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

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vociferation, he used to blow out his breath like a Whale. This I
supposed was a relief to his lungs; and seemed in him to be a
contemptuous mode of expression, as if he had made the arguments of his
opponent fly like chaff before the wind.

I am fully aware how very obvious an occasion I here give for the
sneering jocularity of such as have no relish of an exact likeness;
which to render complete, he who draws it must not disdain the slightest
strokes. But if witlings should be inclined to attack this account, let
them have the candour to quote what I have offered in my defence.

He was for some time in the summer at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire,
on a visit to the Reverend Dr. Percy, now Bishop of Dromore. Whatever
dissatisfaction he felt at what he considered as a slow progress in
intellectual improvement, we find that his heart was tender, and his
affections warm, as appears from the following very kind letter:



'I did not hear of your sickness till I heard likewise of your recovery,
and therefore escaped that part of your pain, which every man must feel,
to whom you are known as you are known to me.

'Having had no particular account of your disorder, I know not in what
state it has left you. If the amusement of my company can exhilarate the
languor of a slow recovery, I will not delay a day to come to you; for I
know not how I can so effectually promote my own pleasure as by pleasing
you, or my own interest as by preserving you, in whom, if I should lose
you, I should lose almost the only man whom I call a friend.

'Pray let me hear of you from yourself, or from dear Miss Reynolds[1423].
Make my compliments to Mr. Mudge. I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate

'And most humble servant,


'At the Rev. Mr. Percy's, at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, (by Castle
Ashby,) Aug. 19, 1764.'

[Page 487: Johnson at Cambridge. AEtat 56.]

1765: AETAT. 56.--Early in the year 1765 he paid a short visit to the
University of Cambridge, with his friend Mr. Beauclerk. There is a
lively picturesque account of his behaviour on this visit, in _The
Gentleman's Magazine_ for March 1785, being an extract of a letter from
the late Dr. John Sharp. The two following sentences are very

'He drank his large potations of tea with me, interrupted by many an
indignant contradiction, and many a noble sentiment,'--'Several persons
got into his company the last evening at Trinity, where, about twelve,
he began to be very great; stripped poor Mrs. Macaulay to the very skin,
then gave her for his toast, and drank her in two bumpers[1424].'

The strictness of his self-examination and scrupulous Christian humility
appear in his pious meditation on Easter-day this year.

'I purpose again to partake of the blessed sacrament; yet when I
consider how vainly I have hitherto resolved at this annual
commemoration of my Saviour's death, to regulate my life by his laws, I
am almost afraid to renew my resolutions.'

The concluding words are very remarkable, and shew that he laboured
under a severe depression of spirits.

'Since the last Easter I have reformed no evil habit, my time has been
unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream that has left nothing behind.
_My memory grows confused, and I know not how the days pass over me_.
Good Lord deliver me[1425]!'

[Page 488: Trinity College, Dublin. A.D. 1765.]

No man was more gratefully sensible of any kindness done to him than
Johnson. There is a little circumstance in his diary this year, which
shews him in a very amiable light.

'July 2.--I paid Mr. Simpson ten guineas, which he had formerly lent me
in my necessity and for which Tetty expressed her gratitude.'

'July 8.--I lent Mr. Simpson ten guineas more[1426].'

Here he had a pleasing opportunity of doing the same kindness to an old
friend, which he had formerly received from him. Indeed his liberality
as to money was very remarkable. The next article in his diary is,

'July 16.--I received seventy-five pounds[1427]. Lent Mr. Davis

Trinity College, Dublin, at this time surprised Johnson with a
spontaneous compliment of the highest academical honours, by creating
him Doctor of Laws[1428]. The diploma, which is in my possession, is as

[Page 489: Johnson created Doctor of Laws. AEtat 56.]

'_OMNIBUS ad quos praesentes literae pervenerint, salutem. Nos Praepositus
et Socii seniores Collegii sacrosanctae et individuae Trinitatis Reginae
Elizabethae juxta Dublin, testamur_, Samueli Johnson, _Armigero[1429], ob
egregiam scriptorum elegantiam et utilitatem, gratiam concessam fuisse
pro gradu Doctoratus in utroque Jure, octavo die Julii, Anno Domini
millesimo septingentesimo sexagesimo-quinto. In cujus rei testimonium
singulorum manus et sigillum quo in hisce utimur apposuimus; vicesimo
tertio die Julii, Anno Domini millesimo septingentesimo

'THO. WILSON. Praeps. ROBtus LAW.

This unsolicited mark of distinction, conferred on so great a literary
character, did much honour to the judgement and liberal spirit of that
learned body. Johnson acknowledged the favour in a letter to Dr. Leland,
one of their number; but I have not been able to obtain a copy of it.

He appears this year to have been seized with a temporary fit of
ambition, for he had thoughts both of studying law and of engaging in
politics. His 'Prayer before the Study of Law' is truly admirable:--

'Sept. 26, 1765.

'Almighty GOD, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are
vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be
thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the
doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate
contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall
attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake.

[Page 490: Johnson's introduction to the Thrales. A.D. 1765.]

His prayer in the view of becoming a politician is entitled, 'Engaging
in POLITICKS with H----n,' no doubt his friend, the Right Honourable
William Gerard Hamilton[1432], for whom, during a long acquaintance, he had
a great esteem, and to whose conversation he once paid this high
compliment: 'I am very unwilling to be left alone, Sir, and therefore I
go with my company down the first pair of stairs, in some hopes that
they may, perhaps, return again. I go with you, Sir, as far as the
street-door.' In what particular department he intended to engage does
not appear, nor can Mr. Hamilton explain[1433]. His prayer is in general

'Enlighten my understanding with knowledge of right, and govern my will
by thy laws, that no deceit may mislead me, nor temptation corrupt me;
that I may always endeavour to do good, and hinder evil[1434].'

There is nothing upon the subject in his diary.

[Page 491: Old Thrale. AEtat 56.]

This year[1435] was distinguished by his being introduced into the family
of Mr. Thrale, one of the most eminent brewers in England, and Member of
Parliament for the borough of Southwark. Foreigners are not a little
amazed when they hear of brewers, distillers, and men in similar
departments of trade, held forth as persons of considerable consequence.
In this great commercial country it is natural that a situation which
produces much wealth should be considered as very respectable; and, no
doubt, honest industry is entitled to esteem. But, perhaps, the too
rapid advance of men of low extraction tends to lessen the value of that
distinction by birth and gentility, which has ever been found beneficial
to the grand scheme of subordination. Johnson used to give this account
of the rise of Mr. Thrale's father: 'He worked at six shillings a week
for twenty years in the great brewery, which afterwards was his own. The
proprietor of it had an only daughter, who was married to a nobleman. It
was not fit that a peer should continue the business. On the old man's
death, therefore, the brewery was to be sold. To find a purchaser for so
large a property was a difficult matter; and, after some time, it was
suggested, that it would be adviseable to treat with Thrale, a sensible,
active, honest man, who had been employed in the house, and to transfer
the whole to him for thirty thousand pounds, security being taken upon
the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thrale paid
the purchase-money[1436]. He acquired a large fortune, and lived to be
Member of Parliament for Southwark. But what was most remarkable was the
liberality with which he used his riches. He gave his son and daughters
the best education. The esteem which his good conduct procured him from
the nobleman who had married his master's daughter, made him be treated
with much attention; and his son, both at school and at the University
of Oxford, associated with young men of the first rank. His allowance
from his father, after he left college, was splendid; no less than a
thousand a year. This, in a man who had risen as old Thrale did, was a
very extraordinary instance of generosity. He used to say, 'If this
young dog does not find so much after I am gone as he expects, let him
remember that he has had a great deal in my own time.'

The son, though in affluent circumstances, had good sense enough to
carry on his father's trade, which was of such extent, that I remember
he once told me, he would not quit it for an annuity of ten thousand a
year; 'Not (said he,) that I get ten thousand a year by it, but it is an
estate to a family.' Having left daughters only, the property was sold
for the immense sum of one hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds[1437]; a
magnificent proof of what may be done by fair trade in no long period of

[Page 492: A new system of gentility. A.D. 1765.]

There may be some who think that a new system of gentility[1438] might be
established, upon principles totally different from what have hitherto
prevailed. Our present heraldry, it may be said, is suited to the
barbarous times in which it had its origin. It is chiefly founded upon
ferocious merit, upon military excellence. Why, in civilised times, we
may be asked, should there not be rank and honours, upon principles,
which, independent of long custom, are certainly not less worthy, and
which, when once allowed to be connected with elevation and precedency,
would obtain the same dignity in our imagination? Why should not the
knowledge, the skill, the expertness, the assiduity, and the spirited
hazards of trade and commerce, when crowned with success, be entitled to
give those flattering distinctions by which mankind are so universally

Such are the specious, but false arguments for a proposition which
always will find numerous advocates, in a nation where men are every day
starting up from obscurity to wealth. To refute them is needless. The
general sense of mankind cries out, with irresistible force, 'Un
gentilhomme est toujours gentilhomme'[1439].

[Page 493: A new home for Johnson. AEtat 56.]

Mr. Thrale had married Miss Hesther Lynch Salusbury, of good Welsh
extraction[1440], a lady of lively talents, improved by education. That
Johnson's introduction into Mr. Thrale's family, which contributed so
much to the happiness of his life, was owing to her desire for his
conversation, is very probable and a general supposition: but it is not
the truth. Mr. Murphy, who was intimate with Mr. Thrale[1441], having
spoken very highly of Dr. Johnson, he was requested to make them
acquainted[1442]. This being mentioned to Johnson, he accepted of an
invitation to dinner at Thrale's, and was so much pleased with his
reception, both by Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, and they so much pleased with
him, that his invitations to their house were more and more frequent,
till at last he became one of the family, and an apartment was
appropriated to him, both in their house in Southwark, and in their
villa at Streatham[1443].

[Page 494: Mr. Thrale. A.D. 1765.]

Johnson had a very sincere esteem for Mr. Thrale, as a man of excellent
principles, a good scholar, well skilled in trade, of a sound
understanding, and of manners such as presented the character of a plain
independent English 'Squire[1444]. As this family will frequently be
mentioned in the course of the following pages, and as a false notion
has prevailed that Mr. Thrale was inferiour, and in some degree
insignificant, compared with Mrs. Thrale, it may be proper to give a
true state of the case from the authority of Johnson himself in his own

[Page 495: Mrs. Thrale. AEtat 56.]

'I know no man, (said he,) who is more master of his wife and family
than Thrale. If he but holds up a finger, he is obeyed. It is a great
mistake to suppose that she is above him in literary attainments[1445]. She
is more flippant; but he has ten times her learning: he is a regular
scholar; but her learning is that of a school-boy in one of the lower
forms.' My readers may naturally wish for some representation of the
figures of this couple. Mr. Thrale was tall, well proportioned, and
stately. As for Madam, or my Mistress[1446], by which epithets Johnson used
to mention Mrs. Thrale, she was short, plump, and brisk[1447]. She has
herself given us a lively view of the idea which Johnson had of her
person, on her appearing before him in a dark-coloured gown; 'You little
creatures should never wear those sort of clothes, however; they are
unsuitable in every way. What! have not all insects gay colours[1448]?' Mr.
Thrale gave his wife a liberal indulgence, both in the choice of their
company, and in the mode of entertaining them. He understood and valued
Johnson, without remission, from their first acquaintance to the day of
his death. Mrs. Thrale was enchanted with Johnson's conversation, for
its own sake, and had also a very allowable vanity in appearing to be
honoured with the attention of so celebrated a man.

[Page 496: Johnson's SHAKSPEARE published. A.D. 1765.]

Nothing could be more fortunate for Johnson than this connection[1449]. He
had at Mr. Thrale's all the comforts and even luxuries of life; his
melancholy was diverted, and his irregular habits lessened[1450] by
association with an agreeable and well-ordered family. He was treated
with the utmost respect, and even affection. The vivacity of Mrs.
Thrale's literary talk roused him to cheerfulness and exertion, even
when they were alone. But this was not often the case; for he found here
a constant succession of what gave him the highest enjoyment: the
society of the learned, the witty, and the eminent in every way, who
were assembled in numerous companies[1451], called forth his wonderful
powers, and gratified him with admiration, to which no man could be

[Page 497: Dr. Kenrick. AEtat 56.]

In the October of this year[1452] he at length gave to the world his
edition of _Shakspeare_[1453], which, if it had no other merit but that of
producing his Preface[1454], in which the excellencies and defects of that
immortal bard are displayed with a masterly hand, the nation would have
had no reason to complain. A blind indiscriminate admiration of
Shakspeare had exposed the British nation to the ridicule of
foreigners[1455]. Johnson, by candidly admitting the faults of his poet,
had the more credit in bestowing on him deserved and indisputable
praise; and doubtless none of all his panegyrists have done him half so
much honour. Their praise was, like that of a counsel, upon his own side
of the cause: Johnson's was like the grave, well-considered, and
impartial opinion of the judge, which falls from his lips with weight,
and is received with reverence. What he did as a commentator has no
small share of merit, though his researches were not so ample, and his
investigations so acute as they might have been, which we now certainly
know from the labours of other able and ingenious criticks who have
followed him[1456]. He has enriched his edition with a concise account of
each play, and of its characteristick excellence. Many of his notes have
illustrated obscurities in the text, and placed passages eminent for
beauty in a more conspicuous light; and he has in general exhibited such
a mode of annotation, as may be beneficial to all subsequent editors[1457].

[Page 498: Johnson's attack on Voltaire. A.D. 1785.]

His _Shakespeare_ was virulently attacked by Mr. William Kenrick, who
obtained the degree of LL.D. from a Scotch University, and wrote for the
booksellers in a great variety of branches. Though he certainly was not
without considerable merit, he wrote with so little regard to decency
and principles, and decorum[1458], and in so hasty a manner, that his
reputation was neither extensive nor lasting. I remember one evening,
when some of his works were mentioned, Dr. Goldsmith said, he had never
heard of them; upon which Dr. Johnson observed, 'Sir, he is one of the
many who have made themselves _publick_, without making themselves

A young student of Oxford, of the name of Barclay, wrote an answer to
Kenrick's review of Johnson's _Shakspeare_. Johnson was at first angry
that Kenrick's attack should have the credit of an answer. But
afterwards, considering the young man's good intention, he kindly
noticed him, and probably would have done more, had not the young man

[Page 499: Voltaire's reply. AEtat 56.]

In his Preface to _Shakspeare_, Johnson treated Voltaire very
contemptuously, observing, upon some of his remarks, 'These are the
petty criticisms of petty wits[1461].' Voltaire, in revenge, made an attack
upon Johnson, in one of his numerous literary sallies, which I remember
to have read; but there being no general index to his voluminous works,
have searched in vain, and therefore cannot quote it[1462].

Voltaire was an antagonist with whom I thought Johnson should not
disdain to contend. I pressed him to answer. He said, he perhaps might;
but he never did.

Mr. Burney having occasion to write to Johnson for some receipts for
subscriptions to his Shakspeare, which Johnson had omitted to deliver
when the money was paid[1463], he availed himself of that opportunity of
thanking Johnson for the great pleasure which he had received from the
perusal of his Preface to _Shakspeare_; which, although it excited much
clamour against him at first, is now justly ranked among the most
excellent of his writings. To this letter Johnson returned the following

[Page 500: Resolutions at church.]



'I am sorry that your kindness to me has brought upon you so much
trouble, though you have taken care to abate that sorrow, by the
pleasure which I receive from your approbation. I defend my criticism in
the same manner with you. We must confess the faults of our favourite,
to gain credit to our praise of his excellencies. He that claims, either
in himself or for another, the honours of perfection, will surely injure
the reputation which he designs to assist.

'Be pleased to make my compliments to your family.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most obliged

'And most humble servant,

'Sam. Johnson.'

'Oct. 16, 1765.[1464]'

From one of his journals I transcribed what follows:

'At church, Oct. --65.

'To avoid all singularity; _Bonaventura_[1465].

'To come in before service, and compose my mind by meditation, or by
reading some portions of scriptures. _Tetty_.

'If I can hear the sermon, to attend it, unless attention be more
troublesome than useful.

'To consider the act of prayer as a reposal of myself upon God, and a
resignation of 'all into his holy hand.'



(_Pages_ 118 _and_ 150.)

The publication of the 'Debates' in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ began in
July 1732. The names of the speakers were not printed in full; Sir
Robert Walpole was disguised--if a disguise it can be called--as Sir
R----t W----le, and Mr. Pelham as Mr. P--lh--m. Otherwise the report was
open and avowed. During the first few years, however, it often happened
that no attempt was made to preserve the individuality of the members.
Thus in a debate on the number of seamen (_Gent. Mag_. v. 507), the
speeches of the 'eight chief speakers' were so combined as to form but
three. First come 'the arguments made use of for 30,000 men;' next, 'an
answer to the following effect;' and lastly, 'a reply that was in
substance as follows.' Each of these three speeches is in the first
person, though each is formed of the arguments of two members at least,
perhaps of many. In the report of a two days' debate in 1737, in which
there were fourteen chief speakers, the substance of thirteen of the
speeches was given in three (_ib_. vii. 746, 775). In July 1736 (_ib_.
vi. 363) we find the beginning of a great change. 'To satisfy the
impatience of his readers,' the publisher promises 'to give them
occasionally some entire speeches.' He prints one which likely enough
had been sent to him by the member who had spoken it, and adds that he
shall be 'grateful for any authentic intelligence in matters of such
importance and _tenderness_ as the speeches in Parliament' (_ib_. p.
365). Cave, in his examination before the House of Lords on April 30,
1747, on a charge of having printed in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ an
account of the trial of Lord Lovat, owned that 'he had had speeches sent
him by the members themselves, and had had assistance from some members
who have taken notes of other members' speeches' (_Parl. Hist_. xiv.

It was chiefly in the numbers of the _Magazine_ for the latter half of
each year that the publication took place. The parliamentary recess was
the busy time for reporters and printers. It was commonly believed that
the resolution on the Journals of the House of Commons against
publishing any of its proceedings was only in force while parliament was
sitting. But on April 13, 1738, it was unanimously resolved 'that it is
an high indignity to, and a notorious breach of the privilege of this
House to give any account of the debates, as well during the recess as
the sitting of parliament' (_Parl. Hist_. x. 812). It was admitted that
this privilege expired at the end of every parliament. When the
dissolution had come every one might publish what he pleased. With the
House of Lords it was far otherwise, for 'it is a Court of Record, and
as such its rights and privileges never die. It may punish a printer for
printing any part of its proceedings for thirty or forty years back'
(_ib_. p. 807). Mr. Winnington, when speaking to this resolution of
April 13, said that if they did not put a speedy stop to this practice
of reporting 'they will have every word that is spoken here by
_gentlemen_ misrepresented by _fellows_ who thrust themselves into our
gallery' (_ib_. p. 806). Walpole complained 'that he had been made to
speak the very reverse of what he meant. He had read debates wherein all
the wit, the learning, and the argument had been thrown into one side,
and on the other nothing but what was low, mean, and ridiculous' (_ib_.
p. 809). Later on, Johnson in his reports 'saved appearances tolerably
well; but took care that the WHIG DOGS should not have the best of it'
(Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 45).

It was but a few days after he became a contributor to the _Magazine_
that this resolution was passed. Parliament rose on May 20, and in the
June number the reports of the debates of the Senate of Lilliput began.
To his fertile mind was very likely due this humorous expedient by which
the resolution of the House was mocked. That he wrote the introduction
in which is narrated the voyage of Captain Gulliver's grandson to
Lilliputia can scarcely be doubted. It bears all the marks of his early
style. The Lords become Hurgoes, and the Commons Clinabs, Walpole
becomes Walelop, Pulteney Pulnub, and Pitt Ptit; otherwise the report is
much as it had been. At the end of the volume for 1739 was given a key
to all the names. The _London Magazine_ had boldly taken the lead. In
the May number, which was published at the close of the month, and
therefore after parliament had risen, began the report of the
proceedings and debates of a political and learned club of young
noblemen and gentlemen, who hoped one day to enter parliament, and who
therefore, the better to qualify themselves for their high position,
only debated questions that were there discussed. To the speakers were
given the names of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Thus we find the Hon.
Marcus Cato and the Right Hon. M. Tullius Cicero. By the key that was
published in 1742 Cicero was seen to be Walpole, and Cato, Pulteney.
What risks the publishers and writers ran was very soon shown. In
December 1740 the ministers proposed to lay an embargo on various
articles of food. As the members entered the House a printed paper was
handed to each, entitled _Considerations upon the Embargo_. Adam Smith
had just gone up as a young student to the University of Oxford. There
are 'considerations' suggested in this paper which the great authority
of the author of the _Wealth of Nations_ has not yet made pass current
as truths. The paper contained, moreover, charges of jobbery against
'great men,' though no one was named. It was at once voted a malicious
and scandalous libel, and the author, William Cooley, a scrivener, was
committed to Newgate. With him was sent the printer of the _Daily Post_,
in which part of the _Considerations_ had been published. After seven
weeks' imprisonment in the depth of winter in that miserable den,
'without sufficient sustenance to support life,' Cooley was discharged
on paying his fees. He was in knowledge more than a hundred years before
his time, and had been made to suffer accordingly. The printer would
have been discharged also, but the fees were more than he could pay. Two
months later he petitioned for mercy. The fees by that time were L121.
His petition was not received, and he was kept in prison till the close
of the session (_Parl. Hist_. xi. 867-894).

Such were the risks run by Cave and Johnson and their fellow-workers.
That no prosecution followed was due perhaps to that dread of ridicule
which has often tempered the severity of the law. 'The Hurgolen Branard,
who in the former session was Pretor of Mildendo,' might well have been
unwilling to prove that he was Sir John Barnard, late Lord Mayor of

Johnson, it should seem, revised some of the earliest _Debates_. In a
letter to Cave which cannot have been written later than September 1738,
he mentions the alterations that he had made (_ante_, p. 136). The more
they were written by him, the less authentic did they become, for he was
not one of those 'fellows who thrust themselves into the gallery of the
House.' His employer, Cave, if we can trust his own evidence, had been
in the habit of going there and taking notes with a pencil (_Parl.
Hist_. xiv. 60). But Johnson, Hawkins says (_Life_, p. 122), 'never was
within the walls of either House.' According to Murphy (_Life_, p. 44),
he had been inside the House of Commons once. Be this as it may, in the
end the _Debates_ were composed by him alone (_ante_, p. 118). From that
time they must no longer be looked upon as authentic records, in spite
of the assertions of the Editor of the _Parl. Hist_. (xi. Preface).
Johnson told Boswell (_ante_, p. 118) 'that sometimes he had nothing
more communicated to him than the names of the several speakers, and the
part which they had taken in the debate;' sometimes 'he had scanty notes
furnished by persons employed to attend in both Houses of Parliament.'
Often, his Debates were written 'from no materials at all--the mere
coinage of his own imagination' (_post_, under Dec. 9, 1784).

'He never wrote any part of his works with equal velocity. Three columns
of the _Magazine_ in an hour was no uncommon effort, which was faster
than most persons could have transcribed that quantity' (_ib_.).
According to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 99), 'His practice was to shut himself
up in a room assigned to him at St. John's Gate, to which he would not
suffer any one to approach, except the compositor or Cave's boy for
matter, which, as fast as he composed it, he tumbled out at the door.'

From Murphy we get the following curious story:--

'That Johnson was the author of the debates during that period [Nov,
1740 to Feb. 1743] was not generally known; but the secret transpired
several years afterwards, and was avowed by himself on the following
occasion:--Mr. Wedderburne (now Lord Loughborough), Dr. Johnson, Dr.
Francis (the translator of _Horace_), the present writer, and others
dined with the late Mr. Foote. An important debate towards the end of
Sir Robert Walpole's administration being mentioned, Dr. Francis
observed, "that Mr. Pitt's speech on that occasion was the best he had
ever read." He added, "that he had employed eight years of his life in
the study of Demosthenes, and finished a translation of that celebrated
orator, with all the decorations of style and language within the reach
of his capacity; but he had met with nothing equal to the speech above
mentioned." Many of the company remembered the debate; and some passages
were cited with the approbation and applause of all present. During the
ardour of conversation, Johnson remained silent. As soon as the warmth
of praise subsided, he opened with these words:--"That speech I wrote in
a garret in Exeter Street." The company was struck with astonishment.
After staring at each other in silent amaze, Dr. Francis asked how that
speech could be written by him? "Sir," said Johnson, "I wrote it in
Exeter Street. I never had been in the gallery of the House of Commons
but once. Cave had interest with the door-keepers. He, and the persons
employed under him, gained admittance: they brought away the subject of
discussion, the names of the speakers, the side they took, and the order
in which they rose, together with notes of the arguments advanced in the
course of the debate. The whole was afterwards communicated to me, and I
composed the speeches in the form which they now have in the
Parliamentary Debates." To this discovery Dr. Francis made
answer:--"Then, sir, you have exceeded Demosthenes himself, for to say
that you have exceeded Francis's _Demosthenes_, would be saying
nothing." The rest of the company bestowed lavish encomiums on Johnson:
one, in particular, praised his impartiality; observing, that he dealt
out reason and eloquence with an equal hand to both parties. "That is
not quite true," said Johnson; "I saved appearances tolerably well, but
I took care that the WHIG DOGS should not have the best of it."'
Murphy's _Life of Johnson_, p. 343.

Murphy, we must not forget, wrote from memory, for there is no reason to
think that he kept notes. That his memory cannot altogether be trusted
has been shown by Boswell (_ante_, p. 391, note 4). This dinner with
Foote must have taken place at least nineteen years before this account
was published, for so many years had Dr. Francis been dead. At the time
when Johnson was living in Exeter-street he was not engaged on the
magazine. Nevertheless the main facts may be true enough. Johnson
himself told Boswell (_post_, May 13, 1778) that in Lord Chesterfield's
_Miscellaneous Works_ (ii. 319) there were two speeches ascribed to
Chesterfield which he had himself entirely written. Horace Walpole
(_Letters_, i. 147) complained that the published report of his own
first speech 'did not contain one sentence of the true one.' Johnson, in
his preface to the _Literary Magazine_ of 1756, seems to confess what he
had done, unless, indeed, he was altogether making himself the mere
mouth-piece of the publisher. He says:--'We shall not attempt to give
any regular series of debates, or to amuse our readers with senatorial
rhetorick. The speeches inserted in other papers have been long known to
be fictitious, and produced sometimes by men who never heard the debate,
nor had any authentick information. We have no design to impose thus
grossly on our readers.' (_Works_, v. 363.)

The secret that Johnson wrote these _Debates_ was indeed well kept. He
seems to be aimed at in a question that was put to Cave in his
examination before the House of Lords in 1747. 'Being asked "if he ever
had any person whom he kept in pay to make speeches for him," he said,
"he never had."' (_Parl. Hist_. xiv. 60.) Herein he lied in order, no
doubt, to screen Johnson. Forty-four years later Horace Walpole wrote
(_Letters_, ix. 319), 'I never knew Johnson wrote the speeches in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_ till he died.' Johnson told Boswell 'that as soon
as he found that they were thought genuine he determined that he would
write no more of them, "for he would not be accessory to the propagation
of falsehood."' (_Ante_, p. 152.) One of his _Debates_ was translated
into French, German, and Spanish (_Gent. Mag_. xiii. 59), and, no doubt,
was accepted abroad as authentic. When he learnt this his conscience
might well have received a shock. That it did receive a shock seems
almost capable of proof. It was in the number of the _Magazine_ for
February, 1743--at the beginning of March, that is to say--that the fact
of these foreign translations was made known. The last Debate that
Johnson wrote was for the 22nd day of February in that year. In 1740,
1741, and 1742, he had worked steadily at his _Debates_. The beginning
of 1743 found him no less busy. His task suddenly came to an end. Among
foreign nations his speeches were read as the very words of English
statesmen. To the propagation of such a falsehood as this he would no
longer be accessory. Fifteen years later Smollett quoted them as if they
were genuine (_History of England_, iii. 73). Here, however, Johnson's
conscience was void of offence; for 'he had cautioned him not to rely on
them, for that they were not authentic.' (Hawkins, _Life_, p. 129.)

That they should generally have passed current shews how unacquainted
people at that time were with real debating. Even if we had not
Johnson's own statement, both from external and internal evidence we
could have known that they were for the most part 'the mere coinage of
his imagination.' They do not read like speeches that had ever been
spoken. 'None of them,' Mr. Flood said, 'were at all like real debates'
(_post_, under March 30, 1771). They are commonly formed of general
statements which suit any one speaker just as well as any other. The
scantier were the notes that were given him by those who had heard the
debate, the more he had to draw on his imagination. But his was an
imagination which supplied him with what was general much more readily
than with what was particular. Had De Foe been the composer he would
have scattered over each speech the most ingenious and probable matters
of detail, but De Foe and Johnson were wide as the poles asunder.
Neither had Johnson any dramatic power. His parliamentary speakers have
scarcely more variety than the characters in _Irene_. Unless he had been
a constant frequenter of the galleries of the two Houses, he could not
have acquired any knowledge of the style and the peculiarities of the
different members. Nay, even of their modes of thinking and their
sentiments he could have gained but the most general notions. Of
debating he knew nothing. It was the set speeches in _Livy_ and the old
historians that he took as his models. In his orations there is very
little of 'the tart reply;' there is, indeed, scarcely any examination
of an adversary's arguments. So general are the speeches that the order
in which they are given might very often without inconvenience be
changed. They are like a series of leading articles on both sides of the
question, but all written by one man. Johnson is constantly shifting his
character, and, like Falstaff and the Prince, playing first his own part
and then his opponent's. It is wonderful how well he preserves his
impartiality, though he does 'take care that the Whig dogs should not
have the best of it.'

He not only took the greatest liberties in his reports, but he often
took them openly. Thus an army bill was debated in committee on Dec. 10,
1740, and again the following day on the report in the full House. 'As
in these two debates,' he writes, 'the arguments were the same, Mr.
Gulliver has thrown them into one to prevent unnecessary repetitions.'
(_Gent. Mag_. Dec. 1742, p. 676.) In each House during the winter of
1742-3 there was a debate on taking the Hanoverian troops into pay. The
debate in the Lords was spread over five numbers of the _Magazine_ in
the following summer and autumn. It was not till the spring of 1744 that
the turn of the Commons came, and then they were treated somewhat
scurvily. 'This debate,' says the reporter, who was Johnson, 'we thought
it necessary to contract by the omission of those arguments which were
fully discussed in the House of Hurgoes, and of those speakers who
produced them, lest we should disgust our readers by tedious
repetitions.' (_Ib_. xiv. 125.) Many of these debates have been reported
somewhat briefly by Bishop (afterwards Archbishop) Seeker. To follow his
account requires an accurate knowledge of the times, whereas Johnson's
rhetorick for the most part is easily understood even by one very
ignorant of the history of the first two Georges. Much of it might have
been spoken on almost any occasion, for or against almost any minister.
It is true that we here and there find such a correspondence between the
two reports as shews that Johnson, as he has himself told us, was at
times furnished with some information. But, on the other hand, we can no
less clearly see that he was often drawing solely on his imagination.
Frequently there is but the slightest agreement between the reports
given by the two men of the same speeches. Of this a good instance is
afforded by Lord Carteret's speech of Feb. 13, 1741. According to
Johnson 'the Hurgo Quadrert began in this manner':--

'As the motion which I am about to make is of the highest importance and
of the most extensive consequences; as it cannot but meet with all the
opposition which the prejudices of some and the interest of others can
raise against it; as it must have the whole force of ministerial
influence to encounter without any assistance but from justice and
reason, I hope to be excused by your Lordships for spending some time in
endeavouring to shew that it wants no other support; that it is not
founded upon doubtful suspicions but upon uncontestable facts,' and so
on for eight more lines. (_Gent. Mag_. xi. 339).

The Bishop's note begins as follows:--

'CARTERET. I am glad to see the House so full. The honour of the nation
is at stake. And the oldest man hath not known such circumstances as we
are in. When storms rise you must see what pilots you have, and take
methods to make the nation easy. I shall (1) go through the foreign
transactions of several years; (2) The domestic; (3) Prove that what I
am about to propose is a parliamentary method.' (_Parl. Hist_. xi.

Still more striking is the difference in the two reports of a speech by
Lord Talbot on May 25, 1742. According to the _Gent. Mag_. xii. 519,
'the Hurgo Toblat spoke to this effect':--

'So high is my veneration for this great assembly that it is never
without the utmost efforts of resolution that I can prevail upon myself
to give my sentiments upon any question that is the subject of debate,
however strong may be my conviction, or however ardent my zeal.'

The Bishop makes him say:--

'I rise up only to give time to others to consider how they will carry
on the debate.' (_Parl. Hist_. xii. 646.)

On Feb. 13, 1741, the same Lord, being called to order for saying that
there were Lords who were influenced by a place, exclaimed, according to
the Bishop, '"By the eternal G--d, I will defend my cause everywhere."
But Lords calling to order, he recollected himself and made an excuse.'
(_Parl. Hist_. xi. 1063). In the _Gent. Mag_. xi. 4l9, 'the Hurgo Toblat
resumed:--"My Lords, whether anything has escaped from me that deserves
such severe animadversions your Lordships must decide."'

Once at least in Johnson's reports a speech is given to the wrong
member. In the debate on the Gin Bill on Feb. 22, 1743 (_Gent. Mag_.
xiii. 696), though the Bishop's notes show that he did not speak, yet a
long speech is put into his mouth. It was the Earl of Sandwich who had
spoken at this turn of the debate. The editor of the _Parl. Hist_. (xii.
1398), without even notifying the change, coolly transfers the speech
from the 'decent' Seeker[1466], who was afterwards Primate, to the
grossly licentious Earl. A transference such as this is, however, but of
little moment. For the most part the speeches would be scarcely less
lifelike, if all on one side were assigned to some nameless Whig, and all
on the other side to some nameless Tory. It is nevertheless true that
here and there are to be found passages which no doubt really fell from
the speaker in whose mouth they are put. They mention some fact or
contain some allusion which could not otherwise have been known by
Johnson. Even if we had not Cave's word for it, we might have inferred
that now and then a member was himself his own reporter. Thus in the
_Gent. Mag_. for February 1744 (p. 68) we find a speech by Sir John St.
Aubyn that had appeared eight months earlier in the very same words in
the _London Magazine_. That Johnson copied a rival publication is most
unlikely--impossible, I might say. St. Aubyn, I conjecture, sent a copy
of his speech to both editors. In the _Gent. Mag_. for April 1743 (p.
184), a speech by Lord Percival on Dec. 10, 1742, is reported apparently
at full length. The debate itself was not published till the spring of
1744, when the reader is referred for this speech to the back number in
which it had already been inserted. (_Ib_. xiv. 123).

The _London Magazine_ generally gave the earlier report; it was,
however, twitted by its rival with its inaccuracy. In one debate, it was
said, 'it had introduced instead of twenty speakers but six, and those
in a very confused manner. It had attributed to Caecilius words
remembered by the whole audience to be spoken by M. Agrippa.' (_Gent.
Mag_. xii. 512). The report of the debate of Feb. 13, 1741, in the
_London Magazine_ fills more than twenty-two columns of the _Parl.
Hist_. (xi. 1130) with a speech by Lord Bathurst. That he did speak is
shewn by Secker (_ib_. p. 1062). No mention of him is made, however, in
the report in the _Gent. Mag_. (xi. 339). But, on the other hand, it
reports eleven speakers, while the _London Magazine_ gives but five.
Secker shows that there were nineteen. Though the _London Magazine_ was
generally earlier in publishing the debates, it does not therefore
follow that Johnson had seen their reports when he wrote his. His may
have been kept back by Cave's timidity for some months even after they
had been set up in type. In the staleness of the debate there was some
safeguard against a parliamentary prosecution.

Mr. Croker maintains (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 44) that Johnson wrote the
_Debates_ from the time (June 1738) that they assumed the _Lilliputian_
title till 1744. In this he is certainly wrong. Even if we had not
Johnson's own statement, from the style of the earlier _Debates_ we
could have seen that they were not written by him. No doubt we come
across numerous traces of his work; but this we should have expected.
Boswell tells us that Guthrie's reports were sent to Johnson for
revision (_ante_, p. 118). Nay, even a whole speech now and then may be
from his hand. It is very likely that he wrote, for instance, the
_Debate_ on buttons and button-holes (_Gent. Mag_. viii. 627), and the
_Debate_ on the registration of seamen (_ib_. xi.). But it is absurd to
attribute to him passages such as the following, which in certain
numbers are plentiful enough long after June 1738. 'There never was any
measure pursued more consistent with, and more consequential of, the
sense of this House' (_ib_. ix. 340). 'It gave us a handle of making
such reprisals upon the Iberians as this Crown found the sweets of'
(_ib_. x. 281). 'That was the only expression that the least shadow of
fault was found with' (ib. xi. 292).

'Johnson told me himself,' says Boswell (_ante_, p. 150), 'that he was
the sole composer of the _Debates_ for those three years only
(1741-2-3). He was not, however, precisely exact in his statement, which
he mentioned from hasty recollection; for it is sufficiently evident
that his composition of them began November 19, 1740, and ended February
23 [22], 1742-3.' Some difficulty is caused in following Boswell's
statement by the length of time that often elapsed between the debate
itself and its publication. The speeches that were spoken between Nov.
19, or, more strictly speaking, Nov. 25, 1740, and Feb. 22, 1743, were
in their publication spread through the _Magazine_ from July 1741 to
March, 1744. On Feb. 13, 1741, Lord Carteret in the House of 'Lords, and
Mr. Sandys, 'the Motion-maker[1467],' in the House of Commons, moved an
address to the King for the removal of Sir Robert Walpole. Johnson's
report of the debate in the Lords was published in the _Magazine_ for
the next July and August. The year went round. Walpole's ministry was
overthrown, and Walpole himself was banished to the House of Lords. A
second year went by. At length, in three of the spring numbers of 1743,
the debate on Sandys's motion was reported. It had been published in the
_London Magazine_ eleven months earlier.

Cave, if he was tardy, nevertheless was careful that his columns should
not want variety. Thus in the number for July 1743, we have the middle
part of the debate in the Lords on Feb. 1, 1743, the end of the debate
in the Commons on March 9, 1742, and the beginning of another in the
Commons on the following March 23. From the number for July 1741 to the
number for March 1744 Johnson, as I have already said, was the sole
composer of the _Debates_. The irregularity with which they were given
at first sight seems strange; but in it a certain method can be
discovered. The proceedings of a House of Commons that had come to an
end might, as I have shown, be freely published. There had been a
dissolution after the session which closed in April 1741. The
publication of the _Debates_ of the old parliament could at once begin,
and could go on freely from month to month all the year round. But they
would not last for ever. In 1742, in the autumn recess, the time when
experience had shewn that the resolution of the House could be broken
with the least danger, the _Debates_ of the new parliament were
published. They were continued even in the short session before
Christmas. But the spring of 1743 saw a cautious return to the reports
of the old parliament. The session closed on April 21, and in the May
number the comparatively fresh _Debates_ began again. In one case the
report was not six months after date. In the beginning of 1744 this
publication went on even in the session, but it was confined to the
proceedings of the previous winter.

The following table shews the order in which Johnson's Debates were

_Gentleman's _Debate or part
Magazine_. of debate of_

July, 1741 {Parliament was dissolved } Feb. 13, 1741
{ on April 25, 1741. }
Aug. " Feb. 13, "

Sept. " {Jan. 27, "
{Mar. 2, "
Oct. " Mar. 2, "

Nov. " Mar. 2, "

Dec. " { The new Parliament met} Dec. 9, 1740
{ on Dec. 1. }

_Gentleman's Debate or part
Magazine. of debate of_

Supplement to 1741 Dec. 2, "
Dec. 12,"
Jan. 1742 Feb. 3, 1741
Feb. 27, "
Feb. " Jan. 26, "
April 13, "
Mar. " Feb. 24, "
April 13, "
April " Jan. 27, "
Feb. 24, "
May " Nov. 25, 1740
June " Nov. 25, "
April 8, 1741
July " The session ended on July April 8, "
15. Dec. 1, "
Dec. 4, "
Aug. " Dec. 4, "
Sept. " Dec. 4, "
Dec. 8, "
Oct. " Dec. 8, "
May 25, 1742
Nov. " The Session opened on May 25, "
Nov. 16.
Dec. " May 25, "
June 1, "
Supplement to 1742 Dec. 10, 1740
June 1, 1742
Jan. 1743 Dec. 10, 1740
Feb. " Feb. 13, 1741
Mar. " Feb. 13, "
April " The Session ended on April 21 Feb. 13, "
May " Mar. 9, 1742
Nov. 16, "
June " Mar. 9, "
Feb. 1, 1743
July " Mar. 9, 1742
Mar. 23, "
Feb. 1, 1743
Aug. " Feb. 1, "
Sept. " Feb. 1, "
Oct. " Feb. 1, "
Nov. " Feb. 22, "
Dec. " The Session opened on Dec. 1 Feb. 22, "
Supplement to 1743 Feb. 22, "
Jan. 1744 Feb. 22, "
Feb. " Dec. 10, 1742
Feb. 22, 1743
Mar. " Dec. 10, 1742

During the rest of 1744 the debates were given in the old form, and in a
style that is a close imitation of Johnson's. Most likely they were
composed by Hawkesworth (_ante_, p. 252). In 1745 they were fewer in
number, and in 1746 the reports of the Senate of Lilliputia with its
Hurgoes and Clinabs passed away for ever. They had begun, to quote the
words of the Preface to the _Magazine_ for 1747, at a time when 'a
determined spirit of opposition in the national assemblies communicated
itself to almost every individual, multiplied and invigorated periodical
papers, and rendered politics the chief, if not the only object, of
curiosity.' They are a monument to the greatness of Walpole, and to the
genius of Johnson. Had that statesman not been overthrown, the people
would have called for these reports even though Johnson had refused to
write them. Had Johnson still remained the reporter, even though Walpole
no longer swayed the Senate of the Lilliputians, the speeches of that
tumultuous body would still have been read. For though they are not
debates, yet they have a vast vigour and a great fund of wisdom of their

* * * * *



Malone published seven of the following letters in the fourth edition,
and Mr. Croker the rest.



'The account which Miss [Porter] gives me of your health pierces my
heart. God comfort and preserve you and save you, for the sake of Jesus

'I would have Miss read to you from time to time the Passion of our
Saviour, and sometimes the sentences in the Communion Service, beginning
"_Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest_."

'I have just now read a physical book, which inclines me to think that a
strong infusion of the bark would do you good. Do, dear mother, try it.

'Pray, send me your blessing, and forgive all that I have done amiss to
you. And whatever you would have done, and what debts you would have
paid first, or any thing else that you would direct, let Miss put it
down; I shall endeavour to obey you.

'I have got twelve guineas[1468] to send you, but unhappily am at a loss
how to send it to-night. If I cannot send it to-night, it will come by
the next post.

'Pray, do not omit any thing mentioned in this letter: God bless you for
ever and ever.

'I am your dutiful son,


'Jan. 13, 1758[1469].'


'MY DEAR Miss,

'I think myself obliged to you beyond all expression of gratitude for
your care of my dear mother. God grant it may not be without success.
Tell Kitty[1470] that I shall never forget her tenderness for her
mistress. Whatever you can do, continue to do. My heart is very full.

'I hope you received twelve guineas on Monday. I found a way of sending
them by means of the postmaster, after I had written my letter, and hope
they came safe. I will send you more in a few days. God bless you all.

'I am, my dear,

'Your most obliged

'And most humble servant,


'Jan. 16, 1759.
'Over the leaf is a letter to my mother.'


'Your weakness afflicts me beyond what I am willing to communicate to
you. I do not think you unfit to face death, but I know not how to bear
the thought of losing you. Endeavour to do all you [can] for yourself.
Eat as much as you can.

'I pray often for you; do you pray for me. I have nothing to add to my
last letter.

'I am, dear, dear mother

'Your dutiful son,


'Jan. 16, 1759.'



'I fear you are too ill for long letters; therefore I will only tell
you, you have from me all the regard that can possibly subsist in the
heart. I pray God to bless you for evermore, for Jesus Christ's sake.

'Let Miss write to me every post, however short.

'I am, dear mother,

'Your dutiful son,


'Jan. 18, 1759.'


'DEAR Miss,

'I will, if it be possible, come down to you. God grant I may yet [find]
my dear mother breathing and sensible. Do not tell her, lest I
disappoint her. If I miss to write next post, I am on the road.

'I am, my dearest Miss,
'Your most humble servant,
'Jan. 20, 1759.'

_On the other side_.


'Neither your condition nor your character make it fit for me to say
much. You have been the best mother, and I believe the best woman in the
world. I thank you for your indulgence to me, and beg forgiveness of all
that I have done ill, and all that I have omitted to do well. God grant
you his Holy Spirit, and receive you to everlasting happiness, for Jesus
Christ's sake. Amen. Lord Jesus receive your spirit. Amen.

'I am, dear, dear mother,
'Your dutiful son,
'Jan. 20, 1759.'


'You will conceive my sorrow for the loss of my mother, of the best
mother. If she were to live again surely I should behave better to her.
But she is happy, and what is past is nothing to her; and for me, since
I cannot repair my faults to her, I hope repentance will efface them. I
return you and all those that have been good to her my sincerest thanks,
and pray God to repay you all with infinite advantage. Write to me, and
comfort me, dear child. I shall be glad likewise, if Kitty will write to
me. I shall send a bill of twenty pounds in a few days, which I thought
to have brought to my mother; but God suffered it not. I have not power
or composure to say much more. God bless you, and bless us all.

'I am, dear Miss,
'Your affectionate humble servant,
'Jan. 23, 1759[1472].'

'To Miss PORTER.

(_The beginning is torn and lost_.)

* * * * *

'You will forgive me if I am not yet so composed as to give any
directions about any thing. But you are wiser and better than I, and I
shall be pleased with all that you shall do. It is not of any use for me
now to come down; nor can I bear the place. If you want any directions,
Mr. Howard[1473] will advise you. The twenty pounds I could not get a
bill for to-night, but will send it on Saturday.

'I am, my dear, your affectionate servant,


'Jan. 25, 1759.'

* * * * *

'To Miss PORTER.

'DEAR Miss,

'I have no reason to forbear writing, but that it makes my heart heavy,
and I had nothing particular to say which might not be delayed to the
next post; but had no thoughts of ceasing to correspond with my dear
Lucy, the only person now left in the world with whom I think myself
connected. There needed not my dear mother's desire, for every heart
must lean to somebody, and I have nobody but you; in whom I put all my
little affairs with too much confidence to desire you to keep receipts,
as you prudently proposed.

'If you and Kitty will keep the house, I think I shall like it best.
Kitty may carry on the trade for herself, keeping her own stock apart,
and laying aside any money that she receives for any of the goods which
her good mistress has left behind her. I do not see, if this scheme be
followed, any need of appraising the books. My mother's debts, dear
mother, I suppose I may pay with little difficulty; and the little trade
may go silently forward. I fancy Kitty can do nothing better; and I
shall not want to put her out of a house, where she has lived so long,
and with so much virtue. I am very sorry that she is ill, and earnestly
hope that she will soon recover; let her know that I have the highest
value for her, and would do any thing for her advantage. Let her think
of this proposal. I do not see any likelier method by which she may pass
the remaining part of her life in quietness and competence.

'You must have what part of the house you please, while you are inclined
to stay in it; but I flatter myself with the hope that you and I shall
some time pass our days together. I am very solitary and comfortless,
but will not invite you to come hither till I can have hope of making
you live here so as not to dislike your situation. Pray, my dearest,
write to me as often as you can.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Your affectionate humble servant,


'Feb. 6, 1759'

'To Miss PORTER.


'I thought your last letter long in coming; and did not require or
expect such an inventory of little things as you have sent me. I could
have taken your word for a matter of much greater value. I am glad that
Kitty is better; let her be paid first, as my dear, dear mother ordered,
and then let me know at once the sum necessary to discharge her other
debts, and I will find it you very soon.

'I beg, my dear, that you would act for me without the least scruple,
for I can repose myself very confidently upon your prudence, and hope we
shall never have reason to love each other less. I shall take it very
kindly if you make it a rule to write to me once at least every week,
for I am now very desolate, and am loth to be universally forgotten.

'I am, dear sweet,
'Your affectionate servant,
'March 1, 1759.'



'I beg your pardon for having so long omitted to write. One thing or
other has put me off. I have this day moved my things and you are now to
direct to me at Staple Inn, London. I hope, my dear, you are well, and
Kitty mends. I wish her success in her trade. I am going to publish a
little story book [_Rasselas_], which I will send you when it is out.
Write to me, my dearest girl, for I am always glad to hear from you.

'I am, my dear, your humble servant,
'March 23, 1759.'



'I am almost ashamed to tell you that all your letters came safe, and
that I have been always very well, but hindered, I hardly know how, from
writing. I sent, last week, some of my works, one for you, one for your
aunt Hunter, who was with my poor dear mother when she died, one for Mr.
Howard, and one for Kitty.

'I beg you, my dear, to write often to me, and tell me how you like my
little book.

'I am, dear love, your affectionate humble servant,
'May 10, 1759.'


(Page 487.)

The following is the full extract of Dr. Sharp's letter giving an
account of Johnson's visit to Cambridge in 1765:--

'Camb. Mar. 1, 1765.

'As to Johnson, you will be surprised to hear that I have had him in the
chair in which I am now writing. He has ascended my aerial citadel. He
came down on a Saturday evening, with a Mr. Beauclerk, who has a friend
at Trinity. Caliban, you may be sure, was not roused from his lair
before next day noon, and his breakfast probably kept him till night. I
saw nothing of him, nor was he heard of by any one, till Monday
afternoon, when I was sent for home to two gentlemen unknown. In
conversation I made a strange _faux pas_ about Burnaby Greene's poem, in
which Johnson is drawn at full length[1474]. He drank his large potations
of tea with me, interrupted by many an indignant contradiction, and many
a noble sentiment. He had on a better wig than usual, but, one whose
curls were not, like Sir Cloudesly's[1475], formed for 'eternal buckle.'
[1476] Our conversation was chiefly on books, you may be sure. He was
much pleased with a small _Milton_ of mine, published in the author's
lifetime, and with the Greek epigram on his own effigy, of its being the
picture, not of him, but of a bad painter[1477]. There are many manuscript
stanzas, for aught I know, in Milton's own handwriting, and several
interlined hints and fragments. We were puzzled about one of the
sonnets, which we thought was not to be found in Newton's edition[1478],
and differed from all the printed ones. But Johnson cried, "No, no!"
repeated the whole sonnet instantly, _memoriter_, and shewed it us in
Newton's book. After which he learnedly harangued on sonnet-writing, and
its different numbers. He tells me he will come hither again quickly,
and is promised "an habitation in Emanuel College[1479]." He went back to
town next morning; but as it began to be known that he was in the
university, several persons got into his company the last evening at
Trinity, where, about twelve, he began to be very great; stripped poor
Mrs. Macaulay to the very skin, then gave her for his toast, and drank
her in two bumpers.' (_Gent. Mag_. for 1785, p. 173.)

* * * * *



(Page 489.)



'Among the names subscribed to the degree which I have had the honour of
receiving from the university of Dublin, I find none of which I have any
personal knowledge but those of Dr. Andrews and yourself.

'Men can be estimated by those who know them not, only as they are
represented by those who know them; and therefore I flatter myself that
I owe much of the pleasure which this distinction gives me to your
concurrence with Dr. Andrews in recommending me to the learned society.

'Having desired the Provost to return my general thanks to the
University, I beg that you, sir, will accept my particular and immediate

'I am, Sir,

'Your most obedient and most humble servant,


'Johnson's-court, Fleet-street,

London, Oct. 17, 1765.'

* * * * *



(Page 490.)

In a little volume entitled _Parliamentary Logick_, by the Right Hon.
W.G. Hamilton, published in 1808, twelve years after the author's death,
is included _Considerations on Corn_, by Dr. Johnson (_Works_, v. 321).
It was written, says Hamilton's editor, in November 1766. A dearth had
caused riots. 'Those who want the supports of life,' Johnson wrote,
'will seize them wherever they can be found.' (_Ib_. p. 322.) He
supported in this tract the bounty for exporting corn. If more than a
year after he had engaged in politics with Mr. Hamilton nothing had been
produced but this short tract, the engagement was not of much
importance. But there was, I suspect, much more in it. Indeed, the
editor says (_Preface_, p. ix.) that 'Johnson had entered into some
engagement with Mr. Hamilton, occasionally to furnish him with his
sentiments on the great political topicks that should be considered in
Parliament.' Mr. Croker draws attention to a passage in Johnson's letter
to Miss Porter of Jan. 14, 1766 (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 173) in which he
says: 'I cannot well come [to Lichfield] during the session of
parliament.' In the spring of this same year Burke had broken with
Hamilton, in whose service he had been. 'The occasion of our
difference,' he wrote, 'was not any act whatsoever on my part; it was
entirely upon his, by a voluntary but most insolent and intolerable
demand, amounting to no less than a claim of servitude during the whole
course of my life, without leaving to me at any time a power either of
getting forward with honour, or of retiring with tranquillity' (Burke's
_Corres_. i. 77). It seems to me highly probable that Hamilton, in
consequence of his having just lost, as I have shewn, Burke's services,
sought Johnson's aid. He had taken Burke 'as a companion in his
studies.' (_Ib_. p. 48.) 'Six of the best years of my life,' wrote
Burke, 'he took me from every pursuit of literary reputation or of
improvement of my fortune. In that time he made his own fortune (a very
great one).' (_Ib_. p. 67.) Burke had been recommended to Hamilton by
Dr. Warton. On losing him Hamilton, on Feb. 12, 1765, wrote to Warton,
giving a false account of his separation with Burke, and asking him to
recommend some one to fill his place--some one 'who, in addition to a
taste and an understanding of ancient authors, and what generally passes
under the name of scholarship, has likewise a share of modern knowledge,
and has applied himself in some degree to the study of the law.' By way
of payment he offers at once 'an income, which would neither be
insufficient for him as a man of letters, or disreputable to him as a
gentleman,' and hereafter 'a situation'--a post, that is to say, under
government. (Wooll's _Warton_, i. 299.) Warton recommended Chambers.
Chambers does not seem to have accepted the post, for we find him
staying on at Oxford (_post_, ii. 25, 46). Johnson had all the knowledge
that Hamilton required, except that of law. It is this very study that
we find him at this very time entering upon. All this shows that for
some time and to some extent an engagement was formed between him and
Hamilton. Boswell, writing to Malone on Feb. 25, 1791, while _The Life
of Johnson_ was going through the press, says:--

'I shall have more cancels. That _nervous_ mortal W. G. H. is not
satisfied with my report of some particulars _which I wrote down from
his own mouth_, and is so much agitated that Courtenay has persuaded me
to allow a _new edition_ of them by H. himself to be made at H.'s

(Croker's _Boswell_, p. 829). This would seem to show that there was
something that Hamilton wished to conceal. Horace Walpole (_Memoirs of
the Reign of George III_, iii. 402) does not give him a character for
truthfulness. He writes on one occasion:--'Hamilton denied it, but his
truth was not renowned.' Miss Burney, who met Hamilton fourteen years
after this, thus describes him:--'This Mr. Hamilton is extremely tall
and handsome; has an air of haughty and fashionable superiority; is
intelligent, dry, sarcastic, and clever. I should have received much
pleasure from his conversational powers, had I not previously been
prejudiced against him, by hearing that he is infinitely artful, double,
and crafty.' (Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 293).

* * * * *



(_Page_ 490.)

Johnson (_Pr. and Med_. p. 191) writes:--'My first knowledge of Thrale
was in 1765.' In a letter to Mrs. Thrale, he says:--'You were but
five-and-twenty when I knew you first.' (_Piozzi Letters_, i. 284). As
she was born on Jan. 16/27, 1741, this would place their introduction in
1766. In another letter, written on July 8, 1784, he talks of her
'kindness which soothed twenty years of a life radically wretched.'
(_Ib_. ii. 376). Perhaps, however, he here spoke in round numbers. Mrs.
Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 125) says they first met in 1764. Mr. Thrale, she
writes, sought an excuse for inviting him. 'The celebrity of Mr.
Woodhouse (_post_, ii. 127), a shoemaker, whose verses were at that time
the subject of common discourse, soon afforded a 'pretence.' There is a
notice of Woodhouse in the _Gent. Mag_. for June, 1764 (p. 289).
Johnson, she says, dined with them every Thursday through the winter of
1764-5, and in the autumn of 1765 followed them to Brighton. In the
_Piozzi Letters_ (i. 1) there is a letter of his, dated Aug. 13, 1765,
in which he speaks of his intention to join them there.

'From that time,' she writes, 'his visits grew more frequent till, in
the year 1766, his health, which he had always complained of, grew so
exceedingly bad, that he could not stir out of his room in the court he
inhabited for many _weeks_ together, I think _months_. Mr. Thrale's
attentions and my own now became so acceptable to him, that he often
lamented to us the horrible condition of his mind, which, he said, was
nearly distracted: and though he charged _us_ to make him odd solemn
promises of secrecy on so strange a subject, yet when we waited on him
one morning, and heard him, in the most pathetic terms, beg the prayers
of Dr. Delap [the Rector of Lewes] who had left him as we came in, I
felt excessively affected with grief, and well remember my husband
involuntarily lifted up one hand to shut his mouth, from provocation at
hearing a man so widely proclaim what he could at last persuade no one
to believe; and what, if true, would have been so unfit to reveal. Mr.
Thrale went away soon after, leaving me with him, and bidding me prevail
on him to quit his close habitation in the court, and come with us to
Streatham, where I undertook the care of his health, and had the honour
and happiness of contributing to its restoration.'

It is not possible to reconcile the contradiction in dates between
Johnson and Mrs. Piozzi, nor is it easy to fix the time of this illness.
That before February, 1766, he had had an illness so serious as to lead
him altogether to abstain from wine is beyond a doubt. Boswell, on his
return to England in that month, heard it from his own lips (_post_, ii.
8). That this illness must have attacked him after March 1, 1765, when
he visited Cambridge, is also clear; for at that time he was still
drinking wine (_ante_, Appendix C). That he was unusually depressed in
the spring of this year is shewn by his entry at Easter (_ante_, p.
487). From his visit to Dr. Percy in the summer of 1764 (_ante_, p. 486)
to the autumn of 1765, we have very little information about him. For
more than two years he did not write to Boswell (_post_, ii. 1). Dr.
Adams (_ante_, p. 483) describes the same kind of attack as Mrs. Piozzi.
Its date is not given. Boswell, after quoting an entry made on Johnson's
birthday, Sept. 18, 1764, says 'about this time he was afflicted' with
the illness Dr. Adams describes. From Mrs. Piozzi, from Johnson's
account to Boswell, and from Dr. Adams we learn of a serious illness.
Was there more than one? If there was only one, then Boswell is wrong in
placing it before March 1, 1765, when Johnson was still a wine-drinker,
and Mrs. Piozzi is wrong in placing it after February, 1766, when he had
become an abstainer. Johnson certainly stayed at Streatham from before
Midsummer to October in 1766 (_post_, ii. 25, and _Pr. and Med_. p. 71),
and this fact lends support to Mrs. Piozzi's statement. But, on the
other hand, his meetings with Boswell in February of that year, and his
letters to Langton of March 9 and May 10 (_post_, ii. 16, 17), shew a
not unhappy frame of mind. Boswell, in his _Hebrides_ (Oct. 16, 1773),
speaks of Johnson's illness in 1766. If it was in 1766 that he was ill,
it must have been after May 10 and before Midsummer-day, and this period
is almost too brief for Mrs. Piozzi's account. It is a curious
coincidence that Cowper was introduced to the Unwins in the same year in
which Johnson, according to his own account, had his first knowledge of
the Thrales. (Southey's _Cowper_, i, 171.)

* * * * *


[1] _Post_, iv. 172.

[2] _Post_, iii. 312.

[3] _Post_, i. 324.

[4] _History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, ed. 1807,
vol. i. p. xi.

[5] _Post_, iii. 230.

[6] _Post_, i. 7.

[7] _Post_, ii. 212.

[8] _Post_, i. 7.

[9] _Post_, iv. 444.

[10] _Post_, ii. 100.

[11] _Post_, iv. 429; v. 17.

[12] _Post_, v. 117.

[13] _Post_, i. 472, n. 4; iv. 260, n. 2; v. 405, n. 1, 454, n. 2; vi.

[14] _Post_, i. 60, n. 7.

[15] _Post_, ii. 476.

[16] _Post_, vi. xxxiv.

[17] _Post_, iii. 462.

[18] _Post_, vi. xxii.

[19] _Post_, iv. 8, n. 3.

[20] _Post_, i. 489, 518.

[21] _Post_, iv. 223, n. 3.

[22] _Post_, i. 39, n. 1.

[23] _Post_, iii. 340, n. 2.

[24] _Post_, i. 103, n. 3.

[25] _Post_, i. 501.

[26] _Post_, iii. 443.

[27] _Post_, iii. 314.

[28] _Post_, iii. 449.

[29] _Post_, iii. 478.

[30] _Post_, iii. 459.

[31] _Post_, i. 189. n. 2.

[32] i. 296, n. 3.

[33] _Post_, vi. 289.

[34] _Post_, ii. 350.

[35] _Post_, iii. 137, n. 1; 389.

[36] _Post_, i. 14

[37] _Post_, i. 7-8

[38] _Post_, i. 14-15.

[39] _Post_, iv. 31, n. 3

[40] ii. 173-4.

[41] vol. ii. p. 47.

[42] Johnson's _Works_, ed. 1825, vol. v. p. 152.

[43] Johnson's _Works_, ed. 1825, vol. v. p. 152.

[44] See _Post_, ii. 35, 424-6, 441.

[45] See _Post_, iv. 422.

[46] _Correspondence of Edmund Burke_, ii. 425.

[47] To this interesting and accurate publication I am indebted for many
valuable notes.

[48] _Post_, iii. 51, n. 3.

[49] Johnson's _Works_, ed. 1825, vol. iv. p. 446.

[50] _Post_, i. 331, _n_. 7.

[51] Johnson said of him:--'Sir Joshua Reynolds is the same all the year
round;' _post_, March 28, 1776. Boswell elsewhere describes him as 'he
who used to be looked upon as perhaps the most happy man in the world.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 344.

[52] 'O noctes coenaeque Deum!' 'O joyous nights! delicious feasts! At
which the gods might be my guests. _Francis_. Horace, _Sat_, ii. 6. 65.

[53] Six years before this Dedication Sir Joshua had conferred on him
another favour. 'I have a proposal to make to you,' Boswell had written
to him, 'I am for certain to be called to the English bar next February.
Will you now do my picture? and the price shall be paid out of the first
fees which I receive as a barrister in Westminster Hall. Or if that fund
should fail, it shall be paid at any rate five years hence by myself or
my representatives.' Boswell told him at the same time that the debts
which he had contracted in his father's lifetime would not be cleared
off for some years. The letter was endorsed by Sir Joshua:--'I agree to
the above conditions;' and the portrait was painted. Taylor's
_Reynolds_, ii. 477.

[54] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 24, 1773.

[55] 'I surely have the art of writing agreeably. The Lord Chancellor
[Thurlow] told me he had read every word of my _Hebridian Journal_;' he
could not help it; adding, 'could you give a rule how to write a book
that a man _must_ read? I believe Longinus could not.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 322.

[56] Boswell perhaps quotes from memory the following passage in
Goldsmith's _Life of Nash_:--'The doctor was one day conversing with
Locke and two or three more of his learned and intimate companions, with
that freedom, gaiety, and cheerfulness, which is ever the result of
innocence. In the midst of their mirth and laughter, the doctor, looking
from the window, saw Nash's chariot stop at the door. "Boys, boys,"
cried the philosopher, "let us now be wise, for here is a fool coming."'
Cunningham's Goldsmith's _Works_, iv. 96. Dr. Warton in his criticism on
Pope's line

'Unthought of frailties cheat us
in the wise,'

(_Moral Essays_, i. 69) says:--'For who could imagine that Dr. Clarke
valued himself for his agility, and frequently amused himself in a
private room of his house in leaping over the tables and chairs.'
Warton's _Essay on Pope_, ii. 125. 'It is a good remark of Montaigne's,'
wrote Goldsmith, 'that the wisest men often have friends with whom they
do not care how much they play the fool.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 166.
Mr. Seward says in his _Anecdotes_, ii. 320, that 'in the opinion of Dr.
Johnson' Dr. Clarke was the most complete literary character that
England ever produced.' For Dr. Clarke's sermons see _post_, April
7, 1778.

[57] See _post_, Oct. 16, 1769, note.

[58] How much delighted would Boswell have been, had he been shewn the
following passage, recorded by Miss Burney, in an account she gives of a
conversation with the Queen:--

THE QUEEN:--'Miss Burney, have you heard that Boswell is going to
publish a life of your friend Dr. Johnson?' 'No, ma'am!' 'I tell you as
I heard, I don't know for the truth of it, and I can't tell what he will
do. He is so extraordinary a man that perhaps he will devise something
extraordinary.' _Mme. D'Artlay's Diary_, ii. 400. 'Dr. Johnson's
history,' wrote Horace Walpole, on June 20, 1785, 'though he is going to
have as many lives as a cat, might be reduced to four lines; but I shall
wait to extract the quintessence till Sir John Hawkins, Madame Piozzi,
and Mr. Boswell have produced their quartos.' Horace Walpole's
_Letters_, viii. 557.

[59] The delay was in part due to Boswell's dissipation and
place-hunting, as is shewn by the following passages in his _Letters_ to
Temple:--'Feb. 24, 1788, I have been wretchedly dissipated, so that I
have not written a line for a fortnight.' p. 266. 'Nov. 28, 1789,
Malone's hospitality, and my other invitations, and particularly my
attendance at Lord Lonsdale's, have lost us many evenings.' _Ib_. p.
311. 'June 21, 1790, How unfortunate to be obliged to interrupt my work!
Never was a poor ambitious projector more mortified. I am suffering
without any prospect of reward, and only from my own folly.' _Ib_.
p. 326.

[60] 'You cannot imagine what labour, what perplexity, what vexation I
have endured in arranging a prodigious multiplicity of materials, in
supplying omissions, in searching for papers, buried in different
masses, and all this besides the exertion of composing and polishing;
many a time have I thought of giving it up.' _Letters of Boswell_,
p. 311.

[61] Boswell writing to Temple in 1775, says:--'I try to keep a journal,
and shall shew you that I have done tolerably; but it is hardly credible
what ground I go over, and what a variety of men and manners I
contemplate in a day; and all the time I myself am _pars magna_, for my
exuberant spirits will not let me listen enough.' _Ib_. p. 188. Mr.
Barclay said that 'he had seen Boswell lay down his knife and fork, and
take out his tablets, in order to register a good anecdote.' Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 837. The account given by Paoli to Miss Burney, shows that
very early in life Boswell took out his tablets:--'He came to my
country, and he fetched me some letter of recommending him; but I was of
the belief he might be an impostor, and I supposed in my minde he was an
espy; for I look away from him, and in a moment I look to him again, and
I behold his tablets. Oh! he was to the work of writing down all I say.
Indeed I was angry. But soon I discover he was no impostor and no espy;
and I only find I was myself the monster he had come to discern. Oh! he
is a very good man; I love him indeed; so cheerful, so gay, so pleasant!
but at the first, oh! I was indeed angry.' _Mme. D'Arblay's Diary_, ii.
155. Boswell not only recorded the conversations, he often stimulated
them. On one occasion 'he assumed,' he said, 'an air of ignorance to
incite Dr. Johnson to talk, for which it was often necessary to employ
some address.' See _post_, April 12, 1776. 'Tom Tyers,' said Johnson,
'described me the best. He once said to me, "Sir, you are like a ghost:
you never speak till you are spoken to."' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 20,
1773. Boswell writing of this Tour said:--'I also may be allowed to
claim some merit in leading the conversation; I do not mean leading, as
in an orchestra, by playing the first fiddle; but leading as one does in
examining a witness--starting topics, and making him pursue them.' _Ib_.
Sept. 28. One day he recorded:--'I did not exert myself to get Dr.
Johnson to talk, that I might not have the labour of writing down his
conversation.' _Ib_. Sept. 7. His industry grew much less towards the
close of Johnson's life. Under May 8, 1781, he records:--'Of his
conversation on that and other occasions during this period, I neglected
to keep any regular record.' On May 15, 1783:--'I have no minute of any
interview with Johnson [from May 1] till May 15. 'May 15, 1784:--'Of
these days and others on which I saw him I have no memorials.'

[62] It is an interesting question how far Boswell derived his love of
truth from himself, and how far from Johnson's training. He was one of
Johnson's _school_. He himself quotes Reynolds's observation, 'that all
who were of his _school_ are distinguished for a love of truth and
accuracy, which they would not have possessed in the same degree if they
had not been acquainted with Johnson' (_post_, under March 30, 1778).
Writing to Temple in 1789, he said:--'Johnson taught me to
cross-question in common life.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 280. His
quotations, nevertheless, are not unfrequently inaccurate. Yet to him
might fairly be applied the words that Gibbon used of Tillemont:--'His
inimitable accuracy almost assumes the character of genius.' Gibbon's
_Misc. Words_, i. 213.

[63] 'The revision of my _Life of Johnson_, by so acute and knowing a
critic as Mr. Malone, is of most essential consequence, especially as he
is _Johnsonianissimum_.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 310. A few weeks
earlier he had written:--'Yesterday afternoon Malone and I made ready
for the press thirty pages of Johnson's _Life_; he is much pleased with
it; but I feel a sad indifference [he had lately lost his wife], and he
says, "I have not the use of my faculties."' _Ib_. p. 308.

[64] Horace, _Odes_, i. 3. 1.

[65] He had published an answer to Hume's _Essay on Miracles_. See
_post_, March 20, 1776.

[66] Macleod asked if it was not wrong in Orrery to expose the defects
of a man [Swift] with whom he lived in intimacy, Johnson, 'Why no, Sir,
after the man is dead; for then it is done historically.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 22, 1773. See also _post_, Sept 17, 1777.

[67] See Mr. Malone's Preface to his edition of Shakspeare. BOSWELL.

[68] 'April 6, 1791.

'My _Life of Johnson_ is at last drawing to a closc.... I really hope to
publish it on the 25th current.... I am at present in such bad spirits
that I have every fear concerning it--that I may get no profit, nay, may
lose--that the Public may be disappointed, and think that I have done it
poorly--that I may make many enemies, and even have quarrels. Yet
perhaps the very reverse of all this may happen.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 335.

'August 22, 1791.

'My _magnum opus_ sells wonderfully; twelve hundred are now gone, and we
hope the whole seventeen hundred may be gone before Christmas.' _Ib_.
p. 342.

Malone in his Preface to the fourth edition, dated June 20, 1804, says
that 'near four thousand copies have been dispersed.' The first edition
was in 2 vols., quarto; the second (1793) in 3 vols., octavo; the third
(1799), the fourth (1804), the fifth (1807), and the sixth (1811), were
each in 4 vols., octavo. The last four were edited by Malone, Boswell
having died while he was preparing notes for the third edition.

[69] 'Burke affirmed that Boswell's _Life_ was a greater monument to
Johnson's fame than all his writings put together.' _Life of
Mackintosh_, i. 92.

[70] It is a pamphlet of forty-two pages, under the title of _The
Principal Corrections and Additions to the First Edition of Mr.
Boswell's Life Of Johnson_. Price two shillings and sixpence.

[71] Reynolds died on Feb. 23, 1792.

[72] Sir Joshua in his will left L200 to Mr. Boswell 'to be expended, if
he thought proper, in the purchase of a picture at the sale of his
paintings, to be kept for his sake.' Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 636.

[73] Of the seventy-five years that Johnson lived, he and Boswell did
not spend two years and two months in the same neighbourhood. Excluding
the time they were together on their tour to the Hebrides, they were
dwelling within reach of each other a few weeks less than two years.
Moreover, when they were apart, there were great gaps in their
correspondence. Between Dec. 8, 1763, and Jan. 14, 1766, and again
between Nov. 10, 1769 and June 20, 1771, during which periods they did
not meet, Boswell did not receive a single letter from Johnson. The
following table shows the times they were in the same neighbourhood.

1763, May 16 to Aug. 6, London.
1766, a few days in February "
1768, " " March, Oxford.
1768, a few days in May, London.
1769, end of Sept. to Nov. 10, "
1772, March 21 to about May 10, "
1773, April 3 to May 10, "
" Aug. 14 to Nov. 22, Scotland.
1775, March 21 to April 18, London.
May 2 to May 23, "
1776, March 15 to May 16, London, Oxford, Birmingham,
with an interval of Lichfield,
about a fortnight, Ashbourne,
when Johnson was at and
Bath and Boswell at Bath.
1777, Sept. 14 to Sept. 24, Ashbourne.
1778, March 18 to May 19, London.
1779, March 15 to May 3, "
" Oct. 4 to Oct. 18, "
1781, March 19 to June 5, London
and Southill.
1783, March 21 to May 30, London.
1784, May 5 to June 30, London
and Oxford.


'To shew what wisdom and what sense can do,
The poet sets Ulysses in our view.'

_Francis_. Horace, _Ep_. i. 2. 17.

[75] In his _Letter to the People of Scotland, p. 92, he wrote:--'Allow
me, my friends and countrymen, while I with honest zeal maintain _your_
cause--allow me to indulge a little more my _own egotism_ and _vanity_.
They are the indigenous plants of my mind; they distinguish it. I may
prune their luxuriancy; but I must not entirely clear it of them; for
then I should be no longer "as I am;" and perhaps there might be
something not so good.'

[76] See _post_, April 17, 1778, note.

[77] Lord Macartney was the first English ambassador to the Court of
Pekin. He left England in 1792 and returned in 1794.

[78] Boswell writing to Temple ten days earlier had said:--'Behold my
_hand_! the robbery is only of a few shillings; but the cut on my head
and bruises on my arms were sad things, and confined me to bed, in pain,
and fever, and helplessness, as a child, many days.... This shall be a
crisis in my life: I trust I shall henceforth be a sober regular man.
Indeed, my indulgence in wine has, of late years especially, been
excessive.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 346.

[79] On this day his brother wrote to Mr. Temple: 'I have now the
painful task of informing you that my dear brother expired this morning
at two o'clock; we have both lost a kind, affectionate friend, and I
shall never have such another.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 357. What was
probably Boswell's last letter is as follows:--

'My Dear Temple,

'I would fain write to you in my own hand, but really cannot. [These
words, which are hardly legible, and probably the last poor Boswell ever
wrote, afford the clearest evidence of his utter physical prostration.]
Alas, my friend, what a state is this! My son James is to write for me
what remains of this letter, and I am to dictate. The pain which
continued for so many weeks was very severe indeed, and when it went off
I thought myself quite well; but I soon felt a conviction that I was by
no means as I should be--so exceedingly weak, as my miserable attempt to
write to you afforded a full proof. All then that can be said is, that I
must wait with patience. But, O my friend! how strange is it that, at
this very time of my illness, you and Miss Temple should have been in
such a dangerous state. Much occasion for thankfulness is there that it
has not been worse with you. Pray write, or make somebody write
frequently. I feel myself a good deal stronger to-day, not withstanding
the scrawl. God bless you, my dear Temple! I ever am your old and
affectionate friend, here and I trust hereafter,

'JAMES BOSWELL.' _Ib_. p. 353.

[80] Malone died on May 25, 1812.

[81] I do not here include his Poetical Works; for, excepting his Latin
Translation of Pope's _Messiah_, his _London_, and his _Vanity of Human
Wishes_ imitated from _Juvenal_; his Prologue on the opening of
Drury-Lane Theatre by Mr. Garrick, and his _Irene_, a Tragedy, they are
very numerous, and in general short; and I have promised a complete
edition of them, in which I shall with the utmost care ascertain their
authenticity, and illustrate them with notes and various readings.
BOSWELL. Boswell's meaning, though not well expressed, is clear enough.
Mr. Croker needlessly suggests that he wrote 'they are _not_ very
numerous.' Boswell a second time (_post_, under Aug. 12, 1784, note)
mentions his intention to edit Johnson's poems. He died without doing
it. See also _post_, 1750, Boswell's note on Addison's style.

[82] The _Female Quixote_ was published in 1752. See _post_, 1762, note.

[83] The first four volumes of the _Lives_ were published in 1779, the
last six in 1781.

[84] See Dr. Johnson's letter to Mrs. Thrale, dated Ostick in Skie,
September 30, 1773:--'Boswell writes a regular Journal of our travels,
which I think contains as much of what I say and do, as of all other
occurrences together; "_for such a faithful chronicler_ is _Griffith_."'
BOSWELL. See _Piozzi Letters_, i. 159, where however we read '_as_

[85] _Idler_, No. 84. BOSWELL.--In this paper he says: 'Those relations
are commonly of most value in which the writer tells his own story. He
that recounts the life of another ... lessens the familiarity of his
tale to increase its dignity ... and endeavours to hide the man that he
may produce a hero.'

[86] 'It very seldom happens to man that his business is his pleasure.
What is done from necessity is so often to be done when against the
present inclination, and so often fills the mind with anxiety, that an
habitual dislike steals upon us, and we shrink involuntarily from the
remembrance of our task.... From this unwillingness to perform more than
is required of that which is commonly performed with reluctance it
proceeds that few authors write their own lives.' _Idler_, No. 102. See
also _post_, May 1, 1783.

[87] Mrs. Piozzi records the following conversation with Johnson, which,
she says, took place on July 18, 1773. 'And who will be my biographer,'
said he, 'do you think?' 'Goldsmith, no doubt,' replied I; 'and he will
do it the best among us.' 'The dog would write it best to be sure,'
replied he; 'but his particular malice towards me, and general disregard
for truth, would make the book useless to all, and injurious to my
character.' 'Oh! as to that,' said I, 'we should all fasten upon him,
and force him to do you justice; but the worst is, the Doctor does not
_know_ your life; nor can I tell indeed who does, except Dr. Taylor of
Ashbourne.' 'Why Taylor,' said he, 'is better acquainted with my _heart_
than any man or woman now alive; and the history of my Oxford exploits
lies all between him and Adams; but Dr. James knows my very early days
better than he. After my coming to London to drive the world about a
little, you must all go to Jack Hawkesworth for anecdotes: I lived in
great familiarity with him (though I think there was not much affection)
from the year 1753 till the time Mr. Thrale and you took me up. I
intend, however, to disappoint the rogues, and either make you write the
life, with Taylor's intelligence; or, which is better, do it myself
after outliving you all. I am now,' added he, 'keeping a diary, in hopes
of using it for that purpose sometime.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 31. How much
of this is true cannot be known. Boswell some time before this
conversation had told Johnson that he intended to write his Life, and
Johnson had given him many particulars (see _post_, March 31, 1772, and
April 11, 1773). He read moreover in manuscript most of Boswell's _Tour
to the Hebrides_, and from it learnt of his intention. 'It is no small
satisfaction to me to reflect,' Boswell wrote, 'that Dr. Johnson, after
being apprised of my intentions, communicated to me, at subsequent
periods, many particulars of his life.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct.
14, 1773.

[88] 'It may be said the death of Dr. Johnson kept the public mind in
agitation beyond all former example. No literary character ever excited
so much attention.' Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 3.

[89] The greatest part of this book was written while Sir John Hawkins
was alive; and I avow, that one object of my strictures was to make him
feel some compunction for his illiberal treatment of Dr. Johnson. Since
his decease, I have suppressed several of my remarks upon his work. But
though I would not 'war with the dead' _offensively_, I think it
necessary to be strenuous in _defence_ of my illustrious friend, which I
cannot be without strong animadversions upon a writer who has greatly
injured him. Let me add, that though I doubt I should not have been very
prompt to gratify Sir John Hawkins with any compliment in his life-time,
I do now frankly acknowledge, that, in my opinion, his volume, however
inadequate and improper as a life of Dr. Johnson, and however
discredited by unpardonable inaccuracies in other respects, contains a
collection of curious anecdotes and observations, which few men but its
author could have brought together. BOSWELL.

[90] 'The next name that was started was that of Sir John Hawkins; and
Mrs. Thrale said, "Why now, Dr. Johnson, he is another of those whom you
suffer nobody to abuse but yourself: Garrick is one too; for, if any
other person speaks against him, you brow-beat him in a minute." "Why
madam," answered he, "they don't know when to abuse him, and when to
praise him; I will allow no man to speak ill of David that he does not
deserve; and as to Sir John, why really I believe him to be an honest
man at the bottom; but to be sure he is penurious, and he is mean, and
it must be owned he has a degree of brutality, and a tendency to
savageness, that cannot easily be defended.... He said that Sir John and
he once belonged to the same club, but that as he eat no supper, after,
the first night of his admission he desired to be excused paying his
share." "And was he excused?" "O yes; for no man is angry at another for
being inferior to himself. We all scorned him, and admitted his plea.
For my part, I was such a fool as to pay my share for wine, though I
never tasted any. But Sir John was a most _unclubable man_."' Madame
D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 65.

[91] 'In censuring Mr. [_sic_] J. Hawkins's book I say: "There is
throughout the whole of it a dark, uncharitable cast, which puts the
most unfavourable construction on my illustrious friend's conduct."
Malone maintains _cast_ will not do; he will have "malignancy." Is that
not too strong? How would "disposition" do?... Hawkins is no doubt very
malevolent. _Observe how he talks of me as quite unknown.' Letters of
Boswell_, p. 281. Malone wrote of Hawkins as follows: 'The bishop
[Bishop Percy of Dromore] concurred with every other person I have heard
speak of Hawkins, in saying that he was a most detestable fellow. He was
the son of a carpenter, and set out in life in the very lowest line of
the law. Dyer knew him well at one time, and the Bishop heard him give a
character of Hawkins once that painted him in the blackest colours;
though Dyer was by no means apt to deal in such portraits. Dyer said he
was a man of the most mischievous, uncharitable, and malignant
disposition. Sir Joshua Reynolds observed to me that Hawkins, though he
assumed great outward sanctity, was not only mean and grovelling in
dispostion, but absolutely dishonest. He never lived in any real
intimacy with Dr. Johnson, who never opened his heart to him, or had in
fact any accurate knowledge of his character.' Prior's _Malone_, pp.
425-7. See _post_, Feb. 1764, note.

[92] Mrs. Piozzi. See _post_, under June 30, 1784.

[93] Voltaire in his account of Bayle says: 'Des Maizeaux a ecrit sa vie
en un gros volume; elle ne devait pas contenir six pages.' Voltaire's
_Works_, edition of 1819, xvii. 47.

[94] Brit. Mus. 4320, Ayscough's Catal., Sloane MSS. BOSWELL.--Horace
Walpole describes Birch as 'a worthy, good-natured soul, full of
industry and activity, and running about like a young setting-dog in
quest of anything, new or old, and with no parts, taste, or judgment.'
Walpole's _Letters_, vii. 326. See _post_, Sept. 1743.

[95] 'You have fixed the method of biography, and whoever will write a
life well must imitate you.' Horace Walpole to Mason; Walpole's
_Letters_, vi. 211.

[96] 'I am absolutely certain that my mode of biography, which gives not
only a _History_ of Johnson's _visible_ progress through the world, and
of his publications, but a _view_ of his mind in his letters and
conversations, is the most perfect that can be conceived, and will be
more of a Life than any work that has ever yet appeared.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 265.

[97] Pope's Prologue to Addison's _Cato_, 1. 4.

[98] 'Boswell is the first of biographers. He has distanced all his
competitors so decidedly that it is not worth while to place them.
Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere.' Macaulay's _Essays_, i. 374.

[99] See _post_, Sept. 17, 1777, and Malone's note of March 15, 1781,

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