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

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

Part 12 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.

publishes the victory which you might have concealed.'

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


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

Pope's _Dunciad_, iv. 90.

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

Churchill's _Duellist_' Book iii.

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

Cowper's _Poems_, _Conversation_, 1. 299.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[793] 'His Dictionary.' WARTON.

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

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

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

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

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

[798] Pope, _Eloisa to Abelard_, 1. 38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[806] See _ante_, p. 133.

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

[808] 'In procuring him the degree of Master of Arts by diploma at

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

[810] No doubt _The Rambler_.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

_Orlando Furioso_. c. xlvi. s. 2.

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

[821] 'On Spenser.' WARTON.--BOSWELL.

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

[823] The fields north of Oxford.

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

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

[826] 'I suppose Johnson means that my _kind intention_ of being the
_first_ to give him the good news of the degree being granted was
_frustrated_, because Dr. King brought it before my intelligence
arrived.' WARTON.--BOSWELL.

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

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

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

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

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

[832] Johnson here alludes, I believe, to the charge of disloyalty
brought against the University at the time of the famous contested
election for Oxfordshire in 1754. A copy of treasonable verses was
found, it was said, near the market-place in Oxford, and the grand jury
made a presentment thereon. 'We must add,' they concluded, 'that it is
the highest aggravation of this crime to have a libel of a nature so
false and scandalous, published in a famous University, &c. _Gent. Mag_.
xxiv. 339. A reward of L200 was offered in the _London Gazette_ for the
detection of the writer or publisher,' _Ib_. p. 377.

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

Warton's _Poems_, ii. 192.

For _modus_ and _fines_ see _post_, April 25, 1778.

[835] Lucretius, i. 23


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

Cowley's _Imit. of Horace_, Odes, iii. 1.

[837] _Journal Britannique_. It was to Maty that Gibbon submitted the
manuscript of his first work. Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 123.

[838] Maty, as Prof. de Morgan pointed out, had in the autumn of 1755
been guilty of 'wilful suppression of the circumstances of Johnson's
attack on Lord Chesterfield.' In an article in his _Journal_ he regrets
the absence from the _Dictionary_ of the _Plan_. 'Elle eut epargne a
l'auteur la composition d'une nouvelle preface, qui ne contient qu'en
partie les memes choses, et qu'on est tente de regarder comme destinee a
faire perdre de vue quelques-unes des obligations que M. Johnson avait
contractees, et le Mecene qu'il avait choisi.' _Notes and Queries_, 2nd
S. iv. 341.

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

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

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

[842] 'Talking one day of the patronage the great sometimes affect to
give to literature and literary men, "Andrew Millar," says Johnson, "is
the Maecenas of the age."' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 200. Horace
Walpole, writing on May 18, 1749 (_Letters_ ii. 163), says:--'Millar the
bookseller has done very generously by Fielding; finding _Tom Jones_,
for which he had given him six hundred pounds, sell so greatly, he has
since given him another hundred.' Hume writing on July 6, 1759,
says:--'Poor Andrew Millar is declared bankrupt; his debts amount to
above L40,000, and it is said his creditors will not get above three
shillings in the pound. All the world allows him to have been diligent
and industrious; but his misfortunes are ascribed to the extravagance of
his wife, a very ordinary case in this city.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii.
64. He must soon have recovered his position, for Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto.
p. 434) met Millar at Harrogate in 1763. In the inn were several
baronets, and great squires, members of parliament, who paid Millar
civility for the use of his two newspapers which came to him by every
post. 'Yet when he appeared in the morning, in his well-worn suit of
clothes, they could not help calling him Peter Pamphlet; for the
generous patron of Scotch authors, with his city wife and her niece,
were sufficiently ridiculous when they came into good company.' Mr.
Croker (_Boswell_, p. 630) says that Millar was the bookseller described
by Johnson, _post_, April 24, 1779. as 'habitually and equably drunk.'
He is, I think, mistaken.

[843] His _Dictionary_. BOSWELL.

[844] 'A translation of Apollonius Rhodius was now intended by Mr.

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

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

[847] It was published on April 15, 1755, in two vols. folio, price L4
10_s_. bound. Johnson's _Works_, v. 51.

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

[849] 1. _Own_ not in the original. Johnson's _Works_, v. 36.

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

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

[852] _Ib_. p. 51.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[860] In the original, 'to admit _a_ definition.' _Ib_.

[861] In the original, '_drier.' Ib_. 38.

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

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

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

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

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

'_Case for the opinion of Mr. Attorney-General_.

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

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

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

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

'29th Nov. 1755. W. Murray.' In one of the Parl. Debates of 1742 Johnson
makes Pitt say that 'it is probable that we shall detect bribery
descending through a long subordination of wretches combined against the
public happiness, from the prime minister surrounded by peers and
officers of state to the exciseman dictating politics amidst a company
of mechanics whom he debauches at the public expense, and lists in the
service of his master with the taxes which he gathers.' _Parl. Hist_.,
xii. _570_. See _ante_, p. 36, note 5.

[867] He defined _Favourite_ as 'One chosen as a companion by a
superiour; a mean wretch, whose whole business is by any means to
please:' and _Revolution_ as 'change in the state of a government or
country. It is used among us _kat hexochaen_ for the change produced by
the admission of King William and Queen Mary.' For these definitions
Wilkes attacked him in _The North Briton_, No. xii. In the fourth
edition Johnson gives a second definition of _patriot_:--'It is
sometimes used for a factious disturber of the government.' Premier and
_prime minister_ are not defined. _Post_, April 14, 1775. See also
_ante_, p. 264 note, for the definition of _patron_; and _post_, April
28, 1783 for that of _alias_.

[868] 'There have been great contests in the Privy Council about the
trial of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford [on a charge of Jacobitism]: Lord
Gower pressed it extremely. He asked the Attorney-General his opinion,
who told him the evidence did not appear strong enough. Lord Gower
said:--"Mr. Attorney, you seem to be very lukewarm for your party." He
replied:--"My Lord, I never was lukewarm for my party, _nor ever was but
of one party_!"' Walpole's _Letters_, ii. 140. Mr. Croker assumes that
Johnson here 'attempted a pun, and wrote the name (as pronounced) Go'er.
Johnson was very little likely to pun, for 'he had a great contempt for
that species of wit.' _Post_, April 30, 1773.

[869] Boswell omits the salutation which follows this definition:

Chair Ithakae met haethla, met halgea pikra Haspasios teon oudas

'Dr. Johnson,' says Miss Burney, 'inquired if I had ever yet visited
_Grub-street_, but was obliged to restrain his anger when I answered
"No;" because he had never paid his respects to it himself. "However,"
says he, "you and I, Burney, will go together; we have a very good right
to go, so we'll visit the mansions of our progenitors, and take up our
own freedom together."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 415.

[870] Lord Bolingbroke had said (_Works_, in. 317): 'I approve the
devotion of a studious man at Christ Church, who was overheard in his
oratory entering into a detail with God, and acknowledging the divine
goodness in furnishing the world with makers of dictionaries. These men
court fame, as well as their betters, by such means as God has given
them to acquire it. They deserve encouragement while they continue to
compile, and neither affect wit, nor presume to reason.' Johnson himself
in _The Adventurer_, No. 39, had in 1753 described a class of men who
'employed their minds in such operations as required neither celerity
nor strength, in the low drudgery of collating copies, comparing
authorities, digesting dictionaries,' &c. Lord Monboddo, in his _Origin
of Language_, v. 273, says that 'J. C. Scaliger called the makers of
dictionaries _les portefaix de la republique des lettres_.'

[871] Great though his depression was, yet he could say with truth in
his Preface:--'Despondency has never so far prevailed as to depress me
to negligence.' _Works_, v. 43.

[872] _Ib_. p. 51. 'In the preface the author described the difficulties
with which he had been left to struggle so forcibly and pathetically
that the ablest and most malevolent of all the enemies of his fame,
Horne Tooke, never could read that passage without tears.' Macaulay's
_Misc. Writings_, p. 382. It is in _A Letter to John Dunning, Esq_. (p.
56) that Horne Tooke, or rather Horne, wrote:--'I could never read his
preface without shedding a tear.' See _post_, May 13, 1778. On Oct. 10,
1779, Boswell told Johnson, that he had been 'agreeably mistaken' in
saying:--'What would it avail me in this gloom of solitude?'

[873] It appears even by many a passage in the Preface--one of the
proudest pieces of writing in our language. 'The chief glory,' he
writes, 'of every people arises from its authors: whether I shall add
anything by my own writings to the reputation of English literature must
be left to time.' 'I deliver,' he says, 'my book to the world with the
spirit of a man that has endeavoured well.... In this work, when it
shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much
likewise is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of
tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know
whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns; yet it may
gratify curiosity to inform it, that the _English Dictionary_ was
written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage
of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the
shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction,
in sickness and in sorrow.' _Works_, v. pp. 49-51. Thomas Warton wrote
to his brother:--'I fear his preface will disgust by the expressions of
his consciousness of superiority, and of his contempt of patronage.'
Wooll's _Warton_, p. 231.

[874] That praise was slow in coming is shown by his letter to Mr.
Burney, written two years and eight months after the publication of the
_Dictionary_. 'Your praise,' he wrote, 'was welcome, not only because I
believe it was sincere, but because praise has been very scarce....
Yours is the only letter of good-will that I have received; though,
indeed, I am promised something of that sort from Sweden.' _Post_,
Dec. 24, 1757.

[875] In the _Edinburgh Review_ (No. 1, 1755)--a periodical which only
lasted two years--there is a review by Adam Smith of Johnson's
_Dictionary_. Smith admits the 'very extraordinary merit' of the author.
'The plan,' however, 'is not sufficiently grammatical.' To explain what
he intends, he inserts 'an article or two from Mr. Johnson, and opposes
to them the same articles, digested in the manner which we would have
wished him to have followed.' He takes the words _but_ and _humour_. One
part of his definition of humour is curious--'something which comes upon
a man by fits, which he can neither command nor restrain, and which is
not perfectly consistent with true politeness.' This essay has not, I
believe, been reprinted.

[876] She died in March 1752; the _Dictionary_ was published in April

[877] In the Preface he writes (_Works_, v. 49):--'Much of my life has
been lost under the pressures of disease; much has been trifled away;
and much has always been spent in provision for the day that was passing
over me.' In his fine Latin poem [Greek: Inothi seauton] 'he has left,'
says Mr. Murphy (_Life_, p. 82), 'a picture of himself drawn with as
much truth, and as firm a hand, as can be seen in the portraits of
Hogarth or Sir Joshua Reynolds.' He wrote it after revising and
enlarging his _Dictionary_, and he sadly asks himself what is left for
him to do.

Me, pensi immunis cum jam mihi reddor, inertis
Desidiae sors dura manet, graviorque labore
Tristis et atra quies, et tardae taedia vitae.
Nascuntur curis curae, vexatque dolorum
Importuna cohors, vacuae mala somnia mentis.
Nunc clamosa juvant nocturnae gaudia mensae,
Nunc loca sola placent; frustra te, somne, recumbens,
Alme voco, impatiens noctis, metuensque diei.
Omnia percurro trepidus, circum omnia lustro,
Si qua usquam pateat melioris semita vitae,
Nec quid agam invenio....
Quid faciam? tenebrisne pigram damnare senectam
Restat? an accingar studiis gravioribus audax?
Aut, hoc si nimium est, tandem nova lexica poscam?

Johnson's _Works_, i. 164.

[878] A few weeks before his wife's death he wrote in _The Rambler_ (No.
196):--'The miseries of life would be increased beyond all human power
of endurance, if we were to enter the world with the same opinions as we
carry from it.' He would, I think, scarcely have expressed himself so
strongly towards his end. Though, as Dr. Maxwell records, in his
_Collectanea_ (_post_, 1770), 'he often used to quote with great pathos
those fine lines of Virgil:--

'Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi
Prima fugit, &c.'

yet he owned, and the pages of Boswell amply testify, that it was in the
latter period of his life that he had his happiest days.

[879] _Macbeth_, Act ii. sc. 3.

[880] In the third edition, published in 1773, he left out the words
_perhaps never_, and added the following paragraph:--

'It sometimes begins middle or final syllables in words compounded, as
_block-head_, or derived from the Latin, as _compre-hended_.' BOSWELL.
In the _Abridgment_, which was published some years earlier, after
_never_ is added 'except in compounded words.'

[881] It was published in the _Gent. Mag_. for April, 1755 (xxv. 190),
just below the advertisement of the _Dictionary_.

[882] In the original, 'Milton and Shakespeare.'

[883] The number of the French Academy employed in settling their
language. BOSWELL.

[884] The maximum reward offered by a bill passed in 1714 was L20,000
for a method that determined the longitude at sea to half a degree of a
great circle, or thirty geographical miles. For less accuracy smaller
rewards were offered. _Ann. Reg_. viii. 114. In 1765 John Harrison
received L7,500 for his chronometer; he had previously been paid L2,500;
_ib_. 128. In this Act of Parliament 'the legislature never contemplated
the invention of a _method_, but only of the means of making existing
methods accurate.' _Penny Cyclo_. xiv. 139. An old sea-faring man wrote
to Swift that he had found out the longitude. The Dean replied 'that he
never knew but two projectors, one of whom ruined himself and his
family, and the other hanged himself; and desired him to desist lest one
or other might happen to him.' Swift's _Works_ (1803), xvii. 157. In
_She Stoops to Conquer_ (Act i. sc. 2), when Tony ends his directions to
the travellers by telling them,--'coming to the farmer's barn you are to
turn to the right, and then to the left, and then to the right about
again, till you find out the old mill;' Marlow exclaims: 'Zounds, man!
we could as soon find out the longitude.'

[885] Joseph Baretti, a native of Piedmont, came to England in 1750 (see
Preface to his _Account of Italy_, p. ix). He died in May, 1789. In his
_Journey from London to Genoa_ (ii. 276), he says that his father was
one of the two architects of the King of Sardinia. Shortly after his
death a writer in the _Gent. Mag_. (Iix. 469, 570), who was believed to
be Vincent, Dean of Westminster, thus wrote of him:--'Though his
severity had created him enemies, his talents, conversation, and
integrity had conciliated the regard of many valuable friends and
acquaintance. His manners were apparently rough, but not unsocial. His
integrity was in every period of his distresses constant and
unimpeached. His wants he never made known but in the last extremity. He
and Johnson had been friends in distress. One evening, when they had
agreed to go to the tavern, a foreigner in the streets, by a specious
tale of distress, emptied the Doctor's purse of the last half-guinea it
contained. When the reckoning came, what was his surprise upon his
recollecting that his purse was totally exhausted. Baretti had
fortunately enough to answer the demand, and has often declared that it
was impossible for him not to reverence a man, who could give away all
that he was worth, without recollecting his own distress.' See _post_,
Oct. 20, 1769.

[886] See note by Mr. Warton, _ante_, p. 275. BOSWELL.

[887] 'On Saturday the 12th, about twelve at night, died Mr. Zachariah
Williams, in his eighty-third year, after an illness of eight months, in
full possession of his mental faculties. He has been long known to
philosophers and seamen for his skill in magnetism, and his proposal to
ascertain the longitude by a peculiar system of the variation of the
compass. He was a man of industry indefatigable, of conversation
inoffensive, patient of adversity and disease, eminently sober,
temperate, and pious; and worthy to have ended life with better
fortune.' BOSWELL.

[888] Johnson's _Works_, v. 49. Malone, in a note on this passage,
says:--'Johnson appears to have been in this year in great pecuniary
distress, having been arrested for debt; on which occasion Richardson
became his surety.' He refers to the following letter in the _Richardson
Corres_, v. 285:--


'Tuesday, Feb. 19, 1756.


'I return you my sincerest thanks for the favour which you were pleased
to do me two nights ago. Be pleased to accept of this little book, which
is all that I have published this winter. The inflammation is come again
into my eye, so that I can write very little. I am, Sir, your most
obliged and most humble servant,


The 'little book' is not (as Mr. Croker suggests) Williams's
_Longitude_, for it was published in Jan. 1755 (_Gent. Mag_. xxv. 47);
but the _Abridgment of the Dictionary_, which was advertised in the
_Gent. Mag_. for Jan. 1756. Murphy says (_Life_, p. 86), that he has
before him a letter in Johnson's handwriting, which shows the distress
of the man who had written _The Rambler_, and finished the great work of
his _Dictionary_. It is directed to Mr. Richardson, and is as follows:--

'SIR,--I am obliged to entreat your assistance. I am now under an arrest
for five pounds eighteen shillings. Mr. Strahan, from whom I should have
received the necessary help in this case, is not at home, and I am
afraid of not finding Mr. Millar. If you will be so good as to send me
this sum, I will very gratefully repay you, and add it to all former
obligations. I am, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,


16 March.'

In the margin of this letter there is a memorandum in these
words:--'March 16, 1756. Sent six guineas. Witness, Win. Richardson.' In
the _European Mag_., vii. 54, there is the following anecdote recorded,
for which Steevens most likely was the authority:--'I remember writing
to Richardson' said Johnson, 'from a spunging-house; and was so sure of
my deliverance through his kindness and liberality, that before his
reply was brought I knew I could afford to joke with the rascal who had
me in custody, and did so over a pint of adulterated wine, for which at
that instant I had no money to pay.' It is very likely that this
anecdote has no other foundation than Johnson's second letter to
Richardson, which is dated, not from a spunging-house, but from his own
residence. What kind of fate awaited a man who was thrown into prison
for debt is shown by the following passage in Wesley's _Journal_ (ii.
267), dated Feb. 3, 1753:--'I visited one in the Marshalsea prison, a
nursery of all manner of wickedness. O shame to man, that there should
be such a place, such a picture of hell upon earth!' A few days later he
writes:--'I visited as many more as I could. I found some in their cells
under ground; others in their garrets, half starved both with cold and
hunger, added to weakness and pain.'

[889] In a Debate on the Copyright Bill on May 16, 1774, Governor
Johnstone said:--'It had been urged that Dr. Johnson had received an
after gratification from the booksellers who employed him to compile his
_Dictionary_. He had in his hand a letter from Dr. Johnson, which he
read, in which the doctor denied the assertion, but declared that his
employers fulfilled their bargain with him, and that he was satisfied.'
_Parl. Hist_. xvii. 1105.

[890] He more than once attacked them. Thus in _An Appeal to the
Public_, which he wrote for the _Gent. Mag_. in 1739 (_Works_, v. 348),
he said:--'Nothing is more criminal in the opinion of many of them, than
for an author to enjoy more advantage from his own works than they are
disposed to allow him. This is a principle so well established among
them, that we can produce some who threatened printers with their
highest displeasure, for having dared to print books for those that
wrote them.' In the _Life of Savage_ (_ib_. viii. 132), written in 1744,
he writes of the 'avarice, by which the booksellers are frequently
incited to oppress that genius by which they are supported.' In the
_Life of Dryden_ (_ib_. vii. 299), written in 1779, he speaks of an
improvement. 'The general conduct of traders was much less liberal in
those times than in our own; their views were narrower, and their
manners grosser. To the mercantile ruggedness of that race the delicacy
of the poet was sometimes exposed.'

[891] _Prayers and Meditations_, p. 40 [25]. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote to
Miss Boothby on Dec. 30, 1755:--'If I turn my thoughts upon myself, what
do I perceive but a poor helpless being, reduced by a blast of wind to
weakness and misery?... Mr. Fitzherbert sent to-day to offer me some
wine; the people about me say I ought to accept it. I shall therefore be
obliged to him if he will send me a bottle.' _Pioszi Letters_, ii. 393.

[892] _Prayers and Meditations_, p. 27. BOSWELL

[893] See _post_, April 6, 1775. Kit Smart, once a Fellow of Pembroke
Hall, Cambridge, ended his life in the King's Bench Prison; 'where he
had owed to a small subscription, of which Dr. Burney was at the head, a
miserable pittance beyond the prison allowance. In his latest letter to
Dr. Burney, he passionately pleaded for a fellow-sufferer, "whom I
myself," he impressively adds, "have already assisted according to my
willing poverty." In another letter to the same friend he said:--"I
bless God for your good nature, which please to take for a receipt."'
_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i. 205, 280.

[894] In this Essay Johnson writes (_Works_, v. 315):--'I think there is
room to question whether a great part of mankind has yet been informed
that life is sustained by the fruits of the earth. I was once, indeed,
provoked to ask a lady of great eminence for genius, "Whether she knew
of what bread is made."'

[895] In _The Universal Visiter_ this Essay is entitled, 'Reflections on
the Present State of Literature;' and in Johnson's _Works_, v. 355, 'A
Project for the Employment of Authors.' The whole world, he says, is
turning author. Their number is so large that employment must be found
for them. 'There are some reasons for which they may seem particularly
qualified for a military life. They are used to suffer want of every
kind; they are accustomed to obey the word of command from their patrons
and their booksellers; they have always passed a life of hazard and
adventure, uncertain what may be their state on the next day.... There
are some whom long depression under supercilious patrons has so humbled
and crushed, that they will never have steadiness to keep their ranks.
But for these men there may be found fifes and drums, and they will be
well enough pleased to inflame others to battle, if they are not obliged
to fight themselves.'

[896] He added it also to his _Life of Pope_.

[897] 'This employment,' wrote Murphy (_Life_, p. 88), 'engrossed but
little of Johnson's time. He resigned himself to indolence, took no
exercise, rose about two, and then received the visits of his friends.
Authors long since forgotten waited on him as their oracle, and he gave
responses in the chair of criticism. He listened to the complaints, the
schemes, and the hopes and fears of a crowd of inferior writers, "who,"
he said, in the words of Roger Ascham, "lived, men knew not how, and
died obscure, men marked not when." He believed, that he could give a
better history of Grub Street than any man living. His house was filled
with a succession of visitors till four or five in the evening. During
the whole time he presided at his tea-table.' In _The Rambler_, No. 145,
Johnson takes the part of these inferior writers:--'a race of beings
equally obscure and equally indigent, who, because their usefulness is
less obvious to vulgar apprehensions, live unrewarded and die unpitied,
and who have been long exposed to insult without a defender, and to
censure without an apologist.'

[898] In this essay (_Works_, vi. 129) Johnson describes Canada as a
'region of desolate sterility,' 'a cold, uncomfortable, uninviting
region, from which nothing but furs and fish were to be had.'

[899] The bill of 1756 that he considers passed through the Commons but
was rejected by the Lords. It is curious as showing the comparative
population of the different counties, Devonshire was to furnish 3200
men--twice as many as Lancashire. Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk were
each to furnish 1920 men; Lancashire, Surrey, Sussex, and Wiltshire
1600: Durham and Bedfordshire 800. From the three Ridings of Yorkshire
4800 were to be raised. The men were to be exercised every Sunday before
and after service. _The Literary Magazine_, p. 58.

[900] In this paper are found the forcible words, 'The desperate remedy
of desperate distress,' which have been used since by orators. _Ib_.
p. 121.

[901] Johnson considers here the war in America between the English and
French, and shows a strong feeling for the natives who had been wronged
by both nations. 'Such is the contest that no honest man can heartily
wish success to either party.... The American dispute between the French
and us is only the quarrel of two robbers for the spoils of a
passenger.' The French had this in their favour, that they had treated
the natives better than we. 'The favour of the Indians which they enjoy
with very few exceptions among all the nations of the northern continent
we ought to consider with other thoughts; this favour we might have
enjoyed, if we had been careful to deserve it.' _Works_, vi. 114, 122.

[902] These Memoirs end with the year 1745. Johnson had intended to
continue them, for he writes:--'We shall here suspend our narrative.'
_Ib_. vi. 474.

[903] See _ante_, p. 221.

[904] The sentence continues:--'and produce heirs to the father's
habiliments.' _Ib_. vi. 436. Another instance may be adduced of his
_Brownism_ in the following line:--'The war continued in an
equilibration by alternate losses and advantages.' _Ib_ 473.

[905] In a letter from the Secretary of the Tall Club in _The Guardian_,
No. 108. 'If the fair sex look upon us with an eye of favour, we shall
make some attempts to lengthen out the human figure, and restore it to
its ancient procerity.'

[906] See _post_, March 23, 1783.

[907] 'As power is the constant and unavoidable consequence of learning,
there is no reason to doubt that the time is approaching when the
Americans shall in their turn have some influence on the affairs of
mankind, for literature apparently gains ground among them. A library is
established in Carolina and some great electrical discoveries were made
at Philadelphia...The fear that the American colonies will break off
their dependence on England I have always thought chimerical and vain
... They must be dependent, and if they forsake us, or be forsaken by
us, must fall into the hands of France.' _Literary Magazine_, pp.
293, 299.

[908] Johnson, I have no doubt, wrote the _Review of A True Account of
Lisbon since the Earthquake_, in which it is stated that the destruction
was grossly exaggerated. After quoting the writer at length, he
concludes:--'Such then is the actual, real situation of _that place
which once was_ Lisbon, and has been since gazetically and
pamphletically quite destroyed, consumed, annihilated! Now, upon
comparing this simple narration of things and facts with the false and
absurd accounts which have rather insulted and imposed upon us than
informed us, who but must see the enormous disproportion?...
Exaggeration and the absurdities ever faithfully attached to it are
inseparable attitudes of the ignorant, the empty, and the affected.
Hence those eloquent tropes so familiar in every conversation,
_monstrously pretty, vastly little_; ... hence your _eminent shoe-maker,
farriers, and undertakers_.... It is to the same muddy source we owe the
many falsehoods and absurdities we have been pestered with concerning
Lisbon. Thence your extravagantly sublime figures: _Lisbon is no more;
can be seen no more_, etc., ... with all the other prodigal effusions of
bombast beyond that stretch of time or temper to enumerate. _Ib_. p. 22.
See _post_, under March 30, 1778.

[909] In the original _undigested_.

[910] Johnson's _Works_, vi. 113.

[911] In the spring of 1784, after the king had taken advantage of Fox's
India Bill to dismiss the Coalition Ministry. See _post_, March
28, 1784.

[912] In Ireland there was no act to limit the duration of parliament.
One parliament sat through the whole reign of George II--thirty-three
years. Dr. Lucas, a Dublin physician, in attacking other grievances,
attacked also this. In 1749 he would have been elected member for
Dublin, had he not, on a charge of seditious writings, been committed by
the House of Commons to prison. He was to be confined, he was told, 'in
the common hall of the prison among the felons.' He fled to England,
which was all that the government wanted, and he practised as a
physician in London. In 1761 he was restored to the liberties of the
City of Dublin and was also elected one of its members. Hardy's _Lord
Charlemont_, i. 249, 299; and _Gent. Mag_., xx. 58 and xxxi. 236.

[913] Boswell himself falls into this 'cant.' See _post_, Sept. 23,

[914] Johnson's _Works_, vi. II.

[915] _Ib_. p. 13. He vigorously attacks the style in which these
'Memoirs' are written. 'Sometimes,' he writes, 'the reader is suddenly
ravished with a sonorous sentence, of which, when the noise is past, the
meaning does not long remain.' _Ib_. p. 15.

[916] The author of _Friendship in Death_.

[917] In the _Lives of the Poets (Works, viii. 383) Johnson writes:--'Dr
Watts was one of the first authors that taught the Dissenters to court
attention by the graces of language. Whatever they had among them
before, whether of learning or acuteness, was commonly obscured and
blunted by coarseness and inelegance of style. He showed them that zeal
and purity might be expressed and enforced by polished diction.'

[918] 'Such he [Dr. Watts] was as every Christian Church would rejoice
to have adopted.' _Ib_. p. 380. See also _post_, July 7, 1777, and
May 19, 1778.

[919] Johnson's _Works_, vi. 79.

[920] Mr. Hanway would have had the support of Johnson's father, who, as
his son writes, 'considered tea as very expensive, and discouraged my
mother from keeping company with the neighbours, and from paying visits
or receiving them. She lived to say, many years after, that if the time
were to pass again, she would not comply with such unsocial
injunctions.' _Account of Johnson's Early Life_, p. 18. The Methodists,
ten years earlier than Hanway, had declared war on tea. 'After talking
largely with both the men and women Leaders,' writes Wesley, 'we agreed
it would prevent great expense, as well of health as of time and of
money, if the poorer people of our society could be persuaded to leave
off drinking of tea.' Wesley's _Journal_, i. 526. Pepys, writing in
1660, says: 'I did send for a cup of tee, (a China drink) of which I
never had drank before.' Pepys' _Diary_, i. 137. Horace Walpole
(_Letters_, i. 224) writing in 1743 says:--'They have talked of a new
duty on tea, to be paid by every housekeeper for all the persons in
their families; but it will scarce be proposed. Tea is so universal,
that it would make a greater clamour than a duty on wine.' In October
1734 tea was sold in London at the following prices:--Ordinary Bohca 9s.
per lb. Fine Bohca 10s. to 12s. per lb. Pekoe 15s. per lb. Hyson 20s. to
25s. per lb. _Gent. Mag_. iv. 575.

[921] Yet in his reply to Mr. Hanway he said (_Works_, vi. 33):--'I
allowed tea to be a barren superfluity, neither medicinal nor
nutritious, that neither supplied strength nor cheerfulness, neither
relieved weariness, nor exhilarated sorrow.' Cumberland writes
(_Memoirs_, i. 357):--'I remember when Sir Joshua Reynolds at my house
reminded Dr. Johnson that he had drank eleven cups, he replied: "Sir, I
did not count your glasses of wine, why should you number up my cups of
tea?" And then laughing in perfect good humour he added:--"Sir, I should
have released the lady from any further trouble, if it had not been for
your remark; but you have reminded me that I want one of the dozen, and
I must request Mrs. Cumberland to round up my number."'

[922] In this Review Johnson describes himself as 'a hardened and
shameless tea-drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with
only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely
time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the
midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 21.
That 'he never felt the least inconvenience from it' may well be
doubted. His nights were almost always bad. In 1774 he recorded:--'I
could not drink this day either coffee or tea after dinner. I know not
when I missed before.' The next day he recorded:--'Last night my sleep
was remarkably quiet. I know not whether by fatigue in walking, or by
forbearance of tea.' _Diary of a Journey into North Wales_, Aug. 4.

[923] See _post_, May, 1768.


'Losing, he wins, because his
name will be
Ennobled by defeat who durst
contend with me.'

DRYDEN, Ovid, _Meta_., xiii. 19.

[925] In Hanway's _Essay_ Johnson found much to praisc. Hanway often
went to the root when he dealt with the evils of life. Thus he
writes:--'The introducing new habits of life is the most substantial
charity.' But he thus mingles sense and nonsense:--'Though tea and gin
have spread their baneful influence over this island and his Majesty's
other dominions, yet you may be well assured that the Governors of the
Foundling Hospital will exert their utmost skill and vigilance to
prevent the children under their care from being poisoned, or enervated,
by one or the other.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 26, 28.

[926] 'Et pourquoi tuer cet amiral? C'est, lui dit-on, parce qu'il n'a
pas fait tuer assez de monde; il a livre un combat a un amiral francais,
et on a trouve qu'il n'etait pas assez pres de lui. Mais, dit Candide,
l'amiral francais etait aussi loin de l'amiral anglais que celui-ci
l'etait de l'autre. Cela est incontestable, lui repliquat-on; mais dans
ce pays-ci il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour
encourager les autres.' _Candide_, ch. xxiii.

[927] See _post_, June 3, 1781, when Boswell went to this church.

[928] Johnson reprinted this Review in a small volume by itself. See
Johnson's _Works_, vi. 47, note.


'I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth.'

Henry VIII, Act iii. sc. 2.

[930] _Musical Travels through England_, by Joel Collier [not Collyer],
Organist, 1774. This book was written in ridicule of Dr. Burney's
_Travels_, who, says his daughter, 'was much hurt on its first
appearance.' Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_, i. 259.

[931] See _ante_, p. 223.

[932] Some time after Dr. Johnson's death there appeared in the
newspapers and magazines an illiberal and petulant attack upon him, in
the form of an Epitaph, under the name of Mr. Soame Jenyns, very
unworthy of that gentleman, who had quietly submitted to the critical
lash while Johnson lived. It assumed, as characteristicks of him, all
the vulgar circumstances of abuse which had circulated amongst the
ignorant. It was an unbecoming indulgence of puny resentment, at a time
when he himself was at a very advanced age, and had a near prospect of
descending to the grave. I was truly sorry for it; for he was then
become an avowed, and (as my Lord Bishop of London, who had a serious
conversation with him on the subject, assures me) a sincere Christian.
He could not expect that Johnson's numerous friends would patiently bear
to have the memory of their master stigmatized by no mean pen, but that,
at least, one would be found to retort. Accordingly, this unjust and
sarcastick Epitaph was met in the same publick field by an answer, in
terms by no means soft, and such as wanton provocation only
could justify:


'_Prepared for a creature_ not quite dead _yet_.

'Here lies a little ugly nauseous elf,
Who judging only from its wretched self,
Feebly attempted, petulant and vain,
The "Origin of Evil" to explain.
A mighty Genius at this elf displeas'd,
With a strong critick grasp the urchin squeez'd.
For thirty years its coward spleen it kept,
Till in the duat the mighty Genius slept;
Then stunk and fretted in expiring snuff,
And blink'd at JOHNSON with its last poor puff.'


The epitaph is very likely Boswell's own. For Jenyns's conversion see
_post_, April 12 and 15, 1778.

[933] Mr. John Payne, afterwards chief accountant of the Bank, one of
the four surviving members of the Ivy Lane Club who dined together in
1783. See Hawkins's _Johnson_, pp. 220, 563; and _post_, December, 1783.

[934] See _post_, under March 19, 1776.

[935] 'He said, "I am sorry I have not learnt to play at cards. It is
very useful in life; it generates kindness and consolidates society."'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 21, 1773.

[936] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3d edit. p. 48. [Aug. 19.]

[937] Johnson's _Works_, p. 435.

[938] He was paid at the rate of a little over twopence a line. For this
Introduction see _Ib_. 206.

[939] See _post_, Oct. 26, 1769.

[940] See _post_, April 5, 1775.

[941] In 1740 he set apart the yearly sum of L100 to be distributed, by
way of premium, to the authors of the best inventions, &c., in Ireland.
Chalmers's _Biog. Dict_.

[942] _Boulter's Monument. A Panegyrical Poem, sacred to the memory of
that great and excellent prelate and patriot, the Most Reverend Dr. Hugh
Boulter; Late Lord-Archbishop of Ardmagh, and Primate of All Ireland_.
Dublin, 1745. Such lines as the following might well have been blotted,
but of them the poem is chiefly formed:--

'My peaceful song in lays instructive paints
The first of mitred peers and Britain's saints.' p. 2.
'Ha! mark! what gleam is that which paints the air?
The blue serene expands! Is Boulter there?' p. 88.

The poet addresses Boulter's successor Hoadley, who he says,

'Shall equal him; while, like Elisha, you
Enjoy his spirit, and his mantle too.' p. 89.

A note to _mantle_ says 'Alluding to the metropolitan pallium.'

Boulter is the bishop in Pope's lines, (_Prologue to the Satires_, 1.

'Does not one table Bavius still admit?

'Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit?'

Pattison's _Pope's Satires_, p. 107. In the _Life of Addison_, Johnson
mentioning Dr. Madden adds:--'a name which Ireland ought to honour.'
Johnson's _Works_, vii. 455.

[943] See _ante_, p. 175. Hawkins writes (_Life_, p. 363):--'I
congratulated him length, on his being now engaged in a work that suited
his genius. His answer was:--"I look upon this as I did upon the
_Dictionary_; it is all work, and my inducement to it is not love or
desire of fame, but the want of money, which is the only motive to
writing that I know of."'

[944] They have been reprinted by Mr. Malone, in the Preface to his
edition of _Shakspeare_. BOSWELL.

[945] At Christmas, 1757, he said that he should publish about March,
1758 (_post_, Dec. 24, 1757). When March came he said that he should
publish before summer (_post_, March 1, 1758).

[946] In what Johnson says of Pope's slow progress in translating the
_Iliad_, he had very likely his own case in view. 'Indolence,
interruption, business, and pleasure all take their turns of
retardation; and every long work is lengthened by a thousand causes that
can, and ten thousand that cannot be recounted. Perhaps no extensive and
multifarious performance was ever effected within the term originally
fixed in the undertaker's mind. He that runs against time has an
antagonist not subject to casualties.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 255. In
Prior's _Goldsmith_ (i. 238) we have the following extracts from letters
written by Grainger (_post_, March 21, 1776) to Dr. Percy:--'June 27,
1758. I have several times called on Johnson to pay him part of your
subscription [for his edition of _Shakespeare_]. I say, part, because he
never thinks of working if he has a couple of guineas in his pocket; but
if you notwithstanding order me, the whole shall be given him at once.'
'July 20, 1758. As to his _Shakespeare, movet sed non promovet_. I shall
feed him occasionally with guineas.'

[947] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 440) says that 'Reynolds and some other of his
friends, who were more concerned for his reputation than himself seemed
to be, contrived to entangle him by a wager, or some other pecuniary
engagement, to perform his task by a certain time.' Just as Johnson was
oppressed by the engagement that he had made to edit _Shakespeare_, so
was Cowper by his engagement to edit _Milton_. 'The consciousness that
there is so much to do and nothing done is a burthen I am not able to
bear. _Milton_ especially is my grievance, and I might almost as well be
haunted by his ghost, as goaded with such continual reproaches for
neglecting him.' Southey's _Cowper_, vii. 163.

[948] From _The Ghost_, Bk. iii. 1. 801. Boswell makes two slight errors
in quoting: 'You cash' should be 'their cash; and 'you know' should be
'we know.'

[949] See _post_, April 17, 1778.

[950] Mrs. Thrale writing to him in 1777, says:--'You would rather be
sick in London than well in the country.' _Piozzi Letters_. i. 394. Yet
Johnson, when he could afford to travel, spent far more time in the
country than is commonly thought. Moreover a great part of each summer
from 1766 to 1782 inclusive he spent at Streatham.

[951] The motto to this number

'Steriles nec legit arenas,
Ut caneret paucis, mersitque hoc pulvere verum.'


Johnson has thus translated:--

'Canst thou believe the vast eternal mind
Was e'er to Syrts and Libyan sands confin'd?
That he would choose this waste, this barren ground,
To teach the thin inhabitants around,
And leave his truth in wilds and deserts drown'd?'

[952] It was added to the January number of 1758, but it was dropped in
the following numbers.

[953] According to the note in the _Gent. Mag_. the speech was delivered
'at a certain respectable talking society.' The chairman of the meeting
is addressed as Mr. President. The speech is vigorously written and is,
I have no doubt, by Johnson. 'It is fit,' the speaker says, 'that those
whom for the future we shall employ and pay may know they are the
servants of a people that _expect duty for their money_. It is said an
address expresses some distrust of the king, or may tend to disturb his
quiet. An English king, Mr. President, has no great right to quiet when
his people are in misery.'

[954] See _post_, May 19, 1777.

[955] See _post_, March 21, 1772.

[956] 'I have often observed with wonder, that we should know less of
Ireland than of any other country in Europe.' Temple's _Works_, iii. 82.

[957] The celebrated oratour, Mr. Flood has shewn himself to be of Dr.
Johnson's opinion; having by his will bequeathed his estate, after the
death of his wife Lady Frances, to the University of Dublin; 'desiring
that immediately after the said estate shall come into their possession,
they shall appoint two professors, one for the study of the native Erse
or Irish language, and the other for the study of Irish antiquities and
Irish history, and for the study of any other European language
illustrative of, or auxiliary to, the study of Irish antiquities or
Irish history; and that they shall give yearly two liberal premiums for
two compositions, one in verse, and the other in prose, in the Irish
language.' BOSWELL.

[958] Dr. T. Campbell records in his _Diary of a Visit to England_ (p.
62), that at the dinner at Messieurs Dilly's (_post_, April 5, 1775) he
'ventured to say that the first professors of Oxford, Paris, &c., were
Irish. "Sir," says Johnson, "I believe there is something in what you
say, and I am content with it, since they are not Scotch."'

[959] 'On Mr. Thrale's attack of apoplexy in 1779, Johnson wrote to Mrs.
Thrale:--'I remember Dr. Marsigli, an Italian physician, whose seizure
was more violent than Mr. Thrale's, for he fell down helpless, but his
case was not considered as of much danger, and he went safe home, and is
now a professor at Padua.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 48.

[960] 'Now, or late, Vice-Chancellor.' WARTON.--BOSWELL. He was
Vice-Chancellor when Johnson's degree was conferred (_ante_, p. 282),
but his term of office had now come to an end.

[961] 'Mr. Warton was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in the
preceding year.' WARTON.-BOSWELL.

[962] 'Miss Jones lived at Oxford, and was often of our parties. She was
a very ingenious poetess, and published a volume of poems; and, on the
whole, was a most sensible, agreeable, and amiable woman. She was a
sister to the Reverend River Jones, Chanter of Christ Church Cathedral
at Oxford, and Johnson used to call her the _Chantress_. I have heard
him often address her in this passage from _Il Penseroso_:

"Thee, Chantress, oft the woods among I woo," etc.

She died unmarried.' WHARTON

[963] Tom. iii. p. 482. BOSWELL.

[964] Of _Shakspeare_. BOSWELL.

[965] This letter is misdated. It was written in Jan. 1759, and not in
1758. Johnson says that he is forty-nine. In Jan. 1758 he was
forty-eight. He mentions the performance of _Cleane_, which was at the
end of 1758; and he says that 'Murphy is to have his _Orphan of China_
acted next month.' It was acted in the spring of 1759.

[966] _Juvenal_, Sat. iii. 1.

'Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel,
When injured Thales bids the town farewell,
Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend,
I praise the hermit, but regret the friend;
Resolved at length from vice and London far
To breathe in distant fields a purer air,
And fixed on Cambria's solitary shore
Give to St. David one true Briton more.'

Johnson's _London_, l. 1.

[967] Mr. Garrick. BOSWELL.

[968] Mr. Dodsley, the Authour of _Cleone_. BOSWELL. Garrick, according
to Davies, had rejected Dodsley's _Cleone_, 'and had termed it a cruel,
bloody, and unnatural play.' Davies's _Garrick_, i. 223. Johnson himself
said of it:--'I am afraid there is more blood than brains.' _Post_,
1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_. The night it was brought out at
Covent Garden, Garrick appeared for the first time as Marplot in the
_Busy Body_ at Drury Lane. The next morning he wrote to congratulate
Dodsley on his success, and asked him at the same time to let him know
how he could support his interest without absolutely giving up his own.
To this Dodsley returned a cold reply. Garrick wrote back as follows:--

'Master Robert Dodsley,

When I first read your peevish answer to my well-meant proposal to you,
I was much disturbed at it--but when I considered, that some minds
cannot bear the smallest portion of success, I most sincerely pitied
you; and when I found in the same letter, that you were graciously
pleased to dismiss me from your acquaintance, I could not but confess so
apparent an obligation, and am with due acknowledgements,

Master Robert Dodsley,

Your most obliged

David Garrick.'

Garrick _Corres_., i. 80 (where the letters that passed are wrongly
dated 1757). Mrs. Bellamy in her _Life_ (iii. 109) says that on the
evening of the performance she was provoked by something that Dodsley
said, 'which,' she continues, 'made me answer that good man with a
petulance which afterwards gave me uneasiness. I told him that I had a
reputation to lose as an actress; but, as for his piece, Mr. Garrick had
anticipated the damnation of it publicly, the preceding evening, at the
Bedford Coffee-house, where he had declared that it could not pass
muster, as it was the very worst piece ever exhibited.' Shenstone
(_Works_, iii. 288) writing five weeks after the play was brought out,
says:--'Dodsley is now going to print his fourth edition. He sold 2000
of his first edition the very first day he published it.' The price was

[969] Mrs. Bellamy (_Life_, iii. 108) says that Johnson was present at
the last rehearsal. 'When I came to repeat, "Thou shalt not murder," Dr.
Johnson caught me by the arm, and that somewhat too briskly, saying, at
the same time, "It is a commandment, and must be spoken, Thou shalt
_not_ murder." As I had not then the honour of knowing personally that
great genius, I was not a little displeased at his inforcing his
instructions with so much vehemence.' The next night she heard, she
says, amidst the general applause, 'the same voice which had instructed
me in the commandment, exclaim aloud from the pit, "I will write a copy
of verses upon her myself." I knew that my success was insured.' See
_post_, May 11, 1783.

[970] Dodsley had published his _London_ and his _Vanity of Human
Wishes_ (_ante_, pp. 124, 193), and had had a large share in the
_Dictionary_, (_ante_, p. 183).

[971] It is to this that Churchill refers in the following lines:--

'Let them [the Muses] with Glover o'er Medea doze;
Let them with Dodsley wail Cleone's woes,
Whilst he, fine feeling creature, all in tears,
Melts as they melt, and weeps with weeping Peers.'

_The Journey_. _Poems_, ii. 328.

[972] See _post_ p. 350, note.

[973] Mr. Samuel Richardson, authour of _Clarissa_. BOSWELL.

[974] In 1753 when in Devonshire he charged five guineas a head
(Taylor's _Reynolds_, i. 89); shortly afterwards, when he removed to
London, twelve guineas (_ib_. p. 101); in 1764, thirty guineas; for a
whole length 150 guineas (_ib_. p. 224). Northcote writes that 'he
sometimes has lamented the being interrupted in his work by idle
visitors, saying, "those persons do not consider that my time is worth
to me five guineas an hour."' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 83.

[975] 'Miss Reynolds at first amused herself by painting miniature
portraits, and in that part of the art was particularly successful. In
her attempts at oil-painting, however, she did not succeed, which made
Reynolds say jestingly, that her pictures in that way made other people
laugh and him cry; and as he did not approve of her painting in oil, she
generally did it by stealth.' _Ib_. ii. 160.

[976] Murphy was far from happy. The play was not produced till April;
by the date of Johnson's letter, he had not by any means reached the end
of what he calls 'the first, and indeed, the last, disagreeable
controversy that he ever had with Mr. Garrick.' Murphy's _Garrick_,
p. 213.

[977] This letter was an answer to one in which was enclosed a draft for
the payment of some subscriptions to his _Shakspeare_. BOSWELL.

[978] In the Preface he says:--(_Works_, v. 52) 'I have not passed over
with affected superiority what is equally difficult to the reader and to
myself, but where I could not instruct him, have owned my ignorance.'

[979] Northcote gives the following account of this same garret in
describing how Reynolds introduced Roubiliac to Johnson. 'Johnson
received him with much civility, and took them up into a garret, which
he considered as his library; where, besides his books, all covered with
dust, there was an old crazy deal table, and a still worse and older
elbow chair, having only three legs. In this chair Johnson seated
himself, after having, with considerable dexterity and evident practice,
first drawn it up against the wall, which served to support it on that
side on which the leg was deficient.' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 75.
Miss Reynolds improves on the account. She says that 'before Johnson had
the pension he literally dressed like a beggar; and, from what I have
been told, he as literally lived as such; at least as to common
conveniences in his apartments, wanting even a chair to sit on,
particularly in his study, where a gentleman who frequently visited him,
whilst writing his _Idlers_, constantly found him at his desk, sitting
on one with three legs; and on rising from it, he remarked that Dr.
Johnson never forgot its defect, but would either hold it in his hand,
or place it with great composure against some support, taking no notice
of its imperfection to his visitor. It was remarkable in Johnson, that
no external circumstances ever prompted him to make any apology, or to
seem even sensible of their existence.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 832.
There can be little question that she is describing the same room--a
room in a house in which Miss Williams was lodged, and most likely Mr.
Levet, and in which Mr. Burney dined; and in which certainly there must
have been chairs. Yet Mr. Carlyle, misled by her account, says:--'In his
apartments, at one time, there were unfortunately no chairs.' Carlyle's
_Miscellanies_, ed. 1872, iv. 127.

[980] In his _Life of Pope_ (_Works_, viii. 272) Johnson calls Theobald
'a man of heavy diligence, with very slender powers.' In the Preface to
Shakspeare he admits that 'what little he did was commonly right.' _Ib_.
v. 137. The Editors of the _Cambridge Shakespeare_ on the other hand
say:--'Theobald, as an Editor, is incomparably superior to his
predecessors, and to his immediate successor Warburton, although the
latter had the advantage of working on his materials. Many most
brilliant emendations are due to him.' On Johnson's statement that
'Warburton would make two-and-fifty Theobalds, cut into slices,' they
write:--'From this judgment, whether they be compared as critics or
editors, we emphatically dissent.' _Cambridge Shakespeare_, i., xxxi.,
xxxiv., note. Among Theobald's 'brilliant emendations' are 'a'babbled of
green fields' (_Henry V_, ii. 3), and 'lackeying the varying tide.'
(_Antony and Cleopatra_, i.4).

[981] '_A familiar epistle_ [by Lord Bolingbroke] _to the most impudent
man living_, 1749.' _Brit. Mus. Catal_.

[982] 'Mallet, by address or accident, perhaps by his dependence on the
prince [of Wales], found his way to Bolingbroke, a man whose pride and
petulance made his kindness difficult to gain or keep, and whom Mallet
was content to court by an act, which, I hope, was unwillingly
performed. When it was found that Pope had clandestinely printed an
unauthorised number of the pamphlet called _The Patriot King_,
Bolingbroke, in a fit of useless fury, resolved to blast his memory, and
employed Mallet (1749) as the executioner of his vengeance. Mallet had
not virtue, or had not spirit, to refuse the office; and was rewarded
not long after with the legacy of Lord Bolingbroke's works.' Johnson's
_Works_, viii. 467. See _ante_, p. 268, and Walpole's _Letters_,
ii. 159.

[983] _A View of Lord Bolingbroke's Philosophy in Four Letters to a
Friend_, 1754-5.

[984] A paper under this name had been started seven years earlier. See
_Carter and Talbot Corres_., ii. 33.

[985] In the two years in which Johnson wrote for this paper it saw many
changes. The first _Idler_ appeared in No. 2 of the _Universal Chronicle
or Weekly Gazette_, which was published not by Newbery, but by J. Payne.
On April 29, this paper took the title of _Payne's Universal Chronicle_,
etc. On Jan. 6, 1759, it resumed the old title and was published by R.
Stevens. On Jan. 5, 1760, the title was changed to _The Universal
Chronicle and Westminster Journal_, and it was published by W. Faden and
R. Stevens. On March 15, 1760, it was published by R. Stevens alone. The
paper consisted of eight pages. _The Idler_, which varied in length,
came first, and was printed in larger characters, much like a leading
article. The changes in title and ownership seem to show that in spite
of Johnson's contributions it was not a successful publication.

[986] 'Those papers may be considered as a kind of syllabus of all
Reynolds's future discourses, and certainly occasioned him some thinking
in their composition. I have heard him say, that Johnson required them
from him on a sudden emergency, and on that account, he sat up the whole
night to complete them in time; and by it he was so much disordered,
that it produced a vertigo in his head.' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 89,
Reynolds must have spoken of only one paper; as the three, appearing as
they did on Sept. 29, Oct. 20, and Nov. 10, could not have been required
at one time.

[987] 'To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and
therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty
from others, and his idleness from himself.' _The Idler_, No. 17.

[988] Prayers and Meditations, p. 30 [36], BOSWELL.

[989] In July, 1759.

[990] This number was published a few days after his mother's death. It
is in the form of a letter, which is thus introduced:-'The following
letter relates to an affliction perhaps not necessary to be imparted to
the publick; but I could not persuade myself to suppress it, because I
think I know the sentiments to be sincere, and I feel no disposition to
provide for this day any other entertainment.'

[991] In the table of contents the title of No. 58 is, 'Expectations of
pleasure frustrated.' In the original edition of _The Idler_ no titles
are given. In this paper he shews that 'nothing is more hopeless than a
scheme of merriment.'

[992] In this paper he begins by considering, 'why the only thinking
being of this globe is doomed to think merely to be wretched, and to
pass his time from youth to age in fearing or in suffering calamities.'
He ends by asserting that 'of what virtue there is, misery produces far
the greater part.'

[993] 'There are few things,' he writes, 'not purely evil, of which we
can say, without some emotion of uneasiness, _this is the last_.... The
secret horrour of the last is inseparable from a thinking being, whose
life is limited, and to whom death is dreadful.'

[994] 'I asked him one day, why the _Idlers_ were published without
mottoes. He replied, that it was forborne the better to conceal himself,
and escape discovery. "But let us think of some now," said he, "for the
next edition. We can fit the two volumnes in two hours, can't we?"
Accordingly he recollected, and I wrote down these following (nine
mottoes) till come friend coming in, in about five minutes, put an end
to our further progress on the subject.' _Piossi Letters_, ii. 388.

[995] See _post_, July 14 and 26, 1763, April 14, 1775, and Aug. 2,
1784, note for instances in which Johnson ridicules the notion that
weather and seasons have any necessary effect on man; also April 17,
1778. In the _Life of Milton_ (_Works_. vii. 102), he writes:--'this
dependence of the soul upon the seasons, those temporary and periodical
ebbs and flows of intellect, may, I suppose, justly be derided as the
fumes of vain imagination. _Sapiens dominabitur astro_. The author that
thinks himself weather-bound will find, with a little help from
hellebore, that he is only idle or exhausted. But while this notion has
possession of the head, it produces the inability with it supposes. Our
powers owe much of their energy to our hopes; _possunt quin posse
vidertur_.' Boswell records, in his _Hebrides_ (Aug. 16, 1773), that
when 'somebody talked of happy moments for composition,' Johnson
said:--'Nay, a man may write at any time, if he will set himself
_doggedly_ to it.' Reynolds, who Alas! avowed how much he had learnt
from Johnson (_ante_, p. 245), says much the same in his _Seventh
Discourse_: 'But when, in plain prose, we gravely talk of courting the
Muse in shady bowers; waiting the call and inspiration of Genius ... of
attending to times and seasons when the imagination shoots with the
greatest vigour, whether at the summer solstice or the vernal equinox
... when we talk such language or entertain such sentiments as these, we
generally rest contented with mere words, or at best entertain notions
not only groundless but pernicious.' Reynolds's _Works_, i. 150. On the
other hand, in 1773 Johnson recorded:--'Between Easter and Whitsuntide,
having always considered that time as propitious to study, I attempted
to learn the Low-Dutch language.' _Post_, under May 9, 1773. In _The
Rambler_, No. 80, he says:--'To the men of study and imagination the
winter is generally the chief time of labour. Gloom and silence produce
composure of mind and concentration of ideas.' In a letter to Mrs.
Thrale, written in 1775, he says:--'Most men have their bright and their
Cloudy days, at least they have days when they put their powers into
act, and days when they suffer them to repose.' _Piozzi Letters_, i.
265. In 1781 he wrote:--'I thought myself above assistance or
obstruction from the seasons; but find the autumnal blast sharp and
nipping, and the fading world an uncomfortable prospect.' _Ib_. ii. 220.
Again, in the last year of his life he wrote:--'The: weather, you know,
has not been balmy. I am now reduced to think, and am at least content
to talk, of the weather. Pride must have a fall.' _Post_, Aug. 2, 1784.

[996] Addison's _Cato_, act i. sc. 4.

[997] Johnson, reviewing the Duchess of Marlborough's attack on Queen
Mary, says (_Works_, vi. 8):--'This is a character so different from all
those that have been hitherto given of this celebrated princess, that
the reader stands in suspense, till he considers that ... it has
hitherto had this great advantage, that it has only been compared with
those of kings.'

[998] Johnson had explained how it comes to pass that Englishmen talk so
commonly of the weather. He continues:--'Such is the reason of our
practice; and who shall treat it with contempt? Surely not the attendant
on a court, whose business is to watch the looks of a being weak and
foolish as himself, and whose vanity is to recount the names of men, who
might drop into nothing, and leave no vacuity.... The weather is a
nobler and more interesting subject; it is the present state of the
skies and of the earth, on which plenty and famine are suspended, on
which millions depend for the necessaries of life.' 'Garrick complained
that when he went to read before the court, not a look or a murmur
testified approbation; there was a profound stillness--every one only
watched to see what the king thought.' Hazlitt's _Conversations of
Northcote_, p. 262.

[999] _The Idler_, No. 90. See _post_, April 3, 1773, where he declaims
against action in public speaking.

[1000] He now and then repeats himself. Thus, in _The Idler_, No. 37, he
moralises on the story, how Socrates, passing through the fair at
Athens, cried out:--'How many things are here which I do not need!'
though he had already moralised on it in _the Adventurer_, Nos. 67, 119.

[1001] No. 34.

[1002] _Poems on Several Occasions_, by Thomas Blacklock, p. 179. See
_post_, Aug. 5, 1763, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17, 1773.

[1003] 'Among the papers of Newbery, in the possession of Mr. Murray, is
the account rendered on the collection of _The Idler_ into two small
volumes, when the arrangement seems to have been that Johnson should
receive two-thirds of the profits.

_The Idler_.

'DR. L. s. d.
Paid for Advertising.. 20 0 6
Printing two vols., 1,500 41 13 0
Paper. . . . . . . 52 3 0
* * * * *
L113 16 6
Profit on the edition . 126 3 6
* * * * *
L240 0 0
* * * * *
'CR. L. s. d.
1,500 Sets at 16L per 100 240 0 0
* * * * *
Dr. Johnson two-thirds 84 2 4
Mr. Newbery one-third. 42 1 2
* * * * *
L126 3 6
* * * * *

Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 204.

If this account is correctly printed, the sale must have been slow. The
first edition (2 vols. 5s.) was published in Oct. 1761, (_Gent. Mag_.
xxxi. 479). Johnson is called Dr. in the account; but he was not made an
LL.D. till July 1765. Prior, in his _Life of Goldsmith_ (i. 459),
publishes an account between Goldsmith and Newbery in which the first
entry is:--

'1761. Oct. 14, 1 set of
_The Idler_. . . . . L0 50 0.'

Johnson, as Newbery's papers show, a year later bought a copy of
Goldsmith's _Life of Nash_; _ib_. p. 405.

[1004] See _ante_, p. 306.

[1005] This paper may be found in Stockdale's supplemental volume of
Johnson's _Miscellaneous Pieces_. BOSWELL. Stockdale's supplemental
volumes--for there are two--are vols. xii. and xiii. of what is known as
'Hawkins's edition.' In this paper (_Works_, iv. 450) he represents in a
fable two vultures speculating on that mischievous being, man, 'who is
the only beast who kills that which he does not devour,' who at times is
seen to move in herds, while 'there is in every herd one that gives
directions to the rest, and seems to be more eminently delighted with a
wide carnage.'

[1006] 'Receipts for _Shakespeare_.' WARTON.--BOSWELL.

[1007] 'Then of Lincoln College. Now Sir Robert Chambers, one of the
Judges in India.' WARTON.--BOSWELL.

[1008] Old Mr. Langton's niece. See _post,_ July 14, 1763.

[1009] 'Mr. Langton.' WARTON.--BOSWELL.

[1010] Boswell records:--'Lady Di Beauclerk told me that Langton had
never been to see her since she came to Richmond, his head was so full
of the militia and Greek. "Why," said I, "Madam, he is of such a length
he is awkward and not easily moved." "But," said she, "if he had lain
himself at his length, his feet had been in London, and his head might
have been here _eodem die_."' _Boswelliana_, p. 297.

[1011] 'Part of the impression of the _Shakespeare_, which Dr. Johnson
conducted alone, and published by subscription. This edition came out in

[1012] Stockdale records (_Memoirs_, ii. 191), that after he had entered
on his charge as domestic tutor to Lord Craven's son, he called on
Johnson, who asked him how he liked his place. On his hesitating to
answer, he said: 'You must expect insolence.' He added that in his youth
he had entertained great expectations from a powerful family. "At
length," he said, "I found that their promises, and consequently my
expectations, vanished into air.... But, Sir, they would have treated me
much worse, if they had known that motives from which I paid my court to
them were purely selfish, and what opinion I had formed of them." He
added, that since he knew mankind, he had not, on any occasion, been the
sport of such delusion and that he had never been disappointed by anyone
but himself.'

[1013] This, and some of the other letters to Langton, were not received
by Boswell till the first volume of the second edition had been carried
through the press. He gave them as a supplement to the second volume.
The date of this letter was there wrongly given as June 27, 1758. In the
third edition it was corrected. Nevertheless the letter was misplaced as
if the wrong date were the right one. Langton, as I have shewn (_ante_,
p. 247), subscribed the articles at Oxford on July 7, 1757. He must have
come into residence, as Johnson did (_ante_, p. 58), some little while
before this subscription.

[1014] Major-General Alexander Dury, of the first regiment of
foot-guards, who fell in the gallant discharge of his duty, near St.
Cas, in the well-known unfortunate expedition against France, in 1758.
His lady and Mr. Langton's mother was sisters. He left an only son,
Lieutenant-Colonel Dury, who has a company in the same regiment.
BOSWELL. The expedition had been sent against St. Malo early in
September. Failing in the attempt, the land forces retreated to St. Cas,
where, while embarking, they were attacked by the French. About 400 of
our soldiers were made prisoners, and 600 killed and wounded. _Ann.

[1015] See _post_, 1770, in Dr. Maxwell's _Collectanea_.

[1016] Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_, p. 365. BOSWELL. 'In the beginning
of the year 1759 an event happened for which it might be imagined he was
well prepared, the death of his mother, who had attained the age of
ninety; but he, whose mind had acquired no firmness by the contemplation
of mortality, was as little able to sustain the shock, as he would have
been had this loss befallen him in his nonage.'

[1017] We may apply to Johnson in his behaviour to his mother what he
said of Pope in his behaviour to his parents:--'Whatever was his pride,
to them he was obedient; and whatever was his irritability, to them he
was gentle. Life has among its soothing and quiet comforts few things
better to give than such a son.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 281. In _The
Idler_ of January 27, 1759 (No. 41), Johnson shews his grief for his
loss. 'The last year, the last day must come. It has come, and is past.
The life which made my own life pleasant is at an end, and the gates of
death are shut upon my prospects.... Such is the condition of our
present existence that life must one time lose its associations, and
every inhabitant of the earth must walk downward to the grave alone and
unregarded, without any partner of his joy or grief, without any
interested witness of his misfortunes or success. Misfortune, indeed, he
may yet feel; for where is the bottom of the misery of man? But what is
success to him that has none to enjoy it? Happiness is not found in
self-contemplation; it is perceived only when it is reflected from
another.' In _Rasselas_ (ch. xlv.) he makes a sage say with a
sigh:--'Praise is to have an old man an empty sound. I have neither
mother to be delighted with the reputation of her son, nor wife to
partake the honours of her husband.' He here says once more what he had
already said in his _Letter to Lord Chesterfield_ (_ante_, p. 261), and
in the _Preface to the Dictionary_ (_ante_, p. 297).

[1018] Writing to his Birmingham friend, Mr. Hector, on Oct. 7, 1756, he
said:--'I have been thinking every month of coming down into the
country, but every month has brought its hinderances. From that kind of
melancholy indisposition which I had when we lived together at
Birmingham I have never been free, but have always had it operating
against my health and my life with more or less violence. I hope however
to see all my friends, all that are remaining, in no very long time.'
_Notes and Queries_, 6th S. iii. 301. No doubt his constant poverty and
the need that he was under of making 'provision for the day that was
passing over him' had had much to do in keeping him from a journey to
Lichfield. A passage in one of his letters shews that fourteen years
later the stage-coach took twenty-six hours in going from London to
Lichfield. (_Piozzi Letters_, i. 55.) The return journey was very
uncertain; for 'our carriages,' he wrote, 'are only such as pass through
the place sometimes full and sometimes vacant.' A traveller had to watch
for a place (_ib_. p. 51). As measured by time London was, in 1772, one
hour farther from Lichfield than it now is from Marseilles. It is
strange, when we consider the long separation between Johnson and his
mother, that in _Rasselas_, written just after her death, he makes Imlac
say:-'There is such communication [in Europe] between distant places,
that one friend can hardly be said to be absent from another.'
_Rasselas_, chap, xi. His step-daughter, Miss Porter, though for many
years she was well off, had never been to London. _Post_, March 23,
1776. Nay, according to Horace Walpole (_Memoirs of the Reign of George
III_, iv. 327), 'George III. had never seen the sea, nor ever been
thirty miles from London at the age of thirty-four.'

[1019] For the letters written at this time by Johnson to his mother and
Miss Porter, see Appendix B.

[1020] _Rasselas_ was published in two volumes, duodecimo, and was sold
for five shillings. It was reviewed in the _Gent. Mag_. for April, and
was no doubt published in that month. In a letter to Miss Porter dated
March 23, 1759 (See Appendix), Johnson says:--'I am going to publish a
little story-book, which I will send you when it is out.' I may here
remark that the _Gent. Mag_. was published at the end of the month, or
even later. Thus the number for April, 1759, contains news as late as
April 30. The name _Rasselas_ Johnson got from Lobo's _Voyage to
Abyssinia_. On p. 102 of that book he mentions 'Rassela Christos,
Lieutenant-General to _Abysinia; Sultan Segued.' On p. 262 he explains
the meaning of the first part of the word:--'There is now a
Generalissimo established under the title of _Ras_, or _Chief_.' The
title still exists. Colonel Gordon mentions Ras Arya and Ras Aloula. The
Rev. W. West, in his _Introduction to Rasselas_, p. xxxi (Sampson Low
and Co.), says:--'The word _Ras_, which is common to the Amharic,
Arabic, and Hebrew tongues, signifies a _head_, and hence a prince,
chief, or captain.... Sela Christos means either "Picture of Christ," or
"For the sake of Christ."'

[1021] Hawkins's Johnson, p. 367.

[1022] See _post_, June 2, 1781. Finding it then accidentally in a
chaise with Mr. Boswell, he read it eagerly. This was doubtless long
after his declaration to Sir Joshua Reynolds. MALONE.

[1023] Baretti told Malone that 'Johnson insisted on part of the money
being paid immediately, and accordingly received L70. Any other person
with the degree of reputation he then possessed would have got L400 for
that work, but he never understood the art of making the most of his
productions.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 160. Some of the other circumstances
there related by Baretti are not correct.

[1024] Hawkesworth received L6000 for his revision of Cook's _Voyages_;
_post_, May 7, 1773.

[1025] See _post_, March 4, 1773.

Book of the day: