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

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[1247] In the opening lines of _Gotham,_ Bk. iii, there is a passage of
great beauty and tenderness.

[1248] In 1769 I set Thornton's burlesque _Ode_. It was performed at
Ranelagh in masks, to a very crowded audience, as I was told; for I then
resided in Norfolk. BURNEY. Dr. Burney's note cannot be correct. He came
to reside in London in 1760 (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i. 133) The Ode is
in the list of 'new books, published' in the _Gent. Mag_. for June 1763,
and is described as having been performed at Ranelagh.

[1249] _The Connoisseur_ was started by Thornton and Colman in 1754.
Cowper and Lloyd were contributors. Southey's _Cowper_, i. 46, 49, 65.

[1250] See _ante_, p. 350, note.

[1251] See _post_, Aug. 2, 1763, and Oct. 26, 1769.

[1252] See _post_. Sept. 20, 1777, note.

[1253] The northern bard mentioned page 421. When I asked Dr. Johnson's
permission to introduce him, he obligingly agreed; adding, however, with
a sly pleasantry, 'but he must give us none of his poetry.' It is
remarkable that Johnson and Churchill, however much they differed in
other points, agreed on this subject. See Churchill's _Journey_.

['Under dark Allegory's flimsy veil
Let Them with Ogilvie spin out a tale
Of rueful length,'
Churchill's _Poems_, ii. 329.]

It is, however, but justice to Dr. Ogilvie to observe, that his _Day of
Judgement_ has no inconsiderable share of merit. BOSWELL.

[1254] 'Johnson said:--"Goldsmith should not be for ever attempting to
_shine_ in conversation."' _Post_, April 27, 1773. See also _post_,
May 7, 1773.

[1255] Fifteen years later Lord George Germaine, Secretary of State,
asserted in a debate 'that the King "was his own Minister," which
Charles Fox took up admirably, lamenting that His Majesty "was his own
_unadvised_ Minister."' Walpole's _Journal of the Reign of George
III_, ii. 314.

[1256] 'The general story of mankind will evince that lawful and settled
authority is very seldom resisted when it is well employed.... Men are
easily kept obedient to those who have temporal dominion in their hands,
till their veneration is dissipated by such wickedness and folly as can
neither be defended nor concealed.' _The Rambler_, No. 50. See _post_,
March 31, 1772.

[1257] 'It is natural to believe ... that no writer has a more easy task
than the historian. The philosopher has the works of omniscience to
examine.... The poet trusts to his invention.... But the happy historian
has no other labour than of gathering what tradition pours down before
him, or records treasure for his use.' _The Rambler_, No. 122.

[1258] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.

[1259] 'Arbuthnot was a man of great comprehension, skilful in his
profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature,
and able to animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active
imagination; a scholar with great brilliancy of wit; a wit, who in the
crowd of life retained and discovered a noble ardour of religious zeal.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 296.

[1260] Goldsmith wrote from Edinburgh in 1753:--'Shall I tire you with a
description of this unfruitful country, where I must lead you over their
hills all brown with heath, or their vallies scarce able to feed a
rabbit? Man alone seems to be the only creature who has arrived to the
natural size in this poor soil. Every part of the country presents the
same dismal landscape.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 433.

[1261] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 10, 1773.

[1262] Johnson would suffer none of his friends to fill up chasms in
conversation with remarks on the weather: 'Let us not talk of the
weather.' BURNEY.

[1263] See _ante_, p. 332.

[1264] Boswell wrote to Temple on Sept. 9, 1767:--'How unaccountable is
it that my father and I should be so ill together! He is a man of sense
and a man of worth; but from some unhappy turn in his disposition he is
much dissatisfied with a son whom you know. I write to him with warmth,
with an honest pride, wishing that he should think of me as I am; but my
letters shock him, and every expression in them is interpreted
unfavourably. To give you an instance, I send you a letter I had from
him a few days ago. How galling is it to the friend of Paoli to be
treated so! I have answered him in my own style; I will be myself.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 110. In the following passage in one of his
_Hypochondriacks_ he certainly describes his father. 'I knew a father
who was a violent Whig, and used to attack his son for being a Tory,
upbraiding him with being deficient in "noble sentiments of liberty,"
while at the same time he made this son live under his roof in such
bondage, that he was not only afraid to stir from home without leave,
like a child, but durst scarcely open his mouth in his father's
presence. This was sad living. Yet I would rather see such an excess of
awe than a degree of familiarity between father and son by which all
reverence is destroyed.' _London Mag_. 1781, p. 253.

[1265] Boswell, the day after this talk, wrote:--'I have had a long
letter from my father, full of affection and good counsel. Honest man!
he is now very happy: it is amazing to think how much he has had at
heart, my pursuing the road of civil life.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 25.

[1266] Gray, says Nicholls, 'disliked all poetry in blank verse, except
Milton.' Gray's _Works_, ed. 1858, v. 36. Goldsmith, in his _Present
State of Polite Learning_ (ch. xi.), wrote in 1759:--'From a desire in
the critic of grafting the spirit of ancient languages upon the English
have proceeded of late several disagreeable instances of pedantry. Among
the number, I think, we may reckon blank verse. Nothing but the greatest
sublimity of subject can render such a measure pleasing; however, we now
see it used upon the most trivial occasions.' On the same page he speaks
of 'the tuneless flow of our blank verse.' See _post_, 1770, in Dr.
Maxwell's _Collectanea_ and the beginning of 1781, under _The Life of
Milton_, for Johnson's opinion of blank verse.

[1267] 'Johnson told me, that one day in London, when Dr. Adam Smith was
boasting of Glasgow, he turned to him and said, "Pray, Sir, have you
ever seen Brentford?'" Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 29, 1773. See _post_,
April 29, 1778.

[1268] 'He advised me to read just as inclination prompted me, which
alone, he said, would do me any good; for I had better go into company
than read a set task. He said, too, that I should prescribe to myself
five hours a day, and in these hours gratify whatever literary desires
may spring up.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 28. The Editor of these
_Letters_ compares Tranio's advice:--

'No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en:
In brief, Sir, study what you most affect.'

_Taming of the Shrew_, act i. sc. I.

'Johnson used to say that no man read long together with a folio on his
table. "Books," said he, "that you may carry to the fire, and hold
readily in your hand, are the most useful after all."' Johnson's _Works_
(1787), xi. 197. See also _The Idler_, No. 67, and _post_, April 12,
1776, and under Sept. 22, 1777.

[1269] Wilkes, among others, had attacked him in Aug. 1762 in _The North
Briton_, Nos. xi. and xii.

[1270] When I mentioned the same idle clamour to him several years
afterwards, he said, with a smile, 'I wish my pension were twice as
large, that they might make twice as much noise.' BOSWELL.

[1271] In one thing at least he was changed. He could now indulge in the
full bent, to use his own words (_Works_, viii. l36), 'that
inquisitiveness which must always be produced in a vigorous mind, by an
absolute freedom from all pressing or domestick engagements.'

[1272] See _post_, April 13, 1773, Sept. 17 and 19, 1777, March 21,
1783, and June 9, 1784. Lord Shelburne says:--'After the Revolution the
Tory and Jacobite parties had become almost identified by their together
opposing the Court for so many years, and still more by the persecution
which they suffered in common, for it was the policy of Sir Robert
Walpole to confound them as much as possible, so as to throw the
Jacobite odium upon every man who opposed government.' Fitzmaurice's
_Shelburne_, i. 35. Lord Bolingbroke (_Works_, iii. 28) complains that
the writers on the side of the ministry 'frequently throw out that every
man is a friend to the Pretender who is not a friend of Walpole.'

[1273] See _post_, April 6, 1775

[1274] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 402 [Nov. 10].

[1275] Mr. Walmsley died in 1751 (_ante_, p. 81). Johnson left Lichfield
in 1737. Unless Mr. Walmsley after 1737 visited London from time to
time, he can scarcely be meant.

[1276] See _ante_, p. 336.

[1277] He used to tell, with great humour, from my relation to him, the
following little story of my early years, which was literally true:
'Boswell, in the year 1745, was a fine boy, wore a white cockade, and
prayed for King James, till one of his uncles (General Cochran) gave him
a shilling on condition that he should pray for King George, which he
accordingly did. So you see (says Boswell) that _Whigs of all ages are
made the same way_.' BOSWELL. Johnson, in his _Dictionary_ under
_Whiggism_, gives only one quotation, namely, from Swift: 'I could quote
passages from fifty pamphlets, wholly made up of whiggism and atheism.'
See _post_, April 28, 1778, where he said: 'I have always said, the
first _Whig_ was the Devil;' and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 21 and Nov.
8, 1773. To Johnson's sayings might be opposed one of Lord Chatham's in
the House of Lords: 'There are some distinctions which are inherent in
the nature of things. There is a distinction between right and
wrong--between Whig and Tory.' _Parl. Hist_. xvi. 1107.

[1278] _Letter to Rutland on Travel_, 16mo. 1569. BOSWELL. This letter
is contained in a little volume entitled, _Profitable Instructions;
describing what special observations are to be taken by travellers in
all nations, states and countries; pleasant and profitable. By the three
much admired, Robert, late Earl of Essex, Sir Philip Sidney, and
Secretary Davison. London. Printed for Benjamin Fisher, at the Sign of
the Talbot, without Aldersgate_. 1633. (Lowndes gives the date of 1613,
but the earliest edition seems to be this of 1633.) The letter from
which Boswell quotes is entitled, _The late E. of E. his advice to the
E. of R. in his Travels_. It is dated Greenwich, Jan. 4, 1596. Mr.
Spedding (Bacon's _Works_, ix. 4) suggests that 'it may have been
(wholly or in part) written by Bacon.'

[1279] Boswell (_Boswelliana_, p. 210) says that this 'impudent fellow'
was Macpherson.

[1280] Boswell repeated this saying and some others to Paoli. 'I felt an
elation of mind to see Paoli delighted with the sayings of Mr. Johnson,
and to hear him translate them with Italian energy to the Corsican
heroes.' Here Boswell describes the person as 'a certain authour.'
Boswell's _Corsica_, p. 199

[1281] Boswell thus takes him off in his comic poem _The Court of
Session Garland_:--

'"This cause," cries Hailes, "to judge I can't pretend, For _justice_, I
percieve, wants an _e_ at the end."'

Mr. R. Chambers, in a note on this, says:--'A story is told of Lord
Hailes once making a serious objection to a law-paper, an in consequence
to the whole suit, on account of the word _justice_ being thus spelt.
_Traditions of Edinburgh_, ii. 161. Burke says that he 'found him to be
a clever man, and generally knowing.' Burke's _Corres_. iii. 301. See
_ante_ p. 267, and _post_ May 12, 1774 and Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 17, 1773.

[1282] 'Ita feri ut se mori sentiat.' Suetonius, _Caligula_, chap. xxx.

[1283] Johnson himself was constantly purposing to keep a journal. On
April 11, 1773, he told Boswell 'that he had twelve or fourteen times
attempted to keep a journal of his life,' _post_, April 11, 1773. The
day before he had recorded:--'I hope from this time to keep a journal.'
_Pr. and Med_. p. 124. Like records follow, as:--'Sept. 24, 1773. My
hope is, for resolution I dare no longer call it, to divide my time
regularly, and to keep such a journal of my time, as may give me comfort
in reviewing it.' _Ib_. p. 132. 'April 6, 1777. My purpose once more is
To keep a journal.' _Ib_. p. 161. 'Jan. 2, 1781. My hope is To keep a
journal.' _Ib_. p. 188. See also _post_, April 14, 1775, and April
10, 1778.

[1284] Boswell, when he was only eighteen, going with his father to the
[Scotch] Northern Circuit, 'kept,' he writes, 'an exact journal.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 8. In the autumn of 1762 he also kept a journal
which he sent to Temple to read. _Ib_. p. 19.

[1285] 'It has been well observed, that the misery of man proceeds not
from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations
continually repeated.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 333. 'The main of life
is indeed composed of small incidents and petty occurrences.' _Ib_. ii.
322. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, i. 199) says:--'Human felicity is produced
not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by
little advantages that occur every day.'

[1286] Boswell wrote the next day:--'We sat till between two and three.
He took me by the hand cordially, and said, "My dear Boswell, I love you
very much." Now Temple, can I help indulging vanity?' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 27. Fourteen years later Boswell was afraid that he kept
Johnson too late up. 'No, Sir,' said he, 'I don't care though I sit all
night with you.' _Post_, Sept. 23, 1777. See also _post_, April 7, 1779,
where Johnson, speaking of these early days, said to Boswell, 'it was
not the _wine_ that made your head ache, but the sense that I put
into it.'

[1287] Tuesday was the 19th.

[1288] 'The elder brother of the first Lord Rokeby, called long Sir
Thomas Robinson, on account of his height, and to distinguish him from
Sir Thomas Robinson, first Lord Grantham. It was on his request for an
epigram that Lord Chesterfield made the distich:--

"Unlike my subject will I make my song,
It shall be witty, and it shan't be long,"

and to whom he said in his last illness, "Ah, Sir Thomas, it will be
sooner over with me than it would be with you, for I am dying by
inches." Lord Chesterfield was very short.' CROKER. Southey, writing of
Rokeby Hall, which belonged to Robinson, says that 'Long Sir Thomas
found a portrait of Richardson in the house; thinking Mr. Richardson a
very unfit personage to be suspended in effigy among lords, ladies, and
baronets, he ordered the painter to put him on the star and blue riband,
and then christened the picture Sir Robert Walpole.' Southey's _Life_,
iii. 346. See also _ante_, p. 259 note 2, and _post_, 1770, near the end
of Dr. Maxwell's _Collectanea_.

[1289] Johnson (_Works_, vi. 440) had written of Frederick the Great in
1756:--'His skill in poetry and in the French language has been loudly
praised by Voltaire, a judge without exception if his honesty were equal
to his knowledge.' Boswell, in his _Hypochondriacks_, records a
conversation that he had with Voltaire on memory:--'I asked him if he
could give me any notion of the situation of our ideas which we have
totally forgotten at the time, yet shall afterwards recollect. He
paused, meditated a little, and acknowledged his ignorance in the spirit
of a philosophical poet by repeating as a very happy allusion a passage
in Thomson's _Seasons_--"Aye," said he, "Where sleep the winds when it
is calm?"' _London Mag_. 1783, p. 157. The passage is in Thomson's
_Winter_, l. 116:--

'In what far-distant region of the sky,
Hush'd in deep silence, sleep ye when 'tis calm?'

[1290] See _post_, ii. 54, note 3.

[1291] Bernard Lintot, the father, published Pope's _Iliad_ and
_Odyssey_. Over the sale of the _Odyssey_ a quarrel arose between the
two men. Johnson's _Works_, viii. 251, 274. Lintot is attacked in the
_Dunciad_, i. 40 and ii. 53; He was High-Sheriff for Sussex in 1736--the
year of his death. _Gent. Mag_. vi. 110. The son is mentioned in
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 282.

[1292] 'July 19, 1763. I was with Mr. Johnson to-day. I was in his
garret up four pair of stairs; it is very airy, commands a view of St.
Paul's and many a brick roof. He has many good books, but they are all
lying in confusion and dust.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 30. On Good
Friday, 1764, Johnson made the following entry:--'I hope to put my rooms
in order: Disorder I have found one great cause of idleness.' On his
birth-day in the same year he wrote:--'To-morrow I purpose to regulate
my room.' _Pr. and Med_. pp. 50, 60.

[1293] See _ante_, p. 140, and _post_, under Sept. 9, 1779.

[1294] Afterwards Rector of Mamhead, Devonshire. He is the grandfather
of the present Bishop of London. He and Boswell had been fellow-students
at the University of Edinburgh, and seemed in youth to have had an equal
amount of conceit. 'Recollect,' wrote Boswell, 'how you and I flattered
ourselves that we were to be the greatest men of our age.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 159. They began to correspond at least as early as 1758.
The last letter was one from Boswell on his death-bed. Johnson thus
mentions Temple (_Works_, viii. 480):--'Gray's character I am willing to
adopt, as Mr. Mason has done, from a letter written to my friend Mr.
Boswell by the Revd. Mr. Temple, Rector of St. Gluvias in Cornwall; and
am as willing as his warmest well-wisher to believe it true.'

[1295] Johnson (_Works_, vii. 240) quotes the following by Edmund Smith,
and written some time after 1708:--'It will sound oddly to posterity,
that, in a polite nation, in an enlightened age, under the direction of
the most literary property in 1710, whether by wise, most learned, and
most generous encouragers of knowledge in the world, the property of a
mechanick should be better secured than that of a scholar! that the
poorest manual operations should be more valued than the noblest
products of the brain! that it should be felony to rob a cobbler of a
pair of shoes, and no crime to deprive the best authour of his whole
subsistence! that nothing should make a man a sure title to his own
writings but the stupidity of them!' See _post_, May 8, 1773, and Feb.7,
1774; and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17 and 20, 1773.

[1296] The question arose, after the passing of the first statute
respecting literary property in 1710, whether by certain of its
provisions this perpetual copyright at common law was extinguished for
the future. The question was solemnly argued before the Court of King's
Bench, when Lord Mansfield presided, in 1769. The result was a decision
in favour of the common-law right as unaltered by the statute, with the
disapproval however of Mr. Justice Yates. In 1774 the same point was
brought before the House of Lords, and the decision of the court below
reversed by a majority of six judges in eleven, as Lord Mansfield, who
adhered to the opinion of the minority, declined to interfere; it being
very unusual, from motives of delicacy, for a peer to support his own
judgment on appeal to the House of Lords. _Penny Cylco_. viii. I. See
_post_, Feb. 7, 1774. Lord Shelburne, on Feb 27, 1774, humourously
describes the scene in the Lords to the Earl of Chatham:--'Lord
Mansfield showed himself the merest Captain Bobadil that, I suppose,
ever existed in real life. You can, perhaps, imagine to yourself the
Bishop of Carlyle, an old metaphysical head of a college, reading a
paper, not a speech, out of an old sermon book, with very bad sight
leaning on the table, Lord Mansfield sitting at it, with eyes of fixed
melancholy looking at him, knowing that the bishop's were the only eyes
in the House who could not meet his; the judges behind him, full of rage
at being drawn into so absurd an opinion, and abandoned in it by their
chief; the Bishops waking, as your Lordship knows they do, just before
they vote, and staring on finding something the matter; while Lord
Townshend was close to the bar, getting Mr. Dunning to put up his glass
to look at the head of criminal justice.' _Chatham Corres_. iv. 327.

[1297] See _post_ April 15 1778, note.

[1298] Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_ iii. 178), complaining of the high prices
of English books, describes 'the excessive artifices made use of to puff
up a paper of verses into a pamphlet, a pamphlet into an octavo, and an
octavo into a quarto with white-lines, exorbitant margins, &c., to such
a degree that the selling of paper seems now the object, and printing on
it only the pretence.'

[1299] Boswell was on friendly terms with him. He wrote to Erskine on
Dec. 2, 1761:--'I am just now returned from eating a most excellent pig
with the most magnificent Donaldson.' _Boswell and Erskine
Correspondence_, p. 20.

[1300] Dr. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 516) says that Lord Mansfield this year
(1769) 'talking of Hume and Robertson's _Histories_, said that though he
could point out few or no faults in them, yet, when he was reading their
books, he did not think he was reading English.' See _post_, ii. 72, for
Hume's Scotticisms. Hume went to France in 1734 when he was 23 years old
and stayed there three years. Hume's _Autobiography_, p. vii. He never
mastered French colloquially. Lord Charlemont, who met him in Turin in
1748, says:--'His speech in English was rendered ridiculous by the
broadest Scotch accent, and his French was, if possible, still more
laughable.' Hardy's _Charlemont_, i. 15. Horace Walpole, who met him in
Paris in 1765, writes (_Letters_, iv. 426):--'Mr. Hume is the only thing
in the world that they [the French] believe implicitly; which they must
do, for I defy them to understand any language that he speaks.' Gibbon
(_Misc. Works_, i. 122) says of Hume's writings:--'Their careless
inimitable beauties often forced me to close the volume with a mixed
sensation of delight and despair.' Dr. Beattie (_Life_, p. 243) wrote on
Jan. 5, 1778:--'We who live in Scotland are obliged to study English
from books, like a dead language, which we understand, but cannot
speak.' He adds:--'I have spent some years in labouring to acquire the
art of giving a vernacular cast to the English we write.' Dr. A. Carlyle
(_Auto_, p. 222) says:--'Since we began to affect speaking a foreign
language, which the English dialect is to us, humour, it must be
confessed, is less apparent in conversation.'

[1301] _Discours sur L'origine et les fondemens de l'inegalite parmi les
hommes_, 1754.

[1302] 'I have indeed myself observed that my banker ever bows lowest to
me when I wear my full-bottomed wig, and writes me Mr. or Esq.,
accordingly as he sees me dressed.' _Spectator_, No. 150.

[1303] Mr. Croker, quoting Mr. Wright, says:--'_See his Quantulumanque_
(sic) _concerning Money_.' I have read Petty's _Quantulumcunque_, but do
not find the passage in it.

[1304] Johnson told Dr. Burney that Goldsmith said, when he first began
to write, he determined to commit to paper nothing but what was _new_;
but he afterwards found that what was _new_ was false, and from that
time was no longer solicitous about novelty. BURNEY. Mr. Forster (_Life
of Goldsmith_, i. 421) says that this note 'is another instance of the
many various and doubtful forms in which stories about Johnson and
Goldsmith are apt to appear when once we lose sight of the trustworthy
Boswell. This is obviously a mere confused recollection of what is
correctly told by Boswell [_post_, March 26, 1779].' There is much truth
in Mr. Forster's general remark: nevertheless Burney likely enough
repeated to the best of his memory what he had himself heard
from Johnson.

[1305] 'Their [the ancient moralists'] arguments have been, indeed, so
unsuccessful, that I know not whether it can be shewn, that by all the
wit and reason which this favourite cause has called forth a single
convert was ever made; that even one man has refused to be rich, when to
be rich was in his power, from the conviction of the greater happiness
of a narrow fortune.' Johnson's _Works_, ii. 278. See _post_, June 3,
1781, and June 3, Sept. 7, and Dec. 7, 1782.

[1306] Johnson (_Works_, vi. 440) shows how much Frederick owed to 'the
difficulties of his youth.' 'Kings, without this help from temporary
infelicity, see the world in a mist, which magnifies everything near
them, and bounds their view to a narrow compass, which few are able to
extend by the mere force of curiosity.' He next points out what Cromwell
'owed to the private condition in which he first entered the world;' and
continues:--'The King of Prussia brought to the throne the knowledge of
a private man, without the guilt of usurpation. Of this general
acquaintance with the world there may be found some traces in his whole
life. His conversation is like that of other men upon common topicks,
his letters have an air of familiar elegance, and his whole conduct is
that of a man who has to do with men.'

