to the death of Narcissa in the third of the Night Thoughts. While he was writing the Life of Johnson Mrs. Boswell was dying of consumption in (to quote Young's words)

     The rigid north,
     Her native bed, on which bleak
     Boreas blew.'

She died nearly two years before The Life was published.

[214] Proverbs, xviii.14.

[215] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 16.

[216] See vol. i. page 133. BOSWELL.

[217] 'In his economy Swift practised a peculiar and offensive parsimony, without disguise or apology. The practice of saving being once necessary, became habitual, and grew first ridiculous, and at last detestable. But his avarice, though it might exclude pleasure, was never suffered to encroach upon his virtue. He was frugal by inclination, but liberal by principle; and if the purpose to which he destined his little accumulations be remembered, with his distribution of occasional charity, it will perhaps appear, that he only liked one mode of expense better than another, and saved merely that he might have something to give.' Works, viii.222.

[218] Ib. p.225.

[219] Mr. Chalmers here records a curious literary anecdote—that when a new and enlarged edition of the Lives of the Poets was published in 1783, Mr. Nichols, in justice to the purchasers of the preceding editions, printed the additions in a separate pamphlet, and advertised that it might be had gratis. Not ten copies were called for. CROKER.

[220] See ante, p.9, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 15.

[221] Works, vii. Preface.

[222] From this disreputable class, I except an ingenious though not satisfactory defence of HAMMOND, which I did not see till lately, by the favour of its authour, my amiable friend, the Reverend Mr. Bevill, who published it without his name. It is a juvenile performance, but elegantly written, with classical enthusiasm of sentiment, and yet with a becoming modesty, and great respect for Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL.

[223] Before the Life of Lyttelton was published there was, it seems, some coolness between Mrs. Montagu and Johnson. Miss Burney records the following conversation in September 1778. 'Mark now,' said Dr. Johnson, 'if I contradict Mrs. Montagu to-morrow. I am determined, let her say what she will, that I will not contradict her.' MRS. THRALE. 'Why to be sure, Sir, you did put her a little out of countenance last time she came.'...DR. JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, I won't answer that I shan't contradict her again, if she provokes me as she did then; but a less provocation I will withstand. I believe I am not high in her good graces already; and I begin (added he, laughing heartily) to tremble for my admission into her new house. I doubt I shall never see the inside of it.' Yet when they met a few days later all seemed friendly. 'When Mrs. Montagu's new house was talked of, Dr. Johnson in a jocose manner, desired to know if he should be invited to see it. "Ay, sure," cried Mrs. Montagu, looking well pleased, "or else I shan't like it."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i.118, 126. 'Mrs. Montagu's dinners and assemblies,' writes Wraxall, 'were principally supported by, and they fell with, the giant talents of Johnson, who formed the nucleus round which all the subordinate members revolved.' Wraxall's Memoirs, ed. 1815, i.160.

[224] Described by the author as 'a body of original essays.' 'I consider The Observer,' he arrogantly continues, 'as fairly enrolled amongst the standard classics of our native language.' Cumberland's Memoirs, ii.199. In his account of this Feast of Reason he quite as much satirises Mrs. Montagu as praises her. He introduces Johnson in it, annoyed by an impertinent fellow, and saying to him:—'Have I said anything, good Sir, that you do not comprehend?' 'No, no,' replied he, 'I perfectly well comprehend every word you have been saying.' 'Do you so, Sir?' said the philosopher, 'then I heartily ask pardon of the company for misemploying their time so egregiously.' The Observer, No. 25.

[225] Miss Burney gives an account of an attack made by Johnson, at a dinner at Streatham, in June 1781, on Mr. Pepys (post, p. 82), 'one of Mrs. Montagu's steadiest abettors.' 'Never before,' she writes, 'have I seen Dr. Johnson speak with so much passion. "Mr. Pepys," he cried, in a voice the most enraged, "I understand you are offended by my Life of Lord Lyttelton. What is it you have to say against it? Come forth, man! Here am I, ready to answer any charge you can bring."' After the quarrel had been carried even into the drawing-room, Mrs. Thrale, 'with great spirit and dignity, said that she should be very glad to hear no more of it. Everybody was silenced, and Dr. Johnson, after a pause, said:—"Well, Madam, you shall hear no more of it; yet I will defend myself in every part and in every atom."... Thursday morning, Dr. Johnson went to town for some days, but not before Mrs. Thrale read him a very serious lecture upon giving way to such violence; which he bore with a patience and quietness that even more than made his peace with me.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 45. Two months later the quarrel was made up. 'Mr. Pepys had desired this meeting by way of a reconciliation; and Dr. Johnson now made amends for his former violence, as he advanced to him, as soon as he came in, and holding out his hand to him received him with a cordiality he had never shewn him before. Indeed he told me himself that he thought the better of Mr. Pepys for all that had passed.' Ib. p. 82. Miss Burney, in Dec. 1783, described the quarrel to Mr. Cambridge:—'"I never saw Dr. Johnson really in a passion but then; and dreadful indeed it was to see. I wished myself away a thousand times. It was a frightful scene. He so red, poor Mr. Pepys so pale." "It was behaving ill to Mrs. Thrale certainly to quarrel in her house." "Yes, but he never repeated it; though he wished of all things to have gone through just such another scene with Mrs. Montagu; and to refrain was an act of heroic forbearance. She came to Streatham one morning, and I saw he was dying to attack her." "And how did Mrs. Montagu herself behave?" Very stately, indeed, at first. She turned from him very stiffly, and with a most distant air, and without even courtesying to him, and with a firm intention to keep to what she had publicly declared—that she would never speak to him more. However, he went up to her himself, longing to begin, and very roughly said:—"Well, Madam, what's become of your fine new house? I hear no more of it." "But how did she bear this?" "Why, she was obliged to answer him; and she soon grew so frightened—as everybody does—that she was as civil as ever." He laughed heartily at this account. But I told him Dr. Johnson was now much softened. He had acquainted me, when I saw him last, that he had written to her upon the death of Mrs. Williams [see post, Sept. 18, 1783, note], because she had allowed her something yearly, which now ceased. "And I had a very kind answer from her," said he. "Well then, Sir," cried I, "I hope peace now will be again proclaimed." "Why, I am now," said he, "come to that time when I wish all bitterness and animosity to be at an end."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 290.

[226] January, 1791. BOSWELL. Hastings's trial had been dragging on for more than three years when The Life of Johnson was published. It began in 1788, and ended in 1795.

[227] Gent. Mag. for 1785, p. 412.

[228] Afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of his Majesty's Judges in India. BOSWELL. See ante, i.274.

[229] 'He conceived that the cultivation of Persian literature might with advantage be made a part of the liberal education of an English gentleman; and he drew up a plan with that view. It is said that the University of Oxford, in which Oriental learning had never, since the revival of letters, been wholly neglected, was to be the seat of the institution which he contemplated.' Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843, iii. 338.

[230] Lord North's. Feeble though it was, it lasted eight years longer.

[231] Jones's Persian Grammar. Boswell. It was published in 1771.

[232] Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. BOSWELL.

[233] See ante, ii. 296.

[234] Macaulay wrote of Hastings's answer to this letter:—'It is a remarkable circumstance that one of the letters of Hastings to Dr. Johnson bears date a very few hours after the death of Nuncomar. While the whole settlement was in commotion, while a mighty and ancient priesthood were weeping over the remains of their chief, the conqueror in that deadly grapple sat down, with characteristic self-possession, to write about the Tour to the Hebrides, Jones's Persian Grammar, and the history, traditions, arts, and natural productions of India.' Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843, iii.376.

[235] Johnson wrote the Dedication, Ante, i.383.

[236] See ante, ii.82, note 2.

[237] Copy is manuscript for printing.

[238] Published by Kearsley, with this well-chosen motto:—'From his cradle He was a SCHOLAR, and a ripe and good one: And to add greater honours to his age Than man could give him, he died fearing Heaven.' SHAKSPEARE. BOSWELL. This quotation is a patched up one from Henry VIII, act iv. sc.2. The quotation in the text is found on p. 89 of this Life of Johnson.

[239] Mr. Thrale had removed, that is to say, from his winter residence in the Borough. Mrs. Piozzi has written opposite this passage in her copy of Boswell:—'Spiteful again! He went by direction of his physicians where they could easiest attend to him.' Hayward's Piozzi, i. 91. There was, perhaps, a good deal of truth in Boswell's supposition, for in 1779 Johnson had told her that he saw 'with indignation her despicable dread of living in the Borough.' Piozzi Letters, ii.92. Johnson had a room in the new house. 'Think,' wrote Hannah More, 'of Johnson's having apartments in Grosvenor-square! but he says it is not half so convenient as Bolt-court.' H. More's Memoirs, i.2O7.

[240] See ante, iii. 250.

[241] Shakspeare makes Hamlet thus describe his father:—

     'See what a grace was seated on this brow:
      Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
      An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
      A station like the herald, Mercury,
      New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
      A combination, and a form, indeed,
      Where every god did seem to set his seal,
      To give the world assurance of a man.!
      [Act iii. sc. 4.]

Milton thus pourtrays our first parent, Adam:—

     'His fair large front and eye sublime declar'd
      Absolute rule; and hyacinthin locks
      Round from his parted forelock manly hung
      Clus'tring, but not beneath his shoulders broad.'
     [P.L. iv. 300.] BOSWELL.

[242] 'Grattan's Uncle, Dean Marlay [afterwards Bishop of Waterford], had a good deal of the humour of Swift. Once, when the footman was out of the way, he ordered the coachman to fetch some water from the well. To this the man objected, that his business was to drive, not to run on errands. "Well, then," said Marlay, "bring out the coach and four, set the pitcher inside, and drive to the well;"—a service which was several times repeated, to the great amusement of the village.' Rogers's Table-Talk, p.176.

[243] See ante, ii. 241, for Johnson's contempt of puns.

[244] 'He left not faction, but of that was left.' Absalom and Achitophel, l. 568.

[245] Boswell wrote of Gibbon in 1779:—'He is an ugly, affected, disgusting fellow, and poisons our Literary Club to me.' Letters of Boswell, p.242. See ante, ii.443, note 1.

[246] The schools in this sense means a University.

[247] See ante, ii.224.

[248] Up to the year 1770, controverted elections had been tried before a Committee of the whole House. By the Grenville Act which was passed in that year they were tried by a select committee. Parl. Hist. xvi. 902. Johnson, in The False Alarm (1770), describing the old method of trial, says;—'These decisions have often been apparently partial, and sometimes tyrannically oppressive.' Works, vi. 169. In The Patriot (1774), he says:—'A disputed election is now tried with the same scrupulousness and solemnity as any other title.' Ib. p.223. See Boswell's Hebrides, Nov.10.

[249] Miss Burney describes a dinner at Mr. Thrale's, about this time, at which she met Johnson, Boswell, and Dudley Long. Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 14.

[250] See ante, ii.171, post, two paragraphs before April 10, 1783, and May 15, 1784.

[251] Johnson wrote on May i, 1780:—'There was the Bishop of St. Asaph who comes to every place.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 111. Hannah More, in 1782, describes an assembly at this Bishop's. 'Conceive to yourself 150 or 200 people met together dressed in the extremity of the fashion, painted as red as Bacchanals...ten or a dozen card-tables crammed with dowagers of quality, grave ecclesiastics and yellow admirals.' Memoirs, i.242. He was elected a member of the Literary Club, 'with the sincere approbation and eagerness of all present,' wrote Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Jones; elected, too, on the same day on which Lord Chancellor Camden was rejected (ante, iii. 311, note 2). Two or three years later Sir William married the Bishop's daughter. Life of Sir W Jones, pp.240, 279.

[252] 'Trust not to looks, nor credit outward show; The villain lurks beneath the cassocked beau.' Churchill's Poems (ed. 1766), ii.41.

[253] No. 2.

[254] See vol. i p. 378. BOSWELL.

[255] Northcote, according to Hazlitt, said of this character with some truth, that 'it was like one of Kneller's portraits—it would do for anybody.' Northcote's Conversations, p.86.

[256] See post, p.98.

[257] London Chronicle, May 2, 1769. This respectable man is there mentioned to have died on the 3rd of April, that year, at Cofflect, the seat of Thomas Veale, Esq., in his way to London. BOSWELL.

[258] Dr. Harte was the tutor of Mr. Eliot and of young Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's illegitimate son. 'My morning hopes,' wrote Chesterfield to his son at Rome, 'are justly placed in Mr. Harte, and the masters he will give you; my evening ones in the Roman ladies: pray be attentive to both.' Chesterfield's Letters, ii.263. See ante, i.163, note 1, ii.120, and post, June 27, 1784.

[259] Robertson's Scotland is in the February list of books in the Gent. Mag. for 1759; Harte's Gustavus Adolphus and Hume's England under the House of Tudor in the March list. Perhaps it was from Hume's competition that Harte suffered.

[260] Essays on Husbandry, 1764.

[261] See ante, iii. 381.

[262] 'Christmas Day, 1780. I shall not attempt to see Vestris till the weather is milder, though it is the universal voice that he is the only perfect being that has dropped from the clouds, within the memory of man or woman...When the Parliament meets he is to be thanked by the Speaker.' Walpole's Letters, vii. 480.

[263] Here Johnson uses his title of Doctor (ante, ii.332, note 1), but perhaps he does so as quoting the paragraph in the newspaper.

[264] William, the first Viscount Grimston. BOSWELL. Swift thus introduces him in his lines On Poetry, A Rhapsody:—

     'When death had finished Blackmore's reign,
     The leaden crown devolved to thee,
     Great poet of the hollow tree.'

Mr. Nichols, in a note on this, says that Grimston 'wrote the play when a boy, to be acted by his schoolfellows.' Swift's Works (1803), xi. 297. Two editions were published apparently by Grimston himself, one bearing his name but no date, and the other the date of 1705 but no name. By 1705 Grimston was 22 years old—no longer a boy. The former edition was published by Bernard Lintott at the Cross Keys, Fleet-street, and the latter by the same bookseller at the Middle Temple Gate. The grossness of a young man of birth at this period is shewn by the Preface. The third edition with the elephant on the tight-rope was published in 1736. There is another illustration in which an ass is represented bearing a coronet. Grimston's name is not given here, but there is a dedication 'To the Right Sensible the Lord Flame.' Three or four notes are added, one of which is very gross. The election was for St. Alban's, for which borough he was thrice returned.

[265] Dr. T. Campbell records (Diary, p. 69) that 'Boswell asked Johnson if he had never been under the hands of a dancing master. "Aye, and a dancing mistress too," says the Doctor; "but I own to you I never took a lesson but one or two; my blind eyes showed me I could never make a proficiency."'

[266] See vol. ii. p.286. BOSWELL.

[267] Miss Burney writes of him in Feb. 1779:—'He is a professed minority man, and very active and zealous in the opposition. Men of such different principles as Dr. Johnson and Sir Philip cannot have much cordiality in their political debates; however, the very superior abilities of the former, and the remarkable good breeding of the latter have kept both upon good terms.' She describes a hot argument between them, and continues:—'Dr. Johnson pursued him with unabating vigour and dexterity, and at length, though he could not convince, he so entirely baffled him, that Sir Philip was self-compelled to be quiet—which, with a very good grace, he confessed. Dr. Johnson then recollecting himself, and thinking, as he owned afterwards, that the dispute grew too serious, with a skill all his own, suddenly and unexpectedly turned it to burlesque.' D'Arblay's Diary, i. 192.

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

[269] See ante, ii.355.

[270] Here Johnson condescended to play upon the words Long and short. But little did he know that, owing to Mr. Long's reserve in his presence, he was talking thus of a gentleman distinguised amongst his acquaintance for acuteness of wit; one to whom I think the French expression, 'Il pétille d'esprit,' is particularly He has gratified me by mentioning that he heard Dr. Johnson say, 'Sir, if I were to lose Boswell, it would be a limb amputated.' BOSWELL.

[271] William Weller Pepys, Esq., one of the Masters in the High Court of Chancery, and well known in polite circles. My acquaintance with him is not sufficient to enable me to speak of him from my own judgement. But I know that both at Eton and Oxford he was the intimate friend of the late Sir James Macdonald, the Marcellus of Scotland [ante, i.449], whose extraordinary talents, learning, and virtues, will ever be remembered with admiration and regret. BOSWELL.

[272] See note, ante, p. 65, which describes an attack made by Johnson on Pepys more than two months after this conversation.

[273] Johnson once said to Mrs. Thrale:—'Why, Madam, you often provoke me to say severe things by unreasonable commendation. If you would not call for my praise, I would not give you my censure; but it constantly moves my indignation to be applied to, to speak well of a thing which I think contemptible.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i.132. See ante, iii.225.

[274] 'Mrs. Thrale,' wrote Miss Burney in 1780, 'is a most dear creature, but never restrains her tongue in anything, nor, indeed, any of her feelings. She laughs, cries, scolds, sports, reasons, makes fun—does everything she has an inclination to do, without any study of prudence, or thought of blame; and, pure and artless as is this character, it often draws both herself and others into scrapes, which a little discretion would avoid.' Ib. i.386. Later on she writes:—'Mrs. Thrale, with all her excellence, can give up no occasion of making sport, however unseasonable or even painful... I knew she was not to be safely trusted with anything she could turn into ridicule.' Ib. ii.24 and 29.

[275] Perhaps Mr. Seward, who was constantly at the Thrales' (ante, iii. 123).

[276] See ante, iii.228, 404.

[277] It was the seventh anniversary of Goldsmith's death.

[278] 'Mrs. Garrick and I,' wrote Hannah More (Memoirs, i. 208), 'were invited to an assembly at Mrs. Thrale's. There was to be a fine concert, and all the fine people were to be there. Just as my hair was dressed, came a servant to forbid our coming, for that Mr. Thrale was dead.'

[279] Pr. and Med. p 191. BOSWELL. The rest of the entry should be given:—'On Wednesday, 11, was buried my dear friend Thrale, who died on Wednesday 4; and with him were buried many of my hopes and pleasures. [On Sunday, 1st, the physician warned him against full meals, on Monday I pressed him to observance of his rules, but without effect, and Tuesday I was absent, but his wife pressed forbearance upon him again unsuccessfully. At night I was called to him, and found him senseless in strong convulsions. I staid in the room, except that I visited Mrs. Thrale twice.] About five, I think, on Wednesday morning he expired; I felt, &c. Farewell. May God that delighteth in mercy have had mercy on thee. I had constantly prayed for him some time before his death. The decease of him from whose friendship I had obtained many opportunities of amusement, and to whom I turned my thoughts as to a refuge from misfortunes, has left me heavy. But my business is with myself.' The passage enclosed in brackets I have copied from the original MS. Mr. Strahan, the editor, omitted it, no doubt from feelings of delicacy. What a contrast in this to the widow who published a letter in which she had written:—'I wish that you would put in a word of your own to Mr. Thrale about eating less!' Piozzi Letters, ii.130. Baretti, in a note on Piozzi Letters, ii.142, says that 'nobody ever had spirit enough to tell Mr. Thrale that his fits were apoplectic; such is the blessing of being rich that nobody dares to speak out.' In Johnson's Works (1787), xi.203, it is recorded that 'Johnson, who attended Thrale in his last moments, said, "His servants would have waited upon him in this awful period, and why not his friend?"'

[280] Johnson's letters to the widow show how much he felt Thrale's death. 'April 5, 1781. I am not without my part of the calamity. No death since that of my wife has ever oppressed me like this. April 7. My part of the loss hangs upon me. I have lost a friend of boundless kindness, at an age when it is very unlikely that I should find another. April 9. Our sorrow has different effects; you are withdrawn into solitude, and I am driven into company. I am afraid of thinking what I have lost. I never had such a friend before. April 11. I feel myself like a man beginning a new course of life. I had interwoven myself with my dear friend.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 191-97. 'I have very often,' wrote Miss Burney, in the following June, 'though I mention them not, long and melancholy discourses with Dr. Johnson about our dear deceased master, whom, indeed, he regrets incessantly.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 63. On his next birthday, he wrote:—'My first knowledge of Thrale was in 1765. I enjoyed his favour for almost a fourth part of my life.' Pr. and Med. p.191. One or two passages in Mrs. Thrale's Letters shew her husband's affection for Johnson. On May 3, 1776, she writes:—'Mr. Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome, and I am sure he will go nowhere that he can help without you.' Piozzi Letters, i.317. A few days later, she speaks of 'our dear master, who cannot be quiet without you for a week.' Ib. p.329. Johnson, in his fine epitaph on Thrale (Works, i.153) broke through a rule which he himself had laid down. In his Essay on Epitaphs (Ib. v 263), he said:—'It is improper to address the epitaph to the passenger [traveller], a custom which an injudicious veneration for antiquity introduced again at the revival of letters.' Yet in the monument in Streatham Church, we find the same Abi viator which he had censured in an epitaph on Henry IV of France.

[281] Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale shew that he had long been well acquainted with the state of her husband's business. In the year 1772, Mr. Thrale was in money difficulties. Johnson writes to her almost as if he were a partner in the business. 'The first consequence of our late trouble ought to be an endeavour to brew at a cheaper rate...Unless this can be done, nothing can help us; and if this be done, we shall not want help.' Piozzi Letters, i.57. He urges economy in the household, and continues:—'But the fury of housewifery will soon subside; and little effect will be produced, but by methodical attention and even frugality.' Ib. p.64. In another letter he writes:—'This year will undoubtedly be an year of struggle and difficulty; but I doubt not of getting through it; and the difficulty will grow yearly less and less. Supposing that our former mode of life kept us on the level, we shall, by the present contraction of expense, gain upon fortune a thousand a year, even though no improvements can be made in the conduct of the trade.' Piozzi Letters, i. 66. Four years later, he writes:—'To-day I went to look into my places at the Borough. I called on Mr. Perkins in the counting-house. He crows and triumphs, as we go on we shall double our business.' Ib. p. 333. When the executors first met, he wrote:—'We met to-day, and were told of mountainous difficulties, till I was provoked to tell them, that if there were really so much to do and suffer, there would be no executors in the world. Do not suffer yourself to be terrified.' Ib. ii. 197. Boswell says (ante, ii. 44l):—'I often had occasion to remark, Johnson loved business, loved to have his wisdom actually operate on real life.' When Boswell had purchased a farm, 'Johnson,' he writes (ante, iii. 207), 'made several calculations of the expense and profit; for he delighted in exercising his mind on the science of numbers.' The letter (ante, ii. 424) about the book-trade 'exhibits,' to use Boswell's words, 'his extraordinary precision and acuteness.' Boswell wrote to Temple:—'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.' Ante, iii. 51, note 3.

[282] Johnson, as soon as the will was read, wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'You have, £500 for your immediate expenses, and, £2000 a year, with both the houses and all the goods.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 192. Beattie wrote on June 1:—'Everybody says Mr. Thrale should have left Johnson £200 a year; which, from a fortune like his, would have been a very inconsiderable deduction.' Beattie's Life, ed. 1824, p. 290.

[283] Miss Burney thus writes of the day of the sale:—'Mrs. Thrale went early to town, to meet all the executors, and Mr. Barclay, the Quaker, who was the bidder. She was in great agitation of mind, and told me if all went well she would wave a white handkerchief out of the coach-window. Four o'clock came and dinner was ready, and no Mrs. Thrale. Queeny and I went out upon the lawn, where we sauntered in eager expectation, till near six, and then the coach appeared in sight, and a white handkerchief was waved from it.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 34. The brewery was sold for £135,000. See post, June 16, 1781.

[284] See post, paragraph before June 22, 1784.

[285] Baretti, in a MS. note on Piozzi Letters, i. 369, says that 'the two last years of Thrale's life his brewery brought him £30,000 a year neat profit.'

[286] In the fourth edition of his Dictionary, published in 1773, Johnson introduced a second definition of patriot:—'It is sometimes used for a factious disturber of the government.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, ii. 77) wrote on Feb. 21, 1772:—'Charles Fox is commenced patriot, and is already attempting to pronounce the words, country, liberty, corruption, &c.; with what success time will discover.' Forty years before Johnson begged not to meet patriots, Sir Robert Walpole said:—'A patriot, Sir! why patriots spring up like mushrooms. I could raise fifty of them within the four-and-twenty hours. I have raised many of them in one night. It is but refusing to gratify an unreasonable or an insolent demand, and up starts a patriot. I have never been afraid of making patriots; but I disdain and despise all their efforts.' Coxe's Walpole, i. 659. See ante, ii. 348, and iii. 66.

[287] He was tried on Feb. 5 and 6, 1781. Ann. Reg. xxiv. 217.

[288] Hannah More (Memoirs, i. 210) records a dinner on a Tuesday in this year. (Like Mrs. Thrale and Miss Burney, she cared nothing for dates.) It was in the week after Thrale's death. It must have been the dinner here mentioned by Boswell; for it was at a Bishop's (Shipley of St. Asaph), and Sir Joshua and Boswell were among the guests. Why Boswell recorded none of Johnson's conversation may be guessed from what she tells. 'I was heartily disgusted,' she says, 'with Mr. Boswell, who came up stairs after dinner much disordered with wine.' (See post, p. 109). The following morning Johnson called on her. 'He reproved me,' she writes, 'with pretended sharpness for reading Les Pensées de Pascal, alleging that as a good Protestant I ought to abstain from books written by Catholics. I was beginning to stand upon my defence, when he took me with both hands, and with a tear running down his cheeks, "Child," said he, with the most affecting earnestness, "I am heartily glad that you read pious books, by whomsoever they may be written.'"

[289] On Good-Friday, in 1778, Johnson recorded:—'It has happened this week, as it never happened in Passion-week before, that I have never dined at home, and I have therefore neither practised abstinence nor peculiar devotion' Pr. and Med. p. 163.

[290] No. 7.

[291] See ante, iii. 302.

[292] Richard Berenger, Esq., many years Gentleman of the Horse, and first Equerry to his present Majesty. MALONE. According to Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 156), he was Johnson's 'standard of true elegance.'

[293] See ante, iii. 186.

[294] Johnson (Works, vii. 449) thus describes Addison's 'familiar day,' on the authority of Pope:—'He studied all morning; then dined at a tavern; and went afterwards to Button's [coffee-house]. From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late, and drank too much wine.' Spence (Anec. p. 286) adds, on the authority of Pope, that 'Addison passed each day alike, and much in the manner that Dryden did. Dryden employed his mornings in writing; dined en famille; and then went to Wills's; only he came home earlier a'nights'

[295] Mr. Foss says of Blackstone:—'Ere he had been long on the bench he experienced the bad effects of the studious habits in which he had injudiciously indulged in his early life, and of his neglect to take the necessary amount of exercise, to which he was specially averse.' He died at the age of 56. Foss's Judges, viii. 250. He suffered greatly from his corpulence. His portrait in the Bodleian shews that he was a very fat man. Malone says that Scott (afterwards Lord Stowell) wrote to Blackstone's family to apologise for Boswell's anecdote. Prior's Malone, p. 415. Scott would not have thought any the worse of Blackstone for his bottle of port; both he and his brother, the Chancellor, took a great deal of it. 'Lord Eldon liked plain port; the stronger the better.' Twiss's Eldon, iii. 486. Some one asked him whether Lord Stowell took much exercise. 'None,' he said, 'but the exercise of eating and drinking.' Ib. p. 302. Yet both men got through a vast deal of hard work, and died, Eldon at the age of 86, and Stowell of 90.

[296] See this explained, pp. 52, 53 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[297] See ante, ii. 7.

[298] William Scott was a tutor of University College at the age of nineteen. He held the office for ten years—to 1775. He wrote to his father in 1772 about his younger brother John (afterwards Lord Eldon), who had just made a run-away match:—'The business in which I am engaged is so extremely disagreeable in itself, and so destructive to health (if carried on with such success as can render it at all considerable in point of profit) that I do not wonder at his unwillingness to succeed me in it.' Twiss's Eldon, i. 47, 74.

[299] The account of her marriage given By John Wesley in a letter to his brother-in-law, Mr. Hall, is curious. He wrote on Dec. 22, 1747:—'More than twelve years ago you told me God had revealed it to you that you should marry my youngest sister ... You asked and gained her consent... In a few days you had a counter-revelation, that you was not to marry her, but her sister. This last error was far worse than the first. But you was not quite above conviction. So, in spite of her poor astonished parents, of her brothers, of all your vows and promises, you shortly after jilted the younger and married the elder sister.' Wesley's Journal, ii. 39. Mrs. Hall suffered greatly for marrying a wretch who had so cruelly treated her own sister, Southey's Wesley, i. 369.

[300] See ante, iii. 269.

[301] The original 'Robinhood' was a debating society which met near Temple-Bar. Some twenty years before this time Goldsmith belonged to it, and, it was said, Burke. Forster's Goldsmith, i. 287, and Prior's Burke, p. 79. The president was a baker by trade. 'Goldsmith, after hearing him give utterance to a train of strong and ingenious reasoning, exclaimed to Derrick, "That man was meant by nature for a Lord Chancellor." Derrick replied, "No, no, not so high; he is only intended for Master of the Rolls."' Prior's Goldsmith, i. 420. Fielding, in 1752, in The Covent-Garden Journal, Nos. 8 and 9, takes off this Society and the baker. A fragment of a report of their discussions which he pretends to have discovered, begins thus:—'This evenin the questin at the Robinhood was, whether relidgin was of any youse to a sosyaty; baken bifor mee To'mmas Whytebred, baker.' Horace Walpole (Letters, iv. 288), in 1764, wrote of the visit of a French gentleman to England, 'He has seen ... Jews, Quakers, Mr. Pitt, the Royal Society, the Robinhood, Lord Chief-Justice Pratt, the Arts-and-Sciences, &c.' Romilly (Life, i. 168), in a letter dated May 22, 1781, says that during the past winter several of these Sunday religious debating societies had been established. 'The auditors,' he was assured, 'were mostly weak, well-meaning people, who were inclined to Methodism;' but among the speakers were 'some designing villains, and a few coxcombs, with more wit than understanding.' 'Nothing,' he continues, 'could raise up panegyrists of these societies but what has lately happened, an attempt to suppress them. The Solicitor-General has brought a bill into Parliament for this purpose. The bill is drawn artfully enough; for, as these societies are held on Sundays, and people pay for admittance, he has joined them with a famous tea-drinking house [Carlisle House], involving them both in the same fate, and entitling his bill, A Bill to regulate certain Abuses and Profanations of the Lord's Day.' The Bill was carried; on a division none being found among the Noes but the two tellers. The penalties for holding a meeting were £200 for the master of the house, £100 for the moderator of the meeting, and £50 for each of the servants at the door. Parl. Hist. xxii. 262, 279.

[302] St. Matthew, xxvii. 52.

[303] I Corinthians, xv. 37.

[304] As this subject frequently recurs in these volumes, the reader may be led erroneously to suppose that Dr. Johnson was so fond of such discussions, as frequently to introduce them. But the truth is, that the authour himself delighted in talking concerning ghosts, and what he has frequently denominated the mysterious; and therefore took every opportunity of leading Johnson to converse on such subjects. MALONE. See ante, i. 406.

[305] Macbean (Johnson's old amanuensis, ante, i. 187) is not in Boswell's list of guests; but in the Pemb. Coll. MSS., there is the following entry on Monday, April 16:—'Yesterday at dinner were Mrs. Hall, Mr. Levet, Macbean, Boswel (sic), Allen. Time passed in talk after dinner. At seven, I went with Mrs. Hall to Church, and came back to tea.'

[306] Mrs. Piozzi records (Anec. p. 192) that he said 'a long time after my poor mother's death, I heard her voice call Sam.' She is so inaccurate that most likely this is merely her version of the story that Boswell has recorded above. See also ante, i. 405. Lord Macaulay made more of this story of the voice than it could well bear—'Under the influence of his disease, his senses became morbidly torpid, and his imagination morbidly active. At one time he would stand poring on the town clock without being able to tell the hour. At another, he would distinctly hear his mother, who was many miles off, calling him by his name. But this was not the worst.' Macaulay's Writings and Speeches, ed. 1871, p. 374.

     'One wife is too much for most
     husbands to bear,
     But two at a time there's no
     mortal can bear.'
     Act iii. sc. 4.

[308] 'I think a person who is terrified with the imagination of ghosts and spectres much more reasonable than one who, contrary to the reports of all historians, sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the traditions of all nations, thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and groundless.' The Spectator, No. 110.

[309] St. Matthew, chap. xxvii. vv. 52, 53. BOSWELL.

[310] Garrick died on Jan. 20, 1779.

[311] Garrick called her Nine, (the Nine Muses). 'Nine,' he said, 'you are a Sunday Woman.' H. More's Memoirs, i. 113.

[312] See vol. iii. p. 331. BOSWELL.

[313] See ante, ii. 325, note 3.

[314] Boswell is quoting from Johnson's eulogium on Garrick in his Life of Edmund Smith. Works, vii. 380. See ante, i. 81.

[315] How fond she and her husband had been is shewn in a letter, in which, in answer to an invitation, he says:—'As I have not left Mrs. Garrick one day since we were married, near twenty-eight years, I cannot now leave her.' Garrick Corres. ii. 150. 'Garrick's widow is buried with him. She survived him forty-three years—"a little bowed-down old woman, who went about leaning on a gold-headed cane, dressed in deep widow's mourning, and always talking of her dear Davy." (Pen and Ink Sketches, 1864).' Stanley's Westminster Abbey, ed. 1868, p. 305.

[316] Love's Labour's Lost, act ii. sc. i.

[317] See ante, ii. 461.

[318] Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 346) describes Hollis as 'a most excellent man, a most immaculate Whig, but as simple a poor soul as ever existed, except his editor, who has given extracts from the good creature's diary that are very near as anile as Ashmole's. There are thanks to God for reaching every birthday, ... and thanks to Heaven for her Majesty's being delivered of a third or fourth prince, and God send he may prove a good man.' See also Walpole's Journal of the Reign of George III, i. 287. Dr. Franklin wrote much more highly of him. Speaking of what he had done, he said:—'It is prodigious the quantity of good that may be done by one man, if he will make a business of it.' Franklin's Memoirs, ed. 1818, iii. 135.

[319] See p. 77 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[320] See ante, iii. 97.

[321] On April 6 of the next year this gentleman, when Secretary of the Treasury, destroyed himself, overwhelmed, just as Cowper had been, by the sense of the responsibility of an office which had been thrust upon him. See Hannah More's Memoirs, i. 245, and Walpole's Letters, viii. 206.

[322] 'It is commonly supposed that the uniformity of a studious life affords no matter for a narration; but the truth is, that of the most studious life a great part passes without study. An author partakes of the common condition of humanity; he is born and married like another man; he has hopes and fears, expectations and disappointments, griefs and joys, and friends and enemies, like a courtier, or a statesman; nor can I conceive why his affairs should not excite curiosity as much as the whisper of a drawing-room or the factions of a camp.' The Idler, No. 102.

[323] Hannah More wrote of this day (Memoirs, i. 212):—'I accused Dr. Johnson of not having done justice to the Allegro and Penseroso. He spoke disparagingly of both. I praised Lycidas, which he absolutely abused, adding, "if Milton had not written the Paradise Lost, he would have only ranked among the minor Poets. He was a Phidias that could cut a Colossus out of a rock, but could not cut heads out of cherry-stones."' See post, June 13, 1784. The Allegro and Penseroso Johnson described as 'two noble efforts of imagination.' Of Lycidas he wrote:—'Surely no man could have fancied that he read it with pleasure, had he not known the author.' Works, vii. 121, 2.

[324] Murphy (Life of Garrick, p. 374) says 'Shortly after Garrick's death Johnson was told in a large company, "You are recent from the Lives of the Poets; why not add your friend Garrick to the number?" Johnson's answer was, "I do not like to be officious; but if Mrs. Garrick will desire me to do it, I shall be very willing to pay that last tribute to the memory of a man I loved." 'Murphy adds that he himself took care that Mrs. Garrick was informed of what Johnson had said, but that no answer was ever received.

[325] Miss Burney wrote in May:—'Dr. Johnson was charming, both in spirits and humour. I really think he grows gayer and gayer daily, and more ductile and pleasant.' In June she wrote:—'I found him in admirable good-humour, and our journey [to Streatham] was extremely pleasant. I thanked him for the last batch of his poets, and we talked them over almost all the way.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 23, 44. Beattie, a week or two later, wrote:—'Johnson grows in grace as he grows in years. He not only has better health and a fresher complexion than ever he had before (at least since I knew him), but he has contracted a gentleness of manner which pleases everybody.' Beattie's Life, ed. 1824, p. 289.

[326] See ante, iii. 65. Wilkes was by this time City Chamberlain. 'I think I see him at this moment,' said Rogers (Table-Talk, p. 43), 'walking through the crowded streets of the city, as Chamberlain, on his way to Guildhall, in a scarlet coat, military boots, and a bag-wig—the hackney-coachmen in vain calling out to him, "A coach, your honour."'

[327] See ante, ii. 201, for Beattie's Essay on Truth.

[328] Thurot, in the winter of 1759-60, with a small squadron made descents on some of the Hebrides and on the north-eastern coast of Ireland. In a sea fight off Ireland he was killed and his ships were taken. Gent. Mag. xxx. 107. Horace Walpole says that in the alarm raised by him in Ireland, 'the bankers there stopped payment.' Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 224.

     'Some for renown on scraps of learning doat,
      And think they grow immortal as they quote.'

Young's Love of Fame, sat. i. Cumberland (Memoirs, ii. 226) says that Mr. Dilly, speaking of 'the profusion of quotations which some writers affectedly make use of, observed that he knew a Presbyterian parson who, for eighteenpence, would furnish any pamphleteer with as many scraps of Greek and Latin as would pass him off for an accomplished classic.'

[330] Cowley was quite out of fashion. Richardson (Corres. ii. 229) wrote more than thirty years earlier:—'I wonder Cowley is so absolutely neglected.' Pope, a dozen years or so before Richardson, asked,

     'Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
      His moral pleases, not his pointed wit.'

Imitations of Horace, Epis. ii. i. 75.

[331] See ante, ii. 58, and iii. 276.

[332] 'There was a club held at the King's Head in Pall Mall that arrogantly called itself The World. Lord Stanhope (now Lord Chesterfield) was a member. Epigrams were proposed to be written on the glasses by each member after dinner. Once when Dr. Young was invited thither, the doctor would have declined writing because he had no diamond, Lord Stanhope lent him his, and he wrote immediately—

     "Accept a miracle," &c.'

Spence's Anecdotes, p. 377. Dr. Maty (Memoirs of Chesterfield, i. 227) assigns the lines to Pope, and lays the scene at Lord Cobham's. Spence, however, gives Young himself as his authority.

[333] 'Aug. 1778. "I wonder," said Mrs. Thrale, "you bear with my nonsense." "No, madam, you never talk nonsense; you have as much sense and more wit than any woman I know." "Oh," cried Mrs. Thrale, blushing, "it is my turn to go under the table this morning, Miss Burney." "And yet," continued the doctor, with the most comical look, "I have known all the wits from Mrs. Montagu down to Bet Flint." "Bet Flint!" cried Mrs. Thrale. "Pray, who is she?" "Oh, a fine character, madam. She was habitually a slut and a drunkard, and occasionally a thief and a harlot.... Mrs. Williams," he added, "did not love Bet Flint, but Bet Flint made herself very easy about that."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 87, 90.

[334] Johnson, whose memory was wonderfully retentive [see ante, i. 39], remembered the first four lines of this curious production, which have been communicated to me by a young lady of his acquaintance:—

     'When first I drew my vital breath,
     A little minikin I came upon
     And then I came from a dark
     Into this gay and gaudy world.'

[335] The Sessional Reports of the Old Bailey Trials for 1758, p. 278, contain a report of the trial. The Chief Justice Willes was in the Commission, but, according to the Report, it was before the Recorder that Bet Flint was tried. It may easily be, however, that either the reporter or the printer has blundered. It is only by the characters * and ‡ that the trials before the Chief Justice and the Recorder are distinguished. Bet had stolen not only the counterpane, but five other articles. The prosecutrix could not prove that the articles were hers, and not a captain's, whose servant she said she had been, and who was now abroad. On this ground the prisoner was acquitted. Of Chief Justice Willes, Horace Walpole writes:—'He was not wont to disguise any of his passions. That for gaming was notorious; for women unbounded.' He relates an anecdote of his wit and licentiousness. Walpole's Reign of George II, i. 89. He had been Johnson's schoolfellow (ante, i. 45).

[336] Burke is meant. See ante, ii. 131, where Johnson said that Burke spoke too familiarly; and post, May 15, 1784, where he said that 'when Burke lets himself down to jocularity he is in the kennel.'

[337] Wilkes imperfectly recalled to mind the following passage in Plutarch:—'[Greek: Euphranor ton Thaesea ton heatou to Parrhasiou parebale, legon tor men ekeinou hroda bebrokenai, tor de eautou krea boeia.]' 'Euphranor, comparing his own Theseus with Parrhasius's, said that Parrhasius's had fed on roses, but his on beef.' Plutarch, ed. 1839, iii. 423.

[338] Portugal, receiving from Brazil more gold than it needed for home uses, shipped a large quantity to England. It was said, though probably with exaggeration, that the weekly packet-boat from Lisbon, brought one week with another, more than £50,000 in gold to England. Smith's Wealth of Nations, book iv. ch. 6. Portugal pieces were current in our colonies, and no doubt were commonly sent to them from London. It was natural therefore that they should be selected for this legal fiction.

[339] See ante, ii. III.

[340] 'Whenever the whole of our foreign trade and consumption exceeds our exportation of commodities, our money must go to pay our debts so contracted, whether melted or not melted down. If the law makes the exportation of our coin penal, it will be melted down; if it leaves the exportation of our coin free, as in Holland, it will be carried out in specie. One way or other, go it must, as we see in Spain.... Laws made against exportation of money or bullion will be all in vain. Restraint or liberty in that matter makes no country rich or poor.' Locke's Works, ed. 1824, iv. 160.

[341] 'Nov. 14, 1779. Mr. Beauclerk has built a library in Great Russellstreet, that reaches half way to Highgate. Everybody goes to see it; it has put the Museum's nose quite out of joint.' Walpole's Letters, vii. 273. It contained upwards of 30,000 volumes, and the sale extended over fifty days. Two days' sale were given to the works on divinity, including, in the words of the catalogue, 'Heterodox! et Increduli. Angl. Freethinkers and their opponents.' Dr. Johnson: His Friends and His Critics, p. 315. It sold for £5,011 (ante, in. 420, note 4). Wilkes's own library—a large one—had been sold in 1764, in a five days' sale, as is shewn by the Auctioneer's Catalogue, which is in the Bodleian.

[342] 'Our own language has from the Reformation to the present time been chiefly dignified and adorned by the works of our divines, who, considered as commentators, controvertists, or preachers, have undoubtedly left all other nations far behind them.' The Idler, No. 91.

[343] Mr. Wilkes probably did not know that there is in an English sermon the most comprehensive and lively account of that entertaining faculty, for which he himself is so much admired. It is in Dr. Barrow's first volume, and fourteenth sermon, 'Against foolish Talking and Jesting.' My old acquaintance, the late Corbyn Morris, in his ingenious Essay on Wit, Humour, and Ridicule, calls it 'a profuse description of Wit;' but I do not see how it could be curtailed, without leaving out some good circumstance of discrimination. As it is not generally known, and may perhaps dispose some to read sermons, from which they may receive real advantage, while looking only for entertainment, I shall here subjoin it:—'But first (says the learned preacher) it may be demanded, what the thing we speak of is? Or what this facetiousness (or wit as he calls it before) doth import? To which questions I might reply, as Democritus did to him that asked the definition of a man, "'Tis that which we all see and know." Any one better apprehends what it is by acquaintance, than I can inform him by description. It is, indeed, a thing so versatile and multiform, appearing in so many shapes, so many postures, so many garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and judgements, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the figure of the fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in forging an apposite tale; sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound: sometimes it is wrapped in a dress of humorous expression: sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude: sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in a shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense: sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture, passeth for it: sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness giveth it being: sometimes it riseth only from a lucky hitting upon what is strange: sometimes from a crafty wresting obvious matter to the purpose. Often it consisteth in one knows not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are unaccountable, and inexplicable; being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy, and windings of language. It is, in short, a manner of speaking out of the simple and plain way, (such as reason teacheth and proveth things by,) which by a pretty surprising uncouthness in conceit or expression, doth affect and amuse the fancy, stirring in it some wonder, and breeding some delight thereto. It raiseth admiration, as signifying a nimble sagacity of apprehension, a special felicity of invention, a vivacity of spirit, and reach of wit more than vulgar; it seeming to argue a rare quickness of parts, that one can fetch in remote conceits applicable; a notable skill, that he can dextrously accommodate them to the purpose before him; together with a lively briskness of humour, not apt to damp those sportful flashes of imagination. (Whence in Aristotle such persons are termed [Greek: hepidexioi], dextrous men, and [Greek: eustrophoi], men of facile or versatile manners, who can easily turn themselves to all things, or turn all things to themselves.) It also procureth delight, by gratifying curiosity with its rareness, as semblance of difficulty: (as monsters, not for their beauty, but their rarity; as juggling tricks, not for their use, but their abstruseness, are beheld with pleasure:) by diverting the mind from its road of serious thoughts; by instilling gaiety and airiness of spirit; by provoking to such dispositions of spirit in way of emulation or complaisance; and by seasoning matters, otherwise distasteful or insipid, with an unusual and thence grateful tang.' BOSWELL. Morris's Essay was published in 1744. Hume wrote:—'Pray do you not think that a proper dedication may atone for what is objectionable in my Dialogues'! I am become much of my friend Corbyn Morrice's mind, who says that he writes all his books for the sake of the dedications.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 147.

[344] The quarrel arose from the destruction by George II. of George I.'s will (ante, ii. 342). The King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, was George I.'s grandson. 'Vague rumours spoke of a large legacy to the Queen of Prussia [Frederick's mother]. Of that bequest demands were afterwards said to have been frequently and roughly made by her son, the great King of Prussia, between whom and his uncle subsisted much inveteracy.' Walpole's Letters, i. cxx.

[345] When I mentioned this to the Bishop of Killaloe, 'With the goat,' said his Lordship. Such, however, is the engaging politeness and pleasantry of Mr. Wilkes, and such the social good humour of the Bishop, that when they dined together at Mr. Dilly's, where I also was, they were mutually agreeable. BOSWELL. It was not the lion, but the leopard, that shall lie down with the kid. Isaiah, xi. 6.

[346] Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, authour of tracts relating to natural history, &c. BOSWELL.

[347] Mrs. Montagu, so early as 1757, wrote of Mr. Stillingfleet:—'I assure you our philosopher is so much a man of pleasure, he has left off his old friends and his blue stockings, and is at operas and other gay assemblies every night.' Montagu's Letters, iv. 117.

[348] See ante, in. 293, note 5.

[349] Miss Burney thus describes her:—'She is between thirty and forty, very short, very fat, but handsome; splendidly and fantastically dressed, rouged not unbecomingly yet evidently, and palpably desirous of gaining notice and admiration. She has an easy levity in her air, manner, voice, and discourse, that speak (sic) all within to be comfortable.... She is one of those who stand foremost in collecting all extraordinary or curious people to her London conversaziones, which, like those of Mrs. Vesey, mix the rank and the literature, and exclude all beside.... Her parties are the most brilliant in town.' Miss Burney then describes one of these parties, at which were present Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds. 'The company in general were dressed with more brilliancy than at any rout I ever was at, as most of them were going to the Duchess of Cumberland's.' Miss Burney herself was 'surrounded by strangers, all dressed superbly, and all looking saucily.... Dr. Johnson was standing near the fire, and environed with listeners.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 179, 186, 190. Leslie wrote of Lady Corke in 1834 (Autobiographical Recollections, i. 137, 243):—'Notwithstanding her great age, she is very animated. The old lady, who was a lion-hunter in her youth, is as much one now as ever.' She ran after a Boston negro named Prince Saunders, who 'as he put his Christian name "Prince" on his cards without the addition of Mr., was believed to be a native African prince, and soon became a lion of the first magnitude in fashionable circles.' She died in 1840.

[350] 'A lady once ventured to ask Dr. Johnson how he liked Yorick's [Sterne's] Sermons. "I know nothing about them, madam," was his reply. But some time afterwards, forgetting himself, he severely censured them. The lady retorted:—"I understood you to say, Sir, that you had never read them." "No, Madam, I did read them, but it was in a stage-coach; I should not have even deigned to look at them had I been at large." Cradock's Memoirs, p. 208.

[351] See ante, iii. 382, note 1.

[352] Next day I endeavoured to give what had happened the most ingenious turn I could, by the following verses:—


     'Not that with th' excellent Montrose
        I had the happiness to dine;
      Not that I late from table rose,
        From Graham's wit, from generous wine.
      It was not these alone which led
        On sacred manners to encroach;
      And made me feel what most I dread,
        JOHNSON'S just frown, and self-reproach.
      But when I enter'd, not abash'd,
        From your bright eyes were shot such rays,
      At once intoxication flash'd,
        And all my frame was in a blaze.
      But not a brilliant blaze I own,
        Of the dull smoke I'm yet asham'd;
      I was a dreary ruin grown,
        And not enlighten'd though inflam'd.
      Victim at once to wine and love,
        I hope, MARIA, you'll forgive;
      While I invoke the powers above,
        That henceforth I may wiser live.'

The lady was generously forgiving, returned me an obliging answer, and I thus obtained an Act of Oblivion, and took care never to offend again. BOSWELL.

[353] See ante, ii. 436, and iv. 88, note I.

[354] On May 22 Horace Walpole wrote (Letters, viii. 44):—'Boswell, that quintessence of busybodies, called on me last week, and was let in, which he should not have been, could I have foreseen it. After tapping many topics, to which I made as dry answers as an unbribed oracle, he vented his errand. "Had I seen Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets?" I said slightly, "No, not yet;" and so overlaid his whole impertinence.'

[355] See ante, iii. 1.

[356] See ante, ii. 47, note 2; 352, note I; and iii. 376, for explanations of like instances of Boswell's neglect.

[357] See ante, i. 298, note 4.

[358] 'He owned he sometimes talked for victory.' Boswell's Hebrides, opening pages.

[359] The late Right Hon. William Gerard Hamilton. MALONE.

[360] Dr. Johnson, being told of a man who was thankful for being introduced to him, 'as he had been convinced in a long dispute that an opinion which he had embraced as a settled truth was no better than a vulgar error, "Nay," said he, "do not let him be thankful, for he was right, and I was wrong." Like his Uncle Andrew in the ring at Smithfield, Johnson, in a circle of disputants, was determined neither to be thrown nor conquered.' Murphy's Johnson, p. 139. Johnson, in The Adventurer, No. 85, seems to describe his own talk. He writes:—' While the various opportunities of conversation invite us to try every mode of argument, and every art of recommending our sentiments, we are frequently betrayed to the use of such as are not in themselves strictly defensible; a man heated in talk, and eager of victory, takes advantage of the mistakes or ignorance of his adversary, lays hold of concessions to which he knows he has no right, and urges proofs likely to prevail on his opponent, though he knows himself that they have no force.' J. S. Mill gives somewhat the same account of his own father. 'I am inclined to think,' he writes, 'that he did injustice to his own opinions by the unconscious exaggerations of an intellect emphatically polemical; and that when thinking without an adversary in view, he was willing to make room for a great portion of the truths he seemed to deny.' Mill's Autobiography, p. 201. See also ante, ii. 100, 450, in. 23, 277, 331; and post, May 18, 1784, and Steevens's account of Johnson just before June 22, 1784.

[361] Thomas Shaw, D.D., author of Travels to Barbary and the Levant.

[362] See ante, iii. 314.

[363] The friend very likely was Boswell himself. He was one of 'these tanti men.' 'I told Paoli that in the very heat of youth I felt the nom est tanti, the omnia vanitas of one who has exhausted all the sweets of his being, and is weary with dull repetition. I told him that I had almost become for ever incapable of taking a part in active life.' Boswell's Corsica, ed. 1879, p. 193.

[364] Letters on the English Nation: By Batista Angeloni, a Jesuit, who resided many years in London. Translated from the original Italian by the Author of the Marriage Act. A Novel. 2 vols. London [no printer's name given], 1755. Shebbeare published besides six Letters to the People of England in the years 1755-7, for the last of which he was sentenced to the pillory. Ante, iii. 315, note I. Horace Walpole (Letters, iii. 74) described him in 1757 as 'a broken Jacobite physician, who has threatened to write himself into a place or the pillory.'

[365] I recollect a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that the King had pensioned both a He-bear and a She-bear. BOSWELL. See ante, ii. 66, and post, April 28, 1783.

        Witness, ye chosen train
     Who breathe the sweets of his Saturnian reign;
     Witness ye Hills, ye Johnsons, Scots, Shebbeares,
     Hark to my call, for some of you have ears.'

Heroic Epistle. See post, under June 16, 1784.

[367] In this he was unlike the King, who, writes Horace Walpole,' expecting only an attack on Chambers, bought it to tease, and began reading it to, him; but, finding it more bitter on himself, flung it down on the floor in a passion, and would read no more.' Journal of the Reign of George III, i. 187.

[368] They were published in 1773 in a pamphlet of 16 pages, and, with the good fortune that attends a muse in the peerage, reached a third edition in the year. To this same earl the second edition of Byron's Hours of Idleness was 'dedicated by his obliged ward and affectionate kinsman, the author.' In English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, he is abused in the passage which begins:—

     'No muse will cheer with renovating smile,
      The paralytic puling of Carlisle.'

In a note Byron adds:—'The Earl of Carlisle has lately published an eighteen-penny pamphlet on the state of the stage, and offers his plan for building a new theatre. It is to be hoped his lordship will be permitted to bring forward anything for the stage—except his own tragedies.' In the third canto of Childe Harold Byron makes amends. In writing of the death of Lord Carlisle's youngest son at Waterloo, he says:—

     'Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine;
      Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
      Partly because they blend me with his line,
      And partly that I did his Sire some wrong.'

For his lordship's tragedy see post, under Nov. 19, 1783.

[369] Men of rank and fortune, however, should be pretty well assured of having a real claim to the approbation of the publick, as writers, before they venture to stand forth. Dryden, in his preface to All for Love, thus expresses himself:—

'Men of pleasant conversation (at least esteemed so) and endued with a trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out by [with] a smattering of Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of gentlemen, by their poetry:

     "Rarus enim fermè sensus communis in ilia
             Fortuna,"——[Juvenal, viii. 73.]

And is not this a wretched affectation, not to be contented with what fortune has done for them, and sit down quietly with their estates, but they must call their wits in question, and needlessly expose their nakedness to publick view? Not considering that they are not to expect the same approbation from sober men, which they have found from their flatterers after the third bottle: If a little glittering in discourse has passed them on us for witty men, where was the necessity of undeceiving the world? Would a man who has an ill title to an estate, but yet is in possession of it, would he bring it of his own accord to be tried at Westminster? We who write, if we want the talents [talent], yet have the excuse that we do it for a poor subsistence; but what can be urged in their defence, who, not having the vocation of poverty to scribble, out of mere wantonness take pains to make themselves ridiculous? Horace was certainly in the right where he said, "That no man is satisfied with his own condition." A poet is not pleased, because he is not rich; and the rich are discontented because the poets will not admit them of their number.' BOSWELL. Boswell, it should seem, had followed Swift's advice:—

     'Read all the prefaces of Dryden,
      For these our critics much confide in;
      Though merely writ at first for filling,
      To raise the volume's price a shilling.'

Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xi. 293.

[370] See ante, i. 402.

[371] Wordsworth, it should seem, held with Johnson in this. When he read the article in the Edinburgh Review on Lord Byron's early poems, he remarked that 'though Byron's verses were probably poor enough, yet such an attack was abominable,—that a young nobleman, who took to poetry, deserved to be encouraged, not ridiculed.' Rogers's Table-Talk, p. 234, note.

[372] Dr. Barnard, formerly Dean of Derry. See ante, iii. 84.

[373] This gave me very great pleasure, for there had been once a pretty smart altercation between Dr. Barnard and him, upon a question, whether a man could improve himself after the age of forty-five; when Johnson in a hasty humour, expressed himself in a manner not quite civil. Dr. Barnard made it the subject of a copy of pleasant verses, in which he supposed himself to learn different perfections from different men. They concluded with delicate irony:—

     'Johnson shall teach me how to place
      In fairest light each borrow'd grace;
        From him I'll learn to write;
      Copy his clear familiar style,
      And by the roughness of his file
        Grow, like himself, polite.'

I know not whether Johnson ever saw the poem, but I had occasion to find that as Dr. Barnard and he knew each other better, their mutual regard increased. BOSWELL. See Appendix A.

[374] See ante, ii. 357, iii. 309, and post, March 23, 1783.

[375] 'Sir Joshua once asked Lord B—— to dine with Dr. Johnson and the rest, but though a man of rank and also of good information, he seemed as much alarmed at the idea as if you had tried to force him into one of the cages at Exeter-Change.' Hazlitt's Conversations of Northcote, p. 41.

[376] Yet when he came across them he met with much respect. At Alnwick he was, he writes, 'treated with great civility by the Duke of Northumberland.' Piozzi Letters, i. 108. At Inverary, the Duke and Duchess of Argyle shewed him great attention. Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 25. In fact, all through his Scotch tour he was most politely welcomed by 'the great.' At Chatsworth, he was 'honestly pressed to stay' by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (post, Sept. 9, 1784). See ante, iii. 21. On the other hand, Mrs. Barbauld says:—'I believe it is true that in England genius and learning obtain less personal notice than in most other parts of Europe.' She censures 'the contemptuous manner in which Lady Wortley Montagu mentioned Richardson:—"The doors of the Great," she says, "were never opened to him."' Richardson Corres. i. clxxiv.

[377] When Lord Elibank was seventy years old, he wrote:—'I shall be glad to go five hundred miles to enjoy a day of his company.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 12.

[378] Romans, x. 2.

[379] I Peter, iii. 15.

[380] Horace Walpole wrote three years earlier:—' Whig principles are founded on sense; a Whig may be a fool, a Tory must be so.' Letters, vii. 88.

[381] Mr. Barclay, a descendant of Robert Barclay, of Ury, the celebrated apologist of the people called Quakers, and remarkable for maintaining the principles of his venerable progenitor, with as much of the elegance of modern manners, as is consistent with primitive simplicity, BOSWELL.

[382] Now Bishop of Llandaff, one of the poorest Bishopricks in this kingdom. His Lordship has written with much zeal to show the propriety of equalizing the revenues of Bishops. He has informed us that he has burnt all his chemical papers. The friends of our excellent constitution, now assailed on every side by innovators and levellers, would have less regretted the suppression of some of this Lordship's other writings. BOSWELL. Boswell refers to A Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury by Richard, Lord Bishop of Landaff, 1782. If the revenues were made more equal, 'the poorer Bishops,' the Bishop writes, 'would be freed from the necessity of holding ecclesiastical preferments in commendam with their Bishopricks,' p. 8.

[383] De Quincey says that Sir Humphry Davy told him, 'that he could scarcely imagine a time, or a condition of the science, in which the Bishop's Essays would be superannuated.' De Quincey's Works, ii. 106. De Quincey describes the Bishop as being 'always a discontented man, a railer at the government and the age, which could permit such as his to pine away ingloriously in one of the humblest among the Bishopricks.' Ib. p. 107. He was, he adds, 'a true Whig,' and would have been made Archbishop of York had his party staid in power a little longer in 1807.'

[384] Rasselas, chap. xi.

[385] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 30.

[386] 'They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.' Genesis, iii. 8.

     ... 'Vivendi recte qui prorogat horam,
     Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis; at ille
     Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.'
     'And sure the man who has it in his power
      To practise virtue, and protracts the hour,
      Waits like the rustic till the river dried;
      Still glides the river, and will ever glide.'

FRANCIS. Horace, Epist. i. 2. 41.

[388] See ante, p. 59.

[389] See ante, iii. 251.

[390] See ante, iii. 136.

[391] This assertion is disproved by a comparison of dates. The first four satires of Young were published in 1725; The South Sea scheme (which appears to be meant,) was in 1720. MALONE. In Croft's Life of Young, which Johnson adopted, it is stated:—'By the Universal Passion he acquired no vulgar fortune, more than £3000. A considerable sum had already been swallowed up in the South Sea.' Johnson's Works, viii. 430. Some of Young's poems were published before 1720.

[392] Crabbe got Johnson to revise his poem, The Village (post, under March 23, 1783). He states, that 'the Doctor did not readily comply with requests for his opinion; not from any unwillingness to oblige, but from a painful contention in his mind between a desire of giving pleasure and a determination to speak truth.' Crabbe's Works, ii. 12. See ante, ii. 51, 195, and iii. 373.

[393] Pope's Essay on Man, iv. 390. See ante, iii. 6, note 2.

[394] He had within the last seven weeks gone up drunk, at least twice, to a lady's drawing-room. Ante, pp. 88, note 1, and 109.

[395] Mr. Croker, though without any authority, prints unconscious.

[396] I Corinthians, ix. 27. See ante, 295.

[397] 'We walk by faith, not by sight.' 2 Corinthians, v. 7

[398] Dr. Ogden, in his second sermon On the Articles of the Christian Faith, with admirable acuteness thus addresses the opposers of that Doctrine, which accounts for the confusion, sin and misery, which we find in this life: 'It would be severe in GOD, you think, to degrade us to such a sad state as this, for the offence of our first parents: but you can allow him to place us in it without any inducement. Are our calamities lessened for not being ascribed to Adam? If your condition be unhappy, is it not still unhappy, whatever was the occasion? with the aggravation of this reflection, that if it was as good as it was at first designed, there seems to be somewhat the less reason to look for its amendment.' BOSWELL.

[399] 'Which taketh away the sin' &c. St. John, i. 29.

[400] See Boswell's Hebrides, August 22.

[401] This unfortunate person, whose full name was Thomas Fysche Palmer, afterwards went to Dundee, in Scotland, where he officiated as minister to a congregation of the sect who called themselves Unitarians, from a notion that they distinctively worship ONE GOD, because they deny the mysterious doctrine of the TRINITY. They do not advert that the great body of the Christian Church, in maintaining that mystery, maintain also the Unity of the GODHEAD; the 'TRINITY in UNITY!—three persons and ONE GOD.' The Church humbly adores the DIVINITY as exhibited in the holy Scriptures. The Unitarian sect vainly presumes to comprehend and define the ALMIGHTY. Mr. Palmer having heated his mind with political speculations, became so much dissatisfied with our excellent Constitution, as to compose, publish, and circulate writings, which were found to be so seditious and dangerous, that upon being found guilty by a Jury, the Court of Justiciary in Scotland sentenced him to transportation for fourteen years. A loud clamour against this sentence was made by some Members of both Houses of Parliament; but both Houses approved of it by a great majority; and he was conveyed to the settlement for convicts in New South Wales. BOSWELL. This note first appears in the third edition. Mr. Palmer was sentenced to seven (not fourteen) years transportation in Aug. 1793. It was his fellow prisoner, Mr. Muir, an advocate, who was sentenced to fourteen years. Ann. Reg. 1793, p. 40. When these sentences were brought before the House of Commons, Mr. Fox said that it was 'the Lord-Advocate's fervent wish that his native principles of justice should be introduced into this country; and that on the ruins of the common law of England should be erected the infamous fabric of Scottish persecution. ... If that day should ever arrive, if the tyrannical laws of Scotland should ever be introduced in opposition to the humane laws of England, it would then be high time for my hon. friends and myself to settle our affairs, and retire to some happier clime, where we might at least enjoy those rights which God has given to man, and which his nature tells him he has a right to demand.' Parl. Hist. xxx. 1563. For Unitarians, see ante, ii. 408, note I.

[402] Taken from Herodotus. [Bk. ii. ch. 104.] BOSWELL.

[403] 'The mummies,' says Blakesley, 'have straight hair, and in the paintings the Egyptians are represented as red, not black.' Ib. note.

[404] See ante, i. 441, and post, March 28, and June 3, 1782.

[405] Mr. Dawkins visited Palmyra in 1751. He had 'an escort of the Aga of Hassia's best Arab horsemen.' Johnson was perhaps astonished at the size of their caravan, 'which was increased to about 200 persons.' The writer treats the whole matter with great brevity. Wood's Ruins of Palmyra, p. 33. On their return the travellers discovered a party of Arab horsemen, who gave them an alarm. Happily these Arabs were still more afraid of them, and were at once plundered by the escort, 'who laughed at our remonstrances against their injustice.' Wood's Ruins of Balbec, p. 2.

[406] He wrote a Life of Watts, which Johnson quoted. Works, viii.


[407] See ante, iii. 422, note 6.

[408] In the first two editions formal.

[409] Johnson maintains this in The Idler, No. 74. 'Few,' he says, 'have reason to complain of nature as unkindly sparing of the gifts of memory ... The true art of memory is the art of attention.' See ante, iii. 191.

[410]The first of the definitions given by Johnson of to remember is to bear in mind anything; not to forget. To recollect he defines to recover to memory. We may, perhaps, assume that Boswell said, 'I did not recollect that the chair was broken;' and that Johnson replied, 'you mean, you did not remember. That you did not remember is your own fault. It was in your mind that it was broken, and therefore you ought to have remembered it. It was not a case of recollecting; for we recollect, that is, recover to memory, what is not in our mind.' In the passage ante, i. 112, which begins, 'I indeed doubt if he could have remembered,' we find in the first two editions not remembered, but recollected. Perhaps this change is due to euphony, as collected comes a few lines before. Horace Walpole, in one of his Letters (i. 15), distinguishes the two words, on his revisiting his old school, Eton:—'By the way, the clock strikes the old cracked sound—I recollect so much, and remember so little.'

[411] He made the same boast at St. Andrews. See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 19. He was, I believe, speaking of his translation of Courayer's Life of Paul Sarpi and Notes, of which some sheets were printed off. Ante, i. 135.

[412] Horace Walpole, after mentioning that George III's mother, who died in 1772, left but £27,000 when she was reckoned worth at least £300,000, adds:—'It is no wonder that it became the universal belief that she had wasted all on Lord Bute. This became still more probable as he had made the purchase of the estate at Luton, at the price of £114,000, before he was visibly worth £20,000; had built a palace there, another in town, and had furnished the former in the most expensive manner, bought pictures and books, and made a vast park and lake.' Journal of the Reign of George III, i. 19.

[413] To him Boswell dedicated his Thesis as excelsae familiae de Bute spei alterae (ante, ii. 20). In 1775, he wrote of him:—'He is warmly my friend and has engaged to do for me.' Letters of Boswell, p. 186

[414] He was mistaken in this. See ante, i. 260; also iii. 420.

[415] In England in like manner, and perhaps for the same reason, all Attorneys have been converted into Solicitors.

[416] 'There is at Edinburgh a society or corporation of errand boys, called Cawdies, who ply in the streets at night with paper lanthorns, and are very serviceable in carrying messages.' Humphrey Clinker. Letter of Aug. 8.

[417] Their services in this sense are noticed in the same letter.

     'The formal process shall be turned to sport,
     And you dismissed with honour by the Court.'
     FRANCIS. Horace, Satires, ii.i.86.

[419] Mr. Robertson altered this word to jocandi, he having found in Blackstone that to irritate is actionable. BOSWELL.

[420] Quoted by Johnson, ante, ii. l97.

[421] His god-daughter. See post May 10, 1784.

[422] See post, under Dec. 20, 1782

[423] See ante, i. 155

[424] The will of King Alfred, alluded to in this letter, from the original Saxon, in the library of Mr. Astle, has been printed at the expense of the University of Oxford. BOSWELL.

[425] He was a surgeon in this small Norfolk town. Dr. Burney's Memoirs, i. 106.

[426] Burney visited Johnson first in 1758, when he was living in Gough Square. Ante, i. 328.

[427] Mme. D'Arblay says that Dr. Johnson sent them to Dr. Burney's house, directed 'For the Broom Gentleman.' Dr. Burney's Memoirs, ii. 180.

[428] 'Sept. 14, 1781. Dr. Johnson has been very unwell indeed. Once I was quite frightened about him; but he continues his strange discipline—starving, mercury, opium; and though for a time half demolished by its severity, he always in the end rises superior both to the disease and the remedy, which commonly is the most alarming of the two.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 107. On Sept. 18, his birthday, he wrote:—'As I came home [from church], 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 Levett.' Pr. and Med. p. 199.

[429] This remark, I have no doubt, is aimed at Hawkins, who (Life, p. 553) pretends to account for this trip.

[430] Pr. and Med. p. 201. BOSWELL.

[431] He wrote from Lichfield on the previous Oct. 27:—'All here is gloomy; a faint struggle with the tediousness of time; a doleful confession of present misery, and the approach seen and felt of what is most dreaded and most shunned. But such is the lot of man.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 209.

[432] The truth of this has been proved by sad experience. BOSWELL. Mrs. Boswell died June 4, 1789. MALONE.

[433] See account of him in the Gent. Mag. Feb. 1785. BOSWELL, see ante, i. 243, note 3.

[434] Mrs. Piozzi (Synonymy, ii. 79), quoting this verse, under Officious, says;—'Johnson, always thinking neglect the worst misfortune that could befall a man, looked on a character of this description with less aversion than I do.'

     'Content thyself to be obscurely good.'

Addisons Cato, act. iv. sc. 4.

[436] In both editions of Sir John Hawkins's Life of Dr. Johnson, 'letter'd ignorance' is printed. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker (Boswell, p. I) says that 'Mr. Boswell is habitually unjust to Sir J. Hawkins.' As some kind of balance, I suppose, to this injustice, he suppresses this note.

[437] Johnson repeated this line to me thus:—

     'And Labour steals an hour to die.'

But he afterwards altered it to the present reading. BOSWELL. This poem is printed in the Ann. Reg. for 1783, p. 189, with the following variations:—l. 18, for 'ready help' 'useful care': l. 28, 'His single talent,' 'The single talent'; l. 33, 'no throbs of fiery pain,' 'no throbbing fiery pain'; l. 36, 'and freed,' 'and forced.' On the next page it is printed John Gilpin.

[438] Mr. Croker says that this line shows that 'some of Gray's happy expressions lingered in Johnson's memory' He quotes a line that comes at the end of the Ode on Vicissitude—'From busy day, the peaceful night.' This line is not Gray's, but Mason's.

[439] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:—'If you want events, Here is Mr. Levett just come in at fourscore from a walk to Hampstead, eight miles, in August.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 177.

[440] In the original, March 20. On the afternoon of March 20 Lord North announced in the House of Commons 'that his Majesty's Ministers were no more.' Parl. Hist. xxii. 1215.

[441] Pr. and Med. p. 209 [207]. BOSWELL.

[442] See ante, ii. 355, iii. 46, iv. 81, 100. Mr. Seward records in his Biographiana, p. 600—without however giving the year—that 'Johnson being asked what the Opposition meant by their flaming speeches and violent pamphlets against Lord North's administration, answered: "They mean, Sir, rebellion; they mean in spite to destroy that country which they are not permitted to govern."'

[443] In the previous December the City of London in an address, writes Horace Walpole, 'besought the King to remove both his public and private counsellors, and used these stunning and memorable words:—"Your armies are captured; the wonted superiority of your navies is annihilated, your dominions are lost." Words that could be used to no other King; no King had ever lost so much without losing all. If James II. lost his crown, yet the crown lost no dominions.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 483. The address is given in the Ann. Reg. xxiv. 320. On Aug. 4 of this year Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor:—'Perhaps no nation not absolutely conquered has declined so much in so short a time. We seem to be sinking. Suppose the Irish, having already gotten a free trade and an independent Parliament, should say we will have a King and ally ourselves with the House of Bourbon, what could be done to hinder or overthrow them?' Mr. Morrison's Autographs, vol. ii.

[444] In February and March, 1771, the House of Commons ordered eight printers to attend at the bar on a charge of breach of privilege, in publishing reports of debates. One of the eight, Miller of the Evening Post, when the messenger of the House tried to arrest him, gave the man himself into custody on a charge of assault. The messenger was brought before Lord Mayor Crosby and Aldermen Wilkes and Oliver, and a warrant was made out for his commitment. Bail was thereupon offered and accepted for his appearance at the next sessions. The Lord Mayor and Oliver were sent to the Tower by the House. Wilkes was ordered to appear on April 8; but the Ministry, not daring to face his appearance, adjourned the House till the 9th. A committee was appointed by ballot to inquire into the late obstructions to the execution of the orders of the House. It recommended the consideration of the expediency of the House ordering that Miller should be taken into custody. The report, when read, was received with a roar of laughter. Nothing was done. Such was, to quote the words of Burke in the Annual Register (xiv. 70), 'the miserable result of all the pretended vigour of the Ministry.' See Parl. Hist. xvii. 58, 186.

[445] Lord Cornwallis's army surrendered at York Town, five days before Sir Henry Clinton's fleet and army arrived off the Chesapeak. Ann. Reg. xxiv. 136.

[446] Johnson wrote on March 30:—'The men have got in whom I have endeavoured to keep out; but I hope they will do better than their predecessors; it will not be easy to do worse.' Croker's Boswell, p. 706.

[447] This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley, &c. Mr. Thomas Warton's very able Inquiry appeared about three months afterwards; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable Vindication of his Appendix in the summer of the same hear, left the believers in this daring imposture nothing but 'the resolution to say again what had been said before.' MALONE.

[448] Pr. and Med. p. 207. BOSWELL.

[449] He addressed to him an Ode in Latin, entitled Ad Thomam Laurence, medicum doctissimum, quum filium peregre agentem desiderio nimis tristi prosequeretur. Works, i. 165.

[450] Mr. Holder, in the Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary. BOSWELL.

[451] 'Johnson should rather have written "imperatum est." But the meaning of the words is perfectly clear. "If you say yes, the messenger has orders to bring Holder to me." Mr. Croker translates the words as follows:-"If you consent, pray tell the messenger to bring Holder to me." If Mr. Croker is resolved to write on points of classical learning, we would advise him to begin by giving an hour every morning to our old friend Corderius.' Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843, i 366. In The Answers to Mr. Macaulay's Criticism, prefixed to Croker's Boswell, p. 13, it is suggested that Johnson wrote either imperetur or imperator. The letter may be translated: 'A fresh chill, a fresh cough, and a fresh difficulty in breathing call for a fresh letting of blood. Without your advice, however, I would not submit to the operation. I cannot well come to you, nor need you come to me. Say yes or no in one word, and leave the rest to Holder and to me. If you say yes, let the messenger be bidden (imperetur) to bring Holder to me. May 1, 1782. When you have left, whither shall I turn?'

[452] Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, but not before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to write for himself. The folio wing are extracts from letters addressed by Dr. Johnson to one of his daughters:—

'You will easily believe with what gladness I read that you had heard once again that voice to which we have all so often delighted to attend. May you often hear it. If we had his mind, and his tongue, we could spare the rest.

'I am not vigorous, but much better than when dear Dr. Lawrence held my pulse the last time. Be so kind as to let me know, from one little interval to another, the state of his body. I am pleased that he remembers me, and hope that it never can be possible for me to forget him. July 22, 1782.'

'I am much delighted even with the small advances which dear Dr. Lawrence makes towards recovery. If we could have again but his mind, and his tongue in his mind, and his right hand, we should not much lament the rest. I should not despair of helping the swelled hand by electricity, if it were frequently and diligently supplied.

'Let me know from time to time whatever happens; and I hope I need not tell you, how much I am interested in every change. Aug. 26, 1782.'

'Though the account with which you favoured me in your last letter could not give me the pleasure that I wished, yet I was glad to receive it; for my affection to my dear friend makes me desirous of knowing his state, whatever it be. I beg, therefore, that you continue to let me know, from time to time, all that you observe.

'Many fits of severe illness have, for about three months past, forced my kind physician often upon my mind. I am now better; and hope gratitude, as well as distress, can be a motive to remembrance. Bolt-court, Fleet-street, Feb. 4, 1783.' BOSWELL.

[453] Mr. Langton being at this time on duty at Rochester, he is addressed by his military title. BOSWELL.

[454] Eight days later he recorded:—'I have in ten days written to Aston, Lucy, Hector, Langton, Boswell; perhaps to all by whom my letters are desired.' Pr. and Med. 209. He had written also to Mrs. Thrale, but her affection, it should seem from this, he was beginning to doubt.

[455] See ante, p. 84.

[456] See ante, i. 247.

[457] See post, p. 158, note 4.

[458] Johnson has here expressed a sentiment similar to that contained in one of Shenstone's stanzas, to which, in his life of that poet, he has given high praise:—

     'I prized every hour that went by,
     Beyond all that had pleased me before;
     But now they are gone [past] and I sigh,
     I grieve that I prized them no more.'

[459] She was his god-daughter. See post, May 10, 1784.

[460] 'Dr. Johnson gave a very droll account of the children of Mr. Langton, "who," he said, "might be very good children, if they were let alone; but the father is never easy when he is not making them do something which they cannot do; they must repeat a fable, or a speech, or the Hebrew alphabet, and they might as well count twenty for what they know of the matter; however, the father says half, for he prompts every other word."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 73. See ante, p. 20, note 2.

[461] A part of this letter having been torn off, I have, from the evident meaning, supplied a few words and half-words at the ends and beginnings of lines. BOSWELL.

[462] See vol. ii. p. 459. BOSWELL. She was Hector's widowed sister, and Johnson's first love. In the previous October, writing of a visit to Birmingham, he said:—'Mrs. Careless took me under her care, and told me when I had tea enough.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 205.

[463] This letter cannot belong to this year. In it Johnson says of his health, 'at least it is not worse.' But 1782 found him in very bad health; he passed almost the whole of the year 'in a succession of disorders' (post, p. 156). What he says of friendship renders it almost certain that the letter was written while he had still Thrale; and him he lost in April, 1781. Had it been written after June, 1779, but before Thrale's death, the account given of health would have been even better than it is (ante, iii. 397). It belongs perhaps to the year 1777 or 1778.

[464] 'To a man who has survived all the companions of his youth ... this full-peopled world is a dismal solitude.' Rambler, No. 69.

[465] See ante, i. 63.

[466] They met on these days in the years 1772, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 81, and


[467] The ministry had resigned on the 20th. Ante, p. 139, note 1.

[468] Thirty-two years earlier he wrote in The Rambler, No. 53:-'In the prospect of poverty there is nothing but gloom and melancholy; the mind and body suffer together; its miseries bring no alleviation; it is a state in which every virtue is obscured, and in which no conduct can avoid reproach.' And again in No. 57:—'The prospect of penury in age is so gloomy and terrifying, that every man who looks before him must resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided generally by the science of sparing.' See ante. 441.

[469] See ante, p. 128.

[470] Hannah More wrote in April of this year (Memoirs, i. 249):—'Poor Johnson is in a bad state of health. I fear his constitution is broken up.' (Yet in one week he dined out four times. Piozzi Letters, ii. 237.) At one of these dinners, 'I urged him,' she continues (ib. p. 251) 'to take a little wine. He replied, "I can't drink a little, child; therefore, I never touch it. Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult." He was very good-humoured and gay. One of the company happened to say a word about poetry, "Hush, hush," said he, "it is dangerous to say a word of poetry before her; it is talking of the art of war before Hannibal."'

[471] This book was published in 1781, and, according to Lowndes, reached its seventh edition by 1787. See ante, i. 214.

[472] The clergyman's letter was dated May 4. Gent. Mag. 1786, p. 93. Johnson is explaining the reason of his delay in acknowledging it.

[473] What follows appeared in the Morning Chronicle of May 29, 1782:—'A correspondent having mentioned, in the Morning Chronicle of December 12, the last clause of the following paragraph, as seeming to favour suicide; we are requested to print the whole passage, that its true meaning may appear, which is not to recommend suicide but exercise.

'Exercise cannot secure us from that dissolution to which we are decreed: but while the soul and body continue united, it can make the association pleasing, and give probable hopes that they shall be disjoined by an easy separation. It was a principle among the ancients, that acute diseases are from Heaven, and chronical from ourselves; the dart of death, indeed, falls from Heaven, but we poison it by our own misconduct: to die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish is generally his folly.' [The Rambler, No. 85.] BOSWELL.

[474] The Correspondence may be seen at length in the Gent. Mag. Feb. 1786. BOSWELL. Johnson, advising Dr. Taylor 'to take as much exercise as he can bear,' says:-'I take the true definition of exercise to be labour without weariness.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 461.

[475] Here he met Hannah More. 'You cannot imagine,' she writes (Memoirs, i. 261), 'with what delight he showed me every part of his own college. Dr. Adams had contrived a very pretty piece of gallantry. We spent the day and evening at his house. After dinner, Johnson begged to conduct me to see the College; he would let no one show it me but himself. "This was my room; this Shenstone's." Then, after pointing out all the rooms of the poets who had been of his college, "In short," said he, "we were a nest of singing-birds." When we came into the common-room, we spied a fine large print of Johnson, hung up that very morning, with this motto:—And is not Johnson ours, himself a host? Under which stared you in the face—From Miss More's "Sensibility." This little incident amused us; but, alas! Johnson looks very ill indeed—spiritless and wan. However, he made an effort to be cheerful.' Miss Adams wrote on June 14, 1782:—'On Wednesday we had here a delightful blue-stocking party. Dr. and Mrs. Kennicott and Miss More, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Henderson, &c., dined here. Poor Dr. Johnson is in very bad health, but he exerted himself as much as he could, and being very fond of Miss More, he talked a good deal, and every word he says is worth recording. He took great delight in showing Miss More every part of Pembroke College, and his own rooms, &c., and told us many things about himself when here. .. June 19, 1782. We dined yesterday for the last time in the company with Dr. Johnson; he went away to-day. A warm dispute arose; it was about cider or wine freezing, and all the spirit retreating to the center.' Pemb. Coll. MSS.

[476] 'I never retired to rest without feeling the justness of the Spanish proverb, "Let him who sleeps too much borrow the pillow of a debtor."' Johnson's Works, iv. 14.

[477] See ante, i. 441.

[478] Which I celebrated in the Church of England chapel at Edinburgh, founded by Lord Chief Baron Smith, of respectable and pious memory. BOSWELL.

[479] See ante, p. 80.

[480] The Reverend Mr. Temple, Vicar of St. Gluvias, Cornwall. BOSWELL. See ante, i. 436, and ii. 316.

[481] 'He had settled on his eldest son,' says Dr. Rogers (Boswelliana, p. 129), 'the ancestral estate, with an unencumbered rental of £l,600 a year.' That the rental, whatever it was, was not unencumbered is shewn by the passage from Johnson's letter, post, p. 155, note 4. Boswell wrote to Malone in 1791 (Croker's Boswell, p. 828):—'The clear money on which I can reckon out of my estate is scarcely £900 a year.'

[482] Cowley's Ode to Liberty, Stanza vi.

[483] 'I do beseech all the succeeding heirs of entail,' wrote Boswell in his will, 'to be kind to the tenants, and not to turn out old possessors to get a little more rent.' Rogers's Boswelliana, p. 186.

[484] Macleod, the Laird of Rasay. See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 8.

[485] A farm in the Isle of Skye, where Johnson wrote his Latin Ode to Mrs. Thrale. Ib. Sept. 6.

[486] Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor on Oct. 4:—'Boswel's (sic) father is dead, and Boswel wrote me word that he would come to London for my advice. [The] advice which I sent him is to stay at home, and [busy] himself with his own affairs. He has a good es[tate], considerably burthened by settlements, and he is himself in debt. But if his wife lives, I think he will be prudent.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 462.

[487] Miss Burney wrote in the first week in December:—'Dr. Johnson was in most excellent good humour and spirits.' She describes later on a brilliant party which he attended at Miss Monckton's on the 8th, where the people were 'superbly dressed,' and where he was 'environed with listeners.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 186, and 190. See ante, p. 108, note 4.

[488] See ante,, iii. 337, where Johnson got 'heated' when Boswell maintained this.

[489] See ante, in. 395.

[490] The greatest part of the copy, or manuscript of The Lives of the Poets had been given by Johnson to Boswell (ante, iv. 36).

[491] Of her twelve children but these three were living. She was forty-one years old.

[492] 'The family,' writes Dr. Burney, 'lived in the library, which used to be the parlour. There they breakfasted. Over the bookcases were hung Sir Joshua's portraits of Mr. Thrale's friends—Baretti, Burke, Burney, Chambers, Garrick, Goldsmith, Johnson, Murphy, Reynolds, Lord Sandys, Lord Westcote, and in the same picture Mrs. Thrale and her eldest daughter.' Mr. Thrale's portrait was also there. Dr. Burney's Memoirs, ii. 80, and Prior's Malone, p. 259.

[493] Pr. and Med. p. 214. BOSWELL.

[494] Boswell omits a line that follows this prayer:—'O Lord, so far as, &c.,—Thrale.' This means, I think, 'so far as it might be lawful, I prayed for Thrale.' The following day Johnson entered:—'I was called early. I packed up my bundles, and used the foregoing prayer with my morning devotions, somewhat, I think, enlarged. Being earlier than the family, I read St. Paul's farewell in the Acts [xx. 17-end], and then read fortuitously in the gospels, which was my parting use of the library.'

[495] Johnson, no doubt, was leaving Streatham because Mrs. Thrale was leaving it. 'Streatham,' wrote Miss Burney, on Aug. 12 of this year, 'my other home, and the place where I have long thought my residence dependent only on my own pleasure, is already let for three years to Lord Shelburne.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii.151. Johnson was not yet leaving the Thrale family, for he joined them at Brighton, and he was living with them the following spring in Argyll-street. Nevertheless, if, as all Mrs. Thrale's friends strongly held, her second marriage was blameworthy, Boswell's remark admits of defence. Miss Burney in her diary and letters keeps the secret which Mrs. Thrale had confided to her of her attachment to Mr. Piozzi; but in the Memoirs of Dr. Burney, which, as Mme. D'Arblay, she wrote long afterwards, she leaves little doubt that Streatham was given up as a step towards the second marriage. In 1782, on a visit there, she found that her father 'and all others—Dr. Johnson not excepted—were cast into the same gulf of general neglect. As Mrs. Thrale became more and more dissatisfied with her own situation, and impatient for its relief, she slighted Johnson's counsel, and avoided his society.' Mme. D'Arblay describes a striking scene in which her father, utterly puzzled by 'sad and altered Streatham,' left it one day with tears in his eyes. Another day, Johnson accompanied her to London. 'His look was stern, though dejected, but when his eye, which, however shortsighted, was quick to mental perception, saw how ill at ease she appeared, all sternness subsided into an undisguised expression of the strongest emotion, while, with a shaking hand and pointing finger, he directed her looks to the mansion from which they were driving; and when they faced it from the coach-window, as they turned into Streatham Common, tremulously exclaimed, "That house lost to me... for ever."' Johnson's letter to Langton of March 20, 1782 (ante, p. 145), in which he says that he was 'musing in his chamber at Mrs. Thrale's,' shews that so early as that date he foresaw that a change was coming. Boswell's statement that 'Mrs. Thrale became less assiduous to please Johnson,' might have been far more strongly worded. See Dr. Burney's Memoirs, ii. 243-253. Lord Shelburne, who as Prime Minister was negotiating peace with the United States, France, and Spain, hired Mrs. Thrale's house 'in order to be constantly near London.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, iii. 242.

[496] Mr. Croker quotes the following from the Rose MSS.:—'Oct. 6, Die Dominica, 1782. Pransus sum Streathamiae agninum crus coctum cum herbis (spinach) comminutis, farcimen farinaceum cum uvis passis, lumbos bovillos, et pullum gallinae: Turcicae; et post carnes missas, ficus, uvas, non admodum maturas, ita voluit anni intemperies, cum malis Persicis, iis tamen duris. Non laetus accubui, cibum modicè sumpsi, ne intemperantiâ ad extremum peccaretur. Si recte memini, in mentem venerunt epulae in exequiis Hadoni celebratae. Streathamiam quando revisam?'

[497] 'Mr. Metcalfe is much with Dr. Johnson, but seems to have taken an unaccountable dislike to Mrs. Thrale, to whom he never speaks.... He is a shrewd, sensible, keen, and very clever man.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 172, 174. He, Burke, and Malone were Sir Joshua's executors. Northcote's Reynolds, ii. 293.

[498] Boswell should have shown, for he must have known it, that Johnson was Mrs. Thrale's guest at Brighton. Miss Burney was also of the party. Her account of him is a melancholy one:—'Oct. 28. Dr. Johnson accompanied us to a ball, to the universal amazement of all who saw him there; but he said he had found it so dull being quite alone the preceding evening, that he determined upon going with us; "for," said he, "it cannot be worse than being alone."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 161. 'Oct. 29. Mr. Pepys joined Dr. Johnson, with whom he entered into an argument, in which he was so roughly confuted, and so severely ridiculed, that he was hurt and piqued beyond all power of disguise, and, in the midst of the discourse, suddenly turned from him, and, wishing Mrs. Thrale goodnight, very abruptly withdrew. Dr. Johnson was certainly right with respect to the argument and to reason; but his opposition was so warm, and his wit so satirical and exulting, that I was really quite grieved to see how unamiable he appeared, and how greatly he made himself dreaded by all, and by many abhorred.' Ib. p. 163. 'Oct. 30. In the evening we all went to Mrs. Hatsel's. Dr. Johnson was not invited.' Ib. p. 165. 'Oct. 31. A note came to invite us all, except Dr. Johnson, to Lady Rothes's.' Ib. p. 168. 'Nov. 2. We went to Lady Shelley's. Dr. Johnson again excepted in the invitation. He is almost constantly omitted, either from too much respect or too much fear. I am sorry for it, as he hates being alone.' Ib. p. 160. 'Nov. 7. Mr. Metcalfe called upon Dr. Johnson, and took him out an airing. Mr. Hamilton is gone, and Mr. Metcalfe is now the only person out of this house that voluntarily communicates with the Doctor. He has been in a terrible severe humour of late, and has really frightened all the people, till they almost ran from him. To me only I think he is now kind, for Mrs. Thrale fares worse than anybody.' Ib. p. 177.

[499] '"Dr. Johnson has asked me," said Mr. Metcalfe, "to go with him to Chichester, to see the cathedral, and I told him I would certainly go if he pleased; but why I cannot imagine, for how shall a blind man see a cathedral?" "I believe," quoth I [i.e. Miss Burney] "his blindness is as much the effect of absence as of infirmity, for he sees wonderfully at times."' Ib. p. 174. For Johnson's eyesight, see ante, i. 41.

[500] The second letter is dated the 28th. Johnson says:—'I have looked often,' &c.; but he does not say 'he has been much informed,' but only 'informed.' Both letters are in the Gent. Mag. 1784, p. 893.

[501] The reference is to Rawlinson's MS. collections for a continuation of Wood's Athenae (Macray's Annals of the Bodleian, p. 181).

[502] Jortin's sermons are described by Johnson as 'very elegant.' Ante, in. 248. He and Thirlby are mentioned by him in the Life of Pope. Works, viii. 254.

[503] Markland was born 1693, died 1776. His notes on some of Euripides' Plays were published at the expense of Dr. Heberden. Markland had previously destroyed a great many other notes; writing in 1764 he said:—'Probably it will be a long time (if ever) before this sort of learning will revive in England; in which it is easy to foresee that there must be a disturbance in a few years, and all public disorders are enemies to this sort of literature.' Gent. Mag. 1778, P. 3l0. 'I remember,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 252), 'when lamentation was made of the neglect shown to Jeremiah Markland, a great philologist, as some one ventured to call him: "He is a scholar undoubtedly, Sir," replied Dr. Johnson, "but remember that he would run from the world, and that it is not the world's business to run after him. I hate a fellow whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness drives into a corner, and [who] does nothing when he is there but sit and growl; let him come out as I do, and bark"' A brief account of him is given in the Ann. Reg. xix. 45.

[504] Nichols published in 1784 a brief account of Thirlby, nearly half of it being written by Johnson. Thirlby was born in 1692 and died in 1753. 'His versatility led him to try the round of what are called the learned professions.' His life was marred by drink and insolence.' His mind seems to have been tumultuous and desultory, and he was glad to catch any employment that might produce attention without anxiety; such employment, as Dr. Battie has observed, is necessary for madmen.' Gent. Mag. 1784, pp. 260, 893.

[505] He was attacked, says Northcote (Life of Reynolds, ii. 131), 'by a slight paralytic affection, after an almost uninterrupted course of good health for many years.' Miss Burney wrote on Dec. 28 to one of her sisters:—'How can you wish any wishes [matrimonial wishes] about Sir Joshua and me? A man who has had two shakes of the palsy!' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 218.

[506] Dr. Patten in Sept. 1781 (Croker's Boswell, p. 699) informed Johnson of Wilson's intended dedication. Johnson, in his reply, said:—'What will the world do but look on and laugh when one scholar dedicates to another?'

[507] On the same day he wrote to Dr. Taylor:-'This, my dear Sir, is the last day of a very sickly and melancholy year. Join your prayers with mine, that the next may be more happy to us both. I hope the happiness which I have not found in this world will by infinite mercy be granted in another.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 462.

[508] 'Jan. 4, 1783. Dr. Johnson came so very late that we had all given him up; he was very ill, and only from an extreme of kindness did he come at all. When I went up to him to tell how sorry I was to find him so unwell, "Ah," he cried, taking my hand and kissing it, "who shall ail anything when Cecilia is so near? Yet you do not think how poorly I am."

All dinner time he hardly opened his mouth but to repeat to me:—"Ah! you little know how ill I am." He was excessively kind to me in spite of all his pain.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 228. Cecilia was the name of her second novel (post, May 26, 1783). On Jan. 10 he thus ended a letter to Mr. Nichols:—'Now I will put you in a way of shewing me more kindness. I have been confined by ilness (sic) a long time, and sickness and solitude make tedious evenings. Come sometimes and see, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


MS. in the British Museum.

[509] 'Dr. Johnson found here [at Auchinleck] Baxter's Anacreon, which he told me he had long inquired for in vain, and began to suspect there was no such book.' Boswell's Hebrides, Nov.2. See post, under Sept. 29, 1783.

[510] 'The delight which men have in popularity, fame, honour, submission, and subjection of other men's minds, wills, or affections, although these things may be desired for other ends, seemeth to be a thing in itself, without contemplation of consequence, grateful and agreeable to the nature of man.' Bacon's Nat. Hist. Exper. No. 1000. See ante, ii. 178.

[511] In a letter to Dr. Taylor on Jan. 21 of this year, he attacked the scheme of equal representation.' Pitt, on May 7, 1782, made his first reform motion. Johnson thus ended his letter:—'If the scheme were more reasonable, this is not a time for innovation. I am afraid of a civil war. The business of every wise man seems to be now to keep his ground.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 481.

[512] See ante, i. 429, post, 170, and Boswell's Hebrides, Sept.


[513] The year after this conversation the General Election of 1784 was held, which followed on the overthrow of the Coalition Ministry and the formation of the Pitt Ministry in December, 1783. The 'King's friends' were in a minority of one in the last great division in the old Parliament; in the motion on the Address in the new Parliament they had a majority of 168. Parl. Hist. xxiv. 744, 843. Miss Burney, writing in Nov. 1788, when the King was mad, says that one of his physicians 'moved me even to tears by telling me that none of their own lives would be safe if the King did not recover, so prodigiously high ran the tide of affection and loyalty. All the physicians received threatening letters daily, to answer for the safety of their monarch with their lives! Sir G. Baker had already been stopped in his carriage by the mob, to give an account of the King; and when he said it was a bad one, they had furiously exclaimed, "The more shame for you."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, iv. 336. Describing in 1789 a Royal tour in the West of England, she writes of 'the crowds, the rejoicings, the hallooing and singing, and garlanding and decorating of all the inhabitants of this old city [Exeter], and of all the country through which we passed.' Ib. v. 48.

[514] Miss Palmer, Sir Joshua's niece, 'heard Dr. Johnson repeat these verses with the tears falling over his cheek.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 417.

[515] Gibbon remarked that 'Mr. Fox was certainly very shy of saying anything in Johnson's presence.' Ante, iii. 267. See post, under June 9, 1784, where Johnson said 'Fox is my friend.'

[516] Mr. Greville (Journal, ed. 1874, ii. 316) records the following on the authority of Lord Holland:—'Johnson liked Fox because he defended his pension, and said it was only to blame in not being large enough. "Fox," he said, is a liberal man; he would always be aut Caesar aut nullus; whenever I have seen him he has been nullus. Lord Holland said Fox made it a rule never to talk in Johnson's presence, because he knew all his conversations were recorded for publication, and he did not choose to figure in them.' Fox could not have known what was not the fact. When Boswell was by, he had reason for his silence; but otherwise he might have spoken out. 'Mr. Fox,' writes Mackintosh (Life, i. 322) 'united, in a most remarkable degree, the seemingly repugnant characters of the mildest of men and the most vehement of orators. In private life he was so averse from parade and dogmatism as to be somewhat inactive in conversation.' Gibbon (Misc. Works, i. 283) tells how Fox spent a day with him at Lausanne:—'Perhaps it never can happen again, that I should enjoy him as I did that day, alone from ten in the morning till ten at night. Our conversation never flagged a moment.' 'In London mixed society,' said Rogers (Table-Talk, p. 74), 'Fox conversed little; but at his own house in the country, with his intimate friends, he would talk on for ever, with all the openness and simplicity of a child.'

[517] Sec ante, ii. 450.

[518] Most likely 'Old Mr. Sheridan.'

[519] See ante, ii. 166.

[520] Were I to insert all the stories which have been told of contests boldly maintained with him, imaginary victories obtained over him, of reducing him to silence, and of making him own that his antagonist had the better of him in argument, my volumes would swell to an immoderate size. One instance, I find, has circulated both in conversation and in print; that when he would not allow the Scotch writers to have merit, the late Dr. Rose, of Chiswick, asserted, that he could name one Scotch writer, whom Dr. Johnson himself would allow to have written better than any man of the age; and upon Johnson's asking who it was, answered, 'Lord Bute, when he signed the warrant for your pension.' Upon which Johnson, struck with the repartee, acknowledged that this was true. When I mentioned it to Johnson, 'Sir, (said he,) if Rose said this, I never heard it.' BOSWELL.

[521] This reflection was very natural in a man of a good heart, who was not conscious of any ill-will to mankind, though the sharp sayings which were sometimes produced by his discrimination and vivacity, which he perhaps did not recollect, were, I am afraid, too often remembered with resentment. BOSWELL. When, three months later on, he was struck with palsy, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:—'I have in this still scene of life great comfort in reflecting that I have given very few reason to hate me. I hope scarcely any man has known me closely but for his benefit, or cursorily but to his innocent entertainment. Tell me, you that know me best, whether this be true, that according to your answer I may continue my practice, or try to mend it.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 287. See post, May 19, 1784. Passages such as the two following might have shewn him why he had enemies. 'For roughness, it is a needless cause of discontent; severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate.' Bacon's Essays, No. xi. ''Tis possible that men may be as oppressive by their parts as their power.' The Government of the Tongue, sect. vii. See ante, i. 388, note 2.

[522] 'A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.' Ante, i. 294. Stockdale records (Memoirs, ii. 191) that he heard a Scotch lady, after quoting this definition, say to Johnson, 'I can assure you that in Scotland we give oats to our horses as well as you do to yours in England.' He replied:—'I am very glad, Madam, to find that you treat your horses as well as you treat yourselves.'

[523] Sir Joshua Reynolds wrote:—'The prejudices he had to countries did not extend to individuals. The chief prejudice in which he indulged himself was against Scotland, though he had the most cordial friendship with individuals. This he used to vindicate as a duty. ... Against the Irish he entertained no prejudice; he thought they united themselves very well with us; but the Scotch, when in England, united and made a party by employing only Scotch servants and Scotch tradesmen. He held it right for Englishmen to oppose a party against them.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 460. See ante, ii. 242, 306, and Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 20.

[524] Ante, ii. 300.

[525] Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 85) says that 'Dr. Johnson, commonly spending the middle of the week at our house, kept his numerous family in Fleet-street upon a settled allowance; but returned to them every Saturday to give them three good dinners and his company, before he came back to us on the Monday night.'

[526] Lord North's Ministry lasted from 1770, to March, 1782. It was followed by the Rockingham Ministry, and the Shelburne Ministry, which in its turn was at this very time giving way to the Coalition Ministry, to be followed very soon by the Pitt Ministry.

[527] I have, in my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides [p. 200, Sept. 13], fully expressed my sentiments upon this subject. The Revolution was necessary, but not a subject for glory; because it for a long time blasted the generous feelings of Loyalty. And now, when by the benignant effect of time the present Royal Family are established in our affections, how unwise it is to revive by celebrations the memory of a shock, which it would surely have been better that our constitution had not required. BOSWELL. See ante, iii. 3, and iv. 40, note 4.

[528] Johnson reviewed this book in 1756. Ante, i. 309.

[529] Johnson, four months later, wrote to one of Mrs. Thrale's daughters:—'Never think, my sweet, that you have arithmetick enough; when you have exhausted your master, buy books. ... A thousand stories which the ignorant tell and believe die away at once when the computist takes them in his gripe.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 296. See post, April 18, 1783.

[530] See ante, p. 116; also iii. 310, where he bore the same topic impatiently when with Dr. Scott.

[531] See ante, ii. 357.

     'See nations, slowly wise and meanly just,
     To buried merit raise the tardy bust.'
     Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes.

[533] He was perhaps, thinking of Markland. Ante, p. 161, note 3.

[534] 'Dr. Johnson,' writes Mrs. Piozzi, 'was no complainer of ill-usage. I never heard him even lament the disregard shown to Irene.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 386. See ante, i. 200.

[535] Letter to the People of Scotland against the attempt to diminish the number of the Lords of Session, 1785. BOSWELL. 'By Mr. Burke's removal from office the King's administration was deprived of the assistance of that affluent mind, which is so universally rich that, as long as British literature and British politicks shall endure, it will be said of Edmund Burke, Regum equabat [sic] opes animis.' p.71.

[536] Georgics, iv. 132.

[537] See ante, iii. 56, note 2.

[538] Very likely Boswell.

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

[540] Johnson had said:—'Lord Chesterfield is the proudest man this day existing.' Ante, i. 265.

[541] Lord Shelburne. At this time he was merely holding office till a new Ministry was formed. On April 5 he was succeeded by the Duke of Portland. His 'coarse manners' were due to a neglected childhood. In the fragment of his Autobiography he describes 'the domestic brutality and ill-usage he experienced at home,' in the South of Ireland. 'It cost me,' he continues, 'more to unlearn the habits, manners, and principles which I then imbibed, than would have served to qualify me for any rôle whatever through life.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 12, 16.

[542] Bentham, it is reported, said of of him that 'alone of his own time, he was a "Minister who did not fear the people."' Ib. iii. 572.

[543] Malagrida, a Jesuit, was put to death at Lisbon in 1761, nominally on a charge of heresy, but in reality on a suspicion of his having sanctioned, as confessor to one of the conspirators, an attempt to assassinate King Joseph of Portugal. Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XV, ch. xxxviii. 'His name,' writes Wraxall (Memoirs, ed. 1815, i. 67), 'is become proverbial among us to express duplicity.' It was first applied to Lord Shelburne in a squib attributed to Wilkes, which contained a vision of a masquerade. The writer, after describing him as masquerading as 'the heir apparent of Loyola and all the College,' continues:—'A little more of the devil, my Lord, if you please, about the eyebrows; that's enough, a perfect Malagrida, I protest.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, ii. 164. 'George III. habitually spoke of Shelburne as "Malagrida," and the "Jesuit of Berkeley Square."' Ib. iii. 8. The charge of duplicity was first made against Shelburne on the retirement of Fox (the first Lord Holland) in 1763. 'It was the tradition of Holland House that Bute justified the conduct of Shelburne, by telling Fox that it was "a pious fraud." "I can see the fraud plainly enough," is said to have been Fox's retort, "but where is the piety?"' Ib. i. 226. Any one who has examined Reynolds's picture of Shelburne, especially 'about the eyebrows,' at once sees how the name of Jesuit was given.

[544] Beauclerk wrote to Lord Charlemont on Nov. 20, 1773:-'Goldsmith the other day put a paragraph into the newspapers in praise of Lord Mayor Townshend. [Shelburne supported Townshend in opposition to Wilkes in the election of the Lord Mayor. Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, ii. 287.] The same night we happened to sit next to Lord Shelburne at Drury Lane. I mentioned the circumstance of the paragraph to him; he said to Goldsmith that he hoped that he had mentioned nothing about Malagrida in it. "Do you know," answered Goldsmith, "that I never could conceive the reason why they call you Malagrida, for Malagrida was a very good sort of man." You see plainly what he meant to say, but that happy turn of expression is peculiar to himself. Mr. Walpole says that this story is a picture of Goldsmith's whole life.' Life of Charlemont, i. 344.

[545] Most likely Reynolds, who introduced Crabbe to Johnson. Crabbe's Works, ed. 1834, ii. 11.

        'I paint the cot,
     As truth will paint it, and as Bards will not.
     Nor you, ye Poor, of lettered scorn complain,
     To you the smoothest song is smooth in vain;
     O'ercome by labour, and bowed down by time,
     Feel you the barren flattery of a rhyme?
     Can poets soothe you, when you pine for bread,
     By winding myrtles round your ruined shed?
     Can their light tales your weighty griefs o'erpower,
     Or glad with airy mirth the toilsome hour?'
     The Village, book i.

See Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 6.

[547] I shall give an instance, marking the original by Roman, and Johnson's substitution in Italick characters:—

     'In fairer scenes, where peaceful pleasures spring,
     Tityrus, the pride of Mantuan swains, might sing:
     But charmed by him, or smitten with his views,
     Shall modern poets court the Mantuan muse?
     From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray,
     Where Fancy leads, or Virgil led the way?'
     'On Mincio's banks, in Caesar's bounteous reign,
     If Tityrus found the golden age again,
     Must sleepy bards the flattering dream prolong,
     Mechanick echoes of the Mantuan song?
     From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray,
     Where Virgil, not where Fancy, leads the way?.

Here we find Johnson's poetical and critical powers undiminished. I must, however, observe, that the aids he gave to this poem, as to The Traveller and Deserted Village of Goldsmith, were so small as by no means to impair the distinguished merit of the authour. BOSWELL.

[548] In the Gent. Mag. 1763, pp. 602, 633, is a review of his Observations on Diseases of the Army. He says that the register of deaths of military men proves that more than eight times as many men fall by what was called the gaol fever as by battle. His suggestions are eminently wise. Lord Seaford, in 1835, told Leslie 'that he remembered dining in company with Dr. Johnson at Dr. Brocklesby's, when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen. He was impressed with the superiority of Johnson, and his knocking everybody down in argument.' C.R. Leslie's Recollections, i. 146.

[549] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 28.

[550] See ante, i. 433, and ii. 217, 358.

[551] "In his Life of Swift (Works, viii. 205) he thus speaks of this Journal:-'In the midst of his power and his politicks, he kept a journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with ministers, and quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befell him was interesting, and no accounts could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the presence of the dean, may be reasonably doubted: they have, however, some odd attraction: the reader, finding frequent mention of names which he has been used to consider as important, goes on in hope of information; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention, if he is disappointed, he can hardly complain.'"

[552] On his fifty-fifth birthday he recorded:—'I resolve to keep a journal both of employment and of expenses. To keep accounts.' Pr. and Med. 59. See post, Aug. 25, 1784, where he writes to Langton:—'I am a little angry at you for not keeping minutes of your own acceptum et expensum, and think a little time might be spared from Aristophanes for the res familiares.'

[553] This Mr. Chalmers thought was George Steevens. CROKER. D'Israeli (Curiosities of Literature, ed. 1834, vi. 76) describes Steevens as guilty of 'an unparalleled series of arch deception and malicious ingenuity.' He gives curious instances of his literary impostures. See ante, iii. 281, and post, May 15, 1784.

[554] If this be Lord Mansfield, Boswell must use late in the sense of in retirement; for Mansfield was living when the Life of Johnson was published. He retired in 1788. Johnson in 1772, said that he had never been in his company (ante, ii. 158). The fact that Mansfield is mentioned in the previous paragraph adds to the probability that he is meant.

[555] See ante, ii. 318.

[556] In Scotland, Johnson spoke of Mansfield's 'splendid talents.' Boswell's Hebrides, under Nov. 11.

[557] 'I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.' 2 Henry IV, act i. sc. 2.

[558] Knowing as well as I do what precision and elegance of oratory his Lordship can display, I cannot but suspect that his unfavourable appearance in a social circle, which drew such animadversions upon him, must be owing to a cold affectation of consequence, from being reserved and stiff. If it be so, and he might be an agreeable man if he would, we cannot be sorry that he misses his aim. BOSWELL. Wedderburne, afterwards Lord Loughborough, is mentioned (ante, ii. 374), and again in Murphy's Life of Johnson, p. 43, as being in company with Johnson and Foote. Boswell also has before (ante, i. 387) praised the elegance of his oratory. Henry Mackenzie (Life of John Home, i. 56) says that Wedderburne belonged to a club at the British Coffee-house, of which Garrick, Smollett, and Dr. Douglas were members.

[559] Boswell informed the people of Scotland in the Letter that he addressed to them in 1785 (p. 29), that 'now that Dr. Johnson is gone to a better world, he (Boswell) bowed the intellectual knee to Lord Thurlow.' See post, June 22, 1784.

[560] Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 27.

     'Charged with light summer-rings his fingers sweat,
      Unable to support a gem of weight.'
     DRYDEN. Juvenal, Satires, i. 29.

[562] He had published a series of seventy Essays under the title of The Hypochondriack in the London Magazine from 1777 to 1783.

[563] Juvenal, Satires, x. 365. The common reading, however, is 'Nullum numen habes,' &c. Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 218) records this saying, but with a variation. '"For," says Mr. Johnson, "though I do not quite agree with the proverb, that Nullum numen adest si sit prudentia, yet we may very well say, that Nullum numen adest, ni sit prudentia."'

[564] It has since appeared. BOSWELL.

[565] Miss Burney mentions meeting Dr. Harington at Bath in 1780. 'It is his son,' she writes, 'who published those very curious remains of his ancestor [Sir John Harington] under the title Nugae Antiquae which my father and all of us were formerly so fond of.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 341.

     'For though they are but trifles, thou
      Some value didst to them allow.'
      Martin's Catullus, p. 1.

     —Underneath this rude, uncouth disguise,
     A genius of extensive knowledge lies.'
     FRANCIS. Horace, Satires, i. 3. 33.

[568] He would not have been a troublesome patient anywhere, for, according to Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 275),'he required less attendance, sick or well, than ever I saw any human creature.'

[569] 'That natural jealousy which makes every man unwilling to allow much excellence in another, always produces a disposition to believe that the mind grows old with the body; and that he whom we are now forced to confess superiour is hastening daily to a level with ourselves.' Johnson's Works, vii. 212.

[570] With the following elucidation of the saying-Quos Deus (it should rather be-Quem Jupiter) vult perdere, prius dementat-Mr. Boswell was furnished by Mr. Pitts:—'Perhaps no scrap of Latin whatever has been more quoted than this. It occasionally falls even from those who are scrupulous even to pedantry in their Latinity, and will not admit a word into their compositions, which has not the sanction of the first age. The word demento is of no authority, either as a verb active or neuter.—After a long search for the purpose of deciding a bet, some gentlemen of Cambridge found it among the fragments of Euripides, in what edition I do not recollect, where it is given as a translation of a Greek Iambick: [Greek: Ou Theos thelei apolesoi' apophreuai.]

'The above scrap was found in the hand-writing of a suicide of fashion, Sir D. O., some years ago, lying on the table of the room where he had destroyed himself. The suicide was a man of classical acquirements: he left no other paper behind him.'

Another of these proverbial sayings,

     Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim,

I, in a note on a passage in The Merchant of Venice [act iii. sc. 5], traced to its source. It occurs (with a slight variation) in the Alexandreis of Philip Gualtier (a poet of the thirteenth century), which was printed at Lyons in 1558. Darius is the person addressed:—

     —Quò tendis inertem,
     Rex periture, fugam? nescis, heu! perdite, nescis
     Quern fugias: hostes incurris dum fugis hostem;
     Incidis in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim.

A line not less frequently quoted was suggested for enquiry in a note on The Rape of Lucrece:—

Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris—:

But the author of this verse has not, I believe, been discovered. MALONE. The 'Greek lambick' in the above note is not Greek. To a learned friend I owe the following note. 'The Quem Jupiter vult perdere, &c., is said to be a translation of a fragment of Euripides by Joshua Barnes. There is, I believe, no such fragment at all. In Barnes's Euripides, Cantab. 1694, fol. p. 515, is a fragment of Euripides with a note which may explain the muddle of Boswell's correspondent:—

"[Greek: otau de daimonn handri porsunae kaka ton noun heblapse proton,]"

on which Barnes writes:—"Tale quid in Franciados nostrae [probably his uncompleted poem on Edward III.] l. 3. Certe ille deorum Arbiter ultricem cum vult extendere dextram Dementat prius."' See ante, ii. 445, note 1. Sir D. O. is, perhaps, Sir D'Anvers Osborne, whose death is recorded in the Gent. Mag. 1753, p. 591. 'Sir D'Anvers Osborne, Bart., Governor of New York, soon after his arrival there; in his garden.' Solamen miseris, &c., is imitated by Swift in his Verses on Stella's Birthday, 1726-7:—

     'The only comfort they propose,
     To have companions in their woes.'

Swift's Works, ed. 1803, xi. 22. The note on Lucrece was, I conjecture, on line 1111:—

'Grief best is pleased with grief's society.'

     "Tu quoque, ut hîc video, non es ignarus amorum."
     "Id commune malum; semel insanivimus omnes."'

Baptistae Mantuani Carmelitae Adolescentia, seu Bucolica. Ecloga I, published in 1498. 'Scaliger,' says Johnson (Works, viii. 391), 'complained that Mantuan's Bucolicks were received into schools, and taught as classical. ... He was read, at least in some of the inferiour schools of this kingdom, to the beginning of the present [eighteenth] century.'

[572] See ante, i. 368.

[573] See ante, i. 396.

[574] I am happy, however, to mention a pleasing instance of his enduring with great gentleness to hear one of his most striking particularities pointed out:—Miss Hunter, a niece of his friend Christopher Smart, when a very young girl, struck by his extraordinary motions, said to him, 'Pray, Dr. Johnson, why do you make such strange gestures?' 'From bad habit,' he replied. 'Do you, my dear, take care to guard against bad habits.' This I was told by the young lady's brother at Margate. BOSWELL. Boswell had himself told Johnson of some of them, at least in writing. Johnson read in manuscript his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. Boswell says in a note on Oct. 12:—'It is remarkable that Dr. Johnson should have read this account of some of his own peculiar habits, without saying anything on the subject, which I hoped he would have done.'

[575] See ante, ii. 42, note 2, and iii. 324.

[576] Johnson, after stating that some of Milton's manuscripts prove that 'in the early part of his life he wrote with much care,' continues:—'Such reliques show how excellence is acquired; what we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.' Works, vii. 119. Lord Chesterfield (Letters, iii. 146) had made the same rule as Johnson:—'I was,' he writes, 'early convinced of the importance and powers of eloquence; and from that moment I applied myself to it. I resolved not to utter one word even in common conversation that should not be the most expressive and the most elegant that the language could supply me with for that purpose; by which means I have acquired such a certain degree of habitual eloquence, that I must now really take some pains if I would express myself very inelegantly.'

[577] 'Dr. Johnson,' wrote Malone in 1783, 'is as correct and elegant in his common conversation as in his writings. He never seems to study either for thoughts or words. When first introduced I was very young; yet he was as accurate in his conversation as if he had been talking to the first scholar in England.' Prior's Malone, p. 92. See post, under Aug. 29, 1783.

[578] See ante, iii. 216.

[579] See ante, ii. 323.

[580] The justness of this remark is confirmed by the following story, for which I am indebted to Lord Eliot:—A country parson, who was remarkable for quoting scraps of Latin in his sermons, having died, one of his parishioners was asked how he liked his successor. 'He is a very good preacher,' was his answer, 'but no latiner.' BOSWELL. For the original of Lord Eliot's story see Twells's Life of Dr. E. Pocock, ed. 1816, p. 94. Reynolds said that 'Johnson always practised on every occasion the rule of speaking his best, whether the person to whom he addressed himself was or was not capable of comprehending him. "If," says he, "I am understood, my labour is not lost. If it is above their comprehension, there is some gratification, though it is the admiration of ignorance;" and he said those were the most sincere admirers; and quoted Baxter, who made a rule never to preach a sermon without saying something which he knew was beyond the comprehension of his audience, in order to inspire their admiration.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 456. Addison, in The Spectator, No. 221, tells of a preacher in a country town who outshone a more ignorant rival, by quoting every now and then a Latin sentence from one of the Fathers. 'The other finding his congregation mouldering every Sunday, and hearing at length what was the occasion of it, resolved to give his parish a little Latin in his turn; but being unacquainted with any of the Fathers, he digested into his sermons the whole book of Quae Genus, adding, however, such explications to it as he thought might be for the benefit of his people. He afterwards entered upon As in praesenti, which he converted in the same manner to the use of his parishioners. This in a very little time thickened his audience, filled his church, and routed his antagonist.'

[581] See ante, ii. 96

[582] '"Well," said he, "we had good talk." BOSWELL. "Yes, Sir; you tossed and gored several persons."' Ante, ii. 66.

[583] Dr. J. H. Burton says of Hume (Life, ii. 31):—'No Scotsman could write a book of respectable talent without calling forth his loud and warm eulogiums. Wilkie was to be the Homer, Blacklock the Pindar, and Home the Shakespeare or something still greater of his country.' See ante, ii. 121, 296, 306.

[584] The Present State of Music in France and Italy, I vol. 1771, and The Present State of Music in Germany, &c., 2 vols. 1773. Johnson must have skipped widely in reading these volumes, for though Dr. Burney describes his travels, yet he writes chiefly of music.

[585] Boswell's son James says that he heard from his father, that the passage which excited this strong emotion was the following:—

     'Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more:
       I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you;
     For morn is approaching, your charms to restore,
       Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glittering with dew;
     Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;
       Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save:
     But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn?
       O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave?'

[586] Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 338) mentions this book at some length. On March 13, 1780, he wrote:—'Yesterday was published an octavo, pretending to contain the correspondence of Hackman and Miss Ray that he murdered.' See ante, iii. 383.

[587] Hawkins (Life, p. 547), recording how Johnson used to meet Psalmanazar at an ale-house, says that Johnson one day 'remarked on the human mind, that it had a necessary tendency to improvement, and that it would frequently anticipate instruction. "Sir," said a stranger that overheard him, "that I deny; I am a tailor, and have had many apprentices, but never one that could make a coat till I had taken great pains in teaching him."' See ante, iii. 443. Robert Hall was influenced in his studies by 'his intimate association in mere childhood with a tailor, one of his father's congregation, who was an acute metaphysician.' Hall's Works, vi. 5.

[588] Johnson had never been in Grub-street. Ante, i. 296, note 2.

[589] The Honourable Horace Walpole, late Earl of Orford, thus bears testimony to this gentleman's merit as a writer:—'Mr. Chambers's Treatise on Civil Architecture is the most sensible book, and the most exempt from prejudices, that ever was written on that science.'—Preface to Anecdotes of Painting in England. BOSWELL. Chambers was the architect of Somerset House. See ante, p. 60, note 7.

[590] The introductory lines are these:—'It is difficult to avoid praising too little or too much. The boundless panegyricks which have been lavished upon the Chinese learning, policy, and arts, shew with what power novelty attracts regard, and how naturally esteem swells into admiration. I am far from desiring to be numbered among the exaggerators of Chinese excellence. I consider them as great, or wise, only in comparison with the nations that surround them; and have no intention to place them in competition either with the antients or with the moderns of this part of the world; yet they must be allowed to claim our notice as a distinct and very singular race of men: as the inhabitants of a region divided by its situation from all civilized countries, who have formed their own manners, and invented their own arts, without the assistance of example.' BOSWELL.

[591] The last execution at Tyburn was on Nov. 7, 1783, when one man was hanged. The first at Newgate was on the following Dec. 9, when ten were hanged. Gent. Mag. 1783, pp. 974, 1060.

[592] We may compare with this 'loose talk' Johnson's real opinion, as set forth in The Rambler, No. 114, entitled:—The necessity of proportioning punishments to crimes. He writes:—'The learned, the judicious, the pious Boerhaave relates that he never saw a criminal dragged to execution without asking himself, "Who knows whether this man is not less culpable than me?" On the days when the prisons of this city are emptied into the grave, let every spectator of this dreadful procession put the same question to his own heart. Few among those that crowd in thousands to the legal massacre, and look with carelessness, perhaps with triumph, on the utmost exacerbations of human misery, would then be able to return without horror and dejection.' He continues:—'It may be observed that all but murderers have, at their last hour, the common sensations of mankind pleading in their favour.... They who would rejoice at the correction of a thief, are yet shocked at the thought of destroying him. His crime shrinks to nothing compared with his misery, and severity defeats itself by exciting pity.'

[593] Richardson, in his Familiar Letters, No. 160, makes a country gentleman in town describe the procession of five criminals to Tyburn, and their execution. He should have heard, he said, 'the exhortation spoken by the bell-man from the wall of St. Sepulchre's church-yard; but the noise of the officers and the mob was so great, and the silly curiosity of people climbing into the cart to take leave of the criminals made such a confused noise that I could not hear them. They are as follow: "All good people pray heartily to God for these poor sinners, who now are going to their deaths; for whom this great bell doth toll. You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears.... Lord have mercy upon you! Christ have mercy upon you!" which last words the bell-man repeats three times. All the way up Holborn the crowd was so great, as at every twenty or thirty yards to obstruct the passage; and wine, notwithstanding a late good order against that practice, was brought the malefactors, who drank greedily of it. After this the three thoughtless young men, who at first seemed not enough concerned, grew most shamefully daring and wanton. They swore, laughed, and talked obscenely. At the place of execution the scene grew still more shocking; and the clergyman who attended was more the subject of ridicule than of their serious attention. The psalm was sung amidst the curses and quarrelling of hundreds of the most abandoned and profligate of mankind. As soon as the poor creatures were half-dead, I was much surprised to see the populace fall to haling and pulling the carcases with so much earnestness as to occasion several warm rencounters and broken heads. These, I was told, were the friends of the persons executed, or such as for the sake of tumult chose to appear so; and some persons sent by private surgeons to obtain bodies for dissection.' The psalm is mentioned in a note on the line in The Dunciad, i. 4l, 'Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines:'—'It is an ancient English custom,' says Pope, 'for the malefactors to sing a psalm at their execution at Tyburn.'

[594] The rest of these miscellaneous sayings were first given in the Additions to Dr. Johnson's Life at the beginning of vol. I of the second edition.

[595] Hume (Auto. p. 6) speaks of Hurd as attacking him 'with all the illiberal petulance, arrogance, and scurrility which distinguish the Warburtonian school.' 'Hurd,' writes Walpole, 'had acquired a great name by several works of slender merit, was a gentle, plausible man, affecting a singular decorum that endeared him highly to devout old ladies.' Journal of the Reign of George III, ii. 50. He is best known to the present generation by his impertinent notes on Addison's Works. By reprinting them, Mr. Bohn did much to spoil what was otherwise an excellent edition of that author. See ante, p. 47, note 2.

[596] The Rev. T. Twining, one of Dr. Burney's friends, wrote in 1779:—'You use a form of reference that I abominate, i.e. the latter, the former. "As long as you have the use of your tongue and your pen," said Dr. Johnson to Dr. Burney, "never, Sir, be reduced to that shift."' Recreations and Studies of a Country Clergyman of the XVIIIth Century, p. 72.

[597] 'A shilling was now wanted for some purpose or other, and none of them happened to have one; I begged that I might lend one. "Ay, do," said the Doctor, "I will borrow of you; authors are like privateers, always fair game for one another."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 212.

[598] See ante, i. 129, note 3.

[599] See post, June 3, 1784, where he uses almost the same words.

[600] What this period was Boswell seems to leave intentionally vague. Johnson knew Lord Shelburne at least as early as 1778 (ante, iii. 265). He wrote to Dr. Taylor on July 22, 1782:—'Shelburne speaks of Burke in private with great malignity.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 462. The company commonly gathered at his house would have been displeasing to Johnson. Priestley, who lived with Shelburne seven years, says (Auto. p. 55) that a great part of the company he saw there was like the French philosophers, unbelievers in Christianity, and even professed atheists: men 'who had given no proper attention to Christianity, and did not really know what it was.' Johnson was intimate with Lord Shelburne's brother. Ante, ii. 282, note 3.

[601] Johnson being asked his opinion of this Essay, answered, 'Why, Sir, we shall have the man come forth again; and as he has proved Falstaff to be no coward, he may prove Iago to be a very good character.' BOSWELL.

[602] A writer in the European Magazine, xxx. 160, says that Johnson visited Lord Shelburne at Bowood. At dinner he repeated part of his letter to Lord Chesterfield (ante, i. 261). A gentleman arrived late. Shelburne, telling him what he had missed, went on:-'I dare say the Doctor will be kind enough to give it to us again.' 'Indeed, my Lord, I will not. I told the circumstance first for my own amusement, but I will not be dragged in as story-teller to a company.' In an argument he used some strong expressions, of which his opponent took no notice, Next morning 'he went up to the gentleman with great good-nature, and said, "Sir, I have found out upon reflection that I was both warm and wrong in my argument with you last night; for the first of which I beg your pardon, and for the second, I thank you for setting me right."' It is clear that the second of these anecdotes is the same as that told by Mr. Morgann of Johnson and himself, and that the scene has been wrongly transferred from Wickham to Bowood. The same writer says that it was between Derrick and Boyce—not Derrick and Smart—that Johnson, in the story that follows, could not settle the precedency.

[603] See ante, i. 124, 394.

[604] See ante, i. 397.

[605] What the great TWALMLEY was so proud of having invented, was neither more nor less than a kind of box-iron for smoothing linen. BOSWELL.

     'Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi,
     Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat,
     Quique pii vates et Phoebo digna locuti,
     Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.'
     Aeneid, vi. 660.
     'Lo, they who in their country's fight
       sword-wounded bodies bore;
     Lo, priests of holy life and chaste,
       while they in life had part;
     Lo, God-loved poets, men who spake
       things worthy Phoebus' heart,
     And they who bettered life on earth
       by new-found mastery.'

MORRIS. Virgil, Aeneids, vi. 660. The great Twalmley might have justified himself by The Rambler, No. 9:—'Every man, from the highest to the lowest station, ought to warm his heart and animate his endeavours with the hopes of being useful to the world, by advancing the art which it is his lot to exercise; and for that end he must necessarily consider the whole extent of its application, and the whole weight of its importance.... Every man ought to endeavour at eminence, not by pulling others down, but by raising himself, and enjoy the pleasure of his own superiority, whether imaginary or real, without interrupting others in the same felicity.' All this is what Twalmley did. He adorned an art, he endeavoured at eminence, and he inoffensively enjoyed the pleasure of his own superiority. He could also have defended himself by the example of Aeneas, who, introducing himself, said:—

     'Sum pius Aeneas .....
     ... fama super aethera notus.'

Aeneid, i. 378. I fear that Twalmley met with the neglect that so commonly befalls inventors. In the Gent. Mag. 1783, p. 719, I find in the list of 'B-nk-ts,' Josiah Twamley, the elder, of Warwick, ironmonger.

[607] 'Sir, Hume is a Tory by chance, as being a Scotchman; but not upon a principle of duty, for he has no principle. If he is anything, he is a Hobbist.' Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 30. Horace Walpole's opinion was very different. 'Are not atheism and bigotry first cousins? Was not Charles II. an atheist and a bigot? and does Mr. Hume pluck a stone from a church but to raise an altar to tyranny?' Letters, v. 444. Hume wrote in 1756:—'My views of things are more conformable to Whig principles; my representations of persons to Tory prejudices.' J.H. Burton's Hume, ii. 11. Hume's Toryism increased with years. He says in his Autobiography/ (p. xi.) that all the alterations which he made in the later editions of his History of the Stuarts, 'he made invariably to the Tory side.' Dr. Burton gives instances of these; Life of Hume, ii. 74. Hume wrote in 1763 that he was 'too much infected with the plaguy prejudices of Whiggism when he began the work.' Ib. p. 144. In 1770 he wrote:—'I either soften or expunge many villainous, seditious Whig strokes which had crept into it.' Ib. p. 434. This growing hatred of Whiggism was, perhaps, due to pique. John Home, in his notes of Hume's talk in the last weeks of his life, says: 'He recurred to a subject not unfrequent with him—that is, the design to ruin him as an author, by the people that were ministers at the first publication of his History, and called themselves Whigs.' Ib. p. 500. As regards America, Hume was with the Whigs, as Johnson had perhaps learnt from their common friend, Mr. Strahan. 'He was,' says Dr. Burton, 'far more tolerant of the sway of individuals over numbers, which he looked upon as the means of preserving order and civilization, than of the predominance of one territory over another, which he looked upon as subjugation.' Ib. p. 477. Quite at the beginning of the struggle he foretold that the Americans would not be subdued, unless they broke in pieces among themselves. Ib. p. 482. He was not frightened by the prospect of the loss of our supremacy. He wrote to Adam Smith:—'My notion is that the matter is not so important as is commonly imagined. Our navigation and general commerce may suffer more than our manufactures.' Ib. p. 484. Johnson's charge against Hume that he had no principle, is, no doubt, a gross one; yet Hume's advice to a sceptical young clergyman, who had good hope of preferment, that he should therefore continue in orders, was unprincipled enough. 'It is,' he wrote, 'putting too great a respect on the vulgar and on their superstitions to pique one's self on sincerity with regard to them. Did ever one make it a point of honour to speak truth to children or madmen? If the thing were worthy being treated gravely, I should tell him that the Pythian oracle, with the approbation of Xenophon, advised every one to worship the gods—[Greek: nomo poleos]. I wish it were still in my power to be a hypocrite in this particular. The common duties of society usually require it; and the ecclesiastical profession only adds a little more to an innocent dissimulation, or rather simulation, without which it is impossible to pass through the world.' Ib/. p. 187.

[608] Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 48) says that Johnson told her that in writing the story of Gelaleddin, the poor scholar (Idler, No. 75), who thought to fight his way to fame by his learning and wit, 'he had his own outset into life in his eye.' Gelaleddin describes how 'he was sometimes admitted to the tables of the viziers, where he exerted his wit and diffused his knowledge; but he observed that where, by endeavour or accident he had remarkably excelled, he was seldom invited a second time.' See ante, p. 116.

[609] See ante, p. 115.

[610] Bar. BOSWELL.

[611] Nard. BOSWELL.

[612] Barnard. BOSWELL.

[613] It was reviewed in the Gent. Mag. 1781, p. 282, where it is said to have been written by Don Gabriel, third son of the King of Spain.

[614] Though 'you was' is very common in the authors of the last century when one person was addressed, I doubt greatly whether Johnson ever so expressed himself.

[615] See ante, i. 311.

[616] Horace Walpole (Letters v. 85) says, 'Boswell, like Cambridge, has a rage of knowing anybody that ever was talked of.' Miss Burney records 'an old trick of Mr. Cambridge to his son George, when listening to a dull story, in saying to the relator "Tell the rest of that to George."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 274. See ante, ii. 361.

[617] Virgil, Eclogues, i. 47.

[618] 'Mr. Johnson,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (Anec. p. 21), 'was exceedingly disposed to the general indulgence of children, and was even scrupulously and ceremoniously attentive not to offend them. He had strongly persuaded himself of the difficulty people always find to erase early impressions either of kindness or resentment.'

[619] Ante, ii.171, iv.75; also post, May 15, 1784.

[620] Johnson, on May 1, 1780, wrote of the exhibition dinner:—'The apartments were truly very noble. The pictures, for the sake of a sky-light, are at the top of the house; there we dined, and I sat over against the Archbishop of York. See how I live when I am not under petticoat government.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 111. It was Archbishop Markham whom he met; he is mentioned by Boswell in his Hebrides, post, v. 37. In spite of the 'elaboration of homage' Johnson could judge freely of an archbishop. He described the Archbishop of Tuam as 'a man coarse of voice and inelegant of language.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 300.

[621] By Lord Perceval, afterwards Earl of Egmont. He carried, writes Horace Walpole (Letters, ii. 144), 'the Westminster election at the end of my father's ministry, which he amply described in the history of his own family, a genealogical work called the History of the House of Yvery, a work which cost him three thousand pounds; and which was so ridiculous, that he has since tried to suppress all the copies. It concluded with the description of the Westminster election, in these or some such words:—"And here let us leave this young nobleman struggling for the dying liberties of his country."'

[622] Five days earlier Johnson made the following entry in his Diary:—'1783, April 5. I took leave of Mrs. Thrale. I was much moved. I had some expostulations with her. She said that she was likewise affected. I commended the Thrales with great good-will to God; may my petitions have been heard.' Hawkins's Life, p. 553. This was not 'a formal taking of leave,' as Hawkins says. She was going to Bath (Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 264). On May-day he wrote to her on the death of one of her little girls:—'I loved her, for she was Thrale's and yours, and, by her dear father's appointment, in some sort mine: I love you all, and therefore cannot without regret see the phalanx broken, and reflect that you and my other dear girls are deprived of one that was born your friend. To such friends every one that has them has recourse at last, when it is discovered and discovered it seldom fails to be, that the fortuitous friendships of inclination or vanity are at the mercy of a thousand accidents.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 255. He was sadly thinking how her friendship for him was rapidly passing away.

[623] Johnson modestly ended his account of the tour by saying:—'I cannot but be conscious that my thoughts on national manners are the thoughts of one who has seen but little.' Works, ix. 161. See Boswell's Hebrides, Nov. 22.

[624] See ib. Oct. 21.

[625] She says that he was 'the genuine author of the first volume. An ingenious physician,' she continues, 'with the assistance of several others, continued the work until the eighth volume.' Mrs. Manley's History of her own Life and Times, p. 15—a gross, worthless book. Swift satirised her in Corinna, a Ballad. Swift's Works (1803), x. 94.

[626] The real authour was I. P. Marana, a Genoese, who died at Paris in 1693. John Dunton in his Life says, that Mr. William Bradshaw received from Dr. Midgeley forty shillings a sheet for writing part of the Turkish Spy; but I do not find that he any where mentions Sault as engaged in that work. MALONE.

[627] See ante, ii. 355, iii. 46, and iv. 139.

[628] This was in June, 1783, and I find in Mr. Windham's private diary (which it seems this conversation induced him to keep) the following memoranda of Dr. Johnson's advice: 'I have no great timidity in my own disposition, and am no encourager of it in others. Never be afraid to think yourself fit for any thing for which your friends think you fit. You will become an able negotiator—a very pretty rascal. No one in Ireland wears even the mask of incorruption; no one professes to do for sixpence what he can get a shilling for doing. Set sail, and see where the winds and the waves will carry you. Every day will improve another. Dies diem docet, by observing at night where you failed in the day, and by resolving to fail so no more.' CROKER. The Whigs thought he made 'a very pretty rascal' in a very different way. On his opposition to Whitbread's bill for establishing parochial schools, Romilly wrote (Life, ii. 2l6), 'that a man so enlightened as Windham should take the same side (which he has done most earnestly) would excite great astonishment, if one did not recollect his eager opposition a few months ago to the abolition of the slave trade.' He was also 'most strenuous in opposition' to Romilly's bill for repealing the act which made it a capital offence to steal to the amount of forty shillings in a dwelling-house, Ib. p. 316.

[629] We accordingly carried our scheme into execution, in October, 1792; but whether from that uniformity which has in modern times, in a great degree, spread through every part of the Metropolis, or from our want of sufficient exertion, we were disappointed. BOSWELL.

[630] Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 193. See post, under June 30, 1784.

[631] Northcote (Life of Reynolds, ii. 139-143) says that the picture, which was execrable beyond belief, was exhibited in an empty room. Lowe, in 1769 (not in 1771 as Northcote says), gained the gold medal of the Academy for the best historical picture. (Gent. Mag. 1770, p. 587.) Northcote says that the award was not a fair one. He adds that Lowe, being sent to Rome by the patronage of the Academy, was dissatisfied with the sum allowed him. 'When Sir Joshua said that he knew from experience that it was sufficient, Lowe pertly answered "that it was possible for a man to live on guts and garbage."' He died at an obscure lodging in Westminster, in 1793. There is, wrote Miss Burney, 'a certain poor wretch of a villainous painter, one Mr. Lowe, whom Dr. Johnson recommends to all the people he thinks can afford to sit for their picture. Among these he applied to Mr. Crutchley [one of Mr. Thrale's executors]. "But now," said Mr. Crutchley to me, "I have not a notion of sitting for my picture—for who wants it? I may as well give the man the money without; but no, they all said that would not do so well, and Dr. Johnson asked me to give him my picture." "And I assure you, Sir," says he, "I shall put it in very good company, for I have portraits of some very respectable people in my dining-room." After all I could say I was obliged to go to the painter's. And I found him in such a condition! a room all dirt and filth, brats squalling and wrangling... "Oh!" says I, "Mr. Lowe, I beg your pardon for running away, but I have just recollected another engagement; so I poked three guineas in his hand, and told him I would come again another time, and then ran out of the house with all my might."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii.41. A correspondent of the Examiner writing on May 28, 1873, said that he had met one of Lowe's daughters, 'who recollected,' she told him, 'when a child, sitting on Dr. Johnson's knee and his making her repeat the Lord's Prayer.' She was Johnson's god-daughter. By a committee consisting of Milman, Thackeray, Dickens, Carlyle and others, an annuity fund for her and her sister was raised. Lord Palmerston gave a large subscription.

[632] See post, May 15, 1783.

[633] See Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 48.

[634] See ante, p. 171.

[635] Quoted by Boswell, ante, iii. 324.

[636] It is suggested to me by an anonymous Annotator on my Work, that the reason why Dr. Johnson collected the peels of squeezed oranges may be found in the 58th [358th] Letter in Mrs. Piozzi's Collection, where it appears that he recommended 'dried orange-peel, finely powdered,' as a medicine. BOSWELL. See ante, ii. 330.

[637] There are two mistakes in this calculation, both perhaps due to Boswell. Eighty-four should be eighty-eight, and square-yards should be yards square. 'If a wall cost £1000 a mile, £100 would build 176 yards of wall, which would form a square of 44 yards, and enclose an area of 1936 square yards; and £200 would build 352 yards of wall, which would form a square of 88 yards, and inclose an area of 7744 square yards. The cost of the wall in the latter case, as compared with the space inclosed, would therefore be reduced to one half.' Notes and Queries, 1st S. x. 471.

[638] See ante, i. 318.

[639] 'Davies observes, in his account of Ireland, that no Irishman had ever planted an orchard.' Johnson's Works, ix.7. 'At Fochabars [in the Highlands] there is an orchard, which in Scotland I had never seen before.' Ib. p. 21.

[640] Miss Burney this year mentions meeting 'Mr. Walker, the lecturer. Though modest in science, he is vulgar in conversation.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii. 237. Johnson quotes him, Works, viii. 474.

[641] 'Old Mr. Sheridan' was twelve years younger than Johnson. For his oratory, see ante, i. 453, and post, April 28 and May 17, 1783.

[642] See ante, i. 358, when Johnson said of Sheridan:—'His voice when strained is unpleasing, and when low is not always heard.'

[643] See ante, iii. 139.

[644] 'A more magnificent funeral was never seen in London,' wrote Murphy (Life of Garrick, p. 349). Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 169), wrote on the day of the funeral:—'I do think the pomp of Garrick's funeral perfectly ridiculous. It is confounding the immense space between pleasing talents and national services.' He added, 'at Lord Chatham's interment there were not half the noble coaches that attended Garrick's.' Ib. p. 171. In his Journal of the Reign of George III (ii. 333), he says:—'The Court was delighted to see a more noble and splendid appearance at the interment of a comedian than had waited on the remains of the great Earl of Chatham.' Bishop Horne (Essays and Thoughts, p. 283) has some lines on 'this grand parade of woe,' which begin:—

     'Through weeping London's crowded streets,
        As Garrick's funeral passed,
      Contending wits and nobles strove,
        Who should forsake him last.
      Not so the world behaved to him        Who came that world to save,
      By solitary Joseph borne
        Unheeded to his grave.'

Johnson wrote on April 30, 1782: 'Poor Garrick's funeral expenses are yet unpaid, though the undertaker is broken.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 239. Garrick was buried on Feb. 1, 1779, and had left his widow a large fortune. Chatham died in May, 1778.

[645] Boswell had heard Johnson maintain this; ante, ii. 101.

[646] See post, p. 238, note 2.

[647] This duel was fought on April 21, between Mr. Riddell of the Horse-Grenadiers, and Mr. Cunningham of the Scots Greys. Riddell had the first fire, and shot Cunningham through the breast. After a pause of two minutes Cunningham returned the fire, and gave Riddell a wound of which he died next day. Gent. Mag. 1783, p. 362. Boswell's grandfather's grandmother was a Miss Cunningham. Rogers's Boswelliana, p. 4. I do not know that there was any nearer connection. In Scotland, I suppose, so much kindred as this makes two men 'near relations.'

[648] 'Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other.' St. Luke, vi. 29. Had Miss Burney thought of this text, she might have quoted it with effect against Johnson, who, criticising her Evelina, said:—'You write Scotch, you say "the one,"—my dear, that's not English. Never use that phrase again.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 84.

[649] 'Turn not thou away.' St. Matthew, v. 42.

[650] I think it necessary to caution my readers against concluding that in this or any other conversation of Dr. Johnson, they have his serious and deliberate opinion on the subject of duelling. In my Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3 ed. p. 386 [p. 366, Oct. 24], it appears that he made this frank confession:—'Nobody at times, talks more laxly than I do;' and, ib. p. 231 [Sept. 19, 1773], 'He fairly owned he could not explain the rationality of duelling.' We may, therefore, infer, that he could not think that justifiable, which seems so inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel. At the same time it must be confessed, that from the prevalent notions of honour, a gentleman who receives a challenge is reduced to a dreadful alternative. A remarkable instance of this is furnished by a clause in the will of the late Colonel Thomas, of the Guards, written the night before he fell in a duel, Sept. 3, 1783:—'In the first place, I commit my soul to Almighty GOD, in hopes of his mercy and pardon for the irreligious step I now (in compliance with the unwarrantable customs of this wicked world) put myself under the necessity of taking.' BOSWELL. See ante, ii. 179.

[651] See Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 24 and Sept. 20. Dr. Franklin (Memoirs, i. 177) says that when the assembly at Philadelphia, the majority of which were Quakers, was asked by New England to supply powder for some garrison, 'they would not grant money to buy powder, because that was an ingredient of war; but they voted an aid of £3000 to be appropriated for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain.' The Governor interpreted other grain as gunpowder, without any objection ever being raised.

[652] 'A gentleman falling off his horse brake his neck, which sudden hap gave occasion of much speech of his former life, and some in this judging world judged the worst. In which respect a good friend made this good epitaph, remembering that of Saint Augustine, Misericordia Domini inter pontem et fontem.

     "My friend judge not me,
      Thou seest I judge not thee;
      Betwixt the stirrop and the ground,
      Mercy I askt, mercy I found."'

Camden's Remains, ed. 1870, p. 420.

[653] 'In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.' Prayer-book.

[654] Upon this objection the Reverend Mr. Ralph Churton, Fellow of Brazennose College, Oxford, has favoured me with the following satisfactory observation:—'The passage in the Burial-service does not mean the resurrection of the person interred, but the general resurrection; it is in sure and certain hope of the resurrection; not his resurrection. Where the deceased is really spoken of, the expression is very different, "as our hope is this our brother doth" [rest in Christ]; a mode of speech consistent with every thing but absolute certainty that the person departed doth not rest in Christ, which no one can be assured of, without immediate revelation from Heaven. In the first of these places also, "eternal life" does not necessarily mean eternity of bliss, but merely the eternity of the state, whether in happiness or in misery, to ensue upon the resurrection; which is probably the sense of "the life everlasting," in the Apostles' Creed. See Wheatly and Bennet on the Common Prayer.' BOSWELL.

[655] Six days earlier the Lord-Advocate Dundas had brought in a bill for the Regulation of the Government of India. Hastings, he said, should be recalled. His place should be filled by 'a person of independent fortune, who had not for object the repairing of his estate in India, that had long been the nursery of ruined and decayed fortunes.' Parl. Hist. xxiii. 757. Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor on Nov. 22 of this year:—'I believe corruption and oppression are in India at an enormous height, but it has never appeared that they were promoted by the Directors, who, I believe, see themselves defrauded, while the country is plundered; but the distance puts their officers out of reach.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v. 482. See ante, p. 66.

[656] See ante, p. 113.

[657] Stockdale (Memoirs, ii. 57) says that, in 1770, the payment to writers in the Critical Review was two guineas a sheet, but that some of the writers in The Monthly Review received four guineas a sheet. As these Reviews were octavos, each sheet contained sixteen pages. Lord Jeffrey says that the writers in the Edinburgh Review were at first paid ten guineas a sheet. 'Not long after the minimum was raised to sixteen guineas, at which it remained during my reign, though two-thirds of the articles were paid much higher—averaging, I should think, from twenty to twenty-five guineas a sheet on the whole number.' Cockburn's Jeffrey, i. 136.

[658] See ante, ii. 344.

[659] See ante, iii.32.

[660] See ante, p. 206.

[661] Monday is no doubt put by mistake for Tuesday, which was the 29th. Boswell had spent a considerable part of Monday the 28th with Johnson (ante, p. 211).

     'A fugitive from Heaven and prayer,
      I mocked at all religious fear.'
FRANCIS. Horace, Odes, i.34. 1.

[663] He told Boswell (ante, i. 68) that he had been a sort of lax talker against religion for some years before he went to Oxford, but that there he took up Law's Serious Call and found it quite an overmatch for him. 'This,' he said, 'was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religion after I became capable of rational enquiry.' During the vacation of 1729 he had a serious illness (ante, i. 63), which most likely was 'the sickness that brought religion back.'

[664] See ante, i. 93, 164, and post, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[665] Mr. Langton. See ante, ii. 254.

[666] See ante, ii. 249.

[667] Malloch continued to write his name thus, after he came to London. His verses prefixed to the second edition of Thomson's Winter are so subscribed. MALONE. 'Alias. A Latin word signifying otherwise; as, Mallet, alias Malloch; that is otherwise Malloch.' The mention of Mallet first comes in Johnson's own abridgment of his Dictionary. In the earlier unabridged editions the definition concludes, 'often used in the trials of criminals, whose danger has obliged them to change their names; as Simpson alias Smith, alias Baker, &c.' For Mallet, see ante, i. 268, and ii. 159.

[668] Perhaps Scott had this saying of Johnson's in mind when he made Earl Douglas exclaim:—

     'At first in heart it liked me ill,
     When the King praised his clerkly skill.
     Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine,
     Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line.'
Marmion, canto vi. 15.

[669] See Boswell's Hebrides, Sept. 10.

[670] Johnson often maintained this diffusion of learning. Thus he wrote:—'The call for books was not in Milton's age what it is in the present. To read was not then a general amusement; neither traders, nor often gentlemen, thought themselves disgraced by ignorance. The women had not then aspired to literature nor was every house supplied with a closet of knowledge.' Works, vii. 107. He goes on to mention 'that general literature which now pervades the nation through all its ranks.' Works, p. 108. 'That general knowledge which now circulates in common talk was in Addison's time rarely to be found. Men not professing learning were not ashamed of ignorance; and, in the female world, any acquaintance with books was distinguished only to be censured.' Ib. p.470. 'Of the Essay on Criticism, Pope declared that he did not expect the sale to be quick, because "not one gentleman in sixty, even of liberal education, could understand it." The gentlemen, and the education of that time, seem to have been of a lower character than they are of this.' Ib. viii. 243. See ante, iii. 3, 254. Yet he maintained that 'learning has decreased in England, because learning will not do so much for a man as formerly.' Boswell's Hebrides, post, v. 80.

[671] Malone describes a call on Johnson in the winter of this year:—'I found him in his arm-chair by the fire-side, before which a few apples were laid. He was reading. I asked him what book he had got. He said the History of Birmingham. Local histories, I observed, were generally dull. "It is true, Sir; but this has a peculiar merit with me; for I passed some of my early years, and married my wife there." [See ante, i. 96.] I supposed the apples were preparing as medicine. "Why, no, Sir; I believe they are only there because I want something to do. These are some of the solitary expedients to which we are driven by sickness. I have been confined this week past; and here you find me roasting apples, and reading the History of Birmingham."' Prior's Malone, p. 92.

[672] On April 19, he wrote:—'I can apply better to books than I could in some more vigorous parts of my life—at least than I did; and I have one more reason for reading—that time has, by taking away my companions, left me less opportunity of conversation.' Croker's Boswell, p. 727.

[673] He told Mr. Windham that he had never read the Odyssey through in the original. Windham's Diary, p. 17. 'Fox,' said Rogers (Table Talk, p. 92), 'used to read Homer through once every year. On my asking him, "Which poem had you rather have written, the Iliad or the Odyssey?" he answered, "I know which I had rather read" (meaning the Odyssey).'

[674] 'Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.' Johnson's Works, iv. 145. Of Pope Johnson wrote (ib. viii. 321):—'To make verses was his first labour, and to mend them was his last. ... He was one of those few whose labour is their pleasure.' Thomas Carlyle, in 1824, speaking of writing, says:—'I always recoil from again engaging with it.' Froude's Carlyle, i. 213. Five years later he wrote:—'Writing is a dreadful labour, yet not so dreadful as idleness.' Ib. ii. 75. See ante, iii. 19.

[675] See ante, ii. 15.

[676] Miss Burney wrote to Mrs. Thrale in 1780:—'I met at Sir Joshua's young Burke, who is made much ado about, but I saw not enough of him to know why.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 416. Mrs. Thrale replied:—'I congratulate myself on being quite of your opinion concerning Burke the minor, whom I once met and could make nothing of.' Ib. p. 418. Miss Hawkins (Memoirs, i. 304) reports, on Langton's authority, that Burke said:—'How extraordinary it is that I, and Lord Chatham, and Lord Holland, should each have a son so superior to ourselves.'

[677] Cruikshank, not Cruikshanks (see post, under Sept. 18, 1783, and Sept. 4 1784). He had been Dr. Hunter's partner; he was not elected (Gent. Mag. 1783, p. 626). Northcote, in quoting this letter, says that 'Sir Joshua's influence in the Academy was not always answerable to his desire. "Those who are of some importance everywhere else," he said, "find themselves nobody when they come to the Academy."' Northcote's Reynolds, ii. 145.

[678] William Hunter, scarcely less famous as a physician than his youngest brother, John Hunter, as a surgeon.

[679] Let it be remembered by those who accuse Dr. Johnson of illiberality that both were Scotchmen. BOSWELL.

[680] The following day he dined at Mrs. Garrick's. 'Poor Johnson,' wrote Hannah More (Memoirs, i. 280), 'exerted himself exceedingly, but he was very ill and looked so dreadfully, that it quite grieved me. He is more mild and complacent than he used to be. His sickness seems to have softened his mind, without having at all weakened it. I was struck with the mild radiance of this setting sun.'

[681] In the winter of 1788-9 Boswell began a canvass of his own county, He also courted Lord Lonsdale, in the hope of getting one of the seats in his gift, who first fooled him and then treated him with great brutality, Letters of Boswell, pp. 270, 294, 324.

[682] On April 6, 1780—'a day,' wrote Horace Walpole (Letters, vii. 345), 'that ought for ever to be a red-lettered day'—Mr. Dunning made this motion. It was carried by 233 to 215. Parl. Hist. xxi. 340-367.

[683] See ante, i. 355, and ii. 94 for Johnson's appeal to meals as a measure of vexation.

[684] Johnson defines cant as '1. A corrupt dialect used by beggars and vagabonds. 2. A particular form of speaking peculiar to some certain class or body of men. 3. A whining pretension to goodness in formal and affected terms. 4. Barbarous jargon. 5. Auction.' I have noted the following instances of his use of the word:—'I betook myself to a coffee-house frequented by wits, among whom I learned in a short time the cant of criticism.' The Rambler, No.123. 'Every class of society has its cant of lamentation.' Ib. No.128. 'Milton's invention required no assistance from the common cant of poetry.' Ib. No.140. 'We shall secure our language from being overrun with cant, from being crowded with low terms, the spawn of folly or affectation.' Works, v. II. 'This fugitive cant, which is always in a state of increase or decay, cannot be regarded as any part of the durable materials of a language.' Ib. p.45. In a note on I Henry VI, act iii. sc.1, he says: 'To roam is supposed to be derived from the cant of vagabonds, who often pretended a pilgrimage to Rome.' See ante, iii. 197, for 'modern cant.'

[685] 'Custom,' wrote Sir Joshua, 'or politeness, or courtly manners has authorised such an eastern hyperbolical style of compliment, that part of Dr. Johnson's character for rudeness of manners must be put to the account of scrupulous adherence to truth. His obstinate silence, whilst all the company were in raptures, vying with each other who should pepper highest, was considered as rudeness or ill-nature.' Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 458.

[686] 'The shame is to impose words for ideas upon ourselves or others.' Johnson's Works, vi. 64. See ante, p.122, where he says: 'There is a middle state of mind between conviction and hypocrisy.' Bacon, in his Essay of Truth, says: 'It is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt.'

[687] See ante, p. 204.

[688] 'I dined and lay at Harrison's, where I was received with that old-fashioned breeding which is at once so honourable and so troublesome.' Gibbon's Misc. Works, i. 144. Mr. Pleydell, in Guy Mannering, ed. 1860, iv. 96, says: 'You'll excuse my old-fashioned importunity. I was born in a time when a Scotchman was thought inhospitable if he left a guest alone a moment, except when he slept.'

[689] See ante, ii. 167.

[690] See ante, i. 387.

[691] In Johnson's Works, ed. 1787, xi. 197, it is recorded that Johnson said, 'Sheridan's writings on elocution were a continual renovation of hope, and an unvaried succession of disappointments.' According to the Gent. Mag. 1785, p. 288, he continued:—'If we should have a bad harvest this year, Mr. Sheridan would say:—"It was owing to the neglect of oratory."' See ante, p. 206.

[692] Burke, no doubt, was this 'bottomless Whig.' When Johnson said 'so they all are now,' he was perhaps thinking of the Coalition Ministry in which Lord North and his friends had places.

[693] No doubt Burke, who was Paymaster of the Forces. He is Boswell's 'eminent friend.' See ante ii.222, and post, Dec. 24, 1783, and Jan.8, 1784. In these two consecutive paragraphs, though two people seem to be spoken of, yet only one is in reality.

[694] I believe that Burke himself was present part of the time, and that he was the gentleman who 'talked of retiring. On May 19 and 21 he had in Parliament defended his action in restoring to office two clerks, Powell and Bembridge, who had been dismissed by his predecessor, and he had justified his reforms in the Paymaster's office. 'He awaited,' he said, the 'judgement of the House. ...If they so far differed in sentiment, he had only to say, Nunc dimittis servum tuum.' Parl. Hist. xxiii.919.

[695] A copy of Evelina had been placed in the Bodleian. 'Johnson says,' wrote Miss Burney, 'that when he goes to Oxford he will write my name in the books, and my age when I writ them, and then,' he says, 'the world may know that we So mix our studies, and so joined our fame. For we shall go down hand in hand to posterity.' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i.429. The oldest copy of Evelina now in the Bodleian is of an edition published after Johnson's death. Miss Burney, in 1793, married General D'Arblay, a French refugee.

[696] Macaulay maintained that Johnson had a hand in the composition of Cecilia. He quotes a passage from it, and says:—'We say with confidence, either Sam. Johnson or the Devil.' (Essays, ed. 1874, iv. 157.) That he is mistaken is shown by Mme. D'Arblay's Diary (ii. 172). 'Ay,' cried Dr. Johnson, 'some people want to make out some credit to me from the little rogue's book. I was told by a gentleman this morning that it was a very fine book, if it was all her own.' "It is all her own," said I, "for me, I am sure, for I never saw one word of it before it was printed."' On p. 196 she records the following:—'SIR JOSHUA. "Gibbon says he read the whole five volumes in a day." "'Tis impossible," cried Mr. Burke, "it cost me three days; and you know I never parted with it from the day I first opened it."' See post, among the imitators of Johnson's style, under Dec. 6, 1784.

[697] In Mr. Barry's printed analysis, or description of these pictures, he speaks of Johnson's character in the highest terms. BOSWELL. Barry, in one of his pictures, placed Johnson between the two beautiful duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire, pointing to their Graces Mrs. Montagu as an example. He expresses his 'reverence for his consistent, manly, and well-spent life.' Barry's Works, ii. 339. Johnson, in his turn, praises 'the comprehension of Barry's design.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 256. He was more likely to understand it, as the pictures formed a series, meant 'to illustrate one great maxim of moral truth, viz. that the obtaining of happiness depends upon cultivating the human faculties. We begin with man in a savage state full of inconvenience, imperfection, and misery, and we follow him through several gradations of culture and happiness, which, after our probationary state here, are finally attended with beatitude or misery.' Barry's Works, ii. 323. Horace Walpole (Letters, viii. 366) describes Barry's book as one 'which does not want sense, though full of passion and self, and vulgarisms and vanity.'

[698] Boswell had tried to bring about a third meeting between Johnson and Wilkes. On May 21 he wrote:—'Mr. Boswell's compliments to Mr. Wilkes. He finds that it would not be unpleasant to Dr. Johnson to dine at Mr. Wilkes's. The thing would be so curiously benignant, it were a pity it should not take place. Nobody but Mr. Boswell should be asked to meet the doctor.' An invitation was sent, but the following answer was returned:—'May 24, 1783. Mr. Johnson returns thanks to Mr. and Miss Wilkes for their kind invitation; but he is engaged for Tuesday to Sir Joshua Reynolds, and for Wednesday to Mr. Paradise.' Owing to Boswell's return to Scotland, another day could not be fixed. Almon's Wilkes, iv. 314, 321.

[699] 'If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.' Ecclesiastes, xi. 3.

[700] 'When a tree is falling, I have seen the labourers, by a trivial jerk with a rope, throw it upon the spot where they would wish it should lie. Divines, understanding this text too literally, pretend, by a little interposition in the article of death, to regulate a person's everlasting happiness. I fancy the allusion will hardly countenance their presumption.' Shenstone's Works, ed. 1773, ii. 255.

[701] Hazlitt says that 'when old Baxter first went to Kidderminster to preach, he was almost pelted by the women for maintaining from the pulpit the then fashionable and orthodox doctrine, that "Hell was paved with infants' skulls.'" Conversations of Northcote, p. 80.

[702] Acts, xvii. 24.

[703] Now the celebrated Mrs. Crouch. BOSWELL.

[704] Mr. Windham was at this time in Dublin, Secretary to the Earl of Northington, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. BOSWELL. See ante, p.200.

[705] Son of Mr. Samuel Paterson. BOSWELL. See ante, iii.90, and post, April 5, 1784.

[706] The late Keeper of the Royal Academy. He died on Jan. 23 of this year. Reynolds wrote of him:—'He may truly be said in every sense, to have been the father of the present race of artists.' Northcote's Reynolds ii.137.

[707] Mr. Allen was his landlord and next neighbour in Bolt-court. Ante, iii. 141.

[708] Cowper mentions him in Retirement:—

     'Virtuous and faithful Heberden! whose skill
      Attempts no task it cannot well fulfill,
      Gives melancholy up to nature's care,
      And sends the patient into purer air.'
      Cowper's Poems, ed. 1786, i. 272.

He is mentioned also by Priestley (Auto. ed. 1810, p.66) as one of his chief benefactors. Lord Eldon, when almost a briefless barrister, consulted him. 'I put my hand into my pocket, meaning to give him his fee; but he stopped me, saying, "Are you the young gentleman who gained the prize for the essay at Oxford?" I said I was. "I will take no fee from you." I often consulted him; but he would never take a fee.' Twiss's Eldon, i. 104.

[709] How much he had physicked himself is shewn by a letter of May 8. 'I took on Thursday,' he writes, 'two brisk catharticks and a dose of calomel. Little things do me no good. At night I was much better. Next day cathartick again, and the third day opium for my cough. I lived without flesh all the three days.' Piozzi Letters, ii.257. He had been bled at least four times that year and had lost about fifty ounces of blood. Ante, pp.142, 146. On Aug. 3, 1779, he wrote:—'Of the last fifty days I have taken mercurial physick, I believe, forty.' Notes and Queries, 6th S. v.461.

[710] An exact reprint of this letter is given by Professor Mayor in Notes and Queries, 6th S. v.481. The omissions and the repetitions 'betray,' he says, 'the writer's agitation.' The postscript Boswell had omitted. It is as follows:—'Dr. Brocklesby will be with me to meet Dr. Heberden, and I shall have previously make (sic) master of the case as well as I can.'

[711] Vol. ii. p.268, of Mrs. Thrale's Collection. BOSWELL. The beginning of the letter is very touching:—'I am sitting down in no cheerful solitude to write a narrative which would once have affected you with tenderness and sorrow, but which you will perhaps pass over now with the careless glance of frigid indifference. For this diminution of regard, however, I know not whether I ought to blame you, who may have reasons which I cannot know, and I do not blame myself, who have for a great part of human life done you what good I could, and have never done you evil.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 268. 'I have loved you,' he continued, 'with virtuous affection; I have honoured you with sincere esteem. Let not all our endearments be forgotten, but let me have in this great distress your pity and your prayers. You see I yet turn to you with my complaints as a settled and unalienable friend; do not, do not drive me from you, for I have not deserved either neglect or hatred.' Ib. p.271.

[712] On Aug. 20 he wrote:—'I sat to Mrs. Reynolds yesterday for my picture, perhaps the tenth time, and I sat near three hours with the patience of mortal born to bear; at last she declared it quite finished, and seems to think it fine. I told her it was Johnson's grimly ghost. It is to be engraved, and I think in glided, &c., will be a good inscription.' Piozzi Letters, ii. 302. Johnson is quoting from Mallet's ballad of Margaret's Ghost:—

     'Twas at the silent solemn hour,
      When night and morning meet;
      In glided Margaret's grimly ghost,
      And stood at William's feet.'
      Percy Ballads, in. 3, 16.

According to Northcote, Reynolds said of his sister's oil-paintings, 'they made other people laugh and him cry.' 'She generally,' Northcote adds, 'did them by stealth.' Life of Reynolds, ii. 160.

[713] 'Nocte, inter 16 et 17 Junii, 1783.

     Summe pater, quodcunque tuum de corpore Numen
       Hoc statuat, precibus Christus adesse velit:
     Ingenio parcas, nee sit mihi culpa rogasse,
       Qua solum potero parte placere tibi.'
     Works, i.159.

[714] According to the Gent. Mag. 1783, p.542, Dr. Lawrence died at Canterbury on June 13 of this year, his second son died on the 15th. But, if we may trust Munk's Roll of the College of Physicians, ii.153, on the father's tomb-stone, June 6 is given as the day of his death. Mr. Croker gives June 17 as the date, and June 19 as the day of the son's death, and is puzzled accordingly.

[715] Poor Derrick, however, though he did not himself introduce me to Dr. Johnson as he promised, had the merit of introducing me to Davies, the immediate introductor. BOSWELL. See ante, i.385, 391.

[716] Miss Burney, calling on him the next morning, offered to make his tea. He had given her his own large arm-chair which was too heavy for her to move to the table. '"Sir," quoth she, "I am in the wrong chair." "It is so difficult," cried he with quickness, "for anything to be wrong that belongs to you, that it can only be I that am in the wrong chair to keep you from the right one."' Dr. Burney's Memoirs, ii. 345.

[717] His Lordship was soon after chosen, and is now a member of THE CLUB. BOSWELL. He was father of the future prime-minister, who was born in the following year.

[718] He wrote on June 23:—'What man can do for man has been done for me.' Piozzi Letters, ii.278. Murphy (Life, p. 121) says that, visiting him during illness, he found him reading Dr. Watson's Chymistry (ante, p. 118). 'Articulating with difficulty he said:—"From this book he who knows nothing may learn a great deal, and he who knows will be pleased to find his knowledge recalled to his mind in a manner highly pleasing."'

[719] 'I have, by the migration of one of my ladies, more peace at home; but I remember an old savage chief that says of the Romans with great indignation-ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant [Tacitus, Agricola, c. xxx]. Piozzi Letters, ii. 259.

[720] 'July 23. I have been thirteen days at Rochester, and am just now returned. I came back by water in a common boat twenty miles for a shilling, and when I landed at Billingsgate, I carried my budget myself to Cornhill before I could get a coach, and was not much incommoded' Ib. ii.294. See ante, iv.8, 22, for mention of Rochester.

[721] Murphy (Life, p. 121) says that Johnson visited Oxford this summer. Perhaps he was misled by a passage in the Piozzi Letters (ii. 302) where Johnson is made to write:—'At Oxford I have just left Wheeler.' For left no doubt should be read lost. Wheeler died on July 22 of this year. Gent. Mag. 1783, p. 629.

[722] This house would be interesting to Johnson, as in it Charles II, 'for whom he had an extraordinary partiality' (ante, ii. 341), lay hid for some days after the battle of Worcester. Clarendon (vi. 540) describes it 'as a house that stood alone from neighbours and from any highway.' Charles was lodged 'in a little room, which had been made since the beginning of the troubles for the concealment of delinquents.'

[723] 'I told Dr. Johnson I had heard that Mr. Bowles was very much delighted with the expectation of seeing him, and he answered me:—"He is so delighted that it is shocking. It is really shocking to see how high are his expectations." I asked him why, and he said:—"Why, if any man is expected to take a leap of twenty yards, and does actually take one of ten, everybody will be disappointed, though ten yards may be more than any other man ever leaped."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, ii.260. On Oct. 9, he wrote:—'Two nights ago Mr. Burke sat with me a long time. We had both seen Stonehenge this summer for the first time.' Piozzi Letters, ii.315.

[724] Salisbury is eighty-two miles from Cornhill by the old coach-road. Johnson seems to have been nearly fifteen hours on the journey.

[725] 'Aug. 13, 1783. I am now broken with disease, without the alleviation of familiar friendship or domestic society. I have no middle state between clamour and silence, between general conversation and self-tormenting solitude. Levett is dead, and poor Williams is making haste to die.' Piozzi Letters, ii.301. 'Aug. 20. This has been a day of great emotion; the office of the Communion of the Sick has been performed in poor Mrs. Williams's chamber.' Ib. 'Sept. 22. Poor Williams has, I hope, seen the end of her afflictions. She acted with prudence and she bore with fortitude. She has left me.

     "Thou thy weary [worldly] task hast done,
      Home art gone and ta'en thy wages."
      [Cymbeline, act iv. sc. 2.]

Had she had good humour and prompt elocution, her universal curiosity and comprehensive knowledge would have made her the delight of all that knew her.' Ib. p. 311.

[726] Johnson (Works, viii. 354) described in 1756 such a companion as he found in Mrs. Williams. He quotes Pope's Epitaph on Mrs. Corbet, and continues:—'I have always considered this as the most valuable of all Pope's epitaphs; the subject of it is a character not discriminated by any shining or eminent peculiarities; yet that which really makes, though not the splendour, the felicity of life, and that which every wise man will choose for his final and lasting companion in the languor of age, in the quiet of privacy, when he departs, weary and disgusted, from the ostentatious, the volatile and the vain. Of such a character which the dull overlook, and the gay despise, it was fit that the value should be made known, and the dignity established.' See ante, i.232.

[727] Pr. and Med. p. 226. BOSWELL.

[728] I conjecture that Mr. Bowles is the friend. The account follows close on the visit to his house, and contains a mention of Johnson's attendance at a lecture at Salisbury.

[729] A writer in Notes and Queries, 1st S. xii. 149, says:—'Mr. Bowles had married a descendant of Oliver Cromwell, viz. Dinah, the fourth daughter of Sir Thomas Frankland, and highly valued himself upon this connection with the Protector.' He adds that Mr. Bowles was an active Whig.

[730] Mr. Malone observes, 'This, however, was certainly a mistake, as appears from the Memoirs published by Mr. Noble. Had Johnson been furnished with the materials which the industry of that gentleman has procured, and with others which, it it is believed, are yet preserved in manuscript, he would, without doubt, have produced a most valuable and curious history of Cromwell's life.' BOSWELL.

[731] See ante, ii.358, note 3.

[732] Short Notes for Civil Conversation. Spedding's Bacon, vii.109.

[733] 'When I took up his Life of Cowley, he made me put it away to talk. I could not help remarking how very like he is to his writing, and how much the same thing it was to hear or to read him; but that nobody could tell that without coming to Streatham, for his language was generally imagined to be laboured and studied, instead of the mere common flow of his thoughts. "Very true," said Mrs. Thrale, "he writes and talks with the same ease, and in the same manner."' Mme. D'Arblay's Diary, i. 120. What a different account is this from that given by Macaulay:—'When he talked he clothed his wit and his sense in forcible and natural expressions. As soon as he took his pen in his hand to write for the public, his style became systematically vicious.' Macaulay's Essays, edit. 1843, i.404. See ante, ii.96, note; iv.183; and post, the end of the vol.

[734] See ante, ii.125, iii.254, and Boswell's Hebrides, Oct. 14.

[735] Hume said:—'The French have more real politeness, and the English the better method of expressing it. By real politeness I mean softness of temper, and a sincere inclination to oblige and be serviceable, which is very conspicuous in this nation, not only among the high, but low; in so much that the porters and coachmen here are civil, and that, not only to gentlemen, but likewise among themselves.' J.H. Burton's Hume, i. 53.

[736] This is the third time that Johnson's disgust at this practice is recorded. See ante, ii.403, and iii.352.

[737] See ante, iii.398, note 3.

[738] 'Sept. 22, 1783. The chymical philosophers have discovered a body (which I have forgotten, but will enquire) which, dissolved by an acid, emits a vapour lighter than the atmospherical air. This vapour is caught, among other means, by tying a bladder compressed upon the body in which the dissolution is performed; the vapour rising swells the bladder and fills it. Piozzi Letters, ii.310. The 'body' was iron-filings, the acid sulphuric acid, and the vapour nitrogen. The other 'new kinds of air' were the gases discovered by Priestley.

[739] I do not wonder at Johnson's displeasure when the name of Dr. Priestley was mentioned; for I know no writer who has been suffered to publish more pernicious doctrines. I shall instance only three. First, Materialism; by which mind is denied to human nature; which, if believed, must deprive us of every elevated principle. Secondly, Necessity; or the doctrine that every action, whether good or bad, is included in an unchangeable and unavoidable system; a notion utterly subversive of moral government. Thirdly, that we have no reason to think that the future world, (which, as he is pleased to inform us, will be adapted to our merely improved nature,) will be materially different from this; which, if believed, would sink wretched mortals into despair, as they could no longer hope for the 'rest that remaineth for the people of GOD' [Hebrews, iv.9], or for that happiness which is revealed to us as something beyond our present conceptions; but would feel themselves doomed to a continuation of the uneasy state under which they now groan. I say nothing of the petulant intemperance with which he dares to insult the venerable establishments of his country.

As a specimen of his writings, I shall quote the following passage, which appears to me equally absurd and impious, and which might have been retorted upon him by the men who were prosecuted for burning his house. 'I cannot, (says he,) as a necessarian, [meaning necessitarian] hate any man; because I consider him as being, in all respects, just what GOD has made him to be; and also as doing with respect to me, nothing but what he was expressly designed and app