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Life Of Johnson, Vol. 2 by Boswell, Edited by Birkbeck Hill

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[27] 'I love anecdotes,' said Johnson. Boswell's _Hebridge_, Aug. 16,
1773. Boswell said that 'Johnson always condemned the word _anecdotes_,
as used in the sense that the French, and we from them, use it, as
signifying particulars.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 311. In his
_Dictionary_, he defined '_Anecdotes_ Something yet unpublished; secret
history.' In the fourth edition he added: 'It is now used, after the
French, for a biographical incident; a minute passage of private life.'

[28] See _ante_, July 19, 1763.

[29] Boswell, writing to Wilkes in 1776, said:--'Though we differ widely
in religion and politics, _il y a des points ou nos ames sont animes_,
as Rouseau said to me in his wild retreat.' Almon's _Wilkes_, iv. 319.

[30] Rousseau fled from France in 1762. A few days later his arrest was
ordered at Geneva. He fled from Neufchatel in 1763, and soon afterwards
he was banished from Berne. _Nonev. Biog. Gen., Xlii. 750_. He had come
to England with David Hume a few weeks before this conversation was
held, and was at this time in Chiswick. Hume's _Private Corres_.,
pp. 125, 145.

[31] Rousseau had by this time published his _Nouvelle Helloise_ and

[32] Less than three months after the date of this conversation Rousseau
wrote to General Conway, one of the Secretaries of State, thanking him
for the pension which George III proposed secretly to confer on him.
Hume's _Private Corres_., p. 165. Miss Burney, in her preface to
_Evelina_, a novel which was her introduction to Johnson's strong
affection, mentioning Rousseau and Johnson, adds in a footnote:--
'However superior the capacities in which these great writers deserve to
be considered, they must pardon me that, for the dignity of my subject,
I here rank the authors of _Rasselas_ and _Eloise_ as novelists.'

[33] Rousseau thus wrote of himself:

'Dieu est juste; il veut que je souffre; et il sait que je suis
innocent. Voila le motif de ma confiance, mon coeur et ma raison me
crient qu'elle ne me trompera pas. Laissons donc faire les hommes et la
destinee; apprenons a souffrir sans murmure; tout doit a la fin rentrer
dans Fordre, et mon tour viendra tot ou tard.' Rousseau's _Works_,
xx. 223.

[34] 'He entertained me very courteously,' wrote Boswell in his
_Corsica_, p. 140.

[35] In this preference Boswell pretended at times to share. See _post_,
Sept. 30, 1769.

[36] Johnson seems once to have held this view to some extent; for,
writing of Savage's poem _On Public Spirit_, he says (_Works_, viii.
156):--'He has asserted the natural equality of mankind, and endeavoured
to suppress that pride which inclines men to imagine that right is the
consequence of power.' See also _post_, Sept. 23, 1777, where he
asserts:--'It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original
state were equal.' For the opposite opinion, see _ante_, June 25, 1763.

[37] 'Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes.' 'Manners and towns of
various nations viewed.' FRANCIS. Horace, _Ars Poetica_, 1. 142.

[38] By the time Boswell was twenty-six years old he could boast that he
had made the acquaintance of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Paoli among
foreigners; and of Adam Smith, Robertson, Hume, Johnson, Goldsmith,
Garrick, Horace Walpole, Wilkes, and perhaps Reynolds, among Englishmen.
He had twice at least received a letter from the Earl of Chatham.

[39] In such passages as this we may generally assume that the
gentleman, whose name is not given, is Boswell himself. See _ante_, i.
4, and _post_, Oct. 16, 1769.

[40] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's 'Collection,' where this
assertion is called 'his usual remark.'

[41] See _post_, April 15, 1778.

[42] These two words may be observed as marks of Mr. Boswell's accuracy.
It is a jocular Irish phrase, which, of all Johnson's acquaintances, no
one probably, but Goldsmith, would have used.--CROKER.

[43] See _ante_, May 24, 1763.

[44] Johnson's best justification for the apparent indolences of the
latter part of his life may be found in his own words: 'Every man of
genius has some arts of fixing the attention peculiar to himself, by
which, honestly exerted, he may benefit mankind.... To the position of
Tully, that if virtue could be seen she must be loved, may be added,
that if truth could be heard she must be obeyed.' _The Rambler_, No. 87.
He fixed the attention best by his talk. For 'the position of Tully,'
see _post_, March 19, 1776.

[45] See _ante_, i. 192, and _post_, May 1, 1783. Goldsmith wrote _The
Traveller and Deserted Village_ on a very different plan. 'To save
himself the trouble of transcription, he wrote the lines in his first
copy very wide, and would so fill up the intermediate space with
reiterated corrections, that scarcely a word of his first effusions was
left unaltered.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, i. 113.

[46] Mrs. Thrale in a letter to Dr. Johnson, said:--'Don't sit making
verses that never will be written.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 183. Baretti
noted opposite this in the margin of his copy: 'Johnson was always
making Latin or English verses in his mind, but never would write
them down.'

[47] Burke entered Parliament as member for Wendover borough on Jan.
14th, 1766. William Burke, writing to Barry the artist on the following
March 23, says:--'Ned's success has exceeded our most sanguine hopes;
all at once he has darted into fame. He is full of real business, intent
upon doing real good to his country, as much as if he was to receive
twenty per cent. from the commerce of the whole empire, which he labours
to improve and extend.' Barry's _Works_, i. 42.

[48] It was of these speeches that Macaulay wrote:--'The House of
Commons heard Pitt for the last time and Burke for the first time, and
was in doubt to which of them the palm of eloquence should be assigned.
It was indeed a splendid sunset and a splendid dawn.' Macaulay's
_Essays_ (edition 1874), iv. 330.

[49] See _post_, March 20, 1776.

[50] Boswell has already stated (_ante_, Oct. 1765) that Johnson's
_Shakespeare_ was 'virulently attacked' by Kenrick. No doubt there were
other attacks and rejoinders too.

[51] Two days earlier he had drawn up a prayer on entering _Novum
Museum_. _Pr. and Med_., p. 69.

[52] See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection.

[53] _Dictionarium Saxonico et Gothico-Latinum_. London, 1772. Lye died
in 1767. O. Manning completed the work.

[54] See Appendix A.

[55] Mr. Langton's uncle. BOSWELL.

[56] The place of residence of Mr. Peregrine Langton. BOSWELL.

[57] Mr. Langton did not disregard this counsel, but wrote the following
account, which he has been pleased to communicate to me:

'The circumstances of Mr. Peregrine Langton were these. He had an
annuity for life of two hundred pounds _per annum_. He resided in a
village in Lincolnshire; the rent of his house, with two or three small
fields, was twenty-eight pounds; the county he lived in was not more
than moderately cheap; his family consisted of a sister, who paid him
eighteen pounds annually for her board, and a niece. The servants were
two maids, and two men in livery. His common way of living, at his
table, was three or four dishes; the appurtenances to his table were
neat and handsome; he frequently entertained company at dinner, and then
his table was well served with as many dishes as were usual at the
tables of the other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. His own appearance,
as to clothes, was genteelly neat and plain. He had always a
post-chaise, and kept three horses.

'Such, with the resources I have mentioned, was his way of living, which
he did not suffer to employ his whole income: for he had always a sum of
money lying by him for any extraordinary expences that might arise. Some
money he put into the stocks; at his death, the sum he had there
amounted to one hundred and fifty pounds. He purchased out of his income
his household-furniture and linen, of which latter he had a very ample
store; and, as I am assured by those that had very good means of
knowing, not less than the tenth part of his income was set apart for
charity: at the time of his death, the sum of twenty-five pounds was
found, with a direction to be employed in such uses.

'He had laid down a plan of living proportioned to his income, and did
not practise any extraordinary degree of parsimony, but endeavoured that
in his family there should be plenty without waste; as an instance that
this was his endeavour, it may be worth while to mention a method he
took in regulating a proper allowance of malt liquor to be drunk in his
family, that there might not be a deficiency, or any intemperate
profusion: On a complaint made that his allowance of a hogshead in a
month, was not enough for his own family, he ordered the quantity of a
hogshead to be put into bottles, had it locked up from the servants, and
distributed out, every day, eight quarts, which is the quantity each day
at one hogshead in a month; and told his servants, that if that did not
suffice, he would allow them more; but, by this method, it appeared at
once that the allowance was much more than sufficient for his small
family; and this proved a clear conviction, that could not be answered,
and saved all future dispute. He was, in general, very diligently and
punctually attended and obeyed by his servants; he was very considerate
as to the injunctions he gave, and explained them distinctly; and, at
their first coming to his service, steadily exacted a close compliance
with them, without any remission; and the servants finding this to be
the case, soon grew habitually accustomed to the practice of their
business, and then very little further attention was necessary. On
extraordinary instances of good behaviour, or diligent service, he was
not wanting in particular encouragements and presents above their wages;
it is remarkable that he would permit their relations to visit them, and
stay at his house two or three days at a time.

[58] Of his being in the chair of THE LITERARY CLUB, which at this time
met once a week in the evening. BOSWELL. See _ante_, Feb. 1764, note.

[59] See _post_, Feb. 1767, where he told the King that 'he must now
read to acquire more knowledge.'

[60] The passage omitted alluded to a private transaction. BOSWELL.

[61] The censure of my Latin relates to the Dedication, which was as






D. D. C Q.


[62] See _ante_, i. 211.

[63] See _post_, May 19, 1778.

[64] This alludes to the first sentence of the _Proaemium_ of my Thesis.
'JURISPRUDENTAE studio nullum uberius, nullum generosius: in legibus enim
agitandis, populorum mores, variasque fortunae vices ex quibus leges
oriuntur, contemplari simul solemus_' BOSWELL.

[65] 'Mr. Boswell,' says Malone, 'professed the Scotch and the English
law; but had never taken very great pains on the subject. His father,
Lord Auchinleck, told him one day, that it would cost him more trouble
to hide his ignorance in these professions than to show his knowledge.
This Boswell owned he had found to be true.' _European Magazine_, 1798,
p. 376. Boswell wrote to Temple in 1775:--'You are very kind in saying
that I may overtake you in learning. Believe me though that I have a
kind of impotency of study.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 181.

[66] This is a truth that Johnson often enforced. 'Very few,' said the
poet; 'live by choice: every man is placed in his present condition by
causes which acted without his foresight, and with which he did not
always willingly co-operate.' _Rasselas_, chap. 16. 'To him that lives
well,' answered the hermit, 'every form of life is good; nor can I give
any other rule for choice than to remove from all apparent evil.' _Ib_,
chap. 21. 'Young man,' said Omar, 'it is of little use to form plans of
life.' _The Idler_, No. 101.

[67] 'Hace sunt quae nostra _liceat_ te voce moneri.' _Aeneid_, iii.

[68] The passage omitted explained the transaction to which the
preceding letter had alluded. BOSWELL.

[69] See _ante_, June 10, 1761.

[70] Mr. Croker says:--'It was by visiting Chambers, when a fellow of
University College, that Johnson became acquainted with Lord Stowell [at
that time William Scott]; and when Chambers went to India, Lord Stowell,
as he expressed it to me, seemed to succeed to his place in Johnson's
friendship.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 90, note. John Scott (Earl of
Eldon), Sir William Jones and Mr. Windham, were also members of
University College. The hall is adorned with the portraits of these five
men. An engraving of Johnson is in the Common Room.

[71] It is not easy to discover anything noble or even felicitous in
this Dedication. _Works_, v. 444.

[72] See _ante_, i. 148.

[73] See _ante_, i. 177, note 2.

[74] See _ante_, i. 158.

[75] See _ante_, i. 178, note 2.

[76] This poem is scarcely Johnson's, though all the lines but the third
in the following couplets may be his.

Whose life not sunk in sloth is free from care,
Nor tost by change, nor stagnant in despair;
Who with wise authors pass the instructive day
And wonder how the moments stole away;
Who not retired beyond the sight of life
Behold its weary cares, its noisy strife.'

[77] Johnson's additions to these three poems are not at all evident.

[78] In a note to the poem it is stated that Miss Williams, when, before
her blindness, she was assisting Mr. Grey in his experiments, was the
first that observed the emission of the electrical spark from a human
body. The best lines are the following:--

Now, hoary Sage, purse thy happy flight,
With swifter motion haste to purer light,
Where Bacon waits with Newton and with Boyle
To hail thy genius, and applaud thy toil;
Where intuition breaks through time and space,
And mocks experiment's successive race;
Sees tardy Science toil at Nature's laws,
And wonders how th' effect obscures the cause.
Yet not to deep research or happy guess
Is owed the life of hope, the death of peace.'

[79] A gentleman, writing from Virginia to John Wesley, in 1735, about
the need of educating the negro slaves in religion, says:--'Their
masters generally neglect them, as though immortality was not the
privilege of their souls in common with their own.' Wesley's _Journal_,
II. 288. But much nearer home Johnson might have found this criminal
enforcement of ignorance. Burke, writing in 1779, about the Irish,
accuses the legislature of 'condemning a million and a half of people to
ignorance, according to act of parliament.' Burke's _Corres_. ii. 294.

[80] See _post_, March 21, 1775, and Appendix.

[81] Johnson said very finely:--'Languages are the pedigree of nations.'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 18, 1773.

[82] The Rev. Mr. John Campbell, Minister of the Parish of Kippen, near
Stirling, who has lately favoured me with a long, intelligent, and very
obliging letter upon this work, makes the following remark:--'Dr.
Johnson has alluded to the worthy man employed in the translation of the
New Testament. Might not this have afforded you an opportunity of paying
a proper tribute of respect to the memory of the Rev. Mr. James Stuart,
late Minister of Killin, distinguished by his eminent Piety, Learning
and Taste? The amiable simplicity of his life, his warm benevolence, his
indefatigable and successful exertions for civilizing and improving the
Parish of which he was Minister for upwards of fifty years, entitle him
to the gratitude of his country, and the veneration of all good men. It
certainly would be a pity, if such a character should be permitted to
sink into oblivion.' BOSWELL.

[83] Seven years later Johnson received from the Society some religious
works in Erse. See post, June 24, 1774. Yet in his journey to the
Hebrides, in 1773 (Works, ix. 101), he had to record of the parochial
schools in those islands that 'by the rule of their institution they
teach _only_ English, so that the natives read a language which they may
never use or understand,'

[84] This paragraph shews Johnson's real estimation of the character and
abilities of the celebrated Scottish Historian, however lightly, in a
moment of caprice, he may have spoken of his works. BOSWELL.

[85] See _ante_, i. 210.

[86] This is the person concerning whom Sir John Hawkins has thrown out
very unwarrantable reflections both against Dr. Johnson and Mr. Francis
Barber. BOSWELL. See _post_, under Oct. 20, 1784. In 1775, Heely, it
appears, applied through Johnson for the post that was soon to be vacant
of 'master of the tap' at Ranelagh House. 'He seems,' wrote Johnson, in
forwarding his letter of application, 'to have a genius for an
alehouse.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 210. See also _post_, Aug. 12, 1784.

[87] See an account of him in the _European Magazine_, Jan. 1786.
BOSWELL. There we learn that he was in his time a grammar-school usher,
actor, poet, the puffing partner in a quack medicine, and tutor to a
youthful Earl. He was suspected of levying blackmail by threats of
satiric publications, and he suffered from a disease which rendered him
an object almost offensive to sight. He was born in 1738 or 1739, and
died in 1771.

[88] It was republished in _The Repository_, ii. 227, edition of 1790.

[89] The Hon. Thomas Hervey, whose _Letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer_ in 1742
was much read at that time. He was the second son of John, first Earl of
Bristol, and one of the brothers of Johnson's early friend Henry Hervey.
He died Jan. 20, 1775. MALONE. See _post_, April 6, 1775.

[90] See _post_, under Sept. 22, 1777, for another story told by
Beauclerk against Johnson of a Mr. Hervey.

[91] Essays published in the _Daily Gazetteer_ and afterwards collected
into two vols. _Gent. Mag_. for 1748, P. 48.

[92] Mr. Croker regrets that Johnson employed his pen for hire in
Hervey's 'disgusting squabbles,' and in a long note describes Hervey's
letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer with whose wife he had eloped. But the
attack to which Johnson was hired to reply was not made by Hanmer, but,
as was supposed, by Sir C. H. Williams. Because a man has wronged
another, he is not therefore to submit to the attacks of a third.
Williams, moreover, it must be remembered, was himself a man of
licentious character.

[93] Buckingham House, bought in 1761, by George III, and settled on
Queen Charlotte. The present Buckingham Palace occupies the site. P.
CUNNINGHAM. Here, according to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 470), Johnson met the
Prince of Wales (George IV.) when a child, 'and enquired as to his
knowledge of the Scriptures; the prince in his answers gave him great
satisfaction.' Horace Walpole, writing of the Prince at the age of
nineteen, says (_Journal of the Reign of George III_, ii.
503):--'Nothing was coarser than his conversation and phrases; and it
made men smile to find that in the palace of piety and pride his Royal
Highness had learnt nothing but the dialect of footmen and grooms.'

[94] Dr. Johnson had the honour of contributing his assistance towards
the formation of this library; for I have read a long letter from him to
Mr. Barnard, giving the most masterly instructions on the subject. I
wished much to have gratified my readers with the perusal of this
letter, and have reason to think that his Majesty would have been
graciously pleased to permit its publication; but Mr. Barnard, to whom I
applied, declined it 'on his own account.' BOSWELL. It is given in Mr.
Croker's edition, p. 196.

[95] The particulars of this conversation I have been at great pains to
collect with the utmost authenticity from Dr. Johnson's own detail to
myself; from Mr. Langton who was present when he gave an account of it
to Dr. Joseph Warton, and several other friends, at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's; from Mr. Barnard; from the copy of a letter written by the
late Mr. Strahan the printer, to Bishop Warburton; and from a minute,
the original of which is among the papers of the late Sir James
Caldwell, and a copy of which was most obligingly obtained for me from
his son Sir John Caldwell, by Sir Francis Lumm. To all these gentlemen I
beg leave to make my grateful acknowledgements, and particularly to Sir
Francis Lumm, who was pleased to take a great deal of trouble, and even
had the minute laid before the King by Lord Caermarthen, now Duke of
Leeds, then one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, who
announced to Sir Francis the Royal pleasure concerning it by a letter,
in these words: 'I have the King's commands to assure you, Sir, how
sensible his Majesty is of your attention in communicating the minute of
the conversation previous to its publication. As there appears no
objection to your complying with Mr. Boswell's wishes on the subject,
you are at full liberty to deliver it to that gentleman, to make such
use of in his _Life of Dr. Johnson_, as he may think proper.' BOSWELL.
In 1790, Boswell published in a quarto sheet of eight pages _A
conversation between His Most Sacred Majesty George III. and Samuel
Johnson, LLD. Illustrated with Observations. By James Boswell, Esq.
London. Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly in the Poultry.
MDCCXC. Price Half-a-Guinea. Entered in the Hall-Book of the Company of
Stationers_. It is of the same impression as the first edition of _the
Life of Johnson_.

[96] After Michaelmas, 1766. See _ante_, ii. 25.

[97] See _post_, May, 31, 1769, note.

[98] Writing to Langton, on May 10, of the year before he had said, 'I
read more than I did. I hope something will yet come on it.' _Ante_,
ii. 20.

[99] Boswell and Goldsmith had in like manner urged him 'to continue his
labours.' See _ante_, i. 398, and ii. 15.

[100] Johnson had written to Lord Chesterfield in the _Plan of his
Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 19), 'Ausonius thought that modesty forbade him
to plead inability for a task to which Caesar had judged him
equal:--_Cur me posse negem posse quod ille pufat_?' We may compare also
a passage in Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_ (ii. 377):--'THE KING. "I believe
there is no constraint to be put upon real genius; nothing but
inclination can set it to work. Miss Burney, however, knows best." And
then hastily returning to me he cried; "What? what?" "No, sir,
I--I--believe not, certainly," quoth I, very awkwardly, for I seemed
taking a violent compliment only as my due; but I knew not how to put
him off as I would another person.'

[101] In one part of the character of Pope (_Works_, viii. 319), Johnson
seems to be describing himself:--'He certainly was in his early life a
man of great literary curiosity; and when he wrote his _Essay on
Criticism_ had for his age a very wide acquaintance with books. When he
entered into the living world, it seems to have happened to him as to
many others, that he was less attentive to dead masters; he studied in
the academy of Paracelsus, and made the universe his favourite
volume.... His frequent references to history, his allusions to various
kinds of knowledge, and his images selected from art and nature, with
his observations on the operations of the mind and the modes of life,
show an intelligence perpetually on the wing, excursive, vigorous, and
diligent, eager to pursue knowledge, and attentive to retain it.' See
_ante_, i. 57.

[102] Johnson thus describes Warburton (_Works_, viii. 288):--'About
this time [1732] Warburton began to make his appearance in the first
ranks of learning. He was a man of vigorous faculties, a mind fervid and
vehement, supplied by incessant and unlimited enquiry, with wonderful
extent and variety of knowledge.' Cradock (_Memoirs_, i. 188) says that
'Bishop Kurd always wondered where it was possible for Warburton to meet
with certain anecdotes with which not only his conversation, but
likewise his writings, abounded. "I could have readily informed him,"
said Mrs. Warburton, "for, when we passed our winters in London, he
would often, after his long and severe studies, send out for a whole
basketful of books from the circulating libraries; and at times I have
gone into his study, and found him laughing, though alone."' Lord
Macaulay was, in this respect, the Warburton of our age.

[103] The Rev. Mr. Strahan clearly recollects having been told by
Johnson, that the King observed that Pope made Warburton a Bishop.
'True, Sir, (said Johnson,) but Warburton did more for Pope; he made him
a Christian:' alluding, no doubt, to his ingenious Comments on the
_Essay on Man_. BOSWELL. The statements both of the King and Johnson are
supported by two passages in Johnson's _Life of Pope_, (_Works_, viii.
289, 290). He says of Warburton's Comments:--'Pope, who probably began
to doubt the tendency of his own work, was glad that the positions, of
which he perceived himself not to know the full meaning, could by any
mode of interpretation be made to mean well.... From this time Pope
lived in the closest intimacy with his commentator, and amply rewarded
his kindness and his zeal; for he introduced him to Mr. Murray, by whose
interest he became preacher at Lincoln's Inn; and to Mr. Allen, who gave
him his niece and his estate, and by consequence a bishoprick.' See also
the account given by Johnson, in Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.
Bishop Law in his Revised Preface to Archbishop King's _Origin of Evil_
(1781), p. xvii, writes:--'I had now the satisfaction of seeing that
those very principles which had been maintained by Archbishop King were
adopted by Mr. Pope in his Essay on Man; this I used to recollect, and
sometimes relate, with pleasure, conceiving that such an account did no
less honour to the poet than to our philosopher; but was soon made to
understand that anything of that kind was taken highly amiss by one
[Warburton] who had once held the doctrine of that same Essay to be rank
atheism, but afterwards turned a warm advocate for it, and thought
proper to deny the account above-mentioned, with heavy menaces against
those who presumed to insinuate that Pope borrowed anything from any man
whatsoever.' See _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.

[104] In Gibbon's _Memoirs_, a fine passage is quoted from Lowth's
Defence of the University of Oxford, against Warburton's reproaches. 'I
transcribe with pleasure this eloquent passage,' writes Gibbon, 'without
inquiring whether in this angry controversy the spirit of Lowth himself
is purified from the intolerant zeal which Warburton had ascribed to the
genius of the place.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 47. See BOSWELL'S
_Hebrides_, Aug. 28, 1773.

[105] See _post_, April 15, 1773, where Johnson says that Lyttelton 'in
his _History_ wrote the most vulgar Whiggism,' and April 10, 1776.
Gibbon, who had reviewed it this year, says in his _Memoirs_ (_Misc.
Works_, i. 207): 'The public has ratified my judgment of that voluminous
work, in which sense and learning are not illuminated by a ray
of genius.'

[106] Hawkins says of him (_Life_, p. 211):--'He obtained from one of
those universities which would scarce refuse a degree to an apothecary's
horse a diploma for that of doctor of physic.' He became a great
compiler and in one year earned L1500. In the end he turned
quack-doctor. He was knighted by the King of Sweden 'in return for a
present to that monarch of his _Vegetable System_.' He at least thrice
attacked Garrick (Murphy's _Garrick_, pp. 136, 189, 212), who replied
with three epigrams, of which the last is well-known:--

'For Farces and Physic his equal there scarce is;
His Farces are Physic, his Physic a Farce is.'

Horace Walpole (_Letters_ iii. 372), writing on Jan. 3, 1761,
said:--'Would you believe, what I know is fact, that Dr. Hill earned
fifteen guineas a week by working for wholesale dealers? He was at once
employed on six voluminous works of Botany, Husbandry, &c., published
weekly.' Churchill in the Rescind thus writes of him:--

'Who could so nobly grace the motley list,
Actor, Inspector, Doctor, Botanist?
Knows any one so well--sure no one knows--
At once to play, prescribe, compound, compose?'

Churchill's _Poems_, i. 6. In the _Gent. Mag_. xxii. 568, it is stated
that he had acted pantomime, tragedy and comedy, and had been damned
in all.

[107] Mr. Croker quotes Bishop Elrington, who says, 'Dr. Johnson was
unjust to Hill, and showed that _he_ did not understand the subject.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 186.

[108] D'Israeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, i. 201) says
that 'Hill, once when he fell sick, owned to a friend that he had
over-fatigued himself with writing seven works at once, one of which was
on architecture and another on cookery.' D'Israeli adds that Hill
contracted to translate a Dutch work on insects for fifty guineas. As he
was ignorant of the language, he bargained with another translator for
twenty-five guineas. This man, who was equally ignorant, rebargained
with a third, who perfectly understood his original, for twelve guineas.

[109] Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, v. 442), writing on Dec. 20, 1763, of the
_Journal des Savans_, says:--'I can hardly express how much I am
delighted with this journal; its characteristics are erudition,
precision, and taste.... The father of all the rest, it is still their
superior.... There is nothing to be wished for in it but a little more
boldness and philosophy; but it is published under the Chancellor's eye.'

[110] Goldsmith, in his _Present State of Polite Learning_ (ch. xi.),
published in 1759, says;--'We have two literary reviews in London, with
critical newspapers and magazines without number. The compilers of these
resemble the commoners of Rome, they are all for levelling property, not
by increasing their own, but by diminishing that of others.... The most
diminutive son of fame or of famine has his _we_ and his _us_, his
_firstlys_ and his _secondlys_, as methodical as if bound in cow-hide
and closed with clasps of brass. Were these Monthly Reviews and
Magazines frothy, pert, or absurd, they might find some pardon, but to
be dull and dronish is an encroachment on the prerogative of a folio.'

[111] See _post_, April 10, 1766.

[112] Mr. White, the Librarian of the Royal Society, has, at my request,
kindly examined the records of the Royal Society, but has not been able
to discover what the 'circumstance' was. Neither is any light thrown on
it by Johnson's reviews of Birch's _History of the Royal Society_ and
_Philosophical Transactions_, vol. xlix. (_ante_, i. 309), which I
have examined.

[113] 'Were you to converse with a King, you ought to be as easy and
unembarrassed as with your own valet-de-chambre; but yet every look,
word, and action should imply the utmost respect. What would be proper
and well-bred with others much your superior, would be absurd and
ill-bred with one so very much so.' Chesterfield's _Letters_, iii. 203.

[114] Imlac thus described to Rasselas his interview with the Great
Mogul:--'The emperor asked me many questions concerning my country and
my travels; and though I cannot now recollect anything that he uttered
above the power of a common man, he dismissed me astonished at his
wisdom, and enamoured of his goodness.' _Rasselas_, chap. ix. Wraxall
(_Memoirs_, edit. of 1884, i. 283) says that Johnson was no judge of a
fine gentleman. 'George III,' he adds, 'was altogether destitute of
these ornamental and adventitious endowments.' He mentions 'the
oscillations of his body, the precipitation of his questions, none of
which, it was said, would wait for an answer, and the hurry of his
articulation.' Mr. Wheatley, in a note on this passage, quotes the
opinion of 'Adams, the American Envoy, who said, the "King is, I really
think, the most accomplished courtier in his dominions."'

[115] 'Dr. Warton made me a most obsequious bow.... He is what Dr.
Johnson calls a rapturist, and I saw plainly he meant to pour forth much
civility into my ears. He is a very communicative, gay, and pleasant
converser, and enlivened the whole day by his readiness upon all
subjects.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 236. It is very likely that he
is 'the ingenious writer' mentioned _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's
'Collection,' of whom Johnson said, 'Sir, he is an enthusiast by rule.'
Mr. Windham records that Johnson, speaking of Warton's admiration of
fine passages, said:--'His taste is amazement' (misprinted _amusement_).
Windham's _Diary_, p. 20. In her _Memoirs of Dr. Burney_ (ii. 82), Mme.
D'Arblay says that Johnson 'at times, when in gay spirits, would take
off Dr. Warton with the strongest humour; describing, almost
convulsively, the ecstasy with which he would seize upon the person
nearest to him, to hug in his arms, lest his grasp should be eluded,
while he displayed some picture or some prospect.' In that humourous
piece, _Probationary Odes for the Laureateship_ (p. xliii), Dr. Joseph
is made to hug his brother in his arms, when he sees him descend safely
from the balloon in which he had composed his _Ode_. Thomas Warton is
described in the same piece (p. 116) as 'a little, thick, squat,
red-faced man.' There was for some time a coolness between Johnson and
Dr. Warton. Warton, writing on Jan. 22, 1766, says:--'I only dined with
Johnson, who seemed cold and indifferent, and scarce said anything to
me; perhaps he has heard what I said of his _Shakespeare_, or rather was
offended at what I wrote to him--as he pleases.' Wooll's _Warton_, p.
312. Wooll says that a dispute took place between the two men at
Reynolds's house. 'One of the company overheard the following conclusion
of the dispute. JOHNSON. "Sir, I am not used to be contradicted."
WARTON. "Better for yourself and friends, Sir, if you were; our
admiration could not be increased, but our love might."' _Ib_ p. 98.

[116] _The Good-Natured Man_, _post_ p. 45.

[117] 'It has been said that the King only sought one interview with Dr.
Johnson. There was nothing to complain of; it was a compliment paid by
rank to letters, and once was enough. The King was more afraid of this
interview than Dr. Johnson was; and went to it as a schoolboy to his
task. But he did not want to have the trial repeated every day, nor was
it necessary. The very jealousy of his self-love marked his respect; and
if he thought the less of Dr. Johnson, he would have been more willing
to risk the encounter.' Hazlitt's _Conversations of Northcote_, p. 45.
It should seem that Johnson had a second interview with the King
thirteen years later. In 1780, Hannah More records (_Memoirs_, i.
174):--'Johnson told me he had been with the King that morning, who
enjoined him to add Spenser to his _Lives of the Poets_.' It is strange
that, so far as I know, this interview is not mentioned by any one else.
It is perhaps alluded to, _post_, Dec., 1784, when Mr. Nichols told
Johnson that he wished 'he would gratify his sovereign by a _Life of

[118] It is proper here to mention, that when I speak of his
correspondence, I consider it independent of the voluminous collection
of letters which, in the course of many years, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale,
which forms a separate part of his works; and as a proof of the high
estimation set on any thing which came from his pen, was sold by that
lady for the sum of five hundred pounds. BOSWELL.

[119] He was away from the London 'near six months.' See _ante_, ii. 30.

[120] On August 17 he recorded:--'I have communicated with Kitty, and
kissed her. I was for some time distracted, but at last more composed. I
commended my friends, and Kitty, Lucy, and I were much affected. Kitty
is, I think, going to heaven.' _Pr. and Med., p. 75_.

[121] _Pr. and Med_., pp. 77 and 78. BOSWELL.

[122] _Pr. and Med_., p. 73. BOSWELL. On Aug. 17, he recorded:--'By
abstinence from wine and suppers I obtained sudden and great relief, and
had freedom of mind restored to me, which I have wanted for all this
year, without being able to find any means of obtaining it.' _Ib_ p. 74.

[123] Hawkins, in his second edition (p. 347) assigns it to Campbell,
'who,' he says, 'as well for the malignancy of his heart as his terrific
countenance, was called horrible Campbell.'

[124] See _ante_, i. 218.

[125] The book is as dull as it is indecent. The 'drollery' is of the
following kind. Johnson is represented as saying:--'Without dubiety you
misapprehend this dazzling scintillation of conceit in totality, and had
you had that constant recurrence to my oraculous dictionary which was
incumbent upon you from the vehemence of my monitory injunctions,'
&c. p. 2.

[126] _Pr. and Med_., p. 81. BOSWELL. 'This day,' he wrote on his
birthday, 'has been passed in great perturbation; I was distracted at
church in an uncommon degree, and my distress has had very little
intermission.... This day it came into my mind to write the history of
my melancholy. On this I purpose to deliberate; I know not whether it
may not too much disturb me.' See _post_, April 8, 1780.

[127] It is strange that Boswell nowhere quotes the lines in _The
Good-Natured Man_, in which Paoli is mentioned. 'That's from Paoli of
Corsica,' said Lofty. Act v. sc. i.

[128] In the original, 'Pressed _by_.' Boswell, in thus changing the
preposition, forgot what Johnson says in his _Plan of an English
Dictionary_ (_Works_, v. 12):--'We say, according to the present modes
of speech, The soldier died _of_ his wounds, and the sailor perished
_with_ hunger; and every man acquainted with our language would be
offended with a change of these particles, which yet seem originally
assigned by chance.'

[129] Boswell, writing to Temple on March 24, says:--'My book has
amazing celebrity; Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Walpole, Mrs. Macaulay, and Mr.
Garrick have all written me noble letters about it. There are two Dutch
translations going forward.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 145. It met with a
rapid sale. A third edition was called for within a year. Dilly, the
publisher, must have done very well by it, as he purchased the copyright
for one hundred guineas. _Ib_, p. 103. 'Pray read the new account of
Corsica,' wrote Horace Walpole to Gray on Feb. 18, 1768 (_Letters_, v.
85). 'The author is a strange being, and has a rage of knowing everybody
that ever was talked of. He forced himself upon me at Paris in spite of
my teeth and my doors.' To this Gray replied:--'Mr. Boswell's book has
pleased and moved me strangely; all, I mean, that relates to Paoli. He
is a man born two thousand years after his time! The pamphlet proves,
what I have always maintained, that any fool may write a most valuable
book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with
veracity.' In _The Letters of Boswell_ (p. 122) there is the following
under date of Nov. 9, 1767:--'I am always for fixing some period for my
perfection, as far as possible. Let it be when my account of _Corsica_
is published; I shall then have a character which I must support.' In
April 16 of the following year, a few weeks after the book had come out,
he writes:--'To confess to you at once, Temple, I have since my last
coming to town been as wild as ever.' (p. 146.)

[130] Boswell used to put notices of his movements in the newspapers,
such as--'James Boswell, Esq., is expected in town.' _Public
Advertiser_, Feb. 28, 1768. 'Yesterday James Boswell, Esq., arrived from
Scotland at his lodgings in Half-Moon Street, Piccadilly.' _Ib_ March
24, 1768. Prior's _Goldsmith_, i. 449.

[131] Johnson was very ill during this visit. Mrs. Thrale had at the
same time given birth to a daughter, and had been nursed by her mother.
His thoughts, therefore, were turned on illness. Writing to Mrs. Thrale,
he says:--'To roll the weak eye of helpless anguish, and see nothing on
any side but cold indifference, will, I hope, happen to none whom I love
or value; it may tend to withdraw the mind from life, but has no
tendency to kindle those affections which fit us for a purer and a
nobler state.... These reflections do not grow out of any discontent at
C's [Chambers's] behaviour; he has been neither negligent nor
troublesome; nor do I love him less for having been ill in his house.
This is no small degree of praise.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 13.

[132] See _ante_, ii. 3, note.

[133] The editor of the _Letters of Boswell_ justly says (p. 149):--'The
detail in the _Life of Johnson_ is rather scanty about this period;
dissipation, the _History of Corsica_, wife-hunting, ... interfered
perhaps at this time with Boswell's pursuit of Dr. Johnson.'

[134] See _Boswell's_ Hebrides, Aug. 15, 1773, for a discussion of the
same question. Lord Eldon has recorded (_Life_, i. 106), that when he
first went the Northern Circuit (about 1776-1780), he asked Jack Lee
(_post_, March 20, 1778), who was not scrupulous in his advocacy,
whether his method could be justified. 'Oh, yes,' he said, 'undoubtedly.
Dr. Johnson had said that counsel were at liberty to state, as the
parties themselves would state, what it was most for their interest to
state.' After some interval, and when he had had his evening bowl of
milk punch and two or three pipes of tobacco, he suddenly said, 'Come,
Master Scott, let us go to bed. I have been thinking upon the questions
that you asked me, and I am not quite so sure that the conduct you
represented will bring a man peace at the last.' Lord Eldon, after
stating pretty nearly what Johnson had said, continues:--'But it may be
questioned whether even this can be supported.'

[135] Garrick brought out Hugh Kelly's _False Delicacy_ at Drury Lane
six days before Goldsmith's _Good-Natured Man_ was brought out at Covent
Garden. 'It was the town talk,' says Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_,
ii. 93), some weeks before either performance took place, 'that the two
comedies were to be pitted against each other.' _False Delicacy_ had a
great success. Ten thousand copies of it were sold before the season
closed. (_Ib_ p. 96.) 'Garrick's prologue to _False Delicacy_,' writes
Murphy (_Life of Garrick_, p. 287), 'promised a moral and sentimental
comedy, and with an air of pleasantry called it a sermon in five acts.
The critics considered it in the same light, but the general voice was
in favour of the play during a run of near twenty nights. Foote, at
last, by a little piece called _Piety in Pattens_, brought that species
of composition into disrepute.' It is recorded in Johnson's _Works_
(1787), xi. 201, that when some one asked Johnson whether they should
introduce Hugh Kelly to him, 'No, Sir,' says he, 'I never desire to
converse with a man who has written more than he has read.' See _post_,
beginning of 1777.

[136] _The Provoked Husband, or A Journey to London_, by Vanbrugh and
Colley Cibber. It was brought out in 1727-8. See _post_, June 3, 1784.

[137] See _ante_, i. 213.

[138] April 6, 1772, and April 12, 1776.

[139] Richardson, writing on Dec. 7, 1756, to Miss Fielding, about her
Familiar Letters, says:--'What a knowledge of the human heart! Well
might a critical judge of writing say, as he did to me, that your late
brother's knowledge of it was not (fine writer as he was) comparable to
yours. His was but as the knowledge of the outside of a clock-work
machine, while yours was that of all the finer springs and movements of
the inside.' _Richardson Corres_. ii. 104. Mrs. Calderwood, writing of
her visit to the Low Countries in 1756, says:--'All Richison's
[Richardson's] books are translated, and much admired abroad; but for
Fielding's the foreigners have no notion of them, and do not understand
them, as the manners are so entirely English.' _Letters, &c., of Mrs.
Calderwood_, p. 208

[140] In _The Provoked Husband_, act iv. sc. 1.

[141] By Dr. Hoadley, brought out in 1747. 'This was the first good
comedy from the time of _The Provoked Husband_ in 1727.' Murphy's
_Garrick_, p. 78.

[142] Madame Riccoboni, writing to Garrick from Paris on Sept. 7, 1768,
says:--'On ne supporterait point ici l'indecence de Ranger. Les
tresindecens Francaisdeviennent delicats sur leur theatre, a mesure
qu'ils le sont moins dans leur conduite.' _Garrick's Corres_. ii. 548.

[143] 'The question in dispute was as to the heirship of Mr. Archibald
Douglas. If he were really the son of Lady Jane Douglas, he would
inherit large family estates; but if he were supposititious, then they
would descend to the Duke of Hamilton. The Judges of the Court of
Session had been divided in opinion, eight against seven, the Lord
President Dundas giving the casting vote in favour of the Duke of
Hamilton; and in consequence of it he and several other of the judges
had, on the reversal by the Lords, their houses attacked by a mob. It is
said, but not upon conclusive authority, that Boswell himself headed the
mob which broke his own father's windows.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 86.
See _post_, April 27, 1773, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 24-26, 1773.
Mr. J. H. Burton, in his _Life of Hume_ (ii. 150), says:--'Men about to
meet each other in company used to lay an injunction on themselves not
to open their lips on the subject, so fruitful was it in debates and
brawls.' Boswell, according to the Bodleian catalogue, was the author of
_Dorando, A Spanish Tale_, 1767. In this tale the Douglas cause is
narrated under the thinnest disguise. It is reviewed in the _Gent. Mag_.
for 1767, p. 361.

[144] See _post_, under April 19, 1772, March 15, 1779, and June 2,

[145] Revd. Kenneth Macaulay. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 27, 1773.
He was the great-uncle of Lord Macaulay.

[146] Martin, in his _St. Kilda_ (p. 38), had stated that the people of
St. Kilda 'are seldom troubled with a cough, except at the Steward's
landing. I told them plainly,' he continues, 'that I thought all this
notion of infection was but a mere fancy, at which they seemed offended,
saying, that never any before the minister and myself was heard to doubt
of the truth of it, which is plainly demonstrated upon the landing of
every boat.' The usual 'infected cough,' came, he says, upon his visit.
Macaulay (_History of St. Kilda_, p. 204) says that he had gone to the
island a disbeliever, but that by eight days after his arrival all the
inhabitants were infected with this disease. See also _post_, March, 21,
1772, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 2, 1773.

[147] See _ante_, July 1, 1763.

[148] _Post_, March 21, 1772.

[149] This is not the case. Martin (p. 9) says that the only landing
place is inaccessible except under favour of a neap tide, a north-east
or west wind, or with a perfect calm. He himself was rowed to St. Kilda,
'the inhabitants admiring to see us get thither contrary to the wind and
tide' (p. 5).

[150] That for one kind of learning Oxford has no advantages, he shows
in a letter that he wrote there on Aug. 4, 1777. 'I shall inquire,' he
says, 'about the harvest when I come into a region where anything
necessary to life is understood.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 349. At Lichfield
he reached that region. 'My barber, a man not unintelligent, speaks
magnificently of the harvest;' _Ib_ p. 351.

[151] See _post_, Sept. 14, 1777.

[152] See _ante_, i. 116.

[153] The advancement had been very rapid. 'When Dr. Robertson's career
commenced,' writes Dugald Stewart in his _Life_ of that historian (p.
157), 'the trade of authorship was unknown in Scotland.' Smollet, in
_Humphry Clinker_, published three years after this conversation, makes
Mr. Bramble write (Letter of Aug. 8):--'Edinburgh is a hot-bed of
genius. I have had the good fortune to be made acquainted with many
authors of the first distinction; such as the two Humes [David Hume and
John Home, whose names had the same pronunciation], Robertson, Smith,
Wallace, Blair, Ferguson, Wilkie, &c.' To these might be added Smollett
himself, Boswell, Reid, Beattie, Kames, Monboddo. Henry Mackenzie and
Dr. Henry began to publish in 1771. Gibbon, writing to Robertson in
1779, says:--'I have often considered with some sort of envy the
valuable society which you possess in so narrow a compass.' Stewart's
_Robertson_, p. 363.

[154] See _post_, April 30, 1773, where Johnson owned that he had not
read Hume. J.H. Burton (_Life of Hume_, ii. 129), after stating that
'Hume was the first to add to a mere narrative of events an enquiry into
the progress of the people, &c.,' says:--'There seems to be no room for
the supposition that he had borrowed the idea from Voltaire's _Essai sur
les Moeurs_. Hume's own _Political Discourses_ are as close an approach
to this method of inquiry as the work of Voltaire; and if we look for
such productions of other writers as may have led him into this train of
thought, it would be more just to name Bacon and Montesquieu.'

[155] See _post_, May 8 and 13, 1778.

[156] See _post_, April 30, 1773, April 29, 1778, and Oct. 10, 1779.

[157] _An Essay on the Future Life of Brutes_. By Richard Dean, Curate
of Middleton, Manchester, 1767. The 'part of the Scriptures' on which
the author chiefly relies is the _Epistle to the Romans_, viii. 19-23.
He also finds support for his belief in 'those passages in _Isaiah_
where the prophet speaks of new Heavens, and a new Earth, of the Lion as
eating straw like the Ox, &c.' Vol. ii. pp. x, 4.

[158] The words that Addison's Cato uses as he lays his hand on his
sword. Act v. sc. 1.

[159] I should think it impossible not to wonder at the variety of
Johnson's reading, however desultory it may have been. Who could have
imagined that the High Church of England-man would be so prompt in
quoting _Maupertuis_, who, I am sorry to think, stands in the list of
those unfortunate mistaken men, who call themselves _esprits forts_. I
have, however, a high respect for that Philosopher whom the Great
Frederick of Prussia loved and honoured, and addressed pathetically in
one of his Poems,--

'Maupertuis, cher Maupertuis,
Que notre vie est peu de chose!'

There was in Maupertuis a vigour and yet a tenderness of sentiment,
united with strong intellectual powers, and uncommon ardour of soul.
Would he had been a Christian! I cannot help earnestly venturing to hope
that he is one now. BOSWELL. Voltaire writing to D'Alembert on Aug. 25,
1759, says:--'Que dites-vous de Maupertuis, mort entre deux capucins?'
Voltaire's _Works_, lxii. 94. The stanza from which Boswell quotes is as

'O Maupertuis, cher Maupertuis,
Que notre vie est peu de chose!
Cette fleur, qui brille aujourd'hui
Demain se fane a peine eclose;
Tout perit, tout est emporte
Par la dure fatalite
Des arrtes de la destinee;
Votre vertu, vos grands talents
Ne pourront obtenir du temps
Le seul delai d'une journee.'
_La vie est un Songe. Euvres de
Frederic II (edit. 1849), x. 40.

[160] Johnson does not give _Conglobulate_ in his _Dictionary_; only
_conglobe_. If he used the word it is not likely that he said
'conglobulate _together_.'

[161] Gilbert White, writing on Nov. 4, 1767, after mentioning that he
had seen swallows roosting in osier-beds by the river, says:--'This
seems to give some countenance to the northern opinion (strange as it
is) of their retiring under water.' White's _Selborne_, Letter xii. See
also _post_, May 7, 1773.

[162] _Travels from St. Petersburgh in Russia to divers parts of Asia_.
By John Bell, Glasgow, 1763: 4to. 2 vols.

[163] I. D'Israeli (_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, i. 194) ranks
this book among Literary Impostures. 'Du Halde never travelled ten
leagues from Paris in his life; though he appears by his writings to be
familiar with Chinese scenery.' See _ante_, i. 136.

[164] See _post_, Oct. 10, 1779.

[165] Boswell, in his correspondence with Temple in 1767 and 1768,
passes in review the various ladies whom he proposes to marry. The lady
described in this paragraph--for the 'gentleman' is clearly Boswell--is
'the fair and lively Zelide,' a Dutch-woman. She was translating his
_Corsica_ into French. On March 24, 1768, he wrote, 'I must have her.'
On April 26, he asked his father's permission to go over to Holland to
see her. But on May 14 he forwarded to Temple one of her letters.
'Could,' he said, 'any actress at any of the theatres attack me with a
keener--what is the word? not fury, something softer. The lightning that
flashes with so much brilliance may scorch, and does not her esprit do
so?' _Letters of Boswell_, pp. 144-150.

[166] In the original it is _some_ not _many_. Johnson's _Works_, vii.

[167] _An account of the Manners and Customs of Italy_, by Joseph
Baretti, London, 1768. The book would be still more entertaining were it
not written as a reply to Sharp's _Letters on Italy_. _Post_ under
April 29, 1776.

[168] Mrs. Piozzi wrote of him: 'His character is easily seen, and his
soul above disguise, haughty and insolent, and breathing defiance
against all mankind; while his powers of mind exceed most people's, and
his powers of purse are so slight that they leave him dependent on all.
Baretti is for ever in the state of a stream damned up; if he could once
get loose, he would bear down all before him.' Hayward's _Piozzi_,
ii. 335.

[169] According to Hawkins (_Life_, p. 460), the watch was new this
year, and was, he believed, the first Johnson ever had.

[170] _St. John_, ix. 4. In _Pr. and Med_., p. 233, is the
following:--'Ejaculation imploring diligence. "O God, make me to
remember that the night cometh when no man can work."' Porson, in his
witty attack on Sir John Hawkins, originally published in the _Gent.
Mag_. for 1787, quotes the inscription as a proof of Hawkins's Greek.
'_Nux gar erchetai_. The meaning is (says Sir John) _For the night
cometh_. And so it is, Mr. Urban.' Porson _Tracts_, p. 337.

[171] He thus wrote of himself from Oxford to Mrs. Thrale:--'This little
dog does nothing, but I hope he will mend; he is now reading _Jack the
Giant-killer_. Perhaps so noble a narrative may rouse in him the soul of
enterprise.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 9.

[172] See _ante_, ii. 3

[173] Under the same date, Boswell thus begins a letter to
Temple:--'Your moral lecture came to me yesterday in very good time,
while I lay suffering severely for immorality. If there is any firmness
at all in me, be assured that I shall never again behave in a manner so
unworthy the friend of Paoli. My warm imagination looks forward with
great complacency on the sobriety, the healthfulness, and the worth of
my future life.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 147

[174] Johnson so early as Aug. 21, 1766, had given him the same advice
(_ante_, ii. 22). How little Boswell followed it is shewn by his letter
to the Earl of Chatham, on April 8, 1767, in which he informed him of
his intention to publish his _Corsica_, and concluded:--'Could your
Lordship find time to honour me now and then with a letter? I have been
told how favourably your Lordship has spoken of me. To correspond with a
Paoli and with a Chatham is enough to keep a young man ever ardent in
the pursuit of virtuous fame.' _Chatham Corres_., iii. 246. On the same
day on which he wrote to Johnson, he said in a letter to Temple, 'Old
General Oglethorpe, who has come to see me, and is with me often, just
on account of my book, bids me not marry till I have first put the
Corsicans in a proper situation. "You may make a fortune in the doing of
it," said he; "or, if you do not, you will have acquired such a
character as will entitle you to any fortune."' _Letters of Boswell_, p.
148. Four months later, Boswell wrote:--'By a private subscription in
Scotland, I am sending this week L700 worth of ordnance [to Corsica] ...
It is really a tolerable train of artillery.' _Ib_ p. 156. In 1769 he
brought out a small volume entitled _British Essays in favour of the
Brave Corsicans. By Several Hands_. Collected and published by James
Boswell, Esq.

[175] From about the beginning of the fourteenth century, Corsica had
belonged to the Republic of Genoa. In the great rising under Paoli, the
Corsicans would have achieved their independence, had not Genoa ceded
the island to the crown of France.

[176] Boswell, writing to Temple on May 14 of this year, says:--'I am
really the _great man_ now. I have had David Hume in the forenoon, and
Mr. Johnson in the afternoon of the same day, visiting me. Sir J.
Pringle and Dr. Franklin dined with me to-day; and Mr. Johnson and
General Oglethorpe one day, Mr. Garrick alone another, and David Hume
and some more _literati_ another, dine with me next week. I give
admirable dinners and good claret; and the moment I go abroad again,
which will be in a day or two, I set up my chariot. This is enjoying the
fruit of my labours, and appearing like the friend of Paoli.' _Letters
of Boswell_, p. 151.

[177] See _post_, April 12, 1778, and May 8, 1781.

[178] The talk arose no doubt from the general election that had just
been held amid all the excitement about Wilkes. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_,
iii. 307), in a letter dated April 16, 1768, describes the riots in
London. He had seen 'the mob requiring gentlemen and ladies of all ranks
as they passed in their carriages, to shout for Wilkes and liberty,
marking the same words on all their coaches with chalk, and No. 45 on
every door. I went last week to Winchester, and observed that for
fifteen miles out of town there was scarce a door or window shutter next
the road unmarked; and this continued here and there quite to

[179] In his _Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage_, he thus
writes:--'If I might presume to advise them [the Ministers] upon this
great affair, I should dissuade them from any direct attempt upon the
liberty of the press, which is the darling of the common people, and
therefore cannot be attacked without immediate danger.' _Works_, v. 344.
On p. 191 of the same volume, he shows some of the benefits that arise
in England from 'the boundless liberty with which every man may write
his own thoughts.' See also in his _Life of Milton_, the passage about
_Areopagitica_, _Ib_ vii. 82. The liberty of the press was likely to be
'a constant topic.' Horace Walpole (_Memoirs of the Reign of George
III_, ii. 15), writing of the summer of 1764, says:--'Two hundred
informations were filed against printers; a larger number than had been
prosecuted in the whole thirty-three years of the last reign.'

[180] 'The sun has risen, and the corn has grown, and, whatever talk has
been of the danger of property, yet he that ploughed the field commonly
reaped it, and he that built a house was master of the door; the
vexation excited by injustice suffered, or supposed to be suffered, by
any private man, or single community, was local and temporary; it
neither spread far nor lasted long.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 170. See
also _post_, March 31, 1772. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, iii. 215) wrote to
the Abbe Morellet, on April 22, 1787:--'Nothing can be better expressed
than your sentiments are on this point, where you prefer liberty of
trading, cultivating, manufacturing, &c., even to civil liberty, this
being affected but rarely, the other every hour.'

[181] See _ante_, July 6, 1763.

[182] See _ante_, Oct. 1765.

[183] 'I was diverted with Paoli's English library. It consisted
of:--Some broken volumes of the _Spectatour_ and _Tatler_; Pope's _Essay
on Man_; _Gulliver's Travels_; A _History of France_ in old English; and
Barclay's _Apology for the Quakers_. I promised to send him some English
books... I have sent him some of our best books of morality and
entertainment, in particular the works of Mr. Samuel Johnson.' Boswell's
_Corsica_, p. 169.

[184] Johnson, as Boswell believed, only once 'in the whole course of
his life condescended to oppose anything that was written against him.'
(See _ante_, i. 314.) In this he followed the rule of Bentley and of
Boerhaave. 'It was said to old Bentley, upon the attacks against him,
"why, they'll write you down." "No, Sir," he replied; "depend upon it,
no man was ever written down but by himself."' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Oct. 1 1773. Bentley shewed prudence in his silence. 'He was right,'
Johnson said, 'not to answer; for, in his hazardous method of writing,
he could not but be often enough wrong.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 10,
1773. 'Boerhaave was never soured by calumny and detraction, nor ever
thought it necessary to confute them; "for they are sparks," said he,
"which, if you do not blow them, will go out of themselves."' Johnson's
_Works_, vi. 288. Swift, in his _Lines on Censure_ which begin,--

'Ye wise instruct me to endure
An evil which admits no cure.'

ends by saying:--

'The most effectual way to baulk
Their malice is--to let them talk.'
Swift's _Works_, xi. 58.

Young, in his _Second Epistle to Pope_, had written:--

'Armed with this truth all critics I defy;
For if I fall, by my own pen I die.'

Hume, in his _Auto_. (p. ix.) says:--'I had a fixed resolution, which I
inflexibly maintained, never to reply to any body.' This is not quite
true. See J. H. Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 252, for an instance of a
violent reply. The following passages in Johnson's writings are to the
same effect:--'I am inclined to believe that few attacks either of
ridicule or invective make much noise, but by the help of those that
they provoke.' _Piozzi Letters_ ii. 289. 'It is very rarely that an
author is hurt by his critics. The blaze of reputation cannot be blown
out, but it often dies in the socket.' _Ib_ p. 110. 'The writer who
thinks his works formed for duration mistakes his interest when he
mentions his enemies. He degrades his own dignity by shewing that he was
affected by their censures, and gives lasting importance to names,
which, left to themselves would vanish from remembrance.' Johnson's
_Works_, vii. 294. 'If it had been possible for those who were attacked
to conceal their pain and their resentment, the _Dunciad_ might have
made its way very slowly in the world.' _Ib_ viii. 276. Hawkins (_Life
of Johnson_, p. 348) says that, 'against personal abuse Johnson was ever
armed by a reflection that I have heard him utter:--"Alas! reputation
would be of little worth, were it in the power of every concealed enemy
to deprive us of it."' In his _Parl. Debates_ (_Works_, x. 359), Johnson
makes Mr. Lyttelton say:--'No man can fall into contempt but those who
deserve it.' Addison in _The Freeholder_, No. 40, says, that 'there is
not a more melancholy object in the learned world than a man who has
written himself down.' See also Boswell's _Hebrides_, near the end.

[185] Barber had entered Johnson's service in 1752 (_ante_, i. 239).
Nine years before this letter was written he had been a sailor on board
a frigate (_ante_, i. 348), so that he was somewhat old for a boy.

[186] Boswell, writing to Temple on May 14 of this year; says:--'Dr.
Robertson is come up laden with his _Charles V_.--three large quartos;
he has been offered three thousand guineas for it.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p. 152.

[187] In like manner the professors at Aberdeen and Glasgow seemed
afraid to speak in his presence. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug 23 and
Oct 29, 1773. See also _post_, April 20, 1778.

[188] See _ante_, July 28, 1763.

[189] Johnson, in inserting this letter, says (Works, viii. 374):--'I
communicate it with much pleasure, as it gives me at once an opportunity
of recording the fraternal kindness of Thomson, and reflecting on the
friendly assistance of Mr. Boswell, from whom I received it.' See
_post_, July 9, 1777, and June 18, 1778.

[190] Murphy, in his _Life of Garrick_, p. 183, says that Garrick once
brought Dr. Munsey--so he writes the name--to call on him. 'Garrick
entered the dining-room, and turning suddenly round, ran to the door,
and called out, "Dr. Munsey, where are you going?" "Up stairs to see the
author," said Munsey. "Pho! pho! come down, the author is here." Dr.
Munsey came, and, as he entered the room, said in his free way, "You
scoundrel! I was going up to the garret. Who could think of finding an
author on the first floor?"' Mrs. Montagu wrote to Lord Lyttelton from
Tunbridge in 1760:--'The great Monsey (_sic_) came hither on Friday ...
He is great in the coffee-house, great in the rooms, and great on the
pantiles.' _Montagu Letters_, iv. 291. In Rogers's _Table-Talk_, p. 271,
there is a curious account of him.

[191] See _ante_, July 26, 1763.

[192] My respectable friend, upon reading this passage, observed, that
he probably must have said not simply, 'strong facts,' but 'strong facts
well arranged.' His lordship, however, knows too well the value of
written documents to insist on setting his recollection against my notes
taken at the time. He does not attempt to _traverse_ the record. The
fact, perhaps, may have been, either that the additional words escaped
me in the noise of a numerous company, or that Dr. Johnson, from his
impetuosity, and eagerness to seize an opportunity to make a lively
retort, did not allow Dr. Douglas to finish his sentence. BOSWELL.

[193] 'It is boasted that between November [1712] and January, eleven
thousand [of _The Conduct of the Allies_] were sold.... Yet surely
whoever surveys this wonder-working pamphlet with cool perusal, will
confess that it's efficacy was supplied by the passions of its readers;
that it operates by the mere weight of facts, with very little
assistance from the hand that produced them.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 203.

[194] 'Every great man, of whatever kind be his greatness, has among his
friends those who officiously or insidiously quicken his attention to
offences, heighten his disgust, and stimulate his resentment.' _Ib_
viii 266.

[195] See the hard drawing of him in Churchill's _Rosciad_. BOSWELL. See
_ante_, i. 391, note 2.

[196] For _talk_, see _post_, under March 30 1783.

[197] See _post_, Oct. 6, 1769, and May 8, 1778, where Johnson tosses

[198] See _post_, Sept. 22, 1777, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. i,

[199] See _post_, Nov. 27, 1773, note, April 7, 1775, and under May 8,

[200] He wrote the character of Mr. Mudge. See _post_, under March 20,

[201] 'Sept. 18, 1769. This day completes the sixtieth year of my
age.... The last year has been wholly spent in a slow progress of
recovery.' _Pr. and Med_. p. 85.

[202] In which place he has been succeeded by Bennet Langton, Esq. When
that truly religious gentleman was elected to this honorary
Professorship, at the same time that Edward Gibbon, Esq., noted for
introducing a kind of sneering infidelity into his Historical Writings,
was elected Professor in Ancient History, in the room of Dr. Goldsmith,
I observed that it brought to my mind, 'Wicked Will Whiston and good Mr.
Ditton.' I am now also of that admirable institution as Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence, by the favour of the Academicians, and the
approbation of the Sovereign. BOSWELL. Goldsmith, writing to his brother
in Jan., 1770, said:--'The King has lately been pleased to make me
Professor of Ancient History in a Royal Academy of Painting, which he
has just established, but there is no salary annexed, and I took it
rather as a compliment to the institution than any benefit to myself.
Honours to one in my situation are something like ruffles to one that
wants a shirt.' Prior's _Goldsmith_, ii. 221. 'Wicked Will Whiston,'
&c., comes from Swift's _Ode for Music, On the Longitude_ (Swift's
_Works_, ed. 1803, xxiv. 39), which begins,--

'The longitude miss'd on
By wicked Will Whiston;
And not better hit on
By good Master Ditton.'

It goes on so grossly and so offensively as regards one and the other,
that Boswell's comparison was a great insult to Langton as well as
to Gibbon.

[203] It has this inscription in a blank leaf:--'_Hunc librum D.D.
Samuel Johnson, eo quod hic loci studiis interdum vacaret_.' Of this
library, which is an old Gothick room, he was very fond. On my observing
to him that some of the _modern_ libraries of the University were more
commodious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he
replied, 'Sir, if a man has a mind to _prance_, he must study at
Christ-Church and All-Souls.' BOSWELL.

[204] During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to be
deeply engaged in some literary work. Miss Williams was now with him at
Oxford. BOSWELL. It was more likely the state of his health which kept
him at home. Writing from Oxford on June 27 of this year to Mrs. Thrale,
who had been ill, he says:--'I will not increase your uneasiness with
mine. I hope I grow better. I am very cautious and very timorous.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 21.

[205] Boswell wrote a letter, signed with his own name, to the _London
Magazine_ for 1769 (p. 451) describing the Jubilee. It is followed by a
print of himself 'in the dress of an armed Corsican chief,' and by an
account, no doubt written by himself. It says:--'Of the most remarkable
masks upon this occasion was James Boswell, Esq., in the dress of an
armed Corsican chief. He entered the amphitheatre about twelve o'clock.
On the front of his cap was embroidered in gold letters, _Viva La
Liberta_; and on one side of it was a handsome blue feather and cockade,
so that it had an elegant, as well as a warlike appearance. He wore no
mask, saying that it was not proper for a gallant Corsican. So soon as
he came into the room he drew universal attention.' Cradock (_Memoirs_,
i. 217) gives a melancholy account of the festival. The preparations
were all behind-hand and the weather was stormy. 'There was a masquerade
in the evening, and all zealous friends endeavoured to keep up the
spirit of it as long as they could, till they were at last informed that
the Avon was rising so very fast that no delay could be admitted. The
ladies of our party were conveyed by planks from the building to the
coach, and found that the wheels had been two feet deep in water.'
Garrick in 1771 was asked by the Stratford committee to join them in
celebrating a Jubilee every year, as 'the most likely method to promote
the interest and reputation of their town.' Boswell caught at the
proposal eagerly, and writing to Garrick said:--'I please myself with
the prospect of attending you at several more Jubilees at
Stratford-upon-Avon.' _Garrick Corres_. i. 414, 435.

[206] Garrick's correspondents not seldom spoke disrespectfully of
Johnson. Thus, Mr. Sharp, writing to him in 1769, talks of 'risking the
sneer of one of Dr. Johnson's ghastly smiles.' _Ib_ i. 334. Dr. J.
Hoadly, in a letter dated July 25, 1775, says:--'Mr. Good-enough has
written a kind of parody of Puffy Pensioner's _Taxation no Tyranny_,
under the noble title of _Resistance no Rebellion_.' _Ib_ ii. 68.

[207] See ante, i. 181.

[208] In the Preface to my _Account of Corsica_, published in 1768, I
thus express myself:

'He who publishes a book affecting not to be an authour, and professing
an indifference for literary fame, may possibly impose upon many people
such an idea of his consequence as he wishes may be received. For my
part, I should be proud to be known as an authour, and I have an ardent
ambition for literary fame; for, of all possessions, I should imagine
literary fame to be the most valuable. A man who has been able to
furnish a book, which has been approved by the world, has established
himself as a respectable character in distant society, without any
danger of having that character lessened by the observation of his
weaknesses. To preserve an uniform dignity among those who see us every
day, is hardly possible; and to aim at it, must put us under the fetters
of perpetual restraint. The authour of an approved book may allow his
natural disposition an easy play, and yet indulge the pride of superior
genius, when he considers that by those who know him only as an authour,
he never ceases to be respected. Such an authour, when in his hours of
gloom and discontent, may have the consolation to think, that his
writings are, at that very time, giving pleasure to numbers; and such an
authour may cherish the hope of being remembered after death, which has
been a great object to the noblest minds in all ages.' BOSWELL. His
preface to the third edition thus ends:--'When I first ventured to send
this book into the world, I fairly owned an ardent desire for literary
fame. I have obtained my desire: and whatever clouds may overcast my
days, I can now walk here among the rocks and woods of my ancestors,
with an agreeable consciousness that I have done something worthy.' The
dedication of the first edition and the preface of the third are both
dated Oct. 29--one 1767, and the other 1768. Oct. 29 was his birthday.

[209] Paoli's father had been one of the leaders of the Corsicans in
their revolt against Genoa in 1734. Paoli himself was chosen by them as
their General-in-chief in 1755. In 1769 the island was conquered by the
French. He escaped in an English ship, and settled in England. Here he
stayed till 1789, when Mirabeau moved in the National Assembly the
recall of all the Corsican patriots. Paoli was thereupon appointed by
Louis XVI. Lieutenant-general and military commandant in Corsica. He
resisted the violence of the Convention, and was, in consequence,
summoned before it. Refusing to obey, an expedition was sent to arrest
him. Napoleon Buonaparte fought in the French army, but Paoli's party
proved the stronger. The islanders sought the aid of Great Britain, and
offered the crown of Corsica to George III. The offer was accepted, but
by an act of incredible folly, not Paoli, but Sir Gilbert Eliot, was
made Viceroy. Paoli returned to England, where he died in 1807, at the
age of eighty-two. In 1796 Corsica was abandoned by the English. By the
Revolution it ceased to be a conquered province, having been formally
declared an integral part of France. At the present day the Corsicans
are proud of being citizens of that great country; no less proud,
however, are they of Pascal Paoli, and of the gallant struggle for
independence of their forefathers.

[210] According to the _Ann. Reg_. (xii. 132) Paoli arrived in London on
Sept. 21. He certainly was in London on Oct. 10, for on that day he was
presented by Boswell to Johnson. Yet Wesley records in his _Journal_
(iii. 370) on Oct. 13:--'I very narrowly missed meeting the great Pascal
Paoli. He landed in the dock [at Portsmouth] but a very few minutes
after I left the waterside. Surely He who hath been with him from his
youth up hath not sent him into England for nothing.' In the _Public
Advertiser_ for Oct. 4 there is the following entry, inserted no doubt
by Boswell:--'On Sunday last General Paoli, accompanied by James
Boswell, Esq., took an airing in Hyde Park in his coach.' Priors
_Goldsmith_, i. 450. Horace Walpole writes:--'Paoli's character had been
so advantageously exaggerated by Mr. Boswell's enthusiastic and
entertaining account of him, that the Opposition were ready to
incorporate him in the list of popular tribunes. The Court artfully
intercepted the project; and deeming patriots of all nations equally
corruptible, bestowed a pension of L1000 a year on the unheroic
fugitive.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iii. 387.

[211] Johnson, writes Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_., p. 228), ridiculed a friend
'who, looking out on Streatham Common from our windows, lamented the
enormous wickedness of the times, because some bird-catchers were busy
there one fine Sunday morning. "While half the Christian world is
permitted," said Johnson, "to dance and sing and celebrate Sunday as a
day of festivity, how comes your puritanical spirit so offended with
frivolous and empty deviations from exactness? Whoever loads life with
unnecessary scruples, Sir," continued he, "provokes the attention of
others on his conduct, and incurs the censure of singularity, without
reaping the reward of superior virtue."' See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 20, 1773.

[212] The first edition of Hume's _History of England_ was full of
Scotticisms, many of which he corrected in subsequent editions. MALONE.
According to Mr. J. H. Burton (_Life of Hume_, ii. 79), 'He appears to
have earnestly solicited the aid of Lyttelton, Mallet, and others, whose
experience of English composition might enable them to detect
Scotticisms.' Mr. Burton gives instances of alterations made in the
second edition. He says also that 'in none of his historical or
philosophical writings does any expression used by him, unless in those
cases where a Scotticism has escaped his vigilance, betray either the
district or the county of his origin.' _Ib_ i. 9. Hume was shown in
manuscript Reid's _Inquiry into the Human Mind_. Though it was an attack
on his own philosophy, yet in reading it 'he kept,' he says, 'a watchful
eye all along over the style,' so that he might point out any
Scotticisms. _Ib_ ii. 154. Nevertheless, as Dugald Stewart says in his
_Life of Robertson_ (p. 214), 'Hume fails frequently both in purity and
grammatical correctness.' Even in his later letters I have noticed

[213] In 1763 Wilkes, as author of _The North Briton_, No. 45, had been
arrested on 'a general warrant directed to four messengers to take up
any persons without naming or describing them with any certainty, and to
bring them, together with their papers.' Such a warrant as this Chief
Justice Pratt (Lord Camden) declared to be 'unconstitutional, illegal,
and absolutely void.' _Ann. Reg_. vi. 145.

[214] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 24, 1773.

[215] In the Spring of this year, at a meeting of the electors of
Southwark, 'instructions' had been presented to Mr. Thrale and his
brother-member, of which the twelfth was:--'That you promote a bill for
shortening the duration of Parliaments.' _Gent. Mag_. xxxix. 162.

[216] This paradox Johnson had exposed twenty-nine years earlier, in his
_Life of Sir Francis Drake_, _Works_, vi. 366. In _Rasselas_, chap. xi.,
he considers also the same question. Imlac is 'inclined to conclude
that, if nothing counteracts the natural consequence of learning, we
grow more happy as our minds take a wider range.' He then enumerates the
advantages which civilisation confers on the Europeans. 'They are surely
happy,' said the prince, 'who have all these conveniences.' 'The
Europeans,' answered Imlac, 'are less unhappy than we, but they are not
happy. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured
and little to be enjoyed.' Writing to Mrs. Thrale from Skye, Johnson
said: 'The traveller wanders through a naked desert, gratified
sometimes, but rarely, with the sight of cows, and now and then finds a
heap of loose stones and turf in a cavity between rocks, where a being
born with all those powers which education expands, and all those
sensations which culture refines, is condemned to shelter itself from
the wind and rain. Philosophers there are who try to make themselves
believe that this life is happy, but they believe it only while they are
saying it, and never yet produced conviction in a single mind.' _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 150. See _post_, April 21 and May 7, 1773, April 26, 1776,
and June 15, 1784.

[217] James Burnet, a Scotch Lord of Session, by the title of Lord
Monboddo. 'He was a devout believer in the virtues of the heroic ages,
and the deterioration of civilised mankind; a great contemner of
luxuries, insomuch that he never used a wheel carriage.' WALTER SCOTT,
quoted in Croker's _Boswell_, p. 227. There is some account of him in
Chambers's _Traditions of Edinburgh_, ii. 175. In his _Origin of
Language_, to which Boswell refers in his next note, after praising
Henry Stephen for his _Greek Dictionary_, he continues:--'But to compile
a dictionary of a barbarous language, such as all the modern are
compared with the learned, is a work which a man of real genius, rather
than undertake, would choose to die of hunger, the most cruel, it is
said, of all deaths. I should, however, have praised this labour of
Doctor Johnson's more, though of the meanest kind,' &c. Monboddo's
_Origin of Language_, v. 274. On p. 271, he says:--'Dr. Johnson was the
most invidious and malignant man I have ever known.' See _post_, March
21, 1772, May 8, 1773, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 21, 1773.

[218] His Lordship having frequently spoken in an abusive manner of Dr.
Johnson, in my company, I on one occasion during the life-time of my
illustrious friend could not refrain from retaliation, and repeated to
him this saying. He has since published I don't know how many pages in
one of his curious books, attempting, in much anger, but with pitiful
effect, to persuade mankind that my illustrious friend was not the great
and good man which they esteemed and ever will esteem him to

[219] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 108) says:--'Mr. Johnson was indeed
unjustly supposed to be a lover of singularity. Few people had a more
settled reverence for the world than he, or was less captivated by new
modes of behaviour introduced, or innovations on the long-received
customs of common life.' In writing to Dr. Taylor to urge him to take a
certain course, he says:--'This I would have you do, not in compliance
with solicitation or advice, but as a justification of yourself to the
world; _the world has always a right to be regarded_.' _Notes and
Queries_, 6th S. v. 343. In _The Adventurer_, No. 131, he has a paper on
'Singularities.' After quoting Fontenelle's observation on Newton that
'he was not distinguished from other men by any singularity, either
natural or affected,' he goes on:--'Some may be found who, supported by
the consciousness of great abilities, and elevated by a long course of
reputation and applause, voluntarily consign themselves to singularity,
affect to cross the roads of life because they know that they shall not
be jostled, and indulge a boundless gratification of will, because they
perceive that they shall be quietly obeyed.... Singularity is, I think,
in its own nature universally and invariably displeasing.' Writing of
Swift, he says (_Works_, viii. 223):--'Whatever he did, he seemed
willing to do in a manner peculiar to himself, without sufficiently
considering that singularity, as it implies a contempt of the general
practice, is a kind of defiance which justly provokes the hostility of
ridicule; he, therefore, who indulges peculiar habits is worse than
others, if he be not better.' See _ante_, Oct. 1765, the record in his
_Journal_:--'At church. To avoid all singularity.'

[220] 'He had many other particularities, for which he gave sound and
philosophical reasons. As this humour still grew upon him he chose to
wear a turban instead of a periwig; concluding very justly that a
bandage of clean linen about his head was much more wholesome, as well
as cleanly, than the caul of a wig, which is soiled with frequent
perspirations.' _Spectator_, No. 576.

[221] See _post_, June 28, 1777, note.

[222] 'Depend upon it,' he said, 'no woman is the worse for sense and
knowledge.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 19; 1773--See, however, _post_,
1780, in Mr. Langton's Collection, where he says:--'Supposing a wife to
be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome'


'Though Artemisia talks by fits
Of councils, classics, fathers, wits;
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke:
Yet in some things, methinks she fails;
'Twere well if she would pare her nails,
And wear a cleaner smock.'

SWIFT. _Imitation of English Poets, Works_, xxiv. 6.

[224] _A Wife_, a poem, 1614. BOSWELL.

[225] In the original _that_.

[226] What a succession of compliments was paid by Johnson's old
school-fellow, whom he met a year or two later in Lichfield, who 'has
had, as he phrased it, _a matter of four wives_, for which' added
Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'neither you nor I like him much the better.'
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 41.

[227] Mr. Langton married the widow of the Earl of Rothes; _post_, March
20, 1771.

[228] Horace Walpole, writing of 1764, says:--'As one of my objects was
to raise the popularity of our party, I had inserted a paragraph in the
newspapers observing that the abolition of vails to servants had been
set on foot by the Duke of Bedford, and had been opposed by the Duke of
Devonshire. Soon after a riot happened at Ranelagh, in which the footmen
mobbed and ill-treated some gentlemen who had been active in that
reformation.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, ii. 3.


'Alexis shunned his fellow swains,
Their rural sports and jocund strains,
(Heaven guard us all from Cupid's bow!)
He lost his crook, he left his flocks;
And wandering through the lonely rocks,
He nourished endless woe.'

_The Despairing Shepherd_.

[230] 'In his amorous effusions Prior is less happy; for they are not
dictated by nature or by passion, and have neither gallantry nor
tenderness. They have the coldness of Cowley without his wit, the dull
exercises of a skilful versifier, resolved at all adventures to write
something about Chloe, and trying to be amorous by dint of study.... In
his private relaxation he revived the tavern, and in his amorous
pedantry he exhibited the college.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 15, 22.

[231] _Florizel and Perdita_ is Garrick's version of _The Winters Tale_.
He cut down the five acts to three. The line, which is misquoted, is in
one of Perdita's songs:--

'That giant ambition we never can dread;
Our roofs are too low for so lofty a head;
Content and sweet cheerfulness open our door,
They smile with the simple, and feed with the poor.'

Act ii. sc. 1.

[232] Horace. _Sat_. i. 4. 34.

[233] See _ante_, ii. 66.

[234] Horace Walpole told Malone that 'he was about twenty-two
[twenty-four] years old when his father retired; and that he remembered
his offering one day to read to him, finding that time hung heavy on his
hands. "What," said he, "will you read, child?" Mr. Walpole, considering
that his father had long been engaged in public business, proposed to
read some history. "No," said he, "don't read history to me; that can't
be true."' Prior's _Malone_, p. 387. See also _post_, April 30, 1773,
and Oct. 10, 1779.

[235] See _ante_, i 75, _post_, Oct 12, 1779, and Boswell's _Hebrides_,
August 15, 1773. Boswell himself had met Whitefield; for mentioning him
in his _Letter to the People of Scotland_ (p. 25), he adds:--'Of whose
pious and animated society I had some share.' Southey thus describes
Whitefield in his _Life of Wesley_ (i. 126):--'His voice excelled both
in melody and compass, and its fine modulations were happily accompanied
by that grace of action which he possessed in an eminent degree, and
which has been said to be the chief requisite of an orator. An ignorant
man described his eloquence oddly but strikingly, when he said that Mr.
Whitefield preached like a lion. So strange a comparison conveyed no
unapt a notion of the force and vehemence and passion of that oratory
which awed the hearers, and made them tremble like Felix before the
apostle.' Benjamin Franklin writes (_Memoirs_, i. 163):--'Mr.
Whitefield's eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses
of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance.' He happened to be
present at a sermon which, he perceived, was to finish with a collection
for an object which had not his approbation. 'I silently resolved he
should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper
money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he
proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another
stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give
the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly
into the collector's dish, gold and all.'

[236] 'What an idea may we not form of an interview between such a
scholar and philosopher as Mr. Johnson, and such a legislatour and
general as Paoli.' Boswell's _Corsica_, p. 198.

[237] Mr. Stewart, who in 1768 was sent on a secret mission to Paoli, in
his interesting report says:--'Religion seems to sit easy upon Paoli,
and notwithstanding what his historian Boswell relates, I take him to be
very free in his notions that way. This I suspect both from the strain
of his conversation, and from what I have learnt of his conduct towards
the clergy and monks.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, ii. 158. See _post_,
April 14, 1775, where Johnson said:--'Sir, there is a great cry about
infidelity; but there are in reality very few infidels.' Yet not long
before he had complained of an 'inundation of impiety.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 30, 1773.

[238] I suppose Johnson said atmosphere. CROKER. In _Humphry Clinker_,
in the Letter of June 2, there is, however, a somewhat similar use of
the word. Lord Bute is described as 'the Caledonian luminary, that
lately blazed so bright in our hemisphere; methinks, at present, it
glimmers through a fog.' A star, however, unlike a cloud, may pass from
one hemisphere to the other.

[239] See _post_, under Nov. 5, 1775. Hannah More, writing in 1782
(_Memoirs_, i. 242), says:--'Paoli will not talk in English, and his
French is mixed with Italian. He speaks no language with purity.'

[240] Horace Walpole writes:--'Paoli had as much ease as suited a
prudence that seemed the utmost effort of a wary understanding, and was
so void of anything remarkable in his aspect, that being asked if I knew
who it was, I judged him a Scottish officer (for he was
sandy-complexioned and in regimentals), who was cautiously awaiting the
moment of promotion.' _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_, iii. 387

[241] Boswell introduced this subject often. See _post_, Oct. 26, 1769,
April 15, 1778, March 14, 1781, and June 23, 1784. Like Milton's fallen
angels, he 'found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.' _Paradise Lost_,
ii. 561.

[242] 'To this wretched being, himself by his own misconduct lashed out
of human society, the stage was indebted for several very pure and
pleasing entertainments; among them, _Love in a Village_, _The Maid of
the Mill_.' Forster's _Goldsmith_, ii. 136. 'When,' says Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anec_. p. 168), 'Mr. Bickerstaff's flight confirmed the report of his
guilt, and my husband said in answer to Johnson's astonishment, that he
had long been a suspected man: "By those who look close to the ground
dirt will be seen, Sir, (was his lofty reply); I hope I see things from
a greater distance."' In the _Garrick Corres_ (i. 473) is a piteous
letter in bad French, written from St. Malo, by Bickerstaff to Garrick,
endorsed by Garrick, 'From that poor wretch Bickerstaff: I could not
answer it.'

[243] Boswell, only a couple of years before he published _The Life of
Johnson_, in fact while he was writing it, had written to Temple:--'I
was the _great man_ (as we used to say) at the late Drawing-room, in a
suit of imperial blue, lined with rose-coloured silk, and ornamented
with rich gold-wrought buttons.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 289.

[244] Miss Reynolds, in her _Recollections_ (Croker's _Boswell_, p.
831), says, 'One day at Sir Joshua Reynolds's Goldsmith was relating
with great indignation an insult he had just received from some
gentleman he had accidentally met. "The fellow," he said, "took me for a
tailor!" on which all the company either laughed aloud or showed they
suppressed a laugh.'

[245] In Prior's _Goldsmith_, ii. 232, is given Filby's Bill for a suit
of clothes sent to Goldsmith this very day:--

Oct. 16.-- L s. d.
To making a half-dress
suit of ratteen, lined
with satin 12 12 0
To a pair of silk stocking
breeches 2 5 0
To a pair of _bloom-coloured
ditto 1 4 6

Nothing is said in this bill of the colour of the coat; it is the
breeches that are bloom-coloured. The tailor's name was William, not
John, Filby; _Ib_ i. 378, Goldsmith in his _Life of Nash_ had
said:--'Dress has a mechanical influence upon the mind, and we naturally
are awed into respect and esteem at the elegance of those whom even our
reason would teach us to contemn. He seemed early sensible of human
weakness in this respect; he brought a person genteelly dressed to every
assembly.' Cunningham's _Goldsmith's Works_, iv. 46.

[246] 'The _Characters of Men and Women_ are the product of diligent
speculation upon human life; much labour has been bestowed upon them,
and Pope very seldom laboured in vain.... The _Characters of Men_,
however, are written with more, if not with deeper thought, and exhibit
many passages exquisitely beautiful.... In the women's part are some
defects.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 341.

[247] Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on the
authority of Spence), that Pope himself admired those lines so much that
when he repeated them his voice faltered: 'and well it might, Sir,' said
Johnson, 'for they are noble lines.' J. BOSWELL, JUN.

[248] We have here an instance of that reserve which Boswell, in his
Dedication to Sir Joshua Reynolds (_ante_, i. 4), says that he has
practised. In one particular he had 'found the world to be a great
fool,' and, 'I have therefore,' as he writes, 'in this work been more
reserved;' yet the reserve is slight enough. Everyone guesses that 'one
of the company' was Boswell.

[249] Yet Johnson, in his _Life of Pope_ (_Works_, viii. 276), seems to
be much of Boswell's opinion; for in writing of _The Dunciad_, he
says:--'The subject itself had nothing generally interesting, for whom
did it concern to know that one or another scribbler was a dunce?'

[250] The opposite of this Johnson maintained on April 29, 1778.

[251] 'It is surely sufficient for an author of sixteen ... to have
obtained sufficient power of language and skill in metre, to exhibit a
series of versification which had in English poetry no precedent, nor
has since had an imitation.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 326.

[252] See _ante_, i. 129.

[253] 'If the flights of Dryden are higher, Pope continues longer on the
wing ... Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with
perpetual delight.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 325.

[254] Probably, says Mr. Croker, those quoted by Johnson in _The Life of
Dryden_. _Ib_ vii. 339.

[255] The Duke of Buckingham in Dryden's _Absalom and Achitophel_.

[256] _Prologue to the Satires_, I. 193.


Almeria.--'It was a fancy'd noise; for all is hush'd.

Leonora.--It bore the accent of a human voice.

Almeria.--It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
Whistling thro' hollows of this vaulted aisle;
We'll listen--


Almeria.--No, all is hush'd and still as death,--'Tis dreadful!
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
To bear aloft its arch'd and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made stedfast and immoveable,
Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice--my own affrights me with its echoes.

Act ii. sc. 1.


'Swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry.'

_Romeo and Juliet_, act ii. sc. 2. He was a God with whom he ventured to
take great liberties. Thus on Jan. 10, 1776, he wrote:--'I have ventured
to produce _Hamlet_ with alterations. It was the most imprudent thing I
ever did in all my life; but I had sworn I would not leave the stage
till I had rescued that noble play from all the rubbish of the fifth
act. I have brought it forth without the grave-digger's trick and the
fencing match. The alterations were received with general approbation
beyond my most warm expectations.' _Garrick Corres_., ii. 126. See
_ante_, ii. 78, note 4.

[259] This comparison between Shakespeare and Congreve is mentioned
perhaps oftener than any passage in Boswell. Almost as often as it is
mentioned, it may be seen that Johnson's real opinion is misrepresented
or misunderstood. A few passages from his writings will shew how he
regarded the two men. In the _Life of Congreve_ (_Works_, viii. 31) he
repeats what he says here:--'If I were required to select from the whole
mass of English poetry the most poetical paragraph, I know not what I
could prefer to an exclamation in _The Mourning Bride_.' Yet in writing
of the same play, he says:--'In this play there is more bustle than
sentiment; the plot is busy and intricate, and the events take hold on
the attention; but, except a very few passages, we are rather amused
with noise and perplexed with stratagem, than entertained with any true
delineation of natural characters.' _Ib_, p. 26. In the preface to his
_Shakespeare_, published four years before this conversation, he almost
answered Garrick by anticipation. 'It was said of Euripides that every
verse was a precept; and it may be said of Shakespeare, that from his
works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence. Yet
his real power is not shown in the splendour of particular passages, but
by the progress of his fable, and the tenour of his dialogue, and he
that tries to recommend him by select quotations, will succeed like the
pedant in _Hierocles_, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a
brick in his pocket as a specimen.' _Ib_, v. 106. Ignorant, indeed, is
he who thinks that Johnson was insensible to Shakespeare's 'transcendent
and unbounded genius,' to use the words that he himself applied to him.
_The Rambler_, No. 156. 'It may be doubtful,' he writes, 'whether from
all his successors more maxims of theoretical knowledge, or more rules
of practical prudence, can be collected than he alone has given to his
country.' _Works_, v. 131. 'He that has read Shakespeare with attention
will, perhaps, find little new in the crowded world.' _Ib_, p. 434. 'Let
him that is yet unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who
desires to feel the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read every
play, from the first scene to the last, with utter negligence of all his
commentators. When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at
correction or explanation.' _Ib_, p. 152. And lastly he quotes Dryden's
words [from Dryden's _Essay of Dramatick Poesie_, edit. of 1701, i. 19]
'that Shakespeare was the man who, of all modern and perhaps ancient
poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.' _Ib_, p. 153. Mrs.
Piozzi records (_Anec_., p. 58), that she 'forced Johnson one day in a
similar humour [to that in which he had praised Congreve] to prefer
Young's description of night to those of Shakespeare and Dryden.' He
ended however by saying:--'Young froths and foams and bubbles sometimes
very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your
tea-kettle here with the roaring of the ocean.' See also _post_, p. 96.

[260] _Henry V_, act iv., Prologue.

[261] _Romeo and Juliet_, act iv., sc. 3.

[262] _King Lear_, act iv., sc. 6.

[263] See _ante_, July 26, 1763.

[264] See _ante_, i. 388.

[265] In spite of the gross nonsense that Voltaire has written about
Shakespeare, yet it was with justice that in a letter to Horace Walpole
(dated July 15, 1768,) he said:--'Je suis le premier qui ait fait
connaitre Shakespeare aux Francais.... Je peux vous assurer qu'avant moi
personne en France ne connaissait la poesie anglaise.' Voltaire's
_Works_, liv. 513.

[266] 'Of whom I acknowledge myself to be one, considering it as a piece
of the secondary or comparative species of criticism; and not of that
profound species which alone Dr. Johnson would allow to be "real
criticism." It is, besides, clearly and elegantly expressed, and has
done effectually what it professed to do, namely, vindicated Shakespeare
from the misrepresentations of Voltaire; and considering how many young
people were misled by his witty, though false observations, Mrs.
Montagu's Essay was of service to Shakspeare with a certain class of
readers, and is, therefore, entitled to praise. Johnson, I am assured,
allowed the merit which I have stated, saying, (with reference to
Voltaire,) "it is conclusive _ad hominem_."' BOSWELL. That this dull
essay, which would not do credit to a clever school-girl of seventeen,
should have had a fame, of which the echoes have not yet quite died out,
can only be fully explained by Mrs. Montagu's great wealth and position
in society. Contemptible as was her essay, yet a saying of hers about
Voltaire was clever. 'He sent to the Academy an invective [against
Shakespeare] that bears all the marks of passionate dotage. Mrs. Montagu
happened to be present when it was read. Suard, one of their writers,
said to her, "Je crois, Madame, que vous etes un peu fache (sic) de ce
que vous venez d'entendre." She replied, "Moi, Monsieur! point du tout!
Je ne suis pas amie de M. Voltaire."' Walpole's _Letters_, vi. 394. Her
own _Letters_ are very pompous and very poor, and her wit would not seem
to have flashed often; for Miss Burney wrote of her:--'She reasons well,
and harangues well, but wit she has none.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i.
335. Yet in this same _Diary_ (i. 112) we find evidence of the absurdly
high estimate that was commonly formed of her. 'Mrs. Thrale asked me if
I did not want to see Mrs. Montagu. I truly said, I should be the most
insensible of all animals not to like to see our sex's glory.' That she
was a very extraordinary woman we have Johnson's word for it. (See
_post_, May 15, 1784.) It is impossible, however, to discover anything
that rises above commonplace in anything that she wrote, and, so far as
I know, that she said, with the exception of her one saying about
Voltaire. Johnson himself, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, has a
laugh at her. He had mentioned Shakespeare, nature and friendship, and
continues:--'Now, of whom shall I proceed to speak? Of whom but Mrs.
Montagu? Having mentioned Shakespeare and Nature, does not the name of
Montagu force itself upon me? Such were the transitions of the ancients,
which now seem abrupt, because the intermediate idea is lost to modern
understandings. I wish her name had connected itself with friendship;
but, ah Colin, thy hopes are in vain.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 101. See
_post_, April 7, 1778.

[267] 'Reynolds is fond of her book, and I wonder at it; for neither I,
nor Beauclerk, nor Mrs. Thrale, could get through it.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 23, 1773.

[268] Lord Kames is 'the Scotchman.' See _ante_, i. 393.

[269] 'When Charles Townshend read some of Lord Kames's _Elements of
Criticism_, he said:--"This is the work of a dull man grown
whimsical"--a most characteristical account of Lord Kames as a writer.'
_Boswelliana_, p. 278. Hume wrote of it:--'Some parts of the work are
ingenious and curious; but it is too abstruse and crabbed ever to take
with the public.' J. H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 131. 'Kames,' he says, 'had
much provoked Voltaire, who never forgives, and never thinks any enemy
below his notice.' _Ib_, p. 195. Voltaire (_Works_, xliii. 302) thus
ridicules his book:--'Il nous prouve d'abord que nous avons cinq sens,
et que nous sentons moins l'impression douce faite sur nos yeux et sur
nos oreilles par les couleurs et par les sons que nous ne sentons un
grand coup sur la jambe ou sur la tete.'

[270] L'Abbe Dubos, 1670-1742. 'Tous les artistes lisent avec fruit ses
_Reflexions sur la poesie, la peinture, et la musique_. C'est le livre
le plus utile qu'on ait jamais ecrit sur ces matieres chez aucune des
nations de l'Europe.' Voltaire's _Siecle de Louis XIV_, i. 81.

[271] Bouhours, 1628-1702. Voltaire, writing of Bouhours' _Maniere de
bien penser sur les ouvrages d'esprit_, says that he teaches young
people 'a eviter l'enflure, l'obscurite, le recherche, et le faux.'
_Ib_, p. 54. Johnson, perhaps, knew him, through _The Spectator_, No.
62, where it is said that he has shown 'that it is impossible for any
thought to be beautiful which is not just, ... that the basis of all wit
is truth.'

[272] _Macbeth_, act iii. sc. 2.

[273] In _The False Alarm_, that was published less than three months
after this conversation, Johnson describes how petitions were got. 'The
progress of a petition is well known. An ejected placeman goes down to
his county or his borough, tells his friends of his inability to serve
them, and his constituents of the corruption of the Government. His
friends readily understand that he who can get nothing will have nothing
to give. They agree to proclaim a meeting; meat and drink are
plentifully provided, a crowd is easily brought together, and those who
think that they know the reason of their meeting, undertake to tell
those who know it not; ale and clamour unite their powers.... The
petition is read, and universally approved. Those who are sober enough
to write, add their names, and the rest would sign it if they could.'
_Works_, vi. 172. Yet, when the petitions for Dr. Dodd's life were
rejected, Johnson said:--'Surely the voice of the public when it calls
so loudly, and calls only for mercy, ought to be heard.' _Post_, June
28, 1777. Horace Walpole, writing of the numerous petitions presented to
the King this year (1769), blames 'an example so inconsistent with the
principles of liberty, as appealing to the Crown against the House of
Commons.' Some of them prayed for a dissolution of Parliament. _Memoirs
of the Reign of George III_, iii. 382, 390. Two years earlier Lord
Shelburne, when Secretary of State, had found among the subscribers to a
petition for his impeachment, a friend of his, a London alderman. 'Oh!
aye,' said the alderman when asked for an explanation, 'I did sign a
petition at the Royal Exchange, which they told me was for the
impeachment of a Minister; I always sign a petition to impeach a
Minister, and I recollect that as soon as I had subscribed it, twenty
more put their names to it.' _Parl. Hist_., xxxv. 167.

[274] See _post_, under March 24, 1776.

[275] Mr. Robert Chambers says that the author of the ballad was
Elizabeth Halket, wife of Sir Henry Wardlaw. She died about 1727. 'The
ballad of Hardyknute was the first poem I ever read, and it will be the
last I shall forget.' SIR WALTER SCOTT. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 205.

[276] John Ray published, in 1674, _A Collection of English Words_, &c.,
and _A Collection of English Proverbs_. In 1768 the two were published
in one volume.

[277] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 23, 1773.


'Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.'

_Macbeth_, Act v. se. 5.

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