[1307] See _ante_ p. 408

[1308] See _ante_, p. 298.

[1309] That this was Mr. Dempster seems likely from the _Letters of
Boswell_ (p. 34), where Boswell says:--'I had prodigious satisfaction to
find Dempster's sophistry (which he has learnt from Hume and Rousseau)
vanquished by the solid sense and vigorous reasoning of Johnson.
Dempster,' he continues, 'was as happy as a vanquished argumentator
could be.' The character of the 'benevolent good man' suits Dempster
(see _post_, under Feb. 7, 1775, where Boswell calls him 'the virtuous
and candid Dempster'), while that of the 'noted infidel writer' suits
Hume. We find Boswell, Johnson, and Dempster again dining together on
May 9, 1772.


'Thou wilt at best but suck a bull,
Or sheer swine, all cry and no wool.'

_Hudibras_, Part i. Canto I. 1. 851.

Dr. Z. Grey, in his note on these lines, quotes the proverbial saying
'As wise as the Waltham calf that went nine times to suck a bull.' He
quotes also from _The Spectator_, No. 138, the passage where the Cynic
said of two disputants, 'One of these fellows is milking a ram, and the
other holds the pail.'

[1311] The writer of the article _Vacuum_ in the _Penny Cyclo_. (xxvi.
76), quoting Johnson's words, adds:--'That is, either all space is full
of matter, or there are parts of space which have no matter. The
alternative is undeniable, and the inference to which the modern
philosophy would give the greatest probablility is, that all space is
full of matter in the common sense of the word, but really occupied by
particles of matter with vacuous interstices.'

[1312] 'When any one tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I
immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable that this
person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact which he
relates should really have happened.' Humes _Essay on Miracles_, Part i.
See _post_ Sept. 22 1777, where Boswell again quoted this passage.

[1313] A coffee-house over against Catherine Street, now the site of a
tourists' ticket office. _Athenaeum_, No. 3041.

[1314] Stockdale records (_Memoirs_, i. 202) that Johnson once said to
him:--'Whenever it is the duty of a young and old man to act at the same
time with a spirit of independence and generosity; we may always have
reason to hope that the young man will ardently perform, and to fear
that the old man will desert, his duty.'

[1315] Boswell thus writes of this evening:--'I learn more from him than
from any man I ever was with. He told me a very odd thing, that he knew
at eighteen as much as he does now; that is to say, his judgment is much
stronger, but he had then stored up almost all the facts he has now, and
he says that he has led but an idle life; only think, Temple, of that!'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 34. See _ante_, p. 56, and _post_, ii. 36. He
told Windham in 1784 'that he read Latin with as much ease when he went
to college as at present.' Windham's _Diary_, p. 17.

[1316] Johnson in 1739 wrote of 'those distempers and depressions, from
which students, not well acquainted with the constitution of the human
body, sometimes fly for relief to wine instead of exercise, and purchase
temporary ease, by the hazard of the most dreadful consequences.'
_Works_, vi. 271. In _The Rambler_, No. 85, he says:--'How much
happiness is gained, and how much misery is escaped, by frequent and
violent agitation of the body.' Boswell records (_Hebrides_, Sept. 24,
1773):--'Dr. Johnson told us at breakfast, that he rode harder at a
fox-chace than anybody.' Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 206) says:--'He
certainly rode on Mr. Thrale's old hunter with a good firmness, and,
though he would follow the hounds fifty miles an end sometimes, would
never own himself either tired or amused. I think no praise ever went so
close to his heart, as when Mr. Hamilton called out one day upon
Brighthelmstone Downs, "Why Johnson rides as well, for aught I see, as
the most illiterate fellow in England."' He wrote to Mrs. Thrale in
1777:--'No season ever was finer. Barley, malt, beer and money. There is
the series of ideas. The deep logicians call it a _sorites_. _I hope my
master will no longer endure the reproach of not keeping me a horse_.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 360. See _post_, March 19 and 28, 1776, Sept. 20,
1777, and Nov. 21, 1778.

[1317] This _one_ Mrs. Macaulay was the same personage who afterwards
made herself so much known as 'the celebrated female historian.'
BOSWELL. Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 234) tells the following story of
Mrs. Macaulay's daughter:--'Desirous from civility to take some notice
of her, and finding she was reading _Shakespeare_, I asked her if she
was not delighted with many parts of _King John_. "I never read the
_Kings_, ma'am," was the truly characteristic reply.' See _post_, April
13, 1773, and May 15, 1776.

[1318] This speech was perhaps suggested to Johnson by the following
passage in _The Government of the Tongue_ (p. 106)--a book which he
quotes in his _Dictionary_:--'Lycurgus once said to one who importuned
him to establish a popular parity in the state, "Do thou," says he,
"begin it first in thine own family."'

[1319] The first volume was published in 1756, the second in 1782.

[1320] Warton, to use his own words, 'did not think Pope at the head of
his profession. In other words, in that species of poetry wherein Pope
excelled, he is superior to all mankind; and I only say that this
species of poetry is not the most excellent one of the art.' He disposes
the English poets in four classes, placing in the first only Spenser,
Shakespeare, and Milton. 'In the second class should be ranked such as
possessed the true poetical genius in a more moderate degree, but who
had noble talents for moral, ethical, and panegyrical poetry.' In this
class, in his concluding volume, he says, 'we may venture to assign Pope
a place, just above Dryden. Yet, to bring our minds steadily to make
this decision, we must forget, for a moment, the divine _Music Ode of
Dryden_; and may, perhaps, then be compelled to confess that though
Dryden be the greater genius, yet Pope is the better artist.' Warton's
_Essay_, i. i, vii. and ii. 404. See _post_, March 31, 1772.

[1321] Mr. Croker believes Joseph Warton was meant. His father, however,
had been Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and was afterwards Vicar of
Basingstoke and Cobham, and Professor of Poetry in his own University,
so that the son could scarcely be described as being 'originally poor.'
It is, no doubt, after Boswell's fashion to introduce in consecutive
paragraphs the same person once by name and once anonymously; but then
the 'certain author who disgusted Boswell by his forwardness,' mentioned
just before Warton, may be Warton himself.

[1322] 'When he arrived at Eton he could not make a verse; that is, he
wanted a point indispensable with us to a certain rank in our system.
But this wonderful boy, having satisfied the Master [Dr. Barnard] that
he was an admirable scholar, and possessed of genius, was at once placed
at the head of a form. He acquired the rules of Latin verse; tried his
powers; and perceiving that he could not rise above his rivals in
Virgil, Ovid, or the lyric of Horace, he took up the _sermoni propiora_,
and there overshadowed all competitors. In the following lines he
describes the hammer of the auctioneer with a mock sublimity which turns
Horace into Virgil:--

'Jam-jamque cadit, celerique recursu
Erigitur, lapsum retrahens, perque aera nutat.'

Nichols's _Lit. Anec_. viii. 547.

Horace Walpole wrote of him in Sept. 1765 (_Letters_, iv. 411):--'He is
a very extraordinary young man for variety of learning. He is rather too
wise for his age, and too fond of showing it; but when he has seen more
of the world, he will choose to know less.' He died at Rome in the
following year. Hume, on hearing the news, wrote to Adam Smith:--'Were
you and I together, dear Smith, we should shed tears at present for the
death of poor Sir James Macdonald. We could not possibly have suffered a
greater loss than in that valuable young man.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_,
ii. 349. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 5, 1773.

[1323] Boswell says that Macdonald had for Johnson 'a _great_ terrour.'
(_Boswelliana_, p. 216.) Northcote (_Life of Reynolds_, i. 329)
says:--'It is a fact that a certain nobleman, an intimate friend of
Reynolds, had strangely conceived in his mind such a formidable idea of
all those persons who had gained great fame as literary characters, that
I have heard Sir Joshua say, he verily believed he could no more have
prevailed upon this noble person to dine at the same table with Johnson
and Goldsmith than with two tigers.' According to Mr. Seward
(_Biographiana_, p. 600), Mrs. Cotterell having one day asked Dr.
Johnson to introduce her to a celebrated writer, 'Dearest madam,' said
he, 'you had better let it alone; the best part of every author is in
general to be found in his book, I assure you.' Mr. Seward refers to
_The Rambler_, No. 14, where Johnson says that 'there has often been
observed a manifest and striking contrariety between the life of an
authour and his writings.'

[1324] See _post_, Jan. 19, 1775. In his _Hebrides_ (p. i) Boswell
writes:--'When I was at Ferney, in 1764, I mentioned our design to
Voltaire. He looked at me as if I had talked of going to the North Pole,
and said, "You do not insist on my accompanying you?" "No, Sir." "Then I
am very willing you should go."'

[1325] 'When he went through the streets he desired to have one to lead
him by the hand. They asked his opinion of the high church. He answered
that it was a large rock, yet there were some in St. Kilda much higher,
but that these were the best caves he ever saw; for that was the idea
which he conceived of the pillars and arches upon which the church
stands.' M. Martin's _Western Isles_, p. 297. Mr. Croker compares the
passage in _The Spectator_ (No. 50), in which an Indian king is made to
say of St. Paul's:--'It was probably at first an huge misshapen rock
that grew upon the top of the hill, which the natives of the country
(after having cut it into a kind of regular figure) bored and hollowed
with incredible pains and industry.'

[1326] Boswell, writing to Temple the next day, slightly varies these
words:--'He said, "My dear Boswell, it would give me great pain to part
with you, if I thought we were not to meet again."' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 34.

[1327] Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 43) protests against 'the trite and
lavish praise of the happiness of our boyish years, which is echoed with
so much affectation in the world. That happiness I have never known,
that time I have never regretted. The poet may gaily describe the short
hours of recreation; but he forgets the daily tedious labours of the
school, which is approached each morning with anxious and reluctant
steps.' See _ante_, p. 44, and _post_, under Feb. 27, 1772.

[1328] About fame Gibbon felt much as Johnson did. 'I am disgusted,' he
wrote (_ib_. 272), 'with the affectation of men of letters, who complain
that they have renounced a substance for a shadow, and that their fame
(which sometimes is no insupportable weight) affords a poor compensation
for envy, censure, and persecution. My own experience, at least, has
taught me a very different lesson; twenty happy years have been animated
by the labour of my _History_, and its success has given me a name, a
rank, a character, in the world, to which I should not otherwise have
been entitled.'

[1329] See _ante_, p. 432.

[1330] See _ante_, p. 332.

[1331] This opinion was given by him more at large at a subsequent
period. See _Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 32 [Aug.
16]. BOSWELL. 'That Swift was its author, though it be universally
believed, was never owned by himself, nor very well proved by any
evidence; but no other claimant can be produced, and he did not deny it
when Archbishop Sharpe and the Duchess of Somerset, by showing it to the
Queen, debarred him from a bishoprick.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 197.
See also _post_, March 24, 1775. Stockdale records (_Memoirs_, ii. 61)
that Johnson said 'that if Swift really was the author of _The Tale of
the Tub_, as the best of his other performances were of a very inferior
merit, he should have hanged himself after he had written it.' Scott
(_Life of Swift_, ed. 1834, p. 77) says:--'Mrs. Whiteway observed the
Dean, in the latter years of his life [in 1735], looking over the
_Tale_, when suddenly closing the book he muttered, in an unconscious
soliloquy, "Good God! what a genius I had when I wrote that book!" She
begged it of him, who made some excuse at the moment; but on her
birthday he presented her with it inscribed, "From her affectionate
cousin." On observing the inscription, she ventured to say, "I wish,
Sir, you had said the gift of the author!" The Dean bowed, smiled
good-humouredly, and answered, "No, I thank you," in a very significant
manner.' There is this to be said of Johnson's incredulity about the
_Tale of a Tub_, that the _History of John Bull_ and the _Memoirs of
Martinus Scriblerus_, though both by Arbuthnot, were commonly assigned
to Swift and are printed in his _Works_.

[1332] 'Thomson thinks in a peculiar train, and he thinks always as a
man of genius; he looks round on Nature and on Life with the eye which
Nature bestows only on a poet;--the eye that distinguishes in everything
presented to its view whatever there is on which imagination can delight
to be detained, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and
attends to the minute.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 377. See _post_, ii.
63, and April 11, 1776.

[1333] Burke seems to be meant. See _post_, April 25, 1778, and
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 15, and Sept. 15, 1773.--It is strange
however that, while in these three places Boswell mentions Burke's name,
he should leave a blank here. In _Boswelliana_, p. 328, Boswell
records:--'Langton said Burke hammered his wit upon an anvil, and the
iron was cold. There were no sparks flashing and flying all about.'

[1334] In _Boswelliana_ (p. 214) this anecdote is thus given:--'Boswell
was talking to Mr. Samuel Johnson of Mr. Sheridan's enthusiasm for the
advancement of eloquence. "Sir," said Mr. Johnson, "it won't do. He
cannot carry through his scheme. He is like a man attempting to stride
the English Channel. Sir, the cause bears no proportion to the effect.
It is setting up a candle at Whitechapel to give light at Westminster."'
See also _ante_, p. 385, and _post_. Oct. 16, 1969, April 18 and May
17, 1783.

[1335] Most likely Boswell himself. See _ante_, p. 410.

[1336] 'Let a Frenchman talk twice with a minister of state, he desires
no more to furnish out a volume.' Swift's _Works_, ed. 1803, xvi. 197.
Lord Chesterfield wrote from Paris in 1741:--'They [the Parisians]
despise us, and with reason, for our ill-breeding; on the other hand, we
despite them for their want of learning, and we are in the right of it.'
_Supplement to Chesterfield's Letters_, p. 49. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Oct. 14, 1773.

[1337] 'Dr. Johnson said that he had been told by an acquaintance of Sir
Isaac Newton, that in early life he started as a clamorous infidel.'
Seward's _Anecdotes_, ii. 324. In Brewster's _Life of Newton_ I find no
mention of early infidelity. On the contrary, Newton had been described
as one who 'had been a searcher of the Scriptures from his youth' (ii.
314). Brewster says that 'some foreign writers have endeavoured to shew
that his theological writings were composed at a late period of life,
when his mind was in its dotage.' It was not so, however. _Ib_. p. 315.

[1338] I fully intended to have followed advice of such weight; but
having staid much longer both in Germany and Italy than I proposed to
do, and having also visited Corsica, I found that I had exceeded the
time allowed me by my father, and hastened to France in my way
homewards. BOSWELL. See _ante_, p. 410.


'Has heaven reserved, in pity to the poor,
No pathless waste, or undiscovered shore?
No secret island in the boundless main?
No peaceful desert, yet unclaimed by Spain?'

Johnson looked upon the discovery of America as a misfortune to mankind.
In _Taxation no Tyranny_ (_Works_, vi. 233) he says that 'no part of the
world has yet had reason to rejoice that Columbus found at last
reception and employment. In the same year, in a year hitherto
disastrous to mankind, by the Portuguese was discovered the passage of
the Indies, and by the Spaniards the coast of America.' On March 4,
1773, he wrote (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 248):--'I do not much wish well
to discoveries, for I am always afraid they will end in conquest and
robbery.' See _ante_, p. 308, note 2, and post, March 21, 1775, and
under Dec. 24, 1783.

[1340] See _ante_, p. 394, note 2.

[1341] _Letters written from Leverpoole, Chester, Corke, &c.,_ by Samuel
Derrick, 1767.

[1342] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 3rd ed. p. 104 [Aug. 27,
1773]. BOSWELL.

[1343] Ibid. p. 142 [242, Sept. 22, 1773]. BOSWELL. Johnson added:--'but
it was nothing.' Derrick, in 1760, published Dryden's _Misc. Works_,
with an _Account of his Life_.

[1344] He published a biographical work, containing an account of
eminent writers, in three vols. 8vo. BOSWELL.


'Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
And stretched on bulks, as usual, poets lay.'

_The Dunciad_, ii. 420.

In _Humphry Clinker_, in the Letter of June 10, in which is described
the dinner given by S---- to the poor authors, of one of them it is
said:--'The only secret which he ever kept was the place of his
lodgings; but it was believed that during the heats of summer he
commonly took his repose upon a bulk.' Johnson defines _bulk_ as _a part
of a building jutting out_.

[1346] 'Knowledge is certainly one of the means of pleasure, as is
confessed by the natural desire which every mind feels of increasing its
ideas ... without knowing why we always rejoice when we learn, and
grieve when we forget.' _Rasselas_, ch. xi.

[1347] In the days of Old London Bridge, as Mr. Croker points out, even
when the tide would have allowed passengers to shoot it, those who were
prudent landed above the bridge, and walked to some wharf below it.

[1348] All who are acquainted with the history of religion, (the most
important, surely, that concerns the human mind,) know that the
appellation of Methodists was first given to a society of students in
the University of Oxford, who about the year 1730 were distinguished by
an earnest and _methodical_ attention to devout exercises. This
disposition of mind is not a novelty, or peculiar to any sect, but has
been, and still may be found, in many christians of every denomination.
Johnson himself was, in a dignified manner, a Methodist. In his
_Rambler_, No. 110, he mentions with respect 'the whole discipline of
regulated piety;' and in his _Prayers and Meditations_, many instances
occur of his anxious examination into his spiritual state. That this
religious earnestness, and in particular an observation of the influence
of the Holy Spirit, has sometimes degenerated into folly, and sometimes
been counterfeited for base purposes, cannot be denied. But it is not,
therefore, fair to decry it when genuine. The principal argument in
reason and good sense against methodism is, that it tends to debase
human nature, and prevent the generous exertions of goodness, by an
unworthy supposition that GOD will pay no regard to them; although it is
positively said in the scriptures that He 'will reward every man
according to his works.' [St. Matthew xvi. 27.] But I am happy to have
it [in] my power to do justice to those whom it is the fashion to
ridicule, without any knowledge of their tenets; and this I can do by
quoting a passage from one of their best apologists, Mr. Milner, who
thus expresses their doctrine upon this subject. 'Justified by faith,
renewed in his faculties, and constrained by the love of Christ, their
believer moves in the sphere of love and gratitude, and all his _duties_
flow more or less from this principle. And though _they are accumulating
for him in heaven a treasure of bliss proportioned to his faithfulness
and activity, and it is by no means inconsistent with his principles to
feel the force of this consideration_, yet love itself sweetens every
duty to his mind; and he thinks there is no absurdity in his feeling the
love of GOD as the grand commanding principle of his life.' _Essays on
several religious Subjects, &c., by Joseph Milner, A.M., Master of the
Grammar School of Kingston upon-Hull, 1789, p_. 11. BOSWELL. Southey
(_Life of Wesley_, i. 41), mentioning the names given at Oxford to
Wesley and his followers, continues:--'One person with less irreverence
and more learning observed, in reference to their methodical manner of
life, that a new sect of Methodists was sprung up, alluding to the
ancient school of physicians known by that name.' Wesley, in 1744, wrote
_The Humble Address to the King of the Societies in derision called
Methodists. Journal_, i. 437. He often speaks of 'the people called
Methodists,' but sometimes he uses the term without any qualification.
Mrs. Thrale, in 1780, wrote to Johnson:--'Methodist is considered always
a term of reproach, I trust, because I never yet did hear that any one
person called himself a Methodist.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 119.

[1349] Wesley said:--'We should constantly use the most common, little,
easy words (so they are pure and proper) which our language affords.
When first I talked at Oxford to plain people in the Castle [the prison]
or the town, I observed they gaped and stared. This quickly obliged me
to alter my style, and adopt the language of those I spoke to; and yet
there is a dignity in their simplicity, which is not disagreeable to
those of the highest rank.' Southey's _Wesley_, i. 431. See _post_,
1770, in Dr. Maxwell's _Collectanea_, Oct. 12, 1779, Aug. 30, 1780, and
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 10, 1773.

[1350] In the original, _struck_.

[1351] _Epigram_, Lib. ii. 'In Elizabeth. Angliae Reg.' MALONE.

[1352] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 23.

[1353] Virgil, _Eclogues_, i. 5. Johnson, when a boy, turned the line
thus:--'And the wood rings with Amarillis' name.' _Ante_, p. 51.

[1354] Boswell said of Paoli's talk about great men:--'I regret that the
fire with which he spoke upon such occasions so dazzled me, that I could
not recollect his sayings, so as to write them down when I retired from
his presence.' _Corsica_, p. 197.

[1355] More passages than one in Boswell's _Letters to Temple_ shew this
absence of relish. Thus in 1775 he writes:--'I perceive some dawnings of
taste for the country' (p. 216); and again:--'I will force a taste for
natural beauties' (p. 219).

[1356] Milton's _L'Allegro_, 1. 118.

[1357] See _post_, April 2, 1775, and April 17, 1778.

[1358] My friend Sir Michael Le Fleming. This gentleman, with all his
experience of sprightly and elegant life, inherits, with the beautiful
family Domain, no inconsiderable share of that love of literature, which
distinguished his venerable grandfather, the Bishop of Carlisle. He one
day observed to me, of Dr. Johnson, in a felicity of phrase, 'There is a
blunt dignity about him on every occasion.' BOSWELL.

[1359] Wordsworth's lines to the Baronet's daughter, Lady Fleming, might
be applied to the father:--

'Lives there a man whose sole delights
Are trivial pomp and city noise,
Hardening a heart that loathes or slights
What every natural heart enjoys?'

Wordsworth's _Poems_, iv. 338.

[1360] Afterwards Lord Stowell. He was a member of Doctors' Commons, the
college of Civilians in London, who practised in the Ecclesiastical
Courts and the Court of the Admiralty. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 14, 1773.

[1361] He repeated this advice on the death of Boswell's father, _post_,
Sept. 7, 1782.

[1362] Johnson (_Works_, ix. 159) describes 'the sullen dignity of the
old castle.' See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 4. 1773.

[1363] Probably Burke's _Vindication of Natural Society_, published in
1756 when Burke was twenty-six.

[1364] See _ante_, p. 421.

[1365] Boswell wrote to Temple on July 28, 1763:--'My departure fills me
with a kind of gloom that quite overshadows my mind. I could almost weep
to think of leaving dear London, and the calm retirement of the Inner
Temple. This is very effeminate and very young, but I cannot help it.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 46.

[1366] Mrs. Piozzi says (_Anec_. p. 297) that 'Johnson's eyes were so
wild, so piercing, and at times so fierce, that fear was, I believe, the
first emotion in the hearts of all his beholders.'

[1367] Johnson was, in fact, the editor of this work, as appears from a
letter of Mr. T. Davies to the Rev. Edm. Bettesworth:--'Reverend Sir,--I
take the liberty to send you Roger Ascham's works in English. Though Mr.
Bennet's name is in the title, the editor was in reality Mr. Johnson,
the author of the _Rambler_, who wrote the life of the author, and added
several notes. Mr. Johnson gave it to Mr. Bennet, for his advantage,'
&c.--CROKER. Very likely Davies exaggerated Johnson's share in the book.
Bennet's edition was published, not in 1763, but in 1761.

[1368] 'Lord Sheffield describes the change in Gibbon's opinions caused
by the reign of terror:--'He became a warm and zealous advocate for
every sort of old establishment. I recollect in a circle where French
affairs were the topic and some Portuguese present, he, seemingly with
seriousness, argued in favour of the Inquisition at Lisbon, and said he
would not, at the present moment, give up even that old establishment.'
_Gibbons's Misc. Works_, i. 328. One of Gibbon's correspondents told him
in 1792, that the _Wealth of Nations_ had been condemned by the
Inquisition on account of 'the lowness of its style and the looseness of
the morals which it inculcates.' _Ib_. ii. 479. See also _post_, May
7, 1773.

[1369] Johnson wrote on Aug. 17, 1773:--'This morning I saw at breakfast
Dr. Blacklock, the blind poet, who does not remember to have seen light,
and is read to by a poor scholar in Latin, Greek, and French. He was
originally a poor scholar himself. I looked on him with reverence.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 110. See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17, 1773.
Spence published an _Account of Blacklock_, in which he meanly omitted
any mention of Hume's great generosity to the blind poet. J. H. Burton's
_Hume_, i. 392. Hume asked Blacklock whether he connected colour and
sound. 'He answered, that as he met so often with the terms expressing
colours, he had formed some false associations, but that they were of
the intellectual kind. The illumination of the sun, for instance, he
supposed to resemble the presence of a friend.' _Ib_. p. 389.

[1370] They left London early and yet they travelled only 51 miles that
day. The whole distance to Harwich is 71 miles. Paterson's
_Itinerary_, i. 323.

[1371] Mackintosh (_Life_, ii. 162) writing of the time of William III,
says that 'torture was legal in Scotland, and familiar in every country
of Europe but England. Was there a single writer at that time who had
objected to torture? I think not.' In the _Gent. Mag_. for 1742 (p. 660)
it is stated that 'the King of Prussia has forbid the use of torture in
his dominions.' In 1747 (p. 298) we read that Dr. Blackwell, an English
physician, had been put to the torture in Sweden. Montesquieu in the
_Esprit des Lois_, vi. 17, published in 1748, writing of 'la question ou
torture centre les criminels,' says:--'Nous voyons aujourd'hui une
nation tres-bien policee [la nation anglaise] la rejeter sans
inconvenient. Elle n'est donc pas necessaire par sa nature.' Boswell in
1765 found that Paoli tortured a criminal with fire. _Corsica_, p. 158.
Voltaire, in 1777, after telling how innocent men had been put to death
with torture in the reign of Lewis XIV, continues--'Mais un roi a-t-il
le temps de songer a ces menus details d'horreurs au milieu de ses
fetes, de ses conquetes, et de ses mattresses? Daignez vous en occuper,
o Louis XVI, vous qui n'avez aucune de ces distractions!' Voltaire's
_Works_, xxvi. 332. Johnson, two years before Voltaire thus wrote, had
been shown _la chambre de question_--the torture-chamber-_in Paris_.
_Post_, Oct. 17, 1775. It was not till the Revolution that torture was
abolished in France. One of the Scotch judges in 1793, at the trial of
Messrs. Palmer and Muir for sedition (_post_, June 3, 1781, note),
'asserted that now the torture was banished, there was no adequate
punishment for sedition.' _Parl. Hist_. xxx. 1569.

[1372] 'A cheerful and good heart will have a care of his meat and
drink.' _Ecclesiasticus_, xxx. 25.

'Verecundari neminem apud mensam decet,
Nam ibi de divinis atque humanis cernitur.'
_Trinummus_, act 2, sc. 4.

Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 149) records that 'Johnson often said, "that
wherever the dinner is ill got, there is poverty, or there is avarice,
or there is stupidity; in short, the family is somehow grossly wrong;
for," continued he, "a man seldom thinks with more earnestness of
anything than he does of his dinner; and if he cannot get that well
dressed, he should be suspected of inaccuracy in other things."' Yet he
'used to say that a man who rode out for an appetite consulted but
little the dignity of human nature.' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 204.

[1373] This essay is more against the practices of the parasite than
gulosity. It is entitled _The art of living at the cost of others_.
Johnson wrote to one of Mrs. Thrale's children:--'Gluttony is, I think,
less common among women than among men. Women commonly eat more
sparingly, and are less curious in the choice of meat; but if once you
find a woman gluttonous, expect from her very little virtue. Her mind is
enslaved to the lowest and grossest temptation.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 298.

[1374] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 355) mentions 'the greediness with which he
ate, his total inattention to those among whom he was seated, and his
profound silence at the moment of refection.'

[1375] Cumberland (_Memoirs_, i. 357) says:--'He fed heartily, but not
voraciously, and was extremely courteous in his commendations of any
dish that pleased his palate.'

[1376] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on July 10, 1780:--'Last week I saw
flesh but twice and I think fish once; the rest was pease. You are
afraid, you say, lest I extenuate myself too fast, and are an enemy to
violence; but did you never hear nor read, dear Madam, that every man
has his _genius_, and that the great rule by which all excellence is
attained and all success procured, is to follow _genius_; and have you
not observed in all our conversations that my _genius_ is always in
extremes; that I am very noisy or very silent; very gloomy or very
merry; very sour or very kind? And would you have me cross my _genius_
when it leads me sometimes to voracity and sometimes to abstinence?'
_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 166.

[1377] 'This,' he told Boswell, 'was no intentional fasting, but
happened just in the course of a literary life.' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Oct. 4, 1773. See _post_, April 17, 1778.

[1378] In the last year of his life, when he knew that his appetite was
diseased, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'I have now an inclination to luxury
which even your table did not excite; _for till now my talk was more
about the dishes than my thoughts_. I remember you commended me for
seeming pleased with my dinners when you had reduced your table; I am
able to tell you with great veracity, that I never knew when the
reduction began, nor should have known what it was made, had not you
told me. _I now think and consult to-day what I shall eat to-morrow.
This disease will, I hope, be cured_.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 362.

[1379] Johnson's visit to Gordon and Maclaurin are just mentioned in
Boswell's _Hebrides_, under Nov. 11, 1772.

[1380] The only nobleman with whom he dined 'about the same time' was
Lord Elibank. After dining with him, 'he supped,' says Boswell, 'with my
wife and myself.' _Ib_.

[1381] See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[1382] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 102) says, 'Johnson's own notions about
eating were nothing less than delicate; a leg of pork boiled till it
dropped from the bone, a veal-pie with plums and sugar, or the outside
cut of a salt buttock of beef were his favourite dainties.' Cradock saw
Burke at a tavern dinner send Johnson a very small piece of a pie, the
crust of which was made with bad butter. 'Johnson soon returned his
plate for more. Burke exclaimed:--"I am glad that you are able so well
to relish this pie." Johnson, not at all pleased that what he ate should
ever be noticed, retorted:--"There is a time of life, Sir, when a man
requires the repairs of a table."' Cradock's _Memoirs_, i. 229. A
passage in Baretti's _Italy_, ii. 316, seems to show that English eating
in general was not delicate. 'I once heard a Frenchman swear,' he
writes, 'that he hated the English, "parce qu'ils versent du beurre
fondu sur leur veau rod."'

[1383] 'He had an abhorrence of affectation,' said Mr. Langton. _Post_,
1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_.

[1384] At college he would not let his companions say _prodigious_.
_Post_, April 17, 1778.

[1385] See _post_, Sept. 19, 1777, and 1780 in Mr. Langton's
_Collection_. Dugald Stewart quotes a saying of Turgot:--'He who had
never doubted of the existence of matter might be assured he had no turn
for metaphysical disquisitions.' _Life of Reid_, p. 416.

[1386] Claude Buffier, born 1661, died 1737. Author of _Traite
despremieres verites et de la source de nos jugements_.


'Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride
Turns you from sound philosophy aside.'

Pope's _Satires_, ii. 5.

[1388] Mackintosh (_Life_, i. 71) said that 'Burke's treatise on the
_Sublime and Beautiful_ is rather a proof that his mind was not formed
for pure philosophy; and if we may believe Boswell that it was once the
intention of Mr. Burke to have written against Berkeley, we may be
assured that he would not have been successful in answering that great
speculator; or, to speak more correctly, that he could not have
discovered the true nature of the questions in dispute, and thus have
afforded the only answer consistent with the limits of the human

[1389] Goldsmith's _Retaliation_.

[1390] I have the following autograph letter written by Johnson to Dr.
Taylor three weeks after Boswell's departure.


'Having with some impatience reckoned upon hearing from you these two
last posts, and been disappointed, I can form to myself no reason for
the omission but your perturbation of mind, or disorder of body arising
from it, and therefore I once more advise removal from Ashbourne as the
proper remedy both for the cause and the effect.

'You perhaps ask, whither should I go? any whither where your case is
not known, and where your presence will cause neither looks nor
whispers. Where you are the necessary subject of common talk, you will
not safely be at rest.

'If you cannot conveniently write to me yourself let somebody write for
you to

'Dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,


'August 25, 1763.

'To the Reverend Dr. Taylor
in Ashbourne,

Five other letters on the same subject are given in _Notes and Queries_,
6th S. v. pp. 324, 342, 382. Taylor and his wife 'never lived very well
together' (p. 325), and at last she left him. On May 22nd of the next
year Johnson congratulated Taylor 'upon the happy end of so vexatious an
affair, the happyest [sic] that could be next to reformation and
reconcilement' (p. 382). Taylor did not follow the advice to leave
Ashbourne; for on Sept. 3 Johnson wrote to him:--'You seem to be so well
pleased to be where you are, that I shall not now press your removal;
but do not believe that every one who rails at your wife wishes well to
you. A small country town is not the place in which one would chuse to
quarrel with a wife; every human being in such places is a spy.'
_Ib_. p. 343.

[1391] According to Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 210) he was accompanied by
his black servant Frank. 'I must have you know, ladies,' said he, 'that
Frank has carried the empire of Cupid further than most men. When I was
in Lincolnshire so many years ago he attended me thither; and when we
returned home together, I found that a female haymaker had followed him
to London for love.' If this story is generally true, it bears the mark
of Mrs. Piozzi's usual inaccuracy. The visit was paid early in the year,
and was over in February; what haymakers were there at that season?

[1392] Boswell by his quotation marks refers, I think, to his
_Hebrides_, Oct. 24, 1773, where Johnson says:--'Nobody, at times, talks
more laxly than I do.' See also _post_, ii. 73.

[1393] See _post_, April 26, 1776, for old Mr. Langton's slowness of

[1394] See _ante_, i. 320.

[1395] Mr. Best (_Memorials_, p. 65) thus writes of a visit to
Langton:--'We walked to the top of a very steep hill behind the house.
Langton said, "Poor dear Dr. Johnson, when he came to this spot, turned
back to look down the hill, and said he was determined to take a roll
down. When we understood what he meant to do, we endeavoured to dissuade
him; but he was resolute, saying, he had not had a roll for a long time;
and taking out of his lesser pockets whatever might be in them, and
laying himself parallel with the edge of the hill, he actually
descended, turning himself over and over till he came to the bottom."
This story was told with such gravity, and with an air of such
affectionate remembrance of a departed friend, that it was impossible to
suppose this extraordinary freak an invention of Mr. Langton.' It must
have been in the winter that he had this roll.

[1396] Boswell himself so calls it in a Mr. letter to Temple written
three or four months after Garrick's death, _Letters of Boswell_, p.
242. See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25, 1773.

[1397] Malone says:--'Reynolds was the original founder of our Literary
Club about the year 1762, the first thought of which he started to Dr.
Johnson at his own fireside.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 434. Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anec_. p. 122) says:--'Johnson called Reynolds their Romulus, or said
somebody else of the company called him so, which was more likely.'
According to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 425) the Club was founded in the winter
of 1763, i.e. 1763-4.

[1398] Dr. Nugent, a physician, was Burke's father-in-law. Macaulay
(_Essays_, i. 407) says:--'As we close Boswell's book, the club-room is
before us, and the table on which stands the omelet for Nugent, and the
lemons for Johnson.' It was from Mrs. Piozzi that Macaulay learnt of the
omelet. Nugent was a Roman Catholic, and it was on Friday that the Club
before long came to meet. We may assume that he would not on that day
eat meat. 'I fancy,' Mrs. Piozzi writes (_Anec_. p. 122), 'Dr. Nugent
ordered an omelet sometimes on a Friday or Saturday night; for I
remember Mr. Johnson felt very painful sensations at the sight of that
dish soon after his death, and cried:--"Ah my poor dear friend! I shall
never eat omelet with _thee_ again!" quite in an agony.' Dr. Nugent, in
the imaginary college at St. Andrews, was to be the professor of physic.
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25, 1773.

[1399] Mr. Andrew Chamier was of Huguenot descent, and had been a
stock-broker. He was a man of liberal education. 'He acquired such a
fortune as enabled him, though young, to quit business, and become, what
indeed he seemed by nature intended for, a gentleman.' Hawkins's
_Johnson_, p. 422. In 1764 he was Secretary in the War Office. In 1775
he was appointed Under Secretary of State. Forster's _Goldsmith_, i.
310. He was to be the professor of commercial politics in the imaginary
college. Johnson passed one of his birth-days at his house; _post_,
under Sept. 9, 1779, note.

[1400] 'It was Johnson's intention,' writes Hawkins (_Life_, p. 423),
'that their number should not exceed nine.' Nine was the number of the
Ivy Lane Club (_ante_, p. 190). Johnson, I suppose, looked upon nine as
the most _clubable_ number. 'It was intended,' says Dr. Percy, 'that if
only two of these chanced to meet for the evening, they should be able
to entertain each other.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 70. Hawkins adds
that 'Mr. Dyer (_post_, 1780 in Mr. Langton's _Collection_), a member of
the Ivy Lane Club, who for some years had been abroad, made his
appearance among us, and was cordially received.' According to Dr.
Percy, by 1768 not only had Hawkins formally withdrawn, but Beauclerk
had forsaken the club for more fashionable ones. 'Upon this the Club
agreed to increase their number to twelve; every new member was to be
elected by ballot, and one black ball was sufficient for exclusion. Mr.
Beauclerk then desired to be restored to the Society, and the following
new members were introduced on Monday, Feb. 15, 1768; Sir R. Chambers,
Dr. Percy and Mr. Colman.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 72. In the list
in Croker's _Boswell_, ed. 1844, ii. 326, the election of Percy and
Chambers is placed in 1765.

[1401] Boswell wrote on April 4, 1775:--'I dine, Friday, at the Turk's
Head, Gerrard-street, with our Club, Sir Joshua Reynolds, etc., who now
dine once a month, and sup every Friday.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 186.
In 1766, Monday was the night of meeting. _Post_, May 10, 1766. In Dec.
1772 the night was changed to Friday. Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 72.
Hawkins says (_Life_, pp. 424, 5):--'We seldom got together till nine;
preparing supper took up till ten; and by the time that the table was
cleared, it was near eleven. Our evening toast was the motto of Padre
Paolo, _Esto perpetua! Esto perpetua_ was being soon not Padre Paolo's
motto, but his dying prayer. 'As his end evidently approached, the
brethren of the convent came to pronounce the last prayers, with which
he could only join in his thoughts, being able to pronounce no more than
these words, "_Esto perpetua_" mayst thou last for ever; which was
understood to be a prayer for the prosperity of his country.' Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 269.

[1402] See _post_, March 14, 1777.

[1403] 'After 1783 it removed to Prince's in Sackville-street, and on
his house being soon afterwards shut up, it removed to Baxter's, which
subsequently became Thomas's, in Dover-street. In January 1792 it
removed to Parsloe's, in St. James's-street; and on February 26, 1799,
to the Thatched-house in the same street.' Forster's _Goldsmith_ i. 311.

[1404] The second edition is here spoken of. MALONE.

[1405] _Life of Johnson_, p. 425. BOSWELL.

[1406] From Sir Joshua Reynolds. BOSWELL. The Knight having refused to
pay his portion of the reckoning for supper, because he usually eat no
supper at home, Johnson observed, 'Sir John, Sir, is a very _unclubable_
man.' BURNEY. Hawkins (_Life_, p. 231) says that 'Mr. Dyer had
contracted a fatal intimacy with some persons of desperate fortunes, who
were dealers in India stock, at a time when the affairs of the company
were in a state of fluctuation.' Malone, commenting on this passage,
says that 'under these words Mr. Burke is darkly alluded to, together
with his cousin.' He adds that the character given of Dyer by Hawkins
'is discoloured by the malignant prejudices of that shallow writer, who,
having quarrelled with Mr. Burke, carried his enmity even to Mr. Burke's
friends.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 419. See also _ante_, p. 27. Hawkins
(_Life_, p. 420) said of Goldsmith:--'As he wrote for the booksellers,
we at the Club looked on him as a mere literary drudge, equal to the
task of compiling and translating, but little capable of original, and
still less of poetical composition.'

[1407] _Life of Johnson_, p. 425. BOSWELL. Hawkins is 'equally
inaccurate' in saying' that Johnson was so constant at our meetings as
never to absent himself.' (_Ib_. p. 424.) See _post_, Johnson's letter
to Langton of March 9, 1766, where he says:--'Dyer is constant at the
Club; Hawkins is remiss; I am not over diligent.'

[1408] Letters to and from Dr. Johnson. Vol. ii. p. 278 [387]. BOSWELL.
The passage is as follows:--'"If he _does_ apply," says our Doctor to
Mr. Thrale, "I'll black-ball him." "Who, Sir? Mr. Garrick, your friend,
your companion,--black-ball him!" "Why, Sir, I love my little David
dearly, better than all or any of his flatterers do, but surely one
ought, &c."'

[1409] Pope's _Moral Essays_, iii. 242.

[1410] Malone says that it was from him that Boswell had his account of
Garrick's election, and that he had it from Reynolds. He adds that
'Johnson warmly supported Garrick, being in reality a very tender
affectionate man. He was merely offended at the actors conceit.' He
continues:--'On the former part of this story it probably was that
Hawkins grounded his account that Garrick never was of the Club, and
that Johnson said he never ought to be of it. And thus it is that this
stupid biographer, and the more flippant and malicious Mrs. Piozzi have
miscoloured and misrepresented almost every anecdote that they have
pretented to tell of Dr. Johnson.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 392. Whatever
was the slight cast upon Garrick, he was nevertheless the sixth new
member elected. Four, as I have shown, were added by 1768. The next
elections were in 1773 (Croker's _Boswell_, ed. 1844. ii. 326), when
five were added, of whom Garrick was the second, and Boswell the fifth.
In 1774 five more were elected, among whom were Fox and Gibbon. Hannah
More (_Memoirs_, i. 249) says that 'upon Garrick's death, when
numberless applications were made to succeed him [in the Club], Johnson
was deaf to them all. He said, "No, there never could be found any
successor worthy of such a man;" and he insisted upon it there should be
a year's widowhood in the club, before they thought of a new election.'

[1411] Grainger wrote to Percy on April 6, 1764:--'Sam. Johnson says he
will review it in _The Critical_' In August, 1765, he wrote:--'I am
perfectly satisfied with the reception the _Sugar Cane_ has met with,
and am greatly obliged to you and Mr. Johnson for the generous care you
took of it in my absence.' Prior's _Goldsmith_, i. 238. He was absent in
the West Indies. He died on Dec. 16, 1766. _Ib_. p. 241. The review of
the _Sugar Cane_ in the _Critical Review_ (p. 270) is certainly by
Johnson. The following passage is curious:--'The last book begins with a
striking invocation to the genius of Africa, and goes on to give proper
instructions for the buying and choice of negroes.... The poet talks of
this ungenerous commerce without the least appearance of detestation;
but proceeds to direct these purchasers of their fellow-creatures with
the same indifference that a groom would give instructions for
choosing a horse.

'Clear roll their ample eye; their tongue be red;
Broad swell their chest; their shoulders wide expand;
Not prominent their belly; clean and strong
Their thighs and legs in just proportion risc.'

See also _post_, March 21, 1776.

[1412] Johnson thus ends his brief review:--'Such in the poem on which
we now congratulate the public as on a production to which, since the
death of Pope, it not be easy to find anything equal.' _Critical
Review_, p. 462.

[1413] _Pr. and Med_. p. 50. BOSWELL. He adds:--

'I hope
To put my rooms in order.
Disorder I have found one great cause of idleness.'

[1414] _Ib_. p. 51. BOSWELL.

[1415] It was on his birth-day that he said this. He wrote on the same
day:--'I have outlived many friends. I have felt many sorrows. I have
made few improvements.'

[1416] _Prayers and Meditations_, p. 58. BOSWELL. In his _Vision of
Theodore_ (_Works_, ix. 174) he describes the state of mind which he has
recorded in his Meditations:--'There were others whose crime it was
rather to neglect Reason than to disobey her; and who retreated from the
heat and tumult of the way, not to the bowers of Intemperance, but to
the maze of Indolence. They had this peculiarity in their condition,
that they were always in sight of the road of Reason, always wishing for
her presence, and always resolving to return to-morrow.'

[1417] See Appendix F.

[1418] It used to be imagined at Mr. Thrale's, when Johnson retired to a
window or corner of the room, by perceiving his lips in motion, and
hearing a murmur without audible articulation, that he was praying: but
this was not _always_ the case, for I was once, perhaps unperceived by
him, writing at a table, so near the place of his retreat, that I heard
him repeating some lines in an ode of Horace, over and over again, as if
by iteration, to exercise the organs of speech, and fix the ode in
his memory:

Audiet cives acuisse ferrum
Quo graves Persas melius perirent,
Audiet pugnas....
Odes, i. 2, 21.
['Our sons shall hear, shall hear to latest times,
Of Roman arms with civil gore imbrued,
Which better had the Persian foe subdued.'

It was during the American War. BURNEY. Boswell in his _Hebrides_ (Oct.
12, 1773) records, 'Dr. Johnson is often uttering pious ejaculations,
when he appears to be talking to himself; for sometimes his voice grows
stronger, and parts of the Lord's Prayer are heard.' In the same passage
he describes other 'particularities,' and adds in a note:--'It is
remarkable that Dr. Johnson should have read this account of some of his
own peculiar habits, without saying anything on the subject, which I
hoped he would have done.' See _post_, Dec. 1784, note.

[1419] Churchill's _Poems_, i. 16. See _ante_, p. 391.

[1420] 'It is in vain to try to find a meaning in every one of his
particularities, which, I suppose, are mere habits contracted by chance;
of which every man has some that are more or less remarkable.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Oct. 12, 1773. 'The love of symmetry and order, which is
natural to the mind of man, betrays him sometimes into very whimsical
fancies. "This noble principle," says a French author, "loves to amuse
itself on the most trifling occasions. You may see a profound
philosopher," says he, "walk for an hour together in his chamber, and
industriously treading at every step upon every other board in the
flooring."' _The Spectator_, No. 632.

[1421] Mr. S. Whyte (_Miscellanea Nova_, p. 49) tells how from old Mr.
Sheridan's house in Bedford-street, opposite Henrietta-street, with an
opera-glass he watched Johnson approaching. 'I perceived him at a good
distance working along with a peculiar solemnity of deportment, and an
awkward sort of measured step. Upon every post as he passed along, he
deliberately laid his hand; but missing one of them, when he had got at
some distance he seemed suddenly to recollect himself, and immediately
returning carefully performed the accustomed ceremony, and resumed his
former course, not omitting one till he gained the crossing. This, Mr.
Sheridan assured me, was his constant practice.'

[1422] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, 3rd edit. p. 316. BOSWELL.
'The day that we left Talisker, he bade us ride on. He then turned the
head of his horse back towards Talisker, stopped for some time; then
wheeled round to the same direction with ours, and then came briskly
after us.' Boswell's _Hebrides_', Oct. 12, 1773.

[1423] Sir Joshua's sister, for whom Johnson had a particular affection,
and to whom he wrote many letters which I have seen, and which I am
sorry her too nice delicacy will not permit to be published. BOSWELL.
'Whilst the company at Mr. Thrale's were speculating upon a microscope
for the mind, Johnson exclaimed:--"I never saw one that would bear it,
except that of my dear Miss Reynolds, and hers is very near to purity
itself."' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 80. Once, said Northcote, there was
a coolness between her and her brother. She wished to set forth to him
her grievances in a letter. Not finding it easy to write, she consulted
Johnson, 'who offered to write a letter himself, which when copied
should pass as her own.' This he did. It began: 'I am well aware that
complaints are always odious, but complain I must.' Such a letter as
this she saw would not pass with Sir Joshua as her own, and so she could
not use it. _Ib_. p. 203. Of Johnson's letters to her Malone published
one, and Mr. Croker several more. Mme. D'Arblay, in the character she
draws of her (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i. 332), says that 'Dr. Johnson
tried in vain to cure her of living in an habitual perplexity of mind
and irresolution of conduct, which to herself was restlessly tormenting,
and to all around her was teazingly wearisome.'

[1424] See Appendix C.

[1425] _Pr. and Med_. p. 61. BOSWELL.

[1426] See _ante_, p. 346.

[1427] His quarter's pension. See _ante_, P. 376.

[1428] Mr. Croker, misunderstanding a passage in Hawkins,
writes:--'Hawkins says that he disliked to be called Doctor, as
reminding him that he had been a schoolmaster.' What Hawkins really says
(_Life_, p. 446) is this:--'His attachment to Oxford prevented Johnson
from receiving this honour as it was intended, and he never assumed the
title which it conferred. He was as little pleased to be called Doctor
in consequence of it, as he was with the title of _Domine_, which a
friend of his once incautiously addressed him by. He thought it alluded
to his having been a schoolmaster.' It is clear that 'it' in the last
line refers only to the title of _Domine_. Murphy (_Life_, p. 98) says
that Johnson never assumed the title of Doctor, till Oxford conferred on
him the degree. Boswell states (_post_, March 31, 1775, note):--'It is
remarkable that he never, so far as I know, assumed his title of
_Doctor_, but called himself _Mr_. Johnson.' In this, as I show there,
Boswell seems to be not perfectly accurate. I do not believe Hawkins's
assertion that Johnson 'was little pleased to be called Doctor in
consequence of his Dublin degree.' In Boswell's Hebrides, most of which
was read by him before he received his Oxford degree, he is commonly
styled Doctor. Boswell says in a note on Aug. 15, 1773:--'It was some
time before I could bring myself to call him Doctor.' Had Johnson
disliked the title it would have been known to Boswell. Mrs. Thrale, it
is true, in her letters' to him, after he had received both his degrees,
commonly speaks of him as Mr. Johnson. We may assume that he valued his
Oxford degree of M.A. more highly than the Dublin degree of LL.D.; for
in the third edition of the _Abridgment of his Dictionary_, published in
1766, he is styled Samuel Johnson, A.M. In his _Lives of the Poets_ he
calls himself simply Samuel Johnson. He had by that time risen above
degrees. In his _Journey to the Hebrides_ (_Works_, ix. 14), after
stating that 'An English or Irish doctorate cannot be obtained by a very
young man,' he continues:--'It is reasonable to suppose ... that he who
is by age qualified to be a doctor, has in so much time gained learning
sufficient not to disgrace the title, or wit sufficient not to
desire it.'

[1429] Trinity College made him, it should seem, _Armiger_ at the same
time that it made him Doctor of Laws.

[1430] See Appendix D for this letter.

[1431] _Pr. and Med_. p. 66. BOSWELL.

[1432] _Single-speech_ Hamilton, as he was commonly called, though in
the House of Commons he had spoken more than once. For above thirty
sessions together, however, he held his tongue. Prior's _Burke_, p. 67.

[1433] See Appendix E for an explanation.

[1434] _Pr. and Med_. p. 67 BOSWELL.

[1435] See Appendix F.

[1436] Mr. Blakeway, in a note on this passage, says:--'The predecessor
of old Thrale was Edmund Halsey, Esq.; the nobleman who married his
daughter was Lord Cobham. The family of Thrale was of some consideration
in St. Albans; in the Abbey-church is a handsome monument to the memory
of Mr. John Thrale, late of London, merchant, who died in 1704.' He
describes the arms on the monument. Mr. Hayward, in _Mrs. Piozzis
Autobiography_, i. 9, quotes her marginal note on this page in Boswell.
She says that Edmund Halsey, son of a miller at St. Albans, married the
only daughter of his master, old Child, of the Anchor Brewhouse,
Southwark, and succeeded to the business upon Child's death. 'He sent
for one of his sister's sons to London (my Mr. Thrale's father); said he
would make a man of him, and did so; but made him work very hard, and
treated him very roughly.' He left him nothing at his death, and Thrale
bought the brewery of Lord and Lady Cobham.

[1437] See _post_, under April 4, 1781, and June 16, 1781.

[1438] Mrs. Burney informs me that she heard Dr. Johnson say, 'An
English Merchant is a new species of Gentleman.' He, perhaps, had in his
mind the following ingenious passage in _The Conscious Lovers_, act iv.
scene ii, where Mr. Sealand thus addresses Sir John Bevil: 'Give me
leave to say, that we merchants are a species of gentry that have grown
into the world this last century, and are as honourable, and almost as
useful as you landed-folks, that have always thought yourselves so much
above us; for your trading forsooth is extended no farther than a load
of hay, or a fat ox.--You are pleasant people indeed! because you are
generally bred up to be lazy, therefore, I warrant your industry is
dishonourable.' BOSWELL.

_The Conscious Lovers_ is by Steele. 'I never heard of any plays fit for
a Christian to read,' said Parson Adams, 'but _Cato_ and _The Conscious
Lovers_; and I must own, in the latter there are some things almost
solemn enough for a sermon.' _Joseph Andrews_, Book III, chap. xi.

[1439] In the first number of _The Hypochondriack_ Boswell writes:--'It
is a saying in feudal treatises, "Semel Baro semper Baro_," "Once a
baron always a baron."' _London Mag_. 1777, p. 493. He seems of Mr.
Thrale's inferiority by speaking of him as Thrale and his house as
Thrale's. See _post_, April 5 and 12, 1776, April 7, 1778, and under
March 30, 1783. He never, I believe, is thus familiar in the case of
Beauclerk, Burke, Langton, and Reynolds.

[1440] For her extraction see Hayward's _Mrs. Piozzi_, i. 238.

[1441] Miss Burney records in May 1779, how one day at Streatham 'Mr.
Murphy met with a very joyful reception; and Mr. Thrale, for the first
time in his life, said he was "a good fellow;" for he makes it a sort of
rule to salute him with the title of "scoundrel," or "rascal." They are
very old friends; and I question if Mr. Thrale loves any man so well.'
Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 210.

[1442] From the _Garrick Corres_, i. 116, it seems that Murphy
introduced Garrick to the Thrales. He wrote to him on May 13,
1760:--'You stand engaged to Mr. Thrale for Wednesday night. You need
not apprehend drinking; it is a very easy house.'

[1443] Murphy (_Life_, p. 98) says that Johnson's introduction to the
Thrales 'contributed more than anything else to exempt him from the
solicitudes of life.' He continues that 'he looks back to the share he
had in that business with self congratulation, since he knows the
tenderness which from that time soothed Johnson's cares at Streatham,
and prolonged a valuable life.' Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale from
Lichfield on July 20, 1767:--'I have found nothing that withdraws my
affections from the friends whom I left behind, or which makes me less
desirous of reposing at that place which your kindness and Mr. Thrale's
allows me to call my _home_.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 4. From Mull, on Oct.
15, 1773, he wrote:--'Having for many weeks had no letter, my longings
are very great to be informed how all things are at home, as you and
mistress allow me to call it.' _Ib_. p. 166. Miss Burney in 1778 wrote
that 'though Dr. Johnson lives almost wholly at Streatham, he always
keeps his apartments in town.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 58. Johnson
(_Works_, viii. 381) tells how, in the house of Sir Thomas Abney, 'Dr.
Watts, with a constancy of friendship and uniformity of conduct not
often to be found, was treated for thirty-six years with all the
kindness that friendship could prompt, and all the attention that
respect could dictate.' He continues:--'A coalition like this, a state
in which the notions of patronage and dependence were overpowered by the
perception of reciprocal benefits, deserves a particular memorial.' It
was such a coalition which he formed with the Thrales--a coalition in
which, though the benefits which he received were great, yet those which
he conferred were still greater.

[1444] On this Mrs. Piozzi notes:--'No, no! Mr. Thrale's manners
presented the character of a gay man of the town; like Millamant, in
Congreve's comedy, he abhorred the country and everything in it.'
Hayward's _Piozzi_, i. 10. Mrs. Millamant, in _The Way of the World_,
act iv. sc. iv., says:--'I loathe the country and everything that
relates to it.'

[1445] 'It is but justice to Mr. Thrale to say, that a more ingenuous
frame of mind no man possessed. His education at Oxford gave him the
habits of a gentleman; his amiable temper recommended his conversation,
and the goodness of his heart made him a sincere friend.' Murphy's
_Johnson_, p. 99. Johnson wrote of him to Mrs. Thrale:--'He must keep
well, for he is the pillar of the house; and you must get well, or the
house will hardly be worth propping.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 340. See
_post_, April 18, 1778. Mme. D'Arblay (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, ii. 104)
gives one reason for Thrale's fondness for Johnson's society. 'Though
entirely a man of peace, and a gentleman in his character, he had a
singular amusement in hearing, instigating, and provoking a war of
words, alternating triumph and overthrow, between clever and ambitious
colloquial combatants, where there was nothing that could inflict
disgrace upon defeat.'

[1446] In like manner he called Mr. Thrale _Master_ or _My master_. 'I
hope Master's walk will be finished when I come back.' _Piozzi Letters_,
i. 355. 'My master may plant and dig till his pond is an ocean.' _Ib_.
p. 357. See _post_, July 9, 1777.

[1447] Miss Burney thus described her in 1776:--'She is extremely lively
and chatty; and showed none of the supercilious or pedantic airs so
scoffingly attributed to women of learning or celebrity; on the
contrary, she is full of sport, remarkably gay, and excessively
agreeable. I liked her in everything except her entrance into the room,
which was rather florid and flourishing, as who should say, "It is
I!--No less a person than Mrs. Thrale!" However, all that ostentation
wore out in the course of the visit, which lasted the whole morning; and
you could not have helped liking her, she is so very entertaining--
though not simple enough, I believe, for quite winning your heart.'
_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, ii. 88.

[1448] _Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes_, p. 279. BOSWELL.

[1449] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Oct. 13, 1777:--'I cannot but
think on your kindness and my master's. Life has upon the whole fallen
short, very short, of my early expectation; but the acquisition of such
a friendship, at an age when new friendships are seldom acquired, is
something better than the general course of things gives man a right to
expect. I think on it with great delight; I am not very apt to be
delighted.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 7. Johnson's friends suffered from
this connection. See _post_, March 20, 1778, where it is said that 'at
Streatham he was in a great measure absorbed from the society of his
old friends.'

[1450] Yet one year he recorded:--'March 3, I have never, I thank God,
since new year's day deviated from the practice of rising. In this
practice I persisted till I went to Mr. Thrale's sometime before
Midsummer; the irregularity of that family broke my habit of rising. I
was there till after Michaelmas.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 458, note.
Hawkins places this in 1765; but Johnson states (_Pr. and Med_. p. 71),
'I returned from Streatham, Oct. 1, --66, having lived there more than
three months.'

[1451] Boswell wrote to Temple in 1775:--'I am at present in a
_tourbillon_ of conversations; but how come you to throw in the Thrales
among the Reynoldses and the Beauclerks? Mr. Thrale is a worthy,
sensible man, and has the wits much about his house; but he is not one
himself. Perhaps you mean Mrs. Thrale.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 192.
Murphy (_Life_, p. 141) says:--'It was late in life before Johnson had
the habit of mixing, otherwise than occasionally, with polite company.
At Mr. Thrale's he saw a constant succession of well-accomplished
visitors. In that society he began to wear off the rugged points of his
own character. The time was then expected when he was to cease being
what George Garrick, brother to the celebrated actor, called him the
first time he heard him converse. "A TREMENDOUS COMPANION"'

[1452] Johnson wrote to Dr. Warton on Oct. 9:--'Mrs. Warton uses me
hardly in supposing that I could forget so much kindness and civility as
she showed me at Winchester.' Wooll's _Warton_, p. 309. Malone on this
remarks:--'It appears that Johnson spent some time with that gentleman
at Winchester in this year.' I believe that Johnson is speaking of the
year 1762, when, on his way to Devonshire, he passed two nights in that
town. See Taylor's _Reynolds_, i. 214.

[1453] It was in 1745 that he published his _Observations on Macbeth_,
as a specimen of his projected edition (_ante_, p. 175). In 1756 he
issued _Proposals_ undertaking that his work should be published before
Christmas, 1757 (p. 318). On June 21, 1757, he writes:--'I am printing
my new edition of _Shakspeare_' (p. 322). On Dec. 24 of the same year he
says, 'I shall publish about March' (p. 323). On March 8, 1758, he
writes:--'It will be published before summer.... I have printed many of
the plays' (p. 327). In June of the same year Langton took some of the
plays to Oxford (p. 336). Churchill's _Ghost_ (Parts 1 and 2) was
published in the spring of 1762 (p. 319). On July 20, 1762, Johnson
wrote to Baretti, 'I intend that you shall soon receive Shakspeare' (p.
369). In October 1765 it was published.

[1454] According to Mr. Seward (_Anec_. ii. 464), 'Adam Smith styled it
the most manly piece of criticism that was ever published in
any country.'

[1455] George III, at all events, did not share in this blind
admiration. 'Was there ever,' cried he, 'such stuff as great part of
Shakespeare? only one must not say so. But what think you? What? Is
there not sad stuff? What? What?' 'Yes, indeed, I think so, Sir, though
mixed with such excellencies that--' 'O!' cried he, laughing
good-humouredly, 'I know it is not to be said! but it's true. Only it's
Shakespeare, and nobody dare abuse him.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
ii, 398.

[1456] That Johnson did not slur his work, as has been often said, we
have the best of all evidence--his own word. 'I have, indeed,' he writes
(_Works_, v. 152), 'disappointed no opinion more than my own; yet I have
endeavoured to perform my task with no slight solicitude. Not a single
passage in the whole work has appeared to me corrupt which I have not
attempted to restore; or obscure which I have not attempted to

[1457] Steevens wrote to Garrick:--'To say the truth, the errors of
Warburton and Johnson are often more meritorious than such corrections
of them as the obscure industry of Mr. Farmer and myself can furnish.
Disdaining crutches, they have sometimes had a fall; but it is my duty
to remember, that I, for my part, could not have kept on my legs at all
without them.' _Garrick Corres_. ii, 130. 'Johnson's preface and notes
are distinguished by clearness of thought and diction, and by masterly
common sense.' _Cambridge Shakespeare_, i. xxxvi.

[1458] Kenrick later on was the gross libeller of Goldsmith, and the far
grosser libeller of Garrick. 'When proceedings were commenced against
him in the Court of King's Bench [for the libel on Garrick], he made at
once the most abject submission and retractation.' Prior's _Goldsmith_,
i. 294. In the _Garrick Carres_, (ii. 341) is a letter addressed to
Kenrick, in which Garrick says:--'I could have honoured you by giving
the satisfaction of a gentleman, _if you could_ (as Shakespeare says)
_have screwed your courage to the sticking place_, to have taken it.' It
is endorsed:--'This was not sent to the scoundrel Dr. Kenrick.... It was
judged best not to answer any more of Dr. Kenrick's notes, he had
behaved so unworthily.'

[1459] Ephraim Chambers, in the epitaph that he made for himself
(_ante_, p. 219), had described himself as _multis pervulgatus paucis
notus_.' _Gent. Mag_. x. 262.

[1460] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 1, 1773.

[1461] Johnson had joined Voltaire with Dennis and Rymer. 'Dennis and
Rymer think Shakespeare's Romans not sufficiently Roman; and Voltaire
censures his kings as not completely royal. Dennis is offended that
Menenius, a senator of Rome, should play the buffoon; and Voltaire,
perhaps, thinks decency violated when the Danish usurper is represented
as a drunkard. But Shakespeare always makes nature predominate over
accident.... His story requires Romans or kings, but he thinks only on
men. He knew that Rome, like every other city, had men of all
dispositions; and wanting a buffoon, he went into the senate-house for
that which the senate-house would certainly have afforded him. He was
inclined to show an usurper and a murderer, not only odious, but
despicable; he therefore added drunkenness to his other qualities,
knowing that kings love wine like other men, and that wine exerts its
natural power upon kings. These are the petty cavils of petty _minds_; a
poet overlooks the casual distinction of country and condition, as a
painter, satisfied with the figure, neglects the drapery.' Johnson's
_Works_, v. 109. Johnson had previously attacked Voltaire, in his
_Memoirs of Frederick the Great_. (_Ante_, i. 435, note 2.) In these
_Memoirs_ he writes:--'Voltaire has asserted that a large sum was raised
for her [the Queen of Hungary's] succour by voluntary subscriptions of
the English ladies. It is the great failing of a strong imagination to
catch greedily at wonders. He was misinformed, and was perhaps unwilling
to learn, by a second enquiry, a truth less splendid and amusing.' _Ib_.
vi. 455. See _post_, Oct. 27, 1779.

[1462] 'Voltaire replied in the _Dictionnaire Philosophique_. (_Works_,
xxxiii. 566.) 'J'ai jete les yeux sur une edition de Shakespeare, donnee
par le sieur Samuel Johnson. J'y ai vu qu'on y traite de _petits
esprits_ les etrangers qui sont etonnes que dans les pieces de ce grand
Shakespeare _un senateur romain fasse le bouffon; et gu'un roi paraisse
sur le theatre en ivrogne_. Je ne veux point soupconner le sieur Johnson
d'etre un mauvais plaisant, et d'aimer trop le vin; mais je trouve un
peu extraordinaire qu'il compte la bouffonnerie et l'ivrognerie parmi
les beautes du theatre tragique; la raison qu'il en donne n'est pas
moins singuliere. _Le poete_, dit-il, _dedaigne ces distinctions
accidentelles de conditions et de pays, comme un peintre qui, content
d'avoir peint la figure, neglige la draperie_. La comparaison serait
plus juste, s'il parlait d'un peintre qui, dans un sujet noble,
introduirait des grotesques ridicules, peindrait dans la bataille
d'Arbelles Alexandre-le Grand monte sur un ane, et la femme de Darius
buvant avec des goujats dans un cabaret.' Johnson, perhaps, had this
attack in mind when, in his _Life of Pope_ (_Works_, viii. 275), he thus
wrote of Voltaire:--'He had been entertained by Pope at his table, when
he talked with so much grossness, that Mrs. Pope was driven from the
room. Pope discovered by a trick that he was a spy for the court, and
never considered him as a man worthy of confidence.'

[1463] See _post_, under May 8, 1781.

[1464] See _post_, ii. 74.

[1465] He was probably proposing to himself the model of this excellent
person, who for his piety was named _the Seraphic Doctor_. BOSWELL.


'E'en in a bishop I can spy desert,
Secker is decent, Rundel has a heart.'

Pope. _Epil, Sat_. II. 70.

[1467] So Smollett calls him in his _History of England_, iii. 16.

[1468] Six of these twelve guineas Johnson appears to have borrowed from
Mr. Allen, the printer. See Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_, p. 366

[1469] Written by mistake for 1759. On the _outside_ of the letter of
the 13th was written by another hand--'Pray acknowledge the receipt of
this by return of post, without fail.' MALONE.

[1470] Catherine Chambers, Mrs. Johnson's maid-servant. She died in
October, 1767. MALONE. See _post_, ii. 43.

[1471] This letter was written on the second leaf of the preceding,
addressed to Miss Porter. MALONE.

[1472] Mrs. Johnson probably died on the 20th or 21st January, and was
buried on the day this letter was written. MALONE. On the day on which
his mother was buried Johnson composed a prayer, as being 'now about to
return to the common comforts and business of the world.' _Pr. and Med_.
p. 38. After his wife''s death he had allowed forty days to pass before
his 'return to life.' See _ante_, p. 234, note 2.

[1473] See _ante_, p. 80.

[1474] Barnaby Greene had just published _The Laureat, a Poem_, in which
Johnson is abused. It is in the February list of books in the _Gent.
Mag_. for 1765.

[1475] Sir Cloudesly Shovel's monument is thus mentioned by Addison in
_The Spectator_, No. 26:--'It has very often given me great offence;
instead of the brave rough English Admiral, which was the distinguishing
character of that plain gallant man, he is represented on his tomb by
the figure of a beau, dressed in a long periwig, and reposing himself
upon velvet cushions under a canopy of state.'


'That live-long wig, which Gorgon's self might own,
Eternal buckle takes in Parian stone.'

Pope's _Moral Essays_, iii. 295.

[1477] Milton's Epigram is in his _Sylvarum Liber_, and is entitled _In
Effigiei ejus Sculptorem_.

[1478] Johnson's acquaintance, Bishop Newton (_post_, June 3, 1784),
published an edition of _Milton_.

[1479] It was no doubt by the Master of Emanuel College, his friend
Dr. Farmer (_ante_, p. 368), that Johnson was promised 'an habitation'


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