Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Life Of Johnson, Vol. 1 by Boswell, Edited by Birkbeck Hill

Part 10 out of 14

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

'No page more grateful to th' harmonious nine
Than that wherein thy labours we survey;
Where solemn themes in fuller splendour shine,
(Delightful mixture,) blended with the gay,
Where in improving, various joys we find,
A welcome respite to the wearied mind.

'Thus when the nymphs in some fair verdant mead,
Of various flowr's a beauteous wreath compose,
The lovely violet's azure-painted head
Adds lustre to the crimson-blushing rosc.
Thus splendid Iris, with her varied dye,
Shines in the aether, and adorns the sky. BRITON.'


[332] 'I have some reason to think that at his first coming to town he
frequented Slaughter's coffee-house with a view to acquire a habit of
speaking French, but he never could attain to it. Lockman used the same
method and succeeded, as Johnson himself once told me.' Hawkins's
_Johnson_, p. 516. Lockman is _l'ilustre Lockman_ mentioned _post_,
1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_. It was at 'Old Slaughter's
Coffee-house, when a number of foreigners were talking loud about little
matters, that Johnson one evening said, "Does not this confirm old
Meynell's observation, _For anything I see, foreigners are fools_"?'
_post_, ib.

[333] He had read Petrarch 'when but a boy;' _ante_, p. 57.

[334] Horace Walpole, writing of the year 1770, about libels, says:
'Their excess was shocking, and in nothing more condemnable than in the
dangers they brought on the liberty of the press.' This evil was chiefly
due to 'the spirit of the Court, which aimed at despotism, and the
daring attempts of Lord Mansfield to stifle the liberty of the press.
His innovations had given such an alarm that scarce a jury would find
the rankest satire libellous.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iv.
167. Smollett in _Humphrey Clinker_ (published in 1771) makes Mr.
Bramble write, in his letter of June 2: 'The public papers are become
the infamous vehicles of the most cruel and perfidious defamation; every
rancorous knave--every desperate incendiary, that can afford to spend
half-a-crown or three shillings, may skulk behind the press of a
newsmonger, and have a stab at the first character in the kingdom,
without running the least hazard of detection or punishment.' The
scribblers who had of late shewn their petulance were not always
obscure. Such scurrilous but humorous pieces as _Probationary Odes for
the Laureateship_, _The Rolliad_, and _Royal Recollections_, which were
all published while Boswell was writing _The Life of Johnson_, were
written, there can be little doubt, by men of position. In the first of
the three (p. 27) Boswell is ridiculed. He is made to say:--'I know
Mulgrave is a bit of a poet as well as myself; for I dined in company
once where he dined that very day twelve-month.' This evil of libelling
had extended to America. Benjamin Franklin (_Memoirs_, i. 148), writing
in 1784, says that 'libelling and personal abuse have of late years
become so disgraceful to our country. Many of our printers make no
scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of
the fairest characters.'

[335] Boswell perhaps refers to a book published in 1758, called _The
Case of Authors by Profession. Gent. Mag_. xxviii. 130. Guthrie applies
the term to himself in the letter below.

[336] How much poetry he wrote, I know not: but he informed me, that he
was the authour of the beautiful little piece, _The Eagle and Robin
Redbreast_, in the collection of poems entitled _The Union_, though it
is there said to be written by Archibald Scott, before the year 1600.
BOSWELL. Mr. P. Cunningham has seen a letter of Jos. Warton's which
states that this poem was written by his brother Tom, who edited the
volume. CROKER.

[337] Dr. A. Carlyle in his _Autobiography_ (p. 191) describes a curious
scene that he witnessed in the British Coffee-house. A Captain Cheap
'was employed by Lord Anson to look out for a proper person to write his
voyage. Cheap had a predilection for his countrymen, and having heard of
Guthrie, he had come down to the coffee-house to inquire about him. Not
long after Cheap had sat down, Guthrie arrived, dressed in laced
clothes, and talking loud to everybody, and soon fell awrangling with a
gentleman about tragedy and comedy and the unities, &c., and laid down
the law of the drama in a peremptory manner, supporting his arguments
with cursing and swearing. I saw Cheap was astonished, when, going to
the bar, he asked who this was, and finding it was Guthrie he paid his
coffee and slunk off in silence.' Guthrie's meanness is shown by the
following letter in D'Israeli's _Calamities of Authors_, i. 5:--

'June 3, 1762.

'My Lord,

'In the year 1745-6 Mr. Pelham, then First Lord of the Treasury,
acquainted me that it was his Majesty's pleasure I should receive till
better provided for, which never has happened, 200L. a year, to be paid
by him and his successors in the Treasury. I was satisfied with the
august name made use of, and the appointment has been regularly and
quarterly paid me ever since. I have been equally punctual in doing the
Government all the services that fell within my abilities or sphere of
life, especially in those critical situations that call for unanimity in
the service of the Crown.

'Your Lordship may possibly now suspect that I am an Author by
profession; you are not deceived; and will be less so, if you believe
that I am disposed to serve his Majesty under your Lordship's future
patronage and protection with greater zeal, if possible, than ever.

'I have the honour to be

'My Lord &c.


The lord's name is not given. See _post_, spring of 1768, and 1780 in
Mr. Langton's _Collection_ for further mention of Guthrie.

[338] Perhaps there were Scotticisms for Johnson to correct; for
Churchill in _The Author_, writing of Guthrie, asks:--

'With rude unnatural jargon to support Half _Scotch_, half _English_, a
declining Court

* * * * *

Is there not Guthrie?'

_Churchill's Poems_, ii. 39.

[339] See Appendix A.

[340] Pope, _Imitations of Horace_, ii. l. 71.

[341] 'To give the world assurance of a man.' _Hamlet_, Act iii. sc. 4.

[342] In his _Life of Pope_ Johnson says: 'This mode of imitation ...
was first practised in the reign of Charles II. by Oldham and Rochester;
at least I remember no instances more ancient. It is a kind of middle
composition between translation and original design, which pleases when
the thoughts are unexpectedly applicable and the parallels lucky. It
seems to have been Pope's favourite amusement, for he has carried it
farther than any former poet.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 295.

[343] I own it pleased me to find amongst them one trait of the manners
of the age in London, in the last century, to shield from the sneer of
English ridicule, which was some time ago too common a practice in my
native city of Edinburgh:--

'If what I've said can't from the town affright,
Consider other _dangers of the night_;
When brickbats are from upper stories thrown,
And _emptied chamberpots come pouring down
From garret windows_.'


See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 14, 1773, where Johnson, on taking his
first walk in Edinburgh, 'grumbled in Boswell's ear, "I smell you in the
dark."' I once spent a night in a town of Corsica, on the great road
between Ajaccio and Bastia, where, I was told, this Edinburgh practice
was universal. It certainly was the practice of the hotel.

[344] His Ode _Ad Urbanum_ probably. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[345] Johnson, on his death-bed, had to own that 'Cave was a penurious
paymaster; he would contract for lines by the hundred, and expect the
long hundred.' See _post_, Dec. 1784.

[346] Cave sent the present by Johnson to the unknown author.

[347] See _post_, p. 151, note 5.

[348] The original letter has the following additional paragraph:--'I
beg that you will not delay your answer.'

[349] In later life Johnson strongly insisted on the importance of fully
dating all letters. After giving the date in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, he
would add,--'Now there is a date, look at it' (_Piozzi Letters_, ii.
109); or, 'Mark that--you did not put the year to your last' (_Ib_. p.
112); or, 'Look at this and learn' (_Ib_. p. 138). She never did learn.
The arrangement of the letters in the _Piozzi Letters_ is often very
faulty. For an omission of the date by Johnson in late life see _post_,
under March 5, 1774.

[350] A poem, published in 1737, of which see an account under April 30,

[351] The learned Mrs. Elizabeth Carter. BOSWELL. She was born Dec.
1717, and died Feb. 19, 1806. She never married. Her father gave her a
learned education. Dr. Johnson, speaking of some celebrated scholar
[perhaps Langton], said, 'that he understood Greek better than any one
whom he he had ever known, except Elizabeth Carter.' Pennington's
_Carter_, i. 13. Writing to her in 1756 he said, 'Poor dear Cave! I owed
him much; for to him I owe that I have known you' (_Ib_. p. 40). Her
father wrote to her on June 25, 1738:--'You mention Johnson; but that is
a name with which I am utterly unacquainted, Neither his scholastic,
critical, or poetical character ever reached my ears. I a little suspect
his judgement, if he is very fond of Martial' (_Ib_. p. 39). Since 1734
she had written verses for the _Gent. Mag_. under the name of Eliza
(_Ib_. p. 37)! They are very poor. Her _Ode to Melancholy_ her
biographer calls her best. How bad it is three lines will show:--

'Here, cold to pleasure's airy forms,
Consociate with my sister worms,
And mingle with the dead.'

