Part 7 out of 12
'May 25, 1780.
'I know your disposition to second any literary attempt, and therefore
venture upon the liberty of entreating you to procure from College or
University registers, all the dates, or other informations which they
can supply, relating to Ambrose Philips, Broome, and Gray, who were all
of Cambridge, and of whose lives I am to give such accounts as I can
gather. Be pleased to forgive this trouble from, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,
While Johnson was thus engaged in preparing a delightful literary
entertainment for the world, the tranquillity of the metropolis of
Great-Britain was unexpectedly disturbed, by the most horrid series of
outrage that ever disgraced a civilised country. A relaxation of some of
the severe penal provisions against our fellow-subjects of the Catholic
communion had been granted by the legislature, with an opposition so
inconsiderable that the genuine mildness of Christianity, united with
liberal policy, seemed to have become general in this island. But
a dark and malignant spirit of persecution soon shewed itself, in an
unworthy petition for the repeal of the wise and humane statute. That
petition was brought forward by a mob, with the evident purpose of
intimidation, and was justly rejected. But the attempt was accompanied
and followed by such daring violence as is unexampled in history. Of
this extraordinary tumult, Dr. Johnson has given the following concise,
lively, and just account in his _Letters to Mrs. Thrale:--
'On Friday, the good Protestants met in Saint George's-Fields, at
the summons of Lord George Gordon, and marching to Westminster, insulted
the Lords and Commons, who all bore it with great tameness. At night the
outrages began by the demolition of the mass-house by Lincoln's-Inn.'
'An exact journal of a week's defiance of government I cannot give you.
On Monday, Mr. Strahan, who had been insulted, spoke to Lord
Mansfield, who had I think been insulted too, of the licentiousness of
the populace; and his Lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity.
On Tuesday night they pulled down Fielding's house, and burnt his
goods in the street. They had gutted on Monday Sir George Savile's
house, but the building was saved. On Tuesday evening, leaving
Fielding's ruins, they went to Newgate to demand their companions who
had been seized demolishing the chapel. The keeper could not release
them but by the Mayor's permission, which he went to ask; at his return
he found all the prisoners released, and Newgate in a blaze. They then
went to Bloomsbury, and fastened upon Lord Mansfield's house, which they
pulled down; and as for his goods, they totally burnt them. They
have since gone to Caen-wood, but a guard was there before them. They
plundered some Papists, I think, and burnt a mass-house in
Moorfields the same night.'
'On Wednesday I walked with Dr. Scott to look at Newgate, and found it
in ruins, with the fire yet glowing. As I went by, the Protestants were
plundering the Sessions-house at the Old-Bailey. There were not, I
believe, a hundred; but they did their work at leisure, in full
security, without sentinels, without trepidation, as men lawfully
employed, in full day. Such is the cowardice of a commercial place. On
Wednesday they broke open the Fleet, and the King's-Bench, and the
Marshalsea, and Wood-street Compter, and Clerkenwell Bridewell, and
released all the prisoners.'
'At night they set fire to the Fleet, and to the King's-Bench, and I
know not how many other places; and one might see the glare of
conflagration fill the sky from many parts. The sight was dreadful. Some
people were threatened: Mr. Strahan advised me to take care of myself.
Such a time of terrour you have been happy in not seeing.'
'The King said in Council, "That the magistrates had not done their
duty, but that he would do his own;" and a proclamation was published,
directing us to keep our servants within doors, as the peace was now to
be preserved by force. The soldiers were sent out to different parts,
and the town is now [_June_ 9] at quiet.'
'The soldiers are stationed so as to be every where within call:
there is no longer any body of rioters, and the individuals are hunted
to their holes, and led to prison; Lord George was last night sent to
the Tower. Mr. John Wilkes was this day in my neighbourhood, to
seize the publisher of a seditious paper.'
'Several chapels have been destroyed, and several inoffensive Papists
have been plundered; but the high sport was to burn the gaols. This was
a good rabble trick. The debtors and the criminals were all set at
liberty; but of the criminals, as has always happened, many are already
retaken; and two pirates have surrendered themselves, and it is expected
that they will be pardoned.'
'Government now acts again with its proper force; and we are all
under the protection of the King and the law. I thought that it would be
agreeable to you and my master to have my testimony to the publick
security; and that you would sleep more quietly when I told you that you
'There has, indeed, been an universal panick from which the King was the
first that recovered. Without the concurrence of his ministers, or the
assistance of the civil magistrate, he put the soldiers in motion, and
saved the town from calamities, such as a rabble's government must
'The publick has escaped a very heavy calamity. The rioters
attempted the Bank on Wednesday night, but in no great number; and like
other thieves, with no great resolution. Jack Wilkes headed the party
that drove them away. It is agreed, that if they had seized the Bank on
Tuesday, at the height of the panick, when no resistance had been
prepared, they might have carried irrecoverably away whatever they had
found. Jack, who was always zealous for order and decency, declares
that if he be trusted with power, he will not leave a rioter alive.
There is, however, now no longer any need of heroism or bloodshed; no
blue ribband is any longer worn.'
Such was the end of this miserable sedition, from which London was
delivered by the magnanimity of the Sovereign himself. Whatever some may
maintain, I am satisfied that there was no combination or plan, either
domestic or foreign; but that the mischief spread by a gradual contagion
of frenzy, augmented by the quantities of fermented liquors, of which
the deluded populace possessed themselves in the course of their
I should think myself very much to blame, did I here neglect to do
justice to my esteemed friend Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, who
long discharged a very important trust with an uniform intrepid
firmness, and at the same time a tenderness and a liberal charity, which
entitle him to be recorded with distinguished honour.
Upon this occasion, from the timidity and negligence of magistracy on
the one hand, and the almost incredible exertions of the mob on the
other, the first prison of this great country was laid open, and the
prisoners set free; but that Mr. Akerman, whose house was burnt, would
have prevented all this, had proper aid been sent to him in due time,
there can be no doubt.
Many years ago, a fire broke out in the brick part which was built as an
addition to the old gaol of Newgate. The prisoners were in consternation
and tumult, calling out, 'We shall be burnt--we shall be burnt! Down
with the gate--down with the gate!' Mr. Akerman hastened to them, shewed
himself at the gate, and having, after some confused vociferation of
'Hear him--hear him!' obtained a silent attention, he then calmly told
them, that the gate must not go down; that they were under his care, and
that they should not be permitted to escape: but that he could assure
them, they need not be afraid of being burnt, for that the fire was not
in the prison, properly so called, which was strongly built with stone;
and that if they would engage to be quiet, he himself would come in to
them, and conduct them to the further end of the building, and would not
go out till they gave him leave. To this proposal they agreed; upon
which Mr. Akerman, having first made them fall back from the gate, went
in, and with a determined resolution, ordered the outer turnkey upon no
account to open the gate, even though the prisoners (though he trusted
they would not) should break their word, and by force bring himself to
order it. 'Never mind me, (said he,) should that happen.' The prisoners
peaceably followed him, while he conducted them through passages of
which he had the keys, to the extremity of the gaol which was most
distant from the fire. Having, by this very judicious conduct, fully
satisfied them that there was no immediate risk, if any at all, he then
addressed them thus: 'Gentlemen, you are now convinced that I told you
true. I have no doubt that the engines will soon extinguish this fire;
if they should not, a sufficient guard will come, and you shall all be
taken out and lodged in the Compters. I assure you, upon my word
and honour, that I have not a farthing insured. I have left my house,
that I might take care of you. I will keep my promise, and stay with you
if you insist upon it; but if you will allow me to go out and look after
my family and property, I shall be obliged to you.' Struck with
his behaviour, they called out, 'Master Akerman, you have done bravely;
it was very kind in you: by all means go and take care of your own
concerns.' He did so accordingly, while they remained, and were all
Johnson has been heard to relate the substance of this story with high
praise, in which he was joined by Mr. Burke. My illustrious friend,
speaking of Mr. Akerman's kindness to his prisoners, pronounced this
eulogy upon his character:--'He who has long had constantly in his view
the worst of mankind, and is yet eminent for the humanity of his
disposition, must have had it originally in a great degree, and
continued to cultivate it very carefully.'
In the course of this month my brother David waited upon Dr. Johnson,
with the following letter of introduction, which I had taken care should
be lying ready on his arrival in London.
'To DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
'Edinburgh, April 29, 1780.
'MY DEAR SIR,
'This will be delivered to you by my brother David, on his return from
Spain. You will be glad to see the man who vowed to "stand by the old
castle of Auchinleck, with heart, purse, and sword;" that romantick
family solemnity devised by me, of which you and I talked with
complacency upon the spot. I trust that twelve years of absence have not
lessened his feudal attachment; and that you will find him worthy of
being introduced to your acquaintance.
'I have the honour to be,
'With affectionate veneration,
'My dear Sir,
'Your most faithful humble servant,
Johnson received him very politely, and has thus mentioned him in a
letter to Mrs. Thrale: 'I have had with me a brother of Boswell's,
a Spanish merchant, whom the war has driven from his residence at
Valentia; he is gone to see his friends, and will find Scotland but a
sorry place after twelve years' residence in a happier climate. He is a
very agreeable man, and speaks no Scotch.'
'To DR. BEATTIE, AT ABERDEEN.
'More years than I have any delight to reckon, have past since you
and I saw one another; of this, however, there is no reason for making
any reprehensory complaint--_Sic fata ferunt_. But methinks there
might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say, that
I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I
have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie; and that I wish your health
better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees
Southwards: a softer climate may do you both good; winter is coming on;
and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of
amusement than Aberdeen.
'My health is better; but that will be little in the balance, when I
tell you that Mrs. Montagu has been very ill, and is I doubt now but
weakly. Mr. Thrale has been very dangerously disordered; but is much
better, and I hope will totally recover. He has withdrawn himself from
business the whole summer. Sir Joshua and his sister are well; and Mr.
Davies has got great success as an authour, generated by the
corruption of a bookseller. More news I have not to tell you, and
therefore you must be contented with hearing, what I know not whether
you much wish to hear, that I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,
August 21, 1780.'
'To JAMES BOSWELL, Esq.
'I find you have taken one of your fits of taciturnity, and have
resolved not to write till you are written to; it is but a peevish
humour, but you shall have your way.
'I have sat at home in Bolt-court, all the summer, thinking to write the
_Lives_, and a great part of the time only thinking. Several of them,
however, are done, and I still think to do the rest.
'Mr. Thrale and his family have, since his illness, passed their time
first at Bath, and then at Brighthelmston; but I have been at neither
place. I would have gone to Lichfield, if I could have had time, and I
might have had time if I had been active; but I have missed much, and
'In the late disturbances, Mr. Thrale's house and stock were in great
danger; the mob was pacified at their first invasion, with about fifty
pounds in drink and meat; and at their second, were driven away by the
soldiers. Mr. Strahan got a garrison into his house, and maintained
them a fortnight; he was so frighted that he removed part of his goods.
Mrs. Williams took shelter in the country.
'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this autumn; it is now
about the time when we were travelling. I have, however, better health
than I had then, and hope you and I may yet shew ourselves on some part
of Europe, Asia, or Africa. In the mean time let us play no trick,
but keep each other's kindness by all means in our power.
'The bearer of this is Dr. Dunbar, of Aberdeen, who has written and
published a very ingenious book, and who I think has a kindness
for me, and will, when he knows you, have a kindness for you.
'I suppose your little ladies are grown tall; and your son is become a
learned young man. I love them all, and I love your naughty lady, whom I
never shall persuade to love me. When the _Lives_ are done, I shall send
them to complete her collection, but must send them in paper, as for
want of a pattern, I cannot bind them to fit the rest.
'I am, Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'London, Aug. 21, 1780.'
This year he wrote to a young clergyman in the country, the
following very excellent letter, which contains valuable advice to
Divines in general:--
'Not many days ago Dr. Lawrence shewed me a letter, in which you make
mention of me: I hope, therefore, you will not be displeased that I
endeavour to preserve your good-will by some observations which your
letter suggested to me.
'You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service
by reading to an audience that requires no exactness. Your fear, I hope,
secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as
have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without
some peculiarity of manner: but that manner may be good or bad, and a
little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good,
there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which
cannot be taught.
'Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few
frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than
yours will be. Take care to register, somewhere or other, the authours
from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that
you shall always remember, even what perhaps you now think it impossible
'My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an
original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burthen your
mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of
excogitation, propriety of thought and elegance of expression. Invent
first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing
was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration
of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise,
in the first words that occur; and, when you have matter, you will
easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary;
for by habit, your thoughts and diction will flow together.
'The composition of sermons is not very difficult: the divisions not
only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgement of the
writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its
'What I like least in your letter is your account of the manners of your
parish; from which I gather, that it has been long neglected by the
parson. The Dean of Carlisle, who was then a little rector in
Northamptonshire, told me, that it might be discerned whether or no
there was a clergyman resident in a parish by the civil or savage manner
of the people. Such a congregation as yours stands in need of much
reformation; and I would not have you think it impossible to reform
them. A very savage parish was civilised by a decayed gentlewoman, who
came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr.
Wheeler of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a
neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid;
but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon
weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and, when he
reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He
was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser
than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind. Such
honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every
clergyman; for all means must be tried by which souls may be saved.
Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find,
that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects,
the more willingly they will attend, and the more submissively they will
learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable. I think I
have now only to say, that in the momentous work you have undertaken, I
pray GOD to bless you.
'I am, Sir,
'Your most humble servant,
'Bolt-court, Aug. 30, 1780.'
My next letters to him were dated August 24, September 6, and October 1,
and from them I extract the following passages:--
'My brother David and I find the long indulged fancy of our comfortable
meeting again at Auchinleck, so well realised, that it in some degree
confirms the pleasing hope of _O! preclarum diem!_ in a future
'I beg that you may never again harbour a suspicion of my indulging a
peevish humour, or playing tricks; you will recollect that when I
confessed to you, that I had once been intentionally silent to try your
regard, I gave you my word and honour that I would not do so again.'
'I rejoice to hear of your good state of health; I pray GOD to continue
it long. I have often said, that I would willingly have ten years added
to my life, to have ten taken from yours; I mean, that I would be ten
years older to have you ten years younger. But let me be thankful for
the years during which I have enjoyed your friendship, and please myself
with the hopes of enjoying it many years to come in this state of being,
trusting always, that in another state, we shall meet never to be
separated. Of this we can form no notion; but the thought, though
indistinct, is delightful, when the mind is calm and clear.'
'The riots in London were certainly horrible; but you give me no account
of your own situation, during the barbarous anarchy. A description of it
by DR. JOHNSON would be a great painting; you might write another
_London, a Poem_.'
'I am charmed with your condescending affectionate expression, "let us
keep each other's kindness by all the means in our power;" my revered
Friend! how elevating is it to my mind, that I am found worthy to be a
companion to Dr. Samuel Johnson! All that you have said in grateful
praise of Mr. Walmsley, I have long thought of you; but we are
both Tories, which has a very general influence upon our
sentiments. I hope that you will agree to meet me at York, about the
end of this month; or if you will come to Carlisle, that would be better
still, in case the Dean be there. Please to consider, that to keep each
other's kindness, we should every year have that free and intimate
communication of mind which can be had only when we are together. We
should have both our solemn and our pleasant talk.'
'I write now for the third time, to tell you that my desire for our
meeting this autumn, is much increased. I wrote to Squire Godfrey
Bosville, my Yorkshire chief, that I should, perhaps, pay him a
visit, as I was to hold a conference with Dr. Johnson at York. I give
you my word and honour that I said not a word of his inviting you; but
he wrote to me as follows:--
'"I need not tell you I shall be happy to see you here the latter end of
this month, as you propose; and I shall likewise be in hopes that you
will persuade Dr. Johnson to finish the conference here. It will add to
the favour of your own company, if you prevail upon such an associate,
to assist your observations. I have often been entertained with his
writings, and I once belonged to a club of which he was a member, and I
never spent an evening there, but I heard something from him well worth
'We have thus, my dear Sir, good comfortable quarters in the
neighbourhood of York, where you may be assured we shall be heartily
welcome. I pray you then resolve to set out; and let not the year 1780
be a blank in our social calendar, and in that record of wisdom and wit,
which I keep with so much diligence, to your honour, and the instruction
and delight of others.'
Mr. Thrale had now another contest for the representation in parliament
of the borough of Southwark, and Johnson kindly lent him his assistance,
by writing advertisements and letters for him. I shall insert one as a
'TO THE WORTHY ELECTORS OF THE BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK.
'A new Parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being
elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater
confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of
having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of
independent constituents; superiour to fear, hope, and expectation, who
has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in
the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe
distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the Hall, and
hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.
'I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may
tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough.
'I am, Gentlemen,
'Your most faithful
'And obedient servant,
'Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.'
On his birth-day, Johnson has this note:--
'I am now beginning the seventy-second year of my life, with more
strength of body, and greater vigour of mind, than I think is common at
But still he complains of sleepless nights and idle days, and
forgetfulness, or neglect of resolutions. He thus pathetically expresses
'Surely I shall not spend my whole life with my own total
Mr. Macbean, whom I have mentioned more than once, as one of Johnson's
humble friends, a deserving but unfortunate man, being now oppressed by
age and poverty, Johnson solicited the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, to have
him admitted into the Charterhouse. I take the liberty to insert his
Lordship's answer, as I am eager to embrace every occasion of
augmenting the respectable notion which should ever be entertained of my
'To DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
'London, October 24, 1780.
'I have this moment received your letter, dated the 19th, and returned
'In the beginning of the summer I placed one in the Chartreux,
without the sanction of a recommendation so distinct and so
authoritative as yours of Macbean; and I am afraid, that according to
the establishment of the House, the opportunity of making the charity so
good amends will not soon recur. But whenever a vacancy shall happen, if
you'll favour me with notice of it, I will try to recommend him to the
place, even though it should not be my turn to nominate.
'I am, Sir, with great regard,
'Your most faithful
'And obedient servant,
'To JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
'I am sorry to write you a letter that will not please you, and yet it
is at last what I resolve to do. This year must pass without an
interview; the summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my
summers and winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to
work, without working much.
'Mr. Thrale's loss of health has lost him the election; he is now
going to Brighthelmston, and expects me to go with him; and how long I
shall stay, I cannot tell. I do not much like the place, but yet I shall
go, and stay while my stay is desired. We must, therefore, content
ourselves with knowing what we know as well as man can know the mind of
man, that we love one another, and that we wish each other's happiness,
and that the lapse of a year cannot lessen our mutual kindness.
'I was pleased to be told that I accused Mrs. Boswell unjustly, in
supposing that she bears me ill-will. I love you so much, that I would
be glad to love all that love you, and that you love; and I have love
very ready for Mrs. Boswell, if she thinks it worthy of acceptance. I
hope all the young ladies and gentlemen are well.
'I take a great liking to your brother. He tells me that his father
received him kindly, but not fondly; however, you seem to have lived
well enough at Auchinleck, while you staid. Make your father as happy as
'You lately told me of your health: I can tell you in return, that my
health has been for more than a year past, better than it has been for
many years before. Perhaps it may please GOD to give us some time
together before we are parted.
'I am, dear Sir,
'Yours most affectionately,
'October 17, 1780.'
The alehouse in the city where Johnson used to go and sit with George
Psalmanazar was, no doubt, the club in Old Street, where he met also
'the metaphysical tailor,' the uncle of Hoole the poet (_post_, under
March 30, 1783). Psalmanazar is mentioned a third time by Boswell
(_post_, May 15, 1784) in a passage borrowed from Hawkins's edition of
Johnson's _Works_, xi. 206, where it is stated that 'Johnson said: "He
had never seen the close of the life of any one that he wished so much
his own to resemble as that of him, for its purity and devotion." He was
asked whether he ever contradicted him. "I should as soon," said he,
"have thought of contradicting a bishop." When he was asked whether he
had ever mentioned Formosa before him, he said, "he was afraid to
mention even China."' We learn from Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_, p. 547,
that 'Psalmanazar lived in Ironmonger Row, Old Street; in the
neighbourhood whereof he was so well known and esteemed, that, as Dr.
Hawkesworth once told me, scarce any person, even children, passed him
without shewing him the usual signs of respect.' In the list of the
writers of the _Universal History_ that Johnson drew up a few days
before his death his name is given as the historian of the Jews, Gauls,
and Spaniards (_post_, November, 1784). According to Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anecdotes_, p. 175):--'His pious and patient endurance of a tedious
illness, ending in an exemplary death, confirmed the strong impression
his merit had made upon the mind of Mr. Johnson. "It is so very
difficult," said he always, "for a sick man not to be a scoundrel."'
Johnson, in _Prayers and Meditations_, p. 102, mentions him as a man
'whose life was, I think, uniform.' Smollett, in _Humphry Clinker_ (in
Melford's Letter of June 10), describes him as one 'who, after having
drudged half a century in the literary mill, in all the simplicity and
abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few
booksellers, just sufficient to keep him from the parish.' A writer in
the _Annual Register_ for 1764 (ii. 71), speaking of the latter part of
his life, says:--'He was concerned in compiling and writing works of
credit, and lived exemplarily for many years.' He died a few days before
that memorable sixteenth day of May 1763, when Boswell first met
Johnson. It is a pity that no record has been kept of the club meetings
in Ironmonger Row, for then we should have seen Johnson in a new light.
Johnson in an alehouse club, with a metaphysical tailor on one side of
him, and an aged writer on the other side of him, 'who spoke English
with the city accent and coarsely enough,' and whom he would never
venture to contradict, is a Johnson that we cannot easily imagine.
Of the greater part of Psalmanazar's life we know next to
nothing--little, I believe, beyond the few facts that I have here
gathered together. His early years he has described in his _Memoirs_.
That he started as one of the most shameless impostors, and that he
remained a hypocrite and a cheat till he was fully forty, if not indeed
longer, his own narrative shows. That for many years he lived
laboriously, frugally, and honestly seems to be no less certain. How far
his _Memoirs_ are truthful is somewhat doubtful. In them he certainly
confesses the impudent trick which he had played in his youth, when he
passed himself off as a Formosan convert. He wished, he writes, 'to
undeceive the world by unravelling that whole mystery of iniquity' (p.
5). He lays bare roguery enough, and in a spirit, it seems, of real
sorrow. Nevertheless there are passages which are not free from the
leaven of hypocrisy, and there are, I suspect, statements which are at
least partly false. Johnson, indeed, looked upon him as little less than
a saint; but then, as Sir Joshua Reynolds tells us, though 'Johnson was
not easily imposed upon by professions to honesty and candour, he
appeared to have little suspicion of hypocrisy in religion.' It was
in the year 1704 that Psalmanazar published his _Historical and
Geographical Description of Formosa_. So gross is the forgery that it
almost passes belief that it was widely accepted as a true narrative. He
gave himself out as a native of that island and a convert to
Christianity. He lied so foolishly as to maintain that in the Academies
of Formosa Greek was studied (p. 290). He asserted also that in an
island that is only about half as large as Ireland 18,000 boys were
sacrificed every year (p. 176). But his readers were for the most part
only too willing to be deceived; for in Protestant England his abuse of
the Jesuits covered a multitude of lies. Ere he had been three months in
London, he was, he writes (_Memoirs_, p. 179), 'cried up for a prodigy,
and not only the domestic, but even the foreign papers had helped to
blaze forth many things in his praise.' He was aided in his fraud by the
Rev. Dr. Innes, or Innys, a clergyman of the English Church, who by
means of his interesting convert pushed himself into the notice of
Compton, Bishop of London, and before long was made chaplain-general to
the English forces in Portugal (_Memoirs_, p. 191). The same man, as
Boswell tells us (_ante_, i. 359), by another impudent cheat, a second
time obtained 'considerable promotion.' Psalmanazar's book soon reached
a second edition, 'besides the several versions it had abroad' (p. 5).
Yet it is very dull reading--just such a piece of work as might be
looked for from a young man of little fancy, but gifted with a strong
memory. Nevertheless, the author's credit lasted so long, that for many
years he lived on a subscription 'which was founded on a belief of his
being a Formosan and a real convert to the Church of England' (p. 208).
He was even sent to Oxford to study, and had rooms in one of the
colleges--Christ Church, if I mistake not (p. 186). It was not only as a
student that he was sent by his dupes to that ancient seat of learning;
the Bishop of London hoped that he would 'teach the Formosan language to
a set of gentlemen who were afterwards to go with him to convert those
people to Christianity' (p. 161).
While he was living the life of a lying scoundrel, he was, he says (p.
192), 'happily restrained by Divine Grace,' so that 'all sense of
remorse was not extinguished,' and there was no fall into 'downright
infidelity.' At length he picked up Law's _Serious Call_, which moved
him, as later on it moved better men (_ante_, i. 68). Step by step he
got into a way of steady work, and lived henceforth a laborious and
honest life. It was in the year 1728, thirty-five years before his
death, that he began, he says, to write the narrative of his imposture
(p. 59). A dangerous illness and the dread of death had deeply moved
him, and filled him with the desire of leaving behind 'a faithful
narrative' which would 'undeceive the world.' Nineteen years later,
though he did not publish his narrative, he made a public confession of
his guilt. In the unsigned article on Formosa, which he wrote in 1747
for Bowen's _Complete System of Geography_ (ii. 251), he says,
'Psalmanaazaar [so he had at one time written his name] hath long since
ingenuously owned the contrary [of the truthfulness of his narrative]
though not in so public a manner, as he might perhaps have done, had not
such an avowment been likely to have affected some few persons who for
private ends took advantage of his youthful vanity to encourage him in
an imposture, which he might otherwise never had the thought, much less
the confidence, to have carried on. These persons being now dead, and
out of all danger of being hurt by it, he now gives us leave to assure
the world that the greatest part of that account was fabulous ... and
that he designs to leave behind him a faithful account of that unhappy
step, and other particulars of his life leading to it, to be published
after his death.'
In his _Memoirs_ he will not, he writes (p. 59), give any account 'of
his real country or family.' Yet it is quite clear from his own
narrative that he was born in the south of France. 'His pronunciation of
French had,' it was said, 'a spice of the Gascoin accent, and in that
provincial dialect he was so masterly that none but those born in the
country could excel him' (Preface, p. 1). If a town can be found that
answers to all that he tells of his birth-place, his whole account may
be true; but the circumstances that he mentions seem inconsistent. The
city in which he was born was twenty-four miles from an archiepiscopal
city in which there was a college of Jesuits (p. 67), and about sixty
miles from 'a noble great city full of gentry and nobility, of coaches,
and all kinds of grandeur,' the seat of a great university (pp. 76, 83).
When he left the great city for Avignon he speaks of himself as 'going
_down_ to Avignon' (p. 87). Thence he started on a pilgrimage to Rome,
and in order to avoid his native place, after he had gone no great way,
'he wheeled about to the left, to leave the place at some twenty or
thirty miles distance' (p. 101). He changed his mind, however, and
returned home. Thence he set off to join his father, who was 'near 500
miles off' in Germany (p. 60). 'The direct route was through the great
university city' and Lyons (p. 104). His birth-place then, if his
account is true, was on the road from Avignon to Rome, sixty miles from
a great university city and southwards of it, for through this
university city passed the direct road from his home to Lyons. It was,
moreover, sixty miles from an archiepiscopal city. I do not think that
such a place can be found. He says (p. 59) that he thought himself
'obliged out of respect to his country and family to conceal both, it
being but too common, though unjust, to censure them for the crimes of
private persons.' The excuse seems unsatisfactory, for he tells enough
to shew that he came from the South of France, while for his family
there was no need of care. It was, he writes, 'ancient but decayed,' and
he was the only surviving child. Of his father and mother he had heard
nothing since he started on the career of a pious rogue. They must have
been dead very many years by the time his _Memoirs_ were given to the
world. His story shews that at all events for the first part of his life
he had been one of the vainest of men, and vanity is commonly found
joined with a love of mystery. He is not consistent, moreover, in his
dates. On April 23, 1752, he was in the 73rd year of his age (p. 7); so
that he was born in either 1679 or 1680. When he joined his father he
was 'hardly full sixteen years old' (p. 112); yet it was a few years
after the Peace of Ryswick, which was signed on September 22, 1697. He
was, he says, 'but near twenty' when he wrote his _History of Formosa_
(p. 184). This was in the year 1704.
With his father he stayed but a short time, and then set out rambling
northwards. At Avignon, by shameless lying, he had obtained a pass 'as a
young student in theology, of Irish extract [_sic_] who had left his
country for the sake of religion' (p. 98). It was wonderful that his
fraud had escaped detection there, for he had kept his own name,
'because it had something of quality in it' (p. 99). He now resolved on
a more impudent pretence; for 'passing as an Irishman and a sufferer for
religion, did not only,' he writes, 'expose me to the danger of being
discovered, but came short of the merit and admiration I had expected
from it' (p. 112). He thereupon gave himself out as a Japanese convert,
and forged a fresh pass, 'clapping to it the old seal' (p. 116). He went
through different adventures, and at last enlisted in the army of the
Elector of Cologne--an 'unhappy herd, destitute of all sense of religion
and shamefacedness.' He got his discharge, but enlisted a second time,
'passing himself off for a Japanese and a heathen, under the name of
Salmanazar' (pp. 133-141). Later on he altered it, he says, 'by the
addition of a letter or two to make it somewhat different from that
mentioned in the _Book of Kings_' (Shalmaneser, II _Kings_, xvii. 3). In
his _Description of Formosa_ he wrote it Psalmanaazaar, and in later
life Psalmanazar. In his vanity he invented 'an awkward show of worship,
turning his face to the rising or setting sun, and pleased to be taken
notice of for so doing' (p. 144). He had moreover 'the ambition of
passing for a moral heathen' (p. 147). By way of singularity he next
took to living altogether upon raw flesh, roots, and herbs (p. 163).
It was when he was on garrison duty at Sluys that he became acquainted
with Innes, who was chaplain to a Scotch regiment that was in the pay of
the Dutch (p. 148). This man found in him a tool ready made to his hand.
He had at once seen through his roguery, but he used his knowledge only
to plunge him deeper in his guilt. By working on his fears and his
vanity and by small bribes he induced him to profess himself a convert
to the Church of England and to submit to baptism (p. 158). He brought
him over to London, and introduced him to the Bishop of London, and to
Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury (pp. 164, 179). Psalmanazar spoke
Latin fluently, but 'his Grace had either forgotten his, or being unused
to the foreign pronunciation was forced to have it interpreted to him by
Dr. Innes in English' (p. 178). The young impostor everywhere gave
himself out as a Formosan who had been entrapped by a Jesuit priest, and
brought to Avignon. 'There I could expect,' he wrote, 'no mercy from the
Inquisitors, if I had not in hypocrisy professed their religion'
(_History of Formosa_, p. 25). He was kept, he says, in a kind of
custody, 'but I trusted under God to my heels' (p. 24). It was Innes who
made him write this _History_.
In the confession of his fraud Psalmanazar seems to keep back nothing.
His repentance appears to be sincere, and his later life, there can be
little question, was regular. Yet, as I have said, even his confessions
apparently are not free from the old leaven of hypocrisy. It is indeed
very hard, if not altogether impossible, for a man who has passed forty
years and more as a lying hypocrite altogether to 'clear his mind of
cant.' In writing of the time when he was still living the life of a
lying scoundrel, he says:--'I have great reason to acknowledge it the
greatest mercy that could befall me, that I was so well grounded in the
principles and evidence of the Christian religion, that neither the
conversation of the then freethinkers, as they loved to stile
themselves, and by many of whom I was severely attacked, nor the
writings of Hobbes, Spinosa, &c. against the truth of Divine revelation
could appear to me in any other light than as the vain efforts of a
dangerous set of men to overturn a religion, the best founded and most
judiciously calculated to promote the peace and happiness of mankind,
both temporal and eternal' (_Memoirs_, p. 192). Two pages further on he
writes, a little boastfully it seems, of having had 'some sort of
gallantry with the fair sex; with many of whom, even persons of fortune
and character, of sense, wit, and learning, I was become,' he continues,
'a great favourite, and might, if I could have overcome my natural
sheepishness and fear of a repulse, have been more successful either by
way of matrimony or intrigue.' He goes on:--'I may truly say, that
hardly any man who might have enjoyed so great a variety ever indulged
himself in so few instances of the unlawful kind as I have done.' He
concludes this passage in his writings by 'thankfully acknowledging that
there must have been some secret providence that kept me from giving
such way to unlawful amours as I might otherwise have done, to the ruin
of my health, circumstances,' &c.
When he came to wish for an honest way of life he was beset with
difficulties. 'What a deadly wound,' he writes, 'must such an unexpected
confession have given to my natural vanity, and what a mortification
would it have been to such sincere honest people [as my friends] to hear
it from my mouth!' (p. 213.) This was natural enough. That he long
hesitated, like a coward, on the brink is not to be cast in his teeth,
seeing that at last he took the plunge. But then in speaking of the time
when he weakly repeated, and to use his own words, 'as it were confirmed
anew,' his old falsehoods, he should not have written that 'as the
assurance of God's mercy gave me good grounds to hope, so that hope
inspired me with a design to use all proper means to obtain it, and
leave the issue of it to his Divine Providence' (p. 214). The only
proper means to obtain God's mercy was at once to own to all the world
that he had lied. It is only the Tartuffes and the Holy Willies who,
whilst they persist in their guilt, talk of leaving the issue to the
Divine Providence of God.
Since this Appendix was in type I have learnt, through the kindness of
Mr. C.E. Doble, the editor of Hearne's _Remarks and Collections_, ed.
1885, that a passage in that book (i. 271), confirms my conjecture that
Psalmanazar was lodged in Christ Church when at Oxford. Hearne says
(July 9, 1706):--'Mr. Topping of Christ Church ... also tells me that
Salmanezzer, the famous Formosan, when he left Christ Church (where he
resided while in Oxon) left behind him a Book in MSt., wherein a
distinct acct was given of the Consular and Imperial coyns by himself.'
Mr. Doble has also pointed out to me in the first edition of the
_Spectator_ the following passage at the end of No. 14:--
'On the first of April will be performed at the Play-house in the
Hay-market an opera call'd _The Cruelty of Atreus_. N.B. The Scene
wherein Thyestes eats his own children is to be performed by the famous
Mr. Psalmanazar lately arrived from Formosa: The whole Supper being set
* * * * *
JOHNSON'S TRAVELS AND LOVE OF TRAVELLING.
On the passage in the text Macaulay in his Review of Croker's Edition of
_Boswell's Life of Johnson_ partly founds the following criticism:--
'Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced him to a state of society
completely new to him; and a salutary suspicion of his own deficiencies
seems on that occasion to have crossed his mind for the first time. He
confessed, in the last paragraph of his _Journey_, that his thoughts on
national manners were the thoughts of one who had seen but little, of
one who had passed his time almost wholly in cities. This feeling,
however, soon passed away. It is remarkable that to the last he
entertained a fixed contempt for all those modes of life and those
studies which tend to emancipate the mind from the prejudices of a
particular age or a particular nation. Of foreign travel and of history
he spoke with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance. "What
does a man learn by travelling? Is Beauclerk the better for travelling?
What did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there was a
snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?"' Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843,
In another passage (p. 400) Macaulay says:--
'Johnson was no master of the great science of human nature. He had
studied, not the genus man, but the species Londoner. Nobody was ever so
thoroughly conversant with all the forms of life and all the shades of
moral and intellectual character which were to be seen from Islington to
the Thames, and from Hyde-Park corner to Mile-end green. But his
philosophy stopped at the first turnpike-gate. Of the rural life of
England he knew nothing, and he took it for granted that everybody who
lived in the country was either stupid or miserable.'
Of the two assertions that Macaulay makes in these two passages, while
one is for the most part true, the other is utterly and grossly false.
Johnson had no contempt for foreign travel. That curiosity which
animated his eager mind in so many parts of learning did not fail him,
when his thoughts turned to the great world outside our narrow seas. It
was his poverty that confined him so long to the neighbourhood of Temple
Bar. He must in these early days have sometimes felt with Arviragus when
'What should we speak of
When we are old as you? when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December, how
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing.'
With his pension his wanderings at once began. His friendship with the
Thrales gave them a still wider range. His curiosity, which in itself
was always eager, was checked in his more prosperous circumstances by
his years, his natural unwillingness at any one moment to make an
effort, and by the want of travelling companions who were animated by a
spirit of inquiry and of enterprise equal to his own. He did indeed
travel much more than is commonly thought, and was far less frequently
to be seen rolling along Fleet-street or stemming the full tide of human
existence at Charing Cross than his biographers would have us believe.
The following table, imperfect though it must necessarily be, shows how
large a part of his life he passed outside 'the first turnpike-gate,'
and beyond the smoke of London:--
1709-1736. The first twenty-seven years of his life he spent in small
country towns or villages--Lichfield, Stourbridge, Oxford,
Market-Bosworth, Birmingham. So late as 1781 Lichfield did not contain
4,000 inhabitants (Harwood's _History of Lichfield_, p. 380); eight
years later it was reckoned that a little over 8,000 people dwelt in
Oxford (Parker's _Early History of Oxford_, ed. 1885, p. 229). In 1732
or 1733 Birmingham, when Johnson first went to live there, had not, I
suppose, a population of 10,000. Its growth was wonderfully rapid.
Between 1770 and 1797 its inhabitants increased from 30,000 to nearly
80,000 (_Birmingham Directory for_ 1780, p. xx, and _A Brief History of
Birmingham_, p. 8).
1736-7. The first eighteen months of his married life he lived quite in
the country at Edial, two miles from Lichfield. _Ante_, i. 97.
1737. He was twenty-eight years old when he removed to London. _Ante_,
1739. He paid a visit to Appleby in Leicestershire and to Ashbourn.
_Ante_, i. 82, 133 note 1.
1754. Oxford. July and August, about five weeks. _Ante_, i. 270, note 5.
1759. Oxford. July, length of visit not mentioned. _Ante_, i. 347.
1761-2. Lichfield. Winter, a visit of five days. _Ante_, i. 370.
1762. In the summer of this year his pension was granted, and he
henceforth had the means of travelling. _Ante_, i. 372.
A trip to Devonshire, from Aug. 16 to Sept. 26; six weeks. _Ante_, i.
Oxford. December. 'I am going for a few days or weeks to Oxford.' Letter
of Dec. 21, 1762. Croker's _Boswell_, p. 129.
1763. Harwich. August, a few days. _Ante_, i. 464.
Oxford. October, length of visit not mentioned. A letter dated Oxford,
Oct. 27 . Croker's _Boswell_, p. 161.
1764. Langton in Lincolnshire, part of January and February. _Ante_, i.
Easton Maudit in Northamptonshire, part of June, July, and August.
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 166, note, and _ante_, i. 486.
Oxford, October. Letter to Mr. Strahan dated Oxford, Oct. 24, 1764.
_Post, Addenda_ to vol. v.
Either this year or the next Johnson made the acquaintance of the
Thrales. For the next seventeen years he had 'an apartment appropriated
to him in the Thrales' villa at Streatham' (_ante_, i. 493), a handsome
house that stood in a small park. Streatham was a quiet country-village,
separated by wide commons from London, on one of which a highwayman had
been hanged who had there robbed Mr. Thrale (_ante_, iii. 239, note 2).
According to Mrs. Piozzi Johnson commonly spent the middle of the week
at their house, coming on the Monday night and returning to his own home
on the Saturday (_post_, iv. 169, note 3). Miss Burney, in 1778,
describes him 'as living almost wholly at Streatham' (_ante_, i. 493,
note 3). No doubt she was speaking chiefly of the summer half of the
year, for in the winter time the Thrales would be often in their town
house, where he also had his apartment. Mr. Strahan complained of his
being at Streatham 'in a great measure absorbed from the society of his
old friends' (_ante_, iii. 225). He used to call it 'my _home_' (_ante_,
i. 493, note 3).
1765. Cambridge, early in the year; a short visit. _Ante_, i. 487.
Brighton, autumn; a short visit. Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 126, and _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 1.
1766. Streatham, summer and autumn; more than three months. Ante, ii.
25, and _Pr. and Med_. p. 71.
Oxford, autumn; a month. _Ante_, ii. 25.
1767. Lichfield, summer and autumn; 'near six months.' _Ante_, ii. 30,
and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 4, 5.
1768. Oxford, spring; several weeks. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 6-15.
Townmalling in Kent, September; apparently a short visit. _Pr. and Med_.
1769. Oxford, from at least May 18 to July 7. _Piozzi Letters_, i.
19-23, and _ante_, ii. 67.
Lichfield and Ashbourn, August; a short visit. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 24,
and _ante_, ii. 67.
Brighton, part of August and September; some weeks. _Ante_, ii. 68, 70,
and Croker's _Boswell_, p. 198, letter dated 'Brighthelmstone. August
1770. Lichfield and Ashbourn, apparently whole of July. _Piozzi
Letters_, i. 26-32.
1771. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from June 20 to after Aug. 5. _Ante_, ii.
141, 142, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 36-54.
1772. Lichfield and Ashbourn, from about Oct. 15 to early in December.
_Piozzi Letters_, i. 55-69.
1773. Oxford, April; a hurried visit. _Ante_, ii. 235, note 2.
Tour to Scotland from Aug. 6 to Nov. 26. _Ante_, ii. 265, 268.
Oxford, part of November and December. _Ante_, ii. 268.
1774. Tour to North Wales (Derbyshire, Chester, Conway, Anglesey,
Snowdon, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Birmingham, Oxford, Beaconsfield) from
July 5 to Sept. 30. _Ante_, ii. 285, and _post_, v. 427.
1775. Oxford, March; a short visit. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 212.
Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from end of May till some time in August.
_Ante_, ii. 381, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 223-301.
Brighton; apparently a brief visit in September. Croker's _Boswell_, p.
A tour to Paris (going by Calais and Rouen and returning by Compiegne,
St. Quintin, and Calais), from Sept. 15 to Nov. 12. _Ante_, ii. 384,
1776. Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourn, March 19-29. (The trip was cut short
by young Thrale's death.) _Ante_, ii. 438, and iii. 4.
Bath, from the middle of April to the beginning of May. _Ante_, iii. 44,
Brighton, part of September and October; full seven weeks. _Ante_, iii.
1777. Oxford, Lichfield, and Ashbourn, from about July 28 to about Nov.
6. _Ante_, iii. 129, 210, and _Piozzi Letters_, i. 348-396 and ii. 1-16
(the letter of Oct. 3, i. 396, is wrongly dated, as is shown by the
mention of Foote's death).
Brighton, November; a visit of three days. _Ante_, iii. 210.
1778. Warley Camp, in Essex, September; about a week. _Ante_, iii. 360.
1779. Lichfield, Ashbourn, from May 20 to end of June. _Ante_, iii. 395,
and _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 44-55.
Epsom, September; a few days. _Pr. and Med_. pp. 181, 225.
1780. Brighton. October. MS. letter dated Oct. 26, 1780 to Mr. Nichols
in the British Museum.
1781. Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, Ashbourn, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 11.
_Post_, iv. 135, and Croker's _Boswell_, p. 699, note 5.
1782. Oxford, June; about ten days. _Post_, iv. 151, and _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 243-249.
Brighton, part of October and November. _Post_, iv. 159.
1783. Rochester, July; about a fortnight. _Post_, iv. 233.
Heale near Salisbury, part of August and September; three weeks. _Post_,
iv. 233, 239.
1784. Oxford, June; a fortnight. _Post_, iv. 283, 311.
Lichfield, Ashbourn, Oxford, from July 13 to Nov. 16. _Post_, iv. 353,
That he was always eager to see the world is shown by many a passage in
his writings and by the testimony of his biographers. How Macaulay, who
knew his _Boswell_ so well, could have accused him of 'speaking of
foreign travel with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance'
would be a puzzle indeed, did we not know how often this great
rhetorician was by the stream of his own mighty rhetoric swept far away
from the unadorned strand of naked truth. To his unjust and insulting
attack I shall content myself with opposing the following extracts which
with some trouble I have collected:--
1728 or 1729. Johnson in his undergraduate days was one day overheard
'I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I'll go
and visit the Universities abroad. I'll go to France and Italy. I'll go
to Padua.' _Ante_, i. 73.
1734. 'A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more
certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity, nor is that curiosity
ever more agreeably or usefully employed than in examining the laws and
customs of foreign nations.' _Ante_, i. 89.
1751. 'Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristicks of
a vigorous intellect.' _Rambler_, No. 103. 'Curiosity is in great and
generous minds the first passion and the last; and perhaps always
predominates in proportion to the strength of the contemplative
faculties.' _Ib_. No. 150.
1752. Francis Barber, describing Johnson's friends in 1752, says:--
'There was a talk of his going to Iceland with Mr. Diamond, which would
probably have happened had he lived.' _Ante_, i. 242. Johnson, in a
letter to the wife of the poet Smart, says, 'we have often talked of a
voyage to Iceland.' _Post_, iv. 359 note. Mrs. Thrale wrote to him when
he was in the Hebrides in 1773:--'Well! 'tis better talk of Iceland.
Gregory challenges you for an Iceland expedition; but I trust there is
no need; I suppose good eyes might reach it from some of the places you
have been in.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 188.
1761. Johnson wrote to Baretti:--
'I wish you had staid longer in Spain, for no country is less known to
the rest of Europe.' _Ante_, i. 365. He twice recommended Boswell to
perambulate Spain. _Ante_, i. 410, 455.
1763. 'Dr. Johnson flattered me (Boswell) with some hopes that he would,
in the course of the following summer, come over to Holland, and
accompany me in a tour through the Netherlands.' _Ante_, i. 470.
1772. He said that he had had some desire, though he soon laid it aside,
to go on an expedition round the world with Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander.
_Ante_, ii. 147.
1773. 'Dr. Johnson and I talked of going to Sweden.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, _post_, v. 215.
On Sept. 9, 1777, Boswell wrote to Johnson:--
'I shrink a little from our scheme of going up the Baltick: I am sorry
you have already been in Wales; for I wish to see it.' _Ante_, iii. 134.
Four days later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Boswell shrinks from the
Baltick expedition, which, I think, is the best scheme in our power:
what we shall substitute I know not. He wants to see Wales; but except
the woods of Bachycraigh (_post_, v. 436), what is there in Wales, that
can fill the hunger of ignorance, or quench the thirst of curiosity? We
may, perhaps, form some scheme or other; but in the phrase of _Hockley
in the Hole_, it is a pity he has not a _better bottom_.' _Ib_. note 1.
'Martin's account of the Hebrides had impressed us with a notion that we
might there contemplate a system of life almost totally different from
what we had been accustomed to see.... Dr. Johnson told me that his
father put Martin's account into his hands when he was very young, and
that he was much pleased with it.' _Post_, v. 13.
From the Hebrides Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--
'I have a desire to instruct myself in the whole system of pastoral
life; but I know not whether I shall be able to perfect the idea.
However, I have many pictures in my mind, which I could not have had
without this journey; and should have passed it with great pleasure had
you, and Master, and Queeney been in the party. We should have excited
the attention and enlarged the observation of each other, and obtained
many pleasing topicks of future conversation.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 159.
'We travelled with very little light in a storm of wind and rain; we
passed about fifty-five streams that crossed our way, and fell into a
river that, for a very great part of our road, foamed and roared beside
us; all the rougher powers of nature except thunder were in motion, but
there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed any of the
inconveniencies, to have had more light or less rain, for their
co-operation crowded the scene and filled the mind.' _Ib_. p. 177.
See _post_, v. 334 for the splendid passage in which, describing the
emotions raised in his mind by the sight of Iona, he says:--
'Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the
past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances
us in the dignity of thinking beings.... That man is little to be envied
whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or
whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.'
Macaulay seems to have had the echo of these lines still in his ear,
when he described imagination as 'that noble faculty whereby man is able
to live in the past and in the future, in the distant and in the
unreal.' _Essays_, ed. 1853, iii. 167.
1774. When he saw some copper and iron works in Wales he wrote:--
'I have enlarged my notions.' _Post_, v. 442. See also _ante_, iii. 164.
His letter to Warren Hastings shows his curiosity about India. _Ante,_
1775. The Thrales had just received a sum of L14,000. Johnson wrote to
'If I had money enough, what would I do? Perhaps, if you and master did
not hold me, I might go to Cairo, and down the Red Sea to Bengal, and
take a ramble to India. Would this be better than building and planting?
It would surely give more variety to the eye, and more amplitude to the
mind. Half fourteen thousand would send me out to see other forms of
existence, and bring me back to describe them.' _Piozzi Letters_, i.
'Regions mountainous and wild, thinly inhabited and little cultivated,
make a great part of the earth, and he that has never seen them must
live unacquainted with much of the face of nature, and with one of the
great scenes of human existence.' Johnson's _Works_, ix. 36. 'All travel
has its advantages. If the traveller visits better countries he may
learn to improve his own; and if fortune carries him to worse he may
learn to enjoy it.' _Ib_. p. 136.
To Dr. Taylor he wrote:--
'I came back last Tuesday from France. Is not mine a kind of life turned
upside down? Fixed to a spot when I was young, and roving the world when
others are contriving to sit still, I am wholly unsettled. I am a kind
of ship with a wide sail, and without an anchor.' _Ante_, ii. 387, note
1776. In the spring of this year everything was settled for his journey
to Italy with the Thrales. Hannah More wrote (_Memoirs_, i. 74):--
'Johnson and Mr. Boswell have this day set out for Oxford, Lichfield,
&c., that the Doctor may take leave of all his old friends previous to
his great expedition across the Alps. I lament his undertaking such a
journey at his time of life, with beginning infirmities. I hope he will
not leave his bones on classic grounds.'
Boswell tells how--
'Speaking with a tone of animation Johnson said, "We must, to be sure,
see Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and as much more as we can."'
_Ante_, iii. 19.
When the journey was put off by the sudden death of Mr. Thrale's son,
'I perceived that he had so warmly cherished the hope of enjoying
classical scenes, that he could not easily part with the scheme; for he
said, "I shall probably contrive to get to Italy some other way."' _Ib_.
A day later Boswell wrote:--
'A journey to Italy was still in his thoughts. He said, "A man who has
not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not
having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of
travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean."' _Ib_. p. 36.
'Johnson's desire to go abroad, particularly to see Italy, was very
great; and he had a longing wish, too, to leave some Latin verses at the
Grand Chartreux. He loved indeed the very act of travelling.... He was
in some respects an admirable companion on the road, as he piqued
himself upon feeling no inconvenience, and on despising no
accommodations.' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 168.
Johnson, this same year, speaking of a friend who had gone to the East
'I had some intention of accompanying him. Had I thought then as I do
now, I should have gone.' _Ante_, iii. 20. According to Mr. Tyers he
once offered to attend another friend to India. Moreover 'he talked much
of travelling into Poland to observe the life of the Palatines, the
account of which struck his curiosity very much.' _Johnsoniana_, ed.
1836, p. 157.
1777. Boswell wrote to Johnson this year (_ante_, iii. 107):--
'You have, I believe, seen all the cathedrals in England except that of
This was not the case, yet most of them he had already seen or lived to
see. With Lichfield, Oxford, and London he was familiar. Winchester and
Exeter he had seen in 1762 on his tour to Devonshire (_ante_, i. 377),
Peterborough, Ely, Lincoln, York, and Durham he no doubt saw in 1773 on
his way to Scotland. The first three he might also have seen in 1764 on
his visit to Langton (_ante_, i. 476). Chester, St. Asaph, Bangor, and
Worcester he visited in 1774 in his journey to Wales (_post_, v. 435,
436, 448, 456). Through Canterbury he almost certainly passed in 1775 on
his way to France (_ante_, ii. 384). Bristol he saw in 1776 (_ante_,
iii. 51). To Chichester he drove from Brighton in 1782 (_post_, iv.
160). Rochester and Salisbury he visited in the summer of 1783 (_post_,
iv. 233). Wells he might easily have seen when he was at Bath in 1776
(_ante_, iii. 44), and possibly Gloucester. Through Norwich he perhaps
came on his return from Lincolnshire in 1764 (_ante_, i. 476). Hereford,
I think, he could not have visited.
When in the September of this year Johnson and Boswell were driving in
Dr. Taylor's chaise to Derby, 'Johnson strongly expressed his love of
driving fast in a post-chaise. "If," said he, "I had no duties, and no
reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a
post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could
understand me, and would add something to the conversation"' (_ante_,
iii. 162). He had previously said (_ante_, ii. 453), as he was driven
rapidly along in a post-chaise, 'Life has not many things better than
1778. Boswell wrote to Johnson:--
'My wife is so different from you and me that she dislikes travelling.'
_Ante_, iii. 219.
Later on in the year Boswell records:--
'Dr. Johnson expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting
the wall of China. I catched it for the moment, and said I really
believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of
whom it was my duty to take care. "Sir, (said he,) by doing so you would
do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence.
There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and
curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man
who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, Sir."' _Ante_,
1780. In August he wrote to Boswell:--
'I know not whether I shall get a ramble this summer.... I hope you and
I may yet shew ourselves on some part of Europe, Asia, or Africa.'
_Ante_, iii. 435.
In the same year Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--
'I hope you have no design of stealing away to Italy before the
election, nor of leaving me behind you; though I am not only seventy,
but seventy-one.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 177.
On Oct. 17 he wrote:--
'The summer has been foolishly lost, like many other of my summers and
winters. I hardly saw a green field, but staid in town to work, without
working much.' _Ante_, iii. 441.
1784. Johnson's wish to go to Italy in the last year of his life was
caused by the hope that it might be good for his health. 'I do not,' he
wrote, 'travel for pleasure or curiosity; yet if I should recover,' he
added, 'curiosity would revive.' _Post_, iv. 348.
Mrs. Piozzi, without however giving the year, records:--
'Dr. Johnson was very angry with a gentleman at our house for not being
better company, and urged that he had travelled into Bohemia and seen
Prague. "Surely," added he, "the man who has seen Prague might tell us
something new and something strange, and not sit silent for want of
matter to put his lips in motion."' Piozzi's _Journey_, ii. 317.
All these passages shew, what indeed is evident enough from the text,
that it was not travelling in general but travelling between the ages of
nineteen and twenty-four, with a character unformed, a memory unstored,
and a judgment untrained, that Johnson attacked. It was a common habit
in his day to send young men of fortune to make the tour of Europe, as
it was called, at an age when they would now be sent to either Oxford or
Cambridge. Lord Charlemont was but eighteen when he left England. Locke,
at the end of his work on _Education_, said in 1692 much the same as
Johnson said in 1778.
'The ordinary time of travel,' he wrote, 'is from sixteen to one and
twenty.' He would send any one either at a younger age than sixteen
under a tutor, or at an older age than twenty-one without a tutor; 'when
he is of age to govern himself, and make observations of what he finds
in other countries worthy his notice ... and when, too, being thoroughly
acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages
and defects of his own country, he has something to exchange with those
abroad, from whose conversation he hoped to reap any knowledge.'
Goldsmith, in his _Present State of Polite Learning_, ch. xiii, wrote in
'We see more of the world by travel, but more of human nature by
remaining at home.... A youth just landed at the Brille resembles a
clown at a puppet-show; carries his amazement from one miracle to
another; from this cabinet of curiosities to that collection of
pictures; but wondering is not the way to grow wise.... The greatest
advantages which result to youth from travel are an easy address, the
shaking off national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridiculous in
national peculiarities. The time spent in these acquisitions could have
been more usefully employed at home.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 197)
says that 'the previous and indispensable requisites of foreign travel
are age, judgment, a competent knowledge of men and books, and a freedom
from domestic prejudices.'
When he was only eighteen years old he saw the evils of early
'I never liked young travellers; they go too raw to make any great
remarks, and they lose a time which is (in my opinion) the most precious
part of a man's life.' _Ib_. p. 98.
Cowper, in his _Progress of Error_ (ed. 1782, i. 60), describes how--
'His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn and nothing to impart,
The youth obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands.
* * * * *
Returning he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.'
ELECTION OF LORD MAYORS OF LONDON.
In the years 1751-2-3, the Lord Mayor was not appointed by rotation; Sir
G. Champion, the senior Alderman, being accused of a leaning towards
Spain. From 1754 to 1765 (inclusive) if there was in any year a contest,
yet in each case the senior Alderman nominated was chosen. From 1766 to
1775 (inclusive) there was in every year a departure from the order of
seniority. In 1776-8 the order of seniority was again observed; so that
two years before Johnson made his remark the irregularity had come to an
end. This information I owe to the kindness of Mr. Scott, the excellent
Chamberlain of the City. Sir George Champion had been passed over in the
year 1739 also. In an address to the Liverymen he says that 'the
disorders and great disturbance to the peace of the city, which in
former times had been occasioned by the over-eagerness of some, too
ambitious and impatient to obtain this great honour, had been quieted'
by the adoption of the order of seniority. _Gent. Mag_. 1739, p. 595.
Among the Lord Mayors from 1769-1775 (inclusive) we find Beckford,
Trecothick, Crosby, Townshend, Bull, Wilkes, and Sawbridge. 'Where did
Beckford and Trecothick learn English?' asked Johnson (_ante_, iii. 76).
Crosby, in the year of his mayoralty (1770-1), was committed to the
Tower by the House of Commons, for having himself committed to prison a
messenger of the House when attempting to arrest the printer of the
_London Evening Debates_, who was accused of a breach of privilege in
reporting the Debates (_Parl. Hist_. xvii. 155). Townshend in the same
year refused to pay the land-tax, on the plea that his county
(Middlesex) was no longer represented, as Wilkes's election had been
annulled (_Walpole's Letters_, v. 348). Bull in the House of Commons
violently attacked Lord North's ministry (_Parl. Hist_. xix. 980).
Sawbridge, year after year, brought into Parliament a bill for
shortening the duration of parliaments. During his Mayoralty he would
not suffer the pressgangs to enter the city. (Walpole's _Journal of the
Reign of George III_, ii. 84.)
Among the Aldermen the Court-party had a majority. In April 1769
Wilkes's eligibility for election as an Alderman was not allowed by a
majority of ten to six (Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign of George III_,
iii. 360, and _Ann. Reg_. xii. 92). On his release from prison in April
1770 he was, however, admitted without a division (_ib_. xiii. 99).
When, in March 1770, the City presented an outspoken remonstrance to the
King, sixteen Aldermen protested against it (Walpole's _Letters_, v.
229). About this time there arose a great division in the popular party
in the City. According to Lord Albemarle, in his _Memoirs of
Rockingham_, ii. 209, from the period of this struggle 'the Whigs and
what are now called Radicals became two distinct sections of the Liberal
party.' Townshend, who in this followed the lead of Lord Shelburne,
headed the more moderate men against Wilkes. The result was that in 1771
each section running a candidate for the Mayoralty, a third man, Nash,
who was opposed to both, was returned (Walpole's _Memoirs of the Reign
of George III_, iv. 345, and _Ann. Reg_. xiv. 146).
The Livery, for a time at least, was Wilkite. Wilkes's name was sent up
as Lord Mayor at the top of the list in 1772 and 1773, but he was in
each case passed over by the Court of Aldermen. It was not till 1774
that he was elected by a kind of 'Hobson's choice.' The Aldermen had to
choose between him and the retiring Lord Mayor, Bull. Walpole, writing
of Nov. 1776, says the new Lord Mayor 'invited the Ministers to his
feast, to which they had not been asked for seven years' (_Journal of
the Reign of George III_, ii. 84). See Boswell's _Hebrides_, _post_, v.
THE INMATES OF JOHNSON'S HOUSE.
In September of this year (1778) Miss Burney records the following
conversation at Streatham:--'MRS. THRALE. "Pray, Sir, how does Mrs.
Williams like all this tribe?" DR. J. "Madam, she does not like them at
all; but their fondness for her is not greater. She and Desmoulins
quarrel incessantly; but as they can both be occasionally of service to
each other, and as neither of them have any other place to go to, their
animosity does not force them to separate." ... MR. T. "And pray who is
clerk of your kitchen, Sir?" DR. J. "Why, Sir, I am afraid there is
none; a general anarchy prevails in my kitchen, as I am told by Mr.
Levett, who says it is not now what it used to be." MRS. T. "Mr. Levett,
I suppose, Sir, has the office of keeping the hospital in health, for he
is an apothecary." DR. J. "Levett, Madam, is a brutal fellow, but I have
a good regard for him; for his brutality is in his manners, not his
mind." MR. T. "But how do you get your dinners drest?" DR. J. "Why,
Desmoulins has the chief management of the kitchen; but our roasting is
not magnificent, for we have no jack." MR. T. "No jack! Why, how do they
manage without?" DR. J. "Small joints, I believe, they manage with a
string, and larger are done at the tavern. I have some thoughts (with a
profound gravity) of buying a jack, because I think a jack is some
credit to a house." MR. T. "Well, but you'll have a spit too." DR. J.
"No, Sir, no; that would be superfluous; for we shall never use it; and
if a jack is seen, a spit will be presumed." MRS. T. "But pray, Sir, who
is the Poll you talk of? She that you used to abet in her quarrels with
Mrs. Williams, and call out, _At her again, Poll! Never flinch, Poll!_"
DR. J. "Why, I took to Poll very well at first, but she won't do upon a
nearer examination." MRS. T. "How came she among you, Sir?" DR. J. "Why,
I don't rightly remember, but we could spare her very well from us. Poll
is a stupid slut. I had some hopes of her at first; but when I talked to
her tightly and closely, I could make nothing of her; she was wiggle
waggle, and I could never persuade her to be categorical."' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary,_ i. 114.
More than a year later Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'Discord keeps her
residence in this habitation, but she has for some time been silent. We
have much malice, but no mischief. Levett is rather a friend to
Williams, because he hates Desmoulins more. A thing that he should hate
more than Desmoulins is not to be found.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 80. Mrs.
Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 213) says:--'He really was oftentimes afraid of going
home, because he was so sure to be met at the door with numberless
complaints; and he used to lament pathetically to me that they made his
life miserable from the impossibility he found of making theirs happy,
when every favour he bestowed on one was wormwood to the rest. If,
however, I ventured to blame their ingratitude, and condemn their
conduct, he would instantly set about softening the one and justifying
the other; and finished commonly by telling me, that I knew not how to
make allowances for situations I never experienced.' Hawkins (_Life_, p.
404) says:--'Almost throughout Johnson's life poverty and distressed
circumstances seemed to be the strongest of all recommendations to his
favour. When asked by one of his most intimate friends, how he could
bear to be surrounded by such necessitous and undeserving people as he
had about him, his answer was, "If I did not assist them, no one else
would, and they must be lost for want."' 'His humanity and generosity,
in proportion to his slender income, were,' writes Murphy (_Life_, p.
146), 'unbounded. It has been truly said that the lame, the blind, and
the sorrowful found in his house a sure retreat.' See also _ante_, iii.
222. At the same time it must be remembered that while Mrs. Desmoulins
and Miss Carmichael only brought trouble into the house, in the society
of Mrs. Williams and Levett he had real pleasure. See _ante_, i. 232,
note 1, and 243, note 3.
* * * * *
BOSWELL'S LETTERS OF ACCEPTANCE OF THE OFFICE OF SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN
CORRESPONDENCE TO THE ROYAL ACADEMY.
(_Page 370, note i_.)
'Agli Illustrissimi Signori Il Presidente e Consiglieri dell' Academia
Reale delle arti in Londra.
'Avreste forse illustrissimi Signori potuto scegliere molte persone piu
degne dell' ufficcio di Segretario per la corrispondenza straniera; ma
non sarebbe, son certo, stato possibile di trovar alcuno dal quale
questa distinzione sarebbe stata piu stimata. Sento con un animo molto
riconoscente la parzialita che l'Academia a ben voluto mostrar per me; e
mi conto felicissimo che la mia elezione sia stata graziosamente
confirmata dalla sua Maesta lo stesso Sovrano che a fondato l'Academia,
e che si e sempre mostrato il suo beneficente Protettore.
'Vi prego, Signori, di credere que porro ogni mio studio a contribuire
tanto che potro alia prosperita della nostra instituzione ch' e gia
arrivata ad un punto si rispettevole.
'Ho l'onore d'essere,
'e divotissimo servo,
'31 d'Ottobre, 1791.'
'A Messieurs Le President et les autres Membres du Conseil de l'Academie
Royale des Arts a Londres.
'C'est avec la plus vive reconnoissance que J'accepte la charge de
Secretaire pour la Correspondence etrangere de votre Academie a laquelle
J'ai eu l'honneur d'etre choisi par vos suffrages unanimes gracieusement
confirmes par sa Majeste.
'Ce choix spontane Messieurs me flatte beaucoup; et m'inspire des desirs
les plus ardens de m'en montrer digne, au moins par la promptitude avec
laquelle Je saisirai toute occasion de faire ce que Je pourrai pour
contribuer a l'avantage des Arts et la celebrite de l'Academie.
'J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec toute la consideration possible,
'Votre serviteur tres oblige tres humble et tres fidel,
'ce 31 d'Octobre, 1791'
[In this letter I have made no attempt to correct Boswell's errors.]
'To the President and Council of The Royal Academy of Arts in London.
'Your unsolicited and unanimous election of me to be Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence to your Academy, and the gracious confirmation of
my election by his Majesty, I acknowledge with the warmest sentiments of
gratitude and respect.
'I have always loved the Arts, and during my travels on the Continent I
did not neglect the opportunities which I had of cultivating a taste for
them. That taste I trust will now be much improved, when I shall
be so happy as to share in the advantages which the Royal Academy
affords; and I fondly embrace this very pleasing distinction as giving
me the means of providing additional solace for the future years of my
'Be assured, Gentlemen, that as I am proud to be a member of an Academy
which has the peculiar felicity of not being at all dependant on a
Minister, but under the immediate patronage and superintendence of
the Sovereign himself, I shall be zealous to do every thing in my power
that can be of any service to our excellent Institution.
'I have the honour to be,
'Your much obliged
'And faithful humble servant,
'31 October, 1791.'
'I am much obliged to you for the very polite terms in which you have
been pleased to communicate to me my election to be Secretary for
Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and I
request that you will lay before the President and Council the enclosed
letters signifying my acceptance of that office.
'I am with great regard,
'Your most obedient humble servant,
'31 October, 1791.
'To John Richards, Esq., R.A. &c.'
Bennet Langton's letter of acceptance of the Professorship of Ancient
Literature in the place of Johnson is dated April 2, 1788.
I must express my acknowledgments to the President and Council of the
Royal Academy for their kindness in allowing me to copy the above
letters from the originals that are in their possession.
 See ante, March 15, 1776.
 _Anecdotes of Johnson_, p. 176. BOSWELL. 'It is,' he said, 'so
_very_ difficult for a sick man not to be a scoundrel.' Ib. p. 175.
He called Fludyer a scoundrel (_ante_, March 20, 1776), apparently
because he became a Whig. 'He used to say a man was a scoundrel that was
afraid of anything. "Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve
o'clock is," he said, "a scoundrel."' Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 199,
211. Mr. Croker points out that 'Johnson in his _Dictionary_ defined
_knave_, a scoundrel; _sneakup_, a scoundrel; _rascal_, a scoundrel;
_loon_, a scoundrel; _lout_, a scoundrel; _poltroon_, a scoundrel; and
that he coined the word _scoundrelism_' (Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25,
1773). Churchill, in _The Ghost_, Book ii. (_Poems_, i. 1. 217),
describes Johnson as one
'Who makes each sentence current pass,
With _puppy, coxcomb, scoundrel, ass_.'
Swift liked the word. 'God forbid,' he wrote, 'that ever such a
scoundrel as Want should dare to approach you.' Swift's _Works_, ed.
1803, xviii. 39.
 See _ante_, i. 49, for Johnson's fondness for the old romances.
 Boswell, _ante_, i. 386, implies that Sheridan's pension was partly
due to Wedderburne's influence.
 See _ante_, i. 386.
 Akenside, in his _Ode to Townshend_ (Book ii. 4), says:--
'For not imprudent of my loss to come,
I saw from Contemplation's quiet cell
His feet ascending to another home,
Where public praise and envied greatness dwell.'
He had, however, no misgivings, for he thus ends:--
'Then for the guerdon of my lay,
This man with faithful friendship, will I say,
From youth to honoured age my arts and me hath viewed.'
 We have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read
now 'which is a great extension.' _Post_, April 29, 1778.
 See _post_, April, 28, 1783.
 See _post_, March 22, 1783.
 See _post_, March 18, 1784.
 Newbery, the publisher, was the vendor of Dr. James's famous
powder. It was known that on the doctor's death a chemist whom he had
employed meant to try to steal the business, under the pretence that
he alone knew the secret of the preparation. A supply of powders enough
to last for many years was laid in by Newbery in anticipation, while
James left an affidavit that the chemist was never employed in the
manufacture. He, however, asserted that James was deprived of his mental
faculties when the affidavit was made. Evidence against this was
collected and published; the conclusion to the Preface being written by
Johnson. _A Bookseller of the Last Century_, p. 138. See _ante_, i.
 Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on the birth of a second son who died
early:--'I congratulate you upon your boy; but you must not think that I
shall love him all at once as well as I love Harry, for Harry you know
is so rational. I shall love him by degrees.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 206.
A week after Harry's death he wrote:--'I loved him as I never expect to
love any other little boy; but I could not love him as a parent.' _Ib_.
 Johnson had known this anxiety. He wrote to Mrs. Thrale from
Ashbourne on July 7, 1775:--'I cannot think why I hear nothing from you.
I hope and fear about my dear friends at Streatham. But I may have a
letter this afternoon--Sure it will bring me no bad news.' _Ib_. i. 263.
See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 21, 1773.
 See _ante_, ii. 75.
 _ante_, April 10, 1775.
 See _ante_, March 21, 1776, and _post_, Sept. 19, 1777.
 The phrase 'vexing thoughts,' is I think, very expressive. It has
been familiar to me from my childhood; for it is to be found in the
_Psalms in Metre_, used in the churches (I believe I should say _kirks_)
of Scotland, _Psal_. xliii. v. 5;
'Why art thou then cast down, my soul?
What should discourage thee?
And why with _vexing thoughts art_ thou
Disquieted in me?'
Some allowance must no doubt be made for early prepossession. But at a
maturer period of life, after looking at various metrical versions of
the _Psalms_, I am well satisfied that the version used in Scotland is,
upon the whole, the best; and that it has in general a simplicity and
_unction_ of sacred Poesy; and in many parts its transfusion is
 'Burke and Reynolds are the same one day as another,' Johnson said,
_post_, under Sept. 22, 1777. Boswell celebrates Reynolds's 'equal and
placid temper,' _ante_, i. I. On Aug. 12, 1775, he wrote to Temple:--'It
is absurd to hope for continual happiness in this life; few men, if any,
enjoy it. I have a kind of belief that Edmund Burke does; he has so much
knowledge, so much animation, and the consciousness of so much fame.'
_Letters of Boswell_, p. 212.
 _ante_, i. 446.
 Baretti says, that 'Mrs. Thrale abruptly proposed to start for Bath,
as wishing to avoid the sight of the funeral. She had no man-friend to
go with her,' and so he offered his services. Johnson at that moment
arrived. 'I expected that he would spare me the jaunt, and go himself to
Bath with her; but he made no motion to that effect.' _European Mag_.
xiii. 315. It was on the evening of the 29th that Boswell found Johnson,
as he thought, not in very good humour. Yet on the 30th he wrote to Mrs.
Thrale, and called on Mr. Thrale. On April 1 and April 4 he again wrote
to Mrs. Thrale. He would have gone a second time, he says, to see Mr.
Thrale, had he not been made to understand that when he was wanted he
would be sent for. _Piozzi Letters_, i. 309-314.
 Pope, _Essay on Man_, iv. 390. Boswell twice more applies the same
line to Johnson, post, June 3, 1781, and under Dec. 13, 1784.
 Imlac consoles the Princess for the loss of Pekuah. 'When the
clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can
imagine how they will be dispelled; yet a new day succeeded to the
night, and sorrow is never long without a dawn of ease. But they who
restrain themselves from receiving comfort do as the savages would have
done, had they put out their eyes when it was dark.' _Rasselas_, ch. 35.
'Keep yourself busy,' wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, 'and you will in
time grow cheerful. New prospects may open, and new enjoyments may come
within your reach.' _Piozzi Letters_.
 See _ante_, i. 86. It was reprinted in 1789.
 See Boswell's _Hebrides_ under Nov. 11, 1773.
 See _post_, under April 29, 1776.
 In like manner he writes, 'I catched for the moment an enthusiasm
with respect to visiting the Wall of China.' _post_ April 10, 1778.
Johnson had had some desire to go upon Cook's expedition in 1772.
_ante_, March 21, 1772.
 Mme. D'Arblay (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, i. 284) describes 'the
perfect case with which Omai managed a sword which he had received from
the King, and which he had that day put on for the first time in order
to go to the House of Lords.' He is the 'gentle savage' in Cowpers
_Task_, i. 632.
 See ante, ii. 50.
 Voltaire (_Siecle de Louis XV_, ch. xv.), in his account of the
battle of Fontenoy, thus mentions him:--'On etait a cinquante pas de
distance.... Les officiers anglais saluerent les Francais en otant leurs
chapeaux.... Les officiers des gardes francaises leur rendirent le
salut, Mylord Charles Hay, capitaine aux gardes anglaises,
cria:--_Messieurs des gardes francaises, tirez_. Le comte d'Auteroche
leur dit a voix haute:--_Messieurs, nous ne tirons jamais les premiers;
 See _post_, 1780, in Mr. Langton's _Collection_. Hay was third in
command in the expedition to North America in 1757. It was reported that
he said that 'the nation's wealth was expended in making sham-fights and
planting cabbages.' He was put under arrest and sent home to be tried.
_Gent. Mag_. 1758, p. 170. Mr. Croker says that 'the real state of the
case was that he had gone mad, and was in that state sent home.' He died
before the sentence of the court-martial was promulgated. Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 497.
 In _Thoughts on the Coronation of George III_ (_Works_, v. 458) he
expressed himself differently, if indeed the passage is of his writing
(see _ante_, i. 361). He says: 'It cannot but offend every Englishman to
see troops of soldiers placed between him and his sovereign, as if they
were the most honourable of the people, or the King required guards to
secure his person from his subjects. As their station makes them think
themselves important, their insolence is always such as may be expected
from servile authority.' In his _Journey to the Hebrides_ (_ib_. ix. 30)
he speaks of 'that courtesy which is so closely connected with the
military character.' See _post_, April 10, 1778.
 'It is not in the power even of God to make a polite
soldier.' Meander; quoted by Hume, _Essays_, Part i. 20, note.
 In Johnson's Debates for 1741 (_Works_, x. 387) is on the
quartering of soldiers. By the Mutiny Act the innkeeper was required to
find each foot-soldier lodging, diet, and small beer for fourpence a
day. By the Act as amended that year if he furnished salt, vinegar,
small-beer, candles, fire, and utensils to dress their victuals, without
payment, he had not to supply diet except on a march. _Ib_. pp. 416,
420. The allowance of small-beer was fixed at five pints a day, though
it was maintained that it should be six. Lord Baltimore, according to
Johnson, said that 'as every gentleman's servants each consumed daily
six pints, it surely is not to be required that a soldier should live in
a perpetual state of warfare with his constitution.' _Ib_. p. 418.
Burke, writing in 1794, says:--'In quarters the innkeepers are obliged
to find for the soldiers lodging, fire, candle-light, small-beer, salt
and vinegar gratis.' Burke's _Corres_. iv. 258. Johnson wrote in 1758
(_Works_, vi. 150):--'The manner in which the soldiers are dispersed in
quarters over the country during times of peace naturally produces
laxity of discipline; they are very little in sight of their officers;
and when they are not engaged in the slight duty of the guard are
suffered to live every man his own way.' Fielding, in _Tom Jones_, bk.
ix. ch. 6, humourously describes an innkeeper's grievances.
 This alludes to the pleadings of a Stoic and an Epicurean for and
against the existence of the Divinity in Lucian's _Jupiter the Tragic_.
 'There is a time when every man is weary of raising difficulties
only to ask himself with the solution and desires to enjoy truth without
the labour or hazard of contest.' Johnson's _Works_, vi. 497. See _ante_
May 7, 1773, and _post_, April 3, 1779, where he says, 'Sir, you are to
a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe.'
Hume, in his Essay _Of Parties in General_, had written:--'Such is the
nature of the human mind, that it always takes hold of every mind that
approaches it; and as it is wonderfully fortified and corroborated by
an unanimity of sentiments, so is it, shocked and disturbed by any
contrariety.' 'Carlyle was fond of quoting a sentence of Novalis:--"My
conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in
it."' _Saturday Review_, No. 1538, p. 521. 'The introducing of new
doctrines,' said Bacon, 'is an affectation of tyranny over the
understandings and beliefs of men.' Bacon's _Nat. Hist_., Experiment
 'We must own,' said Johnson, 'that neither a dull boy, nor an idle
boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 22, 1773. See _ante_, under Dec. 5, 1775. On June 16,
1784, he said of a very timid boy:--'Placing him at a public school is
forcing an owl upon day.' Lord Shelburne says that the first Pitt told
him 'that his reason for preferring private to public education was,
that he scarce observed a boy who was not cowed for life at Eton; that a
public school might suit a boy of a turbulent forward disposition, but
would not do where there was any gentleness.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_,
 'There are,' wrote Hume in 1767, 'several advantages of a Scots
education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not
counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English.' He
decides it does. He continues:--'The only inconvenience is, that few
Scotsmen that have had an English education have ever settled cordially
in their own country; and they have been commonly lost ever after to
their friends.' J.H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 403.
 He wrote to Temple on Nov. 28, 1789:--'My eldest son has been at
Eton since the 15th of October. You cannot imagine how miserable he has
been; he wrote to me for some time as if from the galleys, and
intreated me to come to him.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 314. On July 21,
1790, he wrote of his second son who was at home ill:--'I am in great
concern what should be done with him, for he is so oppressed at
Westminster School by the big boys that I am almost afraid to send him
thither.' _Ib_. p. 327. On April 6, 1791, he wrote:--'Your little friend
James is quite reconciled to Westminster.' _Ib_. p. 337. Southey, who
was at Westminster with young Boswell, describes 'the capricious and
dangerous tyranny' under which he himself had suffered. Southey's
_Life_, i. 138.
 Horace, Satires, i. 6. 65-88.
 Dr. Adam Smith, who was for some time a Professor in the
University of Glasgow, has uttered, in his _Wealth of Nations_ [v. I,
iii. 2], some reflections upon this subject which are certainly not well
founded, and seem to be invidious. BOSWELL.
 See _ante,_ ii. 98.
 Gibbon denied this. 'The diligence of the tutors is voluntary, and
will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their
parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change,' _Misc.
Works_, i. 54. Of one of his tutors he wrote:--'He well remembered that
he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to
perform.' _Ib_. p. 58. Boswell, _post_, end of Nov. 1784, blames Dr.
Knox for 'ungraciously attacking his venerable _Alma Mater_.' Knox, who
was a Fellow of St. John's, left Oxford in 1778. In his _Liberal
Education_, published in 1781, he wrote:--'I saw immorality, habitual
drunkenness, idleness and ignorance, boastingly obtruding themselves on
public view.' Knox's _Works_, iv. 138. 'The general tendency of the
universities is favourable to the diffusion of ignorance, idleness,
vice, and infidelity among young men.' _Ib_. p. 147. 'In no part of the
kingdom will you meet with more licentious practices and sentiments, and
with less learning than in some colleges.' _Ib_. p. 179. 'The tutors
give what are called lectures. The boys construe a classic, the jolly
young tutor lolls in his elbow-chair, and seldom gives himself the
trouble of interrupting the greatest dunce.' _Ib_. p. 199. 'Some
societies would have been glad to shut themselves up by themselves, and
enjoy the good things of the cook and manciple, without the intrusion of
commoners who come for education.' _Ib_. p. 200. 'The principal thing
required is external respect from the juniors. However ignorant or
unworthy a senior fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated
as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty.' _Ib_. p. 201.
The Proctors gave far 'more frequent reprimands to the want of a band,
or to the hair tied in queue, than to important irregularities. A man
might be a drunkard, a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's
animadversion; but no virtue could protect you if you walked on
Christ-church meadow or the High Street with a band tied too low, or
with no band at all; with a pig-tail, or with a green or scarlet coat.'
_Ib_. p. 159. Only thirteen weeks' residence a year was required. _Ib_.
p. 172. The degree was conferred without examination. _Ib_. p. 189.
After taking it 'a man offers himself as a candidate for orders. He is
examined by the Bishop's chaplain. He construes a few verses in the
Greek testament, and translates one of the articles from Latin into
English. His testimonial being received he comes from his jolly
companions to the care of a large parish.' _Ib_. p. 197. Bishop Law gave
in 1781 a different account of Cambridge. There, he complains, such was
the devotion to mathematics, that 'young men often sacrifice their whole
stock of strength and spirits, and so entirely devote most of their
first few years to what is called _taking a good degree_, as to be
hardly good for anything else.' Preface to Archbishop King's _Essay on
the Origin of Evil_, p. xx.
 According to Adam Smith this is true only of the Protestant
countries. In Roman Catholic countries and England where benefices are
rich, the church is continually draining the universities of all their
ablest members. In Scotland and Protestant countries abroad, where a
chair in a university is generally a better establishment than a
benefice, by far the greater part of the most eminent men of letters
have been professors. _Wealth of Nations_, v. i. iii. 3.
 See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 17, 1773.
 Dr. Goldsmith was dead before Mr. Maclaurin discovered the