_Gent. Mag_. ix. 599.

Hawkins records that Johnson, upon hearing a lady commended for her
learning, said:--'A man is in general better pleased when he has a good
dinner upon his table than when his wife talks Greek. My old friend,
Mrs. Carter, could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus.'
Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 205. Johnson, joining her with Hannah More
and Fanny Burney, said:--'Three such women are not to be found.' _Post_,
May 15, 1784.

[352] See Voltaire's _Siecle de Louis XIV_, ch. xxv..

[353] At the end of his letter to Cave, quoted _post_, 1742, he
says:--'The boy found me writing this almost in the dark, when I could
not quite easily read yours.' A man who at times was forced to walk the
streets, for want of money to pay for a lodging, was likely also at
times to be condemned to idleness for want of a light.

[354] At the back of this letter is written: 'Sir, Please to publish the
enclosed in your paper of first, and place to acc't of Mr. Edward Cave.
For whom I am, Sir, your hum. ser't J. Bland. St. John's Gate, April 6,
1738.' _London_ therefore was written before April 6.

[355] Boswell misread the letter. Johnson does not offer to allow the
printer to make alterations. He says:--'I will take the trouble of
altering any stroke of satire which you may dislike.' The law against
libel was as unjust as it was severe, and printers ran a great risk.

[356] Derrick was not merely a poet, but also Master of the Ceremonies
at Bath; _post_, May 16, 1763. For Johnson's opinion of _his_ 'Muse' see
_post_ under March 30, 1783. _Fortune, a Rhapsody_, was published in
Nov. 1751. _Gent. Mag_. xxi. 527. He is described in _Humphrey Clinker_
in the letters of April 6 and May 6.

[357] See _post_, March 20, 1776.

[358] Six years later Johnson thus wrote of Savage's _Wanderer_:--'From
a poem so diligently laboured, and so successfully finished, it might be
reasonably expected that he should have gained considerable advantage;
nor can it without some degree of indignation and concern be told, that
he sold the copy for ten guineas.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 131. Mrs.
Piozzi sold in 1788 the copyright of her collection of Johnson's Letters
for L500; _post_, Feb. 1767.

[359] The Monks of Medmenham Abbey. See Almon's _Life of Wilkes_, iii.
60, for Wilkes's account of this club. Horace Walpole (_Letters_, i. 92)
calls Whitehead 'an infamous, but not despicable poet.'

[360] From _The Conference_, Churchill's _Poems_, ii. 15.

[361] In the _Life of Pope_ Johnson writes:--'Paul Whitehead, a small
poet, was summoned before the Lords for a poem called _Manners_,
together with Dodsley his publisher. Whitehead, who hung loose upon
society, sculked and escaped; but Dodsley's shop and family made his
appearance necessary.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 297. _Manners_ was
published in 1739. Dodsley was kept in custody for a week. _Gent. Mag_.
ix. 104. 'The whole process was supposed to be intended rather to
intimidate Pope [who in his _Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-Eight_ had
given offence] than to punish Whitehead, and it answered that purpose.'
CHALMERS, quoted in _Parl. Hist_. x. 1325

[362] Sir John Hawkins, p. 86, tells us:--'The event is _antedated_, in
the poem of _London_; but in every particular, except the difference of
a year, what is there said of the departure of Thales, must be
understood of Savage, and looked upon as _true history_.' This
conjecture is, I believe, entirely groundless. I have been assured, that
Johnson said he was not so much as acquainted with Savage when he wrote
his _London_. If the departure mentioned in it was the departure of
Savage, the event was not _antedated_ but _foreseen_; for _London_ was
published in May, 1738, and Savage did not set out for Wales till July,
1739. However well Johnson could defend the credibility of _second
sight_ [see _post_, Feb. 1766], he did not pretend that he himself was
possessed of that faculty. BOSWELL. I am not sure that Hawkins is
altogether wrong in his account. Boswell does not state _of his own
knowledge_ that Johnson was not acquainted with Savage when he wrote
_London_. The death of Queen Caroline in Nov. 1737 deprived Savage of
her yearly bounty, and 'abandoned him again to fortune' (Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 166). The elegy on her that he composed on her birth-day
(March 1) brought him no reward. He was 'for some time in suspense,' but
nothing was done. 'He was in a short time reduced to the lowest degree
of distress, and often wanted both lodging and food' (_Ib_. p. 169). His
friends formed a scheme that 'he should retire into Wales.' 'While this
scheme was ripening' he lodged 'in the liberties of the Fleet, that he
might be secure from his creditors' (_Ib_. p. 170). After many delays a
subscription was at length raised to provide him with a small pension,
and he left London in July 1739 (_Ib_. p 173). _London_, as I have
shewn, was written before April 6, 1738. That it was written with great
rapidity we might infer from the fact that a hundred lines of _The
Vanity of Human Wishes_ were written in a day. At this rate _London_
might have been the work of three days. That it was written in a very
short time seems to be shown by a passage in the first of these letters
to Cave. Johnson says:--'When I took the liberty of writing to you a few
days ago, I did not expect a repetition of the same pleasure so soon;
... but having the enclosed poem, &c.' It is probable that in these few
days the poem was written. If we can assume that Savage's elegy was sent
to the Court not later than March 1--it may have been sent earlier--and
that Johnson's poem was written in the last ten days of March, we have
three weeks for the intervening events. They are certainly not more than
sufficient, if indeed they are sufficient. The coincidence is certainly
very striking between Thales's retirement to 'Cambria's solitary shore'
and Savage's retirement to Wales. There are besides lines in the
poem--additions to Juvenal and not translations--which curiously
correspond with what Johnson wrote of Savage in his _Life_. Thus he says
that Savage 'imagined that he should be transported to scenes of flowery
felicity; ... he could not bear ... to lose the opportunity of
listening, without intermission, to the melody of the nightingale, which
he believed was to be heard from every bramble, and which he did not
fail to mention as a very important part of the happiness of a country
life' (_Ib_. p. 170). In like manner Thales prays to find:--

'Some pleasing bank where verdant osiers play,
Some peaceful vale, with nature's paintings gay.

* * * * *

There every bush with nature's musick rings;
There every breeze bears health upon its wings.'

Mr. Croker objects that 'if Thales had been Savage, Johnson could never
have admitted into his poem two lines that point so forcibly at the
drunken fray, in which Savage stabbed a Mr. Sinclair, for which he was
convicted of _murder_:--

"Some frolic _drunkard_, reeling from a feast,
_Provokes_ a broil, and _stabs_ you in a jest."'

But here Johnson is following Juvenal. Mr. Croker forgets that, if
Savage was convicted of murder, 'he was soon after admitted to bail, and
pleaded the King's pardon.' 'Persons of distinction' testified that he
was 'a modest inoffensive man, not inclined to broils or to insolence;'
the witnesses against him were of the lowest character, and his judge
had shewn himself as ignorant as he was brutal. Sinclair had been
drinking in a brothel, and Savage asserted that he had stabbed him 'by
the necessity of self defence' (_Ib_. p. 117). It is, however, not
unlikely that Wales was suggested to Johnson as Thales's retreat by
Swift's lines on Steele, in _Miscellanies in Prose and Verse_ (v. 181),
published only three years before _London_:--

'Thus Steele who owned what others writ,
And flourished by imputed wit,
From perils of a hundred jails
Withdrew to starve and die in Wales.'

[363] The first dialogue was registered at Stationers' Hall, 12th May,
1738, under the title _One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight_. The
second dialogue was registered 17th July, 1738, as _One Thousand Seven
Hundred and Thirty Eight, Dialogue_ 2. Elwin's _Pope_, iii. 455.

David Hume was in London this spring, finding a publisher for his first
work, _A Treatise of Human Nature_. J. H. Burton's _Hume_, i. 66.

[364] Pope had published _Imitations of Horace_.

[365] P. 269. BOSWELL. 'Short extracts from _London, a Poem_, become
remarkable for having got to the second edition in the space of a week.'
_Gent. Mag_. viii. 269. The price of the poem was one shilling. Pope's
satire, though sold at the same price, was longer in reaching its second
edition (_Ib_. p. 280).


'One driven by strong benevolence of soul
Shall fly, like Oglethorpe, from pole to pole.'

Pope's _Imitations of Horace_, ii. 2. 276.

'General Oglethorpe, died 1785, earned commemoration in Pope's gallery
of worthies by his Jacobite politics. He was, however, a remarkable man.
He first directed attention to the abuses of the London jails. His
relinquishment of all the attractions of English life and fortune for
the settlement of the colony of Georgia is as romantic a story at that
of Bishop Berkeley' (Pattison's _Pope_, p. 152). It is very likely that
Johnson's regard for Oglethorpe was greatly increased by the stand that
he and his brother-trustees in the settlement of Georgia made against
slavery (see _post_, Sept. 23, 1777). 'The first principle which they
laid down in their laws was that no slave should be employed. This was
regarded at the time as their great and fundamental error; it was
afterwards repealed' (Southey's _Wesley_, i. 75). In spite, however, of
Oglethorpe's 'strong benevolence of soul' he at one time treated Charles
Wesley, who was serving as a missionary in Georgia, with great brutality
(_Ib_. p. 88). According to Benjamin Franklin (_Memoirs_, i. 162)
Georgia was settled with little forethought. 'Instead of being made with
hardy industrious husbandmen, it was with families of broken
shop-keepers, and other insolvent debtors; many of idle habits, taken
out of the jails, who being set down in the woods, unqualified for
clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement,
perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for.'
Johnson wished to write Oglethorpe's life; _post_, April 10, 1775.

[367] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, viii. 548), writing of him 47 years
after _London_ was published, when he was 87 years old, says:--'His
eyes, ears, articulation, limbs, and memory would suit a boy, if a boy
could recollect a century backwards. His teeth are gone; he is a shadow,
and a wrinkled one; but his spirits and his spirit are in full bloom:
two years and a-half ago he challenged a neighbouring gentleman for
trespassing on his manor.'

[368] Once Johnson being at dinner at Sir Joshua's in company with many
painters, in the course of conversation Richardson's _Treatise on
Painting_ happened to be mentioned, 'Ah!' said Johnson, 'I remember,
when I was at college, I by chance found that book on my stairs. I took
it up with me to my chamber, and read it through, and truly I did not
think it possible to say so much upon the art.' Sir Joshua desired of
one of the company to be informed what Johnson had said; and it being
repeated to him so loud that Johnson heard it, the Doctor seemed hurt,
and added, 'But I did not wish, Sir, that Sir Joshua should have been
told what I then said.' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 236. Jonathan
Richardson the painter had published several works on painting before
Johnson went to college. He and his son, Jonathan Richardson, junior,
brought out together _Explanatory Notes on Paradise Lost_.

[369] Sir Joshua Reynolds, from the information of the younger
Richardson. BOSWELL. See _post_, Oct. 16, 1769, where Johnson himself
relates this anecdote. According to Murphy, 'Pope said, "The author,
whoever he is, will not be long concealed;" alluding to the passage in
Terence [_Eun_. ii. 3, 4], _Ubi, ubi est, diu celari non potest_.'
Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 35.

[370] Such as _far_ and _air_, which comes twice; _vain_ and _man_,
_despair_ and _bar_.

[371] It is, however, remarkable, that he uses the epithet, which
undoubtedly, since the union between England and Scotland, ought to
denominate the natives of both parts of our island:--

'Was early taught a BRITON'S rights to prize.'


Swift, in his _Journal to Stella_ (Nov. 23, 1711), having to mention
England, continues:--'I never will call it _Britain_, pray don't call it
Britain.' In a letter written on Aug. 8, 1738, again mentioning England,
he adds,--'Pox on the modern phrase Great Britain, which is only to
distinguish it from Little Britain, where old clothes and old books are
to be bought and sold' (Swift's _Works_, 1803, xx. 185). George III
'gloried in being born a Briton;' _post_, 1760. Boswell thrice more at
least describes Johnson as 'a true-born Englishman;' _post_, under Feb.
7, 1775, under March 30, 1783, and Boswell's _Hebrides_ under Aug. 11,
1773. The quotation is from _Richard II_, Act i. sc. 3.


'For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land,
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand?
There none are swept by sudden fate away,
But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay.'

_London_, 1. 9-12.

[373] In the _Life of Savage_, Johnson, criticising the settlement of
colonies, as it is considered by the poet and the politician, seems to
be criticising himself. 'The politician, when he considers men driven
into other countries for shelter, and obliged to retire to forests and
deserts, and pass their lives, and fix their posterity, in the remotest
corners of the world, to avoid those hardships which they suffer or fear
in their native place, may very properly enquire, why the legislature
does not provide a remedy for these miseries, rather than encourage an
escape from them. He may conclude that the flight of every honest man is
a loss to the community.... The poet guides the unhappy fugitive from
want and persecution to plenty, quiet, and security, and seats him in
scenes of peaceful solitude, and undisturbed repose.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 156.

[374] Three years later Johnson wrote:--'Mere unassisted merit advances
slowly, if, what is not very common, it advances at all.' _Ib_. vi. 393.

[375] 'The busy _hum_ of men.' Milton's _L'Allegro_, 1. 118.

[376] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 21, 1773, and _post_, March 21,
1775, for Johnson's attack on Lord Chatham. In the _Life of Thomson_
Johnson wrote:--'At this time a long course of opposition to Sir Robert
Walpole had filled the nation with clamours for liberty, of which no man
felt the want, and with care for liberty, which was not in danger.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 370. Hawkins says (_Life_, p. 514);--'Of
Walpole he had a high opinion. He said of him that he was a fine fellow,
and that his very enemies deemed him so before his death. He honoured
his memory for having kept this country in peace many years, as also for
the goodness and placability of his temper.' Horace Walpole (_Letters_,
v. 509), says:--'My father alone was capable of acting on one great plan
of honesty from the beginning of his life to the end. He could for ever
wage war with knaves and malice, and preserve his temper; could know
men, and yet feel for them; could smile when opposed, and be gentle
after triumph.'

[377] Johnson in the _Life of Milton_ describes himself:--'Milton was
naturally a thinker for himself, confident of his own abilities, and
disdainful of help or hindrance. From his contemporaries he neither
courted nor received support; there is in his writings nothing by which
the pride of other authors might be gratified, or favour gained; no
exchange of praise, nor solicitation of support.' Johnson's _Works_,
vii. 142. See _post_ Feb. 1766, for Johnson's opinion on 'courting
great men.'

[378] In a billet written by Mr. Pope in the following year, this school
is said to have been in _Shropshire_; but as it appears from a letter
from Earl Gower, that the trustees of it were 'some worthy gentlemen in
Johnson's neighbourhood,' I in my first edition suggested that Pope must
have, by mistake, written Shropshire, instead of Staffordshire. But I
have since been obliged to Mr. Spearing, attorney-at-law, for the
following information:--'William Adams, formerly citizen and haberdasher
of London, founded a school at Newport, in the county of Salop, by deed
dated 27th November, 1656, by which he granted "the yearly sum of _sixty
pounds_ to such able and learned schoolmaster, from time to time, being
of godly life and conversation, who should have been educated at one of
the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and had taken the degree of
_Master of Arts_, and was well read in the Greek and Latin tongues, as
should be nominated from time to time by the said William Adams, during
his life, and after the decease of the said William Adams, by the
Governours (namely, the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company
of the City of London) and their successors." The manour and lands out
of which the revenues for the maintenance of the school were to issue
are situate _at Knighton and Adbaston, in the county of Stafford_.' From
the foregoing account of this foundation, particularly the circumstances
of the salary being sixty pounds, and the degree of Master of Arts being
a requisite qualification in the teacher, it seemed probable that this
was the school in contemplation; and that Lord Gower erroneously
supposed that the gentlemen who possessed the lands, out of which the
revenues issued, were trustees of the charity.

Such was probable conjecture. But in the _Gent. Mag_. for May, 1793,
there is a letter from Mr. Henn, one of the masters of the school of
Appleby, in Leicestershire, in which he writes as follows:--

'I compared time and circumstance together, in order to discover whether
the school in question might not be this of Appleby. Some of the
trustees at that period were "worthy gentlemen of the neighbourhood of
Litchfield." Appleby itself is not far from the neighbourhood of
Litchfield. The salary, the degree requisite, together with the _time of
election_, all agreeing with the statutes of Appleby. The election, as
said in the letter, "could not be delayed longer than the 11th of next
month," which was the 11th of September, just three months after the
annual audit-day of Appleby school, which is always on the 11th of June;
and the statutes enjoin _ne ullius praeceptorum electio diutius tribus
mensibus moraretur, etc_.

'These I thought to be convincing proofs that my conjecture was not
ill-founded, and that, in a future edition of that book, the
circumstance might be recorded as fact.

'But what banishes every shadow of doubt is the _Minute-book_ of the
school, which declares the headmastership to be _at that time_ VACANT.'

I cannot omit returning thanks to this learned gentleman for the very
handsome manner in which he has in that letter been so good as to speak
of this work. BOSWELL.

[379] 'What a pity it is, Sir,' said to him Sir William Scott,
afterwards Lord Stowell, 'that you did not follow the profession of the
law! You might have been Lord Chancellor of Great Britain' _Post_,
April 17, 1778.

[380] See _post_, beginning of 1770.

[381] See _post_, March 21, 1775.

[382] In the _Weekly Miscellany_, October 21, 1738, there appeared the
following advertisement:--'Just published, Proposals for printing the
_History of the Council of Trent_, translated from the Italian of Father
Paul Sarpi; with the Authour's Life, and Notes theological, historical,
and critical, from the French edition of Dr. Le Courayer. To which are
added, Observations on the History, and Notes and Illustrations from
various Authours, both printed and manuscript. By S. Johnson. 1. The
work will consist of two hundred sheets, and be two volumes in quarto,
printed on good paper and letter. 2. The price will be 18_s_. each
volume, to be paid, half-a-guinea at the delivery of the first volume,
and the rest at the delivery of the second volume in sheets. 3.
Two-pence to be abated for every sheet less than two hundred. It may be
had on a large paper, in three volumes, at the price of three guineas;
one to be paid at the time of subscribing, another at the delivery of
the first, and the rest at the delivery of the other volumes. The work
is now in the press, and will be diligently prosecuted. Subscriptions
are taken in by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, Mr. Rivington in St. Paul's
Church-yard, by E. Cave at St. John's Gate, and the Translator, at No.
6, in Castle-street by Cavendish-square.' BOSWELL.

[383] They afterwards appeared in the _Gent. Mag_. [viii. 486] with this
title--'_Verses to Lady Firebrace, at Bury Assizes_.' BOSWELL.

[384] Du Halde's Description of China was then publishing by Mr. Cave in
weekly numbers, whence Johnson was to select pieces for the
embellishment of the _Magazine_. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[385] The premium of forty pounds proposed for the best poem on the
Divine Attributes is here alluded to. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[386] The Compositors in Mr. Cave's printing-office, who appear by this
letter to have then waited for copy. NICHOLS. BOSWELL.

[387] Twenty years later, when he was lodging in the Temple, he had
fasted for two days at a time; 'he had drunk tea, but eaten no bread;
this was no intentional fasting, but happened just in the course of a
literary life.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 4, 1773. See _post_, Aug.
5, 1763.

[388] Birch MSS. Brit. Mus. 4323. BOSWELL.

[389] See _post_, under Dec. 30, 1747, and Oct. 24, 1780.

[390] See _post_, 1750.

[391] This book was published. BOSWELL. I have not been able to find it.

[392] _The Historie of four-footed beasts and serpents_. By Edward
Topsell. London, 1607. Isaac Walton, in the _Complete Angler_, more than
once quotes Topsel. See p. 99 in the reprint of the first edition, where
he says:--'As our Topsel hath with great diligence observed.'

[393] In this preface he describes some pieces as 'deserving no other
fate than to be hissed, torn, and forgotten. Johnson's _Works_, v. 346.

[394] The letter to Mr. Urban in the January number of this year (p. 3)
is, I believe, by Johnson.

[395] 'Yet did Boerhaave not suffer one branch of science to withdraw
his attention from others; anatomy did not withhold him from chymistry,
nor chymistry, enchanting as it is, from the study of botany.' Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 276. See _post_, under Sept. 9, 1779.

[396] _Gent. Mag_. viii. 210, and Johnson's _Works_, i. 170.

[397] What these verses are is not clear. On p. 372 there is an epigram
_Ad Elisam Popi Horto Lauras carpentem_, of which on p. 429 there are
three translations. That by Urbanus may be Johnson's.

[398] _Ib_. p. 654, and Johnson's _Works_, i. 170. On p. 211 of this
volume of the _Gent. Mag_. is given the epigram 'To a lady who spoke in
defence of liberty.' This was 'Molly Aston' mentioned _ante_, p. 83.

[399] To the year 1739 belongs _Considerations on the Case of Dr.
T[rapp]s Sermons. Abridged by Mr. Cave, 1739_; first published in the
_Gent. Mag_. of July 1787. (See _post_ under Nov. 5, 1784, note.) Cave
had begun to publish in the _Gent. Mag_. an abridgment of four sermons
preached by Trapp against Whitefield. He stopped short in the
publication, deterred perhaps by the threat of a prosecution for an
infringement of copy-right. 'On all difficult occasions,' writes the
Editor in 1787, 'Johnson was Cave's oracle; and the paper now before us
was certainly written on that occasion.' Johnson argues that abridgments
are not only legal but also justifiable. 'The design of an abridgment is
to benefit mankind by facilitating the attainment of knowledge ... for
as an incorrect book is lawfully criticised, and false assertions justly
confuted ... so a tedious volume may no less lawfully be abridged,
because it is better that the proprietors should suffer some damage,
than that the acquisition of knowledge should be obstructed with
unnecessary difficulties, and the valuable hours of thousands thrown
away.' Johnson's _Works_, v. 465. Whether we have here Johnson's own
opinion cannot be known. He was writing as Cave's advocate. See also
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 20, 1773.

[400] In his _Life of Thomson_ Johnson writes:--'About this time the act
was passed for licensing plays, of which the first operation was the
prohibition of _Gustavus Vasa_, a tragedy of Mr. Brooke, whom the public
recompensed by a very liberal subscription; the next was the refusal of
_Edward and Eleonora_, offered by Thomson. It is hard to discover why
either play should have been obstructed.' Johnson's Works, viii. 373.

[401] The Inscription and the Translation of it are preserved in the
_London Magazine_ for the year 1739, p. 244. BOSWELL. See Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 89.

[402] It is a little heavy in its humour, and does not compare well with
the like writings of Swift and the earlier wits.

[403] Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 72.


'Sic fatus senior, telumque imbelle sine ictu Conjecit.' 'So spake the
elder, and cast forth a toothless spear and vain.'

Morris, _AEneids_, ii. 544.


'Get all your verses printed fair,
Then let them well be dried;
And Curll must have a special care
To leave the margin wide.
Lend these to paper-sparing Pope;
And when he sits to write,
No letter with an envelope
Could give him more delight.'

_Advice to the Grub Street Verse-Writers_. (Swift's _Works_, 1803, xi
32.) Nichols, in a note on this passage, says:--'The original copy of
Pope's _Homer_ is almost entirely written on the covers of letters, and
sometimes between the lines of the letters themselves.' Johnson, in his
_Life of Pope_, writes:--'Of Pope's domestic character frugality was a
part eminently remarkable.... This general care must be universally
approved; but it sometimes appeared in petty artifices of parsimony,
such as the practice of writing his compositions on the back of letters,
as may be seen in the remaining copy of the _Iliad_, by which perhaps in
five years five shillings were saved.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 312.

[406] See note, p. 132. BOSWELL.

[407] The _Marmor Norfolciense_, price one shilling, is advertised in
the _Gent. Mag_. for 1739 (p. 220) among the books for April.

[408] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 8. BOSWELL.

[409] According to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'Every person who knew Dr.
Johnson must have observed that the moment he was left out of the
conversation, whether from his deafness or from whatever cause, but a
few minutes without speaking or listening, his mind appeared to be
preparing itself. He fell into a reverie accompanied with strange antic
gestures; but this he never did when his mind was engaged by the
conversation. These were therefore improperly called convulsions, which
imply involuntary contortions; whereas, a word addressed to him, his
attention was recovered. Sometimes, indeed, it would be near a minute
before he would give an answer, looking as if he laboured to bring his
mind to bear on the question' (Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 456). 'I still,
however, think,' wrote Boswell, 'that these gestures were involuntary;
for surely had not that been the case, he would have restrained them in
the public streets' (Boswell's _Hebrides_, under date of Aug. 11, 1773,
note). Dr. T. Campbell, in his _Diary of a Visit to England_, p. 33,
writing of Johnson on March 16, 1775, says:--'He has the aspect of an
idiot, without the faintest ray of sense gleaming from any one
feature--with the most awkward garb, and unpowdered grey wig, on one
side only of his head--he is for ever dancing the devil's jig, and
sometimes he makes the most driveling effort to whistle some thought in
his absent paroxysms.' Miss Burney thus describes him when she first saw
him in 1778:--'Soon after we were seated this great man entered. I have
so true a veneration for him that the very sight of him inspires me with
delight and reverence, notwithstanding the cruel infirmities to which he
is subject; for he has almost perpetual convulsive movements, either of
his hands, lips, feet, or knees, and sometimes of all together.' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 63. See _post_, under March 30, 1783, Boswell's
note on Johnson's peculiarities.

[410] 'Solitude,' wrote Reynolds, 'to him was horror; nor would he ever
trust himself alone but when employed in writing or reading. He has
often begged me to go home with him to prevent his being alone in the
coach. Any company was better than none; by which he connected himself
with many mean persons whose presence he could command.' Taylor's
_Reynolds_, ii. 455. Johnson writing to Mrs. Thrale, said:--'If the
world be worth winning, let us enjoy it; if it is to be despised, let us
despise it by conviction. But the world is not to be despised but as it
is compared with something better. Company is in itself better than
solitude, and pleasure better than indolence.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 242.
In _The Idler_, No. 32, he wrote:--'Others are afraid to be alone, and
amuse themselves by a perpetual succession of companions; but the
difference is not great; in solitude we have our dreams to ourselves,
and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is
forgetfulness of ourselves.' In _The Rambler_, No. 5, he wrote:--'It may
be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive, that when a man
cannot bear his own company, there is something wrong. He must fly from
himself, either because he feels a tediousness in life from the
equipoise of an empty mind ... or he must be afraid of the intrusion of
some unpleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is struggling to escape from the
remembrance of a loss, the fear of a calamity, or some other thought of
greater horror.'

Cowper, whose temperament was in some respects not unlike Johnson's,
wrote:--'A vacant hour is my abhorrence; because, when I am not
occupied, I suffer under the whole influence of my unhappy temperament.'
Southey's _Cowper_, vi. 146.

[411] Richardson was of the same way of thinking as Hogarth. Writing of
a speech made at the Oxford Commemoration of 1754 by the Jacobite Dr.
King (see _post_, Feb. 1755), he said:--'There cannot be a greater
instance of the lenity of the government he abuses than his pestilent
harangues so publicly made with impunity furnishes (_sic_) all his
readers with.'--_Rich. Corresp_. ii. 197.

[412] Impartial posterity may, perhaps, be as little inclined as Dr.
Johnson was to justify the uncommon rigour exercised in the case of Dr.
Archibald Cameron. He was an amiable and truly honest man; and his
offence was owing to a generous, though mistaken principle of duty.
Being obliged, after 1746, to give up his profession as a physician, and
to go into foreign parts, he was honoured with the rank of Colonel, both
in the French and Spanish service. He was a son of the ancient and
respectable family of Cameron, of Lochiel; and his brother, who was the
Chief of that brave clan, distinguished himself by moderation and
humanity, while the Highland army marched victorious through Scotland.
It is remarkable of this Chief, that though he had earnestly
remonstrated against the attempt as hopeless, he was of too heroick a
spirit not to venture his life and fortune in the cause, when personally
asked by him whom he thought his prince. BOSWELL.

Sir Walter Scott states, in his Introduction to _Redgauntlet_, that the
government of George II were in possession of sufficient evidence that
Dr. Cameron had returned to the Highlands, _not_, as he alleged on his
trial, for family affairs merely, but as the secret agent of the
Pretender in a new scheme of rebellion: the ministers, however,
preferred trying this indefatigable partisan on the ground of his
undeniable share in the insurrection of 1745, rather than rescuing
themselves and their master from the charge of harshness, at the expense
of making it universally known, that a fresh rebellion had been in
agitation so late as 1752. LOCKHART. He was executed on June 7, 1753.
_Gent. Mag_. xxiii. 292. Lord Campbell (_Lives of the Chancellors_, v.
109) says:--'I regard his execution as a wanton atrocity.' Horace
Walpole, however, inclined to the belief that Cameron was engaged in a
new scheme of rebellion. Walpole's _Memoirs of George II_, i. 333.

[413] Horace Walpole says that towards convicts under sentence of death
'George II's disposition in general was merciful, if the offence was not
murder.' He mentions, however, a dreadful exception, when the King sent
to the gallows at Oxford a young man who had been 'guilty of a most
trifling forgery,' though he had been recommended to mercy by the Judge,
who 'had assured him his pardon.' Mercy was refused, merely because the
Judge, Willes, 'was attached to the Prince of Wales.' It is very likely
that this was one of Johnson's 'instances,' as it had happened about
four years earlier, and as an account of the young man had been
published by an Oxonian. Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign of George
II_, i. 175.

[414] It is strange that when Johnson had been sixteen years in London
he should not be known to Hogarth by sight. 'Mr. Hogarth,' writes Mrs.
Piozzi, 'was used to be very earnest that I should obtain the
acquaintance, and if possible, the friendship of Dr. Johnson, "whose
conversation was to the talk of other men, like Titian's painting
compared to Hudson's," he said.... Of Dr. Johnson, when my father and he
were talking together about him one day, "That man," says Hogarth, "is
not contented with believing the Bible, but he fairly resolves, I think,
to believe nothing _but_ the Bible."' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 136.

[415] On October 29 of this year James Boswell was born.

[416] In this preface is found the following lively passage:--'The Roman
Gazetteers are defective in several material ornaments of style. They
never end an article with the mystical hint, _this occasions great
speculation_. They seem to have been ignorant of such engaging
introductions as, _we hear it is strongly reported_; and of that
ingenious, but thread-bare excuse for a downright lie, _it wants

[417] The _Lives_ of Blake and Drake were certainly written with a
political aim. The war with Spain was going on, and the Tory party was
doing its utmost to rouse the country against the Spaniards. It was 'a
time,' according to Johnson, 'when the nation was engaged in a war with
an enemy, whose insults, ravages, and barbarities have long called for
vengeance.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 293.

[418] Barretier's childhood surpassed even that of J. S. Mill. At the
age of nine he was master of five languages, Greek and Hebrew being two
of them. 'In his twelfth year he applied more particularly to the study
of the fathers.' At the age of fourteen he published _Anti-Artemonius;
sive initium evangelii S. Joannis adversus Artemonium vindicatum_. The
same year the University of Halle offered him the degree of doctor in
philosophy. 'His theses, or philosophical positions, which he printed,
ran through several editions in a few weeks.' He was a deep student of
mathematics, and astronomy was his favourite subject. His health broke
down under his studies, and he died in 1740 in the twentieth year of his
age. Johnson's _Works_, vi. 376.

[419] He wrote also in 1756 _A Dissertation on the Epitaphs written by

[420] See _post_, Oct. 16, 1769.

[421] In the original _and_. _Gent. Mag_. x. 464. The title of this poem
as there given is:--'An epitaph upon the celebrated Claudy Philips,
Musician, who died very poor.'

[422] The epitaph of Phillips is in the porch of Wolverhampton Church.
The prose part of it is curious:--

'Near this place lies
Charles Claudius Phillips,
Whose absolute contempt of riches
and inimitable performances upon the
made him the admiration of all that
knew him.
He was born in Wales,
made the tour of Europe,
and, after the experience of both
kinds of fortune,
Died in 1732.'

Mr. Garrick appears not to have recited the verses correctly, the
original being as follows:--

'Exalted soul, _thy various sounds_ could please
The love-sick virgin and the gouty ease;
Could jarring _crowds_, like old Amphion, move
To beauteous order and harmonious love;
Rest here in peace, till Angels bid thee rise,
And meet thy Saviour's _consort_ in the skies.' BLAKEWAY.

_Consort_ is defined in Johnson's _Dictionary_ as _a number of
instruments playing together_.

[423] I have no doubt that it was written in 1741; for the second line
is clearly a parody of a line in the chorus of Cibber's _Birthday Ode_
for that year. The chorus is as follows:

'While thou our Master of the Main
Revives Eliza's glorious reign,
The great Plantagenets look down,
And see _your_ race adorn your crown.'

_Gent. Mag_. xi. 549.

In the _Life of Barretier_ Johnson had also this fling at George
II:--'Princes are commonly the last by whom merit is distinguished.'
Johnson's _Works_, vi. 381.

[424] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 23 and Nov. 21, 1773.

[425] Hester Lynch Salusbury, afterwards Mrs. Thrale, and later on Mrs.
Piozzi, was born on Jan. 27, 1741.

[426] This piece is certainly not by Johnson. It contains more than one
ungrammatical passage. It is impossible to believe that he wrote such a
sentence as the following:--'Another having a cask of wine sealed up at
the top, but his servant boring a hole at the bottom stole the greatest
part of it away; sometime after, having called a friend to taste his
wine, he found the vessel almost empty,' &c.

[427] Mr. Carlyle, by the use of the term 'Imaginary Editors'
(_Cromwell's Letters and Speeches_, iii. 229), seems to imply that he
does not hold with Boswell in assigning this piece to Johnson. I am
inclined to think, nevertheless, that Boswell is right. If it is
Johnson's it is doubly interesting as showing the method which he often
followed in writing the Parliamentary Debates. When notes were given
him, while for the most part he kept to the speaker's train of thoughts,
he dealt with the language much as it pleased him. In the _Gent. Mag_.
Cromwell speaks as if he were wearing a flowing wig and were addressing
a Parliament of the days of George II. He is thus made to conclude
Speech xi:--'For my part, could I multiply my person or dilate my power,
I should dedicate myself wholly to this great end, in the prosecution of
which I shall implore the blessing of God upon your counsels and
endeavours.' _Gent. Mag_. xi. 100. The following are the words which
correspond to this in the original:--'If I could help you to many, and
multiply myself into many, that would be to serve you in regard to
settlement.... But I shall pray to God Almighty that He would direct you
to do what is according to His will. And this is that poor account I am
able to give of myself in this thing.' Carlyle's _Cromwell_, iii. 255.

[428] See Appendix A.

[429] Lord Chesterfield.

[430] Duke of Newcastle.

[431] I suppose in another compilation of the same kind. BOSWELL.

[432] Doubtless, Lord Hardwick. BOSWELL.

[433] The delivery of letters by the penny-post 'was originally confined
to the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark and
the respective suburbs thereof.' In 1801 the postage was raised to
twopence. The term 'suburbs' must have had a very limited signification,
for it was not till 1831 that the limits of this delivery were extended
to all places within three miles of the General Post Office. _Ninth
Report of the Commissioners of the Post Office_, 1837, p. 4.

[434] Birch's _MSS. in the British Museum_, 4302. BOSWELL.

[435] See _post_, Dec. 1784, in Nichols's _Anecdotes_. If we may trust
Hawkins, it is likely that Johnson's 'tenderness of conscience' cost
Cave a good deal; for he writes that, while Johnson composed the
_Debates_, the sale of the _Magazine_ increased from ten to fifteen
thousand copies a month. 'Cave manifested his good fortune by buying an
old coach and a pair of older horses.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, P. 123.

[436] I am assured that the editor is Mr. George Chalmers, whose
commercial works are well known and esteemed. BOSWELL.

[437] The characteristic of Pulteney's oratory is thus given in Hazlitts
_Northcole's Conversations_ (p. 288):--'Old Mr. Tolcher used to say of
the famous Pulteney--"My Lord Bath always speaks in blank verse."'

[438] Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_, p. 100. BOSWELL.

[439] A bookseller of London. BOSWELL

[440] Not the Royal Society; but the Society for the encouragement of
learning, of which Dr. Birch was a leading member. Their object was to
assist authors in printing expensive works. It existed from about 1735
to 1746, when having incurred a considerable debt, it was
dissolved. BOSWELL.

[441] There is no erasure here, but a mere blank; to fill up which may
be an exercise for ingenious conjecture. BOSWELL.

[442] Johnson, writing to Dr. Taylor on June 10, 1742, says:--'I propose
to get _Charles of Sweden_ ready for this winter, and shall therefore,
as I imagine, be much engaged for some months with the dramatic writers
into whom I have scarcely looked for many years. Keep _Irene_ close, you
may send it back at your leisure.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S., v. 303.
_Charles of Sweden_ must have been a play which he projected.

[443] The profligate sentiment was, that 'to tell a secret to a friend
is no breach of fidelity, because the number of persons trusted is not
multiplied, a man and his friend being virtually the same.'
_Rambler_, No. 13.

[444] _Journal of a tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 167. [Sept. 10,
1773.] BOSWELL.

[445] This piece contains a passage in honour of some great critic. 'May
the shade, at least, of one great English critick rest without
disturbance; and may no man presume to insult his memory, who wants his
learning, his reason, or his wit.' Johnson's _Works_, v. 182. Bentley
had died on July 14 of this year, and there can be little question that
Bentley is meant.

[446] See _post_, end of 1744.

[447] 'There is nothing to tell, dearest lady, but that he was insolent
and I beat him, and that he was a blockhead and told of it, which I
should never have done.... I have beat many a fellow, but the rest had
the wit to hold their tongues.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 233. In the _Life of
Pope_ Johnson thus mentions Osborne:--'Pope was ignorant enough of his
own interest to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending
for the prize among the booksellers [_Dunciad_, ii. 167]. Osborne was a
man entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that
of poverty.... The shafts of satire were directed equally in vain
against Cibber and Osborne; being repelled by the impenetrable impudence
of one, and deadened by the impassive dulness of the other.' Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 302.

[448] In the original _contentions_.

[449] 'Dec. 21, 1775. In the Paper Office there is a wight, called
Thomas Astle, who lives like moths on old parchments.' Walpole's
_Letters_, vi. 299.

[450] Savage died on Aug. 1, 1743, so that this letter is misplaced.

[451] The Plain Dealer was published in 1724, and contained some account
of Savage. BOSWELL.

[452] In the _Gent. Mag_. for Sept. 1743 (p. 490) there is an epitaph on
R----d S----e, Esq., which may perhaps be this inscription. 'His life
was want,' this epitaph declares. It is certainly not the Runick
Inscription in the number for March 1742, as Malone suggests; for the
earliest possible date of this letter is seventeen months later.

[453] I have not discovered what this was. BOSWELL.

[454] The _Mag.-Extraordinary_ is perhaps the Supplement to the December
number of each year.

[455] This essay contains one sentiment eminently Johnsonian. The writer
had shown how patiently Confucius endured extreme indigence. He
adds:--'This constancy cannot raise our admiration after his former
conquest of himself; for how easily may he support pain who has been
able to resist pleasure.' _Gent. Mag_. xii. 355.

[456] In this Preface there is a complaint that has been often
repeated--'All kinds of learning have given way to politicks.'

[457] In the _Life of Pope_ (Johnson's _Works_, viii. 287) Johnson says
that Crousaz, 'however little known or regarded here, was no mean

[458] It is not easy to believe that Boswell had read this essay, for
there is nothing metaphysical in what Johnson wrote. Two-thirds of the
paper are a translation from Crousaz. Boswell does not seem to have
distinguished between Crousaz's writings and Johnson's. We have here a
striking instance of the way in which Cave sometimes treated his
readers. One-third of this essay is given in the number for March, the
rest in the number for November.


Angliacas inter pulcherrima Laura puellas,
Mox uteri pondus depositura grave,
Adsit, Laura, tibi facilis Lucina dolenti,
Neve tibi noceat praenituisse Deae.

Mr. Hector was present when this Epigram was made _impromptu_. The first
line was proposed by Dr. James, and Johnson was called upon by the
company to finish it, which he instantly did. BOSWELL. Macaulay
(_Essays_, i. 364) criticises Mr. Croker's criticism of this epigram.

[460] The lines with which this poem is introduced seem to show that it
cannot be Johnson's. He was not the man to allow that haste of
performance was any plea for indulgence. They are as follows:--'Though
several translations of Mr. Pope's verses on his Grotto have already
appeared, we hope that the following attempt, which, we are assured, was
the casual amusement of half an hour during several solicitations to
proceed, will neither be unacceptable to our readers, nor (these
circumstances considered) dishonour the persons concerned by a hasty
publication.' _Gent. Mag_. xiii. 550.

[461] See _Gent. Mag_. xiii. 560. I doubt whether this advertisement be
from Johnson's hand. It is very unlikely that he should make the
advertiser in one and the same paragraph when speaking of himself use
_us_ and _mine_. Boswell does not mention the Preface to vol. iii. of
the _Harkian Catalogue_. It is included in Johnson's _Works_ (v. 198).
Its author, be he who he may, in speaking of literature, says:--'I have
idly hoped to revive a taste well-nigh extinguished.'

[462] Johnson did not speak equally well of Dr. James's morals. 'He will
not,' he wrote, 'pay for three box tickets which he took. It is a
strange fellow.' The tickets were no doubt for Miss Williams's benefit
(Croker's _Boswell_, 8vo. p. 101). See _ante_, p. 81, and _post_, March
28, 1776, end of 1780, note.

[463] See _post_, April 5, 1776.

[464] 'TO DR. MEAD.


'That the _Medicinal Dictionary_ is dedicated to you, is to be imputed
only to your reputation for superior skill in those sciences which I
have endeavoured to explain and facilitate: and you are, therefore, to
consider this address, if it be agreeable to you, as one of the rewards
of merit; and if, otherwise, as one of the inconveniences of eminence.

'However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed; because
this publick appeal to your judgement will shew that I do not found my
hopes of approbation upon the ignorance of my readers, and that I fear
his censure least, whose knowledge is most extensive.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most obedient

'humble servant,


BOSWELL. See _post_, May 16, 1778, where Johnson said, 'Dr. Mead lived
more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man.'

[465] Johnson was used to speak of him in this manner:--'Tom is a lively
rogue; he remembers a great deal, and can tell many pleasant stories;
but a pen is to Tom a torpedo, the touch of it benumbs his hand and his
brain.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 209. Goldsmith in his _Life of Nash_
(Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv. 54) says:--'Nash was not born a
writer, for whatever humour he might have in conversation, he used to
call a pen his torpedo; whenever he grasped it, it benumbed all his
faculties.' It is very likely that Nash borrowed this saying from
Johnson. In Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 24, 1773, we read:--Dr. Birch
being mentioned, Dr. Johnson said he had more anecdotes than any man. I
said, Percy had a great many; that he flowed with them like one of the
brooks here. JOHNSON. "If Percy is like one of the brooks here, Birch
was like the River Thames. Birch excelled Percy in that as much as Percy
excels Goldsmith." Disraeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, iii, 425)
describes Dr. Birch as 'one to whom British history stands more indebted
than to any superior author. He has enriched the British Museum by
thousands of the most authentic documents of genuine secret history.'

[466] _Ante_, p. 140.

[467] In 1761 Mr. John Levett was returned for Lichfield, but on
petition was declared to be not duly elected (_Parl. Hist_. xv. 1088).
Perhaps he was already aiming at public life.

[468] One explanation may be found of Johnson's intimacy with Savage and
with other men of loose character. 'He was,' writes Hawkins, 'one of the
most quick-sighted men I ever knew in discovering the good and amiable
qualities of others' (Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 50). 'He was,' says
Boswell (_post_, April 13, 1778), 'willing to take men as they are,
imperfect, and with a mixture of good and bad qualities.' How intimate
the two men were is shown by the following passage in Johnson's _Life of
Savage_:--'Savage left London in July, 1739, having taken leave with
great tenderness of his friends, and parted from the author of this
narrative with tears in his eyes.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 173.

[469] As a specimen of his temper, I insert the following letter from
him to a noble Lord, to whom he was under great obligations, but who, on
account of his bad conduct, was obliged to discard him. The original was
in the hands of the late Francis Cockayne Cust, Esq., one of His
Majesty's Counsel learned in the law:

'_Right Honourable_ BRUTE, _and_ BOOBY,

'I find you want (as Mr. ---- is pleased to hint,) to swear away my
life, that is, the life of your creditor, because he asks you for a
debt.--The publick shall soon be acquainted with this, to judge whether
you are not fitter to be an Irish Evidence, than to be an Irish Peer.--I
defy and despise you.

'I am,

'Your determined adversary,

'R. S.'

BOSWELL. The noble Lord was no doubt Lord Tyrconnel. See Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 140. Mr. Cust is mentioned _post_, p. 170.

[470] 'Savage took all opportunities of conversing familiarly with those
who were most conspicuous at that time for their power or their
influence; he watched their looser moments, and examined their domestic
behaviour with that acuteness which nature had given him, and which the
uncommon variety of his life had contributed to increase, and that
inquisitiveness which must always be produced in a vigorous mind by an
absolute freedom from all pressing or domestic engagements.' Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 135.

[471] 'Thus he spent his time in mean expedients and tormenting
suspense, living for the greatest part in the fear of prosecutions from
his creditors, and consequently skulking in obscure parts of the town,
of which he was no stranger to the remotest corners.' _Ib_. p. 165.

[472] Sir John Hawkins gives the world to understand, that Johnson,
'being an admirer of genteel manners, was captivated by the address and
demeanour of Savage, who, as to his exterior, was, to a remarkable
degree, accomplished.' Hawkins's _Life_, p. 52. But Sir John's notions
of gentility must appear somewhat ludicrous, from his stating the
following circumstance as presumptive evidence that Savage was a good
swordsman: 'That he understood the exercise of a gentleman's weapon, may
be inferred from the use made of it in that rash encounter which is
related in his life.' The dexterity here alluded to was, that Savage, in
a nocturnal fit of drunkenness, stabbed a man at a coffee-house, and
killed him; for which he was tried at the Old-Bailey, and found guilty
of murder.

Johnson, indeed, describes him as having 'a grave and manly deportment,
a solemn dignity of mien; but which, upon a nearer acquaintance,
softened into an engaging easiness of manners.' [Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 187.] How highly Johnson admired him for that knowledge which he
himself so much cultivated, and what kindness he entertained for him,
appears from the following lines in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for
April, 1738, which I am assured were written by Johnson:


'Humani studium generis cui pectore
O colat humanum te foveatque

BOSWELL. The epigram is inscribed Ad Ricardum Savage, Arm. Humani
Generis Amatorem. _Gent. Mag_. viii. 210.

[473] The following striking proof of Johnson's extreme indigence, when
he published the _Life of Savage_, was communicated to the author, by
Mr. Richard Stow, of Apsley, in Bedfordshire, from the information of
Mr. Walter Harte, author of the _Life of Gustavus Adolphus_:

'Soon after Savage's _Life_ was published, Mr. Harte dined with Edward
Cave, and occasionally praised it. Soon after, meeting him, Cave said,
'You made a man very happy t'other day.'--'How could that be,' says
Harte; 'nobody was there but ourselves.' Cave answered, by reminding him
that a plate of victuals was sent behind a screen, which was to Johnson,
dressed so shabbily, that he did not choose to appear; but on hearing
the conversation, was highly delighted with the encomiums on his book.'
MALONE. 'He desired much to be alone, yet he always loved good talk, and
often would get behind the screen to hear it.' Great-Heart's account of
Fearing; _Pilgrim's Progress_, Part II. Harte was tutor to Lord
Chesterfield's son. See _post_, 1770, in Dr. Maxwell's _Collectanea_,
and March 30, 1781.

[474] 'Johnson has told me that whole nights have been spent by him and
Savage in a perambulation round the squares of Westminster, St. James's
in particular, when all the money they could both raise was less than
sufficient to purchase for them the shelter and sordid comforts of a
night's cellar.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, P. 53. Where was Mrs. Johnson
living at this time? This perhaps was the time of which Johnson wrote,
when, after telling of a silver cup which his mother had bought him, and
marked SAM. I., he says:--'The cup was one of the last pieces of plate
which dear Tetty sold in our distress.' _Account of Johnson's Early
Life_, p. 18. Yet it is not easy to understand how, if there was a
lodging for her, there was not one for him. She might have been living
with friends. We have a statement by Hawkins (p. 89) that there was 'a
temporary separation of Johnson from his wife.' He adds that, 'while he
was in a lodging in Fleet Street, she was harboured by a friend near the
Tower.' This separation, he insinuates, rose by an estrangement caused
by Johnson's 'indifference in the discharge of the domestic virtues.' It
is far more likely that it rose from destitution.

Shenstone, in a letter written in 1743, gives a curious account of the
streets of London through which Johnson wandered. He says;--'London is
really dangerous at this time; the pickpockets, formerly content with
mere filching, make no scruple to knock people down with bludgeons in
Fleet Street and the Strand, and that at no later hour than eight
o'clock at night; but in the Piazzas, Covent Garden, they come in large
bodies, armed with _couteaus_, and attack whole parties, so that the
danger of coming out of the play-houses is of some weight in the
opposite scale, when I am disposed to go to them oftener than I ought.'
Shenstone's _Works_ (edit.), iii. 73.

[475] 'Savage lodged as much by accident as he dined, and passed the
night sometimes in mean houses, ... and sometimes, when he had not money
to support even the expenses of these receptacles, walked about the
streets till he was weary, and lay down in the summer upon a bulk, or in
the winter, with his associates in poverty, among the ashes of a
glass-house. In this manner were passed those days and those nights
which nature had enabled him to have employed in elevated speculations,
useful studies, or pleasing conversation.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 159.

[476] See _ante_, p. 94.

[477] Cave was the purchaser of the copyright, and the following is a
copy of Johnson's receipt for the money:--'The 14th day of December,
received of Mr. Ed. Cave the sum of fifteen guineas, in full, for
compiling and writing _The Life of Richard Savage, Esq_., deceased; and
in full for all materials thereto applied, and not found by the said
Edward Cave. I say, received by me, SAM. JOHNSON. Dec. 14, 1743.'
WRIGHT. The title-page is as follows:--'An account of the Life of Mr.
Richard Savage, son of the Earl Rivers. London. Printed for J. Roberts,
in Warwick-Lane. MDCCXLIV. It reached a second edition in 1748, a third
in 1767, and a fourth in 1769. A French translation was published
in 1771.

[478] Roberts published in 1745 Johnson's _Observations on Macbeth_. See
_Gent. Mag_. xv. 112, 224.

[479] Horace, _Ars Poetica_ l. 317.

[480] In the autumn of 1752. Northcote's _Reynolds_ i. 52

[481] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd ed. p. 35 [p. 55. Aug.
19, 1773]. BOSWELL.

[482] 'mint _of_ ecstasy:' Savage's _Works_ (1777), ii. 91.

[483] 'He lives to build, not boast a generous race: No tenth
transmitter of a foolish face.' _Ib_.

[484] '_The Bastard_: A poem, inscribed with all due reverence to Mrs.
Bret, once Countess of Macclesfield. By Richard Savage, son of the late
Earl Rivers. London, printed for T. Worrall, 1728.' Fol. first edition.
P. CUNNINGHAM. Between Savage's character, as drawn by Johnson, and
Johnson himself there are many points of likeness. Each 'always
preserved a steady confidence in his own capacity,' and of each it might
be said:--'Whatever faults may be imputed to him, the virtue of
suffering well cannot be denied him.' Each 'excelled in the arts of
conversation and therefore willingly practised them.' In Savage's
refusal to enter a house till some clothes had been taken away that had
been left for him 'with some neglect of ceremonies,' we have the
counterpart of Johnson's throwing away the new pair of shoes that had
been set at his door. Of Johnson the following lines are as true as of
Savage:--'His distresses, however afflictive, never dejected him; in his
lowest state he wanted not spirit to assert the natural dignity of wit,
and was always ready to repress that insolence which the superiority of
fortune incited; ... he never admitted any gross familiarities, or
submitted to be treated otherwise than as an equal.' Of both men it
might be said that 'it was in no time of his life any part of his
character to be the first of the company that desired to separate.' Each
'would prolong his conversation till midnight, without considering that
business might require his friend's application in the morning;' and
each could plead the same excuse that, 'when he left his company, he was
abandoned to gloomy reflections.' Each had the same 'accurate judgment,'
the same 'quick apprehension,' the same 'tenacious memory.' In reading
such lines as the following who does not think, not of the man whose
biography was written, but of the biographer himself?--'He had the
peculiar felicity that his attention never deserted him; he was present
to every object, and regardful of the most trifling occurrences ... To
this quality is to be imputed the extent of his knowledge, compared with
the small time which he spent in visible endeavours to acquire it. He
mingled in cursory conversation with the same steadiness of attention as
others apply to a lecture.... His judgment was eminently exact both with
regard to writings and to men. The knowledge of life was indeed his
chief attainment.' Of Johnson's _London_, as of Savage's _The Wanderer_,
it might equally well be said:--'Nor can it without some degree of
indignation and concern be told that he sold the copy for ten guineas.'

[485] 'Savage was now again abandoned to fortune without any other
friend than Mr. Wilks; a man who, whatever were his abilities or skill
as an actor, deserves at least to be remembered for his virtues, which
are not often to be found in the world, and perhaps less often in his
profession than in others. To be humane, generous, and candid is a very
high degree of merit in any case, but those qualities deserve still
greater praise when they are found in that condition which makes almost
every other man, for whatever reason, contemptuous, insolent, petulant,
selfish, and brutal.' _Johnson's Works_, viii. 107.

[486] In his old age he wrote as he had written in the vigour of his
manhood:--'To the censure of Collier ... he [Dryden] makes little reply;
being at the age of sixty-eight attentive to better things than the
claps of a play-house.' Johnson's _Works_ vii. 295. See _post_, April
29, 1773, and Sept. 21, 1777.

[487] Johnson, writing of the latter half of the seventeenth century,
says:--'The playhouse was abhorred by the Puritans, and avoided by those
who desired the character of seriousness or decency. A grave lawyer
would have debased his dignity, and a young trader would have impaired
his credit, by appearing in those mansions of dissolute licentiousness.'
Johnson's _Works_, vii. 270. The following lines in Churchill's
_Apology_ (_Poems_, i. 65), published in 1761, shew how strong, even at
that time, was the feeling against strolling players:--

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

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

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

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

"I will speak _daggers_ to her; but use _none_;"

instead of

"I will _speak_ daggers to her; but _use_ none."'

Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 28, 1773.

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

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

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

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

[495] 1697. BOSWELL.

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

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

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

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

[499] _Ib_. p. 142.

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

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

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

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

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

POPE'S _Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady_.

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

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

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

[508] 'Among the names of subscribers to the _Harleian Miscellany_ there
occurs that of "Sarah Johnson, bookseller in Lichfield."'
_Johnsoniana_, p. 466.

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Gent. Mag_. xv. 551.

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

[513] Boswell proceeds to mention six.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[520] _Namby Pamby_ was the name given to Ambrose Philips by Pope _Ib_.
viii. 395

[521] Malone most likely is meant. Mr. Croker says:--'Johnson has
"_indifferently_" in the sense of "_without concern_" in his
_Dictionary_, with this example from _Shakespeare_, "And I will look on
death indifferently."' Johnson however here defines indifferently as _in
a neutral state; without wish or aversion_; which is not the same as
_without concern_. The passage, which is from _Julius Caesar_, i. 2, is
not correctly given. It is--

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

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

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

[523] In the original _end_.

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

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

FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, iii.2. 13.


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

[525] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_.

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

But hark, he sings! the strain ev'n Pope admires;
Indignant virtue her own bard inspires.
Sublime as juvenal he pours his lays,
And with the Roman shares congenial praise;--
In glowing numbers now he fires the age,
And Shakspeare's sun relumes the clouded stage.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[536] Ausonius, _Epigram_ i. 12.

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

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

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

[540] Birch, _MSS. Brit. Mus_. 4303. BOSWELL.

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

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

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

[544] Thomas Richards published in 1753 _Antiquae Linguae Britannicae
Thesaurus_, to which is prefixed a _Welsh Grammar_ and a collection of
British proverbs.

[545] See Sir John Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_ [p. 171], BOSWELL.

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

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

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

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

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

[551] See _Piozzi Letters_, i. 312, and _post_, May 21, 1775, note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[559] 'Johnson hardly ever spoke of Bathurst without tears in his eyes.'
Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 56. Mrs. Piozzi, after recording an anecdote that
he had related to her of his childhood, continues:--'"I cannot imagine,"
said he, "what makes me talk of myself to you so, for I really never
mentioned this foolish story to anybody except Dr. Taylor, not even to

Book of the day: